Full Summary: On one lonely night, Josh has a moment of epiphany, and it could make or break his future…(J/D)
Spoilers: anything up to The Fall's Gonna Kill You.
Disclaimer: these characters do not belong to me. If they were, I would be the envy of the world right now.
It was a little after 3a.m when Josh finally began the short drive back to his apartment. He vaguely acknowledged the beautiful, star-lit sky and tried to remember the last time he had left work when it was still light.
In the end, Josh concluded it had been weeks since he had spent an evening away from the White House.
The job had, in a way, become his life. He served at the pleasure of the President, and it was still an honour, but recently Josh had come to realise there was another life out there away from the cynical world of politics.
Those feelings had been running through his brain since Rosslyn, but it had become more prominent over the last few weeks.
He pulled out of the White House parking lot, waving to the night-shift security agents as he did so. He glanced at one of them, Chris Parker, wondering if he had spent a night with his family lately.
"At least he had the option," he reflected sadly.
The dedication Josh had for his job had affected his personal relationships. When was the last time he had been on a date? There had been something going on there with Joey, but his insecurities about her feelings towards him had ruined any chance he might have had with her. And it didn't help when Joey confessed she thought Donna liked him.
Donna. Something about their friendship had changed over the last few months. It seemed as though they had got closer since he was shot.
As he continued to drive through the deserted roads, Josh felt a shiver in his stomach. He thought about that night, so many months ago, when it seemed like time had stopped. His memory of the shooting still only came in frightening adrenaline rushes, though they were becoming less intense now. He could listen to someone sing a song now and not feel like the world is crashing around his ears, but the cold sweats sometimes crept up on him.
Donna had been there for him through everything. Even from the beginning she had been by his side, in his apartment, helping him to wash his aching, recovering body. She had been there that night he found out he had PTSD. Even though it was Christmas Eve Donna had stayed with him all night, wiping away his frustrated tears of pain, making him laugh in the unintentional way that she does.
Donna had made him realise there was a life to live, even through the trauma.
Then there had been that evening three weeks ago, when the entire senior staff had stayed late to work on writing 'the funny' into a speech of Sam's. Josh smiled to himself as he remembered the torture he put Donna through with the flowers and his hints about Dr. Freeride.
He felt the shiver again as he thought about what she said to him later that night. It was the comment that had since stopped Josh from sleeping at night. It was what made him stay at work until 3a.m again tonight. He didn't want to be alone in his apartment with the feelings and mixture of emotions that were continuously running through his head. It was scaring him, it was changing everything. How could one line of words have such a powerful effect on him?
If you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for red lights.
Josh didn't want to think about the meaning behind that confession. Was Donna in love with him?
He knew he couldn't think about it…because he was in love with her.
That was what was scaring him.
Josh gripped the steering wheel tightly, feeling his heart thud. He could not fall in love with Donna. He couldn't allow it. She worked for him, they would drift apart…
He felt a sudden impact on the passenger side of his car, sending it careering to the middle of the road. He slammed on the brakes and the car came to a sudden stop.
Josh shook slightly, shocked and confused. He heard a tapping on his passenger window and looked up to find a shell-shocked, athletic man mouthing frantically at him. Just beyond the man was a vacant car, its bonnet and headlights smashed to pieces.
Josh slowly got out, relieved to find that he was feeling physically fine.
"Oh my god, are you ok?" the man asked, rushing over to him. There was a small bump on the man's forehead, indicating he had banged his head on the steering wheel during the crash.
Josh stared at him and then looked around the side of his car. As he had suspected, the passenger door was damaged.
"I'm so sorry about this," the man rambled on, "I…I should have stopped at the lights…I should have let you drive through…"
Josh sighed. "It's fine. I'm fine." He felt too tired to have an argument with this stranger, even though that was what he would have ordinarily done. His therapy with Stanley had taught to be calmer in stressful situations. "I just need to take your insurance details…hey, are you ok?" He looked worriedly at the man, who had now sat down on the edge of the nearby sidewalk. He had never done first aid before. The last thing he needed was a medical emergency on his hands.
The man looked up at Josh, his lip trembling. "I'm ok. Really, I am."
"Do you need a doctor?" Josh sat down beside the man.
"No." The man suddenly stood up and strode over to his car. He opened the driver's side-door.
"Hey!" Josh yelped, leaping up. "Where are you going?"
"I need to get to the hospital." The man stammered, looking at him pleadingly.
Josh arched an eyebrow at him, walking closer. "The car is a write off, you can't drive it…and I thought you said you were fine."
"I am…but my wife...I need to see her." The man told him, gripping his door tightly.
"Your wife is in hospital?" Josh asked slowly, feeling his heart begin to thud fast again. There was something he was missing here.
The man nodded quickly. "She's there having my…my son. She's nearly two months premature. It happened earlier today, I was at a bar with my friends, there had been a football game…I-I just heard about it…" The man looked at Josh, stricken. "I'm sorry I ran the red light, but you don't understand… I have to be there."
Josh felt his entire body freeze. He swallowed hard. "You ran the red light to be with your wife." He said softly.
"Yeah." The man's cheeks flushed.
Josh looked away. Was this what Donna meant? Would she go as far as to cause a traffic accident just to be with him?
He broke into a smile and stared at the man.
He stared back at Josh strangely. "Sir…may I ask why you're smiling?"
Donna did love him. She had to. This man loved his wife deeply enough to crash into someone's car at 3 in the morning, and Donna would do the same for him.
"What's your name?" Josh asked him suddenly.
"It's Michael." The man replied, looking confused. "Listen, if this is about the insurance, I'll have it sorted out as soon as…"
"Don't worry about that just now," Josh interrupted, grabbing his arm. "Come on, I'm taking you to the hospital."
"Um…ok." Michael stammered as Josh practically shoved him into his car.
"I'll take you to your wife and then I'll call a tow truck to take care of your car," Josh said, turning on the engine.
Seeing Michael's elated face, Josh felt a warm rush flow through his body. This was adrenaline again, but it was a good kind of rush this time.
Donna loved him.
He loved her, and he didn't mind admitting it.
Josh paced the waiting room, checking his watch. It was 4am. He was due to be at work in two hours.
He stared at the payphone in the corner of the room, debating whether or not to call Donna. He had to talk to her about his sudden epiphany.
Josh turned around to see Michael walking over to him.
"You're still here?" Michael stared at him in amazement.
Josh shrugged. "Yeah…is everything ok?"
Michael grinned at him. "I have a son."
Josh patted him on the shoulder. "That's great. Is he ok?"
The smiled faded slightly from Michael's face. "He's so tiny. They've put him in a room with other premature babies…they're helping him to breathe…"
Josh smiled reassuringly at him. "Hey, listen, he'll be ok. The doctors can work miracles these days…"
Michael smiled wryly at him. "I guess you're the best person to talk to about that…I can't believe I never recognised you out there."
Josh gave him a small smile. "I've kept out of the news for a while," he explained, "so it's no surprise you didn't know me."
"I've called my son Joshua." Michael said suddenly, smiling.
Josh blinked. "You named your son Josh?"
"Yeah. I thought I owed you one."
Josh smiled, feeling a warm pleasure in his bones. "Thank you."
"Uh, listen… about your car…I'll give you my contact details." Michael rummaged around in his pocket. "Do you have a pen?"
Josh nodded, pulled one out of his pocket and handed it to Michael. He wrote down the details on a nearby newspaper and tore it off.
"Thanks for everything."
Josh took the paper and began to walk to the exit doors. "It's nothing, just take care of your family, ok?"
Michael grinned and nodded.
Josh walked out into the cool, night air. There was nothing like an early morning adventure to make him see things clearer than he had in years. Not since his first glimpse of Bartlet in Nashua did Josh know exactly what he wanted. Now here was the second epiphany in his life.
He walked quickly to his car and got in. He ignored the early frost and mildew that had settled around the vehicle and began to start the engine.
Nothing happened. He tried again. Nothing. The battery was flat.
"Damnit," He exclaimed, slamming the wheel.
Well, he knew what to do now.
He pressed the familiar speed-dial button on his cell phone and waited for the reply.
"Jo-osh?" Donna yawned into the phone.
"Hey," Josh greeted, feeling embarrassed.
"Do you know what time it is?"
"Yeah, I know it's early but…"
"Josh, you didn't let me leave work until midnight. You can't call me only four hours later!"
"Donna, I really need your help here," Josh interrupted pleadingly.
He heard her sigh on the phone and grinned. He knew she was relenting.
"What is it?" she asked tiredly.
"I'm at GW…"
"What! Are you ok?"
"Yes, I'm fine. Nothing happened to me." He reassured her, touched by her concern.
"Then what are you doing at the hospital at 4am?"
"It's a long story. I'm just a bit stranded."
"You car won't start?" Donna guessed.
"I told you that thing was ready to give up."
"But you wouldn't listen."
"I know." Josh rolled his eyes.
"It needed a new battery weeks ago!"
"Donna!" Josh shouted. "I know that. I just didn't have the time."
"So, you want me to give you a ride home?"
"Yes." Josh said, exasperated. "Please." He added softly.
"Ok," Donna grumbled. "But you owe me."
"I know." Josh said softly as he listened to her hang up.
"Four in the morning," Donna grumbled as she drove them through the deserted roads.
"You would have been up in another hour anyway." Josh reminded her, grinning.
"Yes and who's responsible for that?" Donna shot back.
"You knew what kind of job you were taking on when I hired you." Josh protested.
"You didn't hire me. I hired myself." Donna pointed out, smiling. "And if I really had known how crazy my employer was that day, I wouldn't have answered that phone."
"Yes you would. You would have been too curious not to." Josh bantered. He looked seriously at her. "Do you regret joining the campaign?" he asked quietly.
Donna looked at him, meeting his eyes. "Of course I don't." she said softly.
Josh smiled gently at her. "That's good. I don't know what I'd do without you."
"You'd have no job because Leo would have fired you as soon as the President got sworn in." Donna told him, giggling.
"I don't deny I'm a little unorganised, but Leo has a little more faith in me than that." Josh exclaimed.
"Oh really?" Donna teased.
"Yes, we're both in a hole you see." Josh replied quietly. "And we're helping each other out of it."
Donna nodded. "I know. Leo loves you like a son."
"Donna, can you stop the car for a minute?" Josh asked as they drove by a park.
"Josh…we need to get ready for work in half an hour. I really could do with some sleep."
"It will be just for a minute. I need to talk to you."
"We're talking now."
"No, I mean, talk." Josh looked at her sincerely.
Donna sighed. "Ok."
She pulled into a small parking lot overlooking the grassy banks of the dark, deserted park. She turned to look at Josh, who was getting out of the car.
"Donna, come on out of there. Look at this, it's beautiful." Josh called to her.
He waited for Donna to come out of the car and looked out over the grassy embankments. The sun was just beginning to rise over the horizon, making a hazy, pink glow in the sky.
"Wow," Donna breathed, "this is just…"
"Amazing?" Josh finished for her. He breathed in the early morning scent. "If it stayed like this, I'd stand here and watch it for hours."
He looked over at Donna and stared at the delighted expression on her face. He realised he had never loved her more.
"What did you want to talk about?" She asked, looking back at him curiously.
"I-I've been doing some thinking recently." Josh shoved his hands in his pockets and rocked to and fro on his heels a little.
Donna smiled slightly. "When you do that you're nervous about something." She said quietly, "what's getting to you Joshua?"
"You are." Josh told her, his eyes flashing at her deeply.
"I beg your pardon?" Donna asked, her eyes widening.
"No, no not in a bad way," Josh quickly corrected, seeing the hurt on her face. "See…the thing is…I, uh, you know what, I'm not good at this." He laughed shortly.
"hmm," Donna murmured. She looked encouragingly at him. "Carry on." she whispered, stepping closer.
"You're keeping me awake at night," Josh confessed, looking away from Donna's confused face.
Donna flushed. "I don't understand." She stammered.
"There's always been something missing from my life," Josh explained, reaching for her hands and holding them. "Until I met you, I've never known anyone who's had an effect on me quite like you have."
"What are you trying to say?" Donna asked, squeezing his hands.
"I'm saying that if I was ever to lose you, I don't know what I'd do. I don't think I could get over it. I'm saying that I'm in love with you, Donnatella Moss." Josh let out a breath and stared at her uncertainly.
Donna pulled away from Josh's grip and stepped back. "Have you been drinking?" she asked, wide-eyed. She turned around and walked to the car. She leaned her hands on one of the windows.
"No Donna." Josh stood behind her ear. "I met this guy that would have done anything to be near his wife tonight. He-he ran red lights for her."
He felt Donna freeze, then she slowly turned around to face him. "What?"
"It-it was like fate Donna," Josh continued fervently, "He loved his wife that much he would run red lights for her. She was having his baby. Donna…" he paused and brushed a hand over her cheek, "do you love me?"
"Josh, I-I don't know. I said I'd run red lights for you because…because." She paused and stared into his eyes. "Because I'd want to know if you were ok or not…because if you were hurt I would probably…"
"Cry? Stand feeling lost in the hospital waiting room not knowing what to say?" Josh ventured, his lips trembling. "Is that what you did when I was shot?"
Donna nodded, her eyes filling with tears. "I didn't know until I got there," she confessed, "but if I had known before, then I would have driven through the lights."
"Me too," Josh said swiftly, looking at her tellingly.
"I do love you Josh." Donna sobbed.
Josh leaned his head against hers. "It's ok." He whispered. "Everything is gonna be ok."
Donna reached up and kissed him on the lips. Josh returned the kiss and ran his hands through her hair. He pulled back after a minute, the corners of his lips slowly forming into a smile. "What do we do now?" he asked softly.
Donna pulled him to the embankment and sat down. Josh joined her and wrapped his arms around her. "Let's just…sit." She replied, smiling calmly.
"We have to get to work," Donna said eventually, yawning.
"No." Josh mumbled on her shoulder, half-asleep. "We could just sit here."
"Josh…Sagittarius." Donna gently reminded him.
Josh sighed. "I know." He stood, pulling up Donna as he did so.
"CJ told me two weeks ago that the fall is gonna kill us…is that true?" he asked sadly.
"No. President Bartlet is a fighter. We'll get through this." Donna kissed Josh on the cheek.
"If a falling satellite doesn't kill us first," She added, walking to the car.
He looked at her playfully. "There's something I've got to tell you about that theory of yours…" he told her, getting into the car.