Yes folks, it's that time again. I actually finished part eleven. And since Josh won on the angst vote, expect more angst from him in the next few parts. Of course there will still be lots of Toby just because I can't help myself. <eg>
Demons: Part Eleven By Red
Disclaimer: They're not mine so please don't sue. Besides, all you'd be getting is like fifty bucks and an extensive collection of PEZ dispensers.
Author's Note: Violence. Turn back now kittens and cubs.
Sam's Apartment Four Weeks Later, Monday 6:30 AM
Even five weeks after Sam was taken, Toby still found himself worried that he might fall apart at any minute. Just because the doctors at the hospital had assured him that Sam had recovered enough to go home didn't mean Toby didn't worry.
It was the constant pained frown that had taken control of Sam's face. It was the winces every time he tried to push himself to move a little further a little faster. It was the desolation in his eyes that made Toby think that Sam hadn't even begun to recover.
His ribs and foot had healed. The internal bleeding and infections were no longer threats. The drugs had been flushed from his system weeks ago. There was only a thin scar left on his face, and though the wounds in stomach and thigh made it hard for him to walk or move much, he was doing better. But it wasn't his physical state that had Toby anxious.
Sam had never completely confided in anyone about what had been done to him. He kept his darkest memories to himself. Toby knew it was eating him up on the inside but no amount of begging, arguing, or cajoling could get Sam to talk about it. And he knew that Josh's continuing refusal to visit him was slowly breaking his heart.
What killed Toby the most was that it seemed there was nothing he could do to help. He could be there to hold him after a particularly bad nightmare. He could always be by his side as a constant support. But it wasn't helping Sam to get over his trauma.
Sighing and swallowing the rest of his coffee, he placed the mug in the sink and left the kitchen. He paused for a moment in the archway to the living room, watching, as Sam lay curled up on the couch staring off into space. He had been home since Friday and it didn't seem to be having any improvement on his psyche as Toby and the doctors had hoped.
"Are you sure you're going to be ok by yourself?" he asked softly, moving into the room to stand by the couch Sam rested on, though the haunted look in the younger man's eyes told Toby that he was far from resting. He cursed having to go back to work. He didn't think Sam was ready for the solitude he'd be facing.
His knees drawn nearly to his chest, Sam shrugged slightly, not looking at him. It seemed to Toby that every day that passed led to the young man sinking further into the abyss created by Cruz.
"That's not exactly the answer I was hoping for, Samuel." He caught the faint spark in Sam's eyes flaring up at the use of his full first name. But it dimmed quickly, taking Toby's hope with it.
Shrugging again, Sam finally met his gaze with a dull one of his own. "And what would you like me to say Toby?" Sam bit back. Ok, that wasn't what he had expected. "Would you like me to say that I'm terrified of being alone in my own house? Would you like me to say that I have to keep all the lights on because I'm afraid Cruz might jump out of the shadows? Or maybe you want me to say that I don't ever want you to leave me because I'm afraid without you I might crack up?"
Caught completely off-guard, Toby stood frozen for a moment, gaping. It had been weeks since Sam had been so open about what was going on in his head. It had him worried that he would suddenly open the floodgates again without hardly any provocation.
"God, Sam," he whispered when he had control over himself again. He took a few steps closer and knelt down so that he was right in front of Sam's face. "I'm sorry, kiddo. I didn't know." He reached out and stroked some of the hair Sam had allowed to grow out, away from his forehead. It had been a long time since Sam had allowed him to touch him so tenderly. Only after nightmares would he let himself be comforted.
Sam's face scrunched up, coloring the scar on his cheek a ghostly white. "I don't want you to go, Toby. But you have to. You can't baby-sit me all the time."
Sighing, Toby rose and patted Sam on the arm. When the other man sat up and moved forward, Toby took his spot sitting back against the armrest of the couch. Wrapping his arms around Sam's chest, he drew the shivering man back against him. The embrace was securing and comforting for them both.
"You'll get over this Sam. I know you will because you're strong. You were strong enough to beat all the odds in the hospital, and you'll be strong enough to eventually put this all behind you." He hugged him tight against him, resting his chin on Sam's shoulder.
The White House - Toby's office Monday, 11:11 AM
Toby had never been able to claim that he enjoyed his work immensely - not with the types of people he had to deal with - but he had never before really hated it either. But he supposed there was a first time for everything.
Waiting for the day to end so he could go to Sam's apartment and check up on him was hell. Knowing that Mrs. Callaway would check on him every two hours was small consolation. He wanted to be there himself to watch over him and feel like he was doing something to help. The breakthrough that morning had been encouraging, but Toby knew the road to recovery was still long and winding.
Grumbling to himself, he typed a few more words on his laptop. He had planned on going to visit briefly with him during lunch, but now that seemed impossible with all the meetings he had to go to. And CJ and Leo were too busy too.
A knock on his door raised his scowling face from the computer screen. "What?" he barked. The door opened and Josh stepped in.
"Hey. You *were* planning on going to the Rathings meeting on the Hill, right?" the younger man asked, raising an eyebrow.
Toby checked his watch and swore. "I lost track of time," he growled, standing and gathering his things together in his briefcase. "Listen Josh, I need a favor from you."
Josh nodded, waiting to hear what it was. "Sure Toby, anything. I still owe you for taking the Peterson briefing last week for me."
As Toby passed him on his way out the door, he said, "I want you to go check on Sam at his apartment later." He exited the office completely and began to walk down the hall when Josh began to protest.
"Look, Josh," Toby cut him off, talking over his shoulder. "Sam needs someone, all right? And I think it would mean a lot to him if you went to see him. I'm counting on you, Josh." And then he was gone, swept away in the West Wing traffic.
Drooping, Josh slumped against Toby's open door. "Damn him," he muttered. Sighing, he stood and headed for his office. He would just have to lie and say something came up, which wasn't too improbable. He just wasn't ready…
Sitting behind his desk, he stared blankly at a stack of files Donna had gathered together. Vivid memories of poker and basketball games floated through his mind. The image of Sam laughing and telling jokes, bantering and arguing good-naturedly didn't add up with the image of a pale, hollow-eyed Sam lying in a hospital bed.
He had seen Sam get into trouble before and bounce right back. It was part of who the younger man was. It was something Josh counted on and took for granted. When chaos reigned, he could always rely on Sam being clear-headed and rational. The trembling, terrified man in the hospital didn't fit his normal behavior.
And besides confusing him, seeing Sam the way he was tore at his heart every time. Despite being seen as everyone's kid brother in the West Wing, Sam was always the strong one. He could deal with anything and come out without breaking a sweat. And after the torment of wondering whether or not he would ever see his friend again, Josh desperately needed that strength to cling to.
He needed Sam to be there assuring him that he was fine, and that everything would be back to normal. But Sam wasn't back. From what he had heard, Sam was just as messed up in the head as he had been when the fever had set in weeks ago. It made Josh impossibly angry that he was suddenly expected to be the strong one. He didn't want to be strong and supportive. *He* wanted to be comforted. But Sam had denied him that.
No, he wouldn't go visit him.
Sam's Apartment Monday, 12:01 PM
Reclining on the living room couch, Sam reread the last paragraph of his book for the fifth time. Cursing, he threw the book down on the floor beside him. Charles Dickens just wasn't doing it for him this time.
Casting his eyes around the room, he began to think of things he could do to entertain himself that wouldn't get him in trouble with Toby or his landlady. Deciding that baking something couldn't be too bad, he slowly rose from the couch, reaching for his cane.
A movement in the corner of the room made him freeze. He was a rabbit with a wolf's scent in his nose. Swallowing hard, he gripped the cane tighter, pulling it to him defensively. He knew it was foolish. No one could be in his apartment. But logic would not calm his racing heart.
Ten minutes later Sam began to relax. "I'm too paranoid for my own good," he muttered. "I just hope Toby comes home soon."
He was standing, heading for the kitchen when the voice of his nightmares stopped him in his tracks. "Your precious Toby isn't going to save you this time."
END Part Eleven.