Title: The Gift

Author: Bronwyn Morris (bronwyn_00@excite.com)

Authors Notes: This is my first attempt at fanfiction for The West Wing.
It's set during the first season episode In Excelsis Deo. If anyone has any
thoughts or comments I'd love to hear them, please send them to
bronwyn_00@excite.com

Disclaimer: All the characters belong to Aaron Sorkin and NBC, I'm just
borrowing them. No infringement intended.

___________________________________________________________

The Gift

Josh smiled to himself, satisfied that he'd found the perfect gift. Now if
he could just get to the counter without anyone seeing him everything would
be fine. He took a step forward but froze as Mandy appeared before him.
"What are you getting?"

"Mandy" surprised, he lowered the book to his side, trying to get it out of
sight "What?"

She reached down and plucked the book out of his hand, reading the title out
loud "The Art and Artistry of Alpine Skiing" she raised her eyebrows in
question "Trying to learn how to ski, Josh? You know I could teach you if
you want"

"No" Josh shoved his now empty hands into his pockets "I know how to ski
Mandy"

She nodded "I thought so, so why all the interest in this book?"

He shrugged "I was just looking at it"

"For anyone in particular?"

He feigned innocence "What do you mean?"

She smiled at him but it wasn't a particularly pleasant smile "Well
considering the fact that it's Christmas Eve and you're planning on buying a
book about a subject you already know, I'm going to go out on a limb and say
it must be a Christmas present.... On the other hand..." she continued before he
could reply "It could just be that you want to own the book, because I
distinctly remember you telling me when we were dating that your religion
didn't celebrate Christmas and therefore you didn't buy Christmas presents.
Do you remember that conversation Josh?"

He lifted a hand to the back of his neck, rubbing at the knot of tension
that had developed there, and wondered idly why every conversation he had
with Mandy resulted in an argument "Listen, Mandy....."

"Who's the book for, Josh?"

He sighed, deciding he may as well tell her, because knowing Mandy she'd
probably just follow him around the office all day until she found out
anyway, and he certainly didn't want that. "Donna"

Her eyebrows rose again "Donna?" Josh nodded. "Donna, your assistant?" He
nodded again.

She reached out and hit him with the book she held. "Ow, hey what was that
for?"

"You'll buy your assistant a Christmas present, but not your girlfriend?"

He was rubbing the sore spot on his arm "You're not my girlfriend anymore"

"No but I was, and you didn't buy me anything then"

"Mandy I brought you heaps of things when we were going out"

"Not for Christmas"

"I was Jewish!"

"You're still Jewish Josh, that's the point"

He sighed in frustration "You know I don't think you have a point, and it's
nearly time to go, so if you don't mind" he reached out for the book.

Mandy ignored his outstretched hand "So why this book?"

The question threw him off guard "I beg your pardon?"

"Josh, The Art and Artistry of Alpine Skiing?"

He shrugged self consciously "She wants to learn how to ski"

"So she asked you to get her a book on the subject?"

"Actually she asked me to get her ski's, the book was my idea" Josh held out
his hand for it again.

She ignored it once more, instead opening the book and flipping through it
"Hmmm"

His hand dropped to his side "Ok, what's that mean?"

Now she was all innocence "Nothing, just that it's a very thoughtful gift"

He sighed "Mandy it's a book, lets not make too big a deal out of it, ok?"

"Well Josh, it's not just any book, its rare and expensive, it even has a
molted calf cover and original drab boards"

His jaw dropped a little "How do you know all that?"

Her tone was dry as she replied "It says so, right inside the cover"

He reached over and snatched it out of her hands "Well as much as I'm
enjoying this conversation, I think it's time to go" He walked towards the
counter so distracted that he just missed colliding with the President and
Leo, stepping out of another isle.

"Josh" the President said happily "You're buying something, that's great,
let's see what you've got there" He held out his hand and after a moments
hesitation Josh handed the book over. "Hmm The Art and Artistry of Alpine
Skiing" he frowned as he looked up "Do you want to learn to ski Josh?"

Josh sighed "No Sir... It's umm"

"A Christmas present" Mandy supplied helpfully.

"Really" Leo looked at Josh, with surprise "I thought you didn't give
Christmas presents"

"I don't.... That is" Josh was again interrupted by Mandy

"It's for Donna"

He turned and frowned at her "Thank you Mandy, isn't there someone else you
could be bothering right now?"

She was unperturbed "No"

"Well I think it's a wonderful gift Josh, I'm sure Donna will appreciate it"
the President intervened sensing and argument. He handed the book back to
Josh. "Have you thought about what you're going to write in the inscription"

"The what" Josh asked surprised.

"Inscription, Josh" Mandy said jumping in again "You know the message at the
front...."

"Yes I know what an inscription is Mandy" he interrupted shooting an angry
glance in her direction. "I just hadn't thought about writing one is all"

"Well I never give a book as a gift without a little note in the front"
Bartlet commented "It just adds that personal touch, don't you think Leo?"

"Definitely" Leo agreed, enjoying Josh's obvious discomfort.

The President patted Josh on the shoulder "I'm sure you'll come up with the
perfect message" he said before heading towards the door. "I'll wait for you
all in the car, don't be too long"

Josh sighed and headed towards the counter to pay for his purchase.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mandy stopped and watched as Josh handed Donna the wrapped present, at the
other end of his bullpen. She hadn't come to spy on him, she actually needed
to see C.J. about the carollers outfits, but when she'd noticed the other
woman deep in conversation with Danny, she thought she'd just wait. She'd
watched Danny leave and had started to make her way forward when Josh had
caught her eye, she didn't think he could see her from where he was
standing, and something inside her was refusing to let her move, until she
saw Donna's reaction. So she stayed where she was, watching while Donna
unwrapped the gift. Someone stepped up beside her and cleared his throat.
Mandy jumped.

"Toby.... You scared me"

"Mandy" he nodded a little in acknowledgement of that fact, and took note of
her slightly guilty expression "What'cha doing?"

She glanced uneasily in Josh's direction, before she could stop herself
"Nothing, why?"

Toby followed her line of vision, watching as Donna read the message in the
front of the book "Uh-huh, I guess she liked the book"

"Wait.... You know about that?"

"Know what? That Josh brought Donna a book? Sure, it wasn't any big secret"

"And it doesn't bother you?"

"No, why would I care?"

"Well you shouldn't, I mean.... I don't either"

"Uh-huh" Toby looked unconvinced.

"Hey, what's happening?" Sam asked as he walked up to them.

"We're discussing Josh and Donna" Toby replied, indicating the couple
further down, all three looked over as Donna stood up and hugged Josh
tightly.

"What about them?" Sam asked.

"I honestly don't know" Toby replied.

"Well, I guess she liked the book"

Mandy had been focusing on Josh and Donna but now she turned her attention
to Sam, "You know about it too?"

Sam looked confused, he glanced at Toby, who shrugged, before responding
"Sure" He looked back across the room, "I wonder what he put in the note?"
he shrugged "Whatever it was, she obviously appreciated it" He watched as
Josh and Donna pulled apart.

"What note?" Toby asked.

"Josh wanted some help with what to write in the front"

"And he came to you?"

Sam couldn't help feeling a little defensive "Well, I am a speechwriter,
Toby"

"Me too, he didn't ask me for help...." Toby grumbled.

Sensing trouble, Sam tried to change the subject, turning to Mandy he said
"Did I mention I was going to Bermuda tonight?"

"....I mean I'm only the Director of Communications for the White House" Toby
continued. "What do I know about notes."

Unfortunately for Sam, Mandy wasn't willing to be sidetracked either "So,
what did he write?"

"Yeah Princeton, what'd you come up with?" Toby added.

Standing there with both of them watching him, Sam started to feel a little
uncomfortable, and an overpowering urge to be somewhere else. "You know, now
that I think about it, I wasn't really that much help at all...." and with
that he turned on his heels and fled.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Josh stood off to the side and surveyed the room. Everyone was mingling and
having fun. The President and First Lady had left about a half hour ago, for
New Hampshire, and the rest of the staff were enjoying some holiday cheer,
before heading off themselves for the break. His gaze swept the room again,
and a wave of uneasiness washed over him as he saw Mandy in the other corner
talking to Donna.

"Hmm, looks like trouble" Sam said as he approached.

Josh smiled at him "Hey"

"Hey"

He motioned across the room "Trouble, why?"

Sam followed his gaze "Cause I was talking to Mandy earlier, and she seemed
none to happy about the gift"

"Still?"

"Uh-huh" Sam took a swallow of his drink "She was watching you before when
you were giving Donna her present"

"Really?" Josh asked, surprised "Well, that's kind of creepy"

Sam shrugged "She wanted to know what you wrote in the note..... What did you
write by the way?"

Josh looked uncomfortable "You know, I'd rather not say"

Sam smiled "Well, I'd bet my last dollar that Mandy's over there trying to
find out from Donna...... If I was you I'd probably go over there and try to
break them up"

"Uh-huh and how do I do that without appearing obvious?" He looked hopefully
at Sam "I don't suppose you could....?"

Sam was already shaking his head "Don't even think about it, not even for
you would I subject myself to...."

"To what?" C.J. asked interrupting.

"Hey, C.J. can you do me a favour?" Josh asked, smiling at her.

She eyed him suspiciously "What kind of favour?"

He pointed her in the direction of Mandy and Donna "Could you go over there
and break up that conversation?"

"Why?"

"Cause they're talking about him" Sam supplied, helpfully.

Josh glared at him. "So what?" C.J. asked confused.

"So, he gave Donna a present and Mandy's upset about it" Sam continued.

"Oh, the book" C.J. replied understanding dawning.

"Please" Josh said, coming close to begging. "You know I'd be the first to
help you out if you needed it"

"Uh-huh, and this is evidenced by the goldfish that's now sitting on my
desk, Josh?"

Josh had the grace to blush, as Sam tried to hide his smile "Hey, it wasn't
my fault he misinterpreted what I said..... You know I meant well, and it is
the thought that counts" He smiled at her "Besides I hear you've got some
interesting plans tonight C.J."

"What plans?" Sam asked, intrigued by C.J's sudden blush.

"None, no plans" she replied quickly, and shot a warning look in Josh's
direction "You know I think I will go over and talk to Donna and Mandy, you
just want me to separate them is that right?"

Josh nodded. "Thanks C.J." she took a step away "Hey Claudia Jean?" He
waited until she turned back around, one eyebrow raised "Have a good time
tonight"

She smiled "I will thanks" and with that she walked over towards the other
end of the room.

"What plans?" Sam asked again.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mandy had Donna trapped in the corner, asking question after question, Donna
was running out of way's to dodge giving the answers. She smiled with relief
when she saw C.J. approach.

"Hey guys" C.J. greeted.

Mandy looked a little annoyed by the interruption, but Donna cheerfully
answered "Hi C.J."

C.J. smiled at her in understanding before turning to Mandy "Mandy, Leo was
looking for you before, he mentioned something about....." She paused trying
to think of a relevant subject "Umm, popularity polls, he wanted your
opinion" She scanned the room and noticed Leo talking to Charlie and sent a
silent prayer that he wouldn't be mad at her "He's just over there"

"Really?" Mandy's ears perked up and she took a step back, "I should go and
see him then, excuse me"

"Sure" C.J. replied, she turned towards Donna as soon as Mandy was out of
earshot "Leo's probably going to kill me for that"

"Let me guess, he doesn't want to talk about popularity polls?" Donna asked,
smothering a smile.

C.J. shrugged "How would I know, it sounds like something Leo would talk
about"

"But he didn't send you over here?"

"No, Josh did, he said he thought you looked like you needed rescuing?"

"Really?" Donna's smile bloomed as she scanned the room for Josh, she saw
him talking to Sam, but their eyes locked and held for a moment before she
dragged her gaze back to C.J. "That's so sweet."

C.J. had been indulging in her own smile, not expecting Donna to look back
so soon, she quickly covered it with a small cough "Yep, that's our Josh,
he's a real sweetie" she got herself under control and asked "So was Mandy
grilling you about the inscription?"

Donna gaped at her "You know about that too?"

This time C.J. did smile "This is the White House Donna, there are no
secrets here, you should know that"

Donna smiled "Yeah, I guess you're right"

"So did you tell her what he wrote?"

"No" Donna shook her head "But I'm glad you arrived when you did, I was
running out of excuses"

"Yeah, Mandy can be a bit forceful at times"

Donna's expression conveyed that she thought Mandy could be a lot more than
forceful, but she didn't reply. "So" C.J. continued "It was sweet was it?"
At Donna's expression C.J. burst out laughing "Donna a word of advise, don't
go hugging your boss in the middle of a crowded room if you don't want
people to talk"

Donna digested that information, with a bit of uncertainty, but she nodded
"I guess you're right." At C.J's raised eyebrow she added "Yes it was sweet"

"But you're not going to tell me what it said?"

Donna shook her head "No"

"Ok, ok, I can respect privacy, I'm not a nosy person" When Donna smiled at
her, C.J. smiled back. "Well I'd better be going anyway, it's time to go
home"

Donna's smile grew wider "Have fun tonight"

C.J.'s mouth dropped open "How did you know?...." she trailed off as the
answer came to her "Josh told you?" When Donna didn't answer, C.J. whirled
around to glare in Josh's direction, but since he wasn't looking at her it
held little effect. She turned back to Donna. "You know it's just a business
dinner don't you?"

Donna nodded solemnly "Of course"

C.J.'s eyes narrowed "There's absolutely nothing going on"

Donna cleared her throat "I never thought otherwise" then not being able to
help herself she smiled "C.J. what does it matter? If you like the guy, go
for it"

C.J. stepped closer and lowered her voice "It's a conflict of interest"

"No" Donna shook her head "It's Christmas, you should be happy"

C.J. smiled at her "Thanks Donna" she took a step away and then turned back.
"You know I saw some mistletoe hanging out in the corridor before, maybe you
should get Josh out there and take advantage of it" She turned and left.

Donna smiled to herself as she watched C.J. wave to a few people on her way
out the door, then her gaze travelled back to Josh, and she found him
staring at her. Maybe she would.

________________________________________________

Well that's it if anyone has any feedback, please send it too,
bronwyn_00@excite.com. Thank you

 

 

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