Author:  loveleomcgarry
POV:  Jed
Characters:  Jed/Leo friendship
Rating:  PG
Spoilers:  Major spoilers for "We Killed Yamamoto" (Season 3),
                minor spoiler for "Someone's Going to Emergency, Someone's Going to Jail."
Summary:"So make the best of this test and don't ask why. It's not a question, 
                but a lesson learned in time." from "Time of Your Life" by Green Day
       They Say You Can Hear Me
(post ep for "We Killed Yamamoto")
              by loveleomcgarry
"We need to be down in the Sit Room," I say to Leo, meeting him at the main door to the Oval Office and backing him back into the hall before anyone else can need to speak to him.

Leo turns and walks beside me without question.

"There's nothing new," I say. "Fitz just wants to run through a few more scenarios. Only take a few minutes and then, we have other things to deal with."

"Yeah," says Leo, knowing where I'm going.

"Did you fix Josh's screw up?" I say. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Leo's body tense. He's trying hard to stay as professional and respectful of the President as he always is, but his heart wants to defend Josh to Jed.

"Mr. President," says Leo. I can hear the hint of warning, but no one else could.

"Leo, Josh screwed up. He costs us key votes for a bill that was already too close. Then, he gets the vote scheduled on the same night as the fundraiser. With help like that, we won't even need opposition," I declare as Leo is forced to move in front of me by the flurried activity of staffers trying to get papers to their right place on time.

"It was the women's groups...," begins Leo.

"Did you come here to stand in front of Josh?" I ask Leo, mirroring the question I asked him last night to which he replied no. I only half way believed him then as lying has never been one of Leo's strong suits.

"No," Leo says again, almost as convincingly. "But Josh didn't mean for that to happen. I told you I signed off on the vote and canceling the trip. It's my fault that you could have missed "The War of the Roses" and helping the Archbishop. It wasn't just Josh. We thought it would get us out of the Ritchie thing." 

"Sounds like you're in front of Josh to me, Leo, like ducks in a row," I say, as we descend the staircase.

Leo looks back at me with that exasperated look that I sometimes tease him just to see on his face and then, it happens. The next thing I know he is falling down the last set of eight stairs. I watch helplessly as he lands at the bottom, his forehead audibly whacking on the sharp point at the bottom of the handrail.

"Leo!" I gasp as I take the stairs at a run followed by Donnie, my Secret Service agent. When I reach him, I roll him over quickly and start to pick his head up in my lap when Donnie stops me.

"He could have a neck or spinal injury, Mr. President. We need to immobilize his head," says Donnie. Donnie places my hands on both side of Leo's head and tells me to hold his head in line with his spine and try to keep him from moving.

"Leo, are you okay?" I keep calling out to him even though his eyes are closed. I vaguely hear Donnie calling for the White House medics. God, I wish Abbey were in the building, but she's gone to a conference in Cleveland.

As we wait, Donnie jumps into action. He checks Leo's pulse and breathing.Then, he sends a staffer for a clean white towel and a bag of ice which he puts over the puncture wound on Leo's forehead.

A small crowd gathers near us. I wish they'd just go away. I know they are concerned about Leo, but I just want to be alone with my best friend, so I can take care of him. When more agents arrive, including Ron Butterfield, I yell at him to get rid of all these people. Hearing their President yell is more than enough for most of them, so they scatter. "What is taking those medics so long?" I demand.

"You need to stay calm, Mr. President," says Ron. "They're on their way."

I know he's right. The last thing Leo needs is me yelling and preventing people from doing their jobs. When the medics do arrive, the first thing they do is put a collar around Leo's neck. So, I use every ounce of self-control I have and step back from Leo.

"Mr. McGarry, can you hear me?" asks one of the medics, lightly shaking Leo's shoulder. When he doesn't get any response, he too checks Leo's breathing and then, raises up his eyelids one at a time and checks his pupils, waving a pin light in front of Leo's eyes. "Unequal," he says to the other medic. Then, he pulls out a gauze pad and tapes it over the tiny puncture wound on Leo's forehead.

The other medic is listening to Leo's heart. He takes out an oxygen mask, secures the hose to a tank and puts it over Leo's mouth and nose. "Did you call an ambulance?" he says, turning to Ron, who nods.

This is not what I expected to hear. I expected to hear them ask for smelling salts or ice or even other medics, but I didn't expect them to sound so urgent about getting Leo to the hospital. I can't stay back any longer. I move up beside one of the medics and rest my hand on Leo's shoulder. I want him to know that I am here.

"You want to start an IV?" says one medic to the other.

The second medic nods and takes Leo's hand that is nearest me. He inserts a needle into it, taping it down and attaches a tube to a bag of clear liquid.

I keep my hand on Leo's shoulder and bend down close to him. "Leo, I know that hurt. It was just the medic putting a needle in your hand to start an IV. Don't be scared. I'm right here."

They won't let me ride in the ambulance. But, I tell them I am going if I have to walk. I know I exasperate Ron Butterfield sometimes, but I know that if it were his best friend, he would do just what I'm doing. He knows that, too, but it can't stop him from doing his job, from protecting the President. I agree to ride in my limousine provided that Ron goes in the ambulance. He isn't happy being separated from me, but he thinks it's the best he can get, so he sends two agents in the limousine with me. To clear the way for me, DC traffic is brought to a standstill. To keep themselves sane, the agents in the limousine don't look at me, but look everywhere else to ward off impending danger. I know they just don't want to make eye contact with me for fear I'll bite their heads off.

A phone rings in my pocket and almost scares us all silly. I never carry a cell phone, but they gave me Leo's. "Yeah," I say into the receiver. It's CJ and she's just heard about Leo. I tell her we are just pulling up to the hospital. I assure her I'll call as soon as I know anything. She tells me not to worry; yeah, she should talk.

I go into the trauma room with Leo. Yes, it's unusual, but who is going to stop the President of the United States. Or, more importantly, a best friend.

Leo gets stitches and an examination for other injuries. Also, a Head CT. I hate to even think this, but I am relieved that Leo is not awake for this. He is a little claustrophobic, not as bad as I am since my brother locked me in a steamer trunk, but enough that I think he would have trouble staying calm during this test. The diagnosis is a moderate concussion. Thankfully, the test shows that Leo has no bleeding and only minimal brain swelling. The doctor says he doesn't think any more invasive medical procedures will be needed.

I also am very careful to question all the medication they are giving him. I know they are aware of his drug issues, but I can't be too careful with my best friend. I ensure that he is only given Tylenol and Lidocaine before the stitches. After treatment, we move him to a room upstairs, so they can reopen the emergency room.  

I stand beside the bed and look at Leo. It's amazing how peaceful he looks, but also fragile. No machines, no tubes, no beeping noises, just that bandage above his right eyebrow that keeps me from believing that he's just asleep. I run my thumb across Leo's forehead. I can feel the puffiness around the injury and see some bruising beginning to shadow his eye. Then, I sit down next to the bed, picking up his hand.

I've watched Leo sleep a lot. Back after the war, when he used to have those horrible nightmares, I'd sit by him for hours because I knew he was desperate for rest. Same goes for when we dealt with the alcohol and Valium thing. Back then, I prayed he'd stay asleep, now I'm praying he'll wake up. The doctor said it is critical that he wake up in the next few hours.

I am so thankful I got to come to the hospital. They usually try to keep me from doing that. They see it as a security risk. They had to clear out most of this floor. At this moment, I don't care. I know that means I'm selfish, but I'll just have to be. I wouldn't be anywhere else for all the security in the world.

"They say you can hear me," I say, bouncing Leo's hand a little. My voice, even though I try to speak softly, reverberates off the walls of this sterile room.

A nurse comes in. She smiles at me, but looks nervous. She should have expected the President of the United States. I'm with my best friend. Do these people not realize that I'm not just the President, that I'm human, too? It's the same reaction I got in the emergency room, except that doctor asked me if I'd like to wait in my suite upstairs. No, I sure as hell don't want to wait upstairs. I felt like saying Leo is not upstairs, Leo is right here, you idiot. But, if I start insulting the doctors, they will make me leave. I hope I don't make these people too nervous, I want them to be able to give Leo the best care possible.

The nurse is still listening to Leo's heart and breathing. Is that a frown she has on her face? God, why doesn't she say something? Now, she's noticed I'm staring at her and she drops her pin light on the bed before she even gets to look in Leo's eyes. I pick it up and hand it to her; man, that was another mistake. Jed, get a hold of yourself, these people are giving Leo excellent care.

Donnie, who has been guarding the door, motions to me and holds up Leo's cell phone. I know it's Abbey before I even answer. I had called Zoey and asked her to call her mother, because I didn't have the phone number with me. I know she's scared. I can hear it in her voice when I say "Hello" and she whispers, "Jed, is he awake?" I tell her no and fill her in on every word the doctor said. She wants to know more. She has questions I can't answer. I tell her the doctor's name and she says she will call the hospital and ask for him.

Then, I hold the phone down to Leo's ear, so she can talk to him. After all, they say he can hear us. When I get back on the phone, I don't know what she said to him, but I can hear that she is crying. She tries to insist that she leave her conference and be back by nightfall, but I talk her out of it. I tell her that by then, Leo will be awake, sitting up and taking this cell phone from me. She forces a laugh. I wish she were here. I wish I were as sure as I sound. We hang up with her saying she'll call me in one hour.

Leo and I are alone again. "Hey, my friend," I say quietly. "I left your deputy, Josh Lyman, in control of the whole White House." If that doesn't bring him back, I don't know what will. No response. I should not have made that joke, not even in my thoughts, much less out loud to Leo. My criticism of Josh directly contributed to us being here in the first place.

I must confess Josh is good at his job. I guess I shouldn't have yelled at him…well…as much or as harshly as I did. I said, 'True or false, Josh, my life would be better right now if you and your girlfriend swapped jobs. Why is it for every good thing you do around here, we got to endure three screw ups? … Sorry doesn't get me 218. It doesn't get back the ad that slipped through your office, anymore than it gets back tobacco which you gave away for lunch money. And, why the hell don't you know what Ritchie's commitments are before you get anywhere near my schedule. I've got the Presidential box at a cattle call. Win the damn vote.' I was mad at Josh, but bringing up past incidents is never fair. Sure Josh makes mistakes, but doesn't everyone. I've made my share and some of them were monumental.

I understand Leo's need to protect. I understand his need to stand in front of Josh and his need to stand in front of me. I love him for that.  "Come on, Leo," I say. "Open your eyes…come on, try…" No response.

I start to speak aloud again. I've always done that. I can say whatever is on my mind to Leo. I can ramble and I can dream. I can admit my fears and I can talk my way through things. "I need your advice, Leo. Shareef deserves whatever he gets, I don't have to be convinced of that. But, I need to decide what he deserves. There are moral absolutes, there really are, but he's so far from any definition of the word. Yeah, I said I'd let him come for the visit, but what then, Leo, what then?" I drift into quiet contemplation again.

The bedside table catches my attention and I see the CD player that Zoey has sent with one of the agents. He told me that she said we should be talking or reading to Leo or listening to music at all times. I open the CD player's lid and see the CD Zoey has chosen. Green Day! I don't even know if Leo knows who Green Day is. Then, I see the note attached to the CD player. I unfold it and read aloud. "Something for you and Leo. Kiss him for me. Love, Zoey."  I stand and gently kiss Leo on the forehead before I plug in the CD player. I hit play and sit back to listen.

Another turning point,
a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist
directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test
and don't ask why.
It's not a question,
but a lesson learned in time.
It's something unpredictable,

but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs and still frames in your mind,
hang it on a shelf of good health and good time.
Tattoos of memories
and dead skin on trial,
for what it's worth,
it was worth all the while.

I hope you had the time of your life.


It's something unpredictable,
but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

When the song ends, I just continue to sit there. Leave it to Zoey to speak to us about the important things here on earth. "We'll have to tell her thank you," I say as I lean up to click off the CD player. It's then, I see it. A single tear run out of Leo's eye and down his cheek. I pick up his hand and hold it between both of mine. "You liked that, huh?" I say. "Leo, can you squeeze my hand…just a little squeeze to let me know you're with me." 

I hold Leo's hand loosely and wait, watching for any sign. And very slowly, his forefinger moves to curl around my thumb. I wrap my palm around it to keep it from falling away. "Thank you, Leo…you don't know how much…" I stop, because I don't trust my voice. I take a deep breath. "You just rest now." I start to put Leo's hand down, but his forefinger won't release my thumb. "I'm not going anywhere," I say, keeping his hand between both of mine.

I sit here as the doctor and nurse parade in and out of the room many times, checking Leo's vital signs and quietly write on his chart. They don't look at me if they can help it. They can't answer my one question. I have asked it many times. When is my best friend going to wake up? When can I be sure he is alright? All they can tell me is that we have to wait. It will take time as chances are obtaining full consciousness will come gradually. I sit here as the secret service watch the door just as quietly. I can't see them all the time, only when a doctor or nurse comes in. Although Ron has come in himself a few times to see if I want to take a break or if I need coffee. I tell him no each time as I am determined not to give up my post or to allow myself one comfort until Leo is back here with me. I sit here as one member after another of the Senior Staff call to check on Leo. Ron doesn't even ask me if I want to talk to them anymore. He just tells them there has been no change and that the President hasn't left his friend's bedside. I sit here as darkness falls across the window.

I am the President of the United States. I am the leader of the free world. I have more military and more resources available to me than any other person alive. And yet, I sit here holding my best friend's hand between my own, helpless to do anything but wait. It is a very humbling feeling. I am lost in thought when I hear a soft moan as Leo's eyelid flickers. "I'm right here," I say. I lean down until my elbows rest next to his pillow. "Jed is right here, my friend."

Leo rolls his head across the pillow and moans again, his eyes squeeze tightly shut like he is trying to block out what he is feeling.

"Leo," I say. "There you go…come on, open those eyes."

Slowly, Leo opens his eyes and looks tiredly up at me.

"Hey, there," I say. "Don't worry, you had a little fall, but everything is going to be okay."

"Sir?" says Leo as he winces.

"I bet you have quite a headache," I say.

"I feel like I've been sent for and couldn't go," mumbles Leo, his fingers fumbling over the bandage on his forehead.

I smile when I hear Leo use one of the old expressions his grandmother always said. We would often laugh about how funny they sounded, but how true. "I'll have the nurse get you some Tylenol," I say. I start to stand.

"Don't go," begs Leo, starting to sit up, but finding it a bad idea. He holds on to the tail of my suit coat and sinks back to the pillow.

"Leo, it's okay; I'm just going to get some Tylenol," I say, my hand on his arm, so he can feel that I'm really still there. "And, to tell the doctor. He wanted to check you as soon as you were awake."

"You sang to me," says Leo, only a hint of a question in his voice. He finds me singing in this situation a bit odd, but he has no doubt I would move Heaven and earth to bring him back to me.

"Sang to you?" I question. Then, I remember the CD Zoey sent.

"So make the best of this test and don't ask why. It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time," says Leo. "What's that from?"

"Zoey sent us a Green Day CD called 'Time of Your Life,'" I say, momentarily forgetting the doctor and the Tylenol. "It really spoke to me, Leo. We've had quite a test today, you and I. But, we turned out to be strong. You woke up and I stayed sane. And, the funny thing is, I never once questioned why this happened. The only thing I could think about was had I been a good friend? Had I told you enough that I love you? Could I go on in this life without you? When it gets right down to it, it's not why things happen, but if we are prepared. Do we make the most of everyday and let people know how we feel? We are not guaranteed tomorrow."

"It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time," says Leo.

And I know it is.

The End
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