Just a little snippet from Ginger's point of view of the shooting...

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Just Enough

It was supposed to be a triumph. It was supposed to be a celebration of the President's new popularity. It wasn't supposed to end like this.

Toby had run us all ragged today, looking for facts and figures that nobody was going to want to know. All so the President could go into the town hall meeting fully and completely prepared. By eight, I was ready to tell Toby where to go and what to do with himself when he got there. Not only is Toby a pain in the ass, but he's an intense pain in the ass.

I finally managed to get home when everybody trooped over to the Newseum. I could have gone, but I had seen President Bartlett do this a thousand times. I could watch it on television if I felt like watching.

I didn't really feel like watching, but I put the television on anyway. It made background noise as I ate a late dinner. I was just putting the dishes into the dishwasher when I heard the television come on with a special news report. I ran to the living room, wanting to know what sort of crisis I was going to have to deal with tomorrow. Today had been bad enough, between the Iraqis shooting down a stealth fighter and the whole thing with Toby's brother on the space shuttle. Maybe Iraq had invaded somebody again.

I wasn't expecting what I saw. The video was terrible; I couldn't tell what was happening. All I knew was the fact that shots had been fired at the President and his entourage.

It took ten full minutes before I realised what had happened. Somebody had shot at the President and his staff. I felt my heart sink to my toes and tried to think of what to do. I wanted to hide under a pile of blankets and forget that this had ever happened. I wanted to scream. I wanted to help out. Mostly, I wanted to know.

It took forever to find my shoes, even longer to find my car keys. I threw on a coat and I think I locked my door as I left.

The drive to the White House was a blur. I know the way in my sleep; with the hours I work, I have to.

I have never seen so much security at the White House. My hands were shaking as I searched for my ID. I simply could not dig it out of my purse. There were so many other things in there; lipstick, keys, bits of paper, receipts, pens and all sorts of other things. My ID was there, I'm sure, but I didn't manage to dig it out before Jerry wandered by and told the guard at the gate to let me in.

I made it to the west wing and to the office in a daze. Everybody else seemed to be in a daze themselves. I saw Bonnie and felt a little better. She didn't seem to know much. The President had been hit, but not seriously. The rest of the staff seemed to be okay, as far as she knew. I asked what she was doing there and she didn't have an answer.

I heard a noise behind me and turned around. There, in rolled up shirtsleeves and looking more rumpled than usual, was Toby, my pain in the ass boss.

He said something to me, and I stammered something back. Then he did something so totally unexpected that I nearly wept. He gathered me close in a warm hug.

Of all the people in the office, he was the last person I would have suspected to know just exactly what I needed right then, and the last person I would have suspected to actually do it. I needed, if only for a moment, to be held. And I think he needed to hold somebody.

Toby gives good hugs. Warm and enfolding without smothering or demanding. I just buried my face in his shoulder for a moment, revelling in the strength he was offering. We would get through this, he told me silently.

The feminist inside me rebels at the thought, but I admit I was glad to have a man to lean on when I needed it. And I knew, in that brief moment with Toby's arms around me, that I would be capable of supporting the ones who needed me tonight.

We released each other after a moment, let go without any embarrassment or shame, and he turned to go back to work. I turned, too, to find out what needed doing on my part. I heard him ask if I had said something. I denied it; I hadn't. He shrugged and went back into his office, but in a brief moment, I realised that he was as scared and confused as I was.

That sustained me. If he could hold on and make sense of this, so could I. And, as I turned back to the rest of the office staff, I realised that they, too, needed a hug. So I passed on that moment of support to Bonnie. Not too much sentiment in it, since we had to be strong. But just enough to know that we weren't alone in this. Just enough to hold us together when we needed it most.


-- Adrienne ar895@freenet.carleton.ca



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