Up Against The Wall
Character(s): Josh, Donna
Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm just running with the story and filling in the blanks for the summer. This officially lives in Speculationville.
Summary/Spoiler: Small spoilers for '25', otherwise, wild speculation.
Author's Note: This one goes out to Sharon, who very nicely demanded it- :) and for everyone else who said, "No!!! You can't leave it there!!!"
The following quotes apply to this story in one way or another in various places, for various reasons, and were and have been insiprational to me. I ll let you guys figure out where and why.
"When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about the step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: there will be something to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly." -Barbara Johnson
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is." -Albert Einstein
"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. -Harriet Beecher Stowe
"True hope dwells on the possible, even when life seems to be a plot written by someone who wants to see how much adversity we can overcome. True hope responds to the real world, to real life; it is an active effort." -Walter Anderson
"Each difficult moment has the potential to open my eyes and open my heart." -Myla Kabat-Zinn
"Whatever does not destroy me makes me stronger." -Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
"Once again, the world was spinning in greased grooves." John Steinbeck
Josh just came back to his office, looking as bad as I have seen him since that Christmas two years ago. I was sitting behind his desk, away from the noise and air of anxiety and tension in the bullpen, when he walked in. He closed the door slowly, and with the kind of precision and care that suggested what he really wanted to do was slam the thing off its hinges. When he turned around, he closed his eyes for a second, leaning against the door. After a moment, he opened his eyes and looked at me. A moment of understanding passed between us, and I got up and walked over to him. We didn't touch each other or speak, but communicated in our own way with one another. Finally, I had to speak- had to say something, because the air around us was so thick with emotion I felt I had to make some stab at returning us to normalcy.
"Is it done?" I asked, knowing that he'd just come from the Oval Office.
"Yeah," he responded, his voice choked- barely more than a whisper.
I looked down, away from the raw emotion in Josh's eyes. I couldn't see that I had to have a moment... a moment to myself before I could look back into his eyes and assure him that everything would be all right. That the President would be all right- that Zoey would come back safe. I needed a brief second to remind myself that I believed in faith and hope, that no matter what I would not, nor would I allow Josh to, give in to despair. When I looked back into his deep brown eyes, I was a bit surprised to see that there was concern in them for me. With everything else that had happened, he still had room to worry about me.
"It'll be okay," he said, his voice shaking a little as he pulled me into his arms.
"I think that was supposed to be my line," I said, my voice muffled against his shirt-front.
"You can remind me later- when I forget- but for now we'll do this together We'll take care of each other. It doesn't always have to be you. It's not fair and I don't want you to always be the one..."
He trailed off as he gave me one last reassuring hug before pulling slightly away.
"Together. All of us," I took a deep reaffirming breath, then asked, Speaking of- how are the others?"
"Okay, I think. Managing anyway. Apart from the President and the First Lady I'm worried about Leo more than anyone."
"Why?" I asked.Leo always seemed invincible to me- able to weather and withstand anything.
"I don't know... the look on his face when the President left the Oval and the Speaker was sworn in. He looked like I felt when..."
"When what?" I asked, although I almost didn't want to hear his answer.
"How I felt when they told me Joanie died," he replied, his voice barely above a whisper.
I didn't think it was possible for me to feel worse than I did until that very moment. Of all the times for Josh to have to deal with that particular memory, this was the worst. The fact that I had prompted him into saying it out loud made me feel despicable.
"No. Don't. You didn't do anything wrong. It was already there. The fact that you understand makes it easier. Don't ask me why, but it does," he said taking my hand for a brief moment.
"Okay," I replied with a shaky smile, deciding to shelve the guilt I still felt for the moment. I decided the best thing to do was move past the personal and emotional and onto the practical and professional. " What do we need to do now?"
"I think you should go home and get some sleep-"
"Are you?" I asked with a pointed look. I already knew the answer, and he knew it.
"I'm...uh, I'm going to catch a little sleep soon, but I want to be around in case..."
"I'll sleep when you sleep, and since we both know that's not going to happen any time soon, we might as well do something productive. Has there been any contact since the fax?"
"No, but it hasn't been that long," he said slumping into his chair and raking his hands through his hair. When he looked up again, he had an odd, and slightly tender look on his face. " Did you know that Toby and Andi named their little girl Molly?"
"Yes. I thought it was a beautiful gesture. It's a lovely name."
"It's odd to think of Toby as a father. You know what I mean?"
"Kind of. But I think he felt sort of the same way. Until it happened, that is.Then it wasn't an idea anymore. It just was. They were real, and so was what he felt."
Josh looked up at me, slightly confused, then he nodded with a trace of a smile on his lips.
"Yeah, I guess a lot of things are like that. You can't imagine how you'll deal with this totally unexpected thing that happens to you. I mean you understand that it's happening, but only on an intellectual level. You think about it, and toss it around in your head. You worry over it until you've created all these problems and anxieties, but when it's right there in front of you, it all becomes so simple. It's no longer something you need to think about- it just is."
As he spoke, I thought about the conversation I had with Amy earlier in the evening. I thought about the question she had asked, and the thoughts and feelings it had provoked. The strangest part of that conversation was the realization that I had come to. The constant act of trying to sublimate, circumvent and outright hide the feelings I had for Josh had been an exercise in futility. It had done nothing more than postpone the inevitable. I felt the way I felt, and I was beginning to believe that Josh might have similar feelings. I was also beginning to wonder if others had noticed the same thing Amy had noticed, and had simply not commented on it. Or maybe Amy had reached her conclusion because she still had feelings for Josh and one woman instinctively recognizes an emotional adversary when she sees one.
Whatever the reason, it was out there. The question had been asked. It had been pushed aside in the tide of everything else that had happened that night, but it would be back. There was no more room to run from it, and to be honest, I really didn't want to. Not anymore.
"You okay? For a minute I thought you'd actually managed to fall asleep with your eyes open."
"No...sorry. I was just thinking about something."
"Anything you care to share?"
I thought about that for a second before shaking my head, " No- not right now, anyway. Later, I promise."
"Okay. I'll hold you to that."
"Good. I'm counting on it," I said, and started to walk back out to the bullpen. " I'm going to check the wires, then check in with CJ. Okay?"
"Sure. Then go sack out somewhere. At least for a few hours."
When he saw that I was about to argue with him, he forestalled me with his next words, " I'm going to check in with Leo one more time, then I'm going to do the same. I promise."
"See that you do."
He smiled ruefully at my warning, and I knew that eventually he would do as I instructed. He would, of course, see to Leo first. I knew that. Josh would never put his own comfort before the needs of someone he cared about- particularly at a time like this. It was funny sometimes how certain members of our group never doubted the loyalty and support we either gave or received from each other. It was, in its own way, a testimony to the deep love and respect we had for each other- each defined in its own individual way.
Yes... Josh would see to Leo, Leo would see to the President, I would see to Josh, and in time we would see to each other. This was a fact beyond question - it simply was.
Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
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