Author's Notes: I so love West Wing. I cried my eyes out when Josh got shot in Season 2. This is post-In The Shadow of Two Gunmen (Parts I and II).

Opalish. I heart you. That is all.

More Than Words

There is a rip of pain, and lighting strikes before his eyes. He thinks that he's never been this close to death and wonders, as the vibrant lights and sounds of life fade from his mind, if he's ever been more frightened.

Darkness closes in on him, even as he clings to the light, and for a moment all he can do is imagine life as a dead man, floating through the rooms of the White House and waiting, praying, longing for someone to reach out and shake his hand; dreaming of the soft touch of a metal door handle beneath his solid skin; imagining his heart beating within his chest as he talks into the phone with his own hand clutching the receiver.

Donna always got annoyed when he answered his phone if she was in the room. He thinks he loves Donna, and maybe he always has. It seems simple, now, when his heart isn't pumping blood and his brain isn't cluttered with thoughts and words and the constant ringing of phones. His feelings are laid out in front of him, in a row, and it seems that Donna's right up front.

It's funny, he thinks, that she seems to slide so easily into his day-to-day life. It's amazing because her movements are so fluid and graceful and it's simple, really, that he should love her.

He thinks that if he makes it through this, he might tell her. He might smile at her, and she might grin back with her full, red lips and maybe he'll just kiss her. He thinks that sometimes, there are some emotions that need to be expressed with more than words.

ooOOooOOoo

He goes back to work, laying on a special bed and nursing himself back to health. Donna sits beside him, her hand resting absently on his leg while she works, and he knows that he loves her, and he's always loved her, and he opens his mouth to tell her this, but she's already getting up and leaving him alone.

He stares at her through his window. She is speaking with C.J., gesturing wildly with her hands, and he says, "By the way, Donna, I love you."

She doesn't answer and he knows she doesn't hear.