He turned around at the sound of someone saying his name. Edith was still
vigorously debating some point with Sam and Toby. Well, more with Toby, since
Sam seemed engrossed in a debate of his own with Ainsley Hayes, who – Josh had
to admit – despite her being a Republican, looked stunning in her dark green
silk dress.
He found CJ standing before him. "It seems to be going extraordinarily well,
don't you think?" she said, moving to stand beside him as they scanned the crowd
now mingling for the post-dinner socializing and dancing.
Josh smiled. "If that's a polite way of asking me to put down my champagne
glass you can forget it."
"Just be careful, please. The press has already gotten a whiff of this whole
Kramer business, and they're out for blood. A drunk Deputy Chief of Staff at a
State Dinner is not what I need to deal with right now."
"Understood, sir," Josh intoned in mock formality. He laughed. "Relax, CJ."
"Don't think I don't know that they're driving you up the wall."
"Who? What?"
"Oh, come on. Lord John Marbury, and his nephew? The nephew who seems quite
taken with Donna?"
"They're not bothering me. And he's not taken with her."
She studied his face for an uncomfortable few minutes. "Right."
"Can we, y'know, not talk about this?"
"Yeah. Aren't you going to ask me to dance?"
"Why would I ask you to dance?"
"Because I look stunning."
He smiled at her. "Would it help to say that you always do?"
She laughed. "Sure, and it would also help if you weren't slightly drunk."
"I am not slightly drunk."
"You have a delicate system."
"Remind me to fire Donna first thing tomorrow."
She snorted. "Right. But you should ask me to dance."
"Didn't I just say that I look stunning?'
"Um, yeah." He took another liberal sip of champagne.
"I won't always look stunning."
"Is this some sort of early mid-life crisis?"
CJ shrugged. "It's like that poem says, 'gather ye rosebuds while ye may'."
Josh blinked at her. "What did you just say?"
"I said –"
"I know what you said."
"Then why did you just ask me?"
A slow smile spread on his face. "No reason. Claudia Jean, would you like to
She seemed a little mystified, but she smiled back. He had to admit that she
did look stunning. Sky blue and sleeveless, the gown made CJ look radiant. "Most
certainly, Joshua Solomon."
He felt too good to grimace. "I suppose Edith Hepzebah told you."
"Hepzebah?" She echoed as she took his arm.
"Now don't you just feel ordinary?"
CJ tossed a glance over to where Edith and Toby had now progressed to the
argument level of the debate. "I like her," CJ said, "She's a very strong
person. Not everyone would want to throw in their lot with Toby."
"Yeah, not unless they were suicidal or just stupid."
"Or Sam."
"Or any of the rest of the senior staff."
"True," she conceded. "But that's 'cause we all know him for the sweet lovable
man he really is."
He looked at her for a few moments, and then they both dissolved into laughter.
"Call Toby lovable again, CJ, and I think you may want to lock your office door
for, oh, the next six or seven months."
"Eight," she said looking back over at them again. Toby had that
look. And Edith...Edith had a look that Josh knew without even looking in a
mirror that he used. It was the traditional
I'm-a-Lyman-so-you-can-just-kiss-my-ass-because-you-know-that-I'm-right look.
"You should talk to Leo about getting her hired to the White House Counsel. We
could use a lawyer that has enough guts to look Toby square in the face and tell
him he's wrong."
"She's not a lawyer," Josh responded.
"I thought you said she was a lawyer." CJ's gaze returned to Josh.
"That's because I thought she was."
"Want to explain that one?"
"Edith's actually a psychologist. My mother had told me on the phone that she
was making a trip to DC to work with the DA's office here. I guess she didn't
want to tell me because she thought I would freak out or shut Edith out because
she was a shrink."
"I thought you said she went to law school."
"She did. For about a year. She didn't tell me she dropped out and went into
psychology instead because she assumed I already knew."
"But you didn't."
Josh sighed. "Long story, and I don't really feel like delving into family
history right now."
"Fine, but why is she working with the DA's office if she's not a lawyer?"
"'Cause her specialty is violent and criminal behavior and she's a Special
Agent with the FBI. She won't tell me exactly what's up, but it has something
to do with some kind of murder case she's working on."
"Oh." CJ shrugged. "Well, in that case, don't talk to Leo about getting her
hired to the White House Counsel."
"Ya think?"
The steps of the waltz brought them a little to close to Dr. Marbury and Donna
than Josh would've really cared for. He didn't really want to see Donna smile
at someone else right now, and he certainly didn't want to hear her laugh. And
he certainly didn't give a damn that it was childish and selfish of him to feel
that way.
"Yeah," CJ said, not really paying attention as she studied something over his
shoulder. "So we have a professional on our side, now, which is good. We can
back up our stance without looking like we're just trying to do the good liberal
Democrat thing."
"Boy, you really are stupid, aren't you? Please remove your head from your ass
for a few minutes."
CJ rolled her eyes. "Okay, quite staring at Donna and listen."
"What makes you think I was staring at Donna?"
"Because you were."
"Can we not talk about this?"
"Of course. Because we weren't talking about it in the first place."
"What were we talking about?"
This time he definitely grimaced. "Yeah. We do have Dr. Marbury on our side,
which is good, and Donna says he's willing to back us up if we need him."
"We need him."
"Listen, CJ, Kramer's not the big problem."
"Yeah, yeah. I know, but-"
"The Senate Majority leader is expecting us to rip Kramer to shreds."
She stared at him. "So we're not going to?"
"Try to keep your voice down. We're in the middle of a State Dinner, remember?
Do you really want Nelson Mandela to see you pitch a fit?"
"Josh." That was a tone of voice he definitely never wanted to hear CJ direct
at him again.
"There's a senior staff Monday morning, and Leo and I will give the details
"Give me the brief overview. I don't like surprises."
He sighed. "Did I mention yet that you look stunning?"
"Brief overview, Josh."
"We're going to take him out the quiet way."
"What exactly is the quiet way?"
"I'll tell you about it tomorrow."
"Josh," she said, exasperated.
"It's technically detail, CJ."
She stared at him. "Sometimes I really hate you."
"I know." He smiled. "But you look stunning."

"Okay, where's the beer?"
Josh laughed and tossed his tuxedo jacket on the living room chair while he
tugged at his bow tie. Edith was collapsed on the couch, badly wrinkling the
dark blue gown she wore. "I think there's some Rolling Rock left in the
fridge." He tossed the bow tie on top of the jacket and rolled up the sleeves
of his shirt.
"Good. Grab me one."
"I'm sorry, did I miss the part where I suddenly became your servant."
"Go get me a goddamn beer before I beat the living shit out of you."
"And take the cap off for me, too!" she called as he disappeared into the
Edith debated whether or not to move, then decided against it. "So was I
charming, or what?" she called again.
"As charming as possible," Josh said as he reappeared with two bottles in his
hands. He handed one to her. "You looked great tonight, Edith. You reminded
me of that picture of Grandma when she was young."
"The one that hung in their dinning room?"
Edith smiled. "Thank you, Josh. I think that is quite possibly the most
wonderful compliment I've ever received."
"Just drink your beer," he said with a smirk.
"I will." And with that she took a long swig that Josh felt must've been at
least half the bottle.
He stared at the bottle in his own hands, took a swig, and then continued to
study it. "So," he ventured, "your gun's in the small brown suitcase, right?"
She blinked. "What?"
"I said-"
"I know what you said."
"Then why did you ask me?"
Edith leaned forward with a frown. "What makes you think I have my gun with
me, and that I keep it in my small brown suitcase?"
"You're an FBI agent, Edith. You're a psychologist who specializes in violent
criminal behavior and investigates cases in a manner that leads me to believe
you are or once was a field agent, and you expect me to believe that you don't
have a gun?"
"And you just guessed about the small brown suitcase? Or was that another piece
of brilliant Joshua Lyman deducting?"
"I noticed that you studiously avoided looking at that case whenever I'm in the
same room, and I noticed that you move it with particular care."
"What makes you so sure that I'm not currently diagnosing you in my head as a
paranoia freak?"
"Because you wouldn't use those terms, you know I'm right, and you wouldn't lie
to me."
Edith sighed. "Yeah, my gun's in the small brown suitcase."
"Yeah." He sat down on the couch beside her.
She placed a hand on his shoulder, but didn't say anything. They sat in
silence for what seemed like a long time. It wasn't that it was uncomfortable,
it was just that there was nothing to be said. Edith had a gun, the gun was in
the suitcase, and the suitcase was in the corner of Josh's living room in Josh's
Finally Edith sat forward. "I know it sounds corny as hell, but you're a
Lyman, Josh, and don't ever forget that."
He rubbed his temples. "What exactly does that mean?"
"Jacob Mendel Lyman was starved, tortured, degraded, beaten, and even shot by
the Nazis in Birkenau. Do you ever remember one day – one day, Josh – when he
didn't laugh?"
Josh was silent.
"Do you ever remember our grandfather as a beaten man?"
He was still silent.
"You don't think the Holocaust was enough to give a person Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder?"
This time he blinked and turned his head to look at her. "How'd you know I
have PTSD? I sure as hell didn't tell Mom."
"Psychologist, remember? Before I specialized, I had the basics training. No
one had to tell me, Josh. You can hide it from some people, but not from me, and
certainly not from anyone else who really knows you."
"And you think Granddad suffered from it was well?"
"I don't think there's any way to ever forget something like that once it
happens, Josh."
He rearranged his position on the couch so he was completely facing her as
something hit him. "Granddad was shot?"
"Did he tell you that? I mean, 'cause he never told me. I don't think Dad
knew, either."
"I read his FBI file."
"Our grandfather has an FBI file?"
"Josh, just about everyone has an FBI file."
"Oh. But-"
Edith held up a hand, and tried to fight a smile. The energy had seemed to
return to Josh full force along with his curiosity. "In a minute, okay?"
She laughed at him. "Josh, we're both still in our getup from the Dinner. I
want to change into my pajamas, and you ought to get into something more
comfortable, too. I can already tell this'll be a long night."
"Is a long night bad?"
She laughed again. "No, a long night is good, but I'm not going to sit around
and discuss family history while in the only really good dress I own, okay?"
"Okay." A thought struck her then. "I'm going to grab a quick shower, too."
"Yeah, you do reek."
"That's the cousin I know and love."

Around fifteen minutes later, Edith emerged from the bathroom clad in her
pajamas to find a tent pitched in the middle of Josh's living room. Not a real
tent, but one constructed of chairs, tables, blankets, sheets, pillows, and – in
a few creative junctions – duct tape. Edith just stared. It was exactly what
they used to do in the middle of Josh's old room in the Hartford house.
Edith carefully lifted the edge of the makeshift doorway and peered inside. In
the middle of his creation, clad in a Harvard t-shirt and sweat pants,
surrounded more pillows and blankets with a flashlight in his hands, was Josh.
"Oh. My. God."
"I figured if we were going to do the whole family thing, we needed to do it
right." He grinned and gestured with the flashlight to the contraption around
him. "Remember when me, you, and Joanie used to do this? When you came to stay
with us during July every summer? I don't think we took it down for the entire
Edith, who at that point was still staring, dissolved into absolute gut-busting
"You're mocking me."
Edith gasped for breath. "No...no...I think...it's a...great...idea." More laughter.
"You're still mocking me."
Finally the laughter subsided, and Edith wiped a tear from her eyes. "No,
honestly, this is wonderful, Josh. You just took me by complete and utter
surprise, that's all." She studied the tent for a moment then shared his
earlier grin. "This kicks ass, Josh."
"I always kick ass."
"Where'd you get all the blankets? Because you can't expect me to believe that
you actually have enough common sense to buy blankets for yourself."
"Mom has this really weird paranoid fear that I'm going to freeze to death in
my own apartment because I'll forget to turn the heat on."
Edith shrugged. "She knows you."
Josh was about to say something when there was a knock on the door. "Who the
hell is that?"
Edith stood and smiled. "It's a surprise. But we need a third flashlight."
"What are you talking about?"
She let the sheet door drop as she stood to answer the door. "Be right back."
Josh sat still for a few moments, not exactly knowing what to think. Who the
hell had Edith invited over?


Shelter From the Storm - 5



~~ I realize that this story started out as a normal TWW thing, and evolved into
a more personal story. I'm just crazy like that. please send any feedback to
queelock@hotmail.com Be gentle. Please. And thanks for reading ~~



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