Comfort through Trials - Heated Words
Sam and Lisa # 17
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 - Basic Principles".
This is part of a series I am working on.
Disclaimer: They're not mine, I just borrow them to play with.
I must have fallen asleep, because before I know it, I'm waking up and
fumbling for my beeper. It takes me a second to find it, and when I look
at the display, I wish I hadn't. Leo? Leo wants me on a Sunday? Who did
we bomb, because that's the only thing I can think would be this
important today. Forget it. I'm just going to call in. Maybe I can fix
this over the phone.
"Leo?" Okay, it's probably not a good sign that he asks why I'm not on my
way in. He beeped me 30 seconds ago. Let's be human here. We did what?
Well, yeah, that would be bad, except I really don't care. I mean, it's
not my job to control what the President says, so why not call CJ or
Toby. Oh, so CJ's being shouted down by the press corps. Well, then call
Toby. Oh. I see. Well then call, wait, he can't call Sam, so I think I'd
better shut up. "I'll be right in Leo." No, now he wants me to call Sam
so he can write a statement for the President. Not much chance of that.
Okay Josh, time to think on your feet.
I hang up the phone, and scramble for my backpack, cell phone, and coat.
How did I manage to spread them throughout the living room? I'm halfway
out the door before I remember Lisa has my car. Damn. This day cannot get
any worse. Fumbling with speed dial, I manage to call both Donna and a
cab. She's not happy that I'm asking her to work on a Sunday, but I think
my voice is tense enough to bounce coins off the sound waves, so for
once, she doesn't argue.
The cab pulls up outside, and I hop in, thankful that the heater works,
and he doesn't debate with me when I tell him to take me to the White
House. I can't decide for a moment, and then I know what I have to do.
First I call Sarah's house, and then I call Stanley. I can hear the
disapproval in his voice when I ask about Sam's condition, especially
since I ask if he can come to work. You'd think I was asking if he could
come out and play. I'm all prepped to argue the point too, when Stanley
hangs up on me. Fine, now what I am supposed to do?
The cab driver gives me this look when we're waved through the front
gates. I hate that look. It's like they're trying to figure out if they
should ask for the fare or an autograph. I don't want to wait around for
him to come up with an answer, so I toss some bills at him, and climb
out. The fact that I can see Leo standing outside waiting for me doesn't
fill my heart with calm. Nope, just the opposite.
We fall into step as Leo tries to beat into my head the significance of
this. I think he missed the point of my opposition. After all, the
president is just that, the president. He's not God, he's not the pope,
he's not head of the UN, and this shouldn't have become an issue. It is
one though, and I do understand the significance, so if at any point you
want to stop treating me like a five year old, Leo, I would appreciate
My head hurts. Donna's trying to control the phone calls, but they're
still giving me a headache, not to mention I have never written a speech
in my life, and now doesn't seem like the time to learn. This isn't
something I'm allowed to screw up. Plus, Leo's going to want to know
where Sam is, and I can't exactly tell him Sam's shrink won't let him
come to work. Can I? Maybe there's a speechwriter on the hill somewhere
that would love to do some work for the president. I could have Donna
check. Wait! I've got a better idea.
"DONNA!" She doesn't yell at me not to yell at her, so I guess I'm
entitled to a little stress right now. If I only I knew all it took to
get permission to yell at Donna was an armed exchange somewhere in the
world. She gives me this look, like she can't believe my simple little
request, and then asks why I don't call Toby. Well, believe me, I would
love to call Toby, but Toby is pacifying Ambassadors, which is something
I should avoid doing. I'd start a nuclear exchange. You know, I don't
want to use that little card today. Today or any day, but today in
"Why don't you call Sam?" I wish people would stop asking me that. Just
because Sam's a speechwriter, doesn't mean he needs to write this speech.
Is it a bad sign that Donna's asking me how I feel? She's feeling my
forehead now, and for a second, I could have sworn she was channelling my
mother. "Just do it, Donna." You know, some people have supportive
assistants who do as they're asked. Of course, I'd better not say that to
Donna, or else she'll point out that most assistants don't dash in on a
Sunday for no overtime pay. Fine, get in line and make Josh guilty. Is
that what today is? Beat on Josh day?
I think Donna intends to make my miserable excuse of a life a bit worse,
but then the phone's ringing again, and she dives for it on the second
ring. I hear her placating the Majority Leader, and I decide listening to
that isn't going to help me think. Getting up, I close the door quietly,
and slump against it. The speech. Right. I'm supposed to have a speech
for the president by this evening. Now if someone would just tell me how
to write one, I'd be doing good.
"Would you like to tell me why Donna ordered me down here?" I suppress
the urge to ask how she's doing, because with that look, I think Lisa
might hurt me. "Yeah, 'cause in about two hours the President of the
United States is going to explain some comments he made before people
start shooting." She looks a little taken aback, and I can see the
question before it crosses her lips. "Toby is running around trying to
take everyone's temperature on this, and Sam is...." I don't finish the
sentence because she nods. She still looks skeptical though.
"I don't work for Bartlett." I know that. I know that, and I'm sure I'll
hear all about it from Leo, but right now, someone has to write this
speech. I'd love to try, but you know, I think whatever I'd say would
just make things worse. Besides, I haven't stopped working since I came
in, and I just don't think Leo would appreciate me referring everyone to
his office while I try my hand and writing the president's remarks.
She shakes her head at me, but picks up a legal pad and a pen from my
desk, and plops on the couch. She shrugs out of her jacket, and I notice
the way her blouse falls against her skin. Okay, mind out of the gutter
Josh. You've got work to do.