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Might As Well Be On Mars

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"You know, the person running this place is a distant relative of mine."

"I didn't know that," Rahm says easily, making the point she's just scored an empty one. Nancy will still take it, of course; when it comes to Rahm, one takes every point one can get. "Pizzas." He makes a show of looking around. "Nice."

"There are also other things than pizzas on the menu, Rahm." On second thought, perhaps the point really is invalid; if Rahm had known about the 'Uncle Gino' from Uncle Gino's being her great-uncle (although his name is actually Marco), the point would have been his, but as it is - well, Nancy tries to reveal as little personal information about herself as possible.

From that point of view, possibly, she's just given away a point to Rahm. He's going to remember the connection, she knows - one evening when she's been working late, years from now or perhaps next month, she's going to get a pizza delivered to her, courtesy of Rahm. If she really messes up, it might even have a topping she particularly likes - or dislikes, given that it's Rahm.

"I'd noticed, Nancy."

Honestly, she doesn't know why she keeps doing things like this to herself. She never comes out on top or ahead - and the knowledge that Rahm doesn't either, exactly, is only a small comfort, because Rahm is one of those people who keep smiling (well, showing his teeth) even when he hasn't won.

"How are Amy and the kids?" She'll have the pasta, she decides. It's safest.

"Amy's great." A flash of teeth as Rahm pointedly doesn't mention Robert. "The kids have decided they want to get a pony." Rahm sounds like any fond parent now. He's slouching a little, and smiling.

Two cups of coffee arrive - hers is decaf, his isn't. "And will they get one?"

"Of course not." Rahm sips his coffee and grins. "If we get them a pony now, next week they'll want - oh, I don't know, an elephant, maybe. You know how kids are."

Nancy smiles, because she does.

"We might get them a puppy, if they're good."

"They'll probably be happier with that than a pony," she comments. "Ponies are overrated." There's no double meaning behind the words, but she sees Rahm unslouch a little, eyes sharp and alert, as if he can read from her face when she's trying to score a point without his noticing.

He should know better.

A waiter arrives to take their orders - Rahm smirks as she orders the pasta, as if it's telling him something about her, and she offers him a bland smile in return as he orders a small pizza and a salad.

"Stephen Colbert thinks he's being stalked by one," Rahm says casually, slouching a little again.

"One what?" She has the respect for Stephen due a master of his trade (which is 'being entertaining, good at playing a crowd and occasionally funny', in Nancy's opinion, far more than 'journalism') but she doen't share Rahm's apparent fondness for him. Stephen makes her feel old, in a way Rahm never does.

"A pony. Well, a white horse, really, but close enough." Rahm sighs and stares at his coffee. "He claims it's invisible and has got blue eyes. True-democrat-blue eyes."

"Like Anderson." Although nobody ever referred to the colour of Anderson's eyes by that term, of course. Anderson's eyes were just ... Anderson's eyes.

"Few days ago, around two in the morning, he calls me to tell me he's being stalked by this invisible white horse and do I think it will go away if he feeds it a sugarcube?" Rahm shakes his head and continues to not look at her. "What the fuck am I supposed to say to that?"

"Yes?" Nancy suggests.

Rahm looks up, startled for a moment, or acting like he is. "You would, wouldn't you?"

Nancy shrugs.

"You're - " Rahm shakes his head. Nancy's not surprised he leave it to her to fill in the last word of that sentence. "I told him to take a cab and go home. I thought he was just drunk. As it turns out, he was drunk, but he still saw the horse when he was sober. And the really fucked-up part is that it makes him happy. He wants to believe it's real."

Nancy says nothing. It's not like Rahm to be this ... open with her. This vulnerable. They have lunch together several times a week, and she knows people talk as people will, but she's neither Rahm's confidante nor his friend. On some days, they're allies; on most days, they're equals.

"I can't stand to see him like this."

"Rahm ... "

"This," Rahm tells her with a grin, "is where you offer to help and I tell you about this bill the President would like to get passed without too much of your usual fussing over the wording."

"I don't fuss, Rahm, and you know as well as I do that wording is as important as contents. As to these ... fantasies you apparently have about me: I'm not sure whether to be flattered or insulted." She's half-relieved and half-annoyed, actually.

"All right, so this is where you tell me I'm a horrible actor and ask me to please tell you what I want so that I won't feel obliged to expose you to more of my bad acting."

Nancy shakes her head, amused in spite of herself - and in spite of knowing Rahm's probably doing it on purpose. "Yet another fantasy. Honestly, Rahm, whatever happened to presenting me with some good, solid arguments?"

"It's never worked before, so I thought I'd try something new," Rahm says.

" 'Because I fucking say so' is not generally considered a convincing argument."

Rahm opens his mouth.

"Although I'm sure it's worked for you several times," Nancy adds.

"More often than that, actually." Rahm lacks the grace to look even slightly embarrassed.

"As long as you don't expect it to ever convince me, I'm perfectly fine with you making as many enemies as you want."

Rahm laughs. The waiter arrives with their food and Nancy can practically read his thoughts from his expression when he looks at the two of them, Rahm laughing and her still smiling faintly.

They're both wearing wedding-bands so she supposes it's a reasonable enough assumption to make that they're married (which they are, of course, just not to each other).

"If you ever made it easy for me, I'd be worried," he says, once the waiter has wished them buon appetite and left.

She hesitates, then decides that if Rahm can joke about a change in tactics and bad acting, she can do the same. "You know that if you ever really need my help, you can - "

" - rely on you to laugh at me in my face, then stick a knife in my back and kick me while I'm down? Yes, I know that. I'd do the same for you."

"You're such a charmer."

"I am, actually." Rahm looks at his salad for a moment, then starts cutting his pizza. "Or so my wife tells me, and I'm sure she'd know."

"Mmm." The pasta is perfect.

"Of course, she also habitually calls me an idiot."

Nancy nods. Rahm cautiously tastes his pizza, then continues eating.