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Title: I've Begun to Realize... (1/1) 

Author: Michelle K. (CageyGrl@yahoo.com

Rating: PG 

Summary: Josh realizes his true feelings for Donna.

Notes: Written in Josh's POV. If Donna doesn't want Josh, I'll take him. :-) Bradley Whitford should have gotten an Emmy nomination. That's about it.

Disclaimer: Characters from "The West Wing" don't belong to me. Instead, they are the sole property of Aaron Sorkin, Warner Brothers Television and NBC. No copyright infringement is intended and I am making no money from this story.

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I've begun to realize that I might be in love with Donna. I don't know when it happened. I just know that when I think about her, I feel happy. Not just content-happy, but moronic-smile-on-my-face-happy.

There are just so many things about her that I adore. Her smile, her laugh, even the way she holds a folder. Not to mention her beauty, her intelligence...

"Josh!" Toby's irritated voice exclaims, snapping me back into reality.

"What?" I say, confused.

"You have a dumb grin on your face. It's irritating." He pauses for a moment and stares at me. I'm fairly certain I lose my smile now. "You weren't listening to me, were you?"

"Uh...uh," I stammer. "Of course I was. You were talking about that thing with the stuff."

He rolls his eyes. "You're an idiot, Josh," he says in typical Toby fashion. Then he abruptly turns and walks away.

I shrug. He could be right, in any case. I should try to find out what he was talking about.

I begin to walk back to my office. Donna appears next to me out of nowhere. I have no idea how she does that.

"How are you doing today, Joshua?" she asks.

I love it when she calls me Joshua. "O.k., Donnatella. But I think Toby hates me."

"You're just realizing that now?" she says, smiling.

I look over at her. God, she's incredible. "I'm just realizing a lot of things..."

"Like what?" Donna asks, her voice interested.

"Um, nothing important," I say, deciding to change the subject. "What time is my meeting with Senator Cone?"

"As I have told you many times, Joshua, your meeting with Senator Cone is *tomorrow* at 1:30. Your schedule for today is on my desk."

In a few seconds, we arrive at her desk outside my office. She picks up the schedule and begins to list my activities for the day.

And I can't help staring at her. This is another way I can tell that I'm in love with Donna. My incessant need to stare. And the more I stare, the more I want to stare.

It's a vicious circle.

I find every part of her sexy. And not even the places you would normally think. I could look for hours at her forehead, her ankle, her...

"Why are you staring at my wrist?" Donna asks as she eyes me suspiciously.

"What?" I say, feigning a mix of surprise and innocence. "I wasn't."

"No, Josh, I can tell when I'm being stared at and I got the distinct impression that you were staring at my wrist."

"That's crazy." I have trouble coming up with an answer, so I blurt out, "Why would I stare at your wrist when your breasts are right there?"

She stares at me, shocked.

Damn it. I really know how to smooth talk the ladies.

Toby's right. I *am* an idiot.

"Look, Donna. I'm sorry," I begin.

She cuts me off. "It's fine. Don't worry about it."

"Donna..."

"Just forget about it. Do you want to hear the rest of your schedule or not?" she says crossly.

I hate for her to be angry with me, but I can't do anything about it. If only there was a way to soothe her, or to make sure she wasn't going to be angry with me forever. I want to take her in my arms and hold her. I want to comfort her, to kiss her, to tell her she means the world to me. But I can't.

And this the moment I truly realize I love her: when my heart aches at the thought of her hating me.

She's staring expectantly at me. "Well?"

I nod.

"At 12:30 you have lunch with Joey."

Lunch with Joey. I've spent so much time obsessing about Donna, I'd forgotten all about it.

I'm not even sure how I feel about Joey. I like her, sure, but it's not close to what I feel for Donna. Not even close.

But, maybe I should try it with Joey. I *do* like Joey, and sometimes its takes time for feelings to develop. And I don't think Donna is going to fall for me any time soon. So, I might as well go for it with Joey.

She finishes reading me my schedule and sits down at her desk. "You have some work to do, don't you?" she inquires without turning around.

"Yeah...Toby wants me to do the stuff for the thing..." I mumble as I retreat to the safety of my office.

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A couple of hours later....

Donna walks into my office. And for a moment, I feel elated. She's forgiven me.

"Joey's here," she says testily, "for your lunch appointment."

I can tell she's still angry, and the thought makes me feel depressed.

But, she said Joey's here. I should be happy. A date with a possible new girlfriend should outweigh the anger of my secretary.

But it doesn't.

And it makes me want to get down on one knee and ask Donna to marry me.

But I don't.

Instead, I put on my jacket and breeze past her. "See you later, Donna."

Joey and Kenny are waiting outside. I try to act normal. I smile broadly and try to forget about Donna. "So," I say, "shall we?"

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At the restaurant, I try to continue my normal act. I quip, I debate, and I attempt to charm. I think I succeed. Until....

"Are you okay?" Joey asks.

"Me? I'm fine. Why?" I say, trying to be nonchalant.

"You seem distracted."

"I do?" Is it that obvious? My normal act sucks.

"You do," Kenny pipes up.

I'd almost forgotten that another person was there. "Is that your opinion or hers?"

"It seems to be mutual." Joey signs something to him. "It definitely is."

They both stare at me expectantly. I'm not entirely comfortable spilling my guts to one person, let alone two. And I'm not even sure what I want to say. The pressure is increasing exponentially by the second.

I try to give Kenny subtle hints to leave. They must be too subtle, since Kenny's still sitting there staring at me. First my normal acts bombs, now I strike out with subtlety.

Joey signs something else and Kenny nods. "I have to...go to the bathroom," he says as he gets up.

Joey and I stare at each other for what seems like an eternity. What am I supposed to say? I think I'm desperately in love with my assistant, but you'll do for now because I'm too frightened to tell her how I feel. I know that I can't make up a lame excuse. We've been sitting in silence too long for her to buy it.

"You seem distracted," she says finally.

"I've had a lot of work," I say. I know it's not going to fly even before I say it, but it's the first thing I can think of.

"You always have a lot of work."

I shrug. "Well, I've been especially busy."

"Please be honest with me." She pauses. "It's someone else, isn't it?"

I sit in shock for a moment. Does she read minds as well as lips? "How did you know?" I ask. I might as well discuss it with her since she seems to know anyway.

"I see the way you look at her, Josh. When you can't hear, you learn to observe people very closely." She pauses and smiles. "People's little ways of behaving...things they may not even notice themselves...are much more honest than words anyway."

"Wait," I say, befuddled. "You know *who* it is?"

"Donna," she says simply.

God, she's good. "You know I care about you, Joey..." I begin.

"I know. But you love her," she says. She doesn't seem mad. She seems to understand.

I nod. It's the first time I've admitted it to someone else. And it feels freeing. I smile. "I do. I love her."

"I think she feels the same about you."

"You do?" I half wonder if she's screwing around with me to get back at me. But I can tell from the look on her face that she's sincere. Whether or not she's right is another matter entirely.

"I do."

"I been keeping this to myself, you know, because I was so afraid she didn't return my feelings." I pause. "You probably think I should talk to her, don't you?"

"Of course."

"But what if she doesn't love me?" I say. "Then our professional relationship, and our friendship will be ruined."

"But what if she does love you and neither of you ever said anything about it? What if the two of you give up your chance for love? Wouldn't that be worse?"

I'm not exactly sure why she's so passionate about me and Donna getting together, but I decide not to question it. "Yes," I finally say. "It would."

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The rest of the lunch goes well. Joey and I decide to be friends, and we both are able to relax.

I return to the halls of the West Wing a little before two.

Donna sidles up to me. "Hello, Joshua," she says pleasantly.

My heart leaps. "You're not angry with me?"

"C'mon...if I stayed angry at you for every stupid thing you said, I'd never talk to you again." She's smiling as she says this. She *doesn't* hate me.

On the outside, I try to seem mildly pleased. On the inside, I'm doing my happy dance.

I walk into my office and close the door, leaving Donna outside at her desk. I think about what Joey said. I realize that I have to tell Donna how I feel. It's only fair - - to both of us. The only questions now are when and how.

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It's now getting close to six. I've managed to delay my planned declaration for a few hours...but I haven't managed to stop thinking about it.

Donna...so perfect in so many ways. Even her imperfections are flawless. If she loves me, too...well, I can't think of anything more perfect.

"Josh!" Toby snaps. "You're not listening. Again!"

I look up lazily. "I was listening. You were talking about the stuff with the thing."

"I'm never talking to you again," he says as he storms out of my office. I believe him. And I don't blame him.

Donna enters. "Toby hasn't killed you yet?"

"Not yet. But I think it's only a few hours until the execution."

"Any requests for a last meal?"

You, I think to myself. I don't say it though. It's not a good prelude to declaring your love. "Nothing in particular."

"Do you have anything else for me to do?" Donna asks. "Because, if you don't, I can go home, relax, make some popcorn, and watch a tape of 'L.A. Confidential,'" she continues excitedly. She's so sweet when she's excited. "And dream how much better it would look on DVD," she adds.

I smile. "Just one more thing," I say. "Could you close the door?"

She does.

I get up from my chair and walk towards her, stopping about a foot away. "I have to talk to you." I begin to pace. I don't know why, but I can't help it.

"What are you doing?" Donna asks apprehensively.

"Pacing."

"I can see that. I guess my question should have been 'why'."

"I don't know."

"You're not going to fire me, are you?" she asks in a frightened voice.

"No!" I exclaim too adamantly. "No," I repeat, calmer. "You're much too important to...to me. I could never fire you."

She sighs, relieved. "Then stop pacing. It can't be that bad." She smiles, easing my nervousness.

Donna's right, of course. I stop pacing and move a few inches closer to her. "Donna, you know how people sometimes come to realize certain things...certain truths...certain things they may have known before...but they never really admitted to themselves fully. And then, they do realize." I'm rambling. Donna's staring at me. She probably thinks I'm insane at this point. But I press on anyway. "Well, Donnatella, I've begun to realize...that I'm in love with you. I have been for a long time, maybe since the first moment I saw you." I look her in the eyes, trying to read her reaction. But I'm not quite sure what she's thinking. "I love you."

It's silent for a moment.

"You're not kidding me, are you, Joshua?" she says in a soft and shaky voice.

I'm surprised that she thinks I would joke about such a thing. "Of course not, Donna. I love you. If you don't feel the same way, I understand. But I had to tell you."

A split second later, Donna has her arms around me and is pulling me into a kiss. For a moment, I'm surprised, but I return the kiss wholeheartedly. I had no idea it would be this easy.

She pulls away for a minute. I can see tears are forming in her eyes. "I love you too, Joshua. I always have." She pauses and smiles. "Want to come home and watch 'L.A. Confidential' with me?"

"In a little while," I answer as I pull her in for another kiss.

THE END


 

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