Cold Blast - 18

By Cathy



Mara, Sam and Toby walked in to the living room of the residence to whistles and applause. Mara gave Abbey a big hug and whispered thanks Mom in to her ear. Jed had Killer hanging on his shoulder and gave his most difficult "daughter" a kiss on the cheek.
"Welcome Mara. Before you is the committee to ensure you are never home sick which of course I'm the chairman of. Never hesitate to call on any of us if you need a hand. I'm sure with Sam's help it won't take you long to learn to love this city. It's even starting to grow on me. I was going to point out the ironic twist that you moved to a city where you have no governmental representation but you're Canadian so we really don't care."

Mara laughed, "I love you too Abbey." She said sarcastically before her demeanor softened. "Actually I really do love you and your impossible criminal of a husband. When Ron picked me up at the airport part of me still wanted to tell him there was a terrible mistake and I wasn't leaving Ottawa before I hopped back on the plane that brought me here. Then I thought that would make Josh's day and I couldn't have that." Mara paused for everyone's laughter and Josh's teasing statement that you should always follow your first impulse.

"Anyway other than the fact that Killer was cat napped within my first hour here I've made it through the day. Seeing all of you here and knowing that it wasn't really Abbey forcing your presence warms my heart. Donna and C.J you have some pretty big shoes to fill since I not only left my assistant behind but my best friend as well. Sam remarked that Cheryl reminded him of a cross between C.J and a wilder version of Donna. I think I'm going to concur with him. I'm thrilled to be able to spend more time with you C.J and between the two of us I think we can help release the inner wild child in Donna that wants to come out and play more often."

"Just keep her away from married rock stars, well all rock stars." Josh stated.

"Umm Donna I guess you didn't tell Josh that Jon was flying you up to his house next week while Dorthea is away?" Mara teased.

"OOPS it slipped my mind." Donna giggled and gave Josh a mischievous grin.

Mara put one arm around Donna's shoulder and gently squeezed it. "Yup we're going to be good for each other."

Toby sighed, "I don't know if this administration can handle the Three ...Temptresses."

"Oh I like that, you get a kiss Toby." C.J leaned over and left a playful peck on Toby's cheek.

"In honour of Mara's first night we are having some of her favourite foods. Care to guess what we are having?" Abbey asked.

"Hmm dessert is brownies, hot fudge sauce and ice cream. Dinner consists of spinach and artichoke dip with chips, pizzas with feta cheese, mushrooms and onions, bacon wrapped water chestnuts, grilled vegetable sandwiches on French bread, mini quiches and maybe chicken satay." Mara guessed.

"Close no quiche we are having crab cakes instead and there are two deserts."

"Yum Abbey you spoil me too much, any chance we'll be eating soon?"

"I second that request." Jed added.

"I'll have everything brought in here in a few minutes." Abbey replied.

They all started talking among themselves being careful to avoid shop talk least Abbey heard them and followed through with her threat to bash them one. Mara wandered over to C.J who was busy spiking her lemonade with vodka.

"So I here you handed out a four page list."

C.J grinned, "Actually I had Carol do it. Want a copy?"

"I don't need it since I've had your gift for a few months now but I'd love to read it."

C.J found her purse and pulled out the pages that were folded in half. "I left a copy in everyone's mail box for Monday."

"I thought you weren't celebrating birthdays any more."

"I wasn't until I ran into a cute little freshman from Georgetown at the drug store who told me I rocked. I told him I was old enough to be his mother and he said I was too sexy to be his Mom and didn't I know age was a state of mind. I thanked the whipper snipper and decided I needed gifts this year."

"I still maintain that I'm 29 + 7 going on 29 + 8. Dani enjoys reminding me I'm 36."

"She would she's a punk kid at 32. How's she doing?"

"Well since they took the morphine off her she's not saying this is nothing I'm fine anymore. The physical therapy is hellish pain she tells me."

"Can't they give her anything?"

"They don't want her to become addicted. They figure since she's young and her profession would enable an addiction she is high risk for addiction even though she's always been a good kid. They gave her a limited number of the good pills to use. She has to do a checklist like I do with my migraines to judge what type of pain she's in and there is a pill and dosage for each level. She's got to be in pretty bad pain to take something harder than a Tylenol #3. I told her I'd buy her stocks in Advil since she's always popping them. She's actually trying acupuncture to see if it can help."

"The thought of being stuck with needles gives me pain." C.J laughed.

"Me too. If she used her crutches more often she'd be in less pain but you know how stubborn she is."

"Geez I wonder where she gets that from?"

"I don't know." Mara said pretending she had no idea that C.J was referring to her.

C.J snorted and walked away. Dinner was brought out and everyone enjoyed the eclectic feast. It seemed to Mara that everyone had a story to tell about her that ended in a round of laughter or disbelieving "She didn't?" Mara was grateful Cheryl wasn't around to add to the stories.

Killer wandered out from where ever he had been resting and made his way around everyone looking for attention, food and neck scratches. He finally settled down in Sam's lap knowing Sam wouldn't stop scratching him till his hand started to hurt. Mara opened a dozen small gifts but none of them touched her as much as Toby's. He sent Ginger out for a thick journal that he turned in to a survivors guide to Washington. He told her he wanted it back since he had to finish it and blushed heavily when she got up to give him a huge bear hug and kiss. Mara was flipping through it laughing at Toby's assessment of people she'd be coming in contact. Beside each name was a brief description of who they were, who they were tied to, their weakness, buying point, ease of bullying rating and potential for being blackmailed.

Mara's clothes arrived shortly after 8:30 and Mara made Sam bring the boxes labeled 1 to the car. Sam pulled Josh away from a stupid argument with Donna to help him and Toby groaned but took a box off Mara with a grin. Donna had tossed Josh her car keys if they needed to use her trunk or back seat. Mara sat down on the couch and rested her head on Abbey's shoulder.

"Tired Sweetie?"

"Yeah I think I'm suffering from life change lag instead of jet lag."

"When the boys get back why don't you head out. I'm sure everyone will be happy to be leaving here before ten. I must admit I liked this gathering."

"So did I. You know once I'm in the mansion I'm going to throw a ladies only Sunday brunch."

"That sounds like a wonderful idea Mara."

"No offense Jed, Leo or Charlie but everyone else you are cordially invited to a Girls' Sunday brunch sometime in early December at my place."

"All of us?" Bonnie asked with a grin.

"Yup and hopefully Mrs. L won't have a headache and can join us."

"Just send Abbey home with a care package for me and I won't have you deported." Jed laughed.

"If you want to keep your job Margaret you'll bring mine in to work for me." Leo said with a grin.

"I might forget my husband's Charlie but I won't forget about you."

"Thank you Ma'am." Charlie said with a grin as he petted Killer.

"You know I think I'm going to organize a party like this for C.J's birthday." Abbey whispered to Mara.

"I'll help you." Mara whispered back.

"Ladies you've all heard that I'm speaking at a Caribbean Economic Summit in three weeks. Carol and Donna know they are coming along. As this is nearly a week long stay I don't need to keep Leo behind so you'll be happy to know that you are coming with us Margaret. In fact you have all been assigned rooms. Bonnie, Ginger, Kathy there will be a few things to keep you busy for a few hours every day but you'll have more free time than working time. Donna to thank you for everything you've done this year and for all the extra work you are doing for the Smithsonian exhibit I thought you deserved to have the entire time off as a vacation. You just have to keep your eye on Mara."

"You mean I don't have to lift a finger?"

"Not one finger although I'd appreciate it if you find Josh wandering aimlessly along a hallway with out a clue where he is suppose to be, that you shove him in the right direction."

"Yes Sir."

"Sir I think Donna and Mara will need adult supervision to prevent them from getting in to heaps of trouble." C.J stated.

"I'm sure they will be fine C.J but you are welcome to check up on them when you have free time."

"Like that's going to happen." C.J muttered.

Jed chuckled, "C.J I promise you'll come home relaxed, refreshed and maybe even invigorated."

"I'm holding you to that promise Sir."

Bonnie and Ginger excused themselves forcing Kathy to leave since Ginger had driven her in. Carol finished talking to Leo about Aeronautics and then wished everyone a good night. A few minutes later Mara felt Sam's hand resting on her shoulder and heard Josh whining about how heavy clothes can be.

"All done?" She asked.

"Yeah but you have to go home with Donna. I don't have room for you since Killer's cage is in your seat."

"Mara exactly how many boxes are still here?" Toby asked.

"I think about 24."

"Dear God women were you going to open a department store in your spare time?" Toby asked in amazement.

"I like to shop so sue me."

"Like to shop? Mara that's like saying Imelda Marcos didn't mind shoes!!"

"Toby, Mara's shopping is a very good thing." Donna replied with a grin.

"Sure Donatella Versace here loves Mara's shopping, she gets the previous years line for free. She doesn't have to lug it around."

"Toby I'm simply bolstering the Canadian, American, Parisian, English, Italian and German economy."

Jed chuckled, "Mara Sweetie, even I'm not going to touch that one. Night." Jed gave her a kiss on the cheek and left the room still chuckling.

"Night Mara, he doesn't know I intend to go shopping with you this week. See you tomorrow."

"Night Abbey thanks again."

"Anytime Sweetie, Toby, Sam, Leo, Josh, C.J, Donna, Charlie have a great weekend and you can see yourselves out."

"Looks like we've been told." Leo remarked. "All right all of you get out of here before I think of a reason to get you in here tomorrow."

Donna bolted for the door telling Mara she'd meet her downstairs, Josh teased her but quickly followed as did Charlie. Toby hesitated for a second which allowed Mara to grab his hand.

"Thanks again Toby I loved your present." Mara handed it back to him so he could finish it.

"You're welcome kiddo, you're a pain in the ass but every now and then I like a good pain in the ass."

Mara grinned, "Our kind has to stick together." She whispered in his ear before giving his a peek on the cheek. "Night Leo, you coming C.J?"

"Yeah I just have to go back to my office then I'm headed home. Not that my body will know what to do when it's put in bed before midnight. I think I'll join you here tomorrow."

"Kay drive safely I think I told Donna two."

"Kay see ya then."

Leo, C.J and Toby headed back in to the West Wing to gather their things while Sam leaded Mara to the parking area. The were almost at the door when Mara stopped.

"Damn I forgot about Killer. I'll be right back."

Mara was half way to the residence when Jed changed for bed in his robe meet her at the door. He handed her Killer and shook his head. "Forget something did we?"

"This is all your fault you know. You kidnapped him and feed me so I'd forget to take him home. You need a cat of your own. Where was he?"

"Curled up on our bed. I forget about the little guy myself until I went to climb in to bed and noticed a ball of fur leaning on my pillow."

"He gets tired and heads for a bed which is exactly where I'm headed too. See you tomorrow."

"Ah yes Donna's excellent shopping adventure in you garment boxes. Night Killer you're welcome in my White House anytime buddy. It's your mistress I'm not so sure about." Jed teased.

Mara chose to ignore Jed and simply walked away to met Sam back at the exit door.

"Where was he?"

"Laying on Jed's pillow. You know I think I'm going to get Jed a cat for Christmas."

"You might want to check with Ron first then Abbey. A cat will set off all kinds of motion sensors in this place. Whoa now you have me doing it."


"Calling Mrs. Bartlet Abbey. If I call the President Jed one day you are in big trouble."

Mara left a soft kiss on his lips, "My middle name is Trouble Samuel, you better get use to it."

"Cause bad is good right?"

"By George I think he's got it. Home James"

"I see your chauffeur is just pulling up now. Think you can manage to not get Donna in to any trouble for the fifteen minute drive to my place?"

"Sam bite me!"

"Yup I recognize that tone as a sign of a tired about to become grumpy Mara."

"Sam what the hell are you talking about?"

"Cheryl sent me a huge file attachment that she thought I'd need. Sort of an instruction manual for handling you. I only had time to read the first ten pages but when I stopped laughing and picturing you in said situations I started committing her advice to memory."

"Oh really, how sweet of her.(She's dead meat when I get my hands on her.) So what should you do in this situation?"

"Get you home as soon as humanly possible and if you had to work in the morning set your alarm since you'd probably forget to."

"I always remember to set my alarm I just forget to activate it occasionally."

"Yup it's hard to lean over to that huge digital alarm clock and push a button once to the right." Sam laughed.

"Shut up before I decide to spend the night on Donna's couch."

"Mara the digital numbers on your clock are like 2 inches."

"Hey is it my fault I'm blind as a bat without my contacts in? I realize the numbers are huge and the clock is like ten inches from my bed but I can't see more than four inches away from my face."

"Wow you're that blind?"

"Yup, why do you think you didn't see me taking my contacts out that first night? I was in a strange place where I didn't know how everything was laid out. I sleep with my lenses in until I get use to my surroundings. My eyes kill the next morning but I already have way too many scars on my body from bashing in to things."
"Doesn't it freak you out to wake up in the morning and not be able to see? "

"Yeah but I got use to the fact that the world is one big fuzzy blob until I put my glasses on or my lenses in."

"How long has your sight been so bad? "

"I had to get glasses when I was ten and every year I needed a stronger prescription. I was allowed to get contacts when I was 16. I loved the freedom they gave me so much I'd wear them from the second I got up till the second I was ready to actually sleep. By 18 my eyes got so lazy, Dani could tell you exactly what I did to my eyes, that I was not only severely nearsighted but farsighted as well."

"Here I thought my sight sucked."

"Honey compared to me you're just a geek who likes to wear glasses." Mara laughed.

"Hey you two finish the conversation at home. I'm trying to make it home before ten on a Friday night!" Donna yelled out her window.

"See you in fifteen."

"Not if I see you first." Mara teased as she walked over to Donna's car.

Donna waited for Mara to fasten her seat belt and steady Killer on her lap before she pulled out of the parking lot. After Mara assured her Killer knew to stay away from the driver and their feet Donna relaxed.

"So what the heck were you two gabbing about?"

"My assistant sending Sam an owner's manual for me and the fact that I'm blind as a bat."

"An owner's manual? That's cute."

"Oh yeah real cute, I need to get my hands on it so I can figure out how I'm going to kill her. Sam said the first ten pages were too funny and sounded just like me."

"Hmm there goes your aura of mystery."

"Tell me about it. I also don't think Sam really needs to know that if I say yeah, yeah I'm not really listening versus yada, yada which means I'm listening but I could care less. I think he should figure these things out for himself in like thirty years." Mara laughed.

"You're right Cheryl betrayed the Sisterhood by taking the fun out of it for you."

"You should sick C.J on her." Donna said at the same time Mara said. "I'll sick C.J on her."

Both of them burst out in a laughter that lasted all the way to Sam's apartment. Donna helped them bring all the boxes in and left with just enough time to get her home before ten if most of the street lights cooperated with her. Sam locked the door, pulled the chain lock across and wrapped his arms around Mara who was standing in the living room surrounded by boxes.

"Welcome home Mara." He said softly.

Mara sighed contentedly, "I love you Sam."

Sam didn't say a word he simply held her a little closer and let Mara take her time to mentally adjust to her new home. There was one thing he quickly learnt about Mara that Cheryl didn't need to point out. She simply had to set her frame of mind before she could do anything.

Mara's mind started to wander but she didn't care since her thoughts were of cold winter nights snuggled by the fire in the mansion's master bedroom. She was a reading a report wrapped in Sam's arms while he was reading his own report that was balanced on the back of the couch.

"Penny for your thoughts?" He whispered.

"You, me, a roaring fire on a cold winters night, a security brief and a gun control bill."

Sam sighed contentedly, "I can't wait."

(Finally someone who not only understands me but loves me for it. It doesn't get any better than this.) They both thought.

Chapter 19



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