Title: Time To Heal
Summary: When Josh has the flu, Donna remembers what a terrible patient he is and Sam decides it's time to mend the rift between them.
Spoilers/Episode: Anything up to season 4, Angel Maintenance.
Characters: Ensemble & Sam
Disclaimer: They all belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, John Wells and many others who aren't me.
The seatbelt sign had come on and the plane was in it's holding pattern, waiting permission to land at Dulles. Sam stared out of the window and smiled. He thought he'd finally got everything straight in his head. Now he just had to explain it Josh.
It had taken him a while to work out what had gone wrong, but now it seemed so obvious, he'd lost his idealism. Once he'd worked that out he just had to work out when. That answer was a lot easier to find. August 7th, 2000. That was when it happened. When he saw his best friend lying bleeding on those cold concrete steps, that was when he knew that Josh had been right all those years ago when he'd told him, one drunken night, that shit happened to good people and the world wasn't always a good place.
After Rosslyn things just kept going wrong. Josh appeared to be recovering well, when he had a breakdown. He fought through that and came out the other end, just as Sam discovered his father had been having an affair since he was a kid. He started to speak to his father again and the President announced he lied and didn't tell them he had MS. Straight after that Mrs Landingham had died. Then there were the hearings. One thing after another until it became too much.
So now he understood what had happened, he knew it wasn't any one person who was responsible and it certainly wasn't his friends that were to blame. Finally it was time to repair his oldest friendship, and maybe explain it all to Josh.
Josh couldn't believe how nervous and exited he was as he stood at the arrivals gate and waited for Sam. It had been a month since they last met, and that visit to California was a disaster. Sam was stressed by the campaign and Josh knew he didn't help by upsetting Scott. During the trip their relationship had deteriorated even further than it had in previous months. Now he was determined to repair the rift and make Sam's visit a good one. He checked his watch and turned back to the arrivals board, the flight should have landed by now.
Sam walked down the concourse and smiled at the site of Josh, looking slightly lost and staring at the arrivals board. "Josh," he shouted.
Josh turned back to the gate and grinned as Sam walked up to him. "Hey, how you doing?"
"Fine. It was a good flight."
The two friends stood and looked at each for a moment, before Josh smiled slightly, took a step forward and hugged Sam. "It's great to see you."
Sam laughed as he hugged Josh, "You too."
"We should probably go now, before people get the wrong idea about us," Josh grinned.
They left the airport and went straight back to Josh's apartment. They were meeting the others the next day, tonight was for them to catch up. By midnight they'd covered work, women and baseball and the conversation moved into more uncertain territory; Sam's reasons for running for the 47th and for not returning to Washington when he lost.
"Do you remember when we first met?" Sam asked.
Josh laughed, "I remember coming back from work to find the apartment clean and tidy, I thought I'd got the wrong building."
Sam smiled as he looked around Josh apartment. "So either you've changed dramatically, or Donna's been round."
"Are you suggesting that my assistant cleans my apartment for me?"
"I'm suggesting that you've been off work all week and this place is extremely tidy," Sam grinned.
"It is possible that Donna may have forced me to tidy up," Josh agreed. "So, when we first met?" he prompted.
"Was I naive and idealistic?"
If Josh was surprised by the question, he didn't show it. "Maybe a little."
"Did it annoy you?"
"No, it was refreshing. Why?"
"I never expected to win the 47th you know."
"Fifteen years ago I would have been convinced I'd win. Hell, five years ago I would have too. You think I should warn Will?" Sam asked as he opened another bottle of beer. "You sure you don't want any?"
Josh shook his head. "I'm on antibiotics. Warn Will about what?"
"That he'll loose his idealism."
"I wouldn't worry about Will. He found out during the Kundu thing that being in the White House doesn't mean you can always effect change."
"God. He'd only been there a couple of weeks then. That happened quick." Sam wished Josh was drunk, it would make it so much easier to talk to him. "Doesn't being on antibiotics just mean you get drunk quicker?"
"Like I need anything to get me drunk quicker," Josh laughed. "I think it stops them working and then Donna will kill me, and you."
"Very true," Sam agreed. He looked down for a second and then said, "It was the White House that stole it you know?"
"The building?" Josh asked with a smile.
"No, no. Being in the White House, it stole my idealism."
Now Josh was beginning to understand what had been going on. If Sam blamed being in the White House for loosing his idealism - something that Josh didn't think was necessarily a bad thing - then he probably blamed Josh as well, because it was his fault that Sam worked there.
"You wish you'd stayed at Gage whoever?" Josh asked.
"Yeah, sometimes. No, not really. I'm glad we went to New Hampshire. I'm glad we won. It's just a lot of the stuff since we won, that's what I wish hadn't happened. You must feel that way as well?"
"Yeah, but all in all I enjoyed the last four years. I mean there are some things.... "
"You enjoyed it?" Sam asked incredulously. "You enjoyed being shot, you enjoyed all those months recuperating? You enjoyed the MS disclosure and the hearings?"
"I was going to say there were some things I wish hadn't happened....."Josh began, but Sam was on a role.
"That was when it started you know. I've thought about it and that's what I decided."
"When what started?"
"Rosslyn. Rosslyn was when it started to go wrong."
"There's been good things since Rosslyn, we've had some good times, we've achieved plenty."
"Maybe. But everything good we achieved was still clouded by the bad." Sam tried to think how to explain things to Josh. "I honestly thought when we won that we'd make a difference, I thought it was our time and we'd do good." He smiled sadly, "I wasn't so naive as to believe there wouldn't be fights and problems. I knew things would go wrong, but I never imagined they'd be on the scale they were. By the time of hearings, the crap was starting to outweigh the good. Even in the campaign, every time we seemed to be winning, something would happen. I just had to get out." He looked at Josh. "Does that make sense?"
"Yeah," Josh nodded. "I do know what you mean. There are times when I sit at work and wonder what the hell I'm doing. But then something comes along, we achieve something, get a bill through, get more funding for something and it all makes sense again. That didn't happen for you?"
"Maybe it's 'cos I've been in Washington a lot longer. Or because I've never worked anywhere else and I've nothing to compare it to. I don't know." Then Josh grinned, "Maybe I'm just so cynical that I only expect bad stuff to happen and the good's always a pleasant surprise."
Sam couldn't help but smile at that. That had always been one of the strengths of their friendship, the fact that they were so opposite. Even when they first met, Josh was only 26 but he'd been almost as cynical then as he was now. They'd evened each other out; Sam's naivety and idealism against Josh's cynicism. It had worked, but Sam never expected to become cynical himself.
"I wanted to explain, before I left for California," Sam said. "I wanted to explain then why, win or loose, I wasn't coming back. But I couldn't really understand it myself. I'm sorry, I should have at least told you I no intention of coming back here."
"I already knew that," Josh admitted. "I could see you were unhappy. When you talked about the 47th, when I told you you should run, I knew then that you were leaving for good. Even if Will hadn't talked you into running, you'd have found another reason to leave Washington."
"Yeah," Sam agreed, "I would have."
Josh looked suddenly very serious, because this was extremely important. "Are we okay now? I mean we said we were in California, but we were lying. So now.....?"
"Yeah," Sam smiled. "At least I am," he gave Josh a questioningly look.
"Good," Josh grinned. "If I could drink, I propose a toast."
Sam smiled, handed Josh a can of Coke and raised his beer bottle. "Starting over," he toasted.
"Starting over," Josh echoed as he raised his can.
SaturdayThe following morning, Saturday, they arrived at the White House at 10am and were stopped by security. "That was last week," Josh argued with the guard.
"I'm sorry, those are Mr McGarry's instructions. You're not allowed in the building."
Josh looked at Sam, "Stop laughing."
"Mr Seaborn can go through."
"Hang on, Sam doesn't work here anymore, how come..... never mind I know, Leo's orders. What am I suppose to do?"
"Take a seat and read a magazine," Sam suggested with a grin, before walking into the west wing.
"Hey," Leo smiled as Sam entered his office. "How you doing?"
"I'm well. You?"
"Yeah. What have you done with Josh?"
Sam grinned, "Security wouldn't let him through."
"Ah God, I forgot about that." Leo picked up the phone and called the reception desk. Two minutes later they were joined by Josh and a guard. "Thanks, Frank," Leo smiled.
"I have to be escorted?" Josh complained.
"To keep you away from your office," Leo smiled.
"Fine," Josh sat down. "So I don't suppose there's any chance of you telling me what I've missed?"
"Not a hope in hell," Leo agreed. "Go through," he told Sam, nodding toward the Oval Office.
Sam felt ridiculously nervous as made the short walk through to the Oval Office. "Mr President," he smiled.
"Sam, take a seat."
"Thank you. How are you, Sir?"
"I'm well," Jed smiled. "You?"
"Good, now we've got the formalities over, I want to know what you've been doing the last month and, more importantly, what your plans are." Jed smiled at Sam's expression. "Don't look so worried, I know you've no intention of coming back here, not yet anyway."
Sam was relieved to hear that. His biggest worry about this meeting had been that the president would try and persuade him to come back. He knew that had been the plan. Will would take over at communications and he'd get a promotion and a nice office in the OEOB. But it wasn't what he wanted and it wasn't what he'd planned.
"I've spent the last couple of weeks apartment hunting and catching up with family and friends. Now I've got all that sorted, I have to find a job."
"Do you know what you want to do?"
Sam did know, he wanted to get back into politics, but local politics this time. Until then though, "I thought I'd go back to the law for a while. I've had a few offers, two that I'm considering."
Jed was no fool though, he knew there was more. "And in the long term?"
Sam smiled, "Local government seems to be calling my name. The mayor's office. Nothing's been discussed yet, not officially anyway, just casual conversations. And there's no election due yet, but in the future." Sam knew he was being vague, but he really hadn't decided yet.
Jed smiled. He never doubted that Sam would return to politics and the mayor's office was a good starting point for where Jed really believed Sam would be one day. He was serious last year when he'd told Sam that one day he'd would run for the presidency, Jed just hoped he was still around to witness him take the oath of office.
"Samuel," CJ smiled when she joined them in the restaurant.
"Hey," Sam stood up and hugged her. "How've you been? I didn't see you this morning."
"I wasn't in, I had to prepare for tonight," CJ smiled. "Is Will coming?"
"He can't," Sam replied. "He's got a prior engagement. I saw him earlier though. He seems to be settling in okay."
"Now his hazing's over," CJ grinned and glanced at Josh, who just smiled innocently.
"You're late," Josh told her. "We ordered for you. You do like calamari?"
"You'd better not have."
"We ordered lamb," Donna told her.
"Thank you. Come on then," CJ told Sam, "what are your plans? What's so great in California that's keeping you away from us?"
"The weather," Sam laughed.
"Sam!" CJ chided. "You can't stay unemployed, sorry," she smiled, "studying your options, forever. What are your plans?"
"When I said I was studying my options, I really do have some," Sam insisted.
"You could come back here," Toby told him. He's been surprised, in the last few months, quite how much he's missed Sam. He knew what Sam's reply would be though.
"No, sorry that wasn't one of them."
"Go on then," Charlie prompted.
Sam glanced at Josh, knowing how much he was going to hate the first option. "My dad's offered me a partnership at his firm."
"Seriously?" CJ smiled. "That'd be great. I mean you and your dad working together, it'd be 'Seaborn and Son'."
"Well, it'd be Ratcliffe, Seaborn, Baker and Seaborn," Sam amended.
"You'd get your name in the title straight away?" Donna asked.
"Twice," Josh added dryly.
"I knew you'd hate it," Sam told Josh.
"I never said.... Yeah okay," Josh agreed. "It'd be like going back to Gage Whitney."
"That's why I don't want to do it. The trouble is, I don't know how to tell him. I don't want him to think it's because of what he did, the affair, because it isn't."
"Then explain that to him," CJ said, moving a bottle of beer away from Josh and shaking her head.
"CJ," Josh whined.
"Antibiotics," CJ replied.
"Yeah," Josh sighed, before turning back to Sam, "So tell him the real reason."
"He wouldn't believe me. When I started at Princeton, hell when I started elementary school, that was the idea. One day I'd become a partner in my dad's firm. So how do I tell him that I don't want to?"
No one had an answer to that, but luckily the food had arrived so they were spared the need to respond straight away. Finally Donna asked, "What are your other options?"
Sam smiled. "There's a small law firm in Anaheim that's offered me a job. They can't offer me a partnership, but I'm not bothered about that."
"What do they do?" Josh asked.
"Mainly litigation, which I'm quite good at," Sam said a smile. "They defend small companies against corporate giants."
"Suicide, no win cases?" Toby asked.
"Yeah," Sam agreed.
"Corporate giants, who are most likely defended by your father?" Josh asked with a slight smile.
"You can see my problem."
"He's gonna be.... unhappy," Josh tried hard not to grin.
"So how do I tell him?"
"Be honest," Toby replied.
Josh nodded. "Or, tell him you'll work at Seaborn and Son if they start taking pro bono cases, if they start defending the little guy."
"He'll think I've lost my mind," Sam sighed.
"Then blame me," Josh grinned.
"Yeah," Sam agreed. "That's always worked before." He saw the confused, yet slightly amused, expressions on the faces of the others and explained. "When I first interned in Washington my dad thought it was a passing phase. When I went back and stayed with Josh again my dad decided he was a bad influence but I'd outgrow him."
"You'd outgrow me?" Josh asked.
"Yeah," Sam laughed. "When I started working a Dewey Ballantine he blamed Josh then as well."
"Why?" Donna asked.
"The senior partner was a friend of my dad's," Josh informed them. "Had nothing to do with Sam working there, but they're not the sort of law firm his father had in mind for him."
"You were a adult by this time weren't you?" Toby asked Sam.
"Not to my dad," Sam replied. "Anyway, when I moved to Gage Whitney he was thrilled, so was Lisa. You know, that's probably why my dad and Lisa got on so well, they both had the same ideas about where my life should be going."
"You've only just worked that out?" Josh asked.
"Yeah," Sam admitted. "Lisa never liked you either," he smiled at Josh.
"I don't know how I sleep at night," Josh smiled. "Can't I just have one beer?" he asked Donna and CJ. "You're all getting drunk and I'm completely sober."
"No," Donna told him. "You want to have to take more time off work? You finish the medication on Tuesday. Three more days, Josh, then you can drink again." She turned back to Sam, "What did your dad think when you joined Bartlet For America?"
"He thought I was insane. Him and Lisa both blamed Josh's influence." A thought suddenly occurred to Sam, "You know that's quite insulting. It's like they think I don't have a mind of my own."
"Yes," Josh agreed, as Donna stole a piece of chicken off his plate. "I might have wanted that," he told her.
"Here," Donna passed Josh a piece of her steak.
"Thanks," Josh smiled and the others shook their heads and grinned.
Toby turned his attention back to Sam. "So show your father that you do have a mind of your own and take the job you really want."
"The one in Anaheim?"
"Yes," Toby nodded.
"Oh God," Sam muttered as he walked across the apartment. "How much did I drink last night?" he asked Josh, who was eating breakfast.
"A lot," Josh smiled. "Headache?"
"I am never drinking again." Ten minutes later Sam emerged from the bathroom, looking slightly more alive and carrying a handful of headache tablets. "There's one thing I haven't told you," he said as he sat down with a glass of water. "I was thinking about running for the mayor's office," he looked questioningly at Josh.
"Next year?" Josh asked.
"Yeah. What do you think?"
Josh looked thoughtful for a second. "It'd be a tough campaign, but I think you could do it. Get the right staff and you'd be in with good chance."
"Don't suppose you fancy living in California then?"
"I'm a New Englander," Josh grinned. "I'm not use to all that sunshine and heat."
"True," Sam smiled. Although he had been joking, he would have been extremely happy if Josh had agreed.
"You should ask Joey Lucas. You'd have a damn good chance with her running your campaign."
"I'd thought about that. You think she would? I mean she's use to national politics, it'd be a step down for her."
"She use to take any job she could, she said there's not too much work out there for deaf campaign managers. Now though, she can afford to be a bit more choosy and she works for candidates she believes in. She'd believe in you."
"Thanks," Sam smiled. "If I do run though will you do me favor?"
"Keep the president away?" Josh grinned.
"Yes," Sam agrees. "I mentioned it to him yesterday, kind of vaguely, but he seemed to think I'd have a good chance."
"Do you remember when he gave us the chess sets?"
"I didn't get one," Josh reminded him.
"Maybe he didn't feel he needed a deep and meaningful conversation with me," Josh smiled. "What about them?"
"He told me that I'd run for president one day and that I shouldn't afraid."
"Well, the mayor's office is a good first step on that road."
"And you'd be free by then."
"Nothing would keep me away." He watched Sam for a moment, "I will help all I can, with the mayor's office."
"I know you will. I didn't really expect you to quit this."
"What about law? Your new job I mean?"
"I've warned the partners that I may not available for long, so that shouldn't be a problem. Of course if I really start to enjoy defending the little guy, I may give politics a miss for a few years. We'll see how it goes."
Sunday afternoon seemed to arrive far too quickly, and before they knew it they were all stood in the departures area at Dulles waiting for Sam's flight to start boarding. The last time he flew out of Washington Sam had felt relieved, now though he felt a little sad. He really had missed his friends in the last few months. He'd missed CJ's whit, Toby's dry sarcasm, Donna's refreshingly optimistic views, Charlie's humor and Josh's unconditional friendship. He couldn't believe now that he almost threw all that away because of work.
"You can all come to California next time," Sam told them.
"You think we'd all manage to get time off work together?" Donna asked.
"Maybe not ," Sam agreed. "Well, you can all come individually, I don't care, as long as we keep in touch."
"Telephone, email, letter, postcard," CJ reminded him.
"Yeah, but it's not the same."
"You can't complain," Charlie told him. "You're the one who moved away."
"You know what I miss?" Sam suddenly remembered. "Basketball. You all still play?"
"Yes," Toby smiled, "only now Josh and Charlie don't always win."
"Really?" Sam asked.
"Yeah," Charlie sighed. "Will's actually quite good. In fact I was thinking about swapping the teams around."
"Hey!" Josh protested.
Sam smiled at them arguing, that was something else he's missed, the camaraderie, and he's glad Will was being included in the group. "That's my flight," he told them. "I should go."
"Call us when you get home," CJ told him.
Sam laughed, "Yes, mom." He gave them all a final hug, promised to keep in better touch, picked up his hand luggage and walked away. When he reached the door, he turned to find them all stood watching. He smiled at them before walking through the door and on to the plane.
"So," CJ said.
"Yeah," Josh agreed, as he turned away from the gate.
"Let's go somewhere," Charlie suggested.
"Hawk and Dove," CJ replied.
"I can't drink," Josh moaned.
Donna laughed, "Well there's no change there then."