~Getting the Blue Badge~

Disclaimer: I don't own them, but I wouldn't mind Leo or Ron Butterfield

Rating: PG

AN:  This came to me while I was watching a panel discussion from Hobert College on C-Span.  The President of the College was one of Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff (most administrations have two Deputies, but Josh is so wonderful Bartlet only needs one), so he had a group of former colleagues and a report up to discuss the differences and similarities between the West Wing and "The West Wing."  Betty (can't think of her last name), the President Executive Assistant during both terms, talked some about her parking space, the view from her desk and the first day, which inspired this fic.  Then Steve (again last name escapes me) talked about the badges and what badge is good (blue) and which isn't (orange).  Now, I'm going to assume in the Bartlet White House red is good, because when I've seen Josh with a badge it's been red and I would think Josh is allowed in the mess.  Still, for the sake of this fic, the good badge is blue.  Also, in real life Margaret probably wouldn't get this parking space, but it's my story so…  :P.  Also, this explains why Toby get Danishes for Ginger, not that he isn't just a really sweet guy.

Summary: You and Mrs. L, you've earned it in spades.

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Margaret pulled into the Executive Road parking lot and felt her stomach do flip-flops as the agent directed her to the spot next to Mrs. Landingham's old panel station wagon.  The wagon and the women stepping out of it was a welcome sight.  She wasn't sure why she was so nervous; it wasn't like she had never been in the White House before.  When Leo was in the Cabinet, she was regularly running over here for meetings and reports, but this was different.  This was big time.

Climbing out of her small, blue Dodge Neon, she smiled warmly at the older woman, who was waiting for her, "Good Morning, Mrs. Landingham."

"Good morning, dear," Mrs. Landingham gave Margaret one of those smiles, the kind that could make you feel like the everything was right in the world or at least it would be.  "Have you seen the line, yet?"

Margaret shook her head as she pulled her briefcase and a box from the back of the car, "The line?"

"Apparently, it's for security clearance and getting the badges," Mrs. Landingham explained, taking the briefcase so Margaret could handle the box.

"Then what was all that stuff that they gave us in the transition office?"

"It was what we need to get through this."

Just as she said that, they rounded a corner and ran smack into a line of waiting employees.  At the head of the line a group of darkly clad men were inspecting boxes and comparing paperwork.

Scanning the seemingly endless line, Margaret shook her head, "We have to wait through that?  Leo is going to be pissed.  It's going to take all day to get through that line."

"Don't curse so close to the White House, dear," Mrs. Landingham scolded gently as she already began to lead her toward a different, shorter line.  "We are supposed to go through the Senior Staff/Senior Assistants line.  I made sure that Ginger, Bonnie, Cathy, Donna, Carol you and I were put on a different list than most of the junior staff and assistants.  Can you imagine if we let Leo and the Gov… President run loose in there for too long?"

Margaret chuckled lightly as she followed the older woman towards the second line.  At least the White House had changed Mrs. Landingham, so maybe, just maybe, she could make it, too.   As they neared the group, Margaret could clearly hear Josh's voice above all the other noise around her. 

Probably because he was yelling, "I'm Josh Lyman.  I'm the Deputy Chief of Staff.  I'm supposed to be working in that building."

"Joshua, sweetie, what's the matter," even the Secret Service agent backed off when Mrs. Landingham used that tone of voice, which she had slightly cushioned with the term of endearment.

Looking for all the world like a sulking child, Josh turned to her, "They won't let me in!  Donna's got all my papers, but she's in there setting up the office.  And, they won't let me in to get them from her."

Shaking her head, she laughed lightly before she turned to Margaret, "Do you know where Josh's office is?"

"I think so.  I think it's the same place that Mike Freely's office was when Leo was Labor Sec.  Why?"

"Well, since you have some clue where you'd be going I thought the agents could clear you and you could go in and get Donna to bring Josh's papers out."

Margaret nodded eagerly, suddenly feeling a little more confident with something to do.  Handing over her box and her credentials, Margaret waited the few minutes it took for the agents to make sure that everything was in order. 

"She's a blue badge, Smith," the agent in charge announced to one of the other men. 

The second man handed Margaret a large packet with a badge on a lanyard on top and a third agent handed back her box, "You're clear, miss.  Please remember to wear you badge at all times while in the compound."

"Yes, sir," Margaret mumbled, trying to put the badge on while balancing the box and the papers.  After some difficulty, she managed to get it around her neck and took off for where she thought the Deputy Chief of Staff's office was.

After navigating several halls and finding at least one dead end, she found Donna stacking books onto a bookshelf in Josh's office, "Thank God!  I think they've added halls, since I was in this place."

"Morning, Maggie, having a rough morning," Donna laughed, placing another book.

"Not as bad as you're going to have.  You have Josh's papers and he's outside fighting with the black-ties to let him in," Margaret got the last jab in.

Dropping the book she been holding, Donna turned wide-eyes to the other woman, "Oh my God, I forgot!  Josh is going to kill me.  Thanks, Maggie."

"It's Margaret, in this building," Margaret called at the blonde's retreating back.  Donna and a couple of the other girls had started calling her Maggie during the campaign, and while she didn't mind it for after work, she hated it at work.  She especially hated it in the White House.

"Margaret!"

She couldn't help, but laugh at the sudden intrusion on her thoughts about her by her name being bellowed by her boss.

"Margaret," the call grew louder as Leo neared the Operations bullpen.

Stepping out of the office, Margaret returned the call, "Leo!"

"Margaret!"

"Leo!"

"Okay, I can hear you, I just can't find you," Leo threw his arms up in frustration, facing the opposite direction from where she was coming.

Walking up behind him, Margaret answered him, "I'm right here, Leo."

Jumping several feet in the air, Leo spun around towards her, "Holy Hell, woman, don't do that to me."

"Sorry," she at least had the good graces to blush and lower her head, something that the young intern standing a few feet away didn't have.

Pointing a McGarry death glare, usually reserved for Josh or Sam, at the boy, Leo growled, "Watch it.  We can both fire you, which would not be a good way to start your first day at the White House."  With one final glare, Leo took Margaret by the elbow and started guiding her to their offices.

"We," Margaret asked as they were walking.

"Huh?"

"You said we back there.  I can fire people?"

"Hell, yes.  Anybody, but the senior staff.  Well, you can fire Josh if you want," Leo grinned at her slightly.

"If he ever gets in the building," Margaret muttered as they enter another office.

"What?"

"Never mind."

"Okay, well put your box down and come in here and help me sort out these boxes," Leo started for the next office.

"But, Leo, whose office is this," Margaret asked, still holding the box.

Leo turned to her, looking at her as if she was an idiot, "Yours."

"Mine?!"

"Yours!"

Still holding the box, Margaret stared at him, "I get an office?  A real office?  A nice office?"

"What did you expect a nightstand in a hall someplace," Leo had to laugh at the look on her face.

"Well, I…ah…"

Leo shook his head and removed the box from her hands, "Margaret, you get an office and a good parking place and a blue badge.  It's your reward for being a good girl and following your crazy boss to New Hampshire."

Margaret just smiled at him and followed him into the office, "Okay."

They had been working in their steady, silent rhythm for a good half hour when Margaret turned to Leo, "What did you mean, I get a good parking place and a blue badge?"

"Well, promise me that you won't turn this into a big thing, but Je… The President and I pulled some strings for you and Mrs. Landingham."

"What kinda of strings, Leo," she crossed her arms over her chest. 

Leo looked everywhere, but at her, "Well, you two got parking places in with the Senior Staff, but none of the other assistants did.  And, the blue badge, well, let's just say that's the best of the lot.  You've got free run of this place, Margaret."

Margaret suppressed the smile threatening her lips, "What about the other girls… ah assistants?"

"They've got to earn it.  You and Mrs. L, you've earned it in spades."

"Thanks, Leo," a genuine smile graced her lips.

Leo matched her smile, "Besides, if you've got a blue badge you can get me lunch from the mess."