Comfort through Trials - Fallout
Sam and Lisa # 22

Archive: If you want it, take it. Just let me know where it's going.

Rating: PG

Spoilers: Noel

Author's Notes: Sequel to "Comfort through Trials - Homecoming."
This is part of a series I am working on.

Disclaimer: They're not mine, I just borrow them to play with.


I'm watching my best friend self-destruct. I should have seen it. I mean,
Josh and I are seldom fighting, but before we got on the plane to
California, we had been at odds. At throats on occasion, but I thought
Josh was being Josh. At the funeral, I wasn't..... Josh might not have
been there for all I know. He was, but I just didn't pay attention. At
the house, after, Lisa left me for a while. She must have talked to Josh,
because on the flight home, while he and Sarah were sleeping, she leaned
over and asked about the pilot. Funny, but I think she put the pieces
together a long time before I even knew there was a puzzle.

Today, I knew there was a puzzle. I mean, there's a line. There's a line
and you don't cross it. When he yelled at Leo, I was worried, but I
didn't know. I couldn't have known. I should have known, because Josh is
my best friend, and I ought to notice when he starts to fall apart.
Today, I knew he was falling apart. He just, he yelled at the President.
He yelled at the President in the Oval Office, and I couldn't understand
it. You do not yell at the President. There's just, there's this line you
cannot cross. Josh was dancing so far on the other side, I don't think he
could still see the line.

It was like watching a car accident. You want to stop watching, you need
to stop watching, but you can't tear your eyes away. Josh, it's just the
SPR. It's not life and death. The IMF loans aren't life and death either.
Take it down a notch and walk away, Josh. Please. One moment I'm watching
you act like the Deputy Chief of Staff, and the next moment, I'm watching
you morph into my father. I'm pretty sure my face has one of those 'deer
in the headlight' looks, but it's like a car accident. I have to walk
away, but I can't. I can't walk away, and I can't avert my eyes, because
I'm not ready to watch Josh fall to pieces.

When the President dismisses us, half of me wants to run to Leo's office
and make sure Josh is...... But I can't do it. I don't know what to say
to him. I'm not sure what to do, and I'm not sure who he is right now. I
have to walk away. He's acting too much like my father now. I have to
walk away. Leo will take care of him. God, I hope Leo will take care of
him.

*

Cathy is standing at the door, with a funny look on her face. I guess I
was just staring off into space. She wants to leave, and I'm not sure
what time it is, but she's telling me the only thing left on my schedule
is the Christmas party. She even had my tuxedo rented. White tie. Who
still wears white tie? I wave at her as she turns to leave, and wishes me
a Merry Christmas. She's wished me a Merry Christmas every night this
week, and by Christmas, it might start to get old.

Christmas party. The Congressional Christmas party. With Yo-Yo Ma.
Realizing that I still have an extra invitation, I have to ask myself if
the President would notice an empty chair. I guess I should have asked
Cathy to give it away, I mean, she didn't want it, but maybe she knows
someone that would like to go. It's too late though, she'll be on her way
out the gates by now, so unless I want to sentence myself to an evening
of Christmas trivia, I'd better get on the phone.

"You already have a date?" Now this bothers me. When I call Lisa, I don't
expect her to drop everything and come with me, but I also don't expect
her to tell me she has a date to the Christmas party. "With who?" No, the
wasn't envy, jealousy, or anything other than some vague sense of
curiosity. I mean, I know Josh gave his other invitation to Donna, so the
obvious suspects are out of the question. She has a date? I end the call
by saying I'll see her tonight, but the only reason I'm not still
interrogating her, is because she has a meeting to go to.

Fine, I'll just send the invitation over to the hill. I know some
congressional office would be happy to invite a contributor. In fact, I
think I'll send it over to the DNC. It's Yo-Yo Ma. Someone will come.

*

Josh looks..... he looks better. I'm sitting in the row behind him, and
I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I don't want to have this
conversation with him just yet. I'm still scouting the room for Lisa, and
I know I'm being left out of the loop. Josh is leaning forward, talking
to CJ and Leo about the... actually, I don't know what they're talking
about. I almost lean forward to ask Donna what it is, but then Lisa walks
in. I think my jaw's somewhere down around my knees. Maybe it's on the
floor, I'm not sure.

I don't usually get to see Lisa like this. She doesn't get dolled up for
me, and she doesn't twist her hair up for me, and she doesn't wear
dresses like that for me. I am jealous. Plus, I am so much better
conversation then Senator Gilbert. He's flirting with her, I can see it
across the room. Of course, she's also holding onto his arm, and laughing
at jokes I can't hear from here. I want to get up, and go do something,
but the President is walking in now, and everyone is taking their seats.
She sitting next to him across the room. Okay, now how am I supposed to
listen to the cello when Lisa and Thomas Gilbert are sitting somewhere
behind me?

I make it through Yo-Yo Ma's performance alright, but the instant the
music stops, and the President rises, I see Lisa rushing through the
crowd. I almost think she saw me and spent the last hour thinking about
me, but she goes right past me to Josh. Then I notice it. Josh is
shaking. Not like he's cold, but like he's...... actually, I don't know
what to compare it to, but Donna has him by the arm, and she's trying to
pull him out of his seat. He doesn't budge though. Josh doesn't stand for
the President, and he won't get out of the chair. Suddenly, I don't think
he can. He looks like..... Josh looks like death warmed over.

When Lisa stops in front of him, she looks at Donna, and something
unspoken passes there. She looks up then, and meets my eyes, and then
kneels down in front of Josh. Alright, so neither of them plan to stand
for the President, but she's getting up now. She's still talking quietly
to Josh, but I don't think he's hearing anything she says. Lisa and Donna
are pulling Josh to his feet now, and as soon as the President stops with
his neverending address to Congress, Lisa and Donna lead him out of the
room.

I tried to follow them, but Gilbert heads me off, trying to talk to me
about Lisa. Asking me if we're serious. I'm trying to blow him off
without alienating the ranking democrat on the foreign relations
committee. I'm failing. Finally, I blurt out the fact that Lisa and I are
engaged, and push past him. By the time I get to Josh's office, Margaret
is standing outside the door, telling me Lisa and Donna ordered her not
to let another living soul inside. I'm trying to argue with her, but
after the incident at Leo's door, I don't think she's in the mood to
humor me.

Eventually, I grab a chair from the bullpen and drag it over, throwing my
jacket over the back, and sitting down. Even if Margaret won't let me in,
that doesn't mean I'm leaving. After what seems like hours, but my watch
says it's been only minutes, the door opens and Donna steps out. Tears
are streaming down her face, and as soon as she sees me, she rushes over,
and stands in front of me for an instant. That's all the longer it takes
for me to jump to my feet and slip my arms around her. Her voice cracks
as she tells me that she's worried to death about him - that she can't
take it any more. Then she tells me about the pilot. He sitting there
with Lisa, babbling about the pilot, and the sirens, and not making any
sense.

Margaret leaves then, and I pull Donna's chair and mine together. We sit
there for a long time, just waiting for the door to open again. When it
opens, I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm ready. For so long, I've been
trying not to see, and now my eyes have been pried open. Josh is dying in
there, and I want to be there. He said once, he wanted to comfort us, and
help us, and be there for us. Now it's time we were all there for him.

 

 

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