TITLE: Our Two Consciences II: Psych 101, Josh Lyman
AUTHOR: Laurel A. (lalden99@yahoo.com)
SPOILERS/RATING: Everything up to, and including,
Bartlet for America/PG
DISCLAIMER: Nothing you see here is mine; it all
belongs to others (i.e. Aaron Sorkin, NBC, WB, etc.).
ARCHIVE: Anyplace, just let me know.
SUMMARY: Post–Ep for Bartlet for America. Donna
gives some thought to the loyalty between Josh and
Leo, and to Josh's emotional demons.
STUFF: Happy New Year to everyone! This is part of
the Our Two Consciences series by Michelle H. and
myself. To see our fic from last season (and some
groovy stand-alones), check out our website

I like Mike. You know, Mike the FBI Guy. He always
flirts with me and I always flirt with him.

It's fun, kind of a two-person mutual appreciation
society. He's never totally comfortable in the White
House; Mike thinks he shouldn't be in the Oval Office,
and that other people should be briefing the

Part of it's an FBI thing; they don't want to show
off. And he's a totally different guy outside the
West Wing, all Mr. Macho-Confident FBI Agent. But
being here makes him nervous, so we joke and flirt, do
a little banter, and it takes the pressure off.

Plus, I get to flirt with a cute, smart guy. And who
can argue with that? I like cute, but I really go for

It's not at all like my banter with Josh though.

Yeah, banter with Josh is comfortable, but it's also
exciting, a little scary, and sometimes it's not much
of a confidence builder. Now and then it gets kind of

Like me telling Josh that he doesn't know how to woo
women. How he thinks the way to have a relationship
is to randomly tumble into bed with a member of the
opposite sex, and then hope they break up with him
when he starts to feel like they're getting too close
or things are getting too serious.

Or like him telling me that I have terrible taste in
men, an overwhelming desire to be coupled, and a small
sense of self and self-worth.

See? Sometimes the banter stings a bit. I think it's
because there's more at stake. We are close enough so
that things can hurt, but we aren't close enough so
that those truthful revelations don't bother us.

We've had daily contact for over three years and we
know each other's weaknesses, baggage, and hang-ups.
We can probably psychoanalyze one another better than
your average therapist.

But for as well as I know Josh, there is always part
of him that's inaccessible. There are very few people
that he is truly open with.

Sam is one, I think. But I know he holds back even
from Sam. I probably know him better than Sam, but
he'd never admit that, and it probably scares him to
even think about it.

There's only one person he won't pull away from: Leo.

Not that Josh doesn't try to hide things from Leo, and
not that he doesn't make a show of denial when Leo
calls him on things. But I believe that Leo is one of
the few people that Josh will be honest with.

When it comes to real emotions, Josh is rarely honest,
even with himself -- most especially with himself.

I've spent enough time with him to know that Josh has
demons to exorcise, and guilt to forgive. To make up
for that, he puts on the smart aleck egotistical act.
And rarely does he let that fašade down.

But there is something special between Josh and Leo.
It's more than loyalty; it's more like family. Leo
battles his own demons and so he sees all the more
clearly that Josh has demons of his own.

Demons from his PTSD; demons from thirty years of
guilt about his sister; and demons from his father
too. I know he felt a terrible about being out
campaigning and not spending more time with his father
in his final months.

So, because of all that, Josh holds back with people.
He won't get close so he won't have to feel the pain
of loss again. It keeps him at an arm's length from
even his closest friends. And it's what keeps him
from being able to be in a real relationship with a

Josh has issues with women and intimacy. Mandy was
safe because she was always in charge. Josh didn't
have to be open with her; didn't have to tell her how
he was feeling. She did that for him.

His other relationships are those random couplings he
clumsily stumbles into and out of. When a woman he
finds attractive pursues him, he just lets it happen.

I think those encounters rarely have much to do with
how he really feels about any one of the particular
women. They are more out of basic need.

He never wears his heart on his sleeve. I am not sure
he could bear to see what's in his heart, much less
have other people see what's in there. Now and then I
get a glimpse, but it's rarely because he wanted to
show me, and it's never enough.

Josh and I have a complex relationship. It irritates
him when I have dates, and I'm pretty sure my seeing
Cliff affected him beyond the violation of political
loyalties. In turn, I tell him to ask Joey Lucas out;
I tell him repeatedly to ask Joey Lucas out. Several

There's been all this flirty banter over the past
year: flowers, putting me on a stamp, not stopping
for red lights, 8th grade text books, tough love...

But what's it all mean? Where is it going?

I know I have intense feelings for him. And I think
he could have feelings for me too. Maybe it's just
something that will be on the back burner until some
unknown date in the future.

After we are out of the White House? Maybe.

When I get a higher-level job and am no longer his
assistant? Possibly.

When Josh realizes that he can be close to a woman,
have a physical relationship with her, and the world
won't come crashing down? More likely.

I think that the first time Josh finally lets down his
walls and allows himself to really feel, it will be
all the more powerful, and he will fall all the
harder. He is so passionate and intense about
politics; I think that same passion and intensity,
when directed towards a relationship, could really be
something amazing.

In the meantime, he will bounce from unfulfilling
relationship to unfulfilling relationship wondering
why he never totally feels safe, why he never quite
feels comfortable, why he never exactly feels

And I will wait, and watch, and psychoanalyze -- both
hoping to be the woman who'll be on the receiving end
when the floodgates of passion are unleashed from
Joshua Lyman's heart, and scared to death of drowning
in that flood.

But the real truth is the idea of _not_ being that
woman -- and even worse, the thought of someone else
getting to be her -- fills me with a fear I cannot




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