Thirty Seconds: The End
Ali Cherry


"Sam is certainly in the mood to dance." Leo comes up beside me with a glass of ginger ale in his hand. Sam has been on the dance floor since he and his sister arrived. I've notice Sarah slipping around to different women and pointing out her brother. I'm guessing she's filling up his dance card. And considering he's been on the floor for three hours now, I imagine his feet hurt.

"Do you think we should send CJ out to rescue him?" I ask looking toward CJ where she is bored listening to another person ramble about something. Maybe I should go liven up that conversation. The national parks trivia would work nicely here.

Leo sees the gleam in my eyes and leans down to hiss, "Don't even think about it, Mr. President."

"What?" I ask innocently. I can make good conversation. CJ is on the dance floor in Sam's arms, and I can't tell who rescued whom, although Sam is taking this opportunity to shake his feet. CJ laughs at something he says and the whole ballroom looks at them. They ignore the attention, focusing on their conversation.

I bet he's saying, "Pretend your talking to me, and don't let someone else cut in."

She'll say, "I am talking to you and what? You don't like your fan club?"

"I swear to god my sister is paying all of them. She's priming the pump so she can buy me a wife. She has been corrupted. Corrupted by my Brother-in-law and his money."

"How much money are we talking about, here, Spanky. Cause I'll marry you if it's enough."

He'll growl at her, but pull her closer, the better to step on her feet. There he goes, pulling her closer, I see them stumble as he steps on her toes. I'm so good.

"She hasn't hit Mallory yet." Leo nods at me.

"Maybe she's saving her for last." I sneak a sly glance at him. His face is carefully watching Sarah maneuver away from Mallory.

"One can only hope, not, sir." Leo's mouth quirks up in a smile, as Mallory 's eyes narrow on a conversation near her. She turns around, and ut oh. I know that look. Maybe I'll just go hide in the bathroom. I don't want to be around when Mt. Mallory blows. "I think I'll go rescue my daughter." Leo walks around the room as Mallory starts talking with what I'm sure is that royal distain that she obviously inherited from her mother, because I know Leo can't do it. He can go from annoyed to frustrated to Boston Irish mad.

"Wait, Leo." I pull him back to me, and watch as Sam finally figures out there is a problem in Pleasantville. He wastes valuable time though, haggling with CJ before he cuts through the dancers to the outskirts where his sister and Mallory have almost abandoned civility.

I'm sure that Charlie, Josh and Toby are a bit upset by the fact that the catfight is being broken up. Some hair pulling maybe a few claws would have certainly made this dull as toast gathering more interesting. I wonder if they have more of those New England crab puffs that Sam was eyeing before.

Sam's voice raises enough to carry over the music and I really wonder what's going on. "Ron? Do you have anyone by the fight?" I look at the discreet secret service agent.

"Yes, sir." Ron doesn't move his eyes from scanning the crowd.

"Well, man! What are they saying?"

"Mr. President. If you want to know, go over and listen." Leo's itching to go save his daughter from Sam and his sister, but oops, my hand still holds his arm.

"Let's go. Discreetly. I want to hear the yelling, not break it up."

"You've been watching too many soap operas, sir."

Charlie's been telling on me. I'm going to have a talk with that young man. He's not supposed to tell on me like I'm a six year old. For heaven's sake I'm the President of the United States. If I want to have a guilty pleasure like a soap opera well that's my business.

"I can still fire you, my friend." I let Ron clear the way in front of me, and I touch him to let him know that's close enough.

"One can only hope, Mr. President." Leo hisses at me, before trying to see over Ron's shoulder to where Sam, Sarah, CJ and Mallory stand.

"You can't pimp him off like he's some kind of street walker. I don't care who you are." That would be Mallory's voice. That girl can spit fire when she wants too. I suspect she inherited that from her father.

"A street walker has more sense when it comes to the opposite sex."

"Hey." Sam sounds indignant, and his face is screwed up like a five year olds. He is so young sometimes; I forget that. There are sometimes when I can't forget it. But the past few weeks... I know Sam now. At least I hope I do. I know CJ as well, which is why I know that the hand to her lips is probably to stop the laughter from spilling out. Even Leo's trying not to laugh, but his smile is spreading across his face.

"You are, dear." Sarah pats his arm like a dog. Hey. That's my deputy you 're demoralizing.

"You really are, Sam." CJ snorts this out as she strives to keep from laughing.

"I'll give you that." Mallory says with a smile.

"THAT'S ENOUGH." Wow. I honestly didn't know Sam had the ability to stop a party, but look at that, he did. Sam grabs his sister arm and pulls her away from prying eyes, but actually closer to where we're watching and listening. "I've had enough of your telling me what to do. I'm five years younger; it doesn't mean I'm stupid. No I haven't found the woman of my dreams yet, but you know what? I don't care. I would rather wait for eternity than to marry someone you picked out. Or don't you remember Lisa."

"You are not going to blame Lisa on me."

"Yeah I am. Cause you did the same thing your doing now. You throw a whole bunch of women at me, and wait to see which one has the longest claws to sink in and stick. I asked her to marry me, not because I loved her, but because she was acceptable to you. But not this time. I like who I am. I like what I do. And I'll love whomever I marry. Be happy that I have two out of three."

Who the hell is Lisa? Never mind I don't really care.

Sarah's voice dips and I lean around Ron to see that she and Sam are close enough to be hugging, but her arms are crossed in front of hers, and so is Sam's. But from here I can see their foreheads touch, and some whispered words. Damn I wish I were superman. That bastard could hear everything.

Sam touches Sarah's cheek, and the moment is so sweet. I've never had tender moments with my sister. We've never been close, really. But this is, this is... It is more than words. I guess its love. A moment marked only with its timelessness.

Leo touches my shoulder and I look away as we move to the other side of the room. Some things are not meant to be seen.



Today is the day. Sam is home. Charlie told me that Sam was in early, that Kathy was catching him up on what was going on. That Aaron hugged him repeatedly. Donna brought him coffee which is something of a big thing; just don't ask me why. I could care less about my staff's personal life. I really could.

Charlie peeks his head in the office and I look up perturbed. "And what fate of the nation, must I decide on this very second that I can't finish this briefing report, Charlie."

Charlie gives me his shut up Mr. President look. We're really going to have to talk about respect and... stuff for the leader of the Free World. "Mr. President, the Senior Staff needs a moment of your time."

"Fine, whatever. It's not like I was deciding to bomb Baghdad."

Charlie gives me another look and opens the door for the senior staff, which comes in not surprisingly in the middle of an argument. Josh and Sam are about to come to blows when Toby's soft voice stops Sam with just his name.

"Finally." Josh sighs.

"Good Afternoon, Mr. President." They all say quietly. Then Toby turns back to Josh and gives him a look.

"Sam's right, Josh."

"You're ganging up on me?" He slams onto the couch and I look amused. "I can't believe your ganging up on me."

"He's right, Josh. You would know that if you hadn't slept through Law School."

"But still you're ganging up on me." I had better end this before Josh really starts to mope.

"So what's up folks?" I ask them as I stand and move around the desk; Josh stands up quickly.

"We have a slight problem, sir." Leo tells me and then looks at Josh. Oh dear, what has Josh done today. But at least we'll fight it together. Thirty seconds isn't so destructive after all. There is nothing we can't handle together, and nothing is going to stop us again.

The End. I wanted to end this quickly seeing as how I'm already screwing with Cannon in my Knock on the Door Series, and I kinda like to stick near to canon in my stories, so....... That's why it ends like it does.



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