DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything associated with the show… I just like playing with the characters in it from time to time. Dance Monkeys! Dance!
RATING: T for Teen
PAIRINGS: J/D (Josh/Donna)
WORD COUNT: 2155
SUMMARY: Josh is running late for a speech.
A/N: I've done it again. Started watching the episodes again, and a little idea came to my head. Any and all West Wing Fics are the sole and complete blame of my incredible friend TyriaT. I hope you enjoy it.
REVIEWS: Reviews are the way I know if people are enjoying the work or not. So, if you leave one, THANKS! And if not, I hope you found at least a little something to brighten your day, and thanks for taking the time to read.
"You're late." Donna didn't even bother to say hello. She met him at the door and rushed him through the hall.
"I am not late." He took a quick glance at his watch. "I've got a good twenty minutes before I'm even in the neighborhood of late."
"No." She took his briefcase and handed him a cup of coffee as they quick stepped around a cart. "You are twenty minutes away from being so late that you missed the entire thing."
"That's impossible." He took a drink from the cup and looked at his watch again. "It's only quarter to eleven."
"Wrong again, it's almost eleven thirty." As Josh stopped in his tracks, Donna reached up and pulled his coat off.
"How can it be almost eleven thirty when my watch says it's quarter 'til?" He untangled his arm from the sleeve and brought his wrist up to his ear.
"Do I really have to explain this again?" Folding the coat over her arm, Donna glared at him in disgust.
Josh hung his head. "It's my watch, isn't it?"
"And why is that?" Her brow climbed up her forehead with the question.
He lifted his head up sideways and winced as he asked, "Because my watch sucks?"
"Because your watch sucks." Donna flattened his lapels and re-tucked his tie. "And why exactly do you continue to rely on a watch that sucks?"
He looked down at his tie and finally admitted, "Because it's my Dad's watch."
Donna looked up with a start and Josh watched as she stood there gaping at his disclosure. Uncomfortable with her silence, he took one last drink from the cup and handed it back to her before asking. "Where am I going?"
As she shook the cobwebs loose Donna took the cup of coffee and gestured to the door beside him.
Leaving her speechless in the hall, he stepped into the room. With twenty two pairs of ten year old eyes observing his entrance, Josh suddenly felt more anxiety than he had before his first presidential election campaign.
"And right on time, Mr. Lyman. " The teacher greeted him and then turned to the towheaded boy in the first row. "Noah, would you like to introduce your father?"
As his son stood up, Josh finally found the power to move again. But it was Noah's words that gave him his confidence back. "This is Joshua Lyman, he's worked for two presidents, he's the smartest man in the Democratic Party, and he's my Dad."
"Well…" He patted his son's head as he walked past him. "With an introduction like that, I guess this better be good."
Smiling, the teacher welcomed him to her classroom, "Thank you for taking the time for our career day, Mr. Lyman."
"Speaking of time, let me first apologize for running late. It seems I need to get a better watch." The children all laughed, and Josh watched as Donna slipped into the room and stood in the back.
"So, I am a professional politician." There were a few snickers from the parents seated in the back of the room. Pausing to acknowledge their humor, Josh forged ahead. "I have spent my entire adult life in the business of governing, and yet, I've never been elected to a single office. In fact, I have rarely even been considered a likeable person, let alone popular enough to vote for." That time the parents and the students laughed.
Josh smiled when they got the joke. "I have also spent my whole life surrounded by people who were leaps and bounds smarter than me. Experts in their fields; scientists, economists, judges, philosophers and presidents. Tons of people who were way smarter than I have ever been. So, I'm not here to tell you all to go into politics, or the law, or the government for that matter. No, I'm here to bring you a far more important message." He looked out into a sea of confused faces and he knew they were ready.
"I can stand here right now and tell you, without a doubt, that you don't have to be the smartest guy in the room to succeed. You don't even need to be the most popular girl to make a name for yourself. No, if you want to succeed, and you want to make a difference in this world, then there are two things you absolutely have to do." Josh opened his jacket and sat down on the edge of the teacher's desk. "The first thing you have to do is work hard."
The kids all rolled their eyes and groaned, but he chuckled and went on to explain, "Now, I know you think that's what everyone tells you. But I wasn't the smartest guy around, so I had to work hard to keep with those smart people. I had to study twice as hard as everyone else, and I did it. I worked my tail off and as a result I went Harvard and I went to Yale and I was a Fulbright Scholar." The room broke out in a short round of applause, but he only saw his son beaming up at him with that same look Josh remembered seeing on another face from time to time.
He went on to talk about working in the White House, and some of his favorite moments from his years in public service. But there was one little girl seated in the middle of the room who seemed bothered by something through his whole schpeel. He liked that she wasn't falling for all the flashy stories.
When he got to a good stopping point, he looked at his watch and realized it was still a quarter to eleven. "Okay, I have no clue how long I've been talking now." Shaking his watch to try and get it started again, he laughed it off. "Sorry about that, but I got a little too used to having someone else tell me what time it is." He was sure to find Donna's face when he made the joke.
After giving Noah a wink when he laughed at his father's joke, Josh found the skeptical little girl again and pointed to her. "Did you have a question?"
She looked positively stricken to be in the center of the spotlight, and he worried for a moment the girl would bolt from the room. But she nervously cleared her throat and softly asked. "What's the other thing?"
He heard her, but he was trying to make a point, so he asked again. "I'm sorry, what was your question?"
The girl shrank a little with every eye on her. Her voice became even softer as she said again, "What's the other thing?"
Josh knew he was baiting her, but it was important to the message he was ultimately there to bring. "I'm sorry, it's hard to hear you…what's your question?"
Frustration showed in her face when this time she spoke louder, "You said there were two things we had to do. So, what was the other thing?"
He watched as the girl looked around the room to see that every eye was on her, and he smiled. "Just that… Never give up. If you have something to say, say it. If there is something that needs to be done, do it. If something needs to change, change it. Don't give up until you've accomplished your goals. Speak up, speak louder, make sure someone is listening, and never ever give up." He stood up from the desk and held up his hands. "That's why I'm here today."
The girl smiled at him for the first time, and gave her a wink. His eyes once again swept the room, but they settled solidly on Donna. "I am a living legacy of the proof that you can be anything you want, just so long as you work hard, and you never give up. I learned this lesson from my father, who learned it from his father. And I'm pretty sure he learned it from his father before him." When Donna gave him a watery smile, he had to look away from her.
Josh finished up his presentation with just a few questions from the children and then the teacher thanked him, as well as all of the other parents for being there. As he thought about what he had just done, Josh realized that never in a million years did he think one day he would be talking to a room full of grade school kids. But the really impossible thing to imagine was that one of those kids would belong to him.
Noah had his hand firmly tucked into his father's grip as Josh answered a few questions from the parents. As proud as he was of his son, Josh could also see his son's pride shining back up at him.
When they made their way to the back of the room, Josh smiled as the crowd parted and he could see Donna again. "So, how'd I do?"
She shrugged and handed him his coat. "You didn't commit to drawing the girl out enough, but it wasn't bad for your first career day."
He took the coat and chuffed at her criticism. "I committed just fine, thank you very much. Any more than that and the poor kid would have been crying."
Donna shook her head as she gave Noah his coat. "Oh please. Like every girl is going to wilt and tremble at the mighty Josh Lyman."
Josh's mouth hung open at her analysis. "Come on, Donna. We're talking about a kid!" His face betrayed the hint of a pout as he added, "And besides…there was definite wiltage."
"Fine…" Donna straightened the boy's hood when she acquiesced. "If it will make you feel better…I'll agree she was scared."
"Me feel better? Seriously? I do this for a living, my dear, and I'll ask you to remember that fact, lady." Josh buttoned his coat and shook his head as they made their way out into the hall.
"I said I would agree with you. What more do you want?" Donna tossed the coffee cup into a trash can as the three started down the hall. With Noah in the middle, a hand clasped by each parent, he toggled his gaze back and forth between them as they spoke.
"I want you to stand on the highest mountain and proclaim, 'Josh Lyman is the best speaker on the face of the planet!' That's what I want." With his other hand, Josh gestured wildly.
"Ha! Like that's ever gonna happen, buddy." Donna shot back at him. "I can name at least a half dozen people who are better speakers than you." She caught her son's eye and winked at him before sticking the knife in. "Myself included."
"YOU! Oh, that's rich." Josh let out a disgusted grunt. "Puh-lease! Like you're even in the same league as me. What in the world makes you think you're a better speaker than I am?"
She shrugged it off as she pulled the car keys out of her pocket. "Well, I get just as many invitations to speak as you do, but I pull in two times the per engagement price." After opening the back door and letting her son into the car, she opened her door and tossed him the keys from over the roof.
Josh caught the keys and just stared at her. "Really? I wonder why that is." He was truly dumbfounded by that fact.
"I imagine some of it comes from the fact that I always get there on time." Josh glared at her when he saw the devilish grin forming on her face.
"Not funny, Donna." He fought to maintain his icy stare, even though her wide mouth smile always did him in.
"Oh come on… It was just a little funny?" The delighted laughter of their son tickled both of their hearts and Josh finally gave up.
"Fine, but you guys owe me some ice cream for all this abuse." They both slid into the car and Josh put the key in the ignition before he stopped. "Think we have time to get to Shaeffer's Ice Cream Parlour for the early bird special?" His expression could only be described as boyish when he asked the question.
Noah quickly stripped the red banded watch from his wrist and handed it to his father. Josh looked down and found the tell-tale picture of Bucky Badger in the center of the watch face and he shook his head. Noah's Grampa Moss was doing everything in his power to instill some good old Wisconsin Badger pride in his grandson. "Take my watch, Dad. Your watch kinda sucks."
Josh narrowed his eyes at Donna who was desperately trying not to laugh through the hand covering her mouth.
Starting the car, Josh launched into another speech. "Lemme tell ya something about this watch, sport."