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Leave It All Behind

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Al Gore’s Residence, Dupont Circle, Washington, Morning

Al and Tiffany’s room reeked of antiseptic. It used to smell like lavender, Tiffany’s favorite perfume but now that Tiffany’s breast cancer worsened, the smell was replaced with heavy disinfectant and medicine.

The doctor told them that Tiffany has roughly a year to live. It was hard for Al to see Tiffany slowly wither right before his eyes. She lost the energy she used to have, started to lose her hair that he loved, the color on her cheeks that would always greet him in the morning. It was killing him.

She still tried her hardest to smile for him, and it was heartbreaking to see her this way. He wasn’t ready yet.

“How are you?” Al asked, carrying the tray of food for her. He still has a few hours before he would leave to go to the White House. Serving Tiffany her breakfast every morning was the only way he could serve her.

“I’m okay,” Tiffany responded, her voice croaked. Her body felt heavy and she had a hard time sleeping, but she didn’t want to add any burden to Al. She didn’t want him to worry about her anymore. Ever since the doctors told her that she has a year to live, Tiffany already accepted her fate. She swore that she would try for them to enjoy the rest of the days and months that they both have.

Al sat on the edge of her bed as he placed the tray on the bedside table. He helped Tiffany recline and then placed the tray just near her lap. He smiled gently at her and reached for her straying blonde hair and then tucked them behind her ear. His eyes roamed around her face before he told her, "You're so beautiful, Tiff."

Tiff leaned her cheeks against his palm. She was worried that she would leave Al alone to take care of their children. They talked about this many times but Tiff hoped that he would be able to find someone to love again after she was gone. Al protested saying that he wouldn't. He didn't want anyone to replace her. She smiled sadly at him, but she urged him to find love again in the future. She made him promise, and Al gave in reluctantly.

She hoped that he would keep his words.

***

White House, Presidential Suite, Morning

Bill stood trying to balance using his crutches. Hillary stood beside him as George briefed them. 

"Take note that we have allowed Dan to ask questions without limitations."

Bill nodded, he slid his hand to hold Hillary's. "This is taped, right?"

"No," George responded. 

"Maybe we can ask them to tape it instead so, you know if something comes up…?" Bill asked with an attempt to humor. Hillary chuckled but George glared at him. 

Bill laughed and slowly leaned to kiss Hillary’s temple. 

“Are you ready?” Bill asked her.

 

“Are you?” Hillary asked back.

“Yes, of course,” He responded. “Are you feeling better?” He asked looking down at her. Hillary was feeling nauseous early in the morning that got Bill worried. Hillary explained that it was part of her pregnancy.

She nodded. “I feel better now.”

They both turned when Mack entered his room. “Dan is already here, are you both ready?”

"Yep," Bill responded. “Where’s Al?” He asked Mack.

“He’ll be late,” Mack advised. 

They all knew about what Tiffany was going through. Just a month ago they already advised the public of Tiff’s condition. Recently, her condition just worsened. Bill gave Al all the support he needed, so him being late wasn’t really an issue to Bill, though he wouldn't normally tolerate tardiness.

Bill and Hillary walked side by side. Hillary adjusted her pace because Bill was still getting used to using his crutches. They chose the tea room to have their interview done because of its very homey interior. Dan’s team had already assembled in the room and they were just waiting for Bill and Hillary to arrive.

Hillary was wearing a green emerald turtle neck and pantsuit dress while Bill was wearing a baby blue shirt and a black suit with a maroon patterned tie.

“Good morning, Sir, Good morning, Senator,” Everyone greeted as Bill and Hillary entered. Bill slightly shook his head and said, “Bill would suffice,” then he reached his free hand out to shake Dan’s.

“Hello Mr. Rather, please, just call me Hillary” Hillary greeted after reaching for Dan’s hand.

Dan smiled at her. Agent Harold helped Bill to lower himself on the couch, while Hillary took the seat next to him. Dan watched as Bill placed a throw pillow behind Hillary. He mumbled something inaudibly before they both turned to him. The staff briefed them on what would happen and how long the interview would go. 

“Are you both ready?” Dan asked after.

Bill nodded. 

Dan signaled to the crew and then the video started rolling.

"Should I say congratulations to both of you?" Dan asked. 

Bill stilled thinking if he was referring to Hillary's pregnancy. He also felt Hillary stiffened beside him. Did someone already leak Hillary's condition?

"I mean, for this new journey you both are taking." Dan clarified, making Hillary smile while Bill kept a straight face.

"Senator and Mr. President, walk us through your relationship, Congressman Duke accused you of cheating on him. Maybe it’s something that you can clarify?" 

Hillary nodded, "It’s very unfortunate that these private matters are dealt with publicly. Tim and I were over when Bill and I decided to make our relationship official.”

“When did you and the Congressman break up? And when did you and the President start seeing each other?”

Hillary opened her mouth to say something but Bill spoke first, “It happened spontaneously. We started out as friends. Hillary being the Minority Leader… we worked closely so we could come up with policies benefiting our country. It grew from there. We cared about each other even though we came from different parties.”

"There was speculation that your relationship started when you both were in India and you both vehemently denied that there was nothing going on. Are you prepared to say that your relationship started there?”

Bill had the urge to laugh at him. He knew what Dan was doing, he was trying to trap him and Hillary, so they could show the public that they were both lying.

“I am prepared to say that I became an admirer of Senator Rodham during our time in India. She went there and addressed women’s rights. We all know how impactful her speech was.”

“But did the romance blossom from there?”

“I admire her, is that romance? I think it depends on your definition of what romance is. We discussed the things that mattered to us during that time and I’ve gotten to know her deeply there.”

“Deeply meaning…?”

Bill almost glared at Dan, “Meaning…? Meaning how she deeply cared about the country, how intelligent and caring she really is as a person.”

Hillary casually leaned against Bill and added, “Dan, there isn't a person watching this who would feel comfortable sitting on this couch detailing everything that ever went on in their life. And I think it's really dangerous in this country if we don't have some zone of privacy for everybody…”

Dan nodded, “I agree with you, Senator. The reason that we are asking this is that your answer is not a denial...”

“Of course, I think the problem boils down to how this kind of question would go on and on trying to prove that we have lied. Dan, no matter what we say, the Press wouldn’t let this die. For us to pretend that this kind of question ends here is a naivete," Bill added.

Dan looked down on his note and moved on with another topic, “Before you went to India, Congressman Timothy mentioned that he didn’t like you going to India. Did he ever mention that to you?”

Hillary had to decide whether or not she would tell the public that Timothy sexually assaulted her and what he said in the interview was a lie. She was torn. Bill gave her the decision on whether or not to say it. It was an opening, but she was afraid that if she opened it up, it would be like opening a can of worms. It was the last thing she wanted. She wanted to move on from this and start a new life with Bill and their children.

“No, that was a lie. He never talked about his concerns about me going to India because before I flew to India, we were already over.”

“You broke up with him because…?”

Hillary kept a straight face, “I think it’ll be better for the two of us if I keep that part private.”

Bill turned to Hillary and she looked at him. He gave her an affectionate smile and slid his hand to hold hers.

Bill felt his throat working. He was proud of Hillary but he was seething inside. He was angry that Hillary had to keep the truth of what Tim did to her so they could move past this event. Bill swore that he would make Tim’s life a living hell after this. He would never get to hurt her again, not even touch a strand of her hair. 

“Did you know that he was about to propose to you? He mentioned in his interview that he bought a house for you already.”

Hillary shook her head, “No, I don’t know anything about the house nor of any plans of him proposing. In the course of our three-year relationship, we never talked about getting married. My father dislikes that about him - his indecisiveness. It came as a surprise that he brought that up during his interview.”

Dan turned to Bill, “Congressman Timothy accused you of seducing the Senator, what do you say about that?”

Bill had to stifle the urge of laughing out loud, “No, I don’t think Hillary would be swayed with seduction.”

Bill turned to her and the urge to tease her was so strong that he had to bite his lips. 

“Dan, that is… I really take offense in that, no, I don’t think Bill could sway me with his charm.”

“So what’s the plan for you now Senator Rodham? Now that you have resigned to pursue this relationship with the President?”

“It was a decision that we both made. We both understand that if I choose to start this relationship with Bill, I have to resign from my position. I am going back to practicing law instead.”

“Do you have any plans of getting married?”

Bill smiled at Dan and said, “We’ll let everyone know if we are going to get married,” He looked at Hillary, “But I do see my future with her.”

“I think most Americans would agree that it's very admirable that you've decided to pursue your relationship – that you've sorted out the hindrance of you getting together and that you've seemed to reach some sort of understanding and arrangement.”

“Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, Dan. You're looking at two people who love each other. This is not an arrangement or an understanding. This is a serious relationship. That's a very different thing,” Bill snapped.

“I'm sitting here, Dan, because I love him, and I respect him, and I honor our relationship.”

Bill looked at Hillary while she said those words. It was the first time that she admitted her feelings for him publicly and Bill felt nothing but love for her. 

“During your campaign, you’ve mentioned about being truthful matters to the American people, can you say that you have been truthful to the American people?”

“Absolutely, we’ve been truthful to the American people since the beginning.”

“Do you think you can convince the American people to believe you despite what Congressman Duke said? Do you think you can also convince the Press to put this behind?”

Bill smiled, “That's up to the American people and to some extent up to the press. This will test the character of the press. It is not only our character that has been tested.”

“Thank you, Senator, and thank you, Mr. President.”

***

After their interview, Bill and Hillary went to the conference room near the Oval Office to finally break the news of her pregnancy. The people included in the room were Hillary’s trusted staff and Bill’s. They needed to announce Hillary’s situation so they could prepare. It was Bill and Hillary’s decision to exclude that information during their interview. They didn’t think that it was the right place to make that announcement.

Al arrived in the White House an hour late. He went directly to the conference room where he was informed that Bill would make a special announcement. He was still upset but he couldn't bring the melancholy that he felt at work. He wasn’t in the mood to work but there were a lot of things that he needed to do. 

He met George and Mack outside on the corner near the conference room talking intensely. He nodded at them, “What are you both doing there?” He asked. 

“Just discussing, something came up,” George said.

“I will no longer be surprised if you tell me that the world is about to end,” Al said with dry humor.

Mack chuckled. “How are you? How’s Tiff?”

“Tiff’s doing well. I’m good, thanks for asking. We’re trying to enjoy every moment that we have.”

Mack gave him a small smile.

“What did come up?” Al asked trying to change the topic.

“Heard about the circulars in the Republicans?”

Al’s face wrinkled, “No, I haven’t heard.”

“Well, rumor has it that Tim circulated a dossier to the rest of the Republicans both in the Congress and Senate - a communication strategy how they would start referring to Democrats,” Mack mentioned.

“What do you mean ‘they would start referring to Democrats’?”

“Well, according to the rumor, anytime they talk about Democrats there would be certain description included - a branding strategy. They would call their opponents: cheater, unAmerican, traitor, liberal, things like that until it becomes a branding,” George explained.

“Will that work?” Al asked, skeptically.

"It could,” George responded. "Another thing," George added.

"What?"

"I am afraid about this tip that I got that Tim seems to be going through Bill's past."

That got Al's attention. "What do you mean?"

"His affairs," Mack said. “It seems like Tim has started working to bring Bill and Hillary down."

They both turned when they saw Bill and Hillary making their way towards the conference room.

“How did the interview go?” Al asked. 

George beamed, “It went well. Senator Rodham’s last statement and admittance of her feelings for Bill were really remarkable.”

Al nodded, “I hope that’s the end of this.”

Mack turned to Al, "We don't think so. We think it's just the beginning."

***

Bill and Hillary stood in the middle as they looked at the faces of their staff. It was a closed-door conference meeting.

“Thank you for being in here despite the short notice,” Bill started. “We want you to know that the reason why you are here is that Hillary and I trust you. There are a lot of leaks happening, something we need to find a remedy soon, and it’s the reason why we have carefully selected the people to be here today.” 

Bill paused, “There are few things that Hillary and I need to inform you - a combination of good news and bad ones. For the good news,” Bill glanced at Hillary, “Hillary’s pregnant.”

There was a lot of cheer and congratulations, Bill raised his hand after a while and said, “We just recently got that confirmation, but thank you for your well-wishes. Second, Hillary and I are already engaged. We haven’t thought of where and when we are going to get married.”

Bill took a deep breath, “The bad news: this is just the beginning. There will be a lot of news that will circulate about this new journey that Hillary and I will take. I want all of us to have one voice. I want us to contain the leaks, I don’t want that my Presidency will be defined by what’s happening in our personal lives. I want the focus to always be on the issues that matter to everyone, not like this. Understood?”

There was a chorus of agreement.

Bill looked at them and then he draped his arm over Hillary’s shoulder. “I am so proud of us, proud of everyone. Hillary and I are indebted to all of you.”

There was a silence.

“Now, let’s all go back to work.”

Bill and Hillary went to the Oval Office after the conference. Both of them felt as if the weight over their shoulders has been lifted. They don’t know how their interview would be embraced by viewers nor by the media, but so far they were happy with how it turned out. Bill was extremely grateful for Hillary’s plan and for how she responded to Dan’s questions. 

Bill sat on the couch and Hillary sat beside him - finally having that time alone together. Finally away from everyone. Bill’s arm draped over Hillary’s shoulder as she leaned her head against it. Bill lazily brushed her arm with his fingers. 

“How are you feeling, Darlin’? Bill asked. 

Hillary tilted her head so she could get a good look at him. “I am feeling exhausted but I am so happy.”

Bill closed their distance to kiss her temple. “I am so proud of you, you really did amazing earlier.”

Hillary smiled. “I’m just as proud of you.”

“There’s something I have to tell you…” Bill started. Hillary’s face turned serious wondering what he would say.

“I know you have resigned on your post as a Senator, but I have promised your father that you wouldn’t be just my First Lady to host dinners and to grace our guests, I want you to take a very active role as my First Lady…” He reached to cup her face, “I want you not to be just my wife, the mother of my five children—”

“Five children!” Hillary burst then giggled. Bill dropped a kiss on her cheek. 

“I want you, Hillary Diane Rodham, to be my partner in everything I do, to bring change in this country.”

Hillary felt as if she swallowed honey from Bill’s statement. He truly wanted her to be his equal. He believed in her capability as a Public Servant. 

“I want you to be the light of this country, so I’m going to give you your own office in the West Wing—”

“In the West Wing!” Hillary said, suddenly jerking from her position. Bill was proposing something so big. First Ladies wouldn’t normally take an Office in the West Wing. Their office was in the East Wing. It would be a scandal.

“Listen to me, Love,” Bill interrupted, “I want you to have access to me all the time.”

“All the time?!” 

Bill pursued his lips as if he was thinking, “Yes, in case we need to do some lovin’ together…”

Hillary hit his arm with her hand, “Please, be serious!” She said smiling at him. Oh, she couldn’t imagine she could love him more than she already did but she felt that blossom in her heart - making her love him more. Bill could be funny, could tease her at the moment that she expected their conversation to be serious. It was something she loved and appreciate about him.

Bill’s eyes lingered on her lips, “But in all seriousness, I can imagine what kind of future this country will have if we both would work together. So I want you to be by my side.” 

Hillary nodded.

He leaned back, “Another thing…”

Hillary looked at him, “I thought about this over and over again, but I’ll be re-appointing you to still Chair the Health Care.”

Hillary’s jaw slackened. It would be controversial if he reappointed her as the Chairperson because such a role normally wouldn’t be given to a First Lady. It would be scandalous and she could already see how the media and their critics would use this against them, but she also knew how she could make it work.

“Are you sure?” Hillary asked, worried.

Bill tipped his head and closed his eyes, “I’ve thought it over, there’s no perfect person to Chair it but you. I trust Kerry to do it, but I’ve seen your work in New York. I’ve seen how you work as the Chairperson before you resigned. I don’t want to lose that.” He exhaled. “It’s going to be controversial, but it’s the risk I am going to take.”

Hillary leaned and draped her arm across his chest. They enveloped each other in an embrace. Their life together in the White House wouldn’t be smooth as it seems. Hillary taking an active role as First Lady would raise a lot of eyebrows but she was ready to take it on. Nothing mattered to her, but to see Bill as a successful President. 

Bill turned to her and he tipped her chin up so she could look at him. “The question now that I have to ask you is this - are you ready to take this rocky journey with me?”

It wasn’t just the journey of their new life in the White House, but their new journey as a family. She wanted to give Bill all the love he lacked when he was a child, and she wanted to fill his life with happiness. There might be some challenges along the way but the reward was incomparable. Oh, she was more than ready.

Bill misinterpreted her silence, his brows furrowed. “You can still back out…”

Hillary chuckled as her hands slowly slid along his jaw cupping his face, “You’re going to ask me that after I’ve already left everything behind?” She leaned and brushed her lips against his lips as he chuckled. 

“I’m just trying to be sure that you understand what you are signing up for.”

“Oh, Honey," She said, "you just don’t know that I’m more than ready to take this new journey with you,” she responded before finally kissing him.