Disclaimer: Aaron I'm only borrowing them I swear.

Summary-Sequel to Ghosts in the Smoke. It's been a month and a half since the fire and well nobody likes the new daily routines.

Un-welcomed Changes

By Mer

Part 1

C.J.'s office

"C.J. I swear to God I am going to kill her!" Toby said as he stormed into C.J.'s office.

"Toby at least shut the door, first." C.J. scolded.

"Sorry. That bitch Mandy is driving me up the wall! I thought that Sam was bad at writing sometimes but she totally takes the cake. She's trying to edit my work now! Why did Leo have to hire her back? I think my desk could write better." Toby said his voice seething with rage.

"You know why." C.J. replied quietly looking away from him.

"I know that we had to at least temporarily replace Sam but did it have to be with her?" Toby asked.

"It wasn't up to me." C.J. replied slowly.

"I know it wasn't. It's just that of all the people they could have picked to replace Sam with why did they have to choose her? She has no writing talent what-so-ever. She would have been better off if she had taken Josh's job. Why did it have to be her?" Toby asked.

"Is there anything else you wanted to talk with me about? Because honestly Toby the Mandy rants are getting on my nerves. I hate her as much as you do, but she's here now so deal with it." C.J. stated her voice flat and emotionless.

"Excuse me for wanting to confide in you." Toby replied in a hurt voice.

"I didn't mean to sound like that. It's just that Donna was just in here complaining about her new boss." C.J. replied apologetically.

"I'm not sure if I trust Casey Adams either. What I would give to have either one of them back to work." Toby stated with a sigh.

"Oh do you want the latest updates on them?" C.J. said her voice now vacant of any of the hope she still had a month ago.

"Is there anything new to report?" Toby asked.

"Not really. Sam has been moving around a little bit more, but he still has made no indications that he's about to wake up. His leg appears to be healing nicely." C.J. stated softly.

"And Josh?" Toby asked though he was pretty sure he already knew the answer.

"No change." C.J. said sadly.

They were quiet for a moment. She didn't need to add that there had been no change in Josh's condition for the past two weeks. And Toby never pointed out that she had been giving the same update on Sam for the past couple of days. It was just one of the many things that they never talked about anymore. Despite the so-called updates she gave, it was hard to find traces of either men. They had both been replaced by other people so that the White House ran as efficient as possible.

"Well, I'm going to leave now. If you hear screaming from the communications bullpen don't worry it's just me killing Mandy." Toby commented as he left her office.

C.J. waited until Toby was gone and she pulled a piece of paper out of her desk drawer. The paper was well creased because she had looked at it nearly every day. Even though she had memorized it's contents she read it at least once a day to refresh her memory. Though it wasn't a memory that she wanted to happen in the near future. But everyday she read the paper as if her life depended on it.

"C.J., yo earth to C.J." Leo called as he waved his hand in front of her face.

"Huh? What?" C.J. asked startled.

"What is that anyway?" Leo asked.

"It's nothing." C.J. replied hastily trying to put it away, but Leo snagged it before she could.

"Is this what I think it is?" Leo asked as he scanned it.

"Yes." C.J. nodded slowly.

"Why the hell do you have obituaries written up for Josh and Sam?" Leo asked.

"Because I may need to use them in the near future." C.J. whispered.
Leo was at a loss for words. C.J. had a point. It hadn't been an easy month and a half for the two men. Several times they thought they were going to lose one or the other. Their conditions had been a bit more stable in the past week so they both were moved to a long-term care facility in Rosslyn, Virginia. But the fact that they were moved hadn't really changed the fact that they were both still in coma's with no end in sight.

"C.J." Leo stated softly.

"What we have all formed new routines these past couple of months. Toby fights with Mandy and comes in here at least once a day threatening to kill her, Donna comes in and sobs to me about how much she misses Josh, Charlie comes in three times a day for the president and he asks how they are doing, and I read what might someday would be there obituaries to be ready incase that day happens." C.J. answered.

"Is that really healthy?" Leo asked.

"I don't know Leo. But it's all I have right now. It's all we have left now, until they get better." C.J. answered sadly.

Sam's Office

"Ginger have you gotten those latest stats that I asked for?" Mandy called.

"Not yet." Ginger called back.

"Well what is the hold up, Toby needs me to finish this speech ASAP!" Mandy replied.

"I'm working as fast as I can." Ginger replied as she scurried out of the bullpen.

Mandy sighed and she spun around once in her chair. She had taken over Sam's job a little over a month earlier. Many of Sam's things were in a box on the floor. She had debated on whether not to remove the rest, but she figured she had better not press her luck any further.

She stopped spinning and she glanced at the speech that was on her computer. The cursor flashed impatiently at her but she had no idea how to continue. Sometimes she wondered whether she had gone too far over her head by taking Sam's job. She doubted her talent as a speechwriter almost daily. Sam's job wasn't the one she wanted, but Leo told her to take it or leave it. So she had taken it and had to constantly deal with being compared to Sam.

She wasn't neat and organized like Sam. She didn't listen to Toby's authority like Sam did. She didn't lend a friendly ear like Sam did. The list went on and on but she had tired of it quickly. She wasn't Sam and people had better start getting used to that.

"Mandy Hampton's Office." Mandy said as she answered her phone.

Toby watched her angrily from the doorway. Mandy had taken over Sam's office like there had been nothing to it. He hated her for that and for well mostly everything that she did. His protests to Leo had fallen on deaf ears because Leo had enough problems to worry about with Josh's replacement. But it didn't mean that he was going to just stand there and do nothing about it.

"Do you have the speech ready yet?" Toby asked once Mandy was off the phone.

"I am waiting for Ginger to bring back the stats I asked for." Mandy replied.

Sam's assistant Cathy had gotten fed up with Mandy after a few days and she had requested a transfer. She was now temporarily working as Ainsley Hayes assistant. Bonnie and Ginger wanted to follow suit, but Leo had refused saying that the office had to have a hint of normalcy. From the way Mandy spoke to Ginger he wondered how much longer it would be until she quit.

"How many people are you going to stomp on before you realize that maybe you ought to be a bit nicer to people." Toby asked.

"Oh and this is coming from Mr. Gruff Toby himself?" Mandy asked.

"You know Mandy just because you temporarily have Sam's job doesn't mean that Leo won't fire you." Toby threatened.

"He won't fire me until Sam's ready to come back. But that doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon." Mandy replied.

"You know Mandy this act is really getting old. One of these days you are going to slip up and they will show you to the door." Toby threatened.

"Well, you've screwed up plenty of times and yet you are still here." Mandy smirked.

Rosslyn Long-term Care-Sam's Room

Sam stirred on the bed. A nurse who was changing his I.V. bag noticed this but she didn't think anything of it. Sam had been making movements like that for about a week. It was like he was shifting in his sleep. She hung up the new bag and she left the room.

Sam moved a little more on the bed. His eyes flickered for a few moments until they opened all of the way. Sam stared blankly ahead. He didn't recognize where he was. It frightened him a little.

He tried to sit up but the pain in his head was too strong. He collapsed back against the pillow in vain. It was then that he noticed his leg was in some sort of weird cast. He figured that he must be in some sort of hospital.

"Where the hell am I?" Sam called out in a shaky voice.

He got no response. His voice sounded terrible. His throat throbbed in pain. But Sam didn't care. He needed to know where he was.

"Where am I?" Sam called out again.

"You are awake." The nurse replied after she came back to get a chart that she had left.




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