Deserted Island

by Puck and Zillah

Spoilers: Nothing really.
Note: Look, we can write something that's not just people talking. < g > This is part of no series, set some time in the future, We figure if Sam can have two women fight over him, why can't Ainsley have two men?

Sam propped the phone between his shoulder and his ear and taped up another cardboard box. "Did you find a place yet?"

He heard her sigh. "Not yet. But I have a couple leads. You?"

"Possibly. But I have to see it in person. I was thinking of buying a house, but I can't afford two mortgages, and I can't sell my house out here."

"Why can't you sell that house?"

"I still have to, technically, live in my district."

"Oh yeah. Well, I have my sister moving into my place her. She's subletting. I'm not ready for a house, though."

"What about what's-his-name?"

"Dan. And I'm not ready to move in with him."

"Is he staying in Charlotte?"

"He hasn't decided. Maybe in a few months he'll move up."

"Long distance is rough, you know."

"It's not that far. We can fly on weekends."

"Trust me, it's hard."

"We'll figure it out."

"Well, if it doesn't, you do know I have a line of friends who want to sleep with you."

"That's good to know. I'll keep it in mind."

"I have to get back to packing. . .I'll call you when I get to DC, all right?"

"Great. I'll talk to you then."

Sam hung up the phone and went back to packing.

Two days later his phone rang as he was still packing. "I found a place!"

"Really? Have you see in yet?"

"Just pictures. I'm going tomorrow. It's in NorthWest, off of embassy row."

"Are you kidding? The place I'm looking at is on Dupont."

"Turns out one of Dan's old frat brothers is a real estate agent in the district. He found the place for me. You want me to ask for you?"

"No, I'm okay."

"Okay. I'm moving in at the end of the week. Come see it when you get out here."

"I promise."

"Great." He could hear her smile over the phone. "How's packing?"

"It's not hard as long as you remain organized."

"You have like a list, don't you?"

"Of course I have a list."

"You're adorable."

"Are you saying you don't have a list?"

"No. I'm going from room to room, filling boxes and putting them by the front door. Dan comes twice a day and loads the moving van."

"And then when you get to DC and discover you have twelve wine glasses but no corkscrew, I will be able to laugh."

"Because they don't sell corkscrews in DC."

"Going out for one right before dinner is as awkward as the middle of the night condom run."

"I'll be sure to check before it becomes and issue."

"You'll forget."

"I'm not one hundred percent sure I own a corkscrew now. I'm not a wine drinker."

"You really should be. I'll bring over a good bottle so we can celebrate our mutual congressperson-ness."

"I'd like that."

His first night back in DC, before he even unpacked, he brought the best bottle of Chardonnay he could find to her door. She opened the door, dressed in sweatpants that hung off her hips and a man's dress shirt with only two buttons buttoned. A scarf covered her hair. She was obviously still unpacking. She grinned at him. "Hi there."

"I brought wine." He held up the bottle.

She laughed. "I have a corkscrew." She held the door open. "Come in."

"Nice place." He looked at the haphazardly stacked boxes. "I love what you've done with the decor."

"I'm one woman unpacking an entire apartment."

"All I have is two suitcases and sleeping bag."

"How very organized of you." She led him into the kitchen, which was mostly unpacked.

"The moving truck should be here in the morning. Hopefully."

"I'll cross my fingers for you. Would we like snacks without wine?"

"You have food already?" She looked at him like he'd just asked if he was breathing. "Right. Whatcha got?"

"Cookies. Chips. Muffins."

"Of course."

She made a face at him and brought some muffins over to the table.

He took one. "Thank you."

She sat in one of the chairs, curling up. "So now we're congresspeople."

"Kinda scary, isn't it?"

"Hell yeah."

"I hope we can do some good," he said softly.

"Yeah. That'd be nice."

"That'll be harder from your minority position," he said with a grin.

She stuck her tongue out at him. "I'll make up for it with being loud."

"So where's what's-his-name?"

"*Dan* is in Charlotte. He's coming up next week to look for a job."

"But he's not moving in here?"

"We're discussing it. Perhaps on a temporary basis."

"You think he'll pop the question?"

"May-be," she singsonged. "We'll have to see."

"I knew it."

"Did you?"

"Yeah. It's so definitely shit or get off the pot time."

She grinned. "Much as I hate that metaphor. . . yeah, it really is."

"And you'll say yes?"


Sam considered this. "Why?"

She shrugged. "I love him. I see us together the rest of our lives."

Sam looked down at his muffin. "Well. . .congratulations, then."

"Thank you." She nibbled on her muffin, then got her corkscrew out. "Shall we toast?"

He opened the bottle and poured them each a glass. He raised his. "To you and what's-his-name."

She made a face and clinked her glass to his and sipped. He frowned and gulped his.

"Any Mrs. Seaborns on the horizon."


"You have time."

"I know."

She studied him. "You okay?"

"I'm fine."

She didn't look convinced but she didn't say anything, simply pouring herself another glass of wine.

They drank in silence.

* * *

As they were filing out at the end of the day Ainsley jogged to catch up with Sam. She grinned as she took his sleeve. "Hey."

"Hi. How was your day?"

She beamed. "Good. Yours?"

"Got the office all sorted out."

"Bit by bit. You know me. I like to let my office accrue stuff over time."

"No pipes, though, right?"

"Not a one."

He grinned. "You want to get dinner?"

"I'd love to. We can talk about our cool new jobs."

"Sounds good."

"The Ethiopian place?"

"Woman after my own heart."

"I've missed it."

"No Ethiopian food in North Carolina?"

"No good Ethiopian food in North Carolina."

"Yeah, well, there's no good Mexican food in DC."

"I'm sorry."

"Yeah. I had a quesadilla for lunch today that had bacon in it."


"Wait. . .you're actually rejecting a bacon laden food?"

"It just seems wrong. They didn't have bacon in Mexico I don't think."

He laughed out loud. "Do you even know what good Mexican food tastes like?"

"I've eaten in Texas."

"Okay. . .that's acceptable."

"Good to know."

He offered her his arm. "Shall we?"

She slid her arms around his. "Yes."

* * *

Ainsley got home from a long day at work to see a familiar Porsche sitting outside her building. In the lobby was her boyfriend of two years. She grinned and threw herself at him. "I missed you."

"I missed you, too."

She kissed his cheek as he put her down. "How long are you here?" she asked, leading him to the elevator.

"Hopefully for good."

She blinked, then bounced. "Really? That's great."

He took her hand as they got out of the elevator. He looked. . .nervous, and he wasn't an easy person to rattle. She led him to her apartment and let him in. "You want some wine? Or some snacks?"

"Wine is good, thanks."

She pulled it out of the fridge and got two glasses out. She set them on the table and poured it.

"How's congress?"

She beamed. "It's great. I love it, it's great. I feel like I'm doing so much good."

"That's wonderful."

She sipped her wine. "So did you find a job up here?"

"Actually. . .I'm thinking of going into Private practice."

She grinned. "Really? That's great. That'll be so good for you."

"I want to have more free time."

"I've been worried about your stress levels."

"Well, it's not just that, it's. . .us."

She blinked. "Us?"

"Yeah, I. . .you know I had a whole speech planned, and I just . . .I want to spend my time with you. All my time. My whole life. Wow, I'm really screwing this up." He sighed. "I'm trying to ask you to marry me."

She covered her mouth with a hand. "Oh, Dan. . . yes."

He blinked. "Really?"

She wrapped her arms around him. "Yes."

"I have a ring."

"Really?" she squeaked.

"Of course." He took the box out of his pocket.

She started to cry when she saw it. He slid it on her finger and she kissed him deeply.

"I love you," he whispered.

"I love you, too, Dan."

"Feel like going out for dinner? Or ordering in?"

She smiled, kissing him deeply. "Let's stay in."

"Mmm, sounds good."

She kissed him again. * * * * * Ainsley was downright giddy when she went into work the next day. She was walking on air and nothing could bring her down. Until she showed Sam the ring after session.

He frowned. "So he finally did it, huh?"

"Last night. He came over and he was all nervous. He went into this speech he'd had prepared, then he just said it."

"He just asked? Just like that?"

"Yeah. Oh, and he's moving here. He's going into private practice."

"So I'll actually get to meet this guy?"

"Yes, of course. I want you to meet him."

"Can I be in the wedding?"

She grinned. "OF course. I was hoping you'd be my maid of honor."

"Do I have to wear a dress?"

"No. You can wear a tux."


"Would you have worn a dress if I'd asked?"



"All of this is assuming he's good enough for you."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I have to make sure he's good enough for you."

She looked at him. "He has to pass muster?"


"You think there's a chance he won't?"

He sighed. "No, I suppose not."

She smiled. "Good. How about Friday? Come over to my house, I'll make dinner."


"Great." She pecked his cheek. "See you tomorrow." She dashed off.

He stared after her, still feeling the warmth of her lips against his skin.

Dan was sitting at the kitchen table as Ainsley cooked. "Are you sure I can't help?"

"Daniel, the last time you helped me cook I had to throw out half a chicken."

"That's a valid point. There's nothing I can do?"

The doorbell rang. "Go let Sam in."

He sighed and got up to answer the door.

Sam blinked, surprised when a man answered the door. So this was. . .him.

They eyed each other a moment, then Dan held his hand out. "Hi. I'm Dan."

He shook it. "Sam."

"Ainsley's finishing dinner. Come on in." He let him in and they went to the kitchen together.

Ainsley looked up from the stove as they entered. An odd expression crossed her face as she looked at them. They were very. . . similar. She'd never noticed that before. She shook her head and held an arm out for Sam. "Hi there."

He hugged her carefully. "Hi."

She beamed. "Dinner is in two minutes. Have a seat, we're casual tonight."

"Would you like some wine?" Dan asked, offering the bottle.

"Sure." He looked at the wine bottle. "Ainsley, you're still working on this bottle? You're such a lightweight."

She turned the stove off and started pouring gravy into a boat. "I told you I'm not a wine drinker."

"You bought her the wine?"

"We christened the apartment with it. You know I can't pick wine." She put the gravy and a salad on the table, then went back for the mashed potatoes.

"I can't tell you how many bottles of wine people sent me as gifts. I happened to like this particular winery so I ordered more."

"No one ever sends me wine," Ainsley said. She put the rest of the food on the table and sat down, accepting her wine from Dan.

"What do you get for gifts in North Carolina? Cigarettes?"

She frowned at him. "I get fruit baskets sometimes. Mainly I get money."

"I get all sorts of weird things. Though nothing even remotely like the stuff Josh gets."

"Lord, what does he get?"

"After his confirmation, a woman from Kentucky sent him a horse." Sam looked at Dan. "Josh Lyman, my other best friend-- he's the Secretary of Health and Human Services-- for some reason collects groupies. He got gifts when we worked at the White House, too. Always from women."

Dan nodded. "Ainsley's told me stories about him. About all of you."

She shrugged. "How many people have stories that begin 'One day at the White House. . .'"

"Now we have congress stories, too."

She grinned. "Our kids will be so bored with government stories."

Dan laughed. "Between the two of us they'll reject politics and medicine."

"Politics gets in your blood."

"Maybe it'll be hereditary," Dan said with a fond look at Ainsley.

She smiled. "You want congressmen babies?"

"If they're yours."

Sam looked down at his wineglass. Ainsley looked embarrassed and ate, turning the topic to something less personal.

She and Sam lapsed into shop talk, leaving Dan a tad confused, especially when they started to argue.

"I don't believe you," she said, clearing the dishes. "The bill is so unconstitutional it's laughable."

"Only with your interpretation!"

"There isn't another interpretation."

"There's mine."

"Which is ignoring the whole second half if you don't think it's unconstitutional!"


"It *is,* Sam."

Dan frowned at her. She'd said Sam the same way she said his name when trying to talk him into something. Long and drawling with a little bit of exasperation.

"I think we're boring your fiance."

She looked at Dan. "Oh, sugar, I'm sorry." She kissed the top of his head. "We get together and we go off. Just tell me when we lose you."

He put an arm around her waist and gave her a kiss. "Don't worry about it. You're cute when you argue."

"I should get going," Sam said.

Ainsley blinked at him. "There's dessert."

"I'm not really hungry."

"You okay?"

"Just tired. Long day, you know?"

"Yeah. I understand." She walked him to the door. "I'll see you Monday, then?"

"Okay Have a good night."

She kissed his cheek. "You too. Bye."

* * *

"I need someone to help me pick out my wedding dress," Ainsley informed him over dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.

"And you're asking me."

"Well, Dan's not supposed to see it. And you have great fashion sense."

"I;m not gay."

"I didn't say you were but you have great fashion sense." He made a noise of protest. She looked at him. "What's the difference between Shetland Lambswool and regular lambswool?"

"Well, Sheltand lambswool comes from the region in . . ." He frowned. "Okay."

She smiled. "Will you help me?"

"Yes," he said with a long-suffering sigh.

She bounced in her seat. "Thank you."

"I'm sure we'll find something what-his-name will love."

"I'm sure we will."

Sam sighed and picked at his cheesecake.

"What's wrong, Sam?"


"Don't give me that. And don't play the 'I'm fine' game. What's up?"

"Sometimes it's really nothing."

"It doesn't sound like nothing."

"How about it's personal."

She frowned. "You can't tell me?"

"I just don't feel like discussing it, let's go dress shopping, okay?"

"Okay. Saturday?"


"Pick me up?"


She smiled. "You're my best friend, you know that right?"

He reached across the table and squeezed hers. "You're mine."

She held his hand tight. "I'm glad we're together again."

"Very soon, Ainsley, you're not going to need me anymore."

"I'll always need you."

"No, you won't. You'll have him."

"He's not you."

"He'll be your husband."

"But you'll still be my friend."

"He's not enough?"

"Why does he have to be my entire life? I'll still have friends."

"You shouldn't need me."

"Why not?"

"What do I have that he doesn't?"

She considered a moment. "Stories that start with 'One day in the White House. . .'"

"Is that it?"

"I don't know. You're just. . . you're Sam. You understand me. You argue with me. I'm always going to need you."

"Well, then maybe you shouldn't marry him."

She made a face, putting her fork down. "I've never believed your spouse is supposed to be the be all and end all of your social life. If that's true why bother making friends at all. Who says I have to bring him to the deserted island with me?"

"You wouldn't?"

"I'd take you. I figure we could kill the first week or two arguing whose fault it is we're stuck there."

"Doesn't that tell you something about him?"

"It tells me we have separate lives."

"You could live the rest of your live without him if you had to. That's a bad way to start a marriage."

She looked at him. "I love him."

"I want my wife to be my deserted island person."

She was silent a long moment and he saw something he couldn't name in her eyes. She bent and picked up her purse. She dug out a twenty and dropped it on the table. "I have to get home. I'll see you Saturday." She got up and left. For the first time since he'd known he she hadn't finished dessert.

Sam put his elbows on the table and dropped his head into his hands.

When Sam picked Ainsley up to go dress shopping on Saturday she was oddly subdued. She gave him directions to the store she was going to and they went in. The saleslady came over and cooed. "Now, now. The grooms not supposed to-"

"He's not the groom," Ainsley said. "He's just a friend. I'm Ainsley Hayes, I called earlier in the week?"

"Oh yes. I put aside some dresses in your size over here, come with me." They followed her to the back of the store.

Sam followed behind dutifully

The woman had put aside maybe twenty dresses. She showed each to Ainsley. Some she vetoed on sight, some Sam did. In the end they have five they both liked. Ainsley and the saleslady went into the dressingroom to try them on.

Sam twiddled his thumbs, wondering what the hell he was doing in a place where, really, no man should be.

Then Ainsley stepped out of the dressing room. She was wearing her favorite of the dresses, a sleeveless affair with a tight lace bodice and a long train.

"Wow," he whispered.

She smiled a did a turn. "Good?"

"You look amazing."

"You don't think there's too much cleavage?"

"I'm trying not to stare at your chest, Ainsley."

"Was that a yes?"

"I think it's a good thing."

She smiled and looked at herself in the mirror. "I really like it. I do. But aren't you supposed to try on a bunch? Not pick the first one you see?"

He swallowed. "Sometimes when it's right you know it. If you ignore that instinct because there might be better elsewhere, you end up with something less than perfect."

She met his eyes in the mirror a long moment, then nodded. "You're right." She looked at the saleslady. "This one."

Sam sighed and turned away, not wanting to look at her in her wedding dress anymore. She put a down payment on it and set up an appointment for a fitting in a couple months. Then Sam drove her home. The next two weeks he didn't see her much, she was busy with a variety of wedding plans.

One night she showed up at his door with a box of flowers. "I need help."


"I need to pick flowers for the wedding. Dan had an emergency and the deadline's tomorrow. I really can't make a decision on my own."

"it's Friday night, how do you know I don't have company."

"Oh. Do you? I'm so sorry. I really am." She backed up. "I'll go. I'm sorry."

He sighed. "I don't, I don't, come in."

She smiled. "Oh thank you." She stepped inside. "It'll really only take a minute."


She put the box of flowers on his coffee table and kneeled next to it. "Now, I was thinking of red roses for my bouquet and white for the bridesmaids. But I need the centerpieces. I don't want there to be too much red."

"I really don't know anything about flowers."

"Well, you know what smells good and what looks good together."

"You've made all your other decisions without me."

She glanced up. "I didn't think you'd have an opinion on the bridesmaid dresses. And the menu kind of is my forte."

"What's-his-name doesn't care about flowers?"

"I told you he had an emergency."

"I guess it's always gonna be like that, huh?"

"Like what?"

"Emergencies. Kids will love it when it happens at Christmas."

She put her head in her hands. "Why do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Put him down all the time. You won't even call him by his name. Are you trying to sabotage this or something?"

"Of course not."

"It sounds like it sometimes."

"I think he's wrong for you."


"Because you're here. Because you'd take me to a deserted island and not him. Doesn't that tell you something?"

"No! It doesn't. If it did I wouldn't be marrying him."

"you shouldn't be!"

"Tell me why not."

"Because. . . because. . ." He could find words, rare for him, so he cupped her face in his hands and kissed her. She squeaked and curved her hands over his wrists. He felt her stiffen, then her lips softened and she was kissing him back. He felt the sigh through his whole body as he deepened the kiss.

After a full minute she whimpered and pulled away. "Sam. . . Sam."

"That's why," he whispered.

"Why did you-? Jesus, Sam."

"Don't marry him."

Her lower lip shook. "Why didn't you do this before? Why now?"

"I didn't realize how much seeing you with someone else would hurt. I didn't realize I loved you that much. And then I've been trying to just let you be happy, but. . ."

She covered her eyes with a hand. "I don't believe this. I just. . . can't believe that."


"You just. . . you do this now? When I finally have my life in order? Do you know how long I've wanted you and you never said *anything* and I've finally fallen in love with someone else and you do this."

"You haven't fallen in love with someone else! Have you taken a good look at him, Ainsley? He's me with blonde hair and an MD. We talk the same, we dress the same, we spout the same useless trivia. We even drive the same damn car!"

"That's not true," she said hoarsely.

"You call him Daniel when you're pissed at him, don't you? And you add six A's to the middle of his name when you're exasperated or teasing?"

"Your names are similar phonetically? That's your evidence?"

"You're missing the point."

She started gathering her flower samples. "I don't care what the point is."

"You kissed me back. You *liked* it."

She looked down at the flowers. "I told you I've wanted you for years."

"You never said so."

"Neither did you."

"By the time I realized how I felt, you were involved. I was just waiting for it to end with him. . .but it didn't."

"Two years, Sam. Two years. I've had fights with him. I've almost broken up with him twice. None of these times were right? To let me know that if I did break up with him I wouldn't be alone?"

"You think I wanted to be your rebound?"

"I really don't know what I think anymore."

"I didn't want you to be with me because you were single or lonely or. . .I love you."

Her shoulders slumped and she got to her feet, holding her box of flowers. "I have to go."

"Don't," he said softly.

"Sam. . . no matter what I. . . I'm *engaged,*" she whispered.

He closed his eyes and hung his head. "Right."

"I'm sorry."

"So am I."

"Good-bye, Sam."

"Ainsley, wait."

She looked up at him.

She probably had no idea how much his next words cost him. "Sit. We still have to pick out flowers."

Her hands trembled. "Sam. . ."

He same over to her and took the box. "Come on, I have a good eye for color."

"You don't have to."

"I;m still your best man, aren't I?" He swallowed. "I want you to be happy. I'm sorry I dropped this on you. Please. . .let me at least do this?"

Her mouth trembled, taking a deep breath. "Okay."

He sat at the kitchen table and spread out her samples. "I agree with you about the red. You don't want it to look like some bad Valentine's Day dance. Which rules out pink, too."

She sank into a chair next to him. "I liked the lilies. But my mother said they're for funerals. Carnations are so plain. I'm leaning for exotics."

"*No* carnations. I don't like them. If you want to take the edge off the formality, you could try Gerber daisies. You know, the big colorful ones. Then you could actually get some red in there without the valentine feel."

She smiled. "I like that. I was also thinking about dogwood branches. Those are the Carolina state flower."

"Really? They're Virginia, too. But I like it. Thrown in some little white daisies and a couple of wild roses and you'll be all good."

She wrote it down and drew a little sketch. "That would be pretty. Elegant."

"Perfect," he said softly.

She looked at him. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. You all set now?"

She nodded. "That was it." She gathered them up again.

"Drive safely, okay?"

She nodded. "I will. Goodnight."

"Good night. Tell Dan he'd better take care of you."

She swallowed. "I will." She hugged her box to her chest and walked out.

He sat there, staring at the closed door until something inside him gave way, and then he cried. * * * * * Ainsley was still in a daze when she got home to find Dan in the kitchen. She put her flower box on the counter and sat at the kitchen table. "Hi," she said softly.

"Where have you been?"

"Sam's. He helped me with the flower samples."

"Oh, well, why wouldn't you be at Sam's."

She glanced up at him. "The florist needed to know by tomorrow and you were out. I wanted a second opinion."

"Is it going to be like this when we're married?"

She was silent a long, long moment. She closed her eyes. "I don't know if I can marry you anymore."

He blinked. "What?"

"I can't be married to you. I'm sorry."

"Why not? Because of him?"

She swallowed hard. "You're not the person I'd bring to the deserted island." She looked at him. "I don't love you as much as you deserve."

"Is this because of him?"

"Yes," she whispered.

Dan turned away. "I should have known."

"I'm sorry. I truly am. I didn't realize-"

"To hell you're sorry. You just came home to dump me so you can go back over there."

"No, I didn't. I don't even know if I'm welcome over there anymore. But I know I don't love you the way I'm supposed to love my husband."

"It would have been nice if you'd said this before I uprooted my whole goddamn life for you."

"I didn't *know.*"

"I should have known when I met him, too. I had a bad feeling. But, you know, stupid me, I thought I could trust you."

She covered her face with her hands. "I'm sorry, Dan. You don't know how sorry. If there was any way. . . I can't pretend."

"Thanks. It's so nice you at least *tried* to pretend."

"That's not what I meant. You know it isn't."

"You don't fall in love with someone in one night. So you're either a liar or you're stupid. I don't know which is worse."

She swallowed. "It's the second one, if you care."

He turned away, not wanting to look at her anymore.

She got up. "I'm going to go to a hotel."

"Have fun."

She looked at him and felt a flare of irrational anger. She strode past him to the bedroom to get her overnight bag.

"It'll take me a while to clear out."

"I understand. Take as long as you need."

He followed her into the bedroom and held out a hand. "The ring?"

She pulled it off and tossed it at him.

He picked it up off the floor. "What, are you the injured party now? *You* are leaving me."

"I know," she said softly, shoving clothes into her bag. "I'm just angry. . . I don't know why."

"You're angry? Right, because you won't have two men fighting over you anymore. That must be really hard to handle."

"It was never about that."

"So what happened tonight?"

"I just. . . I realized some things I should have known a long time ago." She zipped her bag. "Let's leave it at that."

"He told you he wanted you and you didn't need your spare anymore?"

She covered her eyes. "He told me he loved me. I didn't think he did. And I love him." She looked at him. "And you were just a replacement."

He flinched. "Fuck you."

"Yeah," she said softly. Then she left.

She went to a hotel, the first on she came to. The woman behind the desk took one look at her tear stained face and gave her a room without a word. Ainsley sat on the bed, the scratchy comforter poking her legs and sobbed. After a while she was out of tears and found herself staring at the phone. Around midnight, though she knew it was too late she picked it up and dialed Sam.

"Seaborn," his voice, uncharacteristically hoarse, growled into the phone.

"Sam?" she whispered, then started to cry again. Apparently she wasn't out of tears.

He was instantly awake. "Ainsley? What's wrong?"

She chewed her lip a moment. "Are you mad at me?"

"No. Why would I be mad at you?"

"Because of earlier."

"Again, why would I be mad at you? If anything, you should be mad at me."

"I broke up with Dan."

"I'm sorry," he said softly. "Are you all right?"

"Can I come over? I'm in a hotel and I don't know if I should. . . I'm lonely."

"I'll come get you."

"You don't have to-"

"I'll be there in ten minutes." The line went dead.

She blinked at it, then hung up. She grabbed her bag and went down to the lobby. He was indeed there in ten minutes. When she saw him she staggered forward into his arms. He hugged her tight, and when they got to his car, there was a box of tissues and a pint of chocolate ice cream sitting on the passenger seat.

She saw them and started to cry harder, sinking into the leather upholstery. She blew her nose on a tissue. He touched her hair gently, then pulled out of the parking lot. He didn't say anything as he drove, simply producing a spoon from somewhere and handing it to her. She could see his eyes were red like he'd been crying. She'd broken his heart and he'd helped her pick out flowers. She'd called him the middle of the night and he'd come with her favorite ice cream. No anger, no questions asked.

He pulled into his building parking lot and turned the car off. She sat in the passenger seat, hugging the ice cream to her chest, the spoon clutched in her hand. She'd been crying to hard to eat. "I shouldn't have called you," she whimpered. "I don't deserve you."

He turned in his seat hugging her awkwardly over the gear shift. "Shhh."

"I don't. I've never done anything good for you and I finally realize I love you and I expect you to jump. I shouldn't have called you."

"Yes, you should have, you can always--" He stopped. "You love me?"

She nodded. "Yes."

"That's the only thing in this world I need."

She leaned her head on his shoulder. "Wanna go inside?"

"Yes." He got out and helped her out of the car.

Once in his apartment she let him take the ice cream to the kitchen while she sank onto the couch. She curled up on her side, drying her eyes with the tissues.

He sat on the floor beside her. "I was engaged once, a long time ago."

She nodded. "Lisa."

"Sometimes it just doesn't work out."

"He knew. He knew and I didn't."

"See? We're both slow and retarded about our feelings. We're a match."

She smiled weakly and touched his face gently. "Yes." He leaned forward and kissed her tenderly. She shivered and kissed him back.

After only a moment he pulled back. She looked faintly disappointed, weaving her fingers in his hair.

"Not tonight."

She took her hand back. "Oh."

"After all these years, I don't want our first time to be when we're all tired and wrung out. How about we just go to bed and sleep? We have all day tomorrow."

She nodded, sitting up. "Okay."

Sam helped her to her feet and, grabbing her bag, led her into the bedroom. She went into the bathroom and changed into a camisole and boxers, then came out to find he'd already pulled the covers back. She went to him and he helped her climb in. She sighed happily. "Your sheets are soft."

"Three-hundred-twelve thread count."

She smiled, scooting towards the center as he climbed in, too. "Good taste."

He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her hair. "Thank you."

She settled into the curve of his body with a happy sigh. "Goodnight, Sam. I love you."

"I love you," he whispered.

She smiled and he felt her slowly relax into sleep.

Ainsley awoke the next morning crushed against Sam's chest. Their legs were tangled together and her head was tucked under his chin. Somehow they'd managed to wrap themselves up together in the blankets like a twin cocoon. She smiled, snuggling closer to him.

"Good morning," he whispered.

"Hi," she said softly.

"How are you feeling?"



"How do you feel?"

He grinned. "Wonderful. Are you still mine?"

"I am."

"Then I'm wonderful."

She beamed up at him and kissed him. "I love you."

"Mmm, you want to make breakfast?"

He felt her nibble his shoulder. "Hmm. Food. . . or you."

"Knowing you, it's an honor that you're torn."

"You have no idea." She kissed his shoulder, scooting down their little cocoon.

"I'm okay with breakfast. I am a man of great patience."

Her head disappeared into the covers as she was kissing along his ribcage. "What's for breakfast?"

His eyes closed. "Ainsley."

Her tongue dipped in his navel and she started to tug his sweatpants down. "Actually, I think *you're* for breakfast."

She could hear his muffled groan from above the blankets.

Her lips skimmed over his lower abdomen and he saw he feet stick out the bottom of the bedclothes. He felt her breath on his half hard erection, then her mouth closed over him.

His hips jerked, and she felt him swell against her mouth. In this area, at least, she realized Dan was a poor substitute. He felt her hum in pleasure, then start to suck, moving her mouth on him.

His fingers tightened in her hair, and tugged on her gently. "Stop."

She moved off him immediately. She'd once been a little slow on that request and gotten something unpleasant in her eye. She moved up his body again so she could kiss his mouth.

He cupped her face in his hands, pouring himself into the kiss. He felt her shudder and she wrapped her arms around him tightly, pressing herself close to him. His hands began to roam down her body. She hummed again, arching into his motions.

He shifted, breaking the kiss and sitting up. He pulled back the blankets. She looked up at him, giving him an appraising glance. She grinned widely.

"I've been subsisting solely on my imagination of you naked for quite some time."

"Want to see how it holds up to reality?"

"This is better."

"Thank you."

He leaned down, taking on nipple in his mouth. She moaned softly, weaving her fingers into his hair. He brushed the other with his thumb, watching it pebble. She shivered, arching up to him. He slid his hand between her legs, dipping a finger into her moisture.

She whimpered, hips bucking up to him. Her fingers curled around his bicep, holding tight. He touched her lightly, rubbing the knuckle of this thumb against her clit.

"Sam," she said softly. She chewed her lip a little, looking at him with luminous eyes.

"Feel good?"

"So good."

He kissed her stomach and along her hipbones. She realized what he was planning and started to tremble. "You don't have to. It's okay."

"Too bad, I want to."

She smiled. "Okay," she whispered.

"Open your legs."

She blushed a little but obeyed him closing her eyes. She felt his mouth touch her, then his tongue. She gasped his name and shuddered, responding immediately to the new sensations. He teased her until she writhed under him, then kissed his way back up her body.

She cupped his face in her hands, shaking. "I want you. Please."

He pushed inside her. "Do you?"

She let out a cry and shuddered as her body closed tight around him. Yeah, definitely bigger then Dan.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

She shifted a little. "Yeah. I'm okay. Just stretching a little."

"Are you sure?"

She smiled. "I'm sure. Feels good."

"Okay." Slowly he began to move.

She moaned softly, holding him tight. He kissed her gently, sucking her lower lip between his teeth. She whispered his name, arching up to him faster, making him stroke different places. He lifted one of her legs, pulling it higher. She gasped at that, jerking. It only took a few more strokes to bring her over the edge, shaking and calling out his name. He thrust deep into her as he came with her.

She looked right in his eyes as she felt his release.

He kissed the side of her neck, relaxation seeping through him. She hugged him tight to her chest, face buried in his hair.

"Mmm, now how about breakfast."

"Mmm. Good idea."

"As soon as I can move."

"No hurry."

"I'll make you eggs."

She beamed. "Sounds good."

Eventually they dragged themselves out of bed. When she wandered, naked, over to his closet to take out a clean white shirt of his to put on, he didn't complain. She buttoned it up and went out to the kitchen with him in only that. She tucked herself into a chair and watched him prepare the eggs.

"Do you want to talk about it?" he asked.

She opened her mouth to answer, then frown. "Okay, there's too many 'its' between us now for me to know which you're talking about."

"What happened last night. About Dan, do you need to talk?"

She looked down. "I was mean to him. I tried not to be but he was so angry. I think he wanted me to be mean, so he could hate me."

"It easier that way. But bad for the soul."

"Yeah. I told him he was a replacement for you."

"I shouldn't have said that to you, Ainsley, it was mean. And it's not really true."

"Yeah it is."

He peered at her. "Really?"

"Yeah. He reminded me of you in every way. It was what first appealed to me."

"At most it's subconscious."

She nodded. "Maybe." She wrapped her arms around her legs, resting her chin on her knees.

He put the frying pan down for a second and came over. "If it's any help, it's the greatest compliment I've ever gotten."

She looked uncertain. "Really?"


She reached out and hugged him. "Thank you."

"And when I propose I'll remember my speech."

She grinned, then her face fell. "Oh God. The wedding plans. I have to cancel everything."

"I'll take care of it."

She shook her head. "You don't have to."

"Hey, I'm still your best man."

She smiled softly. "And you always will be."

"Crap, the eggs are burning."

She laughed and got up. "Sit. I'll make you pancakes."

"I can't cook."

"This is why you need me." She pulled the pan off the stove and scraped the eggs into the sink and started rummaging for pancake makings.

"Why I adore you."

She grinned. "I'm your best woman."

His arms came around her waist and he hugged her tight. "Yes."

She kissed him. "I love you."

"After breakfast can we go back to bed?"

"Or the shower. Or the couch. Or the wall. Or the floor."

He grinned. "Yes, ma'am."

She went back to her cooking.

*One year later*

They were on their way to the airport, and Ainsley still did not know where her honeymoon was.

"When are you going to tell me?"

"You'll see."

"Why won't you tell me?"

"It's a surprise. You know it's someplace warm."

"Yes, I packed for warm weather."

Their flight was to Miami, which was something.

"If we're going to Spring Training I'm going to do awful things to you."


"Florida? Isn't that where Josh used to go to see Spring training?"

"That's a different part of Florida."

"Oh. . . good."

"It'll be worth it, Ainsley."

"I trust you."

They changed planes in Miami, on their way to the Bahamas according to the flight info. She squeaked. "Bahamas, yay."

"Sort of."

She frowned at him. "Stop being so secretive."

"It'll be worth it." When the plane set down in Nassau it was almost sunset. Sam loaded them into a rental car and drove not to a hotel but the marina downtown. He dragged Ainsley and all her bags down the dock until they reached a small motorboat.

She blinked. "You're taking us out to sea?"

A man appeared from on the boat. "Mr. and Mrs. Seaborn?"

"That's us."

"Come aboard. Jack said seven."

"The plane was delayed."

Ainsley made a confused noise and frowned at Sam. "Come on," Sam said, tugging her onto the boat.

She followed him, still frowning. She sat in the side and he wrapped her in a blanket to cut the wind as they zoomed out of the harbor. The motorboat pulled up to a dock on the smallest island she'd ever seen. It was a few acres at most. The water near the island was so shallow the dock was quite a ways out. Sam and Ainsley got out, then the driver of the boat called. "Jack left my number for you guys if you need anything from the big island. You've got a week of provisions inside, and thing else you need, just call. See you next Saturday."

"Thanks," Sam called, and the boat sped away.

She stared after the boat, then looked at the island. Then up at Sam. Then back at the boat. Then the island.

Then she got it. "You brought me to a deserted island?"

He smiled shyly. "Yeah."

She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him without another word.

"It belongs to a friend of mine. He said we could use it for the week. Jack Cooper, he was at the wedding."

"I love you."

"So you'll stay with me on my deserted island?"

"Oh yeah. For as long as you want."

He kissed her again. "I love you. Let's go settle in."

She grinned. "Okay."

Together they walked toward their island in the fading light.

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