Title: Making Bath Time
Original Published: Oct. 27, 2006
Prompt: "washing dishes" (with the optional prompt of "lots of porn and orgasms")
Notes: Written for the 2006 LJ Bubbleficathon.
When you got married, you promised yourself that you would make it home every night in time for dinner. You wouldn't let your job get in the way of what was truly important to you. But your job doesn't care about what you want and it's tough to go fumbling for your keys when there is a national crisis.
You can hear the sounds of splashing coming from the bathroom as you dump your bag and put away your coat. At least you made it home for bath time.
She's already happily ensconced in the bubbles. The shampoo has been worked into a rich lather and her hair then styled to form circles on either side of her head. Mouse ears are the only way she will consent to have her hair washed.
"MOMMY!" she shrieks when she catches sight of you in the doorway. Josh turns around to grin at you and you laugh at the picture he makes. His shirt is soaked and there are bubbles in his hair.
"I think some of those bubbles have migrated there, Ace," you snicker. Josh immediately raises himself on his knees to peer into the bathroom mirror.
"Those must have come from washing the dishes," he muses as he ruffles his hair, oblivious to the fact that he's getting even more bubbles worked in as he does.
Suddenly, the burden of the day lifts from your shoulders and you sink onto the toilet seat with a sigh of relief.
"Tough day?" your husband asks.
"Brutal. Days like today make me think I should have stayed as your assistant."
"You don't mean that."
"I do. If I'd stayed as your assistant, I could be helping you with your next book instead of corralling reluctant senators to pass emergency legislation. I'd be home every night for dinner, not racing in at the tail end of bath time."
"If you'd stayed as my assistant, you'd still be helping me corral reluctant senators. We'd both be eating take out because I'd need you to work late. And there'd be no one waiting at home needing bath time."
There's really no way you can argue with that. So instead of continuing that line of conversation, you bring up something that's been bothering you.
"Did you know that Senator Gersh approached me about running his campaign?"
"Well, I have to admit, I'd heard a rumor, but I didn't know he'd actually talked to you. When was this?"
"Yesterday. I told him that I was needed at the White House."
"I've become suspicious of those who decide on their own that they're going to be the next President."
"Not everyone wants to wait for their own personal cocktail napkin. Or for you to show up on their doorstep Christmas Eve."
"Well that's just as well, because I think my frequent flyer days are over. Now if they were waiting for you to show up, it'd be a different story!"
"It wasn't meant to be a joke. It's your time now."
"I don't know if it is. Besides, I don't want to work against the Vice President."
"So work for the Vice President. Or work for Will."
"Will Bailey, Congressman from Oregon?"
"Really? Never heard of him. Is he new?"
"The Republicans weren't very happy about losing that seat to him and they aren't going to make his reelection easy. Will could probably use a friendly face... or three. A few months out in Oregon wouldn't hurt any of us. I mean, Nora's not in school yet, and I can write anywhere. Besides, it'd be a lot easier than a presidential campaign. I'm assuming that's what you're most worried about."
It's scary how well this man knows you sometimes.
Josh lifts your daughter out of the tub and you wrap her in a towel that envelops her completely. Once you've helped her dry off, Josh slips her nightgown over her head and you comb her hair, ridding it of its tangles. You know you should blow dry it, but she honestly hates that noise machine. Fortunately, her hair is so fine that it dries pretty quickly.
"Why don't you go pick out a couple of books to read, kiddo?" Josh suggests and Nora happily scampers off. Obviously, the grown up part of this evening's conversation is about to begin.
"You want to talk about this evening?"
"Not particularly. How did you do this job for seven years? I mean, on top of being Deputy Chief of Staff, you were essentially Director of Legislative Affairs, too. How did you do that?"
"I had you."
"Alex is very good at her job. She makes me feel inadequate sometimes. I still don't have any idea how you did it!"
"I'm not talking the fact that you were a competent assistant who regularly made me feel inadequate. I'm talking about the fact that I had you there at the office every day. If you'd been waiting for me at home, then that's where I would have wanted to be. And I think it goes without saying that you'd rather be here as I try to write the next great political manifesto... if only to ensure I don't completely mess up our daughter's upbringing."
"There's no way you could do that. But I do want to be here... just because I like watching you do it. I just want to be here. Period."
"You need to be doing what you're doing. Because you do love it most of the time."
"I know. It's just... I feel like such a neglectful parent."
"Of course you're not. You're there when she needs you. For crying out loud, you'll probably be writing your political manifesto right about the time Nora hits puberty. She's going to need you a hell of a lot more then than she does now."
"Yeah... High school's hell."
"It is. Right now is the easy part. You just need to make sure that she's fed and loved and anything else is just a bonus."
"Josh, Nora's three and she already knows the alphabet, can count to twenty and recite the Preamble of the Constitution."
"Eh. What can I say? I'm an overachiever who knows the value of Sesame Street and School House Rock. Maybe someday I'll even get the whole clothing thing down. You know, so you don't have to pick out Nora's outfit everyday to keep her from looking like she was dressed by a mental patient. The pigtails might always be beyond me, though."
"Josh Lyman, admitting he's bad at something?"
"Don't mock. I get it enough from Toby. He claims he can french braid!"
"I don't know whether to be impressed or terrified!"
"Tell me about it," Josh sighed gloomily.
"As long as one of us knows how to french braid, I think we'll be fine."
"Yup. We're a good team."
"We are, aren't we?"
"Definitely. So if you still want to throw those pills of yours out, I think we'll be able to handle another Lyman running about."
"You sure? If we're going to Oregon... I'm a little anxious about being pregnant on the campaign trail. I'm not sure they really go together on a physical level, if what I went through with Nora was any indication. I wouldn't want to do anything that might put our baby in danger. So unless we decide to wait on a brother or sister for Nora, I think campaigning is out."
"It doesn't have to be that black and white. Especially not during a Congressional race. I mean, look at Andi! And we don't have to solve everything tonight. How about you read our girl her bedtime story and get her settled in? I'll draw you a bath and you can soak while you read one of those weird romance books you like that has lots of porn and orgasms and heroes named Blake or Blaine."
"I have a better idea, Bubble Boy. Why don't I help you wash that soap out of your hair and we'll see what comes up?"