Title: Trouble On The Way
Summary: Josh has just found out about the president's MS.
Episode: Post season 2, 'Bad Moon Rising'.
Characters: Josh and Toby
Disclaimer: They all belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, John Wells and many others who aren't me.
Toby was sat in Josh's deserted bullpen, reading a newspaper and waiting for Josh to return from his meeting with Leo and the President. When he saw the desk lamp turn on in the office, he walked to the door and asked, "You alright?"
Josh carried on staring of the window. "Peachy," he replied.
"How long have you known?"
"Three days," Toby replied. "I couldn't tell you."
Josh turned to face Toby, "That's what was going on the other night while we were doing the speech?" his tone was completely neutral.
"Yeah, I couldn't say anything," Toby repeated.
"I didn't expect you to," Josh assured him, sitting down behind his desk and staring at the pile of work waiting to be looked at.
"So?" Toby asked again. "Are you okay?"
Josh took a deep breath and looked up at Toby. "No. You?"
"Better now I know."
"You're not serious?"
"Yes." Toby sat in the visitor's chair and watched Josh, but he couldn't read him. "I wasn't exactly sympathetic when he told me. In fact I shouted at him, but he shouted right back." Toby was still trying to gauge Josh's mood. "You?"
"Did I yell?" Josh asked. "This is gonna sound pretty naive, but when he told me I thought, 'Why are you telling me this? it's private, I really don't need to know.' Of course then it hit me - Hoynes speaking out against Oil and making that speech in New Hampshire, he was setting himself up as the next candidate."
"Yeah," Toby agreed.
"You think he'll run again?"
"He might not get the chance."
"He won't resign," Josh protested.
"Even so, he might not get the nomination."
"I guess," Josh agreed.
Toby had been relieved when Leo had said the President was going to speak to Josh that evening. He'd hated being the only one who knew and he'd wanted to discuss it with someone who could work out the political implications, someone who could separate personal feelings from political reality. Out of all the staff, that someone could only be Josh. Or so he'd thought. Now here he was, sat in Josh's office, and suddenly he wasn't so sure. Josh had thrown down all the shutters and Toby hadn't got a clue what he was thinking.
Josh looked at his watch, 10.45. An hour and a half ago he was still in ignorant bliss. He knew something was bothering Toby, but he'd never imagined this. He knew Toby wanted to discuss where they go from here, but he hadn't got a clue. After the President told him he had MS, Josh had been stunned and a little upset. He felt like someone had punched him, he felt like he had when his father told him he had cancer. They talked about MS, and it was while the President was telling him the difference between relapsing remitting and progressive, about how the first can become the second, that it hit him. The president never intended to seek a second term. He knew the anger must have flashed across his face for a brief a moment before he got it under control, because he could see the look on Leo's face that seemed to say, 'There it is.' Once the meeting was over he knew Leo wanted to see him, but he couldn't face it. Instead he'd walked back to his own office in a daze.
"So what do you think we do?" Toby asked.
Josh focused on Toby again, shook his head and shrugged. He stood and walked to the fridge in the next office, took out two beers and handed one to Toby. "I really have no idea," he admitted. "You've had longer to think about it, what do you think?"
"We need to work out how to tell the public."
"He needs to tell the rest of the staff first," Josh pointed out.
"Yeah," Toby agreed, taking a drink from the beer.
"This is gonna be a nightmare, Toby. For all of us."
"You want to know what my initial, gut reaction to this is?" Josh asked.
"We're screwed?" Tony guessed.
"We're screwed," Josh agreed. He drank his beer and turned to look out of the window for a few minutes, before turning back and asking, "Why were you angry?"
"He lied to us. He should have told us during the campaign. He should have let us know what we were signing on for," Toby replied.
Josh sighed and put his beer down on the desk. "He should have told us that this was a one term deal. He didn't have to tell us why. But he should have told us that."
"He didn't have to tell us why!" Toby shouted. "What the hell, Josh? Of course he should have told us why."
"It's none of our business." Josh replied.
"You're not serious? Josh, he......."
Josh cut Toby off, "He should have told us it was one term only," he repeated. "All the stuff we've not done because we were thinking about re-election. The things we could have got done if we'd known that re-election wasn't an issue. That what's pissing me off. I don't want to know about his health..... "
"You don't think his health is important? He's the most powerful man in the world, Josh. Don't you think that it's of slight importance that someone with his power has this illness......?"
"Well as long the public think like you, we'll be just fine," Josh snapped.
Toby sighed, "What if he had an episode while in the Situation Room, Josh?" he asked. "What if he wasn't capable of making a life or death decision, because he was ill? When he collapsed before the State Of The Union, when India and Pakistan were on the brink of war, that was an episode."
"Fitzwallace and Leo were with him in the Situation Room."
"Who elected them?" Toby asked. "They can't override an order from the president. No matter how much influence Leo has, he still can't disobey an order from the president. Look at the mess after Rosslyn. He'd not signed the 25th, no one was in charge."
"I was kinda busy with something else at the time," Josh replied. "And he wasn't shot because he has MS."
"I know that, but what if he has an episode and isn't capable of signing power over, what the hell happens then?" Toby demanded. "If we'd known we could have had some kind of contingency plan."
"You could say that about any President. People don't tend to have time to sign over power before they have heart attacks or strokes. That's not a problem of MS, it's a problem with the Constitution."
"One that's suddenly become a hell of a lot more important," Toby replied.
Josh ran his hands through his hair, suddenly feeling very tired. "I know," he agreed. "I can't think about this now."
"It's not going to go away," Toby argued. "We have to think about it sometime."
"Yeah, just not tonight. I need to get my head around it first. We'll talk tomorrow," Josh promised. "I'm going home."
Toby was about to argue, but he realized that Josh was right. He'd had three days to think about this and he still hadn't got a clue. Josh had had two hours. "Okay. I'll see you tomorrow," he agreed.
After Josh left, Toby sat in his office until Leo appeared in the doorway. "You seen, Josh?" he asked.
"How is he?"
"He's gone home."
"He was suppose to come and see me," Leo complained.
"He's tired," Toby told him. "Give him tonight to try and get this straight in his mind."
"What did he say?"
"You should ask him, Leo, I can't....."
Toby sighed, "He thinks we should have been told during the campaign."
"Yeah, but not like you think. He's not angry that he wasn't told the President has MS, he actually thinks that's private. He's angry because he wasn't told that there'd only be one term."
"That might not be the case," Leo argued.
"Let's do this tomorrow, Leo, with Josh. You know CJ and Sam need to be told soon."
"He knows that," Leo agreed.
"Good, because it's gonna take more than you, me and Josh to sort this out."
"You think it's sortable now then?" Leo asked.
"I really don't know," Toby admitted.