Title: Degrees of Freedom
Genre: J/D UST
Summary: Joey Lucas' rhetoric becomes reality.
Joey Lucas: "If you polled a hundred Donnas and asked
them if they think we should go out, you'd get a high
positive response. But the poll wouldn't tell you it's
because she likes you and she knows it's beginning to
show and she needs to cover herself with
Josh: "Believe me when I tell you, that's not true."
I had a dream last night.
In my dream, I searched through the multiverse, the
infinite number of universes. I was floating above
them all, searching. I was looking for one hundred
universes that were close enough to mine to be
statistically significant. I was looking for one
It was difficult enough to find one hundred universes
where there was life on Earth, let alone one hundred
in which there existed one Donnatella Moss. And then,
of course, I had to make sure that in each universe,
she was working for me.
I was careful to avoid my own universe.
Finally, I found the one hundred. With one deft
movement, I plucked each Donna away from her own world
and placed her in a row with all her doppelgangers.
When I was finished, I had one hundred Donnas lined up
between the stars. They were silent, which unnerved me
more than I would have thought.
I cleared my throat. "I suppose you're wondering why
you're all here."
In an instant, they began to speak.
"What are we doing here?"
"Where are we?"
"Joshua Lyman, explain yourself this instant!"
I waited for the hundred protests to die down, then
spoke. "I need your help. I need you all to just
answer one question for me, and then I'll return you
"What's the question?" they chorused.
"What are your romantic feelings for Josh Lyman, if
such feelings exist, on a scale of one to ten, one
being 'nonexistent' and ten being 'desire for
marriage'?" I said, as seriously as I could.
All one hundred Donnas stared at me.
"I'll come to each of you, and you can give me your
number. Don't worry about offending me please; I need
So I went to each of them, and each shakily said a
number. In a few minutes, I had polled one hundred
Donnas. I swiftly returned each to her own universe.
Then I sat down to assess the data.
I whipped out a graphing calculator and entered the
data. It spat out the mean (7.6), median (7), and the
standard deviation (1.1). I realized then that Joey
Lucas was right; Donna did have feelings for me, and I
couldn't deny that I felt the same way.
But it was possible that my data were flawed, I
reminded myself. I decided to use a t-table to find my
95% confidence interval. "Let's see," I mused aloud,
desperately trying to recall my two semesters of
statistics, "x-bar is 7.6, s is 1.1. Well, n is 100,
so I have 99 degrees of freedom. So the 95% confidence
interval is 7.6 plus or minus 1.99 times 1.1 divided
by 10. That's... 7.38 to 7.82."
I stared at the screen of my calculator, then hit
CLEAR. The situation couldn't be any more lucid.
I heard Joey Lucas' voice (somehow, her diction was
perfect -- it was a dream, after all) echo in my head:
"If you polled a hundred Donnas... ."
But then I heard, louder and gentler, "Josh? What are
"Donna?" I heard her voice, but she was nowhere to be
seen. Her voice surrounded me, enveloped me. "I'm . .
. doing math."
"To see... to see how you feel."
I heard her laugh, and my heart skipped a beat.
"Joshua. Don't you already know? And if you don't, why
don't you just ask?"
Then, like a plug being yanked from a socket, the
dream ended and I woke up, breathing quickly and
I was sure then: she cares about me in a way that I
had only hoped she did. And I am in love with her.
It is the next morning. I awake early, and the sun has
not yet risen. I take in a long breath of air, then
exhale slowly. Today. Today I will test all
ninety-nine degrees of freedom I have with Donnatella
I climb out of my one bed in my one universe, and
begin to prepare for the day. I can't remember the
last time I was this happy.
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