CJ returns from a three week business trip to Angola and Namibia to find Josh and Sam not speaking to each other. This happens from time to time, particularly when she’s away for extended periods, or, worse, due for a mammogram. She wouldn’t be startled by it, except for the part where Gina picks her up from the airport and says, “They were going to get physical over the car keys, I’m pretty sure.”
CJ raises an eyebrow. “I talked to them two days ago.”
“That was a whole day before Sam decided to give his two weeks and sign on as counsel in the DoMA cases.”
CJ blinks, because yeah, Sam’s a little flighty and idealistic, but he usually at least discusses this stuff with them. Gina’s not done yet, though. “Which was another whole day before Sam received a few hundred threats of, among other things, bodily mutilation, in his email. And President Santos can’t do a damn thing once Sam’s no longer part of the federal government, which means his Secret Service protection has a two week expiration date.”
CJ swallows a wince. She needs to speak with Annabeth. She needs to...get the two of them speaking and figure out a game plan.
She takes a breath. “You know anybody you trust in private security?”
“Yup,” Gina says.
“I’m gonna need names and numbers.”
CJ has Gina drop her off at the White House, where she makes her way through security, chatting a little with the guards as they do the necessary checks now that she's technically a guest. Once through, she goes straight to Sam's office.
He looks up when she comes in the door and for a brief second his face lights up with happiness to have her back. Then he says, "I'm guessing Gina broke the news?"
CJ has thought up a million ways to start this conversation. The one she ends up going with is not her strongest: "Sam, even when you were a practicing lawyer, you were a transactional lawyer. And you hated it."
"Just, for the sake of clarity, we're talking about this because you and Josh are worried, not because we have ideological differences regarding separation of powers and whether the judiciary should really be making these decisions, right?"
CJ gives him her best seriously? expression. "Assuming either of us believes the government should have any say in anyone's sex lives? Yeah, Sam."
"So, basically, you think I should give into a heckler's veto?"
CJ is unimpressed. She might be the only non-lawyer between the three of them, but she can play with that ball any day of the week. "Don't First Amendment jargon me, Samuel. Between you and Josh you've gotten Santos to throw out Don't Ask Don't Tell and back off of litigating for DoMA. No small strides."
"This would be bigger," Sam points out.
"Yes," CJ agrees. "And as much faith as I have in your rhetorical skills, that will happen when the time has come, regardless of who gets on that stand. There's a reason Bowers and Lawrence are less than twenty years apart, Sam. History takes care of these things."
"I don't think that's what Martin Luther King sat around and said."
"Martin Luther King was shot, Sam. You're not some well-spoken-of civil rights litigator. You're someone who has worked in the White House for almost eleven years. It's a different kind of high profile and you know it. I'm not even sure if you're helping or harming by way of drawing attention to the politics behind the issue itself."
It's Sam's turn to use his for real? face. "Says the woman who has, on more than one occasion, visited Somalia, a region so destabilized there's no recognized government, and parts of South Africa with higher crime rates than most post-apocalyptic novels."
To CJ's surprise, he's led her right where she wants. She snaps, "I don't go in alone."
Sam opens his mouth. He closes it for a second, then laughs. "Walked into that one, didn't I?"
"Gina's gonna give me some names. Pick a couple and don't duck out from their supervision because it sounds like fun, and the only thing you'll hear from me from now until the case has been argued and decided is support."
Sam is quiet for a moment. "Throw in Josh and you've got a deal."
CJ sighs, but, "Yeah, I'll handle him."
"All right then."
CJ stands, because now she's got more work to do. Sam says, "CJ?"
CJ raises an eyebrow. He shrugs. "I had to. It was that or come out and…I don't get to make decisions for other people, you know?"
CJ digests that for a moment. "Did you even talk to him?"
"And put him in that position?" Sam counters.
She understands, but, "Yeah, Sam. Give him the benefit of the doubt. He's a big boy. If he needs to say no, he can always say no."
"Maybe next time," Sam says. The annoying thing about Sam is he pretty much always means what he says.
CJ closes her eyes for a moment. When she opens them, she says, "You guys are going to have some bitching opening and closing arguments."
Sam laughs. "Totally bitching."
Josh does not feel that Sam's acceptance of private security is enough. CJ argues logic for ten minutes before tilting her head and asking, "What's the other option, Josh? You want him to stop being Sam?"
Josh rubs a hand over his face and quiets down. After a moment he says, "I should've just pre-empted all this. Donna would have put together a lovely wedding, we could be the lead story in 'People' and 'Us' for a week and then Sam would feel out and proud and I'd just be worried about the same amount of crazy I always worry about."
CJ says slowly, "Not that I think you don't love us, but if you ever use a wedding ceremony to shift politics to your personal preference, we're both out of there. I will take Sam even if I have to tranq him to do it."
Josh glares at her. "That wasn't what I meant."
"Would you be this pissed if he was leaving to…I don't know, become a librarian?"
Josh's whole body tightens, but then he sighs, letting out the tension. "I'm not pissed. I know we don't talk about this, really, but Sam and I spent the better part of a year thinking we were going to lose you, and it was the worst year of my life. I don't want another eight or so months of that with Sam, while this thing is all over the news."
CJ tries to figure out what she's missing, because she can hear that worry isn't everything. When she does, she laughs. "Holy shit, you're jealous."
"No, being shot once was enough, thanks."
CJ rolls her eyes. "Of how far on the front-line he's going to be."
After a second Josh gives a little shrug. "Don't we all want to be young again?"
"Speak for yourself, I get better looking and smarter every year."
"You have a point," Josh admits.
"Josh." CJ takes a breath. "I beat the cancer. You survived the bullet. We put people, good people, on Sam, and we let him do what he needs to do."
"Yeah," Josh says, something hesitant in his voice.
"What? Did you guys call each other names, or something?"
"We might've both gone places we shouldn't have," Josh tells her.
"Well, then, that settles it. Both of you are coming to my place for dinner tonight. I really don't care if a pandemic breaks out and the west wing is ground zero."
Josh smiles a little. "Yes, ma'am."
The makeup sex is really fantastic. A week later, Sam meets with and hires an agency run by one of Gina's ex-Navy friends, and they stick a three person bodyguard rotation on him the second he's no longer under the auspices of the Secret Service. CJ, Josh and Sam sit down with the agency owner and the three and have a talk about rotating households—moving in together would have set off some pretty big alarms, so they just never had—and discretion.
They forward Sam's mail through a screening service and he changes his email. Life, as is its wont, goes on.
Sam comes back to her or Josh's place at night—well, when they can get him out of the library or off the conference call with whatever organization wants to put in an amicus, or out of the law offices—and is more present and energized than he's been in a while. CJ doesn't think he was depressed before, but she's noticing he wasn't exactly happy, either.
Josh sees it, too, she knows. He apologizes to Sam in tiny ways, like trying to make sure he's with the two of them when Sam has time off. Sam, she knows, tries to work around Josh's schedule as well. There's about a month where the three of them barely see each other at all, and Sam calls himself in sick the day after CJ's back from Washington state, where she was meeting with sponsors.
Josh comes over to her place sometime around lunch, bringing everything he possibly can home with him, and the three of them make a mess out of her living room with their respective work. When it gets dark, CJ orders some food in, and Josh says, "Can I be the one to suggest we all say 'fuck it' for the next ten hours or so?"
Sam smiles. "Someone's gotta be it. Tough job and all, but—"
CJ says, "Maybe when the trial's over we should go somewhere. A little bit off the map."
"Isn't that where you are every third month?" Josh asks.
She gives him her unimpressed smile. "Resort-ish and off the map."
"Do those two things happen at one time?" Sam questions.
"Your tendency toward literalness is only hot sometimes," CJ tells him gently.
Sam's expression turns mischievous. "Says you."
CJ's on a conference call when she hears her cell ringing. She left it in her office, but her office is only a couple of rooms over, and the building they rent leaves a lot to be desired in terms of sound-proofing. It's the ring of someone who's programmed in. She ignores it.
A minute later, Josh's ring sounds and she misses a question from one of the members of her board. Her phone rings a third time and she says, "I'm terribly sorry, can you excuse me for a minute?"
She doesn't wait to hear the answer. She runs to her office and picks up the phone. "This had better be an emergency."
"Sibley Memorial. I'm on my way there. Garry called me; he couldn't get hold of you." The words tumble out of Josh's mouth, but CJ is well-versed in Josh-panic.
She has the sudden sense that she's freezing. She makes herself breathe. Sam's fine, he's fine. She's moving toward the conference room to give her apologies even as she asks, "What did Garry say?"
Garry is one of Sam's bodyguards, but unless CJ's gotten confused, not the one who should be with him at this time, Margery should be. Josh says, "Margery triggered the alarm. Garry isn't sure what happened, just that they're both being transported to Sibley and at least one of the guys is in police custody."
CJ keeps the phone to her ear even as she explains to her callers, "I'm sorry. I'm having a family emergency and will have to reschedule a time when we can complete this. Again, my apologies."
She doesn't really remember getting a cab or the ride over, other than a vague sense of stay-calm, stay-calm, stay-calm. Josh is there when she arrives. Thankfully he's listed as Sam's next of kin, so they've been able to give him information.
She pulls him out of the hall and into the waiting room. "What's going on?"
"He's stable, they're going to let me see him in a few minutes. We'll switch out, I don't think they're really paying that much attention. He's not critical, evidently." Josh's entire body is tinged with relief. CJ wishes they could hug; she wants to put her arms around him. She wants to feel his chest against hers.
"What were his injuries?"
"Several knife wounds that had to be disinfected and sewn up."
CJ blinks. "Knife wounds?"
"The screening agency is going back through the letters to see if anything useful pops up. One of the guys is in custody, though. I think…I mean, I don't really plan attacks on other people out in my head," Josh runs a shaky hand over said head, "but I think the logic was that in the lunchtime rush, if they could do the damage quickly, it would be over and they'd be gone before anyone even knew anything was going on. Margery got in their way. She's in surgery, that's all they'll tell me."
CJ lifts an eyebrow. "Organized enough to try and pull off a public attack, but lacking so much intel they didn't notice Sam had people on him? That's…" She shakes her head. "Has anybody been called for Margery? Is there something we should do for her?"
"Pretty sure the hospital is doing that sort of thing," Josh says, but it's distracted, like he's not sure.
CJ doesn't like inaction. The cancer taught her hard-won patience, but she still struggles with having to wait something out without doing anything. "Josh, you should call Sam's mom. Someone's gonna leak his name if they haven't already, and I don't want her finding anything out from the five o'clock news, or whatever."
"Yeah," Josh agrees, swaying onto his toes. "After we've seen him, yeah."
Sam is more than a little dopey when CJ gets to see him. He smiles at her. "Hi."
She takes his hand in hers and says, "Only you could bring a gun to a knife fight and still come out for the worse."
He nods earnestly. "The knife thing is weird, right? I mean, it seems weird."
"Definitely weird," CJ agrees.
"Margery was a bad-ass," he tells her. "Is she—where is she?"
"She's in surgery, but her husband arrived a little while ago and they told him that it's looking good and she should be stabilized and out within the hour."
"I like Margery's husband," Sam confides. "I like Margery, too."
"Yeah," CJ says, swiping a thumb over the back of his hand. He mumbles something, but it's mostly lost, as he falls asleep even as he's trying to say it.
Sam is released within 24-hours. Josh has to be in a meeting with President Santos, so CJ picks him up. Once he's they're in the cab, she asks, "Where to?"
He shakes his head. "Wherever it's gonna be easiest for you guys."
She gives Josh's address, since it will make it easier for Josh to come home and she has everything she needs there. It's a slow process, getting Sam from the cab into the unit, and then from the door to the bed. He's clearly trying to be stoic about it, but his skin is a shade that reminds CJ of curdled milk and he can't help some of the whimpers that get past his lips.
Once he's horizontal, she kicks off her shoes and climbs in with him. Sleepily he asks, "Don't you have work?"
CJ pulls him close and doesn't bring up all the hours all of them took off of work when she'd needed the help. She kisses his forehead. "Something more pressing came up."
CJ's gotten up, made Sam eat something and take his pills, and set to working while he rests when Josh comes in the door. She says, "It's four in the afternoon."
"When the president tells you to go home, you do it," Josh says with a shrug.
She could kind of kiss President Santos. Josh asks, "How's he doing?"
"There's a lot of sleeping and he gets pretty uncomfortable about a half hour before he can take the pain meds, but he's keeping food down and there's not a fever, so I'm pretty sure his progress is as expected."
Josh is quiet for a moment and then, suddenly, in her space. She lets him in easily, the feeling of his lips against hers more comforting than sexual. He rests his forehead on her neck after a bit and asks, "How're you?"
CJ thinks about it. "Coming off the adrenaline high. You?"
"Like I should probably do some therapy for a bit."
CJ smiles at the honesty. "For now, wanna spend the rest of the day in bed, cuddling and spoiling Sam?"
He laughs a bit. "Lemme run to the store first for those stupid marshmallow cookies he likes. Need anything while I'm there?"
"Grab a bag of white rice and vanilla pudding. The meds are making him nauseated."
"Saltines and ginger ale it is," Josh nods.
CJ means it to sound flirtatious, but she suspects she just sounds earnest when she says, "Don't take long."
Sam wakes up from a restless sleep about an hour after Josh gets back, and it's clear he's uncomfortable, but he has a while before they can give him anything. Josh apologizes. Sam just leans into him and mumbles, "Hi, you're home."
"Observant," Josh teases.
Sam opens one eye to look at CJ. "Josh is being mean to me."
"Must be Tuesday," she says.
Sam snorts and then makes a sound of pain. When he's settled he asks, "Spoiling aside, can we get the I-told-you-so parade out of the way?"
Josh rolls his eyes. "Really? You think—"
"Well, there was that time—"
"You got wet, it was hardly the same—"
"I just know—"
CJ clears her throat. "Boys."
Both of them smile a little impishly. She suppresses the urge to kiss both of them silly. "The agency is going to draw up a new plan of protection. We might not like that we all take chances of a sort, but we do. Using knife wounds to prove our point would be tacky."
"And we are never tacky," Josh adds.
Sam looks at him. "If I didn't know how much it would hurt, I'd be laughing until I cried right now."
Josh smiles. "Raincheck."
Sam's responding smile is soft. He looks between the two of them and says, "Someone mentioned something about spoiling? It sounded good. Really good."