Shades of Grey

Part 28

Thursday, 7:00pm

The traffic light offered Toby the opportunity to look across at his silent passenger. Sam was slumped in the front seat, his head down.

"You okay?"

No response.

The light turned green. Toby returned his attention to the road and stepped on the gas.

The remainder of the ride was just as quiet. It was driving Toby nuts. His conversations with Sam over the last four days hadn't been sparkling, but at least they'd talked. And to think, he'd found Sam's rambling annoying. He'd give anything at the moment to hear his deputy go off on a tangent.

CJ had given him a heads up that there was a problem, but he was beginning to think she had left out some of the finer details.

Toby pulled his Dart into a space only a block from his apartment and turned off the car. Sam didn't move.

"Coming?" Toby asked.

Sam raised his head and looked around as if suddenly realizing they had stopped. Without a word, he opened the passenger door and stepped out onto the curb.

What the hell had happened? As he entered his apartment building, Toby made a mental note to talk to Josh in the morning. Something had to be done. It probably wasn't his place to interfere, but he didn't care.

He paused before his door, separating the proper key on his key ring as he waited for Sam to catch up. His deputy was literally trudging down the hall. Toby shook his head. This was going to be a fun night.

He opened the door, touching the mezuzah on the doorframe as he stepped over the threshold. He was surprised when Sam entered behind him and headed for the couch before Toby managed to turn on the lights.

Something was definitely wrong.

He flipped the light switch beside the door and tossed his keys on the table below it. "Sam?"

"Toby, I just want to lay down for a little while."

He hung his coat in the closet. "Okay. I was going to watch the hockey game. Want the bed?"

"No, the couch is fine. The game won't bother me."

Sam's voice was a quiet monotone. The last time Toby had heard that tone was in the bar after the drop-in fiasco.

Oh yes. It was going to be a fun night.

Friday, January 19, 2001, 1:59am

Toby rolled over and looked at the clock on the nightstand. Oh God.

He'd been tossing and turning for the last three hours, but his over-active mind refused to let him sleep. He felt as though he had had at least six cups of coffee.

Sam had been quiet all night. Toby knew he should be thankful for small miracles, but the fact that the younger man had not even had a nightmare was somehow worrisome. They had become a regular occurrence. He had expected that they would at least become less intense before subsiding all together.

With a sigh of exasperation, Toby threw back the covers and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. Maybe a nightcap would help. He pulled on his sweatpants and sweatshirt and padded into the kitchen.

He emerged a few moments later with a bottle of beer, but stopped on his way back to the bedroom. Squinting into the darkness, Toby took a few steps into the living room. "Sam?"

The younger man was sitting up on the couch, the blanket wrapped around him. As Toby drew closer and his eyes adjusted, he could see that Sam was staring straight ahead, his face expressionless.

"Sam?" Toby repeated.

"I remember, Toby."

Toby set his beer down on the end table and sat on the couch. "Are you sure?"

Sam nodded. "I remember everything."

Toby pursed his lips. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. "Want to talk about it?" he asked quietly.

Sam was silent for a long time. So long, in fact, that Toby was getting a kink in his back from leaning as he was. He wondered if Sam had fallen asleep again. Toby glanced to his left. Sam hadn't moved.

"I thought they were going to kill me," he said finally, his voice catching on the word 'kill'.

Toby closed his eyes, recalling the gunshot and how he'd felt. "It's okay, Sam, you don't have to-"

"Rashid held a gun to my head. I could feel it, Toby, right in the back of my head. I couldn't move, couldn't breathe. I couldn't do anything."

"Why did he do that, Sam?" Toby was treading on thin ice, but he had to know.

"Josh..."

Here it comes.

"Josh thought he could talk Rashid out of the whole thing...He was so sure..."

"What happened?"

"I heard them yelling. Josh and Rashid. And then....They tied my hands, Toby. I-I tried...I couldn't fight all of them...I..." Sam choked on a sob. "They dragged me downstairs and put a gun to my head and Josh..."

Toby sat up and shifted to face him. "You blame Josh for what happened?"

Sam looked at him then, his eyes wide. "No!" His gaze diverted. "I mean...I did...at first. But...I was so...terrified. I don't know. I said things...things I....

"I did blame him, Toby. When that gun went off...and I realized...All I could think was, 'Damn you, Josh, I can't believe you did this to me.' But then...the raid started. And I heard all that gunfire and Josh had just left the room. He was out there...I was going to lose my best friend and the last thing I said to him was 'go away'."

"Sam, why didn't you talk to him?"

"I don't know. I was scared. I had this...jumble of thoughts and feelings, but no memories to go with them. I just knew something terrible had happened..."

Sam looked at him again, and the dim glow of the kitchen night-light glistened in a tear track on his cheek. "Does he know about Rashid?"

Toby nodded. "Ron told him."

"I saw the whole thing."

"I know, Sam." Toby didn't want him to remember that particular nightmare.

"The guy with the semi-automatic. He killed Rashid."

Toby's eyebrows drew together. "What?"

Sam sat very still, his eyes focused on the hand clutching the edges of the blanket together. "When Rashid came into the room, I was sure he was going to kill me. So sure. He said, 'It's over'. I thought I was going to die." Sam's head lifted. "Oh, God."

"What is it?"

Sam shook his head. "My God, Toby, his gun wasn't even pointed at me. And then-" His voice caught in his throat as he remembered the events that followed. He looked up at Toby, his eyes wide. "Josh was right. He was right and I-I gotta go talk to him." He stood up, letting the blanket drop to the couch. He was still fully clothed.

"Sam, it's after two in the morning!"

"Toby, I need to borrow your car."

"Did you hear what I just said? And you can't drive!"

"I'm fine to drive. I just have to use one hand."

"Sam, sit down."

"Toby-"

"Sit down!"

Sam returned to his place on the couch and covered his face with his good hand.

Toby laid a hand on his back. "Look, you can talk to him in the morning. At the office. Okay?" He waited for a response but there was none. "I'll get you something to drink." He waited another moment, then stood and padded into the kitchen. Sam seemed to be on a collision course with an emotional freight train. He'd have to keep a close eye-

Was that the front door...?

"Sam?" Toby turned and bolted back into the living room. "Sam?!"

His deputy was not in the room. On a hunch, Toby hurried toward the door. The bolt was unlocked. And his keys were gone. Damn.

You ruin my car, Sam, and I'm garnishing your wages.

Toby bolted the door, and headed back to his bedroom. Sam wouldn't be back tonight.

But if he forgets to pick me up in the morning...

Shades of Grey - 29

 

 

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