Title: Missing Something
Disclaimer: Don't own. Never will.
Summary: A special day and a recipe leads Sam into darkness.
Warnings/Spoilers: I don't think any.
Archiving: Yes, as long as you tell me where.
By: Ali Cherry
"Hey, Sam." Josh calls as I enter my office. I peek my head out and look at him. "We're all going out for a beer tonight, to celebrate."
I smile. Josh and Toby really pulled this win out of their hats, but no one expected otherwise. "Sorry, I have plans."
"Plans?" His voice quirks in intrigue and I shake my head heading for my office. "Would they include a red head?" He asks lounging in the doorway.
"Are my shoes shined?" I loved to make him stop and think. It's one of the best reasons to be close friends with Josh, he's just too much fun to tease.
He looks closely at my shoes and looks again. "I can't tell."
"No, I'm not going out with Mallory tonight."
"Is it, you know, that chick, that's your friend?" Josh says this without looking me in the eye. No one looks me in the eye when they talk about Laurie except for Mallory and the President. The others look somewhere else.
"Laurie moved to New York, Josh."
"Don't tell me you're turning down beers and the group for Legal briefs."
"No. I'm leaving all my work at the office."
"So... what?" Josh can't ever let a secret go. Course I'm much better at hiding them then anyone else thinks. Only the President and Leo know about today and I doubt anyone thought about it. December fifth isn't exactly a day that would stick out in your mind; the seventh, the twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth, even the thirty-first. But the fifth is for me, my bedroom, my remote and a stack of tapes.
A not so happy day in Sam land, as Josh likes to call my small little life. And the term is more accurate then he knows, for Sam land is an island unto itself, no political affiliations with neighboring. Okay that's too confusing. All of my family is gone. They've been gone for a while now, and the fifth is my day for remembering them.
And when I say my family, I'm talking about my mom's family. I personally believe the Seaborn side can go to hell, if they haven't already, which according to my FBI file, they haven't. I take great delight in the knowledge that they are all republicans. I like to think my position in the Barlet administration sends a big happy up-yours to all of those right winged idiots.
"Sam?" Josh is bouncing now. He thinks I've become slightly unbalanced. He used to bounce a lot more, but he got used to me. "Is eve-"
"I'm fine, just some stuff to do at home."
He's only mildly happy with that answer, but he goes to leave. Stopping again at the door. "So you know where to find us?"
"Yeah. Don't worry about it." I start to clean up my desk making sure nothing of importance is sticking out saying read me. Not that I really have things of importance in my office. In fact, I'm pretty sure the rest of the staff thinks this room is the rec room. To be used for nothing in particular.
I look at my office, reluctant to leave. I'm somewhat surprised at myself. Usually I rush home on the fifth. I pick up my jacket and keys and head out. Ready to face the family.
My grandmother made an amazing pumpkin pie, so now as I lay here on my bed, I'm pretty perturbed that I didn't think to come home early and attempt the recipe again. I've tried it before but it never tastes the same. Maybe the recipe died with my grandma. Maybe I'll call Mrs. Rodriquez and see if I wrote it down wrong.
I could go out to California for Christmas and try to have her help me, but then I think that the Rodriquez's use the house for the holidays and I'd hate to disturb that. I look at the TV again, the VCR waiting patiently, and this year, I'm not eager to hit play. To talk to my grandma. I turn off the TV and head down to the kitchen to dig out the recipe.
I takes me two hours to find decent pumpkins. They were all cannibalized earlier in the season for Halloween and thanksgiving, but I manage to find some. And I'm going to sit in this kitchen until I get the recipe right.
By two in the morning, my kitchen looks like a pumpkin pie factory, twenty pies sit on the table and counters and none of them taste right. And I don' t have any pumpkins left. I pick up the phone. It's only eleven in California, I'm sure...
"Hello?" I hear at the other end of the line.
"Hi, Mrs. Rodriguez. It's Sam."
"Did you just get home from work?" She asks groggily.
"No, I've been home. Listen I was trying to make grandma's pie and I think I wrote the recipe down wrong."
"Hold on Sam. Let me go get the recipe." I can hear her over the line as she gets up from where ever she was and lumber towards the kitchen. "So how 's Washington treating you?"
"I can't complain. I'm glad elections are over though."
"So are you seeing anyone?" She always asks that question and this time I think I'll lie to her.
"Yeah, she a really nice woman. You'd like her."
"It's not that Chica who I saw in the Enquirer."
"No, she was just a friend."
"So, what's this mystery girl's name."
Think fast, Sam. "Mallory. She's a school teacher."
"Are you bringing her home for Christmas. Better yet, are you coming home for Christmas?"
"No, I'm covering the White House this year, while everyone's away. Don't worry about me, you guys just enjoy the great weather." I can hear her shuffling through her large recipe books.
"You missed a gorgeous sunset."
"I miss a lot of sunsets."
"You should come home, Sam. You sound tired."
"Its just cause we're gearing down for the holidays. I'll be fine." I can' t tell her that I don't think of California, as home anymore because I know, eventually it will be home again. But it still hurts to go back to my grandparent's house and not have grandma greet me with a kiss and love.
I can still walk out onto the sun porch and see my mom reading in the sunlight on Sunday mornings. I can remember sailing with my grandpa. I would give everything I own for another year with them.
"Here it is." Mrs. Rodriguez spends the next few minutes confirming my recipe. So it's something in my execution. "Sam, don't worry about the pie. Come home after the Holidays. Bring your girl. We'll try to figure out what's wrong then."
"Yeah. I'll get back to you on that." I tell her.
"Don't give me that political bullshit, Sammie. We miss you out here. Come home, meet my grandbabies."
"I guess I'm going to bed now." She tells me good night and now I'm alone in my kitchen with twenty horrible, awful no good Pumpkin pies. Maybe now it's time to talk to Grandma.
I go up to my bedroom and lie on the bed, turning on the TV and pressing play on the VCR. My grandmother was the one who taught me politics if you believe that. She was feisty and full of everything. Josh reminds me of her in male form, except grandma never had that whole receding hairline Josh has.
The home videos help. This was the day we'd remember everyone, Grandma and I. She and I would sit and watch the movies and talk at the screen like the people were there with us. We lost grandpa when I was in Junior high. Mom had cancer throughout my high school years and died just after I was admitted into Princeton and Grandma died when I was on the house floor, clerking for some imbecile who shouldn't have been in Congress.
And suddenly I was alone. I could have bought my way back into the Seaborn family, I guess. But then Grandma would have rolled over in her grave. She didn't leave me the family money so I could buy love, which is why Lisa never knew about the money. If I had really loved her, all I would have had to say was Swiss bank account and I would have been married. Bet she was pretty pissed when the first financial disclosures came out.
I lay my head down watching the years roll by on tape. I can almost feel grandma there beside me, smoothing a hand along my back. I wish that I had some one here beside me who loved me. Someone who would slide their hand down my back and tell me my grandma was great.
Maybe it is time to go home.
As a tear slides down my face I wonder when the fifth became pity time in Sam land.
"Kathy. Do me a favor. There are some pies out in my car, find homes for them." I tell her in a stiff voice as I walk into the office, tossing my keys on the desk. She looks at me funny, but then, I look like I haven't slept and I might have been crying. There is only so much a shower and shave can do.
I sit in my chair as Kathy lugs all twenty pies into the office. I didn't mean for her to do that, I was hoping she'd call a shelter or something, but I'm in no mood to tell her that right now.
"What the hell?" Josh yells as he comes barreling into the bullpen. Kathy points to my window as Ginger prods one of the pies with her pen. Josh walks in my door still looking at the pies. "You turned down beer, for a chance to make a donation to a bake sale?" He asks incredulously.
"Don't." I wave away his questions and he starts to bounce.
"So, did you have a nice evening? You don't look like you slept."
"Josh. Not today."
"Okay." He looks at me. "So why are you here?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well it's Saturday, so I was wondering-"
"Why is Kathy here?"
"Cause Bonnie's sick and Toby needed something by Monday. She and Ginger will be out of here by noon."
"Oh." I nod my head. Last night's pity party at Sam's house really screwed with my sense of reality, cause now all I can think of is having to go home to my house and look at that recipe that's missing something.
"Well I'm going to go back to my office now. I apparently have to take Donna shoe shopping later for coming in for this meeting." He sighs and heads for the door.
"You should by her red fuck me heels." Did that come out of my mouth?
Josh turns and points at me. Why the hell isn't he bouncing, that sounded like insanity talking to me. "That is an excellent idea, my friend." And then I realize.
Josh is still drunk from the night before. Or maybe not, he looks at me again. "She's going to make me buy sensible flats isn't she?"
I nod my head. "Or at least small heels."
Josh starts to walk away and that's when my real nightmare begins.
"I told you, Leo." The President's voice carries into my office. "I told you and you and Charlie mocked me. Didn't they Fitz." I can see the President now walking into the bullpen. The President, Leo, Charlie and Chairman Fitzwallace. "I smelled Pumpkin pie. And look here Kathy made Pumpkin pie."
"Yes, Mr. President." Leo says with a bored tone.
"This is home made pumpkin pie, Leo. May I have a bite of pie, Kathy?"
"Sir, I really don't think the First Lady would like you to have pie this early in the morning." Charlie cuts in.
"And where is my wife, Charlie?"
"Can she smell this pie on my breath from three thousand miles away?"
"Well now, sir. She is your wife, Sir." Charlie says with a smile. I sit in my chair watching this exchange hoping Charlie will dissuade the President from taking a bite cause all those pies are missing something.
"Cut the pie, Charlie and give me a rather large piece." The president starts throwing jokes around as someone, someone who will die later, produces paper plates and forks and a server to cut the pie with.
The President digs his fork in and slowly brings it up to his mouth and it's missing something. He's going to eat it and it's missing something.
"Don't eat that, Sir!" I'm up out of my chair and now everyone who was in the bullpen is positive I've gone round the bend.
"Why, hello Sam. I didn't realize you were here." He's smiling at me, but I can only stare at that pie balanced on his fork, a few inches from his mouth.
"It's missing something." I tell him, and I see the President's voice has drawn a crowd and there is Josh, Donna, CJ and Toby in the background.
And then there is a sudden and giant moan. And I'm not talking yum yum. I' m talking orgasmic delight. "Mr. President." Fitzwallace says. "This has got to be the best Pumpkin pie I've ever tasted." He took a bite? Didn't he hear me when I said there was something missing?
The President points at a whole pie and declares, "That pie is mine, nobody touch it." At that point I could care less about the whole pie matter. I walk into my office and close the door. I have time to get to my seat and put my head down, before the door opens again and I hear the President shouting. "I said don't touch, Joshua. It's mine."
The door closes on the entire west Wing staff pigging out on pies. "Well that was interesting." The President says gently. "You know, the only person who shuts the door in my face anymore is Abbey. There's something about being dismissed and proper respect given to the Leader of the Free World."
"I'm sorry, Sir. It won't happen again." I lift my face up to his and stand. He takes another bite of pie, anger in his face, his ears slightly red at the tips. And then his face softens. And I think here we go, my punishment.
"You know, my grandmother used to make these great rum balls. Every year at Christmas she and my mom would go into the kitchen to make these rum balls. The family would hover round, snake some of the batter when we could. My Uncle Earl was especially found of drinking the Rum. But anyways, my grandmother passed away and as a treat to remember her by, my mother kicked us all out of the kitchen and started to make the rum balls herself. She worked for hours and hours and came out of the kitchen in tears. My father asked her what was wrong, and she said she couldn't get it right, that the recipe was missing something. So my sister and I went into the kitchen and cleaned up the mess. The next Christmas my mother again kicked us out of the kitchen and tried to make the rum balls. And after hours alone in there she came out in tears and my sister and I cleaned up the mess."
He pauses taking another bite of pie, a pie that he brought in just to spite me. "The year I married Abbey, my mother went to go into the kitchen to try again except this time she took Abbey, to show her, and after twenty minutes the family started to peek in and an hour later my Uncle Earl was sneaking drinks from the Rum bottle. That was the first year that my mother didn't say the Rum balls were missing something."
He pauses again. And I can hear Toby in my head. Pause Mr. President, it makes them think.
"The point I'm trying to make is this, Sam. The only thing missing from this pie is the love you and your grandmother shared while making this pie. It tastes fine, it would taste better to you, if you shared your family instead of pretending they're not part of you."
He turns to walk out, but stops at the door. "One more thing, Sam. If you ever close the door on me again, there will be hell to pay."
"Yes sir." I say, and the door is open to the bullpen.
"Where's my pie?" The President asks loudly. And then I hear something that makes me smile.
"Hello, Jed." Mrs. Barlet strikes again. You have got to love that woman.
"Hello, Sweetie. We were just having some pie."
"Yes, I know. Now hand over the pie and I won't tell say anymore."
"But Abbey, Its Sam's family recipe."
"That's nice, honey." Abbey pries the pie out of the President's hands and they walk away.
I pick up my stuff and head out of the office, waving off everyone's concern. Grandma would say I am cranky and in need of a nap, and as always, she's right.