Title - In Those Days
Author - MelWil - 5 Parts
Category - General
Archive - Yep. Just tell me where please.
Additional Information - For the purposes of this fiction: in the year 2000 - Sam is 36, Josh and CJ are 39.
Part One of five
*Present Day: The West Wing*
The discussion was only ten minutes old but Sam was clearly not paying attention. This was both suprising and a little worrying to Josh, as the topic was tax reform, usually one of Sam's favourites. But then, Josh thought, even the most eager economist would have trouble enjoying tax talk when they were dealing with a nose running more than Niagara Falls and a cough that would make a jackhammer look both quiet and inconsistent. Josh stopped talking and looked at Sam seriously.
"Sam, are you even aware that you are pretty sick over there?" Josh asked, noting his friend's watery eyes and shaking hands.
Sam looked at him like Josh had just gone round the bend. "It's just a little flu. I can deal with it. Now lets get back to this.
Josh leant over and felt his forehead. "Sam, you're burning up. I'm going to call the First Lady."
Sam shook his head vigorously in protest. "Please don't do that Josh. There's just
too much going on at the moment to allow me to be sick."
Part Two of Five
*Present Day: The West Wing*
Unable to figure out what he should be doing, Josh was grateful that Donna and a Secret Service guy had turned up at the room seconds after Sam had hit the floor. The Secret Service man had jumped into action as Donna had made a beeline for Josh.
"What happened Josh?" Donna had asked him frantically.
"He had a cold, he was burning up. I told him..." Josh had felt so useless standing there. He was still standing there, watching as the White House doctors had come in to help. Now he was aware of Donna holding him up as the doctors examined Sam's still unconscious body. He nodded numbly as he was told that they thought it was pneumonia and that they would have to get Sam to a hospital now. For some reason, looking at Sam lying there, all Josh could think of was the first time he had met his friend...
"Yo Lyman. You ready for the big one?"
Josh slapped his baseball cap over his unruly hair and swung his backpack over one shoulder as he grinned at Bob Rutherford. "Are you kidding? It's only Princeton for crying out loud. I cannot ever remember their debating team posing a real challenge."
Bob joined him as they walked across the campus. "Yeah, well the word is that they've got some hot new freshman on board. Some kid from California. Great SATs, getting up towards your lofty heights in the verbal. He raked Notre Dame and NYU over the coals in their last match ups."
Josh shrugged as he and Bob went off on different paths. "I'm not worried. Since when has some freshman ever troubled the mighty Josh Lyman?"
Josh sat on his barstool in shock. He couldn't believe it. The topic had been incredibly easy, he should have tied the other team into inextricable knots. Instead they had been defeated, largely thanks to the annoyingly good tongue of the freshman. Josh dropped his head heavily on the bar, enjoying the hollow thumping noise it made. Suddenly he was aware of someone sitting on the stool next to him. Looking up he noticed that it was his debating nemesis, not only smiling, but also holding out his hand to Josh. Willing himself not to hit the guy, Josh grudgingly took the proffered hand.
"Hi. I'm Sam Seaborn." The freshman introduced himself to Josh.
"So I noticed. Josh Lyman."
"Good job tonight. You were a hard debate." Summoning the bartender, Sam got himself a coke and after taking a mouthful, once again smiled at Josh.
"Yeah." Josh replied. "You know, this is my fourth year of college debating. I've beaten debaters from around the world. In fact, I have never lost. How on earth did you manage to win back there?"
"I like to fight and I like to win. Listen, to get your mind off tonight, do you want to play some poker? There's a few guys over there who want to win back the money they lost when they bet on you to win tonight." Sam swallowed the last of his coke and looked at Josh expectantly.
"Sure, OK." Josh agreed. Then he thought for a second. "Hold on, am I going to lose to you here as well?"
"Probably." Sam replied. "I've got a really good poker face."
Part Three of Five
*Present Day: The West Wing*
CJ smiled as she stepped down from the podium. Her last briefing for the day had gone well and even her jokes had drawn laughs from an unusually responsive audience. At the door she met Carol who was holding out a piece of paper to her.
"What's this?" she asked, confused at the panicked look on Carol's face.
"It's a message from Josh." Carol informed her. "Sam collapsed while you were up there. You've got to get out to the hospital."
CJ's good mood suddenly fell away as she rushed to her office, barely allowing Carol to keep up. "Does everyone else know?" she asked her assistant.
Carol nodded. "They didn't want it to hit the press yet, not with everything we've got on. So they waited for you to get the lid on, rather than interrupting you."
CJ grabbed her coat and sped down the hall. "Hold the fort will you?" she called over her shoulder. She rushed out of the West Wing and towards her car. Starting up the engine, the radio suddenly blasted out a familiar happy song that had always reminded her of Sam.
CJ was not having fun. The party was very California, all big and brash and loud, and she was having a great amount of trouble understanding why she was here in the first place. Well, actually, she was here because the tickets had been free and she'd had a dress she had wanted to wear out for ages. Lastly it was either this or another long night spent studying long forgotten polls and trends.
Forcing her way across the room, CJ kept her eye out for a faint glimmer of intelligent conversation among the mutterings about Madonna and Aaron Spelling. However all she had found was a strange longing for her quiet apartment and a pile of books. That was, until someone stepped on her toes.
The music had suddenly changed into some rhythm CJ couldn't understand and she had found herself being pushed back and forth by a mob of dancing people. To her great annoyance, someone's foot had somehow managed to plant itself, right on top of her brand new, open toed high heel. As waves of pain crossed her features, CJ found herself being steadied by the owner of that clumsy foot.
"I'm so sorry. I couldn't move. I just found myself being pushed... I am so, so sorry."
Rather than being angry, CJ found herself feeling sympathy for this man. And, she admitted to herself, it didn't hurt that he was kind of nice to look at, younger than her, but very acceptable eye candy. Laughing at his attempts to apologize to her, she linked her arm through his and led him off the dance floor without any further casualties.
"Do you want to go for a walk outside?" She asked him. "We might be able to hear ourselves thinking out there."
He nodded and they walked towards the exit. "I'm Sam Seaborn, by the way." He informed her.
"Pleased to meet you. I'm CJ Cregg." She replied.
"What does CJ stand for?" He asked with a smile.
"None of your business, Mr. you just stepped on my expensive shoes." She replied hitting him lightly on the arm.
"Are you trying to spank me there?" He asked cheekily.
"You wish Spanky." She replied as they stepped out into the moonlight.
CJ sighed as the night finally came to an end. Sam had been great to talk to. He was a lawyer, raised in California like her, but just out on a visit right now. They shared similar views on things and both professed a wish to move into the serious political sphere except for the lack of decent candidates. They had ended up in some cheesy diner, totally out of place in their fancy clothes. Finally at about 3am the jukebox had played an old sixties song and Sam had held out his hand to her.
"Wish to dance?" he asked her.
"Will you promise not to step on my toes?" She replied
Part Four of Five
*Present Day: The Hospital*
Toby paced up and down the hospital corridor. CJ and Josh were sitting in the waiting room, trying to keep their minds busy. None of them particularly liked hospitals, not since they had spent so much time in them after the shooting. Toby noticed that Josh was looking particularly uncomfortable and he hoped that CJ's presence next to Josh would be steadying. As he rubbed the back of his neck, Toby realized how tired he was and silently cursed Sam for getting sick at such a late hour.
Josh smiled as Donna turned up carrying coffees for him, CJ and herself. Donna noticed his expression change and looked at him quizzically.
"Why the smile Joshua? I thought you got worried when I bought you coffee." She asked, trying to keep her tone light.
"Well I'm already worried and jumpy." He replied. "I suppose that means I'm not so freaked out about you actually doing your job."
CJ ignored Josh and Donna's little conversation. The two of them could go on for hours like that, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing, not if it kept Josh's mind occupied. Instead she turned her attention to Toby who was still prowling up and down in front of them. CJ knew how much Toby cared for Sam, even if he was loath to admit it. Until they had received news about Sam's condition, CJ was pretty sure that Toby wouldn't stop. She knew that it was useless to say anything to him though, so she just sat silently watching him pace the linoleum floor.
Thoughts were flying madly through Toby's head. Maybe he should have been able to see how bad Sam's cold was. Maybe he shouldn't have worked him so hard. Toby quickly dismissed these thoughts. Sam knew how demanding the job was, but he was also very hard to drag away from working, especially if things were busy. In fact, Toby admitted, Sam was almost as much of a workaholic as he was. Of course Toby hadn't always worked this hard in the past.
*1998: New Hampshire*
Toby felt he was happiest when he had a good drink in his hand. It had been this way since Andie had left him. The minute that she had slammed the door behind her, he had found himself a glass of scotch. He noticed that his constant patronage of bars often earned him concerned glances from Leo, but mostly he ignored it.
Right now the drink he was holding wasn't particularly good. Not that it would stop him from drinking it, he thought, as suddenly his peace was broken. Josh Lyman had just burst through the door of the almost empty bar and had made a beeline for Toby.
"Toby. I'm glad I found you. I'd like you to meet Sam Seaborn. I finally managed to steal this guy away from the big law firms." Toby turned slightly to look at the man standing next to Josh. As far as Toby could tell, this guy looked barely older than a teenager, wearing a terribly goofy grin across his face. Toby held out his hand to the newcomer.
"I'm Toby Zeigler." He introduced himself.
"Oh, I know." Sam replied. "I've read a lot of what you've written. In fact, I could probably call you my favourite writer."
Toby nodded shortly and turned back to his drink. The sooner he finished this one the sooner he could get onto the next. And with this new kid around, working with him, he was probably going to need all the alcohol he could get.
"Honestly Sam!" Toby exclaimed, "That's a lovely description of children but where the hell are you going with it? Maybe you would like to try a verb every now and then."
Sam shrugged. "Imagery is important. It allows the voters to get a total picture."
Toby felt his grip on his pen tighten. "It's giving the voters a pretty picture, but unless you tell them what we're going to do about homeless children, they're not really getting anything."
Sam threw his hands up. "Ok, ok. What would you write?"
Toby leaned in towards the computer screen. "How about this?" he said as his fingers flew across the keyboard.
Sam silently read the corrections his new boss had made to his text. "That is just amazing."
"Thanks" Toby replied. "See what verbs will do for you."
Sam looked up at the older man, examining his face. "Toby, when you're writing you get this peaceful look on your face. You know, you never wear that face when you're drinking. So why, I wonder, do you continue to drink so much if it doesn't bring you any peace?"
Toby shrugged. "You know, it's really none of your business."
Sam nodded. "Just wondering. I just wondered if you knew that your words give other people as much pleasure as they give you. I'm pretty sure drinking doesn't do that."
"Leave it Sam." Toby didn't want to go there.
"Why don't you?"
Toby looked at Sam. Maybe the man had a point. It was true that he felt good when he was writing, especially when he wrote for Bartlett. Maybe this young writer wasn't so bad after all, in fact there might even be a future for him. And maybe one day Toby would even be able to make him love his verbs.
Part Five of Five
*Present Day: The Hospital*
The doctor strode out the room and towards the spot where the three people were sitting. The moment he reached them, another man rushed to join them. Quietly he explained to them how the pneumonia was serious and that they would have to keep him in for a few days, but he was stable and he was going to make it.
Josh let out an enormous sigh. Sam would be ok, he would come back again and everything would go back to normal. He hated to admit it, but his fear of hospitals went back to before the shooting. Since his father's death, he always had a suspicion that there was a conspiracy from the hospitals towards the people he cared for. Well he had been wrong about that. Maybe, he mused, he might be wrong about other things. Nope, he disagreed, that could never happen.
CJ had felt her heart skip a little when the doctor had come out. She owed her life to Sam and his actions and the thought that he might not be ok had ripped through her like a hurricane. Silently she extended her arm to Toby, inviting him to come and sit down next to her.
Toby felt the greatest weight lifting from his shoulders as he processed the doctor's words. Sam had helped him out beyond all belief back in the campaign. He had allowed Toby to enjoy writing again. He had stopped him from leaving the tracks and had aided in making Toby who he was. And if that meant that sometimes he fought with Sam over a few sentences, at least Sam would be there to fight with.