Someone to Watch Over Me
by Grasshopper Girl
Spoilers: The Portland Trip, Noel rumors spoilers and speculation.
Yes, I'm writing a Noel fic a week before it airs. I can't help it. I was going to set this story somewhere inbetween the scenes in The Midterms but knowing what I know about Noel, I thought it would be more timely if I set it then. This one is Donna POV too... something altogether new for me. I hope it doesn't, you know... like... suck. And by the way, don't let the title fool you, this isn't a song fic. For once.
This is, as always, for Cat, she of the long, late night, demented discussions. And for the author of 'Alone Again, Naturally', whose story sparked one of said long, late night, demented discussions.
He's finally asleep.
Never at any point during this entire year did I imagine that I would spend my Christmas sitting on Josh's bed, making sure he's asleep. I always assumed I would spend at least part of Christmas with Josh, but at one point during the year I thought the evening would be spent in the cemetery, rather than in his warm, cozy Georgetown apartment, so I'm not complaining. Not at all. No way will I ever complain again about any time I might be required to spend with him.
Not that I don't want to be here. I'd rather be here than anywhere else. At least here, I know he's alive and well.
He scared me so badly this week. I was so afraid he was going to... to... to do something really bad. I don't even want to think about what might have happened. He's okay now, I think, but I have to be patient with him. I have to help him as much as I can, because it's going to be hard for a while.
When Josh got out of the hospital, I took care of him. I mean, I was like a live-in nurse. I spent most nights here, and most days running back and forth carrying papers and things he needed, when I let him actually do work instead of resting like he was supposed to. We were practically inseparable that whole time... I would stay up late with him when he couldn't sleep, talking to him and listening to whatever was on his mind. We would snuggle together on the couch and watch TV. One night there was an old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie on and he insisted on getting up and dancing with me until I told him he was going to hurt himself and made him sit down. He was doing much better by then, and we could probably have danced the night away if we wanted to, but I was afraid of what might happen if we did. So many nights I came so close to telling him I love him, that when he was finally able to return to work, I quit spending time with him outside the office. I thought it would be best if we returned to our professional relationship -- if you can really call it that -- as soon as possible before I made a big mistake.
Now it looks like my big mistake was abandoning him like that. I should have visited him on weekends, made sure he was okay, sat down and talked to him. Of course, Josh being Josh, now that he was back at work, he would have insisted he was perfectly normal again, but I think I could have gotten through to him. Instead, I'm sitting here on Christmas night looking at his bandaged hand and worrying about whether he's going to be okay.
I kick my shoes off and make myself more comfortable. I guess I'm spending the night here... I didn't think about that when I told Josh I would drive him home. It's not like I haven't already spent the night here dozens of times, I know where the extra pillows and blankets are and the couch is very comfortable. But somehow I can't bring myself to leave his side. Will Josh ever really recover from this? After all the trauma he's suffered in his life, with his sister dying and his father and everything else... I just wish Josh could be really happy. That's all I want in my life, to make Josh happy. I don't know when I started caring more about his well being than my own, but I did and I do. What I can't believe is that I didn't see this coming. Even that ugly remark he made about my taste in men a few weeks ago was uncharacteristically cruel. I should have known something was wrong with him. I should have seen it and helped him somehow. I should have been there for him. I should have been a better friend than I was. Hell, if I do love him as much as I tell myself I do, I should have kept coming to see him no matter what the consequences at work. Donnatella Moss, you are a blithering coward sometimes.
He really is sweet, when he's asleep and not arguing with Congressmen or bellowing my name throughout the West Wing. So calm and relaxed now... a good night's sleep will be just the thing for him.
Oh, hell. He's having a nightmare now. He's talking in his sleep. I can't quite make out what he's saying, but he's tossing and turning. I didn't have to deal with this much during his recovery, the medication he was on kept him sleeping peacefully enough. I reach out and stroke his hair, very softly... I don't want to wake him up, just calm him down. Shhh, Josh, it's okay. You're okay.
There. Better. At least he's stopped thrashing around. His face is still tense, though. What am I going to do? He's not accustomed to me being here anymore... a few months ago all I would have had to do was hold his hand for a few minutes and he would be just fine.
I get a sudden urge to do something, and I'm not sure whether it's more for Josh's benefit or for mine. I stretch out beside him and put my arms around him, settling his head on my shoulder. He instinctively snuggles closer and wraps his arms around my waist, sighing a little. That's better. It feels so good to have his arms around me I almost forget about his injured hand, and as I shift my weight to get comfortable, I accidentally... well... squish it.
Suddenly, Josh is awake, looking up at me with startled brown eyes.
Josh wakes up and finds me lying in his arms, in his bed... what the hell am I supposed to say now?
"I'm sorry... go back to sleep." I hug him closer and would close my eyes to avoid further conversation, but the haunted look in his eyes just won't go away. "What is it, Josh?"
"I... um... nothing."
"No, tell me."
"I... thank you, Donna." He smiles a little. "Thank you for... everything you've done for me."
Oh, Josh. If you only knew. I just smile and kiss his forehead. "All in a day's work as the Deputy Deputy Chief of Staff."
We lie there in silence for a moment. I close my eyes, thinking he's going to go to sleep now.
"Hmm?" I don't even open my eyes.
All right, I'm wide awake now.
"For... scaring you, like I did. And for being so mean to you these past few weeks. You didn't deserve any of the yelling or the smart remarks. You've done more for me than I can begin to tell you. I... probably wouldn't have kept it together as long as I did without you."
"Oh, JOSH." I'm starting to cry. "I'm the one who's sorry... I took care of you for three months and I abandoned you as soon as you were well enough to go back to work. Maybe if I'd actually talked to you more often..."
"No, Donna, don't." He takes my hand in his and kisses it. I'm so distressed by this conversation that it barely even registers. "I would have just pushed you away. Like I always do when I need help. But not anymore."
What's this? Joshua Lyman admitting he needs help? Alert the media.
"I've only just begun to realize that if I'm going to get through this I can't do it alone. Part of what made me realize that was remembering how much you did for me while I was recovering. You gave up three months of your life to take care of me. I can't even begin to express how..."
"You don't have to."
"I do, Donna. What I wrote in that book I gave you last Christmas was true. You have been the glue that's kept me together these past few years... but especially the past six months. I can't even imagine what my life would be like without you... or if I'd even be here."
"Josh, please don't say that." I'm definitely crying now. I can't help it. Just the idea of not having him in my life is unthinkable.
Then he does something I'll never forget.
He reaches up and wipes away the tears, and kisses me softly on the lips. Before I can speak, he places a fingertip over my lips to silence me. "Promise me something, Donna."
I nod, barely capable of rational thought.
"I've never wanted to be taken care of, even when I was little. I've never wanted to rely on anyone for anything. I thought it made me weak. Until you made me realize that if anything, I'm stronger for having you in my life to help keep my act together. Don't ever leave me, Donnatella Moss. And don't ever forget how important you are to me."
"I won't." You can bet I won't. I'd go to the ends of the earth for this wonderful, brilliant, maddening man. And you know something else? I'm stronger for having him in my life too. We really are good for each other. True complements... soul mates, even.
He settles into my arms again and we drift off to sleep, lulled by the sound of each other's heartbeats. Our relationship will never be the same after tonight, but I'm not worried. Whether as friends or as lovers, Josh and I will stay together and watch over each other as long as we live.