Breathing As Art
Summary: Sam's forgotten how to breathe.
Sam's forgotten how to breathe. It takes gentle reminders from everyone, to get him to inhale. Exhale.
Leo does it in the middle of an argument about proposed new tariffs, and their effect on the poor.
CJ does it with a hand resting gracefully on his shoulder after a near-disastrous Q & A with a contingent from the Mexican press.
Bonnie does it when he drops a cup of coffee directly into her purse, which is open on her desk when he fumbles with a file.
Josh does it when Sam's mind is swimming through a sea of stars near the ceiling above his bed.
He's heard it so often, he's ceased to register who's saying it, and they've ceased to keep track.
"This goddamned thing has legs, now; what did I say?!" Sam rails at the television in his office. The volume is up, and the picture is wavy through his rage. "It's got legs, and it's running all over the place - "
"Sam, take a breath," Toby cajoles gently.
" - and we're gonna be playing catch-up for a week." Sam slams down the remote, twirls around once in the same spot. "Catching up to something I said we should have been paying attention to for days," he grumbles.
Deep furrows crease Toby's forehead, color rising to the exposed portion of his cheeks. "You were right, you were right," he admits weakly. Moving his palm over his head, smoothing the thick waves of dark hair he still forgets have long since found their way down the drain of his shower, Toby follows his deputy's jerky movements in front of the tv. "God knows I hate to ever admit to something so.... painful. But you were right. Now, take a breath, and show me what you've got."
Sam stutters to a stop and shoots a startled look to his boss. "What I've got?" He sounds incredulous, but remembers to breathe. He looks down at his hands, as if expecting to find a precisely typed, logically organized, eloquently worded brief there. He sees white-out stains and a few ragged cuticles. "What would I got?" he asks illogically.
It's Toby's turn to stare, a little anxiously. "Your position, Sam. Let me see what you've got so we can start working on getting it out there." His weight shifts, impatience flowing from foot to foot.
It takes a moment for Sam to get it. But first he's reminded once more to inhale. "I don't have a damn thing, Toby. You told me not to waste one more minute on it."
Toby staggers back an inch. "You, you obsessed and kvetched for two days about this, and you never took it anywhere?!" he yells. "What the hell were you doing all that time?!"
"I was trying to get someone to believe me, when I said this was for real. That's what I was doing," Sam snarls before dropping into his chair. Struggling against the urge to look back up at the shocked expression on Toby's face, Sam dismisses him with a terse wave of the hand. "Leave me alone for an hour." His holler for Bonnie beats Toby out the door by a millisecond.
"I'm brilliant, aren't I?" Sam asks huskily, leaning over Toby's shoulder. "I'm much smarter than you thought."
With a mildly annoyed, but ultimately amused expression, Toby bullies Sam back to the sofa. He skims over the three page document in his hand, eyes dodging through the expository passages until he comes to the meat of the matter, and allows himself to sink in. "Okay, okay," he mumbles, reaching for a slim, red marker. "Good, that's...." He uncaps it with his teeth, spits the top onto his desk, and risks a glace at Sam, who is examining his own tie.
Ten minutes later, the pages scattered, yet unmarked across his desk, Toby leaves his seat and pulls a chair in front of Sam. Who is bending a paperclip back and forth compulsively.
"So. This is.... this is what you were trying to tell us?" Toby asks, gesturing behind him to his desk, to the sheets of paper strewn there.
A raised eyebrow animates Sam's face. "Trying." The paperclip snaps in two.
"Well, you could have just, I don't know, told me. You didn't have to run around like Chicken Little, Sam. Maybe if there were less hysterics, and more of that." He motions behind himself again. "Bold; concise; articulate; thorough - "
"Not a problem. From now on I'll type out all my concerns, and submit them in triplicate." Sam's eyes sweep across the room, and he doesn't need to be told to take a breath. "So, give me your revisions, and I'll have it back for you in - "
"Nope." With that, Toby springs to his feet and goes back to his desk. "Not a thing to change. As it turns out, you are smarter than I thought." He gathers up the pages and, after tapping them gently against his desk, hands them out to a rising Sam. "Take it to Leo. I'll start making the calls."
Sam exhales valiantly, and ambles out the door.
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