"Signs & Wonders"
by Marie-Claire

DISCLAIMER: I didn't create these people. Aaron Sorkin gets full credit. This
is only a homage. If I got the layout of the WW wrong, don't hesitate to tell
me - in fact, feedback of any kind is welcome and encouraged.

TYPE:   Sequel to "No One Is Innocent". Mostly Josh/Joey & Sam/Mallory, with
bits of Leo/Jenny & CJ/Danny. Maybe some surprises. And, of course, the First
Family

SUMMARY: Almost three months after the Newseum shooting, the last of the
injured staff members returns to work, and renewed hope begins to blossom in
the West Wing, along with more than one romance.

ARCHIVE:    Absolutely. And thank you. Just let me know where.

******
    The White House, by Federal law, was handicapped-accessible, including
the West Wing. Few modifications were needed for Sam Seaborn's return to
work.
    "He said he didn't want a fuss," Kathy said to Toby.
    "I wasn't planning on fussing."
    "But Ginger and I were thinking -"
    "That's always dangerous," Toby interjected.
    "Maybe we should get a cake."
    "I'm not sure Carvel does anything appropriate to the occasion, Kathy."
Before Kathy could reply, the Communications Director returned to his office
- but the door, usually closed tightly, remained slightly ajar.
    Kathy's phone rang. "Mr. Seaborn's office."
    Donna, breathless: "They're on the way."
    "Thanks, Donna."
    The hum of a motorized wheelchair drew staffers out of their offices, or
away from their desks in the bullpens. Sam Seaborn, after ten days in the
hospital and two months in a rehabilitation center, was coming home.
    The wheelchair turned a corner, to a flutter of applause. Sam, deftly
steering by button controls, grinned boyishly. "Aw, come on guys..." which
only made the applause swell. Mallory was only a few steps behind him.
    The rest of the senior staff had entered the hallway by then.
    Josh was the first to speak. "Man, it's great to see you."
    Sam laughed. "I just saw you two days ago."
    "No, I mean it's great to see you here."
    Sam bowed his head for a moment and said, "Yeah, I'm really glad to be
here."
    Just then, Toby's voice floated through his ajar door.  "Sam? Can I see
you for a minute?"
    Josh and Sam nodded and grinned at each other. Josh knew how much time
Toby had spent at the hospital during the early days of Sam's recovery, and
the number of daily phone calls to the rehabilitation center where Sam had
spent the last ten weeks. And Sam...well, Sam simply knew his boss. With a
wink at the others, he wheeled through the door.
    Toby looked up from the file in his hand. "So...."
    "I'm ready to get back to work, Toby."
    The Communications Director gave his Deputy a long, steady look. "Sam, I
won't lie to you and pretend there isn't plenty of work to do. But I don't
want you to...it isn't worth it...."  The sentence died off in a mumble.
    "What did you say?"
    "I just don't want you to overdo."
    "Toby, I can't move my legs. My brain is working as well as ever."
    "That's what I was afraid you'd say."
    Sam smiled. That was more like it. "I'm ready, Toby. More than ready.
This is the readiest you'll see me."
    "I'm not sure readiest is a real word."
    They argued word choices for a few minutes and finally Toby picked up
three of the files on his desk and handed them to Sam. "The new statistics on
hate crimes, state by state - the President wants a digestible summary and a
rough draft for a possible address to the nation. Leo needs opposition prep
for the new Israeli trade debate. And I want you to work with Josh on the
Social Security conference prep."
    "You got it." Sam took the files and turned away.
    "Sam?" Toby waited while Sam turned around. "Do you need anything? For
your office? Any extra staff?"
    Sam grinned at him. "Toby, I've got everything I need."

*****
    At her station in the bull pen, Joey Lucas surfed the Internet adeptly,
pulling up facts and figures for the position paper she and Josh were
organizing on racial profiling and other hot button racial issues. She was
determined to do as much as possible on the paper, freeing Josh for what
seemed like a thousand other priorities on his plate. Since the shooting, the
national debate on hate crimes legislation had heated up intensely. Gun
control, never far from the staff's mind, had been reopened for discussion.
And, of course, the day to day issues of running the country never went away.
    Joey loved working at this level. When she'd finished her work on the
English-As-Official-Language question she'd assumed that they would thank her
and send her back to California. But all sorts of questions came onto her
desk and each of them interested her in a different way. More than a media
consultant, she'd emerged as a sounding board/unofficial advisor, dealing
with issues of substance and watching the best minds of the Bartlet
administration argue them out.
    She was having the time of her life.
    After she clicked the "Print" icon on her screen, Joey took a sip of
coffee, pausing to look at the mug. She smiled, remembering the fumbling,
boyish way Josh had presented it to her after their first awkward - no, make
that bizarre - day working together.  He was a crazy man, no doubt about
that, but there was something in his craziness that made her want to get a
deeper look into his head and heart. If he ever got up the nerve to ask her
out, she'd accept. If he didn't, she might have to take action herself.
    Kenny, sitting opposite her, signed that he was going to take a break.
Did she want anything? She didn't. No surprise when his break took him toward
the Communications offices - if Kenny thought his growing friendship with Sam
Seaborn's assistant Kathy was a secret, he didn't know much about how these
offices worked....Joey smiled. She loved observing new romance in bloom.

*****
    Mallory watched Sam settle in and said, "I'd better get to class. I told
them I'd be late, but..." She hesitated.
    "No, that's fine. I'll be fine. You've been great." He wheeled over to
the doorway and gave her a kiss. "You're the best, Mal."
    She shook her head. "No, but you're stuck with me, Sam Seaborn."
    "And I'm very grateful. Now go and terrorize some very young children.
I'll see you tonight." They kissed again and she left, passing Kathy in the
door.
    "Is this a bad time?" Kathy asked.
    "It's a good time. It's a great time. What can I do for you?"
    "I - ah - it's just...not much of schedule today. You're having lunch
with the President and Mr. McGarry in the residence."
    "Really? He didn't have to do that"
    "Mmm hmm. One o'clock. And you're supposed to meet with Senator Fairgate
at three thirty, but I can push that back if you want."
    "No, that's fine. I'm looking forward to it."
    "And CJ said if you have time later, she'd like to go over some things
with you, but it's at your convenience."
    CJ had visited him every single day, bringing magazines and contraband
food, as well as a profuse and persistent gratitude that had made him
uncomfortable, but had never brought up business. They had a lot of catching
up to do."Call her and tell her I'm at her disposal before one or after
four...no, make it four thirty."
    "Can I get you anything, Sam?"
    "Thanks, Kathy, but I'm fine." She backed out of the office and watched
through the open door as Kenny Thurman, Joey's interpreter, approached her
with a cup of coffee and a chocolate cream donut. Smiling to himself, he
turned to the first of the folders Toby had given him.

*****
    Josh sat back in his chair and finished the summary Joey had just handed
him. "It's good," he said, signing as he spoke. In the last three months he'd
augmented his informal "lessons" with Joey by buying a copy of "The Joy Of
Signing" and a video, and going over them whenever possible. The results had
been gratifying. Much as he liked Kenny - and he liked the aide better and
better as he got to know him - it was nice to be able to talk to Joey without
a third party. So far he was keeping his own sentences simple, and he didn't
think he'd made too many mistakes. Then again, the amusement always dancing
in Joey's eyes could easily be directed at him. Even Mandy had never kept him
as off balance as this woman could.
    "I think the President will find the figures support his position." she
signed. He nodded his understanding.
    "Did you see Sam?" he asked.
    "Just for a minute."
    "How did he seem to you?"
    "All right." She shrugged. "Everyone needs to give him space."
    "Yeah, sure." Josh looked at the memo again. "Let's set up a meeting with
Jeff Breckinridge for Thursday afternoon. Any conflicts?" She shook her head.
"I'll have Donna set it up." Joey nodded and started to walk away, when Josh
said, "Afterwards, why don't we have that dinner I promised you?" When Joey
raised her eyebrow he smiled and said, "Did you think I forgot?"
    "No. I thought you changed your mind."
    "No. Hey, it's only been three months. In the life of an office like this
one..."
    She smiled. "I know. Thursday would be good, Josh."
   
****
    At ten minutes to one Sam started towards the residence. People stopped
him in the corridor and told him how good it was to have him back. A few feet
away from the connecting door, he nearly ran into Charlie Young. The aide was
thinner than Sam remembered, and maybe a touch graver, but Sam thought no
more so than the rest of his co-workers.
    "Hey, Charlie."
    "Hi, Sam." How's it going?"
    "Great, Charlie. You?"
    "I'm alright, Sam." The two men looked at each other for a moment. A
quiet understanding flowed through them. Sam felt that it must be harder for
Charlie, whose relationship with Zoe had been the focus of the attack. He
wondered if the relationship was surviving that.
    "Mr. President," Charlie said, as they entered a sitting room, "Sam's
here." And the President rose to greet Sam with a firm handshake and a broad
smile.

                                    End Part 1

 

 

 

 

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