Waffles & Coffee Chapter 1 - In Search Of Milk
Author:
Willow
Summary: Sam has an accident with a waffle iron.
Spoilers/Episode: Anything up to season 3
Characters: Josh, Sam, Donna and Leo
Rating: PG


Georgetown, Saturday morning (very early)

"Thanks I'll be fine from here," Sam told the police officer. He climbed out of the car, walked up the front steps and rang the bell. After a minute or so a sleepy voice answered and buzzed him into the building. He was walking along the hallway when Josh's apartment door opened.

"Hey, Sam," Josh yawned, "you okay?"

"Yeah. I could use a coffee though," Sam replied absently handing Josh a carton of milk.

" 'K, but there was no need to bring your own milk." Josh watched as Sam walked in and sat down on the couch. "Sam?...... hey, what's up?"

"Umm?"

"It's 3am and you turn up on my doorstep with a carton of milk. So, what's up?"

Sam rubbed his eyes, got up and wandered into Josh's kitchen. "When I got back from the thing tonight, I was hungry so I made some waffles. Then I wanted a coffee, but I was out of milk. I went to the store - you know the one that sells that cheesecake you like? Anyway the guy on the checkout was talking about some reality TV program he'd been watching and I was stuck there for like 30 minutes - don't know what the hell the program was but....."

"Yeah, Sam, that's great, but why are you here?" Josh asked from the kitchen doorway.

"Right yeah. Look, can I stay here tonight?" Sam asked quietly as he poured the coffee.

"'Course you can, you'll have to use the couch, the guest room's a bit full," Josh replied. "What's wrong with your place?"

"When I got back..... the err, the fire department were there. It didn't make sense at first, I walked past them toward the entrance. They stopped me and...." Sam looked at Josh. "My apartment was on fire."

Josh paled, "Was everyone in the building okay?"

"Yeah, they all got out - I don't think anyone else's place was affected. The alarms went off and the fire department were there pretty quick. They wouldn't let me in though. The police gave me a lift here." Sam gave Josh a concerned look. "I should probably have gone to Toby's or CJ's but..... yours was the only address I could think of, I'm sorry."

"What the hell are you sorry for?" Josh asked. "You are okay aren't you?" Sam nodded and started to speak but Josh interrupted, "Look, you can stay here as long as you need - I'll clear out the guest room. When are they going to let you see the apartment?"

"Tomorrow they said. I've got to ring them in the morning and someone'll arrange a time to meet me there."

Josh headed into the guest room and emerged with a duvet and pillows. "I've got a meeting at 10 with Leo about the Banner mess, but my afternoon's free. I'll come with you."

Sam shook his head, "No, you don't have to. I can go alone, I'm a big boy. Look, honestly Josh I'm not gonna ask you to do that."

"You're not asking and I don't mind. I'll be fine, you can't go on your own." Even to his own ears, Josh didn't sound too convinced.

Sam took the bedding from Josh and threw it on the couch. "Okay thanks. Night, Josh," he called, though he doubted either of them were going to be sleeping much tonight.

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In the darkened bedroom, Josh lay staring up at the ceiling, not daring to sleep, knowing that the nightmare would leave him awake and terrified. Not that he had nightmares often, every few months. Any of his friends who noticed would no doubt assume he was dreaming of Rosslyn, but those nightmares stopped last year - almost. The nightmare he dreaded tonight was one he'd been having for over thirty years. Eventually though sleep got the better of him, as he knew it would.

In the living room, Sam was stood looking out of the window, unable to sleep and trying not to imagine what his apartment would be like. He knew what had started the fire, didn't need the fire department to tell him. As soon as he realized it was his apartment that the flames were coming from, he knew what he'd done, or more accurately not done. What the hell possessed him to want waffles at that hour of the night?

Josh's eyes snapped open, he was cold but sweating and he could feel the tears on his face. He tried not to remember the dream - but he still had the acrid taste in his mouth, could still smell the smoke. He put the bedside lamp on and drew a ragged breath. The nightmare was always the same. He knew she was there, trapped. He smelled the smoke, the burning, he heard the cracking of wood, the breaking of glass, he felt the heat as he ran from the house, and then the cold as he stood outside on the grass.

In the living room, Sam was lying awake on the couch, he saw the light come on in Josh's bedroom. A few minutes later he heard Josh walk across the room. For some reason he pretended to be asleep when Josh walked past him to the bathroom. Then he heard the sound of Josh splashing water on his face and he knew what had happened. When the bathroom door opened Sam asked, "You okay, Josh?"

Josh looked toward Sam, "Yeah, yeah I'm fine. Night, Sam." The bedroom door closed and Sam sighed. Josh had never told him much about what had happened and Sam really believed that Josh would feel better if he didn't keep it to himself.

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The next morning, Sam awakened to the smell of coffee and toast. 'Who the hell's in the kitchen?' he thought, rolling over in bed, only realizing that he was actually on a sofa when he hit the floor with thud.

"You okay there?" Josh grinned from the kitchen doorway, laughing when Sam tried to get up and promptly tripped over the duvet and fell flat on his face. "Coffee, eggs?" he asked, trying very hard to sound serious, and failing miserably.

"This really isn't funny," Sam moaned, stumbling again and finally sitting back on the couch. "Coffee and eggs'd be great. What time is it?"

"About 8. Scrambled?"

"Yeah thanks. Can I use the shower?" Sam asked, "and I don't suppose I could borrow something to wear could I? Besides what I was wearing last night, the only clothes I've got are a pair of jeans and a sweater at work."

"Sure, casual stuff's in the second closet." Josh grinned at Sam's amazed look, Josh wasn't after all the most tidy or organized person on earth. "Donna arranged them," he shrugged.

Sam's look was now questioning. "Donna arranges your clothes for you? You two have the weirdest relationship, you know that right?"

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Saturday Afternoon

"The guy said 3, it's nearly 20 past - where the hell is he?" Sam complained as they waited outside his building for the fire investigator.

Josh grinned at Sam and shook his head. "He's impatient to check how much of a mess his place is in, you know he likes stuff to be tidy," he told Donna.

"And now he's staying with 'Mr Organized Chaos'," Donna laughed.

"Hey, I can always find my stuff."

"Yeah, once you've called me."

"That's only 'cos you keep tidying stuff away - it's like a compulsion."

Sam just looked at the two of them. "Weirdest relationship," he muttered. "Guys, he's here."

Sam let them into the building and they followed the detective up to Sam's third floor apartment. "The fire damage is mainly confined to the kitchen and living room, although there's smoke and water damage in the entire apartment. It looks like an appliance, possibly a waffle iron, was left on in the kitchen. It's quite safe, you can look around and take anything away you want, but you won't be living here for a while I'm afraid."

Sam stood in shock as he surveyed the destruction. Donna touched him on the arm. "You okay? You want me and Josh to check out your clothes and stuff? Sam?"

"Yeah, please. I need my work stuff and anything else you can think of. There's a suitcase and some bags in the spare room." He turned back to the investigator. "So what happens now, what do I have to do?"

Josh walked into Sam's bedroom and looked around. The smell of smoke was starting to bother him and he opened the window wider to let in some fresh air. There was no fire damage in the room, just some soot marks around the door. When he opened the closet doors, he noticed his hands were shaking and he saw Donna giving him with a concerned look. "I'm fine," he assured her. "Let's just get this done, then we can get out of here." Donna placed her hand on his and he smiled sadly and they continued packing.

Sam interrupted them, "The fire guy's gone. There's nothing to salvage in the kitchen and not much in the living room. Although I have saved a few CDs," he said, causing Josh to groan. "You'll learn to love 'em."

Josh looked at him as they left the apartment. "I never have before, Sam. I'm telling you that not one of those classical CDs are going to play on my CD player."

"That's okay, I can get my own. Anyway, I've heard you listen to classical music when you think no-one's around. You're a closet Schubert fan," he laughed, not noticing the inward look in Josh's eyes as he walked down the stairs.

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Saturday Evening, Georgetown

"I still don't see why we couldn't just go out and get drunk," Sam complained as the three of them sat on Josh's front stoop. "We can't sit here all night anyway, it's going to rain."

Donna rolled her eyes. "I think Josh'll let us inside, Sam. Anyway, I really didn't feel like dragging round every bar in Georgetown tonight. And no, you couldn't have gone on your own, there's no way I'm having CJ come back on Tuesday to have to fix whatever mess you two drunken idiots caused tonight."

"That's fair enough," Sam agreed, "but can we have takeout?"

"Chinese?" Josh suggested, getting up and heading inside as the first drops of rain began to fall.

Sam was soon on the phone placing the order. "Get two spring rolls," Josh called from the kitchen.

"I don't want one," Donna told him.

"You always say that and then eat most of mine, so this time you can have your own."

"I won't eat it," she replied.

"No, but when you steal mine I can have the spare one," Josh said.

"Well, then I'll take that one as well," Donna smiled.

"I know," Josh grinned.

Sam watched from the doorway, "weird," he muttered.

Sam sat on the couch and checked through the TV guide. "Well there's nothing on," he said, "let's get a video."

Josh glanced out the window at what looked like monsoon season. "I'm not going out in that!" he told Sam. "Choose one from the cabinet."

"I'll choose," Donna cried, rushing into the room from the kitchen with three beers. "Oh stop sighing, it's Josh's video collection." She rummaged around and finally came up with Titanic.

Both men groaned loudly. "That's a terrible movie," Josh said.

"Yes it is," Sam agreed, "it's a girl's film. Why couldn't you choose something with a bit of action?" Then he looked at Josh. "Hold on, if you think it's terrible, why is it in your cabinet?"

"It's Donna's, she left it here, along with Four Weddings And A Funeral, You've Got Mail, Fried Green Tomatoes and God knows what else."

"Dare I ask why?"

"I had to have something to watch while he was sleeping," Donna replied. "Anyway it's a good film. Did you know that the scenes at the beginning from the submarine are real shots. And the director chose the actors that most looked like the person they were playing. Also......"

The door buzzer sounded and Sam stood up, returning a few minutes later with the Chinese takeout. He spread the cartons over the coffee table, Donna put Titanic in the VCR and Josh brought more beer from the kitchen. "I'm counting how many you have," Donna warned.

They settled down to watch the video, as the thunder roared outside. "He's one strong guy," Sam commented when Jack pulled Rose up the back of the ship.

After they finished the food, Josh went to the kitchen for more beer. "Hey, you've had three already," Donna called to him.

"Donna!" Josh whined. "It's Sunday tomorrow, I don't have to get up. I'm in my apartment, so I don't have to get home. I'm having another beer."

Donna sighed, "Okay, on your head be it."

Sam grinned, "Really weird."

As the film dragged on, the boys, both getting a little drunk, were shouting at the lookouts to notice the iceberg. "There you are you see - too late," Sam told the TV. "Don't try and port round it, it's better to hit it head on, it'll damage less compartments.... okay then, don't listen to me." Josh and Donna looked at him and grinned.

"My great-grandfather's friend and his wife were on Titanic you know," Sam told them.

"Did they survive?" Donna asked

"No, there wasn't enough room in the lifeboats for him; women and children first and all that, and she wouldn't leave him. Her friends said that he tried to get her to go with them in a boat, but she refused."

Donna sighed from the floor, where she was sitting leaning on Josh's leg. "That's so romantic. I don't think I could leave someone I loved behind."

"Oh here we go, the final scramble up the decks," Sam said. "Hey, Josh, where's Amy?"

"Amy? I thought the heroine was Rose?" was Josh's reply.

"Four beers and he's gone," Donna muttered. "Amy, your girlfriend!"

"Oh, Amy. Err..... Texas I think, why?"

"What's she doing there?"

"Really have no idea."

Sam looked at him. "Tell me again why you're together."

"Guys, you're missing the film," Donna told them. "Josh, move over I want to sit on the couch." She sat down and rested her head on Josh's shoulder. "Ah, it's lovely the way he gives her the door to lie on. You see that was an age of chivalry."

"Yeah," Josh said, "it's lovely the way she lets him hang in the freezing cold water, even though she's got the only life jacket."

"Chivalry, Josh!" Donna replied. "Are you saying you wouldn't do that for the one you love?"

When the movie ended, they all got up in search of food and drink. "So, did she die at the end or was she just dreaming?" Donna asked.

"She was dreaming," Sam told her. "Jack promised her she wouldn't die there."

"Nah, he promised her she wouldn't die there, that night," Josh said. "So she died there like 70 years later. Hey, Donna, it's late and still raining, stay here tonight."

"There's nowhere to sleep. I'll get a cab." She turned to Josh, "What time are you two starting the big clear out tomorrow, I want to know what embarrassing stuff your mom put in those boxes from Connecticut," she grinned.

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Sunday Afternoon

By 4pm, the guest room was looking like a bedroom again and they'd finally decided to sort out the boxes.

"What are you going to do with this stuff after we unpack?" Donna asked.

Josh shrugged. "Take out the stuff I want and pack the rest up again. I'll ask the super about keeping it in the basement, there's some storage space down there."

"It's a good job your mom's more organized than you, she's at least written on the boxes," Donna commented as she brought over the box labeled 'clothes.'

"I haven't lived at home since I was 18, so I think most that stuff will have come back in fashion and gone out again. Let's just put that for Good Will."

"No," Sam laughed, "there could be something you want in it, we have to go through it. See now these are your classic clothes from 'the decade that taste forgot'. You were a trendy dude back then weren't you?" he grinned, holding up an orange and red stripped sweater.

"Okay guys, fun's over," Josh grinned, he picked up his ringing cell phone and put it back down unanswered when he saw the caller id say Amy.

"Books," Sam said. "You want to go through these next?" Josh nodded. "Law books, I'll just put those straight back then," Sam smiled.

"Yeah, I should get some proper storage boxes for those, they were my dad's," Josh said. "Hey," he laughed, "I don't believe my mom kept all these," he picked out some old school text books. "I think they can go into storage. Anything I wanted, I took when I left home."

"Let's have a drink and then move on to 'Kids' and 'Pictures'," Sam suggested, getting up and going to the kitchen. "What'd you two want? Coffee, tea, something cold?"

"Tea," they both replied.

"'K, do you have pot?"

"Sam, I have tea bags and mugs."

"Okay, but it's not the same unless it's made in a pot you know."

Donna, looked over at Josh who had just opened the 'Kids' box and was quietly looking at the contents. "You okay?" she asked but he didn't seem to hear her. "Josh?" she asked.

Josh glanced at Donna, "Yeah, I just didn't realize this stuff existed," he said. "There's some toys from when I was little, I.... I thought it'd all been destroyed." He smiled sadly as he took out a battered stuffed dog. "This was Joanie's, I used to steal it off her. Why would my mom not want this stuff?" he asked.

"She's probably got some and thought you'd like some too," Donna told him.

Josh put the dog on the couch. "The rest can go into storage."

"Well that just leaves 'Pictures etc' to do," Donna said and passed him the box.

He took out some trophies he'd won in high school along with some other sports stuff then reached the photos. There were some packs of loose pictures and some in frames. He looked at the framed ones first. There were a couple of his grandparents, one of his parents' wedding and some school photos of himself.

"Ahh," Donna said, "don't you look all cute in your school uniform. How old were you there then?" she asked, holding up one of the pictures.

Josh though wasn't listening, he was looking a picture of a man, a teenage girl and a boy of about 8 or 9, who were stood on a beach watching something and laughing, the girl had her arms around the boy's shoulders. "Why didn't she tell me this was in here?" he said, more to himself than anyone else.

"Who is it?" Sam asked.

"It's me, my dad and Joanie, it was...... it must have been taken a couple of months before she died. We were flying kites on the beach, I don't know who took the picture though." He put the picture on the bookcase, while Sam and Donna looked at each other.

Josh sat back down. "Pass me a pack of the loose ones," he said to Sam. Most of the loose pictures were of Josh's teenage years, much to Sam and Donna's amusement. Some were later though and Donna nearly fell off the chair laughing at one of Josh and Sam taken around 15 years ago. They appear to have been playing baseball, or at least Sam was holding a bat. "Excellent hair there, Sam," she grinned.

"Give me that," Sam said. "Wow, don't we look young?"

"We were," Josh smiled. "Right, I'll keep the photos here, let's put the rest back in the boxes and get some dinner. Takeout or shall we venture into Georgetown?"

"Pizza," Donna said. "I need to go home and feed Candi's cats, I'll get pizza and beer on the way back."

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While Donna was out, Josh and Sam carried Josh's boxes down into the basement storage and then moved Sam belongings into the guest room. By the time Donna returned everything was tidy and the boys were sat watching TV. After eating the pizza they put another video on and were watching Independence Day, when Josh's cell phone rang.

"It's Amy," Josh sighed, stood up and walked into the kitchen. Although Donna and Sam couldn't hear what was being said, they could tell from Josh's tone that he wasn't happy. A couple of minutes later he returned to the lounge, picked up his car keys and told them he was going to see Amy and he wouldn't be long.

"Well that didn't sound good," Sam commented once Josh had left.

Donna carried on watching the film. "They're always the same," she told Sam. "They argue, she says stuff I'd rather not know. He storms over there and they make up. Let's watch the film."

An hour later the door opened and Josh walked in. "What I miss?" he asked.

"Well," Donna said, "apparently, even though the aliens are a technologically advanced race, they haven't updated that technology in 40 years."

"Also, it's possible to bring down an entire invading alien army with an Apple notebook," Sam added. "How's Amy?"

"She's not too happy with me. She'd wanted me to go with her to a lunch today, but I told her I was busy," Josh shrugged. "So, after she told me again what a terrible boyfriend I am, how thoughtless I am and how I'm obviously not trying with the relationship, we broke up," he told them. "Oh, and she threw things. Some of which hit me," he complained and rubbed his arm.

"You don't seem too depressed there buddy," Sam said.

"I guess not," Josh replied. "Move up, I want to see the, 'we stole this scene from Star Wars' bit." They watched the film quietly for a few minutes, until Josh asked. "I'm not a expert in physics, though I've done some reading," he laughed as his friends groaned. "But wouldn't an object the size of Manhattan, falling at speed from space, cause some kind of environmental disaster - you know, like the dinosaurs?"

Donna and Sam both looked at him. "So you're fine about you and Amy then?" Sam asked.

"Honestly?" Josh said. "No. I'm pissed off that I've wasted the last, how ever long, seeing her when I could have been with people who, you know, actually like me and can remember my name."

"Okay then," Sam agreed. "Beer?"

At 1am they decided to call it a night. "Donna, stay here," Sam said. "One of us will run you home to feed the cats and get changed on the way in in the morning."

"Yeah, okay," she agreed, "I'll take the couch." She ignored Sam's protests and got the some bedding out of the guest room closet.

Josh came out of the bathroom, "You staying?" he asked Donna.

"Yeah, you can take me home in the morning and feed Milly and Spike, while I get dressed."

"They hate me, Donna," Josh whined.

"For God's sake, Josh, they're cats," Donna replied.

"Yeah," Josh muttered.

Donna walked back out of the kitchen. "Did you call your mom and thank her for the cookies?"

Josh looked at her. "No, I thought seeing as you ate them, you should call her."

"I did."

"I know, you speak to her more than I do," Josh smiled.

"It's only a case of picked up the phone and dialing, Josh."

"I think she likes you better than me, you're the favorite."

"Well obviously, after all, I make the effort to call."

Sam listened from the kitchen and smiled, "the weirdest relationship.

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Monday

The next morning Sam drove Donna to her apartment to get changed. "Why's Milly glaring at me like that?" he asked.

"Probably because that's Spike and he objects to you thinking he's a girl," Donna replied. "Anyway it's not just you, they don't like men. Spike usually leaps on Josh from cupboards," she grinned.

"He didn't seem to sleep too well last night," Sam said. "Josh I mean," he added. "When I got up in the night he was sat in the kitchen in the dark."

"I know."

"You think he's alright? I mean I asked him if he was, but his answer wasn't too convincing."

Donna picked up her bag and coat, "Let's go," she said, but Sam was still looking questioningly at her. "He's fine, Sam, he always is."

They drove to work in silence. Sam had shared an apartment with Josh before. He knew he had nightmares about the fire when he was a child and he was fairly sure that was what was wrong last night. As they entered the parking lot, Donna said. "I know what you're thinking and you're right. Going through the stuff, especially the photographs was hard for him. But he'll be fine, Sam. Don't go walking on egg shells around him all day, you'll drive him nuts." She looked at Sam as they got out of the car. "But don't push it any further, please."

A couple of hours later Donna was sitting at her desk when Leo walked up to her. "Morning, Donna, is he in?" he asked.

"He's with Toby. He shouldn't be long, you want me to tell him......"

"DONNA!"

"Ah, here he is now," she smiled. "Yes, Joshua?"

Josh walked up to her. "Have you seen the blue file on the thing with Toby?" Donna handed it to him. "Thanks."

"You always bellow like that at Donna?" Leo asked as he followed Josh into his office.

"Right," Josh smiled at him, "'cos you'd never yell at Margaret. What's up?" he asked.

"Banner's just called me," Leo said and Josh sat down behind his desk and sighed. "Yes," Leo agreed. "He says he's now got Turner and Crook to back him on 832."

"Turner'll come back if we agree to his restrictions on Homeplan, which isn't a great loss. I know Crook's Chief of Staff, I'll call him and see what's going on. They're not the problem, Leo, Banner is, and I'm seeing him on Wednesday. It'll be fine."

"Okay, keep me up to date," Leo instructed. As he turned to leave he noticed the stuffed toy dog on the stereo. "Hey, where'd he come from?" he asked.

Josh smiled. "We were unpacking some stuff my mom sent from Connecticut, he was in one of the boxes. I didn't know he was still around."

"Your dad had him on a shelf in his office for years, along with a picture of you, him and Joanie flying kites," Leo said, looking searchingly at Josh.

"Yeah, that was there too, it's at home," Josh replied quietly. Then he looked up and grin spread across his face. "Actually," he laughed, "there were pictures of you, Jenny and Mal as well. Mal looked about 5 or 6 - you'll be relieved to hear that I kept those from Sam and Donna, for now."

"You gonna blackmail me?" Leo smiled.

Donna popped her head round the door. "Leo, Margaret just called to remind you you're meeting Treasury in 5 minutes."

"See you later." Leo left, still grinning to himself.

Once alone, Josh picked up the phone and dialed. "Hey, mom. How you doing?...... I'm fine. Thanks for the cookies by the way, Donna says they were lovely...... I now she did," he laughed and then looked at Puddle. "We unpacked the stuff from Westport yesterday....... Well, I'm slow, what can I say," he smiled, the smile soon faded though. "I'd have unpacked sooner if I'd known what was in there....... Yeah, I'm fine. It was just, I didn't realize some of that stuff existed. Especially Puddle, and the photo of me, dad and Joanie on the beach. Look, I'm gonna try and get down there in a couple of weeks, it's mad here though...... Yeah, well elections are a pain, if we could find a way of scrapping them...... Bugged phones in the White House, mom I'm shocked," he laughed. Donna walked in and pointed to her watch. "I gotta go, mom, Donna says hi by the way. I'll speak to you soon."

Donna smiled at him, "You tell her about Amy?"

"Nah, got to leave something for you and her to gossip about." He picked up some files and walked out of the office.

Chapter 2 - Not Before Time....................