Author: Dafna G.
Pairing: references to Jed/Leo
Rating: CHILD, but this is a story for grown-ups
Written: April 2001
Spoilers: "17 People" (and a lot of eps before that)
Summary: "It's like some quadratic equation, expect that what I think are the constants keep turning out to be the variables."
More notes at end of story.
Personal by Dafna G.
<One week later.>
Leo stood in the entrance of Toby's office, watching him as he stared out
"What happened to the ball?"
"What?" Toby turned around.
"You know, the thing where you Š" Leo waved his right hand up and down.
"Sam confiscated it yesterday. He threatened to sue for Worker's Comp if I
kept hitting his wall."
Leo started to smile, then stopped. "You wanted me to drop by?"
"There's stuff we need to talk about."
"I know, Toby, I know, it's just been a hell of a week and -- "
"And it's stuff I don't want to talk about sitting in an office 10 feet from
Leo sucked in a deep breath.
"It took me less than 7 days to find out his big secret. Want to know how
long it took me to find out yours?"
Leo just stared at him.
"I think I'll sit."
Toby waved him to the couch and Leo sat down, an expression on his face that
seemed to suggest he was amazed that his legs still did what his brain told
"I wish I had that ball now," Toby said. He stood up and moved his hands in
the air, as if juggling. "It's like some quadratic equation, expect that
what I think are the constants keep turning out to be the variables."
"I think you should think carefully about what you say next," Leo said. The
stunned expression had left his face and now he was just cold composure.
Toby stared at him. "*I* should think carefully? You knew for a year, Leo. A
"It was personal."
"You know what? The president doesn't get personal," Toby strode around to
the front of his desk.
"He gives up that right when he assumes life-and-death responsibility for
millions of people. He gives up that right when he swears an oath to the
people who elected him. For the next four years, he gets a staff of
thousands to carry out his every whim, he gets the right to declare war, he
gets to ride on Air Force One. What he doesn't get is the right to assume
that it's OK to lie to the American people because 'it's personal.' And I'm
sorry but that's the way it is and he knew that going in. *You* knew that
"He has a chronic disease that may one day cripple and blind him." Leo's
voice started to rise. "I'm sorry if my first concern wasn't how to spin
this on 'Meet the Press'!"
"Why wasn't it your second?"
Leo glared at him.
"No, really. OK, he tells you and you're upset -- and Leo, I am sorry he has
MS and I'm even sorrier I didn't get a chance to say that to him, really --
but then a month goes by and you don't even start to *wonder* whether he's
doing the right thing? You, who's been in public life longer than he has?
You, who said you got into this to see if a good man could be elected
"The only reason I'm not up out of my seat and hitting you in the face right
now is that Sam might come in."
"I'm not saying he's not a good man, Leo. I'm saying that when good men lie
it makes it harder to tell the good men from the bad. If good men can't tell
the difference between what's right for them and what's right for the common
good, then how can we expect anyone else to?
"The thing is, Leo, someone has to make him see that. And that someone
should be you."
Toby waited, but Leo didn't say anything.
Toby continued in a lower tone. "And you can't, because you're in love with
"Let's assume, for a moment, that your preposterous theory is correct," Leo
said, his voice unnaturally calm. "What makes you think I can't do my job
anyway, tell him the hard truths? What about 'Let Bartlet Be Bartlet'?"
Toby shook his head. "Not the same thing. You were asking the man you love
to be a better man -- that's what lovers do for each other every day, even
if they never verbalize it."
Leo paused to consider this.
"You were right about Abbey, you know," he said unexpectedly. "She did
confront him after the State of the Union about not running again."
"And if you say that means she *doesn't* love him, I really will hit you."
"She's his wife," Toby said, his voice now barely audible. He avoided Leo's
eyes. "I imagine she feels just a bit more secure in their relationship than
his -- "
"Yes, go on," Leo said, his voice bitter. "What exactly is the word you're
Toby sat back down in his chair.
"Once it occurred to me, you know, I couldn't believe that no one else sees
it. You stay over in the Residence almost every night Abbey's gone."
"We get a lot of work done."
"I'm sure you do. But that's not all, is it?" Toby faced down the man who'd
trusted him when no else did, who'd fired everyone but him. "Leo, I need you
to trust me and to be honest with me. Please."
Leo sighed and rubbed his hand over his face. "No. That's not all."
"This isn't the week for you to believe me," Toby said, "but I honestly
could give a damn whom you or the leader of the free world do or do not
Leo emitted a sharp bark of laughter.
"But Leo, you're in love with him and it's blinding you in a way that it's
not blinding Abbey. He needs to realize what's going to happen around here
once everyone knows -- what's going to happen around the capital and what's
going to happen around the nation. And he needs to hear it from someone
whose political interests he trusts."
"And you think that's his alcoholic gay lover?"
"I think that's his best friend, the White House chief of staff," Toby said.
"What if -- " Leo lowered his face to his hands for a minute. He cleared his
"What if -- What if I don't think I can be his lover and his chief of staff
at the same time?"
"This time, I will say 'I'm sorry' first," Toby said. He leaned forward on
his desk, his voice steady.
"Leo, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, but you may have to choose."
Back to the Big Block of Cheese Main Page