Author: Anne Marsh
Title: Ends on a Thursday
Pairing: Currently pre-Josh/Sam, will be Josh/Sam Right now
Rating: PG, tops.
Disclaimers: I don't own West Wing, or 'Our House' (by Madness, lyrics from which head the chapters, song chosen because it reminds me of WW). Also, I don't own Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which inspired the title. I do own Rhiannon Dupree, but I don't like her.
Notes: Earlier this week, one of my dad's favourite movies was on TV, and it rather inspired this fic (won't tell you which movie-- you'll figure it out when you read the story). Josh POV.
Summary: Josh's Thursday *starts* out the way he expected...
Archive: Yes.
Feedback: I adore it. And since I haven't told you the name of the film that inspired the fic, you all have a chance to guess.

Ends on a Thursday by Anne Marsh

Prologue

//Mother has to iron his shirt
Then she sends the kids to school//

I rolled over and hit the alarm. Within twenty minutes, I was showered, dressed, and had breakfast in hand, headed out the door.

Well, okay, by breakfast, I mean a frozen Pop-Tart. I didn't bother to toast it-- I had to be in early today for my meeting with some guy named Hammet.

The commute was uneventful, I checked in, and was behind my desk early, as promised.

Sam waltzed in at eight-fifteen, looking inordinately pleased. He was whistling, and I did my best to scowl at him, but he's pretty hard to scowl at, and my day was going pretty well anyway.

"What's up with you?"

"Rhiannoon Dupree is up with me."

"Wow, and a poet, too." I looked back at my notes for the meeting with Hammet. That's right, Sam was dating Rhiannon Dupree now.

"We're going away this weekend." He smiled, folding his arms as he sat on the edge of my desk.

"Do you mind?" I shifted my papers around.

"Somebody got out on the wrong side of bed today." He remarked.

"I did not get out on the wrong side of bed today." I tried to put my notes in order. My day had been going just fine until he reminded me about Rhiannon Dupree. For some reason, I just didn't like her. I had no idea why, but I didn't.

"To Bermuda. In fact, our flight leaves at nine-thirty tonight."

"Well, don't get caught in the triangle. We'd hate to have to replace you at such an important juncture."

"Okay, Mr. Sarcastic. I think I'll go share my good mood with someone who's in less of a snit."

"I'm not in a snit!" I snapped. Sam was out the door.

---/-/---

Hammet went fine. All in all, the day was an ordinary one. I mean, in a relative context. No military coups trying to overthrow the American government, no comets the size of Montana hurtling towards the planet, nobody bringing giant reptiles into the building, or Morris dancing in the foyer. Like I said, an ordinary day.

Sam popped back into my office that evening. "Hey."

"Hey." I smiled, genuinely glad to see him. Almost always genuinely glad to see him...

"I've gotta knock off now... I'm picking Rhiannon up in a little while."

"Oh. Yeah. Right." I nodded. "Okay, I'll cover for you."

"You doing okay?"

"What? Yeah, I'm fine. What's up with the concern?"

"You were a little on edge earlier." He tilted his head towards me, slanting me a knowing look. "I trust your day has improved?"

"Yeah. It did." I answered shortly. It *did*, but then Sam shows up and has to remind me about Rhiannon Dupree, and I wish *I* could go to Bermuda.

"Sorry. Hey, I'll see you on... Tuesday. I'll see you Tuesday."

"Tuesday? What about Monday?"

"Josh, I'm going to Bermuda. It's not exactly a mere hop, skip, and a jump away. I took an extra two days off. It isn't like I don't have the time coming."

"No, yeah. That's fine, it's not like, a probelm or anything. I just thought-- Nevermind. Tuesday."

"I'll bring you a souvenir." He grinned.

"Sure." I smiled. "See you when you get back."

He was gone again. I tried to think of reasons I might not like Rhiannon Dupree.

I couldn't think of anyone else I knew named Rhiannon. Or Dupree. So it wasn't just an unfortunate mental link.

It's not like she'd been unpleasant, the few times we'd met. She was very polite, she went out of her way to be nice to everyone.

It's not like I have any real reason to think she'd hurt Sam, either, before I go Randal on her. She was glued to his side the whole evening of the party where I met her. She was proud of his recent accomplishments, she was charming to all his friends, so happy to be there with him.

She was pretty. Well-dressed and well-groomed, and smart. The perfect girlfriend. What anyone'd wish for his best friend-- or for himself. The more I thought about her, the less reason I could find not to like her. And, inversely, the less I liked her.

---/-/---

I went home feeling frustrated and upset. I ate some leftovers cold out of the fridge and ignored the messages on my machine. One of them was work-related and semi-important, and one of them was from my mother. The other five were from Donna, and not actually important at all.

I had a beer, brushed my teeth half-heartedly, and fell into bed. I thought about my intense dislike of Rhiannon Dupree until I fell asleep.

---/-/---

//Mother has to iron his shirt,
Then she sends the kids to school
Sees them off with a small ki--//

I hit the alarm. Weird... I don't think I've ever woken up to the same song two days in a row.

Of course, if I could pick a song to wake up to twice in a row, I'd pick 'I Got You, Babe', you know, for its ironic value. Or something like that.

I got ready at a more leisurely pace, but in the shower, my thoughts inexplicably snapped back to Sam and Rhiannon, and their weekend in Bermuda, and it soured my morning. I skipped breakfast.

---/-/---

"Josh! Where have you been?" Donna hounded me.

"What? I'm here on time."

"Josh, you have a meeting with Hammet in exactly two minutes!"

I stopped, and she ran into me. "What? Donna, I met with Hammet. It was just yesterday, remember?"

She stared at me. "Um... Josh, you didn't meet with Hammet yesterday. Maybe you had some sort of weird, prophetic dream where you met with Hammet, but you didn't. I put it on your schedule myself. Hammet on the sixteenth."

"Right."

"On the sixteenth?"

"It's the seventeenth." I said flatly.

She rolled her eyes. "I don't believe you. You can't even keep the days straight? Josh, yesterday was Wednesday--"

"Thursday." I corrected her.

"Today is Thursday."

I sighed, raking a hand over my face. "This is a joke, right? Somebody called the radio station to get them to play the song again, and you're all playing an elaborate prank on me for some reason."

"What are you talking about? Look, there's no time! Hammet's right there!"

I started. Hammet was right there. "Hammet's in on it?" I hissed.

"Meeting! Go! Now!"

Hammet followed me in, and made the same opening statement as he had the day before.

"Mr. Hammet, I really don't think we have to go through this all again. Now, you just go tell them you did your job, but I'm not going to fall for it, okay?"

I ushered Hammet, gasping and sputtering, out of the office, and locked my door. I picked up the phone.

"Donna, no calls."

---/-/---

Within fifteen minutes, Leo was hammering at my other door.

"JOSH LYMAN, GET YOUR BUTT OUT OF THERE!"

I let him in, utterly confused.

"Joshua, are you as stupid as I think you are?"

I blinked at him. "Maybe?"

"I can't believe you told Hammet-- I can't believe it! What is wrong with you? Of course we have to 'go through all this again', and I can't believe you sent him out without even talking to him!"

"But-- I talked to Hammet yesterday!"

"But you had a meeting with him today, and anything you might have said yesterday was not official business. Today, when you met with him in your office, it was, and you didn't even let him get more than six words out!"

I decided against saying 'did too'. I had too, but if I said so, it would only make me sound childish.

"You're going to hear more on this." Leo warned me, storming out. I sighed, dropping my head down to my desk.

The door opened again, with a hesitant creak.

"Go away, Donna." I mumbled.

I felt a human warmth near my folded arms, and looked up to see Sam sitting on the edge of my desk.

"Sam! I thought you were in Bermuda."

"No, that's not 'til tonight. Our flight's at nine-thirty."

I blinked. "Tonight?"

"Yeah."

"I thought it was last night."

He laughed. "Aw, did you think I'd go without saying goodbye?"

"You're not staying in Bermuda forever." I grumbled.

"Nope, just 'til Tuesday. Unless we get caught in the triangle, that is. Hey, I'll buy you a souvenir. So... Leo's mad."

"Hadn't noticed." I said dryly. Sam held up his hands in mock defense, and I let out a sigh. "He says I abused Hammet."

"Oh, right. The meeting was today."

"The meeting was yesterday." I was getting real sick of saying that.

"Really? Huh. Hammet was just here... You sure-- Well, of course you'd be sure, it was your meeting. I just could've sworn it was on Thursday."

"Sam..." I sighed, turning to my calendar. Thursday. The very same Thursday I had triumphantly x-ed out before leaving the office last night. It was un-x-ed. "Thursday..."

"Today is Thursday." He nodded. "Josh, you okay? You're looking a little... a little pale..."

I shook my head. "I'm fine. Look, I-- I think I need to talk to Leo... I may have, um, abused Hammet."

---/-/---

By the end of the night, I decided that Donna was right about the dream thing-- similar to the day I had-- or would have had, if I hadn't botched the meeting with Hammet, but not verbatim. Just a dream about the next day, which I think is pretty normal, if a little too realistic.

I still didn't have an answer on why I hated Rhiannon Dupree so much.

---/-/---

//Mother has to iron his shirt
Then she sends the ki--//

I hit the alarm violently. No. No no no no no. This. Was. Not. Happening. To me! No way.

I decided to go back to sleep and let the alarm wake me again, properly the next time.

I was just drifting off to sleep when the phone jerked me back to wakefulness.

"Yello?" I scrubbed at my eyes, then ran a hand over my hair.

"Josh, did you forget about your meeting with Hammet?"

"Oh, no." I shook my head vehemently. "I met with Hammet. I met with Hammet twice."

"Well, I don't care how many times you've met with Hammet before, you have a meeting with him today, and it's in fifteen minutes. How close are you?"

"Um..."

"Don't tell me you're in bed."

"Okay. I won't tell you."

"Josh..."

"Look, stall Hammet-- somebody stall Hammet, I-- I'll be there. As soon as I can be. Okay?"

"You had better have a really good explanation for this, Joshua."

"Oh, I've got a great explanation." I said wryly, hanging up the phone. Of course, no one would believe my great explanation, but I had one.

---/-/---

After my meeting with Hammet, Sam bounced into my office.

"Let me guess." I rubbed at my eyes wearily. "You're excited about Bermuda."

"Um. Yeah. Way to damper, Josh."

"Sorry... I'm just-- having a rough day." I laughed mirthlessly. "Oh, you cannot begin to fathom how I've been having a rough day!"

"Rhiannon's great, isn't she?" He smiled, gazing off into space.

"Yeah." I answered distractedly, going through my papers, looking for-- well, I had no idea what I was looking for. Something to keep me occupied, to keep my mind off of Rhiannon Dupree, the human bad-mood-inducing-thingamajig.

"So... I was gonna drop by before your thing with Hammet, but apparently, you were the one person who forgot about it."

"I didn't *forget* about Hammet, I--" I stopped short. "I just had a rough day yesterday, too."

He quirked his mouth into a sympathetic half-smile and rubbed my back for a too-brief moment. "Hey, the week's almost over."

"I'm working over the weekend." I sighed.

"No."

"I've got Saturday night off." I shrugged. "Not the day, just the evening. And because mom's been pestering me about-- stuff, I will not be enjoying my night of freedom, I will be-- I don't know. Trying to fit a month's worth of being a good son into four hours. But hey, I bet Bermuda's nice."

"You could get some more time if you--"

"No, Sam, I can't." Another sigh. "I mean, I could, but I can't. You know? I'm just-- there's too much for me to do. But hey, you, you got some time off."

"You sure you guys can last without me?"

"Yeah." I put my hand on his shoulder. It felt right, but I didn't go into that feeling. "We'll last until Tuesday. But don't you go loitering on your way back, young man."

He laughed. "Yeah, yeah. Hey, Josh, I--"

"Buy me a souvenir?" I asked, cutting him off. He gave an astonished laugh.

"I was just gonna say."

I shrugged. "Psychic."

"Psycho." He corrected, gently pushing at my shoulder, then giving my tie an affectionate tug-and-straighten. "She gonna make you go to a service or something? Your mom?"

"I figured I'd tell her I went, but not, you know, actually go."

"Lying to your mother about church." He shook his head. "You're evil, I want you to know that."

"Politics, my boy, politics."

"Your own mother!" He laughed again.

"Like you don't tell your mom you do all the stuff she raised you to do. Face it, you're no more religious than I am. You get all faith-y at the big holidays, and that's enough for you, too."

"Yeah, but I think my mom's pretty much the same way."

"In fact, I am *more* religious than you." I decided.

"How so?" Amusement tugged at his expression.

"I celebrate Christmas."

"*I* celebrate Christmas. And you're Jewish."

"Exactly. I celebrate your holiday. Do I ever see you celebrating someone else's holiday?"

"You don't *celebrate* Christmas. You mock Christmas, watch Charlie Brown and Frosty the Snowman, and receive presents from people who do celebrate it. It's not the same."

"I celebrate Channukah. Kinda. Like, for the first couple nights. And yes, admittedly, it is our version of the present holiday, because Rosh Hanna hogs all the religious signifigance. Though I do seem to remember a story about beseiged Maccabees and a miracle of God. Mostly, though, it's a week and a day of presents."

He shook his head. "Okay, you win. But only because you're using your own brand of convoluted logic with no basis in reality, and even I can't keep up with you."

"Sam, as long as we're doing studies in comparative religion..."

"Yeah?"

"We killed him." I admitted, bowing my head in feigned shame.

"What?"

"Jesus. I'm sorry. We killed him. It was-- not one of our proudest moments."

"What are your proudest moments?"

"Oh, you know. Inventing latkes and gelt. Being funnier than the people of other religions. Running the world's economy. We have a secret handshake."

"A secret handshake?"

"Well, no. We just nod at each other and exchange knowing looks. The bagel, the bagel is one of our finest acheivements. Ask anyone-- ask Toby. He'll back me up."

Another laugh. Ah, this was a better Thursday than yesterday. Sam has a beautiful laugh.

"And, hey, there's no sore feelings, right? About Jesus? Because apparently, he rose from the dead. Of course, it's not an unprecedented phenomenon amongst the prophets."

"Really?"

"Oh, yeah. We Jews rise from the dead all the time. I've done it once."

He almost laughed, then didn't, a cloud passing quickly over his features. "Well, anyway... I really should do some work, since I'm taking a long weekend off... and I have to call Rhiannon to iron out some details."

"Yeah." I tried to keep my face from falling. "See you around."

"Yeah." And he was gone. Again.

---/-/---

It was just about time for Sam to swing back through to let me know he was going. Right on cue, he knocked on my door and came in before I answered.

"Hey, Sam. Thought you'd be by about now. Knocking off, right?"

"Um, yeah." He paused a moment in the doorway, then came over to sit on the edge of my desk. "Just thought I'd let you know. So... the Jews run the world's economy?"

"Huh?"

"From earlier."

"Oh. Yeah. We totally run the world's economy. Haven't you read Shakespeare?"

"Do you have a secret plan to fight inflation?" He grinned.

"Screw you." I pushed him off the edge of my desk. He laughed.

"See you Tuesday. Try not to lose the country while I'm gone."

"Yeah. You be careful around that triangle." I teased back. "Have a good flight."

There was a weird moment, where we didn't say anything, and just stood there looking at each other, half-smiling, half... Well, I don't pretend to know Sam's other half.

Sam's other half. Why the heck do I hate Rhiannon so much, anyway?

---/-/---

I ran into CJ in the hallway after Sam had gone. Or rather, I nearly ran into CJ, physically.

"Woah, there, Cowboy." She put a hand on my shoulder. "Someone's in a foul mood... What's up with you?"

"I'm not in a foul mood." I lied.

"This because of Hammet?"

"No." That part was the truth. I had been late, but at least this time I hadn't insulted him and thrown him out of my office.

"Spill it, McSulky. You've got this whole little metaphorical raincloud hovering over your head."

"It's nothing." I shrugged. "Hey-- do you know a Rhiannon Dupree?"

"Isn't that Sam's girlfriend?" Her forehead knotted. "Yeah, her name sounds familiar."

"Yeah... um, do you know anything about her? I keep thinking-- something's not right there, you know?"

She shook her head. "No, I don't know. She seems like a lovely girl. I thought she and Sam made a pretty little couple at that party, maybe not as cute as-- Why?"

"Nevermind." I said quickly, feeling my face heat.

---/-/---

//Mother has to iron his shi--//

This time, I hit the alarm within seconds, got ready, and was at work right on time to prepare for my meeting with Hammet. Not only that, but I was able to give him his opening statement before he even opened his briefcase.

That auspicious start began the perfect meeting. It was even better than the first meeting I'd had with Hammet. If I had to keep living this day over until I got it right, I definitely got it right there. Hammet left happy, and his people would be singing Bartlet's praises for weeks.

I was humming to myself and generally in a good mood when there was a knock on my closed door.

"Come on in, Sam." I called.

The door swung open to reveal Sam, looking faintly amazed. "You're good."

"I'm having a psychic day." I grinned, lacing my fingers behind my head and leaning my chair back.

"The psychic's going to fall over backwards if he's not careful."

"I didn't fall over last time it was Thursday." I retorted, realizing once the words had left my mouth just how stupid I must've sounded.

Sam just chuckled. "O-o-okay. So... if you're so psychic--"

"Your flight leaves at nine-thirty, you'll be back Tuesday, you think Rhiannon's great, you'll be careful around the triangle, and you'll bring me back something nice." I smiled.

He gaped at me."I-- um, yeah, I-- Josh?"

"Told you I was psychic."

"Or you checked my itinerary, but-- Anything else up with you? And who said I was going to bring you back something nice?"

"You will, right?" I shot him a puppy-dog look, and he laughed again.

"Yeah. I'll bring you back something real purty, Josh."

"Bring me Amelia Earheart's femur." I said majestically. "That's what *I* want from Bermuda. Part of Amelia Earheart."

"But then I'd have to go into the triangle, and then I might not be back in time for work on Tuesday." He grinned. Then his face got all serious. "Besides, they found Amelia Earheart's body already, so I can't get it for you."

"They did no, she's missing in the Bermuda Triangle!"

"They did so. They found two skeletons-- and, you know, I'm sure some remains and stuff-- in a plane, and for *years* they just assumed that both skeletons were male, because of course there were no woman pilots back then, but recently, someone looked at the pelvis and realized that it was, in fact, female."

"That is so not--"

"Also, the name 'Amelia' was carved into her skull." This time, he was grinning again. "Sorry, you'll have to settle with a souvenir like normal people."

"It better be part of a human body, Sam. I want human remains!"

He laughed again, and I relished it a little while, wondering if anyone sold shrunken heads in Bermuda.

Rhiannon would get to hear him laugh all weekend. Suddenly, I felt crummy.

Of course, Rhiannon would have to listen to him lecture about finding Amelia Earheart all weekend, too.

I kind of like listening to Sam lecture.

She probably doesn't appreciate it, either.

I am so messed up right now. I need to get out of here.

---/-/---

I got out for a while, then went back in and accomplished some things.

Again, Sam dropped by before leaving.

"So. Human remains. I'll see what I can do there." He smiled, patting the doorframe as he loped past.

"Yeah. Hey, call me-- when you get to Bermuda. You know, so I know you're not lost in the triangle?" I immediately made myself smile goofily at him, wondering why I'd said that at all.

"You really want me to check in?"

"Nah. You don't have to." I shrugged.

"Well, I'll let you know if I think to." He slapped the wood again and disappeared.

I packed up my things and decided I might as well head home, too.

---/-/---

I aced the meeting with Hammet, so by all rights, tomorrow will be Friday. That's good-- that's the way the world is *supposed* to work.

Of course, I don't see Sam on Friday.

But I really, really can't conceive of another Thursday, unless it happens, you know, seven non-Thursdays from this one. So not gonna do it. And it's not like I have to see Sam every single day or anything. I mean, it's not like I'm in love with the guy.

I banged my head against the wall about forty times before bed, not caring if it gave me a headache come morning. I now had an even bigger headache to deal with.

---/-/---

//Mother has to iron his shirt
Then she se--//

What the hey? I aced Hammet, I aced Hammet, this is so not fair, I aced Hammet!

I don't get it, in Groundhog Day, all Bill Murray had to do was get the day right, and it was over, so why isn't today over?

I went into work and had the Hammet meeting again, and got it right, but it wasn't as good as yesterday, when I really rocked.

Sam swung into my office as Hammet left.

"Bermuda today, huh?" I forced a grin.

"Yup. Hey... what's wrong?"

"Hm?"

"I can tell, Josh. You've *still* got a lousy poker face. What's wrong?"

"Oh, nothing... just this little thing that's been bothering me, it's nothing, really. Um... you've seen Groundhog Day, right?"

Sam nodded, business-like. "Yeah. As far as humour goes, Groundhog Day is the clear winner, but on plot value, I think 12:01 is much better. Seen it?"

"Uh... no."

"Oh, it's great. It's basically the same thing, but there's a machine that's making the day repeat, and only the hero remembers when he wakes up. Also, he falls in love with this woman who works on the scientific project at the heart of the mess-up in the space-time continuum, but she keeps getting murdered, and he has to try to save her and get to the machine and undo the thing by 12:01, and he finally gets her to believe him because after he saved her life the day before, she told him all about herself, stuff no one else knew. And, um, in the end they fix the machine and she doesn't die. It's a good movie."

I nodded. Man, I really hope I don't have to fix a machine to get to Friday...

"Anyway, my flight leaves at--"

"Nine-thirty." I interrupted. "Yeah."

"Yeah."

"Sam, Amelia Earheart doesn't mean anything to you, does she?"

He regarded me in confusion. "Well, we're not seeing each other or anything, if that's what you mean. Are you okay, Josh?"

"Yeah." I shook my head. "I-- I'm fine."

"Okay..." He didn't sound sure. "I'll let you know before I head out."

"I know." I put my head down on the desk. I knew.

---/-/---

Donna came in with some files I apparently needed. "Hey, Josh."

"Hey, Donna."

"Boy, you look terrible. You don't sound so good, either. Something wrong? I thought things went well with Hammet."

"Hammet's fine. I don't know what I have to fix. I hope it's not a machine."

She stared at me. "O-o-o-kay. So... Sam is dating Rhiannon Dupree."

The way she said the name caught my attention, like a snare around a defenseless little bunny rabbit. Like she didn't think any higher of Rhiannon Dupree than I did.

"What about her?"

"Oh!" She blushed. "You don't know?"

"What don't I know?" I wondered if she was an axe-murderer or something. Then Sam would have to break up with her, right?

"She's, like, the biggest social climbing gold-digger in DC."

Something in my brain crashed. She wasn't ever sticking to Sam, at the party, ever, because she loved him. She was *using* him, Sam, the sweetest guy on the face of this earth, and the man I'd just realized I was hopelessly in love with.

If Rhiannon Dupree was to walk through that door just then, I'd've become an axe-murderer. Except that I don't have an axe. I briefly wondered if I could get an axe.

"You never knew about her?"

"No." I answered numbly.

"She's a real witch." Donna nodded.

"Um... thanks for the files. I-- I should, um, work."

Donna shrugged and left. I didn't work.

---/-/---

Sam came back in, right on schedule.

"Bermuda awaits." He grinned.

"Sam, Rhiannon Dupree is the biggest social climbing gold-digger in DC." I said. Of course, I should have known I would only be putting my foot in my mouth, but I'm kind of a moron.

His expression darkened. "Josh?"

"I-- I don't know why I said that..."

"No. Neither do I. I'll see you on Tuesday." And he turned and left, mad. And the room felt really, really cold.

---/-/---

I got really, really drunk and thought about how I blew it. If tomorrow was Thursday again, I could fix it, but what if tomorrow is Friday, and Sam is in Bermuda getting cozy with Rhiannon and he hates me? What if this is some sort of sick reverse Groundhog Day, where it'll be tomorrow once I screw up my life as bad as possible?

I passed out on my couch.

---/-/---

//Mother has to iron his shirt
Then she sends the kids to school
Sees them off--//

I got up, showered, went in to work, rushed through the Hammet meetin as quickly as I could without botching things, and waited for Sam.

"Hey, Josh. Saw Hammet leave."

"Hey, Sam." I offered a smile, which he returned, blissfully unaware of all the things that were going really, really wrong with my life. "So... Bermuda."

"Yeah. I have to talk to Rhiannon again before I leave to--"

"Iron out the details." I nodded. "Sam... here's the thing. You don't remember, but the other day, I asked you if you had seen Groundhog Day..."

"Um... no, I don't remember. But--"

"The reason you don't remember-- Well, ironically enough, it's the same reason I asked about Groundhog Day in the first place-- and you told me all about a movie called 12:01, but you don't remember that, either--"

"Josh, what are you talking about?"

"Sam, yesterday was Thursday." I said solemnly, waiting for his reaction.

"Josh, today is Thursday."

"The day before yesterday was Thursday. Sam, for me, it's been Thursday for the past four days. This is my fifth extraneous Thursday."

He laughed. "Okay, very cute. Can we--"

"Sam, it's true. I swear! I-- I keep meeting with Hammet, I keep seeing you. Flight at nine-thirty, Rhiannon is great, you have to iron out the details. We joke about the triangle, and you say you'll buy me a souvenir, and we say 'see you Tuesday', and-- and the day goes on, and you come in again to tell me you're knocking off, and every time, I go home miserable, and I wake up and it's Thursday!"

"Josh... are you all right?"

"No!" I shouted. "I'm not all right! Don't you get it? I'm not all right, because it's Thursday!"

"Josh, I'm worried about you..."

"Why do you keep saying my name?"

"Josh, I don't keep saying your name."

I whined and threw myself into my chair. "Sam... you've gotta believe me! You're not going to remember tomorrow. I have to fix this, and I don't know how!"

"Josh... Josh, I'll come back and we can talk about this later. Right now, I-- Maybe you should go home..."

"I can't." I shook my head, adamant. "If I go home, then it'll just keep going, and-- Sam, please don't let this happen..."

He looked at me sadly for a moment, then left.

Ten minutes later, I was being 'escorted' to a meeting with some psychiatrists.

---/-/---

//Mother has to iron his shirt
Then she sends the kids to school
Sees them off with a small kiss
She's the one they're going to miss in lots of ways//

I sighed and turned off the alarm, then called Hammet's office to re-schedule, telling them that an emergency had come up.

Hey, if this isn't an emergency, what is?

I got to work, and Sam popped into my office, right on time.

"Hey, Josh." He grinned broadly. My mind flashed back to yesterday, and I couldn't keep the pain off my face. My stupid absence-of-poker-face face. "Josh? Are you okay?"

"I'll be fine. I had to postpone things with Hammet because of-- some stuff. It's nothing." I half-lied. "But hey... Bermuda. That's cool."

I was getting *really* sick of saying that and pretending it didn't give me an ulcer to think of him with Rhiannon. Especially now that I know...

"Yeah. I'm going to have to iron out some details with Rhiannon as soon as I get the chance to talk to her. Our flight leaves at--"

"Nine-thirty." I nodded. "You know what? You should have her come here. She could take the White House tour while she waits for you to get out of your afternoon meeting, I bet she'd get a kick out of that, right?"

Sam grinned. "Yeah. She would. Thanks, Josh, that's a great idea. And-- you know, it seems silly now, but-- for a while, I was worried you might not like her. Isn't that crazy?"

"Oh, that's crazy all right." I forced yet another grin. So crazy, it just had to be true, I thought ruefully.

---/-/---

I pushed my work to the side and went out to get to Rhiannon before Sam got out of his meeting. She was waiting in his office, looking bored and reading the titles off the spines of his books.

"Rhiannon Dupree?" I made myself smile politely, and she returned the gesture apathetically. "Josh Lyman. Sam's best friend? He'll be here in just a couple minutes, I thought I'd stop by and make sure you got here all right."

"Yeah. The secret service brought me over after the tour." She snapped her gum. How could Sam stand this woman? Obviously she was a different woman when he wasn't around.

"So. Bermuda. Sounds like a great time."

"Yeah." She shrugged. "I'm sure it is. I'll come back to work with a tan, at least."

I burned with hatred for this woman. An extended weekend with the perfection-on-legs that is Sam Seaborn, and the plus point she finds is coming back with a *tan*? That ungrateful little-- Smiling made my face ache, not to mention my Thursday Special ulcer.

"Listen... like I said, Sam is my best friend. He means a lot to me. So. If you hurt him, I'll kill you." Then I grinned-- a genuine grin this time-- and left.

I bumped into Sam on the way back to my office.

"Hey. Is Rhiannon here?"

"I haven't seen her." I said in passing, and he headed off in the other direction.

---/-/---

Sam didn't come by again this time. I waited-- in fact, I was in my office, not working, until nine-thirty came and went. Not so much as a call.

With a heavy sigh, I headed out. I passed Toby on the way.

"Sam's one lucky S.O.B." He grumbled. "He's on his way to Bermuda right now... and I spend the weekend working on this stupid speech without my deputy. It's not even an important speech!"

"Yeah." I managed.

Tomorrow, Sam is not getting on that plane with Rhiannon Dupree, and I will make sure of it if it kills me.

---/-/---

//Mother has to iron his shirt,
Then she sends the kids to scho--//

With a sigh, I rolled out of bed and cancelled my meeting with Hammet again. It was really, really important that I convince Sam of the whole Thursday situation, and I just didn't have time to think about anything else. Besides, I already had the Hammet thing pretty well rehearsed for whenever Friday decided to roll around.

Outside, I found a smooth rock and put it in my pocket, stroking over it once with the tips of my fingers and hoping things would go all right.

In the hallway, one of the secret service guys stopped me and asked what I had in my pocket. It was a very understandable question, I decided, for a secret service agent to ask.

"It's a neat looking rock I found. I was gonna put it on my desk." I shrugged, displaying the rock. It was round and black, with green flecks.

He nodded and let me go.

---/-/---

I had a really good letter opener. This thought solidified in my mind as I sharpened said letter opener on my neat looking rock, while other random thoughts flowed through my head without pause.

Yup. A really good letter opener. I sliced through an envelope with more-than-ordinary ease, and then used the now-sharp opener to pin the letter inside to the wood of my desk. I pulled it back out and looked at the little gouge mark I'd left behind. If I didn't fix it today, then the mark would be gone anyway. If I did fix it, well, the little tiny hole was a small price to pay. I went back to sharpening the opener-- it gave my hands something to do.

Sam came in, like he'd done every Thursday the sixteenth. "Hey, Josh. What are you doing?"

"Sam... I need to talk to you. Also, I need you to not think I'm crazy."

He sat down, expression turning serious.

"Sam, I've been reliving this day for about a week now. Last time I told you, you thought I was crazy, and I got led off and handed over to a bunch of shrinks. But it's real-- I keep waking up to Thursday the sixteenth, and I can't make it stop. Not by acing the meeting with Hammet, not by anything, and-- and I need your help."

I could tell by the look on his face he did think I was crazy. "Josh... I kind of need to--"

"No!" I jumped up. "Sam, you can't leave, not now-- or it'll be like the last time when you called the psychiatrists on me, and I'm not insane-- not about this! Sam, if you go... if you go, how am I going to stop this?"

"How are you going to stop it if I stay?"

"I don't know." Tears stung my eyes. I stubbornly tried not to show them. "Sam... I-- I know, you can't really believe me today, but--"

"Josh, I really have to--"

I was hit by a sudden idea, which I didn't care for, but really, it was the only idea I had. I pushed my sleeve back and grabbed the letter opener. "Sam, if you walk out that door, I swear I'll slice my wrist open."

He stopped dead in his tracks. "Josh!"

"You can't go, Sam. Not now... not without giving me a chance. Last time-- last time you thought I was insane..."

"Josh, can I just say, threatening suicide doesn't make you seem any more sane..." His voice wavered, and his eyes moved between mine and the sharpened letter opener in my hand.

"It's perfectly sane. I'll just wake up tomorrow and none of it will have happened, not for anyone else."

"Josh, please don't do it... please. It-- it'll happen for me, and-- What would I do?"

"Nothing." I shrugged. "Just don't leave. I promise, Sam, I-- I don't want to do anything drastic that I don't have to. I-- I'm scared to death to try it, but I'm desperate here, man."

There were tears in his eyes now, too. He moved over to me, reaching an unsteady hand out. "Josh... Josh, put it down. Please? For me?"

"Don't go." I let it drop.

"I won't." He wrapped his arms around me in a crushing embrace. I wouldn't mind spending every day the same way if every day was in Sam's arms, but not under these circumstances. Really not if it made Sam cry. "Josh... what's going on?"

"I told you... it's Thursday. Every day."

"How is that even possible?" He sniffled, still holding me tight. "I mean, it's not possible!"

"I don't know. I don't know how to stop it. I thought I just had to get the day right... I aced the Hammet meeting, but it's still Thursday."

"In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray got the girl."

I let out a harsh sob and clung to him. "I-- I don't have a girl. Sam?"

"What is it, Josh? Just-- look, I'll listen to anything, just promise you won't-- Promise me you won't."

"12:01... You told me about a movie called 12:01. I never saw it, but you said it was better than Groundhog Day."

"When did I--"

"It was another Thursday. You told me about a machine, and how the guy had to keep this scientist woman from getting murdered, and to make her believe him, he tells her things he couldn't know if she didn't tell him... Sam, tell me something I'd never know if you didn't tell me. Something about you, something that would make you believe. Because I need you to believe me, Sam, and I know you don't believe me now. Right now, you think I'm crazy, and you don't want me to kill myself. So tell me something that will make you believe me tomorrow."

"Josh... tomorrow is going to be Friday."

I shook my head. "Not until I fix this. Tell me, Sam."

He swallowed and gave me one last squeeze before pulling back to meet my eyes. "If you do this-- Josh, if you-- I don't know how I'd--"

"Sam, please. You've gotta do this." I picked up the letter opener absently, toying with it, just needing something to keep my hands occupied. Sam flinched. "It's okay. I'm not gonna. Just-- Please, Sam. Tell me something. Something only you know."

"I never told anyone this... anyone. Back at Princeton, I-- I kissed a boy. At a party. It wasn't on a dare, and I wasn't drunk. I was taking a human sexuality course, and it-- I was curious. You know, if it was-- If I was-- My professor was named Hallman. The boy I kissed was named Matty. He didn't remember who I was the next day... he was drunk. We were on the back porch. No one else was there. He didn't remember-- I am the only person on earth who knows about this. Except for you."

"Hallman. Human sexuality. Matty." I repeated the crucial words, nodding.

"I was wearing a blue sweater. Someone spilled their drink on it. That sweater got ruined a week later when a friend's dog chewed it."

I nodded. "Thank you, Sam."

And then I kissed him on the cheek, and walked out of my office, not even noticing the letter opener still in my hand.

---/-/---

I noticed it when I reached the bathroom. Then, deciding I couldn't get through the rest of this Thursday, that Sam was only going to call the shrinks now that I was gone, and that it wouldn't really matter, I screwed up my courage and did it. The last thing before it all went dark was the bathroom door swinging open. I thought I heard my name. The next thing I hear is going to be 'Our House', anyway.

---/-/---

//Mother has to iron his shirt
Then she sends the kids to school
Sees them off with a small kiss
She's the one they're going to miss in lots of wa--//

I called Donna first thing. "Cancel the Hammet meeting. Or-- postpone it. Postpone the Hammet meeting."

"Josh?"

"There's been an emergency, and I can't come in-- If I'm not in this afternoon, I'll be in on Friday," God willing, I thought to myself. "But I won't be in on time for the Hammet meeting, so postpone it to tomorrow, or-- Just postpone it." I said hurriedly.

"Okay..." She agreed slowly. "Josh...?"

"I'll explain later." I told her. I'd have to make up a fake explanation for Donna...

Once I was off the phone with Donna, I called Sam, and started in with no preamble. "Come over. It's an emergency."

"Josh?"

"It's an emergency, Sam. I need you to come over. Just-- call Cathy, call anyone, tell them it's an emergency, and get over here as soon as you can, because I need you."

There was a pause.

"Sam?"

"Yeah. Okay, I-- Josh, just sit tight, whatever it is. I'm going to call Toby, and I'll be over in thirty. You can wait thirty minutes, yeah?"

"Yeah, just-- hurry, Sam. This is really, really important. There's no one else I can go to on this."

"Okay." He said softly.

We hung up and I took a quick shower to pass the time. I was dressed, and still had a few minutes, but I was too nervous to eat, and apparently I had never set up coffee on Wednesday. I set some up now, in case Sam wanted any when he got here, or if I wanted some after he left.

That was a thought I'd like to avoid... What if Sam-- what if it didn't work, if I'm doomed to an endless rush of Thursdays? I can't live like that! No... no, Sam will fix it, he'll know what to do, Sam will make everything all right, I just have to trust in that.

There was a knock on the door, but it was just a nicety-- Sam had his emergency-use key. He was in the room within seconds.

"Josh! What happened? Are you all right?"

"Maybe... I don't know." I confessed, leading him over to the couch. "Sam, this is going to be hard to swallow... Trust me, I know, I-- I wouldn't believe it if someone told me, but-- Well, I have to believe it, because I'm the one it's been happening to. Sam, all week, I've been waking up on Thursday."

"What?"

"Like in Groundhog Day, only-- Only this is really not funny, Sam, it's terrifying, and I don't know how to fix it, I can't do this on my own."

"Bill Murray got the girl." He offered lamely.

That's when the teardrops started, and I wanted to throw myself into his arms, but I didn't. He patted my arm, and I tried to let that be enough.

"Josh-- This is serious here? You-- How is that even possible? It can't be-- Josh... Have you been under any undue stress lately? The emergency you--"

"This is the emergency." I told him, spreading my arms in a vague gesture. "I haven't snapped, I haven't lost it. I'm in a big cycle of Thursdays, and if I get it right, maybe it'll stop, but I haven't been able to get it right. I'm not making this up!"

"No, I-- I never thought you were making it up, Josh, but--"

"Sam, yesterday, it was Thursday, and I asked you to tell me something no one else knew. You told me about Matty."

He stared at me, shocked, expectant.

"You were taking Hallman's course on Human Sexuality, at Princeton. You were at a party-- you weren't drunk, just curious. No one else was there, because you were out on the porch. You kissed a boy named Matty, and he didn't remember it later, didn't remember you. You never told anyone. You told me yesterday, so that I'd have something to tell you today, when it was Thursday, when I needed you to believe me."

"This... doesn't make any sense. Why would I even have--"

"I threatened to commit suicide if you didn't." I admitted. His jaw dropped.

"Josh! Josh, don't even *say* something like that! What would I do if-- Josh, how-- I don't understand..." He shook his head, eyes wet. "This can't-- this can't be happening..."

"I know, but it is, and-- So you told me, so I wouldn't do it, and--"

"How could you even--"

"I sharpened my letter opener on a rock." I answered, anticipating the rest of his question.

He nodded, still dazed. Now he was holding onto me. "Josh, this is--"

"You even told me what you were wearing, to the party. A blue sweater. It got chewed up by somebody's dog."

He laughed, in spite of everything. "I didn't even know I remembered-- but yeah, that was the sweater... it was my favourite sweater, for about seven months... you know, before the dog--"

"There's no way I'd know about all that, if you hadn't told me. Is there?"

"No." He shook his head again, and buried his face against my shoulder. "Josh, this is-- I don't even know what to say... How did all of this happen? What's going to make it stop for you?"

"I don't-- I'm not sure." Bill Murray got the girl, his voice in my head reminded. "There's no girl. I-- I aced the meeting with Hammet. More than once. I also-- the second time, I thought everyone was playing a prank on me, so I threw him out of my office, and Leo ripped me a new one. And-- We had the same conversation, over and over, and you always left--"

"Yeah, that's right..." He nodded. "I was supposed to be going to Bermuda tonight..."

"You can't go to Bermuda with that woman." I told him suddenly, fiercely.

"Rhiannon? Well, no, not now. Josh--"

"Because, on one of the Thursdays, Donna told me-- She said Rhiannon Dupree was the biggest social climbing gold-digger in DC, and then-- then you came in to say you were going, and I told you, only, I didn't-- I just said it, you know, like I do, and you got mad, and you walked out. And then, the next Thursday-- one of the next Thursdays-- Rhiannon came to the White House-- I said you should have her drop by, because you still had to iron out some details--"

"We do still have to iron out some details." He said breathlessly.

"And I got her alone in your office while you were in your meeting, and I told her if she ever hurt you, I would kill her, and you didn't stop by again after you talked to her, and Toby said you were on your way to Bermuda, so I guess you took her side again, but Sam, you can't leave! You can't go with her, because I think-- I think maybe, I need you to not go to Bermuda."

He looked into my eyes-- it was scary, how exposed I felt, pinned by his gaze, by the blueness and the depth, and the sheer force-that-was-Sam.

"So I won't go to Bermuda."

"She doesn't love you." I said quickly. "I-- I'm sorry. But, I talked to her, and-- She doesn't love you." Like I do, I almost said. "I really am sorry, Sam, I never wanted you to get hurt."

"It's okay. I-- I didn't love her. Not really." He pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number. "Hey, Rhiannon?... Change of plans. I can't make it to Bermuda this weekend... No, it's not the White House, it-- Actually, I think I'm breaking up with you." And he hung up.

I think-- I *think*-- that I gazed at him in wonder.

"There." He said, as though that handled everything.

"Just like that...?"

He nodded. Maybe it did handle everything.

"You-- you've got a long weekend." I said, vaguely aware of my own idiocy. I'd just told him he couldn't go to Bermuda, hadn't I?

"I guess so. What about you?"

"I don't have a weekend." I shrugged.

"You should get one. Why don't we go somewhere else? Somewhere far away from Thursday?" One hand rubbed circles on my back. "Okay? Because-- because it's *not* going to be Thursday tomorrow. I believe you, Josh. It's completely insane, but I believe you. And I'm not going to let this thing go on. We-- we fixed it. Okay? I'm not going to Bermuda with her. It's fixed."

I looked down. "Maybe not fixed... Bill Murray-- got the girl..."

"You said there was no girl." He tilted my face up with one finger. "Josh? You holding out on me there, buddy? There a girl?"

"No. But-- there's... this guy. And I'm in love with him."

There was a very long pause, and I forced my eyes to meet his, forced them to show everything I was feeling. Watched the comprehension dawn in his, which in case I haven't mentioned lately, incredibly blue.

"Me?" He whispered.

"I really hope I'm not way off base, because another Thursday would be really unthinkable." I said, unable to quite keep my voice from wavering.

He crushed me to him in a full-on embrace. "Josh... you never said... if you could get that weekend? Because-- you could still take it. With me."

I pulled back to look him in the eyes, and we both started laughing, and I kissed him, and I was still crying, and laughing, and so was he, even as our lips met.

"Sure. Yes. Anything. We'll go wherever you want-- anywhere that's not Bermuda. I hear they found Amelia Earheart's body, anyway, so how fun could it possibly be?"

"Where did you hear that?"

"You." I shrugged. "A couple Thursdays ago."

He smiled at me, kissed me again, then held me, just held me, for a long moment. "Josh... I have been dreaming about this for a long time. I-- I always loved you. That's why I-- why I'm not going to Bermuda with Rhiannon. Because even before I knew you-- before I knew you felt the same, just you asking me to stay here with you was a better offer. Josh, all you ever had to do was ask, I-- I'd be anywhere with you. She was just-- they've always been just-- you know."

"Yeah. I know." I kissed the side of his neck. "I know."

---/-/---

I looked over at Sam, happiness building inside me, and reached over to stroke his face with one finger. He smiled back at me.

"Hey." He touched my cheek.

"Hey."

"We should probably go into work."

"If I meet Hammet tomorrow morning, I can probably get off until Tuesday too. I mean, I've got the days coming. And-- I'm not doing anything *that* important."

"No, just running the country." He laughed.

"You're more important than that." I let my eyes run as far down his body as they could before the sheet drawn up around our waists blocked the view.

He kissed me. "Good. I know this really nice place... just perfect for a romantic getaway. No one would even know we were there."

"I should call Donna... and Leo. And get my schedule rearranged. And-- Oh!" I sat bolt upright and grabbed the phone from my bedside, hitting one of my speed-dial numbers.

"CJ Cregg's office." CJ sighed. "I'm here."

"CJ, you know how you're supposed to be my first call?" I asked nervously, casting a look over to Sam. He nodded.

"Yeah. What's going on?"

"Well, I'm in love with Sam." I answered, no longer very nervous. We were in agreement on the come-out-to-CJ front, so things were going to be okay. "Also, he's in love with me. And, um, we plan on spending this upcoming weekend very in love with each other. Thought I'd give you the heads up."

"Hang on a minute-- You and Sam? As in Sam broke up with his girlfriend, and is now sleeping with you?"

"Yes."

She laughed. I wondered if maybe she thought I was pulling her leg or something. I wasn't, of course, because Sam was sleeping with me-- he was in my bed this very second.

"That's great! I mean, that's incredibly stupid, in a way that only the two of you could ever be, but it's-- I'm really happy for you. Even if it does make my job harder."

"You-- you're happy for us? I thought you said Sam and Rhiannon made a cute couple...?" I sputtered, confused by her easy-- in fact, enthusiastic-- acceptance.

"Not as cute as the two of you. I've always rooted for you two kids to get together."

I was kind of glad she couldn't see my jaw drop.

"Besides, Donna and Carol were gossiping out in front of my office a minute ago, and apparently Rhiannon Dupree is the biggest--"

"Social climbing gold-digger in DC." I finished for her. "So I've heard. It's a low down dirty shame, CJ. Why couldn't she just love him for his body like a decent human being?"

CJ snorted. "Josh, I've known you were in love with Sam probably before you did. Don't go telling me it's just for his body."

"I promise I love him for his mind." I said faux-innocently, grinning over at him. His eyes sparkled, and he laced his fingers with mine. "And for his soul... and for his--"

"He's right there, isn't he?" She sighed. "You're looking at him this very minute, aren't you?"

"Yup." I grinned, feeling very satisfied-- in several ways.

"Well *I* heard there was an emergency, and that you are not at the office. Also, from Toby, I hear that there was an emergency and that *Sam* is not at the office. It sounds like the two of you had better get your butts down here right now before your weekends are revoked."

"There was an emergency!" I balked. Sam grabbed the phone.

"It's true, CJ. There was an emergency. If there hadn't been an emergency, we wouldn't have-- you know. Wound up like this."

"Like what?" I heard her voice over the phone. Smirking, I bet.

"Aware of each other's feelings." He covered deftly. Smooth, good one. I would have probably said naked. "We think everything's okay now, and we'll be in soon. It should be-- the emergency should be over. Taken care of. Be there in a few."

"You'd better be." CJ said, as Sam passed the phone back to me. I hung it up.

We kissed again-- he tastes just awesome, deep and spicy and perfect. Then we headed towards a shower.

"Good thing you thought to hang up your suit before we--" I started.

"Yeah." He laughed. "It would be bad if I showed up looking like I'd just--"

I cut him off with another kiss, and we started the water running.

---/-/---

Epilogue

//Tell your boss you're sick
Hurry, get back in I'm getting cold
Get over here and warm my hands up, boy--//

I hit the alarm and rolled over to look at Sam. Donna had managed to schedule the meeting with Hammet for Thursday afternoon, meaning that I got to wake up on *Friday*--finally!-- spooned around my lover, and looking forward to a long weekend off.

Sam stirred, turning in my arms and wrapping his arms solidly around my waist. "Good morning."

"Morning." I mumbled back, kissing the top of his head as he snuggled down against my shoulder. "What's next?"

"Well... *I* paid for the tickets, so... I changed them... to *our* names... and we're flying out to the Hamptons this afternoon, to spend the weekend in a cabin near the harbor. We can go sai-- Or, if you want, we can just spend the whole weekend in bed." He smiled. "And no one will even know we're there."

"Even though we're flying out together." I said wryly.

"We could be flying out for a million reasons." He shrugged. "It could be for work. I didn't switch the tickets so much as I cancelled the Bermuda tickets and bought Hamptons tickets from a different airline. So that helps with the whole 'paper trail' issue. I kind of half-own the cabin, too, so it's not like I had to make arrangements there."

"Really?"

"It's nice. It's not really what you think of when you hear the word 'cabin'-- it's very not rustic, but it does have a great fireplace..."

"And a bearskin rug on a hardwood floor?" I teased.

"No bearskin." I should've figured Sam wouldn't want a dead bear weighting on his conscience. "The rugs are really fluffy, though. Good for bare feet, or fireside cuddling. Plenty of throw pillows on the couch that you can pull down onto the floor, too. And a nice, big bed..."

"How soon this afternoon?"

He chuckled. "Two-fifteen. And the shower has plenty of room... and two showerheads..."

"Mmm. Sam, make it two-fifteen. I want to be there right now, with your fireplace, and your bed, and your big shower."

"I can't make it two-fifteen." He chuckled.

"Why not? You made it Friday, didn't you?"

"And a beautiful view out of every window." He stroked my hair, moving back to his description of the cabin. "You'll love it. And you'll like the sailing, too! I mean, I know you're not big on sailing, but I promise, it's just so beautiful!"

I thought about how the ocean would look, with Sam's eyes. Pitifully dull, I decided, compared to his brilliant blue. Then I imagined how Sam's eyes would look with the ocean. Full of life, happy, vibrant. And the ocean breeze ruffling his short, dark hair... I pictured him in that soft, ice-blue sweater he has, with the polo kind of collar, that opens down past his throat, to just a little bit of his chest, even if he always wore a t-shirt under it, still...

"Sure. For you, I'll even go sailing." I smiled, my fingers playing over his shoulder. "I bet it's really beautiful."

~FIN~

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