He was drifting in a place without light or substance, languidly floating with no sense of up or down, left or right. It was kind of nice, actually. Quiet. Peaceful.

Except...that slight background buzz was growing louder. Before long it resolved into actual words.

"—walked right into the door –"

"God, I am so sorry –"

"—always thought he'd grow out of it –"

"Sam? Can you hear me?"

That got his attention. I'm Sam, he realized thickly. Sam I am.

"Geez, he's really out. Maybe we should call an ambulance." His brain was beginning to attach faces and names to the voices. That one belonged to his new friend, CJ.

"I don't think that's necessary," an unfamiliar voice responded. "I think he's coming around."

The darkness was indeed lifting. He opened his eyes to a bright blur and quickly closed them again with a groan.

"Sam," the voice insisted, "time to wake up, kiddo. Open your eyes."

He did so, cautiously, one eye at a time. There were two women leaning over him, with identical dark hair and reassuring smiles. He blinked a few times, and then there was only one. "Wha," he said, still fighting the muzziness in his brain.

"You had a little accident," the woman soothed. "According to Josh, you have a history of them."

Sam looked past her and noticed the circle of spectators he'd gathered. Most of them wore expressions of concern mixed with amusement. Josh's new assistant, however, looked horrified.

"Sam, I am so sorry," she said, wringing her pale hands. "I had no idea you were there."

Now that his senses were returning, he was acutely embarrassed. He struggled to sit up, feeling supporting hands on his back. "Wow," he exclaimed, pressing the heel of his hand to the blossom of pain in the center of his forehead.

"You took quite a shot," the strange woman confirmed. "Follow my finger. Don't move your head, just your eyes." He obeyed, watching her manicured nail move from left to right, up, down. "Any dizziness or double vision?"

"Um, no. I'm sorry, do I know you?"

One corner of her mouth turned up, but before she could answer Josh stepped forward. "Sam Seaborn, meet Doctor Abigail Bartlet."

"It's nice to meet you," Sam said, offering her the hand that wasn't pressed to the new crack in his skull. "I'm sorry," he muttered, suddenly very conscious of the fact that he was meeting the governor's wife for the first time on the floor of campaign headquarters. "I usually make a better impression than this."

Dr. Bartlet pried his hand away from his forehead and inspected the injury. "Looks like a pretty good impression to me, Tiger," she cracked. "You might have a slight concussion, nothing serious. We should probably take you to the hospital and get x-rays, just to be on the safe side."

"Oh, I don't think that's necessary, ma'am," he said quickly. "I'm feeling much better."

She sighed, but didn't argue the point. "All right, let's get you up off the floor. Donna, would you find us some ice? He's getting quite a goose egg."

Sam allowed Toby and Josh to lever him to his feet. He swayed for a second, then nodded that they could let him go. Dr. Bartlet observed him with a clinical eye.

"You can have aspirin for the pain. If you feel dizzy or nauseous, or have any trouble with your vision, you send for me immediately. Got it?"

"Yes ma'am."

"Josh, you'll need to keep an eye on him. Is he still staying with you?"

"Yes, ma'am. I'll look after him."

"All right. Call me if you need anything. Feel better, Sam."

"Thank you, ma'am."

As soon as the door closed, Sam sank into a chair with a groan. "I can't believe you called her!"

CJ ruffled his hair carefully. "We were a little worried. You were out for a few minutes."

"Yeah," Josh snickered. "Donna really walloped you one."

"I'm so embarrassed," Sam muttered, dropping his aching head into his hands. They had a long campaign ahead of them, and he dearly hoped this wasn't an omen of things to come.

END