Title: Dealing

Author: Just another fanfic writer

Rating: It's fine for everyone. Since I'm British I don't have a clue about American ratings, so you'll have to decide for yourselves. I suppose it does hint at a bit of swearing.

Category: General, post 18th and Potomac

Spoiler: anything before 18th and Potomac

Disclaimer: I don't own any characters, they're all property of the godlike Sorkin. Anyway if I did own them I'd just screw up the series

Author's notes: This is my first go at fanfic, so give me a chance. If you have any comments, send them to fanfic@aircool.go-plus.net. If you think it's a load of rubbish and don't tell me, I'll end up writing more rubbish. This is done beta free, so forgive any typos etc. I wrote this before I saw the next episode, Two Cathedrals, so that increases it's chances of turning into complete rubbish.

Summary: The staff try to deal with Mrs. Landingham's death.





Charlie sat at his desk, staring at the spot where she had sat just a few short hours ago. He couldn't deal with what had just happened. Leo was in there telling the President right now. His first instinct was to phone Zoey, then he realized the information would be easier to digest coming from her father. He thought that Leo would have the job of telling the senior staff.

''How could this happen?'' He said to the room, knowing he would never get an answer to the question. Mrs. Landingham had always been there, the stable influence through everything. And now she's..... he couldn't, wouldn't finish the thought. He knew he would never really be able to accept all this.

It dawned on him that the one woman who he could ever compare to his dear grandmother, not to mention his mother, had gone, just because some idiot loser had decided to get drunk for a laugh. Charlie could feel the all-consuming anger rise inside him, like a tropical monsoon. For a moment he decided to let it stay there, to make him face up to what had happened. Then he realized that it wouldn't do any good. I need to be here for everyone he thought. That's my job.

He began to think about all the conversations they had had, the way they had always worked as a seamless team. One night as he'd finally left at past midnight while noting that Mrs Landingham was still there, still as hard-working as ever, he'd thought that there wasn't a more loyal, devoted assistant or aide in the building.



''So what do we do now?'' She asked gently, knowing that, even though he'd been in on this for longer, he would still be working through what had happened.

''We're doing a 30-minute Dateline thing on Wednesday'' Josh explained, looking at Donna, who was sat on the other side of the desk, gazing intently back at him.

''No. I mean what do we do now?'' She replied. At that point, before he could come up with a question he'd been trying to answer all day, there was a soft knock on the door, just before it opened gently. Josh peered around the door to see who his saving grace was.

''Charlie!'' He said, with surprise evident in his voice. ''How can us beings from a lower place help you.....'' he said drifting off as he noticed how rough the young aide looked. ''You OK?''

''I need to speak with Donna'' Charlie said, looking around with vacant eyes.

''Sure'' Josh replied with hints of curiosity and concern in his voice.

''What's up?'' she said leaving her chair while casting a final, worried look towards her boss and friend. ''What's wrong?''

''I need to talk to you alone'' he said trying to keep the tide of swelling emotion out of his voice.


''Did you know Mrs. Landingham was getting a new car?'' He asked, though not quite sure why he was starting like that.

''Er, yes. We were talking about it the other day. But what does this have to do with whatever you wanted to talk to me about?'' She asked with complete innocence.

''The President asked her to bring it back here so he could see it'' Charlie explained. his voice beginning to crack.'' She was driving back to the White House when a drunk driver crashed into her'' He said barely keeping the tears down.

''Oh my God. But I mean, she's okay right?'' She said, not wanting to believe what she was hearing.

''Donna, she's dead.'' Charlie said letting the tears come freely. Once he'd started, he thought he'd never be able to stop. He felt Donna come over and hug him, though she seemed like a ghost.

Donna held onto Charlie, not being able to digest the news. She couldn't understand how the women who had voluntarily become the West Wing's mother and grandmother could be gone. This isn't happening she thought.


When the President announced the news to the senior staff, the entire room suddenly changed. Suddenly everyone was so far away, he was all alone. Sam drifted into his own memories of Mrs. Landingham. He thought he heard CJ sob, though it sounded like she was a million miles away. All he could think of was how she had been here a couple of hours ago, here doing what Mrs. Landingham always did. But now she's gone he thought.



Josh walked numbly through the bullpen. People seemed to be standing in groups, sobbing, crying, or just standing there in shock. He didn't ask how they already knew. When he entered his office he saw Donna there on the couch, weeping softly. She already knows he realized as he went over to her. He put his arms around her as if he could shield her from all this hurt and pain. He knew he couldn't, but felt that he needed to do something to make it all better.

CJ walked towards Josh's office, on her way to speak to Toby about what they had just heard. She looked through his window to see how Josh was holding up. The scene she saw surprised her slightly, but not as much as she thought it would. It made sense that they'd want to comfort each other. She walked on past, deciding it was best to leave them alone.



Toby sat in his chair, facing the wall while he bounced the ball off it. It occurred to him that he had been doing this more than usual recently. He knew that anyone with a minor in psychology could tell him that this wasn't healthy. When he heard the door opening quietly he instinctively knew who it was.

'Hey'' she said softly.


''How are you holding up?''

''I'm fine.''


''I spoke to her just before she left. It never even occurred to me that this would happen. I've known lots of people who have died, or come close'' He said, both of them thinking about the terrible night a year ago, ''how come I seemed to think that she was immortal, that she'd never go?''

''Because it was too awful to think that there'd be a time when she wasn't here''



''I'm increasing the penalties on drunk driving and driving without due care or attention'' He said to his best friend when they returned from the funeral.

''I don't think you can do that by yourself'' Leo replied, all too aware of where this was coming from.

''I'm going to make the idiots who cause so much damage pay for what they've done to all of us'' The President carried on, ignoring his Chief of Staff. He was getting angrier by the minute. It was time to let all the anger that had built up come out.

''Sir, with all due respect I think..........''

''They wreck all our lives just so they can forget all the dumb-ass problems in their dumb-ass lives for one night. They're gonna pay for all the pain they cause us all. They're gone pay and they're gone be an example to anyone else who dares to even just think about driving after getting anywhere near pi-''

''Sir!'' Leo yelled. ''I understand you want to do something about this. But reacting like this is just gone get everyone in the press and all the Republicans out there on our backs even more than usual. They're gone claim that you get rid of you're anger by changing the law and taking it out on the rest of the country. We're already gonna have more trouble than we may well be able to handle on Wednesday. Adding another problem just a few weeks later is gonna give them more ammunition to fire right back at us. Anyway-'' Leo said, beginning to calm down ''- this is just gone get all this into the press and Mrs. Landingham could well end up being attacked and accused of being an influence on your decisions. Do you really want to get the wolves attacking her as well?''

''But Leo, I have to do something. She's gone, she's really gone.''




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