Title: Miami Heat
Spoilers & Disclaimers: It's based on previews for "Good Morning, Miami," "CSI: Miami," and news about late S4 "West Wing." I do not own any of those shows mentioned. Does this cover all the bases?
Summary: He did everything right, but somehow, he still managed to screw it up.
Archives: Please take it if you want it.
FB: Would be most appreciated, since this is not my usual thing email@example.com
Notes: For once, it is *not* J/D! Amazing, I know. It's actually S/A. Thanks to Julia for the inspiring comment, "He's moving to Miami to do some lawyering. Why Miami? Everyone's going to Miami this year." And for the beta job. My apologies to anyone if the Spanish is a bit off.
"What is it about me, Ainsley? I'm fairly attractive. I'm smart. I'm funny. So why can't I get women? The two women I've been attracted to in the past year have both turned out to be conflicts of interest. Though a news director and a hairdresser is probably a better match than a lawyer and a witness for the other side," he mused. Cliff looked up from his sandwich and noticed that Ainsley wasn't even paying attention. She was staring out into space, a contemplative look on her face. Her food had barely been touched, a sure sign of trouble.
He snapped his fingers in front of her. "Earth to Ainsley Hayes." The finger snapping seemed to do the trick. She looked up at him. "Did you hear anything I've said?"
"I'm sorry, Cliff. I've had a lot on my mind." She shook her head to clear her thoughts and really focused on him. "Smart. Funny. Attractive. You are," she agreed.
"So why do I have so much trouble with women?"
"I do not know."
"And why aren't you dating?"
"The men in Florida are just so " She let her words trail off, a distant look on her face.
"Gay? Old?" he supplied.
"Different," she corrected. "I guess I miss DC. I miss the White House."
"You can't miss it that much," he stated. "I know you you love your new job. I see the sparkle in you eyes when you talk about it. I see the way you love to outwit the suspects by revealing that you speak fluent Spanish."
She got that wistful look in her eyes again and Cliff was left to wonder about her preoccupation.
At the mention of her fluency in Spanish, Ainsley's thoughts immediately turned to Sam. She remembered the first time he'd spoken the language to her. He'd come down to her new office to ask her about some issue or other. She had just ended a boring date and had returned to the White House to finish up some paperwork. But instead of working, she was staring out the window at the night sky, dreaming. She didn't know how long he had been standing there, watching her, until she'd turned and he'd spoken softly, "Puedes ayudarme, hermosa?" She'd been surprised at his fluency. Later, as their relationship progressed, it had become their private ritual, speaking the language for the beauty and the poetry of the sounds, making it their own private code. "Sam used to woo me in Spanish," she mused aloud
"Ah. It's not the White House then; it's the man," he teased.
"It is not," she lied. Cliff saw through her lie, but decided not to pursue it. When she spoke again, it was to ask him about his love life. "Tell me about this woman, the one you boinked."
"Bonked," he corrected with mock anger. "And she's a hairdresser at the station..."
"Sam, what the hell are you doing here at midnight?"
Sam looked up from his laptop to see Josh lounging in his office doorway. "Working?"
"I'm the workaholic who's here at all hours of the night," Josh commented. "You should be home, or on a date, or I don't know! But you shouldn't be here."
"Like you're still here? Why aren't you out on a date?" Sam asked.
Josh sighed. "I tried the dating thing with Amy, remember? It didn't work out. And Donna well, never mind."
"Ah. Donna. That explains it."
"Yeah." He waved away Sam's sympathetic look. "So... why are you still here?"
"I can't sleep."
"You can't sleep?"
"I go to bed and I lay there, but I can't sleep. I haven't gotten more than two consecutive hours of sleep since... I don't know when."
"Since Ainsley left?" Josh guessed.
"Yeah," he admitted.
"Call her. It's not like she's on another planet. She's in Miami. Though, come to think of it "
"Shut up." His tone was affectionate, but Josh got the hint and turned to go.
"'Kay. Call her, Sam," he suggested again as he thumped the doorjamb on his way out.
Silently, Sam watched him go.
Sam sat in his office and wondered where everything had gone wrong.
It had started so simply. He'd been working on the wording for the Alaskan oil drilling speech and wanted to clarify one of the legal points. He had automatically thought to ask Ainsley. He'd walked down to her office and pushed the door open to find her sitting behind her desk, staring at the night sky. She was dressed in a strapless black dress, her blond hair cascading down her back. He had stared at her transfixed, amazed at how beautiful she looked. He had spoken the words before he could stop himself.
She turned to him in surprise. "I didn't know you spoke Spanish."
He had the grace to blush. "Something I picked up when I lived in California. It helps if you know the local language."
"Cómo interesa! Lo hablo también." She had smiled at him, and he felt his heart lurch a little at the sight.
"What are you all dressed up for?"
"Oh, I had a date. Not a particularly good one," she laughed self-consciously. "I came back here to finish some work, but wound up looking at the monuments. The view from my office window is spectacular."
They sat and chatted for a few minutes until she had announced the need for a Fresca. He'd laughed and accompanied her to the mess in her search. It was late before either of them realized that they'd spent the night talking and hadn't gotten any work done.
Soon, evenings like this became a routine for them. Every time he had a question about legal issues, he would go to her. They'd start debating the issue and then Ainsley would declare that she was hungry, or thirsty, or both. They'd wind up in the mess for hours on end, discussing everything and anything.
Eventually, he gave up the pretense of needing her professional help; he admitted to simply enjoying her company. He nervously asked her to join him for dinner. She eagerly accepted. He ventured to kiss her for the first time as he left her at her front door later that night. It was simple and sweet, but held promises of deeper passion.
He remembered the first time they slept together. Always the consummate gentleman, he had been reluctant to pressure her about sex immediately. But one night, as he was kissing her goodnight, she had grabbed his tie and dragged him inside her apartment. She whispered to him in a foreign tongue, enticing him with tender love words. He had responded in kind. Within a month, he was keeping an extra suit in her closet; she was storing lipstick and pantyhose in his bathroom.
He'd been amazed at his friends' lack of surprise about their relationship. Josh, usually so self-involved, said that he saw it coming for a long time. Sam had wondered how his friend could be so smart about other people's love lives and so stupid about his own. Toby, in his usual brusque manner, had simply said, "I'm glad for you. Now write me a draft for the healthcare speech." Donna had smiled and told him that they made the perfect pair two beautiful people, a contrast in looks and ideals, who somehow managed to connect on a deeper level. CJ had been slightly more realistic, warning, "Don't screw it up."
He did everything right, but somehow, he still managed to do just that.
"Ok, I've shared all my information about Dylan. It's time for you to tell me what happened with you and Seaborn," Cliff prodded.
"Nothing *happened*," Ainsley declared. "We were together, we broke up. End of story."
"Hayes, I've known you since we were at law school together. I know what you're like when you're in love, and you were crazy about this guy. So something must have happened to make you run away."
"I did not run away. I accepted a position with Miami's Crime Scene Investigation Unit. Therefore, I was required to move." She deftly maneuvered away from his question.
"So why did you take the job? I know you enjoyed working in Washington."
"And so I did. But I found myself unhappy working in the current Democratic establishment." She was rambling, a sure sign that she didn't want to discuss the subject, but Cliff pressed on.
"Then why not leave the White House, but stay in Washington? There were at least ten Republicans in the House that would have snapped you up immediately," he told her. "And that's why I believe this whole move had more to do with Seaborn than with your job."
"It *was* the job," she insisted.
"Ainsley, don't lie to me," he warned her.
"If you absolutely must know, I got scared," she confessed quietly, her eyes downcast. "We were getting too serious."
"You and Seaborn?" Cliff was amazed; they had seemed like the perfect couple. Even he had to grudgingly admit that for an uptight, Democratic speechwriter, Sam was an amazingly easy man to get along with. "So? If he made you happy...?"
"It wouldn't have worked, Cliff. We're too different."
They had been at dinner at their favorite restaurant, a little Italian place just outside the city. The food was always good and plentiful, something he had learned was a requirement around Ainsley. They had just finished the main course and were placing orders from the dessert cart when Ainsley had announced, "Sam, I accepted a job in Florida. I'm leaving in two weeks."
"What?" He was sure he had misheard her.
"You know Babish and I haven't recently been seeing eye to eye, so to speak, on a lot of things, some of which are very important to me. I've decided that it would be best if I left my current job as Associate Counsel," she'd told him.
"But Florida? Why? Why not something else in DC?" he'd asked. She had explained carefully, and at length, about the need for a fresh start, a new beginning in a new place. The one thing she failed to mention was his role in her decision. At the end of the night, Sam left her at the door to her townhouse, and returned to his apartment alone, feeling hurt and broken.
During the following two weeks, they had avoided each other at the White House. He no longer sought her out in her office to ask about issues; she resolutely refused to enter the communication's bullpen. Others began to notice the change.
Donna approached him one afternoon, mystified by the recent rumors she'd heard. "Ainsley told me she's moving to Miami, that she doesn't want to work here any more. What did you do to her, Sam?"
"Nothing," he told her sadly. "She told me about it the other night. The decision had already been made; I had nothing to do with it."
Donna had looked at him with pity and came around the desk to give him a hug. "I'll talk to her," she offered.
"No, please don't. It'll be best if you left it alone." Donna left him alone in his office, where he spent the afternoon going over everything that had been said, everything that had been done, trying to figure out why she was leaving.
The day before she left town, Sam stopped by her apartment. She held the door open for him and he walked inside. The walls were bare of any art or photos, all the knick-knacks and books were neatly boxed. The furniture stood quietly at the side of the room, waiting for the movers to pick it up in the morning.
She stared at him silently, tears in her eyes, as he simply asked, "Why?"
"I told you, I need to make a change."
"What about *us* Ainsley? I love you. Aren't I reason enough to stay?" His eyes begged her to say yes.
"I love you, too, but I don't think it's enough," she told him sadly. "We're too different; it won't work."
She opened the door and ushered him out. "I'm so sorry, Sam," was the last thing she said to him.
During the week following his late night discussion with Josh, Sam thought about what he had said. He should just call her. But every time he went to pick up the phone, he was assaulted with doubts. What if she didn't want to talk to him? What if there was no possibility that they could work their differences out? What if he missed her so much that once he heard her voice he got the crazy idea to move to Florida with her?
The last thought remained on his mind, and when he did pick up the phone, it was not to call Ainsley. Instead, he started making some calls to friends from law school and acquaintances he had met in DC. He discreetly made inquiries about Miami and the local infrastructure. With the information he received, he made a few phone calls to the offices of Florida's 17th Congressional District. And then he placed the hardest call of all.
"Ainsley, it's Sam," he announced without preamble when she answered.
"I thought that we agreed it was best if we didn't speak with each other," she said flatly.
"No, you made that decision and, like a fool, I agreed to it. It's time I stopped letting you do that."
"What do you mean, Sam?"
"I mean, you made the decision to find a new job. You decided that we didn't have a future together. You decided to leave DC and move to Miami. I've let you dictate the terms of this relationship, but not anymore." He paused to take and deep breath, then softened his tone and continued, "I talked with some people at Congresswoman Meek's office. There's an opening on her staff coming up in the spring. They've promised to keep the post open for me if I can start by April tenth. Should I take the job, Ainsley?"
"It's not for me to decide."
"I'm making it your decision. Do you still love me?" he demanded.
He heard her gasp, then her shy, hesitant answer, "I'll always... care about you, Sam. But that doesn't mean that this will work."
"It doesn't mean that it won't," he countered. "We worked on opposing sides in high stress jobs while we were in DC, and it worked just fine. Then you got scared and decided that we didn't have a future. You never really gave us a chance to find out. So I'm asking again - should I take the job?"
"I can't let you leave the White House," she told him. "That was your dream. I won't let you give that up."
"The White House was Josh's dream, not mine. I just went along for the ride," he informed her quietly.
"And you won't regret it if you leave?"
"No. The only thing I'll regret is not being with you if I *don't* leave."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. I think I can do some good in Miami. I think, as a team, *we* can do some good in Miami. So what do you say, Ainsley? Should I take the job?"
"Yes. Te amo, Sam."
"Te amo. Siempre." And he knew that everything would be all right now.
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