Title: Facing Demons
Summary: Josh has to face his demons if he's going to defeat them.
Episode: Post season 2, 'Somebody's Going To Emergency, Somebody's Going To Jail'.
Disclaimer: They all belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, John Wells and many others who aren't me.
"You got a minute?" Leo asked, walking into Josh's office and closing the door.
"Yeah," Josh replied warily as he tried to remember what he'd done wrong recently.
"Where have you been the last couple of hours?"
"World Policy Studies Forum, with Toby."
"Because you said I should feel free to go to as many of the cheese assignments as I could," Josh replied with a smile. "I believe it's my punishment for calling it 'Crackpots Day'."
Leo couldn't help but smile at that. "So who else's did you go to?"
"I sat in Donna's thing for about five minutes, but I had to leave 'cos I thought they'd be offended if I fell asleep. Then I had a fascinating time in Ed's 'Citizens for DC Statehood' meeting. And CJ's map makers where a little freaky, it turns out that Germany isn't where we think it is." Josh smiled,"You know it was over a year ago now, haven't I been punished enough?"
"Nah, I think another four or five years should do it," Leo smiled. Then he looked seriously at Josh, "You feeling alright?"
"When did that start again?" Josh asked.
"When you decided to go to and listen to Toby."
"Leo, I'm fine," Josh sighed. "You can't keep me away from crowds for the rest of my life."
"So you're okay?"
"And when you were there?"
"Yeah," Josh replied with slightly less conviction.
"Josh!" Leo sighed.
"I was a little nervous at first," Josh reluctantly admitted, "but it was fine."
"Why'd you go?"
"You didn't say I couldn't. Nobody's actually told me about the, 'keep Josh away from crowds and music', scheme you've all got going on." Josh smiled at the look on Leo's face. "Did you think I wouldn't notice?"
"No, I knew you would," Leo admitted. "But you haven't answered my question."
"Because I had to. I can't do my job without facing crowds. And while we're on the subject, I have to leave a building with the president at some point as well."
"I know. I didn't want to push you."
"I appreciate that," Josh smiled slightly. "But you all have to stop trying to protect me."
"You saying you're okay now then?"
Josh considered how to answer that, deciding that complete honesty was probably a bad idea. He was still having nightmares, and the flashbacks and panic were still around, only now he could sense when it was going to happen and he could control it. On the other hand, lying to Leo really wouldn't work, so he compromised and settled on, "No. But I never will be if I don't face stuff," he admitted. "You want the truth? Walking through that crowd today, to where Toby was, scared the crap out of me. But when we left and they started throwing fruit at us, a piece of which hit me by the way," he smiled, "I wasn't scared anymore." Which wasn't entirely true, but he had felt much more relaxed.
Leo nodded; he should have expected as much from the man who, when he was 9, skipped school to go back to the house where his sister had died, and where he nearly had too, because he needed to see it. "What you doing now then?" Leo decided on a change of subject.
"Toby and I are gonna get Sam drunk," Josh smiled.
"How is he?"
"I don't know, I can't read him. He's shutting everyone out."
"Annoying when people you care about do that isn't it?" Leo asked with a straight face.
Josh grinned. "So I'm not in trouble then?"
"No," Leo smiled. "Go and get Sam drunk and don't let him come in tomorrow. He slept on Toby's couch last night."
"He went to Toby's?"
"No," Leo said. "He slept on the couch in Toby's office."
"You're kidding me? He told me he was going home."
"Well he lied." Leo stood up, "I'll see you on Monday."
"Yeah, see you," Josh replied. "Leo," he called, Leo stopped at the door and turned. "Thanks," Josh smiled.
"For what?" Leo asked.
"Looking out for me," Josh shrugged.
"I'm telling you it completely freaked me out," CJ said, taking a drink from her beer.
"Upside down?" Josh asked. "But that would make north south and south north."
"But north and south are human terms. There's nothing in nature to say that north has to up and south down," Donna told them.
"That's what my compass shows," Sam pointed out.
"Who made your compass?" Donna asked.
"Good point," Sam nodded. "But still, for navigation there has to some uniform definition of the poles."
"Speaking as a sailor there Samuel?" CJ asked with a smile.
"Cos navigation really isn't your strong point," Toby added.
"I'm good at navigation," Sam protested.
"Yet you couldn't find your way from Westchester airport to Wesley," Toby asked.
"I thought it was a star. Anyway," Sam turned to Josh, "if someone had helped instead of hanging up the phone."
"I was a little busy. And I don't actually know where every town in Connecticut is," Josh told him.
"Where'd you disappear to anyway?" CJ asked Josh.
"When you left me with the map makers."
"I went to see how Toby was getting on."
"You were hoping for a laugh," Toby tells him.
"Yes," Josh agreed. "And instead I got pelted with banana," he grinned.