By a Hair

Disclaimer: No matter how much I beg AS is just not going to give 'em to me, so I'm just playing.

Pairing: L/M

Rating: PG

AN: Blame Maeve and the evil plot bunnies that have been attacking lately.

Summary: Margaret's a natural redhead," the words dropped from Leo's lips in his nearly asleep state.

Leo stretched slightly as he slipped into the staff cabin. It had been a long time since he had been on a flight this long. Normally, when the President was going to be this far away, Leo would stay behind to manage the White House, but this time the President insisted that Leo come along. So, they were about 14 hours into the 20-hour flight and Leo couldn't sleep. Primarily, he couldn't sleep because he had relinquished the couch in his cabin to Margaret, since she had fallen asleep on it waiting for his meeting with the President to be over.

Looking around the cabin, Leo shook his head. Will, Charlie, Ed and Larry had apparently fallen asleep playing poker, as they were all still sitting around the chip strewn table. CJ, who Leo had the sneaky suspicion was the fifth person at the table, had moved over to where Nancy and Carol were chatting quietly. Deciding that the chatting would probably be less annoying than the snoring, Leo took one of the seats across from the women. Closing his eyes and leaning his head against the back of the seat, Leo let the soft voices of the women wash over him.

"Well, I go to Jacques Dessange," CJ explained, her voice accompanied by the sound of pages turning in a magazine.

"Yeah, right," Nancy laughed with more pages rustling. "I need to pay my rent this month, CJ. A shampoo and cut at Jacques Dessange would completely wipe out my bank account."

Carol laughed as well, "Yeah, boss, not all of us make the big bucks."

"Right, I'm just rolling in it with my amazing government job."

"Hey, you make more than us. Remember, your salary is published in the newspaper," Carol teased her boss.

Hearing more papers rustling and light giggling, Leo smirked knowing that CJ had hit her assistant with the magazine, "Okay, so what about Donna's stylist? She's not expensive."

"No way, I've seen the red she uses. I rather get me a big ole' box of Crayolas and melt the red ones on my head. I want something that looks natural," Nancy complained.

"What about Margaret," Carol asked. "Her hair looks great. She must have a fantastic colorist."

"Margaret's a natural redhead," the words dropped from Leo's lips in his nearly asleep state.

"What did you say, Leo," there was shocked and slightly strained quality to CJ's voice as she questioned him.

"Margaret's a nat...," Leo eyes snapped open as he trailed off. The three women were staring at him with a mixture of confusion and shock. He's weary brain was suddenly in overdrive as he looked at each of them. "She, ah, when we... um... She never needed a touch up during the first campaign," he finally stumbled into a logical excuse.

CJ continued to look at her boss, as she nodded her head slightly, "Yeah, I guess you're right, Leo."

"Yeah," Leo stood, suddenly uncomfortable with the six eye boring into him. "I'm going back to my cabin, now."

As Leo left the cabin, he could hear stunned voices explode into chatter. Easing into the cabin, Leo sighed. He was in trouble. He wasn't really concerned with CJ, Carol, and Nancy, but Margaret was any other story. She could make his life miserable, on many, many levels. Casting his eyes over Margaret's lounging form, his shoulders sagged. Moving over to the couch, Leo perched on the edge near her waist and just watched her sleep for several minutes.

"Just lay down, if you want to, Leo," Margaret's sleep, drugged voice startled him slightly.

"Did I wake you," he asked, brushing her now longer hair over her shoulder.

Margaret smiled at the feel of Leo's hand smoothing across her shoulders, "A little. I wasn't that asleep."

"I just screwed up," he whispered.

"Are you sick," she asked, opening her eyes for the first time as her hand reach to feel his forehead.

"I said, screwed up, not threw up, Margaret."

Dropping her hand, she sighed, "What did you do now?"

"I told CJ, Carol and Nancy that you were a natural redhead," he found his wingtips suddenly the most fascinating thing in the cabin.

"You did what," Margaret screeched as she flipped onto her back, thus dumping Leo unceremonially to the floor.

Standing and brushing himself off, Leo sighed, "I told them that you were a natural redhead. Apparently, Nancy wants to go red and they figured you most have a great colorist and I was just defending you. You have to remember I'm a very tired man and I gave up my couch for you."

Margaret giggled, "Well, by the time we land everybody is going to know I'm a natural redhead. You just killed two rumor with one slip of the tongue, Leo."

"Two rumors?"

"One, I dye my hair, which I do not..."

"I know, that's what got us in this mess to begin with," Leo interrupted her.

With a wave of her hand she dismissed his statement, "Two, that we are sleeping together."

Leo smirked at that, "Well, that's not true."

Margaret turned fast eyes to him, "Where the hell have you been Leo McGarry? I could have sworn that was you."

"Well, its not true right now," he continued to smirk at her. "I mean I'm all the way over here and you're all the way over there," he indicated the mere two feet between them, "and neither of us are sleeping."


"Yes, Margaret?"

"Get over here," she smiled as she stuck her hand out for him.

Tucking her hand into his, Leo crawled over her to settle behind her on the couch, "This is better."

Margaret just smiled as she wiggled into his arms.

CJ smiled as Leo and Margaret crept into the conference room for the pre-landing meeting. She couldn't help noticing that the wrinkled pattern on the side of Margaret's face, which was red from where she had tried rub it away, matched the texture of Leo's suit jacket. As Leo slide into the seat next to her, CJ had to suppress the giggle building in the back of her throat. Leaning across him, she carefully and dramatically removed two long, red hairs from his jacket collar. Examining the hairs, she nodded, "Well, what do you know, Margaret is a natural redhead!"

Leo and Margaret blushed as the occupants of the conference room began to clap and cheer.