Title: Surviving
Author:
Willow
Summary: Josh finds out about Leo and Jenny and then makes a decision.
Spoilers/Episode: Post season 1, The Crackpots And These Women
Characters: Josh, Leo, Jenny, Mallory
Rating: PG


Part III

Sunday

Josh walked down the aisles of his local Safeway and wondered why they had to move everything around from one week to the next. He was so engrossed in studying the shelves that he didn't notice Jenny and Mallory coming the other way, until he'd run his trolley into theirs. "Sorry," he grinned.

"You were in a world of your own there, Joshua," Jenny said.

"Searching for coffee," he smiled. "How are you?"

"Fine," they both replied. "How's Leo?" Jenny asked.

Josh looked puzzled. "He's okay, why wouldn't he be?" Jenny and Mallory exchanged glances and both looked back at Josh. "What?" he asked.

"He hasn't told you?" Mal asked.

"Told me what?"

"He moved out of the house a week ago."

Josh was thrown for a minute. He'd always thought that Jenny and Leo had a good relationship. "I didn't know."

"Obviously," Jenny replied angrily. "Well you can tell him that ignoring the problem won't make it go away. If he thinks that I'll change my mind he's got another thing...."

"Mom!" Mallory interrupted, "It's not Josh's fault."

Jenny had always considered Josh's father to be Leo's buddy, the one he confided in before her. She resented that he told Noah about rehab before her, and she wondered what else Leo shared with him that she didn't know about. It was different with Jed, he was her friend as well. Now that resentment had passed onto Noah's son, whether that was fair or not doesn't really bother her. "We should be going," she said.

"I'll catch you up," Mal told her mother. "She's still angry with him," she told Josh.

"What did he do?" Josh asked.

"I don't think it was any one thing. She's been angry at him for ages, only he never noticed. Which of course made her more angry. It's work mainly I think. She says he widowed her the day you all took office."

"His job's important, he's bound to work long hours, what did she expect?"

"You're just like him you know," Mal said, but she meant it fondly. She'd always got on well with Josh and, unlike her mother, she didn't blame him for his loyalty to her father. "She's serious, Josh. She won't take him back. She was going to leave, but he told her that he'd go instead."

Josh was still trying to take this in. "When was this?"

"The day after their anniversary."

"He said they had a good night," Josh said more to himself than Mallory. "Where's he staying?"

"A suite at The Watergate," Mal replied and gave him the suite number. She suspected her father was going to be mad at her for that. "I should go and find my mom. I'll see you soon."

"Yeah, see you," Josh said. "Mal," he called as she walked away. Mal turned back to him. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine," she lied.

"Okay, I'm sorry about all this. I'll speak to you soon."

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An hour later, Josh was standing outside Leo's hotel suite, wondering whether this was his best idea ever. He knew though that he won't be able to pretend that everything was normal at work tomorrow, so he took a deep breath and knocked.

Leo opens the door, expecting to find room service. "Josh, what are you doing here?"

"I was passing."

"How'd you...? come in," Leo invited. He closed the door and followed Josh into the suite.

"I like your new place, Leo," Josh said a little sarcastically. It was a nice suite though, it was actually bigger than Josh's apartment.

"How'd you know I was here?"

"I met Mal and Jenny at the supermarket. Jenny's pretty angry by the way, although whether that's at you or me, I'm not sure." Josh sat down. "Why didn't you tell me?" he asked.

There was a knock at the door and Leo let room service in. The waiter wheeled in a trolley with tea, milk and some sandwiches on it. After he left Leo asked, "You want anything?" Josh shook his head and Leo sat back down. "I haven't told anyone, it's not that easy you know."

"I guess not," Josh agreed. "I just came over to see if you were okay, if you needed anything."

"I'm fine."

"Really?" Josh said doubtfully. "Does the President know?"

"I told you, no one knows. What did Jenny say?"

"Not much."

"Josh!"

"Leo, you know that she's serious don't you?" he asked.

"So she says."

"Okay," Josh wasn't comfortable discussing Leo's marriage with him. "You have to tell The President. If I can find out, you can be damn sure he will too."

Leo was well aware of that. The problem was that while Josh may be a little hurt that Leo didn't tell him about the break up, Jed was going to be angry about the break up itself, he thought a lot of Jenny. "You sure you don't want anything to eat or drink?"

Josh surveyed the trolley, "Cup of tea'd be good."

Leo poured two teas. "You do any thinking about the NSC?"

"I've thought about nothing else."

"And?"

"I still don't know. Although I do know that CJ's a nicer person than Sam," he smiled, "he called me dense."

"He's known you a lot longer than she has," Leo smiled. "What did he say?"

"Same as you and CJ. And he asked what I'd think if he'd got a card, but it's not the same"

"Sure it is."

"You know damn well that it isn't," Josh snapped. He ran his hand through his hair. Giving the card back was supposed to make things better, but he had had two sleepless nights because of this. He stood up, walked to the window and watched the traffic on the street below.

Leo watched Josh and sighed to himself. The President was right, he couldn't force Josh to keep the NSC card, it had to be his decision. Even so, Leo wasn't willing to give up yet. The trouble was, he really didn't know what to say.

Josh turned from the window and looked at Leo. "If I give it back, does someone else get it?"

"No," Leo replied. Although he wasn't sure if that was true, he was sure that Josh's biggest fear was of surviving instead of someone else. "There no one else can do your job Josh, who else would they give it to?"

"There's plenty people who could do my job."

"Not that the NSC are going to give a card to there isn't."

Josh turned back to the window and stared out, lost in thought. He hadn't bothered talking to Toby or Donna or even his mom, because he knew they'd say exactly the same as CJ, Leo and Sam. He knew because it was what he would say to them. But they didn't understand. Ever since the NSC agent had given him the card Ave Maria had been running through his head.

"Josh?" Leo interrupted his thoughts.

Josh turned to face Leo. "Am I being selfish?" he asked.

"Why do you think that?"

"When I think about the reasons I don't want to keep the card, they're all because of me and what I feel. It has nothing to do with my family and friends or the Government and the country."

"No, it's not selfish and I do understand your reasons. Just because you have the card doesn't mean you'll be forced onto a helicopter at gun point. You can still stay behind."

"I know."

"So?" Leo asked hopefully.

Returning the card hadn't made Josh feel any better and it certainly wasn't going to alleviate the guilt he'd felt since he was eight. Maybe if he had the card, and ever had to use it, he could do some good. "I'll take it back," he said. "But only because I can't condemn you to a lifetime of trivia quizzes and Latin."

Leo smiled, but he'd known Josh a long time, he knew that humor and sarcasm were Josh's best and most used defense mechanisms. "You sure about this?"

"On one condition."

"Go on?"

"You tell The President about you and Jenny."

"Josh, it's not that easy. He thinks the world of Jenny, and he's going to blame me for neglecting her."

"To get him elected." Josh pointed out.

"I don't think he'll see it like that, especially since that was my idea in the first place. I think he might point out that he's The President and he still finds time for Abbey."

"Who lives in the same building he works in," Josh added.

"He's still gonna be pissed," Leo said. "You want me to tell him about the card, or do you want to?"

"Did you tell him why I gave it back," Josh asked, though he wasn't sure why that was important.

"Yeah."

"What did he say?"

"That he understood and I wasn't to bully you. That it had to be your decision."

"You can tell him."

"It's the right thing to do Josh. You know that, deep down."

"Yeah," Josh agreed, sounding more certain than he feels.

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Monday

"Josh."

"Donna."

"The President wants to see you when you have a minute."

"When I have a minute? You mean he wants to see me now," Josh stood and walked round his desk.

"Yeah. So what have you done?" Donna asked as she followed him out of his office.

"I haven't done anything."

"Perhaps he wants to know why you were Moody Boy on Friday and Saturday."

"Moody Boy?" Josh smiled.

"You were a little, well..."

"Moody?"

"Yes."

"Why are you following me?" he asked.

"You might need something?"

"I really don't."

"Fine, I'll go and see Sam, he appreciates me."

"You could try doing some work, then I'd appreciate you." Josh smiled as Donna headed to the Communications bullpen. He walked to the Oval Office, "Morning Mrs Landingham, he wanted to see me."

"Yes, Josh, he's just finishing up. How are you today dear?"

"I'm okay thanks, you?"

"I'm fine."

"How's Charlie settling in?" Josh asked.

"I think he'll be alright now that the terror and disbelief are passing, you made a good choice there." She smiled, "Would you like a cookie?"

"Do I ever say no?" Josh grinned, taking one of the home made cookies out of the jar. He just had chance to eat it before the door to the Oval Office opened and several people filed out.

"You can go in now, dear," Mrs Landingham told him.

"Thanks for the cookie," Josh smiled and walked into the Oval Office.

Jed was sat alone on one of the couches. "Close the door, Josh, and sit down."

"Sir," Josh said and sat in a chair.

"Leo says that you've reconsidered the NSC card. Have you, or was he hoping that by telling me that, it'd force your hand?"

"As if Leo would..... no your right, he would," Josh nodded. "I have reconsidered, if that's okay?."

"Of course it is, I haven't had chance to say anything to the NSC yet," Jed told him. "Leo didn't bully you though did he?"

"No. I talked to CJ and Sam."

"What did they say?"

"CJ said I was sweet, Sam said I was dense. Which I guess goes to show who knows me better," Josh smiled. "They were right though."

"Plus, you like Leo too much to want him to have to spend a lifetime alone with me?" Jed grinned. He stood up and walked over to his desk. He opened one of the drawers and took out the NSC card with Josh's name on it. "You are sure about this?" he asked, studying Josh.

"Yes, Sir," Josh replied, not altogether truthfully. He was sure that giving the card back hadn't made him feel any better. He really wasn't sure what he was going to do if there was ever a situation where he had to use the it. But for now he was happy to cross that bridge if he ever came to it.

"Good." Jed handed the card back to Josh, who took it and put it in his pocket. "Now, Josh, there is one more thing we need discuss."

"Sir?"

"I was curious as to which part of, 'Don't let Zoey mess with my chili,' you didn't understand."

END