Disclaimer—So not mine. All Aaron's.

Author's notes—I have to quit saying I'm not going to write stories... Because I end up writing them. And I wrote this without the aid of a beta-reader, so, y'know... *ahem* Overlook any glaring mistakes...

Spoilers—Two Cathedrals

Archive—Tell me where.

Feedback—Always appreciated.


No Going Back



Donna smiled weakly at Margaret. "I understand the President is in there," she said, nodding to Leo's office door.


"He wanted to see me about the weather."

"At least it wasn't raining earlier. That would have been even more depressing."

"Yeah," said Donna sadly.

"Can I talk to you for a minute afterwards?"

Donna nodded but shot her a curious glance as Margaret went to announce her presence. After a short meeting with the President, Donna reappeared and asked gently, "What's up?"

"I'm going to the State Department."


"You want to come with me?" she asked, shutting down her computer.


Margaret didn't give a reason. "I have to leave now to make it. Leo'd never let me go in the limo."

"Leo doesn't normally let you go to these things anyway."

"No, he doesn't. Last chance, Donna," Margaret said, putting on her coat.

"I—yeah. Okay. I have to get my coat. You want to tell me why we're going?"

"Because," Margaret said simply.

"You want to tell me a little more than that?" asked Donna as they walked through the halls towards Josh's bullpen.

"The last time everyone left because the President was on television, Josh and the President were shot. I-I saw it on TV with Mrs. Landingham... I just... I don't want to be here in case something happens."

"You think something's going to happen?"

Margaret didn't say anything. Donna grabbed her arm and pulled Margaret along with her quickly.


"Maybe we should have stayed."

"Too late."

"We can always go back."

"I'm not going back."


"You want my keys?"


"Okay," Margaret said as they found themselves at the location of the briefing.

Margaret wasn't sure she had ever seen so many reporters before. She remembered when Leo had done press conferences as the Secretary of Labor and the amount of press never even came close to the number of reporters they were looking at. The energy in the room was positively electric. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She couldn't blink. She tried to take in everything, afraid that if she closed her eyes for even a split second she'd miss something important, *the* important thing. 'This is it,' she thought. 'This is what the administration has boiled down to. Everything we've done since the campaign boiled down to this very moment. Everything.' She held her breath at Sandy's question. Bartlet wasn't saying anything.

Donna put a hand on Margaret's arm. "Mrs. Landingham should have been here."

"She would have gotten mad at us for coming."


"You know I'm right."

"She would have, yes, but—" Donna stopped dead as the President spoke, delivering his answer clearly and with authority—Presidential authority. Cameras flashed simultaneously, seemingly blindingly. Margaret raced past Donna quickly, exiting the room. Donna watched her friend in confusion before following.

"Margaret?" She could see Margaret down talking to the Secret Service and showing her White House ID card. Donna fumbled for hers as she charged down the corridor. "What are we doing?" she asked Margaret quietly as she caught up to her.

"They're going to need us now," Margaret said as they reentered the briefing room. "Leo?" she asked quietly, coming up behind her boss.

He was shocked to see her, but nodded. "Margaret, I need you to do something for me."





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