Pendency - The quality or state of being undecided, or in continuance; suspense
May 22, 2002
“I’ve got to go.”
“Josh?” Amy reached out for his arm but was quickly shrugged off as Josh hung up the phone.
“I’ve got to go to the office.”
“What happened, J? Is CJ……?”
“She’s okay. She wasn’t with him.” Amy could see the emotions boiling just under the surface.
“Sit down. Talk to me.” Amy was a little startled by the harsh humorless laugh Josh replied with as he pulled his bag and coat from the chair.
“We’re done talking.”
“We’re not. We should be able to talk, J.”
“You’d think.” He mumbled as he pulled his coat on and pulled his new cell phone from his pocket.
“We can.” Amy insisted as she followed him to her door. She reached out for his arm again and in frustration he turned around and faced her.
“We can’t! We don’t talk Amy. We…we spar!” He took a deep breath and looked at the floor. “Look, I’m tired. I won’t do this anymore. Goodbye.”
“I’ll call you to……”
“Don’t. We’re done.”
“What?!” When Josh didn’t reply Amy advanced a few steps toward him. “So that’s it?! You get me fired and now you’re breaking up with me?”
“I think you had more to do with losing your job than I did. You played the game and lost.”
Josh lifted his hand and cut off her tirade before it could begin.
“Look! I’m done. We’re done. A man was shot and killed tonight and I need to be with…….”
“Who J? Donna? You need to be with Donna?” Josh glared at her and then smiled.
“Yes. I do.” He didn’t give her time to comment. He pulled the door closed behind him and took the steps two at a time to his car. He pressed the first speed dial number on his phone and waited for Donna to pick up.
July 28, 2002
“Here’s the stuff you wanted on the…….” Josh quickly took the folder from her hand and started thumbing through its contents.
“What the hell is this? I didn’t ask for all……”
“Don’t snap at me.”
“All I wanted was the……”
“Don’t snap at me, Josh. I’m tired too and I’ll not take being snapped at by you or anyone else.”
not snapping.” He snapped.
”You are!” Calming her nerves, Donna sighed and looked at the floor. “I’m going home.” She made a move toward her desk but Josh blocked her path.
“I’m sorry.” She sidestepped and tried to get around him to her coat. “I’m sorry, Donna. Please.” He reached out and took her arm in his hand and pleaded for her to look at him.
“It’s late. I want to go home.” Josh stopped and regarded her for a moment. She looked to be on the verge of tears. His heart sank to his stomach at the sadness and stress on her face.
“I’ll drive you.” His voice was soft and soothing.
“I can take the train. I’m fine.”
“Donna.” He lifted her chin with his hand and offered her a sincere smile. “I’m sorry for snapping. It wasn’t you. I just got off the phone with Bruno. I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. Please, I’m sorry.” Josh saw a small tired smile settle across her face.
“Let me put this in my backpack and I’ll take you home.”
“We can order a pizza and go over it at my place.” Josh gave her a bright smile and nodded.
“That sounds nice.”
September 15, 2002
“I want the damn numbers! Somebody better get the damn numbers on my desk in five minutes or I’m gonna…..”
“Shut up, Josh! I’m on the phone!” Donna hurled her pink and purple Koosh ball at his head before returning her attention to the phone. Josh caught the ball right before it hit him in the side of the head. He stared at Donna and then at the ball in his hand. A smirk settled across his face as he hurled the ball in the direction it came from.
Donna felt the thud between her shoulder blades and turned to see Josh retreat to his office.
“I’ll call you back.” She dropped the phone back in its cradle and walked swiftly to her file cabinet. She pulled out the ‘R-S’ drawer and slid a folder from the back of the drawer. In her distinctive handwriting it was labeled ‘Revenge’. She pulled the water pistol from the manila file and hurried to the restroom. Walking back through the bullpen with the day-glo green plastic Super Soaker held up by her head, she gave warning looks to all she passed. She slowed her steps and waited just outside of Josh’s door. She saw Sam walk toward her and with a shake of her head he veered off toward CJ’s office. She knew he could only last a few more minutes. Anytime now. Patience was a virtue.
“DONNA! I want the damn num……..” Like every cop movie she’d ever seen, she burst through his door and fired.
“STOP! Are you CRAZY!?!”
Donna’s aim was right on mark. Every time he opened his mouth, she filled it with water. When he tried to shield his face with his hands, Donna would only aim for his crotch. Soon he couldn’t catch his breath he was laughing so hard. He managed to advance toward Donna, but only after suffering a thoroughly soaked crotch and water up his nose. With his last bit of strength, he dove. Between her squeals and his laughter, he wrenched the plastic weapon from her hands and started chasing her around the bullpen.
“This is war Donnatella! WAR!”
CJ shook her head as Sam laughed.
“How long do you think she can keep him busy?”
“Well, come on. Let’s give Joey some warning. She’s got an hour before Josh crawls up her ass again.”
October 18, 2002
“Okay, anything else?”
“No sir.” Josh shook his head as he stood up from the couch in Leo’s office.
“No sir.” CJ jotted a few more notes before looking up and smiling.
“No sir.” Toby mumbled as he pointed out a typo to Sam.
“Oh, one more thing.” Leo took his glasses off and leveled his gaze at Josh. Josh looked around and then tried to look as innocent as possible.
“As much as Bruno appreciates your help, he wants the emails to stop.”
“What emails?” Toby asked. CJ and Sam just smirked while Josh tried to keep the look of innocence.
“He doesn’t need any help picking out a song to play during the President’s acceptance speech.” He pulled his gaze from Josh and pinned it on CJ and Sam who were trying to suppress their laughter. He leaned forward on his hands and turned to Josh again.
“Of course, I’m sure that last recommendation of ‘Oops, I Did It Again.’ By Brittany Spears made his job that much easier.”
“I’ll tell Donna.” Josh squeaked out as he bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing in the Chief of Staff’s face.
“You do that. Get out.”
November 2, 2002
“How long is this flight again?” Josh whined as CJ settled into her seat.
“Four hours.” Sam answered while Toby set up his laptop on the table. Donna tossed her tote bag on the floor by Josh’s feet before turning to leave the cabin.
“Where are you going?”
“Coffee. I need coffee.” She mumbled. She hadn’t slept in 35 hours and it was starting to catch up with her. This campaign seemed more exhausting than the first in spite of the comforts of motorcades and Air Force One.
“Can I have some to?” Josh asked with a small smile.
“Sure.” The room fell silent. Josh waited for the sarcastic comeback. “I’ll be right back.” Was all she mumbled as she walked blindly through the door.
“Josh.” Toby gave Josh a look and Josh was quickly on his feet.
“Donna!” He called quickly causing her to turn.
“What are you doing?”
“I…uh….I think I’m getting coffee.”
“No. You’re exhausted. You’re going to get some sleep. The last thing you need is more coffee.”
“But we’ve got work we have to…..”
“Donna, you just offered to bring me coffee.” A moment of clarity passed over Donna’s tired face. Then Josh saw the tears glisten in her eyes. CJ stood to help Donna back to her seat. Josh pulled Donna to his chest and hugged her while her tired mind released weeks of exhaustion and stress. Donna rarely cried in front of people, but the last few months had been excruciating. The schedule they kept and the hours the staff had worked would fell any normal person after a few days. They’d kept the pace for months and Donna was with them every step of the way.
Josh wiped Donna’s silent tears from her cheeks with his thumbs and then led her to one of the large couches. Toby pulled a blanket from the overhead compartment and waited for Josh to settle Donna on the couch.
“Sleep, Donnatella.” He placed a small kiss on her forehead and within a few breaths she was asleep.
“Have you talked to her yet?” Toby asked in a whisper.
“About what’s going to happen to her after re-election.”
“What could happen to her?” Josh asked confused.
“Well, if we don’t win, I’m sure she’d like to know where her rent check will be coming from.”
“We’re going to win, Toby.”
“So I take that as a ‘no.’” Josh scrubbed his hands over his face and sighed. He hadn’t talked to Donna. He didn’t know what to say. He knew what he wanted to say but the words wouldn’t come. They’d been so busy and he hadn’t really made an effort to talk to her about it. He looked over at her sleeping and sighed.
“Talk to her Josh. You know she’s been thinking about it.”
“What are you going to do if we don’t win?” Josh kept his eyes focused on Donna’s face and smiled.
“Whatever it is, I hope she’s with me.”
November 4, 2002
Donna grabbed her purse and rushed toward the exit while Josh rattled off his last minute instructions. She stopped for just a moment when her phone rang.
“Go! I’ll answer it. Don’t let them give you any shit Donna!”
“I work for you! I won’t let you give me shit, much less some congressman’s aide.”
“That’s my girl!” Josh laughed as Donna waved her way from the bullpen. He picked up her phone while pulling a file from her desk.
“Josh, I thought I would get Donna’s desk.” Josh stopped mid motion at the male voice he didn’t recognize.
“This is Donna’s desk. She just left. Can I help you?”
“This is Casey Reed. I just want to talk to Donna about something. If she can call me when she gets back, I’d appreciate it.” Josh stared at a point on her desk for a few seconds before finding his voice again.
“I’ll tell her.”
“Thanks, and good luck tomorrow.”
“Yeah, thanks.” Josh hung up the phone and stared at her desk again. His eyes caught sight of a small picture frame on the corner of her desk. He traced his finger over the two of them smiling into the camera. Sam took the picture during a ballgame two years ago. The same picture is on his mantle at home. He took a deep breath and wrote the short phone message on a post-it and stuck it on Donna’s computer. He made a mental note to find time to talk to Donna as he walked sullenly back to his office.
November 5, 2002
Josh paced around the hotel suite like a caged lion. CJ was on one of the couches with the First Lady while Leo and the President reviewed the speeches Toby and Sam had written.
“Josh! Stop pacing! You’re making me nervous.” CJ called across the room. Josh just scowled at her as he watched the televisions for voting results.
“Josh, we’ve got two more hours before anything remotely useful comes in. Find somewhere to….to….not pace.” Sam offered with a tired smile.
“Yeah, fine.” He looked around as if he were lost. CJ looked up and recognized the look. Before Josh had a chance to open his mouth and yell, she spoke.
“She’s in her room. I saw her go down the hall a few minutes ago.” Josh nodded and headed out of the suite to the room Donna and Ginger had rented for election night. He fished around in his pocket for his and Donna’s card keys. They always got two keys and made sure the other had one. He knocked lightly on her door and waited for it to open. When he was greeted with silence he swiped the card through the lock and on the third try opened the door. The room was empty, or so he thought. He was about to turn to leave when he heard a noise coming from the bathroom. Stepping closer, he could tell it was Donna and that she was crying. He knocked softly on the door before pushing it open.
“Donna?” Donna turned her back to him and wiped at her eyes.
“What are you doing here Josh?”
“I was looking for you.”
“What do you need?”
“I…uh….I just want to talk…….What’s wrong?”
“Donna, you’re crying. Talk to me.” He took a step closer and turned her around so she was facing him. He ducked his head so he could see her face but she kept her eyes rooted to the floor.
“What if we don’t win?” She whispered through another small sob. Josh took a deep breath and pulled her to his arms. He silently cursed himself for not talking to her sooner. He tightened his hold around her shoulders and felt her arms slide around his waist. He slowly rocked her back and forth before placing a kiss on the top of her head.
“Not doing this sooner.” He sighed and leaned back against the counter. She stepped between his legs and he slid his hands down her arms before threading his fingers with hers. “Tonight’s going to change everything.”
“Not if we win.” She whispered.
“Even then. We’ll be a second term administration. Things won’t be as hard. Perspectives will change. Things won’t have to be done the same way as before.”
“Josh?” Josh absently rubbed his thumb across her knuckle as he pulled her a fraction closer.
“Donna, if we lose tonight, I want us to……I don’t want you to leave me.” He swallowed the lump in his throat and hoped she could read his mind like she always had.
“I made that mistake once, remember?”
“Yeah. But you came back to me.”
”What if we win, Josh? Things stay as they were?” Donna’s wide blue eyes were still shining with unshed tears as she looked to him for the answers she needed. He licked at his lower lip and shook his head.
“No. They can’t stay the same.” He released one of her hands and slid it to her hip. He pulled her closer and tilted his head. He closed his eyes and moaned at the softness of her lips. Their kiss remained soft and sweet. Donna pulled away and gave him a small smile.
“You just kissed me.”
“In the hotel bathroom.”
“I’m romantic like that.”
”We should get back to the President.” Donna made no effort to move and Josh smiled.
“Don’t worry about tomorrow, Donna. We’ll be fine.” Donna squeezed his hand and nodded.
“I know. We’ll be just fine.” Josh pushed himself off the counter and waited while Donna wiped her eyes with a tissue. Once she fixed her make-up he led her by the hand from the hotel room and back to the suite the staff was using to wait for the election results. Josh held the door for Donna. CJ looked up from her notes and smiled as Josh reached for her hand again. Toby caught CJ’s wistful gaze and offered her a knowing smile. Abbey nudged Jed lightly in the ribs as Josh and Donna walked passed them.
“Looks like he finally talked to her.” Abbey whispered as she pointed toward Josh.
“Looks like things went well.” The President stated as he took off his glasses.
“Yeah, it does.” Leo smiled.
“Once we win, will that be a problem?”
“Not if I can help it. They’ll be fine.”
“Good. They deserve some happiness.”
“We all do, sir.”
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