Fade to Black
Part 11

All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.

Wild horses could not drag me out of this room.

At least, they couldn't drag me out of here for another hour. I ought to
be in New York. I'm letting Lisa down, and making her do the whole set up
thing, but I want this. He deserves so much more than this, but I'll take
whatever I can get. I know he doesn't have the delegates to get it on his
own, but I refuse to take the chance that Lillianfield could be the
nominee. I also refuse to let him near Bennet's ticket. I want this, I
really want this.

The leadership called a hearing on censure. If they censure Lillianfield,
I swear, I will never again call the leadership.... of either party.....
sick, twisted, evil, or.... yeah, that stuff. Hell, if they censure
Lillianfield for misuse of authority a week before the Republican
Convention, I'll kiss the Speaker's feet. He's not even here to defend
himself, which has got to hurt. Of course, he's also in New York, and I
would imagine he's giving Lisa headaches, and Lisa will give CJ
headaches, and CJ will give Toby headaches, and Toby will give everyone a
headache. Damn, by the time I get there, they'll all be pissed off.
They'll get over it though. Especially if the House censures
Lillianfield, yeah, they'll get over it.

Of course, I'm not just interested in the fact that this man has been a
pain in the ass to my best friend, keeping the whole manic-depression
thing in the news at every available opportunity. No, I'm also interested
in getting a sympathetic ear on the Oversight Committee, and I'm damn
interested in the political capital that comes with having a prominent
Republican censured by the full House - especially if Lillianfield pulls
something out the ass and manages to be the nominee.

Then I feel my beeper vibrate, and I struggle to suppress a scowl. That
means I'm going to have to step outside, doesn't it. 226-5598. Lisa? Lisa
or Sam, I can't keep straight which number is which any more. I'm not
sure I ever knew to begin with. Isn't that what speed dial's for? I punch
the number into my cell phone. "Seaborn here." Hey, what d'you need? "You
have got to get up here. There's a problem." There's always a problem.
Come on, Lisa. There is always a problem with the Convention. They just
voted to move from Committee of the Whole to a vote. I'll be on the plane
in a hour. Just..... "Joshua." Alright, already. I'm coming. Snapping the
phone shut, I give a backwards glance to the House chamber before
trudging towards the lobby and the street.

Wild horse might not be able to do it, but Lisa can. Hmm, what does that
say about me, huh?

*

I cannot believe she lied and said there was a problem at the Convention
to get me here. I get over my shock pretty quickly though. When I landed,
I called Lisa, and she gave me directions.... to the state forensics lab.
Talk about surprise. When I pulled up I triple checked everything I'd
written down, and had to shrug. I'd walk in, look stupid, and leave,
except when I walked in, Sam is standing there, waiting for me. "They're
upstairs." He doesn't say anything else, just walks off. When he notices
I'm standing there, with what I would assume is a pretty stupid look
plastered to my face, he walks back, and takes me by the arm, and starts
to lead me up these cracked cement stairs. We must be going up the back
way or something, because I only count 3 other people during our ascent.
Five floors? You couldn't take the elevator, could you, Sam.

He's ignoring me, or else his mind is elsewhere entirely, and in the
middle of all this, I can't help but wonder who's taking care of the
platform. Someone has to be taking care of the platform. I don't want
people using this for their own soap box. This is supposed to be a Jed
Bartlet love-fest. The door looks pretty ordinary, except for the name
plate on the door. Video lab? Sam, what's going on? Is this about.......
No, no, this is my day, Sam. Please don't make me think about Donna right
now. I mean, I think about Donna, but not like that. Please, Sam?

He's not listening to me, instead he's walking in, and there are offices
in the video lab. Well, there are cubicles, but there are offices along
the walls, and he's headed for one. We're probably still twenty feet
away, but even through the door I can hear the raised voices. Sam must
too, because he speeds up, and yanks open the door. "........ not your
place!" "Not my place! What have *you* done?" "This is my case! Dammit!"

For the record, I want to point out that Lisa was the one in James' face,
and she was the one who pushed him. I think he was going to push back,
but you know, even if he wanted to take a swing, I think Lisa is more
than capable of cutting him down to size. I think Sam's on a hair trigger
though, 'cause he slammed James' into the wall. Other than wondering if
the stack of video tapes they toppled are alright, I have to wonder if
there isn't some law against assaulting an FBI agent.

*

It's sort of awkward in here, but if anyone's noticed, they're not saying
anything. Whoever sent that tape..... James and Lisa are comparing it to
the pictures, and talking about some sort of power reassurance versus
power assertive thing that I really don't understand, but I guess the
show's not over, because now the tech guys are playing with some knobs
and rewinding the tape in some machine that looks nothing like the VCR I
have at home.

"That was the surface copy of the tape, however, once the sound was
cleaned up to remove the static, this is what we got." The video starts
the same as before. I can see Sam and CJ walking out, with everyone else,
and I know that when they shot this view of the Newseum, I was still
inside, trying to call Lisa and see if she'd won the Desanto case. Then,
where there had been a burst of static, there are now two voices. "Look
at that.....Just like clockwork....... Yeah, but is that what we
should..... Of course it is. You're watching the best trained bodyguards
in the world.......No buts. We don't even have to beat them..... Yeah,
they'll beat themselves..... Now you've got the idea......"

When the tape ran out, Sam looked stunned. I cannot believe they
videotaped the shooting. How could they have known there would even be a
shooting? "The voices weren't recorded at the same time as the video."
Well, that answers my question. James is having some in-depth
conversation about video generations, but I can't just sit here.
"Shouldn't we tell Ron about this?" Okay, that shouting would tell me
Lisa disagrees. You didn't have to say no quite so forcefully. I don't
think I'm deaf. "Whoever's behind this.... they want us to be afraid. Our
fear, our tension, the Secret Service on high alert.... It helps them
somehow."

Well that's just great. So what are we supposed to do? Lisa's already off
on another tangent. Something about a set up, and looking at the scenes
with the wrong expectations. Then Lisa catches my ear again. "It wasn't
what we've found, it's what we haven't found. He wants us to be afraid,
he wants everyone to get nervous so what does he do? He displays the
victims in places *we* would be scared of. He doesn't exploit a city full
of women, or children, or teenagers, he attacks lawyers, political people
with ties to some very heavy hitters. He scares *us*." The way she says
us, I know she means the White House. Hell, that's all I know though.

You know what? There's absolutely nothing I can do here, and for once I'm
going to admit I'm out of my league. It's like dragging dead weight
uphill for a few miles, but I manage to pry Sam out of there, leaving
Lisa and James to work on this. I want to have a job six months from now,
and there's only one way to do that. Get Bartlet reelected.

Sam's car's downstairs, and I get in the driver's seat without much of an
argument from Sam. He hasn't said a word to me since we left, and I'm not
sure why, but I don't think he likes the idea of Lisa and James still
being upstairs working. What is up with him? I toss my cell phone at him
and tell him to find out about the censure vote. Something good has got
to happen today. It's just the law of averages.

No, tell me that they didn't just table it! I'm going to do some bodily
harm to the Speaker.

 

Fade to Black - 12

 

 

 

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