Timely Advice

By Red

Disclaimer: Mallory, Laurie, and Sam are not mine. They belong to Aaron Sorkin and his cronies, as well as the fine folks ::coughs:: at NaBisCo.

Author's Note: HA! (Rated PG-13 for the discussion of adult subject material.)

She couldn't believe it. Never in a million years would she have ever thought she would be meeting *her*. She'd always liked to pretend that the woman had never existed. Yet there she was sitting two stools down on her left at Mallory's favorite bar. Certainly she was no figment of her imagination.

Why did she have to be *here* of all places? This was Mallory's safe house… her refuge. How dare the other woman intrude on that?

Mallory had never entertained the slightest desire to meet her. She would have preferred that the woman sipping at her brandy remain a hazy memory purposefully locked away.

And just as the school teacher shook off her shock and was about to gesture for her bill, wanting nothing more than to get out of there, the other woman glanced over and noticed her stare.

"I'm sorry," she murmured politely with a small smile, "but do I know you?"

Mallory blinked, dry-mouthed. Why was this happening? "Um, no, you don't. But I know a friend of yours… and I'm just surprised to see you in person." She wished she had stood up and left earlier. She wished she had never come to the bar.

The other woman smiled. "A friend of mine?" Now I'm intrigued. Mind telling me who?"

She didn't want to be here. She didn't want to be having this conversation. She wanted to be at home in front of her fireplace grading papers like a good little teacher. Not sitting here talking with a woman she had long ago decided was her worst enemy.

"Sam Seaborn," she blurted, biting her lip. Anywhere but here…

The dark-haired woman's eyes became hooded as she stared morosely into her drink. "Sam?" she croaked. "I should've known. You're one of those damn reporters, aren't you? Isn't it enough for you all that you ruined our friendship? I haven't spoken with or seen him for months thanks to you sons of bitches!"

Mallory was taken aback. She wasn't thinking. Had she been, she never would have responded the way she did. She wouldn't have even continued the conversation. "No! I really *am* a friend of Sam's. My… my name is Mallory O'Brien. Sam works for my father…" She didn't want this woman knowing her name. She didn't want her knowing anything about her. So why did she feel like she had to explain herself to her?

Looking up from her drink, the other woman nodded slowly, a small smile quirking her lips as her anger faded, replaced by understanding. "You're Mallory? Sam used to talk about you all the time. Is he still chasing after you?" She was actually chuckling now.

This woman really did know about her? Uncomfortable, Mallory shrugged, taking her half-empty beer and swirling the liquid around inside the bottle. "He… calls a lot. But we really haven't been talking much…" she trailed off. Why was she telling her this? What business was it of hers?

The woman nodded sagely, her smile turning somewhat wry, if not bitter. "So you're still playing games with him? Hard to get, hmm?" She didn't give Mallory a chance to get angry. "Look, I know I've got to be the last person you want to talk to about this… but, take some advice from a woman who knows, ok?"

And for some reason, Mallory found herself nodding for her to continue instead of storming out of the place. Somehow this woman's opinion mattered to her. She really wanted to know what she had to say. Maybe it was because Sam had seen something in her. Something enough to risk his job, the administration, and their relationship for.

"Sam is one-of-a-kind," the woman stated matter-of-factly, shaking her head. "You can search for ten lifetimes and never find another one like him. Sam Seaborn is special… and precious." She paused, growing melancholy again. "Most people never seem to realize that until he's gone, I suppose, or they never would have let him leave… like I did." She stared hard at Mallory.

"He's still a child at heart. Although he never holds grudges or gets visibly angry, things *do* hurt him. He just hides it. And he won't always stick around or come back from more - it would break him apart eventually if he did. There's only so much he can handle, Mallory, and I think you have him right on the edge. Don't let him go. Don't lose him like I did."

Mallory was left speechless, staring dazedly at the other woman. And she knew now what she had said was true. If she didn't want to let Sam slip through her fingers, she needed to stop with her games.

"Have you ever slept with him?" the woman asked candidly when she remained silent. And she didn't bash an eyelash while asking. God, no wonder she was a lawyer.

"No," Mallory answered honestly, her voice quiet and soft while she blushed. She suddenly wished she were drinking something harder.

The woman nodded, chuckling again. "I didn’t think so," she grinned. "If you had, you would have chained him to your bed a long time ago. Believe me, I tried." Her dark eyes were dancing.

Mallory rose an eyebrow, intrigued. It didn't matter anymore who she was talking to. This woman knew sides of Sam that she had never seen… that she might never see. She knew things about him, had experienced things with him, that Mallory had only dreamed about so far.

"Oh really?" she asked calmly, the look on her face challenging.

Knocking back her drink, the woman leaned towards her secretively. "He's so good… he actually made me pass out." She winked.

Mallory could do nothing but stare, wide-eyed. What? Sam?!?

"Wishing you were with him right now, aren't you?"

She nodded silently.

The woman shook her head, smiling. "Then go to him. Sam cares about you, and he'll be yours forever if you ask him to be." She looked back down to her glass. "So go."

Mallory quickly flagged over the bartender, paying her tab and picking up her coat from the stool beside her. It was like she was racing to get home just so she could call Sam. Finally. Nodding to the other woman, she headed towards the door, taking a conscious effort to slow her hurried steps. Now that she had decided not to lose him, she couldn't wait to start securing him as hers.

"Mallory?" the woman called out to her. Mallory stopped and turned. "Take care of him for me, will you?" And the teacher suddenly realized that the other woman was still in love with him.

"I promise, Laurie." Grinning widely, she headed home.

The End.

There _is_ a reason I never referred to Laurie by name till the end. I just can't see Mal thinking of her as "Laurie". To me, she'd be thinking of her as "the woman" or, when mad, "the slut, tramp, hussie, etc..." <eg>



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