Title: Searching For Civilization
Summary: During a late night bus ride, the staff begin to bond.
Spoilers/Episode: Set pre-administration, but general spoilers up to season 2.
Disclaimer: They all belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, John Wells and many others who aren't me.
"Hey, wake up." CJ sat down across from Josh and gently kicked him.
Josh moaned and looked at her. "CJ, what the hell are doing?"
"I'm bored," she grinned.
"So you thought you'd annoy me?" Josh asked. "You couldn't have found someone else to wake?" He stretched. "This has to be the longest bus ride in history."
"We've been traveling three hours, Josh," CJ laughed. "So, how are you?"
"Well, I was asleep and some idiot woke me to ask stupid questions," he answered, but a grin was spreading across his face. "What's up?"
"How's Donna getting on?"
"She seems fine. I think she's quite enjoying herself, but many more journeys like this and that'll wear off." Josh watched CJ suspiciously, "What have I done?"
"I've been watching you and Toby."
"Ah," Josh sighed, "And?"
"You're not getting along are you?"
"What are you, camp counselor?" Josh asked.
CJ tried to glare at him, but her eyes were smiling. "Hey, I'm just trying to help. I know he can be difficult."
"Difficult?" Josh laughed. "That's one way of putting it." He suddenly became serious, "He doesn't like me. That's fine. It doesn't effect our work."
"What's he said?"
"Then how do you know..... ?"
"I can tell," Josh replied. "Are you saying he does like me?"
"He hasn't said anything about you."
Josh laughed, "Well I know that's not true. I heard him complaining to you that I was only working here 'cos I knew Leo."
"So why are you here?" CJ asked.
He grinned, "I guess I'm here 'cos I know Leo."
"Have you known him long?"
"Since I was a kid. He's a friend of my dad's, they worked together years ago."
"Your dad's in politics?" CJ asked, taking the opportunity to find out something about Josh's personal life. She may have worked with him for a couple of months, but she knew nothing about him. He was very much like Toby in that respect, except that Josh appeared to talk about himself, while not actually telling you anything. Unlike Sam, who'd told her his life story by the end of the first week.
"No, he's a lawyer," Josh replied. "Leo interned at his firm when I a kid. They've been friends since. When I first went to Washington, I was 18 and I stayed with the McGarry's. We've kept in touch over the years. Then last November he asked me to go to Nashua and listen to the Governor speak. I thought it'd be a complete waste of time."
"A long way to go for a waste of time," CJ commented. "You trust Leo that much?"
"Yes," Josh replied, without any hesitation. "The speech was pretty bad, it certainly wasn't written by Toby," he and Toby may not get along, but he respected Toby's work. "Then the Governor was asked a question about why he'd voted against a Bill that would have helped a lot of his constituents."
"What did he say?" CJ asked. Toby had told her that Jed Bartlet was a good man, and what she'd seen seemed to hold that to be true. Also, having Leo McGarry and Josh Lyman on his team helped his credibility. Still, she was interested to know what convinced Josh to ditch Hoynes in favor of an unknown candidate. She didn't believe that knowing Leo most of his life would have been enough.
"He was honest." Josh smiled at the memory of that. "He said that he'd voted against the Bill, it was the New England DFC, because he didn't want to make it harder for people to buy milk. He told the guy that if he expected anything different from the president, then he should vote for someone else."
"Toby said he was a good man," CJ commented.
Two hours later they were still on the bus. "Where the hell are we?" Toby asked.
"I really haven't got a clue," Josh replied, looking up from his notes and staring out at the darkness. "There's not a light anywhere, it's kind of spooky"
"Like we're the last people alive on earth," Donna added, causing both men to look at her. "When we went on road trips when I was a kid, my brother use to tease us with that," she said shyly. Toby just stared at her and, although Josh grinned, Toby made her feel uncomfortable. "I'm going to see Margaret," she said, getting up and walking down the bus.
"Why has she come?" Toby asked.
"Don't start this again. Just leave her alone," Josh warned.
"You know you can't just hire someone because they have blonde hair, blue eyes and long legs. That's not how it works, and it doesn't look very professional."
Josh glared at Toby. "Well thanks for the words of wisdom there. After all I'm pretty new to all this," he replied sarcastically.
Toby went back to his speech and Josh carried on reading his notes.
Further down the bus Jed and Leo were watching the others. "Glad to see Toby and Josh are getting on so well," Jed commented.
"They'll be fine," Leo said. "As long as they can work together, they'll be fine."
"At least," Jed stopped to think, "Sam," he remembered, "doesn't seem quite as intimidated by Josh anymore."
Leo looked at Jed and laughs, "I think you mean Toby, not Josh. You ever going to learn their names?"
"I know the names, I just have trouble putting them to the faces. So Josh is the one who's finally found an assistant who can keep him in order?" Jed smiled, looking at Donna, who was sat talking to Margaret.
"We'll see how long she lasts," Leo commented. "Mind you, he yelled at her yesterday and she yelled right back. So that's a good sign."
At the back of the bus, Sam had joined Toby and Josh. "So, do we know where we are?"
Josh looked out of the window. "I'd say that we're somewhere between nowhere and hell," he muttered.
"I just wondered if we were almost there," Sam said. "What are you doing?"
"Trying to look busy," Josh told him. "The Governor keeps looking this way and I don't fancy playing quiz night."
"Hey, we should play a game of something, it'll pass the time," Sam said excitedly.
"It's like traveling with kids," Toby muttered before getting up and walking off down the bus.
"What's his problem?" Sam asked.
"Me," Josh caught Sam's questioning look. "Don't ask."
Sam watched Toby walk away and wondered why him and Josh don't get on. They actually have a lot in common. He decided to leave that for now though. "How's your dad?"
"Spoke to him this morning, he sounded fine. Still ignoring the doctors and my mom though, and working too hard. I think it takes his mind off things."
An hour later and most people were asleep. In the middle of the bus Toby was looking out at the darkness thinking of a conversation he'd had earlier with CJ.
"You playing nice?" she'd asked him.
"Meaning?" he'd grunted.
"Well, you've been snapping at Josh and yelling at Sam."
"So they thought they'd complain to you did they?"
"Neither of them have said anything. I've eyes and ears, Toby. To be honest, you're not being fair to either of them. Josh is very good at his job and I think Sam would be too, if you didn't scare the life out of him."
"I don't scare Josh then?" he'd asked, with a slight smile.
"I doubt anybody scares Josh," she'd smiled back. "You'd like him if you gave him a go, you know."
"I never said I didn't like him, I don't know him."
"Well talk to him then, get to know him."
Toby laughed. "Are you telling me to bond with my teammates, CJ? You think Josh and I should sit down and discuss our lives over a drink? That's not really my thing."
"I don't think Josh'd want to do that either - see something else you have in common, that's three things now."
"The other two being?"
"You're both Democrats and you're both Jewish."
"Yeah. Can't imagine that there's much else I'd have in common with an 'Ivy League Boy', can you?"
"God, Toby," CJ had answered, "you know you really shouldn't judge people on what you think you know about them."
"I know he's had a very successful career so far. He's been floor manager to the House Minority Whip and Chief of Staff for Congressman Brennan. He worked for two years as legislative director in the house. And he was Hoynes campaign manager."
"You memorize that?"
"I'm just saying, why's he here? I was already working for Bartlet, you're here 'cos, well, you got fired," he'd smiled when CJ glared at him. "Why's Josh doing this? If we don't win, he's committed professional suicide, and I don't understand why."
"That's weird you know," CJ had said, "I asked him that earlier."
"And what'd he say?"
"Ask him yourself."
CJ had smiled and closed her eyes.
'Right,' Toby decided, getting up and walking down the bus to where Josh, Sam and Donna were sleeping. "Josh, wake up," he said.
"Are we there?" Josh mumbled.
"I don't even know where there is anymore," Toby groaned.
" 'K, then why'd you wake me?" Josh asked sleepily.
"I wanted to ask you something" Toby replied, and then went quiet.
"You've known Leo since you were a kid, right?" Toby asked and Josh nodded. Toby was quiet again for a moment. "You've got a successful career in politics? I know you're well respected in Washington. You could have had just about any position you'd wanted in Hoynes White House, right?"
"So why'd you give all that up to come and help an unknown candidate. To travel across, God knows where, on a bus and stay in crappy hotels?"
Josh watched Toby for a moment. Over the last few weeks, he'd come to respect Toby's work, but he had no idea what made him tick. He did know one thing though, Toby wasn't one for meaningless, polite conversation. "Leo asked me to go and hear the Governor speak in Nashua, I admit I wasn't expecting much. Then he answered the question about the DFC. I realized why I was so pissed off working for Hoynes. He'd have never answered that question. He won't discuss anything that might turn voters away from him. Which is fine I guess, but sometimes you have to do the unpopular thing, just because it's the right thing. Hoynes thinks I've committed professional suicide, but he hasn't taken into account that we could win," Josh replied.
"Okay." Toby stood and walked back down the bus to CJ.
"What did Toby want?" Sam asked, sitting down quietly so as not to wake Donna.
"He wanted to know why I'm here," Josh told him. "You and him getting along any better?"
Sam nodded, "I showed him the stuff I'd written for tomorrow night. He said it'd be better with punctuation, but that it wasn't bad. I think he actually liked it." Sam was beaming.
"What about you and him?"
"I have no idea," Josh shrugged. "CJ says its just his way. To be honest I've got more important things to worry about than whether Toby likes me." Sam looked at him a little enviously and Josh laughed. "Don't worry, you've got a long way to go before you get as jaded as me."
Donna stirred in the seat opposite, but didn't wake up. She'd worked for Josh for almost a week and Sam suspected that Josh was going to pay her himself. Sam didn't know her story, but she'd certainly managed to organize Josh, and that was no small accomplishment.
By 6am Josh, Sam, CJ and Toby were playing cards. "Okay, I give up," Donna muttered, "I'm awake now. Where are we?"
"Who can say?" Sam replied.
"Hang on," CJ cried, "some of these cards are missing."
"So we can't play? And I wanted to take your money," Toby groaned.
"In your dreams," CJ smiled. "Someone must know where the hell we are."
"Ask the driver," Josh suggested, with a grin.
"Yeah, 'cos I'd make it past the Governor without, '30 things you didn't know about rock formations'. No thanks."
"You know when I was learning to sail, I also learnt to navigate using the stars," Sam said, looking out the window and up at the night sky.
"You actually learnt how to sail?" Josh laughed.
"Hey, I've only fallen out a couple of times. It's a hazard of the sport."
"You're saying that sailing's a sport?" Toby asked.
"Don't get him started," CJ pleaded. "It's not a sport to Toby unless there's a ball involved."
"Well he's got a point," Josh told her.
"Oh God, not another one," CJ sighed. "Please tell me that you're not an obsessed baseball and football fan."
"I wouldn't say obsessed," Josh smiled. "But there are certain times when watching a game is traditional. You know beer, takeout and a game on the TV."
"Thanks giving....." Toby suggested.
"Amongst others," Josh agreed.
CJ smiled to herself, 'Four things in common,' she thought.