Title: 'Chinese, Oprah & No Sex'
Author: Anna Rousseau annadelamico@yahoo.co.uk
Genre: Cast/Light Humour/Romance
Pairings: Sam/Mallory
Rating: PG-13
Set: Season 1 'Six Meetings Before Lunch' (Two Days After)
Last Episode Seen: 'The Midterms'
Spoilers: Season 1
Archive: Yes please

Summary: Josh and Sam get excited about being on TV, then argue about fanclubs; Mallory makes a move; Toby sighs and rolls his eyes...it's a slow day in the West Wing, banter & bickering ensues.

Notes: Only my second West Wing fic, so bear with me, if I don't know all the logistics of the West Wing or get any details wrong. Feedback, as always is appreciated as are reviews.

Disclaimer: I don't own The West Wing- Aaron Sorkin and John Wells probably do...I don't own the characters or the actors either (damn it!). No infringement is intended regarding Oprah Winfrey either- and hell, I don't want her to sue me!


'CHINESE, OPRAH & NO SEX'
=========================

Toby Ziegler stared at the TV screen on the bookcase in his office, clicking the pen in his hand, staccato noises filling the room. CJ was giving her morning briefing to the White House Press Corps. Nothing much in the way of groundbreaking news; Senator Lancaster's full recovery from a heart attack, an update on the Capitol Building's redecoration scheme...really nothing to get that excited about, unless you were one of those people who goes for interior design in a big way.

Toby had to admit, he wasn't one of those guys.

Leaning back in his chair, Toby sighed. He really had nothing to do, for the first time since- well, he couldn't remember the last time he'd actually had some spare time in the office. As Director of Communications there was always some job to be done.

Toby's eyes lit up at an idea that flitted across his mind, then decided that it wouldn't be fair on Ginger if he did that.

He shouldn't have given Sam the 'Banana' speech to write, Toby thought as he reluctantly settled down to The Washington Post's crossword. Wow, he never actually thought that he'd live to see the day when he would be grateful to write a speech to fourth-graders on the continuing war with the Banana Republic.

Rolling his eyes at the first clue, Toby heard a cough, looked up and caught sight of Sam Seaborn and the Deputy Chief of Staff standing in his doorway grinning from ear to ear.

Toby sighed and threw his pen on the desk, "Who died and left you two heirs to the Federal Reserve?"

"We're on TV today!" Josh Lyman exclaimed, giddiness evident in his voice: he was visibly bubbling at the very thought.

Toby looked heavenwards and then breathed a sigh of exasperation, "You've been on TV before Josh, I hardly think this merits a national holiday."

"This is different," Josh whined as he walked into the office and grabbed the TV remote from Toby's desk.

"We're on 'Oprah'," Sam explained, his face unable to contain the sheer delight he obviously felt about being on a women's daytime talk show.

Josh flicked through the stations until he paused and then turned around excitedly, gesturing wildly at the screen, "Look, it's me!"

Toby manoeuvred around his desk and grabbed the remote back whilst Josh and Sam stared at themselves and CJ on TV. The screen flickered back to CNN.

Sam and Josh turned and stared at Toby who was looking increasingly frustrated, "I want to watch CJ."

"But, we're on 'Oprah', Toby!" Sam moaned, trying to get the remote from Toby, who held it above his head, but not quite of reach as Josh intercepted the control box and switched back to the other channel.

"Toby, nothing is happening in that briefing," Josh stated in a matter-of-fact way. "If you want to see CJ, then...look, she's there."

"Sitting next to Oprah," Sam added as he watched CJ talking animatedly to the show's host.

Toby reached past the two younger deputies and pulled the plug out of the wall, the image fading instantly from the TV screen.

"Listen you two, I have a very important job to do, and I don't have time for this bizarre and unfounded obsession that you have about being on TV. On a woman's talk show for heaven's sake. I want to watch the briefing, this is my TV-"

"We-"

"Shut up, Sam." Toby interjected bouncing slightly on the spot as he got more agitated, "You have televisions in your own offices, go watch yourselves on those instead of annoying me with your frankly juvenile enthusiasm for self-publicity."

Josh blinked and looked at Sam. Sam coughed and looked back at Josh who looked down at the carpet and shuffled his feet.

"Anyway," Toby resumed in a more sedate manner as he picked up the Post and sat down on the sofa, "aren't you supposed to be meeting with Senator Gilroy on the Hill about now?"

Josh cleared his throat as he looked at his wristwatch, "Uh- at half ten, yeah."

"So, what are you doing here," Toby asked in a patronizing tone.

Sam backed towards the door, tugging on Josh's sleeve, "We'd better be heading off then, we've got under five."

Toby raised his eyebrows. "Yes," he muttered softly, turning back to the crossword.

As they started to leave the office, Toby turned his attention to the first clue and raised his voice.

"One Down," he called raising his voice, "Film with Bette Midler, seven letters?"

Josh and Sam spun around, "Beaches," they chorused immediately.
They both looked at each other suspiciously. Toby looked at them in an intrigued way.

"That was quite unnerving, you know," Toby muttered, a wry smile playing across his face as the two men left the office, eyeing each other with an air of curiosity.

"That didn't happen, right?" Toby heard Josh mumble to Sam as they entered the adjacent office.

Toby pencilled in the first answer and read the next clue.

"Five letters, middle eastern country....Yemen," Toby muttered under his breath, mentally noting in the future to keep a good novel on standby in his drawer.


***


"Y'know, anytime you want to quicken your pace, it's OK with me," Sam commented, straightening his tie as he and Josh walked up the street to Capitol Hill. "Cos, I don't mind being on time, it's-"

"Sam," Josh said, stopping in front of him, causing his friend to bump into his shoulder.

"Now you've stopped, which is the least effective way, I must say of getting-"

Josh let his shades slid to the end of his nose and looked at Sam, "Do you ever shut up?"

Sam put his hands in his pockets, "I just want to get to a meeting on the Hill on time for once, y'know."

Josh started to walk again, but slower than he was before, "Now, now Sam you sound just like your mother, it's weird how you can do that."

"Just stop dilly-dallying, will you," Sam replied, ignoring Josh completely. "If you were any slower, y'd be a-"

"A what?" Josh asked a smile playing across his lips as he wound up his best friend.

"A...a very slow animal...a snail...or a sloth..." Sam trailed off as he began to hurry along the sidewalk, nearly colliding with every other person coming the opposite way.

"Did ya have a fight with Mallory?" Josh asked as he checked his watch and decided it was best if he did quicken his pace.

"No," Sam looked at Josh in a surprised way. "No...No, why?"

"You're kinda..."

"Kinda what?"

"Tetchy," Josh replied sauntering along head cocked to one side.

"Tetchy?"

"Yah."

"Not me."

"Right."

Sam stopped and grabbed Josh's arm, "I'm not being 'tetchy', I am being perfectly normal, thank you very much. I had lunch with Mallory the other day, it went great I-"

"Now you're doing it," Josh said, cutting in with a small chuckle.

"Doing what?" Sam asked he ducked a man carrying a large plank of wood overhead.

"We stopped," Josh commented, turning away and starting to walk again.

"But it was your fault, 'cause if you hadn't been saying I was tetchy-"

"If you hadn't been telling me off for walking too slowly-"

"If you hadn't been walking slow in the first place-"

"Sam," Josh said, raising his voice above the background noise.

"Yeah?"

"Shut up."

"'Kay," Sam nodded as he glanced at Josh who was happily lapping up the mid-morning sun. "But it's your fault we're late."

Josh looked at his watch, "We've got five minutes left, Mom."

"No we haven't," Sam replied, looking mildly amused.

"Let me guess," Josh moaned.

"Donna's right, your watch does suck," Sam smirked.

Josh jabbed Sam in the arm with his elbow, prompting Sam to jump out of the way and into a lamp post.

"Ouch!"

***

CJ Cregg tapped on Josh's door before letting herself in, "How was the thing?"

"What thing?" Josh asked as he leant back in his chair and started to rummage through his desk drawer for a paperclip.

The West Wing was uncharacteristically slow today, and it seemed that everyone was dropping by each others offices just to pass the time. Josh liked days like this: it gave him more time to irritate Donna.

CJ sighed, "The thing on the Hill that you and Sam just got back from, remember."

"Eh?" Josh replied, too engrossed in the contents of his draw to really pay attention to CJ. On careful examination he could see everything but a paper clip. Clipped newspaper articles were browning in one corner, whilst an old apple shrivelled away in the other one, the void in the middle filled with treasury tags and the empty packets of candy he'd stolen from Donna's secret supply in her filing cabinet.

She walked forward and leant on his desk, staring at him, "Is your mind a sieve, Joshua? How long is it gonna take me to get a simple response out of you? Am I gonna have to hang you by your ears from the ceiling for an hour or something?"

Josh looked up at CJ and shook his head, "Sorry CJ...it's been a long day."

"It's only eleven-thirty," CJ said pointedly as she took her hands of the desk and took a pen from her pocket.

Josh scrunched up his face, "Yeah, I know but an hour on the Hill passes very slowly."

"Shall we try again?" The Press Secretary asked, a fatigued but bemused look on her face.

"Sure," Josh replied, taking a gulp of his lukewarm coffee.

CJ walked out of the room and came back in, her practised question was eloquently delivered, "How was the thing."

"The meeting with Senator Gilroy on the Hill that I went to with Sam went unpredictably well, she is quite a democratic Republican, so much so that we may have persuaded her to join our camp on the education front," Josh replied in a quick, confident way as CJ nodded slowly. Josh fully opened his eyes and felt surprised and quite pleased with himself that he'd got all the words out in the right order.

"That's great," CJ said tossing a piece of paper onto his desk, "though my main reason for being here is purely to warn you about tomorrow, so I don't know why I actually wasted my breath with the first bit... I could have been doing something productive, like finding out who's supplying the paint for the Capitol Building's decoration scheme for Danny Concanon."

Josh looked at her apprehensively and repeated what she said, "Warn me? Warn me about what?"

"Tomorrow," CJ replied being cryptic to alarm him purely for her own amusement.

"Warn me about what?" Josh repeated as he picked up the paper CJ had placed in front of him, not breaking eye contact with her for a moment in case her face would give away a clue of some sort.

"I was surfing the net last night, and I saw that the Josh Lyman Fan Club have got something planned for the dinner tomorrow at the French Embassy," CJ said, motioning to the print-off.

"Whoah," Josh said as he scanned the paper. "They're actually organising a mass gathering outside the Consulate?"

"Yeah," CJ replied with a broad grin as Josh read the article.

Josh looked at CJ suspiciously, "Why were you surfing the Josh Lyman fan sites last night, anyway?"

CJ smirked her tone heavily laced with sarcasm, "I have a deep and dark secret desire for you, Josh. It took a while for me to admit it, but now I have I am free to commune with those who feel the same love for your," CJ grabbed the piece of paper back and placed her glasses on her nose, "'adorable curly hair', 'devastating charm and looks' not to mention your 'pert ass'."

"I can come back later and leave you two kids to play," Sam said, beaming from the doorway where he had been eavesdropping.

"Here," CJ pulled her glasses off and passed Sam the paper. "I can see that my love will remain unrequited, so excuse me, I'm off for a briefing."

"Thanks for the warning, CJ," Josh added, leaning back in his chair.

CJ halted at the door and spun on her heel, "Be afraid, Joshua. Be very afraid."

Sam studied the paper as CJ left and let out small bursts of laughter every so often, "Y'know, these people are indubitably pathetic."

"I don't see you being accosted by your fan club," Josh retorted as he picked up his mug, only to find it empty. "Oh, that's right. That would be because you don't have one."

Sam looked up from reading about Josh's 'toned abs' and responded in mock-seriousness, "I don't like the way you said that, Lyman. You had that mocking 'na-na-na-na na-na' tone in your voice."

"And so I should, I have a fan club, and you don't!" Josh boasted. He then raised his voice and called past Sam, "Donna!"

"She's not a dog, Josh," Sam berated; Josh rolled his eyes at his friend.

"Y'know your problem Sam? You're too gentle, if you want women to come to you, ya gotta wield your power," he lectured. A smile started to cross his mouth, "That's why you haven't got a fan club, and I have."

"DON-NNNNA!" Josh resumed with his yelling, despite Sam's haranguing.

Sam sighed, "Why don't you just move your ass and get whatever you want yourself."

Josh ignored this practical solution, "DONNATELLA MOSS, GET YOUR BUTT IN HERE BEFORE I FIRE IT!"

"It would save you the time, and me the earache, if you-" Sam said with a wince as Josh roared over his mumblings.

Donna appeared in the doorway, looking dishevelled and disgruntled, "You bawled, Joshua?"

"My coffee tastes different," Josh complained.

Donna widened her eyes in disbelief, "I'm sorry, I came away from wrestling with the damned photocopier that never works and you have never replaced for me, responding to a demeaning shriek which you expect me to drop everything for...and then you tell me that your 'coffee tastes different'?"

Josh's expression changed from casually inquisitive to regretful and terrified in a space of a second.

"Suave, very suave-" Sam murmured with a chuckle.

Donna folded her hands in front of her chest and tapped her foot impatiently, "Well?"

Josh gulped and cringed slightly, "I'm extremely sorry Donna for taking you for granted-"

"For calling for you like a dog," Sam suggested, as he let the paper he'd been reading float to Josh's desk.

"...and for taking you away from your photocopier-wrestling, and I promise to sort out a new one in the near future," Josh finished, giving Sam a warning glare for butting in. "And you're not fired."

"Apology accepted," Donna replied, turning on her heel and walking away. A few seconds later she backed up and peered around the doorframe.

"It's decaff."

"What?" Josh asked looking at his mug.

"The coffee, Sam and I switched you to decaffeinated," Donna replied, her lips turning upwards in a secret smile.

Josh choked, "Why did you do that? When did you do that?"

"You're too 'tetchy'."

"A month ago."

"You've been drinking decaff for a month and didn't notice it," Sam smiled. "Well you're dafter than I thought."

Josh threw him a venomous look.

"'Kay, my thing can wait," Sam announced in clipped syllables, quickly dashing out of the office, leaving Josh and Donna to argue about coffee.


***


Toby sighed loudly, the sound punctuating itself loudly in the still atmosphere of Sam's office. It was past ten o'clock and Sam was typing out the 'Banana' speech onto his laptop whilst Toby watched over his shoulder, every so often grunting, moaning, grunting or making another small, annoyed sound.

Sam turned around abruptly and smiled at the Communications Director, "What, Toby?"

"Nothing," Toby replied softly, stroking his beard. "Did I say anything?"

"No," Sam said turning back to the computer screen, his fingers flying across the keys, "but you did huff."

"I don't huff."

"You do."

"I don't huff," Toby huffed, squeezing a stress ball in the palm of his hand.

"You just did it," Sam stated, an amused look crossing his face. "It's colossally ludicrous how you do that thing, where you say aren't doing it, but you are...and I know you are..."

Sam trailed off, unable to follow his own train of thought, as so often happened in these situations. He stopped typing for a second, baffled by the compound adjective he'd just used. Sam mouthed it again, his voice barely audible, "Colossally ludicrous..."

Toby's eyes started to roll, but he contained his exasperation as he put his hand up to his face and instead started to critique Sam's speech, "You're waffling."

"You mumbled, Toby?" Sam quipped, pausing to check some notes.

"I don't like your tone of voice, Seaborn," Toby replied as he watched Sam continue with his writing. "You're still waffling."

Sam paused, decided to take no more notice of Toby and resumed his typing, "I'm reiterating."

"How many times are you going to 'reiterate' the fact that bananas are a fundamental part of our diet?"

"Bananas are a fundamental part of *my* diet and many fourth-graders diets," Sam pointed out.

"The comparison between you and that social group is becoming increasingly apparent every day," Toby murmured, scanning the text on the screen.

"I'm writing for children, Toby, *not* the State of the Union," Sam pointed out.

"I know, but you don't have the authority to speculate on whether the President likes 'nothing more than bananas in yoghurt' for dessert," the elder man argued, quoting from Sam's speech.

"I happen to know that the President does enjoy bananas mixed in yoghurt."

"On whose authority?" Toby inquired, unable to believe the conversation they were having.

Sam leant back and stopped typing for a second, "On the First Lady's authority," he replied triumphantly.

There was a moment of silence between the two speech writers as Toby was either unable to find a suitable counter argument, or was more likely becoming bored with this topic of argument.

Toby huffed.

Sam stopped typing, "You're huffing again Toby, it's disturbing."

"No," Toby said, his voice raised slightly, "what's disturbing is your inability to spell the word 'banana'."

"I can spell it," Sam told him quickly, starting to scan the document for spelling errors before Toby could prove his point.

"Yeah, Sam, you can," Toby said, starting to yell, "in the land where we spell 'banana' with 3 'n's and 4 'a's!"

"Potassium deficiency, that's your problem," Sam decided. "You need to eat more bananas."

Toby grunted, "Will you stop talking about banana's...and what, what in the name of God is this obsessive compulsion you have to use a semi-colon in every sentence.

"If you're gonna nitpick so much, would you rather that I handed it over to you," Sam asked starting to smile at the wound-up Toby.

"I-"

There was a knock at the door; Sam and Toby looked up.

Mallory O'Brian was standing in the doorframe, dressed in a black coat and holding her purse, "Am I interrupting?"

Toby ran a hand over his neck and started towards the door, "Well, I think I'm going to leave you to it, Sam. The amount of times you've quoted Pokemon is, quite frankly, painful."

The Director of Communications strode out of his deputy's office and into his own. Within seconds Mallory and Sam could hear the incessant 'thump-thump' of rubber balls hitting the wall.

Sam took of his glasses and stood up, straightening his back, "Hey, Mallory."

Mallory smiled at him and pointed to where the sound was coming from, "Does he ever, y'know, go home?"

Sam smiled back and pressed the save button on the document he had open, "We've yet to determine whether Toby *has* a home."

She walked over to his desk and leant against it, "Thanks for lunch the other day."

"My pleasure," Sam replied, shutting his lap top and turning off his desk lamp.

Mallory watched him, "So you're actually getting off work before midnight today?"

Sam nodded, "I was only hanging around cos I usually have to wait till Toby goes."

"Ah."

He raised his voice and called through to the next room, "Toby can I go now?"

"Have you finished the speech?" Toby asked ('thud-thud').

"Yeah," Sam lied, he was going to finish it off on the way into work tomorrow, if he had a chance.

There was a deafening silence, then Toby's voice range through the quiet.

"Don't lie to me Sam. Just because you've had your day of jubilee it does not mean that you can be complacent."

Rolling his eyes, Sam called back, "It's an elementary school talk about bananas, Toby. I'm gonna do it, it's gonna be on your desk by five thirty tomorrow morning, and its gonna be the best speech you'll ever see on the subject."

The silence reappeared.

Sam grinned at Mallory and whispered, "I'll take that as a yes."

"So," Mallory announced as Sam pulled on his jacket. "How does Chinese food sound?"

"Sounds good to someone who hasn't had lunch," Sam replied truthfully, picking up his briefcase and putting his laptop in it. "So is this a date?"

"I guess," she replied with a smile. "Except at the end of it there is the guarantee that there will be no-"

"Sex for me?" Sam finished with a grin as she nodded. "Well, I must say that your offer of Chinese food and no sex sounds better than the whole Chinese opera and no sex thing."

"So?"

"I accept."

"Great," Mallory grabbed his hand and led him out the door. "Let's get going before Toby changes his mind."

Sam flicked off the light switch and stumbled along as Mallory pulled him past Toby's office quickly and continued down the corridor into Josh's bullpen.

"Mallory," Sam rounded a corner, "slow down or the Secret Service'll think you're kidnapping me."

"Sorry," Mallory laughed, slowing down a bit. "I just don't want my father to see us."

Sam stopped and looked at her in inquisitively, "Mallory, why does he have a problem with me...apart from the obvious reason that I hit on your Mom at that thing once."

Mallory slung her bag over her shoulder and linked arms with Sam, "It's not you he has a problem with, he just has an issue with me dating guys in particular."

"Mallory, you've been *married* before," Sam commented, walking past Josh's office.

She sighed, "Yeah, but to my Dad, I'm still his little girl."

"Where do you two think you're going?"

Sam and Mallory stopped in their tracks and turned to see Josh leaning against Donna's filing cabinet, a bag full of candy in his hand.

They rolled their eyes in relief. Sam patted his chest, "Josh, see this...keep doing that to me, and one day -poof- no one to pick you up when your delicate system gets disrupted."

Josh smiled, "Ahkay. Where are you two off too then?"

"My apartment," Mallory replied.

"Her place." Sam nodded and then a look of shock crossed his face. He looked at Mallory, his cheeks flushed, "Why your place?"

"Too late for the restaurant."

"OK," Sam replied looking mildly pleased. "Your place, sure."

"Let's go," Mallory said, turning on her heel.

Sam took a breath and looked back at Josh, "What'cha doing with Donna's candy, Joshua?"

Josh raised his eyebrows and chuckled, "Oh-oh...yes, it's payback time for the decaff coffee. And don't you think that you're immune to my wrath either Samuel Seaborn."

"I was hoping-"

Mallory tugged on his sleeve, her eyes wide, "Sam! My Dad could come around that corner any moment."

Josh's eyes lit up as an plan formed itself in his mind. He watched with an evil look in his eyes as he sat down in Donna's chair, as Mallory O'Brian and Sam Seaborn walked down the corridor arms entwined.

Josh munched thoughtfully on a now open packet of Oreo's as he sighed contentedly and leaned backwards into the swivel chair.

***

"Nice apartment, Mallory," Sam commented, glancing around her Georgetown home. It was decorated tastefully, not too many knick-knacks, nice clean lines, a few plants and good quality furniture.

Mallory opened a drawer in a desk that stood by the door, laden with essays on global warming that she had marked ready for class the next day.

She pointed at the drawer, "Pager, cell phone."

Sam's eyebrows shot up, "Mal, I-"

Mallory sighed and put a hand on her hip, "Am I going to have the same argument with you that I have with Dad every time he comes over? Come on, Sam. It's a house rule."

"You taking control?" Sam asked, reluctantly fishing his cell phone from his jacket pocket and then unclipping the pager from his hip.

She smiled wryly, "Yeah, you weren't doing a good job of it after you 'took over', so I'm gonna man the helm for a while. Take your shoes off and relax."

Sam looked longingly at his pager as it and the cell phone were consumed by the desk drawer.

Kicking his shoes of he sighed, "God forbid there's a national emergency tonight."

Mallory slipped out of her coat and hung it on the rack by the door, "Relax, Sam. Nothing's gonna happen that won't wait for a while."

"Wanna bet?" Sam replied, then one glance at Mallory's less than pleased face made him drop that train of thought completely. She must have had this discussion with her father time and time again.

"Drop it, Skipper," Mallory said threateningly, moving towards the kitchen. It was when they were walking into the room that Sam first caught sight of what she was wearing.

"Uh, Mallory, now I feel a bit underdressed," he said motioning towards her very formal black cocktail dress which was strappy on the shoulders and finished just below the knee.

Mallory opened the refrigerator and turned back to Sam who was leaning on the counter, "Well I was thinking of going with you to that new Italian place downtown, but I waited and waited and when you and Toby finally finished quarrelling about imagery, Pokemon and who huffs and who doesn't huff it was too late to get into a restaurant who'd take our orders. I for one, don't really want to eat at McDonald's. So, my apartment it is."

Mallory poured two glasses of white wine and handed one to Sam before she turned on the stove and got out a wok.

"Were you waiting for long?"

"About five minutes, but it seems like a long time when you're wondering if your father's gonna pop out from behind the filing cabinets."

"You should have said, I'd have got rid of Toby and his little sighs a lot earlier," Sam said, joining her at the stove where she was adding some vegetables to the chicken she had just fried in the wok.

"The rice is over there, could you put some in a pan with water and start to cook it?" Mallory motioned across the counter. Sam nodded and started to pour the rice and then the water.

"I should probably warn you, I'm inept in the kitchen," Sam added opening the cupboard next to him and pulling out a pan lid after a little direction and fumbling.

"I guessed," Mallory replied with a small smile. "You've put enough rice in there to feed about five people."

Sam went red, "I'm sorry, I- Ow!"

Mallory stifled a giggle, "Mind that cupboard door, Sam."

He rubbed his head and winced, "Too late."

They watched the food cooked for a while, a familiar silence filling the room, only to be broken every so often by the sound of the flames licking the steel of the pans. Minutes passed while they leaned back against the counter, sipping their drinks.

"You-"

"I-"

Sam waved his hand, "You first."

Mallory blushed and lowered her head, "I was going to say that I thought your suit was nice."

Sam looked pleasantly surprised, "Coincidently, I think you look absolutely stunning tonight, Ms O'Brian. And I was going to say that before you complemented me on my awfully rumpled suit. I must add, if I'd known that girls cooked in evening dresses then I would have taken up Home Ed. in high school."

"Thank you, Sam," Mallory replied he cheeks glowing a deeper shade of red, as she added some ginger and coconut milk to the stir fry. "But I have to say that I never wore dresses in Home. Ed."

She pulled some plates out of the top cupboard, "Well that's shattered a nice image in my mind, thank you very much."

"I was very much a jeans and sweater gal in high school, I didn't go in for the ra-ra skirts and perms," Mallory added, dishing up the food.

"Another image, you in a ra-ra skirt with pom-poms and a perm, lost forever," Sam mourned, straining the rice over the sink.

Mallory held a spoon out in front of her with a grin and pointed it at him menacingly, "Watch it, Seaborn, I thought you were a nice guy."

Sam spooned the rice onto the plate, his tone defensive, "I am a nice guy. Nice guys give goldfishes to girls you know, would you like a gold fish? I could get you one."

Mallory raised an eyebrow and got out two sets of chopsticks, handing one pair to Sam. She looked at him like he had become unhinged.

"Goldfish?"

Sam nodded, picking up his plate and following her into the living room, "Yeah, Danny Concanon got one for CJ, she loved it...he's a nice guy, that's how I know that nice guys give girls goldfish-"

Mallory sat down on the sofa and patted the place next to her, "Shut up and sit down, Skipper."

"'Kay," Sam said sitting down next to Mallory, the cream coloured leather squeaking slightly.

Mallory picked up the remote and switched on the TV, "I taped Oprah today, did you get a chance to see it?"

"No, Toby wouldn't let us," Sam replied, trying the stir fry. "This stuff's good, Mal."

"Mom's recipe," she replied, digging in herself after she started the VCR.

Sam almost choked, "Your Mom hates me."

Mallory shook her head, "No, she doesn't hate you. She was very flattered when you tried to hit on her at that 'do."

Though she thought it impossible, Sam turned even redder. He took a long sip of his wine, "I wasn't hitting on her, your father misinterpreted. I was merely complimenting your mother on her dress."

"Do you compliment all women on their dresses, or just the McGarry ladies?" Mallory asked, giving him a crooked smile.

"Do you enjoy watching me squirm?"

"Kinda," she answered, pointing to the TV. "Look at Josh, he's walking onto that set like he's some ballet dancer...chest puffed out, chin up. You on the other hand..."

Sam looked up and examined himself on the monitor, "Me what?"

Mallory cocked her head and chewed thoughtfully on a piece of chicken looking at Sam shaking Oprah Winfrey's hand, "You carry off the pretence of confidence very effectively."

"Why, thank you Mallory," Sam said with a small laugh as he continued with eating his meal.

"Ah, this is how I like my evenings," Mallory sighed, sipping her wine as on TV Josh launched into a well rehearsed résumé of his life achievements.

"What," Sam asked, munching on some bean sprouts. "Chinese, Oprah and no sex?"

Mallory smirked, "I saw what you did there."

Sam nodded, "Well next time maybe we could do Chinese au pairs and no sex."

Mallory stopped, a piece of chicken halfway to her mouth, and looked at him, "That made no sense, whatsoever."

He poked at a carrot and rested his head on one side, "At the time I thought of it, it appeared quite funny...but once it came out of my mouth-"

Sam glanced over at Mallory who was giving him an amused smile. He reciprocated with a grin, "Do you want me to shut up?"

Mallory rubbed his arm, "Nah. I like the way you dig yourself these holes."

***

"Margaret!"

The red-haired assistant appeared in the Chief of Staff's office, notebook and pen in hand, "Yes?"

"Where's Sam right now?" Leo McGarry asked, looking over the top of his rimless spectacles.

"Uh, I don't know," Margaret replied looking flustered, "but I could find him for you."

Leo glanced at the bill he was looking over and sighed, "I tried his phone and pager, no answer. He's not in his office. I need to review these documents with Sam. Where the hell is he?"

Margaret looked bewildered, "Uh, am I *supposed* to know? Is this a trick question or something 'cause-"

Leo stared at her, "G'night, Margaret."

His assistant looked mortified, "Are you firing me?"

"No," Leo replied, sighing loudly. "What the hell gave you that idea?"

Margaret pushed her hair back behind her ear, "I didn't know where Sam was?"

"No one knows where Sam was half the time, Margaret," Leo replied, picking up his coffee mug.

"Mind that, it could be decaff," a voice called from the corridor.

"Josh?"

Josh stepped into the office and pointed at the mug, his voice lowered in a conspiratorial hush, "Donna and Sam are on this health kick, they switched me to decaff a month ago and didn't tell me."

Leo feigned horror, "God knows we all need caffeine around here. For heavens sake, Josh, you wouldn't be satisfied with the amount of caffeine in your system unless you were taking it intravenously."

His deputy rolled his eyes, "I know where Sam is."

"Where?" Leo inquired absentmindedly as he turned back to the folder on his desk.

"Oh, he left about an hour ago," Josh sighed, plopping himself down on the sofa and closing his eyes. "With Mallory."

Josh stretched his arms above his head opened one eye to see the reaction.

"OK," Leo replied, not at first taking it in. He paused a moment later and jumped up from his seat. "He left with Mallory?"

"Yeah."

"*My* Mallory," Leo asked, his anger building.

"Yeah."

"My *daughter* Mallory left with Sam, the Sam who slept with a call girl."

Josh watched the scenario with profound happiness, "Yes again." A sigh of contentment was emitted from Josh's mouth.

Leo went over to his coat stand and pulled on his jacket, "Where did they go?"

"Said something about restaurants," Josh replied, his scheme coming into play beautifully, "but then they both decided on her apartment."

Leo froze, "Her *apartment*!"

"Yeah," Josh answered, imagining the rough ride Sam was in for. "She was looking really nice too, had this beautiful chiffony black dress on. Hair done, make-up all so."

There was a visible snap as Leo's face crunched up, "The backless one she wore to the pre-inauguration ball?"

"That's the one," Josh said, snapping his fingers and clapping his hand on his knee as he hid his ecstatic grin.

"Alright, I'm outta here," Leo yelled, heading for the door. "Margaret, tell the President I'll be out for a half hour while I kill Sam and possibly my idiotic daughter too."

"You still driving that wedge in?" Margaret asked, worry etched across her face.

Leo walked out the door and called back, "I won't rest till there's a brick wall separating those two, preferably a whole state, but a brick wall will do."

Margaret raised her eyebrows and scurried into the next room, muttering, "Poor Sam."

Josh puffed out his chest and did a little victory dance before he walked out the door to his office, rubbing his hands together.

"This is the price you pay for messing with my caffeine intake, buddy."

***

"Madam, I've got a neighbor whose friend is dead, whose husband is dead, whose mother is dead, kids are dead! Kids are dead!"

The President's voice came over loud and clear on the TV, as Sam and Mallory placed their empty plates on the coffee table and leant back into the sofa, wine glasses in hand.

"Nice lines, Mr. Seaborn," Mallory commented as she picked up the plates, moved over to the kitchen and deposited them in the dishwasher. "Kids are dead! Kids are dead!"

Sam sighed and raised his eyebrows, "If Toby was here, he'd say 'two and a half paragraphs, thirty-seven pages'."

"Ice cream, okay?" Mallory asked after laughing at his quip.

"Sure."

"You know, I had a civil procedure professor who said once...he said, 'When the law is on your side, argue the law; and when the facts are on your side, argue the facts'," the President proclaimed from the TV set.

There was a grunt as she tried to serve up the ice cream, "It's rock hard, we'll have it a bit later with coffee."

"Great," Sam said, folding his arms. "I love coffee, I love ice-cream. Coffee with ice-cream sounds like heaven."

"Good." Mallory returned a few seconds later and sat back down next to Sam, "So Josh's fan club were out en masse that night I hear."

"Yeah, only the other week he got sent a box of cookies from some woman who thought he was looking too thin when she saw him on TV doing that press briefing when CJ had the root canal thing done."

"The last thing Josh needs are women like that to boost his overinflated ego," Mallory laughed and leant her head back on Sam's shoulder. Sam moved his arm around her shoulders and drew her a little nearer after being offered no resistance.

The speech continued on TV, "'When you don't have the law on your side, when you don't have the facts on your side, bang your fist on the defense table as loud as you can.' Well, we've got the law on our side now, and we've got the facts on our side now...Well, we're not listening any more. We're not having that any more. We're gonna win on Wednesday. We're gonna win on Wednesday!"

"How can I tell you were a lawyer?" Mallory murmured as she listened to the speech.

Sam smiled, "I hope Toby was watching this, I can just imagine him jumping up and down yelling 'two and a half paragraphs, thirty-seven pages' at the TV."

The lights in the studio rose and Oprah made some remark about how incredible the State of the Union address was as well, and paid Sam a compliment which made him blush. Josh shifted in his seat and made some wise-crack that made the audience erupt into laughter. CJ rolled her eyes and made some derogatory comment about Josh's ego which was rewarded with an even bigger bout of laughter.

"Take your jacket off, Sam," Mallory mumbled as she pushed it off his shoulders. "You're making me feel nervous."

"By wearing my jacket?" Sam asked, pulling the garment off and tossing it on to the chair next to them.

"Yeah, you're still in work-mode," Mallory complained pulling on his tie until it came loose. "Don't you ever relax?"

Sam gulped as Mallory's fingers came to rest on his chest after undoing the top two buttons of his shirt and then putting her head back against his shoulder. Sam rested his chin on the crown of her head, "Yes, but rarely and not for long enough."

On TV, Josh was gesturing wildly with his hands whilst Sam every so often chipped in with something to say. CJ at one point interjected with a joke sending bursts of laughter into Mallory's apartment.

"Y'know that time you- uh, after you saw the paper I wrote for your father and you, uh-" Sam mumbled into her hair.

"Kissed you?" Mallory asked, smiling at his nervousness.

"Yeah, that would be the thing," Sam replied quickly.

"What about it?" Mallory played with a button on his shirt.

Sam ran his free hand through his hair, "Did you do that because of the thing I wrote or was it because you liked me?"

Mallory sighed, "Guess you'll never know, Skipper."

"Now *that* is frustrating. Now I don't know if I have to show off the little power I have to get your attention or-"

"You should know, Sam, that men with power don't turn me on," Mallory said, kicking off her shoes and drawing them up onto the sofa.

"Damn, that was what I was relying on to get you to like me," Sam chuckled softly.

Mallory smiled, "I already like you, Sam."

"So why have you been giving me a hard time," Sam asked, puzzlement etched across his face.

She swatted his arm playfully, "This is me giving you an *easy* time, especially after all the dumb stuff you've done."

"Wow, I certainly don't want to be in *your* dog house," Sam commented earning another swipe from Mallory.

"Shut up Sam," Mallory replied and without warning she tipped her head up and kissed him softly.

She drew away after a moment and observed the look of shock and happiness on Sam's face, "'Kay...so you're taking control?"

Mallory picked up his free hand and placed it on her waist, "Sure, unless you want to-"

Sam pressed his lips against hers and pulled Mallory's body against his firmly, their kiss deepening from soft and innocent to passionate and insatiable over the minutes. Eventually, Mallory had slid into Sam's lap and her fingers were tangled in his hair, as his played across her lower back. Mallory moved her lips from Sam's mouth and trailed fervent kisses down his jawline to his neck as Sam dipped her backwards so they reclined on the sofa. They lay next to each other for minutes, their bodies pressed together and hands roaming over each other's clothing until Mallory suddenly moved to wrap her leg around Sam's. Sam lost his balance from on top of her and fell off the sofa onto the floor dragging Mallory with him.

"Ow," Sam winced as Mallory fell directly on top of him with a fair amount of velocity. Both of them were breathing heavily and their faces were flushed.

Mallory started to laugh, "You work in the White House, appear all suave, but you're as klutzy as they come. You were the kid at school who always had grazed knees, weren't you Sam?"

"That's not fair," Sam retorted as he kissed Mallory's throat ardently, "you're the one that moved."

"Well I didn't count on you tipping us off the couch," Mallory admitted, enjoying the attention that was being paid to her neck. "That's something I'd put past even you!"

"You underestimate me," Sam said looking hurt as he kissed her softly on the lips sending a shiver down her back.

"No," Mallory said seductively, twiddling one of his shirt buttons. "Your reaction to that kiss was well above expectations."

"Really?" Sam said looking immensely pleased.

Mallory's mouth connected with his again and they became consumed by another beguiling kiss. Reluctantly she broke away, "And I have very high expectations...keep that in mind, Skipper."

With a wink, Mallory rolled off Sam and picked herself up from the ground as he sat up and got to his feet. He pulled her back to him and smiled at her, "What are you suggesting?"

"Figure it out yourself," Mallory replied coyly, starting to move.

"Where're you going, Mal?"

Mallory put her arms around Sam's torso and guided him to the kitchen, "Ice cream's melting."

"Hmm," Sam replied as Mallory untucked his shirt and ran a hand up his back, without warning pinning him against the refrigerator and kissing him slowly and sensuously. A minute or so later they broke apart and turned their thoughts back to ice-cream.

"By the way, I've decided to take control again. Every time you do, we end up fighting or falling off sofas," Mallory breathed as they got to the counter.

"I don't mind falling off sofas as long as you land on top of me," Sam murmured as Mallory released him from her arms and opened a drawer, not breaking eye contact with him.

Mallory and Sam's eyes communicated their mutual desire as she took a spoon and scooped up some ice-cream, "You make clumsiness sound alluring."

Sam leaned forward and kissed her tenderly on the collarbone, "I was a lawyer, they paid to make things appear to be the opposite to what they were."

"Here," Mallory handed him the spoon. "Do what we girls do and dig in."

She slowly put her hand backwards and clutched onto the coffee jug that sat on the counter. There was a sharp knock on the door, impatient and loud. The intimate atmosphere was disrupted as Sam and Mallory were dragged back into the here and now.

Mallory sighed, "That'll be my landlady, her cat gets lost frequently and I think she believes that I hide the damn thing, just for the hell of it."

"I'll get it," Sam offered moving out of the kitchen, but not before he had sucumbed to another one of Mallory's heady kisses.

"Be quick," she called after him around a mouthful of chocolate ice-cream.

With a contented sigh, Mallory leant back against the counter and fluffed up her hair before sticking her spoon into the ice cream container and taking another mouthful.

***

"What the hell is taking so long?" Leo muttered angrily to himself, not wanting to think of the various and innumerable reasons for why Mallory wasn't answering the door.

He rapped on the panelled door again and started as the door opened at exactly the same moment, his eyes widened in shock nearly as much as the person who answered the door.

"Sam!" Leo fumed as the door opened to show his Deputy Director of Communications standing in the doorway with tousled hair, his shirt hanging out and half undone with a smear of deep red lipstick on his neck.

"Leo?!" Sam was white with shock; his skin visibly blanching in a matter of seconds. "I...I...we were..." Sam tried to regain his composure as Leo edged forwards into the hallway, "What are you doing here, anyway?"

Leo rolled his eyes, his face turning red, "This is *my* daughter's apartment, what I'd like to know is what *you* are doing here."

Sam waved his arms around as he tried to explain, "Mallory and I had dinner, and...and we watched Oprah on the couch and we, we're having-"

"You're on my list," Leo hissed through his teeth, pointing at Sam.

Sam looked confused. "I was already on your list," he pointed out.

"Right," Leo nodded, "now you're on it twice, which is frankly not a good place to be with me."

Mallory sauntered into the hallway from the kitchen and leant against the doorframe, beckoning Sam with her index finger, her tone husky and enticing, "C'mere Skipper and get some dessert."

Leo's eyebrows shot up as he saw his daughter in the revealing dress Josh said she'd left the White House in, its straps had fallen from her shoulders and her hair was as unruly as Sam's, "Mallory!"

"Dad?!" Mallory exclaimed turning as red as Sam when she saw her father in the hallway, partially hidden by a potted plant. She pulled the dress's straps onto her shoulders and tried to hide the shock and astonishment that she felt from crossing her face.

"What's going on?" Leo demanded staring at Mallory, then to Sam who was looking at his feet, then back to Mallory whose freshly lipsticked mouth was hanging open in annoyance.

Mallory walked over to her father and stood next to Sam who was profusely apologising for whatever he had done that had caused Leo grievance over the years they'd worked together, "It's okay, Sam, you don't have to explain anything. You, Dad, are the one who needs to do the explaining."

Leo for the first time felt awkward, and was unable to think of what he was going to say to his daughter. Sam had moved away from the two McGarrys and was pulling on his jacket and knotting his tie loosely around his neck.

"I," Leo started, gaining more assurance as he thought through what he was going to say, "What were you two doing, I thought you hated him."

Mallory leant on the desk she was standing next to, "I don't believe it. I really don't. Do you think I'm still *seven* or something? I don't have a problem with Sam, you shouldn't either. He's a nice guy, he's a bright guy, he may be clumsy but I can tell you that he's a fantastic person and we're having the greatest sex-"

"You two are sleeping-...you're what?" Leo thundered.

Sam looked at her in amazement, taking a few seconds to realise that Mallory was teasing Leo.

Mallory tried to keep a grin from reaching her lips as she gave her father the berating that he deserved, "Sex, Dad. Hot sex, kinky sex and a lot of it may I add. So stop trying to push us apart, because it is not working at all, in fact just leave so Sam and I can get back to it."

Sam who was going for his pager and cell phone in the drawer next to which Mallory was standing smiled as Mallory continued to wind up her father.

"Capiche, Dad?" Mallory added, as she glanced up and saw Sam moving towards the open door. "Hey, where d'you think you're going, Mister? I'm not finished with you yet."

Sam straightened his tie and stepped out of the door, "It's late, and you and your Dad need to sort things out, I'll call you Mallory. I had a great time. Thanks."

Mallory looked at her father with her hands on her hips, "Now look what you've done."

"Mallory, I'm sorry," Leo apologised looking embarrassed. "I don't know what I was thinking, I made presumptions...I just love you very much and I don't want anything to happen to you."

She sighed, "Dad, what the hell is Sam going to do that'll hurt me."

"Break your heart," Leo said softly.

Mallory smiled wryly, "If there's going to be any heartbreaking, you can be sure that I'll be the one doing it and not Sam."

Leo smiled, "I'm sorry."

Mallory smiled back, "Let me go drag Sam back in here and let's have coffee and ice-cream."

"I thought you two were gonna-" Leo started, hanging his head in embarrassment.

"Over twenty years and you don't even know when I'm yanking your chain," Mallory laughed shaking her head. "Should've seen the look on your face."

Leo smiled at her, "That was not a nice trick to play on your father...coffee and ice-cream sounds like heaven to me, by the way."

"Oh God, you're just like him," Mallory groaned as she walked out the door, dipping to pick up something from the floor.

"Like who?" Leo asked his pager beeping.

"Like Sam, and don't you dare answer that page," Mallory called back. "Put it in the drawer."

Leo glanced at the pager in defiance.

"NOW!" Mallory yelled from the corridor.

"Who put eyes in the back of her head?" Leo grunted as he slammed the desk drawer shut.


***


Sam padded down the steps outside Mallory's apartment building, the doorman giving him a strange look. He merely smiled and braved the chill night air of Washington DC, thoroughly pleased with the night's events.

"Hey, Cinderella!" He turned to find Mallory rushing towards him, her hands carrying his black leather shoes. "Planning on walking all the way home, barefoot."

Sam grinned sheepishly first looking down to his socks then taking the proffered shoes and slipping them on to his feet, "I thought I better not stick around, I'm on your father's list twice now."

Mallory winced and slid her arms around his waist, "Not a good place to be. Luckily for you, he's on *my* list which means that he has to start being a bit nicer to you."

"You didn't make matters any better by telling him about all the sordid sex we're apparently, and without my knowledge, having on an hourly basis," Sam smirked, pushing her hair away from her face.

"I like to wind him up," Mallory shrugged placing Sam's hands on her small of her back as she pushed him up against the brick wall of her apartment building. Mallory's mouth hovered over Sam's, her breath coming warm and fast against his lips.

"You like to wind me up too," Sam replied, his voice deep and husky as she continued to tease him by brushing her lips against his jaw. "Are you trying to seduce me, Ms O'Brian?"

Mallory laughed and pressed her hips to Sam's, pinning him against the wall, "I'm just taking control, Sam."

"You have specifically stated that this was a 'no sex' date, yet you are blatantly enticing and can't seem to keep your hands off me. What is a guy like me to think," Sam asked as Mallory's hand crept around his neck, pulling his lips down to hers for a unhurried and lengthy kiss.

She broke away hesitantly and placed her lips next to his ear, "Tomorrow, 10pm my place...we'll do Chinese food, watch the end of Oprah and..."

"And what?" Sam asked, kissing her at the base of her throat.

Mallory didn't reply, she just gave him a coquettish smile and grabbed his wrist, leading him back into the apartment building.

"Tease!" Sam accused as she led him into the elevator.

Mallory grinned, grabbing his tie and pulling his body close to hers as the doors shut, "Guilty as charged, Mr. Seaborn. Now come here and give me my just desserts."


***

Josh swung his legs, perched on Ginger's desk as he waited impatiently in the Communications bullpen for Sam to return to his office.

"My aren't we looking happy today," Toby commented, throwing Josh a glance as he picked up some files from Bonnie's desk. "Get some more members recruited to the Josh Lyman Fan Club after yesterday's Oprah, did we?"

"Oh something, way, way more satisfying," Josh replied cryptically as he puffed out his chest with a contented sigh. "This, today, is my all-round best day ever."

"Wow, you just sounded like a little child, it's amazing how you do that," Toby said, he giving Ginger a folder as she entered the bullpen. "You're on her desk."

Josh looked at Toby questioningly.

"Get off Ginger's desk," Toby mumbled, staring him directly in the eye. "Now."

The Deputy Chief of Staff jumped off the desk and gave Ginger a breezy smile, "G'Morning, Ginger."

Ginger looked at Josh strangely, "Are you on the same stuff that Leo's been smoking?"

"What?" Josh asked, eyebrows raised.

"You're nearly as chipper as Leo is, he's being less like a pain in the ass, and more like a nice guy today," Ginger explained, sitting down to her computer. "Margaret even said he was going to look into the whole muffin thing, did you know that the calorie count-"

Josh held up a hand to silence her, "Wait a minute. This is *Leo* we're talking about, and not some pod person that has been doing a good, or as it sounds, heinously *bad* impersonation of Leo?"

"Yeah," Ginger said, flicking her hair off her face and squinting at him. "What's the matter, Josh?"

"Something weird is afoot in the House that is White, and I intend to get to the bottom of it," Josh mumbled as the door to the bullpen burst open to reveal an ecstatically happy Sam Seaborn.

"Good morning all," Sam called as he waltzed through the bullpen, depositing a white card box on Cathy's desk. "G'morning Ginger, Bonnie...have a doughnut, please. Cathy, feel free to steal mine anytime you want."

Josh raised his eyebrows again as he watched Sam virtually skip into his office, a definite spring in his step. "Does he do this often?"

Ginger shook her head, "Only really on days of jubilee."

Cathy came over and joined the two, taking around a mouthful of Sam's doughnut, "He left with Mallory last night, maybe they-" she wiggled her eyebrows.

"Don't be ridiculous," Josh laughed nervously. "That's impossible."

Bonnie leant across Ginger's desk and offered her a doughnut, "Josh, Sam's not that bad on the eyes, he works out which is more than I can say for you," she smiled, patting Josh's stomach.

Ginger sighed and looked through the glass at Sam who was talking energetically on the phone, "I think it's sweet, they make a cute pair."

"You don't understand," Josh whined, as he waved his arms in frustration. "This is *impossible*, he felt the wrath of Josh, for Christ's sake."

The three assistants stopped chewing on their doughnuts and stared at Josh, feebly he turned around to see Toby who had spat out his coffee with a silent laugh, "Someone lock Josh up in a padded room before he does some damage to himself."

Josh gritted his teeth together and strode away from Bonnie, Ginger and Cathy, heading for Sam's office.

Once inside he shut the door and threw himself down into a chair, "Sam."

Sam, who was still on the phone, held up a finger. "Yeah, your place 10pm, I didn't forget," Sam blushed and turned away from Josh dropping the pitch and volume of his voice, "really...wow, I-...so this is definitely...see you then, love you too."

He placed the receiver into the cradle, a distant look on his face, "So how was last night?"

"Fantastic," Sam said, grinning at his friend.

"From the look on your face, it looks like someone got lucky," Josh said, fishing for information whilst trying his best to look disinterested.

Sam gave Josh a look, "It was a specified no-sex date, Josh."

Josh laughed, "You 'specify' 'no sex' and 'yes sex' before dates?"

"No," Sam replied. "Mallory does, she takes control." He grinned. "Anyway, the last time I took control we ended up having a fight, or falling off a couch, so it's best that she does."

"Fell off a couch?"

Sam went red, "Don't ask how that happened."

"I won't." Josh straightened up, "Anyway, what about Leo? Is he, y'know, cool with it?"

"Nice try Josh," Sam smirked knowingly. "I may be into Mallory's good books, but I got put on Leo's list...twice."

"Ouch."

"Yeah, but after coffee, ice-cream and a few hands of poker which Mallory and I let Leo win all is right in the world," Sam assured Josh with a triumphant smile. "So your scheme failed to work."

"I had no such scheme," Josh protested, a note of disappointment evident in his voice.

"Hey Sam," Josh turned and saw Donna at the door, cue cards in hand. "You have a meeting with the Minister for Indian Affairs at nine in the Mural Room-"

"That's the one with the murals on the wall, right?" Sam checked.

"Right," Donna nodded. "And here's your cue cards for the banana speech."

Josh sat, his mouth gaping as Sam looked over the mountain of cards that Donna passed him, "They're great, thanks Donna."

Donna smiled, "Any time. Want some coffee, Sam?"

"Hey!" Josh interjected, jumping from his seat and staring at the two of them. "Coffee, cue cards...arranging Sam's appointments...what they hell are you doing Donnatella?"

Donna smirked at Josh and stuck her nose into the air, "If you're not going to respect me, and treat me as you equal and pay attention to my suggestions then I'm going where I'm needed. You are getting Cathy, which should be an education, and from know on, I'm Sam's assistant."

Josh smiled, "I see. So it doesn't matter to anyone that I am the Deputy Chief of Staff and I can fire the two of you if I want."

"Black mail doesn't work for me," Sam replied. "Except if you've got football tickets in your pocket then maybe I can-"

"Sam!" Donna glared.

"Sorry," Sam whispered.

"You two," Josh moaned, stamping his foot, "this isn't fair. I want my Donna back!"

Donna shook her head, heading out the door, "I'll reconsider in a week, but until then, so long, farewell, auf weidersehen, adieu. Dospedagna, Joshua."

"Well, I hope you two decaff-loving, controlling, trivia freaks are happy together," Josh said, kicking the doorframe in annoyance as he stormed out of Sam's office.

Sam chuckled, "Revenge is sweet, my friend, and a dish best served in the work place."

Josh raised a finger and pointed it straight at Sam, "Believe you me, Samuel, you haven't seen the worst of my wrath yet."

"Talk to you later," Sam called as Josh stormed off in the wrong direction.

He quickly turned in his tracks and doubled back towards his bullpen, "I meant to do that."

Sam nodded and hung up his jacket, picking up Donna's cue cards and pitching them into his desk drawer, "Helpful, she may be, but concise she is not."

***

THE END

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