Disclaimer: I don't own "Commander in Chief" or any of the characters.
This takes place a few years after the series. The twins are away at school.
I sometimes think about how people that live in the public eye feel and react to some circumstances. Although they have a public job that most of them wanted in the first place, I still think very few people stop to think about their feelings. How the news and circumstances affect them and their families. I will try to explore one situation from different points of views. This first chapter focuses on Mac first, of course!
She said good-bye to her kids as they were finishing their breakfast. She was leaving that day to a campaign tour, some west coast states. It was particularly difficult for Amy; however she was getting used to it by now. She kissed and hugged all of them, as she walked towards Rod. He had decided to stay in Washington this time, not only was he loaded with work, but he had just returned from a trip and wanted to spend time with the kids. They hugged and kissed, and as newlyweds, he escorted her hand in hand towards the West Wing.
It had been hard on everyone, doing her job and campaigning. There was a lot of traveling involved and very long hours every day. She hated to travel by herself, not because she felt alone (after all, she was surrounded by staff), but because Rod made things seem easier. He usually went with her to all the campaign events, got the staff organized and working, and made every effort to think and act according to her needs. This last reason, alone, was why she missed him so much when she was away without him. Although she knew her staff respected her, and worked hard with her, it was hard to think of her as something more than the president, their boss. And although she didn't blame them, given the hectic nature of their jobs, it was so nice to get home to someone who remembered she was a wife, a mother, human, who besides being hard working, smart, efficient, and clear minded in stressfull situations, she was also sensitive, liked to be pampered, and loved chocolate. Rod was her person. He knew when that when she was upset, leaving her alone was his best bet. He knew when she had a hard day, what she needad was a big hug and his shoulder as cusion. He knew when that she was exhausted, watching a good comedy show helped her relax and sleep better. She felt so selfish while she thinking about these things, but not only was it true, she also liked to think she provided the same for him.
After a few meetings, she, along with her staff boarded Air Force One. She couldn't say she was looking forward to this trip. She knew a lot of work was to be done in the plane, and long days ahead of her. It was so energy consuming, but it had to be done. This time, she was visiting Washington State, Portland, LA, San Francisco, and San Diego. At least the weather is nice, she thought. She was happy that, among a lot of her staff, Vince,Jim, and Kelly were traveling with her. She enjoyed talking to them, and they had their share of laughs. Several reporters had been authorized to travel with her, to cover her campaign trail.
The trip went exactly as planned. They landed a few interviews, touring clinics, orphanages, schools and colleges, meetings with governors and mayors, etc. It all lasted 3 days, but it seemed like 2 weeks. By the time they reached their last stop, San Diego, they were all tired but happy. The usual events took place, and she was to stop by an orphanage before flying back home. This was a last minute stop, only added a few days ago. Apparently, there was a lot of pressure to close the orphanage, and the people running it were fighting to keep it open. She paid those children a visit, and promised to take a closer look to their plea to keep it open. Once the visit was over, as they were walking out to the motorcade, one of the children ran to Mac, not before being stopped by several secret service men, to give her a card. Mac turned around, and as she was motioning the secret service agents to let the kid walk to her, she felt a sharp, intense, and constant pain all through her left shoulder. As she grabbed her left arm, she saw and felt the blood come coming out of it. One of the Secret Service agents ran over to the president and ushered her into the limo. She was able to see her agent falling flat to the floor, with blood coming out from one of his legs. Once inside the car, they moved fast. She was scared and trembling, and her arm was still oozing blood. A few seconds later, the co pilot, a secret service agent, lowered the window between them and the president, and asked her if she was alright. She managed to nod, and asked what had happened. Details are pending he replied, but someone shot her from one of the buildings. We're on our way to the military hospital, the agent said. It would only take a few minutes.
"Is everyone al right? Was any body hurt?" Mac asked.
"We still don't have that information ma´m. Our priority was to get you out of there as soon as possible"
"Thank you" she said, almost to herself. She went numb, never quiet having felt like that. She couldn't talk, or think, or move. Her arm as aching so much, but her mind was blank. Not quiet able to register what in fact had happened.
Once they reached the hospital, they took her in, and x-rays and a detailed physical was done. Apparently, the bullet didn't touch the bone, just barely touching the arm. However, damage was done to the skin and soft tissue. She had her arm immobilized, and pain medication was given. Once she was cleared of dangerous lesions, Jim came in to see her. She was so glad he was ok!!
"Jim!! Thank God you're ok" the president said, not trying to hide her obvious relief.
"Thanks ma´m. I am also very glad you are ok. You had us worrying there, for a while".
"Do they know what happened? "
"There was a shooter in one of the top floors of the building next to the orphanage. The Secret Service doesn't know how he got there, every measure was taken like in every other place we've been. After the shooting, they found him, just as he shot himself in the head."
"Is anyone else hurt?"
"Agent Liezert was shot on his right leg, he lost a lot of blood, and damage was done to the bone. He is being worked up in the ER, and once stabilized, he will go to surgery"
"Is he going to be ok?"
"They are trying very hard ma´m. They will do everything they can to save his leg."
"I want to see him, if it is possible. Does he know I am fine?"
"I don't know ma'm, it looked pretty hectic in there. I'll ask"
Mac froze. She felt horrible. She knew it was his job to protect her, but she felt terrible just thinking that someone might lose a leg over her. She didn't know what to say, or what to do. She just sat there, staring blank to the wall.
"Are we going to fly home tonight?" She asked
"The service is still on that ma´m. We need a safe place for you, and the doctor doesn't think flying right after this is the best idea. However, I was told you didn't want to stay in the hospital tonight, so either way; you'll get out of here. " Jim replied
Mac smiled thankfully, she had always hated hospitals, and her Chief of Staff already knew that.
"Is it all over the news?"
"I'm afraid so, ma'm"
"I need to call Rod and the kids. They need to know I am fine. I need to see them. Amy is probably really scared"
"The Secret Service informed the first gentleman. Once we get a secure line, you will be able to call"
"Can you put pressure on that Jim, please? I need to talk to them"
Just then, the doctor walked in, as well as Dr. Brock (White House physician). They were having Mac cleared of the hospital, but she needed to stay close. No flying tonight, they said, until tomorrow morning. The pain was going to be more intense tonight, and Dr. Brock was going to be close in case Mac needed anything. A catheter could be placed, and pain medications could be given IV. She didn't want an IV placed, she protested, but she would take pain tablets.
"Thank you, Doctor Garza" Mac said.
A hotel was secured, guests were put in other hotels, and secret service was already put a detail and inspected as fast as possible. The president and staff were transferred to the hotel. Once in the hotel, Mac and senior staff were on the top floor, and everyone else, all through out the hotel. At once, she called her family.
"Mac!!! Thank God! How are you? Are you hurt? Are you at a hospital? I want to see you!" was Rod's agitated response.
"Hi Rod! It is great to hear your voice. I am fine; a bullet harmed my left arm, but didn't touch the bone or any mayor artery. I am not to move it for a few days, I have it immobilized. Besides the fact that it hurts like hell, I am fine. How are the kids?"
"Well, you know. Amy is distraught; I calmed her down a bit. Rebecca and Horace came back from school, and they are here right now. They got so scared Mac, we all did. I've talked to them and they are better. They are all asleep in the living room now. Do you know when will you be back?"
"I don't know Rod. I wish I was there right now, you have no idea how much I miss all of you. I cannot fly tonight, and the service doesn't think it is prudent to fly you guys over here. The area isn't safe they say. And I really don't want to fight it. I don't think I could handle another scare like this, and I could never live with myself if something happened to you. I to be there tomorrow." Mac said, holding her tears back, with every ounce of energy.
Rod sighed. He knew this wasn't easy for her, but it wasn't easy for him either. He was stuck with three scared kids. He was scared himself. "Ok. I love you honey. I really really love you."
"I do too. And I missed you very much. Talk to you tomorrow ok? Have a good sleep ok?"
"I love you, Rod. Thank you, for…for being my partner"
Rod's eyes filled with tears, "Always"
They hung up. Mac felt better, knowing her family was ok. She wished she could hug all her children, and kiss them, and make them feel safe. She wished to lay down with Rod, resting her head in his chest. Mostly, she wished they were all at home, together. Maybe Becca had a point. Maybe, just maybe, running was too hard on everyone. She was distracted by a knock, it was Jim.
Mac and senior staff gathered on the living room of the president's suite to be briefed by the secret service of the day's tragic event. The shooter had been identified, and autopsy was to be performed to check if there were drugs in his system or something. He was aiming to kill the president, and still no clue as to who sent him or who planned the attack. They would be flying back to Washington next morning, however, the service recommended to transfer the first family and the president to Camp David. They will be interrogating staff, and an investigation was about to start. Besides, Secret Service advised, at this time it could be a lot safer to be at Camp David.
"Ok, then, thank you very much" Mac said. "Thank you for everything, and please let Agent Liezert know I am extremely thankful. Good night"
Secret service agents left. Jim, Kelly, and Vince stayed behind.
A million calls started pouring in, heads of state, senators, governors, etc. News spread very fast, speculations about closing Wall Street next day were heard, etc. Mac answered phone call after phone call, reassured politicians. Jim wasn't far behind. Kelly released several press statements, and held an improvised press conference.
It was well passed midnight when everything appeared to calm down. Mac's arm was hurting; she took the pain killers, which made her groggy. About 3 am, Vince finally left, not before making sure the president had everything she needed. It was the longest night, not only was her arm throbbing, but she felt alone, scared and alone. All the phone calls she answered were political. She hated them; it was like a tape recorder. "Are you ok, Madame President? Can I do anything for you? You and your family will be in our prayers" What hypocrites, Mac thought. She laid awake, not even wanting to call Dr. Brock or take her pills, not even wanting to turn on the television or the stereo, not even wanting to sleep, eventhough she had lost track when was the last time she slept. By 6 a.m. she showered as well as she could, dressed and was ready to go. She had asked to stop by the hospital to see Agent Liezert.
She walked into the ICU waiting room, not wanting to look for his family. She searched the room, and didn't see anyone up. She quickly walked in. She walked to his bed. He was lying down with his leg up. He didn't lose his leg! She was so relieved. He opened her eyes, and saw her.
"Good morning, guarding angel" she said, trying to force a smile.
"Good morning, ma'm" he replied groggily "I hear you made it almost intact"
"I did, and I wanted to thank you personally."
"It's my job ma'm, I did what I get paid to do"
"Well, thank you for doing it so well" she said. Tears started to form, she could feel the knot down her throat.
"I have to go, before people start coming in. You know the protocol better than me"
"Thank you ma'm, for coming. I am glad you are ok."
"I am very glad you will be ok. You literally saved my life. I will be eternally grateful. If you need anything, please don't hesitate to ask. I will be following your recovery closely."
"Thank you ma'm"
"See you later" Mac said.
She walked away. Not wanting to look for anyone, she was afraid tears will start coming out of her eyes. She started shaking, walked as fast as possible. Once on Air Force one, work started, and for the first time in her entire time as commander in chief, she didn't want to be IT. She half listened to everything that was being said. She couldn't concentrate, and didn't want to. Everyone thought it was her arm, that it wouldn't let her work properly. She didn't try to explain.
The meetings and calls didn't stop. She was in constant communication with the vice president, national security secretary, etc. Everyone asking for answers, asking to be guided. Answers she didn't have. She couldn't think, her mind was still going back to the blood, the running, the screaming, the pain. Her thoughts were with her SS agent, with her family.
It didn't stop until they landed in Camp David. Her family was already waiting for her there. Everybody stepped out of the plane and walked towards the residence. Rod was waiting outside, impatiently. As they came closer, Mac ran and fiercely hugged her husband. He hugged back, and as soon as she felt this, waterfalls started flowing from her eyes. She couldn't control it, they just flowed.
"It's ok, Mac. You're ok" Rod said, hugging her as hard as he could. "It's ok, it's ok" he continued.
Some of the staff watched this, and all felt a cold chill through their bodies. Nobody had stopped to think how she was feeling. How was all this affecting her and her family? They were all worried about her job, all worried about losing the president of the United States, or worried about who tried to kill the President, but never, not in two days, thought, how is Mackenzie Allen feeling? Is she ok? After all, the attack was against HER. Even though, it might have not been personal, it was hard to make the difference when a bullet just touched your arm. When someone tried to killed you.
Without letting go, Rod walked her inside, out of sight from everyone. She was incontrollable, inconsolable. He just hugged her, kissed her head. "Everything will be ok", "We are ok", he continued. After what seemed ages, Mac let go, and Rod cleaned her tears with his hands and smiled. "Welcome home" he sweetly said.
"Feeling better?" he continued
"Somewhat" she said as she smiled." Not exactly the welcome I imagined. I am glad to be here, though. Are the kids inside?"
"They are waiting for you. Are you ready?"
"I don't know. It is overwhelming. But I really want to see them"
They walked in, hand in hand. As soon as Amy saw her mom, she ran to hug her. Mac picked her up, hugged and kissed her youngest daughter. It felt so good to be home. "Are you ok mom? Is your arm going to be ok? Does it hurt? I missed you!" All too fast. The twins were patiently smiling and waiting for her little sister to let go of their mom. As soon as Amy was put down, they ran over and hugged their mom. They hugged her as they hadn't done in years. After millions of hugs and kisses they went to the living room.
Jim came in to look for the president. They all were headed back to the White House.
"I'm going to take a few days off, and stay here" Mac told him "I need to spend some time with my kids and Rod"
"That is great ma'm. It will be good for you and your family" Jim replied, still feeling guilty. "We'll take care of the country untill you get back. Not to worry"
"Thanks Jim. The vice president will be on alert anything should happen while I'm out. See you later. Can you please have a daily report on how agent Liezert is doing? Please make sure his family has everything they need, and call me if anything in his status changes, please."
"Of course ma'm. Good day"
She went back in, and joined her family. They were having a late lunch – early dinner thing. They talked and joked for hours. Later they put on some "Friends" episodes. Mac got comfortable, and laid down on the couch, resting her head on Rod's outstretched legs. He stroked her hair slowly, rubbing her back once in a while. She was feeling better by now, having spent the afternoon with her loved ones. Her eyelids started to droop, and she fell fast asleep. After all, she hadn't slept in a while.
Once the kids went to bed, Rod carefully carried Mac to their room. She woke up as she was put in the bed, and smiled at Rod "You are great, I love you" she said, as he safely placed her on the bed. "I love you too" he replied. He helped her change and they both went to bed.
Rod woke up late the next morning. Mac was still asleep, so he carefully put on his robe and walked out of the room. Amy was already up, not surprisingly.
"Hi dad!" she cheerfully greeted him.
"Hi pumpkin!" Rod replied
"Is mom still asleep?"
"Yes hon. With everything that went on, before and after, she didn't have time to rest. We'll let her rest."
Mac was the last to wake up. Still half asleep she entered the family room where everyone was gathered. They all greeted her cheerfully. And for the first time in many many months, she felt calm and happy. She was with her family, and they loved her and cared for her and it didn't have anything to do with being president. They were all great, and she loved them.
Mac spent the rest of the week in Camp David, not watching any news, sleeping, taking walks, playing, joking, and laughing. She hadn't realized how much she needed this, how tired she was, or how much she missed being Mac.