Title: Broken Glass
Summary: Josh gets some support from his friends, after his meeting with Stanley.
Episode: Post season 2, 'Noel'.
Disclaimer: They all belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, John Wells and many others who aren't me.
"Will you stop whining," Donna told Josh.
Josh looked at his hand. "I'm just saying that it didn't really hurt until you made go and see a doctor. Did he have to poke around in it so much?"
Donna sighed, "He had to make sure there was no glass in there, Josh."
"Yeah," came the sulky reply.
They pulled up at a stop light, just as a police car rushed through the intersection with it's siren blaring. Josh flinched and closed his eyes, trying to not let Donna see the panic that had suddenly hit him. It took all his strength to ask in an almost normal voice, "Where are we going?"
Donna had thought the hospital would upset him, but he'd been fine. Now she could see him trying to hide the panic the police siren had caused. She didn't know what to do to help though, so she continued as if everything was okay. "My place to get some clothes and then back to yours - you have had the window repaired?"
"Yeah." His breathing was returning to normal, he opened his eyes and looked at Donna. "How'd you work that out anyway?"
Donna glanced over at him, as she turned into her street. "I didn't buy the, 'I was putting down a glass', story, but I couldn't think of what else it could be." She pulled up outside her building. "Then.... you slammed your office door and, something about the way you did it, I don't know." She opened her door and got out. "You coming in?"
"Is Candi there? More to the point are the evil ones in?" Josh usually liked cats, but Candi's seemed to take an instant dislike to him and they usually attacked whenever they saw him.
"Candi's away at her parents and yes, Spike and Chloe will be around. You scared?" Donna grinned.
"Yes." But Josh followed Donna into her apartment.
Donna fed the cats, who stood and glared at Josh, and then went to pack a bag. On her way out of her room, she picked up a small, colorfully wrapped box and put it in the bag with a smile. "Okay. I'm just going to ask Mrs Rigby if she'll look in on the cats tomorrow, then we can go."
Ten minutes later they were driving toward Josh's apartment. "You don't need to stay with me you know," he said.
"You couldn't have told me that before we left my place?" Donna joked. "It's Christmas Eve, Josh, it'd be stupid for us both to be sat in on our own. Unless, would you rather be alone?" She offered, though really she didn't want to leave him tonight. She couldn't admit, out loud anyway, just how worried she was about him.
"No. I just don't think I'm going to be very good company, I'm not exactly full of Christmas cheer," Josh replied.
"It's a good job I'm use to you then isn't it," she smiled.
They were soon at Josh's apartment and Donna let them in. "Nice decorations, Josh," she teased, surveying at the bare walls.
"Hey, I'm Jewish," he smiled. He was suddenly serious. "I'm really sorry about the last few weeks. I've treated you like crap. I knew I was doing it. I thought, I don't know, if I pushed you away, then maybe you, you wouldn't notice what was happening. I know I probably alienated everyone and I have to apologize to them all, but there's no excuse for the way I've treated to you."
Donna took his hand, looked at the bandage. "I think you've probably treated yourself the worst." She looked up at him. "We're your friends, we know you haven't been yourself, you've had a hard few months. There's no need to apologize to anyone." She knew Josh well enough to realize that he wouldn't believe that. "Sit down, I'll make us something to eat," she said and walked into the kitchen. After a couple of minutes rummaging around in the fridge and cupboards, she shouted, "Josh, you do know how to read use by dates don't you?"
Josh smiled and answered the ringing phone. "Hello...... Hey, Sam...... Yeah I'm fine...... She's here..... Well, it appears I have no food, so we're probably going out again...... Okay, if you're sure you want to....... Yeah alright, I'll see you soon." He hung the phone up and called to Donna, "Sam, Toby and CJ are coming over and, you'll be relieved to hear, they're bringing food."
Sam placed the phone back on the table. "How'd he sound?" CJ asked.
"Okay. Donna's there with him."
Toby stubbed out his cigar, "Well, that's hardly a shock is it? Did he say we can go over?"
"Would that stop you?" Sam asked with a smile as they collected their coats and left of Toby's apartment.
The relief that they were feeling was almost palpable. Leo wouldn't let them go into work and wait for Josh, so they'd been taking it in turns to call Donna to see if there was any news. When 4pm came and went, and Josh was still in with the ATVA therapist, they'd decided to wait together at Toby's apartment. Donna called them from the hospital while Josh was having his hand looked at. She seemed to think that he'd welcome visitors and, although they weren't sure what they were going to say, they were glad he wanted to see them.
"We need to get some takeout on the way," Sam said.
"Top Wan?" Toby suggested.
"Very festive," CJ commented, as they got into Sam's car.
"He sounded a little surprised that we wanted to see him. You think he's going to be alright?" Sam asked.
CJ and Toby glanced at each other. "I dunno," CJ replied. "I hope so. I don't know much about PTSD, but I do know it's treatable."
"So you think that's what the diagnosis was then?" Sam looked worried. "'Cos that can't be good, not for someone with his job. If, 'suffering from PTSD', is on his file, he could be finished."
Toby sighed, although that thought had occurred to him too. When he first realized something was very wrong, he'd put off talking to Leo, but after speaking to Donna they both decided that something had to be done. "You don't think for a minute that Leo's going to let them actually put that in writing do you? And do you really imagine that the President would fire Josh over this. Josh's job is safe, I'd bet the house on it."
"You don't own a house."
"It's an expression!" Toby stated. "Right what does everyone want to eat?" he asked, as Sam pulled up outside the Chinese restaurant.
Thirty minutes later, they were turning into Josh's street. "You'd think they'd have had some kind of Chinese Christmas dish wouldn't you?" Sam commented.
"You mean like Sweet and Sour Roast Goose with Chestnut Fried Rice," CJ laughed.
"Yeah, and they could use cranberry for the sour part," Sam grinned, as he pulled into the only available parking spot.
"I think cranberries are more bitter, than sour," CJ replied.
"Get me out of here!" Toby moaned.
"Okay," Sam said, "much as I enjoyed my Garlic Chicken, and Josh's Spring Roll, I still think CJ's idea of Sweet and Sour Goose would have been more appropriate."
"Sweet and Sour Goose?" Josh looked at CJ and smiled questioningly
"With Chestnut Fried Rice," CJ added, as she cleared the cartons away.
Donna followed her into the kitchen. "Anyone want a beer? Not you, Josh, you're on antibiotics." Sam and Toby both asked for beer and Josh whined, but eventually settled for a Coke.
"How is he?" CJ asked quietly. "He seems a little withdrawn."
"He's better than he was. He feels guilty for the way he's acted recently. I think he'll be fine. The ATVA guy says he needs to remember what happened without reliving it. The problem is, he doesn't really remember, except when he's, well, reliving it."
Sam had walked in behind them. "So you think we should talk about it?" he whispered. "'Cos, I don't know, but maybe that'd help all of us."
"Maybe," Donna said. "We have all been avoiding the subject for nearly five months."
"You guys got lost in there?" Josh called.
CJ, Donna and Sam emerged from the kitchen, to a knowing look from Josh. They all sat down, Sam and Josh on the couch, CJ and Toby in the arm chairs and Donna on a cushion on the floor, next to Josh's legs.
Toby broke the silence. "How'd it go today then, Josh?"
Josh looked down at his bandaged hand. "It was different, not what I'd expected, but I think it helped."
"You don't mind that we talked with him?" Sam asked.
"Did you have a choice? No, look, I don't mind. I went in there not wanting to do it and not being very co-operative. Basically I was being me," he smiled. "But, yeah, I think it helped. He got me to at least try and think about the shooting without..... well, you know. The problem is that I really don't remember that much."
"I think we all only remember parts," CJ said. "Do you think it'd help to tell you what we do remember?" she asked. "Or would that be a bad idea?"
Josh considered that. This was the first time in weeks he'd been able to think about what had been causing the panic and the flashbacks. Not being able to remember what happened was part of it, but it was also the feeling of being alone, the fear of dying alone, wondering where everyone else was, what had happened to them. Maybe it would help if they told him their memories, told him were they where, what happened to them. He wasn't angry that they didn't look for him, he never had been. But the fear he felt sitting alone on those steps, that was the fear that had been returning the last few weeks.
"Josh?" CJ asked.
Josh looked at CJ and smiled slightly, "I couldn't feel any worse than I have been," he said quietly, adding, "I really am sorry guys, for the way I've been acting. I don't even remember half of what I did, but if it's as bad as what I do remember, I'm sorry."
"There's no need......."
"Yes there is," Josh interrupted Sam.
They were quiet again, and then CJ began. "The first thing I remember is Gina shouting 'gun' and then all hell broke loose. I felt someone push me to the ground and glass shattered above me as I hit my head," she smiled across at Sam, who looked a little embarrassed. "Then it was over, a medic asked me my name and looked at my head. We were told that the President, Zoey and Leo were on their way back to the White House." She looked over at Josh, who was watching her intently. "I thought, 'Thank God, we're all okay', and then.... then we heard Toby calling for help." As CJ finished talking she could feel tears in her eyes.
Sam looked at Josh and then began. "I remember walking past the rope line. I was just about to turn round to see where you were," he told him. "Suddenly there was a bang, I've never heard gun fire before. I just dived to the ground, luckily CJ cushioned my fall," he smiled slightly at her. The smile quickly faded though, "After it went quiet, I went talk to a Secret Service guy, he told me that Zoey had gone in one car, the President was in his car and that you," he looked back at Josh, "and Leo had gone in the third car. That's what's suppose to happen anyway. God, I'm so sorry I didn't check but, I wasn't thinking straight, if I......."
"You'd just been shot at, of course you weren't thinking straight! Don't beat yourself up, Sam. You saved CJ," Josh told him.
"Still, if Toby......" he trailed off, not wanting to think what would have happened if it had been much longer before Josh had got medical help.
Toby knew it was his turn now, but he didn't know where to start. He looked down at his beer before saying, "I was near Leo, that's how I knew Josh wasn't with him. I saw Shanahan." He glanced at Josh and then looked back down at his empty beer bottle. He doubted he was ever going to forget finding Josh sitting on those steps, with blood pouring from his chest. The look in Josh's eyes when he tried to speak and then passed out, will be etched on Toby's mind for the rest of his life. He couldn't put those thoughts in to words though, even though he knew it might help Josh. He could feel Josh watching him and he looked up again. Josh smiled faintly and shook his head a little. The gesture seemed to say that it was okay, he understood, there was no need to say it out loud.
There was silence again, until Josh spoke. "I remember bits. I'd stopped to talk to someone, but I don't remember who. Then I heard gunfire, and screams. I was near the railings, the next thing I knew I was leaning against a wall and..... it hurt to breathe. I made it to the steps and sat down." He paused and took a deep breath. "People were walking past me, nobody stopped. By then...... it would have been easier to just close my eyes. But I heard my name. Toby was standing there and, I don't remember much else. I could hear CJ talking to me. I know Sam was in the ambulance. After that I don't remember anything until, I don't know, my mom and Donna were there, I think it was Tuesday evening." Donna nodded and rubbed his leg. "You guys were great then. There was always someone there, whenever I woke up. I know you all looked out for my mom.".
"Actually, your mom looked after us." CJ's words made Josh smile.
"I don't remember being shot, well not consciously. When I'm..... I remember in flashbacks," Josh told them, looking back down at his hand.
"I know," Toby said.
"How?" Josh asked.
"At the concert, you weren't there, in the room. I wanted to go over to you, but I don't think that would have helped."
Josh nodded. "I don't remember the concert. I remember the music starting and then, nothing, except sirens and......" he swallowed, there were tears in his eyes. "Stanley thinks music is what triggers the flashbacks."
"I don't suppose the bagpipes helped a lot there then?" Toby said, relieved that he actually knew what the cause was. That was half the battle after all.
Josh smiled at Toby and then turned his attention to his bandaged hand. He knew he had to tell them, he suspected that they'd already guessed. "My hand," he said, "I broke a window. That one in fact," he nodded toward the back of the apartment.
Sam was the first to speak. "We didn't think it was a glass, but none of us was brave enough to argue with you. Does it hurt?"
"It didn't until someone forced me to see a doctor," Josh said with a small smile.
"Do you know how many people get blood poisoning from seemingly innocent cuts. There was an article in a magazine in the waiting room, every year....."
"DONNA, please stop. It's Christmas Eve," Josh pleaded.
Toby, Sam and CJ thought that that sounded almost like the old Josh, almost. Tonight, though, they were willing to take what they could get.