Title: Here

Author: Karen T

Rating: G

Disclaimers: Characters do not belong to me; no copyrights infringements intended.

Spoilers: "Arctic Radar"

Classification: Post-ep ficlet, Sam POV

Archive: I'd be honored. Just let me know where so I can visit.

Feedback: Always appreciated. Please send to poohmusings@yahoo.com.

Notes: Since it's been awhile since I've written a TWW fic, I wrote this little ditty with the hopes of reigniting my West Wing muse. It's nothing special; just a peek into what may be going on in that head of Sam's. Thanks to Karen M, Celli, and Jessica S for telling me this doesn't suck.

Summary: "I want to win. But you already know that, too."

They clap when I enter the office. Really, they do. Every single time.

Think of when the President walks onto a stage and is about to give a speech to a large audience. Or think of the President walking into Congress on the night of a State of the Union address. Hell, think of George Bailey at the end of It's a Wonderful Life. That's what it's like. They clap. For me. Every single time. It's honestly remarkable.

But I'm not doing this for the praise or the amazing ego boost. Oh, I'm not denying that either of those is nice. They're great. Fantastic. Preposterously incredible, in fact. But, see, I want to be here. You know I didn't, at first. In the beginning, it was simply a matter of an impulsive promise to a bereaved widow whose husband had had nothing but the utmost respect for the President's integrity. She wanted someone like him to stand in for her husband, and she didn't laugh when she heard my name.

Now, I want to be here. I do. Maybe it's because I didn't want to when things started happening, and a lot of other people didn't want to be here, either. Orange County was forgotten and dismissed. By the Democratic Party, by the White House, maybe even by Wilde. Who knows.

But Will Bailey didn't forget about Orange County. He didn't forget about the people who live here and want something better, something more than what they're currently getting. They deserve more.

Sometimes, it's really just that simple.

I don't want to forget, and I don't want to dismiss. That's not me; it's not what I'm about. You know that.

I want to be here now. I want to lead. I want to fight.

I want to win.

But you already know that, too.

This was never my intention, and, for the first time in my life, my words are failing me. I can't seem to explain things. I couldn't find the words I wanted to say to you when you saw me packing up my office. And when I wrote the first draft of this letter on the plane to John Wayne, I couldn't find the right words then, either.

Maybe I should just drop it. Maybe I should stop trying to explain myself since I only seem to speaking in circles lately. Maybe I should believe in our friendship and place faith in you understanding everything without me clarifying anything. Maybe I should actually send this to you.

I think we both know I probably won't.

Right now, I'm not sure what I'm more frightened of: winning and moving to a place I could learn to love, or losing and going back to a place I already love. Sometimes I wish th

"Hey, still unpacking?"

Sam curled his hands into defensive balls and leapt to his feet at the sound of the unfamiliar yet also slightly familiar female voice. A quick glance to his doorway informed him that Elsie was the person who had just beckoned him.

"Uh, yeah," he began, instinctually shoving his hands into the nearest open box, which happened to be sitting on his desk next to his laptop. "Unpacking can take…a long time sometimes."

A flicker of confusion showed on her face as her eyes slid down to gaze at his computer. But then she smiled and shrugged noncommittally. "Yeah, I guess. I don't mean to bother you, but Will wanted me to remind you to put the County Clerk in the boat, and to remember Nina Mercer and light rail."

Sam chuckled at this regurgitation of information. "He told me all that before he left. Did he think I wasn't listening?"

"Well, my brother is nothing if not anal." She started to join in on Sam's laughter when she spied a bit of purple felt poking out of his box. Walking towards it, she reached out and fingered the pointed corner of the flag. "Hey, you're a Lakers fan?"

"Of course. I grew up here. How could I not be?"

Elsie grinned at his honest response before looking at him with an expression of solemnity. "I didn't really know what to make of it when Will first told me that you were going to replace Wilde. Sure, you have the name recognition, but…you're D.C. slick and I thought we needed someone a little more California."

"What? Like someone with a better tan?" Sam quipped, the corners of lips pushing upwards.

"Maybe. But you know what, Sam Seaborn? I think you're going to fit in here just fine."

Sam's mouth parted in surprise, but he quickly recovered to offer her a lop-sided smile as his cheeks began to burn. "Thanks. I don't—"

"And you should save whatever you were working on before it gets accidentally deleted," she interrupted, signaling how she didn't feel like she needed to be thanked. "I'll talk to ya later."

He watched her depart in a stunned silence and then sat back down in his seat, his eyes raking over the words displayed across the screen. They were words he had been ruminating on all day. With a simple move of his mouse, he clicked on 'Save as Draft' and watched his email program add his latest message to the growing number of unsent emails addressed to 'Toby Ziegler.'

Scratching his head and sighing, Sam stood, stretched his back, and picked up his beloved Lakers flag. It didn't take him long to find a pushpin and the perfect spot on the wall behind his desk for him to hang it on. To his surprise, the pin entered the wall with great ease.

— the end —

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