DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, Warner Bros...basically, a lot of people who definitely aren't me. I don't make any profit out of this, and no copyright infringement is intended. Don't sue, I'm just lovely ;-)
RATING: There's nothing here that isn't on the show. A lot less in fact. PG.
CATEGORY: Josh/Donna. And future. And drama and angst. Oh, the list goes on.
SUMMARY: When you don't understand, you don't get any peace.
SPOILERS: Not unless I'm clairvoyant. I don't think I am, so I don't think there are.
AUTHORS NOTES: I'm English and I know nothing about Washington, except it has the Potomac going through it. I do know something about heartache though <sigh>
DEDICATION: To everyone affected by the atrocities of the 11th September. Especially Alana, my Yankee-doodle-dandy friend, who was braver than I'd ever be, but who also had the guts to admit to being scared as well. God bless you all.


'To be beloved is all I need,
And whom I love, I love indeed.'

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Pains of Sleep"

I should have guessed, I suppose. I mean, it doesn't take a rocket scientist. My career was entering its latter stages, she was just starting out, I was old, she was young. Looking back, I see how ludicrous it all was. 20/20 hindsight is an amazing thing.

Well, I wasn't old then. I am now. Now I am forty-six, and, just to keep up habits of a lifetime, I am alone. Alone literally and metaphorically. In a city of millions, I am entirely alone, because I made myself that way. I don't expect any sympathy from you; I don't get any from myself. I screwed up. I'm going to have to deal with it.

And maybe one day, I will. Maybe one day I'll stop feeling like this. I don't even feel angry. I don't feel anymore, because after I felt it slipping away, I went and stuck my head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich. Could I have salvaged something from this disaster by early detection? No. It crashed and burned, and decimated everything.

I need a drink, but I am not going to get one, because I know once I start I won't stop. I don't want to be an alcoholic. Maybe I'll have no choice in the future, but I do just now. So that brandy can stay there, and I'll stay here, I'll stay staring at the Potomac, and I'll wonder when she stopped being in love with me and where I became someone I don't like anymore.

All my - our - friends were good about our new relationship. Leo moved Donna, and that was that. The press corps oohed and aahed, their reaction one of sentimentality rather than viciousness, which was good. Now I think they are all wondering what happened. They blame me of course, absolutely and entirely. I don't mind so much, because I am pretty sure it is all my fault, I just don't know why.

The wedding was nice, if misguided. It was after we won the second term, one of the happiest times of my life. It was in the Rose Garden, just as Donna said she'd dreamt it would be. She looked lovely, I looked pretty good, Sam was my best man, Leo gave Donna away because her father was dead and she said he was practically my father. Yeah, it was good.

It came after a very brief courtship. We both knew we liked each other. 'Unresolved sexual tension' as they call it on the TV. Except this was not the TV, this wasn't a writer dictating our lives, even if it felt that way sometimes. So unresolved sexual tension turned out to be...well, a divorce. Oh, it was horrible. It was about a year in that we stopped talking. The banter was gone, because despite our friendship before, I was always her boss. In a relationship, you can't be a boss, and the new dynamics were seismic. I thought we could work them out.

We couldn't.

Oh God, I need a drink. I feel so dead inside.

The saddest day of my life was when she told me: "You make me unhappy". Just as Leo had prophesised when I first told him about our relationship. He turned to me and he said: "Josh, think. You'll make her unhappy."

He's an excellent prophet. At the time I thought...I forget what I thought. Did I think at all back then? I always believed I did, but now I'm not so sure. I never seemed to get the 'thinking' and the 'action' the right way around.

She cited 'irreconcilable differences'. That was damn good of her. 'Unreasonable behaviour' would have been just as justified. She didn't ask for anything, I'd have given her everything. I think she knew that. Maybe that's why she didn't ask for it. I didn't care anymore. I didn't have her, I didn't need anything. A bit of food. Maybe a fridge.

But Donna didn't want any of that. She didn't want me. And that was the rub. How can you beg from someone who doesn't care?

No. That's unfair. Donna cares, she cares enough about her sanity to leave. She was that strong. Me, I am left because I work too many hours and I don't want children.

She wanted children, I bought her a puppy.

That was why she left me. No, not because of the puppy, because of a zillion other things like the puppy. Unfeeling, stupid things.

The brandy is staring at me, grinning, laughing, offering me a way to forget, a way that is forbidden.

I signed the papers, no questions asked. She's off somewhere now, she's finished college. I hope she's happy, wherever she is.

I give in to temptation and pour a shot. I carry it back to my eyrie, overlooking the Potomac, and think of her, because at the moment there isn't anything else to think of. My life is very full and busy and branched, but I just lost the glue and I'm looking at this structure, knowing it's about to collapse and I don't know what to do.

I stare across my adopted city, and raise my glass. I say aloud:

"To Donna. Good luck, goodbye and God bless."

Then I drink.



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