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"Dreams and Promises" pt.1/2 By Cindy

"Dreams and Promises"

By Cindy cindybre74@aol.com

summary: Donna leaves town without a word can Josh find her?

Donna Moss zipped up her small blue suitcase and set it on the floor next to her bed. She walked out into the living room and glanced around her apartment one last time. Donna was grateful that her roommate Sarah was out of town for the week. It had given her a chance to pack things
up without any tense confrontations. Those were the last things Donna needed right now. So far she'd been successful at avoiding everybody.

Josh had been with the President on the trip to the African summit that week so it'd been easy for her to call in sick. At the thought of Josh fresh tears sprang to Donna's eyes.....They had been dancing around the
thing between them for the past three and a half years. Now with less than three months together as a couple Donna was forced to break the heart of the only man she'd ever truly loved.
Donna hastily wiped the tears away and stepped back into her bedroom.
She picked up the suitcase and shut off the light before retracing her steps to the living room.

Donna left her keys and a note for Sarah on the kitchen counter. The sun was barely coloring the Washington horizon but knew she had to leave now to beat the morning rush hour. With luck she'd be well on her way to her destination before anybody knew she was gone.

************

Josh Lyman stumbled into the West Wing two days later amazed that he seemed to be the only one from the Africa trip affected by jetlag. He passed CJ's office and glowered at her way too cheerful 'Good morning'.
The Deputy Chief of Staff walked through the communications bull pen and was almost out of it and in his office before it sank in that somebody besides Donna was sitting at her desk.

"Where's Donna?"Josh demanded as he approached the twenty year old red haired man with green eyes and wire rimmed glasses.

"Who?"

"The woman who's desk you're sitting at."Josh replied starting to get worried. Donna rarely if ever called in sick.

"I don't know."The youth replied as he turned the chair so he could kick his feet up on the desk. "I just got a way too early phone call from the temp agency saying to report to the White House. Is there any coffee around here?"

Josh glared at him missing Donna every second. "I believe that falls under your job description. Feet off the desk."He replied as he turned and walked out of the bull pen hoping that Sam was in by now.

Sam glanced up from his laptop as Josh walked through his open office door. "How was Africa?"

"Busy and hot."Josh replied as he slumped down into one of the chairs. "Have you seen Donna?"

"Today?"

"I'd settle for recently."

"Lose your assistant?"

Josh leaned forward. "I'm worried, Sam. She never calls in sick."

"Have you called her at home?"

Josh shook his head. "Just got in haven't had a chance yet."

Sam frowned in thought. "You know come to think of it I haven't seen her much this week."

The worry Josh was feeling earlier began to form into cold fear. "She hasn't been here all week?"

Sam looked at him strangely. "You didn't touch base with Donna at all while you were gone?"

Josh rubbed a hand over the back of his neck. "You know what it's like at a summit, Sam. Everything's crazy and hectic by the time you remember to sleep it's time to do it all over again. I meant to call her but I just never got a chance."

"Wish I could help, Josh, but I haven't seen her."Sam replied. "Why don't you talk to Cathy or Margaret? They'll know more than anybody."

Josh stood. "Yeah."

"I'm sure it's just the flu or something."Sam assured his friend before turning his attention back to the speech on his laptop.

*********

Josh stepped into his office and quickly picked up his phone and dialed a familiar number. He swore silently as the answering machine picked up.

"Donnatella, it's me....if you're there pick up.......okay, you're probably asleep or in the shower. I'll come by as soon as I can.....hope you feel better.....I love you."

It was only as he hung up the phone that Josh glanced at the schedule the temp from beach bum school had scratched out.

Josh picked up the paper and held it up to the light. "And I thought Donna's handwriting was illegible."

He either had a meeting with Toby in an hour or he was five minutes late.
Josh decided on the later and pocketed his schedule and moved quickly for Toby's office.


***********

Twenty minutes before Toby and Josh were due to complete their meeting Leo McGarry tapped on Toby's door.

"There's going to be a meeting in the Oval in ten minutes."Leo reported skipping any pleasantries. It'd been a hell of a day already and showed no signs of getting better.

Josh frowned. "What's going on?"

Leo stepped in and shut the door behind him. "American cruise ship was sunk off the coast of England."
"Was sunk?"Toby asked trying to recall how many people a modern cruise ship could hold.

"Scuttled."Leo confirmed grimly. "Coast Guard was only able to rescue a hundred survivors."

"A hundred?"Josh repeated shocked knowing that was a tenth of what a ship that big carried no matter what the time of the year.

Leo nodded sadly before opening the door. "Oval, ten minutes."He reaffirmed before leaving the office.

********

For Josh the rest of the day was spent dealing with the cruise ship disaster. His original plan to check on Donna at lunch became checking on her during a late dinner break.

In between meetings with CJ to keep the press from treating this as the next Titanic Josh was burning up the phone lines. All his calls to Donna's apartment went unanswered which caused his fear to skyrocket. Even her Super wasn't there.

By five o'clock Josh was racking his brain to remember her roommate's last name....if he could track her down at work maybe she could tell him how Donna was.
A search through Donna's desk had come up with the roommate's last name and work number but it was seven before Josh had a chance to call and by then the place was closed.

At eight thirty Josh had his coat on and was half way across the bullpen before CJ's voice snagged him.

"Whatever it is, Claudia Jean, I'm out the door."Josh called even as she stepped out of her office.

"Josh...."

"Half hour, CJ."Josh replied not turning around. "Half hour, forty minutes tops and I'll be back."

"Josh."CJ stated quietly as she stepped into the bullpen. She knew how worried her friend was about Donna so she had done some checking of her own. "I don't think you'll find Donna at home."

Josh froze midstep and turned around. "What? CJ, she's sick....where else would she be if she's not at home buried under a pile of blankets and two cats."

"I knew you were worried so I did some checking."CJ replied as she crossed the space between them. "I called Mrs. Landingham who called personal....Josh, Donna didn't call in sick....I mean she did but she also quit."

*******

It took Josh thirty three minutes to reach Donna's apartment. It was the longest thirty three minutes of his life. None of this was making any sense.
Before he left for Africa things were perfect. They had been dating seriously for nearly four months.
Both of them were deliriously happy or so he thought......why would she quit so suddenly? The Donna he knew and had fallen in love with would've talked with him first.....so they could sort out whatever was bothering her.

Josh pulled over and parked near the alley by Donna's apartment building. He went inside and took the stairs two at a time to her second floor apartment.
He knocked on her door....waited......then knocked again.

"Donna, it's me."

Silence was his only answer so Josh found the spare key she had hidden above the door. He quickly let himself in and was surprised to find a dark apartment.

Josh flipped on the living room light and moved through the small apartment. "Donna?"

It was only when he stepped into her bedroom that Josh realized CJ was right. Donna was gone....her closet was empty, her suitcase missing.

Josh crumpled down onto the edge of her bed his head dropping into his hands. His mind was reeling...his heart racing......why? Why now?
Did she finally give up on him and leave?
Deep in his heart Josh knew that wasn't true.

Donna was in trouble some where he could feel it. It had to be something major for her to leave everything that she knew in D.C.
What scared Josh most of all was that whatever it was she couldn't come to him.

"Where are you Donnatella?"Josh whispered into the empty apartment.

***********

Sam Seaborn lay still for a moment not sure what had awaken him. Then he heard a sharp noise and for a brief moment was transported instantly to that dark night in May. Sam realized the sound was knocking and shook away the dark memories. He glanced at his alarm clock on his nightstand....three twenty two.
Sam tossed the covers off and padded blearily to the door.....nothing good ever happened at three twenty two in the morning.

"Josh?"Sam asked as his best friend brushed past him into the apartment. At first Sam assumed Josh was drunk....it wouldn't be the first time he showed up at his door at this hour smelling of scotch.

Josh turned to face him running a hand through his short brown hair and Sam could see that Josh's eyes were clear. Clear and worried.

"She's gone, Sam."

Sam closed the door behind him and crossed to the living room. "Who?"

Josh sank down onto the sofa. He'd spent the past four hours calling area hospitals, airports and bus stations. "Donna....she just left, Sam.....her suitcase is gone....everything's gone."

Sam sat down in a chair across from his friend concern driving the remnants of sleep away from his mind."Are you sure? Maybe she took a trip."

"Without telling me?"Josh shook his head miserably. "CJ checked with personal, Sam....she quit."

"Did something happen between you before you left for Africa?"Sam asked with a frown. "I mean not work related?"

Josh shook his head as he stood and walked over to the window. "No, everything was fine....perfect. Or so I thought. She pieced me back together after the shooting, Sam. She wouldn't just leave like this."

"No, she wouldn't."Sam agreed quietly he'd watched Donna closely since the shooting worried for her as much as he had been for Josh. She had been his strength, his protector, his nurse all wrapped up into one. On a number of occasions Sam had meant to talk to her but time just got away from him.

Josh turned to face his best friend. "I need to find her, Sam. I can't just let her end things like this. This isn't her....something's wrong I know it."

Sam stood and walked over placing a reassuring hand on Josh's left shoulder. "We'll find her, I promise. First let's get some food, then we'll talk to Leo."

*********

Donna Moss walked along the pier in Clearwater, Florida. She still had a couple days before she was due to start her new job.

Donna sat down on the corner of a bench and stared out at the ocean ignoring what the early afternoon sun was doing to her unprotected alabaster skin. Her mind was miles away....back in D.C.
Had Josh noticed she was gone yet?
Was he looking for her?

Donna swallowed hard and fought the fresh wave of tears that threatened to spill. She had thought leaving Madison to drive to New Hampshire had been tough but this was far worse.
She just hoped that someday Josh would understand.

*********

Leo had to threaten to lock Josh up in the freezer of the White House kitchen. The threat was the only thing that seemed to get a response from Josh that wasn't yelling.
All morning Josh had been ready to strangle the next D.C. police detective who told them that it was too soon to put out a missing person report on Donna.

The week that she wasn't at work wasn't enough for the police to put out an APB.

"Leo."

"I'm sorry Josh but you can't get out of those meetings."

"Donna's missing and you expect me to sit in some Senator's office on the Hill for four hours and listen to...."

"We need those votes Josh."Leo replied patiently hoping that it would take Josh's mind off of Donna if only for a few hours.

"Forget it, Leo."Josh said angrily as he turned and walked toward the door nearly toppling Margaret in the process.

"Josh."

Josh froze in the doorway he knew that tone all too well. It was one that Leo usually reserved for Congressmen and other heads of State who didn't do what the President wanted. But still he didn't turn. If Leo wanted to fire him that was fine. Donna's life was more important to him at the moment than his job.

"Josh, go to the Hill....I'll place a few calls on this end and see if I can get in contact with Donna's brother. We'll set up a call with him when you return....."

"Fine."Josh replied stiffly as he stormed past Margaret and into the communications bullpen.

"No word?"Margaret asked as she watched Josh's retreating back worriedly.

Leo shook his head as he came to stand next to her. "No, get me Norfolk on the phone."
**********

Two hours later Sam had just grabbed a sandwich from the mess and stepped back into his office when his phone rang. He juggled the sandwich and soda to his other arm as he picked up the receiver.

"Seaborn?"Sam answered as he walked around his desk and sat down.

"Do me a favor."Josh replied as he held his cell phone to his ear with his shoulder. He was standing just outside of Senator Grantham's office at Capitol Hill and the hallway was crowded. Somebody bumped his left elbow and Josh moved closer to the office door.

Sam deposited the sandwich and soda on his desk. "I thought you were meeting with Grantham?"

"I am. We took a break."Josh explained as he navigated the crowd to move to the window. "Sam, do you remember Paul Robbins?"

Sam reached for his unopened soda. "Vaguely wasn't he a rookie reporter on the Hill beat when we were there?"

Josh nodded. "Yeah, now he's a P.I. I need you to find his number and get him over to my office before I get back."

Sam opened the soda and reached back for the sandwich. "Josh, I know sitting there must be tou...."

"Tough?"Josh snapped as he whirled away from the window. "Sam, you have no idea. I'm sitting there listening to Grantham drone on about the disastrous winter his district had and all I can think of is Donna. I know Leo thought this would help but it's making me crazy. I sit there and my imagination works over time coming up with different possibilities as to why she left. She would've left me a note or something at least, Sam if she could....this is bigger than us....something or someone made her leave."

Sam caught Kathy's attention as she passed by the open door. "I'll try to find Robbins but I can't promise that I can get him here.....who knows if he's still in D.C."

"Thanks Sam."Josh replied quietly as he looked back toward Grantham's office. "I gotta head back in. I'll call and let you know when I leave."

"Okay."Sam confirmed as he hung up the phone. Unfortunately the cord of the receiver caught the edge of the full can of soda sending cola everywhere.

"I'll get a towel."Kathy offered as she stepped out of the office.

"Thanks Kathy."Sam replied as he franticly picked up his laptop in an attempt to keep it away from the growing lake of soda.

************

"You're setting up a conference call with Norfolk?"Jed Bartlet asked as he stepped into Leo's office. His reading glasses were still on the tip of his nose a pile of folders were under the President's right arm.

"Yeah."McGarry replied as he stood. "It's nothing official."

"Donna?"Bartlet guessed as he sat down in one of the chairs across from Leo's desk.

McGarry nodded as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I tracked down her brother. Hopefully he can tell Josh some good news."

Jed took off his glasses. "She didn't tell anyone she was leaving?"

"No."

"That's unlike her."Jed agreed worriedly. "Let me know how the call goes."

"I will."Leo promised as he glanced at the files in his friend's hand. "What do you have there, Mr. President?"

"Aftermath from the African trip."Bartlet replied with a tired smile. "Want half?"

Leo grinned. "With all due respect, Sir I have my hands full without taking on your work load."

**********

Pedestrians scattered as Josh stalked out of the Capitol building and headed toward his car. His last meeting with Congressman Lake had run long so Josh had lost an hour. An hour where he could've been searching for Donna.

By the time Josh reached 1600 Pennsylvania avenue it was nearly six thirty. The Deputy Chief of Staff could only hope that Sam had been able to track Robbins down.

Leo snagged him as soon as Josh stepped into the West Wing. "We were able to track Tom down but he's not stationed in Norfolk."

Josh felt his hopes plummet as he turned to face his boss. So much for getting any useful information out of Donna's older brother. "Where?"

"He's on the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk off the coast of Japan."Leo replied as they walked toward the Roosevelt room where the call was set up. "The call's set up we're just waiting for you."

"Thanks Leo."Josh replied quietly knowing the strings that Leo had to pull to track Tom down.

McGarry placed a gentle hand on his friend's shoulder. "If we don't find Donna and bring her home we won't have a functioning White House."

***********

Donna sat in her small beachfront apartment and picked at her dinner. Her gaze kept drifting to the phone on the kitchen wall.
Donna knew she should at least call Josh and let him know she was okay. But a voice inside of her was insisting that this be a clean break.
It would be best for both of them in the long run.

Donna sighed and returned her attention to the tv dinner on the plate in front of her. She knew she had to eat something but her appetite was completely gone. She was now keenly remembering her life before Josh. It had not been a happy place and neither was this.

Donna stood and carried the untouched meal to the sink. She tossed the now cold food in the trash and stacked the plate and silverware in the sink to clean them later. Donna knew it would be impossible to forget Josh and the impact he made on her life but she also knew that she had to move on.
No matter how tough that was.

*********

Josh sat down at the end of the small conference table in the Roosevelt room and picked up the phone.
Sam stood just inside the doorway leaning against the doorframe. He had a draft of a speech to polish but he wanted to be close by just in case Josh needed him.

"Lieutenant Moss?"Josh greeted.

"Mr. Lyman."Tom replied from the communications room of the aircraft carrier. "Has something happened to my sister? They told me that's what this call was about but nothing else.....is Donna hurt?"

Josh closed his eyes fighting to keep his emotions in check. "So she hasn't talked to you in the last week or so?"

"I haven't talked to Donna in a month."Tom replied concern clearly in his voice. "Between her schedule and mine it's just impossible to connect even through email. Has something happened?"

"She quit and cleared out her apartment without telling anyone where she was going."Josh replied worriedly as he opened his eyes. "She's done so much to help me the last few months that I just can't see her leaving without at least leaving me a note."

"Donna quit?"Tom repeated in surprise he knew how much his sister treasured her job. "I have to be honest Mr. Lyman I asked her to quit after the shooting but she refused. Donna wouldn't leave now....not like that."

" Call me Josh.....can you think of anywhere she would go?"Josh asked trying to mask the desperation in his voice. "Any college friends she's still in touch with? Or a childhood vacation spot that was special to her?"

"Only college friend that I can think of is an ex-roommate by the name of Rebecca Slate. I know my Mom mentioned that Rebecca and Donna would touch base when she went home to Madison."Tom replied quietly.

Josh reached for a pad of paper and a pen and jotted down the name as Tom continued.

"As for vacations....."Tom trailed off as childhood memories surfaced. Birthday parties, sleepovers, family gatherings at the holidays. He hoped Donna was okay.....Tom just wished he wasn't stuck in the Pacific. "There weren't that many....with my father in the Air Force we moved a lot."

"Thanks for your help."Josh replied as he stood. "I'll let you know when we find her."

"I appreciate that."Tom commented as he glanced at his CO and got a nod....time for his flight. "I have to go.....if Donna needs anything......I'll try to get leave."

"I'll make sure you're her first call when I find her."Josh promised as he motioned Sam over. "Fly safe."

"Thanks."Tom replied quietly. "Take care of her."

"I will."Josh promised as he hung up.

Sam approached Josh. "I tracked down Paul Robbins but he's in New Mexico on a case and won't be back till tomorrow night."

Josh tossed down the pen he was holding and sank back into the chair. "We're batting a thousand today."

Sam sat down next to him. "I gave him some preliminary information and he's going to start working on it tonight. He said he'd fax us if he came up with anything before he returns."

"That's something I guess."Josh replied part of him still expecting Donna to walk through the door and tell him he was late for a meeting.

"We'll find her Josh."Sam promised as he stood.

Josh nodded and looked back at the name on the pad of paper in front of him. "I'm going to call this Rebecca Slate and then head back to Donna's apartment. If her roommate's not back yet maybe I can find something that Donna left behind."

"You know where I am if you need anything."Sam replied quietly as he started toward the door.

"Thanks Sam."

**********

With the White House being the White House it was another hour and a half before Josh was able to leave. Helplessness, worry and fear consumed Josh as he drove the familiar route to Donna's apartment. He'd tried twice but had been unable to make contact with Donna's friend, Rebecca Slate.....he'd left a message on her machine and one with her super.

His mind kept going back to one question.:Why? What could possibly have happened to make her leave? To make her rip herself out of his life without so much of a trace that she had ever been there in the first place.

Josh racked his brain struggling to remember their last conversation. A memory finally surfaced as he pulled his car into the parking lot of Donna's apartment building.

-----------

'Josh!'

Silence.

'Josh!'

'Joshua, I'm not going to have Leo and Toby yelling at me because.....'

'I heard you, Donnatella.'Josh replied as he snagged his assistant's arm and pulled her into his office and shut the door. 'Leo can wait five minutes.'

Donna smiled but he could tell she was trying to remain stern. 'Josh, you know what Toby threatened last time you were late.'

Josh pulled her into an embrace. He would leave in twenty four hours for the African summit....normally he'd be thrilled to be a part of the historic summit but now it felt like he was going to another planet and wouldn't be back for years.

'Are you sure you can't come with us?'Josh asked even though they had this conversation a million times before. 'I could get the President to order it.'

'Josh, you know my mother's coming to visit this week. She's had this planned for months. I can't change it even if I wanted to.'


---------
Josh slapped his hand against the rim of the steering wheel. Donna had lied to him. When he had been able to track down her parents earlier that day they had been in New York City and had been there for two weeks.
So there was no way Donna could've been visiting with her mother last week.

Cold dread formed a knot in Josh's stomach as he exited the car. Donna never lied to him....she didn't have it in her body chemistry. She had a worse poker face than Sam. Josh could always tell when she was trying to hide something from him.

So why couldn't he have seen through her lie the day he left?

Josh shook his head as he took out Donna's spare key and let himself into her apartment. He knew the reason why....he'd been so busy getting ready for the summit that Donna could've told him that Elvis was alive and he would've believed it.
Okay maybe not for long but still.....

The apartment was as cold and dark as it had been the last time Josh had been there. He flipped on the light and sat down on the sofa. Josh needed a moment to get his thoughts and emotions under control before he started to search.
No matter what Donna was hiding from him Josh had to find her. Whatever it was it had to be something they could overcome together.

********

Josh had been searching the apartment for about a half hour before the silence became deafening. Going into the small kitchen Josh hesitated only briefly before flipping on the radio that was resting on top of the refrigerator.
As the music began to play Josh stared at the radio for a moment shaking his head at the irony Stanley would be proud.

Josh opened a drawer next to the refrigerator and began to sift through it. Mostly junk....paper clips, pens, pencils, spare batteries, stationary. It was only then that the lyrics of the song caught his attention:

/Baby I bought wine and roses on my way home
Yeah I know we can't afford it but life doesn't last too long
This world has gone half-crazy
And knocked us both to our knees
I'm fumbling for the words to try to tell ya
I love you for hangin' onto me

When anyone else would've been long gone
Packed it up and headed back home
And not a soul would blame you after what I put you through
Yeah anyone else would've gone insane
Called the game on a count of rain
Anyone else, anyone else
Anyone but you/

Josh froze, one hand still on the drawer contents. Had he not told Donna how grateful he was for everything she had done?
Had he not told her that she had healed him as much as the fourteen hour surgery had?
Josh shook his head and returned his attention to the search.....he had to believe that he had. Just that wouldn't cause her to leave, would it? Donna would've said something.....


/Mayday baby, all the rivets popped loose, it's a total tailspin
Too much grindstone, too little time with you
Girl, you know it's wearing thin
Baby let's trade in these teardrops
For warm kisses on skin
You got a drawer full of IOU's
And it's high time you called those things in

When anyone else would've been long gone
Packed it up and headed back home
And not a soul would blame you after what I put you through
Yeah anyone else would've gone insane
Called the game on a count of rain
Anyone else, anyone else
Anyone but you

You've passed up so many chances
To walk right out that door
Instead of dodging a champagne cork
And watchin' the wet clothes fall to the floor

When anyone else would've been long gone
Packed it up and headed back home
And you can hide behind a Cheshire cat grin but you know it's true
Yeah anyone else would've gone insane
Called the game on a count of rain
Anyone else, anyone else
Anyone but you

Anyone else
Girl, anyone but you/

Somewhere in the back of his mind Josh noted that the song had ended but he wasn't paying any attention to the radio. His entire being was focused on the small item in his right hand.

It was a torn piece of a doctor's appointment card....the type that they handed you as you walked out the door to remind you of the next appointment.

Of course the half that Josh had found yield no clues. It only showed Donna's last name, time of appointment, date of appointment and the doctor's first name.

Josh felt fear race up his spine as he noted that the date of the appointment was two days before he had left for the African summit.

Josh closed the drawer and turned around and leaned back against it forcing himself not to panic. This could mean nothing it could just be a routine checkup that she had failed to mention to him.

Swallowing hard Josh pocketed the torn card and left the kitchen. Maybe Robbins could get some information from it that he wasn't seeing.

Donna was fine....he had to believe that.

**************

When Sam arrived at work for the five thirty staff meeting he wasn't surprised to see Josh asleep at his desk. Sam frowned worriedly as he stepped into the doorway of his friend's office....he had thought Josh had went home.
Sam stepped into the office and walked around Josh's desk placing a gentle hand on Josh's left shoulder. "Josh?"

Josh jerked awake his head nearly hitting Sam's right arm. "What?"He asked sleepily.

Sam moved so he was in front of the desk. "I thought you went home."

At Sam's statement the memories of the last twenty four hours assaulted Josh full force. Josh squinted and tried to focus on his computer clock...five twenty a.m.

"Is there news on Donna?"Josh asked hoarsely his sleep induced mind not coming up with any other reasons why Sam would be here this early.

Sam shook his head. "No, not yet. We have a five thirty staff meeting."

Josh blinked in surprise as he began to hunt around on his desk for the schedule. "We do?"

Sam nodded. "I'll tell Leo you'll be a few minutes late."

"Thanks."

Sam retraced his steps toward the door when Josh's voice halted him.

"Sam?"

"Yeah?"

"If you see the beach bum before I do lock him up."Josh replied as he stood and walked around his desk to look out into the bullpen.

"Beach bum?"

"The guy from the temp agency."Josh explained as he hunted around for his sports jacket which he knew he had tossed somewhere last night. "Never mind I'll just fire him."

"Okay."Sam replied as he left.
**********

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