Title: Visiting Time
Author:
Willow
Summary: Josh gets some visitors after his release from the hospital.
Spoilers/Episode: Set during season 2, The Midterms.
Characters: Ensemble
Rating: PG


"Sam," Leo called as Sam walked past his office.

"Hey."

"You been to see Josh?"

Sam entered Leo's office. "Just got back."

"How was he?"

"Tired, but he's looking better," Sam replied. "He's worried about Charlie though. I think he thinks there's something we're not telling him."

"Like?"

"I don't know," Sam shrugged. "But it's been almost five weeks and Charlie hasn't been to see him. I've tried talking to Charlie and so has Donna, but he just changes the subject or remembers something he should be doing."

"He feels guilty."

"I know," Sam agreed. "I told Josh that and he understands. He certainly doesn't blame Charlie, he just wants to see him."

Leo nodded, "I'll talk to the president about it."

"Charlie won't thank you for that," Sam smiled. "But Josh will."

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That evening, after Charlie had gone home, Leo went to talk to Jed. He walked through the connecting door and into the Oval Office, where Jed was sat on the sofa reading. "Good Evening, Mr President, do you have a moment?"

"What can I do for you, Leo?"

Leo sat across from Jed. "I wanted to talk to you about Charlie. You know he blames himself for the events at Rosslyn?"

Jed nodded. "He's been avoiding Zoey and he's quiet around me."

"And he hasn't been to see Josh," Leo added. "Josh wants to see him, but Charlie thinks that Josh blames him and he doesn't want to face him."

"Does Josh blame Charlie?" Jed asked.

Leo was appalled. "How can you even think that?"

"It's a reasonable question, Leo."

"No, he doesn't blame Charlie, or Zoey, or the Secret Service, or you for that matter," Leo replied, well aware that Charlie wasn't the only one feeling guilty over Josh.

Jed watched Leo then he nodded, "I'll talk to Charlie. I'll make it a Presidential Order if need be," he replied and then smiled. "You think the Secret Service would be a upset if I said I wanted to visit Josh?"

"I think they may be a little, Sir, yes," Leo laughed and looked at Jed. "My God, you're serious. You want to go to Josh's apartment?"

"Yes I do. I haven't seen him since I left GW. That was a month ago. Everyone either tells me he's fine, which I know is crap, he can't possibly be fine, or they say he's as well as can be expected, whatever the hell that means! So I want to go and see for myself." Jed went quiet for a moment and studied Leo. "He nearly died, Leo. I made Abbey tell me about his operation and recovery. Even if he survived the surgery, they weren't sure that he'd be okay, then there was the chance of brain damage. I know everyone says that he's making a good recovery, but I want to see for myself."

"He's going to love this," Leo replied. "Okay, you talk to Ron Butterfield and I'll talk to Josh." Jed shook his head. "What?" Leo asked.

"I'd rather he didn't know I was coming."

"Why?"

"Because I don't want him putting on a show, I know him, Leo."

"In that case, I'll talk to Donna."

"Good. How's his mother doing? These last five weeks must have been hell for her. Is there anything we can do for her?"

"She's fine." Leo caught the skeptical look Jed was giving him. "Honestly, Sir. Her and Donna get on very well, which seems to scare Josh a little," he smiled. "They're going shopping tomorrow, I'm going over to see him for a few hours. Then Donna's staying the evening, while I take Clara out for a meal. To be honest though I don't think she likes to leave him for too long."

Jed looked thoughtful, then he smiled. "I'll see if Charlie's free tomorrow evening."

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The following morning, Charlie collected the papers that Jed had just signed. "Is there anything else, Mr President?"

"Do you have plans, Charlie?" Jed smiled.

'On a Saturday afternoon, why would I?' Charlie thought. "No, Sir," he replied.

"You're not doing anything with your sister or Zoey?"

"Deana's playing soccer, but it's an away game. She's not home until 8," Charlie replied.

Jed noticed that Charlie avoided talking about Zoey, but he really wasn't comfortable getting involved in his daughter's love life, so he left that alone. "Well then, since you've no other plans, there is one thing you can do for me."

"Yes, Sir?" Charlie replied. 'And there goes my afternoon,' he thought. 'I'll do the shopping and laundry sometime tonight.'

"Go and see Josh" Jed instructed.

Charlie was taken aback by that. "Sir?"

"He wants to see you, but you haven't been. Now I've put that down to you being busy. However, since you've no plans......."

Panic was slowly spreading across Charlie's face. "Sir, I really don't think that he'll want to see me."

"Of course he will, he's been asking after you," Jed said. "I know that you're worried about him. You ask everyone how he's doing. Go and see for yourself."

"Sir, I can't," Charlie almost pleaded.

Jed noticed the panic in Charlie voice and eyes. "Why?"

"His mother's going to be there."

"You don't like Josh's mother?" Jed asked, slightly confused.

"I've never met her," Charlie replied.

"Then.....?."

"Her son nearly died, he's just got out of the hospital, he's got months of recovery ahead of him. How can I face either of them." Charlie looked over at Jed, who was sat in the chair opposite. "It was me they were trying to kill."

Jed studied Charlie with concern. "Charlie, you and Josh are friends and he needs his friends now. If I can find out when his mother is going to be out, would you go then and just see Josh?"

Charlie realized that there was no way he was getting out of this. "Yes, Sir," he reluctantly agreed.

"Good, because I happen to know that her and Leo are going out tonight for a meal. So it's just Josh and Donna, they'll be expecting you around 7."

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"Where are you going?" Josh asked.

"Out," Donna replied. "We've decided that we deserve an afternoon of peace and quiet, or shopping anyway."

"What about me?"

"We might buy you something," his mother smiled.

"So you're abandoning me?" Josh was trying his best to sound calmer than he felt.

"Joshua," his mom scolded with a slight smile. "You're 40 years old. You've been moaning all week that we're annoying you. So we're going out."

"And leaving me?" Josh said, any pretence at calmness was quickly leaving.

The two women looked at each other and took pity on him. "We're not leaving you alone," his mom smiled, as the door buzzer sounded. "That'll be Leo."

"Oh. Okay," Josh smiled with relief. He may have been complaining all week, but that was frustration, he certainly didn't want to be left on his own.

Leo smiled at Donna and hugged Clara. "How is he?" he asked.

"I'm sitting right here!"

Donna and Clara gave Leo a knowing look, "Good luck," Donna grinned, as they left for an afternoon of rest, relaxation and shopping. An afternoon that they would both spend worrying about Josh and checking how long before they could go back to make sure he was alright.

Leo went into the kitchen. "You want anything?" he called to Josh.

"Nah, I'm fine thanks. So what evil did you do to warrant an afternoon 'Josh sitting'?"

"I owe your mother many, many favors," Leo laughed. "Anyway, I won't be alone."

"Who else is coming?" Josh asked excitedly.

"It doesn't take much to excite you these days does it?" Leo replied.

"You try spending a month stuck inside! So ....?"

"The President."

"That's funny," Josh said. "So who's coming?"

"Jed Bartlet," Leo replied.

"He's coming here?" Josh sounded a little stunned.

"He wanted to check on you," Leo replied.

Josh was still getting used to the idea when the buzzer went. "You know some notice would have been nice, Leo."

"He wanted to take you by surprise, didn't want you putting on a show," Leo replied as he let the Secret Service agents into the building.

'I wish I could,' Josh thought, trying to ignore the pain in his chest from sitting turned toward the kitchen.

Ron Butterfield and another agent entered Josh's apartment. "How you feeling, Josh?" Ron asked, while the second agent checked all the rooms.

"A little shocked to find the Secret Service checking out my apartment," Josh smiled. "Beside that, okay. How's your hand?"

"It healed fine thanks. We'll wait outside." Ron and the agent left and Jed entered.

"Don't you dare," Jed said when Josh went to stand. "Do you mind if I make a coffee?" he asked and Josh followed him into the kitchen. "Go and sit down. I'm very capable in the kitchen you know."

"Yeah, I've tasted your chili," Josh smiled. "Honestly Sir, I'm allowed to walk around and do stuff, as long as my mom and Donna don't find out," he smiled, but went back to the chair that seemed to have become his home the last week. It was far easier to stand up from a chair than the couch.

Leo and Josh sat and talked, while Jed watched from the kitchen. He had no idea what he'd been expecting. The last time he saw Josh he was hooked up to monitors, drips and tubes and was barely conscious. Although he was obviously still in some discomfort, he looked reasonably okay, if very tired.

"How are you then?" Jed asked, sitting down with his coffee. "Before you answer, bear in mind that I'm the president and that lying to me is possibly a crime."

"You know I don't think it is," Josh said. "Although, I believe Toby's re-writing the Constitution, so I'm sure he can arrange it for you."

"He is on a mission at the moment," Jed sighed. "But stop changing the subject. How are you and don't say fine."

"I'm better now I'm home." Josh wasn't sure what else to say. How do you answer a question like that, without sounding like you're complaining and ensuring that no one ever visited you again?

"Not a big fan of hospitals then?" Jed commented. "Seriously, Josh. I'm told that you're fine, that you're 'doing better', you're 'as well as can be expected', but that doesn't tell me how you are." Jed locked Josh with a gaze that he could only have learnt from Leo. "Are you in much pain?"

"Some," Josh admitted, finding he was unable to lie to Jed. "It's worse at night, but it's getting better, and the pain relief's good," he smiled slightly. "To be honest, you get use to it. I mean it's there and it's not pleasant, but, well, you get use to it."

"But it's better to be home?"

"God yes. I feel much better than a week ago. I don't seem to have had any set backs and the doctors and physical therapist are pleased, so it'll get better."

Jed suspected it wasn't quite as easy as Josh was making it out to be. But he seemed in good spirits and that was a relief. "I'm told Donna has imposed rules on visiting," Jed smiled. Like everyone else, he'd been more thankful than he can ever express for Donna these last few weeks. He did wonder how she was though, he worried she was doing too much.

Josh grinned, "They're mainly aimed at Toby. He sneaks round when she's not here. My mom seems to like him, for some strange reason." He knew full well what the reason was. If Toby hadn't found him when he did.....

They sat and talked for half an hour, Leo changing the subject every time it approached work. Then Josh asked about Charlie. Jed tried to tell him that Charlie was fine, but Josh wasn't convinced and Jed finally had to agree.

"He's avoiding Zoey, he's very quiet around me and Abbey" Jed said. "He hasn't been here has he?"

"No. Sam says he blames himself for what happened, but none of this is his fault. He's as much a victim as me or you. I really don't blame him."

"I know that, Josh, but convincing Charlie is a different matter."

"Josh could convince him," Leo said and Josh nodded.

"Yeah, you probably could," Jed agreed. "Which is I've arranged for him to come tonight, around 7. If that's alright with you."

"It's fine with me. But has someone asked Donna?" Josh smiled.

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Donna and Clara had finished their shopping and were going for something to eat, when Donna saw Charlie coming out of a sport store. "Charlie," she shouted.

"Hey, Donna, how you doing?"

"Spent up," she sighed. "Mainly stuff for work, I swear I'd save a fortune if I didn't have to go to work. You?"

"It's Deana's birthday in a couple of weeks. She loves soccer, so I got her a Manchester United away shirt - $70, I hope she's not expecting much else," he grinned.

"We were going a drink, want to join us?" Donna asked.

"Yeah, sure," he replied.

"This is Josh's mom. Clara, this is Charlie Young," At that moment Charlie wanted to crawl away under the nearest stone, after first killing Donna. What was he suppose to say to Josh's mother? 'Sorry I almost got your son killed, but I'm sure he'll be fine, eventually.'

"Hi, Charlie," Clara smiled, as they walked into a coffee shop.

"I'm just going to the bathroom," Donna said, leaving Charlie and Clara alone. They found a table and sat down.

"Mrs Lyman," Charlie began, "I... I'm sorry, about Josh I mean.... I"

"Charlie, you haven't got anything to be sorry for," Clara interrupted him.

"You do know who I am?" he asked quietly.

"Yes, you're a young man who fell in love. It's not your fault if a group of mindless thugs try to kill you because they can't accept who or what you are." She smiled slightly, but without much humor."It's also not your fault that they were terrible shots. Though I don't suppose they'd have been too upset to have missed the black guy and shot the Jew." Charlie looked uncertain as Clara continued. "You know that they probably think that they've at least driven a wedge between you and the others? You can't let them win, Charlie. You have to let them see that you have the president's trust and respect. Show them that you and Zoey are together, no matter what they think or do. Let them see that you're still friends with all the staff, including Josh."

"That might not be how Josh sees it," Charlie said quietly.

Clara smiled. "Josh likes you, you're his friend. I hope you believe that I don't blame you for Josh being shot, and neither does he. Trust me, Josh is the expert at carrying around needless guilt, and he wouldn't want you doing that. Go and see him."

As Charlie listened to Clara, he did believe that she didn't blame him, but he wasn't sure about Josh. Josh had been through hell, surely he must need to blame someone? "I've almost been a few times," he confided. "At the hospital, I'd get to the room and look through the door to see if he was awake. If he was I'd leave, but I did go in a couple of times when he was sleeping." He looked a bit embarrassed by his confession.

"Then maybe it's time to go and see him while he's awake?" Clara suggested gently, adding, "I'm going out tonight, so it'll be just him and Donna. You could go round and save her," she smiled.

Donna sat quietly back down but Charlie was still watching Clara, now with a knowing glint in his eye. "Have you been talking to the president?" he asked.

"The president? No. Leo McGarry maybe."

"The president hasn't got over her shouting at him in the hospital," Donna grinned.

"You shouted at him?" Charlie asked.

"Actually it was Leo I was shouting at, the president just got in the way." Leo was trying to make her go back to Josh's apartment and get some sleep but she'd wanted to stay with her son. Jed had agreed with Leo, so he'd got shouted at as well. Abbey had told them both to leave Clara alone, and had arranged for a cot in Josh's room so she could sleep there. She could smile about it now, but at the time nothing would have dragged her away from Josh's bedside.

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Leo sighed and looked at his watch "You know, this is something I don't miss about being married," he called. "The table's booked for 7.30."

"I'm ready, will you stop moaning," Clara replied. "We'll see you later," she smiled at Josh and Donna, as her and Leo left.

Donna watched and grinned to herself. She liked Leo, has the greatest respect for him, but he intimidated her a little, so watching Clara Lyman boss him around amused her. "You think she'd like a job at the White House? She'd give Leo a run for his money in staff meetings."

"She'd give the President a run for his money," Josh laughed.

Donna smiled, it was good to see Josh enjoying himself, even if it was at Leo's expense. "Do you want anything to eat?" she asked.

"No, I'm not hungry," Josh replied.

Donna walked back into the lounge. "Are you alright?" she asked.

"Donna, don't fuss," Josh sighed. "I'm fine, just not hungry"

"You have to eat, Josh."

"Yeah," Josh replied, "'cos if I don't I'll get sick." He saw the hurt and concern in Donna eyes and immediately regretted snapping at her. "I'm sorry," he said, as the door buzzer sounded.

Donna smiled at Josh, "I know," she replied and let Charlie in. "Drink?" she asked him.

"Yeah, coffee please," Charlie replied and Donna headed to the kitchen.

"Hey, what about me?" Josh asked.

"You can have tea," Donna replied.

"Can you believe she still won't bring me coffee," Josh laughed and Charlie suddenly remembered how much he'd missed him.

"How are you?" Charlie asked.

"I'm okay," Josh replied and smiled at the disbelief in Charlie's face. "I'm a bit sore and tired, but really I'm fine."

"I should have come earlier."

"You'll have been busy with the President," Josh suggested.

"Yeah," Charlie agreed. "I'm sorry about what happened."

"It wasn't........."

"They were trying to kill me, Josh. They were aiming for me and they got you."

"I know, they were crap shots," Josh smiled weakly. "It's not your fault, Charlie. You don't really think that I wish it'd been you and not me that was hit do you? You can't go round blaming yourself for something that wasn't your fault and over which you had no control."

Charlie was thoughtful for a moment, "My mom getting killed was my fault. She'd changed shifts to please me, then she got shot."

Josh wasn't sure what to say to that, he decided on honesty. "I do know why you think that. But it still wasn't your fault, your mom or me. Leo seemed to think you were worried about seeing my mom," he asked.

"I was," Charlie admitted. "But I met her with Donna this afternoon. She's pretty cool," he smiled.

"Cool? My mom?" Josh asked. "Not a word I'd have used. But don't tell her," he glanced at Donna and grinned.

"Do you know when you're coming back to work?"

"No, not really. They did say it wouldn't be 'til after Christmas. But I hope it's sooner. I'm bored stupid already. Plus I think I'm starting to drive my mom mad," he smiled.

"How long's she staying?"

"Well that's gonna be a bit of a battle," Josh replied. His mom wanted to stay until Josh was up and about and able to look after himself without needing any help. Josh knew that that was going to be a while yet. He still tired very quickly, and too much exertion -- such as walking across the apartment -- could still cause considerable pain. Josh still thought that he'd recover faster though, if he didn't have someone to rely on all the time. He didn't want to sound ungrateful, he loved his mother being there, but thought she needed to get back to her own life. He'd inherited his stubborn streak from her though, so he knew there was going to be a battle. "I'd like her stay another week or so, but...... " he trailed off as a sharp pain shot down his chest, reminding him that he'd been sitting for too long.

"She wants to stay longer and you want a little space," Charlie suggested.

Josh smiled. "Yes. Do you think you could tell her that for me?"

Charlie noticed that Josh was looking tired and knew he should let him get some rest. "I should go really, Mrs Jacobs is keeping an eye out for Deana, but I said I wouldn't be late," he said and stood up. "It's been good to see you though," he smiled. "I'll come again in the week, stay a bit longer, if that's okay?"

"Yeah, course it's okay, I'll see you then," Josh replied. He stayed sat on the chair, not wanting Charlie to see how much pain standing was going to cause. Donna walked out with Charlie.

"Glad you came?" she asked.

"Yeah. He's a lot better than I thought he'd be," Charlie sounded relieved. "I'll see you on Monday."

"See you." Donna walked back into the apartment. "What do you think you're doing?" she asked Josh, who was walking into the kitchen with the cups.

"Washing up," he replied.

"Sit back down, I'll do that."

"I can manage to wash up," he snapped. "I'm not an invalid."

"No you're not," she agreed. "But you are in pain and you're tired."

"Donna......"

"Josh," she interrupted. "You always get snappy and shitty when you're tired and sore. Go and sit back down and I'll get some painkillers."

"Sorry. I don't mean to take it out on you," he sighed.

"I know," she replied. "Do you need anything?"

"Actually I'm going to go to bed for a while. Sitting just makes it worse." He turned toward the bedroom and stumbled. Donna caught him.

"You're exhausted, Josh," she said with concern. "Come on." She helped him to the bedroom. He lay down on the bed and shut his eyes against the pain. Donna went to get his medication, returning with three bottles of pills and a glass of water. "Here," she handed him four tablets.

"I'm going to rattle," he complained good naturedly as he sat up slightly and took the pills off her. "Thanks for all this, Donna," he said.

"All part of the service," she smiled.

"It's hardly in your job description is it," he said, lying back down and closing his eyes.

"You're my friend. The others help as well, I just have more time with my boss not being in the office at the moment," she replied. "Try and sleep. I'll look in you later." She left the room and pulled the door gently to, leaving it slightly ajar so she can hear if he called.

When she checked on Josh ten minutes later he was sound asleep. She was sat quietly watching TV when Leo and Clara returned. "Hey," she smiled, "nice meal?"

"Lovely thanks," Clara replied. "He in bed?"

"Yeah. You two like a drink?"

"I'll make them," Leo offered and walked into the kitchen. Donna and Clara both followed him in. "How was Charlie?" he asked.

"Fine," Donna smiled. "A bit nervous at first, but he soon relaxed."

"Good. Lets hope that's helped him a bit," Leo said.

"What about Zoey?" Clara asked. Zoey had been to visit Josh many times, both in the hospital and at the apartment, and Clara knew that she was upset Charlie seemed to be doing his best to avoid her.

"I dunno. But she's just like her mother so she won't be giving up on him," Leo assured her and looked at Donna. "How is Josh?"

"Exhausted. It's been a long day. He still tires easily."

"He's got PT on Monday," Clara reminded her.

"I know," Donna sighed. "I'll come round about 2," she looked at Leo, "if that's alright?" she asked him.

"Course it is," he replied, as his cell phone rang. "McGarry........ Yeah it was good thanks..... I'm at Josh's apartment........ Yes they are, why?......... Now! You're kidding me, it's 9pm on a Saturday....... Yeah okay, I'll come over."

Donna grinned, "The President?"

"Yes. Wants to talk about Sutherland. The man needs a hobby," Leo smiled. "I'd better go. Goodnight," he said to Donna. Clara walked to the door with him.

"You know, Leo, our lives have changed a hell of a lot in the time we've known each other," she said. "Who'd have imagined you getting summoned by the President at 9 on a Saturday evening," she laughed.

"You're telling me," he grinned. "If I don't make it round tomorrow, I'll ring and see how he is. Take care of yourself." Leo walked out of the building to his car. He knew full well why Jed wanted to see him and it had nothing to do with Sutherland. He wanted to know how things went with Charlie and how Josh was. Normally he'd have waited until tomorrow, but Abbey was away, so there was no one to keep him in line. Well at least Charlie and Josh had sorted things out and Josh was getting stronger everyday. Leo was a little worried that Donna and Clara were doing too much. It should be interesting though to see how Josh was going to convince his mother to go home. All in all though, things are starting to get better. Leo smiled to himself and changed lanes, heading to the White House.

END