Chapter 5- Something's Got to Give
Spoilers: specific for Bartlet for America
Leo sat across the table from his 650 dollar an hour lawyer drumming his fingers absently on the polished wood. She finished her phone call and slid into the seat across from him. "It's going to be tomorrow morning, you'll be questioned by the majority and minority counsel."
He nodded. "Ok. I'll be there."
"Are you ready for this?"
"Leo." There was a hint of annoyance in her tone.
He took a deep breath and began again. "Yes Jordan I am ready for this." Leo glanced at his watch. "Now if there's nothing else it's getting late and I'd like to see my kids before they go to bed."
She relented. "Go, I'll see you tomorrow." Leo got to his feet. "Do you have pictures?"
He smiled brightly pulling out his wallet to show her. "Of course."
"They are so cute, how old are they?"
"Seven months." He stated proudly.
Jordan handed the pictures back. "Go home, I'll see you in the morning."
"Goodnight." He put on his coat and walked quickly out of her office.
Sometime before dawn Margaret woke up alone. When she didn't see the bathroom light on she knew immediately where she would find him. She stopped in the doorway of the nursery. "Can't sleep?"
Leo looked up when he heard her whisper. "I didn't mean to wake you." He glanced around the room. "You're right, I couldn't sleep. I just wandered in here." He stepped away from the crib and out into the hall with her.
She reached behind him and pulled the door closed. "Everything's going to be fine, you know that, right?"
He traced the side of her face with his fingers. "There's something that might come up if Gibson gets a chance to question me tomorrow.... something from the campaign."
Margaret took his hand in hers. "I know."
He looked at her, completely unsurprised. She probably knew more about him than he knew about himself. "I was drunk." He turned his face away from her.
"I know." She pulled his hand toward her body. "Come back to bed."
Leo silently followed her and as she pulled him onto the bed with her he looked into her eyes. He didn't see disappointment or anger; instead he just saw the same love he'd always seen there. "I love you."
"I know and I love you too." She laid her head against his chest. "Get some sleep, tomorrow's going to be a long day."
He pulled her closer and they were both asleep within minutes.
"You really dodged a bullet."
Leo looked up, startled at the President voice. "For now." He walked around to the back of his desk and picked up a stack of folders.
"I thought you were going home." Jed watched him carefully.
Leo shoved the folders into his briefcase. "Now I'm going home. Can't let the office go to hell now, can I?"
"The office will be fine." Jed produced a small square object with a red bow on it. "Merry Christmas."
He pulled off the bow and looked down at the framed napkin. Leo looked up at his best friend as tears stung his eyes.
"That was awfully nice." Without another word he turned and walked out of the office, leaving Leo alone.
After a long moment Leo got to his feet, he needed to clear his head before he went home. He stepped out onto the porch outside the Oval Office. He took a deep breath, the air smelled acrid and he could see smoke out of the corner of his eye. "Does Abbey know you're out here?" He teased and turned around, expecting the President.
"I don't particularly care." Cassie looked up from the bench.
He moved closer to her. "Sorry, I was expecting your father."
Her fingers brushed over the object in his hand. "Christmas present?"
"Yeah, he just gave it to me."
She took a long drag off her cigarette. "That was nice.... How are you doing?"
"I'm fine.... You?"
She laughed dryly. "I've been better."
"Sorry, that was a stupid question." Leo squeezed her shoulder. She looked like hell, she'd lost weight and he was almost certain she had quit smoking years ago. When she looked up at him he was alarmed by the dark circles under her eyes.
Cassie stood up and put out her cigarette. "You should go home."
"I am." He pulled her into his arms. "Merry Christmas."
She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "Merry Christmas."
Still worried about her, he headed home.
Cassie walked toward the White House Christmas tree and found Mrs. Landingham standing next to the tree. She approached the older woman.
"Mrs. Landingham, can I ask you a question?"
She turned away from the Christmas tree and looked at Cassie. "Of course dear."
"When did your boys die?"
"Christmas Eve 1970." An almost imperceptibly sad look crossed her face.
"How do you do it year after year? How do you move on with your life? It's been over two years and I still feel like the water's ten feet over my head. I don't know how to make it stop."
"You never get over it."
"I'm not trying to get over it. I just don't want to spend the rest of my life living in the past, thinking about what should have been. Half the time it exhausts me just to get up in the morning, I can't go on like this."
"You need to talk about this more." She took a step toward Cassie and squeezed her hand. "How long have you been keeping this inside?"
"Too long." She brushed the tears away from her eyes. "Richard's way of dealing with his grief was to drink it away and not talk about it. We never had any sort of closure."
It was over. The president had accepted the censure over Leo's objections. He knew it was the right thing to do. Leo was preparing to leave, but his nagging worry made him stop by the Oval Office.
"Sir. Can I have a minute?"
"I did the right thing today Leo." He stated firmly.
Leo simply nodded. "I know." He sat down. "That's not why I'm here." He paused, not sure how to continue. "It's about Cassie."
"She doesn't look any better, does she?" Jed was clearly worried.
"No she doesn't." Leo hesitated before continuing. "And neither does he."
"I know." He admitted quietly. "But I'm not about to get involved, nothing good ever comes out of me meddling in her life."
"Well I'm not going to get involved either." A thoughtful look crossed his face. "But I know someone who won't hesitate to interfere."
Jed looked up hopefully. "Who." Leo raised his eyebrows. "Margaret?"
"Speaking of Margaret, have you two set a date yet?"
Leo smiled happily. "We're going to try to get a wedding together in about three months."
"Good. It's about damn time."
"Cassie." Toby stood next to her desk holding a stack of folders. "I need you to give these to Sam, tonight."
She looked at him strangely. "Why can't you do it? His office is right next to yours."
"He left, he's on his boat right now. And I have to leave for the airport in a few minutes; I'm going to my brother's for the weekend. So you need to take these to him."
"Why can't you have a messenger do it?" She placed her hands on her hips.
"You and I worked on this stuff, we're the only ones who can explain it to him." He gave her a desperate stare. "Please, I'm only asking you to have a five minute conversation with him. You're both grown ups, I think you can handle it."
She stared at him for a long moment before throwing her hands in the air. "Fine." She grabbed the folders. "Have a good weekend."
"Thanks." He hurried out of the office.
Still annoyed Cassie left the almost deserted office. Most of the staff was planning on making the most of their first free weekend in what seemed like forever. After a quick conversation with her Secret Service detail she headed to the dock where Sam kept his boat.
Sam was busy unpacking some of the snacks he had bought on his way home from the office when he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. He didn't bother to look up. "Hey Toby, we should get going if you want to see the sun set over the ocean."
"It's Cassie." He turned around and looked at her strangely. "Why would Toby be here, he went to his brother's for the weekend?"
"He told me he wanted to go sailing tonight, he'd never been before."
Realization dawned on her. "Son of a bitch." She opened her briefcase and pulled out the files Toby had given her. "Toby insisted that I had to give these to you tonight."
Sam took the files from her and looked through them. "He gave me these before I left, we went over them." The same realization dawned on him. "He set us up." A folded piece of paper fell out of the top folder. Sam picked it up. "Oh, great he left a note."
She took the note from him. "Sam and Cassie, sorry about the lies, but you two need to work it out and you're both too damn stubborn for your own good. Enjoy your weekend off. Toby."
Sam tossed the files onto the floor. "Monday morning, I'm kicking Toby's ass."
Cassie laughed half-heartedly. "Good. I'm gonna go, enjoy you're sailing trip and try not to fall off the boat this time."
Sam was on the verge of saying goodbye and spending a weekend alone on the water, but something held him back. His eyes caught a glint of silver from her left wrist, the charm bracelet he had given her for their anniversary, she still wore it. "Come watch the sunset with me." He blurted out without thinking, without considering the consequences of those simple words. He wanted to tell her he loved her, that he was sorry, but he was slowly losing the power of speech. With that simple invitation he knew he was opening the floodgates. Maybe they were a train wreck together, but they were far worse apart. "I think we should talk."
"Sure." She knew that nothing was simple where they were concerned. With that single word she was returning to the man she loved. Cassie tried to tell herself they were all wrong together, but it didn't matter, they were joined together by some unbreakable bond.
"Let's go on deck." He held his hand out to her. She interlaced her fingers with his and followed him above.
"This is so beautiful." Cassie sat down next to Sam as the sun began to disappear below the horizon.
He hesitantly wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her to him. "I'm sorry."
"So am I." She laid her head against his chest. "I should have been honest with you. I just didn't want to hurt you any more than I already had."
Sam kissed the top of her head. "It doesn't matter anymore."
Her voice broke. "All I ever wanted was to have a family."
She sat up and pulled away from him. "Maybe you were right. You are better off without me. I don't want you giving anything up to be with me."
"What would I be giving up?" Sam gave her a confused look.
"Having children." She turned her face away from him. "You would be such a great father you should just go find someone...."
He pulled her back to him, cutting her off. "I don't want to go find anyone else!" Sam tightened his hold on her. "You are the only one I want. I'm a grown man and capable of making my own decisions, you are the only person I want to spend the rest of my life with."
"I love you." Cassie stretched up to kiss him.
He broke off the kiss to come up for air. "I love you too."
After it was dark they went below deck. "Cass, you hungry? I got lots of junk food."
She moved slowly toward him. "Later." Her fingers opened the buttons on his shirt, pushing it off his shoulders. His hands hurriedly worked her clothing off her body, leaving her naked except for a bra and panties.
Sam slid his hands to her waist and paused to study the skin of her stomach. "You got a tattoo?" He looked at her oddly as he traced the three small butterflies with his finger.
"Yeah. Mallory and I had a girls night out a couple weeks ago, it seemed like a good idea at the time." She sent his pants crashing to the floor.
He kicked them off to the side. "Did she get one too?"
"Yep. A lily on her back. Leo was not terribly thrilled when she showed it to him."
"I'll bet.... I thought you didn't like each other."
"We fought a lot when we were kids, but we're fine now."
"Oh." Sam unfastened her bra and slowly pulled it off her body. "You are so beautiful." He trailed his lips down her neck and over her breasts.
Cassie pushed his head away just long enough to remove their remaining clothing. Naked, they made their way to the bed. Sam laid her down on top of the blankets as he pushed inside her. She rolled them over and looked down into his eyes, her long hair forming a tent around them as she moved, trapping them in their own world. He grabbed her hips as she screamed his name, pushing into her hard and following her over the edge.
Later, she lay on her back with Sam's head resting on her stomach, his fingers still examining the tattoo. "You're really fascinated by that, aren't you?" She laughed softly and ran her fingers through his hair.
"Yes." He stopped the motion of his hand. "You never struck me as the type."
"It's just three little butterflies."
He kissed his way up her belly. "I like it."
Cassie pulled his mouth to hers. "Really?"
"Yes." He slipped his fingers between her legs. "Very sexy."
"Glad you like it." She muttered between kisses. "Are you still going to beat up Toby?"
Sam moved his hand away. "No."
"Good." She wrapped her legs around his waist as he slid inside her. They were together once again, as though they had never been separated by distance or time or their own stubbornness. They were joined together physically, emotionally, spiritually, and that was all that mattered.
Cassie rolled out of bed late the next morning. "Do you have anything I can wear? I didn't exactly get a chance to pack for this trip."
"Look in my bag, I'm sure I have a T-shirt or something." He lifted his head off the pillow to look at her.
She began to dig through his bag when something caught her eye. "Did you have this in your office on Friday?"
"Yeah." He looked at her oddly. "Why?"
Cassie pulled a blue sundress out of his bag. "This is my dress." She pulled out a note and read it aloud. "Cassie, don't get mad at me, I just want you to be happy. Have a great trip and remember I was only trying to help. Love, Margaret."
Sam sat up in bed. "So Toby had an accomplice."
"I'm sure it was her idea. This is what I get for all the time I've been spending helping to organize her wedding." She laughed softly. "Boy is she getting one hell of a wedding shower."
"I'm afraid to ask."
She crawled back into bed. "It's probably better that you don't."
End Chapter Five...
Things Fall Apart - 6
Home What's New Author Listings Title Listings