Author's Note: I'm posting my other works to FF that never quite made it here. This was posted at B4A and on my website, way back when it was written. That was... October '06.
The staff hates it when I do this, but it keeps them on their toes. Besides, it's my house, right? It gives me an opportunity to check on them. It's late on a Friday night this time. Abbey's out of town with Zoey and an empty White House residence just isn't where I want to be.
Anyway, the staff hates it when I do this, I believe, because of the feeling of formality. Never mind I'm wandering around the West Wing at ten thirty in jeans and a sweatshirt. Never mind that I'm only trying to check on my kids. It's this damn thing about standing every time I enter a room. The respect is nice from strangers, but these people who work tirelessly for me…it feels wrong somehow. I feel like I should stand when they walk into a room, because without them, this Presidency wouldn't be what it is. Without them, I wouldn't be President.
But, I am President, and no matter how often I protest they do stand when I enter a room. That's why I just sigh and shake my head resignedly when Josh stands as I darken his office door.
"Good evening, Mr. President."
"Josh." I step in. Another privilege of being President, I never have to wait to be invited. "Sit down." I say when he continues to stand. He doesn't sit. "I'm going to." I taunt him a little. Finally, he does sit.
"Did you need something, sir?" Oh, these friends of mine. How come no one told me when you got to be President you had to forfeit your friends?
"Just came by to chat." I look him over carefully. He looks tired and busy. Whatever he's working on isn't that important though. I should know, I'm the President. "Donna gone home for the evening?" Truth be told, I wandered this direction to see her. The rumor mill is working overtime and even I've heard about the fantastic blow out that happened last night between the two of them.
He rubs a tired hand over his tired face. "She took the day." He looks up at me. "She's been, uh, feeling…under the weather."
"Josh." I want to tell him I know. But, I don't really, I only know what I've heard and that must have been filtered through five people before it made it to me. I don't even really know what the fight was about. But, I have a feeling that the magnitude was not exaggerated. "I heard."
He sets his head down in his hands, this rare personal moment a gem to me. "You heard the actual fight or you heard about it?" I smile a little at the wry tone of his voice.
"About it." I watch him carefully for a moment. "You know, when Abbey and I first started dating, we fought all the time." He looks up at me, curious as to where I'm going with this, I'm sure. "I fabricated the worst in her because I thought she'd always hurt me. Oh, not because she wanted to hurt me. I thought it would be a by-product of something else. Then, as time went on I realized that I thought she was going to hurt me by default because there's no way she could feel about me the way I felt about her."
"It wasn't her, it was me. I was crazy about her, but I didn't think she was crazy about me. Never mind she told me in a hundred ways everyday. I thought that just by nature of being her she'd hurt me. I was insecure and so vulnerable to her."
We sit quietly for a minute before he speaks. "It was Senator Callahan's aide." I nod, encouraging him to continue. "We were just talking waiting for the Senator. He asked me how Donna was doing; I told him "fine" and the next thing I know he's telling me about a steamy escapade in the bathroom of the Hawk and Dove." He leans back in his chair and puts his feet up on his desk. An attempt, I'm sure, to look casual about the whole thing.
"When I got back to the office I out-ed her about it in the middle of the bull pen." He has the good graces to look sheepish. "I stood right out there," he points, "and accused her, out loud, of sleeping with Callahan's aide. Her initial response was that who she slept with was none of my business. And, while she was right, I couldn't leave well enough alone. I said more than I should have. I told her I ought to fire her for her indiscretion. But then I told her I couldn't fire her because then it would look like I was firing her for fucking around on me." Somewhere during his recount he had looked away from me. Now he looks me square in the eye. I'll give the kid something, he has courage. "Those words exactly."
"She didn't even walk out on me. She just calmly sat back down and went back to work. Before she left she told me she was taking today off."
"Do you believe Callahan's aide?" I feel compelled to ask this, not because I think Donna's incapable of that sort of relationship, but because I think she's incapable of that sort of relationship with someone who'd be willing to talk to her boss about it.
He takes his time answering this question. "I didn't want to, but I did. She denied it, you know?"
"Yeah. I…I wanted to believe her, but I just couldn't."
"Can you now?"
He takes his time answering this question as well. "I think so. I just can't picture her and some guy in the bathroom of a bar. She's better than that."
The look of reverence on his face surprises me.
Her voice is a softer version of the one used to answer my deputy's phone. "Hello, Donna."
She takes a moment, trying to place my voice, I'm sure. "Hello…Mr. President." Ah, she got it. She pauses a moment then collects herself. "How can I help you, sir?"
"I'm making a social call."
"Oh?" She sounds vaguely suspicious. "Did Josh put you up to this?" And there it is!
"No, this was all me."
The thing I love most about Donna is her ability to treat me with respect while still being candid. She's one of the few assistants who can manage to treat me like a person, not just the President of the United States. I admire that moxie. "But I did call to talk about Josh."
"He's been a spectacular ass from what I hear."
She barks out a laugh at this. "Yes, sir, I'd say so."
"He gave me the Reader's Digest version of events. I feel compelled to apologize for him."
"Oh, no, sir. Please don't! He should be punished and I'm just the one for the job."
I breathe a sigh of relief. "So you're not planning on handing in your resignation then?"
"What?" She sounds genuinely concerned. "No, sir, of course not. He does this from time to time. Admittedly, he's only been this big of an ass once or twice before. But, I have to school him. He doesn't deserve to get off scot-free."
I chuckle. "That's my girl. Well, I'll return you to your evening."
"Thank you for calling, sir. It was a pleasure to talk to you as usual."
"The pleasure was all mine. Good evening."
"Good evening, Mr. President."