Jean Luc glanced over at the sleeping figure across the aisle from him. A smile tugged on his lips as he watched her sleeping peacefully, her arms wrapped around a large tawny teddy bear. He motioned for one of his aides who came rushing up the aisle.

"Yes Mr. Prime Minister."

"Look at Mara and could you ask a photographer to come back here and quietly take a shot of her."

Joseph looked over and tried to keep his laughter to himself. The image of Mara with a teddy bear some how didn't seem right. Now sleeping with a Satan doll would suit her he thought. "Sure Sir, could I have a copy of the picture. No one on the Hill will ever believe me without a picture."

"Sure Joseph but it will be your funeral not mine when she finds out." The Prime Minister chuckled..

A photographer came back and granted the Prime Minister's request making a mental check list of how much money he could make selling this picture to the press corps. Mara Whitford's arrogance, temper and devious nature were matched only by her political brilliance and stunning good looks. The last blurb he heard about her was that you'd rather be tossed naked, covered in honey to the middle of a bear colony than be summoned to her office for "a little chat".

Mara woke up as the plane began it's descent into Washington National airport. She quickly put her teddy bear in her bag and pulled out a chocolate bar. Jed will never miss this. I'll say I picked up twenty instead of twenty four she thought as she bit into the creamy french mint chocolate bar.

"Are you still planning on visiting the West Wing before the dinner Mara?"

"Yes Sir, I want to see C.J. Of course if I can make Josh's life miserable at the same time..."

"You know Mara, Bartlet probably doesn't like you terrorizing his staff."

" It's just Josh and I think he gets a kick out of it. I know Leo does."

"I don't want to declare war on the United States of America just to get you back young lady, try to behave." He said with a grin.

"Don't worry about me Sir I've got an in with the President I can get him to pardon me anytime." Mara quipped with a gleam in her eyes.

One of these days the Prime Minister thought giving her a stern look. He was completely unfazed when he noticed her sticking her tongue out at him. His pet name for her was my little irritant which always brought the biggest pout to her lips. Jean Luc often wondered why she never desired a career on the stage. She was quite the actress capable of portraying any emotion at the drop of a hat. Lucky for me her passion is politics he thought. He was in the middle of his third term and was confident he could win a fourth with Mara at his side. He had decided not to seek re-election but wanted to set Mara up for her own run to the top in a few years. He needed the President's help to convince her to accept his offer. Mara had no idea that the pressing issue he had to speak to Josiah Bartlet about was her future.

Forty minutes later Mara was standing at the check in desk at the hotel praying she'd get a real key for her door. She swore softly as the desk clerk handed her two emerald green card keys. Mara and card keys did not work well together. She was constantly losing them, eight in one day was her current record. She found her room easily and slid the key into the slot. The little green light went on after her third attempt. She tossed her bags on the bed and hung up her dress for the State Dinner. She picked up the phone and dialed C.J.

"Hello C.J.Cregg here."

"Hi it's me, I'm on my way over with a special delivery for your boss. Josh in today?"

"Yes, much to his chagrin. He's been trying to get out of here all day long but Leo won't let him."

"Well teasing Josh is a floor show not to miss." Mara laughed.

"Hey Sam is in this time you'll finally meet him."

"Is he as easy a mark as Josh? What am I saying he was the one who didn't know he took a call girl home right?"

C.J. laughed "Uhuh but please don't use that little tidbit of information."

"I won't. Is he still going out with Leo's daughter?"

"No they broke up about a month ago. Luckily for Sam, Mallory did the dumping so he didn't have to worry about Leo."

"I'll see you soon, let your boss know his favourite Canadian is on her way."

"I'm actually going to see him now so I'll tell him. See ya."

Mara scanned her room for one of the card keys convinced she couldn't have lost them already. She found one on the floor and tossed it in her purse. She was on her way to pick up her rental car when she remembered she left Jed's care package upstairs. Her hand went in her purse and she sent the card key flying in to the fountain. Here we go again she thought and headed over to the check in desk.

"Hi I'm Mara Whitford from room 1812 and I'm afraid I've lost my card key."

"If I can see some ID I'll have another one ready in a minute."

Mara flashed her passport and was presented with two new card keys. When the elevator door opened one slid down the gap without her even noticing it. She opened the door grabbed the bag of goodies and was on her way back downstairs. The traffic moved faster than she expected and she was waved through the parking gate twenty minutes later. She walked into the main entrance for the West Wing, showed her ID and had a visitors pass placed around her neck. The receptionist told her C.J. cleared her to go ahead and wait in her office since she was finishing the 3 p.m. press briefing. Mara walked by Josh's office and sighed when she found it empty. He's hiding from me I bet she thought. She walked past another office and noticed the back of Josh's head.

"So you ready for this state dinner?" "Josh asked.

"State dinner yeah right. My God who are we throwing it for again?"

"Prime Minister of Canada." Josh chuckled. "Which is why I'm staying away from the Anti Christ he employs." He added wryly

"Thank God it's just Canada, nothing major."

After Mara adjusted her dropped jaw she began her attack. "Excuse me? Just Canada? How dare you! Just Canada is your largest trade partner and need I remind you that your trade deficit with us is quite substantial? I understand you know nothing about the White House so let me give you a little lesson. The White House got it's name after it was burnt down by Canadians in the War of 1812 and had to be painted: the colour chosen was white. I can arrange for History to repeat itself and give you a first hand account. I want an apology and I want it now."

"I... I umm....."

Mara looked at the sign on his door and pointed to it. "Oh yeah Deputy Communications Director, what a joke you can't even speak. Joshua coffee: milk and three sugars now. Oh don't get your assistant to do it either."

"No chance of that happening Donna won't even get him coffee." Sam quipped.

"Chop, chop Josh."

"Hello Mara, I was praying you would have been tossed in to a deep polar crevasse by now. "

"Josh don't you know by now that I'm indestructible."

"You know you remind me of a pesky little Black fly, always buzzing around making a nuisance of yourself and annoying the hell out of me."

"Just get me my bloody coffee you elitist egotistical chauvinistic pig."

"Hey you can't talk to him like that." Sam said quickly not noticing the gleam in Josh's eye.

"You can shut the hell up until you apologize pretty boy."

"Pretty boy?" Josh chuckled.

"Why Josh I do believe you are jealous." Mara laughed.

"Who me? Not on your life you sadistic witch. Sorry Sam, buddy, old pal but you have just inherited her wrath which means she's done with me."

"Guess again Josh. I want my coffee in two minutes flat go."

Josh glared at Mara and left Sam's office to fetch her coffee.

"Well I'm waiting!" Mara said firmly planting her right hand on her hip.

Sam looked at the woman standing in front of him. She was dressed in black leather pants, a snug deep scarlet velvet square neck top that showed off the beginning swell of her ample breasts. Her long blonde hair was pulled up in a ponytail exposing a long graceful neck. Her green eyes shone with a certain fire. Her full lips were drawn in to a sexy little pout. Sam wondered what she'd do if he leaned over and ran his finger along her lower lip then thought better of it. The word he was searching for to describe her finally came to mind:stunning.

"I'm sorry you heard that." He said softly.

"I bet you are but that's not the apology I wanted." Mara replied.

"How about you tell me what you want to hear and I'll repeat it. It will save us both a lot of time."

Mara gazed in to his blue eyes and her outrage seemed to dissipate. "You're the speech writer I'm sure you can come up with something on your own."

Sam thought for a few moments. "I'm sorry you over heard my conversation that seemed to imply that I was belittling your country. I did forget all about who this dinner was for but the nothing major meant at least I didn't forget something major like the President needed a speech from me for the dinner. I'm well aware of the significant relationship between our countries. I must confess I know little about this building I work in so thanks for the history lesson."

Josh shoved the cup of coffee in to Mara's hand. "I hope you choke on it."

"What did you go to Columbia to get this?" Mara took a tiny sip and placed the cup on the edge of Sam's desk.

"C.J is looking for you. Kindly go pollute her section of the west wing."

"Josh they you are. I finally got the Senator on the line for you." Donna said from behind.

"Why didn't you tell me that two minutes ago when I passed your desk?"

"Geez I don't know you were so busy muttering to yourself I figured you wouldn't hear me."

"You must be Donna. How you put up with this one is beyond me. Hi I'm Mara Whitford."

"Oh yes we've spoken a few times. Nice to meet you. Josh she does not resemble a fire breathing dragon in the least." Donna said with a grin.

Josh glared at Donna. "I said she was a sadistic, evil, egotistical, good for nothing, fire breathing dragon."

"Whatever. Go take your phone call before I turn in to a fire breathing dragon Joshua." Donna replied pulling him by the arm back to their area.

"A dragon who spews useless facts is more accurate." He cracked.

"Josh shut up." Donna said and winked at Mara. "See you later Mara."

"See you later Donna." Mara laughed as Donna continued to drag Josh along the hall. "So tell me Sam why aren't those two dating?"

"Huh?"

"Josh and Donna? There is a very strong bond between those two. They start talking and little currents of electricity just start buzzing around them."

"They are just good friends."

"Maybe but that's only because both of them are in serious denial. Apology accepted by the way."

"Hey your coffee is getting cold."

"That's OK I can't stand the stuff."

"So why did you force Josh to get it for you?"

"To keep him in his place. To remind him who has more pull but mostly just to annoy the hell out of him."

"I don't get it."

"You mean Josh has never told you about his first visit to Parliament Hill?"

"No he just came back complaining about you."

"Let's just say that I don't take too kindly to being asked to fetch coffee in my own office."

"Ah. He had no idea who you were when he asked I bet."

"More like assumed since I was female that it was my job. No he had no idea. He claimed he thought he was meeting a Mark Whitford. He figured Mar was for Mark not Mara. I don't think Josh thought a woman could hold a job as important as mine."

"What is it exactly that you do Mara?"

"Please Sam don't get her started." C.J. sighed.

"Thanks C.J. I love you too." Mara laughed and hugged her friend.

"The President is looking for you."

"Let him wait." Mara said with a evil grin.

"You are impossible."

"Tell me something I don't know. So how's Gail doing?"

"Fine."

"How's Danny doing?"

"How should I know?"

"Well you see him everyday don't you?"

"So?"

"So you must know how he's doing then."

"I don't really care Mara. If you are so interested why don't you ask him yourself?"

"Careful C.J she might just do that."

"Sam, Shut Up."

"Why does everyone keep telling me to shut up?"

"My guess Sam is that you are the one who tells them what they don't want to hear."

"No he's just annoying as hell." said a voice from behind.

"Toby!" Mara hugged the rumpled gruff Chief of Communications.

"Hey kiddo long time no see. The boss wants to know if he has to declare war on Canada to get your attention?"

"He doesn't want to see me he really just wants the treats I brought him."

"True and Mrs. Landingham will be back in five minutes so you better get in there now."

"Hey Mara do you still carry them with you?" C.J. asked.

"Of course, I don't go anywhere without them." Mara opened her purse and pulled out a zip lock bag of Goldfish crackers sending her card key flying under Sam's desk.

"So that is really how you meet." Toby stated.

"What you thought I was lying to you Toby?" C.J. asked quickly hitting him in the arm.

"Pled the fifth Toby." Sam said with a grin and was rewarded with a swat from C.J.

"My instructions were to escort you to the Oval Office so move it Blondy."

Mara stuck her tongue out at Toby and shoved the Goldfish back in her purse which she let drop on the chair. "Sam grab that black bag and follow me."

Josh saw the party of four heading to the Oval office and changed directions ducking inside Leo's office.

"Can I help you Josh?" Margret asked.

"No I'm just hiding out for a few minutes."

"Ah she's here."

"Yes. Wait does the entire West Wing know how much I hate that girl?"

"Yeah and we all figure it's because she's the female version of you." Margret replied.

"That is the most insulting thing I've ever heard. Take it back Margret."

"Nope."

"Margret!"

"Sorry Josh it's not my fault you can't handle the truth." Margret said with a grin and walked away.

"I'm nothing like her!" Josh yelled at the closed door.

Meanwhile Charlie opened the door to the Oval Office stopping the President and Leo's laughter.
"Sir she's here."

"Thank you Charlie send her in. Well it's about time you got your butt in here. I was just about to order an air strike on Halifax."

"Jed good things come to those who wait." Mara said with a grin and hugged Leo. "Hey there Handsome."

"Hello gorgeous what did you do to Josh this time?"

"Nothing yet Leo, just asked for a simple cup of coffee."

"You hate coffee and nothing is ever simple with you Miss Whitford."

"Sam bring the bag to me."

"Yes Sir."

Mara left Leo's embrace and walked between the President and Sam . "You could at lest say hello Mara, thank you Mara before seizing the contraband." She teased.

"Hello Mara, thank you Mara, that is all Mara, bye." Jed teased back.

"Why is it I like you again?' Mara asked.

"You find me utterly charming and highly intelligent." Jed answered.

"No I find Mel Gibson utterly charming and highly intelligent."

"Cute as hell too." C. J added.

"Why thank you C.J."

"Actually I was referring to Mel Sir not that..."

"C.J would you like a shovel to help dig you out of this?" Toby cracked.

"Oh my God was that just a grin I saw on Toby's face?"

"Cute Mara." Toby said dryly.

"Toby go get Josh and ask him to... no you better order him to join us." Leo said

"Why?"

"I'm in the mood to watch him squirm."

"Leo! abusing your staff for your own pleasure? Tsk... tsk.... tsk.. I'm so proud of you."

"I figured you'd approve. Did you happen to remember my order?"

"Of course Leo if you can pry the bag away from your best friend they are in a separate bag."

Leo walked over and peeked into the black duffle bag pulling out his bag. He glanced up at his friend who was tearing the wrapper off a chocolate bar and generally resembling a six year old on Christmas morning. Leo's grin matched his boss' when he pulled out a bag of potato chips.

"I love you Mara is there anything I can get for you?" Leo asked as he stuffed several sea salt and malt vinegar potato chips in his mouth

Mara heard the door open and grinned "Josh's head on a platter would be nice." She deadpanned.

"That would make a mess in my office how about we just fire him and give Donna his job?" Jed asked with a grin.

"I like Donna." Toby replied.

"So do I and she's easier to deal with than Josh." C. J added smiling at Josh.

"Oh can you just feel the love in this room?"Josh said sarcastically. "If you are all through with irritate Josh could I get back and do some real work?"

"I wouldn't call what you do work Josh." Mara quipped.

"Oh bite me Mara. "Josh snapped.

Mara moved over towards Josh picked up his hand and bite it just hard enough to hurt but not break the skin.

"Owwww! She bit me! Sir did you just see that she bit me."

"Josh in the future I'd advise you to not invite me to do something if you don't mean it."

"But you bit me, you actually bit me!"

"Josh you did tell her to." C. J. stated trying to contain her laughter.

"Et Tu.? Claudia Jean" Josh asked.

C.J. grinned and walked over to Josh gently kissing his hand. "There I kissed it and made it all better Joshua." She replied a smirk still on her face.

"Can I go now and prepare my case to sue her for bodily harm."

"You may leave Josh but there will be no lawsuit."

"Yes Mr. President."

Mara waited until Josh was opening the door before she spoke, "Josh I'm glad that bullet didn't kill you."

"I'd be touched if I didn't know that you were just glad you didn't have to find someone else to irritate and abuse."

"You got me there." Mara replied giving Josh a genuine smile and a wink.

Josh stuck his tongue out at her and while closing the door behind him noticed something that disturbed him. Sam was practically drooling at Mara and the look on his face screamed I'm smitten. I've got to save Sam he thought and went to find Donna to get some sympathy from her.

 

Chapter 2

 

 

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