Title: The Demon Cat
Rating: PG (mild swearing)
Spoilers: WKoDHiB, ItSoTG
This is for Debbie, and all the rest of the Winging Webbies.
The White House needs a spook. The White House needs a spook... or at the least, WW needs Steven Culp!!
Oh, there's an idea all to itself...
For those who don't know what I'm like, I'm a WW and JAG nut. Two characters in this story come from "JAG" so if you don't know the show, you might be a bit lost.
U.S. Capitol Building 2245 Local Time
"Okay, Sam... you want to explain to me again why we're here?"
Sam rolled his eyes at his friend's questions. "Well, for the third time, Josh, we're here because this guy's a little shy about being seen with us in public."
Josh could relate. "Well, considering who we are and our penchant for getting in the papers, I suppose I can sympathize."
"Come on, Josh... we're not that bad. It's not like we're Republicans." Sam chuckled at his own joke. "Although, I don't think he'd be this shy if we were."
Josh followed Sam down the winding stairs. Why Sam's 'contact' had wanted to meet them in the basement of the US Capitol was something Josh hadn't bothered to ask. But, there they were nonetheless.
"So, where exactly are we meeting this guy?"
"Hall of Columns."
The Hall of Columns was a part of the Capitol's Statuary Hall collection. Memorializing great Americans, from Philip Kearny to J. Sterling Morton, the Hall itself was a long connection between the Crypt and the basement level of the House of Representatives.
Sam's contact had said to meet him in the Hall at 11 o'clock, so, true to form, Sam and Josh arrived 15 minutes early. At just a few minutes to 11, they heard footsteps from the connecting corridor, and soon, a man in a dark trench coat stepped into the light.
"I thought you were coming alone, Seaborn."
Sam straighten a bit. "Josh needs to be in on this, too. He's as much a part of this as the rest of us."
The man in the trench coat rolled his eyes. "I highly doubt that." Making sure there was no one else hanging around, he took a manila envelope out of his coat and handed it to Sam.
Sam simply put it in his own pocket. "Thanks."
Josh was confused by what was going on. What they hell were they here for? "Uh... excuse me. What exactly is it that we're doing here, anyway?"
The man in the trench coat looked at Josh sharply. "It's not your problem, Mr. Lyman." He looked over at Sam. "You need to pick smarter friends, Sam."
Sam looked at Josh. "I'm fine with the one's I've got, thanks."
The man in the trench coat was about to say something when the sound of something falling caught their attention.
"I'll go check it out," the man in the trench coat said.
When he disappeared back into the black, Josh turned to Sam sharply. "Where did you dig up this guy, Sam?"
"He's a friend of a friend, Josh... that's all you really want to know."
Josh knew that Sam had protected him before, when it came to his friend Laurie, and he knew it was going to take a long time before Sam trusted him again when it came to her, but he trusted Sam when he said that he didn't want to know any more about the black haired man in the trenchcoat.
More than a minute passed before Sam and Josh realized that their 'friend' hadn't returned. Sam looked around, then down the corridor that their companion had disappeared down. He pulled the envelope out of his pocket and gave it to Josh. "I'll be right back."
Then Sam disappeared.
It was the sound of a thump that finally made Josh leave the Hall of Columns and venture down the corridor. Once he cleared the corridor, he saw a dim passageway that lead back to the Crypt. At the far end of the passage, he saw a crumpled form curled up against a wall. He immediately recognized it as Sam.
"Sam!" Josh sprinted the length of the passage and skidded to a stop just in front of Sam. His eyes were wide open, his face chalk-white. Three thin streams of blood coursed down his left cheek.
"Sam?" Josh waved his hand in front of his friend's eyes, getting no response. "Sam?! Quit scaring me buddy!"
A sound behind him made Josh whirl. It was their mysterious companion. "What happened?"
"I don't know," Josh replied. "I heard a thud and I saw Sam down here."
The black haired man sank down on his knees to be at eye-level with Sam. He reached out his hand and felt the tiny scratches on Sam's face, his fingers coming away bloody. "Something clawed him."
"What would be down here that could? I mean, they don't exactly keep guard dogs down here... Looks like a cat did it..."
As soon as Josh said the word 'cat,' the black haired man's back went stiff. "Help me get him out of here."
With Josh's help, they managed to get Sam through the crypt and up the stairs to the main floor of the building. A quick word to the guard, something about Sam tripping over Mother Joseph, and they were out the East Staircase and into the night air of Washington.
Josh spoke as soon as they were out of the building. "I think we better get him to a doctor."
A shake of the head. "No. They'll just think he's crazy. We have... a mutual friend... who's not far from here. Don't worry. He'll be fine in the morning." The stranger started to guide Sam towards a red BMW parked at the end of the block.
Josh wasn't about to let a complete stranger hustle away his best friend, especially when he had no idea who this guy was. "What a second! Just who the hell do you think you are? You can't seriously think I'm just gonna let you drive away with the Deputy Communications Director. I don't even know you, pal."
The black haired man turned back to face Josh. "I work for the Central Intelligence Agency, Mr. Lyman. For now, that's all you need to know."
Josh grabbed his shoulder. "The hell it is! You aren't going anywhere with him."
"All right," the man sighed. "Follow me, then. If you get lost, it's your problem."
Josh followed the mysterious stranger through streets of Washington, through the main section up to a residential neighborhood just north of Union Station. He pulled up just behind the BMW as Sam was being helped out of the car.
"Just a minute!"
Harmon Rabb opened the door of his apartment to find Clayton Webb half holding-up a bleeding Sam Seaborn, with a stranger behind them, looking pissed.
"Webb? What the hell..."
Webb was short. "Don't ask, Harm. You were the closest."
"Get inside." Harm moved and closed the door behind his guests.
Webb immediately made for the couch, sitting Sam down and wrapping his trenchcoat around him. "Rabb... you got any extra blankets around here?"
Harm nodded. "yeah... they're in the closet. I'll get some."
Once they had Sam wrapped up and warm, Harm headed to the kitchen to make coffee while Webb made a phone call. Josh just stood around, not knowing what he do.
He walked into the kitchen, curiously looking around.
"So... your name is Harm?"
Harm didn't look up from the coffeegrinder. "It's short for Harmon."
Harm crossed to a cabinet. "It was my father's name."
Harm pulled four cups down, putting them on the counter. "So, you work with Webb?"
"Is that his name?" Josh said thoughtfully. He had a name to put with the face now. "Uh... No, I don't. I don't even know him. He's a friend of Sam's."
Harm shook his head. "Webb doesn't have 'friends' like Sam." At Josh's questioning look, Harm shrugged. "I introduced them a few months ago. So, if you don't work for the CIA, you must work for Bartlet at the White House. Am I right?"
Josh nodded. "Yeah."
Harm poured water into the coffeemaker, and wiped his hand off before extending it towards Josh. "Harmon Rabb."
"Well, Josh... what do you say we go check on Sam?"
When they brought the coffee into the living room, Webb had already gotten Sam 'settled,' wrapped in about a dozen blankets, and was using Harm's first aide kit to clean up the scratches on Sam's face. They looked a whole lot worse than they had in the Crypt.
"What the hell happened, Clay?"
Webb didn't even look up, he just kept cleaning the cuts. "I don't know. I was checking out a noise when I heard him shout."
"Wait a minute. I didn't hear him shout. I heard a thump."
"I heard a shout. Maybe you were on the wrong side of the Hall." Webb finished cleaning the scrape and started digging around for some kind of antibiotic. "I came back, found you and Sam. Got out of there."
Josh didn't like the way this guy was truncating things. "Yeah... when I said it looked like something got him, you sure moved fast."
"Christ, Lyman, are you really that dumb?" Webb looked up. "You worked in Congress long enough, you had to have heard the stories."
Josh thought a minute. "Oh, shit."
Harm was lost. "What?"
Webb rolled his eyes. "The Capitol is haunted, Harm."
His eyebrows went up in skepticism. "Haunted?"
"Yeah." Josh sighed. "They called it the Demon Cat. Hasn't been seen in years... well, about 14 years. It shows up when something bad is about to happen."
Harm just shrugged. "I suppose this is bad."
Webb found the antibiotic, and started putting it on Sam's face with a q-tip. "Believe it, don't believe it, Rabb. Totally up to you. But I don't think you get these," he gestured to the cuts, "from shaving wrong."
Webb was almost finished bandaging Sam's cheek when Sam seemed to come around.
"Sam?" Josh came out of the kitchen with a cup of hot tea. "Sam, what did you say?"
"They glowed..." He looked up at Webb, who was still sitting next to him. "The eyes glowed."
"I know," Webb said gently. "I know, Sam."
Sam shook his head. "No... you don't. It came right at me." Sam's eyes widened, as the memory flashed through his head.
Glowing green eyes.
That hideous yowl.
The body of the... beast... swelling and twisting and popping...
The look on its face as it started to charge at him...
"Sam!" Josh shook his friend's shoulder. "Sam, snap out of it!"
His eyes got smaller, he shook himself out of the image. "Josh...? What the hell happened?"
Josh shook his head. "I don't know, buddy. You weirded out on us there for a sec."
"Us? Josh what..." He looked around, realizing that there were other people in the room. "Harm? What's going on? Why am I in your apartment?"
Harm handed Sam the cup of tea that Josh had been bringing. "You got a bit banged up, Sam. Webb brought you and your friend here."
Sam looked over at Webb, who had a blank look on his face. "We were supposed to be meeting tonight, right?"
Webb nodded. "We did." Afraid that if he said any longer, he's start to show emotion, Webb quickly stood up. "Well, then, now that this is taken care of, I have things to do." He looked at Josh. "Nice meeting you, even if the situation was... unusual."
"yeah," josh said uncertainly.
Webb grabbed his coat, and walked towards the door with Harm on his heels.
"Keep an eye on him, will ya?"
Harm smirked. "You actually care?"
Webb shrugged. "Don't let it get around."
He closed the door as he left.
Harm dug out the extra pillows and blankets, much to Josh's protest. It wasn't like he was going to get any sleep now anyway, but at least Sam could.
It was the thought of what might have gotten Sam that kept Josh awake. According to the tradition, the 'demon cat' didn't appear until there was about to be a drastic change in administration or a national tragedy. The last time it had been seen had been in '86, just before the Challenger explosion. Josh had to wonder what it meant. He wasn't one to put much stock in omens or spirits, but having his best friend mauled by something that couldn't have been there...
It made you wonder.
As Josh settled into the chair just before dawn, he wondered what Sam would say when he was a bit more lucid...
'Shit,' Josh thought to himself. He popped up out of the chair and grabbed his cell phone off the center table. He quickly dialed a number.
"Hey, Toby... it's Josh. Listen, buddy, me and Sam aren't gonna make it to the President's breakfast. He had a bit of an accident last night, and I'm gonna keep an eye on him... what happened?" Josh paused. "Sam had a run-in with a cat... Yeah, Toby, a cat. C-A-T. Yes... Yes, I will tell him. Yeah, Toby... I remind him to give you the updates... Jesus, Toby, we've got three days before we're in Rosslyn... we'll be fine... Yeah, thanks Toby..."