TITLE: Our Two Consciences II: Before & After (1/1)
AUTHOR: Laurel A. (lalden99@yahoo.com)
SPOILERS/RATING: Everything up to, and including, Gone
DISCLAIMER: Nothing you see here is mine; it all
belongs to others (i.e. Aaron Sorkin, NBC, WB, etc.).
ARCHIVE: Anyplace, just let me know.
SUMMARY: Post–Ep for Gone Quiet. Donna contemplates
the Before and After effects of the Cliff Calley
Catastrophe on her rhythm with Josh.
STUFF: Thanks to Michelle for sending me e-mail at
work while she was on the road -- helps keep me sane!
This is part of the Our Two Consciences series by
Michelle H. and myself. To see our fic from last
season (and some groovy stand-alones), check out our
website http://home.att.net/~worstwing/

I usually get along very well with senior citizens.
Really. I just haven't quite been myself lately. Out
of sorts you might say; off my game.

I'm not exactly sure what my "game" is anymore. I
used to be this perky, plucky, mid-western gal, a
novelty in the dark and jaded DC political scene. Now
I am part of that dark and jaded scene.

I guess I always thought of myself as separate from
all that, now I know I'm not. And as much as I would
like to think so, I am not impervious.

I told Josh that he'd sucked me into his life of
white-collar crime. Then I turned right around and
sucked him into mine. And it has changed everything.

The warm comfort I felt at the loyalty Josh had shown
towards me the night we made the "diary drop" was
fleeting. It left me as soon as we went our separate
ways into the night. I was sure I wasn't going to
jail and I was pretty sure my error in judgment wasn't
going to have any repercussions for the
administration. But things had changed, I didn't know
what to think or how to act, it was an awful feeling.

I had made a mistake. Lots of people make mistakes.
And there are certainly worse mistakes to make; it's
not like I was performing open-heart surgery. But
since the Cliff Calley Catastrophe, I haven't felt the

The things I came to count on in my daily existence
are gone. Well, not gone I hope; maybe just on
vacation. I guess everybody needs a little time away.

See? Now I'm quoting Chicago lyrics, I am definitely
not myself.

Yes, yes I am quite familiar with adage about change
being good, and the thing about how in order to grow
you have to accept change and leave things behind.
But there are some things I am just not willing to
give up. I am not willing to give up Josh.

It's not that anyone is asking me to give him up.
It's not even like I _have_ Josh to take or leave.
But a change has definitely taken place between us.
We are not the same and I miss that sameness.

I miss things like when I would have a date, Josh
would say something totally inappropriate, the date
would go badly, and I would be secretly glad to wallow
in the self-pity of it all. It was easier that way.

Easier than admitting my feelings for Josh. Easier
than nursing the hunch that he was starting to have
feelings for me. It was so much simpler to feel sorry
for myself -- half-heartedly dating men I had no real
interest in while secretly longing to get out in the
open what I felt for Josh.

I've started dividing my life into several Before and
After categories. Before and After Dr. Freeride.
Before and After joining the Bartlet for America
campaign. Before and After winning the election.
Before and After the shooting. Before and After
Josh's PTSD. Before and After finding out about the
President's MS.

Now I've added Before and After Cliff Calley.

In my mind, all mixed up in those Before and Afters,
is how Josh and I relate to one another. Every time a
new After comes along there is a period of adjustment.
Things get all "off" for a bit, then we find a way
back into our rhythm, altered slightly because of the
events. But we always find a way back to our
comfortable and comforting pace.

We were just getting used to the After of finding out
about the President's MS; getting back into the swing
of things -- the walk, the talk, the banter. But that
was Before Cliff Calley. Now it's After.

I can feel us adjusting, I think. But not well. I
think we're both re-assessing the situation, doing
some re-thinking about how to relate again. I can
feel us trying to get the rhythm back, to get it just
right. But it's not there yet.

We almost had it today, the emperor almost had a new
groove – ah, that's more like me, bringing the
animated Disney musical references.

I know Josh wanted to tease me today; I just know he
was tempted. A busload of alter kockers kvetching at
me (I can _so_ bring the Yiddish), Park Police
breaking up the melee; it was just the thing that
should have given Josh ammunition for weeks. I was
itching to bring the banter too, but it never quite

I tried. Through a cloud of annoyance, while he was
dictating the "apology letter," I was trying to think
of ways to turn the conversation around. I wanted to
make it something we'd joke about. It even crossed my
mind to bring Josh a steaming cup of Wheatena tomorrow

He wouldn't let me get the banter in edgewise though.
And that hurt.

Time heals all wounds they say. No pain, no gain.
Change is good. They also say it's always darkest
just before the dawn. Just who are They, and what do
They know anyway?

I hope They are right. Because the After of Cliff
Calley is beginning to bring into sharper focus the
things that are most important to me. And maybe
that's the most important change of all.




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