Shades of Grey
Josh's heart slammed against his ribcage. "Raj, please. Leave Sam
Josh turned his head towards the door. He could hear the sounds of a scuffle. Oh, God, Sam, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry...
Jerking his attention from the noises upstairs, Josh grabbed the phone from Rashid. His hands shook as he pushed the buttons for the Oval Office's direct line.
He waited through two long rings before a familiar voice answered. Only it wasn't the one he wanted...
"Mrs. Landingham," he said, "I need the President now."
"Josh?" said the worried voice in his ear.
"Now, Mrs. Landingham, please. Just get him."
Instantly, there was a click and then silence. All he could do was wait...and pray.
More noise from upstairs. Laughing. Sam...
Rashid came around to Josh's side of the table, an eyebrow raised.
"He'll be here, Raj. Just...wait."
Footsteps on the stairs. Josh held his breath, watching the doorway.
Sam was hustled into the room, Gabir on one side, the guard from this room on the other. Gabir had Sam by the hair. The son of a bitch. Josh took one step towards them, but stopped when Gabir shouted a warning and jammed his weapon into Sam's neck.
Sam gasped. His lips formed words, but no sound came out. There was blood at the corner of his mouth, and on his chin, drops of which had stained his white shirt red above the monogram on his breast pocket.
My fault. This is my fault.
Pick up the damn phone already!
Raj was moving again, step by step toward Sam. He walked behind Gabir,
behind Sam, until he was next to the other guard. His eyes locked with Josh's, Raj held out his hand and spoke to the guard.
The guard released Sam's arm. He reached into his jacket, pulled out a handgun, and placed it in Raj's hand.
Gabir was smirking. He let go of Sam and lowered his weapon.
The silence on the other end continued.
Gabir kicked the back of Sam's legs. Sam collapsed to his knees. He was visibly shaking now, his face pale. Finally, his eyes met Josh's.
The expression asked why. Sam wanted to know why.
Josh opened his mouth, then closed it again. I don't know, Sam. I'm sorry. I thought
Rashid moved behind Sam and pressed the muzzle of the gun to the back of Sam's head.
"Oh...God." Sam squeezed his eyes closed.
"Raj," Josh begged, "please don't do this."
Josh thought he saw a tear slip down one pale cheek.
This can't be happening. This cannot be happening. Oh God, Sam. I'm
Josh closed his eyes in relief. "Mr. President, thank God"
The gunshot was deafening.
Jed never ran through the halls of the White House, but he did walk fast. Very, very fast. It was nine o'clock in the morning; they had cut eight hours off their deadline. What the hell was going on?
Leo Toby and CJ were waiting for him in the Oval Office.
Jed didn't say anything. He had to focus. He wasn't prepared; no one had briefed him yet. Where the hell was Ron? Didn't he have to wait for Ron? He was the President of the goddamn United States. He didn't have to wait for anyone.
He punched the speaker button and opened the line. "Josh?"
"Mr. President, thank God"
"NO!" Josh screamed.
What the hell? That sounded like...No. Jed felt lightheaded. He must have swayed, because Leo was reaching for him.
The combination of the sound and the anguish in Josh's cry painted a picture he wasn't ready to accept.
Jed glanced at the faces around him. Toby was staring at the speaker, his lips pressed together. CJ was looking at Jed, her eyes asking questions for which he had no answers. Leo was hovering. God, did he look so bad that Leo had to hover?
"Sam...?" Josh's voice again, no more than a soft whimper.
Toby staggered back a few steps, shaking his head.
"Josh?" Jed demanded.
There was no reply.
"President Bartlet." It was the voice from before. Rashid. "You have one more hour and one more chance."
One more hour.
One more chance.
The line went dead.
Toby backed farther away. He hit the sofa, wavered, then caught himself. He looked like he was ready to pass out.
"Toby" Jed began.
Toby shook his head again, emphatic. He lifted a finger to stay any conversation.
Jed knew that look. He wondered if he looked the same. Leo was still watching him, a deep frown dragging down the edges of his mouth.
It was so quiet. Were they waiting for him to say something? What could he say? What the hell could he possibly say?
Ron Butterfield burst into the room, followed closely by two other agents.
"Mr. President?" Ron asked.
'What did you do?' Ron's expression asked. I should have waited for you, Ron. I should have waited.
"I..." Don't say it. "I think they just shot Sam."
Oh, Lord. He said it. Saying it out loud seemed to cement it in reality.
It was too much for Toby. Before Jed could say anything more, Toby bolted from the room.
"CJ..." Jed said.
CJ didn't need any more urging. She hurried after Toby.
Jed stood behind his desk, his breathing becoming faster and faster.
They shot Sam.
His blood pressure was rising; he could feel his face turning red.
They shot Sam.
With a growl of rage, Jed turned and slammed through the door to the Portico and out into the cold winter air.