AN: Okay, let's try this again. Sorry about any confusion with me posting this chapter twice. I wasn't entirely happy with the ending then I received a very helpful review from Angelnot so I've added an extra scene which hopefully improves it somewhat. I'm still not entirely happy so any other suggestions would be gratefully received.

Previously on The West Wing, Rainy Day Friends:

"How many votes do you need?" Congressman Lewis interrupted.

"We need yours. That's the only issue here."

Lewis lent back in his chair nonchalantly. One hand tapped an irregular tattoo on the tabletop.

"I heard you needed eight votes." He revealed, moments before Josh succumbed to the temptation to reach over and stop the irritating noise. "That's a lot of votes. You must be getting worried by now, the vote's two days away."

Josh raised his eyebrows, waiting for Lewis to get to his point.

"Would you care to sweeten the deal?"

"What do you want?" Josh hated having to barter for votes especially when it came to pork barrel spending.

"Whatcha got?"

***

"Will somebody please tell me what the hell is going on in this building?" The President's voice rang out in the room. Josh and Sam scrabbled to their feet. "This is no way to run a government! Trading sex for votes! Just what sort of show are we running here?"

"Well, sir, we were just discussing how to handle this..." CJ tried to prevaricate.

"Find them and fire them, CJ! Do I make myself clear? Whoever this woman is I want her out the building! Now!" The President stated calmly and clearly, leaving no one with any doubt that he was serious and seriously pissed.

***

Carol shook her head, "Have you tried to call any of the senior staff in the last hour?"

The three reporters looked at each other, obviously puzzled.

"Perhaps you should,"

As one, Danny and Chris grabbed their phones and dialled. While they waited Steve tried to get through to Leo again. He shook his head to indicate there was still no answer as the others hung up having, likewise, failed to get a response.

"Are the assistants on strike?"

***

Chapter 5 – Friday

Press Secretary's Office

9 am

Carol loitered in the doorway to CJ's office as she listened to CJ wrap up the morning press gaggle. As the reporters started to file out of the room Carol held Steve and Chris back. Danny loitered in CJ's office of his own accord.

"I wanted to thank you for your articles this morning. It hasn't gone unnoticed." CJ informed the three journalists.

"My editor certainly noticed. He was less than pleased." Chris told the Press Secretary.

"I understand and I know that the three of you also know who the 'senior aide' is. I just wanted to thank you for not printing her name. The President won't forget this."

"That's not exactly a searing indictment at the moment." Steve gently reminded CJ of the President's feelings on the subject.

"We're working on that."

"He honestly thinks Donna would be capable of something like that?"

CJ looked at Chris, pondering exactly how much to reveal. She figured she owed them something. "He doesn't know it was Donna."

"How could he not know?"

"He was too angry to listen yesterday and no one's been brave enough to bring the subject up today." CJ admitted, ashamed of the senior staff's cowardice when it came to their friend's job and reputation.

"I see Carol's back at her desk today." Danny changed the subject.

"Physically at least."

"So they're still on strike then?"

"Any chance of an on-the-record comment about the strike?"

CJ shook her head. She owed them, but not enough to officially confirm the strike was taking place and comment on it.

CJ's phone began to ring. She answered it, having recognised Donna's number on the caller ID screen.

"Hi, Donna." The reporters lapsed into silence to listen.

"Yeah, okay." CJ scribbled something down on a notepad, "M'hmm...yeah....yeah...okay. Got it. But I don't know who I'm gonna get...."

She fell silent as Donna said something.

"No, they're just doing the absolute minimum." CJ confirmed, "I don't think any of us realised the lengths you guys go to for us on a daily basis. I've certainly taken the extra things Carol does for granted."

Donna spoke again.

"I know, but I'm looking forward to getting you back. Not just 'coz of that but Josh is going crazy."

CJ smiled in response to whatever Donna said.

"Yeah, I'll do what I can. Get back here soon." With that CJ hung up and looked at the others in the room.

"Is she okay?" Danny asked.

"Yeah, she's given me a list of things for Josh." CJ told them.

"He must be busy, with the SLP vote today." Danny surmised.

"Yeah, it's really bad timing for Donna to be away. She's the only one capable of staffing him on days like this."

"Give me the list." Danny said, surprising everyone.

"Huh?"

"I'll take care of it."

"Yeah, like I'm going to let you loose in the West Wing..."

"You forget, I'm on vacation. Plus, Donna called me yesterday to ask me to make sure Josh got to his meeting on time. She obviously trusts me."

"Or she was desperate." CJ pointed out.

Danny shrugged in acknowledgment of that possibility. CJ stared at him some more, trying to get a read on him.

"Anything you see and hear is off the record!" She told him as she handed the top sheet of her notepad to him.

Danny took the offered page and strolled out of her office towards Josh's end of the bullpen.

Steve and Chris grinned at each other, neither relishing the thought of staffing Josh for the day despite the potential for an exclusive.

"Thank you again guys. If you need anything..." CJ dismissed the two remaining reporters.

Steve left the office, already planning how to make the most of having CJ owe him a favour. Chris stayed behind.

"You know that Donna spent an hour and a half in the Oval Monday night. Right after she left the VP's office. Don't you?"

CJ stared at Chris as she processed the implications of that information.

"It looks bad, CJ."

"Are you going to file it?"

"I don't want to, but I'm going to have to if you don't get this cleared up soon. My editor's pretty pissed at me. I can't hold him off forever."

***

Operations Bullpen

9.43 am

"Someone!?! Anyone?!?"

Josh stood in the bullpen, hands on hips. The other occupants of the area avoided eye contact with the irate man, trying to escape his notice.

"It's a simple enough question people! Is the Vice President back yet?"

Danny entered the bullpen just in time to hear Josh's question, unlike those in the room who had just developed a bad case of selective hearing.

"Josh," Danny called to gain the other man's attention. He ushered him into the office.

"The VP's not back 'til early this afternoon."

"What? He's supposed to be back by now!"

"He added another stop-off in Vancouver. Air Force Two is due to land at one thirty."

"Damn him! He's supposed to meet with Cryer. How do you know all this anyway?"

"I'm a reporter, I have avenues available to me that others don't." Danny explained, "We basically have a clock counting down to his arrival in the press room."

Josh chuckled, "He's not stupid. He knows the press are going to be all over him as soon as he sets foot in Washington. But I need him to meet with Cryer. I need to call him. But first I need to arrange another meeting with Lewis."

"I'll do that, you call the VP. I doubt my call would get very far." Danny said with a smile.

"You could pretend you were Donna." Josh joked before realising the double meaning t his words.

"With a heavy cold perhaps?" Danny suggested as he left to place a call to Congressman Lewis' office.

***

Oval Office

10.12 am

Leo entered the Oval Office via the connecting door. President Bartlet was sat in his favourite chair only half listening to the discussion going on around him. He looked up as Leo entered. The head of the Committee for Secondary Education began wrapping up forcing the President to focus on what was being said. Bartlet shook the committee members hands as they left the room.

"Weren't you supposed to be in that meeting with me?" The President asked Leo.

"I had a scheduling conflict." Leo told him.

"Margaret double booked you?"

"No, sir, it was my mistake."

"I thought she didn't let you book your own meetings. Probably for this reason."

"She doesn't, but..."

"Is there something going on with the assistants?"

"No, sir."

"It's just Sam mentioned something earlier. I thought maybe something was going on."

"I'd rather you didn't have any part of it, Mr. President."

Bartlet peered at him over his glasses before deciding to take Leo's advice and drop the subject, "Okay. What's happening about the USA Today article?"

"We're trying to..."

"Do we know who the aide is yet?"

"Sir, I don't think..."

"Damn it, Leo!" Bartlet threw his paperwork down onto the desk, his voice rising in volume. "Why won't you tell me who it is?"

Before Leo could answer, they were interrupted by Charlie's knock on the door to inform the President of his next meeting. Leo threw Charlie a grateful look and received a small grin in reply.

***

Press Briefing Room

Noon

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen."

The press quieten as CJ took the podium.

"I have a policy announcement regarding the London congestion charge...."

Toby stood at the back of the room and watched as several of the serious political reporters half-heartedly made notes on what CJ was saying. The rest of the room feigned interest, waiting for an opportunity to ask questions.

"...And as you know, the vote on the SLP is scheduled to begin shortly. Okay, I'll take some questions now."

"CJ! Can you tell us who the senior aide is that Hoynes is referring to?"

"No, Julie. I can't."

"Why can't you tell us, CJ?"

"CJ! Can you tell us when the incident occurred?"

"I haven't discussed this with the Vice President so I have no new information since yesterday, folks."

"CJ! Can you comment on the rumour that the President has ordered that the aide be fired?"

"I can't comment on that."

"CJ? What does the Vice President think of the President's response?"

"Guys, I am not Vice President Hoynes, as I'm sure you've noticed, nor am I telepathic. I have no idea what the Vice President thinks about any of this." CJ picked up her briefing book, ready to leave.

"CJ! What do you think?"

The room stilled, wanting to hear her opinion. CJ looked at Toby before answering. He nodded slightly.

"I think....I think if the events occurred as reported in yesterday's USA Today, the President would be justified in wanting the aide fired. However until all sides of the story have been examined I really can't comment." With that CJ left the briefing room.

***

Deputy Chief of Staff's Office

1.30 pm

"What have you been up to, Joshua?"

Abbey Bartlet's voice cut through the noise of the bullpen. Josh spun round in his chair to see the First Lady leaning against the door frame.

"Mrs. B." Josh acknowledged flatly.

"I've just been dragged out of lunch with Mrs. Hardcastle, who is an insufferable bore by the way, to tend the Deputy Chief of Staff's potentially broken hand. So I ask again, what have you been up to?"

"I punched Congressman Lewis."

"Oh, Joshua, Joshua."

She walked into the office and pushed the door mostly closed. She gestured for his hand and he held it out for her. Josh winced as she poked and prodded his hand to determine the extent of the damage.

"You'll live. Now, are you going to tell me what happened?"

Josh shrugged like a sulky teenager. Abbey shifted a stack of folders and sat on the desk. Leo had told her about Josh loosing his temper which, while not unheard of, normally resulted in him trading verbal blows not physical ones.

"I can sit here until you tell me or I can go back to Mrs. Hardcastle. This at least, has the potential to be interesting but there's no food here. It's a tough call...."

"He came in to talk about the SLP again. He made some crack about the pork barrel and 'alternative incentives'....and I just snapped." Josh explained.

"Now, why would you do that?"

"'Cause he's a jackass!"

"Well, I can't argue with that. I can't tell you how ridiculous he looked trying to peer down my dress at that DCCC fund raiser a couple of months back. He's what four foot six?"

Josh grinned at the image of Congressman Lewis standing on tiptoes to get a good look at the First Lady's cleavage. Abbey smiled in remembrance of Jed's jealousy and the events that followed later that evening.

"The President will probably give you an award." Abbey mused.

"Maybe I'll be awarded the Order of the Garter." Josh joked.

"Huh?"

"It's just something Donna's been going on about..." Josh's good mood faded.

"Where is Donna anyway? I haven't seen her...In fact I haven't seen Margaret today either. Where are they?"

Abbey suddenly faced a wall of silence.

"What's going on?"

Josh said nothing. Abbey regarded him contemplatively.

"Hmm...You won't tell Leo why you hit the Congressman and now you won't tell me where Donna is. Are the two related, I wonder?"

Josh's face and body language betrayed him.

Abbey sat and regarded Josh for a long while. Her politically experienced mind adding up all she had heard since she returned the previous afternoon.

"And suddenly the 'alternative incentives' comment makes sense." Abbey said slowly as she stood up to leave, "Well, Joshua, I hope you'd defend my honour with the same vigour. Although perhaps not with the same hand, that one needs to be rested for a while. Go home and put some ice on it. My orders."

***

Outer Oval Office/Oval Office

2 pm

"Hey, Charlie! How's it going?"

"Hi, Danny. What are you doing here?"

"Oh, just dropping this off for Josh."

"I heard you were filling in for Donna. How's that going?"

"You know, I've been friends with Josh for a very long time. I'm probably able to tolerate him more than most, but I now have a new respect for Donna."

"He's a good guy." Charlie said quietly.

"That he is. And he can throw a punch."

"We needed Lewis's vote."

"You'll get it and every other vote Josh asks for. Lewis is too chicken shit to ever vote against the President again."

"I hope you're right."

"Say, why aren't you supporting the assistants?"

"Can't." Charlie shrugged, "I...." He started to explain but failed to come up a reason that wouldn't sound lame.

"I'm sure Donna would understand. Your loyalty is to the President. She knows about loyalty."

"Yeah. Still..."

"But you still want to do something to help..." Danny applied his journalistic skill, leading the conversation in the direction he wanted.

"Yeah."

"You know what would help? You could let me in there for a few minutes," Danny nodded toward the Oval Office as he spoke.

Charlie looked torn.

As much as he wanted to help Donna, he couldn't let just anyone into the Oval Office. He pulled the President's schedule toward him. He shook his head, the conflict between professional responsibility and loyalty to his friend taking a back seat as he read. He couldn't let Danny into the room when the National Security Advisor was in there.

He was off the hook.

Just then fate intervened and the door opened as Nancy McNally exited with a nod to both the men in the outer office. Charlie watched her leave before returning his eyes to Danny.

He nodded once.

Danny didn't need to be told twice and disappeared into the adjoining room.

"Mr. President?" He called gently causing the President to look up from his reading.

"Mr. Concanon. I don't remember seeing your name on my schedule."

"No, sir. I just kind of snuck in. Do you have a minute?"

"Probably not," the President moved his current stack of paperwork aside and pulled another toward him. "Charlie!"

"I wanted to talk to you about yesterday's article, Mr. President." Danny looked round, expecting to find Charlie ready to escort him out but instead saw him at his desk looking undecided. He was going to have to hurry.

"I'm sure you do," the President sounded mighty pissed. Danny wasn't sure if it was because of the interruption or the article itself.

"Sir, I was wondering if..."

"Danny, you know I'm not going to comment."

"Yes, sir, but..."

"Charlie!" The President called again.

Danny walked over to the door and indicated to Charlie to give him a couple more minutes before closing the door and standing guard in front of it.

The President looked surprised, "Danny what's going on?"

"Sir, I'm a reporter. It's my job to report the truth." The President huffed at that comment but Danny ploughed on, "But today, rather than printing my findings I'm here to report directly to you!"

Seeing he had the President's complete attention, he took a deep breath and carried on before the Secret Service were alerted to his unauthorised presence in the Oval Office.

"Mr. President, I know your staff has been reluctant to tell you who the 'senior aide' is,"

"Do you know who it is?" the President's anger began to show as his voice rose, "Can you tell me who it is?"

Danny decided it was time somebody bit the bullet.

"Yes, sir. It was Donna Moss."

The President froze. His anger quickly drained away only to be replaced by confusion.

"Donna?"

"Yes, sir."

"Donna Moss?" Jed's disbelief was evident.

Danny nodded, happy to wait for the information to sink in.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, sir."

Jed stood and moved to the door gesturing for Danny to step aside. He opened it and told Charlie to make sure he wasn't interrupted for a few minutes. He motioned for Danny to take a seat.

"You have some explaining to do, Daniel."

***

Press Briefing Room

7 pm

Donna stood at the back of the briefing room, Josh next to her. They watched as CJ took the podium.

"Okay, I have a couple of announcements," CJ began, "We are pleased to inform you that, a little while ago, Congress approved funding for the expansion of the Scientific Literacy Program. As you know this program aims at..."

"I can't believe Margaret and Carol and the others went on strike for me!" Donna commented, distracting Josh's attention away from the briefing and his triumph.

"I punched Congressman Lewis." Josh boasted, exceptionally pleased with himself.

"He did at that!" Sam confirmed as he joined them.

"For me?" Donna asked, fluttering her eyelids at Josh and pretending to swoon.

"Well, he was getting on my nerves. But the other reason too." Josh added the last part quietly. Donna beamed at him causing Sam to feel like he was intruding. He turned his attention back to CJ.

"...looking at the extradition treaty between Britain and the US. Josh Lyman will be meeting with...."

"Danny practically kidnapped the President!" Sam suddenly told Donna.

"Really?"

"Yeah, at least to hear him tell it. He braved the wraith of the Secret Service for you." Sam said.

"I braved the wraith of the First Lady! I told her you were the one they were referring to but you wouldn't do that!" Josh didn't want to be outdone.

"No you didn't! You told me she worked it out on her own!" Sam clarified.

"Yeah, but I was there when she did." Josh tried to take the credit.

"It's not the same thing, Josh." Donna burst his bubble.

"But still..."

"I know who I'd rather go up against." Sam backed up his friend.

"That's all I'm saying." Josh agreed, "Plus I threw a punch for you. I put myself in physical danger, risked my physical well being. And I think I broke my hand."

"Mrs. Bartlet said you were fine, Josh." Donna dismissed, ignoring Josh as he waved his hand in front of her face.

"What does she know?" Josh huffed.

"Shhh... I wanna hear the VP's statement!" Donna tried to hush the two men.

"Didn't you okay it already?" Sam looked worriedly from Donna to Josh for conformation. Josh nodded to him as Donna's attention was already fixed on CJ.

"...read a statement from the Vice President. The Vice President wishes to make it clear that at no point has he been approached and offered sex in exchange for his vote, nor has he any knowledge of this occurring. He had no knowledge of the accusations made by his Chief of Staff until they appeared in the USA Today. The comments made were without foundation and made without his consent or approval. His Chief of Staff has resigned and a new Chief of Staff will be announced on Monday. The Vice President wants to express his regrets about any insinuation..."

Donna turned to the two men with her, a sad smile on her face. Josh put his hand on the small of her back and guided her back to his office. Sam watched them leave, marvelling at how quickly things returned to normal between them as he heard Josh reel off a list of things for Donna to do.

"Leo's asked me to meet with MacKenna again and I think we should bring Triplehorn in. I need you to arrange some time on Tuesday for...."

***

Oval Office/Outer Oval Office

7 pm

"John, come on in."

John Hoynes walked into the Oval Office, slightly apprehensive. He'd returned only hours ago to find a copy of yesterday's USA Today on his desk and a rather terse hand written message from the President telling him to 'take care of it'. He'd issued a statement and fired his Chief of Staff yet he'd still been summoned to the Oval Office.

"Mr. President."

"How was Vancouver?"

"Good."

"Good, good," the President said, slightly distracted as he poured his visitor a cup of coffee, "And your meeting with Cryer went well I assume?"

"Yes, sir." Hoynes accepted the offered cup.

"Good, I'm sorry I had to ask you to call in that favour. Especially over such a small amount."

"The program's worth it, sir"

"Still...It's another bridge burnt."

"If anything sir, I'm just sorry we couldn't take the scheme nationwide." Hoynes began to wonder if he had read too much into the message to see the President. The President just seemed to want to thank him and catch up.

"We didn't have a chance of getting the nationwide scheme through Congress. We had a big enough fight over this." The President watched his VP begin to relax.

"It passed easily enough in the end, although I hear Josh's new approach may have had something to do with that." Hoynes hadn't believed Josh had actually hit a congressman until he'd seen Lewis on C-SPAN during the vote.

"Yes. Also, it's the only thing I can attribute Hark, Wilkinson and O'Shain's changes of heart to. We'd had them laminated under undecided."

John chuckled, "Still it was a risky strategy..."

"It wasn't a strategy, Josh lost his temper."

"Leo must have had a fit...."

"Yeah, he was pretty mad there, for a while." The President sounded amused.

"Any idea why Josh...?"

"My wife informs me that Lewis made some comment about Donna."

The comment was made perfectly innocently, causing Hoynes to again question if he was looking for subtext where none existed.

There was an uncomfortable pause in the conversation as Hoynes tried to work out what was going on and think of an appropriate response, "Is Leo going to....?"

The Vice President struggled to phrase his question about the possible repercussions for Josh. Fortunately the President knew what he was getting at.

"Publicly, maybe. Privately I think he shook Josh's hand. Donna's very popular round here, you know. You don't mess with her, as Lewis learnt." The President took a sip of his coffee before continuing, "Although I doubt Lewis knew it was Donna he was referring to."

The President's voice held an edge that Hoynes couldn't fail to notice. Perhaps he'd been right to be concerned about this meeting.

"The press will have a field day if it gets out." Hoynes temporised, still trying to work out the purpose of this visit. The President stood, obviously intending to show him out, Hoynes followed him toward the door.

"CJ's handling it. She's exceptionally capable at taking the press' temperature. She doesn't think it will be an issue. I trust her," Bartlet said as Hoynes reached for the door handle, "perhaps you should too."

"Mr. President?" John turned back into the room.

"I don't know what's been going on in your office, John, but CJ assures me she told you to leave it with her and if you had, all of this could have been avoided!"

Bartlet's voice rose as he thought of Donna's expression while she had provided him with the few details Danny had been missing. Jed suspected she had left some things out but had been unwilling to delve into a subject that Donna was obviously uncomfortable with and found upsetting.

"I'm happy to take your word for it that this was down to a member of your staff and you had nothing to do with it. But if I ever find out otherwise or if anything like this happens again I'm not going to be able to support you!"

"I understand, Mr. President."

Jed stood in the doorway watching Hoynes leave.

Charlie had, to all appearances, politely ignored the smackdown. In reality he was taking mental notes, aware he was the only one in ear shot and that senior staff would want the gossip for both personal and professional reasons.

"Charlie, what's next?"

Charlie looked round at the President's voice. The President, in turn, looked to see what had occupied the young man's attention. CJ's briefing was showing on the screen.

"She got some questions about the VP's statement. Not as many as I expected, though." Charlie brought the President up to speed.

"Any about the SLP?"

"A couple, one about Josh and Lewis."

"Only one?"

"So far."

"Yeah, that's going to take some explaining...."

They stopped talking to listen to the next question.

"CJ, you announced earlier today that US diplomats have to pay the London congestion charge and just now about the UK extradition treaty, are these issues being raised now as an apology for the joke the President made last week?" Mark inquired.

CJ's groan was clearly picked up by the microphones in the room and transmitted to the outer office where it was echoed by the President and his aide.

***

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Operations Bullpen

7.05 pm

Donna stared at her desk in horror. She had only been gone two days yet the build up of paperwork was enough to make her wonder if she'd somehow been gone two weeks instead. She gingerly moved some folders, glancing at the ones below.

It was worse than she suspected.

There was no order to the mess and her previous system had been destroyed by the the whirlwind that was Josh. Bonnie appeared next to her and placed a hand on her shoulder in silent empathy over the mess.

"How can one man make so much mess in such a short time?" Donna asked her friend in disbelief.

"He had help." Bonnie replied as she began moving folders from the chair to the desk. She noticed Donna's slightly puzzled expression, "Danny."

"I only asked him to make sure Josh got the folder for his lunch meeting yesterday...."

"He spent most of today staffing Josh."

Donna closed her eyes, overwhelmed at the lengths her friends had gone to in order to cover for her and clear her name. And not just her friends and colleagues, but several reporters that she was friendly with. Reporters renowned for their ruthless pursuit of stories and in-depth understanding of politics had been persuaded to drop a potentially huge story, mostly as a favour for her.

If they knew the whole story, they would run with it regardless but between the VP's statement and CJ's careful handling of the situation Donna was confident they had seen the end of the matter. She certainly had no intention of telling anyone what had actually occurred in Hoynes' office that night. No, she was happy to let everyone think the story had been entirely fabricated by Hoynes' Chief of Staff.

Even the President had been under that impression when he met with her and she had been silently praying that he didn't ask her outright about what had occurred that evening. They had hedged around the subject and Donna had dodged answering in a way that, in other circumstances, would have made Josh proud. The President couldn't not have realised he was only being given politically correct answers to his questions but had, thankfully, dropped the subject anyway.

Donna hadn't been comfortable with the idea of lying to the President but it seemed the preferable option to telling him the truth. The truth would have resulted in the political fallout she had been trying so hard to avoid all week. The President was too good a man to let Hoynes' behaviour go unmentioned. Josh's reaction was too hard to predict but she was sure it would have been newsworthy.

Her only regret was that someone had to loose their job. Especially if he'd only been following his boss' orders in leaking the story. Donna was still unclear who was behind the story and doubted she would ever find out even if she wanted to.

The sad truth was the entire situation could have been avoided so easily. Her friends had gone to all this trouble for nothing. The damage to the administration had been done.

Bonnie looked up from the filing cabinet where she was replacing some files, to see tears welling in Donna's eyes. She stopped filing and guided her friend into the now empty chair.

"What's wrong?" Carol inquired gently.

Donna shook her head too emotional to speak. She let herself be enveloped in Carol's hug but fought back her tears.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to...."

"Hey, it's okay. It's been a rough couple of days for you. And topped off with a meeting in the Oval." Carol shook her head, "I'm surprised you haven't had a nervous breakdown."

Donna smiled slightly.

"Bonnie?" Ginger's voice cut off any response Donna may have wanted to make. She stopped as Donna's desk came into view, "My God! What happened here?"

"Josh and Danny." Donna told her laughingly, as she wiped the last traces of tears from her eyes.

The three woman looked at the mammoth task and heaved a collective sigh before beginning to restore order to Donna's workspace in a companionable silence.

They each grinned as they heard CJ groan as her briefing played on the TV overhead.

***

Press Briefing Room

7.10 pm

"No, Mark. The fact these issues are being examined now has nothing to do with the joke. They are important to the British and we have agreed to examine them as part of our ongoing special relationship with the UK. A relationship that is built on a shared language, shared culture, shared history and shared goals. The joke on the other hand was proof that many of us here in America do not share a sense of humour with the British, or indeed with the President at times."

A ripple of laughter went through the press corps as CJ mentioned the President's occasionally offbeat sense of humour.

"Thank you, folks. That's a full lid."

***

AN: I hope you have enjoyed this, if so, may I recommend Meganfitz's 'Beyond the sea'. It's the completely AU run in between Donna and Hoynes that inspired me to write an encounter that was closer to canon.