Hey all. Just when you thought you were safe, Demons is back! And yes, I *have* finished the story. But I won't be posting part thirteen for a little longer I think. :) Thanks to all you guys who have been giving me support while I wrote this thing. It sure did turn out to be a beast, didn't it?
Demons: Part Twelve By Red
Disclaimer: Located in part one. Author's Note: Here be violence. Beware all ye who enter here.
Sam's Apartment Monday, 12:01 PM
Sam stared in horror as the demon that haunted his dreams materialized out of the shadows near the kitchen. The large man held a gun in his hand, training it dead center on Sam's chest. He blinked and bit his lip hard. His knuckles were white where he gripped the wooden cane too hard.
"Did you miss me Samuel? Because I know I missed you terribly. Now, I always thought of you as a well-mannered man. But then you left without saying goodbye." He stepped closer, smiling coldly. Sam could feel chills racing up and down his spine as his tormentor drew nearer.
When Sam stayed frozen in his spot, not making a sound and staring wide-eyed at him, Cruz sighed explosively. "Really now Samuel, this is no way to welcome an old friend." He grinned wider as he closed the distance between them and threw his arms around the slim man's rigid shoulders. "I don't think we finished our game," he whispered menacingly into his Sam's ear as he leaned forward. Tightening his arms until Sam cried out at the pain, he laughed. "Tonight we end this. I'm going to make you scream like you've never screamed before."
With one last squeeze of his arms, he left Sam panting and trembling as he dropped back onto the couch. The other man's continued paralysis kept the grin on his face as he surveyed the apartment. "This is a nice place Samuel, it really is. I didn't think government employees made enough dough to afford something like this." Then his eyes narrowed and his smile disappeared. "But then again, you were a lawyer before, right? Another one of the blood-sucking attorney types like the ones that sent my brother to his death."
He stood again to stand in front of Sam. "Damn you! What gave you the right to take him from us?" For the first time since the terror started, Cruz seemed unstable and ready to crack. It made Sam shiver harder.
"I didn't take him from you," he finally whispered his first words. "I didn't, the lawyers, judges, and the president didn't. Your brother brought it on himself." He stared into Cruz's eyes and found absolutely no sanity there. He began to think that perhaps tonight really was the end of the game.
The larger man stood motionless for a moment and they stared at each other in silence before he swung his arm and pistol-whipped Sam right across the face, sending him crashing to the ground in a heap. A snarl curling his lips, Cruz crouched next to him and grabbed a handful of hair, yanking Sam's head up and inspiring a groan from him.
"Look at you!" he spit out in disgust. "You lie here shaking and crying and you dare pass judgement on a man superior to you in every way?" He yanked the hair in his fist again, sending Sam's head to crack against the hardwood floor. "You're nothing Seaborn! Nothing! My brother killed men ten times as strong as you without a thought!"
Sam squeezed his eyes shut and willed the pain to flow over and around him with little luck. Flames licked at his leg and abdomen while bright flashes of heat speared through his skull. "That doesn't make him strong… or powerful," he gasped defiantly, wincing as the hand in his hair tightened. "It just shows how weak he was because he couldn't get power any other way!"
Howling, Cruz yanked away from Sam's limp body and tore across the room, his chest heaving with rage and his hand convulsively wiping against his jean-clad thigh as if he had touched something grotesque. "He wasn't weak," he hissed. "He wasn't weak like you and your president. He could never sink as low as you, you sniveling little pretty boy."
He tucked the gun into the waistband of jeans and ran a hand through his thick jet-black hair. Dark eyes stared hard at the trembling man by the couch. "I'm glad I picked you. At least now I'm ridding the world of one more little puke." He stalked back towards him. "I wouldn't be surprised if your friends thank me."
Clenching his teeth, Sam rolled onto his side and began to rise slowly until he was standing hunched over. He lifted his head and glared at the other man, twin flames of blue searing into the dark eyes that watched him. "That's not true. You don't know anything about them," he growled.
Now Cruz began to smile again as he stopped his advance at the coffee table. Crossing his arms over his chest, he smirked. "Oh, but don't I?" he returned smoothly. He was back in control again. "Isn't it true that the president hasn't called you since you returned home? That seems like peculiar behavior from someone who cares."
"He's the president! He's busy! He can't just drop everything to baby-sit an injured employee!" And even as Sam shouted the words, he doubted them and himself.
Nodding, Cruz drummed his fingers against his muscled arms. "Uh huh. Because the environmental committee and relations with Canada are certainly more important that a recovering friend who was kidnapped because of him." He took another step closer and grinned as Sam stumbled backward, putting the couch between them. "And what about that pretty school teacher? Why hasn't she dropped by? Could it be because she doesn't care?"
"No," Sam whimpered, shaking his head weakly. He didn't want to listen to him. He knew what Cruz was trying to do. But everything he said played on all his insecurities and self-doubts.
"All right," Cruz moved on, taking another step closer. This time his prey didn't bother to try and escape. "What about Josh Lyman?" he asked, coming to stand at Sam's shoulder. "Isn't he supposed to be your best friend? Why hasn't he visited you since that last time in the hospital?"
Sam's head hung, his chin nearly touching his chest as his shoulders drooped. "They don't care about you Sam. And they don't want to have to cater to a weakling like you. It's too much of a bother. The only one out of the entire bunch that gives a damn is your boss and he's probably just building you up to tear you down again back at the office."
"No!" Sam exclaimed, lurching away to the side. "Not Toby! Toby cares! He's there for me!"
Following him, Cruz leaned over his shoulder until his lips were at his ear again. "Then where is he right now?"
A buzz at the door startled them apart and Cruz began to smile oily. "Looks like we have visitors. How fortunate." He drew his gun and motioned to the door.
The White House - Josh's Office The Same Time
The slamming of his office door yanked Josh mercilessly from his nap. Through bleary eyes he watched Toby advance toward his desk, and his sleep-fogged mind realized that he was in trouble. "How can I help you Toby?" he slurred groggily. If they were going to fight about something then they might as well start out polite.
Toby's face was set in possibly the darkest scowl Josh had ever seen. "I thought you were going to Sam's? Please explain to me why we're standing here in your office talking when you should be at Sam's?" While he wasn't truly shouting, his voice was definitely raised and Josh winced as he found himself wide-awake. He'd have to remember to yell at Donna for not fending Toby off at the door.
"Toby, I never said - " he began, standing behind his desk.
"I don't care what you did or didn't say!" Toby leaned forward, clutching the desk's edge tightly. Josh backed up a step in response. "I told you to go visit Sam. Why you're being such a stubborn ass about this I can't understand. He's your best friend, Josh!"
Josh felt anger of his own rising in him until he knew he couldn't continue to be calm and rational about it all. It was just too much. "And he's your deputy, Toby! He's not your son, and he's not your brother! Try to remember that." He was glaring now. "Maybe you should stop trying to be his mother and let him deal with his problems by himself. He's a grown man, but no one would be able to tell the way you coddle him. Whether or not I see him is none of your business."
Toby's anger melted into something akin to disgust and disbelief. He stared hard at Josh for a long moment, unblinking, as if trying to figure him out. "Josh, how can you be this stupid?" he murmured quietly, but not at all gently. "He just went through more torture and hardship then either of us can possibly imagine, and you want him to handle it on his own? He doesn't need solitude, Josh. He needs his friends. I thought you were his friend, but maybe I was mistaken." With another angry look, Toby straightened, smoothing his jacket, and turned to leave.
"I *was* his friend," Josh blurted. He watched as Toby turned back and he swallowed hard past the lump rising in his throat. "I was his friend before he came back changed. I… I talk to him and I don't hear the Sam I knew because he doesn't talk like him. I look at him and I don't see the Sam I knew because my Sam was strong and resilient. This man cowers at everyone's touch but yours and shakes and cries…" He paused, staring down at his hands. "I look at him and I see a weak man who gave up," he finished lowly, ashamed of the words even as they left his mouth.
He could hear Toby moving around and he looked up to find the older man standing by the window, staring out absently. "You're wrong Josh. You have no idea how wrong you are. Sam didn't give up and he isn't weak. He's the strongest man I know and even now he's fighting to recover from what was done to him." He turned to look sidelong at him. "You… you just have to give him time. He can't just bounce back from something like this."
Josh bit his lip and looked away. "He always did before," he whispered, sinking into his chair. "I guess I never realized how much I depended on that before. So now I don't know how to act around him. I… I know he's fighting, but in the mean time I just don't know what to do until he's back."
Toby walked over to him and laid a hand on his shoulder. And Josh realized that time spent with Sam had softened the gruff Communications Director some. "Come see him with me. Right now he's trying to convince himself that what Cruz told him about being worthless and alone isn't true, and having his best friend abandon him isn't helping the process any."
Beginning to feel like a monumental horse's ass, Josh sighed and bobbed his head. "All right. Fine." He even managed a small, weak smile as he stood.
Outside Sam's Apartment Monday, 12:13 PM
"Try again," the president suggested. He rolled his eyes as Leo sighed and pushed the buzzer at Sam's door once again. "It probably takes him a little while to get to the door. Toby said he was still in a lot of pain."
Beside him Ron Butterfield and two other agents scowled at him, unhappy about the outing. They had spent a half an hour in the Oval Office and the entire car trip over begging him to be sensible and reconsider, but with no luck.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Leo asked uncomfortably. He had no clue what he was expected to say or do once Sam answered the door. What *could* he say? *Gee Sam, I'm sorry about all the crap that psycho put you through, but at least you're better. Oh, by the way, I'm all right with you seeing my daughter?*
The president heaved a sigh of his own and glared at them all. He wondered if any of them would ever learn that *he* was the president. Even if they did he doubted they'd stop questioning everything he did and said. "Look Leo, the kid went through hell because of me and it's a little trite to call him on the phone to talk, you know?"
Leo snorted and was about to respond when the door finally opened a little to allow a haggard, bruised Sam to peer out. Leo and Bartlet could both make out the split lip and the beginnings of bruising on his cheek and wondered at the cause. Were things between him and Toby not as good as they had thought? Even then, would Toby ever really strike him?
"Hey Sam!" Bartlet greeted merrily, grinning warmly. "It's been too long since I've seen you last. The SS wouldn't let me go to the hospital." He frowned over to where the agents had taken up positions throughout the hall.
Sam looked at him, fear evident in his eyes. "It's… nice to see you too sir." He attempted a smile, but it came out pathetic and pained. If Bartlet didn't know any better he'd say the man was close to tears.
Ron cleared his throat and Bartlet smiled wider, masking his worry. "Well Sam, why don't you let us in so my prison guards can relax a little before they all have strokes?"
The young man hesitated and opened his mouth as if to protest, shaking his head lightly. But something made him flinch and he seemed to sag inward. "Sure," he mumbled, not meeting their eyes.
"We'll stay out here Mr. President," Ron informed him. Bartlet and Leo raised eyebrows at him, surprised that he wasn't insisting on coming in, but recognized that he understood the emotional situation they were in. With a grateful smile, Bartlet nodded in understanding. "Lock the door when you go inside," he reminded them as an after thought.
Sam winced, his eyes darkening as he opened the door wider and stepped aside to let them in. Leo and Bartlet entered, looking around the spacious apartment that seemed so light and warm like its owner.
"Great place you have here, Sam," the president complimented, turning to face the young man as he shut and locked the door. He froze as he caught sight of the other man standing behind Sam. "Sam?" he asked suspiciously.
Sam ducked his head and shook, tears pooling in his eyes. "I'm sorry sir… he… he…"
The other man made a low growling noise and took Sam's right arm, twisting it behind his back. "Hello Mr. President," he hissed, his dark eyes flashing.
Jed immediately recognized the voice and looked to Leo wide-eyed. "Cruz? You have enough balls to come here to Sam's home and then threaten us all? There are ten Secret Service agents stationed inside this building and ten more outside. Are you suicidal?"
Cruz laughed and shook his head, yanking on Sam's arm and forcing him to the couch. "But you see, Josiah, I don't think you're going to call for help as long as I have your little friend here." He shoved Sam down on the cushions and took out his gun, pointing it in his face.
"Besides," he continued, grinning over at them from his spot behind the couch. "One of the added benefits of a nice pad like this is that the walls are all soundproof. You'll never have to deal with annoying teenagers and their rock music in a place like this."
Leo shook his head and looked to Sam. "Sam… tell me he's lying."
The young man shook his own head. "I'm sorry Leo," he whispered.
Cruz rounded the couch and plopped down next to Sam, slinging an arm around his shoulders. "So I say we put a little show on, Sam. After all, it's not every day that the president and Chief of Staff drop by."
"Show?" Bartlet asked, his eyes narrowing. He watched as the large man stood and pulled Sam with him.
"Yes, show." With a sick grin he drove his free hand into Sam's stomach. The hand that held the gun gripped his elbow and kept him from falling as Sam cried out and doubled over.
Livid with rage, Leo stepped towards them. "Leave him alone you son of a bitch!" he shouted, his face red and his eyes dark.
"What's that? Encore you say?" Cruz yanked Sam straight and punched him between the ribs. Sam let out a strangled scream and crumpled to his knees. Cruz let him, releasing his arm in disgust. "So weak," he murmured. He hit him upside the head with the gun and Sam dropped to all fours, panting.
"Dammit, Cruz! Stop this you sick bastard!" Bartlet growled, feeling more hopeless than ever before. He didn't know what was worse, sitting in the White House unable to do anything but worry while this went on, or standing here while it happened. "What the hell do you want?"
Cruz looked up at him and glared hotly. "For you to suffer. I want you to suffer like I did when you had my brother killed."
Leo snarled and stepped forward again. "Your brother was a killer. He was scum!"
Silent for a minute, Cruz stared at him before speaking. "Wrong answer." With that he planted a brutal kick to Sam's belly, flipping him in the air to land on his back. He kicked him again in the side and Sam rolled, curling in on himself, groaning. "What's wrong Sam, you don't like to play anymore? Well don't worry, it won't be long now."
In desperate disbelief, Bartlet approached them slowly, his hands extended before him. "Look Mathew, you have to know that there's no way out of this. You're trapped and there's nothing you can do. Even if you kill all of us you can't escape."
Cruz chuckled, rolling his eyes at him. "I don't want to kill you Bartlet. But I do want to kill Samuel. And then I want you to live the rest of your life with that guilt to keep you company at night." He stooped and grabbed Sam's arm, pulling him upwards swiftly. Sam practically hung bonelessly in his grasp. "What a pathetic piece of trash," he growled. "You really don't deserve to live, you know that Seaborn?"
Jed cried out as the monster threw Sam to the floor and pulled his gun, aiming it straight at him. "Don't!" he yelled even as Leo jolted forward to stop him. The sick whoosh of the silencer-equipped 9mm going off echoed in his ears, sounding louder than was possible.
Outside Sam's Apartment Monday, 12:31 PM
Toby glanced at Ron as he buzzed again. He waited impatiently, tapping his foot. "The president's probably keeping him busy with inane bits of trivia," he growled unhappily, remembering the last time he had stood at this door pounding on the surface, during the beginning of the crises.
Ron and Josh both chuckled softly, smiles warming their features while Toby scowled. "Dammit Sam," he cursed. "Open the door!"
"Why don't you shout for him. If he knows it's you he'll answer as soon as possible. He knows better than to keep you waiting," Josh suggested. "Or just start pounding on it."
Toby shook his head. "All the apartments here are soundproof. I don't think he'd hear it."
Ron's face clouded over and he reached forward, pressing the button himself this time. "I don't like this," he mumbled. "I really don't like this." He pulled out a cell phone and dialed Leo's number, knowing that the president never carried one. At the twentieth ring he hung up. "Someone find the landlady! I want a key to this damn door right now!"
"Look, Ron, I'm sure you're over-reacting…" Josh murmured, trying to calm him. He glanced at Toby and realized the older man had gone pale, his eyes bright with fear and worry. "C'mon Toby. Sam'll be ok. You know he will be."
Toby shook his head slowly. "No Josh. I don't."
Inside Same Time
Sam writhed and jerked as he felt the hot lead digging into his shoulder. His breath caught in his chest and came out a ragged cough as the pain washed over him. Around him he could barely make out the sounds of voices and he focused on them in a desperate attempt to distract himself from the pain.
"So what do you think," Cruz was saying. "Should I let him bleed to death, which will happen fairly soon, or should I shoot him again?" Sam squeezed his eyes against the sound of his tormentor's voice, hating the way it bounced around in his head until he wanted to scream.
The he felt someone at his side, pulling his upper body into their lap. He opened his eyes to stare dazedly up at Leo. "Leo… please…" he gasped. He just wanted the pain to go away.
"Shh, kid. Just relax. We'll have some help soon." He had felt his cell phone vibrating in his pocket. If it had been Ron or the agents they'd know something was up. *If* it had been Ron or an agent.
Then the door was crashing open and Ron, Toby, Josh, and the two other hallway agents piled into the apartment. There was a moment's hesitation before three guns were whipping out, all aimed at Cruz where he stood over Leo and Sam. Toby and Josh stood behind the agents, staring in horror at the bloody scene in front of them.
"United States Secret Service!" Butterfield shouted. "Drop it!"
There was a moment when Cruz hesitated, letting his arm drop a little and they all thought he would do it, but then he swung his arm back up, aiming again for Sam. Six shots were fired and Cruz's body jerked like a puppet being cut loose from its strings before he fell to the ground lifelessly.
Ron and another agent raced to the president's side to make sure he was safe as more rushed through the door and the third secured Cruz's gun, making sure that he was dead. Josh and Toby broke free from their shock and bolted to Leo's side.
"Sam?" Toby demanded hoarsely, taking Sam's hand in both of his and holding it tight. "C'mon kiddo, talk to me!"
Sam blinked his eyes open halfway and looked at the three of them. "The president?" he croaked weakly.
"Safe," Leo assured him immediately, smiling reassuringly.
"Cruz?" Sam asked next, looking to Toby now, terror and pain horribly apparent in his eyes and expression.
It was Josh that answered. "Dead. Don't worry about it buddy. He can't hurt you anymore." His emotions were overwhelming him and if it hadn't been for Sam being shot and Leo holding on to him, he would have crushed the younger man to him in a hug and refused to let go until he was sure it was all over.
Sam nodded slowly, smiling a little now at Josh. Then he looked around him at the controlled chaos that was the Secret Service, and the worried face of his landlady at the door. "Y'know," he slurred, the blood-loss starting to take its toll. "It's a good thing I have wood floors… you'd never get this much blood out of a carpet… and I don't think Mrs. Callaway would like me anymore… if I stained her carpet."
Josh, Toby, and Leo all looked to each other with bemused expressions, as Sam laughed a little. "At least this time I'm not drugged," he mumbled as his eyes slid shut and he dropped off into unconsciousness. The others seriously wondered.
End Part Twelve