a/n: I'm very excited about this. This is my very first West Wing fanfic (actually, my first fanfic outside of House). This is my all time favorite show and I don't know why I haven't been inspired to write fics for it, but this scene popped into my head recently so I thought I would try. This is a simple oneshot involving a simple conversation, but I hope it shows the two characters, Sam and Santos, bonding a little. At least that is the goal.
He managed to make it to the second day in office. The first day involved getting familiar, moving in the new furniture, accepting congratulations from every elected official and diplomat that figured out early that they needed to be a friend, and just figuring out where the bathroom was. Today, the real governing began.
First thing Ronna did was deliver the schedule. For a schedule it seemed thick like a great fiction novel, but read like a government publication that told the reader absolutely nothing about the subject matter.
"Everything is in five minute intervals." Santos complained as he briefly leafed through overwhelming content of the multiple pages.
"Yes, and if you don't stick to the schedule, any hopes of sleep or quiet time with your family will be non-existent until at least Thursday."
"No wonder Bartlett looked like hell after he left. He probably didn't get any sleep for eight years. Why did I run for this office?"
Ronna was unfazed. "Your first appointment is with the Pakistani Ambassador. Sam's outside, can I send him in?'
"So he gets to be lackey today?"
"He's lackey everyday. It's his job." Ronna left and let Sam enter.
"You are the Deputy White House Chief of Staff in charge of strategic planning for this office, a chief advisor on domestic policy, not the mention coordinator for the ungodly amount of staff that work under you. Don't you have better things to do than to sit through this insanity known as my revolving door?"
"Staffing the President is of utmost importance. This will just be at first. I need to get familiar. We'll work out a system later with others. Ready to get started?"
"Does my answer really matter? We have to get started. I like sleep."
"Send the demographics to Josh, and I'll see what he recommends."
"Thank you Mr. President."
As everyone quickly left the office, Santos patiently waited for the next group to file in. He turned to Sam. "That took three minutes. I think I'm getting pretty good at this." Sam gave him an amused smile that was barely noticeable behind those brainy and proficient looking wire rimmed glasses that hung on his face.
After a half a minute, there was no activity. Santos anxiously wanted to keep everything moving. "Ronna!" He shouted. He could have used the intercom, but shouting was so much faster. Josh told him that system always worked for his predecessor, so why break tradition?
"Yes Mr. President?" She asked quickly entering.
"Come, keep it moving. Who's next?"
"I had to reschedule the Attorney General. You've got a free five minutes."
"I've got five minutes?" For all that had been thrown at him, he didn't know how to handle a break in the routine.
"I'll let you know when your next appointment is here." She closed the door.
Santos sank down at his commanding desk, perplexed as to what to do with the break in the time.
"Feel lucky, Mr. President." Sam said. "President Bartlett never got five minutes in both his terms."
"How would you know? You were only here for one of them."
"Okay, I have no good answer for that." Sam sheepishly replied.
"The trouble with a break in any schedule is there is so much to do you spend your down time trying to figure out what you're going to do. Next thing you know it's over. What would you do with five minutes?"
"Me sir?" Sam contemplated the question, but it was obvious how completely perplexed he was over the idea.
"Don't you relax?"
"Me? No, really can't say that I do." Sam's answer came with straight faced and expressionless delivery.
Santos smiled and casually worked his way over to the sitting area. "I think I just figured out what we are doing for five minutes. Have a seat." He pointed his right hand toward the sofa he intended Sam to sit on.
Sam did as instructed without question, all while looking slightly uncomfortable as he sat next to his boss, the leader of the free world.
"I don't know you very well. Can you give me a great idea of exactly who you are in five minutes?" Santos asked.
"Actually sir, it is 4 minutes and…" Sam looked at his watch, "15 seconds."
"Time is wasting then. Start talking."
"Uh, I, well…I"
"You're a speech writer by trade. How can you be at a loss for words?"
"I don't exactly write things like what I did at summer camp. Now, if you wanted me to dictate arguments over the comparative vs. the statistical method in testing the validity of empirical propositions in states and social revolutions, I'm your man."
"Were you always this intellectual?"
"There was preschool. Those were my awkward years."
Santos loved how Sam could deliver all these smart quips without cracking even a light smirk. "You should have tried comedy. Your deadpan delivery would have secured your future for years."
"Bob Newhart isn't dead yet. No one likes copy cats."
Santos laughed harder. "Good point. Were you Captain of the debate team and President of the AV club?"
"Student Council and Key Club."
"I played football and basketball. All those activity clubs were for wimps. Of course, there were probably more options in Orange County than the Second Ward in Houston."
Sam silently nodded, finally allowing a smile to break through his normally serious face all while relaxing his posture a little. He was starting to warm up. "All my life I wanted out of Southern California. I felt I belonged more with the elite culture and crappy climate of the Northeast. I picked Princeton at a very early age and worked my entire life to make sure I would get there. It wasn't until I went back to California to run for office that I realized how much I missed it. I never thought I would end up back there and love it."
"So why did you come back?"
"Josh is pretty persuasive."
Santos chuckled. "I knew you were still an idealist."
"I was an idealist. The California sun changed my reality. Besides, how do you know what I used to be like?"
"I read President Bartlett's speeches for the first four years. They strangely changed right around the time you went back home. Those early ones gave me goosebumps."
Sam smiled, realizing that the downside of speech writing was it revealed how easily he used to wear his heart on his sleeve. "Thanks, but that was then."
"How did you meet Josh?"
"I was working for Congressman Davis while Josh was working for the Minority Whip on the same floor. We always had the same schedule; same lunch, same times running for coffee for the staffers, same time going to the… that might be more than you want to know."
Santos chuckled. "You should have seen Josh today in the situation room for the first time. I've never seen a fish more out of water."
Sam laughed over that vision in his head. "I could picture that. He's high strung in the cafeteria line."
"Why politics? You were top of your class at Duke. Josh always said you were the best damn lawyer he ever knew. Twice he had to drag you out of private practice."
"Why did you go into politics?" Sam asked evading the question.
"To make a difference."
"That's how it starts for us all. It rarely stays that way though."
"You couldn't have lost your idealism or you wouldn't be here."
"Maybe I'm power hungry?"
Santos was too amused by that answer. "If you're power hungry, I guess that makes me tyrannical."
Sam laughed, pleased over how much he liked this new President's sense of humor.
"So you missed it." Santos blankly observed.
"Making a difference."
Sam looked downward into his lap, indicating new discomfort over where this was going. "Yeah, I did."
"Okay, okay, I get it, let's avoid personal questions." Santos said letting him off the hook. "So, tell me how our day is going."
"Good. I thought the EPA rep didn't layout a strong enough argument for mandatory controls on emissions, the budget director had some excellent concerns about various appropriations renewals, Secretary Vinnick's brief on the escalation in Kazakhstan was informative, and everything else was pretty much background noise.
Santos couldn't have agreed more. "I get it. You have no idea either."
"We both are new at this. I only got to staff President Bartlett once. I was told to be the wide-angle lens."
"What was that supposed to mean?"
Sam paused for a second, baffled as to how to explain his answer. "I really have no idea."
Santos chuckled and looked at his watch. "Five minutes are up, and you actually told me all I needed to know. You're good." He headed back to his desk.
"Thanks, I'm so glad that I'm such an easy read." Sam said humbly, not sure if he should take that comment as a compliment or not.
There was a knock on the door and Ronna cracked it open. "Mr. President, Senator Tallman is here."
"What is this about?"
"Subsidies for development of new uses of soybeans in Indiana."
"We could have this conversation done in ten seconds if I just said yes or 42."
"It doesn't work that way." Sam jokingly admitted. "Nice try though."
Santos adjusted his tie. "Fine, it's your fault if I don't get to go to bed with my wife tonight. Okay, send him in."
a/n: Any comments about how I did with this (good or bad) would be most appreciated. It might boost my confidence to try more with this fandom in the future. Or, it might tell me I'm out of my league. Either way, let me know! Thanks so much for reading.