by SarahKJosh put on his coat and picked up his briefcase, preparing to leave the office. It had been a long day, one that had left him thinking about many things in his life, particularly about his relationship with his assistant. He had realized today how much Donna really meant to him, and that they could not go on the way they were lately, barely speaking to each other except when necessary. He made a mental note to sit down and talk to her as soon as he got a chance.
As Josh closed his door, he realized that there was still someone sitting in the bullpen. Noticing the long blond hair, he realized immediately who it was. He debated his next move, finally entering the bullpen and walking over to Donna, who was seated at her computer.
"Hey," he said softly. Donna just about jumped out of her chair.
"Josh, don’t do that to me!" she exclaimed, startled.
"Sorry…What are you doing here so late?"
"I don’t know…finishing off some stuff…nothing better to do, I guess." She focused her attention back on her computer screen, silently willing him to go away so she wouldn’t have to deal with the emotional turmoil he put her in just by being near her.
"Want to get a late dinner?" Josh ventured, holding his breath waiting for her response.
"Um…" Donna considered this for a moment, and against her better judgement, she really did want to. "Okay," she finally responded.
"Great," Josh said somewhat hesitantly. "I’ll get your coat."
Donna sipped her drink and stared off into space as they waited for the food to come. It had been an awkward evening, and showed no signs of getting better any time soon. They had decided to go home first, and then Josh had picked her up after they had both had time to change out of their work clothes and into something more casual. They had spoken barely a word since getting in the car, and were now seated in silence, neither one knowing what to say. *This was a bad idea,* thought Donna. It was a nice restaurant though. Soft music was playing, and there were several couples on the dance floor. The restaurant wasn’t crowded, so it was relatively quiet near their small booth. They could have talked easily if either of them felt like it.
Josh sighed at the lack of conversation. He had asked Donna to dinner in hopes of talking to her outside the office, but so far, the situation was beyond uncomfortable, with neither of them saying a word. Josh finally decided it was time to speak.
"So, what’s up?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" Donna replied, somewhat confused.
"I mean what’s up with you? We barely talk anymore."
"You’re barely around anymore."
"I’m here now. What’s on your mind?"
Donna looked at him like he was from another planet. "What makes you think something’s on my mind?"
"Well, you’ve been kind of distant lately. It seems like something’s been bothering you."
"Oh, okay, so now you can read my thoughts?"
"I’m not saying that, I’m saying you can tell me if something’s wrong."
"Obviously something is, or you wouldn’t be acting the way you’ve been."
"I’m not acting any differently. You’re the one who slept through a staff
meeting. How’s that for acting differently?"
"I thought we were past that. I already apologized for it."
"You did not!"
"Yes I did!"
"No, Josh, you never did!"
"Well, I’m sorry then," Josh said, more quietly. Donna couldn’t let it go. "It was totally irresponsible, and totally unlike you! Ever since-" She cut herself off, realizing what she had been about to say.
"Ever since what?" Josh challenged.
They were interrupted by the waiter arriving with their food. Neither touched their plates. They just sat there staring at each other in silence. Josh finally spoke.
"This is about Joey, isn’t it?"
Donna didn’t respond.