Homecoming- Part 2
An hour later, Caitlin and Leo were walking through the staff entrance of the White House. She looked around for familiar faces, but soon became overwhelmed. She had forgotten just how many people actually worked in the White House.
"So no one knows I'm coming right?" Caitlin asked
"No, well actually Margaret knows. I had to have her clear my schedule so I could pick you up."
"You really didn't have to do that. I could have taken a cab. Or the metro. Blue line to Foggy Bottom- only 6 stops from National Airport."
Leo looked at Caitlin sternly. "You can't do that anymore."
"I used to do it all the time Leo. I went to college here remember? The George Washington University. Four blocks away. I used to travel all over this city."
"I remember but things have changed, your life style is going to change."
"I know. It's just going to take some getting used to. I'm a very independent person you know." Caitlin replied with mock indignation.
Leo smiled at Caitlin as a harried staff member approached them. "Mr. McGarry, you're needed right away. Mr. Lyman's meeting with the representatives from the Friends of Sea Urchins is breaking down, and Mr. Lyman is threatening to put them on the endangered species list. And I don't think he means the sea urchins."
Caitlin stifled a laugh at the image in her mind. "It's ok Leo, I can find my way around. I'll wait in your office for the right time to spring my surprise."
"Ok, if you get lost just ask for directions. It's a bit confusing."
"I think I can manage. I used to work here after all."
"I forgot about that. Ok, I'll meet you in my office." Caitlin gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before he rushed off to prevent Josh from following through with his threat.
Caitlin then took a deep breath and headed off through the West Wing towards the Chief of Staff's office, trying not to look too conspicuous. As she turned a corner she was greeted with a barrage of loud voices.
"If the President shelves this bill, we can get COngress to pass the energy bill and a modified, less damning gun bill."
"Mandy, you can't go in there telling the President that he needs to abandon the one cause that means most to him."
"Toby's right Mandy, the President will not back away from gun control. The assault weapons bill didn't work as planned, he won't give up on this one. He wants to get the guns away from kids and fanatics. He won't stick this bill in a drawer in order to try and win over some right wing conservatives who won't support him or the energy bill anyway."
"Sam..." Mandy began.
"They're right. He won't listen to you. This issue is too important to him to back away from all in the name of politics. He would rather take a firm stand on both bills individually, win or lose, that abandon his beliefs."
The three people turned to Caitlin, who unable to keep quiet had spoken from the door to the bullpen.
"Who the hell are you?" Mandy, frustrated, asked icily.
"Hey!" Sam exclaimed happily as he walked over to Caitlin and wrapped her in a big hug.
"I should've known." Mandy stated. "Sam would you kindly keep your girlfriends out of White House affairs. This is a place for professionals. Not groupies." Mandy then stalked out of the bullpen.
"Excuse me?" Caitlin said as she watched Mandy walk away. She turned back to Sam. "That was interesting."
"Don't mind Mandy." Sam said. "She's very passionate about her job. Sometimes that comes off as..."
"Fanatical, obsessive..." Toby supplied.
"Bitchy" Caitlin finished.
The three chuckled. "What are you doing here Caitlin?" Sam asked.
"Good to see you too Sam."
"No, I mean I am glad to see you but I had no idea."
"I'm surprised there wasn't a State Dinner or something planned." Toby added.
Caitlin laughed at Toby's familiar sarcasm. "No one knew, except for Leo. I wanted it to be a surprise."
"It definitely was. And it will be again for Mandy once she realizes who just called a groupie." Toby smiled. "Welcome home Caitlin. Sam I'll see you in senior staff." Toby made his way out of the bullpen.
"Yeah." Sam replied to Toby before turning back to Caitlin. For the first time he really looked at her.
"What?" She asked a little uncomfortable under his gaze.
"Uh, nothing, it's just you look, I mean you're, well..."
"What's this Sam Seaborn at a loss for words. I need to mark this day down."
Sam smiled. "You look different that's all. So, when did you get in?"
Sam and Caitlin continued small talk as they walked to Leo's office. Caitlin tried to keep her mind on the conversation, but she was finding it difficult, especially when Sam placed his hand at the small of her back to guide her. 'A year and a half, and he still makes my stomach flip flop' Caitlin thought as she stole a glance at Sam. 'I really need to get over this crush. The campaign was one thing but now...'
"Caitlin, you still with me?"
"Yeah, yeah sorry. I guess I'm a little overwhelmed"
"Hey you too." Leo called out as he met them in the hall.
"So did you calm Josh down?" Caitlin asked smiling.
"What happened?" Sam asked.
"Long story." Leo replied. "I see part of your surprise was foiled. Are you ready to let the rest of the world in on your homecoming?"
"Now is as good a time as any." Caitlin said.
"I'll head on in to senior staff and make sure everyone is here." Sam said leaving Leo and Caitlin in the hall.
They gave him about five minutes, until they heard a heated discussion come from inside.
"Mr. President, I'm only suggesting that you try meeting these people half way. If you..." Mandy tried to finish.
"Mandy, this is one issue I will not compromise on. I have to try and convince these people of the merits of both full strength bills. A mellowed version of either one would do this nation no good. I would feel better fighting for both individually and losing then compromising my beliefs." The President replied turning from Mandy towards his desk.
"Where have I heard that before?" Toby asked looking at Mandy knowingly.
"I knew you would say that." Caitlin said from her position next to Leo at the open door.
All eyes in the room turned towards her.
"Her again?" Mandy whispered to Sam. "You really need to keep her under control."
"I think you might get a kick out of this Mandy." Sam replied trying not to laugh.
"Caitlin!" The President exclaimed.
"Politics is too important to be left to politicians" -John Kennedy Jr.
"Scholarship is good, scholarship is fun, scholarship is for everyone"