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"Why are you all looking at me like I'm Typhoid Mary?" Xavier Trout groused.

"Because you're on the wrong side of the country one week before the
holidays," Matt Shepherd replied evenly.

"I just came to offer an invitation.for New Year's Eve," Trout explained

"Uh-huh. New Year's Eve where?" Benny Ray demanded suspiciously.

"The White House, for the Millenium Ball."

"I t'awt da millenium was last year?" Nick Delvecchio interjected.

"Only for people who can't count," Margo shot back.

"Yes, well that's exactly what the head of the President's Secret Service
detail is concerned about. Any millenium wacko worth his salt knows that
you start to count from one, not one hundred."

"How exactly do we fit into this picture?" Benny Ray asked suspiciously.

"The fellow who's in charge of the President's personal security is an old
friend of mine. He asked if I had any operatives that I could loan him for
the party. I told him I'd see what I could come up with."

Four pairs of eyes stared accusingly back at him.

"Come on now, a free trip to DC for the New Year's holiday weekend. You'll
get to see all the decorations and go to a party at the White House. This
assignment is a gift. It'll be a -"

"Don't say it!" Matt and Margo warned in unison.


DECEMBER 31, 2000

"It's beautiful," Margo observed, admiring all the holiday decorations that
adorned the state rooms of the mansion.

"Sure is," Matt agreed, although admittedly, his attention was focussed more
on Margo than the décor.

"What? Is my hair funny?" Margo demanded. "You're staring."

"You look incredible," Matt replied in frank admiration.

An expression that might best described as a self-satisfied smirk played
over Margo's features as she laid her white-gloved hand on Matt's arm. Her
gown was burgundy satin, an off the shoulder style with a full skirt that
swept back into a slight train. Her hair was pulled back in a French twist,
showcasing a lovely pair of antique garnet earrings. The effect was vaguely
Victorian, and like everything else Margo wore, it suited her perfectly.
"Shall we?" she asked archly.

"Yes, ma'am!" Matt replied, leading the way in to the ball.


"Whoa! This is like babe-o-rama!" Nick Delvecchio exclaimed under his

Benny Ray elbowed him in the ribs. "Behave yourself! We're at a grand ball
in the White House for cryin' out loud!"

"Benny Ray, will you just look at them? Tell me you don't want to go over
there and ask one of them to dance or something," he added with a sly grin.

Benny Ray had to admit the bevy of young women seated at the corner table
were very entrancing, but... "Delvecchio, you don't talk about ladies that
way," he warned, "and you sure as heck don't drool all over 'em. Besides, I'm
sure they're way outta our league, anyway."

"Go on, then, Mister Ladies' Man," Nick challenged, "go on an' ask one of
'em ta dance."

"All right, then, I will," Benny Ray said suddenly.

Nick's jaw dropped as he saw Benny Ray approach, not one of the younger
women, but an older, matronly-looking lady who was also seated at the table.

"Ma'am, I was wonderin' if I might have this dance," he asked politely,
trying to ignore the smiles the other women were directing his way.

The woman smiled warmly. "Young man, I'm old enough to be your mother," she
said gently.

"Yes'm, I reckon you are, but the thing is, if my mama were here with me on
New Year's Eve, I'd surely want to have a dance with her. Would you do me
the honor?"

Amidst encouragement from the other ladies, she finally acquiesced. "You're
a very nice young man," she commented wistfully. "My own boys would have
been about your age by now."

"Excuse me, ma'am, I didn't mean to bring up bad memories for you," Benny
Ray apologized as he led her carefully around the dance floor.

"On the contrary," she replied with a sweet smile, "you've recalled some
very wonderful memories for me. Thank you, and Happy New Year."


"Well, it's nearly midnight and Nick still hasn't had a dance," Margo said,
trying to stifle a giggle.

"Well, he'll just have to find his own dance partner, 'cuz I'm not about to
share," Matt informed her smugly.

They joined in the polite applause as the music ended and the President,
accompanied by the First Lady and their youngest daughter, stepped up to the
mike to count down the last thirty seconds of the year.

"Care to make a wish for the New Year?" Matt leaned down slightly to whisper
in Margo's ear.

"You mean besides wishing that Trout would get us more assignments like this

"Yeah, besides that," Matt chuckled.

"-three, two one - Happy New Year!"

Caught up in the moment, Matt kissed Margo soundly on the lips. He tried to
pull back after a few seconds to maintain some semblance of decorum, but she
had other ideas and wrapped both arms tightly around his neck.

"Let's just say...I just got my wish," Margo informed a rather breathless
Matt as the band began to play Auld Lang Syne.

"Yeah.I think I did, too," he replied as they spun gracefully across the
dance floor. "Happy New Year, Margo."

"Happy New Year, Matt," she replied with shining eyes.


HAPPY 2001!

There were lots of interesting guests and goings-on at the Millenium Ball -
check out the X-Files and West Wing versions of the story.


Kathleen A. Klatte


Feedback and commentary are most welcome.

Disclaimer: SOF is the property of Rysher, et al; this is a recreational
endeavor, no profit is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Thank you to: Grace (as always!)



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