Title: In A Cold Season
Summary: Donna catches Josh's cold while on a fundraising trip to New York.
Author: Jennifer (email@example.com)
Disclaimer: I don't own them. I just like to have fun with them. Please don't sue me. I have no money.
Random Thoughts: I hope you don't mind, but I have several stories that I started before the season finale and therefore they don't mention Josh getting shot. But I'd like to post them just the same. I hope you enjoy. Feedback is greatly appreciated.
**Note** My computer is really acting up tonight, so I apologize for the weird extra spaces and hard returns! Stupid technology! :)
In A Cold Season (3/3)
When I roll over the next morning, Josh is sitting up in the next bed watching TV. I feel remarkably better. My nose is still stuffed, but my throat doesn't hurt anymore.
"Hi. How do you feel?" he asks, when he notices I'm awake.
"A little better," I say.
"Guess what?" he asks with that mischevious smile that always signals that either he's done something stupid that I'm going to have to clean up or he's done something that he thinks is really cool, but really isn't.
"What?" I ask yawning.
"We don't have to go back today with everyone else. You and I, Donnatella, have been given today and tomorrow off. We're not due back in the office until Tuesday."
"Why do you sound so suspicious?" he asks, smirking at me.
"Well, nobody ever gets a day off, so I'm assuming you did something stupid at the party last night and the President is so angry with you that he can't bear to see your face on his airplane today."
"I'm insulted," he scoffs, getting up and bringing me a juice from the mini-bar.
"Thank you," I say, sipping the juice. "Why are we off, really?"
He looks sheepish again. "I think you could say we've been quarantined."
I close my eyes and snort. "You were sick and infected me and now people don't want to be near us?"
"Yeah. I guess Toby's nervous that too many staffers might be out during the next few weeks when we've got our new domestic agenda to push through. He tried to convince Leo that I should be burned at the stake, along with everything I've touched, but Leo's suggested we just stay behind a day and rest."
"So, if they're burning you at the stake, what did Toby suggest they do with me?"
"You're obviously more valuable to them than I am because Toby only suggested that you be sealed in a plastic bubble until you felt better."
I laugh. "He probably wouldn't have even cut air-holes in it."
"Probably not," Josh laughs with me. "So we have two days in New York. What do you want to do, Donnatella?"
I debate what to say. It's obvious that Josh doesn't want to sit around watching me sleep and I do feel a little better. Maybe whatever Josh has planned won't be too taxing. I don't usually like to give him options, because he tends to take the reins and run with it, but I'm too tired to come up with something on my own. "I'm assuming sleeping and watching TV is out of the question…"
He shoots me a pleading look.
"So, what do you want to do?" I ask, smiling at him from my bundle of sheets.
"Ever been to the Guggenheim?"
"Me neither. Want to go?"
I love museums, the stillness, the hushed conversations between people, the beautiful artwork, the sleek floors, but I know Josh hates them. And he hates them for exactly the reasons I love them. I study his face. Does he really want to spend the day at the Guggenheim? And if he does, is it just because he knows it's something I'd like to do?
"You do realize that the Guggenheim is a museum, right? An art museum, I might add."
"Really?" he asks, looking perplexed. "I thought it was a stock car race track."
I look at him. "You're not funny. Do you really want to go?"
"Of course," he says, leaving it at that.
I study him again. He seems eager. Is it just eagerness to get out of the hotel or is it something else?
"I'm not ready."
"Okay," he says, seemingly content to watch Sunday morning TV.
"I'm going to take shower, okay?" I say, sliding out of bed slowly. I get a slight head rush when I stand, but Josh holds out his hand to steady me.
"Maybe we should just stay in," he says, peering up at my face worriedly.
"No. You said we'd go to an art museum and I'm holding you to it," I say wandering over to my suitcase. I find some jeans and a sweater buried under the cocktail dress that I was supposed to wear last night.
I stand under the hot water for a long time, breathing in the steam and washing the sticky, sick feeling off my skin. When I think I've sufficiently steamed the bathroom, I throw on my clothes and start towel-drying my hair. My comb is not in with my other shower things and I remember that it's on the bedside table where Josh left it yesterday when he got the snarls out of my hair.
When I get out of the bathroom, Josh is standing there with not only the First Lady, who did say she'd check on me again, but the President is there too.
"Could you have taken a longer time in the shower?" asks Josh, shooting me a look that lets me know that he's been standing there getting his ear talked off by the President about the dangers of the common cold.
"Sorry," I mumble. I'm embarrassed to be standing in front of them all looking disheveled with wet hair.
"I'm glad you're feeling better," says the President, as the First Lady steers me to the other bed. "But I think Josh getting everyone sick is the perfect opportunity to talk about how easily things like this can be passed when you work in…"
"Jed. The girl is barely recovered. Let's not give her a relapse with your pontificating on the finer points of the common cold," says the First Lady, smiling at me as she checks my throat.
"Well, maybe Donna's not recovered enough, but I think Josh is," the President says, smirking up at Josh, who looks decidedly pale. "But I'll save the rest of that lecture for when he gets back."
He winks at me, and Josh blanches again.
"I think you're fine," says the First Lady to me. "Just take it easy the next few days. In fact, it wouldn't be out of the question for your boss to give you a day off when you get back," she says turning towards Josh.
"Of course," stammers Josh.
"Thank you for coming to check on me," I say to the First Lady. "You're welcome. If you don't feel really better tomorrow or the next day, go see your doctor when you get home."
"Okay," I say, feeling like this is the part of the doctor's visit when you get a lollipop.
"We have a plane to catch Abbey," says the President standing up. He hands me a bag. "This is a get-well gift from the First Lady and I." I open the bag. It's a magnet of the Statue of Liberty, but it's 3-D and really nice, in a cheesy kind of way. I look up at him.
"Well, Josh already bought you everything else. This was all that was left."
I smile, feeling a flush rush up my face and when I look at Josh, he's studying the carpet again.
"Thank you, sir."
"You're welcome. See you both Tuesday," he says starting to head out.
The First Lady says goodbye too and Josh walks them out. I reach for the comb and start combing my hair, because if it starts to dry before I've worked out the snarls, I'll never get them free.
Josh comes back and doesn't say anything. We settle into an uncomfortable silence. I don't want to be the first one to say anything and I know Josh won't.
"Why don't we have some breakfast sent up and then we can go?"
Well, there's a first time for everything, I think, as I stare at Josh.
"Okay," I say.
He heads into his room and I hear him calling room service. I sit on my bed feeling excited and nervous all at the same time. Two days with just Josh appeals to me in a way I'm not sure I understand. But it also makes me extremely nervous and I don't understand that either. It's like, all of a sudden, without the office environment or any official business, we don't know how to act around each other.
By the time Josh gets back into my room after showering, the room service has already been delivered. There is enough food to feed four or five people. All I wanted was toast and I pick at that.
Josh seats himself in front of a huge omelet and I can barely watch him as he also eats cholesterol-inducing sausage and bacon. He smiles up at me.
"Donna, you've got to eat something more than just toast."
"I'm not hungry, Josh."
"Yeah, but you will be and I'm not going to buy you a seven dollar sandwich in the museum cafeteria."
"Like seven bucks would kill you," I say, picking at the fruit he pushes in front of me.
"Humor me," he smirks back, drinking more coffee.
I manage to eat two pieces of toast and some cantaloupe, while Josh finishes off a blueberry muffin. "Ready?" he asks.
"Yeah," I say getting up.
Josh makes me take two more cold tablets before we go and he hands me a huge wad of tissues, which I stuff in my jacket pocket, while he stuffs his pockets with more tissues and cough drops.
The museum is deserted and I'm pleased. I study the map because I want to be sure we don't miss anything. That's the way I am in museums. I plan out the day so that I'm not worried that I'm missing something in the next room. This way I can take my time. I figure Josh won't want to slowly wander, he'll probably want to drag me through as quickly as possible, so I make note of the pieces I really want to see. However, I'm surprised when we wander through the exhibits at a slow pace.
We talk quietly in front of the pieces I like, and I make Josh tell me about the pieces that interest him. Otherwise, we don't really talk at all and it's nice. Really nice. And I'm wondering if it's just the cold medicine that's making me feel light headed when the room we're in is invaded by a tour group. It's a small room and Josh pulls me against him with an arm at my waist as the group files into the room. They pretty much take up the whole room and Josh takes my hand to lead me through the group to the next room. When we get there, he doesn't let my hand go.
We wander through a few more rooms until I have to sit down because my eyes are watering and I need a cough drop. Josh is patient, giving me his tissues when I use up all my own. When I'm ready to go, he reaches for my hand and I tangle our fingers again as if it's the most natural thing in the world.
Eventually we find ourselves in front of several traveling Chagall paintings. A few of my absolute favorites are here, like "Lovers in Blue" and "The Two Heads" and "Les Maries de la Tour Eiffel." There's something almost magical about Chagall's paintings.
I squeeze Josh's hand to let him know that we're staying here for a few minutes.
"What do you like about this one, Donna?" he asks in a quiet voice, staring at one of the paintings.
"It makes me feel like I'm floating," I say. "I think Chagall painted with a sort of possession. Like he was trying to take people to other worlds. All his paintings seem enchanted to me."
Josh squeezes my hand in response and we study the picture for a few more minutes before moving on. We walk through the remainder of the rooms and I feel so tired that I don't protest when Josh suggests we head back to the hotel for a few hours.
When we get back to the hotel, I put on one of the t-shirts Josh bought me at the Statue. I must fall asleep for a few hours and when I wake I think it's the middle of the night, but it's only 7:30. Josh is splayed out on the other bed watching the TV with the sound turned low.
"How do you feel?" he asks. "Better," I say sitting up. "I'm kind of hungry." His eyes seem to light up. "That's a good sign. Want me to bring you the spoils of the mini-bar?"
"Yes, please," I laugh.
He loads up his arms with food from the fridge and dumps it between us on the bed. We share some raisins, animal crackers, small cheeses of the world, and some juice. I take more cold pills and Josh eats half of a chocolate bar but pockets the rest when I tell him I'm too full. He looks at me skeptically.
"Do you really feel better?"
"Yeah. I feel okay."
He smiles and rubs at his eye, a habit I notice he has when he's nervous or frustrated. "Do you wanna go someplace with me tonight?"
"It's a surprise," he grins.
I sigh. "This isn't going to be like the time you dragged me out of the hotel during the campaign because you thought you saw Elvis, is it?"
He smiles. "There was alcohol involved there. I can't be held responsible for that."
I smile back. "Okay, well, what about the time you made me go with you to that restaurant where all they served was wild game."
"You didn't like your ostrich burger?" he asks, putting on his best affronted face.
"Donna. Tell me those weren't some of the best times you've ever had." They are, but I won't admit it. "If those are my best times, I'm better off killing myself now, because I'm sure it's all downhill from here."
He laughs again and gives me his pleading puppy dog look. Ugh! Why do I fall for that every time?
"Okay," I say, sighing and falling back against the pillows.
"Don't sound so enthused, Donnatella," Josh says, jumping up to put on his shoes.
I sit up, pulling on my shoes. "I'm just wondering where you're dragging me in the middle of the night, Joshua."
"You said you'd go. I hardly call that dragging."
"Ready?" he asks.
"Uh huh," I say, pulling on my sweater over the t-shirt.
"Don't you have a heavier sweater?" he asks glancing at my clothing.
"Wait here," and he disappears into his room. He comes back carrying a bulky sweater of his.
"Wear this," he says holding it out to me.
"Josh. It's huge," I say. "Where are we going? Alaska?"
"No," he says shaking the sweater at me. "I just don't want you to be cold."
I sigh and take off my sweater. "It's not itchy, is it?" I ask, pulling his on over my t-shirt.
"What is it with you and itchy things?"
"I have sensitive skin," I say shrugging the sweater on. It's a little big, but it is warmer and it does have the light scent of Josh's cologne on it.
"Better," he says, helping me put my jacket on. I still as he reaches his hand between my neck and my hair and carefully pulls my long hair out from the coat. He runs his hand down the long cascade of my hair and puts a hand in the small of my back.
Josh steers me gently to the door, waiting for it to lock before leading me to the elevator. We ride down silently and walk through the lobby into the brisk evening air. Josh lets the doorman hail a cab and once we're seated tells the driver our destination.
"The Statue of Liberty?" I'm excited. I'm going to see the Statue of Liberty. And at night. With Josh, no less.
"Yes," he says, resting his head on the back of the seat.
I smile at him. I'm tired. I'm chilled. But there is no where else on Earth I'd rather be than with Josh speeding in a cab towards the Statue of Liberty.
We're silent during the trip. I study the lights of New York out my window.
Although I'd been in New York at night before, I usually was in a hotel at a fundraiser or campaign stop and had never really been out in the evening before. As I crane my head left and right trying to take it all in, I feel Josh's eyes on me.
As we pull up to the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island ferry, the place looks deserted. I look questioningly at Josh, as he pays the driver and scoots across the seat to follow me out of the cab.
Josh just smiles and grabs my hand. We walk away from the official Statue of Liberty ferry launch, which is closed, and head toward a big building in the distance. We thread our way through the street vendors, the homeless and the business people still straggling home.
He leads me up a circling ramp, until we get to the entrance of the building. The words "Staten Island Ferry" are written on the glass. Josh holds the door open and then takes my hand again, steering me towards the ferry entrance ramp.
"Hmm?" he says, looking at me with that mischevious glint in his eyes.
"What's going on?"
"Shh. You'll see," he says, as we walk up the gangplank onto the ferry.
The ferry is nearly deserted. There are only a few people seated and one small group of teenagers sprawled out across the benches.
Josh pulls me up the stairs behind him and we step outside to the benches wrapped around the upper level of the ferry. Josh finds a relatively clean space of bench and we sit down.
I shiver and Josh squeezes my hand tighter. "Josh, what's on Staten Island?"
"Nothing," he says.
I smile at him. "So, we're just going to ride the ferry boat back and forth until one of us succumbs to motion sickness?"
Josh smirks. "No. Be patient. You'll see."
The ferry boat horn blares and with a slight lurch, the ferry is underway. It is a clear night and the side of the boat we're sitting on gives us an unobstructed view to the stars. Though, the city lights brighten the sky too much to make out the stars, I pick out the edges of a few constellations.
The wind picks up and I shiver again. Josh lets go of my hand and wraps his arm around my shoulder, pulling me towards him. I shiver again, but this time it's not from the cold. I turn to look at him and he reaches his other hand up and brushes the hair back from my face, resting his palm against my cheek.
"Josh?" I breathe, but am silenced by Josh's lips pressing softly and quickly against mine.
"Look," he whispers into my lips, motioning with his eyes over my shoulder.
My nerves, which are already firing from Josh's kiss, jump even quicker when I look out over the water and see the Statue of Liberty, all lit up.
"Wow," I whisper.
We both sit in silence as the beautiful statue glides by.
As the moments tick by, I start to get nervous. What exactly was Josh saying by kissing me and bringing me to ride this ferry in the middle of the night?
I scoot up on the seat, craning my head to look at the statue, but also to put some distance between myself and Josh. His nearness and all my questions are making me dizzy.
Josh leaves his hand on my neck as I move away.
Not one to let an uncomfortable moment just hang there, I say the first thing that comes to my head, "Did you know that there's some debate about what exactly the seven points on the crown represent?"
Josh laughs. "Donna…."
My teeth are chattering, but I keep talking. "Some people think they represent the seven seas…"
"But others say that they represent the seven continents."
"And don't even get me started about the debate over what the 25 windows in the crown represent."
"Donna." Josh says, putting his hand on my shoulder.
"What?" I whisper, sniffling as I watch the water rush past now that the statue was out of view.
"Sorry?" I turn to look at him.
He looks at me sheepishly. "I'm sorry I kissed you." He brushes the hair from my face again, and then his face softens again and he touches my cheek. "No, I'm not sorry I kissed you. I am sorry I kissed you without asking your permission, though."
I'm watching his face during all this and shivering, but I still don't think it's from the cold. "Josh?"
Josh stands and pulls me into his arms. "Let's go inside and warm up." I nod and follow him into the cabin. We sit at a bench along the windows. Josh sits across from me and holds my hands in his, rubbing them between his.
"Donna. I'm sorry for kissing you and…"
I smile at him and interrupt him. "I thought you weren't sorry."
Josh looks confused for a second. "No, I'm not sorry. Um….I just meant…I didn't want you to think…"
"It's okay, Josh," I say, pulling my hands out from his and wrapping them around his.
"Donna?" Josh asks, looking sheepish again. "When we get back to DC, would you consider going on a date with me?"
"A date?" I ask wide-eyed. I'm still shocked from Josh's kiss that it's all I can do to repeat what he says.
"Yes, a date. I'm tired of tip-toeing around this thing between us."
"This thing between us?"
Josh looks up at me, uncertainty written all over his face. "Um, maybe I misspoke…I just thought…"
I silence him with a finger to his lips. I smile. "Shh. I know."
Josh's face flushes. "Not funny, Donnatella. I was thinking I was going to have to throw myself overboard to prevent myself from making a fool of myself in front of you."
"You've made a fool of yourself hundreds of times in front of me. Why would it matter this time?" I tease.
Josh laughs with me until he leans across the aisle to me. "Donna. Be serious for a minute. Do you think we could do this? Because I want to try."
"Being together? You want to try being together?" I ask incredulously. Josh wants to be with me? With me? All this time I've been pining for him and he's been pining for me? I feel lightheaded again.
"Yeah," he says, grasping my hands between his and brings them to his lips.
He must see the shock of what he's said in my eyes. "I know you're scared. I'm scared too. But you and I…there's something here that I'm tired of fighting." He takes a deep breath and studies my face again. "I've fallen in love with you and I don't even know when or how. It just happened and things like that don't just happen to me. I'm notorious for plotting and planning how to woo a woman, but you just slipped under my skin somehow."
I raise my eyebrows at him. "Woo a woman?"
"So, you're not going to woo me?" I ask, disappointed.
"I didn't say that," he says, lifting my fingers to his lips again.
I sniff and feel my eyes watering again, but it's definitely not from my cold. He hands me a tissue and then a cough drop. "So, do I have your permission to woo you, Donnatella?" he asks when I'm sufficently recovered.
I smile at him and my eyes start watering again. "Yes," I whisper. I raise a hand and trace his cheek. It feels so right to touch him. He places a kiss on my palm and slides over to sit next to me.
The ferry boat has stopped on the other side, but we don't even notice. Josh is too busy mapping my face with kisses.
"Josh," I sigh.
"What?" he asks from my temple.
"You're going to catch my cold."
He laughs and breathes over my lips. "I don't care." Then his lips descend on mine.
We ride the ferry back and forth most of the night, but we don't look out at the statue again.