The Path Which Has Led to the Present (35/35)
Category: Humor/Fluff/Angst/Romance (a little of everything)
Spoiler Info: Pre-Series.
Disclaimer: I own nothing…I just borrow.
Feedback: Greatly appreciated. Sure. Just let me know where its going.
A/N: As this is the 1998 election, I used the 1996 electoral map as a jumping off point for Josh's electoral math section. The number of votes that some states have changed slightly after the 2000 census.
"I need the new—"
"The new exit polls aren't out yet."
"How did you know I was going to ask for the exit polls?"
"You've been asking for the exit polls for an hour."
"They're not out yet?"
"We need them."
"I'm well aware."
"You need to calm down."
"These numbers are important."
"Who the hell do we call—"
"I hate wait—"
"They'll be here any minute now. Relax, Josh. You got the last set, you went 'Good. Good. Good. We should follow up on Pennsylvania. Good.' Are you expecting this set to be vastly different?"
"I have nothing to do."
"I can't relax. I don't find sitting around doing nothing relaxing. I'm not that kind of guy."
"Sit in the chair. Head down on the desk."
"Am I getting a time out?"
"Just put your head down."
Josh did as he was told. Donna crossed behind his chair and began to rub his back.
Donna ran her hands down his back, and squeezed his side, working her way back up to his shoulders. She rubbed slow circles, pressing hard with her fingers tips, working on shoulder at a time.
"Neck…" Josh murmured.
Donna brought her fingers up to his neck, and slowly kneading her way up to his hair. She toyed slightly with the bottom of his unkempt hair, not sure whether giving into her urge to run her hands through his hair would be a good idea.
This encouraged her, and she slid her fingers into his thick curls.
"That feels so good."
Donna continued playing with his hair.
Suddenly, Sam burst into the room. "I've got the polls! Oh, uh, hi."
Josh sat up straight. "How are they?" He reached out for what Sam was holding, but didn't get up.
Sam eyed the two curiously. "They're fine. What we've expected. Still up."
"Leo wants a full staff meeting in ten minutes."
Josh nodded, and looked up at Sam, who was lingering in the doorway. Sam caught his eye briefly, before leaving.
"See, what did I tell you? No surprise in the results."
Donna picked up packet that Sam had handed to Josh.
"We're still down in Pennsylvania, but not as much as before. You think that'll rally?"
Josh stood up and looked over Donna's shoulder.
"From that, I think so. It's still one of our big play states in the east. That's 23 electoral votes. We lost Florida—"
"We weren't expecting Florida though—"
"Right. We were counting on Pennsylvania though."
"Polls close in an hour in the East."
Josh nodded, and started for the door. Donna followed.
"I get to come to this, right?"
"Sam said full staff."
They arrived at the war room, and moved to the front of the room, where CJ, Sam and Toby were sitting.
"These are good," Josh commented, waving the exit polling data.
"Except Pennsylvania," Toby growled.
"We're gonna rally."
"There's an hour left!"
"We can win without Pennsylvania," Sam pointed out.
"Barely," Toby growled.
"We can do it."
Leo took his place at the front of the room.
"Folks, quiet please! Now, this round of polling data looks good. Thoughts?"
Josh began, "Well, with an hour left on the East coast, there's no question that we're gonna take Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Mass, RI, Connecticut, Jersey, DC, New York and Michigan. That's 99 electoral votes. Maguire's gonna take Florida, Georgia, both Carolinas, Virginia and West Virginia for sure. So 78. Ohio and Pennsylvania are still in play. Ohio'll probably swing Maguire, so he'll end up with 99. I think that Pennsylvania is gonna swing our way, which will leave us with 122 leaving the most heavily packed time zone. It'll—"
"Josh, did you just do all that math in your head?"
"Yeah," Josh looked up from the polling data, and grinned.
"He's been doing this in various forms all week," Donna laughed.
"You know all the vote counts by heart?"
"And exactly where the time zone cuts off?"
"Which is why we won't know about Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee until the polls close in Central. All have portions that are in that time zone. Well, we'll probably know Michigan, but they won't call it until Central closes."
"We need to take a look at Texas, even though it seems like a long shot, continue to watch California, which we're gonna get, and Arizona is polling strangely. It think everything else is gonna fall like we planned."
"Sounds like a good plan. I'll follow up on those. Next meeting in an hour when the polls close out here. We'll have new data from the rest of the country then too."
The group dispersed, and Josh remained sitting in his chair, scribbling all over his polling data.
"That was incredible."
"You heard me do it before."
"All hypotheticals, which you'd worked out for some time. This was off the top of your head."
"I've looked at the map so many times and for so long that its ingrained in my brain."
"You can't stop grinning."
"We're gonna win this thing."
Donna smiled. "You should eat something."
"You're always trying to get me to eat."
"If you ate on your own—"
"Yeah, yeah. Come on."
Josh placed his hand on the small of Donna's back, and led her out of the room.
"By all indications we've won?"
Josh nodded. "Just a formal announcement's left."
"CJ and Toby are drinking already."
"I like to wait until its official. If you want to join them—"
"No, I'll wait."
"Tomorrow we need to get started on getting your security clearance. We'll be able to put it on a fast track, but it's a lot of paperwork, and we should get started."
"So much for waiting till its official."
"I said tomorrow."
"I'm just teasing."
"My mind is racing with all that's going to need to happen."
"It's exciting for you."
"You should start looking for an apartment in DC tomorrow too."
"When are we going back?"
"Probably tomorrow. Definitely by Thursday. You can stay at my apartment until you find a place."
"Probably you'll find a place quickly, but not be able to move in till December 1st."
"You don't mind my staying that long?"
"Donna…I…I've shared hotel room with you for seven months, I can share my apartment for one."
"You can stay on my big comfy couch…or whatever…"
"I thought we needed to stop the…uh…"whatever"…"
Josh sighed. "We do."
"Is it a good idea—"
"It's a month. We can play it by ear?"
"We won't be in the White House yet."
"We should start to…uh…wean…ourselves…"
Donna sank into a chair beside him. "This sucks."
"We're going to be so busy—we won't even notice. Hell, we're gonna be working 12, 15 hours a day."
Donna nodded. Josh clasped her hand.
"They're getting ready to call!" CJ bellowed from down the hall.
Josh squeezed Donna's hand, and pulled her down the hallway. "Anything yet?"
CJ shook her head, and returned her gaze to the TV. Josh scooted up to the front of the crowd, and Donna stayed in the back.
"At this point, we are ready to call California, Oregon and Washington for Governor Josiah Bartlet of—"
"Wooo!" Josh screamed.
The whole room erupted into a frenzy of hugging and congratulations. CJ hugged Leo, and threw herself around Toby. Sam had Ginger up in the air in a big hug. Toby shook hands with Josh, who was grinning at Donna across the room. He wanted badly to fling himself into her arms right now.
"Come here!" CJ grabbed Josh's chin and pulled him into a big, sloppy kiss.
"Oh Joshua, get over it," CJ laughed, before pulling Sam into a similar kiss.
Josh smiled, and caught eyes with Donna. With all the kissing going on, there was no reason not to pull her into his arms. Quickly he crossed the room, and wrapped his arms around her waist. She spun to face him.
"Josh…" she whispered, surprised at his sudden attention in the crowded room.
"Shhh…" He pulled her into a sweet, but short kiss on the lips, and kissed her cheek before pulling her into a deep hug.
"Was that a good idea?"
"Did you see the kiss CJ just gave me?"
"This kiss was tame."
Donna laughed. "There she goes again."
"I think she's gonna kiss every guy in the room."
"I'm right where I wanna be right now."
"You know I couldn't have done this without you, right?"
Donna smiled, resting her chin on his shoulder.
"You won me over, said I might find you valuable someday—valuable is an understatement."
"I'm sad to see the campaign end."
"It's been such an incredible experience—"
"Wait till we get to the White House."
"It's going to be so busy. I'm going to need you to keep me sane and calm-ish."
Donna laughed. "I'll be there."
Josh pulled back to look straight into her eyes, kissing her cheek swiftly, and squeezing her hands, before turning to go talk to Leo. Donna watched him go, her hand lingering on the cheek he had kissed. She was torn between elation at their win, and sadness that this thing with Josh couldn't continue. It was going to be quite a trip, these next few years.
"We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present" -Adlai Stevenson