“Amy? What are you doing here?”
“Can’t a girl just drop by?” *What? I don’t have time for this. *
“I don’t have time, Amy. I’m nine kinds of late. Leo’s going to kill me as it is.”
“You’re going to the fundraiser in North Carolina?”
“Yes. DONNA!” Donna breezes into the room with a stack of folders in her hand. As she speaks she hands several at a time over to Josh.
“You’ve got to be at the Convention Center by four to make sure everything is set up. Sam and Toby will meet you and Leo there tomorrow morning with The President. You have several meetings scheduled for this afternoon and early tomorrow. The itinerary is in your bag. Josh, come on. You’re going to be late! Hi Amy.”
“I’m coming! Why aren’t you coming with me?” Josh asks Donna before he shoves the files into his backpack and spins around in a frantic circle. *I’m so freaking late! *
“We’ve already gone over this!” She calls over her shoulder as she leaves his office again.
“So you can talk to Senator Edwards then?” Amy asks as Josh shoves his arm into his suit jacket.
“What?” He looks up at Amy in confusion while Donna rushes back into the room.
“Your flight’s running on time so you have to leave in the next ten minutes or you’re not going to make it!” She holds his coat out for him to put on. She wiggles it from side to side motioning for him to hurry up.
“Josh!” *Good God, what now?!*
“What is it Sam? I’ve got to go!” Sam stands in the doorway and surveys the room.
“Leo’s downstairs about to have a stroke if you don’t hurry up. Hey Amy.”
“Hey.” Amy shifts out of the way while Josh moves around his office.
“Did he send
you here to tell me that?”
“Josh, this is an important issue that needs to be taken…..” Amy tries to interject into the chaos. Josh however hasn’t heard a word she’s saying to him.
“Fine. I’ve been told. Where are my notes on the thing? Donna!”
“I’m right here. They’re in your backpack. The note cards for the thing with Congresswoman Myrick are in green. She may be a Republican but she’s capable of reason so be nice.”
“Yes dear.” Amy raises an eyebrow at the casualness between Josh and his assistant.
“What time are you getting there tomorrow?” Josh looks at Sam who’s still standing in the doorway with his hands in his pockets.
“We’re scheduled to land at Charlotte-Douglas at 10:45 in the morning. The motorcade will take us straight there.”
“You’re meeting me at the Convention Center?”
“Yes. Josh you really….”
“I know. I know.” Josh spins in another circle, this time gathering his backpack and suitcase in his arms.
“Josh!” Donna screams from her desk.
* Dammit! * “I’m coming!”
“Josh you have to talk to Senator Edwards about the lack of funding for women’s…..” Amy tries to get his attention once more.
“Yeah, okay. Whatever. Donna!” Donna rushes back into his office.
“Your ticket is in your coat pocket. I’ve got to take care of the thing with CJ so I can’t ride with you to the airport.”
“Donna.” He whines. Amy crosses her arms over her chest.
“You’ll have to eat lunch on the plane. I put a sandwich in your backpack. Leo’s called twice. You better move or he’s going to have your ass.” Josh nods as he hoists his backpack over his shoulder. He swipes his hand through his hair and looks around his office again.
“What am I forgetting?” * God I’m so late. I haven’t stopped since 6:30 this morning. Leo’s going to have my ass. *
“All that’s left is to kiss your love goodbye.” Sam offers with a laugh. In his distracted rush, Josh nods.
“Right. Bye. See you tomorrow night.” Donna stands frozen as Josh leans over and quickly kisses her on the lips before rushing out of the door past Sam.
Sam looks at the stunned expression on Donna’s face. Then he notices Amy.
“Well, that was unfortunate. Expected, but unfortunate nonetheless.”
Josh stops mid stride. Leo looks at him like he’s lost his mind. Josh may very well have.
“Josh! Let’s go. We’re going to be late for the flight.”
“Oh my God.” Leo sees the look of panic in Josh’s face and is immediately concerned.
“Josh? Josh what’s wrong?” Leo takes him by the shoulders in an effort to make him focus.
“Josh!?” The color drains from Josh’s face when the reality of what he just did hits him.
“Oh shit. Shit, Leo. Shit.”
“What?! What did you do now?!”
“I just kissed Donna.”
“Shit. Come on, we’ll talk about it on the way. Let’s go.”
“How much trouble am I in?” Josh asks once he and Leo are settled into their seats on the plane. Leo doesn’t answer him right away. He fastens his seatbelt and motions for the stewardess.
“Can I have a bottle of water please?”
“Of course, sir.” Josh leans his head back on the headrest and closes his eyes.
“Just tell me. I screwed up didn’t I?”
“You want me to tell you as your boss or your father’s best friend?”
“Which is less painful?”
“Depends on your point of view.”
“You’re an idiot. You just can’t go around kissing your assistant goodbye in the White House.”
Josh sighs as he leans forward in the seat and rests his face in his hands.
“I know. I don’t know why I did that. How could I have done that!? Amy was standing right there!”
“That’s gotta leave a mark.” Leo allows a small smile to grace his lips as he looks past Josh out the window. As the stewardess brings Leo his water, Josh bolts upright in the seat with a panicked expression.
“What if she leaves me!? What if I’ve ruined everything!? What am I going to do, Leo?”
Donna manages to uproot herself from the floor after what seems like days. Amy had stormed out a few minutes before and Sam decided it was best to follow suit. She touches her fingers to her lips as she remembers the sensation of Josh’s mouth on hers. Before she gets lost in the memory her phone rings.
“Josh Lyman’s office.”
“Jo—Josh.” She stutters as her throat suddenly closes up.
“I……I mean…..I….Hell, Donna. I….” Donna clutches the phone tighter in her hands as Josh stumbles over his words. She should be saying something, anything to end this conversation. She can’t bear to hear him say he didn’t mean it. She’ll lose all hope if he actually says the words.
“Josh, you’ve got to make sure to take your luggage to the Convention Center tomorrow. You’re flying home with the President.” She can hear him swipe his hand over his face.
“Donna….yeah. Okay. Okay. I’ll call you when we get in. Tell Toby to make sure he calls Bruno about the….”
“Bye.” Donna hangs up the phone and stares at it for a long time. Sam watches her expression as she stares at her desk. He’s not sure if anything he could say to her would make sense. He sighs and walks back to his office.
“Now the strange thing about that is I thought you were talking about Amy.”
“Amy. The woman you’ve been seeing for the past few weeks.” Josh looks at Leo for a few seconds and then groans.
“Oh God. Amy. I forgot about Amy.” Leo fixes him with a meaningful look.
“Okay, I’m not your boss anymore.” Josh sighs again and leans back against the seat.
“I’m not going to like this, am I?”
“What would be the bigger tragedy in your life, Josh, losing Amy? Or losing Donna?”
“I can’t lose her Leo.” The look of fear on Josh’s face tells Leo what he needs to know.
“You need to tell Donna how you feel.” Josh swallows hard but the lump in his throat refuses to move.
“But what does that mean for…..I mean, I’m her…..”
“My wife lives in my house and I live in a hotel. Don’t make stupid mistakes, Josh. Quit lying to yourself and tell the woman you’ve been in love with for the past three years how you feel.”
“I’ll handle the ‘but’. It’s not going to be as bad as you think.”
“What if she doesn’t feel the same way?” Leo regards him with a fatherly look. The normally arrogant and egotistical Josh Lyman has suddenly become afraid and insecure.
“How do you know that? You can’t know that.”
“How was the kiss?” A smile flickers across his face as he remembers the taste of Donna’s lips.
“It happened a little fast.” Josh says with a smirk.
“Josh.” Leo’s tone makes Josh straighten a little.
“It was amazing.”
“Do you get the same feeling when you kiss Amy?” Josh lowers his head and whispers.
“Then there really isn’t anymore to talk about.”
“But what am I going to do about Amy?”
“I think you’ve pretty much done it.”
“Should I call her?”
“And say what?”
“Apologize, maybe. Something.”
“I wouldn’t do it now. I’d wait until you got back to DC.”
“Sounds like a good idea to me.”
“I thought it might. Now show me the notes on the Myrick meeting.”
“Donna.” Toby rocks on his heels while his hands are shoved firmly in his pockets. “Donna.”
“Huh?” Donna looks up startled. She looks back down at the floor and tries to take a deep breath.
“You okay?” She looks up again with a smile plastered across her face.
“I’m fine. Fine. I’ve got to get over to the pressroom and help CJ with the thing. Carol’s still at her doctor’s appointment and I promised I would help….”
“Sam told me what happened.” Donna avoids his gaze and gathers several stacks of folders in her arms.
“Nothing happened.” She tries to chuckle nonchalantly while walking as quickly as she can out of the bullpen.
“Donna.” Toby steps in front of her and blocks her path. He reaches out and places his hands on her arms.
“Why did he….He’s with…..” The tears start to well up in her eyes. She looks at Toby as if he has all the answers.
“Yeah, I’ve got to go help CJ.”
“Okay.” Donna wipes at her eyes as she leaves the bullpen. Toby watches her leave and then makes a mental note to call Josh.
Donna looks at the clock before answering her telephone. Her stomach drops when she notices the time. Only one person calls her this late at night.
“Hey.” Josh sits on the edge of the bed and listens to the silence on the other end of the phone.
“Leo and I just got back.” He holds his breath hoping Donna will speak to him.
“How did your meeting with Congresswoman Myrick go?” Donna tries to keep her voice even. She’s been in a haze since Josh left. CJ kept asking her what was wrong. She figured Toby finally told her after the briefing because CJ kept giving her a sympathetic look and muttering something about breaking knees.
“It went fine. You’re right. She’s nice.”
“Were you nice?”
“I was as sweet as pecan pie.”
“I find that hard to believe.” Josh laughs a little and the normalcy of their relationship seems to be seeping back.
“What? I was. Ask Leo.”
“Josh.” The tone in her voice is one Josh can’t ignore.
“I’m sorry if what I did today offended you.” Josh says in a rush.
“I…..I wasn’t offended.” She whispers. Josh takes a deep breath and sighs to fill the silence once again.
“Donna. Please don’t be mad at me.”
“I’m not mad.”
“I….I….Will you pick me up at the airport?”
“You don’t want to ride back in the motorcade?”
“Nah, it’s gonna be late. I want to go straight home. Will you come pick me up?”
“What about Amy?” And there it is. Her words hang in the air for a few minutes before Josh responds.
“Will you pick me up, Donnatella?”
“I’ll pick you up, Joshua.” A smile slides across her face at the relieved sigh on the other end of the phone.
“Sleep tight, Donna.”
“You too, Josh. See you tomorrow.”
Donna paces back and forth across the area in front of the press corps. CJ is chatting with some of the press while they wait for the President to land. Margaret taps her on the shoulder and smiles.
“They’re on their way. They should be landing in about ten minutes.”
“Thanks Margaret. I’ll let CJ know.” Donna walks over to where CJ is leaning against the fence.
“Thanks.” Donna stands with her back leaning against the fence. She absently plays with the charm on her necklace as she looks into the evening sky.
Josh rubs his hand across the back of his neck as he exits the plane behind Leo and Toby. He’s tired. Actually he’s exhausted. The fundraiser was a success and his meeting went considerably well. Now all he wants to do is see Donna and go home. He descends the steps and follows Leo to the motorcade.
“I’m going to go.” Sam looks at him with confusion but doesn’t say anything. He can tell by the look that passes between Leo and Josh that there’s something he doesn’t know about.
“Is she here?” Leo asks with a look of concern.
“She said she’d pick me up.”
“Don’t screw this up.”
“See you in the morning.” Josh nods as he turns to scan the crowd. A smile spreads across his face when he catches site of her long blonde hair as it blows across her face. Before he can walk over to her, a very angry CJ Gregg blocks his field of vision.
“We need to talk.”
“Hey Claudia Jean. Miss me?”
“Don’t be cute with me, idiot boy. Do you know what you’ve done? She’s been a wreck since you left. How could you do that?!”
“CJ.” Both of them stop and look at Leo. His face is stern and fatherly. “Go home, Josh. See you in the morning.”
“But Leo, we’ve got to…..” CJ protests.
“Just remember what we talked about.”
“Yes sir. Thanks.” Josh hitches his backpack up higher on his shoulder and makes his way across the tarmac to Donna. Their eyes meet about halfway. A pain settles in Josh’s chest at the look of fear and uncertainty in Donna’s eyes. He has to reassure her. He offers her a warm dimpled smile. She soon returns it with a smile of her own. Josh reaches out his hand for her to take before he speaks.
“Yeah, have you got everything?”
“Yeah, let’s go home.” Josh still holds her hand as they walk through the airport and out to her car. She clicks the remote so Josh can put his bag and backpack in the trunk. She slides comfortably into the drivers seat while Josh slumps into the passenger seat with a groan.
“Tired?” She asks as she fastens her seatbelt.
“Yeah.” Donna puts her hands on the wheel and takes a deep breath. She feels like her heart will beat out of her chest if she doesn’t ask him.
“Josh? Why……” Donna’s words are cut off by Josh’s hand grasping the back of her neck and pulling her face to his. Donna can’t help the small squeak that escapes her throat as Josh captures her mouth with his.
Donna weaves her hand through his hair and sighs as his tongue parts her lips. Josh moans at the soft warmth of her mouth and tries to pull her closer to him but stops when he hears her gasp.
“What? What? I’m sorry.” He pulls back, breathless.
“The seatbelt. It’s….I’m still…..” Her thoughts are clouded by the smoldering look in his eyes. He lightly rubs his fingertips down her cheek and smiles.
“Let’s go home.”
“’kay.” She whispers as she turns in her seat and puts her hands on the wheel again.
“We’ll talk about it when we get home, Donnatella.” His voice is throaty and full of emotion. Donna shivers slightly at the tingling sensation that settles in her spine. She feels her cheeks flush as Josh rests his hand on the back of her seat and lightly fingers a few strands of her hair.
Josh looks over at her a few times during the drive and smiles. He can’t believe this is happening. He just kissed Donna. His assistant, that Leo said he wouldn’t kill him over, Donna.
“Are you staring at me?” Donna asks in a small unsure voice.
“Because you’re beautiful.” Thankfully, Donna turns on to Josh’s street. She’s not sure if she can handle higher motor skills while Josh is looking at her like that. She pulls into a parking spot a few houses down from his townhouse and takes a deep breath while she climbs out of the car. Josh waits for her to pop the trunk and then pulls his bags from the car. Donna tucks her head and smiles when Josh takes her hand and leads her up the steps to his apartment. Neither says a word as Josh unlocks the door and tosses his bag up against the wall in the entryway. Donna slides out of her coat and hangs in on the hook by the door. Josh does the same and then motions for her to sit down on the couch.
“So, uh…you think we should talk about this now?” Josh asks as he sits down on the couch beside her. Donna smiles as she notices that he’s sitting closer to her than he normally would.
“I think that would be a good idea, don’t you?” Josh can’t help but chuckle at the incredulous look on her face.
“Yeah, yeah. I think you’re right.”
“You kissed me. You kissed me right in front of your girlfriend!”
“Well, I don’t think she’s my girlfriend anymore.”
“Have you talked to her?”
“Josh, why did you kiss me?”
“I don’t know. I was in a hurry. I was running around. Sam said to….”
“You were supposed to kiss Amy!” Donna screams
“I don’t love Amy!” Josh shouts in return.
Silence hangs in the air as Donna stares at Josh. She feels her mouth go dry and can’t believe the events of the past two days. Josh reaches out and takes her hand. He’s about to speak when the phone rings.
“You need to answer that.” Donna says while Josh nods and rises to answer the phone in the kitchen.
“I don’t even deserve a phone call?” Josh rubs his eye and sighs heavily in the phone.
“What’s going on, J?”
“I was going to call you in the morning.”
“Yeah, I’m sure.”
“Yeah, I should have known how this was going to end. Goodbye, J.” Josh holds the phone away from his face and grimaces.
“Well, that went well.” Josh turns to see Donna standing in the entryway of the kitchen. Her eyes are wide and questioning. Josh hangs up the phone and walks toward her.
“Donna, I’ve talked to Leo. I told him…I told him…”
“You told him what?” Josh steps closer to her and slips his arm around her waist.
“I admitted….” Donna slides her hand to his chest and looks into his eyes.
“I admitted I’m in love with you.” Josh holds his breath while he waits for her reaction. A smile slides across her face as she threads her fingers through the back of his hair. She licks her lower lip in anticipation before pulling Josh’s face to hers.
Josh doesn’t recall how they made it to his bedroom. After Donna pushed him against the kitchen counter, everything became a blur of senses and emotion. He pushes himself up on his arm and looks down at Donna’s flushed face. Her breathing is ragged and he smiles at the sight of her.
“I guess this has been a long time coming.” He says as she shifts her body beneath him.
“Yeah.” Josh dips his head to capture her mouth again. He slides his hand up her side and gently pushes the material of her shirt out of his way. Donna takes a sharp intake of breath at the feel of Josh’s hands on her flesh. Surprise quickly turns to a moan of pleasure as Josh cups her breast in his hand. Donna’s mind is spinning. She can barely form a thought but she manages to let one thing scream through the passion induced haze.
“Wait. Josh, wait.” Donna pushes against his chest. Josh stills his hands and leans back to look at her.
“What’s wrong?” Donna pushes him up some more and starts to slide out from under him.
“We need to stop.”
“We’re moving to fast.” Donna rubs her hand through her hair and takes a deep breath.
“Too fast?” Josh reaches out for her hand in an effort to pull her back on the bed.
“We just….I mean….I don’t know what I mean.”
“See, you need to lie down.” Josh tugs on her arm while she laughs.
“No. I need to figure out what the hell happened.”
“I kissed you, confessed my love and now I’m trying to get you into bed.” Donna moans when Josh trails kisses down her neck as she sits on the edge of the bed. Donna feels the heat from his touch rising inside her. She takes a deep breath and pulls away. She manages to stand this time before Josh can reach out for her.
”I should go home.”
“What?!” Josh leaps from the bed in an effort to block her path to the door.
“I need to go home. This is going too fast.”
“No it’s not. My God Donna, we’ve been dancing around this for three years.”
“And you think that we should just leap into bed?!”
“YES!” Josh cries.
“You know your voice got freakishly high when you said that.” Josh slips his arms around Donna’s waist again and tries to reason with her.
“But Donna.” She closes her eyes and swallows in an effort to bring back any saliva in her mouth when she feels Josh’s erection pressed against her thigh.
“Jo-Josh, I don’t want to rush this. I don’t want to rush us. Please.” Her words are soft and pleading. Josh sees the sincerity in her face and brings his hand up to stroke her cheek.
“Okay. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pushed. It’s just…”
“I know.” She offers him a small smile. He leans forward and gently kisses the tip of her nose.
“Are you going to be okay getting home?” Donna rests her head on his chest after he pulls her into a tight hug.
“I’ll be fine.”
“Will you call me in the morning?”
“I always do.”
“I love you, Donna.” Donna sighs and squeezes her arms around his waist a little tighter.
I’d never hear you say that to me.”
”Get used to it.” Josh whispers as he kisses the top of her head.
“I should go.”
“See you tomorrow.” Donna releases her hold and walks slowly to the front door. Josh follows her and helps her slip on her coat. It’s not until her taillights disappear that he realizes she didn’t tell him she loved him in return.
Her hands tremble as she dials her cell phone. She knows it’s late. She knows she should just go home and go to bed. She’s even pretty sure Josh will call her in fifteen minutes to make sure she’s home safe. She holds the phone to her ear and waits for him to pick up.
“Are you going to be there for a little while?”
“Is it okay if I come by…..to talk?”
“Sure. I’ll be in my office.”
“Thanks.” Donna hangs up the phone and grips the wheel tighter than necessary. Within a few minutes, she pulls in to her assigned parking space at the White House.
She stands in his doorway a few moments before he looks up from his paper. She tries not to cry. She doesn’t know how he’ll react to the fact she’s crying.
“Donna?” Donna walks into his office and closes the door behind her. She leans back against his door and closes her eyes while the tears slide down her cheeks.
“Donna, tell me what’s wrong.”
“It’s too fast, Toby. It’s going too fast.”
Toby rises from his desk and walks over to Donna. He wonders if he should hug her or something to that effect. Ever since he told her about Josh in the waiting room, he’s had a special place in his heart for Donna. She’s strong, stronger than he ever would have imagined. He fumbles with the change in his pockets for a moment waiting for her to calm down. He finally reaches out to her and places a hand on her upper arm. Without hesitation, she leans forward and buries her head in his shoulder. Toby stiffens momentarily before bringing his hand up to her back.
“Tell me what happened.” Donna sniffles a little as she pulls away from his chest. She sinks down into his couch and stares up at the ceiling for a few minutes. Toby sits on the edge of his desk and waits for her to speak.
“Over three years, Toby. Three years of seedy hotel rooms during the campaign. Three years of twenty-hour days together. I lived with him for God’s sake. I took care of him. There were times I even fell asleep next to him after he had a nightmare. Three years, Toby and nothing! He didn’t see me. He never even saw me!”
“He saw you.” Toby adds softly.
“No he didn’t. Not like that. He didn’t see me. He saw Mandy. He saw Joey. He saw Amy Gardner! He ran after Amy Gardner like he was…. He was……”
“Ensorcelled.” He states as he rubs his hand across his forehead.
“Exactly! He was never ensorcelled by me, Toby. Never! And now, all of a sudden he’s in love with me?!”
“Did he tell you that?”
“Yes.” She sighs as she closes her eyes again and leans her head back on his couch.
“He’s telling the truth.”
“How can you say that? How can he suddenly be in love with me?!”
“There’s nothing sudden about it, Donna.”
“It seems pretty sudden.” She brings her hands up to her face and presses her palms against her eyes.
“Do you love him?” Donna sighs deeply and starts to cry again.
“Donna, do you love him?”
“Yes.” She whispers.
“Did you tell him?” Donna opens her eyes and looks at Toby. With a slight shake of her head, she answers him.
“I couldn’t. He doesn’t love me like that Toby. He can’t. He doesn’t see me like that.”
“Why do you think that?”
“I’m not his type. I mean, we’re friends. But I’m not….He doesn’t see me like that.”
“You’re not what?”
“He falls for smart, educated, powerful women. I’m just his assistant.” Toby feels his emotions bubbling to the surface. He fights down the urge to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her.
“He fell for you, Donna. Long before Amy. If I had to bet, I’d say he fell for you the minute you walked in to Nashua.” Donna lowers her head and answers him with a sarcastic snort.
“You really need to talk to him.”
“He never saw me.” She whispers as she rests her face in her hands.
“He always saw you Donna. Today he just had his eyes opened. Come on, I need a drink.”
“I need about twelve.”
“We can do that.” He reaches his hand out to her. She takes it and lets him help her from the couch.
“Get me drunk?”
“I shouldn’t love him. I mean, I do. But I shouldn’t. He’s my boss. My boss, Toby!” Donna finishes the last of her drink and slams the glass on the table a little harder than she means to.
“I’m aware of that. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.”
“You don’t know that! I was doing just fine. I was to-o-otally over him. It was a crush. That’s all, a crush. A stupid school girl cru…..crush.” Toby takes another sip of his drink as he watches Donna gesture with her hands while she speaks.
“I thought we could…..you know…..once. But, not now. I……I blew it. I ruined everything. I fucked up Toby and Josh had to fix it. He had to fix it.” Toby blows the smoke from his cigar into the air and fixes her with a curious look.
“You realize you swore just then.” He says with a chuckle.
“I did it. I fucked us up. It was all my fault. Ainsley said he was nice. He was. He wasn’t Josh, but he was…..and I…...I fucked us up.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I…..I can’t……Josh always fixes things. Even when he doesn’t know how much, he fixes things. He fixed me.” Donna leans her head on her hand and blows a few strands of hair from her eyes.
“I was broken, Toby. I was broke and broken.” She snorts at the recollection.
“When I found Josh. Michael…..<snort>…Dr. Freeride…..He took everything. My money, my heart, AC/DC Back in Black CD, my self-esteem. And then I went back to him like a……..Did Josh tell you about Dr. Freeride?”
“No. Who’s Dr. Freeride?” Donna lifts her head from its perch and regards him for a moment. Even in her drunken haze, it registers that Josh never told anyone about how she came to Nashua.
“He never told you?”
“He was…..he……you know what? It doesn’t matter. Josh saved me.”
“He loves you Donna. You saved him.”
“Stop saying that. He can’t love me. He was with Amy. He can’t just suddenly love me! It doesn’t work that way.”
“But you love him.”
“But I’ve lo…..loved him since the first day I saw him.”
“So has he.”
“He’s loved him since the first day I saw him?”
“Yeah.” Toby rubs his hand across his forehead and finishes off his drink. He looks at his watch and realizes he’s got to be at work in five hours. The soft thud of Donna’s head hitting the table reminds him that she has to be at work in four hours.
“Damn.” He fishes a few bills from his pocket and starts to formulate a plan on getting Donna home. He’s startled from his thoughts by his cell phone ringing.
“Yeah.” He answers in his normal agitated way.
“Donna’s not home.”
“You don’t say.”
“I can’t find her. She won’t answer her cell phone and I’m at her apartment and she won’t answer. I’ve been trying to find her for the last three hours! I’ve blown it, Toby. I’ve totally screwed this up.”
“He was never ensorc…..ensor…..bewitched by me.” Donna mumbles from underneath her drape of hair.
“Who was that?!” Josh screams into the phone. Toby sighs in the phone before answering Josh.
“Apparently she doesn’t feel she’s worthy of that title.”
“We’re at Callahan’s.”
“You and Donna?”
“No Josh. Me and the cast of Friends. They’re offering me a spot.”
“I’m on my way.”
“You really need to talk to her.”
Josh looks around the dark and smoky bar. He finally sees Toby and Donna sitting in a booth at the back. He feels his stomach lurch when he sees Donna’s red-rimmed eyes and disheveled hair. *Oh God, she’s been crying. *
“Hey.” Josh says with a nod toward Toby.
“How long have you guys been here?”
“For almost three hours.” Josh nods and slides in the booth beside Toby. Donna looks at him with her mouth open and then glares at Toby.
“You called him?! How could you call him?”
“He called me actually.”
“Why?!” Donna wiped her hand across the top of her head. Something she’s done many times through the course of the evening. As a result her normally sleek blond hair was now a mass of tangles.
“You didn’t go home. I called and I couldn’t find you. I was worried.” Josh says in a gentle tone she’s rarely heard.
“Don’t do that. You can’t do that.”
“Be all sweet and worried.…and….You…..You…..you’re confused. That’s all. Confused. Joshua the Confused.” She rambles with a sweeping hand gesture.
“I’m not confused, Donna. But you’re drunk.”
“I’m not drunk. I was drunk an hour ago. I’m way pa….past that now. I’m walking up on shit-faced as we speak.”
“Why are you drunk, Donnatella?” Donna focuses on his face for a moment and then turns to Toby. She feels the tears welling in her eyes again. Before she can stop herself, she bursts into sobs.
Donna rolls over and thinks she can actually feel the rotation on the earth.
“Oh Jesus.” She groans into the pillow. She pulls the blanket over her face and is suddenly assaulted by the smell of her own breath. She quickly pushes the blanket off her head and takes a deep breath.
“I’ll never drink again.” Donna pushes herself upright and sits for a few minutes while the room slows down. She throws the blanket off her and stumbles to the bathroom. It was only after she flushed the toilet that she realizes she’s wearing a pair of man’s basketball shorts and a Metallica t-shirt. No underwear, of which she was sure she had on last night. She brushes her teeth and uses half a bottle of Scope in an effort to remove the little fuzzy sweaters that have decided to adorn her teeth.
“Water. Need water.” She moans as she shuffles down the hall towards her kitchen. She quickly downs a glass of water before searching the cabinets for a bottle of Tylenol. Donna swallows three pills and fills her water glass again. With the glass turned up to her lips, she walks back through the living room. She slowly lowers the glass from her lips as she stares at what looks like a man sleeping on her couch. She leans over the back of the couch and pulls the blanket away from his face.
“Yeah..uh.” Holding the side of her head, she decides that yelling is out of the question. After the night she’s had, her choices are clear. She looks at the glass in her hand and smiles as she empties its contents over Josh’s head.
“Wha….What?! Donna?!” Josh sputters and spits while trying to wrap his mind around what just happened. His eyes finally focus on a very hung-over Donna Moss.
“What are you doing here?” She asks flatly.
“I brought you home.”
“Where was Toby?”
“The last thing I remember was drinking with Toby. Why did you bring me home?”
“I was worried. I called Toby when I couldn’t find you and he told me where the two of you were.”
“Why didn’t Toby bring me home?” Josh pushes himself up and wipes his hands over his face.
“Because I thought I should.”
“You’re not my keeper Josh.”
“I’d like to be.” Josh looks her in the eye hoping she will see how sincere he is.
She looks away and shuffles back toward her bedroom. Josh gets up slowly and tries to work the stiffness from his back. He follows Donna down the hall and into her bedroom.
“We need to talk.”
“I don’t feel like talking right now, Josh.”
“We need to.”
“We need a lot of things. I, for one, need to know how the hell I wound up in your basketball shorts and my brother’s t-shirt.” She growls at him while crawling back into bed.
“Don’t blame me. You’re the one that decided you couldn’t live without going through my gym bag. I told you they were dirty, but you didn’t care. The shirt you dug out of the closet.”
“What happened to my underwear?” She mumbles from underneath the blankets.
“You must have put them somewhere. You assured me you were sober enough to get ready for bed.”
“You shouldn’t listen to drunk people.”
“Yeah, I’ll remember that.” Josh sits on the edge of her bed and sighs. “How much did you drink, anyway?”
“Not much.” She whimpers.
“Liar. You were swearing by the time I got there.”
“So, I know you only start swearing after your fourth drink. Toby told me you were pulling out the ‘f’ word quite a bit last night.” Josh chuckles as Donna buries her head deeper under the covers.
“Just go away, Josh. Let me die in peace.”
“Can’t. We’ve got to go to work.” Josh swats her behind as she groans.
“Go on ahead. I’ll be in later. Maybe a year or two from now.”
“Nope. You’re taking a shower and getting dressed. Then we’ll go to my place so I can do the same and then we’re going to work. After which, you and I are going to order a pizza and talk about why you don’t believe I love you.”
“Jo-osh.” She whines.
“Get up, Donnatella! Leo’s gonna be pissed as it is.” Josh tosses the blanket off her and nudges her hip. The only reply is something between a moan and a growl.
Josh only has time to drop Donna off at the gate before rushing off to a meeting on the Hill. Donna leaves her sunglasses on while she walks through the bullpen. Sam opens his mouth to speak but is greeted with a stern shake of the head. She drops her things at her desk and heads for Toby’s office.
“How are you feeling?”
“Like death on a saltine, you?”
“I’m okay. Did you talk to Josh?”
“No. Not really. What’s the point? I made a fool out of myself anyway. What did I say to him?”
“Not so much between all the crying jags.”
“Well, shit.” Donna turns on her heels and heads back to her desk. She’s just going to immerse herself in work. That will keep her mind off things. * Surely Josh will come to his senses and realize he was being unrealistic.* Several hours pass and Donna has managed to put Josh’s desk in order, rearrange the files a little and help CJ with a thing. She makes her rounds through the bullpen, dropping various files on desks as she passes. She returns to her desk to see a large steaming cup of Starbucks coffee. She takes a deep breath and inhales the aroma before taking a sip. She looks in Josh’s office but it’s still empty. His backpack is in the middle of the floor so she knows he’s in the building somewhere.
“What am I supposed to do?”
“She said she didn’t believe you love her?” CJ furrows her brow as Josh holds his head in his hands.
“She said you couldn’t love her because you don’t see her that way?”
“Okay? It’s not okay?! I finally stumble into realizing that it’s okay to tell Donna how much I love her and she doesn’t believe me! What am I going to do, CJ?!”
“Start from scratch.”
“Ask her out on a date.”
“Ask her out on a date.”
“Yes, my little magpie. A date. She doesn’t believe you because it’s too much at one time. She’s loved you for as long as she’s known you. So have you, but you’ve just comes to terms with it. She doesn’t believe you because it’s so out of the blue. Even for you.”
“So I’ve got to start from scratch.”
“She needs to know you mean it, Josh.”
“I do mean it, CJ. I tried to show her the other night!”
“No, you tried to have sex with her the other night.” Josh stares at her with a blank expression and CJ realizes he doesn’t see her point. “You can have sex with anyone, Josh. Not three nights ago, you were having sex with Amy Gardner.”
“That was different.”
“How does she know that? You inadvertently kiss her goodbye while rushing to a meeting and then return to confess your everlasting love. It’s a little much, don’t you think?”
“But this is Donna.”
“Yes, this is Donna.” CJ pins him with a look.
“Start from scratch.”
“Strike that. You’re without woo.”
“I can woo. Did Donna tell you I can’t woo?”
“Face it, Josh. You’re sans woo. Just…..just ask her out on a nice date and keep your brain in your pants for a while.”
“I’m with woo, CJ.”
“Are you listening to me!?”
Donna turns her desk lamp off and gathers her purse and coat. Josh had been in and out of the office most of the day so the two of them had very little time to talk. Donna sighs as she enters his office to leave him a note saying she’s going home. She sits in his chair and pulls a piece of paper from the notepad. Before she puts pen to paper, Josh breezes into his office.
“You leaving?” Donna looks up startled.
“Do you feel better?”
“I think I’ll live.” They stand in silence for a few minutes and Donna can see Josh trying to work something out in his head.
“Donna, do you have plans tonight?” Donna sighs and shakes her head.
“No, I can stay and work if you need me to.”
“No! No, I didn’t mean that. I mean….I….would you like to go out to dinner with me?”
“You and me.”
“You and me?”
“Please.” That was something she was not used to hearing. Josh Lyman said please to her. A small smile slides across her face as she nods.
“Okay.” He sighs. “Just let me get my stuff and we’ll go. Is there anywhere in particular you’d like to go?”
“You’re asking me where I want to eat?”
“What’s gotten in to you?” She stands from his chair and finds that he has moved around the desk so he’s standing right in front of her.
“Josh.” She responds breathlessly.
“I know you think I’m just stumbling into you sideways, but you’re wrong. I’m going to prove it to you, Donna. I want you to be absolutely sure about how much I love you.”
“Oh….okay.” She stutters.
“Yeah.” Josh slides her fingers into his and walks her out of the bullpen.
“Do you want wine?”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Sorry.” Josh laughs at Donna’s expression before turning serious. “I’m sorry I upset you.” Donna knows he’s not talking about the wine. She looks down at her lap and nods.
“I know. It’s too much, too fast. That’s my fault. But, I have to say Donna, you know better than anyone that patience isn’t my strongest character trait.”
“It’s just that….I mean….why now, Joshua?”
“I think the better question would be, why not before?” Josh reaches across the table and threads his fingers with hers.
“I ruined us.” Her words are barely a whisper. The noise of the restaurant almost covers them, but Josh hears her.
“You didn’t. Please don’t think that.”
“I made a mistake. A mistake that I can never take back.”
“But it’s not a mistake that can’t be forgiven.”
“Josh.” She lowers her head and fights the urge to cry.
“I’ve said things to you that could be considered a thousand times worse, and they were. Yet, you forgave me. Every time, you forgave me. Why?” Josh squeezes her hand so she looks up and meets his eyes.
“But you could have lost everything because of me.”
“And you could have lost everything to protect me.”
“It’s not the same.”
“It is. Why do you always forgive me, Donna?” She tries to look away, but Josh tugs on her hand again.
“Why, Donna? Tell me.”
“Because, I love you.” Josh’s face brightens with a large smile.
“I think that was the single most wonderful thing I’ve heard in my life.”
Josh holds Donna’s hand as they ascend the steps to her apartment. She unlocks the door and starts to walk through. Josh stops at the threshold and looks down at the floor.
“Maybe I should go ahead and go.” Donna turns and stares at him for a moment.
“What?” Her voice is small and he realizes she doesn’t understand. He squeezes her hand and pulls her toward him.
“I don’t want to make you feel rushed.”
“Who did you talk to? CJ or Leo?” Josh laughs and looks down at the floor.
“And you’re actually doing what they told you?” Josh rubs his ear and smiles up at her.
“When it’s important, I listen.”
“You can come in, Josh.”
“I know.” His voice is soft. Donna can feel her breath catching in her throat.
“I had a nice time tonight.”
“Me too.” Josh takes a step closer to her and takes her other hand in his.
“I want you to come in.”
“Just to talk Joshua.” He looks at the floor again and grins.
“Okay.” She pulls him by the hand into her apartment. Josh helps her off with her coat and she motions for him to sit on the couch.
“Is it dry?”
“Just sit on the other end.”
“I can’t believe you did that.”
“Yeah, well. I can’t believe a lot of the things you’ve done lately.”
“Donna….” Donna turns away from him and heads to the kitchen.
“You’re going to bring me coffee?”
“No, I’ll make us coffee, but you can fix your own.” Josh smirks at her.
“Well, thank God some things will never change.” Donna can’t help but giggle as she pulls the coffee from the door of the fridge.
Josh takes a sip of his coffee before putting it on the coffee table. He leans back on the couch and puts his arm around her shoulders.
“Talk to me.”
“What about?” She asks with a grin.
“I think you know.”
“Global warming? It’s an issue that needs…..”
“Smart ass. When did I become the straight man in this relationship?”
“After years of being subjected to my wit and charm.”
“I thought I was the charming one.” Donna puts her coffee on the table beside Josh’s and laughs.
“Oh, I forgot.”
“I’ve got charm.”
“I’m sure you do……somewhere.” Josh smiles at her. He knows what she’s doing. She’s misdirecting him.
“I saw you Donna.” Josh watches as the expression on her face changes from one of shock, to anger, and then to sadness.
“Toby gossips like a woman.”
“Maybe so. Talk to me Donna.”
“I saw you. I saw you everyday from the moment I put my badge around your neck. I just….I just couldn’t let you see it. I was with Mandy. We were in the middle of a campaign and then you left me.”
“I didn’t leave you.”
“It felt like you left me. But then you came back. That was one of the happiest days of my life Donna.”
“I had to come back.”
“I just had to.” Donna looks at down at her hands. Josh pulls her closer and lifts her chin with his fingers.
“Because I missed you.”
“I’m glad you came back.”
“Because I missed you. You keep me sane Donna. My God, how can you think I don’t see you? You…..you made me want to live, Donna.” The room falls silent as his words sink in. They never talk about the shooting. It’s too painful. Donna feels the tears slide down her cheeks.
“I was terrified.” She whispers and he wraps his arms around her waist and pulls her into his lap. She rests her head on his shoulder and they sit for a few minutes enjoying the closeness of one another.
“So was I. I…..I….was so afraid. Not just for me. I couldn’t remember where you were. I thought you were there. I wanted to find you and make sure you were safe, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t move.”
“Mrs. Bartlett made the doctors let me see you. She told the Secret Service that if anyone had a problem with me being there to send them directly to the President.” Josh can hear the laughter in her voice. He places a soft kiss on her forehead while rubbing his hand lightly across her hair.
“She’s a smart woman. She knew you were the only one I needed. I did need you Donna. I’ll always need you.”
“But even after, during the summer. I lived with you and you never once…..”
“I didn’t think you’d want me.”
“What?” Donna lifts her head and looks at his face.
“I had a roadmap for a chest and couldn’t even go to the bathroom with out someone to help me. Why would you want to be with me, Donna?”
“You’re strong now. The doctor said you’re fine.”
“I know. But, I’m…..I’m…..I saw you. Let’s just be clear on that. I saw you every time you went out with some gomer. Dammit, Donna, I wanted to be that guy. I wanted to be the guy you got dressed up for. But, I couldn’t tell you that.”
“I wanted you to be that guy.”
“CJ told me I couldn’t kiss you on the first date. But, I’m really beginning to think that’s a stupid idea.”
“We won’t tell her.” Donna slips her hand around his neck and gently kisses his lower lip. Josh uses all the restraint he can muster to keep the kiss gentle and unassuming. His resolve crumbles when Donna runs her tongue across his upper lip and moans against his mouth.
“Donna…..” His words are ignored as Donna slides her tongue into his mouth and lazily circles his own. His hands slip around her sides as he shifts their position on the couch. Donna never breaks the kiss as Josh leans her back against the couch before he settles beside her. She lifts her leg slightly causing a pleasurable amount of pressure to his groin. Feeling his arousal, Donna smiles into his kiss.
“Donna…..maybe we should stop…..we should stop.” Josh pulls away and tries to catch his breath. Donna rises up to meet his lips again.
“No.” She threads her fingers through his hair and holds his face to hers as she deepens the kiss.
“No?” He squeaks out while taking a breath.
“Stay.” Donna shifts underneath him and lifts her hips slightly.
“Oh God, Donna.” Josh moans at the sensation.
“But…..I want you to understand…..I want you to know how I feel.”
“Show me.” Josh pulls away from her so he can look at her face. He searches her clear blue eyes for a seed of doubt. Finding none, he smiles a full smile.
“I do love you Donna. Very much.” She traces the line of his jaw with her finger.
“I know. I know that now. I love you. I always have.”
Donna pushes against Josh’s shoulders until she can sit up on the couch. She stands and holds out her hand.
anything in my life.” She smiles as she pulls him down the hall toward her
Josh rolls over to the side of the bed as Donna molds into his side.
“So do you feel woo’ed?” Josh asks with a smirk.
“I think you just brought new definition to ‘wooing’.” Donna smiles as she traces her finger across his scar and then along the line of hair on his chest.
“Donna, if I tell you something, will you promise not to get mad if I totally screw up the delivery?”
“Yeah, I guess.” She says as she lifts her head to look at his face. He reaches up and twists a few strands of her hair through his fingers.
“I’ve had sex before, a lot of sex…..”
“Josh…..” Donna starts to glare at him.
“Wait….I mean, that’s all it was. I’ve had sex with a lot of women before. But, tonight…..this sounded a lot less gay in my head.”
“Josh, just say it!”
“I’ve never made love to a woman before. Not until now.” Josh holds her gaze trying to gage her reaction. He starts to panic at the slight quiver of her lip and the tears pooling in her eyes.
“Oh Donna, I’m sorry. Please don’t cry. I’m….”
“That was the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” She chokes out in a strangled whisper before kissing him.
“So I didn’t screw that up?”
“No, not that time.” Josh pulls her to his chest again and absently rubs her hair.
“CJ and Leo are going to be pissed at me.”
“They told me not to rush.”
“I think we’ve set a pretty good pace.”
“Yeah, me to.”
“DONNA!” Josh grabs his backpack from the floor and searches its contents.
“The Jackson file is on your desk. Toby’s got the notes on the other thing. Here’s the file on 546. Don’t piss Senator Donaldson off, he doesn’t like you much anyway.” Donna hands him a folder along with a report before hurrying out to her desk.
“That’s hard to believe.” Josh mumbles as he quickly unrolls his sleeves and spins around in search of his suit coat.
“Oh damn. What is it, CJ? I’m late enough as it is.”
“We’ve got a call stating that Congressman Parker is issuing a statement against our position on 546.” Josh swipes his hand through his hair.
“So what can I do?”
“Feel him out in the meeting but don’t piss him off.” Josh walks around CJ and gathers various files from the corners of his desk.
“What?!” Sam leans his head through the door.
“Toby’s waiting. He says if you don’t get your ass downstairs he’s going to the airport without you.”
“Yeah, okay. Okay. Donna!”
“Your ticket’s in the front pocket of your backpack. Your meeting with Senator Donaldson is right before the fundraiser so go ahead and change into your good suit before hand.”
“Why aren’t you coming with me again?”
“Because the thought of rubber chicken and listening to boring speeches is too much for me to bear?” Donna deadpans.
“Yeah, well. We all have a hobby.” She puts a few more folders in his backpack before thrusting it at him.
“WHAT?!” Leo raises an eyebrow at him as he stands in the doorway.
“Running late?” Josh sighs and grabs his suitcase in one hand and his backpack in the other.
“I’m a little rushed, yeah.”
“I want to make sure we’re clear on the thing.”
“I’m on it.”
“CJ, did you tell him about the other thing?”
“He’s just going to feel him out, right Josh?”
“Right. Right.” Donna rushes back into the office with a bottle of Yoo-hoo and a pack of crackers.
“Here, eat this in the car.”
“Josh!” Sam screams from the hall.
“I know! Tell Toby I’m leaving now!” Josh pushes his way past the crowd that has gathered in his office. He stands in front of Donna’s desk and spins in a distracted circle.
“What am I forgetting?” He looks up at Sam and smiles. “Oh yeah.” He drops his suitcase and goes back into his office where CJ, Donna and Leo are still talking. He rushes past CJ and takes Donna’s face in his hands. His presses his lips to hers and smiles.
“Bye, see you tomorrow night. I love you.”
“Call me when you get to the hotel. I love you, too.” He squeezes her hand before breaking out into a run out of the bullpen. Donna stands with a smile on her face and she touches her lips. Leo shakes his head and allows a small smile to grace his normally stern face.
“At least he’s doing something right.”
feedback is appreciated. :)