When Words Become Superfluousby Puck and Zillah
Rating: Hard R creeping into NC-17
"I'd learn to tell the difference between red and green."
Smartass. Sam stared at the congressman's retreating back and pulled himself out of his chair. He could call her himself, but he thought she might hang up the phone at the sound of his voice. Their two week 'break time' hadn't expired yet. So he told Ginger to call her.
"She's on vacation."
Vacation? She went on vacation? Where? Why? She'd gone away and hadn't even told him. He wondered briefly if maybe she was even madder than he'd originally thought. "When's she coming back?"
Of course. Come back all relaxed and tan from some Caribbean Island just in time to. . . There was more to that thought, but he got distracted by the mental image of her in a little bikini.
She'd gone on vacation while he was stuck in DC in this crappy late frost talking the blame for someone else's mistake. He considered for a moment how much she was going to kill him for calling her back, and decided he didn't have a choice. "Mmm, not so much, no."
Ginger gave him a look that told him he was making a mistake and picked up the phone. He disappeared back into his office.
* * *
Ainsley strode through the bullpen, the strap of her bag cutting into her wrist, making her hand progressively numb. He was alive, because if he wasn't this place would be in a state of panic. He was alive and therefore she was going to kill him.
She flung Sam's door open. "What?!"
He smiled at her, damn him. "How was the vacation?"
She was going to kill him with his own letter opener. "It was forty hours long!"
"Where'd you go?"
No, pins. She was going to stick millions and millions of pins in him. She dumped her bag on his chair. "Hilton Head."
"What'd you do?"
Maybe she'd just strangle him. "I unpacked, and then I packed."
He almost told her she had to be a really slow packer -- or have an obscene amount of luggage -- to need forty hours for that, but he restrained himself. He changed the subject, being deliberately casual in hopes that she wouldn't start throwing suitcases at his head. "By the way, congratulations. Babish is promoting you to deputy."
She had another complaint on her lips but stopped, confused. "When did this happen?"
He got up, taking off his glasses and dropping them on his desk. He couldn't see as well now, but that was the point. He was finding the way her little white T-shirt stretched across her breasts way too distracting. "Right after I told Bud Waktell that we already had."
She kind of missed the glasses. He looked so cute with them on. She watched him take her bag and bent to pick up the other one she'd dropped. "What the hell is going on?"
He lead her out through the bullpen. "Well, Monday morning there was a little incident during the satellite interview."
She sighed. "I read about it, how did you let something like that happen?"
She heard him heave a sigh and then spin around, an annoyed look on his face. "Okay. For everybody who works outside the building, I'll fall on the sword. But for everybody who works inside the building, I wasn't there!" His voice rose at the end, and she flinched back a little. Then he blinked, glad to have gotten it off his chest, spun on his heel and headed towards the stairs.
She was to busy getting over the yelling to pay attention to the tan crack and hustled down the stairs after him. "What do you need?"
He explained the wheres and whys of the TV interviews they need her to do as they descended the stairs.
Okay, she liked her job, she liked getting them out of trouble and a promotion was tempting, but she did have a problem. "He is an elitist.
Sam wasn't even surprised. "Uh oh."
She launched the argument. The smartest person she'd ever met had barely made it through college and had quit Harvard law school after a semester. Papers and college and books didn't mean a lot in the real world.
They'd reached her office when she called, "There's a difference between intellect and instinct," over her shoulder.
He put her suitcase down. "Two hundred fifty-million people, you don't think we'd be able to elect somebody who's got both?"
"I'm saying presidents can have good advisors." She picked her mail off her desk. She'd been gone forty hours, how did she get this much mail?
"And good advisors can better advise informed and curious presidents." There was a jar of nuts on her desk -- of course there was food on Ainsley's desk -- and he scooped up a couple.
"But what happens when Ivy League presidents surround themselves with intellectual snobs?" Like you, she thought but didn't say.
He heard it anyway. And who was she to talk? He was pacing away and spun around, stalking back. "All right, let's clear up a couple of things, because that's the second time you've invoked the Evil Eight. First of all, Notre Dame isn't a member of the Ivy League. They play football as an independent, they play basketball in the Big East. Second, we're very interested in education in this white house, so can you tell me what's wrong with the Ivy League?"
She missed the second part of the rant. He was cuter angry then at any other time. Not angry-angry. Not personal-feelings-getting-hurt angry. But this kind of angry. When they debate something they both feel strongly about. He starts to pace and wave his arms around and sometimes, when she's lucky, he funnels that passion into her. When, of course, she's getting lucky.
She realized suddenly he'd stopped talking and she'd better answer. "All I know is we got into Vietnam courtesy of the Beltway chapter of the Harvard Alumni Association." She sank into her chair, tired suddenly. Tired from two long train rides in as many days. Tired of this fight and the other fight and fighting in general. She'd been at the beach yesterday and now she was back here and it wasn't fair.
"Yeah, except that's not all you know, because you're bright and you're curious and you worked hard and you got into Smith, and you got your law degree where?" Now he'd gone past cute and earnest into snotty and smug. "Cambridge, Massachusetts. I win, you lose, 'twas ever thus."
She slumped a little, refusing to react to that little childishness. "I was on vacation."
She knew him well. After snotty and smug came sarcasm. The S's of fighting with Sam Seaborn. Damn alliteration. And there it was. "Life's tough in the aluminum siding business."
Her eyes narrowed a little and an entire train ride of stewing almost caused her to stoop to his level. But she sat up a little and got back to the topic. "I will do the TV shows because I serve at the pleasure of the president. But I do not want a promotion I didn't earn." She considered. "Let me check out the pay differential first."
Smug again. "You bet."
He walked out and she put her head down on her arms. She'd been on vacation.
* * *
She got all the information she needed from the Press office. She made some phone calls, made some notes for her interviews, then gathered up her things to go home. She trudged upstairs, then made a detour to Sam's office. "I'm going home now."
He smiled, surprised she'd come up to say goodnight. "I'm sorry about your vacation," he offered."
"Yeah. I'm going home now. I'm going to unpack, pay some bills maybe read a little. So it would be most inconvenient for you to call me in say two hours. I'm doing this interviews tomorrow. I'll be adorable and southern and everyone will think the President is just the most open minded politician in the world. I'm taking the promotion because there is a decent raise and more vacation time, which I'm going to take as soon as possible. And this time I'm going to *Amish* country where you can't find me!" She turned on her heel and huffed off.
Sam watched her go. This was bad.
Ginger came in a dropped some papers on his desk. "Yeah. She's still mad at you."
"Yeah," he muttered.
She gave him a weak smile and went back to her desk.
* * *
After her interviews Ainsley once again went upstairs to see Sam. He wasn't in his office and when she turned to ask Ginger she pointed to Toby's office. Ainsley poked her head in. "Why are you in here?"
He was sitting on the couch, laptop on the coffee table, pecking away. "My TV's broken."
"Oh. Did you see me?"
"You did perfectly."
"Thank you." She came in and closed the door, then started closing the blinds.
"What are you doing?"
"I don't want them to hear us fighting."
"We're going to fight? Now?"
"Yes. I need to talk to you and I'm hoping to get my point across before you hit smug."
"Before I hit smug?"
She frowned. She supposed she couldn't blame him for not knowing his fighting pattern, but she wanted to. She sighed. "The three S's of fighting with Sam Seaborn." She ticked them off on her fingers. "Sexy, smug, sarcastic."
"Sexy?" Leave it to Sam to hear just that one.
She ground her teeth. "Followed by smug and sarcastic. Those are usually the ones that stick."
"I've already gotten to smug, haven't I?"
She held her fingers a couple centimeters apart.
"Seriously, I'm sorry about your vacation. But I had no choice."
She sighed. "I know. It's just. . . you didn't call me yourself."
"I was heading out the door and the phone rings and I answer it and it's Ginger. All she says is there's a problem you have to come back. I thought. . . I thought you were in a car accident, or a mugging or you'd fallen down stairs or there was a letter bomb or something and you were bleeding in a coma. I had the entire train ride to design your unfortunate accident in my head and work myself into a frenzy because the last thing we'd said to each other. . ." She took a breath. "And I get here and you're *fine* and you yelled at me."
He looked at her for a long moment. "You know, I mean, fight aside, you mean a lot to me. Arguing doesn't change that. If something were wrong with me. . . you're on the short list, Ainsley. It wouldn't have been Ginger, it would have been Josh."
"Josh was at your bedside. CJ was dealing with the press. Donna was organizing the offices. It occurred to Toby I should know but he was afraid I'd cry so he made Ginger do it." She sat in a chair. "I am a thorough worrier."
"I'm sorry," he said.
She rubbed her nose. "Next time call yourself."
"I thought you'd hang upon me."
"I never would."
"I miss you, you know."
She smiled. "I miss you, too."
"You didn't even tell me you were going away."
"I was going to invite you to come before. . . then we had the break and I didn't want to think about it."
"Are we still fighting about that?"
"I don't want to be fighting about that. In retrospect it's sort of a stupid fight."
"I really don't like fighting with you." She paused. "But actually sometimes I do."
"Until I get to smug."
"Yes." She paused. "'Twas ever thus?"
"I couldn't resist."
"It was smug and patronizing and hurtful. And don't get me started on the aluminum siding business."
He kissed her mouth gently. "I'm sorry."
She sighed, kissing him back. "I suppose I should get used to it."
"You've embarrassed me on national television," he offered.
"I didn't know you then."
"I didn't mean it, I was just. ..you know."
"In phase two." She smiled a little, though.
She sighed. "I forgive you," she said softly.
He leaned forward and kissed her very gently.
She melted into his arms. "Can we make up now?" she murmured.
"Mmm, sounds good."
She wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him hard.
It was supposed to be just a promise for later, the kiss. But with the two of them, nothing was every that simple. Suddenly they were on Toby's couch, making out like teenagers in their parent's rec room. Her skirt was hiked up to her hips and she'd undone his tie and half the buttons on his shirt. He slipped his fingers beneath the tiny piece of blue cotton that covered her, knowing just how to touch her.
She moaned into his shoulder, muffling the noise. Her fingers danced over him through the cotton of his undershirt. She bore down on his finger, asking silently for more. He shifted a little, rubbing his thumb along her clit. She sucked in an audible breath and her hands stopped as she focused her entire being on his hand.
"Shhh," he whispered, making slow circles.
She was breathing hard in his ear. "How did we think we could go two weeks?" she whispered.
"I don't know how I'm going to last until tonight."
Her fingers tugged at his belt. "We should make now count, then."
She seemed to come to her senses for a moment. "Where is Toby?"
She smiled, moving against his finger. "We can be fast."
This was insane. He stroked her faster. She nodded, pressing into him. There was something about the danger of being heard or found that made it hotter and tenser. She found his mouth and fed at it. He felt her gentle fluttering on his fingers.
It made him smile. "That's it," he whispered.
He felt the first of her gentle clenching, then she covered her mouth with her hand and came fully around his finger, bucking, a moan muffled against her palm.
He let his head fall back against the armrest. "Jesus," he whispered.
She rested her head on his chest. "Wow."
She kissed his mouth gently, then started sliding down him.
"Ainsley. . ."
"You don't want me to?" she asked somewhere around his navel.
"I want you to," he gasped. "It's just. . .you know. . ."
She undid his belt and fly with quick, impatient, motions. "We'll be real quick." She touched him with her tongue.
"Oh, God." He closed his eyes and gave in.
She tormented him a moment with the tip of her tongue before taking him into her mouth. He pushed up to her, biting his lip to keep quiet. She curved her hands around his thighs. She sucked hard, moving swiftly.
He wasn't trying to hang on this time. He didn't fight it. He thought about her, the way she felt, the way she smelled, the way she tasted. The sounds she made in pleasure. And that was it.
She stayed still as he released, taking what he had to give.
"Well," he said after a moment.
She crawled up into his lap, fixing his fly first. "Yes."
He ran his fingers through her hair. "Thank you."
She smiled. "You're welcome."
They were quiet for a while. Then he said, "We both want to do the right thing."
"Yes, we do," she said softly.
"I mean, in the end, we're both headed in the same place."
She rested her forehead on his throat. "You have a point."
She nodded. "It is." She kissed the underside of his jaw. "Thank you."
"Are we better?" he asked.
"I think so. I just. . . I thought I needed time to think. But really I was thinking too much. I like you. I like *us.* That's enough."
"I'm sorry I didn't get to see that dress."
"I still have it. Maybe the next party."
He rubbed her back. "We're throwing one for the Poet Laureate."
"Am I invited?"
"I'll wear it then. Knock your socks off."
He pointed at the muted TV. "Hey, the briefing's starting."
She rolled off him and hit the button to turn the sound on, then took a seat in a chair to watch it with him. He watched the way she perched on the armrest and swung one leg, her slides handing off one foot.
She looked over at him. "Come over tonight?"
She smiled then wrinkled her nose. "We should open the door," she said, getting up to do so.
"It smells like sex in here."
She chuckled, pulling the door open. She turned and knocked one of his feet off the couch and onto the floor. He raised an eyebrow.
"You know what they say. If you keep one foot on the floor you can't get in any trouble."
"Who says that?"
"My grandmother, house mothers in sororities, women's dorms."
She stuck her tongue out at him, heading back to her chair.
They watched the press briefing for a few moment, Sam calling out random commentary on what CJ was saying, like some kind of sports announcer. She ignored him as best she could, mind wandering on other things. Finally she turned to point at him. "Does it concern you that the smartest presidents have been the worst?"
He smiled a little, greatly relieved somehow that she still wanted to spar with him over this. "I don't grant your premise, but--"
She rattled off her reasoning, just about the get to her trump card when he interrupted.
"I don't care."
He waved a hand. "Because before I look for anything, I look for a mind at work. No one's saying a president needs to have a tenured chair in. . .semiotics, but you have to have. . ."
He searched for the right word. "Gravitas." He raised his eyebrows, challenging her to dispute his point.
She leaned forward. "And how do you measure that?"
"You don't But we know it when we see it. And republicans. . ." He sounded almost apologetic, ". . .tend to mock it when they do." He watched her. "You think I'm wrong?"
She considered, then answered honestly. "I do not."
"No, you don't. And they way I know you don't is I saw you say so on television." Now he was starting to sound smug. Which is why it was good that Toby walked in right then.
Ainsley got to her feet. Toby looked at them both suspiciously. "Why are you here?"
Even the way Sam said hello was guilty. The man had no poker face whatsoever. Someone less distracted and more perceptive, like CJ, would have seen right through him. "The TV isn't working in my office."
Toby nodded, apparently accepting that. He looked at Ainsley. "You did good on TV."
She smiled disarmingly, for all the world a cute southern belle. "Thanks." She pointedly didn't look at Sam. "I'll be in my office." With that she sauntered out, her slides clacking against the floor.
Sam sat up slowly, thinking about how he missed her old office. It didn't have doors with glass.
They started talking about the Poet Laureate, but all he could think about was tonight. And the party. And the dress. He was grateful when Toby was called away.
* * *
They were watching the press conference on the monitors, though they could hear Bartlet's voice echoing down the hall. Sam was very fidgety and looked at his watch often. CJ was about to say something when she saw Toby walk in. She went over. "You're late."
"I had a thing. With the poet."
She eyed him. "I see."
"I gathered that, yeah."
She was quiet a moment. "This is not entirely my business. . . and I mean I really don't have a problem with it, considering you could use a social life, but. . ."
"What?" he repeated impatiently.
"You do have an apartment."
"Make sense, CJ. Now."
"I'm having trouble thinking of maybe logical explanations for why it smells like sex in your office."
"It. . . I didn't. . . Not. . ." He frowned. "SAM!"