Title: More Than Just A Word
"I knew love
He looked up. "Yeah."
"What are you doing?"
"You're kind of sitting there with your hand on the receiver. Are you okay?"
" 'Cause Donna and Josh went ahead and I said that I'd wait for you, and so I've been hanging around for about twenty minutes, but since you're not doing anything--"
"I already called."
"Your-" Toby sat down. "Your dad?"
"Yeah." Sam took his hand off the receiver but continued to stare at it.
"You okay?" Toby shifted uncomfortably in the doorway, his eyes flicking nervously.
Sam looked down for a minute and then snapped his head up, mustering a smile. "Sure. I mean, I lived with it for 28 years, right? No problem."
Toby rubbed his forehead. "Listen, Sam, I--ah--"
"Toby, really, it's okay. It's just--it's hard, but I'm okay."
"Did you want to--"
"Talk about it? Probably less than anything."
Toby nodded. "Okay."
Sam rearranged files and papers on his desk aimlessly as a few silent moments passed. "Can you stop with the ball thing?"
Toby's eyes widened. "Stop with the balls?"
"Yeah. They're a little annoying. You know, constantly--" he slammed his hand on his desk a few times monotonously. "Like that. Why did you lose the bell? The bell was good."
"The bell was useless. It made me feel like I was in a hospital paging a nurse."
"And throwing wads of rubber at my window makes you feel empowered?"
"Yeah. Don't tell C.J."
"Okay." Sam sighed, file in hand and looked absolutely dismal for a moment before he put it down and burst out, "I want to hate him."
Toby looked confused. "You--what?"
"I want to despise him. I want to agree with my mother that he is a bastard who doesn't deserve to live. I want to never see him again, delete all his e-mails, block his calls..." the younger man ran out of words in his fit of ire and took a breath. "I just want to hate him. But I can't. I can't, Toby."
Toby looked as though there were a thousand places he'd rather be than in Sam's office right at that moment. "How...come?" he asked lamely.
" ' Cause he's my father. 'Cause he played baseball with me when I was a kid even though I couldn't catch worth a damn. When I left the firm to join the campaign, my mother went out of her mind. Know what he told me? He told me Bartlet was better off for it."
"We could have told you that."
"I know, and you did, but that was from my father. I idolized him. So when this happened, I couldn't--" Sam stopped and swallowed, voice breaking. "I couldn't hate him. It's horrible of me. I'm disloyal to my mother."
"I don't--" Toby took a breath. "I don't think it's being disloyal to your mother. I think it's being loyal to--what, quite a few years of memories? Nothing wrong with that."
Sam made a noise of disapproval and slammed his desk drawer. "Sure, nothing wrong with it. After all, wasn't my father loyal to 28 years of memories? Just a pity they weren't with my mother."
"You're not responsible for what your father did. He made a mistake. A huge mistake, true, but that doesn't mean you have to automatically hate yourself for still loving him."
"I don't love him."
"You don't hate him but--what the hell, Sam? How do you feel about him?"
"I don't know. I don't know anymore. It used to be so simple, love your father because he's your father. But now it's--it's different. All bets are off."
Toby scratched the top of his head, leaning against the door. "He's still your father."
"What does that--"
"Doesn't seem like it's the stupidest thing to do, loving your father because he's your father."
"He slept around while I was growing up."
Toby shrugged. "So you don't love him for the things he does, fine. But maybe you should--"
"I don't want to love him, Toby."
"I was going to say, maybe you should just--not hate him because he's your father."
Sam stared at the older man. "I should just--not hate him."
"That's really bad grammar, Toby."
"If you must put it that way, yes. My sentiment remains the same."
Sam stood in the middle of his office, papers in hand, seemingly oblivious of Toby's presence. Not hate his father. Honor the history they had despite his father's mistakes. Would that make him a better man, a stronger man then his father?
And good men forgive.
He looked up, and smiled. "Are we going?"
"To the--the bar?"
Toby nodded. "Let me get my coat." Sam followed him into his office and watched as Toby bent to pick up some fallen reports. He looked up and flicked one of the red rubber balls at Sam. "Think fast."
Sam reached out with the hand that wasn't holding his coat and missed the catch miserably as it rolled off his fingers. Toby rolled his eyes. "You really can't catch worth a damn."
"So I've been told."
Toby walked out of the door of his office, shutting off the light as he went.
He looked back good-naturedly at Sam. "Sure. For what?"
Sam smiled. "Yeah."