Chapter Twenty-four+ by Cory Cramer

Washington D.C.

"We need to find the President," Director Clarkson said.

Amy glanced at the wounded. "I know," she said, aware of the fact that she would probably have to stay and attend to them.

"He went that direction carrying his girl," Clarkson said. "He couldn't have gone too far. I'll go find him and let him know where we're camped."

Amy took note of the fact that Clarkson didn't say he'd bring the President back, simply that he'd let him know where they were. It’s funny how even when civilization is in ruin some people never forget protocol. "Okay, I'll stay here and look after these guys."

"No," Alan interrupted firmly.

Amy and Clarkson, taken off guard by his assertiveness, turned their attention toward him.

"What did you say?" Clarkson asked, seemingly surprised at the interference from someone with no official power.

"I said, no." Alan began to painstakingly push himself up from the stretcher. "I need to talk to him first, before anyone else. And Frank here needs to tell him his message in person. Tom…er…I mean, The President will want details and he'll need to speak with Frank firsthand to get them." Alan pulled himself up with his unscathed arm and wobbled on his good leg, steadying himself by grasping the branch of a downed tree. "Whadaya say Frank? Up for a walk?"

"Yeah." Frank nodded his head slowly. "Yeah, I'm ready."

"How about you, Lieutenant Hunt?"

Amy looked into Alan's eyes and saw a fire; a scorching blue flame that she hadn't seen Alan Kelly cast since she was a young girl. It hadn't been there at the press conference following his DUI arrest. It hadn't been there when he'd gone on 20/20 and denied accusations of cheating on his ex-wife. She hadn't seen it when he answered questions in front of Congress after his nomination for Attorney General, and she damn sure hadn't seen it earlier today.

Yet there it was.

The old Alan Kelly she knew from two decades ago seemed to have returned, just like that. She took note of how he first startled Director Clarkson into silence, then quickly recruited Frank, someone who had already announced his desire for finding The President, and now to her, someone who--whether he knew it or not—would follow him to the ends of the Earth if he asked.

"Well?" He took her hand in his, gazed only at her, and lowered his voice. "You okay with that Lieutenant?"

Amy nodded before she spoke, forcing her diaphragm into action. "Yeah," she said a bit louder and more assertive than was necessary.

Alan turned to Director Clarkson. "You mind giving me a hand?"

Before Director Clarkson could process the fact that he'd just handed over command of their group to Alan he found himself flinging Alan's arm over his shoulders and helping him walk in the direction The President had gone. When no one was looking Amy grinned while walking alongside Frank, watching him for any signs of weakness that might lead him to faint, and scanning the street for any signs of another ambush.


Adrenaline comes in bursts; first a peak, and then a valley. Amy felt like she had descended into a deep glacial crevasse. A freezing north wind, which had gone virtually unnoticed until ten minutes into their search for The President, cut through her thin jacket and chilled the sweat covered blouse beneath it.

A deceiving clear blue sky hung above Washington. If a person were sitting inside and looking out a window they might think it was a pleasant day, but clear skies in the winter meant no clouds to trap heat near the surface. Amy wished she hadn't worked up such a sweat earlier while taking out the snipers. It would only mean more heat loss now that they'd slowed their pace. She considered walking behind Frank so she could use his large frame to block the frigid wind, but she refused to show that kind of weakness. She was a strong one. Everyone had always told her so.

They approached Arlington Cemetery and caught sight of The President, down on his knees, scooping semi-frozen clumps of dirt with his bare hands onto the remains of his daughter.

"Mr. President!" Director Clarkson shouted. "Mr. President!"

The President either didn't hear or refused to acknowledge the call.

Clarkson limped a few steps closer, hauling Alan along with him. "Mr. Pres—"

"That's enough," Alan said calmly. "Let him do what he needs to do."

Clarkson obeyed.

Amy, Frank, Alan, and Clarkson all watched as The President lifted one handful of dirt to his mouth after another, kissing it before tossing it into the shallow grave.

Amy didn't know how long it took The President to bury his daughter. It seemed like a very long time. When The President finished he climbed to his feet, turned, and caught sight of his onlookers for the first time. He marched toward them with purpose, tears absent from his eyes.

"Let me talk to him first," Alan said quietly.

No one else moved or spoke. Amy figured none of them knew the appropriate words.

Alan removed his arm from around Director Clarkson's shoulders and limped toward The President, putting weight on his injured leg just long enough to shuffle his good leg forward. The President took three strides for every lame step taken by Alan. This meant rather than meeting equidistant from where the group stood and the cemetery, Alan and The President met much closer to Amy, Frank, and Director Clarkson.

Tears fell from Alan's eyes as he hobbled toward The President. "I'm sorry," he cried. "I'm so sorry." Alan fell to his knees, reopening his wound and spilling fresh blood onto the frozen ground. He hugged The President around both his legs, sobbing.

The President stared ahead for a moment while his friend cried at his feet. He glanced at the rest of the group, who had been stunned into silence. Then he knelt down and wrapped Alan's arm over his shoulders and lifted him up off the ground.


Emotionless, he spoke, "Apology accepted."

Tears welled in Amy's eyes. Not because of the incredible bond of friendship she'd just seen tested and survive, but because she knew that Alan's feelings of guilt and indebtedness would never go away. Just as her feelings of guilt for not being able to save her family from the clutches of Lewis Mares would never go away. Fault didn't matter. Alan hadn't caused the alien invasion. Alan hadn’t  pulled the trigger on the gun that shot The President's little girl. He couldn't be blamed for her death any more than Amy could be blamed for being too scared to walk into her parent's bedroom so she could shoot Mares before he killed them. Alan owed The President, just like Amy owed Alan. And even though Amy had saved Alan's life less than an hour ago, she felt no less indebted to him. Good people carry their debts and guilt forever, and Alan Kelly was a good man, with a burden he would carry for a long time.

Chapter 25

funny bunny says:
2007-09-08, 06:45
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Me says:
2007-10-27, 13:33
Este e o novo método de comentar...
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2008-01-21, 04:36
This rocks...
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