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"Aftershocks" By Cindy

The West Wing
"Aftershocks"

By Cindy Brewer cindybre74@aol.com


Deputy Chief of staff Josh Lyman poked his head out of his office. "Hey Donna, you hungry?"

Donna Moss looked up from her desk in the communications bullpen. "Josh, it's after nine."

Josh grinned as he walked toward her. "So what's your point?"

"Most people eat dinner between five and seven."Donna replied as she stood.

Josh sat on the corner of her desk. "So you're saying you're not hungry?"

"I didn't say that."

"So have dinner with me."Josh replied as he lightly caught her right arm. "I'll even let you pick the type of food."

Donna froze as she turned to face her boss not sure if he was asking her as a boss or as a friend or as a potential date. As she saw his smile Donna couldn't help but think that they had almost lost him to a sniper.

"Donna?"Josh prompted as he saw a shadow of sadness cross her face.

Donna smiled as she touched his shoulder. "Dinner's fine, Joshua. Just let me get my coat."

********

"Damn."Josh swore just as they stepped into the parking lot.

"What?"Donna asked as she turned to face him.

"Forgot, my car's in the shop."Lyman replied as he absently glanced back at the White House.

Donna dug out her car keys. "No problem, I'll drive."

Josh grinned. "Donna, your car couldn't make it to the main gate."

Donna glowered at him slightly. "It makes it to here and back home every day just fine, Joshua."She replied as she turned and began walking toward her small green sedan.

Josh started after her. "Donna, I'm sure there's a car we can take."

Donna paused near the driver's door. "Joshua, I'd like to get home by one since I have to be back here at six. If we take the car you'll have to take me back here and then I'll have to drive home."

Josh began to close the space between them. "Donna, I'll drop you off."

Donna took a step. "Josh....."She broke off as three sharp popping sounds split the air.

Josh instantly ducked into a crouching position and watched in horror as Donna fell to the ground. This couldn't be happening again....not again.....please not again.
Josh tried to get to a standing position but his body wouldn't obey his commands. He looked franticly over at Donna.....why wasn't she moving?

"Donna!!"Josh shouted as he finally got his feet to move. Where the hell was the Secret Service?

When he finally reached her side Josh fell to his knees next to her. He didn't see any blood but she wasn't moving.....Josh had never seen Donna this still and it scared him more than anything.

With shaking hands Josh felt for her pulse.....he sent off a silent prayer of thanks when he found one. Josh reached inside his suit coat pocket for his cell phone and it was only then that he realized that he had left it inside on his desk.

"You'll be okay, Donnatella."Josh stated softly as he reached over her for her purse. "I promise."

Just as Josh found Donna's phone and started to dial 911 Charlie entered the parking lot and instantly ran to their side.

"Josh, what happened?"Charlie asked anxiously as he looked at Donna's still form.

Josh met his friend's gaze but didn't reply as he listened to the 911 operator. He answered another question before collapsing the small phone.

"I-I think she was shot."Josh replied in a choked whisper as he sat next to Donna and gently pulled her into his lap not caring who saw. "But there's no blood.....she's not waking up....."

Charlie moved over so he was kneeling next to Josh and he placed a supportive hand on his shoulder. "She'll be okay, Josh. Did you see anybody?"

Josh shook his head. "No."He replied shakily. "We were just talking....there were sounds.....then she fell...."

Charlie stood as he heard sirens approaching. "The paramedics are on their way, Josh. I'm going to go tell Mr. Mcgarry what happened......you okay by yourself?"

Josh nodded not looking away from Donna. "I'm not by myself."He replied quietly just as the ambulance screeched to a stop.

********

"Josh, I'm fine."Donna replied for what seemed to be the millionth time as they walked up to her apartment several hours later.

Josh took her keys from her and quickly stepped in front to open the door. "Humor me, let me take care of you."

Donna sighed as she followed him into the apartment. Josh had been hovering since they left the emergency room, not that she blamed him after what he had been through the last couple months.

"Josh, I just have a slight concussion from when I hit my head. The whole thing is stupid."Donna replied as she sank wearily onto the couch still not believing that a car backfiring made her jump enough that she tripped over her own feet and smacked her head against the car.

"You were hurt, Donnatella."Josh replied as he tenderly covered her with a blue afghan. "There's nothing stupid about that."

"I tripped over my own feet, Joshua."Donna stated as she leaned her head against the back of the sofa closing her eyes. "And thanks to the paramedics and the Secret Service the whole staff will know about it tomorrow."

"I don't care."Josh replied as he sat down next to her.

Donna opened her eyes. "I have to work with these people every day, Joshua."

"I'll talk with them."

"Josh....."

Josh reached over and gently caressed her right cheek as he met her gaze he realized how close he came to never seeing those beautiful blue eyes again. Even if it had been just a car backfiring.....it could've been a real gun......

Donna caught his hand and held it tightly in hers as she saw the dark emotions cross his face. "Joshua, I'm okay."

Josh swallowed hard. "You could've been....."

"Josh,"Donna replied gently. "It wasn't a gun."

"It could've been."

"It wasn't. I'm okay."

"I could've lost you, Donnatella."Josh whispered.

Donna felt tears start to form but she didn't bother to blink them away. The emotions she saw in Josh's eyes told her more than his words ever could.

"I'm not going anywhere, Joshua."Donna replied softly as she leaned forward and curled up against his chest.

end