Summary: Sequel to 'Should Have Seen it Coming'.
Category: Josh/Donna, Sam/Mallory, new character(s)
Disclaimer, Claimer, and Such: I don't own and WW characters or the Backstreet Boys or their songs. I do own Brooke Markenson, her apartment, her car, her boyfriend, and her life.
Note: Once more, I'm switching between multiple POV's. I don't know what's gonna happen till I write it, so I don't know who I'll go between. Donna, definitely. Josh, probably. Brooke, maybe. I doubt I can do more without confusing myself and you great readers, who are probably tired of this note and want to get onto the story.
"Donna..." Ah, the ever familiar Donna-I-need-you-to-do-something-but-you'll-hate-me-for-it whine. I looked up at Josh to see the matching look, complete with sad puppy eyes. "What do you want?"
"Well... you know the Embassy party that we're hosting?"
"Josh, I'm gonna tell you right now, get to the point in the next sentence you say or I'm not helping you, going with you, or doing what ever it is you want."
"Could you come to the party?"
"What do I get for it?"
"Uh... I'll let you off work before eight three days next week."
"Deal." That's an offer that is very, very, rare and is not turned down, no matter what the circumstances. "Good. Be there at seven." With that, Josh turned and headed for the meeting he should have been at five minutes ago.
After checking Josh's schedule and noting he'd be gone for about an hour, and delegating my work to other staffers, I headed down to Brooke's office. "Hi," I said as I sat down. Brooke's only sign she'd noted my presence was a nod. "So, I was thinking, and I decided you were right." I said. Brooke raised her arms in victory, then looked at me and said, "About what?" With a sigh I replied, "Josh." Brooke jumped up and began doing a little dance around the room. "What are you doing?" I asked.
"That is known as her 'happy Snoopy dance'", a male voice said from the doorway. Brooke stopped her dance and threw her arms around her boyfriend, Justin. "I thought you were in New York," she said. "I got back early."
"More importantly, how'd you get in?" I asked. Justin looked over at me and smiled. "Hi, Donna," he said. I'd been at Brooke's apartment often enough when he dropped by that we knew each other fairly well. "And I got a security pass, plus I know a couple SS guys. But I just dropped by for a minute- I've got to go home, unpack, make dinner reservations for this great Italian restaurant at seven tomorrow..." Brooke grinned and sat back down at her computer. "I'll meet you there," she said. Justin left and Brooke turned to me. "Well, that took you far too long," she said. "What, about Josh?"
"Okay, fine, I accept that. Uh, could you find out, uh, you know..."
"If he's absolutely in love with you? No."
"First of all, any relationships I get too involved with tend to fail. Second, I wanna watch you two work it out on your own."
"That not fair."
"That's life." Brooke gave me a wry smile. I rolled my eyes and glanced at my watch. "Oh, shoot. I've got to get back." I raced back up to my desk, beating Josh by seconds.
I glanced at the door again. No sign of Donna, Brooke, or Mallory. The First Lady had invited Mallory to the party, though I suspected there were ulterior, matchmaking motives involved. A few moments later, Sam tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around. The women had entered- and they looked stunning. Brooke had on a grey-purple dress with a dark purple wrap. Mallory was wearing a black sleeveless dress, and Donna was wearing an absoultley gorgeous floor length, blue-green gown. When I managed to tear my eyes away from her and glanced at Sam, I noted he had a similar look on, directed at Mallory. I cleared my throat and broke his stare. They hadn't noticed us yet, so we turned around again and pretended not to see them. "Hey, Sam," Mallory said. Sam and I turned around, feigning surprise. I sized Donna up. "Hey, you look good," I said. Donna sighed and muttered something to the effect of "He's a Fulbright scholar, and the best he can do is 'You look good'..." Toby spotted us and headed over. "C'mon, I managed to find a table that's nowhere near the President or any lobbyists." As we walked, Brooke asked. "Are we near delegates?"
"Yeah. Better than a history of the White House in Latin or reasons why we should pass a law banning parakeets or something."
"A law against parakeets?"
"I'm just making this up as I go, okay? Leave me alone!" We arrived at our table, held down by CJ, wearing the same red dress she'd worn at the Christmas concert. We sat down; I was between Donna and Sam. Sam had Toby and Brooke between him and Mallory. This put him directly across from Mallory, however. This greatly amused Brooke and CJ, for some reason. After we ate, the President stood to make a toast- or, in his mind, a short speech. After a few minutes, I glanced at my watch, then at Toby. The look on his face indicated that the President had wandered more than a little on the speech. "Thank you for coming, and God bless America!" The President finished amid applause. "A two minute toast tops. He turns it into a seven minute speech on foreign relations!" Toby grumbled as we stood and drifted towards the doors near the lobby. We weren't leaving; it was just easier for us to be reached here if duty called. "How much longer do we need to be here?" Donna asked. Sam looked at his watch. "I'd say another two hours." She gave a world-weary sigh. I grabbed a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and grinned. "Relax. It's a party. We're getting paid to be here."
"Where'd Mal go?" I asked. "I'll go see if I can find her," Sam immediately volunteered before heading off. "Hey, Josh, Toby, I need you for a second," Leo came up. The two men sighed and walked off. "I'm gonna follow Sam," Brooke said, glancing into the lobby. I walked over to a waiter carrying drinks, but as I turned back towards CJ, I saw she'd been accosted by a group of delegates. I smiled and slipped out into the lobby. Sam and Mallory were standing by the stairs arguing. "You know, it's a Friday night. Why aren't you out with your boyfriend?" Sam asked. Mallory's angry look changed to one of sadness. "He broke up with me," she said sadly and sat down on the stairs. Sam sat down next to her and put his arm around her shoulders. "I'm sorry, Mal," he said. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed movement near the door. It was Brooke, who'd also been watching this. She nodded lightly at someone across the room before heading back into the banquet hall. As I watched, the First Lady casually walked past the stairs, pretending not to see the couple seated there. Biting my lip to keep form laughing, I turned and re-entered the hall. After the First Lady saved CJ, we wandered away from the doors. Josh and Toby rejoined us moments later. I grabbed Josh's arm and looked at his watch. If Sam was right, we still had an hour and a half to go!
I returned to our group after being called away for the third time. Stupid Pakistanis- did they really have to aim nuclear missiles at India? There was about half an hour to go before we could leave without looking bad. CJ and Toby were still talking with Leo; Sam and Mallory had vanished. Most of the delegates had left, along with some of the lobbyists. Brooke had wandered away somewhere. Donna tapped on my shoulder. "You promised," she said simply. I sighed. About half an hour ago, Donna had gotten me to promise to dance with her. Not that I'd really mind, but I did have an image to keep up. Well, there weren't that many people around... "Fine. Next song." Donna smiled and returned to watching the dance floor. As the music faded out, we walked out to the floor. I wrapped my arms around her as she rested her head on my shoulder. I recognized the song that began to play, and had more than a hunch that Brooke was involved.
Remember when we never needed each other?
The best of friends like sister and brother
We understood we'd never be alone
Those days are gone, now I want you so much
The night is long, and I need your touch
Don't know what to say
Never meant to feel this way
Don't wanna be alone tonight
I glanced over at the spot where our group had been standing. CJ, Toby and Brooke had returned and were watching us. Brooke had a proud smile on her face, as if this was all her idea. She leaned over and said something to CJ, who nodded. I looked away and closed my eyes, forgetting everything except the music and the feeling of Donna in my arms.
What can I do to make you mine?
Falling so hard, so fast this time
What did I say, what did you do?
How did I fall in love with you?
I watched Josh and Donna on the dance floor with a happy smile on my face. I'd arranged to have this song play when they were dancing. Subtle hints. I leaned over to CJ and said, "They are so perfect for each other!" CJ nodded. "And they have no idea." I shrugged. "Donna might. Josh, I doubt it." Toby entered the conversation with a cynical, "PR disaster. And it would be your problem." I shrugged again. "I don't care. Besides, I think the American people could handle it. Still," I paused. "It would make our lives easier if we could keep it quiet until, you know, second term."
I hear your voice, and I start to tremble
Brings back the child that I resemble
I cannot pretend that we can still be friends
Don't wanna be alone tonight
What can I do to make you mine?
Falling so hard, so fast this time
What did I say, what did you do?
How did I fall in love with you?
This had to be Brooke's doing. Not that I really cared. Brooke was very, very right. If you'd told me yesterday that I'd be dancing with Josh Lyman, his arms around me, his heart beating next to my mine, I'd have said... how the hell did you find out what I dream about at night? Anyway, one song melted into two, then into three before Toby came over and informed Josh he was needed once more for something. As I headed for the door, I heard Josh come up behind me. "Donna, if you'll wait just, fifteen minutes, I'll drive you home," he said. I smiled and nodded.
True to his word, Josh was out in fifteen minutes. We got our coats and walked out to his car. Neither of us said much. Josh pulled up outside my building and walked me to the door. "Thanks," I said, meaning more than just the ride home. Quickly, I leaned over and gave him a light kiss on the lips before going inside.
I don't know how I got from the door of Donna's building to my car, but I did. I was sure if someone could see my thoughts, they'd think I was about thirteen. I started the car and drove back to my apartment. Tomorrow would bring meetings, calls to the Situation Room, and maybe even the possibility of nuclear war. But I didn't care. Tonight I had Donnatella, and that's all that mattered.
See info in part numero uno.
I went through Josh's schedule again. Couple meetings with some Senators, some Staff meetings, blah blah blah. Josh made his grand entrance looking ready to kill the world at large. "Donna, scrap my schedule," he said before entering his office. I picked up my coffee, his messages and schedule and followed him in. "Why?"
"Why should I scrap you schedule?" Josh looked over at me, the tension visible in his eyes. "Pakistan and India and Afghanistan are all looking about ready to start a nuclear war," he said. "I'm gonna be in and out of meetings here all day." I nodded then soundlessly left the room.
I was waiting tensely, along with the rest of the staff, for the President to get off the phone in the Oval and tell us what the hell was going on. Leo came in and said, "So does anyone know what's going on?" We shrugged, and I said, "Something with Pakistan and India and nuclear missiles. Leo nodded. "Pakistan and Afghanistan are pointing missiles at each other, while India is pointing missiles at Pakistan cause India thinks they started it, whatever it is. Our allies are all lookin' at us saying, 'Hey, America, you're big and armed, tell 'em to knock it off!'" There was silence following this pronouncement of doom, until CJ said, "So, my guess is we don't tell the press?"
"Damn right we don't tell the press. All and any questions about it are to be responded with 'We don't comment on matters of national security'. Josh, get on the phone with our ambassadors over there and tell 'em to try and get the situation calmed down."
"If they can't?"
"Tell them they have every right to get the hell outta there. Toby, you talk to their ambassadors to us. Sam, get some statements ready, then help Toby. Brooke, you help Josh. We'll let you know if anything happens." Brooke and I headed back towards my office. As we entered the hallway, I shouted for Donna. She came running and handed me some files on Pakistan. "How'd you know I was gonna need these?"
"Like I've said before, I'm attuned to you. I anticipate your every need."
"Margaret called me and told me what was happening."
"How'd Margaret know?" I asked. Donna sighed. "She listened at the door, Josh. Don't be a"-
"A yutz, yeah, yeah, I know." We turned and entered my office. Donna grabbed some files off her desk and handed them to me. She gave Brooke some coffee. I looked expectantly at her. "What?"
"Brooke gets coffee and I don't?"
"I don't work for Brooke." She smirked and breezed out the office.
I yawned and looked at my watch. It was after ten, and I was dead tired. I walked into Josh's office where Josh was just getting off the phone. His face had gone very white. "Josh... Josh, what happened?" I asked. Brooke looked up from her files, took one look at Josh's face and said, "They did it, didn't they?"
"Not yet. It's a threat though." Josh leaned back in his chair and stared at the phone. "What happened?" I asked slowly. Brooke looked up at me. "Pakistan's changed targets," she said quietly. "From Afghanistan to us."
There was a long, silent pause before Brooke stood and said something about having to call someone. Josh turned his chair so that he was facing the window. "There're only two reasons why that phone'll ring," he said quietly. "The first is to tell us it's been worked out. The second is to tell us we have roughly half an hour to live." I sank down into the chair opposite Josh. There was a knock on the door, and Sam came in. "Sam, what're you doing in here?" Josh asked wearily. Sam shrugged. "I didn't want to sit in my office alone," he said, sitting down on the couch. Josh stood and began pacing angrily. He slammed his fist against the wall and said, "Damnit, I didn't survive getting shot for it end like this!" I stood and said softly, "Josh, sit down. They haven't done anything yet." Josh turned to look at me, then sat down, still facing the window. There were a few moments of silence before we heard a timid knock on the door. I stood and opened the door to find Mallory standing there, looking terrified. "Is Sam in here?" she asked, entering the office. Sam stood and walked over to her. Wordlessly, he took her in his arms and tried to reassure her. "My dad just told me what was going on," Mallory said. Sam nodded, then asked, "Do you wanna go back to my office?" Mal nodded and they left. I watched them leave- and wished I had someone to tell me it was going to be okay.
Absently I stared out the window. I was vaguely aware of Sam and Mallory leaving; I knew Donna was still there. I heard her walk across the room. She stood behind my chair and put her hands on my shoulders. "So what do you think is gonna happen?" she asked, rubbing my shoulders. I shrugged and replied, "I doubt they have the guts to blow us up. Still, they might be stupid enough to try." She sighed and moved her hands from my shoulders down to my back. After a few moments, I broke the silence by asking, "Donna, do you ever regret coming to work for Bartlet... for me?" There was a long pause. I continued, "I mean, you'd just come off a bad relationship, you drove out here, far away from your family and friends... any regrets?" There was a hint of a smile in her voice as she replied, "I think it was the best decision I ever made."
"Even when I'm keeping you here at unholy hours, giving you a huge workload?"
"Especially then." I knew she was smiling. I also knew that my next question would take that smile off her face.
"Even... even if I... the job... puts you in the line of danger?" There was another long pause before she asked, "What do you mean?"
"Donna... I was gonna make you come to the Newseum. Revenge for the chair thing. I didn't see you on the way out and I figured I could get you later."
"Josh, I wasn't there. I'm here, I'm okay. And there's a potential for danger in any job. Maybe more in this one, but I wouldn't leave it...you...for anything." There was another long silence. I turned my chair around; Donna stepped back out of the way. I stood up so I was facing her and looked her straight in the eyes. "Why wouldn't you leave?" I asked softly. "Because..." she began. I could tell she was fighting with herself over the answer. Finally she decided and smiled softly. "Because I love you, Josh. I always have." Somehow the answer didn't come as a surprise. I whispered, "I love you too, Donnatel"- before being cut off by Donna's kiss.
The ringing of the phone broke off the kiss abruptly. I saw the fear that shot through Josh's eyes, but no way to reassure him. Not when I was as scared as he was. Josh turned to his desk, closed his eyes for a moment, then answered. The look of joy and relief that appeared on his face seconds later sent any fears I'd had flying. He hung up then turned to me. "It's over," he said jubilantly. "They're not gonna do it!" I'd barely gotten out a "Omigod- that's great!" before Josh kissed me again with so much passion I couldn't believe I'd ever doubted how he felt about me. Or vice versa. When we finally pulled apart the only thing I could say was his name. He just smiled and asked, as innocently as he could, "Are you gonna bring me coffee now?" After which I hit him upside the head. Nothing's changed, I thought as I rested my head against his chest. We've always been like this... we just had to realize it.