Thirty Seconds Part 6
Ali Cherry


"Charlie!" I call, getting up from my desk and throwing the papers I was reading on the desk. I toss off my glasses. It's been three days since that call from Sam, and we haven't heard a peep from him yet. And speaking of Sam there's something I have to do.

"Yes, Mr. President."

"Did you get the map?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you scope out the guy we want?" I don't want to yank the wrong guy. This is going to look pretty odd without me having to take back who ever I pull out.

"Yes, sir. I talked to Kathy this morning and she pointed him out to me. I even said hello, so that I knew who we were getting."

"Good. Let's go."

Charlie leads the way out into the outer office where Mrs. Landingham has a firm but suspicious face on. I wave at her as Charlie and I go off down the hallway.

I don't often get out during the week so every one stops to say hello. I try to get their names right, but I can tell from the smile on Charlie's face that I'm largely failing. "Hey there, Margaret." I wave at Leo's secretary. See I got one name right. We descend the stairs and walk into a large bullpen type area.

Small and cramped the people buzz around the office faster than bees, and it almost reminds me of the campaign trail, except there's no Sam here directing these people. No Mandy looking to kill Sam, who is directing these people and we aren't looking for Sam to find this or that, or to yell about some one's incompetence.

I guess I had forgotten everything Sam did during that time. To be honest, I'm not sure I'll ever know, because I stayed away from the Campaign as much as possible. To be honest, I didn't want to run really until Chicago. They all knew it too. Sam was the only one who never sighed in impatience at my reluctance to do this or that. I didn't remember that until now. Toby would rub his face and growl. CJ would get those bug eyes and start lecturing, Josh would jump up and begin to pace. Sam would stand there patiently, waiting for me to catch up.

It's amazing the things you forget over time.

Charlie silently leads me over to a desk with Aaron Minot's name on it. The boy behind the desk is everything I need, without being Sam. He's very young, but so is Sam. His suit is business like with out the stylish cut of Sam's and he has a soft face, without the laugh lines like Sam. He is the inferior of Sam without the need to prove himself. So far so good.

"Hello." I say to him and he looks up from where he is on the phone. The boy looks up and his eyes go wide. Sometime that reaction just kills me. I love to scare the crap out of young politicians.

"I'll call you back." The boy hangs up and stands, his eyes round. "Good Afternoon, sir."

"You're Aaron, right?"

"Yes, sir." His voice is quaking now, and I know Charlie's just cracking up.

"Grab your stuff, Aaron. You're moving." I motion to Charlie, who hands Aaron a box. I know the kid has to be scared but he takes it without a word, only a frightened glance at the room in standstill behind us.

It doesn't take him long to clean out his desk, and then I motion him to follow me. We walk up the stairs and down the corridor into the Communications Bullpen. Aaron looks terrified now. I wink at Kathy who smiles nicely at Aaron. Then I open the door to the Deputy's office.

I knock once hard on Toby's door before shoving Aaron into Sam's old office. Toby opens his door with a Swoosh. "Can I help you Mr. President?" He asks with a growlish sigh.

"Toby, I'd like for you to meet Aaron, your new Communications Deputy. Don' t kill him." I pat Aaron on the back and walk away leaving the assistants in the area as open-mouthed as Aaron and Toby. "Oh, and Toby?" I turn back at the doorway. "This is the last one. He's staying."

God, I love my job.


I think I'm going to like this Aaron. He's not bad, but he's no Sam. And the Senior Staff knows it. They all file in to the Oval Office, and I note with some amount of amusement that Kathy is following Aaron with his folders as he tries to do something else. His "Good Morning, Mr. President." Is somewhat weak, but we'll work on it.

Josh on the other hand is hopping on the tips of his toes and is annoying the hell out of Toby, which always amuses CJ and me greatly.

"And what has you so hyper this morning, Joshua?" I ask, sitting down in my chair.

He gives me this huge smile. "Sam's back in Washington."

The least he could have done was warn me.

"You talked to him?" Toby asks with excitement.

"No, not really. Donna saw a thing in the society page and told me."

"What the hell is Sam doing on the society page?" CJ asks still munching on the cookie Mrs. Landingham gave her.

"Well when his big sister shows up in Washington it's kind of a big deal. When she's toting her daughter and Sam, it's a very big deal."

CJ's eyes do the bug eye thing for a second and she visibly swallows the cookie in her mouth. "Who is Sam's sister?" She asks slowly. Leo and I look at each other. The fireworks are going to be spectacular.

"Sarah Radcliff." Josh says without a beat, not noticing the trouble looming on the horizon.

"Excuse me sir." CJ looks in my direction. I nod at her and smile. She turns back to Josh. "WHAT?!?"

Aaron just looks as amused as me, watching Josh be reamed by CJ. Oh I think I like this kid a lot.

~~End part 6

Thirty Seconds - 7




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