TITLE: And What Were the Odds?
AUTHOR: Julian Lee, thwarted1066@yahoo.com
CATEGORY: Mallory/Laurie
SPOILERS: Pilot, "L,DL&S;" "Galileo"
RATING: PG-13 for language; this one's all about UST
FEEDBACK: I wither and die without it
ARCHIVE: Yeah, if you tell me where
DISCLAIMER: I don't own them. I could never be this angsty for an entire season.
SUMMARY: Mallory really did intend to give Laurie a piece of her mind....

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And What Were the Odds? By Julian Lee

**I came here to give this woman the dressing-down of her life. What the hell am I doing kissing her? I should hate her. Come to think of it, I do hate her, yet here I stand, kissing her.**

"Mal?"

"Hmm?"

"You're thinking, aren't you?"

Mallory pulled away angrily and stormed around the apartment. "Yes, I'm thinking. I'm thinking, what the fuck am I doing here? Kissing you!"

"I'm not the one you're mad at."

Mal crossed her arms. "Oh, no?"

Laurie smiled sadly and shook her head. "Sam."

Mal frowned. "Bastard," she said quietly.

Mallory's anger toward Sam went in cycles. She hadn't particularly been angry when the picture of Sam hugging Laurie graced the pages of many a fine tabloid; she hadn't been bothered by the knowledge that Sam still talked with Laurie in some ill-advised quest to "save" her. When Sam went six months without calling her because he was afraid of her reaction to the picture, *that* pissed her off. At the Kennedy Center, he insulted Richard (not only his qualities as a boyfriend, which he had no right to judge, but his skills as a hockey player as well, which couldn't have been less relevant to the conversation), which infuriated her, then apologized for not calling her after the picture. This went a ways towards thawing her heart, but for some reason the fact that he didn't apologize for the picture itself (despite her not having been upset about the picture in the first place) chilled it right back up again.

She also, for reasons unknown, at this point became extremely angry with Laurie, something she hadn't previously thought to do. And so she decided to pay Sam's bartending call girl lawyer a little visit, to see the woman who was so irresistible the White House deputy communications director was willing to risk his job and his reputation just to continue being friends with her.

She figured it out fast when the door opened.

In the picture, Laurie had been grainy and out of focus; with Janeane willingly confirming that the woman in the picture was a prostitute, the photographer focused on confirming that the man was Sam Seaborn. And Sam's description of her, "She's, you know, average height, dark kinda wavy hair and dark eyes," didn't help all that much. Mallory wasn't sure what she would find when she arrived. She had banged on the door filled with righteous indignation and the ferocity of any mating creature sizing up competition. When the door opened, she reeled backwards, and her eyes widened. "Brittany!" But the instant she said it, Mal knew that wasn't right. Brittany was the other name, the one she used when she was working.

"Laurie," Laurie corrected automatically, half hiding behind the door. "Hey, Mal." Mallory had no response. "I was wondering how long it would take you."

Suddenly Mallory didn't know if Laurie meant how long it would take her to come over here and confrotn her about the picture, or how long it would take her to figure out who she was. It couldn't have mattered less. Mallory took a coiled step forward, bristling with anger, and found herself locked in Laurie's embrace with Laurie's lips against hers. And she hadn't protested.

Until she started thinking.

"Mallory - "

Her voice dark with bitterness, she stepped into the apartment. "Jesus fucking Christ, Laurie. All this time you've known, and you never..."

"What would I have done? I didn't even know your number."

"It's pretty easy to find, Laurie."

"And what would I have said? `By the way, I'm the call-girl Sam slept with'?"

Mallory sank heavily onto the couch. "I don't know. But, Jesus..."

"Yeah."

They fell silent then, and Mal knew they were both thinking of the first time they'd met. The National Education Association annual dinner, a boring affair filled with teachers who led such morally straitjacketed lives every other day of the year they had no longer remembered how to let loose when they had the chance. Mal was there with some guy she couldn't have cared less about; his name was Gary and she recalled dimly that it was their second - and last - date.

They had been placed at a table with Chester E. "Chet" Maston, a sleazy NEA official with a gaggle of ex wives who ran ahead of him warning off every woman he came showed interest in. One look at the gorgeous, overdressed woman on the arm of round, sweating man with the bad toupee and perpetual nervous smirk convinced most of the guests that the lovely Brittany had been well paid for her affections.

Mallory considered Brittany's profession reprehensible, and that coming to a dinner of primary-school teachers was truly the bottom of the barrel in terms of tasteless acts. She knew that part wasn't the woman's fault, but she couldn't keep her fury at Chet Maston from spilling over onto his companion.

But Mallory and Brittany ended up sitting next to each other, and Mallory quickly discovered, to her great dismay, that Gary and the sleazy Chet Maston got on smashingly. Wanting nothing to do with that nightmare, and finding their other tablemates' endless talk of babysitters and day care centers unbearable, she had no one left to talk to but Chet's well-paid date.

"So...Brittany, is it?"

"Yes."

"That's a lovely name." (These were the days before Brittany Spears.)

"Thanks."

Awkward pause.

"So, Mallory, what do you teach?"

"Fourth grade."

She smiled. "Oh, I love that age! They want to learn, but they still want to play, too."

Mal decided to go with complete denial. "Are you a teacher, too?"

Brittany blushed faintly. "Actually, I'm a law student." Mallory drew back in surprise. That explained the night job. "I'm a part- time bar-tender, too."

**My God, how does she get through the week with a schedule like that? She's probably on some sort of drugs.** "Wow. You must keep pretty busy."

She nodded. "It's hectic, all right, but I really want this law degree, so I guess I can put up with some sleepless nights."

A strange tingling began at the base of Mallory's skull as Brittany spoke passionately of the law career she hoped for. Suddenly it made Mal so angry that this woman should have to whore herself out in order to get through law school. When she started considering Brittany's profession a necessity rather than a choice she didn't bother to determine. She gritted her teeth and fiddled with her water glass.

"You're boyfriend seems nice," Brittany offered.

"Gary? Oh, he's not my boyfriend," Mal said, trying not to sound like she intended to stab her not-boyfriend with a mascara wand the instant she had a chance.

"Oh."

Further awkward pause.

"What do you to for fun?"

"Grade papers." They laughed.

"Seriously."

"I am serious. I grade homework. I make lesson plans. I date once in a *great* while. Then summer comes and I go to education conferences to learn all about the latest advances in God knows what, and start planning so I can do it all over again come fall."

"That's so depressing," Brittany said, eyes round with shock.

"Yeah, well. People get into teaching so they can get summers off, but the truth is there's really no vacation."

"Then why do you keep doing it?"

Mal looked at Brittany like she'd asked for keys to the nuclear weapons. "Because I love it."

Brittany nodded, a new respect growing in her eyes. "Teachers are the greatest," she said, almost reverently.

Mal laughed nervously, trying to clear the suddenly electrified air between them. "We're the something-est, that's for sure."

But Brittany would not accept that Mal had *no* social life. "You must do *something* that isn't related to teaching."

"I ski a little," Mal finally admitted. "Downhill."

Brittany's eyes lit up. "Have you ever been to Whitehall Cliffs? Best downhill skiing in New England, if you ask me."

"Yes! I *love* their runs. W-" she stopped in horror, a blush creeping across her face.

"Hmm?" Brittany wasn't looking at her, thank God.

"Uh, nothing," Mallory said hastily. **"We should go together sometime." That's what I was about to say. What the hell is wrong with me?**

The night wore on. Brittany danced with Chet once or twice; Mallory danced with Gary once and certainly not twice. Mallory was drinking vodka and cranberry juice. She had a few too many and gestured too wildly with her hands. Soon she had a large blotch of vodka and cranberry juice on her pale yellow silk blouse. "Damn. What gets out cranberry juice?"

"Lemon juice," Brittany returned immediately. And wasn't it convenient that Brittany's water glass had a lemon slice floating on it, and that she thought instantly to squeeze as much juice as she could from it onto her napkin? She leaned over, then she realized that the stain was directly over Mallory's left breast. "Um..."

Mal waved drunkenly. "It's fine. I trust you not to take advantage of me."

Chet looked over just in time to see his expensive escort with her head bent over Mallory's chest and her hand on Mallory's breast, and apparently he had less faith in Brittany's ability not to take advantage of her. "Ms O'Brien!" he yelped.

Mallory looked up, startled and shamed. Brittany pulled her hand back slightly but did not drop it. "I, uh...I spilled something on my ch - blouse."

Chet pulled Brittany's wrap off the back of her chair and held it out for her. "Brittany, I think it's time we were going."

Brittany sighed and handed the napkin to Mallory. "Wipe the stain with the lemon juice, then rinse it with cold water in about fifteen minutes."

Mallory clutched the napkin as though it were a priceless memento. She stared up at Brittany, unable to even remember to say "Bye," as Chet lead her away.

And what were the odds that the call girl Sam slept with would be the same call girl who so captivated Mallory nearly three years earlier?

Pretty damned good, of course. Wasn't she a McGarry, heir to the McGarry legacy of doomed relationships? "So, what happens next?"

Laurie shrugged helplessly and perched on the arm of the couch. Mallory wished she wouldn't sit so close. They passed almost five minutes without speaking.

"Well, obviously I can no longer yell at you. I want you to know that's very disappointing to me. It was going to be cathartic. It was going to allow me to get you out of my system - and by that I mean the you that slept with Sam, not the you that...you know....Anyway, it was supposed to clear the way for me to resume my nonexistent relationship with Sam."

"And now you can't do that?"

"I'd say that option's pretty much a wash."

"Yeah."

"I mean, don't get me wrong, I like the guy, but that would just be too fucking weird, you know?"

"I hear you. You can't imagine - you know you're the reason we only slept together once."

Mallory stared at her. "What?"

"Well, when I slept with him the first night we met, I didn't know who he was. He just said he was Sam. But then when we got to know each other better, and he told me about the ass he made of himself the first time he met you, and I knew he was talking about you, and I...I couldn't ever..." She shook her head and looked away.

Mallory gulped. "Really?"

"Really."

Mal put her hand on Laurie's knee. "Oh, Laurie-"

Laurie jerked her leg away. "Mal, don't." Her voice was close to breaking. "Please."

Mallory sat a moment with her hands on her own knees, staring at the wall. Than she stood. "Well, I should - I'm gonna -"

"Yeah." Laurie didn't move.

"Okay. I'm going." She walked slowly to the door. "Laurie? Are you going to tell Sam I came by?"

Laurie thought a minute, then shook her head. "He wouldn't understand."

Mal laughed. "That may be the understatement of the year." She paused again. "Will I see you again? I mean...around?"

Laurie made a small, impatient noise. Mallory understood it wasn't directed at her. "I don't know."

She nodded. "OK. Well, good-bye, Laurie." She hadn't had the chance to say that last time. Laurie didn't answer, and Mallory walked out of the apartment.

And what were the odds that Mallory would be driving home crying over Sam's hooker?

Getting better all the time, from the look of it.

FIN *****

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