TITLE: There Goes The Fear - Part 1
AUTHOR: Willow
SUMMARY: Leo has to give Josh some bad news.
SPOILERS: Personal stuff up to S3. Set in an a/u between S3 & S4.
CHARACTERS: Leo, Josh and Donna.
RATING: PG - Angst. Character Death (though it's a character who's long been assigned to 'The Land Of The Lost'.)
DISCLAIMER: They belong to NBC, Warner Bros, John Wells......


Leo turns over and looks sleepily at the clock, 2.47am. He answers the phone with a slightly grumpy, "McGarry."

"Leo, it's CJ."

"Yeh."

"Are you awake?"

"Well I am now. What's happened?" he asks, knowing that CJ would only phone him in the middle of the night if something serious was going on.

"I got a call a couple of hours ago from Steve, it's taken me 'til now to confirm that what he told me was correct." CJ pauses, hating to be the bearer of bad news. "Leo. Mandy died yesterday evening."

Leo's suddenly wide awake. "Does Josh know?"

"No, I wanted to talk to you first," CJ replies.

"Yeh. Do we know what happened?" Leo asks, as he gets out of bed and goes to the closet.

"Did you see in the news, about a fire in a diner in New York?"

"Oh God," Leo's stunned. "She died in a fire?"

"Yeh," CJ replies. "Her and another woman were trapped in the bathroom."

"Jesus." Leo sits back down and rubs his eyes.

"I know," CJ sighs. "It's a horrible way to die. I mean they say that the fumes get to you first, but you still know what's going to happen."

"Please don't say that to Josh."

"Of course I won't," CJ sounds a little hurt, but feels she should point out, "I don't think they've spoken for nearly two years."

"I know," Leo agrees. "But Josh's sister died in a fire when he was a kid."

Josh had told CJ that his sister had died when he was young, but he didn't say how. "I didn't know," she replies.

"Give me the details CJ, I'll go round and tell him," Leo says. "Can you tell the Sam and Toby?"

"Yeh. What about Donna?"

"I'll call her once I've seen Josh."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Josh closes the door and follows Leo into the apartment. "What's happened?" he asks, a little nervously. It's 3.15am, and Leo wouldn't be here unless something serious was going on.

"Sit down," Leo says. He knows that there's no point in going round the houses. He has to tell Josh and it might as well be quick. The thing is though, whenever he has to give bad news, there's always a part of him that wonders whether what he's saying is true. That thinks he may have got it wrong, that he's causing someone pain and it's a mistake. Maybe everyone feels like that, he doesn't know.

Josh is starting to get worried. From the look on Leo's face, something terrible has happened, something that Leo doesn't want to tell him. "For God sake Leo," he pleads. "Is it my mom?"

"No. Your mom's fine," Leo says. He hesitates and then says, "Mandy died yesterday evening."

Josh is quiet for a moment, trying to sort out his feelings. He and Mandy had dated for three years, on and off. It was a stormy relationship, but then that's the kind of relationship that Josh always seems to have. He did care about her though. He knows the others where disgusted when she left so quickly after Rosslyn, but she visited him in the hospital, and she called him a few times when he first came home. Since then he hasn't seen or heard from her. But he did care about her once. "What happened?" he asks.

"Did watch the news tonight?"

"There was nothing interesting. I think I would have remembered if it had been on CNN, Leo."

Leo sighs. If Mandy had died in a car crash, Josh would have been upset, Leo knows that. Even if you haven't seen someone for a couple of years, you're still going to be shocked at the very least by their death. Josh is too familiar with death and, although he'd have been upset, no one else would have known. But for Mandy to have died in a fire........

"Leo?" Josh interrupts Leo's thoughts.

"She was at a diner in New York. Her and a friend had gone to the bathroom. It was at the back of the building. It was an old building." Leo hesitates, 'so much for telling him quickly,' he thinks. "The kitchen caught on fire, it spread quickly." Leo sits next to Josh, who's unnaturally still. "They were trapped," he adds needlessly. Josh is still not moving or saying anything. Leo starts with the usual attempt at comfort that people give when someone dies in a fire. "The fumes......."

"Yeh I know," Josh interrupts. "The fumes will have got to her first. She'd have been unconscious, she wouldn't have known what was happening." He looks down at his hands and tries to take deep breaths.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Donna stands outside Josh's building, wondering whether she should have phoned first. Leo was concerned enough to call and ask her to check on Josh, but she still isn't sure she should be here, Josh had virtually thrown Leo out in his haste to be alone.

She takes a deep breath and presses the buzzer. Predictably maybe, there's no answer. She takes out the keys that Josh gave her while he was recovering, that he's probably forgotten she's still got, and lets herself into the building. She walks along the short corridor and knocks gently on Josh's front door. It's 4.30 in the morning, she doesn't want to wake the rest of the building. When he doesn't open the door she puts her key in the lock, praying that the security chain and deadlock aren't on. As usual, they aren't. Walking into the dark apartment, she closes the door.

"Josh?" she calls as she reaches for the light switch.

"Don't turn it on," says a voice from the couch.

"Are you alright?"

"I told Leo I didn't want anyone coming round."

"He was worried about you, so am I," Donna replies, walking over to the couch, as her eyes become accustomed to the dark. "Are you alright?" she repeats.

"Yeh I'm just great Donna."

"Josh........."

"I hadn't seen her in nearly two years, it's not like we'd been close for over a year before that. Why wouldn't I be alright?"

"Then why are you sitting in the dark?" Donna asks, standing behind the couch, not too sure what to do.

"Couldn't sleep," comes the quiet reply.

"You want to talk?"

"What about?"

"Anything."

Josh is quiet for a moment before he turns and looks at Donna. "You should probably leave you know, while you still can."

Donna can't see his face clearly enough to read his expression. "I don't think you should be alone right now."

"Even if I want to be?" he snaps. Then he adds quietly, "Anyway, I didn't mean just now."

"I don't understand."

"Go home Donna," Josh says, turning back round and looking down at the empty glass he's holding.

Donna walks round the couch and sits down next to him. She puts her hand on his arm, but he pulls away like he's been burnt. "Josh?" she says anxiously.

"Don't....." comes the choked reply.

"Josh, I just want to help you. I'm sorry. If you want to be alone, I'll leave and come back later."

Josh stares at Donna. "I don't want you to come back at all," he says, his voice hardening. He puts the glass down and stands up. "I don't want anyone."

"OK. But let me make you a drink before I go," she replies, trying to calm him down.

Josh walks to the door. "Just leave me alone. Jesus, how hard is it for you to understand? I don't need anyone." He repeats slowly, opening the apartment door, "Go home."

Donna stands and walks out of the apartment, trying to remain calm, to not panic about what he plans to do once she's left. "Please Josh, you have to talk to someone, don't shut yourself away."

"I don't need therapy Donna, I need to be alone," he says, closing the door after her. She listens, but she doesn't hear the deadlock fasten.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Continued ..............