When It Matters
Josh and Toby really need to talk. Post Drought Conditions.
Josh, CJ and Toby.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately it appears I don't own them and no amount of wishing is going to make it so. Therefore, if Toby, CJ or Josh are yours please don't sue, I have no money and am not doing this for profit.

When It Matters

Josh watched the reception from a quiet corner of the room. He'd been to literally thousands of these in the last seven years but he'd never really had a chance to just stand on the edges and watch before. He could see the president talking to Cliff Calley, while Kate and Charlie stood just far enough away to be out of ear shot, but close enough to steer any undesirable guests away. It was quite a culture shock for Josh, to realize that he now fell into that category. He knew better than to try and get to talk to the president though, not that he needed to see him anyway. Josh and the president talked frequently on the phone, something no one else, not even Santos, knew about. That was how he'd known that the Rafferty's health bill ideas hadn't come from the Oval Office.

CJ saw Josh standing sipping his drink and walked over to him. "Hey, you missing all this?" she asked.

"It's only a temporary absence," he replied with a small smile.

"I hope so."

"But you don't think so," he finished.

CJ didn't reply to that. "Not going to try and sneak a few words with the president?" she asked instead.

"I tried earlier, Debbie wouldn't let me in."

"No desperate need to talk to him then?"

"What would be the point? He can't come out and endorse a candidate."

"Very true, although some members of the press seem to think he's chosen his guy anyway."

Josh shrugged, "He's allowed a personal opinion."

"Not that you'd know anything about that."

"You think the president includes me in his personal thoughts?"

"I suspect that on this he might, yes," CJ smiled.

Josh sipped his drink again but didn't reply. "Where's Toby?" he asked.



"He doesn't need anymore hassle at the moment, Josh."

"He's a grown man, CJ, he can fight his own battles."

"Not at the moment."

"I'm not going to argue with him, I just don't want to leave town without seeing him. I don't want to leave things like this."

CJ relented, "He went down to the bar, be gentle with him."

"I'm not going to start brawling again."

"I'd hope not, but still... he lost his brother, Josh."


Five hours later, Josh pulled a pillow over his head and hoped that whoever was outside would go away and leave him alone. This was the first time in months he'd slept in his own bed, he had an early flight and he wasn't happy at being dragged out of a deep sleep by the incessant ringing of his door bell. Just as he thought whoever it was had given up, his cell phone rang, he cursed and fumbled to open the phone without checking the display.

"Yes?" he muttered angrily.

"I'm standing out here in the rain, let me in."

"Yeah," Josh sighed. He hung up, stumbled out of bed and opened his apartment door to a very wet Toby. "No umbrella?"

"Apparently not," Toby agreed.


"I... we need to talk about... you know."

Josh turned back to Toby ready to do battle again, although verbally this time, when he noticed the cut on Toby's cheek. "Did I do that?" he asked in a concerned voice.

Toby's fingered the cut and smiled slightly. "Yeah."

"God, Toby, I'm sorry. You want a drink or something?"

Once their coffees were made they took them into the living room and sat awkwardly on opposite chairs, neither knowing where to begin. Josh went first. "I'm sorry about David, I hadn't realized it was so advanced. Was there nothing they could do?"

"Apparently not," Toby replied. "I wanted to call you, but..." he shrugged. "It didn't feel... I didn't know what to say."

Josh nodded, he knew that feeling, telling people someone had died made it too real too quickly. "I'm sorry about the thing in your office, that was out of line. I didn't mean what I said."

"You sounded pretty convincing."

"You know me, speak first, think about the consequences later. I lashed out, I've been doing that a bit lately."

"You okay?" Toby asked, because later when he sat in the bar and thought about what Josh had said, the rant had been strangely familiar, reminded him too much of Christmas 2000.

Josh knew what Toby was referring to, but, as easy as it would be to blame his outburst on PTSD, he was wrong. "I'm fine, stressed, tired, a little irritable maybe, but fine."

Toby wasn't completely convinced. For the past four years, since he'd been diagnosed, Josh had had his friends to keep a quiet discreet eye on him, now Donna was working for his opponent, Sam was in California, and the rest of them were still in the Washington.

Josh could see Toby wasn't buying his denials. "I promise; no nightmares, no flashbacks, no episodes of any kind. I was just being me," he smiled, "no kind of breakdown or mental instability to blame, just me being myself."

"Okay," Toby nodded.

"I came down to the bar to apologize, but you were busy." When he'd left CJ earlier in the evening, Josh had gone down to the bar to find Toby, only to see him talking to Rafferty. He hadn't dared go over to them, didn't trust himself to hold his temper in check, so instead he'd turned round and gone back to the reception.

"I saw you," Toby agreed. "I was telling her it was over, I wasn't going to help anymore."

"Really? Thanks."

"It was Leo who made me realize I couldn't do it, and CJ."

Josh nodded, "My mom always said violence doesn't work. Thanks anyway."

"You see much of Donna?" Toby asked in an attempt to change the subject.

"Yeah. At first it was weird, didn't know what to say to each, me and Donna, can you imagine that? But we're okay now, considering we're on opposing sides." Josh put his mug on the coffee table and studied Toby for a second. "Would you really have left the White House if I'd asked?"


Josh wasn't sure what to say to that. He'd been completely taken aback by what Toby had said earlier. He did have to say one thing though. "Santos isn't a garage sale find, he's..."

"I know. I was angry."

"Yeah, I noticed. If I'd known you'd wanted to come, why didn't you say?"

"You should have known, you should have known I'd help. I shouldn't have had to ask, to tell you. You should have known," Toby replied, his tone a mixture of anger and hurt.

"You said I was crazy, that I was walking away before it was over. How was I suppose to know you wanted to walk away with me?"

"Because... eight years we've worked together, Josh. You just go and leave." Toby was stood up now, pacing the room. "How could you just go and leave us behind? How do you just give up on us?"

"I didn't give up..." Josh started to protest.

"After everything that happened, everything we've been through together and you just leave, without to thought to the rest of us, to the people you're leaving behind," Toby shouted.

"Toby, I haven't left anyone behind. People move on, it's what Leo told me and he was right. Someone had to think about the next eight years. Someone..."

"And you called me selfish," Toby replied.

"Yeah, can't think why," Josh's tone was sarcastic.

"This was a mistake. I should have known better than try and talk to you. When have you ever listened to me. You just go off and do what you want and the rest of us be damned!" Toby's voice broke as he finished the sentance.

Josh was about to launch into another defense of his actions but the sudden catch in Toby's voice made him stop. "What's wrong?" he asked. "I don't mean me leaving because that isn't it, what's going on?"

Toby sat down and stared at the coffee table. "You have any alcohol?"

"JD?" Josh asked.


Josh poured them both a glass of Jack Daniels and handed one to Toby. "Have I really pissed you off that much, 'cos that was never my intention."


"Good. So...?"

"David, it's hard accepting he's gone."

Josh nodded, "I know."

"And please don't tell me time's a healer because that's crap," Toby continued.

"Yes it is," Josh agreed. "I would have come to the funeral if you'd asked."

"No one came. His wife didn't want anyone but family."

"How's she doing?" Josh asked, ridiculous question he knew but he couldn't think what to say.

"How would you expect?" Toby muttered. "My father's staying with them for a while."

"That's good, isn't it?"

"I couldn't. I couldn't wait to get away, to get back here."

Josh wasn't sure what to make of that. "Grief effects people in different ways."

"It's not grief," Toby replied. "It's anger. He killed himself, Josh. He gave up on us all and killed himself with a length of hose attached to his exhaust. I can't forgive him that."

Josh was stunned. "I didn't know."

"I'd have been there with him if he'd asked me, if he'd talked to me, but he didn't. He just left us all to carry on without him." Toby stopped talking and took a drink before looking back down at his hands.

"God, Toby," Josh said. Suddenly Toby's rant made perfect sense. "I'm sorry, no one told me."

"You and CJ are the only ones who know," Toby said and stood up. "I should go."

"Stay. It's a monsoon out there, stay in the guest room." The weather wasn't the thing that was bothering Josh though, he really didn't think Toby should be alone, not at the moment.

"I don't want to be any trouble," Toby replied and picked up his coat.

"Trouble?" Josh asked. "You're not being any trouble. Just because I left the White House doesn't mean I left our friendship as well. You're one of my best, closest, friends, Toby. You know I'm there for you, you only have to call me."

"Would you?" Toby had to know. "If you needed my help, would you call me?"

"You know I would. Who else would I turn to? You've always been there when it mattered. Rosslyn, that Christmas, after Carrick," Josh smiled slightly, "Not to mention Mary Marsh."

"Probably best not to mention Mary Marsh," Toby agreed.

"You're a good brother, Toby," Josh said. "Something I know CJ and Sam would agree with."

"Thanks," Toby replied with a mixture of pride and embarrassment.

"You want another drink?"

"Coffee would be good, actually."

"Go take a shower while I make it," Josh instructed.

Twenty minutes later Toby emerged from Josh's bathroom in a pair of sweatpants and a Yale t-shirt. He poured himself a coffee and joined Josh in the living room.

"Feeling dryer?" Josh asked.

"Yeah. So is the president calling you?" Toby asked.

"What about?"

"Football, you know how loves so discuss football," Toby sighed. "The campaign."

"He isn't allowed to that," Josh replied.

"But he is, isn't he?"

"Why would you think that?"

"CJ thinks he is."

"He may have called occasionally to wish me luck."

"CJ thinks he's chosen his guy and it's yours."

Josh shrugged, "The president knows a winner when he sees one, but he isn't allowed to help the campaign. Of course if his communications director were to offer advice from time to time, it wouldn't go unappreciated."

"Is Santos the real thing?" Toby asked.

"Yes," Josh replied.

Toby nodded and stood up. "I'm going to bed, I'll se you in the morning."

Josh smiled. "Good night."