***********************
Shades of Grey
Part 22


Josh signed the last form then put the pen down. It was a good thing Donna was still with him - she'd had to read most of the form to him. Although his eyes felt better, they were still too blurry for the fine print.

Well, that was done. Now what?

All he could do was wait.

"All set?" Donna asked.

Josh turned and glanced down the corridor of emergency rooms, then at the door leading to the waiting room. Once he stepped through that door he was no longer a patient. Once he stepped through that door, he wouldn't be able to get back in until the doctor came to get them.

"Uh..." He looked at her. "Give me a minute, okay?"

Her brows drew together for a moment, and then the look softened. She stroked his arm. "All right."

Josh smiled his thanks, grateful she understood.

Donna took his hand and gave it a squeeze. She backed up several steps until she was holding him at arms length then turned and let go.

He watched until she was through the door, then he started down the hall.

He had to find Sam.

 

Everything was a blur. There was a lot of white. And faces. Too many faces. He didn't recognize any of the faces. Who were these people? What did they want?

They had stopped moving. Every time they stopped moving they hurt him again.

God, it hurt. He was tired of hurting.

He was so tired.

"What's your name? Can you tell me your name?"

A new voice. He hadn't heard that man's voice before.

What? My name? My name...

"S-Sam Seaborn."

"Good. I'm Dr. Wu. How old are you, Sam?"

"Thirty...thirty-two."

"Who do you work for?"

Who do I work for? Toby. Where's Toby? Toby, help me, please.

"Who do you work for, Sam?"

"The...President."

"Who is the President, Sam?"

You don't know? Jeez. "B-Bartlet."

A harsh light drilled into his eyes, but squinting hurt worse. He turned his head away.

"Hold still, Sam. I need you to hold still."

Hands took hold of his head, and turned it slowly face up again. Fingers probed a delicate area of his scalp and he gasped.

Please stop. Please...

"Peg, hold his head still."

No! Leave me alone!

"Sam? I need you to hold still. You need some stitches here. Can you hold still for me?"

Stitches. Doctor. A hospital? Why am I in a hospital?

He nodded, trying to focus on the doctor's face.

Something cold brushed over the area the doctor had just probed. The pain began to fade.

He concentrated on the noises around him; drawers opening and closing, the rattle of a cart, the clank of metal. There was beeping too, a soft beeping that lulled him with its steady rhythm.

Why was he in a hospital? He didn't remember an accident or anything. He remembered being at work, and... Josh. Something to do with Josh. His stomach flipped at the thought, but he didn't understand why.

Toby would know what happened. He needed...

There was a tug near his scalp, then another.

"You okay, Sam?"

"Toby."

"Who's Toby?"

My boss. My... "Friend."

"We'll find him for you, Sam. Just relax."

Relax. Right.

Another tug.

The light was warm. It felt good.

Tug.

He was tired. So tired...

 

If he just closed his eyes for a moment. Only a moment...

No. If he closed his eyes, he wasn't sure he would be able to open them again. Right now, the wall was the only thing keeping him on his feet. He lifted his head from where it rested against the cool white surface, then let it drop back. The impact did wonders for the ache already pounding behind his eyes.

He needed to know Sam was okay. Once he knew that he could relax. But not until—

Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement in the doorway to his left. Josh pulled his hands from his pockets and used them to push off the wall. The doctor left Sam's room and headed down the hall. A burst of energy got Josh into the room.

A nurse adjusted the drip on Sam's IV, and then turned. She stopped when she saw him standing just inside the doorway. "Toby?" she asked in a hushed voice.

Caught off-guard, Josh turned and glanced around, thinking maybe the Communications Director had come in behind him. There was no one there. He turned back to the nurse. "Uh, no. I'm Josh."

"Oh, I'm sorry," she said. "Mr. Seaborn asked for Toby, so I just assumed—"

"He asked for Toby?"

She nodded. "When Dr. Wu was putting in his stitches. Then he fell asleep."

He asked for Toby, not me.

"Can I help you?"

"I just-I came in with Sam." Josh took a breath. His chest tight and his stomach in knots, he continued, "Nobody's told me anything. I needed to know he was okay."

"I believe Dr. Powell went to the waiting room to give you an update."

Josh took a few steps closer to Sam. "I'll just wait here until he comes back."

"If he wakes up, try to keep him still."

He nodded, watching her leave the room. Once she was gone, he turned back to Sam and stepped up beside the table.

There was still some blood in Sam's ear, and some in his hair. His head was turned away, giving Josh a good view of the cut. It looked so small. How could something so small bleed so much? The memory alone was enough to make him shudder.

Clearing the image from his mind, Josh took comfort in the steady rise and fall of his best friend's chest. The IV pole held two bags, both of which contained clear liquid. Sam's wrists were bandaged, and his left arm was in a sling. Several ice packs lay on his shoulder.

Just what Sam needed - something else to make him cold.

He reached out, paused, reached a little farther, until finally his hand made contact with Sam's right arm. Still cold. He thought he felt a shiver.

"Sam?" he said softly.

There was no response. Josh wanted to tighten his grip on Sam's arm, but thought better of the idea. He really had no clue what injuries Sam had sustained in his tumble down the stairs, let alone what was done to him at the hands of Gabir.

Did I do this? Is this my fault?

He asked for Toby.

"Josh."

He started at Toby's voice and turned toward the door. The Communications Director motioned with his hand for him to come to the door. With a final look at Sam, Josh joined Toby at the door.

"Uh, listen," Toby said, "Dr. Powell said Sam needs to stay here overnight for observation."

"He's not gonna like that."

"Tell me about it." Toby sighed, scratching his forehead with a finger. "Look, I think you should go home. You look like you're ready to collapse."

"But Sam—"

"I'm staying. He'll be fine."

"Toby—"

"Donna's waiting for you. She's going to drive you home."

Home. Home would be good.

Toby clapped his arm and stepped around him. "Go home, Josh."

Josh slipped his hands into his pockets and watched as Toby approached the gurney.

"Before I go, maybe I should—"

Toby turned to him. "Josh...just go."

His breath caught. He'd heard those words before...Oh God. Sam had said that.

The words stabbed into his gut like a knife. He could still hear the hurt in his friend's voice. He took a few steps backward.

"Toby?"

The softly spoken words stopped him in his tracks. Sam was awake?

"Hey, kiddo,"

Josh turned and walked away.

 

Shades of Grey - 23

 

 

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