"Bittersweet Decision"
by Nikki

Hi guys! After reading everyone else's great stories, I decided to write one
of my own. This idea just popped into my head. Please, please send me
feedback, because I want to know if I'm any good at this.

Disclaimers: The characters are the property of Aaron Sorkin and company. No
copyright infringment is intended, this is just for fun.


Josh Lyman sat in his office chair, staring intently at a piece of paper,
when he heard a knock at the door.
"Josh?" Mandy Hampton asked tentatively.
"Yeah?" responded Josh absentmindedly, still concentrating on the message
he held in his hand.
"I need to talk to you for a second before the senior staff meeting." She
paused, waiting for some sign of acknowledgement. When there was none, she
continued, "Can I come in?"
"Yeah, sure. I was just trying to figure out this message that Donna
gave me. Have a seat."
Making herself comfortable, Mandy started, "Listen, Josh. I wanted - "
"You don't happen to know what letter this is, do you?" Josh asked, still
puzzling over Donna's handwriting.
"I think it's an 'L'," she replied after studying the message for a
moment. "Look, I need to - "
"An 'L'?" Really?"
"Yeah. Josh, I'm going -"
"Hang on a sec. Donna!" Josh yelled after cutting Mandy off. As Donna
appeared in Josh's doorway, Mandy slumped lower in her chair, frustrated.
"Yes, Josh? Hi, Mandy."
Mandy raised her hand in greeting without turning around.
"Donna, what does this say?" Josh demanded, waving the message paper in
Donna's face.
"It says that your meeting with Senator Alton was moved from 2 o'clock to
three o'clock," Donna calmly explained, then left as Josh shouted to her
retreating back,
"Okay, tell me how you get that from this, because I'm having trouble -"
"Josh!" Mandy was getting fed up. "I came in here to talk to you about
something."
"You're right, I'm sorry. Go ahead."
Mandy took a deep breath and tried again. "Josh, I wanted to tell you -"
She was interrupted yet again by a knock at the door.
"Josh, Mandy, Leo's waiting for us in his office," Sam Seaborn announced
from the doorway.
"On our way," replied Josh, standing up and crossing over to Sam.
"Mandy? You coming?"
Mandy sighed before standing up and straightening her skirt. "Yeah.
Yeah, I'm coming."

In the Oval Office, Josh, Sam, Mandy, Toby Ziegler, and C.J. Cregg waited
patiently with Leo McGarry and President Bartlett while Leo to ran through
the events of the day. When he was finished, Mandy cleared her throat.
"Um, guys? There's something I need to tell you," she began hesitantly.
"It's not another memo, is it?" asked C.J., instantly worried.
"No, no, it's nothing like that," Mandy reassured her. "It's just -"
"Oh, God, please don't tell me it's another Mendoza thing," Sam pleaded.
"It's not. Listen, I -"
"Mandy, this had better not be about the hats that second graders will be
wearing when they meet the President, because I honestly don't think I can
handle that!" warned Toby.
"Will you guys just listen to me?" Mandy exploded. "I wanted to tell you
guys that I've decided to go back to my old job at Lennox/Chase!"
The room was deadly silent for a moment, then everyone started talking at
once.
"What are you talking about?"
"You can't do that!"
"Are you crazy?"
"What about the President?"
Finally, Leo held up a hand to silence everyone. He spoke quietly.
"Mandy, are you sure about this?"
Mandy nodded, blinking back tears. "I-I think so. I just, well, this
isn't right for me." One look at her coworkers' faces showed that they still
didn't understand. She took a deep breath. "There were so many things I
wanted to do in New York, so many ideas I wanted to try. I shouldn't have
come back, but Lloyd Russell talked me into it. I dragged Daisy along with
me; she's never forgiven me for it," Mandy explained. "I have to go back."
"Is it the money?" Josh asked bluntly. "I know we can't exactly match
$900,000 a year, but come on, you're working for the leader of the free
world!"
"It's not the money, Josh. And it's not you guys, at least not directly.
I just...don't really feel like I belong here. I'm tired of being on the
outside looking in. You guys don't trust me to work on real issues, just
second graders putting on skits for the President," she added with a wry
smile at Toby. "I can't stay here any more. I'm - " - her voice caught in
her throat - "I'm sorry."
The room fell silent as the senior staff thought about what Mandy was
saying. They all felt guilty for excluding Mandy, knowing that what she said
was true. Sure, Mandy had put her two cents in a couple of times, but not to
the extent that she should have. President Bartlett was the first one to
speak.
"How much notice are you giving us?" he asked calmly.
Josh's jaw dropped open at the President's acquiescence, and he saw his
expression mirrored on the faces of his friends. They had all expected
President Bartlett or Leo to put up a fight, to convince her that she was
both needed and wanted, even though it might not have been entirely true.
"I was thinking about a month's notice. Is that reasonable?" Mandy was
saying. "I know that usually people give two weeks' notice, but this is no
usual job."
"A month is reasonable. We can find someone in a month," Leo agreed.
For a moment no one said a word. The senior staff was stunned into silence,
until Leo clapped his hands and said, "Okay, that's all. Have a good day."
Mandy was the first one to leave, desperate to escape the uncomfortable
silence and the hurt looks on her colleagues' faces. After she was gone,
C.J. muttered, "Wow."
"Leo, you're just going to let her leave? Just like that, no arguments,
no fights?" Josh said angrily, jumping to his feet, his tone almost
accusatory.
"Josh, we can't make her stay if she doesn't want to," Leo pointed out.
"Besides," he continued, "you didn't even want her here in the first place."
"I was just saying that because she used to be my girlfriend. I never
had any problem with her as a consultant," Josh tried to explain. "Can't you
try to convince her to stay?"
President Bartlett spoke up. "If she wants to go, she's going to go.
Short of having the Secret Service block the doors, there's nothing we can
do." He waited to make sure Josh understood.
"Mr. President -" Josh protested
"Josh. Mandy's not leaving today, and she's not leaving tomorrow.
There's no reason why this has to be foremost in anyone's mind right now.
There are other things to focus on today. Go."
The staff slowly got to their feet. "Thank you, Mr. President," they
mumbled dejectedly as they filed out of the office.

TBC...

 

Bittersweet Decision - 2

 

 

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