Title: Truth or Dare
Author: Kristen
Note: This isn't going where you think...
~*~

Josh woke up in a cold sweat.

'I don't know how much longer I can take this.'

Throwing off the blanket that was covering him and rubbing his eyes
awake, Josh went off in search of someone to talk to.

Finding Leo in the library, he sat down in the chair across from him.

"Hey, Josh," Leo replied without looking up.

"How do you do that?"

He shrugged, "I'm old. I've picked up a few things along the way."
Taking off his glasses and making eye contact with Josh, Leo continued.
"So, how long has it been since you had a decent night's sleep?"

"A decent night? Since the night before you drug me to Nashua."

"How long has it been since you slept at all?"

"A few days." Now it was Josh's turn to shrug. "No big deal, really."

"You having nightmares?"

"Ok, now you're freaking me out."

Leo chuckled, "Your father got them all the time during the war."

"Really? Huh, I never knew."

"Yeah, they were really bad, too. I knew that we were in physical hell,
but whatever was going on in his dreams was worse."

Josh paused, "Um, Leo. Was it really as bad –"

"Worse. Everything you've heard and worse. That's one of the reasons
I'm doing what I do. So that it doesn't happen again. So that you and
Sam and Charlie don't have to go fight a war that made no sense."

"Thanks."

"It's the truth," he replaced his glasses and continued to read the
memos before him until he paused once again.

"Hey, Josh, what are they about?"

"The nightmares? Everything. All the shit in my life reliving itself
over and over. Joanie, Dad, Mandy, Roslyn, all the shit."

"Whatever happened with you and Mandy?"

Josh shook his head, "I woke up one morning and I couldn't remember why
I loved her. I knew it was time to get out."

"Good move."

"It's the truth."

The two men smiled over a newfound inside joke.

"How much do you remember Joanie."

Josh shrugged, "I was real young when she died. I remember that she
loved music and peanut butter. She was allergic to tomatoes, so we were
never allowed to have pizza. She had really bad asthma and she hated
sports."

"Do you remember why?"

"I just always thought she hated them."

Leo fiddled with his pencil, "She was born without a section of her
heart. She wasn't allowed to play them. She didn't die from the fire,
Josh, she died running to get out."

Josh stared at him.

"I can't believe no one ever told you." Leo was shocked.

"No, I've always thought that –"

"That it was your fault? Nope, it was her heart's."

"Wow." Josh sat back and closed his eyes, as if to absorb this new
revelation.

"She wasn't perfect, Josh."

"No, I guess that she wasn't."

"She was gifted and a true musical prodigy. But she was also a Mozart.
Full of sass. Your mom used to want to ship her off places, because she
couldn't take the attitude anymore. But, oh, how you worshipped each
other," Leo smiled at the memory.

"I miss her," Josh said quietly.

"Yeah. Me too," Leo whispered.

The two men sat in silence for a minute, each absorbed in his own
thoughts.

"What do you want to do after this, Josh?"

"I haven't really thought about it. We've got a few more years here,
right?" Josh smiled at his mentor.

"Yeah, we've got a few," Leo agreed, "But, after that. Chief of Staff?"

"I'm not sure I could ever love that as much as I love working with you
and Bartlet."

"Even for Hoynes?"

"I don't think he'd have me back."

"You could run against him."

Josh's eyes almost fell out of his head at that point.

"What?"

Leo went back to his paper work, "Just a thought."

"You think I could?"

Leo met his eyes, "Sure, why not? You have the passion, the skills, the
know- how, the experience, to a certain extent anyway. You'd just have
to work on your people skills."

Josh laughed, "I'd need a wife, too."

Leo raised an eyebrow, "You want one?"

"Yeah."

"They're great, but you got to be careful with them."

"Yeah," Josh paused. "Hey, Leo?"

"Yeah?"

"Why didn't you run?"

Leo shook his head, "Wouldn't have gotten elected."

"Sierra-Tucson?"

"Yeah."

"That sucks. So you trained Bartlet?"

"He had it in him, he just needed help."

"You trained Bartlet?" Josh repeated.

Leo chuckled, "Yeah."

"Would you train me?"

"You want it?"

"More than you know," Josh whispered.

"Then you're one step ahead of Jed," Leo remarked.

Josh laughed. "We've never had a Jewish president."

Leo shrugged.

Josh continued, "You think that I could do it?"

"Why do you think you can't? Don't shame your father, Josh. He told
everyone that his son was going to lead the world some day. Why not?"

"I need a wife," Josh repeated.

"Don't need one, want one." Leo advised.

"So what should we do now?"

"We get Bartlet re-elected."

"Even if he says no?"

"He'll say yes. He has to. Because I refuse to go back to the better of
'who cares.'" Leo reasoned.

"Yeah," Josh agreed.

"And because you're not ready yet," Leo smiled.

"Oh. Hey Leo, truth or dare."

"Were you people playing that down there?"

"Yeah. Truth or dare?"

"Truth," Leo sighed.

"If Noah Lyman was alive today, would he have voted for Jed Bartlet?"

"Yeah, but he would have fought for Josh Lyman."

Josh smiled, "I'm going to bed."

"Good boy, see you in a few hours." Leo looked around the empty room
and muttered to himself, "President Joshua Lyman. Wow."

"Did I just hear what I think I heard?"

Leo smiled at the familiar voice, "You're not off the hook, old
friend."

Jed Bartlet took the seat across from Leo that Josh had just vacated.
"I don't know if I can do it again, Leo."

"No, you probably can't. But Josh, CJ, Toby, Sam, me, Abbey and you
can."

Jed sighed. "He'll be good.

"Yeah."

"Go to bed, Leo."

"I'll go soon."

"President Leo McGarry would be good, too."

"Nah," Leo shook his head.

"I'm not going to stop trying."

The two friends smiled. Jed continued, "I'm telling you, if I never
have to set foot in the Situation Room again, I'll die a happy man."

Leo grinned, "I hear you, sir. Goodnight."

"Goodnight," Jed replied absently as Leo made his way out of the room.

'Josh as President. He's got my vote.'

He made his way back to bed. Climbing in beside Abbey, he smiled at the
ceiling.

'Dare me to run again, Leo. I will, just give me time. We've got to
train my successor.'

Abbey groaned and rolled over, "What time is it?"

"4 am."

"Dear god. Everyone ok?"

"All is well, Abigail, all is well."

 

End

 

 

 

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