Make your own free website on Tripod.com
"Love Conquers All" pt.9

"Everything okay in here?" Sam asked sleepily from the doorway.

"Fine." Caitlin replied as she stood and went to the closet to get a spare
blanket for Donna.

Neither Donna nor Sam missed the fact that Caitlin couldn't meet his gaze.

Sam glanced at Donna's tear strained face and quickly crossed over to her.
"Not that I'm not glad to see you, Donna, but why are you here and not
with Josh?"

Donna squeezed Sam's hand as he sat down next to her. "Josh.....needed some
time."

Sam blinked in surprise. "He needed some time? Donna, you didn't see him when
we thought you were....when we thought you were gone. Josh would've done
anything to bring you back home and now he needs some time?"

Caitlin shook her head as she approached him. "Sam....don't press."

Sam glanced from one woman to the other and back again. "Okay." He replied as
he stood. "I'll be in the living room if either of you need anything."

********

Josiah Bartlet knew Abby would kill him if she knew exactly what type of food
he was getting from the kitchen for a midnight snack. But after what his
family had been through the last couple days he needed junk food.

As he passed the living room Jed was surprised to see a light on. The
President peeked into the room expecting to see Zoey or his wife he was
surprised to see Josh.

"Josh." Bartlet began as he stepped into the room. "It's nearly one.....are
you okay?"

Josh turned to meet his boss's questioning gaze and stepped away from the
window. "I'm sorry, Sir. I should probably go home."

Bartlet didn't like the shell-shocked expression on the younger man's face.
"You can stay as long as you need, Josh. But I thought you'd prefer
Donna's company to ours right now."

Josh swallowed hard at the mention of Donna's name and sank heavily down onto
the sofa. "Donna's gone."

Jed sat down in a chair across from his deputy chief of staff. "What do you
mean she's gone?"

"We had a fight." Josh replied shakily. "I thought it'd be best for her....if
I let her go. I thought I'd be able to let her go."

The President put a supportive hand on Josh's shoulder. "This isn't your fault Josh. What
happened...you couldn't have known and you couldn't have prevented it. I know that's hard to
accept. After the bank robbery, I had a hard time convincing myself that I wasn't to blame.
What helped me though was being there for her."

"Sir, Caitlin's your daughter. Nothing is going to change that. But Donna...Donna doesn't have to
have a connection to me." Josh said studying his hands. "I have to let her go." He finished,
determined.

"Josh..." the President began but stopped when Josh stood up.

"Thank you sir. I think I'll head home now." Josh said, the turned and walked out the door.

***


When Donna awoke the next morning she felt as if she hadn't slept at all. It hadn't been a peaceful sleep, but one filled with images of cabins, guns, blood...Josh. She ached for Josh last night and was so angry at him for not being there for her. Donna stretched, then slowly got out of bed and made her way
out of Caitlin's room into the living room.

Sam was straightening up the couch, grimacing the entire time. It was obvious that he hadn't gotten much sleep either.

"I take it Caitlin didn't have some revelation in the middle of the night." Donna said softly looking around, not knowing where exactly Caitlin was.

"No" Sam replied tensely, sitting down. "She's in the shower." He replied to her unspoken question.

"I can't believe the two of them." Donna said flopping into the seat next to him.

"Two?" Sam asked looking at her. "Two of who?"

"Josh and Caitlin." Donna answered. At Sam's confused look Caitlin continued. "Josh didn't need time last night. He blames himself for what happened and he...he said that it would be best if we..." Donna trailed off as tears sprang to her eyes.

Sam leaned back against the couch. Then he rubbed Donna's back, comfortingly.

"I need him Sam." Donna said softly.

Sam pulled Donna into his arms. "What are we going to do with them?" He asked. "They are so much alike. I mean after the robbery, Josh was the one that got through to Caitlin..." Sam stopped when Donna pushed herself up and looked at him.

"What?" Sam asked.

"That's it. We can't get through to them, but they can get through to each other."

"Huh?" Sam asked.

"Last night when I told Caitlin about Josh wanting to break up, she was hell bent on going over there to knock some sense into him, even though she had done the same thing to you. Josh blames himself but not Caitlin. Caitlin blames herself but not Josh. We get them together on a mission to convince the other that they are not to blame, then they will convince themselves that they are not to blame." Donna said, her mind running a mile a minute.

Sam stared at her for a moment. "I'm not sure I understood all that."

"Let me make it simpler: they're both weird." Donna said.

"True, but what does that say about us?" Sam asked with an amused smirk.

"We're fools for love." Donna said with a smile. She leaned in close to Sam, "Here's what we're going to do."

***


Josh sat at his desk staring unseeingly at his computer screen. There wasn't really any work for
him to do since he had been scheduled off for a week so he and Donna could go on their
honeymoon. Josh winced at the last thought and slumped back in his chair.

He glanced again at the document that was half typed on his computer screen....his resignation
letter.

It was more of a formality actually. The Bartlet administration was over in a few months and
everybody would be looking for work again. Part of Josh didn't want to leave....wanted to see the
presidency through to the end but the other part didn't want to cause Donna any more pain. The
separation between them would be tough but it'd be easier if they didn't have to work together every day.
Josh reached for the keyboard again just as Sam entered his office without knocking.

"Most people knock." Josh admonished half heartedly not looking up from the computer screen.

"That would count if you were actually doing work instead of hiding from Donna." Sam countered
as he slumped into the chair opposite Josh.

At his friend's tone Josh glanced up. "You look like hell, Sam."

"You don't look that much better." Sam replied as he sat up and ran a weary hand over his face.

Josh leaned forward. "I have cause....my life's in shambles. What's your excuse?"

Sam looked past Josh to the window and saw that it had started to rain, fitting. "Caitie left me."
He replied hoarsely this part of Donna's plan would be easy to play.

"What?" Josh exclaimed as he shot out of his chair. After all that Sam and Caitlin had been
through to get to this point Josh couldn't believe that Cait would push Sam away.

Sam nodded miserably. "She blames herself for what happened to Donna. S-she thinks I'll get hurt
if I stay with her. I couldn't convince her that I don't care about the risk......"

Josh leaned against the desk. "She'll come around, Sam. You two belong together, Cait knows
that."

"She's been through too much, Josh." Sam replied softly. "Maybe this time it is over."

Josh shook his head fiercely as he walked around his desk. "I lost Donna to this mess, Sam I
won't let you lose Caitlin. We'll figure something out."

***

Caitlin finished getting dressed and came out into the living room to find Sam gone and Donna
sitting on the couch, her legs curled beneath her. Caitlin walked over and sat down beside
Donna, resisting the urge to ask where Sam was. If she was going to protect him, cut him out of
her life then she had to do it completely, no matter how badly it hurt.

Caitlin reached over and took Donna's hand. "Did you sleep OK?" she asked softly.

Donna shook her head. "I wish Josh had been here." She said softly putting on her saddest voice,
which wasn't hard.

"Donna maybe you should call him, talk to him, in the light of day..." Caitlin said.

"I've tried." Donna said on a sob. "He won't listen to me."

Caitlin paused for a moment, then determinedly stood up. "Yeah well he's going to listen to me."
Caitlin said as she stalked towards the door.

Donna watched Caitlin leave then quickly picked up the phone and dialed.

"Hello" the male voice answered.

"The koala bear departs at sunrise." Donna said.

She heard a deep, exasperated breath. "Donna..."

"Sam!" Donna said imploringly.

"OK OK, the mongoose sits in nesting...what does that mean anyway?"

"It doesn't mean anything it's a code, Sam."

"Why are we having codes again?" Sam asked, smiling happy to hear the normalcy in Donna's
voice.

"Because we are on a mission. How did it go?" she asked softly.

"Josh is determined to make Caitlin snap out of it." Sam said his voice hopeful.

Donna gave a soft chuckle. "They really are scary sometimes how similar they are."

"I know. Are you OK? Do you want me to come over?" Sam asked.

"Actually I'm on my way to see my parents. But thanks." Donna said softly.

"Anytime" Sam answered. "Keep your fingers crossed Don."

"You too" Donna said hanging up.

***


Caitlin reached for the knob of Josh's office door just as it was yanked open. Caitlin and Josh
stood staring at each other for a moment.

"Are you out of your mind!" They exclaimed together.

"Me!" the said together again.

The stopped and watched each other for a moment. Josh stepped aside and Caitlin walked into
his office, sitting down in front of his desk. Josh sat on his desk in front of her. For a moment
neither knew where to begin. Finally Caitlin leaned forward and took Josh's hand.

"She needs you Josh." Caitlin said softly.

"Caitlin..."

"Listen to me Josh. When I got out of that bank I needed everyone I loved- especially Sam. I
knew he sat by my bed for those three days. I felt him, and even though we had a lot to work
out, knowing he was there made me feel safe. Donna needs that right now- she needs you."
Caitlin said emotionally.

"Cait, I want more than anything to just hold her and not let go, but this happened because of
her connection to me..."

"No!" Caitlin interrupted vehemently. "Josh, they were after me..."

"But she never would have known you or been here if she hadn't come work for me..."

"But that doesn't matter she could have worked for you and still been safe, it was because she
was my best friend that this happened..."

"This wasn't your fault Caitlin." Josh said frustrated. He watched her closely for a moment.
"How is she?" Josh asked, unable to wait any longer.

"She's alive. She's putting on a brave face but I know underneath she is really hurting, grieving
no matter what she says. I...I didn't heal as quickly as everyone thought I did. I had nightmares
for months, I cried for no reason, I..." Caitlin paused looking down. "I know that Donna is going
to need help...from everyone...from you." She finished looking back up at him.

"I'm scared Caitlin." Josh said softly. "I can't let anything happen to her."

Caitlin stood up and wrapped her arms around Josh's neck holding him tight. "You can't predict
what will happen. All you can do is live and love and..." Caitlin trailed off, remembering Sam's
words to her. "Will you talk to her? Love her like she needs you to right now?" Caitlin asked
softly.

Josh squeezed Caitlin tighter and nodded his head.

"Good" Caitlin said with a smile pulling away. "Let's go." She said heading towards the door.

Josh grabbed her hand and pulled her back, "Not so fast, Dr. Freud. Sam?"

Caitlin looked down, unable to meet Josh's eyes. Josh gently grasped her chin forcing her to
look up at him. "If I am going to make a try at it with Donna, then you and Sam..."

"No" Caitlin said shaking her head. "That's different."

"How do you figure that?" Josh asked.

"Because what happened, DID happen because of me." Caitlin said.

"First, NO IT DIDN'T! Second, Sam will face anything, ANYTHING life has to throw at him as long
as he's with you." Josh said, finishing on a whisper.

"I just...I keep seeing him, hurt...I couldn't take it if anything happened to him. I would break
Josh, thinking Donna was gone nearly destroyed me, Sam dying would destroy me." Caitlin said,
tears falling down her cheeks.

"I know, but dammit Cait, he could die today, tomorrow, for reasons beyond your control and
having nothing to do with you. But can you honestly tell me that you can walk away from him.
Knowing that he is alive and here, can you stay away?" Josh asked, grasping her shoulders.

"I could try." She whispered.

"Then you will kill him. Not physically, but emotionally" Josh said softly.

Caitlin closed her eyes. "I love him so much." She said.

"I know." Josh answered pulling her into an embrace. "Come on, you and I will get through this
together. We will love the people we love, and help each other through any doubts or guilt we
may have. Hey maybe Stanley could even start giving us joint sessions?"

Caitlin laughed, "Deal." She said.

Josh pulled back and kissed Caitlin on the forehead.

"Let's get out of here." Caitlin said.

"Yeah" Josh answered.

***


Donna said hello to the secret service agents as she entered the Residence.
After a few minutes she found the adjoining guest bedrooms where her family
had been staying. Donna had seen them briefly the night before just long
enough to assure her parents that she was all right. Afterwards she had
gotten into the argument with Josh due to her brother's overprotective
streak.
At Donna's knock the door opened and Ed Moss immediately folded his daughter
into a hug. As the stepped into the room a teary eyed Julie Moss hugged her
daughter fiercely careful not to injure Donna's broken arm any further. Tom
stayed toward the back of the room not wanting to cause tension.

"You have no idea how glad we are that you're home, safe." Donna's Mom stated
as she stepped away from her daughter.

Not trusting her voice yet Donna gave her mother a quick hug before moving
toward the center of the room.

"Have you eaten yet?" Ed asked as he slipped an arm around his wife's waist
watching his daughter with concern.

Donna nodded. "I'm okay, grabbed something on the way here."

"You left last night?" Tom asked speaking for the first time since his sister
had entered the room.

Donna glared at him slightly. "You know why I left."

Tom winced slightly at the anger in Donna's gaze. "I thought you understood."

"I do." Donna replied with a nod. "I tried to talk to Josh later but he pushed
me away."

"He's been through a great deal, honey." Julie said softly not being able to
forget Josh's pain etched face as they waited to hear from the kidnappers.
"Give him some time he'll come around. Josh loves you."

"I hope so." Donna replied as she sat down in one of the chairs hoping that
she and Sam could pull their plan off.

Tom slowly walked over to Donna and knelt beside her. "I'm so sorry
Donnakins. I was just so afraid..." Tom swallowed back a sob.

Donna reached over and caressed Tom's cheek. "I know. It's OK- Josh didn't
need any help being stupid and stubborn."

"No, as Donna can attest to, I am completely capable of achieving that all on
my own."

Donna gasped and turned towards the doorway where Josh stood watching her,
tears brimming his eyes.

***

Sam was startled awake by the sound of a loud bang. He had returned from Josh's office and
collapsed onto his bed, holding the pillow that Caitlin usually slept on tight against him. Now
he bolted upright, continuing to hear soft noises coming from outside his bedroom.

Sam cautiously made his way out of his bedroom, grabbing his softball bat from the closet on
the way out. He silently walked towards the dining room, on guard for the culprit who broke
into his apartment. He heard movement coming from his kitchen and proceeded that way, a
voice in the back of his head telling him he should call the police, but the other part of him,
the part looking for a fight pressed on, bringing the bat up into swinging position. He stood
just before the swinging door that led to his kitchen preparing to enter when it suddenly
opened towards him.

Sam let out his best intimidating yell and prepared to swing when he heard a familiar,
feminine yelp.

"AH!" Caitlin screamed as she dropped to the floor, dropping the tray of blueberry pancakes she
had made.

Sam froze, bat held above his head, shocked. "Caitlin..." Sam began but before he could finish
his front door was forced open as Caitlin's Secret Service detail rushed into the apartment.
Within seconds the bat had been ripped from Sam's hands, and Sam was shoved against the wall.

Caitlin quickly got up off the floor and grabbed onto the agent holding Sam in a death grip. "No,
no." she said. "He wasn't trying to hurt me. At least I don't think he was." Caitlin said, her voice
containing a minute trace of doubt.

"Caitie!" came Sam's muffled, yet shocked voice from against the wall.

"What exactly were you doing Mr. Seaborn?" Michelle Reynolds, Caitlin's other agent asked.

"I...I heard noises, I thought someone had broken in, I didn't realize it was Caitlin." Sam said,
his voice still muffled.

"I...I wanted to surprise him. I didn't wake him up." Caitlin explained to her agents.

Her agents gave her one last look to make sure she was OK, then slowly released Sam.

Sam moved away from the wall and ran a hand through his hair, trying to regain some
composure.

"Sorry about that Mr. Seaborn." Reynolds said. "You understand that after all that has
happened..."

"It's OK, I'm glad that you aren't taking any chances with her life." Sam said softly, never taking
his eyes off of Caitlin.

"We'll be outside." Reynolds said with a smile as she and the other agent made their way
outside.

Caitlin and Sam remained in their positions, watching each other, waiting for the other to
make a move.

"I...I made blueberry pancakes." Caitlin said softly.

"My favorite" Sam replied, just as soft.

"I know" Caitlin answered. "Are you...OK? They tend to be rough when they think I am in
danger."

Sam rubbed the back of his neck "I've noticed. Caitlin what..."

"Did I ever tell you that I have a twin?" Caitlin interrupted him.

"No..." Sam said slowly.

"Well I do. Only she only shows herself once in a while. Just long enough to do something stupid
and then blame it on me."

"Really?" Sam said, trying to hide a smile taking a small step towards Caitlin.

"Yep, in fact I bet you thought that was me last night saying all those things about wanting you
to stay away from me and how I didn't want us to be together." Caitlin said, her voice thick
with tears.

"That wasn't you?" Sam asked, taking another small step closer to her.

Caitlin shook her head. "No" she whispered.

"Well that clears a lot up." Sam said with a smile.

Caitlin looked up at him, tears falling down her face. "Forgive me" she said on a sob.

Sam felt tears rising in his throat. "I don't know Caitie."

Caitlin closed her eyes, trying to stop any more tears, feeling her heart tearing.

"Got any more pancakes?" Sam asked.

Caitlin quickly opened her eyes to see Sam smiling at her. She let out a relieved laugh. "I can
make some more." She said.

"OK" Sam said walking over to her and pulling her into his arms. "One more thing"

"Yeah?" Caitlin asked.

"Tell me you love me and that you are not going to leave me." Sam said hoarsely.

Caitlin reached up and caressed his cheek. "I love you Sam Seaborn. And I am yours for as long
as you are willing to put up with me."

Sam smiled down at her, then pulled her up to him in a passionate kiss. After a few moments,
Sam bent down and picked Caitlin up into his arms.

"Sam? What about the pancakes?" Caitlin asked, breathless.

"Later" Sam said walking towards his bedroom. "I need to work up an appetite first."

***

Julie Moss touched her husband's arm before glancing at her son. "Let's leave
them alone for a few minutes."

Josh stepped aside after flashing the Moss's a brief smile.

Tom lingered for a moment after his parents left. "Donna, are you...."

Donna's gaze locked with Josh's. "I'll be fine, Tom."She replied quietly.

Tom hesitated for a moment longer before finally leaving the room and closing
the door behind him.

"Remind me to sit away from him at Moss family dinners."Josh stated with a
small smile trying to shake the awkward silence that had fallen.

A smile tugged at Donna's mouth. "Tom'll come around."She replied as she sat
down on the small sofa. "You should've seen what he did to one of my high
school boyfriends."

"I can imagine."Josh commented dryly as he sat down next to her.

Silence overcame them again and Josh took the opportunity to try to plan what
he was going to say. On his way here he had tried to come up with at least a
few sentences that made sense but the one thing he kept coming back to was
that he wanted Donna safe and happy.

"Donna."Josh began quietly as he turned to face her hesitantly taking Donna's
hand in his. "I hope you can forgive me for pushing you away.....all I was
trying to do was keep you safe."

"Josh...."

Josh gently placed a finger against her lips. "Please, let me finish.
Donnatella, I always thought it was crazy when people said half of them died
when they lost a spouse. Now I know it's true but a hundred times worse."He
swallowed hard and continued ignoring the painful memories that surfaced.
"When they told me you were dead....I died. I couldn't think of a reason to
wake up the next morning.

When Tom started saying that he didn't trust me to make you happy or to keep
you safe it just brought everything to the surface. No matter what happiness
it cost us I couldn't bare the thought of losing you again."

Donna reached out and gently touched Josh's left cheek her eyes brimming with
tears. "Josh, when they took me......all that kept me going was knowing that
you were looking for me. That no matter what it took you wouldn't let
anything happen to me.

I've never felt safer than I do when I'm in your arms, Joshua. I love you,
please don't let them take our future away from us before it had a chance to
begin."

Josh felt his own eyes moisten as he stood pulling her with him. After
everything she still wanted to marry him....how had he gotten so lucky? "I
love you, Donnatella, more than life."He replied in a voice thick with tears.

Donna smiled as she wrapped her arms around his neck. The tears ran freely
down her face now but she didn't care. "So, Joshua, can we try this wedding
thing again?"

Josh returned her smile as he leaned toward her. "Any time, Donnatella,
anytime."

***

go on to the next part