Title: Home Again
Author:
Willow
Summary: Sam's welcomed back into the White House, but first there's a chilly problem to solve. Set immediately after chapter 9
Spoilers/Episode: Set in an a/u that leaves the show's timeline after season 5, Memorial Day. This chapter takes place immediately after chapter 9 .
Characters: Ensemble, Sam & Chloe (a little J/D, just for fun)
Rating: G


Part I

Sunday January 9th 2005

Sam and Josh took Donna to her apartment and then went to talk to Toby. "I'm telling you he'll say yes," Josh insisted. "And you must be pretty sure or you wouldn't be here," he smiled.

"You can never be completely sure with Toby," Sam replied as they reached Toby's apartment. "By the way, you and Donna is the best news I've had in a long time. And if anyone gives you any shit, I've got your back."

"Thanks," Josh smiled and knocked on Toby's apartment door. "Hey," he said when Toby answered. "Look who I found."

Toby grinned at Sam. "I didn't know you were in town."

"I wanted to surprise everyone. You busy?"

"Not at the moment, I'm seeing the twins in an hour."

"We can come back," Sam offered as he was suddenly hit by nerves.

"No we can't," Josh said. "Tell him."

"Tell me what?" Toby asked. "You want a drink?"

"No we're fine," Josh replied. "Tell him," he repeated and nudged Sam.

Toby watched Josh and Sam curiously. Sam looked nervous about something, while Josh looked excited. "Sam," he said. "Whatever it is, just tell me."

"I was wondering, and I'll understand if you say no, but I was wondering whether you'd like to offer me a job."

"A job doing what?" Toby asked with a smile.

"Anything on the writing staff really would be okay."

"For God's sake," Josh muttered. "Sam was wondering if he can have his job back."

Toby gave Josh an amused look, "I'd worked that out." He looked back at Sam. "What about your current job?"

"It was a temporary contract," Sam replied. "It expired last week."

"So you're unemployed, again?" Toby asked.

"No, they offered to renew the contract, that's not why I'm asking."

Toby smiled, "I know. Why would you think I'd say no?"

"'Cos I left."

"And he sent Will to you," Josh added mischievously.

"You left for a good reason," Toby told Sam, "and I was one of those who told you to do it, so I don't care about that. However, sending me Will, what the hell were you thinking?"

"I like him, he's a good writer," Sam argued.

"Not as good as you," Toby replied. "And now he's going to try and get Russell elected, which is your fault."

"Put him out of his misery," Josh told Toby.

"Of course you can have the job, what the hell took you so long to ask?" Toby told Sam. "Although you still have to convince Leo and the president."

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When Josh pulled into his parking space at the White House, Sam was suddenly hit by a mixture of fear and excitement. The excitement was the same as he'd felt almost everyday during their first two or three years in office, before it had started to dull. Now he was relieved to find it back and he smiled as he climbed out of the car. The fear of course, was that Leo or the president would say no to his request, but his excitement was managing to quell the fear for now.

"What are you grinning at?" Josh asked.

"This," Sam pointed to the building. "It's just amazing to be here."

"It is," Josh agreed. Even after everything that had happened in the last five years, Josh still found himself awed to be working in the White House. "Of course you might not want to come back when you hear what happened last week."

"Why, what happened?" Sam asked.

"Leo's reinstated Big Block Of Cheese Day," Josh grinned.

"Oh, God, really," Sam gave a mock sigh.

"'Fraid so. It'll be followed by one the the president's chili evenings."

"Chili? You couldn't have warned me?" Sam smiled as they entered the lobby.

Josh signed Sam in and they walked through the west wing to Leo's office. Even though it was Sunday morning, none of them had been too surprised that Leo was in the office. Sam waited nervously at Margaret's empty desk, while Josh and Toby went to talk to Leo.

Josh tapped gently on the door and walked into Leo's office. "Do you have a minute?"

Leo looked up. "I didn't know you were in."

"We're not, not really," Josh replied. "We need to talk to you about something."

"You do know I work Sundays because it's peaceful and I don't get disturbed," Leo complained good-naturedly. Josh had a nervously excited air about him, which usually meant he had an outrageous plan that might just work, but which gave Leo sleepless nights. "I hate to ask, what's happened?"

"Sam's here," Josh replied.

"Here, in the building?" Leo asked. "You know how to show your friends a good time when they visit."

"He wants to talk to you," Josh said.

"About what?" Leo asked.

"A job," Josh replied.

"Josh," Leo sighed.

"He wants the deputy's job back," Toby supplied.

Not many things took Leo by surprise, but he hadn't been expecting that. "He does?"

"Yeah," Josh agreed.

"What do you think?" Leo asked Toby.

"Yeah," Toby replied.

"Is he serious though? This isn't a whim?" Leo asked.

"He says he's been thinking about it since his last visit," Josh said.

"Yet he took a job someplace else," Leo pointed out.

"He wanted to be sure," Josh replied. "His contract at Debavoise and Plimpton is up, they've offered to renew it, but he wants to come back to Washington. He is serious, Leo. He wants to get back into politics and if we don't take him, someone else will."

"Okay," Leo smiled. "If you two are happy then I'll talk to the president. Where is he?"

"Sam," Josh called Sam into the office.

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Jed couldn't take it any longer; Leo was hovering and obviously dying to tell him something. "Okay, I can read this later," he said. "What's wrong?"

"I can come back....."

"No."

Leo smiled. "State Of The Union may be easier than we thought this year."

"Toby's discovered how to relax?" Jed asked.

"Toby's chosen a deputy."

"About time, it's only taken him 18 months. I don't know why he has to make things so difficult for himself, it's almost like he enjoys being able to complain." Jed caught Leo's impatient sigh and he smiled. "Who is the poor soul, more to the point, does he understand what he's let himself in for?"

"I think he knows."

"Who is it?"

"Sam."

"Sam?" Jed asked. "Seaborn?"

"Yeah. Seems, as much as he enjoyed his new job in Connecticut, he misses us. Also, it's taken him the last three months to talk his fiance round to him working in Washington."

"And she's happy about it now?"

"Apparently."

"What about when she discovers that he'll be working an 80 hour week?"

"They've got it worked out, a place here, a place there, I don't know," Leo shrugged. "You don't seem too happy?"

"Don't get me wrong, Leo, I love the idea of having Sam back, I just want to make sure he's thought this through."

"You want to talk to him? He's waiting nervously in Josh's office."

Jed finally smiled. He picked up the phone and called Josh's office. "Josh, come over to the Residence and bring Toby and Sam with you."

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Sunday Evening, Connecticut

"So what did they say?" Chloe asked as they drove home from the airport.

"Yes," Sam smiled.

"I already know that because you called me and if you hadn't, your stupidly happy grin would give the game away," Chloe teased. "I mean, what did they say, you sounded surprised on the phone."

"I wasn't completely sure they would agree. I knew Josh would, I was surprised how easy Toby was to convince, Leo gave me a bit of a grilling; I think he was worried about you."

"Me?"

Sam shrugged, "Long hours, trips away, you know. The president kept me talking in the Residence for over an hour. He only let me go when Abbey reminded him of the time and that they had to leave for Mass."

Chloe drove quietly along the freeway, while Sam relayed parts of his conversations with the president and first lady, and with the White House chief of staff. It suddenly occurred to her that he was returning to another world, a world she had no knowledge of, and it scared her a little. He'd always talked about them, the White House staff, the president and first lady, but they weren't real to her, now suddenly they were about to become a huge part of Sam's life again and that in turn would make them a part of her life too.

Sam stopped talking when he noticed Chloe's quietness, he studied her in the street lights for a second before asking, "Are you sure you're okay with this?"

"I said I was." Chloe knew he wanted more than that, but she couldn't explain the nervousness she felt, not even to herself. She did know how important this was to Sam though and she wasn't going to stand in his way. "It's what you want to do, if you're happy then I am."

"I know," Sam agreed. "It's just, we won't be seeing much of each other."

"We'll have the weekends, or at least the evenings at the weekends. It'll only be for one semester, I should be able to get a transfer to someplace nearer by then."

"You don't mind that?" Sam asked. "We moved to Connecticut because you were homesick."

"I know, but it's not that far or that different. California was a world away, it wasn't home."

"You sound like Josh," Sam smiled. "His mom moved to Florida three years ago, he's lived in Washington for 20 years, but he still insists that Westport is home."

"We New Englanders are a homely bunch. It's like that Welsh thing Maude was telling us about."

"Hiraeth," Sam remembered. "A longing for the land," he smiled. "A yearning to be home in the land of your fathers?"

"Yes," Chloe agreed.

"Except Josh's father was born in Poland, but I get your meaning. You can meet them all now, no excuses."

"I haven't been making excuses," Chloe protested, although she knew she had. There had been nothing stopping her going with him today, but she'd made an excuse about work preparation and marking. "It's just kind of scary meeting them."

"Why?"

"They're almost your family," Chloe replied and then smiled, "except you like them better."

"True," Sam agreed. "But they'll love you."

"Really?"

"Yes."

"Even Toby Ziegler?"

"He doesn't like new people at first, takes him a year or so, but then you'll be fine," Sam smiled. It was actually Josh she was going to have to convince, but he didn't tell Chloe that. Josh never approved of his girlfriends, although in fairness he never approved of Josh's either, until now. "You'll get to meet the president."

"When?" Chloe asked nervously.

"State Of The Union."

"That's only three weeks off."

"Yes. He will love you, he's a great guy. When you meet him you'll be glad you voted for him."

"Who said I voted for him?" Chloe asked.

"That's not funny," Sam smiled.

"It wasn't meant to be," she said, but she couldn't keep a straight face. "When do you start then?"

"Next Monday. I thought we could go on Friday after you finish work. You can meet everyone and we can do some apartment hunting."

Part 2 >>>>