Achtung, Lyman! Part 4/?
Josh/Donna
PG-13
Erin Ashby/SpookMuldy@aol.com

Achtung, Lyman! Part 4

You think about the possible perks of working in the White House when you get
a job like this. Things like meeting the world's most powerful people.
Having access to information most people don't. That incredible feeling when
something goes right and you get to change the world in some small way.
And then a new perk presents itself.
The day I snuck into Josh's make shift office and started answering his
phones without his permission, I didn't consider that this job would lead me
to this intriguing possibility.
Because Adam Clayton, bassist for a platinum selling hall of fame kind of
band, a guy who once dated Naomi Campbell, asked me out.
Donnatella.
Lil ole me.
This happened after he showed me some moves on the bass. He was also a
little overly impressed that I remembered some lines from high school.
I must admit, there's something inherently sexy about a guy with his arms
around you playing the pulsating tones of a bass as he whispers chords in
your ear.
I'm not stupid, I know he's probably done that with hundreds of girls.
So Adam Clayton asked me out.
What am I gonna say??
No??
Then, just as he was showing me how to play "One" Josh came thundering into
the bull pen, snarling.
"Donna, I need you!" His voice was booming.
Funny how he'd been in a good mood all day and was suddenly upset.
Then he said something quite amusing.
"You know, that touchy feely stuff has no place in the bullpen."
The band will be in D.C. for another day so tomorrow after I get off work
Adam and I are going to dinner.
Meanwhile, it's time for Larry King. I'm curled up on my couch with my
favorite afghan, the VCR set up for another taping to add to the Josh Archive.
Larry introduces Josh and the other guests on the show and then asks about U2.
"Now Josh, word on the street is uh, Bono is hanging around the White House
now?"
Josh grins, "Bono did come by today to discuss third world debt. His work
with Jubilee 2000, the organization campaigning for debt relief is well known
and the President had a very long discussion about it today."
"And what's Bartlet's stance on this issue?"
"The President is taking an active interest in this, Larry. In fact he's
calling for a summit on third world debt relief in May which I, and Assistant
Director of Communications, Sam Seaborne, will be putting together. We want
the American people to be well educated on this issue because only then can
changes be made."
You go Josh, I think to myself.
Bill Maher speaks up, "Who was more star struck? Bono or Bartlet?"
Josh chuckles, "A little of both, I think. They locked themselves in the
oval office for a couple hours and then the President gave a rousing
rendition of When Love Comes to Town-"
Bill Maher laughs from off camera.
"Which was thoroughly enjoyed by all." Josh finishes.
He's smirking in full force. Josh is in the zone.
Soon he is in the middle of a heated debate about foreign trade policies with
Governor Erik Michaels of South Carolina and a conservative so extreme he
makes the other staunch conservatives nervous.
There's a break in their argument and Larry cuts in to ask the Governor a
question.
"Governor Michaels, there's a new and very popular term out there a lot of
Republicans are using these days. Do you consider yourself a compassionate
conservative?"
Governer Michaels smiles, "It is a new term and I think it's one that
describes what the Republican party has always been. We want what's best for
America and we think the American people are smart enough to know how to go
about it. Now in the case of trade policy, Bartlet is trying to do something
that has never worked, he's trying to police countries that aren't policing
themselves-"
The camera cuts to an unfortunate shot of Josh rolling his eyes.
The Governor goes on, "At the expense of the economy. America is doing
as well as it is because of the expansion of trade and markets. And I agree
that it is totally unacceptable for these corporations to break human rights
violations and the rules that have been agreed upon. But we need to trust
the WTO to enforce those regulations."
Josh interrupts, "That would be a great idea, Governor, except that the
regulations are not being enforced."
Michaels raises an eyebrow, "I think my point is that since the election
it's been pretty obvious that President Bartlet doesn't just consider himself
the messiah for America but the messiah for the world. Bartlet wants to save
everybody and his problem so far has been that he spreads himself too thin.
He's trying so hard to create some imaginary utopian society for everyone on
this earth that he hasn't gotten around to actually finishing what he started
in the first place. He needs to do one thing at a time and his first
priority should be what's right for Americans and not necessarily what's
right for the countries he's not presiding over-"
Josh can't take it anymore, "Well, maybe the President thinks as I do,
that humanity should never be conservative with it's compassion!"
I clap my hands from my sofa and yip at the TV, "Ooh! Good one, Josh!"
That's definitely the sound bite of the night.
The camera returns to Larry King who looks pleased, "And on that note, we'll
be right back. Please stay with us."
Later Josh is in the midst of another debate, this one with Bill Maher over
what else? Population growth.
"But, Josh, " Bill Maher is saying excitedly, "There are six billion people
living on earth at this moment! Six billion!"
Josh nods, "I know, Bill. The President knows that too. We also know that
the population of the United States is likely to remain stable while
populations in sub-Saharan Africa are increasing rapidly-"
"Shouldn't something be done about this??" The comedian asks.
"Yes." Josh says firmly, "I agree. The President is concerned also. But
right now we're just trying to figure out what to do about the problems
facing the population as it stands. It's not the top priority on our agenda-"
Bill sighs, "But it won't be a priority next year either. And sooner or
later we'll just plain run out of space and resources. Maybe this should be
our top priority or we're gonna wake up one morning and there won't be any
water left, we'll all have to move to Mars!"
Larry King laughs but Josh looks irritated again.
Bill throws up his hands, "We've got to get these people to stop breeding!"
Josh explodes for the second time in forty five minutes.
"Well, don't worry, Bill! Maybe if we're lucky famine, civil war, and some
new incurable STD will wipe out another couple billion for us!"
I watch Josh's face after he says that and see the entire panorama of thought
march across his expression. He knows he's gotten his point across but he
also knows it was the wrong thing to say and he knows most of all that Leo's
going to kick his ass tomorrow.
I have to say, speaking totally objectively, that as sexy as it is for a guy
to teach you bass with his arms around you, watching a passionate fighter
like Josh lose control because of what he believes in...
Well hey, it's nothing less than a complete turn on.
Objectively speaking.
**************************************************************************
I may have gone a tad overboard.
Apparently my comments made some kind of impression because they play the
compassion remark over and over that night, using it in conjunction with the
news reports on Bono and the President. Technically I feel this is a bit of
a misquotation since we weren't actually discussing debt relief when I said
that. But it makes me look good so I won't complain and it's motivating
early press on the summit. A couple of pundits on the later shows discuss it
as the motto for the Bartlet administration.
We could have worse mottos.
The next morning I walk uncertainly into the wing, not sure what anyone's
reaction will be.
Soon enough CJ sees me. She's rushing rapidly down the hall and motions me
over.
"Josh! Walk with me." She demands.
"Hey, CJ." I say quickly, keeping in step beside her.
"First of all, you were much too harsh near the end."
I sigh, "It was Bill Maher not Bob Dole!"
"You have to remember, when you're up there, you're not just talking to the
people on the show, you're talking to America and America is sick of harsh."
"Right." I say begrudgingly.
"However, " She says, raising a pointed finger, "You are very genuine and
people like to see someone representing the President who sounds like he
believes in what he's fighting for."
"Thanks."
"And you did get your point across."
Now I'm confused, "So was I too harsh or not?"
"I'll get back to you. But great job promoting the summit and kudos on the
compassion line. I may have it embroidered on a pillow."
"You embroider?" I ask her.
"I said I'd have it embroidered."
"Right. CJ, do you think the President has a Messianic complex?"
"Sure."
I frown, "Do you think that's... Good?"
CJ stops and turns to look at me, "Josh, you know why people start to think
they're here to personally change the world?"
"Why?"
She smiles, "Because they're personally changing the world."
CJ leaves me to ponder her statement and I ponder my way into the bullpen.
I'm pleased to see it has not been invaded by any bassists and/or political
science professors.
I tip my chin up into the air and distinctly swagger on to my office.
"Donnatella!" I proclaim resolutely, "I require your assistance!"
A moment later Donna sits in front of my desk, notebook in hand.
"Have you been watching that Sherlock Holmes show on PBS again?"
And so will be my morning.
"Why?" I ask suspiciously.
"You have that cavalier tone." She says, furiously erasing and writing notes
on my agenda.
I perk up. This could very well be a compliment, "Cavalier? As in 'a
courtly gentleman?'"
"I was thinking cavalier as in offhand, supercilious."
I frown.
Donna smiles, "But I'm feeling generous this morning, Joshua. I'll give you
courtly."
"Why thank you. Now-"
"Be gentlemanly today and I may upgrade you to chivalrous."
"I am chivalrous!" I counter intelligently.
Sam and I have a meeting in two hours with a couple UN representatives to
discuss the Jubilee summit and I'm spending precious moments of preparation
time trying to convince my assistant of my high couth factor.
"You're roguish. At least most of the time." She says.
Roguish. As in mischievous or playful.
I can live with roguish.
"I'll give you that. But I could be chivalrous as well."
Donna shakes her head emphatically, "Absolutely not. You can't be chivalrous
and roguish at the same time."
I roll my eyes, "Oh, have it your way... What were we talking about?"
"Larry King."
"We were?"
"You did very well." She says confidently.
Call me the king of the mountain and bring me a platter of tarts.
I grin and tip back in the my desk chair, feet propped up on the tobacco tax
stack of papers, "Thank you, my loyal knave." I say in an English accent,
"Twas a pleasure and this morn I shall sit upon my throne..." I pick up a
pencil and hold it regally, "Scepter in hand and rule over all the
politically minded basic cable kingdom."
Donna raises an eyebrow, "Your loyal knave? I'm filing a complaint report on
that one. You may have gone a little
overboard in the end..."
Aw, her too? I thought for sure that in between making cracks she would
actually defend me.
Donna sees my face fall.
"Oh, fine." I grumble.
"But you know what I think the American people want to see most on television
from politicians?"
Here we go again.
"Empowered women asking rhetorical questions?"
Donna smirks, "People like you going overboard about something that actually
matters."
A smile pulls at my lips.
What an assistant have I.
"Thanks, Donnatella."
She grins, "Damn the man, Joshua!"
I rub my hands together, "Okay, so what's on the docket? What's hot? What's
new and fresh like fresh baked bread?"
Donna looks amused but examines the schedule, "UN meeting which I'm sure
you're aware of."
"Yep..."
"You and Sam are going to make some preliminaries about how to begin this
summit thing."
"Right."
"Staff meeting at three."
"Mmmhmm..." I mumble distractedly, tipping farther back in my orthapedically
comforting seat.
"Tobacco tax conference at four with Hoynes..."
"Yeehaw."
"And I'm going on a date with Adam Clayton so I can't work late."
It is then that the wheels give way and I fall completely out of my chair.
Ow.
"OW!"
Donna looms over me, frowning, "Josh!?"
SHE'S WHAT?!
My head is throbbing which bashing into a wall will do to you and a Snapple
bottle is in a very uncomfortable place under my back.
WHAT?!
But at the moment neither of those things are what is worrying me.
"WHA-WHAT?? WHAT WHAT??" I babble incoherently.
Donna appears beside me, "Are you okay? I wish I had that on tape. You
think they've got surveillance cameras in here?"
God, I hope not.
"WHY- WHAT?? WHY ARE YOU GOING OUT WITH ADAM CLAYTON?!"
"Why do you care?" She demands.
"You can't go!" I declare.
Donna puts out her hand to help me up, although apparently she's a little
ticked and yanks me up rather harshly and I stumble to a stance.
"Thank, DAD. Why not??"
Sam appears at the door.
"What's going on in here?" He asks innocently.
"NOTHING!" Donna and I shout simultaneously.
"Right." Sam grumbles.
I turn to Sam, "She's going on a date with Adam Clayton!"
He looks ecstatic, "You're going on a date with Adam Clayton??"
"Yes, I am!" She says proudly.
"No, you're not!" I say.
"What's the matter with you??"
Yeah, she's ticked.
This is a matter of professionalism, I'll have you know.
"Why are you going on a date with Adam Clayton??" I ask again.
I think I'm being quite calm really.
"Because he asked me." She says, as if it should be obvious.
"Oh, sure!" I exclaim, "And if Charleton Heston asked you out would you go on
a date with him too?!"
"What are you TALKING about??" Donna shrieks.
I'm not sure.
"I'm curious myself." Sam says cheerily.
I may have imbibed some sort of hallucinagen and forgotten about it.
"I'm talking about the fact that this is highly unprofessional!"
Yeah, that sounds good.
Donna is incredulous, "Why??"
"Because we're working with U2 on a debt relief summit in case you haven't
noticed!" I exclaim.
"You're working with BONO on a debt relief summit, Adam just happens to be in
his band!" She snaps back.
Good point.
"Besides, you have to work late tonight!" I throw out.
Donna gives me THE look, "On what?"
Uh...
"On the... Initiative! For the... Stuff!"
Donna raises an eyebrow.
Oh God, not the eyebrow.
"Joshua Lyman, are you jealous??"
Her voice goes way up at the end matching the height of her eyebrow.
"NO!" I bark automatically.
"Duh!" Sam yips.
I put on the frowny expression that drives senators to groveling, "That is
absolutely-"
Wait a minute.
I whip around and glare at Sam, "Did you just say 'duh'?!"
******************************************************************
"I heard a rumor around the office that Mandy, she was our PR expert during
the campaign, requested you guys for the inaugural ball..."
Adam Clayton nods, "Ach, yes. I heard something about that too. We were
working on Pop at the time."
I'm in shock, "You guys turned down a gig with the leader of the free world??"
He shrugs, "Studio time is studio time. That's U2. We have trouble enough
tearing Bono away from watching CNN when something's up."
Adam is charming, intelligent, full of exciting rock star stories. He's
attractive in an offbeat kind of way. The guy is wearing Versace for gosh's
sake.
But I can't seem to concentrate.
I feel scattered.
Maybe I'm nervous.
I laugh, "Sounds like Josh. When I took care of him, you know, after the
shooting, I couldn't tear him away. Leo kept saying don't you let him get
excited but you've met Josh..."
"Yeh..." Adam mumbles.
"He can't stand to miss anything and then he would always watch Burden of
Proof and yell at the T.V.... especially Greta whatsername. He's like a like
a little kid sometimes..."
My mind wanders and I smile slightly, thinking of an incident involving Talk
Back Live and Josh's speakerphone.
Josh is terrible with English accents, by the way.
We are eating dinner at the very nice place attatched to Adam's hotel. I'm
incredibly flattered that Adam turned down a night on the town with the boys
to go on a date with me.
I ask Adam if he enjoys the tour life and he fills me with stories about how
Bono "borrowed" a yacht to go joy riding in Sydney, the incredible experience
of giving a concert in Sarejevo, and how he once missed a gig while out
partying and it changed his life.
He turns the tables and asks me what my job is like.
I tell him that at first I was starstruck by the powerful people I saw in and
out of the bullpen day to day and that the first time I actually met the
president I was so nervous that Josh had to tell me to stop shaking his hand
after five minutes. I roll my eyes and laugh and talk about how demanding
Josh is, encouragable, at times egocentric, but that he passionatly stands up
for what he believes in, and how great it is to have a boss like that.
He asks me about my family.
I tell him about my parents and two brothers back in Wisconsin. How they
tend to be more conservative which reminds me of the time Josh met my older
brother and kept him hostage in his office for three hours trying to convince
him on gun control. I explain that the job can get so busy you don't have a
lot of time to go see family and that sometimes I tend to avoid it anyway.
How the White House has become a family and tell him about Thanksgiving last
year and the big dinner the Bartlet's had for everyone, how Josh and I
debated about cranberry sauce in the residence kitchen and then got into a
food fight that eventually involved the Deputy Director of Communications and
the Chief of Staff himself. How Toby walked in and got gravy in his beard.
Every question he asks seems somehow to lead to a Josh story. After the
second or third question I try to avoid bringing him up but even in my
thoughts he's incredibly stubborn. After a mere three years it appears he's
latched onto the caboose of every memory. I can't open a file on any
category without him popping up.
If Adam picked anything, say ice cream, I would first think of how my mom
made homemade ice cream once and accidently put a whole bunch of salt in the
ice cream instead of the maker, then I would immediatly tell him how Josh
wanted Haagen Daz during his recovery but I only let him have lowfat frozen
yogurt until I finally left a small carton of Haagen Daz coffee for him in
his freezer one night.
This is ridiculous.
I never noticed how much I talk about him and then it occurs to me that
usually on dates, the guy doesn't think to ask me a lot of question. Usually
it's he that's talking.
Now I know.
"So..." He sighs, "How did you start working for the White House?"
Ah, the magic question.
I swallow a bite of fettucinni and smile.
My single favorite story in the whole wide world.
"Well, I was volunteering for the Bartlet campaign when one day I stumbled
upon Josh's chaos of an office and discovered my calling..."
**********************************************************************
I'm not sure how we got here.
I think it was CJ's idea.
But the six of us, that is Toby, CJ, Sam, Charlie, Zoey and I are at a
keroake bar. We're sitting in a huge circular booth in the midst of a crowd
of mostly drunk lawyers and hopefully, no journalists.
Tomorrow all of us are going to Boston to follow U2 and their Jubilee entou
rage.
"Sting's coming! And Neil Young."
Toby grimaces, "Neil Young..."
Sam is excited, he hasn't stopped talking about it since this afternoon when
we made some phone calls and preliminary agendas.
All day I've been focused, as per usual, on the crisis of the day, the
upcoming project, that problem that needs solved...
We are now off work. Now nothing absolutely demands my attention.
Other than the obvious.
The obvious would be the disturbing images creeping across my mind's eye of
Adam Clayton and my assistant having a grand old time.
Hitting it off.
Making sparks.
Even... Leaning.
A vision comes to me of Clayton's bassist fingers playing themselves down
Donna's alabaster spine...
"I need a beer over here!" I suddenly shout.
Sam whips his head away from his conversation with Toby, "I thought you
weren't drinking tonight."
I said when we got here that I wasn't going to drink anything.
Sam has been suspiciously pushing me towards Guinness.
Surely he's up to no good.
"I changed my mind." I mumble.
Sam looks pleased.
Which worries me.
"Need a distraction?" Sam asks slyly.
The waitress comes over and I order a Heinekin just to throw Sam off.
"No, I don't need a distraction, I just happened to have changed my mind." I
say, rubbing my eyes as I attempt to erase the horrifying images in my head.
The waitress brings me a Heinekin and I take a few gulps.
Sam takes a sip of Corona, "Oh. Because I thought you were trying not to
imagine Adam and Donna out on that date."
"Who's Donna on a date with?" CJ breaks in.
"Adam Clayton." Sam answers.
"Ooooh, " CJ croons, "Boy, did she get lucky."
My heart flips a little, "She did NOT get lucky!" I explode.
Everyone but Sam, who is grinning widely, gazes at me with curious raised
eyebrows.
"No, I... I mean..." I stutter, "They..."
I swear to God I went to Harvard at one point in my life.
Toby saves the day.
Sort of.
"That's just great. This isn't the image we should be trying to project."
Toby grumbles.
"Thank you!" I reply.
Because, all in all, that's the only reason I'm upset. Reputation of the
White House and all.
"We do not need White House staff dating a rock band." Toby continues.
"It's just Adam. It's not the whole band." Sam points out.
"They're not dating!" I exclaim.
Just to set the record straight.
"They are on a date, that is NOT the same thing."
My tongue feels loose.
CJ looks very suspicous, "You seem a little pent up about this, Josh."
"I'm not pent up." I mutter with a sigh.
Charlie agrees with CJ, "You sound pent up."
I roll my eyes, "I am not at all pent, be it up, down or sideways." I motion
toward the stage where a toasted lawyer is singing The Shoop Shoop Song,
"Isn't anyone gonna sing already?"
Zoey looks questioningly at Charlie, "Think I should do my Sarah MacLachlan?"
Charlie grins, "I can't wait."
Zoey goes up to ask for the next song.
I take a slug of Heinekin and Sam tries to placate me, "You don't have
anything to worry about with Clayton anyway. Donna works in the White House,
how on earth could she maintain a relationship with a rock star going on tour
who lives in Dublin? They're probably just having fun."
I scowl, "Even worse." Suddenly my blood is boiling, "That's all he wants
her for. A one night stand!"
Slug.
"Bastard. If he thinks he's gonna... I'll kick his ass!"
"Arse." Toby corrects.
"No, Josh. You don't sound like a jealous boyfriend at all." CJ says
smiling widely.
"I'm not! I'm just a friend who knows Donnatella well enough to know that
she has terrible taste in men. I'm just looking out for her."
"Awww." Sam cooes.
I shake my head, my brain feels woozy, "All the morons she dates... They
never deserve her. They're never good enough for her."
Out of the corner of my eye I see Toby, Sam, and CJ exchange meaningful looks.
Thoughts keep coming up in my head, creeping up from the back burners and
before I can stop them from coming out of my mouth, there they are.
"Look, I KNOW what you're thinking!" I say to them accusingly.
"What are we thinking, Josh?" CJ asks.
I point at them and glower, "You're thinking I'm in love with Donna. I am
NOT in love with Donna!"
CJ laughs, "No one said you were in love with Donna. Do YOU think you're in
love with Donna?"
OF COURSE NOT!
I roll my eyes rather dramatically, "Of course not. I just happen to see
what those idiots don't."
"What's that?" Sam prods.
I sigh heavily.
They must be tipsier than I am if they can't see it.
"That she's amazing!" I blurt. I'm almost ticked off. It's as if the world
has cheated her and I feel irrationally upset that they don't realize what's
under their nose, "That she's beautiful and intelligent and funny and
charming and passionate and beautiful and completely insane in a very..." I
sigh again, I'm staring into my Heinekin, "In a very comforting way." I
shrug, "A guy'd have to be a moron NOT to want to spend the rest of his life
with her."
I look up to see Toby, CJ, Sam, Charlie, and Zoey all gawking at me.
"You said beautiful twice." Toby points out.
Geez, he's against me too.
"Can I get another Heinekin over here, please?" I shout to an invisible
waitress.
"Are you a moron then?" Sam asks.
I may have confused myself.
"Huh?"
Sam gives me a look, "You said a guy would be a moron not to want to spend
the rest of his life with Donna. You're a guy, aren't you? What do you
think?"
CJ and Toby stare me down.
I blink, "Well..." I gaze up at the cieling lights. Very decorative. "In a
certain... Matter of speaking... I'll be spending my life with her anyway.
She's my assistant." Yeah, that makes sense, "So she'll always be around to
not bring me coffee and remind me to change my suit after thirty-six hours
and come out with outlandish bits of trivia that are very oddly relevant to
the situation."
I'm staring off into space.
CJ points at me, "If you and Donna are going to be an item, you need to keep
it very quiet."
I slap a hand to my forehead, "Have you heard a word I've said?!"
CJ nods and laughs a little, "Yes, I have. That's why-"
Her cell phone rings, cutting her off.
Zoey gets up, now there are two of her.
"I'm gonna sing. Cheer me on, yeah?"
CJ and Sam nod and smile.
"Go girl." I mumble incoherently.
Sam is smirking.
I hate it when Sam smirks.
Do I look like that when I smirk?
Nah.
When I do it I'm cute.... Right?
"Do you know how you sound when you talk about her?"
I'm frowning.
I'm trying to think about all of this objectively and it's becoming
increasingly difficult.
"What would you do if Donna actually got serious with a guy?" Sam asks,
"Punch his lights out?"
Probably.
No, not probably.
I have a platonic, professional relationship with my assistant.
"I have a platony, profeshull relaship with my Donna."
Toby glares at Sam, "Why'd we let him have a second?"
I take a drink from Charlie's water glass and breath deeply.
"My assistant." I correct.
Toby sighs, "This is going to be an issue isn't?"
Zoey is singing to Charlie.
"Yooour love is better than ice cream, better than anything else that I've
tried..."
Ah, young love.
I wonder what that's like...
"Josh, if you like her. Just tell her." Sam is saying.
Toby looks a bit distraught, "Don't tell her, Josh. Or at least wait
Bartlet's out of office."
"I don't like her!" I insist and then my eyebrows furrow, "I mean, I do. I
just, not like... Okay, I'm officially twelve years old again."
Sam is annoyed, "Why does everything around the west wing have to be an
episode of Friends?"
"I would have compared us to ER." CJ says, hanging up her phone.
Sam frowns, "Too depressing."
I lean my head on my hand, "I haven't watched that show since the one doctor
guy accidently killed off that woman having the baby. So sad."
"Ally McBeal?" CJ suggests.
Toby looks sickened, "Dear God, no. We're not that far gone."
"Who was on the phone?" Sam asks CJ.
CJ looks a little giddy, "Actually, it was Donna. She's coming over here."
I perk up, "Then her date's over."
Damn tongue.
"No, she's bringing Adam with her."
"Oh." I squeak, "Well... Fine."
Toby crosses his arms on the table, "I don't think office fraternization is a
good idea at this point in the term, do you?" He directs the question at CJ.
CJ frowns, "I don't see a huge problem with it. As long as they keep it real
quiet. It certainly doesn't present the same conflict of interest that...
You know. Not everyone's love life has to be as pitiful as mine. Besides,
if the two of them got married, where's the scandal in that?"
My eyes bug out like Wyle E. Coyote, "MARRIED?!"
Sam makes a face, "Nice one, CJ. You said the M-word in front of Josh."
"We haven't even kissed yet and you have us married?!"
"AHA!" Sam shouts, "'Haven't kissed yet'. Implying you will at some point
in the future!"
I clasp the nearly empty second bottle of Heinekin in my hands, "That is NOT
what I meant."
CJ claps her hand on my shoulder, "Deputy Dog, you need to cut the crap.
'Cause you're not fooling anybody."
Rubbish.
I'm fooling plenty of people.
No, wait-
"Hey guys!"
Donna's voice.
I look up to see two pairs of Donnas and Adams. I close my eyes and shake my
head around.
I open my eyes and see one Donna. One beaming Donna soaked in white satin
and lace and antique pearls...
I close my eyes and rattle my head again.
Good God, I'm losing it.
Everyone greets eachother. Donna and Adam sit on the other side of Toby
facing me, and Zoey comes back from her song and Charlie, Sam and I get up so
she can sit next to CJ.
"Keroake, this is great!" Donna says excitedly. "There's one song I've
always wanted to sing in a keroake bar..."
"Go for it." CJ prods.
Donna raises an eyebrow, "I want to, but I think I'm gonna need back up
singers...?"
"I'm in!" Zoey yips.
CJ grins, "Oh hell, why not?"
Adam Clayton, who is wearing silver pants and some kind of very shiny red
shirt, watches from the booth, grinning widely.
I can't help but scowl.
"So... You guys have a good time?"
I'm more interrogating then asking, I must admit.
Adam nods, "Yes yes. Smashing, as they say."
"Ya think you're gonna see her again?"
My tone may be less than civil at this point.
Adam is smirking. Or at least one of the three Adams in front of me is
smirking.
"Would that bother you?" He asks.
"That depends." I answer.
"On what?" Adam orders a what else? Guinness.
"On your tentions..." I slur.
"What was that?"
"On your INTENTIONS." I say clearly.
"I see. And are you her legal guardian or some such...?"
Oh fine. Stickin' the ole Irish sarcasm on me.
I glare at him, "No, but I'm her friend. And if I thought anyone was going
to hurt her..."
Adam laughs, "I have no intention of hurting your assistant. But what if I
told you I was in love with her and my intentions were to sweep her off her
feet and take her away on tour and then back home to the Emerald Isle. Would
you still be angry?"
I may puke at any moment.
All the blood appears to have left my face and my stomach is sinking.
Geez! He just met her!
"Are... Are those your... You really...?"
Adam laughs again, "Of course not. I just met her. I will say, I think
she's madly in love but not yet aware of it."
I certainly don't feel any better. In fact, I feel much worse.
"Wha...?" I say sickly.
He is smiling enigmatically, "Not with me, ya see. But there's this other
fellow she just can't stop talking about."
Oh God, someone else to despise.
Donna is now onstage talking into the microphone very dramatically as Sam,
Charlie, and even Toby whoop it up as well as much of the crowd, "This song
is dedicated, " She says breathlessly, "To any woman who's ever worn a red
dress, that certain perfume, or given him that perfect look... Just to drive
him crazy..."
WHO THE HELL IS SHE TRYING TO DRIVE CRAZY??
My head hurts.
Did I mention that Donna is wearing a black cashmere sweater, kinda lowcut,
with a pair of very nice fittting jeans?
She's beautiful.
For the third time.
She's bewitching.
And I can't look away, even to ask Adam Clayton who she was talking about all
night.
"It's her boss!" He yells in my ear over the noise.
I glance blankly at him then back at Donna.
He didn't just say what I thought he did... Did he?
"What'd you say?"
Adam shouts above the noise, "You! I suspect she's in love with you! Can't
stop talking about 'her boss, Josh'. I have an assistant too. She certainly
doesn't talk incessantly about me on dates. And may I say, having been on
the recieving end it's very discouraging. If I did live here in D.C. it
wouldn't make any difference, I wouldn't have a chance with her anyway. Her
heart's taken."
I can't think.
There's a ruckus at the door, I turn my spinning head to look and see Bono,
Edge and Larry stride in.
This is turning into a most intriguing night on the town.
They sit at the table with us which takes a bit after several people come up
to Bono and he takes at least a few seconds to talk to them all.
The booth is big enough to accomodate the three of them who all slide in next
to me across from Sam and Charlie.
Welcomes all around and Bono announces, "We wanted to make sure Adam here
wasn't getting you all into trouble."
I don't ask how they knew we were here but I suspect they have their own
version of the FBI.
Larry nods at Adam, "How was your date?"
Adam shrugs, "It was nice enough but she's in love with her boss."
Larry looks at me a little confused, "Aren't you her boss?"
"Yes!" Sam says, "And he's in love with her too!"
I throw my hands in the air, "No, I'm not! This is ridiculous!"
Then Donna starts to sing.
"The goddess of the mountain top..."
Oh no.
"Burnin' like a silver flame..."
She's trying to kill me.
"The summit of beauty and love... and Venus was her name!"
Sam leans over, "We're now entering Ally McBeal territory."
Adam is watching me watch Donna who is singing to everyone as CJ and Zoey
dance behind her and back her up on the chorus.
"She's got it! Yeah baby, she's got it!"
No.
She's singing it right to me.
She must be.
"Well, I'm your Venus! I'm your fire at your desire!"
Sam proceeds to tell Bono, Edge, Larry and Adam all about me, Donna, the
Georgetown professor, the misunderstanding, and my reaction to her date with
Adam.
I interrupt repeatedly to attempt to set the record the straight.
And then I get frustrated, "Don't you people have anything better to-"
Donna just flipped her hair around and she's kind shimmying her shoulders.
God, she's sexy.
I think everyone else is watching me watch Donna but at this particular
second in time I don't care. At this particular second in time I can barely
breathe.
Bono is grinning at his cohorts, "I think I just found myself a new cause!"
******************************************************************
I am a goddess.
The world falls at me feet.
Sort of.
As do all men.
I've also had two, count them two, gin and tonics. You could almost say that
was four. Two gins and two tonics.
That's probably why I don't feel at all nervous singing in front of Bonovox
himself.
I'm singing my lungs out and singing straight to Josh.
Adam.
Oh hell, After this summit thing's over I'll never see Adam again and there's
no real chemistry between us anyway.
Josh then. Only because everyone else appears to be half listening and half
deep in conversation.
I must say the crowd loves me.
But Josh is staring.
"Her weapons were her crystal eyes! Makin' every man a man!"
He looks a little... Nauseous.
Maybe he's entranced by my mystique and feminine wiles.
I think there was more gin than tonic in those gin and tonics.
"Black as the dark night she was! Got what no one else had!"
My skin feels hot. This has been a pleasant but not exciting date other than
the obvious excitement of being out on a date with the bassist for U2. But
rocking out with this kick ass type seductive song with the White House press
secretary as one of my back up singers along with the President's daughter...
And hanging out with U2. This one will go down in the archive of great
stories.
We're all leaving for Boston tomorrow to do important politician and/or rock
star type jobs yet here we are at keroake bar at one in the morning.
I finish the song and the place breaks out in wild applause. Zoey, CJ and I
bow and blow kisses at the audience and make our way back to the table. I
sit between Josh and Adam.
"That was great, Donna!" Adam says enthusiastically.
Josh just looks at me with the weirdest expression on his face.
I shrug, "Well, it's not widely known but I used to be a member of Destiny's
Child... Back then we were called Destiny's Assistant."
The table laughs.
Score one for Donnatella.
Bono winks at Sam.
Why is Bono winking at Sam?
He then clears his throat, "I was just telling everyone about a friend of
mine who's madly in love."
Ah, romance.
I wonder what that's like.
He goes on, "He's madly in love with her, insanely jealous whenever she shows
interest in other men. Talks about her like she's the greatest woman in the
world. We think he should tell her how he feels. But he won't even admit
he's in love."
"That's so romantic." I sigh. "I hope they get together. How does she
feel?"
I glance at Josh who has his head down on the table.
Adam chimes in, "Oh, we think she's in love as well. She can't stop talking
about him, spends all her time with him. They're practically a couple
already, they just won't come out with it."
Sometimes I'm exteremely stupid.
"Well, that's silly!" I blurt.
Sam appears to be well informed on this also, "It's a delicate situation
because they work together."
I nod, "Ooooh." I decide to take a stand on behalf of this phantom couple,
"Still, if I were as in love with someone as this woman is, I wouldn't let my
job get in the way. Not everything has to be a scandal. People understand
love. Charlie and Zoey here are a couple and the only people who find that
scandalous are white supremacist Nazis. And they obviously don't have hearts
in the first place."
"Interesting you should say that..." Bono says mysteriously.
Josh raises his head, "I wanna sing a song!"
Now Bono is smiling a smile that suspiciously reminds me of the Zooropa days
when he wore a gold tuxedo jacket and devil horns.
I watch a lot of VH1.
"I'll sing it with you if you let me pick it out."
Josh is suddenly sixteen years old just taking a gander at his very first car.
"Really? Sure!" Josh all but squeals.
They go up to the keroake operators who quickly let Bono to the front of the
line.
I lean my chin on my hand, "So do you think those two will get together?"
"If we have anything to say about it, they will." Sam says.
Huh?
"Wait, how do you know Bono's friend?"
Sam back pedals, "Oh. Yes. That is, if THEY have anything to say about it.
That's what I meant."
Whatever.
Edge, Larry and Adam chuckle.
I look up at the stage to see Bono looking like he's trying to sell Josh on
something. Josh appears to be arguing and then gives in. They grab
microphones but first the keroake operator is heard over the speakers.
"Ladies and gentlemen, for your entertainment and enjoyment, Kippy's Keroake
is proud to present White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Joshua Lyman... and
U2's BONO!"
The first strains of "All I Want Is You" are heard.
Interesting choice.
Josh moans into the microphone, "You say... You want...Diamonds on a ring of
gold... You say... You want... Your story to remain untold... But all the
promises we make... From the cradle to the grave...When all I want... Is
You..."
He's really not half bad but I'd bet money that he's been impersonating Bono
in the shower for the last fifteen years or so. Meanwhile Bono is standing
next to him kind of singing a cool echoey back up.
Bono is singing back up to Josh Lyman.
This week just gets weirder and weirder.
At the next verse Josh looks over at me.
He looks very intense in an inebriated kind of way.
He's probably concentrating on the song which he's singing very well and the
crowd is roaring in response.
I smile at him.
He doesn't smile back but his voice grows in intensity. Pretty soon he's
grasping the microphone banging out the ballad. He must be drunk. Why else
would he be taking a silly little keroake song so seriously?
"You say... You want... Your love to work out right... To last with me
through the night..."
Our eyes are locked. You know that thing when adrenaline or some other
bodily fluid comes rushing and you have some freaky reaction to it, like your
hands getting cold or your ankles getting sore?
My hands are freezing.
Alternatively, my ears feel much too hot.
Damn alabaster skin.
Something's happening here.
I'm not sure what.
I could almost imagine he's singing this song to me.
But that would be ridiculous.
Josh is wailing the finale of the song, "ALL I WANT IS YOUUUUU... YOUUUUU...."
Josh is singing to me.
No, he's not. I'm completely over reacting. This is just a song.
It's not like I haven't thought of Josh in this way before. I'm healthy hot
blooded woman and Josh is an attractive, intelligent, funny, passionate...
Josh is singing to me.
No no, like I was saying, I've thought of him that way but he's my boss and
my friend and there's nothing between us other than a sort of offbeat
professional relationship and friendship that only deepened when I took care
of him after the shooting. Of course I care for Josh but...
"YOUUUUU... ALL I WANT IS... YOUUUUU...."
We're the only people in the room.
Josh is singing me a love song.
No.
Yes.
No.
My ankles are killing me.
**********************************************************
Donnatella is a great name. It's beautiful and unusual.
The Moss part has always thrown me. It's her name and it's fine, but to me
Donna is in no way reminiscent of moss.
U2 and all it's security went looking for a party and the rest of the senior
staff plus Charlie and Zoey made their ways home. At some point Donna and I
were thrown into the same cab alone together.
I watched Adam say goodnight to Donna. I saw no kiss.
This resulted in an extensive amount of delight.
After I sang "All I Want Is You" Bono invited Sam up for a duet and they sang
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" of all possible songs. It was a bit
surreal.
I proceeded to sit across from Donna and avoid conversation with her.
I felt awkward.
I told myself it was just a song, just a dingbat keraoke stunt.
Now I'm sitting next to Donna in a cab and feeling woozy. She's gazing out
the window at the city. It's raining.
Donna takes a deep breath and looks over at me, "Did you pack a good concert
suit?"
Eh?
"A concert suit?"
"Yeah, something that exudes authority and hepness but nothing pretentious.
You're going to be doing a fair amount of hobbing and knobbing, you know.
The charcoal grey would be good with the silver and black striped tie."
I wince, "Stuffed in my hamper."
"No, I had it cleaned. It's on your dining room table."
Sometimes I swear she's like Jeanie on I Dream of Jeanie.
But with a brain.
And much better fashion sense.
"There's a banquet thingie the next night, isn't there?"
"Yes." She mumbles.
"Do I need a tux?"
"Possibly."
"Is that clean?"
"No, that actually is stuffed in your hamper."
I could be wrong.
Silence.
"Why were you so upset about...?" Her question trails off.
I turn my head to look at her, "What?"
"Nevermind."
I know what she's asking, "Bradley or Adam?"
"Okay. Both for that matter."
I chew on my lip. I'm in no condition to answer this in a way that
obfuscates what I'm truly thinking.
Damn alcohol.
"Sometimes I think..." I start unintelligently, "Sometimes I think you settle
much too often. You don't realize your own value."
I think she's rolling her eyes, "Josh..."
"I mean it, Donna. You... You need someone as smart and funny as you are who
appreciates your quirkiness and... All the rest of it."
I don't think she's really listening to me.
"They're not exactly pounding down the doors, Josh."
"They should be."
Oy vay, I did not mean to say that.
She's quiet for a moment.
"It's not just that, " She says, "You've been all out of sorts lately."
"I'll have you know I have a very healthy supply of sorts."
"Very funny. I'm being serious. Sam spooked you and you really started
acting odd but you've been...I don't know. Ever since..."
Ever since the shooting, I want to say. Ever since you took care of me and
listened to me and stayed up watching Bogart movies with me or Nova on PBS
for that matter, just because I wanted the company. Or more specifically,
your company. Of course, I'm jealous. It doesn't seem logical to me but I
can't stand the thought of sharing you with any man. What if he took you
away from me?
But I don't say that.
No no, that would be much to straightforward.
Instead I try this.
"Donnatella... Do you ever think about the best possible version of your
life? I look around and I see that I have the job I've basically always
wanted. I'm working for someone I believe in, doing important significant
work. I work with my best friends. I just... What if there's more?"
Donna tilts her head, "More?"
The car stops. We're at Donna's apartment.
She nods at the window, "We're here."
"Lemme walk you to your door."
She looks taken aback, "Oh. Okay."
We get out of the cab and she starts up the step but I'm frozen on the
sidewalk.
She stops and turns around.
"Josh?"
It's raining. It's freezing out here. I'm getting wet. Donna's standing in
front of me, her cheeks are pink. Her lips are all rosy. She's got
raindrops on her eye lashes.
I'm standing on the sidewalk grinning like an idiot.
"You didn't answer my question." I say.
"Can we continue this conversation inside? We're kind of getting wet here.
I don't even have my gloves."
"Well, give me your hands." I take her hands in mind and rub them together.
"Now answer my question, do you ever think of the best possible version of
your life?"
She shrugs slightly, "I'm happy with my life. I love my job. And let's hope
you don't remember I said THAT in the morning. I'm in school and I'm
learning. It's great. I have good friends..."
"That's no answer." I insist.
Let's just be clear on this. I may sound like some wise man right here but I
actually am just hoping to hell that she answers the way I want her to. At
the same time I have no idea what I'm doing.
"The best possible version?" She repeats. Her breath comes out steamy.
"Yeah, I guess so. I have fantasies like anyone else. About life, about the
future..."
We're standing close.
"What are they about? These fantasies?"
She smiles a little, "Getting personal, aren't we?"
"We've gotten personal before."
"Nothing outlandish." She says quietly, "I want a family someday..."
I'm searching her eyes. Not sure for what.
Now she's annoyed, "What do you want, Josh?"
"I don't know."
"You're making me stand here in the pouring rain trying to get me admit
something or be eloquent or... I don't even know. But this is not in the
job requirements! You ask me if we have a thing, you think I'm getting
married... Last week you called me at four in the morning on a SATURDAY to
tell me Stephen Hawking is going to invent light speed travel! Now it's
three AM and you're drunk and you're asking me the meaning of life! I don't
know what you-"
Then I kiss her.
I couldn't help it. She's justifiably ranting, and the more upset she gets
the pinker her cheeks get and the redder her lips get and dear Lord, I hope
she doesn't sue me.
At the moment I don't care because my lips are on hers and I can't feel the
rain at all and my hands are in her hair and she whimpers slightly and I just
want to hold her tighter and tighter and her arms are around my neck.
Damn respiratory system. What's so great about air? It just shortens the
greatest feeling I've felt in...
Maybe ever.
It can't help that one of my lungs once had a bullet in it. I'm still trying
to memorize the detail and warmness and the electricity of Donnatella Moss's
lips and the way the rain makes her lips slide across mine particularly since
I'm terrefied I will never get the chance to kiss her again.
But unfortunatly I have to breathe.
So I pull away and at that moment I realize I am the deputy cheif of staff
and I have just layed a passionate kiss on my assistant and I don't know what
I want and I've had two Heinekins and Donna looks like she's completly flat
broke out of sorts.
And then I get really terrified, jump in the cab and speed away.
How did I graduate from an Ivy League university, one of the best schools in
the world, with a brain like this?
And why the hell do my ankles hurt?
******************************TBC*****************************

 

Part 5

 

 

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