Perfect Timingby Amanda N.
"Sir, all I'm saying is give her another chance," Sam pleaded with the President as they walked into the Oval Office. 'Okay, so she saved my ass on that memo, and I kind if owe her one,' he thought silently.
"I don't know, Sam," POTUS began, trepidation lacing his voice. "Every time I meet her she's either dancing in bath robes or using Leo's closet as a restroom. I would love to take away that bit of embarrassment for her, but if you tell her, she'll get nervous. If you don't, she could be dancing in bath robes."
"I'll tell you what," he said, sliding his glasses on and going over the folder Charlie handed him. "You stay with her in her office, and I'll come by sometime today. That way, you can keep a lid on her."
Sam frowned. "How am I supposed to..."
"Sam," The President cut off, "You're a smart man. I'm sure you'll think of something." He turned to Mrs. Landingham, dismissing Sam. "What's next?"
* * * * *
"Ainsley?" Sam called, rapping lightly on her partially open door.
"Yeah," came the distinct southern reply.
He pushed the door open the rest of the way only to be blasted by a wave of warm air. "God, it's like a sauna down here."
She looked up from her papers, glasses perched on the end of her nose. "Yeah. Then again, with a name like 'Steam Pipe Distribution Venue' what can you expect?" she asked, sarcastically.
Ignoring her statement, he walked further into the office and dropped a folder down in font of her, his eyes hesitating ever so slightly at the three unfastened buttons of her top. "Anyway, I need you to summarize this."
She cocked her head with an annoyed glance. "You know, I'm not your personal servant."
"Yep, I know. But your boss works for my boss, so technically, if you do the math, I'm like your boss."
She glared at him another minute before giving in. "Fine. What needs to be done?"
"Twenty-three pages into two or three, with a lack of you reversing my position," he said, taking a seat in the plastic chair in front of her desk.
Ainsley scanned his 'memo', not daring to bring up that this time, his position didn't look to far off track. "Fine," she repeated. Noticing he hadn't left yet, she spoke up again. "Sam, leave," she commanded.
"Yeah right!" he replied, "And give you the chance to reverse my position. I don't think so, Ainsley."
She sighed, losing patience. "Sam, I will not reverse your position, okay?" He raised an eyebrow and shook his head. "I think I'll just stay and make sure you don't."
He opened his lap top he'd brought down and began typing, glancing over at Ainsley ever so often, to make sure she was still composed for their little 'meeting'.
Over an hour later, Jackson Hewitt entered the room, an apologetic look on his face. "What is it Jackson?" Ainsley asked, while Sam watched, not having any clue as to who he was.
"Ainsley, I'm sorry, but the rest of us, well, we were wondering if you could close your door," he said softly.
"Jackson, it's 103 degrees in here."
"That's the point. Your heating the rest of the floor."
She raised her eyebrow. "The closest office is Tiffany's. She keeps her door closed and music blaring. I doubt she'll notice." Ainsley looked back down at her work, dismissing him. "Ainsley..." he began.
"Fine, just go. I've got things to do," she almost shouted at him. He scurried out of the room, closing the door behind him.
After a few minutes passed she looked up. "Sam, he's gone. Open the door."
He would have put up more of a fight, just to be contrary, but it was sweltering. His undershirt was already soaked through. He could only imagine Ainsley's must have been drenched from being down here so long. 'Woah, where'd that come from?'
Sam walked to the door and turned the knob, having it stop at half turn. He tried again. "Ainsley," he said, his voice growing increasingly panicked. She looked up and told him to try again. "It's stuck. Do you have a key or anything?"
"No," she replied, getting back to her work. "Listen, Sam. Mr. Tribbey will be here in a few hours to pick up the things I was supposed to be working on. We can leave then."
Sam didn't move. "Ainsley," he began, his voice quiet. "I don't do good in small places."
"You were fine earlier," she contradicted.
"But that was when I knew we could get out." This was of course, the perfect time for Tiffany's music to pop on, drowning out any chance of calling for help.
Ainsley raised her head to tell him to chill out, when she realized the genuinely frightened look on his face. She stood and closed the distance between them. "Sam?" she asked quietly. "Hey, it's alright. I'll call someone to come get the door, okay?" She got about a step closer to the phone when the lights buzzed and went out. "Damn it!" she cursed. Managing to stumble over the chair, she reached the lamp and smacked it a few times, resulting in the lights coming back, half way. She gave him an small look. "It happens a lot," she tried to reassure him.
Sam managed a swift nod tried to slow his breathing as Ainsley picked up the phone. Her face was blank for a moment as she listened to the dial tone on the other end. "It must have gone out with the power."
Sam slid to the floor and wrapped his arms around his knees. "Sam, it'll be okay," she said as she sat down next to him. She placed a hand over his arm to try and calm him. No such luck. 'Okay. What do I do? What calms me?'
"Sam!" she began, standing as realization dawned on her. "Want some potato chips?"
He looked at her and couldn't help the smile that spread across his face as Ainsley pulled out a bag of Ruffles from her drawer. "I always knew you had to have a secret stash," he joked.
Ainsley retook her seat next to him and opened the bag. They sat in silence for a while, only interrupted by the crunching of the chips. She looked over at him, surprised to see him still shivering. "Okay, Sam. This is in no way to be misconstrued as me liking you, alright?"
He didn't manage a response. Ainsley reached up and began loosening his tie. "What are you doing?" he asked softly. "What does it look like? I'm taking of your tie and shirt so you won't feel as, you know, restricted or whatnot." He let her slip his tie off and peel him out of his now damp dress shirt.
"What about you? Aren't you hot?" he asked, motioning to her business suit. In reply, she took off her jacket and pulled her hair back in a sloppy ponytail.
Ainsley drew Sam's head down into her lap. For a moment, he was stiff, the relaxed under her touch and stretched out as much as possible. He let her run her hands through his dampened hair and suddenly, the shivers subsided. His muscles relaxed and he thought of how glad he was she was with him.
She looked down at him, continuing to stroke his hair, thinking of how tough he always tried to be, even though he was the baby of the Senior Staff. Now, he was so vulnerable, almost child like. Maybe this was the beginning of a bipartisan understanding on their part.
She watched as his breathing slowed and regulated. She had just made Sam Seaborn fall asleep in her lap. Ainsley almost laughed aloud, but was glad she could provide comfort for him. And he did look like he could use the sleep.
She could hear footsteps coming from the hallway and muffled voices. 'Oh, no. Mr. Tribbey,' she thought. She tried to move but it was to late. The door creaked open and light filtered in from the hall. "Mrs. Hayes," The President announced, shocked at the scene in front of him. Sam was asleep in Ainsley's lap. There were articles of clothing scattered about and a suspicious bag of potato chips.
"Mr. President... sir," she began, then looked down to see if she had awoken Sam, which immediately calmed her. "Sir, what brings you down here?" she asked, her tone visibly more relaxed. She looked over his shoulder to see CJ, Toby, Josh, Leo and Abbey.
"Well," he began, a puzzled look still on his face. "Sam convinced me to meet you again and said he would keep you company until I came, to make sure you stayed calm and didn't start dancing. But then I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if everyone came down to show their support?'. So we did. Although, it looks like we interrupted something."
Ainsley took her prompt. "Sam stayed with me. Then well, we realized the door was locked. Which he doesn't particularly cope well with. So I tried to get him to relax with the uh, chips. Then, I know you've probably realized the temperature down here, so I had him take off his shirt. Sir, I would appreciate it if no one mentioned this to him. It could be extremely embarrassing. And I do know about those sorts of situations."
Sam's body began to stir lightly, to which Ainsley's immediate response was to place her hand back on his head and begin stroking his hair.
"No, no I don't think we will. Ainsley, it was nice seeing you again. And thank you for looking out for our Deputy."
"See," Josh spoke up. "You're getting him out of his famous scraps. You're becoming more and more a part of the team everyday."