Disclaimers: All characters and refrences are owned by NBC and Arron Sorkin. I don't any of them. I just like to torture them...=) Nor do I own the song the title is based, Complicated, it is owned by Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Epic Records.

 

Complicated

 

One of the things I like about working in the White House is the fact that there is no such thing as a typical day. Every morning I go into work thinking I know what is going to happen and then, as the day progresses, it spins and turns into something completely different.

Take today for example.

Actually today probably isn't the best day to use.

It's catch up day.

Working for the White House there is such a barrage of things that are taking place and so many people wanting so many things that items are missed or pushed off of the priority list. After all, there are only twenty-four hours in the day. Therefore, for sanity's sake, one day a month is to be used for catch up.

This means all staffers sit around and go through all of the documents, letters, initiatives and or anything else that got pushed off in the month before. It is supposed to be a quiet day, no appointments, no running up to the hill, just catch up. Did you notice I used the phrase 'supposed to be' there is definite reason for that.

While this day is relaxing for myself, all I have to do is sit in my office and read all day. Donna however, has the task of going through the mess which is my life and helping me sort through it. She does her best to keep me organized but I have a nasty habit of undoing everything she has done. Also, during catch up anyone who wants or needs a meeting with me during the next month calls in and schedules an appointment. So not only is Donna helping me get organized, she is supervising the support staff to make sure the people who want or need appointments actually get appointments.

On any other day this wouldn't be anything of a problem, but unfortunately the day 'catch up' falls on every month is...well...let's just say Donna has her monthly friend that day also.

It makes life interesting to say the least, on top of the fact that I heard somewhere that when a bunch of women work together for long periods (No pun intended.) of time they get on the same.... Well...schedule. I would just like to say, for the record. This is absolutely, positively true.

God help every man in the White House.

Even the President isn't safe from this beast....

* * *

Donna stood in front of the bed trying to clasp her bracelet, for some reason this morning she was having problems. It was four am and Donna concluded that this was her minds way of protesting that she went to work so early. Abruptly Kelly, her roommate, walked into the room.

"Hey Don."

"Hey, what are you doing up?"

"Just got home."

"Oh." Donna replied with a smile as she continued to struggle with the clasp.

"Need help?"

"Yeah." Donna admitted as she held out her arm and the bracelet. Kelly took it and began to work on the clasp.

"Don."

"Yeah?"

"I hate too do this but I need a favor."

"What's up?"

"I need you to cover me this month with..."

"Kelly I can't..."

"Don, please. I haven't found a job yet and I am running..."

"What about the interview you had on Monday?"

"I haven't heard back yet."

"Kel, I really don't have the money."

"What about that bonus you got..."

"Kelly..."

"You already spent it didn't you?"

"That's none of..."

"What did you spend it on?"

"Nothing." Donna replied as she picked up her jacket and walked out of the room.

"You spent it on Josh didn't you?" Kelly replied in disgust. "Why is it that you can spend money on your boss but not on your roommate. He's never going to admit his feelings for you Donna, even if does have them."

"Kelly!"

"He's not, and you spending money on him is a waste. What is it? Did he save a shelter or something?"

"No, his birthday is next week."

"How sweet."

"Shut up Kelly."

"Donna, I'm sorry I didn't mean that."

"Yes you did."

"Fine, but I am sorry okay? Don...look I really need your help." Kelly pleaded as she stopped Donna in the kitchen.

"Kelly you have to..."

"I know, I am working on it...please?"

"I'll take care of it." Donna replied with a sigh.

"You will?"

"Yes."

"Thanks Don, I really appreciate it."

"Yeah whatever."

"Don, I'm sorry about what I said, I'm just frustrated is all."

"I know." Donna replied with a small smile. "I have to go, I'll see you tonight okay?"

"Yeah."

* * *

As Josh walked through the doors of the main hall, he noticed something. It was quiet, too quiet. Almost like the calm before the storm, he dismissed it walking by Leo's office.

"Josh."

"Yeah?" Josh replied as he turned hearing Leo.

"Did you meet with Wailand on the 24th?" Leo said as he walked out into the hallway.

"Uh...the 23rd?"

"No the 24th."

"I don't think so, what was it about?"

"I don't know."

"Donna would know for sure." Josh replied. "What's up?"

"Nothing." Leo replied. "Just let me know okay?"

"Yeah sure."

"You ready for today?"

"Am I ever ready?"

"I don't think God himself was ready."

"That's pretty bad considering it was his idea."

"Makes you wonder if God is actually a guy doesn't it?"

"Yeah." Josh replied with a smile.

"If you need an out I think Toby and Sam have set up a long lunch."

"You going?"

"Nah. Margaret is mild."

"Margaret?"

"Yeah, how much worse could it possibly get?" Leo replied with a smile as he walked back into his office.

Josh laughed and continued down to his own office stopping at the coffee machine pouring himself a cup. He then walked into the office and Donna came in just after him.

"Morning."

"Good morning Joshua," Donna replied pulling a file from his desk. "You have staff in ten."

"Okay." Josh replied looking over the items he'd left open and scattered across the desk from the night before beginning to feel a little overwhelmed.

"When you get back we can start on the tenth, I've already gone through everything up until then."

"You have?"

"Yeah."

"When?"

"This morning." Donna replied walking out of the office and then back in, Eileen following behind her, Donna was reading something and then turned to Eileen. "Make sure you make it for three. It can't conflict with the GC lock down."

"What time did you get here?"

"Five." Donna said as she began picking up files off the credenza.

"Donna what were you doing here at five am?"

"I decided to get a head start."

"Oh." Josh replied as Donna turned and started out of the office. "Donna."

"Yeah?"

"Did I meet with Wailand on the 23rd?"

"It was the 24th and no."

"How do you know that?" Josh asked as Maggie stepped into the office.

"Donna do you have the Massachusetts schedule?"

"Yeah." Donna replied pulling it out of the stack of files she was holding. "Don't schedule anything on the 18th he's already booked." Donna said to her as she took the folder starting to exit the office.

"Maggie, can you crunch the Dennison numbers for me?" Josh requested as she left the office.

"Sure."

"How do you know I didn't meet with him?"

"That was the day you spilled coffee on your shirt."

"What..."

"The 24th was the day after the third meeting with the campaign commission and we were here until four am re writing the summary points for the initiative." Donna explained leaning against the doorframe as she continued to look down at the files in her arms; she was reading something and talking at the same time.

"That was hellish, but what does that have to do with the meeting?" Josh asked as he watched her handle him and the rest of the chaotic office with ease. She was constantly amazing him with her ability to juggle eighteen things, while having five different conversations and still manage to keep smiling.

"The next day, after you had been on the Hill most of the morning I came into the office to remind you of the meeting with Wailand and found you asleep at your desk. I didn't realize it until it was too late and you spilled the cup of coffee in your hand down the front of your shirt." Donna finished as Josh began to recall the incident.

"I wasn't asleep."

"Josh."

"I was thinking." Josh tried to explain. "So why did you cancel the meeting?"

"You told me to." Donna replied as an intern walked into the room handing Josh a document.

"This was sent over from Ginger. " Josh looked at it briefly and sat down at the desk.

"Are theses the GC numbers?"

"Yeah." The intern replied as she walked out of the office.

"Why would I do that?"

"What?" Donna asked still not looking up at him.

"Tell you to cancel the meeting."

"Because you had coffee down the front of your shirt, you were exhausted and you said, I quote "Anyone who can't tell me why he wants to see me doesn't deserve to see me." Donna explained before stepping out into the hallway. "Kathy, call Bridgett in Senator Mitchell's office and tell her that we can't do it on the sixth but we can do it on the eighth." Kathy nodded and walked away. Donna looked back to Josh who was reading the document the intern had handed him. His face was relaxed but focused, his mind was easily processing the information in front of him. Donna smiled to herself as she watched him; he was arrogant but brilliant.

"I said that?" Josh replied looking up in annoyance at her remembering the events so accurately. "I never said that."

Josh held his breath suddenly realizing that he was not only picking a fight with Donna who knew everything and was rarely wrong, he was also calling her a liar.

 

Not a good day Lyman.

He waited patiently for the wrath to begin.

"Josh you can believe anything you want in that genius mind of yours, but there were witnesses and it really doesn't matter does it? You didn't take the meeting, there were too many other things on the docket and it got pushed off, big deal." Donna replied calmly and with a smile as she looked back down at the piece of paper in front of her. Josh even heard her call him a genius. His eyebrow went up in question. Donna turned seeing his expression. "Why are you looking at me like that?"

"Are you okay?"

"What do you mean?" Donna asked puzzled by his expression. Josh watched as she continued to stare at him, he wasn't sure what was going on but this was well.... just weird. She should have cut him to ribbons and left him lying helplessly on the floor by now. Josh unconsciously looked down at the calendar on his desk. "Josh what are you doing?"

"Nothing." Josh replied realizing he had been caught. Just then, CJ saved him by walking into the office. "CJ." Josh said with almost too much happiness.

"Josh."

"What's up?" Josh replied tying to ignore the funny look he was getting from both women.

"Have you met with Wailand?"

"On the 23rd?" Josh replied.

"It was the 24th but no, since then."

"How do you know I didn't meet with Wailand on the 24th?"

"I was here when you spilled the coffee down your shirt and cancelled the meeting." CJ replied and Donna quietly left the room with a smile. "Have you seen him since?"

"No, why what is going on? Leo asked me about it this morning also. I know he is the lead for the GDC but what's the deal?"

"I don't know yet, I was hoping you could tell me. There is a buzz going around about him and I want to find out what it is. Can you try and meet with him today?"

"But it's catch up..." Josh began to protest.

"Josh the White House Press Corp does not believe in catch up and if the story breaks, what ever it is and I don't know what it is first... I will have that self centered head of yours on a platter in the main hall for all of your enemies to spit on!" CJ roared at him.

"Yeah." Josh replied in fear. "Donna!"

"Kathy is getting him on the phone now." Donna replied as she walked by the office. Josh watched as CJ winced slightly and groaned under her breath.

"How's it going?"

"Shut up Josh!" CJ growled at him, as she clutched her stomach. Donna walked back into the office and looked to CJ who was biting her lip. "Do you have any Midol?"

"Yeah" Donna replied turning back out of the room and reappearing with bottle in hand. "Is it bad? Take the bottle I don't need them."

 

She doesn't need them?

Why doesn't she need them?

"Really? Thanks." CJ replied as she turned. "Call me when you are done with Wailand, Josh."

"Okay." Josh called with a grin.

"You're meeting with Wailand at eleven so you will have to go right after staff. It is in a café on 2nd and Lincoln." Donna replied as Josh stood gathering his notes for staff. "I have to help with the phones so don't forget okay?"

"Donna I won't forget." Josh replied as he started down the hall to Leo's office, Donna keeping stride with him.

"The address I mean."

"So did I." Josh replied ignoring the fact that he thought she meant the meeting.

"Here is the name and address." Donna replied handing it to him as he put it on top of his notes.

"Thanks."

"Put it in your pocket." Donna said quietly.

"Donna..."

"Josh you won't be able to get a hold of me if you do lose it, and I am just trying to avoid that." Donna replied with a smile.

"Fine." Josh replied with a sigh as he put the directions in his coat pocket. She smiled at him brightly again as he disappeared into Leo's office.

* * *

The Senior Staff went through the agenda for the month so far and Leo delegated meetings and strategies. It broke early and Josh walked out with Sam.

"You coming to lunch?"

"I don't know yet. Sam?"

"Yeah?"

"If they don't get it, that means they are..."

"What?" Sam replied clueless. "Oh...yeah. Only if they miss it completely. Sometimes they are just...late."

"Late?"

"Yeah, it can be late. Some women are regular and others aren't. Depends on the women and their contraceptive."

"Where they are on the pill?"

"Yeah. Women who are on the pill tend to be more regular than women who aren't."

"Oh." Josh replied, wondering why Donna was acting so...normal. Hadn't she gotten it? Was she pregnant? How could she be pregnant? She wasn't seeing anyone that he knew of unless she had figured a way to keep him from knowing. But that was almost impossible. .

"Josh."

"Yeah?" Josh replied Sam's voice bringing him back to reality.

"Why?"

"No reason, just curious." Josh asked. "How have Ginger and Bonnie been?"

"Awful. Toby yelled at Ginger this morning and she burst into tears which made Bonnie yell at me."

"Doesn't Toby always yell at Ginger?"

"Yeah."

"So...I don't get it. Why do they all of a sudden over react, nothing is different it's just the same as any other day. Except now there is yelling and tears."

"Josh you really know nothing about women do you?"

"No."

"It's a chemical thing." Sam tried to explain. "With the transition of the egg exportation from the fallopian tubes out of the body..."

"Okay that is more information than I..." Josh replied, suddenly regretting that he asked.

"It causes an increase in hormones and throws them emotionally off balance which causes women to overreact in the simplest situations. My mother used to cry if the doorbell rang."

"So they aren't crying and screaming because of what is happening they are just doing it because that is the immediate reaction they are having at that moment."

"Right."

"Can't they control it?"

"Not usually, it just sort of happens."

"Sam how do you know so much about this?"

"I asked."

"Who?"

"My ninth grade biology teacher." Sam replied as he walked into the communications pen.

"You didn't." Josh asked him with a laugh, Sam nodding in confirmation.

"Where are you going?" Sam replied quickly changing the subject.

"I have to meet with Wailand downtown."

"What about catch up?"

"Apparently it is going to have to wait."

* * *

"Donna I need the 17th at four." Someone called across the room to her, Donna looked down at the day in question so far but it was entirely booked.

"I can give you the 21st at two."

"The 21st?"

"Yeah." Donna called back, as she rose from her chair and began to walk to the desk. It was Debbie a small and mousy looking woman. Mousy looking was all though; she'd kick Josh's butt in a debate. "Who is it?"

"Senator Trimland." She whispered while agreeing with the person on the phone. She wrote something down on a piece of paper and handed it to Donna, who took it and read it. Trimland wanted to speak with Josh about the GDC, and conservation in Montana. Donna put it on her calendar and then looked up hearing a knock. She saw Toby standing in the doorway.

"Hey Toby" Donna asked with a smile.

"Where's Josh?" Toby replied with his usual cheerfulness.

"He is downtown."

"Donna can you get me the schedule for next month?" Eileen called from across the room.

"We don't have it yet." Donna replied turning.

"What do I do?"

"Tell them to call next month." Donna replied with a smile as the woman groaned in irritation.

"Why is he downtown?"

"Donna you said the 15th is out completely?" Maggie came up and asked.

"CJ asked him to meet with Wailand" Donna replied as she turned to Maggie. "Yeah, the 15th through the 18th Josh will be in Massachusetts. So we can't schedule anything until the 20th."

"Do you know about the Green Bill?"

` "The 20th?"

"The 19th is a Sunday." Donna explained as the woman handed her a piece of paper and walked away. "Yeah, Josh met with Willis last week. Do you need the notes?"

Donna led Toby into Josh's office and went to the stacks of files on Josh's desk pulling out the one Toby requested.

"Yeah. When will he be back?"

"I really have no idea, it was a last minute thing."

"Oh."

"Is there something wrong?" Donna asked as she handed Toby the file.

"No, I am just curious about the urgency of the meeting."

"Me too. But you know better than anyone that every issue is the most important" Donna offered with a smile as Toby took the file.

"Unfortunately that is more than correct." Toby replied, following Donna out of the office and disappearing down the hall. As Donna turned the corner CJ and Sam appeared going in the opposite direction.

"Sam you haven't see anyone strange lurking around have you?"

"No one beside Toby, why?"

"There is a new reporter in the Corp and he is missing."

"He's missing?"

"Well not exactly. He apparently arrived about an hour ago but no one seems to know where he is."

"Haven't seen anyone."

"Will you let me know if you do?"

"Sure."

"What are you doing for lunch?" CJ asked.

"Toby and I are going out."

"Where?"

"Why?"

"Why?"

"I don't mean why, but..." Sam stammered feeling trapped by her blazing eyes. "Don't you have plans?"

"No not yet, which is why I was asking yours." CJ replied her eyes narrowing at him in suspicion.

"Oh, Toby and I are going to that Sushi place down the street I..."

"I love sushi."

"You do?"

"Yeah, what time?"

"One...ish"

"CJ!" Carol called to her from down the hall.

"I'll be right there!" CJ smiled and walked away leaving Sam standing in the hallway alone. "Call me when you are ready to go."

She reached Carol in few paces and Carol handed her the cell.

"What's up?"

"Josh is on the phone." Carol replied a very serious tone in her voice.

"Josh..."

* * *

Josh walked into the café and immediately recognized Wailand. He walked to the table with a smile and shook the man's hand in greeting before taking a seat. They proceeded with the usual small talk and ordered some food. Wailand kept looking around nervously and Josh finally called him on it.

"Tom is there something wrong?" Josh asked watching the man's expression go from informal to serious.

"Yes" He replied hesitantly.

"What's up?"

"We are getting some pressure from Parsons not to lead with the proposal."

"Why?"

"He feels that he has some adjustments to make."

"What kind of adjustments?"

"He says that you can give us seven percent on emissions but that the President is holding out..."

"That's ridiculous! We had to fight for five."

"I told him that but Parsons said that he has some information that will bring in a few votes from the Republican fence."

"What kind of information?" Josh asked, as the man became visibly uncomfortable. "Tom?"

"I am doing this purely as a professional courtesy and because you seem to be a good man."

"Tom what is it?"

"The White House has a lot of headaches right now, what with the new drilling and the reform issues...."

"You don't have to tell me that."

"Well I am going to add something to the mix."

"What is it?"

"There is a woman about to come out in the press with a statement."

"A statement about what?"

"Her name is Tiffany Buesen."

"I recognize the name..."

"You should, she was your assistant when you worked for Brennan." Wailand explained. "What do you know about her?"

"Not much. She worked with me for about six months and then left to get her Masters I think."

"Apparently not."

"What do you mean? Tom what's going on?"

"She has a different version of events."

"What kind of version?"

"A version that says that you are the father of her seven-year-old son."

* * *

"How could you tell her that we were going out to lunch?"

"It just came out."

"So how are you going to get..."

"Sam, Toby!" CJ called to them as she sprinted down the hall.

"CJ we are..."Sam tried to say.

"I need you in my office."

"But we are..."

"NOW!" CJ scowled as they followed her down the hall and into the office. Carol quickly closed the door behind them.

"CJ if this is about lunch I just want to say..."

"Forget lunch."

"What's going on?" Toby asked.

"Josh called me."

"And..."

"And he will be here in a minute..."

"Can't you tell us..."

"No, Josh needs to tell you..."

* * *

Donna leaned against her desk listening to Eileen explain why the Senator from Iowa need to see Josh on the 5th and not the 10th. Out of the corner of her eye she watched Josh walk by and go into his office, Maggie followed and handed Josh some reports he had asked her to run for him earlier that morning. Donna could hear Josh in his office mumbling something and then heard Maggie ask him something and Josh snapped at her, Maggie protested and he snapped again. She could then hear him begin to yell and Donna quickly interrupted the conversation she was having and ventured toward Josh's office. She walked in as Maggie left in tears.

"Josh." Donna said as she watched him throwing down his bag and loosening his tie.

"Yeah?"

"Why is Maggie crying?"

"I don't know."

"Josh, what did you say?"

"Nothing." Josh replied not looking up at her.

"Josh..."

"Donna I don't need this right now...!"

"Josh, I could hear you yelling at her from the pen!" Donna demanded.

"Donna I am her boss as well as yours, and if I want to yell at her I will!" Josh replied in frustration, finally looking up at her. Donna stood silently as he walked past her and out of the office.

* * *

 

 

"What's going on?" Sam asked as Josh entered the office.

"I..."

"Josh just spill it." Toby snapped.

"Does Leo know?" Josh asked CJ with a look of contemplation on his face.

"No."

"Know what?"

"One of Josh's former assistant's is coming out saying that he is the father of her seven year old son."

"What?" Sam exclaimed.

"When?"

"Is it true?"

"Tomorrow."

"No."

"Is there any way it could be true?"

"No."

"You're sure?"

"Positive."

"Do you know where the woman is now?"

"Yeah, Wailand said she is staying at her sister's downtown."

"How did Wailand find out?"

"Parsons had it and he..."

"If Parsons knows than half of the Republican Party..."

"Yeah." Josh replied with a sigh. "He apparently thinks that by encouraging Tiffany to come forward it is going to bring some of the fenced republicans, so he can push for seven percent."

"Why would they do that?"

"Because with the heat of the media in our faces it will make them look good."

"With the scandal Josh will be forced to take a back seat in negotiations and Russell will come forward and come to the rescue."

"With his three republican votes." Sam finished. "Calling it a republican victory."

"So what do we do?" Josh asked anxiously.

"Okay, Toby and I will go and talk to Tiffany and see if we can get her to agree to take a DNA test before going to the press."

"And if she doesn't agree?"

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

"I want to go."

"No, you are to stay here. Do not leave your office or talk to anyone beside Donna, Sam or Leo."

"I just..."

"Josh do you want me to fix this or not?"

"Yes."

"Then do what I am telling you okay?"

"Okay." Josh replied with a sigh. "Can I tell Donna?"

"No."

"CJ..."

"You can tell her when we get an answer." CJ replied sternly as she followed Toby out of the office. "Let's go."

Josh stood in the office silently with Sam. Neither of them knew what to say and the silence remained. Finally Josh turned and headed out of the office.

"She'll fix this you know." Sam offered.

"Yeah."

* * *

 

Donna walked down the hallway and into the bathroom, she didn't know if she wanted to scream or hit something. Both would probably work at this point.

Donna stopped mid stride, her stomach suddenly tying itself in knots.

She pushed open the door of the ladies room replaying the incident with Maggie in her mind. Donna washed her hands absently, staring at her self in the mirror.

 

Something's wrong...

Suddenly she heard movement and sniffling from behind her. Donna turned following the sound and found the stall where it was coming from. Donna noticed the door was ajar and pushed it open the rest of the way. She saw Maggie sitting on the toilet crying.

"Maggie are you alright?"

"Donna I didn't..." She started as her sobs overwhelmed her.

"Maggie it's okay." Donna soothed as she embraced the woman in a hug. " I know that you are tougher than this, is something wrong?"

"I don't know...I mean I'm not sure..."

"What do you mean?"

"Donna I...I...think I'm pregnant." Maggie confessed with tear filled eyes. Donna held the woman as she continued to sob. Donna knew this wasn't a good thing. She had been a kind ear many times when Maggie and her boyfriend had problems, and that had been more often lately. Maggie was planning to break up with him and now...

"Okay, well before we start getting our exercise jumping to conclusions let's find out for sure okay?" Donna replied as she looked at Maggie who nodded in agreement.

"How?"

"Hey we work in White House, there has to be pregnancy test around here somewhere."

 

* * *

 

Josh tried to concentrate on the file in front of him but couldn't. He hadn't meant to say that to Donna or Maggie he was just frustrated, he had just found out about a woman from his past trying to claim him as the father of her son. Who wouldn't have been on edge? The problem was, Donna didn't know any of this, if she did she would forgive him, but she didn't, so she couldn't, and that was a problem. He was nervous about this; he had kept things from Donna before but nothing like this.

Josh couldn't sit still; he was very uncomfortable waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Damn...Damn...Damn...

Josh leaned back in his chair and heard her voice out in the hallway. She was dealing with a still overly emotional Maggie who was crying over something. Josh tried not to feel anxious as he waited for her to walk into the office, so he started picking through the files on his desk. After about another five minutes and still no Donna. Josh finally stepped outside the office watching her walk toward the communication pen, and decided he needed to take a walk.

 

Space, I need lots of space...

Josh continued down to the hall accidentally bumping into a woman, he recognized from AP. He tried to say he was sorry but she just growled at him. It felt like this day was never going to end. Every woman in the office was going to hate him by the end of the day, including Donna.

 

Josh realized a long time ago that everything that effected him, directly effected Donna in some way. It had happened with his father's death, the election and Rosselyn. Josh got through all of it with Donna's help. Whether it was long talks, drunken silly nights of laughter or simply reading a book aloud over the telephone, to help them both sleep. Josh hoped this would be one of those times too. He would explain to her what happened, she would take a deep breath and smile telling him everything would be okay. She would understand that Tiffany was lying and that the child wasn't his, she knew him better than that. Josh found his way back to the office after taking a stroll around the building. As he walked in, he found Donna looking through a stack of files on his desk.

"Hey."

"Hey." Josh replied as he walked to the desk. "Is Maggie okay?"

"Yeah." Donna replied not looking up at him as she read the file in front of her.

"How did it go?"

"Fine." Josh replied feeling slightly relieved that she wasn't going to lecture him about his rude behavior earlier.

"Good." Donna replied as she began looking through the files again.

"How have things been going here?"

"With the exception of your little out burst?"

"Yeah."

"Hectic but good. Oh, Toby needs to see you..."

"Donna there is a phone call for you." Evelyn said as she passed the office.

"Who is it?" Donna asked.

"Some guy you are supposed to meet at five."

"Okay, tell him to hang on a minute." Donna called out into the hall.

"What about?" Josh replied sitting up in his chair. The news of a telephone call getting his attention. His thoughts of her earlier actions with CJ began flooding his mind.

"He came by looking for the notes from your meeting with Willis about the Green Bill."

"Okay."

"Are you going to go talk to him?" Donna replied as she found what she was looking for and pulled it from the stack.

"Yeah."

"Okay." Donna answered as she turned catching Josh's bewildered expression.

Josh stood, debating whether he should ask her about who was on the telephone.

"Josh are you okay?"

"Yeah. Why?" Josh replied suddenly feeling self-conscience.

"You just seem like...something is off."

"No." Josh replied as convincingly as he could. "We'll get started when I get back?"

"I'll be waiting." Donna replied as he walked out of the office and down the hall.

Josh started down to the communications office and turned the corner, when Sam took stride with him.

"Heard anything?"

"No."

"Did you tell her?"

"CJ told me not to, you were there."

"Figured I would check and make sure."

"Why?"

"Josh how many times do you actually do what CJ asks you to?"

"True." Josh replied as he entered Toby's office. He entered the office seeing it was empty and threw his head back remembering that Toby had gone with CJ to clean up the mess. Josh turned around and walked back through the bullpen, Donna taking stride beside him.

"That was fast."

"Yeah." Josh replied. "Toby wasn't there."

"You want me to try and find him?"

"No, let's get started on our stuff."

"Okay." Donna replied following him into his office. She stood silently as he walked into the room taking in the mess that lay before them. She saw him becoming visibly overwhelmed and quickly took over the situation.

"You start with these and I'll start over here." Donna said as she pointed to the stack on his desk and he sat down in his chair. She walked over to the credenza and began going through the files stacked there.

After two hours of work, Josh's desk was clear and the rest of the mess was at least organized. Josh watched Donna as she continued the process of going through the various documents.

 

I hate lying to her...

She would understand right?

Abruptly his thoughts were interrupted by one of the support staff knocking on the door requesting Donna's presence. Josh watched as she looked up and walked out of the office. He went back to the file in front of him and a few moments later heard her walk back into the office.

"Donna."

"Yeah?"

"Who was on the phone?"

"When?'

"Before."

"No one."

"No one was on the phone?"

"Josh..."

"Do you even know..."

"Yes Josh and it is none of your business."

"Was it a guy?"

"Why are you doing this?"

"What?"

"I swear you act like..." Donna replied as she went back to her work.

"Like what?"

"Never mind."

"No, what?"

"Forget it." Donna replied as Sam walked into the office.

"Josh."

"Yeah?"

"Leo needs us."

"Okay." Josh replied as he got up and followed Sam out of the office.

"How's it going?"

"Fine."

"That's convincing." Sam replied as they walked into Leo's office. Leo was standing at his desk as they walked in and he looked up briefly.

"Hey."

"What's up?"

"Parson's."

"What about him?"

"I just got a call from Matthews and he has called an emergency meeting of the CAC."

"Great."

"Do you think he is going to say anything?"

"No, but I want you to be there to make sure he doesn't."

"Leo we..."

"Just stop by, use it as a follow up from your meeting today with Wailand. Make it clear that we intend on holding our position and that no matter what happens you will be in the front."

"Do you really think that is a good idea?"

"If I didn't I wouldn't have brought it up."

"Yeah."

"Have you heard anything?"

"No."

"The meeting is at three, take Toby if he is back."

"Okay." Josh replied as he and Sam left the office. "We are going to have to recheck our standing."

"I'll call David Burcham."

"Okay, meet me in my office and I will have Donna pull all of the notes." Josh finished as he turned into his office and found it empty. "Donna!"

Just then, Julie one of the interns entered the office putting a file on Josh's desk. "Thanks."

"If you are looking for Donna she told me to tell you that she had an errand to run and that she will be back in an hour."

"Where did she go?" Josh asked as the woman shrugged, not knowing. "Okay, thanks."

* * *

 

Donna trotted to her car and pulled out of the parking lot in front of the drug store. She was headed to the local pizzeria for thirteen pies she had ordered for the staff. It was Josh's favorite and she hoped that it would pull him out of the mood she was afraid he was getting into.

There was a lot of work ahead for the day and she didn't need him being overly sensitive. She had to deal with enough of that already today with Maggie and the rest of the girls in the office.

Something was up but she couldn't figure out what. Josh was testy and even nervous. Donna decided she would have to force him to get over it, not everyone was as patient as she was, especially today. As she pulled up to the curb she noticed a few cars pulling up behind her, she dismissed it and walked inside.

"Hi my name is Donna Moss and I am here to pick up an order." Donna said cheerfully as the man behind the counter smiled at her. Donna waited patiently at the counter; she picked up her cell phone and dialed a number waiting. "Hey Adam...yeah, I'm sorry it's been crazy....Yeah I was wondering if you could hold the tickets for me.... I know I said I was going.... Yes I still want them I just.... Okay, yeah thanks I understand..."

 

Damn it!

Why do I have to be so nice?

Kelly was right, unfortunately. The actualizations of Josh ever admitting any kind of feeling for her other than friendship were slim to none. It was just an elaborate romantic dream. One Donna had continually, ever since Rosselyn.

Oh god that was a night. She could still feel her chest tighten when she thought of it. He almost died and she never realized how much she...

Suddenly the door behind her opened and a barrage of noise and people flooded the room. Donna jumped back in alarm, her cell phone falling to the ground, as they continued to approach her, screaming her name.

* * *

"Kathy!" Josh called out into the hall.

"Yeah?" Kathy replied as she came running from the pen.

"I can't find the quarterlies and I need the Masterston affidavit." Josh rambled, as Kathy looked at him in confused panic. "You have no idea what I am talking about do you?" The auburn haired woman shook her head slowly fearful of his reaction. "Well Kathy, find someone who does and where the hell is Donna!" Josh roared as she ran out of the office and Sam entered.

"Problems?"

"Not at all, I am just losing my mind!" Josh replied with a frustrated growl.

"Where's Donna?"

"I don't know, she had an errand to run." Josh replied looking at his watch. "That was an hour and a half ago!"

"Where did she go?"

"I don't know Sam...Maggie!" Josh yelled out of his office again. Maggie came running and entered the office in fear. "Where the hell is Donna?"

"I...I don't know. We tried her cell but her voice mail keeps picking up."

"Well that's just great, is everyone around here completely useless!" Josh roared again as Maggie turned and left the room.

"Josh just calm down. I'm sure she will be back soon." Sam said as he picked up a stack of files. "I'll help you go through this mess until she gets back."

"Yeah I know...I am just so...." Josh replied as the reminder of the present situation kept flooding his mind. "How did this happen?"

"You tell me." Sam replied as they began to look through Josh's files.

"I don't know, insanity?"

"Josh..."

"She was my secretary, there were a lot of long nights in the office but besides that there was nothing..."

"Did she have a crush on you?" Sam asked noticing how Josh referred to the woman as his secretary not his assistant.

"Probably." Josh replied. He knew the statement sounded arrogant but it was the truth.

His thoughts suddenly flew back to the conversation he had with Joey about Donna having 'feelings' for him. Josh denied it of course but secretly he smiled at the thought. Could Donna really be harboring some emotional conflict about her relationship with him? Josh didn't want to call it a 'crush', that demoralized it somehow. Crushes went away, he secretly hoped that it was more than a crush. He hoped...

"Hopefully she will agree to the test before the press gets a hold of it."

"Yeah." Josh replied, coming back to reality. Abruptly his cell phone rang and Josh pulled it from his jacket. "Lyman."

"Josh, it's CJ."

"What happened?"

"We talked to her and she agreed to the DNA testing before going to the press."

"She did, that's great!"

"Yeah we'll see how great it is."

"You think she's lying?"

"Don't know. We are going to have to wait and find out."

"What do you need me to do?"

"Meet us at GW in twenty."

"Okay." Josh replied hanging up the phone, exhaling in a flood of relief.

"She agreed?"

"Yeah."

"What now?" Sam asked.

"I have to go down to GW and..." Suddenly Carol ran into the office going straight to the television. She changed the channel and turned up the volume. There was a mob of reporters in front of a pizzeria.

"Carol what..." Sam tried to say as the reporters screaming at someone cut him off. There was a barrage of questions, one louder than the others.

"How do you feel about working for a man who allegedly fathered a child with one of his past assistants?" The reporter shouted.

"Oh God..." Josh mumbled watching Donna's face came up onto the screen as she backed away from them.

"Are you and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman sexually involved?"

"Sam!" Josh turned looking to the man in panic. Sam bolted out of the office; Carol following and then the telephone rang again. Josh picked it up and heard a man identify himself as a Newsweek reporter on the other line. Josh quickly hung up the telephone and ran out of the office ordering Maggie to shut everything down; no one was to answer the telephone.

"Why?"

"Just do it!" Josh snapped as he headed straight to Leo's office. He walked in seeing Margaret; she turned and looked at him snidely.

"Margaret is he in?"

"Yeah." Margaret replied as she walked to the door. "I expected more from you Josh."

"I didn't do anything!" Josh snapped, the woman turned bursting into a flood of tears running out of the office. Josh moved forward into the office and watched as Leo turned to him muting the television.

"You saw?"

"Yeah, Sam and Carol went to get her."

"Good, CJ wanted you to go to GW but considering the situation I have arranged to have GW come here."

"Thanks Leo I just..."

"Josh it happens, you walk into the spotlight and people come out of the woodwork. We'll get through it, just like everything else." Leo replied sympathetically. "Did Donna know before this?"

"No, CJ wanted me to wait to tell her until after we knew for sure."

"She knows now."

"Yeah." Josh replied the regret and pain showing on his face.

"When Sam gets back take some time and explain to her what is going on okay?"

"Yeah."

"You okay?"

"I don't know."

"If you know for sure that there is no legitimacy to the claim..."

"It's not that."

"What then?"

"I just..." Josh started and then stopped rethinking his words. "Nothing. I'd better call CJ."

"Yeah." Leo replied as he watched Josh leave the office.

* * *

Sam pulled up to the rear of the pizzeria and knocked on the door. It opened quickly. Sam had called ahead and the owner was expecting them. Carol waited in the car as Sam went inside to rescue Donna. He followed the owner through the kitchen to the small office where Donna was seated, hiding from the storm.

"Hey." Sam said as she rose from her seat a look of shock and confusion covering her porcelain face.

"Sam what's going on?" She asked him almost on the verge of tears.

"I'll explain in the car, let's get you out of here." Sam replied putting a reassuring arm around her shoulders as he led her out through the kitchen and into the car.

"Sam tell me..." Donna asked after a few minutes.

"There is a woman..."

"What woman?"

"One of Josh's old assistants." Sam replied trying not to tell her too much.

"What about her?"

"She has a different version of what happened when she worked with Josh."

"What kind of version?" Donna continued to ask as Sam turned the corner onto Pennsylvania Avenue where he began to slow and then stop. "Sam?"

* * *

Toby followed CJ as she walked into Leo's office.

"Did you get it done?"

"Yeah, now all they are waiting for is Josh's blood."

"It's on it's way, how long will it take?"

"Few hours."

"You put a rush on it?"

"Of course."

"You heard?"

"Yeah Margaret called me."

"Where's Donna?"

"Sam and Carol went to get her."

* * *

A stream of reports surrounded the car knocking on the windows, camera's flashing.

"Donna get down." Sam said to her, his hand lay on her back as she crouched

down as far as she could beneath the window. Sam struggled to pull the car forward as it began to rock back and forth with the weight of people. Carol screamed from the back seat as a camera plowed into the car window splintering it.

"Sam do something!" Carol yelled. Sam finally pushed forward honking his horn to get the band out of the way, finally the troop of security arrived adding threat to the chaos. They began peeling reporters off the car and Sam was finally able to pull up along the back entrance picking up his cell phone as the mobbing continued. "Yeah, it's Sam we could use a little help out here."

* * *

"Did she say anything?" Toby asked.

"Not that we know of."

"She's smarter than that."

"They're back." Margaret said to the group as she stepped in.

"Margaret can you make sure that they are put in my office as soon as they..."

"Sure." Margaret replied.

"And have Carol get me some Midol!" CJ barked.

"Midol?" Toby questioned.

"You try standing here while you feel like your inside are getting ready to fall out and tell me you don't need drugs."

"CJ!" Josh said as entered the room while holding a cotton swab on his arm.

"Okay."

"Josh I'm sorry I didn't think..."

"How did they find out?"

"I don't know." CJ replied in regret feeling sorry for her friend that not only had a scandal to deal with, but was also forced to lie to his assistant and one of his best friends by her request. "I promise that I will explain to Donna why..."

"CJ." Carol said as she popped her head in the room.

"Okay I'm coming." CJ replied as she rushed out of the room and down the hall into her office. Donna was waiting and she quickly shut the door.

"Are you okay?"

"CJ what is going on? I went down to the pizzeria to pick up my order for the staff, and I am mobbed by press saying that Josh is the father of some woman's baby and asking me if I am having..."

"Did you say anything?"

"No."

"You're sure?"

"Yes." Donna replied still looking shaken from the experience. CJ took a deep breath and began to explain the entire situation to her. She sat and listened quietly. "So you talked to her?"

"Yes. Toby and I went to her home and she agreed to take a DNA test before coming forward to the press with a statement."

"So how did this happen, why are they after me?"

"It must have leaked somehow and they are coming after you because you are Josh's current assistant."

"So because of this they automatically think that I am having sex with him?" Donna asked a fire burning in her voice.

"Yeah." CJ replied with an unmistakable discomfort.

"CJ this is completely insane how can they just assume..."

"Donna there is no logic to it, this is just the way it works."

"So what do we do?"

"We wait for the test results to come back and keep you and Josh as far away from the press as possible."

"Which means what?"

"Which means that you aren't going to be able to go home tonight, the press will be camped out waiting for you." CJ explained as calmly an empathetically as she could. "I'll have Carol make arrangements for you..."

"What about Josh?"

"I'll do the same for him I just have..."

"No, I mean what kind of effect is this...thing going to have on Josh."

"Donna we have gotten through scandal's before, we will get through this one."

"But CJ he didn't have anything..."

"I know and that is what we are going to prove with the blood test."

"Will that stop it?"

"Hopefully."

"And if it doesn't?"

"Then we'll..."

"CJ you can't let him get dragged through the mud, he didn't do anything wrong!" Donna snapped unintentionally.

"I know and I will do my best to keep it under control." CJ snapped back as she watched Donna take a step back and catch her breath.

"I'm sorry, I know you will." Donna replied with a sigh. "I just..."

"It's okay." CJ replied in understanding of her frustration. "Donna, your relationship with Josh, within these walls and outside these walls, will be heavily scrutinized over the next few hours and even days. I want you to be prepared."

"CJ... I..." Donna tried to protest but couldn't find the words. Donna sat on the couch staring down at her hands.

"Nothing has happened that I can't fix." CJ replied gently knowing the woman's inner conflict with the thought of everyone looking into her life. "No one knows anything, we just have to keep it that way."

"Yeah." Donna agreed with a smile. "What do you need me to do?"

"Don't talk to anyone and just keep things as normal as possible. Go about business around here as you would normally and let me handle the rest."

"Okay." Donna replied as she stood from the couch and walked toward the door.

"Oh, Josh is going to be very apologetic for not telling you about this whole thing ahead of time. It was my fault because I told him not to, but feel free to let him suffer, for the sisterhood." CJ remarked with a toothy grin.

"Okay." Donna replied with a grin. "CJ, thanks."

* * *

Josh sat in his office tapping a pencil on the desk nervously. CJ had whisked Donna into her office so fast he didn't have a chance to talk to her. Josh knew CJ would explain everything that happened but it still didn't feel right. Josh needed to talk with her, explain, and if nothing else apologize for the mess. The look on her face when that reporter asked if she was having sexual relations with him was enough to make him feel guilty for the rest of his life.

That was it, that look was the entire reason he didn't...no matter how much he has wanted to. He knew it would be a huge mess and he didn't want to even think of the pain and anguish it would put her though if they...

This was in no way saying he hadn't thought about the undeniable feelings he had for Donna, on numerous occasions in fact. The possibilities of what they could have, but he was afraid of what could happen outside these walls. It turned out he was right, it was too much for her to have to deal with and it wasn't worth it.

His heart ached as the reality of his thoughts began to sink in.

Is it too much for her Lyman, or too much for you...

"Josh."

"Yeah." Josh said as he looked up seeing CJ standing in the doorway. "Where's Donna?"

"What do you mean?"

"Isn't she with you?" Josh replied as he stood looking out into the hall. Donna was standing in the other room talking with one of the support staff. "Did you tell her to not..."

"Of course I didn't. I just told her to go back to work."

"Oh." Josh replied as he sat down again. "What?"

"What?"

"Why did you come down..."

"I saved your ass today and all you can say is what?"

"CJ I..." Remembering that he was still in the same overly menstrual office hell as he was when he walked in this morning.

"Shut up!" CJ replied as she threw a piece of paper down on his desk. "Here are your hotel reservations..."

"Hotel reservations?"

"Yes..."

"CJ, I have a house I don't need..."

"Josh there are going to be a army of reporters at your house and I just figured you would like to avoid the mess so I made reservations for both you and Donna..."

"Where is Donna staying?"

"Somewhere else."

"Why?"

"Josh you need to stay low key and considering the situation I didn't think it was the best idea to put you both in the same hotel!"

"So tell me where she is staying so..."

"So what?"

"What if I need to get a hold of her?"

"What for?"

"Something may happen..."

"In the five hours that you will be separated? Because I know full well that you will be here until at least two."

"CJ that's not the point!" Josh protested.

"Look if you really have to get a hold of Donna you can call me and I will call her."

"That's not..."

"It's going to have to be good enough for now."

"I..."

"Josh, I'm done!" CJ finished as she turned on her heel and left the office.

Josh looked over the reservations and then threw them back on the desk. He stood, took a deep breath and ventured into the pen where the support staff led by Donna was diligently working. One of the girls greeted him, announcing his presence in the small area and Donna looked up from what she was doing. Josh watched her gather her folders and walk away. Josh turned the corner heading her off.

"Donna..."

"Shouldn't you be getting ready to go to Parson's office at three?" Donna said as he stepped in front of her.

"How do you know about that?"

"Sam told me." Donna replied as she walked past him and into the main pen. "The Green Bill lock down is tomorrow and you still have to read the prospective on Montana."

"I know but I..."

"Josh...."

"Donna I just want to explain about..."

"About what?" Donna replied as she headed off down the hall, Josh following in stride.

"About today."

"Today?" Donna replied the tone of her voice remaining steady, although her heart raced.

"Yeah. I..."

"Josh you have work to do." Donna continued as her eyes refused to meet his.

"I didn't know..."

"I know you didn't."

"CJ said..."

"Josh let's just drop it okay?" Donna replied coldly as she turned the corner. "We both have a lot of work to do and I really don't relish having to be here all night."

Josh stopped in front of the communications office offering no reply as she walked away. He turned seeing Sam sitting in his office. Josh walked in taking a seat on the chair across from him.

"You heard anything?" Sam said without even looking up.

"Not yet." Josh replied, as he tried to dismiss the conversation he just had with Donna. "CJ said it would take a few hours."

"You talk to Donna?"

"Kind of."

"Kind of?"

"I don't know. She acting like nothing has happened."

"CJ probably told her to make things as normal as possible and that is what she is doing. You can deal with hurt feelings and blame after this is all over. Until then you are just going to have to chill out and let her be."

"Yeah, I just wish she wasn't so damn convincing."

"Yeah well she's gotten good at it."

"What are you working on?"

"The docket for the President's council of labored interest."

"Oh." Josh replied as his thoughts of Donna continued to tug relentlessly at him. "What do you mean she has gotten good at it?"

"Toby was looking for you."

"Why?"

"He wanted to go over your thing with Parson's."

"Oh yeah." Josh replied trying to focus on something other than the immediate situation. "Where is he?"

"In with Leo."

"Okay, when he gets back tell him I'll be in my office if he still wants to go over it." Josh replied as he stood walking out of the office. "Sam."

"Yeah?"

"What do you mean she has gotten really good at it?"

"Just that..." Sam stammered realizing that he had said an inner thought aloud. "She has gotten very good at being neutral in sensitive situations."

"Oh." Josh replied the image of Sam's words perplexing him as he left the office.

* * *

Donna sat silently at her desk trying to read. Unsuccessfully though, her mind kept going back to Josh's pleading eyes as he tried to explain and apologize for what happened. It was easier for her to have him think that she fine with everything that had happened, instead of making him feel overly guilty. He was dealing with enough right now. Josh needed concentrate on the issue and work instead of worrying if she was okay.

Donna looked over into Josh's office and saw him going over a document with Toby. The conversation looked intense and she didn't know if it was the topic or the chaos surrounding it. Why would someone lie and try to ruin another person's life? It would be one thing if there were a chance that it may be true but there was none. So maybe she had a crush on Josh when she worked for him, it isn't completely out of the range of possibility. However, if she did ever truly care for him why would she even consider ruining his life now? Was the woman bitter that he didn't return her affection?

 

How ironic is this mental debate?

Donna decided she had to keep it together and forget about anything she ever felt for Josh. Whether it was love or not, she couldn't take the chance of anyone finding out.

Donna sighed and looked around the office, it had become quiet and she noticed everyone was staring up at the television. Donna looked at it absently and then went back to her reading.

"Donna." She heard Maggie call to her from across the room. Donna looked up as the woman motioned to the television. Donna looked at it and saw her own face. She stood walking closer to hear what was being said.

* * *

...This latest White House scandal has everyone up in arms trying to discover the ultimate question. Who is this sex kitten known as Donna Moss?

Born in Madison Wisconsin she is the daughter of...

That was all Josh had to hear. He rushed out of the office and down the hall. Toby followed and as he turned the corner he ran into CJ.

"Josh..."

"CJ what..."

"I don't know!"

"How is this happening?" Josh asked struggling to hold back the rage that was welling in his chest.

"CJ!" Toby said as he joined them. CJ groaned and looked to Josh. "My office, now!"

"I will handle this, I promise." CJ offered as she walked across the bullpen and into Toby's office as he shut the door. Josh stood there silently and then turned walking back to his office. As he drew closer, he heard the chaos as the telephones began to ring off the hook. Josh saw Donna as she talked on the telephone telling whoever it was that there was no comment on the story. Donna hung up the telephone, looked up and saw Josh staring at her from the doorway of the office. She stepped back feeling overwhelmed and then turned leaving the pen.

 

Breathe...

She couldn't, she wanted to but it wasn't happening. Donna continued down the hall seeing CJ and Toby arguing as she neared the office. She felt her head rush with lack of oxygen and just as she almost lost it all, Sam pulled her into his office closing the door.

"Sit down." Sam said gently as he led her to the couch. "Just breathe..."

"I can't believe this is happening." Donna said as her thoughts and sanity slowly returned.

"Don't worry about that now..."

"Sam I..."

"It'll pass. They will get bored with the..."

"No it won't."

"Donna..."

"No it won't Sam! They have labeled me the sex kitten of the White House! It's the Inquirer's dream! They are going to dig and pry until they find something!"

"There's nothing to find, you haven't done anything wrong." Sam replied trying to ease her fears. Abruptly there was a knock on the door and Donna looked up seeing Toby and CJ walk into the office, closing the door behind them.

* * *

I should go after her but I can't, me feet are frozen to the ground in utter fear.

Fear of what?

How it will look?

What everyone will think?

That she hates me?

I would hate me, I got her into this mess, now it's her name, and face that is splattered all over the television, not mine.

Josh walked back into his office closing the door after him. He glanced at the television seeing her picture on the screen as the muted reporter spoke. Josh went and took a seat at his desk, leaning forward propping is head in his hands. He didn't know what to do. What could he do? As far as everyone else was concerned, he had done enough.

She hates me...

There was a knock on the door and Leo stepped into the office.

"Hey."

"Hey." Leo replied as he closed the door behind him.

"Have you heard anything?"

"Yeah."

"And?"

"And it is going to take at least another day before they can..."

"Leo..."

"Josh there's nothing we can do..."

"Can't we push it through? There has to be someone who can..."

"Considering the situation there is no one. It's public now and if we pull it from GW it is going to raise questions as to the validity of the results."

"Damn it!" Josh replied in frustration barely able to contain his rage.

"You're sure. There's no doubt?"

"Yes."

"Then don't stress over it, the results will come back when they come back and it will be over."

"Yeah." Josh replied as he turned staring out the window of the office. Leo noticed Josh's continued frustration and knew that it wasn't himself he was worried about. "Has she seen this?"

"How couldn't she? There are televisions everywhere."

"Have you talked to her?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I don't know..." Josh replied an edge of regret laying his voice. There was a long silence in the room as Leo debated his next words.

"This is what it would be like you know."

"What would be like?"

"Your life for a while."

"I don't understand."

"Josh, let me ask you something." Leo started as Josh turned toward him, listening intently. "What was the first thing you thought of after you heard the news about this whole Tiffany thing?"

"I was shocked and then I was trying to figure out how it would effect..."

"No Josh, what was the first thing you thought of?"

"I don't..."Josh replied in confusion.

"Think about it." Leo challenged as the younger man searched his mind for the correct answer.

"How I was going to tell Donna." Leo nodded as he watched Josh's expression of denial falter slightly. "Leo she is my assistant."

"Yes she is."

"There's nothing..."

"Just like there was nothing between my wife and I before we got married."

"Leo I don't know how you..."

"Josh I have the right impression, you are the one who is confused."

"Look I am not going to deny that things between Donna and I have changed but I don't think that this is the time to be..."

"Josh this is the perfect time."

"To what?"

"To give it a go."

"What?"

"The heat is on, better to take it now than later."

"Wait, so you are saying that I should move forward with Donna and our relationship, if that is what I wanted to do..."

"There is no if about it. You do."

"And how do you know this?"

"Josh I maybe an old man but I'm not blind."

"Okay fine, but why now?"

"Because it's already out there."

"So you are telling me to start a... relationship..." Josh replied as he processed the images flashing in his mind. "Based on the fact that the press already thinks we have one?"

"Not in so many words, but yes."

"Are you insane!"

"It's the only thing that has been holding you back right?"

"What?"

"The fear of what would happen if the press ever found out."

"I..."

"Josh." Leo said in a demanding tone with the fatherly look of knowing him better than he knew himself.

"Okay fine, but it still isn't a good reason."

"You've had a good reason for sometime now and you've been sitting on your ass. Now everyone thinks it's true so what do you have to lose?"

"Besides my sanity?"

"Oh please, you have been through worse than this, you went through an election didn't you?"

"How can I ask her to go through all of this crap? How can I expect her to deal with the reality of this life? This isn't a fairy tale, I can't put her on my horse and carry her off to my castle...no matter how much I want to."

"Donna knows that, she knows what this life is. Hell, she's been living it! You aren't asking her to do anything she hasn't already..."

"Because of me!" Josh exclaimed. "Everything she has had to deal with is because of me! Today, the scandal, Christmas, Rosselyn. All of it! All of the pain, worry and humiliation are because of me!"

"Where has she been Josh?" Leo countered. "Rosselyn, when we didn't know if you would live or die, she was there waiting. She was at your house everyday taking care of you, helping you recover, keeping you from working too much or not getting enough sleep. At Christmas she came to us for help, she was so scared for you she didn't know what to do! She sat next to you holding your hand, leading you through the pain. And now she is pushing you away to protect you from a mess..."

"Maybe it is better that way."

"For who? You?" Leo exclaimed. "Because you don't have to deal with the fact that you are in love with her and that it isn't neat and pretty? It isn't convenient? If it is complicated, uncomplicated it, because if you push her away or walk away from her you are going to regret it for the rest of your life. Wake up Josh, because if you think this is the nightmare, just wait until she's gone." Leo replied as he watched Josh comprehend the words. Josh sat down in his chair leaning back in contemplation.

"She deserves better than this Leo. She deserves more." Josh replied with hollow eyes.

"That may be true but she wants you."

"Why?"

"Damned if I know."

"The problem with this conversation is that it is based on the fact that Donna..."

"She does."

"She does?"

"Trust me."

"Right now I think she hates me."

"No she doesn't, she is trying to protect you because she thinks that is the best thing to do with things the way they are."

"Leo she doesn't deserve to be put through this, or that. It shouldn't be that hard."

"But it is, no matter who you are. There is always an obstacle, Josh. It's never easy, that's what makes it worth it in the end." Leo explained as he watched Josh try to absorb the information through his young thick skull. Suddenly there was a knock at the door and Carol opened it. Leo turned and left the office as Carol stepped in.

"Josh."

"Yeah?"

"CJ needs to see you in her office."

"Okay tell her I'll be right there." Josh replied and Carol closed the door leaving him alone.

* * *

"No answer?"

"No." Donna replied as she set the cell phone on the table.

"Is there any reason that you know of that she would do this? Did you fight? Was she jealous of something?"

"No, I mean she is out of work right now but..."

"How well do you know her Donna, are you two friends?" Sam asked.

"Not really, I barely see her. She is in and out and with the hours I work..." Donna replied suddenly becoming lost in her thoughts.

"What is it?"

"This morning she asked me to cover rent for her this month but I..." Donna started to explain. "Sam, she wouldn't have done it for the money would she?"

"I don't know you tell me, it sounds like a possibility." Sam replied as he watched his friend's face crumble in fear. "Donna how much does she know about your relationship with Josh?"

"Not that much...I mean I really don't tell her anything. Just tid bits of things that happen."

"Has Josh ever met her?"

"A few times when he has come over to work or after..." Donna replied. "I can't believe this is happening. This is all my fault."

"Donna it's okay, from what you have told me so far, Kelly knows bits and pieces and that means there are holes in her continuity of events. Anything that is said will be either hear say or just made up."

"But Josh..."

"Josh can get through this." Sam replied in reassurance to her. Even with her face being the main source of media slander, Donna was worried about Josh. "Can you?"

"Yes...I mean..." Donna replied. "I don't have much choice in the matter do I?"

"No I guess you don't."

"Not unless I were to leave."

"What do you mean?"

"Just what I said, I could leave."

"Why would you do that?" Sam replied in confusion and shock at what he thought she was suggesting. "Donna you can't..."

"It would protect him wouldn't it? I mean if I left then the whole thing would disappear after a while and there wouldn't be..."

"Donna you can't leave..."

"Sam I don't..."

"Listen to me. I don't know what is going on in your head right now and I know that you are upset." Sam said as he looked into Donna's fear filled eyes. "I need you to trust me right now. You can't leave Donna, you would be doing more harm than good." Sam replied with the utmost intensity and sincerity she had ever heard from him.

"CJ was going to tell him right?" Donna replied after a moment of silence, as she swallowed Sam's plea to her.

"Yeah, she should be telling him right now."

* * *

"What's up?" Josh said as he walked into CJ's office and she closed the door after him.

"I don't want you to flip out on me okay, I am just warning you a head of time."

"What's going on?" Josh asked his mouth suddenly becoming dry.

"Obviously the press is going to come after you until we get the results from the lab. But I have been keeping my ears open and well..."

"What?"

"There is going to be a story about Donna."

"Another one?"

"Her roommate has apparently come forward with intimate details of your relationship."

"What?" Josh exclaimed, his panic and rage apparent. "Does she know?"

"Yes, I just got done telling her."

"Where is she?"

"Sam took her down to the mess..."

"CJ you can't..."

"There's nothing I can do."

"How bad is it?"

"I don't know, but I have a few favors called in and I should know before it breaks." CJ replied.

"Why can't they just leave her out of this! It has nothing to do with..."

"That's not the way it works Josh, you know that."

"But that's the way it should work!" Josh replied in frustration. "What's the point of trying to control the press if we can't even..."

"Josh..."

"I know, that's just the way it is..." Josh replied as he turned to leave the room.

"Josh..."

"There's more?"

"Yeah."

"What?" Josh snapped as he turned back to her.

"There's a leak." CJ replied with hesitation.

"Where?"

"Inside, I am working on finding out who it is."

"So?"

"So I need you and Donna to..."

"CJ..."

"Look I know this sucks, but this bonfire has turned into a wild fire. I can't have it spread any further if you expect me to extinguish it!" CJ replied finally losing her patience with him. "I just need you to stay in plain view and watch yourselves."

"Fine." Josh replied in an icy tone. "Is that it?"

"Yeah." CJ finished as he walked out of the room. "Josh."

"What?"

"You'll get through this."

"It's not me I'm worried about."

* * *

"Sir, Charlie said you wanted to speak with me?" Leo said as he entered the Oval office. The President was sitting at his desk reading over a document.

"I just got back from a horrendous meeting with the ambassador of China, now there is a man worth having analyzed by the CIA."

"Yes sir."

"But that is not what disturbed me, what disturbed me was that as I walked from the Mural room to my office I saw Donna's picture and talk of a White House sex kitten?"

"Yes sir."

"Is that all you have to say?"

"Sir it is being taken care of."

"What is being taken care of?"

"Donna's current image as a sex kitten."

"And how exactly did she obtain such an illustrious status?"

"It is a long story sir but it is being taken care of."

"Does it have anything to do with Josh?"

"Yes sir."

"When is that boy going to get his head out of his ass?"

"Hopefully soon sir."

"Do I want to ask for the details?"

"No sir."

"Okay then I won't."

"Thank you sir."

"Is it going to hurt us?"

"No sir, it should be over in a few days."

"Good, see that it is. While I am fond of Donna I don't agree with her current status."

"Yes sir."

"Reminds me too much of Marilyn Monroe." The President replied as he went back to the paperwork on his desk. "That's all Leo."

"Thank you Mr. President."

* * *

"Josh."

"Toby."

"What are you doing?"

"Going to the mess to find Sam."

"Sam is with Donna."

"Yes I am aware of that fact Toby. Is there something wrong with me going to the mess to find Sam?"

"No I just want you to be aware..."

"Toby I just finished this conversation with CJ."

"Then let me reiterate the fact that it isn't wise for you to..."

"Why is everyone acting like there is something to hide?"

"Josh..."

"No, this really has me puzzled." Josh replied his voice raising slightly. "I am going to find Sam in the mess. Donna may happen to be there. Donna is my assistant. I work a minimum of fifteen hours a day with her. I may have to talk with her now and then. Maybe even in this instance. Why is this such a huge problem all of a sudden?" Taking him by the arm, Toby pulled Josh into an empty conference room shutting the door. "We haven't done anything wrong Toby, you know that!"

"It doesn't matter what I know or anyone else in this building knows, Josh. It matter what is said out there!"

"That's..."

"Yes it is bullshit but that's the way it is. Maybe if you would get your head out of your ass you would realize that this isn't about you anymore!"

"Toby I..."

"Your indiscretions seven years ago are gone, blood test or not." Toby argued. "It's not your name that is in every anchor man's dialogue, it's Donna's. These lectures aren't to inconvenience you or even say that you did anything wrong. They are to protect her from this monster."

"I under..." Josh tried to protest but Toby quickly cut him off again.

"What is she going to do, Josh, once we leave office?" Toby asked with piercing eyes. "She is going to look for a job. A job outside of this arena, in the real world where there is no protection. As it stands now she is going to walk into that job wearing a sign that says floozy and whore!"

"That's not..."

"Yes it is, unless you cooperate and let us fix this and fix it now!" Toby continued with an intense rage. "So walk down there with a marriage proposal or don't walk down there at all. Because if you walk down there with nothing but a smile and a funny story you aren't going to hurt us at all, you are going to hurt her!" Josh stood quietly as Toby watched him for some kind of response. "Josh I'm not saying that you have any reason to be ashamed of your relationship with Donna, in fact I think you should cherish it. I am just saying if you aren't sure, let us get her through this first and then decide what you want."

Toby looked away and walked out of the conference room leaving Josh alone again.

* * *

"He can't leave."

"He is."

"Leo he is walking into a lions den, as soon as he leaves the building there is going to be a traffic jam because of the caravan of press following."

"He has to."

"Why?"

"So that Parson's is clear that we aren't going to hide behind this and let the initiative drop into the hands of the republicans."

"I understand that but does it have to be today, I mean we..."

"Parson's called an emergency meeting of the CAC. Which means he is already making plans, we have to step in now."

"When are they going?"

"They had to be there at three."

"Nice of you to fill me in..." CJ replied sarcastically as she looked at her watch and saw it was quarter after three.

"There wasn't a lot of time." Leo replied brushing her off.

"You know Leo if you expect me to work miracles here you are going to have to keep me in the loop."

"You can handle it."

"Yeah."

"CJ you aren't..."

"Fine, whatever...Is there anything else I should know?"

"Yeah."

"What." CJ replied watching his expression carefully. "Are you going to tell me now or are you going to leave me standing here until channel six broadcasts it?"

"No," Leo started as he motioned CJ to close the door. She did and turned back to him. "Do you remember when I asked you to send out some feelers after Rosselyn to gage the reaction of..."

"You didn't."

"Yes, I did. Or at least I mentioned it."

"To who?"

"Josh."

"What did he say?"

"He was pretty unconvinced but the possibility is definitely there. He doesn't think that the price is worth paying."

"Yeah well that's a tough call."

"What do you think?"

"I think that if it happens it should happen now while it's already out there, but the odds of either of them stepping forward and admitting their feelings in the face of all of this chaos are 100 to one."

"What's the problem?"

"What isn't the problem?" CJ replied as she sat down on the couch. "Josh is so politically focused denial of actual emotion is easy, and Donna is so scared of ruining Josh's career that she is acting like there is nothing going on at all. After everything that has happened today she is pushing herself as far away from him as possible, just to protect him." Suddenly there was a knock on the door and CJ turned as Margaret walked in.

"I'm sorry Leo, but CJ there is a call for you."

"Who is it?"

"Kelly Linden?"

"Thanks Margaret." CJ replied as she quickly rose from the couch.

"Who's that?"

"Donna's roommate."

"The one who is giving the interview?"

"Yeah."

"Let me know."

* * *

Josh walked into the main office for Congressman Albert Parsons and was immediately greeted by his snotty and uptight secretary. Toby stood at his side as they made their presence known.

"Hello Mr. Lyman, Mr. Zeigler, can I help you?"

"Yeah we here to see Congressman Parsons."

"He is in a meeting right now would you like to make an appointment to come back?"

"No, what we are here about is that particular meeting, so if you wouldn't mind just showing us in"

"I'm sorry but the meeting Mr. Parsons is currently..."

"Okay fine, we'll show ourselves in." Toby replied pushing her out of the way as they walked right into the conference room where the gathering was being held. "Gentleman."

"Sorry we're late." Josh added as he threw his backpack on the table. "You know how hectic traffic can be this time of day. What with the zoo in tow."

Josh threw that little morsel toward not only Parson's but also Callhoun who'd had some recent media play involving his wife and his mistress of ten years. The room was silent all eyes on Josh and Toby and then turning to Parsons.

"So what did we miss?"

"Nothing considering that you weren't invited."

"Yeah we were curious, why was that?"

"Frankly we didn't feel with your current situation that you would have time to..."

"What situation?"

"Josh, you must have seen the news." Billings commented.

"Oh that. Well they really come out of the woodwork don't they. Don't worry it is being taken care of."

"Really?" Parsons rebutted.

"Yes. As a matter of fact." Josh replied with an amused smile. "So any thoughts of having Russell step in is unnecessary. I am here and ready to negotiate."

"Do you really think it is wise to bring such a sludge of negative press with you to the closing of this bill."

"As Mr. Lyman expressed it has been taken care of, and the commission I'm sure will show full support in his abilities as the Deputy Chief of Staff as well as White House lead of this commission." Toby reminded.

"Well Josh, since you are here we were wondering about the President's stance on a seven percent increase instead of a five." Wailand challenged.

"You have the votes?"

"We..."

"You get Mallard, Willis and Arquette off the fence and the President will be happy to give you seven. Otherwise we stay at five."

"With what incentives?"

"Cleaner air for the American people."

"That's not..."

"Then I guess you will have to be satisfied with five."

"Josh, I really don't think you are in any position to tell me..."

"In fact I am. I was given the title of lead for the White House in the Clean Air Commission, and that is the way it stands. If you have a problem with it please feel free to take it up with my boss." Josh replied with an edge of sarcasm. "So what else is on the agenda for today?"

The room remained quiet.

"Alright then, I think my work here is done. I want to thank you all for your overwhelming support with the commission and I hope to see you all in the very near future." Josh said with a smile as he stood and opened his backpack throwing down a document to Parsons. "Here are the stats just in case you didn't get them. It is a ground breaking bipartisan bill and will pass at five. I'll see you at the victory party in the Roosevelt room in two weeks." Josh turned with Toby and walked out of the conference room. They left the office and Josh took a deep breath as they were faced with a mob of reporters. He jumped into the car and tore off.

"He called your bluff."

"And I kept a poker face."

"You did good."

"Let's just hope I was as convincing as we thought I was."

"It bought us some time at least."

"Yeah well, if I ever get Parsons alone he'll be lucky if I don't rip his head off for this mess."

"Call me if you need a witness."

"Thanks I will." Josh replied with a chuckle.

 

* * *

"You talked to her?"

"Yes."

"What did she say?"

"She said that she felt it was her responsibility to come forward with the information."

"What?" Donna exclaimed.

"She said that the burden of having to hide your relationship with Josh was too much and she was just trying to protect you."

"CJ..."

"What did you expect her to say?"

"The truth!"

"Well that isn't what happened."

"So she is still going to do the interview?"

"Yes, she will be on Hard Copy tonight at eight."

"I can't believe this."

"Well believe it because it is happening."

"What do I do?"

"Get a new roommate." CJ commented and then felt bad because Donna didn't seem at all amused. "It doesn't matter, let her tell them whatever she wants, it will be..."

"Why does everyone keep saying that? It does matter!"

"Donna..."

"You can't tell me it doesn't because Josh is defending his position with the CAC right now! What's next a sexual harassment inquiry?"

"Josh can take care of himself. All of this will blow over."

"And then what?" Donna asked stark fear in her eyes.

"What do you mean?"

"What if..."

"Donna what?"

"Nothing..." Donna quickly answered as she turned to leave the office. "Thanks for trying CJ. I'll see you later."

CJ watched Donna leave and wondered what was bothering her. Was she unnerved by the media attention or was she just worried about Josh? What ever it was, CJ hoped that she kept it together. She would, she was strong. One of the strongest women she had ever known. It must be hard to have to hide behind a desk and a White House badge just to be close to the person you love.

CJ had known for months of Donna's feelings for Josh, but not because of anything Donna had ever done. It was pure women's intuition but she knew she wasn't wrong. Josh had the same feelings; his were easier to see. The way he was always very protective of her and giving her a hard time about the men she dated. Their endless banter and his playful nagging at her. Hopefully one of them would come to their senses and admit their mutual affection before it was too late.

* * *

Josh returned to his office finding it empty. There was a note on his desk from Donna saying that CJ had need to see her and she would return as soon as she was done. Josh sat down at his desk and went back to the stacks of files in front of him.

* * *

Donna walked back to her desk and began stacking and restocking reports that she had gone through. She was frustrated and scared, not knowing what could possibly happen next. She turned seeing Josh sitting quietly in his office reading something and debated about whether or not go in. This was ridiculous! She was his assistant she couldn't avoid talking to him forever.

Donna finished the report she was fiddling with and walked into Josh's office, she wanted to turn around to see if anyone was watching her but refused to, she wouldn't be afraid of something that she hadn't done.

Be strong Donna, just act like nothing is going on, everything is fine and you are just going into your boss's office to see if he needs anything...

I'm such a bad liar, even to myself.

* * *

Donna returned from CJ's office walking in quietly. Josh didn't look up from what he was supposed to be reading afraid she would see through his rouge. He saw her hand him a folder out of the corner of his eye and reached up for it still keeping his eyes on the document in front of him. His hand wrapped around Donna's and they both froze a moment lost in the warmth of the meeting. Josh looked up at her and Donna quickly pulled away. "You want a soda?"

"Yeah, that would be great." Josh replied as he watched her nod and leave the office. Donna returned with two cold soda's and began filing some items in the center drawer of the back cabinet. Donna finished quickly and turned to leave the office.

 

I hate this...

"Donna?"

Thank god, he said something...

"Yeah?"

"What are you doing?"

"The schedule for this month. Why?"

"I just..." Josh started his eyes pleading to her silently. "Are you almost done in there because I could really use your help."

"Yeah, let me just finish up. I'll be done in a few minutes." She replied as she left the office.

Josh began sorting through the files on his desk and Donna appeared soon after and began to help him. They worked silently and it was driving Josh crazy, he longed to hear her voice, a useless fact, her scolding him for being so unorganized.

Something...

Anything...

He had to know that she didn't completely hate him. Josh decided to take the direct approach.

"Donna have you seen the notes from the eighteenth?"

"The ones on drilling in Alaska?"

"Yeah." Josh replied as she turned silently and started sifting through the files stacked behind her on the credenza. She settled on one file and stepped forward handing it to him.

"Thanks." Josh replied as she went back to her stack.

They continued working silently until the noise coming from the outer hall began to filter in and Josh wanted to close the door but knew he couldn't. The silence between them was killing him, he couldn't keep...

"Donna..." Josh said in overwhelming frustration. "I can't work like this..."

"What's wrong?"

"You are sitting there...working and I just..." Josh exclaimed as he lost the words within the emotions. He suddenly remembered Toby's scolding earlier and stood from the desk. "I need to go do something, I'll be back."

"Okay." Donna replied as she watched him leave the office. She sat there staring at the floor unable to breathe, her heart breaking.

God, please help me...I don't know how much longer I can do this...

* * *

Josh walked down the corridor and into the Sam's office taking a seat in the chair across from him as Sam continued to read at his desk.

"How's it going?"

"I'm getting there. You?"

"Awful."

"Why?"

"It's this thing, I feel like I am paralyzed."

"Josh..."

"Did Donna say anything to you about what is going on because she hasn't said anything to me." Josh replied beginning to ramble. "We have been sitting in my office for the past hour working in complete silence. Nothing, I mean it's like we are afraid to talk to each other."

"You are."

"Why?"

"Because you are under a microscope and when you guys talk normally it's like..."

"Like what?"

"Foreplay."

"Foreplay?"

"Yeah."

"Are you sure that is the word..."

"Yeah." Sam replied as he went back to his reading. Josh sat silently chewing on the comment.

"Sam can I ask you a question."

Sam replied by turning in his chair adding a file to the pile of folders behind him on the floor, and then giving Josh his full attention.

"Do Donna and I..."

"Yes." Sam replied quickly.

"I didn't even finish the question."

"Do I think she is the best thing to ever happen to you? Is there a sense of something more between you? Is there sexual tension? Is there a possibility of a lasting relationship beyond the office?" Sam rattled off, as he looked Josh dead in the eye. "Do I think that you are stupid for not having jumped on the opportunity yet? Do I think that you have a chance to make a life together? And do I think that you should tell her how you feel?"

"Please Sam, don't hold back."

"I didn't think you wanted me to." Sam replied as he stood up walking over to the pile of folders on the table.

"Have you always thought that?"

"Yeah."

"So why didn't you tell me?"

"You weren't ready to hear it yet."

"Am I ready now?"

"I don't know, are you?"

"It's complicated."

"It's only as complicated as you make it."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Just what I said."

"Sam, you know that there is more..."

"Look, maybe I am not the best person to be talking to about this." Sam quickly interjected as he stood up and walked over to the filing cabinet.

"Why not."

"Just because."

"Sam if I can't talk to you who can I talk to? Why can't..."

"Because I am... jealous."

"Jealous? Jealous of what?" Josh asked shocked by the man's statement.

"For the past four years I have watched you struggle back and forth with your feelings for Donna and I just happen to think you are an idiot for it."

"What?"

"When I picked up Donna downtown today I saw the look of fear on her face. When I sat in the mess with her talking about the expose, she was so worried she could cry."

"Sam she was upset..."

"No, she wasn't upset about what happened. She wasn't afraid of the media and what they could do to her life. She was worried and afraid for you! The effect it was going to have on you! She was going to throw everything away for you!" Sam explained with an undeniable intensity that Josh couldn't ignore.

"Sam I..."

"Josh, do you even realize what you have? Do you see that this woman is willing to put her life and sanity on the line for you? Any sane man would give...I would give anything to have a woman look at me the way she looks at you, to have someone protect me the way she protects you!" Sam replied fiercely as there was a knock on the door. They both looked up and watched as Toby walked into the office.

"We have a problem."

* * *

The story broke ten minutes later and Josh didn't get there in time. He found Donna standing in his office staring at the television. Her face was pale and her body rigid.

"So you are saying that she left you to be with him?"

"Absolutely, she seemed obsessed with him, she couldn't stop talking about him."

"Did you confront her with your suspicions?"

"Yes, I tried to get her to see that he was just using her but she wouldn't listen. She said that he needed her and that she was going to be with him whether I liked it or not."

"Have you talked with her since that day doctor?"

"No, I have tried to get in touch with her several times both at work and at home, but everytime I've called he answers the phone. He tells me to leave her alone, that he is her boss both personally and professionally."

"Do you still love her doctor?"

"Yes, very much, I just wish..." The man tried to say as his voice became cracked and emotional. "I just hope that with this new information coming to light about Deputy Lyman's past indiscretions that she will finally see the truth."

"Donna..." Josh tried to say as she finally turned away from the television and looked at him in confusion. She turned away and then saw everyone in the pen staring into the office. She stepped back and then walked silently out of the room. Josh just watched helplessly as she left. The pen saw him look out at them and quickly got back to work.

Donna walked. She didn't know where she was going or why, she just walked. Suddenly she woke from her confused state and found herself outside. She leaned heavily against the outer wall of the building and fought to hold back the angry tears that threatened to overwhelm her. Her head was spinning and she couldn't see anything but the image of that man telling lies about her and why their relationship had ended. Suddenly the door behind her opened and she jumped as Josh walked out. She turned away from him not wanting him to see her emotional state.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine." Donna replied finally turning to face him "Josh you really shouldn't..."

"I don't care."

"Josh don't do this." Donna replied her eyes pleading with him.

"What am I doing?" Josh asked as he stared back at her, the moment seemed to last an eternity as she tried to tell him everything she was feeling with her eyes.

"Nothing." Donna replied as she began to walk past him back into the building.

"Donna I..."

"Josh I'm fine." Donna snapped. "Just...leave it."

She continued past him and walked silently back into the building.

* * *

The rest of the day went by uneventful and silent. Donna hadn't said a word to anyone since the interview with Dr. Freeride. If she was half as pissed off about the fact that he had the audacity to come forward with an interview as Josh was, she was beyond certifiable.

CJ arranged for Donna's car to be picked up from the pizzeria and brought to the White House but insisted that she take an unmarked car to the hotel where she would be staying for the night. Josh had desperately wanted to talk to her and tell her everything was going to work out but couldn't. She made it very clear that she didn't want to be anywhere near him right now and he didn't blame her. With Donna gone for the night Josh finished what he was doing as Sam appeared in his doorway.

"Hey."

"Hey."

"Rough day."

"No kidding."

"Did you get a chance to talk to her?"

"No."

"Why don't you call her when you get to the hotel?"

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"CJ made sure I didn't know where she is staying and that leaves me without a phone number."

"Ouch."

"Yeah."

"I'm sure she'll give you number if..."

"Not likely."

"What?" Leo asked as he entered the doorway.

"Josh wants to call Donna and talk but CJ won't give him the number."

"I have it."

"You do?"

"Yeah."

"And..."

"Do you want it?"

"Yeah."

"Here." Leo said as he pulled a piece of paper out of his briefcase. "But you didn't get it from me."

"Thanks Leo."

"Don't screw up."

"I won't."

"Nite."

"Nite, Leo."

"You want a ride?"

"Nah, CJ has a car ready to go."

"Okay, if you need anything call me."

"Thanks Sam."

"Nite."

"Nite Sam."

Josh leaned back in his chair as he picked up the piece of paper Leo had handed him. He stared at it contemplating and then finally picked up the telephone.

"Washington Whindam, may I help you?"

"Yes I would like to speak with Donna Moss." Josh replied as he heard the woman on the other end of the telephone typing.

"I don't have anyone registered by that name sir."

"Oh...I..." Josh fumbled as he looked over the paper finding the name CJ had used. "I'm sorry, it's been a long day. Angela Marks please."

"Yes sir." The woman replied as Josh heard the sound of typing again. "I'm sorry sir, Ms. Marks is currently unavailable can I take a message?"

"No, thank you."

"Have a nice night."

"Thank you." Josh replied as he hung up the telephone and leaned back again. Figures CJ would have a block on Donna's telephone. Josh sat a moment debating what to do next and decided to head out to his own hotel.

He closed up the office and headed down to the car that was waiting at the side entrance. It drove him through the darkened streets and Josh's mind buzzed back and forth between both his conversations with Leo and with Sam. Was he just being a coward by not admitting his feelings?

I'm so scared that the way that I feel,
Is written all over my face,
When you walk into the room I wanna find a hiding place,

His mind went back to old memories of conversations and laughter. Of Donna, bringing him food and him complaining it was cold after he had let it sit for hours.

The sight of her first thing in the morning, her bright smile and unending imagination bursting with ideas and information, just waiting for the moment to be let free on to his helpless ears.

We used to laugh, we used to hug,
The way that old friends do,
But now a smile and a touch of your hand,
Just make me come unglued,

They way her hair always smelled of light berries, the way her eyes shine at his brilliant arrogance.

It's such a contradiction, do I lie or tell the truth,
Is it fact or fiction the way I feel for you.

Her waiting for him in the main hall after an important meeting. Standing beside him as they listened to the President tell another fact filled story of democracy.

It's so complicated, I'm so frustrated,
I wanna hold you close, I wanna push you away,
I wanna make you go, I wanna make you stay,

Her taking a swig of his beer or wearing his T-shirt because the rain had soaked hers. Her insisting that she won't get him coffee unless she is getting it for herself, but scolds him for not eating lunch.

Should I say it, should I tell you how I feel,
Oh, I want you to know,
But then again I don't,
It's so complicated...

This was real what he was feeling; he'd never been so afraid of anything in his whole life. But what was he more scared of? The obstacles of moving forward or the pains of letting his feelings continue to go unsaid? He couldn't have it both ways, it couldn't stay like this, it had gone too far.

 

Just when I think I'm under control,

I think I finally got a grip,

Another friend tells me that,

My name is always on your lips,

They say I'm more than just a friend,

They say I must be blind,

Did she feel the same way or was she just being a good friend? Where was the line? Or had they already crossed it and not realized it yet?

 

Well I admit that I've seen you watch me,

From the corner of your eye,

Oh it's so confusing I wish you'd just confess,

But think of what I'd be losing,

If your answer wasn't yes...

His heart darkened as he remembered the day that had just passed, her looks of uncertainty and pain. How could he ask her to walk with him through this unending nightmare?

 

I hate it 'cause I've waited so long for someone like you,

Should I say it,

Should I tell you how I feel,

Oh I want you to know,

But then again I don't,

It's so complicated.

The car stopped and Josh got out and walked into the hotel. His mind still numbed by the relentless pulling of his own heart. He stopped at the desk and mumbled the name on the reservation. The desk clerk disappeared and he looked around the hotel. There were televisions everywhere and he turned away wanting to break them all.

"Here you are sir."

Josh looked up taking the key from her and caught sight of Donna's car on the television. It showed the inside of the car and then the reporter held up a name brand pregnancy test and kept talking. Josh stopped and then quickly turned running out the door.

* * *

Donna looked over the contents of the package carefully, closed the lid setting it down in on the desk "It's perfect."

"I am glad you are pleased."

"How much do I owe you Adam?"

"One fifty."

"Okay" Donna replied as she began writing a check.

"I hope he is as excited about it as you are."

"So do I." Donna replied with a smile as she handed him the check. Adam smiled back to her and opened the door of the room to leave. Donna bid him farewell and closed the door when suddenly there was a knock. She turned and opened the door with a smile thinking that Adam had forgotten something.

"Did you..." Donna started and then

"Hi."

"What are you doing here?"

"Who's he?" Josh said not answering her question, motioning to Adam as he disappeared into the elevator.

"A friend." Donna replied uncomfortably. "Josh you can't..."

"CJ told you not to talk with anyone."

"CJ told you not to come here." Donna shot back to him as she turned allowing him to walk into the room.

Josh started walking around the room as if inspecting it, Donna watched him curiously, wondering what he was thinking.

"Josh what's gong on?"

"Nothing."

"Then why did you come here?"

"Donna I..." Josh started as he looked away again. "Donna I know you are in trouble and I just want to help."

"Josh we can't talk about this now, I am fine. You..." Donna pleaded as she continued watching him pace the room.

"Donna I know you're..."

"I'm what?" Donna asked becoming frustrated with the conversation "Josh what is going on?"

"Pregnant."

"What?"

""I know it's none of my business but if you're in trouble..."

"Josh..."

"I know I can be hot headed and I promise I won't kill the guy I just..."

"Is that why you came here?"

"Donna I know that you are upset, and with everything else I can understand why you didn't want to..."

"Josh..." Donna said, as she looked at him in utter shock.

"We can get through this together, I will help you however I can and..."

"JOSH STOP!" Donna exclaimed. Josh became silent as he finally saw her furious expression." Not that it is any of your business but I got my period last week."

"You did? But they found a pregnancy test..."

"Who's they?"

"The news."

"Really?"

"Yeah..."

"And after everything that has happened today you automatically assume that it is true?" Donna flared.

"I didn't say..."

"Yes you did!"

"Donna I...

"The test was for Maggie."

"It was..."

"Yes."

"Is she?"

"No."

"I just thought...and when you gave CJ the bottle of Midol."

"I know what you thought Joshua. What is with you keeping track of my cycles? Do you have it marked on your calendar?" Donna exclaimed in frustration and embarrassment as Josh shrugged his shoulders further revealing his guilt. "I don't believe this!"

"I was just..."

"Josh you can't..." Donna replied turning away from him.

"How long are you going to do this?"

"What?"

"Punish me."

"I'm not punishing you."

"This is the first conversation we have had all day, what's going on? Donna you have to talk to me!"

Donna stood quietly acting as if his words were falling on deaf ears. The frustration in Josh's chest felt like it was going to burst.

"Donna answer me!" Josh yelled.

"Why?" Donna exclaimed as she turned in defiance. "Why should I? Because you are my boss?"

"No!"

"Then why?"

"Donna if you would just listen..."

"No you listen!" Donna exclaimed. "Within twenty four hours I have been exiled from my house, attacked by reporters, lied to, yelled at and accused of sleeping with my boss. On top of all that, you come here with a fist full of accusations about me being pregnant! Wasn't a single pregnancy scare enough for one day Josh?"

"I'm sorry I didn't..."

"Yes you did!"

"Donna I'm sorry." Josh pleaded as he watched her contemplate his plea. She took a deep breath and sat down in the chair.

"I'm not punishing you." Donna replied softly. "I just..."

"What?" Josh said taking a step closer to her, feeling like she was finally opening up to him.

"Josh I..." Donna said with fear filled eyes.

"Donna what is it?"

"I'm scared."

"Of what?" Josh asked gently. "Nothing is going to hurt you Donna, I wouldn't let it."

"That's the problem." Donna replied shortly.

"I don't understand."

"Josh you are so worried about what is happening with me that you are forgetting about..." Donna started as she saw his eyes full of concern and confusion. "You are forgetting that I am just your assistant."

"Donna..."

"Josh I am. And all of this publicity that I am more than that is going to hurt you."

"It's not..."

"Yes it is."

"How?"

"Because it will."

"Donna no it won't. CJ is taking care of it. It'll pass."

"What if it doesn't?"

"It will."

"You don't know that!" Donna replied her voice rising in frustration again.

"Yes I do!"

"But they'll dig and hound..."

"What is it that you are afraid that they will find?"

"I..." Donna replied as she stood flustered by the question.

"Donna what is it that you don't want them to see?"

"Nothing."

"Donna..."

"Josh you need to go." Donna said trying to stop the momentum of the conversation.

"I'm not leaving."

"You have to."

"No I don't."

"Josh..."

"Screw it!" Josh exclaimed. "I'm not leaving until you tell me what you are scared of."

"I told you."

"No you didn't."

"Yes..."

"There's more to this Donna, and I want to know what it is.'

"Josh..."

"Stop lying to me!"

"I'm not lying to you!"

"Yes you are!" Josh exclaimed. "Is this what we have come to? Secrets and lies about..."

"You're the one who lied to me Joshua!"

"Because I had to, not because I wanted to. There is a difference!"

"That's right Josh, hide behind CJ like the emotionless political machine you

are!"

"At least I am honest about the way things are, I don't throw out emotions where they don't belong!" Josh replied in fury. As the words left his lips he actually heard them and winced. He watched Donna's face crumble in pain and then rage as he stepped forward reaching out to her.

"Fine Joshua, you want to know what I am scared of?" Donna exclaimed as her eyes filled with tears. "I'm afraid that they are going to dig and I won't be able to hide...I just..."

"Donna there is nothing that..."

 

"Yes there is!" Donna exclaimed. "I'm scared that if they look close enough, they are going to see that I'm in love with you!"

Josh stood silently, not knowing what to say in response.

"I just don't want to ruin your life..." Donna whispered as she sat down on the bed, pushing away the tears streaming down her face.

Josh was still speechless; he had imagined it a million times. How she would say it, out of the blue and how he would react. It was never like this. He never imagined her crying and feeling guilty for having said it. Suddenly his cell phone rang and he pulled it out of his coat.

"Lyman." Josh said as he answered, his eyes were focused on Donna as she sat quietly on the edge of the bed trying to hold back the tears that relentlessly fell down her cheeks. He could hear someone talking on the other end of the telephone but he wasn't listening.

She loved him...

His heart raced and he couldn't hold it back anymore. He hung up the telephone and dropped it to the floor. He walked forward slowly as he watched her wipe the tears off her cheek. He knelt down breathlessly in front of her.

"You love me?" He whispered looking up into her turquoise eyes.

"Yes." She whispered back the tears falling faster now.

Josh stared at her a moment and then his hand went to her delicate face. He touched her cheek hesitantly as if she was going to disappear. He seared every inch of her face at this moment into his mind.

She loved him....

Josh raised his other hand framing her face within his hands. Her tears continued to fall and he pulled her to him touching her lips to his with a fevered passion fueled by months of longing and denial. They quickly got lost in each other, treasuring the feel of the other's tender touch.

Josh's cell phone began to ring again and he groaned within the embrace. Donna finally pulled away looking at him.

"Damn it!"

"Josh..."

"I know..." Josh rolled to the edge of the bed and reached down picking up the telephone.

"Lyman." He said as he rolled back over lying on his back as he watched Donna get off the bed and walk to the television. She turned it on and flipped it to CNN.

"Josh where are you?" Toby asked.

"I'm..."

"Josh..." Donna said quietly, trying to get his attention.

"Never mind. Turn on CNN."

"I just..." Josh replied sitting up and looking to the television. He saw his hotel on the screen surrounded by police and Media. "What the hell is going on?"

"Where are you?"

"Donna's hotel."

"We'll be right there."

Josh hung up the telephone as Donna turned up the volume. She sat just in front of him, a little to the side. Josh wrapped an encircling arm around her neck pulling her gently against him as they listened to the news story unfold.

* * *

"What the hell was he doing here?"

"I don't know but it's a good thing he was." CJ replied as she and Toby got into the elevator.

"Yeah."

They got off the elevator and walked to Donna's room knocking on the door. In a minute the door opened and Josh appeared. He stepped aside letting them in. Donna was seated on the bed across from the television and Josh quickly closed the door.

"How did she find out where I was?"

"I don't know."

"What happened?"

"Apparently Tiffany was coming to talk to you and Parsons followed her to the hotel."

"Why?"

"We don't know but he caught up with her, there were words exchanged in the hallway outside your room and then she..." CJ explained.

"Shot him."

"Why?" Donna asked.

"Again, we don't know." Toby replied. "But hopefully we are going to find out."

"How?"

"He wants to see you."

"Parsons?"

"Yes."

"He has refused to give anyone including the police a statement about what happened until he speaks with you."

"So I need to go down and talk to him?"

"Yes."

"Now."

"Now."

"Okay." Josh replied as he pulled on his jacket and picked up Donna's coat off the chair.

"Donna I think it would be best if you stay here." CJ said gently as she looked first to Josh and then Donna.

"Why?"

"Because there will be press there and it won't look good if you arrive together this late at night."

"CJ..." Josh began to protest as Donna put a hand on his arm.

"It's okay. I'm exhausted anyway." Donna offered to Josh and he looked at her in regret. "Go, just call me if you find out anything."

"Okay, I will." Josh replied it took everything in him not to kiss her before he left, and tell her not to worry that he would be back soon. Instead he took a deep breath and left the hotel room with CJ and Toby.

They arrived in the hospital half an hour later and were escorted to the recovery wing. As they walked through the halls, an icy chill ran up Josh back as he remembered the familiar surroundings. CJ asked the nurse what room Parsons was in and they followed her to it waiting just outside the door as she disappeared within.

"What do you think he wants to talk to me about?"

"Hopefully Tiffany Buesen." CJ replied as she began to pace.

The nurse reemerged from the room and walked out to them.

"Mr. Lyman?" The nurse asked and Josh looked up nodding his head in acknowledgment. "You can see him now."

"Thank you." Josh replied as he moved forward pushing open the door of the room. He stepped into the room not entirely knowing what to expect. The news hadn't given the details of the Congressman's injuries and Josh didn't know if the wound was life threatening or not. He assumed considering the relaxed atmosphere of the surroundings, it wasn't. Josh walked to the edge of the bed looking over the Congressman as he lay still with his eyes closed. His right shoulder was heavily bandaged and there were monitors surrounding the bed but nothing to invasive.

"Deputy Lyman."

"Yes sir."

"Thank you for coming."

"Yes sir."

"I wanted you to hear this from me before the rest of the world. I owed you that much." Parsons said as he opened his eyes and looked at Josh.

"What is it?"

"I have been in this town a long time and when you have been here a while you get lost in the shouting. I needed to be heard and this was the only way it was going to happen. I am not using it as an excuse I am just explaining..."

"I understand sir."

"Josh I am the one who told Tiffany to come forward with the claim that you were the father of her son Tyler."

"Why?"

"A million selfish reasons. None of them mattered to anyone but me. The truth is Tiffany was threatening to come forward and I needed to pacify her...I..."

"You are Tyler's father aren't you?" Josh asked as it began to make sense.

"Yes I am."

"And Tiffany threatened to tell me and that's why you followed her to my hotel and..."

"It's not her fault Josh, it was all me." Parsons explained as Josh ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. "I am going to take full responsibility for the entire incident and I apologize for any..."

"Sir, pardon me for being blunt but you are part of the reason that this town is so littered with corruption, misdirection and lies. Because of people like you innocent victims of this media frenzy you created are persecuted and berated for being human and not perfect! I don't accept you apology and frankly sir I hope that someday that little boy comes to you and tells you how much of an asshole you really are!" Josh exclaimed as he quickly turned. He walked out of the room, past CJ and Toby and down the hall out the door of the hospital. Without thinking, he walked right into the barrage of reports waiting for him outside of the building. Seeing the flashing of lights in front of him he backed away and retreated into the hospital.

"Damn it!" Josh exclaimed as he threw his arms out in frustration.

Just then CJ and Toby caught up with him and waited as he calmed down. CJ watched as the press waited outside, pushing forward trying to get a better view of them. CJ looked to Toby who walked Josh into a side hall out of view.

Josh told them exactly what had transpired and CJ thought it would do the trick of clearing Josh's name. They would have to continue to work on cleaning up the mess with Donna.

They all agreed to go home and CJ dropped Josh off at the nearest hotel. Josh walked in and called a cab back to Donna's hotel. After hanging up he tried Donna's room and then remembered the block on the telephone. Finally half an hour later Josh arrived in Donna's hotel and walked up to the room. He knocked on the door and there was no answer. He waited and then tried the door. Josh realized Donna must have fallen asleep and he walked back down to the lobby. He approached the girl at the front desk and she smiled at him brightly.

"Hi, I was supposed to meet a friend of mine here and I think she has fallen asleep. Do you think you could ring her room for me?"

"Of course. What room is it?"

"118."

"Oh, I'm sorry sir the guest staying in room 118 has checked out."

"What? When?"

"According to this about an hour ago."

"Do you know where she went?"

"No sir, I'm sorry I don't. Are you Joshua Lyman?"

"Yes I am."

"She left you this." The woman replied as she handed Josh a sealed envelope. Josh took it from her hand and walked away from the desk as he opened the envelope.

Dear Josh,

I love you.

I always will.

 

Goodbye...

 

 

Josh felt like he was going to die. His heart stopped and he couldn't breath. This had to me a mistake, a cruel joke. Anything but what it was.

She was gone.

Josh took a deep breath and tried desperately tried to get his brain to think through the waves of panic and confusion that overwhelmed him. How had this happened, what had happened? Did he scare her, did he not see something earlier that her should have. Why would she leave?

 

I just don't want to ruin your life...

This couldn't be happening, he had to find her, talk to her, and make her come back.

How?

Josh immediately pulled out his cell phone and hit speed dial as he began to pace.

"Sam...yeah...I need your help."

* * *

Sam woke to the relentless sound of his cell ringing. He reached for the light turning it on and then quickly picked up the cell phone; if only to stop it's severe abuse on his fogged mind.

"Yeah...Josh?" Sam immediately sat up and listened to Josh on the telephone. His voice was broken and had an edge of panic. "I'll be right there."

Sam arrived at the hotel forty-five minutes later to find Josh pacing the lobby he turned and stopped as he saw Sam approach.

"What's going on?"

"Donna's gone."

"What, why?"

"I..."

"Josh what is going on?"

"Sam I..."

"Josh?"

"I took your advice."

"What advice?"

"I came here to talk to Donna and we ended up arguing and..."

"About what?"

"I thought she was pregnant."

"You what?"

"Never mind. So we argued and in the middle of it Donna told me that she is... in love with me."

"She did."

"Yeah."

"And..."

"And I kissed her."

"You kissed her?" Sam repeated with a smile and then a look of confusion washed over his face. "Then what happened?"

"CJ and Toby called..."

"CJ and Toby know?"

"No."

"What..."

"There was a thing, Tiffany shot Parsons."

"What?"

"Yeah."

"Why?"

"Because he was the one who told Tiffany to come forward and say it was mine when he is the father."

"You're kidding me."

"Okay Sam..." Josh replied in frustration.

"This doesn't have anything..."

"No..."

"So what happened next?"

"I went to the hospital with Toby and CJ to talk to Parsons and then I came back here to talk to Donna." Josh explained as the sorrow covered his face. "When I got here the front desk told me that she checked out and left me this."

Sam took the note from Josh reading it and looked up as Josh sat down on the couch. He was holding his head in his hands, his body frame looking broken and tense.

"Josh do you know why she would have done this?"

"Just after she told me..." Josh explained, his voice trailing off as he relived the scene in his mind. "She said she didn't want to ruin my life."

"Oh God."

"I didn't think anything about it, I kissed her and thought she knew...but then I had to leave and CJ said that it wouldn't look good of Donna and I were at the hospital together..."

"Where would she have gone?"

"I have no clue."

"Would she have gone home?"

"To Wisconsin?" Josh asked as Sam shook his head. "I don't think she wants to be found and she knows that's the first place I would look."

"That's the first place the press is going to look too."

"This is their fault Donna would have never..."

"Josh we don't know..."

"Yes we do!" Josh exclaimed. "Donna left because she is scared that if the press were to find out...that the publicity and the rumors would ruin my life. That's what she said!"

"Josh..."

"Sam you have to help me find her..." Josh pleaded a look of utter desperation in his eyes. "I...I can't do this without her. I can't...I love her Sam...I..."

"Josh, we'll find her." Sam replied as he tried to calm his friend fears

Sam tried to ease his friends frustration and fear and then called CJ and Toby explaining the situation. They all meet in CJ's apartment to try to decide how to proceed. Josh stayed unusually quiet in the car on the ride over and Sam couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking. Sam had watched Josh struggle in their conversation earlier but Sam new that he was aware of his feelings for Donna. He was just insecure and frightened of what may happen if things got out of control. Now they had.

* * *

Toby stood quietly by the widow as he listened to the rest of the entourage making endless telephone calls in search of Donna. He wished this wouldn't have happened for both of their sake. Neither Donna nor Josh deserved to be persecuted for the whims of fate. He knew this day would come. Not that Donna would leave, but that they were going to have to deal with a barrage of media and criticism concerning their relationship. The media would perceive, as they already had, that their relationship was something out of a pornographic film. Instead of what it was, a friendship that had grown into more. He and CJ had prepared for it. Now they would have to deal with it first hand.

The numbers they had run as well as the feelers and tests they had sent out came back positive, if it was handled in the right way. As an innocent love story and not a tabloid sex scandal. Now they had one of each. Even with Parson's full confession of his involvement and plans of misdirection, the media wouldn't give up Donna without a fight, especially now that she had fled.

Toby noticed a few cars pulling up. One of them a media van and sighed.

"The posse is here."

"What?"

"How did they find us?"

"They could find a needle in a haystack if that meant tomorrows front page buyline." CJ replied as she hung up telephone. "That's all of them. I have tried all of her friends and no one has heard anything."

"You told them to call if they do?"

"Yeah." CJ replied as she turned watching Josh as he spoke with Donna's mother on the telephone, trying to explain to her what had happened.

"There has to be something else we can do."

"What do you want to do Sam start handing out flyers?"

"Well that's not a bad..."

"CJ."

"Yeah."

"Come here." Toby said as he walked to the corner of the apartment pulling her with him. Josh finally hung up the telephone and Sam looked to him.

"She hasn't heard from her but promises to call if she does." Josh replied as he stood from the chair and began to pace the room again.

"Good. She'll have to call her parents eventually right?"

"Yeah." Josh replied as he noticed CJ and Toby huddled in the corner. "What going on?"

Sam shrugged and then CJ and Toby turned together and walked to the door.

"Where are you going?"

"We'll be right back." Toby replied as he followed CJ down the hall and into her bedroom.

"I can't believe I let this happen."

"Josh there is no way you could have known."

"I should have."

"Donna made this decision on her own, for what ever reason."

"She's scared, I should have told her..."

"Told her what?"

"That I loved her."

"I thought..."

"She told me and I kissed her but I never..."

"Why not?"

"Toby called me about the Parsons thing and then we...I thought I had more time."

"Josh she knows you love her, she understands..."

"That's not good enough Sam. Now she is gone and I am sitting here doing nothing to..."

"You can." Toby replied as he walked back into the office. "If you want to."

"What?"

"CJ and I have an idea. You can tell Donna and the rest of the world that you love her and want her to come home."

"I don't..."

"The press got us all into this mess and now they can get us out of it." Toby replied.

"What are you talking about?"

"You see that posse down there? They are going to help you find Donna."

"How."

"Toby thinks you should go downstairs and give a statement about what happened with Parson's. After the initial statement they will ask you what your relationship with Donna is and you tell them." CJ explained as the look of shock overtook Josh's face.

"I tell them?"

"Are you serious?"

"What better way for you to find Donna than through the one thing that is in every household and bedroom in America."

"Is this a good idea?"

"It can't hurt. They're here aren't they."

"One thing the media loves even more than a scandal is a profession of truth and love. It will turn the whole scandal around and hopefully Donna will hear it and come back."

"I don't..."

"Josh it's your best option right now if you really want to find her."

* * *

Josh found himself standing just inside the door of CJ's building as they began to plan of persuasion. He waited nervously and then Toby walked up next to him.

"You ready?"

"Yeah."

"Let's do it" Toby replied as he opened the door and Josh followed him out. The posse, as Toby so eloquently put it, literally jumped to their feet in stark amazement and rushed toward them.

"Deputy Lyman would you like to make a statement about your alleged affair with both Tiffany Buesen and your current assistant Donna Moss?"

"Yes I would." Josh replied feeling his heart pounding in his chest. "Tiffany Buesen was the unfortunate victim of manipulative misdirection by Congress Parsons, who will give you futher details at a later time..."

"What about your relationship with Donna Moss. Is it true that you are sexually involved?"

"No we are not."

"What is your relationship with Donna Moss?"

"It's complicated."

"Deputy Lyman are you and Donna Moss romantically involved?" The same reporter asked. Suddenly Josh couldn't breath and his heart stopped. He had tried to prepare himself for the questions but it never sunk in until someone actually asked him. He took a deep breath and forced himself to exhale.

"Yes we are, or we were."

"Can you elaborate please?"

"Donna Moss is my assistant and my friend. She has been with me through the past four years and I can't live without her. When you spend fifteen hours a day together there is no way that a relationship, platonic or otherwise will not inevitably develop." Josh explained taking another deep breath. "My feelings for Donna are beyond friendship and even beyond a casual interest. I am in love with her."

"What about the threat to your political career? Aren't you afraid that this may be looked upon as an example of sexual misconduct in the White House?"

"No I am not. We haven't done anything wrong and I see no reason why it would be looked at in this manner." Josh replied.

"What are your plans for the future?"

"Unfortunately because of the negative press that she and I have been receiving over the past twenty four hours Donna felt it was necessary to leave D.C. to protect my career."

"Did you ask that she leave?"

"No I did not, in fact I am here to ask for the public's help. Donna Moss is a kind, gentle, wonderful woman and I am deeply in love with her. The decision she made to leave was without my knowledge and I plead to anyone who has any information of her whereabouts to please contact me as soon as possible."

"Deputy Lyman if Ms. Moss is watching this right now what would you like to say to her?"

"Donna I know that I am not the knight you deserve but I love you and now the entire world knows. Please come home, I miss you. I need you." Josh finished as his emotions and anxious plea threatened to overwhelm him. He stepped back and turned allowing Toby to handle the rest of the questions. He walked back into the building and out of sight.

* * *

Donna walked into the small office of the motel as the gentleman sitting behind the counter turned away from the television.

"May I help you?"

"Yes, your sign says you have a vacancy?"

"Yes."

"I need a single room please." Donna replied as she pulled out her wallet. The man began pulling the key off the wall and took her credit card. A small woman with brown hair entered the office behind her and smiled brightly.

"You here for the night?"

"Yes I am."

"Hi, I'm Pat. I am Rich's wife." The woman said as she extended her hand while motioning to the man behind the counter who kept turning back to the television. "Rich what room?"

"Fifteen."

"Okay." She replied as she picked the key off the counter. "I'll show you where it is."

"Thank you."

"Traveling alone?"

"Yes I..."

"Where are you headed?"

"Las Vegas."

"Really, that's quite a haul." She replied as she lead Donna down the hallway and stopped in front of the room marked fifteen.

"Yeah. I am planning to leave around five am. Should I leave the key in the office or..."

"Yeah you can drop it off, I'll be in there making coffee." She replied with another smile. "Call me if you need anything."

"Thank you I will."

"Goodnight."

"Goodnight." Donna replied as she opened the door and disapeared into the room.

Pat turned and headed back to the office, as she walked in Rich was watching the baseball highlights and she sat down with the ledgers for the month. She heard Rich grunting and commenting to the television as he watched the highlights; she smiled to herself and began to think about the young woman she had just walked down to fifteen. Her pale skin was red and slightly puffed around her eyes and Pat thought she had been crying.

With their little motel, she and Rich saw so many people come and go, most of them running from something. She often wondered what. This girl looked maybe thirty, well dressed and groomed. She was kind and had a nice smile, probably came from a small town in the mid west. Las Vegas was going to be a big change for her, good place to get lost in the crowd.

"Patty."

"Yeah?"

"The damn antennae is wigging out again."

"I'll be right there." Pat replied as she stood from the desk and walked into the main office. Rich walked past her with the garbage can as she approached the television. It was snowey and the volume was out. She adjusted the cords and moved the antennae. Finally she hit the top of the television sharply and the picture returned. She turned to a few papers on the counter and put them in the drawer. The news was reporting on a sex scandal and she heard a man talking about how someone had left. Rich walked back in and looked at the television.

"Sixers won."

"Good, does that mean we can skip tomorrows game?"

"No."

"I guess I will be taping Jag."

"Looks like it." Her replied looking in disgust at the television. "What the hell is this crap."

"The news."

"Who's doing who in the White House isn't news." He replied as he walked around her. She turned facing the television as she pulled herself in so he could get by. She saw a picture come up on the television and yelped in shock. "What?"

"Rich that's..." She replied pointing at the television.

"What?"

"That's room fifteen."

"Are you crazy?" He exclaimed as he turned looking at the television.

"No, that's her!"

* * *

Donna got out of the shower and walked out into the room. She sat down on the bed and sighed. Her heart hurt and her mind was pounding.

She knew that she had done the right thing but she couldn't help but wish that things had been different. That she had been able to keep her distance.

I should have never told him...

She remembered the look on his face as he heard the words spill form her lips. She couldn't face him; she couldn't face the possibility that he didn't feel the same way. When he came to her and kissed her so passionately, for one instant she felt safe and happy. She felt like there was nothing that could happen that would take this away from them.

Then the telephone rang.

He left and she began to think, and wonder, and imagine, and panic. Now here she was, alone and on her way to the best place she could think of to start over. Somewhere very far away from anything that would remind her of him and what could have been.

Donna packed up her things and headed out to the office to drop off the key. She wanted to get a full day's drive in. She figured she could make it to Vegas in four days with no stops. Except for the occasional burger and sleep.

She walked into the office and the smell of fresh brewed coffee immediately hit her.

"You want some? It's on the house." Pat said as she emerged from the back room with a smile.

"Yeah that would be great." Donna replied as she set the key down on the counter.

"Did you sleep well?"

"Yeah I slept fine, thanks."

"No problem." Pat replied as she handed her a Styrofoam cup filled with liquid caffeine. Donna took it gladly and smiled. "You be careful out there, people are crazy."

"I will. Thanks." Donna replied with a smile as she turned walking out of the office. "Have a great day."

"Thanks you too."

Donna stepped out into the parking lot and headed toward her car. She set the coffee down on the roof of the car and dug for her keys. Suddenly a car pulled into the parking lot, stopping two stalls next to her. She unlocked her door and reached for her coffee throwing her purse in the car.

"Donnatella."

Donna turned and saw him walking to her.

"Josh..."

"Just listen to me okay?" Josh said as he stopped just in front of her, his eyes were bloodshot and he was still wearing the clothes from the day before. He needed to shave, lines of worry edging his strong jaw.

"I..." Donna tried to protest as her heart fluttered and she melted at the sight of him. "Josh I can't. You don't deserve to go through any..."

"Donna..."

"And when they find out they will..."

"Donna they already know."

"What?"

"They already know, everyone knows." Josh replied with a smile. "How do you think I found you? It wasn't easy let me tell you."

"Josh what are you talking about?"

"Toby came up with the idea of going on the news and telling the truth."

"The truth?"

"I told the entire world that I love you and then I asked for their assistance in finding you. The owners of the motel called me when they saw it, that's how I found you."

"You're kidding me."

"Nope."

"So everyone knows."

"Yes." Josh replied. "So now there is no reason to..."

"Josh are you crazy!" Donna exclaimed.

"Donna I..."

"Josh why would you...'

"Because I love you! Don't you understand? I love you and I don't care what happens!" Josh exclaimed back at her. "Donna if we could disappear and live happily ever after I would make it happen right now. I did this for you, for us. I don't want to hide this anymore. I don't want to have to mask the way I feel about you. I want to shout it off the rooftops and tell the world. You are the love of my life, and I will do anything to ensure that love stays in my life."

"Josh I don't know what to say."

"I know I didn't tell you...I don't think you realize how much...I love you. I know that you think that you are doing the best thing for me and I love you even more for trying to protect me."

"Josh you can't..."

"Shhh." Josh replied as he placed a finger over her lips, staring deep into her eyes. "Donna, when you said those words to me last night I can't tell you what it did to me. I felt like I'd been set free. Free from a cage I had built within myself but didn't even know existed. When I look at you my heart stops and I catch my breath.

You are so beautiful; you are everything I never knew I always wanted. . I want to spend everyday looking into your eyes. I want to talk to you, tease you, and make you laugh. I want you to roll your eyes at me and lecture me for being arrogant and self-absorbed. You show me what I am, what I can be. Please, please don't leave. I promise I can be the man you want me to be." Josh said as his eyes bore relentlessly into her soul. Donna bit her lip to keep from crying. He had found her; he came all this way...

"I don't want you to become something that you think I want. All I want is you, the man standing here with me." Donna replied as a tear broke free running down her cheek. "That's all I've ever wanted."

"Say you'll come home."

"I..." Donna fumbled and then Josh pulled her to him silencing her protests with a kiss. She fell into it and wrapped her arms around his neck, her fingers finding their way into his hair. Josh pulled away from her slightly touching her face gently with the back of his hand. "Donna I love you, we can get through this. Trust me."

"I do." Donna replied with a smile and Josh smiled back at her as their foreheads met and their noses touched. "I can't believe you went on television and CJ didn't kill you."

"Yes well it was one of my finer moments."

"Sorry I missed it." Donna replied licking her lips as their words breathed into each other.

"Don't worry we taped it."

"Good..." Donna replied as he pulled her to him again devouring her mouth. They became oblivious to the world around them as they got lost in each other's arms. Media trucks pulled into the parking lot followed by cars of reporters and flashing lights. They continued their rite of passion, the world looking on and smiling.

 

The End

I hope you enjoyed "Complicated" if you did, or even if you didn't I would love to hear your thoughts!

Lilymaid172002@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

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