It had stopped raining by the time she left; the streets glistened in the lamplight as he watched her get in the cab, giving him a weak smile and a small wave as the car pulled away. He’d reciprocated, but as the cab disappeared around the corner, he found the smile sliding off his face. He’d closed the door and thrown himself on the sofa, turning on the TV but staring at the ceiling instead.
As the time passed he found the confidence he’d managed to instil in Ainsley and in himself start to evaporate like fog on a sunny morning. He’d always been like this, ever since he was a child. He could take any news, however grim, handle any dire situation with calm diplomacy, but as soon as he was alone, truly alone, he would break down. And now, he was alone in his home, the look on her face when she’d told him the news still unfortunately seared into his mind.
Christ. What the hell was he going to do?
He sighed and picked up the phone from the coffee table and dialled.
He was not at all surprised when Donna answered. She’d sleepily handed the phone to Josh, who answered groggily.
“What is it?”
“It’s...can you leave the room? I don’t want Donna to hear.”
“She’s back to sleep already, Sam.”
“Alright, alright, I’m getting up. Christ.” Sam could hear muffled foot falls and the creaking of a door opening and closing. “Okay, I’m in the hall, what the hell is going on?”
“You’re ready? I—I got Ainsley pregnant. Ainsley Hayes. She’s pregnant.”
There was no response from the other end.
“No, Sam, you’re joking!”
“I’m not, Josh, I swear to god. She just came over here crying and told me was pregnant!”
Josh laughed incredulously. “What—when did you...? And why didn’t you tell me?”
Sam sighed audibly. “After the inauguration. We were incredibly drunk, it was four in the morning and we shared a cab. I don’t know—I can barely remember it. She wasn’t on the pill and I guess I forgot to ask, I don’t know! You know how tired we all were. Now...what the hell am I going to do?”
“What did you say to her?”
“I—what could I say? I just told her to make her mind up on her own and that I’d be here for her.”
“And you were telling the truth?”
“Yes! Well, what the hell else was I supposed to do? She was soaking wet, she was crying and she was tired. I wasn’t going to tell her to get rid of it. And I’d never tell her to, anyways—“
“And what did she say?”
“She said she didn’t think she could do it—have an abortion, I mean.”
Josh scoffed, “Figures.”
Sam sighed again. “She said it would be selfish of her. But she wasn’t sure.”
Sam could hear him rubbing his eyes. “Well, what am I supposed to tell you, Sam? Just don’t—don’t...try not to get too upset about it now. You know, you can talk to her tomorrow and, who knows? Maybe she’ll have changed her mind.”
Sam sighed heavily, falling violently into a nearby armchair. “I doubt it. Christ, Josh, I haven’t seen her in three—almost four years. Two months ago I was engaged to someone else and now...some stupid fling, and she gets pregnant!”
“It could only happen to you, buddy. But keep your chin up, okay? We don’t know how this is all going to play out.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Josh yawned loudly. “Listen, I’ve got to get back to bed, I’m going in early tomorrow, but I’ll see you there, okay? We’ll talk then.”
Sam groaned, glancing at the clock with a wince. How had it gotten so late already? And didn’t things like work stop when things like this happened? “Alright. Oh, and don’t tell Donna, okay? Or anyone else.”
“Fine. Just...try to get some sleep, okay?”
“Yeah. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Sam Seaborn had had worse mornings, though none immediately came to mind. His alarm blared at 5:30, as it had done nearly every day since his return, forcing him to open his eyes in this unfamiliar room—a condo he’d only been living in since the year began.
It only took seconds for the events of the previous night to come back to him, eliciting from him a sound somewhere between a groan and a sob.
What sleep he’d gotten, although he wasn’t entirely sure he’d gotten any, had been restless and unsatisfactory. Five years ago this would have been nothing, but now, used to the normal 9-to-5 schedule, good food, exercise and good nights of sleep, he felt, quite frankly, like shit.
Suddenly he ached for the life he’d left behind; for Allison and a comfortable life seemingly on track. He wondered, idly, if she’d take him back. He could leave, just like that, this ridiculous schedule and Josh Lyman left in the dust and everything back to the way it had been. But no—he couldn’t do that now, he was reminded, as he turned over and shoved his face into the pillow, and Ainsley Hayes was why.
A shower and three cups of coffee helped considerably, though his head still ached and his eyes were dry and itchy. He felt okay. Or he would have, had he not been told the news he was told the night before. And now, he lamented, as he walked out the door, he could only guess the jokes Josh had made up over night. God only knew what would transpire between him and Ainsley today.
It wasn’t enough that they were still dealing with a military crisis on the other side of the globe, forty-six days into a new administration—still ironing out the inevitable kinks and calamities; that he was back in D.C. after four years away, newly single, and still dealing with an entire staff (including a President) who he didn’t know very well.
As he walked blindly through the iron gate, gazing up at the massive ivory building in front of him, he wondered why these sorts of things only seemed to happen to him when he was in this city.
Josh was waiting for him in his office.
Sam made a disgusted noise, dropping his briefcase on the floor with a thud and falling violently into his chair with his jacket still on. “Don’t you have a job to do?”
Josh simply folded his arms across his chest. “How’d you sleep last night?”
“How does it look like I slept last night?”
Josh winced and leaned forward in his chair, resting his arms on his knees. “So when did this thing with Ainsley start?”
“I don’t want to talk about it, Josh.”
“I just...don’t, okay?” He rested his head on the back of his chair, trying to stifle the sick feeling that rose in his gut every time he thought of her.
“She’s here already,” Josh said cautiously.
Sam felt his stomach clench again. “How did she look?”
Josh shrugged, bringing his hands up to rest behind his head. “I dunno. Fine, I guess. Maybe a little tense. You gonna go talk to her?”
Sam leant his head back again, gazing despondently at the space above his door. “Maybe later.”
Josh stood with a flourish and reached over to clap Sam on the shoulder. “Well, I better go. Margaret’s probably put out an APB on me already.”
Sam managed a wan smile. Josh stopped at the door and turned to his friend.
“You should talk to her, Sam.”