Title: Great Responsibility
Author: Nomi (email@example.com)
Archive: Sure, just tell me where
Rating: PG (for language)
Warning: Spoilers for "Take This Sabbath Day" and "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen" parts I and II
Notes: Previous stories in this series can be found on my website at http://world.std.com/~gnomi/stories.html .
Great Responsibility by Nomi
All my fault. All my fucking fault.
That's all I can think. I know Ron won't let me take the blame. "The Secret Service doesn't comment on protection procedure," he told me, more than once. And I know that. But I can't help thinking that, were it not for me, President Bartlet wouldn't have exited in the open air, and he wouldn't have been shot.
More importantly - to me, and to at least two others - Josh wouldn't have been shot.
When Sam volunteered to call Treasury on my behalf, I couldn't let him. Not only would it have been the coward's way out, it wouldn't have helped. The only way for me to do real teshuvah - real repentance - is to admit that this was all my fault.
I was the one who found him, leaning against the wall. His blood soaked my pants as I held him in my lap, waiting for help to arrive. I was the one who looked into his frightened, pain-lined face.
The peaceful atmosphere of the shul post-services this morning conflicts with the turmoil inside me.
Avinu she'ba shamaim - our father in heaven - please watch out over Yehoshua ben Noah - Joshua, son of Noah. I know, I know. For prayers for the sick, I'm supposed to use the mother's name, not the father's. But, much as I hate to admit it, I have no clue whatsoever what Josh's mother's name is.
Aseh l'ma'ancha im lo l'ma'a'nainu. A portion of the Yom Kippur prayer service repeats in my brain - do it for Your sake, if not for ours.
Do it for Sam's sake. Do not take Josh from him. That would be the final straw for Sam. I don't think he'd ever recover from the loss.
I am the first to admit that I am jealous of Josh. He has the relationship with Sam that I never did, that I never could. Even when they're in opposite corners of a room, the feelings they have for each other are obvious. I couldn't give that to Sam. I couldn't lower my guard enough to let Sam in. And I lost him because of it.
But I would never wish for this sort of thing to happen. Not to Josh. And not to Sam.
As we sat there in the private waiting room on Monday night, I looked at Sam. He was barely holding it together. Every time the waiting room door opened, he flinched. And each time we got a report on Josh's progress, Sam became restless and would pace around the room until he was too tired to stand. I wanted nothing more than to go over to Sam and put my arms around him, reassure him that all would be OK. But I couldn't - I wasn't his lover anymore; no one else in the room ever even knew that Sam and I had been involved. No one else would've thought anything of my offering comfort to Sam - we're friends, not just boss and employee - but I wasn't sure I could do it and make it look casual enough.
So, instead, when I went back to the office, I comforted Ginger. Surprised the Hell out of her.
Peter Parker's Uncle Ben was right, all those years ago in the Spiderman comics.
Rabbi Glassman is walking around the shul, straightening the curtains on the Ark, moving books around, waiting...waiting for me to talk, if I need to, or waiting for me to get up and leave. Either way is fine by him.
I came here this morning to bench gomel - to say the prayer thanking God for saving my life. But I was conflicted - how could I be thankful for coming through unscathed while Josh lay in a hospital bed?
I finally convinced Sam to go back to the office on Tuesday. He did the morning shows and was so impressive...so strong. And then, as soon as he could, he went back to his vigil at the hospital. He's spending more time at the hospital than the rest of us combined, it seems. And his pain and his fear are so obvious.
Josh woke briefly on Tuesday, but only the President, Leo, and the doctors were there. Since then, Josh has been mostly asleep. The nurses and doctors have done all they could - bent all the rules they could - to allow Sam to sit by Josh's bedside, even in the ICU. The sight of Sam, head-to-toe in sterile garments in preparation for visiting with Josh, was more heartbreaking than I had anticipated.
Because, no matter what, it was all my fault. Ron Butterfield - his hand still bleeding - tried to convince me that it would've happened anyway. Crazies have their ways of making things happen. I know this intellectually.
But emotionally, deep inside of me, I know. It's just another item in the long list of how I've managed to hurt Sam without meaning to.
Now it's Thursday, three days since the shooting, and I still don't understand it any better than right after it happened. I came here to find answers, but I still have none.
My phone is vibrating in my pocket. I left it on, even in shul, as is my habit, but I didn't want it ringing loudly and disturbing everyone. I answer it, and it's CJ - Sam just called her from Josh's room to say that Josh is awake.
Baruch hashem - thank God.
Rabbi Glassman is coming over, now that I've stood up. I want to thank him, but I'm not sure for what.
Again I think of Uncle Ben and his famous statement - with great power comes great responsibility. I never knew how true that was until now.
I wanted the power. But did I want this much responsibility?
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