Disclaimer: Don't own them! Have no money! Don't sue please!
Author's Note: This is completely an AU story. It was just a dark little piece that popped in my head. AS would never do anything like this, but that is why is it call FANfiction. Please don't hate me at the end, okay?
Feedback: Like a rainbow on a sunny day.
Spoilers: Anything is fair game so watch out.
Summary: Sitting a dark watch in the snow.
The snow-covered fields reflected an icy blue light against the dark blue sky dotted with millions of silver-white stars. As far as the eye could see, rolling hills where encompassed by a thick blanket of soft snow. Another six inches had been added to the packed four feet today, and everything seemed to be encapsulated in glittering ice. As often happens with snow, peace seemed to have descended on the blanketed corner of the earth. A silence, unlike any other, shrouded the area, sucking all loud and unnatural noises from the air. This was as near to complete peace as the earth was to come. And even this would melt away in the heat of the sun, leaving on a faint memory in the mind's eye of those who had actually stopped long enough to notice its beauty.
However the beauty of the night and the snow was lost on her as she trekked across the fields. Under her boot-clad feet, the snow cracked angrily, as if to tell her she had no right to disturb its restful peace and serene beauty. She was not the first to tread this path that night and she was carefully following those other footsteps. At first she had tried to stay within the tracks, but she had found this tiring and slow, so now she practically ran next to the tracks hoping that soon they would end in the location where their owner had found himself. As the tracks lead her into the woods, she slightly slowed her pace. She now knew where he would be and she couldn't help but smile slightly at that thought. Walking into the small clearing, she saw him, slumped on the snow covered fallen tree that they had sat on so many times before. Without bothering to announce her presence, she draped the blanket she had carried from the house around his shoulders then dropped heavily onto the log next to him.
Without looking at her he silently shared the blanket with her as a sign that he was not upset by her presence. When he had left the farmhouse, he had made it perfectly clear that he needed sometime alone. In fact he probably needed to apologize to the staff for the way he had stormed out of there, throwing angry words and hateful glances at the people around him. He had threatened her if she followed him, but the truth was he had prayed that she would come after him. And as always, she had known that he needed without him having to say the words or by ignoring his words. Sitting shoulder to shoulder with her, he drew strength from her as a drowning man draws breath from an oxygen tank. Slipping his hand into hers, he allowed their silence to blanket their psyches just as the soft green and yellow Notre Dame blanketed their bodies.
Those standing vigil in the old farmhouse knew to page or call her the moment anything happened, so she allowed them to sit quietly lost in their own thoughts and fears. In the last twelve to fifteen hours they had been through thousands of emotions, but they always seemed to return to the same paralyzing fear. So many questions and so few answers. It seemed like the world had stopped moving in any rational sense. All around the world and time seemed to race at double speed, but here in this place and in that room up at the farmhouse time had ceased moving. A simple cold had morphed, nearly immediately, into a full blown course of pneumonia with multiple complications including a serious relapse of the MS. Now, a strong, vital man; the President of the United States; the Leader of the Free World; and Leo McGarry's brother was lying near death. Besides the sickening fear of losing a great man, a pallor of uncertainty had descended over all the staff.
"The doctor still with him," Leo's quiet question broke through the silence and the still night air.
Margaret nodded, "He says that the next 2 or 3 hours will be critical. If he makes it through, well he should be alright."
"What will we do, Margaret? Abbey and the girls, what will they do without him?"
"Have faith, Leo," she whispered, resting her head on his shoulder. "He could be perfectly fine. He's a strong man and an even more stubborn man. I can't believe that he could fight that hard to win re-election to let a stupid infection lay him low."
Kissing the top of her head, Leo sighed, "You're supposed to be the worrywart, not me. You should be the one fretting and me the one talking of eternal optimism."
She merely shrugged against his shoulder, letting them to once more fall into a comfortable silence. Their thoughts raced back and forth to and from the future to the past and back again. Finally after several minutes had passed, Margaret sighed, "Why did you come here?"
"Manchester? Because, it's where Jed is right now that's why we're all here."
"No, here," she gestured to the clearing where they sat.
"Oh," Leo nodded in understanding, "I knew you'd follow me and I just, well, I wanted to be here in this place. I wanted to be able to remember something good and loving about this place, just in case something happened tonight."
Margaret couldn't help but smile at the sentiment and the wistfulness of his voice suddenly, "You asked me to come help you run Bartlet for America here."
"I kissed you for the first time here, during the second campaign."
"The first time I met Zoey it was right on this very log."
"Abbey first got CJ drunk at that picnic we had here right after the first convention."
"You told me about the President's MS here."
Leo glanced around the dim clearing, ghostly memories of the past floating in the shadows. Laughter, tears, and songs filled his ears. With a shake of his head to clear the sudden memories, "And now it becomes the place of our Dark Watch."
"They're all dead. But in a story, which is a kind of dreaming, the dead sometimes smile and sit up and return to the world," she quoted her own eyes seeing similar visions to those that had just flashed across Leo's eyes.
"O'Brien," he smiled that she had been able to place the quote.
Again they slipped into the silence that seemed so easy and natural for them. Together, shivering in the cold, they continued their dark watch waiting for the call that could forever change the course of history. Margaret's cell phone rang shattering the silence. With a glance toward Leo she answered the phone, "Yes?"
Does Jed live or die? It is entirely up to you. Love me or hate me, but I couldn't decide which way to end this. So, in the great tradition of "The Lady and The Tiger" (the very first thing I ever wrote fanfiction about) you may choose the ending that best suits your own wants or desires.