Title: Look What Happened
Summary: The staff wait for news on Josh.
Episode: Post Season 2, ITSOTG1
Disclaimer: They all belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, John Wells and many others who aren't me.
"Look what happened," Jed said as he watched Josh's operation through the observation window. Leo though just stood and stared, lost in thought. Jed knew how hard this was for him, just as he knew that Leo would keep his feelings hidden - at least from those who didn't know him well. Josh was the son that Leo never had, almost as close and important to him as Mallory. He could see his old friend's face reflected in the glass, he seemed to have aged ten years in the last few hours.
When Leo had fired all his staff apart from Toby, Jed had been a little pissed. When Leo had then told him that he was hiring Josh Lyman, the son of an old friend, Jed became extremely pissed. "You fire the people I know and like, and then hire your friends. Just whose campaign is this?" It had taken him a while to get to know Josh, hell it had taken him a while to learn Josh's name. It didn't help when he realized that with Josh (and Sam, CJ and Toby) on the team, they were in with a very good chance of winning the nomination. A thought that scared the life out of him. When it seemed that they might win the Illinois Primary, all he could do was yell at them. Jed strongly suspected that the only reason Josh had stuck around was because of Leo, he'd certainly done nothing to endear himself to the young man. Then Josh's father had died, and suddenly everything was brought into perspective. Jed knew that he had to make sure that Josh was alright, and he'd followed him to the airport.
Abbey had been upset when she'd heard about Josh's father. She'd always taken the younger members of Jed's staff under her maternal wing. This time it'd been Sam and Josh that she'd fostered. She'd told him that Josh always found time for Zoey, who she strongly suspected had a small crush on her father's Senior Political Director. Josh though had treated Zoey as a younger sister, including her in trips for burgers and pizza. He had the patience to explain details about the campaign to her, even when he was snowed under with work. Jed had come to appreciate Josh's amazing grasp of political reality as well as his strategizing skills. He realized that Leo was right, Josh was a huge asset to the team, and when/if they made it to the White House, he'd make a good Deputy for Leo.
Now here they were, three years later, and look what had happened.
Leo couldn't see much through the observation window, couldn't actually tell if that was Josh lying there. There were doctors, nurses, monitors, equipment...... and blood, Josh's blood. He knew that Josh's condition was critical. That the doctors had given him a 25% chance of surviving the surgery. Even then he may not live through the crucial 12 hours after the operation, and there was a chance of brain damage. Leo wished with all his strength that he'd not asked Abbey about that. That he hadn't made her tell him. There were some things it was best not to know.
When the shooting had stopped and he was in the car heading back to the White House, the Secret Service agent had assured him that the President was fine. Leo had asked about Josh, aware that he should be in the car too, but the agent hadn't known. They were halfway back, when the car slowed and turned. The agent had told him that the President was on his way to GW and they'd been told to follow. He'd felt a wave of panic hit him then, a feeling of foreboding. When they got to GW, he'd rushed into Jed's room. He'd spoken to him, saw him joking with Zoey and felt relieved. He'd walked out of the room, spoken with Abbey and gone to talk to Gina. When the alarm went off he'd glanced at the door, but carried on talking. Then he'd heard "gunshot, no exit," and somehow he'd just known. The sick feeling he'd had in the car when he'd asked about The President and Josh, the panic when the car had turned and headed for GW, they were nothing compared this. Call it intuition, call it whatever the hell you wanted, but he knew before he'd heard, "It's Josh," and the nightmare had begun. Nobody knew what had happened, where Josh had been, and the doctors wouldn't tell him what was going on.
Leo remembered when he first met Josh, the cheeky, 8 year old son of a work colleague. He'd been working as an intern at a law firm in Connecticut, one of the associates had been asked to show him around. Him and Noah Lyman had hit it off from the start. A couple of days later, when he'd seen Noah flying kites with a teenage girl and a young boy, he'd stopped to talk. Mallory, with all the confidence of a 3 year old, had wanted to hold the kite. Josh had let her hold the reel, though he stood right behind and held on too, she'd loved it. Leo had had his camera with him and had taken a picture of them. Then he took one of Josh and Joanie and one of the three of them. It was a hot day and him and Noah sat on the grass and talked while the kids played, it had been a perfect summer day. But a few weeks later Joanie was dead and Josh was standing, stunned, at her graveside. That was thirty years ago, a lot had happened to all of them since then. Making the phone call earlier to Clara Lyman, to tell her that her son was in surgery in a critical condition, that was one of the hardest things he'd ever done.
"When's his mother getting here?" Jed asked.
"A couple of hours, Mallory's picking her up," Leo replied, looking away from the operation. "We should get you back to bed, Mr President."
Mallory sat quietly in the waiting room with Abbey. "Will you pick Clara up from the airport?" her father had asked. Of course she'd agreed, Clara would need a friendly face at the moment. Mallory had known the Lymans for as long as she could remember, longer than the Bartlets.
One of her earliest memories, the ones that are yours rather than what someone had told you, was of following Josh to the fair. She'd watched him and his friends walk past the house and had sneaked out of the yard and followed them. The fair was only a few streets away, but that was a huge adventure when you were five, and she was a little scared. She was hiding, unsuccessfully as it turned out, behind a stall, watching them as they queued for a ride. Josh had spotted her and walked over. He'd wanted to know where her parents were. When she told him she'd come alone he'd seemed annoyed and had wanted to take her home. She'd started to cry, so he'd agreed to take her on one ride. They'd gone on the dodgems, which she'd probably been too young for, but she'd loved it. When they'd arrived back at her house, her parents were frantic and had been about to call the police. They'd shouted at them and called Josh's parents, who were also angry. But he'd just grinned at her and winked. She'd felt really grown up that day, to be a co-conspirator with an eleven year old. She'd found out years later, that he'd told his parents what had happened when he got home. He'd asked them not to say anything, because she was in enough trouble. Seeing how much trust her father has in Josh now, she guesses that he either knew or had long ago forgiven Josh, knowing her dad she thinks he knew all along.
"Mallory," Abbey said. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah," she smiled weakly. "I was just remembering when I first met Josh."
'White House staffers seem rocked on their heels' a press report had said. What the hell did they expect? Sam thought, they'd just been shot at. Thank God the President was going to be fine. But Josh, Josh could still die.
Josh was more than his best friend, he was like a brother. Sam was closer to him than to either of his sisters. When the shooting had stopped he'd known that CJ was okay, he could see Toby and Charlie. An agent told him that the President, Leo and Josh were on their way back to the White House. He didn't think to check. Then he'd heard Toby's anguished shout for help and he'd known. He ran with CJ to where Toby was knelt over Josh's limp, bleeding body. He'd been sure he was dead. He stood there, helpless, not knowing what to do. Knowing only that he couldn't imagine a world without Josh Lyman.
They'd first met thirteen years ago when Sam was working as an intern in Washington, before starting at Duke. He was staying with a friend of his mother, but it wasn't working out. A guy he worked with was leaving to take a job at a law firm in Chicago. He felt bad about leaving his roommate in the lurch, and Sam was more than happy to take over the rent for the summer. He'd gone to the apartment on a Sunday afternoon and introduced himself to Josh Lyman. Josh was on his way to a meeting and had told Sam to make himself at home. The apartment was small - a messy living room, kitchen and bathroom and two bedrooms. As Sam moved his stuff into the empty bedroom, he'd wondered what he was letting himself in for. He liked things to be tidy and ordered, Josh obviously liked, well, chaos. He spent the the afternoon tidying the apartment. When Josh arrived home, he threw his backpack on the couch and went and got changed. "Hey, did we hire a cleaner?" he asked, as he walked through the living room. Sam had looked at him worriedly, "Sorry, I just thought I'd tidy......" he'd stammered, then he noticed that Josh was grinning. "Probably about time someone did," Josh had laughed. "You want to go and get a beer and something to eat?" Him and Josh had been friends ever since. Even when they lived in different cities, they'd always been close, had always been there for each other.
Sam glanced at Toby's office, but the blinds were closed.
Toby was sitting with his head in his hands, he could still feel Josh's blood on his fingers. When he closed his eyes, all he could see was the look of fear in Josh's eyes as he tried to talk and then collapsed. Toby had been terrified then, had struggled to find a pulse, to find some indication that Josh was still alive. He put his hands on the wound, trying to stop the bleeding. CJ had arrived first, she'd hesitated for a second and then taken Toby's jacket, as she too tried to stop the blood that was draining Josh's life away. Sam's shocked face, his muffled "God no," had brought tears to Toby's eyes. Still no medics came. Charlie had taken one look at the scene before him and run to fetch help. Then the paramedics took over and everything was a blur. Sam had gone in the ambulance, while he, CJ and Charlie had followed behind in a police car.
He turned to look out of the window and thought of all the crap he'd said to Josh over the years. He didn't make much effort to get along with Josh when they first started working together. He'd met plenty of Washington high flyers, who'd been to the right schools and had friends in the right places. But after a few weeks he'd found that most of the time Josh knew what he was talking about, and when he didn't, he wasn't afraid to ask for help. He discovered that him and Josh had the same views on many subjects, and that Josh made a very good ally. Talking to him, on CJ's orders, he'd found that Josh hadn't stumbled into politics. He'd gone to Harvard and Yale and had studied harder than everyone else, because this was the only career he'd ever wanted. Now, three years later, Toby not only enjoyed working with Josh, he thought of him as one of his closest friends.
"Toby," Sam put his head round the door. "I'm going back to the hospital. You coming?"
CJ normally loved her job, but there were some briefings she hated to give. Telling the world that one of her closest friends was in surgery, in a critical condition, certainly ranked at the top of that list.
She went back to her office and fed Gail, feeling tears in her eyes. Danny had bought her Gail because Josh had told him that she liked Goldfish. Trust Josh not to specify that it was the crackers she liked, not the actual fish, he'd always been an idiot. She smiled fondly to herself, remembering the secret plan to fight inflation. From the first time she met Josh she'd liked him. True, he was cocky and arrogant, with an ego that needed its own zip code, but beneath that she could see he was sweet and vulnerable and very funny. He was one of the few men she'd ever managed to be truly good friends with, without wondering what his motives were, without there being any sexual tension. There were times when he tried her patience beyond belief. The time he'd gone on TV and insulted Mary Marsh and millions of the Christian Right and when he'd neglected to tell her about Sam and the call girl, then she could have killed him..... God, that was a bad choice of words!
She drew a steadying breath and walked to the window, trying to get the image of Josh, bleeding and struggling for breath, out of her head. The one thing that she'd learnt above all about Josh Lyman, is that he was a fighter. He didn't give up on something he believed in and cared about. She also knew that the one thing he cared about, more than anything, was his family and friends. CJ really believed, has to believe, that he wouldn't do anything to hurt them. His dying would kill them all - his mother, Leo, Sam, Toby, the President, Zoey, Abbey, Charlie, herself - everyone, and Josh just wouldn't do that to them. That thought is the one thing that was keeping her going through this nightmare.
"I don't have anymore for you, Danny, not yet," she said, wiping her eyes.
Danny saw the tears and walked over to CJ. "That's not why I'm here. He's my friend too. He's a fighter, CJ, he'll make it through this." With that he wrapped his arms around CJ and hugged her, feeling his own eyes fill with tears.