Summary: What if Josh hadn't gotten the help he needed in Noel?
Note: This is pretty depressing stuff, so if you don't like sad, stop now. Anything in italics is a memory. Josh's POV.
Dedication: To my mom, who passed away 2/12/01.
I'm sitting in my pitch-black office on Christmas Eve. It's not totally dark; streetlights are shining in, enough to illuminate the closed pocketknife I've been fiddling with. Toby's carolers are playing somewhere. I blink hard, then close my eyes and grip the armrest.
"Gun!" "Get down, get down!" Gunshots...a girl screaming...God, are the shots going to stop...why tonight, it was so good... Oh God, I've been shot...
I shake my head hard and take a few deep breaths. The screaming and sirens fade a bit. I just want it to stop... I look at the knife I'm holding. It wouldn't hurt much. Then I wouldn't have to live like this anymore. No one knows what's going on. Toby and Leo might. And Donna... she's one of the few reasons I'm not dead yet. The sirens burst into my thoughts.
Sirens... the President's limo screaming away..."Who's been hit?" somebody shouting, "Josh! We didn't know where the hell you..." Toby... he's scared... "I I need a doctor! Somebody help!"
Joanie loved Christmas. Donna and her are really alike that way. Joanie loved all the music, the lights, the family. That's about all they have in common. Donna's so outgoing and sharp- she's one of the few who can keep up banter with me. Joanie was quiet; probably from spending all that time in her room, listening to her music. I hope Donna'll be okay. 'She really thinks the world of you, Josh. You really underestimate her sometimes. She's the best friend you'll ever have.' CJ said that, after I gave Donna that lecture on her bad taste in men. CJ's right. I wonder who they'll get to replace me.
Medics running up the steps... "Gunshot wound, no exit... may have hit his heart... Let's go!" New Hampshire... need to tell Sam about the Governor... "You couldn't remember Gage Whitney?" "Josh, a bullet collapsed your lung..."
The door opens and the light from outside reflects off the window, allowing me to see Donna's reflection as she enters. I glance down to see my own, and notice I've been crying. "Josh...Josh, what's wrong?" She comes over and stands beside my chair. I can't look at her. She reaches over and takes the pocketknife out of my hands. I look over at her now. She flicks it open, then looks at me. I stand and hold out my hand, as if she'll give it back. Donna closes it and throws it across the room and into the hallway. "Josh... how long has this been going on?" she half-whispers. I don't say anything. Donna pulls me into an embrace, whispering, "I'm sorry," as she does. Something inside me snaps, and I start crying. Donna just lets me cry into her shoulder, being the support and friend she's always been. After about five minutes, I step back. Donna walks me over to the couch, where I immediately lay down. Donna spreads my coat over me and sits down on an open spot. She lightly rubs my arm, and I close my eyes. As I'm drifting of to sleep, I hear her get up. I open my eyes and look around. She reenters the office with her cell phone. Seeing my near-panicked expression, she half smiles and sits back down. "It's okay, Josh. I'm not going anywhere," she says softly. I close my eyes as she dials the phone. "Hi, Leo? It's Donna. Sorry to call this late. Listen, Josh really needs help. He needs to talk with someone..."