Title: Achtung, Lyman!
Summary: Everyone's favorite Irish activist crooner makes a visit to the
White House, Donna has a secret, and Josh gets the wrong idea. Chaos ensues.
Author's Notes: I didn't say this before, this stuff takes place "In The
Shadow Of Two Gunmen" but long after. So Josh is back at work and
everything's back to normal. Truth be told, I've always been slightly
annoyed with those plots where there's a misunderstanding and the characters
suddenly become too idiotic to realize what's going on. But this was fun to
write so oh well. ;0)
Achtung, Lyman! Part 2
It may be fair to say that as of late I have been acting on the stranger side
of strange. At least from Josh's perspective. I've been acting different
and he's noticed. I mysteriously disappear Saturday nights and blow off his
inquiries. He can probably tell how exhausted I am. And I suspect my
startlingly well educated comments lately have alarmed him.
I suppose I should be sympathetic or touched that he notices a difference and
wants to know what's going on.
And in some fashion I am touched and sympathetic.
I'm also distinctly smug.
I, Donna Moss, have a secret and it's driving Josh up the wall.
Curious? Tenacious? That doesn't even begin to describe it. Josh Lyman is
the equivalent of a human terrier, yipping at the heels of every question
that may seem not to have a answer, every problem with a solution that just
isn't good enough, and every proverbial poker hand hiding it's last card.
But I, his Donnatella, know Josh well enough to be able to match his tenacity
mark for mark. And I'm not going to reveal my last card until I damn well
feel like it.
I'll tell him eventually. But for now I'm reveling in the way it's making
Besides, the fact that he's as curious about me as he is about saving social
security gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
Not that warm.
Don't give me that look, that is NOT what I meant.
I suppose you want to know my secret. Very well then, I don't mind telling
I, Donna Moss, am...
You heard it here first.
I am currently a part time student at Georgetown. Impressive, no? My
transcript from U of W was pretty spiffy and I was able to transfer. That
and the fact that I've been working for Bartlet for the past three years and
will be working in the White House full time while in school got me in
easily. I qualified for some financial aide which helps a lot. In two years
I will be the proud owner of a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
Why am I doing this? Well, working at the White House gives a person nothing
if not the tangy taste of a sense of empowerment. Even working as an
assistant and having no real power over major desicions myself I feel
important. Josh and the rest of the senior staff are pretty good at making
even the guy who delivers the Sparkletts feel as if he is making a
contribution toward saving the world. And finishing college is something
I've always wanted to do so I gathered every ounce of confidence I've gained
from doing this job and doing it very well and figured out how to make it
I have never in my life been so tired.
Saturday nights I have Comparative Government and Economic Theory. On
Tuesdays and Thursdays I take Logic during my lunch hour.
I study in my car and between major international crises. When I get home I
study until I fall asleep. So far I'm doing quite well and my professors are
aware of my situation and have been very understanding.
The other reason I hesitate to tell Josh is because I'm not certain what his
reaction will be. I can picture him being either embarassingly supportive
or good naturedly annoyed that there is something in my life taking up my
time other than this job.
I consider this as I simulaneously work out a speaking engagement with the
Young Democrat's club and skim over a chapter of my Econ book. Josh is still
in his meeting with Senator Shnictger and Senator Berk concerning the tobacco
tax. I took care to remind him not to use "people who start smoking in this
day and age are friggin' idiots" as his argument.
"Thank you for the advice, Donnatella." He grumbled.
I set a date for Josh on the phone, close my Econ book and start typing up a
stack of notes on Jubilee 2000, the organization Bono works with.
A second later the phone rings again and I snap it up, "Josh Lyman's
It's security. Apparently I have a visitor who hasn't been cleared and I
need to go ID him.
"Well, who is it?" I ask.
"He says he's your professor, ah... Dr. Bradley Shale."
My stomach flips a little. Dr. Shale. Dr. Shale is here. Dr. Shale is here
The agent goes on, "He has the proper identification, I just need you to
down and have him cleared if you want to let him."
"Um... Sure, yeah. I'll be right there."
I hang up and smooth my dress. Dr. Bradley Shale is my Comparative
Government professor. He's brilliant, he's a big fan of Barlet, and he looks
not a little like the Harrison Ford of around ten years ago.
He's the cliche version of a sexy college professor. He's got the tweed
jacket with the leather elbow patches and the carefree jeans, the wire rim
glasses, that hint of absentmindeness about him.
Did I mention he looks a lot like Harrison Ford?
Moments later I'm shaking his hand and walking with him away from security,
"Good afternoon, Dr. Shale. What brings you here?"
He smiles and because I'm a healthy hormone producing woman my cheeks feel a
"Call me Bradley. All my students call me Bradley. I can't apologize enough
for dropping in like this." He gestures around him, "I fully realize
literally, the last place in the world a person should just drop in. But I
know you had to leave last class early and there were some hand outs you
didn't get." He unzips his briefcase and takes out a manila folder,
you go. You'll need them next week so..."
I nod, "Thank you so much, Bradley."
I smile knowingly, "And I'm sure your visit had nothing to do with getting
He shrugs and grins sheepishly, "Well, if you were to offer I wouldn't
We'd discussed this before and I'd promised him that at some point I'd give
him a tour of the west wing. I guess he thought stopping by he'd more likely
get the chance than if he made an appointment. I guess he's right.
I check my watch, "I have a few minutes before my boss gets back from a
meeting, I could give you a tour."
He looks positively giddy and we go on our way. As we walk the tourist that
everybody gets I start to recite some of the factoids I've picked up since
working here but he knows them already and then starts excitedly giving me
"I'm sorry, " He says finally, "I suppose I'm a little star
"Would you like to see where I work?" I ask.
His eyes light up, "Ah, the real story. Yes, very much."
We're quiet as we walk for a few minutes and Bradley appears to be taking it
all in, "You work for the Deputy Chief of Staff, right?" He finally
"Yes. Josh Lyman."
"What's that like?" He asks, genuinly wanting to know.
I shrug a little, "Fast paced, stressful, it's a good job though. It's
probably not as exciting or glamourous as people might think it is. I mean
I'm just an assistant, I don't make big desicions or changes in policy, I
answer phones, I type, I schedule. But..."
I stare at the floor as we walk, looking for the right words.
"But what?" Bradley prods.
"When something good happens... Something very good, like when an important
piece of legislation passes, something that actually effects people. When
the President gets to really help someone or a lot of people every once in a
while..." I shake my head. It really is hard to describe, "You feel
He smiles, "I would imagine you do. So... How'd you get this job?"
I laugh at the memory, "I talked Josh into hiring me. I chased down the
campaign, walked into the headquarters and I was a volunteer and then I just
decided I was working for Josh. He fought it a little at first but I
convinced him I could do it and he hasn't been able to resist me since."
"I bet he hasn't." Bradley chuckled.
It soon becomes clear to me that Bradley isn't just here to give me the
homework or even to see the White House.
He came to see me. As we're talking he looks straight in my eyes and leans
forward just to edge of acceptable personal space.
He brings up the idea of having lunch or dinner after class sometime.
We arrive in the midst of the chaos that is the bullpen and I stop at my
desk, "This is my desk." I say with flourish, I motion towards Josh's
"That's Josh's office."
Bradley still looks star struck and then he looks towards the hallway and his
mouth drops open. I follow his gaze to see the President striding
purposefully toward us with CJ in tow. I figure it must be a relatively slow
day for he President to be wondering around seemingly aimlessly with the
Press Secretary. He stops in the middle of the bullpen and paces around, CJ
The President is ranting, "I've been stood up, CJ! I've been stood
The President is referring to a student group of activists against
sweatshops, from Montana of all places, who were supposed to come meet him
today and he'd been looking forward to assuring them that labor policies were
most definitely on his agenda. He also thought it would be a perfect prelude
to his meeting with Bono the next day.
Bradley and I watch. Bradley looks highly entertained.
CJ is obviously agitated, "Sir, you were not stood up. There are garment
factories in Los Angeles that have surpressed union formation so the garment
workers went on strike and now they're all getting fired. The students are
having a protest."
They stop in the middle of the bullpen and President Bartlet wags his finger,
"Don't placate me, CJ. I know when I'm not wanted. Don't they think I have
a little pull in these situations? Union busting in California? In Los
Angeles?! Don't think I'm not going to get right on that."
"I know you will, sir."
"I'm going to get right on it."
"At the very least they could have sent a representative. I'm the leader of
the free world and I've been stood up!"
"We were going to discuss fly fishing, CJ. I happen to know that a number
those students enjoy fly fishing. It was in the profile. They're from
Montana after all."
"I went fly fishing with Jim Carter once in Grand Teton. Summertime, you
know. Yellowstone was much too crowded. He's very good but when it comes to
Pike he really doesn't know what he's doing. You have to use mylar straw for
Pike, CJ. Carter was using nylon."
"Sir, I think it's time we moved on. Now Time magazine wants to do a photo
shoot with you and Bono... Maybe ask a couple questions."
Bartlet stroked his chin, "What were we doing here, anyway? Oh yes, Josh.
He turns and sees me, "Donna, just the person I want to see. Where's your
I clear my throat, "I'm sorry, Mr. President. He's still meeting with
Schictger and Berk."
He raises his eyebrows, "Ah, yes. I don't envy him. Very well." He
Bradley for the first time, "And who is this?"
Bradley looks like a twelve year-old girl about to meet Britany Spears,
this is Bradley, that is Dr. Bradley Shale. He's a political science
professor at Georgetown. Comparative government. I'm in... Er... One of his
This is just great. Now word will get around that I'm back in school, which
yes is good, but now Josh will find out second hand and be all offended.
Bartlet is beaming, "Donna, you're back in school? That is the single best
thing I've heard all day, that one of my staff members is pursuing higher
education and at Georgetown, even better."
He shakes Bradley's hand, he even pulls a two handed handshake, "Excellent
meet you, Dr. Shale."
Bradley's on cloud nine, "Oh, it is an honor and a privilege to meet you,
President. I'm from New Hampshire myself and I am a very big fan of yours."
Oh brother, I think, as I inwardly roll my eyes. Bradley is from New
Hampshire and now Bartlet looks absolutely gleeful.
"In that case, it's positively splendid to meet you! Where about's are you
"Portsmouth! Beautiful! Now I don't care what anybody says, no one on this
earth does lobster better than Portsmouth."
"I would definitely agree with you there, sir!" Bradley says
Barlet looks at me with pride, "It's good to know Donna is in such good
hands. And I hope you appreciate her being in your class, we certainly
appreciate her around here. Our Deputy Chief of Staff would be absolutely
useless with out her."
Bradley puts his hand on my shoulder, "Trust me, I do. She's my best
student. I don't know how she manages it with this job. In fact, she just
wrote the most amazing paper on Hobbes."
Bartlet winks at me, "We're very proud of her here. I'll have to give that
paper a looksy sometime. And you'd better tell me when you're graduating,
Donna. I want to be there to see you walk down that aisle at ole
This is completely surreal.
My cheeks are surely beet red and I feel like a little kid at open house, my
teacher and my father gushing over me madly. I'm almost wishing that Josh
were here now, at least he wouldn't fawn over me like this. He'd make some
smart ass cracks and then we'd smirk at each other both knowing that he very
much would be useless without me and that he is proud of me and I wouldn't
have to be horrifically embarassed like I am right now.
Finally CJ rips the President away from the conversation, nodding hello at
Bradley and the two of us are alone. More or less.
Bradley is basking in the moment, "That was, " He says quietly,
greatest moment of my life."
I don't doubt it.
I will never admit this to her aloud but it's a damn good thing Donna said
what she said to me before I left because in the midst of puckering up for a
good bout of ass kissing I came extremely close to saying, "With all due
respect, Senator Berk, anybody who would start smoking in this day and age is
a friggin' idiot anyway."
It was only the echo of the great Donnatella's words that stopped me.
Sometimes I can swear she reads my mind.
And as I have no clue what I'm supposed to be doing next I'm hoping she'll
read my mind again.
I get back to the office and am on the approach when I see Donna talking to
some guy wearing denim and tweed. He looks very... Teacherly. Sort of.
Actually he sort of looks like Indiana Jones. First I assume he must be with
that richy kid education group Sam and I are meeting with but he doesn't
really carry that vibe. I rack my brain for who this could be and come up
Then I notice that he's leaning in.
To talk to Donna, I mean.
He's definitely leaning, they're both smiling. This can't be one of my
appointments. I can tell when she's in that mode and she's not in that mode
right now. He's leaning forward even farther and they're talking softly but
excitedly. Donna tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. He says something,
they laugh, he puts a hand on her shoulder.
And then something in my brain starts to itch. Suddenly I feel as if a
mosquito has meandered it's way into my parietal lobe.
Who is this guy??
I square my shoulders and walk up to the both of them.
"Donna, hey." Donna looks startled when she sees me. Her face falls
slightly and suddenly she seems awkward.
"Hey, Josh. Um..."
I look back and forth between her and the guy expectantly, "This must
I frown, "Who must this be, Donna?"
Donna's face is pink, nearly fuscia. "Josh, this is... This is
It is then that I realize I am standing face to face with Donna's big secret.
He sticks out his hand, "Bradley Shale, how do you do?"
Donna opens her mouth as if to talk.
And then I do something kinda weird.
"Oh... sure," I say. "Bradley Shale...Donna's told me all about
Donna frowns slightly. She looks a little confused.
I'm not sure why I did that. I just thought that if I hadn't heard of him it
would look like Donna doesn't tell me anything.
Apparently she doesn't.
I was also trying to send a subtle message to the guy that Donna has a boss
who knows her and cares about her so he'd be... You know... Prudent.
Suddenly I'm depressed.
I shake his hand and plaster on a fake smile, "Josh Lyman, good to meet
He glances over at her with something like admiration, "You must be very
proud of Donna."'
Proud? Why, 'cause she's my assistant? And then I realize he must mean that
we should be proud of Donna because she's thrived so well under the
tyrannical regime of Josh Lyman.
I start to wonder what she's told him about me.
I shrug, "Well, you know, we haven't gone to Def Con four yet so that's a
Donna smiles a little and seems to relax when I say that. She even looks a
little... What is that? Grateful?
He laughs lightly, "She's a very talented woman."
Yes, I think to myself, I work with her everyday, I'm very aware of all her
And then a neon sign lights up in my head, attracting the attention of the
loudly buzzing mosquito.
This Saturday night fixture is most likely aware of her talents as well, and
more likely aware of a whole other set of talents of which I know nothing.
Talents that are probably much more interesting than her excellent word
Did I mention this guy looks annoyingly like Indiana Jones? You can tell he
wants to look like him too. I'm surprised he doesn't wear a beat up brown
fedora and an old leather jacket.
He's probably trying to make up for the name.
He turns to Donna and puts his hand on her shoulder again, "I won't keep
anymore. But thanks for letting me stop by. And I'll never be able to thank
you enough for introducing me to the President."
This is where I draw the line.
Donna and I need to have a talk.
You don't impress your boyfriend by introducing him to your boss when your
boss is the President.
It just isn't done.
If she'd wanted to impress him she should have brought him a pad of White
House stationary or a postcard of the Lincoln bedroom or something.
It is now official.
I do not like Han Solo here.
I bet he nagged her into it. The possibility exists that he's even only
dating her because she works at the White House.
She hasn't said what he does.
He could be some special interest guy trying to weasle his way to the inside.
He doesn't look familiar so he can't be that important.
"See you Saturday night." He says cheerfully.
"Okay..." She's kind of nervous, "Bye, Bradley."
They don't kiss or anything, he just kind of pats her on the shoulder.
He most be one of those distant types that doesn't like public displays of
'Cause that touchy feely stuff has no place in the bullpen.
He nods goodbye to me and then he's gone.
Donna sighs heavily.
I put my hands on my hips, "We need to talk."
"I know, I know..." She says tiredly.
We start towards my office and then CJ comes sweeping in and yanks me by the
arm, "Joshua! Roosevelt. Now."
"Right." I mumble, annoyed. I point at Donna and give her my best
I-mean-business-look, "We're talking later!"
CJ is dragging me down the hall backwards and I start to trip, "CJ! Geez,
She lets go and I straighten my suit, trying to keep up with her rapid stride.
"Your senators are causing trouble." She says grimly.
"Who?" I ask, "Schictger and Berk?"
"They're saying Hoynes took big tobacco money."
That was quick.
"He didn't." I say with assurity.
"How do you know?"
"I worked for him."
"You weren't his accountant. You know Hoynes."
"Yeah, I know Hoynes but I don't remember him hanging out with Joe
"Well, there's gonna be some bad buzz whether he did or not. We're having a
"I surmised as much."
We come to the Roosevelt room and the President rushes right up to me,
"Joshua James Lyman, I'm very disappointed in you."
Perfect. Donna bothers the President with her little boyfriend and I take
the heat for it.
"Sir?" I ask, as if I have no idea why he's giving me that expression
won't get desert after dinner.
Bartlet smacks me on the shoulder and his mouth breaks into a smile, "I
believe you didn't let us know what's going on with Donna! I'm very proud of
her for taking a step like this, you know the older you get, the harder it
I'm at a loss.
The President can't possibly be this happy just because my secretary got a
"Um... Yes, sir."
He sits at the head of the table and I take my seat as CJ and Sam and Toby
grumble behind me.
"You know, I kind of think of the support staff as part of my family.
Donna's like a daughter to me. I would be very happy to be there when she
walks down that aisle."
No no no no...
Not with that... that... GUY.
I stumble around for words, "Uh... wha...?"
The President is oblivious to my incredulity, "You'll remind her to tell me
when the big day is, won't you Josh? And tell her I said congratulations, I
don't think I said that."
Donna is getting married and she didn't even bother to tell me.
She's getting... Married.
To that... GUY.
The one little mosquito has become a horde, an angry swarm worthy of
I seem to have lost my breath but I manage a soft, "Sure, sir."
And suddenly this huge overwelming sadness sweeps over me.
It's NOT because we have a thing.
It is now obvious we don't.
But I thought we had... SOMEthing.
I thought I was at least her friend.
Sam plops down next to me as I sit there, gripping the arms of my chair,
glowering at the table.
"Well, this is a fine kettle of fish, what'd you say to them at lunch,
I can't believe this.
She didn't even tell me.
"Hellooo, earth to Lyman...?"
Somehow, of course, the PRESIDENT knows.
But I don't.
She barely knows him. What's it been? Three months?
"Fine then, space out."
She's going to marry that putz-boy and move into whatever
pseodo-academic-lobbyist hole he crawled out of. I've decided he's some sort
of half-professor half-lobbyist guy.
They tend to wear tweed.
"CJ, why don't you fill us in on the situation..."
They'll have kids with cute little names like Molly and... Bradley Jr.
Then he'll decide to run for office and she'll cut her hair and start a
"So Josh, what do you think?"
Meanwhile I'll have to go hire someone like... like... Shirley.
I'll be somewhat nonfunctional but I'll have good coffee.
My head snaps up, "What?!"
CJ rolls her eyes, "Good God, where've you been? We were asking about
Hoynes' senate race..."
The meeting wears on and I put myself on automatic pilot. They don't really
need me anyway. This is Leo and CJ's thing mostly, they're just trying to
see what I know about Hoynes and I don't know much about that side of it
I feel like I've been shot all over again.
My boss is weird.
I think I've mentioned this before.
The stress of this job has gone to his head.
First he comes in this morning demanding to now whether or not we have a
"thing" and now he's pretending to have heard of my college professor.
And he doesn't even know I'm in college!
I assume the President himself has told him by now judging by the way he was
Josh will probably come back bursting with little remarks about my having
gone back to school, complain about it getting in the way of my job, and then
act dramatically offended, as I said before, because the President knew first.
Then he'll be all nice about it and prod me for details.
That will probably be fine. But I still can't understand why he pretended to
know Bradley. I was about to tell him about school and then Josh went and
acted weird on me.
The question remains then, who the heck did he think Bradley was?
It stands to reason that he assumed Bradley was my boyfriend. I suppose he
acted like he knew of him to show Bradley that his girlfriend has a
protective boss or something so he'd be... I dunno... Careful.
If that's true it was very sweet of him.
I guess we'll figure it out later and as I sift through files I wonder what
new crisis is emerging in the Roosevelt room.
Hopefully it's nothing that will prevent me from meeting my favorite Irish
In a few minutes I see Josh coming and get up, prepared for whatever new
emergency has arisen.
Oh my God.
It must be horrible because Josh is trudging down the hall looking like he's
carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. He looks like he's aged
ten years in the last ten minutes. He's rubbing his neck with one hand and
gazing dourly at the ground.
I steel myself for whatever's coming.
He sees me and straightens up a little.
"Donna..." He says softly.
He sounds so lost.
"Josh, what happened in there?" I demand quietly as we step into his
He shrugs, "Oh, that... Some snags with the tobacco tax. No biggie."
puts his hands in his pockets and smiles a little sadly, "So... The
told me about Bradley." His head is tilted to one side, "Why didn't
I thought he'd be a little annoyed, I didn't think he'd be crushed.
I run a hand through my hair, "Oh, you know... I didn't know what you'd
about it. And I know it's going to effect work a tiny bit... I guess I just
didn't want to tell you unless it became a real issue. It's not even that
big of a deal."
Josh looks somewhat shocked, "Not that big a deal??"
This is very strange.
"Josh, I'm sorry I didn't tell you but it's really not that exciting. It's
just something in my life now. Look, I promise I'll try not to let it effect
my work. It doesn't even need to concern you."
Josh's face falls even further and he looks like he is going to die.
He clears his throat and stands up straight, "Well." He says
sticks out his hands, "Um... Congratulations then. The President says
This is neither embarassingly supportive nor good naturedly annoyed.
"Thanks." I say.
I put up my hand to shake his, which feels like a very bizarrely formal
gesture if you ask me and then Josh frowns at my hand. He picks it up and
looks at it and then he picks up my other hand and looks at it.
"Josh, what?!" I demand.
Josh drops my hands and looks slightly ticked off and disbelieving, "Geez,
Donna! Didn't this putz even buy you a ring?!"
"Josh, what did the President tell you, anyway?"
Josh sits on the edge of his desk and shrugs, "He told me about you and
Me and Bradley...
"What about me and Bradley?"
"That you're..." He starts to say, "You know, that
He mumbles something unintelligable.
"That you're getting... Ma- married." He manages to get out finally,
stumbling over the word.
I stare at Josh Lyman, Deputy Chief of Staff for the President of the United
States and complete moron.
And then I laugh.
I laugh and I laugh.
Joshua looks not amused.
"Donna, what the hell is going on?" He demands.
I put a hand to my mouth and stifle my giggles, "No, Josh... Josh, Josh,
"What?" He sighs. He still looks depressed.
I shake my head, "No, Josh. I am NOT getting married."
His brow furrows, "Huh?"
"I'm not getting married. I have no plans on getting married, I'm not even
close to getting married!" I say louder, still chuckling.
Josh blinks. His brow unfurrows. He stands up, he rubs a hand over his
mouth, he closes and opens his eyes once or twice. He straightens up, turns
around, puts his hands on his hips, moves a paper from the top of one filing
cabinet to another and turns back around.
He glances at me, he walks over to his desk, sits in his chair, puts his feet
up on the table and folds his hands in his lap.
"Oh." He says.
I cross my arms and lean against his desk, regarding him wryly, "The
President told you I was getting married?"
"Yeah. Well... I thought he did."
"I am not getting married."
"Yeah, we've established that...But that Bradley guy..." He says
suspiciously,"You're slee-seeing him, aren't you?"
"If he's not your boyfriend, who is he?"
I sit down in a chair and cross my legs.
Here we go.
"He's my professor."
I can see the wheels begin to turn.
Click click click.
"You went back to school."
He leans his head on his hand, "The older you get the harder it is..."
"Boy, is that true." I say, nodding.
"People often graduate from college."
I tilt my head in question, "This is true..."
"It's a big day...They walk down aisles..."
"I'm going to assisinate the President."
"I think that's a federal offence no matter who you work for."
"Okay." He says with purpose. He sits up and leans forward and folds
hands on his desk, "So you're back in school?"
"This is the last time I'm answering that question."
"Where are you going?"
He looks impressed, "Wow. Not too shabby."
"So that's what you do Saturday nights?"
I nod, "That's what I do Saturday nights."
"So what does that Bradley guy teach?"
I smile, "Dr. Bradley Shale teaches Comparative Government."
"Comparative Government... What's your major?"
I smirk, "Political Science."
He grins, "Shocker."
I shrug, "Seemed like a logical choice."
"What else are you taking?"
Understanding crosses his face, "Ah, if P then Q..."
"Yep. And Economic Theory."
He lights up, "The Malthusian stuff!"
Suddenly he looks suspicious, "You know, Donna. Eventually this will take
you away from work and then what?? I might have to get my own coffee!" I
laugh and he snaps his fingers, "Oh, wait! I already do!"
Now this is a pleasant balance between supportive and annoyed.
"So, why now?"
I sit back, "I've been wanting to finish for awhile. I kept thinking I
wait as soon as things calm down but things never calm down. So I just went
for it. And I don't know if I'll even be able to finish. This is the
hardest thing I've ever done."
Josh frowns, "No kidding. When do you sleep?"
"That's that eye closing thing, right?"
Josh shakes his head, "You're probably working harder than any of us."
I blush a little, "I don't even know what I'll do with it. I don't have any
Josh looks whistful, he gazes away, "You'll be a Georgetown graduate. You
could do anything..."
I roll my eyes, "Josh..."
Josh sits forward and leans on his elbows, "Donnatella, you continually
underestimate yourself. First of all, of course you'll finish and I fully
believe you could do just about anything you set your mind too."
I'm a little awed by this speech.
"You have a lot of faith in me..."I say lightly.
"With good reason, " He says, "You came strutting into my office
agp with no real experience and no degree and ended up working for the Deputy
Chief of Staff. A position like that usually requires five years of
secretarial experience but you've come through with flying colors. Without
you I would be pissing off far more people than I do already."
How sweet is my boss, I ask you?
"Josh, I'm only here because you took a chance on me."
"And it was one of the best moves I've ever made." He says, looking
"Joshua, that's very sweet but without me you would still be a great Deputy
Chief of Staff."
He shakes his head, "Correction. Without you I'd be a fine Deputy Chief of
Staff. But you and I together make a damn fine Deputy Chief of Staff just
like Bartlet and Leo and CJ and Sam and Toby and Charlie and I... Everyone
here altogether make a damn fine President. We need each other, Donna."
Oh gosh, now I'm teary.
He goes on, "But are you going to look for... Another job?" He asks
I wasn't expecting that question.
Honestly I haven't even thought about that question.
I'm about to throw out some kind of answer when Josh's cell rings.
Josh sighs and picks up and I motion that I'll be outside working. I get up
and smooth my skirt, my mind going over the conversation. I go back to my
desk but before I return to a list of exciting phone calls I have to make I
pick up Josh's agenda for the day and set it on his desk because he probably
has no idea what he's doing next.
Tonight I am going to go out and get drunk.
Alright, not drunk.
But I refuse to say the word "tipsy" aloud. Tipsy isn't a word that
well on the tongue of a man who likes to pretend he's Bruce Willis once in
awhile. I won't tell Donna about this because she'll only remind me of my
I'm going to go down to Casey's and order... Maybe a Guinness. I'm going to
curl up at the bar with the Harvard International Review and U.S. News and
World Report and I'm going to get good and tipsy. Then I'm going to remind
myself that tomorrow afternoon I'll be meeting the idol of my college years.
Maybe I'll get Sam to come with me.
"Josh, there's a population expert from... Well, I can't remember. I'll
out. But you're having a meeting with her tomorrow."
Donna is saying this to me.
"A population expert. Katie Kelsey."
"Katie Kelsey. I heard she's very colorful."
"You mean she's bitchy."
"No, I mean she's colorful. Yellow suits, big jewelry..."
"You should brief me on that Malthus stuff."
"That's at eleven. Bono and Larry will be here at one."
"I told you, I don't know if Larry's coming."
"Keep hope alive, Josh. Okay, everything that can be done today has been
done. I'm going to go home and study."
I'm going to go to Casey's and get... Nipped.
I rest my head on my arm and come face to face with Sam's cool looking watch
that tells the time zones of four countries.
I think it's 4:15 PM in Tel Aviv but the hands are kind of blurring together
so I'm not sure.
"She's leaving me." I moan.
Sam takes another sip of Corona.
I'm just past tipsy now.
"Donnie... Donna... Donnatella..."
I'm still moaning. If you're attempting to create an image of this scene it
only even makes sense if you picture me, an inebriated Josh Lyman, collapsed
at the counter of Caseys, my sentences coming out in despondant moans.
"Glad we got that settled." Sam is thumbing through my Harvard
The mosquitos have become depressed too. They've given up their insistant
buzzing. Now they just lie, apathetic, at the foot of a dimly flickering
"She will though."
"When?" Sam asks.
"Where's she going?"
"Yeah, Bartlet told me about that. That's great for her."
"What's the matter with you?"
"She's leaving me, Sam." I wail.
"Josh, I was competely mistaken. It's obvious there's nothing at all
you and Donna."
"What kinda mook goes by Bradley?" I mumble.
"Someone named Bradley?"
"No one named Bradley goes by Bradley. Bradley Pitt? That's dumb."
"It's old English." Sam says brightly, "It means "broad
"Why do you know that?"
"Bartlet told me. He was going on and on about your Portsmouth
I rest my chin on my hands on the counter, reguarding a dish of mixed nuts,
"He's Donna's Portsmouth professor." I frown pathetically at the nuts,
muster the strength to sit up for another swig of Guinness, "I didn't even
know he was from Portsmouth. Why does everyone know more than me?"
Sam is grinning, "You really thought Donna was getting married?"
"Yes, I did."
"How did that make you feel?"
"We don't have a thing." I say, mostly into my bottle of beer.
I point a limp finger at him, "Don't patronize me, pea brain. If it wasn't
for me you'd be very rich."
"Thank God you saved me from that horrid fate."
"You'd be very rich and very miserable."
"Probably so. Josh, what's the matter with you?"
"Then why are you at Casey's getting drunk?"
"I'm not getting drunk, I'm getting tipsy."
I've just said "tipsy" aloud.
My night is shot.
"Fine. Why are you getting tipsy? Are you upset that Donna's back in
Sam has now said tipsy too which makes me feel a little better.
I sit up and lean on my right hand, my right hand slips and I put my right
hand back with my left hand and frown, "I think it's great she's back in
school. I love that she's back in school. Bartlet's proud of her,
Bradley's proud of her. We're all very proud."
"So she's moving on with life. She's gonna have a degree from Georgetown
in..." I take a loooong swig of Guinnes, "Polliligal science." I
can do anything she wants. She gonna move right on."
Sam nods, "And you're afraid she's gonna move right on out of your
"She'll get a new job..."
"Probably get married..."
I grimace, "To someone like..."
Sam appears to have this all figured out, "Probably to someone like Bradley
Shale. From what I hear he's highly intelligent... Accomplished...
Georgetown Professor's salary..."
I rest my head on my hands on the counter again, "Donna Shale... Donna
Shalayla... That's horrible."
"You'll miss her, won't you?"
"So what you're saying is, Donna's back in school which you very much
but you're afraid she's going to leave you to go on to brighter and better
horizons and marry someone like her Portsmouth Professor of whom you're
"You're twisting my words and making gross insinuations."
"And you're in love with your assistant."
I'm annoyed, "Stop sounding so awake."
Sam sighs, he's looking off into the distance at Vodka bottles.
"Do you remember the Joshua Tree concert? Chicago?"
"They named 'at album afer me, ya know."
"It was '88 and we went to that stadium. You could actually see the stars,
even with the stadium lights. Seemed like there was a million people there.
We were right up in front."
I turn my head and watch Sam get nostalgic.
"Bono was great and at one point he sang Where The Streets Have No Name and
in the middle he gave us this speech. He said, 'You can tear down the walls
everyday'. He looked right at us."
"We're meeting him tomorrow. I can't believe it." Sam is excited.
"Think he'll remember us?"
"Donna likes Larry."
"Every girl I knew in college liked Larry. Don't worry, Josh. I think he's
"And Donna would never be unfaithful to Bradley."
"I don't like you."
"I should call Donna right now so she can come here and see you in this sad
"He was flirting."
"Bradley. He likes her. I can tell."
"Well, earlier you thought he was engaged to her so I'm not trusting your
opinion so much."
"Why am I here, Sam?"
"'Cause you're brilliant at your job and you're an idiot at life."
"'At describes everyone I know." I point out. "'Cept maybe
Sam looks at his watch, "I think it's time I took you home."
"Not on the first date, Sam."
"By the lameness of that joke I'm certain it's time I took you home. You
go to bed and dream of Donna."
"She has pretty ears."
"I'm just saying."
Sam gets up, making me dizzy, and puts his arm over my shoulder.
Sam is lugging me out to his car, "I thought she was getting married,
"I know." He sighs.
"You know, when I was recovering she brought me lunch everyday."
"I know, she wouldn't let any of us come in either. Not to talk about work
"She makes really good french toast."
"Fasten your seat belt."
"Not too much nutmeg. That's important."
"But she wouldn't let me have syrup unless I promised not to talk about
"She's kinda pretty when she's pissed."
The next few minutes fade in and out and then I wake up in the middle of the
night and realize that Sam dumped me on my bed on my side, shoes, coat and
Sleep blurs into dreams and back into reality and it occurs to me that I'm
damn lucky I have Donna around.
Because I have a very sensitive system and for a whole thirty seconds I can't
remember what the hell I do for a living.
TO BE CONTINUED.....
Achtung, Lyman! - 3