For notes and disclaimer, please see part one.

Previously, on the West Wing: Sam and Lisa enjoy dinner at the Bartlets. One morning, on the way to work, Lisa is asked to pick up Zoey for a breakfast meeting on education.

Lisa walked into the clinic and found Zoey trying to build a house of cards. "Hey, kiddo," she said as the house collapsed. "Oh, sorry..." Zoey sighed and looked up at her.

"How'd you do it last week?"

"It takes lots of practice. That, and an old deck of cards. And sometimes... A little glue helps."

"Glue?"

"It's a joke, Zoey. Lighten up. If you aren't busy Sunday afternoon, I'll give you a lesson. How's that sound?"

"Great!"

"Good. C'mon. Your daddy wants you at this breakfast meeting about education." Zoey nodded and gathered her cards. "Go tell your momma. We don't want her worried." The teen obediently ran off to find her mother before rejoining Lisa.

"Do we have to go in the car?"

"Zoey?"

"I don't get to walk anywhere anymore. I'm always rushed from the door to the car, from the car to the door..."

"It's for your protection, sweetheart."

"Like anybody is really going to take a shot at me?"

Lisa smiled at her. "I'll talk to the troopers. It does seem kind of dumb to pollute the air for eight crummy blocks," said Lisa.

"Think of the publicity for it, too!"

"You definitely are the daughter of a politician." Lisa wandered over to the nearest state trooper and explained Zoey's wishes. The trooper was reluctant but even Abbey got in on the coaxing. Lisa and Zoey were allowed to walk.

"How long have you known Sam?" Zoey asked as the two stepped into the brisk morning air.

"Seven years now."

"How long have you been engaged to him?"

"Almost a year."

"Why don't you elope?"

"Zoey Bartlet!"

"Oh, you sound like my mother."

Lisa smiled. "I want a wedding with flowers and at least one hundred and fifty of my closest friends and relations... ice sculptures, rose petals, a white gown with a long train, Sam in a..." she said, swallowing her adjectives before continuing, "tux... Brides maids, flower girls, ushers... I want my father to give me away and I want to pledge my everlasting love to Sam in front of God and everybody."

"Okay."

"So you approve of my plan, Miss B?" Zoey nodded. "Why, thank you."

"Can I go?"

"Go where?"

"To the wedding," said Zoey.

"You had better be there. I want my apprentice muse front and center. Hey, what would you say to being one of the bride's maids?"

"Really?" Zoey squealed.

"Yeah."

"You're kidding!" Zoey said, jumping up and down.

"I'm very serious, here, Zo."

"Really? Really and truly you want me in the wedding party?"

Lisa stopped walking and looked at Zoey. "Yes. That is if you want to."

"Want to? I'd *love* to!"

"Okay, then," Lisa said with a smile as they started to walk again. "What do you think about like a dusty rose for bride's maids dresses?"

"What about like violet purple?"

"Oh, that might be really pretty," Lisa said.

"You're going to let me help plan the wedding?"

"Isn't that normally the function of a bride's maid?"

"This is so cool! I can't wait to tell everybody!" Lisa laughed warmly at Zoey's excitement. Her laughing died down, however, when the two passed three gentlemen leaning against the façade of a building. Lisa glanced at the nearest trooper before guiding Zoey to her other side so she could stand between the three odd men and the potential first daughter. "So, will it be a spring wedding? Or a winter wedding? I don't know, I kind of think it would be neat to get married and have it snowing..."

"Well, we're still thinking about dates," she said.

"Do you have your honeymoon destination picked yet?"

"Zoey!"

"I'm just curious!"

"Well, it depends on the outcome of the election. If your father gets elected, then it'll probably be Niagara Falls or maybe Boston or something like that. See, we figure we'll probably get married during the transition on a Friday morning, fly up to Boston or New York for the weekend and be back in D.C. for work on Monday morning."

"Lisa!"

"What?"

"That's no way to have a honeymoon."

"It isn't?"

"No."

"And what do you know about honeymoons?"

"Just that you should go somewhere exotic."

"Like where?"

"Like somewhere in the Caribbean or something."

"And blow money we don't have?"

"It's a lot prettier down there, more stuff to d-oooh."

"What was that?" asked Lisa.

"Never mind," she said. "I get it."

"Get her in the car! Now!" ordered a trooper. Lisa glanced back to see him holding back the three men they had passed a block back. Wasting no time, she pushed Zoey towards the trooper cruiser.

"Excuse me, Miss Bartlet!"

"Zoey, where's your father?"

Lisa kept her hand on Zoey until the teenager was inside the car. "I'll be right there, at breakfast," Lisa told Zoey before closing the door. The cruiser sped off, leaving Lisa standing on the sidewalk with the handful of troopers and the three men. "Who the hell do you think you are?" Lisa demanded, not waiting for the police to ask for themselves.

"Reporters from the 'Charleston Citizen,'" answered one of the men.

"Reporters my ass. I've read that 'paper,'" Lisa said. "It's a load of—"

"The truth. We only print the truth," said another.

"You've got a twisted version of the truth, pal," Lisa said. "You guys are real nice, y'know it? She was just trying to go to breakfast, have some air. You want a quote, you go through C.J. Cregg or Mandy Hampton's office."

"Can I quote you?" asked the third reporter, his pen poised on his notebook, ready to go. Lisa walked up to him and yanked the notebook from his hands. "Hey!"

"Forget it," Lisa said, tucking the notebook in her coat pocket. One of the troopers came up to Lisa and started whispering in her ear.

"Ma'am?" he asked. "What's going on?"

"They're harmless reporters. I can handle them."

"I'm leaving an officer here—"

"Don't be silly," said Lisa. "Your job is to protect the governor and his family from crazed individuals. Mine is to protect them from dumb reporters. Go." The trooper nodded before rounding up the rest of the officers and heading for the restaurant for breakfast. Lisa, with her hands on her hips, looked long and hard at the reporters. "You guys couldn't write enough praises for the Republican candidates? You have to come here and hassle a sixteen-year-old kid? And they say politicians are cruel and heartless."

~~~

Sam ran through the immaculately clean halls of the hospital with Josh on his heels. "You have to tell me about Lisa Cole," he said.

"And you are?" asked the overworked, exhausted nurse on duty.

"I'm her fiancé!" yelled Sam.

"Sir, she's in ICU-2. The prognosis isn't good..."

"What happened to her? Somebody called me and told me she was here and that..."

"She was apparently beaten." Josh and Sam exchanged glances. "She was found unconscious. When paramedics tried to revive her and prep her for movement, her heart temporarily stopped."

"What?" asked Sam.

"Sir, she... She was legally dead for approximately thirty-five seconds." Sam shook his head. Josh placed a hand on his friend's shoulder in hopes of being supportive.

"No."

"They were able to revive her..."

Sam stormed down the hall to the Intensive Care wing and to her room. He looked at her as he stood in the doorway to her room. In the bright fluorescent light, she looked deathly pale. Bruises covered her chin and arms. A gash on her forehead had been closed with butterfly stickers. Her lower lip had been split wide open. "Lisa..." he said softly. Josh tried to be supportive again but Sam shrugged him off and crossed to his fiancée. Josh had hoped to keep his emotions in check, watching as Sam hesitantly took her frail hand. "Oh, God, Lisa..." Sam said before sobbing and falling to his knees.

Sam could hardly believe what had happened. That morning, he had been laughing, joking around with Mandy and Josh having spent the night in Lisa's arms. In a few short hours she had gone from vibrantly full of life to so close to death, to being clinically dead for thirty-five seconds.

Mandy came rushing down the hall, nearly crashing into Josh. "Oh, Josh," she said upon seeing Lisa. Josh pulled her to him, holding her close.

"Did you... Did you find out what happened?" asked Josh.

"Yeah," Mandy said with a nod. "She, um... She was going to take Zoey to the breakfast. They were walking. I mean, it was only a couple blocks. The troopers had a car with them..." She looked up at him.

"What is it, Mandy?"

"She put Zoey in the car and was going to confront these guys who had been following them."

"They were being followed? Why didn't the troopers handle it?" asked Josh.

Mandy shrugged. "When she didn't show up at breakfast, C.J. called the police. They... They found her unconscious three blocks from where Zoey had been put in the car."

"My God," whispered Josh.

"Witnesses say that they saw three guys talking with Lisa. They didn't pay much attention; they were all more interested in the governor's daughter and her escorts. The police have descriptions of the three guys and they're looking for them."

"They took her ring," Sam said weakly.

"What, Sam?" asked Josh.

"They took the engagement ring I gave her."

"Oh, Sam," Mandy breathed. A passing nurse cleared Mandy and Josh out of the room, allowing Sam to stay with her a little longer, encouraging him to talk to her. For a while, he couldn't. All he could do was sit, look at her, and cry. The woman he had loved for six years of his life was near death. She had been dead, in fact. And he hadn't known. He had been arguing with Toby over prepositional phrases on the road to Rochester.

"I'm so sorry, Lisa," he sobbed. "To have missed being with you over a meaningless squabble about grammar of all things. I've been such an idiot and I wish... I wish we could start this whole day over. I wouldn't have run out this morning before you woke up. I would have told Mandy to run her own errand to Rochester. I wouldn't have... I would have done so many things differently. I never would have let you go when I was New York. Never, Lisa... Oh, God, I'm sorry."

~~~

Mandy and Josh sat quietly in the waiting room, letting the gravity of the whole situation sink in. Mandy didn't know Sam and Lisa as well as Josh did but she certainly felt sorry for the both of them. "I can only imagine... Imagine what Sam's going through," Mandy said slowly.

"Lisa... Sam... I just..." He looked at Mandy. "They really were a political super couple, y'know? With her strategy and his words and both with the strength of their convictions... Totally would have been unbeatable."

"Don't talk in the past tense yet, Josh."

"Mandy, she's already been dead once."

"And they revived her. Everything will—" Six uniformed men burst into the room, startling both Mandy and Josh as well as the other families waiting. They crossed to the people, politely asking them to step outside.

"New Hampshire troopers," he said before getting to his feet. Mandy did the same. A second later, Governor Bartlet, Abbey, and Zoey were escorted in.

"How is she?" Bartlet asked.

"It isn't good," Josh said quietly.

"Abbey—" Bartlet didn't have to finish the question.

"I'll be back," she informed him.

"Where's Sam?" asked Zoey.

"He's with Lisa right now," Mandy explained gently.

"Can I see her?" Zoey asked with tears springing to her young eyes.

"Let's wait to hear what your mother says," said Bartlet.

"Sir, what about the dinner in Boston?" asked Mandy. Bartlet looked at his watch.

"J.C. and Bobby are there now," Bartlet said, when he meant C.J. and Toby. "Leo's on his way to stall."

"Sir, I'm sure Sam and Lisa would appreciate your condolences, but... You're supposed to go give a speech, one Toby and Sam worked tirelessly to finish..." said Josh.

"I'll give it, I'll give it." Abbey walked in slowly. "Well?"

"Recovery is doubtful," she said evenly. Zoey covered her face and started bawling. Josh reached out to the girl while Bartlet asked for more specifics from Abbey.

"It's my fault. They were after me," Zoey cried.

"No, Zoey. Don't think that. Lisa wouldn't want you to feel guilty," said Josh. "She'd tell you everything was okay and then she'd pull a pencil out of your nose." Zoey laughed once but her cheer faded as quickly as it had appeared.

"Can I go see her, Mom? And Sam?" Abbey hesitated but nodded. Josh walked Zoey out of the room and down the hall while Abbey looked to her husband.

"They're not expecting her to make it through the night. There's so much internal bleeding, Jed."

~

Zoey and Josh watched Sam talk to Lisa through the window and waited until he was through before entering. "Sam?" asked Josh. Sam turned slowly. Josh could have sworn Sam had aged ten years since they had gotten there.

"Josh... Zoey..."

"The governor and Dr. Bartlet are here, too," said Josh. Sam nodded as Zoey walked up to him.

"Sam..."

"Yeah?"

"I..."

"I know," Sam said.

"I was the last to see her before..."

"It's all right."

"She, um... She must've put this in my coat when I wasn't looking." Zoey held her hand out to him, palm up and open. "I think she knew what might happen." Sam looked from the diamond ring in Zoey's hand to the girl's watery eyes.

"Thank you," was all Sam could say, taking the ring and hugging her.

"She said she loved you." Sam nodded. "I'm sorry, Sam."

"Not your fault, Zoey," he said quietly as he released her. Sam looked at Lisa's bare left hand and returned the ring to its rightful position. He kissed her raw knuckles, only imagining the horror she must've endured. And now she was attached to at least half a dozen machines and an IV drip. "You have to wake up now," he told her quietly. "This is how it worked the last time. You were sleeping when I gave you this ring and then you woke up. You have to wake up again." He gently brushed her hair away from her face, looking at her closed eyes. "Lisa, please."

Zoey walked up to Josh, looking up at him. "It's okay," he whispered to her. She turned back to face Sam and Lisa as Josh placed his hands on her shoulders.

"Come on, babe," he said, sniffling. "I told you once that I was never letting you go again, that I wasn't going to let you leave me. So you *have* to open your eyes now. You *have* to. Baby, please," he begged, leaning his head on the side of her bed.

After a minute of listening to the machines Lisa was hooked up to whir, Josh cleared his throat. "You want some coffee or anything?" he asked.

"I want Lisa to wake up," Sam said, never taking his eyes off his fiancée.

"We're, uh... We're going to go before the duty nurse shoos us out. If you... If you need anything we can get you, we're all in the waiting room down the hall."

"Okay," Sam said as he tried to will Lisa's eyes open.

Stay tuned...

House of Cards - 4

 

 

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