DISCLAIMER: So not mine.
NOTES: Thanks to Jae, Luna, Jess and Jori. Thanks to the real Ed and the very real Nikki.
NOTES2: One line of implied slash. Angst. Not shippy at all.


Josh was, if not drunk, on the way to it. It started out as a simple drink at the end of a terribly long and draining day; after Sam left the two of them, Josh had turned to her and began stroking her hand. They necked in the cab back to his place, and Donna tried not to think: finally.

Because she was no longer sixteen, she hadn't been mooning and constructing fantasies of the moment, but she had hoped. His hand was warm moving up her skirt and she realized she was grinning with every touch. She playfully undid his tie on the stairs and wrapped it around her hand. When they got to his door, she was already tugging his shirt out of his pants. He had a great body under those suits, just lean and muscled and very nice.

He smelled like alcohol, though, and his eyes were unfocused, as they lurched back into the bedroom. He didn't turned on the light and they fell onto the bed with a thud. Donna felt a twinge in the back of her knee where she'd hit the frame falling over, but she ignored it. His hands went right up her skirt and began tugging at her pantyhose. He said with a snicker, "Doesn't anyone wear thigh highs anymore?"

"On my salary?" She failed to repress a chuckle. "These cost $2, you know how much nice thigh highs cost?" He laughed again and muttered something about not worrying about it as he put ten runs in them pulling them down her hips and legs. He broke off their kiss and asked if she'd ever heard that thing Lyndon Johnson said about the invention of pantyhose ruining finger fucking. She said no and frowned. He smiled and said it wasn't important. He kissed her again and she concentrated on the feel of his body against hers, the way he was already grinding his hips and erection against her.

She shifted again and pulled off her skirt and shirt. They were both shucking clothes as they kissed fervently and grabbed at each other, breaking away momentarily to throw socks and pants and shirts to the side. She tugged at his boxers and he tried to undo the clasp of her bra. She had to do it for him, but she didn't mind.

That part, Donna thinks in the morning, wasn't so bad. In fact, she remembers it fondly; she was enjoying it. But then Josh was too fast with his fingers on her nipples, and he rubbed her clit in a way that hadn't quite done much for her. She tried to direct him a little and that helped but she wasn't quite wet enough when he entered her. He moved too fast again and while she did come, it was hardly an earth-shattering orgasm. She tries in the cold light of morning not to take it as an omen that the sex wasn't that great. She tries not to dwell on whether he might have muttered "Sam" in her shoulder after he came, and she succeeds and forgets it.

She comes into his office at the end of a meeting with Congressman Wick. Congressman Wick and Josh are gossiping and she hears the Congressman say, "And everyone knows he's shtupping that blonde ditz of a secretary he's got - guy's an idiot." Josh laughs, and says something about men who think other men are impressed when they snag girls like that. He looks up and sees her. She knows then how the rest of it will go.

She goes back to her desk and works, for the rest of the day; all the while feeling stupid and a little depressed. They never have time to talk all day. Sometimes Josh won't meet her eyes and sometimes he does and stops before he says anything.

She goes home and curls into a ball on the couch. She has that song from Chorus Line stuck in her head. "Won't regret, can't forget ..." she hums. The song makes her feel even lower. Her grandmother loved Chorus Line. She remembers riding in her grandmother's car, listening to the 8 track and the weird fades in the songs as the 8 track clicked in between tracks. It's a sad song even though the singer swears she won't regret the things she's done; all Donna remembers is the part about love lost and effort wasted.

She thought Josh was more than he was. She imagined a different ending to their first kiss and first time together. She thought she was more than she feels. Donna reviews her decisions of the last two years and wonders if she has worked these hours and given up all these things for what she thought was love. She leans her forehead against her knees. She imagined a love story like the closing number of Chorus Line and she worked and slaved and put up with unending shit for the hope of it. For what she thought what could be a bright musical with dance numbers and has turned out to be just a thing.

She knows what he'll say in the morning when they have a chance to talk. She sighs and goes to the refrigerator. There's a six-pack of beer with only four beers in it, and a note from her roommate telling her to take as many as she wants. Donna snags a beer and sits on the couch. She could turn on the TV, she could put in a cd, but instead she sips her beer and stares at the room.

Her roommate breezes in. Gloria babbles about the meeting that night; she is a grad student and active in the Filipino Students Association at her college. She goes to meetings and volunteers. They don't really know each other; Gloria answered an ad and they are never home at the same time. The best part about living with Gloria is that she loves to do the dishes. She says that growing up in her large family washing dishes was her oasis of calm. Donna tries not to abuse her roommate's odd quirks.

Gloria is still talking. Gloria says, "So it's completely draining, but I'm still so excited. I mean, I think this project is really coming together. But you know what I mean, of course."

Donna looks up, puzzled.

"Like at the White House, getting things done, working for what's right." Gloria is leaning against the sink, still buzzed and happy, and she says it all without irony.

"Yeah. Right." Donna sounds flippant and bitter, even to herself. She thinks she's made these decisions for the last two years and she made them because she thought there would be bright lights and dancing at some point. Now she knows there won't be and she wonders why she can't afford nice silk thigh high stockings.

Gloria keeps grinning. "You work there for the right reasons, baby, I know it." Gloria turns to the sink and starts singing as she washes the dishes, happily. She's singing a Tom Petty song about not backing down, and she interrupts herself to call it a great, great protest song. "It's all about the movement, Donna! Standing up!" Donna's glad to hear the song if only because it knocks "What I Did For Love" out of her head. She finishes her beer and crawls into an old donated bed with cheap sheets.

Donna dreams of her grandmother and eight tracks. She wakes up before her alarm goes off, for once, and stares at the ceiling in the green light from her clock radio. She thinks about why she works in the White House and why she went to New Hampshire in the first place and the second place.

The job she enjoyed most before the Campaign she worked for only two weeks as a temp. A local advocacy group in Madison had a massive mailing to get out and they hired one temp - Donna - to help them stuff and fold and sign the Executive Director's name to 9000 letters. The actual work was boring and repetitive, but the office was the most exciting place she worked before she went to New Hampshire.

For two weeks she talked about politics, feminism, unions, history and pop music and everything in the world while stuffing envelopes and signing someone else's name. The people who worked there seemed perpetually tired and constantly manic, careening off walls with a kind of energy she sees every day now since Fred left her and then she left him. On the wall the Development Director taped stamps she clipped from cheaply printed envelopes sent in by members with tiny checks. "Each unique iteration," she would say to Donna, waving at the stamps, "these represent the people we work for. Our members!" Then she giggled and added, "And it looks fucking cool."

At the office, people argued and bitched and laughed at a fever pitch. One of the advocates had gone cold with fury talking about an attack ad run during an initiative campaign. He almost shook with fury. When she told Fred about it, he called the guy a freak. Donna wasn't put off, she felt envy. She never had a job or done anything that made her mad enough to shake.

She remembers the Development Director telling another staff person about her interview -- someone named Ed interviewed her and he said, "Most people work to earn a paycheck for the weekend. This is not that job."

She remembers telling Fred she wished she could have worked there full-time. He pointed out the obvious -- she would never make enough at a non-profit to pay for rent and his med school. The only way they had been able to afford her for even two weeks had been thanks to a grant from the CFA. He also noted how cult- like the group was; how they all socialized primarily with each other and had no time for anyone else. The unconscious arrogance of people on a crusade and the way they acted like they knew the secret no one else did. Donna nodded and abandoned the wish, and thought, they are different in a way; they're not most people.

She thinks, looking at her battered dresser and its one "Bartlet for President" sticker on the side, everything bathed in the green light, she went back to Fred in part because she felt herself becoming not like most people. She recognized the crusade and the cult in New Hampshire and South Carolina and been afraid. She thinks about how she always ends up hanging out with the same staffers over and over again. She thinks, suddenly, too, of raising her hand in the oval office and a battle won for autism. She thinks about getting a good man on a stamp and a learned discussion on drug policy. She thinks about being at the Democratic Convention for the first time and seeing a good man nominated. She did -- in some way -- all of those things. She remembers shaking in anger watching Lillianfield talk about Leo.

Her alarm comes on to NPR and Morning Edition is in mid-story. She hears CJ saying something from yesterday's briefings. She springs out of bed and smiles. She feels ten pounds lighter and she thinks: finally.

At the office, Josh pulls her into his office and looks her in the eye. He apologizes for not talking to her yesterday. He starts to say she's very valuable to him, she's very important to him. She knows what he's about to say. She thanks God for Gloria, and stamps on a wall and for some person named Ed who told someone who told her what she needed to know. She thought last night this would be crushing, but it's just mildly disappointing. She smiles and tells Josh it's okay. Maybe he's less than she thought, but he's still a good man and a good friend. He says he's not good enough for her and she agrees heartily. She tries not to skip out of his office.

She sits at her desk and watches people rush by, almost choreographed. She hears ringing phones and the low hum of the news and C-Span, along with a hundred important conversations. It's bright lights and dancing and she is not most people and she hums Tom Petty all day, even after Sam tells her to stop.


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