Title: Essential (1/1)
Timeline: pre-series, during their first year in office
Disclaimer: I own nothing…I just borrow.
Feedback: Greatly appreciated.
A/N: It's been nearly three years since I've posted anything here…
This is just a short little story that popped into my head when DC got walloped with snow earlier this month.
Donna sat at Josh's desk, sorting memos into folders by the dim light of the lamp. Her knees were curled up on the chair, her stocking covered feet sticking out beneath the arm. The sensible heels she wore most days to work ceased to be comfortable 16 hours into the work day, so they had long since been discarded beneath the desk. It was late. Very late.
Outside it was snowing. DC was expecting 16-20 inches. There were already 4 on the ground, and it was coming down hard. According to the news, the government was closed tomorrow, except for essential personnel. What that meant for her, Donna didn't know, especially since technically it already was tomorrow. Her schedule did not usually bear any resemblance to that of the other assistants.
Donna had been doing make-work for the last hour while Josh met with Sam about an education speech that the President was giving the following evening. She was out of things to do. Closing the last folder, and tidying the pile, Donna leaned back against Josh's chair. He'd thrown his suit coat haphazardly over the top of it earlier in the evening. Donna tugged the sleeve till it landed on her lap, then rolled it into a ball to use as a pillow. It smelt like him. She didn't like to think about why that was so comforting. It wasn't long before she was sound asleep.
Josh trudged through the bullpen. He hadn't intended to help Sam out for two hours. He'd hoped to read the damn speech once, say okay, and head back to his own office, where he'd work for a few more hours with Donna by his side. Instead, as a result of his making a face when he read the draft, Sam scrapped the whole thing and they started brainstorming anew.
Donna wasn't at her desk. He knew that even if she'd gotten frustrated about waiting, she would have at least tracked him down before leaving. He expected that he'd find her sitting in his chair, which she'd deemed much more comfortable than her own almost immediately.
He paused in the doorway to his office, grinning at the sight of his assistant sleeping in his desk chair. No matter how superior the chair was, it still didn't look like the most comfortable place to sleep. His suit coat was trailing to the floor, part of it stuck between the side of her head and the arm of the chair. It looked like she had tried to use it as a pillow. He closed the door and crossed behind the desk. Carefully, he pried it out from under her head. His fingers brushed against her arm as he laid it over her back.
He couldn't bring himself to wake her up. Pulling his visitor chair up beside her, Josh grabbed a folder from the middle of the neat pile Donna had made. The three on top of it toppled to the floor. He cringed, looking over at Donna.
She cocked an eyebrow at him, the corners of her lips pulling at a smile. "You're back."
"Sorry. I was trying not to wake you," Josh apologized, as he bent over to pick up the mess of papers he'd created on the floor.
Donna sat up, pulling his jacked more tightly around her shoulders. "You're not so good at quiet."
"No, huh?" he grinned, tossing the now messy folder onto the desk. "I tried."
Donna smiled. He had tried. Their eyes met for a moment. A yawn broke the comfortable silence.
"It's nearly two. I guess I should let you go home."
"How's the snow?" Donna asked, knowing full well that it was still coming down hard.
"You know, fluffy white stuff?" Donna gestured to the window.
"Holy shit!" Josh exclaimed. "It's snowing."
Donna joined him at the window, the suit jacket still wrapped around her. "You just realized? You didn't see that out the window as you walked in?"
"I didn't notice." He'd been too busy staring at her curled up like a cat in his chair. "I didn't know it was supposed to snow."
"Have you been hiding under a rock today?"
"The greatest blizzard of the decade. It's been all over the news all day."
"That's a lot of snow," Josh sighed. He had just wasted two hours helping Sam work on a speech for an event that probably wasn't going to happen.
Donna nodded. "We're supposed to get 16-20 inches, with strong wind. The government is closed tomorrow—today—except for essential personnel."
"Maybe we'll actually get some stuff done, without so many people here to distract us—"
"We?" Donna asked, sitting on the edge of the desk.
"You're essential personnel," Josh told her without pause.
"Assistants are essential?" Donna laughed.
"YOU are essential," he amended, leaning against he wall.
"So all the other assistants get a day off and I—"
"You are essential to ME."
Donna smiled, and she could feel her cheeks turning red. Every now and then he said little things like that that made her melt.
Josh sat beside her on the desk. He sighed. "If you really want to have a day off…" He trailed off.
She looked up at him. "You know I'm just giving you a hard time."
"Yeah. Even if I could make it back to my apartment, which at this point I seriously doubt, I don't want to spend the whole day stranded there alone." As much as she liked to whine about her lack of free time, she got bored when she was forced to take it.
"You'd freeze to death," Josh teased.
"If I was going to be home all day, I'd turn the heat on. I just can't see wasting money on heat when I spend 16 hours here," she argued. The heat in her apartment was turn on just high enough that the pipes didn't freeze.
"It's barely on when you ARE there—"
"Heat is expensive. If you wanted to give me a raise—"
"You know that it's not that sim—"
"I know," she smiled. She did know that the process was complicated.
"So you'd rather spend the day here with me than freezing your ass off at the apartment with Kerri's cats?"
"Well, when you put it like that…" she laughed. They both knew the answer was genuinely yes.
"That's a lot of snow," Josh noted, breaking the moment that was passing between them again by crossing back to the window. Moments like that came much more frequently at 2am…
"It is," Donna yawned, climbing off the desk, and curling back up in the chair.
"That can't be comfortable," Josh chuckled, perching on the chair's arm. "I don't care how much better you say my chair is."
Donna shrugged, and let her head fall on his thigh. After midnight, the walls they so carefully constructed during the day slowly began to crumble. He laid his hand on her head, letting his thumb graze back and forth along her long, blonde hair. It wasn't long before her breathing was slow and even. He sat still for as long as possible, loath to wake her again. But leg was aching from holding him up in such an awkward position.
Gently, he shook her shoulder. "Hey, Sleeping Beauty."
"Hmm?" she murmured into his leg.
"Let's go find some couches to sleep on." He let his fingers run through her hair again.
Josh chuckled. "YOU are."
Donna sighed, a long exaggerated sigh and pulled her head up off his thigh.
He was sorely tempted to suggest that they make the trek to his apartment, but he knew that if they went, they'd never make it back in. "We can camp out in the Mural Room." He stood and held out his hand to her.
Donna's eyebrows shot up, "The Mural Room?"
"There are a number of large couches—"
"Whatever. It's after 2 o'clock in the morning, and it's a snow day." He pulled her to her feet, and led her out of his office and down the hall.
"And what time do we have to get up to begin all this essential work that we have to do tomorrow?" she teased, as she lay down on one of the beautiful blue sofas in the Mural Room.
"You mock now, Donnatella," Josh smiled, "Tomorrow is going to be a good day."
Donna closed her eyes. She didn't doubt that it would be. There were going to be few people at work besides the two of them.
Josh sat on the couch across from her, and kicked off his shoes. He lay back, watching as she drifted off to sleep. He hadn't been exaggerating when he'd told her that she was essential to him, even if he hadn't meant to say it quite that strongly. She was as essential to him as the air, and he was having a hard time coming to terms with that.