Title: Free Nights and Weekends
Pairing: Sam/Josh (implied)
Disclaimer: Characters are the property of Aaron Sorkin & NBC among others.
Summary: Post-ep for "The Constituency of One"
Notes: Thanks to Oro for the great beta.
Free Nights and Weekends by Amatia
The single blinking message on his machine is from Sam. "Call my cell when you get in, Josh. I don't care if you think it's too late."
He drops everything in his arms on the counter and calls.
"Happy birthday," is the first thing Sam says, after the "it's me," the question of whether or not Sam was asleep and denials of any sort of resting or eye-closing were past.
"They threw me a surprise party," is Josh's reply. "I had an awful day and it ended with a party I couldn't even attempt to escape from."
"Did Donna arrange it?"
"I can only assume."
"Then it wasn't escapable, Josh, so it was probably for the best that you didn't try."
Josh can hear crinkling and footsteps on Sam's end. "What are you doing?"
"Eating. What are you doing?"
"Breathing." He's standing in the middle of the room with the phone between his shoulder and his ear and he hasn't moved from this spot since Sam said hello.
There's a crunch. Sam's eating some sort of chips. "Tell me what was so awful about your day."
"Am I your late-night entertainment?"
The sound of Sam swallowing came next. "Of course you're not," he replies, sounding hurt.
Josh apologizes and says, "Nothing is the same with you gone."
"Will's not holding it together?"
"Sometimes I don't think any of us are holding it together, me least of all. Sometimes I think I don't even love this job anymore," he snaps, and is surprised that he's saying it. Anger's gotten his blood rushing. "I've given this administration so much; I got fucking shot for this administration, and yet it feels like I'm always getting fucked over. We're picking battles we don't win and I'm so tired of losing."
Sam says nothing. Josh knows if he were here, his eyes would say it all. He wishes Sam were here.
"I barely even remember what the message was we started out with," he says, "or how it got so tied up in partisanship along the way. You remember during the first year when we went to see your friend the hooker to dig up some dirt on a couple Republicans?"
"Laurie. I remember."
"And we told her that we were doing it because we owed Leo; we owed him everything?"
Josh has told him about this before. "We've all changed since that first year," Sam replies gently.
"But have any of us changed for the better?" Josh moves, finally; he walks into the living room and lays down on the sofa. He misses Sam with a futile desperation that pulls at his stomach, his heart, his lungs, his scar. He rubs at it through his shirt; the buttons get in the way. "If I asked you to come, how long would it take?"
Josh can hear Sam's breathing on the other end of the line. He watches the VCR clock blink as the seconds pass. It takes a full minute before he realizes the breathing has been replaced with silence. When he calls back there is only Sam's voicemail and the message that says he's travelling and can't answer.
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