Title: Better Angels
Pairings: Josh/Sam, Jed/Leo, Toby/CJ
Rating: I can't write sex scenes very well so a strong R and let's leave it at that.
Archive: If you please.
Notes: this fic is set in the Civil War. It was inspired in part by the movie Glory. If you haven't seen it, I'd highly recommend picking it up. Fair warning, I can't write about slavery without using some brutality. This is not for the faint of heart. Also, hate to do this to ya, but I killed Abbey Bartlet. Sorry.
Better Angels by elicesmithus
Young Seaborn of Seaborn & Seaborn watched as the Yankee Soldiers marched by in parade down the streets of Washington D.C. He very much wanted to join them in their snappy blue uniforms, but he wasn't allowed. His father wouldn't let him join the 'Yankee trash' as he called them. Mr. Seaborn was a well-respected Louisiana lawyer and an ardent Confederate. He had sent young Samuel up north to the nation's capital to finish his schooling and gather up the family assets before the government froze them. Sam had just graduated from Yale Law School when the war had started.
Unlike most of the people he knew, including his father and all of his friends, Sam did not want a war. He thought war was a useless waste when it was so much better to talk out situations like thinking men. He didn't dare voice that opinion at home. He also didn't tell his father what he thought of slavery. The thought of Joseph Seaborn's face if he heard that his son was, at heart, an abolitionist sent a shudder through Sam. But, more than anything, Sam wanted to be a Yankee soldier, just like the brave men he saw in the parade. He wanted to fight to preserve the Union and give all men the basic freedoms they deserved. He sighed again. If he wanted any chance at soldiering, he'd have to do it in gray. His father wouldn't accept anything else.
Lost in his own thoughts, Sam started to cross the street, not noticing the small band of men following behind him.
The unsavory looking group of men wore the blue uniform, but they were hardly the brave fighters of Sam's daydreams. They had seen the stylishly dressed youth watching the parade. When he had picked his way through the crowd, they'd heard the southern accent in his voice. That, coupled with his clothing and his innocent face, was more than enough reason to have some fun, in their opinions.
Sam was so lost in his own head, that he was rather startled to suddenly find himself surrounded by dangerous looking men. He drew himself up, hoping they wouldn't see his nerves. "What can I do for you gentlemen?" The leader of the group sneered. "'Ya hear that, boys? He wants to know what he can do for us 'gentlemen'." They started backing Sam up against the wall. "Well, Reb, what you can do is give us that fine gold watch you got on your vest." As he reached for Sam's pocket watch, an officer's sword suddenly appeared at his wrist, and a quiet voice interrupted. "If you touch this man's watch, you'll lose your hand. Now, let him go."
Sam was convinced he was dreaming. He was looking at what had to be the most amazing man he'd ever seen in his life. He was in a blue uniform with a Captain's insignia on it. He had a sword in his hand and a pistol at his side. From the top of his brown hair to the tips of his polished boots, he was without a doubt the most fascinating creature Sam had ever seen. The Captain repeated himself, "I said, let him go." The burly leader of the gang began to panic. "But, Captain, sir, this here's a Reb. 'Ya can hear it in his voice. We was just havin' some fun with the boy. No harm meant." The Captain's eyes got colder. "Any man who preys on innocents under my command will be flogged and imprisoned on charges. Is that understood, soldier?" The men fell over themselves saluting and with many Yes, Captain Lymans and No, Captain Lymans, they departed. The problem dealt with, the Captain now turned to the boy. "And what shall we do with you, my fine young Rebel?"
Sam cringed back, convinced he'd be arrested for being a Reb on Yankee soil. "Please, don't hurt me, sir. I wasn't bothering anybody. I'm not a Reb. At least I don't think I am. I think this war is wrong. I think slavery is wrong. But, if my father were to hear me say that, well I'd be in some trouble, sir. I want to be a Yankee Soldier, but my father would kill me. He says I have to wear the gray and protect the family honor, but I really don't want to. Please, don't hurt me." He knew he was babbling, but he just couldn't seem to stop. There was something about the compassionate brown eyes looking down at him that just made him feel safe.
Captain Joshua Lyman stared down at the southern boy in astonishment. What he'd meant as a joke had obviously been taken very seriously by the young man in front of him. 'I'd better take this one to the Colonel and the Doc. They'll know what to do with him.' He thought to himself. He held a hand out to the boy.
"Slow down there. I'm not gonna hurt you. Why don't you come with me? We'll get you a drink and a bite to eat and you can tell me about wanting to be a Yankee." When the boy looked up, Josh caught his breath. This boy was stunningly beautiful. He had blue eyes to match any Yankee uniform, and a thatch of black hair that shone without being oily. Josh's preference for men was well known in his regiment, but few begrudged him. There were people who didn't like it, but the Colonel was pretty much live and let live. Plus there were few who wanted to slander the son of one of President Lincon's cabinet. So, Josh was fairly safe. Still, he'd rarely seen someone as beautiful as this boy. A boy who was clearly terrified. He tried to smile reassuringly. "Don't worry. I won't hurt you. Why don't you come have a bite with me?"
Sam smiled tremulously and took the Yankee's hand. "Maybe just a bite."
Josh watched the boy in front of him wolf down his food. It was obvious the lad had missed a few meals. "Slow down, lad. The food's not gonna run away. I swear." Sam blushed as he realized that he was forgetting his manners. "I'm sorry, Captain. My father doesn't like me to make a glutton of myself, so I don't usually eat much at the table. And we don't eat between meals in my family."
Sam looked up in confusion. "Excuse me, sir?" The Captain smiled at him. "My name is Josh. At least that's what my friends call me." The boy gave him a blinding smile that made him a little weak at the knees. "My name's Sam." Josh, seeing that Sam's plate was empty, offered his own half-finished meal. It was accepted gratefully and quickly cleaned. "So, tell me about wanting to be a Yankee." And Sam began to speak.
"Well, I just graduated from Yale Law. I'm supposed to go into my father's practice with him, but I don't particularly want to. Law seems so dry when there's a war to be fought. I don't like fighting, but my father says that if I don't want to disgrace the family, I must be a confederate soldier. He's a very proud confederate, and he wants to buy me a commission as an officer, but I want to earn my own way. I don't want to wear the gray. It's not really about state's rights like my father and his friends say. It's about slavery, a practice that is just wrong, in my opinion. That's why you're fighting, isn't it? To free the slaves? My father has lots of slaves. I have one, but I'd free him if I could. I don't like owning him. He knows that as soon as I can, we're going to Ohio. There's a law there that says any slave that crosses the border into Ohio is automatically free. I'm going to take him there and let him run away. Oh, no!" Sam stood abruptly. "I have to go. Charlie will be worried for me. We have a train to catch."
Josh stood as well, "Alright, I'll let you go then." He held out his hand. Sam shook it and blushed slightly. "Thank you for the meal, Captain. I mean, Josh." He blushed a little redder. Josh smiled. "If you're really serious about wanting to be a Yankee, my regiment is camped over by the river. Just ask around for McGarry's Madmen. They'll know where we are. Bye."
<WARNING> LIBERAL USE OF THE N WORD HERE JUST CONSIDER THE TIME PERIOD <WARNING>
Sam was in such a daze that he barely remembered the walk back to his hotel. He was humming the latest dance hall tune under his breath as he went to enter his room. He almost didn't hear the voices.
"Why you stay wit dis massa? You run away wit us, we be our own massas."
"What you mean, run away? I ain't runnin away wit a buncha hotel niggers. You git on outta here. Let me get 'bout my work. Ain't you got your own work to be doin'? "
"Wait a minute. You gonna be tellin' yo massa? Cause if you is, you be getting the lot of us in trouble. And don't none of us need anymore stripes on our backs. We wouldn't be takin kindly to the nigger that done put them there."
"I don't be tellin' nobody nothin'. I minds my own bidness and 'spect people to mind theirs. The lotta you wants to run off and get killed by crackers and pattyrollers it's none of my never mind. Now git on outta here and let me do my work."
"Alright, I be goin'."
Sam jumped into the nearest doorway to avoid being seen as the door was opened by another slave, who was muttering under his breath. "Humph. Didn't want no uppity house nigger goin' wit us anyhow."
Sam walked casually up the hall and into his room. "I'm back, Charlie. And wait till you hear what happened to me."
Charlie listened with exasperation and affection as his master recounted the day’s adventures. Charlie thought back to his first days as Massa Sam’s valet.
Charlie had been with Sam for going on nine years now. His mother, Sarah, had been the big house cook, a prominent position that had elevated her children and herself above the common field hands. As his seventh birthday had approached, she had taken steps to ensure that he would not have to go to the fields.
She had begun taking him to the big house with her in the morning. Whenever the Massa or the Missus was around, she would set him to polishing and cleaning something with great vigor. After about three weeks of this, Sarah had asked if the Missus would have a talk with her. The Missus was a kind and gentle woman who had a great affection for Sarah, and did not deserve the cruelty her husband heaped upon her and her son. Massa Joseph had thought that young Massa Sam was too soft. He preferred books to guns and didn’t like to hunt. The only thing about him that his father approved of was his love of horses and riding. So, Sarah’s suggestion that little Charlie would do well as his first slave was met with approval. Maybe, if Sam showed the proper attitude of a slave owner, his father would soften up toward him. Missus had agreed to take the idea to her husband.
One week later, on young Massa Sam’s tenth birthday, his father had presented him with the ownership papers of one healthy slave boy of seven years old. He had been rather surprised at the gift, considering his father’s opinion of him. After all, a slave was worth a great deal of money, especially young and untrained. But Sam had simply thanked his father, and gone to collect his present.
Charlie had been terrified. When his friends in the slave cabins had heard about his good fortune, they had compensated for their jealousy by filling his head with the most horrible stories they had heard or could think of about young Massas and what they did to their first slaves. So, when his new massa had led him wordlessly up to his bedroom and locked the door, Charlie had been convinced he would be getting his first beating. He had been rather surprised when Sam had simply turned to him and said, “I don’t like owning people, so why don’t the two of us just be friends?”
Charlie hadn’t been able to believe his ears. ‘Friends’ with a massa? Surely such a thing had never been. It had taken a week before Charlie had started to believe his good fortune. They had come to an agreement. The only times Sam had treated him as a slave was in public or in front of his family. In private, they were Sam and Charlie. They had no secrets from each other. Sam had taught Charlie to read, and Charlie had taught Sam how to fight. It was a good friendship. Charlie was well aware of his massa’s plan to take him over the border to Ohio and let him run away. What Sam didn’t know was that Charlie had no intention of leaving his friend twisting in the wind of his father’s wrath, let alone running off without his mother and sister with him. Sarah had raised her little boy better than that. On hearing about this Captain Lyman and his offer to join his regiment, Charlie’s ears perked up and he got the beginnings of a wonderful idea. He cleared his throat to interrupt Sam’s monologue.
“Well, if this Yankee massa offered, why don’t we go on and have ourselves a looksee?”
“Well, are these some friends of yours, Joshua?”
All eyes turned to the man who had spoken. The Doc was a stocky man with mouse brown hair and piercing blue eyes that always seemed to be laughing at some secret joke. When he looked at you, you got the impression that all your flaws and accomplishments had been laid bare. You felt like you were transparent, and, even though he saw both the best and the worst of you, he liked you anyway. Sam and Charlie immediately felt at ease in his presence.
Josh smiled to himself. “Well, Doc, I’ve only met one of them. Sam, this is Doctor Josiah Bartlet. Just call him Doc. Doc, this is Sam, the boy I had lunch with.” Remembering his manners, Sam stood and offered the Doc his hand. Seeing his face clearly for the first time, the Doc caught his breath. The last time he’d seen such beauty was when he was 16 and had met a young man named McGarry. Sam smiled, “Nice to meet you, Doctor. I’m Samuel Seaborn and this is my friend Charlie.” The young black boy stepped into the light. “Suh.” The boy said cautiously. Charlie was no fool. He’d see how these Yankees treated him before he revealed anything. He was startled when both the Doctor and the Captain held out their hands to shake his. Warily, he took their hands.
Josh looked over at Sam. “I wasn’t sure you’d be coming by. What can I do for you, lad?” Sam drew himself up to his full height and took a deep breath. “I’ve run away from home, and I wanna be a Yankee soldier.”
Josh sighed and looked at the Doc. “Doc, would you mind fetching the Colonel for me? I think this is something that can only gone over once.”
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