TITLE: What’s This?
SPOILERS: One vague mention of BrunoPeople
DISCLAIMER: All characters are the sole creation and property of Aaron Sorkin. No copyright infringement is intended.
SUMMARY: Not unlike everyone's family, nothing much happens here...
ARCHIVE: Lists may take. Others, just please let me know where.
FEEDBACK: Welcome and appreciated. firstname.lastname@example.org
THANKS TO: Dalia for the lightning fast beta.
NOTES: This. Other stuff. http://subtractions.homestead.com/
What's This? by Abigale
"That was obviously a mistake."
"A terrible mistake."
"That's all you can - Oops? I think we have more than an 'oops' here, Toby. We have.... We have Sam."
"Leo - "
"I don't want to hear it, Josh. I've got Dr. Prescott waiting in my cabin right now, I'll deal with him and his questionable pharmacological choices. You. You people deal with Sam."
"That went well."
"Honestly, Toby, I don't think it's over yet."
"You poisoned me."
"How was I supposed to know, Sam?! Am I your official food taster?"
"You ordered it."
"You asked me to order something while you made your call. And I'm *not* the one who gave you that injection. I - I'm *not* taking the blame here. You, as a lawyer, should know there are hundreds of other people you can sue. All I did was order you lunch."
"And I appreciate it, Jo- uuuh oooh."
"That's right, settle down. You need a, a pillow? Another blanket?"
"I'm fine, Toby."
"You want a magazine? Your laptop?"
"Uh. I really don't think I can do any work right now."
"No, no, of course not. I didn't mean that you.... I wasn't implying. I just thought... you usually like to have it near."
"You mean, like a security blanket?"
"Can I get you something to drink? You're supposed to drink a lot of fluids."
"No, thank you. I think. That stuff is starting to.... Have we taken off yet? 'Cause I think I see myself sitting out there on the wing, and that's really not very safe...."
"Hey there, Spanky. How are you feeling?"
Somewhere over the barren, tedious landscape surrounding Salt Lake, Sam stopped vomiting. He also stopped making sense, but he'd been working his way up to that for awhile, so no one was really surprised.
Wrapped in three blankets to ward off the chills that intermittently wracked through him, Sam sat propped up against Josh on a bed in one of the private rest areas aboard Air Force One. A dense, unyielding pillow cushioned his back, his head lolling listlessly, one foot occasionally popping out of the blankets, only to be pulled back in just as quickly.
"Tuh. Tuh. Tuh," he chanted quietly.
"Whoa. Another patch of turbulence like that and *I'll* take some of that anti-nausea stuff the doctor gave Sam," CJ winced.
Toby snorted loudly and raised his eyes from his Arts & Activities Magazine. "That's good. So, you *want* to have a seizure? Do you know how attractive that would be?"
"Oh for crying out loud, it wasn't a seizure! It was just a reaction. And you heard the statistics; how uncommon that is."
"I know what that statistic looks like. Amazingly like Sam, shaking like my Dart when I get it over 35 on the Beltway. And shouldn't you be back there babysitting the press or something?"
"CJ! You're gonna have a baby?!"
"Yes, Sam," CJ reached over and tucked the blankets more securely under his arms. "In fact I'm having a whole litter. I'll save you one." She turned her attention back to Toby. "I think at this point, the Press Corps is perfectly able to amuse themselves for a few more hours. Frankly, I could do with the peace and quite. I didn't have what Josh got Sam, but I think I may have eaten something that didn't agree with me."
"You shouldn't.... CJ, be sure you don't eat your young," Sam warned.
Bringing his arm around, Josh gently patted his patient on the chest to reassure him. "Nobody's eating anything, Sam. No food for 48 hours, remember?"
"But he's supposed to be drinking a lot of fluids," Toby reminded them. Cocking his head slightly to get a clearer view of his Deputy, who was slumping further down on the bed. "So, CJ, I was expecting to get a few questions about the energy package we announced in San Diego. Maybe if you went back there, you could find out why no reporters are asking questions about the energy package?"
"It's making you nervous that the speech was so clear, no one needs clarification? That's sounding a little paranoid there, Tobs." CJ crossed one long, lithe leg over the other and folded her arms across her chest.
"Rhymes with - "
"Quiet, Sam. I'm not nervous. I reject that characterization. I simply feel that part of your job is to get a feel for what the press is thinking and in what direction that thinking is taking them before it's too late for us to affect that direction." Toby's face crumpled slightly before he continued. "I didn't just sound like him, did I?" Indicating with his chin who 'him' was.
"Before or after massive amounts of drugs were pumped into him?"
"Josh. Sam's slipping off. Fix that or he's gonna - "
"Got him, got him."
"Yeah, I gotcha, Sam."
"Okay. Relax." Josh reset Sam's blankets, settled the full-sized pillow back against his own chest. "Ceej, forget the press. Carol can handle anything they have before we get back to DC."
A sudden fit of squirming hit Sam at that moment, sending his pillow bouncing to the floor.
Bending to retrieve it, CJ clucked her tongue loudly. "He should be in the medical suite," she said, not for the first time. "He can't be that sensitive to the smell."
"Well, tell that to the stewards who had to clean up the mess he made. Besides. He says he feels better sitting up a little, and I really don't mind being wanted just for my body." Josh sighed mildly. "I'm used to it."
CJ studied her manicure closely, slowly shaking her head. "You make a pitiful martyr, Josh. If I were you, I'd look for another line of work."
"I love my job," he responded, fluffing unnecessarily at Sam's pillow before leaning back against the wall once more.
"It says here," Toby began, indicating the Shape Magazine in his hand. "That in Canada they sell milk in bags."
"What kind of bags?"
"What kind of milk?"
Toby read a little further into the article, then raised his eyes and fixed them at some undefined place on the wall above Josh and Sam's heads. "It doesn't say. There's just a brief mention of the fact. Like, we're supposed to know what the hell they're talking about."
"Well," CJ said, brow furrowed. "This raises a number of questions."
"Such as?" Toby closed the magazine and picked up his can of Coke.
Thinking for a moment, CJ looked to Josh. "Well, his question about which kinds of milk comes in bags is a good one. All milk? What about buttermilk, or chocolate milk?"
"And is it all milk products?" Josh wanted to know. "Would half and half come in teeny little single serve bags? And eggnog. Did they mention anything about eggnog?"
"Gak!" Sam squeaked. "No, no nog. No butter choc nog talk. Ooooooh god!"
Rolling deftly from his semi-reclined position, Sam was nearly out the door, hand clenched to his mouth, Josh right behind him, when CJ and Toby realized what was happening.
"Hm. I feel really bad. Poor guy." CJ locked eyes with Toby. "But you'll look into the milk bag thing when we get back, right?"
"Oh yeah," he assured her.
"Dr. Prescott says he can't have anything else for the nausea, he's way too doped up already. So. We need to, you know, be nicer," Josh told Toby and CJ as he guided a pale Sam back into the room. Settling him back on the bed, he asked if Sam wanted to lie down or remain sitting up. When Sam's answer consisted of nothing but the names of air filtration systems he had been researching, Josh lay him on his side and began arranging the blankets. Sitting at the head of the bed, he placed a pillow against his stomach, and positioned Sam's head in the center of it.
"You'll let me know if you get too queasy, right?" he asked.
"I overpaid my Visa bill again."
"Okay. Well, stop doing that, Sam."
A steward came through to politely ask if anyone needed anything, and shot a stern look Sam's way. "He's not to eat," he informed the conscious members of the senior staff.
"We *know.*" Josh, irritable and protective.
"But he should be drinking more fluids," Toby told the steward. "Could you bring a few bottles of room temperature water please?"
Sam's heavy sigh filled the room as he drew himself into a moderately upright position, looking around the room dreamily.
"What do you need, Sam?"
Sam swung his unfocused eyes around to meet Josh's. At the sight of the familiar face, the raised eyebrows, the slightly upturned lips, Sam sighed again and threw himself back against his partner.
"Well, I guess that answers your question," Toby commented dryly.
"Blugh," Sam declared, indicating somehow that he wished to be propped up higher.
Adding another pillow to the one now against Josh's chest, CJ swiped a hand across Sam's face to clear away a few strands of hair before speaking. "He doesn't feel warm. That's good, huh?"
Josh pressed the back of his hand to Sam's cheek, which Sam reached for. "Prescott said you don't get a fever with Ciguatera poisoning. Just the vomiting and... you know. But the shot seems to have dried him up pretty well."
"Here, give him some more water." Toby stood slightly and handed over one of the fresh bottles the steward had brought them.
Picking Josh's forefinger out of his loose fist, Sam brought it in front of his face and stared at it lazily. "What's this?"
"My finger, Sam. CJ, can you open that for me?"
Opening the water, CJ handed it to Josh before resuming her seat. "You know, it's odd that not a single other person in our entourage ate the snapper."
Using his one free hand, Josh held the bottle to Sam's lips. "Drink. What are you saying, Ceej? That I knew the snapper was bad?"
CJ scoffed dismissively. "Don't be ridiculous, Josh. But do I hear a little whisper of guilt in your voice?"
Lowering the water, Josh wiped at a trickle that had run down Sam's chin. "I don't feel - why should I - It could have happened to - Oh shut up."
"My wrist. They oughta close that place down. It would have served them right if the President had gotten sick. Heh. That I'd like to see."
"Oh really?" Toby's left eyebrow shot up. "You'd like it if the President were sitting down the hall from us right now, zonked out on anti-nausea drugs, vomiting the contents of his stomach every half hour?"
"Actually, Toby, there's nothing left in Sam's stomach. Trust me. Last time - "
"I don't need to hear this!" Toby keened, slapping his hands over his ears, eliciting a good healthy roll of the eyes from CJ.
"That would be my ear."
"What is he doing?"
"Just... playing. Hey, CJ. Do me a favor? Could you call Donna and tell her I'm not coming back to the office when we land?"
"Should I tell her to go home?"
"Might as well," Josh agreed.
"Mother earth," Sam said sternly. "And... Godspell."
"Give him some more water," instructed Toby.
CJ and Josh exchanged puzzled looks. "What is *with* you and the water?"
"It's important. You think he's delusional now, you just wait till he's severely dehydrated. Did you know - "
" 'Kay, Toby. Stop. You really are starting to channel Sam, and that... we just don't need that to happen right now." Josh shuddered lightly and smoothed a hand over Sam's blankets.
Burying her head in a glossy three month old copy of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, CJ coughed faintly to cover her snicker.
"This is cozy. What the hell are you all doing in here? You do know there's an entire 747 outside this door, right?" Leo stood with one hand buried deeply in his pocket, the other holding a notebook to his stomach.
The three staffers studiously avoided eye contact with the Chief of Staff.
"We just felt like - "
"Sam," Josh interjected suddenly. "I need to stay with Sam." He beamed proudly at his solid explanation.
"And you two...?"
"Okay, well, I'll be perfectly honest with you, Leo," CJ began. "There are times that this plane just ain't big enough for us *and* the campaign people, you know what I'm saying here? And if that offends your delicate team-building sensitivities, I'm sorry. But at the moment, we just felt like we needed to - "
"Lock yourselves away in a room?" Leo finished for her, nodding his head in understanding. "Wish there was room for me."
"He do that a lot?"
"All right then. Have a good time." Leo turned to leave to room. "And make sure he stays hydrated."
"Yeah; Toby's got that covered," Josh smirked.
"And you're keeping track?"
"Doc says it's important to keep track of the fluid intake and output," Leo informed them, his expression one of solemn concern.
"Output." Josh's weak reply caused some mild looks of amusement to pass between Toby and CJ.
"Well, Toby really has been in charge of the whole fluid issue...."
"Tow. Be. Towbe towbe tow," sang Sam. "What's this?"
"Josh's elbow. Stay on top of the fluid thing, will ya, Toby?" Leo commented, failing miserably to hide his laughter.
While the plane blazed east through the sparkling clear sky, Sam pleasantly dozed on and off. At one point he sat up straight and apologized profusely for having called CJ a bitch, which pleased Toby greatly.
"Sam, you didn't call CJ a bitch," Josh tried to reassure him. "You were dreaming. Lie back."
CJ stared open mouthed as Sam's expression softened, and he followed Josh's directions, nestling back against the pillows. "Thanks, Josh. I'd like to have known what I might have done to elicit that little outburst in the first place."
"You want me to give you a few possible scenarios?" Toby offered in the spirit of generosity.
"Look, waterboy, this is between me and - "
"Watch your mouth, Sam. Um. You need to... I gotta get up." Josh, already pushing Sam gently away from his body.
Even from across the small room, Toby instinctively reached out a steadying hand as Sam was lowered down on the bed. "Should you leave him?" he wondered.
"Well, I'm not taking him with me so he can play 'what's this?' in the lavatory." Josh gave one last glance at Sam before he opened the door and left the cabin.
"I guess we're in charge."
"Yeah," CJ agreed. "We could, you know, ask him something."
"What do you mean? Ask him what?"
"I was just thinking, maybe that stuff is like a truth serum. You know, all his inhibitions seem to be pretty low, maybe...."
"For god's sake, CJ. It's not like he's been hypnotized." Toby loudly flipped the page of the Veggie Life Magazine he was holding. After a moment of staggering silence, he snapped it shut and sat forward in his seat. "Okay, make it fast, before the other one comes back."
"So, what should I ask?"
"It was your idea. What do you want to know?" Seeing the wicked gleam in CJ's eyes, Toby threw his hands up between them. "No, uh uh! You want that kind of information, you get it when I'm nowhere in the room."
"Like you haven't wondered."
"I know all I need to know, thank you. The specifics, the, the dynamics of the thing, that I don't need any explicit working knowledge of. So just, pick something else, and make it snappy."
"Okay. Saaaam?" she asked in her sweetest, surgery voice. "How you doing?"
Blinking his eyes open, Sam stared at her a beat and then smiled blearily. "Who da moose? Bitch."
Toby pressed his lips together tightly, eyes squinting in the direction of the door. "You'd better hurry, CJ. Any minute now."
Spitting a violent 'shh!' at him, she turned her attention back to Sam. "Hey Sam? So, when you and Josh - "
"Any problems?" Josh's voice barely proceeded the opening of the door. "He's all right?" He moved to the side of the bed and easily inserted himself back into place behind Sam.
Blushing furiously, CJ turned away smoothly and mumbled something about giving Sam more fluids before she stood up and left the room altogether.
"How do you feel?" Josh spoke quietly, hoping to avoid waking a dozing CJ.
Smacking his lips loudly, Sam rubbed at his eyes with tight fists. "Like a rock star."
"That, that almost made sense," Josh said proudly. After grazing a hasty kiss along his temple, Josh leaned his mouth close to Sam's ear. "Having you pressed up against me for the last few hours has been equal parts heaven and hell, Sam Seaborn."
Twisting his neck to see Sam's response, taking note of the shy smile that drifted across his face, Josh added another quick kiss before relaxing back once more.
"We're landing in under an hour," came Toby's voice, low enough not to disturb CJ. "You need help getting him home?"
"We'll see. I don't think so. Think you can make it Sam?"
A string of quiet grunts was Sam's sleepy response.
"Yeah." It sounded like Josh was agreeing to... something, which Toby found mildly perplexing.
"Let me know," he said behind a massive yawn. "Just let me know." As an afterthought, Toby added, "And keep Sam away from CJ for the rest of the flight. For your sake and his."
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