Title: Finding the Path
Author: Nomi
Posted: 12/21/00
Archive: Sure, just tell me where
Codes: J/S
Rating: R
Notes: Spoilers galore for "Noel", other little ones for "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen"

Finding the Path by Nomi

They say that time heals. They tell me that as time passes, I'll be better.

I'm not convinced.

Music used to be my refuge. Now it's my enemy.

And I can't find Sam. I need Sam. Now more than ever.

After the ATVA guy - Stanley who was not my Stanley - let me go, I went looking for Sam. I ran into Leo.

Oh, God. God bless Leo McGarry. He's my guardian angel. Always has been. Ever since he came and convinced me to join the campaign.

But Sam's my rock. My reason for living. And I can't find him.

Maybe he's gone home, given up on me ever leaving that session with Stanley.

I'm sitting on my couch, looking at the board over the window. The super's been by 4 times now asking if I want the window fixed, and I say yes and then no. I need that window. I need it to remind me. I need it to keep me sane.

Stanley said I was good to hurt just the window and myself, rather than others.

As if I could hurt Sam any more than I already have.

I think I'm just now beginning to see all he's done for me. I didn't get it until now. All he's suffered for me, all he's been through for me. I kinda understood it at the time, but now...every night I lie in bed, hearing the music from next door and remembering the sirens. Remembering the EMTs talking around me as if I were already dead.

Sam thought I was dead. More than once during that long surgery, I am sure I was dead. And then he was sure I was dying again when I kept getting sick during my recovery period.

And even when it got to be too much, the minute he heard I was sick, he came back to me.

Now I hope he comes back again. I can't understand why he's not here.

When Donna took me to the hospital to get my hand looked at, I heard the carolers - I've always loved Christmas carols, despite being Jewish - and then the siren. Donna must have thought I was nuts, standing there staring at the singers. But I didn't hear the sirens while they were singing, and it was a relief. And then, when I heard the sirens, I knew they were real sirens and not figments of my imagination.

Donna brought me home 15 minutes ago. I expected Sam to be here waiting for me. But he's not.

Wait. There's the door.

It's Sam. Finally.

"J? You OK?"

"Now that you're here."

"What can I do?"

Just be you, I try not to say. Just don't leave. Don't make me go through this life alone. Don't make me feel like I'm the only one who knows what the world can do to a person.

"Hold me."

Sam takes me into his arms, smoothes his hand down my back, kisses my hair. Just feeling the warmth of his skin, smelling the uniquely-Sam scent, makes me feel human again.

"Was it that bad?" Sam asks me.

"Worse."

"I'm not sorry we made you do that. I'm not sorry you'll be able to sleep now without screaming. I am sorry you had to relive all the pain, but we didn't know any other way," Sam says. "I fought with Leo over it. He knew I would. I told him that I didn't see what making you go through Hell was going to help. Then he told me about his experiences with post-trauma therapy. And I agreed to his plan."

"Thank you, love, for looking out for me," I say, unsure of my feelings at the moment. I snuggle deeper into his embrace. "The sirens were the worst. I barely hear the gunshots now. I hear the sirens every night. I feel the pain of the bullet. And then I hear your voice. Bringing me back. Helping me find the path back to reality."

"And I always will be here." The confidence in Sam's voice helps me get my bearings.

"Love?"

"Yeah?"

"Take me to bed, OK?" I'm usually the aggressor, but tonight I'm too drained. And Sam understands this and knows what I need.

With the most gentle of touches, Sam undresses me and tucks me into bed. After undressing himself, he comes to me, holds me, caresses me. Slowly, slowly he readies me and himself, and then he slowly lowers himself onto me.

The heat and the tightness remind me that I'm human, that I'm loved.

And he smiles as I scream his name at the peak of my ecstasy.

"Sleep now, my beloved," he whispers in my ear. "We'll fight more demons in the morning."

And he'll always be by my side, fighting them along with me.

---END---

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