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"Split Second" By Cindy


"Split Second"
By Cindy Brewer cindybre74@aol.com

Author's notes: The character of Thomas Moss belongs to me. And I wrote this before the second season premire aired.


Lieutenant Thomas Moss was exhausted as he trudged wearily into his quarters. The red haired young man dropped his gear unceremoniously on the floor and collapsed face first onto his bunk not bothering to take his boots off.

Iraq had been moving their artillery around in the last few weeks that meant Thomas and the rest of the pilots had been working overtime flying more missions than normal to protect the no-fly zone.
Just when sleep had been about to overcome Thomas there was a sharp knock on the door.

"What?"Moss asked more sharply than he had intended to.

Lieutenant j.g. Mark Johnson poked his head into the room. "Sorry, Tom, I know you just got back but I know your sister works at the White House."

Cold icy fear raced up Tom's spine as he shot up from the bunk. "What happened at the White House?"Moss demanded as he stalked over to the blond man in his twenties.

"Well it wasn't exactly at the White House...."Johnson began awkwardly as he entered the room and closed the door behind him.

"Mark....."Tom said warningly not liking the possible scenarios his overworked mind was coming up with. "This is my baby sister we're talking about so stop beating around the bush and tell me what the hell happened!"

"There was a shooting."Johnson replied as he sat down on the small trunk at the foot of Moss's bed.

"Where?"Moss asked hoarsely as he turned to face his friend.

"Bartlet was giving one of his town hall speeches at the Newseum in Arlington."Johnson replied still not quite believing the newscast he had watched barely twenty minutes before. "Some nutcase started shooting at The President and his staff as they left. Bartlet's unhurt but nobody knows anything else there's been a media blackout."

Thomas leaned back against the wall shocked by what he was hearing. He was supposed to be the one shot at it was part of his job, not his sister.

"Was Lyman there?"Tom asked shakily knowing that if the Deputy Chief of Staff had been there his sister wasn't far away.

Johnson shrugged. "All the news report said was that most of Bartlet's senior staff and his daughter had been at the meeting."

Tom swallowed hard as he glanced at the small clock on the wall. "I've got a flight in four hours can you take it for me? I've got to try to get through to D.C."

"No problem."Mark replied as he stood. "I hope she's okay."

"She has to be."Tom whispered struggling to get a reign on his fear as he turned and left his quarters.

*********

In the carrier's communication room it took Thomas four tries to get through to his parent's house in New York. Another five long minutes before his mother could locate the direct White House number Donna had given them when she first started working there. His mother told him that she had been trying that line and hadn't been able to get through.

Tom assured his mother that Donna was fine and probably just swamped with work and hadn't yet had a chance to call.

After hanging up Moss gave the young black haired ensign the phone number.

"It's busy, Sir."The young man replied after a few moments.

"Keep trying."Moss ordered as he leaned against the back of an empty chair for the first time in his career wishing he wasn't stuck on a carrier in the middle of the Persian Gulf. His sister needed him and he couldn't do a damn thing except make a phone call.

"Yes,Sir."The ensign replied as he straightened his headphones and dialed again.

**********

An hour later they still hadn't been able to get through to Washington. The Ensign turned to face Moss placing the headphones around his neck.

"You don't have to stay here, Sir."The youth offered. "I can page you as soon as I get through."

Thomas shook his head. "My sister could be hurt somewhere. I'm not moving until I know she's okay."

The Ensign nodded as he replaced his headphones. "Yes, Sir."He turned back to Moss. "You do know it's three a.m. in D.C., right?"

"I don't think anybody's getting any sleep tonight, Ensign."Tom replied grimly.

The Ensign turned his attention back to the consol in front of him and he dialed the number again.

*********

Donna Moss sank wearily down into her chair in the communications bullpen of the West Wing of the White House.
It'd been a hell of a night and it looked like the day wasn't going to be any better.
Most of the Senior Staff had thankfully been unhurt but they were still waiting to hear on those who had been taken to the hospital.

Charlie had been hit in the right shoulder
Sam had been shot in the stomach while trying to protect C.J.
Toby had several cracked ribs and a broken collar bone.

She glanced at her boss as he sat behind his desk trying to do spin control. Josh hadn't said a word to her about the shooting and that worried her.
Donna knew he was worried about Sam who was still in surgery....she just wished he would talk to someone if not her.

Suddenly the phone at her desk rang causing her to jump three feet.

"Hello?"Donna greeted wearily.

"Thank God."A familiar voice replied. "You have no idea how worried I've been about you, Donnakins."

"Tommy!"Donna exclaimed as she recognized her older brother's voice. "I'm sorry I should've called you."

"Are you alright?"Moss asked as he leaned against the wall pressing the phone tighter to his ear.

"I wasn't there."Donna replied softly as she turned to look at Josh.

"That doesn't mean you weren't affected by it."Tom countered worried about the strain he heard in her voice. "Lyman's okay isn't he?"

Donna nodded. "Yes......oh Tom, it's been such an awful night. Two of my friends were shot...."

Tom closed his eyes hating the fact that his sister had to be exposed to violence like this. "Are they okay?"

Donna sniffled the tears starting to flow again. "Charlie's okay the bullet only grazed his shoulder. But Sam's still in surgery......"

"Donna, I wish I could tell you that everything will be fine."Tom replied quietly.

"I know."Donna whispered as she reached for a kleenex. "I'm glad you called...you don't know how good it is to hear your voice."

"I just wish I was closer."Tom replied as he pushed himself away from the wall. "Call Mom and Dad as soon as you hang up with me they're very worried about you."

Donna nodded. "I tried earlier but the line was busy."

"I'm sorry but I have to go."Tom stated with frustration. "I have a flight in ten minutes."

"Please be careful."Donna pleaded after everything that had happened that night she couldn't bear it if her brother was hurt as well.

"Always."Tom replied with a grim smile. "I'll try to call you tomorrow to see how you're doing."

"Thank you for calling tonight."Donna stated knowing how many favors he had to pull in.

"You're my baby sister, Donna."Tom replied quietly. "I'll always be here when you need me. I gotta go.....talk to you soon."

"Bye."Donna said quietly as she hung up.

"You okay?"Kathy asked as she approached her friend's desk.

"Yeah."Donna replied as she stood seeing the stack of papers in the dark haired woman's hand."What do you need?"

Kathy handed her half the stack. "Leo wants Josh to double check this draft."

"Okay."Donna replied as she started toward Josh's office. She paused and turned back to her friend."Any news on Sam?"

For the first time all night Kathy smiled at the mention of her boss's name. "Hospital just called. Sam came out of surgery just fine. The doctor's expect him to make a full recovery."

Donna closed her eyes briefly. "Thank God."She replied quietly."Do you think things will ever be the same?"

Kathy shook her head sadly. "No."

"Neither do I."Moss replied as she turned and walked slowly toward Josh's office. "But I was hoping they would be."


End.