Fandom: West Wing
Spoilers: Eppur Si Muove
Word Count: 677
Notes: For the “pride” challenge.
This is the first time that Wesley has seen Ellie in months, and it’s hardly the way he imagined.
In his imaginings, he wasn’t in New Hampshire, looking at her broadcasting from the White House Press Briefing Room. In his imaginings, she was looking up at him, grinning with that smile that always made his heart skip a beat, had ever since the first time he met her.
“If you’re such a hot-shot, why did they exile you to Baltimore?”
“I made fun of Notre Dame.”
In his imaginings, her hand was holding his; it wasn’t clenched tight around the edges of the lectern, and he wonders idly why he’s so sure that her knuckles are white when he can’t even see them.
Then he realises it’s because he knows her as well as he knows himself, and these are the kind of things that he just knows.
In his imaginings, her eyes are sparkling with life and laughter, her cheeks flushed with happiness, but in reality, her cheeks are pale, her eyes serious and troubled, not a little fearful.
Still though, he can’t help but think that she looks beautiful, her business suit a shade of pale blue that he’s always liked on her, though, it must be noted, not as much as what she wears, or rather doesn’t, in his imaginings.
All things considered, he much prefers his imagination, but in the last few years, he’s learned to make do with a paler imitation of reality.
Besides, if he needed any confirmation that reality is far from his imaginings, then it’s on the television screen in front of him. He would have said, without any shadow of doubt, that the chances of Ellie Bartlet ever giving a public speech from the White House podium, her views being aired on television, in newspapers all around the world, were absolutely nil. She hated the publicity that came with being the President’s daughter, hated the cameras, the security that were part and parcel of her everyday life, and she wasn’t a bit shy about admitting it. Elizabeth had campaigned vigorously for their father, was a regular on the New Hampshire political scene along with her husband, and even Zoey, after some initial teething problems, accepted that her life was public property, had made some speeches, given some interviews, all with her father’s approval.
Ellie was another story entirely. She shied away from the cameras, complained about media intrusion vociferously, and the one and only time that she had spoken to a reporter, it had led to a political brouhaha that had her father summoning her to Washington and ignited a minor political firestorm. She’d told him all about it, a few months’ distance giving her the ability to smile at it, but she’d sworn up and down that that was to be her last foray into the public arena.
She’d said it, and he’d known from the set of her jaw, the look in her eyes, that she’d meant it.
Yet there she was anyway, standing up for what she believed in.
He’s surprised at what she’s doing, although not that she’s capable of it. He’s long held the opinion that Ellie can do anything she sets her mind to, and he’s got personal experience with what she looks like when she’s got her heart set on something, when she’s good and passionate about it. He’s got rather more experience of that than he has any right to have, and that’s something that he should regret, but he doesn’t.
He doesn’t regret one second of his time with her, and if this is as close as he gets to her nowadays, then he’ll have to live with that.
So he watches her on the television and he listens to what other people are saying, about how surprised they were, how unlike Ellie it was. He smiles, because he knows better, and he keeps their secret, all the while wishing that he could tell her how damn proud he is of her.
Not today, but maybe, he thinks, someday.