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Out of Ashes

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Out of Ashes

 

Hillary breezed past countless staff members from the East Wing to the West Wing. Rumors had been swirling for quite some time and had really picked up in the past few weeks. At first Hillary wore a lot of dark colors and oversized sweaters but now suddenly she was no longer trying to hide it. Her rounded abdomen was on full display, her pink sweater hugging tightly to her changing body.

 

No one that the audacity to say anything though. And no one dared to say anything to any members of the press either. They would find out soon enough. Especially after such a bold move by the First Lady.

 

The door to the Oval Office was opened for her and closed behind her. Bill was finishing up a casual meeting with some aides when everything fell silent. He looked around to see his wife approaching the sofa. “Hillary?” he breathed out, doing a double take at her appearance.

 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt,” she said as she approached the team. “I’m ready to make an announcement.”

 

All eyes were on the First Lady’s midsection. Hearing the rumors and actually seeing the evidence of them were two entirely different things. “Yeah.” Bill said, getting to his feet. “We can make an announcement if you’re ready.”

 

Hillary glanced down at her stomach and then back up at her husband. “This is getting a little difficult to hide.”

 

His gaze never left her abdomen, his hand reached out to lay across the protruding bump. “How….I mean….you’re….this wasn’t here last night.”
The President was at a loss for words and his staff chuckled in the background.

 

“It seems I’ve popped,” she replied, laughing. “And not even halfway through like with Chelsea.”

 

“Yeah,” Bill breathed out, suddenly remembering that they weren’t alone. He turned back to his staff. “We definitely need to make an announcement.”

 

John Podesta released an inward sigh of relief. It seemed as though the first couple had indeed made some sort of step forward. “Hillary, come have a seat and we’ll draft a formal announcement.”

 

Hillary sat down in the spot Bill had vacated and he sat down on the arm between her and John. “I don’t want to do a live announcement,” she told him. “Just a paper statement for now, if that’s okay.”

 

“Of course,” he replied. “All things in good time.” He flipped over a page on his legal pad and began making some notes. “How much information would you like to share? Specific dates or would you like to be vague?”

 

Bill glanced at his wife and then back to John. “We don’t want the due date announced. Just say that the baby is arriving this summer. Pregnancy is going well, and we look forward to meeting them.”

 

He busied himself scribbling on the pad. “I think I can work with that,” he smiled as he looked up at them. “Now, there will have to be some sort of formal interview at some point. Who would you like to conduct it?”

 

“Oprah.” Hillary immediately responded, without much thought.

 

“I agree.” Bill added. “She’s the best choice.”

 

John nodded. “That’s easy enough. I’ll write up a formal statement and then once you’ve both okayed it, we can send it to the press.” He glanced at Hillary’s rounded abdomen. “I assume you’re okay with this information going out today?”

 

“Yes,” she replied. “There’s no hiding it now.”

 

/////

It’s with great pleasure that the First Lady and I announce that we’re expecting our second child this summer. We’re excited to share more details at the appropriate time in the next few months. The pregnancy is progressing well, and Hillary is continuing to work as a devoted servant to our country.

/////

 

The room was tense. Unreadable. Everyone in their own corners. And no one willing to give an inch. They all knew how stupid the entire scene was and yet nobody had the courage to admit it. Instead, they mulled over small talk, courtesies, and long periods of silence in between dinner courses.

 

It wasn’t until they retired to the living room without any staff that the demeaner of things started to shift. Maybe that or the several glasses of wine under everyone but Hillary’s belt. Either way more serious conversation had started but things were still dodgy.

 

“Mr. President, I’m still not sure of your request. I don’t know if I’m the man for the job. I mean surely there are more qualified candidates to be Vice President than me.” John started. “Not that I’m not honored by the invitation.”

 

Teresa cleared her throat. “What my husband is trying to politely say is that he’s not sure if the invitation was extended because of his leading ability or because of that,” she pointed to the swell of the First Lady’s stomach.

 

Hillary’s hand instinctively covered her stomach. The baby fluttering around wildly beneath her fingertips. “Both,” she admitted, honestly. “But John has the qualifications to make a great Vice President.”

 

“And it increases his proximity to you,” she surmised. “And your happy little…blessing.” There was an overt tone to bitterness in her voice.

 

Bill eyed both ladies. “We’re just trying to make the very best decision for everyone involved. I know this is a difficult situation, Teresa….”

 

“We’re just supposed to sit and take it, Bill, because we’ve both made past mistakes?” she balked. “You got caught with an intern and I had an affair with a colleague so that just automatically makes it okay to foster the relationship between our spouses?”

 

John shook his head. “That’s not what he’s saying. That’s not what I’ve been saying. Everyone in this room has made a mistake. Something we wish we could go back and redo. We should all be giving everyone a little grace here.”

 

“I’m all for giving grace,” she agreed. “I’m just not okay with her deciding to keep a baby without taking everyone into consideration.”

 

Bill’s temper flared. “The decision about the baby was Hillary’s and Hillary’s alone. It’s her body, it’s her choice.”

 

Teresa shook her head. “So, I’m supposed to be okay with the fact that my husband is having a baby with your wife?” she snapped. “Are you okay with that, Mr. President?”

 

“There’s a very good chance that this baby is Bill’s.” Hillary said.

 

“An amino would have solved all of this.”

 

Bill shook his head. “Again, Hillary’s decision and not anyone else’s.” he said. “We’re fully prepared to raise this baby together no matter what the outcome is.”

 

“That’s not fair to John,” she argued. “If he’s the baby’s father.”

 

Hillary sighed heavily. “Which is it, Teresa?” she asked. “Because it cannot be both ways.”

 

“Both ways?” she scoffed. “I’ve taken responsibility for my failures and shortcomings. It seems that you and John feel as though you get a free pass. I have news for both of you, two wrongs do not make a right. In this case it potentially made a baby.”

 

Hillary knew what she had to do. Something she wished she would have gotten in the past. Someone to consider her feelings and her life. “Teresa, I’m deeply sorry for the pain I have caused you because I know that you’re hurting. I truly never thought I would to be on this side of an affair. Not when I’ve been on the opposite side more times than I care to admit. It doesn’t feel good, it’s a lot of heartbreak and resentment and anger and the list goes on and on. Regardless of what transpired with your affair, and with Bill’s, it was wrong for John and me to have had any sort of intimate relationship. Physical or otherwise.”

 

The room fell silent again as everyone mulled over the words. “Thank you,” she finally said. “I really appreciate that, Hillary. And I know I have no right to ask for any sort of apology or explanation after what I’ve done…” tears began to well up in her eyes. “But it does mean something.”

 

Hillary got up from where she was sitting next to Bill and grabbed a tissue of the end table before sitting down on the coffee table in front of Teresa. “Here,” she offered. “You are deserving of an apology. I am sorry, Teresa. I know that’s no magical cure or anything that I could say to take it all away, but I am regretful of the choices I made. The hard truth of my actions is that there is a baby involved. A baby that could be your husband’s. I take full responsibility for this pregnancy. Now, I don’t know any other way to precede forward other than being open and honest. Offering John the Vice Presidency is to keep him close because you’re right, it wouldn’t be fair to take her away from John, just as though it wouldn’t be fair to expect Bill to raise her if she weren’t his. We might be forced to make some very difficult choices once the baby is born and we all need to be prepared and on the same page.”

 

“I’m more than willing to help Hillary raise the baby even if she turns out to be John’s.” he offered, again. “But that’s not something I feel comfortable doing if John wants to be involved.”

 

John wiped the unshed tears from his eyes. “I’ve given this a lot of thought. Actually, I think about it constantly. If this baby is mine, I really do want to be involved in their life. I just don’t know how we’re going to be able to do that given who we all are.”

 

“We still have several months to figure that out.” Bill said. “We didn’t invite you here to settle everything in one evening. Hillary wanted to open the door and extend the invitation for everyone to be involved together because it affects every one of us. Hopefully it’s a plan that we don’t have to put into motion, but we want to be prepared to do so.”

 

John sighed heavily. “I’m afraid this could be the end of my political career,” he admitted. “I know that’s selfish, but I like being in the Senate. I barely just got started.”

 

“I realize that this would be a transition. An adjustment.” Bill agreed, “but it would also open the door to the fast track for the presidency. If those are your ambitions. Or maybe a cabinet position. There are no rules when it comes to politics other than term limits. Just because it hasn’t been done doesn’t mean it cannot be done.”

 

John and Teresa exchanged glances. This could be a beneficial partnership. But then again could you ever really be partners with the Clinton’s? They were an entity all to themselves. And formidable adversaries.

 

Hillary shifted on the sofa next to Bill. “Of course, Teresa, you would be second lady and when I go on maternity leave you would step into my position until I’m comfortably settled. I expect that to be at least four months maybe six.”

 

Teresa was a bit unsettled. “This all seems too easy.”

 

Bill shrugged. “It’s convenient,” he admitted. “We all need some good press, some rejuvenation in the eyes of the nation. Undoubtedly, we got that with Al’s assassination, and now with Hillary’s pregnancy. Bringing another younger political couple on board gives you the same notoriety.”

 

“And conceals the First Lady’s baby drama.”

 

“Exactly.” Hillary admitted. “Do we have a deal or not?”

 

Bill shook his head. “Not just yet, Hilly,” he advised. “We need to know where you stand in terms of your marriage. If either of you are looking for an out now is the time to take it.”

 

Teresa almost chuckled. “John and I are a team. That’s all that matters, isn’t it?”

 

/////

 

Bill closed to the door the master bedroom and leaned up against it. “God, that felt wrong, Hillary. Incredibly, incredibly, wrong.”

 

“I know,” she sighed, sitting down on the sofa. “What else can we do though? Mistakes have already been made. We must move forward the best way we know how. Maybe it will be better like this. Everything a business transaction. No feelings, everything straight forward.”

 

“We have to prepare for the possibility that they take any and everything to the press.” Bill warned her, undoing his tie. “I’m not sure how much I trust Teresa with the information about your pregnancy.”

 

“He did the right thing by telling her.” She slipped off her heels. “We of all people know that secret keeping doesn’t do any favors.”

 

“I agree that he should have told her. I just think she’s a bit of a loose cannon. Then again, I don’t know her all that well. Maybe things will work out in our favor.”

 

Hillary sighed heavily and laid back against the sofa. “I should never have told John. I should have just kept it between us.”

 

“What did you just say about secret keeping?” he asked, sitting down in the armchair adjacent from her. “Besides I’m the one that pushed you on that one.”

 

“This entire thing just keeps getting messier.”

 

“Life is messy. Remember how happy Chelsea was when she found out? I mean after she got past the shock of it. Those are the moments we need to hold on to. Those are the moments that count.”

 

Hillary smiled, thinking back to her pregnancy with Chelsea and how it finally felt to hold her baby in her arms. The feeling of finally being a family. “God, Bill, what if she’s John’s?” her voice was barely above a whisper.

 

He got up from the chair and went over to her, taking her by the hands and pulling her up to her feet. “She is our baby. Yours and mine. DNA doesn’t matter. I know everything that I’ve said in the past, but it doesn’t matter. We discussed using a donor before and seeing what would happen. This is the same thing.”

 

“Bill, that would have been different. It wouldn’t have involved me having sex with someone else.”

 

“No, it wouldn’t have but the concept still would have been the same. I would have loved that child no different than I love this one.” His large hand snaked underneath her sweater and gently stroked the taunt skin. “The child is completely innocent. You and I on the other hand have made mistakes. We’ve taken responsibility and are moving forward because we both know that we’re better together than we are apart.”

 

There was a gentle thump against the palm of his hand, and it startled him so much that he pulled back. “What…was that…?”

 

“Could you feel it?” she asked with a smile.

 

His hand immediately reclaimed its stake against her skin. “Kicking already?” he asked in amazement. “You’re not quite twenty weeks.”

 

“I told you she was a mover.”

 

There was another thump against his hand and then another. He closed his eyes and took is all in. When he opened them, Hillary noticed the unshed tears in his eyes. “Bill?”

 

“It’s just amazing.” he said, looking down at her. “You’re amazing.”

 

“Far from,” she scoffed. “I just really want her to be yours.”

 

“Me too.” He leaned forward and pressed a kiss against her forehead. “What do you say we head to bed?”

 

“Bed?” she asked, her eyebrow ticking up. “As in together?”

 

After the news of the pregnancy Bill had moved back to the sofa. Something that was agonizing both for Hillary and his back. It was a move he deemed necessary thought, wanting to put as much physical distance between them as possible. Now that everything was out in the open there felt like a burden had been lifted off his shoulders. He felt like they could finally breathe again.

 

“Yes. Together.”

 

Tbc…