Disclaimer in Part 1
Author's Note: I want to thank everybody who has given me feedback to this story
and 'The Game'. Special thanks to the people on the SamSeabornFanFic list.
You're the ones who have said the most. :)
I'm so sorry for not getting this up sooner. I forgot I had only put it on one
list so far. Oops. Part 6 will be out soon.
Archive: anyone who wants it can have it. And that includes my other fic too.

In Love With the Other Party Part 5/?

"Are you ready for this Sam?" I am still kind of concerned for his welfare. Leo
isn't known for his soothing touch. He's known for knocking his opponents into
the ground with a sledgehammer. I am slightly startled to realize that my
knuckles are white from gripping my phone too hard.
"I'll be fine. I've got you, remember?" He's so sweet. And he's mine. That
thought alone helps me to relax.
"This is hard ball politics Sam. Leo's always treated you as a friend, now
you're the opponent. He won't be pulling any punches. None."
"I know that, and I'm ready. I've got you to anchor me." Yep, I'm his anchor.
Jading is not in our future. I just hope to God he's ready. "I'm not the only
one who should be prepared for a beating today."
"Huh?" I don't get it. And I say as much.
He elaborates, thankfully. "The comments. You know, 'Sam's got a girl,' and
'wonder what kind she is this time,' kind of things."
Oh. I hadn't thought of it that way. But it doesn't really matter. The comments
can't touch me. I know who I am and so does he, and that's all that really
matters in the long run. "Don't worry about me. Most people shut up when I walk
by. You know, being the Republican and all. Plus, I'm not supposed to be
outspoken in this fight, remember? I'm the shadow support. The hidden player."
I'm realizing more and more that politics is like poker. You are dealt a hand
and that's what you have to play. Play the cards well and bam!--you're a
kick-ass politician. And if you're judging by that scale, Leo's got three decks
and extra cards up his sleeves. He's the master. Unbeatable. When I said the big
boys, I meant that I was hoping to move up the ladder a little in the way of
opponents but Leo McGarry is like leaping to the top of the ladder without any
stops on the way. I mean, you don't even touch a rung on the way up.
I know what cards I have though. Innocence, Mystery, Republican, Looks, and
Invisibility. In other words, I'm the pretty, innocent looking Republican
everyone wants to pretend isn't there. That's a plus for our side.
Right now, Leo's only got a few cards and the rest are half-formed ideas and
suspicions. He's got Boss, Experience, Workers, and Family. To translate, he's
the experienced boss who's got workers by the barrel at his disposal and Sam's
ex on his side.
Sam's only got Identity and Skill Level. He's the one who hasn't been tested in
the 'hard ball' political world yet. Leo can only guess at what he can do. The
only other thing he's got is the name of the date. Me. And that information can
be found somewhat easily with careful surveillance.
We are the considerably weaker side. But hey, I'm always up for a challenge.
I'm young, blonde and Southern. What's more challenging than that?
I think Sam's been itching for a good battle-with-words for a while now. He's
got his chance and he's not going to waste it.
"Ainsley? Ainsley?"
"Oh, sorry Sam. I was just lost in thought for a second."
"Okay, but I've got to get to work now. Wish me luck and I'll see you there. I
love you."
"I love you too."
"Bye."
"Bye." Click. Click. "Good luck," I whisper softly over the whine of the dial
tone.
***************
Okay, I can do this. I step into the bullpen and everyone turns and looks at
me. Everyone's so solemn. It's like I'm marching to my death or something. And
they probably think I am, all things considered. All things being the fact that
I'm known for my written words, not by my political prowess. Not by a long shot.
Well, I guess I'll just have to learn to fight dirty. It can't be that hard.
My plan: play meek and timid, and don't let Leo anywhere near what he wants to
know. Pretty simple, I guess. But I've always heard that the simplest plans
always work the best. Time to put that to the test. I step up to Leo's door and
knock lightly.
"Come in," Can be faintly heard from within. I take a deep breath and walk in.
I've suddenly realized what this is like. Getting into the hard politics, I
mean. It's like when you first learn how to swim. Most people usually just get a
toe or two wet at a time. I'm going to do a cannon ball of the highest diving
board in the deep end. Into a pool full of hungry piranhas. I just hope I've got
enough protective gear.
"Take a seat Sam."
I sit. What else can you do when Leo McGarry tells you to do something? You
have to do it. It's an unwritten rule in this place. And since I've been in this
place for a long time I think I might have a slight advantage, or at least, not
as much of a disadvantage as I'd thought.
I know how Leo works on people. What he does to get them to come around to his
way of thinking. I know all of his pressure tactics. They're like minefields to
be avoided at all cost. Because if you step on one he's got you. There's very
little wiggle room to get out of one of his traps. The only person I've ever
seen do that is Josh. And that was only once and Leo was preoccupied. Very
preoccupied.
Well, this is what I've wanted, to play the big time, I'd better learn to deal
with it. You know what they say; be careful what you wish for...
"I'm not going to beat around the bush or play politics with you Sam." Yeah,
right. "I just want to know her name." And then what happens when you get it,
huh? You'll fire her, forbid me to see her, the press will condemn her, and
we'll both be miserable. But you already know that, don't you? Or, you would
have come to that conclusion if you knew who she was. You're also assuming that
I don't. I'm not stupid. Now all I have to do is prove that.
"I'm not telling you. Sir." Be respectful. Respectful is good.
"You know I can find out very easily. And use whatever means necessary."
"Yes I know you can, and I know you won't."
His eyebrows look like they're ready to climb into his hair. And I wouldn't be
surprised if they didn't stop there.
"And how do you know that?"
"Because that would be an acute invasion of privacy and I know you respect me
more than that." With that sentence he explodes. I didn't even know he was
angry.
"This isn't about privacy or respect Sam! It's about getting re-elected in two
years! Who do you think is going to vote for a guy that has a wise-ass, a
hot-temper, an ex-drug addict and alcoholic, and a womanizer on his staff? Huh?
Who, Sam? No answer? That's right! Give they boy a prize! Nobody! So if I can't
get this thing straightened out and be able to tell the press that you were out
to dinner with a cousin or something, the loss of the re-election I can place
firmly on the childish antics of an incompetent Senior Staff!"
Somewhere in the middle of that he had stood and pointed a finger at me. When
he was done he let his arm drop to his side and rested his hands heavily on the
table. But I was confused. I didn't understand.
It won't be our fault if we lose the re-election. It's the people's choice.
That's the beauty of free will. It's unpredictable and uncontrollable. The
people aren't the only ones who have to make choices. Us Senior Staffers do to.
CJ had to choose to not try a relationship with Danny. Toby had to choose to go
after hate groups. Josh had to choose to live when he was on that operating
table. Just like I'm choosing now.
"Leo." He looks at me as I slowly rise to my feet. "You have been like a father
to me. A mentor. Don't make me choose between this place and her. Please."
He searches my face, my eyes, for a long time. Searching for--I don't know.
Sincerity maybe? Conviction? Determination? Love for her and this place? Torment
at the possibility of having to make a choice? I'm not sure, but I think he
found whatever he was looking for.
"You really love her don't you?"
I feel the need to look him in the eye as I say this. "Yes." And now, for some
strange reason, he appears hesitant.
"I know it's not my place, just like I know I overstepped my bounds last night,
but, why? I mean it's been, what? One date? I'll understand if you don't want to
answer."
"I don't mind. I don't know how it happened, but she's my anchor." I know he
understands. He has his own anchor. It's like he's been waiting for me to find
it so I could join the rest of the Senior Staff in the big leagues. Well, I've
arrived. Bring out the fanfare.
He moves out from behind his desk to stand in front of me. He squeezes my
shoulder and says, "Tell me when you're ready. Not before. I can get CJ to
handle the press." I can only nod my gratitude and walk toward the door, knowing
the meeting is over when his voice stops me at the threshold. "Sam?" I turn back
to him. "I'm so glad you're not dating my daughter." I just laugh at his deadpan
humor and walk out the door. And almost run into a woman pushing stroller
carrying two one-year-old children. She was also looking kind of lost.
"Can I help you ma'am?"
She smiled at me and nodded. "Yes, you can. I was looking for Donnatella Moss.
Is she here right now?" I glance down at my watch. 12:37.
"She's out to lunch right now."
"Oh. Do you know a place where I can wait?"
"Yeah. The Mess hall is a couple of left turns away."
"Thank you."
"In case I run into her, who can I tell her is here to see her?"
"Just tell her MacKenzie's here."

TBC

 

In Love With the Other Party - 6

 

 

 

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