Fading Lines

Part III



Communications Bullpen 12:34 pm August 3, 2001

"Welcome back, Sam!" Ginger greeted her boss with a smile. "Don't get overly excited. I'm only allowed to work half days, and any meetings I have must be in my office. But still," Sam looked around the work area fondly, "it's nice to be back." Sam walked into his office and gingerly sat down in his chair. He was spinning around a few times when Josh walked in. "Happy to be back, aren't we?" Josh commented. Sam stopped himself with his hands and gave him a look. "This from the man who was dancing in his office the first day back."

"First full day back, my friend."

"Whatever." Sam glanced at the door, then back at Josh. Josh went over and closed it, then turned back to his friend with an expectant look. "Have you told CJ about... you know..."

"Donna and I?" Sam didn't miss the brief smile that lit up Josh's face as he mentioned Donna. Sam nodded. "No."


"Yeah, yeah, I know. It's CJ. She'll freak."

"If I were you, I'd be more worried about Leo. CJ can't fire you."

"Gee, thanks for the ray of sunshine Sam."

"Anytime." Sam looked down at his desk and grinned. "I have work." Josh laughed and stood. "Yes you do, mi compadre." Josh opened the door and nearly walked into CJ. "Your office. Now." Josh sighed heavily and started walking. He stopped suddenly and turned around. "You were eavesdropping?"


"I'm going, I'm going." They walked past Donna's desk. Josh smiled brightly at her. "Hi Donna. CJ's about to kill me, so could you run the office for awhile?" Donna rolled her eyes. "What'd you do?" Josh gave her a pointed look. Donna winced as Josh walked into his office and CJ shut the door. Josh sat down behind his desk. "Claudia Jean," he said. CJ glowered at him. Josh held up his hands in a surrender position. "I'm innocent, I tell you! I did nothing wrong."

"You did nothing wrong."


"Josh- you and Donna are dating, and you didn't tell me? How does that not constitute wrong?"

"I was going to tell you."


"Eventually. When I thought you wouldn't, you know, totally freak out."

"Why would I freak out?"

Josh gave her a slightly puzzled look, then replied, "Cause it would be hell on earth for you regarding the press?" CJ shook her head. "Actually, no. The press likes Donna. And they know I like Donna, and that anyone who wrote anything wrong about her would have their ass kicked, then be thrown through a window."

"They don't like me?"

"They still have yet to forgive you for the secret plan to fight inflation." Josh put his head on the desk. "Will I ever live that down?" he mumbled. "Ah- no." Josh sat up and looked at CJ. "If you're not freaking out about the press, then why-" CJ grinned. "For the sheer entertainment I get out of scaring you." Josh stood. "CJ-" She laughed and shook her head. "Seriously, Josh, I'd be more worried about Leo." Josh sighed and sat back down. "How come?"

"Cause he's not in the office pool."

"He's not in the- there's an office pool?"

"Yeah. It's been going for a good year now, I think."

"Who won?"

"Let's see, Sam found out first- damn, Charlie wins."

"Wait, wait- who's in it, and how much?"

"Me, Toby, Sam, Charlie, Ainsley, Margaret, Mrs. L, the First Lady-"

"Mrs. Bartlet's in on this?"

"Yeah. There's a couple assistants and two reporters in on it too. I think the President would have joined, but it wouldn't look good. I think it's around $250.00 by now." Josh stared at CJ, then shook his head. "True or false- with the exception of Leo, were Donna and I the only ones who didn't know about how we felt."

"That'd be true, and I think Leo has a suspicion. At the least, he knows Donna's got a crush on you." Josh threw his hands in the air. "I give up. Out. I need to think." CJ grinned. "Okay. I'm gonna go tell Charlie." CJ left, and Donna walked in. She shut the door. "How'd it go?" Josh grinned. "Far, far better than expected," he replied, coming around the desk and kissing her. "Did you know there was an office pool?" he asked when they broke apart. Donna raised her eyebrows. "You're kidding."

"Nope. Charlie won over two hundred dollars." Donna sighed. "We're really pathetic." Josh grinned. "I'll get over it," he murmured before kissing her again. Donna stepped back after a few moments. "Work."


"It's what we do here."

"Right. Donna-" She turned back from the door. "I'm gonna have to tell Leo soon." Donna sighed and nodded. She glanced at her watch. "You've got a staff meeting in five minutes." Josh nodded and followed her out. "Okay." Josh headed towards the Oval Office, but was stopped in the hall by Charlie. "Josh!"

"Hello Charlie."

"I just wanted to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for telling Sam first."

"You mean the bottom of your wallet." Charlie grinned. "That too." Josh shook his head. "I'll talk to you later."

Deputy Communications Director's Office 1:03 pm August 4, 2001

"Hey, Sam," Ainsley said. Sam glanced up. "Hello Ainsley. What're you doing here?"

"I was bored."

"So you came up here to hassle me."

"Well, not really to hassle you. Just- to be up here." Sam gave her an odd look. "Right."

"We missed having you around."

"Who's 'we'?"

"The staff." Sam nodded, still very confused, and turned back to his work. "So, Sam, there's a new Chinese place opening near my apartment," Ainsley said, doing her best to hide a grin. "You doing anything tomorrow night?" Sam shook his head. "You wanna come?" Sam stared at her, then asked, "Are you asking me out?"

"No, this is just two people getting to know each other." Sam shrugged. "Okay. Tomorrow at seven," Ainsley smiled and stood. "I'll see you later." Sam shook his head again. "That was weird," he announced to no one in particular.

Deputy Communications Director's Office 3:53 pm August 4, 2001

"Hello, Sam," Mallory said walking into the office and sitting down. "Mallory," Sam said, surprised. "How're you?"

"Uh, I'm, um, fine," Sam replied, nervous. Mallory grinned. "Listen, I got two tickets to that new movie, Evolution. Do you wanna go?" Sam shrugged. "Sure. When?"

"Uh, the showing is at seven-ten tomorrow night." Sam nodded. "Okay." Mallory smiled and quickly left. It was a full five minutes later when Sam realized what he'd done. He picked up the phone and dialed. "Hi, Josh? I may- no, I do- have a problem."

Deputy Chief of Staff's Office 4:02 pm August 4, 2001

"Stop laughing, Joshua," Sam growled. Josh stopped, glanced over at Sam with a smirk, and started laughing again. "Josh, I swear, if you don't stop right now-"

"What's so funny?" Donna asked as she entered the office. "I accidentally agreed to go out with Mallory and Ainsley at the same time tomorrow night," Sam said. Donna raised her eyebrows and glanced at Josh, who was still chuckling, then back at Sam. "First, Ainsley asked you out?"


"Second, you came to Josh for help?"

"Who else could I go to? CJ would laugh at me, I wouldn't even consider asking Toby." Donna just stared at him. "You?"

"Sure! I could tell Mallory-"


"Why not?"

"Cause she'd freak, and tell Leo, and my job would once more be in jeopardy!"

"Has your job ever not been in jeopardy?"

"Shut up, Josh!" Donna sighed. "You're either gonna have to tell one of them or stand up one of them. And believe me when I say, women take it a lot better when you tell them as opposed to standing them up." Sam stared at Donna, then shook his head. "Fine. Would you tell- Mal, I guess."

"What is this, seventh grade study hall?"

"No way. No. I'm not gonna- No!"

"I'm not gonna tell her."

"You have to!"


"Please, Donna?" Donna sighed and looked out the window for a minute, then back at Sam with a mischievous gleam in her eyes. "I'll tell her- if you'll bring me coffee for the next six weeks." Josh dramatically gasped and said, "No, Sam! Don't do it! If you bring her coffee, she'll control you for life!" Donna glared at him. "Coffee from Starbucks, next six weeks. Deal?" Sam sighed. "Deal." Donna grinned as Josh shook his head sadly. "Sam- I've lost him now."

"Keep up the dramatics and you'll lose me too," Donna said as she headed for the door. "I love you, Donnatella," Josh said in a slightly singsong voice as she opened the door. She turned around with a smirk on her face. "Love you too. Now shut up."





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