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I'm Still Your Girl

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I’m Still Your Girl

 

Hillary scrubbed her hands over her face. She was absolutely exhausted. Her flight from Russia was delayed three times and then when she landed in DC reporters bombarded her about Bill’s involvement with recently released Jeffrey Epstein. She stared out of SUV the window as Rachel made phone call after phone call from the third row. Even Adam was texting like crazy and occasionally she could hear her speech writer grumble in annoyance.

The vehicle rolled to a smooth stop in front of her Whitehaven home. Her hand was immediately on the door handle, pushing it open and practically fleeing before her security detail could even get their feet on the ground. Adam was quick on her heels, following her inside the stately home.

“Madam Secretary…” Adam called after her. “Let’s take a minute to regroup here. It’s been an incredible long day.”

“I don’t need to regroup, Adam!” her voice was sharp and loud. “I need this damn mess to go away.”

He was quick to close the door. “We’re working on it, ma’am.”

Hillary steadied her hand on the banister and reached down with the other to remove her heels. “This is the very last thing I need.” One shoe hit the floor with a thud and then the other. “Dammit!”

He stepped forward and helped her remove the blazer, laying it over the railing. “Why don’t you sit down in the study and I’ll fix you a drink?”

“All the alcohol in the world wouldn’t relax me right now.”

Adam took in her demeanor. She put on a brave neutral face for the press and on the ride home but once she walked thru the doors her armor melted off. She was vulnerable and exposed. Unshed tears swam in her eyes and her entire body was tense.

He reached for her, his hand brushing over her upper arm but she flinched and pulled back. Defensive and recoiled. “What?” he asked. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I’m fine.” This time the defensiveness was in her voice.

“No.” he said, firmly. “You’re not fine.”

She ran a hand through her blonde hair and exhaled heavily. “This shitstorm with the press, okay?”

Adam was silent for a few moments, taking her in again. “No, I don’t buy that either. You’re a master with the press. Pivoting is your art.”

“Doesn’t mean they still don’t get to me.” She walked over to the entry table and began opening drawers in search of a hair tie. A hot bath and a good night’s rest would do her so much good.

He sighed and decided to drop it for now. “I’ll run you a bath with some lavender.”

She began to pull her hair back into a loose ponytail. “Thank you.”

When Hillary turned to face him, the light caught her bare arm, and Adam’s eyes went wide. “What the fuck?”

“What?” she asked, her eyes following his to the dark purple bruising on her arm.

“How did this happen?” he reached for her arm, taking a better look.

“It’s nothing,” she replied, casually. “I bumped into the doorjamb.”

He scoffed. “You’re a lousy liar, Mrs. Dalton,” he told her. “That’s from a hand.”

“It’s not a big deal,” she pulled out of his grasp. “Please don’t make a big deal.”

“Do your agents know about this?” Her silence told him everything he needed to know. “It’s protocol, ma’am.”

“I’m fine,” she insisted. “Can we just drop it?”

“There are more, aren’t there?” he concluded. “That bruise was not there the morning we flew out.” A rush of heat flooded him. “One of his goon’s did this?”

“No.” she said slowly, after many moments of silence floated between them. “The man himself.”

Adam felt as though the breath had been knocked right out of him. He struggled to form a thought, a sentence. Any coherent reaction to what she had just told him. “Bastard,” he breathed out. “He cannot get away with this.”

“We were alone Adam. It’s my word against his,” she told him.

Adam threw his hands up in the air. “You’re the Secretary of State.”

“And he’s the President of Russia.”

He furrowed his brow. “And that makes it okay? A passable offense?”

“Of course it doesn’t make it okay,” she said. “It just makes it complicated.” she sighed. “Besides Hudson took care of it.”

“So, your team does know?”

Hillary shook her head. “Just Hudson,” she revealed. “We’re going to keep it to ourselves…okay?”

That didn’t sit well with Adam. “That’s bullshit.”

“Yeah, well, sometimes we have to deal with bullshit.”

“And the President?” he hedged. “Does he know?”

She nodded. “Yes, Barack knows what happened,” she answered. “He’s not very happy, obviously. He’s going to take care of it.”

 

Adam shook his head. “You know I was referring to President Clinton, ma’am.”

A deep breath filled her lungs and then she exhaled slowly. “Bill cannot know what happened, Adam. He’ll go ballistic and I don’t want anymore press right now. I’m supposed to be apolitical in this position.”

“I don’t agree with your decision,” he told her, flatly. “But it’s your business not mine. I won’t mention a word to him.”

“Thank you.”

“You never answered my question. There are more marks, aren’t there?” he asked. “You need to show me.”

Hillary was reluctant. “It’s fine, really.”

“You have a charity event in a few days,” he reminded her. “It’s important I know where they are and how to cover them.”

Utter defeat washed through her. Adam was a hundred percent right. There was nothing she could do to get out of the charity event. And she had to show him the extent of her injuries. Her hands went for the scarf around her neck, Adam eyes going wide upon realization of what she was hiding. She undid the knot but then stopped, letting her hands fall away. Her eyes met his and he swallowed hard.

“It’s okay,” his voice cracked as he reached for the silk. “I’m just going to take it off.” Hillary nodded, closing her eyes. Quickly, like ripping off a bandaid, he told himself. His hands gathered the end of the scarf in his hand. Quick like a bandaid. His pulse sped up. His stomach in knots. He slowly pulled the silk away, revealing another handprint at her collarbone, a thumb print over her windpipe. His breath caught in his throat. And he held it for several long seconds, fighting back tears, before exhaling unsteadily through his nose.

“Yeah, there’s no way in hell President Clinton can know about this.”

Hillary opened her eyes, tears spilling down her face. “Thank you, Adam.”

He pulled her into his arms and held her tightly against him. He wanted to her to feel safe and secure. After a few moments she relaxed into his warm embrace. “I’m here,” his hands gently smoothed over her back, soothing her. “Whatever you need, I’m here.”

“I don’t want to talk about it right now.”

Adam dropped a kiss into her hair. “That’s okay. But we’re going to have to talk about it. And soon.”

“I know.”

“Please tell me Hudson at least punched him.”

She nodded against his chest. “Right in the throat.”

The stood together in comfortable silence for a several long moments. He wanted to be strong for her, to be able to help her relax. Questions could be answered later right now she needed to be comforted, to feel safe. And he was honored to have the privilege. To be able to give something back to this incredible woman who gave so much of herself.

“Thank you, Adam.” she whispered, softly. “Sometimes I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“Well, let’s hope we never have to find out. Besides I plan on following you where ever you go from here. And by where ever I mean the Oval.”

A slight sigh escaped her lips. “You’re such a dreamer, Adam.”

“No, I’m a believer ma’am.”

Hillary pulled back and looked up at him. “Yes, you are,” she gave him a small smile. “Keep believing because it will take you far. Hopefully farther than D.C.”

“I don’t know about all that,” he mused. “How about that bath?”

She nodded. “I think I can manage.”

“I don’t want you to be alone.”

She pulled away from him and started toward the staircase. “I’ll be fine,” she promised. “Really.”

“I know that,” he agreed. “But it’s okay not to be.”

“I appreciate that Adam,” she turned on the stairs to face him. “It all happened so quick and Hudson was in the room before I could even think to act. I would have punched the bastard myself given the chance.”

A grin pulled at Adam’s lips. “Damn straight.”

A piercing ringing filled the room. “I’ll get it,” he made his way to the entry table and reached for the phone. “It’s President Clinton.”

Hillary took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. “Tell him I’ve gone to bed.”

Adam looked up at her and back at the ringing phone. He had never known her to deny his call. Even when she was married to Dr. Dalton. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” she continued climbing the stairs. “Thank you, Adam.”

 

tbc...

Chapter Text

I’m Still Your Girl

 

Bill placed the phone back into its cradle and settled uneasy into his office chair. This was the fourth time he had called Hillary and been blown off by either Adam or Cheryl. It was reminiscent of the past. Him fucking up and her recoiling from everything that had anything to do with him.

 

He had to talk to her though. Had to explain that he had absolutely no connection to Epstein or his dirtying dealings. But he knew in his heart that she knew that. But yet she was still avoiding it. Avoiding him. The negative press that was swirling around him was blowing on her too. He had to apologize. He had to do something.

 

A heavy sigh escaped his lips and he picked up his phone again. It rang twice before a familiar voice flooded the line. “State Department, Secretary Rodham’s office.”

 

“President Clinton for Secretary Rodham.”

 

“She’s in a meeting, Sir.” Adam replied.

 

“I need to apologize, can you please just put me through?”

 

Adam sighed. “President Clinton, I’m just the messenger,” he told him. “And you know what they say about the messenger. Don’t shoot him.”

 

“I know that Hillary is upset about the press, I just want to talk to her,” he explained. “I’m trying to make things right here, Adam. Can you help me out?”

 

Adam knew that while yes the negative press did piss off the secretary, that it was much more than that. It was her tangle with Putin that was the driving force. No matter how many times she assured him over the past several hours she was fine he knew she wasn’t. He knew that she was deflecting every ounce of her pain and frustration onto the situation with the President and the press. And he so badly wanted to share this information with the former President.

 

“Mr. President, Secretary Rodham is under an extreme amount of stress right now whilst she deals with Russia. The added scrutiny of the press is only making matter worse,” he explained. He couldn’t give too much information away. He couldn’t betray her trust like that even though every beat of his heart screamed at him to tell President Clinton everything.

 

“I understand that Adam. I was the President for eight years.”

 

“I know, sir,” he sighed. “Madam Secretary is trying to remain as apolitical as possible.”

 

“I’m coming to the Gala tomorrow night,” he announced. Formally he had other plans that had been in place for months. But not now. He wanted to talk to Hillary and apparently the only way that was going to happen was face to face.

 

Adam made no objection to the President’s statement. “I’ll let her know you’re coming, sir.”

 

“Thank you,” he said, ending the call. Something wasn’t right and he was sure as hell going to get to the bottom of it.

 

/////

 

Adam knocked on the open door before entering. “Lunch,” he announced, carrying in the takeout bag.

 

“I’ll just have it here at my desk, thank you,” she replied, never looking up as she went over paperwork.

 

He began removing the contents from the bag. “Turkey and brie panini with cranberry relish. And a cup of butternut squash soup.”

 

“Sounds delicious.”

 

He opened the plastic spoon and laid it beside the covered soup cup. “Water ma’am?”

 

“Please.”

 

He made his way over to the dry bar and placed two lemons in the bottom of the glass before pouring a generous amount of water over them. “President Clinton called again, ma’am,” he said, placing the water on the coaster on her desk. “He’s rearranged his schedule and is going to be attending the gala tomorrow night after all.”

 

Hillary’s eyes snapped up. “He’s what?”

 

“He’ll be here tomorrow night,” he confirmed. “There’s no way that I can stop him. He is on the list, ma’am.”

 

“I cannot see him, Adam,” her voice was firm and unwavering. “He cannot know about what happened in Russia. I want to handle this on my own.”

 

“I tried, ma’am. He was very insistent. You should know that better than anyone,” he told her. “Besides I already intercepted three of his calls. He knows that something is up.”

 

She looked at the young man before her. “You didn’t tell him anything, did you?”

 

Adam rolled his eyes. “Of course not. You know my loyalty lies with you,” he assured her. “I just told him you were under an extreme amount of scrutiny already with this Russia deal and you didn’t want anymore negative press.”

 

She released a thankful sigh. “What about my dress?” she asked, taking the lid off her soup. “Are you absolutely sure it’s going to cover everything?”

 

“I’m positive.” He sat down across from her. “The dress is incredibly flattering and you’re going to look absolutely stunning in it. Simon will be here after lunch to make any necessary alterations.”

 

She took a few bites of soup. “You never even told me what you came up with.”

 

“I know you had your heart set on wearing the gown from President Obama’s inauguration ball, but you’ll really like this one. It’s burgundy with an empire waist and flowing silk and chiffon. The bodice is lace and comes up around your neck, just enough to cover…” he trailed off. “Then the shoulders are open with lace sleeves to finish out the look. Everything will be hidden.”

 

“I do love a cold shoulder dress.”

 

“The black dress was iconic and sexy,” he told her. “Then again you could have worn a potato sack and been sexier than Barbara Bush.”

 

Hillary chuckled. “She was quite a bit older than me, Adam.”

 

“Sexiness is either something that you have or something that you don’t,” he explained. “Age has nothing to do with it. She looked like America’s grandmother.”

 

“Are you forgetting that I’m a grandmother, Adam?”

 

“Yeah a grandmother who’s going to have on a stunning dress with the curves to fill it out.”

 

Hillary’s eyes snapped up from her lunch. “What are you not tell me about this dress, Adam?”

 

He shook his head. “I just described it to you. Besides, you’ll see for yourself when Simon gets here.”

 

“Adam,” she said, more firmly.

 

“There’s a small keyhole in the bodice,” he said, casually. “Just adds a little allure. Nothing too revealing. I promise.” He wanted her to look good. Good enough that the dress would come off and that President Clinton would discover things for himself. Releasing all three of them from this maddening game of hide and seek.

 

////

 

Adam admired the dress on the hanger in the master bedroom closet. He was almost positive this was the best dress he had ever had the honor of picking out for her. He couldn’t wait to finally see her in it. And more importantly he couldn’t wait for the Silver Fox President to see her in it.

 

He glanced in the mirror, straightening his bow tie for at least the fifteenth time. Nancy Pelosi’s new assistant Raj was going to be there, and he definitely got some flirty vibes from him the last time they were together.

 

“Still lopsided.” Hillary said, entering the closet in her satin robe. “Need some help?”

 

He pulled the tie completely loose. “Please.”

 

“You know Hayden never could tie one of these properly,” she smiled in remembrance. “Always just a little crooked even after I fixed it. I think he did it on purpose.”

 

“Man could wear a tuxedo though. Damn.”

 

Hillary chuckled as she fixed his bowtie. “Could he ever.”

 

“The same way President Clinton can wear a three piece suit,” he observed. “Who knew a vest could make a man look so sexy?”

 

The very mention of his name made her emotions swirl, no matter how hard she pushed them down. How she hated the distance between them. Distance that she created. She needed him more than ever, but her pride had gotten the best of her and she would have to follow through. “Depends on the man,” she said coyly. “But yes.”

 

Adam could not believe that he was talking up the former President. “You think he’ll have one on tonight?”

 

She concentrated on the task at hand. “I didn’t call and confirm,” she exhaled. “More than likely though. It is his go to.” She smiled and patted his chest. “Good to go. I’m sure Raj will be more than impressed.”

 

“Raj?”

 

“Mmmhmm.”

 

He arched a well-defined eyebrow. “What do you know about Raj?” he asked. “I mean why do you say that?”

 

Hillary shrugged. “Just a vibe I get.” She reached for her dress and disappeared behind the folding screen.

 

“What kind of vibe?” he eyed himself in the mirror, making sure his hair was in place.

 

“When Nancy and I were going over our trip to Kosovo I couldn’t help but notice the way he kept looking at you. And the way you kept smiling and blushing.”

 

“I don’t blush.”

 

“Oh, but you do,” she teased. “You giggle too.”

 

“I absolutely do not.”

 

Hillary appeared behind him in her burgundy dress. Adam stepped out of the way to allow her full access to the full length mirror. “Madam Secretary!” he gushed. “Is that not the perfect dress?” he asked as he stepped forward to finish zipping her up. “You look incredibly gorgeous.” He did up the few buttons on the back of her neck. “Press will be all over you.”

 

She looked herself over and was very pleased, she was even okay with the keyhole cutout. “I love it,” she smiled, brightly. The brightest Adam had seen her smile in almost three days. “As always you have excellent taste, Adam.”

 

“Thank you, Madam Secretary.”

 

Her eyes met his in the mirror. “And everything is…covered?”

 

“Yes, ma’am,” he assured her. “No one will be able to see. Even with the flashing lights of the photographers.”

 

She exhaled a sigh of relief. “Good,” she replied. “They would probably make up some story about how abusive Bill is.”

 

“My job is to protect you and I take that very seriously.”

 

“I know,” she smiled. “I can count on you and Hudson to have my back.”

 

“I speak for the both of us when I say always, Madam Secretary,” he replied. “Shall we go?”

 

Hillary grabbed her bag off the makeup table. “I suppose.”

 

Adam scoffed. “You know you’re excited about seeing the Silver Fox.”

 

“I want to keep my distance from Bill. At least until these bruises heal.”

 

“As you wish, ma’am,” he told her. “But you know I don’t agree with keeping it from him.”

 

“Since when are you a fan of Bill’s?”

 

“I’m a fan of honesty in relationships,” he replied. “And I happen to believe in true love. You know I’m a romantic.”

 

Hillary laughed and headed out of the master. “Yes, I know you believe in true love. After all you’ve had so many.”

 

“Have not,” he scoffed, following her.

 

“Vanessa, Jeremy, Evan, Zoe, Penelope, Blonde Evan, Sam….”

 

“Touché,” he sighed. “Billary 2.0 is different. Magical. A grand love story. Gives the rest of us hope.”

 

“How much have you had to drink already?”

 

“Sober, ma’am,” he replied. “But maybe a drink in the limo to relax you.”

 

Tbc….

Chapter Text

I’m Still Your Girl

 

When Bill arrived at the event, he came in the backdoor to allude the press. He wanted to respect Hillary’s wishes of keeping the press at bay but at the same time he absolutely had to see her. Her avoidance was killing him, and he didn’t know how much more he could possibly take. Things had been tense for her since the issues with Russia started six weeks ago, but she had never not returned a call or checked in with him. He felt as though she was pulling away.

 

His eyes scanned the room for her, but she was nowhere to be found. Nervousness seemed to overcome him, and he made his way to the bar for a little something to calm him down.

 

“Fancy meeting you here, stranger.” George’s Texan accent cut through the background chatter in the room. “Thought you had other plans?”

 

“I’d rather be here.”

 

George sat his glass down on the bar. “Jake, refill mine and get Billy here a bourbon. Thank you.” He returned his attention back toward Bill. “Trouble in Paradise?”

 

“What makes you say that?”

 

“It’s written all over your face. What happened? Pressure of being arm candy get to you?” he chided. “I mean all those new suits and the dinners and events like this one must be absolutely exhausting.”

 

Bill picked up the tumbler the bartender sat down in front of him. “Funny, Junior.”

 

“I try,” he replied. “Seriously though, everything okay?”

 

“Hillary isn’t pleased about the negative press.”

 

George nodded. “Seems fair enough. It’ll blow over though. What are you going to do about it in the meantime?”

 

“Apologize.”

 

He sucked in a breath and shook his head. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

 

“Oh, yeah?” he countered, taking a drink. “And why is that?”

 

“I know you’re still in the honeymoon period of things, but have you forgot what Hellcat is like when she’s mad? It’s best to let sleeping dogs lie, man.” he advised. “Time and space and she’ll be back on the Clinton express in no time.”

 

Bill shook his head. “How are you and Laura still married?”

 

“I’m a romantic,” he beamed, proudly. “And I have a lot of money. I’m sure that helps.”

 

“I’m sure.”

 

“Did you try flowers?”

 

“Dozens.”

 

“Phone calls?”

 

“She won’t return them.”

 

“Life Insurance?”

 

Bill gave him a confused look. “What?”

 

“I’m trying to make sure Chelsea is set because your Yankee girl Is going to spit roast you right in the middle of this room.”

 

“Thank you for the encouragement.”

 

George shrugged. “Hey, I’m just trying to give you fair warning. The way Senator Rodham used to come at me when I was President…shew. I would not want to be you right now.”

 

“George!” Laura admonished. “Please leave Bill alone.”

 

“I was just giving him some advice.”

 

Laura rolled her eyes. “I’m sure you were,” she sighed, heavily. “How are you President Clinton? You’re looking awfully dashing tonight.”

 

Bill grinned and reached for Laura’s hand. “Well thank you Lady Bush, you’re looking rather lovely yourself.” he placed a kiss to the back of her hand. “How are things in Texas?”

 

She glanced back at George and then back to Bill. “Dry, I’m afraid.”

 

He laughed. “How about a drink then?” he asked. “Might help settle the dust. Let’s hunt down a waiter.”

 

George watched as the two of them went off in search of flutes of champagne. He shook his head. Bill had one upped him again. He heard a clearing of the throat and turned slightly to see Hillary’s assistant approaching him. “What can I do for you, son?” he asked, clapping him on the shoulder.

 

Adam winced. “Easy, Cowboy,” he replied. “Why are Texans so rough? Geez,” he sighed. “I need your assistance with something.”

 

“Is this about Billary?”

 

He nodded. “Without going into the details, there’s a bit of an issue and she’s freezing him out.”

 

“And you actually want them to patch things up?”

 

Adam rolled his eyes. “Yes, I know it sounds contrary coming from me, but this is really important. Intercepting phone calls and keep all their shit straight is a maddening task. I just want freedom. You can understand that, can’t you?”

 

George crossed his arms over his chest. “What did you have in mind?”

 

“I just need something to get the two of them together alone in the same space and I think the rest will work itself out.”

 

“You want to lock them in the broom closet?”

 

He arched a well-defined eyebrow. “Do you know where one is?” he asked and then shook his head. “No that won’t work. They need to be brought together for a common cause.”

 

“You know who they both hate?”

 

“Mitch McConnell?”

 

“Everybody hates Turtle,” he replied. “No, Bernie Sanders. The pretend Democrat.”

 

“Oh, yeah, Senator Sanders, why didn’t I think of that? That’s perfect, President Bush. We don’t even have to do anything, he’s bound to piss one of them off tonight.”

 

“You want me to goad him a little?”

 

Adam sighed. “Could you?”

 

“For Billary 2.0? Of course!” he smiled. “Besides these things are so stuffy and boring I think we could use a little entertainment.”

 

/////

To say that she was displeased was an understatement. Seeing Bill was absolutely the last thing that she wanted right now. And it absolutely broke her heart because she loved him so much. But she knew the moment she was in his arms she would breakdown and she just wasn’t ready for that. She didn’t know if she would ever be ready. For now, it was best to keep her distance as she tried to process what happened with Putin on her own. Once she was feeling more confident she would smooth things over.

 

Hillary felt a warm hand on her back and immediately gasped. She had never been so on edge and jumpy in all her life.

 

Nancy’s hand retreated. “Are you alright, Hillary?”

 

She breathed a sigh of relief. “Sorry, Nancy,” she apologized. “I was just lost in thought,” she explained. “This issue with Russia is taking over my brain.”

 

“We’re working on sanctions. Graham won’t budge. I think he has interest there. McConnell too. Hopefully McCain can convince them.” she said, hopeful. “How was your last visit?”

 

“Uneventful.” she lied.

 

Nancy studied her. “Okay, what’s up?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Obviously something is bothering you. You’re tense, you’re distracted. Hell, you’re even avoiding Bill.” she observed. “Two of you have a fight?”

 

“No, Bill’s been great. Things are going well. Really well.”

 

“Then why do you look like you’re about to cry?”

 

Hillary sighed. “It’s just the stress of everything,” her voice was soft and she hoped like hell convincing. “The job, the kids, Bill. Hayden. It’s just…it’s a lot.”

 

Nancy nodded in understanding. “Maybe you need some time,” she suggested. “You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Why don’t we have lunch next week? A nice leisure lunch.”

 

“I’d like that,” she smiled. “I’ll have Adam give Raj a call.”

 

She chuckled. “I have to tell you, Raj is quite taken with your Adam.”

 

“I noticed that too. My dear boy was so nervous about tonight that he couldn’t tie his bowtie.”

 

“Same,” she smiled, a little deviously. “Shall we give them a push?”

 

“I don’t think it would hurt.”

/////

“Fancy seeing you here, Clinton.” Bernie clapped him on the back. “I thought this kind of soiree’s wasn’t your thing unless they benefited you.”

 

Bill drew in a deep breath. “It all depends on my schedule, Sanders,” he tried to remain as calm and even as possible. “I happened to be free tonight.”

 

“I’m surprised the press wasn’t all over you when you got here. They’ve been having quite the field day with you lately.”

 

“I suppose they’ve moved on to the next person.”

 

“I can’t imagine Hillary was thrilled with the press. Must be reminiscent of the past for her.”

 

Now he was agitated. “Bernie, what do you want?”

 

“Nothing,” he shrugged. “Just making conversation, that’s all. You don’t have to get so defensive.”

 

“I’m not defensive,” he replied. “I just don’t like your snarky bullshit remarks.”

 

Bernie held his hands up in surrender. “Hey, hey, hey! I was just trying to be friendly.”

 

“Yeah.” Bill bit back. “See you around, Sanders.”

 

As Bill started to walk away he heard Sander’s loud, grating voice behind him. “Was this the plan all along?”

 

“I’m sorry?” Bill spun around. “What are you talking about?”

 

“Hillary,” he grinned. “Now that she’s a proven leader without you it’s safe for the two of you to be back together.”

 

Bill scoffed. “You have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.”

“You don’t think it’s awfully convenient that you’re back in fold just as she’s gearing up to run for President?” he asked. “I bet she didn’t even wait until the good doctor was cold in the ground before jumping back in the sack with you. If she ever really got out of it.”

 

And that was it. That was all it took. Bill’s temper skyrocketed and before he could stop it his fist had slammed into the side of Sanders face, propelling him backwards and knocking his glasses from his face.

 

Everything in the room came to a standstill. Bill looked up to see Hillary from across the room, their eyes locking on contact. Before he could make a move, a sound, she gathered the skirt of her dress in her hands and fled the main ballroom. “Fuck!” he swore! He had really blown it now.

 

He started after her. “Hillary!” he called. “Wait!”

 

A firm hand grabbed his shoulder, pulling him back. “Not right now.” George said. “Give her some space.”

 

Bill turned to see George and Laura standing behind him. “Sanders…he…I just…”

 

Laura nodded. “We heard what he said, Bill,” she told him. “Come on, let’s get you some ice.”

 

He looked int he direction Hillary took off in. The stir of the crowd in front of him didn’t bother him a damn bit. She was all he cared about. And now he had made matters a million times worse.

 

“Come on, Bill.” Laura slid her hand into his uninjured one and started leading him away from the crowd. “George will take care of it.”

 

“Okay, folks, nothing to see here.” George said, helping Sanders up off the ground. “Go back to drinking and gossiping.”

 

“Thank you.” Sanders replied.

 

“Don’t ever thank me, Bernie,” he said, handing him his glasses. “I would have done more than punched you in the face had you said something like that about Laura. I guess that’s the difference between Arkansas and Texas.”

 

 

tbc…

Chapter Text

I’m Still Your Girl

 

Hillary’s hands pushed hard against the heavy wooden bathroom door flinging it open so that she could escape the outside world. Slow even breaths had carried her from the main ballroom until she was safely tucked behind a closed door. Her hands gripped either side of the porcelain sink. The only sound filling the room was her now forced breathing.

 

A glance in the mirror revealed flushed skin. Her eyes stung with the threat of tears. She couldn’t remember ever being more furious than she was in that very moment. Bill’s temper was something that she had almost forgotten about. Foolishly, she thought that perhaps time and space and age had mellowed that aspect of him. How wrong she had been.

 

It was a mess. A huge fucking mess. All of it. Russia. Bill. Putin. Sanders. The bruises pressed into her pale flesh. Keep secrets. She felt as though she was suffocating. The collar of her dress felt tighter and tighter. Her hands reached for the buttons on the back of the neck, quickly undoing them and letting the lace fall down around her collarbone.

 

Purple, edged in green, stared back at her from the reflection in the mirror. Her fingertips grazed over the bruise at her throat. She had never felt so weak in all her life. All the anger brewing inside of her was at herself. Not at Bill or even Putin for that matter. She felt defeated. Like a complete and utter failure. And for the first time in forever she had no clue what to do next.

 

There was a bit of commotion on the other side of the door. “I’m sorry, Mr. President, Secretary Rodham is inside.” The warning was clearly ignored, and the door opened.

 

Her hands gathered the lace, quickly pulling it up around her neck. “Not now, Bill!”

 

“Relax, Hellcat, it’s just me.” George said, rounding the corner.

 

“Junior.” she exhaled. “For some reason hearing you called Mr. President is still…

 

He arched an eyebrow. “Foreign?”

 

“Yeah, we’ll go with that.” Her fingers struggled with the buttons on the back of her gown.

 

“May I?” he asked, stepping closer to her.

 

Hillary held the dress firmly against her throat. “Thank you.”

 

“You women and all your buttons and eyelets,” he murmured. “But I reckon it’s worth the finished product.” He smiled at her in the mirror. “There you are, Cinderella.”

 

Images of Hayden danced thru her mind. He was always there. A blessing and a curse. Easing things. Complicating things.

 

Hillary looked up at him and met grey-blue eyes. They were kind, little lines framing them and when he smiled slightly it made the cleft in his chin even more prominent. For some reason she couldn’t explain she felt safe with him. And so she placed her hand in his and funnily enough it seemed to fit well.

 

Hayden helped her to her feet, waiting for her to step back into her ballet flats. “Ready, Cinderella?”

 

She chuckled. “Cinderella wore glass slippers.”

 

“Touché.” he laughed. “I was hoping to play Prince Charming if only for a moment.”

 

“Then far be it from me to crush your dreams.”

 

Fresh tears sprung forward in her eyes. Her heart clenched. How could she miss him so much, ache for him, and his touch, yet be so unequivocally in love with Bill? Maybe all of this was her punishment. Caught between two men. One living and breathing, the other a ghost, a memory, a thought caught between two silent moments.

 

“Now, now, Madam Secretary, no more tears,” he soothed, squeezing her shoulders. “Sanders deserved it.”

 

Hillary nodded and turned to face George. “I don’t even know what Bernie did and I still think he deserved it.”

 

“Billy was defending you.”

 

“I figured as much.”

 

“I don’t know what’s going on between the two of you…”

 

Hillary’s eyes lowered to the floor. “I’m just under an extreme amount of pressure…Russia…”

 

His fingertips tilled her chin up until their eyes met. “Let him in.” his eyes searched hers. “He understands better than anyone. And yes, I know the publicity with Epstein is bad timing, but nobody with a brain believes that shit anyway.”

 

“You’re giving your colleagues a lot of credit there, Junior.”

 

“Touche,” he quipped. “Point is, the two of you need to work things out. This avoidance bullshit solves nothing. Unless you’re looking for an out.”

 

A well defined eyebrow arched. “An out?”

 

“Are you having second thoughts about being with Bill again?” he studied her reaction. “It’s okay if you are, but you need to be honest with him.”

 

She shook her head. “No, no….no! It’s not that. I…I’m struggling…George,” she sighed, heavily. “I love Bill. Very much.”

 

“We both know that love isn’t always enough.”

 

“This has nothing to do with Bill, okay? Yes, the press scrutiny doesn’t sit well, but there was an incident in Russia. Something that…rattled me. I can’t wrap my head around it, and I don’t know…”

 

“Know what?”

 

She took a deep breath and exhaled. “Bill’s temper. I can’t have him jumping off the deep end and doing something stupid.”

 

George nodded. “I understand that, but pushing him away? That’s not the answer, Hillary. Whatever happened you need to tell him. The sooner the better.”

 

“I know.”

 

/////

 

Laura led Bill into the kitchen. “Sit down over there,” she pointed to a stool. “I’ll get some ice.”

 

“Thanks,” he replied. “It’s really not that bad.”

 

She grabbed a towel and opened a freezer door. “I’m not saying he didn’t deserve it, but you did hit him pretty hard, Bill.”

 

“You’re right.” he agreed. “He did deserve it. I can’t stand that guy.”

 

She scooped some ice into the towel. “Not many can from my understanding,” she walked back toward him. “He was most certainly out of line. I’m sure Hillary understands that.”

 

Bill hung his head. “I don’t know, Laura. She’s been avoiding me for days now. Ever since the thing with Epstein. She’s lived her life pretty much in peace since the divorce and I’ve been around less than 4 months and I’m already fucking things up for her.”

 

“I’m sure she doesn’t see it that away, Bill,” she reached for his hand and pressed the towel gently down on his knuckles. “She loves you. She knows the truth. And she knows the press better than anyone.”

 

“She’s pissed,” he winced in discomfort. “And that was before I punched Sanders. I’ve made a mess of things. There’s no use to sugar coat it.”

 

“No, there’s not. But now you have an opportunity to make things right. I think the two of you need to sit down and talk. That’s the only way you’re going to solve any of this,” she told him. “Face to face.”

 

“Spoken like a teacher.”

 

“It’s sound advice,” she pulled back the towel to have a look at his hand. “I’m surprised you didn’t bust your knuckles on his glasses.” She pressed the towel back down. “How’s the pain?”

 

“Not too bad,” he replied. “I shouldn’t have punched him but when he made that comment about Hayden…I just couldn’t…Hayden was a damn good man. He’s the one that truly deserved Hillary.”

 

“Hayden’s gone,” she reminded him. “It was tragic and unfortunate, but he’s not coming back. It’s not about deserving anything. Hillary has chosen you, Bill. Don’t let her go just because things have gotten complicated.”

 

“I don’t know,” he breathed out. “Maybe it’s for the best. All I’ve ever done is hurt her. I was an idiot to think things would be different this time.”

 

“We both know that’s not true, Bill. Yes, you’ve hurt her, but you’ve also made great strides to change, to be a better person. I honestly don’t think she would be with you now if she didn’t think you were different. I don’t think she would put herself through that again.”

 

“Deep down I know that,” he admitted softly. “I’ve always loved her very much, just not very well.”

 

“I know,” she said, softly. “You have this wonderful chance to have this fresh start. Are you just going to let it slip away or are you going to fight for your girl?”

 

Bill swiped at a tear he didn’t realize had fallen. “Well, when you put it like that.”

 

Laura smiled. “It’s all about perception. Now hopefully George hasn’t made a huge mess of things…”

 

“Their relationship is…interesting. Endearing almost.”

 

“Oh, Bill,” she laughed. “George is scared of Hillary.”

 

He chuckled. “I’ve seen him run from you too.”

 

“He’s smarter than he’s given credit for.”

 

The side door to the kitchen opened and George poked his head inside and motioned for his wife. “Come on, babe.”

 

Laura looked up. “Everything okay?”

 

“Yes, fine,” he opened the door wider and revealed Hillary. “Let’s grab another drink and then maybe a dance.”

 

“Chin up,” she said, removing the ice pack she had been holding against his hand. “You’ve got this.” She made her way toward the door, passing the towel to Hillary. “Personally, I would have hit Bernie a hell of a lot harder,” she whispered as she leaned into her. “And I know you would have too.”

 

“Probably.”

 

“Talk.” Laura advised.

 

Hillary nodded and made her way across the room as George and Laura vacated the room. “Still one hell of a left hook.”

 

“I’m not proud of it,” he replied. “I knew better. I just didn’t care at the moment.”

 

She reached for his hand, knuckles red and slightly swollen. “Hindsight,” she murmured, pressing the towel against him. “What exactly did he say?” she asked. “You know what? I don’t even need to know. It’s not important.”

 

“Hey, it is important. And I want you to know why I did it,” he told her. “I don’t want to keep anything from you. Secrets don’t work, we both know that too well.”

 

Her heart clenched. “Yes.”

 

“He made a remark about Hayden. Implied that he was just a placeholder. I didn’t even think I just reacted. And I know that it was wrong, but…I couldn’t let him say that. Think it.” He looked up into her eyes. “You were a good wife. A faithful one. In both of your marriages. But I want you to know that I am sorry, it was never my intention to hurt you tonight. Personally, or politically.”

 

“I would hardly call punching Bernie political damage,” she scoffed. “He’s a waste of time and a good congressional seat.”

 

A smile tugged at his lips. “I believe I’ve heard that comment before.”

 

Hillary shrugged. “Some things never change.”

 

“But some things do,” he implored softly, gaining to his feet in front of her. “I’m a man of many faults. You know them all,” he said, softly, his eyes burning into hers. “I’ve worked very hard to be the man that’s standing before you now.”

 

Oh no. No. No. No! It was all wrong. It was never her intention for things to lead here. Things had gone too far. Bill doubting himself after so much hard work simply wasn’t fair.

 

Bill studied her face. “You have to know, the only contact I ever had with Jeffrey Epstein was the one time he visited my office. That’s it. I know this could be so easy to believe…”

 

“Bill,” she interrupted. “I don’t believe any of that shit with Epstein.”

 

He visibly took a deep breath and exhaled heavily. “Thank you,” he said. “I know that the press is giving you a hard time and I’m so sorry. I hate that they’ve dragged you into this.”

 

“It’ll pass. It always does.”

 

“I don’t understand,” he said. “What’s wrong then?”

 

Hillary looked at him, really looked at him. She studied the lines on his face, the concern etched there, the softness in his light blue eyes. It made tears well up in her eyes. And she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t worry him further. Couldn’t lay the burden of what happened with Putin at his feet. Temper or no temper.

 

“I’m fine,” she lied. “Incredibly stressed out, there’s a lot going on. I’m not doing a very good job of balancing everything right now. I’m sorry I’ve been distant and ignoring you.”

 

Something told him things weren’t quite right, but he didn’t want to push it. Right now he just wanted her. “Apology accepted,” he replied. “I know what you’re going through and you’re doing a better job than what you think,” he smiled. “And that dress…” his eyes sailed over every inch of her. “It’s incredible.”

 

“Credit goes to Adam. He’s the one who picked it out.”

 

Bill shook his head. “Adam may have picked it out, but all the credit goes to you,” he licked his lips. “You fill it out rather nicely.”

 

Her cheeks flushed. Her heart soared. Oh how he missed him. How she needed him. “You think so?”

 

“Mmmhmm.”

 

“Well, thank you, Mr. President.”

 

“You’re very welcome, Madam Secretary.”

 

An exasperated sigh filled the large kitchen. “For the love of God, just kiss him already!” Adam lamented.

 

Bill smiled down at her. “I wholeheartedly agree with him, just this once. You probably should just kiss me already.”

 

“I should?” she inched closer to him.

 

“Oh, definitely,” his hands settled on the curve of her waist, pulling her impossibly close.

 

Everything suddenly felt right again. In that moment, with the feel of his hands against her body, it was like she was whole again. Nothing else mattered. Her full lips softly met his, but they swiftly parted and pulled his bottom lip between hers. She dominated the kiss, equal parts passion and delicacy. A dance they did so well together.

 

Adam cleared his throat. “I said kiss not fu…” he glanced down at his watch. “You have to be on stage in twenty minutes, ma’am.”

 

Bill motioned him away. They had some catching up to do. And then maybe she would open up to him.

 

Tbc…

Chapter Text

I’m Still Your Girl

 

The drive back to Whitehaven seemed outlandishly far. A room upstairs in the hotel was much more appealing. And so, they embarked on a little journey. Ducking guests, climbing back stairwells, and ditching Secret Service led them to a small but lavish suite on the third floor.

 

His fingers pressed into the flesh of her hips as she keyed them in the room. “My, my, Madam Secretary,” he taunted. “Aren’t you full of surprises?”

 

The warmth of his hands even through the fabric of her dress seemed to set her on fire. “It’s not my first rodeo.”

 

“Oh, I’m more than aware.” he closed the door behind them.

 

“My game has only improved.”

 

His hands sought her out again, settling on the curve of her waist and pulling her toward him. “You were always so good at find the perfect place for solace in the midst of chaos.”

 

She gave him a sly smile. “If you mean finding the perfect place to have sex then you’re absolutely right.”

 

“It was about more than sex,” he told her. “It was always about more than sex with you. We always had a deeper connection, from the first time I laid eyes on you.”

 

Hillary’s eyes grew misty. She swallowed down her emotions. “Here I am trying to sneak you away for a rendezvous and you’re being sentimental.”

 

“I thought you liked when I was romantic?”

 

“I do,” she replied, her lips inching closer to his. “I also like it when we’re completely alone together. So how about less talking and you show me how much you really missed me?”

 

Bill’s lips brushed against hers. “Now that sounds like a challenge.”

 

“Think of it as more as a dare,” she smiled. “What do you say. Mr. President?”

 

His mouth captured hers. And he kissed her thoroughly. Erotically slow and buttery smooth making a fiery ache settle heavily between her thighs. God, how she had missed him. Leaving his bed in Arkansas was difficult but the goodbye he gave her left her throbbing and deliciously sore for days.

 

“How’s that for an answer?” he asked, his lips easing back from hers.

 

“That’s a start,” she hooked her fingers into his belt. “Bedroom’s this way,” she took a few steps backward, pulling him with her. “I think we’ll be more comfortable there.”

 

“Is it comfort you’re seeking, darlin’?” he stepped into her, stilling her movements. “Because I was going to offer something much more appealing.”

 

Her breath hitched in her throat. “Oh, yeah? What’s that?”

 

Bill leaned into her and brought his mouth next to her ear. His breath was hot against her and his words even hotter. “Every inch of me filling you.”

 

A shiver ran down her spine. “Promises, promises,” she taunted. “Maybe I should take the lead.” Her hands tugged at his jacket, his tie, and lastly his shirt until they littered the floor around them. Short manicured nails raked over his chest and trailed down to his abdomen.

 

A strong hand gripped her wrist and he guided her hand down to the prominent bulge in the front of his pants. “Is this a better answer for how much I’ve missed you?”

 

She began stroking him on her own accord. “I don’t know. I think I’m going to have to get a better view.”

 

“I’m all yours.” He bit down on his bottom lip as she hastily undid his belt, her hands pulling at his slacks until cool air wafted against his heated flesh. A sigh of relief escaped his throat the moment her warm hand slid around his still swelling cock. She lightly stroked up and down before squeezing him gently. His hand immediately covered hers. “Don’t tease.”

 

“I wouldn’t dare,” she looked up at him through thick mascara coated lashes. “Not with how insanely wet I am.” Her words made him throb in her hand.

 

“Hillary,” he breathed out.

 

Her eyes never left his. “Yes, Bill?”

 

“I need you so much,” he husked. His mouth lowered against hers and he started the most sensual, intoxicating battle as he slowly backed her in the direction of the bedroom. He gripped her hips as he pushed her up against the wall with a gentle thud, his mouth never once leaving hers as he brough his hands up to cup her face, dominating their kiss.

 

The jolt of the wall behind her jarred her, and panic began to set in. Her heartbeat quickened and her stomach twisted into knots. Bill’s hand had slipped down to her neck, just like it had done countless times before. Fingertips caressing and exploring. And suddenly she couldn’t breathe. She broke their kiss. “No! Stop!” she cried out, her hands pushing into the planes of his chest and shoving him away as hard as she could. “Stop! Please don’t!”

 

Bill stumbled back, suddenly sober from desire. “Hillary,” he said, gently. “What’s wrong?” And when he didn’t get a quick enough response he immediately started apologizing. “Did I hurt you? I’m sorry, baby I didn’t mean to.”

 

Hillary immediately burst into tears. Everything had finally caught up with her and she couldn’t hold it in any longer. Sobs wracked her body as hot tears spilled down her face leaving a trail of smeared makeup in its wake.

 

He quickly did up his pants. “Honey,” he took a step toward her, “tell me what’s wrong.”

 

She held her hands up. “Please don’t touch me.” she sobbed, pressing herself further into the wall.

 

Bill backed away, hands raised in front of him. “Okay, okay. I’m not going to touch you. Can you please just tell me what’s going on?”

 

“I…” her eyes slammed closed, she couldn’t bare to look at him. “I can’t.” she rasped. “I don’t want to tell you.”

 

“You can’t or you don’t want to?” he asked, gently. “You can tell me anything, Hillary, you know that. I love you. I’m here for you no matter what. I want to help you. Please let me help you.” He was met by silence. “Did something happen in Russia?” he swallowed hard, his mind working to quickly put the pieces together. “Did someone…hurt you? Putin?”

 

Her eyes flew open upon his question and he knew. He just knew. She didn’t need to answer. Bill took a deep steady breath and prepared himself for what might come next. “What happened?” he kept his voice calm and collective. “Can you please tell me what happened?”

 

Hillary sniffled and wiped unsuccessfully at smeared makeup as she tried to calm down and get her bearings. Because she didn’t want to face what happened, but she knew she had to. She owed that much to the man she loved. And to herself. “He grabbed me by the arm…we were alone in his study…negotiations were going south, and I decided to leave the room.”

 

“Okay,” he said, softly. “and then what happened next?”

 

“I tried to pull out of his grasp, but he wouldn’t let me go.” She swiped at more fallen tears. “He pushed me against the wall and pinned his knee between mine.”

 

Bill’s breath caught in his throat and he held it. He nodded his head to gently nudge her to continue.

 

She fought to keep her eyes open and her attention on Bill. She didn’t want to picture Putin in her mind. “His other hand…went around my throat…he kept pressing his weight into me.” she wept so softly and so brokenly that Bill felt his heart aching. “I was completely frozen in fear…I couldn’t move…I couldn’t breathe…cry for help…I just couldn’t, Bill.”

 

“It’s not your fault,” he tried to assure her. “None of this is your fault.”

 

“I shouldn’t have met with him alone,” she tried to reason, “I knew better but I did it anyway. How could I have been so stupid?”

 

Bill eased toward her. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered. “I wish I could have been there. I wish I could have protected you.”

 

“I’m the one who’s sorry, I wanted to handle it on my own…” she started to cry again. “but I can’t, I just can’t.”

 

He reached out to her, his hands gently touching her shoulders. “You’ve nothing to be sorry for, Hillary. You did nothing wrong. Nothing.”

 

Dark blue eyes pierced his. “Then why do I feel so guilty? Like I’ve failed?” she asked through tears. “Why do I feel so…tainted?”

 

Something snapped within Bill. Tainted. He did not like that word. Not one bit. His mind swirled unanswered questions. “You’re not tainted. Putin is a vile human being,” he said, firmly. “Listen to me,” his hands gently cupped her face. “I love you. I love you so much. Nothing could ever change that. Sure as hell not that man.”

 

“There are…bruises, Bill,” her eyes went downcast. “the dress was chosen to conceal them…”

 

Anger rose in Bill’s chest, but he pushed it down. “Can you show me?” he asked. “are you comfortable with that?” He tilted her chin upward to look into her eyes. “Hey, I don’t want to force you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with.”

 

She thought about it for a few moments before shaking her head. “Okay.” She relented. “I need you to unzip me. There are eyelets up my neck.”

 

“I’ll be careful,” he promised her. “Whenever you’re ready. Take your time.”

 

Hillary nodded and took a deep breath. “As much as this hurts, I just want to get it over with,” she told him. “I want to be able to move past this.” Ever so slowly, she turned until her back was facing him.

 

“I’m going to start with the eyelets,” Bill announced before he reached out to touch her. He willed his hands not to shake as long fingers undid the fasteners down her neck. When his task was completed, he moved toward the zipper. “Are you okay? Do you want me to continue?”

 

She exhaled heavily and drew in a calm breath. “Yes.”

 

The sound of the zipper reverberated throughout the suite. So far, he hadn’t seen any marks on her alabaster skin. It relieved him and terrified him at the exact same time. He watched as she turned back around to face him, blood rushing, heart racing, prayers lifted.

 

“Take your time,” he advised. “You need to do this on your own time. Your own way.”

 

Her hand went up to her throat, fingers splaying over lace. “I didn’t want you to know,” she admitted. “I didn’t want you to ever see…”

 

“Nothing, nothing can ever change the way I feel about you,” he assured her. “I love you, Hillary.”

 

Hillary closed her eyes and slowly let the lace slip from her fingers. It was one of the hardest things she ever had to do and certainly the most vulnerable. She was open and exposed and that alone made her feel like a failure. Made her feel dirty and damaged.

 

The marred skin staring back at him was a swift kick in the gut. He had never felt so many emotions at once. He took a few deep breaths to keep his composure, but his blood was rushing with white hot rage. He could feel the heat rising in his chest. “I love you,” he told her again, his voice cracking. “I love you so much and I want to help you any way that I can. Just tell me what you need, tell me what you want me to do. I’ll do anything for you.”

 

Seeing the tears in his eyes was the one thing she had wanted to avoid. She was already in so much pain and she didn’t want to drag him down with her. His love for her was all encompassing and she knew that she could count on him but a part of her was so angry at herself she couldn’t see past it. Being completely honest though was something she owed them both. “There are more, Bill.”

 

Silent tears fell down his face as he watched her lower the dress, his eyes immediately falling on the very visible handprint on her arm. And before he could even register the damage that son of a bitch had caused the dress fell farther down, pooling around her feet. Bruises peppered her thighs and Bill began to suffocate. His hand covered his mouth and he choked on the sob that escaped his throat.

 

“Oh, no, Bill!” she loudly interrupted his thoughts. “He didn’t! I don’t think that was his intention, he just wanted to scare me. I think. It all happened so fast, but it felt like forever.” Fresh tears sprung forward. “Hudson came in and everything after that everything is kind of fuzzy,” she recalled, wrapping her arms around her body. “I just….I…”

 

“Whatever you want.” he slowly reached out to touch her hand, careful not to scare her. “Just tell me what you need.”

 

“I just want to go home.” she covered her hand with his, “Can you just take me home?”

 

“Yeah, of course,” he whispered.

 

tbc….

Chapter Text

Home. It was easier said than done. With two full teams of security things were tricky. Exit strategy had to be thought out. And whilst Secret Service always had multiple exit plans for escape, Bill and Hillary’s diversion to the upstairs suite created a bit of chaos. One that would take a little time to remedy.

There was a soft knock at the door before it was gently pushed opened and then quickly closed behind the Bushes. They found Bill pacing in the living area. After exchanging looks with each other and George nodded for Laura to speak first.

“Bill?” she called softly. “What’s going on? Where’s Hillary?”

He pointed his thumb over his shoulder in direction of the closed bedroom door. “Can you help her fix her makeup?”

Laura’s eyebrows furled. “Makeup?”

“Yeah,” he breathed out. “Um…”

She watched him closely. Bill Clinton speechless did not happen. And she couldn’t quite read his expression. Silence lingered and tears gathered in his eyes. “Bill?” she said, reaching out for his arm and stopping him mid pace. “What’s happened?”

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “When Hillary met with Putin…there was a physical altercation...she was hiding it.”

Her inhalation caught in her throat and she held it for several long seconds. “Altercation?” she needed him to clarify.

“He grabbed her and pinned her against the wall…” the calmness of his voice started to fail him, thick with emotion and holding back sobs. “He choked her…there are several bruises.”

Laura reached out, her other hand resting on his opposite bicep. Wanting to comfort him, to steady him. “Oh, God, Bill,” she breathed. “That’s unacceptable. How is she?”

“Honestly? I’m not sure,” he confessed. “Everything is so raw. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her breakdown like that before…not ever. Not with all the stupid shit I put her through.” Fresh tears streamed down his face. “All she wants to do is go home and I can’t even give her that.”

“George and I are here to help. Whatever we can do, okay?” she pulled him into a tight embrace and gently rubbed his back.

After several long moments Bill pulled back and took her hands in his. “Thank you,” he gave them a gentle squeeze. “You have no idea how much this means to me.”

“Of course,” she replied. “I’ll check on her, okay?” He nodded and she slipped her hands out of his grasp and made her way to the ajar bedroom door. She knocked softly and then waiting for a reply before entering and closing the door behind her.

George had been silent during the entire exchange. His mind darting back to his earlier conversation with Hillary in the bathroom. She talked about an incident in Russia and her fear of Bill’s temper. It didn’t sit well with him at the time, but he left it alone. In fact, he had encouraged her to talk to Bill.

“Want a drink?” George offered.

He shook his head. “I’m good,” he replied as he started pacing again. “I need to be able to think.”

“Yeah? About what?”

“How the fuck I’m going to kill that son of a bitch.”

George nodded. “Fair enough.”

“You’re not going to try and talk me down?”

“Nope,” he breathed out. “I’m going to let you vent. For as long as you need to. Feel your feelings. That’s what Laura always tells me. Don’t hold them back.”

“If I feel them too much this room is going to need new drywall.”

“Then talk,” he suggested. “I’ll listen.”

Bill was unusually quiet for several long minutes. He continued to pace the length of open floor space. “I always fail Hillary. Always. Fucking always!” he said, angrily. “I should have been there with her. I should have protected her.”

“No one knew this would happen, Bill.”

“No!” he shook his head, furious. “I was supposed to go with her. I was supposed to be there! Something came up with the Foundation and I stayed in Arkansas. One of the biggest mistakes of my life. Had I been in Russia there was no way in hell she would have been alone with him!”

“You don’t know that.”

“I do know that! I wouldn’t have ever allowed it!” he ranted. “Her team should never have allowed it!”

“We can’t live our lives like that, not on what-ifs. You know that better than anyone. You’ve told me the same thing so many times in the past. We’re all human, we all fail. The only one to blame here is Putin,” he said, standing up. “Come here,” he interrupted Bill’s pacing and place his hands on his shoulders. “You’re not to blame, Bill. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.”

It was all too much for him. He had held it together for Hillary, wanting to be the strong one this time, the one she could count on. He swallowed down his anger and his pain and his brokenness, but now they were bubbling back up. They came back up in wracking sobs. And so there they stood. Two Presidents, two leaders of the free world, one breaking down and the other one holding him up.

/////

Laura closed the door behind her and followed the sound of Hillary’s voice. She found her sitting at the small vanity in the bathroom, stripped down to her bra and underwear, wiping at streaked eye makeup. She paused in the doorway, her hand squeezed the wood of the jamb a little too hard as she tried to ground herself. When she envisioned Hillary, she did so flatteringly. Perfect hair and makeup, smart pantsuit, smiling and waving as she exited her plane. A classy and confident woman. To see her sitting before her now completely stripped down was soul crushing.

“Here, let me.” Laura said, kicking off her heels and padding across the bathroom floor in stocking feet. She stopped in front of the mirror, their eyes meeting in the reflection, Laura held her gaze before Hillary took a deep breath and closed hers. She quietly took in the bruises on the Secretary’s neck and arm. “You’re such a strong and beautiful woman. Nothing can ever change that,” her hands resting on Hillary’s bare shoulders. “Nobody can ever change that.”

“Thank you,” she whispered as she opened her eyes. “I don’t feel like either one of those things right now.”

“All the more reason for you to hear it,” she told her. “So many women and girls look up to you. You’ve made such great strides for all of us. You should be incredibly proud, I know I am. But right now, you need to be taken care of. Can you let me do that?”

Hillary took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. “Yes.”

“Good,” she gently squeezed her shoulders. “We’re all working on getting you home. I’m going to start my fixing your makeup.” Hillary watched as Laura grabbed the accent chair from the corner of the bathroom and slid it over to the vanity. “You sit here,” she instructed, reaching for a makeup wipe. “And I promise to do my very best.”

“Thank you.”

Laura pulled the vanity stool toward her and sat down. She squeezed the wipe in her hand to warm it up, the other hand reaching for Hillary’s face. She gingerly wiped over her closed eyes, taking off what was left of her smeared eyeliner and mascara. “I love when they show you exiting your plane on the news. Big sunglasses, fitted pantsuit, blonde hair blowing in the wind. You’re like grown up Barbie.”

Hillary couldn’t help but laugh, soft and authentic. “I’ve never really thought of it like that.”

“I’m sure lots of little girls do,” she smiled at the sound of her laughter. “Modern day wonder woman.”

“We’re all wonder woman,” she replied. “All of us in our own way.”

“You’re right about that. How else could I be married to George for so long?” she reached for another makeup wipe, again warming it up in her hand. “Takes great strength and determination on my part.”

“Oh, you’re perfect together,” she told her. “You have such a grounding effect on each other. That’s rare. I had that with Hayden.”

She wiped at Hillary’s cheeks, “And with Bill?”

“Bill and I have always been too much,” she confessed. “It’s all consuming. Exhausting. Fulfilling. Maddening. Incredible. And I really hope it works for us this time.”

“You doubt that it will?” she tossed the makeup wipe and started taking various things out of the small makeup bag.

“I think Bill and I are meant to be connected. I’m just not always sure how,” she moved forward in her chair. “My position demands a lot. We’ve never had to deal with that before. We’ve never had to deal with anything like this before.”

Laura picked up a bottle of primer and squirted some on the back of her hand. “No one expects to be assaulted.”

“It’s not just that,” she said, her eyes downcast, “Sometimes I still have doubts about Bill’s fidelity. They’re unfounded and he’s not given me a reason not to trust him, I just find myself falling into old habits, you know? And I don’t want to be like that. Bill’s worked so hard at being a better man.”

She began gently applying the cream to Hillary’s face with her fingertips, gently smoothing it out. “Did something else happen in Russia?”

“What do you mean?” she shifted uncomfortably in her chair.

“Did he say something to you? Something about Bill?”

Hillary was quiet for several moments. “Nothing I’ve not thought myself,” she answered, quietly.

“Son of a bitch,” she breathed out. “Planted the seeds of doubt.”

“Yes, but I’m the one who fell for it all. Let this destructive line of thinking overtake my brain when I know better. Bill has been nothing but kind and loving and gentle. He’s been open and honest with me this entire time. He’s done nothing for me to doubt him.”

Laura picked up the glass bottle of foundation. “Putin played on old insecurities. He knew exactly what he was doing. Don’t let him win, Hillary. You know Bill better than anyone, better than he knows himself.”

“Bill has been sincere, he’s been wonderful. I’m the one who initiated things, not him. I’m the one who pursued him. I wouldn’t have done it if I thought he wasn’t a changed man.”

“Keep thinking like that.” she encouraged, starting to apply the makeup. “You’re the one in control, you have to remember that no matter what. You deserve to be happy. And you’re the only one who can decide if you’re genuinely happy or not.”

“I am happy. Well before everything got all fucked up. I should have been honest with Bill from the moment it happened. I thought I could carry it, you know?” she sighed. “I honestly don’t know what I was thinking.”

“It’s all out in the open,” she told her. “Now you can work on healing. Let Bill help you. Let your kids. All of us. You just have to be willing to let us in.”

/////

Hillary exited the bedroom with her hair back in place, new makeup applied, and her dress hugging her figure. The epitome of grace and class. The façade was holding everything together like a bandaid because on the inside she was a falling apart. Broken and angry. Completely overwhelmed.

Bill took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. There she was. The love of his life. He was quick to his feet and reached for both of her hands.

“You look absolutely gorgeous!” he beamed, his hands squeezing hers. “Are you ready to go home?”

“Yes,” she smiled, slightly. Sadly. “I’d like that.”

He leaned in and placed a kiss against her cheek. “I love you,” he whispered in her ear. “So much.”

“I love you, too.”.

Bill gently cupped her face in his hands. “We’re going to figure this out together. I’m going to be with you every step of the way. I promise.”

tbc…