Title: Sometimes Friends Have to be Honest...
Author: Penemuel
E-Mail: uvalpha@ix.netcom.com
Pairing: Josh/Sam
Rating: This part is PG
Archive: Sure -- it may grow more, though. If it does, I'll send the updated version...
Summary: Fallout from the Drop In...
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, I'm just playing with them for a while and will give them back when done. They might be a little sticky, though.
Notes: I really have no idea if this is going to be expanded, go anywhere, whatever. This part made me write it at 2:30 am... It's just a snippet.

Sometimes Friends Have to be Honest... by Penemuel

"Sam, I'm so sorry..."

"It was a great speech, Josh... They all said it was good -- Bonnie liked it, Ginger liked it -- it was supposed to make them feel something, Josh. It was going to make them stand and cheer us..." He took a deep breath, then, and sighed. "Twelve drafts, and he destroyed it in thirty seconds. They didn't stand, Josh -- they barely even clapped..."

I'd never seen him so crushed -- so demoralized. No, actually I had, once. When then-Governor Bartlet tore apart one of his speeches and said it was amateur hour. But even then, it wasn't quite like this -- then, we were all working together but other than he and I, we weren't all friends. Now, we had all become friends -- at least, we thought we had...

"Toby!"

"I'm busy, Josh. I don't have time right now -- seems I'm short-staffed today."

"*Don't* start, Toby," I warned, cornering him. That was the wrong thing to say -- if he could have seen the look in Sam's eyes...

"What is it?"

"Did you really tell him to say 'sometimes friends have to be honest with each other'? Is that what you told him to say when people asked him why we did it? Do you even THINK when you say these things?"

"It was the most diplomatic--"

"Toby!" I growled in a tone I'd never dared use with him before, "you said *friends* have to be honest with each other after you *went behind his back* and ripped the soul out of the speech he spent hours working on! Where the hell is the honesty in that? He thought *you* were a friend!"

He stared at me for a long moment, his eyes wide with surprise. And then he looked past my shoulder and I knew someone was standing behind me.

"Josh, my office, *now*."

Leo. Great...

I gave Toby a look that said this wasn't finished, then I turned and strode after Leo without another word." The President already told him it didn't work. Leave him alone, Josh."

"I can't, Leo. You didn't see Sam this morning -- you were nearly two staffers down today since I didn't trust him not to do something dumb until he promised he wasn't going to hurt me like he'd been hurt..."

"What d'you mean?"

"Yesterday, Toby said he'd talk to you about the speech -- I *thought* he was going to have you and him hash the changes out with Sam, and then I got busy with the ambassador thing and CJ. Worked out pretty good for Toby because it kept me from warning Sam..." I paused to catch my breath, kind of hoping that Leo would jump in with a denial. When he didn't, my heart sank even further. "After the speech, I finally found him in the bar and let me tell you, Leo, it was like his heart had been cut out and stomped into the dirt. I know Toby's worried about the numbers and I know we're starting to take hits from all sides, but alienating not only our allies but one of our own? That's criminally *stupid*!"

"Josh..."

"The President didn't like the drop-in, why did he do it?"

"Because he couldn't treat our friends better than he treated Al Cauldwell."

"'Sometimes friends have to be honest with each other'?" I quoted, the words tasting like ash on my tongue. "Yeah, that's what Toby told Sam. Means a lot coming from a friend who goes behind your back..."

"Sam's upset?"

"Leo, you know how he is about his writing -- he puts *everything* into it. You do something to damage something he's written, you damage him... Yes, he's upset. He's angry, he's hurt -- and he's got every right to be all of those things."

"What would you do if I said I agreed with you?"

"Leo, we abuse him. He's not going to keep coming back for more if it happens too many more times."

"What do you mean we abuse him?"

I could hear some anger creeping into Leo's tone, but I was on a roll, now... "Tom Jordan -- we had Sam bring him in, promise our backing. When things went bad, we made Sam tell him we weren't going to help out -- we not only lost that seat, we cost Sam a personal friendship.

"At the leadership breakfast, Toby decided he knew what was best, and because of his ego we handed the opposition a big fat victory that Sam had to help us think of a way out of -- now, we take something Sam put his heart and soul into and behind his back we turn it into an insult. We abuse him, Leo. We hurt him."

"You don't hurt him," Leo said softly.

"I blamed the fire on him," I said, looking down at my feet.
I didn't want him to read the guilt in my eyes.

"We knew you were part of that, too, Josh," Leo said, a little humour starting to return to his aggravated tone.

"Yeah, but I blamed him."

"What's he doing right now?"

"I dunno -- he sleeps a lot when he's depressed. Whatever he's doing, though, you can bet he's *not* writing."

"You think I should have the President call him?"

"I don't know -- I don't know how to fix this, Leo. He's not going to trust an apology from Toby..."

"This is going to be a problem, isn't it..."

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