Comfort through Trials - Shades of Grey

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

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: The Portland Trip

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

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

Monday. I have so many other places I should be right now, but instead of
any of them, I'm concocting a story Josh can feed to Leo about why he and
Sam can't come in. That's the easy part. When I'm through, Josh is going
to call Laurence and tell him I died over the weekend. Well, not really,
but I'm all out of excuses for running to DC. The truth would get me off
the hook, but I can't tell him that. That would sort of destroy the whole
point of keeping it secret.

Josh hangs up the phone with this odd look on his face. "Well?" He told
Leo that he wasn't feeling well and Sam was staying with him. Half of me
wonders what Donna is going to do, but the other half knows that Leo will
take that excuse without question. I'll call Donna and at least tell her
Josh is fine, but that can wait a few hours. I'm not sure if I can
concoct something as plausible, but I'll try. Laurence sounds tired. That
could work to my benefit.

"Lisa, you have to be here." Okay, I really can't leave Sam right now, so
what am I supposed to do. "No, Laurence, I don't, and I can't." Is it a
bad sign when he says it doesn't matter if I'm on my death bed, but I had
better be in the boardroom in three hours. It takes me a half second to
reach a decision, and Josh's head snaps up from the couch when he hears
it. "Then I quit." You know, it feels pretty satisfying to know I won't
ever have to defend corporate sludge again, and it feels better to know I
can stay with Sam.... in DC. Well, I'll deal with the DC part of the
equation later. No reason I have to see anyone I don't want to, at least
for now.

"Did you just...." Yes, Josh, you heard it and I did it. I quit. I am now
doing this really awesome mental back flip over the whole thing. Except
now I can hear Sam moan in his sleep. He's been like something from the
Night of the Living Dead all weekend. Josh and I have followed Stanley's
directions to the letter, taking his temperature, his blood pressure, his
pulse, and counting how many breaths he takes while he sleeps, not to
mention describing all of his tremors and dizzy spells over the phone
while he sleeps. I'm sure we've annoyed him to no end, but orders are
orders. Josh claims he now understands why Donna and I spent months with
circles under our eyes. He should. We pampered him. He should be glad I
left town before the election. I wouldn't have let him outside.

Now that the drug is starting to work itself out of Sam's system, he's
been coming closer and closer to being okay, but he's just not there yet.
He's still weak, and he won't eat, and his vision's fuzzy. I didn't know
about that until he walked into a wall. Yesterday he tripped over a
chair, and Josh got this concerned look. He said he thinks maybe Sam had
a problem with his drugs last fall and no one knew. Typical. Does he
think Sam randomly falls over things?

This is pretty bad though, and I have to wonder what we're going to do if
Sam has an episode. I've never seem him have one, but his mother told me
if was pretty scary. One day he'd be bouncing off the walls, running
marathons, staying up all night, and remodeling the house, and the next
day he wouldn't get out of bed, and if he did, he'd just open his
textbooks, and cry. I can count the times I've seen Sam cry on one hand.
Mrs. Seaborn told me they never would have taken him to see a shrink if
he hadn't...... She said his first year of college he tried to kill
himself. I asked him about it once, and he just shrugged. Told me it
seemed like a good idea at the time. Come to think of it, maybe I should
have asked for more details, you know, considering the present situation.

I leave Josh on the couch, where he's only half asleep and go in the
bedroom to check on Sam. He's sprawled across the bed, with the sheets
wrapped around his waist. I am so tired, I can almost ignore the pulse of
adrenaline I still feel. I'm afraid to disturb him though, so once I
check on him, listening to make sure he's still breathing, like my mother
used to do to us when we were little, I go back to the living room.

Stealing the quilt off of the couch, I move to curl up on the floor, but
Josh protests. He claims there's no reason why we can't share. Of course,
it wouldn't be the first time we've shared a couch. We used to both crash
on the couch in the whip's office, and the one in Hoynes' office, and of
course, we lived together, strictly as roommates, for close to six years,
so he's right. We should be able to share nicely.

Josh slides over on the couch, and I collapse. Forget the adrenaline. I'm
exhausted. Josh slips an arm around my waist so I don't fall off of the
couch and pulls the quilt over us. I fall asleep to the sound of his
breathing, and remember to thank the stars that Josh is still alive to
see me through this before I fall asleep.


My eyes snap open, and the feel of Josh's arm around me makes me pause
for a second. It was only a dream. It was only a dream. I'm just going to
get up slowly so that Josh can sleep and tiptoe in the bedroom to prove
to myself that Sam is just fine. See, I know I was asleep and it must
have been a dream, so I am going to walk across the room, and.... Who am
I kidding? I dash barefoot the 10 feet to the bedroom door and throw
myself inside. My heart hammers a bit, and I lean over, brushing his hair
away from his face before I can convince myself that Sam is still

This is crazy. Why does he have to scare me like this? Is avoiding a
little press worth risking his health? Shaking my head, I realize that it
probably is, and I'm not sure I'm ready to deal with that little
realization. I should have been around to notice he wasn't well, but
instead I was in New York, hiding from the monster under the bed. Before
Friday night, or uh, Saturday morning, whichever 2:30 in the morning
counts as, I hadn't spoken with him since he got back from Portland.
Seriously, almost a week without speaking to him, and why? I'm not sure
what the answer is.

Christmas is still a few weeks away, and he's been talking about coming
with me to visit my mother. I'm not sure that's such a good idea right
now. My mother still looks at American politics like we just cut the cord
from the mother country, and between those.... lively debates, and Sam's
health.... No, I'd be perfectly happy here, with Sam and maybe Josh. If,
of course, he wants to give up the 'but I'm Jewish' defense and eat
cookies and fruit cake with us.

Suddenly, this room feels rather suffocating, and I can't help but wonder
what would have happened if Sam hadn't called me. He might have died, and
for what? So that the White House could avoid a scandal that may or may
not happen anyway? No, it's really suffocating in here. I have to get
out. Just for a while, but I have to get out.

Josh is still asleep when I go back through the living room, sitting on
the floor to pull on socks and boots. Jeans and a sweatshirt seem pretty
normal clothes, and I try to imagine that I'm just going for a walk. I
don't know what I'm really doing, so I'm not going to try and figure it
out. I grab my coat and turn up the collar before stepping into the
hallway. He'll be fine for an hour, but I have to get out of there.

Testing myself, I run down the stairs. The cold air shakes some of the
cobwebs loose from my lungs, and I take deep breaths, trying to remember
what December feels like. In New York it's just this wet sludge, but
here, there's already the bite of snow in the air. I'm not dressed to go
running, but I jog down the street anyway. The pavement pounding feels
great, and I'm not sure where I'm headed until I glance at a street sign.
Donna. I'm headed for Donna's. Well, while Josh was recovering, I learned
her cats hate me, no, correction, her roommate's cat's hate me, which is
just fine, because I'm a dog person anyway. That reminds me, I'll have to
call Mrs. Johnson and make sure Paul picked up Czar. I can't remember if
I left him a note, but he's smart enough to figure it out.

I didn't wear a watch, but by the look of things, I dozed most of the
day. Maybe with Josh not at work, Donna's home by now. Only one way to
find out. The scaffolding leading up to her apartment is rusty, and I
grew to loathe it over the summer, but I suppose one more trip up won't
hurt. Pounding on the door yields no answer, and I can't help but wonder
if she went over to Josh's to check on him. I shrug before I realize I'm
alone, and don't have to explain the look on my face to anyone. Rifling
through my pockets, I scrawl her a note so she doesn't worry about Josh
and slip it back under the door.

When my feet hit the street again, I realize I don't know exactly how to
get to Sam's place from Donna's. Or, at least not on foot. The way I
usually drive isn't very safe, and I didn't pay attention to the way I
came. It doesn't matter. I think I'll just walk around for a while and
call a cab. Even if DC doesn't have as many cabs as New York, they've got
enough, and if I wait until after rush hour, I shouldn't have any problem
finding one.

Is that...... Speak of the devil and the devil appears. Isn't that how
the saying goes? It doesn't quite make sense, because I go out of my way
not to talk about him. Since I've been with Josh or Sam, who I will not
tell about this, every moment since I got to DC Saturday, the saying
really doesn't fit, because I know I didn't speak of him. He doesn't see
me, but I'm not paying that much attention to anything else right now,
because when I hear the screeching sound, it's too late to react.

That feeling, of being hit, seems to pass over me, because I experience
fear, and that much talked about rush of adrenaline, however, that fight
or flight trigger doesn't do a lot for me, because I don't move, and I
can't out wrestle it. When it's over, I don't feel anything. It's really
sort of weird that way.

I hear someone asking me my name, and I try to answer them, but my mouth
doesn't obey my brain. Licking my lips, I close my eyes, and try again.
Okay, this time, I think I said if. If not, I came damn close. You know,
I feel tired now. More tired than before I lay down on the couch with
Josh. Oh, right, I meant to tell Donna about Josh, I should have. She'll
be worried. Thinking there's a problem. Shouldn't have let him use that
excuse. I'm really tired now, and I think I'll close my eyes.

I hear sirens in the distance, and when I open my eyes again, they're not
in the distance, they're right in front of me. How did that happen? You
know, everything's sort of dark around the edges. It's really nothing
like Josh described. No, I'm not thinking like that. I can't be. The
paramedic is reaching into my coat pockets now. He's asking my name, but
I don't have the energy to repeat myself. He finds the bottle in my coat
pocket. It has Sam's phone number on the prescription. They'll call, and
then Josh will come, but who will stay with Sam? Maybe he'll call Donna
to stay with Sam. I think he'd call Leo, but then he'd have to tell him,
and Josh doesn't like to make Leo mad.

It's really sort of dark around the edges, and I must have run too much,
because I feel hot all of a sudden, and I'm not sure why. I just........
Yeah, it's nothing like Josh described.



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