Title: 1. Down, Insomnia. 2. Across, Romance.
Archive (if applicable): The National Library http://westwingstories.com/library
Feedback: The good, the bad and the very ugly it's all appreciated.
Summary: Leo and insomnia - Margaret becomes concerned.
Author's Notes: Another eJay challenge…I'm beginning to resemble her FF slave. "Competition to design your own crossword; alcohol glass; falling asleep on the couch, a pot plant; 'Storm in a tea cup' "
Disclaimers: Given the choice, I'd choose ownership. Till then I remain a humble fan.
You've got a National Security briefing in five minutes." A harried Margaret reminds Leo as she steps into his office.
She's met with a large snore from the direction of the couch as a reply. Leo's head is drooped, his chin touching his chest, papers from the last meeting still resting on his lap.
"Leo." Margaret repeats shaking his shoulder lightly till his eyes open. "Security briefing."
She turns her back to him, saving him any explanation he might feel the need to make for being asleep in the middle of the morning.
"Thanks for before." His voice says as Margaret looks up to see Leo standing next to her desk.
She doesn't pass judgment just nodding and continuing to type at one seventy five words a minute. The strange behavior he's been exhibiting for the past week has niggled at her for too long, with purposeful strides she enters his office closing the door behind her.
"Leo." She says softly watching his drooping eyes blink open to attention.
"Don't ask me." He replies knowing full well what she wants to know.
"It's happened every day this week." Margaret reminds him.
'I haven't been sleeping." He confesses in quick succession to the end of her reminder.
Margaret sees no problem with this, the older her parents got the less sleep they said they needed and Leo seemed to be no exception to this phenomenon.
"I've been having trouble getting to sleep, so I've been up all night."
"Every night this week?" Margaret questions falling comfortably into the chair opposite him.
"I've been doing crosswords when I can't sleep." He confesses opening a cream folder to reveal a dozen hand scripted crosswords.
"You've been creating them." Margaret says. "I thought you meant completing them from the newspaper."
"No, my brain starts to kick in and it won't shut down." He sighs.
"You just put them together?" Margaret asks.
"The New York Times is running a competition." Leo explains.
"You should enter." Margaret looks up from where she's sifting through the puzzles.
"That's a good idea." Leo says with the slightest drip of sarcasm.
"I can't use my name, people will recognize who I am." Leo says. "And heaven forbid if I win, then people will wonder what I do each day to earn my salary."
"I have some herbal sleeping pills I'll bring around tonight." Margaret offers closing the folder and standing up.
"Toby wants to meet with you in ten minutes." Margaret informs him once again exiting the office.
Leo fails to answer Margaret's insistent knocks that night when she brings him the sleeping pills. Her watch inches towards half past eleven and she can't figure out why he isn't here. Behind her someone steps off the elevator whistling happily.
"I haven't seen Mr. McGarry tonight." The voice says swinging Margaret around.
"Thanks." Margaret replies to the young bellhop who's pushing a food cart. She presses the button to call the elevator back and digs for her keys.
"Back again Miss Margaret." The agent on duty at the White House entrance greets.
"Is Mr McGarry here?" Margaret asks.
"He signed out when you did, but he was back not five minutes later mumbling something." The agent says reviewing the records.
"Has he signed out again?" Margaret sighs, the man is impossible.
"Thank you." Margaret says swiping herself in and heading towards Leo's office.
The bustle that fills the bullpens of the day, the scent of fresh coffee and danishes, the hum of fax and copy machines is gone and only a few skeletal staff pass her intermittently in the corridors.
As she suspects the office is quiet but not unlit and for a moment she considers he might not be here. The shallow illumination reveals Leo curled up on the couch asleep, proving her wrong. Scattered around him the fruits of his nightly work, scores and scores of crossword puzzles.
"You're sleeping Leo." Margaret says softly before gathering the scattered puzzles and closing the door gently behind her. With a cheeky grin she heads to the copier, making a perfect replica of each one before sealing them in an envelope.
Wandering over to communications she picks up a copy of The New York Times and searches for the entry addresses only to have a mumbled conversation from Toby's office interrupts her search. Poking her head to look through the glass window the only sign of life is Toby's screensaver, yet again the mumbling reaches her ears and this time Margaret opens the door slightly.
As Margaret lays eyes on him Toby mumbles again. Asleep also on his couch he seems to be having a private conversation, one that involves only him. Smiling broadly Margaret wishes she had a camera but closes the door silently after her.
Back at her desk she addresses the envelope and slips the crosswords inside, turning it over her pen hovers where the entry name is supposed to go. Finally Margaret puts her address and above that the name Maggie Smith...nice and anonymous. Smiling Margaret deposits into the mail pile then switches off the lamp in Leo's office leaving him to sleep in the dark.
She says a quiet goodnight to the agent on duty and heads home.
A few weeks later as Margaret drags herself home in the early hours of the morning having been held hostage by Leo's insomnia she almost trips over a package placed in front of her door.
The little yellow note reads 'this was delivered for you today dear, I signed for it for you...Mrs. Kimbeth'
Margaret smiles as she reads the note and turns the package open to find the senders address. She rips at the packages taped edges when she reads it's from The New York Times. Her bags drop to the floor as she pulls out the letter that congratulates her on her crossword being a runner up. Enclosed apparently is a souvenir copy of what will be printed in the paper next week and the runners up prize. To Margaret's dismay the runners up prize is a bottle of bourbon and ornamental glasses.
With her warm breath visible in front of her, hanging momentarily in the air before disappearing, Margaret sets off in to get an early edition...or two of the Times.
With the papers under her arm outside Leo's room door she expects him to be awake and answer, when he fails to answer her knocks Margaret looks to her left smiling politely to the young bellhop who is changing a light bulb, he looks much to cheerful for this time of the morning. When he's gone back to work, Margaret slips her hand inside the plastic plant next to Leo's door, rescuing the spare key from its hiding spot on the back of one of the leaves.
"Finally." She says out loud for good measure for the bellhop as she unlocks the door.
His room is dark forcing Margaret to fumble for the light switch. The light has been dulled and Margaret still needs to search to find him, finding a floppy foot over the edge of the couch. She turns out the light again so as not to make him and fumbles her way towards him.
Carefully she pushes Leo's legs back deeper into the couch, sitting precariously on the end she wraps a bow around one of the newspapers setting it on the table in front of her. Looking back over him she doesn't have the heart to wake him with the news, instead picking up the other copy in an attempt to complete his masterpiece.
Frustrated at not being able to come up with any answers Margaret glares over at Leo who is still sleeping soundly, she picks up his legs resting them across her lap and sinking further into the couch.
After twenty minutes the only answer she can come up with is the 'Storm in a tea what?' question and that earns Leo another glare and then a longer look willing him to wake up as Margaret feels her eyelids droop. It's not long before she slips into a light sleep.
"Did you fall asleep giving me a foot rub?" Leo's voice asks and Margaret believes it's a dream. His legs are still across her lap, his arms behind his head now.
Margaret's head shakes as she rubs sleep from her face.
"Let yourself in?" Leo continues.
Margaret's only reply is to point at the newspaper in the bow waiting on the table.
"What have you done?" He exclaims when he recognizes the puzzle.
"Nothing." Margaret protests a little loudly. "I just didn't think all that work should go to waste." She watches as Leo scans the entrant information that has been printed below.
"Maggie Smith?" He questions.
"What would you prefer?" Margaret replies indignantly.
"Runner-up!" Leo exclaims.
"Would you prefer nothing?" Margaret sighs as Leo lifts his legs from her lap. He swings to perch on the edge of the couch, inspecting his down and across clues for any mistakes the paper may have made.
"Given the choice I'd prefer you." Leo says not lifting his head from the paper.
"You have me, I'm not going anywhere." Margaret says stretching out thinking nothing of the comment.
"Given the choice I'd have you." Leo says turning his focus to Margaret.
"I said..." Margaret falters seeing the sudden intensity in his eyes and feeling the couch dip as he moves closer to her.
"And I said."
"Don't confusion feelings of gratitude with feelings of affection." Margaret warns watching a hesitant hand reach halfway towards her.
"Who's confused here?" Leo asks.
"Leo you're horribly sleep deprived and..."
"For the first time I'm thinking clearly and seeing straight." Leo tells her.
"You couldn't possibly..."
"Margaret, Donna refuses to bring Josh coffee yet you make sure my insomnia doesn't go to waste. You don't do that if you don't..."
"Care, I do care Leo..."
"What have we been doing for the last ten years?" Leo asks rhetorically.
"Running the country." Margaret answers.
"I've spent a lot of time these past sleepless nights asking myself just why I haven't been able to see you right in front of me all this time."
"That's gratitude Leo." Margaret ducks her head.
"Is this gratitude?" Leo asks cupping her face in his hands and hesitantly bringing her lips to his, all the time waiting for Margaret to pull away and slap him. The kiss is soft and gentle and just as she'd imagined it would be with him.
When her eyes travel to his again a slight blush creeps over Margaret's face, she ducks to hide it, resting her forehead on his shoulder.
"What's my prize?" Leo asks curling his fingers through the hair on the back of her neck.
There's a long silence before the truth comes out. "I kept it and substituted it for something else."
"What was it?" Leo asks and Margaret raises her head to meet his eyes knowing he deserves that much.
"Bourbon and ornamental glasses."
"What was the substitute?" Leo asks letting his eyes wander over every inch of her face.
"Me." Margaret says quietly yet loud enough that it paints a smile across Leo's face.
"Given the choice...I'd choose you too."