Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me. I make no money from this story. Please don't sue!

Category: general; drama

Rating: PG

Summary: When Toby has a health crisis, he has to cope with his recovery while Sam has to deal with the fallout.

Note: This was a response to a challenge on the Sam Seaborn Fan Fiction Archive. The story has been posted there for a few months already. In other words, there's a whole lot of Sam in here:)

Feedback is appreciated!

Breaking Point
By Piper

Part 1

"Are you okay?"

Toby Ziegler had sworn to himself a few hours earlier that if one more person asked him that question, said person would get throttled. Unfortunately, he needed Sam in one piece to help him polish the speech that was set to be delivered the next day. So he settled for glaring at his young deputy before waving him impatiently into his office.

Sam obeyed the silent command, shutting the door behind him and moving to sit on Toby's couch. His boss's glares no longer phased him much. "Seriously, you don't look too good. Are you feeling alright?"

Toby's mind sprung to produce a harsh retort, but he could not summon the energy needed to deliver it. Especially when he glanced up and locked eyes with a pair of honestly concerned blue ones. He sighed. "I'll be fine, Sam. Let's just finish this thing and go home, okay?"

Sam agreed, although he still looked concerned as they began to work.

Two hours later, the activity outside the office had calmed to the point that only Ginger remained at her desk. Sam had even dismissed Cathy during a short break a half-hour earlier.

Sam was looking happily at a finished product. Toby, meanwhile, was slightly ashamed that he had let Sam do almost all of the work with only a few nods and short comments from him. He just could not keep his mind on the speech. Truth be told, he felt like hell.

He had chalked it up to the stress that had dominated his life lately, but he was beginning to fear it might be something more. He was exhausted. That in itself wasn't really a cause for alarm, as he had felt true exhaustion before, but this was different. He just didn't feel right. He had been sweating despite the comfortable temperature in his office. More than one person had told him he looked pale, and the mirrors agreed with them. And for the last half-hour since they had settled back to work after their break, he had found himself fighting nausea.

"Toby?" Sam's voice, suddenly laced with fear, brought his attention to the younger man. He followed Sam's line of sight and realized he was rubbing his chest. Later he would insist that it hadn't really hurt, just felt a bit tight and uncomfortable. But right then he didn't respond, as he was suddenly assaulted with dizziness. He was vaguely aware of Sam yelling his name, and then arms supporting him as the world started to tilt. The rest was a blur.

~*~

It had been a while since Sam had prayed. But he was praying now.

He'd been worried about his boss all day. Ginger had taken one look at Toby that morning and come hunting for the deputy communications director. She had said that he looked awful, and Sam had promptly gone to see for himself. She was right. She had also said that he told her he was fine and basically ordered her to back off. He got the same. His busy schedule for the day had essentially forced him to comply; he hadn't even seen Toby after the staff meeting until he had come into his office two hours earlier to work on the speech.

At that point he was shocked by his boss's appearance. He was almost as white as his shirt and sweating, though Sam thought his office was a bit cool. But Toby was his usual stubborn self, so Sam let it go and resigned himself to doing as much of the speech as possible and taking some of the weight off Toby. If he had any doubt that his boss was sick, it was gone when they took their short break and Toby had yet to criticize his punctuation. But he had no idea...

He was saying something about gun control when he noticed Toby wasn't even making an effort to listen. And more importantly, he was rubbing his chest and had an expression of pain on his face. He heard the fear creep into his voice as he asked, "Toby?"

Toby looked up at him, then at his own hand, then back at him. He opened his mouth, but said nothing. His eyes had taken a slightly gazed look.

"Toby!" Sam was off the couch and around the desk in time to break Toby's fall from the chair. He eased them both to the floor and supported Toby against his chest. "Toby? Tell me what's going on," he said, attempting to keep the panic he was feeling out of his voice. He got no response, though his boss was still conscious and now clutching his chest as he struggled to breathe.

He tried to reach for the phone, but couldn't do it from his position. "Ginger!" Sam screamed. The assistant was in the room a few short seconds later, but to Sam they were an eternity. She gasped when she saw them. "Ginger, call 911. See if you can get the First Lady down here." He was amazed at how calm his voice sounded. He felt as if his racing heart was going to burst out of his chest, but he knew he had to keep it together for Toby.

"What do I tell them?" Ginger asked in a tremulous voice.

"I think he might be having a heart attack." He spared a glance at her and noticed the color draining from her face. "Ginger, go." She nodded and turned to sprint from the room. "See if Josh is still here too, okay?" he added as an afterthought. He knew CJ and Leo had already gone, but Josh had still been working a half-hour earlier. And Josh knew Sam was worried about Toby, so he was probably hanging around.

"Sam?" Toby's weak voice drew his attention.

Sam wrapped his arms around his boss, trying to comfort. "I'm right here, Toby."

Toby choked out between struggling breaths; "It hurts..."

Sam held him a little tighter. "Your chest?" Toby gave a weak nod against Sam's chest. "Okay, just try to breathe. Help's on the way; you're going to be all right."

Ginger darted back into the office. "Ambulance is on the way, Josh is coming, I'm going to find Mrs. Bartlet," she huffed out, and then was gone again.

That left Sam and Toby alone in what was probably one of the most agonizing times in both their lives. Toby struggled to breathe and stay conscious through the pain while Sam felt helpless. He didn't know if he was supposed to be doing something else or not. As it was, all he could do was support him and hold on to him. He found himself gently rubbing Toby's back and telling him to breathe, repeatedly saying that everything was going to be all right. It was as much to calm himself as Toby. And he had no idea if it was true.

Josh came bursting in a few moments later. It took him a few seconds to locate them on the floor. Sam heard him gasp, then he dropped down beside them. "Toby? Sam, what's going on? Ginger just said you needed me..."

"There's an ambulance coming. He says his chest hurts," Sam kept his tone even, though he knew his fear probably showed in his eyes. Josh held his gaze for a moment then nodded slightly and gave Sam's shoulder a reassuring squeeze. However, he was beginning to look scared as well.

There were a few more agonizing minutes before the First Lady arrived, Ginger trailing behind. Josh moved to the side so she could crouch beside Toby and Sam. "Hey, Toby, I hear you're not feeling your usual cheerful self," Abby said conversationally as she reached to take his pulse. Sam shifted him slightly so Toby's back was leaning against his chest and she could reach him more easily. Toby groaned, but didn't answer her. Sam described what had happened and she nodded, still exuding nothing but a calm demeanor. She loosened and removed his tie, then unbuttoned the top few buttons to ease his breathing.

Over to the side, Josh had moved to Ginger and placed a comforting arm around the distressed woman. Abby continued speaking to Toby. "I just need you to try and breathe as normally as you can, Toby. Sam here says you're having chest pain. Is that right?"

He nodded and added; "My arm...hurts...too..." Abby nodded and began rubbing his arm to counter the pain. "Just try to relax, Sam and I have got you. The ambulance is on the way, right?" She addressed the last comment to Ginger and Josh, but received her answer from outside as the sounds of an approaching siren reached their ears.

Josh suggested Ginger go to meet the paramedics and make sure they could get past security. She jumped at the chance, needing to feel useful. He remained, shoving the desk aside so they would have better access to Toby.

Sam continued to hold his boss, arms wrapped protectively around him. Abby glanced up from her patient to his deputy, who was looking a little pale himself. "You're doing fine, Sam," she consoled in her even tone. He nodded slightly, not very convincingly, in response. She gave him a look and started to say something more, but the paramedics arrived just then.

Abby explained the situation and answered their questions. Sam, for his part, was reluctant to let go of his boss, but didn't complain when they eased him out of his grasp. He caught Toby's hand and squeezed it once before moving out of the way. He watched the rescuers' efforts as if through a glass wall. They gave him oxygen, took his blood pressure, and went through some other procedures before loading him onto the stretcher. He heard Abby ask which hospital they were going to and tell them that they would follow, and then they were out the door. Abby followed soon after, going to tell the President and then head to the hospital with her agents. She took a shaken Ginger with her.

"Sam?" He shook himself out of his shocked state to find Josh now staring at him in concern. "I'm okay," he insisted.

"Okay. C'mon, we'll take my car." Josh wrapped a supportive arm around his shoulder and steered him towards the door. "He'll be okay, Sam," he threw in quietly.

As the two friends headed after the paramedics, Sam found himself praying again.

He knew that this particular nightmare was just beginning.

 

TBC

 

 

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