For notes and disclaimer, please see part one.

Previously, on the West Wing: Sam and Mallory learn to shag, enjoy their dinner, and head back to the amusement park. The rest of the gang goes to dinner at another restaurant. Leo and Bartlet put it together that Sam and Mallory used them to get the day off. Bartlet thinks it's rather amusing; Leo doesn't. During dinner, Bartlet clues in the nervous Senior Staffers about Sam's mysterious whereabouts.

Zoey looked hopefully at her father as they rode back to the hotel from the restaurant.

"What is it?" asked Bartlet.

"I was wondering... Mallory wanted to go to the amusement park that's near the hotel. I'd love to go—it looks like so much fun. It's been *so* long since I've ridden on a roller coaster."

"I sense a but coming on," Bartlet said.

"But the Secret Service says it's too dangerous."

"Then, sweetie, it's too dangerous," said Bartlet.

"But Daddy!"

"Let me guess their concerns: too many exits, too many places for snipers to hide, too open, too many rides that can be faulty. A bolt may come loose, fall from the sky, and hit you on the top of your head, knocking you out cold."


"If they say 'no,' Zoey, I'm inclined to agree with them."

"Couldn't they close the park like they close some restaurants?" she tried.

"I don't know."

"Could you find out for me?" she asked.

Bartlet was determined not to turn soft. He didn't want to turn to mush in his daughter's hands like he normally did. "Oh, very well," he said. "I'll see what I can do."

She grinned and gave him a hug.


After the Thunderbolt, Mallory looked up at Sam. "There's only *one* more ride that I want to ride."

"What is it?" he asked.

She smiled, took his hand, and guided him halfway around the park to the carousel. "I've always loved these," she said. "Ever since I was a little girl."

Sam could only imagine an adorable red-haired child begging Leo for *one* more ride on the carousel. *One* more ride on the pretty horses.

Flashing their wrists at the ride worker, they were allowed onto the carousel. They wandered around until they found two horses side-by-side that they both liked. The one Mallory climbed on was white with pale pink flowers and light blue ribbons in its mane and tail. Sam's steed was decked out in Americana: red, white, and blue.

As the ride started and Mallory and Sam started gradually moving up and down on their horses, the airy melody played. The rest of the park—the noises, the lights, the people—all melted away into nothingness. They watched each other, their eyes never leaving the other as they rode in seemingly endless circles.

But the ride did stop, and when it did, Sam's horse was near the ground while Mallory's was stuck in the highest position. Sam slid off his horse easily and helped guide Mallory off hers. They stood there, on the wooden platform, looking in each other's eyes.

Sam reached out and cupped her face in one of his hands. She leaned into his touch, closing her eyes for a moment. He slipped his free arm around her, pulling her close. When she opened her eyes, their faces were mere inches away from each other. They each gradually helped to close the distance. Sam's lips brushed against hers lightly, gently. Her arms went around his shoulders and neck as the kiss continued and deepened.

The ride worker started walking around the carousel horses, making sure the children were secured and that everyone had given their tickets for the ride when she came across Sam and Mallory's tender embrace. She noticed the wristbands, smiled, then went to start the ride.

When they started moving, Sam held onto the pole to keep them standing as the kiss continued, undeterred by the ride starting up again. As the kiss slowly ended, Mallory looked up into his gorgeous blue eyes. "Sam," she said softly, running her fingers through his short hair.

"Yeah?" he asked breathlessly.

"Take me home?"

"Sure," he said as the ride slowly came to a stop again.

They walked hand-in-hand off the ride and down the path that led towards Ocean Boulevard. On the way out, they passed a little booth that sold Italian ices. The worker offered them free samples, so they stopped to give it a try. Satisfied, Sam paid for two full cups: strawberry for Mallory, lemon for him.

"This has been the best afternoon," Mallory said as they strolled along the sidewalk on the Boulevard, slowly meandering back towards the hotel.

He smiled. "It really has been. I don't know when I've had as much fun."

"We should do this again," she said as their hotel came into view.

"We should," he agreed.

"I still can't believe we managed to get you a half-day away from work."

"I can't believe Leo signed off on it. I mean, I can sort of understand the President allowing me to have the time off, but Leo... I thought he would be driving wedges between us forever. Of course, not that I'm entirely blaming your father, because I did a really nice job of driving my own wedges... Unintentionally of course."

"Skipper," she said softly as they walked through the parking lot to get to the hotel, "don't worry about it."

"I really didn't mean for—"

"Sh," she said. "It's over; it's behind us."


"Absolutely," she said, smiling at him. "How's your lemon?" she asked as they started walking up to their hotel floor.

"It's quite good. Your strawberry?"

"Mm," she said. "Delicious. You want to try?" she asked innocently as he walked her to her door.

"Well, sure," he said as she unlocked her door.

"Here," she said, scooping a spoonful and holding it out to him. As he started to go for it, she ate the spoonful, confusing him. Grinning mischievously, she grabbed Sam's arm and backed into her room, pulling him in with her. She closed the door before rocking up on her toes to kiss him. "How did that taste?" she asked as the kiss ended.

"Amazing," he whispered.

"Compare that to this," she said, scooping another spoonful of the strawberry ice and letting him eat it.

"It doesn't compare at all." He wanted to tell her he loved her. He wanted to open his mouth and let the three little words roll off his tongue. Even as he looked in her eyes, all he wanted to do was tell her how he felt about her. He couldn't, though. Somehow, he couldn't get his mouth to cooperate, to form the sounds he so desperately wanted her to hear.

Mallory watched him for a moment. She could almost see the wheels turning in his head. Even though she was deathly curious as to his thoughts, she didn't push him. "You don't have any late-night strategy meetings tonight or anything... do you?" she asked.

"No," he said.

"Good," she said. "Will you stay with me for a while? Talk to me?"

"Of course," he said, smiling.

She took his hand and guided him back to her bedroom—the room that overlooked the water. They both sat cross-legged on top of her bed, watching the waves and eating their ices, all the while reliving their afternoon.

"I never knew you had a great ring-tossing arm," she commented as she scraped the last spoonful of her ice from the bottom of her cup.

"Well, I guess you just never asked," he said, setting his empty cup on the night stand.

"What else do I not know about you?"

"I don't know. What don't I know about you?"

"That I'm sitting here," she said, putting her cup next to his, "hoping that you're not going to leave tonight."


"I'm not suggesting anything. I'm just saying... I'm just saying that I would love it if you stayed here tonight. We could stay up and talk... Or just sleep."


"Yeah?" she asked, half-afraid he was going to tell her he was leaving.

"I love you."

"Well, that was something I certainly didn't know. I may have suspected, but I didn't... Even after your discussion with Josh, I didn't think that you actually..."

"I-I should go," he said. He figured he had made a mistake in telling her, that she wasn't ready to hear that from him. He stood and started to take a step towards the door when Mallory spoke.

"You're stuttering again... Why?"

"Because, even if you didn't know that, you didn't want to know that," he said. "I'll see you in the morning—"

"I love you."

"What?" Sam asked, turning to look at her.

"Why do you think I asked Dad if I could come on this trip?"

"To get away from D.C.? To have a vacation?"

"To see if maybe I could... if maybe I could somehow get you back in my life."

"You came down here... because of me?"

"Yes," she said, nodding. She hesitated before asking, "Did it work?"

Sam sat down again. "So we're just going to talk?"

She nodded. "Maybe the occasional kiss," she said, her voice drifting off.

"I'd love to stay."


Josh sighed and knocked on Sam's door the next morning. "Open up, Sam. C'mon, man. You aren't hung over, are you?" he asked through the door.

"He's not there?" asked C.J.

"He's not answering. It's entirely possible he's not there or he's there and he's choosing to ignore us," said Josh before pounding on the door again.

"Where's Sam? He cut my paragraph from the wax speech *again*," groaned Toby.

"Payback for the drop-in," said Josh as he stopped his futile attempts on Sam's door.

"Senior Staff in my room in ten minutes," Leo said as he passed the group outside Sam's door.

"Well, most of us will be there, Leo," said Josh.

"What do you mean?" Leo asked, stopping and turning back to them.

"He's not answering," Josh said, nodding to Sam's door.

Leo rolled his eyes before walking up to the door and knocking loudly. "Sam. Senior Staff in ten. You'd better be there."

There was no response.

"You don't think he's missing do you?" asked C.J. "I mean, has anybody really seen him since after lunch yesterday?"

"Who are you talking about?" asked an unfamiliar voice.

Toby, Josh, Leo, and C.J. turned to see the hotel's night security guard sleepily making his way to the elevator.

"The guy staying in this room," Toby said. "Sam Seaborn."

"He has dark hair, right? Kinda slim build, about so high?" he asked, gesturing to Sam's approximate height.

"Yeah," said Josh.

"Oh, he's not in that room," said the guard.

"What do you mean?" asked Leo.

"He's in that one, seven-twenty-one."

"What's he doing in that room?" asked Toby.

"Do we even have that room checked out?" asked C.J.

"We've got this entire floor," said Leo. "Room seven-twenty-one is Mallory's room."

C.J. took a careful, nonchalant step away from Leo noting the anger in his voice. The Senior Staffers in the corridor looked to Mallory's door as if to send a silent message to Sam to stay put until Leo had moved on. Even though they were upset with him for skipping all afternoon and evening, they didn't want their young pal to be beaten to death in the hotel corridor by their boss.


Sam woke slowly, realizing a woman was in his arms. Looking down, he saw Mallory's bright red hair and smiled, remembering the time they had spent together the day before. They had fallen asleep sometime around one o'clock in each other's arms.

He took a deep, contented breath, not wanting to leave her. He would be perfectly happy to lie around all day with her at his side. However, he knew he couldn't do that so he checked his watch, expecting the time to be somewhere around six AM. His eyes bulged slightly when he saw that it was twenty after seven. Moving carefully, he tried to slip out from underneath Mallory but couldn't. As he moved, she snuggled closer to him. He smiled at the gesture, but really had to get up. Kissing the top of her head, he rolled her off of him as gently as possible and stood up.

"Sam?" she murmured.

"I have to go to work," he said. "But maybe you can meet us for lunch? I think we're doing the aquarium today. Meet us at Broadway at the Beach?" She nodded and snuggled into the warm spot he had made in her hotel bed. He kissed her forehead and whispered, "I love you," before tiptoeing out of the bedroom.

He noticed that his clothes were miserably wrinkled as he stepped into the hotel corridor. He blinked several times when he saw everyone in the hallway. When his eyes landed on Leo, he swallowed hard. "It's not... It's not what you think."

Toby, Josh, and C.J. all turned their attention to Leo, wanting to see his reaction.

Leo was silent but a look of disgust was clearly written on his face. "What's not what I think, Sam? You didn't spend the night with my daughter?"

"Nothing happened," said Sam.

"So you did spend the night with Mallory."

"Leo, she's a grown woman," he said. He wasn't about to start making excuses.

"Senior Staff in eight minutes now, Leo," said Josh, hoping to get his friend off the hook.

Leo never took his eyes off Sam, paying no attention to Josh. What surprised him most was that Sam didn't appear to be backing down in the least; Sam obviously wasn't scared of him. "I know she's a grown woman, Sam. I do recall being in the delivery room when she was born twenty-some years ago."

"Then what seems to be the problem?" Sam asked, his voice even.

"You played us."

"I'm sorry?"

"Mallory hit me up so you could have the night off and you went to the President for the afternoon," said Leo.

"We did that unintentionally. We didn't know what the other had done until Thursday night."

"Tell me you didn't spend Thursday night with her," Leo said, his gaze narrowing. "You came into the meeting the next morning holding onto your coffee for dear life. Tell me you weren't up late with my daughter the night before."

"Leo, I don't see how this is really any of your business."

C.J. took another step back.

"She's *my* daughter!"

"I love her!"


Mallory had tried to go back to sleep, wrapped up in the covers. It wasn't he same as being wrapped in Sam's arms. She could hear voices outside her room and, when they started yelling, she recognized Sam and her father. "Oh, shit," she muttered, leaping out of bed.


"You *what*?" asked Leo.

C.J. finally backed several feet away, grabbing Josh and Toby by the arms and pulling them along with her.

"I'm in love with Mallory," he said. "You've had to know that. Why else did you try to drive wedges between us?"

"Because I didn't want this to happen."

"Didn't want what?"

"To be on a trip with the President of the United States, have Mallory come along, and then see *you* walk out of her room."

"You'd rather see a hockey player come out of her room at seven twenty in the morning?"

"I'd rather not see *anyone* come out of her room at seven twenty in the morning."

"Even me?" Mallory asked, standing in the door with her hands on her hips.


"Don't 'baby' me," she said.

C.J., Toby, and Josh were torn: did they stay and watch the fight that would, inevitably, ensue? Or did they get the hell out of there while they still had all appendages intact? They left.

"How are you this morning?" Leo asked, eyeing Sam hard. "All right I trust?"

"I was fine until I hear the two of you arguing," she said, crossing to Sam and slipping her arm around his waist. Sam put his arm around her shoulders, pulling her to him.

"Mallory, I'm going to ask this once: you didn't, did you?"

Mallory rolled her eyes. "Sam, what have you told him?" she asked, looking up at him.

"Just that I love you," he said.

"That's all you need to know, Dad. You have a meeting."

"So does Sam."

"So go. The both of you. And don't kill each other."

Leo shot Sam one last painful glance before heading off. Sam and Mallory remained in the hallway.

"Sorry to drag you out of bed for that," he said.

"You didn't drag me. I couldn't let you take all the heat from my father."

"I have before."

"Yeah, but not for something like this. If my asking you to stay caused all of this—"

"Don't say you're sorry," he said. "Because I'm not."

"You're not?"

"No. Are you...?"

She smiled. "No. I'm very glad you stayed. Now, get going before he comes back and sees us standing here."

"Okay," he said before leaning down and pressing his lips to hers. She lingered in the kiss as long as she dared before nudging him towards his room.


"Later," he promised.

Stay tuned...

~Lines from the next installment:

"Tell me there hasn't been another hooker."

Part 8




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