TITLE: Darkness


SERIES: Elements #6


SUMMARY: Sometimes new challenges confront us...Sometimes we confront them.

DISCLAIMERS/NOTES/ETC.: I still don't own em and thanks to Flip for betaing. This takes place maybe a week or so after "Heart"...And, for the record, I'll be in THIS fic-verse, they'd put curing cancer into the State of the Union! ::grins::

I didn't recognize him when I went to his office. My first thought was "When did Doug get back and why the hell is he in Sam's chair?" He was bent over his work and all I could see was the top of his head...Then he looped up and surely enough, it was Sam...just completely bad.

"Hey, Josh," he said glumly.


"How ya doin'?"

"Looks like my day's going better than yours."

"It sucks," he muttered. "Even TOBY has more hair than I do right now"

"It'll grow back..."


I suddenly remembered a moment when Dad was on chemo...he joked "at least I won't lose my hair" – he'd been balder than bald since he was, like, 40. Luckily I inherited...Some other hair gene.

"You okay? You don't look so good."

"Sure." He had already rolled up his sleeves which he normally didn't do 'til later in the day, and I swore he looked paler than usual – or maybe it was the light off his head, I wasn't sure.

"Ah-kay," I said simply, heading to my own office.

I returned to Sam's office at lunch time. "My God, Sam, it's-"

"I know, isn't it broiling? I've gotta go turn down the heat again."

"Sam, the temperature's sub-zero!"

"It's so hot..." he muttered, and I saw beads of sweat collected on his upper lip.

//Oh, shit,// I thought. "C'mon, Sam, let's get you home."

"I'm fine, just too hot...Okay, I'll go," he said quietly. "Let's go home..." Which was a sign that he had to feel REALLY lousy, if he wasn't even putting up his usual fight...

He stood-...and the next thing I knew, he was passed out on the floor. Toby heard the thud and rushed over. "What happened?"

"I don't know – he was too hot and I was gonna take him home and he passed out..."

Toby snatched the phone off the desk and called 9-1-1. More people were forming quite a curious crowd, but Donna held them at bay outside the door of the office. When the emergency squad arrived, it was like the parting of the Red Sea. They got Sam onto a stretcher and fired questions about his health, which Toby deferred to me 'cause I knew the answers.

On my way out with the paramedics, I passed Leo. "Call Mallory, tell her Sam's gonna be at GW," I called as I rushed past on my way to the ambulance. They let me ride in the back with Sam...in case he woke up during the ride.

He didn't.

Mallory showed up after about 10 minutes of me waiting in the hospital lobby. "What happened?" she demanded as she rushed in, in a flurry of red hair and a long black coat.

"He was too hot and I was gonna take him only he...fell over and passed out. Why don't you...y'know...sit down?"

She looked around a second before doing so, and while the clock said it was about 15 minutes before Dr. Carroll walked out, but it seemed like at least a couple hours. "Josh. Mallory."

"How's Sam?"

"He's contracted pneumonia. Because of the medications, his immune system isn't as strong as it should be. We've got him on IV antibiotics and he's in Isolation – I wanna keep him there at least a week. Maybe a little more, we'll have to see how he's doing."

"C-Can we see him?" Mallory asked.

"One at a time, ten minutes each every two hours. You'll have to scrub in, basically, all as precautions."

"I don't care, I-...I want to see him."

"He's out of it...I'm just warning you."

Mallory nodded and Dr. Carroll led us upstairs. Sam's room had a sort of room outside his room where we needed to get suited up. There was a big glass window where we could look through and see him and he looked...dead. So pale and frail and so much like...my father.

"You go first," Mallory murmured. So I went into the little room and I put on the white scrubs and hair net and gloves and mask and walked into Sam's cold, stark room.

"Hey, buddy," I said quietly, walking toward the bed. "You're givin' me and Mal quite a scare so just...cut it out, okay? Get better and...yell at us for making fuss when you're fine." I squeezed his shoulder. "I'm gonna go so Mal can...y'know...come see you and all that. Prob'ly yell at you for this." I smiled a little behind my mask. "I'll be back later – I promise."

I left the room and took off the scrubs. "Your turn," I said quietly to Mal, who quickly suited up.

I stood and watched her through the plate-glass window. So slow...so scared...She sat a little on the edge of his bed and ran her gloved hand over his cheek, then put her mouth near his ear, like she was telling him a secret.

She was like my surrogate little sister. So confident and brash and snarky and not afraid to tell Sam he was being full of crap...and so sweet and maternal at the same time, which was probably from teaching 10-year-olds...And I couldn't help but think //Sam, you couldn't possibly do better than to have Mallory through all this...and afterward.//

After her ten minutes of visitation, she walked back out to join me. She was trying very hard not to break down and cry, her shoulders quivering as she drew in sharp, shaking breaths. I held her close, my almost-sister, side-by-side as we looked through the window and watched Sam's chest rise and fall.





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