Actions

Work Header

Grace Like Jackie

Work Text:

It was supposed to be a routine rope line - even if the Secret Service had been trying to phase out rope lines, Brock and Quinn had insisted on it. Gun Control was an issue they cared a lot about - it was Quinn’s issue she picked to focus on as First Lady - and they were going to meet the people who came out to voice their support. It was routine. They’d done it hundreds of times during Brock’s career - hell, during the careers of their parents. It was routine.

 

Three gunshots.

 

Brock struggled against his Secret Service Agents as he looked around for his wife.

 

Then he saw her. Laying on the ground. Bleeding. And he fought harder against his Agents. Fought to get to her side until he was slammed into the Beast and the door was shut as he was taken away from the threat.

 

“Quinn -”

 

“She’s breathing, sir,” the lead agent told him, “they’re calling a bus for her now. The shooter is in custody. He didn’t get far.”

 

“Take me to the hospital.”

 

“Protocol says we take you back the West Wing and secure the White House -”

 

“I don’t give a damn about protocol. I am the President of the United States and you will take me to my wife!”

 

******

 

Brock was mad. Mommy and Daddy made him put on this suit and made him come to this stupid party and they weren’t even paying attention to him. He didn’t know why Nanny couldn’t come to watch him. He didn’t know Senator Jackson. His daddy didn’t even like Senator Jackson. He heard him call the man a lot of bad words when his parents thought he was sleeping. But Mommy said that when a man like Senator Jackson dies, everyone has to pay their respects.

 

And Mommy had said there would be other kids there but Brock was the only one. Until Senator Hughes and his wife entered. Brock had met him a couple of times, the Senator got elected the same year as his daddy did and they worked together a lot.

 

“I hope we’re not too late,” Senator Hughes gave a tired smile as he greeted Brock’s dad, “our Nanny forgot she was supposed to come over to watch Jack and Luke tonight and Luke is running a bit of a temperature so she threw a fit while we were trying to get out of the door. And of course, Jack didn’t like that Quinn was coming with us and not staying with them. We’ve talked to the Nanny about making sure the girls spend time apart. Jack is getting too attached to her sister.”

 

Brock tuned him out and noticed the little girl hiding behind Mrs. Hughes. She had dark hair and pretty eyes. She looked around Brock’s age and she smiled softly when he waved hello.

 

“Quinn, this is Brock,” Senator Hughes seemed to almost push Quinn out from behind her mom, “he’s Senator Boeser’s son.”

 

“Hi,” she said softly.

 

“Hi,” Brock replied.

 

******

 

The waiting room was cleared and Brock was taken through and to a private - secure - waiting room and over his shoulder he saw the ambulance holding his wife arrive and had to be pushed forward.

 

He didn’t have to call the family. The family knew. The First Lady being shot - including live footage of the shooting and aftermath - were being played on a loop all over the country. All over the world. 

 

Jim and Ellen were led into the room about thirty minutes later. Then Luke - she walked right past her parents and Brock and over to the far side of the room.

 

Then Jack, the whirlwind of wild energy that usually followed her more panicked and manic than it usually was, came tearing in wearing pjs with her hair a mess and right over to Luke.

 

“How is she?” Jack asked, hugging her little sister tightly, “Do you have an update?”

 

“She’s in surgery,” Brock replied softly, eyes fixed on his coffee cup.

 

Quinn’s sisters never liked him much and he was positive that if he looked up one or both of them would be glaring at him. They had thought he was the reason their sister was running herself ragged like anyone has ever made Quinn do anything she…. She had wanted to put the hours in on this bill.

 

“Really, Jaqueline,” Ellen gave her a critical glance over.

 

“You couldn’t have gotten dressed first?” Jim asked, looking over Jack’s outfit, “You’re a Hughes, Jaqueline. That means something in DC.”

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t do full hair and make-up, my sister was just shot!” Jack fired back at her dad, “It’s your fault she’s in there! This is all your fault!”

 

******

 

As they grew up, Quinn and Brock relied on each other to get through the parties and events and seemingly endless campaigning. And as they grew up, they grew closer. It was no secret that they would end up together - it was carefully orchestrated by their parents: Brock was to be a Senator and then President and Quinn was to be the beautiful woman at his side. 

 

They knew that was the plan. But the affection they felt for each other was real. It had always been real. Brock was amazed by the beautiful, intelligent, opinionated girl Quinn was. They grew together, as people and as a couple.

 

College was an experience for them. They grew up in the spotlight, everyone knew who they were and they didn’t know who to trust. They both had to have the “Dad, I’m a Democrat” talk and her parents blamed Brock for making their Perfect Republican Daughter a ‘bleeding heart libral’ like Quinn hadn’t always had those thoughts and feelings and never felt like she could share them.

 

When they graduated - Quinn as valedictorian and Brock was the proudest person in the room - they went backpacking through Europe, they had worked the entire school year to get their parents to agree to it, and when they were in the Swiss Alps, Brock proposed.

 

When they got back from the trip, they moved to DC where they had both gotten job offers before they had even graduated. Brock was working as an aide one of the Senators from Minnesota, who had unseated his father’s former colleague, and Quinn as a Speechwriter for the First Lady.

 

They were happy, both doing what they had wanted to do. 

 

Jack and Luke were not happy. Their whole lives they had lived with two Quinns - the Quinn who was a good little girl and did as she was told and the Quinn who showed up when it just her and her sisters. And they wanted that Quinn around all the time. That Quinn was smart and opinionated. That Quinn was comfortable in her own skin and easy to make smile and laugh. 

 

And they blamed Brock.

 

They didn’t know that Brock got that Quinn. They didn’t know that Quinn always smiled sweetly and laughed delightedly for him. They didn’t know that their Quinn was his Quinn. 

 

Despite being more or less pushed together, he and Quinn loved each other. They had grown up together, their relationship had grown with them. Brock always strove to put her first.

 

When it came time that she needed to quit her job so he could run for Senate, she did it. She traveled across Minnesota with him for his campaign. She put up with donors and their wives. She put up with seemingly endless campaign events. She shook hands and smiled for pictures. She ignored the rumors swirling of his infidelity - he had never strayed from her and she knew that.

 

Their marriage became something his political opponents chose to try to pick apart - and would continue to try to pick apart. But they were strong. They trusted each other. They had been together for so long that nothing could shake them. Brock still looked at her like she the best thing God had ever created. She still looked at him like he was her world.

 

It wasn’t always perfect. They had their fights. She didn’t quit her job without putting one up. There were Events she didn’t want to go to. There were nights where Brock was stuck at the Capitol until all hours of the night. 

 

But the biggest one came when he announced that Quinn was pregnant during a fundraising event. Quinn had just gotten past the miscarriage window and she hadn’t even told her family. She bit her lip and smiled sweetly whenever anyone came up to her throughout the evening. She knew it would be flashed all over the new media the next day, if it wasn’t already. Everyone knew Brock was gearing up to run for President. One term in the Senate and he was already the future of the Democratic party.

 

He had apologized as soon as they were in the hotel room. Told her that his advisors thought it would be a good idea. America loves babies and to have a baby in the White House - a young family as the first family - would appeal to Undecideds.

 

“You’re not running yet, Brock,” she reminded him, “The primaries haven’t even started yet and you want our family to be billed as the second coming of JFK and Jackie?”

 

“Quinn -”

 

“We both know what happened to them. I don’t want that to be us.”

 

“It won’t. We’re going to grow old together, Quinn, I promise. I love you. Only you. And our family will always come first.

 

A week later, Brock officially announced and Quinn knew he was going to win.

 

******

 

Jack and her father’s yelling faded to the background - Jack and Luke blamed their parents for pushing Quinn into ‘this life’. Which they did, just like Brock’s father pushed him into this life as well. But that didn’t mean they didn’t really love each other.

 

Brock had to get up before that accusation got thrown out there. He was never going to get Jack or Luke’s approval. No one was good enough for Quinn their eyes, but definitely not him.

 

He found himself wandering the halls until he got to the doors leading to the room her surgery was being performed in.

 

He never should have gone along with her suggestion of a rope line. But she had wanted it and he had been a shitty husband so he threw his weight as President around to get it approved.

 

It was his fault she was in there.

 

******

 

Quinn’s first day as first lady was overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. She knew her way around the White House, her father had been close to the President when she was younger. He had a son her age. So whenever she and Brock were stuck there for hours, he would show them around - namely the secret passageways.

 

What was overwhelming is that the advisors brought on by Brock’s Chief of Staff - Connor Garland - weren’t meant to be her advisors. They were meant to pass along what Garland wanted Quinn’s ‘pet projects’ to be. Garland wasn’t Brock’s first choice, he wasn’t even on the long list let along the short list, but he was who the Establishment wanted and if Brock didn’t want to spend his Presidency fighting with the Republicans as well as his own Party, he needed to make him Chief of Staff.

 

What was underwhelming was the projects her advisors suggested. Gardens, healthy eating, being more active, renovating parts of the White House (proving that Brock’s team really wanted them to lean into the comparisons with the Kennedys). They wanted Quinn in the Fashion Magazines, writing op eds for parenting magazines. The reporters that would be invited to her press conferences were from tabloids and fashion magazines.

 

Garland wanted Quinn to be Jackie. And she bit her lip for that first term.

 

She quietly reviewed Brock’s speeches - she was a speechwriter and Brock wanted her to have final say on all his speeches. He always had. His Communications staff was used to getting the speeches back with her notes as they were mostly holdovers from his Senate staff. He had firmly told Garland that that wasn’t going to change. 

 

She was Brock’s moral compass. His reminder of why he ran for office. His reminder that under all the media training, he was still her Brock.

 

She spent as much time as possible being a mom to their little boy.

 

She brought in her own ‘advisor’. Elias - Petey - was a friend of hers and Brock’s from college. Their best friend. He was probably the only person who saw all the lows and highs of their relationship and there was no one she trusted more than him except him. And he was the only member of her staff that was fully on her side. He kept her sane. He stood up for her interest. 

 

He reminded Quinn of who is was before she became just the First Lady.

 

******

 

Brock stopped short in front of the doors to the OR they were operating on Quinn in. He slid down the wall across from those doors and buried his head in his hands. On the other side of the door, his wife was fighting for her life.

 

“Please, God,” he whispered, eyes filling with tears, “please don’t take her from me. Don’t take her from our boys. Don’t take her from her sisters. We all need her so much. I… I can’t do this job without her. I can’t do anything without her. Just… I need her.”

 

“Hey.”

 

Brock jumped as he looked up and found Jack. He wiped the fallen tears and asked, “How are you doing?”

 

“I’m a mess,” Jack replied honestly, “between having my sister in the operating room and having to deal with my father blaming you for corrupting his oldest daughter - his perfect daughter - and my mother wondering why I look like a disaster…. How are you doing?”

 

“Not much better,” Brock replied, refocusing his attention on the OR doors.

 

“Secret Service let you out of their sight?”

 

“I’m sure they’ll track me down soon,” Brock replied, “Yours and Luke’s argument with your parents distracted them. Especially Luke threatening to throw her shoe.”

 

“She learned that from me,” Jack replied, sinking down to the floor next to him, “Quinn would never do anything that undignified.”

 

“She has,” Brock replied, laughing at the shocked look on Jack’s face, “She’s just more discrete than you. We…. we had a tight group of friends in college. So we still partied it up, but we did it in the privacy of an apartment or a packed frat house where there were too many people for us to get noticed. She once got in a debate with this utter douchebag who kept saying that Trickle Down Economics works. And you know Quinn - anything related the Reagan’s pisses her off. So she got right in his face. And when he called her soft, she threw her full beer in his face.”

 

“Really?” Jack asked, eyes wide.

 

“Yeah,” Brock replied, “She has this whole other side that she doesn’t let anyone see. She feels like she needs to be the Perfect Daughter. Says it gives you and Luke to have the freedom to be who you want to be.”

 

“It does,” Jack admitted, “I… I was a mess in college. Still am. I was making front pages of tabloids and making sure I was seen being a disaster because I wanted to piss my parents off. Quinn’s way of rejecting how we grew up was conforming to the image they wanted while learning that there was more to the world, learning what people really needed. She was learning to look the part while forming what she wanted to do to try to improve the lives of the less fortunate. I was getting drunk and getting in bar fights and flashing cameras.”

 

“I don’t like you, Brock,” Jack admitted, looking at her hands.

 

“I know.” Brock replied, “Neither does Luke.”

 

“You don’t know why though,” Jack replied, “We look at the person Quinn is when she’s not with just me and Luke and she’s unrecognizable. She’s this prim and proper woman in Quinn’s skin. She’s this cookie cutter political wife. We see the coverage of her. We see her exhausted on the campaign trail and trying to stay awake during speeches. We see her pushing herself. We see her essentially acting as a single mother because you can’t always be around. We see her hurting because the only time she’s seen you is when she tied your tie in the morning. To us? It looks like she’s just another entry on your resume - you’re married to a woman who would make a perfect First Lady. She helped you get elected because of that image. Both times Brock. You announced her three pregnancies during campaign events.”

 

“I know how that looks,” Brock replied, “And Quinn read me the riot act for it the second and third time. We… we didn’t time the pregnancies to happen during the campaigns, they just did. And I was just excited. I… there is nothing I love more than Quinn and our boys. We… we’re going to try for a girl once I leave Office.  And I tried to get Quinn to take it easy. But she insisted. And I don’t have to tell you how stubborn she is.”

 

“She really loves you,” Jack replied, “I never got it. I never got why you. And I still don’t. But. I realized tonight, dealing with my parents and watching you trying to keep it together, to ignore the fact that you know my father will be on Fox News in morning saying that if you hadn’t pushed for gun control my sister wouldn’t have been shot, that my hatred of you is misplaced. I hate my parents for raising Quinn to think the way she does. For pushing the two of you together and pushing political ambitions on both of.”

 

“My parents were doing the same thing,” Brock replied.

 

“I know,” Jack replied.

 

“You know what Quinn and I were talking about on our way to the Event tonight?

 

“What?”

 

“Taking a family trip all over the country, visiting all the National Parks in the country - including Alaska and Hawaii - with the boys before going home. Getting one of those RVs for the drive. To the Lake. Try to figure out if it would be feasible to live there year-round or if we need to settle down somewhere else. About getting the fuck away from DC and politics. Quinn can go back to speechwriting. She can do that from anywhere and it’s what she loves. And I can just be a husband and father to make up for the time I haven’t been able to spend doing that. We were so excited.”

 

“You’ll get that,” Jack replied, taking his hand, “Quinn is too stubborn to give up. Especially when a bill she wrote is going to floor and she needs to help you whip votes for it.”

 

“I don’t whip votes -”

 

“Sure you don’t. You just call Congressmen and Senators who are on the fence and invite them to dinners at the White House or a round of golf.”

 

Brock laughed and squeezed her hand, “We should get back before they realize I’m gone.”

 

“Mr. President!” an exasperated voice called.

 

“Sup, Petey?” Brock grinned at the blond.

 

“Don’t ‘sup’ me, Boes,” Petey rolled his eyes, “I’ve been covering for you but your Agents are getting antsy.”

 

“We’re heading back.”

 

“Hey, Boes?”

 

“Yeah, Pete?”

 

“Quinn’s gonna make it, right?”

 

Brock took a look at Petey and saw that he looked almost as worse off as Brock was and said, “She’s too stubborn not to.”

 

Petey gave an exhausted, tight smile and said, “Damn right she is.”



******

 

Brock didn’t know where his suit jacket was, his dress shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, his tie was loosened and crooked, his hair was a mess and his eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep and crying when the doctor came and said that Quinn was awake and alert and that he could see her. He had never run so fast.

 

“Hey, you,” she smiled softly, eyes barely open and voice rough.

 

“Quinn,” he breathed out, practically collapsing in relief.

 

“You look terrible, babe,” her smile grew.

 

“I didn’t have you to tie my tie,” he replied, matching her smile.

 

“What would you do without me?”

 

“Let’s never find out.”