Well, here it is - an end to the saga. And to think, this all started after watching the Bone Collector one late night. Well, I guess Denzel will do that to you.
Without further ado, here's part thirteen (which is ironically my lucky number) - the end.
Demons: Part Thirteen
Disclaimer: Located elsewhere. Have fun finding it; you'll get no help from me. Author's Note: Finally the beast has been finished. Bet you're all glad, huh?
The Residence - the White House Two weeks later, Wednesday, 1:13 AM
Within moments of his first scream, there were Secret Service agents crashing into his room, guns drawn, hissing into their mikes. The crushing weight of his panic kept him pinned to the bed and though he was now wide-awake, the terror of the dream refused to leave him.
Frank, the head of his night detail, calmed the others when he was assured that their charge was secure and unharmed. One by the one the other agents relaxed and filed out of the room looking almost sheepish as they re-holstered their guns. Frank stayed.
"Sir?" he murmured. "Is there anything I can get you?" The younger man had become quite adept at handling this particular situation after four other similar incidents in the past days since the First Lady had left for a conference.
Bartlet shook his head, running a weary hand over his face. "I'm sorry Frank. I hate to keep doing this to you and your men." He looked up and smiled wryly. "You know, the next time feel free to leave the others behind. It'd make this a whole lot easier."
The agent shook his head, just as the president knew he would. After the near-tragedy at Sam's apartment, the Secret Service were unwilling to let their guard down for even an instant. It hadn’t mattered to them one bit that he had never been the target. They had taken the situation with Cruz personally.
"How's Sam doing?" he asked next, as he always did. It almost felt more comfortable falling into the pattern they had adopted since the nightmares had begun.
Frank smiled, obviously happy to be back on track. "He's been quiet all night, Mr. President. It looks like he's doing better than you at the moment." There was a twinkle in the young blonde's eyes that Bartlet enjoyed immensely. Frank was a good man to have around.
Bartlet nodded and looked around the shadowed room, sighing. Usually after one of his nightmares he felt drained and ready to sleep for a day, but this time he knew he wouldn't be getting anymore rest. The dream had been the worst yet, torturing him with repeated slow-motion memories of the events that night. The desperate terror in Sam's eyes, the way his body jerked every time Cruz struck him, the blood draining from his face even as crimson blossomed on his shoulder…
"Sir?" Frank asked, taking a concerned step forward.
Jed blinked burning eyes and banished the vacant expression from his face as he waved off the agent's worry. As good a man Frank was, he wouldn’t - couldn't - understand what he was going through. He hadn't been there that night, in that apartment. He hadn't been made to watch as a man he cared about was beaten and shot because of him. No one could understand - not even Leo, who *had* been there.
Sighing again, the president threw off his blankets and swung his legs over the side of his bed, reaching for his robe. "I'd like to go see him," he announced.
The dismay on Frank's face was frustrating, but even Jed had to understand where he was coming from. "Sir, I told you, he's fine. Besides, he's probably asleep right now and going to see him would only wake him and you know he needs his rest. Jesse's there with the others…"
"All the same, Frank, I'd like to go see him for myself, even if I just get to peek my head in the door." He raised his eyebrows in defiance and locked gazes with the younger man, already knowing he had won. It wasn't as if he were proposing to traipse across the city somewhere.
With a roll of his eyes, Frank relented, nodding reluctantly. He lifted the collar of his jacket and informed the agents outside in the hall, as well as Jesse and his detail, of their plans. "All right, sir. A quick peek in the door and then we come back here and you get some sleep so when the First Lady comes back, I don't have to explain to her why you're suffering from sleep deprivation, all right?"
Smiling widely, Bartlet knotted the sash of his robe tightly and nodded back. "Sounds good to me." Still grinning triumphantly, he preceded Frank out the door, not even minding for once the way the other agents snapped to attention and took up positions around him. It had been annoying him lately the way they acted as if someone might attack him even in the Residence, but tonight he would let it slide.
Striding down the hall, Jed came to stop three doors down and nodded at the tall, lean man with dark hair that stood guard there. Although he always looked as if he were brooding, Bartlet knew he was a very gentle, warm individual - the very reason he had been chosen to head Sam's detail.
"Good evening, Jesse. Wishing you had chosen a different career right about now?"
A warm smile spread across Jesse's lips, replacing the petulant frown that always naturally took residence. "And miss all this action? Are you kidding me sir?" They shared a laugh, knowing well enough that the most action he saw at night was if the cleaning staff showed up too early or too late, arising minimal suspicion. It wasn't really as if Mrs. Clarence, the sixty-three year old maid that had worked there for seven administrations was really any threat. Though it would ease the Secret Service's minds if she would get her watch checked or buy a new one.
Bartlet shook his head and reached forward, grasping the knob of the door and turning it. To his surprise, light spilled out into the hallway when the door opened. He swung it open further and stepped inside, raising an eyebrow at his young speechwriter. "Shouldn't you be asleep?"
Assuming his most contrite expression, Sam lay the book he was reading in his lap and shrugged his good shoulder. "I could ask the same of you, sir."
Closing the door behind him, Jed grinned and crossed the distance from the entrance to the bed. "I have the feeling we're awake for the same reason. My question, though is did you ever go to sleep in the first place?" He took a seat on the side of the bed Sam wasn't reclining on, comfortable in the familiarity that had been founded between them since Sam had come home from the hospital to stay in the Residence at Abbey's insistence.
Looking bashful, Sam shook his head. "I did try though. But after the first two hours of tossing and turning I kind of lost hope and figured I might as well be losing sleep doing something entertaining."
"What are you reading?" Jed knew it was better to steer their conversation to safer waters before they turned to maudlin. This early in the morning, plagued by demons that would never leave them alone, it was far to easy to take a turn for the depressing.
Sam held up the book so Bartlet could read the cover. "The Scarlet Pimpernel?" the president read with a raised eyebrow. Sam shrugged again, this time forgetting to not move his bad shoulder, and winced, gritting his teeth.
It took a minute before the younger man fought through the pain. "When I get stressed or the insomnia gets to bad, I like to read the classics. They have a sort of soothing effect."
Jed blinked; it was the first time he had ever heard of Sam having a sleeping problem. Choosing not to comment on it, he reached forward and took the book from Sam's hand. "It's been ages since I last read this. Sometimes it bothers me that I get to busy to enjoy the old stuff like this." He flipped through the pages, smiling as he recognized the names of the chapters.
"Would you like to read it, sir?" Sam asked. His lips twitched into the half-smile he was infamous for in the halls of the West Wing. "I have other stuff I can read."
Smiling widely, Jed nodded. "I'd like that Sam. I think this is just the thing I need tonight."
After retrieving another book for Sam from under the bed, Bartlet settled into a comfortable chair, propping his feet up on the side of his bed he had just occupied. The two men fell into an easy silence as they became absorbed in their reading, soft smiles gracing both their faces as they enjoyed each other's company.
Nearing dawn, a tired Frank knocked lightly on the door of Sam's room, looking forward to a quick check on his charge before ending his shift for the night. Cracking the door open to poke his head inside, he smiled. The president was still seated in his chair covered in the blanket Jesse had provided a few hours before, snoring softly. On the bed, Sam's head peeked out from under his nest of covers to peer out fuzzily at the agent.
"No more nightmares?" Frank asked quietly.
Sam smiled sleepily as he shook his head. "Not a one - for either of us."