DisclaimerCharacters belong to Aaron Sorkin. No copyright infringement is intended. Any similarity to events or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Author's NotesTo the Sirens...
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Fasten Your SeatbeltsDecisions have to be made.
To Mr. Leopold McGarry,
Congratulations, sir. After careful consideration, you have been accepted at New Hampshire's most prestigious preparatory school.
Truthfully, Leo didn't get past the first word of the letter--Congratulations. He was going to school in New Hampshire on a full scholarship.
Running up the stairs to the fifth floor apartment his family resided in, he deftly jumped over old drunken Benji McAllister and was careful to avoid the set mousetraps by the banister. "Ey, Ma!" he called as he slid into the apartment. "I'm going to New Hampshire!"
Jed Bartlet paced at the train station. He hadn't seen Leo in three years. They had exchanged letters and cards during that time and Jed had called down to Boston twice. He wondered how Leo had changed as he waited.
As a train pulled into the station, Jed checked his watch. That one, if the train had left on schedule, was the one from Boston. The platform was soon filled with people and he was having a hard time keeping his eyes open for his friend. Spotting a bench, he swam against the current of people until he reached it and climbed on to see better.
Leo stepped off the train slowly, his suitcase in his hand. He had never really traveled before, except for the move from Chicago to Boston when he was a kid. He started scanning faces. Jed had told him he'd meet him at the station. It had been three years, however, and even then they had only been at Camp Adams together for three weeks.
He grinned, lopsided, when he caught sight of a dark-haired chap standing on a bench. He knew exactly who it was: his friend, Jed Bartlet. Raising his free hand in the air, he waved, hoping to catch Jed's attention.
Jed was about to regret coming, figuring he had never find Leo when he saw a hand shoot up from the crowd. Squinting a little to see better, he broke into a smile. "Leo?" he asked over the din of the people. The hand waved vigorously as it steered its way through the crowd towards him.
When the two saw each other up close, they could do nothing but laugh. Jed jumped off the bench and Leo put his luggage on the ground at his feet as they hugged.
"Welcome to New Hampshire! How was the trip?" Jed asked as they started for the parking lot.
"Long," Leo said with a nod. "But good, thanks. Man, are you ever a sight for sore eyes."
"I was about ready to call this trip a bust when I finally saw your hand."
"Well, I've always been pretty damn lucky if I do say so myself."
Jed smiled. "Just watch your language at school.
Leo's smile faded. "Truth be told, Jed, I gotta tell you... As proud of getting this scholarship as I am, the whole idea of this prep school scares the shit out of me."
Jed clapped his shoulder. "You'll be fine."
"They're gonna peg me as the poor kid from Boston like that," Leo said, snapping his fingers. "It's gonna be worse than Camp Adams."
"Was *all* of your time at Camp Adams bad?" Jed asked, opening the trunk of his car so Leo could put his luggage inside.
"No. It wasn't always rosy either, y'know?"
"I know. You'll make it, Leo. I'll be here the whole time," Jed said with a smile.
Leo returned the grin. "Yeah, but you're different. You're not like the others, even though you are."
"Thanks," he said. "I think."
"Thank you," Leo said seriously as they climbed into Jed's car. "Nice wheels."
"This car may look nice, but it doesn't always run nice..." Jed proved it by trying to start his car.
Leo slowly looked over at Jed as the engine sputtered. "Sounds like ya starter motor or a fan belt."
"You know about cars?"
"Kept my ma's runnin' for couple years now. Lemme take a look," Leo said, getting back out of the car. Popping the hood, he fiddled with the engine. Jed slowly exited the car, watching his friend warily. Leo's lopsided grin returning again, he looked at Jed. "Give it a shot," he said, closing the hood.
Jed looked at him quizzically.
Getting back into the car, Jed turned the key. The car started easily. Jed was shocked as Leo climbed into the passenger seat. "How'd you do that?"
Leo just smiled.
"Seriously, how'd you do that? Normally I have Mrs. Landingham call AAA."
"Mrs. Landingham?" asked Leo.
"She started working for my father this summer, his new secretary."
"Oh, good. I was going to hope that all the ladies at school weren't married."
Jed glanced at Leo as they toddled down the road. "Ladies at school?"
Leo met his friend's gaze. "Yeah. Y'know... Dames. Girls?"
"The only ladies at school are on staff."
"Jed, is this...?"
"You didn't tell me it was an all-boys school."
"This is an all-boy's school."
"Y'suppose I can catch a train back to Boston?"
"There are girls in New Hampshire, sure, just... not at school."
"I'm going to be here for a year and there aren't any..."
"Well, we have a mixer at the end of the year..."
"At the end of the year."
Leo sighed. "At least there's no dress code..."
"Hey, um, Leo..."
Leo fidgeted, tugging at his necktie.
"You're gonna make it worse."
"Will you stop?"
"I'm just saying--"
"Why do we have to wear uniforms?"
"Because your father says so?"
"What's the other part?"
"Because it's what's expected."
"Who cares about what's expected?"
"Employers care about their workers putting in a full day's job at one hundred and ten percent. Expectedness goes right out the window in the face of new ideas, new answers to age-old problems of production, of efficiency."
"And you say you're just the poor kid from Boston?"
"I am the poor kid from Boston. What are we talking about?" asked Leo as they left the dorm and started down the path towards the church.
"Your government and history classes--"
"My government and history classes? When did we start talking about them?"
"Teddy says you're the smartest kid in the class."
"I don't think Teddy would take too kindly to that assessment."
"I hate neckties."
"You'll get used to them."
"Will, too. Want to know why?"
"Because you'll be wearing one every day for the rest of your life."
"Dear God, strike me down now."
"Leo," sighed Jed.
"I'm serious. These things are killer! I'm gonna strangle myself with them."
"You'll be fine."
"Where is the chapel?"
"Up here," Jed said, nodding towards the church. "One thing, though."
"It may be called a nondenominational service..."
Leo looked at Jed slowly.
"Then, why don't we go to Mass?"
"Because we're going here."
"Because it's at school."
"Because your father sends you here?"
"Just... Don't complain too loudly."
Leo stopped in his tracks and looked at his friend. "When have you known me to complain at all?"
"You don't want me to answer that, do you?"
"When have you known me to complain loudly?"
"If it claims to be a nondenominational service and isn't..."
"How many Catholics are there that attend this school?"
Leo's eyes widened. "Two."
"You and me."
"On Sunday?" Jed asked, taken aback by his friend's swearing on Sunday.
"I'll go to confession."
"If you don't like the service here, we'll go to Mass at the church two towns over next week," Jed said quietly, furtively glancing around.
"Why, when you said that, did it look as though you were asking me about joining some insidious plot?"
"We'll talk about it later," Jed said, taking Leo's arm and guiding him along.
"This is insane, Jed."
"Tell me about it."
~Lines from the next installment:
"President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was pronounced dead a little less than fifteen minutes ago in Dallas, Texas."
Leo nearly toppled over, placing a hand to his chest. Jed stared at the radio, his breathing stopped temporarily.