A girl I knew - a friend, but not a close friend - passed away Friday of cancer. She was only 17, and I want to dedicate my best fic to her. I think it's sort of fitting. So I'd appreciate it. Here, I'll just repost the whole fic again.

Thanks ~  Cara
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In Memory of Jessica Solomon (1983-2001)

"Fire & Rain"
Spoilers: None
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't sue.
Feedback: samwest5@hotmail.com

I'm such a bastard.

I never told her anything.

Why didn't I tell her?

Deep down, some rational, logical part of me kicks me in the ass and says, "You couldn't have known. How would you have guessed that a bunch of disturbed people would actually get close enough to take potshots at the President, and hit her instead?"

Instead, I choose to listen to the emotion behind it. "You've been crazy about her since Day One. You watched her flirt with Danny, and Toby, and all those other guys. When you got into that whole Laurie mess, she was there. When Mal finally dumped you, she was the shoulder you cried on. And you never said a damned word about how you felt."

I close my eyes, wanting to cry.

Everyone's congregated here in the cemetery. It's a beautiful day, but
something, obviously, is missing. The President is here, surrounded by his wife, daughter and Secret Service coterie. Charlie stands in the back, unsure of his role. He was her friend too, but today the President needs him. I see Leo, holding that gold-topped cane that's become a part of him, standing in the back with Mallory, who avoids my eyes. Donna and Josh are here, supporting each other as Donna begins to sob. Toby is sustained by his ex-wife, Congresswoman Wyatt.

It's only me who is alone.

I'm such a bastard.

Strangely, the last thing she ever said to me was that I'd find someone. "Don't worry, Sam," she said as we left the Newseum. "With your personality and those baby blues, you should have women hanging all over you." Then in the next instant I was forced to shove her to the pavement to avoid the flying bullets. Only I wasn't quick enough.

My arm is still in a sling from my fall. Cracked three bones pushing her down, they said. And she still has three bullets in her today. The doctors couldn't get any of them out; they were buried too deep. Like a lot of things in me.

The minister begins his sermon in front of the closed casket, but I don't listen. Any attempt to catalogue her feels like just that. I don't want to write her off. Instead I focus on the people around me. These people were her friends and colleagues, and it interests me, in a bitter sort of way, that everyone is reacting differently.

President and Mrs Bartlet, and Charlie and Zoey are sufficiently subdued, as though merely a coworker is being laid to rest today, as opposed to a woman who gave her entire life to the administration. Donna, tender-heart that she is, cries uncontrollably. Josh is too internalized to cry, yet I catch his eyes for a moment and I know that he's bleeding inside; almost as badly as I am. Toby – well, who knows what he's thinking?

The minister speaks further. "If anyone would like to say a few words, now is the time."

It feels like an eternity, but no one gets up for at least a full minute. I suppose it feels too final for them all; but I need this chance. It may be the last one I get.

I stand, and make my shaking way to the impromptu lectern. "What can I say about her?" I begin in a frail voice. "She was a friend to us all. She helped us when we were down." God, I can't believe I need past tense for her. "She was the most vibrant person I'd ever met."

But as I speak, I see the one person in the world who might possibly fathom what I'm going through: Danny Concannon makes his way to the back of the cortege.

I take a deep breath, buoyed by his arrival, though we never got along. "You know what?" I say, finding just a bit more strength in my expression. "I'm going to be very honest, as I think she deserves." It doesn't take a lot for me to say it, but it takes a lot for me to keep my composure as I do. "I was crazy about her for a long time. I still am."

There are a few murmurs, but the crowd mostly understands that I am doing this out of admiration. I catch Josh's eye again, and this time, amid the sadness, I glimpse unbridled respect. This takes balls. Still, I feel a sense of loathing.

I'm such a bastard.

I never told her.

But, amazingly, Danny catches my eye and nods. That, I understand, is his way of concurrence. I understand, he's saying. I felt the same way. I still do.

Suddenly, I don't trust my voice. "The first thing she would want us to do is to make sure this never happens again," I say, my voice wobbling. "So let's make sure everyone who loved her has something to be consoled by. Even if it isn't much." I am fighting the tears. I will not do this up here. "Let's give thanks for those who got shot and are still here. Leo, and Josh and myself. Let's give thanks for those who escaped unharmed. Let's -"

I break off in the middle of a sentence, aghast at myself. Good God. How can I be mouthing these platitudes? I want vengeance. I want to cut down those animals the way they cut her down.

I start again. "Let's just remember her, and what we've been through.
Hopefully it will make us all stronger." I can't do any more. I stumble back to my seat, comforted by the fact that if she's listening, she knows now. As her favourite song starts up, I finally cry. I know it's good for me, but right now every inch of me wants to be with her; whether she's standing next to me or six feet underground.

"Won't you look down upon me, Jesus
You've got to help me make a stand
You've just got to see me through another day
My body's aching and my time is at hand
And I won't make it any other way

I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again..."

I loved you, C.J. Cregg.

I hope you heard it.

 

 

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