Title: Symptoms (1/1)
Author: Aerial312
Rating: T
Category: Fluff
Timeline: S1
Disclaimer: I own nothing…I just borrow.
Feedback: Greatly appreciated.
A/N: In "The Stackhouse Filibuster" when CJ first talks to Donna about the cat statue, Donna said that she didn't go on that trip because she had strep.

"Now here's a fun one for you," Josh grinned, turning to his left where Donna sat in the center of the backseat of the car. "Did you know that 1000 years ago the land on which Cairo was established was under water?"

Donna nodded.

"How did you know that?!" Josh demanded. It had taken him the first five minutes of the ride to glean that little gem from the dry book on his lap.

"We all got that same briefing book."


He scowled. "I'll find some bit of arcane knowledge that you haven't heard yet."

"That's the spirit," she sighed.

Donna leaned back against the leather seat and closed her eyes. She was wedged between Josh and CJ for the short ride back to the White House from the State Department. CJ was busy reading, not paying any attention to them. Josh turned to look at Donna. She'd been awfully quiet this morning. Yesterday, he hadn't been able to shut her up with her random bits of trivia. Today she rode silently. Her brow was furrowed slightly. She didn't look comfortable.

He leaned in and whispered, "You okay?"

Donna nodded, but didn't open her eyes.

Josh wasn't convinced. "You sure?"

Donna opened her eyes and turned to glare at him. "I'm fine, Josh," she hissed, trying not to draw CJ's attention. "I can't sit in peace for ten minutes?"

Josh held up his hands in silent surrender.

Donna closed her eyes again. "I just have a headache, is all."

So she wasn't fine, Josh noted, but then she tipped her head onto his shoulder, and he kept his mouth shut. The rest of the morning passed by quickly. There were lots of little loose ends to tie up before they went to Egypt for five days.

"DONNA!" Josh called, as he looked down at the briefing book.

"You bellowed?" she asked dryly, leaning against the doorjamb with a slight smile.

"I've got one for you."

"This is what you've been working on since we got back?" She sighed, flopping down in the visitor's chair.

"I've gotten a lot of other stuff done…" Josh protested.

He crossed around his desk and sat on the edge, gaze focused on her. She looked tired. He made a mental note to let her go a little earlier tonight.

"Well?" Donna questioned, tilting her head to the side. "This tidbit of information that you think is more important that what I was doing?"

Boy, was she cranky today. She rested her head on her hand.

"Yesterday you were all about the trivia," Josh told her with an impish grin. Full dimples.

She wasn't finding him charming. At all.

"We have a lot to do today."

"Okay…" Josh sighed, returning to his chair.

"Well, I'm here now," Donna grumbled.

Josh looked up at her. "You're a little mercurial today."

"I have a lot to finish up," she explained. "And I'm tired," she added as an afterthought.

She wasn't looking at him, but staring off into space, slouched in the chair.

"How's your head?"


"Earlier, in the car, you had a headache."

Donna shrugged.

"You should order us some lunch. My treat." Maybe a little food would do her some good. "I won't subject you to the trivia."

"I'm not hungry, but what do you want?" She stood slowly, and crossed back towards the door.

Josh studied her for a moment with concern. Tired, headache, no appetite.

"What. Do. You. Want?"

And cranky. Very cranky.

"Burger. Usual way. And fries." Donna nodded. "Get yourself some soup at least," Josh suggested.

"Maybe," she gave him.

"Give you some energy," he smiled.

Donna looked at him crossly. "I said maybe. I'll put in the order." She turned and walked back to her desk.

Josh looked after her. He was starting to get really worried. She was obviously not feeling well. And if it was obvious to him, then he knew that she must be feeling pretty terrible. She usually hid little maladies.

Josh got up and crossed to the doorway of his office, looking out into the bullpen. Donna sat slouched at her desk, head cradled in her hand again, as she phoned in his lunch order. Josh's brow furrowed. He didn't want to confront her if it was going to make her really angry with him, but he didn't want her to suffer either.

He was deep in thought when the phone on his desk rang. He scurried back into his office and picked up the receiver.

"Sam wants to see you for five minutes. I told him you were free now. Since you're obviously not doing anything you should be anyways."

Josh chucked. " 'Kay. I'll head over."

"Your lunch will be here in a half hour."


After his meeting with Sam, which predictably went longer than five minutes, Josh was sitting as his desk again, scribbling notes into the margin of a legislation draft. He looked up as Donna put the styrafoam container down on his desk.

"Your lunch."

"Thanks!" he smiled.

"You're chipper," she scowled.

"You're sour," he teased.

Donna shook her head, looking down at the desk, "I just…"

"Don't feel good," Josh finished. "Right?"

Donna nodded, almost imperceptibly.

"Sit," Josh instructed, pointing towards the visitors chair.

"I have a lot to finish up…" Donna protested, not moving from her spot leaning on the desk.

Josh stood, and crossed to close the door. He walked up behind Donna and placed a hand on the small of her back.

"Come sit," he said softly.

He took her forearm in his other hand and led her to sit in his chair. She didn't fight him. Donna sunk into the large desk chair, curling her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. Josh perched on the arm of the chair. She looked down at her lap.

Josh just studied her for a moment. He hated seeing her like this. He had an overwhelming urge to wrap her in his arms until she felt better. He could usually keep those urges under wraps, but he doubted it today.

He took a deep breath. "What's wrong?"

Donna didn't answer, but tipped her head onto his arm.

Josh gasped. "You're burning up!"

His hand flew to her forehead. She was really warm.

"Oh, Donna…" Josh rubbed her shoulder and she curled closer. "Why didn't you say something earlier?"

She was silent for a moment, then answered quietly with a sob, "I really wanted to go on this trip."

The trip. Right. It hadn't even occurred to him that if she was this sick today, traveling tomorrow was probably out of the question. He pulled her tighter, wrapping both arms around her so that her head fell against his stomach.

"I was hoping I'd start to feel better," she cried into his shirt.

He hated to see her cry. He didn't know what to do when she cried except hold on tight. "But you feel worse?" he asked.

She nodded. "My head hurts, I've been nauseous all day, and my throat is on fire. It's strep. I was really hoping it wasn't and it would go away."

"You had that last year. You were out for two days."

"And you went crazy."

"I didn't—"

"You did."

"I may have been a little lost." He had called her no less than ten times each of those days. He was feeling a little bad about that, now that he saw just how lousy she felt when she had it.

"I get strep almost every year," Donna sighed. "It sucks."

"You need to go to the doctor," Josh told her.


He ran the heel of his hand back and forth across her shoulders. "I'll take you." Where had that come from?

She turned her head to look up at him, without lifting it off his chest. "In the middle of the day?"

"You need to go to the doctor now, not at the end of the workday," he answered. "And I don't want you to drive." He was rationalizing it for himself as well.

"I don't feel up to driving," Donna admitted.

"And as busy as you claimed we were earlier, it's a lot of reading and some phone calls. They can wait."


It was a testament to how awful she was feeling that not only did she not argue with him, but she sounded hopeful.

"Go pack up your stuff. I'm gonna call Leo and tell him what's going on."

"Okay," Donna murmured into his shirt. She didn't move.

Josh smiled. "Or stay right here. That's fine too."

He continued to rub her back as he reached for the phone. He tucked it under his ear and punched a few buttons.

"Hi, Margaret. Can I talk to him for a minute? I'll be quick. Hey. I'm going to cut out early today. Donna's really sick, and I want to make sure she gets to the doctor. Yeah, I don't want her to drive. She thinks she's got strep. Yeah, she's feeling pretty awful. We're, uh, gonna have to take her off the trip. She won't be feeling better enough by 6am tomorrow even if we get her to the doctor this second. No, she's not happy about it, and neither am I, but she can't go like this. I will. Thanks."

Josh hung up the phone. "Leo says he hopes you feel better soon."

Donna didn't respond. Her breathing was slow and steady beneath his hand. He really didn't want to wake her. Or let go of her. But the sooner she got antibiotics, the better.

"Donna…" he squeezed her shoulder gently. "Come on, wake up."

Donna shook her head against his shirt. "Comfy, finally."

Josh smiled, and despite the little voice in his head that was telling him not to, kissed the top of her head lightly. "Let's get you to the doctor, so you can get some medicine, and then you can sleep."

"Okay…" Donna sighed, sitting up slowly. "Ugh. Everything is spinning."

Josh steadied her with a hand on her shoulder. He stood and held out his hand to pull her to her feet. She got to her feet and let her head tip onto his shoulder again.

"You're coming back to work after you take care of the sickie, right?"

Josh looked down at her. She didn't sound thrilled about that. He sure didn't want to come back to work. He didn't want to leave her alone. But he probably shouldn't stay. "Do you want me to?"

Donna hesitated before answering. "No…"

"Then I won't." So much for shouldn't.

She lifted her head off his shoulder and looked at him. "Really?"

He nodded, throwing a few books into his backpack.

"I'm probably not going to be much fun…"

Josh grinned. "You'll be out like a light five minutes after we walk in the door. I'm bringing reading." He led her out of his office with his hand on the small of her back. "I want you to sleep. That's what you need."

Donna glanced around quickly before whispering, "Can I use you as a pillow again?"

Yes. No question. But he couldn't seem so eager, so he answered, "We'll see," as he helped her into her coat.