Sonata for Solo Flute

Jane Harper


SYNOPSIS: The second most powerful man in the world can't get a date. 

STORY TYPE: vignette 

DISCLAIMER: All these characters belong to the Evil Genius A. Ron Sorkin and his corporate partners. No money changed hands here, and I only do this 'cuz I love TWW, so don't sue me, OK?


"Abbey, I need to put you on the spot." Leo McGarry sat on the floor in front of the fire in the First Family's New Hampshire home and gazed at the sparkling cider in his glass.

The First Lady of the United States and Leo's friend for more than 30 years was sitting on the sofa in her living room, feet propped up on the coffee table, reading the New England Journal of Medicine. She peered over her glasses at her husband's Chief of Staff and best friend. "I'm sorry, Leo, what did you say? I was reading."

"I need to put you on the spot."

"So what else is new?" She laughed and put the journal down. "What's up?"

"Abbey, it's been nearly a year since Jenny left--" His voice trailed off as he gazed into the dancing flames, remembering the last disastrous anniversary of his marriage. He took a deep breath and turned around to face his best friend's wife. "I think--"

"Oh, Leo, tell me you've found a girl..." Abigail Bartlet's face slowly blossomed into a smile.

"I don't know, maybe," he responded. "But I'm--" he sighed. "Abbey, I don't know how to do this anymore. Hell, Jenny and I were married for thirty-odd years!"

"But it's not like you haven't had offers," she replied.

"Yeah, but then _they_ were chasing _me_!" He laughed at her feigned shock. "And since Jenny left, I haven't had the time or the inclination--"

"Leo ..!??" Her voice rose in disbelief.

"OK, I haven't had the time, anyway. And who do I rub elbows with? Married women and policy wonks!"

"But now there's someone worth _making_ time for?" Abbey got up and went over to sit on the floor next to him.

McGarry nodded. "At least I think so. She's somebody at my meeting, so we already have lots in common. But... God, Abbey, it's been so long, I don't know what to do next!"

"Does she like you?"

"How the hell would I know? She's called me on my stuff a few times, so I guess she cares enough not to let me pull any crap in the meeting... And she's sure not _afraid_ of me."

"That's a plus," she responded with a smirk.

"You know what I mean!"

Abbey nodded. "So what's next?"

"Well, I was thinking of inviting her to your next Sunday evening dinner..."

"Good Lord, Leo, you don't want your first date to be at the White House! Nothing like a little pressure to bring out the best in people!"

"Yeah, I guess you're right. I suppose that means the state dinner is out too .." His eyes twinkled as a faint smile crossed his lips.

"Out where?" The President's voice announced his return from a run to the woodpile outside.

"Oh, Jed, Leo's got a girl!" Abbey announced to her husband.

"I do not!" McGarry started to stand but his old friend waved him back down. "Well, not yet. Maybe not at all." He took a gulp of cider. "Abbey, maybe we should talk about this another time."

"What's the matter, Leo, can't ask an old friend for help getting a date?" Bartlet grinned and joined his wife and best friend in front of the fire.

"Sir, I don't think it's appropriate to use the President of the United States for a matchmaker."

Bartlet had no rejoinder. "So, have I met her?"

"A couple of times, briefly. She's someone from my meeting." Leo reached for the poker and began rearranging the flaming logs.

Abbey smiled at her husband. "Leo's have a little trouble remembering how this dating thing goes."

"I'm not going there," the President responded. "It's not as if I've had any experience myself for... oh, a year or two .."

Leo turned a mischievous eye toward Abbey. "And then it was _me_ getting dates for _him_."

"You promised you wouldn't tell!" Bartlet protested as his wife swatted him on the shoulder.

"Come on, Jed, we've got to help this poor guy out. A year is a long time between... dates." Abbey winked at her husband.

"I don't think he needs our help, Abigail. He just needs to stop thinking like the President's Chief of Staff and start thinking like a man with a mission."

"The President's Chief of Staff isn't a man with a mission?" McGarry asked, feigning shock.

"Different mission," Abbey responded, then turned to Leo and took both his hands in her own. "Seriously... "

Leo turned to face her, his smile fading. "OK, seriously."

"Just ask her to lunch or something. Take her to dinner after a meeting. Get the hell away from the office."

"No Marine guards outside the door," the President added.

"OK," McGarry responded. "Low profile, quiet dinner."

"No beeper." Abbey suggested.

"What, the country is closed so I can go on a date?"

The sound of a snowball hitting the window interrupted them.

"Sounds like Elizabeth and Annie are here..." Abbey announced, getting up from her place on the rug.

"Either that or we're under attack," Bartlet responded. "Let's go see which it is."


The End




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