Title: Friendships
Summary: Sam visits Washington.
Spoilers/Episode: Set in an a/u starting after season 5, Memorial Day. This chapter takes place four weeks after Chapter 3.
Characters: Ensemble, Sam and Zoey.
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: JWP, NBC and others own these characters, I'm just borrowing them.

Part VII

Georgetown, 11.30pm

"It's your fault," Will complained, "and he hates me."

"He doesn't hate you," Sam assured him. "It takes him a while to get to know people."

"Nah," Josh shook his head. "He hates you."

Sam laughed. "Still working on the staff motivation skills then, Josh?".

"I shouldn't have let him get me drink," Will suddenly looked worried. "I mean, who knows what he'll put in it?"

"They don't sell hemlock," Josh assured him.

"Is it really that bad?" Sam asked.

Josh nodded, "We have to meet in secret."

"'Cos Josh is scared of Toby," Will added.

"I am," Josh agreed as Toby returned to the table with the drinks. "No chasers for us?" Josh asked.

"You can't handle beer," Toby told him, "there's no way you're getting a chaser as well."

"You know that's just a vicious rumor spread by Donna?" Josh protested.

"Why didn't she come?" Will asked.

"She claimed she was having a girly night in with her roommate," Josh replied.

"But really she didn't want to have to look after you when you're drunk," Toby added.

"Yes," Josh nodded his head. "No, hang on, no that's not it. I don't need Donna to look after me."

"No, of course you don't," Sam replied indulgently. "Luckily I'll be able to take you home tonight."

"Good," Josh said, he leaned back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling.

Toby shook his head and smiled. He would never admit it, but happy, drunk Josh amused him.

"How are the twins?" Sam asked.

"They're good," Toby replied. "Every time I see them they've learned to do something new," he smiled with a mixture of pride and embarrassment.

"And Andi?" Sam asked.

"She's fine," Toby's answer was dismissive and didn't invite further questions.

Josh however was a little drunk. "She phoned you first," he told Toby.

"When?" Sam asked.

"Don't start," Toby warned Josh.

"I'm just saying, you were the first person she thought of."

"I'm serious," Toby told him. "Leave it."

"Okay," Josh said. "But you're making a mistake."

"What about you?" Toby couldn't help but point out.

"Completely different," Josh replied.

Sam looked at Will, "Do you ever feel you've walked into the middle of the wrong conversation?"

"Frequently," Will agreed. "I find it's best not to ask."

"Exactly the same," Toby was telling Josh.

"How's it the... forget it, I don't want to talk about it." Josh's tone earned him a curious look from Sam and concerned looks from Toby and Will, both of whom remembered Josh's face after the bomb in Gaza.

Will changed the subject. "Is CJ being punished?"

"Yes," Josh nodded.

"What for?"

Toby's good mood returned. "She questioned Charlie over his choice of Notre Dame in the sweep, the president overheard," he supplied.

"Well that was dumb," Sam said.

Two hours, and four bars, later, Will and Josh were sat at one table in an almost deserted bar discussing the merits of instant replay in football. At another table, Sam and Toby were discussing Josh and Will. "He's okay you know," Sam argued.

"Well Josh seems to like him."

"Is he alright?" Sam wondered.

"Josh?" Toby asked and Sam nodded, "As far as I know, why?"

"You looked concerned before when he was talking about Andi."

"Yeah," Toby replied. "He was talking about immediately after the bomb. Andi phoned me. He was... I've never seen Josh look so frightened, terrified even. I think if Leo hadn't sent him to Germany.... I don't know what he'd have done."

"You were worried about him," Sam smiled.

"It's a habit I can't seem to shake," Toby admitted. "So you sure about leaving California?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Couple of years ago you couldn't wait to get there."

"I know. Although in a way I'm actually glad I lost. I needed to get out of politics and the break has done me good. Plus, I got to meet Chloe," he smiled.

"You and her are serious then?"

"I know I've only known her a few months, but it's like I've known her for years. We totally click. She's my best friend, it's," he paused and grinned at the look Toby was giving him, "it's great," he said.

Toby nodded and finished his whiskey. "You don't feel ready to come back here then?"

Sam shrugged. "I have interviews with law firms," he dodged the question.

"For temporary contracts," Toby pointed out.

"Not sure whether Chloe would like sharing me with Washington. Debavoise and Plimpton are a good firm."

"Josh's father's firm," Toby remarked.

"Yeah," Sam agreed, "I do want to get back into politics, just not yet."

Toby could understand that. Loyalty to Jed Bartlet was the only thing that kept him in Washington half of the time, and when that loyalty was pushed beyond breaking point, loyalty to the team took over. Habit was sometimes the only thing that got him out of bed and into the office on a Monday morning.

He looked over at Josh and Will. Will had been thrown in at the deep end, it was no wonder he'd grasped the first passing life raft. As for Josh, Toby had no idea what made him want to carry on doing this job. He'd been shot and had almost died, he still suffered the physical side effects from that, not to mention the PTSD. Then he'd almost lost Donna because they worked in the White House.

However, there was big difference between him and Josh. Josh was doing what he'd always wanted to do. Washington and all it entailed; the battles, the challenges, every aspect of the White House and The Hill, those were who Josh was, they were a part of him and Toby doubted that Josh had ever even considered leaving.

Sam was right though, Toby couldn't help but worry about Josh, he hadn't really stopped worrying about him since August 7th 2000.

Sam was watching Toby, "You okay?"

"Yeah," Toby nodded. "We should get Josh home."

"And Will," Sam added.

"If we must," Toby grumbled.


Chapter 5 coming soon.....