One Lonely Shoe: A West Wing Fairytale
Disclaimers: I do not own any of the characters, plots, dialogue, etc of the West Wing. So show credit where credit is due, which is somewhere else- namely at the altar of the Almighty Banter King Aaron Sorkin, not here. Mere amusement. No profit. Yadda yadda yadda....
Category: Josh/Donna. Yeah, overdone- especially by me- but I can't help it!
Feedback: Puh-puh-puh-leeeeeeeeeaaaaaase! (insert Roger Rabbit sound effect here)
Archiving: Cool, just ask.
Summary: A spin off of a fairy-tale, a running gag about a file cabinet, another one of those embassy ball things that fan fic writers love so much, Josh N Donna.... 'nuff said.
Spoilers: Only little ones for: ITSOTG, The Lame Duck Congress, Noel, Ellie, The Portland Trip. Probably some others too at one point...
Author's Note: Very late one Wednesday night (or should I say very early one Thursday morning) I ended up watching Ever After and was inspired. Here are the results- for better or worse. No MS crisis in this one-- way too complicated and sad....but let's still say second season...i.e flirty banter but still basically in denial. This is for those in the writers' "lull" right now- know how you feel.
"Where's your other shoe?"
I suppose I could start there- but to get the full effect, I think you'll need some background. Actually, a lot of background. It still might not make any sense, actually I'm pretty sure it makes no sense at all. And to tell the truth, I'm still fuzzy as to all the details myself, but it's only fair.
So, gather round kiddies, I'm going to tell you a story. It begins with a man who was still a boy in many, many, many ways....
"You bellowed, Joshua?" She peeked her head into my office, her arms filled with file folders.
"I-I did not bellow." I am the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President of the United States. I do not bellow. I speak distinctly and from the diaphragm. The walls simply carry the sound as if I was screaming at the top of my lungs. Damn architects.
"Josh, do you need something or were you simply bellowing for bellowing's sake?"
She was impatiently flipping through the top folder- I suppose that's cuz I had just given her a shit load of things to do right before she was supposed to go to lunch. I'm a bastard- yeah- but a loveable bastard. And that makes all the difference in the world.
Then I knew I was in deep shit when she started glaring at me.
"My file cabinet's sticking again." I pointed to the offender in question.
"And what? You couldn't un-jam it yourself?"
She raised an eyebrow skeptically. That was not how the proper assistant responds: what she should have said was "Oh, Josh, I will get on it right away- let me help you in any way I can. By the way, do you need a refill on that coffee?"
A guy could wish.
"I have a delicate system." There, take that Donnatella. Eat crow.
"You tried already and hurt yourself again, didn't you?"
I swear she must have a hidden camera hook up or an audio bug or something in my office, cuz she cannot be that psychic. And I'm pretty sure I would have noticed if she had eyes in the back of her head. Yeah. So I started whacking the damn thing when it wouldn't open. I would not be cowed by a piece of office equipment. That is, until its metal tentacles grabbed my hands and viciously scraped them raw.
"My knuckles will never be the same."
"Uh-huh." She sighed, dumped the folders onto my desk, totally disregarding my efficient and painstakingly set up filing system, i.e. the mess of papers I kept there, and walked over to the cabinet. With a swish of her hips- her hips! God help me!- she whacked the cabinet drawer below the malevolent one while pulling on its evil metallic handle.
It slid out with ease.
She grinned smugly and left the office with the rest of the files, a spring in her step and no visible scars from the Filing Cabinet of Death.
I really dislike her sometimes. Yet, if she continues to seduce the Evil One with her hip-wiggles, I really don't mind keeping her around.
Okay, Josh is probably the most helpless of all the men of the West Wing. Only I, of all assistants, get dragged away from my desk to open a filing cabinet. But that wasn't as bad as what happened before I finally went to lunch....
"Josh, I'm going to lunch...what the hell are you doing?" I quickly popped my head in to dash out for a quick bite and my boss is attacking his filing cabinet with a letter opener. A very sharp, dangerous looking, letter opener. Is he nuts?
The appropriate answer here is: Yes. Very.
He looked up from his task, and I could almost swear there was perspiration on his brow. He waved the letter opener at me.
"I'm...uh,...I'm sharpening this...er... thing."
Pride goeth before a fall and denial before admitting monumental stupidity and/or being whisked away to the emergency room.
"Okay, it might have gotten stuck again."
I grabbed the letter opener from him. "No more pointy objects for you...ever."
"Like anything would've happened."
Uh- hello? I would bet my entire life savings, meager as it is, that something would have happened. That within three minutes I would have heard a scream, seen gushing arteries, and been on the phone with the paramedics. And that's a gimmee. He may be a Fulbright scholar- which quite frankly I will not buy until I see it in writing- but on the common sense scale, he's worse than a kindergartner.
"Joshua, I am going to lunch, but before I do, must I take away your scissors or will you leave it alone?"
"Are you going to open it for me?" He looked at me soulfully under his eyelashes and I thought I heard him shuffle his feet. I told you- like a kindergartner! And like a kindergartner, cute as hell. Is it any wonder I'm infatuated with this man?
I opened the damn cabinet.
"Uh-huh. Now will you promise not to antagonize any more office supplies while I'm gone?"
"That is not a normal piece of office equipment," he said, sulkily, gesturing at the cabinet. "That is an evil force put here on earth to torment me."
"Yes, Josh. I am leaving now."
"Fine. Go. When you find me on the floor in a pool of blood, you'll know what did it to me and boy, will you be sorry that in our last moments together, you chose to be patronizing and scoffed at me!"
And I left then and there. That's not to say that I wasn't preoccupied all lunch long with whether or not Josh actually would end up in a pool of blood in his office- not the filing cabinet's fault of course- but his brainless attempts to open it in violent ways.
So my lunch was short. Big deal.
Josh lived for another day. Isn't that what counts?
Leo and I are generally on the same wavelength. That's why this country runs so smoothly: because the Chief of Staff and his Deputy are jivin' to the same band. That, and I'm really good at what I do. I'll even concede that Leo is too- because it's the truth. But unfortunately, that day not the day that we were at our best and our rhythm was a bit off kilter.
We might have offended the Czech ambassador because somebody- I name no names- might have thought it was inconsequential as to whether or not he actually got to meet with the President.
This someone thought that it was more important for the President to travel to Cleveland and speak out about school vouchers and how much they suck.
This someone therefore saw no problem with scheduling the two for the exact same time and hoping that the ambassador wouldn't notice.
Well, he did. And he was kinda pissed. And then, so was Leo.
Because it was quite possible that this someone was me.
Now, since Leo and I are psychically connected in highly complex ways where strategy is concerned, he expressed no objection when I brought this up. And no reprimands when it was scheduled and no disapproval when Air Force One took off.
On that particular day, however, after the ambassador had made an appearance in Leo's office wherein he, I suppose, was cursing vehemently in Czech, well... Leo had some...concerns.
"Who's bonehead idea was this?" And he bellowed.
"Sir, frankly he-"
"Okay, it was mine. But waiting a few more months to make this policy initiative is like waiting for the iceberg to move out of the way for the Titanic!" Yep. Another great Lyman simile there. Well, maybe not on the same scale as my Disney-Epcot analogy but distinctly, 100 percent Joshua Lyman: oratory with style.
Leo is not amused. "I certainly didn't aim for an international incident to ensue over this!"
"Does it matter? What can he do? It's not like they're stockpiling nukes in Cesky Krumlov!"
"Yeah. This is not good."
"The President's not going to like this. He's not going to want to come back after another one of his short trips- running purely on caffeine and no sleep- to a rabid Czechoslovakian with a stick up his ass."
"Yep." Didn't I tell you: me, master of the verbal arts. Wait, wait- I... master of the verbal arts. And I can use an "an" properly too...
"We'll set up a meeting."
"Good question." Shuffling some papers in search of his intercom, he failed and finally shouted, "Margaret!"
She appeared in the doorway, clutching files so tightly she would probably leave nail marks. Guess I knew what kind of mood he had been in all day.
"Get me the President's schedule for the rest of the week."
She shuffled out and quickly returned with some papers. After handing them to Leo, she walked out.
"What's with her?" I asked in all innocence. Truly. If there's one thing I know about Margaret, other than the fact that she's Donna's friend and is a slightly paranoid and majorly weird lady, is that she talks a lot. Babbles, in point of fact. And she said all of one word to us.
"She's angry about the embassy thing."
"What embassy thing?"
"The ball for the president of Philippines," he remarked off handedly, scanning the papers.
"Oh. That embassy thing. Why?"
"She holds a personal grudge against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo."
Okay- a sarcastic Leo is better than a pissed-at-Josh Leo. I was still confused and I'm sure that Leo saw my "I have no clue what the hell you're talking about" face. He sighed.
"She can't come- she has to babysit her sister's kids or something. She wanted me to reschedule it...."
"Can you do that?"
"Because it's Margaret, and who the hell knows why she thinks what she does!"
Then, I was inspired. That happens to me a lot- being quite the savvy political operative that I am. "Can we double up?"
"The embassy thing?"
"Yeah- can we schmooze both the Philippines and the Czechs at once?"
"It would be touchy."
"It would be weird as hell but does he have time to fit the guy in elsewhere?"
"Not really- unless we could persuade him to take five minutes between a meeting with OSHA and his security briefing on Thursday..."
"They really don't have much in common, do they? The Philippines and the Czech Republic, that is..."
"Not at all- but I suppose we could make that their problem. Margaret!"
She reappeared in the doorway, hands on her hips. Yeah, okay, she's a bit miffed.
"Call the Czech ambassador back- invite him to the embassy ball on Friday night."
I could swear I saw Margaret flare her nostrils in annoyance. If she had been a dragon, I bet I would have seen smoke trail out of them with a snort. Kinda reminded me of Donna- but then, when Donna's pissed at me, she verbally abuses me. And sometimes whacks me upside the head with file folders. Or pinches my ears...
"Anything else?" she says, clipping her words. Oh, she's pissed all right.
"Tell him he gets his fifteen minutes with the President."
As she leaves, I look back to Leo. "Well, that was awkward."
"Uh-huh. Do you think I should..."
"No, no, no. Leo, you're on your own. The dealings between a man and his assistant is a very fragile thing...."
"Speaking of assistants, were you planning on taking Donna to the embassy ball?"
What??? I was shocked, shocked, I say, to hear Leo say this. I mean, we all know that Joey and Sam have their ridiculous notions about me and Donna, but Leo...?
"I wasn't even planning on going."
"You're going because you screwed up and got us in this mess in the first place."
"It's another white tie thing. I hate white tie things."
"You are going to wear the white tie and you are going to do your utmost not to offend anyone while you're there. Bring a date, don't get drunk and for god's sake, don't talk to the Czech ambassador."
And he dismissed me as I was expostulating my concerns.
And I had lots of concerns. Many, many, many concerns. I had a veritable plethora of concerns.
Concern number one: the white tie issue. The last time that I was actually forced to go to a white tie function was the Congressional Christmas Party. Yep- way back then. And the only decent white shirt that I own that goes so well with my one of my only nice suits, still has the bloodstains on it from my hand and its brief run-in with the window. I don't think they're gonna come out in the wash. When the hell am I going to have time to buy a new shirt? The stupid thing is in three days. Maybe I can cover them up....
Concern number two: a date. Leo said bring a date. No...no, what he said was "am I bringing Donna?" and then he said bring a date. Did he mean bring Donna as a date?
If that isn't a scary thought.
It's not that she isn't attractive. Or intelligent or all other good things that generally are appealing and cause men to ask women out. It's that she's my assistant and people around here think we have a thing.
I don't think we have a thing.
At least, I'm pretty sure we don't have a thing.
To tell you the truth, I know we have something, I'm just not sure that it is what people think it is.
Donna as my date? No. That would officially cross over into "weird" territory. I cannot cross over into "weird" territory with a person that I have to see everyday. It would be...well, weird.
I could hear a voice in my head mockingly reminding me about that Fulbright scholarship. Uh-huh. You can't expect my personal thoughts to have the massive vocabulary of my orating style. I am only one man.
Who got a 760 verbal, baby, yeah!
So back to my concern, it's really more like two- it has subcategories, if I may. Subcategory one is the problem of bringing Donna as a date- which as I have already negated as is "weird" phenomena. And subcategory two which is: find a date.
My social life hadn't been very...well, social in the last two years. Especially of late. Can't exactly win over the ladies from a hospital bed when you look like shit. Well, you can, but it would be purely a pity date and quite frankly, I'm better than that.
At one point in my life, I had a little black book. I think Mandy must have done something to it cuz I can't seem to locate it.
I had to find a woman- and fast.
Concern number three was the neverending notion that I cannot handle my liquor and dammit, I refuse to let the myth stand!
So, I tore my apartment apart looking for my now non-existent little black book and drinking numerous beers to spite the unbelievers in Josh Lyman's stamina.
I woke up the next morning on the floor of my living room, drooling on my carpet.
That showed them.