Title: The Path Which Has Led to the Present Author: Aerial312 Rating: PG Category: Angst/Romance Spoiler Info: Pre-Series.
Disclaimer: I own nothing…I just borrow.
Feedback: Greatly appreciated. Archiving: Sure. Just let me know where its going.
A/N: I'm really into the beginning fic for some reason lately. This chapter of this story has been sitting around for a while now, and I haven't posted it because I wasn't quite sure where I wanted to take it (and I still don't), and I'm having timeline issues(it doesn't affect this chapter, but will affect future ones). Here's the issue: We know that Donna originally started working for Josh in February, then at some point left for a little while and came back at some point in April. The Illinois primary falls in mid to late March. This seems to indicate that Donna left some time after Josh's father died, which I find odd. I'm not quite sure why this bothers me so much… Anyways, this story begins with Donna returning to Josh in April…

"We can chart out future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present" -Adlai Stevenson

Donna sat at Josh's desk sifting through a huge pile of papers that were gradually find their way to various file folders. He wasn't there, so she'd started right in on organizing the mess that had accumulated in the three weeks she'd been gone.

Three weeks. That's all it took to realize that going back to Roy had been a bad idea. She was bored in Wisconsin, especially after having spent a month on the campaign, and Roy rarely made time for her. Her three weeks of feeling useless culminated in her getting into a car accident. If she'd had any doubts before, she knew for sure that she did not belong with Roy when he stopped for a beer with friends before picking her up from the ER. Thankfully, it hadn't been a bad accident. She'd sprained her ankle, but her car was still drivable, and she left Wisconsin for New Hampshire again early the nest morning. She'd left Roy a note. A final goodbye. She didn't care what he thought anymore.

Donna was terrified of what Josh was going to say, however, when she first arrived back at the New Hampshire office. Most people were gone for the day, on a day trip up to Maine on the bus, Margaret told her, and Josh's office was a mess again, so have at it. That's how Margaret put it. Have at it. And she did. She'd been at it for 4 hours. It was nice to be busy. Organizing was cathartic for her, and it helped her take her mind off of the fear she had of the inevitable conversation with Josh.

She was doing it again, she smiled. Just assuming she worked for him. Of course, she had no guarantee he'd take her back. She was certain at the very least she'd have to sit through being made fun of for going back to "Dr. Freeride". It meant a lot that she'd been taken on the first time; she wasn't sure he'd be as welcoming the second time, because he was upset she'd left. It had been a stupid choice. She'd been blinded by promises of happiness. She should have realized that she was happy where she was.

Donna was so consumed with her task, sitting on the floor, clipping important articles out of the old newspapers strewn around, that she didn't notice Josh in the doorway watching her. He silently watched as she snipped out article after article, and filed them away in the relevant folder. He wondered how long she'd been working on it, as there were few newspapers left on the floor, when the phone rang.

Donna quickly reached up and answered it. "Josh Lyman's office. They're back? I haven't seen…" it was then that she saw him in the doorway. "Okay, he's here. I'll tell him."

She hung up the phone. "Leo wants to see you in 10 minutes."

Josh nodded, and crossed the room to his desk. "Thank god," he muttered. "I see you've already tackled the pile on the desk."

"Organized and filed."

"Any other messages?"

"Margaret dropped off the itinerary for the trip through the Northeast."

"Ugh…two weeks on a bus."

"Right. But most of the night's you'll get to stay in a hotel."


"That's what it looks like."


She got up, and pulled the itinerary from his inbox and placed it in his hand. He looked over the document.

"I'll need all of the polling data we've got for, uh, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut…" he turned the paper over, "New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York. How may states are we visiting on this trip?"

"Eight. They're all fairly little." She patted a neat stack of folders on the corner of his desk. "These folder have all of the polling data, and demographics for each of the eight states, as well as the contact numbers for the local offices—"

"God, I've missed you."

"Well, I'm back for good now." Without missing a beat, she continued, "I'll make sure that this is all packed into a filebox for you to have on the bus, with copies here for me to reference if you need—"

"You're coming."


"On the trip. I need you to keep me organized. My meeting with Leo—"

"Which is now in 5 minutes."

"—is probably about how scattered I've been of late. I've never been good at being organized, but I guess I'm especially bad at it now that I've had someone organizing me. You're coming. It's a bus trip. And you know how those make me crazy." He needed her to keep him organized…and sane.

"Okay, then. I'll make myself a filebox this afternoon. What else do you need?"

"Grab some of the folders on upcoming policy pushes, I imagine that they're in folders now—"

"They are."

"Good. And, uh, crossword puzzles. Definitely crossword puzzles."

Donna smirked. "Do I need to make you a road trip activity box?"

"I hate the bus."

"I know."

"I can't really even read on the bus."

"I'll read you things like before."

"Good. The bus is so boring."

"I'll go to the dollar store and get some of those travel games."

"That's the right idea."

"You need to go see Leo now."

"Going, going…" Josh grinned, as she pushed him out the door.

They walked down the hallway, talking.

"I'm going to check in with Margaret about all of your hotel plans. I think they're all set, but if not, I'll make them. Do you need anything else?"

They paused outside Leo's office. "Dinner, but that'll have to wait. Everyone's going to O'Malley's at like 9."

"Okay. Anything else?"

"Nah. Figure out the travel plans – how early are we leaving tomorrow?"

"Bright and early. 4am."


"Governor Bartlet has an 8am breakfast meeting with Governor Martin at a VFW in Montpelier."


"Meeting. Now." She turned his shoulders so he was facing the door, and knocked on it for him, before walking off to Margaret's desk.

He was back on track

He hadn't even asked. She couldn't believe it. He was completely cool with her presence. She was working when he arrived back, and he just let her keep going.

Margaret had taken care of all of the hotel accommodations for Leo, Josh, Toby, Sam CJ, so there was nothing left for Donna to do on that front. She walked back to Josh's office to continue picking away at the mess.

Josh was sitting in his chair with his feet on the desk, reading a paper when she returned.

"Quick meeting?"

"Leo's pleased you're back too."

Donna smiled and walked over to the desk. Her ankle was bothering her. "You want me to finish sorting those memos?"

He watched her inquisitively as she came over to him. Something was amiss. "Are you limping?"


Josh jumped out of his chair, and guided her towards it. "Sit down."

"I'm fine."


She sat in the chair and he sat on his desk facing her.

"Your ankle is wrapped. What happened? Do you need to put it up on something?" He scooted over, so that if she needed to she could put her foot on the desk.

"It's okay. It's getting better. I…I slipped on some ice." She didn't want to get into the real story.


"There's still ice in Wisconsin right now. Late thaw."

"Okay. Did you get it checked out?"

"Yes. It's just a slight sprain. Nothing really."

"When did it happen?"

"Night before last."

"And then you drove a thousand miles here from Wisconsin?"

"I had already decided to leave."

"You're okay? Really?"

"I'm really okay. It was stupid. I didn't see a patch of ice—"

"Forgot to put down the kitty litter?"


She looked up at Josh for a moment. He seemed so concerned, even as he made joke about he situation she had invented. Quite the change from Roy.

"Thanks for caring."

He smiled at her. One of those big grins of his, that showed off his dimples. He looked at his watch. "I'm starving. Ready for some dinner? My treat, for the incredible amount of work you did today to clean up the mess that was my office."

Donna stood up, and walked toward the door.

"And to express just how happy I am that you came to your senses and came back"

She grinned broadly. "I'm glad to be back."