TITLE: I Never Expected This
"Hey Margaret." Margaret looked up from her book as Donna sat down next to her in the mess. "How's the pasta today?" Donna indicated the mass of noodles on Margaret's plate.
"Decent, but not spectacular." Margaret responded, poking at the noodles with her fork.
Soon Carol, Bonnie, Ginger, and Cathy joined them at the table. "Margaret, are you still seeing that lawyer?" Ginger asked.
"Carl? Yes, I am." Margaret smiled slightly.
"How long has it been?" Donna asked.
"Four months, next week. Why is everyone so curious about this?"
"We don't have lives of our own." Bonnie responded.
"So...does Leo know?" Carol asked with a small grin.
"No. He'll start asking me a thousand questions, running background checks, and God only knows what else. He worries about me way too much."
"He's in love with you." Donna said, resolutely.
"What! You're insane!" Margaret looked at Donna as if she had two heads.
"That's why he worries so much about you. It's why he doesn't like any of the men you date." Margaret rolled her eyes at Donna and went back to eating.
"Donna, where on earth did you come up with that?" Ginger asked.
"Lots of careful observation. Have you ever seen the way he looks at her when he thinks no one is watching? He's got it bad, either he doesn't realize it or he's too scared to do anything about it, but either way he's in love with her."
Margaret gave Donna an annoyed look before standing up. "Donna, you're out of your mind. I have to get back to work now. Bye." She picked up her tray and walked away.
"Bye." They all responded.
At seven that evening Margaret was packing up her belongings when Leo walked into her office. "Margaret, can you stay late tonight?"
"I wish I could, but I sorta have plans." She hesitantly told him.
"You have a date?"
"Not that it's any of your business, but yes I do?"
"Look, I said I was sorry about that time I had Butterfield run a background check on your boyfriend, but the guy seemed like a creep."
Margaret rolled her eyes. "I know you're sorry, but it doesn't change the fact that you worry way too much about me."
"I promise not to run a background check on this new guy. How long have you been seeing him?"
"Almost four months."
"Can I ask his name or what he does?"
"His name is Carl and he's a lawyer. Are you satisfied?" She was beginning to get annoyed.
"Yes, I didn't mean to pry. Forgive me?" He looked sheepishly at her.
"I forgive you. I'll come in early tomorrow and do whatever you need done."
"Thank you." He smiled softly at her. "Go on, have a good time."
"Thanks." She grabbed her coat and left the office.
Leo went back into his office and sat down. Margaret was right, he was prying into
things that were none of his business, but he cared about her, it wasn't something he
could change. Although, sometimes he thought he cared too much, that he was too possessive
of her. Leo couldn't help but wonder what that meant.
Margaret went home and quickly changed her clothes, tonight they were having dinner at a fancy restaurant in Georgetown. Carl picked her up at precisely eight thirty and they were on their way. He could sense her distraction and tried to make light conversation, but she spent the entire ride to the restaurant thinking over what Donna had said at lunch.
After they had ordered dinner Margaret was listening to Carl describe the case he was currently prosecuting for the District Attorney's office when her thoughts returned once again to Donna's theory. Margaret had always thought Leo would never see her as more than office backdrop, but ever since his divorce he had seemed to notice her slightly more. She cared about him and she knew he cared about her, but she had never thought of him as more than her boss, until now.
"Margaret?" Her attention rapidly shifted back to Carl when she heard her name. "Everything ok? You seem a little distracted. Bad day?"
"I'm sorry. No, it wasn't a bad day, just a long one." She smiled as she
leaned over to kiss him. Margaret felt guilty for not paying attention to whatever he had
been saying and tried desperately to focus her mind on him. She managed to successfully
push Leo out of her mind for the rest of the night.
The next morning Margaret was at her desk bright and early when Leo arrived. "Good morning Leo."
"Morning. How was your date?" He asked, struggling to sound casual.
"Great, let's get to work."
They passed the rest of the morning in their normal fashion and around 12:30 Leo told Margaret she could head to lunch. She sat a table staring at her food, analyzing every moment she had spent with Leo that day. He had seemed slightly resentful that she had a date, but that didn't necessarily mean anything, he could have just been annoyed that she couldn't stay late. It didn't mean he had feelings for her.
Suddenly Donna interrupted her reverie. "Hey Margaret, only three days 'til the Christmas party. Isn't it great?"
"Huh...Oh yeah, great." Margaret forced a smile. Donna was the last person she wanted to talk to, she was ready to kill her for starting all of this.
"No, everything is not ok." Margaret glanced around to make sure no one was within earshot. "What you said at lunch yesterday has been making me crazy. Is this insane theory of yours based on anything besides your imagination?"
Donna smiled, clearly pleased with herself. "The first time I noticed it was at the first lady's birthday party last month. You were dancing with some guy from the press office and I saw him watching you. He was looking at you like a guy who's hopelessly in love. I tried to get him to ask you to dance, but I just got an annoyed look."
"He gives that look a lot."
"Well, ever since then I've been watching him with you. Whenever you're not looking he watches you. It's incredibly sweet and touching."
"He's never even hinted at it to me."
"You're his assistant, he probably doesn't want to jeopardize your relationship.... Have you ever thought about it?"
"Honestly.... yes. Once or twice in the past and about a hundred times since yesterday at lunch." Margaret took a deep breath.
"Are you in love with Carl?"
Margaret thought for a long while before responding. "No."
"Are you bringing him to the Christmas party?"
"If you want to know for sure how Leo feels, that could do it."
"I don't know. Don't you have any work to do?" Margaret desperately wanted to be left alone with her thoughts.
"Fine, I'll go, but think about what I said." Donna stood up and walked away.
Three days later Margaret arrived at the Christmas party with Carl. "Margaret." She looked up and saw Donna approaching them.
"Hey Donna. Carl, this is Donna Moss. Donna, this is Carl Andrews."
"Hi, nice to meet you." Donna reached out her hand.
"You too." Carl responded, shaking her hand.
Leo was on the other side of the room talking with Toby when he noticed them. He tried to discreetly get a look at Carl, but he was too far away. Frustrated, he excused himself and walked across the room to Margaret.
"Leo, I'd like you to meet Carl Andrews. Carl, this is my boss Leo McGarry."
"It's good to finally meet you Mr. McGarry." Carl smiled warmly as he shook Leo's hand.
"Thanks. It's nice to meet you." He studied the taller man carefully, but much to his dismay couldn't find anything negative about him.
Margaret caught Donna's eye as she motioned towards the middle of the room where people were dancing. "Dancing with Carl." Donna mouthed silently.
Margaret rolled her eyes at Donna's childish behavior, but decided to do it anyway. "Come on Carl, let's go dance. Excuse us."
"Sure thing. It was nice to meet you both." He said, as Margaret led him onto
the dance floor, leaving Leo alone with Donna.
Leo looked at Donna. "What the hell is with you? Don't you have anything better to do?"
"You can yell at me all night, but it won't change the fact that you're in love with her."
"Donna, I think your undying lust for Josh is really starting to get to you." He commented dryly.
"Ha ha. Wiseass all you want, it won't change a damn thing. Merry Christmas." She softly kissed his cheek before walking away.
Leo spent the rest of the night staying as far away as possible from Margaret and Carl. Finally as the party died down he retreated to the quiet of his office. A few moments later Margaret walked in.
"I came to get my coat and saw your light was on."
"What happened to Carl?"
"Problem at work, he had to go."
"Oh. Did you have fun tonight?" Leo fished for something to take his mind off the way the soft light illuminated her face.
"Yes, it was a great party. It's late, you should go home and get some rest."
Maybe sleep would take his mind off her. "Yeah, so should you."
"Good point. I'll see you tomorrow." She turned and started to leave his office.
"Margaret, wait." She stopped in the doorway and turned to face him. "I got you a present." Leo reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a long slender box.
"Thank you, oh God I almost forgot, I got you something too." She hurried to her desk and returned with a small package, wrapped in gold paper.
He unwrapped his box and held up the cufflinks. "Thank you, these are really nice."
"This is beautiful, thank you." Margaret opened the box and pulled out a shimmering gold bracelet.
"Here let me help you." He put the cufflinks into his pocket and fastened the bracelet around her wrist.
"Thanks." She softly kissed his cheek.
"No problem. Merry Christmas." He gently traced the side of her face with his hand, before softly touching his lips to hers. He had intended to give her a simple, friendly kiss, but his intentions changed when he felt her responding. Margaret grabbed the front of his coat and pulled him to her, backing them into the edge of his desk. Her lips grew more insistent as he slid his hands inside her coat and ran them along her sides. Soon she was pulling at his tie as he pushed off her coat. He could feel her undoing his belt as he yanked open her blouse, when a ringing phone interrupted them.
Leo grabbed the phone, annoyed. "Hello.... Yes, sir.... Toby's going to have the speech on your desk first thing in the morning.... Thank you sir.... Goodnight."
After hanging up the phone Leo quickly turned his attention back to Margaret who was sitting on his desk, buttoning her blouse. He began to have a bad feeling, "What's wrong?"
"I need to go." She turned her face away from his as she spoke, but he could see the look of guilt in her eyes.
She pulled her coat on and hurried out the door. "I'll see you tomorrow." And
then she was gone.
Later that night Leo sat in his apartment starring out the window. He had been so close, she had kissed him, and she had wanted him. If that damn phone hadn't rang... Donna had been right all along; he was in love with her.
After Margaret entered her apartment she took off her coat and looked down at her partially buttoned blouse. She had been in too much of a hurry to close the top buttons. Her lips felt bruised as she ran her fingers over them. Margaret smiled as she remembered the way Leo's hands felt on her. She was beginning to regret having run out on him. Her first instinct was to go running back to him, but she was distracted by a noise in the kitchen.
"Margaret, is that you?" She heard Carl's voice from the kitchen and suddenly remembered that he had a key.
She quickly buttoned her shirt and straightened her clothes. "Yeah, I thought you were at work."
He walked into the room. "The problem turned out to not be as serious as I thought. So I thought I'd come back here and wait for you. How was the party?"
"Fine." She remarked vaguely.
"Is something wrong?" He sat on the couch across from her.
She crossed her arms tightly across her chest. "We need to talk about something."
"That sounds bad."
"Look Carl I really like you, but...I don't think this is going to work out. I care about you, but I know I'm never going to feel more than that." She desperately tried to look at him as she spoke.
"Margaret, don't you think you're rushing into this? I love you, maybe if you give it more time..."
"No, I'm not nineteen anymore. I know myself well enough at this point to make this decision."
"Are you sure about this?"
Margaret cringed at the hurt look on his face. "Yes, I'm sorry."
"Fine." He replied curtly. "Goodbye." Carl placed her key on the coffee table and walked out of her apartment.
Margaret buried her face in her hands. "Please, God tell me I didn't just make the
worst mistake of my life." She muttered to herself.
The next morning Margaret arrived at work early, hoping to talk to Donna. "Hey Margaret." Donna said when she saw her.
"Hey, do you know if Leo's in yet?"
"He and Josh aren't here yet."
"Good, can I talk to you for a minute?" Margaret grabbed Donna's arm and pulled her into Josh's office.
"What's wrong?" Donna asked as she closed the door.
"I broke up with Carl last night after the party."
"Oh, did something happen with Leo?"
"We kissed and..." She trailed off.
"Oh my God, you can not stop this story now! And what?" Donna stared open mouthed.
"And if the phone hadn't rung I don't know what might have happened."
"Wait, if you broke up with Carl then what's the problem?"
"I broke up with him after I kissed Leo."
"Well great, now you and Leo can be together." Donna said happily.
"I really don't think it's going to be that simple?" Margaret sat down wearily.
"I'm still not seeing the problem, it seems simple enough to me."
"After the phone interrupted us last night I practically ran out of Leo's office. I wouldn't even turn around when he tried to stop me."
"So, just tell him you shouldn't have run out so fast. He loves you, I'm sure everything will be fine once you talk about it."
"Oh, come on Donna he probably thinks I'm nuts now. We go from almost having sex on his desk to me running out of the room."
"On his desk? Wait, spare me the details. Just go talk to him." Donna told her sternly.
Margaret took a deep breath. "You're right." She stood up and walked to the door. "Thanks."
Margaret was sitting at her desk when Leo arrived. "Good morning Margaret."
"Morning Leo." She handed him his messages and a copy of his schedule. "Josh wants to see you as soon as you have a minute."
"Tell him I can see him now." He walked into his office.
They passed the day as though nothing had happened Leo didn't want to make Margaret uncomfortable by talking about it, so he stayed quiet. Margaret wasn't sure how to broach the subject, so she stayed quiet. At almost eight that night she finally gathered up enough courage to say what she had to say.
"Leo, can I come in?" She tapped lightly on the door to his office.
"Sure." He motioned to the chair in front of his desk.
She entered the office and closed the door behind her. "Leo, about last night..."
He cut her off. "It's alright, you don't have to explain. I jumped to the wrong conclusion. I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable in any way. I won't happen again, I promise." He stammered as he moved to stand in front of his desk.
Margaret let out a soft laugh. "You didn't jump to the wrong conclusion, you jumped to exactly the right conclusion."
"What about Carl?"
"I ended it last night.... Leo, last night I was confused about my feelings for you... now I'm not."
"What exactly does that mean?" He looked at her, confused.
"I ran out of here because I was scared. I made a mistake."
"Margaret, what are you saying?"
Instead of responding she crossed the room and kissed him softly. "That's what I meant. You jumped to the correct conclusion last night, I just got scared."
"And you're not scared now."
He reached for her hand and pulled her body towards his as he kissed her. The kiss lasted a long while before he ran his hands over her sides and wrapped his arms around her waist. The kiss deepened as she slid her hands inside his jacket and slid it off his shoulders. Leo moved on to kissing her neck as he fumbled with her blouse.
"Leo." She said breathlessly.
He pulled his hands away. "I'm sorry, are we moving to fast?"
"No. I'm just not sure we should do this here."
"Let's get out of here." He grinned at her as she linked her arm with his.
"I thought you'd never ask." They walked out of the office.