Disclaimer: I don't own them, big surprise there.
AN: Don't know, just came to me. It is kind of a rip off of Maeve's Variations Of Adoration. (Imitation is the sweetest form of flattery, sweetie!) It is a Mallory story, sorry if you don't like Mal.
Pairing: Mallory and Margaret (purely friendship)
Summary: I think I like you.
Margaret screamed and dropped the file she had just pulled out of the drawer having been started, no terrified, by the smiling face that was revealed when she slid the drawer shut. The young girl, maybe 12 or 13, smiled at her shyly before she bent to retrieve the papers that had scattered across the floor.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," the girl smiled again handing the papers back to Margaret.
Accepting the papers with her own smile, she shook her head, "It's okay. I just was expecting anyone in the office. Speaking of which, can I help you?"
"Nah, I'm just waiting for my dad to get back from his meeting."
"Your dad," Margaret asked sliding into her desk chair.
The young girl hopped up on the corner of Margaret's desk and pulled up the dark knee highs that completed the Catholic School uniform, before she began swing her legs idly, "Yeah, my dad, Leo McGarry."
"Oh, god, you must be Mallory."
"Yup and you're Margaret, right."
"Right," she smiled extending her hand to the younger woman, who shook it shyly. "You know your dad talks about you all the time. I guess I should have know you, immediately, but I think you scared the intelligence outta my brain."
Mallory laughed warmly, "Yeah, the braces will do that to people."
"Nah, it's the uniform. I still have nightmares about my uniform, it was wool and itched like crazy!"
"You went to Catholic school?"
Margaret nodded, "Yup, in Philadelphia. St. Malachy's K-8, then Saint Maria Goretti High School, it was an all girls school."
"You said it, kiddo. What about you, co-ed?"
"Yeah, I just started at St. John's College High School," Mallory shrugged, obviously unsure about the school.
Trying to reassure the young girl, Margaret smiled, "Hey, my college roommate went to St. John's. I'll get her to give me a list of the good teachers, so you can pick your classes and not get stuck with the Nazi nuns."
Mallory laughed loudly, "Thanks. I think I like you. You're a lot better than Daddy's last secretary, but then she was like 90 and spat when she talked."
"Well, I guess I don't have to much to live up to then, but thanks, I think I like you, too."
"Leo McGarry's office," Margaret answered the phone lightly.
"Margaret," the voice on the other end of the line was barely above a whisper.
"Don't," the voice interrupted. "Please, if Daddy's in the office, please don't say my name."
Margaret flashed quick eyes to the door into Leo's office, "Whatasmatter?"
"I'm screwed, Maggie, really, really screwed. If you like me at all, come get me. Please," Mallory was on the edge of tears by the time she ended her plea.
"Where are you," Margaret sighed into the phone.
"The little park behind the Jefferson Memorial," relief flooded her voice. "Thank you, Maggie, thank you. I love you."
"Yeah, you better," Margaret hung up, trying to think up an excuse to get out of the office, quick.
Margaret pulled the old Desoto into a parking space near the edge of the park and started to get out to look for Mallory. That proved to be unnecessary, since before she could even get her door closed the young woman in question came barreling towards her, hugging her fiercely and peppering her face with kisses.
"Thank you, oh thank you. You were the only one I could call."
"Mallory," Margaret pried the girls arm from around her neck, "what the hell happened? Why aren't you in school?"
Color rose on Mallory's cheeks, "Johnny McNaul and I skipped Sister Maria's English class. He wanted to go for a drive and… Oh, Maggie, it was awful."
Panic was rising in Margaret's chest as she put her hands on either side of Mallory's face, "Mallory, what did Johnny do? Did he… did he…"
"No, but he tried. I slapped him and ran, but I was scared."
"I know, kiddo. I know," Margaret pulled her into a hug. "Let's go back to my place and get you cleaned up, then I'll take you back to the office."
"Do I have to go back there," Mallory whined as she crawled across the front bench seat of the old car.
Margaret slid in next to her, "Yes, and you're telling your father what happened. If you don't do something Johnny is just going to try again."
Leo watched his daughter curled up on the end of his couch. She had cried out her story and was now napping lightly. What amazed him was that she was wearing a pair of American University sweats that belonged to his assistant. Had he really been that out of it that he hadn't realized they had become friends? It never dawned on him that the Maggie she had been talking about lately was his Margaret.
Stepping into the outer office, he smiled down at that same assistant, "Thank you."
"She told you everything?"
"Yeah," Leo sighed, "including the part at the apartment. You okay?"
Margaret looked down, but nodded, "Yeah, I didn't want to scare her or upset her, but I've dealt with the harsh reality of what could have happened and I wanted her to understand. I'm the youngest of five, Leo, I've had a lot of practice being 'big sistered.' I was happy to help. You know, she's a good kid, Leo."
"Yeah, and you're a good girl, Margaret."
"Well, what do you think," Mallory spun before Margaret in the dark green dress.
Margaret grabbed her hands and made her hold still for a moment, "I think it's gorgeous, but don't you think you should check with your mom or dad?"
Mallory snorted lightly, "Like either of them would care. Dad's too potted and Mom's too busy being perfect to noticed their daughter's Senior Prom."
"Mal," Margaret scolded lightly, glancing around the dressing room to make sure there were no reporters about.
Mallory flopped onto the bench next to Margaret, "It's true, Maggie."
"I know, kiddo, I know. I really am sorry, but your Dad's sick. He needs your love and understanding, not your anger."
"I know, its just hard being alone, sometimes," Mallory rested her head on the older woman's shoulder.
"Hey," Margaret wrapped her arm around Mallory's shoulders, "you aren't alone. You've got your unofficial big sister: me!"
"Yeah. Thank you for that."
Margaret kissed the crown of Mallory's red curls, "Not a problem."
"Is he really going to be okay," Mallory's voice was tinny over the overseas line from Paris.
Margaret nodded, before she realized Mallory couldn't see her, "Yeah, kiddo. The next 28 days will be murder for him, but he's finally ready to do this."
"He really called Uncle Jed?"
"Yeah," Margaret snuggled down into the sheets in her barely lit bedroom. "I didn't go pick him up. I'm sorry, Mal, I wasn't thinking."
"Hey, he's in rehab, isn't that what we've been trying to do for the last four years?"
"Yeah, but it could have turned out so bad, Mal. What if he had decided to drive himself?"
"Oh, Maggie, don't," Mallory tugged the phone closer to her ear. "Don't play the what if game, Maggie. It turned out exactly as it should. Daddy's in rehab, mom's happy, and you're… well, you're relieved. So, relax. Things are getting better."
"What about you, Mal? Are you happy?"
"Well, I would have preferred Daddy picking a time other than when I'm on my honeymoon, but yeah I'm happy. You know, I think, I'm truly happy for the first time in my life. Jimmy really makes me happy. What about you? How's Roger?"
Margaret snorted into the phone, "Gone. I guess we aren't all supposed to find our soul mates."
"You will, Maggie. Your too good a dame not to get the guy in the end," Mallory giggled.
"I'm hanging up now, Mallory. You're getting kooky, now go find that husband of yours and do husband and wife things."
"Okay, love you, Maggie."
"Love you, too," Margaret said slipping the receiver back into place.
Margaret stared at the man in front of her, "No, that's impossible! I was talking to Jimmy not six hours ago."
"I know," Leo slipped his hand into hers as they sat in the living room of Mallory's small Virginia bungalow. "His flight was delayed, so he got a friend with a little Cessna to bring him home, but they couldn't ride out the storm."
"He was trying to get home with for their anniversary. He bought her," Margaret's voice broke, which caused Leo to slip his arm around her.
He held her until she cried herself dry, "Mallory really wants to see you when you're ready."
"Of course," Margaret nodded and wiped away her tears. "Thank you," she whispered gently, kissing him quickly on the cheek before hurrying up the stairs to Mallory's room. Margaret opened the door a crack before calling out, "Mallory?"
"Come in, Margaret," Jenny's voice answered the call.
Slipping into the room, Margaret smiled at Jenny, who mumbled something about checking on Leo as she left the room. Margaret and Mallory just looked at each other for a few moments, before Margaret opened her arms, "Come here, kiddo."
Both women wept openly as they clung to each other.
"Are you sleeping with my father," Mallory's green eyes flashed angrily.
"What," Margaret rose quickly, pulling Mallory into her father's office and shutting the doors.
Mallory crossed her arm over her chest, "Are you sleeping with my father?"
"Mallory," her hand rubbed the back of her neck.
"Oh, god, you are! You're sleeping with my father," Mallory lashed out pushing the other woman onto the couch. "How long? While he and my mother were still married? The whole time you've worked for him? All the years you pretended to be my friend?"
"I am your friend and your mother's! I never touched your father, until…"
Margaret sighed, "Until Josh had his PTSD attack. He, we, needed each other."
"Two years," Mallory screamed. "You've been sleeping together for two years and you never told me. I had to hear some giggly gossip from a half drunken Josh to figure it out! You know what, screw you, Margaret McDonnell. Oh, that's right, my father's doing that already."
Margaret closed her eyes to the tears as she watched Mallory storm from the office.
Margaret didn't bother turning to look at who had opened the door to her hospital, she knew that it was Leo and she still wasn't able to look at him.
"Maggie," Mallory's voice was soft, but cause Margaret to swivel her head at the young woman. "I'm so sorry." She continued when Margaret didn't speak, "Josh called Sam. He said that… Oh, Margaret, I'm just so sorry."
Margaret nodded, but still didn't speak as her eyes clouded.
"Why didn't you tell me about the baby," she asked quietly, moving further into the room.
Margaret finally spook, "You didn't exactly approve of your father and me, I didn't think you approve of me having his baby."
"I would have been happy for you, Maggie," Mallory croaked slightly. "You've always wanted a baby and now that the administration is over, it… it would have been wonderful for both of you."
The tears that had refused to fall since the doctor had told her she was losing the baby started to slide down her cheeks, "Yes, it would have been."
"And, it will be," Mallory ran to the side of the bed and wrapped her arms around her friend. "You'll have a baby, I know it. And, I'll the best big sister you've ever seen. Maggie, I've missed you so much! Can you forgive me for being a bitch?"
Even through her tears, Margaret laughed, "There's nothing to forgive. I love you, kiddo."
"I love you, too," Mallory's tears mingled with her friend's as they clung to each other.
Mallory turned to where the redhead was calling her name and burst into a smile, "Madeline!"
Racing into her sister's waiting arms, five-year old Madeline McGarry laughed, "Mallory, you came to pick me up."
"Yup," Mallory kissed her sister's cheek. "And, I even brought you a change of clothes. No more school uniforms."
"Yay," Madeline screamed, bouncing in her sister's arms. "I think I love you, Mal."
"I think I love you, too, Maddy," Mallory smiled catching a glimpse of Margaret and herself reflected in the green eyes of the child.