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"Love Conquers All" pt.7

Caitlin ran through the halls of the White House, the building that had brought her so much
pleasure that now only seemed to confine her.

She burst into the Ladies bathroom and lounge, stopping short at the vanity counter. She placed
her hands on the counter trying to take deep breaths, trying to erase the words that kept
running through her head "Donna's dead".

"No" she sobbed, her body weakening with each passing moment. She turned and quickly dropped
to her knees in the nearest stall just before her body betrayed her and physically released her
emotions.


Sam frantically searched for Caitlin. He knew she had finally reached her breaking point and he
wanted to be there for her. Beyond that he needed her right now. Needed to hold her, grieve with
her.

But first he had to find her.


Inside the Oval Office the only sounds were the mingled sobs of its occupants. Only
twenty-four hours before they had been preparing for a celebration, the beginning of a new life
for Josh and Donna. Now they were mourning the loss of Donna, a woman so young and vital with
so much ahead of her.

Josh continued to cling to his mother, his heart revolting against the idea that Donna was gone.
He couldn't let go of his Mom, if he let go he would be expected to eventually start healing and
there was no point, for he no longer had a reason to live.

The President leaned shakily against his desk, holding onto his wife for support. Donna was
dead, all because of him, because they were after his...daughter. "Caitlin" he choked out,
noticing that she wasn't in the room, fearing for his daughter's state.

Abby surveyed the room. "I'll find her" she whispered, gently pulling away from her husband and
leave behind the solemn room.


When Caitlin's dry heaves stopped, she slowly stood up and walked out of the stall. She stopped
in the middle of the lounge area. She and Donna had nicknamed it their office. It was the one
place where they could go to escape the Men of the West Wing, it was their sanctuary.

// Donna dragged Caitlin into the Ladies Lounge.

"Donna...what..." Caitlin stopped as Donna raised her left hand to display a marquis cut
diamond ring. Caitlin grabbed Donna's hand and pulled it close for a better look. She then looked
up at Donna with a happily shocked expression. The two grown women began jumping up and
down, screaming.

"When did this happen?" Caitlin asked when they had stopped jumping.

"Well Josh proposed on the plane in Chicago and..."

"What?!?! And you didn't tell me!" Caitlin exclaimed.

"You were in England visiting friends and I didn't want to tell you over the phone. Josh gave me
the ring last night and YOU spent the night at Sam's as soon as you came back so this was my
first chance." Donna said with a slight pout at being yelled at.

"Oh Donna I am so happy for you" Caitlin said hugging her.

"Me too." Donna said ecstatically. "I can't believe this is really happening. That I am going to
marry Joshua Lyman."

Caitlin smiled at her friend. "I had no doubts" she said.

"Well that's good, because I want you right up there with me, reassuring me that I'm not
dreaming."

"What?" Caitlin asked.

Donna smiled slightly. "I want you to be my Maid of Honor. You're my best friend and Josh
considers you to be his sister and...so do I."

"Donna..." Caitlin said softly, tears in her eyes.

"I know that you already have two sisters but I never had a one but I feel like I do now..."
Donna babbled her own tears brimming her eyes.

Caitlin pulled Donna into a big hug. "You are my best friend Donna. And I love you as much as I
love Elizabeth and Zoey." Caitlin pulled back and grasped Donna by the shoulders. "From this
moment on you are an honorary Bartlet sister."//

Tears began to stream down Caitlin's cheeks as she remembered those words and the awful
irony they brought with them. Caitlin's knees gave way and she collapsed onto the floor with
devastating sobs.

***


Sam was beginning to panic. He couldn't find her, rationally he knew she was somewhere in the
building, but the longer she was away from him, the greater his agitation and fear became.

He jumped as he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. He turned to find Abby standing before him,
her eyes filled with concern.

"I can't find her" he said as a sob choked him.

Abby placed her hand on his cheek, "We will. Where did you look?" she asked.

Sam recounted his steps to Abby, who paid deep attention. "The ladies room" she said intuitively.

Abby and Sam turned and rushed towards the ladies room Sam stood outside the door, pacing as
Abby opened the door and walked inside.

As soon as she did she gasped and tears began to fall as she saw her daughter, her usually strong
and vital daughter, quivering on the floor.


CJ approached Josh and his mother. She took both their hands and led them over to the sofa.
"Come on, Josh, sit down."

Josh let CJ lead him not having the energy to think much less do anything
else. His mind was spinning. This couldn't be happening......he couldn't have lost Donna....

Jed looked over at Josh and then motioned Leo over.

"Leo." Bartlet ordered in a quiet voice. "Get together with Alberts. I want
Donna....home and I want to know what the hell went wrong."

Leo placed a hand on Jed's shoulder before walking over to Alberts who was
talking with Toby by the door.

Josh waved away the glass of water that C.J. held in front of him. "I'm
okay, C.J."

The dullness of his tone scared C.J. as she knelt in front of him setting the water aside. "Josh,
listen to me. None of this is your fault."

Josh felt the tears begin to form again but he didn't care. "Yes it is,
Claudia Jean and I'll never forgive myself."

Mrs. Lyman felt her own tears falling down her cheeks as she placed her arm protectively over
his shoulders.

C.J. grasped his hand. "Donna loved you more than anything....hold onto that
Josh."

Jed Bartlet approached Donna's family with a heavy heart. "You have my
deepest condolences, not only as a President but as a man. Donna wasn't just
a member of my staff....I considered her a friend. She will be greatly
missed."

"Thank you, Mr. President." Ed Moss replied in a choked whisper.

Bartlet nodded and started to turn away when Thomas's voice halted him.

"Mr. President." Thomas began having regained some of his composure. "Is
Boxton dead?"

Jed shook his head as he turned back to face Donna's brother. "No, he was
taken into FBI custody."

"I want to see him."

His mother touched Thomas's arm. "Thomas, please....D-Donna's gone....seeing
that.....man won't bring her back."

Thomas swallowed hard. "Mom, he took away a part of our family. I want to
look him in the eye and ask him why."

The President nodded as he placed a hand on the pilot's shoulder. "As soon as
Boxton is brought to D.C. I'll arrange it."

"Thank you, Sir."

*********

At Abby's gasp Sam instantly stepped into the room not caring at the moment
that it was a woman's bathroom.

Abby knelt next to Caitlin pulling her into a soothing embrace.

"Caitie." Sam said quietly fighting his own tears as he stepped forward.

Abby met his gaze. "Sam, can you give us a few minutes?"

Sam hesitated wanting nothing more than to wrap Caitlin in his arms and
never let go. Her sobs tore at his soul.

"Sam." The First Lady prompted gently as she rubbed Caitlin's back like a
small child.

Sam looked at Caitlin one last time before nodding. "I'll be right outside."

When Sam left Abby turned back to Caitlin. "Caitlin- shh honey. I know..." she said as she slowly
rocked back and forth as sobs continued to wrack Caitlin's body.

After the sobs continued for a few more minutes Abby became concerned for Caitlin's health.
"Sweetie you have to stop now. Please, honey..." Abby said close to begging as tears began to
spill from her own eyes.

Caitlin's crying slowed and after a few moments stopped completely. Abby placed her hand under
Caitlin's chin and forced Caitlin to look at her. The dead look in Caitlin's eyes scared Abby more
than Caitlin's heart wrenching sobs.

"C'mon honey, let's get you off this cold floor and upstairs" Abby whispered, thankful that Sam
was waiting outside. Abby helped Caitlin up, but Caitlin still seemed lost.

Abby slowly propelled Caitlin out of the ladies room. As soon as they exited, Abby saw Sam
sitting up against the wall, his head in his hands.

At the exit, Sam quickly got up and approached them. He stopped short when he saw Caitlin's
condition. He rushed over to her and caressed her cheek trying to garner a response. She just
looked up at him, almost through him. He turned to look at Abby with a terrified, shocked look.

"Help me get her upstairs Sam" Abby said quietly, her voice thick with tears.

Sam nodded and bent down to lift Caitlin up into his arms and carry her upstairs.

***



"Boxton should be at the Hoover Building within an hour" Alberts said as he hung up his cell
phone. "Capt. Moss, I can take you over there now if you'd like?"

Thomas squeezed his mother's hand and stood up. "Yes thank you." He answered hoarsely.

Alberts turned to Josh, "Mr. Lyman- would you like to...accompany us?"

Josh looked up at Alberts without answering as if he didn't hear the question.

"I don't think..." the President began. "Just call us as soon as you know anything."

"Yes sir." Alberts said, then he and Thomas made their way out of the office.

Josh watched Alberts and Thomas leave, then got up.

"Josh?" CJ queried.

"I need to be alone." Josh said in a monotone voice and made his way out of the office.

CJ got up to follow him but Leo put a restraining hand on her arm. "Let him go." He said quietly.


Abby and Sam brought Caitlin to one of the upstairs bedrooms and Abby left to get her medical
bag for something to give Caitlin to sleep.

Sam sat on the bed besides Caitlin and held one of her hands, while his free one continued to
caresses her face and smooth her hair away. He felt helpless, not knowing what to do to help
Caitlin through this. He knew she was mourning the death of her best friend, but she was also
blaming herself for what happened. Abby said she had gone into shock, her mind shutting down
as a protective measure. Sam just hoped she would open up again.

Sam moved to get off the bed, but Caitlin's voice stopped him. "Don't go" she whispered.

He turned back to and smiled down at her. "I'm not going anywhere" he answered.

Caitlin pulled on his hand, bringing him down next to her. Sam stretched out by her side and
pulled her into his arms, holding her tight. Soon her breathing became more even and he
realized that she had fallen asleep. Sam then allowed himself to feel his own grief and tears
began to fall.


"Jed?" Abby called softly from the doorway.

The President turned to his wife and knew from her expression that she had found Caitlin. He
rushed over to her and walked outside the door with her.

"How is she?" he asked.

Abby opened her mouth to say something but a small sob escaped instead. Jed pulled her into
his arms.

"She looked so lost Jed. She...this broke her." Abby said softly. "I've never seen her like this.
Not even after the bank robbery. I'm afraid that she won't get passed this."

"Yes she will. She is too strong not too. And we'll be there to help her. She'll get through this.
We all will." Jed answered holding his wife closer.

***



Charlie turned to Zoey as they stood in each other's arms in the corner of the Oval Office. He
didn't want to leave her but knew that Josh needed a friend right now.

"You okay for a few minutes?" Charlie asked softly as he reached out and touched Zoey's tear
streaked face.

Zoey nodded as she stepped back. "You going after Josh?"

Charlie nodded. "Yeah."

Zoey squeezed his hand. "Take your time. I'm going to check on Cait."

******

Charlie finally found Josh sitting in the darkened, deserted pressroom. The Presidential aide
didn't bother to flip on the lights as he made his way to the fifth row where Josh was sitting.

Charlie sat down in the seat on Josh's left. His friend's face was pale and his eyes had a vacant
far away look. To Charlie this tragedy with Donna brought back dark memories of his mother's
death and the assassination attempt. During the aftermath chaos of the shooting Charlie hadn't
been able to locate Zoey. In those few brief seconds he had felt the worst possible fear. Charlie
knew that what Josh was dealing with now had to be a hundred times worse.

"She was wearing blue."

Startled Charlie looked over at Josh not sure if he had heard right. "Josh?"

Josh swallowed hard. "Donna was wearing white the first time I saw her during the campaign.
When I hired her......if I hadn't hired her she'd be safe and sound working someplace faraway now."

*****

The short ride to FBI headquarters was a blessing to Thomas. It gave him a chance to regain his
composure though it was a losing battle. Memories of his childhood kept cropping up.........family
vacations in the summer......Christmas's.....

Albert's soft statement snapped Thomas back to the present. "We're here, Captain Moss. Agent
Williams will escort you up and I'll meet you there shortly."

"Thanks." Thomas replied as he got out of the car and started toward the underground parking
garage's elevator where a black female agent was waiting.

"This way Captain Moss." Williams urged as she and Thomas stepped onto the seventh floor and
turned to the right. They walked past a series of offices before stopping in front of an
interrogation room

Thomas took a quick breath, then nodded to Williams to open the door. Thomas took one step
through the door the stopped, staring at the man sitting at the table, shackled.

'There he is...the monster that took away my baby sister' Thomas thought, fighting the tears and
anger that threatened to overwhelm him. Boxton wasn't what Thomas was expecting. Boxton was
younger then he was and he didn't seem cold and heartless. In fact with his head drooped down
the way it was he almost looked...remorseful. Boxton turned to look at Thomas, as if just
realizing he was no longer alone.

"Who are you?" he asked, his voice quivering.

"I'm Thomas Moss" Thomas answered, "Donna is...was my sister" he continued, a sob rising in his
throat.

At the mention of Donna's name, Boxton leapt up and made a violent move towards Thomas.
Instantly three guards were on him. "That bitch!" Boxton screamed, "She destroyed my life, took
away my...my..." Boxton's words stopped as he broke down in tears. The guards escorted the
sobbing Boxton from the room.

Thomas watched them in shock. He couldn't believe how much hatred that man had for a woman
who he killed.

"Captain Moss?" Alberts voice cut through Thomas' thoughts

Thomas turned to him.

"I have some news..." Alberts said.

***

Zoey stood in the doorway to the bedroom Caitlin was in watching her sister and Sam sleep.
Zoey couldn't help thinking that Caitlin could've been the one kidnapped, could've been the one
killed. Zoey felt fresh tears spring to her eyes just as she felt an arm wrap around her
shoulders. She rested her head against her father's shoulder.

"I can't believe this is happening." Zoey whispered.

"I know" The President said softly. "It's OK to be relieved that Caitlin is alive and safe at the
same time that you are sad for Donna, Zo."

Zoey just nodded and hugged her father tight. The President held her for a few moments, the
pulled her away from the door. "Let's let them get some sleep" he whispered as he quietly shut
the door. He then turned to the Agents outside the door. "No one gets in that room except for
myself or the First Lady, is that understood?"

"Yes sir" the Agents answered.


Charlie sat with Josh in the darkened Press Room for a while, letting Josh talk whenever he
needed to. Charlie knew that Josh wouldn't hear anything he had to say so he decided to just let
Josh talk.

"I don't...I don't know what to do Charlie." Josh whispered. "I don't know how I am going to get
up tomorrow morning knowing she's not there..."

"You'll get up because you'll have to, because it's what Donna would've wanted."


"Is it about Boxton's charges?" Thomas asked with
concern. "Is there a problem?"
Just the thought of Boxton getting away with Donna's
murder because of a technicality made Tom's blood
boil.

Alberts shook his head. "No, but lets go down to my
office."


Sam awoke about an hour later and pulled Caitlin
closer to him. He knew he should find Josh and help
him cope. But Sam couldn't bring himself to leave
Caitlin.

Sam tenderly brushed a stray hair away from Caitlin's
face. This ordeal was worse than the bank robbery. Sam
had been terrified but he had also known that Caitie
had been in good hands with the FBI and Secret
Service.
But now Sam couldn't help but be thankful for the roll
of the dice that fate had tossed.
If Donna had been wearing her dress than Caitlin
would've been the one taken and killed.

***


C.J. stepped into the pressroom finally spotting Charlie and Josh in the fifth row. Zoey had told
her that Charlie had gone to find Josh. The last place CJ had expected to find them was the
pressroom.

"Charlie." CJ said as she approached them.

Josh didn't seem to know she was there.

"C.J." Charlie acknowledged quietly.

C.J. sat down next to Josh placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Josh, the First Lady has some
food set up in the Roosevelt Room. Why don't we go get something to eat?"

Josh didn't look at her his gaze remained fixed on the podium. "I'm not hungry, C.J."

Charlie and C.J. exchanged a concerned glance.

"The First Lady threatened to set you up on an IV if I can't get you to eat something." C.J. stated
with a slight smile. "And you know she will."

Charlie stood. "Josh, it's probably a good idea to get something in...."

Josh turned to face C.J. and the press secretary was stunned to see the familiar spark was
completely gone from his gaze. "Claudia Jean, I want you to call the press in."

C.J. shook her head. "Josh....."

Josh grabbed her right hand. "They took her from me, C.J. I have to give a statement so nobody
will forget what happened."

C.J. squeezed his hand. "Let me talk to Leo and we'll put together..."

Josh shook his head desperately. "We don't need Leo. Just call Danny and I'm sure the rest of the
pack will be here at light speed."

Charlie placed a hand on Josh's shoulder. "While C.J. calls Danny why don't we get something to
eat?"

"Okay." Josh replied weakly as he stood.


As Josh and Charlie made their way to get something to eat, CJ quickly tracked down Leo and let
him in on Josh's request.

"He can't talk to the Press CJ" Leo said.

"We do have to make a statement. Maybe it should be Josh..."

"No" Leo said, exhausted.

"Leo, Donna was killed..."

"I understand this CJ, this is why he can't talk to the Press. He is too emotional..."

"We are all emotional. It would be inhuman not to be emotional. Donna was one of us and she was
taken, killed, all because someone wanted to make a point against the First Family. What if it
had been Caitlin? Would we have been able to stop the President from giving a statement?"

"That's different CJ" Leo tried

"No it's not Leo. Josh is right, people have to know what happened, this can't just be forgotten."

Leo looked at her skeptically.

"Josh can do this Leo. And I think Josh needs to do this, for him." CJ said putting a hand on Leo's
arm.

Leo looked at her for one more moment then nodded. "Call the Press in. Arrange it for a half-hour
from now. Talk to Josh ahead of time though. And make it clear that this is a statement. NO
questions."

"OK" CJ as she walked off in search of Josh.

Leo sat down in a nearby chair and hung his head in his hands. Leo had known Josh for years,
watched him grow up. Since Noah Lyman's death, Leo had taken on somewhat of a fatherly role
for Josh and Leo considered him like a son. And now he felt completely helpless, not being able
to take away this pain. Josh had lost so many people in his life, Leo was afraid this one would
destroy him.


Sam reluctantly disentangled himself from Caitlin's arms and got off the bed. He looked down at
her and closed his eyes in silent thanks one last time. Then he quietly left the room. He knew
they were going to be arrangements that needed to be made, statements that needed to be
prepared. He made his way downstairs to see what he could do.

Sam wanted to help as much as he could, needed to help in anyway he could. He was being torn up
inside grieving for the loss of Donna, sad for the pain he knew his best friend was going through
right now, thankful that Caitlin was alive and well, and combined with all of that: guilt. Guilt
because he WAS so very thankful that Caitlin had been spared.


When Sam arrived downstairs he could almost feel the energy emanating. Something was up,
something big.

"Toby" Sam called out wearily.

Toby turned to look at him and Sam could see the toll this day had taken on him as well.

"What's going on?" Sam asked.

"Josh is giving a statement to the Press."

"What?" Sam asked incredulously.

"Leo and the President approved it. CJ will be with him, but Josh is making the statement."

Sam just stared at Toby, shocked. The two men walked into the Press Room and found it
completely filled. They stood towards the back and Sam immediately found Josh near the front
of the room. Amid popping flash bulbs Josh slowly took the podium and took a few deep breaths
before beginning.

***

As he looked out at the sea of reporters with their tape recorders and pencils poised Josh was
nearly overwhelmed. Boxton had taken his beloved Donnatella away from him. Stripped him of his
heart and soul and now Josh had to talk about it. Josh wasn't sure if he could put it into words.

CJ placed a gentle hand on his left arm. "Josh..."

Josh nodded and began to speak. "Thank you all for coming on such short notice.

As you know there was supposed to be a wedding in the Rose Garden this weekend....my
wedding...."Josh's voice broke forcing him to pause. "Just before the ceremony there was a
kidnapping attempt against Caitlin Bartlet."


A buzz moved through the crowd of reporters, cameras
flashed.

"She was knocked unconscious during the attack and
suffered minor injuries. In the confusion the kidnappers took my fiancĂ(c)e Donna Moss instead."
Josh felt the tears start to come but forced them back. "The FBI traced them to West Virginia.
They demanded the release of Black Moon leader Harry Boxton in exchange for Donna who they
mistakenly believed was Caitlin.

The exchange of Boxton went wrong as he grabbed Donna as a hostage forcing her back into the
house." Josh paused as he realized what Donna's last moments had to have been like.

"T-The FBI pumped the house with tear gas in an effort to get Boxton to give up peacefully.
Instead Boxton turned his gun on Donna taking her life." Josh gripped the podium feeling the room
start to close in around him. Donna was gone.....forever....

Sam saw his friend falter and instantly took a step forward but Toby placed a hand on his
shoulder.

"Give him a minute." Toby urged. "He's okay."

Sam reluctantly moved back his blue eyes filled with worry. "He's not dealing with this, Toby."

"It won't be easy, but he will." Toby replied quietly.

"Boxton is in FBI custody awaiting trial." Josh
continued as he slowly regained his composure.



Thomas made his way through the halls of the White House, surprised that he was still walking
straight. He was aware of all the stares as he walked towards the Press Room where he was
told Josh was giving a statement to the press. But he couldn't stop. He needed to get to the
Press Room. To Josh.



The President and First Lady watched Josh giving the statement from a side door, unseen by the
reporters.

"When is it going to end?" The President asked in a whisper. "Caitlin was held hostage, there
was an assassination attempt, and now terrorists managed to get into the White House looking
for our daughter and by mistake take Donna and...kill her." He turned to look at his wife. "When
Abby, when does it end? When will my family be safe? My friends? Will we ever be safe
again?"

Abby wrapped her arms around her husband holding him close. "We will get through this. Josh
will get through this, Caitlin will get through this, we all will. Somehow. If we don't, then
they've won and we can't let that happen."


"What happened here cannot and will not be tolerated" Josh continued as he stared out at the
sea of cameras. "Terrorism within and among our own citizens is more of a threat to this
nation than any outside force has ever been. My fiancee paid the ultimate price" Josh paused as
his voice wavered "now it is time to make sure that this does not happen again. That what
happened here is not forgotten, that Donna is not..." Josh's voice trailed off as he stared
towards the back of the room. Thomas had just walked up to the open doorway and by his
side...

Josh shook his head slightly, closing his eyes. The lights from the cameras were blinding and
were affecting his sight. He opened his eyes again after a few moments and looked again.

A rumbling started among the press at a loss for the stoppage in Josh's statement. Danny
turned to the back of the room to see what had caught Josh's attention. Danny gasped and
dropped his pen. The other members of the press corp followed Danny's gaze and soon the room
exploded in flashes of bright lights as all the cameras went off.

"What the..." Leo began.

"Oh!" CJ gasped as she and Leo turned to the back of the room.

"Oh my God." Sam said grabbing onto Toby's shoulder to turn him around.

And at the podium Josh continued to stare, not quite believing what he was seeing. "Donnatella"
he whispered.

***

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