Fade to Black
Part 15

All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.

Hospitals everywhere smell and sound alike. There's a pervasive scent of
bleach and cleanser, and there's the sound of controlled chaos throughout
the halls. It feels the same as when I held my own vigil over Josh.
Catherine's parents are sitting in the waiting room with Jamie's boys,
and I ought to go join them, but I can't yet. People keep dying, and I
can't get rid of the feeling that I can't win this time. No matter what I
tell myself, and how much more I discover, I'm still no closer than I was
on the night Laurie died - in reality, I'm farther away. Now Jamie isn't
here to push and pull my ideas, and I feel lost, just a little bit, but
lost nevertheless.

I have come to the conclusion\ that I do not do hospitals well. I
shouldn't try, because I'm no good in hospitals. The only good thing ever
to happen to me in a hospital is kissing Sam. That, that I would do
again, but this waiting - it's excruciating. One of our guys, who was a
lot more coherent than I was, took some pictures in the emergency room -
for evidence. You know, just thinking about that.... protecting oil
companies at Gage Whitney suddenly sounds more noble than taking pictures
in an ER. Not that I'll ever look at those picture though. It's going to
be pretty tough for me to get that image - the one of the whole in his
chest - out of my head. Yeah, definitely tough.

I called my dad this afternoon, and he's flying up tonight. He and Jamie
were always close - closer than dad and Paul have ever been. "Aunt Lisa?"
I stop studying the tile floor and look up. Trevor's standing across from
me, mirroring my posture as he too leans against the wall. It hasn't even
been four years since Catherine died. Haven't these boys suffered enough?
"What's going to happen next?" I don't have an answer to that, but I pat
the wall next to me, and he crosses the hall, standing next to me, and I
prop my arm across his shoulder. I can't quite remember when he got so
tall, but I have to reach up a bit just to do that. Fifteen is pretty old
to a teenager, but he's not ready for this, and neither is anyone else.
I'm don't know what comes next, but I'm going to hold out some hope for
Jamie. A doctor disappears into the waiting room, and I'm not sure if I
should follow. Catherine's mother steps into the hall though, and motions
for us to come in. There's news. There's news, and good or bad, it will
end this not knowing.

I watch Catherine's mother cry. I think I might cry too, but Trevor has a
death grip on my shoulder, and I think he's trying too hard to put up a
brave front. Nathan doesn't bother. He's sitting next to his grandfather,
and his sobs are the only sound I can hear. I don't want to move, I don't
want to do much of anything right now, but I have to..... to arrange for
an autopsy, to have the body sent back to the Bureau, to...... No, I
don't think I'm going to cry, I know I am.


It's muggy outside, and I'm not real sure what I'm doing here. When I
close my eyes, I can still see blood everywhere. He called me. He called
me because he wanted me to find the bodies. The NYPD is having a fit. I
think they expect the FBI to roll over and give them jurisdiction, but
the likelihood of that happening is next to none. Our guys are burning
both ends trying to get more information on the DC killings, and the ones
that aren't are going full steam into the implications on the President's
life. I keep expecting Ron to call me and ask what the hell's going on,
but he hasn't yet, and for that, I'm grateful.

With the kind of manpower we need, I'm not about to alienate the local
police. Their lead detective is still talking about available resources,
and I know I should be paying attention, but I'm not. I'm not all that
sure I even remember his name, even though it couldn't have been more
than ten minutes since he introduced himself. It's..... I have no idea.
Dad must see the look on his face though, because when he asks the guy a
question, he makes sure to use his name. Thank you, Dad. Detective
Bailey. I can deal with that. I think I might even be able to remember

My cell phone rings then, and they both nod to me while I step back to
answer it. It's Josh. He sounds a little stressed, and out of habit I
glance at my watch. It's already after seven. Hell, Josh, I'm sorry, I
just...... You know, I forgot all about you. I forgot about you, and Leo,
and the President, and I'm sorry. No, I can't get away, something's......
Josh, he's dead. "James? Oh Lisa, I'm so..... It's sounds sort of stupid
to say I'm sorry, but I am." I know, Josh. Look, I have to do this thing.
I'll be there later though. I'll try at least.

I can feel last night starting to catch up with me, because when I check
in to the office, I don't bother to be gentle. I tell Harriet that Jamie
died last night, and I ask her to make sure that news makes the rounds.
"You have a message." Somehow, that doesn't surprise me. "You have orders
to remove yourself from the investigation." Excuse me? I am not doing any
such thing. Did the Director order this? "No ma'am, the order came from
the White House." Even after I hang up the phone, I stand there,
listening to the dial tone. For just a second, I curse the President.
Then it occurs to me. Leo. I'm going to beat Leo with a stick.


"How could you do this to me?" Alright, so that's not my best opening
line, but I'm improvising here. The conference rooms nearly grinds to a
halt, and even the phones seem to stop ringing for an instant. Whatever
conversation Leo and Josh are having falls by the wayside, and I'm really
trying hard not to lose my cool, except, I'm doing a lousy job of it. You
have no idea what you're doing. This is *my* case. He growls a little
when he says my name, and I think he's more annoyed that I figured it out
so quickly than anything else. "This is *my* election, and the appearance
of impropriety...." To hell with appearances, Leo. I want the President
to leave New York as healthy as he arrived, and the hell with
appearances. To hell with this convention, to hell with this political
tap dance, to hell with you. You didn't hire me to do anything but what
is best for the President, and keeping him alive, along with everyone
else, seems to be the best way to do that, so the hell with you, Leo.
Fire me! Just don't tell me to stop this, because I won't.

When I shut my mouth, I become conscious of the fact that the entire room
is staring at me. Okay, Lisa, breathe. Pretend you did not just tell Leo
to go to hell. Damn, it's not working. Josh grabs me by the arm then, and
tries to have some sort of private conversation in the corner, except
everyone who's not glued to a phone is trying their best to hear what
he's saying. I hope someone's listening to what he's saying because I'm
not. Instead, I feel my cheeks burning just a bit, and I'm having visions
of Mark lecturing me about getting personally involved in a case.
".....listening?" Huh, what? "Lisa, are you listening to me?" Absolutely
not, Josh. I'd love to, but I'm not. "Look, Leo will forgive you for
that. You've been under a lot of stress, but you've got to let this go."
I can't, Josh. I just..... I can't. "There are some things you don't want
to know." That has to be the most cryptic phrase Josh has ever uttered,
but he's stalking off now, mainly because CJ's yelling something about
Cordova making a statement on Lillianfield and drugs.

I don't stick around. Instead, I grab my bag and head for the floor. Leo
heads me off though. He wants to know if I know what I'm doing. Hell, I
don't even know what I'm thinking right now, but I know I have to do
this. Leo, don't make me go behind your back. He steps back and picks up
the phone. "Lisa, you're fired. Try and finish up this business of yours,
because I'd like to hire you back for the general election." I'm not sure
if he expects me to thank him, actually, I'm not sure what it is he's
doing, but he's talking on the phone now, telling them the President's
concerns were misplaced - that his real concern was with me working for
both the campaign and the FBI. He places the phone back in the cradle,
and as it rings again, he tells me to get lost. My phone rings before I
hit the street. Harriet. Yes!


I'm not sure what CJ wants to talk to me about, but I find myself sitting
in some coffee shop at 10:30, waiting for her. I'm reading through case
files when she drops into the seat across the table, looking rather
shell-shocked and exhausted. "Couldn't you and Toby picked someone less
volatile than Elena Cordova?" Hey, look, we went 'round and 'round on
this. You get Elena or you get John, but both have their faults. If you
don't have a purpose for this coffee date, I'm going to have to run. I'm
supposed to attend an autopsy in an hour. CJ studies my plate then. "How
can you eat and do that?" Honestly, I don't know. I couldn't even dissect
the requisite frog in primary school. "I needed to talk to you.... it's
about Sam." Okay, CJ, I'm all ears. "He's been.... well, he's been acting
a bit out of sorts." See, this is where I'm faced with a small dilemma,
but it's CJ. CJ will baby sit him if need be. "He hasn't been taking his
medicine for a while now, has he?" Of course, when she guesses, I'm not
faced with any sort of dilemma, I just nod. We sit there quietly for a
while, and then, CJ speaks up again. She asks me if I think there's any
chance that Sam could be involved. She's so careful with how she phrases
it, that it's almost funny. Does she think it hasn't occurred to me

It's occured to me, and I've hated myself for the thought. I love Sam. I
trust him. It shouldn't be hard to trust that he couldn't be involved in
this. It just shouldn't. Having said that, yeah, it's a little tough, but
I have faith, and if I didn't, I'd just follow Leo's advice..... Fake it
'til you make it. Right now, I might be faking it just a little, but
we'll make it. We always do.

I flip the page on the case file while CJ stutters for a second over my
calm acceptance. Calm? I am certainly not calm over the suggestion that
Sam might be involved in this, I'm just...... I'm fairly certain I know
Sam better than that. I try not to think about all the women I've talked
to over the years who've said the same thing, even as their husbands were
arrested, convicted, sentenced, and executed. Yeah, I try not to think
about that. I flip the page again, and turn back. CJ asks what's the
matter, and I can already feel that wrinkle forming between my eyebrows.
We couldn't have been that stupid. I grab the next case file and flip
through it hurriedly, then the next. Damn. We are that stupid. Excuse me
CJ, but I've got to go.


Fade to Black - 16




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