Title: Our Two Consciences: Trust
Author: Michelle H.
Feedback: michelle@propertykey.com
Category: General J/D
Spoilers: Up to and including The Falls Gonna Kill You
Summary: Josh's POV after the events of The Falls Gonna Kill You.
Corresponds with Laurel A's Chicken Little.
Thanks: Laurel.
Rating: PG

"I gotta trust somebody right now," I'd told Toby.

One week ago the only thing I was worried about was saying yet another
inappropriate remark to my assistant. In retrospect, it seems so

Now I worry about so much more. I worry about who I can trust. I also
worry about those they tell me I can't. Not yet.

Part of me wants to drag Donna into my office and spell it out for her.
The president is sick. He lied to us. We weren't even aware of it, but
we lied to the American public. At a time when most administrations are
thinking about reelection, we're thinking about saving our asses, not to
mention saving face.

After all, Donna and I share everything with one another. Information,
jokes, pain, french fries. She should be here, with me, worrying.

But the other part of me is glad; glad that someone gave her that stupid
fax about the Chinese satellite. It gave her something to focus on, so
she didn't see the haunted, guilty look on my face or the beaten look on

I just want to protect her.

And it's not really my story to tell, after all.

But I love her. I don't want her to hurt. And she is so easily hurt by
those she trusts; even small words can be like knives to her. I just
want her to be na´ve and blessedly unaware for another 24 hours.

Of course, not telling her is as criminal as telling her, now. She'll
hate me for not telling her. She's like an appendage of mine, more, of
course, than an arm or a leg; but she's a part of me, and not telling
her is like cutting off the blood supply.

Our trust is broken.

Trust—-years ago, it was so easy for me to do. I was young and
idealistic and full of so much piss and vinegar, as my father used to

But then, my dad passed away. The man I'd thought would live forever
quietly slipped away from this world. It took me a long time, but when
I'd finally accepted it, I was shot by a crazy kid, some white
supremacist kid who couldn't stand the idea of the President's daughter
dating an African-American. It was just a coincidence that he almost
killed a Jew. Now, almost a year later, I feel like I'm finally coming
back. I'm alive again.

And now this.

When I was told, I felt as if the scar on my chest was ripped open.
Piece by piece by piece, my world was shattered all over again. My life
dissolved into tiny red, white and blue fractals.

The president, Leo, Toby. The three men I trust the most. They're like
fathers to me, or brothers.

And they lied.

Why I think I should be able to trust Joey Lucas when they tell me I
can't even tell my Donnatella is criminal.

It seems now that there's a crime in every action, each crime breeding
another one, and another; I can feel them fall around me, on top of
themselves, like dominoes.

But I want to shield Donna from all of this, it's all sinister and dirty
and bad. I don't want her to have to talk to Babbish, or sit before a
Grand Jury.

She shouldn't go down for this.

So I protect her; instead of bringing her down, I let her run around
making a fool of herself like Chicken Little. It certainly beats the
alternative; I don't want to see her sad, nothing's worse than that.

I bring Joey down with me instead. It's a sad casualty if she gets
destroyed in the process. She knows the price, she agreed to pay. And
while I did care about her, long ago, now she's just another casualty.
Just another one of us, a friend of the administration, nothing more.
She's been replaced in my heart by a white light, an angel of idealism.

Now I wonder if that will be our legacy when all of this is over:

Casualties of a casual lie, nothing more, to be replaced by a conqueror,
a person who paints themselves as an idealist by turning lies against
the liars.

And I've got to wonder what's wrong with that picture, why we're the
conquered, and not the conquerors.

We're supposed to be the good guys.

While part of me says that I don't want to bring Donna down with me, the
other part wonders what I'll do without her when I'm gone. I want to
take her with me, in whatever capacity she'll agree to—-if not as my
lover, than maybe as my tireless, efficient, and occasionally irksome

Definitely my best friend.

I walk on the tip of this blade, and it's a hellish catch-22. I go over
the pros and cons, the truths and consequences, and I realize that I
really don't want to tell her anything, but that's only because I wish I
didn't have to.

I wouldn't have to break Donnatella's trust if Bartlet hadn't broken
mine in the first place.

But he's not all bad, either.

He's a good man and the real thing and I'm an idealist underneath it
all; maybe this will be like so many satellites hurtling out of control,
on a certain-death collision course.

They seem terrifying until they burn up into nothingness when they hit
the atmosphere.

What I wouldn't do for some of Donnatella's idealism now.



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