Someone to Talk Toby Nikki
Disclaimer: They're not mine. They belong to Aaron Sorkin and company.
"Sagittarius," Sam told the agent guarding the door, who moved aside to let him pass.
Sam was startled to see C.J. sitting in the room, flipping through a pile of papers. "C.J."
"Hmm?" she murmured absently, without looking up.
"What're you doing here?" No answer. "C.J.?"
She looked up, seeming surprised to see him standing in front of her. "Yeah?"
"I said, why are you still here?"
"Just reading some transcripts of my old briefings," C.J. mumbled, focused again on the papers.
"I just came to grab my briefcase," Sam explained, although it was clear she wasn't listening to him. "I'm leaving now," he added, waiting for a response. When he got none, he gave a sigh of frustration and headed out the door, nodding to the agent as he passed.
Sam threaded his way through the halls of the basement, frustrated with C.J.'s behavior. He stopped and backtracked as he passed an open door.
He stepped inside and closed the door behind him.
Ainsley looked up from her desk, surprised. "Sam?"
"Hi. Come on in," she invited with a smile. Sam made himself comfortable in one of the chairs facing her desk. "What brings you down to the dungeon of the White House?"
"I was just...uh...walking around. Looking for someone to talk to, I guess." He fidgeted nervously in his seat.
"Okay," Ainsley drew out. She waited. "Sam?"
"Yeah. Ainsley, do you...I mean, if you...pick up things, working here, do they..." Ainsley's eyes narrowed. "I mean, do you -"
"Do I relay information from the White House back to Ann Stark?" Ainsley demanded, her eyes flashing, her tone accusatory. "Is that what you're asking?"
"Yeah," Sam replied sheepishly.
"No, Sam, I don't. And I resent the implication that I do. I resent the implication that I'm just a Republican spy behind enemy lines - a mole, who picks up information and sends it back to the home base. You want to check the office for bugs? You want to frisk me, see if I'm wearing a wire?" She stood up, pushing her chair against the wall angrily.
Sam flushed. "No."
"You guys think I'm working here for the express purpose of finding out your secrets, because there's no other reason why I would possibly want to work in a Democratic White House, is there? When are you guys going to learn that I'm not the enemy, I'm just a lawyer?"
Sam snorted. "Same difference."
"I am not the enemy, Sam. And if you think I am, then I think you need to take a good long look at yourself, because I think the problem is you. You guys preach the 'spirit of bipartisanship,'" she went on, "but in here I can see through the act. There's the door, Sam," she finished triumphantly.
"Okay." Sam got up and started to head out the door.
Ainsley sighed. "Sam."
He turned around cautiously. "Yeah?"
"I apologize. I jumped to conclusions and reacted without thinking. You wanted to talk to me?"
"I did, yeah."
"I'm sorry. Shall we start again?"
Sam sat down again.
"What's going on?" she asked casually, her anger gone.
"Ainsley," Sam hedged. "I need to know that you won't repeat this conversation to anyone."
Ainsley held up two fingers. "Scout's honor."
Ainsley cocked her head to one side and looked at him suspiciously. "Sam, is this something you're not supposed to be telling me?"
Sam laughed derisively. "No, I'm not supposed to be telling you this. But you know what - this wasn't supposed to happen either. None of this was supposed to happen. My best friend wasn't supposed to get shot. My father wasn't supposed to have an affair. And this - he wasn't supposed to...he wasn't supposed to have lied to us."
Ainsley looked slightly uncomfortable. "Sam, maybe this is the kind of thing you should be talking to Josh, or to C.J. about, not to me."
"I can't. They're too...focused. They're focused on damage control, and they can't see past that. Everyone's too focused on what's going to happen, and how we can stop it, and...and I just need to talk to someone who's not a part of it."
"Okay." She looked at him. "So?"
Sam looked suddenly troubled. "Ainsley, if I tell you this, you're going to have to see a lawyer eventually. Soon."
"I am a lawyer, Sam."
"I mean a White House Counsel."
"I'm that too."
She shrugged. "So I'll see a lawyer. Sam, tell me what's going on."
Sam took a deep breath and leaned back. "President Bartlet has...Eight years ago he...President Bartlet is sick," Sam blurted out.
Ainsley looked at him, concern etched across her fine features. "Sick?"
Sam looked down at his hands. "Yeah."
"Is it serious?"
"Is it," Ainsley gulped, "fatal?"
"Yeah." Her heart sank.
"Is it," Ainsley winced at the familiarity of the word, "cancer?"
"No." He looked up at her, his blue eyes shiny with tears. She exhaled with relief.
"What is it?" Ainsley asked, not wanting to hear the answer.
"MS," Sam replied quietly.
"Yeah. It's a problem with the central nervous system."
She nodded. "I know."
"For how long has he had it?"
"He was diagnosed eight years ago."
"And he's been able to keep it a secret? How has no one noticed?"
Sam sighed and rubbed his forehead. "It's in the remission stage now -"
"- But it could turn into full-fledged multiple sclerosis any time," she finished, understanding.
"Yeah." Sam looked sadder than she'd ever seen him. "He lied to us," Sam added suddenly.
"To me. To my - to the staff. The American people. He lied to all of us," Sam pointed out angrily.
Ainsley started to say something, but Sam continued.
"I respected him, you know. His integrity, his honesty. Until I found out that he'd been lying to us for twenty-eight years."
"You told me it was eight years."
Sam blinked, confused. "What was eight years?"
"That he'd had the disease. You just said twenty-eight."
"I meant eight."
"Eight years, he had this...disease. This disease living in an apartment in Santa Monica."
"An apartment in Santa Monica? Sam, are you drunk?"
Sam looked at her sadly. "No, I'm not. I'm more sober than I've ever been in my life."
"What's in an apartment in Santa Monica?"
"My father's mistress."
Ainsley was at a loss for words. "I - I see."
"He lied to us. To me. To my mother. Twenty-eight years, he had this mistress living in an apartment in Santa Monica. And I respected him so much. His integrity, his honesty." Sam's shoulders began to shake as the tears began to overflow.
Ainsley came around her desk to comfort him. "It's okay, Sam." She let him cry it out until he looked up at her dejectedly.
"There's going to be a thing."
"The President? Or..."
"The President. There's going to be a hearing to find out if he broke any laws by not telling the American people."
"And the other thing?" she asked gently.
Sam sighed. "There will probably be a hearing for that too. To find out if he broke any hearts by not telling his family."
"I'm sorry, Sam," Ainsley said simply. "Anything I can do to help?"
"You already helped." Sam picked up his briefcase and stood up. "Thanks for listening."
"You're welcome. But still, Sam, you should talk to one of your friends about this."
Sam smiled. "I just did."