Warnings/Spoilers/Disclaimers/etc: See pt 1
Feeling a sense of déjà vu, Donna knocked on Sam's door. She announced herself and walked in, trying to be cheerful. "Hi, Sam."
It didn't work. "Hi, Donna." Sam looked worse than C.J. had. There were dark circles under his eyes already, and he had about five piles of paper in front of him, in various states of disorganization and decrepitude. "Something I can help you with?"
Donna had to fight to speak normally. This was damned depressing, seeing Sam like this. "Yeah. Here's the final draft of the WHO remarks from Toby, and Josh sent me to give you his briefing on the Congressman's harassment suit." She added in a softer voice, "He knows he's the last person you want to see right now."
Sam grunted. "No shit."
"Is there anything I could do?" Donna asked. "Anything at all?"
"Not a damned thing, Donna." Sam's voice was dead, whether from personal torture or work-related stress. He just couldn't take it anymore. And that was saying a lot.
He was just sick of everything. His life needed a rewrite. And staring at Donna's cautiously optimistic face was the worst possible thing at that point. Still, he couldn't bite her head off when he spoke.
He didn't, though it was an ordeal. "Donna, I just need some time. Time to finish all this damned work, and time to re-evaluate." Sam's voice trailed off after the last word, unable to finish the sentence. <<Time to realize I just lost the woman I love to my ex-best friend. And he's not even in love with her!>>
"Fine," Donna said softly. "Sam, if you want to talk I'm here." The two were close friends, and had shared many late-night chats.
"Thanks, Donna." Sam smiled, or tried to it was a pale specter of his average 1000-watt grin. It broke Donna's heart. "I'll be fine."
He really would be, he told himself. Eventually. But for now he just needed alone-time. And it didn't help that every time he looked at Donna, he saw Josh.
Speaking formulaically, he asked, "Do I have to see Toby about this draft?"
"Yeah, he said you probably should."
"All right." Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, staving off a sinus headache. "Tell him to give me five minutes, would you?"
"Sure." *Five minutes?* Donna thought forlornly. *Sam, after this mood, Toby will give you the rest of the day.*
Her boss was such a *bastard.*
Sam watched Donna walk out, and couldn't help smiling to himself. Donna really should snap out of it. The denial wasn't healthy. This had to be difficult for her, given that her feelings registered with every step Josh took. It wasn't fair that his ex-best friend had a woman like that dogging his steps. And now he had no one.
Sighing, he got up and quickly perused Toby's draft. It would fly. Now he had to find his boss. Another thing he didn't feel like doing.
The halls were crowded, as usual, and it took Sam a while to find Toby. He was in a particularly high-traffic area, and Sam had to push by several people to get to his boss. However, the last person he pushed by pushed back.
Josh shot Sam a cold look. Sam shot one right back, brazenly ignoring him otherwise. "Toby, I looked at the draft."
"You think it'll fly?"
"Yeah." Sam didn't waste words; he was too tired. "Wanna go see Leo?"
"In about a half-hour," Toby said. "Josh will talk to Joey Lucas sometime tonight and she'll have those stats for us tomorrow."
"Fine." Sam turned to leave, and one of his resident demons made him shove by Josh, even though the corridor had cleared. He pushed Josh on the shoulder, earning a villainous look.
This did not go unnoticed by Toby. "All right. What the hell was that?"
"What was what?" Josh said coldly.
"That!" Toby gestured. "Sam just shoved you. That doesn't happen." His voice held a questioning tone, but neither Sam nor Josh was going to own up.
"It was nothing," Sam said.
"Why would there be something?" Josh said.
"There's nothing," the two of them agreed.
"Then why *did* you shove him?" Toby challenged.
"The corridor was crowded." Sam sounded defensive.
"Yeah, Sam, whatever." Josh had had it, and elbowed past the both of them to stomp back to his office.
Toby was left spellbound, next to a silently furious Sam. Finally he managed, "What crawled up his ass?"
Sam's response was terse and to the point. "A gerbil. And it died." Then he too stalked off.
Toby, being thoroughly confused by recent events, decided to take the easiest course of
action. He would lay the whole matter before Leo.
"You heard about this thing with Tweedledee and Tweedledork?"
"By that I presume you mean Sam and Josh."
"Yes, I have," Leo answered. "Josh practically begged me this morning to not make him work with Sam."
"Yeah, it's about that bad." Toby briefly described the incident in the corridor. "And they both deny there's anything wrong."
"Well it's obvious that there is," Leo said, deadpan. "So why don't you find out what it is?"
Toby had to fight an impulse to laugh. "Leo, why do I give a good goddamn if those two are at each other's throats?"
"Because Josh doesn't work half as well when he's mad," Leo answered smoothly. "And you know you want the help on those appearance schedules. Besides," he added, "It isn't natural to see Sam that angry. You know him. He'll probably try to work through it, and screw up everything instead of only a few things."
Toby was beaten. Leo's logic was faultless. "Fine," he said. "I'll try to see what's going on. But I am *not* playing peacemaker here."
"I don't think that would be possible," Leo said, slight smile playing on the corners of his mouth. "Just see what's going on. Then someone else can fix it."
"I hope that can happen."