Music from the Darkness
by: Jaye Reid
Disclaimer: Created by the brilliant Sorkin and owned by WB. John Edward is owned by himself and his program on apparently The Sci-Fi channel in the US - I think. Not mine, never will be. I have no money, therefore I'm not worth suing. Borrowed for my own amusement.
Written: November 30, 2003
Category: Cross-over with Crossing Over. Josh/Donna angst/romance
Spoilers: General season 1 - 4.
Summary: A dance with shadows or a regal visit?
Author's Note: Started back in April and I've finally got around to finishing it. Encouraged by Aim and then beta read by Aim & Bridget - ta heaps. I know where my views stand on the subject matter, where yours do is totally up to you as a reader.
I don't know why I'm actually doing this... I mean it's just too silly to be real.
I don't really... oh well, might as well give Josh something else to rib me about.
It's late in the day when I finally decide to talk to him. Well really, it's the middle of the night. My friend Laura has phoned twice already today to ask if I've found out if it's real or not.
I told her we're both busy people and really, who believes that stuff anyway.
Well, I do. But I'm not telling her that.
I tap on his doorframe. He's been reading through reports from Larry and Ed for the past hour and a half. I'm surprised his nose doesn't have ink on it considering the proximity to the page.
"You need glasses," I tell him for the millionth time.
"I just need these reports printed in a legible font," he bounces back. "I mean, isn't there a standard size font?"
I round the desk and look over his shoulder. "There is and that's it." I reply, pointing to the printout. "You need glasses."
"The reason for your presence in here at present is?" he inquires.
"To keep you from joining Toby and the writing team around here?" I muse. He can be extremely eloquent unless he knows he's conceding the point.
"I really want to finish reading these so..."
"Can we talk for a minute?" I ask, cutting him off.
"Talk," he replies, leaning back in his chair and flexing his fingertips together.
I go and close the door. By the time I turn around he's sitting up straight and looking at me with a serious eye.
"Is there a problem?" he asks.
"No, I don't think... well..." Oh how do I say this?
"Donna, what's wrong?" he asks.
"This is really... look, I went out last night..." I stumble, hoping somehow my mouth will make sense of my thoughts.
Josh is now frowning, looking like he wants to hit someone. "Did something happen to you? Did someone try and... and..."
"No... no, not like that." He can be really sweet sometimes, but as if I'm going to go out with anyone after the Inauguration. Before this escalates into something way out of proportion I should say what I have to say.
"Have you heard of a guy named John Edward?"
I can see Josh scanning his memory, and I realize he's mentally running through the members of Congress and the Senate.
"No Josh, he's not the senator - that's Edward*s*, this one isn't in politics." And the wheels grind to an abrupt halt.
"Then how would I know the name if he's not in..."
"Do you remember that TV program we were watching late at night the other week?"
"Donna, you'll have to be more... oh hang on... umm... Crossroads with John whatshisname?"
"Close, Crossing Over he's a psyc..."
"He's not. We've had this discussion. We had this discussion while we were watching the show."
"We didn't discuss, you were mocking the people in the audience."
"It's a set up, Donna. It's television."
"Capitol Beat is television, and that's not set up."
"That's different. Capitol Beat is real... that... that show isn't."
"How do you know?"
"What? Hang on...you didn't? You didn't go to one of his 'performances' did you? Donna..." Josh whines rolling his eyes in amusement. "And who did he contact? Your Great Aunt Myrtle twice removed on your father's side or something?"
"No, he didn't."
"No, look, what happens is they get him an audience list. Then they jump on the 'net and see if they can find out anything about the people who are there. They plant people in the audience to have conversations with them and ask simple things like, 'who are you hoping to hear from?' Then they offer some lame story about their own supposed life story to cover up the fact they are planted They get a few things, get lucky and bam! Great Aunt Myrtle has a message from the other side."
"Well, that can't be the case for me," I reply. Well, it simply can't.
"And why pray tell? Did your great grandfather's second cousin who fought with Napoleon impart a secret only known to the family?" Josh questioned with a chuckle. "Honestly, Donna..."
"Point one, I went because my friend Laura was supposed to go with her sister, but her sister's babysitter broke her leg yesterday morning and couldn't make it. Therefore it was still Helen's name on the audience list, not mine. Second, because you had me pull the files on the energy bill I was running late and therefore didn't talk to anyone on the way in. I only got to my seat just before they started."
"Anything else to prove that all this hocus pocus is real?"
I bite my lip... I can't believe I'm going to say this. "Yes, I... I got a message but apparently I'm only the go between. I think... I think the message relates to you. The... what I know about your family... the message..."
Josh has this serious look on his face. I fidget with my hands, winding my fingers around themselves. I'm almost afraid to look at him. He's gone from extremely amused to what is almost his pissed off look. Hell, if I hadn't already started this I would tell him to forget about it all and pretend I didn't say anything. His family is always a raw emotion. I know that. This is why... this is why I didn't want to do this.
"Donna?" he questions tightly.
"It... it doesn't make sense but the questions leading in made me think it was for you, but... "The Princess of Russia... says... said someone named Fred was good or great or something and she knows about the music with the blue stones."
I breathe a sigh of relief that I've finally managed to get that much out, but the look on Josh's face... it's unreadable. My momentary relief is gone.
"What..." he stops and scrubs his hand across his face and up through this hair making it stick out more so. "Was anything else said?"
"Josh, you were the one who said this was all shadows and mirrors..."
"Please? Was there anything else said?"
It's the begging tone that has me on my feet and for once I'm pacing, not him.
He couldn't be sitting any stiller if he was carved from stone.
"Josh, I... does that make sense?"
"It's close enough to make sense. Was there anything else?" he questions quietly.
"He used the expression - and I don't think he meant it literally because it *is* a figure of speech - but the message was you've 'dodged the bullet' twice, it wasn't your time and you have even more to achieve than you realize before it is."
"And he didn't know who you were?"
"And you didn't talk to anyone before you went in?"
"No, Josh... I told you. I didn't talk to anyone and the... the things he said, well other than the last one meant absolutely nothing to me."
"Doesn't this get taped to be shown on television?" he asks, a little panicked. I'm so glad I managed to have the presence of mind to circumvent anything in the press, anyone who might recognize me as Josh's assistant.
"Yes, it does, but the conversation I had won't go to air. Apparently, you have to sign something and because I got there so late they somehow missed me. I figured someone might recognize me if it went to air so I asked them not to include it and they said because I'd signed the waiver... but I hadn't. They missed me and I wouldn't sign it after, so they can't use it. The last thing I want to do is embarrass the Administration or you."
"Okay? Is that all you can say? I'm... Josh."
"I... I appreciate you telling me Donna. It's getting late, you really should be getting home."
Okay, now I know there is something here. He's gone all... "Josh are you okay? You understand this? It actually means something?"
"No, yes and yes. But I'll be okay. It's just... I need to process this."
It's official. Joshua Lyman is totally freaking me out.
"Josh, you're totally freaking me out."
"Glad I can return the favor," he replies almost too calmly for me to leave him alone with his thoughts.
"It's okay, Donna. I just need to think this through. I don't understand how anyone could... it's impossible, no one else knew."
I want to ask 'knew what?' but he's looking a little shell shocked so I don't want to push him.
"Well, I'm going to go home now," I tell him as I lean forward, my hands resting on the back of one of the visitor's chairs.
"You should, it's late. Are you okay to get home?" he questions with a genuine air of concern.
"Yeah, I drove my car to work."
I can tell he's about to criticize my car, until he suddenly remembers I have updated my transportation.
"Okay then... Just remember, you know, to lock all the doors when you get in it and make sure you park somewhere well lit. Has that streetlight outside your apartment building been fixed yet?"
"Yes, because someone made some phone calls apparently and made all sorts of threats in regard to ramifications of a political nature if it wasn't fixed. You don't know anything about that do you, Josh?"
Yeah, like I've never heard the phrase about who the IRS works for and who has some influence in where money is spent.
"Do I look like the kinda guy who has time for these things?"
"No, of course not," I agree with a mock level of seriousness. It's my way of thanking him without having to say the words. He doesn't like it when people thank him for doing something considerate. Yes, he will gloat shamelessly about any political fight he has won, but when it comes to anything else...
"Damn straight. Go home. I'll see you in the morning."
"Good night, Joshua," I smile. I'm still worried, but he's joking around like nothing is wrong so I leave him to his own devices and head home.
I arrived home last night too late to phone Laura, so I sent a message to her cell.
"All hocus pocus."
That should save me from getting another call from her about it. Well, probably not, but she won't revisit the subject until we catch up again later in the week.
Josh has already been into the office this morning, which puzzles me. For one, I usually make it in before him - because I make a conscious effort to do so, and secondly, I know there was nothing on his schedule for this early on a Saturday morning. The thought crosses my mind that he didn't bother going home last night - and I'll be annoyed as hell at him if that's the case - but I discount that when I find the fresh, but empty, Starbucks cup on his desk that I get to throw in the trash.
I've decided it must be his mother's fault. She obviously picked up after him as a child. I'm determined to retrain him when we...
Yeah, okay. 'Retrain him when we're together' sounds like a fairly presumptuous comment doesn't it. Well he's made a few slips, too, so I know it's not just me. He also *knows* I notice the slips and he doesn't seem perturbed about that either. So we just go about our business with this knowledge and I guess when it's time for things to change, they will.
There's no note as to where he is. However he has a meeting with Toby and Congresswoman McCain from Minnesota later this morning so I'm guessing they're planning their attack. I file some of the reports I had been using in the past few days - the job I like to leave for Saturday mornings because it's marginally less chaotic around here. I finally find my desktop - not an easy task around here some days either. I think I've been working with Josh way too long. That all straightened, I take the report he was working on last night, that I found on my desk this morning, back over to Larry and Ed. Once I put the pages back in order that is. He's made changes and put red lines and question marks all through it for them to work on or get back to him with. It looks like an end of term paper that's been graded.
I'm sure Larry and Ed will feel the same way.
I spend the next hour or so assuring them Josh really isn't a mean man who likes nothing more than to pick holes in their work. I go over some of his points - ignoring the comments in the margins regarding their grammar because really he *is* being mean - and clarify what Josh is asking for and try and identify why he wants certain parts left out or changed in regards to the other notations.
By the time I get back to my desk, Josh has been and gone again. I know this because the files I left neatly stacked on my desk are all askew. I check his office and find the one I know he needed for the meeting is gone, indicating he eventually found it after rummaging around the entire office.
Typing, sorting, rescheduling and before I know it my stomach is complaining that it requires lunch. Saturday lunch is the Mess as some of my favorite places aren't open on Saturdays around here. What I wouldn't do for a peach tart from The Bread Line rather than the low fat lemon and poppy seed muffin I've chosen to have after my chicken salad.
Josh finally makes an appearance just after I've noted down all the phone messages from while I was at lunch. Well, all being three.
"Hi there, what have I got?" he questions as I hand him the messages.
"Matt Skinner wanting to reschedule Monday's meeting to Wednesday," I say as I start making the alteration in the appointment book, "I'll move it to 1:20. Mike Casper, no message other than to give him a call, and your mother wanting to know if you received the package she sent you last week. Josh, is your mother still sending you clothes?" I ask with a grin.
"No, she's not," he tells me rather indignantly and too quickly for it not to be true. I know she does so he should just face it and move on. Then again, I wouldn't be able to get my kicks out of asking him.
He declares he's basically done for the day, and I should feel free to go home whenever I want. His meeting with McCain and Toby obviously went well, but I'm wondering if he fell and hit his head because it's not even two in the afternoon. And we're not working tomorrow.
"I'm done, you should be done too so you know, go do what women do when they don't have to be at work," he instructs as he heads for his office.
"What have a life?" I snort.
"You don't need to go that far," he calls back over his shoulder with a chuckle. "This is the government, remember?"
How could I forget, I think to myself. But hey, nearly a day and a half weekend to myself! I pack up my desk, grab my tote bag, say a quick goodbye to Josh - who is actually gathering his own belongings together to leave - and I'm out in the sunshine.
I caught the Metro this morning because I wasn't sure about the weather, and I stop by Reeves Bakery on my way to the station to get one of their famous apple and rhubarb pies to have for dessert tonight. I've decided to make a home-cooked dinner that requires more than 'remove from packet and heat on high for 5 minutes.' Disembarking at my stop after a short Metro ride, I head for the Comet Deli. My supply of Sumatran Mandheling coffee beans probably has only one cup left in it and after drinking the generic brand at work, I need my fix. I grab some Grafton Vermont extra sharp cheddar, which I first tried on a whistle-stop trip through Vermont, as well. Josh had teased me terribly saying I was a traitor to Wisconsin for wanting to buy cheese from Vermont. I decide on some Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast to have with the cheese in thick crusty sandwiches for lunch tomorrow.
The lunch I get to have at home and not at my desk. Yippee for me!
I do a little grocery shopping for my dinner on my way home as well. Once home, I run a bath - adding plenty of bath salts, pour a glass of wine and climb in to relax. I don't care that I'm drinking wine whilst soaking in my vanilla scented bath and it's not even four o'clock in the afternoon - I'm home and I'm relaxing.
It's not until just after 8:00 pm when Josh knocking at my door interrupts my peace. The buzzer is on the blink again and someone must have wedged the door open for him to be able to get up here. I turn the volume down on Ella and answer the door.
"You shouldn't have opened the door," he lectures. So I go to close it on him.
"No!" he complains, holding it open and coming inside. "I meant you should have checked who it was first before opening."
I shrug. "I knew who it was. You have a distinctive knock."
"What? Like your distinctive penmanship?" he jokes.
"You were just in the neighborhood?" I ask, ignoring the remark.
"Why would I just be in the neighborhood?"
Really, it's like talking to a child. "Well, maybe because you're here?"
"No, I came over here purposely," he replies, before sitting on my sofa.
He bites in his lower lip, and I immediately wonder what the problem is. He only does that when he really isn't sure how to phrase what he wants to say.
"You know that thing you went to? You know the other night with your friend?"
"Well I... I thought I should explain."
He seemed a little upset last night when I spoke to him about it, and I thought it would be just one of those things we didn't talk about again.
"Look you don't have to explain anything to me Josh..."
I stop mid-sentence as he fumbles in his pocket. When he reveals his hand there's a small silver treble clef broach with blue stones resting in the middle of his palm. I take a seat on the sofa beside him and he holds the broach out for me to take. I turn it over a few times noting the edges are somewhat scuffed and there are two of the stones missing.
"The music with the blue stones," I whisper as I hand it back to him.
"Yeah," he agrees softly as he rubs his thumb over it. "It was Joanie's. She used to wear it every time she had a piano recital competition. She said it brought her good luck. After the fire... you know... when I was a kid?"
I nod. As if today wasn't surreal enough when he let me go home early.
"Well, we were back at the house. Mom was hoping to find something of our lives amongst the ashes and well... I found this. I... I just stuck it in my pocket and didn't tell Mom and Dad that I'd found it. I figured they'd want it and I wanted something of Joanie... something to remember of her. So I just kept it. I didn't... I've never told anyone. No one - you're the only other person who knows."
"So... when I got the message to tell you..."
"Honestly, I've never believed in that sort of thing... but *no one* else knew."
"What about the other?" I question.
"Actually, it should have been the Princess of Prussia. But I could understand the title being out by one letter."
He smiles wistfully and leans back into the cushions, closing his eyes.
"The... the Princess of Prussia. It was a game of make-believe Joanie and I played when I was little. She would pretend to be the Princess of Prussia - Anna Amalia who was a famous composer and harpsichordist. The Fred was her brother Fredrick the Great who was a talented flautist. Joanie loved the harpsichord as well as the piano and she thought it would be fitting if I learnt to play the flute. Then we would be just like them. And again..."
"No one else knew? Not even your mother?" I ask.
"I actually phoned her today and asked her. When I dropped the Princess of Prussia reference, she laughed and said she remembers Joanie wanting to be a Princess, but really nothing more than that," he shrugs. "And I never did learn to play the flute." He adds with a chuckle.
"Hey, I could always teach you," I joke as I nudge his arm with mine.
"And would that be after Senior Staff and before my first meeting of the day?" he laughs.
"I think you could practice during meetings, it might lighten things up a bit and I wouldn't charge you exorbitant tuition fees either." I smile.
"As delightful as it sounds, I think I'll pass," he grins at me.
"Well, if you ever change your mind," I continue.
"Yeah, but... look there's something else."
"What?" I mean hasn't this day been weird enough?
"I saw the whole tape... the one from the show... of... of you," he stammers.
"Um... yeah... can we... talk about it?"
Oh. The whole tape? The whole part with me? The one where it was suggested...
Oops... I must have zoned out there for a minute.
"You didn't mention the rest of the message from Joanie... from my... my..."
"I know." I tell him and my bottom lip is trembling and the sight of tears in his eyes breaks the dam holding mine back. My throat constricts and I hate to see him upset. He reaches out to me and I sink into his embrace.
We hold each other for what seems like hours but it's probably no more than five minutes. He pulls back and after swiping away the wet trails down his cheeks, he brushes mine away with his thumb and his sleeve cuff.
"There, that's better. Dad didn't have to tell me to look after you... I would have anyway - no question," he smiles and then kisses the tip of my nose. "But you still should have told me."
I sort of feel guilty now. I mean, there was more said but I didn't want Josh to think... well, I didn't know what he would think at first and if he didn't believe in all of this then it could look... well something else.
"I didn't want to just assume..." I begin, but he holds up his hand to stop me from talking.
"Well... it doesn't matter now. I've seen the tape. I had Mike pull it for me yesterday."
Ah, so that's why Mike Casper phoned. "How did you manage that one?" I question. "You didn't pull your 'I work at the White House' card did you because, well damn, that wouldn't raise any suspicion?"
"Ye of little faith."
I snort. "More likely 'me who knows you well'," I laugh, leaning my body back against his. He runs his hands over my hair and it feels comforting, safe.
"Mike gave them a call. Said he had a report that a less than smart individual in federal witness protection program had been an audience member that day. He's contacted them again, since viewing the tape, to let them know it had been a false alarm."
"You're very sneaky." I smile.
"No, I'm not very sneaky... I would have pulled my 'I work at the White House' routine. It was Mike's idea."
"Mike is very sneaky," I reply matter-of-factly before snuggling closer to Josh.
'I'm always going to look after you," he says very seriously as he possessively wraps his arms around me.
"Hmm... nice to know," I chuckle softly. Maybe this would be a good time to ask for that pay rise I so greatly deserve.
"I love you," he whispers into my hair.
That sound you don't hear is my heart, which has stopped.
I mean I always knew there was something special between us. And yeah, I've known for a very long time that I'm in love with him. And despite the fact I had a very strong impression he felt the same way, to actually hear him say the words...
What? Oh shit...
"Gee Donna... not that I expected a, you know, huge declaration in return from you but silence isn't what I expected either."
I close my eyes and take a deep breath. It seems to have kick started the thud, thud, thud in my chest again too. I can't think of words to describe what I'm thinking, feeling... so I decide to kiss him instead.
It's not a peck on the cheek but it isn't a stick my tongue down his throat either. It's... right. It feels right.
When our lips break free I look up and find a familiar mischievous glint staring back at me.
"Why don't we look after each other? Will that do?" I ask.
"Perfectly. Now can I go back to looking after you because I think some aspects of it have just become my next favorite thing," he grins. And before I have time to think, his lips are on mine again.
And I don't mind it at all.