RATING: R for language
SYNOPSIS: Leo and Sarah get away for a _long_ weekend.
ARCHIVE: Sure! Just let me know where. HTML version available, email me.
DISCLAIMER: I'm just a stowaway on the USS Sorkin. Please don't toss me overboard...
"Yes, sir, Mr. President," Leo McGarry said. "For anything short of total disaster, Josh is your guy until Tuesday morning, but I'll have my cell and my pager in case."
"You think Josh is up to this?" Bartlet asked. "It's only been what, seven months... ?"
"If he's not up to it now, he never will be. And I'll only be what, 2300 miles away!" He grinned mischievously. "After all, I could be taking her to Hawaii."
"And I thank you for that, Leo." He came out from behind the big mahogany desk to hug his friend. "Have a safe trip. And Happy New Year."
"The same to you, sir." The Chief of Staff picked up his briefcase, turned and left the Oval Office. Crossing the lobby, he found Josh in the bullpen. "Josh? You may be hearing from Markham's people about 939. I emailed you the figures we talked about yesterday, and Margaret should be sending you the draft of the FOIA revisions. I should be wheels-down in Tucson by 0300."
"Did you leave us your flight numbers?" the younger man asked.
"What flight numbers?" Leo responded. "I'm taking the stick myself this trip. My flight plan is already on file, I've got my weather reports, everything looks fine."
Josh's brow furrowed. "You sure you're not too tired to go straight through? Why don't you stop on the way?"
"Sure, Josh. I'll just tell Sarah we're spending a romantic evening in Memphis. We could go to Graceland!"
"Leo, come on. You're not 21 any more."
"Good thing, too; I was a jackass at 21."
"Leo!!" He looked with concern at his mentor. "You know what I mean. Have a safe trip."
"We will." McGarry sauntered out of the lobby, a little lightness already in his step.
* * * * *
"So where are we going already?" Sarah demanded.
"We're headed for the sunny southwest, to my place in Tucson."
"I didn't know you _had_ a place in Tucson!"
"Well, I spent a rough few weeks down here a few years back, and the desert helped clear my head. I guess I fell in love with the place. I try to get down here once or twice every winter."
A look of alarm crossed her face. "I hope you have the tickets, you didn't give them to me."
"What tickets? I'm driving."
"You're driving? We're _driving_? We won't get there until next week! You said we had to catch a plane..."
"We do." His eyes twinkled. "Just be patient."
"Mr. McGarry?" the driver said. "We're here." She helped Sarah transfer from the passenger seat onto her wheelchair and got the bags out, then smiled at the two and said, "Have a good trip. I'll see you Monday night."
"You too, Catherine," Sarah said. "Happy New Year."
The two travelers turned to see an officious thirty-something man rush out to greet them.
"Mr. McGarry, we're so happy to see you again. You're all ready to go."
"Did you get the thing I asked you to find?" Leo asked.
"The lift? Yes sir."
"A lift?" Sarah asked.
"You didn't think _I_ was going to load you off and on the plane, did you?" Leo smirked.
Sarah laughed. "And why not? It wouldn't be the first time you'd thrown me over your shoulder like Alley Oop..."
After Sarah got safely strapped into place in the four-seater, Leo climbed in beside her and started his final flight checks. Half an hour later, they were airborne and headed west-southwest.
"What time will we get in?" Sarah asked, settling back in her seat for the ride.
"Barring a strong headwind, we should be there well before morning."
"You're flying all night?" she squeaked, sitting up straight again.
"Yeah, what's your point?" he asked.
"If I'd known, I would have asked Abbey for a couple of amps of a hundred milligrams of caffeine, IV!"
"Pusher," he shot back, grinning.
She shrugged and threw up her hands in resignation.
"Besides, dinner's in that cooler behind my seat, and there are two thermoses of coffee down here." He pointed under the front edge of his seat.
Sarah shook her head then leaned back in her seat and laughed. "I haven't done anything this crazy since a couple of friends and I went to Altamont at the spur of the moment back in... what was it, '69?"
"Yeah, you remember, the free concert at that speedway outside San Francisco? The one where some kid got knifed because the Stones had hired Hell's Angels to provide security?"
"I must have been in flight school then." He fell into a silent reverie for a moment, then shook his head. "Jenny and I had just gotten married... isn't it funny. If we had met back then we probably would have hated each other."
"I don't think so," she responded. "I fought against the war, not the warriors." After staring out the windows for a minute, she put her hand over on Leo's. "And I was a wild child then - who knows, I may have seduced you anyway!"
He grinned. "You were in college?"
"Yep, the University of Spoiled Children, majoring in dissent. Well, actually, in International Relations. Started out in student politics, wound up in the Student Mobilization office working nights." She laughed. "We knew we were being bugged, so whenever the phone rang we'd answer it, 'Student Mobilization Against the War, fuck Hoover!'"
He joined her in the laughter, and they flew on into the night, playing word games and sharing stories until he was beginning his landing routine...
... . and then all hell broke loose. Leo went through his entire eloquent vocabulary of military vulgarity in ten seconds, trying to keep control of the plane. The last thing he did before they hit the ground was to look over at Sarah, frozen, eyes wide as saucers.