TITLE: Brick Walls

AUTHOR: Micky Fine

DISCLAIMER: I don't own them. I'm still in mourning.

SPOILERS: Life On Mars

SUMMARY: "I'm used to beating my head against a brick wall." J/D

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I discovered this fic in one of my notebooks in a drawer. I think I wrote it shortly after Life On Mars aired. Anyway, hope you enjoy it. Reviews welcomed and adored.

Josh hasn't left his office since 6:05 a.m. At 6:02 a.m. Leo had informed him that Hoynes had resigned. After that he walked into his office and closed the door. He didn't slam it; he closed it. It's the closed door that worries me. Josh only closes his door when he needs to concentrate and the ruckus (as he refers to bullpen) becomes too much. Of course, he also closes his door when he's upset. I figure either way, today is not a good day to disturb him. However, I had assumed that he would emerge from his office and go to senior staff. He didn't. And that's why I ended up going to see the President and causing myself great embarrassment. Now normally if Josh missed staff I'd go to Leo and he'd give me what I needed to give to Josh. That wasn't quite what happened though.

I was waiting in Leo's office when the door that adjoins to the Oval Office opened and the President peeked his head in.

"Good morning, Mr. President."

"Good morning, Donna. Have you seen Leo?"

"I'm waiting for him, sir."


"I just need to find out what Josh missed at staff this morning."

"Ah, well, why don't you come into my office and I'll brief you."

"Mr. President, are you sure…?"

"Come along, Donna."

I follow the President into the Oval because there was no way I was going to argue with the Commander-In-Chief. I stood in front of his desk waiting respectfully while he sat down in his chair.

"How are you, Donna?"

"I'm fine thank you, sir."

"And Josh?"

"I don't know sir, I haven't seen him since very early this morning. He's been staying in his office."

"He closed the door?"

"Yes sir."


That was when I heard it.

Tap, tap, tap.

No way…

Tap, tap, tap.

Oh, no.

"Donna, are you alright? You suddenly got a little pale."

"What? Oh, I'm sorry sir. You were going to tell me what Josh needed to know from staff this morning?"

Tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap.

"I don't think…"

Tap, tap, tap.

"Stop it!"

"Excuse me!"

"I'm sorry, sir. I didn't mean you."

And then I began to check the windows. I must have been quite a sight walking in a half-crouch, checking all the windows.

"Donna, are you sure you're alright?"

"There you are!"

Tap, tap, tap.

The President came up behind me.

Tap, tap, tap.

"Stop it! You'll hurt your beak."

I tried to illustrate to the bird how harmful it was to hit his beak repeatedly against the window.

"Do you do this regularly Donna?"

"No, sir, it's just that every time I enter a room with windows to the outside, this bird appears."

"Did it ever occur to you that trying to stop him is as effective as beating your own head against the glass?"

"No sir. But then again I'm used to beating my head against things. Although usually it's against a brick wall."

The President smiled at me knowingly at me, and I felt myself flush. Noting my embarrassment the President changed the subject.

"Well, as I was saying, nothing of great note happened during staff that Josh should concern himself with. But if you want to give him something to do, when you think he's ready, tell him I'd like him to start considering candidates for the newly vacated position of Vice-President."

"Yes, sir."

Charlie tapped on the door.

"Mr. President, the representative from…"

"Yes, I know. He wants to meet with me to talk about something I could really care less about. I'll be just a moment."

Charlie nods and steps out again. The President turned to me.

"Donna, how would you feel about being President?"

"That's a very nice offer, Mr. President, but I'm kind of swamped right now. Maybe next week."

The President chuckled.

"Well, I better let you get back to all of that work."

"Yes, thank you, Mr. President.

I turned to walk out.

"Oh, Donna?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Remind me to tell you about brick walls sometime."

"Yes, sir."

Then he winked at me.

Josh better appreciate the things I go through for him. Even then I'm not sure the humiliation is worth it. I hate that bird.


There was coffee on my desk this morning. Not spilled, just sitting serenely in a mug, on a small cleared space on my desk. It was steaming. I stared at it suspiciously for a couple of minutes and then collapsed into my chair with a sigh. I picked up the mug and sniffed its contents. It couldn't be. I took a sip. It was. The coffee was French vanilla. The only person I know who makes French vanilla coffee is Donna. When she stayed with me after the shooting, I would wake up to that smell wafting through my apartment. And then she wouldn't let me drink any. Go figure.

But this mug of sweet-smelling caffeine in liquid form can mean only one thing: Donna made and brought me coffee. I look up call for her and see the closed door. And then I remember the reason I closed the door. I suddenly realize why Donna made me coffee.

"Thanks," I say to no one. Then I drink my coffee.

Donna knocks and then opens the door at exactly noon. I'd guess from the boxes in her hands that she brought lunch. As she steps inside her eyes widen and I think her jaw would have dropped if she weren't holding napkins under her chin. The reason for her shock? My desk is almost clean.

There is wood on my desk I don't ever remember seeing. There are now several stacks of folders on the floor that I have arranged into a maze.

Donna surveys the sight before her for a few minutes. Then she snaps out of her daze. Striding over the stacks, she neatly stacks the boxes of food on my desk. She proceeds to the closest stack and picks it up. Then she leaves my office and I hear the sounds of her opening and closing the drawers of one of the filing cabinets.

After several minutes she returns for another stack. I sit and watch her carry away the folders. Hey, I did organize them and I mostly cleaned off my desk, I deserve a break.

Fifteen minutes later, my floor is just as clean as my desk. Donna flops into the chair across from me with a sigh. She rolls her head around, cracking her neck audibly, and then she starts handing me food.

In a matter of seconds there is a burnt hamburger, fries, a bottle of orange juice, and a small salad in front of me. Donna must be worried. She only makes me eat salad when she's worried. The rest of the time, she usually ends up eating it instead. I glare at the mixture of vegetables in the plastic container but I'm interrupted by a familiar sound.

Tap, tap, tap.

Donna freezes.

Tap, tap, tap.

"Argh!" Donna cries loudly.

She launches herself at my window and begins to lecture the bird. After completing her rant, Donna returns to her chair, leaving the bird looking like I do after I've been lectured. Defiant.

Tap, tap, tap.

"STOP IT!" Donna shouts, loud enough to cause Toby, who happened to be wandering past, to peer in and give me a look.

And then the most amazing thing happened.

The tapping stopped.

Donna and I turn to stare at the window just in time to see the bird fly away.

"It worked," Donna whispers.

I smile and go back to eating. Another victory for Donnatella Moss.

It's silent for a long while.

"There was coffee on my desk this morning."

Donna starts. I realize those are the first words I've said to her today.

"Is that why you cleaned your desk? Coffee can get really sticky after a while."

"No, it was in a mug."


"It was French vanilla."


I catch Donna hiding a smile.

"And based on the evidence, Dr. Watson, I'd say the culprit is in this room."

"Who said you're Sherlock?"

"I did. Now quit trying to distract me."

"Did you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle credited the creation of Sherlock Holmes to his teacher at medical school, Joseph Bell? Bell was a surgeon and one of the first forensic detectives. Sherlock was named after Oliver Wendell Holmes and an English cricketer named Sherlock."

"Hey! I'm trying to make a point here. Think you could save the Fount of Wisdom act for later?"

"Sorry, go ahead."

I pause.

"Where was I?"

"The coffee fiend is in this very room."

"Right, yes."

"Are you saying you made your own coffee?"


"Are you saying I did?"


"Congratulations, Sherlock, you solved the case of the French vanilla coffee."

"But why did you make and bring me coffee? Am I getting fired?"

"Not as far as I know and I have some sources in the upper echelons of the White House."

"Seriously, Donna, why?"

The smile slides off her face.

"Because I figured you'd need it today."

I nod. I did need it.

"I just don't understand why. He has a beautiful wife, fantastic kids, and an amazing career. Why have an affair?"

"I don't know, Josh. I doubt he does."

"I know, but…I had dinner with them countless times when he was senator. They were happy and so in love."

"Things change."


Silence reigns for a while with nothing but the crunching of salad interrupting it.

"I had a meeting with the President this morning."

"The President?"

"Yeah. Long story. Basically I was waiting for Leo but the President swooped in and I ended up having a meeting with him."

"Ah. Am I allowed to know what the meeting was about?"

"Yeah, he wants you to start collecting a list of candidates."


Donna holds my gaze for a moment and then apparently approves of what she sees there. With that, she stands up and collects the empty boxes strewn across my desk. She's walking out of my office. I call to her when she nears the door.



"I wouldn't cheat on you."

"I know."

And then she closes the door.


The President had just returned to the Oval Office when Charlie came in with a small note. He opened it to find a neatly scrawled message that read:

Mr. President-

If you bang your head on a brick wall long enough, you'll eventually put hole in it.

-Donna Moss

He smiled.


Deep in the dark depths of the White House Steam-pipe Trunk Distribution Venue Joe heard a noise at his small window.

Tap, tap, tap.