Unwelcomed Changes

By Mer

Part 22

The Oval Office

Jed sat at his desk. He pondered what he could do to change the mood of the White House. Since Josh and Sam both woke up the mood had only worsened. Josh's blindness and Sam's mental problems had them all troubled. Add the renegades Mandy and Casey to the mix and all was not well.

"Charlie, is Leo back from visiting Sam yet?" Jed asked.

"Yes, I believe he is." Charlie replied.

"Would you send him in please?" Jed urged.

Charlie nodded and Jed looked down at the paperwork that was on his desk. It was a couple of reports and a bill to sign. The bill wasn't something that he really approved of, but it wasn't something that he could very well veto either. With a heavy heart he began to sign the bill into law and Leo appeared while he was doing this.

"I see that you have decided to sign it after all." Leo replied.

"Yeah, but that's not why I wanted to see you." Jed replied.

"I hadn't thought that, sir." Leo replied.

"Tell me about your visit with Sam." Jed urged.

"Sir, this problem with Sam doesn't seem to be going away." Leo replied as Jed groaned.

"I hadn't really expected it to disappear completely so quickly. Is it at least getting better?" Jed asked.

"I'm afraid not, sir." Leo replied.

"What does that mean?" Jed asked.

"Sam may need some more specialized care than the facility he is at right now can provide." Leo replied.

"Leo moving him wouldn't that would mean that his political career would be over then?" Jed asked.
"Most likely yeah." Leo replied solemnly.

"Are we really sure that is the best course of action?" Jed asked.

"Right now we are running out of options." Leo stated.

"Isn't there something that we can do?" Jed asked.

"He's talked with Stanley and another doctor and neither one of them have been able to get through to him." Leo replied.

"Has he talked to Josh lately?" Jed asked.

"I'm not sure, why?" Leo asked.

"Maybe he could talk to him and clear some things up." Jed replied.

"That would be great except that Josh has no memory of that night and Sam used that against him the last time that they saw each other." Leo pointed out as Charlie entered the room with a note.

"Sorry to interrupt, sir." Charlie stated quietly.

"Damn, can't the guy get a break? Thanks Charlie." Jed said after he had quickly glanced at the note and nodded for him to go back to his desk.

"What's happened now?" Leo asked.

"Something with Josh, you need to be with him tonight." Jed replied slowly.

"Could you be a little less cryptic?" Leo asked.

"He needs to be with his friends tonight." Jed replied as he looked away from Leo's intense stare.

"Are you going to be there?" Leo asked.

"I have the annual dinner with all of the Governor's tonight." Jed sighed.

"I had forgotten about that." Leo replied with a smirk.

"Yeah well last year I had to play peacemaker between the Governor of Michigan and the Governor of Hawaii." Jed replied with a look of severe distain.

"Hardly a pair that you would expect to be fighting, but I wish you good luck." Leo offered.

"Thanks." Jed replied as he quickly turned and looked out the window. "I once was na´ve enough to think that this year was going to be different, a fresh start for everyone."

"Whatever it is, I'm sure that it will work out." Leo replied.

"Leo, Sam might need to be institutionalized and Josh is undergoing a surgery tomorrow that might leave him a vegetable if he's lucky, and at worse kill him." Jed replied with a little more of a bite to his words than he had originally intended.

"I had better get Josh's mother here then, she's been dying to see him." Leo replied.

"Leo, just make sure that he knows we are all pulling for him." Jed advised softly.

"I will." Leo answered as he hastily left the room.

Georgetown Hospital-Josh's Room

Josh was sitting up in bed anticipating his friends' arrivals. He knew that they would all be very supportive and smother him with well wishes. While he knew that he needed that, he also wanted to just sink down into the bed and disappear. He knew this would kill C.J. and Donna, but if there was a plus to all of this, at least he wouldn't be able to see their looks of pity.

The phone at his bedside table rang and he hesitated a moment before he answered it. The last time he had tried to pick it up he had knocked a water pitcher over and had made a gigantic mess. After he made sure that he wasn't knocking anything over he answered the phone.

"Josh Lyman." Josh stated with his usual cocky greeting.

"Well buddy have you missed me?" Sam's unmistakable voice asked.

"Hi Sam, of course I've missed you." Josh replied though Sam could hear the slight hesitation in his voice.

"Well I know I should be offended that you didn't come by to say good-bye." Sam replied icily.

"I didn't have much choice in the matter." Josh protested.

"And what you forgot how to pick up a phone, oh wait I'm sorry you can't see the numbers to dial them." Sam taunted.

Josh's head was already throbbing and Sam's accusations weren't helping the matter. He missed his best friend, the best friend that was distraught because he hadn't been able to pick up on Josh's PTSD. The best friend that he had mumbled to incoherently after he had been shot, the one that had always tried to be there for him, because this guy wasn't him at all.

"Sam..." Josh replied with a heavy sigh.

"Do you still not remember the fire?" Sam asked.

"I'm sorry Sam, I still can't remember it." Josh replied slowly.

"Do you remember the first fire?" Sam asked.

"Which fire are you talking about?" Josh asked, wondering if he was speaking of their near destruction of the Mural Room.

"The one that caused your sister to die." Sam replied harshly.

"Of course I remember that fire." Josh replied slowly, as images he had fought to suppress floated in his head.

"Did she scream Josh? Did she call out for help?" Sam asked.

"Yes." Josh admitted softly.

"And did you help her?" Sam asked.

"There wasn't anything that I could do. I tried to go back in but I couldn't." Josh replied.

"You just let your sister die then?" Sam asked.

"I never meant for it to happen. I tried to help." Josh protested.

"Just like you tried to help me that night." Sam sneered.

"Sam I don't remember anything about our fire." Josh protested.

"You almost got me killed. You almost got me killed and then you forgot that I was even in that stairwell with you." Sam screamed.

"You're my best friend I never would have forgotten you." Josh protested.

"I tried to help you that night Josh. I tried to help you and all you did was forget that I was even there. What kind of friend does that make you?" Sam asked.

"I don't know." Josh replied with almost a whimper.

"I hope that one day that you will remember every excruciating detail. How the smoke began to choke the life out of us, how the flames flickered near our heads, how you forgot that your best friend even existed, was this payback for me not getting shot?" Sam asked angrily.

The yelling made Josh's head only pound faster and Sam's descriptions made him relive the night that Joanie died. Those images flashed in his memory so fast that they quickly made him dizzy. And just before he blacked out from the pain and the dizziness a new image flashed into his mind, it was an image of an injured Sam being rescued from the fire while he was still trapped. Sam kept yelling at them not to leave him behind.

"It wasn't your fault either Sam." Josh replied as he succumbed to the pain.



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