Author's Note:This fic has been on my site for a while, and I finally decided to read through it, realise it was not as terrible as I previously believed, so copied it and others to here. I came up with this some time ago, but originally intended for to be a long series, as I changed the Santos campaign. But then other writing projects og in the way, and I lost the muse for West Wing stories. And then the series ended with Josh and Donna together which quenched my desire for writing alternative ways.
With Disclaimers to Semisonic, the song She's Got My Number is from their album All About Chemistry, and Ryan Adams Desire, from the album Demolition.
Post Episode: King Corn
She's got my number, she always did, she can always see where my secrets hid.
Josh stood outside the door of her hotel room, his hand hovering mid air, poised to knock on the fake wood veneer. Courage and fear battled briefly within him, the latter eventually winning. He scuttled back to his door and with shaking hands slipped the key card in the lock. Nerves getting the better of him it took several attempts until finally the click sounded and he pushed himself inside.
She's got my number I must confess, one look in her eyes and I feel undressed.
Stumbling into his room, he noticed the song on his radio was the same one which had induced him to try and see her. Recovering his balance he walked towards the device and discovered it was a CD player. Someone had evidently left the music behind.
Navigating the technology behind this device was beyond him now, so he settled for collapsing in a slump on the bed, letting the lyrics wash over him. Whoever wrote it must have had an insight to him and Donna years ago. Briefly he debated checking the disc booklet for S. Seaborn, but exhaustion conquered the wild thought.
Trouble was he was beyond sleep at this moment. Campaigning combined with lack of sleep and long frequent plane flights had driven him to the point of insomnia. He was incapable of anything right now, his short trip in the hall had just proved that.
She's got my number, she always did, she can always see where my secrets hid. Everything about me is hers to tell, she's got my number, she always will.
Every line could be about him and Donna. She knew him far more than he did her. Though she probably didn't know how long he'd been in love with her. His math on that had been quite precise lately. Why had he never told her? The question had been puzzling him ever since she left him. The White House, that is. Not that the distinction mattered to him.
She had left, and he found himself on the same path only days later, albeit for a different candidate. He had imagined them working for the same guy, joint campaign managers, engineering to get the next democrat in the White House. Instead she was working for 'Bingo Bob' and he found himself torn between wanting her to succeed and walking across the hall to beg her to join him. What stopped him was the belief that he was no where near worthy enough of her and that she would probably refuse him anyway.
She's got my number I must confess, one look in her eyes and I feel undressed. She can see right through all my little games, she's got my number, she has my name.
Josh certainly felt exposed with Donna lately. He had lost his easiness around her, the ability to banter. Usually he could tell her anything, now he felt awkward just seeing her. That moment in the lift had been pure torture.
Truthfully his moment for telling her how he felt had passed. Back in Germany if he had been brave enough, things might have been different now. He had no excuse for keeping silent, no excuse whatsoever. Gaza should have been a wake up call. Leo had even given his blessing by telling him to go. It had been an unwritten truth in the Bartlet White House; not to come between him and Donna. Even outside the administration, on the Hill and amongst the Press, that truth was known and accepted as gospel. People knew that to speak with him they had to go to Donna first and sometimes vice versa. They had protected each other and gone to bat for one another many times. Now they were on opposite sides and it bothered Josh far more than most who knew him realised, mainly because he hadn't told anyone.
Late night driving with the telephone, in the car where I'm always waiting, waiting for the girl to call, I'll be lost on a lonely late night.
He did feel lost without her. She had kept him grounded, saved him from himself and his job so many times. And he had done so little for her in return. Perhaps she deserved this break from him; he had brought her nothing but grief. She deserved the chance to build a life for herself that did not include him. And if he truly loved her, the best thing he could do was to let her go, and love her from afar.
But there was a part of him which selfishly hoped that she cared about him too. The blindly optimistic part of his psyche which he rarely listened to. The one which argued that she wouldn't have looked after him after Rosslyn if she didn't care about him, that she wouldn't have been the one who spotted the first signs of his PTSD if she didn't. Her emails from Gaza had been a balm to him during his flight to Germany and her hug after he had given that book, memories he would cling to, as opposed to facing the bleak time ahead without her.
She's got my number I must confess, one look in her eyes and I feel undressed. All of the world's waiting at her door, she don't even care what they're waiting for. And every little mistake that I've ever made, every little sin on her display. And through it all I find that I want her still, she's got my number, she always will.
It was this verse which made him sit up and think. He had accepted a long time ago that he would never stop caring about Donna, the only thing which he debated on was telling her. And despite his fears this song was pushing him to commit himself, telling him that he had nothing to loose.
Before he could change his mind, Josh rose from the bed and ejected the CD. Grabbing a piece of note paper, he scribbled a message then slipped both it and the CD in it's case. Then he walked out of his room and knocked on the door across the hall. Placing the CD on the floor he rushed back to the room. Miraculously the key card worked first time, enabling him to enter his room and close the door in time to watch her through the spy hole. He saw her puzzlement at the CD below her, the surprise at the message, then the turmoil of emotions as she stared at his door. An eternity later she turned to renter her room and he was left to wait.
To say that Donna was surprised to find herself across the hall from her former boss would be a mild understatement. She had just returned from an exhausting fundraising trip of the Southern States, the last thing she needed was an encounter with Josh. Yet there he was in the lift, silent and awkward, trying to be normal but failing abysmally. The fumbling with his key card had brought back painful memories of happier times, as she took it from him and opened the door. She had gone into her room feeling confused and subdued, with a longing to talk to him about everything. Breaking away from him was the hardest thing she had ever done, yet going back to him would be all too easy.
Sighing she gazed again at the package in her hands. Idly her fingers fiddled with the piece of paper which had been slipped into the disk jacket. Her eyes read the words but without attaching any meaning to them. It was all about subtext with her and Josh. Coffee, flowers in April and books on Alpine Skiing, these were inconsequential things to everyone else, to them they were the big guns, symbols of unspoken declarations.
And through it all I find that I want her still. Play track 4. I'll be across the hall. I miss you, Josh.
The amount of ambiguity they could put into one note was astonishing. Yet sometimes there were words everyone could understand. I miss you. Her heart had almost broke when she read those words. She could hear his voice say them, the tone he would use. She doubted it would hurt more than if she'd actually stood before him and heard him say them. Then again it probably would.
Though it hurt her to admit it, CJ was right. She had needed to leave, the lines between her and Josh had become too blurred for comfort. But leaving was one thing, shutting him completely out of her life was another, and wrong of her to do, because it had put too much distance between them, making them doubt what they felt for each other. She had left in the hope it would give them the chance to erase that blurred line altogether, but then Will had asked her to join the Russell campaign.
And she had agreed without thinking ahead what it would mean to Josh, or why Will had asked her in the first place; she understood the man he wanted to beat. Did Will honestly think he would get Josh on 'Bingo Bob's' campaign after being forced to have him as VP in the first place? No. But he had her, because she knew Josh's strategy and how he would act. And he had asked her when she was still feeling the hurt of Josh's non-reaction to her resignation, when she wanted to prove she could survive without him.
But she realised now that decision was letting the opinions of others control her life, not her own. And her heart wasn't in making Russell the American candidate. It was with Santos for America. She had Googled him when she found out who Josh had left the White House for, but she knew most of the Congressman's work through her job in the west wing. Josh knew how to pick them. He had found a good man, the real thing for the second time. She should have ignored CJ and waited for Josh to pick his guy, knowing he would tell her and ask her to join him. But now it was too late. If she left the Russell campaign now... Donna sat up. What was stopping her?
She got up and found her discman. Silently she slipped the CD inside and skipped to the fourth track. Slotting her headphones in, she listened to the song, while her hands clutched the note and read the words again. It wasn't his CD. She knew his music tastes well enough to know that this hadn't been planned, instead it was purely spontaneous. If it was the former, he would have chosen plenty of other songs to convey the meanings of his soul to her. Nevertheless, she understood. She always would, he knew that.
The track came to an end and mechanically her hand reached for the back button. She didn't need to hear it again, but the five minutes and two seconds were time enough to collect her thoughts and think. She had left him without any thought, it was only right that she used that process before going back. He deserved that. Red lights were only an issue when either of them were in an accident.
She collected her thoughts over the second playing of the track, then accidentally skipped back to the one before it, and ended defining meaning from that as well. By the time she found herself listening to the other one after it, she was checking the writing credits for a certain name too. This act of madness made her stop the CD and put the discman and album away. All this reminiscing and searching for meaning were stalling tactics; her nerves were getting the best of her.
With determination, she got up and walked to the door, grabbing her key card on the way just in case this didn't work out. The latter was a survivalist motion, which her heart hoped she would never use. In a few steps she was across the hall and knocking on his door.
He opened it seconds later. For a moment they stood either side of the threshold, staring at each other, taking in the circles under eyes, the silent communication through their sleep deprived pupils. A wordless conversation passed between them, full of things which had long been left unsaid, until the invisible line disappeared. And then she was in his arms and he was kissing her, making the line extinct forever.
Together they moved further into his room, where he ably assisted her balance as she raised her leg to kick the door shut. Hands came into play then, exploring hair and clothes covered skin. She began to return his kiss with matching intensity, as they both drank in this oasis of freedom after a desert trek of nearly eight years.
When breathing became an issue they broke apart to fall on the bed as a sent of their surroundings returned to them. Josh rolled them over on their sides, his expression becoming one of contentment as his hands continued to stoke her hair. Donna returned his look as their eyes continued their silent conversation begun across the threshold of his hotel room door. Her hearing became aware of the song playing on his stereo which he had figured out the workings of during the wait.
Two hearts beating, like a flower, and all this waiting for the power, for some answer to this question, sinking slowly water's higher. Desire. Desire. What was it with music tonight, for again the lyrics seemed to hold meaning for the two of them to define.
Then Josh kissed her again, and suddenly the subtext behind the song lyrics didn't matter anymore. Only what was behind his actions, his silent, wordless continuation of their unspoken conversation, as they avowed themselves to each other body and soul.
Yet they resonated through her throughout the rest of the night, serving as an accompaniment to the new beginning established between them.
With no secret, no obsession, this time I'm speeding, with no direction, without reason, what is this fire, burning slowly, my one and only, desire.
"Good morning. This is your 5.45 wake up call."
A hand had reached out from underneath a pillow, picked up the receiver of the ringing device and put it to the ear so the mind could hear this message.
"Thank you," Josh replied to the voice, then by rote replaced the handset back in place. He turned, only to be hit with the pillow which he had carelessly tossed aside in order to answer the phone. With one hand he chucked the offending item in the opposite direction while the other captured the hand which had sent the object in the first place. "Hi," he uttered to his previously sleeping companion.
"Hi," Donna returned. The two of them grinned at each other, then allowed themselves one chaste kiss before rising from the bed to dress.
NSNBC resonated through the room news from the world while one switched on the laptop and the other dealt with the coffee. Josh pressed a kiss to Donna's hair as he placed the steaming cup beside the keyboard where her fingers tapped away a letter of resignation from the Russell campaign.
"Are you sure about this?" He asked her as he read the letter over her shoulder. "I thought you didn't want us working together."
"I did think it wouldn't be wise," she admitted, her fingers pausing so she could take a sip of her coffee. "But I remembered last night that we work well together and one part of making sure this works is solidifying that relationship as well. And we both know how difficult it is to have a romance outside the White House. Campaigning makes it even harder."
"Only if we allow it to be so," Josh replied. "And you should know I care far too much about you to let that happen."
"I do know," she assured him, touching his hand briefly. "But I remember the times when things occurred that were out of our control."
"You may be right," he conceded. "But you should know that you won't be going back to being my assistant. We will be equals. You know as much about the dark horse campaigns as I do."
"Good," Donna returned, touched by his honest heartfelt proposal. She tapped a few more keys then finished the letter. "Do you think he'll say yes?" She asked Josh as she turned round in the chair to face him fully.
"He should remember you," Josh reminded her. "Well enough to know that I'm lost without you."
"Not lost," Donna decided, smiling. "Just roughing it," she added, making him smile.
"I wish we had time for a polish," he remarked, his tone innuendo laced, "but we've got to get going."
Donna nodded and drained the rest of her coffee. She rose from the chair and dealt him another kiss before changing into the fresh set of clothes he had snuck across the hall the night before.
Minutes later they exited the room, neat and fresh, and headed for the Santos campaign headquarters. On their way past, she slipped inside the Russell campaign room and printed her letter of resignation, passing it to a surprised Will Bailey on the way out. They felt his eyes on them as they walked on down the corridor together, hands clasped, but looking every inch professionals.
"At 10 we tour the Todd family orchard in Ames," Ronna could be heard saying as they entered the room. "For a talk about agricultural policy with farmers. Followed by a photo op in Audubon with Albert, world's largest bull."
"Campaigns full of metaphors, isn't it?" the Congressman could be heard saying to his wife as Josh and Donna came towards them.
Matt looked up and the room fell into silence as the people within registered the fact that their campaign manager had brought one of the enemy into the room. "Donna?" He queried, as he stood up, not in question over her identity but in her presence.
"Hi, Congressman," Donna returned nervously.
"I recruited her for the campaign last night," Josh explained.
"Finally," Matt smiled as he shook her hand. "It's good to have you on board. You and Josh make a good team, I remember."
"So did I, last night," Donna replied, glancing at him as he gestured at Ronna to continue outlining the schedule for the day. He took his mobile out and put it to his ear. "Josh Lyman for Toby Ziegler."
"Say Ned, did Andrea send over the markups on the dispersal?" Matt asked as Donna moved to observe by the window.
"Yeah," Ned replied.
"I wanna weigh in before it goes to the floor," Santos reminded him.
"Yeah, you can read it on the way," Ned assured him.
"Next is a coffee bean caucus at Hamburg Inn #2," Ronna continued.
"The what?" Mrs Santos asked.
"It's a diner," Josh replied, still on hold. "They line up mason jars with each candidate's name on it and every customer gets a coffee bean to toss in their favourite's."
"Do I even have a jar?" Matt asked.
"We even sent a volunteer for pie in all week," Josh replied.
"You got seven beans, honey," Helen jokingly praised.
"Is the volunteer as big as Albert?" Santos returned.
"Next is the nation's oldest Dairy Queen," Ronna continued. "Where you try soft-serve and talk about jobs and the economy. Next we fly to..."
"We have a plane?" Josh sought to confirm.
"Sort of," Ned informed him.
"With wings?" Josh asked.
"Council Bluffs, for the 'I impale myself on the sword of corn-based fuel' speech," Ronna continued.
"What are you gonna say about ethanol?" Helen asked.
"Best thing since soft-serve," Josh replied.
"Ethanol is subsidised to the tune of what a billion dollars a year, Josh?" Helen returned, and Donna hid her grin, remembering a similar debate between her and Josh during Bartlet's second campaign.
"What's up after the corn expo?" Matt asked.
"Prep on the Brown and Black debate," Ronna replied.
"All of you are gonna prep me for a debate on race?" Santo queried incredulously.
"Yeah we should at least go over the opposing arguments," Josh replied. He was still on hold. "See if we can get Hoynes on the issues."
"I grew up in Houston, Josh," the Congressman reminded him. "I lived the opposing arguments."
"Okay that's it," Josh announced to all. "Parking lot 10 minutes."
"Terrible about the woman in Turkey, huh?" Matt remarked to him as they reached the threshold of the campaign room. "What do you think the President's gonna do?"
Josh shrugged. "Not much I'd guess. I mean she's a Turkish citizen. It's their country."
"They're executing her because she slept with her fiancé," Helen remarked. "Thank god she didn't cook him breakfast."
"Hey, we execute minors," Josh returned. "The rest of the world thinks that's barbaric."
"I'm with the world," Helen replied.
"You joining us this morning?" Her husband asked her.
Helen shook her head. "No Peter's got the sniffles. Think we're gonna stay here for a while. Honey, a billion dollars a year to make a gasoline additive?"
"I'm gonna go and get my coat. Kiss the kids goodbye," Santos informed them before exiting to the room next door.
"Pictures are better without the coat," Josh advised.
"Circulation's better with it," the congressman returned.
"Register has us at 3 percent," Helen informed Josh.
"Yeah, I saw," Josh replied.
"Iowa's Hispanic population's 2.8 percent. A billion dollars that could be spent on child health care, prenatal care, Head Start education."
Matt rejoined them. "Catch up with this later?"
"Yeah," Helen agreed.
"See you," Josh said in farewell.
The group dodged the rain and climbed inside the camper van which was acting as their campaign bus. Donna looked at it a little wide-eyed, but then remembered that Russell had all the advantages of vice presidency behind him, and this was a dark horse campaign, with all it's hardships.
"We wrangled you an invitation to go pheasant hunting with one of the Osceola county supervisors," Josh informed the congressman as the camper van rattled down the cold wintry Iowa roads. "Get into camo gear, sling a 12-gauge over your shoulder and get a few photos for the AP."
"With a gun?" Matt queried, incredulous.
"Yeah, you were in the Marines, you know how to shoot, right?" Josh returned.
"Yeah, 20mm chain gun, but it might be a little hard on the pheasant," Matt replied. "You know Helen's not wrong about ethanol."
"Oh please. Come on," Josh replied, as Donna hid her grin.
"It's bad for the environment. It's expensive. It's the mother of all panders," Matt continued.
"After antagonising New Hampshire voters, we're gonna march into Iowa and do the same thing?" Josh queried.
"Transportation is difficult and storage is a nightmare," Santos returned.
"Is this the insult and injury tour?" Josh countered. "We're going to North Dakota next tell them South Dakota has a cooler sounding name?" He turned to face Donna, only to find her looking him. "Don't tell me you agree with him?"
"Josh we had the same argument during Bartlet's second campaign," Donna reminded him. "I also think that if we're gonna do this, we ought to do it right."
"What do you mean?"
"Toby once said to the President that if you get stuck it's best to tell the truth, because you can remember that. People want a campaign of honesty, Josh. After the past four years they need it."
"It's one thing to have a campaign of honesty, it's another to have one of literally no votes," Josh returned. "What about farm subsidies, you gonna attack them too?"
"Farm subsidies began as a way to help farmers in the Depression," Matt replied. "It's decades out of date. It's corporate welfare."
"Don't you actually wanna get votes in one of these states?" Josh asked him as the camper van came to a halt.
They grabbed umbrellas and made their way out into the deluge of rain. "Hey 75 percent of the money goes to the richest 10 percent of American farmers. We're talking about writing six-figure checks to Chevron, the John Hancock Insurance company, NBA basketball stars," Matt continued as he exited the camper van.
"Repeat after me: 'Family farming is a precious way of life in this country and we'll do everything we can to protect it,'" Josh requested.
The Congressman ignored him as he introduced himself to someone and tried in vain to persuade them back inside the cafe. "I wanna take another look at the ethanol speech," he replied to Josh.
"No," Josh tried once more.
"As soon as we get back on the bus," Matt said.
"It's not gonna happen," Josh replied, though he could feel Donna's eyes on him as they entered the diner, and suddenly he knew he was facing a losing battle.
JEFFERSON CATTLE BARN, COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA.
The argument continued in between debates about how deeply to throw oneself in the pool of the race debate with a Latino candidate, and during the flight to Council Bluffs, though Donna missed the last as she took the campaign bus to the convention centre. When she met Josh however, she knew immediately that he was still fighting to make the congressman see the logic of taking the pledge.
"Please tell me you don't agree with this?" Josh almost pleaded with her as he joined her in the covered walk way into the centre.
"Josh, if we start lying on this, how long is it gonna take before we're agreeing to anything just to get one vote?" Donna returned. "Where's the guts I saw during the New Hampshire visit?"
"Oh that was all him," Josh replied. "And the president was encouraging it."
"He was? That's good." Donna looked at him. "Josh, we both know the President doesn't want Russell. He was forced into having him for VP as much as you guys were. The congressman isn't the first person to disagree on popular issues and he won't be the last. This campaign shouldn't just be about getting the votes. It should be about making a difference. That's why I joined it."
"All right," Santos said to them at that moment as he joined them. "You know I'm not gonna do this. Any of it. I'm gonna go in there and tell these people the truth. We have to help farmers in the tough years and then reform the system so we can target those who really need it. Not these agribusiness's and multimillionaires."
Josh looked at him and tried one more time. "You walk out on that stage and come out against ethanol, you are dead meat. Bambi would have a better shot getting elected president of the NRA than you will have of getting a single vote in this caucus."
"Let him say what he wants to say Josh. He's right," Helen remarked.
"No he's not," Josh insisted.
"Josh, if he says what he wants, he may not get votes, but he'll get noticed," Donna argued. "The press will pick it up and run with it, just as they did with the education in New Hampshire. People will want to listen to him because he's suggesting another way. He'll be his own man."
"You want me to support something I know to be lousy policy and a colossal waste of taxpayers money to round up a couple of votes for a caucus I can't possibly win?" Santos added, watching them debate.
"I want you to support a policy that helps alot of people so that a year from now when you are sworn in as president you can make the changes we both know need to be made," Josh replied, although he felt himself agreeing with what they were saying.
"I'm ready," Santo returned to them, walking away to the podium.
"Matt," Josh called at the last minute. "Be your own man," he said, and Matt grinned before walking on to the stage.
As the host introduced him, Josh turned to Donna, who was grinning at him. "You're doing it again you know."
"I know," Donna replied. "Still missed me?"
"Definitely," he answered before kissing her.
" 'I'm not here to tell you what you want to hear. I'm here to make America stronger, to make a difference for all of us, not just the ten percent who receive the return on ethanol. I may say a lot of things you won't like during this campaign. But I won't be dodging the big issues, or avoiding the difficult questions. Thank you.'
"And that was Congressman Matthew Santos, who together with Senator Arnold Vinick surprised everyone today as they said no to the ethanol pledge," a news anchorman could be heard saying as the Santos campaign staff relaxed in the hotel's bar and dining area.
Josh and Donna were at the bar, casting mostly astonished and secretly admiring expressions at the television coverage of the speeches concerning the ethanol pledge. None of them had expected Vinick to refuse as well, though they knew his voting record on it in the Senate.
"You did good today," Donna told him as sipped his beer.
"We did good today," he corrected her, tapping his bottle to her own in silent toast. "I just hope it gets us some votes next time."
"It will," Donna assured him. "Russell's a house of cards. His support's a mile wide and an inch deep. We can't compete with him on endorsements or institutional support. But we don't have to worry about Russell. Hoynes will find a way to take him down."
"This the famous Josh Lyman nine point plan?" Mrs Santos asked as she joined them.
"You and the congressman finish dinner?" Josh asked her.
"Yeah. So is it?" She queried.
Josh nodded. "Hoynes is smart. He has access to money. Plenty of chits he can call in. Once Russell crumbles, his support will flow to Hoynes unless some has established themselves as not Hoynes."
"Not Hoynes?" Helen echoed.
"There's gonna be lots of primary activists who are very uncomfortable with an adulterous moderate DLC Democrat," Josh replied.
Helen laughed. "My god. You actually stay up nights thinking this stuff up?"
Josh shrugged. "It's a living."
"Well I'm going to bed. Please don't keep him up too late. He's tired. Good night, Josh. Donna."
Josh nodded and then drained his beer. Donna followed suit then followed him as they walked over to where the Congressman was.
"Hey, is it still snowing outside?" Josh asked as they came upon the table.
"Yeah. Supposed to clear in a couple of hours," Ronna replied.
"We're gonna have to change the schedule tomorrow?" Josh asked.
Ronna shook her head. "Not yet."
"Josh, as I live and barely breathe," a voice said suddenly and Josh turned to see one of their opposition enter the dining area. "Senator, how are you?" He asked him.
"Well, aside from the dozen Republican farmers who just tried to show me the business end of a Mr Popcorn machine, I'm fine." Vinick grinned. "You know Shelia, Bob."
"Hey," Josh greeted them, shaking hands. "You remember Donna?"
"Course," Vinick replied as he greeted her. "Decided to join him at last?"
"Yeah," Donna replied. "I should have joined him awhile ago."
"Then again, if you hadn't left, I wouldn't have gone to Texas," Josh replied, before turning to perform more introductions. "Senator, Congressman Matt Santos."
"Yeah, we've met," Vinick returned to their surprise. "How are you, Matt?"
"I'm good, Arnie. You?" Matt turned to his mystified campaign manager. "We cosponsored a doomed immigration reform package a couple of years ago."
"We fought the good fight. With a good match," argued Vinick.
"Still went down in flames," Matt pointed out.
"We're supposed to be driving back to Des Moines now but with the storm we thought we'd eat and see if it clears up," Vinick explained.
"We could see if the kitchen's open," Matt offered.
"We'll check it out," Josh decided and he and Donna walked away.
"You enjoying your first day on the Santos for America campaign?" He asked her as they halted briefly, watching the Senator and Congressman talking.
"A lot better than what I heard planned for Russell," Donna admitted. "You know Will wanted a lot of fringe candidates to stand by Hoynes until everyone thinks he's as out there as they are?"
"I heard," Josh replied as they resumed their walk to the kitchens. "I wouldn't knock it though, he did get a dead guy elected."
"Yeah, but he hired me so he get to you," Donna replied.
"No he didn't," Josh shook his head, coming to a halt before the double doors. "He had my no long before you joined his campaign."
"He knew that I knew what you would do."
"Can't deny that. But if he knew that, he also knew that you wouldn't betray me like that," Josh replied quietly. "No matter how we parted. You're your own woman, Donna. If anything, I'd fight more for your policies than my own."
That made her come to a halt. "Really?" She asked him quietly.
He stopped beside her. "Of course. How many debates over issues have you won between us during these seven years?" He smiled as he watched her think back, and realise he was right. "If I haven't told you before, Donna, you make me a better person. You push me to fight the battles I know are worth fighting, even though I sometimes think I can't win. And you give me a few ideas on how to fight them, ways I wouldn't have even thought of." He paused to reach out and touch her face, his fingers softly caressing her cheek as her eyes gazed into his. "Don't ever loose your view of the world, Donnatella. It's one of the many reasons why I fell in love with you."
What else could she say to this, but a kiss? Donna lost herself in the feel of his lips against hers, and the touch of his caressing fingers, before someone opened the door in front of them, reminding them that they were not in the privacy of one of their hotel rooms.
Yet it was a moment she would come to reflect on, as they continued the campaign, striving and eventually succeeding to make Matt Santos the nomination at the democratic convention, then successfully wining the campaign for the white house. A moment she would regard as a precursor to their future, first as partners in life and work; as chiefs of staff to the President and First Lady, then in marriage and children, as they strove to make a difference in their country. And she would always be grateful for the point in the past when she had listened and decided to join Bartlet for America, for bringing her and Josh together.