For notes and disclaimer, please see part one.
Previously, on the West Wing: Sam returns from his trip and Lisa finally hears back from her family that everything is okay. Sam asks Lisa to go with him to a fund-raiser.
Lisa tugged at a lock of hair that absolutely refused to stay tucked behind her ear. "It's a quarter after seven. Sam's gonna be here any-" She heard a knock at her door. "He's early!" she muttered. She stepped into her high-heeled shoes and straightened her long skirt. Taking a deep breath, she walked, only a little shaky in the shoes, to the door and opened it.
Sam smiled at her, stunned at her beauty in the strapless burgundy evening gown. "Hi."
"Hi," she said.
"You look amazing."
"Thanks. So do you."
"You, um... Ready to go?"
"Sure. Just let me grab my..." He nodded and lingered at her door while she walked carefully back to her coffee table to retrieve her handbag and pulled her warm wrap off the back of her couch. "Y'know," she said as she walked back to him, turning off her lights and closing and locking the door, "normally I find these things to be terribly boring but I have the feeling tonight's going to be fun."
"Yeah?" She nodded. "I hope you're right."
"Me, too," she said. As the two started down the stairs of her apartment building, they both stole glances at each other. "I heard that, um, Cher was supposed to be here."
"Really?" asked Sam.
"Because I had heard Jimmy Buffett." Lisa grinned.
"That would be an interesting duet, don't you think?"
"Almost worth the price of admission."
"They should give poor staffers discounts, you know?" said Lisa.
"Oh, yeah. I mean... Three of these fund-raiser dinner things in a month and you're flat broke. How do they expect you to commute with no money for gas or for the Metro." Lisa smiled at him as they reached the lobby of her building.
"You should write your Congressman." He shook his head and started to open the door but stopped.
"Are you going to be warm enough?" he asked. "I mean, not only is it raining but it's... Well, cold."
"I'll be fine," she said, pulling her wrap around her. Sam picked up his umbrella, which he had left by the front door so as not to carry the soaking device through the entire building.
"Sam, I've lived here for a while now. I know how cold it can get," she said with a bright smile. He matched it.
"Okay," he said, leaning on the door to open it and opening his umbrella outside. He took a step out and under the umbrella and held his hand to her. Her smile became timid as she took his hand, hiking up her skirt a few inches with her free hand.
After navigating through the heavy traffic in the now full-fledged thunderstorm and checking their belongings, Sam and Lisa walked, arm in arm, into the main dining hall. "Is your boss going to be here?" Lisa asked.
"Last I heard," Sam said with a nod. "Yours?"
"He'll show up eventually I suppose." As Sam led Lisa towards their assigned dinner table, he whispered to her.
"Josh is probably going to have a field day with the two of us showing up together." She shrugged.
"He's not the only one. Besides," she said, hoping her voice wouldn't betray her, "it's not like there's really anything going on. We're just two friends out to survive a potentially dull night."
"Yeah," he said, suddenly wishing that perhaps there could be something more. He pulled her chair out for her when they arrived at their table.
"Thank you," she said softly as she sat down. He nodded before taking his seat beside her. She had hoped to have a pleasant conversation with Sam but several passing staffers from the Senate joined their table and, as at any bipartisan political function, talk was light fluff. No one wanted to step on anyone else's toes during the off hours for the most part. There were always exceptions to the rule, but, unless there was a strong political motive, Democrat and Republican workers from the Hill remained civil.
"Samuel!" Both Sam and Lisa turned to see Josh with some blonde on his arm.
"Joshua," Sam said, standing to shake his hand. "How are you?"
"Couldn't be better, my friend," Josh said, shaking Sam's hand. "Lisa, how are you this chilly, rainy evening?"
"Just fine, Josh," she said. "Who's your friend?"
"May I introduce Miss Trudy Solo," Josh said. "Trudy, this is Sam Seaborn and Lisa Cole." The blonde smiled. Sam wondered if he had found her in a Calvin Klien advertisement.
"Nice to meet you, Trudy," Lisa said.
"Likewise," said Sam. Trudy had yet to say anything.
"You guys mind if we join your table?" asked Josh. "They've got us next to Kenneth 'the Library of Congress' Cooley down there. I swear, if I have to sit and listen to him give another lesson on the writings of John Adams, I may have to throttle the man."
"Well, I guess not," Sam said. None of the other patrons at the table minded either. Everyone scooted closer together to allow the two additional diners to pull up chairs. Lisa silently delighted in Sam's being right next to her. She could barely move without "accidentally" bumping into him.
Shortly after everyone was situated, dinner was served and the scheduled speakers began their talks, proclaiming the benefits of giving money to the American Heart Association. The entertainment began after dessert had been delivered. Neither the calypso crooner nor the seventies diva were among those set to perform. It was some little-known band but the music had a fairly nice beat and decent lyrics.
Sam picked at his blueberry-topped cheesecake. Lisa was none too thrilled with hers either. He glanced at her and noticed she hadn't even touched her cheesecake. Putting his fork down, he leaned over to her, not that it took much effort. "Would you dance with me?" She looked at him, trying to remember she was actually sitting next to Sam and not in some eternally bland meeting on Capitol Hill.
"Say again? My head is somewhere else."
"I asked if you'd dance with me." She smiled slowly.
"I'd love to." The two stood up. Sam took her hand and guided her to the nearest open spot between tables. There was no real "dance floor." They were the only two bothering to take advantage of the music. Sam was hesitant, taking her in his arms. Lisa was more willing, wasting no time placing one hand on his arm as the two danced close to each other, in part because of the limited space, in part because they both wanted to. The longer the song continued, the closer the two got. Sam's gaze held hers. He couldn't have cared less that there were some five hundred pairs of eyes on the lone couple dancing.
Josh couldn't help but grin as he watched the two sway to the music a few feet away. He glanced at Trudy, halfway thinking he should ask her to do the same, but decided against it. Sam and Lisa needed the moment. And the couple definitely owned it. All interest was lost in blueberry cheesecake. Instead it was focused on the two young staffers. Sam spun Lisa with the music before pulling her back to him, wrapping his arms around her. Lisa's eyes involuntarily closed as she leaned against him. She could no longer deny it. She loved being that close to him.
Sam allowed himself to get lost in the music. It was almost as though he were living out a dream, dancing with her, holding her close. He couldn't describe it, but there was something about being with her. She had a calming influence over him; he didn't have to worry about making a fool out of himself whenever he was with her. By that time, the song was slowly drawing to a close, which brought the couple even closer. Sam dipped her with the final few notes. As he pulled her back to her feet, their lips almost met. In fact, they would have, had the diners not offered them a standing ovation.
The moment broken, Sam turned a dark shade of red to match Lisa's dress as he glanced around. Lisa could have cried, realizing for the first time just how much she longed for Sam's kiss. When he looked back at her, Lisa shrugged lightly but smiled. Josh came rushing up to them, clapping and grinning. "Fantastic! I didn't know you could dance, Sam."
"That makes two of us," said Sam. Lisa laughed and swallowed her complement for her dance partner. She'd tell him later.
"Hey, Fred and Ginger," said the lead singer of the band, "if you ever need a job, we'll take you. You can tour with us." Everyone in the hall laughed. Sam's face slowly returned to its natural color. "How about another song?" The patrons cheered, so the band started again. Josh retreated to the table and asked Trudy for a dance. She politely refused as Sam and Lisa started dancing again. Lisa's fingers traced Sam's lapel as he held her.
"What do you say we get out of here," she said.
"You're ready to go? Leaving all our adoring fans?" he teased.
"Very ready," she said. He nodded, saddened that their night was coming to an end. After a stop by the coat check, they headed out into the night. The rain had slaked off to light drizzle. "I was thinking," she began, glancing at him as they climbed into his car.
"What do you think about going out for ice cream?"
"Ice cream?" She nodded. "Don't see why not," he said, remembering she hadn't touched her cheesecake.
"I'll treat." Sam nodded but there was no way he was going to let her pay for it. They drove around until they found an ice cream place that was open. They stuck out like sore thumbs in their formal garb compared to everyone else in the little restaurant. Sam ordered a hot fudge sundae while Lisa went for a cup of a new flavor-Capitol Hill Crunch, some odd concoction of vanilla ice cream with caramel swirls, crisped rice, and peanuts. To avoid being the center of attention yet again, they left after getting their orders. Lisa tried to pay but Sam absolutely refused to allow her to do so.
They dined in his car, watching the traffic roll by in front of them through the wet windshield. "Neat light show," he commented. She nodded and smiled.
"Hot fudge sundae, huh?"
"It's drizzling, it's November, it's cold. How could you go for anything else?"
"I dunno," she said. "Here, try this," she said, offering him a taste of her ice cream. She could see him hesitate. "It's really good." He looked in her eyes briefly then leaned over for it.
"Mmm," he said, swallowing the bite. "It is."
"I wouldn't lie to you," she grinned. After a moment in comfortable silence, she shivered.
"Here," he said, scooping up a spoonful of the hot fudge. She smiled as he drizzled it over her dessert before kissing his cheek.
"You're awfully sweet." She suddenly felt the urge to make up for the kiss they almost had and missed at the fund-raiser. She caught herself, though, and started eating her ice cream again. Closing her eyes, she leaned against the headrest, savoring the hot fudge. They finished their ice cream in silence and Sam drove back to her apartment, walking her up to her door.
"Thanks, Sam. I had fun," she said, smiling contentedly.
"We should do this more often, y'know? I mean, we go to so many of these functions. They were always boring until tonight."
"Yeah. That'd be nice." She nodded.
"So, I'll meet you tomorrow by the Potomac?"
"After that ice cream, definitely," said Sam.
"But it was sinfully good, don't you think?" He nodded, grinning.
"Well, good night, Lisa."
"Good night, Sam," she said quietly. He leaned down and kissed her cheek quickly. They had traded platonic kisses for months. He looked in her eyes one last time before walking away. Lisa had to lean against her door to remain standing, wishing he weren't leaving quite so soon. Sam knew he couldn't chance a look back at her. If he did, he'd be rushing back to her side. That was someplace he didn't want to go. He only managed to get four steps away from her before turning to glance at her. The way she looked, the way he felt... He couldn't leave, not yet. He strode back to her and took her in his arms before kissing her lips hungrily. Lisa didn't refuse him; in fact she had longed for his kiss for so long that it was very hard for her to believe that she was actually getting one from him. Her arms went around his neck, trying to get closer to him.
Sam temporarily forgot who he was as the kiss deepened. One of his hands went to her bare shoulder, under her wrap. Lisa dropped her purse as the kiss continued. The gentle thud it made caused Sam to remember who he was and what he was doing. He pulled back from her. She tried to follow him, to kiss him again, but he released her and took a step away from her. "Sorry," he said before turning and running down the hall and down the stairs. Lisa was left, standing in front of her door with her mouth hanging open. She wanted to call out to him, but found her vocal cords refused to work with her.
"No," she whispered when she finally found her voice. "No," she cried, grabbing her purse, unlocking her door and disappearing into her apartment, thoroughly heartbroken. She kicked off her shoes and rushed to her bedroom, flopping down on the bed. Her stuffed donkey, Sam, was waiting on her. She hugged him to her but it certainly wasn't the same.
"What the hell did I do?" Sam asked himself as he ran down to his car. "Why the hell did I do that?" As he reached his car, he kicked the tire as hard as he could. "Damn it!" he yelled into the drizzling night. He looked back up at Lisa's building with tears in his eyes. "I'm so sorry, Lisa. I'm so very sorry."
Lisa was stretched and ready to go for their morning run, waiting on Sam down by the Potomac. She hadn't been able to get much sleep the night before but she had to see him again. Glancing at her watch, she realized he was late. Sam was never late. If anything, he was normally ten minutes early. Fighting back tears, she decided to give him another fifteen minutes. When those minutes came and went, she granted another ten. After having waited for an additional forty-five minutes, she finally came to the realization that he wasn't coming. She cried out softly once before jogging up to her car, dialing her cell phone as she went.
"This is Sam. Sorry I missed you. Please leave a message and I'll get back to you." She took a quick deep breath before the beep.
"Sam, pick up." Nothing. "Please pick up; I know you're there. I just want to talk to you for a minute, 'kay?" When silence greeted her again, she could no longer hold back her tears. "Please, Sam... I need to talk to you." She heaved an uneasy breath and hung up. She might as well go in to work. No one was in Congressman Rollins' office. It would be quiet and free of memories.
Sam wound up driving around the city for a while after leaving Lisa's apartment. He was so mad at himself he could barely see straight, convinced that he had gone and ruined their friendship. She had been his first friend in Washington, the first person who had even bothered to exchange pleasantries with no reason to do so. And then in one weak moment, he had screwed that up completely.
When he did make it home, he couldn't sleep. He wound up going into his office early. He had a speech that had to be written by Monday morning and he had been having trouble with it. Even while trying to sit at his desk and focus on his work, he couldn't. Carrying a legal pad with him, he started wandering around the building. He hoped that by walking around, it would somehow jog his mind into thinking about something other than Lisa and what he had done the night before.
"Sam." He stopped walking immediately upon hearing Lisa's voice. At first, he thought he was hearing things.
"Lisa," he said as she stormed up to him, in her running suit.
"We have to talk."
"Lisa, I really-"
"Not out here," she said, grabbing his arm and walking with long, determined steps to her office. Sam tried hard to come up with some excuse for his actions, seeing as how Lisa was in no mood to talk in the hall. As she led him into Congressman Rollins' empty office, he was still at a loss. She didn't stop until they reached her office, whereupon she slammed the door.
"Lisa, I really didn't-"
"Why?" He shrugged lightly.
"I'm still trying to figure it out."
"Why did you say that?"
"Say what?" He was confused because he thought the kiss had caused all the trouble.
"It's obvious you wanted it and, believe me, Sam, if I hadn't wanted it, I never would have let you get that far. Why did you say you were sorry?" she asked as tears started streaming down her cheeks.
"Why, Sam? Why'd you say it? Just tell me why you said it." He was taken aback to say the very least by her actions.
"I didn't want to ruin what we have." She closed her eyes tightly.
"Why can't we take what we have to the next level?" Sam couldn't stand to see her in pain. He dropped his legal pad and pen and walked to her, hugging her. "I wanted it, Sam," she said, holding him as close to her as she could. "I want it just as badly as you do."
"I don't want to lose you."
"Who says you'll lose me?"
"History has a tendency to repeat itself." She cried harder, causing him to squeeze her tighter.
"I want *you*, Sam," she said as tears spilled onto his shoulder. "And I could care less about history."
"Don't tell me you don't want me," she said. "Please don't tell me you don't." He moved her until he could look into her pain-filled eyes. "Please, Sam," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. He dried her tears.
"What does this tell you?" he asked before his lips brushed past hers, gently at first. Lisa held onto him for all she was worth. The kiss slowly increased in passion until they had to stop for lack of air.
"Kiss me again, Sam," she said. "Kiss me again and don't ever stop." He didn't think twice about the request before filling it.
Lisa and Sam (Oh, very well... and Josh, too ;) ) will return in 'The Campaign Trail'...