sabato 8 agosto 2009

Muffins, Bagels and Baby Names. Chapter 2 : A crackpot and this woman.

Disclaimer: not mine, Aaron Sorkin's. Would that I could write a fraction as well as he can!
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Josh's POV

It's 7.05 a.m and Donna's not at her desk. Seriously. I checked three times already, plus a fourth time which I tried to mask by pretending to go to the mess for a bagel. See, I can be stealthy. Donna is never not at her desk after 7 a.m. In the three years we've worked together she has only been late once and, well, that's 'cause she was looking after me after the shooting and I spilt coffee all over myself since I was on ten kinds of drugs and she messed up her shirt trying to clean me up and so she got into work late. But since I wasn't in the office at the time, it doesn't count. And yes, that is the only time she ever brought me coffee. At least I think she did. I really was on ten different kinds of drugs.

Where the hell is she?

I check the communications bullpen. There is the distinct possibility she's been kidnapped by the gaggle of gossip queens that hang out outside Toby's office. They'll be yakkin about that dumb beefcake maintenance guy as usual. Good to know the White House attracts the finest female minds in the country to, y'know, help us guys run the damn place.

Anyway. I'm in the communications bullpen. Bonnie's rushing around, Ginger's in with Sam, Kathy's on the phone looking all worked up even before the sun comes up. No Donna.

I stomp back to my office, yelling at CJ on the way

"C.J? Ya seen Donna?"

"Josh mi amor, I've barely managed to open my second eye and already the press corps are tailing me like slobbering pit bulls about this House Appropriations fiasco. I know they say I'm sharp as a button, but this morning I wouldn't notice Donna if she ran me over with a Harley."


That's it. I'm callin' her. She could be in trouble. I mean she could be under a bus, or that creepy guy at the coffee shop down the road might have kidnapped her and is holding her hostage behind a stack of coffee bean bags or something.
I dial her number. She picks up on the 10th ring.

"Hi Josh..." She knows it's me and she sounds cranky. I hope she's not sick. She can't be sick. We have a House Appropriations fiasco. I need her to not be sick.
"Donna, why the hell aren't you in the office. Are you ok?"
"I'm fine, Josh... I, um... I was just going to call you. I'm coming in. I'm sorry. I must have forgotten to replace the batteries in my alarm clock or something. I'm really sorry."
"Ok... Are you sure you're alright? You sound weird. Do you have a cold?"
"I'm fine. I'm coming in now. If you don't get off the phone with me I'll be even more late and you have staff at 7.30."
"Kay. I'll see you later. Call me if there's a problem getting in... Or something."
"Bye Josh."

She sounded weird. Something's off. It's going to bug me all through staff.

I don't get out until 9.30, leaving Sam and CJ arguing with Leo about how to compose a press statement over this mess up over in the House. Given CJ's mood this morning that's one battle I really wouldn't want to get involved in. Plus, you know, she's a big girl. And she can probably beat my ass all over a basketball court, so its best to know when to retreat.

Since I've been wearing these new shoes my mom sent me and slipped over on the Hill I've been trying to walk more slowly. I know, not something I'm good at. But it means Donna doesn't hear me when I come through the doors of the bullpen. She's got her head down and is holding her nose with a tissue. Her hand is shaking and I can't see her face, but this looks ten kinds of bad. I sidle up to the frame of her office and poke her gently on the shoulder.

"JOSH!" She jumps out of her chair, "Jeese Josh, you scared the hell out of me." SHe quickly discards the tissue and turns in her chair to pretend to look for something, but I can see her wiping her face. My stomach twists and for some reason I start feeling angry.

"DOnna... what's wrong?"

She spins around, face dry but with shadows under her eyes. She's not fooling me.

"Donna you have suitcases under your eyes like you're packing for Vegas, you're sniffling into a tissue and you were late for work even though you don't look sick. You're not even waving your usual ten hundred index cards at me as a morning greeting."

She smiles, but it's a weak smile and her eyes aren't in it. I'm suddenly very scared. Someone, or something has upset Donna, and for the life of me I don't know how the hell anyone could EVER want to hurt Donna Moss of all people. She's from Wisconsin for crying out loud! I kneel down to face her at eye level and put a hand on her knee. This should feel inappropriate but it doesn't. Right now I want to beat the hell out of whoever made Donna look this unhappy. Or, you know, outshine them with my wit.

"Donna, what's wrong. C'mon, you can tell me."
"I really can't Josh. DOn't worry about it. It's nothing personal."
I'm not buying that. Anything to do with Donna is personal to me. It has been for a LONG time.
"Come with me. Come on."
I take her hand and pull her into my office, then close the door behind me. I spin around and look her in the eye. SHe looks like someone just killed her hamster. I love that look as much as I hate it.
"Donna, you're killing me here. I can't work with you if you're gonna look like I ran over your puppy on CHristmas morning. Did someone hurt you? I'll kill the guy who laid a finger on you."
Well, that made her eyes perk up. Did it get warm in here? I think I might have laid a bit heavy on the prince charming facade there... Smooth, Josh. Real smooth. Way to disguise those feelings...
"Johs, please it's nothing. Drop it. Please... For me, I can handle it on my own. I was just having a moment. I just want to get on with doing my job. You have a meeting on the Hill at 12.15 with Congresswoman O'Brien. I've got to go and type up that memo you asked for...."
She trails off and looks expectantly at the door. Her shoulders are hunched like she's trying to shiled herself from getting close to me. Ok, I am kinda standing right in her face. I start pacing about. It's not that I'm psycho, Donna could just be a bit under the weather, or had another bad date with one of her loser gomers she insists on parading in front of me. But I've never, EVER seen her look... well, fragile. It's not a Donna look. And its freaking the hell out of me.

"Sit down let me at least get you a glass of scotch or something, steady the nerves. You look like you could use a pep up." I reach into my cupboard and pull out an old bottle of scotch Leo gave me once. Donna likes a rusty nail when we go out to the Hawk and Dove. She can drink most men under the table. Must be a Wisconsin thing.

"Josh, it's ten in the morning."
"And you probably haven't slept since yesterday so it's all the same" I say, pouring out a finger of whisky.
"Josh, I can't."
"I won't tell, i've got gum. No one will know. You're shaking Donna. It'll calm you down."
"No, Josh, I really... I can't. I shouldn't. It's not about my job Josh."
She looks at me cryptically. And involuntarily her hand settles on her stomach. Veeeery slowly I come to an impossible conclusion. ONe I'm really hoping I'm wrong about. And I NEVER like to be wrong.
"Donna? Why can't you have a drink? Would you prefer just to have a strong coffee?"
"Josh, stop it. I'm fine, I really don't want anything."
"Doona, are you also avoiding caffeeine right now?"
"It's good to reduce your caffeine intake JOsh. You should try it, you might stop tripping over on the HIll."
Well, banter is good. But I still don't like where this is going.
"Donna..." I trail off, I'm not sure whether to voie my suspicions here. She's starting to look like she knows I know.
I put the glass down and walk over to where she's sitting. I squat to be at her level again and look her right in the eye.
"DOnna. Are you.... y'know.... are you having... Did someone... um..."
She sighs and closes her eyes.
"Yes Josh. I'm pregnant."

I feel like the earth swallowed me whole, Mohammed Ali socked me in the face and the Republicans took back the Senate all in one go. My eyebrows shoot up and I feel anger shooting right up through me. I poen my mouth because I HAVE to yell when she clamps her hand over my mouth.
"Don't Josh. Don't bother with the wisecrack. Don't give me the gomer speech. Don't even breath a word of what you're thinking." She looks so tough she could kill me right now. In two seconds her entire body language has changed. I'm about to explode but she keeps going.
"I'm tired Josh. I'm tired, I'm scared, I'm confused and guess what. I'm single, so before you insult me, or insult the father, or demean me and belittle me with a snide comment or funny joke, save it. I haven't slept for two nights, I've no idea what to do and I really, really need a friend right now. If you can't be that friend, then just be quiet."

Well, THAT made me speechless. I'm about to open my mouth and say something stupid anyway, as I always do when she suddenly breaks down. Sh sort of crumples in the chair and starts to sob silently. In that exact moment I see my whole future ahead of me. And for the first time, there's more than just the White House in it.

"Donna... I..."
"Please Josh.... don't"

"I won't... I'm here..."
I lean in and wrap my arms around her and she melts into me completely. The whole world just shifted on its axis and I've suddenly no idea where its going except I know where I want it to be going. And I don't want it to be going to anywhere where this woman is going to be crying. I bury my face in her hair and hold her. Just let her cry it out.

"It's ok Donna, we'll figure something out. I promise not to yell."
"I'm scared Josh... This isn't what I had planned. It's all gone wrong..."

"DOnna, if there is anything I'm certain about right now, aside from the fact that I still want to kill whoever made you cry, is that you have never, ever been wrong and you're not going to start being wrong now. In two minutes you're going to walk out that door,sit down at your desk, make me index cards that I won't be able to read, refuse to bring me coffee and be smart and funny and interrupt my phone calls every ten minutes to tell me some inane trivial fact about the Ugandan gorilla or a newly discovered constellation. Once you've done all that, we're going to figure something out ok."

She laughs softly into my shoulder.


I pull back from the hug and look at her, my hands still resting on her shoulders. We both breathe a big sigh and a few thousand words are exchanged silently across the space between our gazes. I'm not sure what the words are saying but she walks out and leaves me standing, shellshocked, terrified but somehow renewed all at the same time.

Donna is pregnant. A whole new door has been opened. And I am head over heels in love with this woman.

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