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.
The White House
Damn. I can't believe I pissed off Leo. Again. I didn't even think. Didn't think and just opened my mouth. That always seems to be a problem. I was just trying to tell Hoynes how it's going to be. It was stupid. Just something I said in the moment without even considering it. I know things I say get back to Leo and this time I was just stupid.
I turn into my office to find Zoey and Charlie bickering about something.
"I'm sorry, we were just using your office for a minute," Charlie explains, looking at me instead of Zoey. He probably hoping I'll throw them out so he can get away from whatever this thing might be. That isn't going to happen.
"You can keep fighting in just a second, I just need to find something," I say, skirting past the two of them and whatever issue they might have.
Zoey continues to go on. I think she even called him a chicken. Poor Charlie. If she's anything like her mother, he's in trouble.
Good. Here it is. The report I need...
I hit the floor without even thinking. Some guy named Curtis has my chair, my ass is on the floor and I look like an idiot.
"Hi," she says, looking into my office.
"How you doing?"
"We should get something temporary so that doesn't happen," she says without even cracking a smile. I know she wants to but she does good.
Charlie and Zoey take their argument out the door. Thank God. I've just about had enough today.
"Do you want me to help you up?" Donna asks, offering me her hand and I fight the urge I have to pull her down onto my lap.
"No." Instead of pulling me up, she kneels down and gathers the papers that came down with me.
"I'm sorry. I should have... you need a chair," she says, stating the obvious. She works on smoothing out any bent edges on my report and neither of us seems to be in a hurry to get up.
I look at my watch. Where in the hell has the day gone? Between the prep meetings and the jogging and Leo... worst of all, Leo... I just need to take a break.
"Today has been a bitch, Donna. With the plane and... I screwed up with Leo again. What I really need is lunch," I say, looking at her. She doesn't stop pressing out the papers under her fingers.
"I ordered your lunch, Josh. Before your meeting with the Vice President ... oh," she says, looking up at me. A look of understanding passes over her face and she clears her throat. "I guess we could go out and get something. You do realize you don't have a lot of time?"
"Just as long as you realize it, I'm fine with grabbing something quick. How about in half an hour we get out of here?" I ask and she continues to look at me.
"Is this thing getting in the way of our work?" Donna asks, handing me the report I needed.
"Donna, did you take a break for lunch today?"
"I think you would know..."
"I meant a traditional lunch. You know, with your little container of yogurt and half a tuna fish sandwich. Did you?" I ask. We continue to look at each other and if anyone came in here now, they'd probably wonder what in the hell we're up to sitting on the floor together.
"I didn't have time."
"What time did you get here this morning?"
"When you go and get lunch in half an hour, what time will it be?"
She looks at her watch and then at me again.
"Almost time for dinner," she answers.
"Do you think it's getting in the way of us doing our jobs?" I ask, repeating her question to her.
"A little," she says. She brushes her fingers across my arm for just a second before she stands up. This time, when she offers me her hand, I don't turn her down. She pulls me up and we stand face to face. We are a little too close. I don't know if anyone would suspect anything.
"Yeah. Maybe just a little," I say, taking a step back. "But I still want lunch."
"Josh?" she asks, turning to my desk and straightening out my papers.
"I want it, too. I need it," she says, not looking at me even though I'm watching her. My heart starts pounding in my chest and I couldn't stop it if I tried. "Half an hour. I'll meet you at my place."
She walks around my desk and out of my office.
"Donna!" I call after her and she looks back in.
"I still need a chair."
George Washington University Hospital
"Donna," Dr. Bartlet says, pushing the operating room door back just enough to let me pass. "You can come back now."
I nod and slowly move past her and into the room. It's dark back here, or maybe it's because the lights in the operating room are so bright. All I can see at the moment are the doctors because I'm not standing close enough to actually see inside the window yet.
"I'll leave you alone," She says, laying her hand on my shoulder. She pats it a few times before turning to go.
"Thank you," I say, voice catching in my throat. I can't keep the tears back anymore and I don't care what or how this looks. She nods and leaves quietly so I can be alone. I wait a couple minutes and gather my strength before stepping forward to the glass.
I press my lips together to stop them from trembling. A doctor moves out of the way for just a moment and I briefly see the hole in his chest where they are working. My eyes move over to the machine he is connected to. The one that is breathing for him and pumping the blood for him. It is what is keeping him alive. I move to the side so I can look at his face. I've seen Josh fight for so many things, but never his life. He is so pale and so still and it frightens me.
You have to live.
You have so much you still have to do. Six years, Josh. You still have six years to fight the Senate to pass bills and harass Congress to see things your way. The President can't get reelected without you. There's the campaign finance reform and Senator Paxton and not to mention the harassment policy you need to rewrite. You have to say the wrong things on television and make CJ mad. You have speeches to give and flocks of female admires that annoy me waiting for you.
You have to live.
You have an entire room of people expecting you to pull through this. People who helped build this administration with you. People who share your hopes and your dreams that we can make a difference. You were with them tonight at the Town Hall Meeting because of what you believe in. What you all believe in. They need you, Josh. The President, Leo, Toby, CJ, Sam...and me.
I reach for my ID badge and hold it close.
Me, Josh. You have to live for me.
You have to live for me because I don't know what I'm supposed do without you. My life revolves around you ever since that day three years ago in the campaign office when you hired me. Putting your life in order gave my life order and somewhere in that mess I fell in love with you so you can't go leaving me now.
I need you, Joshua Lyman. And you need me.
I stop walking and instead turn and watch Hoynes jog off with his contingent of security around him. I didn't want to be a part of that. The one thing I appreciate about my job is the fact that I can still be alone. It does allow me to have the ability to do things without anyone knowing.
Like this thing with Donna. Much easier to get away with when no one is following us around. I know it's not something we can keep quiet forever. I know the day will come something will happen and everyone will know. I'm just going to have to believe when they do, they'll understand.
Hoynes turns off in the opposite direction from the one I plan on taking and I start walking back toward the office. I would continue jogging but I'm too damned tired. I really have to get some sleep.
Just not tonight.
I can't believe Hoynes even has to wonder if he would be president. He should know it by now. If he would have listened, he could have had it. I'm just not sure he was ready for it. For one thing, he didn't know who to listen to. Mostly, he didn't know to listen to me.
I can hardly remember the days when Bartlet wasn't ready. Now it seems like this was meant to be. Those early days of doubt are so far gone and replaced with newer doubts. I've come to accept them as an inevitable part of this job. We're always going to wonder if we are doing it right. Always going to wonder if people are going to remember what we've tried to do here.
Even when everyone is telling us we're doing it wrong, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I've been in this city too long to want to do anything else. This is all I wanted in my life. Now, with Donna, I have even more.
All I wish is my dad could have seen this. He'd be so damn happy. He might not be too crazy about me falling in love with my assistant. I can almost hear him -- 'What kind of mishigas is that?' he'd ask before telling me how my grandmother would just die if she knew about Donna and it really wouldn't matter to him that she's already dead.
Then Donna would tell him some long, drawn out story about me and he'd tell her some horrible story about my childhood and that would be it. He'd love her as much as I do and only bitch at me about the assistant part of it in private.
Yeah. He'd like what I've become.
Vice President John Hoynes is the one who has to ask 'what if.' I don't have to. I made the right choice.
Even on the bad days, I wouldn't have it any other way.
George Washington University Hospital Meditation Room
The surgery is almost over and if there are no further complications, Josh is going to pull through. That's what all the doctors say. They are working on closing him up now. I should be happy--I am happy--but I just can't get over how close I came to losing him.
Josh and I live our lives in the moment. Each and every day because we're normally too damn busy to live it any other way. If we hadn't slowed down long enough last week to realize what we mean to each other, Josh might have died tonight without either of us knowing. And if he had died, I would have found comfort in knowing I would have no regrets. We made the right choice last week. I know we did.
I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, especially where men are concerned, but I know this thing with Josh is not. It is not, by any means, an ideal situation. Josh is still my boss and I am still his assistant, despite what we have become. There will be a lot of people to answer to when they find out and we are fooling ourselves if we think they aren't going to find out sooner or later. Even if we make it to the end of the administration, the fact Josh and I were involved at all will certainly damage his credibility.
Of course, when asked, I'm sure Josh will probably have some snappy comeback about sex and politics being an American tradition.
I can't wait to see what he'll say on television about it.
I hear a gentle knock on the door and I quickly wipe the tears out of my eyes.
"Yeah?" I say, sniffing hard and trying to look as together as I can. Well, as together as a woman can look who almost lost the man she loves. If it wasn't obvious tonight, then we probably have nothing to worry about for a little while longer. No one is paying that close attention. Maybe they won't pay attention during Josh's recovery either. With Josh not working, I'm certain he'll need something to keep himself occupied. That something might as well be me.
"The nurses said I'd find you here," Sam says, cautiously entering the room. He shuts the door quietly behind himself.
"I just had to be alone for while," I say, trying to explain why I've been here and not downstairs for the final hour of Josh's surgery. "Is it over?"
"Yeah, it's over," Sam says, relief washing over his face. He sits down beside me, his elbows on his knees and his palms pressed together. "I wanted you to be one of the first to know because... because..."
"You didn't call me?"
"Yeah," Sam admits, staring at a spot on the floor and not at me. "Josh just came out of surgery and he's in recovery right now."
"Yeah?" I ask, wiping more tears out of my eyes. Thank God. Oh, thank God. I fold my hands and bring them to my lips.
"Yeah," he confirms, finally looking over at me. Sam smiles and I smile back.
"Can I see him?" I ask hopefully. "Even if he's not awake?
"The President and Leo are with him right now," Sam replies, pausing before adding. "Actually, he asked for you."
"He asked for me?" I say, breath catching in my chest as I lay my hand over my heart. I don't care how it looks that he asked for me. I'm just so glad he did. None of that really matters anymore. All that matters is Josh is going to be fine.
"Yeah, he did," he says, reaching over and taking my other hand in his. Sam gives it a reassuring squeeze. I stand up and gather up my sweater and purse quickly so I can see Josh.
"I'm sorry," Sam says and I stop long enough to look over at him. "About not calling you. I should have called you. Josh would have wanted me to call you."
"Yeah, he would have," I say, exchanging a knowing glance with Sam. "You can tell him."
"You want me to tell him?" Sam asks, holding the door open for me.
"Do you want me to tell him?"
"No, I'll tell him," Sam decides, then stops to contemplate that for a second before saying, "He's going to be pissed, isn't he?"
The White House
"Curtis?" I ask as we leave the press room. Leo called the President away, shutting down the morning prep quickly.
"He's a friend."
"I figured that much out for myself," I say, taking a sip of my coffee. I'm going to need a lot of caffeine to get through this day. Throw jogging in on top of everything else and it's going to be a long one.
"I do have male friends," she says as she walks to her desk with me following right behind.
"Yeah. I already know about Dougie," I say, my voice low so no one else can hear. "I'm not complaining that you know a guy named Curtis and he now has my chair. I'm just saying that it could have been fixed with a screwdriver. I could have fixed it."
She gives me a look that doesn't hide the doubt she feels about my ability to fix things.
"Why didn't you fix it, then?" she asks, going through the papers on her desk.
"I'd prefer to bitch about it."
"You don't own a screwdriver, do you?"
"Yeah, you own a screwdriver or yeah, you don't?" she ask as she walks away from her desk and back out into the hall. I follow behind her. I don't know what else I'm supposed to do. I have no chair to sit on.
"Yeah. I do. I just... Donna, I don't care about the chair."
"You care about Curtis?" she asks as she stops at another desk and goes through the bin on top of it.
"I-I really don't know," I say.
"You shouldn't. Curtis is five inches shorter than you and he has this . . . this nasty goatee thing," she says, her fingers sweeping across her chin in demonstration.
"You have a problem with goatees?" I ask as we take off again across down the hall.
"Did I mention that he has things pierced?"
"Curtis is just a friend. He fixes things. That's all there is to it," she explains. We end up back at her desk again and she starts sorting through the latest papers she picked up.
"I know. I know. Donna, thanks for getting it fixed," I say and she hands me some papers.
"You're welcome. You know, you could say good morning when you get here."
"What? I thought I told you good morning already today?" I lower my voice and ask.
"I'm just saying when you come to work, you could say good morning,"
"Didn't I say it when I called you and asked you to make that appointment with Hoynes?"
"I'll try to do better tomorrow morning," I say. "Not that I did badly this morning."
The corners of her mouth turn up into a little smile. I shuffle the papers from one arm to the other and put my hand on her shoulder, wanting to say something else.
"Josh!" someone calls from down the hall. Mandy. Probably about the next prep meeting. I pull my hand away before she can get here. If anyone could guess, it would be Mandy. She's seen me in love before. Or in something. I was never quite sure what it was with Mandy.
"In here," I call back without saying where 'here' is, not exactly in a hurry to be found.
"You better get to work before they realize I do everything around here," she says. She doesn't look at me but rather at the stuff on her desk.
Mandy looks around the corner and Donna hands me more papers.
"There you are. Five minutes, Joshua, and I'm going to need you," Mandy says.
"I'll see you later, Josh. And I won't forget about lunch." I look at Mandy to see if she heard but she's too busy looking at her notes. I look back at Donna and she smiles a little. "The boiled chicken?"
"Yeah. Boiled chicken. I'll catch you later," I say, leaving her by her desk and walking down the hall next to Mandy.
"Lunch? Is that they're calling it these days?" she asks, not looking at me.
"Boiled chicken and pasta? Yeah, I still call that lunch," I say, shrugging my shoulders and trying to be as casual as I can.
"Yeah?" I don't want to hear it from her. I just don't.
"I hope you know what you're doing," she says, stopping outside of Sam's office.
"I'm having a high carb lunch..."
"I know what I'm doing, okay?"
"In my experience, you never really knew what you were doing," she says, smiling as if she's actually funny.
"Now I know what I'm doing. And everything will be okay."
"Right," she says, as sarcastic as ever. She steps into Sam's office and drops something off on his desk. I don't care what she says. It will all be okay.
No matter what happens, it just will be.
George Washington University Hospital
"Just a few minutes," the doctor tells me. "That's all. Josh needs to rest."
I nod, just grateful I get these few minutes with Josh.
The doctor holds the door open for me and it takes a lot of willpower not to go rushing in. Instead, I walk slowly towards him, carefully maneuvering around all the monitors and equipment he is hooked up to. He's still on oxygen and I suspect he will be for a very long time until his lung heals. He doesn't look as pale as he did earlier, in fact, he looks good. No. Not good. Amazing. Josh looks amazing.
I can't stand not touching him for one second longer. I lay my hand on his face. It's warm. It's so warm and alive. I slide my fingers down his cheek, feeling the stubble scratch against them. This makes Josh open his eyes a little, but just enough to see me and know I'm here.
"How you doing?" he whispers, his lips forming each word slowly. I think it's the slowest I've ever seen Joshua Lyman move his mouth.
"I'm doing," I say gently, moving that hand up to his hair and smoothing it back. "You need a shave. You're starting to look like Curtis."
Josh closes his eyes and tries to smile. "Maybe I'll grow a...a. . ."
"Nasty goatee?" I finish and he nods before opening his eyes up again.
"Yeah, that's it," he says, swallowing hard. His eyes flutter close again and I know he's going to slip away into unconsciousness any minute now. "Good morning, too... is it morning?"
He remembered. I don't know how, but he remembered. I swallow hard to hold back my tears. Sometimes Josh can be so sweet and so... Josh. No wonder I love him.
"Close enough," I say, still sliding my fingers through his hair. It's going to be a long recovery and I suppose now isn't a good time to inform Josh just how long he's going to be off work. Or how long it's going to be before we can have lunch again. I'll save that for when he's more awake and can really be disappointed. Right now, I'm just so happy he's alive.
"I asked for you," Josh says softly, looking up at me. He struggles to keep his eyes open.
"I know," I reply, leaning in a little closer. "Thank you."
"I was late. Really late."
"You can make it up to me later. With Hawaii," I tease, kissing him gently on the cheek.
"I think you should take me to Hawaii now," Josh sighs. I feel his hand brush against my side and I take it in both of mine.
"I'll take you to Hawaii, Joshua," I say, bringing his hand to my lips. I kiss it softly before holding it against my heart. "But you're still paying for it."
"Okay," he mutters and I know it's the drugs talking. Josh rolls his head to the side and once again closes his eyes. I think he's out this time because he stops moving and his face grows calm with sleep. I wish I could crawl into bed beside him and just hold him, but I can't. There will be plenty of time for that later. Plenty of time now.
I lean over and brush my lips against his, whispering "I love you" even though I know he can't hear me. It doesn't matter that he doesn't hear it. He knows it.
And it will all be okay. We'll be okay.
No matter what happens, it just will be.
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