Title: Nobody Sits
Author: Clarity / Karasu karasumouri (at) earthlink (dot) net
Author’s site: http://enchantingmuse.com
Rating: PG
Archive? Yes to list and LJ archives, anyone else, please ask first.
Pairing: Sam/Josh pre-slash
Content: Episode-based during season two’s “Midterms.” Slight hurt/comfort. Pre-slash.
Standard disclaimers apply. Direct quotes from the end scene of “Midterms” make up most of the dialogue in the last scene of this story. Title comes from a quote from the episode, of course.
Summary: The scene where Bartlet takes on Jenna Jacobs is one of my favorite serious scenes of the show. The entire episode is fantastic. So this is a little tribute to the episode, a missing scene of sorts.

Nobody Sits by Clarity/Karasu

In the midst of trying to gain the majority in the House, Josh was left stranded in first his hospital room and then his apartment. Donna still worked at the office for at least half a day before coming over to keep him updated and offer him company. The rest of his day was spent mostly lying around and watching the crap on TV. Donna picked up movies for him on Sunday, but he found it far too easy to work through the tapes by Tuesday afternoon. Phone calls had to be short most of the time since everyone else had a job to do. Donna had declared Josh’s apartment a no-work zone and was ferocious with assuring that the rule was upheld. When Josh finally was able to get up and move around on his own for prolonged periods of time, she forbade him from taking long walks or going out on his own. She had to steal all of his shoes to enforce that rule.

Josh’s favorite nights were the very rare occasions when Donna could go off on her own with the assurance that someone else would keep Josh company. On one occasion CJ came over on her own and they talked late into the night. Her eyes were red from tears and his eyes stung by the end of the lengthy conversation that had taken them back to the memories of that night in Rosslyn. The couple of times that Toby dropped by were stiff and rather uncomfortably for about a half-hour and then they seemed to relax into a camaraderie that was difficult to find when Toby was involved. Charlie had even come over and brought his younger sister. They put on a tape and then talked quietly in the other room. Sam only made it over twice in addition to a few phone calls by November first. Leo was the one who stopped to check the most often—besides Donna, that is.

Sometimes they joked and sometimes all the pain and fear were visible on vulnerable expressions. Josh would say quietly, “Thank God the President is okay.” Leo would respond solemnly, “Thank God you’re alive.” And sometimes they talked about work and made plans—conversations that had to be hidden from Donna.

A few days before the Midterms, on a Saturday, Josh lay on the couch. He had given up on the TV and turned to the radio. He was thankful that CJ was letting him borrow her stereo that had a remote control so that he didn’t have to get up to futz with station changing. He cruised from station to station, disgusted by the amount of commercials and sick of news shows with pathetic reporters trying to sound “down-to-earth.”

Donna would stop by in the evening after she found out Sam had time to visit for a few hours. Josh had talked to Leo on the phone recently about how hard Sam was taking the Tom Jordan affair. Leo said Sam needed a break, and he hoped Josh could help the man unwind for a bit. Josh sighed and covered his eyes with his forearm. He wasn’t too sure about his abilities to help Sam out on the emotional level.

He heard movement at the door and carefully pushed himself up. His body ached more than usual today, probably from a restless night and his decision not to take the larger dose of pain relievers because he wanted to be coherent when Sam was around. Josh got up and moved to the door to open it. Sam looked pretty pathetic on the other side, shoulders slumped, lips pressed together grimly, and hands in his jacket pockets. Warily Josh waved a hand at his closet in invitation and walked back to the living room. Well, this was off to just a great start.

Josh moved the pillow he had been using earlier onto the back of the couch and sat at one end. He reached for the remote when it registered that the radio was still on, however bits and pieces of the program on the radio reached his ears and held him captivated. It was a morbid sort of trap listening to what seemed to be a call-in show. Callers were asking for all sorts of advice from a Dr. Jacobs, a woman who sounded confident and superior.

“…You need to inform your friend’s mother of the situation right away, Susan,” the doctor was saying, her voice cool and self-assured. “Homosexuality is an abomination and must be stopped at the first suggestion of such behavior or this unhealthy habit will take root and last into adulthood. If actions cannot be taken for your friend, you need to make your decision. Is she really the sort of person you want to associate with?”

The girl on the line, she sounded to be in her early teens, said a shaky thank-you. Josh felt his mouth curl into a scowl of distaste and shock. How could…How could anyone say such a thing? The next caller’s voice took a few moments to reach Josh’s ears.

“And…have these outrageous signs out and bumper stickers on their ol’ ‘hippie’ van.”

“What sort of signs, Michael?” Dr. Jacobs asked calmly. Josh felt as if ice had made its way into his bloodstream.

“Blasphemous things! Lord forgive me, but there’s such things calling God a woman and promoting abortions! Horrible, horrible things. Not only blasphemous, but downright unpatriotic!”

“The good thing is that you recognize this, Michael. Now, our country guarantees the freedom of speech but—“

The abrupt absence of Dr. Jacobs’ voice came like the finishing blow of a fist fight. Josh gulped in a lungful of air and rose a hand to press against his suddenly aching chest. He blinked in reaction to the burning sensation surrounding his eyes.

“Josh,” Sam said quietly, his hand coming to rest on his friend’s shoulder, “are you all right?”

Josh swallowed and began nodding his head. In a few moments he answered, “No,” in a broken voice. His eyes squeezed shut and he gasped, his body shaking in silent, dry sobs. He felt Sam lean in over the couch arm and offer his arms for a hug. Josh leaned against him desperately.

So much hate; so much useless hate. Hate that bread fear and anger and retaliation. He remembered Toby’s notes sitting in a messy pile on the kitchen counter and the phone calls where Toby had mostly rambled and Josh knew that he could only offer small sounds of agreement, but in the end it wouldn’t matter.

That first caller had been not been much more than a little girl. It had been three boys who had targeted the crowd at Rosslyn. It had been in high school where he learned to suppress those emotions that made him ache to touch his best friend—maybe even kiss him, see what his lips felt like.

“I’m so sorry,” Sam whispered against his hair.

Josh shook his head silently, still unable to speak. And what could he say? It wasn’t Sam’s fault or Toby’s or Charlie’s… People like Dr. Jacobs and Mary Marsh had it wrong, they were targeting the wrong people and the wrong things. Hate was the core of evil in the world and was the only evil. The God those people painted was monstrous and exclusive, the complete opposite of the God everyone was supposed to recognize—forgiving, loving.

“They don’t understand,” Josh finally said, his voice thick.

“No, no they don’t,” Sam murmured. Josh didn’t think that Sam really knew what he was talking about, but that was okay.

“Why is it that the good people are always smothered?”

Sam sighed and leaned his cheek on Josh’s head. “It is very hard to fight when we refuse to lower ourselves to their tactics,” he said quietly. “But there’s hope…” He pulled back enough that he could tilt Josh’s head back to look at him. “We’ve got one hell of a good man in the White House,” he whispered.

Josh closed his eyes and smiled. There was no arguing with that.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Sam’s head jerked towards the woman President Bartlet had just identified as Dr. Jenna Jacobs. He felt his teeth grind together as he forced himself to keep his mouth shut. It turned out that Bartlet spoke his mind better than Sam ever could have. He didn’t think he had ever felt as sure of Bartlet as he did at that moment. He had the insane urge to start cheering and applauding; instead he held back and allowed himself a small smile of pride. He couldn’t wait to tell Josh. He only wished Josh had been there to see it.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Josh sat back down and pulled his coat over his shoulders as Sam headed towards the group sitting on his steps.

“What do you have?” Toby asked.

“You’re not going to believe it,” Sam said dryly, his expression somewhere between disgusted and amused.

“How’d they go?” CJ encouraged.

Sam sighed. “Twelve races, in none of them did the incumbent win. In none of them, did the party that previously held the seat win. You know how it went? Seven to five.

Josh felt his jaw drop in astonishment. “You’re kidding.”

CJ was appalled. “Seven republicans and five democrats?”

“Yeah,” Sam agreed.

Josh shook his head. “The house stayed the same?”

They looked at one another. Josh snorted softly and scratched his jaw. “After four months and 400 million dollars, everything stayed the same.”

“Yup.” Sam pursed his lips, eyebrows raised.

Josh shook his head again and smiled wryly. “Tell me democracy doesn't have a sense of humor. We sit here, we drink this beer out here on the stoop, in violation of about 47 city ordinances. I don't know, Toby, it's election night. What do you say about a government that goes out of its way to protect even citizens that try to destroy it?” He waited, truly curious as to Toby’s response after weeks on end of pent-up anger and frustration.

“God bless America,” Toby said, raising his beer for a toast.

“God bless America,” Sam echoed after a moment. They had all been momentarily surprised.

CJ smiled and added her own “God bless America.”

Donna raised her bottle. “God bless America.” She looked to Josh.

He smiled at his friends and then glanced up at the night sky, perhaps searching for the presence that so many people believed observed the life of the human race. “God bless America,” he said.

Sam sat on a step level with Toby. He looked relaxed but distracted. Josh watched him silently, reveling in the comforting presence of his friends nearby and the distinct taste of fresh air. It would be time to return to work soon. He needed the preoccupation, it was too easy to slip into boredom and despair. Until he could get back, though, he would keep in mind the vision of President Bartlet taking on a stuck-up, self-declared “doctor” and striking her down with weapons of her own making; Bartlet was good at sharpening logic into a deadly blade.

Sam looked up suddenly and met his gaze. Josh felt the corners of his lips twitch upward. Yeah, Bartlet was the real thing all right. If there was one thing he had done right, it had been to go to New Hampshire all those years ago and listen to Governor Josiah Bartlet; the second thing would be that he went back to New York and recruited Sam.

“What’s next, boys?” CJ asked, casting an apologetic glance in Donna’s direction.

“We keep doing what we can for a damn good man,” Josh responded, never taking his gaze from Sam. The dark-haired man smiled softly and nodded his head in agreement.

Yeah. Time to move on.

~ * Fin * ~

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