Disclaimer: I do not own any of the "West Wing" characters, which belong to A.Sorkin.
It's a middle of the night and I am sitting in the Residence's living room cradling my sleeping daughter in my arms. Even if Zoey had wanted to sleep in her own bedroom I don't think I would have been able to let go of her. After all those hours of hopelessness… Now I can admit to myself that in the deepest part of my heart I thought we'd lost her, that we would never see her again. Of course I did not let myself even think it but the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach was just that. But now it all does not matter. Because my baby is with me, in my arms and I will keep her safe from now on. No matter what it would cost me. I really mean it this time: medicine, my marriage and the White House can just take a back seat. For once I will be just a mother. Something I've never done in my entire life.
My daughter's soft whisper interrupts my thoughts.
She keeps calling this name and her good hand is moving as if trying to reach something. I grab her fingers and start making soothing noises rocking her slightly like I used to do when she was a baby.
"Josh…" she whispers again, a small smile appearing on her face as she settles back into the sleep.
I keep holding her, my mind going at a speed of a hundred miles per second. Why is Zoey calling for Joshua Lyman? Is she calling for Josh Lyman? She must be because I've never heard of any other Joshes in her life. But why would she be calling for him after such ordeal? I could expect her calling for Jed or myself or perhaps Charlie, but Josh Lyman-the White House Deputy Chief of Staff? I look at her face, she looks so tired… There are deep circles under her eyes. I will have to keep an eye on her and figure out what Josh has to do with this.
Oh God, I cannot believe what just happened!! But it is true!! And there is nothing I can do to turn things back… I have just admitted to my mother that I love Josh Lyman, I admitted that I've been in love with him for the past 5 years!!
I don't know what forced this confession out of me. I've gotten pretty good in denying that I had any feelings for him and burying this part of my soul so deep that I convinced the world and sometimes myself that it did not exist at all.
After I got back everybody was walking around me on tiptoe. And if in DC I expected some tricky questions from some idiot reporter who would dare the wrath of my father, when we got to the farm I let my guard down. I felt so tired that all my most inner emotions came to the surface. I've been dreaming about Josh almost every night and sometimes even indulged in thinking about him during the day. I knew that time away from the White House would do me good and I could rebuild the walls around these feelings so I could exist normally just as I was used to. But this morning it all went to hell.
My mother had been married to a politician for so many years not for nothing. She could trick anybody into feeling completely safe just to hit them with a baseball bat of a question. And this morning I became her target. We were just having pancakes for breakfast when she poured me coffee and asked point blank if I still had my crash on Josh.
The fact that she knew about it did not surprise me. I mean everybody who worked on the campaign knew about it. I was eighteen and thought I was hiding my feelings so well only to realise afterwards how obvious I was. I think even my father noticed though he'd never acknowledged it. But I grew out of it quickly and being a president's daughter gives you some perks, one of which is that you're unlikely to be teased about your past crash on a member of the White House Senior Staff.
What took me by surprise was that my mother was not freaking out. She told me very calmly that she heard me calling for him almost every night since my return. And that if I had any feelings for Josh it would be probably a good time to talk about it. This was so far from the reaction I expected that I went into a shock and gone temporarily insane, which resulted in my admitting to my mother that I'd long ago got over my crash on Josh and had fallen completely in love with him. Thank God, I managed to stop myself there and did not tell my mother anything else.
She did not even pretend to be surprised. I don't know what I expected. Lightning and thunder, perhaps? But all she did was nod and asked if Josh knew. I could not contain a snort. What did my mother think? That I would just go and tell Josh Lyman that I was head over hills in love with him? He was either going to have a coronary or run for the hills as fast as he could - and neither option was acceptable to me. I need Josh alive and well and I want to be able to see him without my agents dragging him in kicking and screaming.
My mother was not fazed by my sarcasm. She asked why not? I decided to nip this discussion in the bud and mention the one point that really makes everything else irrelevant. Everybody in DC knows about it so I was not rattling anything out. Josh loves Donna and Donna loves Josh. Whether they are aware of these feelings is another matter. I agree with most of the White House female staff that Donna knows exactly how she feels but Josh is oblivious. And of course there is this boss and assistant thing that stops one or both of them on acting on their feelings.
And here my mother surprised me again. She raised her eyebrows and stated that she highly doubted any of that was true. It was my turn to raise my eyebrows. In response she pointed out that Josh Lyman was a master politician and by everybody's admission the best strategist in DC. These skills required very refined abilities on reading people's feelings and thoughts. So it was simply impossible that he was blind to Donna's feelings especially considering that they spend 20 hours a day together and she actually lived with him for 3 months after the shooting. And if these feelings existed and were mutual it's ridiculous to think he could not get around boss and assistant thing. The guy manages on the daily basis to single-handedly manipulate the United States Congress and Senate.
I started to object that C.J. and the rest of the Senior Staff thought that Josh could be completely clueless when things came to relationships and feelings. But my mother was having none of that. She said that Josh did not have a good track record with women but the man was not dumb. And the fact that he was popular with women meant that he understood them. But even if both Josh and Donna were clueless they no doubt had heard the rumours about their relationship and if there was something there it would have opened their eyes.
What she was saying was something I've thought myself many times but hearing it from somebody else was making a difference. My mother gave me a look and decided that I had enough information to brood over. She kissed me and headed to the living room but stopped just short of the door.
"If you really love him Zoey, you need to tell him. If Josh Lyman is the man for you then you owe it to yourself at least to fight for your own happiness and not think about others. Sometimes you just have to be an egoist."
I don't think I've ever felt so awful in my life. With Joannie I was still a kid and I guess childhood makes it easier to cope with loss. After Illinois primary I had an election to run and no matter how heartless it sounds I did not have time to grieve. Then we moved straight into the White House, something I dreamt my whole life about. And I suppose losing a parent is what nature prepares us for. After Roslyn I was in pain, weak and ill but also so damn angry at these bastards who tried to kill my good friend and instead shot me that I was going to recover in the shortest possible time just to get back at them. Next Christmas my mind was buzzing so loud that I could not feel anything. And again my anger helped me, I went through hell and back during the three months of my recovery I was not giving up now. But today I don't know what I feel. I am too devastated to be angry, too lost. I am lost…
And the evening started so promising… After Zoey came back Amy and I decided to start over. In the immediate aftermath neither her nor me had time and today was the first night when we could spend an evening together. We went for a nice dinner and then ended up at my place. Sex was good as usual and then I fell asleep - all the exhaustion catching up with me. I woke up to the sound of sobs and saw Amy crying her eyes out next to me. I tried to comfort her but she pulled away and rushed to the bathroom. When she emerged ten minutes later she said we had to talk. And there it was… She said that she could not go on any longer without telling me. And perhaps it was selfish of her but she just could not carry on seeing me if I did not know. And then she told me. She told me that when we were dating she found out that she was pregnant. It was the fortnight when we were pulling at the opposite sides of the bill with Marriage Incentives. I won, Amy had to resign and next day "exercised her right to choose" as she put it. She said that it was her decision and she would learn to live with that but she could not keep lying to me and that she was sorry for everything.
I could not describe how I felt. Children were an alien concept to me. I mean I knew I wanted them at some point and perhaps sooner rather than later. But it never occurred to me that somebody would make a decision about my baby and I would not even know. And not just somebody but a woman I thought about having a serious relationship with. Amy robbed me of my right to at least know, to at least be involved in this decision and I knew straight away that I would never be able to forgive her. I think it was written on my face because she quickly left and I have not seen her since. It's been a week. And I don't think I am even close to getting my head around this. I am empty… And one thought keeps coming back into my head… Zoey would never have done that.