Title: It's Called Spring
Summary: This time, it has everything to do with Josh.
Thanks: to Abigale, again. Because.
It's Called Spring by Ameralla
He lives in the moment, but when he falls, he shatters; scatters.
It doesn't happen very often, and it doesn't always have something to do with Josh. When he looks for things he can be proud of, that's what he comes up with.
This time, it has everything to do with Josh.
When it bleeds through, it's because of the fact that they never finish a conversation; not about anything that matters.
Not about things like life and death, or why he left a city and a good woman for rain and eyes and nothing more.
He never thought they were meant to be, not exactly. Never thought of her when she was six years old, wearing a yellow sun dress (she always looked good in yellow), all scraped knees knocking together and scrambled hair. And him, beneath that same sky. He never thought of them that way.
Then, she left. He'd wake up thinking that his heart would break his chest.
But it never did. It never does. Not until New Hampshire; and it's an ice storm, and it's Josh, and it's everything intersecting. Everything.
There's a rift in something. In the universe, maybe.
He imagines his life crashing towards this singular moment. There's nothingness, and then there's this. Here. And in between, he writes his undergraduate thesis about a broken system; innocent people and jail time. In between, he still becomes a lawyer.
And he falls off of his bicycle too many times, and he doesn't make love to a girl named Wendy in the back of his father's car, he has sex with her, and a wasp stings his finger at the beach, and it swells, looking angry and red. His mother with the sun in her eyes, and she kisses it better. She looks young.
The snowflakes fall fat and white, and Josh has some caught on his eyelashes when he bursts into the motel room. "We're, do you know what we're talking about? Wiley's going to drop out after South Carolina, we think. That's what we're talking about. So, Sam. Sam, Sam, Sam." Josh doesn't look like he knows what to do with himself. Sam knows what that feels like.
"South Carolina is a long time away," he says, strange and slow. The bed's uncomfortable; the headboard cuts into his back.
"Yeah." Something jumps in Josh's jaw. "What's going on? You've been, and, I mean, the world's coming together here."
Sam smiles. Josh can always make him smile, except when he's making him bite back tears. "It is?"
"Yeah. Yeah, it is."
"I miss Lisa," he says abruptly, even though it isn't about that at all, not anymore.
He jumped off a pier once, gangly at eleven. The outline of his hand splayed across a red canvas of a sky. Dark, dark, dark underwater. And the silt stinging his calves, and the pinpoints of light, refracted. Kicking his legs, and not knowing which way was up, directionless.
"Sam, it's, uh, it's been awhile, man. You suddenly; you pick today?" Josh is trying to tease, but he's serious, and they both know it. He still hasn't sat down; hasn't even taken his coat off.
This feels familiar.
Sam's voice sounds thick. "You know, you've never understood the way I do things, Josh. But you understand the way you do things even less, and I think, I think that's why we work; why we're friends."
Josh stares, incredulous. "Are you, are you trying to piss me off?" His lashes still look damp; unnatural with darkness. "Because, Sam. Do you know how many times that you've just--" He winces at something; the way his words sound. Something. "Do you know how many times you've saved my life? And, and you won't even let me help you." The wind claws at the window, and Sam tries to say something, but it's just swallowed. (Help me.)
Josh leaves. And Sam sits there on the bed, and he thinks about the illusion of light where there isn't any. And he thinks about Josh.
And at the back of his mind, he thinks about the world coming
"We need to talk," Josh says later, the way they do in the movies; ominous. Face too serious, and Sam's terrified, but he has to laugh.
Josh takes one look at him.
From the bed, the bad painting of the flower in the vase is all crooked against the wall. It's always a flower and a vase, Sam thinks. There was this one time, though, and it was a raven. Crazy black wings throwing shadows, and he supposes flowers are better than that, at least. Bright splashes of colour; bright like Josh.
There is that brightness, and counting ribs, and beautiful spaces. No talking.
He doesn't think anyone is taking advantage of him, not exactly. Because he and Josh never finish a conversation, but it's no one's fault. It's in the way they do things; the way they are.
"Sam, seriously. We need--"
"Everything isn't always about you," Sam says softly; blankets scraping wrists.
Josh just keeps going. "This-- whatever is going on with you, then."
"It doesn't have anything to do with me."
It doesn't sound like a question, but it's too dark in here to see Josh's face; too dark to really tell.
"No," Sam answers anyway, helplessly. "No." Burying his head into a warm shoulder and closing his eyes, too tight. Seeing spots; these little green sparks of time and space.
They get to Illinois; and Josh's father dies. On the telephone, they talk about how Connecticut is thawing out. Josh sounds surprised, like nothing ever changes and winter in Connecticut is perpetual, all water colour shades and ice.
"It's called spring," Sam says gently.
Josh chuckles; a laugh that isn't really a laugh. "Is Leo there? Let me talk to Leo."
Spring slips, and then it's the White House. And the first time they step into the Oval Office all four of them huddle just inside the door, like they're afraid, or awed, or something. The President ushers them into the room. "Well," he says, looking at Leo more than anyone. "Here we are."
It's things falling into place, and other things just falling.
It turns out that they all talk too much, even Sam. And in between the small victories all there is is static. Miscommunication, and white noise.
He's always the designated driver; he's the one that makes Donna laugh over mixed drinks that one night she looks like she's been sucker-punched. He's the one CJ dances with before the world ends that first time.
"You're the only one keeping it together tonight," she says. "So, next time. Next time, Sam, I'm gonna be the one in charge."
"You're always the one in charge, CJ," Sam tells her, and then he blushes at the way that sounds.
"Next time," she insists, leaning into him.
Everything is white, and something makes his eyes sting. Antiseptic.
"Don't," Josh rasps, motioning to his own face, shifting wires.
"I'm not--" Sam begins, because he isn't crying. But then Josh's hand closes around his, hot and sweaty and real, and Sam's throat tightens. All he ever wanted was to squeeze someone's fingers and have them squeeze back, but he still feels--
Like he's missing something, Sam ineffectually pushes the papers that are sitting on his desk around. Around and around, and he's not getting anything accomplished.
Toby's been closing his door lately, and Sam pushes it open. The other man is sitting there so still that it's disconcerting. Then he licks his lips and Sam knows he's alive.
Toby looks up, running a hand across his forehead at the sight of Sam, or something. It leaves a red mark. "Yeah?"
"I thought I'd, that I'd work in here," Sam says carefully.
Toby tilts his head; asks no questions. "Okay."
Josh, in the parking lot. Headlights reflected in the whites of his eyes, but then the car is gone. Josh isn't. Sam reminds himself.
"Sam. Listen, I'm fine. I mean, I'm not fine. But I will be. The guy said so. And, uh, that didn't sound nearly as convincing as it did in my head, but--"
"I just, I don't want to talk about this."
"I don't want to talk about this with you."
"Let me help you," Sam says, later.
Josh stares, and for an eternity there is nothing but that. "You don't get to say that to me."
Sam thinks about it. "I do. This time."
Josh turns away. "Whatever. Whatever."
The next time they go out, CJ isn't there and Josh talks about bananas and near death experiences. He smells like soap; like something clean. He brushes Sam's hair off of his forehead in the cab. "Let me see your face," he keeps saying, "I want to see your face."
"That wouldn't be very fair," Sam whispers.
"I think I'll write a book," Sam says, sometime. He can't keep his eyes open and he can't understand it. He hasn't been able to sleep lately; he's been daydreaming about sleep.
"Not now." He blinks with difficulty. There's the ceiling, and streetlight yellow softening Josh's features; blurring lines. "After I've lived."
Against his chest, hands still. Heavy.
He didn't always want to be a writer; he didn't always write about the symmetry of waves.
When he was six, all he wanted to do was live forever, out there on the ocean. "Forever's a long time," his father had told him, lifting him up, up, up, into the sky and the blue.
It turns out, his father doesn't know much about forever.
Neither does he.
Because the idea that the world will come together is always at the back of his mind, sometimes at the forefront. But it never does, and he gets tired of waiting, or something. He just gets tired.
They're living in the basement of the White House. When it bleeds through this time, it has everything to do with the fact that the sunlight hasn't touched his face in days, and nothing to do with Josh. Not yet.
On the telephone, Leo stammers, and Sam has a suspicion that the world has ended again. It has.
He blinks owlishly in the hallway before ducking into the Mess, just because he doesn't have anywhere else to go. He doesn't want to be an underground creature; doesn't want to see the sunlight anymore either.
Josh finds him there. "Mrs. Landingham," he says slowly. "I can't, I can't believe it." He sits down hard on a high-backed chair. It's too quiet. The sound of a clock ticking, something steady at last.
And Josh's fingers searching out Sam's knee beneath the table; Josh's skin stretching pale and tight across his cheekbones. Steadiness gone.
It's Sam's apartment. It's always Sam's apartment. "I should go," Josh says. After.
"Yes," Sam agrees. It's three in the a.m. He hasn't slept. "Yes."
"Don't," Sam says, not meaning to. His voice is this high, thin thing that makes him want to flinch.
Josh's eyelashes tickle Sam's cheek. "I don't want to," he says inally, fiercely.
Sam smiles, but he's tired, he has to close his eyes. He dreams about dark things. Wakes up to a white floodlight of a sun, and one side of the bed is cold.
The tears surprise him, but he doesn't wonder how he's been reduced to this. He knows. He knows.
Back to the Big Block of Cheese Main Page