Title: A Matter Of Trust
Author: Willow
Summary:
Josh takes care of Mallory when she arrives at his apartment hurt and upset.
Spoilers: Set in an a/u between seasons 2 & 3
Characters: Josh, Mallory & Leo (mainly)
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: They all belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, John Wells and many others who aren't me.


Part I

"Sam wants to borrow me?" Donna asked, following Josh back into his office.

"Yeah. Bonnie's got food poisoning and Toby needs Ginger for the thing on Monday."

"Josh, I may have plans for the weekend, I might not want to go dragging across the country with Sam."

"Did you have plans?" Josh asked and Donna shook her head. "Well then," Josh continued. "Anyway, it's Air Force One, with Sam, Leo, CJ, Charlie and some other guy - oh yeah, the president. You'll have fun. I know it'll be hard without me there, but I'm sure you'll do your best."

"Actually yes," Donna smiled. "Four whole days without having to pick up after you. This'll be like a holiday for me. How will you cope though?"

"I've coped without you before. I was fine when you went to your friend's wedding last month."

"Josh, you ended up with the flu."

"Yes, but in fairness I think I would have caught the flu anyway," he reasoned.

"Maybe," she smiled walking back into the bullpen.


An hour later Sam walked into the bullpen. "Hey, Donna."

"Sam, I believe we're going to be working together."

"Yeah, that's okay isn't it? Josh said it'd be fine, but I'm sure I can manage alone if...."

"No, Sam, it's fine. I'm quite looking forward to it actually," she smiled in Josh's direction.

"She thinks I won't be able to cope without her," Josh told Sam.

"Well Toby was wondering if you'd be okay, I mean last time she left you alone......."

"It was the flu, Sam. I'd have caught it anyway."

"Maybe," Sam replied before turning back to Donna. "We're due to leave at 9.30 tonight from here, so we should be leaving about midnight. I'll see you then."

"Why does everyone think I'll fall apart if Donna's not here?" Josh asked as him and Sam walk toward the mess.

"Well, probably because you usually do," Sam laughed.


Josh was sat watching TV, it was 1.30am and there was nothing on, but he wasn't tired. 'Do I fall apart without Donna?' he wondered for the tenth time that night. 'I can cope without her, true I miss her when she's away. Hell, I miss her if she's out of the office, but that not 'cos I can't cope without her, it's 'cos I miss her.' The door buzzer brought him out of his thoughts.

"Yeah?"

"Josh, it's Mallory. Is Amy there?"

"No, I'm all alone."

"Can I come in then?"

Josh buzzed her in and went to open his front door. The sight that greeted him made him stop short. "Mal! What the hell's happened to you?" he asked. Mallory had a cut on her cheek, one of her eyes was very red and looked likely to bruise, she had a mark on her forehead and she'd obviously been crying.

"Mallory?" he asked gently, as he lead her into the living room and sat her on the couch. "I'll get some ice for your eye, or that's gonna bruise." Josh went to the kitchen and returned with a cold pack wrapped in a towel. "What happened?"

"It was stupid, Josh," she said. "I caught my foot on the bathroom door and it snapped back and hit me in the face."

He looked at her. "You walked into a door?" he asked incredulously.

"Told you it was stupid." As she got up to take her coat off though, she flinched and held her side.

"Mal?" Josh was alarmed now. "Come on, sit back down. Did the door also hit you in the ribs?"

"Honestly, Josh, it's nothing. I just....." Mallory looked at Josh's concerned face and her resolve crumbled. "Adam hit me," she said quietly.

Josh puts his arm around her shoulders and held her as she cried. 'I'll kill the bastard,' he thought. 'I'll slowly and painfully kill him!' "Mal, how bad are you hurt? If you've hurt your ribs and knocked your head, I think you should go the emergency room."

"No. Josh, I'm fine. They'll want to know what happened, I don't want police involved."

Josh personally thought the guy should rot slowly in a jail cell, but instead he said. "You don't have to tell them what happened or who did it. They can't force you to call the police."

Mallory suddenly got up and dashed to the bathroom, just making it before throwing up.

"That's it, we're going to emergency, no arguing." Josh found his car keys and wallet and Mallory reluctantly followed him out of the apartment.

An hour later Josh was sat waiting in GW's emergency room, while a doctor checked Mallory.

"Excuse me. Josh?" a nurse asked. "Miss O'Brien asked me to tell you that she's gone to x-ray. She won't tell us what happened, but from the bruising on her ribs and arms it's pretty obvious." From the look the nurse was giving Josh, it was also pretty obvious who she thought was responsible.

"She told me she fell on the stairs," Josh fell back on the, admittedly not very original, cover story he and Mallory had devised.

"Yeah, of course! Those'd be the stairs that wear shoes?" the nurse replied angrily, knowing she'd gone way over the line.

"Are you saying she's been kicked?" Josh asked, equally angrily.

"I have to go," the nurse replied, 'before I say something else I shouldn't,' she thought.

A little later, back in the exam room, the doctor had just told Mallory that she had 3 cracked and several bruised ribs, along with a mild concussion. Unless she had someone to stay with, he wanted her to stay in the hospital. "I can stay at a friend's," Mallory replied.

"Your boyfriend is waiting outside for you," the nurse told her.

"Oh God, how did he know I was hear?" Mallory asked in a panic.

"He bought you in," the nurse replied, a little confused.

"What?" Mallory laughed, "that's Josh, he's a friend." She saw the look on the nurse's face. "Oh God, did you think he did this? Josh would never...... I should go."


Mallory had half heartedly told Josh he could take her to her mother's, but he'd insisted she stay the night at his apartment. Daylight found him awake, he'd been up most of the night checking that Mallory's okay. After having breakfast and watching the news, he took a cup of coffee into her. "Hey, sleepy," he said, "how you feeling?"

"Sore. What time is it?"

"9.30."

"I should get up. Thanks for last night, Josh. You didn't have to check on me every hour," she smiled.

"Hey, that's what the instructions from the doctor said. You want anything to eat?"

"No thanks." Mallory got up and went to the bathroom, to get washed and dressed.

As they drove to the McGarry house an hour later, Mallory said,"I don't want my dad to know yet. I will tell him, but not yet."

"Okay."

"I know it's a lot to ask. He's going to be mad at you for not telling him, but....."

"I won't say anything," Josh assured her, as he pulled up outside the house. He climbed out of the car and rang the bell, then went to help Mallory. The housekeeper answered the door, took one look at Mallory and called Jenny.

"Mallory!" Jenny looked at Josh, "What happened to her?"

"I can talk, mom," Mallory said. "I had a fight with Adam."

"A fight! You mean he hit you? The bastard!" They walked into the lounge room and Mallory sat down. "When was this?" Jenny was again glaring at Josh.

"Mom, will you leave Josh alone. It was last night, I went to Josh's, he took me to the ER, I'm fine by the way."

"The ER?" Jenny repeated, looking at her daughter and then at Josh. "Does Leo know?

"No, he's away 'til Tuesday. But it's up to Mallory whether she tells him," Josh replied.

Jenny looked admiringly at Josh. She had always liked him when he was a boy, but she didn't know him now. He was Leo's friend and that had put a distance between them. "Would you like to stay for something to eat, Josh?"

"I can't I'm sorry, I have to get to the office," he said apoplectically.

"Of course," Jenny said with an unmistakable tone to her voice. After Josh had left Jenny studied her daughter. "You have to tell your father, Mallory. If he finds out from gossip, he's going to be, understandably, upset."

"I can handle dad."

"It's not you I'm worried about."


"Well, I'm impressed," Donna said from the doorway. "You've not been buried alive under a pile of files."

"Hey, Donnatella, good trip? Miss me?"

"You mean you weren't with us?" she asked with a smile. "It was a good trip, yes. Sam didn't yell my name once. I didn't have to remind him what he should be doing every 10 minutes, he was even able to unpack his own suitcase," she grinned.

"Hey," Sam walked into Josh's office. "I've just seen Mallory heading into Leo's office, she looked like she's had an accident."

"Morning, Sam, I see you brought my assistant back in one piece."

"I did," he smiled. "So, what do you think's up with Mal?"

"How would I know?"

Twenty minutes later Donna told Josh that Leo wanted to see him.

"Great," Josh muttered. "I'd just like you to know, it's been good working with you, Donna," he said as he walked out of the office. When he reached Leo's office he hesitated before opening the office door. He took a deep breath and entered. "Leo," he said.

"Close the door," Leo watched Josh. "Mallory was just here, do you have any idea why?"

"You know I do." Josh couldn't read Leo's mood.

"Were you going to tell me? It was Friday night, Josh! We spoke on the phone a hundred times while I was away. I've been back all morning! So, were you going to tell me?" Leo glared at Josh, who looked awkwardly down at the floor but said nothing. "She's my daughter, Josh, he beat her, you knew and said nothing!" Leo shouted. "Well?"

"I don't know what to say, Leo, she asked me not to tell you," Josh tried not to sound too defensive.

Leo put his glasses back on. "Her mother's taking her to the police this afternoon. Mason's back from Canada tonight. This is going to be in the press, so you'd better brief CJ, you seem to know more than me anyway." Leo's voice was completely neutral and Josh knew him well enough to realize that that wasn't good.

"She asked me not to say anything, Leo," Josh repeated. "She's my friend. If I'd told you, how was she going to trust me again?"

Leo's head snapped back up and he glared at his deputy. "Maybe you should ask yourself whether I'll trust you again," he said.

"Leo," Josh said in a stunned voice.

"Brief CJ."

Josh walked out of the office and leant on the wall, trying to steady his breathing. He'd been expecting Leo's fury, that he could handle. This though, this hurt. He took a deep breath and went to CJ's office.

"CJ, you got a minute?"

"Sure have, Joshua, and how are you on this lovely morning?"

"Fine," was Josh's unconvincing reply.

"What's happened?" CJ was suddenly serious.

Josh closed the door. "There's going to be a story breaking, probably this afternoon. Mallory's boyfriend, Adam Mason - the ice hockey player, he's going to be arrested."

"What did he do and how's Mal involved?"

"He hit her," Josh stated. "In fact, scrap that. He beat her. On Friday night before he left for a game in Canada."

"Christ, is she alright?"

"Yeah, I guess. She came to my place, I took her to GW. She's got some cracked and bruised ribs and a concussion, but she's okay." Josh though sounded thoroughly miserable.

"You've known about this since Friday night and you didn't say anything?"

"Oh for God's sake, CJ, don't you start. I've already taken Leo's beating," Josh interrupted and started to pace the small office.

CJ watched him, he looked awful. "Josh, sit down," she told him, sitting next to him on the couch. "I wasn't going to criticize. Did Mallory ask you not to tell Leo?" he nodded. "You're a good friend, Josh."

"Thanks," Josh smiled weakly.

"What did Leo say?" CJ could see that whatever it was had hurt Josh deeply.

Josh shook his head and stood up. "Doesn't matter. I'll see you later."

Josh walked back to his office, with Leo's words still ringing in his ears. "Josh," Donna called as he passed her desk. "Josh, JOSH!" he ignored her and walked into his office, slamming the door after him.

"I think Donna was trying to warn you I was here," Leo said, making Josh jump. Leo stood and looked at Josh. "There's no one I trust more than I trust you. I shouldn't have said what I said. I'm sorry."

Josh felt a range of emotions sweep over him, relief being the strongest. "That's okay," he said.

"No, it isn't. I was angry but I shouldn't have taken it out on you. I was just so angry. You're the one who helped Mallory, not hurt her. I am sorry."

"Honestly, Leo, it's okay, I understand. When I saw her on Friday night, I wanted to kill the bastard." Josh sat down. "Is Mal okay?"

"She says she's fine, I dunno. You think he's done this to her before?"

"No," replied Josh, "no, she would never have stayed with him," the last part came out as more of a question.

"That's what I thought," Leo agreed. "Josh, I really am sorry."

"Leo, it's fine. Honestly," Josh smiled.

Chapter 2......