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.
Donna Moss' Apartment
"I need to go."
"Should I go back to the office with you before you go to the meeting?" Donna asks from where she's sitting on the edge of the bed, watching me. The sun has almost set and evening shadows move across the walls. I should have been back to work already. Hopefully, no one will even notice I was gone and my 'assistant' was gone with me.
"No. I think you can have the night off," I say. I sit up briefly and reach for her, pulling her to me. She falls into my arms and we both lie here, wrapped up in each other, trying to steal just a few more minutes.
"I don't want the whole night off, Josh. Don't forget that. Don't spend the whole night going over some policy stance with Sam," she says softly, kissing me on my cheek. Her kisses move down my face, across my neck and lower to my chest. She places the last one right over my heart and I pull her back up further on the bed.
"I'm not that nice of a boss. I'll be back to put you to work," I say, holding her close.
"I could use a couple hours of comp time. You have been working me pretty hard lately and I deserve at least a nap. If not a raise," she says, her voice growing quiet even while she's trying to be funny. She's got to be tired after the last few days. She even beat me into work this morning, looking as if a single thing hasn't changed between us over the last few days. Someone has to figure it out sooner or later but until then we'll be fine just like this.
"Maybe I can catch a quick nap during the meeting," I say, kissing her on top of her head. She settles in further and I run my hand down over the material covering her body. My shirt. It does look good on her.
"You will not. These things excite you and you know it."
"Yeah, they do."
"You'll be all wired by the time you come back here. Wired and happy."
"I'd be more happy if I could just stay here..."
"Go do your job, Josh. I'll see you when it's over," Donna says, sitting up out of my arms again.
"You sure you don't want to come? I know I can find something for you to do," I say, moving my hand to the hair that has fallen around her face and running it through my fingers. She brushes my hand away, knowing that if we keep this up, I'll never get out of here.
"I'm going to stay here. Probably take a nap," she says, stifling a yawn.
"You're not going to watch it on TV?"
"Josh, I've sat through most of the prep meetings and helped research several of the answers to possible questions so I think I can take a break from all of you," she says. She takes my hand from her hair and holds it in hers.
"All right. Suit yourself. You might miss seeing me on TV," I say, joking with her. She smiles.
"You and your flock of admirers? I'll pass. Besides, I'd rather see you right where you are now but that will have to wait. But in the end, it's my job to tell you to get your ass out of my bed and get to work or it will look like you really are having a torrid affair with your vivacious assistant," she says, giving me a little shove towards the edge of the bed.
"Yes, Joshua. Torrid."
"Torrid and vivacious. No wonder I don't want to leave," I say, sitting on the edge of the bed and trying to figure out where all my clothes ended up. After jogging and this, I could certainly use a good night's sleep. Or maybe just more of this. I'm torn. Probably more of this.
"You have to go," she says, looking at her clock.
"It looks damn fine on you, but I really need my shirt back," I say, motioning to my blue dress shirt she's got on.
"Okay," she says, standing up by the edge of the bed and unfastening the only button holding it together. She slides it off her shoulders and tosses it to me but continues to stand there, very distracting.
"Donna, you know... could you put something on?" I ask, still unable to move my eyes off of her.
"I'm just reminding you of what you're coming back to," she says. "I thought you had to get going?"
"Yeah. But I want to watch you first," I say, holding my shirt in my hands. It smells like her now. Smells like us. I'll have that with me all night. I just hope no one else notices.
"Pervert," she says, giving me a quick smile before she pulls a shirt over her head.
"You know it," I say, finally leaving the warmth of the bed to get dressed. Now it's her turn to watch me pull on my clothes, her eyes never leaving me once.
"What time do you think you'll be home?" she asks.
Home? Did she really say home? I like the way that sounds.
"Uh, the meeting should be over by ten at the latest. I have to go back to the office and then I'll come right here. If I'm as pumped up as you say I get from these things, maybe we can head back to Piney Hills. I told them we might be back," I say, feeling the key in my pocket. If we don't get back tonight, I still have to get them their key.
"I don't care. Just... do good tonight," she says.
"I'm not the one speaking."
She looks at me and gives me a smile. "I know. But do good tonight and come back to me as fast as you can."
"I plan on it."
George Washington University Hospital
Josh shouldn't be here.
Josh was supposed to be with me tonight. He was supposed to come home all wired and happy and we were supposed to go to Piney Hills again. He was going to stop by the office first then come right back to me as fast as he could.
I keep thinking about the last things we said to each other just to hear Josh's voice in my head. He gave me the night off. He didn't want to leave. He wanted me to watch him on TV. He asked for his shirt. He was planning on coming back.
_Come with me._ That's another thing he said. And I told him I didn't need to be there.
I *should* have been there. I should have gone with him.
Why didn't I go with him?
I hear the door opening yet again. I wipe the tears off my cheeks with the cuff of my sweater. My eyes are so swollen that I can barely focus on Mrs. Landingham as she enters the room. There have been so many people in and out all night. She might have been here before and I didn't notice.
"Any news?" she asks, sitting beside me.
I shake my head.
"No one has come out in a while to give us any kind of progress," I say, looking over at her. I take a deep breath. "I-I don't know if that is good or bad."
"It's a long surgery, Donna," she says matter-of-factly. No one has talked to me since Sam left and that had to be a couple hours ago. I am so glad she is talking to me. I need someone to talk to.
"Twelve to 14 hours," I say, repeating what all the doctors keep saying.
"How long has it been now?"
"I don't know. Maybe three?" I offer. I have lost track of the time. "H-how is the President?"
"Still under anesthesia," she says, then adds with a little smile. "Which is good because otherwise, he'd be bothering the crap out of everyone."
"Yeah," I say, smiling for just a second before it fades. "So would Josh. I mean, if he was...if he was..." I can't finish that sentence.
"He would," she agrees and that makes me feel better. She knows what this is like. She probably felt some of the same things when she found out the President was shot. She takes care of him like I take care of Josh. Maybe she would understand. I look down at my hands and take another deep breath.
"I didn't want to go," I say, exhaling the words.
"You didn't want to go?"
"To the Town Hall meeting. He wanted me to go," I answer, closing my eyes and hearing Josh's voice again. I just start talking--thinking out loud. "He wanted me there. Josh wanted me there and I didn't want to go. I wanted to... I wanted to get some sleep tonight. I wasn't thinking about Josh... I was thinking about me."
"Donna, it's not your fault," she says, cutting me off. I keep talking anyway.
"Maybe if I had gone... maybe if I was there... this... his wouldn't have happened," I stammer, laying my hand over my heart. I stop and look over at her. "Josh would have been... with me."
"This is was a senseless act, Donna. You couldn't have stopped it," Mrs. Landingham says. "They had it all planned out and it wouldn't have mattered who was there and who wasn't there."
"But I've always been there for Josh and tonight I wasn't," I say, shaking my head slowly.
"It's not your fault you weren't there. And Josh was just doing his job tonight. Everyone was," she replies. "They were doing what they wanted to do. What they love to do."
"But I let him go," I say. "How could I let him go tonight?"
"Because you didn't know," Mrs. Landingham says. "Donna, the threat is always there. It always will be. Before this, how many places have you ever worked at that came complete with armed guards lining the hallways?"
"Yet, our people still do their jobs knowing they are threatened by people with small minds. Our people wouldn't be anywhere else. And when this is all over and when the President is better and when Josh is better, they are going to continue to serve the people out there. Even the people who tried to take their lives. And we will continue to let them go and serve. It's what they do best."
"I don't want to let Josh go..." I say, the words getting caught in my throat.
"You won't have to," she replies, squeezing my hand and exchanging a knowing glance with me. "You're stuck with Josh, Donna. He's not going anywhere."
Donna Moss' Apartment
"I dropped my purse out in the living room," Donna says. Her hands run across my chest and I close my eyes, enjoying the feel of her next to me.
"We need your purse to do this?" I ask, knowing exactly why she needs it. I tried all night. She's not going to give in now and I don't want to hear about Dougie again.
"Yes, Josh. We need my purse." She looks around the room before grabbing up a piece of clothes from the floor. It's my shirt.
"Your roommate's not home..."
"One never knows," she says, buttoning just a few of the buttons in the middle and rolling up the sleeves. She unlocks the door and disappears for just a moment before returning with the protection.
Donna crawls back into bed but she doesn't bother to take my shirt off.
"Are you leaving this on?" I ask, tugging at the sleeve. It falls off her shoulder just a little and I must admit there aren't many things sexier than a woman in a man's dress shirt. Especially when they have nothing on underneath.
"I like this shirt, Joshua," she says. "I like you in this shirt. It's a good color for you. I like this color."
"You can have it. Tomorrow. Just... oh, yeah."
"You like that?"
"How much longer until you get into see the doctor?" I ask. I know she mentioned her appointment a few times but the wait... yeah, the wait is killing me. Then there will be even more time afterwards that we'll have to wait. I'm surprised that she wasn't on them already considering the fact she has guys like Curtis sniffing around, tinkering with my chair. Maybe I should have maintenance check it out just to make sure it's safe...
"Not much longer, Josh," she says.
Yeah. Maybe I'm glad she wasn't on anything. Saving it up for me, so to speak. That appeals to my male ego in some irrational way but I don't care.
"What are you smiling about?" she asks, my hands clasping hers.
"I'm just glad I thought of this," I say. "Of us finally getting involved... like this."
"You thought of this? If it were up to you, I'd be Kevin Brooker's assistant right now," she says, closing her eyes.
"But would you be having lunch with Kevin Brooker?" I ask and she looks at me again with darkened eyes.
"He was kind of cute..."
"Donna, we're in bed here."
"If Deanne Lane can drool over you, I can at least imagine that Kevin Brooker is sitting somewhere, drooling over me..."
"I'm just saying..."
She does. After the way today has been going, this is just what I... what we needed. A stolen moment away from it all.
The only sound in the room is our breathing. What's left of the sunlight flickers across her body and I release her other hand, reaching to let her hair loose from the knot she has it pulled up into.
It falls forward against her face, the last bits of light dancing across the blonde strands. It's getting late and I have to go.
"Come with me," I say.
"Come with to the meeting. You know you want to," I say and for a second I think she's going to say yes.
"I don't need to be there, Josh. I'll be here. Waiting for you," she says, moving her hands across my chest.
"I should get back."
"You have a few minutes," she says.
She snuggles into my arms and I'm going to have to keep my jacket on all night because my shirt is now a mess. I don't really care. I'm usually wrinkled by this time of day anyway.
"You didn't say it," I tell her, pulling her closer.
"What you always say when... you know. You didn't even say my name."
"I'm sorry. I promise I'll say it twice later," she says, a smile evident in her voice.
"Just twice? I'll have to see what I can do about that..."
"Stop talking," she says, moving her finger up over my lips. She lets it rest there for a moment before pulling it away.
"Can I say one more thing?"
"Can I tell you I love you?"
"Yeah. You can do that."
"Good. Donna, I love you."
George Washington University Hospital
"Donna, you want to throw some water on your face?" Dr. Bartlet asks. She's sitting beside me. In the background, I hear CJ giving her press conference on the television talking about Josh's condition. Despite everything, she's still doing her job and I wonder if I should be doing the same. Everyone else has gone back to the White House at least once, including Mrs. Landingham.
"You know, I should ask. Is there anything I'm supposed to be doing right now?" I ask Dr. Bartlet. For whatever reason, I feel I should be doing something. Josh would want me handling things.
"No," she replies.
"I mean, anything that Josh's office is supposed to be doing?" I clarify. "Should I be making sure it's farmed out?"
"No, I'm sure it's covered," she says, her voice calm and reassuring. I look down at my hands. "He has the best surgeons working on him."
Josh is in his sixth hour of surgery now. Six more to go. Maybe eight. No one knows for sure. No one is saying much right now. His life is in someone else's hands and I feel so helpless because I'm used to Josh's life being in mine. It's my responsibility to take care of Josh and I don't even understand what it is they are doing to him or why it's taking so long.
"Dr. Bartlet," I say, turning to look at her again.
"Yes, Donna?" she asks politely.
"What is happening to Josh?" I ask, lifting my hands of my lap to gesture with them. I do that when I'm nervous. Up until now, I've been too scared to really ask. But now I want to know. I want to know what they are doing to him.
Dr. Bartlet shifts in her chair, leaning forward so she can rest her elbow on her knee and fold her hands together. I'm sure she's trying to figure out a way to explain this in a way I'll comprehend, not in the way she would discuss it with her colleagues. "Well, the bullet collapsed his lung, as you know, but the real problem is the damage to the pulmonary artery. I asked them about doing a gortex graft to it, but they said they couldn't."
I know I must look confused as I try to remember all the hours I helped my ex-boyfriend study to become a doctor. I try to remember all the anatomy I learned while he went over it again and again late at night but I'm drawing a blank. I never thought I would need to know it. Never thought someone would be trying to explain this to me.
"The pulmonary artery is what carries de-oxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs. With that damage, everything would be denied oxygen because the blood flow couldn't get there to become oxygenated," she continues.
"Everything?" I ask, trying to imagine how it must have felt for Josh. I lay my hand over the same spot on my chest. It must have hurt. I can't even imagine how much it must have hurt.
"Yes," she says, sounding very clinical and very professional yet trying to help me understand as much as she can. "It caused his heart to slow down, which is why they put him on bypass. In order for the surgeon to actually do the repair, the heart needs to be almost empty. And for the heart to be empty, it needs to be stopped for while."
"Wait," I say, holding up my hand. "Josh's heart...they've stopped his heart?"
"They have to. During the operation the blood which is normally circulated through the heart and lungs, can't be circulated through those organs," Dr. Bartlet continues.
"They've stopped Josh's heart?" I say again, unable to get past that.
"It gives the surgeon the best conditions under which to operate," she says, her tone softening a bit. I feel tears start to swell up again. I lay my hand over my mouth and try to stop them, but I can't. I just listened to Josh's heart yesterday. I pressed my ear to his chest and I heard it beating. Racing. For me. It was racing for me and now it's been... stopped.
"Donna?" she asks, her hand on my shoulder.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I stammer, swallowing hard and getting up. I reach down for my purse. I shouldn't be doing this in front of her. I wave my hand in front of my face. "I-I think I am going to splash some water . . ."
Dr. Bartlet stands up and reaches out for me, catching my arm before I can spin around.
"Donna, wait," she says gently. I blink at her, trying hard to hold the tears back. Her eyes move across my face. "Do you want to see Josh?"
"I can see Josh?" I say, shaking my head. I'm not sure what she's saying. I can see Josh? Josh is in surgery. "I'm sorry, I don't understand."
"Would it be... would it help if you could see what they are doing to him?" she explains, her hand moving from my arm to my back. Dr. Bartlet reaches up and smoothes down the ends of my hair. "There's an observation window for the doctors in the back. I can take you there, if you want me to."
"I'll be able to see Josh?" I say, pressing my lips together and folding my arms around myself to keep from shaking. Oh God. I want to see Josh. I just want to see him and know he's still alive and he's still with us. With me.
"Yes," she says, her fingers slipping away from my hair. "If you have your ID with you, you might want to put it on just so they know you're with me."
"Is it okay? I'm not going to be in the way or anything, am I?" I ask, as I reach in my purse for my badge.
"No," she assures me. "And if anyone says anything to you about being there, you just tell them to see me and I'll take care of it. Okay?"
"Okay," I answer shakily.
"Okay," Dr. Bartlet says, wrapping her arm around my shoulders to lead me out of the room.
Continued in part III