Disclaimer: They're not mine--they're Aaron's. I'm not making any money off them. Any similarity to events or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Author's notes: Big thanks to Kerry who beta-read for me. You're great!! I actually had this written several days ago and it's been posted on two other lists but I figured I'd wait until after Come Back 2 Me was all up before sharing it with you guys.
Spoilers--None. It's a Sam/Mal but it doesn't follow any of the others I've written for them.
Archive--Let me know where you put it and I'm a happy camper.
May Cause Drowsiness--Somebody isn't feeling well.
Sam stumbled into his office, dropping his briefcase on his desk before falling into his chair. He had been up all night long, tossing and turning, because of *them*. He hated them even if they were loyal. No matter what, they came for an extended visit at least twice a year and always around the same time. He could practically set his watch by their arrivals. They were determined to ruin his life, at least in Sam's mind. Whenever they came for their two-week stay, they refused to let him sleep; they never gave him a moment's peace. No matter what he did to try to get them to leave, they were persistent in their stay. Sam often tried to convince himself just to let them run their course, that they would be gone before he knew it if he would just *ignore* them. Sam didn't work that way, though. He had often been told he had such a "good" heart and that meant being nice to anybody and everybody, anything and everything, no matter how much he wanted to run screaming to escape the discomfort.
Unlatching his briefcase, he pulled out the bottle. It was so alluring… The promises of warmth and a temporary reprieve of the senses. He uncapped it and started to take a swig but decided against it at the last minute, screwing the cap back on and putting it in his desk drawer. He hoped Leo wouldn't come by and find it. Sighing, he pulled out a stack of note cards from his briefcase and started reading over them.
Josh knocked on his door and poked his head inside. "Hey, Sam, you- " He sopped upon seeing Sam's fatigued expression. "Man, you look terrible. You okay?"
"Was that a yes?" Sam nodded. "What's wrong with your voice?" Cathy suddenly edged past Josh and walked to Sam's desk, placing a steaming cup of tea in front of her boss.
"Tanks, Cat'y," he said. She couldn't help but smile at his predicament.
"You're welcome," she said before leaving.
"Oh," said Josh. "They're back aren't they?" Sam nodded pitifully as Josh sat down across from him. "Man, go home. Take the time off to recoup."
"I'm meeting wit de College Dem'crats of Amer'ca."
"You know what they'll say?"
"W'at?" Josh whistled at the open door and Zoey Bartlet, who had just been visiting Charlie and her father, appeared. "Hdi, Zoedy." She looked at Sam sympathetically.
"Aw, Sam. You look like death on a Triscuit."
"Thanks, Zoey. Run on to class now." She nodded and Josh turned back to Sam. "Go home."
"Ids just my dab allerdees. I'll be fide."
"Hey, guys, the President-" C.J. smiled faintly at Sam. "Oh, no. It's allergy week again, huh?" Sam nodded. "Go home."
"We just had that very same exchange, C.J. Sam, I'll take over with the CDA chapter. Go home."
"Ndo," said Sam. "Dye vote, Jodsh. Dey can vote ush out next electshion." Josh and C.J. glanced at each other. Josh shrugged.
"The CDA can vote against us in the next election?" tried C.J. Sam nodded and pointed at his red, runny nose. "Hey, I got one," C.J. said happily.
"No, Sam, I'll be good with college kids. I can discuss the pros and cons of binge drinking."
"Jodsh!" Sam said as he stood up. He opened his mouth to say something but wound up turning away from his friends and grabbing a tissue before sneezing.
"Gesundheit. Now, go home," said Josh.
"Beshides da CDA, I have dis sp-"
"You call this a draft?" Toby asked, walking into Sam's office. "Daft maybe but certainly no draft for a Presidential speech!"
"What did you call me?"
"It's allergy week," C.J. said. Toby rolled his eyes.
"Go sleep it off. I need a clear-headed deputy communications director."
"Don't say my name again," warned Toby. Sam nodded, lifting his hands in surrender.
"I have do sday." Toby pondered that for a moment before looking at C.J. and Josh.
"Too bad Joey Lucas went back to California. Maybe Kenny could have interpreted Sam's gibberish for us." Josh's eyes lit up.
"I could go call her, see if she'd come back." All four senior staffers turned when they heard someone clear his throat at the door.
"Did I miss the memo? I was under the impression that we had morning staff meetings in the Oval Office with the President."
"What was that?" Sam sighed and covered his eyes with one hand.
"You need a chalkboard or something," said Josh. Ginger, with a hand over her nose, slipped past Leo.
"Excuse me," she said. "Toby, the file you wanted."
"Thanks," he said. "Why are you doing that?"
"I don't want to get sick," she said, looking at Sam.
"Ids not condagious. Ids allerdees!"
"Ginger, go get the First Lady. She should be in her office," said Leo.
"I don't ndeed a docdor, Ledo. I'd fine!"
"You're sick, Sdam," Leo said. Sam collapsed into his chair.
"Pleades don't mdock mde," he muttered.
"Wait here for Abby. The rest of you, we have a staff meeting."
"Stay put, Sam. I mean it."
"Yesh, sir." As the senior staff filed out of his office, Sam opened the desk drawer and pulled out the bottle of NyQuil and looked at it. He wanted to sleep so badly. Setting it on the corner of his desk, he returned to his index cards. He tried reading them without his glasses because they bothered his sore nose but the words all ran together. He looked up when he heard a knock at his door. "Mrsh. Bardlet." He stood immediately.
"Oh, Sam. Sick are we?" she asked as she entered. "Sit, sit."
"Ids just allerdees."
"Are you taking NyQuil for them?" He shook his head.
"Dought about id."
"Have you ever seen a doctor about this problem?"
"In'luding youd?" She shook her head. "Nonde."
"Have you taken anything for it today?"
"Nonding helpsh. Well, `cept dat. Id says id caushes drowdiness bud id doeshn't."
"They make a daytime version of it now."
"And how long have you been suffering from allergies?"
"My wholde life."
"How come you were never brought to me earlier?" He shrugged. "Have you ever had an allergy test?" He shook his head. "Would you consider having one done? Or allergy shots at the very least?"
"Ndo shotsh," he said, shaking his head.
"Dodn't like needlesh."
"Then you wouldn't like an allergy test," she said. "Though you could benefit from one greatly in figuring out what it is, exactly, you're allergic to and how to avoid it."
"Whad's an allerdee tesht?"
"I t'ink I'll suffder."
"Well, indulge me; let me take a listen to your ticker and lungs as well as check your blood pressure." He nodded as Abby started digging through her bag. "At any rate, Sam, you ought to go home. You won't be able to focus on your work."
"I hade a s'eech to work ond."
"Toby can take care of my husband's speeches," Abby said as she started pumping the blood pressure checker.
"Yesh, ma'am," Sam said, feeling the band around his arm tighten until he could feel his pulse.
"Did you get any sleep last night?" He shook his head. "Allergies keeping you awake?"
"Yesh, ma'am." She noted his blood pressure before grabbing her stethoscope.
"Deep breath." Sam did as best he could, inhaling deeply through his mouth. "Again." He had barely had the time to exhale when she wanted him to inhale again. "Do you have any medicine allergies? Penicillin or anything?" He shook his head. "Okay. I'm going to prescribe something that might help."
"Youd do dat?" She nodded, trying not to laugh at his pitiful state.
"Sure," she said. "Did you drive here this morning?" He shook his head. "Good. I'll arrange for someone to take you home."
"Ids not neshesary, ma'am."
"Oh, I think it is. Especially because what I'm going to have you take causes drowsiness." His eyes seemed to brighten at that. She smiled. "Yes, Sam, that means you can sleep."
"Oh, tdank youd, ma'am."
"Just stay put, okay?" He nodded as she packed up her bag and left his office. As soon as she was gone, he folded his arms on his desk and put his head down, hoping that the sinus pressure would subside. He wasn't sure how long he was like that but he was quite surprised to find a gentle hand on his shoulder. He sat up quickly, startled.
"You ready to go home?"
"Close enough. Hi."
"Whad're youd doind here?"
"Abby called me."
"She did?" Mallory nodded.
"Come on, Sam," she said, holding up a bag from a local pharmacy. "Abby assured me this thing'll put you right to sleep."
"Prodmise?" She nodded again and helped Sam to his feet. "Whad aboud school?"
"It's Saturday, Sam."
"Oh…" She helped him into his coat and took his hand, leading him out of the White House. As soon as they were in her car, Sam looked at the bottle of little white pills, trying to read the dosage instructions.
"One pill twice a day," Mallory said, noticing the look of puzzlement on his face.
"Sure." Sam watched her as she drove him to his apartment, knowing she didn't have to be there, helping him. They had yet to go on a date. Every time they tried to go to dinner together, something inevitably cropped up.
Mallory felt his eyes on her as she drove but couldn't bring herself to look at him. She already had a big enough soft spot in her heart for him. Knowing that his sweetly pathetic puppy-dog expression was permanently etched in his features due to his being sick, one look at him could cause her heart to be forever his. She wasn't ready for that just yet. Instead, she drove on while he bored holes in the side of her face with his strong gaze.
In silence, Mallory helped him up to his apartment and made sure he took one of the little allergy pills before helping him into bed. By then, he was practically dead. Pulling the warm comforters up and tucking them under his chin, Mallory's eyes finally connected with his. "You didn'd have do."
"Yes I did."
"Get some sleep, Skipper. We'll talk about it when you're feeling better." She kissed his forehead and started to tiptoe back to his living room.
"I wove you." She tried not to laugh all the while finding him terribly sweet.
"Good night, Sam."
"'Kay," he muttered as his eyelids finally closed and he drifted off to dreamland.