Blood and Thunder

Jane Harper

RATING: R (language, some violence) 

SYNOPSIS: The fifteenth man has talked, someone is being stalked, someone is pursued by someone they know, and someone is doing what he should have long ago. Burma Shave. 

ARCHIVE: Sure. Just let me know where. HTML available. 

DISCLAIMER: We didn't start the fire. Please don't sue us, your attorneys would laugh when they see the balance sheet.



"Josh?" Leo asked.

"Drudge has something about the President and a disease?"

CJ looked over at Leo for a moment. "Yeah, Danny says there's something about the President being deathly ill. I told him his source was delusional. And besides, like we care about Drudge."

"He says it comes from 'the President's medical team'."

The three of them went over to stand around Leo's computer as he accessed the website.

"Oh shit," CJ said.

Leo turned to Josh. "Go get Toby and Sam." He got up and went through the connecting door toward the Oval Office.



"Sarah, you can't use 'putz'!" Toby yelped.

"Yes I can. It's a perfectly good word."

"It's _Yiddish_. No foreign words! Especially not when you get a triple word score, with a Z already! Where's your Webster's?"

The two friends sat over a Scrabble board, arguing. Sarah went into the study to get the Webster's Third, and Toby's beeper sounded. He picked up the phone as Sarah came out of the study with the huge dictionary. She was pointing to a page.

"See here, page 1851." She waved the dictionary, as well as you can wave a ten-pound tome, and pounded the right-hand page with her finger.

He covered the receiver. "Well then it's a vulgarism, you can't use those."

"The hell I can't! Besides, that's not the definition I have here."

"It doesn't say... well, you know?"

"No, it doesn't say well-you-know. It says that a putz has something to do with a nativity scene at Christmas."

"Oy," he responded, turning his attention to the phone. "Yeah. OK, I'm on my way." He turned off the cell phone. "Gotta go. It's hitting the fan." He grabbed his coat and dashed out, leaving Sarah alone.

She took out her latest cross-stitch project and settled in on the sofa for the night.

* * * * *

"Leo!!!!!" Sam and Toby screeched simultaneously. "You didn't tell _us_??"

"This was a need to know thing. You didn't need to know until now."

"Nothing like a vote of confidence," Josh chimed in.

"Get over it," the older man snapped. "You can count on this stealing the entire press conference agenda today. Sam, Toby, write a statement for the President's physician. Josh, call Counsel and make sure there are no legal issues here."

Josh's eyebrows went up. "Now?"

Leo nodded. "Wake him up." He continued, "CJ, your only comment at the morning gaggle is that there will be a statement from the President's physician later in the day." When nobody moved, he looked up and waved his hands toward the door. "Go!"

When everyone had left, he called, "Margaret? Get me Admiral Hackett at Walter Reed!" Only the silence reminded him that it was the middle of the night, that Margaret had gone home long ago.

Abbey came timidly through the connecting door between Leo's office and the Oval. "It's on Drudge, Jed said," she sighed. "I guess it's really gonna hit the fan now."

He looked up at her with concern. "It'll be OK. We've been through worse."

"Whatever happened to 'you can have it bad, or you can have it often, but you needn't have it both ways'?"

"Who sold you _that_ bill of goods?" he asked with a hint of a smile.

"Do you need us? I thought I'd haul my husband up to bed if you don't."

"Go ahead. We'll be all right until morning. There's not much you two can do until then."

"Want me to call Sarah?" she asked.

"I talked to her already. She knows I won't be home."

The First Lady stopped at the door and turned back to face her husband's best friend. "Leo?"


"Don't blow it again."

He nodded in silence.

* * * * *

The morning gaggle started a little late, but no sooner had CJ taken the podium than the room burst with her name.


"Yes, Sandy."

"Matt Drudge has-"

"I know what Matt Drudge has, besides bad taste and questionable sources. We'll have a statement later today."

"Come on CJ, tell us something," Steve complained.

"I _am_ telling you something. I'm telling you we'll have a statement later today, from the President's personal physician. For now, let me go on..."

Reluctantly, they did.

An air of calculated casualness permeated the bullpens and the offices of the West Wing. In the Oval Office itself, it was Business As Usual. Toby and Sam were huddled in the Deputy Communications Director's office.

"We're not getting anywhere," Sam said, slamming his pencil down on the desk.

"Because _you_ won't listen to me!" Ziegler snapped.

CJ tapped on the door. In unison, both men responded, "_Go_away!_"

"Sorry fellas," she responded, sticking her head inside. "When do you think we'll be good to go with Hackett?"

Toby shook his head. "I don't know. How the hell can we tell people about this without admitting we covered it up?"

Sam looked down at the floor. "We _did_ cover it up."

"No we didn't," CJ answered. We didn't exactly put it out on the Web, but we didn't cover it up. The people who needed to know were told. We just didn't think a whole lot of people needed to know."

"No kidding," Toby shot back. "Including us."

Josh came striding over from his side of the building and joined the other three. "Well, _we're_ not in any legal trouble, but Mrs. Bartlet may be in a world of hurt."

"More good news," Toby groaned.

Sam looked over at CJ. "It doesn't look like we'll have this until the afternoon briefing."


* * * * *

At around 10 AM Sarah woke up to the sound of a ringing phone.

"Hmmmm?" she answered groggily.

"Sarah, what's wrong? You have a meeting in half an hour!" It was her office assistant, Pat.

"What time is it?"

"Ten o'clock!"

"Oboy. I'll be there as soon as I can get there." She threw herself into her chair and headed for the shower. Twenty minutes later, hair still wet, she raced out the door, closing the deadbolt behind her. She dug through her bag trying to find the key to switch on the alarm but it wasn't immediately at hand; looking at her watch, she said, "The hell with it," and sped down to her van.

* * * * *

He walked up to the door of her building, huddled against the winter wind, and smashed a hand against the panel near the door, calling several apartments. One of them would open the door for him...

A voice came out of the intercom: "Yes?"

"UPS," he responded.

A buzz announced the door unlocking. He slipped in and took the screwdriver and a lockpick out of his jacket pockets. With an intense look on his dirty face, he found the front door to the condo. When he saw that the alarm was not armed, he smiled.

* * * * *




Blood And Thunder - 5




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