Work Header

Who Cares About the Numbers?

Work Text:

"How do the numbers look?"

Donna jumps, startled by the voice in her ear. "Josh! You're back!"

"Yes, Donna, and I can see that you failed to mention your astute observational skills when you tricked me into hiring you," he says. "How do the numbers look for California so far?"

"When did you get back? Why didn't you call? I would have picked you up at the airport!" Donna frets and starts trying to organize the pile of papers on her desk that is threatening to topple over at any moment.

Josh sighs. "My flight got in about two hours ago. I took a taxi from the airport straight here. Because I wanted to know how the numbers looked." That last bit is said rather pointedly.

"Oh, right," Donna says. She shifts piles of paper and pulls out a folder, which she hands him. "These are from a couple of days ago."

He flips through the folder, his eyebrows furrowing in concentration. "These aren't as good as they should be," he decides. "Get Toby and Leo over here ASAP."

Donna nods. "Sure, I'll call them. Josh... "

"And get me some coffee," he adds, dismissing whatever she is about to say and heading into his makeshift office, closing the door behind him.

Since it's clear he doesn't want to talk about his father's funeral, Donna makes the calls to Leo and Toby, setting up a meeting to begin in fifteen minutes. She hits up the coffee pot, pours as large a cup as she can find and knocks once on Josh's office door before entering and putting the coffee down in front of him. "Leo and Toby will be here in about ten minutes," she says.

"Thanks, Donna," Josh says, not looking up from the papers he is studying.

"Josh," she begins again.

"I need to read through these press releases before my meeting, Donna," he says, a clear dismissal.

Donna turns and leaves the office without another word. She's worried; she knows that this cannot be a healthy way to deal with his loss. But there's only so much she can do if he's not willing to let her help.


"Did I see Josh earlier?" CJ asks, sticking her head in Toby's door.

"Yeah, he's back. He already called a meeting with me and Leo to discuss the numbers in California," Toby replies. The expression on his face makes it clear that he's troubled.

CJ walks in and perches on the corner of his desk. "How's he seem?" she asks.

Toby puts down his pen and looks up at her. "He seems like he's trying very hard to bury himself in his work and not think about losing his father."

"That doesn't sound healthy," CJ remarks, the corners of her mouth turning down in a frown.

"It probably isn't," Toby agrees. "But I'd say it's healthier than burying himself in a bottle." He figures he's somewhat of an authority on that subject.

CJ nods and covers his hand with hers; a re-assuring gesture that almost brings a smile to Toby's face. "He'll be okay," she says. "We'll keep an eye on him."

"I think Donna's got that covered," Toby remarks dryly. He hadn't missed the way that she hovered over Josh.

"Ah," CJ says. "Somehow that doesn't surprise me."

Toby's eyebrow lifts a millimeter. "Really? Workplace romances can backfire."

CJ chuckles. "Oh, I know. But Donna and Josh have a unique connection. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see something develop there."

"At least we got ours out of the way a few years ago," he says.

"And I thought we agreed to never speak of it again," CJ reminds him. "Maybe Sam should talk to him."

"About Donna?"

"No, about dealing with his father's death," she says.

Toby nods. "I'll talk to Sam."


"Hey, Toby, you wanted to see me?" Sam pokes his head in the door of Toby's office.

"Yeah, Sam, come in and shut the door, please," Toby says.

Sam does so, but hovers near it. "Are you firing me?"

"Have you done something that would make me want to fire you?"

"Not that I can think of," Sam admits. "But it's unusual."

Toby nods. "I know, but I didn't want anyone to overhear us. Sit down. Have you talked to Josh at all?"

Taking a seat, Sam says, "Just in that meeting that we had with him. Why?"

"CJ seems to think that he's not dealing with his father's death."


Toby is silent, clearly waiting for Sam to continue. When he doesn't, Toby says, "You don't seem surprised."

"Have you heard about Josh's sister?" Sam asks.

"I know he had a sister who died," Toby says.

"There's more to the story than that," Sam explains. He tells Toby the story of Joanie and how she died. "Josh has never been good at talking about his feelings. And, if I know him as well as I think I do, he probably blames himself somehow for not being there when his father needed him."

Toby nods. "Can you talk to him, Sam? We need him in top form if we're going to win California."

"Sure, no problem," Sam agrees. "I don't know if he'll talk to me, but I can definitely try."


"Josh is back," Jed says.

"Which one is Josh?" Abbey asks, popping her head out of the bathroom of their hotel room, toothbrush in hand.

Jed removes his shirt and hangs it over the back of a chair. "The one that just lost his father, who was a friend of Leo's."

Abbey nods and begins brushing her teeth, assuming that her husband has some reason to bring this up.

"Leo tells me that Josh was acting like it was business as usual," he says. "Apparently everyone on the staff was worried about him."

"Uh huh," she manages, ducking back into the bathroom to spit out the mouthful of toothpaste. "Are you going to talk to him?"

"Do you think I should?" Jed asks. "Apparently Sam is taking him out for a few beers tonight. They've been friends for a while now, so Toby figured Sam would be the most likely to get him to open up."

Abbey comes back out and sits on the bed to talk to Jed while he finishes changing his clothes. "If you think he could benefit from a conversation with you, then yes," she says. "But if Sam can handle it, then you probably don't need the added stress."

"Josh is a good kid," he says. "And I think my visit to him at the airport helped."

"It probably did," Abbey agrees. "You have a good staff, Jed. If you treat them well, I think they'll take you far."

Jed smiles. "Let's go to bed, Future First Lady. We have to be ready for whatever the campaign throws at us tomorrow."