See Disclaimers and Information in Part One

******

Wednesday night, 10:37p.m. Leo's car driving back from Mallory's apartment. Leo's POV.

On his way back from Mallory's apartment, Leo tried counting to ten to keep the bile out of his throat each time he remembered that *scene*. Sam answering the door in *HIS* pajamas with his hair mussed up from recent love making. And Mallory, God she was dressed like one of those girls plastered on the front of Playboy. He was reminded of how Jenny used to look when he was that age. Time has a way of playing cruel tricks on you.

Hell, he was mad as hell and God help anyone that crossed his path tonight. He'd not felt this conflicted since his last alcoholic blitz years ago. He glared at the clock on the dash with fire in his Irish eyes. It read 10:37p.m.

"Good." He responded to the clock as he realized now would be the best time to sneak in under the radar of the West Wing without being disturbed. Margaret would definitely be gone. No way he could deal with her mother-henning tonight. Sometimes he had a hard time putting up with her during the day but that was an issue for another time. Most of the rest of the staff had left earlier in the evening, so he was relatively safe there. He felt that his office in the West Wing was the only neutral place he knew he could go to feel some semblance of normalcy. He just couldn't deal with going home to his empty apartment.

God, what he'd give for a drink right now. Damn, where did that come from? Leo figured maybe he'd better get his notebook out with numbers, just in case, when he reached his office.

While he gazed at the DC skyline at night through his windshield, Leo started carrying on a conversation with Mallory as if she were next to him in the car.

"Damn it to hell, what were you thinking of? You're a fourth grade school teacher. You have your own class, your own minds to mold. Your mother and I tried to raise you with some common sense."

"I raised you to have more respect for yourself. Mal, that hooker, okay, that girl Sam was seeing was wearing more than you were. What has he done to you? You looked like one of those fashion models getting ready for a playboy shoot there, kiddo."

"Mal, baby what were you thinking? I know you're beautiful, but Sam? Come on Mal. You can do better. For crying out loud? You deserve better."

"What did I do to deserve this? I know I wasn't there for you then, but don't shut me out now."

"I was a proud of you, though. You are beautiful like your mother was, is. God, that makes this so hard."

"You are still my little girl. I'm not supposed to think of my little girl in that way. He's not supposed to think of my little girl in that way."

"Why was Sam there dressed in my pajamas? Just tell me that? Why?"

"Tell me that what was written all over your faces was just fantasy, and not the truth? I came to the wrong conclusion, right? I didn't think so baby." He sighed and shook his head as if she could see him.

"Damn Sam Seaborn. If he hurts you, so help me God I will not stop at anything to make him pay. I promise you that. You hear me, Sam?"

"Why does he have to be so likable? Why couldn't he have been some cad that I could just throw out?"

Leo's voice softened with warmth as he continued. "You really love him, don't you baby? He loves you too? I'm really sorry for all the times..."

"You are getting too old for this crap, Leo."

Leo had just turned the corner and the reflection of blue flashing lights in his rearview mirror caught him by surprise. He then remembered too late that there had been a partially covered red stop sign back at the corner.

"Just great, Leo. Tonight can't get any better. Dammit."

He quickly pulled the car over, cut the engine and looked in his rear view at the six foot cop getting out of the car. Leo clenched his jaw and took a deep breath as the cop sauntered slowly towards Leo's open window with his ticket book in hand.

"May I see your license and registration please?"

"Yes, sir."

Leo quietly seethed as he quickly but nervously pulled his license out of his wallet and reached into the ashtray to pull out his registration and insurance card. He handed them to the cop with more ease than he was feeling at the moment.

The officer used his flashlight to read the license, the insurance card, and registration and then glanced intensely at Leo's face, noticing the tense jaw and the nervous smile.

"There is a stop sign back there. You do know that, Mr. McGarry?"

"Yes, Officer. I'm sorry, I was a little distracted."

"I'd say you were a lot distracted. Just don't let it happen again. I'm going to let you off with a warning this time. That can be dangerous in rush hour traffic you know."

"Thank you sir."

"Hey, I like what you guys are doing in the White House by the way. I'm Officer Mike Maxwell."

"Thank you, Officer Maxwell. We try hard to make it work."

"I voted for Bartlett. Isn't your daughter Ms. Mallory O'Brian?"

"Yeah."

"Pretty lady. She teaches my daughter in school. She's a really good teacher. One of the best. My daughter really enjoys her class."

"Thanks. I'll...what's your daughter's name?"

"Alyssa Maxwell."

"I'll tell my daughter next time I see her, that is if..."

"Well, I probably should be getting back to work. Don't concentrate so hard and miss anymore stop signs."

"I won't."

"You have a nice evening Mr. McGarry."

"You too, Officer Maxwell."

"Here are your cards."

"Thanks."

"Uh, can I bother you for your autograph? It's for my daughter. She's a political buff."

"Sure." Leo smiled, his smile reaching all the way to his dancing eyes as he autographed a piece of paper and handed it over to Mike. Mike smiled in return as he quickly read the sentiment Leo had written along with the signature.

"Hey, Thanks Mr. McGarry."

"You're welcome."

"Keep up the good work. Have a nice evening."

Leo watched Mike walk back to his cruiser, get in and beep his horn as he pulled out into traffic. Leo let his breath out slowly as he whistled at what a close call that was.

He started his car and drove the rest of the way to the White House, carefully watching for stop signs, stop lights, pedestrians, and obeying every traffic law he could remember from law school.

 

Part 3

 

 

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