For notes and disclaimer, please see part one.
Previously, on the West Wing: Lisa doubts the system, leaving Sam to try to make her feel better before a trip to New Jersey.
Lisa was idly shuffling a deck of cards, talking with someone on the telephone when a Sam poked his head in her office. "Ma'am, I understand your concern... No, seriously, I've been there, done that... No, what I don't get is what you think we can do up here... Have you contacted the city office?" He noticed that she still had a bandage on the back of her hand but it was considerably smaller than the one he had put on her. Her forehead was only slightly discolored from where she had hit it on the sink. "Yeah, I would... Okay, here's what you do. You call him up and say, 'Listen here, I've called my congressman and this is what his office told me to do.' You detail your concerns to him, you tell him you want answers and you're not above a lawsuit. That should clear the problem up real quick..." Lisa fanned out the deck then, with a flick of her wrist, split the deck into two halves. Holding them perpendicular to each other, she tapped one on the other. One half of the deck disappeared before Sam's unbelieving eyes only to reappear a moment later. "Yeah, you can tell him you talked to me. My name is Lisa Cole; I'm Congressman Rollins' chief of staff... Cole, C-O-L-E and Rollins, R-O-L-L-I-N-S..." She went back to shuffling the deck. "Yes, ma'am, you take care now," she said before hanging up. She sighed heavily, preparing to bridge her deck.
"Rough day?" Fifty-two cards went flying.
"Sam!" she said, standing up. "When did you get in?"
"Just now," he said, entering her office and closing the door behind him. "How'd you do that card thing?" She smiled.
"Magic. Nice trip?"
"Yeah," he said. "Magic?"
"I haven't done any tricks in a while," she said. "I used to put on shows when I was a kid. Something to do when I was bored."
"How come I've never seen you do any magic tricks?"
"I haven't been bored in a while. But, with you gone," she shrugged.
"Oh. Well, how are you?"
"I'm... I'm good, thanks."
"Seriously, I'm good," she said. "My sink is fixed. My super is okay with it."
"Lisa, I didn't ask how your sink was, although that's good to hear."
"I'm fine, you?"
"I don't believe you."
"I'm hanging in there. I'm doing what I can, like talk to some crazy lady from Memphis who wants to know about schools and tutors and things like that."
"Have you heard from your family at all?"
"I haven't. I've called but..."
"I'm sure they're fine."
"Sam, the phone's been disconnected." He was shocked, she could tell. "I've been calling the school where my mother works but she hasn't returned my calls. If I don't hear back in one way or another, I'm taking off this weekend to go home."
"I'm sorry, I-"
"Don't be," she said. "There's nothing for you to be sorry for."
"Is there anything I can do?" She shook her head.
"I'm glad you're back." He crossed to her.
"I brought you something."
"You shouldn't have."
"It's kind of silly but, when I saw it, I knew you had to have it."
"What?" she asked. He pulled a bag from behind his back, pulling out a red, white, and blue stuffed donkey. She smiled and actually laughed as she took it. "Oh, he's adorable. Thank you," she said, hugging it to her.
"I figured, he could help you out the next time I have to leave on one of these trips. Or when you go and I can't go with you." She set the donkey on her desk and hugged Sam.
"That's so very thoughtful of you; thank you."
"You're welcome. I hated leaving you like I did Monday morning."
"I wanted to be here for you."
"I know." She looked at the donkey then back up at him. "Now you always will be."
On Friday evening, Lisa was packing her suitcases and trying to locate an airplane ticket when her telephone rang. "Hello," she said.
"Lisa." She was silent. "You there?"
"Hi. Um, wh-what... How are you?"
"Are you? I mean, really?"
"Of course. We're Coles. You can't do anything to us and get away with it." She smiled.
"Sorry we couldn't talk to you sooner."
"That's okay. I was concerned when the phone was..."
"Took us a few days to get to town to straighten out the bill-it rained last night, had too much to do 'round here. Cable woulda been off, too, except we live so far out." Lisa smiled.
"The advantages of living out in the country."
"You bet, Lisa. How are you, my city girl?"
"I'm fine, Dad. Thanks."
"Mama wants to know if you've found yourself a man yet?"
"Oh, golly. You gonna start that again? Not yet, maybe."
"He's a really good friend, he cares about me."
"He got a name?" She laughed.
"You know your Mama wants to know."
"His name is Sam," she said, unpacking her donkey, which she also named Sam, from the top of her carry-on suitcase.
"And he's very nice... Very smart... Handsome and sweet..."
As more months rolled by, Sam and Lisa had started going for morning runs along the Potomac after she had heard him complain of no time to exercise in a gym. They both started getting up an extra hour early to go for a jog. "So," Sam said as they went running along the banks one morning in mid-November.
"Yeah?" she asked.
"You going to this fund-raiser thing Saturday night?"
"Yeah. You?" she asked, glancing at him.
"Actually, I was thinking."
"'Bout what?" she asked.
"About... Well, let me back up."
"I was talking to Josh yesterday."
"And he threatened to tie me up by my typewriter ribbon if I went stag to this thing."
"I thought you use a computer," she said, knowing exactly what he meant. She certainly hoped he wasn't going to ask her whom he should ask on a date. She didn't think she could stand that.
"I do," Sam said. "But that's beside the point."
"What is your point?"
"I don't want to ask anybody but I don't want Josh tying me up by my typewriter ribbon."
"Well, since you don't have a typewriter ribbon, I wouldn't worry about it."
"Would you go with me?" She tripped, nearly falling flat on her face. Sam grabbed her arm before that could happen and pulled her up. "You okay?" he asked anxiously. She couldn't answer that. She was still back at his previous question and shocked to be in his arms. "Lisa?"
"Are you okay?"
"Are you sure you're okay?" She nodded. "Is something wrong?"
"I-I'm sorry, could you ask me that again?"
"Ask you what?"
"Ask me what you asked before I fell."
"Would you go to the fund-raiser thing with me? Just as friends?" he asked.
"Yes," she said, smiling.
"I should pick you up at seven thirty? It'll take us at least half an hour to park."
"Are you okay?"
"Yes." He looked at her uneasily.
"Is that all you can say?"
"No," she said. He smiled at her.
"Yes." He shook his head.
"Should we keep running?"
"Thank you, Sam," she said as he released her. They stood there, looking at each other for a moment, before starting on the track again. After running for a moment of silence, Lisa spoke up. "Last one back to the parking lot buys breakfast," she said before sprinting off. Sam hesitated for half a step before charging on.
Josh was having an argument with someone on the telephone. Sam watched, standing in his office doorway, not really wanting to interrupt. "You think I'm scared of you? Ha! Frankly, we're tired of your indecision. Make up your mind or get off the Hill." With that, Josh slammed the phone. "Take that..."
"You got a minute?"
"Sure. C'mon in." Sam entered Josh's office fully and closed the door behind him. "What can I do for you?"
"I think I may have made a mistake."
"What'd you do this time?" Sam's shoulders drooped.
"Gee, thanks, Josh."
"Sorry, sorry. Have a seat and tell me all about it."
"You know how you said you'd string me up by my typewriter ribbon if I didn't ask somebody to this fund-raiser thing?"
"Yes, I remember that conversation, considering I started that conversation."
"Well, I asked somebody."
"Good for you."
"No, not good for me."
"Why not?" asked Josh. "Who'd you ask?" He took a sip of coffee.
"Lisa." Josh nearly spewed coffee out his nose.
"You asked who?"
"It's about time, man."
"What are you talking about?"
"I mean, thank goodness you asked her. I was beginning to think that maybe you were dead."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, Sam, that it's about time!"
"I don't understand." Josh shook his head and placed his coffee down.
"Of course you wouldn't, poor deluded Sam."
"What's going on?" Josh took a deep breath; he was going to need it.
"Speech writer?" Josh closed his eyes temporarily, knowing explaining to Sam was going to be harder than he had first anticipated.
"Well, yes, but... Let's look at something much more basic. You're a guy, right?"
"And Lisa's a girl."
"No, not okay. Yes or no?"
"There you go. Now, what normally happens between two reasonably good-looking young people of the opposite sex?"
"But she's a friend."
"I don't want to jeopardize this."
"If dinner had the power to kill your friendship with Lisa, I think it would be long since gone. I mean, hell, all three of us go to lunch most days. I know the two of you meet for breakfast and jogging-God knows why you do that running thing... You go for drinks, late dinners... Trust me, your friendship with Lisa is fine."
"But this is different."
"I asked her and she fell."
"I'm sorry?" Josh asked.
"I asked her if she'd go to this thing with me on Saturday night and she fell."
"Where were you when you asked her?"
"We were going for our morning run." The image Josh got was priceless; he burst out laughing. "Josh!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. You asked her and she fell. Okay."
"But not really."
"Not really what?"
"She didn't really fall."
"How do you not really fall?"
"I caught her, got her back on her feet."
"You swept her off her feet," Josh said with a grin.
"No, I caught her before she fell on the concrete track."
"Think like a sensitive, romantic guy like me for a second."
"Sensitive, romantic guy like you?" Sam asked incredulously.
"I'm Casanova. Ask anybody."
"Oo-kay," Sam said skeptically.
"Do you want my help or not?"
"All right. Here's what you do, 'kay? You bring her red roses 'cause girls like that. Rent a nice car 'cause yours is a POS."
"It is not."
"Sam, please. The thing refuses to run every other Thursday."
"Rent a car. A nice one, something sleek that just reeks of money."
"Girls go for things like that. Now, you go, you pick her up, compliment her on her dress and her eyes-definitely her eyes, 'kay?"
"As you whisk her down to your rented car, whisper sweet nothings in her ear." Josh could tell Sam was getting uncomfortable with the whole thing. "You do want this to be a great date, don't you?"
"It's not a date! It's two friends going to a fund-raiser."
"Sam, it's a date. Why else do you think Lisa *fell* when you asked her to go? Because she thinks it's a date."
"That's *exactly* why I came to you! Because I'm afraid of that! How do I get out of this?"
"Get out? Sam! You can't get out of this, not without breaking Lisa's heart." Sam covered his face with his hands.
"This is exactly what I was afraid of."
"Well, you're just going to have to get over it."
"I can't go on a date with Lisa," he said, uncovering his face.
"Why the hell not! She's not smart enough?"
"Are you kidding?"
"She's not fun to be with?"
"I can't help but smile when I'm with her."
"She's not pretty enough?"
"She's the most beautiful woman I've ever met!"
"Then what the *hell* is your problem?" Sam opened his mouth but no sound came out. He had just admitted he found Lisa, among other things, attractive. "That's what I thought."
"What have I done?"
"You, my friend, have done the *smartest* thing in your life, trust me." Sam stood and vacantly headed for the door. "Where are you going?"
"I don't know."