Part 3

 

 

 

Toby was staring at his computer. He'd been battling his suspicions all day, telling himself that there was no way, absolutely no way, Sam's story could have been based on something that had happened to him personally.

No, there was no way something like that had happened to his deputy.

Yet a small voice kept reviving his doubts. "Can you be sure?"

Yes, he could. No way. Not Sam.

"And the reason he was so mad at you was because...?"

"Well, bad day, bad night, OD, I read something he didn't want me to read - "

"Interesting you should mention that. Why did he OD? Why didn't he want you to read - "

"No. Way."

"How can you be sure?"

"I know him."

"Can you really know a person * that * well?"

"Not Sam."

"How can you be sure?"

 

 

He couldn't.

And he had to know, because he couldn't bear the thought of Sam carrying * that * alone.

 

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Sam felt Toby appear at the doorway before he actually saw him – the air seemed to physically tense when his boss entered the room and closed the door.

Toby sat and stared at him for a while before stating, almost fearfully "There's been something on my mind."

"Yeah?" Sam managed to choke out when Toby didn't seem inclined to pursue his line of thought.

"Yes, it's... hum... you seem to be taking... Sam, this bill."

Sam was momentarily so relieved to see that Toby didn't actually want to talk about what had happened last night that he let his guard down (which, he would later reflect, had probably been Toby's plan all along). So he wasn't prepared for what came next.

"You took it so personally, and - " Toby raised a hand to silence him when he tried to say that he'd already had that talk with Leo. "You take your job at heart, as we all do, but it's not what's happening here, is it? It's like something that happened in your life made you - "

Sam stopped paying attention when the walls seemed to close in on him violently all of a sudden. He had to close his eyes and breathe slowly, while a panicked voice told him "He knows. HE KNOWS!"

It took him a moment to regain enough of his composure to realise that Toby didn't know anything for a fact, that he just had suspicions. And he'd stopped talking, so opening his eyes and looking a little less on the verge of passing out would probably be in order, too.

Raising his head carefully, he saw Toby, still across his desk looking at him with barely concealed concern.

"Sam?"

"You're imagining things, Toby," he said, willing his voice to be firm.

"Oh, and that's the reason you almost hyperventilated not two minutes ago when I tried to - "

"Toby, there's nothing going on. It's fine, I'm just... disappointed the law had to be changed."

He would never have allowed even that to slip out under normal circumstances, but maybe a little truth would placate Toby enough to make him drop it. Maybe if he gave him just enough he'd leave it at that. He wanted – needed – to talk about it, but not with one of his colleagues, and certainly not with Toby, of all people.

"I don't think it's just that," Toby said calmly, showing no intention of leaving it at that. Great.

"I think there's more behind that," Toby continued, "something that has to do with your nightmares."

Something must have shown on his face because Toby said patiently, "Yes, you had one last night. And it wasn't the first one either, we've shared rooms often enough for me to have noticed."

Sam didn't have anything to say to that so he let Toby go on, hoping it would be over soon.

"And I wonder if... and if you just tell me 'no', I'll leave it at that, but I think it has something to do with the story you were working on."

Sam tried to get a word out – anything, preferably the 'no' Toby was expecting, was hoping for even, but anything would do really.

Nothing came.

He closed his mouth, took a deep breath and tried again.

"I'm sorry, I'm going to get sick," he said, getting up.

Toby stared at him and he tried to say something again but his stomach constricted violently. With an apologetic glance to his boss, he fled the room.

 

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Toby found Sam kneeling in the men's room, trying to throw up – which he would have had more success doing if he'd actually eaten anything that day. As it was, his deputy was reduced to dry heaves and Toby grimaced at the choking sounds he was making.

When he seemed to be done, Toby took him by the arm and helped him off the floor, then waited until he'd rinsed his mouth and splashed water on his face.

When he tried to talk, Toby interrupted him. "Later. Now, we're going to get your stuff and take you home."

They left the building without another word.

 

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They were at Sam's again, in the kitchen. Toby had decided that his deputy needed to eat something, so Sam was trying to make some sandwiches with what was left in the fridge. He had to be a little creative, but he finally managed it and he and his boss spent the next half hour eating and trying to think of something to say that wouldn't lead them to dangerous places.

Sam could tell that Toby was waiting for the right moment – if such a time existed – to bring it up again. Try as he might, he couldn't possibly get prepared to that, and the next question hit him hard.

"Before you had to... ahem... go out..." Toby began as they were cleaning up the table.

Sam blushed slightly, still embarrassed at having his boss see him so violently sick twice in a row, and concentrated on putting the dishes in a neat pile in the sink.

"We were discussing... hum..."

Sam could tell it was difficult for Toby. He would have had to be blind not to see it. But he couldn't understand why his boss was so persistent. It wasn't like Toby to pester his deputy when he obviously didn't want to talk about it. Except after the drop in, of course. And after the MS. And after his father.

Oh, OK, so it was like Toby to want to talk about the things that upset him. It still didn't make it any easier.

He sighed and tried to think of something to say. "No Toby, it was just a story" would have been a smart move. Toby would leave if he said that. Seven simple words, really, and Toby would be out, and he would be alone and he could spend the night trying not to think about any of it.

Suddenly that prospect seemed almost unbearable.

What was wrong with him?

And abruptly, there it was. THE question, the one they'd been dancing around all day, the one he'd been dreading all day.

"Sam, did it happen to you?"

 

Part 4

 

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