Title: "Hours in the Rain" 2/2
Archive: By permission only
Summary: Donna goes home with Josh to Connecticut for his father's funeral.
Donna hated driving in the rain, especially in a strange town. She had
missed the turn two times already before finally finding the correct one that
would lead her back to the house. She had gotten up early, Josh's credit
card in hand, and slipped off to the nearest mall. There were so many cars
now parked around the quiet cul de sac where the Lymans lived that Donna had
to park on the street several doors down. She tried to juggle the various
packages in her arms while attempting to hold the umbrella Josh's mother had
given her over everything. She only dropped Josh's new shoes once before
making it back to the porch.
Donna left the umbrella open to dry on the porch along with the others fanned
out there. Inside, she could hear all these strange voices and wondered if
there was any way she could sneak around to the back and slip inside
"Donna, we thought maybe you'd gotten lost," Josh's mother said as I opened
the door for her. "Were the directions okay?"
"Yes, thank you," Donna said, with a nod. Suddenly, there was a flock of
women all about the same age as Mrs. Lyman around her.
"This is Donna Moss," Mrs. Lyman said, wrapping her arm unexpectedly around
Donna's shoulders. "She works with my son on the Bartlet campaign."
"It was nice of you to come," one of the women said, her accent even thicker
than Mrs. Lyman's. "For Joshua."
"That's dedication," another one said, shaking her head in approval.
many girls nowadays are that dedicated to their employer."
"Are you Jewish?" yet another asked, with slight disapproval as if she knew
the answer already.
"I-I probably should change," Donna said, gesturing to the garment bag draped
over her arm. She turned towards Josh's mother and held up the shoes.
"Upstairs in my room getting ready," Mrs. Lyman said, letting her arm fall
away. "It's the fourth door on the left."
"Thank you," Donna said, excusing herself from the women and heading up the
stairs. She could hear them talking about her still when she reached the
landing. She looked down one more time and let her eyes sweep across the
small crowd looking for the girl in the photograph--Josh's sister. No one
seemed to fit the description.
Donna retreated into her room--Josh's old room--first so she could change.
She stripped out of her clothes and once again laid them over the chair. She
rummaged through the bags for the pair of dark hose she had found on the
clearance rack and put those on first. Next, she removed the plastic from
around the black dress she had found, also on clearance, and slipped it on.
It was from last season and had short sleeves, but it fit and the price was
definitely right. Lastly, Donna put on the tall, black pumps that weren't on
sale. Donna had a thing for shoes.
She stood in front of the mirror and smoothed a comb through her long, blond
hair. She still felt terribly Protestant and only hoped she wouldn't say or
do anything that would be considered inappropriate. At least she'd have Josh
there to make sure she wouldn't.
Donna picked up the box of shoes and dug Josh's credit card out of her purse.
She headed down the hall to the fourth door on the left and knocked softly.
"Josh? Are you decent?" Donna asked, using the same phrase he'd used last
"Yeah," came the muffled reply on the other side. Donna pushed the door open
and found Josh only half-dressed and trying to button up his shirt.
"I found you some shoes," she said, closing the door behind her. Donna set
the box down on bed and laid the credit card on top.
"Not leather?" Josh asked, reaching for his tie and whipping it around his
neck. He started fumbling with it next, making a sloppy, uneven knot.
"Not leather," Donna assured him, walking over towards Josh. Without
thinking, she gently moved his hands away and unfastened his tie. Josh held
his breath as Donna's slim fingers skillfully wound the silk into a perfect
"Are you this good with bow ties?" he asked, watching her hands. "I
need your skills for the upcoming fundraising dinners."
"I told you you'd find me valuable," Donna mused, adjusting her work some
more and then smoothing the tie down Josh's chest. Her eyes met Josh's one
more time and something in them made her heart tighten. She could only
describe it as need. Need...for her?
"You look good," Josh said, his eyes drifting down her body now clad in
something black and soft that fell just above her knees. "How much did that
"$29.95," Donna replied, taking a step back so Josh could get a better look.
"The shoes cost more."
"Yours or mine?" Josh asked, sitting on the edge of the bed so he could put
on the non-leather shoes.
"Both," Donna replied enigmatically. She sat down beside him and crossed her
legs and arms. She was already feeling the effects of the short sleeves.
"There's a lot of people downstairs," Josh commented as he laced up one shoe
and then the other. "I don't even know who most of them are. Friends of my
father's. Men from the firm. I think my cousin Emily is here. Stay away
from her, Donna. She's a pain in the ass."
"I wish I knew Yiddish," Donna said, with a gentle sigh. "Then I'd know
they were saying about me."
"How do you know they're saying anything about you? Wait-what am I saying?
You're a pretty, blonde girl here with me. Of course they're talking about
you," Josh muttered under his breath before standing up again. He bounced up
and down to test his new shoes and winced. "These are very uncomfortable."
"Of course they're uncomfortable," Donna said. "They aren't leather. And
careful not to slip. They have no traction either."
"Yeah," Josh said, reaching for his jacket. It was his darkest suit and the
only one Donna had packed for him. His mother must have ironed out the
wrinkles. Josh adjusted his cuffs until they were even and looked to Donna
for approval. "Do I look okay?"
"You look good."
"Yeah," Donna assured him. Josh drew a deep breath and started fidgeting
"I just hope I don't mess this thing up," he mumbled, messing with his
"The Kaddish?" Donna asked, rising to her feet again and laying her hands
over his to stop them from moving. He closed his eyes and nodded.
"Yeah. I haven't been exactly practicing my faith...not since..."
Josh opened his eyes at the sound of his name.
"We'd better get downstairs," Josh said, looking into Donna's eyes.
Schulman is probably here and they're ready to start."
"Are you ready to start?" Donna asked sincerely, her hands finding their way
to his shoulders. It seemed to steady Josh and he nodded.
Donna thought Josh recited the Kaddish perfectly, even though she had never
heard it before and it was read in Hebrew. And when he returned to his seat,
he tucked Donna's hand into the crook of his arm as if was where it belonged.
Maybe for that day, it did. The rest of the simple ceremony went by
quickly--psalms were recited and then a eulogy and then a memorial prayer.
There were a few times during the service Josh's mother cried, but was
quickly comforted by her son. Josh himself didn't cry, although there were
times Donna thought he might.
After it was over, the simple, pine casket was carried out by several men.
Josh unexpectedly released his grip on Donna's hand.
"Donna?" Josh whispered, leaning close enough so his lips could press against
her ear. "The family members have to leave first."
"Okay," she whispered back, silently watching him walk in procession with his
mother. She felt his absence almost immediately.
It was still raining by the time they made it to cemetery, although not quite
as hard as it was earlier. There was tarp set up over the grave that would
offer some shelter. Donna managed to slip her way around the crowd to return
to Josh's side. She touched his arm and when he looked at her, she saw his
eyes were rimmed in red. He took her hand off his shoulder and once again,
tucked it into his arm.
"May he come to his place in peace," Rabbi Schulman said as the coffin was
lowered into the ground. It was then Donna noticed the tombstone directly to
'Lyman' was engraved across the center, flanked by the Star of David and a
menorah. But that wasn't what made her heart swell and tighten; it was the
smaller words to the right and near the bottom. Joan. Beloved Daughter and
Sister. From the dates, Josh couldn't have been more than ten, maybe eleven
when she died. Donna's eyes moved from the tombstone to Josh's face and
found him staring at it as well.
The sound of something hitting wood distracted them both as Josh's mother
threw a handful of earth over the coffin. Josh let Donna's hand go so he
could do the same, spattering the dirt across it. Other people followed and
repeated the gesture. Donna wasn't sure if she should as well. She looked
to Josh and he nodded.
"Go ahead," he whispered and Donna lowered herself to ground. Josh watched
as Donna's pale fingers slid through the dark soil to gather up a handful.
She stood up again and carefully scattered it over his father's grave.
"May the Lord comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem,"
the people muttered as they slowly walked away.
"No-no. It's fartoost," Emily said, correcting Donna's pronunciation. She
had decided twenty minutes ago that she was going to take it upon herself to
teach Donna Yiddish. No matter how politely Donna attempted to disengage
herself from the conversation, Emily persisted in her lesson. Perhaps Josh
was right about his cousin Emily.
"Fahtooshed," Donna tried again and Emily shook her head in defeat. It was
all the distraction Donna needed to grab hold of a passing stranger. "Excuse
me? Have you seen Josh?"
"No," the man answered politely and Donna nodded her thanks. She hadn't seen
Josh since they had eaten a traditional meal of eggs and bread and that was
almost an hour ago. She was beginning to worry.
"Deigeh nisht," Emily assured her. "He's here. You're very devoted to
Joshua, aren't you?"
"Emily," Donna began, laying her hand on the woman's arm. "Would you
me? I-I need to use the restroom."
"The vash-tsimmer," Emily stated and Donna smiled politely.
"I'll be back," Donna said and hoped Emily would not follow her to restroom
or anywhere else she was going to go.
Donna wove her way through the house, looking in each room she passed for
Josh. She had gotten good at singling out his voice or spotting his swagger
as he walked in a crowd. She was confident she could find Josh anywhere, but
at the moment, Josh was nowhere to be seen.
Donna climbed the stairs to check his mother's room on the chance he had
retreated up there. He hadn't. Donna was almost to the stairs when she
heard something from inside the room she was staying in.
She lay her hand on the knob, twisted it open and poked her head in. Josh
immediately stood up from where he was sitting on the bed, a picture in his
hand. He set it quickly back on the dresser and shuffled from side to side,
scratching the back of his head nervously.
"Josh, are you okay?" Donna asked, closing the door behind her. Josh
fidgeted some more, looking everywhere but in her eyes.
"Yeah. Is-is my mother looking for me?" he asked, taking a sudden interest
in his non-leather shoes.
"No," Donna replied, walking over to the dresser and picking up the
photograph he just put back. Donna traced Josh's eight-year-old face with
her fingertips, amazed how little his smile had changed. He was a handsome
boy--a handsome man. She shifted her thoughtful gaze to the girl who held
him. "This is Joan?"
"Uh--Joanie," Josh corrected, moving closer to Donna to look at it with her.
He put one hand on his hip and pointed to his sister with the other.
"She-she went by Joanie."
"She was pretty, Josh."
"She was pretty mean. To me. She would do that. Grab me from behind and
spin me around until I'd puke," Josh explained, making circles in the air
above the picture with his index finger.
"You were smiling. You must have loved it," Donna surmised, looking up at
"Yeah," Josh said, his voice breaking on that one word. He took a deep
breath and exhaled it, the air fluttering unsteadily out of his lungs. Once
again, Josh took the photograph and put it back on the dresser. He stared at
it some more. "That's the hard part about all this. Last time my mother did
any of this was for Joanie."
Donna moved to stand behind him, her hands finding their way to his
shoulders. She said nothing as she let her thumbs gently rub against the
strained muscles there.
"There was this fire..." Josh began, speaking so softly Donna could barely
hear him. She moved a little closer and listened carefully as he continued.
"Joanie was babysitting me and I wanted popcorn. They said that's what
caused the fire--the popcorn maker. It was something electrical."
"I ran out of the house. Joanie didn't. It burned to the ground so fast,
Donna..." Josh said, his fingers coming up to grip the edge of the dresser.
"And all I could do was watch."
"I'm sorry," was all Donna could say. His body shook slightly and she moved
her hands from his shoulders and slipped them under his arms instead. She
wrapped her long arms around his torso, holding him from behind. Donna
turned her face to the side and pressed it against his back. She looked at
the window, at the rain that fell on the glass and ran in rivulets. She
listened to the sound of his breathing and his heart and held him a little
"I didn't want to watch dad die either," Josh added, turning his head and
looking out the window with her. He took his hands off the dresser and
folded his arms over Donna's. "He didn't want me to. I could have come back
here when I found out he had cancer, but I didn't. I-I thought it was going
to be Hoynes, but it's Bartlet. He's the one. And I'm going to get him in
the White House, Donna. For dad."
"You will," Donna assured him, closing her watery eyes. She didn't even know
she was crying, but she was. For Josh. For this man she'd only known
eight-almost nine-weeks who trusted her enough to tell her these things he
probably never told anyone.
"Will you help me, Donna?" he asked, looking over his shoulder at her. His
voice was pleading. "Will you?"
"Yeah," Donna said, nodding against his back. She felt Josh's arms tighten
over hers. "I will."
And they stood there, just watching the rain.
"Joshua said you're from Wisconsin?"
"And you left because your boyfriend broke up with you?"
"I broke up with him," Donna clarified as Mrs. Lyman handed her another plate
to wash. It was nearly ten o'clock and they almost had the house cleaned.
The last guest had finally gone home an hour ago, leaving just the three of
them alone for the first time all day. Donna was still wearing her black
dress, minus the shoes, as she stood in front of the sink working.
"Dr. Freeride," Josh interjected before taking a sip of his coffee. He was
seated at the kitchen table, instructed by both his mother and Donna to stay
out of their way. Josh had changed into his sweats and t-shirt already. His
mother looked at him and then he explained, "He made her quit college to put
his ass through med school. What else am I supposed to call the jerk?"
"You're better off," Mrs. Lyman said, touching Donna's arm affectionately.
"A nice girl like you doesn't need a zhlob that like."
"Thanks," Donna said, smoothing a strand of hair off her face. Josh was like
his mother in many ways--but especially in her direct way of speaking.
Anything Josh was feeling had a way of coming out his mouth. Donna herself
was the same way.
"Noah would have liked you," Mrs. Lyman added after a minute. Her eyes
searched Donna's. "You're good for my son."
"Mom..." Josh warned, as if he was afraid of what else she was going to
"What?" she answered, giving Donna the last plate and shrugging. She wiped
her hands on her apron before taking it off. She tossed it on the counter.
"Your father would have liked Donna, Joshua. He would have thought she was a
little crazy for wanting to work for you, but he would have like her."
"Dad would have tried to steal her away to work for his firm," Josh stated,
slouching back in his chair. Donna and his mother turned to they could watch
him. His posture and tone changed slightly and Donna realized he was
imitating his father. "Donnatella Moss, that's a pretty name. It'll look
good on a gold nameplate on your desk. What? My son hasn't even given you
your own desk? I'll give you a desk. And I'll double your salary."
"Double of nothing? Hmmm, that's tempting," Donna said, pretending to mull
over the offer. Even if she were to be presented with a real one, Donna
wasn't interested in working for anyone else.
She'd found something more important than gold nameplates and desks.
Her eyes met Josh's and he held her gaze, waiting for her answer.
"But your son and I are putting the next President in the White House. And
he promised me my own office," she said, placing one hand on her hip. She
gestured to herself with the other.
"I did not..." Josh protested, but was silenced by his mother as she moved
beside him. She took his face in her hands.
"Joshua...you don't *pay* this girl?" she demanded. Josh looked to Donna to
rescue him. She only smiled as she turned back to the sink to drain the
water as they continued.
"I'm putting her on salary as soon as I can...
"You don't pay this girl and she came all the way from Chicago for your
"She has some kind of travel impulse disorder..."
"She went out in the rain to get you shoes."
"She used *my* credit card..."
"You better not let this one go," she instructed in such a tone it was clear
there was no talking back this time. Donna looked up and caught their
reflection in the window before her. Mrs. Lyman moved around behind Josh and
wrapped her arms around his neck, her head cradled on his. She rocked him
gently and they both stared at Donna.
"She's not Jewish..." Josh said, making one last attempt.
"Times have changed," she replied, kissing her son on the top of his head
before letting him go. "I have to go upstairs. Donna, can you finish up
"Yeah," Donna replied, looking over her shoulder to nod at her before she
left. She turned her head a little further and looked at Josh, who was
rubbing his eyes. After a minute, he stood up to join her.
"I'm sorry," Josh said, moving behind her in the small space in front of the
"Sorry for what?" Donna inquired, wiping her hands dry. She draped the
dishtowel over the faucet neatly.
"For my mother. She gets nosy," Josh explained, jamming his hands into the
front pockets of his sweats. "She thinks you and I...she thinks we should
"Shtuping?" Donna said, turning her again head and grinning at the surprised
expression on Josh's face.
"Uh-yeah. Wait. How do you know what shtuping is?" Josh asked, his eyes
wide with wonderment over Donna's new vocabulary word.
"Your cousin Emily," Donna answered, tapping Josh's hip so he'd move out of
her way. He did, but he followed her as she walked around the counter to put
the dishes away.
"Emily was teaching you dirty Yiddish words?"
"Yeah. Well, just one. That one."
"It's a good word to know," Josh mumbled and then gave Donna an innocent look
while he backpedaled. "I mean, not that you'd ever want to use the word
'shtup' in casual conversation. Don't use it around Toby. You'll get him all
excited. And I'm not supposed to be shtuping for the next seven days anyway,
so I don't know what her problem is."
"You can't shtup for seven days?" Donna asked. She flipped off the lights in
the kitchen and now they were standing in the dark. Josh moved so he was
"No. It's part of sitting shiva. And I'm also not supposed to bathe."
"That makes sense. If you're not going to bathe in seven days, you can
hardly expect to get shtuped," Donna said and that made Josh laugh. It
didn't last long, but it was good to hear. He wiped a hand across his eyes
and smiled at her.
"There isn't going to be much time for shtuping or anything else when we get
back, Donna," Josh said with regret. He sighed heavily as he glanced at the
clock on the wall. "Can you believe we'll be on a plane to California in
less than ten hours?"
"Are you sure you want to go back so soon?" Donna asked, looking up at him.
"I'm sure the Governor would understand if you wanted to stay here a few more
days to be with your mother."
"No," Josh said. He took another deep breath and shook his head. "I need
get back. There's so much we have to do in California..."
"Yeah," Donna agreed, closing her eyes long enough to imagine those things.
Phone calls, meetings, rallies, interviews, appearances. Josh would be
working even harder now. They all would.
And there wouldn't be time for...
Donna opened her eyes and found Josh standing even closer to her. He slowly
pulled his hands from his pockets and put them on her shoulders, gently
pushing her hair aside. Inside, her heart was beating hard, unsure of what
was going to happen. She knew what she wanted to happen, even though she
knew it shouldn't.
Before Donna could say something, his lips were on hers. Innocent at first,
but soon the kiss deepened into something much more. Through her body swept
this warmth, this yearning that only intensified with each passing second.
She parted her lips and felt Josh's tongue slide against her own. He slid
his arms around her shoulders, pulling her into them. There was an
undercurrent of need to it, the same need she'd sensed earlier. A need that
had nothing to do with his father's funeral or grief or the campaign or
anything else around them.
The need for her.
But Josh was still vulnerable right now, and the very last thing she wanted
to do was to start a relationship under that circumstance. Maybe in a couple
weeks or a month after Josh had some time...
She certainly wasn't planning on going anywhere.
Somehow, Donna managed to slip her hands between her and Josh and laid them
on his chest. She reluctantly pushed out, breaking the kiss much more
abruptly than she intended. Josh immediately took a step back, his face a
mixture of both surprise and embarrassment as he stared at her.
"Josh," Donna breathed, lifting one hand off his chest and laying her fingers
over her lips.
"I'm sorry," Josh said, his eyes wide. "Donna, I'm sorry..."
"No, it's okay. It's okay," she assured him quickly. Donna moved her hand
off her lips and back to Josh's chest. She gave him a small smile. "It's
just...no shtuping, remember?"
"Yeah," he said, looking relieved that it was okay. He unwrapped his arms
from around Donna. "And not in my mother's house. I'll never hear the end
"Let's get you packed," she offered, reaching for his hand. She loosely
laced her fingers with his. "And you can tell me more about your father."
"Okay," Josh agreed, letting Donna pull him out of the kitchen and into the
living room until he suddenly stopped. "Donna?"
"It finally stopped raining," Josh said, gesturing with his other hand. He
had stopped in front of the window. Donna came up beside him and looked.
Sure enough, it had.