Warnings/Spoilers/etc: See pt 1

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Josh stared out the window idly and watched the snow pile up. It was really coming down out there. He'd better start to pack up. The weather forecast said the city would be deluged come morning. It wouldn't do to be stuck at the White House. And Toby's Nintendo 64 wasn't working.

"Donna!" he called. "Can we try to finish up quickly? I don't want to be stuck here tonight."

"I was thinking the same thing, Josh." Donna walked over and stood in his doorway. "But we do have a lot to do. So what do you want first?"

Josh waved a hand idly. "I don't know. How about the Marks memo?"

"Okay." She left to get the files and for the umpteenth time Josh reflected on his good fortune. Donna really was a gift. She anticipated everything he wanted – well, almost everything, there was that set of golf clubs – and she dealt with the insane work schedule as well as if not better than him. That was why Sam was giving him definite ideas.

Donna came back just as a howling wind assaulted the windows. "It's starting," she commented, though not idly as her words would have felt.

"Let's get cracking," Josh answered, picking up the top file in his box. "I don't want to be stuck here all night."

"You've got that right." Donna sat down. "I really hope Sam and C.J. make it out of here."

Much as Josh knew he had to work, he wanted to talk about this with one of the few people that would truly understand. "What did you tell him to do?" Besides, he thought, maybe he'd pick up a few hints of his own.

Donna shrugged. "Common sense, really. Her favourite restaurant, candles, flowers, champagne, the whole works."

"Yeah." Josh entertained the amusing thought. Still, he had his doubts. "The thing is, Donnatella," he said, slipping into what the assistants called his lecture mode, "you reckon without Sam's natural modesty."

"I don't see what that has to do with anything."

"It has everything to do with anything." Josh frowned; that hadn't come out right. Whatever. "Think about it, Donna. Sam is extremely nervous around women. Even C.J., long as they've been dating. If he gets to the point where he's going to ask her to marry him," Josh pointed out, spreading his arms in a grand, dramatic gesture, pretending to be his friend, "he'll clam up simply because of the magnitude of the thing." To illustrate his point he stopped dead in his soaring tracks and put a look on his face that mirrored the utmost exquisite fear.

Donna, however, was unconvinced. "I don't agree, Josh." She set up her dictation equipment as she spoke. "Sam loves her. Somehow he'll get through being scared and find a way to do it." The two busied themselves in work, losing all sense of time.

Meanwhile, a few offices down the hall, C.J. did the same. However, no matter how hard she tried to concentrate, it wasn't working. Her thoughts kept drifting back to her boyfriend.

What was *with* him!? He'd been as nervous as a treed cat all day today. And it wasn't just the quote, though Leo'd called him onto the carpet for that. She had been waiting in his office for him again and while waiting she'd opened his desk drawer, looking for the snacks he usually kept stowed in there. Sam was usually okay with her eating his food. But today he'd rushed in and closed the drawer so fast she'd almost lost a finger.

No, it wasn't the quote. There was something else. It beggared description, at least for the moment. Still, she'd be damned if he'd keep secrets from her.

But what could it be? If it were something serious, he'd tell her. At least she thought he would. But maybe it was going to be a surprise, though he knew she hated surprises. Or maybe it was something that was so terrible and so awful that he dreaded telling her because he didn't want to hurt her. But he knew -

C.J. stopped herself with a cynical smile. God. Now she was even starting to ramble like Sam, in addition to thinking like him. But was that such a bad thing? She had just grown so used to Sam being there for her. She didn't like to think what would happen if he wasn't there.

She had to find out what was going on. But could she do so without betraying his trust? Because she trusted him, C.J. told herself. But if something was going to threaten her relationship she had to know.

It was settled, then. With a renewed vigor she threw herself into her work.

Sam, however, wasn't nearly so easy in his mind. The quote appeared to be under control. They'd hastily concocted three briefings that to his mind, ended the questions. It had been written off, but he knew that once Toby got back in town, heads would roll. Sam gloomily reflected that between scaring C.J. and that damned quote this day wasn't looking good.

It was the former that was making him nervous. He took the ring out of his top desk drawer idly, turning it over and over in his hands as he thought. She'd had a strange look in her eyes that day. Ever since the scene in his office with Donna. And when he'd come back from the gun package meeting – ! She'd been hunting in his drawer for the leftover cookies, with every moment drawing closer to the diamond he now dangled off his thumb and forefinger. It still made him shudder to think how near she'd been.

Still, that couldn't have been the whole reason. Could she think something was going on? No, surely they'd cured C.J. of that thought. There was nothing between him and Donna; nor had there ever been. But nonetheless, C.J. had looked strange. He'd never forgive himself if he scared her off.

Three of those four people, ignorant of the gusting wind and the small pings of hail on glass, buried themselves further and further in mountains of paper. From the other office, however, the only sound was restless pacing, up and down, down and up, as the night stretched on.

 

Too Marvelous for Words - 5

 

 

 

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