Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, they are not mine, etc.....just writing for fun.
Spoilers: Small, if any. Suggested reading: "Courage and Fear" and "Journey to Paradise" this story is third in the series.
Summary: Sam follows his heart...with a little advice from the First Lady (sequel to "Journey to Paradise")
She has always been there. Through thick and thin, in rain or shine. His umbrella, his shade. Her name is Mallory and to Sam Seaborn, she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Sam was desperate to prove his true love for her...knowing that a perfect life awaits them. Sam had found his first true struggle in his profession. A lawyer and talented writer, he was finding that it was impossible to write the speech that meant the most of all: his marriage proposal. Constructing and rehearsing the special lines in his head, Sam felt his chest tighten and his heart beat out of control....he stopped on the same line as he always did.
"Did you say something?" Mallory O'Brien asked gently, looking over at Sam from her place on the blanket. The couple lay under the stars in a quiet Washington park, stargazing. At the sound of Mallory's voice, Sam was startled.
"No...no, I was just thinking." Sam said, instinctively putting his thoughts aside.
Mallory smiled. "What are you thinking about?"
Sam took a deep breath and briefly considered asking her right then and there to be his wife, but his nerves got the best of him. He opted for a safer approach: "How beautiful you are" he answered, taking her into his arms. Mallory snuggled closer.
"Isn't it a lovely night?" she whispered, her eyes following a pattern of stars across the clear sky. A late summer breeze accented the evening perfectly. Mallory held Sam close, slightly chilled by both the breeze and the current beauty she saw above and beside her. It was wonderful.
Sam wished that he could just open his mouth and the words would come floating out. He wanted to say what he had to say with love and meaning but first, it had to come out. He felt as though someone had taken his voice from him, when he wanted it most. Why can't I tell her? he asked himself, frustrated by his own fear that Mallory didn't feel the same way......but he knew that she did!
Sam pondered over his feelings for a good five minutes, deciding that he needed some encouragement.....some advice......Josh? Could he find that advice in his best friend? Leo. The White House chief of staff, Mallory's father....absolutely not. Not yet. Toby? No. The President? Perhaps, if he had the nerve to bring it up with him...C.J., a good friend, a wise choice but someone seemed to make even more sense....Abbey Bartlet. The First Lady knew Mallory very well. Almost as well as Sam and Mallory's own mother, Jenny. Maybe she could tell him why he was constantly 'chickening out'.
"Mal?" Sam whispered. He peered down at the young woman and found her to be sleeping peacefully. He smiled and kissed her gently. He would wait.....at least one more day.
It took almost all Sam's courage to approach the First Lady a day later. Even though he knew her very well and had shared some life-changing experiences with her, such as an eventful trip to Europe when their plane was hijacked and Mallory was severely injured, he still found it difficult to be open about his emotions with anyone.
"Ma'am?" he asked tentatively, peeking his head into her office around ten in the morning. Abbey Bartlet, perfectly dressed, sat in a comfortable looking arm-chair, sipping coffee.
"Samuel," she said, motioning for him to come in.
Sam almost left right then. "You called me Samuel."
"Good observation, Samuel Norman."
"You called me Samuel Norman. You're making me nervous, Abbey." Sam said when the door closed behind him.
"Only because you called me ma'am.....it's Abbey to you buster...and you know that." She said simply. Then she smiled. "Oh sit down."
Sam felt at ease. "I need to talk to you, it's about something serious."
Abbey looked slightly worried. "Are you okay?"
"Oh, I'm fine.....more than fine......I just need your advice. Come for a walk with me outside and I'll tell you everything." Sam said, excitement clearly evident in his voice.
Abbey smiled. "Why do I think I'm going to like this?" she said happily. She took Sam's arm and allowed him to escort her outside to the gardens.
It was well into the walk when Sam finally told Abbey that he wanted to ask Mallory to marry him. To Sam's surprise, Abbey started to cry. At first, he was taken aback.....perhaps because the last time he had seen her cry, they were on a plane, surrounded by terrorists and Mallory was dying....right infront of them....but these....these were tears of joy.
Abbey wiped at her eyes quickly and threw her arms around Sam. "That is so wonderful, Sam." she said. "Absolutely wonderful."
"I just can't find a way to tell her how much she means to me....the words won't come out, Abbey."
"Sam," she began, sitting him down on a bench."All the words you want to say are not going to come pouring out of your mouth the moment you want them to. If I know you, Mallory means more than words can describe. You may never, ever, be able to describe to her the exact emotions you feel.....those emotions don't have names. They're just there and they are very indescribeable."
Sam let Abbey's words sink in. "So, she'll know how much I love her no matter what."
Abbey put her hand on his cheek. "She already knows how much you love her and she loves you."
"I don't know what I'll do if she says no."
Abbey shook her head. " I wouldn't worry about that Sam. You've demonstrated how much you love her so many times, she knows and she feels the same way."
"Sam, do you remember how you felt on the plane when it looked absolutely hopeless, when Mallory was dying on us and we felt like there was nothing we could do? Do you remember how much love you showed her? It was incredible......and I'll tell you something, Sam. I loved you even more for loving her the way you did." Abbey gave Sam a warm embrace. Sam was touched by her words.
"I have to ask Leo first."
"It's out of respect, he'll appreciate it." Abbey told him.
"You think he'll say yes?"
"I think he would say yes to almost anything that makes his daughter as happy as she is with you."
"Thank-you, Abbey." Sam said, truly appreciating what she had done for him.
"Anytime, Sam. You can always talk to me."
The talk with Leo was just as tense as Sam had imagined it would be. Leo hadn't always been in support of his daughter's relationship with Sam. Lately, he was more open to it, especially after Sam risked his life for Mallory on the plane months earlier. Sam supported Mallory in her recovery, and now, now Leo was ready to give his daughter away to Sam....technically speaking.
It was Friday night and Sam and Mallory sat together again under the stars in the same park. Sam had his arm around Mallory and they held eachother close.
"It's even more beautiful than the other night." Mallory whispered romantically.
Sam kissed her softly. "Isn't it? It's perfect..."
Mallory looked at him, staring into his eyes. "Perfect for what?"
Sam took a deep breath. This was it. "For this." he said quietly. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a beautiful ring. It sparkled under the stars. Mallory gasped. She smiled....tears forming in her eyes.
Sam followed tradition and knelt down infront of Mallory, holding her hands in his own and sliding the ring slowly on her finger. "Mallory, I love you more than anything in the whole world. I have been trying to find words to describe my love for you but there are none....my feelings for you are indescribeable. We've been through a lot together and it's only made us closer. You make me so happy....the happiest man in the entire world. I would love to spend my life with you and I can't imagine it without you." Sam smiled then, realizing that the words mattered, but Mallory already knew it all. "So, with all the stars as our witnesses....Mallory McGarry O'Brien.......will you marry me?"
Tears were flowing down Mallory's cheeks. She looked at Sam....her eyes full of love, her face glowing. Sam looked at her. She was already the most beautiful thing he had ever seen and under the stars, she was even more beautiful. He then thought back to his childhood, when he once stared up at this very sky. Starlight, starbright, first star I see tonight......and years later he found himself wishing under the very same sky......Starlight, starbright.....Mallory kissed Sam, a kiss that he would never forget. Mallory's answer?