JOURNEY TO PARADISE
(sequel to "Courage and Fear")
DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters, they do not belong to me!! I just write for fun :)
CATEGORY: Jed/Abbey, Sam/Mallory.
RATED: PG...not much language.
SPOILERS: Little itty bitty ones....ITSOTG parts I and II. That's about it.
SUMMARY: As Mallory recovers, Abbey, Leo and Sam try to sort out their own feelings (sequel to "Courage and Fear")
Leo McGarry sat alone. His elbows propped up on a table in the near deserted hospital cafeteria, Leo tried to relax....for the first time in nearly a week. It had been six days since Air Force One had been hijacked, a long six days. Leo had been aboard the president's official plane accompanied by his daughter, Mallory, Abbey Bartlet and Sam Seaborn. After hours of sheer terror, the ordeal had come to an "end". The truth was that the real fight was just beginning. Mallory was recovering after being shot.....and he was trying desperately to hold on. The whole thing had been too much to handle. He was still in Argentina with Abbey waiting until Mallory was healthy enough travel.
I need to talk to Jed.....thought Leo. His best friend would be of some comfort. He knew that The President of the United States would understand how he was feeling. They could, afterall, almost read eachother's minds.
A cup of coffee suddenly appeared on the table. Leo looked up to see Abbey Bartlet and he forced a weak smile at the sight of his dear friend.
"Hey," Abbey said, pushing the coffee towards Leo. She slowly sat down, taking a sip of her own coffee.
"Hi." he replied, accepting it with a nod of thanks.
"I thought you could use some caffeine....I sure can." Abbey said with a short laugh. Leo had to hand it to her. She was doing an incredible job of hiding her misery. He had known Abbey for a very long time. They were really close and he knew damn well that she was feeling exactly like he was.
She nodded and surveyed the empty cafeteria. "So. It's pretty quiet in here....you feel like talking?"
Leo thought for a moment. "Do you?"
Abbey shrugged. "We've been doing this for a week now.....we're going to have to sometime." She became quiet.
"I suppose you're right." he answered simply. After a long pause Abbey cleared her throat.
"Uh, tommorow, yes."
"Okay." Abbey stared at her best friend, truly worried about him and herself as well.
Leo focused on the table, not wanting to meet Abbey's worried gaze. His nerves were getting the better of him and for the second time that day, he felt sick. He tried to ignore it and he decided to think about something else besides the queasy feeling that was beginning to invade once again. Mallory became the topic of the conversation.
"How was she before you came down?" Leo asked, concern evident in his voice.
Abbey shrugged. "Tired. She said she wanted to get some sleep....that was my cue to leave."
"Is she still pretty quiet?" asked Leo. Mallory had become very quiet in the last few days.
"Yeah, but let's give it some time before we worry about whether she's depressed or not. She's sleeping a lot-"
"Well, that's good. Isn't it?"
Abbey nodded. "Yes. It's important that she rests as much as possible. She's doing so much better now....physically."
"She is," agreed Leo. "I....I want to thank-you, Abbey."
Leo smiled. "For staying. For being here for her....for me."
Abbey smiled. "I couldn't imagine not being here. I couldn't possibly leave either of you here.....never."
"I know." Leo took her hand in his and squeezed it tightly.
"You're both very important to me, Leo......"
"I know that too." he replied. "I also know that Mallory appreciates you being here. She loves you so much. I know she's gotten herself into this little depression but she wouldn't be recovering at all without your help."
Abbey nodded. She didn't say anything. Without him realizing it, Leo was finally starting to open up to her....he was talking about what happened. She didn't want him to stop. It was helping her too. He had spoken very rarely in the past week. After it was determined that Mallory would recover fully, he had become silent.
Leo buried his face in his hands. "God....I can't stop thinking about it."
"That's okay. Neither can I." Abbey assured him. She moved next to him and wrapped her arm around his shoulders.
"It's all I ever think about...."
"Things can only get better, Leo. That's what I keep telling myself."
"It won't work for me," explained Leo. "The hijacking....Mallory, Sam....you....even Richards, are always on my mind. Is my life going to always be like this?!"
Abbey choked back the tears that threatened to fall. "You know the answer to that, Leo. You can overcome this. You're one of the strongest men I know."
Leo looked up at her, staring her straight in the eyes. "I don't think I can, Abbey."
"Sam?" Charlie Young asked almost timidly.
"Are you comfortable?"
Sam Seaborn sat on a large bed in the residence at the White House, propped up by nearly twenty pillows.
"Yeah. Thanks, Charlie."
"Yep. Thanks." Charlie left, closing the bedroom door behind him.
Sam was staying at the residence at the President and First Lady's insistance. He had been sent back to Washington at the First Lady's insistance. She hadn't wanted him to stay alone so she had arranged for Sam to stay with Jed and remain at the residence for a few weeks. He hadn't wanted to leave Mallory but everyone had assured him that she would be fine and that he needed to take care of himself.
Sam fiddled with the bed covers. He was actually quite comfortable. Aside from his concern over his girlfriend and the mental state of Leo and Abbey, he was doing well. His head was healing nicely. However, he was still reliving the nightmare of the terrible flight over and over in his head. They had never gotten to Europe....he was disappointed as well yet thankful that they were all still alive.
Josh knocked at the door a few minutes after Charlie left.
"Can I come in?"
Josh walked in and sat down in a chair next to the bed. He studied his best friend's face.
"You okay?" he asked. Sam nodded.
"For now. I'm not thinking about later. I am living one minute at a time here," he replied.
Josh nodded. "I understand that completely. I can relate!"
"I know exactly how you felt now...you know.....after the shooting. You just can't get it out of your mind."
Sam shook his head and decided to change the subject. "So....what's going on with, uh, presidential business?"
"The President is still flustered. He's worried sick over Mrs. Bartlet, Leo and Mallory." Josh reported. "At the same time he's trying to some things out that have to do with Cuban refugees...."
Sam shook his head. "Okay, Josh. If I hear any more I'm going to want to get involved so I have stopped listening."
"Well thank-you for letting me know."
"Listen. When you're feeling up to it or rather when the First Lady decides to free you from the Residence,we should do something.....football game, basketball...."
Sam nodded. "Yeah. Thanks Josh. That sounds great."
Josh started to leave and then remembered something. "Oh, Sam. Mrs. Bartlet called. It looks like Mallory will be transported back to Washington in the next couple of days. She's apparently doing very well."
"Really? That's great news!"
Sam sank back against the pillows on the bed as he watched his friend leave. As happy as he was, he worried about how he would react when Mallory came home. He knew he couldn't wait to see her but what would he say? What would be able to tell her? Would he be able to comfort her?
Jenny McGarry, Leo's ex-wife, paced nervously in the hospital's main entrance. Her eyes darted around looking for Leo or Abbey. They had just been notified that she had arrived and someone was supposed to be on their way down to meet her. Jenny had been worried sick over her daughter's condition and hadn't been able to fly to Argentina. Now, she was finally there. She had been told that Mallory would be fine and recover almost completely but she wanted to see for herself.
"Jenny!" Jenny turned around to see Abbey coming towards her.
"Oh, God....Abbey!" she ran towards the First Lady and after a quick embrace, Jenny found herself being led down a corridor and up the stairs to Mallory's room.
"I'm so glad you're here....." Abbey began.
"I'm sorry I couldn't get here earlier....there were no flights and I couldn't-" Jenny was babbling a mile a minute.
"It's okay. You're here now." Abbey stopped in front of Mallory's room. Jenny immediately moved to enter the room but Abbey held her back for a moment.
"What is it?" Jenny asked, almost alarmed by Abbey's expression.
"I, uh..." Abbey began. "I just want to warn you that she is a bit withdrawn. She's not really talkative which is understandable. She knows what happened to her, she can remember almost everything that happened on the plane, which is good and bad. Like I told you on the phone, she's recovering well physically.....she's just having a hard time mentally....we all are. She's had nightmares-"
"Thank-you for the update Abbey. I'm sure she'll feel better now that I'm here-" Jenny cut her friend short.
"Jenny," Abbey interrupted.
"I just want to you to realize that she may not respond to you the way you're hoping she will....."
Jenny seemed impatient. "I don't get it. You told me she's recovering well...."
"Yes, but she's altered. She's not the same person she usually is right now."
"That's expected, right?"
"Yes. We just need to get her spirits up." Abbey released Jenny's arm from her grasp. "Go on in."
Jenny shot Abbey a confused look and then proceeded into her daughter's room. Leo was already inside. Abbey entered and remained close to the door. Jenny patted Leo's shoulder and sat down near him. She was staring at Mallory, alarmed by all the machines surrounding her, all the beeping, and her daughter's pale face.
Jenny bit her lip, wishing she had come sooner. "Hi, baby."
Mallory looked plainly at her mother, her expression not changing at all. Jenny was heartbroken. She couldn't stand to see Mallory like this.
"Honey?" Jenny took Mallory's hand in hers and kissed it gently.
"Mom...." whispered Mallory.
"Yeah, I'm here sweetie....finally." Jenny tried not to cry.
Mallory just looked at her with sad eyes. She turned her head to face away from the other three people in her dark room. Jenny bowed her head. She hadn't wanted to believe Abbey but now she knew that she was exactly right. Mallory was definitely withdrawn. It was like she didn't want to see anyone.
Jenny turned and whispered painfully to Leo. "Is she like this with you?"
Leo thought a for a moment. "Yeah but just for the past two days. Before that she was talking much more....."
"Lot's of tears." Abbey added quietly. "More in the last couple days."
Jenny shook her head as if she didn't want to believe it. She knew she would change that. She wanted to be able to.
"Where's Sam?" she asked bluntly. "He should be here with her!" she was getting frantic.
Abbey tried to silence her. "I sent him back to Washington to rest. He's staying in the Residence with Jed. He doesn't need to be here. It would be too hard for both of them."
Jenny put her hands to her head and then looked up at Abbey and Leo. "Can I have some time alone with her please?!" It was a question that came out as a demand.
"Sure." said Abbey, stepping outside immediately.
"Okay, Jenny." Leo stood slowly. He had never seen his wife in such controlled hysterics. He paused before he left the room. "You know, if you think this is bad-"
"Never mind." Leo turned to leave.
"What are you trying to say?" Jenny asked impatiently. Leo frowned.
"Nothing. Sit with her, Jenny and for godsakes don't get all hysterical in front of her." Leo said angrily.
Leo met Abbey out in the hall.
"I warned her," Abbey sighed.
"Jenny would never believe you. She's a wonderful woman but she's stubborn. That was one reason why we had problems. It was her only fault.....the rest were mine. She had to see for herself, Abbey."
"I just want to make it all better."
"I know. It's in your nature. It's part of your profession and your personality to want to fix everything."
"That I know....It's just upsetting for Jenny to have to see her this way. It's upsetting for any of us to have to see her this way," said Abbey.
"Listen, Abbey. I don't really want to talk about this right now. I'm going to call Jed and check up on Sam."
Abbey rolled her eyes. "Leo! We need to talk sooner or later-" she stopped herself, knowing that it was of no use. Leo wouldn't do anything he didn't feel like doing. She walked her friend walk away and then sank to the floor and rested her head against the wall. The way things were going, this nightmare would never be over.
C.J. Cregg looked at the four cards in her hand and then across the table at Toby.
"Toby, do you have an ace?" she asked with a hopeful smile.
Toby looked at C.J. disgustedly. "Go fish"
C.J. took a card and then layed down a pair of aces. "Wow. I'm pretty lucky today."
"I can't believe I'm playing 'Go Fish', actually, I can't believe that we're all playing." Toby said, rolling his eyes.
C.J. smiled. "Just play, Toby. Just shut-up and play." There were small titters of laughter from everyone at the card table. C.J. looked around to see who she would ask for a card.
Margaret, Leo's assistant, sat next to C.J. Next to Margaret was Sam and next to Sam was Josh. On Josh's other side was Ainsley Hayes who had been away when the hijacking had taken place. Finally, next to Ainsley was Mrs. Landingham and next to her was Donna who was on C.J.'s other side. It was indeed a very big card game.
"I can't believe we're playing 'Go Fish'!" Toby said again. "Why is that? Remind me!" he said sarcastically.
"To piss you off," said Josh. Toby shook his head.
"C.J.?" asked Toby.
"Oh it was definitely to piss you off," she agreed.
"Toby. The reason we are playing 'Go Fish', this quite understandable and easy card game, is to make Sam feel better and when we asked Sam what would cheer him up, he said, to me and several others, that it would be quite interesting to make you mad and-" Toby cut her off.
"Well, at least you didn't think it was called 'Goldfish'" announced Ainsley.
"Who thought it was 'Goldfish' instead of 'Go Fish'?"
"Donna-" Ainsley began.
"Thanks, Ainsley." spoke up Donna as everyone else erupted in laughter. Sam, temporarily forgetting his troubles, was laughing too.
"Well that's just lovely, Donna. The truth is, I could care less if it was 'Goldfish' or 'Go Fish' or whatever." Toby stood. "Now, if you all would excuse me, I've had enough of this juvenile crap and I'm ready to move on to bigger and better things. I'll be in the mural room, boys and girls." Toby left. He laughed when he was sure no one could see him. Secretly, he had found the whole situation hilarious but he had a reputation to protect!
C.J. knew that Toby had found it all funny. She smiled at the rest of the people at the table.
"Well, now that he's gone and we've all had our amusement for the day, who's up for some poker?"
Jenny spent two hours at Mallory's side and she was in floods of tears the whole time. Mallory barely uttered five words while she was there. Jenny felt deflated. It was like she had lost her little girl. When Jenny came out of Mallory's room, she was met by Abbey who looked absolutely exhausted.
"She wouldn't talk. I tried to-"
"I know.....but she'll get through this...." Abbey tried to be optimistic.
"Jenny, give her a little time. She hasn't had enough time to come to terms with all of this."
Jenny shook her head, her anger rising quickly. "I want to see the bastard who did this to my daughter." Abbey was taken aback and was suddenly at a terrible loss for words.
"Did you hear me, Abigail?"
Abbey stared at Leo's emotional wife silently deciding what she was going to say in reply. "No." was all that she could manage.
"Excuse me?" Jenny seemed genuinely confused.
"No, Jenny. You don't want to see him." Abbey tried to keep her tone soft but what she really wanted to do was shout.
"I need to see him. I want him to hear what I have to say, I want him to realize what he has done to me, to Leo, to Mallory....I want him to pay-" Jenny would have kept on talking if Abbey hadn't stopped her.
"You don't want to see him, Jenny," she repeated. "It's not going to change things and whether you believe it or not, it's not going to make any difference."
"Shut-up, Abbey! Just agree with me for once damnit....I want to see the man who hurt her like this!" demanded Jenny. Abbey had never seen her act in this way before. She could see several people looking over at them.
"For God's sake, keep your voice down," Abbey muttered, dragging a furious Jenny over into a more secluded area. "I'm telling you that it's in your best interest not to see him. He'll be going to jail for life, he's going to be punished. Believe me, Jenny, I want him to be punished severly....he has caused so much pain and what kills me is that he doesn't feel any guilt. I've seen him, Jenny. I yelled at him, I shouted...I.....I told him how much I despise him but it really did no good at all. He caused this....he doesn't care....we have to deal with it now and nothing you say or try to do to him is going to change what's already happened. A part of me wishes he was dead, but think about it....he would be getting off so easy....."
Jenny shook her head. "No.....you're wrong....he needs to know how he's hurt her Abbey!"
Abbey sighed and tried to calm herself before going on."Jenny! He's doesn't give a damn what he's done to us! If he did, why would he have hijacked the plane in the first place?! Listen to what I'm saying. Seeing that unworthy excuse for a man is only going to hurt you which is going to satisfy him even more!"
Jenny turned away from the outraged First Lady. She clenched her fists. "Where the hell do you get off telling me what I should do about my daughter and whether or not I should see the man who almost killed her?! How in hell could you possibly understand how I feel right now-"
"How can you be so selfish?" Abbey practically spat out.
"My daughter will barely even talk to me, Abigail." Jenny began, between sobs. "Her spirit has been taken away by someone who, according to you, could give a damn and I want to know why he did this....Why?!"
"He didn't need a reason." Abbey said sorrowfully. "He just did it."
Jenny shook with anger, "How do you know so much?! Why am I even listening to you?! You don't know what it feels like to have your daughter almost die and now, when I can finally be here for her....after days of anguish she's just lying there, barely speaking to me.....you don't know how it feels! You are not one to be giving advice right now, Abbey, because you couldn't possibly have any idea what this feels like!"
Jenny's rather disturbing speech hit Abbey hard. She couldn't believe what Jenny was saying to her. Abbey almost had to force herself from strangling her.
"Where the hell do you get off saying that I don't understand?!! The hell I don't! I was on that plane too, damnit. You seem to be forgetting that. I am hurt by this too, are you forgetting that as well? My God, Jenny, I was up there with her in dying in my arms and trying to think straight. I love Mallory just like family....and I love you just like a sister...Jenny, you have to understand that. If you had seen what I saw up there, the blood, the terror, Mallory's frightened expression......god, she could have died! I had to tell her it would all be okay when I really had no damn clue if we would live through it. I had to pretend to be strong for her....and I had to be her doctor at the same time. You didn't see the things we had to do to keep her alive.You have no right to say what you did." Abbey took a deep breath "This isn't really about us, anyway! We need to be concerned for Mallory. We need to help her! Do you honestly think seeing Richards is going to be positive for Mallory in any way?"
Jenny was very quiet. She didn't answer. Knowing that Abbey was right, she turned and faced the wall. She couldn't face her any longer. It was true, she hadn't really thought about Abbey's feelings. She knew very well that she had saved her daughter's life and she had thanked her many times in the days before.....over the phone.
"I...I wasn't there for her, Abbey," Jenny stammered. "I should have been here earlier." Jenny was now in a vulnerable state, openly crying. "I suppose I'm not one to judge anyone or anything since I've only been here for a short time."
"Well I've been here from the very start." With that, Abbey turned and walked away in search of a place to calm down.
Feeling guilty, Jenny sat down in a nearby chair and as she cried she wondered if she would ever be able to find a way to apologize to Abbey.
Jenny finally decided to talk to Abbey the next morning. She carefully planned out what she was going to say and then set out to look for the First Lady. She found her in Mallory's room, sitting next to the bed, reading glasses on, carefully looking over Mallory's chart. Jenny could see Mallory staring at Abbey in silence. After a few minutes, Abbey looked up and was almost startled by Jenny's appearance. She looked as though she had been crying all night.
Jenny cleared her throat. "Good morning, Abbey."
Abbey nodded. "Jenny".
Jenny seemed hesitant. "Abbey, I, uh, I just want to apologize for what I said to you. I know an apology just isn't enough but-"
Abbey removed the stethescope that hung around her neck, stood up and moved to listen to Mallory's breathing. Before she began, she looked up at Jenny. "I'll just be another minute or two here, let's talk outside," she suggested. Jenny nodded and moved back closer to the door as Abbey checked Mallory over. After Abbey had taken Mallory's blood pressure, listened to her heart and injected her with a mild sedative, the two women retreated into the hall, both of them unsure of what the other one was going to say.
"I was wrong." Jenny admitted instantly. "I shouldn't have said what I did yesterday. I was being insensitive and terribly selfish."
Abbey looked at Jenny and nodded. "Thank-you."
"I am so grateful, Abbey. I owe you everything. You saved her life and I've done nothing but act like it means nothing. I'm so sorry." Jenny and Abbey hugged.
"I'm sorry too." said Abbey, wrapping her arms around her distraught friend. "I shouldn't have yelled at you...."
"Oh, no...I deserved it. Besides, you weren't yelling, I was."
"Well, that is true" Abbey said with a short laugh.
"Please forgive me, Abbey. I can't imagine what you're feeling and I had no right to say what I did. I can't believe the words that came from my own mouth!"
"It's okay, Jenny. We're all feeling this. You do have a good reason to be upset."
"I never meant to take it out on you, though. You're one of my best friends and you didn't deserve that."
Abbey smiled. "Well, let's just forget about it, okay? We need to help Mal get through this and take her back home. She doesn't need all of us falling to pieces around her."
"You're right about that!" Jenny replied. "Listen, if you want to talk-"
"I do, but in a little while. I'm trying to get Leo to open up too....thanks, Jenny."
"No problem. How is she this morning?"
Abbey put a hand on Jenny's shoulder. "She's doing very well. I'm still giving her sedatives because she needs to rest but I do believe that we can transport her back to the States either tommorow or the next day."
"In an airplane?" Jenny asked.
Abbey hadn't really thought about that. "Well, of course." she said hesitantly. She didn't really want to get on another plane just yet but she knew it was necessary. "A private plane."
"How do you think you guys will be able to handle that?" Jenny inquired sympathetically.
"I'm sure we'll be just fine. Sam made it home without freaking out. Then again, I gave him something that knocked him out for a good portion of that trip. He went back with Jed and he told me everything." Abbey told her. "I can do the same for Mallory."
"Probably a good idea...." Jenny said under her breath.
"Yeah." Abbey held her breath. "Well, I suppose I'll have to fly again sometime so it may as well be in the next few days."
"I'm going to go sit with Mallory. If you need me, you know where to find me." Jenny said. She walked back into Mallory's room. Abbey stared after her wondering how she would be able to get through another plane trip.
After a long chat with Leo, Abbey phoned Jed.
"Hi Mrs. Landingham, it's Abbey Bartlet. Can I speak with the President please?"
Mrs. Landingham smiled on the other end. "Certainly, Ma'am. Nice to hear from you."
"Nice to hear from you too," Abbey said politely. Seconds later she heard her husband's voice.
"Hi babe. What's going on?" Abbey asked, sitting down so she could relax while she talked.
"Well, I've been in over a thousand meetings today....."
Abbey laughed. "Stressed out?"
"I guess you could put it that way," the President replied.
"Uh, listen." Abbey began. "Mallory's going to be released tommorow."
"That's wonderful news."
"Yeah. Leo's looking forward to going home, Mallory doesn't know yet, Jenny has been a basket case and as for me, well, I'm tired." Abbey told him. "But I'll be home soon and I can't wait!"
"Neither can I, Abbey. Neither can I." Jed assured her. "Zoey will be thrilled."
"I miss her. I miss you. I'm really looking forward to tommorow" Abbey said softly. She was one hundred percent ready to go home and she was ecstatic that Mallory was coming home too.
"How's Leo doing?"
Abbey sighed. "We sat down and talked today," she began. "He's keeping it all inside. I'm so worried about him right now. I think being back at home will be good for him and for the rest of us too."
"I wish I could do something to help him," muttered Jed. He was frustrated. His best friend could always help him but Jed felt that he wasn't able to help Leo this time. He felt terrible about it.
"Just be there for him," suggested Abbey. "You always are."
Later that night, Abbey crept into Mallory's room. It was quiet. Leo and Jenny were off getting something to eat and Abbey wanted to talk to Mallory to tell her the good news.
"Hi honey," Abbey said as she sat down close to the bed.
"Hi Abbey." Mallory said quietly. Abbey was relieved that Mallory had said that much.
"I have some really good news. We're going back to the States tommorow. We're going to transport you to the hospital in Washington and you'll continue your recovery there." When Mallory remained silent, Abbey continued. "I think you're coming along very well and I think you'll do even better once we're back in the States."
Mallory bit her lip in effort to keep from crying. "I just want to go home," she begged.
"Mal, I don't think you're ready for that just yet." Abbey said gently.
"I need to be home, Abbey. I need to be home," she replied softly.
"Mal. I honestly don't think you're ready for that yet. You need to be in the hospital for at least another week. You're condition hasn't improved that much just yet. You need to give this a little more time. I'll be there with you, sweetie."
Mallory didn't reply. She just stared off into space trying to shut out everything. She wanted to be home more that anything. She wanted to be with Sam, she wanted to see Abbey as vibrant as she was before all of this, she wanted her father to be happy again. Was it too much to ask? She couldn't force out another word because she was her heart was full of sorrow.
Abbey rubbed Mallory's back. "I'll try to work something out, Mal. I will really try." Mallory turned to face her. "I know how you're feeling, I, uh, I think I understand.....Maybe I could work it out so you stay at the Residence, it's close by and I can monitor your recovery....I don't think Dr. Isen or anyone else would object to that....."
Mallory's eyes brightened a little. "Please....I don't want to stay in the hospital....." she forced out.
"Okay, sweetie. I'll look into that then." Abbey leaned back hoping that she had made a fair promise. She could take care of Mallory at the Residence without a problem. She would have a lot of help. Abbey knew very well that Mallory was just going to become even more depressed if she stayed in the hospital any longer. They needed to take her somewhere she had been happy in the past. The residence at the White House wasn't far off.
"Abbey?" Mallory said weakly.
"Yes, what is it Mal? Are you in pain?"
"No.....I just....I'm just so sorry that I'm like this-" Mallory began crying which was very painful.
"It's okay, honey. We all understand. We're just so worried about you." Abbey said, taking her into her arms.
"No....no it's not....I just can't stop thinking about it.....I want it to go away....but it won't." Mallory sobbed.
"I know...." Abbey replied softly.
"I'm so scared, Abbey." Mallory admitted slowly.
"It's okay to be scared. Keep talking to me, Mallory. It's just so good to hear you talking to us......"
"I...can't talk about it...I just can't." Mallory protested.
Abbey shook her head. "You have to, Mal. You have to let it all out. It's okay, sweetie." Abbey felt tears coming to her own eyes. She was overjoyed that Mallory was starting to come around and talk about the hijacking. She only wished Leo and Jenny were around to hear it.
"I just want to go home, Abbey."
"Me too, Mal." Abbey closed her eyes and held Mallory as she cried.
The next day Abbey, Jenny, Leo and Mallory found themselves boarding a small plane along with several secret service agents. Abbey eyed them warily. The airplane had approximately twenty seats and a little sitting area. It was a nice little plane and if they all hadn't been so nervous, they might have been able to enjoy it. Mallory wasn't taking it well at all. She hadn't really been up walking much before then so she was restricted to a wheelchair and the couch where she could lay down. Jenny wasn't happy that Mallory was being moved the way she was but she had to deal with it. Leo sat in a seat near Mallory and he seemed to be okay. Jenny sat across from him and Abbey sat in the seat next to the couch so she could keep a close watch on Mallory.
"Mallory should be asleep any minute now. She's had something that will induce a nice peaceful sleep for the flight." Abbey told Leo as she sat down.
"Good," Leo began. "Thanks, Abbey."
"Dr. Isen said that Mallory should be admitted to the hospital in Washington for observation. I know it's fairly soon to let her go home, but I don't think she'll do well in the hospital. She needs to be with us. I want her to stay at the residence, Leo. You too if you'd like." Abbey said, tightening her seatbelt.
"If you think she's ready, then I think that's fine." Leo agreed.
"We'll need to get her up and walking around a bit in the next few days, I want someone with her at all times in the residence. I'll be there most the time......"
"Do you think staying in the residence will help?"
"I do," began Abbey. "Right now she just wants to feel secure and I think a familiar and friendly atmosphere is best for her. Sam will be around and I think that they need to be together."
Leo nodded. "I think you're right."
It was a long flight back to Washington D.C. but it was pleasantly uneventful. Leo had slept most the way, Jenny hadn't been very sociable and Abbey just kept a close watch on Mallory, who didn't wake up once. By the time they landed, they were all ready to go home. Jenny decided to head to her own house and Leo, Abbey and Mallory carefully transported Mallory back to the Residence with a lot of help.
"Careful..." Abbey warned Josh as he slowly and carefully helped Mallory from the car and into her wheelchair.
"I've got her, Mrs. Bartlet." Josh assured her. Jed ran out to greet his wife.
"It's so good to have you home," he said, enveloping her in his arms. She kissed him.
"I'm so glad to be here finally," Abbey told him, never wanting to let him out of her embrace.
Josh smiled at the couple. "Sorry to interrupt, but where am I taking Mallory?"
Abbey moved towards the wheelchair. "I'll show you. Let's just take it really slowly. Mallory? You let us know if you're in a lot of pain."
Mallory nodded. "Where's Sam?" she asked, looking around the entrance to the residence.
Josh shrugged. "I think he's upstairs in his room."
"He's staying here too?" Mallory asked hopefully.
"Yes," Jed told her. "He's been anxiously awaiting your arrival my dear."
"Can you take me to see him, Abbey? Please?" Mallory begged.
Abbey shook her head. "No. You're going right to bed. He can come and see you. I'll make sure he's there as soon as we've got you organized." Mallory looked satisfied with that deal. Abbey could already see an improvement in Mallory. She didn't seem as depressed. Leo was positively beaming. He noticed it too.
"So....how do we get her upstairs?" Toby asked, eyeing the grand staircase.
"No problem there, guys." Josh said. With that, he gently scooped Mallory up in his arms and started up the stairs. Leo folded up the wheelchair and followed. Jed and Abbey, hand in hand, followed him. Zoey came around the corner just then, her eyes brightening when she saw Mallory.
"Mal! You're home!"
"Hi, Zoey" Mallory managed to reply. Zoey followed everyone else up the stairs, curious to see how Mallory was doing.
Once Mallory was settled in one of the bedrooms and resting comfortably, Sam came in to see her. Everyone else immediately filed out of the room to let them have some time alone. Abbey shut the door behind her. Sam sat down on the edge of Mallory's bed and took her hand into his own.
"So, you're staying here for awhile?" Sam began, almost nervously.
Mallory nodded slowly. "Abbey arranged it. It was here or the hospital."
"Well, this is better than another hospital." Sam said tensly. He tried to smile.
Mallory took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, Sam. I'm not very sociable right now."
"That's okay," he replied. "Neither am I, really."
Mallory sighed. "You're doing better than I am."
Sam remained silent for a minute and then he went on. "Does it still hurt a lot?"
"Are you still in a lot of pain?" Sam asked, re-wording the question.
Mallory bit her lip. "Not the kind of pain you're thinking of."
Sam nodded slowly. "Can't stop thinking about it, huh?" Mallory shook her head and felt tears come to her eyes.
"No." she cried. Sam leaned forward and hugged her. "I'm so sorry," she said, holding him tightly.
"You shouldn't be sorry about anything, baby. I've missed you so much this past week. I desperately wanted to be there with you but Abbey said it would probably be better if I came back here. You saved my life, Mal and I would do absolutely anything for you. I just want you to know that I would have rather stayed......"
"It was right for you to come back here. I was just miserable in the hospital anyway. I still am......"
"I'll get you through this, Mal. We all will." Sam vowed. He knew the pain she was feeling inside and desperately wished he could take it away.
"I love you, Sam. No matter what. I'll always love you."
"I love you too."
"C.J.!!!!" Josh Lyman yelled from his office.
"What!!??" she replied, equally as loud. She appeared in his office a few seconds later, a folder full of papers under her arm.
"What's the news on Richards?"
"Richards? The hijacker? He's awaiting trial along with the two accomplices. He's apparently recovering very well." C.J. said disgustedly. "Why?"
"Sam wants to know," replied Josh, standing up and coming out from behind his desk.
"Why does Sam want to know?"
Josh hesitated. "He....he wants to testify."
"No, at the President's next gala-"
"Josh. Don't use that sarcastic tone with me." C.J. snapped.
"Yes. In court." Josh replied finally.
"Okay," said C.J. "But I don't know why he wants to. It's already obvious that Richards is guilty."
"I think he feels he owes this to Mallory. You know, to see that Richards gets punished accordingly."
"Yep," C.J. jotted something down on her notepad. "I'll let the Press know."
"Okay. You've also got that the President and First Lady are having a Memorial Service for those who didn't survive, right?"
"Got it covered." C.J. turned to leave but saw the pained look on her friend's face. "You okay?"
"Yes. Are you sure?"
"I'm fine, C.J. Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm leaving." C.J. left Josh's office quickly, not wanting to wade any further into any subject involving the hijacking of the airplane. She was trying to shut it all out of her mind.
Mallory's first night in the residence was uneventful. With the help of pain medication, she slept almost peacefully. She was in a daze the next morning when Abbey came in to check on her.
"Morning, Mal...." Abbey said, trying to be cheerful. She sat down on the bed.
"Morning." Mallory replied. She was still under the influence of powerful drugs and they made her feel as if a haze were seperating her from Abbey. She tried to sit up, anxious to prove to Abbey that she was making progress. She became dizzy.
"I don't think so." Abbey said, gently easing Mallory back down. "Pretty groggy this morning, huh?"
"Yeah. I'd say so." Mallory said. She took a breath as a wave of nausea came over her.
"You okay?" Abbey asked, concerned by the look on Mallory's face.
"Yes. I just sat up too quickly, that's all." she said.
"Well, you need to rest this morning," began Abbey. "This afternoon I want to get you up and walking down the hall."
"Sure," Mallory panted. She was still trying not to throw up.
Abbey took out her stethescope and listened to Mallory's heart and lungs. "Take a deep breath." Mallory did. "Good. One more." Abbey was very satisfied with the results. "Looking good kiddo," she said as she put her stethescope on top of the dresser.
"Are you going to be around here today, Abbey?" Mallory asked in a tiny voice.
"Yep, unless something there's some terrible situation in the West Wing and they need to bring me in to ask me for my advice-" Abbey laughed and stopped herself. "I'll be here, sweetie."
"Good. Sam is the only other person here and, well, our conversations have been tense."
Abbey looked surprised. "Why?"
"I don't know, Abbey."
"I think you both just need time. You love Sam and he loves you more than anything." Abbey assured her. "Trust me, it will all work out. Just give it a few weeks or so."
"Well, we've both said how much we love eachother but....but it just doesn't seem the same. Our love hasn't changed but our lives have and it feels so different." Mallory said.
"Your life is different now, but I think you'll realize soon that it won't always be like it is right now. You've just been through something terrible....and you need to take things slowly. That's what I'm trying to do."
"You're so much stronger than I am." Mallory whispered.
"I don't think so." Abbey told her. "You're pretty strong, honey."
Rick Richards was sentenced to life in prison two days later in court. Ray and Brummett, the two accomplices were sentenced to fifteen years as well. Sam left the court room with Ainsley Hayes who had gone along with him, partly to support Sam and partly out of curiosity. Since she had been away during the whole ordeal, she wanted to piece together for herself everything that happened.
"So....." Ainsley began as they left the courtroom and walked down the front steps. "Are you satisfied with the sentence?"
Sam nodded. "Yes."
"Did it bother you to see him again?" Ainsley asked gently.
"Hell, yes." Sam replied, looking at his friend. "At least he got what he deserved. He shot Mallory and killed several others, he deserves to be behind bars for the rest of his life."
Ainsley nodded her agreement. "Definitely."
"Although even knowing he'll spend his life in prison doesn't make up for what he did to all of us on that plane."
"Of course not. Nothing can."
"Thanks for coming with me, Ainsley. I didn't think I wanted anyone there with me but now I'm glad I did. Thank-you."
"Your welcome. I'm glad I could be there for you," she replied.
Zoey entered the kitchen in the residence and sat down next to her mother and father.
"What's going on?" she asked casually, arranging herself in her chair.
"Not much," replied Jed. It was late in the evening and he was almost ready for bed.
"How was your evening with Charlie?" asked Abbey.
"Where did you go?"
Zoey sighed and tried to remember the name of the Restaurant she had just been to. "Uh, can't remember. Ask Charlie."
"What did you have?" asked Jed.
"Food," Zoey replied with a smile.
"Mom? How's Mallory?"
Abbey snapped to attention. "Not too bad."
"How long will she be staying?"
"That depends on her, Zo."
"How long will Sam be staying?"
"Well, I would say probably as long as Mal is here," Abbey told her daughter softly. She knew very well that Sam would want to be with Mallory as much as he could.
"Danny, go away," C.J. said when she saw the red-headed reporter standing by her office. C.J. opened the door, trying to ignore him.
"Come on. Let me come in." Danny said. "You know you want to."
C.J. narrowed her eyes. "No. I don't want to right now. I'm busy."
"Don't start with me, Danny. Not right now. If you desperately need to piss me off today can you do a little later....in two hours maybe?"
"I don't want to piss you off, C.J. I just want to know more about Sam testifying in court."
"You'll find out tommorow at the briefing. Get lost."
"Fine. You should be nicer to me, you know." Danny laughed.
C.J. rolled her eyes and tried to hide a smile. It didn't work. "Okay, Danny. I should be nicer to you. Now go away!"
"Okay. See you later." Danny took off. C.J. couldn't help herself and watched him walk away, almost disappointed in herself for not asking him to come in and talk. Almost.
Shortly after Danny's departure, there was a knock at the door. C.J. turned around to find herself staring at Sam.
"Sam...." she said, clearly surprised.
"You're not working today, are you?" she asked, a bit confused.
"Uh, no. I just came by to say hi to everyone. I'm getting kind of sick of the residence."
C.J. hugged him. "Well, it's nice to see you up and around....just like normal."
"You just kick Danny out?" Sam asked, curiously. "I saw him walking down the hall".
"Yeah. I'll bet he was laughing."
C.J. swallowed and looked at Sam sympathetically. "How are you doing?"
Sam shrugged. "Okay, I think. I'm just worried about Mallory."
"Well, we all are Sam."
"I just wish I could help her put this all behind her," Sam told her.
C.J. smiled. "You are helping her. You just don't realize it." She put her arm around Sam's shoulders. "Listen. Ainsley and I were talking and we kind of thought we would go out for some drinks Friday night. Josh, Toby and Donna are going to be there. Will you come?"
Sam hesitated. He wanted to say yes but he couldn't do it. "Mallory won't be there....I, uh...."
"That's okay, Sam. Whatever you're comfortable with."
"Thank-you anyway, C.J., I really appreciate what you're trying to do for me but I just need to stay with Mallory right now."
"I understand." C.J. replied. She had wished desperately that Sam would agree but she knew it would be impossible to change his mind. "Maybe some other time."
"Yeah. Sounds good." Sam forced a smile and then walked off in direction of the Residence.
Abbey and Jenny walked down the hall of the Residence to the front door.
"I'm really seeing a difference in her, Abbey." Jenny said, her face glowing.
"She is much better than she was, that's for sure." Abbey agreed, escorting Jenny outside. After a relatively long visit with Mallory, Jenny was ready to go home for the night. Abbey yawned. She herself was ready for a good night's sleep.
"I can't believe the progress she's made since she's been back. It's amazing."
"It certainly is."
Jenny hugged her friend. "Good night, Abbey. I'll see you tommorow."
"Night, Jenny." Abbey replied. She waved and then made her way back into the house and up to her bedroom, pausing at Zoey's door to make sure she was safe in bed and then at Mallory's door to do the same.Assuming Sam was fine as well, she went into her own room, Jed was already lying in bed, reading glasses on, studying the first page of the newspaper.
"I thought you would be asleep by now, Jed."
"I was just talking with Sam."
"And he didn't have much to say."
"Sounds like a really interesting conversation," Abbey said sarcastically.
"I made him talk to me. He's so worried, Abigail."
"About Mallory you mean?"
"Yes. He wants everything to be the way it used to be."
Abbey sighed. "It never will be, Jed. That bastard Richards took that away."
"Leo's still avoiding the subject."
Crawling into bed next to her husband, Abbey nodded. "Yeah. He refuses to talk about what happened on the plane. He's scared and he won't admit it. But we know Leo very well and we both know that he'll come around soon."
"I know," Jed agreed, setting the newspaper on the night table and enveloping his wife in his embrace."Thank god Mallory's finally started talking again."
Abbey closed her eyes. "She's still got so far to go. Me too, Jed. I'm hiding behind other things. I'm forgetting it completely for most the time and then it hits me every so often and I just want to cry."
"How can I help, Abbey?"
"You're helping right now. Just keep holding me, " Abbey breathed.
Mallory tossed and turned in bed all night. She was having the same nightmare she had been having since the hijacking-only this time, it really seemed real. It was the same scene as always: She was pushing Sam down out of the way.....her father's face.....Sam calling to her......seeing the blood.......her blood......Abbey coming towards her, her face grim, her hands pressing down on her stomache...hard......the pain.....Richards threatening her father, Sam, Abbey.....Abbey yelling at him.....Sam by her side.....Abbey calling to her......calling......darkness. The nightmare usually ended there and started again at the beginning but that night, it kept on going. She was reliving the entire experience in her dreams, and it was terrifying. Mallory could almost feel the pain again. She was lying on the floor, bleeding to death......her father sitting nearby, looking pale......Sam holding her hand.....Abbey working on her. Mallory must have been shouting in her sleep because the next thing she knew, when her eyes flew open, she was looking up at Abbey. The President was in the room, Sam behind him and a surprised Zoey by the door. Mallory was taken aback. She hadn't meant to wake everyone and for some strange reason, she panicked.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.....I'm.....I had the nightmare again..." Mallory said breathlessly. She studied Abbey's worried face. "It happened again Abbey. I'm so sorry....so sorry."
"Shhhh, calm down. It's okay." Abbey said softly, taking her into her arms.
"No....no....it happened again....in my dream....I saw everything happen again....no....it's not okay...." Mallory was crying now, almost hysterically.
Abbey signaled everyone behind her to stay back while she tried to calm Mallory. "What was different this time, sweetie? How was the nightmare different?"
Mallory inhaled sharply. "It...it was real this time! It was so real. God, it was....so...so real," she couldn't explain it exactly and she hoped that Abbey would understand.
"Okay. Okay. Relax..."Abbey soothed. "Shhhhh......"
"I ca..can't...." Mallory was in hysterics now, taking in gulps of air and sobbing uncontrollably. Sam wanted to comfort her but he didn't dare mess with Abbey's instructions.
"Mallory," Abbey said. "Listen to me. It wasn't real. You're safe. I'm here, Jed is here, Sam too. You're okay. We won't let anything happen to you."
Mallory couldn't shake it off. She was shaking uncontrollably now. Sam couldn't take it anymore.
"Abbey? Should I call Leo?" he asked nervously. Abbey turned to him and nodded.
Abbey took a deep breath, holding Mallory tightly and looking at Jed. "She's hyperventilating. I need my bag. It's over there in the corner," she pointed. "Zoey, can you step outside please?"
Wordlessly, Zoey obeyed. Jed set Abbey's bag next to the bed.
"What are you going to do?"
"Sedate her if I have to," Abbey whispered. Sam returned just then.
"Leo's on his way over."
"Thanks, Sam," Abbey said, stroking Mallory's hair. "Mal, I want you to lie back please." Mallory did so with Abbey's assistance. "Take slow deep breaths. You need to calm down, sweetie."
"I.....I....can't, Abbey....." Mallory sobbed.
"Yes. You can. Just take slow deep breaths."
"I can't.....I.....I can't......"
"If you don't, I'm going to give you something that will put you to sleep," Abbey warned her.
"No!" Mallory objected. She never wanted to sleep again, she never wanted to have the nightmare-ever.
"This is not good, Mallory. This can jeopoardize your recovery and if you don't relax, I'm going to sedate you." Abbey hated being stern with her but she was worried about her condition.
"No, please....please don't.....It'll happen again...."
"Honey, please. I need you to calm down. You're hyperventilating and your blood pressure and heart rate are consequently going to be affected."
Mallory didn't relax. She lay on the bed, shaking with fear. "Sam! Sam...don't let her....Sam...please!"
Sam took her hand. "What, baby? Tell me how I can help, please."
"Don't let her do it! Please don't let....don't let her-"
"Mal! Look at me!" Abbey demanded. "I need you to lie still."
"Sam, please.....please help me......make it go away." Mallory sounded as though she were only a child.
Jed didn't know what to do. He stood still, watching his wife handle the situation. Sam held Mallory still, very gently, so Abbey could check her vitals. Abbey picked up Mallory's hand and looking at her watch, she timed her pulse.
"Mallory. You have to calm down now," Abbey repeated. "Your heart is racing."
Sam had a difficult time keeping her still as Abbey checked her blood pressure and listened to her breathing.
"She doesn't want to sleep, Abbey, please don't give her the sedative," Sam begged.
"Sam. I know that but she can't hyperventilate like this and I can't treat her like this either, so I'm going to have to," Abbey explained.
"She doesn't want-"
"I know, Sam. Just let me do what needs to be done," Abbey gave him an assuring pat on the shoulder and went to fill a syringe full of the sedative she planned to give Mallory.
"God, Sam....please.....don't let her do this. I don't want this! I don't! Jed! Jed! Don't....no... please!" Mallory begged. She was trying to struggle.
"Abbey says it's for the best, Mal." Sam told her.
"No it's not! How...how could you!?" Mallory demanded. Sam looked heartbroken. He prayed that Mallory would realize later that he was only thinking of her.
"I'm sorry, Mal" Abbey apologized, syringe in hand. Despite Mallory's thrashing, Abbey managed to roll up the sleeve of her pajamas. She looked at Jed. "Can you help Sam hold her down please?"
Jed looked upset by the idea but he trusted his wife. "Yeah." He held Mallory's legs still and Sam wrapped his arms around her upper body, holding her firmly so she was motionless.
"Please....Abbey, no......please don't..." Mallory wailed helplessly.
Abbey felt terrible but it was necessary.
"Abbey.....no...." Seconds later, Mallory felt a pinch on her arm and she knew that she had lost the battle.
Abbey drew back and shaking her head, she threw the syringe aside and tried to comfort Mallory.
"I duhn wan adream abouit anwymore....." Mallory said, her speech already slurred. "Duhnn leahve..."
"I'll be here with you." Abbey assured her.
"Me too." Sam said.
Jed let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding. "I'll go wait for Leo," he whispered. He tiptoed out of the room.
Abbey turned to Sam."I'm sorry I put you in that position." she said quietly.
"It's okay. I just hope she can forgive me."
"Me too," agreed Abbey.
"You did the right thing, Abbey. I know you did."
Abbey watched as Sam pulled a chair close to the bed and rested his head near Mallory's limp hand. She was almost completely asleep now.
"You really love her don't you?" Abbey asked, smiling.
Sam nodded. "More than anything."
"I can tell," Abbey told him, smiling. She put her hand to Mallory's cheek and looked at her. Mallory's eyes were still half-open. "You've got one hell of a guy, Mallory O'Brien. Don't you forget that." Sam was beaming.
Mallory couldn't answer. She was too tired. She knew what was going on though. She knew Sam loved her and she knew that she loved him.
A minute later, Abbey examined Mallory's eyes. "She's
out," she said to Sam. Abbey checked Mallory's pulse again, just to make sure she was
okay. "She's fine, Sam. Don't worry."
Abbey awoke late the next morning. Jed had already gone to the west wing and Zoey was at school. She yawned and gazed out the window. Then, the night's events came back to her and she was up on her feet in an instant. She threw on her robe and made her way quickly to the room Mallory was occupying. Leo was in there holding his daughter's hand. He had arrived in the middle of the night. Sam was pacing the halls outside. Mallory looked miserable.
"Good morning," said Abbey, coming in the room. Mallory looked at her sadly.
"Hey, Abs. Thanks for calling me last night." Leo said, kissing her forehead.
"Did you see Jed this morning?"
"Yeah, he had to go to the West Wing early."
Mallory stared at her father and Abbey plainly. Abbey looked over at her.
"Mal, do you feel better?" Mallory didn't answer. "Mallory?"
"Why did you do that last night, Abbey?" she said in a tiny voice, clearly hurt.
Abbey sighed. "Honey, I'm sorry but-"
"Why?" she asked again. Leo stood back.
"You were hyperventilating, I couldn't get you to calm down and we needed you to relax so-"
Mallory wiped a tear away, "You wouldn't listen to me......I can't believe you didn't listen to me."
"I did, sweetie," Abbey assured her. "I did what needed to be done."
"I don't believe you."
Abbey took Mallory's hand in hers. "Please go away, Abbey."
"No. I won't."
Abbey was startled. "Mallory, do you honestly think I hurt you on purpose? I would never do that to you. I was only thinking in your best interest." Mallory began to cry. Leo and Abbey were silent.
Mallory looked defeated and finally responded. "I know....." she cried. "I'm sorry......I just want to be alone."
"Honey. You've been alone too long, " Abbey said softly.
"What are you talking about?" Mallory muttered, slowly trying to sit up further in bed. She stopped when she became disoriented.
"Are you dizzy?" Abbey said, immediately jumping back into her doctor mode.
"A little...I'm okay, forget it." protested Mallory. Abbey didn't seem convinced but went on anyway.
"What I meant," continued Abbey, "was that you need to talk about what's happened, with a professional."
Mallory's eyes widened. "A psychiatrist? You can't be serious."
"I'm very serious."
Leo cut his daughter off. "Yes, you are.......and so am I. I've already talked to your mother about this, she agrees."
"Mallory, we need help to get through this. We'll go together, okay?"
Abbey smiled. "I'll come too. So will Sam. We'll all be there for you, sweetie."
Mallory closed her eyes. "Will everything be better if we go?" She couldn't help asking, even though she knew it was almost a childish question.
"It will help," assured Abbey.
Mallory cleared her throat. "I can get my life back to normal?"
"You know the answer to that," Abbey told her.
Leo nodded. "You do."
Mallory thought for a moment. Maybe this was the answer. She would give anything to get better.....and she would.
Mallory was well enough to go to her first appointment the next week. Accompanied by Abbey, Leo and Sam, she felt almost completely safe and two weeks after that, their lives seemed to be returning almost to normal. One Saturday evening, Mallory and Sam sat on the porch at the residence, holding eachother.
"I think I'm ready to go home now, Sam." Mallory whispered.
"Yep. I think I can handle it now. Besides, I think Jed and Abbey must be sick of me by now."
"Well, I don't think that's true."
Mallory laughed. "Me either."
Sam smiled and kissed her. "It's so good to hear you laughing."
Mallory smiled. "I agree." She held him closer to her. "It's been such a long time, Sam."
"Too long," he agreed.
Mallory smiled. "You've been my perfect knight in shining armour," she confessed.
"Yes. You. You've been with me every step of the way, and I love you more than ever."
Sam shook his head and decided to be humble about it all. "Well, I believe you managed to save my life at one point there, Mal."
She smiled. "Well that's true......" she laughed again, which made Sam's heart soar.
"So we're just about even?" he asked.
"Yeah. I'd say so.....and now we're ready to enjoy our lives together. It's just like before."
"I realize our lives can never really be the same as....before," Sam began. "But I think they can be pretty damn close."
Mallory looked up at him. "Well, I definitely think I'm capable of putting this behind me now......I haven't had a nightmare in over two and a half weeks.....and I feel great."
"You look great." Sam said, kissing her forehead.
"Why thank-you, Samuel."
"I love you, Mal."
Mallory snuggled closer. "I love you too"
"I wish the whole hijacking thing never happened but-"
Sam stroked Mallory's hair. "I think it's brought us even closer....in a different way."
"I think so too," agreed Mallory. She closed her eyes and sighed.
"This is one of the best nights of my life, Mal."
"Why is that?"
"Because we're together and we're both healthy."
Mal smiled up at him, "And we're both happy."
"And we're both happy," repeated Sam.
Mallory felt completely fulfilled. "You're right. This is the best night," she agreed. She savoured the warm, content feeling that invaded her body. She was indeed very happy.As Sam held her tightly in his strong arms, Mallory's mind drifted away. She was in her own secure and joyful little paradise......and she was loving everything about it.