Fade to Black
Part 18

All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.

I'm going to give these boys awards for their powers of observation. They
have this shirt for eight months, and they fail to notice the obvious.
We've got it for twenty minutes and myself, my dad, and George over there
all notice it. I mean, it was pretty damn obvious. The hearings were all
over the papers for weeks. Everyone saw some bit of them - drugs in the
White House. It was pretty compelling reading, even for me. We didn't
believe anyone could make such an obvious mistake, so we had to go back
and find a tape. Dad even called CSPAN to find an original tape. No doubt
about it. Really, I felt pretty silly afterwards.

On the table in the next room, the fingerprint guy is comparing prints
from Laurie, Sam, and Josh, and if none of the prints on the shirt are
their's then this is a whole new ballgame. I know, I really didn't need
to print Josh, but covering all the bases seemed like a good idea,
especially since it was in his closet. It was erie when they brought it
up, still wrapped in a trash bag, just like Josh told me it would be, and
we sprayed a very white shirt with luminol and stuck it under the
ultra-violet light. I have never seen so many bloodstains on one piece of
clothing. It looked like it had been soaked, but on the left shoulder and
the right sleeve..... perfect handprints.

The boys look ready to bang their heads into the table. Ah, at least I'm
not the only one who feels a little dumb. They had months to realize
this. Reaching for the remote control, I rewind the tape a bit and press
play, watching Sam, in his dark blue shirt, testify in front of the
committee. No chance those are the same two shirts. No chance at all.
George opens the door then, and beckons me towards the door. He leans
against the doorjam and shakes his head. See? This is pretty strange. I
want to do a dance in the hallway because Sam's not involved, but now,
we're at square one, and time's running out. The President addresses the
Convention in forty-eight hours, and there's no doubt in my mind as to
the target important enough for all this.


"This is the sequence we find with the blood stain itself, but this one,
on the left, is the sequence from the victim. Not even close. The only
thing similar is the blood type." Okay, I have a headache now. It's not
one of those 'I-forgot-my-glasses' headaches, although if I knew where
I'd left them, I'd feel better. No, this is one of those
'We've-been-on-the-wrong-track-from-the-start' headaches. The lab tech
has spent the last twenty minutes chronicling the many ways in which this
cannot under any circumstances, be Laurie's blood. Somehow, that's not
terribly comforting.

Alright, so this is my best guess.... Someone who did not kill Laurie
tried to get us to believe Sam did kill Laurie. What on earth is the
point in that? It's takes him a second, but Dad says that same damn thing
out loud, and George nods. He's trying to figure this out, or at least be
helpful, but I don't think he's succeeding, at least in his own mind. "If
you'll excuse me, I'll go work on the security procedures we were talking
about." He looks at me, like I need to dismiss him, and I can't stop
myself from profiling him, just a bit. Military, definately, and at least
ten years here. From knowing Gina Toscano, I'd even guess he was an MP.
Maybe when this is over, I'll see if I've still got it, but right now,
Dad and Josh are speculating wildly about this latest..... thing. True,
they're shouting their guesses across the room at each other, but the
coordination is truly freakish. Freakish..... I think I'm overusing that

I think if they keep on like this, they're going to start tying this in
with the Kennedy assassination and Elvis, but Sam stops them and says
what I've been thinking ever since the fingerprints didn't match. "I was
set up. I was set up by someone that wanted Leo to fire me, and the FBI
to kick Lisa and Jamie off the case." Well, they got part of their wish.
I attended Jamie's autopsy this morning, after my coffee date with CJ.
There was just something about those punctures..... The M.E. said it was
distinctive, just like on the other bodies. It's some unique kind of
knife with fancy serations. Honestly, I don't know how they can see that.
All I saw was a couple holes in his chest. Jamie and the video tech.....
they tell me it was the same knife as the women, but this was different.
There were defensive wounds. It's then that I remember those case files
this morning. "Dad, can you do something for me?"

We go to the Convention Center to wait. My father called in the favors I
needed. Now we need to think and wait. At three am the conference room
we've been using is deserted, as is the rest of the complex, and the
phones are silent. I can't stop myself from wondering exactly how far
outside FBI procedure I've managed to wander. Jamie usually reigned me
in....... I have teams in three cities waiting some sort of go-ahead, and
instead of using them, I've got a bunch of folks with no business being
involved, very involved.

Leo's pacing quietly near the back of the suite, as if he wants to wear a
hole in the floor. I wonder if Bartlet would charge me with treason for
putting his Chief of Staff in danger. Nevertheless, I know Leo too well.
From the moment it was decided this was political and directed against
the President, he was in for the whole nine yards. Josh and Sam are
playing catch with a football they produced from somewhere, but the lines
of tension on their faces must resemble my own. A New York detective and
a retired FBI agent are talking shop at the table, and I was right about
them - George and my dad are comparing their experiences in law
enforcement to their stints in the army. I almost sit down with them, but
my cell phone rings.

The entire room seems to tense at the sound. This, this is not something
I'm looking forward to. Whatever they're going to say, there are only two
people in this room who ought to be hearing it. Of course, I'm out of my
depth here. This is a whole new game, and it's very political. More
political than I'm prepared for. After all, it's been years since I've
played that game - the one where creating a scandal and using it are
important. This Convention thing.... it's not the same level of politcs.
Right now, I need these guys. I answer the phone when it rings. I think I
can feel the stress level inside my body becoming a living, breathing
entity as our guys in DC start to talk. By the time they're done, I am
wired and exhausted all at the same time. On one hand, the picture is
starting to form, on the other hand, I can't tell if I'm looking at a
circle or a square.

There were no defensive wounds on the bodies. That stuck in the back of
my mind for the longest........ Usually it means the victim knew their
attacker, or trusted them, or at least allowed them the proximity. Not
this time. This time, all three women had been drugged with a fast-acting
sedative, the details of which are coming in a report I'll see later.
Only my father is owed favors by every lab on this coast, and while
knowing this helps, I'm not quite sure how. I'm also not quite sure how
we managed to not run toxicology screens on them before now.
Mind-boggling how these things happen.

They're not done giving me the update though. The stuff on the shirt we
sent them, the blood is from two different people. Neither of those
people are our victims. They're running matches through our system, but
we've only got partial records, and only from cases we've worked, and
only since 1989. I'm not going to hold my breath. They're running the
prints as well - so far, no match. I should be feeling pretty good when I
hang up the phone. Conclusive proof that Sam wasn't involved. I can
definately go for that. It just....... I have more questions now than
before. Right now, I want to get to the bottom of this whole business
with Bennet, Lillianfield, and Havverson because that feeling in the pit
of my stomach is telling me the two things are related.

We go around and around, looking at records for Oversight, the now
infamous bank statements, and the personnel file that we can't identify.
It's certainly not from the FBI, and I've never seen anything this
detailed. We would have missed it completely if our local detective and
my father hadn't decided to pour over the thing in the middle of Josh's
rant about Konrad. Suddenly, their heads pop up, and the inspiration is
written all over their faces. "This file..... It has to be the one Bennet
provided to Lillianfield." Shit. If that's the case, then the censure
hearing is looking for evidence of the wrong crime, because if this guy
works for the CIA....... That headache..... it's back again.


We were in the middle of our special little tribal council, trying to
figure out how to manage the President's security without telling the
Secret Service or the FBI, and failing miserably, when Margaret showed
up, presumably to open the office. She looked pretty flustered to see us
all sitting there. "Leo, I thought the first meeting was at six o'clock.
I'm sorry I missed......" He cuts her off mid-apology and waves her on to
the stack of work I presume is left over from yesterday.

Standing up to stretch my legs, I cross my fingers and hope Toby and CJ
can run this Convention show, because I think the threesome there will be
a bit preoccupied. I gather up our notes and files and head out the door,
hoping to make my escape before Toby corners me to talk about Cordova.
Sam follows me though, and when he catchs up to me, he rests his hand
against the small of my back. Just the soft heat through my shirt is
enough to make me want to curl up in his arms and pretend this was all
some horrible dream. More than anything, I want this to be some horrible

He walks me to the street, and I realize that tomorrow evening, the
President of the United States will address the people inside. He'll
accept their nomination for the Presidency, and if my hunch is right at
all, someone is going to try to kill him. I know only two things about
this person. He likes to get up close and personal, and that he's playing
a very big, very high stakes game. Our team's losing. Time to change


Fade to Black - 19



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