Comfort through Trials - Basic Principles
Archive: If you want it, take it. Just let me know where it's going.
Spoilers: None that I know of.
Author's Notes: Sequel to "Comfort through Trials - Between the Lines".
Disclaimer: They're not mine, I just borrow them to play with.
Josh called Stanley. He's sitting on the couch now, taking detailed notes on the drugs Sam's going to be starting, but I just.... I can't deal with that right now. I should, but I can't. I just can't. My mind just happens to be stuck on Sam's face when he stormed out, and his voice when he called me..... I expect things like that from reporters. I expect it from other lawyers. I expect it from political operatives. I do not expect it from Sam. He's supposed to love me, not storm out Josh's.... no, of *my* place slamming doors and calling me names. And right now, I cannot deal with that.
Actually, I'm not sure if I can deal with much of anything. Josh keeps giving my these looks, like he'd prefer if I stopped beating his punching bag to death, but better this than the furniture, or the dishes. Josh is still talking to Stanley, and then I hear him say go ahead. "Put him on them as soon as you can." Suddenly, I feel so drained I can't stand it, and my right hook to the punching bag falls flat. "Lisa, you okay?" No, I'm not okay, and yes, I realize all the color drained out of my face. I just can't help it. Why am I doing this? I should be sitting in my nice office trying to convince Laurence that petroleum companies cannot be protected if they're going to steal oil out of Iraq. I should be doing that instead of standing here, staring at a punching bag because the man who convinced me to put my life on hold doesn't trust me.
My God, I put my life on hold to come back for Sam, and this is what happens. Why do I bother? I mean, it's Josh! Josh is.... Josh is.... Josh is Josh. I can honestly say in all the years I've known him, I have never once thought of Josh like, like *that*. Josh is like, well, not like my brother, because Paul a lot softer and squishier, but in that same league. Does Sam really think I'd sleep with Josh? Sleeping with Josh would be somewhere between incest and ickiness. How could he even think that?
"Lisa?" Right. Josh. He must think I've finally lost my mind. I guess I've just been standing here staring at the punching bag, because he grabs me by the shoulders and turns me around. I can't help it. I am going to explode. "I would never sleep with you!" Okay, that's not the part I meant to say out loud. Josh is speechless for a change. He's just got this weird amused look on his face. "Why not?" Excuse me? That is so not the response I was looking for. "Do I have cooties or something? Or am I too old for you?" See, this is pretty funny. Josh's ego cannot handle the fact that there is a woman on this earth that wouldn't sleep with him. I guess he'll have to turn to his fan club for a boost.
I can't help it. That look is hilarious, and I can't keep the giggles inside. Josh rolls his eyes, and just for that, I throw his boxing gloves at him. They were too big anyway, and I think my knuckles are going to have spectacular bruises tomorrow. I manage to hit him on the nose with one, and in the stomach with the other and he just stands there. I know Josh, and eventually he'll recover from that, but right now, I'm sweaty and I need a shower. Right after the lock clicks in the bathroom door, I hear Josh start to chuckle. Then two soft thuds hit the door. Ten bucks says I just missed being hit by boxing gloves.
I decided to wear my gray suit with a light blue blouse. I don't want to talk to Sam right now, and I don't want to stay here. Instead, I called Jamie for the first time since I came home to Washington. After today, well, I need my life back. I can't rely on Sam, and I don't want to rely on Josh, I want to rely on myself. On the other hand, I think I'd like to be near my friends, Josh for one, Jamie for another. I've spent most of my life in this city, and I let myself be chased away once by a man. I won't let it happen twice.
When I leave, Josh is at his laying on the floor sifting through a few tons of paperwork. Sometimes I wonder if his job is his whole life. Today, for example. I wish I could set aside the whole encounter with Sam so easily, but I just keep seeing his face, and hearing his voice, and I wish I didn't. I wish I didn't have clear and compelling evidence for Sam's complete lack of trust in me.
Josh lets me borrow his car, because I hate taking the Metro, and I never seem to find a cab for the trip home. I can always get there, but it takes me forever to get back. The drive to Virginia is quiet, and half of me wants to ask what Jamie's doing in McLean on a Sunday. Since I know what's in McLean, I don't think I want confirmation on that. I haven't been here in so long, I nearly get lost, but manage to find the coffee shop we're meeting at, and park without causing an international incident, which surprises me considering how badly my day is going.
I must be running late, because I have never, in a decade of friendship, known Jamie to be early. "Elizabeth Lloyd. I thought you fell of the face of the earth." Jamie extends a hand, and I grasp it, not bothering to control the grin tugging at the corners of my mouth. "James, how many times must I tell you. I didn't fall from the earth, I was in the witness protection program." He's laughing now, and it's been too long. It's really been too long.
"Have I mentioned you should be an investment broker with that name?" Of course, no matter how many years pass, Jamie will never change. "Then call me Lisa like everyone else in this country." Quite reasonably, he points out that I don't know everyone else in this country. Of course, logic isn't my friend today. Logic would suggest I would be having lunch with Sam, and dinner with Sam, and, once I've unpacked, a nap with Sam, or maybe a slumber party. Instead, I'm having lunch with Jamie, which, while enjoyable, isn't in the same ballpark.
"So tell me, what brings you back to DC?" Oh, my. Today is just not getting better. We're just going to skip this question and talk about work, or, more to the point, my lack of any substantive work in my life. "You know every seven years you replace all the skin cells in your body?" Wonderful trivia, Jamie, but why do I need to know this. "You keep shedding your skin all the time, trying new things, working in new fields..... I actually sort of envy that." I'm thrilled. See how thrilled I am? It's not like I've chosen to jump around like this. There have been serious reasons for every change in vocation I've attempted, at least, the reasons were serious to me, and isn't that reason enough? Besides, I might have done different things, but I've never been more than a step removed from law, because law is what I love. Making law, enforcing law, debating law. It inspires my inherant sense of justice and fair play, and it lights my fire. Almost as much as Sam, but let's not go there right now.
Jamie picks up on my mood. He ought to. He used to depend on my mood. Now, well, we haven't talked as much as either of us would like, but we're busy people. Too busy for real lives. At least, I was then, and I am now, but there was a time in there when I thought Sam and I were going to practice law, have 2.5 children and a dog, and live happily ever after. Guess I was wrong. I'm 37 years old. Sam is married to his job, and allergic to dogs, and he doesn't trust me. I think it's time to go back to basics.
"Jamie, do you have time to talk?" He orders another cup of coffee, and I start talking, starting with Jarrod Riley and getting clear up to this morning before he stops me. "Sam did what?" He walked out because he thought Josh and I slept together. Where in this story did I confuse you. "Josh Lyman?" I just nod. The coffee is weaker than I wanted, but at least it's not the black sludge Sam drinks. "The Josh Lyman who walked onto the floor of Congress in boxers and a tie?" Yes, Jamie. Do we know more than one Josh Lyman? Get real. "Does he think you have no taste?" Apparently.
By the time Jamie announces he has to head back, I have a job, but more importantly, I think I'm ready to face Sam now.