Summary: Kate's been giving Josh advice on Donna, but not in the way he needs.
Spoilers/Episode: Post season 6, Hubbert Peak
Characters: Josh, Toby and Donna
Josh walked into Toby's office, in time to hear Annabeth giving more advice on press briefings. He smiled at Toby's embarrassed expression when he saw him, but he didn't interrupt.
"......and shoulders back," Annabeth was saying. "You remember all that and you'll have command of the room. I know you feel uncomfortable, but you don't have to let them know that."
"Okay," Toby muttered. "Are we done?"
"Tomorrow, we'll practice holding eye contact with them."
"Oh good," Toby sighed.
"Also, you need to think more about your neck ties."
"Thanks." Toby glared at Josh who was openly grinning.
"But your beard is just fine," Annabeth added.
"You can go away now," Toby told her. "I think Josh has something he needs to discuss."
"No, carry on," Josh insisted.
"Hey," Annabeth turned to face Josh. "Did you see this afternoon's briefing?"
"I didn't, but I'm told there was humor," Josh grinned at Toby.
"There was," Annabeth agreed. "Pretty soon he'll have them eating out of his hand."
"No I won't," Toby replied. "Because you're going to find us a press secretary."
"Why can't you do it?" Josh asked Annabeth.
"She can't see over the podium," Toby took some revenge.
"We can get her a step or something," Josh suggested.
"No," Toby replied. "Go away," he told Annabeth before she had a chance to say anything else.
"See you later," she smiled. "Oh, Josh, try and avoid talking to people who run weblogs. According to Donna, you should have learnt your lesson after the web site fiasco."
"I'll try," Josh replied. He watched her leave, before he closed the office door and turned to Toby. "Does she ever stop?"
"No, she's like the Duracell Bunny, she just keeps on going. You didn't see the briefing?"
"No, but Carol said it was a vast improvement and you made jokes, according to CJ."
Toby sighed. "I can't do this, I have never felt so awkward in my life. It isn't me."
"Humor?" Josh asked with a smile. "Charm, wit?"
"Did you want something?"
"Just passing." Josh sat on the couch. "You think Donna's okay?"
"I don't see that much of her, but she seems to be. Why?"
"I dunno," Josh shrugged. "I just had a twenty minute lecture from Kate on trauma."
"Psychological," Josh clarified. "She gave me a talking to on looking out for Donna. Gave me a list of signs to look for, seems she's had some experience of these things."
"Was she living in a cave in August 2000?"
Josh shrugged. "She asked me if I knew what post traumatic stress disorder was?"
"She asked you that?"
"Yeah. I told her I did, thanks. I guess on the plus side I must have it under control, seeing as she doesn't suspect I have it."
"You do. What about Donna?"
"She seems fine on the outside, but so did I at first. She won't talk to me about it though, says she knows who to call if she needs to." Josh shrugged again.
"Maybe she is fine," Toby suggested.
"But you don't think so?"
"She won't talk about it at all," Josh repeated. "She gets this, this look in her eyes when I ask." He hesitated and Toby waited for him to continue. "If she isn't okay, I don't want her getting to the stage I was at before she gets help." Besides Donna, Toby was the only person who knew quite how close to the edge Josh had been at Christmas 2000 and he was the only person Josh could talk to about it.
Toby didn't know what Josh wanted from him, because he was sure Josh knew what he had to do, but he said it anyway. "You need to talk to her."
"I know, I just don't know what to say."
"Yeah." Josh stood up. "I was serious about Annabeth by the way. She seems to know what she's talking about, why can't she be the press secretary?"
"Because it would be nice for the new press secretary to have some government experience."
"True, but according to Donna, all the ones you interviewed were at best, boring and at worst, virtually silent. You want to carry on doing the briefings 'til the end of the term?"
"Don't even say things like that," Toby complained.
"Well then," Josh replied. "I'm going home. I see you tomorrow."
"I'm impressed," Donna smiled as she followed Josh into her apartment an hour later.
"Why?" he asked suspiciously.
"No accidents on the way home."
"You're a funny girl, you know that?"
"Yes," Donna agreed. "You want to stay a while, have dinner?"
"Thanks. Take out?"
"Fu Yan have a new menu," she informed him and handed him the new menu.
Ten minutes later they were sat with the TV turned on low, drinking their drinks and waiting for the food delivery. "Kate was talking to me today," Donna said.
"She hangs around the bullpen a lot," Josh commented.
"I think she may have a small crush on you," Donna smiled.
"On one of us," Josh replied.
"You think?" Donna asked and Josh nodded. "Okay. Maybe she has a crush on both of us."
"Now there's a thought," Josh grinned.
"No," Donna shook her head, "Get that imagine out of your head right now."
"Sorry," he smiled. "What did she want?"
"She thinks I need to talk about what happened."
Josh's smile faded. "I know," he said. "She talked to me as well."
"She what?" Donna asked. "She had no right to do that."
"She didn't say she'd talked to you. She just said I should keep an eye on you."
"Keep an eye on me?"
"Yeah." Josh could see Donna was getting angry and she was in danger of bringing the walls down again, but he carried on. "She said she'd had some experience of traumatic situations."
"She told me."
"Did she give you a twenty minute lecture on the effects of trauma, signs to look for in someone?"
"So you didn't get the list of symptoms of PTSD and survivor guilt, how to handle it, treatments?"
"She gave you a lecture on trauma and PTSD, you?" Donna asked with a small smile.
"She hasn't known me long enough to know that I'm a little messed up."
"That's true," Donna agreed.
"Not going to contradict me there then?"
"After knowing you for eight years?"
"Did you tell her?"
"That I have PTSD?" he asked and Donna nodded. "CJ will probably kill me, but yes I did."
"Did it shut her up?"
"It did, yes," Josh smiled. "I know it may be easier to talk to a counselor or to someone like Kate, but you do know I'm here?"
"I don't think you are."
"Josh, can we not do this now."
Josh turned to face Donna. "How are you doing?" he asked her.
Donna looked away. "I told you I was fine."
"Yeah," Josh agreed. "I told everyone that. I tried to tell myself that. I stood in the Oval Office and bawled out the president of the United States and still told myself that I was okay." He reached across to Donna and gave her his hand, with the palm turned upward to show the faint scar that ran across it. "I told myself I was fine. And then I stood in my apartment and saw the blood dripping from my hand and I had no idea what I'd done. Even now I don't really remember breaking that window."
"Just give me a straight answer to the question," Josh continued. "How are you doing?"
Donna held Josh's hand and looked into his eyes for a brief second. She saw the pain and concern and she knew that he knew. "Not too good sometimes. I get angry and...." she shook her head. "I can't talk about it."
Josh nodded. "I know it's hard, but you have to talk to someone. I don't care who, just promise me you will talk to someone."
"I will. They gave me ATVA's number and the numbers of some therapists in town."
"Like you didn't already know them," Josh replied. "I didn't mean to upset you."
"You didn't. I've been upset for weeks, I just hide it."
"Then don't. If you need to yell or scream or cry, go for it."
"In the White House?"
"Use my office," Josh offered with a smile.
"I could be holding you to that."
"Good," he said as the door buzzer sounded. "Let's eat."
Donna watched Josh walk to the door, watched as he strode across her living room and she remembered how low he'd been after Rosslyn. She didn't know why she hadn't considered this before, but watching him now, as he bantered with the delivery boy, she suddenly realized that there was light at the end of the tunnel, it wasn't just an old cliche. If Josh could come through it, then maybe she could as well. Perhaps tomorrow she would make an appointment to talk to ATVA, perhaps.