TITLE: "Underneath" (1/1)
AUTHOR: Marie-Claude Danis
EMAIL: mc@fangy.net
SITE: http://fangy.net/ww
SPOILERS: Set right after "Isaac & Ishmael".
PAIRING: Josh/Abbey
SUMMARY: "She moves quickly, opening the door like being found out would rid her of the temptation."

* * *

The door hinges creak softly, and he can tell by the sound that it's not Donna. He stops pushing papers around on his desk and turns to face her.

"Evening, ma'am."

"Good evening, Josh. Weren't you going home?"

Her voice has that usual singsong to it, that tone that is so misleading to most. He usually knows better that to trust it, but tonight he chooses to let it misdirect him as she pleases. He thinks she knows it, too.

"I was."

He brings his attention back to the mess that covers his desk, and wonders how he ever gets any work done at all. He hears her close the door and her heels scratch at the polished floor hesitantly. He tries very hard not to listen to the familiar sound.

She leans against the cramped table, watching him move.

"You nearly talked yourself hoarse in there."

"Seemed like a good idea..." he mumbles, but he's distracted.

He realises he doesn't remember what he was looking for and stops searching, fingers trailing idly over a stack of files he's pretty sure just magically materialised there during the last hour.


"Mrs. Bartlet, you shouldn't be here." He finally turns to her, and she can tell he's nowhere as sure as he sounds.

She chews at the inside of her lip and considers him calmly. "I know." It occurs to her to he's the first person she can remember ever knowingly showing her weaknesses to.

He chuckles listlessly, looking down and scratching the back of his head. "It's a bit late for that, though."

He moves to walk around his desk, to put it and all that covers it between him and her, but she reaches out awkwardly and her hand brushes against his sleeve. He hesitates - because it would be so easy. The moment stretches, teetering between catastrophe and not. The choice isn't as obvious as one would think, and they have previous mistakes to tempt them further. His fingers brush against the inside of her wrist, immensely gentle.


"I'm sorry." Her voice is weary too, suddenly, and she moves quickly, opening the door like being found out would rid her of the temptation. "I'm sorry."

Josh feels like he's stepping back onto the carousel. He speaks to an empty room now, training his gaze to the familiar clutter again instead of the shadows of the empty bullpen, where quiet footsteps threaten to shatter glass.

"Maybe another time."

He'd laugh if it wouldn't break his heart clear in two.