Step 2-Denial and Anger.
By: Tori Morris
Author's Note: Much thanks to my beat readers, Bramble and Pix, who encourage me to continue when I doubt myself. To Cavni, fellow IFAS-er, and the other beta reader, who likes to prod me about grammatical errors. I wouldn't be half of whatever little I am without them.
6:07, June 4, 2001.
Damn woman, for ruining my date, I'll squish her and her paintings...
What? The world is shaking around me...
"Donna." Sylvia says softly, with a helpful shake on my shoulder. I lift my head off a sticky wet pillow. Oh God, I must have drooled all over it. I lift some hair out of my face.
"What?" I say, taking a hair out of my mouth. Sylvia points at the clock, and I rub my blurry eyes. 6: 08? Big deal. I put my head back down on the pillow to stop the sudden spinning.
"It's time for you to go to work, isn't it?" Oh. Yeah, work.
"Work." I say dryly.
"Yeah. Listen, what happened last night? I've never seen you that wasted before." She says, her almond eyes furrowing in concern.
"Chased away a hot guy." I mutter, not lifting my head off the wet pillow.
Sylvia puts her hands on her hips, looking rumpled and bedraggled in a long South Park T-shirt and boxers with Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo. Remainders of the wardrobe of her last boyfriend, I remember, who stayed up late and watched that stupid cartoon at all hours, Sylvia by his side.
"Now, what did I tell you about letting him get you down? For chrissakes, Donna, he's only your boss. Don't let him pull that shit on you. " She shakes her head and throws some clothes at me. "Take a shower and get dressed-you look like hell. I'll make coffee." She says helpfully and shuffles off to the kitchen.
A half an hour later, after a quick shower and some makeup, I look a little better, and walk back into the kitchen.
"There you go. Much better." She says, handing me a cup of semi-warm coffee.
"Yeah. So, what're you going to do today?"
"Job-hunting, I'll be back in early. See you later tonight?" she asks hopefully.
"Probably end up staying late like I always do." I say.
"Hmph." She says and throws up her hands. "Well, whatever. Just take care of yourself today, ok?"
"Yeah. Thanks for the coffee." I say as I open the door and walk outside.
"No Problem." She says, shuffling back into her bedroom.
I sit at my desk listening to music and musing. Josh has been in meetings all day, and so we haven't had a chance to even banter. He comes in, grabs a file and goes back out, without saying more than a word to me. Of course, I don't offer anything for him to say either, so that's that.
I shouldn't have gotten all upset about this in the first place. I mean, he didn't get her number, and as far as I know, she doesn't really know he works in the White House. Besides, she might actually have a boyfriend or something, and feel guilty about flirting, and so she'll never call and go back to her normal routine of painting or whatever.
Josh will forget all about her, and that will be that. And in a week, he might realize what a horrible mistake he's made, and take me out to dinner to make up for it.
But, it could happen. The dinner would be Italian...
"Donna?" I look up. It's Sam.
"Hey, Sam, what's up?"
"In a meeting with a group of Democratic Senators," I say, glancing at the open planner beside me to double check.
"Ok. Hey Donna?"
"Yes, Sam?" I say, trying to ooze, 'I'm really busy doing many things and you shouldn't bother me, it's important' vibe.
"Could you run this to the OEOB for me?"He asks, using his most pleading and pathetic voice.
"Can't, I don't know, Ginger or Bonnie do it?" I whine.
"Toby has them busy." He tells me, and looks at me helplessly. . I scowl at this. So, naturally, it falls to me. Sam sees the look on my face and puts his hands up.
"Or, if you are too busy, I can..." he says, backing off rather nervously.
"Fine, I'll do it." I say, holding my hand out for the file.
"Yes." I stand up, and grab my cell phone, in case Josh needs to call me, and the planner.
"You'll really do it right now, for me?"
"Yes. I'm not busy." I say, taking the file from him. "Besides, the walk will do me good."
"I knew that you would." He boasts.
"Actually, you didn't because I was pretending to be very busy doing important things that you shouldn't interrupt, but that's ok, Sam."
"I knew that."
"Whatever." I muttered, tucking the cell phone into my pants pocket and walking off.
You know, I really didn't mind the walk, for once. For example, it's a beautiful day outside, a little hot, a little muggy, but not so much that it makes the walk really depressing. There are some beautiful red flowers blooming outside, as well, and I stopped to smell one. Very wonderful, as was the cold soda I bought from a machine on the way back.
Josh does not get out of this meeting for a while still, or at least it says so in my almighty planner. He hasn't called to ask where I am, either, so I am assuming he's not looking for me. So, I'm taking sometime to actively enjoy the building I practically live in, and see if I can't learn another fact to impress the President with, next time I may happen to see him.
I'm following a tour that I've sort of hitched a ride on, going through the blue room, when I hear a familiar voice.
"Andy, it's the nation's capital, where the President lives, and conducts business. Try and show a little enthusiasm." Oh, no. I don't turn around, because this isn't happening.
"Amy, I've been to lots of capitals, and palaces. It's really not that special." A boy? Oh good. Then it isn't the same person I think it is. I can turn around, because fate isn't that cruel.
Oh, God! Fate really is that cruel! Not only is it the painter woman-Amy Tolkien, it's her little brother or something too. My life sucks. I shouldn't have gotten up today. I should have told Sylvia I had a really terrible hangover, and let it be.
Perhaps she didn't see me, and I can make a quiet exit.
Tap. "Excuse, me I don't mean to bother you, but aren't you Donna Moss? Josh Lyman's assistant?"
I turn around and smile sweetly. "Why, yes I am." I say, and allow my badge to show. See, I work here. The tour leaves behind us and goes to the next room.
"What a surprise meeting you here. I really didn't expect to see you on the tour."
"Yeah, well, I have some free time today."
"And you decided to take the tour?" She questions. I shrug. Behind her, the boy looks even more irritated.
"Andy, get over here and say hi. Donna, this is Andy." She says, slightly irritated.
He slouches over and nods. "Pleasure to meet you." I look him over. He really must be her brother, because his hair is a sandy blonde, and his eyes are blue, almost the same shade as hers.
"Yeah, pleasure to meet you too." He mutters and pretends to be really interested in a chair.
"You'll have to excuse him. He doesn't like being here-wishes he was still back with his father."
"Usually, he spends his summer with his uncle, but he got married a few weeks ago, and so he's staying with me while his uncle and Jessica tour Asia."
"Mom."He stresses, looking at Amy with irritation. Mom? She doesn't look old enough to have a son. I reevaluate Amy using the information she just gave me. She's clearly not as young as I thought she was-in fact, she's probably older than I am, and been married before. Andy must be the product of a failed marriage, or relationship.
I smile as sweetly as possible. I've won, and she doesn't even know it yet. Josh would never date a woman who has a kid.
"What did I tell you about telling complete strangers about me?"
Amy rolled her eyes. "I was just trying to explain your disrespectful behavior. It's a good thing you don't act like this at gallery shows, otherwise..."
"Mom." He pleads.
She sighs. "Why don't you go through the rest of the house? Join back up with that group we were following if you'd like."
"Fine." He shoots a rather evil glance at me, and wanders out of the room.
Amy sighs. "Don't mind him. He's just too jaded already. He's taking Nathan's marriage pretty hard too." She says, and then shrugs.
"Must be rough."
"Yeah. Hey, listen, you want to hear something funny? I actually came today because I hoped we might run into Josh. He was really fascinating last night, and I didn't get to see you guys leave."
"Well, we left kind of suddenly."
"Yeah, so, anyway, I was wondering if you could do me a huge favor. I mean, I'd be in your debt forever."
I smile, safe in my impression of her. No one wants to date a woman with a kid-I mean, Josh just isn't that kind of guy yet. He's not ready to be a father and I think he knows it. "Sure."
"Great." She says, and pulls a card out of her pants pocket and hands it to me. "This is my number. Tell him to call sometime, ok?"
"Yes. I sure will." Not. I might not even tell him she was here. But I tuck it in my pocket anyway. I can't just flick it away in front of her.
"Thank you so much, Donna. Listen-I've got to go..." She trailed off with a look towards the exit of the blue room.
"Thanks." She says, and walks down the hallway to follow the group.
"So, that's it for the day?"
"Yep." I say, crossing the last item off his list.
"Yeah. I'm going home." I announce, and walk out.
"Donna, wait. I forgot to ask-did Amy call?"
I choke. "Amy?" I say, turning from him.
"Yeah, Amy. The painter, from the thing?"
"Oh, yeah, that Amy."Misdirection. I don't remember who she is.
"You are avoiding the question." Josh said questioningly.
"No, I'm not."
"Yes, you are. Did she call?"
"As a matter of fact..."
"She did?" He looks rather excited.
"I saw her today. She wanted you to have this." I say, pulling the card swiftly out of my pocket and handing it to him.
"You saw her? Where?"
"Here? How'd she get in?"
"She was on a tour."
"She was on a tour. Donna, last time I checked, the tour didn't include the bullpen."
"Yes, well, I was soaking up the history of the building and I saw her. With her son." I drop. Bombs away. Watch-he'll get uninterested.
"Wow. Did she say why she was here?" Crap.
"To take the tour, I imagine."
"No-did she mention, say, an ulterior motive?"
"Yeah, like, maybe she was hoping she'd run into me?" He's grinning.
"As a matter of fact-"
"She did? Really?"
"Yes." I shrug. This situation is out of my control already-oh, God, why did I say yes? I could have thrown that note away! I could have lied.
Behind me, I hear him say softly, "Really..." and reach for the phone.
But even if I did, he'd just find some other woman. He doesn't like me, after all. Not in that way.
I could have stopped this. Could have told him how I felt after Rosslyn, or Christmas. I could have told him when he picked me up last night. And now it's too late again.
"Gather yea Rosebuds, Josh." I said sadly, leaving the office.
"Donna?" he says, and I turn around. He's holding the phone and looking at me.
"You like Amy, right?" He asks.
"Are you sure? Because, you'd tell me if I was getting involved with a gomer, right?"
I look at him, and weigh the possibilities. No. I knew she didn't seem like a bad person-raising a son on her own and working to raise money for the democratic party, all while working on an artist's salary.
"No-she seems perfectly normal, Josh." And he looks relieved.
Sylvia hands me the bowl of ice cream and shakes her head. I pass her the cookie dough.
"I can't believe you let her have him-without even a fight!"
"Well, he obviously doesn't think of me in that way, so what was I supposed to do? Sabotage a perfectly normal woman's chances at him?"
"No way-I'm not that kind of person, Syl."
"I know-I used to be there. But time passes, and you get hurt too many times-"
"And then you became a lesbian. Haven't you told me this before?" I say, taking a bite of ice cream.
She sticks her tongue out at me. "Har har. Well, it's always a viable option. Rachel thinks you are adorable."
I frown. "Well, that's wonderful. Always nice to know your girlfriend is there for me." We exchange a look and take a huge bite each out of our ice cream.
"Seriously now. What was I supposed to do? The having a kid part didn't shake him off."
"It'll probably end quickly and silently, Donna. One or two dates, max. But the more pressing issue is why you let it happen? I mean, you're always 'letting' things happen to you. You never take charge of your life."
"I do not. I'm an independent woman." I say, indignantly.
"What about Maxwell, the doctor?"
"I was younger back then."
"Well, if what you tell me is true, you sure haven't grown much since then."
"What do you mean? I've gone out on my own, gotten my wings, a job..."
She looks at me sadly. "Donna, it was never about you not having a job."
I shrug and look away for a moment. I'm not...whatever Sylvia is claiming. I'm not needy. I've grown a lot since then. I helped Josh elect a President, and helped him recover from the shooting. I've accomplished a lot in my life since then.
I know it.
We eat our ice cream in silence.