Soft Places

by Puck and Zillah

Spoilers: All the way up to Two Cathedrals. This exists in the same universe as Namesakes [Josh/Donna], so you might be kind of confused if you haven't read that.
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: Not mine. Not Zillah's. We've accepted this and moved on. (I am, however, forming a plan to steal Rob Lowe and keep him as a love slave. Anyone interested in helping, contact me.) Rebecca Ann Hayes is ours, though. You probably wouldn't want her anyway. We still have proud ownership of Noah Josiah Moss.

Part 1

Keeping fit was very difficult in Washington DC in the summer. Especially when one was too poor to afford a gym. Humans were not meant to jog in 90% humidity.

Ainsley Hayes was puffing along the perimeter of the Mall, stopping every few yards to chug water. She really needed access to a pool. Maybe she should have joined Sam in his mission to move the press corps.

Speaking of which, was that him? And was he holding Donna's baby? And was he surrounded by women?

Ainsley scanned the lawn and saw Donna standing under some trees, arms crossed, glaring at Sam. She jogged over. "Hi, Donna. Is that Sam holding Noah?"

"He offered to take him so I could get some work done. He's using him as a dating tool."

"You're kidding me."

"No. And I can't catch his eye. I want my baby back."

Ainsley looked at Sam and his fans. She shook her head. "Leave it to me." She pulled her hair out of it's ponytail and ruffled it with her hands. She stuck her lower lip out in a pout, shoved her water at Donna and stormed over to the group.

Sam looked up at her and smiled right before she tore Noah out of his hands. "Samuel Norman Seaborn I have been looking for you everywhere." She spoke rapidly, emphasizing her accent. "You walk out while I'm in the shower and don't even leave a note! I was worried sick. Not to mention I haven't even started dinner for your parents." She balanced Noah on her hip and grabbed his ear with her free hand. "Now you say goodbye to your little friends and come home right now and help Sammy Jr with his pitching."

Sam made an astonished choking noise, but had not choice but to follow as she dragged him across the grass to Donna and released him, handing Noah back to his mother. "There you go."

"Thank you," she said.

"What'd you do that for?" Sam demanded.

"You hijacked a baby to pick up women, you deserved that."

³I was legitimately baby-sitting!²

"You were using an infant to get women to flirt with you. You wouldn't give Donna her child back."

"She didn't ask. I didn't even know she was here."

"She was afraid to embarrass you." She pulled her hair in a pony tail again. "Fortunately I have no such compunctions."

He glared at her. "That was beyond embarrassment."

"Calm down, Sam. You'll have other coeds."

"This is war, Hayes."

She took a sip of her water. "Watch me quake." She screwed the cap on her bottle and started to jog off.

Donna shifted Noah onto her hip. "She's gonna kick your ass like she always does, you know."

He stared after her. "Yeah."


Ainsley was in her office, reading the last in a long line of depositions and drinking water when a security guard popped into her doorway. "Ms. Hayes?"

She looked up. "Yes?"

"We need you to come down to the security checkpoint."


"There's someone here claiming to be a visitor, but she's not on any list we have."

Ainsley frowned. "I'm not expecting a guest. Who is she?"

"She says she's your sister, ma'am."


"Rebecca Ann Hayes."

A delicate blonde girl stood flirting with the two Marines at the gate. She looked up when Ainsley yelled and a strained smile touched her mouth. "Hi sis."

Ainsley signed for her and once they handed Rebecca a visitor tag she dragged her down the hall with her. "Why aren't you in California?"

"Rumor has it it's going to sink into the ocean any day now."

"I'm not in the mood Becca."

The other girl sighed. "I failed out."

Ainsley stopped in her tracks and turned slowly to look at her sister. "You failed out?" Becca nodded. "How did you fail out of Stanford? How is that possible?"

"Considering how difficult Stanford is it's really quite easy."

"The semester hasn't even begun yet."

"I failed out last term. They sent me the letter in June and my lease ran out July 31."

Ainsley crossed her arms. "And it took you until August twentieth to get here?"

"I contested my expulsion. Then I tried to get a job. Then I figured it was hopeless and come out here."

"Becca, Dad's going to kill you."

"Well, that's kind of why I'm here and not North Carolina."

Ainsley's mouth opened. "Becca, no."

"Please can I stay with you?"


"Please. I'll get a job. I'll help pay for rent and food. I'll cook for you. Just let me stay and work on my writing, please."

"Why can't you just go home?"

"You know what Dad will do to me. They'll disown me. They were mad enough I wanted to go to Stanford. Now I've failed out? He'll put me to work in the fields."

"We don't have fields."

"Allow me some hyperbole, here, Ainse."

She turned to keep walking. ³You can't stay with me, Becca.²

"Why not?"

Ainsley turned again to face her. Her mouth opened and closed a few times. "I'm under a lot of stress and I really can't-"

"I'll let you use my car."

She stopped. "You have a car?"

Becca grinned. "Cherry red '69 Mustang convertible given to me by my last asshole boyfriend two weeks before he cheated on me with a walking social disease name Ami. With an 'i.' It's parked outside."

Ainsley considered this. "How does it handle?"

"Like a dream. Felt like I was flying the whole way out here."

"Mom and Daddy aren't going to be happy about this."

"I know. I'm just hoping with the good daughter on my side they'll cut me some slack."

Ainsley sighed and covered her eyes with her hand. She knew already she'd regret this. "You can stay."

Becca shrieked and threw herself at her big sister, hugging her tightly. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

"Okay, okay. You're wrinkling my suit. Come on, I'll give you my keys, you can move in." She led her briskly down the hall.


Becca was jazzed. In the city less then a week and she had a job. Granted, an operator for an office building was not the best job on earth, but it would help with the rent and food and make her feel productive. In celebration she wandered around the Smithsonian, then took a stroll on the mall. She thought she was going to like DC.

She was heading back for the Metro when she saw an adorable guy holding an almost equally adorable baby. Praying he was a single dad of some sort she went over to him.

Sam was trying to get Noah to stand up on his knees. He would do it sometimes if you held his arms, or so Josh said.

Suddenly a shadow passed over them. He looked up to see a blonde girl who looked . . . vaguely familiar smiling down. "Hi."

He grinned. "Hello."

She crouched down. "He's cute."

"Ba la la," Noah replied, reaching out to her.

She took his hands and held him up on Sam's knees. "What a big boy."

Sam grinned. "Yeah, now you do it." He looked up at the woman. "His name's Noah. He's nine months old."

"Hi there, Noah. I'm Becca."

Noah squealed, bouncing up and down. Sam grinned. "Sam."

She grinned back at him. "Nice to meet you."

"Ba ba do," Noah told her seriously.

She grinned at the baby. "That's very interesting." She kneeled across from Sam. "He's very blonde. He favors his mother?"

"Spitting image."

Noah blew raspberries at her and Sam laughed. "Even that."

She studied him a moment. "It's refreshing to see a man taking care of his kids. Especially in this city."

"I try to take Noah when I can."

"You're a good dad."

"He's a good baby. Though very busy. Had to babyproof my apartment when I had him last weekend."

Aha! Weekend dad. She smiled. "Gets into everything, huh?"

"And then puts it in his mouth."

"Well, taste tests are vital."

Noah sat down on Sam's lap, leaning back and sticking his thumb in his mouth. Becca sat beside them on the bench. "You live in DC?" Sam asked.

"Yeah, just moved here from California."

"Really? Where? I'm from San Diego. Well, originally. I haven't lived there in 15 years."

"San Francisco. I went to college at Stanford."

"And you just kinda stuck around after graduation? That happened to a friend of mine-- I did my undergrad at Princeton-- thought about Stanford, actually, but it wasn't far enough away-- anyway, this guy and I went to high school together, he was at Princeton too, and he met this girl. . .I see him again five or six years later and he's still in New Jersey."

She grinned. He was adorable. "Something like that. I really liked the area, the weather was so great. But after a while I got restless and decided I needed somewhere new." She waved a hand. "I kinda mentally threw a dart at a map and drove out here."

"It's great place to be. Not as great as New York, though, I think."

"I've never been there. One day maybe."

"It's an amazing city. I had a place on Central Park, and you could walk a block from my condo and you'd forget you were in a city at all. Chinese food came in ten minutes." He looked over at her. "Speaking of Chinese food, don't order it. There isn't a good Chinese food place in DC. One of my colleagues is from San Francisco and is obsessed with this. She'd have found it if it existed."

She wrinkled her nose. "I'm from the South. I really don't know good Chinese food from anything."

"Really?" He looked surprised. She had no accent at all.

She smiled. "Can't tell can you? I trained the accent out when I was a teenager."

"I'm impressed. I know someone from South Carolina. I think South, anyway. You can tell her voice from a mile away. She also loves the Chinese food. But then, I think she's eat anything."

She chuckled. "Sounds like someone I know. I'm from North Carolina."

He looked at her. "Are you a Republican?" he asked suspiciously.

She chuckled. "Oh, God, no. Do I look like a Republican?"

He grinned. "Just asking. What do you do for a living?"

She paused a moment. "I'm a writer. But I'm working as an office manager to pay the bills."

He nodded. "Makes sense. Doing the starving artist living on someone's couch thing is only for the really young."

She swallowed. "Oh, yeah. There just comes a time you got to grow up and be an adult."

Sam glanced at his watch. "I promised Noah's mom I'd have him back by two. Can I. . Would you like to get dinner sometime?"

She grinned. "I'd love to." She dug in her pockets and pulled out a piece of paper. She scrawled a number on it. "Here's my number. Gimme a call."

Sam grinned. "I will." She winked at him, chucked Noah under the chin and walked off.


Sam appeared in Ainsley's office that afternoon. He was met at the door by a blast of hot, humid, unbreathable air. He'd thought Ainsley's little cell had been hot in the winter with the heater turning it into an oven. If it had worked the other way around and been freezing in the summer people would have envied her. With DC summers it would have been a blessing.

Unfortunately, there was no AC in her office, so her fans still ran all day long and she always looked slightly wilted. He frowned at her. "How in God's name do you work down here?"

She didn't glance up. "I'm a Republican, I'm cold blooded, remember?"

"Which would make this extreme heat even more of a problem, given your body's inability to regulate it's own internal temperature."

Now she looked up at him. "Do you want something? Perhaps you need legal advice? Did you accidentally sleep with another prostitute?"

He leaned against her doorway. "This is why you guys are elephants."

"The Republican party is represented by an elephant because you have an inclination to sleep with women who normally have sex for money?"

"It was just the one. . .she was a very nice person. And I'm talking about the elephant never forgets thing. You know. . ." He waved his hands. He was so easy to fluster some times.

"As much as I appreciate the compliment to my party's mental capacities I feel the need to assure you that the fact you shared a bed with a call girl is something even a Democrat could remember."

"You're baiting me. I can see this."

"Actually I was wondering if you had a theory on why you guys are donkeys?"

"I wouldn't be surprised if a direct ancestor of mine was the cause."

Her lips quirked. "It's refreshing to hear you admit that." She looked back at her work. ³Did you come down here for a reason? Or just wanted to sample the sauna?²

"Noah and I just picked up a gorgeous woman."

She looked up at him and propped her chin in her hand. "Not a call girl?"

"Nope. Perfectly nice office manager."

"A step up. Congratulations."

"I just came by to say I told you so."

"Very mature of you."

"This from a person who took pleasure out of embarrassing me in the mall."

"That's not a sign of immaturity, it's a sign of a sense of humor. It was funny Sam."

"To you."

"Donna thought it was funny. I bet Josh thought it was funny."

"I have a date, Ainsley, and I'm in a good mood. I'm not letting you ruin it."

"Well, there goes my goal for the day." She made a huffing noise. "I guess now I have to focus on work."

He ducked out of her office. "See you later."

"Gee I hope so."

* * * * *

Part 2

When Ainsley came home she found her sister sitting at her kitchen table, a lap top humming in front of her. Becca was typing rapidly on it. Ainsley put her purse and breifcase on a chair and came over to her. ³Whereıd you get a computer?²

Becca grinned at her. ³Generous boyfriend. He was a comp sci major.²

Ainsley shook her head, pulling open the fridge. ³You got a computer and a car out of two seperate men?²

³Yes maıam.²

³What else did you get?²


³You are. . .² She found a loaf of bread and some turkey and started making a sandwich. ³I donıt know what you are.²

³Fun.² She frowned at what sheıd just written, hit the delete a few times, then typed more. She glanced at Ainsleyıs sandwich and smirked. ³Howıs the tape worm doing?²

Ainsley ignored that, finishing her sandwich and bringing it over. ³What are you writing?²

³My book.²

³So youıre actually writing a book? Howıs it coming?²

³Fifty thousand words and counting.²

Ainsley didnıt want to be impressed but was. ³Whatıs it about?²

³Soft places.²

³Beg pardon?²

³Soft places. Places in the world where the walls between time and dimensions are soft and people can walk through them. It follows this one girl who can see soft places and uses them to travel to different worlds and times.²

Now she couldnıt resist looking impressed. ³Thatıs really good, Becca.²

Her little sister grinned at her. ³Thanks. Iıve been working on it almost a year, along with some short stories I sent out to some megazines.²

³Youıre really serious about this, arenıt you?²

Becca focused on her. ³This is my dream, Ainsley. It always has been.²

³I never knew that.²

Becca smirked. ³I know, Ainse. No one ever did.²

Ainsley polished off her sandwhich. ³What does that mean?²

³Never mind.² She hit a button, then closed her laptop. ³I had the best day. I got a job and a man.²

³I sense youıre happier about the latter.²

³Well, heıs a very cute man. Great hair.²

Ainsley shook her head. ³Just watch yourself.²

³Ainsley, dear sister, Iım not taking man advice from you.² She got to her feet. ³I have to be at work tomorrow early. Iım going to go to bed.² She headed for the couch. Ainsely sighed and gathered up her work, taking it into her bedroom.


Ainsley was working late so Becca had no one to model outfits for. She picked one all on her own, the August weather being the deciding factor. She missed California. She was pulling her hair up when the bell rang and she stuck the last bobby pin in her coiff and answered the door. She grinned at Sam. "Hi."

He grinned. "Hey. You ready?"

"Yeah." She stepped into the hall, locked the door and dropped the keys in her purse. "Where are we going?" she asked as they went down the hall.

"1789. It's in an old federal in Georgetown. Maybe it's a lawyer thing, but I'm fascinated by historical trappings. Food's good, too."

She grinned. "I'm a history dork, don't worry about it."

They reached the street, and he was looking at the red Mustang parked on the curb. "Now, that's a nice car."

"Thank you."

"It's yours?"

She nodded. "All mine."

He grinned. "You do pretty well for yourself, don't you?"

She shrugged modestly. "I pamper myself once in a while."

"I'm impressed." They walked down the street to a very little sports car. He his the button on his keys and the alarm beeped off.

She titled her head at the car, then at him. "Nice car."

"One of the few things I have left from my last well paying job." He opened the door for her.

"What was that?" she asked, sliding in.

He turned the key and the engine roared to life. "I was a month away from making partner at Gage Whitney Pace in Manhattan." He eased out of the spot and into traffic.

"Wow. And you gave it up?"

"Yep. For piss change to work on the Bartlet campaign because my best friend swore he was Œthe real thing.ı Now I work in the White House."

She made a quiet noise, but covered it. "Really? That must be so amazing." She was being honest, much as she teased her sister, she thought it was cool.

He grinned. "Yeah, it is."

"You look young to have done all that."

"I'm really fifty five. You see, I made this pact with the devil to remain ageless. For the one time low price of my soul, he provided me with a painting to wrinkle and gray for me." He flashed her a grin. "I am young. The office baby. They tease me."

She laughed. "I don't know. I have to respect anyone who came up with a mildly obscure reference this early in the date."

"You think Dorian Grey is obscure? Just wait till you get to know me."

"I'm a book junkie as well as a history dork, I really have a vauge idea of what normal people have heard of and not."


"I do hope you're not going to try and stump me now."

Becca was charming. She was witty. She was half of the best first date in the history of courtship. She was also having a problem she hadn't faced since high school. She wanted to sleep with Sam. But there was no way to do it without Ainsley flipping out. He pulled into a parking space in front of her building and she stifled a sigh. Some other night. She smiled at him. "I had a nice time."

"So did I. You're good company."

"Thank you." He leaned over, tipped up her chin and kissed her. She sighed and leaned into him, kissing him deeply.

"Mmmm." He kissed the tip of her nose. "Should I park the car or not?" he asked.

She looked embarrased. And really frustrated. "I'm sorry, but it has to be not. I have a really early morning tomorrow."

"All right," he said. "Should I. . .can I call you again?"

She grinned. "Hell yeah."

Sam grinned in return. "Good. I'll call you then."

"Great. Hey, I read something in the paper about a new exhibit at National Zoo. Maybe we could take Noah."

He swallowed. "That would be great."

She grinned. "Give me a call." She kissed him again. "Goodnight, Sam."

"Night, Becca."

She climbed out of the car and bent to wave at him. SHe slammed the door shut and walked into her building.


"Can I borrow Noah on Saturday?"

Donna looked up. "Hi, Sam. You want to borrow my baby?"

"Well, I'll watch him for you. So you can shop or sleep or spend some time with Josh or. . .whatever. Come on, Donna, please."

"Are you using him as a dating tool?"

"I'm taking him to the zoo."

She thought about this for a moment, then turned and yelled, "Josh!"

He appeared in the doorway. "Yes?"

"Should I let Sam take Noah to the zoo on saturday?"

Josh looked at him. "This is about that girl you picked up on the Mall the other day, isn't it?"


"It is, isn't it?"

"Yes. She's gorgeous, Josh. And she's normal."

"Except she thinks you have a child."


He sighed. "Oh, let him have him, Donna. This is going to be amazingly funny when it hits the fan."

"It wonıt hit the fan. I haven't gone past the third dates in five years."

"You're counting on your horrendous luck with women to get you out of this?"

"You got any better ideas?"

"Get a woman without using a baby?"

"Don't bug him, Josh," Donna said. "I think I like the idea of a free Saturday."

He looked over at her. "It does have it's potential." He punched Sam's arm. "I'm just worried about him."

"Iım a big boy."

"I know, Spanky." Sam gave Josh a look and walked away. Josh snickered and went back to his office.


³So tell me about this guy you wonıt let me meet, whom youıve only known for ten days and could be a serial killer.²

Becca sighed, pulling on a pair of jeans. ³Heıs very nice, Ainsley, heıs not a serial killer.²

³Iım sure thatıs what every woman whoıs been killed by a serial killers says right before sheıs never seen alive again.²

³Heıs way too befuddled to be a serial killer. Besides, he has a baby.²

³Heıs married?!²

Becca winced. ³Okay, thatıs not an attractive pitch for your voice to be in, honey.² She pulled a shirt out of her bag and smoothed it out on her leg before slipping in on and starting on the buttons. ³Heıs divorced. He only has the baby on weekends.²

Ainsley crossed her arms. ³Becca, how old is he?²

She shrugged. ³I donıt know, twenty seven, twenty eight? He never really said.²

³God. Why canıt you date some slacker from Georgetown or American?²

³I have sophisticated tastes.² She brushed her hair out and put it up in a ponytail. ³Itıs a curse.²

³Itıs something.² Ainsley rubbed her head. ³Have fun, I guess.²

³Thank you. What are you doing with yourself today?²

³I have work to do. Iıll probably end up at the wing.²

Becca chuckled. ³You love saying that, donıt you? Youıre in the basement and you have to call it the wing.²

³When you work in the White House you can be pompus too.²

³Whatever you say, Ainse.² She patted her cheek, stepping past her. ³See you tonight.²

* * * * *

Part 3

Becca balanced Noah on her hip as she unlocked the door. She chuckled, looking over at Sam. "Honest to God, you are the klutziest person I have ever met outside of my family. Why didn't you tell me you had balance issues?"

He peeled the napkin away to look at his bleeding elbow. "I figured you'd never speak to me again. I once fell out of my boat."

Her eyes lit up. "You have a boat?" She got the door unlocked and pushed it open. "I've always wanted to sail."

"I'll take you some time."

"I'd like that." She led him into the living room. "I think I have Band Aids in the bathroom. Just have a seat and-"

"Becca? Are you home?" Ainsley's voice came from the back of the apartment. Becca froze. Sam swung his head toward the sound. That was a voice he'd know anywhere.

She appeared in the doorway. "Do you want to hit a movie or something? I have to get away from my paper-" She broke off when she noticed Sam. She frowned and looked from him to Becca, then back, then looked at Noah. "Okay, what the hell is going on here?"

Becca shifted the baby. "Ainsley, this is Sam, my date. Sam-"

"We've met," Ainsley interrupted.

"You've-" Becca frowned and looked at Sam. "Oh no. No. He's not the know-it-all Democrat from work you're always droning about."

Sam put his hands on his hips, looking at Ainsley. "I'm not a know-it-all. You are a know-it-all."

"Oh yeah? Then tell me what you're doing with my sister."

He looked at Becca, then back at Ainsley. "Your sister? I thought your sister was like ten years younger than you."

Becca winced. "I'm going to go look for those Band Aids," she said, creeping towards the hallway.

Ainsely blocked her. "You didn't tell him how old you are?"

"The subject didn't come up."

"It's up."

Sam put his hands over his eyes. "Oh, God."

Ainsley wasn't done. "He's the adorably befuddled guy with the baby?"

"Ye-ah," Becca said softly.

She looked at Sam. "And she's the gorgeous normal girl you picked up using Noah?"

Becca smiled. "He said I was gorgeous?" Ainsley pinned her with a look.

Sam waved his hands. "He's not my baby. He belongs to to a friend. I was just watching him that day. How old are you?"

"Twenty-one. He's not your baby?"

"Twenty-one." He let that sink in. "Wow, I was a sophomore in high school when you were born."

Becca wrinkled her nose. "Eww. He's not your baby?"

"No. He's Donna Moss's, Josh's assistant."

"Jeez." She looked over at Ainsley. "You're still my sister, right?"

"I'm glad you think this is funny. What else did you tell him?"

"Nothing much."

"Are you still in school?" Sam asked suddenly.

Becca winced. "Not exactly."

"What does that mean?"

She covered her eyes with one hand. "I failed out of school. I'm not an office manager either. I'm a starving artist living on my sister's couch."

Sam looked at her for a moment, then laughed out loud. He sat down on Ainsley's couch with a thump, laughing so hard his stomach hurt. Becca's face fell. She handed Noah to Ainsley and went into the bedroom, closing the door. Ainsley watched her go, then went over to Sam. "Get out."

He composed himself and stood up, stepping around Ainsley. He opened the bedroom door. "Becca. I'm not laughing at you. I'm laughing at myself. I've been worrying all day about how many ways you'd kill me when I told you the truth about Noah. . .And it turns out I actually think we're even."

She was sitting on the bed, long hair obscuring her face, she glanced up at him through the blonde strands. "You were going to tell me the truth about Noah?"

"Yeah. Preferably before I slept with you."

She perked up. "You were going to sleep with me?"

"I can't now. You have to know that."

She frowned, then her shoulders slumped. "Yeah." She looked at him. "I didn't mean to lie to you. I didn't think you were as old as you were. Then I figured I had to or you wouldn't go out with me."

"We're even. I'd still like to take you sailing."

She grinned. "Thank you. I'd like that." She chuckled. "And Ainsley won't."

"Don't worry about Ainsely. I'll call you."

She nodded. "Okay. Bye, Sam."

"And Becca? I had a good time today."

She smiled and got to her feet. She gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Me too."

He grinned and went out into the livingroom to find Ainsley sitting on the couch, dancing Noah on her knees. She didn't look up when he entered. "I'm not going to be able to throw you out, am I?"

"Nope." He scooped up the baby.

She frowned at him. "She always did have the strangest taste in men."

"See you on Monday, Ainsley."

"Goodbye, Sam." He shifted Noah to his shoulder and left. Ainsley crossed her arms and slumped down on the couch. This could have gone better.


Monday morning Sam actually thought no one had found out. He hadn't said anything to Donna when he returned Noah. Maybe Ainsley had decided to be an adult about this.

Josh hung in the doorway of Sam's office. "So, been to any Dave Matthew's Band concerts? Any pep rallys?"

He sighed. "Hi, Josh."

"Gorgeous and normal, huh?"

"She led me to believe she was older."

"I'm sure you didn't press real hard for the facts."

"How many years older than Donna are you?"

"We're not talking about me."

"Now we are."

Josh held his hands up. "You're right, you're right. I have no right to mock you about this. It's not my place." He leaned back. "Toby! CJ! Sam's dating a 21 year old."

Sam put his head in his hands. "Thanks a lot."

"Anytime." He paused. "You didn't sleep with her, did you?"

"No, I didn't. Contrary to popular beleif I'm not an idiot."

Toby came out of his office. "What are you yelling about?"

"Sam's dating a 21 year old," Josh told him.

He stuck his head in the doorway. "What is wrong with you?"

CJ was coming down the hall. "Is it just me or is there gossip going around about Sam and someone else inappropriate?"

"Twenty one year old college drop out," Josh said with glee.

"Hey!" Sam growled. "I am not goign to listen to harassment about my love life from any of you." He pointed at each in turn. "You're divorced, you havenıt been on a date in years, and you--" He shook his finger at Josh, "Are sleeping with your secretary!"

Josh put a hand to his chest. "Now that was just hurtful."

Ainsley appeared suddenly. "Did I miss a pick on Sam session?"

"Get out. All of you, I swear to God, get out of my office." Now he sounded angry. Or hurt, maybe.

They were all taken aback. Josh crept out, as did Toby and CJ. Ainsley paused. She stepped forward and put a package on his desk. "Becca told me to give you that. She meant to give it to you yesterday." She turned and walked out. He opened the wrapping and found a turn-of-the-century copy of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Sam grinned.

Ainsley came back. "Just for the record, I didn't tell them. I don't want this getting out anymore then you do and I'm not vindictive. But Becca found some of Noah's toys in her purse and insisted we call Donna to see if she needed them to get him to sleep and she wanted to know why I had them and I had to explain and I think Josh was there when I was on the phone with her and I'm sorry they're making fun of you." She took a breath and left again.

"Ainsley," he called.

She appeared again, breathing a little off. "Yes?"

"Thank you."

She looked down but he saw her smile. "You're welcome." She scuffed her foot. "Iım going down to the cafeteria, would you like anything?"

"Do you wanna get lunch someplace real?"

She blinked in surprise and looked very young. "Really?"

"Yeah." He stood. "I gotta get out of here."

She nodded. "Sure. I need something to eat. And I like company."

He stepped into the hall. "Come on."

She walked with him. "So, do you have somewhere in mind?"

"What kind of food do you like?"

She shrugged. "I'm pretty openminded. Chinese, American, Italian, whatever."

"Openminded, huh? Okay." He thought as they walked out to his car, managing to avoid any mocking. Sometimes Sam missed Manhattan, cabs on every corner. He was going to have to park in Adams Morgan at lunch hour. He beeped the alarm and locks and opened the passenger door for her. "I've got a place," he said finally.

"What do they serve?"


She stopped with one foot in the door and looked up at him. "Ethiopian?"

"Youıll like it."

"I'd better,² she muttered, climbing in the car.

It did, in fact, take him forever to find a place to park, in one of those weird spots that hung diagonally into the street. Thank God for compact cars. Ainsley climbed out almost gracefully, taking a couple of short quick steps when her heel got caught on the door rim. She frowned at his parking job, then looked up at him. "Impressive."

"Hey," he said, holding up his hands. "I didn't hit anything."

"Well if that's the only criteria. . ."

"Are you hungry or not?"

"I'm hungry, where is this place?"

He walked ahead of her and then turned left suddenly, into the awning covered doorway of a small resteraunt. A quaint bell tinkled over the door. The place was small and narrow, with little tables and pizza-parlor chairs. "Trust me," he said as he led her to a table up on a platform in the window.

She sank into her chair and looked around, then focused on him. "So, what's good here?"

"Everything." The waitress came up to them, and Sam ordered, apparently for both of them. "Trust me," he said again.

"You keep saying that. People who say that are generally setting someone up for something." He looked at her and grinned. Her jaw dropped. "You're setting me up for something! You can't play practical jokes about food, Sam, it's cruel."

Before she could continue lunch came. The waitress was carrying a round metal tray, but when she put it down Ainsley saw that the food was just on the tray. In a big, messy pile in the center of the tray. Huge hunks of bread sat to the side. She gaped at it a moment while the waitress left, then looked at Sam. Her mouth shut with a snap. "Cruel," she proclaimed.

"It's good. It's amazing. You will love this food."

"If I don't what punishment can I enact upon you?" She peered at the pile of food.

He fished out a butter drenched piece of potato. "Ainsley, I will give you my office." He popped the chunk in his mouth.

Her eyes widened and she reached out and picked up a piece of chicken gingerly with two fingers. She peered at it a moment, then put it in her mouth. She chewed thoughtfully a moment, then sighed. "Damn."

He watched her suck the melted butter off her fingers. Oh. . .maybe this place wasn't such a good idea.

"I really wanted that office too," she muttered, picking up a potato. "You have two windows."

"It's drafty."

"Is it so hot it makes you lose weight?" Butter dribbled down her wrist and she caught it with her tounge.

He stared. He wasn't supposed to find anything Ainsley Hayes did attractive, but right now. . . "I. . .um. . .what did you say?"

"I was complaining how hot it was in my office, by all means ignore me." She glanced at him and was mildly disturbed at the way he was looking at her. She picked up another piece of food. "You're not eating."

"Oh. . I. . ." he blinked, and then looked down and hastily scooped up some food with a piece of bread. She smirked and kept popping food in her mouth. It was very good. She hated it when he was right.

"You like it."

She licked her lip. "Unfortunatly, yes. It's very good."

He grinned again. This. . .was a good lunch.

* * * * *

Part 4

Becca was at the kitchen table with her lap top again when Ainsley got home. ³Hey, I brought dinner.²

She didnıt look up. ³What is it?²


That got her attention. ³What?²

Ainsley plopped a take out bag on the table by her sisterıs elbow. ³Itıs amazing. Move your computer or itıll get butter on it.²

Becca saved her work and moved the laptop to the couch. ³Butter?²

³Itıs all smothered in butter.² Ainsley sounded gleeful as she started pulling containers out of the bag. ³Get a big plate.² Becca went in the kitchen and got some plates, she was digging in a drawer for forks when Ainsley yelled. ³No silverware. Itıs finger food.²

Becca came back with the plates. ³Ainse, has the tape worm taken over? Should I be afraid?²

³Hush.² She took a plate from her and started piling food and bread on it. ³Sam took me to this restaurant for lunch. I know it looks horrendous but itıs so good.²

Becca sat. ³You went to lunch with Sam?²

³Yes.² She popped a potato in her mouth. ³I gave him the book, by the way, and he liked it.²

³And in return he took you to lunch?²

³Eat something. I think he took me to lunch because Iım the only one who didnıt tease him about you.²

Becca winced. ³Maybe we shouldnıt have called that Donna person.² She put a piece of butter soaked chicken in her mouth and moaned. ³Oh my God in heaven.²

Ainsley grinned. ³Great isnıt it?²

³This must have so many calories in it.² She ate more. ³Only you could have this for lunch and dinner and not worry about your waist.²

³Iım thinking of going there everyday.²

Becca shook her head. ³So you went out with Sam?²

³Yeah. It was. . . surprisingly nice.²

³Did you talk about politics?²

Ainsley pushed a piece of carrot around with some bread. ³There was a minor tiff about this new minimum wage thing. But we managed to end it without blows.²

³Iım very proud of you.² She studied her. ³So Samıs the guy you spend so much time complaining about.²

³Well itıs just that heıs so annoying.²


³Itıs like he does things with the sole purpose of annoying me.²


³I told you about the ERA thing right?²

³Numerous times. You never did tell me what made him spill the coffee.²

Ainsley turned pink and played with her food again. ³Heıs kind of klutzy.²

³Like you.²

³Much worse then me.²

Becca stared at her. ³Oh my God.²


³Oh God, you do, you really do.²

³What are you talking about?²

³You have a crush on him.²

Ainsleyıs mouth opened and closed a few times. ³I-- I do not-- Thereıs--That is so-- Absolutely--²

³The lady dost attempt to protest too much. You do. This is just like when you were in high school and you had a crush on Mikey LeDoux and you talked about him all the time and complained about how irritating he was. Then whenever he talked to you youıd get all flustered and speak in run on sentences and have to eat. That was when I started the tape worm thing.²

Ainsley was bright red. ³There is no similarity between that school girl crush and the feelings of irritation and mild amusment Samuel Norman Seaborn instills in me.² She piled more food on her plate. Becca smirked but dropped it. She knew her sister better then anyone else. She knew she was right. And she knew exactly what to do about it.


Capitol Steps was performing at the Lincoln Monument and Becca made Sam come with her. Ainsley was no fun. She had a tendancy to heckle. They were sitting by the pool eating chips after the show. She looked over at him. "Why don't you have a girl friend?"

"I have bad luck with women."

"You've never had a girlfriend?"

He gave her an incredulous look. "I've had girlfriends. I even had a fiancee."

She arched her brows. "What was she like?" He looked away and shook his head, not wanting to talk about it. She was quiet. "Ainsley's never had luck with men, either, you know."

He grinned. "That doesn't surprise me."

"I think they can't deal with her tape worm." She popped a chip in her mouth. "I think her standards are too high."

"What's she looking for?"

"Herself with a penis." Sam laughed out loud. Becca shook her head. "Huh, I guess that would be Daddy." She picked up her half drunk Coke and sipped it. "The real problem is she thinks too much. Way too much. She's never just gone with her gut and jumped in with both feet." She grinned. "Something I do all the time."

"You worry a lot about your sister, don't you?"

She shrugged. "I was always the bad sister. The one who consistently got in trouble. Ainsley always argued in my defense. I guess I kind of feel like returning the favor. She needs somebody."

"I was bad when I was your age." He frowned. "No, not really bad. Just an asshole."

"Of you listen to Ainsley you still are." She smiled at him. "Did you really sleep with a call girl?"

He rolled his eyes. "Yes, I really did. I didn't know she was a call girl."

"And she didn't charge you?" She nodded, looking impressed. "I guess you're not trying to prove anything with that car."

He looked down at her. "I'm not even responding to that."

She chuckled softly. "I've been saving that one a while." She looked at him. "What do you think of my sister?"

"She's a Republican."

Becca groaned. "You both do that. Does everyone in this city define everyone by their political affiliation?"

"She's very uptight. Unwinding her occasionally can be fun. The other day I got her to eat Ethiopian food."

"She raved about it all night."

He grinned. "Really?"

"Yeah, she brought it home for dinner for us. It was good. Of course, I gained two pounds eating it and she said she was going to make it a daily ritual."

He looked down at her for a moment. "Are you meddling, Becca?"

She blinked at him. "Me?"


She sighed. "Yeah, yeah I am. Ainsley needs somebody and she ain't getting him on her own."

"And you think that's me?"

She waved a hand. "Of course not. You're just the only other person I know in town." She watched him carefully to gauge his reaction. "Do you have and cute friends?"

"A great many. None that you can meet."

"For her. I can find my own men, thank you very much."

"None of them would like her."

"She's very likable when she's not around you."

"To you."

"She's charming, really. Besides, she likes arguing, she thinks of it as foreplay or something." Becca scratched her chin. "You're right, though. I don't think a politico is a good idea. Maybe I'll take her to a bar in Georgetown on Friday and we'll find her a nice grad student." She watched him out of the corner of her eye."

"Don't, Becca."

She looked at him. "Why not?"

He looked at her. "I donıt like having my buttons pushed. People do it all day. You're doing it now. You want me to admit I'm attracted to your sister? Fine. I am. There, I said it. Watching her eat finger food was the best thing I've done all week." He looked down at her. "Happy?"

She nodded. "Yes." She touched the back of his hand lightly. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that." She took her hand back. "I'm used to manipulating people to get what I want. It's a bad habit."

"Hey, I do that for a living, don't worry."

Becca sighed. "I just want her to be happy. She never does anything to make herself happy." She grinned at him. "Besides, if you can't have me you should get a shot at Hayes sister number two."

"I should tell her you said that."

"Oh, she'd love that." She smiled again. "She thinks you're attractive, too."


She nodded. "After all this time I can tell when she's got a crush on someone. She'd never admit it, I'm sure, but she does. The whole arguing as foreplay thing." She looked at him. "You have that in common."

He considered this for a moment. "Don't meddle, Becca. All else aside, Ainsley and I would be bad politics."

Becca sighed. "Damn politics." She looked at him. "It's too bad, you two would be good together." She held up her hands. "And that's the last thing I'll say."

"Good. You wanna go find some food?"

"Sure." She got to her feet and helped him up. "So," she said brightly as they headed for the car. "Any of those cute friends of yours young enough for me?"


She muttered something under her breath as they got in the car.


"Fine, then take the line out. I'm just saying, it doesn't sound right."

It was Thursday night. It was ten o'clock. And Sam was still at work.

Toby was clicking his pen. "Sometimes, Sam, brevity--"

He waved a hand. "Yeah, yeah. I gotta go grab some food, okay? It's ten o'clock, we seriously missed dinner."

"Go ahead. We can sort this out without you."

Sam left, shutting the door behind him. It's not like it was his speech or anything. He made his way downstairs. There at least should be coffee.

Ainsley was in the cafeteria, nibbling on a leftover donut and sipping coffee. She was staying late, just like she had Tuesday night and last weekend. Becca had made it her mission in life to drag her out to the clubs to meet men. Ainsley had gone once, only to be ditched by her sister after an hour. After that she'd made it a point to stay at work as late as possible. Usually by eleven Becca got fed up and went by herself.

The door opened and Ainsley looked up. She sighed. Just what she needed.

"I'm never writing again," he grumbled.

"Problems with the speech?" she asked as he passed her.

"They're ripping it appart. Is there any food here?"

She frowned. "You can look. I dug up a donut."


"I didn't really notice." She held it up to him. "Wanna bite?"

He opened his mouth and took a bite. She took it back, finding herself way too intriuged by the way his mout moved. She reached up and wiped away a smear of jelly off his lip. He smiled. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," she said softly. She resisted the urge to lick her thumb and wiped it with a napkin instead. "I need a refill," she said, grabbing her cup and standing. "I'll help you look for a snack." She walked over to the kitchen. "So what are they doing to your speech?"

He followed her and he hopped onto a counter. "Toby thinks I'm too verbose."

She poured herself more coffee, then reached for another cup and poured him one. "So is he. So is the president." She held the cup out for him. "I wouldn't think that would make you stand out."

"Thanks." He took a sip. "Well, compared to you, we're all practically mute."

She frowned at him. "That was an uncalled for insult when I'm being so nice to you."

He sighed. "You're right. I'm sorry. I'm just in a bad mood. Sometimes I feel like no one listens to anything I say. Like I'm just some kid they humor."

She gave him a weak smile. "I know how you feel. It's not easy being the token Republican."

"Your sister's trying to set us up, you know."

"She's trying to set me up with anything breathing."

"Yeah. She said she'd settle for any of my cute friends."

Ainsley sighed. "Everyday I regret agreeing to let her stay a little more."

He peered at the small, flower-patterned teacup he was drinking out of. "Where the hell did you find these?"

Her forehead wrinkled. "One of the cupboards."

He stared at the cup. "I meant. . .I meant to tell you how much I enjoyed having lunch with you the other day."

She looked up at him in surprise, then looked into her own cup. "I had fun too. It's nice talking to you when we aren't arguing."

"Not that arguing isn't entertaining."

"Well yes, we do it so well."

He swallowed the last of his coffee. "I've gotta get back upstairs."

She sighed. "I should get home." They both moved to put their cups down at the same time and somehow, the gift of the klutz, managed to put them down in the same spot. The delicate china shattered even as they both tried to move out of each others way. There was a moment of confusion and Sam ended up with a handful of shards and Ainsley had a long, deep gash on her forearm.

She looked at the cut a moment as blood welled up and started to drip down to her wrist. Then the pain hit and she made a squeaking noise.

"Shit." Sam dropped the broken cup peices on the counter and pulled her over to the metal sink. "Let me see."

She held her arm over the sink as he wiped it off. She was still making that noise.

"I think this is going to need stitches."

She nodded. "Yeah," she managed.

He found some dish towels and wrapped her arm in it. "Come on, I'll take you to the hospital."

"O-okay," she whispered.

He put an arm around her shoulders and helped her up the stairs.

* * * * *

Part 5

Ainsley wasn't really aware of the drive to the hospital, she was in a mild shock. She snapped out of it when Sam sat her in an uncomfortable waiting room chair and darted to the nurses' station. She watched him argue with the woman and he finally cam back, a clipboard in his hand. She blinked at him. "I have to fill out forms?"

"Can't write, can you? I'll do it. You're on the government insurance right?" He asked her the assorted questions, including her date of birth and middle name. "Geraldine. And you make fun of Norman?"

She made a face. "It's a family name. The curse of the older child."

He bounced up and went back to the nurse. "Here. Can she go in now, before she bleeds all over the floor?"

The woman, who was probably more harried and overworked then actually mean, took the form. "She'll be next on the list."

"Thanks." He went back to her and in a couple of minutes they called her name. Sam had to help her walk into the little exam room. Sam sat on the bed next to her. "When Josh was in the hospital, I was here so much I was on a first name basis with the people at the front desk."

She looked at him. "I spent a lot of time in the hospital as a kid. I injured myself every few weeks."

He grinned. "My friends had a joke when I was in college. Who has and who hasn't been to the ER with Sam. It was sad." He tilted his head back to show her a scar on the underside of his jaw. "I like to tell people this was a bad shaving accident."

She grinned. "What really happened?"

"I thought I could leap over a fence. I ran, took a hurdle, and missed."

She chuckled and twitched her skirt up to show him a scar on her knee beneath her pantyhose. "We were on vacation. I jumped into a lake and somehow managed to land on a submerged rock."

He grinned and rolled up one of his shirt sleeves to reveal an ugly bruise, complete with a scab. The bruise was yellowing. "I got my shoelace caught in the escalator at the National Zoo Metro stop."

She laughed out loud. "Becca told me about that. She said she'd never seen anybody but me do something on accident that looked so planned."

He pulled up one pant leg to show her a scar on his shin. "I was attacked by a tree."

She offered her ankle, marred by three thin marks. "My bike went rabid."

"I have one in a somewhat indecent place that's a souvenier of my first attempt to lose my virginity." He grinned a little. "Unfortunatly the old couch in my parents basement was in a bad mood that day."

She started to giggle uncontrolably and went to cover her mouth with her hands. It pulled on her arm and she winced. "I broke a leg having sex once."


"We fell out of the top bunk in his dorm room."

"I sprained--" he stopped. "Jesus, Ainsley, you and I are competing over injuries, aren't we?"

She blinked. "Oh my. Yes, we are."

He laughed out loud. The doctor came in at that moment. "Ainsley Hayes?"

She nodded and offered him her arm. "Some broken porcelin cut me."

He came over and examined it quickly. "This'll need stitches. I'll send someone in as soon as possible."

She made a face. "Okay," she said quietly.

"We'll get you stitched up shortly."

Four hours later, they finally left the hospital.

Ainsley sat in the passneger seat of his car, frowning at the bandage on her arm. They'd given her a shot of something before stitching her and she felt mildly loopy. Loopy, but good. She smiled at him. "Becca's probably still at the bars."

"I'll help you get inside."

"Thank you. I think I'm going to need it." He parked in front of her place and came around to help her out of the car and up the stairs. "I'm going to miss work tomorrow," she complained mildly.

"I'll write you a note," Sam said, taking her keys from her and unlocking the door.

She chuckled. "I didn't know you had that kind of authority." He got the door open and she went inside. One look at the couch affirmed Becca was no where to be found. She turned back to him and stumbled, landing against his chest.

He caught her. "Hey," he said softly.

She looked up at him, grinning at first, then it faded slowly. "Hey," she whispered.

"You have blood on your shirt, you know. Should probably. . ."

"Change. I should. . . change."

"Yeah," he said, but he didn't appear interesting in moving, aside from bending his head down a little closer. "That would be. . .that would be good."

"I'm not sure. . . my arm. . . if I can lift it. . . to change. . ."

She could feel his breath fanning across her cheek, he was so close. "I could. . .help. I mean I . . .you know. . ."

"You could help me. . . I wouldn't. . .mind help. . ." She was barely breathing.

"Yeah," he breathed, and then he finally kissed her. She melted into him, kissing him back, pressing into him. "Mmm," he murmured. She whimpered softly, nuzzling at him. She rubbed his back gently, up and down, slowly. He lifted his head. "Ainsley?"

"Yes, Sam?"

"We really. . .um. . ." He kissed her again.

"What?" she whispered.

"We should. . ." He kissed her again. "You know. . ."

"Go to the bedroom?" she offered helpfully.

He let out the breath he'd been holding. "God bless you."

She laughed softly and took hold of his hand with her good one. "This way."

"Are you sure your arm's okay to. . .I mean. . .well, considering the extent of the injury and the amount of stitches I just concerned. . ."

"It's still numb from the shot. And I'm supposed to use it normally so it doesn't get stiff. So I don't think this will be a problem."

"Good. That's good." So he kissed her again. She sighed and kissed him back, burying her good hand in his hair to hold him down to her. "Still want to change?"

"Sure." She fisted the hem of her shirt and pulled it up and off. She reached behind her and unhooked her bra, letting it fall off her arms. "Better."

"Oh. God." He couldn't help but stare as she unzipped her skirt and stepped out of it, then wiggled out of her underwear and hose.

When she was done she was breathing hard, and the longer he stared the faster it got. Finally she said, "Sam?"

"Um . .. yes?"

"Are you going to touch me or are you trying to do this telepathicly?"

"Sorry," he said, looking a little startled. He lifted one hand, and cupped a breast in his palm.

She sighed softly. "Thank you." She stepped towards him. "I sounded bossy there, didn't I? I didn't mean to sound bossy. I'm sorry."

He dipped his head and kissed her throat. "I love it when you sound bossy."

She smiled, biting his ear. "No you don't."

He kissed her, brishing his thumbs over her nipples. "It's growing on me."

She shuddered. She bit his throat gently. "I'll want that in writing."

"I'll think about is." His hands slid around her, down over her back to cup her rear. He pressed her against him and she could feel him against her stomach. Her eyes widened. Her fingers went to the buttons of his shirt. He helped her because it was hard to open buttons with one hand. She drew her nails down the center of his chest as he shrugged out of the shirt. She smiled, watching his muscles move. He grinned, kissing her again and again. He picked her up as gently as he could and set her down on top of the blanket on her bed.

She leaned back on the covers, sighing a little at how good it felt to lie down. She twirled her finger around his navel, tracing the tip over the line of hair that disappeared into his pants. Sam kneeled on the bed. "Your skin is amazing."

She smiled. "Thank you," she said softly, leaning up to kiss him. He met her mouth with his, bracing his arms on either side of her. That was a protective thing. She'd bet anything in the world that was a protective thing. Fortunatly she really had no problem being protected tonight. She kissed him throughly, running her hand over his shoulders and back. She managed to move her bad arm enought to touch his, tracing the muscle.

"Don't hurt yourself," he murmured, dipping his head down to kiss a trail along her collarbone.

"I won't." She tipped her head back, toes curling. She pressed a kiss into his hair. His mouth wound it's way downward, over the hard tips of her breasts. He took one it his mouth and pulled. She made a mewling noise that was incredibly cute. Her back bowed, arching up to him. He groaned, not a cute noise but good just the same.

Ainsley trailed her nails over his shoulders, up and down his spine, everywhere she could reach. She writhed a bit beneath him, loving what he was doing to her. His mouth had reached her navel, so he was mostly out of her reach. "Careful," he whispered.

She made a little frustrated noise and started playing with his hair. She was out of options. "I didn't hurt you," she murmured.

He lifted his head and propped his chin on his hand. "Yes, but if you pull your stitches the only place we will be going tonight is back to the hospital, and that could turn out to be painful."

She frowned at him. "I'm not going to pull out my stiches. Have some faith in me, Sam."

He kissed her hipbone. "Promise?"

She shuddered. "My word as a Republican."

His hands slid down her thighs, easing them apart. "You're gonna have to do better than that."

"My word as a North Carolinian?"

His mouth followed the curve of her leg. "Strangely, I'm one of the few people who would take your word as a lawyer." He kissed her inner thigh. "What do you say?"

"Deal," she breathed, back arching again. He kissed her center and she moaned, the noise low and long, shuddering. "Yes," she whispered.

He found the tiny bud with the tip of his tounge, and stroked it gently, slowly. She made that mewling noise again. He was getting to like that noise a whole lot. Her toes curled and her legs bent unconsciously. He pushed her legs farther apart, drinking her, drowning in her scent.

She said his name on a wail, hips rocking in a rythym she longed to share with him. But this was too good to make him stop. Nothing had ever been this good. Then he reached up, and she felt his fingers pinch her nipples, hard. She bucked at that. That was better. How could something be better? She gripped the blanket beneath her. "Sam. . . close. . . please. . . so close. I can. . . oh, there, right there."

She thought he said somthing, but she didn't know what because she couldn't hear it. She felt the words vibrate against her. She screamed out his name and lost it, arching up off the bed. Her body was throbbing, pulsing with waves of pleasure that didn't seem to have an end. She dug the fingers of her good hand into his hair, holding him to her as she rode out the spasms.

He shuddered and rolled off of her, flat on his back beside her legs. "We have a serious problem."

She smiled lazily as echoing tremors shook her. "No," she drawled. "Ah have no problem at all. Ah'm perfect." Her accent had gotten ridiculously thick.

He crawled up to her and kissed her mouth. "Well, I am very glad for that."

She turned her lazy smile on him. "What problem do you have?"

"Well, maybe we don't. . . do you have condoms? Because I haven't carried condoms since college. I think I have some at my place but they might be expired and I would have brought one but I didnıt think this was going to happen. Well, how could I--"

She reached over and covered his mouth with her hand. "I'm on the pill."

He looked startled. "Really?"

"I have a very irregular cycle. I got on the pill to regulate it and ease adverse symptoms."

"Oh." He blinked. "Are you sure about this? I mean. . ."

She sighed. "You're going to start rationalizing, and thinking too much now, Sam and I really don't think it's healthy."

"I'm serious, Ainsley. I don't know about you but I've never. . "

She arched both her brows. "What?"

He kissed her mouth. "Made love like this," he said softly. "Without one."

She looked up into his eyes, looking shy. "I haven't either." She was quiet a moment. "I've heard it feels nice," she offered.

He let out a shuddery breath. "Yeah." He kissed her again.

She kissed him, pressing her palm to his cheek. "I want to do this, Sam. I really do."

"Good, so do I."

"Come here, then."

He rolled into his back again. "Actually I'm going to take my pants off before you try to help and pull a stitch, which we've both agreed would be bad."

"This is a good idea," she said seriously, watching him.

He got rid of his socks,pants and boxers quickly. She sucked in a breath, eyes going very wide and she just stared at him, like he had when she'd stripped. He blinked. "You know, now I can see how this can be uncomfortable."

Her cheeks turned pink and she looked up at the ceiling. "Sorry."

He grinned at her and leaned over to give her a kiss. "Don't be."

She bit his lower lip. "I would think your ego would appreciate such a display."

"Oh, beleive me, it does."

"Glad to be of service." He kissed her mouth, again and again, longer each time.

She was starting to breath hard again, after calming down considerably from her climax. Her mouth met his for every kiss with equal passion, equal need. She reached between them to touch his shaft, fingers stroking up and down his length.

He caught her hand. "Easy."

She kissed his chin. "Look but don't touch?"

"Yeah. Are you ready?"

She nodded her head eagerly. "I need to feel you inside me right now," she said in her typicaly guileless way.

The words made him shudder as he pushed into her. That adorable mewling noise escaped her again and she held his arms tightly. She was trembling a little and deep inside tiny, delicate muscles moved around him.

"Are you okay? Am I hurting you?"

Her chest was heaving. "This feels. . . so incredible," she breathed.

He tried to chuckle a little. "You're telling me." It felt amazing. Nothing had ever felt this good. She bent her knees, drawing them up to her chest, watching his face. His eyes fluttered closed. "Oh, God, Ainsley, just stay still."

She obeyed, because if what he was feeling was half of what she was feeling this probably wasn't going to last long if she didn't do what he said. She did arch her neck to kiss his shoulder. He was still for another moment, and then finally he began to move, ever so slowly.

She moaned softly, clinging to him as he moved. She shifted her hips up to meet him. "Ainsley," he hissed. He picked up a rythym, the feel of her around him nearly painful.

Maybe she shouldn't move. Maybe she should just let him do it all. She shuddered as the friction started to set off sparks inside her. She could deal with that. "Sam, this feels. . . like I can't. . ."

His hand slid between them to touch her right above where they joined. She made a noise that was almost pain. "Jesus, Sam. Right there." The sparks were setting off fires and the fires were consuming her. "Sam, I can't, I can't." Her head tossed back and forth on her pillow and she expolded. Her body clenched around him, spasming again and again. She arched against his weight on top of her, clinging to him.

Oh, that was it. There was no more holding on. He let go, and let the pleasure rush through him. He jusy barely caught himself before collapsing onto her. She felt heat spread deep inside her and it was almost enough to cause another climax. She'd never been multi orgasmic before Samuel Seaborn. She sensed him holding himself above her, not wanting to crush her. Well that was unnecessary. She knocked his elbow out, sending him down on her. She smiled. Better.

He didn't have the strength to move. He kissed the side of her face gently. She turned her head and kissed his mouth tenderly, sleepily. He smiled and kissed her brow. She sighed softly and showed him her arm. "Didn't pull a single one," she murmured. ³Now, whereıs that virginity scar?²

"It's not a virginity scar. I most definitly did not have sex that night."

She giggled. "She didn't take you to the hospital, did she?"

"No. If I'd gone to the hospital I probably wouldn't have a scar on my ass. But I was embarassed."

"It's on your butt?" She arched her neck, trying to look over his shoulder. "Roll. Lemme see."

"Jesus." He rolled off her, over onto his stomach, making a mess. She was going to have to wash her quilt. "Right there, the long thin line."

She ran her fingers over it and the muscles twitched. "Sexy."

He pushed onto his side. "Only you would see that as sexy." He flattened his palm on her stomach, and his fingers brushed over a crescent shaped scar that was like a dent in the skin. "We are the two most beaten up people on earth. What's this one?"

She chuckled. "Becca bit me."

Both of his eyebrows went up.

"We were kids. Well, she was like two, I guess. We were fighting over a doll and she got mad and leaned over and bit me. My parents didn't take me to the hospital because they thought DYFS would take us away. So it scarred."

He leaned over and kissed it. "So you broke a leg having sex?"

"Yeah." She kissed his mouth. "Considering our records it's amazing we didn't kill each other tonight."

He sucked on her lower lip. "Mmm, I'm glad we didn't."

She stroked a hand down his chest. "Me too." She tugged him down to her, wondering if he was still young enough for a double header, when she heard keys jingle in the front door. She sat up fast.

"Is that Becca?"

The door slammed open and they heard giggling. Ainsley sighed. "Sounds like it."

He blinked. "What should I do?"

"Get up, get dressed, go. She'll never let me hear the end of this." She gave him a push, trying to tug her quilt off at the same time.

He climbed off the bed, scrambling into his clothes. "Don't hurt yourself."

She yanked the quilt off the bed and wrapped it up on itself, shoving it under the bed. She hunted in a drawer for a night gown. In the living room they could hear Becca fumbling around. Ainsley came out with a long blue silk thing and tossed it at him. "Help me," she hissed.

"Lift your arms." He slid it over them and smoothed it down over her body. The silk clung to every curve.

She looked up at him and buttoned his buttons for him. "I had a nice time tonight," she offered.

He swallowed. "So did I." He kissed her again.

She kissed him back. In the living room there was a loud thump followed by Becca cursing. Ainsley was amused to notice her sister's accent reappeared when she was drunk. She stepped back from Sam. "Bye."

"Bye." He cracked open the door and watched for Becca to close her eyes on the couch before he crept out.

Her eyes popped open when he passed her. "Sam? What are you doing here?"

"Ainsley cut herself, I had to take her to the hospital."

"God. Is she okay?"

"She's fine. They gave her painkillers. I helped her get to bed."

"That was nice of you." She rolled over. "G'night Sam."

"Night, Becca."

She waved a hand, asleep before he got out the door.

* * * * *

Part 6

The next day, Sam left on his lunch hour to check on Ainsley. He was met at the door by a very frazzled looking Becca. "Oh, thank God." She pulled him inside. "She's driving me crazy. She won't take her painkillers and she keeps trying to clean things. She never cleans unless she's riled up about something but she won't tell me what's wrong. I'm so going to kill her if I don't get out of here." She grabbed her jacket and purse. "Go talk to her while I go take a walk and scream or something." She grabbed the door handle. "And if you get the urge to smother her, don't fight it." She pulled the door open and left.

He went in and shut the door behind him. "Hi."

She was stitting in bed looking cranky. Her eyes widened. "Hi."

"Becca says you won't take your painkillers."

"They're Vicodin. They'll knock me unconscious."

"You have the day off."

"I don't like being drugged," she said primly.

"I just came by to see how you were doing."

"I'm fine. I'll be back on Monday." She eyed him. "How are you?"

He shoved his hands in his pockets and grinned. "Iım good."

She couldn't help but smile. "Last night was. . . fun."

"Yeah it was." He sighed and sat beside her. "Becca said you were agitated. So I'm guessing you've been thinking the same thing I have."

She looked at him. "What have you been thinking?"

"About how we work together. At the White House."

"Yes. A White House that is trying to get re-elected. That doesn't need a scandal."

"Josh and Donna are bad enough. I'd hate to make the west wing look like a giant orgy or something."

"Yeah. So this should probably just be a one time thing. That we'll look on fondly but never repeat."

"I'm not sorry, Ainsley."

She looked down. "Neither am I." She made a face. "Which is sort of surprising." She looked up at him. "But I do think this can't happen again."

"Yeah. It was a one time thing."

"Yeah," she said softly, suddenly watching his mouth.

"Ainsley?" he whispered.

"Um, yeah?"

"How about we start our never again policy tomorrow?" Then he kissed her.

She sighed softly. "Did I hear Becca go out?"

"Yes, you did."

She started unbuttoning his shirt. "You know, this doesn't count." She kissed his throat. "It's like, goodbye sex."

He cupped her breasts through her t-shirt. "Yeah."

The front door slammed.

Ainsley whimpered. "Shit."

Sam sighed, flopping back onto the mattress. He had a rather obvious erection. "I can't go out there."

She stared at the door. There was clinking sounds, the fridge opened and closed. Apparently Becca was eating. Ainsley kissed him, then his bare chest. "You know what else doesn't count?"

"What?" he whispered.

She undid his belt, then worked on his fly. "Stuff that isn't sex." He sucked in a breath. She pulled his zipper down and freed his shaft from his boxers. She glanced up at him. "Shh," she whispered, then took him inside her mouth. He bit his lip, closing his eyes.

She moved her tounge over him, bobbing her head up and down. She cupped the globes at his base with one hand, shifting them gently. His hips came off the bed. "Ainsley," he hissed. "Ainsley, come here."

She lifted her head. She started tugging her panties off, fumbling. He reached down to help her, and they ripped. She kicked the scrap of cotton away and lowered herself onto him. "Oh, God." She closed around him, a perfect fit. She sat still, breathing hard. She could get used to this. This flesh on flesh, nothing between them. She found one of his hands and weaved their fingers together.

He thrust up into her. "Shhh." She bit her lip, shaking her head. She moved on him, up and down. In the kitchen the stereo came on and one of Becca's crunchy bands started to croon something. Ainsley smiled.

He reached up and caught a hand at the nape of her neck, pulling her down for a kiss. It moved her into a position where her clit rubbed against him as he moved,

She gasped softly into his mouth. "Sam," she breathed. "Right there." Her motions got more erratic as she was distracted by the tightening deep inside. Snippets of lyric pierced the fog.

I could go crazy on a night like tonight.

He dug his fingers into the flesh of her rear, pulling her as far down as possible.

Summer's begining to give up her fight

She gasped. She stroked her hand over chest, rocking on him quickly.

And every thought's a possibility

Sam kissed her again, trying desperatly to keep quiet. He pressed his mouth to her ear, "Jesus, that's good."

Voices are heard, but nothing is seen

She swallowed hard. "It's perfect," she breathed, just as she toppled over the edge. She pressed her face into his chest to smother her quiet cries.

Why do you spend this time with me

He arched up again, losing himself inside her.

May be an equal mystery

She lay on his chest, breathing hard, reveling in the after glow. She kissed his shoulder and rolled off him. "I have to ask her what song that is," she whispered.

"It's loud. You think she heard us?"

She shook her head. "She plays that stuff when she's writing. She doesn't hear anything."

"I should go," he said softly.

"Yeah." She reached down and fixed his pants for him. "Thanks for coming by."

"I'll see you at work tomorrow. Feel better." He kissed her gently. Then he got up and walked out of her bedroom, leaving the door open enough to see him walk right past Becca and out of her apartment without a word.

Maybe that's all that we need, is to meet in the middle of impossibility

The front door slammed shut.


Becca came into Ainsley's room after dinner with two beers. "Here, if you won't take your pills have some alcohol."

Ainsley took it and took a long, long drink. "Thank you."

Becca stood over her, watching her a long moment. She took in Ainsley's nervous behavior, desire to clean and the fact that her quilt, for some reason, now lived under the bed. She bent real close and peered in her sister's face. She grinned. "Oh, God, you slept with Sam."

Ainsley's jaw dropped. "How did-- What is that, whore radar?"

Becca shreiked and climbed in the bed with her. "What happened? What's he like? Tell, tell."

She groaned. "It was just. . . he brought me home and I was a little dopey from the shot they gave me and I stumbled and he caught me and the next minute we were kissing and he acted all nervous and I told him we could come in the bedroom and then--"

"You slept with him last night, too?!"

Ainsley frowned. "Can I have a cookie?"

Becca ran out to the kitchen and grabbed a box of Oreos, then came back and crawled in bed with her. Ainsley took a cookie and unscrewed it. Becca poked her. "So?"

"So what?"

"How was it?"


"Come on, Ainsley, we never got to do sister chat stuff. You were in college by the time I was dating. Share with me, please?"

Ainsley studied her. She actually seemed sincere. She groaned. "Oh God in heaven, it was amazing."

Becca shrieked. "I knew it! The car is he--?"

"I think the car is trying to prove something with him." Ainsley grinned. "It was so good, Becca. Not even just the sex. He was so sweet and worried about my stitches and about not having protection."

"Well, he is a nice guy, despite the fact you belong to different political parties."

"I know, I know."

"So what's going to happen now?"

Ainsley sighed. "Nothing."

Her sister gaped. "What do you mean, nothing?"

"We can't have sex. We work together. At the White House. So we agreed last night was just a one time thing. And that's it." She looked down. "It was just. . . like one of those soft places, like in your book. Things came together just perfectly. . . but it can't happen again."

"And this afternoon was. . .?"

Ainsley blushed. "Goodbye sex."

Becca groaned. "Only you could have a night of hot passionate sex with a sexy guy who sets off sparks when he talks to you and logic it into nothingness. You suck."

"Actually Sam made me stop-"

"See! Where are you going to get new jokes like that? You need meaningless sex."

"Maybe. But I can't have it with Sam."

Becca shook her head, climbing off the bed. "I'm in the middle of a thought, so I'll leave you alone. Try to sleep."

"Thanks." She paused until her sister reached the door. "Hey, Becca?"


"What was that song you were playing earlier? It was playing just when Sam left?"

"Umm. . . Mystery. The Indigo Girls."

"It's a nice song."

Becca studied her. "Yeah."

"Could you play it again?"

"Sure, Ainse. You okay?"

"Yeah." She put the cookies and her beer on the nightstand and rolled over. Becca watched her another minute, then went out to the living room. She turned on the CD and found the song and hit repeat. Then went to work on her laptop.

We're standing at opposite poles. Equal partners in a mystery

* * * * *

Part 7

Becca had made friends at work and they were all driving to Virginia for the day to go shopping and hit some clubs afterwards. Ainsley was all set to spend the day with a book and some rental movies. She was in the middle of a very hot sex scene in her book when the phone rang. She groaned and picked it up. "Hello."

"Help me."

"Who is this?"

He sighed. "Sam. Don't you recognize my voice?"

"Not when it's all high pitched and panicky. What's wrong?"

"Donna made me watch Noah. I can't get him to stop crying."

"And you called me?"

"Actually, I was calling Becca, she was always good with him."

"She's not here. She went to Virginia for the day."

Sam made a pained noise and she could hear Noah wailing. "Ainsley. . .?"

"Why? Because I'm a girl?"


"CJıs a girl. As is Margaret, Cathy, Ginger, Bonnie, Carol--"


She sighed, looking forlornly at her book. Rafe and Gwendylon would still be locked in an embrace in front of a blazing fire when she got back. "Where do you live?"

"Brightwood. Please?"

"Okay, okay." She got his address from him, slipped into some shoes and went.

Sam lived in a nice brick building with a comfortable looking lobby. Ainsley read his name off the gold plated mailboxes and took the elevator to the fifth floor. She heard a baby's cry all the way down the hall. She rapped on his door.

He opened it. "Hi."

She stepped inside. "What's wrong with him?"

"I don't know. I don't know anything about babies."

She took the baby out of his arms and balanced him on her hip. She licked the tip of her finger and slid it into Noah's mouth. She found a sharp little lump on his gum and cooed. "Oh, he's teething." She bounced him. "It's okay, Noah. Let's see if Uncle Sam has some ice." She carried him into the kitchen.

"He's teething?"

"Yes." She carried the baby to the freezer and pulled it open. She took out a tray of ice, pulled out a piece of ice and bit it in half. She chewed on the half she bit off and put the other into the baby's mouth. He stopped crying immediatly and started to suck on it. She grinned at him and kissed the top of his head. "That's a good boy."

Sam grinned. "You're good with him."

She smiled. "Becca was born two weeks after my ninth birthday. It was like having a living doll to play with. I learned a lot about babies."

He leaned against his counter. "Do you have any other siblings?"

She glanced up, swaying Noah back and forth. "Nope."

"That's a big gap."

She walked around the room with the baby. "I had a younger brother. He died of SIDS when he was two months. I was three."

"I'm sorry," he said. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry."

She shrugged. "It's not a family secret or anything. They. . . mourned him for a long time. I remember mom crying a lot. And hugging me. When I was six they started trying for another one. She had a series of miscarriages. Finally she got pregnant with Becca. The doctors had all sorts of dire predictions for her. Retardation, physical deformaties, health problems. But she was fine. They treated her like a princess." She gave him a wry smile. "Which explains her personality."

"No wonder she's so scared of your parents."

She looked up in surprise. "Scared?"

"She's terrified of disappointing them."

Ainsley reached in the freezer for more ice. "My parents, my father in particular, are very good at letting their children know what they expect from them." She gave the ice to Noah. "Even if those things aren't what their children want. I liked law and politics. I probably would have done it without Daddy's legacy. Becca has other passions." She smiled. "Which I'm just starting to discover. I never really knew her before now."

"I'm an only child."

"Any reason?"

"Actually, I take that back," he said, sounding a little bitter. "I have a brother and a sister. Half anyway. But I've never met them."

She looked over at him. "Do you want to meet them?"

"I don't know."

She sat at his kitchen table, bouncing Noah on her knee. "It's up to you. . . but I never knew Becca very well, I'm amazed she came to me for help after Stanford kicked her out. But I've been getting to know her. . . I think I would have missed out on a lot if I hadn't. In the end your siblings can be all you have."

He opened the fridge and took out turkey and a jar of mayonaise. "My mother wanted more children. Dad said he didn't want anymore. But he had no problem having two with his mistress."

Noah had finished his ice and had fallen asleep cuddled against Ainsley's chest. "I'm not saying he wasn't a jerk, Sam. But that's not their fault." She offered him a weak smile. "You might need them for organs one day."

Sam was making himself a sandwich. "You want some?" He held up the turkey.

She nodded. "Yes please." She nodded towards Noah. "Is there a crib I can put him down in?"

He pointed to a door. "It's in my bedroom."

She got up, holding Noah to her heart, and carried him into Sam's room. She set him in the crib, on his stomach. She hummed softly a few moments, rubbing his back, then tiptoed out of the room. "How did you get stuck with him today?" she asked when she reached the kitchen. "More mayonaise, please."

"Payback for borrowing him to pick up girls. And Josh asked. Today's Donna's birthday, he's got stuff planned all day. Baby free."

"That's so sweet. She really has him wrapped around her finger."

"He adores her."

She traced her nails over his table. "Must be nice."

"Yeah." He brought her her sandwich, then sat down to take a bite of his.

She bit into hers, licking a dollop of mayo off her lip. "Thank you," she muttered.

"Thank you for coming here."

She shrugged. "I was just reading. You sounded desperate."

He grinned. "I was."

"I think you owe me now."

He looked up. "I can think of some interesting ways to repay you."

She blinked, then looked down at her sandwich. "Sam."

He swallowed. "Yeah. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."

"We agreed on one time. We can't go around breaking our word."

"I know."

She glanced up. "Unless we could think of some reasonable way it wouldn't count."

He scooted his chair closer to hers. "Well. . we already established that things that are not sex aren't affected by the agreement."

She pushed her plate away a little. "That's true, that's true."

He leaned over and reached up, curving a hand around the back of her neck to draw her close.

She sighed, eyes drifting shut.

And from the back room Noah started to wail.

He groaned. He hadn't even kissed her yet.

She opened her eyes. "I'll go check on him," she whispered, pulling away. She went into the bedroom and scooped up the baby, rocking him. "Shhh. It's okay." She cuddled him. "Honestly Noah, you couldn't have waited ten minutes?"

He nuzzled into her, little fists grabbing at her shirt.

She walked him around the room, looking at the things littering Sam's dresser and night stand. Noah settled again, eyes closed and she started to sing to him, very softly, putting him carefully in the crib. She went through every lullaby she knew until she was sure he was asleep again. Then she went back to Sam.

He was still sitting at the kitchen table. "Nightmare, I think," she said, sitting again.

"I was thinking, Ainsley. . ."

Her eyes went wide. "Yes Sam?" She looked so cute, and hopeful that he had figured out a way to have sex that wouldn't count.

"We can't keep doing this. We're defeating the entire point of the one-time-thing agreement if we keep attempting to circumvent it."

Her face fell. "Yeah. You're right." She sighed. "I should probably go. We have trouble being alone together."

He looked away. He wanted to get rid of that stupid agreement. But he didn't say it. "Thank you for coming to help me."

"You're welcome. Thank you for the sandwich." She stood. "I'll go, then."

He looked up at her, his eyes unreadable. "See you Monday."

"Yeah." She looked a him a moment. "You know, I don't think kissing is affected by the agreement one way or the other."

He blew out a breath. "Ainsley. . ."

She looked down. "Nevermind." She turned and walked out to the living room to get her purse. "I'll see you around," she called over her shoulder.

When she was gone he dropped his head onto the table, trying to figure out how he'd managed to fuck this up.


Ainsley had stayed in the basement, and Sam stayed upstairs. It was probably best that way. He was afraid of what inevitably happened when they were alone.

He's promised Becca he would take her sailing that Saturday. He's given her directions to the Marina on the Potomac and which slip he was in. She assured him she'd be able to find it and would meet him there. He was onboard already, checking his ropes.

He heard footsteps on the dock and looked over to see Ainsley standing on the pier, holding a cooler and looking like she wished she was anywhere else. "Hi Sam."

"Hey. Where's Becca?"

"She's sick. She woke up and couldn't breathe through her nose. She couldn't get a hold of you and felt bad because you were looking forward to going out. So I came out. I can go if you. . ."

"Have you ever been sailing?"

She shook her head. "No. Am I dressed all right?" She was in a pale blue blouse tied off at the waist and white shorts. Her feet were in white Keds and her hair was back in a pony tail.

"You look perfect." He put one foot on the rail and held out a hand to help her up. "Come on."

She took his hand and leapt into the boat, eyes widening a little as the boat rocked beneath her. She handed him the cooler. "I brought lunch."

"Thank you. That's great." He took the cooler and disappeared down a small set of stairs into the cabin. She watched him go. That man really did justice to a pair of khaki shorts. She let out a long breath. This was going to be a long day. She wandered around the deck, getting used to the motion, then took a seat on the bench near the rail.

He gunned the motor to life, pulling them out of the slip. She tipped her head into wind, eyes closing. He came back out when the reached the Chesapeake, motor off now. He was moving things around, opening up the sails, tugging on ropes. "Come here," he called.

She jumped a little, then went over to him. "Can I help?"

"Yep. Here, hold this." He handed her a rope. He gave her instructions, and the wind filled the sails, pushing them forward.

She grinned up at him, holding the rope tightly. He went over to do something elsewhere on the boat and she found herself staring at him. The way his muscles moved beneath his clothes. She looked away, then shifted uncomfortably. A very long day.

They sailed south all morning, until they reached open ocean. She'd never seen Sam stay so quiet for so long. He seemed to be enjoying the wind and water, lost in his own thoughts. She did the same. It was incredebly soothing.

Around one, he dropped anchor so they could eat lunch. She'd packed a few different types of sandwiches, fruit, yogurt, bottled drinks and muffins. She leaned against the rail, legs stretched out, eating her sandwich. "This is nice," she said finally. "You can really think out here."

"Yeah. When they told me about the president's MS, I took the boat out. Awful weather. But I just sat out in the bay for hours. Just trying to sort my thoughts out."

She nodded. "I guess there isn't anywhere on land you can find this kind of solitude." A breeze stirred and she pulled the elastic out of her hair so she could feel it move.

He watched her. "Not a lot of people I can take out here. Most of them think it's just my yuppie passtime. Josh gets seasick. We learned that the hard way." He took a bite of his sandwich. "It's not like the car. This boat was never a status symbol."

She smiled. "It just makes you happy?"

He looked at the water. "You're not going to mock me?"

She shook her head. "I promise."

"The water never argues with you. Never laughs at you, never ignores you. It listened to me rant about Bartlet and politics for hours. It let me cry when Josh was shot. It's comforting in a weird way. I guess it's the same thing people like Toby and President Bartlet get out of religion."

Ainsley suddenly felt like she might cry. She reach out and touched his foot, the only thing she could reach. "I'd never mock you for saying that," she whispered.

He shrugged a little, sliding closer to her. "I'm glad you came today, Ainsley."

She smiled. "Me too." She took her hand back.

He reached out and caught it in his. "You know, I fell overboard once."

She looked down at their hands. Without conscious thought she weaved their fingers together. "You did?"

"Yeah. During a big race. It was on ESPN."

She smiled, but she was still looking at their hands. She had a feeling if she looked at his face she'd look at his mouth. And that would be bad. "You mean I could get a copy of it?"

"Everyone at the office mocks me for it."

"They really do pick on you, don't they?" she said softly.

"I make an easy target."

Her eyes drifted up the line of his arm. He had biceps. Very nice biceps. She remembered those arms. She closed her eyes briefly. "Do you work out?" Her voice sounded a little husky.

"As often as possible. And I'm wrangling this thing all the time."

She was looking at his shoulder now. He had broad shoulders. You couldn't really tell in his suit. "It shows."

"I was thinking something, Ainsley."

"You were?"

"Yeah. I was thinking maybe our one-time-thing agreement is only valid within the continental United States."

Her eyes widened and she looked at him. "Are we in international waters?" she asked softly, moving closer.

He lifted a shoulder. "If we say we are."

She was a breath away from him now. "I say we are, what do you say?"

"God, yeah." He kissed her.

She groaned and cupped his face, kissing him roughly. He made a noise almost like a growl, pulling her into his lap.

She kissed him like she was drowning and he was her only air. Her fingers speared through his hair, rumpling it, nails raking his scalp.

He wrapped his hand aroudn one of her thighs, moving her until she straddled him. He cupped both thighs now, tugging them apart, gliding his fingers beneath the bottom edge of her shorts.

She gasped softly, bending her head to kiss his throat. She nibbled him gently, moving her fingers up under his shirt.

He shifted her, pressing her tight into him, so she could feel how hard he was. His hands went up her back, beneath the shirt, and the knot in front came undone. She rocked her hips against the bulge pressing against her. She slid her hands, then her arms under his shirt, pulling it up and off. She dropped it next to them, sure if she tossed it it would go overboard. She ran her hands down his chest, tracing muscles with her nails.

Sam unbuttoned her shirt but didn't take it off. He unhooked the front clasp of her bra and her breasts spilled out, filling his palms. She sighed, back arching slightly. She felt like she'd been waiting for him to touch her breasts for days instead of seconds. She pressed herself into his hands and his thumbs brushed over the tips. He watched them tighten. "You really are beautiful, you know."

She smiled, looking into his eyes. "Thank you," she whispered. She kissed him again, hard. He groaned, reaching down to unzip her shorts. She whispered his name softly, lifting herself as best she could. Her hands were everywhere on him, touching, stroking, exploring.

Getting her shorts off was awkward, she finally had to stand up to do it. Then he settled her back in his lap. She wiggled against him, kissing his mouth again. She moved her mouth over his cheek, his jaw, his chin. "Touch me," she whispered. "Please?"

He slid his hand between her legs, fingertips finding her clit. "Like that?"

She gasped, biting her lip. "Yeah, right there." Her hips rocked. "K-keep doing that."

He groaned. Just watching this, in the bright sunshine was so incredebly erotic. Her cheeks flushed and her mouth opened in a daze of pleasure. Her head tipped forward and he could feel in her kiss how good it was for her. How much she was enjoying it.

"I want you," he whispered.

She nodded, fingers going to the zipper of his shorts. He could feel little puffs of her breath against his shoulder. "I want you. . . inside me. . . when I. . ." She tugged his shorts down and closed her fingers around his erection. "I love how you feel."

He closed his eyes, sighing as she guided him inside her. She made that adorable little mewling noise as she took him to the hilt. She settled on his thighs, knees lifting, feet flat on the deck for leverage. She enjoyed just having him inside her a moment, then began to move on him.

"Jesus," he hissed. The boat rocked gently with the waves, and they picked up it's motion as the tiliting deck pushed him up, deeper into her. She moved her hands over him, touching his chest and shoulders before cupping his face and kissing him. Then she leaned back, propping herself with her hands. The angle pushed him impossibly deep and she tipped her head back, moving slow, wanting it to last forever.

He shuddered. "Ainsley."

He saw her smile, but she didn't increase her pace. They might never do this again, she wanted to remember every moment. He sat up enough to grab her arms and pull her against his chest, wanting to kiss her and taste her.

She buried her fingers in his hair, kissing him fiercely. She tipped forward and he stroked her clit on his thrust. "God Sam." She bit her lip, fingers digging into his arms. "I don't want. . . want this to end."

"I know," he gasped. "Do you know how much I love that you're a natural blonde?"

She grinned, blushing a little. "Nice of you to notice."

He arched up. "Ainsley. . .are you. . ?"

She sucked in a breath. "Close. . . I'm so. . ." She clung to his shoulders. She wanted to fight, to draw it out, but somehow that made it hotter, faster. She moved up and down on him a few more time, each thrust harder. Her abdomen twisted and she said his name on a wail as the spasms began. She shook around him, clenching around him like a fist. He growled again, arching up to her, letting himself go.

She looked into his eyes as the heat spread inside her, watching his face twist. He shuddered, pulling her close to him, burying his face in her hair. She closed her eyes, resting her head on his shoulder. She trailed her fingers up and down his arm. "You know," she drawled. "I'm not the most experienced. . . but I'm going to throw caution to the wind and say we're very good at this."

He rubbed her back. "I think we're amazing at this."

She smiled, making a happy humming noise. "Do you have a lot of experience?"

A chuckle rumbled through his chest. "You could say that."

She lifted her head. "Really?" She ran her tounge over his lower lip. "How much?"

He kissed her. "Enough."

"I don't get a number?" she asked, eyes wide.

He sighed. "I was a frat boy, Ainsley. I don't exactly have a number."

She faltered a little. "Wow."

"Iım clean, Ainsley. I swear to God. You're the first woman I've had unprotected sex with. And there have only been six in the last decade."

She stroked his hair. "It's okay, I know. I wouldn't be here-" She wiggled. "If I thought you weren't. . . clean."

He sifted his fingers through her hair. "I was engaged," he said quietly.

"You were? And you've never. . . without. . . before me?"

"She couldn't take the pill."

"Oh." She played with his hair, running it through her fingers and watching how it fell. "What happened?" she asked softly.

He blew out a breath. "It would sound better to tell you how I was madly in love with her and she broke my heart by being a horrible person, but the truth is we were just wrong for each other. So when I announced I was leaving Gage Whitney to help an unknown New England Governor run for president. . .she didn't want to come along."

She ran the tip of her finger down his nose and over his mouth. "You'll find someone else. Someone who'd understand. And nothing will make her leave."

"We didn't really love each other. She loved the address of Central Park West and the promise she'd never have to work again. I loved the idea of a wife, of kids. Bad reasons to get married."

She smiled. "You want kids that bad?"

"I want a family. I hate being alone."

The smile faded and she rested her head on his shouder again. "Me too. I'd never tell her, but having Becca around has been so good for me."

"Would have backfired anyway. Everyone seems to get divorced. I mean, seriously, do you know anybody who's happily married? I don't. Aside from the Bartlets."

"My parents are," she said softly.

"Mine aren't. It turns out they never were."

"I heard about that." She kissed him deeply. "I'm sorry, Sam."

"We should start back."

She sighed. "Do we have to? It's nice out here. Like the rest of the world doesn't exist. Or at least doesn't care about us."

"I don't want to get stuck out here in the dark."

Ainsley suddenly realized whatever soft place they'd been in was gone and it wasn't coming back. "Okay," she said softly, scooting off back, then climbing off him.

He reached over and scooped up a couple of napkins. "Hang on," he said. He used the napkins to clean her off gently, then himself. He kissed her mouth. "Thank you for being here, Ainsley."

She stroked his cheek gently. "Thank you for bringing me here."

He stood up carefully, zipped his shorts, and went to get them moving again. She got dressed slowly, then put their lunch back in the cooler. She sat next to it, legs stretched out. She watched him through sleepy lids. Her legs were sore, her underwear was sticking to her and she'd never been happier.

* * * * *

Part 8

Ainsley spent the next week thinking about their tryst on the boat and thinking about other ways sex couldn't count. She went up to tell Sam about her ideas and got as far as the top of the stairs when she heard Josh getting yelled at by Leo. She listened a momen and realized it had something to do with Josh and Donna kissing somewhere where someone might have seen them. Ainsley's shoulders slumped and she headed back downstairs. It was the slap in the face she needed. Her and Sam couldn't work. They had obligations to things bigger then themselves.

For the first time since she was hired she was glad of her solitary little basement. She went for days at a time seeing no one but her assistant and the guards at the front door. She busied herself with paperwork and tried not to think about hands on her skin and the smell of sea water. Which did nothing to help her dreams.

Becca bugged her almost daily about her relationship with Sam. Ainsley told her she just didn't understand politics. Becca told her she didn't need to understand politics she just needed to understand her and she was miserable. Ainsley couldn't deny that. But she couldn't fix it, either.

In the first week of October she was informed she'd be accompanying the President and some of the senior staff on a trip to Moscow. She was confused, there was no reason for her to be going, but also thrilled. She'd never been on Air Force One. And she'd never been to Russia. Even Becca forgot about Sam in the excitment of packing and planning. She ordered Ainsley to sleep with a Russian spy if she was going to get any from Sam. Ainsley ignored her. And didn't tell her Sam was one of the senior staff also going to Moscow.

Ainsley walked the entire length of the plane two or three times. This was absolutely the neatest thing that had happened to her since she'd met the President. The second time. Becca had told her to steal an ashtray. She'd laughed at the time but now she was thinking about it.

They were somewhere over the Atlantic when the lights dimmed and people started settling in and quieting. She popped in the bathroom and pulled her pantyhose off. They were getting itchy. She went back to the seating area and stuck the nylons in her carry-on. She went looking for a blanket to tuck around herself and discovered Sam had about five. She frowned at him. "Are you really that cold?"

He opened an eye at her. "How did you get up here?"

She blinked. "I was looking for blankets. No one stopped me." She looked scared. "Am I going to get in trouble?"

He stood up. "No. Come on." He took his pile of blankets and led her back to her part of the plane. "Bartlet went to sleep, we aren't doing anything."

"Me neither. Except touring. I feel like a little kid or something."

It made Sam laugh. "That doesn't surprise me."

"Hey. I've never done this."

"I know. That's why I got you on the list."

She looked up at him in surprise. "You put me on the list?"

"Yeah. I convinced Leo you'd be useful." She slid into her seat and Sam sat next to her.

She smiled at him, pulling a blanket over her lap. "Thank you."

The airplane rumbled over some turbulence. She looked out the window, then settled back in her seat, legs stretched out in front of her. The cabin was dark, people around them sleeping. So he whispered when he spoke. "I'll admit I'm just a little bit afraid of airplanes."

She leaned close to him. "Really? They never bothered me."

"CJ says I'm a big baby." He offered her a shy smile. Sometimes she got these flashes where she could see someplace inside him, to the real person underneath. When he said things he rarely repeated out loud.

She reached over and touched his thigh. "CJ's wrong. She has the curse of Bast on her."

"I'm sure that's expired by now."

"I don't know. Cat's hold grudges." She put her head on his shoulder. "You aren't a baby. You're one of the best men I've ever met."

He swallowed. "Didn't we used to be at war?" he whispered.

She chuckled. "Yeah. I think we signed a treaty."

He rubbed the back of her neck. "That . . that was one of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me, you know."

She blushed a little. "It was the truth," she said softly. They were silent a moment. Ainsley took a deep breath and inhaled his scent. This was a bad idea. She shouldn't say it. If she didn't he'd just go back to his seat and everything would be fine. She shouldn't say anything. . . "Sam?"


"We're in international airspace."

"On Air Force One?"

She sighed. "You're right. Too dangerous."

Sam reached out and pulled the tray tables down, his and hers. He carefully took out some papers to make it look like they were working. Then his hand across her back. She moved up the arm that seperated their seats and scooted closer to him. She put her head on his shoulder again. He gently eased down the zipper of her skirt. He slid his hand around front, brushing his fingers beneath the edge of her panties.

She sucked in her breath and spread her legs under the blanket, hooking one over his to give him plenty of room. Down his hand went, until his fingertips reached her clit, pressing it in small circles.

Her eyes fluttered shut. "Sam," she breathed. "Right there."

"Dead silent, Ainsley."

She bit her lip and nodded, turning her face into his shoulder. He slipped one finger inside her, the knuckle of his thumb still pressing just the right spot.

She shuddered a little. She lifted her head a little and picked up a pen. She pulled a piece of paper close and wrote on it. I wish it was something else inside me.

She saw his eyes widen, but he was right handed, and his right hand was, well, busy. He leaned down and whispered in her ear. "So do I."

She smiled and turned her face so his mouth brushed her cheek. He was doing all sorts of amazing things down there. She tipped her head back against the seat. He leaned back against his, trying to look nonchalant. Trying not to think about where he had his fingers buried.

She was breathing a little hard, flushing. This was torture. She needed more, something. . . She shifted a little. A second finger pushed inside her. He shifted his arms so that he could, very casualy, graze his knuckles over the sensitized tips of her breasts, through her shirt.

She sighed, shuddering, an odd little smile on her face. That was better. Things were happening, getting tight and hot. So good. She dug her teeth into her lower lip. She reached out and found the pen again. Her hand was shaky when she wrote, I'm thinking about the boat.

He barely swallowed a groan.

She smiled wider and sucked in a sudden breath, hips lifting a little. He leaned down, pressing his lips to her ear again. "Come for me, Ainsley," he whispered.

She shuddered at the words and couldn't stop. Her body began to gently, then fiercely spasm around his fingers. She gripped his arm in her fingers, nails digging in. She wasn't aware of him, or the other people on the plane or anything, just the waves of pleasure that didn't seem to be stopping.

He bit his lip, pretty sure he was goign to die. He didn't think he'd ever been this hard in his life, and there was nothign he could do about it.

Finally the pleasure ebbed and she pressed her face into his shoulder. She was panting, still holding his arm tightly. She lifted her head so her mouth was next to his ear. "That was amazing."

"Glad you liked it," he managed.

She smiled, then realized. "Oh Sam. . . I'm sorry. Is there anything. . . I could go look for something underneath. . ."

"No, it's okay."

"I feel bad, though."

"Donıt worry. The agreement isn't valid when we land, either."

She grinned. "You have a point." She kissed his cheek. "Thank you."

"Any time, Ainsley."

She smiled and settled her head on his shoulder, thinking a nap was in order. He kissed the top of her head. Then he looked up to see Josh coming down the aisle. He quickly withdrew his hands and wiped it on the blanket.

Josh stopped by their seat. "There you are. Come up with me, the President woke up and wants to talk."

"Umm. . .I'll be there in a minute."

"Now, he's talking about Latin things and we need reinforcements."

Sam closed his eyes, sure this was the most embarassing moment of his life. No, it could be worse. At least it was Josh. He gave him a signifigant look and inclined his head towards Ainsley. Josh's eyebrows went up and he shook his head. "Well whenever you collect yourself, then." His mouth quirked and he strolled away.

Sam closed his eyes and groaned. He would never hear the end of it.

They landed a few hours after he finally left her, alone and asleep, in her seat. He and Josh walked at the back of the President's entourage. Josh grinned at him. "Ainsley Hayes?"

"It was a one time thing."

"On Air Force One?"

"No, her apartment."

"So what was that?"

"The one-time thing agreement is only valid with in the continental United States."

Josh stared at him as he got in their limo. He hopped in after him. "You're relationship has a treaty?"

"Well, cause it was just a one-time-thing."

"How many times has it not counted?"

"One other time."


"My boat. We were in international waters."

"You realize international waters are, like, twelve miles out."

Sam glared at him. "Close enough."

Josh shook his head. "Only you, Sam. Only you."


They reached the hotel they were staying at and got their room assingments. Sam and Josh were unpacking when there was a knock at the door. Josh opened it to find Ainsley Hayes on the other side. She was dressed in a white sundress probably a little too short for the weather. It was warm but not that warm. Certainly not warm enough for no underwear. Josh had to focus on not staring.

She smiled at him and looked past him. "Sam? Would you like to go sightseeing?"

He gave her a smile. "Actually, I'm really tired. I was thinking of just sleeping off the jet lag."

She looked a little uncertain. "But I thought. . . since we were in a foregin country and everything. . . you'd like to sight see."

"I've seen Moscow twice already. You go ahead, that's okay."

She looked at Josh a little desperatly. He rubbed his eyes with one hand. "Sam, go get laid, for the love of God."

He blinked, looking startled. The he looked at Ainsely, looked at the dress. "Oh."

She smiled a little. "What he said."

Sam nodded and fled into the hallway before Josh could say anything else. "Sorry."

"I always thought you were smarter than that," she said, leading him down the hallway. He noticed her back was bare, the top of her dress held up with a string around her neck.

"Where the hell are we going to go?"

She tossed him a brilliant smile. "I found a place." She led him downstairs to the lobby, into a meeting room, down another hallway, into a ballroom then into a linen closet. She pulled him inside and closed the door, clicking the light on. It was a yellow tinted bulb, casting the room in a sleepy glow. She pulled a laundry cart in front of the door, then leaned against the back wall, the only one not covered in shelves. "I thought this through," she said softly, tracing a finger over the tie of her dress.

"I take it the in-flight entertainment wasn't enough?"

She fiddled with the tie. "I was thinking about that too. I think I owe you." She undid the tie and the top of the dress flopped down, revealing her breasts. "And I was thinking about what I could do in return." She reached behind herself and unzipped the dress. It fell to the ground. "And I decided to pay you back I'd let you do whatever you wanted with me. Or to me. Or have me do to you."

He came forward, bracing his arms on the wall on either side of her head. He kissed her ear, oh, so lightly. "Anything?"

She nodded. "Anything. One wish, Sam. Think about it, you may never get an opportunity like this again."

He closed his eyes. "What I want isn't possible right now," he said softly.

Her brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"

He sifted her hair through his fingers. "I want to be in my bed. To have all night, and no apologies in the morning."

She bit her lip, looking up into his eyes. "Sometimes I dream about what it would be like to just sleep with you. Just sleep." There were moments when, like him, she revealed her inner fears. The things no one else saw. Only he got to see the girl beneath the tough, smart Republican.

"Ainsley," he whispered, something rough and sad in his voice. He kissed her. She framed his face in her hands, kissing him deeply. He could taste her need.

He cupped her thighs and lifted her against the wall. She gasped and linked her legs around his waist, not breaking the kiss. Her center pressed against his thigh and he could feel her heat and moisture through his pant leg. She rubbed against him and moaned into his mouth. His hands shifted beheath her rear. "You. That's what I want."

She ran her thumb over his cheek bone. "I want you. More then air."

He kissed her again, hard and fast. Her fingers marched down the buttons of his shirt and spread it open, stroking her palms over his skin. She tore her mouth from his and dipped her head, kissing his chest. She took one of his flat nipples in her teeth.

Sam alomost lost his grip on her. "Jesus."

She tugged it, then soothed the bite with her tounge. Her hair fell over her shoulders, feathering against his chest and stomach. He pressed her back into the wall, managing to hold her up with one arm while reaching down to undo his pants. She reached down to help him and felt a pang of sorrow peirce her desperation. The idea of having all night, to be slow, and tender, to take to time to find out all the places that made the other gasp and smile and cry out. It was so tempting, and hung so far into the realm of impossibility. They had to take their stolen moments when they could. She lifted her head and kissed him hard, hiding the tears that suddenly filled her eyes.

He lifted her again and thrust into her. Ainsley cried out his name, wrapping her arms and legs around him. She kissed all over his face.

He hitched her higher, catching her mouth for a hot, messy kiss. She gripped the back of his head, pressing his mouth to hers. She tried to move her hips but was trapped between the wall and his body. She settled for tightening herself around him, then releasing, then tightening again.

He sucked in a breath, thinking about her clenching around his fingers on the plane. He pushed harder into her. "Tell me what you want, Ainsley."

She bit her lip. "This. I want this."

"Do you?" he hissed. He slowed down, all but stopping.

She clung to him, making that mewling noise. "Yes. I want it all, Sam. Hard and fast." She kissed him. "Give me everything you have." She felt a shudder pass through him, and then he slammed into her. She cried out, holding him tightly. She felt herself twisting, deep inside. She bent close, putting her mouth to his ear. "Come for me, Sam," she whispered as she began to tighten around him.

He'd never had a woman say that to him. He couldn't beleive how erotic it was. He let go, spilling inside her, crushing her between him and the wall. She pressed her face into his shoulder, trembling.

He buried his face in her throat. "Ainsley."

She stroked his hair. "You got your wish," she said softly, voice a little choked.

He lifted his head, setting her down gently. "What?"

She leaned on him. "You have me."

"No apologies. No regrets."

She shook her head. "None."

He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight.

"There's no way we could nap together in one of our rooms is there?" she said sadly.

"Maybe I can get Josh to go sightseeing."

"I don't think Donna would like that," she said with the faintest of smiles.

That made Sam laugh. "No, really sightseeing."

She looked up at him, eyes wide and shiny with unshed tears. "Do you think he would?"

"I'll ask," he whispered.

She kissed his jaw. "Thank you." She looked down, stooping to pick up her dress.

He looked at her for a long moment, then righted his clothes. "Come by in a few minutes."

She nodded. "Okay." She smiled at him, then stepped past him to leave the closet.

Sam found Josh working in the room. "Hey."

He didn't look up. "See some interesting sights?"

"Tons. Don't suppose you feel like visiting the Kremlin. Or the hotel restaraunt or something."

He looked up, brow furrowed. "Why?"

"I know this is going to sound dumb to you, but Ainsley and I want to take a nap."

He opened his mouth, ready to mock, Sam was sure, then stopped. Something soft touched his eyes and he nodded. "Okay." He started gathering his stuff.

"Thank you."

"Hey, what are friends for?" He gathered an armful of papers, checked to make sure he had his cell and looked up. "Some nights, I just watch Donna sleep." The confession was very quiet. "So, I understand." With that he left.

Ainsley showed up five minutes after Josh left, wearing a t-shirt and sweat pants. Pajamas, he supposed. She looked around the room when he let her in, then up at him. "He left?"

Sam grinned. "Yeah. Donna's softened him so."

She smiled and put her arms around him, cuddling against him a little. "I forgot to thank you."

"For what?"

"For making sure I came here, for including me, for going out of your way twice to get the president to meet me despite how I embarrassed myself. You always seem to make sure I'm happy. And you don't have to."

That made him smile. "Yeah I do. Lay down with me, I'm exhausted."

"Me too." She pulled the covers down as he stripped down to his boxers. Ainsley climbed in and curled on her side, leaving him room behind her. He spooned against her, sliding his arms around her waist.

She sighed and closed her eyes. She wrapped her arms over her, snuggling back to him. "We're going to be here three days. Lots of time."

"Yeah," he breathed, burying his face in her hair.

She turned her face to kiss his shoulder. Maybe this hadn't been such a good idea. Maybe it was just going to make it hurt worse when they got back home. She felt his breathing get deep and even. Sam could fall asleep anywhere, in five minutes tops.

She rolled over and looked at his face, smoothed out and innocent in sleep. She smiled. She wished she could watch him sleep everynight. She kissed his mouth gently, then cuddled her head under his chin. She closed her eyes and relaxed, drifiting off to sleep.

* * * * *

Go to Part 2

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