Category : Drama/angst/ESF... to be brief, I made Sam miserable. Again.
Characters : Sam-Toby (not slash)
Summary : Did he have the right to let Sam deal on his own with whatever was eating him?
Disclaimer : They belong to Aaron Sorkin, John Wells Productions, NBC, Warner Brothers, and I hope I haven't forgotten anyone. So obviously, they don't belong to me. I'm not making money for this story, I just have too much free time on my hands.
Spoilers : Everything up to Posse Comitatus is fair game.
Rating : PG - 13
WARNING : Adult subject. There's nothing graphic in the story, but it deals with a subject that may upset some readers.
Thanks a lot to my beta reader, RoseRed.
Toby was at his desk, typing furiously on his laptop, when the phone rang. He cursed. The day had been a long succession of meetings with people he suspected had been put on Earth only to frustrate him and he hadn't had the time to write half the drafts he was supposed to. He was finally in the zone now; he didn't need any distraction. He grabbed the receiver and barked, "What?", hoping to scare off whoever was calling him.
For a long moment he only heard silence. On any other day, he would have hung up, exasperated at having been disturbed for nothing while writing. But something made him hesitate. "What?" he repeated, more forcefully.
"You didn't tell me."
Sam. Sounding both mad and incredibly depressed at the same time. And more than a little drunk.
"Look, Sam, I don't have - "
"Should have told me," Sam continued. "I d-d-deserved to..."
His deputy didn't finish his sentence and Toby felt a lump beginning to form in his stomach. He was used to Sam being frustrated at being kept out of the loop - although in this case, it had been an honest mistake. Tonight however, Sam sounded... bad.
"I thought we were beyond that. Or above that," Sam stated before letting out a tired sigh. "Whatever, I'm just going to... "
When he didn't finish his sentence, Toby tried to insist. "Sam, come on. Talk to me. What are you... "
"Never..." came the mumbled answer, and Toby waited but nothing more came. He stood abruptly, disrupting the neatly arranged pile of folders Ginger had put on his desk before leaving.
"Sam, did you take something?" he asked worriedly. It wasn't like Sam to sound this down. Usually, when he was angry about something his boss had done, he let it be known.
"Drunk," Sam confirmed.
"Are you home?" Toby asked.
When his deputy didn't answer and failed to respond to his insistent questioning, Toby dropped the phone and grabbed his coat, checking that his keys were in his pocket before leaving his office.
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He didn't think he'd ever driven that fast, and he hoped he hadn't ignored too many red lights on his way to Sam's place. He didn't panic easily at most, he was a pessimist. However, it was not like Sam to drink to the point of losing consciousness. Not that his deputy had been acting like his usual self lately. Everyone on the senior staff had noticed that. If only they'd known how to help him. Unfortunately, the betrayals and disillusionments were beginning to add up and they were seriously wondering when Sam would make good on his threat to just resign and be done with it.
"Friends are honest with each other."
Would that night ever stop haunting him?
"I was the last to know, wasn't I?"
Part of the reason Toby had insisted on waiting to tell Sam about the President's illness was because he didn't want to see him betrayed yet again. To say that he'd had a bad year would have been a gross understatement and he had hoped that Sam ... He didn't know what he'd expected, actually, but everything he'd hoped for had crashed down when Sam hadn't gone to him, hadn't gone to anyone, the night he'd learned the truth.
He had asked CJ, the next week, whether Sam would ever turn to any of them again, and her answer had done nothing to reassure him.
"You should have told me."
Remembering the way Sam had sounded on the phone, he floored it.
They hadn't meant not to tell Sam what was going on with the bill. The staff had been working on it for a while a law proposing stronger penalties for child abuse, both physical and sexual. Unfortunately, the President had more enemies than friends, now, and they had to deal with several powerful congressmen asking for riders to be added (or, more accurately, ordering for riders to be added).
They tried to negotiate, but they lacked leverage. They were still weak after Bartlet's MS disclosure and they had to think about re-election. They didn't dare to anger more people than they already had, and they were in no position to fight.
Sam had worked hard with Josh on that one. But he was busy working on a speech with Toby the day Josh and Leo decided to accept the congressmen demands and somehow, they'd forgotten to tell him about it afterwards. So he'd found out two days later, during a staff meeting.
Two years ago, Sam would have thrown a fit. He would have argued that the riders would kill the bill, defended, pleaded for Leo to give him a chance to call in some favours. This time, he'd just stood there while Leo broke the news to him, sincerely apologizing to him for forgetting to keep him posted, then he'd said, "Well, okay then. Do you still need me on it or can you take it from here?"
Not even a word on how it was going to affect people's lives.
Not a word on whether it was the right thing to do.
And no one had dared to look him in the eye when he'd left the office.
Earlier in the day, they'd watched the last part of the vote in Leo's office, and Sam had left after the results were called, still not saying a word.
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The first thing Toby noticed when he entered Sam's living room was the strong scent of alcohol. The second was the fact that the TV was running on CNN. The third was an open bottle on the table. Then he saw Sam, clearly unconscious, curled up on the floor in front of the sofa, still clutching the phone in his hand. The last thing, which made him feel like his heart had stopped beating for a few seconds, was a bottle of pills, open, next to Sam.
He stood there, frozen, for what felt like hours before he took two steps and kneeled next to Sam. He checked for a pulse with one hand, barely remembering to breathe when he found it and dialled 911 with his other hand. Sam hadn't reacted at all to Toby's urgings to wake up, but his pulse seemed normal enough. Toby decided, on impulse, to give him a chance before calling an ambulance.
He hung up before an operator could take the communication and dropped the phone on the floor, trying again to get Sam to react. When he was unsuccessful, he got up and dragged Sam into the bathroom, ranting all the way. "I swear to God, if you don't wake up within the next five minutes, I'm calling an ambulance. Sam? And I'll let you deal with CJ when the headlines slam you for drinking that much. Sam? Hear me? Sam! If you took these pills, I'm * so * kicking your ass when you wake up! Sam?"
By the time they had made it to the bathroom, Sam still hadn't reacted and Toby checked his pulse again before running the shower. The communications director sighed when he saw that Sam had installed the shower in a bathtub, said tub reaching his knees. That was going to be fun. He struggled for a while to lift Sam into the tub, then struggled some more to hold him up under the flow of cold water.
Toby checked his watch, deciding to give Sam exactly five minutes to wake up on his own before he called 911 again. Trying to ignore his own wet clothes clinging to his body, he shook his deputy, telling him to wake up.
Four minutes had passed and Toby was about to go get his phone when Sam tried to move his head away from the flow of water, coughing weakly.
Still supporting him with one arm, Toby used his free hand to push Sam's face under the water again, ordering him sternly to wake up.
Sam finally opened his eyes, trying to focus, but snapped them shut again when some water went into them.
"'oby?" he rasped.
"I'm going to kill you!" he exploded, the relief he'd felt when he saw his deputy move evaporating when he realised what had almost happened.
He saw Sam flinch and try to jerk away from him and he calmed down. "It's okay, Sam. You're going to be okay." He felt Sam trying unsuccessfully to support himself and added "I'm going to put you down now, cause you're heavier than you look."
Slowly, carefully, he eased Sam down so that he was sitting in the tub but still under the water. Sam tried to close his eyes again and Toby grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. "Sam, if you fall asleep now, not only will I kill you, I'll ask CJ for ideas on how to do it. Do you understand?"
Sam nodded slowly, opening his eyes again and looking around, looking slightly frightened. "Why - " he tried to croak before coughing again. When he could breathe again, he mumbled "Why you scream?"
"Later," Toby said tersely. "First, you have to throw up whatever it is you took."
When Sam just stared at him blankly, he sighed and lifted him up. Sam tried to stand on his own but would have collapsed if Toby hadn't caught him. "Don't even think about it. When you are ready to stand, I'll tell you. For now, just lean on me."
Five minutes and a dozen muffled curses later, Sam was on the floor, trying very hard to hold on to his dignity while he threw up, Toby hovering near the entry of the bathroom in case he needed anything and still wondering whether he should call an ambulance or take him to the ER.
"You should have told me."
I know, he sighed inwardly. I know.
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Toby collapsed on the couch. Sam had been adamant about not wanting to go to an hospital and he'd managed to convince Toby that he really was okay and he hadn't taken too many pills. One look at the dosage written on the bottle of pills had confirmed that he was right.
Toby had put him to bed after helping him change his clothes Sam stubbornly maintaining that he didn't need any help, thank you very much, until Toby, exasperated, let go of his arm, allowing him to land straight on the floor. He was beginning to gain a little motor control back by the time Toby had gotten him settled in the bedroom.
Once he was sure his deputy was asleep, Toby cleaned up the mess, emptying the bottle in the kitchen sink, putting the pills back in the pharmacy, taking care of their drenched clothes he'd had to borrow some of Sam's sweat pants to replace his own suit.
"Friends are honest with each other."
Great. It was guilt trip time.
It shouldn't have surprised him that Sam would react this badly to the news that they were not going to fight for the bill. Yet, it had. After almost five years of working with him, Sam still surprised him every day. And he still didn't understand him.
Oh, on a superficial level, he did. Sam was an idealist. Fine. He had ideals, he had principles, and he lived by them. Intellectually, he knew that. But emotionally, he didn't know what it felt to be Sam, so in a way, no, he didn't truly understand him.
Josh had once described Toby as a cynical idealist. Someone who had principles, and ideals, just like the rest of them, but who didn't expect any of them to actually triumph.
Sam, despite the occasional exasperation that some of his crusade provoked among the senior staff, was often the one who reminded them of the reasons that had made them come to Washington in the first place.
Part of Toby wanted his deputy to toughen up a little so he wouldn't be so easily hurt, but another part of him wanted him just as he was for their sake, if not his.
He was beginning to fall asleep when a small cry from the bedroom startled him. He was on his feet and through the door in a second, approaching the bed cautiously. Sam was fighting in his sleep, trying to escape something, and Toby tried to get closer without getting hit by a flailing arm.
"Sam, it's - "
His deputy went completely motionless, still muttering "No, no, no, no". Toby came closer and shook his shoulder lightly.
"It's okay, Sam, calm down."
Sam moaned softly and turned on his side, curling up. "No," he muttered again, before calming down completely.
When he was sure that whatever nightmare that Sam was trapped in was over, Toby straightened up and went out, trying not to make too much noise.
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Two hours later, Toby, who had been unable to sleep, decided to connect Sam's computer to the Internet to access his mail account.
When he shifted the mouse, the screen lit up and a word document appeared, the cursor blinking. Toby's eyes were drawn to the screen and he read the sentence in front of him. "It's not like I don't know that suicide is not a solution. It's just that sometimes, it would simplify my life so much and yes, I'm aware of the irony of that."
Swallowing hard, he scrolled to the top of the document and began to read it through, a part of him telling him that he didn't have any right to do this while another part argued that tonight had been close enough a call. Maybe it had been an accident, but if Sam had actually wanted to die...
The story was the one of a teenager trying to tell his parents about what his uncle had done to him when he was a kid and even though Sam didn't get into too many details, it was obvious that the uncle was more than a little sick.
He was halfway through the text when a movement behind him made him turn around.
Sam was watching him, his face unreadable.
"Get out of here," he said, his tone even.
Toby felt a chill crawling down his spine and he swallowed nervously, trying to smile. "Hey, Sam. You really shouldn't do - "
"Get. Out. Of. Here."
Toby stopped trying to put on a smile and just stared at him. "Look, maybe we - "
"You read it," Sam said incredulously. "You had no Get out. Now."
Anger was beginning to creep in Sam's voice, and Toby, who had seen Sam really angry before, grimaced.
"Yes, yes, I did read it, and - " he tried to explain.
He never got to finish his sentence. Sam blindly grabbed something next to his hand (a book, and thankfully not a thick one) and hurled it at Toby, who barely managed to duck out of the way in time.
The book collided against the wall and Toby watched it fall to the floor, almost fascinated.
"Get out," Sam said again.
"Sam," he began, his voice sounding incredulous even to his own ears.
Sam had shouted, but it's when he took a step toward him that Toby put his arms up, trying to placate his friend. "I'm going. I'm going, Sam. But I don't like the idea of leaving you."
When Sam took a deep breath, presumably to shout at him again, he added quickly "But I'm going. I'm going."
He had barely had the time to step into the hallway when Sam slammed the door to his face.
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