Comfort through Trials - Holding On

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

Rating: PG

Spoilers: ITSOTG (Just that one line.....)

Author's Notes: This is part of a series I am working on.

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

I don't think this hallway is ever going to end. Then again, maybe that's
a good thing. I have to stop if for no other reason than to control my
thoughts. Evil pictures keep creeping in, like, what if he died while I
was on my way from the airport. Leaning against the wall, I take deep
breaths to control myself.

It's harder than I thought, but I do calm down enough to creep down the
hallway. Josh's room is easy to spot, after all, not every room has armed
guards outside. I whisper my name. I suppose some small part of my mind
thinks I might wake him from here. The taller one rifles through some
papers and nods to his colleague. Then I'm oblivious to everything else
because the door swings open.

Josh is drowning in a sea of bandages and it hurts to see him like this.
It hurts more than it should because I know I should have come to see him
sooner. Before he was in the hospital, before he was in pain. Stepping
softly in the room, I feel a smile tug at my lips. There is a woman
sitting in the chair next to his bed, asleep, with her head resting atop
arms folded on his hospital bed. This must be Donna. Josh must be hiding
things from me. No assistant in the world would be camped out in her
boss' hospital room, especially at 3 am. Of course, I've been ribbing him
for ages about her being special to him, I just didn't think I was *that*

The empty chair looks inviting and jet lag must be kicking in, because I
feel myself drawn towards it. Sliding off my jacket, I drape it over the
back of the chair. Sinking into the hospital plastic, I reach out and
slip my fingers through his. The woman, the one I think is Donna, holds
his other one, and for the first time since I heard about the shooting I
feel better. My Joshua sleeps now, anchored by two women who love him.


I can't quite place the soft rustling, and my mind won't rest now that
it's been disturbed. Opening my eyes, I see the source of the sound, as
Donna moves quietly in her chair. I was being studied, and now that we're
both awake, I smile softly at her. We both look terrible, and suddenly I
understand why Josh loves coffee. Right now I would love something to
help me function on very little sleep.

She whispers her name and raises an eyebrow at me. Obviously I'm not
lunchtime discussion, which is, I'm sure, as it should be. I stand
corrected, he must have mentioned me because when I introduce myself, she
nearly leaps out of the chair gushing that she's heard so much about me.
Now it's my turn to raise an eyebrow, but she plunges ahead, explaining
that she checks Josh's e-mail. The price I pay for emailing him at work.
I wouldn't, but his computer at home is a relic of the ice age. I'm sure
Donna and I could keep each other company with hours of Josh related
tales, but right now, our joint focus is on projecting him strength. I
don't know if it's working, but I like to think my prescience is helpful.

When the door opens, the newcomer clears his throat. I have my back to
the door, so I don't pay much attention. That is, until Donna turns and
greets him. Sam. Time moves in slow motion as I turn to face him. He
sucks in his breath then, and I realize, he didn't know who I was until
just now. It feels rather strange actually. He used to know the moment I
walked through the door.

I disentangle Josh's hand from my own, and rise to meet him. We size each
other up for a long moment. He still looks the same, maybe a bit older,
with a few more lines, but I think his job created those more than the
passage of a few years. I know I must look horrible right now, but I
wasn't worried about that last night when I scrambled to get a flight to
DC. He doesn't say anything, for which I'm thankful. My powers of speech
haven't recovered yet. I should have known he'd be here, after all, he's
known Josh for almost as long as I have, they work together. I should
have expected. I wasn't thinking clearly, but then again, he probably
isn't either.

We step into the hallway, as if by some tacit agreement not to disrupt
Donna's vigil. Finally, I manage to find my voice. "Sam, it's good to see
you. I just wish the circumstances were better." It takes him a moment,
but finally he swallows and his voice comes forth, a bit raspy from lack
of sleep, or stress, or both. "I tried to call you. I knew Josh would
want to see you, and you'd worry. I knew you kept in touch, but I
couldn't find a current number and...." I rest my hand on his shoulder.
He's rambling, and I think history is definitely a mixed blessing right
now. On one hand, we don't want to admit we need each other at this
moment, in the hallway of this hospital, but then again, after all this
time, we don't need to say the words.

Abruptly, he wraps his arms around my shoulders, and I tuck my head under
his chin. He smells like stale coffee, and gun powder, and.... and Sam,
and it's comforting. We stand there together for what seems like hours,
and then I feel the sobs he's trying to control. They're shaking his
chest, but he refuses to make a sound. Before I know it, I can feel the
tears streaking down my cheeks and dampening his dress shirt.

Closing my eyes, I give silent thanks to Josh for introducing us all
those years ago. I still remember Josh introducing the new kid on the
hill to his roommate. Sam just stared for a second and asked,
dumbfounded, 'your roommate's a girl?' My heart swooned at the thought
that anyone that innocent could still exist. Of course, that same
innocence had destroyed us as well, the moment Sam picked up a sword and
marched off the slay his dragons with Josh, and I choose to stay behind.
Corporate law certainly wasn't the most noble of professions, but not
even the dynamic duo could convince me I wanted to go back to the hill,
not after Hoynes.

Sam's crying too now, and I hope, for his sake, that the press isn't
watching. Somehow, after the whole incident with the call girl, and what
Josh wrote about their boss' daughter, I don't think Sam needs a photo
with me right now. Days might have passed for all I know, but when we
finally pull away, it's been only moments. I reach a hand up to wipe the
tears tracks from his face, and he does the same for me. In my mind, I
can picture us, supporting each other, the way we intended to, but in the
same breathe, I remember all the Washington widows I met during my time
here, and I remember how I swore I would not marry a man married to
politics. I'll stand by that, even if it means my best friend and my Sam
are here while I'm in New York.

I look up at him, then I turn to walk away, back to Josh's room, to make
sure he hasn't slipped away in my absence. "Lisa." Sam stops me with
something as simple as my name. I turn, and he closes the distance with
quick steps. Cupping my chin in his hand, he raises it, and lowers his
lips to meet mine. The kiss is familiar, and chaste. Fireworks fail to
explode around us, and he releases me. Perhaps something I thought had
slipped away still remains by a thread, but that doesn't change who we
are. Sam Seaborn still works for the President, and I still refuse to
return to DC. Too much pain here, even for Sam to heal. Josh knew that,
and I think he knew how much he would hurt us when he asked Sam to come
along for the ride.

I steal back into the hospital room. Again my free hand laces into
Josh's, but this time, my other hand in captured into Sam's and he kneels
on the ground beside my chair. We share Donna's vigil, lost in our own
hopes for the future.



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