"Stop screaming, you stupid girl! If you don't, I will make sure you can never scream again, is that clear?"
The plan was not going accordingly. He'd killed one Secret Service agent and wounded the other, fatally he hoped, as he was sure the man had seen enough of his face, as his hostage had been able to rip off enough of his mask before he'd gotten her sedated. She'd somehow managed to get a broken arm, a sprained ankle and a potentially broken rib.
Karen whimpered, her head falling towards her chest. "Why are you doing this?"
"Shut up! Just shut up!" The man yelled as he slowly paced the stone floor like a caged animal. The girl had managed to dig her heel into his thigh and cuff him hard enough in the back of head to cause a lump that had yet to go down. They were going to kill him once they found him. There was no doubt in his mind. He was going to have to get rid of his charge sooner than he planned in order to survive. And he knew just who to pass her off to.
Five Days Earlier
The case against Chief Petty Officer Mae Richards was starting to look like a very bad episode of Dallas.
Ensign Walters was anything but a saint. He'd joined the Navy as a way of staying out of jail, and since being in the Navy had been implicated, but never charged in three separate sexual harassment cases.
Chief Walters on the other hand, was a saint. She'd gone to college, received a bachelor’s in engineering from the RIT, and then joined the navy quickly working her way through the ranks.
This should have been a cut and dry case, but this was the Navy, and even with all their talk of being welcoming, still operated like a boys club.
Olivia and her team worked as best they could within the system, but kept hitting roadblock after roadblock. They needed the big guns...they needed some serious leverage and Olivia did not like what that could potentially mean.
Ever since Karen came to visit, Olivia was unable to shake the desperate longing for Fitz that she thought she'd laid to rest. It gnawed at her during the day, but it literally ate away at her in the evenings. She felt like her resolve was slipping, but she'd made a promise. She'd made a promise to Mellie and Fitz was still President because of it.
She still couldn't shake what Karen said. He wasn't well. He wasn't doing well and he was unhappy.
"Not my problem," Olivia muttered aloud.
"What's not your problem?" Abby asked from the doorway.
Olivia turned from her credenza that was still lined with so many pictures of the two of the together. Maybe it was time to take them down.
"Jus thinking out loud. What did you find?"
"One of Ensign Walter's buddies from basic training Ensign Roberts said Walters has a bit of a drug and alcohol problem. He's apparently been referred to DAPA, and has been unsuccessful though his records indicate he's been passing, Ensign Roberts says that he hasn't been, but someone's giving him a pass anyway.
"So, someone is covering up for Ensign Walter's discretions and we need to find out why. Harrison!"
"He's still out with Quinn," Stephen offered as he walked into her office. "I'm running into all kinds of problems here, Liv. No one is giving up any information about Walters easily. I'm surprised we got Roberts to talk at all."
"Yeah, it's like people are going out of their way for this creep." Abby added.
"We're going to need more access for this, Liv."
Olivia eyed Stephen and shook her head. She knew what he was asking and she didn't want to go there.
"Stephen, no. We will figure this out without going down that road. At least not yet."
Stephen sighed, threw up his hands, and walked out of Olivia's office with Abby.
They hadn't exhausted all their ends yet; she was not about to go call in a favor yet.
For the first time since they'd brought her from the hospital, Audrey slept through the night. Fitz had been so grateful for one uninterrupted night of sleep, he almost felt like his five AM wake up was a treat.
Fitz took the opportunity to go down to the White House gym and clear his head. He turned the treadmill on and set a grueling pace for himself. His runs were his best way of exorcising his demons of the life he felt was a lie and the life he desperately wanted.
On deck for the day was bureaucratic nonsense that he hated, but was unfortunately necessary. These meetings never held his attention and unfortunately left him completely open to thinking about Olivia, no matter how hard he tried to keep his focus.
“Mr. President, you have a visitor,” a Secret Service agent said sliding into the workout room.
Fitz didn’t pause his run, but simply waved his hand letting the agent know whomever was there could come in.
“Mr. President,” a deep voice intoned from the door.
Fitz punched the stop button, startled to see Admiral Wallace, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in his doorway.
“Admiral Wallace, what can I do for you this morning?”
“I’m sorry to interrupt, Mr. President, but there’s a situation in Myanmar. Two U.S. helicopters have been shot down over Burma. Right now, the government is not claiming any credit for this attack. We have intelligence on the ground citing a rising insurgency between Buddhist and Muslim populations. We don’t know if this was just an unfortunate situation or a clear act of terrorism.”
Fitz sighed and lowered his head. He’d clearly been under the false impression that today was going to be a slow.
Fitz barely had a sufficient amount of time to get decent before descending into the White House’s war room. The situation room was filled to the brim: Secretary of State, Chiefs from all the military branches, Admiral Wallace, the head of the CIA, the Vice President and Cyrus.
“Mr. President,” Wallace began. “New intelligence from the ground says the attacks are being claimed by a rebel group named (awesome rebel group name). They are an opposition faction of the government and are publicly anti-democracy. As of yet, no other attacks are imminent according to intel, but they’re working hard to gather as many forces as possible.”
“What’s our troop count in the area?” Fitz asked.
“Right now, Mr. President, we’ve got a little over 2700 troops stationed there.”
“How much intel is on the ground, Oscars?”
“We have a small group of men that have infiltrated the rebels, Mr. President.”
Aaron Oscars was a peculiar man. He was brilliant but extremely withdrawn. The first time Fitz met him he could tell the man had been a former spook. He was utterly forgettable. He had plain features, brown hair with no distinction, and a face that millions had. In other words, the man was the quintessential spy
Fitz nodded and looked around the room. “Have we gotten the helicopters and bodies out, yet?”
Wallace shook his head. “We haven’t been able to get near the site, Mr. President. The rebels have the area heavily guarded and have become combative with our troops. Two units have reported barely skirting around a few launched grenades and poorly planted mines.”
“What’s the force increase recommendation?”
“Sir, we recommend an additional 1000 troops, the majority of them ground troops, the rest will be put in the air.”
“Okay, get it done. I want hourly reports on the progress,” Fitz said standing and buttoning his coat jacket.
A round of ‘yes sirs’ went around the room as those who were sitting at the table rose as the President left the room with Cyrus.
“Cyrus, clear my day. I want to monitor this situation.”
“Mr. President, I understand you want to keep an eye on this situation, but we have the legislative affairs team coming in an hour about the minimum wage legislation and we’ve already pushed this off twice.”
Fitz sighed and his shoulders slumped slightly before turning towards Cyrus and nodding. “Fine, but can we push it back an hour?”
“I’ll see what I can do, Mr. President.”
“Any luck?” Olivia asked walking into the conference room where her team was seated.
“Nothing,” Abby said shaking her head as she despondently stabbed her moo goo gai pan with a chopstick. “All of this guys DAPA records are sealed, his personal training reports and his performance appraisals have mysteriously disappeared. I can’t even get pre-military docs on this guy.”
“Liv, we’re going to need to call in that favor.”
“Look, Liv, we’ve obviously exhausted all our options here.”
“I don’t work at the White House anymore and in case you haven’t noticed, Stephen, I haven’t been there in a while.”
“I know, Liv. I get it, but we need to help our client the best we can.”
Liv and Stephen kept their eyes trained on one another neither wanting to budge an inch. Stephen knew a lot more about Olivia’s situation than anyone else, but never held it against her. She knew what needed to be done, but it tied her stomach in knots to admit it.
“Fine,” Olivia said eventually. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Well, you’re certainly a sight for sore eyes, Ms. Pope.”
“More cupcakes, Ms. Pope?”
“Double chocolate this time. I need to see Cyrus.”
Morris smiled exchanging the box of cupcakes with her hard pass she’d turned in all those months ago.
“You never stopped being on the list, Ms. Pope.”
Olivia smiled and nodded. “Thank you Morris.”
Olivia quickly navigated her way through the west wing towards Cyrus’ office. She hoped to avoid having to see Fitz and that Cyrus would be cooperative enough on his own. She knew that was a pipedream—she was here, on his turf, and if she knew Cyrus at all, he’d want something in return.
Olivia tentatively knocked on the door pushing it open when she heard Cyrus grant her entry from the other side.
“Good afternoon, Cyrus.”
Cyrus looked up, startled by her voice. “Holy hell, Olivia Pope. I thought you’d never set foot in this building again.”
“I need a favor,” Olivia said not bothering to mince words. The sooner she could get out the building, the better.
“Oh, I do so love those four words. May I remind you, Ms. Pope, how you flatly denied my request to return to these hallowed halls? So, please tell me why I should grant your favor?”
“Because an innocent woman’s career hangs in the balance. I need your help. I need some...leverage.”
Cyrus leaned back in his chair and observed Olivia. For her part, she refused to be cowed by his intimidation tactic.
“Will you take a look at these polling numbers and offer your assistance?”
Olivia sighed, but nodded her head. She’d gotten off easier than she thought she would.
“And, you need to see him before you leave this building.”
“Out of the question.”
“It’s not a negotiable point, Olivia.”
“Then, I thank you for your time, Cyrus,” Olivia said angrily throwing her bag over her shoulder and stalking towards the door.
Cyrus jumped up from his chair and beat her to the door handle.
“Come on Liv, just a few minutes.”
“No good can come of that Cyrus. Let sleeping dogs lie. You asked me to stay away before, Mellie asked me to stay away, and I did what you wanted. Let it be.”
Cyrus sighed and threw up his hands. “Fine, if you think you can help your client without my help, then so be it. Otherwise, you’ll see him.”
Olivia remained standing in front of the closed door. She tried to slow her breathing down and gather her composure. She could be in a room for five minutes with the man she used to love without falling apart, couldn’t she?
Olivia turned to let Cyrus know exactly what she thought about his demands, when the door that attached Cyrus’ office to the Oval opened and Fitz came through.
Olivia felt as if she’d just been suckered punched in the gut. Her hands started to shake lightly and she fought the need to tear her eyes away from him.
Fitz’s whole body froze as he took in Olivia. Nine months had passed, and yet the feeling that he got whenever she was near hit him hard and made his heart beat rapidly and his stomach quiver.
“Well, that was easier than I thought,” Cyrus said smugly. “Now, fix whatever the issue is here and let’s play nice so you can win in November, Mr. President.”
Cyrus didn’t wait for a response before opening the door and leaving the two very tense people alone.
Fitz cleared his throat and turned his gaze towards the window. He didn’t know where to begin or what to even say to Olivia. He had a running list of the things he wished to say to her, yet none of them were coming to mind at the moment.
“Hello,” Fitz said looking up at Olivia again.
Olivia nodded but didn’t respond in kind. Fitz tilted is head and scoffed.
“You’re not going to say anything?”
“What’s there to say, Mr. President? Congratulations on the baby, I’m sorry I didn’t send a gift.”
“Why thank you Ms. Pope. Why are you here?”
“I had a question to ask of Cyrus.”
“One you couldn’t ask over the phone?”
“Were you planning on seeing me before you left?”
Olivia didn’t reply, but simply stared at him giving him the answer he thought he’d receive. Fitz moved slowly towards her causing her to back towards the closed office door.
“You know, you would think that I would get it. That I would understand finally after you left not once, but twice. Made a pact with my demon of a wife and saddled me with a kid that isn’t mine.”
Olivia’s eyes shot up towards his at this admission. She shook her head and began to interrupt, but Fitz cut across her.
“You would think I would get it. That you obviously don’t care for me the way I care for you, but for some stupid reason I can’t forget. I can’t make myself stop loving you and it eats away at me every day while you seem to be doing just fine. Good for you, Ms. Pope, please share with me how you do it.”
Olivia’s back was now flush against the door, her pulse racing and her chest flushed. Her lips shook as she tried to hold in tears. She looked anywhere but at him.
“Tell me how to get rid of these feelings, Ms. Pope, feelings you obviously have been able to rid yourself of, or maybe you never cared at all. Which one is it so that I can move on as easily as you have?”
Olivia shook her head and wished with all her might that she were anywhere else. She started to hyperventilate as Fitz’s hands slid up her neck to cup her face.
“Just tell me you don’t love me so I can move on, too. Please?”
Olivia opened her eyes and stared into his gray eyes, heavy with pain. All the breath left her body as tears started to escape her eyes.
“I can’t,” she whispered. “I can’t do that.”
“Then why, Olivia, why in the world did you do this to us?”
Olivia was spared from having to respond by the door starting to open. Fitz and Olivia moved away from one another to opposite sides of Cyrus’ office.
Cyrus took in the state of the two people occupying his office before he moved behind his desk.
“Mr. President, here’s the report for the hour.”
Fitz took the folder and nodded before walking back into his office without looking back at Olivia.
“Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Dylan Moss was lying on the ground fighting to remain conscious. He heard the distant sirens in the background and hoped they were coming for him. He couldn’t remember if he’d called in that his partner was down and the president’s daughter was gone all he knew is that he was losing blood and quickly.
He tried to commit her kidnapper to memory: the color of his eyes, the scar on his left cheek, and his crooked nose.
He prayed for relief from the searing pain in his midsection. He shakily brought a hand up, it was completely stained red; he had to stay long enough to tell them what he saw. He had to get her back.