Courage and Fear

by Maddy

.

CATEGORY: Jed/Abbey, Sam/Mallory

SUMMARY: Air Force One is hijacked enroute to Europe with Abbey, Leo, Sam and Mallory on board. When Mallory is critically injured, Abbey, Leo and Sam must find a way to deal with the situation on their own while the President tries desperately to find a way to bring them home.

The story explores Jed and Abbey's relationship, Sam and Mallory's relationship and as well, the relationship between Abbey and Mallory.

SPOILERS: He Shall From Time To Time, What Kind of Day Has it Been, In the Shadow of Two Gunmen (part one and two).

DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters.....they belong to the brilliant Aaron Sorkin. This is just for fun.

So here we go.......

Courage and Fear

 

by Maddy

 

June 29th

First Lady Abigail Bartlet looked out the small airplane window, trying to make out the world below. She couldn't see anything. Perhaps it was because it was still too dark outside, maybe they were still too high in the air, or was it simply due to the tears welling up in Abbey's eyes? Air Force One had been hijacked ten hours earlier, leaving Abbey paralyzed in fear and powerless as the large airplane, carrying precious cargo, sped out of control towards the South....not East, as intended. Not even her skill as a doctor seemed to bear any power at all.She desperately tried to help the injured....it wasn't good enough. It just wasn't good enough. Abbey tried to remain calm but her world was shattering before her, slowly and painfully. She wiped a tear from her cheek, grateful that for the moment a wave of silence had come over the plane. It wouldn't last, Abbey knew. She had to remain calm....for everyone's sake. Why is this happening? How can this be happening to me....to Jed, this is too much..

June 27th

"Good Morning, Mrs. Bartlet" Mrs. Landingham said as Abbey entered the office, looking for her husband, Jed Bartlet, The President of the United States.

"Morning, Mrs. Landingham, is my husband busy?" Abbey asked as she strode into the office, looking immaculate in a red suit.

Mrs. Landingham smiled. "Is he ever not busy?" She asked with short laugh. The secretary stood up and showed Abbey to the door of the Oval Office. "Go right in. He always has time for you." Abbey smiled. He better have time for his devoted and loving wife she thought jokingly. The President sat at his desk in the Oval Office, speaking on the phone in his usual light manner. Abbey walked over to her husband, placing her hands on his shoulders and kissing him on the cheek. He smiled at her and managed to finish off his conversation on the telephone. He hung up seconds later, took off his reading glasses and shook his head with a smile.

"Abbey.." Jed started. "I was-"

"On the phone, yes, I gathered that." Abbey replied, cutting him off. She sat down on the couch. Jed joined her, taking his wife into his arms. On the rare occasions when he and Abbey were able to spend time together, Jed tried to put things aside. Despite his busy schedule, he wanted to be with Abbey. She was to leave on a trip to Europe the next day and he wanted to make the most of the time they had together.

"You all packed for tommorow?" Jed asked as Abbey rested her head on his shoulder.

"Ughh don't remind me that I'm leaving again tommorow. Let's just make this last as long as possible. It's nice to actually spend time together for once."

" Are you packed? " Jed asked again with a laugh, hugging his wife closer to him.

" Not yet.I will.Soon." Abbey replied, burying her head in Jed's chest. " I am looking forward to the trip, it would just be nicer if you could join me this time." she hinted.

"Trust me, I would be there if I could be." Jed declared. "Europe is lovely in early summer...."

"Romantic too." hinted Abbey.

" Abbey, this is your trip. The people of Europe are expecting the First Lady, not the President. Besides, I have a country to run and it usually works best when I'm in the country." Jed kissed his wife's forehead.

" You know I miss you." Abbey sighed.

" Tell me about it." Jed rolled his eyes. "I miss you more."

" Impossible."

" Possible. Definitely possible."

"I don't think so, babe." Abbey replied. She decided to change the subject. " Leo is looking forward to the trip, he's bringing Mal. He's actually quite glad that he's getting a break from you." Abbey told Jed as she stood and brushed her hair away from her face.

"Oh really. My chief of Staff wants to get away from me? My best friend?" Jed joked. Then he nodded slowly "I accept that." He said, knowing that his best friend just needed some time away. Jed was glad that Leo McGarry had decided to take his daughter, Mallory, an elementary school teacher, on the trip to Europe. Jed had asked Leo if he would be interested in using his two week "vacation" to accompany Abbey on the trip. In fact, this "vacation" wasn't really a true vacation. Leo needed to take care of some business and it all worked out that Abbey, Leo and Mallory would travel together....along with many secret service agents and other various bodyguards.

"Will you join me for lunch?" asked Abbey, realizing what time it was.

"Can you give me twenty minutes?" Jed asked, returning to his desk, a guilty look on face. He gestured to the pile of papers that crowded his working space.

"Guess I'm going to have to." said Abbey. She opened the door. "I'm just going to say hi to Sam, C.J., Josh and the others. Take your time....." she trailed off.

Jed smiled as he watched his wife leave the Oval Office. She was so unbelievably patient with him..probably because she was a doctor and patience just comes with the territory.

"Twenty minutes!" Jed called.

"Sure...." replied Abbey with a short laugh.

"Sam, I'm telling you, the press conference had nothing to-" Josh stopped mid-sentence when he saw the first lady. "Good morning Ma'am."

"Good morning Dr.Bartlet" Sam Seaborn said, forgetting what he was about to say to Josh Lyman. The two men had been conversing in Josh's office and were preparing to go out to lunch.

"Good morning Sam, Josh..you two heading out?" Abbey asked,seeing that both men were carrying their briefcases.

"Getting some lunch. Probably a hot dog." Sam said.

"Sam really likes hot dogs" added Josh. The First Lady laughed.

"You're heading to Europe on Air Force One tommorow Mrs. Bartlet?" Josh asked, trying to rearrange a mess of papers on his desk.

" Yes. Leo and Mallory are joining me. Jed seems to think I need chaperones."

"Mallory's going?" Sam asked, immediately interested. He and Mallory had been dating for nearly eight months.

"Yes. Leo and I thought it would be good for her to get away," explained Abbey.

"Good idea. She deserves it," replied Sam. Josh groaned. It was becoming clear that Sam really wanted to go.

Suddenly, the First Lady's eyes lit up. "Sam..would you be interested in joining us? I'm sure Mallory would appreciate the company...." Abbey trailed off. She was very much aware of Sam and Mallory's relationship and was eager to see it develop into something really serious.

Sam nodded. Josh elbowed him, knowing what Sam was thinking about.

"SAM....in case you didn't realize it, you don't have time to take an eight day trip to Europe." Josh tried to convince him. "You can't be serious."

 

Sam shrugged his shoulders. " I think the President would agree that my work has been superior to the norm these past few weeks and I think that I can write some fabulous speeches from Paris or perhaps Venice.."

"Venice is so romantic,Sam." the First Lady said. A small smile curved her lips.

"But Sam-" Josh began.

Sam cut his best friend off. "I think two chaperones for the First Lady just isn't enough. Three would be far better...."

 

"Sam, you can't just decide to go to Europe tommorow" Josh whined. He looked at Abbey who shrugged her shoulders and smiled and then looked at Sam, who had nothing on his mind except the thought of himself and Mallory in Venice, together for eight days.

Josh rolled his eyes. "Oh no."

"Oh yes," said Sam.

"Samuel Norman Seaborn, you CAN'T go, we have tons of stuff, important stuff, to do." Josh said sternly.

Abbey laughed. "Norman?"

"Ugh. Middle name." Sam turned to Josh. "I can take my share with-"

"SAM!"

"JOSH!"

"Boys, why don't you discuss this over your little lunch date?" suggested Abbey.

"Yes. Would you like to join us, Mrs. Bartlet?" Josh asked politely.

Abbey shook her head. "No thanks, the President and I are going for lunch in a few minutes. You guys have a good time!"

"We will." Josh said. "We certainly have lots to talk about!"

A few minutes later, the President emerged from the Oval Office and escorted his wife to a romantic lunch.

By some luck, Sam was permitted to accompany the First Lady, Leo and Mallory on the trip. The President had been impressed with Sam's ideas of playing off the scenery and Europeen influences in his speech writing, knowing well that Sam would be spending most of his time trying to impress Mallory. It's well deserved, the President thought.He works so hard. It's time for a break.

Josh, Toby Ziegler, Press Secretary C.J. Cregg, Charlie Young and Josh's assistant, Donna Moss, sat with the President in the Oval Office.

"Wait a minute,Mr. President. Let me get this straight....Sam is going to Europe tommorow..and I'm not." C.J. said.

 

"Correct." Jed replied.

"But Mr. President-" Donna began.

"Mr. President, we need Sam here." said Toby. "It's bad enough we won't have Leo here for eight days."

" I think we can handle it, Toby." Jed told him.

"Sure we can, Mr. President." spoke up Josh. "But why does SAM get to go....what about me?"

 

"Josh, please don't whine." Charlie said. He sat next the President as the senior staff talked to the President. He didn't want to stick his nose into things. He had only one thing on his mind and that was the President's daughter, Zoey Bartlet. They were going out on a date that night.

"Listen everyone, Sam deserves a chance to go on the trip. You all get your chances once and awhile. It's Sam's turn." Jed Bartlet explained.

"Yes, Mr. President." came five answers.

June 28th

"Hello everyone" C.J. said as she entered the press room for the first briefing that morning. She spied Danny Concannon in the third row of seats, his pen poised to write.C.J. began the press conference and as she spoke, the reporters pens scribbled quickly, trying to catch everything that C.J. said."And finally," C.J. paused. "First Lady Abigail Bartlet is to be travelling today to Europe on Air Force One for her annual visit to France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. She will be speaking on the issue of Child Labor. Accompanying the First Lady are Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, Mallory O'Brien, daughter of Leo McGarry and Deputy Communications Director Samuel Seaborn. Mr. McGarry will be tending to business in Europe. They will be returning in eight days.Okay, I'll take a few questions.....Danny?"

 

Mrs. Landingham opened the door to the Oval Office.

"Mr. President? The First Lady would like to say good-bye. She is heading for the airport right now." Mrs. Landingham reported.

"Yeah, thanks Mrs. Landingham." Jed followed her out into the hall where Abbey stood with Leo.

"Are you going to be okay here without me for eight whole days?" joked Abbey, as she enveloped Jed in a huge hug.

"Absolutely not." Jed replied with a smile and a kiss for his wife. "Enjoy the trip, Abbey. Don't work yourself too hard." The President turned to Leo. "Leo, take care of Abbey for me and watch out for Sam...." He hugged his best friend.

"Yes, Mr. President.I know the drill." Leo replied.

"I know you do. Take care of her."

"Abbey will be fine." Leo said. "I'll see you in eight days, Mr.President."

 

"Yes. EIGHT days. Not eight and a half, nine, ten....EIGHT." Jed said laughing. He watched as Leo and four secret service agents escorted his wife out of the West Wing and into a waiting car. Sam and Mallory were already waiting.

"Jed!" Abbey called."I tried to call Zoey this morning to say good-bye but I think she must still have been sleeping. Tell her I love her and I'll call her from Paris. I love you."

"I will. I love you too, Abbey."

 

 

The President retired to the residence around ten o'clock that night. It had been a long day and a full night's sleep was in the plan. Abbey must be getting close to Greenland now Jed thought, walking in silence to the residence accompanied by several bodyguards. Abbey's plane was supposed to have taken off around seven o'clock. Jed found himself wishing he was with his wife. After all, Leo could run the country....the President sighed. All he wanted to do was sleep. He had forgotten to call Zoey.I'll do it in the morning.

Abbey Bartlet scanned the airplane with tired eyes. It was quiet. She sat in a large comfortable seat, Leo was to her right and Sam and Mallory not too far away. Several members of the press who were making the trip slept peacefully in their own section and many secret service agents and bodyguards were talking quietly in the back of the plane or in other locations. Abbey's press secretary was in the bathroom..she had been sick since they took off. Abbey had given her something to calm her stomach but it didn't seem to be working. It was nearly eleven, Abbey closed her eyes, the sound of the powerful engines lulling her to sleep.

Mallory rested her head on Sam's shoulder. She sighed with content. It was the perfect arrangement. Mallory was glad that Sam was making the trip. Europe is so romantic this time of year. Mallory thought with a smile.

 

"I can't believe we finally get to go away together." Sam said softly.

 

"It's wonderful." Mallory replied. "Dad was nervous when he heard that you were coming."

 

Sam laughed. "I'm sure he was. It's probably not a good thing that Leo has the power to fire me."

"You better not screw up" Mallory replied. She looked up at her father who slept comfortably in the seat next to Abbey. "Anyways, do you I actually think I would let that happen?"

"They're fast asleep." Sam pointed out. He readjusted his position in the seat.

"I think Abbey tried to set this up." Mallory whispered.

"Really? The First Lady?" Sam smiled. He thought about it for a moment and realized that it was logical. " Now that I think about it, it does make sense. She did mention how romantic Europe is this season." Sam admitted.

"Yeah, I'm sure she did. Abbey is set on getting us together, you know."

"Well, she doesn't have to worry much." Sam began, kissing Mallory gently. "We seem to be doing pretty well without her help...." Mallory felt herself move closer to Sam.

"I've known Abbey my whole life, she's practically part of the family....trust me Sam....she's had more to do with 'us' than you think." Mallory smiled. She closed her eyes.

"Well then, my thanks to Dr. Bartlet" said Sam. He rested his chin on Mallory's head and drifted off.

 

It was a rare occasion, not having the President on Air Force One. One would think things would be more secure and less nerve wracking. You would think that there would be much less of a chance of terrorists trying to take over the plane, trying to get the President to meet their impossible demands. The crew on Air Force One that night felt exactly that way. The agents and bodyguards were not excusing the possibility but remained only on a slight alert. It was supposed to be a calm flight....a safe and relaxing flight for all aboard.

So later that night, when the first lady opened her eyes to find a gun pointed at her head, her world started to fall apart around her. Abbey found herself initially in a state of shock but she seemed to come out of it quickly as everything around gradually became clear. Leo, Sam and Mallory were horrified when they realized what was happening. Abbey's face paled. She stayed perfectly still, not even daring to look at the man with the gun. Sam however, immediately took action.

"Dr. Bartlet!" Sam yelled, immediately trying to force the weapon out of the hands of the terrorist.The terrorist threw Sam to the floor violently. He hit his head on the seats as he fell, tumbling to the floor between seats. He rolled part way into the conference room.

"Sam!" Mallory yelled, she tried to run to his aid but Leo held her back, his gaze not leaving Abbey's terrified face. He finally broke the gaze long enough to shove Mallory behind him in effort to protect her. He tried to reach out to Abbey at the same time. Abbey sat perfectly still, fear parlyzing every part of her body and tears welling up in her eyes. She dared to look up at the man who was pointing the gun at her. He was a Secret Service Agent, or at least, he was supposed to have been one. This is impossible! How did they get on the plane? Her mind was jumbled. She could barely think at all.

"Hello there, Mrs. Bartlet," the man said in an evil tone. He pulled Abbey up into a standing position as the real secret service agents rushed up to her rescue. Two of the men immediately tried to take down the terrorist, but the other two were obviously accomplices of the man who was trying to hijack them and they pulled out their guns and shot the two real agents. It was a scene from a movie unfolding before their very eyes.

"Oh my God.." Abbey began. She saw the two men go down, not too far from where Sam lay motionless. Abbey tried to tear herself away from the man who held her tightly against her will. She wanted to run to Sam who was already a victim, to Leo who was desperately trying to protect his daughter and to Mallory who was as white as a ghost. She wanted to comfort them but she couldn't break away. "Let go of me!" she yelled,even though she knew that it wouldn't do any good at all. "Let go of me damnit." The gun was still pointed to her head....It all happened so fast.

Leo charged up after Abbey's attacker. "What the hell do you want!?" he demanded, taking Abbey's arm. "That's the First Lady of the United States, I suggest you put the gun down." Leo yelled furiously. Abbey had never seen him so angry in her life. She remained powerless and terrified, but she suddenly felt a strange sort of calm....

Mallory closed her eyes, she couldn't bear the sight. She couldn't see Abbey with a gun pointed at her head....it just wasn't possible. Or was it? This can't be real. Oh God, help us please....Mallory thought, She hovered behind a row of seats, just out of Sam's reach. Mallory could see the rest of the passengers being directed by the two accomplices into seats nearby at gunpoint. Most were members of the press who followed the directions of the terrorists nervously. Abbey's press secretary sat in floods of tears. Abbey noticed her from the corner of her eye. When everyone was gathered together, the man who held Abbey at gunpoint finally began to talk.

"Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce myself," he began in an evil tone. Abbey cringed. "I'm Rick Richards, and I am now in control of this plane so I suggest you do as I say or there will be severe consequences." He kept the intoduction short and by no means sweet.

Just then, he flung Abbey to the side. Leo caught her and they shared a comforting hug before Abbey discretely made her way over to Sam, who remained unconscious. Leo glanced over at Sam, worried about the younger man's condition.

"What do you want damnit!" Leo repeated, protecting his daughter by shielding her from the terrorists' view.

"You'll see." Richards replied with an evil grin. "Actually, if you all cooperate none of you will be harmed," he said. "But also, you all better hope to God the President is in the cooperating mood because if my demands aren't met, you all pay the price." His demands....

Leo bowed his head and for a brief moment felt the urge to laugh sarcastically.This is exactly how it happens in the movies, he thought. Demands! How dare you?

"Mr. McGarry, do you find this amusing?" Richards asked."Cause if you do, we can make it a whole lot more fun.." he said strictly.

"No, Richards, I don't." Leo said seriously. The look on his face clearly said 'don't-mess-with-me'. "I was just thinking how similar this situation is to many movies I've seen. You certainly aren't creative Mr.Richards." Leo was letting his anger show. "Now tell us what you want."

"I want to speak with the President. NOW." He turned and walked briskly to the cockpit, intrusting the passengers, now his hostages, to his two accomplices. Leo prayed that the man didn't go and kill the pilots. Leo turned to Abbey. Tears were openly flowing down her cheeks but she kept herself busy, attending to Sam. The two secret service agents were dead. Abbey could do nothing to help them. Her medical expertise wasn't enough to save the two men. She just prayed that there were more agents on the plane.....somewhere.

"Abbey...." Leo started to say, kneeling down next to her. He took her into his arms, letting her cry. Despite her tears, Abbey was remaining strong. She knew she had to be, for everyone. She wanted desperately to help, to protect, but she had a feeling that it wasn't going to work that way. She took a breath and tried not to think about what was really happening. It was all a dream....a nightmare. But it wasn't. It was real. Deal with it, thought Abbey. You can handle this, she told herself. Abbey looked up at Leo.

"It's okay, Leo. We're going to be okay. We're going to get through this." Abbey said quietly. She looked over at Mallory's pale face. "Mal, sweetie, come here." Abbey's voice shook but Mallory obeyed her and soon found herself enveloped in a comforting hug with the First Lady of the United States, her dear friend, Abbey Bartlet. Mallory was concerned when she got a closer look at Sam.

 

"How's Sam?" Mallory asked weakly. Abbey cleared her throat and returned her attention to Sam.

"I think he has a concussion..we need to put pressure on that head wound." Suddenly, Abbey was all business, putting her sentiments aside. They would have to wait. Abbey looked up at the two other men with guns, they were watching them closely but didn't seem as threatening as Richards. Abbey carefully lifted Sam's head into her lap. "Mal," she said breathlessly. "Please pass me those napkins." Abbey pointed to the dinner tray from long ago. Mallory passed them to her. Abbey pressed them tightly to the deep cut on Sam's forehead. "He's going to be fine as long as we keep the blood flow under control. He'll need stitches."

Mallory sighed. She sat back, leaning against her father, who wrapped his arms around her. "My God...."

"What do you think Richards wants, Leo?" Abbey whispered. Leo shook his head.

"I don't know Abbey. We'll find out, I'm sure." He gave Abbey's free hand a squeeze. Abbey looked down at Sam. He looked so pale but so peaceful, not aware of anything that was going on. She placed a hand to Sam's cheek.

"He's pretty cold," Abbey said to Leo. "We need to cover him up, Leo, put your jacket over him..Mallory,I need you to elevate his feet, please." Both Leo and Mallory did as they were told. Abbey took a deep breath.Must stay strong....

Abbey checked Sam's eyes. He seemed to be okay. "It's okay Sam, you're alright,you're going to be fine....we all are...." she whispered, partly for Sam's benefit and partly for her own. Mallory looked nervous.

"What can I do?" she asked quietly.

Abbey tried to smile. "Just sit here with him. He knows you're here."

Mallory nodded. "Okay."

Abbey and Leo looked at eachother, their faces each expressing the anxiety they both felt. They both knew that it would be a long night ahead. Abbey's thoughts were mostly of Jed. She was worried about him. She didn't want him to panic.

"How's he going to handle this?" Abbey asked, her voice shaking.

"Who, Jed?"

 

"Yeah."

Leo looked at Abbey Bartlet. "He'll be fine. He'll know what to do."

June 29th

Jed Bartlet barely heard his bedroom door open. His was aware of rapid footsteps as they approached his bed. "Abbey," he mumbled. "I thought you were supposed to be in Paris....."

"Mr. President?"

"Oh, Abbey....you don't have to call me-" Jed stopped mid-sentence.

He opened his eyes to find himself staring into the tired and grim looking face of the normally beautiful and vibrant C.J. Cregg.

"Mr. President," said C.J. "You need to get up."

" At one in the morning?"

"Yes, sir," replied C.J. Her serious tone made the President's chest tighten in immediate worry.

"What is it, C.J.?"

C.J. looked down at her feet which must have been difficult to see in the darkened bedroom. She dropped her usual professional facade and sat down next to Jed. She turned towards him.

"Mr.President, Air Force One has been hijacked."

 

The Situation room was buzzing with activity. Josh Lyman bustled around frantically, on his heels was a concerned Donna Moss.

"Toby! He's still on the line?" Josh asked nervously. Toby nodded, listening on a headset. The Secret Service crowded the room, they had the hijacker, Rick Richards on the line. "Keep him on the line!"

"Josh, the President is on his way over from the residence," said Margaret, Leo's secretary. She was obviously very worried about her boss. Josh tried to give her a reassuring smile but it was hard because he didn't feel very reassured himself.

"How did he take the news?"

"I don't know," replied Margaret. "C.J. didn't give me any details." She hurried off.

"I can't believe this is happening, Josh. I just can't" spoke up Charlie, shaking his head. "It's terrible."

"I know," said Josh quietly. "Does Zoey know?"

"I don't believe so."

"She should be told."

"Yes," agreed Charlie.

"The President is on his way over-"

"The President doesn't need that on his hands." interrupted Charlie.He took a breath. "I'll call her. Gina can bring her here."

"Good, Charlie....thanks." Josh looked up to see the President come in. He looked grim, thoughts of Abbey and his best friends obviously filled his mind.

"Hello, Mr. President.."

"Mr. President."

"Morning Mr. President."

"Mr. President...."

"What does this guy want?" Jed asked, taking a seat.

"We don't know yet sir." Toby admitted.

"He wants to speak directly to you," said Josh.

The President swallowed hard. "Well get him on the line"

"He's already there sir." Toby pushed the phone towards Jed. Jed picked up the phone, looked around the room and felt the support of the Senior Staff. He took a deep breath.

"This is the President of the United States," he said into the receiver.

 

 

When Rick Richards returned to the back of the plane, he was accompanied by the two pilots who were obviously shaken.

"I take it we're flying on auto-pilot" Leo said sarcastically. Richards ignored his comment and pushed the two pilots out infront of him.

"The president has not agreed to my terms...." Richards announced. he was about to continue when someone from the press group stood.

"WHAT are your demands, you bastard.." The man immediately regretted saying what he had. He received a hard blow to the stomach and fell back into his seat. Abbey closed her eyes briefly, unable to watch.

"In case you haven't noticed, we've switched directions. We're no longer enroute to Europe" Richards said condescendingly. "From this point on, we are flying to South America."

"What the hell is in South America?" Leo muttered.

"A close friend of mine. He's in prison there for a mass murder he did not commit, well, that he did not commit alone. I want him released and the charges dropped. I've demanded an awaiting airplane in Argentina, and you will not hear from us again."

"This really is right out of a movie." Leo said disgustedly. "This isn't the way to get what you want you unintelligent ass. The President is far too smart....he'll never agree to your terms!"

"Well, he will if the lives of his wife and best friend are on the line." Richards replied, loading up a second gun.

"Oh, you have done your research." muttered Abbey sarcastically, no longer backing away from the man who was threatening them. Rick Richards obviously knew exactly who they all were.

"He's using us to get to the President," Leo concluded. "Well, I'll give you a point there. He's a big family man..a kind man..an intellectual man..you've certainly nailed him where it will hurt the most." Leo shouted bitterly.

Mallory swallowed hard and then spoke up. "That's precisely what he wanted, isn't it Dad?"

"It certainly is". Leo shook with anger.

Richards smirked "Well, you three seem to be right on the money tonight. Could your other friend be as smart as all of you?" The terrorist's voice was absolutely dripping with sarcasm as he gestured towards Sam who still lay motionless.

"Shut-up. Just shut-up-" Abbey began. She was stopped by Leo.

"Abbey." He warned. "Let's let that one go."

"And how long did it take you to plan this whole attack out?" continued the First Lady, summoning as much courage as she could and pulling away from Leo.

"I believe that's none of your business, Mrs. Bartlet." Richards said. He looked around the cabin slowly.

Mallory couldn't stand it anymore. "The President will never agree to your terms and crap conditions out of force!" she yelled, standing up. Richards pointed the gun towards her and she sat down quickly.

"You, my dear, better watch what you say" Richards threatened. Abbey became enraged.

"Don't you dare speak to her again in that manner, in fact, don't speak to her at all you-" Abbey stopped herself. She couldn't believe she actually had found the nerve to stand up to Richards. This was how she usually acted....she could stand up for herself....now she would do it and it would really matter.

"Dr. Bartlet, I suggest you keep your mouth shut," was Richards' stiff reply. "The President will do what I say if he knows the lives of his wife and three of his best friends are in peril...." Richards repeated, angrier now.

Abbey smirked. "As Leo said before, Jed Bartlet is a lot smarter than you think, Mr.Richards. I believe you'll understand that in a few hours."

"We'll see, Dr. Bartlet, we'll see." Richards said, turning and heading back towards the cockpit, dragging one of the pilots behind him.

 

Once Richards was out of sight,Abbey tried to calm down and she approached the member of the press who had been struck in the stomach. She put a hand on the man's back.

"Are you okay?"

"Yes, thank-you Mrs. Bartlet," the young man replied.

"Okay." Abbey looked at the small press team huddled together. There were about seven of them, all terrified. "How are you guys holding up?" she asked quietly.

"We're okay, Ma'am." a middle-aged woman replied.

"I'm, uh...I'm scared," admitted Abbey's press secretary.

The looks of everyone else in that group said that they were scared too. Abbey gave them an almost reassuring smile and returned to Sam's side. She put Sam's head on her lap once again. Soon after, his eyes fluttered open. He found himself staring up at a very worried Abbey and a shocked Mallory.

"Sam?" said Abbey softly. "Do you know where you are?"

Sam groaned. "Unfortunately." Abbey managed a small smile. Mallory clasped Sam's hand tightly.

"Listen, Sam. I'm pretty sure you have a concussion so you need to take it easy."

"I can't. I'm going to kill that guy-"

"Sam," Mallory began. "Listen to Abbey."

"Mrs. Bartlet, I won't let him do this to you....to us." Sam vowed.

"There's nothing you can do Sam, just try to take it easy.." Abbey replied. Sam tried to sit up but a wave of dizziness forced him back down. "See?"

"Mrs. Bartlet-"

"Sam, please call me Abbey."

"Okay, Mrs. Bartlet."

"Really, you can call me Abbey....we're in the worst situation imaginable, I'd say we're closer than ever....you can call me Abbey. I call you Sam....Samuel Norman...." She sighed and smiled, desperate to make the situation even a little bit lighter.

"Okay, Abbey." Sam said. Abbey didn't let him finish what he was going to say. She just crawled out from under him and let Mallory take her place. Mallory looked down affectionately at Sam. Sam noticed that she looked terrified. She stared into her face, her eyes serious.

"I was so worried." Mallory admitted. Sam smiled up at her.

"Ah, what's there to worry about really?" he tried to joke. He kissed her cheek.

"We're probably going to die so I may as well say it." Mallory began, tears stinging her eyes.

"What?"

It was time for the confession. "I love you, Sam. I have since the first day we met."

Sam smiled. "Me too Mal, me too. I love you more than anything...." They shared a kiss and prayed that it wouldn't be their last.

 

 

Jed Bartlet looked out the window of the Oval Office. It had started to rain, steadily. Jed could think of nothing but his wife. He prayed that she was okay and that Leo, Sam and Mallory were all safe. Abbey was strong, he knew. She would protect them....Oh God, Abbey, I love you....I'll get you down, bring you home.

Zoey came into the office, weeping quietly. Charlie held onto her, steadying her as she walked towards her Father.

"Dad?"

"Oh Zoey, sweetie, come here" Jed felt the tears come to his eyes then. The sight of his distraught daughter was more than he could handle.

"Is Mom okay? Leo? Are they? Dad, please tell me the truth...." Zoey begged.

Jed looked at his daughter. "I don't know honey, but your Mom is so strong, you know that. She's stronger than me sometimes. She's okay....I know that she is. She never gives up and she'd give that guy such a hard time....while I have to figure out a way to get this hijacker to surrender.."

"Oh God,"said Zoey. "Has he hurt anyone?"

Jed shook his head. "I don't know for sure. I was only able to speak to him once..we're trying to get a signal from the plane, everything will be okay, Zoey." Jed tried to encourage her. She just continued to weep in his arms. Jed knew that if he allowed himself to cry again, the tears would never stop.

"Your mom told me to tell you that she loves you. That's what she told me before she left...."

"I wish I could have told her...." Zoey cried in her fathers arms.

 

Abbey sat on the floor of the airplane, leaning against the wall. She had her arm around Mallory, trying to be of some comfort to the young woman. Abbey looked at her sadly.

"Mal."

"Yes?" came the short reply.

"How are you doing?" Abbey took Mallory's hand into hers.

Mallory shook her head. "I honestly don't know, Abbey," she said, shaking her head. "It's all so unreal." A tear rolled down her cheek but she wiped it away quickly and glanced up at Sam, who sat with Leo, their faces showing no signs of emotion. Mallory smiled sadly. "I told him I loved him, Abbey."

Abbey, who normally would have been thrilled and ecstatic at this news, nodded silently and smiled weakly. "What did he say?" she whispered.

"He said what I thought he would." Mallory smiled then, for real. Suddenly,she began to cry.

Abbey drew Mallory towards her and hugged her. "He loves you so much.You two are going to have such a wonderful life together.." Abbey was crying too, understanding how defeated Mallory must feel, to find out just how much she was in love and know at the same time that there was a fifty percent chance they wouldn't make it through to the next day. To Mallory, Abbey's words were encouraging.

"How can you be so confident, Abbey?" Mallory wept.

"I'm not," she admitted. "I just believe that it's not all going to end today, or tommorow, or day after that. It's just faith, Mal..and I know you have a lot of that."

"Thank God you're here Abbey." Mallory rested her head on the First Lady's shoulder.

"Things happen, Mal, we'll deal with this. We'll get through it. I promise." Abbey held Mallory while she cried.

Sam's head was killing him. He could feel the bump. Abbey had given him a painkiller but it was starting to wear off. Leo studied his hands in the seat beside Sam. Everyone looked up immediately when Rick Richards stormed towards them. His accomplices, who's names were Garod Ray and Carl Brummett as the passengers had learned, followed Richards, armed with guns. No surprises there.Richards' eyes darted around the cabin, looking for the First Lady. He grabbed her arm and yanked her up as she tried to pull away from him. Leo stood immediately in concern for Abbey. Abbey nodded to him that she was okay.

"Let's move it, Mrs. Bartlet!" he commanded. She gritted her teeth and obeyed.

Mallory still remained on the floor, crying. Sam immediately moved over to her, gathering her into his arms.

"Please," begged Mallory. "Leave her alone.."

Richards gave her a nasty look. "You just keep your mouth shut over there, I'm starting to find you to be quite a nuissance." Mallory didn't say another word, she just watched Richards pull Abbey towards the cockpit, her father not too far behind.

 

Jed paced the floor nervously. The Hijacker was in contact with them again and Jed prayed that he would be able to reason with a man he so disliked. He hated Richards for what he was doing to his wife and best friends, and hate is a very strong word. Jed picked up the phone.

"Richards!" he said into the receiver angrily.

Richards smirked on the other end. "Why Mr. President, do I sense a little anger?"

The President tried to control his temper. "Mr. Richards. I want to speak with my wife." He demanded calmly.

"But of course, Mr. President." Jed jumped in surprise and then waited anxiously to hear Abbey's voice.

Abbey's heart soared. "Jed?!"

"Abbey...." Jed sighed in relief. "Oh God Abbey, you're okay. Thank God."

"I'm okay, Jed. We all are.....for now."

"I'll get you down, honey, I-" Jed was cut off as Richards ripped the headset away from Abbey.

"See Mr. President? Your dear wife is fine-for the moment." Richards said in a sickly sweet tone. "Now, if you have arranged what I have asked, we'll land this plane."

"No. Richards. We have not arranged anything. You will land that plane immediately anyway." Jed demanded.

Richards was infuriated. He threw Abbey across the cockpit. Jed could hear everything.

"Abbey! Richards, don't you dare even touch-"

"You did not cooperate, Bartlet! Someone will now pay the price for your stupidity."

"Richards!"

Jed could hear Abbey in the background.

"You're so unimaginably stupid," Jed could hear her say, her tone searing through his body, the fear in her voice shattering his heart. Abbey continued. "The President of the United States will never do anything out of force. He's one of the most powerful men in the world and you have the nerve to do this? You cannot bring a good man down. The good always win, haven't you learned? He will not bow down to someone as low to the ground as you. You may have trapped us high in the sky but you'll always be closer to the ground than any other man in the Nation. You are a sorry excuse for human being..and you will pay." Abbey would have continued then if Jed hadn't exploded over the intercom.

"I second every single word my wife just said. Only I would enjoy adding a few four letter words."

"You have an hour, Mr. President, to make the arrangements in Argentina. If you do not, you'll never see your wife, or anybody else on this plane again."

"Well at least that included yourself. I certainly don't want to see you again," Abbey muttered.

"One hour, Mr. President.....and the clock is ticking."

"Don't you dare give him what he wants, Jed!" screamed Abbey just before Richards cut off the link with the ground. He shoved Abbey into the wall.

"You're just lucky I haven't done anything yet," he threatened.

"Yet?!" Abbey yelled. "You've already caused more pain than anyone could imagine."

"Well, then....it's going to get worse, isn't it?"

"You'll pay.....one way or another. You can't win here, Richards....you can't."

"Watch me." Richards said, he cornered Abbey into a wall. "You're lucky you know. If you weren't the First Lady and a valuable hostage, I would have dealt with you long ago. You've got one hell of a mouth on you." He stormed away leaving a shaken Abbey Bartlet to let his words sink in.

 

Josh, Toby, Donna, C.J., Charlie and Mrs. Landingham stood around the President silently. They didn't dare utter a word.

"Josh, I need you to get me someone on the phone," Jed finally said.

"In Argentina?"

"Yes."

"Certainly, Mr. President." Josh left the room quickly.

Toby looked at Jed. "You're giving him what he wants?" The President took a moment of silence and then spoke.

"Abbey's up there, Toby. The woman I love the most in the whole world is in that man's hands. Leo, Sam and Mallory too." Jed looked at the Senior Staff. He stopped and gazed at C.J. who had lost all composure and was now sobbing. He approached her. "She....she's my world. Abbey.....God....It's sad when it comes down to your country or your family.....this is almost like that.....it's going to get worse." he stated gravely. Jed heard someone crying and looked around, feeling the need to comfort them. It was C.J. Cregg, normally a strong person and the sight of her, reduced to tears was almost too much.

"I....I just can't bear the....the thought of it, Sir." C.J. cried. Jed hugged her and let her cry.

"I know....I know." Jed said.

"I have an hour to figure this out," He began, his voice soft. "I need your help, more than I ever have." Jed looked up, still hugging C.J., to see everyone in the room nod.

"Anything you need, Mr. President," Charlie told him.

"Thank-you."

 

"Josh?" asked C.J. , popping her head into her friend's office. "Any luck yet?" She blew her nose and wiped away a fresh tear.

"Still working on it." He dialed another number. C.J. patted him on the back and proceeded down the hall. She stopped when she saw Zoey sitting next to the Situation room, her head buried in her hands.

"Zoey?" the girl looked up, her eyes as red as C.J.'s.

"Hi, C.J."

"How you doing?" C.J. took a seat next to her.

She shook her head. "I'm so scared. Charlie was here for awhile but Dad called that little meeting and well, I just lost it when he left."

"Zoey, I really don't know what to say," admitted C.J. "I can't even imagine what you must be going through." She sat down.

"I'm numb" Zoey said. "It's like it's just a dream, and every so often I try to wake up and I can't. That's something that really scares me."

"It's hard to just wait." C.J. pointed out. "I feel so helpless, how about you?"

"Yeah. Exactly."

"Well, at least I can go and do my Press briefing. I'm on my way there, now. Would like to sit in on the briefing? So you're not alone?"

Zoey considered it but decided to stay where she was. "Thanks for the offer, C.J., I really appreciate it but Charlie said he would be back, I'll wait for him."

"Okay. If you want to talk later, I'll be here."

Zoey nodded her thanks and noticing that C.J. looked like she needed someone to talk to, Zoey said, "I'll be here too." C.J. smiled gratefully and proceeded on her way to the briefing.

 

 

When Richards, followed by Abbey, returned to where Leo, Sam and Mallory sat, it was obvious that things were about to get worse. Richards was now enraged. The press team noticed it too. Richards let Abbey go to Leo's side and she breathed a temporary sigh of relief. A moment later, he reached into his coat and pulled out his gun and fired several times around the cabin causing a terrifying reaction. Abbey held tightly to Leo as he scrambled to find some cover from the shots. Sam tried to run across the aisle towards Mallory and Richards, for the first time, took aim at a passenger. Unfortunately it was Sam. Mallory saw it first. She moved out into the aisle to try to grab him and pull him towards her but it all happened too fast. Abbey saw it in slow motion: Mallory jumping out to grab Sam's arm, she somehow got twisted in front of him and as the shot was fired, the two of them fell into the seat....but they didn't fall fast enough.

Richards, looked satisfied with himself, assuming he had hit Sam and turned around and headed up to the cockpit to harass the pilots, but he turned around when he saw Sam move from under Mallory. He shook his head and slammed his gun against the wall.

Mallory was draped over Sam awkwardly. Sam looked at her, she looked so scared.

"It's okay, Mal, we're fine....you saved my life," he said quietly. She started to shake. Her face paled.

"Mal?" Sam focused on her eyes. Something was not right. He pulled his arm out from under Mallory to comfort her, but when he brought his hand up, there was blood on it. He knew it wasn't his. He was shocked.

"Oh my God, Mallory!" Leo yelled.

Abbey felt sick. She rushed towards Sam, Leo close on her heels. She knelt down quickly and gently rolled Mallory off of Sam and onto the floor. The blood was overwhelming and Mallory seemed dimly aware that it was her own. Abbey's doctor mode took over. The bullet had hit Mallory in the stomach. As Leo stood in shock and Sam staggered helplessly to his feet, Abbey immediately applied pressure to the wound, as much as she could.

"Mal? Mal?" Abbey said, trying to get Mallory to focus on her.

"Ab..Abbey.." Mallory said weakly. "Is...is...it Bad?" Leo couldn't watch. He kneeled on the floor and bowed his head. He couldn't believe what was happening. Sam bent down next to Abbey, ready to help in any way. He was still in shock.

Abbey's hands were already red. Richards fired another shot that hit the wall of the bathroom. Everyone turned to him.

"Stop it!" Abbey yelled,standing suddenly.

Richards shook his head angrily. "Don't touch her." He pointed the gun in their direction. "Don't you touch her."

Abbey swallowed hard. "Mr. Richards, if I don't help her, she'll die. You don't really want that to happen, do you?" It took all of Abbey's strength to keep herself together.

Richards laughed. "I could care less, Mrs. Bartlet."

"You're a sick man," said Leo, his voice wavering. "That's my only daughter lying there and I will not sit here and watch her die, so you're going to let Abbey treat her." Leo was more determined than ever.

"No.Mr. McGarry. I will not.She's just another victim....just one more on the list.One more name to appear in the headlines."

Leo tried to attack Richards but Sam held him back.

"It's not going to help, Leo." Sam told him.

Abbey stood in the aisle, her hands covered in blood. She stared down at Mallory,who was white and suffering in severe pain. Her face pleaded for help, her eyes focusing on Abbey. She turned back to Richards.

"This young woman needs to be treated NOW, Mr. Richards,she did nothing to hurt you and does not deserve this. I know you don't like to show it, but I know you have some feelings and a heart,as cold as it may be.I care a lot for this girl and there is no way in hell I'm going to let her die! Let me help her....please....redeem yourself just a little.." Abbey pleaded.

To everyone's surprise, Richards nodded. "Okay, Mrs. Bartlet.It's going to be a waste of your time and energy but go ahead. If she dies now than she gets out pretty easy. Let her hang on there Mrs. Bartlet. You'll regret it." Richards stalked off then as Abbey thanked God that Richards had relented. She took her place next to Mallory.

"Sam, I want you to find me the first aid kit, we should have a good one on here somewhere. Fast." Sam took off immediately. Mallory reached for Abbey's hand.

"Abbey..tell...tell me how ba..bad it is."

Abbey looked down at Mallory and even in the state she was in, Mallory could tell how scared Abbey was.

"It..it's o.okay, Ab..Abbey...." Mallory said, her breathing ragged.

"Mal, I'm going to be honest with you. It is pretty bad," Abbey finally admitted. "You were shot in the stomache and the bullet is still in there..that's dangerous." She swallowed hard.

Mallory's eyes widened "....I don't want to..to die."

 

Abbey squeezed Mallory's hand. "You're not going to. I promise. I won't let it happen. You know me, when I say something, I mean it!" Abbey laughed a little, trying once again to lighten the situation as much as possible.

Mallory smiled and closed her eyes. She was so tired.

"No Mal, I need you to stay awake." Abbey urged. "Mal, open your eyes for me."

"Tired." Mallory said. The pain was too much for her.

"I want you to open your eyes, Mallory." Abbey said sternly this time. Mallory forced them open, knowing that Abbey meant business.

"Good girl," Abbey said. She turned to Leo. "Leo, I need you to keep pressure on the wound." Leo immediately took Abbey's place. She moved up to Mallory's head and put a hand to her cheek.

"How's the pain?" she asked, studying Mallory's eyes, as she felt for the pulse in Mallory's neck.

"I can't feel anything..any..any more, Abbey."

"Okay, just relax for me."

Mallory nodded. "Okay."

Abbey took her free hand and squeezed Mallory's hand gently.

"Try to take deep breaths, you need to stay calm.." Abbey encouraged. Mallory slowly closed her eyes.

"Mallory!" Abbey gently tapped Mallory's cheek. "Open your eyes." Mallory didn't respond. "Damn!"

"What does that mean, Abbey?" Leo asked in a small voice. He still had his hands pressed tightly to the wound.

"It's better if she's conscious, Leo," replied Abbey,wiping a tear from her eye. "God, how could this have happened?"

Leo gazed at his daughter and then glanced at Abbey who was fighting back tears.

"Abbey?" Leo would have comforted her then but he didn't dare remove his hands from Mallory's stomach.

"I'm sorry, Leo. I'm the one who encouraged all of this. I wanted her to come, I wanted Sam to come..I wanted you to come." Abbey's tears were more frequent now.

"No, Abbey. This is NOT your fault. Shhhh, Abbey, don't lose it now, Mallory needs you. More than ever."

A minute later, Sam returned with the first aid kit. Abbey smiled despite her tears. The first aid kit that Sam had located was huge. She was thankful for that.

"Thank-you, Sam. That should have everything."

"Uh, yeah. No problem, Abbey." Sam was transfixed on Mallory, now completely unaware of what was going on.

He knelt down next to her as Abbey dug her way through the contents of the kit. She threw things out onto the seat rapidly. Gloves, bandages, syringes, stethescope, suture kit..it sailed past a dazed Leo. Abbey drew Leo's hands away and quickly applied a large bandage to slow the bleeding.

"Okay, Leo, why don't you let Sam take over there?" Abbey asked gently. He saw that her best friend was still in shock. Sam took his place without hesitation. Abbey threw the stethescope around her neck as she pulled on a pair of latex gloves. She handed Sam a pair as well. She pulled off her navy suit jacket and tossed it to Sam who attempted to cover Mallory up so she would stay warm. Abbey undid the top buttons on Mallory's now ravaged shirt and placed the end of the stethescope to her chest. She listened intently. This is not good. Abbey's heart sank. Mallory's condition was critical.

 

Leo excused himself quietly and walked blankly to the bathroom, ignoring the stares of the other two "bad guys". He entered, shut the door and collapsed to the floor, his nerves finally getting the best of him. If only I had my cell phone..would it work from here, anyway? he asked himself. He stood up. Sam had his cell phone. Leo quickly made his way back and discreetly asked Sam where his cell phone was located. Leo retrieved it and headed back to the bathroom, getting an even stranger stare from the two men.

He dialed in the number for his office, hoping that his secretary, Margaret, would pick up.

Margaret picked up the phone on the second ring.

"Leo McGarry's office" she said slowly.

"Margaret."

"Oh my God! Leo!"

"Margaret, get me the President, fast."

"Okay. Are,are you okay?" Margaret asked nervously.

"Yes. I appreciate your concern, Margaret but I need to speak with the President immediately."

Margaret hurried off and arrived back to the phone in a mere twenty seconds.

"I'll put you through, Leo."

"Thanks, Margaret." Leo knew that his devoted secretary wanted to say more but he thanked God that she was able to contain herself. He made a mental note to buy her some flowers if he ever got off of Air Force One.

"Leo!" Jed said, his voice flooding with relief.

"Mr. President."

"Leo. Are you okay? Is Abbey okay? Sam? Mal?" The President's words were quick.

"Jed...."

"What happened?" Jed was immediately alarmed at the tone of his best friend's voice.

"Mallory was shot."

Jed leaned against his desk for support. "How bad is it?"

"Abbey said that it's critical," Leo told him slowly. Memories of the shooting at Newseum invaded Jed's mind.

"How are you holding up?" he asked slowly.

"I..I don't know, Mr. President."

"Hang in there, Leo. Mallory will be okay. You've got Abbey up there. You know she knows her stuff." Jed tried to comfort his best friend but the words were stuck. He wanted to cry, to yell, to hit something, or someone in particular. He wished he could protect his wife and friends but the harsh reality was that he could not.

 

 

Richards looked at his watch as he sat in the cockpit making sure the pilots did as they were told. A half an hour to go....

 

Abbey and Sam moved Mallory gently and with great difficulty to couch near the office that Jed usually occupied when flying. Mallory was still unconscious and Sam and Abbey never left her side. Leo was still on the phone with Jed. When he returned, Abbey and Sam looked up at him with hopeful faces. Leo just shrugged, not wanting to hint anything to the hijackers.

Leo sat down at the end of the couch and stared at his daughter.

"What do you think, Abbey?"

"It's hard to tell. One things for sure though, we have to get her down soon. She hasn't got much time."

Sam spoke up,"We might not have that much time." Leo nodded his silent response.

Abbey pulled a chair closer to Mallory. She leaned over and checked her breathing. "She's having more difficulty breathing. Sam, can you do me a favor?"

"Anything."

"There should be oxygen masks stored in an overhead compartment somewhere. She needs oxygen, it's getting worse," she said quietly.

"Of course. What about Richards?" asked Sam, getting to his feet.

"Try to avoid him," said Leo. "If you can't-" Sam interrupted then.

"I'll avoid him, don't worry."

As much as Abbey wanted to remain calm, their situation, especially Mallory's, was worsening. The bullet had to come out, Mallory needed surgery, she needed to be at a hospital.

"God I wish I could do more, Leo" Abbey breathed.

"You're doing great. Mallory wouldn't be alive right now without you," Leo said gratefully. He kissed his daughter's hand and then pulled Abbey closer to him and squeezed her shoulder.

Abbey nodded, "We'll get her through this, I swear. I'm not going to let either of you down. I didn't go through endless years of medical school for this not to have a happy ending." Determination often seemed like Abigail Bartlet's middle name.

Sam came back a few seconds later with a small oxygen tank and mask. Abbey gave him her thanks and placed the mask over Mallory's mouth and nose. She started the oxygen flow, praying that it would make some significant difference in Mallory's condition.

 

 

C.J. held a fourth press conference ten hours after Air Force One had been hijacked. She was nervous, still unable to grasp the reality of what was happening. Her friends were on that plane and she had to put that aside in her jumbled mind. The press were eager to hear the news.

"Good evening," C.J. began trying to calm herself. Her voice shook and it was noticeable.

"We have a few updates for you now. It has been confirmed that the man who has taken over Air Force One is Rick Johnston Richards. We believe he has two accomplices on board Air Force One. Also, It is my sad duty to report that four secret service agents on board Air Force One have been killed. First Lady Abigail Bartlet remains unharmed as well as Leo McGarry, Sam Seaborn has only minor injuries but Mallory O'Brien, has been critically wounded. We have been told that the First Lady has been treating Miss O'Brien on board and that her condition is grave."

C.J.'s press conference continued as Charlie and Zoey walked slowly around the West Wing.Charlie was supporting his girlfriend, the First Daughter, every step of the way.

"You want to sit, Zoey?" he asked.

"No. Charlie," replied Zoey in a tiny voice. "I just want to walk." So they did, in through the offices, down the halls, up the stairs and then down again....they just walked. Together. Zoey could hear the end of C.J.'s press conference.

"Ladies and Gentleman." came C.J.'s voice. "The President is asking for your prayers this morning for the safe return of his wife, Mr. and Miss McGarry, Samuel Seaborn and the press aboard Air Force One. He has called on all Americans to reflect on this unfortunate event and understand that violence affects us all-"

Zoey covered her ears. She couldn't bear to listen.

 

It was so early in the morning. Abbey stared out the airplane window.....ten hours.....ten hours of sheer terror and she was exhausted. Abbey thought about many things....Jed, Zoey, Mallory....herself. She wondered if they would get down, if Jed could pull it off, what sacrifices were being made on their behalf?

Abbey sighed. Leo was sitting with Mallory, holding her hand, talking to her softly. Sam sat nearby, his eyes were closed as he was temporarily asleep. Abbey had stitched up his forehead twenty minutes earlier and she had given him something for the pain. It knocked him out completely. Probably the best thing, she thought. Richards was nowhere in sight. Abbey guessed that he was in the cockpit arranging who he would hurt next. Abbey's thoughts were interrupted when Mallory stirred.

"Abbey, I think Mallory's waking up," Leo informed her.

Abbey drew herself closer to Mallory and took the young woman's hand into hers. "Mal? I know you can hear me,"Abbey said gently. Her voice was so soft. "Squeeze my hand, sweetie," Abbey urged. "Come on..squeeze my hand." Abbey felt it then.

"She did it?" asked Leo nervously. Abbey nodded with a smile.

"She sure did. She's still with us..aren't you Mal?" Abbey smiled and brushed away the hair from Mallory's face. "Good girl......squeeze my hand again."

Mallory did and then managed to open her eyes. Almost immediately her face was clouded with pain. "Dad? Abbey?" her words were slow and muffled.

"We're here," said Leo, looking into Mallory's eyes. He prayed that she would stay awake.

Abbey was listening to Mallory's chest with her stethescope.

"Abbey, Ab..Abbey," Mallory struggled. Abbey straightened up and leaned her head close to Mallory's.

"Shhhh, don't talk. Just rest, Mal." Mallory tried to pull away the oxygen mask but Abbey held it firmly in place and Mallory was to weak to argue with her. She knew it was a hopeless case anyhow. Abbey was the boss, in most situations, including this one.

"Where's Sam?" she whispered.

"He's resting close by, he's been so worried," said Leo. "We all have been".

"Well I certain-ly....hope..s..s..so." Mallory gave a small smile. Her words were slurred but she still managed to make the weak joke.

Abbey gave a short laugh. "It's nice to see that you can still joke in your condition. It certainly is encouraging."

"Well, I try.." Mallory took a deep breath which took every ounce of her energy.

 

Jed was still pondering what to do as time ran out. He felt so alone in his decision. Leo was always there with him, always helping and disagreeing if need be.

"Mr. President?" said Mrs. Landingham.

"Yeah."

"We have another call from Air Force One." At this news, Jed slammed his fist down on his desk, assuming that it was Richards reporting who the latest victim was.

"That bastard-"

"No Mr. President. It's the First Lady."

Jed jumped up and took the call.

"Abbey? Abbey..are you still there?"

"Jed.."

"I'm on Sam's cell phone, Jed. In the bathroom...."

Jed could hear Abbey sobbing on the other end of the phone."Jed, it's getting bad up here."

The President shook his head. "Oh god, Abbey. I wish I was there with you. I would kill Richards with my own two hands, I would never let him hurt you, or anyone for that matter."

Abbey's tears came more frequently now. "I can't handle this anymore....can't....I just...just can't."

Jed longed to wrap his arms around his sorrowful wife. He wanted to comfort her, hold her.....

"Abbey. Listen to me. You are the strongest and most amazing woman I know. I won't let this man take you down like this. We're working on it here, baby. Everything will be fine..I promise."

"I promised Mallory that too," sobbed Abbey."I promised her she would make it through this."

"And she will," assured Jed, his voice wavering.

"I don't know Jed. It's....it's really bad. She needs surgery, NOW. I can't do anything else for her. We can't lose her, Jed. God, she's practically part of the family. Leo would never forgive-"

"Just be there for her, Abbey. Just don't give up."

"Easier said than done."

 

 

Abbey returned quickly, not even being noticed by Richards, Ray or Brummett. It could have been so much worse on the plane but it was hard to imagine anything worse than the sadness that filled Abbey's heart. She wanted to go home, and she doubted whether or not that would happen.

"I talked to him, Leo," Abbey whispered.

"Any arrangements yet?"

"Still working on it."

Leo looked crestfallen. "We can't wait any longer."

Sam had woken up while Abbey had been in the washroom talking to Jed.

"We need to find a way to deal with this ourselves."

"Don't be stupid, Sam." Abbey muttered.

"I'm going to talk to the other passengers, have a look around the plane...."

"Yeah, you do that Samuel." Leo said sarcastically.

"Well, I've got nothing to lose." Sam pointed out.

"Except your life," Abbey said, sitting down next to Mallory who was semi-conscious on the couch.

"I'm not going to sit here and watch the woman I love die, Abbey." Sam turned and walked away, determined to figure something out. He turned around a second later. "Besides, these guys aren't that smart and that's becoming obvious. They may be convincing as terrorists but there are only three of them right?"

"Three of them with about seven types of armed weapons." Leo objected harshly.

"I'd say we're about desperate right now, Leo." Sam walked away.

"Where's S...Sam going, Abbey?" asked Mallory.

"The washroom, honey." Abbey lied as if Mallory were only ten years old, hoping that Mallory didn't ask for the real explanation. She didn't.

 

Sam scanned around the back of the plane. There had to be more secret service agents on board. They couldn't all be dead. They had only seen a few.....there had to be more.....locked up somewhere perhaps. Sam knew that he shouldn't get his hopes up. His ideas were pretty far-fetched. If this were a movie, there would definitely be secret service agents stashed away behind a locked door deep in the plane. Sam tried not to think about Mallory. He had seen to much.....the only thing he thought of was that he needed to get them down. Mallory had to live.....she had saved his life.

 

Leo and Abbey sat with Mallory, both of them held one of her cold hands in theirs. Ray and Brummett were close by, their guns poised in case they needed to take action.

"Well, Abbey, I certainly hope Sam is successful," Leo said, shaking his head. He was hoping for any miracle.

Abbey smiled in defeat. "Well maybe he'll find some agents somewhere.....but I highly doubt it."

"Well, if this crap can happen in real-life, perhaps Sam WILL find some secret service agents who are alive."

Abbey nodded. "Perhaps."

"What do you think the President is doing, Abbey?"

"Well, I'll bet he's arranging some sort of deal with the people in Argentina....but he always has something up his sleeve. What I don't understand is how stupid Richards is. Even if Jed makes the deal, he's going to get him somehow....it's all so stupid, Leo. It's just all stupid."

Leo took a deep breath. "That's why I don't think we are going to get down," he said quietly.

"That's what I think too," agreed Abbey, fear showing on her face.

Mallory gasped. She had been listening intently, barely making out the whispers between Abbey and her Father.

"Dad....Abbey....wh-what are you say-saying?"

"Nothing, sweetie." Leo told his daughter. "Don't worry about anything."

"Relax, Mallory," Abbey said, almost strictly. In her voice there remained a gentle, sympathetic tone which softened her command.

Mallory's face was so pale. She looked so frail. "It re-really hurts, Abbey" she stammered.

Leo looked at Ray and Brummett who didn't look that threatening.

"Abbey, I'm going to find Sam." Leo said. Abbey nodded, her attention focused entirely on Mallory. Leo left silently. Ray and Brummett didn't even see them. They were more focused now on the shouts coming from the cockpit. Richards was cursing at the pilots. One of them emerged with his hand pressed tightly to his side. He toppled forward. Abbey stood to go and help but Brummett pointed a gun in her direction and she stayed where she was. Abbey was just glad that she had been allowed to treat Mallory. She still couldn't resist a terrible feeling of guilt when she was not permitted to help the pilot.

Mallory moaned again, prompting Abbey to look through the contents of the giant first aid kit for something that would help with the pain.

"God...I....never thought..it would feel like...like this," Mallory cried softly. Abbey filled a syringe full of morphine.

"Mal, I'm going to give you something to help with the pain....just try to relax for me, sweetie."

 

When Leo returned, Abbey was fumbling around with various parts of the first aid kit.

"Did you find Sam?"

"No. What are you doing?" Leo knelt next to Abbey.

"Seeing what kind of painkillers we've got here."

"Any change in her condition?" Leo asked nervously.

"I gave her some morphine, a little, to help her. She's doing a bit better now." Abbey turned to Mallory. "How's the pain now?"

"Better," she said, clearly in a more calm state.

"So that will make a difference, maybe buy us some time?" asked Leo.

"Well, it certainly minimizes Mal's suffering but their's only so much medication I can give her." whispered Abbey.

"I understand," said Leo. Ray and Brummett charged over when they saw Abbey's flurry of activity.

"What are you doing!?" demanded Brummett. He pointed his gun at Abbey. She held her hands up.

"I'm just-" Abbey began.

"Dr. Bartlet!"

It took a few minutes for Abbey to explain but Ray and Brummett left them alone after awhile and Abbey, Leo and even half-dazed Mallory all breathed a sigh of relief. Mallory's concerned and pained look softened and she found herself relaxed on the couch. She could no longer feel the terrible pain in her stomach, she was almost floating.

"Geez, Abbey, I..I...love you." Mallory said, pushing the mask away from her face.

"I know that sweetie."

"This is great...."

"You feeling light and fuzzy yet?" Abbey tried to joke.

"I guess you...you could des-describe it that way." Mallory smiled weakly.

Abbey was relieved that the painkiller had taken away the pain. What Mallory didn't know was that she was bleeding to death and slipping into shock. Abbey didn't really want to tell her.

 

Josh sat in his office. Donna sat silently on his desk, playing with her hair nervously.

"I wonder how they're holding up," said Josh quietly, interrupting the silence that pierced his office.

Donna cleared her throat. "Poor Mallory."

"Yeah," agreed Josh. "If I were up there-"

"Don't say that, Josh."

"Why?"

"You're scaring me," Donna admitted. She stood and moved closer to her boss.

"Why?"

Tears formed in Donna's eyes. "It could have been you.....it could have been any of us."

"Oh, Donna....but it wasn't. I almost wish it were though. I can't stand the thought of my best friend, my boss, Mallory and the First Lady up there. I wish I could help them...." Josh mused.

"And get shot again?!"

"Donna. Please, let's not even talk about this-"

"No problem." Donna slowly walked out of the office. She couldn't stop crying. The hijacking had hit so close to home. She was grateful that she wasn't up there but she felt a sense of guilt because she wasn't. She was safe. As she reached the door, Donna felt a firm hand on her shoulder. She turned slightly and Josh enveloped her in a giant hug.

"It's okay, Donna. It's okay to cry. I'm here."

 

"C.J.!!" Danny Concannon called out. "C.J. wait up!!"

"Danny, I really don't have time to talk right now." C.J. walked briskly down the hall, she had just held another briefing.

"No, C.J......"

"What is it, Danny?" C.J. asked almost impatiently. He arrived at her side.

"I just wanted to make sure you were okay."

C.J. softened a bit. "Uh, thanks. I'm fine." Danny shook his head.

"You're not usually such a bad liar."

"Excuse me?"

Danny stopped her. "You can't hide it C.J. You're upset. I want to help in any way I can."

"You wouldn't understand." C.J. said, shaking her head and proceeding in the direction of her office.

"I'll bet I do."

"I'll bet you don't."

"Fine."

"Fine."

C.J. opened the door to her office slowly. Danny looked her in the eyes.

"Listen, Danny.....I think I just need to be alone...."

"Listen, C.J.....you have been alone for the last few hours, you have been by yourself to think about all this. I think now you need someone to talk to. I can be that person," Danny convinced her.

"I don't think anyone can be that person right now-" C.J. objected. "Besides, if someone sees you in my office now, it's not going to look good."

Danny ripped off his press identification tag and shoved it in his pocket. "I'm your friend. They can't screw us over on that."

"I want to believe you but-" C.J. stopped when she saw the desperate look on Danny's face. For the first time, she realized that maybe she would be doing him a favor. "Alright, come in." She shut the door behind them.

 

Margaret sat silently in Leo's office, flipping throught the television channels. The press had gotten hold of the story and it was now featured on every network in a special report. Margaret focused in on the TV. She didn't even hear Toby's knock at the door.

"Margaret?"

"Oh, hi Toby" Margaret turned the TV off. "I was just watching the reports."

"Did you see C.J.'s press conference?" Toby asked.

"Yeah. It was, uh, good."

"Yes it was," Toby turned to leave.

"Toby?"

"Yes, Margaret?"

"You don't think anyone's dead up there, do you?" Margaret stammered.

"Oh, I wouldn't doubt it. That's usually the way these things work."

Margaret sighed. Toby was just too realistic.

"Toby."

"Don't worry. They're going to be fine. We're going to get them down." Toby's determination was something Margaret desperately wanted to hold on to. Toby turned to face Margaret. "I know it doesn't seem like it but I am really shaken by all this, Margaret. I'm just really good at covering it up. They're my friends too."

 

The plane shook violently. Turbulence. It was fitting for the already emotionally turbulent flight. Abbey sat alone in the now darkened area of the airplane cabin, holding Mallory's hand tightly and stroking her hair. Leo and Sam were off, trying to secretly contact the President and look for agents.....still. Mallory's eyes were closed. She was fading into an unconscious state once again but she was still holding on for the time being. Her eyes fluttered open every few minutes and she was responsive to Abbey's voice and touch.

"Shhhhh....." Abbey said repeatedly, trying to calm Mallory. Abbey rested her head close to Mallory's and whispered, "Not too much longer now....just hold on awhile longer, and then it will all be over....no one will hurt you ever again, Mal. Never. I won't permit it. Your father won't permit it and Sam won't permit it." Abbey placed a hand to Mallory's chalk-white cheek. "This should not have happened to you, Mal. You did nothing, nor could you ever do anything to deserve this....how God could throw this upon you, I just don't understand." Abbey curled up closer, wrapping her arms around Mallory's limp form. "I'll take care of you, Mal. Shhhh...I'll get you through this. Remember-I promised. I won't break my promise.....I won't." Abbey was breaking down in tears when Mallory stirred.

"Don't cr-cry Abbey...." Mallory raised her arm slowly to comfort Abbey. She hated to see someone so dear to her cry. "It's...ok-okay if you br..break your promise.." Abbey wouldn't let her continue.

 

"No, it's not," she said. "I'm not breaking that promise to you. Not this promise. Heaven knows I may break many promises to you in the years to come......."

"You used to...to ss..sing to me, Ab.Abbey...." Mallory changed the subject.

 

"All the time," Abbey remembered fondly, wiping at what seemed to be the thousandth tear of the night.

 

"You read t..to me, too...." Mallory was talking as though she were younger but at the same time she seemed as old as Abbey, she seemed like she had seen it all.

"Yeah....you remember? You were so little."

"I remem..ber ev.e..ry thing..."

"So do I, Mal. I remember all the time we spent together. You're so special....to all of us. I love you so much. Same with Jed, my girls...you've always been a part of the family, you always will be. Well, we certainly have one hell of a story to tell, Mallory."

"I love you too, Ab-Abbey," came the woman's reply. It was short. Mallory closed her eyes tightly but they flew open seconds later when she began to choke. Abbey flew into action.

"Mallory?! Tell me what it is..." Abbey forced Mallory's mouth open....she was choking on blood. She grabbed the stethescope from around her neck and listened to Mallory's chest. "Oh my God....come on, Mal, stay with me...." Massive internal bleeding.....thoughts ran wild through Abbey's mind. She checked the wound and tried to think straight. What should I do?

"Damn!" Abbey said in frustration. "Damnit! You are NOT dying, Mallory."

Leo and Sam came rushing in moments later. They raced to Abbey's aide, trying to stay calm and in control.

"Abbey, what happened?" Leo asked frantically, reaching into the first aid kit for the blood pressure cuff. He shoved it towards Abbey who immediately used it.

"Pressure's down-" Abbey's eyes were wide. Never before in her career had she ever felt such stress, such dread.

"What can we do?" Sam demanded. He didn't wait for the First Lady's answer. Taking Mallory's hand in his, he monitered her pulse as Abbey worked. He had a little medical training and wanted to be of any assistance possible.

"That's good, Sam, thank-you." Abbey said. "Keep a close watch on her heart rate."

Leo could only sit close by and pray. He didn't want to watch but he couldn't tear his eyes away. It was his worst nightmare.

"That bullet's got to come out, now." Abbey shook her head, and tried to steady her hands.

"Then you've got to do it, Abbey," Sam replied.

"I can't. She won't make it....one mistake and she's gone," Abbey's voice shook.

"She doesn't stand a chance if you don't," Sam told her sternly.

"I'm not a damn surgeon, Sam!" Abbey yelled, catching the attention of a disapproving Ray and Brummett.

"I know. I know...." Sam regretted the tone he had used. He swallowed hard, wondering just how far in the bullet was lodged. Abbey hadn't been certain if it had damaged any major organs.

"How's her pulse?" Abbey asked, her hand moving up to Mallory's neck to check it herself.

"Weak."

"God, help us out here...." Abbey prayed. "Damn. We're out of oxygen."

Leo was in shock. Abbey could tell by just looking at him. She didn't have time to help him but she knew he would understand.

"Leo?" Abbey tried to get his attention. "How are you doing over there, Leo?"

"I....I...don't know...save her, Abbey...." Leo could barely answer.

 

"Take it easy, Leo....I'm doing my best. Just have faith...." Abbey tried to follow her own advice.

Abbey motioned for Sam to take her place at Mallory's head. She was in total control of the situation now. She was determined to keep Mallory alive. She threw the BP cuff to Sam.

"Ever worked a blood pressure cuff, Sam?"

Sam nodded. "High School.....Biology....and the emergency medical training course I took."

"Good. I want you to monitor her vitals. Leo-I need you here."

Leo came closer. "Okay."

"Keep Mallory's feet elevated for me, we need to bring her out of shock." Leo did as he was told. "And switch that light on." Leo did so.

Abbey pushed Mallory's bloodstained shirt up and looked at the wound. She felt Mallory's abdomen....there was a lot of internal bleeding.

"It is as bad as I thought."

"How do you know?" Sam questioned.

"I can feel it," replied Abbey. She pressed on Mallory's abdomen again.

"I can't take that bullet out, there would be too much bleeding. Not to mention that I've never done that before."

"But isn't that what's causing the bleeding?" Sam asked frantically.

"It's hard to explain.....

"Forget it then," Leo said. "Just...just do what you have to."

"That's the problem," admitted Abbey. "I don't know what the smartest thing to do actually IS...."

Leo took a deep breath. "You're a very bright woman, Dr. Abigail Bartlet. I know that you know deep inside what needs to be done."

Sam stood up in fury.The woman he loved was dying before his eyes. "That's it. I've had enough of this crap....I'm taking care of this, NOW." He stormed away before Leo or Abbey could object.

"Sam! Sam! Come back here!" Abbey cried. Leo ran after him.

 

Richards sat in the cockpit, pretty confident that his accomplices, Ray and Brummett, had the hostages under their watchful eyes. He had spoken to the President minutes before. Arrangements were apparently being made. The thing was that the plane was running out of fuel. They were going to have to land soon. Richards had no intent in letting on that this was the case. He wanted the President to grovel to him, to give him what he wanted. Richards liked control.....alot.

Sam approached Ray and Brummett from behind. He didn't care what happened to them or to him....he just wanted Mallory to live and in order for that to happen, they needed to land the plane and fast.

Before Leo could stop him, Sam lunged towards Ray, unarmed.

"You Bastard! Drop the gun you son of a-" Sam struggled with him and pulled him to the floor.

"Get the hell off me!" yelled Ray, kicking his way out from underneath a furious Sam Seaborn. Brummett aimed his large weapon at Sam but from out of nowhere, Leo grabbed his wrist. Gunshots sounded.

Abbey could hear everything. She sat in terror.

"I'm sick and damn tired of this little act of yours," Leo said. He held the gun in his shaking hand. A few members of the press had run to help Sam and Leo when the gun had been ripped from Brummett's hand. They pinned Ray to the floor.

Brummett lunged again at Leo, hitting him hard on the arm. Richards was suddenly part of the fight. His gun went off several times, causing everyone to draw back. He stood in the center of the group of grown men.

"So, it's going to be this way?" Richards asked, his tone implying that he was not at all happy.

"I'm sick of your crap, Richards!" Sam said, ignoring his own safety. "We've got a woman dying back there! We need to go down, right NOW. You bastard.....take us the hell down!" Sam yelled. Abbey could hear him. She looked down at Mallory wondering if she would ever hear the story of how brave Sam was....she wondered if she would get to tell the story.

Richards pushed Sam away into the seats and took aim at some passengers....the press. Leo couldn't watch. He managed to hit two of them. How critically they were injured, Leo didn't know. He didn't even want to imagine.

"THAT'S the kind of power I have right now, so I suggest you don't mess the hell around with me!" Richards stated furiously.

He spyed Abbey, hovering in the background, close to Mallory. He charged at her. Abbey barely had enough time to try to get away. Richards was at her side and took hold of her arm tightly.

"Move it!"

"Not on your life!" Abbey responded sternly.

Richards put the gun to her head. "No, on yours."

 

Abbey followed, her eyes darting around for Sam.

"Sam!" she cried, as Richards grip became stronger. "Look after Mal...."

Sam would have been more than happy to oblige but he was too busy. Had there actually been more agents stashed away on the plane he wouldn't have to do what he was about to do. It was up to himself and Leo now. He attacked Richards from the back, wrapping his arms around his neck. Richards still held Abbey tightly, raising his hand, he hit her hard on the side of the head. She fell limply into his arms, cowering in pain. She slid to the floor, her hands clasped to her spinning head.

Sam tried to wrestle the gun away from Richards, aware that Ray and Brummett were behind him and poised to shoot.

"Sam! Be careful!" Abbey cried out. She made her way back to Mallory....

Leo punched Ray in the stomach and as he was doubled over, another passenger hit him over the head. One down.

Suddenly, the other pilot burst in. He was armed.

"Right out of movie, Richards," he said. He fired at the terrorist, missing at first. His second shot, however, hit him in the back. "This is the part when the good guys take the plane back. Don't get me wrong, even I think we were all pretty stupid-we should have done it sooner." The pilot said triumphantly.

"You...you shhh..shot-" Richards didn't finish his sentence. He crumpled to the floor leaving everyone else staring in stunned silence. Leo stood still, not believing what the pilot had just done. They were really back in charge now.

Brummett was the only one of the terrorists still standing. He dropped his gun as the pilot aimed at him.

Was it really over? The Pilot, Sam and Leo stared at the men on the floor in shock. They were back in control.

Leo moved towards Richard's still form. He wasn't dead, but close. "Let's get this plane down," he said to the pilot who had just helped save their lives.

"Certainly Sir. With pleasure," replied the Pilot. He turned and made a beeline for the cockpit.

Abbey couldn't believe it....was it really true? Were they back in control of the plane? Her heart beat wildly.

"Mr. McGarry. Let's get the President on the line," the pilot called from ahead. Leo was about to follow him when he saw Sam trying to stand up from his position on the floor between a row of seats.

"You okay, Sam?" Leo asked, immediately concerned that the younger man was having difficulty.

"Yeah, why?"

"You sure?"

"Yes sir. Why?"

"You just called me Sir...." Leo was alarmed.

"I did?" Sam seemed confused.

"Go see Abbey. Get her to have a look at your head."

"Abbey? Abbey's on the plane? Abbey Bartlet?" Sam asked, his head was spinning.

"Oh, boy." Leo guided Sam to the middle of the plane where Abbey was tending to Mallory.

"Abbey, I think Sam has another head injury." Leo said. He sat Sam down in a seat close to the couch. Abbey came over.

"Well, at least you waited until now to go crazy on us," said Abbey, examining his eyes.

"Why? What's going on?"

Abbey felt another rise of panic. "Sam, you better lie down."

 

Leo sat in the cockpit, trying to gather his thoughts. It was almost over. The nightmare was finally coming to an end. He couldn't wait to tell Jed, he couldn't wait to be on solid ground again. More than anything, he couldn't wait to get Mallory to a hospital. What occurred to him then was the stupidity of the entire situation. Why hadn't they tried to fight back sooner? Or would they have been able to?

 

C.J., Margaret, Toby, Danny, Zoey, Donna, Josh and Charlie were gathered around Jed in the Oval Office as he spoke over the phone to Leo. Mrs. Landingham came bustling in, followed by Ginger and Carol. She had a huge smile on her face. The President's face matched Mrs. Landingham's. C.J. squeezed Zoey's shoulders. Toby put his arm around Ginger. Margaret and Donna embraced. Jed stood by his desk, phone in hand listening to Leo's relieved yet tense voice on the other end. They still had to get down. The plane had been slightly damaged but they hoped for a normal landing.

Leo and Jed shared some heartfelt words. Leo and Jed would never forget the feelings they had when they talked to eachother, comforted eachother.....they were going to be okay. Jed hung up the phone.

"They're descending into Argentina as we speak." he announced happily.

 

Josh pounded his fist into the air. "Yes!"

Toby even smiled. "Mr. President." he began.

"Yes, Toby?" replied Jed, turning towards him, a huge smile on his face.

"Well, I just want to say that it's far from being over...."

"I know what you mean."

"It's just amazing how it all ended....."

"Why is that, Toby?" spoke up Mrs. Landingham.

"Well....they spent hours looking for secret service agents and when it came down to it, they only needed three of them...."

"Who cares." said Donna. "It doesn't really matter."

"You always find something to whine about." Margaret said with a laugh.

"I'm not whining, Margaret."

Jed nodded. "I think it just took time for them to realize that they had the power to overcome their obstacles the whole time. They just needed to find it. They should be commended for their heroism. They've kept Mallory alive and from what I hear.....she saved Sam's life....and Leo and Abbey, well, it will be one hell of a story but I need to get to Argentina because I don't want to hear it from anyone except my wife." He left the Oval Office then, his arms wound around Zoey. Everyone followed them out.

 

Leo could feel the plane start to descend. His heart was soaring....they were going to live....

 

When Leo returned to Abbey's side, her face was grim. His heart started to pound.

 

"Is it Mallory?"

Abbey shook her head and Leo sighed in relief. "What's wrong?"

"Jon Kelly, a member of the press corps....one of the guys who were shot....he's in serious condition."

"What about the other guy?"

Abbey shook her head sadly, "It was too late".

Leo bowed his head momentarily. "What about the co-pilot?"

Abbey shook her head again. "He suffered a massive blow to the head. I couldn't do anything."

"Oh God...."

"Six people are dead, Leo. At least. " she muttered. "All because of one man and a stupid plan."

"You know, the hardest part is just beginning," said Leo.

"Yeah. I know."

Leo put his arm around Abbey. "We'll get through it though. Hell, we can handle anything." He tried to be optimistic.

Abbey rested her chin on Leo's comforting arm. "If Mal makes it....it's going to be a long road ahead."

"She's made it this far. She'll make it the rest of the way," Leo replied. Trying to sound sure of himself.

"I'm praying, Leo. I'm praying for her....for all of us."

Sam, who was laying on the floor, tried to sit up slowly. "Oh my God. What happened?"

"You back with us, Sam?"

"What do you mean, back with us? What is that supposed to mean, Leo?" Sam asked, pushing himself to his knees.

"Sam....we're going home."

"Well, of course....."

Abbey almost smiled. "You remember everything now, Sam?"

"How could I forget?"

"Sam, you've been out of it for about twenty minutes."

"Funny, Abbey."

"It's not a joke. Anyways, you seem to be back with us now. You've got a concussion though." At Abbey's words, Sam reached up and felt the bump on his head.

"Ow."

"Why don't you just lie back and take it easy. Indulge me." Abbey said, trying to push Sam back down to the floor.

"How's Mallory doing?" Sam suddenly asked, trying to protest.

"No change in her condition. She's been in and out of consciousness" reported Abbey.

The three of them suddenly felt the plane descend quickly.

"What the....the...hell wa-was that?" came Mallory's strained voice. Abbey turned to see Mallory awake once again.

"We're going down, Sweetie....we're landing."

"Landing?" Mallory didn't dare hope that it was true. Surely Abbey had meant that they were crashing.

"We are....honey, it's all over." Leo assured his daughter.

Mallory started to cough....and didn't stop....she couldn't breathe. The peace and calm was shattered once again and the harsh reality was that it was not over yet.

 

Jed stared at the picture of Abbey on his desk in the Residence. He and Charlie needed to pack his things for the trip to Argentina. He had come so close to losing her. She was on her way home to him now. She would be in his arms once again and he would never let go. He wondered how he would get her over the trauma....maybe she would be able to do it herself, but she would most likely need him. Jed, in turn, felt a great deal of guilt. His wife and his best friends had been harmed because of him.....that was something he would never let go of. The phone rang. Jed was startled.

"Hello?"

 

"Mr. President." asked C.J. timidly.

"C.J."

"The press are waiting for your statement in the briefing room."

"Thanks, C.J."

"You're welcome, Mr. President."

Jed hung up the phone. He was desperate to get to Argentina but he knew that he needed to address the nation first, and he would gladly do it. It was his job and his joy to report that his wife and dear friends were landing in Argentina.

 

The plane hit a rough spot as it descended. "Come on!" Abbey muttered as she lost her balance. She was trying to listen to Mallory's chest. She was barely breathing. Her heart rate was slow and her blood pressure too low.

Abbey put the stethescope back around her neck. Leo looked at her, his face as pale as it had been earlier.

"How long does she have, Abbey?"

"Not long."

Sam looked shocked. "Then what are we going to do?!" he demanded, releasing Mallory's frail hand from his own.

Abbey shook her head. "I don't even want to think about it," she said. "We're going to get her to a hospital as soon as this plane lands. She'll have the best care there."

"Is the President on that?" asked Sam.

"Yeah."

Leo moved to the window and peered out. It wasn't as dark, the city lights were in view.

"I'm guessing that's Argentina out there." Leo muttered.

"Probably," answered the First Lady.

"Goody. I've always wanted to go to Argentina." Leo said sarcastically. He actually had wanted to visit Argentina but not under these circumstances.

Abbey got up and looked out the window. She was so tired. Looking out the window made her dizzy.

Sam layed his head close to Mallory. Listening to her shallow breaths, worrying constantly. Although Mallory's breathing was ragged, it followed a pattern. Sam just listened. He was almost asleep when a sudden change in that pattern made his heart sink. She wasn't breathing at all. They were almost down.....

"Abbey!" Sam cried out instantly. "Abbey! She's not breathing!"

Abbey and Leo rushed over....it wasn't that far.

 

"Stay back, Leo." Abbey warned. She knelt next to Mallory and felt at her neck for a pulse. Her fingers found nothing.

Sam almost panicked when he saw Abbey's pale face. "Abbey is she-"

"No pulse. Sam, we need to do CPR. Help me move her down to the floor!" She ordered.

Sam and Abbey rapidly moved Mallory onto the floor and layed her flat on her back. Sam tilted her head back.

"Sam, I'm going to need your help here." Abbey said, trying to remain calm for the hundredth time that night. "You remember what you learned in your emergency medicine course?"

"Yes. I think-"

"Just tell me that you do!" yelled Abbey.

"I do!"

"Good." She turned to Leo then, seeing the pained look on his face. "Leo, you might want to go somewhere else..."

"I can't leave her, Abbey." He said quietly. He felt himself slip back towards the window. He didn't dare look at what was unfolding around him.

Abbey didn't answer. She looked up at Sam. "Give her a breath every time I tell you to."

"Got it." said Sam. He bent over Mallory's still form.

Abbey began chest compressions. She did fifteen.

"Give her a breath", she said. Sam did so. He remembered what to do now. Abbey pushed on Mallory's chest again...and he gave her one more breath. "C'mon Mal." Abbey encouraged.

A minute later there was still no change. Two minutes....nothing. Leo felt the tears streaming down his cheeks. Abbey was visibly tiring but not giving up....Sam wasn't either.

"Come on, Mallory.We're not giving up on you, don't you give up on us...." Abbey said breathlessly.

Leo tore his eyes away briefly to look out the window. "We're almost down, Abbey!"

"Thank God," she said. She felt for a pulse again. Still nothing. "Keep going, Sam. You're doing great," she praised.

Suddenly, almost three minutes of tireless effort, Mallory's heart started beating again.

"I've got a pulse." shouted Sam.

Abbey wept with relief. "We got her, Sam....we did it....."

"Thank God." Sam said. He moved out of the way and watched as Abbey cradled Mallory's head in her arms and cried. Sam wanted to do the same but he let Abbey have her moment.

Leo could barely speak. He was filled with relief and thanks.

 

Mallory didn't stir. She remained unresponsive but alive. The plane hit the ground a few minutes later. They had landed fairly smoothly which was surprising. Paramedics rushed onto the airplane once it came to a final stop. They immediately took Mallory off the plane and she was finally on her way to the hospital. Leo put his arm around Abbey. Sam, still in shock, stood up from the floor slowly.

Abbey stood, her arms tightly wound around Sam. She rested her head against his shoulder. Leo had rushed ahead, following the paramedics.

Sam looked around the plane....paramedics were crowding in, running to aide the wounded. Abbey guided Sam towards the door and helped him off the plane. She sat him down in the back of an ambulance and yelled to one of the paramedics to help Sam. She desperately wanted to go with Mallory but knew she was in good hands and that everything possible was being done for her. Abbey climbed in with Sam and after briefly examining his injured head once again she buried her face in her hands and rode that way all the way to the hospital.

 

Leo and Sam sat next to eachother in the hospital....in absolute silence. Mallory had been rushed into emergency surgery and Abbey had gone to arrange it all, still taking charge. Leo knew that it was only a matter of time before Abbey would finally let her emotions out. It had been three hours since the plane had finally landed and the events that had taken place were starting to sink in. Leo and Sam had remained calm when they saw Richards wheeled into the same hospital. It was almost certain that he would live....they couldn't say the same for poor Mallory, his innocent victim.

Abbey joined Leo and Sam and she didn't utter a word until she sat down and placed an arm around Leo.

"How are you doing?" she whispered sympathetically. Leo shook his head and didn't answer. Abbey bit her lip. Sam patted her shoulder reassuringly.

"Any news?" asked Sam quietly.

"They're still working on her" Abbey replied.

"How was she when you were in there?"

Abbey sighed. "Doing as well as can be expected."

"But how do you really think she is?" demanded Leo.

Abbey shook her head. "They kicked me out of there before I could really make any judgement. She's in good hands though, Leo. They know what they're doing in there."

"I should hope so." Sam said dryly. Abbey looked up at him. His head had been bandaged.

"Let me see." she said, as she gently removed the white bandage and peered at the stitches in Sam's head.

"They look like they're holding nicely....did they give you something more for the pain?"

"Yeah. I'm fine."

"Take it easy Sam. That's my lovely stitching work so don't pull them out." she said with a smile.

"Wouldn't dream of it, Abbey."

Abbey stood again and staggered over towards the other side of the room and began pacing. Leo suddenly noticed that she wasn't walking quite right.

"Abbey?" he said tentatively. "Abbey? Please..." Leo approached her, forgetting Mallory for a brief moment and focusing his attention on Abbey.

Abbey didn't look up. She looked down at the floor tiles, moving back and forth across the waiting room.

Leo stopped her and looked at her face. "Abbey. What is it?" She knew then that Leo knew that she was injured.

"It's nothing....don't worry about me...." she tried to assure him.

"Like hell it's nothing." He brushed her hair away from her face and saw the black and blue bruise near the top of her forehead. "God, Abbey-you need to get this looked after...." He realized that she had a large bump on her head as well.

"Leo. Please. It's okay-"

"Abbey, sit down" Leo begged.

"Oh, I'm FINE....."

"Sit."

"NO".

"Please, Abbey....you can stop worrying so much about Mallory and take care of yourself."

Abbey rolled her eyes, "Stop worrying about Mallory? Yeah, right Leo."

"You know what I mean, Abigail." Leo said in a serious tone.

"I'll look after it, Leo. Don't worry."

"Abbey." Leo was about to continue but he saw a doctor enter the room at a brisk walk.

The three weary travellers looked up expectantly. The doctor approached them slowly.

"Mrs. Bartlet? Mr. McGarry?"

"Yes." Leo offered his hands."Nice to meet you." he said, his voice shaking.

"I'm Sam Seaborn" Sam shook the doctor's hand.

"I'm Dr. Isen, I've been taking care of Mallory......she is your daughter?" Isen asked Leo.

"Yes she is. How is she doing?"

Isen nodded. "Well, we removed the bullet successfully but there was, in fact, massive internal bleeding....it took us awhile to get that under control. She's had several transfusions but she's doing fine. We expect her to wake up within the hour."

Leo let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding. "Thank-you, Doctor."

Dr. Isen turned to Abbey then and spoke quietly. "She flatlined and coded twice due to the bleeding. I've never seen so much in my life. It's a miracle she didn't die on that plane." Abbey nodded, understanding what the doctor was telling her. Dr. Isen continued, "As I mentioned, it took awhile to stop it....she lost a lot of blood and it's going to be a fair bit of time before she's herself again."

"Yes, I know. It's going to be hard for her to accept all of this." said Abbey in agreement.

"The bullet amazingly missed several vital organs."

"Any damage to the liver or spleen?" asked Abbey.

"Not anything that we need to worry about. I'm mostly concerned about the internal bleeding."

"Me too. Full recovery expected?"

"We expect so, Dr. Bartlet."

"We came so close to losing her." whispered Sam.

"She's going to make it." Dr. Isen assured them.

Abbey smiled, "She's one lucky girl...."

Dr. Isen shook his head in amazement, "And one hell of a fighter, too. It's a good thing you were on that plane, Dr. Bartlet, or there is no way she would have made it to this point."

Abbey almost blushed. "Mallory's a strong young woman..." she turned to Leo then. "And I know exactly where she gets it from."

Leo managed a small smile at the compliment but didn't really agree. He hadn't been the strong one on the plane. Abbey was the one that had kept it together when it had really counted. She had been scared but she had bravely put her emotions aside-for the most part.

Dr. Isen showed Leo, Sam and Abbey to Mallory's room. "One at a time please." he requested politely. He left them soon after and Leo quietly entered Mallory's room. She was sleeping so peacefully and despite how ill she was, she was still as beautiful as ever. Leo bent down to kiss her forehead.

"Hi sweetie." he whispered. Mallory didn't stir. He sat next to her bed and took one of her hands into his own and held it tightly. He had come so close to losing her and now he held her close to him, never wanting to let go. He must have fallen asleep beside his daughter because the next thing he knew, Abbey was gently shaking him awake.

"Mallory?" he asked with a start. Then he remembered.

"No. It's Abbey."

"Oh, Abbey....sorry, I fell asleep-"

"Shhhh Leo, it's okay. You need to sleep. I arranged for a cot to be brought in so you can sleep here." she said in a whisper. "It's on it's way up."

"Thanks, I appreciate that."

"They're letting more than one person in now?" Leo asked casually.

"No. I count as a doctor, I can come in whenever I please." Abbey said with a smile.

Leo smiled back but he was obviously tired. "Jed on his way?"

"Yeah." replied Abbey. "He left a few hours ago."

"Were you talking to him? Was he on the plane?"

"Yes. He's anxious to get here although he says not travelling on Air Force One is kind of 'wierd'"

"Oh he'll still annoy the hell out of the poor people with him."

"He's too concerned about us right now."

"Then they're lucky...."

"You said it." Abbey replied, leaning back in an uncomfortable chair.

"Who's with him?"

Abbey yawned. "Uh, C.J. and Josh....and Zoey and Charlie. Toby had to stay in the West Wing."

"Did you get someone to look at your head?"

"Yeah. It's fine....just a nasty bump."

Leo sighed. "Don't say it."

Abbey shook her head. "I told you so."

Abbey took her friend's hand in hers. Leo patted it assuringly. He knew she was worried about him. "I'm going to be fine, too, Abbey."

She nodded. "I know you will be. We just need to take everything one day at a time for the next little while."

"Yeah."

Sam peered through the window. He spotted Leo and Abbey and gestured to them to come outside. They got up immediately and approached Sam.

"Hey, Sam...." Leo started.

"Can I have a few minutes alone with Mallory? Please?" Sam begged. He looked pleadingly into Abbey's eyes.

"Go on in, Sam. She's still asleep, though."

"Thanks." With that, Sam Seaborn entered Mallory's room.

 

Sam sat in the chair next to Mallory's bed. He was surprised at how awkward he felt at her bedside. The peaceful look on the young woman's face was reassuring but it was still hard for Sam to come to terms with the fact that it had all actually happened. It seemed so impossible, so unthinkable but it HAD happened. Sam stared at the woman he loved for several long minutes before he could gather enough words to speak to her softly.

"Mal....I don't know if you can hear me.." he began quietly. "Abbey said it helps to talk to you....you know the deal I'm sure....anyways, Mal, it's time to wake up, honey....we're all waiting so patiently, hoping and praying that you'll be your same old self in no time....God Mallory.....last night was the scariest night of my entire life.We came so close.....I came so close to losing you.....losing you forever. On that plane I just kept telling myself that it was all just a nightmare or that I could handle it.....but it was all so terrifying, so real. The only thing I was thinking about was that I had to keep you safe.....and Abbey and Leo......but after you were shot...I....I...felt like....I can't even begin to explain the sense of defeat, of doom....Mallory....the thought of losing you was just too much. I wanted to die. If you were going to die....then....then...there was nothing to live for. Mallory, I knew I loved you but now I know that I love you even more than I could even imagine. You are everything to me....and I'm going to get you through this. You've been so brave, honey....you saved my life on that plane....this is the price you had to pay....it's so unfair. God, Mallory, when you're well I promise we'll make the most of the time we have together....it's so precious. I love you so much. We all do."

Sam took a deep breath. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, his eyes stung and his chest tightened.

"Abbey saved your life, you know. She knew exactly what needed to be done, she just didn't know she did.You're still alive because of her.....and I don't know how I'll ever be able to thank her. You remind me of her. You are a lot like Abbey.....you're strong, brave and you're not afraid to let your emotions show....and I admire that, and I love you........"

Sam rested his head on Mallory's bed and closed his eyes. He never wanted to leave, he wanted to stay like that forever, beside Mallory, holding on.

The door creaked open. Abbey poked her head inside to see Sam sleeping soundly. She entered and sat down on the other side of the bed, she stroked Mallory's hair, brushing it away from her closed eyes. To Abbey, she already looked better. Abbey felt her eyes closing. She wanted to cry.....but the tears wouldn't come. She still couldn't believe what had happened, but Mallory was living proof.

"Mallory," whispered Abbey. "Sam and I are here, sweetie....and your Dad's close by....."

 

Mallory awoke later on and at first, she wasn't exactly sure where she was. Then she remembered. The horror of the night before came rushing back and she almost cried out. She was then suddenly aware of the pain. Her ribs and stomach were killing her. Her eyes frantically searched around the darkened room. They stopped and rested on Sam, who was sleeping, his head resting near her hand. She then looked to the other side to see Abbey, also sound asleep. Abbey's hand covered Mallory's own. She tried with all her might to move her hand, to squeeze Abbey's hand but her hand felt as if it weighed a hundred pounds on it's own. Her fingers twitched.Abbey's head flew up.

"Mallory!" her voice was filled with relief.

 

 

Abbey heard Jed from the other end of the hall.

"I want to see my wife immediately." she could hear him say. She bit her lip and tried to hold back the tears that were threatening to spill down her cheeks.

"We'll locate her right away, Mr. President." came Josh's voice. Sam came up close to Abbey.

"They're here?" he asked. Abbey nodded and started making her way towards her husband. As she rounded the corner she could see him walking briskly. He spotted her then and they both ran towards eachother as if they hadn't seen eachother in years.

"JED!" Abbey cried, allowing herself to be taken into the loving arms of Jed Bartlet. They kissed passionately.

"God, Abbey....you're alright...."

"Yes...." she kissed him again. She couldn't explain how she felt. It was the most wonderful thing in the world.

"MOM!" came Zoey's voice, she ran out from behind Jed, Charlie in tow.

Abbey wrapped her arms around her family.

"It's so good to see you...." Abbey cried quietly. "I never thought-" Jed cut his wife off.

"You're okay. That's all that matters."

Sam and Josh had their own little reunion. Josh had never been happier to see his best friend and that was the same for Sam. Sam even thought he saw a tear in Josh's eye.

"Where's Leo?" asked Jed, looking around with concern.

"He's in with Mallory." explained Abbey. "She's awake but I gave her a sedative to relax her so she's really groggy right now."

Josh looked up at Sam's head. "What happened there, Sam?"

Sam had completely forgotten about his head. Now that Josh had mentioned it, he seemed to notice the pain.

"I fell down." Sam said sheepishly.

"Fell down?" Josh almost laughed but he reminded himself of how serious the situation on the plane had been.

Abbey wrapped her arm around Sam's shoulder. "I'd say it was more of a battle wound."

"That sounds oh so much better than 'I fell down'" Josh replied, trying to be as cheerful yet as sympathetic as possible.

Jed changed the subject. "Abbey, how serious is Mallory's condition?"

Abbey took a deep breath. "Well, it's still very serious....it will be at least another week and a half before we can transport her back home. She's still in a lot of pain-even with the medication. It does look like she'll recover fully." She smiled.

"A full recovery! That's great news!" Jed was ecstatic.

"When can we see her, Mom?" asked Zoey who was still clinging to her mother and holding her closely.

"Soon, honey. Uncle Leo's with her now.....I'd say in a couple hours."

Jed nodded. Sam and Josh sat down in the waiting area chairs, Charlie following them. C.J. patted Abbey's shoulder reassuringly and tried to guide Zoey to the chairs so Abbey could have a few minutes with Jed. Taking the hint, Zoey reluctantly followed C.J.

Jed and Abbey took a slow walk down the hall, wrapped in eachother's arms.

"So, are they still expecting me in Europe?" Abbey said, trying to joke.

Jed gave a short laugh. "Don't worry, I took care of that."

"Good. I'd hate to disappoint them."

Jed smiled.

"You were great up there, Abigail Bartlet." Jed praised, changing the subject. Abbey shook her head.

"Oh Jed...."

"Abbey, you saved Mallory's life."

"It wasn't just me."

Jed sighed. "I know. The three of you helped Mallory immensely."

Abbey finally decided that it was time to let the emotions out. She turned towards Jed in tears.

"I was so scared, Jed." she whispered. He pulled her closer to him.

"I know, Abbey....I just wish I could have done more."

"You...you did everything you could." she assured him. "You handled it well Jed. How anyone could deal with that bastard is beyond me."

"You did." Jed reminded her gently.

"I suppose..."

"Rick Richards will never hurt you, Mallory or anyone again. I promise." Jed soothed.

"He's still alive.....he doesn't deserve to be."

"Abbey."

"He's in this hospital isn't he?" Abbey demanded.

"Yes. I was told that they're treating him now."

Abbey cleared her throat. "Part of me just wants to see him die....and I know that's wrong but it's how I feel...."

"It's understandable, babe...what he put you through was unthinkable, and don't worry....he will pay."

The two of them sat down. Abbey looked down at her trembling hands.

"When I was up there all I could think about was you, Zoey and the girls....and Mallory of course. Sam and Leo...."

"I know. You wouldn't believe how many times I thought of you up there....it was terrible." Jed told her, brushing away a stray piece of Abbey's brown hair.

"I can believe it." Abbey smiled through her tears. She buried her face into Jed's chest. "The second I saw the gun, I felt like everything was falling apart around me, Jed. I felt powerless and it's one of the worst feelings in the world."

"Tell me about it."

"When Sam was injured, I became completely preoccupied with helping him and when Mallory was shot, it felt like it couldn't get any worse....except if she were to die. That's how I got through it. I wasn't really focussing on the fact that we had been hijacked....I was only thinking of you or trying to help Sam and Mallory."

"You're a hero, Abbey. As much as you want to deny it, you kept your cool up there-for the most part. I'm so proud of you."

"God, Jed.....I don't know how I'm going to get past this. I don't know how we're going to get Mallory past this-"

"Don't worry about that right now. We'll find a way."

"But, Jed-"

"Just be quiet and kiss me."

"Okay".

 

An hour later, Leo poked his head out of the door to Mallory's room.

"Abbey?"

"Uncle Leo!" Zoey spoke up as she ran to him and gave him a big hug.

"Zoey!" He hugged her and then looked up to see his best friend. "Jed....."

"Leo." Jed embraced his friend. "God it's good to see you!"

"Same here, Mr. President." Leo said with a smile. He had never been so happy to see his best friend. He had so much to say but decided to wait until they had a private time to talk.

"How's Mallory doing?" Jed asked, patting Leo on the back.

"She seems to be doing alright but she's still in an extreme amount of pain. I want Abbey to take a look at her."

"Yeah. Abbey just went to the washroom, she'll be right in."

"Thanks. Uh, Jed-"

Jed slowly nodded, understanding that Leo wanted to talk. "We'll talk in a little while". Leo smiled weakly.

"Thank-you, Mr. President."

 

Abbey entered Mallory's room to find Leo pacing.

"Leo. Sit down." she said, gesturing towards one of the seats in the room.

"I can't stand to see her like this, Abbey." Leo said quietly.

"I'm going to give her something else to ease the pain. It's going to knock her out but that's good because it allows her body a chance to heal in peace." Abbey checked Mallory's chart.

"So?"

"So...what?"

"So what's on the chart?" Leo asked almost frantically.

"Leo. She's okay....just sit tight." Abbey told him. She leaned down to speak with Mallory.

"Hey, sweetie....you're doing great."

"Abbey..." Mallory started to talk.

"Shhhh...don't talk now, just try to rest. I'm going to give you something that will put you to sleep in no time at all."

"Abbey....I just wanted to say...thank-you." Mallory forced the words out as she shook uncontrollably from the incredible pain.

Abbey felt tears come to her eyes. "Oh Mal....I'm just so glad you're okay, honey." Mallory smiled. Abbey kissed her on the cheek and then continued with her work.

 

"So Abbey's in the cockpit telling off Richards and I've been wacked over the head...." Sam was trying to tell Josh, Charlie, the President, C.J. and Zoey the story. Abbey came out of Mallory's room, stethescope in hand. She sat down next to Jed and rested her head on his shoulder. Everyone became silent.

"How is she, Mrs. Bartlet?" Josh asked nervously.

"I gave her something so she's asleep. I just examined her and I'm very pleased with how she's responding."

"That's great news." C.J. said.

"However, she is going to be here for awhile. As appealing as home is right now, I've decided to stay. I'm not leaving here until Mallory does." Abbey announced. "Leo, of course, is staying as well."

"You sure, Abigail?" Jed asked, trying to comfort his wife.

"Yes. I need to stay, Jed."

"I understand." he replied. "We've all planned to stay here for the next couple days so we'll be here for you."

"Thanks, honey."

"When can I see Mal?" asked Zoey.

"Go on in, Zo." she said tiredly. "Just be quiet."

Zoey quickly disappeared into Mallory's room.

"It's been one hell of a day," moaned C.J. as she watched Zoey leave the room.

Abbey decided to go to the reception desk to inquire about Jon Kelly, who had been seriously wounded.

"Jon Kelly?" asked the nurse on duty.

"Yes. He should have been brought here-"

"Oh yes, Mrs. Bartlet. He's upstairs in room 543."

"And how is he?" Abbey asked.

"He's out of surgery and he should be released within the next few days." the nurse reported.

"Thank-you." Abbey looked at the nurse's nametag. It said 'Rosana'. "Thank-you very much, Rosana"

The nurse stared back in awe at the First Lady. "Your welcome, Mrs. Bartlet."

Abbey returned to Jed. "Jon Kelly should be okay."

"Good." His tone became serious. "Six people died up there," Jed muttered.

"Six innocent people" said Abbey.

"A pilot, a member of the press corps and four agents," spoke up Sam mournfully.

''You know what?" Abbey said softly. "I feel lucky."

Sam nodded. "Me too. Damn lucky."

"Then let's just be thankful that we're still here," suggested Abbey. Leaning back in the chair, she closed her eyes and resting her head on her loving husband's shoulder, she drifted off to sleep.

 

The End

(Sequel to follow)

 

 

 

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