Disclaimer: These characters belong to Aaron Sorkin and the other people at NBC.

Bargaining Chips

By Mer

Part 13

(Josh's Hospital Room-five minutes later)

Sam went in and sat down in a chair next to Josh's bed. He had to admit that his best friend looked like he had just gotten the crap beaten out of him. Josh was swollen and puffy all over. Sam was a little worried about the marks on Josh's swollen eyelids, but he shoved that thought aside. It wouldn't matter if Josh had scars; it only mattered if Josh lived.

Sam listened to Josh's labored breathing. He could only imagine how much pain Josh was in. It amazed him that Josh was still fighting to survive. He had kind of tuned out when Abbey began to explain everything that was either bruised or broken in Josh, but by the length of the list he knew that it must be pretty bad.

Sam surveyed the room and found the same types of machines that had been in Josh's room last time. Sam grimaced at that thought though. There shouldn't have had to of been a last time, just as there shouldn't have had to been a this time.

"Keep hanging in there buddy. We all need you okay. Please don't give up." Sam begged softly.

He gently picked up Josh's left hand. It didn't appear to be bruised but he held it gingerly anyway. He tried to think of what Donna would say if she had been allowed to come visit. Sam smiled a little at that thought.

"Josh you got this perfect woman waiting for you. I know that you told her that you love her. And the crazy thing is I know that you actually meant it. I mean I know that you have loved her for a long time. She needs you Josh. She needs you to stay strong, to keep fighting." Sam urged.

Sam had been told that he had only been allowed a few minutes, and he had a feeling that they were almost up. But he wasn't ready to leave his friend yet. He still had some more perils of wisdom to share.

"Everyone has been wondering when the two of you were going to realize that you were meant for one another. I mean come on she is the only woman who would put up with you. If I were your assistant I know that I probably would have quit by now, but thankfully I'm not and Donna is. She needs you. You can't just tell her that you love her and then leave her." Sam scolded.

He looked up at Josh's face in anticipation, but he saw no signs that his friend had even heard him. Sam knew that his time definitely was almost up, but he didn't care. He still had some things to say.

"You know when I asked if you wanted to sue the hate groups? You said no because the lawsuit would be too small, well I never told you how much I admired you for that. I never told you how much I value your friendship. I value everything about you, even if you can be downright frustrating. Like blaming me for things that we both should have taken credit for screwing up. I want you to know that I value you and I need you in my life as my best friend. So please keep up the good fight. And please, please, let me hear you blame me for something again. Please, Josh." Sam pleaded.

(Sam's Hotel Room-Same time)

"Josh I'm here for you. Wait, how did I get here? What happened to Josh? I got to get back to the hospital." Donna cried as she woke up from a nightmare.

"Shhh. You're okay." Zoey soothed as she comforted Donna.

"I remember now. Where is Sam?" Donna asked softly.

"He went back to the hospital. Mom told me to come here, in case you woke up scared. Charlie is right next door if we need him too." Zoey stated softly.

"No, I'll be fine. I just wish I could be there for him." Donna replied quietly.

"He's out of surgery." Zoey stated gently.

"Is he going to be okay?" Donna asked hopefully.

"They don't know." Zoey replied gently.

"I knew it was bad before I left but I thought he was okay. They must have beaten him some more." Donna sobbed.

"It's okay, this wasn't your fault. Donna, you have to stop blaming yourself." Zoey soothed.

"He told me that he loves me, I mean can you believe that he's getting the crap beat out of him and he tells me that he loves me." Donna said, pausing a moment to smile through her tears.

"He finally wised up huh?" Zoey teased.

"What do you mean?" Donna asked slowly.

"I think he's been in love with you for a long time. The way he looks at you, the way he talks about you, it's almost too obvious. He told me once that he never would've recovered from his PTSD if it hadn't of been for you. He was so lost that he had thought about ending his life. But he knew that he would only hurt you, so he punched a window instead." Zoey commented softly.

"Oh man." Donna sobbed harder.

"I didn't mean..." Zoey began.

"It's just that I always thought that if I told him how I felt that he would reject me. I didn't know that he really thought that way about me." Donna replied.

"I know, I know. He told you that he loved you because he was finally ready for you to hear it." Zoey said as she ran her fingers through Donna's hair.

"I love him too." Donna finally managed to say.

"Yeah, I've known that to." Zoey replied softly.

"I just wish that I could've told him." Donna sobbed.

"I think he knows." Zoey stated gently.

"I still wish that I could've told him myself." Donna said wistfully.

"You still have time to tell him. He's still fighting." Zoey comforted though she wasn't absolutely sure that was true.

"Do you think they'll let me go see him?" Donna asked as she wiped some tears away.

"I don't know. Mom's pretty worried about you." Zoey replied.

"I'm better now." Donna lied.

"I'm not really sure that's a good idea." Zoey began.

"Please. I promise not to freak out." Donna begged.

"I can't say that even I could make that promise. If it were Charlie I know I would be freaking out. I mean I freaked out after the shooting and all but that was because it was my father. Charlie's different." Zoey replied.

"You understand my pain then. Zoey, you have to help me, so please get me to the hospital. Please let me tell him." Donna begged.

"Okay, I can get you there but I don't know if we will get past my mom." Zoey warned.

"I'll beg her." Donna pleaded.

"Okay. I better not get grounded for this." Zoey joked.

"You can have your dad pardon you." Donna joked back and Zoey knew that Donna was ready.

"True." Zoey smiled.

(Josh's Hospital Room-ten minutes later)

Leo had replaced Sam in the chair next to Josh's bedside. Sam had reluctantly given up his spot at Josh's side. The two of them shared a look, and to Leo it seemed that Sam understood everyone wanted to at least be able to say good-bye to Josh.

Leo picked up Josh's hand and he held it. He looked around at the machines that were helping to assure that Josh was still alive. Josh shouldn't have had to endure this. He shouldn't be here.

"Josh, I know that you can probably hear me. I bet that you're pretty scared. I don't blame you man, I'm scared too. I'm sorry that we didn't find you sooner, and that's my fault. I wouldn't let them because I didn't think it was best that we gave in to the terrorists. But I was wrong, Josh I was so wrong." Leo's voice cracked.

Leo thought about the press conference and about the lies that he had deliberately told. A picture in a newspaper showed the look on his face when he got caught up in that lie. It was a look that would be forever etched in his memory. And something he had said after the press conference still haunted him.

"I told President Bartlet that I would rather have a pissed off Josh than a dead one. Can you believe me? I can't believe I could justify myself like that. I know you probably don't know this, but I lied about you in a press conference. I said that you were just feeling under the weather. I lied and the press caught me up in that lie almost immediately. And at that instant I didn't care about anything except getting something to drink. I got so totally drunk last night that it wasn't funny. I became mean and cruel. I said a lot of horrible things, because I thought that I had just gotten you killed. And it looks like I might have." Leo stated softly, his eyes threatening to fill with tears.

(Somewhere else in the city-same time)

"Okay so they are finally saying that we escaped, and that damn Jew is out of surgery." Abdul said bitterly.

"I thought you went to form a plan." Armand asked innocently.

"I tried but I'm not sure what to do anymore. I just wish that Rashad had been able to finish him off. But no now he's taunting us even more. I mean they even named the freaking peace talks after him. The whole city wants to kill us." Abdul replied.

"Isn't that what we wanted?" Rashad asked.

"We wanted to kill the whole city, not the other way around. Most of our other members are afraid to come out of the woodwork because they know that they might be followed and then they would be leading the authorities straight to us." Abdul snapped.

"So are we just going to give up?" Armand asked.

"No, we just have to get craftier. I already sent another message to the Americans." Abdul laughed evilly.

"What did you say?" Rashad asked.

"That if they didn't stop the peace talks that someone else would die." Abdul replied.

"And just who are we going to kill now?" Armand asked.

"I'm still working on that one. But just let them think that we are ready to attack them again, and I'm sure they will follow our every command." Abdul smiled.


Bargaining Chips - 14




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