Title: There're Ants and they're Killers and they're in my Bedroom.
Summary: I think it's possible Sam has had too much medication.
Notes: For Abigale
There're Ants and they're Killers and they're in my Bedroom by Coupdepam
Josh woke suddenly. He blinked until his eyes had become accustomed to the dark and then heard the sound that had woken him. Sam was sitting up in bed coughing. Josh sat up and waited for him to stop.
"Sorry, Josh, I'll go to the spare room," Sam started to move but Josh held him back.
"Sam, you're boiling. Do you feel hot?" Sam nodded and let Josh pull his sweat soaked T-shirt off. Josh got him a glass of water and some cough syrup and then removed the comforter and replaced it with a clean sheet. Before he climbed back into bed he arranged Sam's pillows so that he was sitting further up, "Better?" he asked.
Sam's mumbled reply could have been a yes or a no, Josh wasn't sure, but he knew that Sam sank gratefully into his arms as he snatched another half hour's sleep before the next coughing fit began.
By the morning Sam's temperature had returned to normal but his cough had worsened, "I've phoned in. You're staying here today," Josh ran his hand through his hair as he started to point to the objects on the tray by the side of the bed, "Juice, newspaper, tablets, cough syrup and a sandwich."
"Are you going to take the tray away in five minutes and see if I can remember what was on it?"
Josh smiled and let his shoulders relax. He sat on the bed by Sam, "What's your name?" He kissed Sam on the forehead.
"Samuel Norman Seaborn."
"Very good," Josh kissed him again, "What day is it?"
"Tuesday," Sam was rewarded with another kiss.
"Who's the president of the United States?"
"Leo McGarry…oh you mean officially, Jed Bartlet," Josh's kiss turned into a laugh and he pulled back to study Sam.
"You're sure you'll be okay?"
Sam started to recite the objects on the tray in a dazed tone, "Tablets, juice, beachball a screwdriver, a mango, I think I saw a mango-"
"Alright, alright I get the message," Josh stood back from the bed but still seemed reluctant to leave, "There's more cough syrup in the bathroom if you need it. You had two tablets in the night and two this morning so…hang on," Josh picked up the tablets and started to read the dosage information," You can have two more in three hours."
He looked back at Sam who had slunk down under the covers. Josh pulled them down slightly, "Sam, don't lie like that you'll get too hot."
"Josh, I'm fine, will you just go to work and leave me to feel sorry for-" Sam stopped talking as he was struck by another fit of coughing. Josh clambered back onto the bed and helped him to sit up then he reached past him for the cough syrup.
"Here," he held the spoon to Sam's mouth but it was waved away as another fit assailed him, "That's it! I'm going to stay here. You're not well enough to be on your own. There must be partnering care rights or something and it's not like we're ever going to need time off to look after children so Leo will just have to-" the rest of Josh's words were lost as Sam, who had taken the syrup, stuck the spoon into Josh's mouth.
"Go to work. Toby's going to be on my back as it is, I don't need Leo as well," Sam turned away and pulled the covers over his head. Then, in a bid to appease Josh, and get him to go he pulled them back down below his shoulders. Josh put the spoon back on the tray and kissed Sam on the forehead before slowly backing out of the room.
"I'll call when I get there," he shouted from the living room.
"I'll be asleep," Sam called back.
"Okay, I'll come home for lunch," Josh grabbed his coat and backpack, "Damn I've got Ford all afternoon," he muttered to himself, then louder, "I'll phone at lunchtime. I can't come home…get some sleep,"
"Can I please?" Sam muttered to his empty room.
"I'll call…you just take it easy," Sam heard the door opening, "Two more in three hours," Josh called before Sam heard the sound of the door closing and let out a deep sigh of relief.
Josh listened to Congressman Ford but was unable to focus on his words.
"Excuse me, I just need to make a call," Josh hoped that he would think that Josh's sudden need to phone someone had been prompted by what he was saying. In fact Josh had realized that he wouldn't be able to concentrate until he had spoken to Sam and made sure that he was okay.
Josh walked into the room next door and pulled out his cell. The phone rang a number of times before Sam finally answered.
"Yeah," he sounded drowsy and annoyed.
"You were asleep," Josh apologised.
"I was asleep," Sam agreed.
"I just wanted to check you're okay," Josh explained sheepishly.
"I'm fine. I've eaten the sandwich, finished the orange and taken the pills and syrup. Do you want me to take my temperature while you're here?"
"Yeah, I've got a few minutes…oh…you're mocking me."
"Yes see I can be ill and still mock you. I just enjoy it more when I'm not feeling like- wow…"
"What…what is it Sam?"
"Nothing, I just thought I saw…nothing. Can I go back to sleep now?"
"What did you see?" Josh was not going to let Sam go on a comment like that.
Sam wondered if telling Josh that he just saw a swirl of colours on the bedroom wall would be a good idea or not. Knowing Josh's penchant for overreacting he decided it would be best not to mention it, "The Land of Nod, Josh. Somewhere in my ill, fever wracked mind I thought I saw the Land of Nod. I went there once, it was peaceful and healing and then some idiot decided to phone me to-"
"Okay I'm going. Go back to sleep. I'll be home as early as I can."
"Okay, Josh," Sam sounded as if he was already falling asleep again.
Josh replaced the receiver and headed back to his meeting. Sam sounded better than he had this morning. Josh wondered if he was run down and really just needed a day in bed. Josh resolved not to phone Sam again before he went home. He went back into this meeting but this time was pleased to find that he was able to concentrate fully on what was being said without having images of Sam lying on the floor in a crumpled heap invade his mind.
Sam slept for two hours after Josh's phone call. He woke to find the sheets wrapped tightly around him. He uncurled from his self-made cocoon and tried to ignore the fact that the walls seemed to be bright purple. He tried to remember what colour the walls normally were, but couldn't. He sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed at his eyes. When he looked up again the purple was gone and had been replaced by lime green. Sam was sure they weren't normally that colour either but a coughing fit distracted him from his thoughts and he went into the bathroom in search of a new bottle of cough syrup. The bottle Josh had left for him had been finished and thrown into the waste bin.
Sam struggled with the tight cellophane around the neck of the bottle. He tried to focus on what he was doing but then a sunray caught his ring and he started to stare at the small fleck of light that bounced off it and onto the bathroom floor. Twenty minutes later Sam's fascination with the light ceased and, forgetting why he was in the bathroom, he returned to his bedroom. The silver walls that surrounded him seemed to loom closer in towards the bed. Sam rolled over onto his side and closed his eyes. When he opened them he made a point of not looking at the walls. Instead he groped around on the bedside cabinet and found the pills that Josh had left and the dregs of the orange juice with which to swallow them. Sam remembered Josh telling him to take two more and that was his last thought before he fell back into a fitful sleep.
The sun streamed into Leo's office and gave the room a warm tone which wasn't matched by Leo's voice, "You were meant to persuade him, bring him round," Leo shouted at Josh.
"I was doing that but then he started to make sense and before I knew it I was agreeing with him."
"He's right, Leo. I think we need to rethink this," Toby interrupted before Leo could respond.
"Okay…well, rethink it then, but keep me informed will ya, call me an old stick in the mud but I like to know of any major policy shifts before they happen."
Josh smiled and nodded and was about to turn and leave when Margaret knocked and entered.
"Josh, Donna's got Sam on the phone and she wants to put him through. She told Sam that you were in here but he said he needed to talk to all of you."
Leo told Ginger to put the call through then turned to Josh, "But if he's found out you've reversed your position with Ford you can have the discussion somewhere else," Leo put the phone on speaker, "Hey Sam, Josh and Toby are here, what did you need?"
"Thank God, I'm surrounded by killer ants," a very desperate sounding Sam answered.
"Okay, Sam we're sort of in the middle of something here-"
"Well tell the fucking ants that because-"
Josh lurched for the phone sending a stack of papers flying off Leo's desk, "Sam, maybe you didn't hear the bit about being on speaker in Leo's office," Toby and Leo stared at Josh trying to make sense of his side of the conversation, "What are you talking about…calm down… why are you sitting on that…just go back to bed…okay, okay, stay there but calm down and start-…I do believe you I just-…I don't think ants are carnivores-"
Toby raised his arms in the air and shook his head at Leo, "Tell him to go back to bed, Josh."
Josh covered the mouthpiece, "He can't, there're killer ants in the bedroom."
"What are you…give me that," Toby snatched the phone from Josh, "Sam, it's Toby, you've got a fever and you're seeing things. Go back to bed…well no Sam I probably haven't seen antennae like that before but you still need to…no don't do that Sam…I don't…no, I don't think the secret service have a killer ant division…Sam listen to…Sam you're not…SAM!...go to bed and wait for Josh…Sam? Sam?...are you still…," Toby flinched and held the phone away from his ear, even Josh and Leo could hear Sam shouting on the other end, "Okay Sam, stay on the table, we're on our way…no, not the State Guard just me and Josh…okay… yeah…hang up, Sam."
Toby handed the receiver to Leo and then rubbed a hand over his eyes, "I think it's possible Sam has had too much medication. Either that or there really are killer ants in his bedroom. Either way I think we should head over there." Josh was already rushing out of Leo's office but Toby turned to Leo before following him, "And this is why I reacted the way I did when they told us they were gay. It wasn't out of concern for their careers or the administration, it was simply that the thought of those two looking after each other for the rest of their lives fills me with a fear that you can not imagine."
Leo nodded, "Go take care of them then," he smiled as he watched Toby walk hurriedly out of his office.
By the time they had got to the apartment Josh had convinced himself that there really was such a thing as killer ants, "Those red ants sting like hell and nobody says killer mosquitoes but they can kill… people have died…and killer bees…it's not just a film, there are-"
"Okay, I'm listening to your argument and this is my response, shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!" They drove the rest of the way in silence.
Josh took the stairs two at a time and was already inside the apartment by the time Toby reached the top of the last flight. He ran from room to room calling Sam's name but heard no reply. Sam was in the last room Josh checked, sitting curled up on top of the kitchen table. His face was white and it took him a while to notice Josh's presence.
"Sam, Sam, we're here, everything's alright," Josh soothed.
"You left me," Sam looked up at Josh, "You left me alone with killer ants."
"There are no killer ants!" Toby said breathlessly as he appeared in the doorway.
"There're ants and they're killers and they're in my bedroom!" Sam shouted.
Josh walked over to Sam and tried to put his arm around him but Sam pushed him away and shuffled back along the table towards the wall.
"Okay, okay," Josh spoke calmly but Toby knew he was a moment away from losing it altogether, "It's alright, Sam, we're going to kill the ants," Josh declared.
"For the love of…there are no ants, will you stop talking about killer ants as if they actually exist," Toby exclaimed and walked out of the kitchen.
"They exist for Sam," Josh countered but Toby was busy in the bathroom rummaging through the cabinet. Josh approached Sam again and this time he moved forward so Josh could wrap his arm around him. Toby came back into the kitchen carrying medicine cartons and bottles which he dumped on the table.
"What did he take?" he asked Josh and Josh pulled out the cough mixture and pills that he had left for Sam that morning. Toby reached past him and grabbed hold of Sam's chin and pulled his head towards him.
"How many of these have you taken?" Toby asked but gave up as soon as he saw Sam's confused expression. Sam looked at Josh, Josh looked at Toby and Toby looked at the medicine. He picked up the bottle and the tablets and pulled out his cell phone and left the room.
Josh pulled Sam closer to him. He was cold and Josh walked quickly into the bedroom and grabbed a blanket from the closet. When he returned Sam was backed up against the wall again. Josh had to almost climb on the table himself in order to wrap the blanket around him.
"Why did you leave me alone with killer ants?" Sam asked again and although the question was absurd, Josh's stomach flipped at the desperate tone of Sam's voice.
"There are no killer ants, Sam, you're just a little tired and your eyes are playing tricks on you, that's all." Sam closed his eyes and leaned against Josh. Josh pulled him towards him again and had very nearly managed to get him off the table when Toby burst back into the room, causing Sam to shrink away from Josh. "Get him off that table and into the bathroom," Toby ordered.
"Why? What are you going to do?" Josh asked.
"Hopefully make him puke up enough so that we don't have to take the President's Deputy Communication's Director to the ER to have his stomach pumped." Toby walked over to Sam and started to grab hold of his arm.
"Hold on," Josh placed his hand on Toby's arm, "What are you talking about?"
"Look, Josh, we don't have time for this," Toby tried to pull Sam away from the wall but Josh stopped him again.
"Look, I've just called…a friend, and told him that Sam has taken Cheracol Plus cough syrup and Comtrex cold tablets. He told me that Sam has actually taken two of the best sources of DXM on the market and that, Josh, is not a good thing. So help me get him off the table and into the bathroom."
Josh looked at Toby and realised that although he sounded like he was in control of the situation he looked just as scared as he was. He took his hand off Toby and started to pull Sam towards him.
"No, I don't want to go to the bathroom," Sam complained, "Josh doesn't want me to go to the bathroom."
"Yes I do, Sam, I do now, you need to come with us," Josh managed to pull Sam forwards until his feet were hanging off the end of the table, "There are no ants in the bathroom," Josh added.
"That's right, Sam, there are no ants there, you'll be safe," Toby said and with one final pull they hoisted Sam off the table and started to drag him towards the bathroom. When they reached the toilet Toby and Josh nearly lost their grip on Sam and they let him slide to the floor between them. Toby flipped the toilet seat up and with an expertise that surprised Josh, prized Sam's mouth open and stuck his finger as far as it would reach. Almost immediately Sam gagged and then started to vomit, Toby managing to push him forward in time.
Josh sat helpless at his side, as Toby repeated the procedure and kept up a stream of comforting words in contrast to his earlier tone.
"You've done this before," Josh stated.
"Let's just say my brother went through an interesting…stage…when he was growing up," Toby pulled Sam's face towards him and then pulled him upright, "I think we're done, let's get him to bed."
"But there are-"
"I swear to God, if you tell me there are killer ants in the bedroom, I will stick more than just my fingers down your throat," Toby warned.
Josh held up his hands in surrender and then bent down and helped Toby pull Sam into an upright position. Sam was hardly able to walk and they as good as dragged him into the bedroom and towards the bed. Josh managed to grope at the light switch and he and Toby made sounds of surprise at the state of the room. When Josh had been looking for Sam he had only ducked his head into the room and seen that Sam was not in the bed. Now he could see the tray that he had left that morning was laying upside down, its contents scattered across the floor. The bedside lamp lay on the floor as well, next to the alarm clock. The comforter and pillows where piled into a heap at the top of the bed where, Toby and Josh correctly guessed, Sam had tried to protect himself from the ants. Josh nodded towards a chair and they sat Sam down so that they could rearrange the bedding. Josh placed a hand on the sheet and then suddenly pulled it off the bed, dragging the comforter and pillows with it. Toby watched Josh return with bed linen and make the bed.
Josh seemed absorbed in his task and Toby leant back against the wall, one hand resting on Sam's shoulder. Josh was replacing the pillow covers when Toby's attention was drawn to Sam who was rubbing his eyes.
"Soon be in bed, Sam," Toby muttered. Sam was staring at the floor ahead of him. Toby bent down and followed his gaze. Lying on the floor by the wall at the far end of the room lay Josh's sneakers. Sam's stare was fixed on them as if waiting for them to move. Toby stared first at the sneakers, then at Sam, then back at the sneakers. They were just an ordinary pair of black shoes, the laces trailed on the floor in front of them. But as he stared, Toby could see what Sam could.
"Josh," Toby called, his eyes still focused on the sneakers.
Josh was straightening out the comforter and he mumbled a response without looking up.
"Josh, come over here and look at this."
This time Josh looked up, walked over and crouched down beside Sam. His eyes followed Toby's and at first he wondered what was so fascinating about his sneakers. But slowly it dawned on him too; Josh's sneakers were the killer ants. Seen through Sam's fevered and drug muddled mind, the sneakers took on a menacing quality. They appeared ready to pounce into action, their laces taking on the appearance of evil antennae feeling their way across the ground.
Sam leant forward, his head positioned above and between Toby and Josh. He placed his hands on their shoulders and whispered, "Get `em."
Josh jumped up, ran towards the shoes and jumped on them. When Josh had finished, Sam mumbled a thank you and then leant back again and sighed. Josh walked over to the bed and pulled back the comforter before he helped Toby get Sam into the bed. Toby righted the lamp and switched it on while Josh cleared up the remnants of the tray. Josh assured Sam that there were no more ants and that he and Toby were just next door, and they left the room.
Josh made coffee and shoved a pizza in the oven while Toby told him what his friend had said.
"Hang on," Josh interrupted, "So people buy the cough mixture and tablets that Sam took because of this DXM ingredient?"
"Yeah," Toby had never heard of DXM either but he had no problem believing that the right combination of over the counter medicines could produce a high better than any street drug.
"But Sam's not a teenager looking for a cheap high, for God's sake! What was he thinking? I told him how many tablets he'd had…I told him before I left."
Toby stretched out in his chair and tried to relax his shoulders, he knew he was going to be here all night and that he was probably going to be awake for most of it. "It wasn't the tablets, it was the cough mixture, the combination of the two. I suppose after a while he didn't know what he was taking."
While Toby had been speaking, Josh had been stirring the coffee. He continued to stir and seemed to be mesmerised by the revolutions of the spoon. "Thanks…I don't know what I would have…thanks."
Toby reached out and stopped Josh's hand. Josh removed the spoon and Toby took the cup and walked into the living room.
The smell of pizza had started to drift into the room from the kitchen and Josh was surprised to find how hungry he felt. He was just about to go check the pizza's progress when he heard a noise. Toby heard it too. Josh jumped up and headed towards the bedroom. By the time Toby entered the room Josh was already kneeling next to the bed. He couldn't make out what Sam was saying but could hear Josh's reply.
"It doesn't matter, go to sleep," Sam was trying to sit up but Josh was pushing him down. "It's alright, close your eyes."
Sam stopped mumbling and Toby watched as Josh remained by the bed until he was sure Sam was asleep. It didn't take long. Josh got up and followed Toby out of the room.
"What was wrong?" Toby asked as he slumped back down onto the sofa.
"He wanted to tell you the ants were dead and he was sorry for shouting at you," Josh explained.
"He didn't shout at me…what, in the kitchen?" Toby asked, confused.
"Well, he also asked if the President was still here, so…" Josh went into the kitchen and cleared away the medicine packets that lay on the table and scattered on the floor. Toby stood in the doorway and watched in silence as Josh cleared up.
"I'm going to stay here tonight," Toby announced and although Josh was surprised he didn't show it. "We should look at the Dalton report," Toby continued. "If we're going to be up all night we might as well get something done. I'll call Leo, and then we'll make a start."
Toby removed his necktie and jacket and started to spread the contents of a file across the coffee table. Josh joined him and they worked for an hour, punctuated by visits to check on Sam, before a noise from the bedroom disturbed them once more.
Josh rose quickly and after a few moments Toby followed. Sam was mumbling again but this time it was clear enough for Toby to hear.
"I want to get up…I want a drink...I want-" Sam stopped suddenly and tried to roll away from Josh who was sitting on the bed beside him, "I'm gonna throw up."
Both Toby and Josh sprang into action. Josh reached beside the bed for the waste bin while Toby flipped on the main light and walked over to the bed. Sam retched but that was all. Josh sat by his side and rubbed his back. Toby stood by the side of the bed and held the bin. When Sam was finished, Josh helped him to lie down again and waited for his breathing to return to a more relaxed pattern before joining Toby who had returned to the sofa and the work that lay spread out before it.
Another hour passed in which Josh and Toby had given up on work and entered a conversation about all-nighters they had pulled at college, which became a conversation about the benefits of giving up coffee which, in turn, became a discussion about how their eating habits had changed since they had started working at the White House.
Josh moved so quickly when he heard the clatter from the bedroom, that Toby was startled more by Josh's movement than by the sudden noise that had preceded it. Toby got up as quickly as his tired limbs would allow and stood once more in the doorway of the bedroom.
Sam was sitting on the floor at the end of the bed. Toby watched as Josh helped Sam to his feet and back into bed and right the lamp that had fallen to the floor. Sam was more lucid and Josh talked soothingly to him. Toby realized that Josh wasn't leaving Sam and so he returned to the living room and started to make up a bed on the sofa. When he was satisfied that his makeshift bed was as comfortable as he could make it he returned to the bedroom. Sam was asleep, held firmly in Josh's arms. Toby couldn't tell if Josh was awake or not until Sam started to stir. Josh said something that Toby couldn't hear and Sam immediately quietened. Toby went back to the living room and settled down on the sofa.
Toby woke to an unfamiliar sound. It took him a moment to remember where he was and why. At first he thought the sound was coming from a radio but then realised it was Josh and Sam talking quietly in the bedroom. He stretched, nearly rolling off the sofa in the process and slowly rose and walked towards the bedroom. They were sitting on the end of the bed, staring at Josh's sneakers. Sam was leaning against Josh and as he spoke, Josh played with Sam's hair.
"But you can see, looking at them now, how they might have seemed to be killer ants," Sam whispered.
"I can see the thing with the laces looking like an ant's antenna," Josh agreed.
"And the President wasn't here?" Sam knew it was nonsense but he couldn't get the idea out of his head.
Josh laughed, "No!"
Sam sat upright and turned to face Josh and in doing so saw Toby standing in the doorway, "Please tell me that Toby was here, because he's standing in the doorway and I'm really hoping I'm not still hallucinating."
"Oh I was there, Sam, and Toto was too," Toby walked into the bedroom and crouched down in front of Sam, "How are you feeling?"
"Better, much, much better." Sam swiped a hand over his face, "I don't know what happened last night but thanks for staying."
Toby nodded and stood quickly, but he patted Sam's shoulder before walking out of the room. Josh made Sam go back to bed where he quickly fell asleep again. Toby was folding up his bedding when Josh finally emerged from the bedroom.
"You'll stay for breakfast?" Josh asked as he took the comforter and pillows from Toby and put them away. Toby agreed and the two men sat in the kitchen, Toby read the paper, as Josh organised something for them to eat. When they had finished Toby took one last look at Sam who was still sound asleep.
"I know I've already said it, but thanks for what you did last night, Toby. I don't think I would have coped if you weren't here."
"You didn't cope," Toby pointed out. The two men left Sam to sleep and Toby picked up his bag and coat and headed fro the door. Before he opened it he turned to Josh, "I told Leo that the thought of you two looking after each other scares the hell out of me." Toby put his coat on and opened the door, "After seeing you two together last night…well, it doesn't anymore."
Josh smiled and repeated his thanks. Toby just nodded and shut the door behind him. Josh stood in the living room for a little while before walking quietly back to the bedroom. He tip-toed over to the bed and whispered Sam's name. Sam mumbled in reply, Josh carefully got onto the bed. Sam snuggled up against him and Josh wrapped his arms around him.
"Toby gone?" Sam asked.
"Yeah," Josh kissed the back of Sam's head, "He left just after the President." Josh was surprised at the strength Sam found to elbow him in the stomach.
Josh thought Sam had fallen asleep and eased himself from behind him.
"I'm not asleep."
"Well go to sleep. I've got to go to work."
"Okay," Sam pulled the covers over his head but stopped Josh at the door, "Josh, just do one thing before you go?"
"Just put those sneakers in the wardrobe."
"No, they're just sneakers, Sam. You're going to develop a weird sneaker/insect phobia if I pander to you. Go to sleep." Josh left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.
Sam had almost fallen asleep when he heard the door open again. He peered over the covers and saw Josh picking up the sneakers and putting them in the wardrobe. Sam closed his eyes snuggled further under the covers. Only when Josh was sure Sam was asleep, did he quietly stop watching him and leave the room.
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