Summary: "Of all the women in D.C., you had to fall for a Republican." Sam/Ainsley
Disclaimer: Not my characters, alas.
A/N: A companion piece to my CSI Miami fic "Inheritance" (storyid 2079012). Consider this a prequel, kind of.
I see me with you and all the things you do
Keep turning round and round in my mind
Forget the weather we should always be together
Any other thought is unkind
Sting, "We'll Be Together"
Sam was reading through the notes Toby had made on his speech when there was a tentative knock on the door. He looked up, eager for a distraction, and smiled when he saw what form it came in.
She stepped into his office. "Do you have a free minute?"
"Of course. Have a seat."
Ainsley closed the door before sitting down.
"That's going to get people talking."
"Because, you know, none of them have any actual work to do."
Sam chuckled. "What's on your mind?"
"I . . . Well, I just wanted to thank you for being so great. I mean, compared to a lot of other people who work here. You got over the fact that I'm a Republican pretty quickly and I'm really glad we got to be friends. You're not so bad, for a Democrat." She smiled, then self-consciously tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
"I'm glad we're friends too."
"It's been good working with you."
"Wait a second. What are you talking about? You're not leaving, are you?" He wondered why he suddenly felt as if he'd been sucker-punched.
Ainsley nodded. "I am."
She stared past him; her gaze focused on something beyond his shoulder. "Do you have any idea how hard it's been to work in the same building with hundreds of people who hate what I stand for?"
"That's not why you're quitting. You couldn't care less what other people think of you."
"Maybe that's just what I want you to think."
Sam remembered finding her in tears in her "office" after receiving a bouquet of dead flowers. Yeah, he thought, maybe she did care. "Did you come here so I could talk you out of it?"
"No. I've handed my letter of resignation to Leo already. I came because – Well, we're friends and I hope we can still be friends and, you know, indirectly it's all your fault I ended up here anyway." She shrugged. "I just don't feel like I'm doing anything worthwhile here, you know?"
Sam nodded; he had moments where he felt useless. He'd lost count of all the times he'd been left out of the loop. "So what are your plans? Are you staying in D.C.?"
"Yeah. My cousin and I are going into partnership." Her smile turned sly. "Hey, if you ever want out, you're more than welcome to join us."
He laughed. "Ask me in four years."
Ainsley stood, smoothing her hands over her skirt. "See you around, Sam."
He watched her leave, the speech forgotten. When Josh came in half an hour later, Sam was still staring into space.
"Sam, you joining us for drinks tonight?"
Josh waved his hands in front of Sam's face. "Earth to Sam?"
"Sorry, I was just thinking."
"There's a first."
The comment didn't get the desired response. Sam just shook his head. "Ainsley's resigned."
"One less Republican roaming the White House halls." Josh chuckled at his own cleverness, then stopped at the look on Sam's face. "Uh, is there something you need to be telling me?"
"I don't know."
"'Cause you'd tell me if there was anything going on with you and Ainsley, right?"
It was clear Sam hadn't heard a single word. "She said she wanted to thank me for being her friend. Do you think that was supposed to mean something? You know, like in secret woman code or something?"
"Secret woman code?" Josh laughed. "I don't know, did you want it to mean something?"
"Do you think I should get her something? To say good luck for her new job."
Josh leaned against the doorjamb, enjoying his friend's confusion. He jumped at the tap on his shoulder and turned to see Donna holding out a file. "Hey, Donna, did you know Ainsley resigned?"
"Yes? How'd you know before I did?"
Donna smirked. "Ainsley's my friend. When she speaks, I listen."
Josh jerked his head in Sam's direction. "She just told Sam. He's not taking it so well."
"Some friend you are." Donna entered the office and sat on the edge of the desk. "Hey, Sam."
"You know, I try not to meddle in other people's lives—"
Josh snorted. A quick glance from Donna was enough to silence him.
"As I was saying, I try not to meddle but you're my friend and she's my friend and, well, you're both idiots. If you like her, go out with her. If you really like her, make an effort to see her."
"Donnatella Moss, advisor to the lovelorn."
"Joshua Lyman, if you're not careful I have all sorts of things I can say to you."
Josh straightened, suddenly serious. "You know, Sam, you should listen to Donna."
The window rattled as a pink ball bounced off it. Josh and Donna looked through the glass at Toby, his face set in its usual frown.
"Sam, how's that speech coming?" Josh kept his tone casual.
Sam blinked, then looked at the computer screen. "Oh, crap. The speech."
After the irregular work hours Ainsley kept at the White House, it felt strange to be home before nine. She sat down to write an email to her cousin, Calleigh, a criminalist in Miami. They were only a couple of months apart in age and had been close growing up. Remarkably similar in appearance – they favored their paternal grandmother – they thought of each other as sisters more than cousins.
Ainsley had just sent the email when there was a knock at the door. When she looked through the peephole and saw who her surprise visitor was, Ainsley wished she was wearing anything other than the sweatsuit she had on. Then again, she thought, Sam had seen her in a bathrobe before.
She opened the door. "Hi."
"Hey, Ainsley. Uh, is this a bad time? I just finished a meeting and—"
"It's okay. Come in." She stepped aside to let Sam enter. "Have you eaten yet?"
"It's almost ten."
She shrugged as if to say, so what?
Sam held up a cardboard box. "I thought about getting flowers but I thought this was more your style."
Curious, Ainsley took the box and peeked inside. Then she broke into a smile. "Chocolate chip muffins! Be still my heart!"
She took his hand and led him to the kitchen. "So, have you eaten yet?"
Ainsley set the muffins on the counter and took out two plates. She opened the refrigerator and scanned the contents, wondering what to feed Sam.
"Ainsley, you live alone, right?"
"Your refrigerator's pretty full for just one person."
"I have a healthy appetite." She smiled, even though her back was to him and he couldn't see it. "If you think this is a lot of food, you should see my mother's refrigerator."
"Where do you put all that food? You're tiny."
She took out a pasta salad and turned back to Sam, hoping her blush didn't show. "Good genes, I guess. Do you like pasta? I'd offer something else but my microwave's broken and I can't heat anything. Or you could have a muffin but that's not really dinner."
"The salad's fine. Thanks." He seemed at ease in her kitchen, leaning against the counter as if he did it all the time.
"You know, I didn't even ask what you're doing here."
"I, uh, well you said you hoped we could stay friends and I wanted to, uh, say good luck for the new job. And I had a whole lot of muffins I didn't know what to do with."
Ainsley grinned. Sam was adorable like this. She had the urge to kiss him, but didn't. Instead, she presented him with a plate of pasta salad and said, "Bon appetite."
Josh looked at his friend and shook his head sadly. "Of all the women in D.C., you had to fall for a Republican."
Sam smiled. "She fed me."
"I'm sorry, I thought you said she fed you."
"Yes, pasta salad. Then we had muffins."
"That's not some secret code for 'I slept with the Republican sex kitten', is it?" Josh was oblivious to the stares that comment earned him from the people they passed on their way to the morning staff meeting.
Sam glared at Josh.
"You did!" Josh slapped Sam's back in a congratulatory 'You da man' gesture.
"No, I did not. We chatted for a while and then I went home."
Josh wasn't put off. "Did you at least kiss her?"
"Not that it's any of your business anyway, but no."
"No? So why'd you go over there? I thought you were going to woo her."
Sam's forehead creased in confusion as they reached Charlie's desk. "Do people still actually use the term 'wooing'?"
"Who wants to know?" Charlie asked.
"Sam's wooing Ainsley." Josh lowered his voice, as if he was imparting a state secret. Sam rolled his eyes.
"Really?" Charlie gave an appreciative nod. "Go Sam."
"I am not." Sam thought about the previous night. Ainsley didn't share her food with just anyone, especially if there was chocolate involved. He'd almost kissed her goodnight. "Okay, maybe just a little bit."
"He gave her muffins," Josh confided.
"That's not some secret code—"
"No. What is it with you people?" Sam shook his head. When the door to the Oval Office opened, he was first inside, eager to end this conversation.
"Well," Josh said to Charlie, "I guess he could do worse."
Ainsley was early for lunch. She studied the menu while she waited for her cousin, Nathaniel, to arrive. Like her, he was a lawyer, though he had little interest in politics. His wife had died in a car accident a year ago, leaving him with two daughters. He'd agreed to start the firm with Ainsley as it would give him more time to spend at home.
She looked up, unable to hide her smile. "Sam?"
"I have a meeting." He tilted his head in the direction of his table. "I thought it'd be rude not to say hi."
They grinned at each other until another male voice interrupted. "Sorry, I'm late, Ains. Deposition ran overtime."
Ainsley noted a flicker of jealousy in Sam's eyes as her cousin kissed her cheek. "No problem. Nate, this is Sam Seaborn. Sam, my cousin, Nate."
The men shook hands. "Uh, I'd better get back to my meeting. See you, Ainsley."
She watched Sam make his way across the restaurant. Nate cleared his throat, his expression amused. "So, that's Sam, huh?"
"Uh huh. He's not good enough for you."
Ainsley smiled. "According to you, no one's good enough for me."
Nate shrugged. "Can't argue with the truth."
Ainsley glanced back at Sam. He was looking at her. "I think you may be wrong this time, Nate. Sam's not like other guys."
"You know, you're right. He's prettier than most."
Ainsley rolled her eyes. "Nate."
"Isn't he the guy you wiped the floor with on 'Capital Beat'?"
"Well, I wouldn't put it quite like that—"
Nate laughed. "Whatever you say, Ains. Whatever you say."
Sam entered Josh's office without knocking. "I'm going to marry her."
Josh choked on his coffee, spitting half onto his desk. "What? You proposed?"
"No. I just had this, I don't know, an epiphany during lunch. I'm going to marry her."
"Are you even dating yet?"
Sam sat down. "No. Not yet. But I'm going to ask her out."
"Does Ainsley know about the engagement?"
"Who's engaged?" Donna entered with a file.
"Sam had an epiphany."
Donna turned to Sam. "About what?"
"He's going to marry Ainsley."
"Really? Does Ainsley know?"
"Hey, you don't have to talk about me like I'm not here." Sam stood, tugging irritably at his tie. "And don't, you know, tell anyone what I said."
"Especially Ainsley, huh?" Donna grinned at Josh.
Sam groaned and left the office. His friends were supposed to help him, not tease him. When he reached his own office, he closed the door and picked up the phone.
"Ainsley, hi. It's me. Uh, listen, I was wondering – Do you have plans for dinner tonight?"
TBC . . .