Author: chai4anne PM
Santos and McGarry have won the election, Leo's well and on the job, Josh is about to become C.o.S., and Donna . . . . Well, read it and see.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Romance - Josh L. & Donna M. - Chapters: 11 - Words: 7,295 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 11-11-12 - Published: 11-09-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8688540
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Josh opens the door of his apartment, and holds it for Donna to step in. She undoes the top buttons of his overcoat for him, and loosens the soft scarf around his neck, pulling it out and patting it, studying the effect.
"It's beautiful," he whispers. "Thank you."
She smiles at him. "You'd lost all yours, and I wanted to make you something."
He smiles back. "You make me happy. You don't have to make me anything else."
She takes the lapels of his coat in her hands and looks into his face seriously. "I've made a couple of other things for you, Josh," she says. "I'm not sure how you're going to feel about them."
"What do you mean?" He looks puzzled.
"Come sit down, and I'll show you."
They both take their coats off, and sit together on the couch. Donna opens her briefcase and takes out a stiff parchment envelope. "Joshua Lyman, Chief of Staff" is written in her least illegible handwriting across it.
"Open it and see."
"I'm not Chief of Staff yet."
"You will be next week."
"And you'll be my Deputy."
"Open it, Josh."
Josh tears the envelope open and slips out a piece of heavy stationery. He looks at her inquiringly as he unfolds it.
"Read it, Josh."
"Dear Josh," he reads. "I'm more honored and more grateful than I can find words to say for your offer of the position of Deputy Chief of Staff in President Santos' White House, but, after giving it much thought, I've realized that I cannot . . . ." His voice trails off, and he looks up, his eyes wide with shock. The paper flutters to the floor.
"Donna," he says, "no."
"Yes, Josh. It's the only way."
"No, Donna, no. We can do it. I promised you, we can make it work."
"Have you talked to the President about it yet?"
"Not . . . yet. There's been so much else, with Leo . . . ."
She squeezes his hand. "I know, Josh. But it's not going to work, you know it isn't. I can't work for you and sleep with you at the same time. You wouldn't be able to treat me like everyone else, no matter how much you wanted to. And I wouldn't be able to take it if you did."
"It's all right, Josh. What matters is that you wanted me to. That means more to me than I can tell you. I really don't have words for how grateful I am, and how honored that you thought I could do that job. I want you to know how much I mean that; that's why I wrote it down."
"You have to do the job, Donna. You want to. I want you to."
"You really don't, Josh; you know what a mess it would be. And I really don't, not now. Besides—" She can't resist pausing for effect. "I've had a better offer."
The expression on Josh's face is so funny she bursts out laughing.
"Better?" His voice squeaks. "How could you have a better offer than I made you?"
"You don't think I can do better, Josh?"
"There isn't any job that's better, except mine, or the President's."
"I wouldn't want those jobs, Josh. I meant, better for me."
He looks at once relieved and puzzled.
"What is it, Donna?"
"Mrs. Santos wants me to be her Chief of Staff."
His eyebrows shoot up. "Really? I know you were helping her, during the campaign, but . . . Donna, that's not a better job. Being on the First Lady's staff, even as her C.O.S., won't let you have anything like the visibility you'd have on the President's, you know that. And you won't be able to make as much difference to the things that count."
"I said, better for me, Josh. The title, the visibility—that's not important to me, not any more. It never really was, though I know I acted like it. This will be better for me in a lot of ways, and better for you, too. Mrs. Santos isn't looking for just a social secretary; she wants to be kept informed about the legislative issues the President is dealing with, and she wants to play an active, public role in supporting him, especially on anything to do with children's and family issues."
"A public role? Helen? Are you sure—"
"She's changed, Josh. People do. She's been changing her views on a lot of things over the past few months, ever since she realized there was a real possibility we would win and her husband really would be President. She'll be a liability if she doesn't have someone you can trust to help her prepare for her public appearances, you know that; it's not just a matter of how she looks, but what she says, what she doesn't say. I could be good at that. And she sees her role differently than Mrs. Bartlet did, so her staff won't be working in opposition to his. We've talked about things, and she's told me she'd be happy to have me doing research for her and for you at the same time. I'll have a staff to help, of course. So I can still do a lot of the work you wanted me to do as your deputy, Josh. I'll just have a different title, and someone different to report to. Though . . ." She breaks off and drops her eyes.
"Though what, Donna?"
"Though . . ." She hesitates. He looks baffled. "Though . . . I won't be able to do quite as much work as I think you were picturing, Josh. Another good thing about working for the First Lady is that I won't have to. She's not expecting the kind of hours you put in in the West Wing."
"I told you I wouldn't expect that either, Donna. And I'm going to try to keep mine as sane as I possibly can."
"But if I'm working for Mrs. Santos, I can cut back far more than I could if I were working for the President and for you."
"Why do you want to?"
Donna's face turns pink. "I—I told you there were a couple of things I wanted to show you, Josh," she says. "This is the other one." And she hands him a small white plastic stick, two red lines showing behind its clear window.
Josh stares at it for a minute before he realizes what he's looking at. When he does, an enormous grin spreads across his face.
"You're kidding," he whispers.
"Modern technology doesn't lie, Josh. Or not very often."
"Already. We haven't been all that careful, you know. You can test the first day after missing your period now, and I'm pretty regular, so . . . ."
"Do you mind?" She can read the answer in his face, but she wants to hear it.
"Mind? I'm—I'm—" He can't speak for grinning. "I'm over the—" The grin suddenly fades.
"Do you?" he asks, sounding worried.
"Only if you do."
"Really, Josh. I know it's early for us, but—"
"Early? You've got to be kidding. We've been together forever."
"Nine years." She's smiling.
"Nine years." He shakes his head wonderingly. "You know," he goes on, "it's funny. I haven't felt like talking about this, and maybe you'll think I'm crazy. But the day Leo—" His voice chokes a little, and he shakes his head again, as if that will clear his throat.
"That day, that morning, I saw him. Just outside the office. I know Mal said they found him in his bed, but he must have gotten up and gone out first, and then maybe not felt well and gone home, and . . . ." He's choking up. He shakes his head again, waits a bit, and then goes on.
"Anyway, I was heading out—I'd been working late, and I'd fallen asleep at my desk, and I woke up before anyone got there and was running home to get a shower and some clean clothes, and I bumped into Leo. He knew what I'd been doing, of course, and he gave me a hard time about it. Said I couldn't get away with that when I had a family. I said something about snowballs having a better chance in hell than I had of that, and he just laughed, and said he thought nine years was long enough to wait, and not to call the kid Leo; he'd always thought it was a stupid name. And then he turned around and walked down the street and turned the corner, and I just sort of stood there gawking after him. That was the last time I saw him."
"Why would I think you were crazy, Josh?"
"Because. Because Mal said the doctors said he'd died in his sleep. And because . . ."
"Because what, Josh?"
He flushes, and rubs a hand over his face. "I—I realized afterwards, Donna. He was by himself. He didn't have his Secret Service detail with him. And that's like, y'know . . ."
"Maybe not impossible. I mean, it can't be, can it? But—it's strange. Really strange."
Donna casts her eyes down, smiling to herself. She doesn't think she wants to tell Josh just yet about the things Leo said to her at quarter to one that same day.
"Stranger things have happened, Josh."
"Like you loving me."
"Like you loving me, you mean. Me loving you isn't strange. It's natural. Unavoidable. Irresistible. Inevitable. How could I have helped it?"
"I feel the same way about me loving you."
"Do you think . . ." He hesitates.
"Think what, Josh?"
"Think—I'll—be okay? As a husband? As a dad?"
She's smiling, but his face falls, and he bites his lip.
"You're probably right. I've always thought I'd louse it up, if I ever got a chance."
Donna smiles more widely. "No, you won't be okay, Josh. You'll be better than okay; you'll be wonderful. You'll be amazing."
He smiles too then, but she can see the doubt still hiding in his eyes.
"You already are wonderful and amazing," he says. "I've got a lot to learn."
"So do I, Josh; you know that. You won't be doing this by yourself. You've got me; we'll be doing it together."
"Really, Josh. I'm not going anywhere, I promise. Never, without you."
He pulls her to him then, and slides his hand under her blouse, spreading it over her belly. "Am I da man?" he whispers.
"You are absolutely and totally da man, Josh," Donna says, before he puts his mouth over hers, leaving her with no ability to say anything else at all.
A cold wind blows outside the first-floor apartment in the upscale townhouse in the heart of Georgetown. A little tongue of it finds its way through the windowframe in the bedroom, rattling the blinds, making short, sharp noises that get louder as it gusts. In the big bed, the man and the woman curled naked around each other both shiver a little in their sleep and pull closer together, smiling.
The band is playing on the town landing, hokey old-fashioned waltzes, with a smattering of more up-to-date tunes they throw in just for fun. She puts her flute down and pulls on her skates. He's already got his on. He's always ahead of her; it's one of the things she loves about him. He smiles down at her with those warm brown eyes she can't pull hers away from, and she gives him that dazzling smile that always makes his knees turn to water and the ice around his heart melt. He feels a little dizzy with it, but he offers her his hand and she puts hers in it, feeling dizzy too at his touch. The band keeps playing: da-dum-dum, da-dum-dum, da-dum-dum, da . . . . They start to skate together, slowly at first, then picking up speed. They don't have to find a rhythm together; they've always had it. The music fades and the crowd disappears, but they skate on together, hand in hand. The sun is bright and warm on their faces, the ice is strong and hard under their feet, and they skate on together, smiling at each other and talking, never letting go till they get home.