Beta thanks to Merry, Mia, Shalott, and Res. This story is for Elvinborn, who sent me down memory lane by quoting the following Josh/Donna exchange:
Josh:: I'm just saying: if you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for beer.
Donna:: If you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for red lights.
Don't ask me when in West Wing this story is set; my answer is "earlyish, in the classic years." In a way, classic West Wing--with Sam, Josh, Toby, CJ, Leo, Donna, Ainsley, etc., is kind of a dead canon. So whee, now I can write there!
The first time Josh went down on her, she wasn't expecting it. She'd clearly done something to deserve it, but she hadn't ever managed to figure out what. He had paused by the side of her desk like he did ten times a day, a blur of motion momentarily suspended, half-between one thing and the next, and she had picked up her clipboard and given him a report on the last hour and a half: she'd scheduled a breakfast meeting for him with Senator Worthen's office, and pulled every available documeont on H-427 for his immediate review, and oh, there had been calls from Judge Frederick's office, and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, but she had put them off—but Julie Tabor had called from the Economic Policy Institute and that had sounded important, because hadn't he been trying to put together a bipartisan plan to— and somewhere in the middle of that, Josh's face had changed, and he'd jerked a shoulder toward his office and she had followed him, still holding her clipboard, as she had a million times before, except this time Josh went and locked first one of his doors and then the other. She had been waiting for whatever confidential, cone-of-silence instructions he intended to give her, and she hadn't thought anything was strange even as he pulled the clipboard from her hands and tossed it onto his desk. It was only when he put his hands on her hips and gently pushed her back against the wall next to his closet that she realized that something odd was happening, because Josh had never, ever touched her below the waist before; hell, Josh had never touched her, period. Oh, he talked a good game, liked to stand by her desk with his hands jammed in his pockets and crack wise about the sexual fantasies he had involving wholesome blond dairy girls from Wisconsin, preferably dressed like the St. Pauli girl and carrying—"what, what's that thing, Donna, with the bar over the shoulders and the two buckets and the milk; what the hell is that called?"—but his hands had always stayed jammed in his pockets. Talk like a frat boy, act like a gentleman: that was Joshua Lyman.
But not that day. That day, he let his hands rest on her hips, and the touch was shocking, a little jolt of electricity between them. He began nudging her back, the question visible in his eyes—Is this okay? Is this okay? They were about the same height—in fact, she was maybe a little taller than he was, even without her heels—and so she was looking straight into his eyes when she nodded encouragingly, knowing enough not to say anything out loud. Her heart was jackhammering by the time her shoulders touched the wall, and she wondered if he was finally going to kiss her. But he didn't; instead, he just looked at her for a long moment with that peculiar expression still on his face, and then he was dropping down to his knees in front of her, awkwardly, jerkily, first one knee and then the other. His hands were still clutching at her hips, and then they were sliding down the outside of her thighs and—
There was a moment where she could have stopped it—and she probably should have stopped it, because really, this was the world's most terrible idea for about fourteen thousand different reasons—but she didn't. It was the moment when Josh's hands suddenly stopped sliding downward and started pushing up, pushing her wool skirt up her thighs, its silk lining crinkling under his hands. She could have said, "Josh!" and put her hands on his shoulders and pushed him away, but she just didn't want to.
Instead, she held her breath, and in the moment between that breath and the next, Josh leaned in and pressed his mouth to her underwear, and all was lost. She had gotten in the habit of wearing stockings topped with a wide band of snug elastic, which stayed up by themselves, after putting runs in pair after pair of pantyhose. As a result, Josh could lean in to kiss her plain cotton panties—grey today, and God, why hadn't she worn something sexier? But Josh didn't seem to be disappointed; instead, he let out a soft needy sound and began mouthing her through the fabric. She felt the pull of desire, low and strong, and a wetness that wasn't from Josh's mouth. Gasping, she braced one hand on his shoulder to steady herself, the starched white fabric of his shirt crisp under her hand, as he pushed against her harder, working her with his lips while his tongue circled and searched for her clit. She felt his hot, wet breath through the damp cotton, and wanted him in her, or at least on her, skin to skin. But the fabric stayed between them. Breathing hard, she pushed back against his mouth.
It didn't take very long. Josh's hands were hot and a little sweaty where they cupped her thighs, and that unfamiliar intimacy was almost enough to send her skittering into orgasm all by itself. His head was between her legs, and he was moving rhythmically against her, moaning softly as he worked her clitoris through the cotton. Suddenly his tongue stroked hard down the crotch of her panties to tease the opening of her vagina, and God, she tried to be quiet, but still her orgasm escaped her in a series of soft, breathy cries. His hands tightened on her thighs, and he went still beneath her, pressing his face against the wet cotton front of her panties, feeling her orgasm, waiting her out.
Grateful for the solidity of the wall behind her, she closed her eyes and tried to get her breath back. Time stretched out forever, the insane hubbub of the office seeming dim and infinitely far away. Questions circled her mind, but they were slippery and she couldn't get a grip on them: What did this mean? What happens next? She would have loved to go down on him too, but she already knew that no way in hell was Josh going to let his assistant blow him in the White House. Democrats were dumb, but they weren't that dumb. Not anymore.
And then what happened next just happened: a phone started ringing, Josh's phone, and Josh peeled away from her, leaving her crotch and legs exposed. She was cold suddenly, her thighs goosepimpling, and she opened her eyes to see Josh kneeing his way over to the desk and fumbling his phone off the hook. "Josh Lyman."
It was so normal to see Josh on the phone, even on his knees, that it seemed strange to be leaning against the wall with her skirt pushed up around her waist. She looked down and fumbled to find the hem of her lining, noticing as she did so that the front triangle of her cotton panties was dark and wrinkled, wet from being in Josh's mouth. The narrow strip of fabric between her legs was soaked. She adjusted the tops of her stockings and tugged her wool skirt down. Josh said, "Yeah, I know about that already," and "No, on Friday," and "But he promised—well, tell him he can't!" and then Josh was hauling himself to his feet, suddenly familiar again, the Josh she knew, pacing and looking at his watch. "Look, just keep him there, do whatever you have to do, but—I'll be there in, I don't know, ten minutes, fifteen at the—I don't care, Paul, spill coffee on him if you have to," and then Josh slammed the phone down, and turned to her—and she wasn't sure what he saw on her face, but whatever he was going to say got momentarily sidetracked. He blinked at her.
"I, uh," Josh said finally, using both hands to gesture broadly to the phone, "have a thing, I have to—"
"Should I get you a car?" she said, already feeling more self-possessed; she knew this part of it, the getting-Josh-through-his-day thing, the not-talking-about-anything-else thing. "I can have it at the south entrance in five minutes—"
"Yeah," Josh said, suddenly jerking back into motion again. "Yeah, that would be good. I haven't got a lot of time if I'm going to catch him." He grabbed a bottle of water off the desk, uncapped it, and took a long swig, and she noticed that he let a little water dribble out of the corner of his mouth before wiping his lips with a handkerchief. Her face got hot. His mouth must have felt sticky.
"I, uh," Josh said, awkwardly shifting from foot to foot.
"Go," she said. "The car'll be there," and Josh looked simultaneously grateful and apologetic and guilty, so she added, "Hurry up. You can tell me about it later." Josh nodded, looking relieved, and pulled his tan suit jacket off the stand by the door, and Donna knew right then that when Josh came back he would tell her how he had pressured Senator Whosisbucket to change his vote on some piece of legislation, or how he'd managed to keep some crumbling coalition together for another day by buying person X off with a promise of Y and thus making a deal for Z. What he wouldn't tell her was why he had suddenly decided to go down on her in his office.
She took a deep breath, pulled herself together, and carried on with her day. Nobody seemed to think there was anything strange about her when she came out of Josh's office—she was often in the office for extended periods after long pow-wows with Josh, carrying out instructions or gathering information—and after the first ten minutes or so, she stopped wondering if she smelled like her boss had gone down on her.
It was only as she was driving home later that evening that she realized that Josh hadn't had an orgasm himself. Disturbed, she pulled off the road to think it through, turning into the parking lot of a Stop-n-Shop on Connecticut Avenue. Her first thought was that he hadn't had time, because after all, the phone had started ringing and interrupted them. Except there had surely been time for...something, and there hadn't been a wet spot on the front of Josh's pants, because she'd looked him over as she often did before he had to meet with, seduce, or intimidate somebody, and he'd looked fine. His pants hadn't even been unzipped. In fact...and she tightened her gloved hands on the steering wheel, straining to remember...she was pretty sure he hadn't even been hard.
Impossible, she thought uncertainly, and replayed the scene in her mind: Josh kneeing his way to the desk, grabbing for the phone, standing up, turning around. She hadn't really gotten a good look at him until he turned around, and by then he'd been on the phone for at least a minute. A confrontational phone call with a Senate aide could probably dispatch your hard-on in a hurry. Still, it was unsettling.
She went home, and by the time she'd made her tea and changed into her flannel pajamas, she could almost have convinced herself that it hadn't happened. Except she deliberately hadn't changed her underwear, and when she slid her fingers down her belly, she found the fabric had dried stiff and rough to the touch. Later, lying in bed in the dark, she moved her fingers more deliberately, closing her eyes and rubbing herself through her underwear, wondering if Josh had gotten himself off later, if he'd had to stop somewhere—some men's room, his car, his office—to jerk off. Maybe he was home right now and in bed, gasping up at the ceiling and thinking of her.
That is, if he'd gotten off at all.
When she next saw Josh, it was the next morning, and he was in his office already, wearing the same suit as yesterday and looking, as he so often did, simultaneously rumpled and triumphant. He sat on her desk, dress shoes dangling over where she'd dropped her handbag, and told her a long story in which he had an improbably heroic role, and when he was finished he hopped off her desk and idly circled the bullpen twice, looking like a lost dog, before concluding he needed a bagel and wandering off in the direction of the commissary. Things had apparently gone back to normal.
When nothing else happened that week, or that month, she decided whatever had happened between them was just a weird thing, some abnormal facet of Josh-psychology that she might never fully understand. She and Josh had had several weird things over the years, though none quite this weird: fights about nothing, longing looks that had suddenly tipped over into pettiness and whining, periods of wacky sentimentality where they bought each other strange, utterly inappropriate gifts that attempted to articulate feelings that neither of them wanted to look at too closely but could somehow be expressed through stuffed animals and coffee mugs with stupid slogans on them. This, okay, was a whole new category of weird, but just as Josh had never attempted to buy her jewelry again (she still remembered how he had flushed and fled in embarrassment when she looked up from the gold bracelet he had given her for Christmas, apparently only then figuring out that that was too much, having only learned the previous year that a bottle of Chardonnay and a White House key ring was too little, even though, to be fair, she liked Chardonnay a lot) he would probably never give her an orgasm again.
But she was wrong about that. Just when the whole thing had nearly taken on a hallucinatory quality, like the time Josh had showed up at her apartment drunk and yelled at her roommate's cats, it happened again. This time, the cause—if you could call it that—was clearer: he'd lost two important votes in the House and had his status as a power broker questioned on "Meet the Press." Josh's response to this, like Josh's response to everything, was to half-kill himself through overwork. To be fair, this strategy had some success: Josh had shouted and cajoled and bargained until he had architected a strategy for passing a bill which would make 150,000 more American families eligible for child care. Even Leo had been impressed, but the cumulative effort had left Josh hollow-eyed and wandering the West Wing like a ghost who couldn't move on, let alone go home to his apartment. Donna thought that he was subconsciously waiting for someone more powerful than him to tell him to go home, but Josh was the third most powerful person in the White House, and the President was in New Hampshire and Leo's "Theory of Josh" seemed to involve letting him wear himself out like an overtired child until he fell asleep on Toby's sofa. So all that was left was to make sure he kept eating and didn't bang into anything that would leave bruises, so she went down to the commissary and brought Josh a chocolate-chip muffin and a large mug of tea, and when she brought it to his desk, he looked up at her with pathetic gratitude. "Donna."
"That's my name," she said. "Don't wear it out."
"Shut the door, will you? I'd do it myself if I could move. I think somebody was beating me with a two-by-four while I was sleeping."
"Probable as that explanation is," she replied, moving first to lock one of Josh's doors, and then the other, "I should probably point out that you actually haven't been sleeping. Not for, oh, about four weeks now."
"Yeah, I guess that would explain it." Josh brightened a little. "Hey, do you think I've evolved? Maybe I've moved beyond the need for sleep. Maybe I'm the first real product of my environment, sort of like the spacebaby in 2001—"
"Actually, you're more like the start of that movie," she said, turning back to him. "All you need is a bone to throw. Take a shower, Josh—"
"I could be the first, fully evolved political animal. Homo politicus. Beyond sleep! Beyond food! Beyond—" and then Josh stopped, and tilted his head up to look at her consideringly. "Or maybe not," he amended, and reached for her.
Again Josh put his hands on her hips, except this time he pulled her toward him, behind the desk. He steered her until her ass was nearly over his center drawer, shoving papers and the telephone and everything else out of the way until his central blotter was mostly free, and then he pulled himself close in his wheeled desk chair.
And she let him. Even as it was happening, she was amazed that she was letting herself enjoy it—letting herself enjoy him—without worrying or asking a million unanswerable questions. She let him push her against the desk, let him push her skirt up, let him push her thighs apart. She braced herself with her backflung arms and let him put his mouth between her legs. The angle was better this time, and when Josh groaned openly against the crotch of her panties, the vibration made her gasp. Josh seemed to take that as his signal to go to town, and there was really something to be said for having someone with Josh's work ethic performing oral sex on you. He went for it heroically, with absolute commitment, until she was barely able to keep herself from flopping backwards onto the desk, her muscles were so weak. She came, and came again, and then with Josh practically eating her underwear right off her, she came again, gasping as silently as she could. Again, Josh went suddenly still between her legs, just holding on, his cheek pressed to her pubic bone. Her breath was so loud in her own ears, her heart pounding so fast, that it took her a minute to hear that Josh's breathing sounded even more ragged and desperate.
"Josh," she managed, pushing against his shoulder. "Are you all—" and suddenly the desk chair was lurching backward, and Josh was stumbling to his feet, face flushed and breathing hard. He took a couple of steps to the nearest wall, braced his arm against it, and let his head hang down as he inhaled sharply, again and again—and now Donna could see that Josh was hard, the outline of his erection clearly visible beneath his gray gabardine pants. But he seemed to be trying to ignore it.
"Josh," she repeated, pushing herself up. Josh jerked at the sound of her voice and switched hands, turning away from her. She straightened up, smoothing her skirt down over her thighs, and stared at the muscles of Josh's back. She could hear him take another deep breath, apparently trying to get himself under control. She wanted to tell him that it would be okay to—well, to let go, to do whatever he needed. It seemed wrong to her that she should be the only one to get pleasure out of this encounter—except of course this masochism was totally Josh. He was, after all, a lawyer, and while he was no fan of former president Bill Clinton (Josh was of the "Slick Willie" school of thought where Clinton was concerned), he was clearly an appreciator of Clinton's legal hair splittings on the subject of sex. "Did you ever kiss her?" No. "Was there ever oral-genital contact?" Strictly speaking...no.
"Josh," she said again, and this time he answered: "Donna, I could use a minute, okay?"
"Okay," she said, unsteady on her feet as she moved toward the door. She turned the key, unlocking it, and paused for a moment with her hand on the knob. "Josh," she said, not turning back to look at him, "you need to go home now."
"Yeah." Josh's voice sounded hoarse. "Okay."
It happened a couple more times, just enough to become the usual weirdness between them, before the thing with the mole. She knew right then that she'd been working for the White House too long, because when the guy first called about the mole, she was sure that he meant a Russian spy or something, and she was vaguely shocked that he was discussing it on an open line. But the mole turned out to be just a mole, a little brown dot that had been quietly growing somewhere on Josh's back. The doctor had called and left a message for Josh saying that he wanted to do a biopsy, just a routine thing, and it wasn't until Josh had gone pale under his freckled skin that she remembered that Josh's father had died from cancer.
"I'm sure everything's fine, Josh," she said, standing there stupidly, holding the phone memo out to him. She was hoping he would yell at her, or look impatient, or be bored with it, but instead he just pulled the white slip of paper from her fingertips and said, quietly, "Yeah. Probably," before drifting into his office and closing his door.
Josh went for the biopsy, and it was fine, which she knew because the doctor sent the results to the office in a large manila envelope. Josh pulled them out, glanced at them, and dropped them into the trash basket beside her desk, which was essentially an invitation to her to review them. Gingerly, she fished the pages out: the biopsy was negative, but the doctor's tone was cautious; this was apparently something Josh should keep a close eye on, considering his family history of—
She wasn't surprised when Josh reached for her, later that night. She was turned on the moment his hands touched her hips, and by the time her back bumped the wall beside the closet, she was breathing hard. "Donna," Josh said urgently, and she closed her eyes and waited for him to start them doing this strange thing they did together, but he surprised her by cupping her face in his hands and kissing her deeply, almost desperately. It was the first real kiss he'd ever given her, and it shot their plausible deniability straight to hell ("Did you ever kiss her?" "I—yes. Yes. God, yes,") but she couldn't stop herself from wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him back. His arms slid around her, tightened, lifted her up off the ground, almost out of her shoes, one strong arm sliding under her ass. His mouth was soft and wet and everywhere, giving her deep, openmouthed kisses, mouth slicking over her chin.
She realized that her legs were open, and that she was rubbing against him, and she suddenly twisted her face away. "Josh," she said breathlessly, "we should stop. You shouldn't—"
Josh's voice was like ground glass. "My life is passing before my eyes, Donna, and I'm not really alive, not really—" and when she smothered those terrible words against his lips, he opened his mouth, like he wanted to drown in her kisses. They kissed for a long time— maybe actually for too long, because he wasn't making any further moves, and so she tilted her hips suggestively against his crotch until his erection nudged against her. He groaned into her mouth, and so she did it again. His arm tightened around her waist. They talked over each other for a moment: "Donna."—-"It's okay."—"I can't"—"It's okay, Josh, Jesus!"—and then Josh was shoving her hard against the wall, using it to hold some of her weight while he reached down and unzipped himself. Helplessly, she cupped the back of his neck and tugged his face forward for another hot, sloppy kiss. The head of his cock slid along the inside of her thigh, toward the crotch of her panties, and Josh said, sounding nearly panicked, "God, wait, what about—"
"Got it covered," she said quickly, tightening her knees around his hips, because God knew that if Josh put her down and went to get condoms, he would probably trip over his desk chair and crack his skull open, or else the phone would ring, or possibly the United States would decide to invade somewhere. Besides, she didn't think she could stand to have even one more barrier between them. "It's okay, I promise."
Josh hesitated for what seemed like forever before giving in with a groan, and she shuddered as his finger slid into the leg hole of her panties. Josh had always been careful to keep the thin scrap of fabric between them, never crossing whatever bizarre ethical line he'd drawn in his head. Now, though, his fingers were brushing the sensitive crease of her thigh, hooking under the crotch and tugging the fabric out of the way. And then his cock was sliding through the hole, and she was repositioning herself over him, bearing down on him, and he slid up into her. She gasped softly, and Josh pressed his face against her neck and groaned against her throat. Her arms were tightly wrapped around his neck, and his arms were holding her up as he thrust up into her gently but steadily. She flexed around the hard length of him once, twice, and came with a shudder that rolled up the length of her spine. "I love you," Josh blurted, still moving steadily within her. "I—Donna, I—" and she tilted his face up to hers and kissed him fervently as she shuddered through a second orgasm.
A light sweat had broken across her forehead, and it occurred to her that the muscles of Josh's arms and legs must be burning with the effort of holding her up. She gave him a deep, purposeful kiss and twisted her hips, hoping to trigger his orgasm, but while he gasped and thrust up harder, he didn't come. And didn't come. And didn't—
"It's okay." She stroked her fingers through his sweaty hair. "It's okay. Let go—" and when he came it was like something was breaking inside of him. He went still, tightening his arms around her and groaning softly like he was in pain. A moment later he rolled, with her still in his arms, until his back was against the wall, and then he let his legs slowly collapse underneath him, controlling their descent to the floor.
She ended up sitting between his legs, her skirt up around her waist, legs sprawled in the most undignified manner. Josh was sweaty, rumpled, and stunned-looking, pants open and his erection softening, though he was still holding her close to his chest.
"Well," she said, knowing that any attempts at normality would have to come from her. "Okay. What's next?"
His answer surprised her. "I can't date you," Josh said, blinking rapidly, the way he did when he was trying to think through some complicated problem, like needing 55 votes and only having 47 and knowing that three out of the four people who might be persuaded to switch sides already kind of hated you. "I mean, I looked into it, and the 'dating colleagues' thing is already pretty iffy, but dating subordinates is like—" and here Josh made a nyyah, nyyah, nyaah noise that was right out of a Three Stooges movie. "I mean, you had to see Oliver's face—"
Wait, whoa. "You consulted White House counsel about whether you could date me?"
Josh looked momentarily defensive. "I'm a lawyer. I consulted a lawyer. I don't do anything without consulting a lawyer, Donna—" She smacked him hard on the shoulder and he jerked back onto message. "Anyway, I can't."
"It's okay," she said, sighing, because it was. "Seriously. Don't worry about it—"
"We could get married, though," Josh said. She stared at him, but he went on, apparently oblivious to the brain aneurism she was having. "I mean that's the wacky loophole here. We could get married and I could still hire you, the way Senator Bracknell hired his wife as his chief aide, and Justice Peterson's got her husband clerking for her. That kind of stuff is a big hit with the family values crowd, which kind of makes me sick, actually, but hey, bonus points for driving them nuts. The big thing is that we'd have to take each other pretty much sight unseen—though I don't know what a couple of dates where I take you to see bad eighties bands is going to tell you that four years of working here hasn't. I mean, okay, you haven't seen me naked and there's a good chance you might run away screaming, but four more years aren't going to do anything to help that. You know, I used to be in shape. I rowed crew. For like a minute. And I used to jog and stuff. I mean, look: I know I'm an asshole, and neurotic, and, you know, basically tactless, but tickets to Depeche Mode aren't going to help that, right?" Maybe then he saw the look on her face, because he frowned and said quickly: "They wouldn't, right? Because they're playing at the Lisner auditorium at G.W.—"
"Josh," she said, flustered. "Can we drop Depeche Mode for the moment?"
"We can drop them forever. They never had any good songs."
"Your list, those problems, that stuff is all about you," she said slowly.
"Okay, fine, you're right, I'm a narcissist. Totally self-centered—-"
"I mean," she said, looking straight him and speaking deliberately, like maybe it would help if he was reading lips, "that all the problems you're listing are about you. Don't you have any reservations about me?"
Josh frowned at her, confused. "About you? Why would— I mean, there isn't anything wrong with you," and Donna Moss just stared at him for a long moment before leaning back, hands on the thick carpet, and laughing.