Disclaimer: I don't own them. I just like to have fun with them. Please don't sue me. I have no money.

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Josh realizes the attempt on the President's life has negatively affected Donna.

Aftershocks (2/4)

 

Josh had tried to call Donna all night long, but either she wasn't home or wasn't answering. When he got in the next morning, she was already at her desk. She was studying her computer screen, but it didn't seem like she was reading. She seemed to be lost in thought.

Josh touched her shoulder, saying her name.

She jumped again.

"God, Josh!" she said, looking up at him. "Don't do that."

"Sorry," he said, realizing that touching her probably wasn't the smartest thing in the world to do. "I just wanted to say good morning and apologize for last night. I obviously said something that upset you and made you...."

"Josh. Really, it's fine," she said, jumping out of her chair and heading past him to the file cabinet.

"It's just you seemed upset and I tried to call you."

"Um. Yeah, well I wasn't home. I'm fine," she said, walking past him again. "Just drop it Josh," she fairly hissed, gathering his schedule book.

"Donna, I just..."

"I know Josh," she said, standing in front of him with his schedule book resting in her crossed arms. "Keep your voice down please. It's just not really professional to talk about this where anyone could here. You should have some compassion for the people who are still having a hard time dealing with the shooting."

Her rebuke of him made his temper flare. "I do have compassion. I have compassion for everyone here, but I'm starting with you," he said, grasping her arm and dragging her into his office.

"Josh! What are you doing?"

"We're going to talk," he said, shutting the door behind them.

Donna flung his hand off hers and backed against his desk. "Talk about what Josh? You have a meeting in five minutes."

"I don't give a damn about the meeting. You on the other hand I do give a damn about."

They stared at each other for a few seconds, until Donna's face seemed to soften. She looked towards the ground. "Josh, I...."

A knock on the door interrupted her.

"What?" snarled Josh, turning towards the door. He hated that just as Donna seemed to want to say something to him besides "yes" or "no" or "I'm fine," they'd been disturbed.

CJ poked her head in. "We've got a meeting. I just wanted to see if the internal debrief of the shooting had reached your desk yet. If so, you're going to need to bring that file with you," she said, whispering the last few words as she realized that she'd broken something up between them. "I can see you're busy," she said, backing out of the door. "Come to the meeting when you can."

"No, it's fine, CJ. Josh can come with you now," said Donna, swallowing her emotions and turning into a robot again as she breezed past Josh and CJ to her desk.

Josh reached for her arm, stopping her.

"Josh, you're going to be late," she snapped, looking from his hand on her arm into his face.

Reading no expression in her face again, Josh felt a chill pass through his body. It was like she wasn't even there. He squeezed her arm. "We are going to talk, Donnatella," he whispered, looking at her face. Her eyes briefly lit up with the use of her full name, but she shuttered them quickly.

She gave him a brief nod and walked out to her desk.

Josh looked at CJ's quizzical face. "Is Donna okay?" asked CJ quietly.

"I'm not sure any of us ever will be okay again," said Josh, grabbing some folders from his desk. As he followed CJ down the hall to the meeting, he looked into the bullpen, but Donna was nowhere to be found.

***

It was a few days later before Josh could have a private moment with Donna again.

He'd come into work early, happy to see that he'd beaten Donna in. On his way in, he'd stopped and bought them both coffee and muffins. Placing her coffee on her desk, he headed into his office to try and make sense of his desk. Working out of two offices was confusing for him, but everything seemed to be in order, thanks to Donna.

He heard her arrive at her desk not too much later. Glancing at his watch, he realized it was only 6:15 a.m. Thanks to his new responsibilities, he was usually at his desk by 7, but he was surprised that Donna was here so early. `Is she getting any sleep at all?' he wondered, as she walked around the corner of his door with the cup of coffee in her hand.

"Thanks for the coffee, Josh," she said, meeting his eyes briefly and then turning to walk back to her desk.

Not willing to let her go that easily, he said, "Donna?"

"Yeah?"

"Come in and have breakfast with me?" he asked, pointing to the bakery bag lying on his desk.

"Josh, I really have a million things to do."

"Donna, we're the only two people here. I can't imagine the phone will ring in the next 20 minutes. Sit down. Have breakfast," he said, his eyes pleading with hers.

She sighed. "Okay," seating herself in the chair in front of his desk.

"Good," he said with a smile. "It's been awhile since you've started my day out with one of your annoying facts of the day."

Donna smiled, but the smile didn't reach her eyes. "Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I don't have one for you today."

Josh's heart ached to see her look so sad. "Well," he said, placing a blueberry muffin in front of Donna. "I just happen to have a fact today with which I can annoy you."

Donna smiled again, picking at her muffin.

"Don't you want to know what it is?"

She tilted her head at him. "Okay," she said, glancing over his shoulder out the window.

"Donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes."

Donna met his eyes briefly and gave a wan smile.

"That's it?"

"What?" she asked.

"That's all the response I get?" he asked incredulously.

"Um..."

"I mean, that's gotta be the lamest fact of the day that even I've heard and you don't even reprimand me for wasting your time with it?"

"Well..."

"At least I can muster up some kind of comment for your efforts, annoying as they may be," he said faking mock hurt.

"You're right," she said, finally meeting his eyes, a small smile teasing the edges of her lips. "Your fact of the day is the lamest I've ever heard."

"Right through the heart Donnatella," he said, putting his hand over his heart. "That hurts. See if I ever do extra research to bring some joy to our day."

At his last sentence, Donna's head snapped up. She studied his face for a few seconds. "I guess there hasn't been a lot of that around here lately, huh?"

Josh, knowing he was walking on thin ice, proceeded cautiously. "Yeah, but things will get better once Sam and Leo are back."

"Yeah, maybe," she whispered, continuing to pick apart her muffin, but not really eating any of it.

"Donna?"

"Hmm?"

"Donna, look at me."

It took a few seconds, but she finally raised her head. "You know you can talk to me, right?" he whispered.

"Uh huh," she nodded, her eyes still expressionless.

"I just...I think...I know things have been hard for all of us lately and I wanted you to know how much I appreciate you being here."

"Thanks," she whispered, glancing over his shoulder again.

"Donna, why won't you look at me?" he whispered, stilling her hand that was picking at her muffin.

"I'm fine," she whispered, still looking at their hands.

"No, you're not Donna. You're not fine and I've been an idiot for not seeing that. Please, please talk to me," he said, his voice breaking slightly as he noticed her slight figure trembling.

"Josh it's nothing."

"I don't call you walking around like a robot, flinching when I touch you and jumping at every sound, nothing."

Donna just shook her head, sighing.

"Donna, please. I know I haven't been a very good friend these past few weeks, but I'm here now and I know what's bothering you."

"How do you know?" she whispered into her lap.

"About the nightmares," he whispered back.

She just nodded her head.

"Donna, please look at me," he whispered, squeezing her hand. "Please."

She finally raised her head and met his eyes. Her own were brimming with tears again. Josh almost winced at the dark circles under her sky blue eyes. "Tell me," he whispered.

"I can't," she said, wiping at her eyes with her free hand.

"Yes, you can. Please. It might help."

"I doubt it," she said looking over at his bookcase.

"How do you know until you try?"

"Josh, I really can't. I don't remember them. Just vague things," she whispered, eyes widening as some images past through her mind. "It's nothing."

"Please?" he pleaded, seeing her shut down already.

She studied his face briefly, and opened her mouth, when CJ breezed past the office door, yelling out "good morning." Josh saw Donna's eyes shutter again and the moment was gone. She started to pull her hand out from under his.

"Donna?"

"Please, Josh," she whispered, standing up. "I'm fine. You're fine. Everyone is going to be fine. Let's just leave it at that."

"Donna!" he said, jumping up too. "Why are you pushing me away? You're obviously not fine. And I know I'm not fine. And I'm even less than fine when I know you're not fine."

Donna tilted her head at him. "That didn't even make any sense, Josh. Let's just get to work," she said, spinning out of his office and heading back into the bullpen.

Josh stared at the space she had been standing.

***

 

Aftershocks - 3

 

 

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