Cold Blast - part 21
Sam was lost in thought, wishing he could go back in time 24 hours and still be at the Atlantis. He'd trip, fall and hurt himself just enough that Toby would have told him to just go home for the day. The feeling that the world was about to spin off its axis would have gone away and been someone else's problem. Sam wanted to pull up the covers over his head and play possum when he realized, not only was Mara awake before him, but dressed and working on her computer. She told him she had woken up and couldn't go back to sleep, so she finally got up and decided to be productive. She'd made coffee and scrambled eggs and Sam sat down and had a pleasant breakfast. Mara gave him a tender kiss when he left and told him to have a good day. He told her he loved her and closed the door. Then Sam started worrying. He was sipping on an extra grande Starbucks coffee when he noticed Leo sitting in his office. (Mom, I don't feel too good. Can I stay home from work today?)
"Good Morning, Sam."
"From where I'm standing, Leo, there is nothing good about it."
"Well, you didn't spend the night on Toby's couch or seek refuge at Josh's, so it couldn't have been that bad."
"Leo, it was worse than I imagined."
"Sam, what did Mara say?"
"Maybe she doesn't know...."
"Oh she knows, Leo. She knows I was in the meeting too. How, I don't know, but trust me, she knows."
"Why couldn't you have sent Josh to this meeting? Mara has no problem being furious with him."
"Sam, if I would have sent Josh, this would have become a battle royal. Josh trying to beat Mara and Mara crushing Josh like a bug. Mara trusts you above everything else. She might want to squash you some days, but above all she loves and respects you. Josh, she is merely trying to tolerate for your sake."
"Actually, they are starting to grow on each other, Leo. Have I mentioned how I hate valid points?"
"Don't we all. So what happened last night?"
"I walked in figuring there was no way I'd be feed and Killer would probably be the only one happy to see me. Killer leapt up on to the counter to say hello and Mara looked up from a book of fabric swatches. She asked me how my day went and I told her it sucked. She said something along the lines of 'too bad' and I went to change. When I came back, I asked how her how day went and she said it was interesting, that she had her first assignment and that she was making it her pet project. Leo, you should have seen the look on her face. I wanted to call Jacobs up and say be afraid, be very, very afraid and just quit while you still have a pulse."
"I sort of figured that would be her reaction."
"Leo, what scares me is that dinner was made and Mara was pleasant, too pleasant if you know what I mean. If she's forcing herself to be neutral at home it can only mean that pent up fury has to go somewhere. Mark my words, she will bite someone's head off before this is all over."
"It will probably be my head," Leo commented wryly.
"Leo, this complaint is bogus and the President will see it just as easily as I did. The problem is going to be a Public Relations one for us."
"You mean the White House telling them to drop it or it won't get our support and then Mara is named Ambassador. It won't take long for the fact that she's living with a Senior Staffer and close personal friends with the President and First Lady to come out."
"Yeah, it will look like she's getting preferential treatment, not to mention that the only reason Mara was named to the post was because of her personal connections. She'll murder anyone who suggests she was used as a pawn."
"We can't let that happen. Mara looks horrible in prison orange," Leo quipped.
Sam chuckled, "So, what do we do?"
"We let Mara take care of Mara. I'm sure the thought has already crossed her mind. As for this administration, when it is brought up, C.J. will cut them off at the path with a simple, straight forward answer."
"Don't worry Sam, no one will hurt Mara on my watch," C.J. said from the door. "When I heard where you went yesterday, the spinning began. I still think it's a good idea for the two of you to keep a low profile though."
"'Kay. Did Mara ask you...."
"No Sam, I haven't spoken with her since she went to take a nap on Air Force One. I tell Mara office stories, not policy decisions," C.J. replied quickly.
"C.J., I didn't mean to suggest...."
"Yes you did Sam, but I'm in a forgiving mood and I know you were implying unintentionally, right?"
"Umm yeah," Sam said sheepishly.
"It won't be a walk in the park, kids, but we'll survive. I'll see you at Staff."
"Walk with me."
Sam followed C.J. down to the mess for coffee and bought her a croissant when C.J. told the cashier 'Spanky' was paying. She led Sam over to a corner table and sat down, taking a long slow sip of her coffee.
"So was Mar pissed or cool as a cucumber?"
"What do you think?"
"You were expecting a pissed Mara?"
"More like a vengeful Mara," Sam admitted.
C.J. broke out laughing while Sam sat by wondering if she'd finally lost her marbles. After a few minutes, she managed to compose herself and looked at him.
"Oh, Sam, softwood lumber isn't big enough to get Mara that riled up. She is passionate about Canadian autonomy. Open boarders and one North American currency set her off like a Roman candle. Never get her started on the topic of Quebec Separation, cause she's like a dog with a bone who won't give up until she'd verbally beaten you in to submission. If you agreed with the Department of Commerce, you'd be in trouble, but you didn't, so relax, mi compadre."
"You know, even with the help from Cheryl, she's a tough cookie to crack. I guess she wasn't kidding when she said she was an enigma."
"She's a mystery all right, but for the most part her motivation is easy to figure out. Don't worry Sam, you'll figure her out in sixty or seventy years."
"So this lumber thing won't be a problem?"
"Nah, it'll be a blip. The important members of the press know who Mara is and frankly, I think she scares them. They won't dare suggest she was unqualified. Danny likes her, so he won't cause any trouble. I'm pretty damn good at my job Samuel. Have a little faith in me."
"I have faith in you, Legs. We all know we'd be dead without you. I just can't help worrying that's all."
"Legs? I guess I can live with that, Sammy the Seal."
"One of these days, I'm going to kill her for that moniker. Well, I better get back and do some work before staff."
"'Kay, I'm going to pretend I have nothing to do for another ten minutes or so. See ya up there."
Sam spent most of the day in various meetings and managed to leave shortly after seven. He stopped off at the corner store and walked in to the apartment to find Mara asleep on the couch holding Teddy. Killer was perched on the curve of her hip. Sam hung up his jacket and tie, pulled his shirt out of his pants and undid the top two buttons. He kneeled down beside the couch and tenderly kissed Mara. Her eyelids fluttered open as a smile spread across her lips.
"Hey, yourself. Why didn't you just go to bed?"
"I wanted to wait up for you. If you'll turn the oven on to 325, we'll have homemade pizza in 15 minutes."
"Yum. Your pizzas are great. I brought you something."
"Hand it over."
Sam shook his head. "You remind me of a five year old sometimes," he said as he handed her the brown bag.
Mara pulled out Sour Patch Kids, Fuzzy Peaches and CherryHeads. "Thanks Sam! What? Did you think I was being a sour puss or something?" Mara laughed.
"No, I just thought I'd stick to a theme."
"Well thanks. I'll make my self sick eating them all after dinner."
"You are a five year old, a stubborn one to boot. You can barely keep your eyes open, go to bed we'll have dinner in bed."
"Sam, I'll be asleep in fifteen minutes."
"So, I'll wake you up. Now go!"
Sam laughed when he noticed Mara was all ready dressed for bed and she looked adorable carrying her pillow and bear. When the oven timer went off Sam took the pizzas out, let them cool, then sliced it up. As he suspected, Mara was asleep, so he woke her up and settled in beside her to eat. Killer joined them and sat licking his lips until Mara was finished and left a few feta cheese crumbles on the plate for him.
"You spoil that cat rotten."
"I know, but I've noticed he has you well trained already. You walk in and move to feed him before you've even kissed me hello."
"I do, don't I."
"Uhuh, but I won't hold that against you. Don't forget, C.J. is eating here tomorrow night, so don't dilly dally at work."
"Yeah, she wanted to know what you were serving so I told her you never advise me of the evening menu. I just show up and eat it."
"She really likes my thyme chicken with wild rice and I think I'll make chocolate hearts with raspberry coulis."
"Oh, that sounds heavenly."
"It is and fairly low fat too. The chicken serves 6 so if you want to bring someone home for dinner be, my guest."
"Then I won't have leftovers."
"Sam, you've been hanging around me too long. You're getting greedy," Mara laughed.
"Your cooking is just too good. I bribed Kathy with your caramel brownie today. I pretended I only had one when I brought two. Hey, are there any left?"
"I don't know, you can go look. I want one if there are any left."
Sam came back with one brownie and a sad puppy dog face. Mara took the brownie out of his hand, took a big bite and then broke the remainder in half. Sam watched as Mara ate one half waving the other piece in the air. Sam pouted when she took a bite of the last half and Mara finally noticed him.
"That's the last brownie."
"Oh." Mara mumbled while she popped the last bite in to her mouth. "That was good."
"I wouldn't know, since some one didn't even give me a bite."
"Sam, I made 12, you ate 8 of them. I'm not moved."
"Obviously, since you didn't even offer me the tinniest morsel."
"It's called 'tough love', Samuel."
"It's called 'cruel and unusual punishment'."
"You are such a dork."
"You are an evil snark queen."
Mara's next sentence was obliterated by a long yawn. Sam picked up Killer so Mara could stretch her legs out. She hugged her bear and turned to face him.
"Not one morsel."
"Sam, get over it."
"I'm just saying...."
"I'm not listening. I don't care. I have no sympathy for you."
"You are so mean."
"Yes, it's an art form I've worked long and hard at to master and perfect. Good night, Sam."
"Good night, oh evil one." Sam bent down and left a soft kiss on Mara's lips
A week later Mara was basting a fifteen pound turkey, laughing as C.J. informed her that she was just eating vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner. Donna was playing with Killer and Sam, Josh and Toby were glued to the TV, watching the football game.
"Sam, you forgot the whipping cream. I need you to go to the store."
"Yeah, yeah, at half-time."
"Send Donna, she's not doing anything."
"Samuel, get off your butt and go this instant."
"Ha! Sam, she's whipped you," Josh snorted.
Mara left the kitchen, turned the TV off and gave Josh the evil eye. "You can go with him Josh."
"But...but I'm a guest."
"No, Josh, you're a pest. Now both of you go."
"How come Toby doesn't have to go?"
"I was smart enough to keep my snarky comments to myself. You'll never learn, Josh."
Josh and Sam left mumbling and groaning the entire time and went off in search of a store that was open. They found one on the other side of the White House and stood at the check out counter, watching the last five minutes of the second quarter.
"Girlfriend or fiancÚ?" The clerk asked.
"What makes you think there's a girlfriend?"
"Only they can order you out of the house during a game and you actually go. Once you're married, it doesn't work anymore."
"'Kay smarty, why am I here then?" Josh asked.
"You implied he was whipped or a kept man and she made you both go."
Sam laughed as Josh dropped his head. The clerk laughed and rung up the purchase. They made it back with minutes to spare and found the girls draped across the couch watching the game with Toby.
"Mara, your cream." Sam said as he shook it and placed it on the counter.
"Umm, Donna, you're in my spot."
"Your name wasn't on it, Josh. There's plenty of room on the floor."
"Oh, quit whining Joshua, it's very unattractive."
"Sam, since you're up, get me another beer?" C.J. asked.
When Sam returned, Mara gave him her place and sat on his lap. "Remember when the Cowboys didn't suck?"
"Ah, they always sucked. They just got lucky for a few years," Toby replied dryly.
Mara got up to fix the sweet potatoes and Sam pulled her in to their bedroom.
"Sam, what are you doing?"
Sam wrapped his arms around her waist and left a long, erotic kiss on her lips. Mara returned the kiss and rested her head on Sam's shoulder.
"I'm sort of sorry we have a room full of people to feed," Mara mutted.
"That's OK, they will eventually go home and we can spend all day tomorrow in bed."
"I love the way you think, Mr. Seaborn."
"Josh is going to have a snit when he realizes the sweet potatoes are spicy, not traditional."
"Yuck! How can anyone eat those with marshmallows? The thought alone turns my stomach. Josh will just have to deal with it."
"So, what's for dessert?"
"Pumpkin cheesecake and fresh gingerbread with whipped cream."
"Do you realize that since you've moved in, I've gained six pounds."
"Really? It doesn't show. I guess you better start hitting the gym again."
"What were you saying about having a visitor just when Josh walked in?"
"Oh, I baby-sit my cousin the second week of December every year while her parents take a vacation. Jenna is 6 going on 26, you'll like her."
"I like kids, so I'm sure we'll get along fine."
"We better get back out there before they assume we're having sex."
"Toby assumed it five minutes ago," Sam laughed.
"Hey! Aren't you doing a speech for the President for 'The American Teacher's Awards'?"
"Actually, I'm doing a speech for myself. I get to give it this year."
"Cool, you want to write my speech too?"
"Yup! Jean called me while you went out. They've added 10 recognition's for Canadian Teacher's and one of them was my high school history teacher, Mrs. Elliot. Disney's California Adventure, Sam."
"You are a 6 year old."
"Cotton Candy, giant Ferris Wheel, our picture taken with Tigger."
"Mickey shaped ice cream."
"Ah! Ha! See, you're as excited as I am."
"Well, now that I know you're going, I am."
"We'll have company, Jenna will be in town."
"Wow! A great weekend for her."
"Yeah, last year she spent the weekend at Jon and Dorthea's with me and the year before, we were in Paris."
"She's a well traveled little lady."
"She carries this cute little black purse with her passport and a pack of gum in it. She's so use to traveling with me, that if we were to just stay in Ottawa this time, she'd be disappointed."
Donna knocked on the door twice before opening it. "Mara, the turkey looks done and I'm starving. Can we eat now?"
"Donna, what would you have done if I was ravishing Mara on the bed?"
"Give me a break Sam, I knew you wouldn't be doing anything with us in the next room."
"Give me a hand Donna, and dinner will be on the table in ten minutes."
"Can I do anything?"
"Open and pour the wine, please."
After threatening Toby with death for commenting on her wine selection, they all settled down for a delicious turkey dinner. C.J. kept her promise to herself and only ate stuffing and vegetables, then proceeded to kick Josh hard underneath the table when he said 'Troy' tasted good and if he could have seconds. The strange looks on everyone's faces when Mara announced they were having pumpkin cheesecake were quickly replaced by moans of approval. Mara usually hated cheesecake, but she liked this one. The phone rang and Sam grabbed it.
"Happy Thanksgiving. Oh hi, Mrs. Bartlet, yes dinner was amazing. Mara's a great cook. Sure." Sam handed Mara the phone.
"Oh turkey, spicy sweet potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, corn, green beans, stuffing, gingerbread and pumpkin cheesecake. Yeah, the sauce you like. Sure we'd love to and I'll bring you a jar. I'll bring dessert if Toby and Josh don't go for a fourth helping. See you tomorrow."
"Dinner?" Sam asked.
"Nope. Lunch with Charlie, his sister and Zoey."
"'Kay, Donna would you cut me a piece of gingerbread and be generous with the whipped cream please."
After dinner, Sam suggested the guys do the dishes, since the girls helped with the meal. Toby was at the sink while Josh was still whining until Donna pinched his ear and threatened to pull him over to the sink. The girls settled down on the couch with coffee and made comments about Toby's unusual washing style and Josh's ignorance of letting the water drip off a plate before drying it. Mara started laughing when Sam mouthed that Josh was hopeless before sending him to get a dry dishtowel.
Mara got up to put everything away where it belonged, thanked the guys for not breaking anything and christened the huge pool of water on her counter 'Lake Toby. Sam sat down beside C.J. and Mara wondered why he sighed C.J.'s name. Five minutes later, Sam got up and headed to the bedroom and returned a few moments later.
"Blue, Sam? I don't think so."
"Yeah, C.J., blue do you want a pedicure or not?" Sam hissed.
"I'll have one, Miss Sammy," Josh snorted.
Donna tossed a pillow at Josh's head and told him he better pay attention cause he was giving her one in a minute. Toby looked at Mara with a 'please, don't ask me to do this' look.
"Relax, Tob. I'm good. How about I give you a neck massage instead."
"Hey, why does Toby...." Josh started to whine.
"Because Toby once again was smart enough to keep his comments to himself, Josh." Mara leaned over and whispered in to Toby's ear, "Tease Sam about this, Tobs and you're dead meat. Avez-vous compris?"
"Geez, Mara, I almost forgot to give you something." Donna hopped off the couch and went over to the closet, bringing a gift bag back with her. "This is from C.J., Toby, Josh and I to thank you for having us over and feeding us."
"Ah, thanks you guys, you didn't have to. For some strange reason, I enjoy your company."
Mara opened the bag and pulled out four small Mason Jar candles. Mara looked at the black wax first then noticed the small printed label reading licorice. She turned the lid and inhaled the deep black licorice scent. "Oh Donna, this is amazing. Where did you find these?"
"In a little craft store in Maryland. I bought myself some pink bubble gum ones."
Mara got up and lit all four candles, placing them around the coffee table.
"Wow, those do smell great," Josh commented as he carefully brushed blue nail polish on Donna's baby toe. "Where was this place Donna?" he asked her.
"I'd have to show you. I just know how to get there."
"If I buy you lunch tomorrow, would you take me up there?"
"Sure Josh. What's the rush?"
"My Mom's Birthday is December 6th and she loves candles."
"Donna, if they have anything that smells like an orange creamsicle, would you get me two?"
After the pedicures were completely dry and Toby got feed up playing charades, because Sam and C.J. were taking the game too seriously, everyone said good night and thanked Sam and Mara for having them over. Sam locked the door, collected the empty beer bottles and washed Mara's wineglass before retiring to the bedroom. Mara was already changed for bed and snuggled up under the covers. Sam changed and joined Mara, who promptly wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his chest.
"Thanks for the dishes, Sam. That was very sweet of you."
"You're welcome. You worked really hard to pull tonight off, so you deserved the break. What time do we have to be up?"
"Noon, Abbey said lunch was at one."
Sam left a soft kiss on her lips and started playing with her hair until they both drifted off to sleep.