~Hearts Afire~

Disclaimer:  Don't own them!  Have no money!  Don't sue please!

Pairing: L/M

Author's Note:  This is completely an AU story, but not part of Lyrics.  I had to get rid of the evil Jordan for Maeve.  Unfortunately, I had to torture Margaret to do it for you.

Feedback:  Like a rainbow on a sunny day.

Summary:  "Margaret," Jordan's voice raised.  "You are going to walk out on me in the middle of an argument about Margaret to go be with Margaret?"

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Leo McGarry and Jordan Kendell stared at each other.  Their bodies poised in anger. The evening had definitely not gone the way that either of them expected.  Now, they were standing in the middle of Leo's hotel room, glaring at each other.  The anger had been building all evening until it had finally exploded loudly over the Tiramisu that he had ordered from room service.  It was the same old argument: his life after the White House.  She wanted him to think about joining her firm after the Administration was up, but he wasn't willing to look that far into the future.  However, that wasn't what the argument was completely about tonight.  Tonight, the real breaking point was his assistant.  He had made a comment about needing to discuss his plans with Margaret to which Jordan had responded rather sarcastically that he acted more like he was married to Margaret than that she was just his assistant.  This had started the downward spiral that they now found themselves near the deadly and silent end. 

The chirping of the cell phone clipped to his belt broke the tense silence that had settled into the room.  Without breaking eye contact with Jordan, Leo tersely answered, "McGarry."

Jordan watched him; his eyes suddenly breaking connect with her as he turned slightly away.  Snapping words off occasionally, he listened to the voice on the other end of the wire intensely. 

With a sigh, Leo spoke into the phone, "I'll be there immediately.  Please, tell her I'm on my way."  Turning to the hotel phone Leo quickly dialed the operator, "I need a car out front, now.  Thank you." 

"Is everything okay, Leo," Jordan asked quietly when he turned back to her.

"No, I have to get to GW," Leo sighed not meeting her eyes as he put his suit jacket on.

"Mallory?"

Stilling, he looked at her, "No, its Margaret."

"Margaret," Jordan's voice raised.  "You are going to walk out on me in the middle of an argument about Margaret to go be with Margaret?"

"She needs me, Jordan.  There was a fire in her townhouse and she in the hospital.  I have to be there for her."

Jordan's armed crossed over her chest, "Can't one of her family 'be there for her?'"

"I am her family, Jordan," Leo's voice ground out the words as he turned from toward the door.

"Leo McGarry, if you walk out of here right now, I won't be here when you get back," she screamed at his back.

Without turning back, he sighed, "Fine.  Make sure you take all your stuff before you go."

Then he was gone, leaving a fuming lawyer in the middle of his hotel suite as he raced to the hospital.

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Nearly an hour had passed by the time that Leo made it into Margaret's hospital room.  Between the traffic and the uncooperative hospital staff, Leo was manic by the time he found a young nurse, who lead him to the right room.

Stepping into the room, he studied her still form.  Bruises where apparent against the pale skin of her arms and one large bruise was appearing on her cheek, but other than that she looked healthy.  Reaching a tentative hand out he brushed her bangs off her face, "Margaret?"

Her eyes blinked open slowly, trying to focus on the face and voice that she knew so well, "Leo?"

"Hey, how you feeling?"

"My throat hurts," she whispered as she moved towards him slightly.

Touching her jaw and throat lightly, Leo sighed, "That's what happens when you swallow a lot of smoke."

Turning her head from him, tears slipped from her eyes, "I'm sorry, Leo.  I didn't mean…"

"Margaret," Leo cut her off as he lowered himself onto the bed next to her.  "You've had a hard day.  I think that you deserve a good cry.  Come'ere."

"Thank you," Margaret cried, turning into his open arms.  Leo gathered her into his arms, her fingers clinging to the front of his shirt as sobs racked her body.  He continued to hold her tracing light patterns on her back as she cried out her fears, frustration and sadness.  As her tears subsided, she pulled out of his arms, "I'm sorry, Leo."

"For what?  Crying on a friend's shoulder?  I don't care.  No, that's not true.  I do care.  I care about you, Margaret.  You ready to tell me what happened?"

Nodding, Margaret settled back in his waiting arms, "I threw some clothes in the dryer and went to do some housework.  The next thing I knew, there was smoke filling the house.  I tried to put it out, but it got too hot.  I barely got out the door when I passed out from the smoke.  I lost everything, Leo."

"I'm so sorry, Margaret," he whispered, running his fingers through her hair.  "But, as long as you're okay, then you've lost nothing.  Everything else is unimportant.  We can replace everything you need."  Leo could feel her shake her head against his shoulder, her tears having started anew.  Pulling her with him, he lowered them so they were more or less curled together on the uncomfortable bed, "Everything is going to be okay, I promise.  Try to get some sleep.  I'll be right here."

Her tears and emotions making her sleepy, she yawned, "Leo, you can't stay here.  It will look bad."

"I really don't care how it looks.  You shouldn't be alone right now.  Besides, do you want me to leave?"

Once again gripping his shirt, she shook slightly, "No, please.  I need you, Leo."

"I'm not going anywhere," Leo wrapped his arms around her tightly in response.

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The sound of a chair scrapping across the floor woke Leo from the light slumber that he had fallen into.  Opening his eyes, he found himself looking at Donna and Josh.  Dipping his head to make sure that the woman in his arms was still asleep, Leo whispered, "When did you get here?"

"Just a few minutes ago," Josh moved over to the side of the bed dropping his voice.  "We didn't mean to wake you.  We just heard and wanted to see how Margaret was."

"She's upset, but physically I think she's going to be okay," Leo unconsciously ran his hand over the arm that Margaret had thrown over his chest.  "How did you guys find out?"

Josh tossed a look back over his shoulder, "Um… Actually Jordan dropped by she… ah… had some stuff to leave in your office."

"She tell you we broke up tonight?"

"No, but the screaming and the throwing clued us in."

Leo sighed, "Screaming and throwing?"

"Josh may be overstating, a little," Donna moved up next to her boss.  "Ms. Kendal was rather upset.  She was rather loud when she found your office was locked, and when we suggested that she leave the stuff in Margaret's office that seemed to upset her even more.  She just kinda dropped everything and started going on about you running to be with Margaret.  When she told us that Margaret was in the hospital, Josh told her she would have to leave the building.  You may owe the Secret Service an apology.  She really didn't want to leave."

"She threw a fit," Leo stared at the occupants of the room that had been in attendance at the time.

Josh held up his right hand, his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart, "Just a small one."

Leo snorted slightly, so that he wouldn't wake Margaret, "I dated the woman for 2 years, Josh.  She doesn't throw little fits.  It's one of the reasons she a damn good lawyer and pain in the ass as a girlfriend."

"Leo, I know that it is really none of my business," Donna's curiosity was getting the best of her and, honestly, Leo was surprised it had taken this long for her to build up to question.  "Did the break up, well, did it have anything to do with Margaret?"

"Yes," Leo answered simply and honestly, but a little uncertain.  Seeing the look that flashed between Josh and Donna, Leo sighed, "Not like that, guys.  Jordan was doing her song and dance about the firm and I told her that I'd have to discuss it with Margaret.  She didn't like it and she liked it less when I left to come here."

"Leo, did you stop for a beer or red lights," Josh asked, cryptically, as his hand snaked out to find Donna's.

Leo looked at him strangely, "What are you talking about?  I don't drink, Josh, and I haven't clue what you are talking about red lights for."

"Just think about the first thing that flashed through your head when that voice told you that Margaret was hurt.  What happened to the pit of your stomach? To your gut? To your heart?"  Josh held his eyes, "Just think about it, Leo."

"I…," Leo trailed off at the looks on the younger couple's faces.  "Okay."

"Good," Donna smiled moving over to kiss Margaret's cheek and then impulsively kissed Leo's cheek as well.  Slipping an envelope into his hand, she ran toward the door, so he wouldn't see her sudden tears.

Following Donna's example, Josh kissed Margaret's cheek and patted Leo's shoulder, "Open it, Leo.  I'm going to take of Donna, you take of Margaret."

Leo waited until Josh was out the door to open the envelope.  Inside, he found just one glossy photo.  He blinked a few times looking at the picture in his hand.  He had no idea when it was taken.  In the picture Margaret and he were bent towards each other, their shoulders barely touching as they study the file between them.  He had a funny feeling that's she had just told him a joke, because he had a confused look on his face, but his eyes were shining as he looked at her: his Margaret. 

HIS Margaret.

He called her that.  He said that he was okay because he had her.  He planned his future around her.  He loved her.

Now, he just had to admit that to her.

"Leo," Margaret's smoke scratched voice called to him quietly, nearly an hour after Josh and Donna left. 

"Hmm," Leo answered her distractedly, still staring at the picture and reveling in his realization.

Margaret moved slightly to look at the paper in his hand.  A small gasp escaped her lips, "Where did you get that?"

"Donna.  She and Josh came by to check on you," he turned the picture over to her.

"How did they know?"

"Margaret, I need to tell you something."

Biting her lip, she nodded, "Yes, Leo?"

"Jordan and I broke up tonight," Leo started to explain as he made her look him in the eye.  "We had a fight.  A fight about you.  She wanted me to plan the future, but I couldn't.  I told her wanted to talk to you.  The truth is I couldn't discuss the future with her, because I can't see her in it.  When I think about the future all I can see is you.  My future is you.  My present is you.  Margaret, I love you and can't remember a time when I didn't."

Margaret blinked repeatedly, but never lowered her eyes from his.  She remained silent just looking in his eyes.

"Margaret, please, my heart can't take it.  Say something.  Tell me you hate me and to get out.  Tell me you love me and to stay.  Just say something," Leo pleaded with her.

"My throat hurts too much to say everything I want, so…," she trailed off as she raised herself to meet his lips with her own.  The kiss was soft and tentative, but held a smoldering passion. 

As her lips slipped from his, he smiled, "Does that mean what I think it means?"

"I love you, Leo," she whispered.  "Stay for awhile?"

"How about forever," he smiled at her.