Should Have Seen it Coming
Summary: Donna's life is headed in a downward spiral.
Category: Josh/Donna, new character
Note: The new character is Brooke Markenson. She's 28, single, and is the new PR director at the WH. She's a good friend of Donna's.
Disclaimer, Claimer and Such: I don't own anything or anybody except for Brooke Markenson, her apartment, and red 2000 Camero. :-)
Shivering, I opened the door into my apartment. I shuffled through the mail, tossing aside junk mail. I stopped as I got to an envelope with the heating company's address on it. I opened it slowly, then sank down into a chair as I read the words. My heating had been turned off. No wonder it was so damn cold in here! I'd known this was going to happen; I'd bartered heat for electricity and water. But still... it was really cold. Sighing, I went to my closet and grabbed a duffel bag. I threw a couple changes of clothes in and a blanket. I wrote a note and stuck it on my door, reminding me to put toiletries in before I left. I got ready for bed, piled the blankets onto my bed, and went to sleep.
7:30 the next morning found me at my desk, drinking coffee and chatting with Brooke. Apparently she'd found the ever-elusive cinnamon flavored coffee that seemed to pop up in the West Wing from time to time. "It's at the Communication Bullpen this time," she said, sipping said coffee. I nodded. "That's easier to get to than last time," I commented. "Getting to it through the Press Room was hell!" Brooke nodded. "I don't think the reporters ever leave," she said. I nodded in agreement, then groaned and said, "Here comes trouble." Josh walked into our line of sight, looking miserable and cranky- as he did each and every morning. "Good morning, Josh," Brooke said cheerily, standing up to get off my desk. Josh gave her a weary glare. "Brooke. Please. We go through this every day. It's morning. There is absolutely nothing good about it," he said before turning and trudging into his office. Brooke turned to me. "I'll leave you with Mr. Sunshine," she said, loud enough for Josh to hear. Normally he would have thrown back some smart remark, but it was before eight and Josh hadn't had any caffeine.
At the end of the day, I was tired. It had been a fairly normal day. I walked into Josh's office and watched him leave through the window. I unpacked my blanket and curled up on Josh's couch. I set the TV to go on at six, then fell asleep.
The rest of the week went pretty much the same way. After two days, the cinnamon coffee vanished again. I went to lunch with Brooke and complained about Josh. She listened to my complaints with a sly smile on her face, and informed me I was hopelessly in love once I'd finished. Josh was his normal hostile, political, stressed self. All was right with the world- except I couldn't sleep on Josh's couch every night. On Friday, I headed home.
When I arrived, it was to find a very, very cold apartment. I toyed with the idea of turning on my electric heater, then decided against it. I couldn't afford to send my bills up. Once more, I curled up in bed and went to sleep.
I was almost home when suddenly it hit me. I needed a file from Donna. It was most likely at her apartment. Which meant I would have to drive across town, wake her up, then drive back across town to my place. Oh well. That's my lot in life. I pulled up in front of her apartment. Lucky I had a key to her place. Not entirely sure why, but still, it's a good thing. I opened the door and was hit with a blast of cold air. I couldn't imagine why Donna would let the apartment get this cold. I looked around for a reason the apartment was freezing. I soon found the answer- the heater was off. Underneath it on a small table was a letter from her heating company, telling her the heat had been shut off. I blanched as I read the date- two weeks ago?! Quietly, I peeked into her bedroom. Donna was almost hidden under piles of blankets. I quietly shut the door and left. As I drove back to my apartment, I realized why she'd been sleeping on the couch in my office- it was too cold for her to go home.
I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing. I fumbled for it in a sleep-induced dark, then picked it up and answered. "Hello?" I said groggily. "Morning, Donna," Brooke's voice said. Her tone- normally painfully chipper this time of morning- woke me up. "What's wrong?" I asked. "There was a drive-by shooting last night," she said. I groaned and leaned back in bed. "Where?" I inquired. "About four blocks from your place, actually," Brooke replied. I sighed. "I'll come get you," Brooke said after a pause. After agreeing, I got out of bed.
Work was its normal hellish self. Josh, ever the slave driver, had me at work until 10:30. By that time, most sane people had left. I work for a lunatic, however, so I was still hard at work. I wasn't too sure about going home, but in the end my exhaustion won out, and I headed home. I was a more than a little worried about driving home, but I made it safely.
I headed down to Brooke's office. She had gotten a basement office; fortunately, it was only down one flight of stairs; not four, like Ainsley's. I knocked on the doorframe as I walked in. She didn't even look up from her work as she said, "Hey, Josh. Long time no see." I shook my head. "How can you tell who's coming down without even looking up?" I asked. "ESP," she replied. I sighed. "Brooke..."
"I can recognize how various people knock, Josh! Nothing really phenomenal. Is there any particular reason you came down here, or are you just bored?"
"Two reasons. Both good ones. First, I need the 12th amendment file"- it was shoved in my hands before I'd finished my sentence- "and I need to talk with you about Donna."
"Besides the fact you're hopelessly in love and denying it?"
"I am not hopelessly in love, Brooke."
"Denial is a river in Egypt, Josh."
"I'm trying to have a serious conversation here."
"That's a first."
"Brooke!!" Now I was getting annoyed. She looked up, grinning innocently. "Yes?" I sighed. "Brooke, do you have any idea why Donna is spending the night on my couch?" She looked up sharply. "At your house?" she asked incredulously. I gave her a withering glare. "No, in my office, you idiot." Brooke leaned back from her computer. "Yeah, her heating was cut off," she said, leaning back precariously on two legs of her chair. "Why?"
"Cause she traded off heating for water and electricity."
"You are really dense, you know that? She couldn't afford to pay all three bills, so she kept water and electricity and didn't pay heating."
"She couldn't afford it?"
"I thought she had a roommate."
"Ellen? She moved out. Ellen, her three cats, and her collection of country music CD's." Brooke replied. I sighed. "Anything I can do?"
"Short of professing your undying love and allowing her to move into your apartment? Has she been asking for a raise lately?"
"Donna's always asking for a raise."
"So, give her one." Brooke said very slowly. I gave her a look. "Where am I gonna get the money?" Brooke returned the exact look. "You just recently got a five-hundred dollar-raise, buddy," she said. "I think you can spare 200 of that on your assistant." I stood as Brooke returned to her computer. "Okay. I'll do that."
"I still think you should go with my original idea."
Josh had spontaneously given me a raise- $250. It wasn't enough to get my heating back on, but I figured I'd have enough soon. There were two more drive-by shootings, with one fatality. The shooters still hadn't been caught, and I'd stared spending the night at Brooke's apartment. She'd offered to take me in as a roommate, but I said I wasn't there yet. I liked having my own place.
I stood on the curb, trying to get a taxi. My car was in the shop, and it was absolutely freezing. Momentarily I wondered if I could get Donna to give me a ride. Nah- she was probably already at work, drinking nice, hot coffee, loaded with caffeine... I shook my head, and resumed trying to wave down a taxi.
I arrived at work, freezing and miserable. As I reached Donna's desk, I noticed a lack of... Brooke. I took off my coat, got coffee, and asked Donna for my schedule. She followed me into my office, reading off the schedule as we walked. "Then at 2 you have a meeting with the President, at 2:30 you have a meeting with Brooke- no, wait, that's cancelled"- "Why?" I asked. "Why what?" Donna said, perching on the edge of my desk. "Why is my PR meeting cancelled?"
"Brooke's not here."
"I don't know. I think she said she was having trouble with her car or something..." Donna trailed off. "What do I have after that?" Donna finished reading my schedule, then said, "If I were you, I'd avoid the President at all costs. He's on some sort of history trivia thing today." I groaned. "What subject?" She shrugged. "Revolutionary War era, I know that much." I sighed and turned to my computer.
I settled in at my computer. Josh had asked me to find some reference to something or other. It was very obscure, but Josh firmly believed that if we didn't find it, then it could be used against us in a bill. Or something. Normally I would have just played solitaire and made him do all the work, but I was in too good of a mood for that. I'd saved up enough money to get my heating back on. And- added bonus- Josh wasn't being too much of a jerk. Life was good. Great, in fact.
I looked up from my assignment as the phone rang. "Hello, Josh Lyman's office," I said. "Hey, Donna, it's me," Brooke said. "Hi! How come you're not in here at work?"
"There was a shooting right by my building. Makes me really glad I'm on the fourth floor."
"Yeah... will you be in?"
"Later on today."
"Okay. I'll see you later?"
"Yeah." After chatting for a few minutes, we hung up and I turned back to my work.
A few hours later, my good mood had worn off considerably. I stood, stretched, and walked into Josh's office. He was typing furiously on his computer. "Had any luck?' I asked, leaning against the doorframe. Josh nodded. "Yeah, I found it half an hour ago." I blinked, then straightened up and walked slowly over to his desk. "You mean," I said, "That I have been working for this past half hour for no reason at all?!"
"I didn't tell you?"
"No, Joshua, you didn't."
"Sorry. I've got a meeting in the Oval."
"PR. Brooke's back." Josh stood and practically ran out of the office. I was left standing there, staring at his empty chair.
I headed down the hall towards the Oval when Brooke and Sam caught up to me. "So, what're the bets today?" Sam asked. I stopped along with the rest of the group. "Hmm... five bucks each World War One," I said. Brooke nodded. "Sam?"
"Seven... uh, six each first winter in the White House," he said. Brooke nodded. "Ten each says Valley Forge." We nodded before continuing on. Betting on what Bartlet's trivia topic would be for the day was a hobby of ours. We settled down onto couches or chairs. CJ entered, followed by the President. "Did you know that in Valley Forge, George Washington refused to stay in a house until all his men, most of who lacked shoes or warm clothing, were in huts?" POTUS said as we all returned to our seats. I glanced at Brooke, who was grinning widely. "No, sir, I didn't know that," I replied. "Well, he did. Now then, what's next?"
Sam and I tried to make a hasty exit without Brooke catching us. She was waiting in the hall for us though, hands held out. We grudgingly counted out the money. "Did you cheat?" I asked as I forked over the money. Brooke glanced at the cash, stuffed it safely in her pocket, then replied, "Yes, I saw him reading a book on Valley Forge earlier," before taking off. Most likely to buy lunch- on us. I trudged into my office. "Brooke cheat you out of your money again?" Donna asked as she followed me in. "Yep," I replied, sitting down in my chair. "That was my lunch."
"You'll live without lunch one day, Josh."
"T- no, I'm not going to get involved in a third grade level argument." Donna smiled at me and left my office
Another week passed. On a cold Friday, I stood in Josh's office, waiting not so patiently for him to drive me over to Brooke's apartment. Normally, Brooke would be out with her boyfriend, Justin, but he was in New York. "Josh... it's been twenty minutes," I said looking at my watch. "Yeah... yeah.... Five minutes, Donna." Josh said absently. I sighed, grabbed his backpack, and began packing up for him. "Let's go," I said, hauling him to his feet and handing him his coat. "Donna, I've got all this work..."
"I promise you it'll be here in the morning. Let's go." We arrived at Brooke's building ten minutes later. Josh parked next to Brooke's red Camero. It really made his 1995 Toyota look kinda sad. I knocked on the door. "It's open," Brooke shouted. I walked in and collapsed on one of the couches. Brooke was sprawled across the other, playing some video game. "Hey," Josh said, coming in and closing the door. "Who invited him?" Brooke asked, moving her character across the screen to water some plants. "What're you playing?" I asked.
"Harvest Moon. It's a really cute little farming video game."
"You have video games?"
"N64, Josh. I gotta do something when I get home other than work. Besides, it helps relieve stress," Brooke said as her character smashed a couple rocks with a large hammer. I stood, took off my coat, and wandered into the kitchen. "What's for dinner?" I asked.
"I ordered pizza, followed by the Edy's chocolate chip cookie dough I've got in the freezer."
I came back into the main room and started laughing at the look on Josh's face. "Go home, Josh," I said. "Don't you have work to do or something?" He nodded. "See you tomorrow, Donna," Josh said as he left. Brooke pressed a few buttons on the controller, then looked at me and said, "You are so crazy for him." I sighed. "Brooke..."
"You are. You have a crush on him, at the absolute least."
"See! You do like him." Brooke grinned triumphantly. I was spared more tormenting by the arrival of the pizza.
A couple hours later, I decided to go home. "Want me to drive you?" Brooke asked. I shook my head. "It's just four blocks away. I'll be fine."
I walked home slowly in the snow, thinking. Josh had been popping up in my thoughts whenever I thought about my love life lately. As I trudged through the snow, I heard a car come up behind me, then slow down. I looked over to see Josh's car. "Need a ride?" he asked with a grin. I nodded and got in. As we talked and bantered, I decided that I'd be okay if Josh and I never got our relationship past where we were. How many people can say they have this much fun in a working relationship?