Author: Ozzyols PM
Set between Season 7's Election Day 2 Requiem.Something we pass on.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Tragedy - Josh L. & Donna M. - Words: 2,648 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 5 - Published: 08-13-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3103162
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Character(s): Josh, Mallory, Donna
Summary: Something we pass on
Spoiler: Between Election Day II and Requiem
Disclaimers: I own nothing… but will be in awe of everything…
Authors Note: This idea came from a comment in passing from one of the many lists I belong to. It was suggested that the watch that Josh puts on at the beginning of Requiem may have been the same watch that was on Leo's bedstand in ED2… I ran with the idea. Also… I am not sure if a coroner would be able to do what I have him doing here, considering the time frame… but it's fiction… (PS 'Paul' is just the name that I have given Mallory's other half because I don't think he has ever been mentioned before.)
It was 5pm on Wednesday afternoon and Josh was finally ready for bed. Not that it was his idea really… he was only doing it to get Lou and Donna off his back.
His brain just wouldn't shut down. He knew he needed sleep. His body was screaming for it. It had been Donna who had finally reminded him that he hadn't slept since Sunday.
Josh had quietly pointed out that he'd gotten a little sleep on Monday night… "after the… y'know… thing…"
"It's called sex, Joshua," came Donna's acerbic reply, "and you can't call what you did that night sleeping either. Do you normally fidget that much?"
Josh had wanted to defend himself, but fatigue seemed to have stripped him of the power of speech.
The last twenty hours had ripped him apart and he was still struggling to pull the pieces back together. He was finally ready to admit it; he was bone weary. Bone weary and heart sick
How was it possible to have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows hit you all at once? What universal joke had started him on this psycho-metaphysical-drug-trip in the first place?
They had won, yet they had lost… he had lost… His moment of greatest triumph had been tainted by a moment of soul wrenching pain.
He had helped make Matthew Santos the next president of the United States, and had assumed that Leo would be standing at his side – Vice President-Elect Leo McGarry. But it wasn't to be… and Josh didn't know how he was going to do this without him. He sighed and rubbed his eyes. How often had his mother told him what 'assume' really meant..?
"It makes an Ass out of You and Me." He could hear her voice ringing in his ears.
Josh snorted to himself as the elevator door closed and started its steady climb up to his floor. He leaned back against the panel, trying to listen to the beating of his heart. The trick had served him well enough for six years… tonight would be no different. He could still hear the music floating up from the ballroom below, fading as the elevator rose higher. Twelve hours later and they were still partying, an endless flow of Democratic well-wishers pounding on the doors to add their mildly sycophantic congratulations.
Josh was sick of it – totally sick of it. They had won, but it had been a hollow victory – for him at least. The cost had been too high. As the music faded and the beat of his heart grew stronger in the silence, Josh slowed his breathing down to a steady rhythm, finding that he was actually looking forward to getting some sleep. Go figure… it was probably the first time in what?… two years?… that he was going to be getting proper sleep before two am, not some fifteen minute catnap collapse at his desk.
The elevator pinged to a halt and the doors slid silently open. With supreme effort, Josh pushed himself away from the wall and stepped out into the hallway.
Blinking to clear his sleep-blurred vision, he saw a lone figure standing outside his door. Of course. Donna. She would be checking up on him. Josh smiled.
"Hanging around people's doors could be seen as suspicious," he joked as he sauntered up to her.
"Where have you been?" she demanded.
"Well, I'm touched by your concern."
"You said you were going to bed!"
"Came to tuck me in, did you?" His lips curled into a sardonic smile. "Kiss my forehead?"
Her eyes narrowed dangerously, but he pushed his luck anyway.
"Of course I can think of better places for you to kiss if you'd like."
She reached forward, grabbed his key card from his hand and opened the door.
"You… bed… now…"
Josh's eyes twinkled.
"Don't even think about saying it," Donna threatened. "The only action you're getting tonight, mister, will involve snoring and possibly drooling into your pillow!"
She followed him inside.
"Then what are you doing in my room?"
"Making sure you get to bed!"
"I'm not a kid, Donna," Josh snapped with more heat than he had intended as he sat down heavily on the end of the bed.
"I know you're not, Josh," Donna sat down next to him, her voice taking on that low, gentle tone that always seemed to calm him down. "But I know you…" she ran her hand gently down the side of his face.
There was a knock at the door that they had only semi closed behind them and Mallory stuck her head in.
"Josh? I…?" her voice trailed off as she saw Josh and Donna. "I'm sorry… I didn't mean to intrude…" Her eyes flickered from Josh to Donna and back again.
"It's OK, Mal… come in…" Josh smiled tentatively as he hoisted himself up again and took a couple of steps toward her.
Mallory hesitated for a second before stepping fully around the door and into the room.
"Am I interrupting something?" she asked.
Josh and Donna exchanged looks.
An eerie silence settled over them all for a moment, and Josh used the opportunity to take a good look at Mallory, noticing how pale and drawn she was. He ran his hand over his face and sighed. He probably didn't look much better. The last twenty four hours had been a nightmare; in fact the day had turned out to be a… well… a killer… Josh felt his throat tighten again at the thought. He swallowed hard; hard enough for Donna to hear it apparently, because he caught her turning to look at him out of the corner of his eye.
"Um… was there something you needed, Mal?" Josh asked.
She smiled sadly. "Actually, I just came to give you something before I left."
"You're leaving?" Donna and Josh said in unison.
Mallory blinked back the tears in her eyes and lowered her head slightly.
"Yes. We…" she coughed and drew a shaky breath. "We're taking … Dad's… Dad… back to DC tomorrow morning. The Coroner's been kind enough to push through the paperwork, so the funeral should be on Friday." She pushed some of her auburn hair back behind her ear. "Josh… I'd like you to be one of the pallbearers. Paul's offered, of course, but I don't really know who else to ask… do you think you could…?" her voice tailed off as tears threatened to break through her already tenuous self-control.
Even without the pleading look in Mallory's eyes Josh would have said yes without hesitation.
"Of course I will Mal," he said softly, "I'd be honored. And I'll take care of the rest – don't worry about it."
"Anything, anytime Mal, you know that."
"I also wanted to give you… this…" She held out a small black pouch.
"What is it?" he replied as he took it, pouring the contents out into his other hand.
As the item dropped into his palm with a metallic clink, Josh's eyes filled instantly, blurring his vision.
"Mal… I… I… can't!" Josh stammered, words failing him.
"He would want you to have it, Josh. Please."
He stood there silently for several seconds, his thumb rubbing back and forth across the glass of Leo's watch. It was a good, solid, comfortingly heavy watch – an Omega. The sheen of the metal was slightly dulled with age; this was a watch that had seen a lot of use. It felt cool and smooth in his hand.
This had been on Leo's wrist not two days ago. He had seen it in Leo's hotel room down the corridor only yesterday afternoon, sitting on the night stand. He couldn't accept it.
"Mal, you should give this to Paul, or your cousin… There's gotta be other people who deserve…" his voice started to crack.
Mallory reached over and grasped Josh's upturned hand holding the watch at the exact same time that Donna placed her hand lightly on his shoulder.
"There is no-one my Dad would want to have this more than you, Josh. No one." Mallory replied, her own voice husky.
Josh looked up and straight into Mallory's eyes, which were brimming with tears. A querulous smile flicked at the corners of her mouth.
"You know why Dad would want you to have it?" she asked, the smile growing a little stronger.
Josh looked over at Donna who had a small enigmatic smile of her own on her face.
"Because my watch sucks?" Josh guessed.
That brought a full blown smile to the faces of both women.
Donna slid her hand down and snaked her arm around his waist, leaning into him.
"Yes… and remember, it sucks in four different time zones."
"Are you sure about this, Mal?"
"Positive. Wear it and remember Dad. Besides, you're going to be Chief of Staff to the most powerful man in the world. You don't want to be tardy on your first day, do you?"
"And if you were late to the funeral, you know Dad could very well come from beyond the grave and kick your ass around DC right?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"That's settled then. Like I said, flying visit. Our flight's in about two hours, so I have to go pack."
Mallory moved forward and gave Josh a warm hug and peck on the cheek.
"Try and stay out of trouble."
"No chance of that," he grinned.
She smiled. "Well…I'll let you two get back to, whatever it was you were doing…"
"I was getting him into bed," Donna said, without thinking. Mallory arched an eyebrow. "Uh… I mean putting him to bed…."
"This time, yes…" Josh replied with a smirk.
"THIS time?" Mallory's eyebrows went further into her hairline. "You mean to tell me there were other times… when?" she left the question hanging.
Donna started to blush, and Josh couldn't help but grin.
"Well, it's about time – good for you!" Mal grinned. "When did you finally come to your senses?"
Josh and Donna exchanged uncomfortable looks.
Mallory stood silently looking at the two of them.
Josh couldn't read her expression. He didn't feel bad in any way, shape or form with regards to what had happened between him and Donna. That was one of the brightest points in the last 48 hours. But still, he felt guilty about it – how could it be right for him to feel so good about something when tragedy had been waiting around the corner? He watched Mallory to see how she would react. Even to his own ears, telling Mallory about the timing of his and Donna's little interlude sounded a bit…callous.
Mallory pursed her lips, then smiled.
"You two did it… on Election Day?" she asked incredulously. "You found time in the middle of this whole three ring circus? Wow, talk about fiddling while Rome burns!"
This time it was Josh's eyebrows that made a run for the high ground… that was not the reaction he'd been expecting.
"Don't look so worried, Josh. You know that Dad would have been the first to congratulate you, right? Honestly, the number of times he complained he should have locked you two in a room together and thrown away the key… Does anyone else know?"
"Possibly Edie and Ronna… we're not sure," Donna replied.
"Well, I won't say anything to anyone… but I'm glad." Mallory smiled. "Now, I really have to go. Thanks, Josh… for… you know."
She turned on her heel and walked out the door.
"Wow!" was all that Josh could manage.
They looked down at the watch, still clutched in Josh's fist.
Wordlessly, Donna pried his fingers open and removed it from his hand, the metal now feeling warm to the touch. Turning over his right hand, she slipped the watch gently over his wrist and snapped the metal catch closed. It fit perfectly, tight enough that it wouldn't come off without undoing it, but loose enough to allow a little movement on the wrist.
Josh absently ran his left hand back and forth across his new acquisition.
"Time and tide wait for no man, Josh." Donna said quietly.
"Yeah, I know."
She placed her hand over the top of his, stilling the movement.
"C'mon. Let's get you to bed."
Donna remained in the room with Josh as he stripped down to his t-shirt and boxers quickly and slid into bed with a heavy sigh. Stretching out next to him on top of the covers she watched as the lines in his care-warn face began to relax a little as he drifted towards the sleep he needed so badly.
There was still a little tightness around the corner of his eyes that worried her. As she reached out to push back a lock of his hair, Josh moaned and rolled over towards her. When he settled again she noticed that his face was cradled in the palm of his right hand, and that his left rested gently on the watch band.
In his sleep, Josh's mouth twitched at the corner into the sardonic half smile she had seen so many times before.
Donna turned onto her side and made to get off the bed – God knows, she was dog-tired, too and wanted nothing more than a few hours sleep herself. She was about to swing her legs over the edge of the bed when she heard Josh whisper –
"Please… stay," as he reached out to lightly touch her arm.
She hesitated for the briefest of moments before kicking off her shoes, removing her jacket and settling back on the bed, on top of the covers.
"Donna…" Josh mumbled, sleepily, "don't be silly… you'll get cold," and he drew back the covers slightly, encouraging her to get in beside him.
Donna sighed. Whatever this "thing" was they'd started, it could wait. For now, they both needed sleep and the comfort of the other's presence.
"I'll be right back," she said quietly, scooting off the bed and rummaging around in the chest of drawers for a t-shirt and some shorts she could sleep in. She went into the bathroom to wash her face and get changed, then walked back to the bed. Josh really was asleep this time – he didn't stir as she got into bed and turned on her side to face him.
"Sweet dreams, Joshua," she whispered before delicately kissing him on the cheek and settling herself down to sleep close to his side.