Executive Privilege
Paper Cuts


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Author:  Linda B
Summary:  Leo learns that some problems can be fixed more easily than others.  Written in response to the "Defining Moments" challenge.
Spoilers:  None
Rating:  General
Published:  December 5, 2002

Paper Cuts


He was done at last.

Leo pulled off his glasses and surveyed the closely written page before him. Satisfied that his notes on the conservation bill were finally complete, he started to tear the page from his legal pad. It ripped cleanly, but, halfway across, it veered away from its perforated path, leaving a jagged edge at the top of the page.

Leo stared in momentary irritation. He almost yelled for Margaret, so she could fix it for him. He liked things clean and neat, but there simply wasn't time to rewrite the memo. It would be placed in the file corrupted, the words correct, but the presentation flawed.

He tossed the file onto the corner of his desk and moved on to the next task. As Leo worked, he tried not to glance at the file, but his eyes kept straying to it. An uneven edge on a piece of paper - that's all it was. It didn't matter.

But Leo wanted the unattainable standard of perfection. There was just never enough time anymore.

Then he realized that, even given ample time, he had never been perfect. Far from it.

But wasn't perfection supposed to be boring?

He raised his fingers to rub his temples as he considered the idea. Boring...yeah, he could live with boring.

If imperfection was supposed to be interesting, then he should be mesmerizing. But he didn't feel that way. Leo would do anything to erase all the jagged, painful scars from his past. They weren't interesting, just sad reminders that he was a disappointment to his friends and family.

Oh, they all loved and accepted him. But they remembered the imperfections, the ones he wished he didn't have.

Just today the President had asked, "Did you have a drink yesterday?  Will you have one today?"

Leo had said, "No." But he hated probing at the scar.  The soreness never quite went away, like a paper cut that just refused to heal. 

He walked to the door. Margaret wasn't at her desk, but, as always, she had left it neat. He imagined if he opened any of the drawers, he would find supplies neatly placed in their appropriate niches.

Scissors? Margaret probably had scissors. All he had to do was open one of those immaculately kept drawers.

Nah...it wasn't necessary.

He moved, seemingly without his own volition, and opened the top drawer. Just as he had thought, everything was in its proper place, the scissors resting precisely in a rectangular slot. The metal blades gleamed, the steel winking at him, encouraging him to pick them up.

He did.

It felt right. With just a few stolen moments, he could slice away the problem and get it right.

He went back into his office and picked up the file. As he opened it, the jagged edge of the yellow paper grinned at him mockingly. With a decisive snap, the metal blades of the scissors cut away the torn edge. Leo watched as the sliver of yellow paper fell to the floor.

It had been easier than he thought.

Perfection was in his grasp.

Looking up, he saw Margaret watching him from the doorway.

"I could have done that," she said, "I always do."

Leo smiled at her. "That's okay. I wanted to do this myself."


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