Summary: It's not business. It's personal!
For years, assistant Donna Moss has been faithfully holding a torch for her hunky boss. But she doesn't need a memo to see she's stuck in the friend zone! Donna decides she needs to look elsewhere for love. So she invents a long-distance girlfriend–the perfect excuse to quit her job and move away–and gives her two-weeks notice.
Josh Lyman is stunned by the extent of emotion that Donna's resignation releases! He soon discovers Donna's girlfriend is a sham, but rather than tip his hand, Josh decides to romance–and seduce–her into staying. Now Donna must choose whether to stick to her guns–or follow her heart into the arms of the man she loves!
"You're not moving to Indiana."
"Josh." Donna's voice was calm and even. "I gave you two weeks notice, I found you a new assistant, I trained him to attend your every need. He'll be in before Senior Staff on Monday. This is my leaving party. I am leaving."
"But Indiana?" He failed to keep a little whine from his voice, but this was his last chance to change her mind and he was getting desperate.
She rolled her eyes. "Indiana isn't all bad. I have a good job with the governor's office, which is a step up from assistant. A big step up. And I have a girlfriend there, don't forget." She almost sounded like the girlfriend was an afterthought.
All the same, he listed his objections to her plan on his fingers. "The governor's office is not the White House. You don't have a girlfriend, you made her up because you finally had enough of all the loser men you keep dating. And," he added, saving the most important until last, "it's Indiana. There's nothing there."
"Josh." She paused to take a deep breath. "We've had this conversation multiple times a day for the past two weeks. What do you want me to do?"
"Stay." It came up more heartfelt than he'd intended, but he didn't know how else to convince her. He couldn't bear the idea of going into work on Monday without Donna being there.
She bit her lip. "Then find a better way to persuade me." Without giving any clues as to how he should do that, she turned and headed back to the table she'd been sitting at when he arrived.
He watched her go, barely noticing the pair of laughing women stumbling into him on their way out. It was a Friday night and the place was full of people letting off steam. Many of them had begun at the end of the working day, a few hours earlier, and were therefore very relaxed.
There was a table in the back corner where Sam was telling a story, with interjections from Toby, judging by the hand gestures. C.J. and Carol were held enraptured by it, whatever it was. Donna slipped into a seat beside Margaret and didn't even glance in Josh's direction.
Josh should join his friends, but he couldn't deal with their company right now. Being along in a crowd sounded more appealing. There was a space at the end of the bar, which he headed towards, intending to soothe his hurt with liquor.
The beer he chose was not as good as it was advertised to be. Nevertheless, he was halfway through it when Sam came up beside him. Despite having spotted Sam's approach in the mirror behind the bar, Josh hadn't turned round. Sam, however, didn't get the message.
"What was the point of coming to Donna's leaving party if you're going to sulk?" Sam sounded far too cheery considering they were at Donna's leaving party. Which Josh hadn't wanted to come to in the first place. Donna had guilted him into it earlier and there had only been so long he could hang around in his office, pretending to work before It had become clear she wasn't coming back to get him.
"I'm not sulking. I'm thinking." He sipped at his beer, which continued not to provide him with any revelations.
"What have you thought about so far?"
He finally turned to Sam. "How screwed I am." He paused for moment, considering whether there was was anything else. "Mostly that."
Sam pulled up a stool. Motivated perhaps because of the hopelessness of Joshs's situation or maybe it was Josh's pathetic expression.
Since Sam wasn't going away Josh decided to try a sympathetic ear. "Why would anyone want to move to Indiana when they work in the White House?"
Sam shrugged. "Maybe because a twelve hour day is a light day and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of weekends I've had off this year?"
"But it's still the White House." Admittedly, a decent night's sleep might be nice, but he wouldn't trade his job for it. He'd thought Donna had felt the same. She'd certainly been excited enough about being there in the first place.
"Yeah, but doesn't it feel normal after three years?"
"I guess." Josh shrugged.
"So what's in Indiana? For Donna," Sam added, having some idea of Josh's opinion of the place.
"She says she has a girlfriend there. Who doesn't exist by the way."
"You sure?" Sam raised his eyebrows and pursed his mouth.
"I overheard her talking to Margaret." At the time it had been a bonus he'd been keeping to himself as he needled Donna into revealing the truth. But then she'd resigned and he hadn't been able to get a thing out of her.
After waving down a member of the bar staff and ordering his own beer, Sam turned contemplative. "Maybe you need a different tactic."
"I don't have any other tactics." He shifted his bottle away from the wet ring on the bar. "I haven't exactly had many girlfriends."
Sam's eyebrows rose. "We're talking about your assistant, not your girlfriend.." When Josh opened his mouth to speak, Sam held up a hand. "The only conversations we've had the past two weeks has been about Donna. Every day. Have you tried telling her how you feel?"
Josh sighed and studied the bar. "I didn't know until she handed me her resignation."
Sam didn't looked surprised at that revelation. "And you weren't planning to tell her before she left?"
"I'm not good with women?" Josh offered as a reason. "And I'm her boss," he said a little more confidently.
"You're not any more." Sam leaned closer. "Worst that can happen, she goes to Indiana. Best case, she feels the same way and wants to stay here to be with you. What have you got to lose?"
When he put it like that it was hard to disagree. Although it didn't dispel the fear in Josh's stomach. After a long pull of his drink, it felt like enough Dutch courage. Before he could change his mind he stood up. "Hold my beer."
With a confidence he didn't feel, he strode over to the table, calling out Donna's name when he was close enough to be heard over the music.
Donna looked up from the discussion she was having with Carol and Margaret, her expression guarded.
This was a terrible idea and he nearly chickened out, but he had to say something and it was certainly not going to be 'have a good rest of your life'. "Can I speak to you for a moment?"
He turned away, searching for somewhere they could talk. The thumbs up from Sam wasn't helpful, especially given the frown on Donna's face when Josh turned back to her.
He tried a smile. "Over there." He pointed to an empty space not far enough away from the table for his liking, but it was out of Sam's line of sight. The speaker above it might mean they'd have to shout louder, but at least they'd be less likely to be overheard.
As they went Josh remembered what Joey had said about Donna's feelings. But that was two years ago and only a guess. Why couldn't he have blurted something out sooner? Then he wouldn't have to endure this sense of doom. Of course, that would have meant admitting how he felt. Which he still wasn't convinced would go well.
Once he stopped, having made sure his back was to the bar so he wouldn't catch anyone's eye, Donna faced him with an expectant expression. He was good at speaking and good at convincing people. When it came to politics anyway. In his personal life, not so much. But he had to say something, and he opted for opening his mouth and letting words spill out, hoping they'd be the right ones.
"I've been selfish. You're too good to be an assistant. You should have gone onto better things by now. But I kept you in my office because I don't know what I'd do without you."
She smiled and there was that expression that said she thought he was an idiot, but liked him anyway. At least he hoped that was what it meant. "Your new assistant is very capable, I made sure of that. You'll hardly notice I'm gone."
He shook his head. "That's not what I meant."
"Then what?" she asked, frowning when he didn't clarify.
He took a deep breath and directed his gaze over her shoulder, not letting himself be distracted by the reflections in the window behind her. "You mean more to me than an assistant. More than just a friend. I don't want you to go." His voice grew quieter as he spoke, causing her to step closer and making it harder to pretend she wasn't there.
"I'm leaving," she said, also keeping her voice low, "because I'm in love with you, but you were never going to think of me as anything more than an assistant. Or a friend."
"You're in love with me?" he asked in a disbelieving tone, as soon as she stopped for a breath.
She gave him a nervous smile. "I've been trying to get over you and - don't get a big head or anything - but it's hard when I see you every--"
He cut her off with a kiss. Until two weeks ago, he'd never even considered kissing Donna. And then, when he she said was going to leave him, it was all he could think about.
But now he knew he hadn't thought about it at all. Because he couldn't have imagined the warmth of her lips against his; the way she let herself melt into him when he reached an arm around her to bring her closer still; or her fingers tickling the back of his neck that gave him butterflies in his stomach.
He could have stayed lost in Donna forever if it hadn't been for a wolf whistle, coming from somewhere on his left. Although he stuck his middle finger up in their general direction it had broken the spell. Donna was smiling against his mouth and he couldn't help but do the same. When he opened his eyes he found her staring at him. He fought the urge to giggle, punch the air, or both as they gave in and broke apart.
It was probably for the best that he couldn't tear himself away from her eyes, or let go of her. "Don't go." From this distance he didn't need to raise his voice to be heard, but he found himself keeping it to just above a whisper, wanting her to lean closer to hear him. "There are jobs here. I'll give you the best reference."
"I can't back out now." She closed her eyes for a moment and he resisted the urge to kiss her eyelids. "I'll look flaky and then how will I get another job? Besides, I want the one I've been offered."
She loved him and she was still leaving. What was wrong with him that he could never find anyone who would stick around? "Donna…" But he didn't have anything left to say.
She dropped her hand and stepped back, forcing him to let go of her.
He stuck his hands in his pockets.
"Do you even know what the job is?" she asked.
"No. Does it matter?" It hadn't before now, because he'd assumed it didn't exist, same as with her imaginary girlfriend, and so he hadn't asked.
She sighed. "It's a good job. A friend recommended me for it and they want me. Me - Donna Moss. I want to do it and I am going to do it. This is important to me."
He nodded at his feet, failing not to interpret that as the job being more important than he was. Maybe things would be different if he'd said something two weeks ago, but he hadn't thought she'd really go.
And kissing in full view of their friends had made everything worse. Everyone would know what had happened. Even if they never mentioned it, they'd still know. Why hadn't they gone outside? Aside from the weather, but getting wet and cold would have been better than being watched.
"I wish I could have both, but a long distance relationship only works if you have free time."
As much as he wanted to disagree with that, he could only nod. How could he spend free weekends with her when he never had any free weekends?
"But the election's in eight months," Donna said. "Who knows where you'll be then."
"Only if we lose. Wouldn't that be great." He didn't bother trying to pretend not to sound defeated.
"Josh…" But she trailed off. It seemed like she didn't have anything left to say either.
He should go home or back to his beer, but he wanted to be near her, so he didn't move.
"You know, my flight's not until Monday." She placed her hand on his chest and he raised his head to see her biting her lip. Which just made him want to kiss her again.
When she continued she'd lowered her voice. "And I've done all my packing."
Now he understood what she was saying. It wasn't all he wanted, but she had just given him a whole weekend to work on convincing her some more. He caught her hand and smiled. "What are we waiting for?"