I park my car and shut off the engine. I wait a few moments before getting out and laying down on the hood. I study the clear, star filled sky. It's a warm spring evening, and there's a light breeze. The moon is just a thin sliver in the sky, so the stars are very bright. Nearly ten minutes pass before I hear another car pull up and park. I know who it is, but I turn my head anyway to look at him. "Hey, Donna," Josh says. "Whatcha doing out here?" I nodded at the sky. "Stargazing, relaxing, thinking, what have you," I said offhandly. "How'd you find me?"
"I followed you, but then I lost you at a fork. I took the wrong one, drove about five miles, turned around and came back this way." I move over and he joins me on the hood of the car. "Are you any good with constellations and stuff?" he asked. I nod. "I can't find anything," Josh replies, baiting me slightly. I point at a point in the sky. "See those three stars in a row there?" He nods. "That's Orion's belt. The rest of him kinda forms an X- see there, and there."
"Where're the Dippers?" I point out the Big Dipper. "And see those two stars- no, those two- The point straight to the North Star. And the Little Dipper is there. It's upside down, over there." Josh nods. "Mars is that reddish one-" "That makes sense."
"Do you want me to show you this stuff or not?" Josh wisely kept his mouth shut. "That's Saturn over there, that bright one."
"Who taught you all this?"
"My grandmother. She was into all this astrology and stuff. I picked it up." We lay in silence for a long time. I glance over at Josh. He's staring at the sky, his face unreadable. I turn my gaze heavenwards as well, but I'm not thinking about constellations. I'm thinking about me, and Josh, and maybe the possibility of us.
Josh plays many roles in his life. He's the arrogant, smart, egotistical Deputy Chief of Staff and my boss. He's a gunshot wound survivor and fighter against his PTSD. He's a shameless flirt, though his ego gets in the way of his flirting. Or attempts at it. I smile as I recall our many conversations about the flowers a few days ago. He's a good son, who regrets not seeing his mother very much. I saw that when Mrs. Lyman was in when he was recovering. He's a good friend, as I see everyday as we work with the Senior Staff. He's also Joshua. Just him, the man, behind all the roles. I've only seen that part of him a rare few times.
I love that part of him. I love all the roles he plays, with all his flaws and qualities.
I love Josh Lyman.
I too play some roles. Deputy Deputy Chief of Staff. Good friend. Loving daughter and sister. And Donnatella, the real me, who'll leave work at 9:00 pm and drive thirty miles just to stargaze.
I look back at Josh. He's asleep. Not much of a surprise; he's barely had five hours of sleep in the past 48. I lean over and give him a light kiss on the lips.
Joshua follows me out thirty miles so we can just be us, not any of our roles. Just Joshua and Donnatella, just stargazing. The phrase "star-crossed lovers" flits through my mind. I shake my head slightly and smile. Someday. I reach over and lightly shake Josh's shoulder till he wakes up, automatically grumbling, "I was resting my eyes." I laugh and ask if he's okay driving back to work. He nods, then says "Donna, take the rest of the night off. Go home. I'll see you in the morning." He drives away. I wait a few moments, watching the stars, before I drive away too.