Part 1 Cold Keys
Sam Seaborn stared at the cold keys on his computer. He'd lost his muse again and was
hopelessly behind on the healthcare reform speech. His head pounded from staring at the
screen for hours. He groaned softly and stretched his hands over his neck.
The West Wing was eerily quiet for a Thursday night. He looked at the clock. It was
almost Midnight. He hadn't realized it was so late. Josh and Toby were out of town, and
hadn't bothered him that evening as they would have if they could. No wonder it was quiet.
The usual frantic activity level of the place often distracted him and that was why he
was here so often alone at night. In order to get work done in peace, he waited for the
crowds to thin. But he realized that at some point in the last two years, he'd gotten used
to the hustle, and now had a harder time working when it was too quiet.
He permitted himself a loud sigh, and threw a large briefing binder across the room in
frustration, managing to knock over a stack of books on the shelf and send them crashing
loudly to the floor. The noise echoed into the hallway. He'd thrown the book much harder
than he'd thought.
A moment later, he heard C.J.'s voice from the hall.
"Sam, are you okay?"
She came into the room a second later and peered down at him as he gathered the books
from the floor.
"Sam, what happened?
"I threw something and the books fell."
"C.J., why are you here, it's past Midnight."
"I've got that briefing with the big foreign Muck-mucks tomorrow."
Sam smiled. "Muck-mucks?"
"What's the briefing about?"
"It's about things I don't understand. That's why I'm still here." C.J sighed
and plopped down on Sam's couch.
"Can I help?" Sam offered, and sat next to her on the couch.
"Can you explain to me FDA drug testing and why it's different than the testing
done in other countries and why that allows these other countries to have drugs available
faster to the public than in the U.S. and whether or not this is a good thing?"
Sam fixed his gaze on her and tried to sort out the string of questions in her rapid
reply. Then he smiled. "And what do I get if I do?"
"How about a cookie?"
"No good. Mrs. Landingham keeps me stocked."
"A cheerful thank you to a good friend?" C.J. tried.
"No. That won't do it."
"What do you want, Sam?"
"How about if you use your magic fingers on my neck?"
"Josh gets neck rubs from you. You even gave Toby a twenty minute neck rub on the
plane coming back from the last thing. I have a monster headache and five more pages to
write before I can leave here." He looked at C.J. with his best negotiator's face.
C.J. looked at him curiously. Since when did he pay any attention to what she did with
Toby on planes, much less time it. "Josh has blackmail stuff on me."
"Yeah, and I'm not telling you about it."
"You don't have to tell me."
"Good answer. Okay, sit in the chair, writer-boy."
Sam sat down and she moved in behind him. "Lose the tie and unbutton a couple of
those buttons." Sam complied quickly and looped his tie neatly over the arm of his
chair. C.J. smiled behind his back at that. He was neat even in the middle of the night.
C.J. flexed her fingers. "You know that you are gonna owe me big?"
Sam answered quickly, "I saved your life."
"Doesn't count. It wasn't intentional."
"But it was, and I-"
She cut him off.
He paused a moment. That was a big thing in their world. This was a small game they
played of who owed who lunch or something.
"Okay." He conceded.
She started a slow massage of his shoulders and neck. Although she was using only
moderate pressure, he initially flinched with pain. The muscles under her fingers were
knotted with tension.
"Sorry, Sam. I can see why you have a headache." The teasing tone left her
voice and was replaced by soft sympathy.
She worked in silence for the next ten minutes, feeling the knots ease under her
careful fingers. Sam slouched comfortably in the chair.
His eyelids fluttered open briefly with surprise when she moved her hands to his
temples and continued the massage with her fingertips. Then he relaxed and sighed with
C.J. watched his face closely. Lines of pain and tension faded under her hands. She
thought about Sam as she worked.
Sam was the peacemaker and gentleman among them. He followed Toby's orders- even when
they irritated him or offended his sense of ideals. He played straight-man to Josh's
sarcasm. Over the past two years, she'd seen him overtly mad only a few times. Even then,
he was quietly menacing. She was sure no one told him this was much more effective than
Josh's tantrums or Toby's screaming. But that was because they didn't like to see him mad.
It usually meant someone had done something mean to one of his friends. They forgot to
tell him how good he was at his job, because he usually did it with barely contained
excitement. He was oblivious to the constant stares of women struck by his sheer physical
beauty. She'd seen him switch to a deliberate 'charmer mode,' for lack of a better
descriptor, only a few times. The results were devastating. What woman could resist those
blue eyes and that gorgeous...
She mentally shook herself. Where was that coming from, Claudia Jean? This is Sam,
remember. Like your little brother. And you're not supposed to notice that your little
brother wears an exotic, musky cologne that you can still can smell at Midnight.
She finished with a few stokes on his shoulders and then patted him on the head.
"Much better. Your fingers are magic." He swiveled in the chair to face her.
"Thank you, C.J." He looked up at her and smiled.
Caught in his gaze, and disturbed by her recent musings, she took a quick backward step
and tripped over the books on the floor behind her.
Sam reached out and steadied her.
"C.J., you okay?"
"I'm fine. Just tired."
Sam continued to gaze at her, looking unconvinced. C.J. was rarely clumsy. Except
around pools. He smiled at that thought.
"Nothing. I was just thinking that you're not usually falling over things unless
there's a pool around."
"Cute, Sam. Um, Can I have my hand back now?"
He looked down at his own hand with puzzlement, as if forgetting it was still entwined
with hers, and then let it drop.
He stood and moved to the sofa.
"Okay, here's the deal with the FDA." He motioned for C.J. to sit next to
She shrugged and took the spot next to him as he explained the complexities of the drug