AN: Don't own Scandal; it belongs to Shonda and ABC.
Relishing the first moment she'd had to herself since entering the state of Vermont, Olivia Pope stood in front of the gleaming window in her hotel suite and took in the view.
Even after nearly missing her flight, dealing with the airline temporarily misplacing her luggage, and doing the massive amount of grunt work required in preparation for the main event, she found herself still wired. But in hopes of granting her mind and body a slight reprieve, she temporarily lost herself in the serenity and intimidation that could be found in the mountains before her as her Bluetooth hang on her ear.
While waiting to be connected with the person behind the number she'd dialed, she released the biggest sighs of her life and began another mental rundown of her list of questions for the umpteenth time. But when she heard the voice she sought she switched from harried journalist to dutiful daughter in a matter of seconds.
"Hey, Mom, it's me. I've managed to squeeze in some free time so I'm returning your call." She explained and then listened patiently as her mother immediately started rambling.
Only able to interject a few words here and there, Olivia paced the length of the floor as the older woman basically carried on a one way conversation. With her chipper mood you'd think she was the one a few hours away from interviewing the onetime leader of the free world herself. She chuckled at the image of her mother grilling former President Grant before growing serious.
"Mother, no." she responded to the woman's suggestion, not even bothering to mask her irritation at Maya's request. "It would be the height of unprofessionalism for me to trouble President Grant for an autograph for my mommy. Just no."
She rubbed furiously at her eye sockets and sneered when Maya wouldn't be deterred. After she counted to ten she decided perhaps a softer approach was in order and made sure her voice dripped with honey when she spoke. "And I'm sure he would greatly appreciate the fact that you voted for him. But I really don't think he owes you any more than the job he performed as our commander in chief."
Feeling as if she was on the verge of seriously snapping, she shut her eyes and thanked God for the knock at her door. "Look, Mom, work calls. I have to go. Talk to you soon." She ended the call with another groan before Maya could say anything else.
The aggravation bubbling through her veins subsided when she flung open the door to find two of her closest friends standing there. She had met the willowy, porcelain skinned makeup artist Abby Whelan when she first began working at Broadcast News Now. And even though her baby faced producer Harrison Wright was new to their team he had fit in instantly and proved to be worthy of his position.
"So, Liv, you ready to grab dinner? Harrison's paying," the slender redhead said with a sly smile. Her dark denim jeans and black leather jacket over a white v-neck t-shirt signaled to Olivia that the woman was more than ready for some down time.
"And since when did me coming out of my pockets for everybody become a thing? Because I can tell you I definitely missed that memo, lady." He looked handsome and equally as easy going in a plaid button down and jeans.
With a grin plastered on her face, Olivia stood back and watched the two banter with each other until she had her fill of free entertainment. Even though Abby continued her jabs, Harrison never lacked for retorts and it was a sight to behold until it just wasn't anymore. "You know what guys," she interrupted, "this day has been a long enough so I'll probably have something brought up in a little while. But thanks for thinking of me."
Their grumbles of dissent didn't stop her from shutting the door on them however slow and regretful. Alone once again, she returned to the process of making herself even more comfortable within the confines of her room. Peep toe Jimmy Choo's had long been chucked the moment she stepped into the room and parked her luggage by the door. So she unbuttoned her cream blouse and placed it across the back of a chair before reaching for her laptop bag and briefcase. She laid both items on her queen sized bed and promptly joined them once she had traded her skirt for her favorite silk pajama set.
As her computer powered to life she pulled out a folder and searched for her note cards. Upon finding them, she reread the questions that she had already committed to memory. Even though she was under no illusion that the interview would be perceived as no more than a 'puff piece', Olivia felt a pressure like never before. Fitzgerald Grant had held the highest office in the land once upon a time and not everyone was given the honor of picking his brain.
There were those who felt she wasn't trustworthy enough or competent enough to remove lint from his clothes, let alone sit with the man and get his opinions and insights on a manner of topics; especially after the debacle surrounding her promotion to co-anchor. Due to internal and external forces, Olivia felt she had something to prove to everyone; those who loved her and those who despised her, but most importantly to herself.
And even though she had year upon year of journalism experience on her resume she knew she had a long way to go before she was ranked among the heavyweights. She wanted her name mentioned with the likes of Sawyer and Walters. And she wanted the recognition without the insinuations of being nothing more than a cutthroat backstabber with a pretty face and a great pair of legs. So in spite of how light the conversation would be compared to what others had done in the past, not every reporter could say that they had interviewed a president; whether he was in office or out. And in that regard the coup would still be a make or break moment of television for her career.
Determined to erase all doubts to her capabilities, she had made it her mission to eat, breathe, and sleep Fitzgerald Grant from the moment she had been given her assignment. As she looked through notes of her subject she listened to clip after clip of his speeches and press conferences, her eyes periodically finding themselves glued to the screen to take in his features. There was no denying his charisma and handsome looks. And she had forever been in awe of his intelligence. But of the many traits he possessed the one that had always stood out for her was his compassion.
When the footage of him touring a tornado ravaged state appeared, she dropped her papers and gave her undivided attention to the coverage, waiting for the part that never failed to tug at her heart strings. He was being escorted through the wreckage of the storm and given the details of the damage done when they came upon a family standing in front of the remnants of their home. The genuine care and concern he exhibited while comforting them and others in their predicament always reduced her to quivering, sniveling mess.
Not too many leaders were known for accessibility and transparency while still being commanding but in his time as president Fitzgerald Grant had managed to be just that and she still respected him for it to this day.
When mental as well as physical fatigue started to gnaw at her, she moved all of her materials to the table in the middle of the room and then returned to the bed. Deciding to give her body the rest it craved, she set her alarm so she could nap before settling down permanently for the night because for her there was always plenty of work to be done.
Confused by the sudden outburst, Olivia tore her eyes from her note cards and stared at Abby. "What's wrong?" she yelled so that her voice could be heard over the whirring sound of the helicopter currently transporting them.
"Just look," Abby pointed straight ahead.
Following her friend's direction, she gazed out the window to look upon one of the most beautifully crafted homes she had ever laid eyes on. "Whoa."
"Whoa? That's all you got? Come on, Liv that has to at least be worth a "damn." Because the ex president's new pad, is a freaking masterpiece!"
Olivia studied the expansive glass and stone home situated in the middle of lush grounds that were immaculately groomed and seemingly without end. It was an impressive piece of architecture backed by gasp inducing scenery. The extravagance of it all aided in her excitement and she couldn't wait to get started.
But when their ride made contact with the ground the two friends couldn't help but look at each other. It was then that she allowed herself a moment of vulnerability and reached for Abby's hand and squeezed it hard.
Seeing all the things she knew the woman couldn't say written on her face, Abby offered a smile. "It's okay, Liv, just breathe. This is the moment where the tide turns in your favor. This Fitzgerald Grant interview was the one to get and it belongs to you. The time is here to wipe any doubt from any and all the haters minds."
"You're right. This moment is mine and it's time for me to handle this."
Confidence returning she thanked Abby and they smiled at each other once more before they prepared to disembark.
After making the trek across the lawn, the door to the Grant residence opened and a younger man in what Olivia deduced to be her age range appeared. He was tiny and dark haired but clean cut with a boy next door demeanor and a winning smile. "Miss Pope, I'm Brandon Sinclair, President Grant's assistant," he extended his hand for her to shake. "I will be escorting you to the guest house around back for the time being. It has been pretty well stocked specifically for your arrival but if you find you're lacking anything the president insists that you don't hesitate to ask."
She ignored Abby's raised eyebrow to express her gratitude."Oh, I'm sure that everything is fine. The president has been very generous just by offering us a space to wait for the crew and to hang out in during breaks."
"Well he feels bad about your hotel being thirty miles out and the lack of proximity to everything the town has to offer in general," he explained. "And it just wasn't possible to do this in Santa Barbara since this is pretty much home base for him at the moment."
Filing that nugget of information away she shot another quick glance in Abby's direction and kept on walking until they entered their designated area. Although it paled in comparison to the main house, the home was still grand in size but inviting enough for anyone visiting to feel comfortable.
"Nice. Very nice."
"It is. Very charming." Olivia nodded in agreement with Abby's assessment.
"I think so too," Brandon chimed in. "Let me show you around."
He quickly guided the women through the rooms that would be of the most use to them and then brought them back to the kitchen. It was there that he encouraged them to partake of the mini breakfast buffet that had been set up with an assortment of breads, fruits and juices. "Help yourself, ladies. I'll be back when the rest of the crew arrives. And if you need anything before then I'm just a phone call away." He pivoted to leave but paused. "Oh the president asked me to give you this."
Curious, Olivia accepted the folded sheet of paper from the man and thanked him as he left them alone.
On behalf of the Grant family, I wanted to take the time to welcome you into our home. My intention is for this experience to be an enlightening and informative view into our lives post presidency and I am confident that you are more than capable of bringing my vision to light. I looking forward to working with you today.
Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III
Once she finished reading the note she looked over her shoulder to find Abby still digesting the words on the paper.
"I gotta say he's good, Liv. A thoughtful and considerate hunk of a man. The only flaw I've ever found with him besides him being already taken is his conservative handicap."
"But if you really examine his policies and position during the bulk of his administration you'll find his stances were considerably more left leaning than anything seen in his party to date."
"Yet he still proudly, publicly and unashamedly waved the Republican banner, so blah."
"Abigail," Olivia laughed. "Let's not forget we are in the man's, the former president's, might I remind you, home. And we're here as professionals."
"Yeah about that. I'm just getting paid to beautify your already staggering features. It's a tough job but I guess someone has to do it, right?" she joked. "Look, if we're being honest here I'm just along for the ride. Literally enjoying the helicopter shuttle, stealing glances at the former first family and partaking of the snacks between the occasional touch ups of your lovely face."
"When you put it that way, can you be me while I be you?"
"Yeah," Abby snorted, "cause that's totally happening." "You know you wouldn't let me utter one syllable before you were jumping in and taking over that interview. So as hard as it may be, you need to chill out. In a little while you're gonna use everything in your arsenal to go out there and knock em dead."
Hours later after the crew had arrived and set up and Olivia had been dressed and glammed up, the time had come for the show to get on the road. She exhaled and smoothed the already flawless material of her cobalt blue pleated peplum dress and prepared to make her way to the main house once again. After grabbing her ever handy file complete with note cards she debated on whether or not to bring her suit jacket along. But before she could decide she was robbed of all focus within just a few short seconds.
After a succession of strong raps on the door Fitzgerald Grant strolled into the room and put their makeshift world on pause. Movements stilled, conversations ceased, and every other noise imaginable seemed to disappear. His appearance caused a trance to fall over everyone and Olivia was not exempt from a reaction of her own. She was stunned into silence by the magnetism of his presence. He was nothing short of dashing even when opting for a slightly casual look in a dark sweater, light dress shirt combo paired with dark slacks.
Olivia couldn't recall a time when the president looked anything other than camera ready and she quickly found that seeing him in the flesh turned the myth into a man. His confidence was almost tangible, he was taller than she had surmised and much much prettier; all attributes she approved of wholeheartedly.
And though they were flanked by more than a dozen people it didn't take long for the two of them to make eye contact. Their gazes locked and something within her stirred. He nodded at her and she smiled politely at him as she found her footing. After whispering a few words to Abby she began to move in his direction, but Harrison beat her to him.
From a distance, she listened to their introduction and gave them their moment as they exchanged pleasantries and went over a few last minute matters. When she felt enough time had passed she approached, her smile and eyes equally bright as she offered her hand.
"Mr. President sir, it is such an honor to finally meet you. I'm Olivia. Pope."
He returned her gesture with the same enthusiasm, showcasing every one of his pearly whites as his hand wrapped around hers. "I assure you the feeling is mutual, Miss Pope. You have no idea how many mornings you've helped get me on my way.
Her head tilted and cheeks warmed at the compliment. "Well that's very kind of you to say, sir. I can't tell you how much that means to us at BNN," she said.
As silence hung between them she wondered if there was indeed a tingle produced from their joined hands. She also wasted a moment trying to determine if his grip on her lingered a little longer than necessary or if maybe she was inventing both things. Chalking it all up to her nervous and overactive imagination at work, she reclaimed her sanity and her voice. "I was just on my way to you, sir, but since you're here we can get this started whenever you're ready."
Partial to her brand of direct professionalism, he was content to let her take the lead and released her hand with a smile. "Well then Miss Pope, I guess there's no time like the present to get this out of the way. Shall we?"
AN2: I'm not new to Scandal but kinda sorta new to Scandal fanfic (and the fics I've found here have been just amazing btw). If there's a fic on this site similar to this let me know and I won't bother with updates. I just wanted to do something with Liv and Fitz and Vermont (still not over it) without having to include B613 at all, even though I lose the mega awesomeness of Fitz building the house for Liv. Okay I'll shut up for now! Anyway, thanks to all who bothered to read this far. Hope you liked let me know if you did or didn't.