Title: No Tell Guess
Author: Beth
Category: J/S (but there are guest appearances by many)
Series: Wild Ride
Rating: CHILD (for part 1 anyway)
Spoilers: Nope.
Disclaimer: Okay, I'm not living in the Four Seasons or in California, so I obviously can't be Aaron now can I? I'm borrowing for the fun of it, and I' ll return them shortly. I promise.
Summary: Halloween isn't as easy as it looks.
Archive: Sure, just tell me where
Feedback: It's lovely and I appreciate it. elatshaw@earthlink.net
Notes: As usual, if it weren't for Julian this probably wouldn't exist. She suggested I try something light and fun, and this is what she gets.

*****

No Tell Guess by Beth

October 2003

Sam glanced up at Josh, who was desperately trying to contain his laughter. "You know, a little help here wouldn't go unappreciated."

"And I would do what?"

"Suggesting more appropriate costumes would be helpful," Sam said, letting his exasperation show.

"And what would be wrong with her dressing up like Ainsley? She's scary enough."

"Josh!"

"Well she is."

"Josh - seriously."

"I'm being serious. It would be a perfect costume."

"No Josh - it wouldn't. She's been invited to do her trick-or-treating at the White House -- *by the President* -- and I don't think it will sit well if she's dressed up like one of his lawyers. And I'm certain that Ainsley won't find the humor in it."

"And we aren't just doing a costume from a rack because?"

"Because some mastermind around here said, 'that would be so limiting,'" Sam said with a glare at the offending party. "Besides, Carrie didn't like any of them."

"She's two - are you sure she didn't like them?"

"I don't know, Josh. Why don't you try taking her to look at them? *I'm* not allowed in that store again."

"You never did tell me what happened exactly."

"Between the screaming and the upending of costumes, I think she made it abundantly clear that this isn't a holiday that she's interested in." Sam shuddered as he recalled the looks he got from the other people in the store - they all seemed to wonder why he couldn't control this child.

"Haven't you explained the benefits to her? The candy? Getting to scare people and play tricks on them without them getting mad at you?" Josh's glee over this holiday was difficult to contain.

"As you so brilliantly pointed out a minute ago - she's two, Josh. I don't think a benefits analysis is going to work with her. But by all means, when she wakes up from her nap - give it a try." Sam went back to flipping through the collection of magazines he had acquired trying to find a suitable costume for their daughter that wouldn't require him to sew anything.

"Okay, well, what about Mary Marsh? That's seriously scary."

"Josh - please focus here. We don't want to offend *anyone* with her costume. I don't want to have to think about how to put together a 'Mary Marsh' costume - and don't say a word about sticks and anatomical positioning - this is our daughter we're talking about. I don't want the therapy bills because of the trauma that sort of costume would cause. For *all* of us."

For the next hour, Josh continued to propose one inappropriate costume after another while Sam studied his magazines. What he discovered is he would have to have majored in costume design in college to follow the instructions for any of these, and then an idea hit him. He smacked himself in the forehead as he reached for the phone. "Why didn't I think of this before?"

"Think of what?"

"I've got connections. Kel knew people who design costumes for a living. I' m sure one of them can help me figure this out."

Josh took the phone out of Sam's hands. "Uh-uh. You need to do this one yourself - not staff it out."

Sam glared at him. "*We* need to do this *ourselves*. I'm not in this one alone. I never even liked Halloween all that much."

Josh held up his hands in mock defeat. "Okay, okay. I'll help. Now, what about Dr. Bartlet?"

Sam groaned and buried his head in his hands. This was going to be one *long* holiday.

Halloween day arrived and Josh was practically giddy. He had come up with a costume for Carrie that would offend no one - he was certain of it. *And* it wouldn't be easy for anyone to guess. He had spent days prepping Carrie for this - making sure she wouldn't blurt out who she was, and making sure she knew the right words so that when someone finally guessed who she was, she could tell. Most important, he had made sure she understood that it was a secret from her Daddy. He had spent the last hour locked in Carrie's room getting her ready. He could hear Sam grumbling and pacing outside - he knew Sam was irritated because he wouldn't share, but the effect would be so much better if Sam didn't know either.

So this was how Josh ended up getting Carrie ready. Once he had put the finishing touches on the costume, he grinned at Carrie. "You ready, little bit?"

Carrie nodded at him solemnly.

"Now, who are you supposed to be?"

"No tell." Carrie's eyes sparked much like Sam's did when he was keeping a secret, and then she let loose with her own devastating grin. "Guess."

Josh laughed and scooped her up. "Good girl, Carrie. I think we're ready. Let's go stump Daddy."

Carrie laughed as she snuggled into Josh's arms. "Go Osh."

Carrie and Josh tumbled out of the bedroom into the hallway where Sam was still pacing. Sam took in the pair with a long hard stare. "Oh, good god, Josh - who is she supposed to be?"

Josh shot his best 'you can't stay mad at me' grin at Sam and shrugged his shoulders. He set Carrie down and gave her gentle push toward Sam. "Go to Daddy, little bit. Let him see your whole costume - maybe he'll figure it out."

Carried toddled toward Sam, who was staring at his daughter. She was wearing what appeared to be a business suit, a pair of glasses, and she had a little binder in one hand and a pail for candy in the other. She grinned up at Sam. "Hi Daddy. Go now?"

Sam knelt down in front of her and studied her closely. "Carrie - who are you supposed to be?"

"No tell. Guess."

Sam looked up at Josh, who was fighting hard to keep from laughing. "A little help here?"

"No Daddy - guess!"

Josh burst out laughing before he could stop himself. "The princess has spoken."

"Well, since I know Josh *promised* that you wouldn't be anyone we know, I know you aren't Auntie CJ, right?"

Carrie looked back at Josh - confusion showing on her face. "Osh?"

Josh cursed under his breath. "Sam, she doesn't understand your question the way you asked it. Guess - don't use more words than absolutely necessary, okay?"

Sam took a deep breath and tried again. "Are you Auntie CJ?"

Carrie laughed and said, "No Daddy - not An C."

"Okay, are you Auntie Donna?"

"No." Carrie giggled more.

"Grandma Abbey?"

"No - silly Daddy."

"Aunt Ainsley?" Sam said with real fear in his voice.

"Who?"

Josh laughed. "He means the cat lady." Sam shot Josh a look, and Josh added for his benefit, "She heard us - well, me -- calling Ainsley "kitten," which she seems to think means Ainsley has cats, and so now she's the cat lady."

"Oh great. Just great. She hasn't said that *to* Ainsley, has she?"

"Sam - she's two. No one is going to blame her for what she says, and if she ever does say it to Ainsley - blame me. She picked it up from me anyway." Josh said calmly as he turned toward the coat closet. "We're going to be late, and we don't want to miss a minute of this, do we?"

"Josh. I want to know who my daughter is for Halloween before we leave this apartment."

"How is it that she's our daughter when you want my help; my daughter when she's been exasperating; and yours when there's information I have that you want?"

"Josh." Sam said the warning clearly implied in his tone, but he got no further because he felt a gentle tug on his pant leg. He looked down to see his daughter staring up at him. "What do you need, sweetie?"

"No tell Daddy. Osh no tell. Cawie know. Daddy guess." Carrie was all earnestness - sounding quite a bit like Sam when he was trying to convince Toby to do something he didn't want to do.

"Let's continue the guessing on the way, okay?" Josh suggested as he pulled out Carrie's coat and helped her into it. He turned and helped Sam into his, and then quickly put his own on as well.

"You're really not going to tell me?" Sam said incredulously as Josh began herding them down the hall to the car.

"No, and unless you want a lecture on promptness -- possibly in Latin -- from the leader of the free world, you'd best get a move on. He's been planning all week for this evening and god knows we don't want to disappoint him."

Sam was impressed by the trouble that everyone had gone to in order to make Halloween fun for Carrie. From the guards at the gate to the cooks in the kitchen, everyone had something for the little girl who wandered through the White House like she owned the place. So far no one had guessed who she was supposed to be, which just made her giggle harder and harder. However, they hadn't been to the west wing or to the residence, so there was hope yet that someone would figure out who she was. Sam was somewhat embarrassed to have to admit, over and over, that he hadn't figured it out yet either. He'd cycled through every single person they knew and many more they'd heard of, and so far none of them were who Carrie was supposed to be. Frankly, he'd run out of ideas and was dying to see who, if anyone, would guess who she was.

The first person they ran into in the west wing was Toby. For reasons passing understanding, Carrie was drawn to Toby, and even odder the feeling seemed to be mutual. All the gruffness that Toby usually displayed was sublimated when Carrie was around, so much so that Sam had seriously considered bringing his daughter to work everyday just to prevent the typical Toby explosions.

As soon as Carrie caught sight of Toby, she started running toward him, calling his name. "Toby, Toby, Toby."

Toby turned and fixed her with a piercing stare. "And who might you be?"

"Guess, Toby. Guess."

"Well, I thought you were Carrie, but clearly you aren't. So who let you into my office?"

"Daddy did." Carrie said, flashing a quick grin. "Guess who, Toby."

Toby stroked his beard as he studied the little girl in front of him. "I'm not going to guess right now. May I join you on your wanderings, Miss Seaborn?"

Carrie eagerly grabbed Toby's hand and started trying to pull him along with her. "Come Toby."

Carrie collected not only candy, but followers, throughout the west wing as each member of the staff - junior and senior - attempted to guess who she was and failed. She had long since passed off her pail to Josh in favor of holding Toby's hand and her binder to Sam so that she could hold Donna's, too. They were finally heading toward what Josh considered the main event.

When they reached the Residence, it was clear that the President had put Charlie and Zoey to work making the area holiday appropriate. There were jack-o-lanterns by the door, and they could hear spooky music coming from behind it.

Sam got a worried look on his face, and he nudged Josh before Carrie knocked on the door. "He remembers how little she is, right?"

Josh shook his head gently and wrapped a comforting arm around Sam's shoulders. "He's a grandfather, Sam. I'm sure it's going to be fine. Besides, we're right here. If she gets scared she'll come to us. Count on it."

Sam nodded his agreement with Josh's assessment. "Should we give her the rest of her stuff back?"

"Well, we want him to get the full effect, right?" Josh chuckled as he called Carrie over to give her back the binder and the pail.

"And you're still not going to tell me the full effect of what, are you?"

"If he can't guess either, I'll let Carrie tell you."

"You realize how bad it looks that I don't know what my own daughter is supposed to be for Halloween, don't you?"

"You've had plenty of opportunities to guess. You've heard everyone else guess, and you *still* can't figure it out. I'm better at this than I thought."

"You know, the point isn't to stump people. They are supposed to be able to look at the kid in question and say things like, 'what a cute ghost.' She's going to get a complex because all the other kids are getting identified and she isn't."

Josh looked around carefully. "Uh, Sam. What other kids? She's the only kid around here for as far as the eye can see."

Sam blushed. "Oh."

"So, reliving a bit of your own childhood over there?"

"Yeah. I guess."

At that moment the President opened the door and peered out at the small crowd. "And who do we have here? Abbey, I think we have a number of visitors, but I don't recognize this small one." He opened the door wider and motioned for everyone to enter.

Carrie caught sight of Charlie and launched herself at his knees. "Chawie."

Charlie picked the little girl up, gave her a quick squeeze, and set her back down. "Now who are you supposed to be?"

"Guess." Carrie was giggling again.

Charlie studied her carefully, and then called Zoey over to help him with his guess. Zoey looked over at Josh and said, "I don't think I'm allowed to guess."

"Why not?" Charlie asked.

Zoey shrugged and moved back over to the other side of the room near Josh. She quickly leaned up and whispered something in his ear. He pulled back to look at her for a second, shock apparent on his face, and nodded.

"Hey! Josh - are you hitting on my girlfriend?" Charlie asked, glaring with mock severity.

Josh's eyes bulged as both Leo and the President turn their gazes on him. "Um, no. Do I look like I have a death wish?"

"Well, no, but whispering and giggling could give a guy the wrong idea - know what I mean?"

Josh blushed scarlet as he carefully took two steps away from Zoey and held his hands up. "Nothing going on over here - I swear."

"Yeah, whatever." Charlie turned his attention back to Carrie, who was starting to get impatient. "As for you, hmmm - I'm going to go with CJ."

Carrie started giggling again. "Noooo Chawie."

"Okay, young lady. Come over here." The President ordered gently. Carrie wandered toward him, flashing a big grin.

"Gwampa."

"So who are you supposed to be?"

"No tell. Guess."

"Is that any way to speak to your President, young lady?"

Carrie's brow furrowed in confusion as she looked over to Josh. "Osh?" When Josh shook his head no, she settled back down. "Guess Gwampa, pwease?"

"That's better. Now let me think. I'm going to guess Mandy - whatever happened to her anyway?"

Leo smiled a small smile. "I think we're all better off not knowing the answer to that one, don't you sir? I'm going to guess Margaret."

Carrie almost fell over giggling. "Nooo."

Sam immediately turned on Josh. "Okay - everyone's guessed. Tell -"

"Wait a minute, Samuel. I deferred my guess, remember?" Toby said.

"Yeah, I remember. So tell us, Toby. Who is she?"

"I think she's Connie."

"Nooo, Toby." Carrie was still giggling.

"Now everybody's guessed, Josh. Who is she supposed to be?" Sam demanded.

Josh just shook his head as he held his hand out to Carrie. "Little bit, tell your Daddy who you are."

Carrie took in all the adults staring at her and smiled. "Cawie."

Josh laughed. "No sweetie, tell them who you're dressed up as."

"Oh - Sam."

"Sam. Who's Sam?" Sam's confusion was apparent. Everyone else laughed at Josh's ingenuity and at Sam. "Wait. You mean me? You dressed my daughter up as *me* for Halloween." Sam sounded indignant.

"Well she had the eyes and the smile - the rest was easy," Josh said quietly.

Sam watched as Josh shifted uneasily under his gaze. He realized in that moment that the costume wasn't supposed to offend, but to remind Sam that Carrie was really his daughter too. And as he watched her playing with Zoey, he had to admit that she did seem to be a great deal like him. He allowed himself a small smile as he said, "You know, it is kind of cool. I' m a Halloween costume."

Josh moved to Sam's side and said even more quietly. "You're a great deal more than that. Sometime soon, I'm going to remind you."

"Promise?"

"Yeah, I promise." Josh's brown eyes danced with anticipation of the time when he would get the chance.

End

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