DisclaimerSo not mine. Characters belong to Aaron Sorkin except my minor little guys. No copyright infringement is intended. Any similarity to events or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Author's NotesA big huge "THANK YOU" to Disney for beta-reading, encouraging, and being a sounding board. Honestly, Dis, I can't thank you enough.
SpoilersITSOTGbut only *one* line. *One* little line sparked an entire series. Thank you, Aaron Sorkin.
ArchiveJust tell me where.
Motion to DismissSam and Lisa go through some changes.
She was stretched out on her stomach on the floor, her knees bent, allowing her legs to sway back and forth in the air. She read the report from the Federal Election Commission aloud in hopes to keep herself awake. The file folder was filled with terribly boring information. A series of sharp knocks at her door caused her to scramble to her feet. "I'm coming," she called as she raced across the living room. As she opened the door, she smiled. "Sam, come in."
"Lisa," he said as he walked inside. He barely let her have enough time to close the door before taking her in his arms and kissing her longingly, leaving her breathless. "I got it."
"Got what?" she asked, trying to make her mind focus again.
"Oh, Sam! Congratulations!" He picked her up, twirling her around the room.
"I can't believe it."
"I can see that," she said laughing as they crashed onto her couch with Sam on top of her. "Way to go, babe. And you were worried."
"I was petrified, what are you talking about?" They both laughed warmly for a moment, but Sam's laughter died first. "There's only one thing."
"I don't want to leave you."
"Who says you're going to have to leave me, huh?" she asked. "It's only New York City. I bet I could start working for Senator Elliot Simon no trouble. That way we'd be up there quite a bit."
"Elliot Simon is a Republican."
"Don't throw away your career because of me."
"And don't you dare think about doing the same because of me. And who says that working for Senator Elliot Simon would be throwing my career away?"
"Because he's going to lose his seat in two years."
"You think so?"
"He's been in there for eighty years," said Sam.
"More like twenty-eight right now, not eighty."
"We'll manage this, Sam," she said. "We've managed so far. I mean... I never thought I'd be able to say I've had a 'steady boyfriend' for three years. If Congress can't keep us apart, what makes you think being in two different states is going to?" He ran his fingers through her hair, looking deeply into her eyes.
"I love you."
"I know. I love *you*," she whispered.
"Do you have any idea how that makes me feel? To hear you say that?" he asked quietly.
"Show me." He looked from her eyes to her lips and back again before slowly leaning down to kiss her, closing his eyes in the process. That moment before his lips met hers seemed agonizingly long but made the kiss that much sweeter, more intense. As the kiss finally came to an end, she looked in his eyes and knew that their separation was only going to be physical and temporary.
Five months passed. Lisa and Sam were on very different schedules. She was busy trying to get Daniel Wesley to the Maryland governor's mansion having quit her job as Congressman Richard Rollins' chief of staff. Sam was working nine to five at Gage Whitney, one of the largest law firms in New York City. For three months, they kept in touch with e-mail and the occasional phone call. Sam struggled for those first three months with the job. As he settled into it, he became less dependent upon hearing from Lisa constantly. He was finally adjusting. Lisa was busy with logistics, orchestrating a statewide campaign. He assumed he was more of a hindrance than any help and slowly slacked off his correspondence with her.
Every time Lisa sat down to write him a letter or type up an e-mail, something always cropped up: a crisis to deal with, a story to spin. She started getting less and less sleep, too busy trying to keep six steps ahead of the former state representative. When she did manage to get some shut-eye, it was rarely restful and normally filled with frightening and distressing dreams, more like nightmares, that would wake her suddenly in the middle of the night. After particularly unsettling dreams, she would pick up the phone to call Sam but would chicken out before even dialing a one for long distance.
Lisa walked proudly into the lobby of the hotel in Annapolis though her feet and back ached and head pounded. "Any messages for Lisa Cole?" she asked. The clerk handed her a letter. She looked at the return address; a smile lit her tired face as she walked into the elevator. It was from Sam. She wasted no time tearing into the envelope, anxious to read what her love had sent her. From the very start, she knew something was wrong. He didn't begin the letter with "Dearest Lisa" or "To my darling" or "To the woman of my dreams" like he usually did. It was simply her name. "Lisa, I hate that I'm having to write this. I wish I weren't but this just isn't working out. I thought that me being in New York and you being down in Maryland wouldn't be such a problem, but it is." She leaned against the wall of the elevator and started to cry. She couldn't finish the letter; she was too heartbroken.
After a long cry on the hotel bed, she read the letter in its entirety. He went on to say he was sorry that things wouldn't work out between them. He wished her well with her political aspirations, praising her initiative and her analytical mind, saying he knew he'd be hearing things about her in the news. He didn't rule out the possibility of her becoming the first female President of the United States someday. "And I'll be so proud to say not only did I know you when, but I loved you when. I am so honored you chose to spend three, almost four years of your life with me. I learned so much from you during that time. I wouldn't be here in New York, working for Gage Whitney, had you not believed in me and taught me how to believe in myself. For that, Lisa, I am eternally grateful and forever indebted to you."
Lisa reread the letter until she memorized it. She could almost hear his voice reading it to her and that only made her already broken heart shatter into even more pieces. She slowly stood up though she nearly fell over again, her knees not wanting to support her. Closing her eyes, she stood resolutely and picked up her telephone, dialing it. She informed Daniel Wesley that she was taking the next day off to return to D.C., making up an excuse to go home. There was something left at her apartment that she needed desperately.
She drove, with tears in her eyes, back to the capital and to her apartment in Georgetown. The closer she got to Washington, the faster her tears fell. She could barely see by the time she reached her apartment complex. Wasting little time parking, she raced up the stairs to her apartment and unlocked the door. She wanted to spend as little time in the hall outside her door as possible; after all, that was where she and Sam shared their very first kiss. Entering her apartment, she raced to her bedroom and found the stuffed donkey he had given her all those years ago sitting on her bed, waiting for her. She cried herself to sleep, clutching the donkey to her wishing it were the living, breathing Sam even if he didn't want her anymore.
Sam started thriving in New York City. He was making connections; he was going out and meeting people. Every time he went to a restaurant or bar or concert with the people he met, he always felt a twinge of guilt and regret. He missed Lisa. He started comparing the locations by what Lisa would have thought about them. There were days, weeks, when he wanted to call her, to hear her, to have her talk him through his rough, stressful days. He hadn't thought that leaving her behind after five years would be so difficult.
One of Sam's coworkers at Gage Whitney, a guy named Gary, set him up on a blind date with a lady he knew, telling Sam that the two of them would get along wonderfully. Gary went on and on about her beauty and her intelligence, her compassion and her sense of humor. Sam was leery about the whole thing but wound up agreeing just to get his friend off his back. He met her, Nicole Andrews, for drinks one night. She was blonde and showed it at every opportunity. Gary had exaggerated on everything but her beauty. He couldn't deny he found her somewhat attractive but there was no chemistry. It was purely that she was "pretty." She could have been a model, one of those empty shells that men with higher sex drives than IQ levels lusted after. He wanted more. He wanted a mind to go with the looks. He wanted someone he could laugh and cry with, someone with enough knowledge to know more than monosyllabic words, someone to challenge him when he needed stimulation and who could comfort him when he needed reassuring. In a word, he wanted Lisa.
He thought about her daily. It had only been a few months since he had written her the letter, the letter he regretted ever sending. He kept telling himself it was selfish to hang onto her, that she was like a bird who should be released into the wild rather than kept in a cage for personal reasons. Every night, he scoured newspapers and CNN to hear any news on the gubernatorial race in Maryland in hopes that maybe he could see her in the background of a picture or even read a quote of hers in an article.
For the longest, he heard little or nothing at all on the race. One evening, though, after a long day at Gage Whitney, he turned on his TV and nearly keeled over. Lisa was on television giving a statement to the press about Daniel Wesley dropping out of the race. The man had been arrested for money laundering, blackmail, and at least half a dozen other crimes. She herself was under investigation to see if she had any connection to the illegal activity whatsoever. He grabbed his phone and dialed her telephone number; he still had it memorized. Much to his dismay, the phone was off the hook. She was probably under siege by the media, hounded at every turn. Turning off the television set sadly, he realized she probably didn't want to hear from an ex-boyfriend anyway.
It took some time, but Lisa was finally found to be completely clean of any wrongdoing. All that Daniel Wesley did in Maryland, he did on his own. Lisa refused to go back to work for Congressman Rollins though he was still in the House of Representatives. Bobby, a staffer she remembered from her days in Rollins' office, said that she would be welcomed back with open arms. She turned down his offer; she saw that as going back to what she had on her hands and knees, which was something she was not about to do. She was much too proud.
Interviews with some seventeen government agencies, ten lobbyist groups, and eight PACs finally paid off. After a total of thirty-four rejections, Lisa had herself another job. She started working with Save the Fruit Bat, an odd little lobbyist group that operated out of a basement office in D.C. Every morning, she would show up to work in a tailored business suit as she had done during her tenure on Capitol Hill and on the short-lived gubernatorial campaign. Every morning, she was over dressed. Most of the other workers wore torn or faded jeans and worn tee shirts. Lisa refused to look anything less than professional. She tried to turn the office around because she knew there was no way that the Save the Fruit Bat organization would be taken seriously on the Hill. Their methods were backwards; their professionalism was nonexistent. She tried dozens of times to bring it to the head of the organization's attention that three people picketing outside Capitol Hill on a Sunday was pointless, that the fliers and letters they send are useless, that unless some drastic changes take place, the Save the Fruit Bat organization will continue to be as worthless as it has been since it's inception.
After one too many attempts to get her point across, Lisa wound up stuffing envelopes and becoming very, very bitter until one day she couldn't take it any longer. She walked up to her boss. "Mrs. Calahan, I've tried. I've done what you've told me but I can no longer work here without sacrificing my sanity to damn fruit bats."
"I was a well-respected and *feared* political operative on Capitol Hill. I ran a Congressional office for almost *six* years. I *refuse* to lick stamps another day. I *refuse*. I've tried to make this organization better, to move it forward. It has come to my attention that this so-called 'group' is a farce, a bunch of poor, depraved people who wouldn't know a fruit bat if it bit their neck. I hope you all fall in storm-grates and die," she said with a sugary-sweet smile. With that, she left angrily but primly. She still had a reputation and an ego, even if both were black and blue from the bruising.
Lisa was back, scouring the city for a job, any job almost. No one was hiring and if they were they certainly didn't want a political operative fresh off a scandal even if all accusations were dropped for lack of evidence because she really, truly was innocent. The night before her rent was due she had a very tough decision to make. She was flat broke. She had hit up various friends for money off and on for the month and a half she was unemployed. By now, though, she was out of friends and penniless. The super would be by in the morning to collect. Her car was parked outside with a full tank of gas. D.C. was full of dead-ends. She knew it was time to leave.
She hated the thought of having to leave Washington; she loved D.C. She certainly couldn't go back to living on her parents' farm. Not only did she not want to return to the never-ending chores, she was much too proud to go home and face her parents. Wandering around her apartment, she gathered her clothes and some items with high sentimental value and started packing them. She started rounding up things she could pawn, too, to get money for food and gas.
By midnight, she was loading her car with suitcases and boxes. She left most of her furniture in the apartment and the major appliances, figuring they could sort of pay for the rent. At twelve thirty, she was taking a long last look up at the building she had called home since moving to Washington at the ripe old age of eighteen.
She climbed into her car and buckled up, glancing at the bag in the seat next to her. Sam the donkey's head was peeking out of the top. She had three choices: she could go north, south, or west. If she went east, she'd end up in the Atlantic and she decided against that. South led to her parents and she couldn't think about them because she knew how disappointed in her they would be. Instead, she started the car and placed her hand on the radio controller. "All right," she said. "If there's a male voice when I turn on the radio, I'll go north. Female, I'll go west." Taking a deep breath, she turned on the radio. The Beatles were singing "Yesterday." She looked at Sam the donkey. "North it is."
She drove through Maryland and New Jersey, reaching New York City by morning. As she started driving through the boroughs, she knew she should leave. The Big Apple was intimidating. She couldn't, though, and she found herself at a pawnshop, getting whatever money she could from jewelry she never wore and old heirloom pieces. In the grand scheme of things, she'd rather have food than an old silver mirror of her grandmother's.