Title: Wrong Decisions
Author: Annika Simpson
Category: Drama, romance, angst, h/c, AU (slightly). Sam/Lisa, Josh/Donna.
Summary: A face from Sam's past appears sending his life into turmoil and causing him to re-evaluate his life.
Spoilers: 'In the Shadow of Two Gunmen', 'The Drop In'. I can't think of any others. This is is set some time after 'The Drop In' in season two.
Disclaimer: The West Wing and its characters are the property of Aaron Sorkin etc. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author.
Archive: Just let me know if you want it.
Feedback: Yes please. Constructive criticism is welcome, but no flames. I'm working on a sequel to this, but please tell me if I should keep on writing it.
Author's Notes: The idea for this fic came to me some time ago and I've finally finished writing it. This is slightly AU as I know that in season 3 Lisa appears in one of the episodes but as I haven't seen the episode, or any of season 3 (England hasn't received it yet) I'm feigning unawareness of the fact that I know about it :). Everything else is pretty much canon. For those of you have seen the said episode, just try and forget that you have for the duration of this read.
Anyway, enough of that, on with the tale...
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
He watched her leave. The door to their, now his, apartment closing. His gaze lingered for what seemed like an eternity on the door, hoping that this was all some kind of bad joke, but the door never opened.
He looked at the ring in his hand. It was all over. They had parted, each starting a new life, one that did not include each other.
"I'm sorry," she had said as she took off the ring and placed it in the palm of is hand. "It's for the best. You want this job and I'm not going to keep you from that."
"Lisa," he said, trying hard to make sense of what was happening. They had been happy together, hadn't they?
"I'm sorry," she said again. She gave a small smile and wiped away a tear that had rolled down her cheek. "Who knows, maybe next I'll see you Sam Seaborn will be as a member of the new president's staff." And with that she had left. Picking up her suitcase and coat she had left.
"Wait-" but his voice betrayed him and all he could do was watch the door close behind her.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
It had been a few years now but he could still remember the day as if it had been yesterday. He had never thought that he would see her again, that was, until two weeks ago when he had literally bumped into her at a restaurant. She didn't look any different, a few years older yes, her hair a little shorter, but it was the same Lisa Quinn, the woman he had planned to marry.
It had been awkward, both not knowing what to say. They had made small talk from which he had found out that she had a job as a reporter for the BBC news in England. She had come to Washington a month ago temporarily to cover the political arena as her colleague, who was the usual political correspondent, was on her honeymoon. In the end he had been called away by his pager going off. He never told anyone about the encounter, not even Josh.
Now here he was, Sam Seaborn, Deputy Communications Director for the White House, two weeks later, walking into a quaint cafe in downtown Washington DC. She had called him at work this morning saying that she needed to talk. He had agreed and now here he was.
He glanced at his watch. He had an hour before he was supposed to be back at work. Scanning the many faces his eyes settled on one that was familiar. Dodging past the many businessmen and women who were there for lunch he made it to the woman sitting alone at a corner table.
"Lisa," he said. The woman looked up startled from the papers she was reading and accidentally knocked her glass of orange juice over. She managed to salvage most of her papers before the spilled orange juice could do its damage. Still clumsy, something the both of them had in common.
"Sam," she said with a warm smile, her English accent seemed stronger from the last time he had heard her speak. Then again it had been three years, a lot can happen in three years. People move on with their lives, they can get married. He checked for a ring, no ring. Why did he feel relief at that? Things move on, he had moved on, hadn't he?
He saw her blush a little as she realised some of the other customers looking at her. Brushing away a few strands of her brown hair out of her face she was helped by Sam to clean up the mess.
"Sorry, didn't mean to startle you," he said. His hand brushed against hers as he helped her clean the mess and for a split second it felt like old times. Snapping back to reality he pulled his hand back. It was over, no point in opening old wounds. "So what did you want?" Sam asked, his voice detached and emotionless.
"I've been asked by my boss to write about the reception the President is holding tonight for the Prime Minister of England," she paused slightly, not sure if the meaning of it had yet sunk in. "A selected few reporters have been invited to the event, and I'm one of them."
Sam looked at her, his mind filled with mixed emotions. He tried hard to keep his face neutral.
"Jennifer isn't back from her honeymoon. Her flight's been delayed because of bad storms. If you ask me she just wants to spend more time with her new husband." Lisa stopped as she realised what she was saying. "A-Anyway, this is just one night and-"
"Right," he said quietly, cutting her off. This was proving to be harder than he he had imagined, and the last piece of news wasn't helping. He needed to get out of here. "Well Lisa, thank you for letting me know." He got up to leave.
"I've missed you."
Sam stopped and looked at her, memories flooding back with a vengeance.
"Yeah," was all he said before leaving.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"There will be six reporters present at the dinner party, all writing articles for various newspapers or news stations about the dinner, Mr President," C.J. Cregg, the White House's Press Secretary, informed.
The President of the United States, Josiah Bartlet, nodded his head as he surveyed his staff, who had congregated into the Oval Office for their usual meeting. His gaze lingered on Sam, who seemed indifferent to his surroundings.
"Anything else?" the President asked, still keeping a quiet eye on Sam.
"Sam and I are polishing off your speech for the dinner tonight," the Communications Director Toby Ziegler said. He threw a quick glance at his deputy, who was sitting next to him. Sam seemed to be on a different planet, and Toby knew the President had noticed.
Ever since he had come back from lunch he had been very quiet, and not really there. Toby was not sure that the young man had even been concentrating through the meeting.
"Okay. Anything else?"
Various no sirs and thank you for your time were chorused by the staff before they left the office, except for Leo McGarry.
"Leo-" the President started but the Chief of Staff cut him off, knowing what he was going to say.
"I'll have Josh talk to him."
"Thanks. Oh and Leo-"
"Yes Mr President?"
"You'll be happy to know that Lord John Marbury will not be able to attend this evening. It seems that he has a case of the 'flu." The President heard his friend of forty years give out a sigh of relief. "Though I could insist that he join us..." he trailed off, waiting for the reaction, which sure enough came.
"Mr President!" Leo looked at him. Oh how he liked tormenting his staff.
"Relax Leo," he said giving out a laugh.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Hey Sam, wait up!" Josh Lyman called as he caught up with Sam. He had been asked by Leo if he knew what was wrong with Sam but Josh had drawn a blank on that. They had all noticed that Sam's mind was on something else for two weeks now but were not sure on what exactly.
"Yeah?" Sam asked as he stopped.
"So, who's the girl?" Josh asked as they resumed their walking towards their offices. He had known Sam for a long time, and only two things would cause this kind of behaviour. Either he was unhappy with work or it was girl trouble. Josh was going for the latter.
"Huh?" Sam looked at his best friend.
Josh shook his head. "Who's the girl?"
"You've been acting really weird lately, not to mention not concentrating on the meeting we just had." Josh watched him try hard not to look at him as he answered.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Sam said. He knew what Josh was saying was right but...
"You have a worse poker face than I do."
"Josh, just drop it," Sam said firmly.
"Come on Sam, who is she? And don't tell me there isn't one. You've been on a different planet for the last two weeks, and, frankly, it's time you caught the next shuttle out of there and back to Earth."
"Josh, there is no girl." Please get the hint. He really didn't want to talk about this.
"So, was I right?" came the White House Press Secretary's voice from behind them.
"Oh God," Sam said as they stopped and looked at C.J. Cregg.
"Was I right?" she asked.
"I'm still trying to get him to confess," Josh replied before pausing.
"Don't you have anything better to do than bug me?" Sam asked, hoping that he would take the hint. But this was Josh.
"Nope." Josh paused as it hit him what might be causing the reluctance to tell. "Wait, she's not another call-girl is she?"
"Josh," Sam said, knowing that Josh was referring to Laurie.
"Good. Oh, she's not one of the President's daughters is she?" he asked jokingly.
"Josh," he vehemently said.
"So-" C.J. started.
"It's Lisa," Sam blurted out. "She's here in DC and she's coming to the reception tonight."
"What? You don't mean that Lisa, do you?" Sam nodded. So that explains why he had been acting strange. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," and Sam continued walking towards his office, leaving C.J. and Josh behind. But Josh knew his best friend was breaking inside.
"Lisa," C.J. repeated the familiar name.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Josh looked over at his best friend, who was typing feverishly on his laptop at his desk. He had waited an hour, weighing out the options of going to talk to Sam or not to. It was Donna, his assistant, who had finally pushed him to go and see Sam. Word had travelled fast around the office about Lisa. Even though many of the people there had never met her they knew Sam, and every once in awhile would send sympathetic glances towards Sam's office.
Josh had come into his best friend's office around ten minutes ago and Sam hadn't stopped working once. No big change there, but it wasn't the same. Josh didn't even know if Sam had noticed him come into the room. He wanted to say something but he didn't know what. Maybe all Sam needed was some time, maybe he should just let it run its course.
Josh remembered the time Sam had told him that the wedding was off and Lisa had left. It was an October night on the campaign trail. They were working late when Josh had asked when his wedding invite would be arriving.
"The wedding is off," Sam had said, blaming the fact that they each wanted separate things. After that Sam had thrown himself into his work and it had been a some time before he started to get over it, if he ever had. And now...
"Sam, turn off the computer," Josh ordered, forgetting about his plan to leave things to run their course.
"Josh. I'm fine," Sam said, knowing what was to come.
"Just turn it off." Sam did as he was told.
"So, what she doing here?" Josh asked.
"She's a reporter Josh," Sam said as he looked up from his laptop. It hadn't taken long before Josh had started to ask questions. To be honest, Sam was glad that he had someone to talk to.
"I know she's a-"
"She has a job working for the BBC. The last month or so she's been in Washington covering the political arena as the usual political correspondent is on her honeymoon," he explained quickly.
"So you've talked to her."
"Yeah, we sort of bumped into each other at a restaurant."
"And?" Josh urged tentatively. He didn't know how far he should push the subject but he didn't want to drop it either. Fortunately Sam was willing to talk.
"And it felt good. After three years of not seeing her there she was, and though it was awkward it felt good. Then came her phone call this morning. Said she wanted to talk to me. I met her at a cafe for lunch where she told me that she had been asked to be one of the reporter's at the dinner. I thought I could handle the news," Sam paused as he took a deep breath, his mind going over the lunch, "but I just can't stop thinking about her."
"I told you that woman was trouble from day one."
Sam looked at him, a small smile crossing his face. "No you didn't." Lisa and Josh had been good friends before she had met Sam and it was Josh who had introduced her to him at a party he was holding around seven years ago.
"Okay, okay," Josh was saying, bringing Sam out of his journey down memory lane. "So I told you that she was the one for you, though I have to say I was a little surprised when you said that you two were getting married."
"Why?" He remembered the day he had told Josh. Gushing with happiness was not exactly a word to describe his friend's reaction.
"You never seemed like the marrying type. Sam and I guess I felt I would be losing my best friend, you know with you leaving the country."
"Leaving the country?" Sam asked a little perplexed.
"I thought Lisa told... With her getting the-" there was a slight pause. "Never mind," he said as he quickly moved on. Sam was about to push the subject but Josh started talking again before he could.
"So, how is she?"
"She's good, I think. We really didn't talk a lot. Her accent has changed. She's sounding more English," Sam murmured as stared at his blank laptop screen.
Sam's head shot up. "You know?" He watched Josh squirm a little under the sudden scrutiny.
"Yeah, she called a few months back."
"She called you?" He wasn't angry, or Josh didn't think so anyway, he just sounded surprised.
Josh knew why. It had not only been Lisa and Sam's relationship that had ended when she left but also Lisa and Josh's friendship. He had to admit that his friendship with Lisa had suffered when she and Sam first started. Josh had been slightly jealous as Sam spent most of his time with her. It was silly and no need to feel that way, but he had still felt it. Over time, though, the feeling disappeared. The peace had not been for long, however.
When Josh had heard about the break up he had wasted no time in getting into an argument about it with her. Friend or no friend, Josh wasn't going to stand by idly. He hated seeing Sam get hurt and he had told Lisa exactly what was on his mind. Harsh words had been exchanged over the subject and their long term friendship had crumbled.
It had been nearly two years since Josh had spoken to her again. The foundations were still shaky but they were starting to repair the damage. He only hoped that the same could be done with Sam and Lisa's relationship. The two of them had made a good couple.
"Yeah. A few days after I came out of the hospital she called. She wanted to know how I was and all that. Also wanted to make sure that you were okay. She said that she had wanted to come over when..." Josh lingered for a while as he took in a deep breath. "Well, you know, but she couldn't get time off work."
There was a brief period of silence between them, before Josh broke it, "Just talk to her. Otherwise you are going to be Mr Broody all over again and I can't take it a second time around."
"Hey! I was not-"
"Yes you were," Josh interrupted, remembering the days on ends he would sometimes spend moping around. "Take my advice and talk to her at the dinner tonight." Sam shrugged his shoulders, his face showing that he was deep in thought. "Well, I've got to get back to work. Come find me if you need to talk," Josh said as he got up. He had done all he could for now.
"Thanks Josh," Sam said genuinely.
"Hey, that's what best friends are for."
"You taking anyone to the dinner?" he asked before Josh left.
Sam raised his eyebrow. "Really?"
"Bye Sam," Josh called as he left.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Mrs Landingham!" the President called as he walked out of the Oval office and into his secretary's, his personal aide Charlie Young close behind him. They were both dressed in their dinner suits. The President was all set, except for one thing.
"There is no need to yell Mr President," Mrs Landingham scolded. "You lost it didn't you sir?" she asked disapprovingly.
"I have not lost anything. I just came to say goodbye to you before I try to go and make this world a better place."
Mrs Landingham eyed him sceptically but was not able to respond as Leo McGarry, Chief of Staff, came in.
"Hello Mrs Landingham," he said. "Ready Mr President?"
"Yes. Have you seen Zoey?"
"She's waiting in the car, though she didn't look very happy."
"She was going to spend the evening watching TV and eating popcorn. Imagine that. Fortunately I saved her from the evening of despair that is repeats. She will now be spending an evening that will serve as an educational experience as well as being fun."
"I'm sure she was thrilled Mr President," Leo said with a slight hint of sarcasm. "Shall we go?"
"Okay. Just one thing." The President turned to his secretary. "Mrs Landingham, where's that report you-"
"It has already been sent sir," she sighed.
"I did not forget!" the President called out as he left the White House followed by Charlie, Leo and numerous secret service agents.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Sam sat at his table, taking a small sip of his wine. The speech had gone well, everyone had clapped, which was a good sign and it meant that Toby was happy. With the speech over with it meant that the evening was nearly through. The rest of the evening, though, seemed to be taking its time to pass.
Maybe he could sneak out without anyone noticing him, he thought to himself. The President was now doing his rounds of talking to the people present, and the rest of the staff were either doing the same, or dancing. Pull yourself together, he scolded himself, banishing the idea to the back of his mind. He hadn't seen her yet, maybe he wouldn't see her at all, though he had spent most of the evening hiding.
Trying to get his mind to think of something other than Lisa he scanned the faces in the room. He saw Josh and Donna talking and...
Oh God. He took another sip of his wine as he saw a familiar face enter the ballroom. Lisa. She looked beautiful. Her hair had been put up with a few strands left down to frame her face and she had her dress was a deep blue satin evening gown. It reminded him of the times she and him attended the parties with his old law firm Gage Whitney. She had never danced, though. Two left feet she had told him.
He looked down at his drink. Why hadn't he just said that he had the beginnings of the 'flu and stayed at home? It was going around. Great Britain's ambassador to the United States had it, as did Gina Toscano, a secret service agent assigned to Zoey.
Sneaking a quick glance back at her he saw that Lisa had noticed him. She gave a small smile in his direction before walking out of the room and towards the balcony. Half of him wanted to go after her and the other half told him that he would only get hurt. The latter won and he stayed put.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Hey, isn't that Lisa?" Donna asked Josh, directing his gaze to a woman heading for outside.
"Yeah." Josh then looked over to Sam, who was looking at Lisa as well. "Oh man." He could see the next few months spent trying to comfort Sam again.
"Go and talk to him," Donna urged, "I'll go and see her."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Lisa wrapped her arms around her body as the cold air hit her, though her mind was preoccupied with something else to really care about it. The object of her thoughts: Sam Seaborn.
She could have told her boss that she could not make it tonight. She could have said no, said that she was ill, but no, she had to say yes, she had to say that she would love to. It was her professionalism kicking in, telling her to put her personal feelings aside and to get on with the job. Well it worked better in theory. Then she had seen him and memories cascaded back to her. The one memory that stuck out was the day she had left. The memory of his sad, puppy dog face looking at her filled her mind and tears threatened to overcome her.
She should have said no.
"I just love messing his life up don't I?" she muttered bitterly.
"You know, talking to yourself is the first sign of madness."
"Donna," Lisa said as she whirled around to face her.
"It's good to see you again Lisa," Donna replied warmly as they hugged. They had known each other when Lisa had frequently come down to see Sam during the campaign, when they had been together anyway.
The two women had become good friends, albeit knowing each other for only a few weeks. Lisa, Zoey, CJ and her would sometimes spend time together going either shopping or for lunch when there was a free time. It was kind of a girl's day out kind of thing. That had all, of course changed when the engagement had been called off.
"You too Donna."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Hey," Josh said as he sat down on a chair next to Sam.
"Hey." Sam didn't look up.
Sam took a deep breath. "It's been three years."
"Yeah." What was he supposed to say in a situation like this?
"You think I should go and talk to her?"
"It could give some closure," Josh offered.
"Yeah," Sam sighed.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"So you and Josh, is it a thing?" Lisa asked Donna, trying to skirt around the issue of Sam that Donna had non too subtly broached a couple of minutes ago.
"A thing?" Donna looked at Lisa.
"Yeah, you know, a thing."
"Oh. No, we're just friends."
"Okay," but Lisa didn't sound very convinced. "Because if it was, I wouldn't tell anyone."
"It's not a thing."
"Ahuh, whatever," she said as she looked at her sceptically. Donna laughed.
"Am I interrupting anything?" a voice asked from the entrance to the balcony.
"Sam," Lisa said as she turned to him, a little surprised to see him talking to her.
"Not at all," Donna jumped in. "I'm going to go and find Josh." She sent a reassuring smile to Lisa before making a quick exit. Lisa looked at the leaving figure, cursing Donna for leaving her.
"Hi," Lisa said finally. Just relax, remember to breathe.
"You look good. You know, with the suit and that... You look good." She stared down at her feet. Great, you sounded like a babbling idiot, she muttered to herself. Smooth, very smooth. She found herself wishing the ground would just swallow her.
"You look good too."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"You look good too," Sam said. He was starting to think that coming to see her was a bad idea as the awkwardness between them reached new heights.
"Thank you." He noticed her bite her lower lip as she looked everywhere except at him.
"So-" he stopped. Great, here he was, a speech writer for the President of the United States and he couldn't string a simple sentence together. There was a long pause before Sam spoke again. He needed to know the one question that had never left him for three years, always there at the back of his mind. "Did you stop loving me?"
He watched as Lisa's head shot up and she met his eyes for the first time. Sadness tinted her eyes.
He went on, "I-I thought we were happy together."
"We were," she whispered.
"Then why?" Anger started to creep into his voice. "You never gave a reason. I come home for the weekend and before I can even unpack you tell me that it's over. I deserved an explanation at least, or even a chance to talk to you before you made your decision." His voice was low as he kept in mind where they were but the frustration and pain bottled up was starting to show.
"Oh, like when you quit your job at the law firm," she hissed. "I really remember a lot of two decision making going into that," she replied sarcastically.
"You were happy for me," he said quietly.
She glared at him, her arms stapled to her sides and her hands clenched in fists. "You thought I was happy?" she asked him. "Did you ever ask me?"
"Lisa-" he started.
"Did you ever ask?" she repeated. "You came home with Josh with the news that you had quit and you were off to New Hampshire. I stood by you because that was what I should do, because we were getting married. But we never did, did we? We had the date planned, but then it was postponed because you were traipsing the country with the campaign. Do you know how I felt? What I-" she stopped as words failed her. "I wanted us to get married," she murmured.
Sam stood still as the impact of the scathing attack made its mark. "I-I didn't know you felt... You never told me."
Sighing she walked to the edge of the balcony and looked out into the distance. "I don't want to argue with you Sam," she said softly.
"Lisa..." The anger held by both of them was leaving as was the will to fight. He didn't want to argue either, what was the point? "I thought we had something, something that was worth fighting for. You didn't give a chance for us to try and make it work. Just an explanation." He could feel the old wounds reopening. So much for closure. "Anything," he pleaded. He made his way to her side and touched her shoulder gently. She turned to face him and Sam was aware of the close proximity the two of them were suddenly to each other. Before he knew it, he leaned over and his lips brushed hers. She offered no resistance and kissed him back. To Sam it was like old times, it was... it felt... right. But it was soon over.
"I'm sorry." Lisa pulled away. He could see her eyes shine in the moon light as tears began to fall. "I'm so sorry Sam," she repeated, her voice quivering.
"Lisa," Sam said. Not again, please, not again.
"I didn't love you. I never did," she said as she looked away. Those words hit Sam like a sledgehammer and for a second he was sure his body forgot how to breathe.
"No," he uttered. He wasn't willing to believe this. After all she had said before... How could she say a thing like that? She would have to look at him and say it to his face. It wasn't true... It couldn't be... "Look at me and say it."
"I-" she didn't finish her sentence. She turned away and started walking back inside, never turning to look at him, never saying the words directly to him.
Sam leaned against the balcony's railing, his arms crossed across his chest, and he stared up at the star lit night sky. They had stayed up some nights and stared out into the sky, Sam explaining all the different stars as she huddled against him for warmth.
He bowed his head at the memories. Not again.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"So what do you think is happening?" Josh asked impatiently as he craned his neck to try and see outside, but from his vantage point it was no use.
"Josh," Donna sighed. "We shouldn't be trying to spy on them." The statement would have stood more weight if Donna hadn't been craning her neck while she made it, also trying to see what was going on. Josh looked at Donna and smiled as he shook his head.
"Donna, as much as I care for Lisa she can sometimes be a real idiot. Now she's up there with Sam and..." he didn't finish his train of thought. "What do you think is going on?" he quizzed the other occupants of the small circle that had congregated around the buffet table with the topic of conversation being Sam and his ex fiancee. As no one could actually see what was going on it was anyone's guess.
The group had gotten larger since Josh and Donna had placed themselves there until it contained most of the senior staff. CJ had been the first to join them and then Toby had made his way over.
"Sam's heart going to get broken again," Toby said gruffly, carrying on on what Josh had started earlier.
"Toby," CJ admonished. "Great to see that you're being Mr Positive."
"Head's up guys," Donna alerted. They all watched as Lisa came back indoors, alone.
"Oh boy," Josh breathed. Guess Toby's right, he thought as he saw the state of Lisa, who was hurrying towards the rest room. There was still no sign of Sam. "I'm guessing that it didn't go well."
"Go and make sure Sam is okay," Donna instructed Josh. "I'll check on Lisa."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Lisa ignored the strange looks she was getting as she rushed past people and to the restroom. She ran in, relieved to find that the room was empty. Tears, by now, ran freely down her cheeks as she gave up trying to hold them back.
"I didn't love you." The words she had said haunted her mind as she paced the floor. His face... Why did I say it?! she screamed to herself. Why! The words were repeating themselves over and over again. "I didn't love you." She had told him that she hadn't loved him.
"Oh God," she choked. I kiss him and then I tell him hadn't loved him, great combination. Why didn't you just tear his heart out and stamp on it? You've certainly done it before. His face... "Why?" she whispered.
"Talking to yourself again. You should stop that or people are really going to start to think that your crazy."
Lisa let out a small laugh as she wiped her tear streaked cheeks, embarrassed at her appearance.
Aren't I? "Hi Donna," she said as she looked at the mirror in the restroom, showing the reflection of the blonde haired woman that had just entered.
"I'm guessing that it didn't go well."
"What gave you that idea?" she said flippantly, her voice slightly muffled as she blew her nose in a tissue given to her by Donna. "I kissed him."
"You did?" she asked in shock.
"Well actually he kissed me and then I kissed him back."
"That's great." Donna smiled, but that smile soon turned into confusion. "How come you're here then-"
"I told him I never loved him," Lisa interrupted.
"Lisa!" Donna nearly screamed at this revelation. "You didn't mean it did you?"
Lisa shook her head as she leaned back against the cool wall, not trusting her body to hold her weight anymore. This whole night had turned into a nightmare.
"Then why say something like that? You loved him, you still love him. I don't understand." Donna propped herself on top of the counter.
"I... I guess I thought that if I said that we could both get on with our own lives-"
"You mean you could get on with your life."
There was a long pause. Lisa couldn't deny it. Sam had always been on her mind. She had tried to move on, to put him behind, by trying to convince herself that she never loved him. It wasn't working and now she only felt worse, if it was at all possible.
"Leaving us to pick up Sam's broken heart." Donna hadn't intended it to come out so coldly but it did. "Sorry." But then again she wasn't, some things needed to be said.
"No, you're right."
"You never told him the real reason, did you?" she asked, but she already knew the answer.
"Look, forget about this for tonight. Go back to your hotel and get a good night's sleep. Get some perspective on the whole situation."
"Wish it were that easy," Lisa sighed, she seemed to be doing a lot of that lately, but she agreed with Donna. She had done enough damage for one night. But maybe it was for the best.
Lisa breathed in deeply and closed her eyes. Time to change the subject. "The day after tomorrow I'll be going back to England. The flight's been booked and most of my bags are packed." A pause. "I was wondering if you'd like to catch up for lunch. Go and have a picnic or something..." she trailed off. Opening her eyes she looked at Donna. "We could invite CJ if she's free, that is if she isn't out for my blood."
"Sure," Donna said slowly. Maybe tomorrow she could try and convince Lisa to work things out with Sam, and if CJ came she would have back up on the matter. "It'll be like old times."
"Yeah, something like that," Lisa said under her breath. If it could ever be like that.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Sam opened his eyes at the sound of his friend's voice. He gave a small smile but it looked hollow.
"She told me that she never loved me," he said quietly, the words still sinking in. He didn't know whether he should believe what she said. She hadn't looked at him...
"Way to go Lisa," Josh muttered sarcastically. Lisa had been his friend for some time but so was Sam and there was no way he deserved this.
"I'll be okay," Sam assured as he rubbed his eyes wearily. He could feel a headache coming on. All he wanted to do now was go home, crawl into bed and try and forget about the whole night.
His thoughts must have shown in his body language as the next thing he heard Josh say was, "Do you want me to take you home? I don't think anyone will mind."
Sam nodded as he pushed himself off the railing he was leaning against and followed Josh back inside.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Donna swung her bag round her shoulder as she hurried to get to her lunch appointment.
"Whatever you're looking for Josh it's on the pigsty
of what you call a desk!" she answered. "Other than that you're going to have to
wait until I'm back from lunch."
"You're going for lunch?" Josh asked as he came out of his office and looked at Donna.
"Yeah, you know I'm going to... the thing," she hurriedly said as Sam passed them. He nodded to them before carrying on to his office.
"Oh yeah, the thing," Josh said absently, knowing what Donna meant.
"How's he doing?" she whispered when Sam was out of earshot.
Josh shrugged, "He's being Sam." Which roughly translated to Sam throwing himself into his work in an effort to forget about things, especially the matter with Lisa.
"I have to go," she said.
"Okay. Tell her hi from me and then tell her what an idiot she is being."
Donna cocked her head. "That idiot bit, should I tell her that it's from you too?"
"Depends what kind of mood she's in. And don't spend too long."
"Yes master," she said smiling. He watched her walk away and in the direction of CJ's office before he turned his attention to Sam's office.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"You ready CJ?" Donna asked as she popped her head into CJ's office. "Hey Danny," she said to the reporter also in the office.
"Going somewhere?" Danny asked CJ.
"Yes, believe it or not I do eat lunch."
"Bye Danny," CJ said as she looked at him expectantly.
"Bye. Remember to feed the fish," and with that Danny left.
"So you ready?" Donna asked again as she entered the office.
"Give me a minute," she said as she shuffled a few papers and placed some in piles on her desk. "You do know it is very cold outside, don't you?"
"And we are having a picnic outside. Am I the only one seeing a small glitch in the plans?"
"What plans?" a young female voice asked from the doorway. They turned to see Zoey Bartlet standing there, the President's youngest daughter.
"Hi Zoey. Lisa's here," Donna explained. "She's picking us up and we're going out for a picnic."
"In freezing weather," CJ chimed in.
"In freezing weather. We're trying to get Sam and Lisa back together."
"Lisa," Zoey said in surprise. She had known Lisa during the campaign, when she was still Sam's fiancee that is. They would spend some time together now and then when she came to visit Sam. That had all changed when the engagement had been called off. It had been a few weeks after the whole thing had happened that Zoey had eventually found out. There had been no big announcement. She had only found out when her mum told her one night when Zoey had questioned where Lisa was. "Can I come with you? Dad's having a meeting with some ambassador and Charlie's had to cancel our lunch date as he's busy."
CJ and Donna looked at each other, a silent decision making going on between the two of them.
"I guess so," CJ finally said. "That is, if it's okay." She motioned to the Secret Service agents standing outside the office.
"I'll ask them."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Sam walked into his office and wasted no time in collapsing in his chair. He had spent half the morning up on the Hill and was grateful to finally get back to his office. Taking a moment to relax he leaned back in his seat and massaged his neck.
Josh had taken him back last night but not before his friend had decided to get him as drunk as possible. Now Sam was feeling the after effects and he made a vow never to listen to Josh again. Next time he would make his way home on his own, without any stops to a bar. Though he had to say that it had helped in some ways. He got some things off his chest regarding Lisa he may never had said had he been sober. What he said, however, he couldn't remember quite clearly.
"Hey Sam," Josh said cheerfully as he bounded into the office carrying lunch. Sam grimaced at the loudness that assaulted office, and most importantly his head. "Brought you lunch," he said as he placed sandwiches and coffee on Sam's desk.
"Thanks," Sam mumbled as his stomach greeted the mention of food with a rumble. He was starving from only having an apple for breakfast this morning. Truthfully, he didn't think he could have handled anything stronger this morning. Even the apple had been pushing it. Now, however, his stomach was demanding something more substantial, and he wasn't going to argue with it.
"How you feeling today?"
Sam sipped his coffee and felt the welcome liquid warm his system as he contemplated what he should say. He could feel Josh's critical gaze probing his every movement.
"I have a hell of a headache," Sam finally imparted but before Josh could object to Sam's evasion of the true subject he continued, "I'm fine."
"Fine, as in good, terrific, fantastic-"
"I know what fine means," Josh cut him off. "I'm just saying, your ex fiancee, the woman you loved and planned to spend the rest of your life with, suddenly appears back in your life. There is bound to be some kind of reaction there. Now, how do you really feel?"
Sam leaned back in his seat How do I really feel? Good question. "Confused at the moment. I just need a little time to get everything into perspective."
Josh nodded and a silent message was sent between them; Josh would be there if Sam needed him.
"I saw Donna leaving," Sam changed the subject. Unfortunately to the wrong one in Josh's eyes.
"Yeah, uh," Josh hesitated slightly and it was now his turn to consider whether or not to tell the truth or some twisted, portion of the truth. "She's gone with CJ to have a picnic." He had gone for the latter. Play it safe for now. And he wasn't lying, just leaving a few details out.
"Do they know that's it's like subzero temperatures out there?" Sam looked at Josh and he could tell that there was something being held back. CJ and Donna had not been out for lunch together since...
Josh breathed in. "Yeah, I think so."
"Guys, the President wants to see you," Charlie interrupted as stopped by the door.
"Okay Charlie," Josh said, relieved at not having to skirt around the issue of Donna's lunch date with a certain someone. He got up. "You coming?"
Sam gave a brief nod. He would quiz Josh later.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Yeah, and what I'll do is that I'll do a turn around at the airport and turn up at the White House declaring my love for Sam. It's the biggest cliché in the world and one that has been used way too often in movies." Lisa popped a grape in her mouth.
They had found a secluded spot for their picnic and had set up on a nearby table and chairs.
Lisa watched the numerous Secret Service agents standing nearby, alerted to their surroundings and ready to protect their young charge if the need arose. She had been surprised, but pleasantly, when Zoey had joined them. Their meeting, however, was a bit frosty at first. She couldn't really blame her. When she left Sam she left quickly. She had not stayed for goodbyes, or for the twenty questions that she knew would be directed at her. The questions had been avoided, but only for awhile. She was getting the full treatment now.
"I was a bit of a coward," she had told Zoey earlier. And it had been right, it still was.
"But you've got to admit that it's romantic though, especially if it's the guy turning up. Remember Pretty Woman," Donna pointed out as Lisa joined back into the conversation going on. She should have known that their little outing would turn to the subject of Sam sooner or later, and five minutes into it it had.
"Great in the movies, doesn't work in real life," Lisa tried to reason. "And I don't think Pretty Woman is exactly a great example to use with Sam."
They all looked at her. "You heard about Laurie then?" Donna asked cautiously.
Lisa shrugged a yes. It had been in the papers. Yes, it had bothered her, but it shouldn't have, Lisa and Sam weren't together anymore.
"You never know until you've tried it," Zoey quipped getting back to subject.
"Exactly." Donna smiled.
Sighing inwardly Lisa put down her sandwich. She had pretty much lost her appetite by now. So much for the idea of trying to forget about Sam for the day.
CJ was the first to notice the change in Lisa, seeing as she was sitting next to her.
"You okay?" she asked quietly. Zoey and Donna looked at CJ and then at Lisa.
"Josh was right you know. I am an idiot." She gave a weak smile to the three women.
"No," Donna started, shaking her head, "I wouldn't say that you're an idiot."
Lisa looked at her. "I was getting married to a great, funny and gorgeous guy. A guy who, you know, was the one. And what do I do, I give it all up for a job. Now, tell me that I'm not an idiot."
"Okay, maybe a part of you is an idiot, but..." Donna trailed off.
"Do you know how many times I thought about just leaving my job and taking the next flight back here. I had this whole sequence planned out in my head. You know the plot, turning up on Sam's doorstep with my suitcases and saying I'm sorry, that I made a big mistake, that I'd like to try again. I had the whole speech worked out as well." Lisa let out a tiny laugh.
"Why didn't you?" Lisa looked at Zoey. "You know, why didn't you come back? I mean, if you loved him and that."
"Because," she breathed, "I'd convince myself that it would be a mistake. I kept putting up obstacles. I kept saying that it would get better, that I should just try and forget. I liked my job, I'd worked so hard for it. I don't know..."
They watched as Lisa stared down at her hands, her mind in a world of its own. The three of them sat in an awkward silence, shifting in their seats every now and then. None of them knew what the right thing was to say next. Fortunately the decision was taken out of their hands as Lisa spoke again.
"Sorry guys. Didn't mean to burden you with that." She glanced at her watch and then at CJ. "Time to get back?" she questioned.
CJ checked the time and nodded. "I have a press briefing in one hour that I have to prepare for."
"Okay then. I guess that's it." They started packing up the leftovers, in silence.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Lisa kept her eyes ahead as she drove half listening to the banter between Donna and Zoey that had erupted. CJ joined in once in awhile to offer her opinion or to refute any rumours involving her and Danny Concanon. They had been discussing suitable pairings between the White House Staff and the conversation had now taken a turn to Zoey pointing out how Donna and Josh would make a good couple. Donna was of course denying it while trying to control her blushes.
She smiled. This was just like old times. It was hard for her to admit but she had missed this more than she had imagined. Her mind was still going over what she had said but saying some of those things helped to put a few things in perspective. Now it was just a case of planning what to do next.
"So what do you think Lisa?" Zoey asked from the back.
"About what?" Lisa asked as she checked her rear view mirror for the Secret Service car trailing theirs, it was still there. To be honest the whole thing of them following her was unnerving. She wondered how Zoey had gotten used to it.
"Josh and Donna." She heard Donna sigh beside her.
Lisa was about to answer that they would make a cute couple had it not been for Zoey's subsequent scream to look out. The object of her alarm was a car that had rounded a corner too fast, way too fast. She tried to swerve in an effort to avoid the car but it was too late. The two cars met each other head on.
Everything seemed to go into slow motion for the occupants of Lisa's car as the impact of the two cars was felt. Glass was sent flying and metal screeched in protest to the strain it had been put under. The event was not over, however, as Lisa's car partially left the ground from the force of the blow. For a few terrifying seconds for its occupations, and for the Secret Service agents who could only watch helplessly, the car was airborne. Then, as laws of gravity commanded, it came down and rolled on its side, until it was finally commandeered to a stop by one of the trees by the side of the road.
The agents flew into action as ambulances were called and voices started giving orders. None of this, however, was known to the occupants of Lisa's car, who knew only blackness.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
CJ groaned as she fought back from unconsciousness. What kind of night had she had? she asked herself as she felt the world's worse headache coming on. Her whole body ached in protest as she tried to move. She could hear distant voices but she couldn't make out what they were saying. Her head was killing her and she was trying hard to figure out what had happened. Then it came to her. There had been a crash, screaming...
"Zoey!" CJ opened her eyes as she called out to the President's youngest daughter's name. Please let her be okay.
There was a quiet moan from the seat next to her.
"CJ?" a slurred voice asked. CJ looked to her side where Zoey was just regaining consciousness, her head resting against the head rest. Her face had a few cuts on it where shards of glass had caught her as well as a nasty bruise forming on her forehead. "What happened?"
"A crash." She couldn't give any more information, that's all she knew.
"Donna, Lisa?" Zoey questioned.
CJ felt fear grip her. She hadn't heard anything from the two other occupants, both who had been in the brunt of the impact. Slowly, she turned her head to look at the driver's and passenger's seat. Pain flared in her head and neck as she did.
"Take it easy Ms Cregg. The ambulance is on the way and we'll have you out of there as soon as possible," a voice, that she recognised as one of Zoey's agents, said to her calmly. She became aware of the numerous agents around the car, talking rapidly to one another as they tried to get the doors open. In the distance she could hear sirens blaring, the sound getting closer with each second.
She could make out Donna's inert form slumped to the side, her head resting against her window. Her long hair hanging over her face obscured CJ's view of her face and so hindering her efforts to see how she was.
Lisa. CJ could only make out a figure stooped against the driver's airbag that had deployed. There was no way of knowing how the two of them were but she knew that it couldn't be good. There was blood on the dashboard, then darkness washed over her again.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Agent William Turner hurried to the mangled wreck that used to be a car. Emergency services had already been called. The question however was if it was already too late. A few of his colleagues were already in action as they attempted to free the trapped occupants. His heart was beating fast as he surveyed the wreck
"Bookbag's okay. Looks like a concussion but she's okay," he heard someone call out, signalling that Zoey Bartlet was alive and her injuries were not serious. There was relief at that but there were still three other occupants unaccounted for. Or two, he corrected as it was called out that CJ Cregg was not seriously hurt.
Turner manoeuvred himself towards the driver's seat of the car, if it could be called that anymore. The door had managed to be opened, giving access to Lisa Quinn. He knelt down as he carefully searched for a pulse. Much to his relief he found one, very faint but still there.
He looked ahead where Agent Reece was checking on Donna Moss. There was a grim look on his face. Turner searched for answers. "Pulse is weak," Reece said. Looks like serious internal injuries." The agent couldn't say anymore. He wasn't a doctor, none of them were. They only knew basic first aid.
Turner nodded before his mind turned back to Lisa as he started searching for injuries. He could hear the ambulances arriving. Not a moment too soon either.
His hand met something warm and sticky and he saw what it was. A piece of metal from the car had broken free and embedded itself in Lisa's abdomen. Turner grimaced at the blood that was turning the woman's shirt red at the site of the wound and now covered his hand.
He was aware that paramedics were now by his side telling him that they had things under control. Moving out of the way he allowed the medics to get on with their job. Orders were being called out here and there for treatment for the occupants but Turner wasn't listening as he found himself wondering one thing, who was going to tell the President?
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"How was everyone's evening last night?" the President asked Sam, Josh, Toby and Leo, who were all seated in the Oval Office.
Various fine sirs came from his staff.
The meeting was nearing an end but it hadn't ended yet...
"Good. You know I had a fascinating discussion with this one man, Nicholas something. Anyway, he had visited each of the thirteen major rivers in the world. Heaven knows why he did it but it made an interesting topic."
"Well sir, I'm sure I speak for all of us here when I say that we are utterly devastated at having to miss that," Josh said jokingly. The President looked at him.
"Is that a hint of sarcasm I hear there Josh? Were you trying on CJ's funny?" he asked.
Groans were voiced by Sam, Leo and Toby as they realised what was coming. Two words sprang to their mind as they remembered the time CJ made fun of something in the President's company: Notre Dame.
"Oh please sir," Josh said as he received scowls from the other staff members. "It's early in the morning."
"It's the afternoon," the President corrected.
"Some could argue that it's early for them," Sam interjected, but it didn't help.
"Name the thirteen major rivers in the world," the President finished, ignoring further protests from his staff. "Come on."
"The Danube," Josh started.
"Mississippi," Sam offered.
"That's two," the President said. "Only another eleven more to-" The President's sentence was interrupted by a knock at the door, followed by Ron Butterfield entering. Everyone looked up in anticipation. His face was grim, and they knew whatever he had to say was not going to be good.
"Ron?" the President asked the agent seriously, not sure if he wanted to hear what he had to say.
"There's been an accident Mr President," he said steadily. The air went silent as breaths were lodged in everyone's throats.
"An accident?" Leo questioned, recovering first from the blow of the news. By now his stomach was doing somersaults.
"I do not have the full details as of yet but what I do know is that Zoey has been involved in a car crash, as were Ms' Cregg, Moss and Quinn." Sam's heart skipped a beat. Lisa. He felt Josh's reassuring hand on his shoulder.
"How badly?" the President pressed, fearing the worst as scenarios played through his mind.
"I don't have full details sir but I've been told that she hasn't been seriously injured. They've all been taken to GW hospital for treatment. I have someone informing Mrs Bartlet right now."
Everyone gave out a sigh of relief at the news that Zoey was not seriously hurt but their ordeal was not over yet. What about the others?
"I have to get to the hospital," the President said quickly, his heart beating as fast as a runaway train. Ron may have said that Zoey wasn't seriously hurt but he wouldn't stop worrying until he saw his youngest daughter for himself.
Ron nodded. "Yes sir, we have cars already waiting outside to take you all to the hospital."
The President glanced at his staff. All were pale and gave away a feeling of disbelief. Please God let them all be okay, the President prayed.
"Leo-" the President began.
"Go sir. We'll be there soon."
The President gave a curt nod before following Ron out.
"Lisa was with them?" Sam asked quietly, things not quite sinking in. Thoughts and questions swirled through his mind. She was with them. Oh God. How is she? Please let her be okay.
"She invited Donna and CJ for a picnic. I didn't
know Zoey was going with them though." Josh looked at Leo.
"She heard about the picnic and wanted to go along," was all Leo said. He took a deep breath. "Okay guys, let's get to the hospital and see how everyone is."
They didn't need to be told twice.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Flashing lights illuminated the corridor as the doors to GW's ER opened and agents, paramedics and patients were rolled in.
"What have we got?" Dr Jack Mason, the senior resident on duty, asked as he came up to the side of the two gurneys as they were wheeled into the trauma rooms.
"A head on car accident," one of the paramedics said. Relaying of the two critically injured patients' vital signs continued before two teams consisting of doctors and nurses took over. The gurneys were halted and efforts in stabilising Donna and Lisa began.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Shoes squeaked on the polished floor of the hospital as four men hurried through the corridor towards the waiting room. None of them were stopped by the numerous Secret Service agents now present as they were all recognised as members of the President's senior staff.
Sam was the first to reach the correct waiting room, not a difficult feat if one considered that there were agents on guard outside it. He rushed in, closely followed by the rest of his companions.
As Sam entered he noted that the President and his wife, Dr Abbey Bartlet, were already present, as was Charlie. They looked up at the new arrivals and Abbey smiled at Sam. She obviously knew that Lisa had also been in the accident. Now only to find out how she was.
"Have you heard anything?" Leo asked as he went to sit by the President and Abbey.
"They've taken Zoey down for for a CAT scan but it looks like she only has a mild concussion."
"That's good," Leo said.
"Have you heard about the others Mrs Bartlet?" Sam spoke up, asking the question on everyone's mind.
Abbey shook her head. "I haven't been able to get any information."
"I would have thought that they would have given the information as soon as they were introduced to your charm ma'am," Josh joked but there was no effort behind it and the it felt flat, even to his ears.
Abbey smiled in an effort to comfort him as well as the other senior staff. "I was told that someone would be along shortly."
"Do you know what happened?" Sam asked with a shaky voice as he tried to control his anxieties. They still didn't know how they were. He didn't know whether to think of that as good news or bad.
The President spoke for the first time. "They were driving back when a group of teenagers in a car hit them head on."
"Oh God," Josh muttered.
"Yeah," the President said, the anger at the situation coming through. "It seems that that one of teenagers had stolen their parents' car and decided to take his friends for a spin. They were speeding when rounding a corner. The kid driving lost control and swerved into Ms Quinn's car."
Sam took in a deep breath and buried his head into his hands. Lisa's car, which probably meant that Lisa was driving. It was head on...
"CJ!" Toby's surprised voice broke through Sam's worries and fears. They all looked up to see a not too steady CJ walk into the waiting room, a neck brace around her neck and a few cuts covering her face. Toby and Josh both helped her to a seat.
"What are you doing?" Abbey admonished as her doctor mode kicked in. She got up and walked over to the press secretary, who should in no circumstances be walking around.
"I'm fine ma'am. The doctor said that I have whiplash but she said that I'll be okay."
"You should be resting."
"I'm fine," she repeated, still a little shaken by the events. "No one would tell me how Donna and Lisa were..."
Abbey knew that she would not be able to persuade CJ to get back to her bed. Instead she turned her head to Toby and said, "Take care of her, any worrying signs get a doctor straightaway. And don't let her walk around." Toby nodded.
"Mr President, Dr Bartlet," a new voice said as he was let into the waiting room. Abbey turned to look at the doctor she had spoken to when she first arrived. He fidgeted slightly at the sudden glare he was put under by the eyes of all the occupants of the room on him.
"Dr Harris," Abbey acknowledged as she walked to her husband's side and waited for the news.
"Your daughter's CAT scan came back clear, as was expected."
"Thank God," the President sighed as he held Abbey. "Can we see her?"
"Of course. If you'll follow me." But before he left the President stopped him. There was one thing he had to do before he went to see his daughter.
"What about the other two women brought in? Ms' Moss and Quinn?" The answer was awaited with bated breaths.
I'm sorry," he said apologetically, "but I have not been briefed on their situation. I am sure that someone will be along shortly."
Frustration set in as the wait began.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"The metal fragment has gone in deep but it looks like it hasn't perforated any of her organs," Dr Norden said as he investigated the X-ray of Lisa's abdomen. Checking Lisa's wound he could see the said piece of metal just protruding out of the wound high in her abdomen. The rest of the metal had embedded itself deep into her abdomen. "She's lucky," he muttered to his colleague, Dr Katherine Baker.
Baker nodded, agreeing with Norden's ascertains.
"An OR room is ready," Nurse Larson called out as she placed the phone she was holding back into its holder.
"Okay, let's move her, now!" He glanced momentarily at Baker and she knew what he wanted her to do.
"I'll inform any family or friends waiting," she said as she watched them wheel Lisa to OR. She started to remove her bloodied gloves and overalls when she heard the shrill of alarms start going off in the trauma room next to the one she was in.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Her BP is dropping," a nurse said.
"We're losing her," Dr Ben Travis yelled as alarms began blaring from the equipment around them.
"Crash cart. Charge to three hundred," Mason ordered. "Clear," he said as he placed the defibrillator plates on Donna. They checked and listened to the heart monitor. No change. "Again. Clear," he shouted again as the machine was charged and its electric current released into Donna. Her body jerked from the shock as the charge was delivered.
"We've got a pulse," Travis informed as the green line on the monitor jumped and a steady beep was emitted from the machine.
"Okay people, let's get her up to OR. We've stabilised her as far as we can. Travis, get up there and appraise the surgeons of the situation."
As Donna was taken away, Mason glanced towards the doctor that had just come into the room.
"Katherine," Mason acknowledged the other doctor.
"Is she going to make it?"
"Multiple internal injuries." In other words, it wasn't looking good.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"She wasn't happy," a quiet voice said.
Josh looked up from the magazine he had been browsing and turned his head to his friend who was slumped dejectedly in the seat next to him. Sam looked like he had aged another ten years since they had arrived at the hospital. But Josh was sure that that was the same for him as well.
"I'm sorry, who wasn't happy?" Josh asked as he put the magazine down. He hadn't been reading it anyway, just trying to get his mind away from waiting.
"Lisa. She wasn't happy when I told her that I had quit Gage Whitney and that I was going with you to New Hampshire." Looking back on it Sam could see it. She hadn't been happy. How could he have missed that? An answer soon followed. He had been so excited by the whole prospect of doing something he loved, something he had a passion for, that he had failed to see the signs.
"She was happy," Josh said.
"No, no." Sam shook his head slowly. "When I told-"
"Sam, it wasn't because she wasn't happy for you, it..." Josh trailed off. Should he tell him?
"What?" Sam looked straight at him with quizzical eyes. "What do you know that I don't?"
"Lisa-" Oh boy. Here goes. "Lisa, uh, she had been offered a job in England to work for the BBC news. I guess the same job she was doing, is doing now," he flinched at the use of the past tense. Donna and Lisa were going to be okay.
"Job? She never told me. I-" Sam looked lost as confusion took over.
Josh continued, "You remember when you first told me that you and Lisa were getting married?"
Sam nodded. He remembered the day well. Josh had been surprised by the news, not to mention not exactly in a congratulatory mood. He never understood why. "But what has-"
"She had phoned me a couple of weeks before asking for a number for some old school friend. We got talking and she told me that she had applied for a job in England. Said that it was a great opportunity for her if she got it. I asked if she had told you but she said that she'd wait until she knew if became of anything. I-" but it was his turn to be interrupted.
"She got the job, didn't she?" Sam asked icily but it was an unnecessary query; he already knew the answer to his question. Lisa was working as a journalist for BBC news.
"Yeah. I think she knew that you weren't happy at the law firm and so you wouldn't have too many qualms leaving for England but when the New Hampshire thing came up..." he trailed off.
"And you didn't see the need to tell me," Sam raised his voice as he stood up, waking the sleeping CJ with a start.
"Sam." Josh also stood up and looked at his angry friend. He knew Sam could get angry but it was not something that happened easily.
"No! You should have told me. I know I'm one to be left out of the loop and that I should be used to it by now, but..." Sam took a moment to gather his thoughts and emotions together. He became aware that Leo had started to make his way to them but he didn't care, he wasn't stopping. "To hell with New Hampshire, to hell with elections! I would have gone with her if it meant that we'd still be together."
"That's exactly why she didn't tell you or why she didn't want me to tell you!" Josh counteracted. "New Hampshire, speech writing, all that was what you wanted."
"No. Lisa was what I wanted. You had no right to keep this from me!"
"Guys, enough!" Leo bellowed as he came up to them and placed a hand on both their shoulders. "This is neither the time nor the place."
A cough was uttered from the doorway. The tense situation was momentarily dissolved as everyone turned their attention to the two doctors who had just walked in.
"Mr McGarry, I'm Dr Jack Mason and this is Dr Katherine Baker," Mason motioned to Baker by him.
Leo nodded and motioned him to continue.
"Ms' Moss and Quinn have been taken up to surgery," he paused as he chose his words carefully. "I worked on Ms Moss and I have to tell you that her injuries are serious." He could see the blood drain from the faces of the President's staff. "Ms Moss has multiple internal injuries and while we were trying to stabilise her she flatlined." A strangled gasp came from Josh as the news resonated in the room. "We were managed to get her back but she has lost a lot of blood. Dr Baker was working to stabilise Ms Quinn." He looked at Baker, beckoning her to continue with Lisa's situation.
Taking the lead, Baker spoke, "A metal fragment embedded itself in Ms Quinn's abdomen," she demonstrated the site of the wound on her own abdomen. "However, she is very lucky as the fragment missed hitting any vital organs. Her condition is serious but stable at the time she was sent up to surgery."
Sam swayed slightly and grasped the nearby wall for support.
Leo looked at him, and then to Josh, both visibly shaken
by the news. "Will they be okay?" Leo asked.
"We will know more after surgery," Mason conceded. "The surgeons are doing their best as we speak and as soon as we have any more information I promise you that you will be informed."
"Thank you," Leo said, before the doctors left the occupants of the room alone with their thoughts. "I should inform the President."
"Yeah," Josh managed to say.
"I have to call Lisa's parents," Sam muttered, not looking at Josh as he left the waiting room.
Josh started to go after him but was stopped by CJ's voice, "Give him a few minutes. He just needs a little time." They all needed some time.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"They coming?" Josh asked as he came up to Sam.
"They'll try and get here as soon as possible but there's fog over the airport and no flights are leaving. I told them that I'll keep them up to date," he said quietly as he slumped down in a nearby chair, his head cradled in his hands.
Josh sat down next to him. "Okay." A pause. "Look Sam, I'm sorry. I should have-"
"Josh, it's okay. She asked you not to tell me, I've got to respect that. It's just that-"
"You should have known," Josh finished off. "I honestly believed that she would tell you."
"Yeah." Sam paused. "Anyway, I should be the one apologising. I shouldn't have yelled at you like that."
Josh shrugged. "We're all worried."
"They'll be okay," Sam said, trying to convince himself as much as Josh.
"Yeah," Josh agreed. They will be.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"I've been kicked out," the President said as he walked over to the window Leo was staring out in the corridor. The first signs of the oncoming night were starting to set in as darkness had begun befall on the outside world.
Zoey was still a little shaken and she was feeling the effects of having a mild concussion but she was doing okay. CJ was doing fine as well, barring the pain from the whiplash. Now only for Donna and Lisa to pull through.
"She and Charlie are spending some time together," he continued softly. "The day has passed when my youngest daughter would rather spend time with her father."
"It was bound to happen sometime Mr President," Leo said, still staring out of the window. They could see various reporters and news buses camped outside in the hope to get statements from, or even a glimpse of the President or any of his staff. Press briefings had been given by the Deputy Press Secretary but information was still searched for by the media. The President found himself wondering if any of them knew that he was looking down at them.
"I could still build that dungeon you know."
"I don't doubt that."
"Have you heard any more news yet?" the President asked slowly.
Leo shook his head. He had relayed the information he had received from the two doctors to the President, and that had been four hours ago. Since then there had been no fresh news. "They're still both in surgery," he said.
"I heard that a few words had been exchanged between Josh and Sam earlier."
"They're both worried and emotions were on a rollercoaster. It being Sam's ex fiancee as well..." Go figure, the underlying message conveyed.
"Yeah, Zoey was telling me a few things earlier. Sam's been through a lot... he gave up... he lost a lot during the campaign. Though I may have never said anything but I did notice what it did to him when she left. And Josh... If anything happens..." he didn't finish the sentence as he rubbed his eyes wearily. "Leo," he said tiredly, "I'm the President of the United States."
Leo looked at his best friend, knowing what was going through his mind. "Yes you are but that doesn't mean that you're Superman. You can't do everything, you can't be perfect, no one expects you to be."
"You wanna bet?"
"Jed," Leo dropped the formalities as he spoke to him as a friend, not as someone speaking to the President. "There are things that are out of our reach. We went through this after Josh was shot, hell, every one of them went through it. Blaming themselves, asking what if. But I'm asking you, what could you have done now? How could you have stopped this? The answer is that you couldn't have, none of us could have. Some things we cannot control. Life throws some real obstacles in our way but we somehow manage to pull through it, and we will this time as well."
"And this is how you got me to run for President. You and your speeches." The President shook his head, a tight smile on his lips. He knew Leo was right. They would get through this, just like with Josh, and they would come through it stronger. "You know, you can run the country from now on and I can catch up on my reading."
"Yes Mr President," he said in good nature. He gave a quick glance out of the window before looking back at the President. "Toby and I'll be heading back to the White House to organise things there and update everyone on the situation. We'll get another briefing rolled out for the press. I'm pretty sure that Josh and Sam won't be leaving here for awhile, and CJ is being kept in for overnight observation. We'll have everything in control."
The President nodded his thanks before turning his gaze back out into the outside world. They would come out of this stronger, and together.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Time, such a funny thing. Sometimes it went incredibly fast, then other times it would tick away, each second seeming like an eternity. It was a seemingly endless and insignificant phenomena but it was still something that held mankind in its clutches.
Sam ran his hand through his hair and looked around the waiting room; it was the same one he had spent waiting after the President and Josh had been shot at Rosslyn. He wondered if any of the others had noticed it; they probably had.
He sighed inwardly. Too much time, too much waiting. A dangerous combination for someone who wanted a distraction. Life was never that easy, however, as Sam found himself confronted with memories that he would have chosen not to face at the moment. He tried to close his mind on the images that played through his mind like a badly edited home movie but it was no use.
"Hello Sam. So you're the guy Josh keeps talking about." Sam sat bolt upright as he heard Lisa's voice as clearly as if she had been sitting next to him. He looked around in urgency but there was only one person other than himself in the room. CJ had reluctantly returned back to her hospital room after finally capitulating to Abbey's advice, and Toby had left with Leo to go back to the White House. That left Josh, who was staring into space, lost in the magnitude of his thoughts and was none the wiser on what Sam had just heard and the memory lane he was going down.
"Sam, I'd like you to meet Lisa Quinn."
Sam turned to face Josh and the brunette by him who had just come up to him.
"Lisa this is Sam."
"Hello Sam. So you're the guy Josh keeps talking about. Well, I'm glad to finally meet you." She offered her hand in greeting. He took in her appearance. She was wearing a pair of faded blue jeans and a black shirt. Casual was the word for it, as would be the proper word to describe the attire worn by most of the other people at the party he was at. He, however, was wearing a suit, having not been told of the dress code. Something he would have to talk to Josh about later.
"Hi," he said as he shook her hand.
Standing at five foot ten she was quite slim and though quite attractive her looks would not make her stand out in a crowd. Her features were more of a girl-next-door image than that of a model, but Sam saw her as attractive.
"A congressional aide, right?" Sam noticed a slight English accent mixed in with her American dialect.
"Yes. You're a friend of Josh's?"
"Something like that, it depends what kind of mood he's in. Sometimes he can be a right..." she trailed off, Sam getting the point. The two of them laughed and Josh just shook his head and smiled.
"Seeing as you're fine just insulting me even while I'm standing right here I think I'll leave you two alone."
Sam smiled slightly as he remembered back to the first time he had met Lisa. One could say that it had been love at first sight for Sam. They had spent the whole night talking. She explained that she was originally from England, though she had moved to America when she was eleven. Her father was American and her mother English.
She had just started a career as a journalist, but she had done speech writing in the past for a Republican senator. Asking her why she had stopped she had answered that she had become disillusioned by politics, adding quietly that she was secretly a Democrat supporter.
"What are you thinking about?" Josh asked, breaking the uncomfortable silence that had wound itself around the two men.
"The time you introduced me to Lisa at the party you were having."
Josh smiled as the memory surfaced in his mind. "Oh yeah. The 'let's insult Josh' night. Memories, huh?" Sam nodded and Josh sighed. "Yeah, I've been thinking about the past too. It's funny how you start thinking about events when..." he didn't finish. Sam understood. It had been the same when Josh had been shot. Memories surfaced of things past and one started to rethink one's life, and choices made.
"Do you ever wonder what things would have been like if things had been different?"
Josh eyed him critically. "What do you mean?"
"Things," he motioned his hand at the air. "If you hadn't come to me with the New Hampshire thing. It's... I just wonder how things would be now. Lisa and I could still be together..."
"And you could still be a lawyer working for the big guys and hating every minute of it." Sam didn't answer. "You never liked working at Gage... Gage-" Josh twirled his hand around as he failed to remember the name of Sam's old law firm.
Sam shook his head slightly; Josh could never remember the name. "Gage Whitney," he offered. "It is the second largest law firm in New York."
"Yeah," Josh breathed. The fact didn't matter much to him, he wouldn't probably remember it anyway in a few hours.
The door to the waiting room opened and Josh and Sam both stood up abruptly as a middle aged woman in blue scrubs walked walked in.
"I'm Dr Diane Peters," she said as she introduced himself.
"I'm Josh Lyman and," Josh gestured towards Sam, "this is Sam Seaborn."
Peters nodded politely. She knew the two men even without the introduction. "I was one of the surgeons operating on Ms Quinn."
"How is she?" Sam asked quickly.
"The operation went well and there were no complications. She is at the moment recovering."
"Can I see her?" Sam appealed.
The doctor hesitated. "She does need her rest, even though she is out of the woods she is still weak. For the next few-"
"Please," Sam interrupted, his eyes pleading with her.
"Okay," she said slowly, "but if you tire her out I will have to throw you out, understood." They both nodded.
"Excuse me, Dr Peters," Josh said to the doctor hesitantly, "have you heard anything about Donna, uh, Ms Moss?"
Peters smiled comfortingly, "She is still in surgery. But I do assure you that she is in the best hands. If there is any information I will have it relayed to you Mr Lyman."
Josh nodded and followed her and Sam.
"She'll be okay," Sam whispered but he knew that his friend couldn't be comforted until he would be able to see for himself.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
The first thing Sam became aware of when he walked into the darkened room Dr Peters had directed him to was the numerous machines surrounding the bed. He could hear the steady beeping from the heart monitor but the room still sounded eerily silent to him.
Making his way from the entrance of the door he silently pulled up a chair to the only bed inhabiting the room and sat down. His eyes watched over the still form of Lisa curled up in the bed, her pale features illuminated by the light creeping in from the corridor.
Sam heard Josh enter the room and looked up momentarily to see him take up a place in the corner of the room, keeping his distance. For the moment Josh knew that Sam needed some time alone with Lisa but he would be there if he was needed. Turning his attention back to Lisa, Sam brushed a few strands of hair that had fallen onto Lisa's face, away.
She stirred and slowly opened her eyes.
"S-Sam?" she asked, her voice barely audible as she looked at him.
"Yeah, it's me," he whispered, as he recoiled his hand back. What had been and what he wanted would have to be placed on the backburner. For now he would have to keep his emotions in check and just be a friend. "Sorry, didn't mean to wake you."
"That's okay," she murmured, still half asleep. "I hate hospitals."
"I know," he replied soothingly.
"I think I'm going to go to sleep now," she said quietly.
Sam nodded and started to get up. "Okay. I'll see-" but before he could finish a hand clasped his. He stopped and glanced at Lisa.
"Please stay," she pleaded.
"Okay," he said softly, taking his seat again, his hand in hers. This time he was going to keep it there. "I'll stay here."
Sam looked at Lisa, he hadn't been called that for ages. "Yeah?" he leaned in closer.
"I didn't mean what I said last night," she whispered, her eyes drooping shut.
Sam closed his eyes momentarily, a mixture of relief and happiness washing over him. "I know," he finally said. "Go to sleep now."
"'kay" came her muffled reply. "Love you."
He choked slightly at the the two words she uttered, only a little more than a whisper but still audible. A part of him knew that she was still confused from everything that had happened but he was not going to go down the whole psychoanalysis road. That could wait.
"I love you too," he quietly confided as he gently kissed her on the forehead. So much for trying to keep his emotions in check. He cast his eyes to where Josh was still standing stoically.
Josh gestured towards the door, signalling that he would leave the two of them alone.
Sam raised his eyebrow in a questioning manner. Would he be okay? Sam's silent mannerisms spoke. The advantage of being good friends with someone was that words did not need to be spoken on occasions to get a message across. It was a secret language of sorts privileged only to good friends.
Josh gave a small nod and smile before leaving the room and Sam. The room was enveloped in darkness as the door closed, only the continuos sound from the machines and Lisa's steady breathing to keep Sam company.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Josh walked back out into the hospital corridor, closing the door to Lisa's room after him. Sagging against the wall he choked back a cry. Yes, he was glad that Lisa was all right but right now all he could think about was Donna. How long would it take until she was out of surgery, until he could get some information? Then he remembered that when he had been shot he had been in surgery for fourteen hours. He wondered if Donna had felt like this then. God Donna, he thought to himself, don't put me through this.
He started walking, not quite sure where he was going, he just needed to do something. There was nothing worse than feeling so utterly helpless. His surroundings turned into a blur as his mind went into autopilot. Things he should do raced through his mind. He should call Leo and update him on the situation. Then he should go and see CJ, make sure she was okay. Was there anything else he should do?
By this point Josh was too embroiled in his thoughts to hear his name being called. Until, that is, a hand clutched his shoulder and brought him to attention. A startled Josh turned around to face the person.
"Mrs Bartlet," he said startled, his heart beat just returning to normal. Numerous secret service agents with her took up position along the corridor.
"I'm sorry Josh, I didn't mean to surprise you. Though, in my defence, I have been calling your name for the last minute."
"My mind was somewhere else," he apologised.
She smiled and put a comforting hand on his arm. "That's okay. I've been looking for you but you weren't in the waiting room."
He nodded. "Lisa came out of surgery. Sam wanted to see her."
"I heard. Josh, I came to tell you that Donna's come out of surgery."
Josh's eyes widened and if it was possible his heart would have stopped. "H-How is she?" he asked hesitantly. He wanted to know but at the same time he didn't. What if it was bad news, what if she hadn't made it? Don't you dare think like that Joshua Lyman, he chastised himself.
"At one point it was touch and go," Abbey's face was grim and Josh could feel his legs weaken. "But-" A small smile crept to her face. There was a but, thank God for that one word, Josh thought. "But she pulled through," the First Lady continued.
"Oh God, thank you." His legs finally gave way but he managed to make it to a batch of nearby chairs with Abbey's help before completely collapsing. "For a minute there I thought... Oh boy... She is going to be okay, though?" he asked, his mind in turmoil.
Abbey sat down next to Josh as she readied herself to tell him the diagnosis she had been given by the surgeon on the case. "She made it through the surgery, which is encouraging because it shows that she's a fighter. In the accident she suffered a blunt force against her abdomen, rupturing her spleen in the process. This in turn caused severe haemorrhaging. The surgeons had to remove the spleen and the bleeding was stopped in the end-"
"Mrs Bartlet," Josh interrupted, his eyes pleading the answer he needed. "Is she going to be okay?"
"The next few hours are critical," she admitted. "From now on it's up to her."
"I need to see her," he said quickly.
"Of course," she said softly. "I have to warn you, though, that she will look very frail when you see her, and that there will be quite a lot of machines in there. Just so you know what to expect, okay?"
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Josh watched Donna silently as he sat in her hospital room, his chair pulled up next to the bed. There had been no response from her as she lay there, the only indication of her being alive was the steady rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. Abbey had been right; she did look frail, her alabaster skin paler than usual. The only colour seemingly on her face was the dark bruise forming around a small cut on the right side of her forehead that had been stitched up.
The First Lady had left him alone with Donna fifteen minutes ago and now here Josh was, sitting in the dark. She had said that he should talk to her; easier said than done. What was he supposed to say?
"So Donna," he said, breaking the silence that had started to unnerve him. "If this was your plan to try and get Sam and Lisa together I have to say that it's working. But I think I should point out that your whole approach is flawed." Nothing. But then again Abbey had said that this was normal; or something like that. To be honest he hadn't heard much of what she had been saying. Everything seemed to merge together and become a jumbled mess.
He sighed as the room was once again thrown into silence.
"Come on Donna." He took one of her hands in his as he spoke and squeezed it gently. Don't do this to me, he added silently. Just wake up. "I'll give you a raise."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Abbey opened the door to the hospital room and walked in quietly, careful not to disturb the sleeping patient. The figure sitting by the bed glanced at her, surprise entering his tired features.
"Hi Sam," she whispered and proceeded to motion him not to stand.
Sam nodded. "Mrs Bartlet. Nothing's wrong is it?" he asked, every now and again casting his eyes to the peacefully sleeping Lisa, making sure that he wouldn't wake her.
Abbey was quick to quash is fears with a quick shake of her head. "I'm just making my rounds. Making sure everyone is okay," she said with a smile. She had seen CJ, then it had been Josh, to tell him about Donna, and now it was Sam's turn. "Donna's out of surgery," she informed as she sat down on a nearby chair.
Sam looked at her. "Josh-" he started but was shortly stopped by Abbey.
"I've already told him, he's by her bedside now. Where I'm guessing he is going to stay until she wakes up."
"How is she?" he asked.
"She's fighting," she said simply. They would know more in the morning.
"Okay." Sam turned back to watching over Lisa, unaware of the conversation going on. His hand was still holding hers. He hadn't moved it for fear of waking her, then again he hadn't wanted to let go either. Somehow he thought that if he let go he would lose her, stupid he knew, but the feeling was still present.
"Fate, huh?" Abbey spoke out.
"Excuse me, ma'am?" Sam asked, slightly confused.
"Fate. Zoey was telling me that Lisa had had booked a seat for a flight going back to England tomorrow."
Sam closed his eyes; he hadn't known that. Of course he had known that she would be going back, she had said so herself, but he hadn't known it would have been so soon. He wondered if Lisa would have told him at all, if she would have just gone without even a goodbye.
"Maybe this is a second chance," Abbey prodded. Jed had warned her not to try her matchmaking, but then again when did she ever listen to him. It hadn't worked with Mallory, who was now dating a hockey player, but Lisa and Sam... they had a history together. They just needed a little push.
"She doesn't have anything here to keep her," he said disheartened, his voice filled with disappointment.
"She has you," Abbey replied.
"And a job in England."
Abbey got up, a plan formulating in her head. Sam missed the smile crossing her lips. "Don't sell yourself short. If she's smart she'll make the right decision. Some people just need a little help." She patted him on the shoulder. Just a small push, she thought. Now, just to find her husband.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
It was nearing seven o'clock as Leo walked through the bull pen. Things were relatively quiet, he noticed. There were a few people around working, but not the usual buzz he would associate with the place. Then again, there was no Josh present, or Donna, which meant that there was no yelling going on.
"Ginger! I need that report!" He had spoken too soon, he thought, the gruff voice called out to one of the assistants in the pen. Leo started walking towards the office to which the voice belonged to.
Toby was sorting through a pile of papers on his desk when Leo poked his head into the office.
"Hey," Leo said as Toby looked up and nodded, before returning to sorting the reports on his desk. There was more to do with Sam not here. "How are you doing?" Leo walked into the office.
"Busy. Fortunately Sam finished the draft of the education speech the President is giving next week before all of this happened. I'm going to go over it in a minute."
"Good. Abbey called. They're out of surgery." Toby looked up again expectantly. Leo continued, "Donna hasn't woken up yet. The doctors are hopeful that she'll make it, but we have to wait and see. Lisa is doing fine."
"That's good," Toby finally spoke.
"Yeah. I don't think Josh and Sam will leave willingly for the next few days-"
"Things are reasonably quiet. I can manage without Sam for a few days." Toby let out a small smile. Call it a little break from his young deputy.
"Okay. CJ's going to be released tomorrow. I'm willing to bet that she'll come straight here, no matter what the doctors say."
Toby was about to reply when the phone on his desk rang. He reached for it and picked it up.
"Toby Ziegler," he said. "Mr President." Leo looked at Toby. "Yes he's here," he said after a few seconds. "Just a minute, sir." Toby pressed a few buttons on his phone as he activated the speaker phone. Placing the phone handle down on the desk he told the President that Leo could hear him now.
"Hello Mr President. I hope nothing's wrong," Leo said.
"No," the President's voice came through. "Well it depends what you would see as wrong. It seems that my wife has decided to fill Cupid's shoes for a little while." Leo smiled as he heard a few words in the background. He could only guess that it was Abbey giving her opinion. "Anyway..."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Light was pouring into the room through the blinds as Sam let out a quiet groan. He shifted in his seat, trying to get comfortable in a seat that he had spent the night in. One would think that they could make hospital chairs a little bit more seat friendly, he thought to himself. His neck creaked and muscles protested at the sudden use, not to mention his back, which was painfully making Sam aware that he had not slept in a bed.
Checking his watch he saw that it was nearly midday. He hadn't been able to sleep much through the night, though he managed a few naps here and there, but not enough to shake off the exhaustion he was feeling.
Groaning again, he rubbed his chin, and felt the stubble that had grown there. Adding that to the bloodshot eyes he knew he had and his rumpled clothes, he knew he probably looked pretty terrible.
Speaking his thoughts, a voice spoke, "You look awful."
Sam looked over suddenly at Lisa. When had she woken up? She was looking blearily at him; still pale but looking considerably better than last night.
"Hey," he said as he propped his elbows on the bed.
"Hello," she replied, rubbing the remnants of sleep from her eyes. "You look awful," she repeated and he noticed the worry present in her voice.
"I'm okay." Okay, that could have sounded a little more convincing, then again Lisa would have seen straight through it. That's one thing about being close to a person, you can't hide things from them. Close, he thought. They were once, but what about now?
"You stayed here all night."
It hadn't been a question, but Sam still answered, "Yeah."
"Thank you," she said sincerely. "But you really do look awful."
"I think we've already established that," he said softly with a smile. "How do you feel?"
"Hurts." She looked at him and then smiled weakly as she added, "Like I've been hit by a truck."
"Close enough," Sam said. She started to try and get into a seated position. "Here, let me help you." He noticed that she hesitated slightly as he took hold of her arm to help her up, and Sam wondered if she was going to pull away, but she never did. After a few minutes of careful help and propping up of a few pillows Lisa was sitting up. Feeling her muscles tense up Sam looked at her in concern and saw a brief flicker of pain sweep across her face.
She saw his worry and shrugged him off. "I don't think I'll be doing any acrobatics for awhile," she joked as he gently leaned her back against the pillows.
"Should I get a doctor?" He was ready to bolt out of the door in search of one but Lisa shook her head.
Sam sat back down in his chair.
"How's Donna?" she questioned. Lisa had woken up in the night after having a nightmare, slightly disorientated. He had told her about the conditions of the others then.
"Still the same."
They sat in silence for awhile. Then Sam said, "I had someone cancel your flight." There was no anger in his voice, just hurt.
She flinched as he mentioned the flight. "I was going to tell you about that," she lied. Was she? Lisa thought to herself. Truthfully, she didn't know.
Sam saw through it and drew back into his seat.
"We know each other too well," she said sadly. "The reception thing... We hardly left on the best of terms and I... I'm sorry Sammy."
He sighed but still let out a smile, "I hate that." He had told her that the first time she had used it, and though she didn't use it a lot she would sometimes hide it in a sentence in an effort to tease him.
A smile played on her lips. "I know." Sam held back a yawn. "Go and get something to eat and drink."
He looked at her. "You sure?"
She nodded. "Go and see Josh too. I'm sure he'd like to see you."
"Okay." He got up but hesitated for a moment as he looked at her, struggling with what was on his mind. Leaning towards her he kissed her lightly. "I'll be back soon."
"Okay," she said after him, her voice barely a whisper.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Did you know that in the War of 1812 the British set fire to the White House on August 4th 1814?"
Lisa nearly jumped out of her skin at the familiar voice. "Mr President!" she said with a start as she looked up at the figure that had just entered the room. The sudden movement was less than welcome by her body as her injury made its protest well known. Wincing, she leaned back against the pillows behind her back.
"Are you okay?" he asked in concern.
She smiled and managed a small nod as she tried to ride through the pain. "I hope you'll excuse me for not standing."
"I think we can overlook the matter for now," the President said with a slight smile.
"It is a pleasure to meet you sir."
The President sat down on a nearby chair. "We have met before, on the campaign trail." The meeting had been brief. Sam had introduced the two of them as Lisa had come down for the first time.
"Yes sir," she concurred. "But you were a candidate for Presidency then."
"I'm still the same person, just a different title."
"Yes sir. I hope Zoey is okay."
"She's fine, a little sore but fine. Sam stepped out for a minute?"
"He left to get something to eat."
"Good. It'll give us some time to talk. So, did you know that the British set fire to the White House?" the President asked again.
"History has never been my strong point sir." She was starting to wonder where this was all going.
"You don't have a tendency to set things on fire do you?"
"No sir," she said cautiously, not quite knowing what was happening. "Only when it comes to cooking," she added. However hard she tried she always managed to burn her food, even her toast.
The President smiled. "Good. Did you know that Sam and Josh have tried burning the place down once already." She shook her head. "No? Oh, well I'm sure they will be happy to explain to you all the details."
"Yes sir." She was still none the wiser to why he was here, that was until...
"Toby tells me that there is an opening as a junior speech writer. I heard that you have done some speech writing in the past," the President said.
"For a Republican senator." Things were beginning to fall into place.
"Well, I'm sure we can forget that momentary slip of judgement." The President smiled to let Lisa know he was joking. "It is only a junior position but-"
Time to set things straight. "Excuse me Mr President, but I do have a job, in England."
"I am aware of that, but Sam is here in Washington."
Lisa shook her head in disbelief. "Did Zoey put you up to this, sir?"
"She said some things which in turn started the cogs turning in the Lady Macbeth that is my wife."
She gave a small smile. "With all due respect, there's a reason I gave up politics, sir."
"I know, but that was with the Republican party."
"And politics with the Democrats would be different?"
"Yes, we're the good guys."
"That could be construed as a matter of opinion."
"That it could. I'll leave it up to you."
"Thank you Mr President, but I do not think I will change my mind." She hoped that that would have been it, but it was not to be.
"Do you love Sam?" he asked seriously.
Lisa looked at him with a startled expression on her face. "I, uh, I- Mr President, it's not as simple as-"
"You didn't answer my question," he calmly pointed out.
Lisa opened her mouth a couple of times but no sound came out, until one word finally made it out, "Yes."
The President smiled. "Then it is as simple as that. I am sure you have heard of the saying, where there's a will there's a way."
Oh God, the President's channelling Donna, Lisa thought. They're all ganging up on me.
"I-" How was she supposed to the tell the President of the United States to mind his own business? She looked at her hands. "Sam told me you were the real thing, so did Josh." The President didn't comment as he waited for Lisa to continue. "I have to admit, sir, that I hated Josh, and I hated you, for taking Sam away." There was still no reply from the President and Lisa was beginning to wonder if she was crossing a line by saying all of this. "But this... it makes him happy and for that I should be thanking you."
"He is an excellent deputy communications director," he acknowledged.
Lisa sighed. "In New York, he didn't like it, he tried to but he didn't fit in. It just wasn't him. I tried to convince myself that things would be okay but..." she trailed off. "Please believe me, I thought about this. But living on different continents doesn't help a relationship. It was bad enough when I was still in New York and he was on the campaign trail. I just... You could say that I'm afraid of making the wrong decision. I miss him but... I don't know what to do." There, she had said it. It making any sense, on the other hand, was another matter altogether.
"Samuel Smiles, a surgeon born in 1812, once said that 'we learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do'." The President paused as he let what he had said take its roots. "The job is open there for you if you want it, it is up to you. Only you can make that decision," he finally said. Getting up from his seat he started for the door just as Sam came in, coffee in one hand and doughnut in the other.
"Mr President," Sam said. He had seen the President's agents outside the room as he came in so he wasn't surprised to see him in the room but he was surprised that he was there in the first place.
"Sam," the President nodded before making his way out. Sam looked quizzically at Lisa. What had all that been about?
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Sam looked at Lisa for an explanation as he set his coffee cup and doughnut down on a nearby table but she was less than giving.
"Eating junk food isn't good for you," she said as she spied the doughnut. "Can I have some?"
Sam stared at her, his lips tugging into a smile. He had missed this. "Some could call you hypocritical."
She raised an eyebrow. "Are you calling me hypocritical?"
"No. I'm just-"
"Good. Now give me some."
"Please," he teased.
Lisa rolled her eyes but complied. "Please."
He handed her half the doughnut. "What did the President want?" Sam finally asked. He had been aware that Lisa had been trying to broach him away from the visit but she was going to have no such luck.
"He came to tell me that on August 4th 1814 the British set fire to the White House. Did you know that?"
"He also told me about an incident involving you and Josh and building a fire."
"That was Josh's fault," Sam defended himself. "So, what did the President want?" he asked again.
"You know that you are a lot like the President?"
"Because you are."
"Lisa," he pressed.
"The President offered me a job," she blurted out. He shot a look at her. Had he just heard correctly?
"As a junior speech writer at the White House." She looked at him to gauge his reaction. It soon became apparent that this was the first time Sam had heard anything about it.
"I, uh- What did you say?" he asked, hope not difficult to miss in his voice, but from the look on Lisa's face he guessed that it had not been yes.
"I didn't say anything." The hope in Sam lit
again. "He didn't give me a chance." Hope flew out of the window.
"I understand," he said. It was stupid to think that everything could go back to the way it had been. It had been nice to think that for awhile, however.
"I'm sorry Sam, but I have a job and... It's just... Things have just spiralled out of control and I don't know what to do. It's just-"
"Time, you need time."
"You understand?" she asked hopefully.
"No, not really." Sam paused. "But... you have a job, in England." He took a deep breath. "The one you left me for." Had he just said that out loud?
"What?" Lisa said quietly. Yes, he had.
"Josh told me the reason why you left," he said. He saw anger cross her features but it soon passed, replaced by tiredness and surrender. Without a second thought he moved to the bed and sat on it. Careful not to aggravate her injury he put his arms around her as he leaned back against the pillows and pulled her closer. "You could have told me," he whispered. They had had no secrets, or at least he had thought so, it had been something they had agreed on early on in their relationship.
"What would you have done?" she asked gently as her head nestled into his shoulder.
Sam stroked her hair. "I'm sorry?"
"If I'd told you, what would you have done?" The question threw Sam. What would he have done? When Josh had come to him about joining Bartlet's campaign and told him that he was the real thing, there had been no question about it. He had quit Gage Whitney without a second thought. But then he hadn't known about Lisa's career offering. What would have been more important? Couldn't he have had both?
"I would have given up the campaign." Priorities.
"Sam," she muttered, raising her head slightly off his chest.
"I wouldn't have regretted it, not if it meant not losing you," he said seriously.
"Yes you would have," she maintained. "You love your job. Don't kid yourself about that." She placed her hand over his and looked at him. "The things... the things I said at the reception... Sam, I want you to know that I was happy for you, it was just that I had been offered the job and it was something that I couldn't give up then."
"I could have given it up," he repeated.
She shook her head. "I didn't want you forty years down the line, when we were old and grey and in our rocking chairs, to look back and regret not taking the job." Sam couldn't help but smile. "What?"
"Forty years down the line and in our rocking chairs?"
"Well I'm not quite sure about the rocking chairs but I was in it for the long haul." Sam bowed his head sadly. She squeezed his hand before saying, "I should have told you the truth earlier, and I'm sorry I didn't." She closed her eyes momentarily and tried to stifle a yawn.
"Get some sleep," Sam said quietly. Priorities. What about now? He honestly didn't know.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
It is strange how things are put in perspective by events in one's life. Josh wondered how Donna had felt when it had been him in the bed. The weeks after he had been released from the hospital he had been shadowed by her. She hadn't said it but he knew she had been worried for him. Now the roles had been reversed and he was scared, no doubt about it. But there was something else, he wasn't just scared about losing an assistant and friend, he cared for her.
Through the night he had been able to do a lot of thinking and every time his thoughts came to Donna. Maybe it was some kind of phase, or an ear balance, but he discovered that he held feelings her. He had to admit that there had been a small crush of sorts when he had first seen her, but now it seemed to have progressed to something more.
"God Donna, why do you have to always complicate things for me," he sighed. Could she even hear him? For some of the things he had said last night, he hoped that she couldn't. At one point last night there had been a scare, and the room had been filled with doctors and nurses. Everything was okay now, she was stable, but the event had caused Josh to open his heart and speak his mind. "Just please wake up. I need you. Who's going to organise my day and badger me with inane questions every second."
"Is this your way of saying that you need me, because if it is Josh, you're really going to have to work on it," a hoarse voice interrupted the single conversation Josh had been having.
"Donna!" Josh nearly fell out of his seat. "Thank God." He pressed the call button near the bed to alert the nurse's station.
"The one and only," she murmured as she hazily took in her surroundings. She was in a hospital, that much she could make out and every inch of her body ached. "What happened?" she asked as her eyes flicked around the room.
"There was a car accident." Donna started nodding but stopped when she found that even that small task was painful. Slowly recollections started coming back, but only in fragments. "Everyone else is okay," he assured softly.
"Mr Lyman?" a nurse asked as she came rushing.
"She's awake," Josh said, not able to hide the elation and relief from his voice.
"I'll get the doctor."
"Don't ever do that to me again," Josh said.
Donna closed her eyes. "Trust me, I don't intend to."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"CJ!" CJ turned painfully to the direction of the voice. Still wearing a neck brace she had to move her whole body to look at a person. They said that whiplash caused more pain the days following the accident, and they weren't kidding. The doctors had told her to rest but she couldn't. One thing about being the White House Press Secretary was the rarity of the word rest. Anyway, she figured if she just didn't move around at all she could handle the pain. So far that theory hadn't worked. Not moving wasn't exactly a thing that could be done if one needed to walk.
"You don't need to shout Carol," she said to her assistant as she she kept on walking.
"Sorry," Carol said. "Shouldn't you be at home resting."
"Yes," CJ said simply.
"CJ!" another voice yelled.
CJ stopped and made a detour to Toby's office. "Toby, I am not deaf," she said to the Communications Director sitting behind the desk.
"You should be at home." If one more person was going to tell her that she was going to scream.
"I'm not, I'm here."
"Well I can see that," he said sarcastically.
She sent him a look that said that he should drop the subject.
"CJ, you should be at home."
"Mr President," Toby and CJ said in unison, as they turned to face him, with Toby standing up.
Okay, maybe screaming at this point wouldn't be such a good idea.
"They gave me painkillers. I'm fine," CJ assured, her voice calm.
"Okay." The President moved on. "I thought you should know that Donna woke up."
"Thank God," CJ breathed a sigh of relief. She had been in to see Josh and Donna just before Danny had come to drive her to the White House and she could see how worried Josh had been.
"I've got Charlie getting the word going, and a press briefing should probably be given." He looked at CJ.
"Already on it," she said, and she was. She was already preparing what to say in her head.
The President smiled, things were beginning to get back to normal here. He just hoped things would be the same at the hospital.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"So, what about my raise?"
"Excuse me?" Josh looked at Donna, who had been propped up in the bed. She was looking a little better as colour was returning to her skin, much to the relief of Josh.
"You told me that I could get a raise," she said innocently.
"How- But you- Donna!" What more had she heard?
She smiled softly and reached for his hand. "I thought what you said was very sweet."
He took her hand into his and moved closer to the bed. "Sweet?" Yep, she had heard what he had said. "I'd just like to say that I thought I was going to lose you and I just needed to get the things off my chest. You scared the hell out of me."
"Now you know how I felt when you got yourself shot?"
"You know, it wasn't my fault I got shot," Josh protested.
"Didn't anyone teach you to duck?" she countered.
"I think I was sick on that day." They smiled. "Donna, those things I said-"
"You didn't mean them?" she asked. Did he hear disappointment in her voice? Yes, it had been there.
"No, I mean yes. I meant them."
"So-" Donna started.
"Yeah." Oh this was just great. And they say getting things off your chest makes you feel better, yeah right.
They sat uncomfortably for a seconds, each looking everywhere but at each other but still holding each other's hands.
"Okay," he breathed. "So, I thought maybe when you're fit, we could, uh, you know, go to dinner. If you want to," he hurriedly added.
"I'd love that Joshua," she said warmly. That was a good sign.
"Will this mean that you'll get me coffee from now on."
"No." Well you couldn't have everything.
They heard the door to the room open. Donna and Josh unclasped their hands just as Sam walked in.
"Don't you knock?" Josh asked as he distanced himself from Donna.
Sam looked at him in surprise, and then at Donna. They both had guilty expressions on their faces. He inwardly smiled, but kept his face neutral.
"I'm glad to see that you're okay," he directed at Donna.
"That can be debated," she mumbled but smiled.
"I need your help," he told her. "That is, if you're up to it." Donna nodded and motioned him to go on. "It's Lisa."
"Why am I not surprised?" Josh muttered. He was still holding a small grudge against Sam for interrupting them.
"What's the problem?" Donna asked quietly, shushing Josh at the same time.
"It seems she's been offered a job as a junior speech writer with us."
"Us?" Josh interrupted. "As in the White House us, as in Washington DC?"
How come Sam wasn't smiling then? Josh asked himself. "She said no, didn't she?" he asked.
Sam nodded his head and looked at Donna for advice.
"You want her to stay?" she questioned, holding back a yawn.
"Have you told her that you want her to stay?"
"Not in so many words-" Sam started.
"Ahuh," she said weakly, it would have sounded better if she had been able to place some gusto into it but she managed to get the point across, or so she thought.
"Ahuh?" Sam repeated in confusion.
"You men are so dumb, you know that?"
Josh looked at her in mock offence. "Hey, just
because you're weak doesn't mean you can insult the male race. And I don't think we're the
ones that are dumb. You women have to have everything spelled out to you."
Donna rolled her eyes. "What's wrong with having things spelled out? It's like when you tell a woman that you love her. If men ever manage to get the words out they say it when she's either asleep or when she can't hear." The two of them glared at each other. Even in her current state Donna could hold an argument.
"Maybe I should come back later," Sam offered as he was pulled into a something that he wasn't quite sure what it was about.
"Oh, sorry Sam," Donna apologised. "You have to tell her exactly how you feel. Take her flowers and tell her that you want her to stay."
"Okay. Flowers and tell her to stay," Sam repeated. Hope it would be that easy, he thought. "Thanks." I think.
"No problem. I should charge for my services."
Both Sam and Josh shared a smile.
"It's good to see you getting better," Sam said.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Lisa." She looked up at the sound of her name. In the doorway Sam stood, with half a dozen red roses in one hand and an apprehensive smile on his face.
Moving into the room he placed the roses on a bed tray on Lisa's hospital bed.
"You still like roses, don't you?" he asked as he kissed her on the forehead. Flowers and tell her how you feel, he kept repeating in his head.
She nodded, slightly speechless. It was not as though Sam had never bought her flowers when they were together, but they weren't together anymore. Regaining her voice, "Traditional yet beautiful." That's what she had said the first time he had bought her roses; half a dozen and red. "Donna's okay?"
"Still weak but getting there." Lisa was still staring absently at the flowers. "Are you okay?"
Sam looked at her. "Why do you think that? I used to bring you flowers in New York."
"You have that look, and when you put it together with flowers... something's up."
No point in putting it off. Taking a deep breath he looked at her. He hoped that Donna was right. "I don't want you to go," he said with conviction.
"Sam-" Lisa started.
"Please, just hear me out. We could make things work. I've missed you and... Stay, take the job, if not that job another one. I'm sure you could find one, just..." his voice had taken on a pleading tone by now. "I want us to be together again," he pushed. "We were good together and I think we could make it work." He gave out a nervous laugh. "If I had had time I could have written a speech detailing my arguments, but..." he trailed off. He noticed that Lisa had taken his hand into hers. When had she done that? Maybe it was a good sign, then again she could be trying to soften the blow. Stop thinking, he ordered his brain.
They looked at each other for what seemed like an eternity. Lisa's face had become unreadable and Sam wondered what was going through her mind at the moment.
"Sam," she started. Her face was still indecipherable, what he would give for telepathic abilities. What would she say? There were only two possibilities, a yes or a no. He searched her face, nothing, no clue at all. She opened her mouth to speak again.
"Thank God you're okay!" Okay, that wasn't Lisa. Yes, it had been a female voice and a visibly English accent, but not Lisa's. Sam disentangled his hand from hers and stepped away from the bed as Lisa's parents hurried into the room. Catherine Quinn was the first to hug Lisa, Jack Quinn standing nearby. "We were so worried. And then we couldn't get a plane out..."
"Mum. It's good to see you," Lisa said as she hugged her back gently, mindful of her injury. She looked over the shoulder of her mother and to Sam; the puppy dog face pasted on his features.
Sam inched his way towards the open door. "I'll leave you three to it then," Sam spoke up. "I'm sure you have a lot to talk about."
"Sam," Catherine said, as she realised that they may have interrupted something. By the looks on both Sam and Lisa's face it was a pretty sure bet. "You don't need to go."
"I should go and... well... call in at the office and that." He looked at Lisa. "Take care," with those words he left.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Sam, I hope we didn't interrupt anything."
"Mr Quinn," Sam turned around to face Lisa's father. "No, no you didn't," he lied. Only a small matter of knowing if Lisa and I could make things work, he added silently to himself. "Shouldn't you be in there with Lisa?"
"Catherine and her are talking, and when they talk..." he trailed off with a hint of a smile. "Well, you know how it is, you can't get a word in edgeways."
Sam smiled. The two of them could certainly speak for the whole of the United States, from what he had seen.
"It's been long time since we've see you. What has it been, three years?"
"Just about." Sam and Lisa had flown over to Canada and to her parent's ranch for a weekend. It had been one of the rare moments when Sam hadn't been working on the campaign and they had decided to take a break. That had been a few weeks before she had left him, and the engagement called off. Looking back now there had been signs. Lisa had been unusually quiet and drawn. If only he had seen the signs. All the signs he had missed...
"Yeah," Jack said as he remembered the occasion. "You've made quite a name for yourself here in DC. I always knew you would make it big."
"Thank you Mr Quinn." He didn't know what else to say. Compliments from him were a rare commodity to say the least.
"Please, call me Jack. You used to before, no point in breaking old habits."
"Okay," he said cautiously, his eyes watching Lisa's father.
If one thought the President was bad with who his daughters dated, or for that matter Leo, they should think again. Lisa's father was like Lionel Tribbey with his cricket bat. No, bad thought, don't think of that, Sam thought to himself.
He couldn't help but remember the time he had first met Lisa's parents. Catherine Quinn had been lovely, but Jack Quinn... While Lisa and her mum talked, he had been ushered outside by Jack, and had the whole father and boyfriend talk, while Jack had been taking pot-shots with his gun at bottles in the distance. Suffice to say, it had not been a most relaxing time for him.
"She's not dating anyone," Jack said suddenly. Sam looked at him in surprise. "There was someone about a year back, but it didn't work out." He looked directly at Sam. "Still in love with someone else."
Sam glanced down at his feet.
Jack continued. "I was glad nothing came of the thing with this guy, I didn't like him. I've always liked you Sam. May have never told you that, but it's true. When Lisa brought you home I was happy, because at least it wasn't one of those yahoos she used to date. Of course I never thought you were good enough for my daughter, but then again, give me one father who ever thinks of a suitor as worthy enough of their little girl."
"Yes Mr- Jack," he corrected himself.
"What I'm trying to say is-" he clamped his hand onto Sam's shoulder, the weight of it doing nothing to ease the intimidation he was feeling at the moment. It also wasn't helping that Jack was being so nice. "Is that, make it work," Jack continued. "I know you still like her, any fool can see that, and she still likes you. To put it simply, we want to see our daughter get married soon, and preferably to you. We would also like some grandchildren, and we'd like them while we're still young enough to play with them."
Sam coughed slightly and fidgeted uncomfortably at the abruptness of all of this, but then again he should have expected it. Jack Quinn had never been known for his subtleties.
"I better get back in there."
"Yeah." Okay, he had to say that he was now more confused than ever. This had probably been the first time a father of the woman he was with, or had been in this case, encouraging them to be together. Yes, definitely confusing.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
A week later.
He had never known, and he probably would never know. Sam placed the suitcase in the boot of the car. Just over a week had passed since Lisa's parents had interrupted the conversation, and he had never known. They had stayed by her side for nearly all the time. He slammed the boot shut, maybe a little too hard, he thought as the noise assaulted his ears.
Her parents had gone back to Canada yesterday after Lisa persuaded them that she would be fine. Sam had promised them that he would take care of her and so with his assurances Catherine and Jack had reluctantly left.
Relations over the week between Lisa and himself had grown closer, but the subject of the possibility of her staying on was never broached again, and he had never asked again. Now he was driving her to the airport.
The doctors had given her the all clear to leave the hospital. He had tried to persuade Lisa to take a couple more days to recuperate before flying back to England but she had said no; there was work to do. So it had been decided and the flight booked. There was not a lot he could do now. He would drive her to the airport and that would be it. They had agreed to stay in touch, but it wasn't the same.
Leaning against the side of his car he took a few moments to gather his thoughts. Maybe he could still ask her, there was still time. She had never given an answer. There was that possibility that she would have said yes. Shaking his head he mentally sighed. She was going, he couldn't stop her. Pushing himself off the car he started back into the hospital to get her.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Lisa finished signing the various forms one of the nurses at the front desk had handed her. Handing them back she smiled at the nurse and nodded her goodbyes before slowly making her way to the seating area. Sam had told her to wait for her while he placed her bag in the car. She had tried to argue but in the end he won, though she had won on the issue of refraining him from pushing her out in a wheelchair.
Of course she was flattered by his concern for her health but she could only stand so much before starting to feel too overprotected. She was getting her strength back. The doctors had said that she would feel pain from her injury for a little while to come but that she should be okay.
In a few hours she would be on her flight back to England, and away from Sam. This day had weighed on her mind heavily the last few days, and doubts had begin to form. Was she really doing the right thing?
"Lisa." She looked up at the figure that had come over to her, breaking her thoughts.
"Mr McGarry," she said in surprise. He motioned her to stay seated.
Sitting on the chair next to her he said, "I hear you're leaving." She nodded. "The position is still open."
She looked at him, a slightly absent appearance on her features. Leo at first thought she might not have heard him until she spoke.
"The President is not one to give up, is he?"
"No. Call it head hunting," Leo said. He could tell that she was thinking about something as her eyes still held a distant look.
"You could probably find someone better qualified for the job."
"Toby's seen your work, he likes it."
"Really?" she asked sceptically and looked at him.
"No, not really," he said with a grin. "The President told me what I should say, he even offered to write them down on cue cards."
Lisa let out a short laugh. It would have been longer had it not been for her abdomen protesting to the exertion.
"Sam is very popular," she said.
"He's part of the family. The baby if you will."
"Don't let him hear you say that," she smiled just as she spied Sam coming towards them.
"If you change your mind, call me." Leo handed her a small business card with a phone number on it.
"Okay," she said. Placing the card in her coat pocket she looked at Sam as she neared her.
"Leo," Sam acknowledged. "I didn't know you were here."
Leo got up from his seat. "Just came to see Donna, and say goodbye." He looked at Lisa and nodded. "Have a good flight."
"Thank you Mr McGarry," she said quietly as she watched him leave.
Sam offered a hand to help Lisa up. "Are you ready?" he asked softly.
She took his hand. No, she thought silently to herself. "Yeah. Let's go."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"So, this is it," Sam said as he and Lisa stood facing each other in the bustling terminal of the airport. They had checked in her luggage already and now Lisa was ready to go past customs and to her gateroom.
"Promise to call me once you get to England."
"Sure," she nodded quickly. They stood awkwardly for a moment until Sam took the initiative and doing the only thing that came naturally. Placing his arms around her he pulled her into an embrace and kissed her.
To the passing person they could have been mistaken as couple saying their emotional goodbyes as they departed for a short while. Sam and Lisa, however, were not a couple, not anymore, and they would probably not see each other for awhile.
"I should go," she said as she pulled away from his arms, sniffing slightly.
"Yeah, don't want to miss your flight." His hand reached to stroke her face.
"No," she shook her head.
"Lisa," he started, there was one thing he needed to know before she would leave. "If you hadn't been offered the job in England three years ago, would you have married me?"
She looked at him. "Yes," she finally said. "No question about it."
"Call me," he repeated.
"I will." She pulled away completely and started walking away, only glancing back once to wave a final goodbye. Sam watched until she disappeared out of view, blending into the crowds of people heading for their flights. This was it.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
If a man... Lisa's thoughts stopped as she tried to remember the quote. She had been trying to put her finger down on it for a few hours now but so far she had had no luck. If a man will begin... no, it had alluded her and she gave up.
She was standing in the queue for her flight which had begun boarding procedures and her mind was racked with self doubts. Was she doing the right thing? she kept asking herself. She had been so certain that the answer to that question would have been yes if she was asked it a year or two ago, now she didn't know.
Three years ago when she had left Sam she had tried not to look back, no point in looking into the past she had told herself. Now... Now she was looking back and what she saw was that she was making a big mistake; she was running away from life for fear of a rough road ahead.
"If you hadn't been offered the job in England three years ago, would you have married me?" Sam had asked her. She had said yes, that there would have been no question about it. Then what the hell was she doing now, leaving for England?
"I thought we had something, something that was worth fighting for. You didn't give a chance for us to try and make it work." The words had been imprinted in her mind ever since Sam had uttered them on the balcony on the night of the reception. He had been right.
"Can I have your ticket ma'am?" Lisa was pulled out of her thoughts as she realised she was at the front of the queue.
She handed her ticket over to the woman at the desk, and then it came to her: if a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. The quote by Francis Bacon she had been searching for revealed itself.
"Have a pleasant journey ma'am," the woman said cheerfully.
"Thanks," Lisa mumbled as she was given her ticket stub. She was about to take it when she stopped.
"Ma'am?" the woman asked as Lisa just stared at the ticket and then out of the window and at the awaiting aeroplane. "Ma'am?"
"Oh." Her hand hovered near it. "Keep it." She had decided. It was time to take a few risks. For once follow your heart rather than your brain. Seize the day.
"Ma'am?" the confusion apparent on the woman's face, as well as a few of the passengers behind Lisa.
"Keep it," she repeated as she left the cue and started for the nearest exit. Clichés, she thought. I'm never going to live this down when Donna finds out about this. She took out her mobile and started dialling as she hurried for the nearest exit. Placing the phone to her ear she listened to it ringing. Once, twice, thre-
"Hello," a female voice came over.
"Hi, could I please speak to Mr McGarry?"
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"So she went back?" Josh asked as he and Sam came out of the Oval Office; a senior staff meeting just having been concluded. CJ and Toby had already passed them and were heading for their offices.
"Yeah. Drove her to the airport this morning," Sam said as glanced at a report in his hands.
"I'm sorry," Josh said sincerely. He had to admit, though, that Sam seemed to be taking things quite well.
"We're going to keep in touch," Sam stated.
"That's good. Isn't it?"
"Yeah, it's... good." Josh noticed the slight hesitation. Okay, so maybe he wasn't taking things too well. Then again, Josh knew that it would probably take some time until Sam would be back to the Sam they all knew and loved.
"But you would have wanted more."
"Yeah," he said absently, his mind still on Lisa. He checked his watch. She was probably starting to board her flight.
"Hello Sam," Mrs Landingham said softly from her desk. "Do you want a cookie?" She opened the jar for him. Sam thanked her as he took one out.
Josh looked on in disbelief. That was Sam's second one today. "Sam gets another cookie, why?"
"Because," Mrs Landingham said, not elaborating any further.
"Can we please note the unfairness of the situation?" Josh said. Sam couldn't help the smile that forced its way onto his face. Josh shook his head. "Don't know why you're smiling, sure you get the sympathy now but just wait after a few days."
"Whatever you say Josh," Sam said, a smile still on his face. "And don't direct your disappointment at not getting a cookie at me."
"I'm not directing, who said I was directing? All I'm saying is that this is your second cookie and... Okay, maybe I am directing, but it got you smiling, didn't it?" Sam couldn't argue with that. "So, for bringing you out of your depressive state, I think you should give me it."
"No, and I'm not in a depressive state," Sam said as they started walking out of the room and to the communications bullpen, their banter continuing down the corridor.
Leo and the President shook their heads from the entrance to the Oval Office, where they had been watching the conversation between the two friends with some amusement.
"Leo." Leo turned to his assistant, Margaret, who had just come in.
"You have a call from Ms Quinn."
"Lisa Quinn?" he said as he asked for confirmation.
Margaret nodded causing both Leo and the President to look at each other. The President smiled, with an 'I told you so' look to him.
Leo told Margaret that he would be right there. "We don't know why she's calling, Mr President."
"I know," he answered knowingly. "Besides having three daughters and being educated in the language of women by my wife, those pointers I gave you couldn't have failed."
"She saw right through them, sir."
"That's what you say."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Really?" Josh asked incredulously as he sat in Sam's office.
"Yeah," Sam said. He knew Josh was going to react this way when he told him about the people he was meeting in a few minutes.
"You've got to be kidding me."
"No," Sam said calmly.
"You've got to be kidding me!"
Josh choked back a laugh. "So, let me just get this straight, we can't pull this rotting wooden house down, which has no historical or monumental significance I might add, to build a much needed school because there's a ghost living in there."
Sam nodded, that was just about the gist of it. "They've alleged that there is a ghost inhabiting the house and have supposedly got evidence."
"Oh. Well, that makes a lot of difference."
"We've got protesters chained to the house so the demolition teams can't get to work. The leaders of the protesters, a group called the Society for the Protection of Ghosts, or SPG, are coming here to discuss options and Toby wants me to talk to them," Sam went on to explain. He certainly got the interesting ones.
"A ghost. Can't we just call the Ghostbusters or something." Josh couldn't hold the laughter in anymore.
"Some people take this thing seriously," but Sam smiled. For awhile the only thing that could be heard was Josh's laughter ringing around the office. "I asked her to stay," he said abruptly. The whole thing had been weighing on his mind for awhile. It was time to let go of some of it.
Josh looked at Sam, sobering quickly. "What was her answer?" He had decided that he would allow Sam to talk whenever he was ready, he didn't want to push.
"Her parents interrupted us," he said quietly.
"Oh. But you asked her again... didn't you? Sam!" Josh said in exasperation as he was answered by Sam shaking his head.
"I think I'm just going to stay away from women for awhile," Sam said with a nervous chuckle.
Josh looked at him sympathetically. Sam certainly hadn't had much luck in recent years with the thing with Laurie and then Mallory.
"Tonight I'll take you this new bar that's opened and get you drunk," Josh informed with a smile.
"Aren't you going to see Donna?" Sam gave a knowing grin.
"Her parents are with her at the moment. Anyway, she told me to get you drunk. And don't look at me like that," he ordered.
"Thanks Josh, but no thanks," Sam voiced. "I just want a quiet night tonight." He would go home and sit by himself. Maybe he would go for a run, that usually helped to clear his head.
"Okay." Josh wasn't going to push.
"Sam, Casper's friends are waiting in the meeting room," Toby said as he stopped by Sam's door. "You ready?"
"Yeah." Sam pulled together a few reports and got up from his seat.
"Sure you don't want me to call the Ghostbusters?" Josh smirked. Sam only rolled his eyes before leaving the office. "Don't know how you could've given up the chance to speak with them," Josh said to Toby. Toby let out a sound that could only be described as a small growl. "Oh right, the small issue on people skills."
"Josh, Toby, Leo wants to see you in his office," Ginger said as she came up to them and delivered the message. The two men looked at each other, each wondering what it would be about.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Sam rubbed his neck wearily as he watched the last of the leaders of the SPG file out of the meeting room. They had adjourned the meeting for lunch and would reconvene in around twenty minutes.
"How is it going?" Sam looked at his boss who had just come into the room.
"Well, we did some talking. I talked and they listened, and then they talked I listened. It is quite interesting some of the things they have to say."
"I bet," Toby said brusquely, not wholly interested in a group of 'trouble makers', as he had labelled them.
Sam continued. "Then they showed me some of the equipment they use to find out if there's a ghost present. Did you know-"
"Sam," Toby said with a 'get to the point' tone.
"We're having a little problem agreeing at the moment, but I think we're making progress," he admitted.
"Good." Toby turned to leave but stopped. "Sam."
"Yeah?" Sam said as he looked over his notes.
"I've hired a new speech writer for the vacancy we had."
Sam stopped reading and looked at Toby. "Oh. That was quick."
"It had to be done," Toby shrugged indifferently.
"I wasn't told," Sam said in disappointment. "Or don't I get a say in these things anymore?" he suddenly asked coldly.
Toby looked at him. He knew that his deputy was still reeling from the drop in on the environmental speech he had been working hard on and it was this that he was referring to. This situation wasn't helping the feelings felt either.
"Well we couldn't exactly wait for your ex to decide what she was going to do. There is an administration that needs to be run," Toby said briskly.
Sam winced at the hard words, but knew what Toby had said was true.
"The writer's waiting in your office. I thought you could get the introductions out of the way while you're free. You can also show the ropes."
"Fine," Sam muttered as he got up from his seat and pushed past Toby.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Hello Mr Seaborn. I'm new here and just wanted to come and introduce myself." Sam took a few steps back. Speechless was hardly the right word to describe what he felt.
It couldn't be. He looked at the woman leaning against his desk, her hand outstretched. Lisa, a wide smile fastened on her face.
Sam shook his head and moved forward to her, swiftly scooping her into his arms. Maybe that whole thing about staying away from women for awhile could be postponed, indefinitely.
"I couldn't do it," she explained as she buried her head in his shoulder.
"I'm glad you changed your mind," he whispered as he kissed her.
"So, do you give this kind of attention to all your staff?" she asked with a raised eyebrow. Sam let out a quiet chuckle as he pulled away, but took hold of her hands instead.
"What changed your mind?" he asked, still not quite believing that she was here.
She smiled and bowed her head slightly. "You did. I realised what we had was worth fighting for." Sam hugged her again.
"Ow, ow," she said quickly. "Injury still, very weak," she reminded him with a pained laugh.
"Sorry, sorry," he repeated worriedly. "Are you okay? You aren't-"
"I'm okay," she reassured as Sam guided her towards a seat.
Looking at him, she smiled warmly, yes, it had been the right decision, though the enormity of it all was beginning to sink in and she couldn't stop the doubt from raising again. "I had an office in England," she started. "Now all I'm going to have is a desk in a room that I'm going to share with three other people." She looked around Sam's office, a little dejectedly. "You have an office."
"You'll have company," he rationalised.
"Oh boy, Oh boy."
Sam brushed his lips against hers. "Just
breathe," he directed, with a small smile. It was good to have her back.
"I'm going to be paid a lot less than in England."
"Your family's rich," he pointed out.
"What if this is all a big mistake?" she panicked. The sinking in had been completed. "Oh God. I just gave up my job. My nice reporter job, with my own office, and a secretary. I had a secretary! And my apartment, I liked my apartment."
Sam couldn't help but laugh by Lisa's self doubts. He hugged her again. "I think we've come to that conclusion," he whispered.
"What are you laughing about?" she asked with indignation, but a smile soon crossed her lips and she shook her head. "You know, clichés are not like in the movies. All my suitcases are on the plane, which at this minute is on its way to England. You never see that in the movies, they just roll the credits once the couple are together and the movie ends. Someone should really do a continuation of-"
"Your babbling," Sam pointed out.
"That I am. I think I'll shut up now."
"It's good to have you back."
Lisa squeezed his hands and looked at him seriously. "Sam, I think we should take things slowly for now. I don't think we should rush into things."
"Okay," Sam agreed but nothing could wipe the wide grin that had attached itself onto his face.
"Hey Princeton. Casper's friends are waiting," Toby gruffly announced. No, he wasn't going to let anything take the grin off, he told himself, not even Toby.
"I'm going Toby."
"And stop grinning like a fool."
Lisa raised an eyebrow as Toby left.
"You'll get used to him," Sam promised. "What are you going to do now?"
"I don't start work until two days time, but I'm going to be shown around the place by one of the assistants here. I think her name is Ginger." She looked at him for confirmation on the name. Sam nodded.
"I've got to go," he said reluctantly, letting go of her hands. This time, however, he knew that he wasn't going to lose her; she was here to stay.
"I know. Casper's friends."
"I'll explain everything later," he said. "Over dinner?"
Smiling, she nodded as he gave her one last kiss before making his way back to the meeting room. Building their relationship would be slow, but they had already made a start. This was just the beginning.
* ~ The End ~ *