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Leave It All Behind

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Hillary's House, a Few Hours After, Midnight

Hillary was already wearing her creamy silk robe inside her bedroom, standing next to her glass sliding door overlooking her pool and garden. She held a wine glass filled with Chardonnay, lost in her thoughts as she tried to remember what happened earlier.

Bill almost kissed her, and she would be lying if she said that she did not want it. She wanted to feel his kiss and was anticipating it, but common sense told her that she should be glad that it didn't happen because it would open a can full of worms if it did.

She should feel relieved, yet that night, after a few hours, a shower, and a glass of wine, she couldn't forget it...couldn't forget him. She couldn't forget how sweet and warm Bill's presence felt. He was nice and funny. There was something so boyish about him that Hillary couldn't resist. Then there was the way he held her that made her knees go weak and the way his gaze lingered on her before he descended his head to kiss her. 

It was…tempting. 

Hillary groaned, pressing the wine glass against her forehead. The way he slid his hands to cradle her face, the way he brushed her cheeks with his thumbs as he told her that her thoughts and feelings were important for him made her feel warm and fuzzy inside. 

Hillary finished her drink and went to her bed. She slid inside the thick duvet and laid on her side thinking about his lips, his hands… Hillary turned on her back, she needed to stop or else she would be falling through this spiraling and dizzying blackhole of what-ifs. The devil inside her head was tempting her though, urging her to think of what could have been… Hillary tossed and remembered the whispers of some people that moved in her circles saying that the French actress - that was once Bill's paramour - shared that he was passionate in bed and that he could set the mattress to a flame. She said that he was always the unhurried kind, the considerate, and the pleaser. 

Hillary closed her eyes, remembering his face, and fell asleep. 

Hillary jumped from her bed when her phone rang after some time. She turned her head to the phone and answered it. 

"Hillary…" 

She felt goosebumps on her arms as Bill's husky voice reverberated through the line.

"Bill…" She said, breathless.

"I am just checking if you arrived home safe."

She pressed her cold hand against her warm forehead. "Yes, I did. Thanks for checking."

"I am sorry about earlier…"

"It's okay. Why did you call?" 

"I couldn't sleep.”

“Hmm...” 

“Hillary…”

“Yes?”

“I want you."

Beep beep beep beep

Hillary shot up, her chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath trying to calm her thundering heart. She slid back from her bed realizing that the call was just a dream. She sighed, realizing how much she wanted it to be true.

***

White House, a Few Weeks After, Morning

Bill was ten days away before his one hundred days expired. Before the expiry, he did a press conference about it. While he has several wins, he couldn't deny that he has several losses. For once, he wasn't having a good week: the tragedy in Waco, the defeat of his stimulus bill, and then the standoff in Bosnia. The stimulus bill just hit him hard. 

For his part, the White House met with the leaders of the congress but they never won over the Republicans. Bill's team met with the Republicans led by Republican Senator, Dylan Doyle. Senator Doyle was hammering him for his plan - ridiculing it rather than working with them to enhance the bill. There were a lot of negotiations and meetings so they could meet half-way, but it was a moot point. 

Bill wanted to call Hillary to discuss it but obviously, he couldn't do it. He fucked up their dinner date with his attempt to kiss her. He couldn't even believe that he did that. He got carried away that he wasn't thinking when he framed her face with his hands and brushed her cheek. Hillary looked so beautiful and vulnerable that the urge to comfort her was so strong.

So there he had it, instead of having an ally in Republican Senate leadership, he ended having none.

***

Hillary’s Office, Same Day, Afternoon

"I regret that the stimulus did not pass, and I have begun to ask and will continue to ask not only people in the administration but the people in the Congress whether there is something I could have done differently to pass that part."

Hillary watched in her office as Bill stood on the podium to answer the questions from the Press. She felt sorry for him because she knew that he was trying hard to get it passed but her team was politicizing the bill. Hillary reasoned out with Senator Doyle but she was outnumbered. The Republican Senators were vicious and seemed bent to make Bill’s political life a living hell.

“...I’ve been here for ninety days. And you know, I was a governor working with a contentious legislature for twelve years, and it took me a decade to get political reform there. So it takes time to change things. But I basically feel very good about what’s happened in the first hundred days with regard to the Congress.”

Hillary sighed, and she turned off her television. She sat on her seat, pressing her palms together thinking if she would give him a call. They haven’t talked for nearly three weeks now ever since their dinner. She saw him in the Congress but she did not greet him nor looked at his way. 

Hillary was relieved that they did not have to talk but she wouldn't deny that she actually missed talking to him.

Maybe giving him a call tonight wouldn't be so bad. 

***

Oval Office, White House, Night-Time

Work was officially done, but Bill felt a little restless. He was glad that he was able to pass the budget resolution just in the nick of time. Now, his administration was in the right direction to bring the deficit down and increase investments. He just needed a few players who could play well with him to bring this plan to fruition. 

If only he had any decency, he could still have Senator Rodham. 

Bill closed his eyes and pressed his ice-cold tumbler filled whiskey against his forehead. He couldn’t forget her, not how she looked at him. Her face lingered inside his head like some phantom.

He thought that weeks of not seeing her could cure it, but it didn’t. It made him want to see more of her. He had a glimpse of her alright, but not once she looked at his way. He couldn’t blame him. He might have scared her off. He didn’t attempt any connection for fear - 

Ring Ring Ring

Bill looked at the phone, he picked it up and an operator answered him. “Mr. President, Senator Rodham on the other line. Are you going to accept?”

Bill's heart leaped, surprised that she called him. 

“Sir?” The operator asked. “Are you going—”

“Yes," he answered. 

"Connecting you now," the operator responded, there was a beep, then her voice followed.

“Mr. President?”

Bill closed his eyes savoring the sound of her voice - steady and strong, and full of life. 

“Bill?”

He opened his eyes, “I’m sorry, it’s quite a tiring day.”

“I’m sorry, am I disturbing you?” Hillary asked. 

“No, it’s perfectly fine. I am done with work…” He hesitated, “What can I do for you?” Bill asked.

It was a tad too formal, and Hillary suddenly had an urge to find a work-related topic to talk about, but it was already Friday and past office hours so obviously, she wasn’t calling for work reasons. 

“I called to congratulate you on your first one hundred days,” Hillary said plainly, feeling a little bereft.

“Thank you?”

Silence.

“Is… am I supposed to take that sincerely?” Bill asked, unsurely. He noticed that whenever he was talking to Senator Rodham he always turned into a blithering idiot. He couldn't understand how he would interpret her words. She puzzled him. She mystified him, and it annoyed the hell out of him. He couldn’t understand what kind of magic spell she used on him because he met with other different beautiful women but he didn’t have this kind of response with them. He was a God damned Rhodes scholar but she always confounded him.

Hillary chuckled, oh the sound of her laugh… Bill gritted his teeth.

“I’m sorry, but I am truly happy for your achievement, it’s quite a feat," She said. 

Bill gave a self-deprecating laugh, “Senator Rodham, I’ll be an idiot to believe that you are actually calling to congratulate me for my achievements," He said disparagingly. "If I am not mistaken, your Republican colleagues are rather too keen to filibuster than reach a productive agreement, so hearing you congratulate me—" 

“Bill—” She called.

He stopped by the mere mention of his name, it sounds so unfamiliar coming through her lips. 

“I am sorry that your stimulus bill didn’t pass, neither getting the cooperation of Senator Doyle….”

“Senator Rodham, you are the Minority Leader. If you want to bargain with us, and if you really want to reach an agreement, I am sure we could find a resolution before the bill died. But instead, your party resorted to politicizing it!” Bill remarked rather scathingly.

“As if it’s that easy!” She retorted. “You don’t know what goes on in our meetings. You don’t know what I did to try to reach an agreement, but of course, you don’t know that because you are judging based on the party that I represent! If you are angry with them take it to them, not on me!” She ended thunderingly as her chest heaved from the exertion.

Silence. 

It was unfair of him to take his frustrations on her instead of the guys who weren't cooperating with them to find a solution. Also, Bill forgot, Hillary admitted that despite the fact that she was a Republican she loved her country first. Senator Kerry told him that she didn’t go with the flow of her party. Bill forgot about that and he judged her by her affiliation, and that was wrong of him. She was right, he didn’t know what was happening in their meetings; and even if Hillary wanted to negotiate with his team, but if she couldn’t get the support she needed in her party, her efforts would be useless. 

It was cruel, but it all made sense, Bill understood it now. Hillary was nothing but a poster girl for Republicans. Elected as Minority Leader but she clearly didn't have that much power in influencing her party. She was being used as a tool and Bill was suddenly filled with anger towards her party. 

“I shouldn’t have called—”

“I’m sorry,” Bill blurted. “Please, stay on the line. Please,” he almost begged. 

Hillary caught the desperation in his voice. “I shouldn’t have said that I am so sorry. I got carried away, Hillary, " He added.

Hillary felt that flutter in her stomach when he said her name. It sounded so intimate. He didn’t pronounce her name distinctly and instead said her name as Hi’ry.

“Thank you for that, and I am sorry for being ungrateful,” Bill said apologetically.

She nodded, “Forget it.”

“I am surprised you called,” He said, trying to change the topic. Bill bit his lower lip then added, "I thought I scared you with what happened after dinner."

Hillary rubbed her temple. She was happy with the change of topic but she wasn't ready for him to confront her about what happened that night. To be honest, he didn't scare her. Her reaction to him scared her. "No, you didn't. The past few weeks have been really busy."

"Then why did you flee that night?" 

Silence. 

Hillary held her breath, and sighed, "I think what happened was more than what we anticipated. I wasn't sure we were ready to face the consequences if we…" She struggled to say the word, "If we…"

"If we kissed?" Bill supplied.

Hillary felt the warmth spread in her chest up to her cheeks.

She wasn't imagining it then, she was already sure that she was going to be kissed if only she got distracted by the sound of the twig breaking under his shoe. She didn't know why she blushed, but hearing it from Bill just felt different, it felt real.

"Yes, if we kissed," She said, the word awfully feels unfamiliar to her. "I had to leave just to make sure that nothing happens after…" 

"I wouldn't do anything you don't want to do, Hillary. You know that, right?"

The sincerity of his word was her undoing, "How do I know if I can really trust you?"

"You just have to."

Hillary chuckled, "It's an expensive word."

"It is… It is an expensive word for both of us," Bill said matter-of-factly.

Hillary didn't say a word and instead thought about what Bill said because he was right. They both didn't know if they could trust each other.

"But Hillary…?"

"Yes."

"I am willing to try to take a risk and bet on that trust," He said.

Hillary felt the gravity of his statement that she suddenly felt like the air was closing around her making it hard for her to breathe. This was what her father wanted — his trust. If she wanted to bring him down, she could plot and do it. Bill was so naive to let his guard down so immediately and without a fight. It made her mad and frustrated. Was he really that—a sublime naive fool?

"Why?" She asked, whispering.

"Faith, Hillary. I have faith in you," He said.

It was suddenly quiet. Hillary was lost for words and she could only close her eyes, savoring what he said feeling a little lightheaded by his answer. 

"Bill—" 

"I know it will take time for you to trust me, I'll give you all the time you need."

She nodded, ready to give him that, maybe they could really be friends and work together to build the country again.

"Okay, Bill," She said, relieved. 

Bill smiled, feeling more relaxed now that they got that out of their way. His voice turned casual, "Let's get to a more relaxed topic, how is your day?" 

Hillary beamed, "It's really great."

They spent two hours on the phone discussing trivial matters, anything that was not work-related, getting to know each other.

Bill transferred the call and used a free handset as he made his way inside his Presidential Suite. He tugged his necktie while he cradled the phone on his shoulder.

He chuckled when Hillary told him about her fistfight when she was a kid.

"I applaud your mother for bringing up such a feisty girl," Bill said, now unbuttoning his shirt.

"Yeah," Hillary said, enjoying the time with him. "How about you?" She asked.

Bill paused from finishing his cufflinks. "How about me what?" 

"Do you have any childhood stories?" She asked, curiously. He felt cold sweat break from his temple while he tried to prevent his brain from remembering what happened to him when he was five years old that he tried to bury but deeply that affected him so.

"There's really nothing worth mentioning about my childhood, Ma'am," Bill said, his voice clipped.

Hillary heard his tone and wondered why it changed. She heard him sigh and said, "This was really a nice conversation, Senator. I enjoyed every minute of it."

"I am glad you did. I enjoyed it too."

Bill smiled but his lips didn't reach his eyes, "I better go though, time for me to take my beauty rest."

Hillary chuckled. "Alright. Good-night, Bill."

"'Night, Hillary."

***

Hillary's Office, Weekday After, Morning

Hillary went to her office and she found a bouquet in her office. She turned to Jen who was briefing her about their upcoming press appearance because Bill's plan to reverse restrictions on domestic and international family planning programs that were put into place during President Regan and George H. W. Bush would take place on Wednesday. It caused an uproar within Republicans. 

What they didn’t know was, Hillary already knew and was happy with his plan.

She believed strongly that women should be able to have a choice. She agreed that reversing it would keep abortion safe, legal, and rare. However, she was torn. She was torn between logic and the pro-life stand of her party. Her party had been attempting to restrict access to quality, affordable reproductive health care. While Bill was giving access to women's right to make a decision. 

When they reached her office, her eyes landed on the humongous bouquet that Mary was fixing on her table. Hillary's eyes narrowed. 

"Who sent them?" She asked.

"Congressman Duke," Mary replied. 

Hillary nodded to Jen to continue with her upcoming press release. "Speaking, will you still be appearing in Cooper's show?" Jen asked.

"Andy Cooper talk show?" Hillary asked trying to remember if she agreed to make an appearance on that. "I can't remember if I agreed to that."

"Congressman Duke called Jake and Jake informed me that you both will be making an appearance together?" 

Hillary gritted her teeth. Tim never learned. How many times does she have to tell him not to decide for her? She thought scathingly. 

"Jen you are my communications director, not Tim's. I did not agree to make an appearance to Cooper's show," Hillary said firmly. "Also, tell Jake not to take anything from Tim."

"I am sorry, I thought you both agreed to it."

Hillary nodded, understanding what Jen meant. Before, Tim would make decisions for both of them. She used to tolerate it, but not anymore. She noticed that the more they spent time together, the more he felt compelled to make decisions for her. She didn't like it. It makes her blood boil.

She turned to Mary, "Can you take that bouquet to someone else?" 

Mary nodded, taking the flowers with her.

"Jen, Mary, thank you," She said before signaling to them to leave her.

Hillary slumped on her chair. She needed to have a word with Tim, she thought before she started working. 

***

White House, Same Day, Morning

Bill was playing an indoor putter inside the Oval Office early in the morning. He woke up ahead of his alarm and started his day early, taking a morning jog, and thought to play a putter inside his office while waiting for his team to arrive. 

He felt invigorated, energized. He slept well. It was partly because he and Senator Rodham had another friendly conversation last night. He was getting to know her better. They discussed some of the pressing issues in the country. He asked her about her stand in abortion, and when Hillary gave him her thoughts, Bill told her of his plans.

"I am glad you feel that way," He said as he stretched his legs on his bed.

"Why?"

"I've decided long and hard about this, but I am going to reverse the restrictions for Roe vs Wade."

There was a silence on Hillary's side, then she asked, "Why are you telling me this, Bill?" 

"I don't want to surprise you. I am sure this will leak tomorrow."

Hillary rubbed her forehead, worried. "Maybe it's best that we don't talk about anyone's future plans. You don't owe it to me neither am I obliged to share anything with you."

“Well, you wouldn’t be able to do anything about it anyway since I’ll be reversing it this Wednesday.”

"I appreciate you telling me about this, but I feel uncomfortable."

"Why?" Bill asked, his brows furrowed.

"Bill, to be honest, this friendship just feels odd to me. Don't get me wrong. I like you as a friend but considering our position - you being the President from a Democratic party and me being the Republican Minority Leader…" She rubbed her forehead, "It's just odd, so maybe it's best that you don't tell me of any of your future policies or plans," She held her breath, "My team is very capable to find out what your plans are, so I don't need inside information." 

Bill chuckled, "Alright, whatever you say, ma'am."

There was an awkward silence that followed, "You know, I actually joined a civil rights movement before," She shared.

"Really?" He mused.

Hillary told him her experience in the movement and Bill listened to her talk about it until he ended up falling asleep. 

He woke up early in the morning apologizing only to hear her chuckle saying that it was alright.

“Don’t be silly, it’s alright,” She said as she clipped her earring on her left ear while cradling the phone on her right shoulder. “I figured that you are already asleep because I heard you snore.”

“I don’t snore,” Bill said.

Hillary chuckled, “I’m just teasing."

Is she flirting with him?  Bill thought, ecstatically. Hillary realized it too, she changed her tune then said, “I’ll talk to you later. I have to finish preparing for work.”

“Alright, bye.”

“Bye!”

***

Hillary's Office, Same Day, Afternoon

Hillary was working when Tim called her office.

"What is this that Jen told me that you are not making an appearance with me in Andy Cooper’s show?” He asked. 

“Thank you for the flowers, Tim.” She said.

“I’m glad you didn’t throw them,” He said sardonically. 

“No, I told Mary to give it to someone else.”

“Hillary, what’s wrong with you?”

“How many times do I have to tell you not to make a decision for me? Andy Cooper’s show? I cannot remember you even consulted me about it.”

“I’m sorry that I did not consult you but I have to make sure that we get on the show after Bill executes the reversal!”

“So you thought that should give you the liberty to make a decision for me?"

"I just want the best for you, Hillary."

Hillary took a deep breath trying to control her anger, "I am not a child, Timothy. I know how to make a decision. This is the reason why I am so angry with you because you keep on doing this!"

"Alright, then now I am asking you if you want to come with me on Cooper's show."

"You're not getting my point."

"Hillary! Listen to me, don't think about me right now. Don't think about us. Bill is making a decision to reverse Roe vs Wade. This is the right opportunity for us to talk about it," He pressed.

"That’s what I actually don’t get, Tim. If you want to negotiate about it, we bring it to the White House. We don’t have to bring our proposal to the Press! It’s counterproductive and useless.”

“Jesus, Hillary! I cannot believe that you are this fucking neophyte!” Tim responded angrily. 

Hillary felt her ears heated. Tim just insulted her and he noticed that he started stuttering for an apology. “I am so sorry, I didn’t mean that.”

“No, you fucking meant it, Tim!”

“Listen to me, Hillary—"

“Tim, I don’t think we should stop seeing each other in the meantime. This is just getting out of hand.”

“Hillary, please,” He implored. “I am sorry I said that, please, don’t make a rash decision right now because you are angry.” He sighed, “I cannot believe this has been happening to us, Babe.” Tim added. 

Hillary felt her heart constrict hearing his term of endearment that he used for her. It had been a long time since she heard it from him. “I’ll give you some space, but please, don’t say that.”

Hillary took a deep breath and ended their conversation, “I’ll talk to you soon.”

***

White House, Same Day, Afternoon

“Hey, Georgie!” Mack said seeing George in the hallway in the East Wing.

George spun to look at him, “What?”

“Are you noticing something?”

“What?”

“Bill is just odd today.”

“Meaning?”

Mack took a deep breath, “I am not sure if I am just being too observant but he is too energetic and too enthusiastic… is he seeing anyone?”

“Jesus, Mack,” George said, turning to him, while they continued to walk back towards George’s office. “Bill is just happy you think he is seeing anyone?”

“I know, I may be just interpreting things too deeply, but I know Bill. This kind of change in mood is something. Anyway, I am asking you because I know you are close to Bill. If he ever mentioned anyone...”

George nodded to the staff, and he pushed the door inside his office, his hands on his waist as he turned to him again. “If Bill is seeing someone, he’ll brag about it. I don’t even have to ask him. I don’t think he is seeing anyone. Maybe you are just being sensitive, Mack.”

Mack rubbed his nape, “Something is just off. Have you heard that he invited Senator Rodham for dinner?”

“Yeah, he told me about it, he said he wanted to win her to his side, but apparently, it didn’t work out. I am not surprised. Why?” George said, giving Mack a curious look. Mack pursued his lips thinking. 

George laughed. “Don’t worry about it, Mack. I don’t think he is dating anyone and don’t suggest that he is interested in Hugh Rodham’s daughter. Bill’s not dumb to consider being interested in Senator Rodham or anyone without letting us know.”

Mack sighed looking pacified. “I hope you are right. I cannot imagine the scandal if he set his eyes on her. See you later, Bud!”