DisclaimerCharacters belong to Aaron Sorkin, those you recognize anyway. Any similarity to events or persons living or dead is purely coincidental. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's NotesTo the Sirens. Gals, I love you to no end and I appreciate all of your thoughts and input, and beta-reading skills. :)
Alsowith apologies to Julian. ;)
SpoilersUm... Pilot, IED, Shibboleth, 18th and Potomac, Two Cathedrals
FeedbackAlways greatly appreciated.
ArchiveTell me where.
Sins of the FatherAn unlikely friendship begins and lasts the decades. Sequel to Old Hickory.
He hated scrubbing the tables. If there was one chore that he hated the most, it was scrubbing the tables. That, or cleaning the kitchen. Or mowing the grass. Or washing the windows. He just didn't like his job. It was one thing to do chores at home, but it was something else entirely to do them at a camp for rich, privileged kids.
Finishing up in the main dining room, he wiped the sweat from his brow and headed into the kitchen to toss out the wash water. He dumped the bucket and dried his hands on a towel before pulling the list of things to do out of his back pocket. "Wash the dishes, check... Wash the tables... check. Mop the floor... check. Sweep the gym floor. Damn," he muttered, folding the list and putting it back in his pocket. He'd be here for another hour at least. Turning off the light in the kitchen, he slipped out the back door and crossed the dark field, past the tennis courts and swimming pool, across the tiny bridge over the minuscule stream that cut through the center of camp, and made his way in between the cabins to finally reach the large gymnasium.
He found the broom easily enough and set about the large job. He kept thinking of when he studied Andrew Jackson, how he had worked his way up from nothing. He kept telling himself that working at Camp Adams was just a stepping-stone, a stepping-stone to bigger and better things. Mayor Leo McGarry... Dr. Leo McGarry... Senator Leo McGarry... General Leo McGarry... For some reason, he wouldn't allow himself to think of 'President Leo McGarry.' That seemed like a fantasy too wild to even dream about, even for a moment. Besides, the Senator and General titles would probably never come, because he had to be close to his mom, to take care of his family. With his father dead, the McGarry family needed some sort of guidance. He wasn't sure how much guidance a fifteen-year-old kid could offer, but he was certainly going to do the best he could. That was why he was working. They needed all the money they could get. Leo worked from sunup to way past sundown at Camp Adams, working as hard as he could for the wages they paid. It wasn't much by any stretch of the imagination, but they needed the money. And Leo didn't feel right taking the money for anything less than giving it his all, which meant he wouldn't get home until ten, eleven, sometimes midnight, and he'd be back at camp by five-thirty or six in the morning.
Most people might have whistled while they worked, but not him. He was usually too busy thinking of something. His little sister Elizabeth's birthday was coming up. He had to get her something. His mom suffered a pay cut at the restaurant where she worked. She held down a second job as well, working in a factory, and that pay was fine, but the hours were long and grueling. That meant she'd probably be asleep at the dining room table over the bills when he got home. He'd send her to bed and finish them up before passing out in his bedroom for a few hours of glorious, dead sleep.
Roaring laughter made him look up and turn towards the side door that opened, allowing four teenage boys to race inside. "Ey, ey!" he yelled at them. Three of them turned around and raced back out while the other stood, frozen. "What d'ya think you're doin' here, huh? It's way past ya curfew," Leo growled.
"We were just"
"You was just what?" Leo asked, leaning against the broom.
"Are you going to turn us in?" asked the dark-haired boy who stood in front of him. He turned to see his companions, but they were long since gone. "Me in?" he corrected, looking back at Leo.
"What's ya name?" Leo asked, slowly walking up to him.
The boy cleared his throat. "Jed. Jed Bartlet."
Even the name sounded rich, Leo thought. "Go back to ya cabin and don't come bustin' in heah... Or the kitchen or dinin' room for that matta," he said, going back to his sweeping.
Jed looked at him curiously. When Leo heard he hadn't moved, he looked back up at him.
"You hard a' hearin'?" asked Leo.
"Then what'samatta?" he asked. "What'cha stickin' around here for?"
"You can't be much older than me," Jed said.
"Probably not," said Leo, trying to focus on his sweeping and failing.
"What's your name?"
"Why do you care?"
"I was just curious..."
"Don't be curious," snapped Leo. "Just get goin'. You'll be outta Boston and back to wherever you're from before ya know it, so just... Just scram."
"I'm from New Hampshire."
"Good for you," Leo said sarcastically.
"Where are you from?"
"Don't you evah listen? Get outta here before I *do* turn ya in."
"I'm here for another three weeks."
"So?" asked Leo.
"I'll see you later," Jed said, taking a step backwards.
"If I see you or any a ya friends in here after tonight"
"Don't worry," Jed said with a faint smile.
Leo regarded Jed Bartlet warily.
"See you around."
With that, Jed turned around and left the gym, leaving Leo befuddled for a solid five minutes. None of the rich kids ever bothered to ask him where he was from, or what his name was. It was always, 'hey, you' or 'hey, boy' followed by a request for something: towels by the pool, a saddle for the horses, another tennis ball. Shaking his head, Leo went back to work.
Finishing up, he looked at the clock. It was twelve thirty. He wouldn't be home until one o'clock. Sighing heavily, he raced to find his bicycle and pedaled home as fast as his worn-out feet would go.
The next morning, Leo entered the dining room to look for Thomas Lange, the camp director. He never liked being there when the campers were eating. Besides feeling incredibly out of place, he didn't like the looks they gave him. He'd rather spend as much time away from them as he possibly could.
Jed Bartlet, carrying his breakfast tray, smiled as he approached him. "Hi."
Leo just nodded.
"You had breakfast yet?"
"Yeah," Leo lied. He'd grab something from the kitchen later on.
"Oh," Jed said. "Okay."
"You seen Mr. Lange this morning?"
"No, not yet," Jed said.
"Sure," Jed said, grinning.
"What'cha smilin' for?" asked Leo apprehensively.
"Well, tell me your name."
Leo thought for a moment before obliging. "Leo."
Jed stuck his hand out to him. "Hi."
Leo looked at Jed's hand, then down at his own. His were rough from all the work he had done since school had let out for the summer, complete opposites of Jed's. But, there was something different about Jed Bartlet, he knew, so he shook his hand. "Nice to meet ya," Leo said.
"You, too. You sure you've eaten?" asked Jed. "There's some room at my table," he said, nodding towards one of the tables he had spent time cleaning last night.
Leo shook his head. "Maybe lunch sometime."
"That'd be great," smiled Jed.
"Yeah. I, uh, I gotta go find Mr. Lange," Leo said.
"I'll hold you to that lunch," Jed said.
"You do that," Leo said before vacantly walking off.
Jed joined his friends at the breakfast table, getting strange looks from some of them. "What?" he asked.
"What are you doing talking to *him* for?" asked one of them.
"He could have turned us in last night but didn't."
"So? He's beneath us," said another.
"Do you even know him?" asked Jed.
"No. And I don't want to," said a third.
Jed ate quietly. He didn't see that there were any differences between him and Leo per se. Sure, they came from different backgrounds, but that didn't make Leo any less of a person nor did it make him more of one.
At lunchtime, Leo sat on the grassy ground, his back to a tree, and ate the ham and cheese sandwich he had grabbed from the kitchen. Every time he ate cheese, he'd think of Andrew Jackson and, in his mind, he'd say his presidential presentation that he had given back during the past school year. Staring up at the blue sky, he wondered what he'd be doing when he was older. He didn't want to be like his father. He wanted to get married, settle down, be completely faithful to his wife, never touch alcohol or own a shotgun. He wanted to be somebody, though. He wanted to do something important. Not being his father would be a grand accomplishment and it would be important, at least to him and possibly his mother, but he wanted to do something beyond that. Unfortunately, he didn't know *what* he could do.
Jed started into the dining room, having gotten a bit of a late start to lunch from swimming. He saw Leo sitting by himself several feet from the dining hall and entered. Grabbing a sandwich and a drink as well as an apple, he headed back outside and dropped down on the ground on the tree next to the one Leo was sitting against. "Hi."
Leo glanced at him.
"You promised lunch."
"Didn't exactly promise it."
"You want me to go back inside?"
"You wanna sit, sit," Leo said.
"So, where are you from, Leo?" Jed asked, taking a bite of his sandwich.
"Born in Chicago," he said. "Moved ta Boston a couple years ago."
"What's Chicago like?"
"I don't remember very much of it."
There was a long moment of uneasy silence. The two boys ate quietly before Leo spoke up finally.
"You from New Hampshire?"
"Yeah," he said, smiling.
"That's up north pretty far, isn't it?"
"A pretty good piece, yeah," said Jed.
"You like it up there?"
"It's okay," he said with a nod. "Boston's a nice place."
"You seen the city?"
"Well, no, not exactly."
"What kinda name is Jed anyway?" asked Leo.
"Well, it's short for Josiah."
"Short fer what?"
"Leo is short for... Leonard?"
"Leopold," Leo said in detest.
"You don't like your name?"
"I go by Leo. You go by Jed."
"Good point," Jed said, smiling a little. "You have any brothers or sisters or anything?"
"Two sisters," Leo said with a nod.
Leo took a bite of his sandwich, contemplating how much he wanted this kid from New Hampshire to know about him. "Both younger," he said. Anticipating the next question, he added, "Josie is eleven, Elizabeth is nine."
"Jonny is thirteen. I'm fifteen, almost sixteen."
Jed grinned. "What do your parents do?" he asked, taking a sip of his drink.
Leo became suddenly hesitant. He didn't really want to get into the sordid tale of his parents. He decided he'd be as vague as possible. "My ma works at a restaurant." It was more of a diner, and a cheap one, but his rich friend really didn't need to know that.
"And your dad?" he asked.
"He's dead," Leo said flatly before finishing off his sandwich.
Leo almost said, "I'm not," but decided against it at the last minute. "Thanks. What do your parents do? Doctors a somethin'?" asked Leo.
"My dad is the headmaster at an..." Jed drifted off. "At a school."
"One a those Ivy League things?" asked Leo.
"Yeah," Jed said slowly. "Prep school."
"They offer scholarships?" Leo asked, only half-kidding.
"Yeah, actually," said Jed. "If you have high enough grades in high school..."
"Hm," Leo said.
"When I get back home, I could mail you some information if you wanted."
"I'd never make it, but t'anks, Jed."
"What kind of grades do you have? If you don't mind my asking. You don't have to answer if you don't want to..."
"They're good. Not straight A's... Not straight failures eitha."
"Well, think about it and if you want, let me know before I leave, okay?"
Leo nodded. "Yeah, okay."
"So what do you do for fun?" asked Jed, eating his sandwich.
"I used to read comic books all the time."
"You don't anymore?"
"Nah. Not since Mrs. Shepard's history class last year."
"She took all of them away from you?" he asked with a small smile.
"No. She gave me somethin' else to think about."
"What was that?" asked Jed.
"What about them?"
"Well, one in particular: Andrew Jackson."
"You're now an expert on him?"
Leo laughed a little. "Nowheah close."
"What can you tell me about him?"
"Well, in the main hall of the White House, he had a two-ton block of cheese..."