Least Expected

Summary: One relationship takes things to a new level, and one is going on the rocks.

Rating: PG

Category: Josh/Donna, Sam/Mallory, new characters

Note: This story picks up about a week later. Also, and this is important, there will be references to the real show. I'm gonna treat it like this happened during the show. Example: there are references to TLB in here. Only a few though. That's kinda how it's gonna work. Sorry if I've totally confused anyone.

Disclaimer, Claimer, and Such: Once again, I don't own anyone except Brooke. I've also decided to lay claim to the phrase 'Disclaimer, Claimer, and Such'. OK, I'm done.

***********

"Hey, Donna, do you know if Sam's in yet?" Josh called from his office. "Just a second," I replied. I picked up my phone, called Cathy, then gave Josh the answer. "No, he's not in yet," I said, standing and entering his office with his schedule. Josh looked up from the files he'd been going over. "Really," he said, looking slightly perplexed. I shrugged. "Maybe Mal and him had a date," I said. Josh nodded. "True."

"Should I let you know when he gets here?"

"Yeah."

I walked back out to my desk. Josh had been acting- different. It was like he was trying to tell me something without actually saying anything. He seemed to be almost pushing me away, but not. After reviewing that train of thought, I decided I needed to talk with someone. Namely Brooke.

Josh headed off to a meeting a few minutes later, and I went down to Brooke's office. "Hi, Brooke. How're you?"

"You don't care how I am. No one does. Everyone just comes down here and tells me their problems. No one cares if I have problems."

"You don't. You have a good job, a great boyfriend, you're 28, you're financially secure with multiple degrees... I'm really not seeing many problems with your life."

"Okay, you've got me there. What's up?" I sighed and sat down on her couch. "Josh is acting weird," I said slowly. Brooke stared at me then said, "Okay, a little more specific please." I ran my train of thought by her. "Okay, that's weird."

"That's what I said."

"This is going to take longer than five minutes."

"Probably."

"Okay, I think a girl's night is in order."

"After work tonight?"

"Barring war, famine, disease, or Sam or Josh speaking in public."

"Okay," I laughed. "See you."

***********

I didn't return to my office until 7:30 that evening. When I did get back, Donna was packing up for the evening. "Where're you going?" I asked, leaning against the doorway of the bullpen. "Brooke and I are having a girls night out," she replied. "Okay," I said and walked into my office. Donna followed me. "Josh, are you okay?"

"Yes. Yeah, I'm fine."

"Are you sure?"

"I think I'd know whether or not I'm okay, Donna," I said, a bit too sharply. She bit her lip and said, "Okay" very quietly. She walked out and shut the door behind her. I sat down and buried my head in my hands. "What the hell is wrong with me?" I mumbled into my hands.

***********

We managed to find an empty table in the bar and we ordered our drinks. I told Brooke what been going on with Josh lately. Brooke leaned back and thoughtfully sipped her drink. "I don't know... do you think it might be another backlash from the shooting?" I shrugged. "No... I don't think so. I mean, it's possible, I guess, but he's only been acting like a jerk with me."

"Who knows? Men are so confusing sometimes."

"Sometimes?"

"Most of the time. There are occasional moments when they make sense."

"Like... uh... um, give me a few minutes and I'll think of something." I laughed and stood up. "Where're you going?" Brooke asked. "I'm gonna go talk with Josh," I said.

***********

I opened my door to find Donna standing there, looking... I couldn't read her look. "Can I come in?" she asked. I nodded and stepped aside. She came in and faced me. "Josh, we need to talk."

"Okay... about what?"

"I think CJ knows."

"Damn!"

"Josh, what's so bad about that? You couldn't keep it quiet forever."

"I couldn't?"

"Yes, Josh, you. I wanted people to know, but you said it would be disaster. So I went along with it. And now"-

"CJ knows, and she's gonna be totally pissed."

"How do you know? It's only bad if the press knows, and even then, CJ can lie and say nothing's going on."

"Donna, you don't know CJ as well as I do. She'll come into my office and inform me of how stupid I am."

"You honestly think that?"

"Yes!"

"Why don't you want anyone to know?"

"I told you, it'd be bad pr"-

"Don't give me that. Josh, we can cover with the press. Why don't you want the Senior Staff to know?" There was a long pause. "You don't want them to know because you'd look bad, Josh. It'd look bad to the rest of the staff for the Deputy Chief of Staff to be dating his assistant," Donna said, her tone getting icier with each word.

"Donna, that's not it."

"Don't lie to me, Josh."

"I'm not! I can't believe you'd think that about me!"

"Josh..." She trailed off. Without another word, Donna turned and headed for the door. "No, Donna, wait"- I stopped as the door shut behind her. I was left standing in the middle of my apartment. Alone.

***********

I drove around aimlessly for at least an hour. I'd stopped once, by the Potomac; Sam and Mallory had been walking together, arms around each other. It just added to my depression. Eventually, I wound up in a bar, sitting alone at a table when I heard a vaguely familiar voice. "Donna Moss?" I turned around to see none other than Josh's Dr. Free Ride, Eric Herald. "Eric?" I said. "Wow, it's been a while."

"Yeah... can I sit down?" I nodded and he slid into the seat across from me. "How've you been doing?" he asked. "Me... I'm good. I'm the assistant to Josh Lyman, the Deputy Chief of Staff." I allowed a hint of pride and smugness enter my tone; rub his nose in the fact I was somebody. "What're you doing here?" I asked him. "Here as in DC, or..."

"DC."

"Seminar on bone surgery. What're you doing here, as in this bar?"

"I... the guy I'm dating and I had a fight."

"Bad?"

"It'd rival some of the ones we had, if that's any help." He laughed. "Okay. So now you're here."

"Yeah..."

"You really care about him, don't you." I looked up in surprise at him. He smiled wryly at my look. "Donna, I know I was a jerk when we were together. I know damn well why you dumped me. Anyway, you really care about him?"

"Yeah. He... he's everything to me."

"What were you fighting about?"

"He didn't want to tell co-workers and I did. Plus, there were some other things.... Some things left best unsaid."

"Oh... look, Donna, I know I'm probably the last person who should be giving out romantic advice, much less to you, but hear me out." I nodded for him to go on.

"Donna, if you really love him, don't walk away. If he's smart, he'll come after you, but just in case... don't walk away."

"Yeah, I guess you're right." I glanced at the door. Eric nodded. "Go on," he said with a smile. As we stood to leave, I noticed something. "You got married?" I asked. He nodded. "With a three month old at home." I smiled again. "It was good to see you, Eric," I said.

I drove back to Josh's apartment and knocked on the door. Josh opened it and just stared at me. "Hi, Josh," I said. "I'm home."

***********

Donna and I were sitting on my couch, facing each other. "It's not about keeping it quiet, is it," Donna said. I shook my head. "Partially."

"Josh, what's wrong? There's something else bothering you, I can tell."

"Is it obvious?"

"No, Josh. I just know you well enough. What's wrong?" I could tell Donna was really worried by the look in her eyes. I stood and walked over to the boarded up window that I hadn't had time to replace. "This is what's bothering me, Donna. I...I broke a window with my hand, for God's sakes. And... I don't know..." I trailed off and looked down at my badly scarred hand. "I couldn't stop it. I'm scared I might do something like that again." I turned to Donna, who had stood up and followed me over. "I'm scared I might hurt you," I said quietly. "Maybe not... like that..." I gestured at the window, "but I might say something or do something..." I couldn't finish. Donna crossed the space between us and wrapped her arms around me. I relaxed in her embrace. After few minutes she pulled back and looked me in the eyes. "You're gonna be okay, Josh," she said softly, lightly kissing my forehead. "I promise."

***********

Two days later, things were back to normal. No one even seemed that surprised when word got out that Josh and I were together. CJ had given Josh very strict rules, according to him; basically, we couldn't go out on dates in public. For a while anyways. Which meant we'd have to postpone the dancing he'd promised me as a way of apologizing for acting like a jerk. I was busily typing when Sam walked up. "Hi," he said. "Josh isn't around, is he?" I shook my head. "Okay, good. Cause I need a favor."

"Sam, no. Last time I did you a favor..."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. You've just got to tell Josh something."

"Okay."

"I'm cutting work to go out with Mallory and I need him to cover for me with Leo."

"When?"

"Now."

"Sam, it's five o'clock! Where are you going?"

"Movie, dinner, my place. In that order, if I'm lucky."

"Okay, fine. You owe me though."

"Yes, I know." Sam headed off and I shook my head. Josh entered his office moments later. I jumped up and followed him. "Josh, Sam told me to tell you to cover for him with Leo cause he's leaving now." Josh turned to me with a confused look. "Okay, say it slower and in an understandable sentence structure."

"Sam just came by and told me to tell you that he's leaving now to go out with Mallory, and he needs you to cover for him."

"Why couldn't he just tell Leo?"

"You obviously don't remember what happened last time."

"Uh.... Birthday card?"

"Bingo." Josh looked at the mountains of work on his desk. "You know, I wouldn't have to cover for him if I'm not here," he said, a grin spreading across his face. "Joshua-"

"C'mon, let's go. Nothing important will happen. Dinner, a movie-"

"CJ-"

"Who cares? She'll yell at me- if she finds out. What she doesn't know-"

"- can't hurt her." In the years I've worked with Josh, I've discovered he can be very persuasive when he tries. I sighed. "Okay, fine, but if we get in trouble, it was your idea." Josh shrugged. "We won't get in trouble," he said, grabbing his coat.

"JOSHUA!!" I winced as CJ stormed down the hall the next morning. "It's not news, is it?" I asked. "No, but he intentionally went against my rules!" I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote on it. CJ left the door open and started yelling at Josh. I held up my sign, which read "I told you so!" Josh sighed and tried to look pitiful. "Donna, don't even come in here to rescue him!" CJ called. "I had no intention of doing so," I said with a final grin at Josh. Josh was back to normal, CJ was yelling at him, and Toby was heading down the hall, on the warpath. All was right with the world.

 

 

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