Sam dragged himself off the couch in Toby's office at 5 am. He'd managed about three
hours of sleep there. By the time he finished the education speech last night he was
nearly comatose, and it seemed a waste to spend the hour in transit to home and back when
he could spend it sleeping instead.
He'd perfected the tactic of the office all-nighter. Leo caught him once and he'd been
more careful after that to be sure he was awake before anyone else hit the Wing for the
morning. The stash of fresh clothing in his office helped the illusion that he'd gone
home. Sam smiled to himself as he wondered if he should get the locker room attendants
bribes to keep the secret that he spent more time there than they did during most weeks.
He'd showered and changed by the time the first signs of life appeared in the
Communications Bullpen. Ginger appeared and began sorting the mail. She'd learned long ago
that in the early morning hours Sam was rarely talkative and their silent acknowledgments
would progress to civil morning greetings and business once he'd consumed several cups of
the coffee she made within minutes of each morning's arrival.
Sam used the quiet early morning lull to prepare for the upcoming day. The lull lasted
exactly five minutes longer, until Toby swung around the corner into his office in full
"Sam, remind me again why we are rehashing the President's family ties to teaching
in this speech you just wrote. His story of the one room, --excuse me-- two room school
house-- that his grandmother or whoever taught in, is older than the jokes he uses. People
don't want to hear it again."
"If we don't put it in there, he'll do it himself. Better that it's the short
"Can't we just talk him out of it?"
"And just how successful have we been at that the last fifty times we've tried?
I'm trying to go with the flow here, cause I'm tired of getting hit by the waves."
Toby opened his mouth to say something, then closed it again. Sam did a double-take. A
quiet Toby usually meant agreement. He hadn't expected an easy victory on the point.
"You're from California. You like waves." Toby couldn't resist a small smile.
"Didn't bring a surfboard with me, Toby, so, as you know, I get smacked around a
Toby paused a moment. That was actually true, but Sam sounded more bitter about it than
usual. Unfortunately, they needed his head together, so they were not going to have that
discussion now. Toby dropped it.
"Yeah. Okay. The rest is fine. I'll drop it off for him now."
Sam looked at him closely. Toby was being uncharacteristically agreeable.
"Why are you going so easy with this? Are you expecting bigger waves over
Toby almost walked out without answering, but the look in Sam's eyes told him he knew
something was wrong.
"I'm expecting a tsunami. That's all I can tell you for now."
Sam tried to ask him more, but Toby was gone.