Title: One by One
Category: Josh/Donna, CJ/Toby
Rating: PG
Summary: "One by one, they realized that the man they had come to call
'friend' was going to die."
Author: StarGazr
E-Mail: StarGazr1152@yahoo.com

Notes: This is sad... well in my opinion it's sad. But I wrote it so I
can't judge it! Someone is going to die... a major character, so if
you're not into that, leave now. J

Disclaimer: These wonderful characters belong to the great Aaron Sorkin
and his team over at NBC. AJ belongs to me, feel free to use her... but
please ask first... I don't need her dying. J

One by One
By, StarGazr

One by one they filed in. A tall, graceful woman stood at the podium
and announced his arrival. He was soaking wet from standing in the
hurricane. One by one, the people who served at the pleasure and
request of this powerful man strode into the room. She stepped down,
took her place beside them, and waited. All they could do was wait.
One by one, they waited. They wanted to scream, they wanted to tell
him to go for it. However, in the end, only he could make the
decision. It was his call. Five of the most powerful people in the
White House collectively held their breath as he began answering
questions. They couldn't hear it; their heartbeats were beating too
loud. The woman knew; she knew he had picked the wrong person.

"Are you going to seek reelection, Mr. President?"

One by one, they waited. The most powerful man in the world rocked on
his heels, put his hands in his pockets and gave the crowd a sad smile.
One by one, their heartbeats quieted. Then he turned to his wife
suddenly. "Abbey?"

"What is it, Jed?"

The most powerful man in the world slumped, "I can't feel me legs,"
came his soft whisper. A collective and anguished cry erupted in the
great room. One by one, they watched him fall into the arms of his
screaming wife. One by one, they ran to him crying for help. One by
one, they realized that they could do nothing to help the man they had
come to call "friend."

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

CJ Cregg sat in a chair with her head in her hands. 'This isn't
happening again," she thought to herself. As if he knew she needed
him, Toby Ziegler took the seat next to her and began rubbing circles
on her back. "Hey... how you holding up?" He whispered.

"Toby... this can't be happening..." she whispered back. "I mean... he can't
be..." she looked up at him with a tear stained face and gasped as
realization hit.

Toby quickly gathered CJ in his arms as she let out a sob. "CJ..." he
said softly. He rubbed her back as she cried in his arms. A few
minutes later, she pulled back and Toby handed her his handkerchief.
"OK?"

CJ nodded and wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry," she told him. He shook his
head and took her hand in his.

"Have you seen anybody?"

"I saw Donna go after Josh. He yelled at her then left when he
realized what he had done. Leo is somewhere. I'm guessing he's with
Abbey. I don't know where Sam is," CJ looked around the small waiting
room that the hospital staff had let them use. "When will we know
anything?"

"Probably not till morning. You want to go home?" He asked.

"No, I want to stay here. You can go home though. You should get
some..."

Toby squeezed her hand. "I'm staying... I'm staying here with you." He
gently guided her head to his shoulder and stroked her hair.

On the muted TV, CNN was running the report. Toby didn't have to hear
it; he knew what they were saying. He didn't need to hear it again.
CJ sat curled up on the chair and he turned to see her in a fitful
sleep. 'This can't be happening...' he thought to himself.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

In the deserted cafeteria, Sam Seaborn sat smoking a cigarette. He had
CNN on and was listening to the latest news... for the fifth time.
'During a press conference following his national address, President
Bartlet collapsed in the arms of the First Lady..." Sam hit the off
button and threw the remote across the room in frustration.

"You could break something that way," a soft voice told him.

"You shouldn't be here. The Grand Jury might think you were in on this
whole scheme. This whole 'plan to get him reelected by putting him in
the hospital.' What a load of shit," he spat. Sam took another drag
of the cigarette and coughed.

Ainsley Hayes took a chair down from his table and sat across from him,
their knees touching. "Give me," she ordered. Sam gave her the half
smoked cigarette. She put it out in the ashtray he had stolen from the
ER staff's smoking lounge. "Have you heard anything?"

"Yeah, he's dying," Sam said bitterly.

Ainsley looked at him as he turned away. "The doctor's don't even know
if he's going to die, Sam. Don't give up hope..."

"Hope? Hope?!" Sam screamed and stood, staring down at Ainsley. "I
lost hope in him when he told me the truth. I lost my faith in him
when he told me he had a debilitating disease that he had concealed
from the American people for the past five years!"

Ainsley sat and watched in silence as Sam paced around the cafeteria in
a rage. He was mumbling to himself. He circled back and his paced
slowed. As he reproached the table he had been sitting at, his
shoulders sagged and his faced crumpled. He sat and Ainsley took his
hands in hers. "Sam..."

"You should... you should leave. You should leave DC tonight," Sam told
her.

"I'm your lawyer, Samuel. I'm here to protect you; not run out on you.
Whether you like it or not, this Republican is in you corner until the
end," Ainsley lifted his chin with her fingers.

He didn't smile at her, but she saw the faintest hint of a fire in his
eyes. Ainsley knew that if President Bartlet lived, the entire White
House senior staff was going to need that fire.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Donna Moss stepped outside and saw that the rain had cleared and the
moon was a sliver in the night sky. 'The rain may be gone, but the
storm is on the horizon,' she thought sadly to herself. Walking around
the hospital, she came to the loading docks and saw two figures; one
sitting with his head in his hands the other standing a short distance
away. Donna walked up to the standing figure. "Hey, Ryan, what are
you doing out here?" She said softly.

"Hi, Donna," he responded. "Mrs. Bartlet asked me to come down here
and keep an eye on him." The secret service agent explained.

"Thank you. I can watch him from here on out," Donna told him. Ryan
tried to protest but Donna held up a hand. "Don't worry, he'll be all
right." He nodded and went back into the hospital.

"I thought I told you to go home," an angry voice said.

"Well," Donna sat down next to him on the loading dock. "When was the
last time I actually listened to anything you told me?"

Josh Lyman turned to her. He took a deep breath. "Oh, God Donna... I'm
so sorry for yelling at you in there."

Donna shook her head and waved her hand. "I know this is hard for you.
Don't beat yourself up over something you said to me..."

"Hey..." Josh looked at her for the first time since he had yelled at
her. "You are so important to me. I had no right to say what I did.
Thank you for staying with me."

Donna scooted closer to him and he laid his arm across her shoulder.
"The doctors won't tell us anything and the First Lady hasn't come
downstairs in over an hour," Donna reported.

"Oh Donna... what are we going to do?" Josh sighed and looked over at
her. Donna had her head hung low. He took her hand in his. "He's
going to be all right. We have to believe that."

"I know," she whispered. A small tear slid down her pale cheek. Josh
shrugged off his jacket and laid it over her shoulders then he drew her
closer to him. "What happens if he..."

"Hoynes becomes President," Josh said answering her unasked question.
"He'll replace us all in a heartbeat. He's wanted us out since he knew
about the MS."

"Does Hoynes think we all knew?" Donna asked, looking up at Josh.

"I don't know. I don't..." Josh looked up into the clouding sky. "A
storm is coming..." he whispered.

"Yeah..." Donna agreed. "Let's go in."

They both stood and walked hand in hand back into the hospital.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Ainsley sat with Donna in a corner quietly talking and drinking coffee.
Sam and Josh were arguing with Toby about a statement they should
release. CJ was silently listening to the two men speak when Leo
walked in. Everyone in the small waiting room stood and stared. Mrs.
Bartlet entered behind him. Her face was tear stained and her posture
was lowered.

"Oh..." Sam whispered.

"He... he wants to see Josh..." Abbey said softly. Josh cocked his head
slightly then nodded. As he followed Abbey out, he turned to Leo.

"Just..." Leo laid a hand on Josh's shoulder. "Just, listen to what he
has to say, OK?"

Josh stared blankly at Leo and nodded. Leo stayed behind with the
group as Abbey led Josh to see the President. "Leo, what's..." Toby
started.

Leo held up a hand and shook his head. "We're not going to do this
right now. Wait till Josh gets back."

"Leo, we've been waiting here for over six hours. Is he OK?" Toby
demanded.

Leo looked at each person that was standing in the small room. His
expression was sad, but serious. Then he stared at Toby, who stared
right back at him. "The President is dying," Leo said in monotone. No
one said a word. No one made a noise. Leo stood in front of them.
"He can't walk and he can barely talk or move in any other way. He had
an attack. The doctors think it may have cause him to have a stroke."

One by one, they sat down. One by one, their worlds fell apart. One
by one, they realized that the man they had come to call "friend" was
going to die.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

"Josh," Abbey stopped him before he could enter the President's room.
Josh turned to her. "He's dying. He's very weak. Don't do what he
asks just to ease his mind and soul. Do it because you want to."

Josh was confused. "All right, Mrs. Bartlet," Josh opened the door and
closed it behind him. In the bed, President Bartlet laid with his eyes
closed. He had an IV in his arm and a heart monitor under his hospital
gown. He turned as he heard Josh moving toward him.

"Joshua..." he whispered and slowly waved for him to sit near the bed.

"Mr. President..." Josh was suddenly very sad. This man whom he deeply
respected was going to leave him. Just like his father had.

"The doctors tell me... they tell me that I'm dying. I asked them if
they realized what would happen when I died... no one knew." Josh
smiled. "I told them that they were going to have another man named
John as President."

"Sir, don't give up yet..." Josh started. Bartlet held up a hand.

"Josh, it's my time. We did a lot of good, while we were in office. I
only wish we could have done more. I want to ask you for a favor."

"OK, sir."

"John Hoynes is going to be President for two years. Josh, in six
years I want you to run for President," Josh jerked his head up but let
Bartlet continue. "Take the gang and go to Connecticut. Set up a
campaign and finish what we started."

"Sir... I'm honored that you think I can do this, but don't you think Leo
would be better?"

"Leo is an old crank and he knows it. Abbey and Leo agree with me that
you couldn't win in two years. Hoynes will win reelection because he's
going to go on a rant about how he's a better man then me and how he
won't treat the American people the way I did. In six years, I want
you to be my true successor." Bartlet laid a hand on Josh's arm. "I
want you all to do that we didn't get to do."

Josh lowered his head and they sat in silence. He took a deep breath
and shuddered as he let it out. Josh looked up as a silent tear rolled
down his cheek. "I would be honored to succeed you, Mr. President."
Josh said quietly.

Jed reached up and patted him on the cheek. "You're father would be so
proud. Oh, and Josh," he added, "don't let Donna get away. You're
going to need a lovely First Lady in a few years." Josh smiled and
ducked his head. Jed began coughing and sighed. "Please, get me
Abbey."

Josh nodded and took his hand. "Good bye," he whispered. Jed nodded
and softly squeezed the younger man's hand. Josh stood and quickly
made his way to the door; his eyes never leaving Bartlet's.

Abbey stood outside waiting. Josh waved her in, closed the door and
stood frozen against the wall. Moments passed before he heard the
anguished cry of the now former First Lady. A secret service agent,
who Josh never saw in the room, suddenly ran out and three more
followed him down the stairs.

Josh got on the elevator and rode down to where the others were
waiting. He walked down the hall and entered the waiting room.
Everyone present looked to the door to see Josh. Leo moved forward but
stopped when he saw Josh's face. "Oh, my God..."

"He's... gone," Josh choked out. Toby and Sam stood in shock, staring
at Josh. Donna's hands flew to her mouth to cover up the painful cry.
CJ felt her knees give out and collapsed onto a chair, burying her face
in her hands. Ainsley, who had only met Bartlet a few times, remained
silent at the table.

"I need to go make phone calls," Leo mumbled and quickly made his way
from the room. Josh collapsed on a couch.

"CJ," Toby whispered, "we need to stop the presses." She nodded and
stood, wiping the tears from her eyes. Toby led her from the room and
motioned for Sam to follow.

"I'm going to go talk to Oliver," Ainsley whispered.

Donna watched her go, then turned to Josh. "Josh he can't be... he can't
be dead."

Josh nodded slowly and looked up at her, his chin in his hands. She
slowly sat down next to him. "I was in there... moments before it
happened. He asked for Abbey... then..." Josh lowered his head and rested
his elbows on his knees.

Donna reached over and rubbed slow circles over his back. Tears slowly
rolled down her cheeks. Josh stood and stalked across the room. Donna
watched him trying not to cry. "What is this?" Josh screamed. "Is
this God's punishment for him not coming forward? Is this a cruel
joke. 'Jed, you did good by telling the people, but you waited to
long... you have to die!' Dammit!"

Donna stood and walked across the room, and laid her arms on his
shoulders. "I'm sorry, Josh," she whispered. Josh nodded and his face
fell into a sob. He leaned forward and buried his face in Donna's
neck. She wrapped her arms around him and his arms pulled her tightly
against his body. They both collapsed onto the couch and Josh sobbed
into her soft hair.

Long moments passed as Donna stroked his back and neck. When he
finally pulled back, Donna saw that his eyes were red and swollen. He
wiped his eyes and took a deep shaky breath. "Where did everyone go?"
He asked.

"CJ, Toby, and Sam went to stop the presses, Ainsley went to Babish,
and Leo went to make phone calls," she whispered.

"We have to find them. It's going to be a long day," Josh took
Donna's hand and led her from the room.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Four Days Later
Josh's apartment

Josh and Donna sat on his couch in silence. Donna wore a simple black
dress while Josh had on a dark gray suit. "President John Hoynes,"
Josh whispered.

"I can't believe he's President," Donna said. "What will happen on
Monday morning?"

"Well," Josh said, "we have to go clean out the offices. Delete files
and such. Leo and I will be on the Hill a lot for the next few weeks."

"Why can't they just let the man rest in peace?"

"I know..." Josh stared at his hands.

"What happened the night he died, Josh? Why did Bartlet want to see
you?" Donna turned and watched him.

"Mrs. Bartlet let me into the room... he looked so tired," Josh
remembered. He held onto Donna's hand as he spoke. "He knows what
Hoynes is going to do to us... he didn't say it, but he knows."

"What else did he say?"

"He... he wants me to take you all to Connecticut."

"What's there for all of us?" Donna asked.

Josh turned and smiled. "My Presidential campaign headquarters," he
laughed sadly. "Bartlet told me that he wants me to be his true
successor in six years."

Donna stared with wide eyes. "Josh... what did you say?"

"Yes... I told him yes," he stared into Donna's sad eyes and smiled.
"Will you come with me?"

"Of course I will. Who else am I going to let keep you organized?"
She smiled for the first time in a few days.

"Donna," Josh turned to her, holding her hands. "Jed said that I
shouldn't let you go. He said I would need a 'lovely First Lady in a
few years.'"

Donna gasped at what he said. "Joshua..."

"Will you marry me, Donna?" Josh whispered. Donna nodded and wrapped
her arms around his neck. They held each other a cried over the man
they had lost and the new life they had found.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Six years later
Lyman for America Headquarters
Greenwich, Connecticut

"Donna hurry!" Josh yelled as he stared at the small child on the
floor.

"Josh, you're supposed to be in the parlor. What's going on in he..."
she stopped in the doorway and gasped.

"Look, Mommy," Josh whispered. "She's walking."

"AJ!" The toddler looked up and smiled, drooling at her mother and
held out her arms. "Come to Mommy, baby girl." She took three steps,
fell to her knees and crawled the rest of the way into Donna's waiting
arms. "You walked! You amazing thing you!"

Josh came over to her and stroked the baby's back. "She's getting so
big, Donna. Little Abigail Jean isn't so little anymore," he
whispered.

"Just think, AJ," Donna said, bouncing her on her hip, "in two months,
you might be the first daughter."

AJ crinkled her nose and held her arms out to Josh. He took the baby
in his arms and headed for the door. "Polls closing on the West Coast
yet?" Josh yelled. AJ laid her head on her father's shoulder and
sucked her thumb. Josh stroked her head and walked out into the large
parlor of his and Donna's home.

"Five minutes," Sam called. He stood with a remote control in one hand
and a cell phone in the other.

CJ came into the room as fast as her growing body could. "Abbey's on
the phone for you," CJ handed him and phone and leaned over to the
baby. "Hey, kiddo. You look so tired," AJ smiled around her thumb and
buried her head farther into Josh's neck.

"You should be sitting," Toby came into the room and put his arm around
CJ's shoulders.

"Just think," CJ put her arm around him, "in two months, you'll be
holding a child like that," she whispered.

"I know," Toby kissed her temple and went over to Leo who was on
another phone.

"Hello, Mrs. Bartlet," Josh said into the phone.

"Will you ever call me Abbey?" She asked.

"No, ma'am."

"I'm so sorry I can't be there. I promise to come out as soon as I
can," Abbey promised.

"I understand, ma'am."

"He would be so proud, Josh. He loved you like a son."

"Thank you, that means a lot."

"Zoey and I are watching. I'll be there soon."

"We all can't wait to see you. Take care," Josh said.

"It's in the bag, Joshua," she said as she hung up.

Josh handed the phone to CJ and went over to Sam and Donna who were by
the TV. "Chief of Staff and First Lady..." He looked over at Toby and
CJ. "Another run at Communications and Press Secretary. This is just
what he wanted," Josh whispered as he lowered the AJ and cradled her to
his chest.

"Yes, Mr. President," Sam joked.

"Here it comes," Donna said in awe. CJ, Toby, and Leo came into the
room.

"The press is outside. Should I let them in?" CJ asked.

"No, this is our moment," Josh insisted.

One by one, they held their breath. One by one, they took one
another's hands. One by one they said a silent prayer to the man who
wanted all this to come true.

Together, they let out a collective cheer.

The End

Thanks for reading... drop me a note! StarGazr1152@yahoo.com

=====
~Lindsay

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
To-morrow will be dying." Robert Herrick

 

 

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