Disclaimer: These characters belong to Aaron Sorkin and the other people at NBC. And the song is not mine either.

I'll Be

By Mer

Part 2

(What happens with Josh while Donna is at lunch)

Have you ever had one of those days that started out bad and that only got worse as time went on? Well, I was having one of those days. And then Donna had to go out to lunch with that guy Robbie. Ugh, talk about sending my day down the toilet.

I really didn't like the guy. Donna and I had even had a fight about this. A fight in which I totally screwed up, and she almost quit over it. Okay, I know she threatens to quit as much as I threaten to fire her, but she was serious this last time. I had to offer her a weekend getaway with lover boy, to convince her to stay.

Donna was my assistant, and at times not a very good one. I mean I needed a decoder ring to figure out my schedule, and her filing system, let's not even get me started on that one. But she was really good at keeping my life organized, and she was good at making sure I didn't always put my foot in my mouth.

She was there for me when I was shot. I will be forever grateful that she wasn't there that night. But I have been a complete jerk to her on countless occasions. Any other assistant would've left by now, and I wouldn't have blamed them. I needed Donna in my life, so I guess I had better get better at not pissing her off.

And it's been a rough couple of months for me with trying to deal with PTSD. I had to relive all of the fears and what it was like to almost die. I tried not to pull Donna into that web too much. I needed to go to that place and fight those demons, but she didn't. She had already fought hers, so it was only fair that I fought mine with trained professionals.

I have been better now for a while. I know that I have been a lot happier person. I'm starting to joke more and grin more. I have even tried to limit my outbursts. But everyone still looks at me like I'm going to break sometimes. I think I'm well beyond that stage, I think I broke around Christmas time.

Having said that, I know I have put the pieces back together, or at least the major ones. I know that they were afraid to take me to Chicago. And yes, I am furious about that, but maybe Leo was right in thinking I would be better off here. The last time I was in Chicago I found out that my father had died.

But then again, Donna had been there with me. She was there with me a bunch of times when I needed her. Oh man, how could I have been so blind? Okay, stupid question I know. Why haven't I realized that I'm jealous of Robbie, because I want to be with Donna? Could I really be in her with her?

Speaking of Donna it is almost one. She should be back here any minute glowing about her lunch with lover boy. Just what I need right now, I mean I discover I have feelings for her and she's out to lunch with her boyfriend. I always knew I had perfect timing with women.

Wait, my watch is slow. Damn, I got to go give a press briefing. Where the hell is Donna? I need her because C.J. begged me not to give them any headlines like I did with my last briefing. I need Donna to make sure that I don't do that. Talk about a day getting worse.

I start the press briefing and I give them all the information I have. Which trust me isn't that much. C.J. has been holding her own press conferences about the walkout in Chicago; I'm just stuck with the leftover stuff. So far so good, no front-page material there, but knowing that I'm having a bad day I should be weary.

"Josh, is it true that as a result of the shooting you suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?" A reporter named Aaron asked.

Damn, there goes the bomb I was waiting for and the first question no less. C.J. said no headlines, but how do I not give them one with this? I can't not answer the question because I don't know who Aaron's source is and then I'd look like I was in denial. Oh God, where is Donna? And why did the pressroom get deathly silent?

"Some people choose to deal with traumatic events by constantly talking about them until they have resolved the issue with themselves. Others choose to deal with those same events by getting an intense rage and letting that rage drive them until they think they have found justice. Still, others choose to ignore those same events. They suppress their emotions and try to pretend that they weren't affected by what happened." I began.

Well, they all certainly looked interested. I took a deep breath. Luckily, everyone was waiting to give me time to collect my thoughts. I don't think I could handle an interruption.

"I chose to deal with the shooting the last way. For the first three months or so after the shooting I was concentrated on my physical recovery. My focus was on getting back to work and to my normally hectic schedule. I didn't want to think about that night because I didn't need to be reminded that I almost died. I was already dealing with the aftermath of that night physically, so I forced myself not to think about it." I said, pausing again.

I realized that I was starting to shake a little bit. Oh God, I can't finish this, I can't do this by myself. I looked over at Danny and he gave me a reassuring smile. He also mouthed something like I was doing fine.

"And once I recovered physically, I jumped back into work. I tried to do the same things that I had done before. I still didn't talk about the shooting because I didn't think I needed to anymore. I was back at my job; I was back living my life, why did I need to go back to the night I almost died? It didn't seem that important enough to dwell on.

All my anger an anxiety had begun to boil under the surface without me paying any attention to it. I was almost killed by a hate group, they didn't win that night and I wasn't going to let them win by letting it destroy my life. I was stronger then they were." I said as a tinge of anger filtered through my voice.

Okay, calm down Josh; don't let them write a story about the hate group. I looked at Danny again. He was sitting at the edge of his seat with anticipation. I looked around the room and noticed everyone else was too. I hoped that was a good thing.

"After a while, I began to lash out at people. I was in pain and sub-consciously I felt that everyone else should be to. My friends began to worry about me, but I kept reassuring them that I was fine. I knew that something was wrong, but I was scared of facing it so I lied and told them I was okay.

My friend's eventually figured out that I was falling apart. They forced me to get help and I still was denying that I needed it. It took nearly a day with someone trained in this area to me understand that I had a disease. A disease called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." I said but then I had to stop again.

Aaron's question had essentially been answered but I wasn't quite done. Everyone else knew it to. I silently prayed that they wouldn't make a huge story out of this. But I guess I could live from the fall-out that would ensue.

"All of the feelings I had tried hard to ignore wouldn't let me ignore them anymore. I needed to deal with them, so I got help. I also realized that I had been blaming myself for what happened. I had pushed it aside because I thought that it was something that I had deserved, and by pretending it didn't exist it would go away.

But I couldn't do that anymore. I wasn't the one to blame. It wasn't my fault that I was shot, just like it wasn't Charlie's or the president's. I had tried to rise above that night, but when I did that, I forgot to accept what happened. I forgot to accept that it wasn't my fault, and that it was okay to fail. I had thought about getting shot as a failure on my part because I hadn't gotten out of the way in time." I said with a little laugh at that last line.

I could see everyone in the room nodding. They were smiling too. God, I loved my job. I looked at Aaron and he was flustered. He had wanted to break the story so badly. I could see the urge in his eyes, but my words were slowly killing his desire to hurt me.
"I have been told that many American's suffer from this treatable disease. They suffer because they don't even realize that there is a way out. In order for me to stop my suffering I had to take myself back. I had to force myself to face the fact that I almost died. I almost died and that it wasn't really anyone's fault. I had to let go of all the baggage I was carrying. So, yes Aaron I was diagnosed with PTSD. But I have faced my demons and I have moved on. Next question please." I said with a powerful voice.

I was greeted to a standing ovation. No one was really sure how to move on after that. But they did manage to ask a few more questions; luckily the questions weren't about me. And luckily, they were asking the types of questions that had answers I could give without getting into trouble.

"Josh, wow that was a powerful speech." Danny asked once the briefing was over.

"Thank you." I replied exhausted from what I had just accomplished.

"I'm sorry Josh." Aaron said making his way over to me.

"I'm kind of surprised that this didn't get out sooner." I replied.

"I'm not printing the story I had already written." Aaron stated softly.

"I don't think anyone is going to write about this, unless it is to praise your courage. A lot of people would've ducked the question." Danny said.

"C.J. told me not to make any headlines." I joked and they both laughed.

I walked back to my office and I just collapsed on the couch. I had just survived what could have been a huge disaster. It was too bad that none of my friend's were there to witness it. Not even Donna was there. Damn, I didn't get in trouble and no one was there to watch. Like I'm ever going to be able to pull that off again.

Donna came rushing in a half-hour later. By that time I had moved back to my desk and was preparing to meet Senator Harris. I wasn't really looking forward to it, but I needed to get out of the office. I needed to show that I could function without an assistant. Though I had taken some time to draw a stick figure of Robbie on a notepad with a noose around his neck. I shoved it in a drawer as I saw Donna's figure in the hall.

"Josh." Donna said when she rushed in.

I glanced up at her. I knew that her being nearly two hours late was grounds for being upset. But I decided to let it go. I was going to be the better man this time. Besides, I had taken my anger out on the pad of paper.

"Hey Donna do you know where the file on 512 is? I know it was here this morning." I said with a sigh.

"That's it? I am almost two hours late and all you care about is a stupid file?" Donna asked, annoyed.

"Yeah, my meeting is in fifteen minutes." I replied with a cocky grin.

"You are so impossible!" Donna exclaimed practically yelling at me.

"Um..." I began.

"Here is the stupid file." She said as she practically threw it at me.

"Thanks." I replied still trying to remain upbeat.

"Aren't you even going to ask why I was late? Aren't you even going to yell at me and tell me that my boyfriend is not good enough for me?" Donna screamed.

"No." I replied as I glanced through the file.

"Joshua Lyman, what is the matter with you??" Donna screamed.

Uh oh, Donna was really mad. Now wait a minute, I hadn't even done anything to make her mad. Granted, I didn't reprimand her for being late but I never thought that she would react so angrily to that. I thought I was being the good guy. But apparently I wasn't supposed to be the good guy.

"Why were you late Donna?" I finally asked.

"Like I should tell you." Donna muttered.

"I didn't ask because I didn't want to get in a fight over it." I said calmly.

"Were you even the least bit annoyed that I wasn't here?" Donna asked.

"I wished you had been at the briefing." I said quietly.

"Oh really. What secret plan does President Bartlett have now?" Donna quipped.

"Like I should tell you." I replied with a huge grin. God, I love using her words against her.

"You are impossible, you know that?" Donna stated, as the anger was gone from her voice.

"So you tell me." I replied and winked at her, to which Donna stuck her tongue out at me.

"He asked me to move to Germany. I mean come on, like you'd really let me leave the country. Kind of hard to be your assistant from Germany." Donna stated with a twinkle in her eyes.

What? That jerk asked her to move out of the country with him? I'm gonna kill him. That's it lover boy's going down. I knew my thoughts were being expressed across my face when Donna started laughing.

"Calm down boy. I told him no." She laughed.

My day just kept getting worse. Donna was hiding something from me. I could see it written on her face. She may not have accepted a move to Germany, but she may have accepted a move elsewhere. If she did, Robbie's dead. I couldn't lose the woman I love to him.

"Don't you have a meeting to go to?" Donna asked sweetly, to which I grunted. Yup, this is definitely a bad day.

I'll Be - 3



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