"No More Cry"
Donna knocked once of her boss's door. "Josh?"
The grumpy reply came. "What, Donna?"
"I have a favor to ask of you."
Josh laid his pen down on the brief he was editing. "Of course, Donna. No problem. I can take unlimited amounts of time out of my busy schedule, just for you."
Donna rolled her eyes. "Thank you, Deputy Downer." Instantly, however, she regretted her words. "Oh, Josh, I'm sorry." Since Christmas, no one had joked about Josh being a downer. It just wasn't funny. Donna took a deep breath as she tried to calm down. She'd just been saying one damn wrong thing after another.
She sighed as her hands began to shake. It had been happening for quite some time since the shooting but no one had ever paid any attention.
Still, she continued, hiding her trembling hands. "Josh, you have a slow night tonight."
"I do?" Josh sounded shocked.
"Yes, you do."
"But I wanted to ask you a favor."
Inwardly Josh groaned. Favors for Donna involved complicated things. And he just wasn't sure he was ready for complicated things again. Still, he thought, no harm in listening. "What's the favor?"
Donna took a breath, and her words came out in a rush. "I'd like you to come to my vocal recital tonight."
Josh's eyes went wide, though he tried to hide it. Donna wasn't... well, she wasn't exactly Ella Fitzgerald.
He said, "Uh, Donna, I don't..." In the middle of his own sentence, he stopped. Donna had been there for him through everything. Christmas. Rosslyn. Pissing off the Christian right.
Why not assail his ears for one night? She deserved it.
As if to sway him further, Donna added, "Sam and C.J. said they'd go too." Whether it was intentional or not, Josh noticed the pleading look in her eyes.
He shrugged nonchalantly, trying to act like it didn't affect him. "Sure, what the hell. I'll come."
Donna's face lit up into a grateful smile. "I'm glad."
Josh shrugged again. "No problem."
"Still..." Donna smiled softly. "Thanks. It means a lot." She gave him directions and walked out of the office.
Once in the hall, she made her way down to the office of the Deputy Communications Director. Without knocking, she opened the door. "He said he'd come."
Sam and C.J. waited within. "Great," the latter said with a conspiratorial smile.
"Are you ready to do this, Donna?" Sam asked, a touch of concern rising to his face. "I mean..." He paused, not wanting to frighten her.
Donna was ready, however. "I'm ready," she said, in a tone of quiet assurance. "If I don't do this now, I probably never will."
C.J. couldn't help but smile, in spite of the numerous press headaches this would create. "Donna, why are you doing this in this way?"
"Why not?" Donna shrugged, cracking a nervous smile. "Nothing else has gotten through to him."
"I guess not." Sam answered. Mentally he prayed for a good resolution. The two of them had been through so much in the past year. It was plain to everyone that they adored each other. And most of all, she needed him just as much as he needed her.
What struck C.J. the most was the determination she saw. Not normally a timid woman, Donna today appeared as resolute as C.J. had ever seen. The set of her jaw spoke volumes.
C.J. hugged the younger woman before leaving the office. "Good luck, Donna."
"Thanks." Donna laughed nervously. "I can't believe this is really going to happen." She bit her lip moodily, struck by a sudden thought. "What if he doesn't answer? Or it goes badly?"
Sam shook his head, grinning. "Don't worry, Donna." He thought back to the conversations he'd had with the Deputy Chief of Staff. His assistant's name had indeed been a heavy topic of conversation. "You'll be fine. I swear it." All joking gone from his handsome face, he told her. "He couldn't live without you, Donna. Really."
"I'll trust you." Donna smiled once more on her way out. "See you tonight."
Josh settled into a chair at the music hall that night. Sam and C.J. were standing off to the side, talking quietly. He did not notice their surreptitious looks in his direction, or their smothered giggles as he read Donna's part in the program.
Finally, though, they sat down. "Hey, Josh." Sam clapped his friend on the back.
"How are you?"
"Just fine." Josh grinned. "Bring your earplugs?"
"I don't know." C.J. answered, a small smile creeping on her lips. "You might be pleasantly surprised."
"You think?" Josh was skeptical. He still winced at the memory of the night Donna had tried to do the Jackal.
Sam had the same knowing smile. "Josh," he said as the lights dimmed, "I think tonight may be exactly what you need." With that the three of them turned their attention to the show.
It was not a pretty sight. Donna was last on the program, and the students seemed to perform in order of decreasing talent. The student before Donna sang a rendition of "Wind Beneath My Wings" that was so awful that even Sam, normally supportive no matter how bad, reached for his earplugs.
Finally, Donna came onto the stage. "Here it goes," said Josh, making sure his earplugs were in place.
C.J. smacked him. "Take those out."
"Do I have to?"
"Yes." There was no arguing with her. Josh took them out as Donna began to speak.
She looked very well put together, in a short, simple dress of pale blue. "This song is one of my favorites," Donna said with a nervous smile. "I was thinking about what to sing, and I decided on this." There was a long pause, and finally she spoke again. "It's for a friend. A very close friend."
Somehow, through the crush of people in the room, her eyes found him. Josh found himself turning red. What was this turning into? And why were Sam and C.J. grinning like they'd burst?
Donna continued. "That friend and I have been through a lot this year. But we've always been there for each other." She grinned as she took up the microphone. "That's why I made this decision. But I want everything to be all right."
The music started, and Josh found himself dreading the first words. But instead of God-knows-what he expected, he heard sweet music. Donna sang in a sweet soprano voice.
"I want to feel just like before
Josh would swear he saw Donna wink at him as she launched into the chorus.
"I'm telling you
Josh felt light-headed. This wonderful, beautiful woman with a nice singing voice was telling the world she loved him in the middle of an auditorium. That took guts. She was so much stronger than him.
"I want to hear you laugh again
Sam caught Josh's eye and grinned broadly. Josh, though stunned, had to laugh. His friend had been in on it from the start. He had always urged Josh to ask out his assistant. Well, now Donna was saving him the trouble.
"I'm telling you
She was brilliant, beautiful, impassioned, coquettish in turn. He was mesmerized.
"Reach out for your love
She finished with a flourish. The room erupted in cheers. Josh, his heart in his throat, got up and ran to her.
She threw her arms around his neck. "Like it?" Donna asked, eyes brimming with tears.
Josh didn't speak; he had a better answer. In front of the whole world, in the middle of a crowded auditorium, he kissed her.
It lasted a long time. When they finally broke the kiss, Josh then spoke. "From now on, Donnatella, there will be no more cry." He kissed the end of her nose gently. "I have you."
"And I have you." Donna's hands, she noticed, stopped shaking as she slipped one hand through his. "No more cry."
"No more cry."
The two went to rejoin their friends, melting into the crowd.