Title: 'Crash & Burn' (2/2)
Author: Anna Rousseau annadelamico@yahoo.co.uk
Fandom: The West Wing
Genre: Drama/Angst (Hurt/Comfort/ESF/EMF)
Category: SS/MOB/LMG
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Through S1. Minor for 'Galileo' and 'Someone's Going to Emergency, Someone's Going to Jail'.
Last Eppy Seen: 'The Drop In'
Archive: Please, just tell me where.
Summary: It's late at night in DC and the person Sam least expects turns up on his doorstep in the least expected circumstances.

Disclaimer: The West Wing and its characters belong to Aaron Sorkin as they are the product of his genius. However, I am borrowing them for a while and I promise to return them more or less in tact.

Notes: Thanks for all the feedback, I can't tell you how much I enjoy it! I'm returning to the old hurt-comfort genre here. Also thanks have to go to my best pal Becki without whom I would not have seen Galileo due to C4 and E4 being evil... then again if I hadn't seen Galileo, I would have been spared The Hair... which leads to...

Hair Notes: See Part I.


"CRASH & BURN - PART II"
========================


"What's she doing here?" Leo McGarry questioned Sam Seaborn as soon as the apartment door was opened.

Sam ushered the Chief of Staff into his apartment and shut the door behind them. Calmly, the younger man took Mallory's father's coat and hung it next to his own black one on the coat rack.

Leo stared at Sam, "Well?"

"Leo," Sam started, his voice and features set in a manner that gave nothing away. "Mallory was on the way home from a friend's house and she was mugged. She's okay, though."

"Mugged?" asked Leo, raising his voice. His eyebrows had shot up and his eyes were as wide as saucers as he started to pace the floor. "How? Where? What happened?"

Sam sighed, "I'm not sure exactly where, all I know is she was knocked to the ground and they stole her purse and cell phone. Mallory hasn't really divulged any details, she's pretty shaken up, as you can imagine." Sam took a breath, watching Leo shake his head is disgust, "Mallory might have sprained her left wrist, and she has a few cuts and bruises, a bump on her head. She'll be okay, Leo. It's just shock, mainly."

Leo looked around the apartment, "Where is she now?"

Sam motioned to a door on the other side of the living area, "She had a bath, and she's getting some rest."

"How's she handling it?" Leo asked, trying his best to control his nerves.

"Hard to tell," Sam answered after some thought. "She seems better than she was when she got here, though. I just rang a friend of mine, she's a doctor and lives in the apartment block next door. She said she'd come around and check out everything, see if there are any fractures, y'know."

Leo nodded slowly at Sam, his eyes expressing his gratitude, however he felt as if he needed to voice his appreciation.

"Thank you, Sam."

Sam's voice broke slightly, "I'm just relieved that Mallory's injuries weren't worse. I know she's in shock, but things could have been a lot worse."

Leo touched Sam's arm lightly. "You do know that Mallory still cares for you, don't you?"

After a moment the younger man shook his head absentmindedly. "We haven't really spoke before for months, then that night at the Kennedy Center with the President and CJ..." Sam looked up and shook his head. "She's moved on, Leo. Maybe we can still be friends, but I doubt anything more than that."

"Sam," Leo started as he laid his hand on the handle of Sam's bedroom door. "She loves you. I can tell, so can Jenny."

A small, incredulous smile played across Sam's lips, "I don't think-"

"Mallory won't admit it of course," Leo continued, his tone even and encouraging, "but she really does." He paused and gave Sam a small smile, "This Richard thing will blow over. She's on the rebound, Sam, I've seen her do stupid stuff like this before. Hang on in there."

Leo opened the door and quietly entered the bedroom, leaving Sam in the living room. Mallory was laid in Sam's bed, in his pyjamas, wrapped in his duvet, a small smile playing across her bruised face. Though his fingers shook, Leo managed to quickly and silently turn off the bedside lamp and pull the covers up to Mallory's chin before kissing her lightly on the forehead.

"'S okay, baby," Leo whispered, stroking her flushed cheek with the back of his fingers. "It's okay."

***

"Okay, honey, everything's checked out okay, but in the morning get an X-ray for that wrist, as a precaution. It's probably just a sprain." The forty-something doctor's assuring tone put Mallory at rest as she positioned a support bandage on the swollen limb. "The cut doesn't need stitches, but keep an eye on it."

"Thank you, Dr. Anderson," Mallory nodded with a smile. "I hope it wasn't too much trouble, it's pretty late-"

Dr. Anderson silenced her with a wave of a hand, "Don't mention it." She pushed her copper-blonde hair from her face as she turned to Sam and Leo who were perched on the end of the bed. "Now, I don't think she presents with concussion, but still I want one of you to stay with her, okay?"

They both nodded and replied simultaneously, "Sure."

Sam stood and led Dr. Anderson to the door, from her place in bed Mallory could hear him expressing his thanks to his neighbour and telling her that now they were even.

Mallory smiled at her father who was stroking her hair gently, "What d'you suppose Sam did for the doctor that made her owe him a favour?"

"Mallory!" Leo exclaimed. "It's not good manners to eavesdrop."

"I know, but it's informative," Mallory replied, closing her eyes.

"And this is the woman who's teaching the next generation of Americans," Leo groaned, earning him a feeble swipe.

"Well, what do you think Sam did?" It was better to talk trivially than to discuss the night's events, in her opinion. Mallory took her father's hand in her own, somewhat comforted by this minimal action. "Write a speech for her in an emergency?"

"Her daughter's cat got stuck up the tree last week and I got it down," Sam answered from the doorway.

"You climbed the tree?" Mallory replied, sceptically.

Sam shook his head, "No, the branch he was sitting on was just outside my window so I coaxed him in with Gail."

"Who's Gail?" Mallory inquired curiously as the plot thickened.

"CJ's goldfish from Danny Concannon," Leo offered. His tone changed quickly to one of intense suspicion, "What were you doing with CJ's goldfish anyway?"

"Ah," Sam said sitting on a chair by the bed and rubbing his hands together. "This is quite an amusing story, actually, which involves Josh, CJ... uh... some microwave popcorn and Mrs. Landingham's cookie jar."

Leo and Mallory stared at him. The latter shook her head, "I don't think I can take a story like that this late at night."

"This early in the morning you mean," Sam said, looking at his watch. He stood up, "Well, I'll leave you in suspense. Leo, I've made up the sofa for you, if you want to stay here. I'll keep an eye on Mallory."

Mallory watched her father eye Sam slowly, then shake his head, "No. You've done enough, thank you. I'll watch Mal, you get some sleep."

"I already got about ninety minutes earlier." Sam tried his best to be persuasive. "You need sleep, Leo. Not even you can pull two all-nighters in a row."

Mallory had heard about the long night that the Senior Staff had pulled through from her father the previous morning, something about preventing the spin on an agricultural crisis in the Midwest from getting out of control and causing a national panic. "Sam's right, Dad," Mallory said, giving him a squeeze on the arm.

Leo glanced at Sam's weary expression that was partially masked by his concern for Mallory. "You've managed it," the Chief of Staff retorted good-naturedly.

"I'm younger," Sam quipped, "it's in my nature to party hard all night long."

Leo nodded and turned back to Mallory, "OK sweetie, get some rest," he kissed her on the forehead. "I'll come and check on you in an hour."

Mallory smiled at her father, letting go of his hand. "G'night, Dad."

She watched as her father and Sam left the room and talked softly in the living room before she heard her father place his jacket on a hanger and decline a cup of tea from Sam.

A little while later, Sam came back into the bedroom and gave Mallory a smile, "Need anything?"

She shook her head, "Thank you." Mallory tried to move her arm, "How come your limbs weigh a ton when you break or sprain something. It's not like they physically gain weight."

"The swelling must work on the subconscious," Sam decided after a moment of contemplation. "It looks bigger, so therefore, logically, there must be more weight-"

"Ooo, too complicated," Mallory complained, rubbing her head with her good hand. "Maybe in the morning you can tell me the goldfish story and the sprained-limb psycho-analysis."

"Sure, and if you're up for it I'll explain the Grand Unified Theory, and the Super String Theory," Sam immediately recognised the perplexed look on Mallory's face. "Theoretical physics was Josh's hobby when he was recovering from-"

"He must have been bored."

"Very," Sam agreed.

Mallory peered at the nightstand, reading the spines of the books perched precariously near the edge. "The White House: A Complete History... compelling bedtime reading, Sam."

Sam looked at her sheepishly, "When the President found out I told a dozen elementary school kids that the Roosevelt Room was named after FDR, he treated me to a two hour lecture on the history of the White House, gave me this book to study and made me give one of the guided tours."

Mallory's mouth gaped slightly, "He made you take a bunch of tourists around the White House?"

"Yes, and I must say that it was very successful."

She smiled. "Remind me to bring my class in again."

Mallory picked up a thick legal guide and looked at it for a while. Sam brought work home with him, like her father. The question began to prey on her mind yet again, the 'would it work out' question. Sam represented everything she had an aversion too, yet he was everything she wanted at the same time. She could do this. She could. Mallory might look back at this as an ill-advised romantic impulse, but she knew this was something that left unattended she would regret for the whole of her life.

She began to sit up and then fell back into the pillows as her head rushed and an explosion of pain racked her skull.

"You okay?"

Sam was looking at her intently. She nodded with a tight smile as she tired to convince herself that the pain wasn't there.

Mallory placed the book back on the nightstand and moved further beneath the covers. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Sam lean across and turn out one of the bedside lamps, so only the one on her side of the bed illuminated the bedroom. She sunk into the yielding softness of Sam's pillows, wallowing in the crisp bed linen. Sam drew a chair up to the bed and sat, his eyes fixed on Mallory's as she let her eyelids drop.

"You were lying earlier." Her eyes were still closed.

"I was? About what?"

Mallory smiled. "Getting an hour and a half of sleep."

"I'm that bad a liar?"

"For a lawyer, yes."

"Must be why I'm not one anymore."

There was a hint of amusement in Mallory's drowsy voice, "You traded in to be a politician."

"I'm not a politician, Mallory," Sam said softly. Mallory opened her eyes and looked up at Sam. "I'm a speechwriter, I'm not a politician."

Mallory nodded, she knew that. Sam wasn't her father. In many ways it seemed that way, but in most ways he was not. She smiled at him. "I know."

Closing her eyes again, Mallory lay quietly and for the first time in many months she felt settled and reassured. Her lips parted slightly and she murmured softly, "Get in."

"Pardon?" He sounded as shocked as she felt about that coming inexplicably from her lips.

"Into bed, there's enough room, you need the sleep," Mallory explained, opening her eyes slightly. "It's your bed, Sam. You look like hell. Get some sleep and get into bed."

Sam shook his head, "You're in it."

Mallory growled at him, "Don't go all chivalrous on me, Sam. I don't want Dad blaming me for you walking around like a zombie tomorrow. Get in bed with me now."

Allowing himself a small grin, Sam feigned restrained shock, "Well, I never thought I'd hear that come out of your mouth."

She smiled, her eyelashes falling to rest on her pale skin. "I promise not to take advantage of you."

"You're not going to let this go, are you?"

"Nope," Mallory replied as she patted the bed next to her with her right hand. "Get in."

"'Kay." Defeated, Sam stood up and then climbed on top of his bed. Mallory pulled the duvet aside and then threw it over the top of Sam's body as he got in next to her. He propped himself up on one elbow and leant over to push a strand of auburn hair away from her forehead as Mallory lay on her back, her chest rising and falling steadily. "Thanks."

Mallory turned on her side and faced Sam, her sprained wrist supported on the pillow above her head. Her voice was merely a whisper, "No, thank *you*." Sam's face was only inches apart from her own and the synchronisation of their breaths made their torsos touch every few seconds. Mallory moved her right arm under the sheets and wrapped it around his waist, her hand resting on the fabric of his shirt. She could feel the warmth of his body through the thin fabric and she sensed her breathing quickening. "I don't know what I would have done without you," Mallory's throat was dry and she could almost taste the coffee in Sam's breath as it fell on her lips.

Sam nodded slightly and gave Mallory an endearing smile as he ran his fingers over her cheek. "Thanks for dropping by."

His arm went to Mallory's waist and the warmth of his skin flowed through the silk of her borrowed pyjamas. Mallory smiled at Sam and she moved closer to him as he drew her towards his body. Resting her head under his chin, Mallory couldn't help but feel overwhelmed by the evening and she clung onto Sam as if he the were the only thing tethering her to ground, for she felt as if she would be lost forever if she let go of him.

Sam wrapped Mallory in his arms and she melted against his body. She felt a light kiss on the top on her hair and looked up at Sam's face. His eyes were half-closed and he pressed his lips to Mallory's forehead. Smiling, Mallory brushed her lips against Sam's mouth and gave him the lightest and most innocent kiss she had ever experienced. Sam's reciprocation was just as gentle and soft as she reached around his neck to pull him closer.

After they drew apart Sam smiled at Mallory, his voice low and quiet. "Did I write a stunning statement that I'm unaware of?"

Mallory rested her head against Sam's chest, hearing the steady beats of his heart. "No, that was a thank you."

"A thank you?" Sam echoed, his face buried in her auburn curls.

Mallory tilted her head up at Sam and her eyes met his. "And a confession."

He looked at her expectantly.

"I'm still in love with you," Mallory whispered.

Sam smiled at her and ran his hand up her back. "Well, that's just excellent, Mal, 'cause I love you."

***

Opening the door a fraction, Leo peered inside the darkened bedroom. However, he did not venture in. The streetlight from the window cast beams of electric illumination across the bed which found their way to his daughter's hair, the gold strands glinting in the light.

In any other circumstances he would have been infuriated by the sight of another body laying next to Mallory's, but as Leo gazed upon his Deputy Communications Director, he couldn't help thinking that they looked at home there, laying in each other's arms. Their heads were pressed together, hair red and black on the crisp whiteness of the pillows.

Looking at his watch, Leo saw that it was too late to call Jenny. But he would call her, in the morning.

Leo closed the bedroom door and left Sam and Mallory sleeping, himself thinking that Fate had devised a plan for that evening and for the first time he didn't feel as though he had to drive a wedge between his daughter and Sam Seaborn.

Sitting back down on the couch, Leo smiled knowing that he would never have to pretend to be polite and congenial to that phoney hockey-player, Richard, ever again.

Back in Sam's bed, Sam and Mallory lay together, their breath playing across each other's lips as they slept peacefully for the first time in months.


If I couldn't sleep could you sleep
Could you paint me better off
Could you sympathize with my needs
I know you think I need a lot

I started out clean but I'm jaded
Just falling it in
Just breaking the skin

Start bending me
It's never enough
Till I feel all your pieces
Start bending me
Keep bending me until I'm completely broken in

Shouldn't be so complicated
Just touch me and then
Just touch me again

Without understanding
Hell, I'll go there again

Can you help me I'm bent
I'm so scared that I'll never
Get put back together
Yeah, you're breaking me in
And this is how we will end
With you and me bent

'Bent' - Matchbox 20


***
THE END
***

Please tell me how I did... I tried to keep the ESF/EMF coming but y'know *resolve* things without being slushy of fluffy (I hope!).

Mallory and Sam belong together and I don't believe anyone who says otherwise :o) (Though I have heard convinced arguments for J/S!)

All feedback, archiving requests to annadelamico@yahoo.co.uk