TITLE: "Hearts Torn and Reborn"
AUTHOR: Pat Steiner
SUMMARY: The sequel to "Hearts Entwined" [I can supply a copy if anyone
would like to read that first]. The aftermath of the shooting from the POV
of Josh and Donna as he recovers and they deal with the emotional trauma of
the nightmare at the Newseum, along with their newly declared personal
emotions.
DISCLAIMER: The West Wing and its wonderful characters belong to NBC et al;
no copyright infringement is intended.
ARCHIVE: Yes, and thank you for wanting it.

From Part 2--
"Yes it was." Donna was still beaming and her cheeks colored pink.
"Ethan Chrichton. I knew him from school. He went into the Diplomatic Corps
and has been overseas. We've emailed some. Anyway, how he's back in D.C.
and he wants me to have dinner with him. It's going to be great to see him."

"I'm sure it will be," he nodded, looking back down at this Newsweek
magazine.
"Josh what does that mean?" she frowned. "Do you not want me to go?"
"No of course not," he answered, almost too quickly.
"He's someone I knew from a long time ago," she said patiently, "and it's
only dinner to catch up. He's been all over the world. I'll bet he has some
fascinating stories."
"Yeah I'll bet," he muttered, and for the rest of the evening they did
not speak.

"Hearts Torn and Reborn" Part 3--
"I wish you had let me take you to Toby's or Sam's," Donna fretted,
her voice drifting from the bedroom where she was getting ready.
"For the eighty-fifth time I don't need a baby sitter," Josh yelled back.
"I'm perfectly capable of staying alone for a couple hours. What I did want
to do was go back to my place you know."
"That was out of the question entirely," she responded firmly as she
breezed into the living room where he sat. The cream color ankle length
dress clung to her in all the right places and her hair was piled in loose
curls on the top of her head.
"You don't look like that for me," he observed in what could almost be a
pout.
"No I don't usually come to work in a dinner dress," she retorted.
"That's in order to avoid having you and everyone else think my hamster fell
off the wheel permanently."
"You do look beautiful," he sighed, running his hands up her arm until
one hand cupped her cheek. He brought her face to his and their lips had
just touched when the door buzzer sounded.
"Would you hold that thought until later?" she asked, her tone wistful.
In the past week there had been more apathy between them than love expressed.
With a silent nod he released her and she hurried to press the button to
admit Ethan. She had the door open before he could ring her bell and at once
they hugged like old friends.
"Ethan Chrichton, this is Joshua Lyman," she announced as soon as they
stepped apart.
Josh immediately held his hand to their guest. "Glad to meet you Mr.
Chrichton."
"Of course I know who you are Mr. Lyman," Ethan returned, "and it's Ethan
please."
"All right," Josh nodded, making no move to invite the man to call him
Josh.
"Josh has been staying with me since the shooting," she explained.
"Not for much longer," Josh muttered, causing her to send him a quizzical
look.
"Donna we should go. Aquarelle won't hold reservations long," Ethan
spoke up, ignoring Josh's involuntary gasp that Donna was being taken to one
of the nicest places in Georgetown.
"I have my pager and cell phone." She was still frowning at Josh's last
remark and his gasp as well. She reached to give his good hand a squeeze.
"You're going to be OK now, sure?"
"Fine, go," he assured her. "Have a good time."
"We shall yes....oh I need to get something." Her words rushed out and
she ran for the bedroom.
Ethan regarded Josh for a moment. "Hey I'll take good care of her and
bring her home safe, promise." His tone bore a slight hint of amusement as
he read Josh's countenance.
"Yeah make sure of it," Josh answered, and his tone bore no note of
lightness.
"Good night Josh, please go on to bed and I'll be real quiet when I come
in," she was saying as she returned.
"Good night," Josh responded and watched them walk out, not failing to
note Ethan had placed a light arm across her back, the arm which Josh at the
moment had no use of.

It was not until coffee and dessert that the subject of their dinner
conversation turned to Joshua Lyman. "So what's with you and Mr. Lyman?"
Ethan asked casually.
"That's what we're trying to find out," Donna sighed. "I thought we had
it after the shooting, but lately it feels like it's been slipping away from
us."
"It's still there," he said with a small laugh. "It's in his eyes. Eyes
that are the window to the soul as they say."
"I hope so," she sighed again. "We've waited a long time and it was
within our grasp."
"And it hasn't gone anywhere I'm telling you," he insisted. "That man
loves you. You love him don't you?"
"Oh yeah," she answered strongly. "But it doesn't seem like..." Her
words were replaced with a small sob and she rubbed her temples. "I'm
sorry," she gasped. "This is dumb. I'm sharing a beautiful evening and I'm
moaning about something that has nothing to do us."
Ethan patted her hand. "It's OK. A friend is for sharing problems.
Give it some time Pretty Lady. Seeing first hand that kind of terror, and
then the trauma of being shot. He's going through some difficulty now. Is
he seeing someone?"
"He's been told he should do some counseling. He just won't. He can
barely manage the therapy he absolutely has to have if he's ever to get his
arm back full. He won't even talk to me, much less a stranger." She wiped
the last trace of tears from her cheeks and smiled. "Thanks for letting me
dump on you."

Josh lay perfectly still and wide awake, seemingly barely breathing as he
listened for the door. He gave a quiet sigh of relief as soon as he heard it
and steeled himself for the fact that in all likelihood this man would kiss
the woman he loved.
"I had a wonderful time. Thank you for everything," Donna was saying as
she stepped inside.
Ethan took hold of her hands. "As did I. May I call you for lunch next
week?"
"Please yes," she answered and leaned forward to kiss his cheek. "Good
night. Drive safe."
She closed the door behind him and immediately hurried to the bed,
leaning over Josh. "I'm home," she whispered, leaning over and kissing him
lightly. "Missed you."
"I'm glad you're home safe," he murmured, rolling over to the far edge of
the bed to make space for her.
"And I'm glad you're OK," she answered, slipping quickly out of her
clothes and a few minutes later was on her half of the bed. She lay still on
her side for a long time, wishing he would curl up to her back. Finally his
breathing told her he was asleep. She allowed a single tear to escape before
she buried her head in her pillow and let exhaustion claim her.
Now on the ninth day following Josh's release from the hospital she was
running very late for picking him up and she hurried down the long hallway.
She found him in the day room pacing back and forth under the big picture
window.
"Josh I'm so sorry," she greeted him. "I had an appointment and that ran
long and then I didn't stop to call you because I knew I could from the car
and I got out into traffic and the cell phone was dead and I didn't want to
try to find a pay....."
By then he had enveloped her in a large hug, cutting off her breathing
much less her speaking.
"What was that for?" she gasped when she was able.
"I....I was afraid something had happened to you," he stammered,
"especially after...you know."
"Yes I do and I'm so sorry again," she said, "It was just a bad afternoon
all around. Started at work and then this and...." She stopped and her eyes
opened wide. "Josh your arm...it's---there!"
He smiled broadly. "Yep, unwrapped it for good this afternoon. Said it
was strong enough that I can start using it now if I just don't put any
weight on it. I'd forgotten what it was like to wear a shirt I could put my
arm in the sleeve of."
"You look great," she enthused, taking his arm. "We need to hurry. I'm
double parked as usual. And we should go celebrate. Some wine and seafood
maybe?"
He did not answer her as he let her lead him to the car. They drove back
to her place in silence. Once inside the apartment she asked again. "So we
clean up and go for that seafood?"
"No I don't think so, not tonight," he finally answered. "What I really
want to do is gather my things and let you take me back to my place."
That request left her stunned. "Josh there's no hurry on that. I like
having you here and....."
A wave of his hand cut her off. "It's time. With my arm free I can
manage for myself now. I'm cleared to drive so I'll be taking myself to
therapy and on Monday I'm coming back to work part time."
"Oh Josh that's awfully soon," she protested.
"If I don't I may never," he sighed. "As for leaving here, Donna I
appreciate more than I can ever say but it's time for me to start getting my
life back. Those kids with those handguns stole something from me and I need
to find it and get it back. Self-esteem, self-reliance, independence--all of
that was taken. You can understand that can't you?" His eyes were begging
her to do so.
"I guess," she nodded slowly, wanting to help him even now. "Come on
I'll help you get your things together."
"Thanks," he smiled gratefully.
It took but a few minutes to pack the items they had accumulated and the
drive across the city to the Capitol Hill area accomplished including a stop
at the grocery store at her insistence to replenish Josh's supplies.
"You don't really understand what's happening with me here do you?" he
asked abruptly as they were putting away the groceries.
"No I honestly...," she began and looked down from the step stool where
she was stocking the higher cupboard. A sudden wave of dizziness made her
rock on the stool and she lost her balance.
"Hey," he shouted, his arms going around her at once, saving her from
crashing to the linoleum below. "Get down off there now." He held tightly
to her and led her to the nearest chair, lowering her carefully. Moving
quickly he brought her a glass of water and a cold cloth, handing her the
water but wiping her face himself.
The color returned to her face almost at once and she pushed his hand
away. "I'm OK, thanks. Sorry I scared you."
"Yes you did," he shook his head. "What if I hadn't been standing right
there? Now tell me what that was about."
She gave him a vague shrug. "I guess I just got dizzy. I have a
headache and it happens sometimes. I'll be OK in a minute, but thanks for
saving my neck there."
"Just sit there until you're sure you're all right," he told her, kissing
her cheek lightly before returning to putting away the groceries.
Donna pressed the cold cloth to her head and eyes, willing the pain to
cease. An unknown time later she could hear the noise of the TV in the
background and she forced her eyes open. Josh was sitting across from her,
watching a movie.
"Welcome back sleepy," he smiled and knelt beside her chair, touching her
cheek. "You feeling better now?"
"How long have I been asleep?" she frowned.
"Through three inane sitcoms," he answered. "Now how are you?"
"Needing to get home," she sighed, rising slowly.
"Maybe you should stay here," he offered.
It was on the tip of her tongue to accept and she shook her head
resolutely. "No I don't think so. Just let me wake up a minute here."
"Donna you don't understand where I'm coming from here do you?" he spoke
up after a long pause, clicking off the TV.
"Actually Josh no I don't," she admitted. "When you were first hurt, and
I told you I loved you, it was something I felt I had to get said. I was
sure you'd hear me and you did. Then when you told me you loved me
back...well I thought it was something we were going to let grow and..." Her
voice began to quaver and she stopped, determined not to cry.
"I do love you Donna," he said softly, "but I'm not the man you fell in
love with. I can't explain it to you very well. Hell I can't explain it to
myself, but that man was lost that night and I don't know if he can be found."
She nodded and stood up slowly, pulling her arm away from his instinctive
grasp. "I want that man back too. But unlike you I don't think he's gone
very far. He's being kept prisoner by a stranger but he could break away.
Josh please, if not for us, then for yourself--please get some help dealing
with this." With her head high she walked to the door and just before she
slipped out, added quietly, "you're too good a man to let this happen. This
country needs you." In an even quieter voice, just before she closed the
door, "and I need you."
"I need you too," Josh sighed to himself after a long minute, "but I want
to be well and whole again before I let myself love you."

The weekend passed with no further contact between them. Monday morning
Donna reported for work and Josh to his therapy.
"Donna? Donna are you OK?" CJ's voice seemed to be coming at her from a
great distance and with effort she forced herself to look up and focus.
"Are you OK?" CJ demanded, sitting down next to her desk. "I've been
trying to get your attention for forever here. I'm looking for that
information on the Rogers amendment that Sam said you were..." She paused
and looked at Donna closely. "You are sick aren't you? What the hell are
you doing here?"
"I'm fine," Donna gave her a wan smile. "Just another headache that's
all."
"Have you seen the doctor?" CJ demanded sharply. "You've been having way
too many of these for it to be just nothing."
"Yeah I did on Friday," she replied. "But I wasn't having symptoms then
and they ran some tests. Said my blood pressure was a little high that's all
and told me to relax and stay away from salt. I haven't heard from any of
the other tests they did. I just know I don't need this with everything else
that's going on with Josh....." She stopped at that word and drew her breath
in sharply.
"Something you want to talk about?" CJ asked gently.
Donna shook her head adamantly. "No, not really. I took him home Friday
night and I haven't heard from him. He's having a real hard time adjusting
to it all and I don't know how to help him."
"You should not have to do more than love him," CJ said firmly. "If he's
having problems dealing, there's a wealth of professional help out there."
"I know. It's been suggested more than once," she said with a note of
bitterness and the hint of tears. "You know he's coming back to work this
afternoon. I just hope it's not too soon."
"Could be the best thing for him," CJ said thoughtfully. "In any case, I
think if you let him find his own way he'll come back to you. In the
meantime, why don't you come have lunch with Toby and me."
That brought a smile to her face. "I wouldn't think of intruding, but I
like how you say that."
CJ smiled and even blushed slightly. "We're just being real slow with
it, letting it develop."
"I think you're great together," Donna told her. "And thanks anyway but
I have lunch plans. There's a guy I knew from awhile back in town and
we're...well talking and remembering."
"Remembering anything significant?" CJ asked teasingly.
Now it was Donna's turn to blush. "We thought at one time maybe, but it
wasn't meant to be. He's with the Diplomatic Corps and he's been posted
overseas for the past six years. Now he's back here for some training and
then he'll be assigned and why am I boring you with this. Have a good time
and I'll try to do the same."

Two hours later Josh's arrival created the appropriate turmoil and he
stood to accept the greetings and well wishes of his co workers. Finally he
held up his hand. "Thank you all. Thank you very much. It's great to be
back. I'm feeling pretty well thanks. One thing's for sure I'm sick of
resting and I'm sick of therapy and I'm ready to get into trouble around
here. Now everyone get back to work before I'm accused of being a corrupting
influence."
He reached his office and was not surprised to see that Donna was not
there. "Lunch or an errand," he murmured, not realizing he was speaking
aloud.
"Not quite Josh," CJ spoke from somewhere behind him. "I was just coming
to leave you a note--I didn't want to do it on voice mail and have it get
lost among all your messages."
Josh felt the first prickles of alarm tease his spine. "About Donna?"
"She's been taken to the ER at GW, Josh," CJ said quietly.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

Hearts Torn And Reborn - 4

 

 

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