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The first of my two Rare Women fic exchange entries. Find the rest of the wonderful stories here.

Title: First Daughter
Fandom: The West Wing
Characters: Zoey Bartlet, Amy Gardner
Rating: PG
Words: 1,617
Disclaimer: I don't own anything in this unofficial fanwork, nor do I claim to or profit in any way.
Summary: Post-Series, Zoey Bartlet has decided to forgo politics completely, but Amy Gardner brings her an offer that just might bring her back into the political arena.
A/N: Written for Emily ([personal profile] anomilygrace), for the 2013 [livejournal.com profile] rarewomen fic exchange.

Miranda Santos had a detail of twelve Secret Service agents. She went to public school in a motorcade and slept in the White House and she stood behind her father when he spoke, waving at cameras and wearing pretty dresses designed just for her. She lived in the most beautiful cage in the world, gilded and polished and bright, but a cage nonetheless, made of pure iron and stone. Zoey Bartlet knew about that cage better than anyone.
Sometimes, even though it has been a few years since her father left office, Zoey will wake up in an empty apartment and marvel at her still surprising freedom. When she had been the First Daughter she’d gone nowhere alone, following a schedule (class, lunch, class, interview, dinner with a preapproved classmate, back to her dorm room) like choreography while the Secret Service held her leash. Now that she was just Zoey Bartlett (not President Bartlett’s youngest girl, not the First Daughter, not just a tragic kidnapping victim) she got to be a real person (with a real job, a real apartment, a real boyfriend, a real life) and it felt free in a way that, growing up as the candidate’s daughter, she never knew she could feel.
She met Amy Gardner for lunch every Thursday and Charlie came over as often as he could. (She was planning to invite him to move in with her when Deena goes off to college, but she wasn’t in any rush these days. She had the entire world before her.) She called Ellie and Elizabeth every so often, sent her parents the occasional letter (because her father had taught her well that anything worth saying could be said by post), and drove to Manchester every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and 4th of July, because family was important. She had pretty much cut ties with the rest of the Democratic Party (except for CJ and Danny, who took her and Charlie out to dinner every time they were in DC, and Mallory, who still called every now and then just to talk, even if they weren’t as close as they were in their youth, when they played together while their parents talked politics), because she wasn’t interested in playing her father’s games. She didn’t go to political benefits or White House galas, politely declined all of Matt Santos’s event invitations, and didn’t give interviews. Zoey Bartlet had had more than enough politics years before, thank you very much.
And Zoey had made that incredibly clear, ever since her father left office, and so Amy caught her completely off guard, asking casual questions over a table at their usual Thursday lunch restaurant. “Are you being serious?” Zoey asked, a surprised laugh rising unbidden in her throat.
“I’m absolutely being serious,” Amy replied, staring directly at Zoey. “I want you to take this job. You could make a difference, Zoey, and NOW needs women like you.”
“I’m not interested in politics, Amy,” Zoey looked down, watching her coffee swirl as she idly spun her drinking straw. She didn’t want to meet Amy’s confrontational, expecting stare, didn’t want to hear her arguments of why Zoey needed politics, why the Party needed her. Honest to God, Zoey had already heard enough about duty to the Party to last her a lifetime.
“Like Hell you’re not interested in politics!” Amy accused, leaning toward her over the table. Amy was too loud and too crass for this restaurant, but she didn’t care at all for that. Amy had never been the type to believe in conformity or convention or manners for the sake of manners, so she said what she thought and went after what she wanted and did what she believed she should. Zoey thought that was terribly brave and admirable, but it was a tendency that had won Amy as many enemies as it had friends, and there were some circles in which she was nothing short of the least liked woman in Washington.
“You’re a civil rights lawyer, for God’s sake, Zoey!” Amy continued, waving an arm in the air for emphasis. “Everything you do is political!”
“I’m not a politician. I just want to help people out,” Zoey sighed. This wasn’t the first time she’d had this particular discussion (though it was the first time she’d had it with Amy) and her reasoning was beginning to sound defensive and weak, even to her own ears.
“I’m not asking you to become a politician. I hate politicians. They are actually my least favorite type of person. This is NOW, not the DNC.”
“The difference isn’t as big to those of us on the outside, Amy. They’re both playing the same game.”
“Since when are you on the outside?” Amy scoffed, rolling her eyes at Zoey. “You know how this goes. The DNC is playing for itself, but NOW is playing to win for every woman in this country, and quite a number of international women, too. You said you want to help people, didn’t you? Here’s your chance.”
“I am helping people,” Zoey insisted, getting her metaphorical feet back under her. For all of her misgivings and confusions when it came to her involvement in politics, Zoey was certain that what she was doing needed done. Zoey had been raised on the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, knew her civil rights the way she knew her phone number, and she was protecting other people’s rights every day. She’d never done anything more important in her life.
“I know, Zoey,” Amy agreed, leaning forward to stare earnestly at the younger woman. “But you can’t help these people when the laws are against them. And you can’t change those laws from your office in Morgan, Hood, and Associates, or wherever the hell you work. I can never keep those places, or firms or whatever, apart. Too many names.
“That’s unimportant. The point is that women don’t have the same civil rights that men do, and all the court hearings in the world won’t fix that. Zoey,” Amy exclaimed, slamming one hand down on the wooded table top. “If you want to help people, then go to NOW, and be a lobbyist. Go to the Hill and make them change the laws. Make the government help everybody, not just the men. That’s how you can help people.”
“I’m not sure, Amy,” Zoey sighed. “I like my job, a lot, and I know that I’m helping people. And, I’m not saying that NOW sounds bad, but I don’t want to be just a former president’s daughter anymore. I just want to be Zoey Bartlet who graduated from Georgetown with a law degree, not the old First Daughter.”
“I won’t lie to you, Zoey,” Amy answered her quietly. “For a while, you’ll be President Bartlet’s youngest daughter, but not forever. As soon as you prove you’re as good as I know you are people will stop questioning if you got the job by skill or nepotism. Pretty soon, they’ll be calling your dad ‘Zoey Bartlet’s father.’
“I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, Amy.”
“Maybe not,” Amy conceded, “but you could change the world Zoey. People would listen to you like they’ve never listened to NOW before. You could lobby the Hill until we’re all equal, because you could make those old white men finally sit up and understand that the world is wider than they are. Or, you could stay at your law firm and do your best at playing by the outdated, unfair laws. It’s up to you, really.”
“Amy…” Zoey sighed, but before she could argue, Amy interrupted again.
“Don’t make a decision now, okay, Zoey? Snap decisions are always bad, and we both know it. Call me in a couple of days, or whenever you’re ready, and let me know.”
“Thanks, Amy,” Zoey sighed, absently watching her spoon as she stirred her coffee. “I really will think about it.”
“Thank you,” Amy smiled, looking a little more hopeful than she had this entire conversation. “If it means anything to you, I think you’d be perfect for this job.”
“That does mean something,” Zoey smiled, looking up to meet her old family friend’s eyes.
“I’ve got to get back to the office,” Amy apologized, gathering her things together and rising to her feet, “but call me whenever you’re ready. And don’t be afraid to say ‘no,’ if you really don’t want the job.”
“Okay,” Zoey waved as Amy began to walk off. “See you next Thursday?”
“Oh, absolutely,” Amy called over her shoulder before disappearing through the restaurant doors into the chaos of downtown DC.
Zoey sat quietly for a few minutes, stirring her now cool coffee and thinking about Amy’s offer. She’d wanted nothing to do with politics, that was true, but this wasn’t the type of politics she’d grown to hate at all. This wasn’t making compromises you didn’t believe in and lying through your teeth and playing nice with the opposition, this was saying exactly what she wanted, describing how she wanted to get it, and not taking no for an answer. This was making the changes she’d grown up wishing somebody would make and making the “land of the free” just a little bit freer for the 50% who were born into the second class gender. This was everything she dreamed of doing in her current job, but with the political muscle to see those things happen. This was the greatest opportunity she’d had in a long time.
Zoey picked up her phone and scrolled through the contents, her lips involuntarily curving into an excited smile. “Hey, Amy?” she greeted when the other woman picked up. “I think I want the job.”
fin.
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