Title: The Coffee Mug
Date Completed: March 9, 2005
Website: Dimples and Distinctive Penmanship Style
Spoilers: Through mid-season 4
Rating: All Audiences (wistful)
Disclaimer: I don't own these people or this universe. Aaron Sorkin does.
Author's Notes: Special thanks to M. and Tinhutlady for the quick and helpful betas. This is the first thing of any substance I've written in almost a year and we actually spent some time making it just right. I hope you like it.
Feedback: Rocks my world. Really.
Summary: Sam packs his coffee mug.
Taped-up boxes sit in a pile by the door. The last box sits half-empty on the corner of the desk as he places the last few things in it--the Princeton paperweight they gave him when he spoke at commencement last year, a miniature framed poster of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore that Ainsley had given him a week after she started at the White House, a photo of him with Toby, CJ, Josh, and Donna from a ball after the first inauguration.
One by one he packs each of the items on his desk until only his coffee mug remains. He looks down at the dark blue mug and notices that it still holds the remnants of his afternoon coffee. He grabs it and wanders out to the beverage station in the hall to wash it out before he packs it.
For all of his brilliance in law and his God-given talent at crafting speeches, most would have to agree that Sam Seaborn is an intelligent man. But for the life of him, he's clumsy and forgetful about the little things, the things that don't matter.
Take coffee mugs for example. During the first campaign, he'd gone through several. At each new stop on the trail, each new office, he'd open his small box that held his traveling desk and his mug would never be inside. No matter, there was always plenty of "Bartlett for America" mugs lying around the place. He'd just take one and keep it on his desk until it was time to pick up and move on again, leaving the last mug behind as he packed up his stuff in a rush to not miss the bus.
It was different on the second campaign. They'd traveled in style on Air Force One and he and the other regular staffers hadn't needed to move their office from town to town along the trail. Ironically though, at home in one of the boxes he'd already packed in his kitchen, was a "Bartlett for America" cup from that campaign. He wishes now he'd kept one from the first.
After washing out his mug, he heads back and sits down in his chair to take a break and look around his empty office. His eyes come to rest on the golden Seal of the President of the United States of America emblazoned on the side of the mug and he remembers when he started using it.
On the morning of the first Inauguration, Toby had sent him and his new assistant, Cathy (who had a penchant for eating his donuts before he got the chance--what was it with the women in his life always stealing his food?), to scout out the offices that would become the Communications Bullpen at the Bartlett White House. While he was there, his predecessor had handed them each a White House coffee mug as he hurriedly gave them the tour. Since that guy had already cleared out the office, Sam left the coffee mug on his new desk to use when they moved in later that evening.
He remembers drinking Toby's good scotch out of that mug as they shared one final victory drink with CJ, Josh, Donna and the other assistants later that night. It had been on his desk ever since.
He remembers having a cup of coffee with Mallory as she berated him during their "business appointment" about school vouchers.
He remembers taking a sip of something stronger from that mug after he had called Laurie and told her he couldn't come to her law school graduation.
He remembers all of the afternoon breaks one spring when Donna would sit in his visitor's chair, her hands wrapped around her own mug, staring blankly out his window as she recounted to him the daily victories, and defeats, in Josh's battle to recover.
He remembers having coffee and donuts with Ainsley one evening as she argued her position on small business employee fraud.
He remembers drinking from the mug while playing an extended and often-interrupted game of chess with the President.
He remembers several breakfasts of croissants and coffee with CJ during the past summer after Simon was killed.
And he remembers guzzling cups and cups of coffee late at night as Toby stood behind him and peered over his shoulder at the laptop screen as they wrote countless numbers of speeches during the last four years.
After one last look in all of the empty desk drawers, Sam stands and carefully wraps the dark blue mug in packing paper, places it in the box and tapes it shut. He picks it up and tucks it under his arm so that he can shut off the light on his way out the door. The other boxes will be shipped to his new office at his campaign headquarters in California. But this box is going with him.
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