TITLE: Smooth Like Glass
AUTHOR: Ellen Milholland
SPOILERS: Takes place during the car ride back from the Kennedy Center during 'Galileo.'
DISCLAIMERS: Standard disclaimers apply.
SUMMARY: "She forgets how to breathe."
THANKS: To Zo, for making me write it.
It is somehow much colder than it looks, and her skin is almost numb from the breeze that's been blowing all night. She's in the car, and she's on the phone, and she's trying to worry about Galileo, and trying to take notes about the Russian missile silo, and Sam is sitting looking dreamily out the window.
"Sam," she says as she drops the cell phone into her lap. She's somehow managed to get a smear of black ink across the palm of her hand, and she examines it for a second.
"I should've called her," he says without turning to look at her, and she can see that his breath is fogging his window.
"Um, yes. Yes, you should have. You're an idiot. But, Sam..." She does not want to talk about Mallory, does not like the puppy-love look that's just painted across Sam's face. She tells herself that she's just worried about the state of the nation, and that it doesn't have anything to do with the way that Sam looks in a tux with his tie undone and the smooth lines of his neck...
"Yes?" She has taken too long, and now he wonders what's wrong with her.
"The Russian missile silo." It is simpler than Mallory. It is simpler than looking down at her long arms and wondering why she's always been so awkward around men and thinking about how Sam's face was all diamonds when he looked at Mallory. She does not regret storming through their conversation, though she could've waited two more minutes. Her stomach had hurt too much watching them, and it made her breath sting in her chest.
"Sometimes, I am amazed at how incredibly stupid the Russians can be. I mean, even ignoring the whole, you know, Communist revolution, which was also pretty idiotic." He pauses, looking at her reflection in the window glass. "They were draining liquid hydrogen," he says, pretending like he thinks she doesn't already know.
"Yeah. I know."
"The real question is," he grins, looking over at her, "what do you do once you've stolen the warhead. You can't exactly, you know, hide it. It's huge. And..., you know, bomblike." He looks at her then, hard, cocking his head to the side. "Hey, CJ."
"You look good tonight. Like, really good. Great dress."
"Well, Sam, it only took you five hours to figure out the obvious. But thanks, I'll tell Georgio you think so." She blushes despite herself, and the skin across her chest is swept with pink.
He notices, smiling slowly and to himself and looking back out of his window. "You're welcome. What'd you think of Mallory?" It's easier to talk about Mallory than the way CJ's collarbone must taste, and how her skin shines in the strange carlight.
"She looked hot, Sam," CJ deadpans.
He turns to look at her quickly, his eyebrows raised. "You really think so?"
"She always looks hot, Sam, this doesn't take a genius. I, however, do not want to jump her like you do."
"I do not want to jump her!"
"Sure, you do. Don't be stupid."
"I do not want to jump Mallory."
"Um, yeah," she says and clucks her tongue. "If you say so."
"I don't. Really."
"Okay, so maybe. A little."
She smiles. "Hey, so what's the broader theme?" She picks up one of the papers from her lap; her notes about Galileo are all over the page, her cramped handwriting tucked between all the printed lines of text.
"Oh, man. We didn't pick a theme."
"Wow, you _have_ been paying attention."
"Okay, I'm sensing some hostility, here. You're jealous because Mallory doesn't want you." He smirks.
"Don't flatter yourself, Sammy boy," she says but somewhere in the back of her mind, she is thinking of how much she would like him to fuck her with his eyes like he did Mallory. Instead of saying this, she points down at the paper. "Galileo."
"Mars. Yeah. Broader theme."
She leans back, her head resting on the car seat, her neck a long curve as her hair falls away. He looks at her for a moment as she would like to be looked at, but her eyes are closed and she's sighing. "We're going to Mars. Or, we've gotten to Mars. But we've lost it."
"Yeah, kind of unbelievable, isn't it?"
"What?" she asks, not opening her eyes.
"We get so close, and then it's gone."
"Well, it's Mars. Makes more sense than this absurdity with the Russians. Liquid hydrogen."
"It's not so bad that we lost it, really. I just hope we don't give up trying. Mars is waiting."
He nods. "Mars is waiting."
"I could get Mallory if I wanted her."
He laughs. "Yeah? I'd like to see that."
"I'm sure you would." She raises her head, and the phone in her lap rings sharply, twittering the first five bars of Beethoven's Fifth.
They reach for it at the same time, but CJ manages to grab it first, flipping it open. "CJ." Sam somehow manages to knock her papers to the floor of the car, and she rolls her eyes as she tucks the phone between her shoulder and her ear, the plastic cold and the antenna stuck in her hair.
They both lean down to pick up the mess -- legal pad sheets and printer paper and napkins full of her handwriting. CJ's arm brushes Sam's knee, and his cheek touches her bare shoulder, and their knuckles graze.
They both freeze, just like that, touching. "Okay, yeah, uh huh," CJ says into the phone, and her voice is somehow lower than usual, but Sam hopes he's the only one who notices. The voice is for him, and he lazily skims over her palm with his thumb.
"Of course I heard you," she says too loudly as she slowly sits up. Sam collects the last of the papers and puts them in her lap and brushes his hand deliberately against her leg.
She looks up at him, alarmed. He smiles back at her, and his hair is tousled. Her heart pounds.
"Yeah, we'll be back soon. Yeah, and thanks for nothing for before. Okay, I'm hanging up now before I say something that'll get me fired." She closes the phone, and she drops it onto the seat between them. She looks at him, and his eyes are caught by the way her dress sparkles.
"Okay," she says. "Okay."
He's still smiling, and he reaches out and touches her shoulder with his fingertips. His skin is hot against hers, and then he touches her collarbone, and she tilts her head back and he touches her throat. He is amazed that her skin is smooth like glass.
He stops touching her, and she misses his warmth desperately.
"Hey CJ," he says, and his voice is low.
"You already complemented my dress," she says.
"Want to get a drink later?"
"At two a.m.?"
"You don't sleep anyway."
"What about Mallory?" she asks, and she is suddenly unsure.
"We can invite her, too, if you think your chances are so good. Only if I can watch, though."
"Okay, try not to be a pig for like one second."
"Mallory's pretty, CJ--"
"We've been over this."
"--But you're gorgeous," he finishes. She forgets how to breathe.
"A drink. Yeah, a drink would be good."
The phone rings again, and this time Sam gets it, and CJ watches him speak as they slide up towards the White House, and then she's worrying about her hair and green beans and a broader theme.
But he said she was gorgeous, and so despite it all she's smiling.
Back to West Wing fiction.