Disclaimers: Everything belongs to Aaron Sorkin - I created nothing, own nothing and just borrowed his character for fun not profit.
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This is for Lesa - my way of saying thank you for all your help.
Ainsley rolled over and reached for the ringing phone. It was 2:00 a.m. and she had almost managed to doze off. "Please, not again," she thought, praying it wasn't going to be another one of those nights.
"You do look beautiful in blue satin," the raspy man's voice whispered at her and laughed before the line went dead.
"Go to hell, you son of a..." she said angrily slamming the receiver down. She tried the last number redial feature somehow knowing she would hear 'the last number to dial your line is not available.' Unfortunately, technology could be predictable. She lifted the receiver back up and dialled the police. "Sgt. Graham please," she held for a few seconds and then continued, "Sergeant, this is Ainsley Hayes, he's . . . he's called again." She looked down at her blue satin pajamas. "And somehow, I think he can see me." After hanging up, she went into her bathroom and changed into jeans and a T-shirt, deciding in the process she wasn't even going to try to sleep. On an impulse she grabbed the blue camisole and tap pants and threw them in the trash. "Why is this happening?" Ainsley asked herself in tears. "Why?"
The next day Ainsley was sitting at her desk rubbing her eyes when a package arrived for her. She ripped it open and couldn't stifle a scream. The cryptic message was pieced together from newspaper letters. "I LIKE RED EVEN BETTER!" A pair of baby dolls identical to the ones she'd worn to bed last night was inside. Only these were red and torn to shreds.
Sam Seaborn stormed down the hall toward her office ready to tear a strip off her. He'd left three voice mails this morning asking her to contact him ASAP. She hadn't returned the call yet and it was nearly 10:30 a.m. He needed the information for a meeting on the Hill at 1:00 p.m. He was annoyed. Was she avoiding him? He really didn't think that was it: they had developed a relaxed working relationship recently. He'd found her to be an insightful attorney and her counsel had proven invaluable over the past few months. He'd even found the guts to tell her that just the other day. So why hadn't she returned his call? They'd even been friendly enough to grab lunch together several times in the Mess. It was friendly, more than friendly. Sam wouldn't have called it dating but it felt like it was headed that way. He was watching the paper for a Gilbert & Sullivan that he could casually ask her to go to with him. He was intentionally trying to keep their relationship, or whatever it was developing between them, LIGHT. Had he done something a female would consider stupid yesterday? He racked his brain trying to remember but came up with a blank. The lights were on but her door was closed. Strange, she almost never closed the door. Sam reached for the handle and barged in ready to do battle. The two men in suits looked up startled by his presence. He didn't recognize them so it was unlikely they were White House Staff. Sam had a good memory for faces and he'd bet he'd never met these two before. He was dismayed by the snippet of conversation he'd overheard from the doorway.
"Miss Hayes, please think, usually a stalking victim has some knowledge of her stalker. Is there an ex boyfriend, someone you've turned down lately, someone you see casually every day..." one of them asked?
She was losing her cool. "I told you, six weeks ago when this started... I have no idea who this could be. I honestly don't know." She was close to tears.
"Somebody care to fill me in on what's going on here?" Sam demanded from the door. He fought an impulse to gather her into his arms and comfort her. "Ainsley, who are these men?"
"Detectives O'Connor and Matthews," O'Connor replied, showing Sam his ID. "And you are?"
"Sam Seaborn Deputy White House Communications Director." He focussed his attention on her. "Ainsley, what's going on?"
"Sam, it's nothing for you to be concerned about... "
"Ainsley, there are two Washington Police Detectives at the White House. In your office. That fact concerns me. Now, I want to know why." He didn't like the look on her face.
"Mr. Seaborn, how would you describe your relationship with Ms Hayes." One of the cops asked.
"Professional." He snapped at the officer. He didn't like the implications of what he'd overheard, "Ainsley?" Sam prompted her gently. His tone had softened considerably and his previous anger all but vanished. She wouldn't meet his eye.
"For the last six weeks," Detective Matthews said, "Ms Hayes has been receiving calls at very odd hours and some disturbing correspondence. I don't suppose you'd know anything... "
Sam glared at him. "No, this is the first I've heard of it." He turned to Ainsley, "which, considering the amount of time we spend together is a bit strange. Don't you think?"
"Sam, my personal life isn't important to the White House. Besides, I always felt safe at work." Ainsley still wouldn't meet his eye.
"The word 'felt' is past tense Ainsley, so what's changed today?" Sam asked. Now he was even more worried. He gently guided her face to meet his gaze. He didn't want her to be unable to face him. Ever. He wanted her trust. She sighed and then nodded to the Detective who showed Sam the evidence bag and explained what had been reported over the past six weeks. Sam couldn't believe she hadn't told him about it. "I'm ordering you Secret Service protection."
"SAM!" she thought that was overkill.
"This has been going on for six weeks? Some lunatic is stalking you, dammit. Other than calling in these guys what have you done? You haven't told any of your friends so we can keep an eye out... walk you to your car at night... support you... try to help you."
"Sam, this is the White House. It's the safest place in the world to work." Now she wished she'd told him sooner. She knew he had a protective streak but with everything that had gone on lately in his personal life she'd been reluctant to involve him in her problems. She wasn't naive, she knew he was aware of the intense chemistry between them too but neither one of them had been in a rush to pursue it. They had mutually, silently decided to let things develop slowly. Considering the fact that their professional lives were all consuming, it made sense not to rush things.
"Probably." He agreed. "But we're not taking any chances... " He turned to the officers. "I'm sure you can appreciate the White House would want you to exercise discretion, but, the Washington PD will have our full cooperation." He reached across her desk for the phone and dialled Leo's extension. "Margaret, I need to see Leo. Now."
Half an hour later they were in the Chief of Staff's office. "Why is this the first I'm hearing about this?" Leo said quietly. He didn't like this one bit. He looked at the two detectives.
"Up until this morning all Ms Hayes reported were nuisance phone calls and anonymous letters. There was no perceived threat until today."
"No threat? Somebody is obsessed with a young woman enough to anonymously send her flowers, perfume and intimate apparel and you guys don't find that threatening?" Leo was getting ugly. For her part Ainsley just hung back by the door. Sam stood very close but not touching her. Leo turned to Sam, "you ordered Secret Service protection I hope."
"Oh yeah." Sam said quietly. "And Donna's getting a room at the Hotel Washington, I don't want Ainsley taking any risks by going to her apartment alone. I'll go with her to help her pack."
"Sam, is all this really necessary?" Ainsley's voice was shaking. He turned to her. All of her was shaking. This time he couldn't help himself, he gathered her into his arms and held her close.
"Ainsley, with all the policy initiatives you and I have been working on lately you're privy to information a number of groups would like to get their hands on. We can't ignore the possibility of a political agenda here too. We can't risk anything happening to you." He was telling the truth. Well, a half the truth anyway. His brain kicked in a translation subroutine: "We" replaced "I" and the policy initiative stuff is just smoke. The facts hit him hard: He cared. He cared more than he was willing to admit even to himself.
Ainsley closed her eyes for a moment and felt herself relax in his embrace. "Sam? I didn't want this to affect my job. I don't want to give this guy that kind of power over me."
Sam said very quietly. "I understand. But sacrificing your safety isn't an option either." He was relieved she'd been able to find comfort in his arms, it felt so natural to hold her there, and now he tried to cheer her. "Come on, I'll buy you a Fresca and a donut then we can get your things from home." He glanced over to Leo and the two police officers. " We are done here, aren't we?"
Leo nodded affirmatively. As soon as Ainsley and Sam left he spoke again. "Detectives," he began, "The White House will not interfere in your investigation in any way. But, as a courtesy to the President, I want you to formally clear Mr Seaborn first. I understand you'll have to consider him a suspect especially when it's apparent he does care about her and she's oblivious to that fact. But I'm telling you now, he's not responsible for this. For everyone's sake, do it quickly so you can get on with locating the real lunatic."
"We'll begin interviewing Ms. Hayes' White House colleagues immediately." O'Connor replied. "Mr. Seaborn described his relationship with Ms Hayes as professional? What would your description be?"
"That would be my understanding of the nature of their association at this time." Leo McGarry was a consummate politician after all he'd had almost forty years practice.
"Mr. McGarry, is Mr. Seaborn in the habit of hugging all his staff?" O'Connor pressed the point.
"If he hadn't, I was going to. Gentlemen, I'll clear a meeting room for you." Leo knew this was serious. Just as he sensed Sam's feelings were.
Clearing Sam Seaborn took less than half an hour. "There goes the prime suspect," O'Connor said glancing at phone records and documents from the White House Travel Office. "Now what?"
"We dig." The other man said simply. "We look at all her habits, all her associates, past boyfriends, previous employment, hell, it could be the pizza guy. We dig."
Sam drove Ainsley to her apartment and waited in the living room while she packed some things. One Secret Service Agent waited in the lobby while the other stood guard in the hall. Sam glanced around the apartment, a converted loft with beautiful big windows and slat stair case separating the living spaces from the elevated bedroom area. The furniture was comfortable looking - over stuffed recliners and love seats combined with a glass coffee table and colourful cotton throws. It was cozy, warm and completely different from the formal antiques he'd expected to find in some century old stone house. He felt something warm and soft brush up against him. A beautiful Persian cat was purring madly and he reached down to pick it up. "What are you going to do about your cat?" He said rubbing the top of the animal's head.
"What cat - I have allergies?" she replied from the other room, then reappeared at the top of the stairs. She saw him holding the animal and dropped her suitcase. "Sam, that's not mine. How did it get in here?"
Sam immediately took a better look at the animal and the bow on its neck. He called the agent from the hall and handed the animal to him. Sam pulled out his cell and dialled Detective O'Connor's number. "It's Sam Seaborn. Miss Hayes has received another 'gift'. Yeah, the Secret Service Agent is checking it out now. He and I have both touched it. Somebody sent it her a cat."
The Agent removed a gift tag from the animal and passed it to Sam. Sam read it and tried to control his rage.
"What does it say?" Ainsley whispered from across the room.
"Nothing the Pulitzer Committee will have to consider." Sam snapped. Furiously, Ainsley crossed the room and grabbed the note. Like the others it had been cut from newsprint. "Ainsley, don't - please just let Agent Samuels deal with this until the Washington PD gets here..."
ONE BEAUTIFUL HIGH CLASS PUSSY DESERVES ANOTHER - I CAN'T WAIT TO PET THE OTHER ONE
"He's..." her voice was barely above a whisper and all the color had drained from her face. "Sam, he's been here, in my home, my God..."
"We're leaving." Sam said. He wrapped an arm around her waist and reached for her bags. He opened the door of his BMW and stashed her suitcase in the trunk. Sam drove quickly to the Washington Hotel and got her checked in under the White House ID number. Agent Samuels would wait at her apartment for the Police. "I promise you Ainsley, this nut, he's not going to hurt you. We'll find him and he's not going to hurt you." Silently adding, "Because I won't let him."
The next morning, David Greer confidently strode into the Chief Counsel's office. "Keep your cool Davey old boy," he repeated over and over to himself. "You'll find her." He wasn't going to panic. He'd been terribly disappointed last night. And Ainsley had never disappointed him before. He had wanted to see her smile when she picked up their kitten and cuddled it for the first time. The purebred had set him back quite a few bucks but Ainsley was worth it. She was a purebred herself. She was worth whatever it would take for them to be together. He continued to pat himself on the back about the kitten. It had been a great idea, the ideal way to bring them closer together. David knew what women wanted. And all women had a soft spot for animals and children. He knew that's all they ever really wanted.
Once she got tired of this career of hers, he'd be there to sweep her off her feet. Then, they would fulfill their destiny. She was his. But she wasn't ready to admit that yet. But she would be soon. Any day now. Soon she'd realize she needed a big strong man to take care of her. He'd be there and he'd take care of her. He knew the first time he saw her that she was his destiny. He'd never forget that day.
She was wearing sweats but they couldn't hide her beautiful figure. So diminutive yet undoubtably strong. She was the star student in the self defence course he'd been teaching at a community center. She had to miss the first class but stayed late to catch up. Ainsley worked out there regularly so was in excellent condition but not too muscular. Just the way he liked a woman. When the course was finished, he decided to test just to make sure she was the real thing. She'd passed with flying colors. He would never allow her to be hurt but he had to make sure in a real life situation she would be able to handle herself. And did she ever! Using what she'd learned in class, she'd taken down the thug he'd paid to follow her one night. David had expected to have to step in to rescue her but it hadn't been necessary. His arrival had distracted her and the 'perp.' got away but she'd protected herself and her property admirably. She was his star pupil. And she'd proved she was worthy of being his partner.
She was all class and there was something about her that brought out a possessive streak he'd never known he had. He'd met 'the one'. Ainsley haunted his thoughts during the day and visited his dreams at night. She must be his other half and wasn't like the other women he'd known. When the class went out for drinks when the course was over he'd been impressed by her genteel manners and charming laugh. She was beautiful and their philosophy of life meshed perfectly. He remembered how she looked when she told him she wasn't ready to pursue a relationship right now. She told him she wasn't in any great hurry. Opportunities presented themselves all the time but she always politely declined them. Her last boyfriend had been pushing her to take their relationship to the next level and she wasn't prepared to jump into bed with anyone. Ainsley had said she would know when the right man came along. Her body, her mind, and her life would be forever connected to that man and to her that meant she wasn't going to date until she was ready to offer that level of commitment to someone. It wouldn't be fair to the man. Or to her. Her innocense and her purity had branded his soul that night. He would never be complete until she gave herself to him like that.
Taking the White House job had been the only mistake he'd ever seen her make. He never understood that. They were all liberal democrats for crying out loud. And they'd never really accept her. But if anyone could convert them it would be Ainsley. She was so good to everybody, even people who'd been so mean to her when she started working here. David had no idea why she was so tolerant of Seaborn's stupidity. Sam Seaborn was the worst of a bad lot. Seaborn had dated a call girl for crying out loud. He remembered how Ainsley had chuckled at the jokes about him. David always surfed the net for sex scandal jokes and told them at class. David never found the situation funny, he thought the jerk should resign and spare the White House embarrassment but the guy sailed through the scandal with his career intact. Seaborn would never understand a woman like Ainsley. His lot deserved the whore's he courted, not the southern belle. Real men like David deserved the belles.
"Hi, Agent Greer," the Chief Counsel's assistant greeted him. "More documents from the FBI?"
"Yup, I'd have never believed a White House Counsel would have been interested in this stuff, but what can I say? Hey, I tried dropping these directly to Ainsley but her office was locked. She around?"
The secretary hedged. "Actually, Mr Tribbey has her on a special assignment. She won't be at the White House for a while. But I'll get them to her."
"She out of town?" he asked as casually as possible.
"Mnn" the woman mumbled. Her phone rang and she reached for the documents then the receiver. David was angry. He'd learned nothing. Did that mumble mean yes or no? He'd have to view the video from the hidden camera in her apartment. Maybe it would give him a clue to her whereabouts.