Lisa Wilson comments welcome email@example.com
disclaimer: "The West Wing" and its characters are the property of NBC, Aaron Sorkin, and John Wells Productions. No copyright infringement or disrespect is intended nor any profit being made (by me, at least).
summary: Sometimes you need a reminder to stop and smell the roses.
Leo could hear them coming down the hall. *Joey* could have heard them coming down the hall.
"Sam, I know you know what's going on, you just won't tell me!" CJ's voice was a tad strident.
"And I'm telling you, I don't know what you're talking about!" Sam was getting out of sorts. "Hey Leo, have you seen Toby? And, by the way, can you get CJ off my back?"
Leo McGarry took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Yes, Sam, I've seen Toby, he's in the meeting with Senator Larkin and no, I can't get CJ off your back. Does that answer your questions?" Since this was said in a quiet yet stern tone, both senior staffers decided to continue on to their destination, and continue the *discussion* as well.
He turned to watch them go and heaved a huge sigh. "Looks like it's going to be Romper Room Day again.", he said even though there was no one there to hear him. Shaking his head, he went down the hall to his own office. Surprisingly, Margaret, with a strange expression on her face, was standing in front of the door.
"Leo, I need to talk to you... inside, I mean?" Even for Margaret this was bewildering behavior so Leo readily agreed.
"Sure, let's go on in." He ushered her in and them closed the door behind them. "What do you need?"
"Toby's in with Senator Larkin, isn't he? She's still in there talking to him, right?"
He glanced down at his watch and then back up at Margaret. "Yes, they should still be discussing the bill."
"Her office just called, her aide and another one of her staff are on their way over here." Now that she'd started, Margaret wanted to get this over with in a hurry. "Her husband was killed in an accident a little while ago." That last sentence came out in rush.
Leo stared at her for a moment. Then his mind kicked in. "Have you confirmed this?"
"All right then, get me the Chief of Police on the phone. We don't want to do or say anything without confirmation."
He had just put down the phone and started to stand when the President strode into the office.
"Well, Leo, I had a few minutes free so I thought I'd make sure that you didn't!" Jed Bartlet's usual sense of humor was in full force today. "So, what's . . " His voice trailed off as he got a good look at the face of his best friend. "What's wrong, Leo?"
McGarry really hated times like this. "You and Abbey are good friends with Senator Larkin, aren't you?"
"We've known her and Nathan for nearly 10 years. Is there a problem with Kathleen?"
"Toby's meeting with her in the Roosevelt Room and her office just called. There was an accident on the Beltway a little over an hour ago. Her husband was pronounced dead at the scene."
"My lord!" President Bartlet put his hand over his eyes for a moment. "You've confirmed this?"
Leo made a vague gesture at this desk. "Just got off the phone with the DCPD. His brother was following in another car and made the ID at the scene."
The President reached over Leo's desk and picked up his phone. Dialing the number for Abbey's office, he asked her to meet him outside the Roosevelt Room. "I'm going to tell her, Leo."
"Sir, you don't have to do that. Her aide is on her way over and . . ."
He wasn't too surprised when the President interrupted him. "She's a good friend, Leo, and I want to tell her. She's been there for me and Abbey before and now we'll be there for her." His tone of voice made it quite clear that there would be no discussion about his decision.
Abbey was waiting for them when they arrived in the hallway. The distress on her face was painful to see. Leo watched as she reached a hand out to her husband.
"Leo, you go in and call Toby outside. We'll handle the rest."
He knocked once on the door and then opened it. "Hello Senator, and pardon the intrusion but I need to see Toby out here for a minute."
The petite brunette smiled at him, "Hello Mr. McGarry, and you're welcome to him."
Leo gestured to Toby to step out. "We were just about getting somewhere with this, Leo, what's up?" Toby was irritated. His surprise at seeing the President and Dr. Bartlet standing outside the door stopped him cold. He shot an inquiring glance at Leo as they entered the room that he had just vacated. "Leo?"
"Go get CJ, Toby, and meet me in my office in ten minutes. I'll brief both of you then." Hard as it was to believe, Toby headed off down the hall, no questions asked. Thus it was that Leo was the only person outside the door when the sharp wail of anguish rang out.
Moments later, the Senator's aide and a young staff member were conducted down the hallway to him. She inclined her head toward the door, "Is she in there?"
"Yes, and the President and Dr. Bartlet are with her." Leo noted that while she showed no surprise, the young man appeared amazed - and impatient.
"Alice, there are things that we need to be doing." She just looked back at him but Leo said "Whatever it is, it'll keep."
"But . . " he started again only to have the full weight of Leo's stare fall on him.
"It WILL keep" was all he said but it was enough to crush the other man's objections. The door before them opened a several seconds later and the senator walked out flanked by her friends. She turned and gave Abbey one last hug and accepted the President's hand on her shoulder. Then she stepped out into the hall and looked at her aides. Senator Larkin squared her shoulders, raised her chain and then walked slowly away.
Leo glanced back through the doorway to see his longtime friends in a tight, comforting embrace. He reached in and closed the door on them. "Give them a few moments of privacy to grieve" he thought.
Back in his office and with minutes to spare before briefing CJ and Toby, Leo thought back to his earlier assumption about the day. "I was way off base with the Romper Room idea."
He reached out his hand for his phone and dialed an often called number. She wouldn't be there, of course, but he could still leave a message.
"Hi Mallory, it's Dad. I just wanted to let you know . . I love you."
As CJ came through through the door, Leo thought, "No, it's a Count Your Blessings day."