Cold Blast - 3
"Who is she?" Bonnie asked as Mara and Sam rounded the corner laughing.
"I don't know everyone seems to like her except Josh." Ginger replied.
"She certainly doesn't dress like a politician."
"No she looks more like a model."
"Or a B movie actress." Bonnie chuckled.
"Ah Mara is in the building. Careful guys the President loves her and so do I." C.J said quietly from behind.
"Oh umm sorry C.J we didn't mean..."
"I know but FYI she's a Rhodes scholar and one of North America's finest political minds. She's the Canadian PM's chief of staff, deputy PM and pit bull all rolled in to one."
"Wow and Josh doesn't like her because?"
"She's smarter than him. She doesn't make mistakes that anyone knows about and she can do Lyman better than Lyman himself."
"Today will be fun we should microwave some popcorn and look for a front row seat."
"Save me some popcorn." C.J said with a grin before heading to her office.
Kathy heard laughter coming from Sam's office and did a double take when she noticed a pretty blonde sitting in his lap drinking out of his coffee mug. Does C.J know about this she wondered. Is Sam out of his mind was her second thought.
"Hey Kathy did everything work out yesterday?"
"Yes my sister's tests came back negative thanks for giving me the day off."
Mara found it highly amusing that Sam was carrying on a conversation with his assistant as if she wasn't sitting on his lap. She started to understand how Sam kept getting himself in trouble, he was involved in a little innocent fun and didn't realize other's would interpret it differently. Oh Sam how do I teach you why your wonderful naiveté is so dangerous in politics.
"Is there anything you need me to do?"
"Could you push back my one o'clock back a bit. I think I'll take a long lunch."
"Sam I'm having lunch with C.J. I guess you can join us if you don't mind girl talk."
"Why not I could gather future blackmail material on C.J."
"Sam you hang out with Josh too much. I thought you were the sweet one."
"Sweet Mara not stupid." Sam said with a grin. "Oh Sorry Kathy this is Mara Whitford as best I can tell she's the Prime Minister's Leo."
"Close enough Sam. Nice to meet you. I don't usually go around sitting in men's laps by the way."
"No she bites them though." Sam said glibly.
"She bit Josh yesterday."
"In my defense he told me to."
"I see you are as whacko as the rest of the Senior staff. No wonder you look like you fit in."
"I'm whacko Kathy?"
"Oh don't get me started Sam. I'll go move that meeting for you."
"I like her Sam but she needs to loosen up."
"Yeah Donna's a lot more fun but Kathy is great. She's like that tough teacher who rarely let you get away with anything to make you a better student."
"Speaking of Donna think I'm going to go talk to her and irritate Josh so you can get some work done."
"I'll catch up with you for lunch." Sam let Mara get up and held on to her hand and kissed it.
"See you later Cutie."
Mara wandered over to the bull pen and found Donna typing away talking to her computer.
"Are you losing your mind Donna or do you have a voice recognition program?"
"Huh? Oh Mara hi, no I'm plotting Josh's demise."
"What did he do this time?"
"Apparently I'm doomed to spend yet another Saturday working."
"I'll get you out of it. How many Saturdays have you worked in the last two months?"
"Six and a half."
"Donna! I can see a spine in your back use it."
"Hey how do you think I got that Saturday off. I told Josh I had a job interview."
"That shut him up fast enough I'm sure."
"Oh yeah it was five on a Thursday night so he sent me home early. You know Lyman's version of early: the time you are suppose to leave every work day. He took me out for lunch on Friday and swore he'd try to not bother me on Saturdays. I got that Saturday off and he only called me in at two the next Saturday."
"Oh yeah he tried real hard." Mara laughed.
"You know what it's like Mara."
"All too well but I can count the Saturdays I've spent in my office all year on one hand. I've stubbornly left work at midnight Friday but I won't work weekends."
"Have any positions open?"
"You'd have to leave Josh Donna."
"That isn't necessarily a bad thing." Donna said with a big grin.
"What did he say last night, you looked quite happy when you left. What did you two do?"
"Josh drove me home."
"OK now I want to hear the real scoop not the press version."
"We rented a movie and watched it at my place. It was fun Josh whined about my movie choice until I actually turned the movie on. We stuffed ourselves with popcorn and I woke up in his arms this morning ."
"Sounds like a good date. Personally I think plotting his demise is fun but why are you playing my favourite game?"
"He made me stand out in the cold for fifteen minutes. He thought both of us showing up together wouldn't be wise. I pointed out the fact that I always beat him in and he said he was too important to stand around in the cold for fifteen minutes. If it wasn't for me the man would be trying to find his way out of his office." Donna said in a huff.
"So where is Deputy Downer now?"
"He's in with Leo. Hey who told you?"
"Ah, you and Sam were hitting it off really well last night."
"Sam Seaborn is a very interesting man."
"Care to elaborate on that statement?"
"He makes a very comfortable pillow too."
"Yeah he does."
"Donna when were you...."
"When Josh was shot and the doctors told us he'd live everyone left except for me. Sam came back about fifteen minutes later and offered to drive me home. I couldn't leave Josh so Sam pulled a big chair in to his room and we shared it. I woke up in his lap resting my head in the crook of his neck. How did you end up using him as a pillow?"
"I moved over in my sleep to get more comfortable. I woke up on top of him this morning and I didn't want to move."
"Ah well I hope your intentions towards Sam are good. I'd hate to hate you."
"Yes my intentions are good Donna. I think your concern is sweet too."
"I like Sam he's always been good to me."
Mara's cell phone started ringing and she pulled it out of her purse. "Whitford."
"Hey brat where do you want me to leave your tickets?"
"I don't know."
"I didn't think it was that difficult a question to answer. I was going to courier them to you but I figured you'd be on a plane to DC when they arrived."
"I'm in DC now. In the White House actually."
"Ah planning a coup?"
"No but wouldn't that be a kick"
"Interesting yes, but I like Bartlet."
"So do I but I'd do a better job." Mara laughed.
"I could have the tickets sent to your hotel."
"Umm no I'd have to face the desk clerk."
"Mara how many card keys have you lost this time?"
"Six and stop laughing."
"You are hopeless."
"I know, thank goodness I'm cute or I'd be in trouble. Send them to the White House Attention C.J. Cregg."
"You're bringing C.J. with you I hope."
"I don't know you flirt with her too much."
"Oh like you don't flirt with me."
"Can I help it if I see you and the flirt in me goes crazy? I know you are happily married but a little harmless flirting never hurt anyone. Can you send me three sets?"
"Sure. I'll see you Saturday night I got an interview in five."
"K thanks Jon I'll see you Saturday."
Mara had a big grin on her face as she dropped her phone back in to her purse. "Donna you free Saturday night?"
"Yes I have no social life."
"Cool want to go see Bon Jovi with me?"
"Oh my God are you kidding! I wanted to go so bad but they sold out before I could get tickets and Josh said he couldn't get me in. Personally I think he didn't want me that close to Jon Bon Jovi."
"You'll have to tell Josh you found someone with better connections and more clout than him. Mention that he couldn't get you plain old tickets and now you have VIP tickets and an all access backstage pass. Be sure to tell him I'm your someone."
Donna let out a little scream and gave Mara a big hug. Donna's scream attracted Josh's attention and he quickly whipped around the corner to see what the commotion was all about.
"I draw the line at terrorizing my staff Mara."
"Does Donna look like she's in pain? Take a good look Josh I'd say the look on her face is one of pure bliss. "
"I'll second that. Thank you so much Mara."
"Anytime Donna I'm happy to do it. You deserve it."
"Deserve what?" Josh demanded.
"A big fat raise, weekends off and tickets to Bon Jovi. Mara about that job offer..."
"No, no I absolutely forbid you from taking any job with Mara."
"You forbid me?" Donna said mockingly
"Umm I think I'll leave you two alone." Mara disappeared and headed for C.J's office.
"Hey Mara where were you?"
"Talking to Donna and apparently I offered her a job. I remember offering her Bon Jovi tickets and a way out of working Saturday but I have no jobs to offer."
"Ah she's just messing with Josh's head. She's going to get Saturday off for herself. Just think of a position so you can draw this out and torture Josh further."
"Cool that I can do. So you coming with me Saturday?"
"I don't know you always get so snippy at me backstage. It's not my fault I'm charming."
"Oh please you bat your eyelashes, talk about the Democratic way and he forgets I exist."
"How can he forget you exist you are hanging off him!"
"I don't hang off him!"
"Fine you wrap yourself around him."
"Look are you coming or not?"
"I'm coming someone has to protect Jon from your boa hold."
"Then I have to save him from being bored to death by a giraffe."
"You and what army blondy?"
"This conversation has degenerated to Josh level I'm out of here. See ya for lunch Stretch I'm going to bug Toby."
"He's on the hill."
"Then I'll go bug Leo."
Mara was just outside Leo's office when the door opened and Leo grinned at her. "Hey gorgeous I was just coming to look for you."
"Well you found me handsome what can I do for you?"
"The President would appreciate seeing you now so he can have an early lunch with Abbey."
"I'm busy at the moment."
"Making Josh's life a living hell doesn't count Mara. Get your butt in there Missy."
"Why does he want to see me anyway?"
"I honestly don't know but I bet if you go in there and talk to him you'll find out."
"Leo you know I hate being handled."
"Yeah but it's fun watching your face bunch up like that. Now get in there."
"I think I'll recommend he fire you." Mara teased.
"Oh please do, I could go on a vacation and get some sleep."
"In your dreams Leo you wouldn't know what to do with 24 entire hours off."
"I might just surprise you."
"If I believe that I suppose there is a nice piece of swamp land in Florida you'd like to sell me."
"How about the entire state, six months of the year you can't turn without bumping in to a pale faced Canadian as it is." Leo teased.
"Get me Disney World and I'll think about it." Mara giggled.
"Margaret get me Mickey Mouse on the phone." Leo deadpanned.
"What?" Margaret got up and walked towards Leo. As soon as she noticed Mara she knew Leo was just joking.
Mara and Leo were still laughing a minute later when Margaret returned. "I've got Mickey on one, Pluto and Goofy on two and Ariel wants to know why you haven't returned her calls."
"I'd call Ariel back pronto Leo I hear she can be a old sea hag if she doesn't get her way." Mara winked at Leo before taking the few short steps that placed her in front of Mrs. Landingham's desk.
"Hello Mara you can go right in."
"Thanks Mrs.Landingham." Mara opened the door to the oval office and gave the President an impish grin. "What da ya want?"
"Hey brat, have a seat."
"You are the second person to call me a brat today and I don't know why."
"No he calls me gorgeous which I think is more appropriate."
"Think it could be the fact that you look like a school girl today?"
"The other person was on the phone."
"So why did you want to see me? Want to place another order?"
"Actually Mara I've been asked to talk you in to accepting a new job."
Mara's jaw dropped and she looked at Jed trying to figure out if he was teasing. His face was very serious ."Is it with you?"
"No apparently I can't hire you or charge you with treason." Jed quipped trying to ease the look of fear in her eyes. "It's that Canadian thing again."
"Well it can't be a press job, they don't like me very much."
"No, Mara for the record I think you'd do a damn fine job which is why I agreed to help persuade you in to accepting."
"Jed just spit it out please so I can say no and you can go have lunch with your wife."
"Mara the Canadian Ambassador to the United States is retiring in January. Your country is calling you to serve the question is will you?"
"Me an Ambassador? You've got to be joking, don't they have to be politically correct?"
Jed tried to hold back the grin on his face as he pictured Mara loose on the diplomatic scene.
"I'm serious Jed some smarmy Eastern bloc diplomat will say something and I'll smack him upside the head, tell him where to go in no uncertain terms and I'll be out so fast my head would spin. I can't even nibble my tongue let alone bite it. NATO will forever be on high alert protecting both of our countries every time I open my mouth. No it will never work. Me as Ambassador would be like one long press briefing given by Josh."
Jed couldn't' help it, he started laughing heartily. "Now Mara..."
"I'm serious even you can see the potential for disaster which is why you are cracking up."
Jed took a few deep breaths and managed to contain his laughter to a grin. "Mara do you really think Jean Luc would put you in the position to commit career suicide? He wants you in an important high profile diplomatic position so he can help you be Prime Minister in the near future. Ambassadorships carry a lot of political weight if they are important ones."
"Mara you'd be just down the road from me. I know you'd miss Ottawa but here you'd have Abbey, Zoey, C.J, Leo and I in your corner. You'd get to see Sam all the time not to mention a great Georgetown Mansion. Think about it Mara you'd get to shake up the diplomatic core and set the political tempo for the 21st century. Believe me they could use a good hell raiser to keep them in line."
"It would be nice to see you all but can you see me being part of an old boy's network of stuffy, boring, mostly powerless, self serving dimwits?"
"No Mara I can't. I see you as a trail blazing, sarcastic, brilliant, take no prisoners, kick butt political muscle flexor who'd change the entire world for the better given enough time. You'd have real power Mara." Jed could see Mara was mulling over his description. Mara loved power and the promise of it would be hard to turn down.
"So if I marched in here, which I should warn you would be the first thing I do and told you, no demanded you stopped testing nuclear devices over Manitoba you would?"
"I'm serious Jed I could be your worst nightmare. Are you willing to take that chance?"
"Call me crazy but yes I rather deal with a devil I happen to love and adore than one I don't know or trust."
"Thanks but you didn't answer my question."
"I guess you better accept the position and find out the answer for yourself."
"Spoken like a true diplomat."
"Thanks, think about it over the weekend and let me know what you've decided before you go back. "
"But think of the thrill of being sent an official letter from the Government of Canada announcing their new Ambassador. It would be like the Oscars: you wouldn't know until you opened the envelope."
Jed looked at the smug little smile on her face and knew her answer even though she wasn't so sure of it herself yet. "Whitford you are a brat."
"Thank you Sir."
"Go on get out of here so I can go see my wife."
"That is none of your business young lady. I'll see you on Sunday." Jed got up and left his office returning to the residence.
Mara stood up and walked over to the French door leading out to the rose garden lost in thought. She had just settled in the President's chair and crossed her legs resting them on his desk when the door flew open.
"Sir you have to stop Mara she can't steal Donna from me." The words were out of his mouth before he noticed the long shapely legs resting on the President's desk.
"Josh civilized people knock before they enter a room." Mara quipped.
"Dear God is my nightmare never going to end?"
"Have a seat Josh."
"I don't need your permission to sit down and who said you could sit there?" Josh barked as he took a seat.
"I did so deal with it. You know if you treated Donna better you wouldn't have this problem."
"I treat Donna fine."
"Josh making her work six and a half of the last 8 Saturdays isn't fair or fine. It shouldn't take job offers for you to give her a day off Josh."
"Just because you can't get everything done doesn't mean Donna should be hanging around here to nine or ten every night. My assistant doesn't care if I'm drowning in paper work she'll give me an extra hour then she's gone. Josh, Donna could get a job anywhere for big bucks with normal hours and wicked benefits. Yet she stays with you which I believe makes her the most insane senior staffer. You might not be able to pay her what she's worth but you could make it up to her in other ways."
"Like would it have killed you to get her Bon Jovi tickets? I know Jon personally he's a big democrat he wouldn't have said no to a request from the White House. He likes C.J. she would have had tickets in her hand by the end of the day. You didn't even try did you?"
"Look I was going to then I got busy and forgot and Donna asked me like a week later if I had any luck and they were sold out. I guess I should have gone to C.J and asked for help."
"You guess right. Oh and Josh never leave her standing out in the cold again or she will quit on you."
"Think if I give her Saturday off and take her to dinner tonight she'll forget all about you?'
"I'm impossible to forget Josh but I think she'll forget about my job offer for the time being."
"True nightmares are hard to forget." Josh said with a big grin.
"You're welcome now leave."
Josh got up and turned before he closed the door completely. "I'm notifying Secret Service there is an intruder sitting at the President's desk you have about twenty seconds to move."
Mara stuck out her tongue and got Mrs. Landingham on the intercom. "Hi Mrs. L. please tell Joshua to mind his own business."
"I already did dear."
Mara put her hands behind her head and reclined a little further down in the chair. She looked around the Oval Office and wondered if she really wanted to see Josh on a weekly basis. Big pro for staying in Ottawa she thought and started making a mental list of pro's and con's. The list didn't get very far as the comfortable position and silence worked quickly on Mara who was asleep in fifteen minutes.
Thirty minutes later.
"Hey Sam have you seen Mara I'm suppose to be having lunch with her?" C.J asked.
"No, last I saw her she was on her way to see you. I'm joining you by the way."
"Like hell you are!"
"But Mara said I could."
"No offense Sam but this was a girls lunch and contrary to what my friend thinks she doesn't always get what she wants."
"Well you have to find her to eat with her. Here's the deal if I find her I join you, if you do you can be mean and leave me to starve."
"Deal." C.J. headed off to find Leo and ran into Margaret a few seconds later.
"Margaret have you seen Mara?"
"Thanks Margaret." C.J rounded the corner to the Oval Office and noticed Mrs. Landingham heading to lunch.
"If you're looking for Mara dear she's asleep at the President desk."
"What was she reading one of Sam's speeches?" C.J quipped. "Thank you Mrs. Landingham."
C.J pushed the door open and wished she had a camera to capture the scene before her. She quietly stepped in to the outer office and called Carol asking her to run her Polaroid camera over to the Oval Office. A minute later Carol was standing at the open door to the Oval office.
"I couldn't find yours C.J. but I have a few shots left on my camera."
"That will do can you take a couple of pictures of Mara for me."
"What's she doing behind His desk? She's not suppose to be there."
"Carol for some reason I'm still not sure of The President let's Mara do what ever she dang well feels like. I think she's blackmailing him but I haven't' figured out with what yet."
Carol laughed before setting up her camera and shooting off a few pictures of Mara asleep in the Oval Office.
"Thanks Carol, go for lunch and if you could drop the roll off in a one hour photo place and get doubles I'd be forever grateful. Grab some money out of my wallet."
"That's OK C.J. I have money on me I'll let you know how much it cost."
C.J. closed the door behind her and sat down opposite the President's desk resting her feet just to the right of Mara's. She waited to see if Mara would sense anyone's presence but when she was still peacefully sleeping five minutes later C.J. cleared her throat loudly. C.J was expecting Mara to jump to attention but she should've known better. Mara simply opened her eyes, frowned at C.J. and grumbled what.
"You're incredible you know that?" C.J asked sarcastically.
"Why thank you."
"Come on I don't have all day for lunch and Sam is not coming with us end of story."
"Fine where do you want to eat?"
"We can walk over to Kinkead's."
"I don't stand in lines either. So what did the President want?"
At that moment the door flung open to the resounding "Ah huh" of Josh and Sam.
"Well what do we have here?" Josh asked suspiciously.
"Fine I got rid of Jed and now C.J and I are in power. Keep your mouth shut and you can go about your business, say a word and I'll have you shipped to Siberia."
"Very funny. I see you found her. Josh want to go to lunch since I'm not allowed to dine with C.J and Mara."
"Sorry can't I'm taking Donna out to lunch."
"What about Toby?" C.J. suggested with an evil grin."
"No thank you, I'd rather eat alone."
"Oh all right Sam you look so pathetic I'm sure Donna wouldn't mind if you joined us."
"What in tarnation is going on in here?" Leo asked from the door.
"Hey Leo, C.J. and I were just figuring out where to have lunch I don't know what those two are doing here."
"Oh sorry Leo." She said as she quickly took her feet of the President's desk.
"What?" She asked impishly.
"Girl you are going to be the death of me yet."
You don't know the half of it, Mara thought as she slowly changed positions and stood up. Leo shook his head at Mara and swatted her arm as she walked by him. "Out!" Leo yelled to Sam and Josh who were gone in a flash.
"Why me, why me." Leo muttered on his way back to the office.