Sunshine Days: Five Things That Never Happened To Sam Seaborn
by cgb

1. Can't Stay Inside All Day

It was two days after his tenth birthday. On that day Bobby Weldon's mom drove him home from school, which would have been okay, but Bobby's three year old sister spilt ice cream on her dress and she whined the whole way home. Bobby Weldon's sister was always whining about something and usually it didn't bother him but it did today and he thought maybe it was because he was older now. Small children whining always bothered grown-ups and he was more grown-up than he used to be.

Bobby's mom dropped him off on the kerb outside Sam's house. She said, "Tell your mother, we'll catch up next week." Bobby's mom sometimes came inside for coffee and brownies while he and Bobby hid from Bobby's sister in the tree house. Not today.

He walked the long driveway to the front door, his school bag dragging uncomfortably on his shoulder. As he got closer, he heard someone yelling. When he reached the door, he realised it was his mom.

She was swearing. He'd never heard his mother use language like that. Benjamin Weekey taught them all to swear when they were seven. They hid behind the boy's toilets and practiced cursing, knowing they'd be in no end of trouble if they were caught.

She was saying, "You goddamn son of a bitch! You stinking son of a bitch!" And then he heard a crash, and someone saying, "Mary - Mary put that down!" His father.

He turned the door handle slowly; his heart beating so hard he could feel it in his ears. His father shouldn't have been home from work at this time of the day. His father worked late most days, never came home before seven.

"How could you do this to me!" his mom was saying. "I gave up everything for you!"

Another crash. "Mary, the neighbours will call the police."

He walked along the hall, treading softly. He was scared and curious and desperately wanting to turn and run. Something made him go forward, one foot after the other. He'd never heard his parents yell at each other before.

"Mary! Mary your mother gave us the China!"

Crash! "Get your hands off me! Get your hands off me you son of a bitch!"

When he got to the kitchen the first thing he noticed was the broken crockery covering the floor. The second thing he noticed was his mother and father wrestling with the coffeepot.

His mother saw him first. "Sam!"

"Shit," his father said. He'd never heard his father swear before, either.

His mother grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him against her. "Tell your son!" she screamed. "Tell your son how you're leaving us!"

"God - Mary, Mary please." His father crouched down until he was at Sam's level. "Sam, why don't you go and play in your tree-house while mommy and daddy talk?"

"He's staying right here." His mother's fingers dug into his shoulders like claws. It hurt but he was too afraid to cry out. "Tell him about your whore!"

His father rubbed his face with his hands. He looked tired. He was dressed casually, not wearing his usual work suit.

He took Sam's hand. His palm felt sweaty. "I'm going to go away for a while, Sam."

Daddy often went away, but he always came back. "Will you be coming back?" His voice sounded small. Like Bobby Weldon's sister.


"Tell him," his mother said. "Tell him how you're leaving him."

Sam could feel tears stinging the corners of his eyes.

He didn't want to cry. Only babies cry. And he was ten years old, and he won the school spelling bee and he beat boys and girls who were older than him.

"Do you want to scar him for life, Mary? Do you want to ruin his childhood this way?"

"If he's scarred, it will be your fault," she said. "Don't you forget that."

His father shook his head. "I'm not coming back, Sam. But you can come visit me anytime you want. Anytime."

"Where are you going?" He really was crying now. His mother's grip on his shoulders wasn't so tight any more but it didn't matter because now he hurt all over.

"I'm going to live in Santa Monica."


"Mommy and Daddy don't love each other any more, Sam. But we'll always love you."

He knew what that meant - divorce. There was a girl in his class whose parents got divorced and now she had two daddies and two mommies and she spent her holidays in Denver with her dad and her new mom. She told them that her father had a whole new family.

"Are you getting a divorce?"

"Oh my god..." His mother started to cry. He edged backwards against her, his best attempt at comforting her.

His father didn't blink. "We both love you very much, Sam. We'll never stop loving you."

He didn't get it. If his father loved him why was he going away?

His father stood up again. Sam's mom was sobbing into Sam's hair.

"When you're older, you'll understand," his father said. And then he turned around and walked away, crunching broken crockery under his feet as he left.

Sam cried. He could see the tears falling like heavy raindrops on the linoleum, making "splat" sounds as they fell.

He was never going to understand. Not if he lived to be one hundred years old, he would never, never understand.


2. Everybody Seems So Happy

"Hey, Sam." Meredith is an Associate with Gage Whitney and Pace. She's helping Sam out with one of his larger clients, and she usually briefs him on her progress at the start of the day. Today she's carrying a newspaper, which she throws down on the desk in front of him. "Have you seen this?"

The headline reads "Oil Spill" and three lines down he reads the names "Indio" and "Kensington Oil".

"Shit," he says.

"I thought you'd find that interesting."

"I devised their liability shield."

"I know."

"This is a disaster."

"I know."

He looks at the newspaper again, gets past the first line to the location - Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. He's been there.

"Holy hell." He rubs his temple with both hands.

"They'll call," Meredith says. "I can take your meeting with Allens and Buking."

"Could you?" He reaches for the phone.

"Who are you calling?"

"Suicide Hotline."

She gives him a look as she leaves. He waves her away.

"Gina? It's Sam. Can you tell Mr Pace that I'm unwell and I'll be taking the rest of the day off? Tell him Meredith will take my meetings."

It's not entirely untrue. He really does feel ill.

He goes home and lies on the couch. He puts his hand to his forehead and stares at the ceiling. He thinks about providence. He thinks about lying on the beach in Portugal.

He falls asleep and awakes to find the apartment flooded with light.


He sits up. "Lisa? God - what time is it?"

She's standing by the door, hanging her coat on the rack and taking off her shoes. "It's just after eight - how long have you been lying there?" She goes into the kitchen.

"Since this afternoon - I wasn't feeling well."

She returns from the kitchen carrying two glasses of iced water. She hands one to him and sits in the sofa opposite. "Are you okay?"

"The Indio spilt oil just three miles off Rehoboth Beach."

She blinks. "Well that sounds terrible. Is it?"

"Worse than you think. Kensington Oil leases the Indio. I devised their liability shield."



"Shit, Sam. Does it bother you that you give these guys 'get out of jail free cards'?"

"Of course it bothers me." His voice is louder than it

needs to be.

She waves a hand. "I know - I'm sorry."

"The weird thing is," He looks at his hands. "I knew this would happen. I knew it at the time. I should have said something..."

"Like what?"

"Like 'don't do it'."

"Do you think that would have helped?" She puts her glass on the coffee table and proceeds to go through the mail. "I'm starving - have you had dinner?"

"I'm not hungry."

"Of course you are. I'll order something."

"I'm really not hungry."

She looks up from the mail. "Sam - you have to eat something."

"I really don't."

Lisa throws the mail on the coffee table without opening any of it. She clasps her hands on her knee and lets out a breath. For a moment, she looks away. "Sam - I'm going to the Hague."

"What? When?"

"Next week. I'm writing a story on Ken Lawrence - the war correspondent? He's been called to testify and he's going to refuse. They want me to be there when he does."

"How long will you be gone?"

"About five weeks."

He nods. "Okay."

"I'm sorry." She looks pained. "I know we were going to try to spend some more time together - but I'll take a week off when I get back, I promise."

"It's okay."

"Are you sure?"

"Lisa, it's fine. Go to the Hague. You'll probably win a Pulitzer or something." He thinks about the Hague. Even the name sounds existential. Having an existential crisis is so much more meaningful in Europe. In New York it's a luxury.

And a pain in the arse. New York doesn't have the patience for navel gazing.

Lisa gets up again and takes her glass into the kitchen. He can hear her pottering around, opening and closing drawers. There's never any food in their house so he assumes she's looking for a take-out menu.

She returns and holds up three menus. "Japanese, Lebanese or Morroccan?"

He shakes his head. "You decide."

She peruses the menus, casually. "Will you go to work tomorrow?"

He shrugs. "I don't know. Maybe I need a break."

"Sure. Take a break. Do something different." She grabs the phone from its cradle, punches in numbers and listens. "Write a book. You were always a fabulous writer."

"Konban wa," Lisa says into the phone. From the language Sam deduces she's settled on Japanese. She also speaks Russian and Swahili. She was a correspondent in Japan for two years. She's been everywhere and she's still going.

She hangs up and sits looking at him, the phone in her lap and a menu in her right hand. "Sam - what are you going to do with yourself?"

"You don't need to worry about me."

She gets up and comes toward him. A tuft of hair hangs over his eyes and she reaches out, smoothing it back against his forehead. "You could do anything, Sam," she says. "It's your downfall. Most of us do what we have to, but you can do whatever you want. The hard part is figuring out what that is."

He looks up and catches her eyes. "Are you ever sorry," he says. "That you married me?"

She pauses. It's only slight, but it's there. "No, of course not."

He doesn't say anything. She kisses the top of his head, picks up her shoes and goes into the bedroom.

He watches the wall for a while. He drinks his waters, leans back against the couch, and closes his eyes.


3. Everybody's laughing Now

"I want to do it on his desk," she says. She pushes files and notepaper aside. Pens fall to the floor. "I want to do it on his fucking desk!"

He closes the door behind him. His head swims and his knees feel tired.

Donnas takes him by the tie. She drags him to Josh's desk and kisses him as she leans back against the edge.

She tastes like whisky sour. Or maybe that's him? He can't remember how they got here.

Donna's got her hands under his shirt. He reciprocates by lifting her sweater and pressing his palm against her breast. She's smooth and silky and he realises that he really does want to fuck her, and maybe he has since they left the bar. Maybe this was his idea.

He lifts her ass onto the desk and pushes himself between her legs. They'll do it like this, then. If they are found out, it will be like this. He can't decide if it bothers him.

He fumbles with her panties and realises she's wearing skin toned hose, which he hadn't noticed before. He wrestles panties and hose to her feet and they fall, with her shoes, to the floor.

She loosens his belt, fumbles inside his pants and pulls his erection toward her. He's inside her faster than he can think up reasons not to do this and he's fucking her before he acknowledges that it's too late anyway.

"If only he could see us now," she says, and she's smiling, wickedly. He thinks maybe it turns her on and maybe it turns him on too, because suddenly he thrusting faster, crushing her breast against his palm and fingering her nipple with all the finesse of an inexperienced college kid.

He imagines Josh walking in, finding them, the shocked look on his face, the hurt and the betrayal.

He wonders if that would make it right.

Donna has one hand steadying herself on the desk and the other between her legs, stroking herself to orgasm. She's saying, "Oh god - yes, oh god..." and she closes her eyes. He wonders if she'll says his name, whether she'll say Josh's or Cliff's or whoever it is she's dating now.

He closes his eyes and thinks about Josh. Once again, he's imagining Josh finding them, only this time the look of betrayal turns to desire. He closes the door behind him, locks it, walks over to them and says in a low and measured voice, "Don't let me stop you."

He imagines Josh on the desk behind Donna, lifting her sweater over her head so he can paw her breasts from behind. He sees the look of lust in his eyes as he watches Sam's moving in and out of Donna. His hand reaches for Sam's neck and he pulls him closer, kissing him, hard and open.

Donna says, "Sam, oh god, Sam..." and he opens his eyes. Her mouth is open and she cries out. He turns his head instinctively toward the door but it's 3.00 in the morning and if the security guards have heard they know better than to come looking.

He closes his eyes, thinks of Josh again and comes, fingers digging into the flesh above Donna's ribs.

After, Donna straightens her skirt and laughs. "Oh my god - can you imagine if we were caught?" Her eyes are wide. Her pupils are dilated, shining with afterglow. She puts her shoes on without the hose and he thinks it's strangely sexy.

"Leo would fire our asses," he says.

"Right after Toby fired our asses."

"There'd be no end of people lining up to fire our asses." She grins. He unlocks the door. "And Josh would hate us."

He wonders who Josh would hate more. Probably him. Josh forgives Donna because Donna forgives him. Together they balance each other out.

Soft footfalls sound outside and they freeze. The sound retreats and they breathe again. Sam tries to smile reassuringly. "It wouldn't be him," he says.

"I know - he took Amy skiing in Vermont."

"I know."

Donna folds her arms across her chest and looks at the floor. He finds himself following her gaze and for a while that's all they have to say.

Eventually he unlocks the door and holds it open for her. "We should probably leave," he says. Can't stay here all night, not this time.

They call cabs and wait on the street together. She kisses him quickly, before she folds herself into the back of the first cab. He's going the other way - no reason to share. She pauses before closing the door. "I won't tell if you won't," she says.

"I won't tell."

He pats the roof of the cab before it drives off. The second cab pulls up and he gets in. When Josh comes back Sam will tell him he should be nicer to Donna, because there's not a lot she wouldnít do for him.


4. Everybody's Smiling Now

When they'd drunk all the wine and beer in the house, CJ kissed him quickly on the lips and told him she had to leave. She was drunk. Everyone was drunk. Toby got up after her and reached for his coat. Sam gave Donna a 'is that still going on?' look and Donna grinned and shook her head.

Josh claimed to know the words to every Bob Dylan song ever written. "Try me," he said to Donna.

"Promise me you won't sing," she said.

It was a house re-warming party, celebrating Sam's return to the capital and eventual return to the White House. It was also impromptu. He'd spoken to Josh on the phone only five hours earlier and Josh had invited whoever was in earshot.

Will brought Joe Quincy because they were "the new guys." Will leaned into Sam and confided that he liked going out with Joe because Joe drove Toby nuts. Joe was searching the kitchen for something to drink.

"I think I have Absolut in the wall cabinet," Sam said. "However, I think we're out of soda."

"Soda is for wusses," Joe said.

CJ and Toby left, while Donna was trying to persuade Josh not to sing. Unsuccessfully, as it turned out. Josh sang, "pistol shots ring out in the barroom night..." slurring his words in a poor impersonation of Bob Dylan.

Donna held up her glass. "Give me some of that Absolut."

Joe drank a glass straight and shuddered. "Ah. That's the stuff."

A bottle of Absolut and a round of Bob Dylan later, and Josh and Joe were asleep on the couch.

"They look so peaceful," Donna said. "Who do you think is prettier?"

"Josh," Will said.

"Joe," Sam said.

They all laughed.

"I guess you get the deciding vote," Will said to Donna.

"It doesn't really matter," Donna said. "It's Josh who will be hell in the morning if I don't get him to bed soon." She stood up and called a cab on her cell.

Sam leaned back in his chair and thought about everything being the way he left it. Everything except for Joe and Will, of course, but even they were more like re-runs than new episodes. Same people, same politics, same Sam.

"You'll be his boss," Will said, inclining his head toward Joe.


"He's a nice guy."

"He's a republican."

"So was Ainsley Hayes."

"Ainsley was..."

"A blonde sex kitten?" Will raised his eyebrows.

"I was going to say, 'a friend'."

"Joe will be your friend too."

"Yeah." All the same, all over again.

"Help me get him out of here," Donna said, indicating Josh.

Between the three of them they dragged Josh outside to wait for the cab. Josh woke up long enough to sing, "Ohhh Jokerman..." and then fell back to sleep with his head on Sam's shoulder.

The cab came and took Josh and Donna away and he and Will walked back to the house together. Instead of going back inside they sat on the porch and watched intermittent cars go by. It really was a quiet part of town.

"Are you looking forward to going back?" Will said.

"It's hard to say."

"You did the right thing you know."

Sam leaned his head to the side to get a better look at Will. "I didn't think I did the wrong thing."

Will shrugged. "You look like you have regrets."

"I guess I wanted to win."

"We wanted you to win too."

"I mean - of course I wanted to win, only I ended up doing things, saying things that weren't me because I wanted to win."

"In doing what we love we realise the best of ourselves and the worst."

"Maybe it's best that my political career was nipped in the bud."

"You'll make a comeback."

"You think?"

"Sure." Will nodded. He paused for a moment and said, "And I'll be there."

Sam blinked. It was a long evening and his head felt heavy. "You?"

"You were the best congressional race the 47th has seen in a long time. The party owes you. I owe you."

Sam sighed and folded his arms in front of him, leaning them on his knees. "You did more for the California 47th than I did. We need people like you, not people like me."

Will didn't reply. He was looking at the sky, his focus on something Sam couldn't see. It was starless night. Cloudy overhead, rain expected tomorrow. Or today as it now was.

Will gave up on the sky and turned his attention to Sam again. "Do you really think Joe is prettier than Josh?"

"Excuse me?"

Will smiled a beguiling smile. "I don't believe you do. I believe you were trying to mislead us."

"Why would you think that?" He couldn't keep the quiver out of his voice, the nervousness of dealing with a subject that was too personal to be taking up with someone he'd only ever had political associations with.

"I think you regard Josh in a way that he doesn't regard you. I think that it drives you crazy and I think you knew that would be an issue if you won the 47th."

He didn't blink. He kept his face impassive. "That's a pretty interesting theory you've got there."

"Sam..." Will looked him in the eyes. Looked him straight in the eye. "When we try again, when we win, it will be on your terms and I'm not talking about policy, and liberalism, I'm talking about who you are."

He wanted to say something; he wanted to deny it all. He'd been doing it for so long it was second nature to him.

Instead he said, "You think it can be done?"

Will smiled. He leaned in a little closer and said, "Trust me."And then he kissed Sam, a light, lingering kiss that tested the waters before diving in. He pulled back and Sam was left considering possibilities that had previously eluded him.

This made a lot of things very different.

"We should see how Joe is doing," Will said.

"Wait," Sam said. And he leaned in and kissed Will, harder this time. His hand reached for Will's neck and pulled him against him.

They fell apart eventually and Will stood up. "We'll call him a cab," he said, indicating inside where Joe was sleeping. His voice was shaky and it broke on 'cab.'

Sam's blood rushed to his ears. It was impulsive and insane, and just one more hit to the bow of his already sinking career was liable to make it go under.

Will Bailey, he thought, would be the ruin of him. "I hope you know what you're doing," he said.

Will stopped just inside the door. "Trust me," he said again. "I can make it rain."

Sam closed the door behind them.


5. It's a Sunshine Day

There's pizza and beer and one hundred napkins that CJ has stored under her desk for reasons no one understands. It's all spread out across Sam's desk and Sam is momentarily concerned that if his phone rings, he'll never be able to find it.

Josh pulls up a chair, reaches for a beer and yells, "Donna! Charlie! Get it while it's hot!"

CJ's desk is jammed up against Sam's. She leans over and surveys the pizza topping. "Which one has the extra anchovies?"

"None of them do," Josh says. "You need saving from yourself."

Sam looks at the closed door at the rear of the office. "Is Toby joining us?"

"He's on the phone, yelling at somebody," CJ says. "He'll join us when he gets hungry."

Sam fingers the nameplate on his desk while examining his beer. It's been a long week. The Law Center has funding problems which means Leo is out of the office, lobbying old friends who work in the better part of town.

His clients are the poor, helpless and sometimes hopeless natives of the nation's capital. It's a thankless job and most nights, Sam has trouble sleeping.

"I had this dream," he says suddenly.

"Was it dirty?" CJ says. She takes a swig from the beer.

"Was I in it?" Josh says.

"You were all in it. We were working in the White House and Leo was the Chief of Staff, and the Governor of New Hampshire was the President."

CJ screws up her nose. "Bartlet?"

"That's the one. And you were their Press Secretary."

"I was the Press Secretary?" She laughs. "What were you eating last night?"

"You'd be a great Press Secretary," Josh says. "You're funny and you're always getting us out of trouble."

"And how," CJ says, and she chinks her beer against Josh's in a miniature toast.

Josh leans forward on Sam's desk, his expression eager. "What was I?"

"You were Leo's deputy."

"What did I do?"

"I'm not sure."

Josh nods. "No one really knows what those guys do."

"But get this," Sam says. "Abbey was married to the President."

"Abbey from Welfare?" CJ says, eyebrows raised.


"It could happen - the Governor of New Hampshire is a widower," Josh says.

"What could happen?" Donna and Charlie come in from reception. Donna carries faxes. She hands one to Sam and one to CJ. "Your court date's been moved again. I called the client."

"Great." CJ puts a hand to her forehead. "I think I have a fever..."

"Sam dreamt that CJ and I worked in the White House," Josh says, passing beers to Donna and Charlie. "The Governor of New Hampshire was the President and he was married to Abbey from Welfare."

"No way! Was I in it?"

"You were," Sam says. "You were Josh's assistant. He ordered you around - a lot."

"I don't even get a break in your dreams," Donna says, and she throws up her hands. "Why can't I be having sex with Matthew Perry?"

"There was no sex in this dream," Sam says. "No wait - Charlie was having sex with the President's daughter."

"Hot damn!" Charlie says, and he high-fives Josh. "Wait - was she fine?"

"She was fine."

"Hot damn." Charlie high-fives Josh again. "And where were you when I was making sweet love to the President's daughter?"

"It was implied - there were no visuals."

"Okay then." Charlie takes a slice of pizza and puts his feet up on CJ's desk.

"Hey stud-boy, get your feet off my desk," CJ says.

"There are no perks to this job," Charlie says.

"You volunteer," CJ says.

"Don't I know it. And I am out of here when I graduate."

"No you're not." Donna leans over Sam's desk and takes a slice of pizza and a napkin from CJ's endless reserve. "You love it here. Why else would you be here after eight on a Friday night?"

"Free pizza and beer," Charlie says, and he raises his beer in the air to accentuate his point. Donna mouths 'ha' at him.

Toby finally comes out of his office, slamming the door behind him.

"Friendly phone call?" CJ asks.

"Give me a beer."

She hands him a beer. "I take it the DA isn't going to budge."

"Wilson is a repeat offender, and the DA is going tough on drugs. He wants to make a point."

There's a chorus of signs and groans and Sam shakes his head.

"Now if we worked in the White House, none of this shit would happen," Charlie says.

"Damn straight," CJ says.

Toby looks confused. He eyes them all suspiciously. "What in god's name are you talking about?"

"Sam had a dream," CJ says.

"We worked in the White House," Josh says.

"I was doing the President's daughter," Charlie says.

"I was doing nobody," Donna says.

"You people are crazy," Toby says.

"Was Toby in it?" CJ asks.

"Yeah," Sam says. "Toby was the Communications Director."

There's a pause and then CJ explodes with laughter. "Well obviously!" she says.

Josh laughs and helps himself to another slice of pizza. Toby takes a seat next to CJ and tries not to look pissed.

"So what did you do, Sam?" Donna asks.

"Believe it or not, I was Deputy Communications Director." He grins sheepishly at Toby. CJ laughs even harder.

"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Toby says. "Why can't you dream about flying like normal people?"

"It's a great dream," CJ says. She pats Sam on the hand, indulgently. "I bet we did great work, right?"

Josh smacks his hand to his forehead. "God - tell me we weren't Republicans?"

Everyone laughs.

Sam tries to remember his dream. He remembers faces and feelings and words spoken with conviction. It felt good. It felt purposeful.

"We weren't Republicans," Sam says.

Donna leans over to CJ's desk and switches the radio on. Missy Elliot sings, "Let me work it," and Donna gets to her feet and starts to dance, still holding her beer.

Charlie joins her and they move in time with the music and each other.

"Dance with me, Josh," Donna says. And she takes Josh's hands and drags him to the designated dance space. Josh can't dance the way Donna and Charlie can, but what he lacks in style her makes up for in entertainment value. He puts his hands above his head and shakes his hips. Charlie groans and Donna cheers.

"You're a very strange man," Toby says to Sam. "I can't believe I hired you."

"It's just a dream," Sam says. "And you didn't hire me, Leo did."

CJ nods "It was Leo. And it was a good dream, Sam. It makes a lot of sense."

"How do you mean?"

"Well," she leans an elbow on the back of Toby's chair and pauses to think. "I guess you get frustrated sometimes, working here. We try hard and we're committed but there's so much that's out of our control. It's no surprise you dreamed of being able to changes things - of being someone who had the power to make things better."

Sam lets the words sink in, and then he smiles. Maybe there's truth in that. Maybe not. "It was just a dream."

CJ slaps him on the arm. "Go dance, white boy."

Sam gets to his feet, and mimics Josh's dance moves, eliciting more groans from Charlie and more cheering from Donna.

The days are long and the pay is terrible, but it's nine o'clock on a Friday night and they're still here.


Silverlake: Authors / Mediums / Titles / Links / List / About / Updates / Silverlake Remix