For notes and disclaimer, please see part one. Want to see the amusement park? www.family-kingdom.com

Previously, on the West Wing: Sam and Mallory go for a walk along the beach at night and find out that they've managed to arrange for a half-day vacation for the speechwriter. Having stayed up late talking with Mal during the night, Sam's tired the next morning but functioning. Both Sam and Mallory are looking forward to their outing.

Josh stood in his hotel room, practicing his swing. "Donna!" he called.

"What?" she asked, plugging her ears. "I'm right here."

"You're going to caddie for me today, right?"

"No."

"Please?"

"No."

"Fine," Josh said, sighing. "Where's Sam?"

"In his room as far as I know."

~~~

Sam looked at the yellow band on his wrist and the matching one on Mallory's. "What do you want to ride first?" he asked.

A mischievous look slowly spread over her face as she looked up at the wooden roller coaster—The Swamp Fox. "That," she said.

Sam looked at the wood lattice and swallowed hard. "You do?"

"Yes," she said. "C'mon!" She took his hand and they raced up the ramp to the line. "Where do you want to ride? Front? Middle? Back?"

"You pick," Sam said. The coaster thundered down a hill in front of them; the riders all screamed, either in delight or in fear. Sam felt his heart beat faster just at the prospect of riding. He wasn't sure he wanted to ride the roller coaster, but Mallory did, so he would.

Mallory chose to enter the line near the front, two seats back from the very front. "It's not very crowded today, that's a good thing," she said. "We probably won't have to wait very long to ride any of the rides here today."

"Yeah," he said with a nod.

The coaster stopped at the exit and allowed the passengers to get off before slowly making its way up to where the next set of riders were eagerly (or not in some cases) waiting to board.

"I love roller coasters," Mallory said with a smile as she was allowed to move the chain and climb into the car. Sam replaced the chain before climbing in next to her. They buckled the seat belt and the safety bar came down. The worker checked each bar methodically while taking tickets or checking for ride wristbands.

"Remember to secure all lose items—the Family Kingdom is not responsible for any lost or damaged items. Keep all arms and legs inside the ride at all times. Enjoy the Swamp Fox."

Mallory smiled as the car started to move slowly along the track. As they started up the first big hill, Mallory put her arms in the air. The clickity-clack sound of the chain lifting the coaster was enough to make Sam wonder if he should have written his will before coming.

"They said keep all hands arms inside the ride," Sam said nervously.

"You scared, Skipper?"

"Um... Yes," he said. "Are you sure this thing is safe?" he asked, looking down at the track.

"Positive. They check these things all the time," she said. She watched him for a moment, noting with some concern the anxiousness etched in his features. "You're really scared?" she asked, lowering her arms.

"Yeah."

"Why?"

"Well... Possibly because I've never been on a roller coaster before," he said, looking at her.

"Are you serious?" she asked.

"Y-yeah," he said.

"You should have said something."

"Guess it's too late to bail out now, isn't it?"

"Yeah," she said. "I'm sorry. If I had known—"

"Oh, no. If I die, I'll die with you, happy," he said with a forced smile.

"It'll be okay, Sam. Promise."

"Really?"

"Hold on tight," she said as they crested the hill.

Sam saw how high off the ground they were. "Omigod," he said as they started down the hill. He dug his short fingernails into the safety bar and started screaming. Mallory placed one hand over his as they traveled down. Sam felt himself come up off the seat as they made it to the bottom of the hill and started climbing another one.

After living through the first hill, Sam realized that he was going to make it to the end of the ride. In fact, he started to enjoy the ride somewhere along the line. His white-knuckled grip loosened and, by the time it was over and he and Mallory were exiting the ride, he looked at her. He could hardly walk—his knees were still weak from the ride, he was experiencing something new, unexpected, and, in his opinion, delightful: a roller coaster adrenaline high.

"Can we ride it again?"

"Skipper?"

"The roller coaster?" he asked eagerly.

"You want to ride it again?"

"Yeah," he said.

"Now?"

"Yeah!"

She nodded and took his hand, reveling in his boyish expression. They entered the short line again and rode in the very front on their second run. He wasn't ready to put his arms in the air as they soared down the hills, but he allowed Mallory to raise her arms. The "aargh" screams that had dominated the first ride had been replaced by something more along the lines of "wooo."

Sam stumbled on the asphalt ground after they disembarked the coaster the second time. "That has to be the most amazing thing," he said.

"See what you've been missing all these years?" she asked.

"Yeah."

"Want to go again?"

He looked up at the coaster as another group whooshed down the hill. "Maybe in a minute," he said.

"Right," she said. "We don't want to overdo it."

"Right," he said.

"Something slow?" she asked.

"Yeah..." They looked around and saw the Ferris Wheel. Looking at each other, they grinned and started for it.

As they waited in line, Sam noticed the ring toss near by. He made a mental note to stop by there before they left. They climbed into a red gondola and sat down facing the ocean. They couldn't see the water yet, just the line of hotels on the beach. After several more people were loaded into other gondolas, the ride started to move at a nice, easy clip. Sam put his arm around Mallory's shoulders as they reached the top. She leaned into him, resting her head on his shoulder and her hand on his knee.

"As much fun as the roller coaster was, I'm thinking this is nicer," he said.

She smiled, closing her eyes. "That's just because this is gentle, slow... peaceful. That, and you can hold me here."

"Maybe more that last reason, yes," he said.

~~~

C.J. paced nervously in the golf clubhouse. "Leo, hold on," she said, catching the Chief of Staff.

"Yeah?"

"Where's Sam?"

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"I mean I've talked to Josh and Toby and nobody knows where Sam is."

President Bartlet overheard the conversation and quickly stepped in. "Oh, I sent him to do something."

"You did, sir?" asked Leo. "What was that?"

"The thing, you know."

"What thing, Mr. President?" asked C.J. "This is a media madhouse. White House Press Corps, local press... I was really counting on Sam's being here to help me out."

"C.J., you can't handle some seventy-five, one hundred reporters by yourself?" asked Bartlet.

"Not with any degree of decorum, no, sir," she said.

"We left the new Deputy in D.C., didn't we?" Bartlet asked.

"Henry? Yes, sir," said C.J.

"Well, that wasn't a bright move, was it?" asked the President.

"Well, if Sam had been here, it would have been a fine move, sir," said Leo. "What thing did you send him on?"

"Oh, you know. The aquarium thing. He's making sure we can all get in tomorrow..."

"Yeah?" asked Leo.

"Yeah," said Bartlet. "Come on. It's time for tee."

~~~

The gondola came to a stop at the very top of the wheel. "This is rather cliché, isn't it?" asked Sam.

"Oh, you think you're going to get a kiss now, Skipper?" asked Mallory.

"Wha-I... Of course not," he said.

"Because I have no intention of kissing you on top of the Ferris Wheel. In the Mural Room, well, sure. And how could you try to set that room on fire? You didn't want to remember our first kiss?"

"I treasure that memory," he said.

"Really?"

"Yes."

"Then why'd you try to burn down the White House starting with the Mural Room?"

"It was cold."

"So you decided to warm the place... By burning it down?"

"We had *no* intention of burning the place down, Mal. None. We were just trying to look out for everyone else, make them more comfortable..."

"By burning it down?"

"We weren't going to burn it down—"

"You very nearly did."

"Accidentally."

"Yeah, sure," Mallory said.

Sam frowned. Things had been going so well. He wasn't sure how the day had soured so early in the afternoon.

The truth of the matter was that Mallory didn't want to be put into that cliché position. She kept talking so that she wouldn't wind up kissing him. "You know, we're higher than the roller coaster now."

He turned to see that they were dangling a few feet above the roller coaster track. "So we are," he said as the ride started moving again. Mallory let out a quiet sigh of relief. "Are you mad at me?"

She looked at him quickly. "What makes you think that?"

"I don't know... The way you talked about the fire in the Mural Room made me wonder if you were... upset?"

"Why would I be upset that you tried to burn down a national treasure? Hell," she said, "the British did once."

"It wasn't entirely my idea..."

"You and Josh."

"Yes."

"I understand that the President was on the Truman balcony for a while."

"Believe me, I had a delightful lecture on the Truman balcony after that," Sam said. "Especially after Josh blamed me for the entire thing."

"He blamed you for all of it?"

"If anything, I think we were both quite active in the plot and the execution of it." They looked at each other. "And then he let me talk about my feelings towards you while you were behind me, listening to the entire thing. Y'know, I'm beginning to wonder just whose best friend he is."

The gondola came to a stop at the bottom and the worker opened the door. Sam and Mallory climbed out and started walking around again. Mallory didn't say anything; she was too busy wondering what *to* say after that.

"I'm sorry," she said.

"I don't want your pity, Mallory," he said. "I just... I don't know. I just want to talk to you about what happens. But I don't want you to feel sorry for me afterwards, especially not once it's water under the bridge."

"Okay."

"What now?" he asked.

Mallory glanced around, then grinned up at him. "Well, Skipper, I think you need to take command of your boat."

"What boat?"

"That one," she said, pointing to the large, swinging pirate ship.

After a cruise on the pirate ship, Sam and Mallory were in better spirits. As they swung back and forth, they sang "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum" as loud as they dared sing. Every time Sam spoke in his pirate-ese with one eye squinted shut, he would send Mallory into giggles.

"Mind if we play?" Sam asked, nodding to the ring-toss booth.

"You want to?" she asked.

"Yeah," Sam said, reaching for his wallet.

"Okay."

He paid for two sets of five rings, handing one set to her. "Ladies first," he said.

Mallory tossed her rings one at a time, not really aiming. None of them landed on a bottle. "They're rigged anyway," she said as her final ring bounced off a bottle and landed on the ground.

Sam took a step away from the counter and took careful aim. His first three rings missed, but his fourth ring landed on a grand prize bottle. Mallory looked at him curiously. "How'd you do that?"

He grinned. "Same basic principal as sugar-packet tossing." He squinted his left eye closed. "Pick yer prize, matie."

~~~

C.J. dialed her cellular phone and listened to the rings. "Pick up, Sam. Pick up, Sam." She didn't know that he had left both his pager and cellular phone in his hotel room for the afternoon. When no one answered, she dialed Toby's cell phone.

"Yeah?" he barked.

"Toby, it's C.J."

"What's going on? You just messed up my putt."

"When did you hear from Sam last?"

"I don't know, since before we left for here. Why?"

"Because he's still not here. The President said he sent him to some meeting with the aquarium people, but I've called over there and can't seem to get him. I've tried his cell phone. I've paged him."

"Why do you need him for anyway?" asked Toby.

"Aha! Birdie!" said Josh triumphantly. Toby rolled his eyes.

"Just that he was supposed to be here to help me guide the press through the photo-ops and Q&A sessions."

"And he's not there."

"No."

"Call Leo, I guess. He's with the President. I'm here with the flunkies from the state senate and Josh, who is delighting in my golfing failures."

The door opened. C.J. couldn't see who had entered. "Oh, maybe this is him now."

"If it is, kindly tell him that he needs to quit being so disruptive to my golf game, would you?"

"Yeah, sure," C.J. said distractedly, terminating the call.

~~~

Mallory and her two-foot stuffed Scooby-Doo were buckled into a bumper car and headed straight for Sam. "Gotcha!" Mallory called as she maneuvered her car away from the spinning car that held Sam.

Sam pressed the gas pedal to the floor harder if that were possible to catch up to her, pushing her along the track from behind. Soon, the power in both their cars died. The ride was over. Unbuckling, the two climbed out and left the little track.

"You should have seen your face when I spun you around," she said, glancing at him.

"Bet it couldn't compare to your face when I lapped you," he said, grinning.

"You think you're such a hot-shot driver, do you?"

"Yeah," he said. "I do."

"You and me," she said. "Go-karts."

"You're on!"

"Actually, no, wait... What time is it?"

Sam checked his watch. "Three fifteen."

"We'll race after dinner. Right now we have to go back to the hotel and change."

"What? Dinner at four?"

"No," she said, smiling impishly at him. "Shagging lessons at four. Dinner at five thirty."

Stay tuned...

~Lines from the next installment: "Sam could have, single-handedly, prevented all of this?" asked Bartlet.

Part 6

 

 

 

Home        What's New        Author Listings        Title Listings