TITLE: Alabaster 

AUTHOR: Jo March 

SUMMARY: "Josh, you've got a crush on Joey Lucas, and I think you should do something about it cause you're really bothering me." 

DISCLAIMERS: They're not mine. They belong to Aaron Sorkin. As is painfully obvious, I am no Aaron Sorkin. 

SPOILERS: "20 Hours in L.A." 

RATING: PG for some innuendo and mild profanity. 

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks again to Ryo Sen for editing and encouragement. There is a small reference here to my previous story, "An Innocent Kiss," but it's not necessary to have read that to follow events here.


I am in Los Angeles.

I, Donna Moss, am in Los Angeles on a February afternoon. I am sitting by the pool in my new bikini (a very stylish rose print with a matching wrap). The temperature has risen ten degrees in the nine hours since Air Force One landed, so I have on the SPF 30 Clinique City Block Oil Free Daily Face Protector.

Nine hours ago, I was in DC. It was cold and rainy, and I'd reached that point where I believed summer would never come. And now here I am in sunny L.A. The next two hours are mine. I left my cell phone and my pager in the hotel room. If Josh wants me, he'll have to come here and get me.

I am the envy of the entire White House support staff. None of the other assistants came to California this time. Bonnie, Ginger and Kathy are fighting rush hour traffic on DuPont Circle right now, unless they're staying late because of the ethanol tax credit vote. Margaret was supposed to come along, but Leo cancelled at the last minute. Josh, on the other hand, couldn't imagine coming here without me.

I'm relatively young, reasonably good looking, extremely intelligent, and I have alabaster skin. I am in Los Angeles, and the sun on my face feels incredible.

And I can't stop thinking about my boss and Joey Lucas.

It's not that I dislike Joey Lucas. I barely know her; I honestly have no opinion. She seems nice enough. All I really know about her is that she's deaf, she's from California, and she's O'Dwyer's campaign manager. You have to give her credit; I've been around politicians now long enough to know that this is not an easy profession for women to succeed in. Add to that the fact that she's deaf, and you realize that Joey Lucas must have something going for her.

Which doesn't mean she's a nice person, however. For all I know, she could be another Mandy Hampton.

I don't want to go through that again-jealous Josh, heartbroken Josh, rebound guy Josh. With what I get paid, they can't expect me to put up with that.

Because here's the thing: Josh has a crush on Joey Lucas. He's obsessed with her, and I honestly don't understand it. All they did was argue. On what was supposed to be my free Saturday too. Talk, talk, talk-you wouldn't think someone who's deaf could carry on a lengthy conversation like that.

I called Josh on it later too. I told him that arguing with a visitor that way was inappropriate. "It was stimulating," Josh said. "I like a woman who can banter."

"Since when?" I asked.

"Well, a woman who's not supposed to be working for me. Cause then, you know, it just gets annoying."

"Yeah, it must suck always losing a battle of wits to someone who makes half your salary."

"I wouldn't know," Josh said.

I gave him my superior laugh, so we could both claim victory and move on. He didn't mention Joey Lucas again, but I knew that didn't mean he'd stopped thinking about her.

I should get out of this sun. I have sensitive alabaster skin, and even the SPF 30 may not be protection enough. Still, tomorrow I'll be back in DC, so I should enjoy this weather while I can. "Gather ye rosebuds" and all that.

God, did I really say that? To Josh?

I'm going to think about work, not about Josh and Joey Lucas. Let's see: I returned all of Josh's phone calls (except the one from Joey Lucas); I called Margaret to make sure there was no change on the ethanol tax credit vote; I met with the local DNC rep, who was pissed that he was meeting with the deputy chief of staff's secretary. I explained that an assistant is not a secretary (not that Josh always understands the distinction himself, but still).

I ran into Joey Lucas in the hotel lobby.

She had the home court advantage; she looked like she'd gotten a decent night's sleep. I, on the other hand, had those circles under my eyes that I get when I have to catch an early morning flight. Even if it is on Air Force One. I would have done the whole "nod politely and keep moving" thing if her interpreter hadn't stopped me.

"Ms. Moss," he yelled. He does this thing with his voice where it's somehow clear that he's speaking for a woman-for Joey Lucas-and what her tone would be if she said it herself. I admit to being curious: Does he make all that up, or does sign language indicate mood as well as sound?

And will Joey Lucas be around long enough that I should find this out?

"Where's Joshua?" Kenny asked.

Now that just pissed me off. She doesn't know him well enough to call him Joshua. It was very presumptuous of her.

"With the president," I explained. And I discovered something that's disconcerting about talking to Joey Lucas. She splits her attention. It's like half her focus is on reading your lips while the other half is watching Kenny sign. I know rationally that this is not her fault, but it still got on my nerves.

"When will he be back?" Joey asked. She actually said this, and I wondered how she managed to learn the sounds. Maybe she hasn't always been deaf; maybe there's some way to learn sounds without hearing them. I'd like to know, but for some reason it struck me as too personal a question to ask.

"Hard to say," I answered. "There's a town hall meeting about flag burning, there's lunch and a meeting with Al Kiefer, there's--"

She blushed. Joey Lucas blushed when I mentioned Al Kiefer. Now what does that mean?

"Anyway," I continue, "I don't expect him back until time to get ready for the fundraiser. But I'll be happy to give him a message."

"Just tell him I said hello and I'm looking forward to seeing him again," she said. Or she signed it, and Kenny provided the words.

Maybe I don't like Joey Lucas after all. What she just did, it reminded me of Mandy Hampton. I've never liked Mandy; she seems to think I'm beneath her notice. The most she's ever said to me is "Is he in?" Never once has Mandy asked me how I was or treated me like anything other than a piece of office furniture. If Joey Lucas has that attitude, I'm going to decide to hate her.

I started to walk away. "Donna," Kenny yelled out in his Joey Lucas voice again.

"Yes?" I asked.

"I just wanted to say how good it is to see you again," Joey/Kenny signed and said. "I hope we get a chance to talk again at the fundraiser."

Oh hell. I guess I don't get to hate her that easily after all.

* * *

I've been lucky. I've never had to endure Josh falling in love. When I started working for him, his relationship with Mandy was already disintegrating. Since then, he's never gone out with the same woman more than twice. Girlfriends, I've been told, can make life hell for an assistant. They make demands, they become irrationally jealous of you (as if!), they blame you when he reaches the point where he's not returning their calls. Kathy has stories. Josh and I have a smooth, efficient working relationship. I would hate to see anything get in the way of that. But, whether it's Joey Lucas or some other gullible female, I suppose it's inevitable. Josh is intelligent (when his ego doesn't get in the way), good-looking (if you don't mind that swaggering, cocky attitude) and surprisingly soft-hearted (at least once or twice a year). Sooner or later, some woman is going to decide she can overlook the hostility, the bravado and the thoughtlessness. And then where will I be?

The sun is so bright it's starting to make my eyes water. I should have brought sunglasses.

Suddenly, a small black object comes hurtling toward my head. I catch it in both hands just before it has a chance to cause a concussion.

"You forgot your pager," Josh says.

* * *


Alabaster - 2



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