Title: 'Moments' 1/3
Authors: Jori and MoJo
Disclaimer: They don't belong to us. They belong to Aaron Sorkin and NBC et al.
Archive: Sure, just let us know where it's going.
Spoilers: In the Shadow of Two Gunmen I and II and What Kind of Day This Has Been Summary: In the hours leading up to and after the shooting, Josh and Donna reflect on a few moments of their lives and what really matters.
The stories in this series go in this order: Opportunites, Cravings, Escapes and Moments. All can be found at our website: http://www.netroenterprises.com/stateoftheunion/
Authors' Notes: In this story, Josh's timeline goes backwards while Donna's goes forwards.
George Washington University Hospital
Don't ask for her.
Don't ask for her.
Don't ask for her.
I want to ask for her. I *have* to ask for her.
She's waiting for me.
I open my mouth and try to say the words but something completely garbled comes out. Something about a meeting and I don't know what the hell I'm saying. My brain isn't connecting to anything. I can't get out the right words and I can't move and I can't breathe and this goddamn thing is over my face and I-I'm not supposed to be here. I'm supposed to be with Donna. This isn't right. I'm not supposed to be here and I don't know what the hell is happening.
All I know is this hurts. Hurts so bad that my brain can't even comprehend how bad it really hurts.
She's not going to be here. I'm going to die and she'll be right. She won't even know.
Sam. I can hear him but I can't see him. Where in the hell is Sam? I can tell him. He's got to call her. He has to be the one to tell Donna I'm dead. She can't find out on the news. She's waiting for me and I'm not going to show up. She can't find out on the goddamn news.
As if he can read my mind, Sam cries out 'I'm here!' but I still can't see him. I can't see much of anything. Lights overhead going by quickly and I want to just disappear into them. It can't hurt in there... lost in the fluorescent glow overhead. I could... it would be so much easier.
But she's waiting for me. I can't. She's waiting for me and she doesn't know how long she'll be waiting. Might be forever. Someone has to tell her I'm going to die.
I can't. She's waiting and I can't let go.
So much more to do. Not just with her but all these people. We have so much more to do.
Sam is saying something. He's here and he's trying to come up with logical answers to my screwed up statements. Please, Sam. Please know that I don't give a damn about whatever I'm saying. I came and got you. Yeah, Sam, I came and got you and now you have to go get her.
Someone... has to.
The light overhead is so bright. They keep talking but I... it's so bright. So warm and safe. I'll be safe there...
Someone will tell Donna. I just... can't make it.
Donna Moss' Apartment
The sound of keys in the door wakes me. At first, I think it's Josh, but then I remember he doesn't have a key to my apartment. I should probably do something about that.
"Hey," I mutter, slowly turning over from where I fell asleep on the couch. I haven't gotten much sleep over the past few days thanks to Josh. I take a deep breath, stretch onto my back and suddenly realize what time it must be if my roommate is home.
Josh is late.
"Are there any messages?" I ask, wondering if he called. Although, the odds of me sleeping through the sound of a phone ringing are highly unlikely.
"Nope. No messages."
"Okay," I say, sweeping a hand through my tousled hair. I pull the rubber band out of my messy ponytail and put my hair back up in a neater one. I look down at my clothes, the ones I threw on after Josh made me give him his shirt back. I should probably change if we're still going to go to that bed and breakfast tonight.
"I'm surprised you're not with Josh," she comments before disappearing into her bedroom.
"I'm supposed to be," I say, more to myself that to her. I am confused by the time on the kitchen clock. It's almost ten. Ten? I should have heard from Josh by now. He didn't think the Town Hall was going to go on all night. It should have ended a half an hour ago. Maybe it's running late.
I pick up the remote and wave it at the television. Deanne Lane said yesterday that News 4 would be covering it. If I know Josh, he's probably standing there soaking up all the attention from his ever present flock of female admirers.
"Once again if you're just joining us, multiple gunshots were fired at President Bartlet as he was leaving a public event in Rosslyn, Virginia. The shots were fired approximately twenty-two minutes ago from an office building. . ."
I feel the remote slip out of my hand.
"Did I just hear... oh God, Donna..."
No. No, Josh is fine.
Somehow, I'm on my feet. I grab the pink sweater lying on a chair and put it on. Shoes. Have to get my shoes. I race to my bedroom and grab the first pair I see. I look down at my clothes again. They don't match. I don't care.
I keep my eyes glued to the television, expecting to see Josh on it any second now. The cameras are outside George Washington already. Josh is probably fielding questions right now, saying all sorts of things he's not supposed to. Yeah. That's what Josh is doing. Where Josh has to be.
I think my roommate is saying something. I can't hear her.
I grab my coat, my keys and...I'm forgetting something. My ID badge. I pick it up off the coffee table and shove it in my coat pocket. I'll need my badge or else they'll never let me in. Twenty-two minutes ago. I rush outside to my car, pulling my coat on as I go. My hands are shaking. The President was shot twenty-two minutes ago and no one called me. Someone should have called me. Josh should have called me.
Why didn't Josh call me?
The Newseum Rosslyn, Virginia
The wall. If I get to the wall and sit up, I'll be fine. Soon, I'll be able to stand and go see what's happening. I just need a minute. Just a minute to figure out what in the hell happened here.
Damn, it hurts. Whatever it is, it hurts. I slump against the wall and draw in a deep breath. Something gurgles and I know that isn't right. That's... oh damn. I know that taste rising up the back of my throat.
I lean against the wall and the rest of the world begins to fade in and out. People are still screaming and sirens are still blaring but I can't think long enough to figure this all out. All I know is I'm going to be late. Later than I expected. This is going to make me late.
The cement under me is cold. Colder than it should be. I feel... nothing besides that coldness. Nothing but an unexplainable warmth flowing from me and into the cold and I can't stop it. I can't keep the warm in and the cold out. I put my hand to where it's coming from, trying to hold my life in. I can't stop it. It just keeps flowing.
"Donna," I call more out of habit than anything else, but my voice isn't loud enough for it to even be picked up on the wind. I shake my head and try to focus. She's not here. She wouldn't hear me anyway. She didn't want to come with.
Someone's got to be here. All these people. I can hear them. Why can't they hear me?
Oh, hell. I just want to close my eyes. I can't. Can't let myself. Someone . . .
"Sam?" I manage to choke out but no one hears. Someone rushes by and no one seems to be able to hear me. I'm not going to die sitting here by some goddamn wall. I'm going to be late if someone doesn't come help me. "Someone get Sam Seaborn."
No one hears me. "Someone get me a goddamn doctor!" I try.
I try to say something else but I can't. Someone will stop. All these people. Someone has to stop. Just have to hang on a few seconds longer. Sam will come find me. Or CJ. Someone.
From somewhere, I hear a voice calling for me but I can't answer. I open my mouth and close it, knowing that no sound will come out. Everything starts to spin into blackness and I want to lie down. The blackness is pulling my body down.
Toby? Yeah. He's calling but I can't hear what he's saying. The sound of my own blood is rushing through my ears and I can't hear him. I can barely see him. No... I can't see at all anymore.
I have to... I can't stay up.
George Washington University Hospital
There are so many cars blocking the street. I'll never find a spot. They won't let me in to find a spot. They won't let me in. I park on the nearest curb, far away from it all, and just get out. I have to get inside.
I run down the sidewalk, moving around people as fast as I can. The closer I get, the more people there are. I fight and I push my way through them all, keeping my eyes focused on the Emergency Room entrance. The Presidential limousine is still parked there along with several ambulances. Bright lights from the camera trucks are glaring down from above.
All these people are in my way. They don't understand. I *have* to get inside. I work for the President. I work for Josh.
I have to find Josh.
He's somewhere in this mess.
I struggle against the crowd. I reach in my pocket and curl my fingers around my ID badge tightly. It's all I have to show them that I belong inside. I belong inside with Josh.
I finally emerge from the crowd to be stopped by the police line. My eyes go past them frantically to the Secret Service agents hovering by the limousine, searching for a familiar face. I see Ron Butterfield talking to someone. His hand is wrapped in a blood-soaked bandage. Oh God. Was he shot? Were other people shot besides the President? I call out his name and hope he can hear me. He does and he approaches.
"I-I'm Donna Moss," I stammer, pulling out my ID badge to show him. My hand is shaking as I hold it up. He knows me. Ron Butterfield knows me. "I'm Joshua Lyman's assistant. I just got here. I just heard about the President... "
Ron barks something out at the police officers holding back the crowd and they make room for me to come through. Thank God.
"Do you know where Josh is?" I ask, hoping he knows. Ron starts to say something, but presses a hand to his ear and listens.
"Take her inside," Ron says, handing me off to another agent. I feel his hand on my back as he rushes me through the doors. There are so many people in the ER. I scan the faces around me, desperately looking for Josh. The agent who brought me in has disappeared and another two are heading towards me.
Maybe they know where Josh is.
My hands are shaking.
"Have you seen Josh?" I ask them, laying my hands on my chest. Even through my coat, I can feel my heart pounding. "Joshua Lyman. I'm his. . .his...assistant."
But I'm more than that. I'm so much more than that now.
"Come this way," one of them says, not looking me in the eye. He takes me by the arm and leads me down a long corridor, both of us walking as fast as we can. I feel a flutter of relief move through me. He's taking me to where Josh is. Thank God.
I try and catch my breath. More agents are stationed in this area. This must be where they took the President. The agent escorting me stops to talk to another one and I stop too, folding my arms around myself.
"You need to come back here," he says, motioning to a nearby private room. I nod and head towards it. This private room must be where everyone is.
The Newseum Rosslyn, Virginia
The seemingly endless wall of cheering that greets us always makes up for even the worst of days. None of us can help but to smile when this happens and a little rush runs through me every time I hear it.
"Bartlet! Bartlet!" the crowd keeps chanting as we walk out into the path cleared before us.
I check my watch. Damn. I'm already late and there's no way in hell the President is going to pass up a crowd of people calling out to him. He just can't resist it and I must admit it does make me happy to see so many people reaching out to just touch him like he's some movie star and not just another politician. The idea that so many people care sends this surge of what could be nothing but pride through me. I helped make this thing. We all did and that's not a feeling that anyone can take away.
CJ, Sam and I try to keep up as we are pushed forward by the momentum of the crowd and the Agents trying to get us to the car. They ought to know by now he's not going to resist all the people calling out to him.
The President calls for Toby and he edges his way up through the people in front of us to get to him. Probably something about his brother. It's been a damn good afternoon. It started out a little rocky but we pulled through it well. One rescued Air Force pilot and one space shuttle coming back to us. It might be a cheap thing to do say, but that's going to bump us up in the polls. Then this on national television. Oh, yeah. We're going up.
The noise is tremendous and the charge of excitement in the air isn't dying down. Everything we screwed up just doesn't seem to matter. Nothing else matters right now but this moment.
Okay. One other thing matters and I wish she were here.
Maybe Donna watched this on TV tonight. She was tired... so am I... but this was good. Good for all of us. I'm on such a high right now that we can probably still make it to the bed and breakfast and I don't have to worry about falling asleep behind the wheel of the car. Or maybe we'll just stay in. I don't care. I just want to get there.
We get closer to the cars and everything gets more confusing. It always does. The President goes off and does his thing and the Secret Service has to keep up with him.
I just really want to get out of here. Just want to get back to the office so I can get back to Donna. When I left her apartment, I said I wouldn't be late . . .
A shout rises above the rest of the noise. One voice with one word.
The chanting turns into a sudden panicked scream as gunfire cracks through the air, turning the crowd's enthusiasm into unbelievable mayhem.
No one can move fast enough.
No one can get out of the way.
I'm going to be late.
George Washington University Hospital
"I'm sorry. They told me I should come back here?" I say, entering the room as quickly as possible. There's a man standing up and he was talking and I interrupted him. I set my purse down and hold my hand up apologetically. "I'm sorry." My eyes scan the room quickly. Josh isn't here. "Is there word on the President?"
"The President is going to be fine," CJ says, her voice calm as she looks at me.
"Oh, thank God," I sigh, covering my face with my hand. "Oh, thank God. That's the best news I've ever heard."
Sam is here. Sam and Toby and Charlie and CJ...but Josh isn't here.
It's too quiet.
Everyone is staring at me. I can see something in their eyes. Why is everyone staring at me? CJ said the President is going to be fine.
Josh has to be somewhere. He's just not in this room. That's all. He's just not in this room.
"I got here as fast I could," I say, talking so it's not quiet anymore. I move my hands and keep talking because it's too quiet.
Leo. Leo isn't here either.
"I had a hard time getting in..."
Josh is with Leo.
"I had to find an Agent who knew me..."
Josh just isn't here. That's all. He's fine.
"I was shaking---I didn't know anything..."
I'm shaking now. Everyone is still staring at me. Toby is staring at me.
"Donna," he says, cutting me off. "Josh was hit."
I stare at him and everything around me disappears. I hear his words, but they make no sense to me. No sense at all because Josh is fine. He's just. . .he's just not here.
"Hit with what?" I ask because I don't understand.
"He was shot in the chest," Toby says.
"He's in surgery right now," CJ adds.
"I don't understand. I don't understand it," I say, looking at both Toby and CJ. I have no idea what they are saying. Their words have no meaning to me. I can't breathe. I can't think. I stare at Toby again. "Is it serious?"
"Yes, it's critical. The bullet collapsed his lung and damaged a major artery," Toby says. He's talking about... Josh. A bullet hit...Josh.
"I was just saying we can't make you very comfortable here and the procedure is likely to take 12 to 14 hours. We won't know anything until morning," a voice says and it's the last thing I hear.
Josh didn't call me because Josh was shot in the chest.
I can't stand up any longer. I turn around and sit down, hands on my knees. Someone is touching my arm, but I don't feel it.
I feel nothing.
The Newseum Rosslyn, Virginia
I look up at Toby and he does it. Sam's signal. The signal might be stupid but it makes my heart beat just a little faster. Good news. More good news today.
"Leo," I call out and he stops at the bottom of the steps. I do Sam's little flying high hand gesture that was for the other thing but is for this thing since the other thing was resolved.
"What's that?" he asks, starting up the stairs towards where I am. He stops after a few steps and just looks at me, puzzled.
"It's the signal," I say, heading down the stairs to meet him. To explain.
"I thought that was the signal for the other thing?"
"It's the signal for this thing, now."
"When did that happen?" Leo asks.
"It happened just - who cares, Leo? It's the signal for this thing, now."
"So, we're totally out of the woods?"
"Go tell the President," I say, clapping him on the back.
This is good news. As good as the other news from today. Since Toby is involved, it *is* better than the other thing. We're going to be just fine today.
I make my way to the back of the auditorium to watch the end of the meeting. Mandy and CJ should both be happy with the way this turned out. Mandy might have been happier if she actually got to see this even she helped plan but that's just one of her many losses.
I listen to the President, so relaxed with the crowd and think about the first time I heard him speak. I wanted to be anyplace else but there way back then and now I can't even begin to imagine what I would have missed had I never shown up there. Or if I would have gotten up and walked away when he started in on one of his long, drawn out answers. I would have missed the job of a lifetime. A chance to do something for someone I can believe in. A chance to make a difference.
And I would have missed Donna.
Her scent surrounds me even though she is miles away and I breath in deep. Yeah. I really would have missed that.
Charlie struts up to me with a huge, proud smile on his face.
"Did you hear that?" he asks, still unable to contain his grin.
"He used it."
"He used the material I told him about."
Somewhere between the White House and here, Charlie explained what he and Zoey were fighting over in my office earlier. Now I bet he's glad she pushed him into talking. Sometimes, the gentle nudge of a woman is all it takes to make us happy.
"You were right."
"What do you mean?" I ask, turning to look at him.
"It doesn't go away."
"Thank you, everyone. God bless you, and God bless America," the President finishes up and the crowd begins applauding.
Charlie's right. The best parts of this job don't go away. I clap him on the shoulder, knowing that one of the best parts of this job is coming up next. We get to hear how people feel about what we're doing. It's almost better than any numbers from an approval rating. It's instant approval.
"Here we go." With that, I bound down the steps toward the front of the room.
George Washington University Hospital
I hear my name and for just a second I think it's Josh. It makes me look up from the spot on the wall I've been staring at for I don't know how long. But it's not Josh. It's Sam.
"I-I'm going to go back to the office," he says softly. Sam stands in front of me and motions to the door. I glance around the room and realize we're the only two people left here. "I was just wondering if there was anything I could, you know, anything I could..." Sam's voice trails off.
"Yeah, there is," I say, swallowing hard. My voice sounds distant, like it's not even mine. "You could tell me why you didn't call me."
"Excuse me?" Sam asks, leaning in a little bit as if he didn't hear me.
"Why didn't you call me?" I say again, blinking up at him. Sam looks flustered and he reaches up to adjust his tie even looser than what it already is. I take a deep breath and raise my hand off my lap to gesture at him.
"Why didn't I call you?" Sam repeats, smoothing down his tie. He's trying to find the right words or maybe an excuse to give me and I don't want to hear it.
"Why didn't anyone call me?" I continue, changing the question slightly. Inside, I feel something swelling up behind the emptiness because someone should have called me. Someone should have had the common decency to pick up a damn phone and call me. Tears are stinging the back of my throat. This is what I was afraid of. This is just what I was afraid of yesterday. "Josh could have died...he still could die...and no one was going to tell me?"
"Donna, it was..."
"It was what, Sam?" I ask, my eyes searching his. "I'm his. . .his assistant and I deserved a phone call. Josh is my...my..." I stumble on the word. It's not the word I really want to say, but it's the only one I can say to Sam. "...boss and someone should have called me."
"I figured you were watching. I just assumed..." Sam offers like that's a good enough reason. "I'm sorry."
"You're sorry? You're sorry because what? Because everyone forgot about me because I'm just Josh's assistant and that wasn't reason enough?" I say accusingly. My breath catches in my chest. I lay my hand over it, feeling it tighten even more than what it already is.
Sam is quiet as he moves to the empty chair beside me. I turn and face him, keeping my angry eyes on him.
"Donna, I'm sorry because it's Josh," is all he says.
My anger twists inside into something painful. I cover my mouth with my hand and squeeze my eyes tight. Tears rise to the surface and I can't hold them back. I gasp for air and make a choking sound as I start to cry because...it's Josh.
It's Josh and I love him and I don't want him to die.
Continued in part II