TITLE: The Mets, Truman, and Me
AUTHORS: Beth and Julian
AUTHORS' EMAILS: Beth: firstname.lastname@example.org; Julian: email@example.com
AUTHORS' URLS: Beth: http://www.angelfire.com/ok5/eal/index2.html; Julian: http://geocities.com/thwarted1066/index.html
DISCLAIMER: We have made no profit off of this venture. We intend no copyright infringement. We are not Aaron Sorkin or NBC, who own these boys. Don't bother trying to sue us; we don't have anything.
SUMMARY: What Sam does at one a.m. when he's supposed to be sleeping.
NOTES: A fic written for Nomi's birthday, fitting into her "Scratching the Itch" universe, which can be found and greatly enjoyed at http://world.std.com/~gnomi/stories.html. Happy Birthday again, Nomi!
WARNING: This fic contains reckless use of staple guns!
The Mets, Truman, and Me by Beth and Julian
I was late again. Leo kept me to deal with a last minute bill that was wending its way through the Senate. We were for it. Or at least we were for it yesterday, I think, after further research, we aren't so much for it anymore. Anyway, I was so late that I was probably early -- for something.
I lost track of Sam somewhere around midnight. He might have stopped in and said something, but then again he might have just left. He's been busy; I've been busy. It's busy in the White House this time of year. Well, it's always busy in the White House to be honest, but there are some times that are busier than others -- these are those times.
So we've been really busy and we haven't had a lot of time to connect.
It was edging on towards one by the time Leo cut me loose. After taking twenty seconds to shove some files into my backpack, I made a bee-line for Sam's office. With the day I'd had, all I wanted was my own bed and my Sam in it.
But when I got to the Communications bullpen, Sam was gone, and clearly had been for some time. I stalled outside his office, too tired to make a new plan now that my first one had fallen apart.
I must've looked awfully pathetic, because I felt a warm hand descend on my shoulder, and a sympathetic voice in my ear said, "Sam went home, Josh."
I looked up, blinking in confusion. Bonnie. Right. "Went home?"
She smiled. "Yeah. You know, as in, not here?"
Oh! *Home.* Well, hot damn. It looked as though Sam had had the same idea I did. Grinning, I spun around towards the exit and headed off in search of my wayward lover. But first I had to ask. "He left voluntarily?"
Behind her, Ginger sniggered. "Sure, it was voluntary," she said. "Right after Toby pulled out the staple-gun and threatened to staple Sam's laptop shut."
I goggled. "Toby threatened Sam with a *staple gun*?"
Laughing, Ginger and Bonnie nodded. "It was very impressive," Bonnie told me.
Well. Toby threatened Sam with a staple gun. I wasn't always sure how I felt about Toby, but at moments like this, I really just wanted to kiss the man.
But I wanted to kiss Sam more, so I left the office with a bit of spring in my step. Though that could have been the sleep deprivation, I really don't know.
Anyway. I assumed that, when I got home, I would find my Sam curled up asleep on the couch waiting for me -- as he has always done since, well, since forever, I guess. Failing that, I thought he'd be in bed. It was late; he'd been sent home to sleep, so I *thought* his fear of Toby would actually drive him to sleep. It didn't.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived home was the lights were on. Nothing gets past Joshua Lyman -- nothing. And if the lights were on, it probably meant that Sam wasn't sleeping. Oh the fun I could have threatening to tell Toby that Sam had disregarded a direct order. First, though, I was going to have to find him.
I went to Yale; I went to Harvard; I won a Fulbright. All of these things attest to the fact that I am a smart guy. And I am, but I cannot explain what I found. Sam was in the closet. The *utility* closet.
The unpleasant thunk that sounded from inside the closet warned me that I wasn't going to be facing a happy Sam when he crawled out of my closet. Sam was rubbing his head and giving me the evil eye as he peered out. "What are you doing here?"
I looked around for a minute. "Uh. I live here."
"You sure about that?"
"Yeah. I'm sure." I waited for one beat and then said, "What are you doing?"
Sam gave me that look I hate. The one that says he doubts that I actually have the degrees I say I have. "What does it look like I'm doing, J?"
"Toby sent you home to sleep. It doesn't look like you're sleeping."
"Tried. Couldn't sleep without you, so I decided to do something about this closet." Sam sat back on his heels and grinned up at me. I wasn't sure what had sparked his sudden interest in this particular closet.
"J, this closet is dangerous. I mean, do you even know what you have in here?"
I shrugged. "The normal utility closet kind of stuff, I imagine."
"You imagine?" Sam raised an eyebrow at me, and I sighed, predicting the lecture that was on its way. "You don't *know* what's in here?"
This conversation? Not fun. "You're supposed to be in bed."
He brushed me off. "Told you: couldn't sleep. Seriously, now, J, there's terrifying stuff in here." And because he's a writer and knows well the need for concrete evidence to back up any point he makes, Sam started pulling things out of the closet. "First off: a baseball. A *baseball,* J. Round, given to rolling, and totally unanchored. It's just sitting there, waiting to fall on somebody's head."
I grabbed the ball from his hands and cradled it protectively in mine. "I caught this baseball when I was eleven. My dad and me, Mets versus Reds, first-base line—"
"Okay, fine. Bad example." Reaching up again, he pulled down what looked like a power drill. Which was odd, because I was pretty sure I didn't *own* a power drill. "This drill has no drill bits." He held up the power cord, which looked like an entire battalion of angry rodents had gone to work on it. "Even if it did, you couldn"t plug it into anything, because you'd electrocute yourself and *die.* And yet, there it sits in your utility closet."
With a weary sigh, I sank to the floor across from the closet. Sam, I could tell, was just getting warmed up. I didn't know what else was in that closet for him to haul down, but I suspected he would subject me to it all before he cooled down enough to be reasoned with.
Don't get me wrong; I appreciate Sam's concerns for my safety. But not at one in the morning. "I don't suppose we could do this sometime later. Like say, once the president is out of office?"
Sam chose to ignore my sarcasm, and instead reached back into the closet with one hand. I was impressed, vaguely, with his ability to pull out an item seemingly at random, but then I realized it wasn't random at all. "J, what's this?"
I was sure he was joking. "You don't know what that is?"
"I *know* what it is, J. I want to know if you do." Sam's grin had become almost maniacal.
"It's an iron."
"Why yes, J. It *is* an iron." Sam waved the iron -- an old, black iron that predated his birth by a few years -- around. "But the question is, why do you have this iron? I mean, of all the irons in the world, why do you possess this one?"
"Because my mother gave it to me when I went to college." There. Find fault with that.
"This iron dates back to the Truman administration. Why would your mother give you an antique when you went to college?"
I flushed. I couldn't help it. "Because she didn't want to buy me a new iron when she knew I wouldn't use it."
"And did you? Use it, I mean?"
"What do you think, Love?"
"So we can return it to your mother now, right?" Sam's smile turned triumphant when I nodded my agreement. It was then that I began to understand the method laid out in front of me. One box for trash; one box for the family archivist (a.k.a. my mother); and, one box that would return to the closet.
"Is there much more in there?" Sam's face contorted again. I couldn't decide if he was angry or frustrated or just out of patience with me, but I had a feeling I was about to find out.
"Once you identify this one other thing, I'll stop for the night. Would that work for you?"
I nodded eagerly. Until I saw the object.
"So J? What's this?" Sam smiled the smile of a man who knows he's won. Though, won what, I'm not really sure.
At once, I saw where the problem lay: this, to me, was a prized possession not in terms of its monetary value, which was nil, but in terms of its sheer volume of practical applications. But I just knew that Sam wasn't going to see it that way.
"Well, Love," I said, "it's my bag collection."
Sam, as I predicted, looked massively unimpressed by this revelation. "Your *bag* collection?"
"Yes." Now I was feeling almost defiant. "My collection of bags, paper as well as plastic, with handles as well as without, accrued throughout from fine grocery and convenience establishments across the city."
"All right. It's your bag collection. And yet the question remains: *why*?"
I stared at him. "Why? You ask me why? Just think of all the uses of a bag collection!"
He stared into space for a minute. "I'm thinking. I'm not coming up with anything."
Snarling softly, I yanked the wad of bags out of his hands. "You only said I had to identify the object, not justify it. Can we stop now?"
Sam turned back to the closet. "I'm so close to done."
"Sam, no." I grabbed his shoulders and turned him to face me. "You have had *three* doctors in the past month order you to get more sleep. The last time my mother was here, she made me promise that I would make you sleep more. And today Toby threatened you with a staple gun in order to make you get more sleep." I gave his shoulders a little shake. "I worry about you, and you're cleaning out the closet."
Sam put on his best pout. Normally, I can deny this pout nothing, but by this point I was angry as well as humiliated, and I was not budging. I took my hands off Sam's shoulders and crossed my arms forbiddingly. I hoped. He looked at the floor for a minute and then said softly, "I just can't sleep when you're not here."
I sighed. I can deny this pout nothing.
And then I realized the flaw in his logic. I stopped myself from doing a dance, though. "Well, Love, here I am. I am standing right in front of you, and I really want to get some sleep. The closet will still be here next week, next month, next administration and you'll have all the time in the world to clean it. Me, I'm not immortal, and I have to be back in my office in five hours."
Sam tried to scoff. "That's not really a fair—"
"Your choice, Sam," I teased him gently. "Me, or the closet?"
Sam smiled and wrapped his arms around my neck. "When you put it like that, I guess there's not really a choice at all."
Grinning, I nudged the closet shut with my foot. Sam tried to sneak another peek inside before the door closed completely. As we walked towards the bedroom, he slipped his arm around my waist and shook his head. "Bag collection, J?"
Of all the retorts that sprang to mind, the only one that *really* seemed fitting was, "Staple gun, Love?"
Sam blushed, and we both started laughing. Someday, I vowed, I'd teach him all the ways in which a bag collection is completely indispensable. Someday after we'd both gotten a *lot* more sleep.