Second Chances, Third Tries (The Timing is Key Remix)

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by templemarker

Notes: Written for Remix…Redux V: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. Original story was Second Chances by Karen T. Also available to read at Remix. R, Sam/Ainsley, spoilers for “100,000 Airplanes.”


Whatever opinion you might have of Sam Seaborn outside of the times you work together, you still felt for the guy.

You knew guys like him from college, the ones with obsessions for things greater than themselves. His kind were the ones that tried to start rescue missions to the Sudan and rape crisis centres on campus and were the first to step up for impassioned debate in the classroom, never moving from their intractable positions on right and wrong, responsibility and morals.

Idealism. It’s something you can appreciate, growing up with a similar perspective (albeit so very differently).

The first time you met Sam, you thought you could understand and dismiss him in less than five minutes. Now, you don’t think you could begin to really understand the depths of what’s going on in his mind, a complex warren of liberal guilt and innocent belief in something better, something greater. He made fun of you like a schoolyard bully, then defended you. And now he tolerates you, as if he’s not sure what column to place you in, whether you’re for or against. You don’t know how to convey to him that things don’t work in elements of black and white, that there is much grander scope at work. But then, he still doesn’t understand how a Republican can work in a staunchly Democratic White House, even if he has learned to respect the work you do.

You watch him sitting at his desk, almost petulant. He’s staring at a blinking cursor, and you wonder what he’d just erased. You try to compliment him on the passage he wrote for the State of the Union, the one that got cut because it’s too hopeful for such a cynical time, but your heart sinks when you realise that’s exactly what he made disappear with all the flair of a hungover magician. He’s never been very good at masking his emotions, and you understand that he’s letting you see at least this part of him, this disgruntled, displeased, grumpy and bitterly disappointed part that only comes out when the idealist is quashed, as it so often is.

The words you say may not make it through his mental fog of self-doubt and anger, but they impact enough to bring him up from his chair and out of his office. It’s far too late at night for even the most dedicated of civil servants to be there, and you steer him away from the usual haunts he seeks out. You know he’s not paying attention, his mind still back with that blinking cursor, so you put him into your car and drive him home, inviting yourself in and rifling through his cd collection until you find something you like. You see a bottle of half-empty wine on the counter, and a quick sniff tells you that it still has some virtue in it.

It’s not until you put the glass in his hand and take a deep sip for yourself that something clicks and he looks up at you, quizzically, and asks why you’re still here.

Well, Sam, you say, unbuttoning your buttons and stepping out of your shoes, you brought me musical theatre to make me feel better. I’m just returning the favor.

Returning the favor, he echoes, and it seems there’s still some clouds in his mind because he doesn’t move, at first, when you kiss him softly. You hope you’re not making a mistake, but while there are a thousand things you will readily admit to being terrible at, reading men like Sam Seaborn isn’t one of them. All those beautiful idealists from college, you knew them just a little to well.

When he kisses you back, he puts the whole of himself into it, and if you were to look up you could written on his face how he puts aside all the thoughts and concerns he must be having to engage in this with you. You don’t know what he’s decided this will be, pity sex or anger sex or just plain sex, but you’re too concerned with taking off his shirt and making sure you don’t spill the wine to think about it too much. You weighed the options, thought about it before you walked into Sam’s office with a saunter he was too preoccupied to see, and it seems like your gamble paid off.

He walks you back to the bedroom, kissing you and your skin, your clavicle and your breasts and all the skin and bones you don’t have names for, and you whisper his name and he kisses you again. You’re not thinking about anything, other than how well the State of the Union did, your coat which crumpled to the floor when Sam stood up, and the taste of the wine in your mouth. Now you’re thinking too much, and you pull Sam close because he’s worth more than the mundane things that crowd your mind when you should be concentrating fully on this, this rare moment of pleasure in your otherwise cerebral and dry life.

Sam is surprisingly aggressive in bed, but perhaps not so surprising when you remember the tenacity with which he fought everyone today, trying to get this remarkable, unsubstantiated piece of news into a speech the entire nation would hear. You meet him thrust for thrust, cry for cry, and when you are both sated you twist away from each other, not touching but not moving too far apart either. You don’t think this will affect your working relationship, but you don’t quite know Sam well enough to determine how he will react, now that the things pent up inside of him were given some release. You think Sam needs a lot more than a night with you to truly let go, though.

You let your hand rest in his, and when he turns to you there’s that familiar hope in his eyes. Someday, he says. Someday I’ll get to use that.

I believe you, you say, and the kicker of the thing is that you do. You really, really do.

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