TITLE: Our Two Consciences II: Truth and Consequences
AUTHOR: Laurel A. (lalden99@yahoo.com)
SPOILERS: Everything up to, and including, On the Day
DISCLAIMER: Nothing you see here is mine; it all
belongs to others (i.e. Aaron Sorkin, NBC, WB, etc.).

ARCHIVE: Anyplace, just let me know.
SUMMARY: Post–ep for On the Day Before. Donna ponders
why she saw Cliff a second time and how she felt about
telling Josh. As a bonus, we learn Donna's true
feelings about Tom Jones.
STUFF: As always, thanks to Michelle. And thanks to
those who sent feedback, noticing that we had returned
with the "OTC" series :) To see our fic from last
season (and some groovy stand-alones), check out our
website (shameless plug here...)

My actions have never had much consequence.

Let me re-state that: my personal actions have never
had much consequence.

Um, let's try it one more time: my personal actions
have never had much consequence for my job and the
current Presidential administration.

I've known all along that in this position, my
personal life (should I ever actually acquire one)
wouldn't be entirely my own. When you work in the
White House your every actions are magnified.

Not only are your actions scrutinized, but also the
consequences of any decisions you make are expanded
exponentially. Grand Jury investigations and
subpoenas from Special Prosecutors blow this idea
ridiculously out of proportion.

Never the less, these are the circumstances under
which we work. We accept these things because we love
what we do; we wouldn't want to do anything else.
Besides, knowing that it could matter to the
administration who I was dating was sort of a joke
until now.

Other than Josh seeming to get great satisfaction out
of teasing me about my personal life, I hadn't ever
seen anyone controversial or worthy of any scrutiny.
I had been dating your everyday, run-of-the-mill, very
un-influential DC gomers.

But Cliff is no local gomer.

At first I was spurred on by deliria from hefting
boxes all day and night; then I was charmed by his
sarcasm. Cliff could bring the banter, but he wasn't

He was easy and open with me. He liked me back, and
he said so. I started to think I could have a real
relationship. The more I realized he was no gomer,
the more I wanted things to work out.

I was up front with him from the start, making sure he
knew what my position was and who I worked for. And
he was up front with me too. Well, if you call
leaving me on a dark street corner being up front.

We had the best intentions of propriety and loyalty.
However, sometimes being human gets the better of your
propriety and loyalty. I know I'm not the first to
make that kind of mistake, nor will I be the last.

Maybe Cliff is the right guy at the wrong time. That
may be what makes him so attractive. I seem to have
developed a taste for men who are not appropriate for
me to have feelings for.

Or maybe I am simply fed up with the total void in my
life of any fulfilling emotional or physical contact
with a man -- further exacerbated by the frustrating,
co-dependent relationship Josh and I have developed.

Maybe I just wanted to do something without thinking,
something dangerous and stupid – which makes Cliff the
wrong guy who happened to be in the right place at the
right time.

Either way, I knew that I had to tell Josh.

I hated having it hang over me; I was feeling guilty.
Guilty because of Josh; guilty because of Leo; guilty
because of the President; and guilty because of entire
West Wing staff. I hated knowing that I had to own up
to it; and knowing I had to own up to it to Josh.

Even worse was the realization that you can't just
pull Josh aside and tell him something; he's usually
being pulled in six different directions, and is late
for at least four of them. I had to wait it out since
I couldn't pull him from his dinner between the hot
pumpkin soup and the chèvre brioche like he did with

So I spent the evening tying Josh's tie and trying to
ignore the sick, sinking feeling in my stomach.

Let me just clear something up right now though: I
can tie a bow tie, and I can do it very well on most
nights. This particular night I was unfocused and
anxious. I tried to distract myself by teasing Josh
about his aspirations to be like Tony Bennett.

And let me be clear on this too: I know very well the
difference between Tony Bennett and Tom Jones. Tony
Bennett left his heart in San Francisco; Tom Jones
left his gym sock in his pants.

When the time came, I almost didn't do it. I was
going to let Josh walk away and send me home. I
started to tell myself that he was too busy, that I
had tried my best but there just wasn't the time to
approach him.

Then he remembered. Darn him for being so, you know
not HIM, at just the wrong time.

I hate the anticipation of admitting out loud that
I've messed up. I hate that weird "third person"
feeling when I'm saying the words.

It's like you can hear yourself speaking but it sounds
like someone else, or like you are hearing your voice
on a tape recorder. Then you replay the scene in your
head, wishing you could re-write your lines, and you
hear over and over the words of reproach leveled at

"You can't see him again." Those are the words I am
re-playing in my head.

"All right. You can go home." Those too.

I think I am madder at myself more than anything. Mad
for having feelings for Cliff, mad for seeing him a
second time, and mad that I can't see him a third. I
am even angrier though that Josh felt that he had to
tell me so.

And as I was saying the words, "I was fixed up on a
blind date a few nights ago...turns out now that he's on
Government Oversight" I could feel Josh withdrawing
from me. As he spoke, it was like a door inside him
closed, denying me any access to what he was thinking
or feeling.

He has never shut me out like that before. Not being
able to see Cliff hurt, but feeling the cold void of
disconnection from Josh was heartbreaking.




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