Chapters: 001 Word Count: 1206
Character(s): Josh Lyman, Donna Moss, Jed Bartlet
Category(ies): Missing Scene
Episode(s): 6-10 Faith Based Initiative
Crossover Shows: - No Show -
Summary: Josh quits to work for Santos
He stood, looking at this man. This man, who was physically at his worst, who had already lost his deputy communications director twice, his executive secretary, his body man, his chief of staff, and in turn his press secretary, who had only one more year to carve out his place among the presidents before him and the presidents to come, and who was now being reduced to six- hour work days. He looked at him, then at the ground, then back at him and he said the words. He looked directly at the President, and he resigned.
And the man, the great man before him, nodded and smiled a small, sad smile. “I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve been expecting this… for a while,” he said.
“Sir, this doesn’t have anything to do with…”
“I know,” he said interrupting him, holding a hand up. He let the room fall silent for several seconds before continuing quietly. “Leo didn’t recommend you; did you know that?”
Josh paused. “No,” he replied hoarsely, hurt evidenced in his voice.
“When I asked him for a name, he only gave me CJ’s. I asked him why, and he said you’d be leaving soon to find a candidate.”
Josh looked at the older man with confusion on his face. “I hadn’t… I wasn’t considering…”
The President smiled. “Well, I’ve learned that Leo knows things before most.”
Finally, Josh allowed himself a small smile. “Yes, Sir.”
“So, Santos. He’s from Texas, right?” the President asked, motioning for Josh to sit down.
Josh nodded and sat in the chair across from him. “Yes, Sir.”
“You think he’s a good man?” The President asked.
“I wouldn’t work for him if I didn’t, Sir,” Josh said, looking him straight in the eye, hoping he would get the deeper meaning. The President smiled slightly and nodded.
“You know Josh, I’ve been hard on you. Too hard sometimes,” said the President.
Josh shook his head. “Sometimes I needed you to be hard.”
The President laughed quietly. “Maybe, and sometimes it’s easier to see what people can do for you than it is to see all they’ve already done. But I know what you did, and I’ve never thanked you for it.”
“I’ve served at the pleasure of the President. There’s no need for thanks.”
“Not for your hard work, although I do and you know that. I’m talking about the sacrifices you’ve made to serve me.”
The room went quiet. “We’ve all made sacrifices, Sir.”
The older man nodded. “Two gun shot wounds, a car bombing, a kidnapping, a divorce, a heart attack… We’ve lost…” he took a deep breath. “Fitzwallace, Deloris Landingham, two secret service agents, soldiers…” he stopped and looked to his right, towards the door where Mrs. Landingham entered everyday for years. Sometimes he still expected her to walk in and yell at him for getting behind schedule.
“But you Josh, you’ve sacrificed in a different way.” Josh tilted his head slightly. “You’ve given up love.”
Josh chuckled. “Look around Sir. Toby, CJ, Will, Ed, Larry, myself… we’re all single. We’ve all made that sacrifice.”
“True, but the others didn’t look it in the eye every…”
“Sir,” Josh interrupted, standing up.
He looked at him, wondering exactly how far was too far. “Ok,” he said nodding. Finally, he held his hand out and Josh shook it. “You’ll understand if I stay seated.”
Josh smiled. “Yes, Sir. It’s been a pleasure.”
“Yes it has. If you’re unemployed come May, and I don’t think you will be, there’ll be a place for you here. We’d love you to finish the term with us.”
“Thank you, Sir. I appreciate that,” he said, and turned to leave. He got to the door and opened it, and just as he was about to leave, the President spoke again.
“You know Josh, when Mrs. Landingham died, I thought she left me. I… there were times that I blamed her. That I outright accused her of deserting me.”
Josh stood quietly, holding onto the doorknob staring at the President, and after a few seconds, he continued very quietly.
“I… when she…I couldn’t believe that she would leave me when I still had so much to do. That she didn’t stay to help me do those things. That she didn’t know that what I was doing was more important than her going off and dying on me. How could she leave me when there was still so much to do? When I needed her so badly sitting at that desk? Didn’t she know how valuable she was to me? Did she think she could just walk out of that office and never come back and things would just go on? That I could do this as well without her here?”
“That I’d even want to?” Josh said, hoarsely.
The President looked up at him and nodded. “Didn’t she owe me more than that?”
“Didn’t she know how much I needed her?”
“That I’d never be able to replace her?”
“That I’d never want to,” Josh whispered.
The President smiled. “It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that she didn’t really have a choice.” He let that hang there for a minute and then added, “Did she?”
“No,” Josh said quietly, shaking his head, and both knew he wasn’t talking about Mrs. Landingham.
“To realize that she would never really leave me. That her leaving didn’t mean that she didn’t care about me just as much as I did her.”
“What if it did?” Josh asked, tears brimming in his eyes. “What if it did mean that?”
“Ahh…that’s bullshit. It didn’t mean that.”
“Anyway,” he said, waiving his hand dismissively. ”I just… I missed her and I needed someone to blame, and she seemed like the easiest target. Of course,” he said, chuckling, “sometimes you were the easiest target.”
“Keep me updated on this Santos guy, Josh. You’ll tell me who I should vote for come next November?”
“Yes Sir.” He turned and started to leave, but then stopped again. “I didn’t give it up.”
He looked back at the President. “You said I looked love in the eye everyday and gave it up. I haven’t given up, Sir. Not on that, not on her… not ever.”
“Even though she left you?” he asked with a smile.
Josh nodded. “She didn’t leave me, Sir. She just left the job.”
“I hear she’s working for the opposition. That’s probably a conflict of interest.”
Josh smiled back, dimples out. “Yeah, well… I figure come May she’ll be working for the outgoing Vice-President and I’ll be working for the democratic presidential nominee. No more conflict of interest.”
“Pretty sure of yourself, aren’t you?”
Josh just shrugged. “I have some experience getting the long shot elected.”
The President nodded. “That you do, Josh. That you do.”