Fade to Black
Part 8

All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.

I've been told this chapter needs a two box of kleneex warning.......

I want to sleep. I want to sleep, because that's what people do when they
want to wake up from a nightmare. I'll just go to sleep, and when I wake
up, I'll be back in my real life. I know this isn't real. It can't be.
Donna can't be dead. Lisa can't be gone. I can't be here. It's not real.
CJ's not real either. CJ's sitting at the foot of the bed, and she keeps
looking at me. The reporters, they're all over the place, and she's
telling me I ought to stay out of the West Wing until I'm ready to deal
with them.

Okay, CJ. Okay. I'll keep that in mind, but it doesn't matter, because
I'm going to wake up soon, and then it will be all over. I'll tell you
what. I bet I'm asleep at my desk right now. I probably just fell asleep
waiting to hear from Sam and Leo after that mess with Lillianfield and
the Oversight committee. Any second Donna's going to come along and wake
me up. She'll wake me up, and I'll see that she's alive and not some
victim.

Donna's not a victim. Even after Dr. Freeride, she came all the way to
New Hampshire. She got past Margaret and she set up shop in my office.
Then she argued with me. You know, there are congressmen who won't do
that, but Donna did. Donna did, and she convinced me that I needed an
assistant, that I needed her as an assistant. "I think you might find me
valuable." That was the understatement of the year. As soon as Donna
comes along and wakes me up, I'm going to tell her that I find her
invaluable, that I could not function without her. I'll tell her that I
love her....... I'll tell her everything as soon as she wakes me up, and
while we talk about it, this nightmare will just fade away.

CJ's leaving now. Bye bye CJ. I'll tell you I saw you in my dream just as
soon as I wake up. I remember you wanted to talk to me about
Lillianfield. I bet this is my subconscious trying to remind me. Well,
don't worry. I won't forget to talk to you about that. I think I know
just the thing to tell Lillianfield.

"Josh. How're you feeling?" Oh, just fine. I didn't think you'd be in my
dream, too, Mrs. Bartlet. Hey, what do you think my mind's trying to tell
me when I have nightmares about serial killers and Donna dying? Wait, you
wouldn't know. Lisa might know something about dreams. No, she wouldn't.
James does though. James is a real shrink, not just an FBI shrink. He
should be able to tell me what this means. When I wake up, I'll ask Lisa
though, just in case.

"I'm going to give you something to make you sleep. Is that alright?"
That's just fine, Mrs. Bartlet. You'll give me a shot, and then I'll wake
up, and I'll be sitting at my desk in my office, and Donna will be
lecturing me about not sleeping enough, and she'll rub my neck so that it
feels better after sleeping in my chair, and........ Wow, I do feel
sleepy now. I guess the nightmare's over now.......

"Josh. Josh! JOSH. Come on Joshua, wake up!" My eyes feel puffy, and I
have to force myself to open them. CJ? That sure sounds like CJ. Maybe
Donna went home early, and CJ saw me sleeping. She's probably waking me
up so we can talk about the press statement. No. No, I can't be sleeping
in the Lincoln bedroom. Important people sleep here. I do not. I should
be asleep at my desk. CJ, please tell me I should be asleep at my desk.

"The President talked to Donna's parents. There's a blizzard in Madison
right now, but they're going to come down as soon as they can." No, no,
no. It can't be. It has to have been a nightmare. I never got....... I
never got a chance to tell her I loved her. It's not fair. CJ, it's not
fair. Make it stop, CJ! Please, make it stop. She's not making it stop.
She's telling me Sam brought a bag from the house, that Sam and Toby
think they found something, that James is talking to them in the sitting
room if I feel like company. No, CJ, please, tell me Donna's not dead. I
don't care about clean shirts, just tell me dammit!

Oh, god, I must have been screaming. Sam rushed in, and he looks like
hell. He looks like I feel, so I guess he looks worse than hell. I
shouldn't have yelled at CJ. She keeps looking at Sam. "If you two need
me....." CJ, don't go. I just.... I'm sorry. I want Donna. I want my
Donna. I'm not mad at you. I just want my Donna.

Sam's biting his lip now, and he has this look. I think he needs a hug.
Lisa should be here to give him a hug. Lisa..... If it was real.... if
Donna's gone..... Oh Sam. I'm a horrible friend. You know I'm a horrible
friend? You ought to know. I wanted it to be Lisa. I wanted it to be Lisa
so it wouldn't be Donna. You don't look too good, Sam. I am such a
horrible friend. Did Mrs. Bartlet give you something to make you sleep?
Have you been taking your pills? God, I am such a horrible friend. Can't
we make a trade? I deserve to die so much more than Donna did. Please?

"..... and Jamie thinks we might be able to trace it. Josh?" See? I
haven't heard a word you said. I am the lowest of the low. I do not
deserve you be your friend, Sam. You're here with me, and Lisa's not here
with you, but you're still here with me. I don't deserve a friend like
you. I don't deserve that, and I didn't deserve Donna. She should have
had someone who would treat her like a queen, and instead, she ended up
filing my papers. "Josh?" I know, you're worried. Don't be. I don't
deserve it.

"SAM!"

They need you out there. You ought to go. I'll be fine. Nothing can kill
me. Everyone around me gets to die, but I'm going to live forever, Sam.
"SAM!" They're getting impatient. Don't keep people waiting. Toby and
James are not patient men, so whatever you guys are working on, don't let
me keep you. Don't let me keep you.

They got tired of waiting, Sam. That's why James is at the door now.
Looking at you, but you're not going. Why aren't you going? You don't owe
me anything. I'm a horrible friend, Sam. You ought to leave me and go
do..... whatever. "Sam, they think they found Lisa." I stood there, and I
wished it were Lisa instead of Donna, and it's going to be pointless.
He's going to kill both of them. Sam, I am so sorry. James doesn't move
from the doorway. He's just standing there, and I can see his cell phone
on his belt and his gun under his jacket. Well, it would be under his
jacket, 'cept he's not wearing a jacket. God, Sam, I'm so sorry.

"Sam?" His Adam's apple is bobbing, and I know he's trying to swallow. He
opens his mouth to talk, but there's no sound coming out. I sit up, and I
try to ignore my stiff neck. Donna should be here to rub it away.
"Where's the body?" Yes, I know it's the first rational thing I've said
since I.... but Sam needs to know.... I need to know. Then I realize
James doesn't look like the FBI dude he usually looks like. He's got this
stunned look on his face, like he just got dealt four aces at poker.
James definitely has a worse poker face than I do.

"Sam, she's at GW." She's alive? My God! Sam, Lisa's alive! "We should go
now. I have to.... I have to see if she's alert enough to answer
questions." Sam's face has so much awe on it, that it rivals James'
voice. He nods then, and I think the shock's wearing off, because he's
hugging me. My best friend is hugging me hard enough to break a few ribs,
but I don't care. "Let me get my coat, but can't you wait to ask her
questions?" It's then that the joy slides from James' face. No, it can't
be that bad. Tell him it's not that bad. James! It's not that bad! She
didn't get to go to a hospital to die! She didn't! She can't die. Donna
died, and I can't lose both of them.

"Josh, do you......" I don't want to leave. If I leave, and if I walk out
into the snow, then it's all going to be real, isn't it. Donna won't ever
come back if I walk out into the January air without her. I try to close
my eyes, but that makes it worse. Then I can see the brown grass and the
blood beneath her. It's already real. It's already real, and I want to
say goodbye to Lisa.

 

Fade to Black - 9

 

 

 

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