Committed, Part I - by Christine
Spoilers: The Midterms, general S3
Disclaimers: None of the characters belong to me. They all belong to AS and Co.
Josh finished putting the extra beer away in the refrigerator, grabbed a chilled Killian's for himself and headed outside to the front stoop. The others were already there, assembling themselves in their usual spots. Josh sat on the uppermost step and Amy moved to take a seat on the step directly below him.
"Don't sit there."
"What?" She was sure that she had heard him incorrectly.
"Don't sit there," Josh repeated.
"Just don't. Please?" Amy, surprised at the vehemence in his voice, complied.
"Ok." She took a seat a little further down.
"That's Donna's spot," CJ informed her.
"Yes, whenever we escaped from the rules and came out here on the stoop, Donna would sit there next to Josh."
"The rules? When was this?"
"A couple of summers ago," Sam explained from his perch below her. "Whenever Donna relaxed the rules enough to allow Josh outside, we would come out here."
"Donna made the rules?" Amy asked in puzzlement.
"During my recovery, when she was helping me out at home," Josh answered quietly, as he peeled the label from his beer bottle.
"J? Why was your secretary making house rules for you?"
Her question made him raise his head and focus on her. He blew out a breath in frustration. "First, she's not my secretary, she's my assistant. Second, she's also my friend."
"And the rules?"
"It was just a thing we had. She was worried about me overdoing stuff. So she made up these rules that said when I could work." He glanced at Toby and smiled briefly. "She even restricted who could visit."
"But, J "
"Amy, can we drop it for tonight? Please? It's been a long week, and I just want to sit here and relax with my friends."
The group sat quietly for while, soaking in the sounds of the summer night and looking at the stars. Sam was the first to speak.
"I miss Donna."
"It's only for the month," CJ reminded him. "She'll be back at the end of August."
"I know, but it seems so long since we've done this, and now that we are, she's not here. It just doesn't seem right."
"Sam, her father had a major stroke, and her mother's going crazy with worry. She's their only child. It's natural that they would need her at home. She's lucky Leo gave her as much time as he did."
"You're right. How did she manage to get so much time off?" Sam asked Josh.
"I don't know," he admitted with a sad smile. "She talked to Leo on her own. Didn't even tell me until the arrangements were made."
"Yeah. Listen, I'm going in to get some more beer. Anyone else need something?"
Toby stood up. "I'll join you."
When the two men had disappeared inside, Amy turned to CJ and Sam. "What's the deal with Josh and Donna?" she asked them.
Sam looked at her in surprise. "What do you mean?"
"Josh. Donna. She's been gone for a week, but from the way he's acting, you would think it's been longer. He acts as if she'll never come back. She's just his assistant, for goodness sake!"
"Amy," CJ began gently, "Josh and Donna have a complex relationship. I'm not sure even I could explain it, and I make my living explaining things." She paused for a moment and chose her words carefully. "They're very close. Things have been crazy first with Rosslyn, then with the President's disclosure about the MS. They've been through a lot together in the past two years."
"So have you, and I didn't see him like this when you took your leave of absence in May."
CJ flinched at the reminder of the night in NY when Simon had died. She had been unable to focus at work and had taken two weeks to get herself together again. When she spoke again, her voice was hushed, sad. "He was very supportive then. He called me everyday and visited all the time. He was a rock."
"But he was still Josh he still smiled, still laughed. Now all he does is mope around and talk about Donna," Amy elaborated.
"This thing with Donna is different. It's about more than just supporting one another. They work like a complex machine. And when one isn't here, the cogs don't work right. They don't mesh."
"They're each other's halves," Sam reflected. He realized what he had said and quickly tried to back-pedal. "Professionally. I meant that they complete each other professionally."
Amy shook her head at him. "No, you didn't. And that's the problem."
"Amy, we could be wrong," CJ told her in attempt to end the conversation.
"You're not. I accused him of being hit and run. I was wrong. He's the most committed man I've met. It's just not to me." She stood up from her spot on the stoop. "When he comes back out, can you tell him that I had to go? And that I'll see him around sometime?"
"I''ll tell him you had to leave. As for the other, you'll have to tell him yourself," CJ replied.
She was halfway down the block when Josh and Toby emerged from the building.
"Where's Amy going?" Josh asked.
"Home. She had an early meeting tomorrow," Sam improvised.
"Oh." Josh resumed his seat toward the top of the stoop. "So what do you think the weather in Wisconsin is like right now?"
"Hot," answered Sam.
"Humid," Toby replied.
"Sticky," came CJ's answer.
"Air conditioning is a must," Sam commented.
"What makes it air conditioning, anyhow? Shouldn't it be called air cooling? What's actually getting conditioned?" CJ asked, perplexed.
"It's the process," Sam started to explain when he was cut off by a snort from Josh.
"You're such a geek, Sam"
"Hey! I happen to know a lot about mechanical things," he protested. "That doesn't make me a geek."
"No, you are not a geek," Toby agreed. "But you are incorrect about the air conditioning."
CJ chuckled. "What our friend Tobus here is trying to say is that you don't actually know a lot about mechanical things."
"I do!" Sam insisted. "I read a lot."
"That only makes you well-read."
The conversation flowed on and was occasionally punctuated by laughter. They stayed out well into the night, four friends, discussing life.