This all seemed like a very good idea at the time. When Sam left this
morning, I was just barely awake, but after breakfast, some very good
drugs, and a couple well placed chairs, I thought I could make it over to
the closet and dress with no problem. Unfortunately I was right. It was
almost too easy to get out of bed and maneuver across the room. It wasn't
even that hard to get my clothes off that top shelf and dress. The hard
part is this.

The ground is really cold. You could almost convince me it's December
rather than August. Intellectually, I could tell you at least eleven
reasons why I'm freezing right now. Gut level, I can't get beyond the
fact that I'm freezing. I called Sam. I know, sorta stupid, but what else
am I supposed to do? I'm in a bind here, and he's the go-to guy right
now. I think he did something silly though, 'cause when I called I could
hear Alice Ritcher, you know, that nasal sounding woman from NOW,
laughing in the background. Well, I suppose Josh could have done
something stupid too, but..... Hey, what was that?

That sounds like someone coming through the door, and I know Sam couldn't
cross town that fast. Okay, thinkthinkthinkthinkthink. Turn off the
flashlight. It's dark now and.... Damn! It slipped out of my fingers and
rolled. I'll never find the stupid thing. There are definitely footsteps
on the stairs now, and I can't quite remember which direction the closet
is from here. Left? I don't know, but it's a fifty-fifty shot, so I'm
crossing my fingers. Crawling along, running my hand along the wall, I
find the closet about six feet down the wall. The door is barely cracked,
and I open it quickly hoping the hinges don't squeak. They're quiet - so
quiet I can hear the shoefalls leave the stairs and hit the floor. The
damn cold floor.

I shut the door all but a crack just as light fills the area. There's
this feeling in my stomach, and I don't exactly recognize it. It reminds
me of turning on the news in the middle of a conference room in Palo Alto
and seeing a special bulletin. A moment before, I couldn't have cared one
bit about Rosslyn, Virginia. A moment later, I couldn't think of anything
else. It's that exact same feeling, and the fact that I don't know what
it is right away ought to tell me life was too comfortable before this.
Instead, it tells me life is decidedly uncomfortable right now. It's
fear. It's fear and it's not my best emotion. Hell, emotion isn't my best
emotion. Brain on, heart off. That's the best setting, so where did this
come from?

It's warmer in the closet, and I feel around quietly. I think there's a
radiator in back. I might have touched it, actually, I might have burned
my fingers, but that's beside the point. There are two voices, and I
creep forward on my hands and knees until I can peer through the crack in
the door. Okay, I don't know who the blond is, but I know who the GI Joe
in the Armani is. Damndamndamndamn. That cannot be who I think it is. It
can't be. He turns away from the blond, and not only do I see her face,
but I see his a bit more clearly. Okay, that's the face I remember from
before, in London, and her face...... Wait, her face? There's something
not quite right about it.

No! The noise at the street has to be a car. Sam, if it's you, work on
the latent psychic skills and stop. Turn around. Do not pass go. Do not
come down here. There's a sound on the stairs, and the blond hits the
lights. I can't see my hand in front of my face, and then I see light.
Light is flooding down the stairs from the street. Please don't be Sam.
The steps are definitely too heavy to be Sam's. Too heavy to be Sam's,
but I have to rub my eyes when I realize who they belong to.

Peter Lillianfield is standing at the foot of the stairs. Back that up
just a second. See, I never went for this political cloak-and-dagger
routine. I was all for public policy, a bit of speechwriting, and a few
odd deals. This, this is weird.


They've been talking for hours, and I can't hear them from in here, and I
can't go out there. Okay, is GI Joe in the Italian suit really who I
think he is? If he's him, whose the blond? If he's him, what the hell's
Lillianfield doing here? I can feel that sick feeling in the pit of my
stomach growing a little more with each passing moment. It's pretty
apparent Sam can't follow road signs. Right now, a good thing, but that
doesn't help me out much. There's definitely a radiator in here. It's a
fucking sauna. I'm starting to feel a bit faint, but I can't tell if
that's the heat or the drugs or the swirling feeling in my head from
outside the subway.

Sliding back from the door, I lean my back against the side of the closet
and fold my legs against my chest. I have to close my eyes. It's not an
option anymore. Those were some pretty damn amazing drugs at the
hospital. I was all warm and happy until I pulled the IV out. Sam's gonna
kick my ass for that. I swear, I will never again complain about Sam
mothering me. Right now, I think I'd even let my mother mother me. Scary

My eyes clang shut with a determination all their own, and I'm too
frightened to sleep, but pictures keep playing in my mind. Pictures of
New York I want to get rid of. The hotel room. Sam and I fought. We made
up. Making up was definitely worth the fight. He wouldn't take his pills.
My books. Sam brought them from Paul's loft. My loft. Paul's loft.
Shaking my head warily, I try to shake some sense into myself. I think
I'm going to be certifiable by the time it's over. I shake my shoulders a
bit and the next picture isn't as pleasant as hotel scenes. The video.
The video from Rosslyn. The staff walking out. The President working the
line. Leo at his right hand. Sam walking with CJ. Gunfire. The Secret
Service hauling the President by the shirt into the limo. Haul him out of
the line of fire. Instinct. A couple more shots. Silence.

Wait? My eyes fly open. Did I just say that? I did, didn't I? Damn. I'm
smart when I'm on drugs. Now, how the hell do I get out of here to do
something about it?


Fade to Black - 26



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