The following takes place in the midst of the tragedy in Davenport; President Malloy had asked Billy to do a bit of research on the growing trend of school violence.
PresidentMalloy: Evening in the District. It was dark outside, but President Malloy hadn't really noticed. He moved from his desk to the couches an hour before. The brief he'd been working on lay scattered about the coffee table; now, he was perusing a newspaper. His back to the door and reading glasses in place, Malloy seemed absorbed in his reading.
DCOS Billy: A knock came at the door of the Oval Office. It was Billy, the DCOS, who had walked as slowly as humanly possible to his meeting with President Malloy. He was dreading the meeting; he was fine with talking about abortion, taxes, cat fights with unpopular ambassadors, but this was different. Kids were dead. 11 children had died, and there was still no clear suspect or motive. There were ideas, of course, as there always were, but nothing was concrete. Billy had read up on some stats on school violence, just enough to have an idea of what was going on, and he took what little notes he had with him as he approached the Oval.
He knocked. "Sir?"
PresidentMalloy: Malloy blinked, pulled out his pocket watch. Time already. He, too, dreaded this meeting, and he forcibly had to remind himself that he'd asked for it. He'd requested that Billy read up on this and meet with him. And no matter how much he wished to ignore it, these problems wouldn't go away on their own.
"C'mon in," he replied, replacing the silver watch in his navy waistcoat pocket, turning pages in the newspaper.
DCOS Billy: "Good evening, sir," he began. "I did some of the research you asked for."
He hesitated, thinking he should let the President ask some questions, but changed his mind and began reciting facts he'd discovered.
"From July 1, 1999, through June 30, 2000, there were 32 school-associated violent deaths in the United States, eight of which were suicides. The homicides, however, are very few compared to the fatal violence that harms kids between the ages of 5 and 19 outside of school. This is a rare thing. There's no need to worry about an epidemic of school bombings; it's a pretty isolated incident. That doesn't minimize it's significance though."
PresidentMalloy: The President vaguely gestured Billy into a seat on the couch across from him when he'd paused for a breath. Malloy absorbed the facts with a focused concentration.
When Billy was done, he sighed heavily and nodded. "No," he said quietly. "I suppose it doesn't." He waited to see if Billy had anything else for him; it was clear his Deputy Chief of Staff wanted to get this unpleasantness over as quickly as possible.
DCOS Billy: Billy sat, thinking about what to add next.
"Listen, I'm not your PR guy, but this is going to look bad for a while. It's important for us to stay on top of it. Parents will want to know that you are aware of what's going on and are willing to take any action necessary. The thing is, without the details of what truly happened in Davenport, we're going to have to fly a bit blindly for a while. Once we get a handle on a motive, we can take action. Not legislatively, because there's not too much we can do, although Congress will jump on the opportunity to make themselves look good. You just have to look strong. I'll talk to Kate, Mark, and Audrey about this, but how would you feel about taking a few hours and going down there to talk to the families of the victims? I know it'll be hard, but I think they and the rest of the parents around the country would appreciate it."
PresidentMalloy: "No, I'll go," he said instantly, without stopping to consider his own thoughts or feelings on the matter. "There's a... well, there's supposed to be a memorial service in a few days. I was hoping to go to that; I could just spend the day in Davenport, stay for the evening service. We can work the schedule around it."
There was a long pause. He really couldn't tell Billy that there had been evidence on that one girls' computer that tied her to the bombing, that it was the opinion of the NSC that the threat had been not foreign but domestic... and just barely seventeen years old. That it had moved beyond speculation and slowly into fact.
Instead, all Malloy said aloud, as he removed his reading glasses to rub his eyes, "Run it by the rest of the gang and let me know tomorrow at Senior Staff."
DCOS Billy: Billy nodded, relieved to be reaching the end of this meeting. Too bad this isn't even the tip of the iceberg, he sighed.
"Okay. That sounds good. Make sure you run it by the First Lady. I'll talk to the rest of the guys. I'm supposed to have a meeting with Senator Ross, so I'll talk to her about it as well. I'm sure she'll want to be there. Let me know if you want to set up a meeting with her as well. But we can talk about that once I've met with her."
PresidentMalloy: At the mention of his wife, President Malloy's lips quirked upwards in a ghost of a smile. Oh, sure, Billy, I'll run it by her, he thought. 'Hey, dear… y'know that bombing that I've been losing sleep over? I'm going to fly out there and take a look around… want to come?’ It'll go over great.
The smile faded almost as quickly as it came. He passed over Billy's remarks about the Senator without comment. Both he and Senator Ross had work to do and would do it well. If the bombing had brought about additional sleepless nights and more determined worrying to him, he could only imagine what the Senator was feeling about her home state right now.
Malloy seemed lost in thought.
DCOS Billy: Billy, noticing that the President was no longer "all there", rose to leave. "Sir, if we're done, I'd like to go and get some more work done. I've got to talk to the others about your trip and schedule that meeting. May I have your permission to leave?"
PresidentMalloy: Malloy snapped his attention back rather quickly, looking both tired and rueful at having been caught unaware. "Sorry about that, Billy. Permission granted. Just make sure you take some time, grab a meal tonight. Maybe some rest. Y'know, stuff like that." A small grin.
DCOS Billy: Billy smiled widely. "Thank you, Mr. President. You too. I'll be in my office if you need me. Have a nice night, sir."
PresidentMalloy: "You too, Billy." The President nodded, hesitated over the newspaper. He finally sighed, put his reading glasses back on, and went back to the brief he'd been working on before his attention was otherwise captured. He was singularly focused on the papers in front of him before Billy had even gotten to the door.
DCOS Billy: Billy walked out as the President returned to his work. He returned to his office to plan the following days' events.