Title: In the Interest of Keeping Things Balanced
Author: Bramble
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Josh is being, you know, him and Donna drowns
her sorrows in creamy and salty snacks.
Spoilers: Small ones for: The War at Home and 20 Hours
in LA.
Category: J/D
Notes: 3rd in the Edibles Series


Joshua Lyman is truly evil.

Well, not in a really, really evil way, just in a
really, evilly sexy way.

There, I said it. I think about him in that way. I
admit it. Yesterday morning, I might have been able to
deny it but today, I believe the cat is pretty much
out of the bag, at least between us.

Everyone at work should still think it's in the bag --
I'm thinking we probably should staple, glue, and tape
the bag, where everyone else is concerned, that is.

Anyway, I especially think about Josh in that bag-less
way while he's kicking right-wing ass.

It's probably a lot like watching a high school
boyfriend score a winning touchdown or something. I
wouldn't know for sure, since in high school I was
more into the arty, quiet types but I'm just saying.

My 'boyfriend' is making the other guy eat the
football right now.

The man who kissed me last night and touched me pretty
suggestively just two hours ago, is on TV doing his
thing. It's a really nice thing. And when I say 'nice'
I mean, evilly sexy.

He's on NBC Nightly News, talking with Tom Brokaw and
the Republican Representative from South Carolina,
Bruce Michaels. Rep. Michaels wrote HR 503, the
"Unborn Victims of Violence Act" that's coming up for
vote in the house this week.

Josh is providing Tom with the White House argument on
why this act is a thinly disguised veil for trying to
undermine Roe V. Wade and really does nothing to
protect women, pregnant or otherwise, from violence.

His 'good' suit looks great on camera and his eyes
have that intense, fiery look he gets when he's
arguing and knows he's right. Granted, that's his
typical look but it's still... sigh-inducing. Well, to
me -- I mean, I would hope Rep. Michaels isn't feeling
urge to look at Josh dreamily and sigh, because that
would be a little weird.

I'm in his office grinning like crazy as this segment
unfolds on TV -- I was going to go to the local NBC
affiliate with him but decided after our little
'payback event' earlier, that it might be best if I
stayed here and cooled off.

Did I mention that the man has nice hands, especially
when they're roaming around your body -- no?

Okay, well, trust me on that.

"Representative Michaels, with all do respect," here
he pauses for a smirk, "this legislation is a
deceptive and dangerous attack on a woman's right to
choose disguised as an effort to protect women from
violence. Acts of violence against women, especially
pregnant women, are tragic and should be punished
appropriately and to the full extent of the law.
Women, however, are notably absent from the Unborn
Victims of Violence Act..." His last sentence before
being cut-off, is said in his 'you are an idiot'

"That's not at all true, besides, coming from.."
Michaels tries to interrupt.

"Sir, I would appreciate you letting me finish. I let
you finish your point, so just zip it for a minute."

I cringe a little when he says that but really, in the
scheme of things, zip it isn't all that bad -- he's
done worse. I'm not even sure that CJ will yell at him
for that. After all, he's scoring big points with the
sisterhood right now.

"Mr. Lyman, your last comments, please." Brokaw says,
as Rep. Michaels continues to turn an alarming shade
of red and squirm in his seat a little.

"Thank you Tom, as I was saying," he pauses for a smug
smile, "when pressed, proponents of HR 503, Rep.
Michaels excluded, of course, candidly admit that
their purpose is to recognize the embryo or fetus as a
separate legal 'person'; this being for the expressed
purpose of setting precedent that an embryo is an
'individual' with rights, thus endangering a woman's
right to choose in this country." He finishes with a
self-satisfied grin.

Oh, he did very good there, I should work on my
wrong-righting plan, you know, as a little present for

"Joshua Lyman, Deputy White House Chief of Staff,
thank you.."

"Thank you, Tom," the dimples break out and I think I

"Representative Bruce Michaels of South Carolina,
thank you."

"Thank you." Michaels looks utterly pissed.

"Coming up next, the NASDAQ climbs...."

I turn the volume down and decide to go see if CJ was
watching, I should get a handle on whether the zip it
comment is a big thing or not.



I turn to see Sam striding towards me.

"Good evening, Samuel." I respond good-naturedly.

He looks slightly puzzled, "So, wasn't Josh on the

"Yeah, he just finished," we turn the corner as we
continue to walk side by side.

"You didn't go?"

"Nah, had to stay here and hold down the fort.."

"Hmm...he say anything?"

"Zip it."

"That's not too bad,"...he considers, "are you gonna
go see CJ to feel his... comment out?" He asks, with
a strained look on his

"Yeah.." Okay, that was an odd choice of words but
that could have just been Sam, he likes to use weird
phrases sometimes.

"Yeah, Josh can be a handful."

That one makes me stop. Sam notices I'm not keeping up
with him and turns around. He's smiling.

"What was that, Sam?"

"Nothing, just commenting that Josh is probably quite
a challenge to keep your hand around," he pauses to
grin, "figuratively, of course."

"Of course."

"Well, I have to go here," he points to his office.

"Yes, you do," I try hard to give him a death glare.

"See you later, Ms. Mix-A-Lot.." he practically runs
into his office cackling and shuts the door, leaving
me standing in the hallway with my mouth hanging open.

I am going to kill him -- and when I say him, I mean
my dumbass, 'handful' of a boss. I'll let Sam live,
only to make his life miserable.


I'm waiting in his office when he swaggers in.



He puts his backpack down, "so, were you watching for
me through the window?"


"I'm here now," he smiles smugly, "did you see me on

I nod.

"I was good. I bet CJ's not even pissed about the zip

"She's not."

"Didn't think so," he starts humming as he walks by me
to look down at the surface of his desk, searching
something out.

"So, I was thinking, why don't we order a pizza, my
treat, and go over that thing? You know, and maybe if
you're feeling all frisky later you could try to even
the playing field a bit? The ball is in your..."

"And when you say go over that thing, you mean me
explain that thing to you?" I ask in an icy tone,
interrupting him and completely ignoring the whole
feeling frisky comment all together.

"Ummm...yeah." I think he's starting to catch on that
something's up.

"Huh." I spit out.

"Uhhh...what happened? You liked me earlier."

"I have an idea, Josh. Why don't you and Sam go over
that thing and he can explain it to you?"

"We can order a veggie pizza?" He tries hopefully.

"No, I don't think so. It's 7:00 PM, I've been here
since 7:30 this morning, I think that's a long enough
day, I'm going home."

"Donna, what happened?"

"The next time you want to go blab to Sam about
something that happens between.."

He rushes past me and closes the door loudly.

"You know, Donna, maybe we could close the door before
you start.."

"Hmmm, I don't remember you closing the door before
making a certain comment about some kind of
role-playing sex fantasy of yours involving a school

"Okay, that was after midnight, no one was here.."

"So that makes it okay?" I stare at him.

"I thought so.." he says with a sad smile and a
quieter voice.

I take a deep breath, "Josh, I'm going to go, I ran
into Ainsley earlier and she invited me to go
shopping, I'm just going to do that.." I say tiredly.

I'm not so much mad anymore as I just want to get out
of here for a bit -- if I stay, I know he'll say
something funny and break me down -- he deserves to
have me stay mad a little bit longer. He told Sam I
grabbed his ass, for god's sake.

"You'd rather go shoe shopping with a Republican than
eat veggie pizza with me?"

"Yes, I'm suddenly feeling a need to bond with the
sisterhood," I say as I start to leave.

"She's not the sisterhood, she's the enemy.." he
blurts out rather melodramatically.

"She's less of the enemy than you are right now.."

"Do you really think that?" He looks shocked.

Sometimes I forget how well we know each other, how
easy it is to push buttons.

"No..." I admit.

"You'll be back tomorrow, right?"

"Josh, of course I will..I just don't want to be here
right now." I say as I open the door and walk out.


When old boyfriends have caused me distress in the
past, I usually head right for the chocolate.
Something about the sweet creaminess makes me feel

When Josh pisses me off, I crave salty and tangy
foods, don't ask me why, there's probably some
symbolism in there somewhere. I'm too irritated to
look for it right now.

So, here I am, standing in the kitchen with a bag of
tortilla chips, dipping them into a jar of cilantro
walnut pesto.

Oh yeah, shopping with Ainsley? We went to Trader
Joes, she wanted to stock up on snacks for her office.


I was seriously in the mood to do some 'men suck',
self-indulgent clothing and shoes splurging and I wind
up coming home with a bag of junk food. Really good
junk food, but junk food none the less.

I grab my newly purchased bag of peanut butter filled
pretzels and head to my room, ready to feed my
self-pity by listening to Sarah McLachlan and eating
the whole damn bag. Let him touch my butt when it's
twice the size -- he can then go tell Sam all
about that.

By the time I get to "Ice Cream" it hits me that this
is indeed the perfect Josh-snack; it's salty and
creamy at the same time, because really, who the hell
knows what category he fits in to... I sure don't.

The phone startles me out of my contemplation --
12:10, it's him; I know his ring, the jerk. The
thought that I imagine him to have his very own ring
really disturbs me.

Let him leave a message, Sarah and I still have
one-third the bag left.


"Donna, I know you're there.." his voice invades my

"Look, I didn't say anything to Sam...well, I did, but
I didn't say it was you. I wouldn't do that, he

There's a pause.

"I know how long your machine tape is, I don't have
much time left. I was just asking his advice about
what it meant. I wanted it to mean what I thought it

He sighs.

"Look, Donna, you know me. You know how bad I am at
this, I'm bad at this under the best of circumstances,
I certainly have no clue with you and I really want
this to...it's just, I don't know how to woo and I
really don't want you to start accessorizing
with a wicker basket..."


I pick up the phone.


"Yeah." I try to speak in a monotone so he doesn't
think I've forgiven him or anything.

"Hi," he says eagerly.

"Where are you?"

"At home, I just got in.."

"Did you eat?" Okay, I'm just concerned because if he
didn't eat dinner he'll be in a horrible mood
tomorrow, plus he really does need to eat dinner -- he
needs to eat healthier.

"Yeah, I actually did order a pizza with Sam.."

"A veggie pizza?"

"Okay, I'll try that again, I ordered a pizza with

"Is that your way of saying it was a big, meaty, man

"Instead of a girly, veggie one? Yeah." I can hear the
smile in his voice and it makes me grin in spite of

Damn it, I shouldn't let him off this easy.

"So, you sat around and had greasy, manly-man pizza
with Sam?"


"Did you talk about me more?" I ask, trying use an
indignant tone.


"You didn't tell him that I let you touch me?"

"Of course not," he says honestly. At least I think
he's being honest.

"Okay," I sigh, "he really guessed that it was me?"


"And you really had to ask him what it meant?" I sit
up in bed and lean against the headboard.

"Well, I..."

"You seemed to know what it meant later in the day."

"Well, yeah, that was after I had confirmed it,

"Last night didn't confirm it?" I ask, as I think back
to our kiss on the floor.

"Well, look," he sighs, "Donna, please, I know I'm an
idiot in one or two departments, this is one of

"Yeah, it is that.." I say as I crunch a pretzel,
"what's the other one?"

"Other what?"

"Idiot department?"

"Computer stuff.."

"Yeah," I agree as I crunch again.

"What are you eating?"

"A peanut butter filled pretzel..he called me Ms.

It's quiet for a second, then he mimics out, "my
anaconda don't want none -- unless you've got buns --
hon.." then dissolves into a fit giggles.

"Josh, did Sam let you drink?"

"I had one beer, I would think that was funny without
a beer, Donna."

"Well, it's not funny."

"It is kind of.."

"I find it disturbing that you know the lyrics to
'Baby Got Back'.."

"Donna," he says in a serious voice, "I think you've
'got back'.."

I start giggling now, "Actually, I think my butt's
kind of flat."

"I don't think so at all, I really like it."

"Really, because at first.."

"I was just a little thrown off, it was really sexy
when you turned around like that." He says in a rush.



"I liked yours too.." I say, remembering the way he
felt under my hand, he was nice and firm, a perfect
fit in my palm. I wonder what he would feel like
without pants...

"Did you like it when I touched you?" he asks in a
throaty voice.

"Yeah, I liked your hands, they felt nice.." Good god,
what the hell are we doing?

I bite into another pretzel to fill the silence and
try to get my mind off of the road it's starting to
travel down. It's a very naughty road.

"I'd like my hands to touch you in more places.." he

"Hey! I thought the touching ball was in my court

"You want to touch my balls?" He asks playfully.

I giggle, "'Okay.." wait, no, well, yes, I do, but I
shouldn't be doing this, not now, "I mean, Josh, I
think.." he interrupts me.

"You were really, *really* nice to touch, Donna" I'm
very conscious of his breathing, "I could come over
and touch you again, maybe this time, there could be
less clothing involved..."

"Joshua.." I'm suddenly feeling a little warm, I'm
also feeling the urge wiggle my hips around a bit as I
talk to him. This is good..I mean bad, this is very

"I'm just saying.."

"Josh, remember when I was talking about the ways of
love, and how I was wise in them?"


"I may have been overstating that a bit.."

"Yeahhh.." he agrees, a little too much I think. He's
not exactly one to talk.

"Okay, well, I'm just saying, between the two of us...
maybe we should slow this down a little."

"Maybe." he sighs, "Assuming that I don't do anything
stupid between now and when I see you next, do you
think I could possibly kiss you again tomorrow

"Yeah, I think that would be nice."

"And you could still right that wrong as you see

"Maybe, but you're still being punished for talking to

"Ohhhh... that would right the wrong nicely.." he says
in a flirty tone.



"What are you wearing?"

"Are we gonna do this again?" I ask into the phone
with a smile.


"Jeans and a sweatshirt, what are you wearing?"


"You're talking to me in your underwear?"
Mmmmmmm...Josh in his boxers.

"I'm in bed," he replies huskily.

Mmmmmmm.." Okay, that one was out loud.

"You should get in bed too.." he says.

"I'm on my bed."

"Get *in* the bed and talk to me for a few more


"Yeah," he confirms.

"Okay, hold on," I say, way too enthusiastically.

I put the phone down so I can slip my sweatshirt off
and slide my jeans down before I crawl under the sheet
and blankets in just my underwear.

See, I have no clue about the ways of love, I think
what I'm doing now pretty much proves that.

"'Kay, I'm back," I pant into the phone.

"What were you doing?"

"I had to take the jeans and sweatshirt off.."


"Josh, are you there?"

"Oh, yeah, I'm here.."


"So," he starts, "say I was there, you'd let me touch
you some more, right?"

"Yeah," I answer, as honest to god waves pass through
my lower stomach, making it feel as if it's dropping
through the floor. My hand starts to wander down my
side -- I catch myself as it starts to creep under the
waistband of my panties.

What the hell am I doing?


"What would you want me to do?" I ask.

God, this is wrong, I can't do this while I talk to
her on the phone, she just said she wanted to slow
this down. I move my hand back up and lay it down on
top of the sheet by my side. This isn't wooing.... I
need to woo.

Suddenly, I'm thinking of gathering rosebuds and how
certain parts of her body might, in fact, look like
little pink rosebuds. I think I moan. Shit.

"Josh?" I hear her voice on the phone and she sounds
as crazed as I am right now.

This was not why I called, I called to apologize, to
let her know...oh hell.


"Yeah?" She sounds all husky, I should have done this
before. I should have done this first.

"I'm really sorry about before, about what Sam said.."

"I know.."

"Good, because.."

"Josh, I think I know where this is going and I'm not
sure we should do this right now."

"I know.." I say with an exasperated sigh.

"Not yet..not on the phone," she adds softly.

"I know.." I say again, turning over on my stomach and
pushing my face into the pillow as I grimace.

I am going to kill Sam tomorrow.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Sure," I say as I turn my head sideways, resting it
against the pillow.

"Well, just in the interest of keeping things
balanced, are you..." she trails off.

"Am I what?"

"Finding yourself aroused right now?" She has to ask?
She really has to ask?

"Very, very much so, Donna," I assure her.

"Okay, me too.." she answers in a whisper that just
about sends me over the edge.

"Care to share any details with the class?" I ask.

"Wouldn't that kind of lead to that place we're not
supposed to be going to tonight?"

"Probably.." I agree.

"Okay, I'll see you tomorrow?" Her voice sounds sleepy
and disheveled and I fight the urge to start humping
the mattress.

"Yes and I get to kiss you."


"Can I pick where I kiss you?"

"I'm thinking in your office.." she answers.

"That's not what I meant.."

"Ohhhhh....," she sighs deeply.

"Are you going to think about me after we hang up?" I
ask, closing my eyes.

"Yes." She answers breathlessly.

"Good, I really need to go now.."

"Really? Because I would think you need to.." she
starts playfully.

"Don't say it." I moan, "please don't say it or I will
right now and I'll take you with me.."

"MMmmmmmmmm.." I think the big cheater has started
already -- she's just evil.

"Goodnight, Donnatella.." I whisper.

"Night, Joshua.." she replies softly, "see you
tomorrow.." and I hear the phone click.

I have two complete thoughts before I fall into a
sweaty, spent sleep ten minutes later.

The first is that I can't believe I almost did that
while talking to my assistant on the phone, while
being pretty sure she was considering doing the same

The second thought is that if I take the word
assistant out of that thought and replace it with the
word Donna, it feels completely rational and okay.


The End



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