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The Friendly Skies

by Lin

[Story Headers]

They call them 'the friendly skies', but Samantha has yet to feel friendly towards anybody she has met on an airplane.

She has met religious zealots and misogynists, several insurance salespersons - "I'm not saying flying is dangerous per se, all I'm saying is that if you don't have cover I can do you a good deal." - and one schizophrenic who remained engrossed in conversation with himself for the entire three hour flight.

That was one of her better experiences.

And so Samantha is amazed when, twenty minutes before landing in JFK, the redhead who reaches across the aisle to offer her a hairbrush looks normal. Even, dare she say, friendly.

"I could see you were trying to -" She gestures towards her hair. "You looked like you wished you had a -"

"I did," Samantha interrupts before the awkwardness gets too much, running the brush through her hair. "I had to throw mine out at the airport. I, ah, got Pop Tart on it. Berry Blast flavour. They were in my carry-on together and the package burst open." A pause. "I'm going to stop talking now."

The redhead laughs, a throaty chuckle. "I'm Andrea Wyatt. Andi." Samantha isn't sure why, but she thinks she should know that name.

Andi smirks when Samantha introduces herself, but keeps her comments to herself. Most do, Samantha reasons, it just that the ones who laugh stick in your mind.

They make small talk - "I'm in politics." "Do you use your power for good or evil?" "Oh, Samantha, I'm one of the angels, I swear." - until baggage claim, where Samantha helps haul Andi's enormous suitcase from the conveyor belt to a trolley.

"How are you getting home?"

"My boyfriend," Samantha tries the words on for size, or for comfort. Wishes she hadn't, and decides not to use them again. "He's supposed to pick me up tonight. I'm pretty sure he's going to be late, and not nearly apologetic enough."

Andi positions herself behind the trolley and begins to roll it towards the doors. "I could drive you home," she tosses over her shoulder.

"Oh, that's okay, I can get a cab," Samantha rushes, mentally kicking herself even as she speaks. Nervous as she is about shutting herself into a space as small as a car with this woman who makes her feel so awkward and breathless, she silently begs Andi to ask her again.

"Yes," Andi replies. "Or I could drive you home."

"You could," Samantha breathes.

Samantha's cell phone vibrates against her hip. She glances at the caller ID - Jack. She knows immediately that he's standing in the arrivals lounge, ninety minutes too late, and doesn't understand why she isn't still there waiting for him. She hits reject and turns to Andi.

"We should have dinner."

"We should?"

"Yes. Aren't you hungry? I should buy you dinner." Andi weaves through the traffic with expert precision, almost as if this were her city, her home. "To say thank you for the ride." Samantha clarifies. She tries (and fails) not to hold her breath for the answer.

The noodle bar is steamy. Samantha is sweating and waiting for a table. Andi is parking the car, because she claims to know a place nearby where there are always spaces. Samantha finds it very easy to forget that she is the one who lives here, and that Andi is the tourist.

Samantha is requesting a table for two when her cell phone vibrates again. It's an SMS - Where are you, Sam? Your flight landed two hours ago. -Jack "Yes, it did," she murmurs, loudly enough for the people at the next table to turn their heads. "And you weren't there." She looks at her phone and thinks about switching it off. By the time Andi joins her Samantha has decided to leave it on - if Jack calls back she wants him to know she's aware he's calling and is ignoring him.

Soon there are noodles and chicken, ginger and spring onion, and laughter around chopsticks. Briefly, Samantha is the graceful one, arching an eyebrow as Andi drops her third piece of chicken back into her bowl along with one of her chopsticks.

Andi retrieves her errant chopstick and sits both beside her bowl, leaning back in her chair. "It's been a while since I did this."

Samantha wants to say something witty about eating disorders and the importance of regular meals, but the words won't come to her. She isn't sure Andi's really talking about food. Samantha hopes silently that she is not.

The sun is blazing through the blinds, lighting up the splash of red hair on Samantha's pillow, when she opens her eyes. Her breath catches in her throat. She remembers the drive home from the noodle bar, her hand stroking circles on Andi's thigh.

She remembers fumbling her key into the lock, going into the kitchen to pour two glasses of wine and feeling Andi's mouth hot on hers before she'd taken a sip. "I've never done this before," Samantha had said. What she meant was that she'd never done it sober.

"That's fine," Andi had replied easily. "I know exactly what I'm doing."

And then they had stopped talking.

The tile floor is cold on Samantha's bare feet when she steps into the bathroom and sinks down to sit on the edge of the tub. She lets her head fall into her hands and tries not to think. She feels faintly nauseous, and remembers creeping out of bed after Andi had fallen asleep. Emptying the open bottle of wine, including the glass she had poured for Andi.

Samantha groans, brushes her teeth, splashes cold water on her face, and then brushes her teeth again. It really has been a long time since she had this kind of awkward early morning conversation. Every nerve in her body is taut when she unlocks the bathroom door and pushes it open.

There's no sign that anybody but Samantha has been in her apartment all night. Andi has even washed the second wine glass and returned it to the appropriate shelf.

Samantha crawls back into bed, relief washing over her. She really isn't very good at this anymore. She wonders for a moment what the ethical conventions are regarding cheating on somebody who's already committing adultery to be with you, but decides that for now she doesn't care.

After all, he never called her back.


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Fandom:  West Wing, Other (Without A Trace)
Title:  The Friendly Skies
Author:  Lin   [email]   [website]
Details:  Standalone  |  PG-13  |  *slash*  |  6k  |  07/04/04
Characters:  Andi, Samantha
Pairings:  Andi/Samantha
Summary:  Samantha has yet to feel friendly towards anybody she has met on an airplane.
Notes:  Wing Swing 2004 entry.
Disclaimer/Other:  Andi is Aaron Sorkin's, Samantha is Jerry Bruckheimer's. Only the situation and the Pop Tart faux pas are mine.
Props to cgb and teanna for the original Wing Swing, and for letting me run it this year. Contrary to the impression I often gave, it was a lot of fun.

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