Title: The Not Knowing
Author: Willow
Summary:
Josh looks after Charlie while they wait for news on Zoey.
Episode: Post season 4, '25'.
Characters: Josh and Charlie, some Sam, some ensemble.
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: They all belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, John Wells and many others who aren't me.


Josh turned the light on and walked into his apartment, throwing his backpack on the couch, while Charlie stood defiantly in the doorway. Josh glanced at him, walked into the kitchen and asked, "You want a drink?"

"I want to go back to the White House."

"So you keep saying."

"So let me go."

"I'm not stopping you."

"This is ridiculous," Charlie complained.

"Yes it is," Josh agreed.

Charlie closed the apartment door and stood watching Josh. "We could have just waited in our cars."

"For five hours?"

"Yes."

"Which wouldn't have been more ridiculous?" Josh asked.

Charlie walked into the lounge and sat on the couch. "I should be doing something," he said. He turned the television on and sat watching the news. He flicked between channels, but there was only one story being covered tonight. "I should be doing something," he repeated, more to himself than Josh.

Josh handed him a coffee. "There's nothing we can do."

"I know," Charlie sighed. He stared at the TV, at a picture of Zoey taken a couple of years ago. "Why did I let her go to the club?"

"She's a grown woman, how could you have stopped her?"

"I wanted to hit him," Charlie told Josh. "John Paul," he clarified, "I should have hit him."

"Would that have helped?" Josh asked.

"Would have made me feel better."

"Really?"

"No." Charlie admitted. He turned to Josh, "I'm sorry by the way."

"For what?"

"Almost hitting you, outside the club."

"Not for getting me soaking in the brook then?" Josh smiled slightly.

Charlie returned the smile. "Nah, that bit was fun."

They both watched the news for a few minutes, until the home movies of Zoey as a child start again. Charlie grabbed the remote and switched the TV off.

Josh looked back down at Charlie. "If you want to get some sleep...... "

"I love her," Charlie interrupted him.

"I know."

"If they don't get her back...... "

"They will,"

"You can't know that, not for sure."

"No," Josh reluctantly agreed.

"It's the not knowing that's the worst," Charlie said, looking down at his hands.

Josh didn't know what to say. He squeezed Charlie's shoulder and picked up the ringing phone. "Hello?"

"Hey, Josh."

"Hey, Sam, how you doing?"

"I'm fine. Are you okay?"

"Yeah."

"I tried your cell phone..... "

In the confusion of the last few hours, Josh had completely forgotten that Sam had called him. "God, Sam, I'm sorry, I'm sending most stuff to voicemail, I meant to call you back, but it's been chaos," he apologized.

"Then why are you at home?"

"We've been sent home for a few hours."

"But that's......"

"Ridiculous," Josh finished.

"Yeah," Sam agreed. "Josh, what happened?"

"I know as much as you do."

"I know you can't tell me what's going on now. I mean, how did this happen?"

"I wish I knew," Josh sighed. "Charlie and I were outside the club but, I don't know."

"You outside the club?"

"Charlie had met with Zoey earlier," Josh told him.

"How is Charlie?"

"He's okay. He's here."

"Hey, Sam," Charlie called.

"You look after him," Sam told Josh.

"I will."

"I know you will." Sam was quiet for a second, before saying, "I miss you."

"Me too," Josh replied.

"We should get together," Sam suggested. "When Zoey's back and things have calmed down. You come here, or I'll come there."

"Yeah," Josh agreed.

"This'll all be okay you know," Sam assured him.

"God I hope so, Sam," Josh replied. "It is good to hear from you, you know," he said quietly, trying to keep the catch out of his voice. He really wished that Sam were here now. He's missed him enormously over the last few months and now, with tonight's events, his emotions are threatening to spill over.

"I just wanted to check you were okay," Sam said. When Will had called him and told him what had happened, his first thoughts had obviously been for the Bartlets, and then he thought of Josh. Josh, who had always treated Zoey like a sister and who always managed to blame himself, when bad things happened to people he cared about. And then he'd worried about Charlie, who'd loved Zoey from the moment he met her.

"Tell him about Toby," Charlie told Josh.

Josh smiled. "Hey, Sam, have you spoken to Toby?" he asked.

"No. Is he okay?"

"Oh yeah," Josh replied. "The twins were born last night."

"You're kidding!" Sam laughed, then he sounded concerned, "Are they okay? They're early aren't they?"

"Yeah they're fine. Ten days early, but fine. They're calling them Huck, after Andi's grandfather, and Molly."

"Molly, I like that," Sam said. "But I thought Toby wanted to name the girl after his mom?"

"He named her for Zoey's agent, the one who was killed."

"Of course," Sam sighed. "That's nice," he said, before admitting, "Though I don't know if I'd name a baby after someone who'd just died. I mean as a middle name yeah but, I think that's probably just me," he trailed off.

"It's a Jewish tradition," Josh told him. "To name babies after the dead."

"I didn't know that," Sam said. "I'll call him."

"He'll be at the hospital. He's been running between the White House and there all night."

"Who'd have thought it, Toby the proud father."

"I know," Josh smiled.

"I should go and let you get some sleep."

"I don't think that's very likely."

"You need to sleep," Sam told Josh, with a note of concern in his voice.

"I'll be fine," Josh assured him.

"Okay," Sam replied, knowing that there was no point in pushing Josh, and also knowing that Donna would look after him, while he looked after Charlie. "Take care of Charlie, and when you see The President and First Lady, tell them I'm thinking of them."

"I will," Josh told him. "Take it easy. I'll talk to you later."

"You too. Bye, Josh."

Josh hung up and stared into space for a moment, until Charlie interrupted his thoughts.

"Are you named after someone?"

Josh looked back at Charlie. "Sorry?"

"Who are you named after?"

"My grandfather," Josh told him. "My mom's father," he clarified.

Charlie smiled, "Me too."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. There's been a lot of Charles's in my family." Charlie looked at his watch, "When can we go back?"

Josh checks the time on the VCR. "Another four hours," Josh told him. "You want some food?"

Charlie shook his head.

"Me either," Josh agreed. Although he was hungry, he really didn't have the energy, or for that matter the interest, to cook anything.

"What do you think the Speaker's doing?" Charlie asked.

Josh smiled at Charlie's refusal to refer to Acting President Walken as anything other than, 'the Speaker'. "Most likely he's changing the locks," he suggested.

Josh and Charlie sat and drink their coffee in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Charlie wishing that he'd kept Zoey in the Arboretum, wishing that he'd told her one last time that he loved her. He knew he shouldn't think like that, but it was hard. It was all very well saying that the city was locked down, that there was no way out - but they still hadn't found her.

Josh was trying hard not to think about what the Bartlet's are going through, but he'd called his mother earlier and he remembered far too vividly what his parents went through when they lost Joanie. No matter how often he told himself that Zoey was only missing, that she would be found alive and well, there was a part of him, the part that leant at early age that terrible things can happen to the ones you love, that was terrified she wasn't coming back.

Their thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the apartment door, and Donna, Toby, CJ and Will walked in. "Hey," CJ smiled.

"We've bought food," Toby said.

"Thought you'd be at the hospital?" Josh asked.

"No," Toby told him, with a slight smile. "Apparently babies need to sleep, even if I don't."

Josh smiled, "You just missed Sam."

"Here?" Will asked.

"On the phone," Charlie told him.

"Ah," Will smiled.

"What food have you got?" Josh asked.

CJ placed the bags on the table, "It's a mixture," she told him.

Charlie stood up and walked to the table, "Then let's eat," he said.

Donna and Will took the food out of the bags. "Leo still at the White House?" Donna asked.

"Yeah, he's in the Residence," Josh told her, as he walked to the kitchen for plates and cutlery.

Donna followed him. "You okay?" she asked.

"No," Josh replied. "You?"

Donna studied his face for a moment. He looked tired and upset, but that was understandable. "Me either," she admitted.

Josh fetched plates and drinks, and they sat around eating the food and talking about nothing. Each of them praying for their pagers to go off, or for their cell phones to ring, with the news that Zoey was safe and well. After an hour they each took turns to have a shower and freshen up, and then they decided that enough was enough. Josh phoned Leo, who told him that there was no news and that the President and Abbey were supposedly resting, but really they were sat in silence, waiting. Ellie and Liz has been told to stay where they were for now, for security reasons. Josh told him that they were all coming back in, regardless of what the Acting President said, and Leo agreed with him.

"Come on then," Toby said, standing and heading to the door.

They all followed him out of the apartment. Josh turned the light off and closed the door.

END