By Gabrielle Aurelius
Warning: language and slight adult theme (very very slight, if even
noticeable at all)
Please give feedback *grin*

Chapter 1

Today, my alarm failed to wake me up punctually- maybe due to the fact that
when it started ringing, I threw it through the nearest open door.
        Today, the wind was frigid enough to turn my face white- that sickly
pale color that makes the small patches of red on my cheeks, the only
indication that I really do have some circulation, look like rouge.
Today, the sky was grey- with a definite threat of rain- and the minute I
stepped outside the door snow started falling.  Right down my coat.
And, finally, today there was no cup of coffee waiting for me on my desk.
To all appearances, it was an ordinary day.  Aside from the fact, of
course, that it was Christmas Eve.
At 7:30 a.m. I dragged into my office, shut the door, and sank into my
chair, wishing the President would pass a law - Lyman's Law of Longevity for
Insomniacs (catchy, isn't it, with all that alliteration)- stating that
every day will have 36 hours in it instead of its traditional and, might I
add utterly stupid, twenty-four.
Ah yes, Lyman's Law of Longevity for Insomniacs.
Because that's what I am: an insomniac.
I mean, what else could it be?
When I finally crawl into bed at one in the morning- that is, if I'm lucky-
and overcome my compulsion to crawl back out again and head back to the
office, I'm already thinking about her.
Over the obsessive chanting in my brain to return to the White House runs
the airy melody of Her.  It's so crazy- no matter what I do, I can't get to
sleep.  I keep thinking about her; the way she smiles in that off-beat kind
of way, her quirky voice that not only keeps me in line but, throughout the
course of the day, steadily drives me nuts, and even the way she puts me
back into my place with her sharp wit.  The woman is a goddess.
        An infuriating, mind numbingly beautiful, absolutely maddening
Goddess.  Spell it everyone: G-O-D-D-E-S-S.  Damn, the woman is fine.
        And, I blame my insomnia all on her.
        By the time I finally drift off into a light sleep, my alarm clamors
to life, sending me leaping out of bed, screaming.  I have never done well
with loud noises.  Especially not after the shooting.  But I'm just not
going to go there.  That's a whole different "jar of worms," as the
President would say, all in itself.  Also, you would think I'd invest in
another alarm, a subtler, more gentle one perhaps; but, I figure, despite my
best intentions to daily murder it, it gets the job done.  Eventually.
        Anyway, after my morning rise-and-shriek, I stumble into the office
a veritable ray of sunshine.  Trust me, it's not safe to enter the perimeter
of my office until about after noon, when I've regained some of my
(admittedly pitiful) good humor.  Unless, of course, you're Donnatella Moss.
        Which is why, after bellowing Donna's name about ten times this
morning, I storm through the bull- pen looking for my AWOL assistant, and
the source of my insomnia.
        Believe me when I say that not her beauty, but the way she's
sobbing, stops me in my tracks.
        Donna is leaning against the wall, her arms hugging her body, and
crying like someone just died.  I shiver, flashbacks of seeing her, face
flushed and creased with sadness, standing above my hospital bed.  I quickly
shove the memories aside.
        "Donna?" I ask gently.
        She doesn't even look up; she just stands there with her eyes closed
and tears streaming down her cheeks.
        It breaks my heart to see her like this.
        Silently, I put my arms protectively around her shoulders and steer
her away from the bull- pen.  I glare ferociously at anyone who comes within
a foot of us, warning them pointedly that what is going on is none of their
business and that if they interfere there will be hell to pay.
        No one bothers us the entire way to the car.
        When I finally get Donna situated into the passenger's side, I turn
on the engine and head away from the White House.  I honestly don't know
where I'm taking her.  But the main thing is that she's away from there-
where people might stare at her and ask her intrusive questions.  She's so
vulnerable that I really believe that if someone were to ask her what
happened she'd break.
        We drive in silence for a total of ten minutes.  No radio, no
outside noises; just the two of us, alone, sharing the silence.  I glance at
her every once in awhile, as I make a right turn, pretending it's natural
that I look to the side while turning a corner.  She doesn't give any
indication of caring, so I keep doing it.  We've turned twelve corners so
        Finally, she speaks.  Her voice is soft and delicate, and filled
with hurt.  "Kavin dumped me," she whispers.
        I nearly slam the brakes.  Donna is here with me now, crying,
because some bastard, some two-timing asshole who deserves to have all women
shun him for the rest of his miserable life, didn't think she was good
enough for him and so dumped her on Christmas Eve.  Didn't think that
Donnatella, the only woman in my life who has ever shown me anything more
than contempt or fleeting affection, was good enough for him.  My
Donnatella.  My goddess.
        I stare blackly ahead at the road.  For Donna's sake, I will attempt
to control my strong emotions of hate and homicide, and manage to say in a
somewhat steady voice, "Why?"
        "I don't know," she says again in the same soft, broken voice.
        I fight the urge to draw her into my arms and hug her.  I want to
comfort her and tell her that she's better without that bastard in her life.
  But I do neither.  I'm so afraid of hurting her and intruding on her
personal space.
        Somehow, in the office we're very comfortable; I can put my hand on
her back without there being even the hint of sexual undertones or
discomfort.  But here, outside and in the real world, it's different.  I
feel like there's a wall now between us- almost as if I haven't known this
woman for years.  It's frustrating.  To burn out some of my fury, I begin to
drive a little faster.
        "Thanks for getting me out of there," Donna says after awhile.  This
time, she looks at me.
        I turn to her and try to smile.  "It's okay."  I face the road
again.  I can't bear to see her red eyes and tear-streaked face.  I really
want to kill the bastard that did this to her.  But first, I'm going to be
here for Donna, even if all she needs me to be right now is a driver.
        "We had a fight," Donna begins quietly, looking out her window.  "I
asked him if he was cheating on me."  She wiped at a tear rolling down her
cheek.  "I- I don't even know why I came to work.  It's Christmas Eve,
damnit, why'd he have to do this to me?"  She ran her fingers through her
hair and sniffled.  "He got mad and started yelling at me and saying. .
        If possible, I am now even more furious.  I can't help it.  I have
to ask.  "What did he say?"
        Donna trembled and wrapped her arms around herself.  "He called me
an ungrateful bitch.  He said I wasn't worth anything and that he'd only
stayed with me for the sex.  He said that when he'd told me he loved me,
he'd never meant it."
        I am going to take a long lunch break today; Kavin is going to get a
little unexpected and very unpleasant visit.  I unconsciously steer us in
the direction of Donna's apartment.  I'm tired of circling around the White
House.  It's time I got Donna to a place that would make her feel more
        "I keep thinking about him.  I can't get him out of my mind.  He
really meant those horrible things he said this morning.  I can't believe I
was so stupid to believe he actually loved me!"  Donna pounded her fists
against the door.  "This one time, when I'd gone to visit him at work during
my lunch break, he'd made such a big thing out of it.  He kissed me in front
of everyone, even his boss; and he told me he loved me, even though everyone
was watching us.  I guess that's why he did it.  He even got his boss to
give me free coffee in one of those mugs that usually cost a lot just
because they have "Starbucks" written on them."  She wiped her eyes on her
sleeves.  "How could I have been so stupid?"
        I abruptly stop in the middle of the road.  So what if the cops give
me a ticket?  Screw it.  I don't care.  Donna's more important to me than
the court martial I'll probably wind up with when I yell at the officer for
interrupting our conversation.  I take a deep breath and try to think about
how to say what I want to say in the most gentle manner possible.  I
suddenly realize that this is the first time I've actually thought something
out before just blurting it out.  I am beginning to realize how much I love
this woman.
        I clear my throat.  "Donnatella, look at me."  I wait until she is
facing me, her sad eyes staring hesitantly into mine.  "Kavin doesn't
understand what love is.  He had a beautiful woman giving him the thing that
is most sacred to her.  The gift that a woman only really gives to the one
she loves."  I'm racking my brains to say the right thing.  I want to tell
her what I think, but for the first time in my life, it's so hard to form
the words in my mind.  I can't seem to get over how much I want to hug her
and how much I want to murder Kavin.  "Donna, look," I finally say.
"Whether or not you believe me, that jerk didn't deserve you.  He doesn't
deserve to breathe the same *air* as you, let alone be worthy of your love.
Believe me, I've known a lot of guys like that, who stay with a woman for
sex.  But you know what?  They're all shallow, unhappy people who wind up
alone.  That seems, to me, the ultimate revenge."  But, I add silently, it's
just not gonna cut it this time; I want retribution for Donna and I'm going
to get it.  Even if it takes me the rest of this week; and you know, it
doesn't really matter because I don't sleep anyway.  I have all the time in
the world to track this asshole Kavin down.  I already know from Donna that
he works around noon at Starbucks, because that's when Donna's lunch break
usually is; and I know he has to be nearby, because she couldn't drive very
far and expect to get back on time.  All I have to do is call every
Starbucks within a two mile radius and ask for Kavin.  And if all else
fails, I'll sic the FBI or the CIA on the guy.  There are advantages, after
all, to being the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President of the United
Donna's looking at me with her perceptive, moist eyes.  "Josh, don't," she
        "Don't what?"
        "Don't do what you're thinking about doing.  I don't want you to go
and cause trouble for Kavin.  It's okay, I can handle this.  The thing with
Kavin is over.  Please, just let it go."
        I am speechless.  Again.  I swear, the woman is telepathic.  I feel
a frown darkening my face.  I don't know if I can promise Donna that I won't
at least yell at the man.  If I can't kick his ass, the least I can do to
feel that she's properly avenged is scream obscenities and scare the hell
out of him.  Or at least get him fired.
        "Josh," she says again, warningly.
        "What?"  I desperately pray that she doesn't make me promise to
leave the bastard alone.
        "Don't.  Okay?  Promise me you won't."
        Damnit.  I sigh.  I'm trapped.  "I promise I won't beat up Kavin," I
grate out.
        "Or scream at him and get him fired."
I want a psychic to check her level of telepathy.  How does she know what
I'm thinking?  Or maybe Sam was right- I just have a bad poker face.
"Josh?" she sniffles, staring at me commandingly, and yet with such a
vulnerable expression that I can't help but cave in to her wishes.
"I promise I won't scream at him and get him fired."
She turns away from me.  "Thank you."
I nod tersely and grip the steering wheel until I feel the blood cease to
flow in my fingers.  I start up the engine again and continue our drive to
her apartment.
When we get there, I pull up in front of the drab building and jump out of
the car.  Let the cops tow it away.  I could give a damn.
I open the car door for Donna.  She puts a hand on my cheek and shakes her
head.  "Please, Josh.  I need to be alone now.  But for what it's worth,
thank you."
And then she kisses me.
She is all the way into the building and probably inside her apartment
before I can function again.  I am still standing where she left me, snow
gathered under my feet like super glue, leaning idiotically against the car
just in case my knees buckle.  Donna Moss kissed me.
Oh my god.
I yank at my coat.  Suddenly, despite the biting air and freezing wind, I
am sweating.
Who cares if it was just a quick, seemingly chaste kiss?  Who cares if it
was only a light brush of her lips against mine?
Donnatella Moss kissed me.  *Me*, Joshua Lyman.
My anger towards Kavin is melting away suddenly; Donna was right.  It
doesn't matter, he doesn't matter.
I am going to remember that kiss for the rest of my life.


For The One You Love - 2




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