Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; Aaron Sorkin owns "The West Wing" and related characters; I own nothing.Author's notes:
Much belated Wishlist fic for xgirl2222, who requested "Buffy comes to Washington as the North American Head of the IWC, and liaison to the White House. Sam's not quite sure what the IWC does, but he has a feeling he's about to live the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times." Looking into the laughing green eyes of Miss Summers he's not sure that he cares." Also a much belated posting from the Fic-a-day last month.~*~*~
“Bonnie, what’s this IWC that’s on my schedule?”
“No clue. Josh just asked me to put it on last night before he left,” Bonnie replied, not looking up from what she was typing.
“Did he say why?” Sam asked, scratching his head, trying to think of what the letters might mean. He thought he knew most of the alphabet soup that made up Washington, especially now that he was deputy chief of staff. Apparently, there was still some things he had to learn.
“Nope. Just told me to add it for today. If you’re so curious, go ask him.”
“I’m your boss, you should speak to me with more respect,” Sam teased her, reaching out for the file she handed him without looking up from her screen.
“I thought that’s what the interns were for,” she shot back. She paused long enough to give him a raised eyebrow look. “Seriously. Ask him. I still have to deal with those bill write-ups you need for the meetings with the leadership tomorrow.”
“No respect,” Sam muttered under his breath as he walked away towards Josh’s office. “My staff gives me no respect.”
It still felt weird seeing Margaret and knowing that Leo wasn’t on the other side of the door. He knew that it had been CJ’s office before it’d passed into Josh’s hands, but he hadn’t been there for that transition. That office was still etched in his brain as Leo McGary’s and he felt an ache in his chest when he remembered that Leo wasn’t there to see what he and Josh were doing to help shape the Santos’ presidency.
“Do you have any idea what this is about?” he asked the red-head as he waited for Josh to finish up with whatever meeting he had.
She shrugged, not concerned. “No, but this isn’t the first time they’ve shown up.”
“It was after you left,” she began before the door opened and the ambassador from Argentina stepped out.
“Look, just tell your president that we’d really like this posturing to stop, ok? It just makes everybody cranky,” Josh told her, giving her a handshake.
The ambassador smiled and took her leave.
“What was that about?” Sam asked, following Josh back into his office.
“The cyclical Falklands posturing,” Josh answered with a groan, collapsing into his chair. Stacks of paper cluttered his desk and threatened to bury the computer, although Josh didn’t seem to notice or mind. “You think it’s over and then Britain tries to drill and Argentina gets pissy and it just gives everybody else a huge headache. And then the President tells me to handle it, since Vinnick is off in China trying to convince them to do something about the North Koreans.”
“That’s why you’re the chief and I’m not.”
“So glad I have your sympathy.”
Sam smiled and sat down across the desk from his friend and boss. “What’s this IWC that’s on my schedule for tonight? I thought I knew all the alphabet agencies in these parts. Is this one new?”
“Not particularly, and they aren’t government,” Josh replied, leaning back in his chair and rubbing his neck. “The IWC is like this weird combination of a girls’ school and historical society, and they have a lot of influence, mainly because they probably know where a bunch of bodies are buried. They’re based in the UK and they’re sending one of their higher ups to be a liaison to the White House and I want you to be the point person on it. Give her the orientation, show her around, listen to what she wants, you know the drill.”
“Isn’t that supposed to be your job?”
“In a perfect world, it would be, but it’s not and I have enough on my plate right now.”
Josh was looking particularly smug. It could be because he was thinking about how good it felt to foist something off on Sam, much like Leo would do to him. Another reasons, and the more likely of the two, was that he had some trick up his sleeve.
“What aren’t you telling me?”
Sam’s suspicions were confirmed when Josh’s smirk intensified. “Sam, the sum knowledge of what I know and don’t tell you could fill one of those large encyclopedias you find in libraries. Worry about the meeting later. I want to talk with you about the budget proposal the GOP put forward. I have some recommendations from the leadership, but I want to get some fresh eyes on this.”
The rest of Sam’s morning and most of the afternoon was quickly consumed by his impromptu meeting with Josh, a lunch with CJ and Danny who were in town to promote Danny’s new book, a series of meetings with various staff members to help iron out particulars of the president’s upcoming visit to Latin America, as well as all the other odds and ends that ended up on his plate. His job was never boring; at least he could say that, although his personal life seemed to be the sacrifice he had to make.
He didn’t want to think of his latest broken engagement, however. It was like picking at the scab of a wound that was trying to heal and only making it worse.
“Don’t forget your meeting with the IWC rep!” Bonnie called out to him when he finally made his way back to his office after the last round of meetings on the hill. “She’s waiting for you in the Mural Room. Her name’s Ms. Summers.”
“Crap!” Sam swore under his breath, dropping his shoulder bag by his desk and running his hand through his hair. “Any chance we can reschedule?”
“Since she’s already here, probably not,” Bonnie replied, standing in the doorway. There was an amused gleam in her eyes and it was almost as unsettling as Josh’s earlier smug expression.
“What?” Sam demanded, feeling like everybody was ganging up on him.
“I just think I know what Josh is up to, that’s all,” Bonnie answered with a shit-eating grin that he would swear he’d never seen before.
“Care to share with the rest of us?”
“Nah, it’s much more fun to watch you flail about.”
“I could fire you, you know.”
“Please. Josh would back me up.”
“You sound far too sure of that for my peace of mind,” Sam told her sternly. He could hear her soft laughter as he walked towards the Mural Room. Opening the door, he stepped inside and saw a petite blonde woman in a fitted grey suit studying the details of one of the murals. She looked up, her green eyes inquisitive, and Sam found himself temporarily rooted to the floor.
“Ms. Summers?” he managed not to stammer, walking towards her.
“That’s me,” she said with a bright smile, her hand extended. “And you’re Sam Seaborn, right?”
“Yes I am. Sorry to keep you waiting,” he apologized, hoping he sounded less like a teenage boy than he thought he did. “Things got busy and before I knew it, I was late.”
She laughed and waved her hand in the air. “Oh trust me, I know exactly how that goes. You mean only to talk about accounting-ish things and then find yourself three hours later, at the opposite place of where you wanted to go, and you still haven’t talked to accounting about reimbursing you.”
They sat down, and her reaching into a satchel at her feet gave Sam a moment to collect himself. It wasn’t just that she was pretty (she was), but it was something else about her that struck him. She moved with an ease he only saw in members of the armed forces or Secret Service, hinting that there was more to her than she showed to the rest of the world.
“So, how much did Josh tell you about us?” she asked, finding what she needed and pulling it out. “Less than the barest of minimums?”
“I wouldn’t put it that way, but yes,” he answered, finding himself smiling at the gleam in her eye. “I’m sure that accurately describes it.”
“That’s OK. Donna and my sister are friends, so I can arrange some payback that way.”
“That… seems a little cruel and unusual and probably violates the Geneva Convention.”
She smiled, her green eyes glinting with good humor. “Close, but not quite. We checked.”
“The fact that you’ve already checked doesn’t make me feel any better.” He smiled in return, before glancing down at the folder in her hands. “So what is it that you wanted to discuss, Ms. Summers? Josh mentioned something about a liaison?”
“That’s right,” she agreed. “And please. Call me Buffy. Ms. Summers just reminds me of this troll of a principal I used to have, who wanted nothing more than to get me expelled.”
It’s not the strangest name he’s heard in his life, but it’s up there. “Alright, Buffy, so what is it that Josh didn’t tell me before shoving me in here that I need to know?”
“More than can fill a book, but here are some of the bare basics.”
She opens the folder and pulls out a piece of paper, and Sam can’t help but be struck by the feeling that he’s not going to come out of this experience with the IWC the same way he came in. He doesn’t get hunches often, but when he does, they more often than not tend to be right.
But then Buffy gives him a smile and he finds himself maybe not minding all that much.
Maybe he won’t yell at Josh too much when he gets out of this meeting.