Sam comes to see him in the hospital, is sitting in the chair when Josh wakes up.
"Hey," Josh says, and Sam startles, gives him that look like he's a fragile and miraculous thing. Josh rolls his eyes. "Can you get that expression off your face?" he asks, shifting around a little bit beneath the sheets. In the hospital he's never comfortable, tubes everywhere, a perpetual ache in his chest cavity like someone shoved their icy hands inside him and rearranged all his parts. Which, come to think of it, is actually what happened. "You look like Donna."
That makes Sam smile but still he's ancient, exhausted around the eyes. Josh has the crazy thought that maybe he's been asleep for a hundred years, like Rip Van Winkle, like everyone's grown old without him. Flat on his back in the hospital, Josh has a lot of crazy thoughts.
Anyway, Sam smiles. "Not exactly like Donna, I hope."
"Well, no." Josh grins back, dry lips cracking. "You're a little prettier than she is."
"Just a little?"
They hang out, talk strategy, watch C-SPAN on the TV bolted to the ceiling in the corner of the room. Josh tries to concentrate--he's behind, he's already so behind and he wakes up in the middle of the night panicking about it, a keen bleating howl in his head--but he keeps getting tired, mind wandering. On the monitor his heartbeat skitters up and down.
Finally Sam gets up, tie loosened, suit rumpled. Josh thinks he would give his right arm to be wearing a suit. "I'm gonna go and let you sleep," Sam says, and Josh can't really explain why but the idea of Sam leaving freaks him out a little bit, sets off that clutching fear in his chest.
"You sure?" he asks, shooting for levity and landing somewhere around thirteen-year-old girl. "O'Reilly's coming on. We can throw medical supplies at the set."
Sam eyes him carefully, stops moving, one arm in the sleeve of his jacket. "You all right?" A pause, then: "I mean, gaping chest wound notwithstanding."
"What? Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. " Josh thinks of making a joke about sexy blonde nurses and sponge baths, or something, but it seems like a reach and anyway Josh's nurse is named Paul. He opens his mouth, closes it again. "Yeah."
"Would you tell me if you weren't?"
"Josh," Sam says, and just like that Josh's throat gets weirdly tight, like it would if he was going to cry, which he most definitely isn't--it's just that he's tired, and he doesn't sleep very well, and three years ago Sam walked out on half a million dollars a year because Josh showed up grinning in the rain, and here they are. Josh blinks twice, quick: men have been bucking up in this country for two hundred and twenty five years and so will he. He swallows, looks at the screen.
Sam is quiet, takes his coat off, sits back down. Josh exhales.
Also! scullyseviltwin, who is rad, wrote me fic for The Town. Amazing, evocative, and so worth a read.