Fade to Black
Part 10

All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.

Josh is about to drive us all insane. For some reason he feels the need
to stalk Toby and me around the White House, just to make sure we
understand the importance of sticking to the schedule. You know, I can
write a speech that supposed to take exactly 39 minutes, I just can't
ensure that the President sticks to the script. I think that's supposed
to be Josh's job. Granted, I'm not pointing that out to him any time
soon, because right now, Josh is in his element, and he and Lisa have
been yelling back and forth all day. Well, all day except for the last
couple of hours. She disappeared into Leo's office after lunch and hasn't
come out yet.

I should have cornered her during lunch, but she and CJ were discussing
the press release for our new ad campaign. That's something else that's
pretty entertaining. Watching Lisa and Josh try to convince the President
that negative ads are a good thing. In the middle of the staff meeting,
the three of them got into it again, and Leo kept trying to get a word
in.... he never quite managed. The President went off on some odd tangent
about judge not, least you be judged, and when he stopped to see if his
wisdom had sunk in, Lisa was ready. I don't think I've ever heard more
rhetoric crammed into one breath before in my life. She went off about
how November was a judgement day, and it would decide the fate of the
United States, and she wasn't going to sit quietly while Bob Bennet
decides that fate. I almost had to remind myself that Lisa likes Governor
Bennet, that she voted for him, and she wrote had a letter published
saying he was good for Virginia..... Good for Virginia, but not for the
US. Figures.

We're running the negatives though, starting the week after our
convention. Then we'll be ready to shift in to gear as soon as the
Republicans finish up in Houston. Josh thought having the Democratic
pow-wow first would be a tactical advantage. I think it's an accident
waiting to happen. Instead of Bennet waiting for us to make a mistake,
Bennet *and* Lillianfield are waiting in the wings for us to do something
stupid. It's not like Lillianfield has a chance at the nomination, he's
just out for blood, and by stepping up to bat first, we're handing him
a..... Okay, I'm going to stop with the bad imagery now.

"ELIZABETH!" You know, I think Josh bellowing for Lisa is actually more
annoying than when he used to........ Well, when he used to bellow for
Donna. I guess I'm happy that he's okay enough to bellow for anyone
though. There were some months there..... I though we'd lose reelection
just because Josh couldn't think, couldn't talk...... and Lisa, when Lisa
came on board to help she was still so consumed by finding the......
Anyway, I'm over that now. I think we're going to win, and I get four
more years of this, and yeah, I think four more years of this is good. I
can be perfectly happy with no sleep, no holidays, and beaucoup stress as
long as I have Leo and Toby and CJ and Josh and Lisa..... definitely
Lisa.

We're going to win. We're going to win, and take a victory lap, and wave
at our adoring fans. We're going to win big, and we're going to let the
twins loose on the hill to do some damage. We're going to do great
things. The twins..... I cannot believe Leo started calling them that. I
mean, it fits. The only time Josh and Lisa are more than twenty feet
apart is when one of them is talking to a shrink, which they've been
doing a lot.... too much for Bartlet's campaign managers..... and when
they're at home..... or, at least, when Lisa's at home. Josh might well
be sleeping at his desk. He certainly looks like it.

"Sam?" Tell me what Leo wanted? No, wait, how about you just tell me what
you want for dinner tonight. My treat. She doesn't look all that pleased
though. No, she looks rather pissed off. Whatever it is, it isn't that
bad. "You haven't been taking your pills." She doesn't even ask, she just
says it in a way that lets me know she figured out where the bottles were
stashed. I don't know why she has to call me to the floor like I'm some
little kid. Stanley even said without the pills I might go for months
without any kind of episode, and honestly, between the Oversight
hearings, the thing with Josh and Lillianfield, and the..... the other
stuff, I didn't feel like taking them. I'm seeing Stanley every week, so
if there's something....... Don't tell me I can't afford to have
problems. I know that. I just..... I need to prove this to myself. It's
been six months. Maybe I can manage this job, and everything, and not
have any sort of episode. Look, I have to do this..... It's some macho
thing, and I'm trying to prove something to myself so.....

She's giving me this look, and I don't think she done with this argument,
but she's moved on. I'm supposed to do this thing, for the campaign, with
Tribbey on Capitol Beat. I thought Josh was doing the thing. "Sam,
sweety, Josh is doing the MTV thing." Excuse me? Josh doesn't even know
what MTV is. I ought to do the MTV thing. "Love, Josh has a fan club, and
you're a bit.... geeky. Just do this for me. Kay?" I hate it so much when
she does that.... that thing with her lips. She's pouting, but not quite.
It's sort of hard to argue with. Listen to me, I'm admitting to myself
that my wife can use one look to make me bond with Lionel Tribbey *and*
do dishes.

*

When I wake up, she's not in bed, and out of habit, I catch a glimpse of
the alarm clock. It's barely three o'clock. I try valiantly to roll over
and go back to sleep, but I can't. If nothing else, I can admit when I've
been beaten. I don't even bother to turn on the lights before opening the
bedroom door. Yup, I can already see the light on at the bottom of the
stairs. "Lisa?" Her voice sounds terribly quiet, and even though she
tells me to go back to bed, I don't. She's sitting on the couch, with a
faraway look in her eyes. What is it, honey?

"I remember Donna talking about flowers. I don't know why she was talking
about flowers, but I remember thinking it was terribly important then.
Why would she have needed to talk to me about flowers?" Honestly, I don't
know. I mean, I'd heard Lisa and Donna talk about some strange things,
but the importance of flowers..... I don't know. "Shouldn't I know why it
was important......" I can't bear to listen to this all night, so I kiss
her. I kiss her, and I'm not all that anxious to stop. I'm just about
ready to give up all hope on avoiding discussions of flowers, when I feel
her arms thread around my back, and she kisses me back. This, this is
better than sleep.

In between long kisses, she extracts a promise from me. Apparently, she
wants to go sailing when the Convention is over..... just for an
afternoon. You know, I think I'd take her to Milan if she's just keep
doing that. I don't have the oxygen in my lungs to actually say yes, but
I nod, and capture her lips again. I don't think she's all that anxious
to think about flowers and Donna either. God, if she keeps doing that, I
might forget what flowers are. Hell, as long as it's been, I might forget
my name.

*

The hotel isn't half bad, and I'm sure the only reason the rooms are this
nice is because the Convention is in Madison Square Garden, and because
this is the only hotel within walking distance that the Secret Service
could secure. I didn't think the walking distance thing would be so
important, but I also forgot what New York could be like. We've already
had two small crises, and the thing doesn't even start until tomorrow. Of
course, the only thing we've learned from out fiascoes of the day, other
than not letting Josh talk to any one, about religion of any sort, is
that communications will be a mess. Bennet and Lillianfield, and their
rapid response teams, are already set up, and we can't manage to keep
everyone on the same page. I think I actually miss DC.

Unfortunately, I also seem to be pretty popular right now. Josh has
called me eighteen times in the last hour. Then there's a sprinkling of
Toby, who's still bitching about a severe lack of action verbs in the
First Lady's speech. I'm not sure I care about action verbs right now.
Lily Mays is too busy trying to make sure I understand the importance of
getting the First Lady's speech about the President timed right. You
know, I think she and Lisa are playing tag, because Lisa said the same
thing to me on the plane.

There's this little inkling of an idea in the back of my mind. It's
just.... Lily Mays.... maybe Lisa doesn't remember flowers, maybe she
remembers lily. Now Donna might have been talking about Lily Mays,
everyone was that week. I mean, the First Lady's Chief of Staff show's up
in maternity clothes, and everyone talks. I'm not sure how she managed to
keep the secret, but it seemed important in the scheme of the election,
at least it did then, and Donna was probably telling Lisa everything
Josh'd said about it. I'll have to see if she thinks that's what she
remembers. "Sam?" No, Andrea, you do not get an extra ten minutes. You
get to nominate the President of the United States for his second term.
Isn't that enough? Well, whether it is or not, Lisa and Josh are dead set
on this schedule. Either we run on time, or they quit. Yeah, we both know
Josh wouldn't really quit, and you're right to doubt if Lisa will stay
past November, but Leo said to humor them.

Hey, look, I'd love to talk, but I told Lisa I'd come back to the hotel
for lunch, and I'm hoping lunch, after last night, involves more than
food, so if you'll excuse me. Hey, stop giving me that look, okay. I'm
sure you realize how stressful this is, give me some room to.... yeah.

She's sitting on the bed when I walk in, and she doesn't even look up.
The TV screen is dark, but her eyes are locked on it, like it's turned in
to the Rosetta stone or something. "Lisa, is everything....." No, of
course it's not. "The tape...... I don't know what I'm supposed to be
seeing, Sam." Tape? What tape? It's then I notice the VCR beneath the TV,
and the blinking light next to eject. There's a tape in there. What tape?
I hit rewind, and after what seems like only an instant, I press play.
I'm leaning against the bed, crouched down so low, I might as well be
sitting on the floor, but when the picture fills the screen, I nearly
fall over anyway.

Rosslyn. There's a tape of Rosslyn. I blink a few times before I realize
that's all there is. There's no sound, and I'm watching myself come out
of the Newseum with CJ. The President isn't that far in front of us, but
far enough, and Josh..... How could I have missed Josh? I should have
noticed he wasn't with us. There's no real sound, but I can here this odd
static over certain sections.... It's very faint, but I can't help but
wonder..... Then there's gunfire, and the Secret Service is grabbing the
President and physically throwing him into the limo.... away from the
source of the gunfire. The screen fades to black then, and I'm sitting on
the floor with the same look Lisa had on only a few minutes ago.

Her hand descends on my shoulder, and her voice sounds fragile. "I'm
going to call Jamie." Wait! Where did this come from? No, no it could not
have been in the room. The Secret Service has this entire floor locked
down. No one can come and go, and no one could break into our room. How
the hell did the tape get here?

 

Fade to Black - 11

 

 

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