Forgiveness
Cold Keys Series part 4
---MC

Tales of C.J.'s revenge upon Sam reached epic proportions in the West Wing. Embellishment occurred, of course, and one version had Sam on his knees begging for forgiveness in the rose garden.

Toby, Leo, Josh and the President tortured Sam at every opportunity. That's what little brothers were for, they reasoned.

Sam, being Sam, endured it without losing his temper and just hoped it would blow over. It wasn't like he'd slept with a call girl or anything. There was limited spin on his latest fiasco.

C.J. still avoided him. That made him unhappy. The more he thought about it, the more morose he became. Okay, I'm a writer, he mused, maybe I should start writing some sappy tragic poetry about it. No. Maybe not.

He thought about her a lot. He remembered her blushing in his office when she told him he was sexy. But he wasn't embarrassed about that any more. He was intrigued.
Could C.J. Cregg actually see him that way? Did he see her that way? He flipped the thoughts in his mind while he worked.

Well, yeah, he thought. I'm a guy. She's a beautiful woman. But I never thought about the actuality.

During the next week, the President was out on the speaking circuit, and C.J. was with him. Toby, under protest, went to make speech revisions.

Two days into the trip, Toby's voice boomed over Sam's speaker phone. "Sam, I swear I will hurt the President if he doesn't stop dropping stupid jokes into the speeches. He actually thinks people want to hear about cow-tipping in Iowa-"

"Toby..."

"--We have three more stops to make and one of them is Texas. He'll make hat jokes and it'll take us months to spin it under control."

Sam tried again, "Toby."

"What! Can't you see I need a rant here?"

"Yeah. Toby, they moved the Keller case up."

Toby was quiet for a moment. "The case where the ATF agent is suing his own agency for not letting him confiscate the load of AK 47's."

"Yeah."

Toby remembered the case vividly. Keller's partner was shot three times in the chest when the same guns were used in a drug raid a few days later. He died even though he was wearing a Kevlar vest.

"How's it going to play, Sam?"

"I think Keller's going to be very convincing to the Grand Jury. He's admonishing his own system. His friend died and they could have prevented it. If they'd been allowed to seize the guns the first time, and not wait to try to get the drugs, his partner would be alive and watching his kid's ball game this weekend."

"Sam, if he wins, we might have a real chance with good gun legislation."

"It won't help Keller. It won't bring back his friend, or erase the memories of him dying in his arms." Sam's voice broke a bit on the last words. Toby almost missed it over the phone.

He forgot to be harsh with Sam for the sentimentality. He knew that Sam still had nightmares about Josh's shooting. They shared a hotel room six weeks ago on a trip. Toby awoke at three AM to find Sam thrashing in his sleep and trapped in a world where he begged Josh to live and tried to stop the blood from drowning them both. Sam woke up screaming, and Toby had been there to tuck him back into bed.

Toby and Sam never discussed that. Not that night and not since. But it broke Toby's heart just a little more.

Toby's voice was quiet, "Look Sam, I've got to go do the thing. Go have a beer with Josh. Drink one for me too." He hung up.

Sam attended the Grand Jury Trial at every opportunity. The day Keller testified about the greatness of the man who'd died serving his country, the man who'd saved his life twice, and the friendship they shared, people sobbed openly in the courtroom.

Sam cried later in his office. He waited until late in the night when everyone had gone. He'd told Josh he'd left early for a date.

When Toby returned from the trip, he found the work done and the Bullpen happy. But he found a strangely sullen Sam. He did everything he was supposed to do, and he did it well. But the blazing enthusiasm was gone. Sam was too quiet, and he spent too much time alone.

Toby went to Leo and Josh in turn to find out what had happened in the past week.
Josh felt that Sam seemed a bit tired and withdrawn but attributed it to the fact that Toby was gone and he'd had more work to do. Leo said he honestly hadn't noticed.

Neither of them had made the connection with the trial. Sam hadn't mentioned it to them except in the context of the press coverage. Toby yelled at them for that and felt a bit better. Then he went to C.J.

He tapped lightly on her door and came in. She looked up from her paper-strewn desk, but didn't pay much attention until he closed the door. "C.J." His voice was firm.

"Yeah, Toby, what did I do?"

"It's more what I want you to do."

"What?"

"Make peace with Sam. He needs you."

"Why?"

"The Keller case, C.J. Sam went to the hearings almost every day. It tore him up. He has nightmares about Josh's shooting. Did he ever tell you that?"
"No....Toby. I didn't know. Is he okay?"

"Not really. He's doing his job, he's being Sam. But he's exhausted and he needs to talk about this."

"And he won't talk to you or Josh?"

" I don't think he will. He'd think we'd see it as another sign that he's too immature to handle the big bad political world. That's bullshit of course, but I understand the perspective."

"But you think he'll talk to me."

"Yes. Will you try?"

Toby watched her face closely. Tears shimmered in her eyes. But she knew how to play strong. He touched her arm briefly, then left the office.

C.J. waited until the rest of the West Wing left for the night to go to Sam's office. She found him at his desk, typing furiously into his laptop.

"Hey, Spanky." His head popped up at the sound of her voice and his eyes registered the use of the term of endearment a second later.

"Hey."

"Can I come in?"

"I'll have a draft of the lunch speech for you in the morning." His voice was cooly professional.

"Great. Sam, I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"For taking the revenge thing so far."

"You're not really that sorry." He read her face correctly.

"Well, not so much. You did deserve it." She smiled at him.

"C.J., I really don't want to talk about that any more."

He looked at her for a moment and then dropped his head to his desk. "I'm really not having a good week."

"I know, Sam. Toby's worried." He lifted his head to look at her.

"Toby's worried? Did I screw something up?"

"No Sam, he's worried about the pain the trial caused you and he's too scared to tell you he loves you and that you should talk about it."

"Toby loves me? C.J. are you sure you don't have a brain tumor?"

"I'm sure. And I worry too, Sam."

She crossed to stand behind him and leaned her head on his as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

Sam hesitated for a moment, then turned to pull her into his arms. He buried his face in her hair and held her. She hoped that her strength would be enough.

 

 

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