ON THE ROAD TO THE REAL THING - PART 1

One.

Two. "I swear to God, that ambulance better be here in the next minute, or I'm gonna..."

Gonna what?

Three.

What're you gonna do, huh?

"It's on the way, sir."

Four.

Jack-shit, that's what.

The pavement is wet, and it's cold. Hurts my knees as I kneel on the ground.

Five.

That's what I always get to do.

"ETA is four minutes now."

Breathe.

He's so cold, how can he –

One.

He shouldn't be here.

(Not now, Johnny! Concentrate!)

Concentrate.

Two. "Fuck four minutes! Do they have any idea who's waitin' on them?"

"Yes, sir. They're on their way, sir."

Three.

...he shouldn't be with me...

Four.

...not his job...

Five.

...what the hell was McGarry thinking?

Breathe.

Screw McGarry. Screw 'em all.

(Concentrate!)

Concentrate.

One. "How long?"

Two.

"Three-and-a-half minutes now, sir."

Two. "Not the goddamned ambulance! How long we been doing –"

Two.

"Sir!"

What.

Two.

What? What do you –

Shit!

"Sir, just breathe and start over!"

(Goddamnit, goddamnit...)

One.

Two.

C'mon, damnit!

Three.

Don't do this, don't do this to me.

Four.

If you die, I swear to God, I'm gonna...

I'm gonna...

...gonna...

Five. "Breathe, you stupid little cuss! Breathe...please..."

(Concentrate!)

Concentrate.

Breathe.

One.

I asked a question here, people.

Two. "Well? How long?"

"Almost six minutes, sir. Sir, please let me-"

No.

Three.

Keep up the count.

Four.

Hand on my shoulder.

Five.

Get your hand off my shoulder.

Breathe.

One.

Take that hand off my shoulder, Nathan, or I'm gonna...

Two. "Back off!"

Three.

Keep up the count.

Four.

Hand is still on my shoulder.

Five. "Goddammnit, back the hell off! I got it!"

Breathe.

Damn it to hell, why won't he breathe? Please, oh, please, start breathing...

(Concentrate!)

Concentrate.

One.

Got to keep up the count.

Two. "How long for the ambulance?"

"Three minutes now, sir."

Three?

Three. "Three minutes, Seaborn. You hang on, boy."

Four.

Hang on.

Five.

(Three minutes, three minutes, three minutes...)

Breathe. Shit. "Hold up. Thomson, you feel a pulse?"

Head hurts. I gotta take a breath. "C'mon, Seaborn. Take a breath."

Just one, that's all I'm asking. It's not too hard. Just breathe in and breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.

Thomson, don't look at me like that.

"Still no pulse."

Deep breath. Shit, the air is cold out here. I hate this goddamned state. "Start again."

One.

I hate winter.

Two.

I hate Michigan.

Three.

But most of all, I hate Leo McGarry.

Four.

I hate every single goddamned one of 'em for doing this to me.

Five.

What the hell were they thinkin'? He shouldn't be here.

Breathe.

This isn't my fault. I'm not going down for this.

If he dies, it's on their heads. It's on McGarry, Ziegler, Bartlet, and Joshua.

... One.

Their fault. Damned fools are always trying to handle me. Stupid, arrogant –

...Two.

Too slow.

...Three.

Too slow, Thomson!

Four!

Thomson, don't you work out? You're heavin' like a pig over there, your hands are all bloody, and you look like you're about to spew. Move over, let someone else... "Brody, take over for Thomson. Now!"

"Yes, sir! Two. Three. Four. Five. Breathe!"

One. "It's okay, Thomson. You did good."

Two.

I want to spew too.

"Three. Four. Five. Breathe! One..."

Two. "Gotta a real good voice there, Brody."

Three. "Don't need to shout, though."

Four. "After all, it's just you, me, my staff, a busload of completely worthless reporters –"

Five. " – who are standing around like idiots! –"

Breathe. " – and a dead man."

One.

"Sir?" Wobbly voice.

You are too young for this job, Brody.

Two. "If we're breathing for him, son, then he's dead."

Three.

You're too young.

Too...

Four.

He's too young. And his white shirt's dirty, and his lips are blue.

(Concentrate!)

Five. "It's okay, Brody. Just concentrate and keep up the count."

Breathe.

Concentrate.

"One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Breathe!"

One. "Not so fast, Brody."

"Two-and. Three-and. Four-and. Five-and. Breathe! One-and..."

Two. "That's better. Good job, Brody."

Three.

No, Brody, don't look up. I told you to concentrate. Don't look surprised, you know what that sound is. Don't look at me like that.

Four. "Oh, for Christ's sake, Brody. It's his ribs."

They're already broken, I'm sure. Can't worry about that now. We've gotta keep him breathin'.

Five.

Just keep counting.

Breathe.

I can still smell the smoke, will somebody... Have to cough.

Have to...there. Better.

One.

"Sir?"

Goddamnit it all. It was one cough.

Two.

Concentrate.

Keep counting.

"Sir?"

Three.

Hand on my shoulder again. Everyone always wants to handle me All the time. "Back off!"

Four.

I'm the goddamned Vice-President of the United States!

Five.

I don't need to be handled.

I don't need to be –

(Concentrate!)

Breathe.

Concentrate.

One.

Wait. "Are those sirens?"

Better say yes, Nathan, or I'll make you sorry.

Two.

"Yes, sir. I can see the ambulance. Just a few more seconds now, sir."

Three. "C'mon, Seaborn. Less than a minute now."

My voice is hoarse.

Four.

You are in so much trouble with me, Seaborn. Okay, you're not. Not really. If you'd just take a breath, I'll forgive and forget.

Five.

I'll do whatever you want – anything, the speech, I'll make sure Ziegler and Joshua don't... Anything! That's a quite a good deal.

You should take it.

Breathe.

Take the deal, Seaborn.

One.

Take it. Please!

(Concentrate!)

Concentrate.

Two.

Scraping sound, tires whining.

Keep up the count.

Three.

Feet hitting the pavement. Running?

Four.

No.

Too slow.

Five.

Breathe.

Too slow, feet are too slow.

One. "Move it! Get over here now!"

Two.

Don't stop.

Three.

Keep up the count, keep up the –

Bartlet'll kill me if you die, Seaborn!

Four.

You weren't supposed to be here. You weren't even –

Five. "Goddamnit, breathe!"

Breathe.

"Sir, you can move aside, now. I've got it."

Gloved hands. Hands on my shoulders.

Again!

Nathan, you fool, what did I tell you? Back the hell off!

"Sir? Sir, you have to move, you have to let them do their job."

Oxygen mask over his face now. Better than me...

"That's it, sir. Right over here, sir. He's going to be fine, sir."

"No respiration. BP's..."

Shut up, Nathan. He's not fine. He's not fine, and Leo McGarry's gonna kill me, then Joshua's gonna kill me some more, then after I'm completely dead, Jed Bartlet's gonna have me for dinner. Goddamned meat-eaters, all of 'em.

"...seventy over forty."

"Sir, are you all right?"

I swear to God Almighty, Nathan, if you ask me another question, I'm gonna... "Headache. I'm fine."

"Pressure's dropping..."

"Sir?"

"He's crashing!"

They're pullin' out that machine, those paddles. Goddamnit, they're gonna shock him. Oh, god, oh, god...

"Two-hundred, clear!"

"Sir? Sir, I think you should just lay back, just lie down here. There are more paramedics on the way."

Nathan, have I ever told you that your voice is like a goddamned bullhorn in my ear? Back. Off!

"Two-fifty, clear!"

Aw, God. I think he's dead.

"Sir? Sir!"

Maybe I will lie down. Maybe...

"Three-hundred, clear!"

I'm dizzy.

"Sir, stay with me, try to stay awake."

Don't want to. I think I'd rather have a nightmare right now. I don't want to watch any more of this.

"Cowboy is down! I repeat, Cowboy is down!"

I'm not down, you jackass. I'm just contemplating the fact that the goddamned President of the United States is gonna kill me for lettin' his goddamned Deputy Communications-whatever-speechwriter get killed in a goddamned bus accident in the middle of goddamned nowhere, which will, I believe, ruin my chances for ever getting' elected to goddamned anything anywhere ever again. I think I should be able to do that lyin''down with my eyes closed, don't you?

"I got a pulse!"

He's alive? Oh, God! Thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank...

"Sir, stay with me!"

Shut UP, Nathan. I'm with you. Goddamn, you're makin' me nervous. Stop botherin' the heck outta me. I just want to lie here and listen to this nice, deep drumbeat in my head...

I can feel that drumbeat in my chest now, too.

"Sir?"

You feel that, Nathan? Bumm-ba-bumm-ba-bumm...

"Code Blue! Cowboy is Code Blue!"

Bet you've always wanted to say that, Nathan.

Hey, there. What? No. Who the hell are you? Get your goddamned hands off me. No, I don't care if you've got a goddamned stethoscope. What? What are you saying?

"What happened?"

What the hell do you think happened? I'll tell you what happened.

"He —"

Shut up, Nathan. What the hell do you think happened? My goddamned bus crashed!

"...and hit his head pretty hard..."

What happened was that Leo McGarry and Jed Bartlet tried to handle me, and look what happened! Shit happened. They should know better. Damned stupid fools. That's what happened.

Hey!

"...tried to splint his leg..."

Hey, where're they takin' him? Is he –

"Thomson, you go with Princeton! Brody and Caleb, you're with me and Cowboy. Everybody else –"

Damn, Nathan. Take charge, why don't you? It's about damned time. Wait. "Where're they takin' Seaborn?"

"To the hospital, sir. We're gonna follow, we just need to move you onto this gurney here –"

"I don't need any goddamned gurney, Nathan!"

I don't. I was just a little dizzy, that's all.

"Sir, on three. One, two, three –"

Get your hands off me, Nathan. "Back off, goddamnit! I can get up on my own!"

Maybe not. Whoa, I'm dizzy again. "Nathan?"

"I've got you, sir. Just lie down and stay calm."

I am calm, you idiot! I am –

"Okay, let's move! Cowboy is Code Blue and on the move, Cowboy is..."

I am calm. I'm just dizzy. And why the hell is it so cold? I hate this state! "Where are we?"

"In the ambulance, sir. We're on the way to the hospital, sir."

The hospital? "Why're we going to the hospital?"

"Mr. Vice-President, please stay awake. Can you look up for a moment? Just concentrate –"

Concentrate.

"...concussion..."

(Concentrate!)

"...we'll be at the hospital in approximately..."

Concentrate. "Nathan?"

I'm okay now, Nathan. Just dizzy. "Where are we?"

"We're almost to the hospital, sir."

The hospital? "Where's Seaborn?"

"He's already there, sir."

(Concentrate!)

Concentrate. "Is he okay?"

Nathan, you can talk now. Talk to me, Nathan. Please, go ahead and talk. Please!

Nathan. Nathan!

Please tell me!

"What happened?"

Part 2

 

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