TITLE: There Goes The Fear - Part 5
SUMMARY: Donna talks to Josh
SPOILERS: Personal stuff up to S3. Set in an a/u between S3 & S4.
CHARACTERS: Josh, 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......
For the third time in a week Donna finds herself wondering whether being at Josh's apartment is a good idea. He might not even be in. Amy might be with him. He might yell at her - again. She presses the buzzer and waits, nothing. She takes out her keys and opens the building's front door. She walks to Josh's apartment and knocks, still no answer. His car's outside so she's pretty sure he's in. She can't just let herself in, what if Amy is there? She's worried though. She takes out her cell phone and dials his number, voicemail, does the man ever turn his cell on? She tries the apartment, it rings and rings and answer phone. Damn. She hangs up and tries again, he picks up after the fifth ring.
"You're not answering your door."
"I was in the shower."
"Oh," now she feels stupid. "Can I come in?"
"Yeh hang on, I'll buzz you," Josh sounds resigned.
"I'm already in the building," she admits.
"OK. Well why didn't you just let yourself in?"
"You might not have been alone."
Josh hangs up the phone and opens the front door. "In case you'd forgotten Amy broke up with me," he tells Donna. "I'm just gonna put some clothes on," he says, marveling that he doesn't mind opening the door to Donna in just a towel.
A couple of minutes later Josh reappears in a pair of jeans and sweatshirt. "What can I do for you?" he asks, the coldness back in his voice.
"I know what you're doing," Donna tells him.
"What am I doing?"
"You think that if you push us all away, it won't hurt as much if something happens to us."
Josh laughs at that, although there's little humor in it. "That's what I think is it?" he asks. "You haven't got a clue have you."
"Well tell me then."
"Just go," he tells her.
"No. You've been pushing us all away all week. What's it achieved?" Donna shouts. Josh sits down on the couch and Donna follows, sitting in the armchair opposite. "Tell me what's going on," she says. Josh doesn't reply, he just looks at her and then down at his hands. "Josh, look at me. What did you mean when you said I should leave while I still can?"
"It was late," he says. "It sounds pathetic now."
"But you still said it."
"Look, forget I said it."
"OK," Donna agrees. "Josh," she begins tentatively, "do you still have feelings for Mandy?"
"No. I cared about her once, but no, I don't have feelings for her. Why?"
"Because you're taking her death very hard," Donna points out. She knows that it's not just Mandy's death that's hit Josh, but she hopes that this way may force him to open up.
"I know," he admits. "The way she died Donna, it was....... she must have been terrified."
"She may not have........."
"She'd have known the building was on fire. She'd have known she was trapped. She knew exactly what was happening."
Donna doesn't know what to say to Josh. He knows the fear of being trapped in a fire, he was lucky, he got out, but the fear and the guilt have never left him. Fire's the only thing that he's scared of. He's never shown any fear of getting shot again, when leaving buildings with the President, at least not fear for himself. The only thing that she knows Josh is truly terrified of, is fire. It's no coincidence that he lives in a first floor apartment. That he always knows where the emergency exits are in hotels and restaurants. That he takes the fire drill at work very seriously - even if he was once responsible for almost setting a room on fire, it wasn't intentional, and she saw the fear in his eyes when the alarms went off. Her apartment is on the second floor of an old building. When she moved in he made sure that the fire escape was easily accessible, although she didn't understand why at the time and thought he was being a little overly protective of her, she'd been touched none the less.
"Have you been sleeping?" she asks.
"Josh I know you have nightmares, I stayed here a lot after Rosslyn," Donna reminds him.
"Why would I dream about Rosslyn?" Josh replies, but he catches Donna look and sighs, "Yeh OK, maybe I've not been sleeping too well."
"Do you want to tell me about it?"
"You have to talk to someone."
"Why? I've never talked about them before."
"What about Stanley?" Donna asks.
Josh had forgotten that Donna knew about Dr Higham. He'd seen him for years, but had stopped when they took office, only having seen him once since then. "I can't see him."
"For the same reason I stopped seeing him in the first place," Josh replies impatiently. "The Deputy Chief Of Staff of the White House can't see a therapist."
"Well that's just crap," Donna snaps. "You've seen him since we took office and what about ATVA? Come to think of it, if you can't call Dr Higham, what about Dr Keyworth or Richard?"
Josh gives a humorless laugh. "So that's three therapists I've got on the go," he replies. "Do you know how that'd look in the press? And I can just see Leo and the President's faces."
"Can't you just forget your job for a minute?" Donna asks angrily. "Think about you for once. Screw the administration, screw the President. If you won't talk to one of us, then you have to talk to either Stanley or Richard."
Although Josh knows she's right, he also knows that it's not that easy. "You've never had therapy have you?" he asks.
"Which is quite amazing when you consider that you've worked for me for four years," he smiles.
"I know," she agrees with a smile. She actually allows herself to hope that she's getting through to him.
"Do you know how hard it is to talk to a stranger about your feelings and fears. I dunno, maybe that's just me," he sighs. "Hell I can't talk to my friends and family about that stuff." Which isn't entirely true. There have been two people in his life that he could talk to about his deepest fears. But his grandfather's been dead for 15 years and Donna's too involved in this particular fear.
"You've done it before," Donna points out. "You talked to Dr Higham and Dr Keyworth and Richard."
"It took nine hours for me to tell Dr Keyworth how I cut my hand. As for the first Stanley," he smiles a little "it took me nearly eight years to tell him how Joanie died."
"How did you manage to talk to him for eight years without telling him the reason?"
"I didn't see him constantly for eight years. I'd see him maybe three or four time a year. I told you I'm not very good at therapy," he smiles a little sheepishly.
"Talk to me then," Donna tells him.
"It's getting late Donna, you should go home."
Donna sees that the shutters are about to come back down and decides it's time for a break. She stands up, goes to the kitchen and makes two coffees.
Josh takes the coffee of her with a feeling of relief. He'd thought for a minute that she was going to do as he said, and leave.
"Do you want anything to eat?" she asks.
Josh shakes his head, "You have something though if you want."
"No," Donna replies, sitting back down. "Talk to me."
"Donna please, I can't."
"I'm not leaving until you do."
"Then you'll be here a long time," Josh has returned to denial mode, and the coldness is back in his voice.
"Fine," Donna replies, turning the TV on. They sit in silence for ten minutes until the phone rings. Josh ignores it. "You not going to answer that?" Donna asks.
"Doesn't look like it."
Donna sighs and picks up the handset, "Hello."
"Hi, how are you?" Donna asks.
"I'm fine, you?" Clara replies.
"Yeh I'm good. You want Josh?" she asks, which she realizes is a stupid question.
"I'm guessing he's ignoring the phone again. How is he?"
"Quiet," Donna replies, glancing at Josh. "We're sat in silence, watching a documentary on dolphins"
"Yeh, he won't let me change channels. He thinks that if he puts something on that he finds boring, I'll go home."
Josh glares at Donna. "Will you stop talking about me like I wasn't here."
"He's still in a good mood then," Clara comments. "Will you ring me later and let me know how he is?"
"I will," Donna agrees. "You want to speak to your mom?" she asks Josh.
Josh takes the phone off Donna and walks into the kitchen. He returns a few minutes later looking upset. "Why are you still here?" he asks Donna, though his tone is now more amazed than angry.
"I have no idea," Donna sighs. She watches Josh, "Are you alright?"
Clara had told Josh that he had to talk to someone, because if he didn't she was getting on a plane and coming to see him. She'd told him that she knew exactly what he was feeling. He'd argued that she couldn't possibly know. She'd pointed out that she knew as much about loss and guilt as he did, which he knows is true. He'd heard her talking to his grandfather one day. Josh may have run out of the house and left his sister, but his parents had left her in charge in the first place, while they'd gone out to a party. They'd never quite forgiven themselves for that, and for the guilt and pain that Josh was left with. It didn't matter that Joanie was nearly seventeen and perfectly capable of babysitting her brother, they still felt guilty.
"Josh. If you really want me to leave I will."
"I don't," Josh replies. He may have been pushing everyone away, but he really doesn't want to be alone. He has a strange feeling that if Donna leaves now, she may not come back.
"OK," Donna's relieved by that. "What did your mom say?"
"She threatened to come up here and kick my butt," he replies, attempting a small smile. But then he lapses back into a brooding silence.
"You've told me about the nightmare before Josh, why's it so hard now?" she asks him.
"Because this is different."
"I'm not alone," he replies quietly.
"Now you see Joanie?" Donna asks, but Josh shakes his head. "Mandy?" she guesses.
"Everyone," he says so quietly that she almost misses it. He looks at her. "Sam, Leo, Toby, CJ, my mom, you. When I look at the house, there's always one of you at the window, trapped and screaming for my help."
Donna puts her arm around his shoulders and tries to think how to respond to that. It's no good telling him that it's just a dream, that it can't hurt him. That's what you tell four year olds. "Let me make you an appointment with Richard. You're suppose to have follow ups anyway, you may as well have one next week."
"I don't need to, I can work through it myself."
"It's not a sign of weakness you know. Go and see him. If you don't want to talk about Mandy or the fire or the dreams then don't, although I really think you should."
"You're gonna make the appointment anyway aren't you?" he asks.
"Yeh, and I think you should tell Leo."
"I can't tell Leo."
"He's worried about you, Josh," Donna tells him.
Josh sighs and looks resigned. "Yeh OK." He knows Leo's worried, he wouldn't have called his mom otherwise. As for Richard, he does find him surprisingly easy to talk to.
"Good," Donna says, suddenly feeling better than she's felt all week. "Do you want some food now?"
"Yeh OK," he replies. They walk to the kitchen and Donna starts to make omelets. "Do you think I should go to the funeral?" he asks.
"Do you want to?"
"I dunno. Yeh, I think I should. We dated for three years, on and off. I think I should go."
Donna thinks about what to say next. She doesn't want Josh to think they've all been discussing him, even though they have. "Toby was saying that he might go."
"I didn't think Toby liked Mandy."
"He liked Mandy, he just didn't like the way she treated you. If that makes sense."
"Not really no," Josh smiles. "So what you're saying is I could go with Toby and he'll look after me?"
"Well it's in New York and we don't want you getting lost."
"Funny girl," Josh smiles a little.
"That'll be for you," Donna says as the phone starts ringing.
Josh wanders into the living room and picks up the receiver "Hello...... hey mom..... I'm waiting for Donna to finish making my dinner......."