"Sam's blind? Are you sure, Mara?" exclaimed CJ.
"You know how bright that room is. Sam asked me why it was so dark in there. He felt his bandages and thought that's why he couldn't see. I may not have my shingle, but that sounds like he can't see to me."
"Maybe it's just temporary."
"I hope so. I love him no matter what, but I don't know how he's going to cope if it's permanent."
"I agree. He's always either reading or writing. So no, he won't take this very well."
"No, he won't. I guess it was too much to hope for... That he'd wake up and be perfectly fine."
"Mara! What's wrong?" Abbey asked, rushing up to them.
"The Doctor's in with him now. Abbey, Sam can't see.
"I'll go see what's going on."
Mara closed her eyes and sighed deeply. She was grateful that Sam was awake, but she didn't know if she could endure another round of emotional Russian Roulette. She was all too aware that she would have completely cracked if Sam had not woken up.
Abbey came out of Sam's room a few minutes later, shaking her head. She smiled weakly at Mara who knew instantly that he was really blind. She made up her mind that moment to treat Sam as she always did. Mara had a friend at McGill who was deaf and she had explained to Mara that she didn't consider herself handicapped, just inconvenienced. Mara was determined that Sam wouldn't be given the chance to define himself as handicapped or disabled.
"Mara, they are going to take Sam down for another MRI and Catscan in about an hour. Got in in. He's asking for you and only you."
"Ceeg went to get a coffee. Will you tell her?"
"Of course, Sweetie. All we know right now is that Sam can't see right now. The tests will tell us more. Nurse Fisher is going to give Sam a light sedative to help keep him calm."
"How freaked out is he, Abbey?"
"I don't know, Mara. This is Sam, not you. He's keeping it all inside."
"Not for long. If I have to be an open book, I'll force him to be one too," she replied matter of factly.
"Mara, be gentle. He won't want pity, but I'm sure he'll want sympathy."
"Abbey, I don't know if I can do this," Mara said quietly.
"Mara, do you still love Sam with all your heart? Do you still want to marry him? Have his children and grow old with him?"
"Of course I do. I love Sam more than I want my next breath."
"Then you have absolutely nothing to worry about. You'll muddle though," Abbey added with a smile.
"Muddle? That's all I get muddle? "
Abbey's smile grew at the look on Mara's face.
"Yeah, that's what you get. I've never dealt with blindness nor have you, so we'll all be muddling through this, making mistakes at every turn, but Sam will forgive us because he knows how much we love him."
"Abbey, I have to say that that was not one of your best pep talks. I suggest you work on one while I'm in there," Mara remarked, kissing her on the cheek before making her way back to Sam's room.
She carefully swung the door open, and stepped inside. She noticed the needle being pulled out of Sam's IV and pointed at her watch. Nurse Fisher flashed her hands showing twenty minutes until the sedative took effective.
"Sam, I'll go get you some nice warm tea to help soothe that throat. Mara, would you like a cup?"
Mara took advantage of the rails being down and gingerly sat on the edge of his bed. Tedzy was still by his side and she could see that Sam was cuddling him.
"Your Doctor asked me to stay outside, but see, I came back as soon as I could. I meant it Sam, I'll never leave you."
Sam just seemed to be staring off in to space with his tired eyes and not even acknowledging her. Patience was not a virtue Mara possessed, but for Sam, she'd try .
"You scared us half to death, Sam. I know that I promised you no more 'what ifs', but damn, did you have to give me such a hard test?" she said, a touch a humor in her voice, trying to cut throw the tension between them.
Still no response.
"Are you in any pain, Sam?"
She leaned over and was about to leave a soft kiss on his lips when Sam turned his head away from her. Her impatience getting the best of her, she wanted to slap him, but she decided to get a rise out of him instead.
"Fine, be like that. It's not like I've slept in here every night, cried my eyes out, prayed so much that I wondered if God just tuned me out! No, that's OK Sam, just totally ignore me. If you want to be alone, in the dark, be my guest. I haven't slept more than twenty hours the last week, so if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go home and sleep. When you finally feel like talking, get someone to call me. I'll leave the machine on."
She got off the bed, pushed the door open and was about to walk out when he finally spoke up.
"No what, Sam? No, you don't want me to leave? No, you don't want me to sleep? "
Sam could tell that she was still standing with the door open. He was angry, scared and confused all at once. He could hear the anger, the frustration and the exhaustion in her voice and could imagine the looks he was getting during her mini-tirade. The only thing he knew for certain was that if he let her walk out that door, she wouldn't be coming back for a long time.
"Then talk to me. I know it probably hurts to talk, but I'm not asking you to debate me, Sam. Just talk to me. Let me in, Sweetie. Please, Sam. I'm hurting here to. If you hurt, I hurt."
"I... can't see."
He heard the door close, then felt the bed dip ever so slightly. He heard and felt her slow sigh as it blew over his lips.
"I know. They're going to do more tests to see why. You hit your head really hard, and there's still some swelling on your brain. You broke your ankle. They had to inserted a pin to stabilize it. You badly bruised a few ribs too."
"Ribs don't hurt much, can't feel ankle."
"That's good. They have you on the good stuff for pain."
"Where you out? A week. Do you remember anything?"
"Oh God! Dani!"
"She's perfectly fine. She just had a tiny bruise on her hip that is probably gone by now."
"I pushed her, then I slipped. That's all I remember."
"You cracked your head open on the curb. Dani thought you were going to bled to death. You lost a fair amount of blood. The driver lost control of his car on the ice. He wanted you to know how sorry he."
"Not his fault."
"No, it's Dani's fault for not taking 'no' for an answer and yours for leaving me."
"Mad at me?"
"Yes, but I'll get over it. I couldn't get a hold of your parents or sister though."
"Hmmm", Sam mumbled, not seeming to care much about the fact that his family couldn't be reached. "I'm blind Mara," he then said, still trying to come to terms with reality, his mind still trapped in a haze.
"I know. For the time being, I'm afraid you are. I just yelled at Abbey for her not so inspired words of wisdom, but she's right, we'll muddle through this." Mara stroked his face lovingly.
"My life as I know it is over."
"Samuel Norman Seaborn, your life is far from over! Your vision is impaired, otherwise, you're the same man who asked me to marry him. The same man I love with all my heart. The man I intend to marry! How does early May sound to you?"
"I think we should put it off."
"You don't want to marry me?" Mara asked, trying very hard to keep her emotions in check.
Sam heard her voice almost crack and knew what she must be thinking. "Mara, I want to marry you. There's nothing more I want. I just think you need more time to think about this. You're running on pure emotion right now. You need to take a good look at what life with a blind man really would be like. I'd be more of a burden than a husband."
"Sam, stop talking like that! I didn't just fall in love with your body, I fell in love with you. I fell in love with what makes you you. I could care less if you were paralyzed, deaf and mute. Okay, so deaf and mute would be hard, but I still wouldn't care. While I love the package Sam, it's the gift inside; your heart, your soul and that incredible mind that I'm hopelessly, madly in love with. So how does early May sound?"
"Mara, you aren't listening to me..."
"I am, Sam. I'm just ignoring you because you're talking like an idiot. Now, that's the last I want to hear of this crap."
"Mara!" Sam said louder, having to force his weak throat.
"Sam, I swear I'm out of here if you don't drop this now."
"Fine, but we'll finish this later."
"No, we won't! You know, CJ's here. You should have seen her face light up when I told her you were awake."
"But she's suppose to be with her parents."
"She wasn't going anywhere while you were in a coma. Toby came back the second he heard. So did Donna."
"I ruined everyone's holidays."
"Uhuh, but we love you so much that we forgave you instantly," she said with a giggle. "Someone was always with you, keeping an eye on you. Abbey forced me to leave for five hours every morning, but she stayed with you or Donna and Josh did." A soft smile made its way to Sam's lips, as his eyes became more and more heavier.
"I think I'm a little tired now," he said softly, realizing that there was no use fighting the fatigue that gripped him.
"I'm not so sure I want you to ever sleep again."
"I'm sorry I scared you."
"Sam, you have no idea.... I just...."
"I know... I feel the same way."
"Promise me you'll wake up."
"Promise." Mara sat back down on the bed, gently kissing his forehead and eyes.
"Then sweet dreams, my sweet."
"Mar, I wish we were at home," he mumbled as sleep overtook him.
"Me too, Sam. Now go to sleep."
By the time the nurse made it back with the tea, Sam was snoring softly and Mara drank both cups. They'd decided to let Sam sleep and take him down for further testing once he woke up. CJ poked her head in the room, and entered quietly as she saw Sam sleeping.
"How is he?" she whispered.
"Tired and grating on my last nerve."
"He thinks his life is over. He thinks he's going to be a burden, not a husband. Ceeg, I wanted to smack some sense in to him. It's stupid talk and I have no patience for it."
"Mar, he's scared, he's upset and he's just woken up to a bombshell. You've got to give him time to adjust to all of this."
"CJ, I haven't even had time to adjust to this! I'm not exactly equipped to handle this. For God's sake, I've had twenty hours of sleep total since Christmas morning! I have no more patience and I swear if he tries to tell me he's a burden again, I'm going to break his other leg! I've hit him once already, so I know I'm capable of it."
"You hit him?" CJ exclaimed rather loudly.
"I whacked his arm New Year's Eve. I got so mad and I lashed out. I felt awful and left the room right away, but I flew into a rage in the waiting room. Margaret came along and saved me from myself."
"The bating cage?" CJ asked, relieved that Mara didn't really hurt Sam. She also finally figured out where the silver dollar sized bruise on his arm came from.
"Uhuh. CJ, I promised him I wouldn't leave, but right this minute, I feel like I'll either keep my promise or loose my sanity."
"Mara, go home. Sam's out of the woods. Go curl up in your bed, not the couch. You said it yourself that you've only had 20 hours sleep since this all started. You need to sleep. Things will look a lot better after you've had a good long nap. You should get a sleeping pill off of Sam's doctor and take it the second you walk in the door. I'll stay with."
"You know I'm wiped when I'm willing to go without a second thought." Mara bent over and left a soft kiss on Sam's forehead. "Tell him I love him and I'm sorry, but I know he'll forgive me."
"I will. Abbey 's still hanging around, I'm sure she'll bring you home."
"Yeah, Ceeg. Thanks, for everything."
"Anytime, hon. Now get! I'll take good care of Spanky."
Mara found Abbey and was fast asleep before the limo pulled away from GW. Abbey decided to bring her back to the residence so she could keep her eye on her. Mara was still sleeping like a log when the car pulled up to the private entrance. Abbey had James carry Mara up to Zoey's room and went in search of Josh and Leo. She found Margaret and Donna in Sam's office and herded them towards Leo's office where Josh and Leo were watching a football game.
"Josh, sit. Actually, why don't you all have a seat."
"When can we go see Sam?" Donna asked.
"Maybe later today if he's feeling up to it?" Abbey replied cautiously.
Leo knew something was wrong. "Were there any complications, Abbey?"
"Yeah. Sam's lost his vision and......"
"Sam's blind?" Josh asked, hoping he misunderstood the First Lady.
"I'm afraid so. He'll be undergoing further testing, but right now, we can't say if it's temporary or permanent."
"The doctors had said that his brain was a little swollen a few days ago. When the swelling subsides couldn't...."
"That's what we'd be hoping for Donna."
"So how can we help?" Donna asked.
Abbey and Leo smiled warmly at Donna. Her concern and compassion for them all never ceased to impress. Donna took the silence as a chance to throw out suggestions.
"Well we should look into ways of making Sam's life easier when he gets back to work. Raised letters on his keyboard, a program to decpher his typing. I know who Hisg Kunab is would anyone else?"
"Josh how many times do I have to tell you to visual check your finger placement?" Margaret asked with a grin.
"Hey I slip back fast enough. " Josh replied quickly, convinced that Margaret and Donna were worrying about Sam for nothing.
He knew that he'd warned Mara not to be too optamistic when Sam was taken off the Ventalator but he was convinced that Sam's vision would return any day now. He wouldn't allow himself to think that his best freind could be permanently blind.
Josh was brought back to the present by Leo's question.
"So Abbey when can we expect Sam to be back?"
"Best case, late February. For normal people it would be early March, but since we all know that Sam is an overachiever, I'd say late February. I'll give him the final medical clearance. I'll know better than his doctor if Sam's ready. We need to give Sam support without smothering him or making him feel like a child."
"How's Mara handling this?" Margaret asked.
"She's not. Mara is physically and emotionally exhausted. CJ sent her home to rest. I brought her up to the residence. She was out like a light the second she leaned her head on my shoulder in the car. I'm hoping she'll sleep till the morning."
"I'll go feed Killer then. I'll see you later, Ma'am. Josh?"
"Yeah, go Donna. I'll see you in the morning."
"Yeah Margaret, you can go with her."
Abbey waited for Donna and Margaret to leave and looked over at the guys.
"OK what's on your minds?"
"How's Sam handling this?"
"I'd have to say as well as one could expect given the situation. Just put yourself in his shoes."
"I'd be freaked out, scared, frustrated, wondering why me."
"That's a perfectly normal reaction, Josh. I'm sure he's feeling like that too, but he wouldn't say anything to me. He just wanted Mara."
"CJ is with him now. She'll get him to talk. Well, he won't have a choice since Mara is in no shape to help at the moment. I'll drop by around dinner time to see him."
"I think that's a good idea. I think everyone should drop by, even if it's just to say hi. Sam has to know that we all love him and we are going to be here for him every step of the way. He knows it in his heart, but I think proof wouldn't hurt. I'm going to bring Jed back with me so I can stay with Sam during his tests."
"That's very kind of you, Abbey. Maybe I'll go over with you Josh," Leo remarked.
"Sam's one of my boys, so are you Josh."
"Thanks Ma'am, I'll try very hard not to cause anymore bodily harm to myself."
"See that you succeed, Joshua. I'm going to check on Mara. Josh, would you call Toby and fill him in?"
"I'll walk you over Abbey."
"Sam, Sam, my sunshine man."
Sam heard his name and realized CJ was with him. He kept his eyes closed, curious to hear what CJ was going to say.
"You'll never know just how happy I am that you're back, Spanky. Gail and I were not looking forward to finding a new job. Not that I'd even want to work had you died but..... Oh, just thank God that you didn't. You're going to have to lighten up on Mara, Sweetie. She's a nervous breakdown waiting to happen. You know, you actually had it pretty easy in that coma. You didn't have to watch Mara die a little bit every morning you didn't wake up. Even now, you can't see how dull those emerald eyes are. You thought she was pale before? I swear her skin was starting to become translucent. She finally forgave Dani at least. She was a wreck too and no matter what Toby and I said, she still blamed herself. The poor kid is leaving in the morning and this blindness better be a temporary thing or I don't think she'll ever forgive herself, Sam. Speaking of Tobs, he was worried sick about his sidekick. He loves you, Sam. Not that he'd ever admit it! You'd think being blind would buy you some sympathy right? Don't count on it with Toby. The truly scary thing is that Josh and Mara are not only getting along, but it's evident they now like each other. I'm actually proud of Josh, he was a rock for Mara. He took amazing care of her, but I'm sure he's thrilled that you can take your job back. I love her dearly Sam, she's the sister I never had, but how you can sleep with her every night and not want to smother her with a pillow is beyond me. Strange as it may seem, she's a big hit with the nursing staff. The technicians don't like her calling them 'Vampires' though. I think your Doc is scared of her and Abbey. Spanky, this won't be easy I know, but Mara's right: you can't let blindness define who you are. The Samuel Norman Seaborn I know and love is a sweet, brilliant, bumbling, caring man with a heart of gold and an awe inspiring strength of convictions. Sam, no matter how many times we shout you down, you keep coming back. You're our moral compass and we'd all be lost without you. I think I should shut up now and try to remember most of this for when you are awake to hear me."
"I love you too, Claudia Jean," Sam said quietly
"You little rat!" CJ responded, then started laughing.
She leaned over and gave him a tender kiss on his forehead. "You scared the hell out of us, young man!"
"So I hear. Sorry, I wasn't doing on purpose."
"Next time, Sam, resist the urge to push a lady to the ground, would ya?"
"Sorry, no can do. I'd push you down again if I had to."
"Sam, stop it before I start to cry! How's your throat?"
"Sore. I fell asleep before I got my tea. Where's Mar?"
"Hopefully out like a light. She wanted me to tell you she loved you and she's sorry she had to leave. I ordered her out Sam and she's so wiped she didn't even argue."
"She mentioned that she was tired. Sleep is what she needs, maybe she'll think clearer in the morning."
"Sam, if you're referring to picking a wedding date, all the sleep in the world won't change her mind. She loves you, and she knows that the next little while will be frustrating for you both, but she doesn't care. I bet she comes in here talking about the menu in the morning. Don't fight her on this, Sam. You know, if I were you, I'd be so awe struck that she wants to marry you sooner rather than later, that I'd be over the moon! When the going gets tough, so many people run and Mara is doing the opposite. Trust in her love, Sam."
"She's got a point buddy," Josh said from the door.
"I'll yell at you later, when you're feeling better. I'd be clinging to the constants in my life. My friends and the undying love of a raving lunatic, fire breathing dragon."
"She got to you didn't she?" Sam asked with a smirk.
"No. Bu, tried to infect me with her germs, but I'm resistant to her."
"Not!" CJ laughed.
"I knew the two of you would warm up to each other eventually. Where's Donna?" Sam asked with a yawn.
"Feeding Killer. I'm sure she'll be by later. You know, if I didn't know better, I'd be awfully jealous of the amount of time she spent with you."
"Donna always...liked me best." Sam yawned.
"Sorry Sam, I think that we should let you get some sleep. We'll get going."
"Just make sure you wake up this time," Josh added.
"Thanks CJ. Josh, can you stay for a minute?"
CJ got up and left another soft kiss on Sam's forehead. She was going to wait outside until Josh left. She wasn't going to break her promise to stay with him while Mara slept.
"So what's up, buddy?" Josh asked.
"Thank you for taking care of Mara."
"You're welcome. It wasn't easy you know. How you can love her so much is beyond me, but it wasn't that bad. I never realized Dragon's drooled."
A smile broke across Sam's face and he started to laugh until his ribs started to hurt. He rubbed against them and grimaced slightly.
"I remember that feeling. Take it easy, Sam."
"She drooled on you?"
"All over me and she told me I should be flattered that she did so."
"She only drools when she'd in a good deep sleep. Thanks for that too."
"She owes me a shirt. I'm going to need your help with a secret operation when you get out of here."
"Josh?" Sam asked with a tint of dread.
"It's good, Sam. It's Operation 'Donnatella'."
"I take it that you've finally admitted....."
"Yeah. Mara called me on it in my bedroom. Well, she ambushed me really. I was still half asleep."
"She's good at that. I think that's why she won't speak to me first thing in the morning. She doesn't want me to catch her with her own trick. You want to pull a Cyrano? I think Donna is too smart to buy it."
"That's what Bu said. I need you as a sounding board and to give me pointers."
"Josh, I write well, but until Mara came along, my track record with being romantic was pretty pathetic. I was almost as bad as you"
"Don't think just because you can't see I won't beat you into a bloody pulp."
"You and what Army?"
"Go to sleep Sam. We've got plenty of time to work on my speech. Sam?"
"Thanks for not leaving me." Josh leaned over and as best he could gave Sam a hug.
"Should I leave you two alone?" Donna chuckled.
"Please Donna, I'm trying to get rid of him," Sam replied with a grin.
"Oh, can you just feel the love? See you later, Sam." Josh stuck his tongue out at Donna and left the room.
Donna was still standing at the door watching the smile on Sam's face, trying desperately not to cry. She hadn't felt this overwhelmed since Josh woke up after his life saving surgery. His colour had improved, but he still looked pale and frail. Sam heard the tiny sniffle and felt awful. He'd inadvertently put his family through hell.
"Donna, I'm going to be fine."
"Oh Sam, I just....." Donna hurried over and threw her arms around Sam.
Sam slowly and gingerly moved his arms upward to embrace her. "Oh, Donna." He whispered as he felt her tears drop to his shoulder. "I love you too."
It took Donna a few minutes to compose herself and she slowly withdrew from the embrace, leaving a sweet kiss on Sam's forehead.
"You scared the living daylights out of me!"
"Sorry just doesn't cut it, Sam. You're going to owe me."
"Okay, you're scaring me."
"Good, I like holding the fear card. How are you feeling?"
"Tired and a little sore."
"So, can you see anything or is it just totally black?"
"More like a darkish gray. I can see a slightly darker blob which judging from the direction of your voice I assume is you."
"You sure know how to flatter a girl, Seaborn," Donna chuckled.
"Just part of my charm."
"I missed you, Sam. I wanted you to see how thrilled and proud I was to sign off my first e-mail as Co-Director of PEI."
"It must have felt great."
"For two seconds, until I wished you could be there to witness it. It's no fun being important without you, Sam."
"Thanks. Will you stay until I fall asleep?"
Donna moved her chair right beside his bed and took his hand in to hers. "I'm not going anywhere, Sam. Sweet dreams."
Mara woke up with a start and wondered where the hell she was. She could tell it was morning, but the window didn't look familiar. She turned to her left and met Jed's eyes.
"Good morning, Brat."
"Jed, ya wanna clue me in as to where I am?"
"Zoey's room in the residence. I hear you were sleeping like a log in the car, so Abbey had you brought here."
"What time is it?"
"So you're telling me that the President of the United Sates of America has nothing better to do at 10 am other than watching me sleep?"
"Well my staff was throwing a Leadership Breakfast without me, so I wondered just how long it would take one of them to notice I wasn't in the Oval."
"And you've been up here how long?"
"I'd be worried if I were you. Margaret can forge your signature."
"So I hear. How are you feeling?"
"Still rather tired," she said with a yawn.
"Think if I shut up, you can roll over and go back to sleep?"
"Then Sweet dreams, Kiddo."
Mara turned her back and sighed, "Jed?"
"Think you could...."
"Elizabeth, the second," Jed muttered affectionately, remembering how his eldest daughter would always want to fall asleep this way as a little girl.. He gently began raking his fingers through her hair.
Mara slowly opened her eyes several hours later and noticed Abbey reading a book by her bedside.
"Have I been put on a First Family watch?"
"Good afternoon, Mara. Feeling better?"
"Yeah. I'm sort of hungry though. What's for lunch?"
"You mean dinner and it's steak, sautéed mushrooms and baked potatoes."
Mara looked at her watch and couldn't believe it was nearly six. "Holy cow! Sam must think I fled the country."
"No, he was actually happy that you were still asleep an hour ago. He asked me to tell you he loved and missed you."
"So, did the tests show anything?"
"There still is some swelling on his brain, but not to the extent that it usually suppresses sight."
"So it's more like hysterical blindness?"
"Well, that should mean that it's temporary then. Right?"
"It should, but we have no idea just how temporary it will be. If something were visible, we'd be able to assess it better. He can tell when a light is being aimed directly at his eyes because the gray gets a little lighter, but that's the extent of it."
"Nothing involving me is ever easy, is it?"
"Is he still proclaiming that his life is over?"
"No. I think between CJ, Josh and Donna, they nipped it in the bud. I'll have dinner brought up, see you in the dining room."
Mara practically wolfed down her dinner, thanked Abbey and was standing at Sam's door in just under an hour. CJ was reading to him from a magazine and Mara had to laugh when she realized she was giving Sam the January Cosmo quiz.
"Your best friend annouces that she's been sleeping with a well known, married celelebrity for months. How do you react?"
"C. You don't even bat an eye lash," Mara answered for Sam.
"Hey, you woke up!"
"Yeah. It's amazing how much better a person can feel after almost 24 hours of sleep. Thanks Ceeg."
"Anytime. Spanky and I had fun. I'll see you both later," CJ left a kiss on Sam's cheek and squeezed Mara's shoulders before leaving.
"Miss me?" Mara asked.
"You have no idea, but you needed your rest more than I needed your presence."
"I'm sorry Sam. I know I promised you I'd....."
"Mar, don't you dare apologize. I put you through sheer hell and you didn't leave my side. I'm sorry about earlier. I should have simply thanked you for loving me and told you how much I loved you in return. Will you forgive me?"
"Oh Sam, I'm not in your shoes, I'm not blind. It's easier for me to open my big mouth or assume how I'd react. I shouldn't have lost my temper with you. I don't function well without sleep. How about we start fresh. How are you feeling?"
"A little scared and apprehensive to be honest. I've never had to face a challenge like this."
"Sam, God never puts anything upon us that we can't handle. You have a building full of people who love you, who will jump through hoops to help you deal with this and get back to work. Then you have me and my undying, suffocating love that will end up annoying you so much that you'll run back to work as soon as you possibly can."
"You nag because you care, Mara. You push me because you want me to be a better politician, you debate me because you like to hear the sound of your own voice."
"Hey! Don't think I won't hurt a blind man," Mara responded with mock indignation.
Sam chuckled. "I'm starving, think you could get me something edible?"
"Sure, Baby. What do you want?"
"A grilled chicken sandwich and a brownie."
"Coming right up." Mara picked up the phone in Sam's room and placed his order adding a brownie for herself. She went down to the desk and left money and quickly returned to Sam's side.
"So, how much weight did you lose?"
"Maybe an ounce, everyone made sure I ate. I mean, they literally brought me food and watched me eat it. Well CJ helped me eat it, but I wasn't' given a choice. Donna, the little imp, flat out refused to wake me up if I dozed off. That girl can be so resourceful."
"Yeah, we all seek Donna out for her devious nature," Sam chuckled.
"She's been so great Sam. She moved into the mansion to take care of Killer. She kept on top of my mail, she ran your office, sat beside your bed when I was gone, read to you and even moisturized you. I don't know what I would have done without her."
"Donna's one in a million. You know, I liked her from the day we met but I don't quite remember when the friendship turned into more. I love her as though she was my own sister."
"When you almost lost Josh?"
"No, it was before that. One day, it just seemed that it was my duty to make sure she was okay and I noticed that she started looking out for me like she did for Josh. It was 'I'm going to lunch, Sam what do you want? I brought you this chicken soup, eat it you'll feel better. Sam go home, it will keep till the morning.' She inserted herself in to my life and, you know, it's Donna, so you can't say no if you wanted to."
"Ya think Ceeg would mind if I asked Donna to be my Maid of Honour?"
"Nah, think Josh would mind if I asked her to be my best person?"
"Yeah, Josh isn't nearly as mature and understanding as Ceeg," Mara giggled.
"I want out of here, Mara. I think we'll both sleep better in our own bed. I appreciate you lending me Tedzy, but I prefer you in my arms."
"I wouldn't count on getting out of here before the weekend Sam. Then you have a choice. I've put a suite on hold at the Ritz and Abbey has offered us the third floor of the residence and the solarium for a few weeks."
"Why can't we go home?"
"Sam, according to Dani and the doctors, there's no way of telling how much pain you're going to be in when they take you off the painkillers. You can't sleep on the couch and you won't want to be locked upstairs. The less you have to walk the better and stairs are simply out of the question."
"It's up to you then," Sam sighed dejectedly.
"I vote for the residence. You'll be closer to the bullpen and the elevator will let you visit when you are feeling up to it. I'll feel less like a negligent mother-hen when I have to get back to work, knowing that Abbey, Donna, Ceeg, Margaret, Bonnie and Ginger will be keeping tabs on you."
"Holy cow Mara, what about your job?"
"I did a little bit of work the other day. Leslie stepped right up for me and Cheryl flew back immediately and is running the show from Ottawa. Jean-Luc wanted me to tell you that he's prayed for your recovery and is relieved you're awake. He said to call if you need anything."
"That's very sweet. Thank him for me. He's a good man. But Mara, I flat out refuse to let you neglect your job for me."
"Now that the worst is over, I'll figure a schedule out. I'll try to do as much as possible from the residence and go in when I need to. Sam, I'll go nuts if I can't be around for you."
Sam's thought was interrupted by Nurse Mitchell bringing in his dinner.
"The brownie's mine right? I mean, you wouldn't want me to be so low on sugar that I forget to replenish your morphine drip."
"Marie? Is that you?" Sam asked.
"Yes, Samuel. And let me tell you right now, this was not what I had in mind when you said you'd keep in touch!"
"Sorry, what are you doing out the cardiac ward?"
"I was sent down to look after another White House Deputy who doesn't know how to duck!"
"Okay, someone mind clueing me in?"
"Mara, this is Marie..."
"Mitchell, that much I know."
"Marie was Josh's night nurse. She helped keep Donna and I sane while we waited for Josh to recover. I'm sure Donna was thrilled to see you."
"Actually, Sam, since it was Mara here at night, I only saw her, Dr. Bartlett and Josh a couple of times, but he didn't recognize me. I've heard Donna's been in but I haven't seen her. Are Josh and Donna married yet?"
Mara and Sam laughed. "Not yet, but they both have recognized that they love each other. They just haven't shared that piece of information with each other yet."
"Those two are slower than molasses going uphill in January!"
"Uhuh, but the Nile is back to being just a river." quipped Mara.
"So, how long until I'm sprung, Marie?"
"We're looking at Sunday, we're going to put you on a self administered morphine drip in the morning. We'll watch you and help you monitor the pain for the next four days before we switch you over to pills, then watch you over night. There will be a few more test to do, then we'll slowly start you on rehab and vision impairment classes."
"So, I'm going to be busy."
"Yes Sam, you're going to have a whole new full time job for the next 4-8 weeks. Oh, and un- hand my brownie."
Sam dutifully handed over his brownie and waited for the door to close.
"I hope you ordered a back up brownie?"
"Yeah, one for me."
"So you'll share, right?"
"I'll consider the request. But I'd like to know what's in it for me? What do you have in exchange for my brownie?"
"It's business as usual for you, isn't it?"
"Of course, Sam. I won't be giving you any special treatment. You're not even getting the chance to be dependent on me. If you think I'm being mean or expecting you to do something that is impossible, let me know, otherwise I'm working under the assumption that you can do it. Sam, you have to try really hard to think of yourself as inconvenienced, not disabled."
"I promise to try." Sam replied as he ate. "Now about that brownie."
"Half a brownie, I've eaten half already."
"I offer my undying love."
"I've got that already. What else do you have?"
Sam could just picture that satisfied little smirk on her face. "I'm willing to talk about wedding things."
"Wedding things? Oh, you are so romantic Samuel!" She replied sarcastically.
"That's me, now hand over the brownie and no one will get hurt."
"Sam no dessert until you finish dinner."
"Evil witch." Sam muttered under his breath.
Mara smiled warmly at Sam. All was once again right in the world when he called her names under his breath. Name calling was a sport between Mara and Josh but with Sam it was more of a social commentary given with love. He had no qualms about asking her why she was such a bitch when she was acting like one. Occasionally, she called him something in return, but most of the time she just rolled her eyes.
"You're rolling your eyes at me aren't you?"
"You were just rolling your eyes at me for calling you a witch."
"You called me an evil witch, Sammy the seal. To answer your question, yeah."
"Maybe I can deal with you and not see."
"Are you saying I'm predictable?"
"Not completely, you do things out of the blue just to get a reaction, but.... yeah you are." Sam admitted.
Mara had to laugh, she knew he was right. "I guess trying not to be predictable is predictable eh?"
"Well there's a new one, it's the first time I've ever heard you be a stereotypical Canuk eh?"
"I hate the 'eh' but every so often it just slips out. You know you're predictable too."
"Humans by nature are creatures of habit Miss Whitford."
"You know I like how Mrs. Seaborn sounds even more than my own name."
"I'm happy you want to take my name once we are married. Hey, wedding stuff, I get my brownie."
"Here take the bloody thing." Mara chuckled and handed it to Sam.
He popped it in to his mouth, sighing as he got a small chocolate fix.
"Not as good as your caramel brownies, but it hit the spot."
"So what do you think about early May?"
"A generally delightful time of the year."
"Can you plan a state wedding in six months Mara?"
"No, you could give me ten years and I wouldn't plan a state wedding. Our wedding will be small and intimate. I don't mean small and intimate for a D.C. political wedding either, I mean small and intimate."
"As in less than 200 guests?"
"No, as in less than 100 guests."
"You just stick to that little delusion, my love, until we are sitting among 206 of our nearest and dearest." Sam snickered.
"Sam, I've made up my mind and I'm deadly serious about wanting a small wedding. You're delusional, if you think I'm going to let this wedding get out of hand."
"Mar, I'll believe it when I see it. I really don't think you quite understand the protocol......"
"Oh I do Sam, I just don't give a shit. I don't care who I alienate, I'm doing it and I'll take all the flak."
"K, tell me when and where and I'll show up then." Sam said matter of factly, grateful that he wasn't going to be the one in the line of fire.
"How about the first or second Saturday in May."
"I'd really love it to be in the chapel at the Abbey, the first day I laid eyes on my High School's chapel I fell in love with it. I know that it would be impossible to throw it in Toronto though, Jed and Abbey just have to be there. Our church will be fine with me and Ron will love me for it."
"Our church? Since when did I convert?"
"Is that an offer Sam? Because nothing would thrill me more."
"Mara, I love you with all my heart, but no, that's not an offer."
"Just checking, thought maybe the drugs would get you to say yes," Mara laughed.
"Nice try, Princess Snark. You know my Mom wouldn't be happy, but I think it's cute when you say 'Our church.' We are still keeping my mass attendance a state secret, okay?"
"I don't get that Sam, you said your family wasn't very religious so why would it bother her?"
"You'd have to ask her that, I really don't know. Would you mind calling home for me. I don't know where on earth they'd be. Liz could be on a shoot but ......"
"What the number again?"
Mara dialed the number and waited. After five rings the answering machine kicked in and Mara left another message. She hung the phone up, stood to stretch then brought the railing on the bed down so she could sit on the edge of the bed.
"That has to be the twelfth message I've left Sam. Did you Mom mention anything about maybe going away?"
"Not that I can remember. It's not like her to not be there to get my Christmas Day call."
"Well to be honest it was pretty late before Josh or Toby tried to get a hold of her Christmas night. She probably figured I'd enticed your mind away with some little piece of clothing."
"I'd laugh if I wasn't afraid you'd hurt me. Are you going home soon?"
"Nah, I'm staying put, in case you need me"
"Thanks, what's the press reaction been like?"
"Great, they don't know."
"Yup. The last thing I needed was the press hounding me so we said nothing. It was over the holidays so you not being around would just be assumed to be vacation."
"I guess Ceeg will have to say something now."
"Not necessarily. I came up with this one, 'Mr. Seaborn suffered a series of injuries and required surgery to fix a broken ankle. He's undergoing therapy and is on medical leave until further notice.' CJ added the next part, 'I expect in a week or two he'll have gone stir crazy and will be attempting to work from home. I'll send him your wishes for a speedy recovery.' "
"Hmm.. Not lying, but not full disclosure. Yeah, that should work."
"Can I get you anything, Sweetie?"
"Is there enough room for you to lie next to me?"
"In the need of a good hug?"
"Let's see what I can do." Mara got up and judged the amount of space on Sam's left side, she supposed if she stayed on her side, and didn't take any deep breaths that she'd just be able to fit. She carefully maneuvered her way on to the bed wrapping one arm around Sam's stomach as she leaned her head into his neck.
"Comfortable?" Sam asked.
"Umm...no, you're bloody luck I love you this much."
"I love you, Mara."
"And I love you, Samuel. Promise me you won't ever do anything this scary again!"
"I promise. Actually, I don't want anything this scary to happen again either."
"I've got stuff to do in the morning, but I should be back around lunch time. How about I bring your Harry Potter book back with me and I'll read you it."
"I've only been bugging you for two months to read it. What made you change your mind?"
"Donna told me she read the first three in a little over a week, and that she had a hard time putting them down. I decided to trust her instinct."
Sam and Mara continued to talk quietly until Sam heard her softly snoring beside him. He kissed the side of her head, whispering that he loved her and sighed just as Marie entered the room.
"Sam, that's a bed for one!"
"Please Marie, Mara's asleep and I'll sleep better with her beside me."
"I'll pretend I didn't notice, but I'm going to put the rail back up otherwise she's going to fall and break something. She can't be very comfortable."
"I don't think she is, but she's asleep now, and that's what counts. Thanks Marie, night."
"Good night, Sam."
Marie quietly slid the rail up, locking it in place, checked on Sam's morphine drip and left her charge to the healing powers of undying love.