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"Love Conquers All" pt.8

Thomas placed a protective arm around Donna's shoulders as the flashbulbs intensified. He had
wanted Donna's reunion to be in private but his sister being his sister wanted to see Josh
immediately which is how they ended up here surrounded by the top reporters of the White House
press core.

Donna stared at Josh not being able to make her feet move. This was the first time she had seen
him since the non-wedding.....seeing him again had been the only thing keeping her sane. Now that
the moment was here why couldn't she move?

Josh wanted to believe so much that Donna was standing there, alive and well. But the only way
that would happen would be if he touched her. That thought spurred Josh into action and he
stepped from behind the podium and started toward her. Sam quickly intercepted Josh and
steered him back toward the side entrance where the President and First Lady were watching.

"Sam, what the hell are you doing?" Josh demanded angrily as he tried to step around his friend.

"Do you want this to be seen by the whole world?" Sam asked in a whisper.

Josh glared at him. "I don't give a damn about the press, Sam. Donna needs me, now, that's all
that matters."

Sam placed a hand on his shoulder. "Donna's exactly who I'm thinking of right now. She's been
through hell, Josh, the last thing she needs is to be interrogated by a room full of hungry
reporters. I'm trying to get you both someplace where you can heal."

Josh met Donna's gaze over Sam's shoulder and reluctantly nodded. "Get her out of here, Samuel,
fast."

Sam nodded and moved quickly back to Donna and Tom as Josh turned and walked out of the room.

Sam gently touched Donna's shoulder as her blue eyes looked at him quizzically.

"Sam?" Donna asked anxiously wondering why Josh hadn't approached her.

"He's okay, Donna." Sam assured her as he glanced at her brother. "We just need to get you both
somewhere more private."

The reporters protested loudly as Sam, Donna and Tom quickly left the room without a word.

Sam maneuvered Donna away from the press and towards the Roosevelt Room where he had told
Josh to go.

When they reached the room, Sam turned to Donna giving her an encouraging smile. He then
turned and left her to be alone with Josh. Sam quickly made his way through the halls of the
White House heading for the residence.

He bounded up the stairs. He needed to tell Caitlin the news. Donna was alive. He hoped this news
would bring Caitlin out of the state Donna's "death" had put her in.

He approached the door where Caitlin was sleeping and felt his heart start beating faster when
he saw that her detail was no longer outside.

He rushed through the door to the bedroom to find it empty.

***




Josh paced the Roosevelt Room like a caged animal. 'Donna was alive. His Donnatella was alive
and she was safe and she was....here.' Josh's thoughts trailed off as the door to the room
opened and Donna hesitantly walked through.

Donna and Josh stared at each other for a moment, for some reason unable to move.

"Donnatella" Josh whispered.

That one word spurred Donna into action. She ran and threw herself into his arms, tears
streaming down her face. "Josh" she sobbed against his neck.

Josh held her tight, his own tears stinging his eyes. "I'd thought I'd lost you. And then there was
nothing left." He said hoarsely.

"You were the only thing that got me through. I had to come back...to you." She said.

Josh pulled away slightly, to cup Donna's face in his hands. He stroked her cheeks and her hair,
still unable to believe that she was there. "I love you so much." He said his voice thick with his
tears. He then leaned down and kissed her softly, gently. "Do you...do you need anything. Can I
do anything?" He asked breaking the kiss, he wanted to make sure she was really OK.

Donna nodded her head. "You can marry me."

Josh tenderly brushed away her tears. "We will, luv, soon I promise."

"No, Josh, it has to be today." Donna replied through sniffles. "I don't care if it's in the Rose
Garden or
not. I just don't want to waste another precious second."

Josh tenderly caressed her left cheek. "I'd marry you
in a second, Donnatella, you know that. But you've
been through an ordeal....maybe we should wait a day
or so you can rest."


"That's the first logical thing I've heard you say,Lyman." Thomas replied from the doorway.

"Tom." Donna whispered as she turned to face him taken
aback by the anger in her brother's gaze.

********

Sam nodded to the agents in Caitlin' s Secret Service
detail as he arrived at her apartment. He was about to
use his key when the knob turned easily at his touch.

Sam stepped into the familiar apartment and instantly
heard Caitlin's heart wrenching sobs. It didn't take
Sam long to find Caitlin sitting against the right
wall of Donna's old room. Since Josh's apartment was
smaller they hadn't been able to combine all of their
stuff so Caitlin had let Donna store the rest in her
old room until after the wedding.

Sam dropped to his knees next to Caitlin and tenderly
pulled her into his arms.

"Caitie." Sam whispered. "There's something you need to
know."


"Tom, what..." Donna began.

Thomas stalked into the room and over to Josh and Donna. He put his arm around Donna's
shoulders and glared at Josh.

"You won't be getting married today. And if I have anything to say about it, you won't be getting
married at all." Thomas said vehemently.

***


"Caitlin" Sam said softly. "Donna...Donna's alive."

Caitlin sat with her head against his chest. She blinked several times, not believing what he
said. "What?" she whispered.

Sam placed his fingers under her chin and forced her to look at him. "Donna's alive. I saw her
she is at the White House right now as we speak."

"Ho...how?" Caitlin asked, fresh tears streaming down her cheeks.

"I...you know I don't know. We were all so excited that I don't think anyone asked. Thomas
probably knows because he brought her back."

"So she's...she's really alive?" Caitlin asked afraid to hope.

"Yes" Sam said smiling. He got up and pulled Caitlin with him. "Come on, let's go. I know she'll
want to see you."

Sam started towards the door but Caitlin stopped. "No" she said.

"What? Caitlin she's at the White House, she's unhurt and safe..."

"She almost died, Sam all because they thought she was me." Caitlin said softly.

"But she didn't"

"It doesn't matter" Caitlin cried. "I am like a plague. People are killed and kidnapped because of
me. I'm poison."

"No." Sam said walking towards her.

Caitlin pulled back. "Yes, Tommy and Donna, what if..."

"What if what?"

"What if next time its you?" Caitlin whispered.

"It won't be." He said strongly.

"You don't know that. I couldn't take it if anything happened to you because of me." She
whispered.

Sam stared at her for a moment trying to figure out the right words to make her pain go away.
"We can't predict what will happen Caitie, there is nothing we can do..."

"Yes there is." Caitlin said vehemently, tears streaming down her face. "I can stay away from
you."

***


Donna stepped away from her brother amazed by his dark mood. He'd been nothing but supportive
and comforting at the hospital and on the way back to the White House. He never once showed any
hostility toward Josh.

Donna placed a hand on her older brother's shoulder. "Tom.....Josh and I are....."

Thomas shook his head. "Don't you see, Donna, we nearly lost you. You've worked in a high
profile place for so long you don't see the dangers any more. If you marry Lyman you'll always be
connected to that life and maybe it's selfish but I can't lose you again."

Josh took a step forward. "I'd never let anything happen to Donna."

Tom glared at him. "You did such a great job before,
Lyman, what makes you think you'll protect her better
tomorrow or next year?"


Sam reached for Caitlin but she pulled back not
allowing him to touch her. "Caitie...."

"Sam, please....."Caitlin replied as she stepped away
tears streaming down her face. The thought of losing
Sam in some violent way tore at her soul. "You mean
far too much to me. I can't risk you not having a
future because of me.....because of who my family
is...."

Sam gently took her hand and folded her into his arms
holding her tight. "That's my risk to take, Caitie and
I'll gladly take it. I can't picture my future without
you in it. Don't push me away."


"Thomas!" Donna exclaimed. "What happened wasn't Josh's fault. It wasn't anyone's fault except
for the people who broke into this building looking for Caitlin!"

"Don't you get it Donna! You live with the First Daughter, you want to marry the Deputy Chief of
Staff! You are in danger!" Thomas cried.

"I can't help that I love these people and I refuse to live my life afraid." Donna said softly
putting her hand on her brother's arm.

"Donna, I don't....I just...I was so scared." Tom said choking back a sob.

"I know, I know" Donna said wrapping her arms around him and holding him close. "So was I, but
I'm home now. I'm safe. And I will be. Josh needs me. He would never be able to tie his own ties
without me." Donna said joking, then turned to smile at Josh. Her smile disappeared when she
looked at Josh. His face was pale and his eyes looked forlorn, almost dead.

"Josh..." Donna began.

"He's right." Josh said quietly, looking at her with such intense sadness. "He's right."

***


Caitlin closed her eyes feelings Sam's strong arms around her. It would be so easy to stay
within them forever. But suddenly her mind's eye was filled with images: Tommy laying on the
floor of the bank, Donna having a rifle held to her face, and then Sam... covered in blood...dead.

Suddenly Caitlin gasped and pushed herself away from Sam "No" she sobbed. "No, I can't. You need
to go. You need to stay away."

"I won't Caitlin. I can't..." Sam said his own voice thick with tears.

"You have to! Why can't you understand?!?!" she said hysterically.

"I understand that I'm in love with you. That you are the best thing in my life, that I don't want
to live a future without you!" Sam cried desperate.

"Don't say that! Don't...don't..." she said putting her hands over her eyes shaking her head.

Sam grabbed Caitlin by the upper arms and pulled her to him, shaking her gently yet forcefully
until she looked at him. "What are you going to do Caitlin? Spend your life in hiding? Become a
hermit?"

"If it means the pain will stop, if it means you'll be safe..."

"You can't guarantee that! No one can. All we can do is love and feel and live each day..." Sam said.

"I can make it more probable by staying away..." Caitlin tried, childlike.

"No!" Sam shouted shaking her again.

"Yes! YES!" she said pushing him away.

Sam looked at her, feeling his heart breaking seeing the turmoil she was going through and
putting him through. "It's been a long day..." he said softly. "And you are emotional, and..." he
stopped taking a deep breath. "Things will be different in the light of day. I'll leave you alone,
but I'm not going far." Sam finished then turned and left Donna's room closing the door softly
behind him.

Caitlin sank to the floor, her body shaking as she sobbed. After what seemed an eternity of
wracking sobs Caitlin fell asleep on the floor. She awoke a little later and went to get a drink of
water. She stopped as she walked out of Donna's room and realized that Sam had kept his word,
he didn't go far. Caitlin found him on her couch, asleep.

***

After talking with her parents for a half-hour or so Donna went in search of
Josh. She didn't like at all how things had ended during their conversation
with Tom.

It was just after midnight and Donna was exhausted. She could feel the pain
killers the doctor had given her for her broken arm starting to kick in. But
Donna pushed the weariness back......she had to talk to Josh. She didn't want
either of them going to bed without sorting this out. Not after what had
happened....life was far too short.

Donna was about to call Sam and see if he knew where Josh was when she
decided to search the Residence one last time. As she rounded a corner Donna
spotted light coming from one of the guest bedrooms. Knocking lightly on the
door Donna pushed it open slowly and found Josh staring out the window his
back to her.

Josh turned slightly at the sound of footfalls half expecting to see the
First Lady who'd been hovering most of the night. Seeing Donna framed in the
doorway it took his mind a full minute to realize she wasn't a ghost or a
hallucination.... she was really back with him.

"Josh." Donna began as she approached her fiancée. She couldn't stand to see
the pain and sadness in his brown eyes. "I'm sorry for what happened earlier
with Thomas.....he's always been over protective of me."

Josh turned his attention back to the window. "He was right, Donnatella."

Donna blinked in surprise. Josh had said it so softly for a second Donna
wasn't sure if she had heard correctly. Josh couldn't' be saying what she
thought he was saying...not after everything they had been through over the
years. They deserved to be happy why couldn't Josh see that? She didn't blame
him for what happened why did he blame himself?

"Josh...."Donna replied quietly as she closed the space between them resting
her good hand on his left arm forcing him to look at her. "What happened
couldn't have been prevented."

Josh shook his head forcefully. It was killing him to push her
away.....especially after he had a taste of what life without her was
like.....but more than anything he wanted her safe and happy even if that was
without him. "Donnatella....."

Donna's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Don't call me that if you're going to
turn me away." She knew she was being irrational about the name thing but it'd
been a bad week. "Are you going to let them win by tossing everything away
that we've fought so hard for?"

Josh heard Donna's voice crack and saw the tears in her eyes. The last thing
he wanted was to cause her pain. "Donna, I love you more than anything but I
can't bare to have anything happen to you. If letting you go will keep you
safe then I'm willing...."

"I'm not willing, Josh." Donna replied angrily as she turned back toward the
door. "I knew the risks when I started working for you. They've become part
of my life. But I wouldn't trade my relationship with you or my friendship
with Caitlin for anything. I'm sorry if you can't get past what's happened."

Before Josh could think of a reply Donna opened the door and quickly left the
room.

***

Caitlin gently covered Sam with a blanket, careful not to wake him up. She saw how tense his
face was and realized that although he had found sleep it wasn't a peaceful one. Caitlin knew she
was the reason for his pain but she felt she had no choice. 'You need to be safe Sam.' She thought.
'And you aren't safe with me. I need to know that you have a future, even if that future doesn't
include me.'

She softly caressed his face hoping to ease the tension, but not wake him up. She just wanted to
watch him for a while, before morning came and she had to force him to leave.

Caitlin quietly got up and walked into her room, lying on the bed. She must have dozed off for the
next thing she knew was a small knock on her door before it slowly opened and she heard her
name.

"Cait..."

Caitlin sat up quickly, feeling tears spring to her eyes again. "Donna" she whispered. Caitlin
quickly got out of bed and ran over to Donna embracing her tightly. "Thank God you're OK."

"Caitlin..." Donna said softly and Caitlin felt her shoulders begin to shake.

"Shh, shh" Caitlin said holding Donna tight. "It's OK. You're safe now."

Donna cried for a few minutes and Caitlin just held her, trying to reassure her. Caitlin felt her
own tears burn her eyes. "I'm so sorry, Donna. I'm sorry that you had to go through this because
of me." Caitlin said on a sob.

Suddenly Donna pushed away from her. "Not you too" Donna said miserably. "This wasn't your
fault! And this wasn't Josh's fault!" Donna stalked away from her, pacing the room.

"They were after me Donna. And they got you instead." Caitlin said softly.

"Did you point to me and say 'take her'? No you didn't! This isn't your fault! It's not your fault!"
Donna cried then sank down unto Caitlin's bed.

Caitlin slowly sat down next to her. "Do you want to talk about it?" she asked softly.

"I...I don't remember much actually, if you can believe that. I remember waking up in a cabin and
then being moved. But so much is a blur..." Donna trailed off.

Caitlin took Donna's hand. "I know. Do you know how...I mean, they told us you were dead..."

"Harry Boxton, he..." Donna's voice broke slightly and Caitlin squeezed her hand tighter. "He was
spouting out how he wouldn't go back to prison, and he had this look in his eyes, this wild
look...um...tear gas was thrown into the cabin and Harry had a rifle raised at me and I tried to
break away but Jake grabbed me back. I was so scared and I just pushed against him with all my
might and collided with Alice and then the shot went off and both Alice and I went down. It took
me a minute to realize that I wasn't shot. But Alice...Alice was dead." Donna ended on a whisper.

"He killed his own wife" Caitlin whispered, more to herself than to Donna.

"I don't...I don't really know what happened next. I remember waking up in the hospital and they
were calling me Alice. They had gotten us confused and I said no my name is Donna and then Tom
came to the hospital and brought me back to the White House and there was Josh..." Donna let out
a sob as fresh tears began to fall down her cheeks. "And I thought everything was finally OK
but..."

"But what?" Caitlin prompted gently.

"Josh, he...he said that we weren't going to get married."

"What?" Caitlin exclaimed softly.

"He blames himself for what happened. He feels that I need to stay away from him to be safe."
Donna said with a bitter tone.

"That's ridiculous!" Caitlin said.

Donna looked at her. "That's what I told him but he wouldn't listen to me."

"Well I'll make him listen" Caitlin said getting up.

Donna grabbed her hand pulling her back down. "No, no. Tomorrow is soon enough. Don't go."

Caitlin looked at her. "OK." She said wrapping her arm around Donna's shoulders. "It'll get easier
Donna. I know it doesn't seem like that now but I promise you it will."

"I keep seeing their faces and hearing their voices..." Donna said softly.

"You'll always remember Donna. I won't lie to you. But the memories will stop being scary. You
just need to give yourself time."

Donna just nodded.

"You're room is a mess. Why don't you lie down in here and get some sleep." Caitlin said getting
up and pulling down the covers on her bed.

Donna got up but stopped turning to Caitlin. "Caitlin, why is Sam sleeping on the couch?"

Caitlin stopped and turned away from Donna, not able to look at her. "He...um he fell asleep out
there."

Donna grabbed her hand and forced Caitlin to face her. "Caitlin...tell me. Why?" she said
forcefully.

Caitlin swallowed back fresh tears and whispered softly, "I pulled a Josh".

"What...oh no! You broke up with him?"

Caitlin merely nodded.

"What is with the two of you! I can't believe that you and Josh really aren't brother and sister.
You two have the same exact stupidity!" Donna said with a small amount of disgust.

"There is a big difference Donna. Josh is wrong. I'm not."

"Caitlin..."

"I am the cause of all of this. You weren't in danger because of Josh. You were in danger because
of me. You and Sam will always be in danger if you are associated with me."

"So you just push him away." Donna paused for a moment. "What about me? Do you plan on pushing
me away too?"

"Please Donna..."

"You do. You plan on pushing me and Sam away. Well then you'll have to push Josh away too, and
CJ, Toby, Leo, who will be left Caitlin? Who won't you push away!" she shouted.

"I don't know! I just...I can't let you get hurt!"

"You can't predict or prevent these things. You are hurting me NOW. Just like Josh is destroying
me. And I guarantee you that you are killing that man asleep on our couch right now! You have NO
RIGHT to control my life or Sam's. I am in control of my life and if I want you and Josh in it, then
you are going to be in it. You don't have a choice, I'll handcuff you to me if necessary." Donna
cried.

"I thought Josh was the one who liked the handcuffs." Caitlin said softly. Both women stood
staring at each other for a moment. Then suddenly they burst into laughter, mixed with tears.

Donna wrapped her arms around Caitlin holding her tight. "Please don't do this Caitlin. Don't do it
to me, or Sam, or to yourself. I couldn't stand that. And I'm going to need you. I need you to help
me through this. You're the only one who can."

Caitlin closed her eyes and squeezed Donna tighter. "I...I'll be here for you. I promise."

***


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