Hi all! I'm new here and just wanted to say that I've been enjoying everyone's stories. I haven't done a lot of fanfic, but for some reason I was inspired today. I think it might have something to do with the fact that I am procrastinating about doing work. Anyway, on with the show...
Disclaimer: Alas, they are not mine. Any recognizable characters belong to Aaron Sorkin et. al.
Spoilers: Up through In the Shadow of Two Gunmen
Rating: Oh, it's pretty innocuous. I guess I'd give it a PG-13 for slight innuendo.
Summary: Josh is bored in his hospital room, and Donna prepares his apartment for when he comes home.
I apologize for any inconsistencies or if the characters are acting, well, out-of-character. :) I'm just having a little fun with them.
Soap Operas and Soap Suds
Donna Moss surveyed the disaster scene that was Josh Lyman's apartment with an expression of resignation. His office somehow managed to sink into chaos if she happened to be absent for a few hours, so it could only be expected that his apartment (not being fortunate enough to benefit from her influence) existed in the typical state of a bachelor pad: rampant disorder.
"Joshua, Joshua, Joshua," she sighed, "What would you do without me?"
Although it had been empty only a few days, the apartment already had an atmosphere of disuse. Donna watched the dust motes dance in the ray of sunlight that managed to slip through the closed curtains and shivered. There was a staleness to the air, a quality that seemed to say that the occupant was missing. Abruptly she pulled the curtains and opened the window, letting in a crisp fresh breeze, and took a deep breath. It was hard to believe that it had been a matter of days. Only about a week ago that some heartless bastards had taken shots at members of the Bartlet administration. Taken shots at people she cared about.
Now Josh was in the hospital recuperating from his gunshot wound. He was out of the woods, the doctors had said, and Donna knew intellectually that she shouldn't worry. But that part of her which didn't listen to reason, which kept flashing back to the image of him on the table in the operating room, which woke her up in the middle of the night with the sound of doctors telling her, "We're sorry, Ms. Moss, but we did everything within our capabilities…" echoing in her ears, that part seemed to take over her capacity to form rational thought at odd moments in the day: at work as she grabbed some papers off of his desk, at home while she was opening a can to feed her roommate's cats, at the grocery store in the middle of the produce section.
And when that irrationality of her heart or soul trounced her reason, it was all she could do not to drop everything and rush to the hospital to assure herself of the actuality of Josh being alive: to brush a light touch across his hair, to lay a palm against his cheek as he slept, to feel his pulse beating strong beneath her fingers as she held his hand. But she was afraid that she was hovering too much. Yesterday Josh had commented on the fact that she seemed to be by his bedside whenever he happened to be awake. And it wasn't in a grateful, "Donna, you're wonderful to care so much," tone of voice, but more like a "Don't you have anything better to do than yap at me," tone. Of course, Josh had been getting increasingly frustrated at being confined to a hospital bed and his current attitude was one of general irritability, but still…
So when an attack of Josh anxiety hit Donna in the middle of reading the Saturday newspaper and eating a blueberry muffin, she had overcome the urge to rush to his hospital bed, and instead threw on her grubbiest pair of sweats, packed a few cleaning supplies into her car, grabbed the keys from the box of his belongings that she had taken from the hospital, and drove over to his apartment. Josh would be home in a few days, and Donna wanted to make sure that the apartment was ready.
Starting with the kitchen, which Josh had apparently not cleaned up the morning of the shooting, Donna pulled her long hair into a ponytail and attacked the dishes that were still sitting in the sink, filling it with hot water and dish soap.
Josh Lyman was bored beyond belief.
He had spent the day being rude to the various nurses and medical personnel who had been in and out of his room. To a mind such as his, accustomed to multi-tasking, and dealing with major concerns of the country, it was torture to be forced to be idle. He was tied to his hospital bed by IV tubes and concerned nurses as effectively as if he had been in iron chains and guarded by enemy soldiers.
It didn't help matters that the hospital staff met all of his grumbling with sunny smiles and nods of understanding. Josh supposed that they often dealt with grumpy patients and had learned to ignore them, but he suspected the nurses of secretly holding a grudge since they had turned on the television and left it on the soap opera channel. "Now, Mr. Lyman," a matronly nurse had said as she straightened the sheets around him, "I think you could use a distraction."
"You know what would be a distraction," he had replied, "is if I could get my hands on some of the work that I should be doing. Work, I might add, which is of national importance."
The nurse had chuckled as if he had made a joke and bustled on out of the room.
His suspicions of retaliation on their part were strengthened by the fact that for some mysterious reason his remote control was not working, and after all of the fussing that had occurred earlier, suddenly he had been left completely alone. He knew that he could call someone in to turn off the television or at least change the channel, but that streak of Lyman stubbornness didn't want to give them the satisfaction.
So he was now being subjected to unrealistic scenes of melodrama and sappy romance, and he had no one to complain to.
Josh paused a moment. No, it wasn't just that he had no one to complain to. He didn't have Donna to complain to. After days of waking up to find Donna in the chair beside his bed, she had apparently decided not to visit him today, and Josh had to admit it: he missed her.
He missed that awareness of her fingers wrapped around his hand as he slowly surfaced into consciousness, the sensation of the feather- light touches to his face that she would steal when she thought he was still asleep. He even missed her rambling monologues as he ate his tasteless meals or the nurses dropped in to administer shots or adjust his bed.
What made things worse was the sense that he knew why she wasn't there. He had snapped at her yesterday, made a sarcastic remark about her always being there. He had quickly regretted it, but she hadn't acted hurt, just smiled and told him she had to go but would talk to him later. What could he say now? "Sorry, Donna, about the thing yesterday, which you might or might not have felt was incredibly rude of me and might be the reason why you aren't here now, but I was in a lot of pain yesterday and wanted more than anything to yell at someone." Or maybe he should just tell her, "Sorry, I was just being my usual tactless self and please come back because I want to hear your voice even if you do refuse to talk about work under orders from the doctors and Leo."
Josh eyed the telephone on his bedside table and inwardly groaned. It had only been about fourteen hours since he had basically told Donna that he didn't want her to visit, and now he was contemplating nagging her into coming by. The physical pain from his wound ("Pain is good," a prim little granny of a nurse had informed him a few days ago, "It's your body's way of telling you that you're alive." "I can think of a much nicer way my body could tell me that," Josh had muttered back, to the shock of the nurse. She left the room with an expression of disapproval on her face. Donna had laughed and rolled her eyes, but just said, "Josh," in that way she had, meaning, "Stop aggravating the hospital staff, Josh.") and the intolerable boredom of the white walls of his room were magnified a hundred-fold by her absence. "I am addicted to Donna Moss," he thought with a snort, "Forget the painkillers, Nurse, just give me a shot of Donnatella." His brow wrinkled, and he shook his head in half-mirth, half-confusion. Okay, well, that was a random thought. Wouldn't she just love to hear him say that though? He could picture her. Her blue eyes would shine with amusement. "Can't get along without me, now, can you?" she would say, playfully poking his arm.
"Oh, fine," he said aloud, swallowing his not inconsiderable pride. Picking up the receiver he dialed the number from memory.
Donna had her yellow rubber gloves on, and was in the process of scrubbing out Josh's bathtub. She was precariously balanced with one hip on the edge of the tub and her left hand braced against the other side as she leaned down. Her back was aching, and she looked longingly through the door at Josh's bed. Nothing appealed to her more than the prospect of taking off her gloves, crawling under the covers and burying her face in his pillow.
But she still wanted to vacuum the apartment, still had to gather up the clothes strewn over floor and furniture, organize the piles of paper and files scattered throughout the room, and change the sheets on the bed.
The sudden sound of the phone ringing almost made her fall. She eyed the phone on the bedside table warily. Should she answer it? It could be some friend or relative, wanting to know how Josh was doing. No, she decided, probably best to let the machine get it. Those who were close to Josh already knew the number for his hospital room, and if it was someone she didn't know, say a female acquaintance, it might be a little awkward explaining what she was doing in his apartment.
After four rings, the phone fell silent, and Donna assumed that the machine in the kitchen had picked up. She turned back to resume scrubbing, when the phone started ringing again. Her forehead creased in slight annoyance as she glanced at the phone again. No one knew she was there, so it must have been either a coincidence or some annoying person.
Really annoying person, she mentally revised after the third hang up and re-call. "I can be just as stubborn as whoever you are," she said to the empty apartment, studiously ignoring the shrill ringing of the phone.
"Ha," she shouted, triumphantly, when the phone fell silent after approximately a dozen calls. She returned to her cleaning, and was once again balancing on the tub when the ringing resumed, causing her to fall with an undignified, "Oof," into the soapy tub.
She hoisted herself out and glared at the phone. Okay, this was a capacity to annoy beyond the normal scope, and that could mean only one thing: it must be Josh. She pulled off her gloves, throwing them on the floor, and stalked into the other room.
"What do you want, Josh?"
"No, `How are you doing, Josh,' `Are you still in pain, Josh,' or `Hey, Josh, I've decided to invade your apartment in your absence, and aren't you clever for figuring out I'm here'?"
"Are you in pain?" she asked, concern winning out over aggravation.
There was a hesitation. "No."
"No more than usual. Or normal, so the medical personnel tell me, although how they know the level of pain I'm feeling is something of a mystery to me."
Donna could hear a smile in his voice and let out the breath she had been holding. "Okay, so how did you know I was here? Or should I assume that you enjoy spending your free time calling your own apartment?"
"Well, it's not like I have anything better to do since some people won't bring me any material from work." There was a slightly accusatory tone in his voice.
She grinned. "Doctor's orders, Joshua. Not to mention the Chief of Staff and President of the United States. You need rest, not work."
"So I called your apartment and your roommate said you had left a few hours ago with cleaning supplies, and I concluded that either you had taken on a second job of charwoman, which is not entirely inconceivable since, as you often point out, your salary is, and I quote, 'pitifully insignificant,' or you were being the amazingly considerate person you always are and had decided to tackle the Herculean task of cleaning my place."
Donna blushed at the compliment hidden in the middle of his reply. "Yes, well," she said, clearing her throat, "Since I don't happen to have a river handy to diverge through your apartment, maybe you should let me get back to cleaning."
"Don't hang up," he said quickly.
"There's still a lot to do, Josh." But she didn't make any move to replace the phone in its cradle.
"You can keep cleaning, just talk to me while you do it."
She was torn between the desire to laugh and the desire to be mad. "It's a little hard cleaning with only one hand."
"Hey, no problem," he said, jauntily, "Go to my desk."
"Oh, for the day when you will do something without asking questions."
"You're injured, I'll humor you for now." Donna walked over to the desk. "Okay, so what am I looking for?"
"Open the top right hand drawer."
She opened it and stared blankly at the contents. "A headset?"
"Yeah. No hands. You can still clean."
There was silence on her end for a second. "You are a big nerd, Joshua Lyman."
"Because I have a headset?"
"Because you have a headset."
"Many people have headsets, Donnatella."
"Many people have headsets at work. You have one at home. A place of non-work. A place where you should be able to relax and talk to a friend without needing a headset."
"But think about all the work that people could get done if they did more when they were talking with friends than just holding the phone," he said. "And I am not a nerd."
He sounded a little ruffled. "Okay," she placated him.
"So will you talk to me?"
The wistful note in his words gave her pause.
How could she say no? "All right," she said, with a noisy sigh, plugging in the headset and putting it on.