Hangovers and Hermeneutics
By Len
Category: Josh/Donna, humor
Rating: PG-13 (just in case)
Teaser: Second in the Operation Moss Series. The hangover is only the beginning of Donna's problems. Guest staring: The Joey Lucas Suit. Spoilers including BTSOTU.
Note: Send me feedback, and I'll love you forever!! lendolyn@yahoo.com

~ Part One ~

I wake up on Saturday with the feeling that the world is a good and wonderful place, even if it is seven in the morning. This feeling is hampered slightly when I look down to discover that I am lying fully dressed on my bed, but y'know what? That is sooo much better than being completely naked on someone else's.

With this thought in mind, I jump up and skip into the shower.


Maybe the skipping was a little too much. Even someone with my superb immunity to alcohol must be expected to show some signs on the morning after. When my stomach settles back to it's normal location, I continue to walk carefully and then take a very hot shower.

Somewhere in the back corridors of my mind, I remember Josh telling me to be in at eight today. By the time I extract myself from the shower I have the complexion of a lobster and am ten minutes late.

The world looks a little less good and wonderful as I then battle my way through the soccer moms clogging all the major roads with ten-year old mini-vans and tourists with Texas plates getting stalled in the middle of intersections. In fact, by the time I rush into work at precisely eight-thirty eight, I'm back to my usual critical view of humanity.

"Morning, CJ!" I call to the tall redhead on my way to Josh's office. She jumps slightly and then exhales as she notices me. "Everything alright?" I ask.

"What? Oh. No, everything's fine Donna...it's just that I keep expecting...Never mind. Why'd Josh make you come in today? It's Saturday."

"That's never seemed to stop him before. I think he's a little apprehensive about the whole State of the Union thing, and he wants to make sure that we've vetted all th-"

"He made you come in on a day like this to go back over records that have been looked at no less than five times?" CJ looks critical. I don't really blame her. It sounds pretty lame to me, too, but it's the best excuse I can come up with. I can't exactly tell her 'I was drunk out of my head last night and I can't even remember if I was supposed to come in today, much less what is on the agenda,' can I?

Besides, CJ is in love with Lord Marbury. If I told her I was out getting stonkered with her Knight in Shining Armor, she may be slightly upset and take it out on Josh. I have a duty to protect my boss, after all.

"I think that's what I'm doing today." I flash her a bright smile that hurts my head. "Overtime, y'know, CJ? I'm going to nag Josh about overtime."

"Okay," she says slowly. "Hey, how was your date last night?"

"What date?"

"Go look on your desk, Donna," CJ orders. She walks away, shaking her head. "What date, she asks..."

I stop off at the water fountain and swallow a couple of aspirin, and then complete the long trek to my desk. What I see there stops me in my tracks.

On the corner of my desk is at least two dozen irises. My absolute all-time favorite flower in the entire world. Their deep blue color seems to brighten up the entire staff bullpen. The world suddenly seems a good and wonderful place again.

But that's not what stopped me in my tracks. What really stuns me is the smell of the tall Starbucks amaretto cappuccino sitting defiantly in the dead center of my desk. I gulp, and approach cautiously.

Donna Moss has now entered...the Twilight Zone.

~ Part Two ~

I'm not exactly sure how long I stand there staring at the coffee, but it was a long time. In fact, I don't even notice Josh until he is right next to me.

"Hey, Donna!"

I jump. "Don't sneak up on me Josh!"

He pretends to look hurt. "I never sneak, Donna. You're the one who beams around like Captain Kirk."

"I am stealthy, Josh. If I'm not mistaken, that's quite an asset for a White House employee to have."

"Am I going to have to start paying you protection money?"

I smile angelically-this hurts my head a lot less. "Just a raise, Josh."

"Yeah, okay."


"No." He gives me a little dimpled smirk and then fingers the irises on my desk. "Nice flowers," he says with studied casualness. I see right through it.

"Yes they are. Did you bring me coffee, Joshua?"

For some reason, this makes him smile hugely. Only it's not at me. That is his, "I am the man" smile. Earthlings beware. Oh dear oh dear. What have I done?

While I am simultaneously basking in the brilliance of that smile and trying not to bit my nails out of nervousness, I am struck my another stunning observation. Yeah, I know. I'm not real quick on the uptake today. But there it is.

Josh is wearing his Joey Lucas suit.

I sit down. I don't sit with my usual grace, but hey, I've had a rough night. Very deliberately, I pluck the card out of the flowers and examine it. It is gold embossed with 'Lord John Marbury, Her Majesty's Royal Ambassador to the United States of America'.

Wow. He must have found a 24-hour printing company. He was only appointed yesterday evening. I'm impressed.

This apparently shows on my face, because after a moment Josh stomps into his office, scowling.

After the door slams shuts and the reverberations gradually die away, I pick up my cappuccino and take a sip. Made just the way I like it. I suppose Josh is annoyed because I failed to shower him with gratitude at his small gesture of kindness. And I fully intend to thank him-later. It's not like I don't know what's going on, because I do.

He's trying to impress someone.

There's probably some beautiful, bubbly server girl at the nearby Starbucks that he is trying to win over with his thoughtfulness by buying coffee for his assissta-

Hmm. Maybe not. That wouldn't really win me over if I was a beautiful bubbly server girl. But since when has Josh known the first thing about women? I may have to embark on some reconnaissance on Monday and see if Sam brings Bonnie or Ginger some coffee then. Or CJ. In fact, I should go ask CJ now...

There is also the small matter of The Joey Lucas Suit. Forget CJ, I need to figure out what's going on.

Right after I finish my cappuccino.

~ Part Three ~

None of the other assistants are at work today. Not even Margaret. By the time Monday rolls around, my flowers will be dead, and nobody will ever know that Lord Marbury so much as gave me the time of day. Damn.

Josh's strange behavior, on the other hand, looks like it's going to hang around for a while. Such is my life. After sulking in his office for an hour, he finally swaggers out with his usual over-confidant style.

"Hey, Donna."

"Josh," I say cautiously.

"How are you feeling?"


"Good. I mean, that's really great!"

"Yeah..." What's happening? Josh's over-enthusiastic smile has apparently rendered me monosyllabic.

"And last night? Did you have fun with-" the smile falters a bit here, "Marbury?"

"I think so."

"Good. Good. Good, good..." It's about here that he trails off into incomprehensibility. I can't seem to do anything but stare at him in confusion as he then shakes his head and stalks back into his office. The door slams again. Just when I think I've got him figured out...

And I still haven't had a chance to talk to him about the Joey Lucas suit. I think it's time I enlist Sam's help on this. He owes me.

Sam loves his job. So does Toby. Unfortunately for them both, they each seem to have a different idea about how that job should be performed. When I come into Sam's office at noon that day, he and Toby are duking it out over a draft of the State of the Union address. I think my arrival may have averted a large number of potential work-related injuries.

"Donna!!" Sam cries happily as he sees me. "Sorry, Toby. We'll have to continue this discussion at a later time-Donna's here."

"So?" Toby says bluntly, rubbing a hand over his face. "Why do I get the feeling you'd be saying the same thing if it was Denis the Custodian here instead?"

"Of course I wouldn't be saying the same thing," Sam replies matter-of-factly, "Because then it would go something like, 'Denis! Sorry Toby, Denis is-"

"Shut up Sam."


"We'll go over the thing some more after lunch," Toby threatens.

Sam gulps. "That's fine."

Toby stomps out of the office, and Sam turns to me with a hurt expression. I think he considers me some kind of sister or something. He's always expecting me to stick up for him.

"What?" I ask innocently.

"Toby is on the verge of ramming a pencil in my ear-"

"That sounds like it might hurt," I observe.

"-And it would be nice if you could just say 'Sam is a good guy. You should respect his ability to work' or something. You know-just smooth things over a little."

I drop down into a chair. "You know, Sam, I don't even get paid enough to do that for Josh."

"I could start putting you on retainer,' he offers.


"No. Not really."


Sam looks at me intently. "Are you afraid of him?"

"Of Josh?"

"Of Toby.'

"I have a great amount of respect for Toby."

"But are you afraid of him?"

I turn my nose up at him. "A little, yeah." The truth is, Toby reminds me of what Josh could become if he ever joins the dark side. They both have an unbelievable passion for their work and for making a difference. Toby is cynical to a fault, but it's like they say. A cynic is merely a frustrated idealist. I have made it my duty to ensure Josh never becomes that cynical about anything. One Toby is more than enough.

While all this is going through my head, Sam is watching me. He is a very accomplished watcher. It is neither insulting nor intrusive, just...interested.

"So what's up. Donna?" he finally asks.

I fold my hands in my lap. "I think Josh is going weird."

That didn't come out right

"Going weird?" He raises his eyebrows and goes to take a drink from the water bottle on his desk.

"Yeah..." The right words are eluding me. Sam's probably thinking I'm crazy. Well, he already does, actually, but that's not the point. What can I say to convince him of the gravity of this situation? "He brought me coffee," I blurt out.

The water makes an abrupt reappearance, all over the desk. And me, of course. I shriek and jump back, but it's too late--I'm already drenched. Sam has got a mighty big mouth.

"Josh brought you coffee?" he gasps. I just nod and brush ineffectually at my dripping t-shirt. This shirt happens to be white-have I mentioned that?

"Wow." Sam is still stunned. "This is big. It must mean something. There is some serious subtext here-I'm sure that if we just-"

"Saaam," I whine. "Could you please cease your hermeneutic ponderings long enough to hand me some tissues, or a paper towel, or something?"

"What? Oh. Here, take this." he whips out a handkerchief the size of a pillowcase and passes it to me. It has no discernable effect. And what modern man carries a handkerchief? "I think you may need a new shirt," he cleverly observes.


"There's a box of White House T-shirts that we gave to the Ambassadors families," he says, pointing to the corner.

"That'd be fine." Sam walks out, averting his eyes the entire time, and then closes his office door.

I pull off my saturated shirt and drape it over a chair. The world has returned to being a not very good and wonderful place. But it could be worse, I decide as I try to dry my bra with a tissue. Then the door flies open.

"Ack!" I screech. I try to dive behind Sam's desk, but not before I see the look of shock on Toby's face as he stands in the doorway.

Scratch that. The world well and truly sucks.

~ Part Four ~

I cross my arms and try to make myself look smaller while I send telepathic mail bombs to Sam through his closed office door. It doesn't appear to be having any effect.

"Donna," Sam is saying. I think he's trying not to laugh. The fink. "You're going to have to come out eventually."


"Because that is my office. It probably wouldn't look too good if you stay holed up in here all day."

"You mean it could actually look worse than what just happened?"

Sam cocks his head to the side, thinking. "Well, it may be hard to top that..." he admits.



"Where were you? Why didn't Toby see you out there instead of barging in here?"

"I was, um...I..."

"Oh, forget it. You see, Sam, we have a pattern. Have you noticed that?"

"The pattern?"

"Yeah," I say, collecting my damp shirt and getting ready to dash off to the ladies room. "A pattern. Every time I do something nice for you, it blows up in my face. It becomes a disaster of such majestic proportions that if doesn't wind up in the history books, I really don't think scholars are doing it justice."

"It doesn't happen every time," Sam argues.

"Yes it does. It has become White House legend."

He cautiously enters his office and leans against the doorframe. "You really think your grandchildren to open up history books and read about how their grandmother is famous for her showing her underwear in the White House?"

That's it. I heave my T-shirt at his head, and it hits the side of his face with a splat. Then I storm off to the bathroom. To hide.

When I come out about half an hour later, the building is eerily quiet. I tiptoe back to my desk and try to look busy by typing up some memos that don't really need to be done until Monday. In fact, I am so oblivious to the outside world that I don't even have a chance to run before I find Toby standing in front of me.

"Donna," he says in his usual solemn voice. "What was that back there? It was you, wasn't it?"

Hmm...maybe I could pass that shirtless blonde off as being, like, Ainsley Hayes or something. Leo once commented on our resemblance. This apparently offended Josh-he said I bear no resemblance whatsoever to a Republican. It was kind of sweet, actually.

But I've gotten off-track. This has been happening more and more frequently, and it's starting to worry me. Toby is still looking at me like an inquisitive bear, if you can imagine that.

"Um...yeah. That was me," I squeak. I think I am blushing.

"It's probably not important, but do you mind telling me why you were half-naked in Sam's office? Just in case it happens to come up in Staff, or..."

I stare at him, horrified. "In Staff?"

"Yeah. Charlie was curious, so he probably told the President..."

"The President?" I don't think it is humanly possible to feel any more mortified without, you know, dying.


"Okay," I take deep, bracing breaths. "It's Sam's fault. We were wondering about, um...something, and then, well, he spat water all over me."

Toby shifted impatiently, but didn't leave. "He spat water all over you?"

"Actually, it was more like a spray, but the end result was the same."

"Okay," he says simply, and then turns and walks away. I am going to go kill Sam Seaborn.

Fortunately for me, Sam is overcome with his predictable pangs of guilt. Within five minutes, he has sought me out to apologize.

"About the Josh Problem, Donna-" See, this is Sam actually groveling. He has passed the mere, 'I'm sorry' stage and jumped right to the 'peace offering' stage.

"How did Charlie find out, Sam?"

"-I think it's because Marbury-What?"

"Charlie, Sam. Toby says Charlie found out I was topless in your office and told the President."

Sam looks stricken. Then realization dawns and he looks even worse. "Um, I may have said something...I can't really remember. I was, uh, laughing too hard."

"You were laughing at me?"

"No, Toby. I've never seen him move as fast as he did when he came back out of my office. And I've never seen that particular shade of red on any human-"

I start stacking files with quick, angry movements. "This is it, Sam. The official end. I will never, ever again attempt to save you from columnists or Toby or anyone. No more favors." I'm pretty ticked. Normally I try to inject some humor to lighten my lectures, but not this time. "You have brought me nothing but trouble since we first started this-"

"Started what?"

Oh. Guess who.

"Oh, hi Josh! Sorry Donna, we'll have to continue this conversation some other time-Josh is here!" Sam babbles happily. I give him a sour look and slam the files down on my desk.

"Of course I'm here. You're kind of, you know, standing in the doorway of my office," Sarcastic Josh has arrived, waiting a record-breaking six hours before putting in an appearance. All of a sudden I am overwhelmed with relief.

"I know that. I was just coming here to talk to you about-"

"What did you and Donna start, Sam?" he asks evenly.

Sam looks at Josh and takes two careful steps away from my desk. "Nothing."

There is something going on here that I'm not seeing. Josh is standing relaxed, hands in his pockets, but Sam looks like he's ready to run. Maybe he really does think I'm going to kill him. This thought cheers me immensely.

"Josh," I say, "You've got staff in three minutes. You too, Sam."

Josh takes off his Joey Lucas jacket and tosses it in his office. I hear it hit the floor. "I'm going. You got that thing on the--"

"It's on you desk. Oh, Sam?"

He jumps and looks at me. I give him my sweetest smile. "This conversation is not over. We need to talk about The Problem."

He nods, and starts to walk off. Josh looks curious.

Well, that Staff meeting will be yet another for the records. I hope Charlie kept his mouth shut. Can I be reprimanded for inadvertent indecent exposure? Maybe I should leave before Josh comes back...

~ Part Five ~

Hermeneutics is a word you won't find in about ninety-percent of all dictionaries on the face of the planet. Which is a little odd because it is actually a science. The science of subtext.

Back in my second year of college, before Doctor Free-Ride and long before I ever even knew oof Josiah Bartlet, I took a philosophical anthropology class. My teacher, Professor Tingle, was alarmingly enthused with hermeneutics. He would have us sit around a table and talk to one another, and then he would analyze our accents, the slang we used, hand gestures, and more subtle body language. If we could learn the basics of this science, he had said, we could become the most successful diplomats in the world.

I didn't learn the basics-see Exhibit A, Warrick "Rick" Peterson-Jeffies, Jr. Also known as Doctor Free-Ride, or the man who taught me not to trust hyphenated names. If I had been able to read his body language I would have realized that after the first year he stopped liking me, as a person. He liked me as a blonde female body, sure. Heck, as a meal-ticket, he adored me. But if I had only noticed it then....well, actually, if I had noticed it then I would never have come to New Hampshire and cheated my way into a job with the future President of the United States. Or rather, with the future Deputy Chief of Staff of the United States.

Which brings me back to the subtext.

I go into Josh's office and sit in his chair. I do this a lot, and occasionally I realize that this isn't exactly normal behavior for an assistant in the White House. I'm one of the only assistants in the West Wing who genuinely likes my boss. I'm fairly confidant that if we met in another place, another time, we'd still be friends. And I still wouldn't bring him coffee.

This, I decide, is why Josh's behavior is bothering me so much. We are friends. And if he is that excited about Joey Lucas coming to town, he should tell me. Right?


'Unless,' says a horrible voice in my head, 'He was afraid of how you would react.'

Shut up, I tell that horrible little voice.

'Why don't you go file something, if you're going to act like that?' It replies. I realize that it sounds frighteningly like Josh. 'This is important.'

Okay, I guess I'll play along. But as usual, I come to the conclusion before Josh-or rather, his voice-has a chance to finish explaining. Josh probably thinks that I am going to stoop to the same depths as he has in the past. He think that I am going to try and sabotage his efforts to date Joey Lucas. Just because our roles are reversed-I am now the dateless, pathetic one-doesn't mean I would ever do something as small and manipulative as that.

Although I will admit to having thought about it. Purely for payback purposes--it's not like I'm jealous or anything.

I lean back in the chair and look out his office window at the sky. I wish I were someplace warm right now. Strangely enough, instead of tropical Hawaii popping into my mind, I have a flash of Italy. Walking through the narrow streets and gawking at statues with a thousand other tourists. Venice. I've always wanted to visit Venice, just to have the opportunity to recline elegantly in a gondola and wear a ridiculously big hat. If you're a tourist, you are allowed to wear that kind of thing. I'd love to see Michelangelo's David. And the Sistine Chapel, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the Pope...

Eventually I snap back to the real world. I haven't done my usual house-keeping routine and picked up the Joey Lucas jacket yet. It's still lying on the floor, looking for all the world like a dead critter that has been sideswiped by a passing car. Josh can pick the damn thing up himself.

My stomach grumbles, and I realize that I haven't eaten anything all day. My stomach was on shaky ground this morning. But it's afternoon now, the famous Donna Moss stamina has re-established itself, and I have about twenty minutes before Josh should be out of the staff meeting. I head down to the cafeteria.

"Can I get a turkey sandwich and some potato chips, please? And a Coke?" I ask the lady in the paper hat. I smile at her cheerfully. She looks at me like I've gone insane. This is a routine we have. I know I'll wear her down eventually. And when she finally smiles back, I bet her face will crack.

She snatches the fiver out of my hand, gives me the change, and dismisses me all in one fluid movement. Oh, she's good, alright. But none can withstand Moss charm for long. It's less well-recognized but just as potent as the famous Lyman charm.

I gather my late lunch into my arms and start walking towards the exit.

"You think she's afraid she'll break something if she smiles?" a baritone voice asks from behind me. It's a little unnerving having your thoughts echoed out loud like that. I find myself looking up at a gorgeous male specimen. Wow.

My soda teeters dangerously on top of the sandwich box, and then balances again. "That must be it," I agree, trying not to blush. He has these amazing blue eyes. "After months of interrogation, I've found out she likes working at the White House, her kids all married well, and her husband died-leaving her the Cadillac, her mortgage is paid off, and she's due to retire in three months." A neat summary, if I do say so myself.

"That's very impressive," he comments, and then loses his grip on the burger and soda he's carrying. After a complicated juggling move, he continues. "Um...If you don't mind me asking, are you meeting someone for lunch? Or may I join you?"

"Actually," I say, looking at the clock on the wall, I really should be getting back to work..."

He cocks his head to one side. "You're working through lunch? On a Saturday?"

"Well..." I am trying not to squeal with glee. First Lord Marbury, and now a guy who looks like Pierce Brosnan's younger brother.

"I'm sure America can wait half an hour while you have something to eat."

"Well, okay." Oh, that was very witty, Donnatella. I must have used up my daily does of charm on Edna the Lunch Lady.

The man grins at me and leads me to a stained Formica table against the far wall of the cafeteria. After we're seated, he extends a hand. "I'm David Marienetti. I'm new here."

I shake his hand and find myself grinning back at him. "Donna Moss. I'm Josh Lyman's assistant. Pleased to meet you."

* * * * *
Lunch with David is fun. He doesn't once make any of the usual insinuations about why I am at work on a Saturday with my bachelor boss. He is evolved. And he doesn't smirk at me once.

He does, however, walk me up to my desk. He admires my flowers. Then he asks if I would like to meet him for lunch sometime next week. Or dinner next Friday?

"Sure," I say intelligently. And would you like to know why? Because I am a single, attractive, healthy woman who does not need to dwell...wherever it is that I have been dwelling since last summer. I need to go forward.

"Great! I'll stop by sometime, or you could stop by my office. I've almost got everything moved into my desk down in Legal Affairs."

"Okay. You know," I say thoughtfully, "I've never been down there before."

"Well, I'll have to show you around then." He flashes me another smile and-oh, I think he might actually be shuffling his feet! That is so sweet! "I'll be seeing you, then."

"Yep." I watch him walk away. Ha! I am no longer dateless and pathetic. Take that, Joey Lucas Suit! I am once again impervious!

"Who was that?"

I jump. "Oh. Hi Sam. Uh, that was David Marienetti. He's the new guy down in legal."

"Oh." Sam has this was of saying 'oh' that is just barely on this side of an argument. "Okay. I think you wanted to talk to me, about the...um...Problem?"

"No, that's okay, Sam. I'm no longer interested."

He blinks. "At all? What about all the subtext? The suit? The coffee? The--"

"Nope. I've decided the only way I'm going to be able to deal with Josh's quirks is to ignore them. If I try to analyze each one as they appear, I'll go bonkers."

"Bonkers? Did you actually just say 'bonkers', Donna?"


He smiles nervously. "You know-that was kind of interesting-me mocking your Wisconsinite figures of speech the very same day you kindly refrained from killing me for humiliating you in front of the senior staff."

"And about that-"

"Leo was wondering why he's the only one who hasn't seen your underwear. And Josh is pissed because to date, I've seen both-actually," Sam says, catching a glimpse of my face, "I'm not going to continue in that vein."

I think I'm baring my teeth at him. "Good idea."

"Yeah." Sam turns towards the Communications bullpen.

"Where'd Josh go?" I shout after his retreating form.

"He's still in with Leo," he calls over his shoulder.

Fine. I head into Josh's office and sit in his chair to wait for him. When Joey arrives, he find me nothing but helpful and supportive in his attempts to ask her out. I will not be jealous. And the morning after Josh comes back from his first date with Joey, I'll tell him my Friday dinner date. I'll explain to him that David is not some "local gomer"-he's a smart, funny lawyer who is taller than I am (always an important plus) and who just happens to be one of the most attractive men I've seen in DC since I got here.

Plus, we have the same initials. If we got married we wouldn't have to get our towels re-monogrammed.

Good Lord. I think I just channeled my mother.

I'll also tell him that whatever is going on-if there is actually something going on-and I think there is the potential for something to go on, even if it isn't actually going on-well. Maybe I'll just tell myself very firmly right now that we do not have a...a thing, and in fact the whole idea is completely ridiculous.

"Are you talking to yourself, Donna?"

"Ack!" I would have fallen backwards out of the chair if Josh hadn't been leaning against it. "Stop sneaking, Josh!"

"I'm not sneaking. I have stealth, that's all. And you're in my chair." He is smirking at me. He loves it when he can throw my words back at me. And there is something else in that smirk-it is a certain expression that always tells me 'I've seen your underwear'. It first started showing up after the Karen Cahill fiasco. It still makes me nervous.

"What happened in Staff, Josh," I ask with a certain sense of dread.

"Leo wants to thank you for keeping Marbury out of his hair yesterday night. But I explained to him that it wasn't out of any sense of duty you felt towards the United States, but just because you wanted to win the office pool-"

"The office pool?" What is he talking about?

"Yeah. And speaking of pools, here's your shirt back. Sam would have given it back, but he was afraid you'd...hurt him."

I snatch it out of his hand, and get out of his chair. After he sits down and I can tower over him, I attack. "Why did you bring me coffee, Josh? Am I about to be fired?"

Josh clears his throat, and disappears behind a newspaper. "No you're not about to be fired. Why would you think that?'

"Because you brought me coffee."

"Yeah, I think we've established that."

"Why, Josh?"

He puts the paper down. "You're not going to let this go, are you?"

I cross my arms stubbornly. "Nope. You're starting to worry me. First the coffee, and the Joey Lucas suit..."

"How many times do I have to tell you, I do not wear this suit for the benefit of Joey Lucas!"

"Uh huh. Sure. I believe that. Why are you wearing it on a Saturday? You never wear suits on Saturdays."

"Well, believe me when I say I am not wearing it for Joey Lucas."


He looks at me skeptically. "Really?"

"Yeah. Why'd you bring me coffee?"

Josh groans and buries his head in his arms. "Does it matter?"


"Because I thought you'd need it. I've been there before, Donna. And I went right past Starbucks on my way to work."

"Oh, Josh-that is sooo sweet! Thank you!"

He retreats behind his newspaper again, but not before I see that he is starting to blush. "Don't you have some filing to do, or something?" ha asks in mock annoyance.

"Nope. I'm free for the rest of the day. See how easy that was?"

Josh turns a page on the newspaper. "What was?"

"Figuring out what was going on. I told Sam he didn't need to read your subtext."

"Sam was trying to read my subtext? You let him? You're supposed to be looking out for my best interests! Sam can take a perfectly innocent..."


"Nothing. Go away."

I snort, and start to leave the office. But not before I pick up the Joey Lucas jacket and drape it over a chair. Yeah, moving past this...wherever it is that we are...is not going to be easy. But Joey will be good for Josh.

And knowing it's true doesn't make it hurt any less.




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