Fortunate Son

Jane Harper

RATING: R for language 

SYNOPSIS: Leo and Sarah get away for a _long_ weekend. 

ARCHIVE: Sure! Just let me know where. HTML version available, email me. 

DISCLAIMER: I'm just a stowaway on the USS Sorkin. Please don't toss me overboard...


"Sarah, how do you live with it?" Leo asked, digging through the battered cooler which had held their dinner the preceding evening. "Hah!" He gave a victory cry as he managed to free the liter-sized bottled waters from the corner where they had been lodged.

"Live with what?"

"The things that you can't do," he said. "I have to tell you, I'm feeling every day of fifty-five years old right now, and I don't like it."

"But Leo," she responded, "consider the alternative."

He tore the cover off one of the water bottles and opened it, handing it first to her. "Yeah..."

She took a long drink and handed the bottle back to him. "You remember the first night we spent together?"

"Yeah," he replied, smiling. "I didn't tell you this, but when I picked you up I pulled something in my shoulder and couldn't turn my head that direction for a week."

Sarah started to laugh, but the laugh dissolved into tears as she looked out the open door into the storm. Weary and frightened, she began to sob.

"It'll be OK," he said, pulling her toward him. "We'll be OK."

* * * * *

President Josiah Bartlet was on a roll, his voice pouring down like the thunder from Mt. Sinai. "I don't care, Governor! My Chief of Staff's plane went down somewhere in the Coronado National Forest, and I want him _found_!"

"Jed, calm down," Abbey insisted. "No sense in starting a war with Arizona." She paced over to the other side of the living room and back again. "God, I wish Leo were here."

"If Leo were here," the President said, "none of this would be necessary!" He pushed another button on the phone. "Josh, you still there?"

"Yes, sir."

"I swear, when we get him back, I'm going to have Leo's pilot's license revoked."

"I'm not sure you can do that, sir," Josh replied.

"The FAA works for _me_, Josh. Is Sam with Mallory?"

"They're both here, Mr. President."

"Let me talk to Mallory."

'Yes, sir?" Her voice sounded very young and very afraid.

"Mallory, we'll find him. Listen, you and Sam get packed, I'm going to call Andrews and have them get you on the first flight out to Tucson. I'll be in touch on the way if anything happens."

"Yes, Mr. President. Sam has his cell, please call us if there is any news, any news at all."

Bartlet paused a minute, then continued. "Josh?"

"Yes sir?"

"You're going to be getting a call from Governor Larchman, wanting to know if there is anything he can do to help. Say yes."

* * * * *

It had stopped raining before sunset, but the leftover cloud cover had painted the sky in breathtaking colors. Sarah and Leo had managed to get her wheelchair out of the plane, and she was safely bundled onto it while he was seated on a rock a few inches away.

"I'm cold," she said.

"I'm sorry," he responded. "I'm a failure as a Boy Scout, I can't build a fire without a fire. If I hadn't quit smoking I could have us warmed up by now."

Sarah scowled. "With your job, if you hadn't quit smoking you'd be _dead_ by now. I'd rather have you alive and be cold."

"I just can't help remembering... I sure couldn't survive now what I went through then."

She leaned forward and took his hand. "Then, you were frightened for your life, and fear is a great energizer. Nobody is waiting for us out there with a gun, or worse. And you weren't dragging a crippled woman around with you." Catching and holding his eyes with hers, she said, "Stop beating yourself up for having lived this long. You don't need to apologize for having made it home."

He said nothing, but blinked rapidly a few times and stared out at the buttes reflected in the moonlight.

Sarah took Leo in _her_ arms and began to sing softly.

"'Twas down by the glen-side, I met an old woman She was picking young nettles and she scarce saw me coming I listened awhile to the song she was humming Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men.

"'Tis fifty long years since I saw the moon beaming On strong manly forms and their eyes with hope gleaming I see them again, sure, in all my daydreaming Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men.

"Some died on the glen-side, some died near a stranger And wise men have told us that their cause was a failure They fought for old Ireland and they never feared danger Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men."

Leo sat quietly waiting for her to finish, and for several minutes afterward. He pulled away, replacing his arm around her shoulders, pulling her as close as he could. With a tiny break in his voice, he murmured, "Where did a nice Jewish girl learn an anthem to Irish freedom?"

"I told you, the Irish are one of the ten lost tribes. Besides, I'm an honorary leprechaun."

Suddenly, he sat up straight and his hand flew to her face, lightly brushing her lips. "Shhhh..."

"I don't hear anything but the coyotes."

"Hush!" He froze as the rhythmic beat of rotors broke the air, followed by a blinding light. His eyes fought to focus on the three approaching figures, trotting smartly in their direction.

"Mr. McGarry?"

"Yeah?" he responded, standing up and stepping between the newcomers and Sarah's chair.

A young woman in camouflage fatigues jogged up to where Leo was waiting. "I'm Warrant Officer Janice Coleman of the Arizona National Guard. Sir, we're here to take you to Tucson."

"Daddy?" Mallory's voice came out of the light and the noise. "Dad!" she ran up to Leo and threw her arms around him, then jumped back as she felt the makeshift cast on his arm. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, baby, I'm fine. We're fine. My wrist got broken in the crash." He hugged his daughter again, hard.

Sam came directly over to Sarah. "You ok?"

She looked around at the three people who had become her family and nodded. "I'm just fine."

* * * * *

"Yes, Mr. President, we're just fine," Leo said into the phone. "But we were _very_ glad to see that helicopter! I was running out of magic tricks to keep Sarah entertained... ."

He fell silent for a moment, as he fended Sarah's playful slap off with his uninjured arm.

"No sir, we're going to stay here until Monday. I promised her a weekend away, and we're going to have a weekend away. Sounds like Josh is doing an excellent job. I'll see you Tuesday morning, sir."

He switched the phone off and put it back in his briefcase. "C'mon, I need to rest up from all this peace and quiet."


The End




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