Title: The Waters of the Potomac
Feedback: Yes please good or bad, e. mail: Artemisa555@aol.com
Rating: R - for implied M/M sex
A/U : Josh died at Rosslyn. Character death. Don’t read if you find the thought upsetting
Archive: Sure, just let me know.
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, they belong to Aaron Sorkin, I’ve just borrowed them.
Summary: Josh died at Rosslyn and Sam tries to come to terms with his grief.
Notes: When I started this piece I had no intention of it ending the way it does…Sorry!
The Waters of the Potomac by Artemis
By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept…
The Wasteland, T S Eliot.
I no longer know the difference between waking and sleeping, it’s all one continuous nightmare. I always thought that in sleep there would be oblivion but I seem to hover perpetually in a half-conscious state and the memory is always there. I hear the gunshots and the shouting and the sirens, see the blood gushing from the wound in your chest, feel your grasp on my hand weaken as you drift away, and I can’t bear the emptiness that surrounds me.
They don’t seem to like to leave me alone too long, I don’t know why, what do they think I’ll do? I don’t need them anyway, I’m past their help. But they let me come to my office and sit at my desk and try to work and I write stuff and I know that they trash everything I write. I see them shake their heads as they read it and look hopelessly at one another and then they go away and trash it. It doesn’t bother me, I know it should but I don’t care about anything much anymore, I have no feelings left, it’s all meaningless, there’s just this void where you should be.
Donna comes by a lot, her face permanently puffy from the constant weeping. I can’t stand her weeping, she sits there shaking silently, her face wet. I can’t weep, I want to weep, I want to scream, I want to get hold of the people who did this, tear them in to little pieces and stamp on their remains. I want to silently implode, I want this hell to end.
What I really want of course, as I sit in my office, is for you to walk through the door and say ‘Hey Sam.’ I want to feel your hand on my back, guiding me down the corridor. I want you to grin at me from across the table during some pointless debate. I want to hear you scream at me because you think I’m wrong. But most of all I want you to save me, the way you always do, when the water is over my head and I’m drowning.
CJ squeezes my hand and says ‘Remember the good times.’ and I do, oh I do. I remember the first time I ever saw you, your hair tousled, your sleeves rolled up, your tie loosened, gesturing wildly as you argued some point with the guy I was working for, grinning in triumph when you won, although you were always sure you would. And you noticed me watching you and you smiled that lop sided grin that emphasised your dimples and it just blew me away. I could barely disguise how I felt but you were more wary, you had your future political career to think about, I was just filling in time before I took a job in the real world.
That first time we made love, we were half drunk, unsure of each other but your lips were firm and insistent against mine, your hands, so confident and so expert on my body. You weren’t my first, but you were older than the guys I’d had in college, more worldly, more cynical. You took me, not that I’d needed any persuading, but you took me, totally and completely, in that little apartment you had back then, sparse furniture, a single bed, you took me to heaven there, and now you’ve left me in hell.
It couldn’t last of course, I knew that. You were ambitious, a boyfriend wasn’t really an option and I hadn’t ever planned on staying in Washington, I was already canvassing the law firms. There was a job in New York and I took it. You held a goodbye party for me, we both got really drunk that night, almost too drunk to make love, but not quite, we managed, just one last time, but we were too drunk to really remember. You saw me off the next day, hugged me at the airport, I hung on to you like an idiot because when the moment came I didn’t want to let you go, I never wanted to let you go.
You called me from time to time, your voice on the phone sending ripples down my spine and it was almost enough to get by on as I tried to make a life on my own. I was good at my job, I made the partnership track, I dated nice girls found a suitable fiancée. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Lisa, and yes I know she mostly wanted a husband who was a successful lawyer, I can’t blame her for that. But in the back of my mind there was always you, not near enough to touch, but always there, like some distant possibility that will one day be realised, and that was enough, well almost, anyway.
And then you turned up, in my office, one morning, out of the blue on your way to New Hampshire. And you said ‘Come with me Sam.’ I almost held out, almost. You looked at me that way you always did, you reminded me of the idealist I used to be, you reminded me of what I’d lost, you reminded me of how things were between us. And your face clouded over when I told you that Lisa and I were getting married and my heart nearly burst. If you hadn’t come back the next day I still might have hung in there. I might have been there now, a partner, a married man. But you took me, just as you knew you could, you swept me up in your wake and you took me to New Hampshire and you changed my life forever.
It wasn’t easy for me on the campaign, I was still comparatively young and inexperienced. I got ignored a lot, or shouted at, I had to work hard for any recognition at all, but I could take all that because at night I had the comfort of your arms, your body warm against mine, your quiet words soothing my battered ego. I had your unconditional love and that was enough. And when we won you fought to keep me on the staff, Toby wasn’t sure, he wanted to pick his own guy but you persuaded him because you believed in me. It wasn’t so easy for us to be together back in Washington, working in the White House. I didn’t need you to tell me that we had to be careful but as long as we were still lovers I didn’t care about the price I’d have to pay, but then, I didn’t know that this would be the price.
Cathy brings me coffee and food and when she looks at me I can see the tears in her eyes and I don’t know if they are for me or for you, she closes the door behind her and I put my head back down on the desk. My desk, we made love once on that desk, it was mad, it was dangerous, it was during a state dinner for god’s sake. We stole into my office like a couple of high school kids because we couldn’t keep our hands off one another a minute longer. You always said I was irresistible in a tux. So you took me, sprawled out over my desk, it was fast and passionate and if I wasn’t so drugged up I could probably get hard just remembering it, but they give me pills to swallow. I don’t argue because the pills are supposed to help me forget but they don’t and I remember the night you took me on that desk. That was how things were with you, exciting, unpredictable, overwhelming and complicated, oh so very complicated, but I wouldn’t have missed it, not for anything.
What I can’t really remember is that last night before Rosslyn, I want to remember it, I want to relive every single second, I wish I’d taken more notice but I didn’t know it was going to be our last night together, of course I didn’t know. I was still so self absorbed because of the newspapers and Laurie, and perhaps because of that, you were more tender than usual. Or did you have a premonition? When you were fucking me, did you know that night that when you took me so far over the edge that the next night I’d be falling off the cliff for real? Did you know that Josh?
Toby comes in to check on me about fifty times a day, he uses soft words but his voice cracks, he misses you too, he doesn’t say so but I know it anyway. He pats my shoulder and I try to smile at him, to reassure him that I’m still hanging in there but he floats in front of my eyes. I know he can’t protect me forever, he’ll have to let me go, just as I have to let you go, they all say I have to let you go. I don’t want to, I want to keep you alive, at least in my mind, I want to keep the feel of your touch on my skin. I want you so much but there is only your tangible absence and I am so empty and aching.
Anyway, I know they’re right and tonight I am going to let you go. Your mother gave me your ashes. She looked so broken, so alone, she’s lost her husband and both of her children now and she wanted me to have your ashes because she said she knew how much you loved me. So I've been waiting, for tonight, because it's an anniversary of course. It’s the anniversary of that day you came back for me. That day when you stood outside my meeting, dripping wet, grinning like an idiot, trying to tell me that Bartlet was the real thing, willing me to follow you. And I did, because I believed in you, because I loved you, because you were the one, you were the only one, and for me there will never be anyone else. You were the real thing Josh. You were always the real thing.
It’s quiet here on the shore of the Potomac, it’s after midnight and the sky is velvet blue, a cool, gentle breeze wafts against my face and the dark black water is lapping at my feet. I have the box in my hands and all I have to do is open it and scatter your ashes across the river. The water is cold as it creeps up to my knees, I don’t want to let you go, but I know I have to and I want to be sure that nothing returns to the shore, I want the waters to take everything, so I wade further in. And I know that when I’m in over my head you’ll come and save me just like you always do, I know that when the waters of the Potomac close above me, you’ll take me and I won’t ever have to let you go and this hell will be over.
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