PART FOUR

 

Thursday was unbearable to Josh. He had barely talked to Donna. He knew she was upset over his talking to Sam about her, but that couldn't be it. There had to be something else bothering her, and it was his mission to find out. First, he would send her something to feel better.

"Olivia!" He bellowed.

She entered his office a few seconds later. "Don't yell, Joshua."

"I want to send Donna a gift basket. She's a bit stressed over a paper she has to hand in tonight. Get one that has lots of chocolate, candy, & girly stuff that she'll like."

Mrs. Crawford smiled and shook her head, "and I should have this sent to her desk?"

"Yes."

"Consider it done. By the way, is there anything in particular you'd like for your birthday?" She grinned at him.

"Don't tell me," He groaned.

"Sandy Wells called early to make sure that I kept your birthday clear and not to give you any excuse to get out of it."

"Don't worry, I'll be there. I know her well enough to know what would happen if I didn't show up. I'll have to get back to you on the gift, or better yet, surprise me."

"Yes, Josh. I'll get right on Donna's basket now," she smiled and left.

He thought for a moment about calling Sandy and asking for advice regarding Donna. He decided against it because Donna would probably get upset about him talking to Sam's mom about them.

Sam.

He'd totally forgotten about the bet. He was most likely behind on it now. No wonder Ainsley had been at the movie the night before. He had to act fast. He knew Sam was going to a benefit that night and Mallory would be there. He just had to make sure Ainsley didn't know, but how?

Suddenly a wicked smile up crept over his face. He picked up the phone and dialed Ainsley's extension.

*****

 

Later that night, Donna returned to the West Wing after her class. She always did that, even thought the President insisted repeatedly that she should go home.

This time she came back because she wanted to talk to Josh, but she dreaded the conversation since she knew he would consider it stupid.

She found Ainsley sitting at her old desk.

"What are you doing here?"

Ainsley looked up at her. "I'm helping Josh with something and I figured Mrs. Crawford wouldn't mind me sitting here."

This was rather suspicious to Donna. "You are helping Josh? On what? When did that come up?"

"He called me this morning to see if I could help him on the Malcolm thing. It's taken us longer than I thought, so I guess I won't make it to the benefit after all."

Donna closed her eyes as the truth dawned on her. Just then Josh came out of his office.

"Ainsley, what do you think about article 37 h? Maybe we should change it." He stopped when he saw Donna standing there with her arms folded. "Hey, Donna. How was your class?"

"Pretty good. My professor really liked my paper. Can I talk to you in your office?" She didn't give him a chance to reply. She just walked into his office.

"I guess we will discuss this later, Ainsley." He shrugged at her and followed Donna into his office.

"Close the door."

Josh did as he was told. "I'm really liking this dominant side of you. Now, if only you had your equipment."

"Oh, shut up, Josh!"

He knew that tone. "What did I do now?"

"Ainsley." Donna sat down in his chair.

"How's that? I know I'm not responsible for her, two southern republicans are. You can also blame the Republican Party for her, and even Sam and Leo, but I don't see how—"

"Josh!"

"What?"

"The benefit."

"What benefit? Oh." Josh gave her his most innocent face. At least he tried to. "Oops, guess I forgot. Too late now."

"You did it on purpose! That way Sam could be with Mallory and then you win the bet."

"I did no such thing." He smiled. "Funny how things work out."

"Josh."

"What do you care? It's not like you are even in on the bet."

She narrowed her eyes at him, "I am now & I'm rooting for Ainsley."

Josh rolled his eyes, "For crying out loud, Donna. You are only mad at me for the sake of being mad! We aren't a TV couple that gets stale after hooking up. We are real."

 

What a jerk! She so wasn't going to talk about them now. "I'm going now. See you tomorrow."

"Tomorrow? C'mon Donna, this isn't fair. What should I do now?"

"I don't know. I guess you could always reacquaint yourself with your favorite hand.

*****

Sam quickly walked over to Leo, who was talking to Congressman Roberts. Sam signaled to Leo, who ended the conversation and turned to him.

"What is it, Sam?"

"Help," he pointed towards the dance floor, where his mother was dancing with Lord Marbury.

Leo chuckled, "I'm sorry, Sam, Josh already tried. We can't get him deported."

"I quote: 'Samuel, my boy, your mother is delightful. I've always been a fan of her work. If only I'd known before, but no time like the present.'"

"For what?" Leo asked. "By the way, you do a great Marbury impression."

"Leo! He also went on about how he envied the actor, who portrayed Lord Christopher "Kit" Darcy because he had an affair with Brooke."

"So? Who are Brooke and Kit?"

"My mom's character on the soap and a friend of his played Kit, but he wished he could have been Kit himself."

"Again, so?"

"Leo!"

"I'm going."

Sam didn't move until he saw Leo cut in on Marbury and start dancing with his mom.

"Unbelievable! I can't believe you sent my dad to do your dirty work."

"Mallory," he turned around to face her. "How are you doing tonight?"

"I'm doing fine, Sam. How about you?"

Sam looked at her. She was beautiful. She wore a white and orange gown, with a tight bodice, and a square cut neckline. The skirt was a straight A cut, with a small slit in the back at calf length. The complete ensemble emphasized every curve in her body. Her jewelry was simple. She really didn't need anything else since she was radiant enough. She had a simple gold chain with a pendant that looked like an orange ruby, matching earring and a ring, too.

"I'm doing ok myself. Although I kept wondering when I was going to see you tonight."

Mallory raised an eyebrow. "You were here when I arrived. You could have come over to greet me."

"So could you," he snapped back.

"Well, I didn't know if you were with your little Republican." She grabbed a champagne glass from a passing waiter. "Where is she, by the way?"

"Last I heard she was working on something with Josh."

"Ok." She replied.

"Where's the bat boy?" Sam almost sneered.

"Be nice, Sam, and his name is Casey."

"Casey," Sam repeated. "Wasn't there a dumb cartoon about a guy named Casey, who couldn't play baseball if his life depended on it?"

"Wow! Double negative, Sam. This thing with Casey must really be driving you nuts," she took a sip from her drink and slightly grinned.

"What do you expect? You are two timing me with this guy!"

"What?" Mallory raised her arms, spilled some of her drink, then turned around and walked into the terrace. Sam quickly followed.

"What's the matter with you, Mal?"

"Me? You call me a two timer, but you conveniently forget that you are dating Ainsley too!"

"Ainsley and I are only friends."

"Yeah. Right. Then so are Casey and I."

"Of course you are. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that your Casey is that gay baseball player."

Mallory gave him the go to hell look.

"I'm serious Mallory. I'm sure he is the boyfriend of the editor of the Advocate. Or maybe it was Out magazine? Anyway, he wrote an article about how tough it is still to be out and he mentioned his boyfriend, who is a Major League Baseball player and can't be out because of it. I'm sure it's your new pal."

Mallory glared at him. "That's nice, Sam. Really great. I thought you were pro gay rights."

"I am, which is why I'm going to work hard so those two crazy kids can finally get married." Sam raised his eyebrows and laughed.

"Hmmmm," Mallory shook her head. "Poor Donna, I guess she was right."

"Huh?" Sam looked dumbfounded. "You lost me."

"Do I have to spell it out for you? You read gay magazines, after all."

"I'm going to kill Donna."

"Poor baby," She drank from her drink. "Maybe you should run and tell your mommy."

"Mal, what's wrong? I know why Donna's mad or at least I'm pretty sure of it. Why are you upset with me? It can't be because I made fun of your new boy toy. That was to be expected of me."

"You want to know why I'm upset?" She pointed towards the dance floor, spilling what was left of her drink on Sam's shoes.

"Watch it!"

She rolled her eyes at him. "You'll live." She stared at Sandy dancing with Leo. She really looked gorgeous. Like a star would. She had on a royal purple dress with a tight, heart shaped bodice, cinched at the waist, and tight down to the hips. The skirt consisted of fine silk layers that ended up in a long train. Her hair was loose and left flowing down her shoulders, but it didn't hide her jewelry. She had on a necklace, close around her neck, with amethysts, diamonds, and emeralds shaped as flowers. She also had the matching earrings, bracelet, and purse.

"I love your mom's dress. I really like her purple sandals too."

"You are upset with me because of that? How?

Mallory stared at him. "You are an idiot. You know that, right? I can't believe there are people who have called you a genius."

"Really?" Sam's face brightened.

"Sam, focus!"

"Yeah. So, I guess you are upset about me dragging your dad out to dance with my mom. I shouldn't have done that."

"I don't mind that you did that. What I am upset is that you didn't tell me about your mom!"

"Huh?" Sam looked more confused. "You already knew about her."

"Yes, and I never breathed a word about it. To anyone."

"Mallory, I still don't get why you are upset."

"I found out about your mom being here from the TV! And then I learned that you took Ainsley to dinner with her!"

"Mal," Sam said softly.

"No, how do you think that made me feel? I'm tired of this stupid game we play!" She was fighting back tears, which surprised him. He'd only seen her cry twice. Once was about Leo and the other was when Josh and the President were shot.

"I didn't mean anything by it. I didn't even do it. Donna was showing mom around the White House and introduced her to Ainsley. Mom was the one who asked her to join us. I didn't want to."

"Still, it doesn't make me feel better." She folded her arms.

They hadn't noticed their parents approaching them as they kept on arguing.

"Mallory, believe me, I didn't mean anything by that or anything else. I guess that's just part of the dance we do."

"We are not Josh and Donna," she hissed.

Sam was about to reply, but Leo made his presence known.

"So, this is where you hid yourself, baby." He glanced over at Sam. "Everything OK?"

Sam closed his eyes. He really didn't need Leo mad at him now.

"We just wanted to get some fresh air, Dad." She looked at Sandy. "You must be Sam's mom."

"And you must be the famous Mallory. I've wanted to meet you for the past few days." She smiled at Mallory while Sam cringed and became redder by the minute.

"Famous?"

"Yes. I've heard so much about you that I feel like I know you already. In fact give me a hug." She enveloped Mallory in her arms. "Your father talks about you all the time."

Mallory pulled away and looked at Sam. He knew she was heartbroken. "Yeah, that's good old Dad," she stammered. "I have a headache and the fresh air hasn't helped – at all. I think I'll just grab a cab and go home."

"I can take you home." Leo offered.

"No. Stay and enjoy the party. I'll be fine." She turned to Sam and Sandy. "Bye, Sam. It was great meeting you, Sandy," she walked away quickly.

Sam looked after her and then desperately at Leo, "I..."

"Forget about it. Just go after her. I'll take your mom to your place."

Sam nodded and went after Mallory.

Sandy sighed and shook her head, "Kids. Guess it's just you and me, Leo."

"Shall we continue dancing?" He offered his hand.

She smiled and took it.

*****

PART FIVE

 

The President sat at his desk, looking pensive. Whatever it was, he was concentrating on it very hard. Donna felt bad about interrupting him.

"Excuse me, Mr. President."

"Huh?" The President saw her come in. "Good Morning, Donna. What do you have for me?"

"Your schedule, sir." She handed it to him.

"Ahh, thank you."

"Do you need anything else, Mr. President?"

"No, not right now." She started to leave, but he stopped her. "Say, Donna, how often do you think they vacuum this carpet? The seal always looks so spiffy."

"Spiffy, sir?"

"Yes."

"Well, I don't know, but I can look into it. Is there anything going on, sir?"

"It's today, it's strange. It's freaky, it's a freaky Friday," he thought for a moment. "I could've sworn there was a movie with that name once."

"There was sir, but unless Zoey and The First Lady have been acting weird, I don't think there's anything to worry about."

"Good then," the President stood. "Why do you think it's a freaky Friday?"

"Well, sir," she began, "Maybe it is because the time is now 7:53 am and Leo hasn't arrived yet."

"You noticed that too?"

"Noticed?" Donna laughed. "Margaret is going insane. She's called him at home and on the cell phone and there's no answer. Now she is searching his office for a secret date book to see if he has scheduled anything without telling her again."

"This is Leo we are talking about. There has to be a reason... and you should go help her find out. Go to the bullpen, ask Sam and Josh, maybe they know something."

Donna shook her head. "Yes, sir." Then she left.

*****

Josh was talking with Sam in his office. It had been quite funny when Sam barged in, asking for romantic advice.

"Tell me again what she said."

"She was upset because I didn't tell her that mom was here." Sam replied.

"No, Sam, she's mad because Ainsley knew & she didn't but I didn't mean that I meant the other thing."

"That she and I aren't you and Donna."

"She said this in response to your comment about it being part of the –"

"Yes, the dance we do." Sam finished for him.

"That was your first mistake. You can't compare your situation with ours."

"Really?" Sam folded his arms.

"Yes. Donna and I were pretty much blind about our feelings for years. We needed a little push."

Sam raised an eyebrow.

"Ok." Josh amended, "A big gigantic push, but the point is that it's different. You and Mallory met, liked each other, kissed, sort of dated, you screwed up, and eventually began the weird, unstable thing you have now."

"As opposed to you two who always acted like a married couple. Just without the kissing then, and now pretty close to being an actual married couple."

"Well, yeah, Donna and I-"Josh suddenly stopped. "What do you mean by an actual married couple. I'm not getting married. Who said I was?"

"Hmmm," Sam grinned. It was fun to watch Josh actually squirm. "A few days ago I heard Donna talking on the phone, saying that she was sure HE was going to propose soon. That she could read the signs."

"She's wrong! There were no signs to be read."

"What are you going to do about it?"

"I could always propose, but insist on a 2 year engagement. Say it's a family thing." Josh looked up at Sam, "Think she'll buy that?"

Sam shook his head, "No."

"Me neither. I just have to be the master politician that I am and convince her that we are not ready for this. but I have to do it in a way that she thinks it's her idea."

"You know that you're screwed, right?"

"Completely." Josh covered his face with his hands and mumbled, "why can't she see that I'm not ready to get married."

"Donna," Sam quickly said.

"Of course, who else?" Josh looked up and saw that she had entered his office. "Hi."

"Am I interrupting anything, boys?"

"Er... no. We... We were just having a discussion about-," Josh stumbled over the words, trying to find some way to finish the sentence.

"Who should be Legolas and Aragorn." Sam jumped in.

"You guys are still on that?" She shook her head. "It's simple. Aragorn hot, Legolas pretty. Besides, I don't think the new secret service code names are coming out of The Lord of the Rings."

"Oh well, that's too bad." Josh stood up. "What brings you here, Donna?"

She was surprised at his tone. "I'm looking for Leo."

"Gee, Donna, did you think about maybe checking, I don't know, his office." Josh told her.

"Why, what a great idea! I would have never thought to go there first. My plan was to search in all but the obvious places." Donna smirked.

"Leo's not in his office, I gather." Sam stepped in.

"Yeah. The President sent me over to find out if anyone knows anything."

"He was fine last night and he didn't mention anything when he brought mom home."

"Leo brought your mom home?" Josh smiled evilly.

"Grow up, Josh. You know why he had to do that."

"Whatever, Sam," Josh turned to Donna. "I'm sure Leo had something to do and forgot to tell Margaret. The question is why you felt that you needed to come all the way over here, instead of just calling on the phone." Josh grinned at her. "I think someone misses me."

Donna rolled her eyes at him. "It was the President's idea. My guess is that he wants to play solitaire on my computer."

Both men nodded. That sounded like the President.

"Anyways, I'm going to ask around for a bit. You guys keep discussing whatever it really was."

Josh waited until he was sure she wasn't around. "You think she heard us?"

"Completely."

"I'm so screwed." Josh hit his head repeatedly on his desk.

*****

The President sat in Donna's desk trying to break her record on Solitaire, but he really wasn't good with computers. Even though it was weird that Leo wasn't around yet, he found it to be relaxing. Plus it didn't hurt that the briefing he was supposed to be at got pushed back an hour.

Suddenly Donna's phone began ringing. He looked around to see if anyone would answer it, but no one did. He figured it wouldn't hurt since you should never leave a ringing phone unanswered. It could be an emergency after all.

"He-" He couldn't even finish answering it because he was received by a loud squeal.

"OH MY GOD! HE PROPOSED! YOU WERE SO RIGHT!"

"Hmmm, congratulations?" The President spoke into the phone.

"Oh no. I'm sorry; I must have dialed the wrong extension. Please forgive me."

"If you are calling for Donna, she stepped out for a moment. I only answered because I was near the phone."

"Josh? You don't sound like yourself."

"That's because I'm not Josh. It's Jed."

"Jed?" There was silence for a moment and the President knew she was figuring it out. He couldn't help but smile. "Oh God! I yelled at the President. I am so sorry, sir."

"Don't be, you thought I was Donna and it seems you have wonderful news. By the way, who am I talking to?"

"I'm Rachel, Donna's roommate."

"Ahh. She's told me about you. Your boyfriend, Michael is a doctor, right?"

"Yes."

"As you know, I married a doctor. They can be annoying, but it's always a good thing if there's love."

"Thank you, sir."

"Don't mention it." The President leaned back in Donna's chair. "So, did you say yes?"

"I did." This is surreal. I'm chatting it up with the President, who is probably too busy for this."

"I'm never too busy to talk to my constituents and I love getting good news."

They talked for a bit more until Donna returned.

"Sir?" Donna was a bit surprised to find him using her phone.

He spoke into the phone. "Donna's back, so I'm going to put you on hold for a few moments. It was great talking to you, Rachel and I want to meet you and Michael one of these days." He then started to look for the hold button.

"The red one, sir." Donna told him and he pushed that one. "Rachel? As in my roommate?"

"Yes, see, I happened to be by your desk-"

"Playing Solitaire, no doubt."

"Details are not important." The President tried to not laugh. "The phone rang and I answered it because it could have been an emergency. It turned out to be your friend, Rachel with wonderful news and we started talking."

Donna's eyes grew very wide, "Oh my God! Michael proposed, didn't he?"

"Yes, he did." The President smiled as well. "So, I'm going to let you have your time to talk and then come inside the office."

Donna nodded, "thank you, sir."

He started to go inside his office and turned around, "So? Did you get anything about Leo?"

"No, sir."

"Weird," he shook his head and went inside.

Donna picked up the phone and began a conversation that consisted of squealing from both sides.

*****

 

 

Donna was busy working at her desk. Charlie had left for the University library and then had to run some errands for the President, who was busy talking to Fitzwallace in the Oval Office. They all froze when they heard Margaret's piercing scream.

"Where in heaven's name have you been?"

"Margaret..." Leo began.

"Margaret nothing! Don't think that you can come in here and say my name with that Leo voice you have and move on. Explain yourself." By this time they had an audience since the President opened their connecting door. He stood there with Fitzwallace and Donna behind.

"Margaret, I'm a big boy. I can go off by myself. Besides, you could have called my cell phone." He told her.

"Ha! I called, many, many times and you never answered." She replied.

"Hmmm," Leo took out his cell phone. "I apologize. It seems I had it in silent mode. It will never happen again. Now let's get to work."

"You never said where you were," she insisted.

"I had a breakfast appointment and yes, I made it myself. Now scoot." He told her, then he turned to his audience, "and that goes for you too."

Donna quickly went back to her desk. Fitzwallace whispered something to the President and left him alone with Leo.

"Breakfast appointment?" The President raised an eyebrow.

"Don't start."

"And I wonder why you, of all people, would turn your ringer off. I would have thought you slept with that thing in your ear."

"Jed." Leo said warningly.

"I just want to know what possessed you to do that. Are you really Leo McGarry?"

"Fine, Mr. Nosy Parker, I turned it off last night because I was having a good time at the benefit and I forgot about it. It will never happen again, sir."

The President shook his head and walked over to Leo's couch, where he sat down. He patted the seat next to him. "Leo. Leo. Leo. I'm happy that you had a good time last night. In fact, I think you should do it more often, but do remember to let Margaret know about your whereabouts." The President grinned and Leo finally sat next to him.

"Jed..."

"You know something? I'm somewhat jealous that you get to spend so much time with Sandy." The President sighed, "you are living out one of my fantasies."

"Actually—"

"Of course, I'm really happy with Abbey. Nothing or no one could even approach how much—"

"Jed, I wasn't with Sandy this morning."

"Why, Leo..."

"Stuff it, Jed. I was having breakfast with Mallory, you know, my daughter."

"Well," Jed looked at him seriously. "That's good too. As parents we should always spend time with our children. So? What did you talk about? Betcha a Seaborn was involved."

"You know she doesn't use that last name."

"A ha!" Jed said pointedly.

"Don't you have a –" At that moment, Donna popped in to remind the President that Fitzwallace was still waiting in the Oval Office.

"Ahh, saved by the Fitz... but don't think that you are free just yet. I'll be back." The President said the last part in a bad – really bad – Arnold Swartzeneger impression.

"Oh brother," Leo told no one in particular and proceeded to yell for Margaret so he could get started on the events of the day.

*****

Later that day, Josh questioned Donna about Leo. He also wanted to find out more about the proposal situation, but he didn't want to rush it.

"He really was with Mallory? I thought that-"

"What?" Donna interrupted him. "What did you and your dirty mind think?"

"Nothing Donna," Josh replied. "It was something stupid."

"No doubt," Donna agreed.

Josh rolled his eyes at her. "Listen, what are your plans for tomorrow?"

"I planned something with the girls. By the way, I have some very important news about Rachel. She—"

He interrupted her again. "Can you cancel? There's something more important that I need to talk to you about."

She was a bit upset at him for having cut her off, so she was quite short with him in return. "Then we'll have to wait until Sunday, I guess, because I don't plan on canceling on my friends."

He was about to apologize when Charlie showed up. "I'm back, Donna." He put up a bunch of bags on her desk. "Those wedding magazines are kind of expensive."

That caused Josh to start sweating bullets, but neither Charlie nor Donna noticed. They were too busy going through the rest of the purchases.

"Runaway Bride – sucks," Charlie said. "My Best Friend's Wedding – sucked a bit less; Father of the Bride – ok, that was funny. The sequel wasn't. The Best Man – too damn long." Charlie looked over the movies, the magazines, and then at Donna. "What's with the theme?"

Josh didn't wait for Donna's answer. He bolted quickly out of the room, telling Donna that they would do something on Sunday.

"Ok... Anyway, my roommate, Rachel, just got engaged so – I didn't get a chance to tell Josh about it."

"Oh, I figured you and Josh were thinking about getting married." Charlie told her.

"Us? No way. I've thought about it, but Josh is nowhere near being ready. Maybe someday, after he grows up."

They both laughed at this.

"Hey!" Donna exclaimed as she looked around the stuff he had given her. "Where's my change? There's supposed to be change."

"You bought me a cup of coffee." Charlie grinned.

"Charlie."

"And cookies too." He smiled at her and stepped inside the Oval Office with the stuff the President had asked for.

*****

"I'm screwed." Josh put his beer down.

"You are not screwed." Sam drank from his own beer. It was Saturday night and they were at a bar enjoying a few beers, or trying to, since Josh kept on whining.

"Look, I heard her say it. She was going to get together with the girls. What do you think she is doing? They are going to be planning my wedding!" He shook his head.

"I think you are exaggerating. You haven't even proposed yet, have you?" Sam looked at Josh, who shook his head while saying NO. Sam continued, "Then I don't think you have anything to worry about. They will probably give each other facials or other girly stuff like that."

"Don't those magazines offer tips on how to get men to propose? Maybe that's what they are planning to do. They are setting the perfect strategy to use on me."

"Oh no." Sam's eyes were open quite wide.

"What? What did you realize?"

"This is probably about me! You said she said the girls... Well, that means Ainsley and Mallory! Don't you see... This is all about me! They are going to decide who gets to keep me!"

"Women!"

"We don't need them!"

"Damn right, Sam. Maybe we should become a couple." Josh suggested.

"We can't. You're not pretty enough."

"And you are?" Josh raised an eyebrow at Sam.

"So I've been told."

"Really? Is that like a rule? The pretty thing, I mean."

"Absolutely. Besides, we can't, we aren't gay." Sam told him. "We like women too much."

"Ahhhh. So, in my immortal words, we are screwed." Josh moved his head up and down and finally hit it on the bar table.

*****

Loud music blared from Donna and Rachel's apartment. Alcohol flowed all around.

"Donna, this is such a great party," Becky, a friend of Rachel's approached her, "and you did it on so little notice!"

"Well," Donna smiled at her. "When Rachel gave me the news yesterday, I knew we had to celebrate."

"Can't wait to see what you do with the bachelorette party" she winked at Donna.

"You betcha. I already have Ainsley looking into getting around a few city ordinances," Donna winked back at her and walked towards CJ.

"Enjoying yourself?"

"Yes, Donna. This was just what I needed. A nice night out – in – with the girls, even if the topic is weddings."

Donna pouted a bit, "I'm sorry, CJ. I didn't think this would upset you."

"Donna," CJ took a sip of wine. "I'm not bothered by it. Weddings are annoying when you don't have someone. It's the only time I think about the fact that I am alone."

It was killing Donna to listen to CJ talk like this. She wanted to be able to tell her what she knew. "CJ, is there anything –"

"Don't worry about me, Donna. I chose my career and I'm happy with how my life has turned out. It's just the wine talking."

Donna figured she might as well go for it." Has there ever been anyone?"

"There have been plenty of anyones, Donna." She smiled wickedly.

"That's not what I meant, CJ, and you know it ."

CJ's smile softened, "There was someone once. Someone very special to me." She lingered for a moment, as if she were reliving a memory.

"So?" Donna asked. "Who was he?"

CJ raised an eyebrow, "Why are you so curious all of a sudden?"

"Me? I'm not really. I guess I've known you for a while, and-"

"Hello!" Donna was interrupted by Sandy's arrival, who she immediately went to greet. After a few hugs and kisses for Donna, Mallory, Ainsley and CJ, Sandy sat down on the couch. Everyone else joined. They all wanted to be around the celebrity.

"What's the occasion, Donna? You called and told me to get over here, but you never said why."

"I'm sorry, Sandy." Donna brought Rachel over. "This is my roommate, Rachel, and she just got engaged." Loud cheers accompanied her.

"Congratulations, dear! This is an occasion." Sandy stopped and thought for a moment." Donna, does Josh know about this?"

"I didn't get the chance to tell him, yet. Why?"

Sandy laughed in that perfect little way that fit a diva like her. "I overheard him and Sam talking earlier. They think you are looking for a way to get him to propose. In fact, Joshua is freaking out because of it."

Donna shrieked with laughter. Everyone else joined. "I guess Christmas is really coming early this year and it's only February."

"Darling, I think you should consider it a very special Valentine's Day present." Sandy said.

"I propose some scheming," Rachel raised her glass.

"I second that." Mallory added.

*****

Part Six

Donna looked around her surroundings. The restaurant was very nice, but her plan involved a lot of gushing.

"Oh Josh!" She brought her hands to her heart. "This is so beautiful. It's the perfect place for couples in love to come. It creates the perfect romantic ambiance."

"Uh huh," Josh replied and drank some water.

"You said we had to talk, and if you chose a place like this, it has to be important." She cooed. It was a miracle that she didn't burst out laughing. Those drama classes she took once came in handy.

"There's really nothing in particular that I wanted to talk to you about. I don't have a secret agenda or anything like that.," He decided it was time to bring on the charm. He had to make sure that the idea came from Donna. "I figured there's been something on your mind lately. That's why I think we need to talk."

Donna thought it was cute how he still went on with his plan. If someone asked her she would guess that Josh wanted to talk her out of something, while making her believe that it was her idea.

"Yes, Josh, we do need to talk. I've been a bit mad at you the last few days with you. I don't want to sound stupid, but I got a little jealous of Sam. I don't like that you guys share more than we do." She gave him the perfect little pout.

Josh put his hand over hers. "Donna, you know that is not true. It's different."

"I know that, Josh, but it's just a girl thing. You two have that special bond we don't. I know that I shouldn't be upset about something so trivial, but I am." Donna sighed sweetly. The anvil was coming. "It's stupid, just because he didn't get married when he had the chance doesn't mean we won't." Donna looked as Josh dropped the piece of bread he was eating. He stared at her dumbfounded.

He began to say something when the waiter approached them to take their order. Donna smiled. Round one went to her.

*****

 

Monday morning was business as usual in the West Wing. Leo and the President had briefing after briefing. Donna worked furiously at her computer. She hadn't even had time to share with CJ how freaked out Josh was, but she didn't have to tell CJ. Josh was doing fine by himself.

"You don't understand, CJ, she wouldn't have been more obvious if she had dropped a ring on my plate and said 'give it to me'. I have no idea what to do next."

CJ looked at him from her desk. She took off her glasses and put them aside. "Joshua, from what you are telling me, it's obvious that there's only one thing you can do."

Josh looked on, his eyes wide with desperate hope, expecting the answer he seeked.

"You must dump, Donna."

"What?" He screamed.

"Be quiet, Josh. You guys are in different places, and you have to show her who's boss. If she wants to play with the big boys, she's got to learn that she might get hurt. Trust me, Josh, it will do her good."

Josh was shocked, "What about the sisterhood?"

"Sisterhood, schmisterhood. I don't always have to be a – what did you call me once? A Berkley Feminista."

Josh waited for a moment, "I'm going to my office. I... I'll see you later."

CJ waited until he left and began to laugh. For such a master politician and strategist, he was too easy to fool when it came to matters of the heart.

On the other side of the wall, Josh was sitting at his desk, not working. He was trying to figure out what to do about Donna. He sure wasn't going to break up with her. He didn't know what was wrong with CJ. Even he knew that was rotten advice. He was sure she must have fallen on her head. He would tell Toby to look into it.

Toby.

He usually gave good advice. Josh could go to him, but Toby had forbidden him to approach him with anything romantic related ever again. Of course, technically, it had been the other way around, but Josh wasn't about to argue with him.

He could always go talk to Leo. He was like a father to him. But he would feel funny talking to him about Donna.

Sandy was out of the question. Lately there was too much togetherness with Donna, same went with the President. He'd taken Donna in as another daughter. Josh would be risking ending up in the President's moat. The one that he would build just for the occasion.

So, as always, it was just Sam.

He got up from his desk and marched to his friend's office. When he got there he found that Donna was in with Sam. Apparently she was teasing him about something.

"Hello, boys and girls." Josh entered the office, "what are we talking about?"

Sam looked up at him, "Officially about the Ewan speech I'm writing."

Donna grinned, "Unofficially about the fact that Sam has two Legolas dolls. An unopened one in mint condition and one to play with!"

"I..."

"I don't know, Sam. Isn't that in the Gay Code, too?" Josh smirked.

"No." Sam said quickly.

"You sure? I guess it's only on the geek code."

"The fact that you both are talking about the gay code is very disturbing." Donna rolled her eyes at them. "If I didn't know better, I'd think that you two..."

"Donna!" Both men simultaneously became red in the face.

"Ok, ok. Just kidding. Jeez, who knew you were so sensitive about it. Especially for someone who reads OUT magazine." She smiled.

Josh looked confused. "What are you talking about?"

Sam couldn't possibly be any redder. "Nothing. It's quite clear that Mallory and Donna talk. I suppose now you will run to tell her about my collector's actions figures."

"Yeah, collector's, like you don't play with them. Bet you have an Aragorn doll hidden somewhere and you make kissy noises with them."

"Hey!" Josh piped. "Aragorn is a manly man, and he gets the fair Arwen."

Donna rolled her eyes, "If you noticed, in the movie, Aragorn and Legolas touch quite a lot. You have got to wonder about that."

"I never saw that." Josh told her.

"How could you have missed it? During one of those moments, I mentioned wanting to be in between them. You know," she smiled wickedly, "a nice threesome."

"No wonder I didn't hear you." Josh shook his head.

"I still don't see what is so wrong about me having Lord of the Rings Collector's Memorabilia." Sam wondered out loud.

Donna laughed, "Notice how they've gone from dolls, to action figures, to memorabilia."

"Collector's Memorabilia." Josh reminded her. "By the way, Donna, what do you call your Harry Potter toys, then? Are they dolls?"

"I call them Harry, Ron, and Hermione, that's it," she glared at him.

"Wait a sec," Sam turned to her. "You've been teasing me about my Lord of the Rings stuff, when you play with Harry Potter stuff."

"Oh Sam, she probably has pretend weddings for Harry and Hermione."

"Josh!" Donna said, "it's Hermione and Ron! Not with Harry. Those are the two that will hook up. It's all in their fighting. They love each other, they just don't know it yet."

"For crying out loud, Donna, that is so not the issue here."

"She's right, though. When you think about it, Harry has to go on a classic hero's journey. Those don't call for a major love interest. They just happen, and with a minor but somewhat important character – like Ron's sister. Hermione and Ron are the sidekicks, and destined to be together."

Donna nodded, "well put, Sam. I didn't know you'd read Harry."

"I have a soft spot for him. I always wanted to be a wizard as a boy." Sam smiled at her. Josh stood in a corner, shaking his head.

"I could see you as a Harry type. Of course an older one. I always imagined an older Harry to look a bit like Hugh Grant, I don't know why. I prefer Hermione, as you can imagine."

"Guys, I think I'm going back to my office." Josh told them.

"I thought you came here for something in particular," Sam asked.

"Not this," he shook his head again and left muttering to himself. "I can just imagine the theme wedding they'd make me have."

He stopped walking.

"Argh!" He ran his fingers through his hair. "Don't think about it! You are not getting married." He went inside his office and slammed the door, attracting the attention of a few staffers.

*****

Toby knocked on Sam's door and entered the office. "Did you finish the thing?" He asked.

"What thing?" Sam looked up to see Toby open his eyes quite wide. "Oh, that thing. I'm working on it. I'll have it for you soon. In a few hours probably."

Toby shook his head. "Sam, it's 11 pm."

"Ok, I'll have it for you tomorrow."

"What have you been doing all day?" Toby sat down on the visitor's chair.

"I had a long talk with Donna about what the President wanted for the speech. Then I had a couple of meetings. Plus my mom and the President kept asking for suggestions for Josh's birthday extravaganza. Later on Ainsley wanted to discuss something. I've been busy." Sam stated.

"So most of your day was spent talking about Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Josh's birthday, and baseball players. Incredible." Toby stood up. "I want to see at least a draft on my desk first thing in the morning." He left Sam and walked by Josh's office.

The door was open and he could see Josh writing.

"What are you working on?"

"I'm just working out a few options for something I've got to fix." Josh replied.

"Great," Toby muttered. "What did you do now? How much will it cost the administration? Does CJ know yet?"

"Don't worry about it, Toby. I didn't do anything and it's personal, but, if you really want to help me..." Josh looked up at him.

"Is it Donna related?" Josh nodded at him. "Then you know better than to ask me. Anything else?"

"Not really, although, you should check on CJ. She was acting quite insane earlier today. She gave me the worst advice possible."

"Maybe she finally got sick of you." Toby shrugged and made his way next door towards CJ's office. The door was slightly ajar and he could hear muffled voices. It sounded a lot like laughter. He pushed it open a bit and saw Donna and CJ hovering over the desk laughing at something.

"What is so funny?" He entered.

Donna quickly stood up and CJ straightened in her chair. "What do you mean, Tobus? Donna and I were just looking over a thing."

"Really." Toby approached the desk. "I heard laughing and wanted to know what was up. Don't worry, you are allowed to laugh. Even I do it. Ha. Ha. See?" He looked at CJ, then at Donna, and finally left.

"That was weird." Donna commented.

"Too weird. I wonder what's up. He only acts that way when he's got something on his mind."

"You've known him for a long time, right?" Donna figured this was as good a time as any to talk to CJ about her past.

"A while now," CJ sighed. "Why do you ask?"

"Just curious. You two must really know each other well, quite intimately." Donna pushed.

"Donna, really, when you get your degree, you should go to Law School. With all this questioning you should become a prosecutor. If I didn't know better, I'd think you wanted to know if..." CJ stopped and looked at Donna.

"If you two were ever in love? She asked timidly.

"Close the door, please." CJ told her. It was a very different reaction from what Donna had expected.

Meanwhile, Toby had reached the Oval Office. He knocked lightly and announced himself. The President told him to enter. He was inside with Leo.

"Am I interrupting anything, sir?" Toby asked.

"Oh nothing, Toby. We were just talking about our day. Did you know that Josh's birthday party will be held at Embassy Row Hotel? The Secret Service is already preparing it for my arrival." The President told him and waved Toby to sit down.

"How very interesting." Toby replied dryly. "What about you, Leo?"

"I was quite busy." Leo told him.

"Yeah, having to deal with Margaret," the President laughed.

"What about Margaret?" Toby asked.

"She is still mad at me for Friday morning." Leo replied.

"Well, we are on the corner of the primaries. We've been taking little breaks, but after next week we can't afford anymore. You better do something now, Leo."

"What do you suggest, Toby?"

"I think you should give her the rest of the week off. Paid, of course."

"What!" Leo replied.

"And who do you suggest we get to cover for Margaret?" The President asked.

"Donna, and if she needs help we can loan out another assistant, maybe Carol."

"Toby. Toby. Toby," the President shook his head at him. "We will do no such thing. I know that you think we have been relaxing a little, and I won't deny it, but after everything that's happened, I think the staff needs it, yourself included. Giving Margaret a few days off isn't a bad idea, but we'll get a temp."

"I still-"

The President interrupted Toby, "you'll do nothing. I think I know what's going on. I'll have a talk with a few people."

"Sir," Toby eyed the President, "why do I have the feeling that you are involved in this somehow?"

"Me? Never!" The President couldn't hide his laughter.

"Mr. President, we are approaching re-election, we don't want to have to explain to the public that the President is too busy with childish pranks." Leo warned him.

"You two worry too much. Now," the President grinned at them, "let me run some ideas by you."

*****

Donna sat in CJ's couch. She was amazed at what she was looking at. Pictures and pictures of Toby and CJ together. In love and happy. Toby smiling wide. If CJ hadn't just finished telling her the story, she would think they had been doctored somehow. What Josh told her, didn't prepare her for what she saw.

"This is incredible, CJ. I don't know whether to laugh or cry."

"Cry?" CJ asked her.

"Well, it is so sad. You two should be together." Donna exclaimed.

"Oh Donna." CJ was amused. She brought Donna a glass of wine and sat next to her. "We were happy once, but we are not the same people we were then. It's been a long time."

"I don't understand why you two gave up. You just need help rediscovering it."

"Oh no." CJ shook her head at Donna. "Don't get any ideas into your head. Toby is my best friend, that's it. We've both moved on from those kids that we once were. It was good while we were together, but our being friends is better. Think Kevin and Winnie."

"Nope." Donna grinned. "I'd say more like Andy and Melissa from Love Letters. You guys just have lousy timing."

"They really don't get together in that play, either, and doesn't she die at the end?"

"Regardless, you should grab the bull by its horns and go for it."

CJ burst out laughing. "So many places I can go with that... but I won't." She drank some wine. "Toby and I are passed it, our moment is gone."

"It's never too late, and I won't give up until you convince me." Donna folded her arms.

"This is really going to be a long night." CJ sighed.

******

 

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