38 Hours to Fall In Love

by Lia

Rating: PG
Spoilers: tiny mentions ­ In This White House
Disclaimers: All the characters belong to Aaron Sorkin, John Wells Production and Warner Brothers. No infringement is intended. The following is for fun only.
Author“s Note: Thank you to Pat, who did the quick beta and who has energy to answer my endless questions and keep me up-to-date. I appreciate it. I really do. Hey, I also wanna thank our lovely Channel 4 who shows this great show without long breaks, at least they have done that so far. This is the best show ever! Enjoy the story, and feel free to send some feedback.

Sam Seaborn stood near the bar and took a sip of his second drink. The room was full of people and he smiled politely to the men who walked by. It wasn't even midnight yet and he had a headache and knowing that the President wanted to leave the hotel early in the morning, he would have appreciated a few hours sleep.

Their trip to California had been a big hit and they indeed had a reason to celebrate, but the last few days had been long and exhausting. He finished his drink and waved to the bartender to get him a coffee.

His eyes scanned around the room to see that one reason that kept him sane. Ainsley Hayes stood at a distance with CJ Cregg, the White House Press Secretary, and smiled softly at something that had been said. Her long blonde hair was up, only few strands had escaped to frame her face. The evening gown she wore was deep red and strapless. She looked stunning.

She lifted her head and saw him looking at her. A soft smile crept on her lips and she excused herself from the group.

She started her way to his direction but was stopped shortly by Leo McGarry who soon led her to the dance floor. Sam stared at the couple as they danced, and smiled as he met her eyes over Leo's shoulder.

"Hey." A voice next to him said.

"Hey Josh." Sam smiled tiredly.

"You look tired." Josh commented after a moment of silence.

"I am tired." Sam admitted, running his hand through his hair.

"Okay." Josh nodded understanding. "Have you seen Donna?" He asked changing the subject and looking around the room.

"Yeah, about five minutes ago." Sam answered, letting his eyes settle on the dancing couple once again.

"Was she still mad at me?" His friend asked carefully.

"Yeah." Sam said nodding his head. "Sometimes you can be such an idiot Josh Lyman." He laughed.

"I know." Josh hung his head. "I have to find her and apologize."

"Yes you should."

"Do you know..?"

"She mentioned something about the garden." Sam looked at him and laughed again. "Go on, Josh. She wasn't that mad."

"Yeah?" Josh's eyes lit up. "She looked great, didn't she?"

"Magnificent." Sam said. "Go and fix things, Josh."

"It's hard to believe that you are advising me with my woman problems."

"Woman problems?" Sam's attention returned once again to his friend. "You have a woman problem with Donna? Does that mean that you two..?"

"No." Josh's reply came too quick and Sam smiled. "Your secret is safe with me, my friend." He promised.

"Okay. Thanks, I guess." Josh touched his back. "And for god's sake, go and ask her to dance." He said and nodded to Ainsley's direction before heading to the doors that led out to the garden.

Sam stared after him for a while before he put his coffee cup on the nearest table and started over toward Ainsley who stood now with Toby, Leo and President Bartlet.

"Hey Sam." The President smiled at him. "Are you enjoying the party?"

"It's a nice party, sir." Sam replied.

"You think so?" Jed asked.

"Not really." Sam answered smiling.

"Good, me neither." Jed laughed and then nodded to Toby and Leo. "Come on you two, let's go and see how soon we can leave, I'm starting to get tired and you know how I am when I get tired."

"Cranky, sir?" Toby said helpfully as they walked away, leaving Sam and Ainsley alone.

Sam couldn't take his eyes of the woman in front of him. "You look beautiful." He whispered. "Have I told you that already?"

"Thank you." Ainsley answered almost shyly.

The silence fell between them and Sam forced himself to look around the ball room and to the bar. "Would you like to have something to drink?"

"I'd love to dance." Ainsley suggested softly.

His head snapped at her direction and he smiled. "Come on then." He offered her his arm and led her to the dance floor.

Gathering her into his arms, he sighed deeply as he felt her relaxing and placing her head on his shoulder. He closed his eyes and inhaled her sweet scent.

"This feels so right." He heard her whispering and tightened his hold.

"I have wanted to hold you in my arms since I first met you." He said softly.

She lifted her head from his shoulder and smiled at him. "I doubt that Mr Seaborn."

"Yeah, I was lying." He said smiling. "I didn't like getting my ass kicked by a girl in a live TV show."

She laughed at that and placed her head back on his shoulder. "I'm sorry about that." She said.

"Well, I'm sorry how we treated you first." He said seriously.

"It's all in a past now," she whispered softly.

"Yes, it is." He pulled back and moved his hand up to her face.

Their eyes locked and one short moment it was only two of them in that room. He broke the silent first. "This is not a place nor the time." He whispered huskily.

"No, it's not." She said and rested her head on his shoulder again.

The song ended and he took her arm and walked them away from the crowded dance floor.

"Sam, Ainsley," Toby walked to them. "The President is ready to leave."

"Thank god." Sam said and reached for Ainsley's hand.

They followed Toby toward rest of the President's party and after few minutes the secret Service agents led them out and up to their own private floor.

Sam and Ainsley walked behind everybody else, his hand still holding hers. They stopped to his door, and he turned her to face him.

"I don't want to hurry you." He started gently.

"I'd like to come in." She said softly, surprising herself with her strong voice. "If you want me to."

"God, I want nothing more." He whispered and opened the door, letting her to step in first.

He closed the door behind them and she walked to the big window, staring out to the city lights. "It's so beautiful." She said whispering.

"Yes, it is." Sam walked behind her and wrapped his arms around her.

She turned around and lifted her face. So slowly he brought his lips onto hers and the first touch was gentle and sweet. Soon he dared to deepen the kiss and her arms went around his neck, pulling him closer to her. Her lips parted, gently inviting him in, and he wrapped his arms around her waist tighter.

The need of air made them pull apart and they both breathed heavily. He rested his forehead against hers and placed a soft kiss on the corner of her eye.

"I want you." He whispered softly.

"I'm yours." She answered, lifting her eyes to meet his and giving him the silent permission to go on.

He backed them toward the king size bed and broke off their kiss to unzip her dress. He kissed the exposing skin as his fingers worked with the zipper. The dress fell on her feet and she kicked it away. She took off her heels and stood in front of him only in her underwear.

The pale moon light danced on her fair skin and he took a step back. "You are so beautiful." He whispered and then lifted her in his arms and placed her in the middle of the bed.

He got rid of his own clothes in a record time and soon they were kissing again. He had never before felt such a passion, such a need he felt now, with that woman he adored. He never broke the eye contact with her and when their bodies and souls became one, he kissed the falling tear away from her cheek and whispered gentle words in her ear, knowing he had lost his heart to the woman in his arms.

* * * * *

The first rays of sun peaked between the curtains as Sam Seaborn woke up the next morning. He turned his head on his right, only to see a pair of eyes staring at him.

"Morning." He smiled and reached to kiss her softly.

"Hey." She whispered happily and snuggled closer to him.

"What time is it?" Sam asked, reaching for his watch from the night stand.

"It's still early." Ainsley answered. "But I think I should leave soon."

"Why?" He turned on his side and pulled her closer to him.

"Well, what do you think rest of the senior staff will say if they see me coming from your room, in the same dress I wore last night?"

"Who cares." He nuzzled against her neck.

"Sam." She giggled and to Sam, it was the most sweetest voice in the world.

"Okay." He pulled back and eyed her playfully. "What was started here, we go and finish in your room, that way they don't have to be shocked you coming out of my room."

She reached for the pillow and hit him with that. He grabbed the pillow before she had a chance to do that again and pinned her between the mattress and himself.

The smile died on his face as he looked at her eyes. "You're not sorry about this, are you?" He heard himself asking.

"No." Her hand brushed his face. "I'm not." She smiled softly.

A sigh of relief left from his lips before he kissed her. "Good."

They cuddled as long as they could before she slipped in his over size bathrobe and gathered her clothes in her arms.

He walked her into the door and peeked out to the hall. "There's two agents there, but you don't have to worry about them." He whispered.

"Okay," she reached to kiss him before opened the door.

An opening door across the hall made her pull the door ajar. Donna Moss stepped out of the room, but was quickly pulled back in. Ainsley watched smiling as Donna backed away from the room and Josh following her, his arms around her waist. Their kiss seemed to last forever before he let her go. With one last kiss she sneaked back in her own room. Josh waited until she got the door open and then disappeared in his own room a smile on his face.

"Sam." Ainsley giggled as she pulled back from the door. "I saw Donna sneaking out of Josh's room."

"Really? Well, good for them." Sam smiled, genuinely happy for his best friend.

"Okay, I should go." Ainsley said finally and opened the door.

Sam wrapped his arms around her waist and gave her a long kiss before let her go. "I'll see you in couple of hours." He whispered and like Josh had done with Donna, he waited until she had disappeared in her own room.

"Good morning Mr Seaborn." One of the agents said as he walked closer and saw him standing in the open doorway.

"Morning Steve." Sam smiled and closed to door.

* * * * *

A few hours later Sam stood with Josh and Leo in the lobby waiting others.

"You look happy." Sam said quietly to Josh when Leo answered his phone and they were left alone.

"I am happy." Josh answered. "I am a man in my best age. I am doing the job I love, the job I am good at. My day started great. What's not to be happy about?"

Sam laughed at him and patted his back. "Why on earth did you two not get together earlier?"

Josh's face fell but then he smiled. "Tell me about it."

Toby walked in yawning, CJ following him and looking as tired as he did.

"What on earth did you two do all night?" Leo asked as he eyed the two of them.

"Leo." Toby gave him a warning look.

"No seriously." Leo ignored the glare and looked at CJ.

"We were playing, okay." She admitted, too tired to lie or avoid the Chief of Staff.

"Kinky." Josh said from the couch he sat.

"Shut up."

"Good morning." Charlie stepped in and smiled at Toby and CJ.

"Go away." CJ looked up from her seat next to Josh.

Sam gave Charlie a questing look and the young man shrugged his shoulders.

"I beat them in a poker last night."

Everything that was said after that didn't reach Sam's ears. He saw Ainsley walking in with Donna, both women talking quietly and smiling happily.

"Morning." Sam walked to them and looked first at Donna, nodding slightly at Josh's direction, letting her know he knew.

Donna blushed and mumbled her excuse before going over where Josh sat and sitting down next to him. No one saw as his hand touched softly her thigh as she sat down. No one saw the smile they shared, nor the heat in their eyes. It wasn't obvious to those who didn't know. But as Sam looked at them, he knew, and he saw all those little gestures that told him his best friend had fallen in love.

He turned his attention back to the woman in front of him and smiled. "Hey."

"Hey." She replied, blushing slightly.

She had showered and changed a comfortable clothes for their flight. She had never liked flying, but sitting first time in the Air Force One, she had enjoyed the flight for the first time in her life.

"Good morning everybody," Jed greeted and everybody stood up. "Have you looked outside? This is going to be a beautiful day." He smiled and took a sip of his coffee.

"Yes sir." Josh agreed and got several looks from the other people. "What, I'm an outdoor person."

"Uh-huh," CJ stared at him before turned her attention back to the President. "Sir, the press wants to know if they could get a few minutes alone with Zoey when she arrives. Her birthday---"

"No," Jed shook his head. "I have made clear the rules of the day and we don't change them."

"Yes, sir." CJ nodded.

"What's next?" Jed asked. "Nothing? Good, let's go."

"Sir, there's few things we need to talk about." Toby said quietly when they were escorted out.

"Okay, we talk in the car. Sam, you come with us too." Jed called as they stepped out. The cheering people got what they wanted as the President waved and stopped shake hands.

The President turned to wave at the people once more before stepping in the limo. Ainsley smiled softly at Sam as he glanced to her direction before fallowing Toby and Charlie in.

"Ainsley," Leo called her. "You come with us."

She nodded and fallowed CJ inside the limo. They waited for Josh who gave some autographs to the young women.

"What can I say?" He grinned as he stepped in and sat next to Donna. "The people love me."

He laughed at their glaring and then leaned back on the seat, his hand touching lightly at Donna's. Ainsley smiled to herself as she saw the gesture. She turned her head to stare out to the passing scenes of waking Los Angeles as the motorcade started its way slowly toward the airport.

* * * * *

It was still fair early when the President's party settled in the hotel in San Francisco. Sam threw his jacket on the nearest chair and suitcase on the bed. He had been re-writing the President's speech through the whole flight and now his head hurt. He changed khaki pants and a black sweater and lay down on the bed and closed his eyes.

A knock from the door made him groan. "It's open, Cathy." He called and his assistant opened the door carefully and stepped in.

"You and Toby have a meeting with Congressman Ryan at three." Cathy sat on the nearest chair.

"What else?"

"That's all." Cathy smiled.

"Nothing else?" Sam opened one eye and looked at her with suspicion.

"Nothing else." She assured.


"And Margaret called to tell you that you and Josh don't have to come to the one o¹clock meeting at the City Hall."

"Thank god." Sam said happily.

Cathy smiled. "So, will you need me or can I go to shopping with Bonnie and Ginger?"

"Have fun," Sam smiled. "And check with Ron if you can get an agent with you. I don't feel comfortable you three wandering around the city by yourselves."

"Sure." Cathy promised and took her notebook. "You look tired. Try to relax a little."

"I will." Sam said and closed the door after her.

He walked to the window and watched the city below. He didn't hear Ainsley's quiet knock nor her opening the door. He jumped a little when she wrapped her arms around his waist and leaned her face against his back.

"I knocked but you didn't hear." She said softly when he turned around to kiss her.

"I was just thinking." He wrapped his arms around her waist and hugged her closer.

She leaned against his chest and closed her eyes. "Nothing too serious I hope."

He smiled and kissed her forehead before pulling back. "No. Nothing too serious."

"Are you coming to the City Hall with us today?" Ainsley walked to the bed and sat down.

"You're going?" Sam followed her.

"Yeah, I just talked with Leo."

"Great." He frowned. "No, I'm not coming."

"Oh," the disappointment in her eyes lasted only a short time but Sam saw that.

"But, I can finish my work here while you're gone and I do have a meeting at three, but after that, I am all yours." He leaned to kiss her ear.

"All mine?" She whispered and bent her head back. "I like that."

He nodded and pushed her gently on the bed, lying down next to her. An hour later she sat up and looked at Sam who had his arms behind his head and eyes closed. He wasn't sleeping, just simply enjoying himself.

"Sam?" She asked.

"Yeah?" He didn't open his eyes.

"I'm craving some ice cream."

"You are?"

"Yes, strawberry and maybe vanilla."

"Really?" He opened his eyes and looked at her. "Now?" He asked as he saw her waiting look.

"Yes. Come on," she stood up on the bed and grabbed his hand to pull him up.

He took her hand and pulled her down in his lap. "I'm craving something else." He kissed the sensitive skin below her ear and shivers went through her body.

"And what's that?" She asked whispering.

"You." He replied and kissed her passionately. "Only you my love."

She giggled and fell on her back pulling him down with her. She looked at him seriously and lifted her fingers to touch his cheek. "You have me, Sam."

Much later when she had disappeared in her own room to get ready for the meeting at the City Hall, Sam lay on the bed listening the silence. He had fallen in love with her, he knew that now. He had missed her closeness at the second he had closed the door after her.

* * * * *

It was much smaller occasion than it was the night before but Sam enjoyed the night. He had hardly exchanged a word with Ainsley that night, but he had watched her from the other side of the room. Her hair fell freely on her shoulders and little diamond pins kept it away from her face. Her dress hung perfectly on her and Sam was as if he was hypnotised as he followed her every step.

"If I didn't know better, I would say you're stalking her." Josh offered him a drink and let his eyes follow his to see where he was looking. "Yup, definitely stalking her."

"I can't take my eyes off of her." He admitted softly. "I have never felt like this before. I want to give her everything. She deserves so much. So much more than I can give her."

"Yes, she does. They deserve better than us, but I guess that's the challenge." Josh said, his eyes softening when he found Donna.

"You love her, don't you?" Sam asked quietly.

"With all my heart." Josh replied without blinking an eye. "She's great. I can not imagine my life without her anymore."

Sam smiled at him and returned his attention back to Ainsley who talked with Toby and CJ.

"Look at her. She's so beautiful."

"She is." Josh admitted, giving a quick glance at the other woman before settling his eyes back to the one he loved.

"We've been together less than 24 hours. How can I feel so strongly for her?" Sam asked quietly.

"That's, my friend, is amore." Josh patted his back and smiled.

Sam gave him a smile and nodded his head. "I'm in love."

"Yes you are." Josh chuckled and shook his head smiling.

He soon excused himself and Sam watched him to made his way to Donna's side and reaching for her hand. He leaned to whisper something in her ear and she looked at him her eyes shining brightly. He led her to the dance floor and wrapped his arm around her waist, allowing himself to lean closer and place a soft kiss on the side of her forehead. Sam smiled a the sight and then turned around to see Ainsley walking to his direction.

He met her halfway and gave up to urge to kiss her. "You look so beautiful." He whispered and kissed the corner of her mouth.

She blushed and took his offered hand and let him led her out to the terrace. They stopped into the shadows and he wrapped his arms around her, placing a soft kiss on her lips.

They heard the music coming from inside and he took her hand and brought it on his lips, kissing her palm gently. She leaned against him and they danced slowly under the stars that covered the dark sky.

"I have never felt like this before." She whispered. "I'm happy."

"You deserve so much more." He said quietly and kissed her hair. "You deserve more than I can ever give you."

"Sam." Her voice cracked and a few tears fell on her cheeks.

"You deserve the moon and the stars from the sky. You deserve everything the world can offer." He pulled back and looked at her eyes.

"Can I have you?" Her whisper was barely audible. "I want only you."

"Ainsley." He whispered and gave her a long, loving kiss. "You have me."

He hold her tight against him and closed his eyes. The moment was perfect and Sam vowed he would do anything to keep that woman he loved so much happy.

It wasn't until the chilly evening breeze made Ainsley shiver when he led her back inside. They joined Josh and Donna and watched as the President danced with his daughter.

"Look how beautiful she is." Donna said as Zoey smiled shyly at the people around her.

"That she is." Josh nodded and turned to look at her, bringing her hand to his lips. "And so are you." He whispered.

The song ended and Jed returned his daughter to Charlie who took her in his arms and led her back into the dance floor. Jed offered his hand to CJ and Leo bowed to the First Lady. The longing sigh from Ainsley made Sam grin and he stood up and took her hand. Josh and Donna followed them to the crowd.

The rest of the evening went fast and both Sam and Ainsley enjoyed the party. It was late when the President finally told them he was going to rest with his wife. Leo, Toby and CJ among few assistants decided to continue the party upstairs.

Charlie and Zoey sneaked away to be alone and several Secret Service agents following their every step.

Sam found Ainsley talking with Donna and walked to her side. "Hey."

"Hey," her face broke into a soft smile.

"Donna, Josh was looking for you." Sam glanced quickly at her and nodded his head the way he had come.

"Well, I think I better go and find him then." She said, the tone of her voice telling that she was eager to find out what he wanted. "Good night."

"Night Donna." Sam said and watched her to go for a moment before returning his eyes back to Ainsley.

"Are you tired?" She asked and ran her fingers on his face.

"A little." He admitted and captured her hand with his. "Come on." He smiled at her and led her toward the elevator.

Her room was closer and soon he kicked the door close and backed her to the bed. His jacket fell on the floor and her fingers worked with the buttons of his shirt. But he took her trembling hands in his own and kissed the tips of her fingers.

"If it's okay by you, I'd like to hold you tonight." He lowered his eyes.

"I'd love that." She whispered and undressed quickly. She climbed in the bed and spooned against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight.

She was almost asleep when she heard him whispering in her ear. "I love you Ainsley."

The tears stayed back and she brought their linked hands under her chin. "I love you too." She whispered and kissed his hand.

* * * * *

Jed Bartlet stood quietly and looked at his staff. They were sleeping even the plane hit the turbulence from time to time. He was proud of them. The last days had been exhausting to all of them, and he had heard no complaining.

He saw Zoey sleeping peacefully in the arms of Charlie Young, the man who worked for him and adored his daughter. For some reason, Zoey liked to sit with the senior staff more than spending time in the private section of the plane.

In the other side of the aisle, CJ Cregg slept her head on Toby Ziegler's shoulder and his arm around her waist. His jacket covered them lightly, but they didn't seem to be cold. So rarely Jed had a chance to see Toby relaxed. And maybe it was the fact they were heading back home, or that he held that wonderful woman he cared so much in his arms, that point, it didn't matter.

Behind Toby and CJ, lay Josh Lyman on the comfortable couch, Donna Moss right next to him. Her head on his chest, as listening every beat of his heart. He held her like a precious cargo, one arm around her waist and the other under his head. Josh had a special place in Jed's heart. They had once almost lost him, and the pain and worry Jed had gone through during those hours had made him see the love in Donna's eyes as she sat waiting the news about that man. Jed had always knew they would end up together. Who else would put up with that man?

Jed smiled softly and turned his head to see the last two people of his staff. Sam Seaborn and Ainsley Hayes. Both sleeping peacefully in each other's arms. To Jed, Sam had looked stressed out for last weeks, but there was no sign of that on his face anymore. Maybe it's was the way he held that beautiful woman in his arms. So lovingly. Or maybe it was the look in Ainsley's face when she moved closer to him and relaxed next to the man she loved. It was so obvious. Last time Jed had seen that look in the woman's face was when he had proposed his wife, and everyday after that. Every time she looked at him, he knew that the smile on her face, was the same she saw in his.

A quiet foot steps made him turn around and he looked at Leo's tired, but smiling face.

"They look so relaxed." Jed told him.

"They had a long week." Leo replied quietly.

"You did a great job there. All of you."

"Thank you Mr President." Leo turned his eyes to meet his friends.

"I am very proud of you. And I must tell that to all of you more often."

"Yes, sir."

"We have a good team."

"That we do." Leo nodded and looked at the sleeping people behind them.

"I'm going to try and get some rest." Jed lay his hand on Leo's shoulder. "You do the same."

"I will Mr President."

"And when we land, give them the rest of the day off. The United States of America won't fall apart if they sleep little longer."

"Yes, sir." Leo nodded smiling.

"And Leo." Jed turned from the door.

"Yes, sir?"

"I'm glad to have you by my side."

"I am too, Jed." Leo said softly and closed his eyes. "I am too."


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