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Pundit Fic: "Some of The Questions"

Rating: PG-13/FRC
Warnings: Major Character Death
Genres: Gen, Future-Fic, Friendship, Angst
Characters/Pairings: Rachel Maddow, OFC, OMCs
Disclaimer: All copyrighted materials referred to in this work are the property of their respective owners. References to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended to be libelous, defamatory, or in any way factual.

Notes: a) Written for the prompt "loss."
b) Set about 25-30 years in the future.

Summary: It's a regular chaotic Thursday for the staff of "Right Now with Rachel Maddow", until a phone call changes everything.


The day it happened was a Thursday. Gina, being a good little geek (like many on the "Right Now With Rachel Maddow" staff) would have made a Douglas Adams joke. And maybe there would be time for that later, but for now she kept it to herself.

Rachel was one of the best bosses Gina had had, especially as a writer. But that didn't mean she was perfect. When Rachel was unhappy, (or happy, for that matter) she did tend to broadcast it. And this whole week, she had been...Gina reached for her mental thesaurus.

Distant. Preoccupied. Just attentive enough to get the show on. Though of course, Rachel being the consummate professional, none of it was ever visible on the air.

But that, that was no surprise. She'd never tell Rachel this; even after a year, Gina still felt too new for that. But Gina remembered, as a teenager, watching Rachel, and marveling at the way Rachel the woman turned into Rachel the host. There was humour, there was urgency, there was occasionally outrage, but always controlled.

The whole staff knew it. Knew, too, of the phone calls that had been punctuating the week's meetings. The ones that made Rachel smile, and at the same time look like she wanted to cry. If she did, she did it in the office, though.

(Another thing Gina'd never tell her, ever: that she'd grown up wanting to *be* Rachel, idolizing her, from the early days at MSNBC, through the lean years back on the radio, up until right now/"Right Now", as the oddest, most awesome doyenne TV punditry had ever seen.)

Which brought everything back to that Thursday. It was 11:30; the morning run-down was just wrapping up. EP Dave (as opposed to Control Room Dave, and occasionally Graphics Department Dave; Rachel's nicknames were contagious) was clearing up minor issues as they all retreated to their corners. Rachel's phone rang, but not with the Beethoven piece they'd all become used to. Gina thought she caught a Rochester area code on the caller ID.

Everybody looked up, and so no one could avoid seeing the way their fearless leader's face fell. Fell, just for a moment, revealing fear, heartache, and resignation. But yet again, Rachel pulled things together.

"Guys, I'll be in my office."

EP Dave nodded wordlessly, Rachel retreated, and work went on as usual. Except that Dave went in to Rachel's office a little while after, and came out with his face drawn.

And at the afternoon rundown, he said something which sent the fear response into overdrive and the adrenaline coursing through everybody.

"Okay, guys, the last segment's going to be different tonight. We're moving the Moment of Geek to tomorrow, moving the mortgage segment up and we'll need 8 minutes after the last c-break."

Gina glanced over at Rachel as subtly as she could; the older woman revealed nothing. Then Gina looked over as Aidan, one of the associate producers, shuffled through his papers, looking highly displeased.

"Dave, I know we're miracle workers, but this is a hell of a thing to spring on us. And we may be getting some news out of the Portland thing tonight, so do we get to know what this is about?"

Dave took a deep breath, looked over at the Rachel in the next seat. She nodded; he continued. "Rachel's writing something; she'll take care of it, just get me the 8 minutes."

Aidan, pain in the ass that he was, looked like he wanted to say more. However, the mood in the room stifled whatever it might have been.

The rest of the day went smoothly...well, "smoothly" being a relative term in news, but Gina kind of liked that. It was a medium kind of news day, the kind that the staff thrived on. But Rachel seemed to...well, take to her office, was the only word for it. The show got written, cameras set, everything ready, but with an air of unease underneath.

Rachel was on the air before the cause became clear. Before the news broke on all the other channels, and the day they'd had came into clear focus. And one by one, around 9:52, everybody gathered in the control room.

The last commercial cleared from the monitors, and there was Rachel. Looking unbearably sad, but with a more peaceful expression on her face.

"And finally, tonight, as you may have already heard elsewhere, we have some sad news to report. My mentor, my colleague, and, as I was lucky to call him, my friend, Keith Olbermann, died today at Cedar-Sinai Medical center in Manhattan, at the age of 82."

Apart from the hum of the machines, there was absolute silence in the control room. Aidan fumbled for Gina's hand; she let him take it.

Rachel took a deep breath, and looked back into the camera.

"Tomorrow, and in the next few days, and in the next few years, we may be able to really honor Keith. Be able to honor what his life meant, and his career, and what he contributed to this profession, and to this country. For now, I can only say what he meant to me, and that was quite a lot. How much he taught me, and how much he gave of himself as a friend, may be an indefinable quantity. For all that he spent his life speaking to people on radio and television, he was not always the easiest man to get to know. But I feel privileged that I could call him my friend, and that he called me his. "

Rachel choked up on this last word; Rachel the woman intruded on Rachel the host, just for a bit.

"Tomorrow, we'll be able to really do it properly. But for tonight..."

She reached under the desk, and retrieved two things: a pair of (very, very vintage) reading glasses; and a book, with a beige cover and black and gold binding. There was a red velvet bookmark sticking out of it.

Rachel started smiling again, put on the glasses, and opened the book.

"For my friend Keith, and for you folks out there....'The Scotty Who Knew Too Much', by James Thurber."



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 11th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
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Apr. 12th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


emma hamilton
i make up for it with cunning and guile

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