Author's Note: More Josh/Donna. (Veredus, shut up!)
Thanks to Astolat and Terri
and Merry for help and encouragement, and thanks to Yahtzee for letting me steal her law professor.
After all, after everything between them, it finally happened because her roommate went to knitting camp.
Donna herself thought that knitting camp sounded like a stupid idea, but Sandy took it seriously, and Donna couldn't really say anything since she'd been the grateful recipient of any number of hats and scarves and really fantastic angora sweaters. The most famous knitting camp in the world was apparently in Wisconsin somewhere, but Sandy idolized a master-knitter in Sedona, and after Donna had seen pictures of her work (sexy, delicate things nothing like the lumpy scarf Donna had made in needle-clicking solidarity with her roommate) she could understand why.
So Sandy had departed for Sedona, and Donna hadn't thought any more about it until the night Josh kept her till nearly midnight trying to scuttle a bill reducing gun liability. Josh paced his office for hours, throwing out increasingly wild strategies for dislodging this Senator or that, until—as was his way— he abruptly ran out of energy and collapsed into his chair.
"Okay, this is futile, forget it," Josh said, and scrubbed at his already unruly hair. "You know, I had this law professor who used to say that we should never forget the lesson of Vietnam, which was: sometimes you just have to declare victory and go home. So, in good American style, which is to say based on absolutely nothing, I am declaring victory. Get your coat."
"I don't have to hum, 'We are the Champions' or anything, right?" Donna asked suspiciously.
"Not unless you want to. Technically, there's no Queen in your job description," Josh said, and grabbed his own coat off the rack. "Only Abba."
So Josh had driven her home, and it was only once he was double-parked in front of her apartment that she remembered that Sandy was away, learning how to knit sexy garments in Sedona. She bit her lip.
"You know," Josh said, his mouth twisted with irony, "nights like this, I go home and lie in bed and stare at the ceiling and think about everything I should have done differently, and I don't get any sleep, and then I'm wrecked for the rest of the week. I would have been better off camping on Toby's sofa. Better yet," he added, frowning, "I should be camping on my own sofa—where's my sofa? Toby, Leo, C.J.—was I absent the day they gave out sofas? Was there like a voucher or something, and I missed it?"
"I think they were worried you might never go home."
"That's not a bad idea, " Josh mused, letting his head fall back against the headrest. "All I really need is a mailing address so I can have a bank account and register to vote—"
"Right, and this is why they didn't give you a sofa," Donna said, and reached for the door handle of Josh's Lexus. And then something happened—some kind of neural misfire, two wires crossed in her brain—and she heard herself saying, "Do you want to come up?"
Josh's head jerked up off the headrest. "What? You want me to—?"
She stared at him across the car, finding her own shock mirrored on his face. She scrambled to find the words to walk this back: No, no, never mind. You're tired. I'm tired. Really, you should go home. I was just— "Sure, why not?" she said, and her voice sounded relaxed and casual to her own ears. Breezy, even—since when was she breezy? "Look, there's a space," she added, and pointed to a parking place four cars down. "It's like a D.C. miracle. Call Frank Capra."
She stared out the window, waiting to see what Josh would do. For a long moment, he did nothing—he had gone still beside her, the car idling in park—and then she felt rather than saw his hand grip the gearshift between them. The car eased forward.
"Okay," Josh murmured. "Sure. Why not?" and he pulled up, put his arm over the seat back, and began to parallel park.
Donna wasn't sure what was more frightening: the thought that something might actually happen between them, or the fact that probably nothing would. She could still walk this back if she had to: take him upstairs, fix him a drink, talk about work. She could be warm, supportive, friendly, and funny—totally normal, in other words—except she didn't really want to be, damn it all.
Beside her, Josh was pulling his key out of the ignition, sending off a soft chime of bells. He was trying to school his expression into something normal, but he had no poker face at all, and the effort he was making was visible. In a second, she knew, he was going to ask her if she was sure about this. She wasn't sure at all, so she got out of the car before he could ask.
She heard the soft slam of the car door and hurried toward her building, fumbling in her parka pocket for her keys. It was cold out, but she hardly felt it. Sandy was at knitting camp. Josh was behind her, and he was coming upstairs.
She unlocked her front door and held it open for him. There wasn't enough space for both of them in the vestibule, so she started up the carpeted stairs to her second floor apartment. Her apartment door was at the top of the staircase, a gold letter "B" nailed to it, and as she slid the key in the lock she had a horrifying sense of deja vu. This was just like every other date of her adult life. Josh was just like every other guy she'd ever brought home. Feeling suddenly sick, she turned to call it off—
—but it was just Josh standing there, looking totally familiar, and he was nothing like any other guy she'd dated, because he wasn't eager, or smug, or even trying to be charming. Instead, he was fidgeting nervously, looking more afraid than she was.
Feeling suddenly courageous, she pushed open the door and walked into her apartment. Instantly, Sandy's cats were mewling round her ankles. She ignored them, knowing from long experience that they'd go away in a minute, which they did.
"Come on in," she said, and took off her coat. "Make yourself at home."
"Home?" Josh followed her in, keeping his coat on, eyes taking in the place. "Yeah, maybe. If I were really, really gay," and yes, okay, he had a point. Sandy had done most of the decorating, and Josh, in his camelhair overcoat and shiny black shoes, looked totally alien against the Laura Ashley prints, the paisley loveseat, the pastel impressionist paintings. And Josh wasn't a big guy, but he seemed too big for their kitchenette, with its tiny two-person bistro table. Donna looked from the pair of delicate wrought iron chairs to Josh and thought that here was a French farce waiting to happen.
"Do you want cocoa?" she asked.
Josh had evidently made the same call about the bistro chairs, and chose to lean against the kitchen's doorjamb instead. "Uh, sure," he said, sounding anything but. "Okay."
She flashed him a reassuring smile and filled the kettle. She wasn't sure what happened next, so she lingered over the parts of this that she did understand: pulling two large mugs down, spooning hot chocolate into them, taking a small tub of whipped cream out of the fridge. She might even have marshmallows somewhere—
"How's your roommate doing?" Josh asked, and oh lord, he thought he was making small talk. "What's her name—Sandy? Sheila?"
"Sandy. She's fine," Donna replied, carefully setting the spoon down on a napkin. "She's in Sedona. Knitting camp."
She saw right away that Josh, master of the gist, had gotten the import of what she was saying—Donna has invited me upstairs, and her roommate's away—but as she had hoped, he ducked into the shiny golden refuge of a comic opening.
"Knitting camp?" Josh repeated incredulously. "They have camps for that? Not that it's a bad idea," he amended. "I mean, some people should be in camps, all civil liberties aside. Knitters. Telemarketers. People who talk during movies."
"Mimes," Donna suggested, nodding sagely. "Marching bands. Most of the House Budgeting Committee."
"Women who own small dogs."
"Talk show hosts. Vacuum cleaner salesmen."
"Uh, Josh—Nixon impersonators? Not so much of a thing anymore."
"And you've been pestered by vacuum cleaner salesmen recently? What about Rich Little?" Josh asked. "Can't I put Rich Little in a camp all by himself?"
"Sure. But he's kind of harmless now: I say live and let live."
"I have a long memory," Josh said darkly.
Donna laughed as the kettle whistled. She poured hot water into the mugs, stirred them, and carefully put a dollop of whipped cream on top of each one. When she turned, holding a mug in each hand, she found him standing beside her—and God, Josh was much too big for her kitchenette, and maybe even for her life.
"What are we doing here, Donna?" Josh asked softly, and she understood suddenly that this was how it happened, how every stupid sex scandal in the world had happened. Somehow you ended up alone with your boss at one in the morning in a place with a bed and some privacy, and all your innocent pretexts just melted away to nothing.
Steadily, she turned and put the two mugs down on the tiny round top of the bistro table. "We're having cocoa."
"Yeah." Josh looked tense, and a muscle twitched in his cheek. "I don't think I should have any cocoa."
She loved him for saying that, which just made everything harder. "What, you don't like cocoa?"
Josh sounded strangled. "I love cocoa," he said, and suddenly the air between them crackled and Donna couldn't breathe. "It's just—I mean, I'm just afraid that—God, if I start with the cocoa, Donna, I'm just not sure I can stop."
There was a joke there—"Yeah, cocoa's a gateway; soon you'll be doing eggnog two, three times a day"—but she couldn't make herself make it. And maybe this was how sex scandals happened, but they happened for a reason, because people felt like this, hot and desperate like this, and you just couldn't go on like this, day after day, wanting so much and not getting anything.
Taking a deep breath, Donna raised her hands and curled them around the lapels of Josh's overcoat. "So don't stop," she said.
Josh went blank and statue-still, and suddenly Donna was worried that she'd misread their entire situation. Did Josh need encouragement or an exit strategy? God forbid, had he really been talking about cocoa? She was still gripping Josh's coat, and she relaxed her hands and smoothed down the soft wool, preparing to retreat, crack a joke, smile—
—and then Josh leaned in, closed his eyes, and kissed her, and it wasn't the best kiss of her life (being tentative and kind of awkward) but in a way it was, because it meant that she wasn't alone in this. Josh was in it, too, and if this was stupid—(and okay, yes, this was almost certainly stupid)— then at least they were being stupid together. She touched his face and kissed him back, her mouth opening under his—and he moaned and finally put his hands on her, palms sliding greedily over her body. And suddenly they were on third base, and Josh's hand was sliding between her legs. She gasped into his mouth as he drew his fingers along her inseam, turning her on, gently rubbing her with his thumb. This, she knew, was a commitment—Josh had deliberately crossed the line and declared carnal intentions—and she moved her own hand to the front of Josh's twill trousers. He was hard, and he shivered violently when she began to stroke him through the fabric, exploring him, trying to learn what he liked.
Josh's mouth drifted across her forehead. "Donna... Is this—?"
She touched her lips to his and whispered, "Shh," against his mouth. "Yes."
She had finally gotten his coat and suit jacket off, his belt buckle undone, and his dress shirt mostly unbuttoned, when he jerked away from her, eyebrows raised. "What are you, hiding from somebody?" Josh asked, and it took her a moment to understand that he was talking about her bedroom decor, which—okay, was maybe just a little bit over-coordinated, what with the matching bedspread and the dust ruffle and the shams. And the curtains.
Still, it felt oddly comfortable to have him mocking her: a little bit of familiarity in an otherwise bizarre situation. "It was a kit, okay? It all came as a set."
"Yeah, you think?" Josh did a semicircular turn around the room. "Either that, or it's really a staggering coincidence. You know, if you ever were to wear a matching dress like the Von Trapp children—"
"Oh Jesus," she said. "Please don't go there."
"—I might never find you again. You'd just disappear in here—poof. I mean, we should send this stuff to the army; it's better than camouflage—"
"Right, like you decorated your own apartment. You hired a designer to do it."
"Not even: I hired somebody to hire a designer to do it. I'm like two-steps removed from the place, maybe more. I have major plausible deniability regarding my own decor, which, frankly," Josh admitted, "I might not even be able to identify in a lineup." He closed his eyes and seemed to think hard. "Like I have absolutely no idea what color my towels are," he said, and then he opened his eyes and recoiled: "Man, you really liked this paisley, didn't you?"
"Shut up," Donna said, and took off her sweater, and that seemed to take Josh's mind off the paisley. His face changed, and he moved toward her helplessly, hands reaching out—before suddenly getting a hold of himself. She found herself transfixed by his rapidly shifting expressions—lust, guilt, determined self-control, pleading desperation, right back around to lust—and wondered how he'd ever gotten so far in politics with a wide-open face like that. She curled her hands around his wrists and pulled his hands to her chest. Josh closed his eyes, face slack with gratification, and began feeling her up, stroking and caressing her breasts, then fumbling awkwardly for her bra hook so that he could put his mouth on her. She gasped at the first touch of his tongue, and suddenly everything went fast and desperate: a series of flashes. Josh pulled her down onto the bed with him, pushed her back, got on top of her. He pulled her pants down and off her legs, then licked a stripe up her inner thigh, stopping to kiss her through her underwear before moving up her body again. He put his soft, wet mouth on her breasts, tongue pushing against her nipple, and she panted, her hips lifting. His hand slid back between her legs, and this time she moved against him, rubbing her clit hard against his hand as he moaned, his mouth full. She squeezed her eyes shut, grinding down, almost there—Jesus!—
She had her first orgasm with him like that, head thrown back and gasping breathlessly, and she didn't think he'd noticed until she felt him lift his head from her breast. He was breathing hard, too. "Donna," Josh whispered, and he was staring down at her and looking awed. "God," and then he was pulling her underwear down and fumbling clumsily to pull his erection out of his pants. She smiled and spread her thighs to encourage him, but when he glanced up, he seemed to totally forget what he was doing and just gaped at her. Impatiently, she sat up, shoved his pants down his hips with both hands, and grabbed him by the cock, which was purple-flushed against his belly. Josh inhaled sharply and closed his eyes tight when she tugged him forward, but he dropped obediently on top of her when she lay back again, settling between her spread legs and pushing up into her.
She'd thought a lot about sex with Josh, and had pictured a million different scenarios: hard and fast, sure and slow, full of animal passion or human tenderness. She'd even pictured it awkward and clumsy, where they'd have to crack jokes and make sorry excuses for themselves—"Sorry, yeah, that was my elbow," "You didn't need that tooth, did you?"—and thought that that might be okay, too. What she hadn't pictured was feeling overwhelmed like this, having him sink into her and be warm and shuddering in her arms. She crossed her ankles over the backs of his thighs, wrapped her arms around his shoulders, and held him tight, tight, tight. He was murmuring her name against her neck, over and over, and so she whispered his name to him, and if it came out sounding a little desperate, she didn't care, because he was suddenly hugging her so close he was nearly crushing her. He was still hard inside her, and she flexed around him and said, even more desperately, "Josh," and then he was pulling back and tilting her hips up. Her bed, it turned out, squeaked like an army of mice, but she didn't care about that either, because he made her come, and come again, before he shuddered and came himself, sweat-slick and gasping, inside of her.
"Okay," she said, when she could finally speak again. "That was nothing at all like I expected."
Josh didn't answer; he was asleep.
Later, when they'd rolled into a more comfortable position, and Donna was drowsing contently against Josh's bare shoulder, he suddenly said, as if they'd been talking for hours, "I mean, was there any reason for today?—as opposed to yesterday, or two years ago, or two months from now? Why now?"
"Well, knitting camp." Donna snuggled in closer to him. "But mostly—Vietnam."
"Okay, yeah," Josh said softly, tightening his arm around her. "That makes sense," and a little while later she heard him singing "We are the Champions," under his breath.