Category: Josh & Donna/General Rating: PG at best Summary: Josh's recovery from the shooting. Disclaimer: It Aaron's world. I'm hoping no one gets upset at my borrowing them for a moment. Note: I'm making some things different for the sake of being different so as not to canonize the usual fanfic explanations.
Happy Birthday Mr. Lyman, Part 1 By: Jenna
** Wednesday, August 23rd 2000 **
The old blue Mazda pulled up to the curb in front of the brownstone. Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn slid out of the back passenger door, opened the front passenger door and said, "Easy does it. Take my arm, buddy."
The man inside weakly grasped Sam's forearm and put his weight on it as he slowly slid out of the car and stood. He swayed slightly, and Sam wrapped his free arm around the invalid. "whoa, easy. I've got you. You okay, buddy? It's just a few steps."
"Thanks, Sam. I think I can manage," White House Deputy Chief of Staff and world-famous shooting victim, Joshua Lyman responded.
"You need me?" Donna Moss, asked from the driver's seat.
"We can manage, go ahead and park. We'll see you inside," Sam replied. He knew Josh wanted Donna to witness his struggle to mount the stairs almost as little as he'd wanted his mother to have to see his weakness. Being an invalid was difficult enough without facing their heart-broken expressions of pity. Mrs. Lyman had been strongly encouraged to absent herself from the apartment for a couple of hours while Josh got settled in.
"Come on, Josh. Lean on me," Sam said as Donna pulled away from the curb. He wrapped his right arm around Josh and offered his left forearm for Josh to grasp. They stopped on each step then carefully moved up one more. Finally they reached the doorway into the building. Fortunately Josh's apartment was on the first floor of the old renovated Georgetown brownstone. Sam pulled out his spare key and unlocked the door.
"Your mother has been getting the place ready for your return. The doctor said to remove any throw rugs or things you might trip over. Make sure there's sturdy furniture you can hang onto if you start to fall. That sort of thing. We can get a wheelchair if you need it..." Sam rattled on as he walked Josh to the sofa and eased him down.
"Sam, it's a two-bedroom apartment. I can't leave it for two months except to go to the doctor. I think I can manage to make the 20 feet from the bedroom to the bathroom or the kitchen without a wheelchair," Josh complained.
Sam would take that as a sign that his best friend was doing better except that he was out of breath from the complaint. Sam looked up at the door as Donna entered.
"That was quick," Sam said.
"I lucked out. You guys want something to drink?" Donna asked heading for the kitchen.
"Is there any beer left?" Sam asked.
"I'll take one too," Josh said.
"Nice try, but no alcohol for you, Joshua," Donna replied at the kitchen door.
"But...this is my apartment. It's my beer."
"Actually, we drank your beer ages ago. I bought more," Sam explained.
"You mean, while I was in the hospital, you've been coming over to my apartment and drinking my beer?" Josh whined.
"It was the party house. CJ, Toby, Leo and I all used to come over and 'get down'," Sam continued, obviously getting into his flight of fancy.
"'Get down?' Have you been watching 'Starsky and Hutch' reruns again?" Josh mocked.
"What can I say?" I love to party. I'm the party man."
"Yeah, right." Josh grumbled, in too much pain to continue joking with Sam just now.
"Josh," Donna reminded in her 'you're a moron' voice, "your mother's been here for over a month. We visit. Anyway, I have a tote-bag full of the finest medicines in the land and every one of them says 'no alcohol'. I'm gonna make a pot of tea. You want some?"
"Yeah, tea sounds good," Josh answered then closed his eyes and leaned back into the sofa.
Donna put on the kettle and returned with beers for herself and Sam. She glance at Josh noticing the strain around his closed eyes, then looked sadly at Sam. He tightened his lips and frowned back in unspoken concern for their friend.
"Josh," Donna quietly said. "Why don't you let Sam get you into bed while the kettle's boiling? I'll bring the tea in there,".
"You won't bring me coffee, but you'll bring me tea?" he asked, opening his eyes and smiling slightly.
"I'm funny that way."
"Come on, Josh. Let's get you in bed before your mother comes back and tries to take away my job," Sam said standing up and reaching over to help his friend get up.
"Yeah, 'cause depending on your help to get undressed and go to the bathroom is so much better asking for my mother's," Josh replied sarcastically.
"Good point. I guess I wouldn't want anyone's help either. But, unless you want your mother's, you'd better get moving."
Sam helped Josh undress down to his boxers and t-shirt and get into bed. Then he pulled up the TV-tray table that Mrs. Lyman had left in readiness next to the bed. "I'll just check on Donna now."
"Yeah," Josh replied as he leaned back into the pillows and closed his eyes.
"Hey," Sam said walking into the kitchen and seeing that Donna was putting the finishing touches on the tea tray.
"Good timing," she said, picking up the tray and carrying it to the bedroom with Sam trailing along behind.
"I found some cookies your mom must have baked this morning. At least they weren't here when I left last night."
"My favorites too," Josh said taking a cookie while Donna poured his tea.
"Sam, you want a cup?"
"Sure," he said guzzling the last of his beer. "What kind of cookies? Is that a special recipe from the old country?"
"Right. I forgot," Sam quipped. "It's your father who was Polish or something, right?"
"My father's family was Dutch," Josh explained patiently. "My father was born in Rotterdam but he really didn't talk about it much. He mentioned the bombing once and moving to Amsterdam after that. When he was teaching me to skate he told me about skating on the frozen canals as a boy."
"You ice skate? Sam asked incredulously.
"I'm from Connecticut." Josh replied in a tone that implied that learning to ice skate is a requisite for growing up in New England.
"Was your father in Birkenau too?" Donna asked gently, taking his tea cup to pour him some more.
"No. He was a kid, just 12, he wouldn't have sur--" Josh, took the tea cup back and took a long sip as he collected his thoughts. Usually he avoided this subject, but his own brush with death and the need for the support and comfort of his close friends made him feel like he owed them this knowledge of his family history. As his father and grandfather had been saved, these were the people who had --were-- saving him. "In July 1942, the first Dutch Jews arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau from Westerbork--that was the camp that they were funneled through. Ironically, it was set up as a refugee camp for German Jews and the Dutch government kept them there. The Nazis just expanded the place and called it a 'transit camp'. Over 100,000 Dutch Jews went through it to Auschwitz, Birkenau, Sobibor... My grandfather sold everything he owned before the Nazis came for the Jews left in the Amsterdam Ghettos. He used the money to get my dad out of the country, literally, in a fruit crate just days before... Sympathizers got my father to America -- to my Great Aunt Rachel, she was my grandfather's sister. She'd immigrated to America, in 1937 I think, and married my Uncle David. He was a lawyer in Boston. They raised my father after that. Got him into Harvard..." He took a deep breath and continued, "When the Red Army liberated Birkenau in January 1945... well... the Nazi's didn't leave much of anyone behind. Alive, that is. They took 58,000 prisoners, including my grandfather, with them. 20,000 died or were executed on the way to Germany. And they were killing 9,000 a day up until they destroyed the gas chambers as the Allies closed in. That was in November of 44. No one could believe my grandfather could've survived. He made his way back to Amsterdam somehow... He didn't want to be placed in a refugee camp... He didn't trust the Russians either. It took two years to locate him then get papers so he could come over.
"What about your grandmother?" Sam asked quietly.
"Your grandmother? Was she in deported to Birkenau too?" Sam asked.
"Um... no... She died in the firebombing of Rotterdam on May 14, 1940. Along with my father's younger brothers and sister. The Dutch surrendered the next day, after five days at war with Germany..."
"There really are some blessings. The Lyman's have a tragic family history, but it could be so much worse," a woman's voice softly spoke from the doorway.
"Mother. I didn't hear you come in."
"Leo once said he should put a bell on me," she said with a gentle laugh. "Your father thought that was an marvelous idea. I was forever sneaking up on them."
"He threatened to put one on CJ a while back too," Josh said. Did you go grocery shopping again?" he asked, while Donna poured a cup of tea and handed it to the older woman.
"No, I stopped in for mass at the Catholic Church around the corner. I hadn't been to mass in --it must be-- 30 years. There was something... peaceful... about it."
"You're not thinking about reverting are you, Mary?" Donna asked with a skeptical smile. She well knew Mrs. Lyman's opinions about her childhood Catholicism.
"No, indeed!" Mary Lyman laughed. Not that I ever totally converted. Noah and I were just never really religious. We wanted Josh to know both his heritages and to make his own choice."
"So, I don't believe in much of anything," Josh said stifling a yawn.
"And I'm finding I believe more and more," his mother replied with a smile at the miracle politely covering a yawn before her eyes.
"Let's let you get some sleep," Donna said collecting the tea cup from his hand and gathering up the tray as she stood.
"Yeah, get some sleep, buddy. I'll be by tomorrow morning," Sam said standing up to follow Donna out.
Mary Lyman moved to the bed and kissed Josh's forehead, adjusting his pillows as he slid down into the covers. "Call out if you need anything. I'll check back in before I go to bed." She kissed him again. "Good night," she said cutting out the light and went into the living room to find Sam preparing to leave.
"I need to head back to the office for a while," he told Donna.
"Sure you don't want to have dinner first? We bought a big lasagna," Donna said. "We were just going to heat it and some bread and make a salad..."
"Toby's expecting me back to work on the Labor Day address."
"You sure, dear? You have to eat anyway," Mrs. Lyman added.
"Thanks, anyway but I'll just pick up something on the way." I'd better go or Toby'll yell. I'll be by in the morning to help. Call me if you need me sooner," Sam said easing out the door.
"Bye, Sam. I'll see you tomorrow," Donna said closing the door behind him. She turned and smiled at Mrs. Lyman. "vegetables or lettuce?"
"I'll slice the vegetables. You did that last time."
"Deal," Donna replied, as the two women reached one of many agreements and headed to the kitchen to prepare dinner.
* * *
The man in the dark suit stepped off the train, took a deep breath and straightened his shoulders. He sat the suitcase down on the rail platform and ran his hand through his unruly chestnut brown hair. His gentle brown eyes watched as the other passengers poured from the train and lined up, also waiting to hear about their new homes in the Polish countryside. The Germans said that it was too dangerous for them to stay in the Holland. It was too near the front lines. Tempers were too high. There was too much anger against the Jews. It would be safer in the Polish countryside. Just until things settled down, then they would be returned to the city and their lives could return to normal. Like it was before the war.
He was glad he'd gotten his son away from this. He didn't completely trust the Germans promises to feed and house them properly. A young boy shouldn't have to see the face of war. Young Noah had already seen too much at Rotterdam. Seen the house destroyed and his mother's arm sticking out of the rubble... He'd gotten word that his sister and the American lawyer she'd married had taken the boy in and that he was learning English already. That he would start to school in the fall. The German officers started giving instructions to the passengers and the man listened. It was fortunate that he spoke German, French, and a bit of Russian as well as his native Dutch. They were asking people to identify themselves based on their skills. The man was a teacher, but his father had been a watchmaker, and he had learned the delicate craft at his father's knee. They called for craftsmen skilled at repairing instruments and he stepped forward. The majority of the passengers were to be checked by the doctors, get cleaned up after the long, over-crowded train ride, then they'd go to their new homes. The men and women who'd been separated out were to go to the barracks at their new relocation camp. The man smiled as he entered the gates of Birkenau. It was his 40th birthday and he was starting a new life.
* * *
Josh woke and sat up, crying out from the fiery pain that ripped across his chest.
Mary Lyman and Donna Moss clearing the dinner dishes were alarmed to hear the cry from the bedroom. They set the dishes down and rushed to the bedroom. Josh was hunched over in pain and had broken out in a cold sweat.
His mother saw tears in his eyes as she grabbed hold of him and eased him around. "Josh? What is it?"
At his obvious reluctance to talk, Donna said, "I'll just..." and motioning to the doorway left Mrs. Lyman alone with her son.
"It's nothing. Just a nightmare from talking about Grandpa Lyman. I dreamed I was him, but it was like a bad mix of his stories and 'Schindler's List' or something. I just sat up too fast and it pulled. I'm fine now."
"I brought you some water," Donna said coming back into the room. "And your own pharmaceutical cornucopia," holding out a fluorescent orange Clinique tote-bag full of pill bottles.
"Oh joy," Josh replied sarcastically.
"Shut up and take these," Donna succinctly replied pouring a couple of capsules from the container into her hand.
He glowered but took the pills and water glass as ordered.
Turning to his mother and Donna said, "I've made a list of everything he's to take and color coded them as to whether they're once a day --blue-- or every six hours --red-- or whatever. Here's the list and color code key. Also, printouts of all the possible side effects and interactions. Make sure he eats something before he takes any that I have the little fork-and-spoon icon by. I'm keeping a complete list of everything, so if you have any questions, call me."
"Thank you, dear," she said gently smiling at the gruffness the young woman was using to hide her deep concern behind. "You've been a god-send. I hope Josh appreciates how much you've done for him."
Josh and Donna looked awkward and embarrassed, not wanting to wade into their personal feelings. Those waters were too deep and dangerous.
"I'll finish the dishes if you want to help Josh... you know..." Donna said as she hurriedly departed the bedroom.
Mrs. Lyman smiled as Josh whined, "Really Mom, I can go to the bathroom by myself."
"I know dear, but I don't want to clean up the mess if you can't, so I'll just make sure you don't fall down." She said patting his arm and throwing back the covers to help him out of bed. "Just until you're a little more steady on your feet."
* * *
Mrs. Lyman let Sam Seaborn into the apartment the next morning. "Hi, Sam, he's still asleep. Go on and wake him up while I get you boys some coffee."
"Thank you, Mary."
Sam entered Josh's bedroom to find Josh asleep with his hand resting on a very large ball of long grey fur.
"Hey, Josh time to get up, buddy. Rise and shine." Josh didn't stir, but a very large triangular face with golden eyes emerged from the ball of fur and yawned. The cat got up, leisurely stretched, then jumped off the bed to go in search of breakfast. Sam nudged Josh's shoulder, "Josh."
"Hmmmm.... I'm awake, I'm awake," he muttered.
"Come on, Josh, I have to go to work. You want a shower or not?"
"Sam, I forgot you were coming over. Really, I can manage," Josh said.
"No, you really can't. I'm just going to make sure you get in and out okay. I'm not going to scrub your back or anything." Josh glowered in response.
"Here you go, dears. I know Josh is grumpy without his morning coffee," Mrs. Lyman said handing them each a mug of steaming coffee. "I'll just get breakfast started. Will you stay Sam?"
"For a real breakfast? Absolutely."
As she departed Josh took a sip of the coffee and made a face, "Decaf."
"Really," Sam took a sip. "Mine tastes fine."
"Want to swap?"
"Not a chance. Donna, your mother, and probably CJ would skin me alive."
"Yeah, they probably would." Josh sighed.
Sam sat the mug down and helped Josh get out of the bed. "Did you know that Oscar was sleeping with you?"
"Yeah, sure. He always sleeps with me when he's here or I'm home," Josh replied as they made their way towards the bathroom.
"I thought you hated cats."
"Donna's been maligning me again, I take it?" Josh said with an exasperated sigh. "I love cats. I even like her roommates cats. I just yelled at the kitten that time."
"Why did you yell at the kitten? What kitten?"
It was after we lost the vote on 486. I got really drunk --I think someone slipped me a mickey, I only had two or three... or... maybe... four... beers... and I couldn't remember where I lived, so I went to Donna's. She let me sleep on the couch, but it was really hot that night and I'd taken my pants off. So there I was in my boxers stretched out on the sofa, and I started having this really, really good dream about-- well, never mind that part. Anyway, Donna's roommate had a kitten --more like a half-grown cat-- and when the cloth started to move," he motioned with his hand.
"It pounced," Sam finished.
"Yeah. Anyway... I yelled. And, obviously, I couldn't tell Donna why."
"I had to, you know...
"Take it like a man."
"Well, okay..." he cleared his throat and changed the subject, "Let me help you get that t-shirt off."
"You know, lifting my arms didn't hurt nearly as much when I was in the hospital."
"That's 'cause you were flying high on some heavy-duty drugs then, my friend."
* * * TBC
Note: Reference, Auschwitz Timeline. (Birkenau is also know as Auschwitz II) http://members.fortunecity.com/luke1000/auschwitz/timeline.htm Dutch Jews in World War II information: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/7071/whyandhow.html
Recommended viewing: 'Soldier of Orange' and 'Escape from Sobibor' (which is the scene that Josh is dreaming about, but I decided he forgot because it's more obscure than Schindler's List.)