TITLE: Food First, Then Morality
SUMMARY: "Sure, Mom." Josh froze. "Wait, what did you say"
DISCLAIMER: The setting and characters belong to Aaron Sorkin, Warner Brothers, and many people with expensive lawyers. So not mine.
NOTES: Written for the Days of Awesome Jewish Characters ficathon. The prompt was "easy fast."
Josh held the phone between his head and shoulder, stuffing papers into his briefcase. "Uh-huh," he said absently. "Sure, Mom." Josh froze. "Wait, what did you say?"

There was a pause and sigh. "I said, have an easy fast. I know it's too much to think you might spend the holiday in synagogue, but at least you'll keep the fast, right?"

Fast? Josh glanced at the wall calendar Donna had hung, with her birthday highlighted in yellow. Sure enough, today had "Yom Kippur" printed on it. Swallowing, Josh thought about the breakfast bagel at the little cafeteria down the street.

"Mom, since when do you--"

"Just do it, Joshua."

He sighed. "Yeah, I'll fast."

As he hung up, he looked longingly at his coffee machine, but he could imagine his mother looking over his shoulder.

By the time he got to the office, his mood was fouler than usual. "Donna!"

She appeared behind him supernaturally quickly, the smell of coffee preceding her. "What bit you this morning?"

"Take that away," he said, glaring at the mug, filled to the brim with piping hot caffeiney goodness.

Blinking, she looked down at the coffee. "It's not for you anyway," she said, taking a sip.

Josh scowled and stomped into his office, muttering imprecations about impertinent coffee-drinking secretaries. He could hear Donna walk in the other direction and he did not want to chase her down and snatch the mug away. Absolutely not.

He didn't have time to miss his breakfast bagel because Leo immediately sent him off to meet with Senator Brown, who was threatening to oppose the president's new immigration plan if he didn't get support for his ridiculous educational scheme, which seemed to mainly involve Bible-reading or the Ten Commandments or something.

"Josh," CJ said two hours later, munching on a handful of microwave popcorn, "I'm just saying that telling him it's a cockamamie plan wasn't exactly your brightest idea. The only reason you're not being chewed out by Leo is because Senator Brown wouldn't know cockamamie from a cocktail."

Josh took a deep lungful of imitation butter and manfully restrained a whimper. "Who knew I'd ever be grateful for the goyim."

She rolled her eyes at him.

"Fine. I won't do that again. Can I go now?"

She paused, a handful of popcorn halfway to her mouth. "You're the one who barged into my office ranting about your meeting."

"Oh. Right." He stomped out the door.

The next hour was a bit of a blur, but Josh was pretty sure he remembered yelling at two hapless interns, Donna, Margaret, and a janitor cleaning the floor.

Sam was involved somewhere as well, but he stomped off in a huff before things got to the yelling stage, so Josh didn't count him.

Every once in a while someone would venture toward his office, only to be stopped by Donna or someone else. Whispering would ensue, and then the new arrival would tiptoe away.

Josh told himself he didn't care.

When he heard footsteps enter the room, Josh refused to even look up, staring down at the paper in front of him like the economic projections for US agriculture in 2008 were the most exciting thing he'd ever seen. He'd been staring at the word "corn" for ten minutes, thinking about corn bread.

That is, he didn't look up until Toby picked up a book and slammed it down on the table, making him jump. "What?" Josh asked.

"Everyone," and Toby waved a hand at the doorway, "is worried about you."

"Since when does that bother you?" Josh narrowed his eyes.

"Since they've been invading my office for the last hour and whining and, oh for pete's sake, what do you have to do this afternoon?"


"What meetings do you have?"

"Uh..." Josh hollered, "Donna, what meetings do I have this afternoon?"

"Higher Education Act opponents at 2, Simpson's here to talk about the Farm Bill at 3:30, DoD on military pay at 4:15--"

"Thank you, Donna," Toby hollered. He crossed his arms. "Maybe there are some things more important than thinking about food. The holiday isn't about the fast."

Josh stared at him. "Huh?"

"Look, I don't care if you eat or not, that's not my problem. But the point of the holiday is repentance and atonement, not yelling at everyone who crosses your path.

Rolling his eyes, Toby turned and stomped out the door. "I'm going back to my office now," he said over his shoulder. "Services start again in a few hours and for some reason, my rabbi thinks I've got a lot of repenting to do."

Josh made it through the rest of the afternoon without eating anything, and a good argument with Simpson got his energy going. The next thing he knew, the sun was almost down, which he noticed as he argued his way past a window toward a meeting with the president.

"Donna, go get me something to eat, would you?" he said as he went past her desk.

She looked up, seemingly about to say something sarcastic, but after a moment, she said, "Sure. It'll be in your office when you get back."

He figured she'd probably find him the oldest driest sandwich in the cafeteria as punishment for making her get it, but at this point, anything would do.

Which is why he was surprised by what he found when he opened the takeout box on his desk. As he reached for his dinner, the phone rang. Groaning, Josh picked it up.

"Hey," he said into the receiver, staring desperately at the steak sandwich, nestled in a pile of crispy fries with steam still rising off them. The cole slaw looked so crisp, he could feel the crunch already.

"Hello, dear. How was your day?" his mother asked. "Did you have an easy fast?"

Mouth watering, he glanced up as Donna and Sam walked by the office. He could hear CJ yelling something at them from down the hall. "Piece of cake, Mom." There was a squawk from the other end of the line. "I mean, not that I ate a piece of cake."

Josh grabbed the sandwich and shoved a corner in his mouth as his mother started talking.