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19 February 2008 @ 12:18 pm
5 Movies Josh Would Never Have Seen Without Donna  
Title: 5 Movies Josh Would Have Never Seen Without Donna (1/5)
Word Count: 1500.
Rating: G

5 Movies Josh Would Have Never Seen Without Donna
One: Bringing Up Baby

It’s a sultry spring night in Southern California, and Donna’s starting to think she’s never been this tired in her life. Apparently, being the sudden and completely out-of-the-blue frontrunner for the Democratic nomination mostly just entails even more work than being the out-of-the-blue underdog. It seems to mean more polling numbers that need to be picked up from the fax downstairs, sorted, highlighted and color-coded, more reporters to keep out of Josh’s way, more phone calls to ward off and more staff meetings to attend, with Sam and Toby pacing around with an increase of intensity she didn’t think was possible.

At ten-thirty, she slumps into her room, throws open the tiny window and cranks up the fan, peels off her clothes and slips into her PJs, one hand reaching for the remote to the tiny TV, the other finding a bag of groceries she managed to pick up before a rally in Santa Monica yesterday. She flicks through the channels, bypassing CNN without a second glance and stopping when Cary Grant flickers onto the screen, asking for a Mr. Peabody. With a barely suppressed squeal of glee, she nestles herself more comfortably onto her bed, turning up the volume just as Katherine Hepburn flicks an olive behind her shoulder.

She’s lost count of the times she’s seen this movie; it’s one of her grandmother’s favorites. Donna spent half of her childhood sitting in Granny Eily’s den, watching Gone With The Wind, Roman Holiday and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, while Granny’s knitting needles clacked in the background and rain pattered onto the roof.

As Katherine Hepburn chats up an unsuspecting psychologist and then, in a whirlwind of haywire emotion even she can admire, cons poor Cary Grant into stealing his date’s purse, she finds herself dreaming herself back to that time, being eight years old and giggling at the absurdity of all of this through a mouthful of Granny’s gingersnaps, one ear listening for her mother’s car in the driveway and hoping she’d decide to go to the store tonight before picking her up.

The truth is, some nights on this campaign, she barely feels a day older than that eight-year-old girl. She knows so little about any of this, there are days when locating the town and electoral district they happen to be in on a map feels like an achievement. She watches Katherine Hepburn’s brazen million-words-a-minute banter unfold in front of her, the familiar longing of a shy little girl who wanted to be a little more like this as present as ever- but then she stops and thinks, and the realization his home with all the grace and force of the rock Susan launches at Mr. Peabody’s head.

That’s not me anymore.

She’s not shy anymore, she’s not hiding her giggles behind her fists and eating only one cookie because that’s what you do, she’s not waiting tables in an upscale coffee shop on State Street and stopping to pick up ingredients for a dinner made out of obligation on the way home, she doesn’t do that anymore. She happily turns up the volume a little more, popping a third Oreo into her mouth just because she can, and feels her whole body relax. No matter how tired she is, now matter how sticky and no matter how badly she wants a bath, she realizes hasn’t been this at peace with herself in a long time.

She’s laughing so hard at Susan and David singing “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” while pulling on Baby’s tail that she almost misses the knock on her door. Still giggling, she rolls off her bed and opens. It’s Josh, and it’s only now that she realizes all she’s wearing is a pair of faded heart-patterned boxers and a tank top.

“Hey,” she says, blushing slightly.

He grins at her, eyebrows raised. “Hi.” Despite the amusement dancing in his eyes, there’s something flat in his tone of voice, something in the shadows under his eyes and the way his shirt is half-dangling out of his jeans and his collar’s askew that makes her bite back any comments about Donna-time and workaholicism. “We’re going out –there’s a bar across the street- you wanna come?”

She smiles at this, gestures to her attire and the TV in the background. “That’s sweet- but I think I kind of need to take the night off.”

He shrugs at this. “I know what you mean,” he sighs. It’s been three weeks since he rejoined the campaign, and there’s something in his demeanor that makes her guess that the last thing he needs tonight is trying to keep up with CJ’s mouth and Toby’s drinking, stumbling out of a seedy bar at one AM, gripping the small of her back a little too forcefully; and wordlessly accepting the aspirin she’ll hand him the next morning. And he also doesn’t need to curl up on his bed with his tenth coffee and a stack full of polling numbers, staring at them like they’re a Magic Eye Book, like patterns will emerge if you concentrate properly, until his eyes flutter shut at three in the morning.

She bites her lips and thinks of how much she owes him. “You wanna come in?”

He knots his eyebrows together. “Seriously?”

“Yeah, I’m just watching a movie, but you can hang in here a bit, if you want.”

“I-“ he hesitates for a fraction of a second. “Yeah, okay, sure.” She steps aside to let him, peeling a thin long sleeve out of her unpacked suitcase and pulling it over her head. No matter how professional their relationship might be, she doesn’t think it a good idea for her to be around him in a dimly-lit room wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and a clingy, red tank top whose shoulders keep sliding off to reveal the bows of her bra straps.
He’s standing in the middle of the room with a lost look on her face, and that makes her smile as she hops back on the bed and pats the space next to her. “Josh, sit.”

He does, cautiously at first, but then he catches her eyes, and with a loopy grin swings his body next to hers and focuses his attention onto the television. “What’re we watching?” He asks, as an embarrassed Cary Grant buys 30 pounds of sirloin steak. “And is that a leopard?”

“Josh. You’ve seen Bringing Up Baby. You have.”

“I really haven’t,” he remarks, as Baby slips from one car into another and Katherine Hepburn proceeds to steal said vehicle. “What on earth is happening in this movie?”

“She’s a rich heiress, he’s a nerdy, klutzy paleontologist. She’s got a pet leopard. Really, that’s all there is to say in terms of plot,” she says, lapsing into a fit of giggles.

“This is bizarre,” he remarks, and she feels like his grin has more to do with her obvious enjoyment than with the humor unfolding on-screen.

“It’s one of the classics of the American film. Now sit back, shut up and enjoy.”

“Kay.”

Predictably enough, because it’s a dark room quiet except for the television and nobody’s badgering him about strategy or polling, and his phone isn’t ringing and they don’t need ten words on national security for the debate, and he’s not arguing with anyone, he falls asleep about fifteen minutes later. His body slides down the headboard of her bed and his eyelids flutter faintly. She considers waking him, but knows he won’t sleep for another two or three hours when left to his own devices, and something in the way his body’s curling up makes her heart flutter. She peels the thin covers out from under him and throws them over his form, gently running a hand over his arm before catching herself and immediately stopping. She turns the volume down on the television and tries not to laugh too loudly. She tries to focus on the action unfolding on the screen, she really does, but keeps getting distracted and nearly misses her favorite scene because she’s paying way to much attention to the cute little snoring noise Josh keeps making.

As the credits roll, she flicks off the television and after brushing her teeth and giving her sensitive alabaster skin the kind of attention it requires, lies down next to him. His breathing is more regular than she’s ever heard it, his whole body completely relaxed. Asleep, he looks younger, and much less haunted. She curls up beside him, closing her eyes, and there’s something wonderfully comforting about the way their breaths are mingling, how perfectly the sound of his breathing fits in with the hum of the fan, and she falls asleep with a smile playing on her face.

She half-wakes in the middle of the night to find their hands entangled and her body arched around his, but she’s too sleepy to see anything wrong with that, because in her barely awake mind, it doesn’t feel wrong at all.
The next morning is a haze of awkwardness and elaborate scrambling to get him out of her room without anyone finding out. But there’s something in the way the circles under his eyes are substantially less obvious, and something in the way his laugh rings louder as he teases CJ over breakfast, and something in the way his energy is more playful and less forced as he answers questions from reporters and gets into an argument with Toby on Health Care spin that’s soothing to her.

As everyone’s getting back on the campaign bus, he waves her over. “Listen,” he says, frowning, “I’m really sorry about…”

“Don’t be,” she smiles, meaning it with all her heart. “Although, one day you’re gonna have to actually see that movie.”

“It’s a date,” he smiles. “And thanks.”

“Don’t mention it,” she replies, her smile growing even wider. “Least I could do. And come on,” she says, taking his hand and pulling him on the bus, “We’ve got a nomination to win.”
 
 
Current Mood: groggygroggy
 
 
 
crystalkei: red lights J/Dcrystalkei on February 19th, 2008 01:44 pm (UTC)
staring at them like they’re a Magic Eye Book, like patterns will emerge if you concentrate properly

that line is fantastically West Wing-esque.

he falls asleep after about fifteen minutes later.
but this one is a bit wordy. I would remove "after" or "about" or you could remove both.

I really enjoyed this and can't wait for the next one!

Edited at 2008-02-19 01:44 pm (UTC)
'Noodlesnewyork_noodles on February 19th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks! That was a typo, I took out the "after"- thanks for noticing though.

Glad you enjoyed!
edgeriffic: nametagedgeriffic on February 19th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
This is lovely!

You've portrayed a little slice of time during the first campaign very realistically, very subtly. I like Donna's realization about herself, I like her not going out, I like her being concerned about Josh's state of being post-his-father's death but not in the cliched, obvious "I'm so in tune with you" way that so much J/D fan fic likes to go to.

I go back to the word subtle---subtle little things that seem very true to character, time, place.

I really really enjoyed this. Great idea for a series, looking forward to more.
'Noodles: pic#55574118newyork_noodles on February 19th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading! I'm glad it felt true and unclichéd to you, that was really what I was going for.

Thanks!
Laura: like you backlauraonbway on February 19th, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
This is delightful and delicious! And I agree with the subtle perfection.
jhulings on February 20th, 2008 03:10 am (UTC)
"Now sit back, shut up and enjoy.” Ooh this is Donna at her best! Looking forward to the next chapter.
cre8tiveyecre8tiveye on February 20th, 2008 03:30 am (UTC)
I thoroughly enjoyed the innocence of this story. I also like the more self-assured Donna that you've written compared to so many stories set during the first campaign that paint Donna as a naive farm girl wannabe from Wisconsin.

Can't wait to read more!
Commodore Marie: OTP - The West Wingcommodoremarie on February 20th, 2008 07:24 am (UTC)
Oooh that was fun and sweet and I'm Netflixing that movie tomorrow. I can't wait for the rest! Thank you so much for writing and sharing!
Sally: DonnaMaybeallie83 on February 21st, 2008 05:07 am (UTC)
I absolutely loved this. I can't wait for the next =)
lattelady6: Lattelattelady6 on March 19th, 2008 06:13 am (UTC)
I love it. Stories about Josh and Donna at the beginning are always so nice. This one is cute and tender. It shows where they are headed.