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"Waking Nightmare" By Cindy

Title: Waking Nightmare
Author: Cindy Brewer
email: cindyryan7@yahoo.com
Disclaimer: I don't own them
Challenges: This is a response to the 'Write Donna's reaction to the shooting' challenge.
Spoilers: What kind of day has it been
Author's Notes: I know everybody's pretty much ruled
Josh out as having been one of the ones shot but he
needed to be for this plotline.<G> Also I made up the
name of the hospital in Arlington.


Donna Moss blinked sleepily at the vcr clock as she
tried to figure out what had awakened her. With the
President doing the townhall meeting in Arlington most
of the staff had the night off.
Donna had gone for dinner and to see a movie before
coming home around ten where she'd promptly fallen
asleep on the sofa in front of the televison.

Donna stretched and sat up. 'Figures, first night off
in months and I fall asleep.'
It was only then that she realized the phone was
ringing.

Donna reached for the cordless on the coffee table as
she looked again at the clock on the vcr: twelve
forty-five.

"Hello?" Donna greeted the caller sleepily as she
stood, moving forward to turn off the tv which was
showing a test pattern.

"Donna? It's Leo," Chief of Staff Leo McGarry replied
grimly.

Donna froze. Leo had never called her at home the
whole time she'd worked for Josh. Something was
terribly wrong. "What's happened?"

"You haven't seen the news?" Leo asked wearily as he
leaned against the wall of the hospital waiting room.

Donna sank back down onto the sofa her grip tightening
on the receiver.
"No, I got home around ten and fell asleep watching an
old movie.What's wrong?"

Leo sighed inwardly. There was no easy way to say what
he had to say."Donna, Josh was shot."

Donna opened her mouth to reply but no sound came out.
She couldn't believe it....Josh shot? How? She'd just
seen him this afternoon. They were in Arlington....what could possibly have happened?

"Donna?" Leo asked with concern. "Are you alright?"

"Is he....." Donna replied not being able to finish
the question as her mind played hundreds of horrible
possiblities of what could've happened.

"He's alive," Leo replied gently. "He's in surgery
right now, actually has been for the past hour. Bullet
punctered his spleen and grazed his left lung."

"Oh God," Donna stated numbly as she stood and fumbled
for her coat and car keys. "Leo, how could this
happpen?"

Leo closed his eyes as the memories came back full
force. "We're still trying to figure that out, Donna.
The President was leaving the town hall meeting when
he stopped to greet the crowd. Then out of nowhere
some nutcase starts shooting at the crowd."

Donna froze near the kitchen counter. In her immediate
concern for Josh she hadn't even thought of the
others. "Leo, was...was anyone else hurt? The
President?"

"The President's fine," McGarry replied as he pushed
himself away from the wall and began to pace the small
room. "Toby has a couple cracked ribs from being
caught by the crowd, Sam hit his head on the bumper of
a police car but he's okay. CJ was shot in the right
shoulder but she'll be fine. Charlie and Zoey are
shook up but just have a few cuts and bruises."

"Thank God," Donna replied quietly as she shrugged
into her coat and snatched her car keys from the table
by the window. "What hospital,Leo?"

"Arlington General," Leo replied glancing up as Sam
entered the room. "A car should be at your door in a
few minutes."

Donna relaxed a little. The last thing she had wanted
to deal with was traffic. "Thank you."

McGarry nodded. "I'll call you if there's any change."

"Okay," Donna replied as she shakily fumbled for the
phone's off button before setting it on the table. She
leaned heavily against the wall by the window so she
could see the car as soon as it pulled up.

Leo's words still rang in her ears...../Josh has been
shot.....he's in surgery...../

Donna closed her eyes and sent off a silent prayer.
/Please, take care of him./

The young blonde woman jumped three feet as a car horn
sliced through the night. Donna wiped away the tears
and glanced out the window before quickly leaving the
apartment.

*******

To Donna the ride to Arlington seemed to take forever.
When she finally stepped through the back entrance of
the hospital she found Sam Seaborn waiting.
The deputy communications director looked like hell.
He had a large bandage covering the left half of his
forehead. His face and hands had several small cuts
and bruises, his clothes were speckled with blood.
But to Donna he looked wonderful. If Sam was still in
one piece that meant that everyone else would be okay.

Seaborn stepped forward and gently touched her
shoulder urging her to walk with him. "He just came
out of surgery ten minutes ago, but he's in recovery
and the doctors won't let anybody in to see him."

Donna nodded numbly as they reached the elevator.
"Will he be okay?"

The elevator arrived and Sam placed a gentle hand on
the small of her back as they stepped into the car.
"Josh lost a lot of blood at the scene," Sam replied
quietly as he leaned back against the wall of the
empty elevator. "But the doctors think he should make
a full recovery."

"Thank God," Donna stated as she turned to face Sam."When Leo called.....I thought...."

Seaborn pushed himself gingerly away from the wall and
pulled her into an embrace. "It'll be okay, Donna."

After a moment Donna pulled back and brushed the tears
away. "How are the others?"

Sam glanced at her. "Didn't Leo tell you?"

Donna nodded. "Yeah, but......"She trailed off not
quite sure how to convey her thoughts.

"They're shook up but for the most part unhurt," Sam
replied with understanding just as the elevator doors
opened.

*******

When Donna and Sam stepped into the small waiting room
on Josh's floor Donna was surprised to see that it was
empty.

"Where is everyone?" Moss asked as she turned back to
Seaborn.

Sam sat down wearily on the small dark blue sofa.
"Toby and CJ went back to the White House to handle
the press. The First family along with Charlie are back at the Residence. Leo's here somewhere keeping tabs on Josh and on the Secret Service agents who were injured."

Donna leaned back against the wall opposite Sam and
closed her eyes. She folded her arms across her chest
as what happened began to sink in. How could
everything change so fast?
Sam's hushed voice snapped Donna away from her
thoughts.

"When we signed on for the job....we knew the risks,"
Sam whispered as he glanced down on the blood
splotches on his shirt and jacket. "With the Secret Service always around....you never think that this could really happen..."

Donna sat down next to Seaborn and gently placed an
arm around his shoulders. She was in shock and she
hadn't even been there....she could only imagine what
Sam was going through....could only imagine what it
was like to have bullets whizzing by your head.

Sam squeezed her hand gratefully. "It all happened so
fast, Donna. Gina yelled gun just a split second
before the bullets started flying. I couldn't do
anything but stand there....an agent pushed CJ to the
ground and she tried to pull me with her but missed.
When I saw her head hit the police car I dove to the
ground; by then the President's limo was gone. For a
few seconds dead silence engulfed everything...no
sirens, no gunshots...nothing. Then everything erupted
again.....screams,questions. I didn't even realize
Josh had been hit until CJ and I were allowed to
stand. Last time I had seen him he was behind us near
the fence. Then I heard the agent's radio next to me
go off.....'Harvard's hit! Harvard's down....get an
ambulance stat!'"

Donna couldn't help but gasp as Sam retold the
horrifying final minutes of the town hall meeting. She
swallowed hard and waited for Sam to continue.

"CJ and I glanced at each other before taking off at a
dead run following three agents. By the time we reached the area of the park where Josh was the paramedics had arrived......" Sam broke off with a start. "I'm sorry Donna....you don't need to hear this."

Donna shook her head. "No, I'm glad you told me what
happened. On the way here I kept thinking of all kinds
of horible possiblities of what could've happened....." She trailed off as the tears she'd kept at bay for so long finally started to flow.

Sam instantly drew her into a comforting
embrace,"He'll be okay,Donna.....it'll be alright, I
promise you."

******

"Has anyone told Joey?" Donna asked several minutes
later as she pulled away from Sam.

Seaborn nodded. "Yes, but she's visiting her parents
in Iowa, won't be able to get here until tomorrow."

Leo stepped into the room then and walked toward them.
"Donna, glad to see you got here alright."

Donna nodded. "Thank you for sending the car."

"Least I could do," Leo replied quietly before pulling
a chair over to the sofa next to Sam.

"Any news?" Sam asked as Leo sat down.

McGarry shook his head. "The one shooter the secret
service managed to grab in the chaos isn't talking. We
have no ID on the other gunman."

"But Gina saw them both...." Sam began but caught
himself.

Donna looked from one man to the other and back again.
"What? What about Gina?"

Leo sighed wearily. "She was hit by a ricochet after
she shoved Zoey and Charlie into the car. Bullet
grazed her heart before exiting out her left shoulder blade. Docs aren't sure if she'll recover from her injuries."

A blonde haired man in his forties wearing a white
doctor's coat stepped into the room. "Mr. Mcgarry?"

Leo stood. "Yes?"

"Wanted to give you an update on Mr. Lyman," The
doctor replied as he moved farther into the room. "We
have him settled in ICU. We're keeping him there
strictly for observation; the surgery went extremely
well. I see no reason why he won't make a full
recovery."

"Thank God," Donna whispered as Sam placed a supportive arm around her waist.

"Can we see him?" Sam asked quietly.

"He's still sedated from the surgery and won't wake up
for some time," the doctor replied,"But I'll allow you
to see him briefly, one at a time."

"Thank you, Doctor," Leo commented as he shook the
man's hand.

The doctor nodded as he moved toward the doorway.
"I'll put your names on the visitor's list."

After the doctor left the three friends stood staring
at each other for a long moment each lost in their own
thoughts.

"Donna, why don't you go in first," Leo began breaking
the silence.

Moss shook her head. "I'm just an...."

Leo gently placed a hand on her shoulder, "Don't you
dare say you're just an employee to him. That's the
fartherest thing from the truth and I think the three
of us know that better than anyone. Besides I think
Josh would much rather see your face than my or Sam's
ugly mug."

Donna flashed Leo a brief smile before walking out of
the waiting room.

*********

The sight that greeted Donna as she stepped into the
Intensive Care Unit made her stop dead in her tracks.
Donna's hand covered her mouth for a moment as she
forced herself to move forward.

In the dim light of the room Josh was barely
recognizable to her. His skin was pale and drawn; dark
brusies were visible on his face and arms from where
he had hit the fence.

Donna felt the tears start to fall again as she pulled
a small metal chair close to the left side of Josh's
bed and sat down. She made no effort to wipe the tears
away as she reached up and carefully took Josh's right
hand in hers.

For several moments Donna couldn't speak, the enormity
of the situation completely overwhelming her. She
didn't know exactly when Josh had become such an
important part of her life, but he was. She wasn't
quite sure what that meant, but Donna had realized in
the last few horrible hours that Josh was much more
than her boss.
Much more than a friend.
He was the other half of her soul.
Even if he didn't return the romantic feelings Donna
valued his friendship and that was what was important
right now.

Footfalls in the doorway made Donna turn slightly in
the chair. Seeing a red haired nurse motion toward her
watch Donna acknowledged the woman before turning her
attention back to Lyman.
"Josh," Donna began quietly as she stood."My time's
up, but I'll be right outside. Everybody's okay, Josh.
We just need you to get better."

Moss reached out and caressed Josh's right cheek
lightly before she turned and followed the nurse out
of the room.

********

A month later and life in the West Wing had pretty much returned to normal. Well as normal as it could be after an assassination attempt.
Donna had been temporarily reassigned to Leo's office so she could help Margaret out with the huge work load that had piled up with Josh's absence.

Donna cringed at the last thought and tried to concentrate on the paperwork in front of her. On one hand working outside of Leo's office had seemed really strange. But then she didn't think she could face working in the bullpen day after day with Josh's closed, dark office a
stark reminder.

Josh had been responding well....at least according to the Doctors and might finally be able to go home this week. Donna smiled at that....she had visited her boss nearly every day and knew how stir crazy he was getting. Even with the laptop computer that Charlie had brought him after the second week.

Donna glanced over at Margaret as she stepped out of McGarry's office,"Want to grab lunch?"

Margaret grinned as she gestured to the huge stack of files she was carrying, "Would love to but with this pile I don't think I'll get out of here before the next century."

"I could eat lunch."A familiar voice stated from behind the two women causing them both to whirl around.

"JOSH!" Donna shrieked as she jumped out of her chair and enveloped Lyman in a huge hug.

The Deputy Chief of Staff grinned, "Easy, Donnatella, wounded man here,remember?"

"Hi Josh," Margaret replied with a warm smile as she set the pile of folders down on her desk.

Lyman returned her smile as he tried to keep his assistant from toppling them both, "Hey, Margaret."

Donna instantly jumped away from him, "What are you doing here anyway?You're supposed to be in the hospital."

Josh shook his head, "They finally got tired of me and released me this morning."

Donna glared at him, "So of course you come here."

Josh wrapped an arm around Donna's shoulder's as he pulled her close, "I figured you missed me."

More than you know.Donna thought just as Leo came out of his office.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Leo demanded as he came to stand next to Margaret.

Josh grinned at his boss, "And hello to you to."

"Thought you were still in the hospital?" Leo replied as he motioned for Margaret to make a call to the President. "Don't tell me you went AWOL?"

Lyman shook his head, "Nope, free and clear. Even have my get out of jail free card, wanna see?"

Leo smiled as he reached forward and gently clamped the younger man on the shoulder, "Not that I'm not glad to see you, Josh, but I don't need you keeling over on us either. We need you back here when you're full strength and not before."

Josh straightened to attention giving McGarry a mock salute, "Yes, Sir."

Leo looked sternly at Moss, "Donna, after he checks in with the President take him home and make sure he stays there."

Donna nodded, "Yes, Sir."

*******

An hour later they were in Donna's car heading to Josh's apartment.
The meeting with the President had taken only ten minutes which ended with strict orders to go home and rest. The rest of the hour was spent with Josh poking his head into everyone's office to say hello.
Donna glanced over at Josh to see he had his eyes closed. Sleep was the best thing for him. He had been unusually quiet ever since they had gotten into the car and Donna knew that this day had taken a lot more out of him than he had let on.

Lyman jerked away when she turned off the engine and opened the door.
Actually she couldn't tell if it was the actual cutting off of the engine that jared him away or the annoying short beeps that sounded indicating that she had opened the door before pulling the key out.
Donna quickly pulled out the key and exited the car.
She moved around the front and opened the passenger door to help Josh out.

Josh instantly batted her hand away, "I'm not an invalid, Donna! I can get out of the car myself!"

"Okay,"Donna replied quietly backing away but being close by in case he needed her.

As he struggled to get out of the car Josh instantly regretted snapping at her. She was only trying to help. He was just so tired of this whole mess. He wanted his life back....he wanted to move without sharp stabs of pain. Once the door was closed Josh placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, "I'm sorry I snapped at you."

Donna smiled, "It's okay, you're entitled. I probably would react the same way if it had happened to me."

Josh reached up and tenderly brushed a stray blonde hair away from her face, "I just thank God that you weren't there, Donnatella."He said softly.

Donna reached up and touched his shoulder briefly before quickly breaking his intense gaze, "Let's get you inside. I can just hear Leo if I let you catch pneumonia."

*******

Josh glanced around his apartment the place felt alien to him. It had been so long since he'd spent any kind of time in it. Then there was the town hall meeting and he'd spent nothing but staring at the stark four walls of the hospital.
Now he was back here as if nothing had happened.
But it had.....and Josh wondered if he was ever going to be able to get past it. With a sigh he sank wearily down onto the sofa and gingerly planted his feet on the small coffee table.

"Not there!" Donna reprimanded him gently as she stood in front of the coffee table coat in one hand stack of mail in the other. "It's bed for you....President's orders."

Josh didn't open his eyes, "Donna, I've spent the last four weeks lying on my back in a hospital bed. The last thing I want to do is lay in mine."

"Fine,"Donna replied as she set the mail down next to him. "But don't blame me if you wake up tomorrow in an odd position....."

Josh's eyes opened, "I don't think a stiff neck will be the most of my problems tomorrow."

Donna nodded kicking herself mentally for making such a stupid statement, "Are you hungry?"

Lyman extended a hand toward her, "Yeah, but I don't think there's anything in the fridge except rotten milk and stale pizza. Come here,sit down."

Donna took his hand and sat down next to him. She turned slightly so she was facing Josh waiting for him to continue.

Josh stared at her for a long moment. Wondering how he had never noticed before how beautiful she was, "Sam told me that you were there the entire time that I was in surgery."

Donna nodded her throat closing up at the memory, "Leo sent a car for me. I had fallen asleep when I got home so I had missed the news. So when Leo told me what happened...."

"You've been a good friend, Donnatella Moss," Josh replied softly his hand still gripping tightly to hers. "I don't think I could've gotten through the last month without you or your visits."

Donna smiled, "It was very dull around the office without you."

"If nothing else being shot gives one a new perspective," Josh replied quietly struggling to block out the memories that were trying to come back. "And being in the hospital gives one a lot of time to think. I need you in my life, Donnatella."

"What about Joey?" Donna asked her voice barely above a whisper.

"We talked last week when she came by to visit," Josh replied quietly.
"And we both agreed that we were better friends than anything else. It wasn't working out long before the shooting and we both realized that."

Donna nodded her eyes starting to fill with tears, "Josh....."

Lyman framed her face with his hands, "I know with us working together a relationship could be tricky. But I think what we have is worth the risk. What do you say, Donnatella?" Josh whispered. "Do we have a future?"

Tears flowed freely down Donna's face as she nodded, "I love you,Joshua. I think I have since the day I met you."

Josh tenderly wiped away her tears as he leaned forward, "I love you too."He stated softly just before his lips captured hers.


End