For notes and disclaimer, please see part one.

Previously, on the West Wing: President Bartlet, the Senior Staff, Zoey and Mallory take off on Air Force One for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the weekend. While on board, Sam confesses he has feelings for Mallory to Josh while she listens on. Josh gets into trouble for a colloquialism.

"Hey, Dad," Mallory said, falling into a chair beside Leo.

"Hi, baby," he muttered. He was paying more attention to the file folder he was looking at.

"Is that the schedule for the trip?" asked Mallory, looking on.

"Uh-huh."

"Is there anyway I could clear one night of one of your staffers?" she asked casually as she looked idly at the fingernails on one of her hands.

"Which one?"

"Sam."

Leo looked up at his daughter, who was still exuding innocence. "You want to borrow Sam for a night?"

"I want to enjoy my vacation."

"He's not on vacation; he's working."

"You can't let him have a couple hours off?"

"To do what?"

"To take me to dinner."

"Mallory," said Leo with a sigh.

"Oh, come on, Dad... All work and no play for *all* of you..."

"Not all of us. The President wants to visit the aquarium."

"And bore everyone with endless facts about jellyfish and stingrays."

"Not 'bore', Mallory. Everyone on staff enjoys the President's expositions on all things—"

"Boring?" interrupted Mallory.

"Educational," corrected Leo.

Mallory picked up the schedule for Friday night. "See, look. You're scheduled to go to Medieval Times Friday night. While you guys eat rotisserie chicken without the benefit of utensils and watch fake battles, Sam and I could enjoy a quiet meal..."

"Mallory," he said, sighing again. "You just broke up with that guy—"

"Two months ago."

"Don't you think you need to give your heart more time to heal?" he tried.

"I didn't even like him."

"Then why'd you go out with him?"

"Because I was mad."

"About what?"

"The picture."

"Yeah, but you knew about it. Hell, you knew about his relationship with the call girl before I did."

"But that still doesn't make it right."

"Doesn't make it all Sam's fault."

"Well... True... So let me make it up to him... And make it up to me."

"Mal..."

"Please?" she asked.

Leo rolled his eyes, caving. "All right, all right. Sam doesn't have to go to the medieval dinner."

"Thanks, Dad," she said, grinning.

"I don't want to hear that he's hurt you or vice versa. And keep this under your hat if you don't mind. If everyone else knows that Sam is getting out of dinner on Friday, then all of them will want to get out."

"Oh, I can keep a secret."

"Okay."

Mallory kissed her father's cheek and started for the door.

"Mallory?"

She glanced back at him. "Yeah?"

"You two have fun on Friday."

She grinned broadly. "Thank you, Dad."

~~~

Josh ran his fingers through his hair. "Mr. President—"

"So that's why it's illegal to pick the sea oats," said Bartlet.

"Mr. President, please. Tell me you aren't going to talk about the sea oats anymore," pleaded Josh.

"Well, Josh, since you asked... Why don't you demonstrate your knowledge for the rest of us?"

Josh looked around the cabin. C.J., Sam, and Donna were playing cards. Toby was drumming his fingers on his forehead. "How 'bout we talk about seagulls for a moment?" asked Josh.

"Oh, please," groaned Toby.

"If you want to, sure," permitted Bartlet.

"Riddle me this, Mr. President: why do seagulls fly over the sea?"

"Enlighten us," Bartlet said, settling into his armchair and propping his feet up on the table in front of him.

Josh smiled, though it was obviously a bit pained. "Because if they flew over the bay, they'd be bagels."

No one spoke. Cards forgotten, everyone watched for the President's reaction.

"Here I am, trying to share my knowledge and you resort to old jokes?"

Josh offered a nervous chuckle.

"Tell me what you know about the local seafood."

~~~

"So," Zoey Bartlet said casually as Mallory joined her. "Is it true?"

"Is what true?"

"That Sam said he loved you."

"Where'd you hear that?" asked Mallory, her eyes wide in surprise.

"From Charlie."

"And where'd *he* hear that?"

"Josh."

Mallory sighed. "Who else has heard that rumor, you suppose?"

"You kids might want to buckle up," Leo said as he walked through their cabin. "We're on final approach."

"Does he know?" Zoey asked quietly as Leo left.

"Well... Can you keep a secret?"

"Of course!"

"You won't tell Charlie?"

"Mal, please."

"It's just that I told Dad I wouldn't tell anyone else."

"My lips are sealed; don't worry."

"I'm going to... borrow... Sam on Friday."

"For what?"

"Dinner... Dancing... A roller coaster and a carousel... Maybe a moonlit walk along the beach..."

"He did tell you he's in love with you?"

"For starters, he didn't tell *me* anything. And he didn't really say that he was *in* love with me. More like he *could* love me..."

"Wait, wait. What happened, then?"

"Guy talk."

"Guy talk?"

"I overheard a conversation between Josh and Sam that could have potentially been an admission of love."

"So that's good, right?"

"What?"

"That Sam is madly in love with you?"

"I don't think he's *madly* in love with me."

"Charlie says that Josh told him that Sam is completely infatuated with you."

"That one I'll believe. Complete infatuation is *far* from being madly in love."

"So, can I ask: do you love Sam?"

"Zoey!" she said indignantly.

~~~

Leo strolled into the middle of the Presidential lecture. "C.J."

"Yes?" she asked eagerly, anxious to get away from the latest venture into the mating habits of shrimp.

"Aren't you due for a press briefing?"

"Yes, sir," she said as she escaped from the room quickly.

"How we doin' in here?" asked Leo.

"It's been a trip, let me tell you," muttered Toby.

"It's been highly educational," said Sam.

"Yes, for you, Mr. Jeopardy. I would imagine you had a wonderful time," grumbled Toby.

"You didn't have a fun time, Toby?" asked the President.

"We all, Mr. President, have had an absolutely wonderful trip," said Josh.

"You're just saying that," accused Bartlet.

"Yes. Yes, I am, sir."

"We're about to land," said Leo.

Josh and Toby's faces lit up.

~~~

As the staffers started loading into the limousines and other cars, Sam glanced around, not wanting to be in the same car as Mallory. Not seeing her, he climbed into the limousine closest to him and saw that he had chosen incorrectly.

"Sam," Mallory said as he sat down in the only empty seat—the one beside her.

"M-Mallory."

She couldn't help but smile at his slight discomfort but her smile vanished upon seeing her father's stony glance in her direction.

"Are you looking forward to your vacation, Mal?" asked Bartlet as the motorcade started for the hotel. "I know Zoey has been," he said, smiling at his youngest daughter.

"Oh, yes, sir."

"Anything special planned?"

"Well, Zoey and I plan to do some shopping either later this afternoon or tomorrow." Zoey nodded her agreement. "I understand, Mr. President, that you have a full schedule ahead of you," said Mallory as she glanced knowingly at her father, her smile returning.

"Any free time I get, Mal, will be spent in my hotel room calling Abbey in Mongolia, I'm sure."

"What's she doing in Mongolia?" asked Mallory.

"I thought she was in Madagascar," Sam said.

Bartlet looked at Leo, who shrugged. "Charlie, where is my wife?"

"Mozambique."

"Any free time I get, Mal, will be spent in my hotel room calling Abbey in Mozambique."

Mallory smiled. "No sunbathing for you?"

"Now, I don't think sunbathing is all that Presidential, do you?" asked Bartlet.

"Oh, I don't know, sir. I think it could be," said Mallory. "Don't you think so, Sam?"

"I-I'm sorry; what was the question?"

"Sunbathing: Presidential or not?" asked Mallory.

"Oh, um... S-sure."

"I'm positive C.J. would say it's a delightful photo-op, Dad," said Zoey.

"Oh, of course. You know, I wish your sisters and mother could have come, too. I don't get to see all of you together nearly often enough."

"There's always Christmas," said Zoey.

"Some seven months away," groaned Bartlet.

"Sam, did you finish the wax speech?" asked Leo, turning the conversation elsewhere.

"Yes, sir, though Toby wants to add a paragraph about the company he'll keep in the museum."

"I think so, too, Mr. President," said Leo, turning to Bartlet. "There's just something wrong having a Democratic president with Communist and Fascist leaders."

"I understand that President Ronald Reagan is there, too," Bartlet commented.

"Killers and a guy who gave us a super high national debt? Yeah, I'm still enjoying this idea," grumbled Leo.

"I think it's a great honor," said Sam.

"Being immortalized in wax when they can melt you down when you're no longer a crowd pleaser? Turn you into—oh, I don't know—Marilyn Manson?"

"Well, not when you put it that way..." Sam said quietly.

"Ultimately, Sam, his opinion doesn't matter and neither does Toby's because *I* like the idea and we're still going through with it," said Bartlet. "Me turning into Marilyn Manson or not."

"Well, if they did turn you into Marilyn Manson, they could move you into the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum. The plaque describing the exhibit could read something like this: Once proud President Josiah Bartlet, this wax figure now sports the fašade of the evil rocker, Marilyn Manson,'" said Leo.

"When we go out to dinner tonight, Leo, you're riding in the other limo. Mal, Sam, you two can stay."

"What about me?" asked Zoey.

"I have no intention of letting you ride in the other limousine at all. My luck, you'd have the driver pull over every two blocks because there's some hot guy in a Speedo wanting to cross the street."

"Only if the hot guy were Charlie," she said, smiling at her boyfriend.

"*That* was too much information, young lady," Bartlet said, trying not to focus too hard on the mental image he was getting.

Zoey started to giggle and met Mallory's gaze, nodding nonchalantly to Sam. Mallory glanced at the speechwriter at her side, then back at Zoey whereupon the two broke out into hysterical laughter. To Mallory, the thought of Sam, whom she had only seen wear straight-laced business suits, in a brightly colored Speedo was absolutely priceless.

"That can't be good," Sam commented quietly.

Stay tuned...

~Lines from the next installment: "If you still want her, man, you gotta go after her," Josh said.

Chapter 3

 

 

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