Chapter 17

Josh Lyman swaggered back into the West Wing like he owned it.

Rebecca met him at the door with a cup of decaf coffee and a bright


"You look great, boss. Welcome back!"

"Thanks Rebecca, it feels good to be back. What have you got for me


"You have a full schedule until 1 and then physical therapy at 3.

Senior staff starts in 10 minutes."

Rebecca continued to brief him on his appointments while Josh looked

around the building to see what had changed. Not much, he surmised.

Life appeared to go on just fine without his presence. He wasn't sure

if he was glad or disappointed about that. Then he ran into Sam.

"Hey, man. You're back!" he engaged him in a male back slapping

type hug. "How was Connecticut?"

"Amazing. I'll tell you about it later. What's up for senior staff?"

"Brady's going to re-introduce health care. Toby thinks we can get on

board with it with a few adjustments, but you know him better than

anyone else so we need to get your input. I put a draft of the

Presidents remarks to the AMA on your desk, you probably won't have

time to get to it today, but CJ wants you to look at it and make sure

the policy implications aren't going go get legislative affairs hot

under the collar. See you in staff in a couple minutes, okay?"

"Okay." Josh chuckled. So much for not feeling needed.

"Rebecca, what's next?"

"We need to get Layton on board. Once we get her, Brady will be

more willing to let us tweak the bill, but we need to have a concrete list

of the changes we want because we won't get another bite at the

apple." Josh explained.

"Once it gets introduced on the floor, we want to be behind it or

have a very good reason why we're against improving health care

initiatives." Bartlet interjected.

"That's right, sir." Josh agreed.

"Then you better get Layton on board." The President commented.

"Yes, sir. I'll have Rebecca set something up right away." Josh

started to rise, believing senior staff was being dismissed.

"I read a fascinating book over the weekend…" the President began

as groans were heard around the room. "CJ, did you know that in

ancient times wedding rings were made from hemp or vine and

replaced when they became worn?"

`Oh, so busted' thought Josh. CJ just shook her head no, confused by

the topic change.

"Yes, it wasn't until the Roman times that wedding rings were made

from steel to symbolize the strength of marriage." The President

continued. "And the cake, Sam, was originally included in the

ceremony because grain was a symbol of fertility."

"Okay, well that's good to know I guess, sir." Sam was looking at him

strangely. This was a very odd segue, even for the President.

"Seeing a lamb, spider, frog, or a rainbow before the wedding is

considered good luck. Did you see any of those things on Friday,

Joshua?" Bartlet asked with a twinkle in his eyes.

"No, sir, I didn't" Josh smiled back.

Toby was the first to put it together and look at Josh's left hand.

"You got married on Friday?" Toby exclaimed.

"Yeah, we did." Josh admitted.

"You got Donna to marry you? What did you do, drug her?" CJ teased.

"Yeah, and I have some left over if you wanted to try it out on a

reporter of some kind." Josh teased back.

"Congratulations, mi amore." CJ hugged him. Congratulations and

good wishes were bouncing around the room. When Josh got to the

President he paused.

"Let me guess…my Mother?" Josh asked.

"She called Leo on Wednesday. She said it was to give us a heads up

in case it hit the media somehow."

"Right, because that was likely to happen." Josh replied.

"Don't give your Mother a hard time, son. You've made her wait long

enough for this day." Leo put in his two cents. "Now get back to


"Yes, boss." Everyone scattered to their offices.

By noon, Josh found himself checking the clock every few minutes,

anxious to see his family. By 12:45 he gave up all pretense of work

and stopped by Rebecca's desk to tell her he was going to the lobby

to wait for Donna and Jake when she took the wind out of his sails.

"Sorry, boss. Leo needs you in the mural room. He just called."

"But- Yeah, okay, I'm on my way." This was not going to be a problem

he assured himself. 15 minutes was plenty of time to take care of

whatever Leo needed and still be on time for lunch with Donna and

Jake. He practically ran to the mural room and only gave a

perfunctory knock before opening the door.

"Surprise!" came from all over the room as he entered. Wedding

shower decorations were everywhere and as Josh looked around the

room, he saw friends, colleagues, members of Congress, and his

family seated right in the center of it all.

He smiled his appreciation and began to walk toward Donna. A hand

grabbing his arm stopped him and turned him around.

"Congratulations, little brother." Joanie told him.

"Hey, you're back!" Josh exclaimed as he hugged his sister.

"You couldn't wait until I got back to get married?"

"It's not my fault you decided to go to a conference in London when I

finally got the nerve to get married." Josh replied.

"You're lucky I'm too happy for you to be pissed at you. Besides, now

you're going to owe me for the rest of your life." Joanie told him.

"How do you figure that?"

"You would never have even met Donna if it wasn't for me."

"Then I owe you more than I can ever repay." He replied honestly.

"Go circulate, Joshua. Your bride is waiting patiently for you."

"You knew about this?" Josh accused as he met Donna and kissed

her to the delight of the crowd.

"Margaret called me on my cell Thursday morning." She confessed.

Calls were made for a speech and Josh reluctantly obliged.

"I'm sure Donna would want me to thank all of you for your thoughtful

surprise, but since I know you better than she does, I know there is

an ulterior motive here. You just want a chance to tell her

embarrassing stories about me."

"We don't have that kind of time, Josh." Toby quipped.

"Thanks pal. However, seeing as there are many voting members of

Congress present, I was thinking I could take this opportunity to

address the reasons you should vote for HR 352…"

There were cat calls and boo's throughout the room.

"Okay, okay. Seriously, thank you for this party, thanks for covering

for me while I was gone, and most of all, thanks for your friendship

and support throughout this ordeal. We are very lucky to have such

wonderful friends." Josh said sincerely.

"Kiss her already!" Sam called.

"I second the motion." Leo joined in.

"Without objection." Josh replied. He pulled Donna up next to him and

kissed her like they were alone in their room. Everyone applauded,

led by Jake who was watching while sitting on the First Lady's lap.

Thanksgiving Day

Manchester Farm

8 years later

Jed and Abby Bartlet were waiting for the Lymans on their porch when

they drove up. Jake was the first one out of the car and rushed up to

greet the Bartlets. He was followed by his 6 year old sister Sarah

who was holding the leash attached to their dog Madison. Joshua

grabbed a couple of their bags while Donna got 2 year old Noah out of

his car seat.

It had been very hard on all of them losing Josh's Dad the previous

year, but Josh was grateful that his Dad had fought long enough to

meet his namesake. There was some consolation in that his Dad had

a chance to see him happily settled with a family of his own. That was

just one thing he was grateful for on this Thanksgiving Day.

"Are we the first ones here?" Josh asked the President.

"Mallory, Sam and Leo are inside while Laura is taking a nap. Danny,

CJ and their brood won't fly in for another hour. Toby, Andi, and the

twins are driving up tomorrow. MY girls have abandoned me for their

respective in-laws. Come on in and get settled." Jed led them

inside. "The kids are getting so big."

"Yeah, Jake is in junior high. He's going to hit you up for help in

his social studies class, so be prepared. They're studying the middle

east peace conference." Josh replied.

"I think I may be able to handle that." Jed chuckled. "Have you been

doing your homework?"

"Let's save that until the rest of the gang arrives." Josh hedged.

By Friday evening, pandemonium reigned at the Bartlet farm. After all

the games they played and sugar they ingested, it took a long time to

settle the kids down to bed. Once they had accomplished that, the

adults gathered in the family room to share some wine and catch up.

At the first lull in the conversation, Joshua brought up the subject

Jed had alluded to earlier.

"I got confirmation from Jorgenson before we left home. He is NOT

going to seek re-election in the Senate." Everyone turned to look at

Sam for his reaction.

"Guys, I've only been in Congress for 6 years. I'm not sure it's-"

"It's time Sam." Josh interrupted.

"It's time Samuel." CJ confirmed. There was a long pause.

"You're unusually silent, Toby." Sam noticed.

"Don't try to write your speeches yourself, Robin. If you want a

hand, I could take a leave of absence from Columbia for a year."

"Okay, first of all, would you lose the Batman references? And

secondly, this is it? This is all the debate we're going to have

about what amounts to a huge move in my political career?" Sam

asked incredulously.

"You're the only one who seems to need convincing." Mallory

responded. When Josh had initially talked to her about the idea she

was a little hesitant. Not because she thought her husband might not

be ready, but because she thought she might not be ready. It was

thoughtful of Josh to come to her first; unusually thoughtful, which

made her suspect Donna was behind it. Regardless, she was ready


"This is what we talked about, Sam." Bartlet added. Sam looked at his

former boss and mentor in the eye.

"And if I do this, you're all in with me?' he asked the group at


"Every last one of us." Donna promised.

Sam looked around the room again, taking in the faces of his friends

and colleagues. They had been through so much together, and yet

their hardships had only cemented their relationships further. Maybe

they were right, maybe it was time to reach for the next level.

Whatever the future held, he couldn't possibly have assembled a

better dream team than the one sitting around him right now.

"I may regret this…but okay, let's file for the Senate seat." Sam


"Ladies and Gentlemen, a toast to Senator Seaborn." Jed proclaimed.

Everyone toasted and immediately broke into strategy conversations.

"You ready for this?" Josh asked Donna. Running Sam's campaign for

Senate was going to impact their lives dramatically too.

"I think it's perfect, and paving the way the Mallory first was

particularly inspired."

"That wasn't my idea. That was yours." Josh corrected her.

"That's right, it was… I think I should get extra credit for that."

"You know, I do too." Josh smiled and kissed her.

The End.