By Grace of Mind and Art

by Puck and Zillah

Rating: NC-17
Spoilers: Enemies Foregin and Domestic and the previous Where's Ainsley stories.
Disclaimers: It's not ours and we get no money for it. Your love is payment enough.
Notes: This is the latest Where's Ainsley, obviously, and a post-ep for Enemies Foreign and Domestic. Now you can relieve the season through us as well as the summer reruns.

Ainsley was sitting at their usual table in the mess. She and Sam had established a regular lunch date when they worked. Usually they just took it in the mess, but a few times a month they treated each other to a restaurant. Today, however, since he had meetings, they'd decided to stick with the mess. She checked her watch. He was a little late. He hadn't called to cancel but maybe with there was fallout from the press briefing and he'd lost track of time.

She was about to get up and look for him when she heard his footsteps behind her. She wondered what it meant that she knew his footsteps.

"Hey," he said when he sat down. "Sorry I'm late. It's hairy up there. People are calling and yelling at *me* about CJ and the Saudis this morning. Me. She doesn't even answer to me. How is it my fault?"

"It's the fault of whomever's phone number they get."

"She gave Toby an opening to tell her to not comment. He requested a good seat for the show."

She smiled. "I was impressed with the way she did it. I can't do that. When she's angry her voice gets lower, she sounds scary. When I'm angry my voice goes up and I sound like a cartoon character." Sam chuckled. She poked at her food with her fork. "You sound scary when you're angry too. But you're a man so you're supposed to."

"You should have seen these two guys I met with today, from the Russian embassy. They sounded like car salesmen."

"Russian car salesmen?"

"Possibly game show hosts."

"Interesting. How are the negotiations going?"

"Slowly. Their English is adequate but it's still hard to converse with them."

"Why, if they speak well enough?"

"They learned from a textbook, I guess. They get all their idioms wrong."

She considered that, chewing. "I suppose you never think of how often you use idioms."

"Often. Me, anyway. I keep having to stop and explain."

"That must be frustrating." She smiled. "If it makes you feel any better I'm knee deep in useless lawsuits."

"My favorite."

"Thought you'd be jealous."

"Anything good?"

She shook her head. "It's just stupid stuff. It's terrible to say, but with the MS thing winding down I've much less to do."

"I think I have some stuff on my desk I was gonna handle myself, as opposed to sending it downstairs to you guys, but you can have it if you're bored.

She smiled. "Will it put me to sleep?"


"I'll let you know."

He took another bite of his sandwich. "You won't believe this, somebody sent CJ a death threat because of what she said this morning."

"Really? Oh my God. How's she take it?"

"She doesn't seem concerned. Apparently she gets crazies sending her hate mail all the time. Josh freaked out, cause . . . well, everyone blew off all those death threats people sent Charlie and look what happened."

"Yeah." She paused, spearing the last tomato on her plate. "They're going to do something, right? Extra protection or something?"

"I have no idea what the procedure for this sort of thing is."

She looked very concerned. "They have to do something, don't they? I mean surely this administration is extra paranoid about this sort of thing."

"It was just one e-mail. Josh called somebody with the secret service, though."


He finished his sandwich. "I should get back to work. Stop by later, I'll give you the file."

"Okay." She got up and kissed his cheek. "Be careful."

He gave her a smile and they walked out of the mess.

* * *

She wandered into the communications bullpen later that afternoon. She passed CJ's office on the way and poked her head in. "Hi."

She smiled. "Hi."

"Sam told me about the letter."

"Jesus, does everyone know?"

"I'm sorry, is it a secret?"

"No, I just. . . everyone's making a fuss."

"You don't think it's a big deal?"

"I get a lot of hate mail."

"But death threats?"

"It's just an e-mail."

She shrugged, letting it drop. "I saw the Saudi Arabia thing. Well done."

She smiled. "It was a little over the line, but I swear to God. . ."

"I thought it was great. I wish I could do something like that which such poise."

"Hey, I saw you wipe the floor with Sam on Capitol Beat."

"I'm good at debates, I'll admit that. But the speeches everyone up here manages are beyond me."

"It took years of practice. I used to be shy."

"I can't believe that."

"Terrified of crowds and public speaking."

Her jaw dropped. "Wow. What happened?"

She shook her head. "It's a long story." She shrugged. "Everyone has their buttons, mine happens to be mistreated women."

She nodded. "We have something in common there."

"Have you talked to Sam?"

"Not since lunch. He told me to come up and get a couple files to look at."

"I know he saw Babish earlier, he might have given it to him."

She stuck out her lower lip. "He promised. I'd better find him. It was nice talking to you."

CJ waved and went back to her computer.

Ainsley sauntered into the communications bullpen and into Sam's office, flopping into his chair. "Hi."

He was reading something and held out a file to her without looking up.

"It's good to see you too. I've missed every moment without you." She took the file. "I find it hard to breathe when you're away."


She sighed and kissed the top of his head. "Bye, Sam."

He waved distractedly.

"I'm going to go have sex with Josh now," she said, backing out of the room.

He didn't even look up.

She sighed and sauntered out, only to run into Josh. He grinned. "Really?"

"No. But tell him I did if he ever comes out of the fog."

"Will do."

"Bye Josh." She headed back to her office.

* * *

Sam had to work through their lunch date on Tuesday, he'd sent word through Ginger to that affect. Ainsley and Ginger were starting to form a bond. She didn't expect to see him the rest of the day and after finishing the last of the files he'd given her she kicked back in her office, feet up on her desk, reading a Cosmo.


She looked up. "Samuel. Light of my life."

"The Russians want the President to wear a coat and scarf."

She laughed. "What?"

"They want him to wear outwear, because Chigoran will be. So he won't look frumpy."

"There's nothing worse then a frumpy world leader."

"Also, do you still have those files from yesterday?"

"Yes. I was going to send them up. I finished them."

He frowned. "Really?"

"Yes. I told you I was bored. Why?"

"Toby has nothing to do."


"I don't know why, but he's driving everyone nuts."

"I'm sorry, I finished them." She handed them over. "Josh and I are having an illicit affair, by the way."

"No, you're not."

"I might be. You don't pay attention to me."

"No. You'd be dead already. Have you ever met his girlfriend?"

"I've heard of her and I think he'd be the one dead."

"Maybe Toby's bored enough to volunteer to explain the coat thing to the president."

"You just came down to whine and get files."

"And give you a kiss," he said, coming around to kiss her mouth.

She sighed, kissing him. "Good boy," she murmured.

"I'll see you later?"

"Yeah. I'll be done early tonight."

Sam grinned. "Good."

"I'll come find you?"


"Kiss me again."

He did so.

She smiled widely as he lifted his head. "Have a good day."

* * *

"Sam." She dodged his hand and shook her head. "Sam wake up, the alarm didn't go off. It's after seven."

He shot up right, his forehead smacking into hers. She let out a little cry, falling back, off the bed. "Ow."

"Sorry," he called, rushing into the bathroom.

She rubbed her forehead gingerly but didn't feel a lump. She climbed to her feet listening to him quickly shave and do his things. "Do you want me to start breakfast?" she called, rummaging in his closet for clothes.

"No, I don't have time. I'll get a McMuffin or something."

"That will bother your ulcer."

He appeared and she handed him boxers. He took them immediately. "I'll be fine. I'll take Tums." He took the undershirt she offered and the dress shirt.

"You're going to Finland tomorrow. This is no time to be messing with your stomach." Pants next.

"I don't have time for you to make breakfast, Ainse. I have my last meeting with the Russians today, and I *have* to have all of that settled today."

She handed him his tie and stepped forward to put on his tie and tie it. "At least get a bagel and juice. Not McDonalds."


"Promise?" She pulled out his brush and carefully arranged his hair as he shrugged into his jacket.


"Good." She kissed his cheek. "You're all set. Go."

"What about you?" She was still in the Princeton T-shirt she'd slept in.

"I don't have to be in until almost nine."

"You got up to dress me?"


He smiled and kissed her. "I'll see you tonight."

"I can't wait. Now go run the country."

He nodded and ran out. She shook her head and went to shower.

* * *

The Russians left, and Sam stared at the piece of paper in his hands, his blood roaring in his ears. There was no way this could be what he thought it was-- mean what he thought it meant.

He stood up. Maybe he needed a second opinion. Maybe he needed to pass this up, so to speak. He walked down the hall in a daze, almost crashing into an aide coming down the hall opposite him. He went into his office, sat down, stood up again, and walked into the bullpen. "Hey Ginger?"


He frowned. "Nevermind." He went back into his office. He sat down again. He stood up *again*. Toby was probably still bored, this would interest him. He went back into the bullpen to go into Toby's office, but the door was mostly closed. He lifted his hand to knock when he heard Toby's voice come booming out through the crack. "You should give up your space and put another naked woman in there!"

Startled, Sam turned to look at Ginger, who kind of half-shrugged. Sam decided he didn't want to know. Perhaps Josh would be a better bet. He went down the hall, but Josh's office was empty.

"He's with the President," Donna called.

"I needed. . . Nah, I'll ask Leo."

"Leo's in there too. It's a meeting."

"Ah. Crap." He loitered in the hall for a minute, until Donna said. "Can I help you?"

"No." He frowned, gripping his paper. "No."


He strode purposefully down to the Oval Office, only to stall by Charlie's des k. He really did not want to make a fool out of himself. Maybe he'd just signal Josh from the door and let him handle it. Yeah, that was what he'd do. He waited in the doorway until he caught Josh's eye.

Josh excused himself and came over. "What's up?"

"The embassy guys wanted to mess with the language on the statement. They gave me this thing." He handed Josh the paper. "Read it. Honest to God, Josh, the guys English wasn't good enough to have written it. And look what it's about."

He watched his eyes as he scanned the paper. "Wow. You think. . .?"


"Sam," the President called, and he turned his head while Josh read the statement again. "The Majority leader's gonna move up HMO reform and my Duma's gonna vote on it. What do you think?"

Josh lifted his eye up to Sam and then said, "Sorry, sir, would you hear what Sam has to say for a moment?" Josh handed the paper back to Sam, who gave him a briefly panicked look as every eye in the room turned on him. He made a face and Josh, trying to express he wanted *Josh* to handle this.

He held out the paper and gave him a reassuring look.

After a second Sam took the paper and went into the room. "Listen. . .I'd like to tell you about something, and if, when I'm done, you think I sound like an idiot, just know that I'll be feeling like one as well." He explained and read the statement, aware that Fitz and much of the room were looking at him like he was wasting their time. But as he was explaining the idioms, he could see the look on the president's face, in his eyes. When he offered, "Stem the tide is an English idiom," with the same dawning understanding in his voice, Sam knew he hadn't been crazy. "They don't have surely once is enough, either."

"Sir, Chigoran wrote this," Josh stated from behind him, steady back-up, saying out loud what they were all thinking.

Sam saw the look Leo and the president exchanged, and he couldn't help but smile, because his instincts, ones he was starting to wonder if he'd lost, had been right. "I think he's trying to send you a message, Mr. President," he said, but he didn't think anymore. He *knew.*

There was a long tense moment while everyone looked at each other. Then the president started to nod. "He *is* trying to send me a message." The room burst into enthusiastic agreement as Bartlet got to his feet.

Sam almost laughed aloud. Bartlet talked about nuclear proliferation, Fitz teased him, Josh explained diplomats, he didn't care. They were going to Helsinki.

"Sam," the President called as he was walking out.

"See you later," Sam said to Josh, and went back to the desk. "Yes, sir."

"Nice job," Bartlet told him, and it was all he could do not to blush when he said thank you. They discussed earmuffs and the president patted his arm as he left. He really, really, couldn't wait to find Ainsley.

* * *

Ainsley was humming along to the radio as she packed up her office for the day. The weekend actually, she'd finished the last of her files and had given herself an extra day. The song changed to her latest favorite and she hit the remote to crank up the volume. She'd been very happy, after getting out of the basement, to find she got excellent reception on the country station out of Virginia. She sang along, dancing around her desk to get her coat.

Sam whistled appreciatively from the doorway.

She beamed at him. "Dance with me," she ordered.

He came into the room. "I'd love to."

She wrapped her arms around him. "I have a three day weekend."

"We are going out."

"We are? You're going to pay attention to me?"

He was grinning. "I am all yours."

"You look very happy. What's up?"

"I had a very good day."

She slipped into her jacket and slid an arm around his waist, holding her bag in the other. "Tell me."

"When we get to the hotel."



"You had a *very* good day."

"I did."

She hugged him. "That's good."

He took her bag from her. "Let's go."

"Okay." She clicked her desk lamp off and headed out to his car with him. ***** Sam checked them in and they went up to their suite. "Room service."

She hefted the overnight bag she'd grabbed from home. "Surprise me. I'm going to slip into something more comfortable."

He called for food, and a bottle of wine.

She came out of the bathroom wearing a Japanese inspired set of silk pajamas. They were drapey and loose but somehow showed all her curves. Her hair was piled up in a messy bun on her head. She grinned at him, sauntering over and doing a little twirl when she reached him.


"I bought them for a special occasion. I thought this counted."

"Wow," he said again.

She grinned. "Made your good day better, did I?"

"Oh yes."

She kissed him gently. "So what happened?"

"Well, recently intelligence discovered the Russians were building the bomb for Iran."

Her eyes widened. "Really?" she squeaked.

"Josh and Leo were working on ways to cancel the Summit."

"And miss the fun of Finland?"

"Of course we have to proceed like nothing's happened, so I still have to Bob Eubankskov and his friend from the Embassy. Just as I'm leaving, he tells me he's got something he wants to add to the language of the joint statement."

"I thought you weren't involved in the language. That state and all of them were working on it."

"That's what I said. He was adamant." He paused. "Do you remember when I was complaining about these guys and the idioms?"

"Yeah. You kept having to explain what you meant."

"This passage-- the guy said he wrote it-- had idioms in it. English expressions. Stem the tide. Surely once is enough. It still sounded like empty speechifying, except that it was about nuclear weapons, about stopping nuclear weapons-- an issue that wasn't even going to be a topic for discussion."

"And since there was idioms he couldn't have written it," she filled in. "So Chigorin did."

"Exactly. I brought it to the president."

"And saved the world."

He laughed. "It sure felt like that. I was just going to give it to Josh, but Josh insisted I tell the President myself. I didn't know if I'd totally misjudged something-- I mean, if the Russian president was trying to send a message, would he really do it through two embassy guys and the Deputy Director of Communications? I read it, I explain, and there's a moment of total silence. Let me point out, by the way, that there are about a dozen people in the room, from state and legislative affairs, plus Admiral Fitzwallace and Leo. No one says a word, until the President says Chigoran is trying to send us a message. Then they immediately start voicing their agreement. All of them, at once. Like they're the president's own personal brigade of yes-men."

She laughed. "And you let out a sigh of relief."


She kissed him tenderly. "Congratulations. That was a good day."

"So we're still going to Finland."


"And the funny thing is, if I was a. . .simpler speaker, and hadn't needed to keep explaining myself, I might never have noticed the significance of the passage."

"That's true. You were the perfect man to deliver the message."

He grinned.

"'Course you're the perfect man in a lot of ways."

He kissed her. "Thank you."

"You're welcome."

There was a knock at the door. "Room service."

Sam got up to get the door.

The waiter set up the cart by the sofa, smiled at Ainsley and headed out after Sam signed the check. Ainsley peered under the cover. "Mmm, steaks."

"Thought you'd like."

"You're good to me," she told him, sitting in front of the table and uncovering the trays.

"I try to be."

She patted the couch beside her. "Hungry?"

"Starving." He sat and uncovered his plate.

They ate in silence. One of the few times Ainsley was silent was when she was eating. She snuggled against his side and fed him a bite here and there, stealing things off his plate.

"We do have the same meal, you know."

She pouted at him. "You usually think it's cute."

"I do. I'm just saying."

She popped a baby carrot in his mouth and kissed him. "Hush."


She smiled and sipped her wine, going back to her meal.

She finished before him, as usual, and he reached over and uncovered her desert for her. Her eyes lit up. "Cheesecake!"

"Only the best for you," he teased.

She kissed him hard and began to eat it with delight. When he was done with his dinner, he sat back and watched her eat. She was totally involved in the cheese cake, making sure she scraped up every last smear and crumb before leaning back in satisfaction.

"You're adorable." He leaned over and kissed her.

She kissed him. "And getting better adored every day.

He nibbled her ear. "Mmm, bad grammar."

"You knew what I meant."

"Mmmhmm." He kissed his way down her neck.

She sighed, leaning back. "Have you seen the bathroom?"

"Why would I look at the bathroom?"

"There's a two person tub in there."

"Would you like to take a bath?"

"I think I would."

He stood and held out a hand to her. She took it, letting him pull her to her feet and into the bathroom.

He let her take care of the water, because she had a more sensitive sense of temperature than he did.

She finally got it how she liked it and started unbuttoning his shirt. He brushed her hands away, faster with the buttons than she was.

She unhooked his buckle and fly, then stepped back to pull her pajamas off. She left him to finish his clothes as she stepped into the almost full tub.

She shook her head as he neatly folded the clothes first. "You're silly," she informed him.

"That's silk." He climbed into the tub.

"It's pajamas."

"Still silk."

She bent forward to kiss him softly. "Okay."

He turned on the jets. "This is nice."

She hummed. "Yes, it is."

He ran his hand slowly up the inside of one of her legs. She smiled, kissing his shoulder as she scooted closer. He pulled her into his lap and moved his hands over her skin. Her kisses trailed across his collar bone.

He sighed, cupping her breasts. She grinned, mouth finding his again, sliding her fingers into his hair. He brushed his thumbs over her nipples.

She sucked in a soft breath, arching into him. "Isn't it interesting," she murmured. "That something we do virtually everyday can still be so entertaining?"

"Are you kidding? This is never boring."

She smiled. "You've slept with better women then I have men."


"I've had some bad sex, Sam." She kissed him deeply. "But not with you."

"Good." He dipped his head to kiss her breasts. She hummed in pleasure shifting up to her knees to bring her breasts closer to his mouth. He sucked on one nipple gently.

She pressed her face into his hair, holding him tight. One hand wandered down her body, between her legs. She murmured his name, widening her stance to give him room.

He slid two fingers inside her, thumb rubbing her clit.

She gasped. "God."

He stroked her slowly, taking his time. She rocked with the motion of his hand, breathing hard. Her fingers dug into his shoulders. He leaned up, kissing her mouth.

He felt her start to flutter around his fingers. "Sam," she moaned softly.

He kissed her deeper, swallowing her cries.

She came swiftly, clenching tight around him. He sighed, leaning against the back of the tub for a moment.

She smiled, kissing his chest. "Thank you."

He chuckled a little. "Anytime."

She traced patterns on his damp skin with her finger. "How hard do you think it is to give a blow job under water?"

"I heard women have died from it."

Her eyes widened. "Really?"

"Drowning or something."

"Never mind then."

He pulled her forward a little and positioned her over him. "It's just fine."

"I get points for offering, right?" she murmured as she slid down his length.

"Uh. . .yeah. . ."

She grinned. "I hold you in the palm of my hand."

"You. . .you really do. . "

"My plan is working perfectly."

He closed his eyes and groaned as she moved. She kissed his mouth softly, moving up and down on him, holding his shoulders for leverage. He slid his hands up her body, over her slick skin.

She kept up her pace, shifting her angle a little with every thrust to touch different places. She dug at his shoulders, starting to tremble a little. Water sloshed out of the tub, and he grit his teeth. "Are you. . ."

"Yeah." She started to flutter then she tossed her head back with a cry as she came. He groaned, finally letting go, coming with her.

She sagged against his chest, breathing hard. He kissed the top of her head.

She purred happily. "That was nice."


"Really nice."

"This. . . has been the best night ever."

"Saved the world and got some ass."

He hit the button to turn the tub jets up. She took a deep breath, relaxing into the beat of the water. He rocked her gently, just a little.

She closed her eyes, nuzzling her head under his chin. He closed his too, thinking he could stay just like that forever.

* * *

"I'm going to miss you when you're in Finland." Ainsley was laying on her stomach on his bed, watching him pull clothes out of his dresser and closet. His packing list was in front of her and she was supposed to cross off items as he packed them.

"Black Armani," he said.

"Check. It'll be the longest we've been apart. Aside from breaks of course."

He looked up. "Really?"

"Yes. Since we've been official."

"It's three days."

"We always have lunch or something. I pop up to see you, you pop down to see me. We see each other daily."

"Yeah, but I'm saying, it's just three days. I'll call."

"I'm allowed to miss you, Sam."

"I'll miss you too."


He leaned over to kiss her quickly. "But I have to pack."

She pouted at him but turned back to the list. "Go."

He smiled and her and disappeared into his bathroom.

She flipped to his toiletries list. The man was so organized sometimes it worried her. It was a very. . . complete list. "They do have drug stores in Finland, you know."

"I learned the hard way about buying toiletries overseas."

"Do I want to know the story?"

"Trying to find cough medicine in Rome for Josh."

"Why were you taking care of Josh?"

"I'm always responsible for Josh when we travel, whenever Donna stays here."

"He can't take care of himself?"

Sam snorted.

She tilted her head. "Who takes care of you on the road?"


She went back to the list, checking off shampoo, conditioner and soap. "If I got to go, I'd take care of you."

"Talk to Babish."

"The problem is you guys haven't gotten into any legal trouble lately."

"I can't ask myself to bring you along."

"I know. I wouldn't ask you to. It was a hypothetical."

"Cause if I did, and they said it was okay, the next step may involve spending a nine hour plane rise with Amy Gardner."

"Amy doesn't strike me as someone who wants to follow her man around the world.


"She's not devoted like me," she said with a smile.

"But there's really nothing to see in Finland."

"There's snow."

"And moose."

"And saunas."


"I've been doing some reading. They like their saunas in Finland. I suppose to counteract the snow and ice."


"So if you get bored you could sneak off to some Finnish sauna."

"I'd like that."

She glanced at him. "Alone."

He frowned, *not* liking that.

She tilted her head because her mind had gone down a different path. "But now I'm picturing you and Josh hanging out like two old Jewish men and it's kind of funny."

"Why Josh?"

"I try not to picture Toby, Leo or the President shirtless."

"I could picture CJ shirtless."


"What? I could." He frowned. "Though she'll probably know I thought that and beat me senseless when she sees me next. She's psychic like that."

"All women know when men think about them naked. Josh is thinking about me right now."

"No, he's not. You're not his type."

"I don't make his life miserable on a fairly consistent basis?"

"He's weird." Sam considered Josh's past girlfriends. "His type is brunette, strident, and prone to yelling at him. Personally, I think he deliberately dates women he can't be happy with. It's some kind of defense mechanism, so he won't have to have a real relationship, or commitment. The whole world knew he had a crush on Joey Lucas, but he never did anything about it because there's nothing wrong with her. Yeah, she'd smack him around a little, but it reminded me more of. . . Donna, than of, say, Mandy." He looked up. "You ever meet Mandy Hampton?"

"Before my time. And we don't hang in the same circle, politics wise."

Sam chuckled. "Truth to that."

"Do you ever worry about Josh? It seems like he keeps setting himself up to be alone."

"I used the think he was just being. . .you know. Then one time, when he was very drunk, he told me how everyone he loves dies." Sam shrugged.

She tilted her head. "I can see how that would screw a person up."

"Maybe someday he'll come around."

"I hope so. Everyone should be as happy as us."

He kissed her mouth and zipped up his garment bag. "I should get going."

"Call me when you get in."

"I will."

"Have fun."

He kissed her again, deeply. She cupped his cheeks to kiss him back. She smiled when they parted. "I'll see you Sunday."

"Bye," he said quietly, and made himself walk away.

* * *

"Are you going to get in trouble for making personal calls on this phone?"

Sam rested his feet on the empty seat in front of him. "CJ does it. Besides, it's Air Force one."

"That was my point."

"Ainsley, it's fine. We're somewhere over the Atlantic and the President's asleep. If you're really nervous tell me something about work."

She thought a moment. "The air vent in my office is broken and with a big window it turned into a sauna in here, so I took my pantyhose and bra off."

"Okay, before you say any more, there are about twenty intelligence agencies that can probably hear this call."

"Well, I just made their night, didn't I? Hi boys!"

"Aren't you used to a sauna of an office by now? If you get too hot, just think about me in Finland."

CJ came into the cabin, giggling. Airplanes always seemed to do strange things to her. "Sam, did you see the earmuffs?"

"The earmuffs?"

"Earmuffs?" Ainsley repeated.

CJ grabbed Sam's arm. "Come on, you have to see this."

"I'm on the phone."

"Ainsley can wait."

"Hold on," he said and put the phone down. He stood up. "What earmuffs?"

"Dr. Bartlet heard about the optional earmuffs thing and decided her husband needed some just in case he got cold."

"Okay," he said, not understanding. She dragged him into the front cabin, and there was the President in his office chair, sound asleep. He was wearing earmuffs composed of two fuzzy yellow smiley faces. Sam clapped his hand over his mouth and CJ pulled him away before he laughed out loud.

"Do you know if anyone would have a camera besides the press?" she whispered, grinning.

"Has Josh seen it yet?" Sam asked as he made his way back to his seat.

"No, I'm gonna go get him." She giggled again, heading off past his chair to spread the fun.

Sam picked up the phone. "Ainsley?"

"Still here. Thinking about taking off my underwear."

He groaned. "The First Lady put smiley-face earmuffs on the president."

She giggled. "Really?"

Suddenly from the front office they heard the president shout and indignant, "Abbey!" The staff cabin dissolved into laughter.

Ainsley heard the laughter and sighed softly. "You guys have so much fun."

"Soon we'll be in Finland and that will be over."

"Finland really isn't the secret, tenth circle of hell, you know. I hear it's very pretty."

"With lots of moose."

"I hear moose are beautiful creatures. Full of grace and stuff like that."

"Yeah. Just like being in Monty Python movie."

She grinned. "My sister was bitten by a moose once. No, really, she was."

Sam laughed. He watched the president come out off his office with the earmuffs. Without saying a word he walked over to where Charlie was sleeping and carefully placed the earmuffs on his head. Then he went back to his office, and the rest of them stared. CJ made a snorting noise and tried to focus on her book. Sam whispered, "The earmuffs have been transferred to Charlie."

"And you people think you can run the country for another four years."

"Everybody needs to blow off steam."

"I see. And they don't all have beautiful blonde girlfriends to entertain them on the taxpayers money."

"It's nine PM over there, why are you still in the office. The President is out of town, along with the senior staff. Hell, I think Babish is on this plane somewhere. And I thought you had the day off?"

"I'm sitting here pining for you. Being in the building makes me feel closer to you." He heard rustling. "Actually, I'm ready to leave, they just called me to clear up a couple things. If you'd like you could call back at my apartment in an hour."

"That's okay, I don't want to tie up this line. I'll call you from Helsinki tomorrow."

"Okay. I miss you."

"I miss you too."

"Bye Sam." She made kissing noises.

He didn't reciprocate. People were watching. "Bye."

He heard her laugh as she hung up the phone.

* * *

Her clock read three AM when the phone rang. "Hum-na-ha?"


"Sam?" She looked at her clock. "It's three AM." She sat up. "Oh my God. Something's wrong. What happened? Who's dead?"

"Nothing's wrong. I need you to talk to me and keep me awake."

"Why wouldn't you want to sleep like a normal person?"

"Because I'm the only one who hasn't gotten the earmuffs."

"Sam, it's three in the morning. You need to use small words and explain things."

"Charlie waited until CJ fell asleep and then put the earmuffs on her, then she put them on Josh. . . I'm the only one left who hasn't gotten them. Toby's watching me and waiting and I really don't think he ever needs sleep. Talk to me."

She rolled over, snuggling under her covers. "Okay," she murmured. "You wanna have phone sex?"

"Um, I really think this line is recorded."

"I bet the secret service guys are sleepy too."

"I'm landing in an hour and besides, I told you Toby's watching me. His eyes might be closed but I know he's watching."

"Is getting the muffs really that bad?"


She sighed. "Are you looking forward to Helsinki?"

"Well, it's not St. Croix."

"If you meet the Finnish version of Becky Lynn I'd run."

"Maybe I'll send them a postcard."

"I'm sure I have her address, phone number, e-mail, birthdate and blood type in my pocket book somewhere."

"We land in an hour. Josh is snoring *really* loudly."

"I wish I was," she murmured.

"You only snore when you have a cold."

"I never snore! You do. I simply talk in my sleep."

"In a foreign language made up of snorts and sighs?"

"I'm going to hang up and you can get earmuffed for all I care."

"You wouldn't be so cruel."

"You've wounded my girlish pride. I'm vexed with you now. I'll have to go back to sleep and have naughty dreams about someone else."

"It's cute snoring."

"Deeper and deeper, Samson."

"I should go now."

"So no phone sex?"

"Sorry. Maybe when I get to my hotel."

"Okay. 'Cause I don't have to be up in four hours or anything."

"I'm sorry."

"That's okay, what's a little sleep deprivation between lovers."

"Thank you. I appreciate it. I'll call you during the day tomorrow."

"Thank you. G'night, Sam."

Twenty minutes later the plane began it's descent, and the pinging seatbelt sign woke Sam up. He was wearing earmuffs.

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