In her dreamÖ


                In her dream they left the newseum without incident. They returned to the White
House and celebrated their success with Chinese food. She went home, went to bed, her own bed (she had told Danny she was sleeping fine tonight), and she felt happy, carefree, and safe. In her dream, she went to sleep.
                She became aware that her body was shaking. Not with her own power. Someone was
shaking her, trying to wake her up. In her dream she resisted- some part of her knew that reality was horrible. But her mind gave in, and she woke up.
                CJ opened her eyes. She found herself looking at Samís sympathetic and apologetic face.
                "Iím sorry," he said, "I know youíre only had about ten minutes of sleep. But you have to do another briefing."
                CJ sighed and sat up. She was on the couch in her office. A part of her mind was still sleeping though, because it took her a few seconds before she could think enough to ask "Is Josh okay?"
                Sam nodded and smiled. "Heís out of surgery. Heís awake."
                Relief flooded thought CJ. She realised what Sam probably wanted: "go see him, and Iíll look after things here," she said.
                Sam looked back at her with an expression that clearly showed that that was what he was hoping sheíd say.
                "You sure? Toby will be back soon", Sam said, but he was already inching towards the door.
                "Go," CJ insisted. "Iíll be there when I can."
                Sam said "I gave Carol the info you need for the press." And then he was gone.
                CJ smiled. Josh was alright. The president was alright. Everyone was okay.
                But they werenítÖnot really. CJ felt, well, different then she did before the shooting happened. She couldnít define her feelings, but it was like a part of her had been taken away. The part of her that felt safe.
                And her friends- would they be the same? Maybe some would, after some time, those who dealt better with things like this. But Josh, dear Josh, would be different.
                She tried not to think how he would change. Warped from the fear, the horror, the horrible pain the bullet caused him. She wanted the same old Josh. The Josh who called her Claudia Jean at the right moments; who had told Danny she liked goldfish; who made her job harder at times, but who also brightened her day.
                She needed to see him. She needed to confirm he was okay. Alive. She needed to
check he was still the friend she loved.
                CJ got the briefing info from Carol, and went straight to the press room. She carefully got through all she needed to say, but refused to answer questions. She had to get to Josh.
                Someone drove her to the hospital. She didnít trust driving herself. A secret service agent in the hall directed her to the room Josh had been moved to.
                She saw Leo, Sam, and the president standing just outside the door, talking to the doctor.
                "Go in," said Bartlet. "Heís okay." But she had to see it with her own eyes.
                She walked into the room, shutting the door behind her. Josh was lying on the bed, hooked up to several machines. It hurt her so much to see him like that.
                Josh turned his gaze from the T.V which had just finished re-broadcasting her latest press briefing. He looked at CJ and he smiled.
                "Hey Claudia Jean," he said in a voice that wasnít too strong, but was still mischievous. "I was thinking of leaking to the press we have a secret plan to fight illegal arms. I think itíd be fun. Give you something to do."
                She looked back at her friend. "donít you ever do that again." she said. Whether she meant making up plans, or getting shot, neither knew or cared. But then CJ took his hand and kissed his cheek. Inside she felt relief. He would be okay. He was the same, he was still Josh.