Josh heard the door close and his teeth ground together, "Toby... I said I'd call, but Donna-"
His jaw went slack as the sound of her voice registered in his brain. "Donna." It took him a long moment before he could actually lift his chin and look at her. And when he did, it nearly broke his heart. Tears, unshed and clinging to her lashes, glistened in the horrible lighting of his office.
He found himself standing before he'd even made a conscious effort. He stood and reached out a hand to her. She didn't move and so he did, another step closer, putting them less than a arm's length apart. "You came back."
Inside, he winced at the moronic turn of a phrase, feeling totally impotent to do anything right, so instead of trying to fix her... he did what he could to fix the empty hole inside his own chest. He touched his knuckles to her cheek, stroking the soft creamy skin in one long tender touch. When she didn't pull away he swiped a finger over one independent tear that had decided to make a lonely trek.
"I came back, Josh, because-"
"Donna, I-." He closed his eyes on her expression, knowing that hurt and anger he'd see. "You can hate me all you want, Donna.. I just couldn't stand the thought of him snowing you about the photos. He brought them here... here, Donna, into the White House! The one place where I thought I could keep you safe, and-"
He squeezed his eyes tighter, willing her to go away until he could deal with the guilt.
"Josh." There wasn't a place on this earth he could go to escape the insistent tone of her voice. "Look at me."
Against his better judgement, he did what she said. Slowly opening his eyes and watched while she swam into focus. "Donna, I'm s-"
"Don't say you're sorry, Josh. I know you mean it, but I don't need to hear it. Not today, not ever." She looked as though she was waiting for him to say something, but there was nothing on his mind that he wanted to say, nothing that he knew of that wouldn't get him in trouble. "I suppose you're wondering why I left with him."
He waited, curiosity gnawing on his nerve endings.
She stepped back and bumped into the side of his desk, holding herself there as if the desk was keeping her upright. "I had to hear it from him... what I really mean is that I had to see it in his eyes, Josh."
"No. I had to see that it was over."
"Over." His middle was a jumble of emotions, roiling around and around inside.
She continued on. "It's something I've known since I woke up in Germany, with you in a wrinkled suit, looking as though you'd lost something. I knew, with absolute certainty, that everything was going to be alright. You were there. You would fix it." "I think you're giving me too much credit..."
"Just like you did with my diary, I knew you'd be there and make it right."
For a moment all he could see was a pile of bloody bandages on the floor at his feet. "I let you go, Donna... I let you go to get you off my back.." The words sounded bitter to his ears. I didn't have to send you, I should have known."
"No," he shook his head, "I need to say it. I'm the man when it comes to Domestic Policy, Donna, but when it comes to the Middle East, it's all bluster. Sure, I read the reports, hell, we all do, but the Middle East... I know what it says on paper, Donna, but in reality, that measures up to absolutely nothing. I didn't know any 'real' about where I sent you... I didn't know who these people were... God, Donna-"
"I know who they are. I know them, thanks to Colin. I was able to really 'talk' to people. To find out what they think, what they want for their children... and you know, Josh, I'm glad you sent me."
He looked for any sign of pain in her eyes, looked for any reason to plant a fist right in the middle of Colin's face.
She looked straight into his eyes and he didn't flinch. He left himself open... waiting for her to give him a clue. It gave her a moment of pause. He didn't used to be like that. He didn't wait for her... for anyone.
Either you were able to keep up, or he left you behind.
It was then that Donna realized something... she wasn't chasing after him any more and he wasn't blinding forging ahead. Instead, they were finally on even footing... finally able to look each other in the eye and see the other for who they were.
She breathed him in. The clean scent of his shampoo, the spicy scent of his cologne, the fear that was a mere shadow of her own. Donna fought for control of her heart and finally realized it was a lost cause, so she did the only thing she could do.
She gave up fighting.
He was going under. Head over heels underwater and it didn't make a damn bit of difference. It was the feel of her lips on his, the way her fingers slid through the hair at the nape of his neck... the way she took every reservation he had and shattered them into a million pieces.
Josh held onto her, his arms cuddling her with a mix of protective instinct and desperation. "Donna... Donna..." he barely heard the sound of his own voice whispering against her lips as he clung to her in the safe haven of his office.
"Josh?" The door swung open and bounced off the wall with shuddering force. "Did you call Donnelly – I'll come back later"
Toby reached for the door knob and it took a few swipes of his fingers before he managed to swing it closed. Just before the door latched tight Josh thought he heard a little chuckle and a few choice words. "It's about damn time."