Events take place during the last two years of the first term of the Bartlet Administration.
HEART OF THE CAMPAIGN - (6/8)
Katrina had been sound asleep. It took her a second to remember where she was. Iowa Caucuses were Tuesday this is Washington DC, Thursday. She thought she heard a noise and then a light come on downstairs. Poised to hit the alarm button, she looked over at the clock, 12:30...Friday.
"Leo?" She didn't think he was coming over tonight, but maybe he had changed his mind.
"Yeah." He was coming up the stairs.
"Did you tell me you were coming over?" Still trying to wake up, "I would have waited up."
He looked totally exhausted. His eyes had dark circles under them, and his brow was deeply furrowed. She wondered if he was able to take the steps necessary to get to the bed.
"I'm so tired, I kept falling asleep at my desk." He tried to smile. "And I sleep better here than anywhere else."
"Well at the Hotel Rogers, we aim to please!" She got out of bed and began to help him change into the sweats he kept there for sleeping in. When they got back into the bed, she wrapped her arms around him, but he was already asleep.
Katrina was awakened again, by the heat of the body next to her. She reached to touch Leo's face, he seemed to be on fire. "Leo, honey?" She wanted to see if he was awake, but he didn't respond. The flu had been going around the city, and it looked like he was its latest victim. Katrina wondered about calling Abbey, but decided she could nurse him through this until morning. She got a wet cloth from the bathroom and wiped at his face.
Leo opened his eyes, but he looked miserable. "Can you get me another blanket?" Now he had the chills. She tried to lay close so the heat of her body would warm him. Later he kicked off the covers as the fever broke and the sweat poured off of him. She got the cloth and wiped his face again. This was going to be a very long night.
The clock said 6:00 when she heard the noises. It had been a long time since retching in the bathroom was the first sound she heard in the morning. When Leo came back in the room, his face was as white as the bed sheets.
"I have a staff meeting in an hour." He sat down on the side of the bed, trying to will life back into his aching body.
"I don't think you're going to make it. Let me call Margaret, and she'll notify everyone you won't be in the office today."
"No, just give me a minute. I'll just get dressed..."
"It's probably some federal offense to barf on the President's shoes." She knew he was in no condition to go into the office.
"I'll be okay." He growled at her.
"How about I fix you some sausage and eggs for breakfast."
His eyes grew wider as he jumped up off the bed in the direction of the bathroom.
"Like I said, I'll call Margaret." She'd won that round, but knew she would have stay here to keep an eye on him.
She'd try Margaret at home first. "Margaret? Hi, Katrina Rogers. Sorry to call you so early, but Leo was at my house last night when he got sick...Oh, he looked a little pale yesterday?...Probably what's going around...I put him in one of my guest rooms...Well I don't think he's any better this morning...If you would change any meetings...I'll have him call you when you get to the office with any other instructions...No, I didn't have anything scheduled today, so I'll hang out here in case he needs anything...Thanks, Margaret. We'll talk later."
Margaret walked into Leo's office to check his outbox. She was surprised to find his briefcase sitting in its usual place. Strange he would go to a meeting with Katrina and forget this here. A small smile came to Margaret's lips. There were many things about Leo's meetings with Katrina that were strange, but then again, maybe it was all beginning to make sense.
About 9:00 Leo called Margaret and asked her to come over to Katrina's with some files he needed. She walked around the West Wing checking with the staff in case they needed anything passed on to Leo. When she arrived an hour later, Margaret had Toby, Josh and Sam with her. "I'm sorry Katrina, but they all thought they needed to come with me to talk with Leo."
Katrina gave them a stern look. "He's sick and needs his rest. He's also probably contagious so don't spend too long with him. I'm not running a health clinic here."
She led them up the stairs to the guest room where she had moved Leo. They knew their secret would be out before these people returned to the White House, if they found him in her bed.
"Now don't forget, just a few minutes then you have to go. There's coffee in the kitchen." She took Margaret aside. "I have to run a few errands, pick up some things, would you stay here until I get back? I should only be gone an hour, but I'm afraid of what mischief he would get into if left alone."
Margaret could see the concern in Katrina's eyes and agreed to stay until she returned.
After her morning briefing, CJ joined the rest of the Senior Staff at Katrina's.
It didn't take long for CJ to notice that the meeting was wearing Leo out.
"I think it's time we all leave and let Leo get some rest." She started to shoo them on their way. After hearing some of the instructions Leo had given to Margaret, CJ offered to stay until Katrina got home.
"It won't be a problem, Margaret. I need to talk to Kat anyway."
As she waited, CJ finally remembered the conversation from many years ago, when Katrina had admitted to her the crush she had always had on Leo. It was obvious it wasn't just a crush any more.
CJ heard Katrina come in the door, walk up the stairs, and go into the room with Leo. CJ walked out of Kat's office across the hall and watched her with the sleeping Chief of Staff. She took off his glasses and stroked his face. CJ could see the love in Kat's eyes for Leo. She made him comfortable, careful not to wake him, then leaned down and kissed his forehead.
"My Mother used to do that to check for a fever."
CJ's voice startled her, "CJ, did you relieve Margaret?"
Katrina led CJ down the stairs and into the kitchen for some fresh coffee.
"I had to stay behind for the briefing, and wanted to talk to him after it was over. So, how long has this been going on?"
"You're not going to buy the 'He got sick here' story?"
"He was the last person I talked to before I left last night. That was around 10:00. I thought he looked a little pale, and more tired then usual. I told him to go home and get some rest. I guess he did." With a wicked grin she added, "Does he always sleep in there?"
Katrina smiled at her friend. "That's a 'Don't ask, Don't tell' thing."
"May I ask how long its been going on?"
"I should have seen it. The way you always have the first and last dance at all those official dinners and fund raisers. How you always linger behind the group so you can be alone with him...how there's a smile on his face more often. Especially in the mornings. Kat don't you think there's a problem, you being Campaign Chairman and Leo being the COS?"
"Why do you think we've kept it quiet?"
"Well my first response would be your older brother. But you know this will look like you're Leo's puppet, like he's running the campaign instead of doing the job the taxpayers are paying him to do." She said very sadly, "I know Leo doesn't like the appearances of conflict."
"Like you and Danny?"
"I'm sorry, Kat, but I don't see the difference between you and Leo being together, and Danny and me."
"Nothing CJ. But then I have nothing to lose. I know I could resign my job because I didn't work as hard to get it as you have. More importantly, I don't have to keep things from Leo. You can't go home and tell Danny anything about this conversation. You even mention to Danny that Leo has the flu and he has a headline."
CJ's face fell. "Do you think I care for him any less then you do Leo?"
"No, CJ, I don't. Everyone's relationship is different, you have to set your own rules. The rules change for Leo and me outside this house. How many times are we together? I can't hold his hand, touch him. I can't even look at him without worrying someone might read too much into it. Do I wish the same thing for you CJ?" The corners of her mouth turned up. "Yeah, because the times in private are worth it. But, I only have to carry on this charade until November. You will have five more years."
"Thanks for the warning. And for the encouragement. One thing you haven't mentioned yet was the President's reaction."
"Well, he doesn't know yet."
"Do you plan on telling him soon?"
"Maybe after I get him re-elected."
He had never spent this much time alone with her before, and, he thought with a smile, they were still speaking to each other. Tomorrow he would have to go back to his apartment, but today he was just going to enjoy this time with her. Katrina sat in the big overstuffed chair reading a position paper Toby had written, making notes in the margins. The top buttons of the old flannel shirt she wore were opened, offering him a glimpse of the curve of her breast. Laying on it was the diamond heart pendant he had given her for Christmas. Leo knew he was feeling much better, because if it weren't for the risk of exposing her to this flu, he would have spent the rest of the day making love to her.
Next year. It seemed like those two words had become his mantra. Next year she would wake up with him Christmas morning. Next year at midnight his would be the first kiss she received as the New Year arrived. Next year they would spend many mornings like this. He smiled and went back to the NSC report he was working on.
The ringing doorbell interrupted the quiet house.
"Mallory, come on in." Katrina was surprised when she opened the door to see Leo's daughter standing there.
"I heard my Father was here, sick." Mallory was a little embarrassed having just dropped in without an invitation.
"He's much better today, and I'm sure he'd love seeing you."
"Mal?" She heard him call out from another room.
"Hi Dad." She gave him a hug. It was odd seeing him lying here on the couch covered with an afghan and still looking a bit pale.
"I'm okay. I could be at the White House working, but Nurse Cratchet here won't let me."
"You've got everything you need here, all this stuff to read, paper, pens. And now a beautiful visitor. McGarry you've got it all! Stay for lunch Mallory?"
Mallory had been watching the playful banter between the two. She couldn't remember her parents ever being like this. "Can I help?"
"No stay and keep an eye on him, otherwise he makes crank phone calls to the RNC."
She watched her father's eyes follow Katrina as she left the room. "Sam told me you dropped by here and suddenly got sick"
"That's my story and I'm sticking to it!"
"Are you living here?"
"No, I was just feeling under the weather and stayed here. Actually I've never stayed this many nights in a row. I'll go home tomorrow, back to work Monday. You didn't mention anything to Sam about Katrina and me?
"No, even though I'm sure Sam would see some irony in how your Boss doesn't get to punish you like you do Sam." She lowered her voice. "You could have come to me, Dad, I would have taken care of you."
He was afraid he'd hurt her feelings again. "And you would have done a wonderful job. I'm counting on your care in my old age, but I'm not ready to have you take care of me like that yet."
"It's been a long time since I've been here." Mallory said looking around and changing the subject. "I suppose it was when you were still Secretary of Labor and the Bartlets were in town. That was a long time ago, a lot has changed." She changed the subject again. "Are you going to marry her?"
"Whoa, let's not get ahead of ourselves, the divorce isn't final yet and Katrina is consumed with the re-election." He could tell she didn't believe him. "Probably, but we've got plenty of time to talk about that."
Their conversation was cut short when they heard the door from the kitchen open and Katrina coming down the hall. "I've got some chicken soup and applesauce for the 'sickie'. There's something for us in the kitchen, he can't take the smell of real food yet."
They talked with Leo about safe subjects, the havoc the snow was wreaking on the city, the upcoming Super Bowl game. When he'd finished eating, Katrina and Mallory went into the kitchen while he rested.
"Is he really ok?" Mallory couldn't remember seeing her father looking so vulnerable.
"Abbey was here yesterday and checked him over. Just a case of the 24 hour flu." Katrina picked at her sandwich, she'd never been alone with Mallory since she found out about the two of them.
Mallory broke the silence with mock sternness. "I have to ask about your intensions. Are they honorable?"
"Yeah, at least most of the time! Do you want to know if I can support him? Well I guess I am going to be unemployed at the end of the year, but I do have a little put aside." The comments had broken the tension between them.
"If you love him like you say, why don't you tell everyone?" The question had been on Mallory's mind for a long time. "I couldn't keep my feelings for Sam locked away like you seem to."
"I'm the selfish one Mallory. I've become so involved in this campaign and I'm terrified if they find out about Leo, I won't be taken seriously. I've always been in someone else's shadow. When I was in school I was always Jed Bartlet's sister. Then I was John Roger's wife. I'm sure you understand. You probably took some flack for being Leo McGarry's daughter."
"While I was away from Washington, I found out a lot about myself. I have some really great ideas and I know how to get them implemented. I'm not going to pass my ideas on to others anymore and let them take credit. I know I have your Father's respect and that means the world to me, but I don't have the President's. Until I can get that on my own, I'm afraid this relationship will have to stay behind these doors. Leo understands, I hope you will too."
Katrina's honesty was winning Mallory's respect. "Well, I'm sure my father's told you all about me. Where is the campaign going to stand on school vouchers and education? If you're open to some more opinions I'd like give you mine."
Leo was resting on the couch and he stirred when he heard a noise; laughter coming from the kitchen. He smiled and went back to sleep.