By Tori Morris
Disclaimer: They're not mine. They're never mine, but ask nicely and I share.
Author's Note: I told myself, "I'm never writing fanfic again. I told myself, I can go out and write a new novel, with actual original characters and a plot. But obviously I don't have the willpower to stay away from fic. It's a horrible addiction, you know.
Thoughts: It's AU, Donna POV. Annoyingly, it's almost like a sequel to Cartography, although not really the same.
It's 12:00 when I slide the shoe box out from underneath my dresser, and David is in the nursery down the hall. Even from here, I can hear the faint sound of lullabies as I open the box. Air comes out of it suddenly, with a faint woosh, rustling the papers into a lyrical sound and familiar scent of aging papers.
I rustle my hands through them, feeling the weight and texture of each. Each is important to me. The items I would save if, god forbid, the house ever burnt down.
The first few are photos, recent ones, and documents of my now life, and as I think that, I wonder when my life became divided into threes. Before, then and now, like some leering, presiding trilogy of maiden, mother and crone.
Before, then and now are goddesses of some ancient culture now, and a year ago, five years ago, they would have been Supreme Court Justices.
Marie's baby photos, and her arm band pronouncing her a healthy five pounds, three ounces. A little small, but perfectly healthy, and she's red faced frozen, each little stubby finger visible from underneath the blue blanket-bought for a boy. A note from her grandmother, now gone, to give to her on her sixteenth birthday.
Below that, are the expedition photos. The honeymoon and the wedding, the picture snapped by David's best friend of my shocked face when he proposed. My graduation from Harvard, a diploma paid for in part by a President, and in part by a dead man. All happy, all current.
David enters the room softly, and takes off his glasses, sticking them on the night stand. I'm looking at old papers, spread all over the bed.
"What's this?" He asks, as I spread the remaining papers out on the floral bedspread. He watches as I life a heavy book out of the bottom of the box, a few more papers and then I cease.
"These papers...are important to me. They define my life. I like to look at them, to remind me where I have been and where I am going." I explain and he nods, a scientific nod. He's an archeologist, my David, and he can understand the value of a sheet of paper.
He reaches for the book with one hand, and with the other, he slides his glasses back on his nose and little strands of blonde hair fall into his eyes and he brushes them away swiftly, all as he kneels down on the other side of our bed, to be closer to me. I capture it all in my mind. "The Art and Artistry of Alpine Skiing?" He ponders. "You don't know how to ski."
"Yeah. I wanted to learn, but," I wave my hand, to indicate a flown plan, and the eddies rustle the papers slightly.
"You never did?" He finishes.
"Exactly." And he smiles. He has a beautiful smile, and then he bends down over the book. There's no crack of the spine when it opens-it was well worn when Josh gave it to me, and I can only ponder that he though an ancient book on skiing would be the perfect gift, and how he could have gotten it so right. He was rather infamous for his terrible romances, but for all that, he gave a great gift.
"To my dearest Donnatella," David reads, tracing the words I had memorized and still knew, in a loud explaining voice he used when translating dead languages. "So, this is my gift, a ratty book. Deal with it." David smirked and then continued. "Look at me, I'm the world's greatest screw up, but for all that, you still manage to want to be near me everyday, and everyday I try to fathom how good God was to me that day in New Hampshire." He says, and he slurs God, to represent the dash Josh always put there instead of an O. He said it was habit, but I think it was more.
"And to this day I'm left wondering, because I always thought He takes the beautiful angels away, but you're still here. I thought I lost you once, and you came back. He rarely gives me those second chances." And David's voice is softer now, than it was before.
"So, on this most wonderful holiday, I say to him, and to you, thank you for that second chance. I don't know where I'd be without you." David pauses and then reads, "Josh Lyman."
I smile and nod, and wipe a little tear out of the corner of my eye that springs up unexpectedly. David says nothing, and then, "Isn't Joshua Lyman the boss you worked for? The one who died and left all his money to you?"
I nod. "Yeah. Today was his birthday, you know. He would have been forty eight."And I start to put the papers away. The picture of me and him at the ball, me and him at his house working on some long forgotten file. The copy of his will leaving me what little money Josh had left, and copies of the eulogies that were in the papers. I had a note written by him for me, per his death, telling me to go to college, and marry the right guy. His words, 'not a gomer', and then the joke, 'You'd better know what I mean, because if you're reading this I'm not going to be there to explain.'
"He loved you." David states, and I nod, in control of myself again. I look at him carefully, to see how he feels now. He always knew Josh paid some of my way through college, that President Bartlet secretly added cash to the fund to make it last when he thought I wouldn't notice. I never won a Nobel Prize, but it's pretty obvious when one day you have twenty thousand dollars, and one twenty the next.
"I think he did." I say, closing the top to the now full box.
"Did you love him?" David asks carefully, and I look again, to see what is on his face. Only curiosity, fortunately. He knows in the bottom of my heart that I love him.
"Yeah, I did." I answer truthfully and slip the box down below my night stand, to bury away the papers of yore.
"Ok." He says softly, acceptingly, as he slides into bed. I watch, and give the box one last push. And then I snuggle into bed with my husband and he wraps his hands around my middle, while I dream of the cherubim of now, the gilded angels of then and the ancient wisdom gained from the ones before.