Toby woke up and took a moment to remember what he was doing on Sam's couch. Then the last night came back to him and he flinched. He couldn't believe what Sam had told him last night; couldn't believe what had happened. And he'd never even suspected it.
What the hell was he supposed to do now? What was he going to tell Sam? Was he even supposed to say anything?
He knew all too well that he should tell his deputy to go see a therapist but it was obviously something Sam did on his own when he felt the need to.
Toby knew he had to make sure Sam knew he could turn to him, but he didn't expect his deputy to actually come to him with it again. He would undoubtedly be embarrassed, and wouldn't want to burden him with his problems.
Nevertheless, he wasn't about to leave it at that.
There was just no way Sam had to live with that on his own again.
Trying to make a decision based on what he knew about his deputy, he decided that the best way to go was to be here without being obtrusive about it. If he insisted too much, Sam would just shut him out completely. The tactic might work on work related issues, but given Sam's reactions last night, he wasn't about to cause him to snap.
Plus... Toby admitted he wasn't a trained therapist (and he would call a friend of his later in the day), but he wasn't * that * worried about him. He was ... he couldn't really pinpoint what he was yet, but he wasn't worried. He believed Sam when he said that he hadn't been trying to kill himself, and he would watch him to catch any allusion he might make, but he didn't think it was that. He'd been angry, and revolted, and embarrassed at admitting it, but not suicidal, and not dangerously depressed.
Making a note to himself to call his psychologist friend, he decided to watch Sam for suicidal signs, excessive drinking, and signs of depression, and leave his deputy in peace.
Sam had obviously managed to find a way to live with it as much as it was possible.
And in the meantime, he needed to go to the synagogue to ask his rabbi to talk to him about vengeance and forgiveness again. He fleetingly wondered how Sam could stand living with it after having been through it when even hearing about it left him feeling... dirty, somehow.
Getting up, he sneaked a glance in the bedroom and had to smile. His deputy was fast asleep, curled up on his side, clutching a pillow tightly. Checking that the alarm wasn't set, he left silently, deciding to let Sam have a day off.
Getting a piece of paper in the living room, he wrote a quick note and left.
<> <> <>
Sam woke up and blearily shot a look at his alarm clock before closing his eyes again, the red numbers floating in front of his eyes even after he'd closed them.
Then suddenly, they registered.
He shot up in his bed, shouting "Toby!"
When he didn't get an answer, he ran to the living room and found it empty, the cover his boss had used for the night neatly folded on the couch. He was about to call his boss and go ballistic on him for letting him sleep when he spotted a note on the table.
Dreading whatever was written on it (what was his boss afraid of telling him?), he carefully unfolded it and took a breath before reading it.
You're better when you write than when you speak as am I.
A few things :
First, you have the day off. I'll tell everyone you're sick. Take it while you can get it.
Second, we don't have to talk about it again, but should you need and/or want too I'm here.
Third, I won't tell anyone so don't worry about it. Not that I fear they would think any less of you God knows I don't but because it's not my story to tell. Maybe I was wrong to push, and if so forgive me, but that's the way it is.
Finish this story if it helps you. Even if it's for you only.
You're the strongest person I know, don't even begin to think otherwise.
He stared hard at the note, almost afraid to believe it, then smiled and sat down on the couch. He should have guessed what Toby's reaction would be, but he'd been afraid to hope for it.
He knew, intellectually, that what had happened was not his fault. His father, his friend, his therapists had insisted on it. But he still wasn't convinced. Maybe because he was a man, and men weren't supposed to go through that. Maybe because sometimes, his godfather told him that he should protest harder if he truly didn't want to as if a shouted "No" wasn't clear enough an answer.
It had always been a subject of dark humour between him and Franck they spent so much time trying to convince each other that it wasn't the other's fault. Each of them believed that it was HIS own fault and not his brother's.
He sighed. He should call him. And while he was at it, he should call Joyce and ask her if she was free for a session later in the day.
But first, he needed a shower.
Leaving the note in the living room, he went to the bathroom and turned the shower on, stripping off his clothes. He always felt sore when he'd slept in his suit, and today was no exception. Or maybe it was the act of having dug into his past that left him feeling dirty.
He shaved while the water reached his favourite temperature (as hot as possible, just a few microns short of painful) and stepped into the shower, savouring the sensation of the water rushing down on him soothingly.
An unwelcome thought intruded - at least, he never took you under the shower. In a bathtub a few times, but never under the shower, so he preferred the showers, and how pathetic was it for him to be glad that he hadn't developed an aversion for showers?
Pushing the thought away with a conscious effort, he focused on the water, still too warm, and tried to relax.
The water was running cold when he stepped out and he shivered, hurriedly drying off and getting faded jeans on, then the dark sweater that always caused the women of the West Wing to take a second glance much to Josh's consternation.
He poured himself a cup of coffee and went back to the living room, taking Toby's note and reading it again, then folding it and looking for a place to keep it. Going to the shelves, he grabbed the grammar book Toby had bought him for their first Christmas in the White House. It was a gift that had made everyone laugh pretty hard, but Sam had understood the meaning behind the joke, just as Toby had seemed to understand that his "thank you" had meant more than just that, too.
People who met them usually thought that they were going to kill each other, but they both knew where they stood with each other and what they wanted out of this relationship.
He just hoped last night hadn't changed that.
He hoped Toby wouldn't look at him differently it was one of the reasons he didn't tell anyone; the numbing fear that they would never see how he'd changed since that time, how he'd managed to find a way to live with it. It probably wasn't fair to his friends, but his therapists had insisted more than once that while thinking of everybody else before himself was noble, it was not really healthy.
The other reason was that despite all the years that had passed, he still felt humiliated. He knew Toby thought he was embarrassed at having been seen that way, and he was, but the embarrassment was nothing compared to the gut wrenching humiliation he still felt at having been forced to do all those things.
He hadn't even told all of it to Joyce. Some of it he would never tell anyone.
It suddenly struck him that there were fewer people in the world who knew about it that there had been who had known about the President's illness.
His father, his brother, two therapists, his college friend and now Toby.
Even Lisa had never known, even though she had suspected something. How could she not have noticed the way he flinched out of her touch sometimes, because he had a flash back all of a sudden, because it became too much a reminder of his godfather? Yet, even one night when he'd had to lock himself in the bathroom and she'd flat out asked him what had happened, he'd never been able to tell her. He knew now that she wasn't the one. The fact that he could never tell her, not even after the proposal, not after that night, should have told him something, he knew that now. He still wondered, though, if he'd be able to tell whomever it was he would marry.
A few years ago, he was wondering if it would be with him all his life, but now he knew that, yes, it would. The abuse had stopped the day his godfather had died, but he was still dealing with it more than twenty years later.
His godfather's death had saved him from a few more years of that hell, but how he would have preferred to see the man in jail for the rest of his life. It had been too easy for his godfather. The man was dead and he didn't have to deal with anything. Yet, there were Sam and Franck, still trying to come to grips with it, still sabotaging every relationship they were in with women for fear of intimacy, still afraid to tell their closest friends for fear of what they would think.
What was going to happen in the office?
The phone rang, interrupting his reverie, and the answering machine picked up.
"Sam, it's Toby. Just because I let you take a day off doesn't mean you get to sleep all day. I want your thoughts on the after dinner speech first thing tomorrow."
Sam smiled, not bothering to pick up. He knew what his boss was trying to do and he wasn't about to spoil it.
Turning on his computer, he sat down and got ready to begin. Toby valued normalcy and the easiness of their relationship almost as much as he did. Yes, he would make sure Sam was all right, but he wasn't about to turn into a mother-hen on him, which was a relief.
As for the rest... His therapist had taught him that he had to take it one day at a time, and he was actually getting good at it.
For now, he had an after diner speech to write, and possibly a story to finish. He knew he'd erase it from his computer as soon as it was done, just like he had with all the others, but sometimes it felt good to try to look at it from an outside perspective even if it was just for a few hours.
That had been Joyce's greatest gift to him, the day she'd dragged him on the street and showed him a little boy, around ten, walking hand in hand with his father.
"Look at him. For all you know, that man is abusing his son. You had moments like that with your uncle, didn't you?"
They had had moments like that, yes. Moments when they pretended everything was normal.
"Do you think it would be the fault of this boy if he wasn't able to push back a grown man twice his side, a man he trusts, a man who has a legitimate authority on him, on top of it?"
Sam had had to answer no. Which didn't make the fact that it had happened to him less horrible, of course, but it probably had been the beginning of an understanding that it was not his fault.
And maybe, just maybe, one day, he would feel comfortable enough to tell the rest of his friends what he'd lived through. For now, he was actually comfortable with one of them knowing.
"One day at a time," he thought, creating a new document, watching the cursor blinking. "One day at a time."
Feed me at email@example.com
Home What's New Author Listings Title Listings