1. In Memory of LAJ_FETT: Please share your remembrances and condolences HERE

Story [The West Wing] He'll Know They Stood Up (It's Time to Consider Yourself) - Drama- Josh/Donna, OC

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by mavjade , Nov 21, 2016.

  1. mavjade

    mavjade Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 10, 2005
    Title: He’ll Know They Stood Up (It’s Time To Consider Yourself)
    Author: mavjade
    Fandom: The West Wing
    Characters: Josh, Donna, OC (their son, Leo)
    Timeline: 12-ish years post show
    Notes: This is for the OTP Thread’s 'Romcom… in space' challenge. We had to roll dice to get two required elements for the fic, I got “Debilitating Phobia” and “Younglings knowing what we don’t.”

    So I started this with Romcom in mind, but it quickly turned the other direction. I think I was working through some stuff from the recent U.S. election in this. I think that might become pretty apparent in one paragraph. Sorry!

    A primer for this story anyone not familiar with The West Wing:
    The debilitating phobia that is mentioned early in this story comes from one of my favorite scenes in my favorite episode of The West Wing. I’ve included the clip below. You only have to listen to the first 35 seconds to get to the line, but I encourage you to watch the whole clip, if only because it’s an excellent piece of writing.

    Right before the clip starts, Josh has just been diagnosed with PTSD and we learned that one his triggers for a flashback was music, it sounded like sirens in Josh’s brain. The older man is Leo, Josh’s mentor and boss, but also a father figure to him. Josh’s PTSD stems from being shot by members of a group called West Virginia White Pride.


    “I’m sorry, Leo, I can’t,” Josh said to his son as they were walking in the door of their Georgetown home.

    “But dad!” Leo whined.

    “But Leo!”

    “Why not?”

    “You know I have a debilitating phobia of rectangles,” Josh tried to joke. It wasn’t so much a joke as a metaphor for the truth, but it was a way to change the subject just enough so that his son would be distracted, he hoped.

    “What does that have to do with anything?”

    “The targets, they are giant rectangles.”

    “You are so lame,” Leo sighed.

    Rather than getting angry, Josh decided just to play along. “I’m well aware of that fact, thank you.”

    “All the other boys and their dads are going to the shooting range, you don’t want me to be the only one left out do you?”

    “I never want you to feel left out. Never.” Josh absolutely hated the idea that his son might feel that way, but he knew this was the right decision, “But I can’t go Leo, I’m sorry.”

    “I never get to do anything fun!”

    “Nothing, huh?” This wasn’t something Josh could let go. His son knew that he was lucky and it was something Josh never wanted him to forget or take for granted. “How many of those boys call the President, Uncle Sam?”

    “None, but…”

    “How many get to do their homework in the Oval Office?”


    “Do any of the other kids get to have sleepovers at the White House?”

    “Okay, I get it. Fine,” Leo said as he began to walk to his room.

    “Leo?” Josh called to his son. “I am sorry.”

    “Sure, whatever,” Leo mumbled as he continued to his room and shut the door with a bang.

    Josh did feel bad. If Leo wanted to go on this trip, so did Josh, but he also knew it was a very bad idea.

    Over the years, things had gotten better. Music didn’t make him hear sirens and screams any longer, the sirens on the motorcade had long since stopped causing him to shake. He did still have panic attacks on occasion, but they seemed to be caused more by being over tired and stressed than any specific trigger. But there was no way he could tolerate being in a room full of guns going off, especially with his child there. More than once his nightmares -which thankfully were no longer frequent- had morphed from him being shot to Leo and Donna being shot. Just the thought of going to a gun range made his breath pick up, his palms sweat and his heart feel like it was going to beat out of his chest. Josh was pretty sure he’d hid his reaction from Leo when they were arguing, but now that his son had stomped off to his room, he couldn’t control the shaking.

    He backed up against the open wall in the kitchen, pushing himself into it as hard as he could.

    He closed his eyes and concentrated on slowing his breathing. In, two three four. Out two three four.

    He concentrated on the feeling of the wall behind him and every part of him that was touching it. The back of his head. The tops of his shoulders. His elbows. His palms.


    He opened his eyes to see his wife, Donna, standing directly in front of him. He hadn’t heard her come in. He wasn’t sure how long he had been standing there, but it must have been longer than it felt.

    “What’s wrong?” she asked, concern growing on her face.

    “I’m okay.”

    “You aren’t,” she replied. “You’re standing against the wall. I haven’t seen you do that in a long time.”

    He took a deep breath and pushed himself away from the wall. He felt slightly better, but still somewhat off kilter. Donna handed him a glass of water, and he sat down at the kitchen table.

    “Leo wants to do the father/son event next month.”

    “Okay…“ she started confused. “You don’t think you’ll have the time?” She leaned forward in her chair and put her hand onto of her husbands. She couldn’t imagine why this would cause Josh to panic. “You’ve gone to them before.”

    “It’s not that I can’t make the time, or at least do my best to make the time,” Josh replied. He couldn’t always count on days off, but he did his best to keep his commitments to his family. “It’s that they are going to a gun range.”

    Donna sat back hard in her chair, “Oh.”


    They sat in silence for a few minutes, each lost in their own thoughts. “Maybe it’s time to tell him,” Donna offered.

    “What? No!”

    “Why not, he’s got to learn sometime, Josh.” She didn’t relish telling the story to their son, but she knew that it would be better coming from them than Leo accidentally finding out on the internet when he decided to Google his parents.

    “He’s also going to hate me someday because he’s a teenager and I’m his dad, but I’m in no hurry for that to happen either.”

    “Josh…” She knew exactly where he was going. It wasn’t so much the shooting that Josh was worried about. It had happened, but he was okay, and Leo could clearly see that. It was the other half of the situation, the part that would still rear it’s ugly head from time to time that made Josh worried.

    “It just… he still is our little boy for a bit longer, and I don’t want to have to ruin his idea of the world just yet,” Josh sighed. “I don’t want him to know that his dad’s a nut job because some kids hated the idea that His Charlie was in love with His Zoey so much they tried to kill them simply because Charlie is black and Zoey is white. But even though those kids missed, they got the Jew, so at least they were somewhat satisfied.”

    “That’s not what he’s going to know, and that’s not what we’ll teach him,” Donna said as she turned her husband’s face toward her so she could look him directly into his eyes. She could feel his hands beginning to shake again. “He’ll know that his dad overcame the odds of surviving such terrible injury, but also that he survived so much more and came out stronger on the other side. He’ll know that His Charlie and His Zoey didn’t let hate tear them apart in the end. He’ll know that his entire family -not just the ones that are related to him by genes- but everyone who loves him stands up for other people and won’t ever stand by and let hate win.”


    Josh dropped his head down as Donna looked past him to see their son standing in the doorway.

    “Hi, sweetie!” Donna said trying to discreetly wipe away the tear that was rolling down her cheek.

    “Dad, I know you don’t have a fear of rectangles, I’ve known that was a coverup for awhile.”

    Josh turned and looked at his son, “You do?”

    Leo walked over to stand between his parent’s chairs. “I’m ten, not six. There are things that are rectangles all over this house,” he said as he inclined his head toward a large picture frame hanging in the hall. “I know why you are afraid of guns. Some kids were talking about it one day when I first started at this school.”

    “They were?” Josh asked, trying not to get upset that other kids were talking to Leo about how his dad had been shot. “How’d they know?”

    “Their parents, I guess,” Leo shrugged. “Lyman isn’t exactly that popular of a name in D.C., ya know.”

    Josh chuckled, “I guess not.”

    “So if you knew this,” Donna asked her son, “why did you want to go to this so badly. It doesn’t seem like the kind of thing you’d usually want to do.”

    Leo looked down at his feet, “We had a substitute teacher tell us a story about how she learned not to be afraid of spiders by being around them more, I thought… that might work for dad too.”

    Josh pulled Leo to him wrapping his arms around his son, “That’s a great thought, Leo, thank you. But I don’t think it’s going to work for me.”

    “Why?” Leo asked.

    “Because, it’s not really that I’m afraid of guns. I am, but it’s a little more than that.” Josh looked over to Donna, not really knowing what to say or where to start.

    “How about we go into the den and we can talk, okay? I’ll make us some hot chocolate,” Donna said, hoping the few minutes would allow them to figure out how to explain post-traumatic stress disorder to a ten-year-old without frightening him or confusing him.

    - - - - -

    After their discussion and Leo had gone to bed, Josh and Donna sat cuddled on the couch together. Donna sat with her back against the corner, Josh with his head on her chest and an arm around her waist. Donna was running her hands through his hair, something she often did when they were lying together. It had been a difficult conversation, but one that even Josh had to admit was a good idea. It was what Leo had said right before he left to get ready for bed that really had Josh thinking.

    “So you’ve kept it secret all this time?” Leo asked.

    “Yes,” Donna answered. “People that don’t want dad and Uncle Sam to do their jobs might try to use it to hurt them.”

    “But…” Leo started to say but then stopped to think. “What if the secret is making it worse?”

    “What do you mean?” Josh asked, curious as to where his son was going with his statement.

    “When I’ve kept a secret that was something kinda bad, I always feel a lot better when I’ve told someone. Couldn’t it be the same for you?”

    It was an excellent point. The number of people who knew Josh had PTSD was very small. Being what many consider the second most powerful person in the United States -for two different administrations- of course the conversation came up. They had all discussed what would happen if the information came out and if they should release the information themselves to control how and when it came out. There were pros and cons of both but ultimately, in both administrations, the decision was left up to Josh. There were so few people that knew, and the people that did Josh trusted implicitly, so he had always decided not to jump into the fire that would be that controversy.

    But Josh had never considered that keeping his diagnosis a secret might be a factor personally. That the mere idea of him worrying about what it would do to his career -and to all the administrations to which he had given so much of himself- could be causing enough underlying anxiety to be furthering his symptoms. He knew that if he decided to allow the public know, it wouldn’t make things go away, but if it could improve any symptoms, it was certainly worth thinking about.

    “You’re quiet,” Donna said breaking into his thoughts.

    Josh turned so that his head was on her lap and he was looking up at her. “I’d think you’d be happy for a few moments of quiet.”

    “Oh, I usually would be, but I can see the wheels turning in that busy mind of yours.”

    Josh turned his head away from his wife and looked at his hands. “I’m just thinking about what Leo said. He may be right.”

    Donna remained quiet and continued to run her hand through her husband’s hair. While they often bantered back and forth, she knew this was a time that he needed to work through what he was thinking while he was telling her.

    “Maybe I should let it come out,” Josh continued. “Not because it’s for the good of the administration, but for me.” He turned back to look at Donna to see how she was reacting. “I don’t know.”

    “I think it’s worth thinking about,” Donna said with a small smile on her face. “You’ve always considered the administration, your career and mine, I know you have so don’t deny it.”

    Josh chuckled, he had certainly done as charged. He had considered how his decision would affect her since they were just boss and assistant, and he wasn’t about to stop considering her now.

    “But you’ve never really stopped to think about just you,” Donna continued. “And I think you should; it’s time. And no matter what you decide, I’ll be right here.”

    Josh sat up so he could sit face-to-face with his wife. He took her face in his hands, “Thank you.” He leaned in and kissed her gently. “You always have been here.”

    “And I always will be,” she whispered.

    Josh pulled back and stood up, holding his hands out to help Donna off the couch. “I mean, it’s not like people haven’t called me crazy many times before, and you for putting up with me. What do we have to lose?!”


    “You’re only outraged because you know it’s true.”

    “I’m outraged because you aren’t crazy and I hate it when you say that,” Donna exclaimed. “But yeah, you may be right, I am for putting up with you.”

    “But you love me anyway,” he smiled.

    “Yeah,” she returned his smile, “I do.”


    - - - - -

    A few other notes:
    The part where Josh talks about Leo's "His Charlie and His Zoey" comes from something I did when I was young with people who weren't related to me but I loved. My parents had a friend who I called "My Brian" and I called him that for a long time (and I'll still refer to him as My Brian on the occasions that I talk to my parents about him). I didn't want Leo to call everyone in his life 'Uncle and Aunt' and since we'd already had Uncle Sam (for those who don't know TWW, Sam is just a very good and old friend of Josh's, they aren't related.) I wanted another way for Leo to distinguish them and to show his love for them, but not use the aunt and uncle methods for all of his family that isn't related by genetics.

    Where I wonder about it is saying "my so and so" is possessive, and while coming from a child it's a sign of love, I wonder about someone, even a child, using a possessive for a black man. To me it's a sign of love, but I'm not a person of color so if it is not received that way, I apologise and I'm happy to change it. Please let me know if that is the case.
    Chyntuck, Anedon, divapilot and 6 others like this.
  2. Briannakin

    Briannakin Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 25, 2010

    This story actually makes me so happy (even though it deals with some pretty serious stuff).

    I love how you made this a part of the story and not just a throw-away line.

    I also just LOVE how Josh and Donna name their son Leo (I may or may not have a different child being named Leo in my upcoming TWW fic, but it so fits Josh and Donna).

    AND PRESIDENT UNCLE SAM!!!!! I love it!

    I will friendily disagree with you on this point. My personal canon is that Charlie was Sam's COS (before he get's killed off). I see Josh going completely bonkers after the Santos administration and being more of an advisor to Sam, but I still like it (I may or may not have a full fanon timeline for 2007-2057 8-}) .

    But I love this fic, how Josh is still Josh and Donna is still so supportive. You really write these two well.

    As for your question:
    Maybe it's because I'm Canadian, but I have no issues with a child calling anyone of any race "my so-and-so". Being from a mixed family, I've had to refer to relatives, some White, some Aboriginal, and one African (I have an uncle from Nigeria with a locally common name) as "my so-and-so". I just use it for clarity and it never occurred to me it might be possessive. But I also don't use it that commonly.


    Okay, now that I’ve read it for a second time with my mind less “frazzles” the more I can comment on the more subtle things. I really appreciated that after all this time, Josh is still dealing with the events at Rosslyn.

    This line stood out to me:

    Though the shaking has stopped, I get the sense that sirens still cause memories to come back, which must be hard since Jost is now serving his 3rd president.

    I really got Donna’s caring nature as she talked with Josh, which just brought back a ton of great scenes from the show (I’ve been avoiding watching it since the real world election overdose, partly just due to me just not having time thanks to school). It really makes me want to immerse myself in that world again.

    I adore that Leo takes after his mother’s nature of just wanting to help people and that his parents actually consider that he might be right.
    Kahara and mavjade like this.
  3. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard FFoF Artist Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Nov 22, 1999
    I have to confess that I didn't watch The West Wing much when it was on, so I am not very familiar with Josh and Donna's story, but you've created a touching portrait of a couple who've been together through thick and thin. They obviously care very much for each other and their son. Wow, what a hard topic to think about broaching with your child. The subjects of race and hate are difficult enough to discuss on a child's level without adding "and someone almost killed Dad" into the mix. Good for them and Leo for not shying away from the tough discussion.

    The scene where Josh and Donna are cuddling is sweet. :). It's always lovely to see a long-term couple expressing love in this kind of romance in an everyday situation.

    I suffer from PTSD, too (for the much more mundane reason of repeated hospitalization and heart surgeries as a child). Josh's paralyzing fear and the way he centers himself in the moment are familiar. I think you've done a good job of portraying his anxiety as real and powerful without making him "crazy" or "freaking out."
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    I'm not familiar at all with this show or this fandom, but I very much enjoyed the simple, sincere honesty of the story—this is a very believable sort of conversation that a parent would have with a child about this immensely difficult topic. I totally concur with what the others have said about Josh's strength despite his phobia, and Donna's loving support, but in a way the character that stands out to me the most here is Leo. Yes, he "knows more than we do" per the prompts, in that youngling sort of way—but he also strikes me as a very loving and understanding child, one who's capable of understanding that new knowledge in a sensible way and not being freaked out by it. And he's sincere in wishing to understand and help his dad; his suggestions about "being around it more often" and "the secret is making it worse" show that, even if one of those suggestions is a lot less useful than the other. And when Josh realizes that about his son, that encourages him to open up to him about his phobia. Although you share with us only part of their conversation over hot chocolate with us, I have no doubt in my mind that Leo was a good listener, really learned a lot, and will use his new knowledge about his dad for good. :)

    Thanks for sharing—I enjoyed this very much! =D=
    Kahara, Ewok Poet and mavjade like this.
  5. mavjade

    mavjade Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 10, 2005
    That GIF makes me happy! I love that scene! I'm glad the story makes you happy despite the nature of it!

    When I read the prompt I got for the challenge, Josh saying that was the first thing I thought of. I wanted to make a joke like Josh did, but found I just couldn't. But I knew if I was going to use it I needed it to have a reason.

    I actually named him Noah, after Josh's dad first. And then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Josh and Donna would have never met if Leo hadn't convinced Josh to go see Governor Bartlett in New Hampshire so I wanted them to pay homage to him. (Not in the story, his name is actually Leo Josiah.) Not to mention Josh and Leo had such a father/son relationship so I thought it was appropriate in that way as well.

    But yay for other TWW babies being named Leo! :D

    Of course!! There must be President Uncle Sam! I do have a soft spot for President Josh fics (as few and far between as they are), but Josh isn't the one of that group to become President, it's Sam. And Sam must be Uncle Sam to Josh's kids and vice versa!

    I love that head canon of yours, I really do! But for this story (and you are about to hate me!), I thought that since it's incredibly rare for a Chief of Staff to stay the whole 4 years, much less 8, that Josh would have left after 2 years giving Sam the experience for the next two years while Josh remains an advisor. And then Sam goes to the Senate, and... I'm still not sure what Josh is doing then. Santos either didn't run for reelection or lost and then there was 4 (maybe 8) years of Republican rule. Then Sam became President with Josh as his CoS.

    The reason I really want Josh as CoS is because of what President Bartlet said to the designated survivor that one time:
    "Do you have a best friend? Is he smarter than you? Then that's your Chief of Staff."
    (Not that I think Josh is smarter than Sam or Sam smarter than Josh, they are both clearly very intelligent, but I could see Sam thinking that.)

    There may be more stories in this 'verse if only because I thought about it so much just for this one story. :p

    Thank you! It's always a worry for me to age people, show how they've grown but still keep them as the people we know and love.

    Thank you for saying so! I too never thought anything of it, until I wanted a white child to call a black man something that could sound possessive. I'm still concerned, but thus far haven't had anyone say it's worrisome even on AO3.

    I always had wondered if the motorcade would bother Josh after all of that. I've seen other people address it in fic as well and I did think it was important enough to note. I would think that even if it didn't cause a physical reaction, that yeah, it still might not be all the pleasant at times. Though I'm sure he'd developed ways to block it out when he could.

    You should immerse yourself in that world again! ;) Yeah, I always loved Donna's caring nature, not just for Josh (though a lot for Josh) but for everyone! And I thought, what would be the best thing Leo could get from his parents and I thought: Josh's tenacity (though you don't see that here a lot) and Donna's compassion, and both their intelligence.

    Thank you for reading and your awesome comments!! They made my day!
    And wow, apparently I wanted to talk about TWW! :p

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    Thank you so much for reading even though you aren't familiar with it! That's very kind of you! Josh and Donna certainly have been though thick and thin together, including both of them having life threatening injuries. I'm glad you could see that, and yes, they care for each other and their son very much!

    I too think that would be such a hard discussion and I was concerned about it. I didn't want Josh and Donna to talk down to Leo, nor for him to react in a way that wouldn't be age appropriate. (I have very little interactions with kids this age, so I don't have a lot to model it on). But I could also see it being important for them to tell him before he found out some other way (even though he kinda did).

    I always love that too, and on the show Josh and Donna were very physical with each other even when they had a very different, but still appropriate boss and assistant relationship. I could see it growing over time to a very comfortable physical show of affection.

    Oh wow! I'm very sorry you've experienced that! [:D] I'm glad you feel I showed it appropriately. I was very concerned about making it realistic and true as I could even though I've never experienced it myself. I took a cue from how the show handled it (which people say was very well done) and moved it into the future for him. They showed him standing against the wall to center himself several times after his diagnosis even though they might not have mentioned PTSD.

    Thank you again for reading and for your kind comments!!

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    Thank you so much for reading even though you're not familiar with the show, that's so sweet of you!
    I'm glad the conversation was believable, I don't know many kids that age so I'm a little iffy on how they respond to things and how adults interact with them. Older kids and younger kids I think I'm okay with, but that age is kinda a blank spot for me. :p

    I really wanted to show Leo as a mature kid, but still a kid (as with the pouting at the beginning), that he's capable of understanding more than adults might think he can.

    I think kids can be really insightful in ways that adults can't always be because they don't have all the experience with life to fall back on. They are open to ideas an adult might just dismiss. And yeah, the idea they come up with might be simple and not quite functional, but if an adult is open to the idea, it might inspire something that is. Josh having been in politics pretty much his entire adult life I think is quite open to new ideas (this is an idyllic show ;) ) and willing to consider other points of view on some matters. So I could see him being willing to consider an idea, even if it comes from a 10 year old.

    I started to write the conversation, but it just kept causing me issues. I didn't know how best to approach it and explain it to a child. But yes, I think Leo would take that information and use it to know his dad a little better and will ultimately make their relationship even closer. :)

    I'm glad it was enjoyable even if you don't know the show! Thank you again for reading and the lovely comments!
  6. Briannakin

    Briannakin Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 25, 2010
    You're welcome. I hope you don't mind me replying to your replies because apparently I'm in a "talking about TWW" kind of mood.

    That GIF just encapsulates so much joy. I love it.

    I actually named him Noah, after Josh's dad first. And then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Josh and Donna would have never met if Leo hadn't convinced Josh to go see Governor Bartlett in New Hampshire so I wanted them to pay homage to him. (Not in the story, his name is actually Leo Josiah.) Not to mention Josh and Leo had such a father/son relationship so I thought it was appropriate in that way as well.

    But yay for other TWW babies being named Leo! :D[/quote]

    I LOVE IT! Leo Josiah totally fits. I also just really love the name Leo (it was my great-grandfather's name and has always been up there on my "if I ever have a son" name list, PLUS now it has the TWW connection) so I'm all for more babies named Leo!

    Hmmm. I've never thought of Josh as being president. I always saw him as "the King Maker" and not the king. But President Uncle Sam just has to be canon, I don't care what anyone else says.

    Don't worry, I don't totally hate you, and I totally understand. One thing I've read about the TWW universe is that it is one of the most realistic portrayals of the presidency/White House, but one thing that is totally inaccurate is the amount of time staff work there for. Yeah, it's incredibly rare for anyone remotely high up (other than the President and VP, obviously) to stay 4, let alone 8 years (but yet under the Bartlet admin you have characters like CJ staying the full 8 years and Josh, Leo, Toby, etc all staying ~7, which makes sense for a TV show that probably didn't want to introduce a whole new cast every 2 seasons, and I think that logic works for fics too). I read somewhere in my research that the average 'term' for a COS is 2 and a half years, and for other staff its only about 2.

    Anyways. But this isn't the real world (THANK GOD) so I see Josh staying with Santos for his full 8 years (but I like the idea of Sam as COS finishing the term, so maybe I can accept that - Josh was rather monomaniacal to the point of exhaustion and I always saw Santos doing 2 terms, but maybe because I basically see Santos as Obama), then a Republican winning and they are in the White House for 2 terms while Sam is in the Senate, then we get President Sam.

    That totally makes sense. Honestly, the only reason I made Charlie as Sam's COS was actually due to your above logic of White House staff/COSs not staying around that long. Originally I had Charlie as VP and Josh as COS in that other fic. But I thought if Josh served ~8 years under Santos, that would mean a collective 15 years in the White House, and even if Santos didn't have 2 terms, Josh as COS under Sam would mean he served 3 different presidents in a high level official position over like 3 decades which probably would be unheard of (but this is fiction so I can see Josh as Sam's COS - maybe Josh came back to finish after Charlie... doesn't make it till the end of Sam's terms, OR I can also see Josh starting as Sam's COS, handing it off to his deputy, Charlie, who then... well - okay, yes, I AM TOTALLY plotting out a very evil fic here so I'll just shut up).

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Even thought we might not totally agree, I totally love this idea. And I don't know if it's just us or this Fandom, but it really gets the muse thinking long term/big picture.

    Okay. I'll shut up now and go immerse myself in it again :p
    Kahara and mavjade like this.
  7. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    “How many of those boys call the President, Uncle Sam?”

    That line had me snickering for a few differing reasons. Uncle Sam - I know I'm jumping on the bandwagon to say it, but it's brilliant!! [face_laugh][face_laugh]

    “He’ll know that his dad overcame the odds of surviving such terrible injury, but also that he survived so much more and came out stronger on the other side. He’ll know that His Charlie and His Zoey didn’t let hate tear them apart in the end. He’ll know that his entire family -not just the ones that are related to him by genes- but everyone who loves him stands up for other people and won’t ever stand by and let hate win.”

    This paragraph was beautiful - a wonderful coda to their all surviving that awful day, and what it meant in the bigger picture of things. This entire piece was so thoughtfully handled when it came to Josh's PTSD, and I loved the introspection and familial bonds it explored - Josh's internal strength and Donna's loving support were such a fantastic glimpse of this difficult subject a decade later. This was really, really wonderfully done! =D=

    “Dad, I know you don’t have a fear of rectangles, I’ve known that was a coverup for awhile.” Leo walked over to stand between his parent’s chairs. “I’m ten, not six. There are things that are rectangles all over this house,” he said as he inclined his head toward a large picture frame hanging in the hall.

    Because Leo is totally his parents' son here! What a perceptive, empathetic, endearing kid. I really enjoyed getting to know him a bit in this piece. [face_love][face_love]

    This was an excellent oneshot, all around, and I thank you for sharing! :) =D=
    Kahara, mavjade and Findswoman like this.
  8. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    Sorry for the belated comment. I left two NSWFF stories for the end and eventually started writing a reply to yours, but then the usual happened - a sudden kriffin' page refresh. D to the oh.

    Knowing Josh's story and comparing it to similar experiences, I can totally see how and why he cannot get over it. In the end, I'm pretty sure that Donna's comfort is the only thing that will stay with him from that whole day, as opposed to the idea that he has to bite back the issue. He still needs time and he wouldn't be acting the way he does if it wasn't so. Poor man. :( Of course that he needs to protect himself from anything that could upset him, for as long as he needs to.

    As far as Josh and Donna's fear of Leo finding about what happened to his father on the internet and him finding it from his friends at school goes, I can see how our fear of the digital society makes us forget the obvious - talk of the town predates the internet.

    Overall, nice to see these two as parents and how their boy has a bit of each of their personalities. Thanks for taking part in the Romcom challenge. :)
    Kahara, mavjade and Findswoman like this.
  9. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Force Ghost star 5

    May 11, 2016
    Nice stroy :)
    I don´t know anything about this series/fandom but it seems quite intersting. I really felt sorry for Josh bevause of is PTSD, I´m glad he has Donna to help him. I liked the funny dialogue at the beginning about him being good friends with the president and that he can bring his son to the office.
    Findswoman , mavjade and Kahara like this.
  10. Kahara

    Kahara FFoF Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    Thanks for introducing me to these characters; I rather like them! :) Another point for the "should watch TWW some time" list.

    The incorporation of both the challenge elements is very well done, and I like it even more after watching the video snippet. The rectangle thing was quirky all on its own, but it takes on an extra, more serious emotional significance when seen in that context.

    [face_laugh] Okay, so I had to do a double take the first time through and then realized the character's name is actually Sam. Perfection!

    The way you've written Josh's symptoms here feels realistic to me, though I'm not an expert. He and Donna have been dealing with this for a long time, and he has a confidence in his ability to cope -- at least, with things set up as they have been and no major no-nos like, say, going to a shooting range. One can tell that his old routine for calming down a panic attack is something very familiar to him, even though he doesn't usually need it.

    Josh's reasoning for not wanting to tell Leo is very much something that I can imagine a parent in that situation would feel. It's one thing to know that the world can be cruel and awful a lot of the time, but something else to pass that information on. :( I loved Donna's response to that, and it's neat that her words are incorporated into both parts of the title. That really emphasizes how much her input matters to the outcome of this tale.

    =D= I know somebody already quoted it, but it's just a great piece of writing! Considering what we see of Leo later in the story, I think that "knowing they stood up" has already made for a good start in life. :)

    Well, it wasn't the world's most elaborate coverup. ;) I like that we find out his interest in going on the trip is actually more about his dad than about the shooting range -- it really seems that he could take or leave that part of it. Leo is growing up a lot faster than either of his parents realized. Which then leads to him figuring out a lot of the things they thought he wasn't ready to know. What we see of the conversation between Leo and his parents here is great. He's still definitely a kid and they don't necessarily have cut and dried answers, but there's so much wisdom and caring in how Donna and Josh talk to him. [face_love] (Kudos on writing a great OC, by the way. I'm somewhat disappointed that this Leo is not in canon.)

    His attempt to help Josh by exposing him to the fear is not really feasible in this case. But in spite of the lack of maturity and experience that goes into that, he does end up setting a hopefully-positive change in motion anyway.

    And that definitely is a case of the younglings knowing something their elders don't. :) It may not end up being that simple, of course. But Leo managed to put things into a new perspective and give his parents something to think about. Secrets can really place a weight on a person when they're held tightly and seen as catastrophic. Though I think Josh is right to be wary of the controversy that would inevitably come if his PTSD were to be made public, I can also see the other side. And then we get the other half of the title, also from Donna.

    [face_love] Aww! I can't think of anything really interesting to say about it, but I really liked this moment. Cuties. They're obviously really strong in their support for each other, and it's beautiful.
    Findswoman , mavjade and Ewok Poet like this.
  11. mavjade

    mavjade Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 10, 2005
    I'll not make everyone roll their eyes at us by going on and on by responding again to everything, but I do think it's somewhat this fandom. Maybe the nature of the show, when you know you the characters can only keep their jobs for a maximum of 8 years, and might lose them in 4, you are almost forced to think about what's next. ;)

    I really just wanted Josh's kids to look at Sam as family, and that joke was just too good to not make. :p

    Thank you. I've always seen Donna as the person to pull Josh back from whatever ledge he is standing on, ever the voice of reason. I'm always wary of portraying something that can be so personal like PTSD, when I have no personal experience, but I also feel like it's an important part of Josh, and Donna for that matter. But that it would be so hard to explain to a child and bringing his entire family in might be helpful.

    I figured if Josh and Donna were going to have a kid, they would be pretty smart and loving with those parents. Thank you, I'm thinking about writing a Diary from his POV next year. :)

    Thank you! And thanks for reading and commenting!!

    No need to apologise at all! (I've still not managed to review all of them [face_blush] ). I've had that happen more than a few times, it's so frustrating!

    On the show, Donna almost always was the one that could calm Josh, even before he had PTSD. She knows the exact way to help him and he listens to her. So you are right, that would be the thing to stay with him. Unfortunately his being in politics probably means he does have to bite it back, even if by this point he's done his job for more than 10 years, and done it well. :( Anything that can be used as a weakness will be exploited and used against someone.

    It sure does and talk of the town sometimes is faster! :p And the President being shot at isn't something that's just going to go away and be forgotten. I also think kids hear more than we think they do, and even if the parents weren't talking to the kids about Josh, they might still hear it.

    Thank you for reading and commenting! Especially since you don't know the show, that's so nice! :D

    Thank you so much!
    Josh would be pretty much lost without Donna, even from before they were a couple. I can't imagine him going through PTSD without her... he probably would have fallen completely apart. :(
    As a point of clarification (just because I know you'd have no reason to know this, not being from the U.S.). Josh isn't just friends with the President -though he is that- he's also his Chief of Staff. The Chief of Staff is the President's top and most trusted adviser, has almost as high security clearance and is often considered the second most powerful person in the U.S. (that's the reference I made in the story to let people know he's the CoS) since they have the ear of the President.
    Thank you so much for reading and commenting, especially since you don't know the show! That's very kind of you!

    Thank you! Woot, for another point for watching TWW! :D

    As I said, that's one of my favorite scenes in TWW and as soon as I read my prompt, that's what came to mind. Josh is very much the kind of person to make a self-deprecating joke when he's uncomfortable and the rectangle thing always jumped out at me as an example of that. I could see him continuing to use it as a way to talk about his PTSD without actually saying it.

    Yep! It pretty much wrote itself to call him Uncle Sam. ;)

    I'm glad they feel realistic. I don't have any personal experience and I worry about writing something so personal, even for a fictional character. PTSD doesn't always go away but it can be managed and I felt it important to show that.

    Exactly! I don't have any kids yet, but I imagine I'd want them to stay innocent to the ways of the world as long as possible.
    Donna has always been the voice of reason to Josh and her input matters a great deal to him. When I couldn't think of a title, I thought it would work well if the main themes, which happen to involve Donna would be the title.

    Thank you! This was a bit of reaction on my part to the recent U.S. election and that I don't want to just sit by and let things happen. This entire group are people who sacrifice a LOT for the greater good of people and while they certainly aren't perfect, they do stand up for what is right and I do think a child of theirs would learn that as well.

    No, it certainly wasn't. But that's very much Josh. He'd come up with a way to talk about something that someone else wouldn't understand and then never adjust it. He's very, very intelligent, but he can be a dufus too.

    I think a lot of times kids see things we think they don't, and they understand more than we think they do. But they can't always process it or completely understand it. This puts adults in a hard situation of trying to explain very adult concepts, but I do think because kids don't understand everything, they can see things we don't.

    Thanks! And sorry, the only Leo you get in the show is the older man in the clip above. But I'm very glad you enjoyed him!

    [quote[And that definitely is a case of the younglings knowing something their elders don't. :) It may not end up being that simple, of course. But Leo managed to put things into a new perspective and give his parents something to think about. Secrets can really place a weight on a person when they're held tightly and seen as catastrophic. Though I think Josh is right to be wary of the controversy that would inevitably come if his PTSD were to be made public, I can also see the other side. And then we get the other half of the title, also from Donna.[/quote]
    When I was trying to think of what Leo could know that Josh and Donna didn't, I thought the more simple the better. Even though I wrote it, I still don't know what the decision would be. The idea certainly has merit, as you said, secrets can really weigh on you, but it really could be an issue for Josh if it was found out. People on the other side would certainly try to use it against him.

    They've certainly been through a lot together (that is canon!) and they really understand each other. I'm glad that came through in the story!

    Thank you so much for reading and commenting even though you don't know the show! That's very kind!
    You should watch it so we can have more fic! ;)
    Ewok Poet, Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  12. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    This is a wonderful story mav! It's a great introduction to Leo-the-youngling-who-knows-more-than-he-should (I guess he picked up on some skills to analyse and interpret things while doing his homework in the Oval Office), the portrayal of Josh and Donna is perfect, especially Donna who is the kind, caring person we know from the show yet still has that manner of outspoken snark about her (the line about "I'm the one who's crazy for putting up with you" is just so completely something she would say), there's just the right dose of humour [insert comment about "Uncle Sam" here] and, most importantly, you grapple with the very serious issue that is PTSD in a very sensitive fashion. The whole description of how Josh controls himself in front of his son, how he "lets go" when he's alone, how he is open about it with his wife and how his mind keeps working even when he's asleep is very well written, with the image of his nightmares where Donna and Leo are shot instead of him being particularly vivid. And then, Josh and Donna discussing how they could talk about it to Leo was a fantastic slice of parents' life: how to talk about hate, but to show that it can be fought by overcoming its intended consequences.

    Now I'm looking forward (even more) to reading about adult Leo, because such lessons from his parents must have shaped an interesting grown man!

  13. mavjade

    mavjade Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 10, 2005
    Thank you so much! He certainly has picked up on things being in the White House so much. Leo is very much an observer who picks things up learns them quickly.

    Thank you! It's been fun to explore how the characters have grown and matured, but still keep them the same characters we love. I adore Donna so much, but I find her harder to write than Josh.

    That's something I love about The West Wing, that it can be hilarious and discuss very important and serious topics in the very next scene. I was happy Josh's PTSD wasn't just dropped from the show after that one episode, but I always wanted it to play a bit more as well. But I guess that's what fanfic is for!

    I imagine that as a parent it would be terrifying to think your child would see you like that, and you'd want to protect them from it. But Josh knows he can't keep it forever, and he certainly can't keep it from Donna.

    The more I think about being a parent, the more I think about how hard it must be. I mean, I know it's hard, but having to explain something like burning hate and the consequences of that hate is just overwhelming to me. I think Josh and Donna have been far enough removed from the situation by this point that it's just a fact of life, but I imagine that wasn't an easy conversation. I couldn't even write it because I didn't know what to say.

    I'm so happy you've jumped into our little 'verse! We're having so much fun writing it! I hope you continue to enjoy!

    Adult Leo is very much a product of his parents, sometimes to a fault. LOL.
    Ewok Poet and Chyntuck like this.