She called me on it. I can't believe she called me on it. In four years of Donna and I's dangerous flirtation, my occasional blatant attacks on her dates and the moments that overstepped the assistant/boss boundaries she had never called me on it, until tonight.
I can't believe I was so stupid to say it in the first place. I was trying to be so nice, so gentlemanly and not show my sheer joy at the situation. It just came out… "This isn't what it looks like."
The truth is, it wasn't, and yet it was. It wasn't what it looked liked because the President really had come into my office; he had seen me end a phone call in my effort to unite Arabs and Jews, and he had placed a request to re-work our already worked budget on the eve of a national holiday. If I were going to pull these things off I would most definitely need Donna. It wasn't what it looked like because when Leo, and not to mention the President, ask me to do the impossible, I want to be the guy they ask over and over again; I want to be able to get it done, and I rarely get anything done without it wasn't like I had made up something to keep herhere away from that smarmy Jack Reese and his naval digs.
And that is what I had meant when I said: "This isn't what it looks like." I meant I hadn't made up work.
Then again, it was a little like what it looked like. Am I even making sense? No, I am not and that is what I would have told the President if I wasn't so hell-bent on finding a way to keep Donna at my side. HE hadn't made any sense. The idea to change the budget, to decrease the infant mortality rate by eliminating, what was it, nutrition? The idea was ridiculous. I knew it would come to nothing especially when the OEOB staff would conveniently not hear their pagers when they went off this time of night, this night.
The President had gone crazy, or at least overzealous, and I jumped right on his bandwagon in a sad attempt to…misdirect my assistant's plans.
She had been so supportive, I knew she was almost out the door, her coat was on andher bag was packed but she turned. She came back, she de-coated, and she said, "It's ok."
That is when I had to go and say it. I am such and idiot! Still, she never wavered and simply said again, "It's ok. Where do we start?" Man, I love this woman!
So some time went by and she worked away, never failing to amaze me. But it must have been during this time that she carefully replayed the moment in her head. She must have been searching for why she stayed. She must have been thinking, "Why am I hear? Why did I give up the Inn, give up Jack, give up Christmas for this?"
Then she heard it, she heard the sentence and really grasped the meaning for herself. Donna's no idiot, she may take a while to catch on but she's no idiot. She got it and she came to me to give me a chance to show her why she gave all that stuff up. She is so brave. She practically jumped up the next time I passed her, she followed me and wouldn't back down. "What did you mean?" She said it, just said it not by mistake but as a planned conversation, she wanted to talk about it. Whoa is me.
I couldn't do it. I laughed her off. I am coward. I saw how her face fell as I lied: "It was nothing, just something I said." She had looked down briefly, she might have thought I didn't notice but I did. She looked down and she lost that eagerness, that glow.
And then I did what I always do to Donna. I offered her a consolation prize. "No, Donna, tonight is not the night where I will finally grow some balls and tell you how I feel, tonight is not the night where we will finally be together, screw the outside world and the media scandal and the age difference etc. and let's be together!" NOPE. Instead it was "C.J. and staff are making snow men and we can do that and blah blah blah something else lame that I can say to keep my head above water, to keep treading when all I really want to do is dive in and take you!"
I am so awful. I am so ashamed. No wonder she didn't come to say goodnight. Leo couldn't have known that she wouldn't say goodbye to me. When I said "I've got Donna with me" he didn't realize the implications of either my tone or the wording that I'd chose. He just said it, matter of fact like "Oh, I hooked her up with a helicopter ain't I a big hero, la tee da!" (Ok so Leo would never say that but still).
"She's gone?" That is all I could muster. She was gone and with Reese and I was here alone and it was all my fault. She had given me the moment. She had given me the chance but I blew it, and she couldn't even face me to say goodbye.
I now sit in my office, Toby and his Dad long gone, CJ's snowman fest way over, the Whiffenpoofs or whoever they weresilenced, and Leo and I wrapped up the Bethlehem crisis in true Christmas Miracle form about an hour ago.
But she is still gone. I still can't believe she called me on it. I have so often wished for her to give me that opening, to recognize that my hand on the small of her back and my lean into her hugs aren't just coincidence. I guess she has always known that and tonight, maybe in hopes of a Chirtmas Miracle for us, she was giving methe chance to say it aloud. Tonight she called me on it and I blew it hard. I won't be getting another opportunity like that for some time.