Fade to Black
Part 5

All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.

She has this look of intense concentration on her face. Not long after
Josh and Donna left for work, Jamie brought over a briefcase filled with
papers, and two small packages. I think Lisa threatened him if he left
her in the dark, but that's not it at all. The Director pulled all her
cases except this. Her job is to work on this particular nut case. He
left then, and she tore into the packages. One was copies of all the
photos, and the other was a card from the Center, with 28 signatures,
asking her to lay flow for a few days, at the least. I left her on the
floor in Josh's living room, because I just didn't have the stomach to
watch her dissect those pictures.

I'm staring out the window, not really seeing anything, but trying to
work on the President's new drug speech. We need the strong drug speech
in order to win the news cycle, and if we don't start wrestling a few
news cycles away from the DC crime scene, we're not going to get
reelected. What we do has to make the front page.

Josh wants us to be statesmen, and not get all political. There's no real
opposition on our side, so we can be statesmen all we want for the
primaries. That won't take much, but I'm worried about Bennett or
Lillianfield in the general election. Lillianfield because he's such a
crackpot, and Bennett because he's so moderate that on a bad day he could
pass for a conservative democrat. Plus John Hoynes is a pain in the ass.
If that man doesn't hurry up and fall into rank, Josh and I are going to
gang up on Leo and get him dumped. How are we supposed to run an election
with a VP that won't play nice with the President? Actually, how I am
supposed to help run an election, if Josh is hung up on the whole
Lillianfield factor, and I'm not supposed to come to work until the fever
pitch of the press dies down. With my luck, that could be never.

I'm just glad that the DNC is directing all the state organizations. Josh
and I are getting off easy. Last time, this was hell on earth; now, all
we have to do is keep the DNC on message and make sure that message is
getting out to the grassroots people. Well, that and try to handle the
President without letting him know he's being handled, but that's Josh's
job. Mine is message. I can do message.

"Sam?" I turn around in my chair, and smile at her. I'm not quite sure
what I'd do if anything happened to her, and I don't ever want to find
out. I tried to convince her to let Jamie send us to a safe house last
night, but Josh's was the best compromise I could get. Hey, I'll take
compromise if it helps to keep my Lisa safe. "I'm meeting Donna for
lunch. Don't escape to Mexico until I get back." Right, I'll wait to race
off to Cozumel until you come home and we escape together. She's laughing
at me, and I can't help but think how much I love to see her smile. Now,
the President's message for this week. We're going to talk about drugs.
We're going to talk about drugs before Lillianfield bites us again.


"So what do you think?" Josh is quiet for a minute, and then he says fax
it. I'm more than happy to. I'm going to run across the street right now,
and fax it from the copy store. It took me forever to get the drug
statement just right, and I think the events of the last few days have
sucked some of my vocabulary right out my skull. In fact, it's almost 3
o'clock now, and I can't help but wonder why Lisa isn't back. Oh well,
Josh said Donna wasn't back either, so they probably have some scheme in
the works. It can't be healthy for Josh and I, but whatever makes them
happy, I suppose.

I can't exactly look anonymous, not with a Secret Service agent walking
me across the street to the copy center and back. Did I regress to five
years old and not realize it? I'm fine, I'm an adult, and don't you have
better things to be doing? I can certainly cross the street by myself. At
least, I hope I can.

I'm not in the copy center for more than ten minutes, but when I walk
out, I can see Jamie standing on Josh's front steps, and he doesn't look
very happy. No, not happy at all, and I pick up the pace from a leisurely
walk to a dead run. The only time I've ever seen that look on his face
was at the hospital when Catherine died. I wonder.... I wonder if you
ever get over something like that. In the pit of my stomach, there's a
knot, and it's telling me I don't want to find out the answer to that

"Sam." No, please, not that tone of voice. Jamie, just tell me what it
is. No! Do not give me that look. WHAT! "Sam, maybe we ought to go
inside." I'm not going inside. Tell me. Tell me now. I'm begging you.
Mano a mano, just break it to me. Please. "Lisa's agent..... the
surveillance....." He has to stop to collect himself, and I'm getting
more unnerved by the second. James Sattler is my stereotype of an FBI
agent. He's a G-man that J. Edgar would be proud of, and he's breaking
down on Josh's front steps. Please..... "We found them a half hour ago.
They were..... We think it's the same guy. He shot both agents through
the temple. No one heard a thing." My stomach is tied in knots, and I
think I'm going to be sick. If the agents are dead, where is Lisa?
Where's Donna? I want my wife to come home! "They're missing Sam. I'm
sorry." I'm going to be sick.

After I finish losing my breakfast, lunch, and coffee in the bushes next
to Josh's steps, Jamie offers to drive me to the White House. He hasn't
told Josh yet. My God, Josh is going to have a heart attack. I mean,
after the shooting they told us he should take it easy for a while. I
wonder if his life falling apart two years later will still give him a
heart attack. Hell, my heart's just fine, and I still think it just
exploded in my chest.

It's just.... I can't..... I don't want to picture my life without her.


Josh is standing at the file cabinet in the bullpen, cursing Donna's
filing system, and begging anyone that passes, which in the three minutes
we stand watching includes Margaret, Cathy, and Toby, to help him find
the file for HR 253. Finally, he turns around, and sees me standing at
the edge of the bullpen. "Hey Sam! The press finally let you back in the
building......." I can tell the exact moment he see Jamie standing next
to me, because that's the moment his grin slides right off his face and
shatters against the floor. "What happened?"

"Josh....." I can't do this. I just can't. He's my best friend, and he
loves Lisa like a sister, and he's helpless without Donna. How do I tell
him? Jamie must be watching my face as I debate this with myself, because
he steps forward and puts a hand on Josh's arm. "Josh, when they went to
lunch today...." I can't listen to Jamie say it again. Instead, I bolt
across the bullpen and barricade myself in my office. It seems like time
stands still until I hear four quick taps on my door, and the knob turns.
Josh is standing in the entry, looking like he just lost a prize fight.

I stand up, and we meet in the middle of my office. This man..... this
man is like a brother to me. This man introduced me to Lisa. This
man...... We're going to fall apart today, but we're going to do it
together. Josh hesitates for a second, but I don't. This is definitely
less scary than hugging Toby, and I need to hug Josh right now. I never
need to hug Toby. The moment passes quickly, and Josh tries three times
to clear his throat. His voice squeaks when he finally tells me that
Jamie's waiting in the lobby.

I'm not sure I'm ready to go anywhere, but I trail behind Josh, looking
closely for signs of weakness. His saunter seems to have disappeared, and
his shoulders are slumped, but since he's not asking the President to
send in the Marines, I'd say he was taking things better than expected.
Jamie's talking into his phone when we round the corner, and my heart
flip-flops for a moment when he turns to look at us. As the phone snaps
shut, he fixes us with a level gaze, and I see James the G-man manifest
itself. "There's been another killing."

Please not Lisa. Please not Lisa. Please not Lisa.


Fade to Black - 6




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