Partial credit for this story goes to Kathryn Adams, my twin sister, who first of all started me down the path of West Wing fanfic with her story "Just Another Day" (look for it in westwingstories.com, it's awesome) and second of all, is my Beta, and rewrote several of the scenes in this story for me and MAN do they work better now.
Thanks also goes to Rhonda Dossett of the CJ_Sam_FanFic yahoo group. She supplied a terrific challenge; I included it in its entirety at the end of this story, check it out, it's great.
Disclaimer: I don't any part of the West Wing in any way whatsoever, I'm just borrowing 'em for a bit.
Why yes, I'd love some feedback, thanks!
Fair and Fowl
Taking advantage of a rare quiet moment in the West Wing, Toby Ziegler propped his feet up on the coffee table in his office. The sounds of an office winding down on a Friday afternoon hummed in the background as he settled down to read over the rough draft of a speech.
Toby started, almost dropping the speech.
This time Toby did drop the speech, the pages skittering over the back of his couch and under the desk. Swearing, he crawled after them as CJ and Sam continued to shout to each other across the office.
"Move your butt, Spanky, we're gonna be LATE!"
"Two minutes two minutes.."
"You have the tickets?"
"Yeah. You have the directions?"
"Yeah, come on, if we don't leave now we won't make the duck races!"
Toby stood up. "EXCUSE me could you PLEASE shout a little LOUDER I'm actually managing to connect two thoughts together so a little MORE noise might take care of.." CJ, in jeans and sweater, appeared in his doorway as Toby looked down, scratching his head with the speech. Sam leaned around the door as well.
More quietly Toby said "I'm going regret asking this but..duck races?"
"The Virginia State Fair in Richmond," Sam explained eagerly. "My sister-in-law sent me a couple tickets, and since CJ didn't have anything to do again this weekend.." CJ punched Sam in the arm. "Ow. That is, CJ honored me by taking time out of her unbelievably busy social schedule to accompany me to.."
"Duck Downs!" CJ said with a grin. "Seven Mallard races a day on their very own track, we should make it in time for the 7:30 race. It's the highlight of the fair! Well, that, and the rides."
"And the games the carneys rig so you can never win.."
"You only say that 'cause you throw like a girl."
"Say that again Spanky and I'll throw YOU like a girl."
Toby waved the speech between them. "Enough ENOUGH. Save it for the ducks. Some of us have work to do." He sat back down and tried to go back to the speech.
CJ leaned towards Sam. "He's just jealous."
"Who wouldn't be," Sam replied. "HE doesn't get to go the fair."
"We could bring him back some cotton candy."
"Out." Toby grumbled.
"I think he's more of a corn-dog man m'self."
"I could win him a stuffed animal at the ring-toss."
"You mean you could TRY to win while the carneys laugh at you.."
CJ and Sam scooted out the door, laughing, and left Toby to his speech.
The crowd from the Duck Races filed out of the tent and into the cool autumn air, heading for the midway.
"Oh please, my duck won fair and square and YOU owe me a banana split."
"CJ, your duck was ON something. Confess."
"I confess that I am the Duck Master, Queen of the Racing Ducks, and YOUR duck was a loser."
"My duck was having self-esteem issues because you taunted it."
"If you call laughing at its skinny flippers and calling it a pansy-ass chump 'taunting', then yes, I did taunt."
"I hope you get billed for its little duck therapy sessions for years to come."
"Wanna try the ping-pong ball toss, Sam?"
"That's okay, they're only giving away fish."
"C'mon, you could win a goldfish and then Gail could have a buddy."
"I doubt I could keep a goldfish alive long enough to get it home."
"You're only saying that 'cause you know you couldn't win."
"No really, Seaborn's are notoriously bad with pets."
"My brothers and I had a hamster once.."
"What'd you name him?"
"That's a weird name for a hamster."
"I was eight."
"Oh. What happened to him?"
"We don't speak of Clyde in my family. It's still a painful memory."
"This doesn't have any Richard Gere overtones to it does it?"
"Ew, CJ, no, that's disgusting."
"Just checking. So what did happen to him?"
"I really don't want to talk about it."
"A vacuum cleaner was involved."
"Oh. Poor Clyde."
"Rest in pieces."
"Hey look, they've got a log ride!"
Many minutes later they were leaving the log ride, slightly damp but still cheery.
"Next time I wanna sit by you," CJ said, wiping a few drops off her face with her sleeve. "The little chippie next to me kept whining about the seat being wet."
"On a log-ride? What'd she expect?"
"I'm serious. It sure didn't help that she was wearing the shortest skirt known to man.."
"Oh reeeeally.." Sam said, looking around. "Which one was she again?"
"Over there, the one with the platform sandals and seven pounds of hairspray." CJ pointed. Sam looked.
"You didn't mention the skin problem and the linebacker who's trying to inhale her face."
"Yeah, well, that just speaks for itself doesn't it?"
Wandering past the games with their lights and pounding music and the shouting of the carneys, Sam touched CJ's shoulder to get her attention.
"I think I see an ice-cream booth over that way," he said, pointing. "Does the Duck-Master want her banana split now?"
"Almost, I want to go on one more ride, and, you know, rides and ice-cream don't go well together.."
"But.." she looked in all directions, frowning. "I keep forgetting that state fairs don't usually have roller coasters."
"Huh. I never thought about it. I supposed it's because you can't pack most roller coasters on a truck and haul them away until next year."
"Right. And I don't feel like going on the rides that just nauseate you.."
"So I dunno, which one do you want to.."
"Hey, isn't that a roller coaster over there?"
CJ looked, and sure enough, on the very edge of the fair, was a roller coaster. Not nearly as big as a permanent amusement park coaster, this one was still a fairly good size.
CJ and Sam glanced at each other, their eyes lighting up, and they ran, laughing, for the entrance.
Several feet away from the ticket-taker, Sam stopped and looked up at the coaster.
"That has got to be the oldest, most beat up.." CJ grabbed his arm and yanked him over to the entrance.
She pulled him into the first car, which was empty. Actually, ALL the cars were empty. The operator running the ride drummed his fingers on the control lever, hoping for a few more passengers.
Sam leaned over to CJ and whispered "Is it just me, or have we not seen a single carney who has ALL his teeth.."
"What? I'm serious! And this guy, what is he, ninety-seven? What if he dozes off while the ride's going?"
The operator looked again at the entrance, but seeing no other riders, shrugged his shoulders, and pulled the safety bar down over CJ and Sam. As he walked back to the control panel Sam gave a curious pull on the safety bar.
"Hey," he said. "This thing's not locked.." but the rest was lost in the clatter of metal as the car pulled forward away from the entrance.
"Oh well," he said, pulling down hard on the bar. "I'm sure it's alright."
"Yeah," she shouted over the tock-tock-tock of the gears pulling the car up the first hill. "This isn't a very big coaster. How fast can it be?"
Probably not a good question.
The car topped the first hill and sped down the other side, CJ and Sam laughing and yelling. The yelling got a little louder when the car hit the bottom and careened around a series of tight curves, lurching around corners and slamming the two of them against the sides of the car.
After seven hairpin turns and a deafening squeal of metal as they bounced over a bump in the rails, the car started up the second hill.
"I'm not sure this is as much fun as a real roller coaster," CJ said breathlessly.
"Well," Sam said, trying to unclench his fingers from the safety bar. "It adds some excitement when you're worried about the car falling off the tracks.."
"Sam!" CJ wailed.
"Hang on.." and the car raced down the other side, zoomed around another curve on what felt like two wheels, and headed for the start of the track.
"Well, that was..interesting.." panted Sam.
"Hey, why aren't we slowing down?"
"Hey..hey!" Sam shouted at the operator, who seemed to be concentrating very hard on the control panel. They zoomed by without a pause.
"We're going through again??" yelled CJ as they started up the first hill.
"Maybe he's trying to be nice, you know, two rides for the price of one?"
"I don't WANT him to be nice, I want OFF!"
Two minutes later they were zipping down the second hill, and headed for the start again. CJ waved her arms at the operator.
"Okay, thanks, that was very nice, can we get off now?" she shouted. The operator glanced up from the control panel, looking a little flustered, and waved. The car sped right by, and zipped up the first hill..again.
"This is what I get for riding a state fair roller coaster," CJ muttered. "I should've gone on the Zipper and been done with it."
Sam looked over his shoulder at the operator. "You think this is about the teeth comment?"
"Yes!" CJ laughed, somewhat hysterically. "It is, and this is all your.."
More yelling, more squealing of metal. The car finished the last hairpin turn, got three-quarters of the way up the second hill, and stopped.
In the sudden quiet, CJ was surprised to find herself huddled up against Sam, her head against his shoulder, and her free hand (the one that wasn't locked onto the safety bar) clenched onto his leg.
She was somewhat more surprised to find that he had his free arm around her shoulders.
Looking up at him with a small smile, she said quietly "Keeping me safe, Sam?"
"Yup," he said without hesitation. "The death-hold I have on you is purely for your protection."
They chuckled, but neither moved. A small, chill breeze stirred a few strands of CJ's hair into her face.
"Think we're stuck?" CJ asked.
"Looks that way." He pulled up on the safety bar for a second. "Typical. NOW the safety bar won't come up."
She looked up. "Look how bright the stars are."
They looked at them together. Another breeze came by, this one with the scent of campfires and leaves. They listened to the faint sounds of the fair, and beyond that, the wind in the trees.
"This is really nice," Sam said.
"Yeah, it really is."
"Doesn't mean I'm not gonna kick some ass as soon as they get us off this thing," she said darkly. Sam grinned.
"I can just see the news release now. 'Couple Endures Condemned Roller-Coaster Ride Seven Times..'"
"It was only three."
"Sh. Dramatic license. '..Seven Harrowing Times, Following Which, the Press Secretary Pitches the Toothless Operator Into The Duck Pond and..'"
CJ laughed, and Sam, looking at her, leaned down and kissed her.
She kissed him back.
A long moment passed.
Sam lifted his head, just enough to say quietly "I couldn't help myself."
"Not a problem," she said, equally quiet, reaching up to touch a finger gently to his lips. They smiled at each other, and she tilted her head up and kissed him, very softly, for a long while.
No sound but the wind and the fair.
Well, that, and the sudden ratcheting of gears as the roller coaster started up again.
"Oh I am SO gonna kill somebody."
"You'll have help."
One last plunge down the second hill, for some reason not as scary as the first two times. With a clank and a slam of brakes, the roller coaster finally stopped at the finish line.
CJ gave a shaky laugh, and squeezed Sam's knee. "Wanna have him send it around one more time?"
"Somehow I doubt they'd stop it on the hill again."
"Oh, well then nevermind."
The roller-coaster operator swore to himself as he brought the car into place. The damn thing was tough enough to run on a GOOD day, and today was anything but good. He figured he was in for a good chewing-out from the two riders when they got out.
But..they seemed pretty cheerful. They laughed when he apologized, and told him not to worry about it. The woman smiled at him, and the man patted him on the shoulder as he walked by.
Funny, he thought as he watched them head toward the midway. They hadn't looked like an item when they first got there. Just kinda friendly-like. But now..
He watched the woman say something in the man's ear, and the man blushed and laughed. They smiled at each other, delighted, and reached out to hold hands as they disappeared into the crowd.
Oh yeah, here's Rhonda's challenge
A CJ/Sam story involving: a dress that's too short, a hamster named Clyde, a couple of your choice trapped on a rollercoaster, and a banana split. Optional items for bonus points: a song and dance number and the number seven showing up seven times in the story.
No bonus points for the song and dance, ah well..
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