I don't own the characters and the limo's a rental, too.  I'm sure there's a
pumpkin coach somewhere with my name on it, too...

by Rebecca A. Anderson

December 2000

    "Hi, Sam," Carolyn said, standing with her arms crossed in the doorway of
his office.

    "What do you want?" he asked, not sparing her hardly a glance.

    "I want to know why you don't like me," she replied.

    He stopped what he was doing, and abruptly tugged her into his office,
shutting the door behind him.  "I don't like you because you're spoiled brat
who's taking advantage of the fact she's dying to play with other people's
heads," Sam exploded.  "Not ONE important thing has been worked on the last
few days!"

    "Maybe there's not anything important to work on?" she suggested.

    "It's government, little girl -- there's *always* something important
going on," he said coldly.  "But you're too young to vote, so why should you

    "I'll never be able to vote, Sam," she said, a hint of bitterness
creeping into her voice.  "And I'm not taking advantage or playing head

    "Everyone drops everything to make you happy, even the President.  You
are taking advantage.  And as for playing head games...  Let's not even go
there, okay?" he yelled.

    Toby poked his head in the door.  "Sam, would you mind being quiet? 
There are those of us trying to work around here...  Hi, Lena," he said with
a smile.

    "SEE?" Sam growled.  "Toby hardly *ever* smiles!"

    "I smile," Toby protested.

    "Nevermind, Sam," Carolyn said angrily, brushing past Toby and heading
for Leo's office.  "Hi, Margaret.  Can I see Leo?"

    Margaret's eyes narrowed slightly.  "Sure," she said clippedly.

    "Thanks," Carolyn said, going into Leo's office, wondering what was wrong
withe veryone today.  She had known that Sam disliked her, but Margaret?  Not
Margaret!  "Hi Leo," she said quietly, dropping onto the couch.

    "Hey kid, what's up?" Leo asked, setting aside his paperwork.

    "The ceiling," she muttered sarcastically.

    "Oh, having a good day, eh?" he replied in kind.

    "Sam hates my guts," she sighed.  "He thinks I'm taking advantage of you
guys and playing head games, whatever that means."

    "Sam's an idiot sometimes," Leo muttered, resolved to give Sam a verbal
slapping later for being a jerk to the President's guest.

    "I've gathered that," she muttered wryly.  "I'm not, am I?" she asked,
tears in her eyes.

    "No," Leo said firmly.  "You're not."

    "I... I'm just scared and..." the tears slipped down her cheeks, and Leo
moved to hug her as she cried.

    Mallory came in right then.  "Hi, daddy," she said cheerfully.

    Leo sighed and said, "Mally, baby, I wish you'd knock."

    "Aww... it's not often I get to see you with a younger woman, daddy,"
Mallory said with a quirky grin.

    Carolyn wiped her eyes.  "Are you Mallory?" she asked quietly.


    "Leo's told me a lot about you," Carolyn said with a smile.

    "Is that good?" Mallory wondered alond.

    "Haha," Leo grumbled.  "Mally, this is Carolyn Smith.  She's visiting the
White House this week."

    "The kid with cancer I've been reading about in the newspapers," Mallory
said with a wide smile.  "Nice to meet you.  Daddy, are we still going out
for lunch?"

    "Yeah... Lena, do you want to come, too?" Leo asked.

    "No, thanks," Carolyn said with a bit of a smile.  "I'll get a salad in
the Mess or something."

    "Okay, kid.  We'll talk later," Leo promised, grabbing his jacket and
tossing it over his shoulder.  "Margaret, Mal and I are off for lunch," he

    "Okay," Margaret shouted back from her office.

    After Leo and Mallory had left, Carolyn went into Margaret's office
space.  "Are you angry with me?" she asked.

    Margaret's eyes narrowed.  "Why wouldn't I be?" she hissed.

    "What do you mean?" Carolyn asked with a healthy dose of righteous

    "You have Leo wrapped completely around your pinkie."


    "I'm not going to let you drag him down."

    "I'm not!"

    "Did you know he's a recovering alcoholic?  That he's recovering from
Valium addiction?  That he's just divorced his wife?"


    "You are good for him, yes, by giving him someone to care for deeply.  He
loves you a lot -- I can tell," Margaret said quietly.  "But you can't just
waltz in and stake a claim in the man's heart and then leave again when he
needs you most.  And you can't turn his life upside down, then die and not
help him clean up the mess.  That's not the way it works!"

    "I... I'm... not!" Carolyn exclaimed, indignant.

    "You are.  You can't see it, because you're right there, but Sam and I
see it.  It's all over the office -- you're playing games with everyone."

    "I...  I...  NO!" Carolyn shouted, slapping Margaret.  She recoiled in
horror of what she had just done and ran out of the room in tears.

    Margaret just closed her eyes and rubbed her cheek.  Sometimes the truth
hurts the worst.









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