TITLE: Insensibility
AUTHOR: Charlotte Unsworth
SPOILERS: Post 'What Kind of Day Has This Been?'
SUMMARY: They need to feel.
DISTRIBUTION: Just let me know.
FEEDBACK: Love it or hate it, either way please tell me.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Insensible: 1. Small, imperceptible. 2.
devoid of physical sensation or the power to react.

And thanks once again to Toni for an amazing beta!

She's been sitting there for hours. Just
sitting, she stares across the room but I
swear that she doesn't have any idea
what's going on around her. She's still
there when I return from speaking to the
doctor. I sit beside her and she doesn't
notice I'm there. I touch her shoulder to
get her attention. She jumps in surprise.


"'S'ok," she murmurs and lapses back into

"Donna." She drags her attention back to me.
"I just spoke to the doctor. Josh is out of
surgery, he's in the recovery room now." She
stares at me for a moment, then closes her
eyes, but the tension present in every muscle
of her body remains.

"Can I see him?"

"I don't - " I want to say no; I don't want
her to see him like that, but the hopeful
look on her face is too much and I stifle
any objection.


I guide her to the recovery room. We aren't
allowed in but there is a window she can
look through. For a while, though, she doesn't.
Instead, she stands, her back to the wall
beside the window as she gathers the strength
to look in. When she finally draws herself up
and turns to the window, she sees him. Lying
there, still connected to tubes and machines
he seems very far away, separated from me by
more than the thin glass of the window.

I can see in the reflective glass that she
feels the same.

"Let me take you home."

She shakes her head.

"I want to stay with him."

"Donna." I lay my hand on her arm, turning
her towards me. "He'll be in there for
another few hours, they won't let you in
until then, at least. Let me take you home,
so you can get some sleep."

"I couldn't sleep."

"Then have a shower, get something to eat."
Something, anything to get her away from
this window, to take that look from her eye.
As I take her arm to lead her away, I realise
how completely unexpected her acquiescence is.

How much it seems like giving in.


I lie here now, cradling her sleeping form
in my arms, and I don't even know how it

She was completely unresponsive in the car
back to her apartment. I couldn't get her
to say anything, except when I turned the
radio on to break the unendurable silence.
She quietly asked me to turn it off,
because she had a headache.

We got there and I - I couldn't leave her,
not like that. I felt I owed it to Josh
to make sure that she would be okay
before I left.

Ironic, isn't it.

So I took her inside. I got her aspirin
for her headache, made her some coffee
that she took with shaking hands. She
spilled the scalding liquid all over
her hands.

She was more concerned about the carpet.

I don't think she even realised she had
been hurt until I practically dragged
her into the kitchen to get her hands
under the taps. She was silent. All the
time I was bathing her hands, drying
them, asking if she was okay, she didn't
say one word.

Then I looked up.

Tears were streaming down her face. I
didn't know what else to do. So I
held her.

What else could I have done? I was just
so relieved to have some kind of emotion
from her rather than this fugue state she
had been in since arriving at the
hospital. I wasn't expecting her to
glance up at me with this - this look
I can never describe, even with my
talent for words, this look I will never
forget - and kiss me.

I should have stopped it. I should have
stopped her, pushed her back. Explained
to her that I didn't want to do this,
especially when it was because she
wanted desperately to feel something
other than grief and helplessness. But
I did want to. I wanted to feel
something. I hadn't been able to since
CJ and I stood, thankful to be relatively
unhurt, and then heard Toby's voice crack
as he called for a doctor. Since I saw
Josh's blood seeping out of him and
staining his shirt bright red. Since
I heard Josh mumble my name, and that he
needed to come get me. I haven't been able
to feel. There's been nothing but a stunned
numbness, a kind of dull ache that always
threatens to break into something more
but never quite does.

I wanted to feel something.

And Donna. God, she was beautiful in the
soft light that filtered through her thin
curtains. Even the tear tracks on her
cheeks as she gently unbuttoned my shirt
were bathed in light that made them look
like silver. Her skin was so soft against
mine, and warm. Her mouth opened to mine
without question, insistent but not
forceful. As my fingertips skimmed across
her back and I kissed her throat her head
fell back and her hair brushed my arm. As
I kissed my way down her body her hands
tangled in my hair, urging me silently on.
As I entered her she inhaled, a long,
shuddering breath that made me pause. She
kissed me to encourage me, and we moved.

Now I lie with her and she is asleep. Her
head on my chest, my arms around her, I
feel the deep slow breathing that can only
mean she is finally resting.

I can't.

I keep hearing Josh, in my office six
months ago.

"I'm in love with her." I hear the words so
clearly that for an instant I look around,
half expecting to see him standing over me,
gazing reproachfully towards us. Towards me,
as I lie in his assistant's bed.

I should feel that this is a mistake.


His heartbeat is comforting. Rhythmic,
constant, comforting. And his breathing,
now slowed from our earlier exertions, has
the same rhythmic quality that under any
other circumstance would have lulled me
to sleep.

I can feel that he is still awake as well.
Neither of us say a word. Perhaps he thinks
I am asleep. Perhaps he is already
thinking of the consequences once we leave
this small room and go back, as we inevitably
must, to work. And to the hospital.

A phone rings shrilly. Gently, Sam eases me
off him and to one side. He must think I am
asleep and my eyes close almost by themselves
to play along with the charade. He stumbles
out of the bed, searching for something in
the darkened room. I open my eyes to watch
him, hunting through his trouser pockets for
the insistent cell phone.

"Sam Seaborn." There is a pause as he
listens, then glances across to me before
looking away and lowering his voice. I sit
up, knowing it must be someone from the
hospital. "Thanks." As he hangs up he
registers with some surprise that I am
sitting on the edge of the bed with my
sheet wrapped around me, listening.

"Morning," he says as with some hesitation
he turns to me. I think he is about to sit
beside me, but then he changes his mind and
instead begins gathering his clothes. "That
was Toby. We should go back to the hospital."

"What happened?" There is panic in my voice.
He must hear it, he comes to me and takes
my hand.

"Nothing happened. There were a few problems
overnight, but he's out of the recovery
room now. They're letting people in to see
him." He drops my hand, and heads to the
bathroom. He won't get dressed in front of
me, I realise, and I wonder if he realised
he didn't use Josh's name just now.


The bed is made by the time he emerges, I am
dressed and sitting in the living room. We
make the journey to the hospital in silence,
and it isn't until he pulls up outside the
entrance that Sam turns to me.

"Why don't you go in, I'll park."

I agree and begin to open the door, but
there is something else he wants to say.

"Donna!" he glances out of the windshield,
away from me. "About last night, I I don't
think we should mention it to the others. I
think we should forget it."

I knew he was going to say it. Somewhere in
the back of my mind I have been waiting for
him to say it since I kissed him last night.
But I wasn't prepared for it. Absurdly,
tears prick at my eyes and I have to blink
to keep them away, praying he doesn't

"I understand." He nods, still staring
at the road ahead.

"I'll see you inside in a minute." I close
the car door and he drives away. As I walk
into the hospital, I don't understand. I
don't understand why I feel like crying,
why I want to go back to my apartment and
shower, then curl up under the bedcovers
until somebody drags me out.

But now just isn't the time.

CJ is in the waiting room when I arrive.
She tells me Josh is awake, and allowed
visitors. She offers to show me the way
to his room but I tell her I can find it
myself. There is a look of pity in her
face as she leaves, and I can't decide
what it means.

I pause at his door before going in, just
looking at him through the window. Leo is
sitting at his bedside, apparently deep in
conversation. Then he glances up and sees
me. Saying something more to Josh, he gets
up and walks out. Josh's gaze follows him,
and lands on me.

He smiles.


Josh motioned for her to come in, and it
seemed to him that she hesitated before
pushing open the door to go and sit
beside him.

"How are you doing?"

"I feel like I've been shot in the chest."
She managed a weak smile, and suddenly he
realised that her face was drawn and pale,
and he wondered if she had slept at all
in the hours he had been in surgery. "Have
you been here the whole time?"

"I asked Mrs Bartlet if there was any work
I should be doing, Josh, and she told me..."
her defensive tone caught him off guard and
he hurried to reassure her.

"That's not what I meant."

"Oh. No, Sam made me go home when you came
out of surgery." They lapsed into silence.
She reached for his hand, clasping it
between hers as she absently kissed his
fingers. The gesture caught him by
surprise, and concerned him.

"How are you doing?"

"I'm fine."

"Really?" She nodded, and he let it drop.
They remained in silence until the doctor
came in, saying that he needed some rest.
He squeezed her hand a little, and she
leaned down to kiss his cheek.

"Don't scare me like that again," she

"I'll do my best."


I bump into Toby as I come around the
corner out of Josh's room. He takes
my arm to steady me, letting go almost

"You okay, Donna?"

"Yeah." Then something Sam said this
morning comes back to me. "Toby, what
kind of problems did they have last
night? Sam said something..." I
falter, not wanting to give us away,
but he doesn't seem to have noticed.

"Josh went into cardiac arrest two
hours after they put him into the
recovery room. There was some problem
with the surgery, and his heart stopped.
They got him back in the theatre. They
had to resuscitate him twice before they
got him stabilised." He delivers this in
a monotone, designed to hide any emotion
he feels on the subject.

He must see my shock, because he reaches
out. "He's a fighter, Donna. And he's
going to be fine." He stands with me
awkwardly, then turns and walks back
to where CJ is waiting.




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