Author: Willow
Title:
First Footing
Summary: New Year brings changes for Josh and Donna, and for Sam.
Spoilers/Episode: Set in an a/u that leaves the show's timeline after season 5, Memorial Day. This chapter takes place straight after chapter 8.
Characters: Ensemble and Sam (also, finally some shipping).
Rating: PG


Part I

Tuesday December 28th 2004

"Donna, have you seen....?" Josh stopped at the edge of Donna's cubicle. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"Going home."

"I haven't finished," Josh complained.

"No, but I have. It's 9pm, Josh. I told you I needed to leave early tonight and you said yes. Most normal people wouldn't consider this to be early."

"Okay, I didn't realize it was that late. Have a good time," Josh tried to sound sincere, but Donna had a date so it was hard for him to be too excited for her.

"I'll do my best," Donna smiled. "See you tomorrow."

"Night, Donna," Charlie called as he entered the bullpen. "What's wrong with you?" he asked Josh.

"Donna has a date."

"She's a good looking woman, Josh."

"You think I don't know that," Josh sighed. "What's up?"

"Tell her how you feel."

"Don't start. I've enough with Sam and my mom going on at me."

"We just want you to tell her the truth."

"Why's everyone started giving me advice on Donna all of a sudden?" Josh complained as he walked back into his office.

"It's not all of a sudden. Anyway, it was Donna who got me to tell Zoey how I felt, so I kind of owe her."

"What's up?" Josh repeated.

"Seems a little tactless now."

"Charlie?"

"Zoey's invited me for New Years," Charlie grinned.

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Wednesday

"How was your date?" Josh asked Donna, as they sat in his office and shared a lunch of sandwiches and fries.

"I thought you had no interest in my love life?"

"I don't, I'm just making conversation."

"It was alright," Donna replied.

"Alright?" Josh asked. "That's hardly a ringing endorsement."

"He's one of those guys who can only hold a conversation about one subject."

"I almost dread to ask," Josh said.

"Let's just say, I know his entire life history, whereas I don't think he even knows where I'm from."

"Ah," Josh nodded. "Not good then?"

"No," Donna agreed. "Why can't men understand that women like a man to be interested in them? Also, why do they think women can't have opinions on anything substantial?"

"It may have escaped your notice, Donnatella, but I'm a man," Josh pointed out.

"You don't count."

"Okay, well I have no idea how to take that," Josh replied and hastily changed the subject. "What are you doing on Friday?"

Donna shook her head. "I dunno," she replied. "What's everyone else doing?"

"Toby's spending New Year with Andi and the twins, CJ's going home tomorrow night and Charlie," Josh smiled, "is going to a party at The Residence with Zoey."

"Really?" Donna grinned. "That's great, and about time."

"I know, he's pretty happy. In fact, he's annoyingly happy," Josh smiled.

"So what are you doing?"

Josh shrugged.

"Me either," Donna agreed.

"Tell you what," Josh suggested. "If neither of us have a date or, well any plans at all by Friday, we'll go someplace together."

"Just the two of us?"

"Yeah."

"Okay," Donna smiled.

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Josh was collecting his papers after the final meeting of the afternoon in the Oval Office, when Jed suddenly remembered something. "Josh, are you alright?"

Josh turned back to face the president, nervously hoping he wasn't still thinking about the events at the Christmas party. "Yes, Sir."

"You were at the hospital this morning?" Jed asked.

"Yeah," Josh smiled with relief. Discussing his physical health was something he didn't mind doing, sometimes. "It was just a check up, everything's fine."

It had been over four years since the shooting, so Jed was still concerned. "I didn't know you still had them."

"Every three months. It's only a couple of hours, I don't think anyone even misses me," Josh smiled.

"What do they do?"

"They do an EKG, a lung function test, a chest screen, blood tests."

"And you always keep the appointments?" Jed's question was also an instruction.

Josh carefully avoided the question, obviously Abbey hadn't mentioned the missed September appointment to the president. "Can you imagine Donna letting me miss one?" he grinned.

"No," Jed smiled.

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That evening as Jed and Leo sat in Leo's office, Jed suddenly announced that he needed to get know the staff better.

"You don't think, after six years, you know them well enough?" Leo asked.

"I didn't know Josh was still having hospital check ups."

"Every three months, well six after today's," Leo told him. "You can't be expected to know everything about their personal lives."

"You do," Jed replied.

"No," Leo shook his head. "I really don't have a clue what's going on in their personal lives."

"Apart from Josh's."

Leo smiled, "Definitely not Josh's, except his health."

"In that case, we both need to get to know the staff better."

"Why do I have a bad feeling about this?" Leo asked.

Jed just smiled. "It'll be fun."

"Yes, Sir," Leo agreed a little half heartedly.

Jed hesitated before asking his next question. Even though things were better between them, he wasn't entirely sure what Leo's answer would be. "What are you doing on Friday night?"

"Friday?" Leo asked.

"New Years Eve," Jed reminded him. "Come to The Residence. You can even bring Debbie if you must," he smiled.

"Well with an invitation like that, how could I refuse," Leo replied dryly.

"You'll come then?"

"I will, but Debbie has other plans."

"That's a shame," Jed said, trying not to smile.

"I'm not sure you actually mean that?" Leo grinned.

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Friday 31 December 2004

Neither Josh nor Donna were surprised or disappointed to discover that they had no other plans for New Years Eve. Donna had turned down Carol and Margaret, who were going to a party on Capitol Hill. Josh had been invited to number of parties, all of which he'd declined. By midnight they were both sat on Josh's front stoop, huddled in warm coats, celebrating the start of 2005 with Josh's neighbors.

"Happy New Year," she smiled.

"Happy New Year," he replied and resisted the urge to kiss her. "It's freezing, let's go in."

Once inside, they both collapsed drunkenly on his couch and sat watching television until Josh's cell phone rang. "Sam," he told Donna. "Hey, happy New Year."

"Happy New Year," Sam shouted above the noise of a party. "Having a good time?"

"We are. Sounds like you are as well."

"Chloe's colleagues. You know it's worrying that this lot teach young children," Sam laughed. "Oh God, apparently we're going first footing, which seems a little pointless at half past midnight. I'll call you tomorrow."

"See you," Josh smiled.

"He okay?" Donna asked.

"He's going first footing, whatever the hell that is."

"It's a Scottish tradition where you're the first person into someone's house after midnight on New Year. You're supposed to take half a bottle of whisky and a lump of coal."

"Coal?"

"It's lucky. The first person over the doorstep brings the luck to the house for the coming year. He has to be tall, dark and handsome, so Sam fits the bill perfectly," Donna smiled. "They also get the first kiss from the ladies in every house."

"That'll please Chloe," Josh replied. "So Sam's handsome is he?"

"He is, in a matinee idol kind of way," Donna agreed.

"Sam's a matinee idol?" Josh asked. "What would I be?"

"Definitely the bad guy," Donna laughed. "The misunderstood one of course, who was really a good guy at heart."

"And you'd be the damsel in distress?"

"Depends who my savior was going to be."

"Well if Sam's the hero," Josh suggested.

Donna just smiled. "Can I stay here tonight?" she asked. "I'll never get a cab."

"Guest room's already made up," Josh replied.

"Good. Then let's finish the food and drink and watch TV," she suggested as she snuggled down next to him on the couch.

Josh handed Donna another drink with one hand, while he put his other arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer.

Part II >>>>>>