Title: Fireworks From Sam

Author: coffeeplease

Rating: MATURE (sex, swearing)

Category: post-ep for Jefferson Lives, AU, Angst

Spoiler Info: Everything up to Jefferson Lives

Disclaimer: WB, NBC, John Wells, Aaron Sorkin... owners. I just lease and try not to stain the carpet. Lawsuits don't look good on me.

E-mail address for feedback: permission: Sure, just tell me first

Notes: This one's dark. Sam, Josh and Donna are not happy and are not playing well with others.

He said it was cool, but it really wasn't. He said that he didn't, couldn't, have a problem with it. Why would he have a problem with it. He didn't care. Really, he didn't. It was no big deal. Good luck with everything, Sam. Then Josh hung up and all Sam was left with was a dial tone and the guilt.

But if it was "cool" and "not a problem" why did he only get voicemail when he called Josh a week, a month, years later? Even when Donna was in the hospital and Sam thought he could make amends, there was no answer. Josh never returned his calls, unless it was formally, through his office. Donna was the one who made those calls.

He and Donna could never think of what to say. There was so much left to say and yet saying it, hearing it come through the receiver, would have twisted his insides. She could tell him that Josh hated him now or that Josh would eventually get over it. She could tell him that she hated him now, too. None of it made any difference.

They had all wanted him at the White House for that Fourth of July. Josh especially. He had left a laughing and rambling message on Sam's cell. He sounded like a cross between a mental patient and a frat boy. It would be cool, they could drink beer, they could watch the fireworks. They could count all the bruises on Zoey's face and all the months Sam had been gone and see if the numbers matched up.

"See my kids." Toby had been right to the point. "You're in town and you need to meet my kids."

"Sam, Hi, It's C.J., we all know you're in town and we all really, really want to see you. It would be... so good for us."

He had never heard C.J. sound quite like that.

Donna hadn't left a message. She wouldn't have. Couldn't have, didn't have his cell number, wouldn't get it from Josh.

Truth was, Sam Seaborn didn't want to set foot in the White House. He didn't want to see any bruises or babies. He didn't want to wrap himself in them anymore. It wasn't his world and from the outside he could see the dark shadows that surrounded his former home. Their voices spoke beyond their words and exhaustion, grief, anxiety and pain... much more than Rosslyn or MS. Why would he willingly set foot into an abyss?

He did what he came to Washington to do. Set up some meetings. Go over some paperwork. He planned to watch the fireworks from the roof of his hotel. He would crack open a beer, by himself. Reminisce without the bother of other people's memories. Stay away from the darkness.

Unfortunately, work diverted him and he ended up missing the fireworks completely. No matter, there would be more next year and the year after that. There were fireworks in every city, there were fireworks on days that weren't holidays. Perhaps it was best. Seeing explosions over the White House... would hit too close to the metaphor in the back of his head.

"Honestly, Sam, I didn't know you were staying here."

That was the first thing she had said when he found her at the hotel bar. He was relieved. She wasn't trying to find him. And she didn't sound too cheery at the thought of seeing him. He was strangely relieved by that, too. They were always the happy ones, Sam and Donna. Chipper, perky, saw the glass half-full... whatever. She already had a few Jack and Cokes.

"I honestly didn't expect to see you here."

She took a long sip.

"I honestly didn't expect to be here."

"It's nice to see you." He wasn't so sure. Not that he didn't love Donna, who didn't? But he felt the thick agony of this post-Walken White House oozing out of her pours.

She shrugged her shoulders, as if to say, why see the glass half-full if your glass has already exploded in your face? "You know how the President is fond of the "Jefferson lives" story?"

"I thought that was apocryphal." He sat down next to her, too weary for words but relieved that her habit of changing topics at breakneck pace hadn't changed.

"I have a bit to add to that story, too. You know... Sam... Amy lives."

He didn't know what to say to that, so he kept his mouth shut.

"She lives and breathes and works in the same building and she likes to wear little red dresses, so she and I have a lot in common."

"You have Josh in common." He shouldn't have said it, but he did. If she was going to get upset, he was going to let her get upset. He could do this much for his old friends.

Donna grinned, her mouth twisted and contorted. "Well, maybe we shouldn't have that in common."

"You think?"

"Maybe I should do quit."

"You won't."

"But maybe I should."

"Well," Sam folded his arms beneath him. "I'm a bad person to be giving advice about leaving the White House."

She looked at him pointedly. "You didn't go over there tonight."

"I didn't want to."

"Good." Donna downed the rest of her drink. At least, Sam mused, he and Donna were always honest with each other. If they couldn't still be chipper or perky, they could be honest.

She motioned to the bartender and repeated her "good" more firmly.

"The rest... C.J. and Toby and Josh... they can take all this better... you know." He didn't know what that meant, but she nodded her head anyway.

"I want another and he'll have what I'm having," Donna told the bartender.

He didn't know if he wanted a drink.

Donna turned to face him. "I don't want to take it better and I don't want take it worse. I need some distance right now."

"Take a vacation."

She snorted. "Please! With Josh Lyman calling me every five minutes... that's assuming he'd even let me go to begin with."

"Tell him to screw himself."

"He's got someone else to screw." Sam didn't know Donna's voice could carry so much bitterness.

He gulped a good portion of his unwanted drink and spoke again. "Amy lives."

"She does."

"He... really doesn't get it."

"Well, I'm not going to be the one to draw him a map. If this is what he wants, this is what he wants and if this is what he wants, I'm not going to say one goddamn word about it."

Sam had never heard Donna swear before.

"You shouldn't have to draw him a map. This shouldn't be on your shoulders. This shouldn't be your burden."

"I know, Sam."

"Maybe you should quit."

She sighed deeply. "But I won't."

The idea came into his head. He dismissed it at first. It was something they would never do. It was something Sam and Donna would just never do. He'd never hurt his old friend, the one who had a horrible poker face. But maybe he would. Maybe the darkness was contagious. Maybe she had beautiful eyes and long legs.

Maybe Josh deserved it.

"Why the hell is he sleeping with her again?"

"Who knows?" Donna answered. "She's there."

"So are you."

"He can't sleep with me."

"I know."

"You know," She twisted at the ends of her napkin. "He can't even say that he wants to. Because maybe someday I'll become bitter and maybe someday I'll sue his ass, or something like that."

"He has to be careful."

"I know."

"I mean it, Donna. Its not like you would ever do that, but he can't..."

"Who knows?" Donna looked at him sharply. "Maybe I would. You're a lawyer, Sam. Tell me, how much money can I get for a comment about a schoolgirl's uniform?"

"Donna, you don't really want to go there. You're just angry and... and you have a right to be. But don't talk about suing Josh for sexual harassment."

"Why?"

"Because you never will."

"Just like I'll never quit." She laughed bitterly. "How sick is this?"

She wanted revenge. The classic revenge. Sleep with his best friend. Donna knew more about this kind of politics than she ever let on. And the thought he had dismissed crept back into his mind. This wasn't them, wasn't the Sam and Donna everyone knew. And because of that, no one would ever guess.

Josh would never have to know. It would make her revenge sweeter if he did, but all three of them would probably suffer in the end. Best to dismiss the thought again, because Josh would find out. Somehow he would and Sam didn't know who Josh would be more furious at. He had a hunch it would be him.

But Josh wasn't the only one of them who had wanted to see her naked. Sam wanted that on record.

"Don't... don't belittle what you mean to him, Donna." Sam motioned the bartender.

"I know what I mean to him."

"Do you?"

"Yes. I'm his friend. His assistant. On some days, he likes me likes me." Donna fluttered her eyelashes mockingly. They were so damn long.

"More than just some days."

"I know. What good does it do either of us?"

"Donna..."

"I mean it, Sam. What happiness has that brought either of us? Hmm?" She sounded furious.

"You don't know how the story ends."

Donna took a sip. "Everyone thinks I'm so patient, Sam. Donna's so patient, she works for Josh. She has to be. But I'm not. I'm sick of waiting. And I'm waiting for something... something that will probably never happen. If it were only the job, things would be different. But its not and... and it will never happen."

"Again, you don't know that."

She slapped her hand on the bar. A few patrons turned their heads her way. "I'm done waiting."

"His loss." Sam didn't know why his voice sounded so low and gravely. He was not going to seduce Donnatella Moss. Not when she was pining, yet done waiting, for his best friend. His best friend, currently with a woman who, to put it charitably, did not bring out the best in him. Sam didn't have anything against Amy but he didn't have anything for her, either. Unlike the tipsy blond who was apparently leaving on the next train away from this disaster.

"I quit, Sam." Her voice sounded wounded and seductive. "I quit this."

"You won't, Donna. You say it and say it, but you won't."

"And you think less of me for it." Now her voice was brittle.

"I don't. I think... I think you are patient and kind and I think its entirely possible that you are done waiting, but not yet ready to quit. I think once he realizes..."

"Don't. Don't... fill me with false hope."

"Okay."

"I need all hope to be lost."

"It seems like..." Sam struggled as the weight of nearly everything toppled on his shoulders. "It seems like this entire town is underwater. People aren't breathing. You can't see... there's no light."

"There were fireworks tonight," Donna whispered. "Lots of light from the fireworks."

"I missed them. They'll be fireworks again soon, though." Sam leaned closer to her, letting her fill his senses. He was going to seduce Donna Moss. And he didn't know if it made him part of the darkness or part of the light, but her hair was brilliant and her eyes were shining.

"There will be." She didn't pull away. "There's Guy Fawkes day in England."

He kissed her.

He was taking from her darkness and she was stealing from his light and it was balanced, Sam reasoned with himself. The reasoning, the rationalizing, stayed with him all through the elevator ride, as his hand crept up her blouse. There was nothing between Donna Moss and Josh Lyman, not anymore or at least not now.

She was done waiting, Sam thought as they tumbled to the bed. The wait was finished. He didn't believe her, but he couldn't stop touching her. Nothing between Donna Moss and Josh Lyman. Nothing between Sam Seaborn and Donna Moss; no clothes, no barriers, just skin.

She called out his name, not Josh's, when she climaxed and that had to count for something.

Of course, it was a mistake. She didn't seem too upset about it the next morning. Why should she, Sam reasoned. She had her revenge. The light and the dark were now balanced. She wasn't going to quit and she probably wasn't done waiting. She hugged him as she left, saying she had to get to the office early to prepare some notes for Josh.

Sam was upset for all the wrong reasons. He didn't care that he had stolen his best friend's not-quite-done-waiting girl for a night of clashing shadows. He didn't care that he had inserted himself into the messiest love triangle this side of the Potomac, the Josh/Amy/Donna quagmire. He didn't care that Donna had been using him.

He wanted to do it again and he hated himself for it. He wanted to feel her hair trickle across his chest and her mouth against his. He wanted it again and if he ever had it again, he would want even more. Her, naked and laughing, not perky but whole and real. Full of different kinds of light and darkness and damn it, Sam wanted her. He wanted her to come back from the White House, to lay next to him.

There was a way to make that happen, Sam thought. A way to drive Donna Moss straight back to his arms and, in the process, let Mr. Lyman in on the light that he was missing. The trip to Washington had been full of bad decisions and Sam couldn't help but make one more.

He called Josh.

But when he actually got Josh on the line, he froze. All the bluster, the planned speech, left him.

Josh sounded overjoyed to hear his voice. Donna hadn't told him. Donna wouldn't be telling him because she knew better. Sam thought he knew better, too. His mouth became dry and all his answers sounded trite. Words failed him. He couldn't do it, couldn't tell Josh whose arms he had spent last night in.

"So I saw Amy last night..."

Sam was not going to tell him.

"Yeah, how was that?"

"You know, good. She's... good, I guess."

Josh didn't sound so enthused.

"You, uh, starting that back up again?"

"Yeah, I guess I am. I don't know... its a good distraction from what's been going on. It might get serious again, I don't know. Just trying to make it from day to day, you know?"

"Yeah..."

Sam wasn't going to say it. Couldn't do it. Donna was right outside at her desk, Sam knew. Josh would...

Interrupt his thoughts. "I mean, we're both consenting adults. Nothing wrong with two single people having some nights of passion, right?"

Goddamn him.

"Right. So, I saw Donna last night..."

Sam gripped the phone next to his head. Nothing wrong with two single people and nights of passion, Josh. You did nothing wrong, Sam. He said so himself.

Josh was extremely quiet. When he spoke, he sounded like a man desperately trying not to ask the question he already guessed the answer to.

"Funny. She didn't say anything."

"Yeah, well, these things happen."

The silence was deafening.

Sam spoke again. "Nothing wrong with two single people..."

"Right." Josh's voice was all business.

"Its not going to be a problem, right?"

"No, its cool." But it wasn't.

"You can't really..."

"I don't have a problem... I can't have a problem. I can't."

"Yeah."

Josh laughed but it sounded more like a sob. Sam froze and realized, just then, what he had done.

"Why would I have a problem with you screwing my assistant, Sam?"

Twenty years of friendship gone.

"I didn't..."

"I don't care." Josh shouted.

Sam could hear Donna running for the hills, cursing his name. Probably cursing both their names. How badly had he screwed everything up. Even still, he wanted to feel Donna's body pressed next to his again. The thought sickened him.

"She and I, it was a one-time..."

"I really don't care." Josh interrupted.

"I'm sor..."

"Its no big deal."

"Jo-"

"Good luck with everything, Sam."

Dial tone.