For notes and disclaimer, please see part one.

Previously, on the West Wing: While Leo undergoes a day of testimony before the Grand Jury, he relives his experiences in Vietnam.

Margaret met Leo at the door to the courthouse with a day-planner in hand. "I've rescheduled the Senate Minority Leader for tomorrow morning at eight--"

"You'll have to change it again. They're not done with me yet," Leo said with a heavy sigh as he charged down the stairs and towards the waiting black sedan.

Margaret looked up from the planner at him before making a note in the margin of the calendar page. "You've been testifying for three days," she said as they slid into the back seat of the car.

"And they're not done with me yet."

Margaret was silent for a long moment before asking, "Is it going that badly?"

"I've lived through worse."

"I'm sorry," she said sympathetically.

He looked at her, and, for a moment, saw Colonel Reece.

Noting his strange expression, she looked back at him questioningly. "Leo?"

"What else?"

"What else what?"

"What else," he said, pointing to the planner.

"Oh. Um, C.J. and Toby need twenty minutes with you tonight. And the President wants to see you the moment you walk in the door. Josh says that the tobacco thing is going nowhere..."

Jersey--whose real name was Jimmy Kessler from Trenton, New Jersey--arranged for Leo's uniform to be waiting for him in Saigon. Sitting in the troop transport back to the States, he had plenty of time to think, and to write. He hadn't written a letter to Jed Bartlet in nearly four months, so he scribbled his thoughts and feelings on blank paper he managed to pilfer from the base in Saigon. Hunched over, holding a flashlight to the paper, he wrote:

Jed. Hi. I know it's been a while since I've written, and for that I really apologize. It's just... Life's tough over in 'Nam. I don't have a lot of time to write, or think, or anything, really. I do my flying runs almost daily now. We've lost so many pilots and planes that it... Well, I lost a plane today. I take it back. I don't know if it was today, or if it was yesterday. I haven't slept in a while. I was shot down again but had the time to punch out. I stumbled across an Army base--thank God--and was hit with some bad news. Right now, I'm in a plane somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. I'm gonna mail this when I land in California, before I switch planes to go home, to Boston.

My mom is dying. I left New Hampshire because she was sick. The government drew my number and I wound up in flight school. Here I am, two years later, flying home on temporary emergency leave. The doctor gave the "come now" yesterday. I was able to talk to Jo, and she said that she and Lizzie have been taking turns staying with Ma. She may be dead by the time I get there.

I lost my father when I wasn't looking; I sure as hell don't want to lose my mother when I'm trying my damnedest to get home to her.

Anyway, my flashlight battery is dying, not to mention the fact that I only was able to grab one sheet of paper and an envelope on my way out of Saigon. I don't know how long they're gonna let me stay in Boston. When you get this, give me a call anyway, okay? The phone number is still the same.

Your friend, Leo

"...and wants you to talk to the committee, because he's just hitting brick walls."

"Margaret."

"Yes?"

He looked at her and tried to remember what he wanted to ask her, or tell her. He couldn't, though. Whatever it was, was gone. For some reason, he was remembering flying home when his mother died. "Nothing."

"Okay," she said slowly.

"Mallory hasn't called, has she?"

"She has," Margaret said with a nod. "As well as Josephine and Elizabeth."

"Jenny hasn't, huh?"

Margaret shook her head. "No," she said quietly.

He inhaled deeply as the White House came into view. "Okay. Call Mal, Josie, and Lizzie, tell them I'm fine. I'm going to talk with the President. I'll talk to C.J. and Toby in about an hour."

Margaret nodded, scribbling the orders down on a blank sheet of paper in the planner in shorthand.

"And bring me a cup of coffee, would you?"

Leo entered Boston General, still in full uniform, and approached the nurse's station. After a nervous, anxious exchange, Leo headed for the nearest elevator and took it to the fourth floor. Stepping off, he followed the signs to his mother's ICU.

Josephine and Elizabeth were coming out of the room, both crying and holding onto each other. "Jo? Liz?" he asked.

His younger sisters looked up at him, almost as though they were looking at a ghost.

"L-Leo!" Josephine said as Elizabeth rushed into his open arms.

"Tell me I'm not too late, Jo," he said, holding his youngest sister. Elizabeth wailed on Leo's shoulder.

"She just... She just passed away."

Leo looked into the ICU, where the doctor was coming out, speaking with a nurse quietly.

"Mark the time of death for Mallory Ann McGarry for nine fourteen."

Leo looked at Mrs. Landingham's still empty desk as Charlie emerged from the Oval Office, waving the Chief of Staff inside. Leo mumbled his thanks as he walked into the Oval Office.

"Leo."

"Mr. President."

"How'd it go?"

"It's still going."

"You're not done yet?"

Leo shook his head.

"They only took a day and a half for each of the Senior Staff members, including C.J."

"Yeah, well, it looks like it's going into day four for me."

"I'm sorry, Leo," Bartlet said.

"No. We're not going to have any regrets here."

"It's my fault that you're going through hell, that the rest of the staff is going through hell, that the country is going through hell."

"The Republicans are getting a kick out of this."

"That was my goal, Leo," Bartlet said sarcastically. "To give the Grand Old Party ammunition."

"What's done is done, Mr. President. You've got to keep being Bartlet," he said. "If you start apologizing to anyone or everyone, including me, then... Then it's all over. You did nothing wrong, Mr. President. And, in three days of my telling that to the Grand Jury, Carruth hasn't heard my answers nearly enough times. We've got to stay strong here, Mr. President."

Bartlet regarded his best friend and Chief of Staff closely for a moment, a moment of silence which Leo was thankful for after his hours on the witness stand. "Leo, go home."

"Mr. President?"

"I haven't seen you look this haggard in years. Get some sleep."

"I've got to talk to C.J. and Toby, and Josh wanted something. I'm sure Babish will want to talk to me about something, too, so I'm fine. Margaret's going to be bringing me a cup of coffee... I'm fine, Mr. President."

Bartlet shook his head. "Okay," he said. "I have to talk with the chairman of the Fed."

"I'll be next door," Leo said.

Elizabeth wailed when she heard the doctor, and clung to her brother's strong arms.

"No," Leo said, shaking his head. "No, no, no. This... This isn't happening again. This isn't happening here. I just got here."

"Leo," Josephine said gently.

"No, damn it!" Leo yelled. "I just *got* here! I was supposed to have a chance to tell her goodbye!"

"I'm sorry," said the doctor.

"No," Leo said, still shaking his head. Releasing Elizabeth, he entered the ICU and saw the white sheet brought up over his mother's face. Walking determinedly, he pulled the sheet down to see her face. Her motionless expression was one of relief. He almost stumbled over a chair trying to back away from her. "I was supposed to be able to tell you goodbye," he told her. "I was supposed to be able to see you *alive*."

"Leo, c'mon, won't you?" asked Josephine from the door.

He looked at his sister. "I tried, Josie. I tried."

"I know."

"Fuck!" he yelled, throwing his hat at the wall. "I wasn't supposed to walk into a room and find my other parent dead. That's not the way life works, Josie. It shouldn't work like this!"

"Let's go home, Leo."

"Damn it, Jo."

"Leo, please."

"This is crap, Josie. This is crap!" cried Leo. "This is crap," he muttered.

Margaret, who had almost made it to her office, looked back at him. "I fixed it the way you like it."

"What?" Leo asked, looking up at her.

"The coffee. Do you want me to try again?"

He looked down at the mug she must've brought in for him, then back up at her. "No, I'm sure it's fine."

"You just said it was crap."

"No, I was..." He stopped and took a sip. "It's fine coffee, Margaret."

She frowned but nodded. "Okay."

"Unless there's nuclear war, Margaret, hold my calls for an hour."

She nodded again, and closed the door on her way out.

Leo took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. Standing up and looking out his window, he absentmindedly rubbed his lower back.

Only traces of pink and orange remained over Washington's skyline. For three days, Leo had gone into testifying with the sun barely up and he'd leave with the sun barely down. It was wearing him out. He was getting tired of it. He couldn't remember the last time he had gotten more than an hour's worth of sleep at a time. The President said he looked haggard, more so than he had been in years.

Sighing, closing his eyes, and letting his head loll back on his shoulders, he realized that comment meant he hadn't seen him this bad off since before he flew out to Arizona.

"Leo, *please*," begged Josephine as Elizabeth cried harder.

Leo looked into Josephine's eyes, his own burning. He was angry. He was upset. She was scared. Elizabeth was heartbroken. Sighing, he retrieved his hat, covered his mother, and left the room.

"Thank you," she whispered.

"I was so damned close, Jo," he said. Walking into the hallway to join his sisters, he bobbled and fell, crying out in pain.

"Leo?" asked Josephine, rushing to her big brother's side.

He tried to get up only to fall down again, biting his tongue to keep from screaming in agony.

"Leo, what's wrong? Leo, please. Cut it out, will ya?" asked Josephine.

The words of the medic suddenly filled his head. He must've cracked something in Vietnam and he bet he broke whatever bone it was when he fell. "Get me a doctor, Jo. Do it now," he said through clenched teeth.

Josephine looked at him, scared. She had just spent weeks at her mother's hospital bedside. She didn't want to spend weeks at his.

Two x-rays and some four hours later, a doctor appeared at the door. Leo had been catching up with his teenage sisters, telling them as little as possible about the war as he could. "So?" Leo asked.

"Your tibia and fibula are both broken."

Leo looked at his sisters, then back at the doctor. "I'm a pilot in the Air Force."

"Not any more. It's obvious you've walked around with the broken bones for a while, doing some damage to the ends of the broken pieces."

"The Air Force let me come home on an emergency, temporary pass because my mom was dyin'. I have to get back."

"Your leg isn't the only problem."

"What else?" Leo asked.

"You cracked a vertebra."

"I what?"

"One of the bones in your spine is cracked, fractured."

"I can't fly any more?"

The doctor shook his head. "You're going to be here for a while."

Leo was recalled to the witness stand at eight in the morning, having been at the courthouse since a little after seven, talking with Morgan and Babish. He was reminded that he was still under oath, and Carruth began his attack for the fourth day in a row. They only paused for forty-five minutes for lunch at noon.

As testimony for the day was finally winding down, Carruth said, "You told us yesterday that you hadn't had a drink or a pill in seven, almost eight years."

"That's what I said."

"When was the President diagnosed with M.S. again?"

"It was in 1993 sometime."

"How many years ago is that?"

"Eight."

"Eight years."

"Yes," Leo said, wondering where he was going with that.

"Is it possible that you weren't told because you could have been a risk?"

Leo focused on Carruth intently. "What?" he asked.

"Is it possible, Mr. McGarry, that the Bartlets didn't tell you about the President's Multiple Sclerosis because they didn't trust you to keep their secret?"

"Objection!" said Morgan.

Leo didn't hear the objection and answered anyway. "No. That's absurd."

"Is it?" asked Carruth. "You don't think that the Bartlets could have kept this information from you because you were a drunkard and a junkie?"

Both Morgan and Babish got to their feet, objecting.

Carruth continued, undeterred. "You were running the Labor Department with a bottle of scotch in one hand, and a prescription bottle of valium in the other. Is it possible they didn't want to see your head explode when they gave you one more thing to worry about?"

"Mr. Carruth!" said the judge.

"Is it possible, Mr. McGarry, that you weren't told because you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between Multiple Sclerosis and a fish? Is it possible, Mr. McGarry, that they didn't tell you because you were untrustworthy? Isn't it true that they begged you to seek treatment for your addictions? Isn't it also true that Jed Bartlet called you almost daily for six months while you sat in your office in the Department of Labor, and pleaded with you to get the help you so desperately needed? Isn't it true, Mr. McGarry?"

Leo had sat quietly while Carruth attacked him verbally. His blood, which had been simmering most of the day, was now at a full boil. "Did Josiah Bartlet keep something from the American people?" asked Leo. "Yes. He did. About his *health*. Franklin Delano Roosevelt kept the fact that he was in a *wheelchair* from the entire American public, for the *four* terms that he served! The media at the time even assisted in keeping that secret. He was never photographed with braces, or in his wheelchair. He was probably one of the best Presidents this country has ever seen. He got us through World War II. He saw us out of the depression. He put programs such as social security into being. Public works. Areas in the American South have power because of his Tennessee Valley Authority. You want to tell me that he should have been removed from office when he was the man who led us out of the Great Depression? Hoover did *nothing*."

Babish and Morgan exchanged glances. The judge waved them to sit down.

"A downed fighter-pilot in Iraq," continued Carruth. "You lied about the rescue operation."

"Would you like me to turn over sensitive, classified information to the Iraqis? That's what would have happened."

"You have trouble with classified information. Your rehab records."

"I went on the condition of anonymity," Leo said with a nod.

"And yet..."

"And yet the fact that I sought out help was splayed across every major newspaper, magazine, and television newscast."

"Are you bitter about that?"

"I'm bitter about this."

"Answer the question, Mr. McGarry."

"I was upset."

"Were you bitter?"

"I was upset. I was not bitter."

"How did you feel when you were told about Jed Bartlet's M.S.?"

"I was upset. And I was concerned."

"Concerned?"

"Yes."

"For the American people?"

"For my friend."

"Because he has an incurable disease?"

"Yes."

"An incurable disease that could affect his ability to govern."

"What you don't know about Jed Bartlet that I do, is that if there was anything that would prevent him from doing his job, and doing it well, he would do what he could to get rid of that hindrance."

"So, we should impeach him, remove him from office."

"So you should leave him the hell alone. He is going to run for a second term because there is nothing that will keep him from leading the country for the next six years."

Stay tuned...

~Scenes from the next installment:

"What about you?" asked Jed.

Leo turned to look at his old friend. "I'm now a former Air Force lieutenant who fought in Vietnam. I have a purple heart. There's more to my life than that?"

 

Chapter 3

 

 

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