Josh stared idly at the ceiling as he waited for minutes to pass. Where was Donna? He really needed that file before Joey called. He was looking forward to talking to her. She would be a breath of fresh air from the acid atmosphere of the Wing. It really wasn't his fault that half the staff wanted to kill him. They just couldn't see the purity of his motives. It had been different when Sam and C.J. had gone on one damned date. But now that they had gotten *serious,* it was a little too much to handle. So Joey would be great to talk to. Then again, he thought, Joey had an uncanny way of coming up with information. He hoped she didn't know everything.

Donna finally came back with the file, laying it ceremoniously on his desk. "Mr. Lyman, here's the file."

"Thank you, Donna." He was sick of trying to convince her. If she wanted to be that way, fine. He opened the front page, read for a minute and then threw the file back on his desk. "Donnatella Moss. This is the wrong file."

Donna peered at it, nonplussed. "Oh," was all she said.

Josh massaged his temples. "Donna, I'll fire you later." He rose. "I am going down to the file room to look for the original. I will not look in your file system because your handwriting is incomprehensible to anyone but you."

"If you must know, sir, it's a form of job security." Donna smiled brightly.

Josh ignored it. "Take any messages," he said, heading for the door. "I'll be a half-hour or so."

"Fine." Donna was unaffected by the rancor in his statement. He deserved it, she told herself. This was all his doing anyway.

She sat in Josh's chair, absentmindedly spinning. Her formal assault on Josh – she smiled at the pun – seemed to be working. And yet, she derived less and less pleasure from it. There was something in his eyes that just didn't sit right with that caring little bit of her makeup.

She forced it out of her mind as the phone rang. Josh deserved everything he was getting. "Hello?"

"TTY call," the switchboard operator announced primly.

"Must be Ms. Lucas," Donna said to herself. "Okay." She attached Josh's TTY, or text telephone, to the regular phone and waited for the first message.

"Hello, this is Joey Lucas."

"Hi," Donna typed. "This is Donna Moss."

"Hi, Donna. Is Josh around?" Joey typed. "I have the stats for the WHO speech."

"No, he's not here," Donna answered. "He's in the file room, and that could take hours."

"Okay," the message came back. "Will you have him call me?"

"Sure."

"How are you, Donna?"

Donna blinked. She and Joey Lucas weren't exactly friends; it was nice of her to ask. "I'm all right, but Josh isn't," she typed. Only after she'd hit enter did she realize that maybe it wasn't smart to tell Joey all the troubles that had been going on.

It was too late. "What's wrong with Josh?" the message came.

"Nothing." Donna tried to hedge. "He's just... busy."

"Busy?" The emotionless message scrolled across the TTY. "We're all busy."

"Yeah, that's true. So is Josh."

"Donna."

How did her name have that kind of power? Donna sighed. "Fine." She typed, "Some friends of ours are –" She hit the backspace button, feeling bitter. " – want to date, but Josh is dead set against it. He's tried to break them up."

The next message was very surprising. "Would those friends have the initials CJC and SNS?"

Donna gaped in shock. "How did you know?"

"I have my ways." Donna could just see Joey smirking at the other end of the line. "So why don't you just tell Josh what a jerk he's being?"

"I have!" Donna typed, wishing there was a way to get more emotion into letters. "Repeatedly."

"What have you *exactly* told him?" Joey asked.

Donna thought. "Well, I've told him that he's being a child, and also that he's immature, and that he needs to get over it."

"Donna," the message from Joey came back, "you really think that will work? This is Josh. He needs things spelled out for him."

Reflecting for a moment, Donna kicked herself mentally. Of course, Joey was right. "That's true," she typed.

"Also, maybe he's jealous."

"What do you mean?"

"Do you know the last time Josh had a serious relationship?" Racking her brain, Donna had to reply in the negative. Joey answered, "He was twenty-six years old."

"Seriously?" Donna did the quick math. "That's a lot of years, for that reputation." She caught onto an even more obvious flaw. "What about you and Josh?"

"There was nothing serious there," Joey typed. "Not of that magnitude. He's probably just lonely, Donna. Lonely and jealous."

"What, he's in love with C.J.?"

"No."

Donna pondered, then typed frantically, "He's in love with Sam?"

If a laugh could register over a TTY, it would have. "No – at least I
don't think so. Josh is just jealous of their relationship as a whole.
They're his two best friends. He feels left out."

Donna reflected. It really did make a lot of sense. He had been acting a bit clingy, and he *never* clung. "That does add up," she typed in answer. "I don't know why I didn't notice that about him."

"I think you did," Joey answered. "You just noticed subconsciously."
There was a pause, and then Joey typed a new message. "You notice everything about him, after all."

Donna's brow furrowed. "Ms. Lucas, what are you talking about?"

"Call me Joey."

"Fine. Joey, what are you talking about."

Again Donna would damn the passionless letters that scrolled out of the TTY – especially with what Joey had to say. Letter by letter, her message rolled out. "You're in love with Josh."

She couldn't breathe. Donna felt the blood flow leave her head as she digested the full implication of Joey's words.

Still, she went with her first reaction, typing furiously: "Are you nuts?"

"No, I'm not." The response was calm and placid.

"You're crazy." Donna laughed bitterly, typing, "I'd have to make love to him and his ego on successive nights."

"But are you willing to do that?"

The gentle, yet insistent query was enough to get her thinking. Would she be willing to cater to his ego-trips? Would she cover for him when he screwed up and listen to his constant apologies? Would she watch as he ruined the relationship of two good people, and then tried to explain his way out of it with that goofy smile?

Her answer was an unequivocal *yes.*

"Shit," Donna said aloud. She was in love with her boss. She was angry at him, hurt, distressed, freaked, even, but she was in love with her boss.

Finally she typed an answer. "Damn it. You're right."

"I almost always am." Donna laughed as another message came. "Donna, you need to talk to him. Kick him in the ass and get him to see sense. If anyone can do it, you can."

"I will."

"Good. And tell Josh to call me about the WHO stats. I'm here for another hour."

Donna smiled. "Thanks a lot." She could definitely get to know the sassy pollster a little better after this.

"Goodbye, Donna."

"Goodbye, Joey."

She disconnected the TTY, then sat in the chair, moodily staring off into space for a moment. Then she screamed as Josh wrenched the door open, declaiming, "I found the file!"

It took her a moment to recover her breath – especially with what she was aware of now. "You scared me!"

"Well, you didn't have to scream!"

"Well, you didn't have to open the door so quickly!"

"It's my office, Donnatella!" Josh pointed out waspishly. "Who called?"

In a very guarded tone, Donna answered. "Joey Lucas."

"Oh, good. Did she give you the stats?"

"No, she told you to call her back. We just talked for a while."

"OK, I will." Josh paused as a thought struck him. "What'd you two talk about?"

"Oh, nothing." Donna really didn't want to get into this but he was
pushing her buttons. "She called. She asked for you. I told her you weren't here. We talked. She hung up. End of story."

Josh repeated his question. "Again, what did you talk about?"

Donna breathed a sigh of annoyance. She'd had it. "What a jerk you are, basically."

Josh stared at his normally docile assistant, totally taken aback. "I... what?"

"Face it!" Donna jeered. This was her moment, and it felt good. On Sam and C.J.'s behalf she snapped, "You are a jerk. You act arrogant to cover that insecurity. Just because you haven't had a relationship in God-knows-how-long doesn't mean you should take it out on Sam and C.J."

"Donna..."

She stilled him with a snap of her wrist. "Be quiet right now, I'm not done." She continued, attacking relentlessly. "You need a relationship, but you're too arrogant. You wouldn't know a relationship if it bit you in the ass."

Josh pitifully fumbled for words. "What... I... Donna!"

Now she went in for the kill. "You don't think you'll ever get a serious girlfriend, or have a serious relationship..." Donna's eyes filled with tears. "Well, I'm offering you a chance to have one."

"You are?" Josh fell silent as he absorbed what she'd just had the
courage to say.

"Yes, I am."

"But why?"

She spoke in an extremely soft voice, just loud enough for him to hear. "Because I love you."

To say that Josh was astounded would have been an understatement. He just stared at her, asking silently why, how, when. When he spoke, however, it was very simple. "You ... love me?"

Donna sniffed the tears away. "Yes. Although given how you've been acting towards Sam and C.J., I don't know why."

Josh turned halfway from her. "Well, that's another matter."

"Is it?"

"Yes."

"Well, then explain, please."

"Well, I, uh..." Josh didn't try for too long. Finally, he just barked, "Oh, it just is!"

"Fine." Donna, now *extremely* angry, turned to go. "I tell you I love you, and not only do you not address that, you don't even tell me why you've been so mean to your two best friends." She opened the door, ready to cry.

Josh's voice rang out. "Wait! Donna, don't go. I'm sorry." He thought frantically how to get her to stay, and then, for a surprise, decided to go with the truth. He spoke simply and calmly. "Donna, you've just dropped a bomb on me here. I'm honestly at a loss for words. I don't know what to say." He paused. "I owe you an explanation. And you'll get
it, I promise. Just not now."

Donna wavered, and he knew he had her. But she had one stroke left. "And Sam and C.J.?" she asked rhetorically. "Are *they* going to get an explanation, too?"

Josh sighed. "I'll give it some thought, I swear." He hazarded a cautious smile. "All right?"

Donna waited before answering. "I can accept that." She moved to leave, saying, "It's late." She turned back to look at him before she left, though, and he saw a smile break through. "See you in the morning, Josh."

"Bye, Donna." The wall was broken. Josh, though there were still some unresolved things within himself, knew in that instant that somehow he'd find a way to fix it all. He went home implausibly happy.


You're So Vain - 9

 

 

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