by Robyn H.

Disclaimer:TWW and it's characters are Sorkin's, this little story's mine.
Spoilers: 17 People
Rating: PG
Archive: Sure.
Authors Note: This is in response to the challenge of what really happened with the coffee thing.

I've never noticed the stars before. Or how cool the breeze can be on a warm, humid night. You'd think, since I go sailing often, that I would've noticed those things by now. But I haven't. Not really. It's funny how you can see or even feel things, but not notice them. Or maybe sad would be a better word. Or terrifying.

Ainsley and I were doing our good-natured arguing bit. That's what we do. Josh and Donna banter, we out-and-out argue. And we were having an exceptionally good round tonight-right up until she shoved that coffee tray in my hands. We'd been animately disscussing the ERA, an issue on which we vastly disagree, and the thing that really gets her pissed is that there is no pastry cheif?

"Ainsley, wait!" I put down the coffee tray and take her by the shoulders. "Tell me what's wrong."

She sighed. "It's nothing. I guess I've just had a long day, and to tell you the truth," she peered up into my eyes with a small smile, "I'm nervous about tomorrow."

This threw me. The kind of debate Ainsley was participating in tomorrow was the kind of thing she excelled at. My brow was furrowed, but I returned her smile. "You know you'll be great, you always are."

Her smile turned into a grin. "Thank you." Then her grin slowly faded as she continued to stare at me.

I noticed it then. This thing that has always been between us. I watched her eyes widen as she saw the realization that must have crept over my face.

"Finally," she breathed.

I couldn't help it-I kissed her. Her lips were so soft, and she tasted of fortune cookies. She brought her hands up to my face as I held on to her waist. She gently pushed my head back.


That's it. That's all she said. But I understood. I kissed her one more time, brushing my lips against her forehead gently.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry it took this long, Ainsley. But I promise I'll make it up to you. I promise."

She gave me another one of her killer smiles and backed out of my arms. "I'm going to hold you to that, Seaborne. We better head back before they send out a search party."

I followed her up the stairs with the coffee tray. I was having trouble thinking about anything but what just happened. I think I said something about spilling coffee as an explaination for how late we were, but from the you're-so-adorable-when-you're-embarrassed look on Ainsley's face, I don't think anyone was buying it.

Had everyone noticed but me?

We got through the meeting with Toby coming in at the last looking like `death on a Triskit' as Zoe would say. I'll have to remember to ask him about that later. I walked Ainsley to her car, then softly kissed her goodnight.

So here I am, staring out my office window, relunctant to return to my empty apartment. What if I had never noticed? Would Ainsley have given up on me? God, I hope not.

The sound of a ball hitting the wall next door brings me out of my thoughts.

I get up and walk over to Toby's office and stand in the doorway. I know he knows I'm here, so I don't say anything.

Toby doesn't even look up. "You were so deep in thought, I didn't think you'd even notice."

I catch the ball before it can hit the wall again, and he raises his eyes to meet mine. "Yeah, but I did. Let's talk."

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