spoiler: contained within Manchester II
"I've gotta take a shower."
And the door closed.
Donna couldn't seem to get her heart to start beating again. All she could see was the heel of his hand slapping against the doorjamb.
She saw it happen again and again and fear crept into her face, changing her pallor to near translucent blue, fear is a horrible thing.
It was fear that robbed her of breath.
Fear that made the room and her blood turn cold.
And it was fear that made her ears fill with the sound of breaking glass.
"Josh?" The water continued to fill the air with white noise. "Josh?" Her voice rose in volume along with her fear. He wasn't answering.
Sure, her logical brain argued, He's just thinking... head to the wall, water down his back, thinking.
True, answered her fear, then again, maybe he wasn't looking, slipped... fell... drowning or bleeding to death... and you're standing out here.
Donna swung the door open and stepped inside, halted for a second by the cloud of steam that met her. "Josh?"
She waved it away and took another step. The bathroom was cozy, and so she didn't have far to go. The shower, set in an old footed bathtub gushed water and steam. There was a growing puddle of water on the floor. Clear, rippling water.
Somehow the voice of fear in her head sounded disappointed.
"Josh? You didn't close the curtain all the way." That was the source of the water, but not the source of her anxiety. She stepped outside and picked up the shirt, still on its hanger and brought it inside the bathroom. She skillfully avoided glancing through the opening of the curtain and busied herself hanging the shirt on the hook behind the door.
Through the sound of the water she could pick out the rumbling baritone of his voice. It didn't matter that she couldn't pick out individual words, what mattered was that he was beating himself up about it and she couldn't help. She couldn't give him the absolution he so desperately wanted... and the worst of it was, she didn't think there was anyone alive who could.
She heard his weary sigh and waited for his answer. "Donna?"
"What would your dad say, Josh?"
"About what?" His tone was sharp, cautious.
"About the FDA thing. What would your dad say?"
The water shut off with a screeching twist of the knob and she placed a towel in his outstretched hand. There were a few splashes of water that fell from the shower, spotting the leg of her pants and soaking into the leather of her shoe.
She should have left him alone to think, but then again... she couldn't leave him, not yet. Not when she could still hear the glass.
He stepped out of the tub and reached for a second towel, bringing him close enough that she could smell the soap on his skin. Josh scrubbed at his hair for a moment before setting it down around his neck.
"My dad," he had a faraway look in his eyes, "my dad would say that he hated my mom's meatloaf."
She didn't interrupt with any of the obvious questions. He needed to work it out... talk it out.
"He'd know when she was planning on making it. He'd see the ingredients in the shopping bag and he'd know. So, when that night came, he'd call her from work and tell her we were all going out for a special family celebration." There was a soft smile on his lips. "He knew she loved that recipe, so he couldn't tell her not to make it, so he found a way to turn a bad situation into a privilege."
He worked his fingers through the wet waves of his hair. "Leo said I can't do a thing about the FDA announcing RU-486... so I won't." Josh leaned closer until Donna could feel the heat of his breath on her face. "I'm going to talk to Sam and we're going to find a way to work it out. We're going to find a way to make it work for us."
Josh grabbed the hanging shirt and stepped through the doorway, only to turn right back around and smile at Donna's stunned expression as she nearly bumped noses. "And Donna?"
She couldn't say a thing, not when she was drowning in relief.
He reached out, capturing her cheeks in his hands and planting a solid kiss on her forehead. "Thanks."
Josh slammed his hand into the side of the doorway, a frustrated shout filled the room.
"What's this about?"
"I blew the tobacco thing... I could've helped this...it's going to be a very close election..." He gave her a look."I've gotta take a shower."