Author's Note:

This really should have been written/posted in time for January 24th, but I was too busy writing angst. Better a day late, I hope, than not at all. And I certainly don't want to wait another year. The funniest thing (to me) is that this wasn't meant to be a Josh|Donna and Helen|Matt story .. but that's where it went and I guess that's that.

Kathy Chamberlin and Debby Hoffman of New Hampshire created National Compliment Day in 1998, the internet tells me.


Josh's Apartment
Washington, DC
January 24th, 2007
6.30AM

"It's that day again," Donna called out from the bedroom.

"What day?" Josh asked as he popped his head round the bathroom door.

"Margaret's equivalent of the big block of cheese day."

"She sent the email?"

"She did."

"And she couldn't have sent this last night?" he groaned. "She had to wait till this morning?"

"Maybe she forgot we both have staffs to think of now."

"Margaret forgets nothing. It's a test!"

"She doesn't even live in the country anymore, how is it a test?"

Josh snorted.

"Her minions are entrenched in every part of the Capitol. She's sitting in the Bahamas with a Piña Colada in one hand and her phone in the other, and people are texting her our every move."

"A piña colada?"

"You think I'm kidding?"

"About the piña colada? I hope so!"

"Okay, so maybe not a piña colada, but don't you think six hundred thousand people received this email."

"I think that may be an exaggeration, Josh."

"You don't remember the raisin muffin calorie count debacle?"

"No .."

"Really?"

"Really. But do you know what I am sure of?"

"What?"

"That we need to get our ideas together before we get to the office."

"Or we could just wing it and compare notes tonight?" Josh said hopefully.

"Josh! This is a new administration. They'll be dazzled if we institute this initiative. Who needs to know it came from Margaret?" She swung her legs out of bed. "Come on, a five minute brainstorm!"

Josh rolled his eyes and went back into the bathroom as she started to scribble feverishly on a notepad.

When he came out she was putting her earrings on.

"Where's my list?" he said as he looked at the notepad.

"You don't have one. I didn't hear you contribute anything."

"Can't we share?" He wrapped his arm around her waist and nuzzled her neck. "Who's gonna know? We have different staff."

"Stop creasing my collar," she said as she slapped him upside the head.

"Are the stats any different than last year?" he asked.

Donna slipped her second earring on and glanced at the email again.

"Not really. Women only accept compliments forty percent of the time .."

"You're not in that forty percent. You're too busy fishing for compliments," he said as he ran a hand up her thigh.

"Nice distraction technique. Sadly for you we don't have time for that right now."

"What does it say about men?" he said as he pulled her back against him.

"That sixty-four percent like to receive compliments. You're not in that bracket, in case you're wondering."

"What do you mean I'm not in that bracket? I like compliments .."

"You don't need anyone to compliment you. You're a pro at complimenting yourself!"

Josh snorted and went back to feeling her up.

"This is new. When the compliment is given by another woman it is only accepted twenty-two percent of the time."

"Whaaat? Gimme that!" He snatched her cell phone from her. "Huh! Is that true?"

Donna shrugged.

"I guess? Maybe? Yes."

"Women are crazy. Hey, look at this .. women prefer men who use metaphorical language when paying compliments in a romantic context."

Donna turned in his arms and kissed him.

"You can try that on me in bed sometime."

"Or over dinner."

"Or over the table. Or the kitchen counter. Or the bathroom vanity."

"Donna .."

"Don't whine .. " she said as she moved away from him and slipped into a pencil skirt. "It's not very becoming in a Chief of Staff. And get dressed!"

"So we're really winging this then .." he said as they got into the car.

"You're winging it. I made my list."

"Help me out here, Donna," he said as town car approached the White House.

She scribbled a few things down on a page of her notepad, tore it out and handed it to him just before she got out of the car.

"I still can't read your writing!"

She snatched it back.

"Nothing which sets up expectations and no backhanded compliments. Go for skill consolidation and -"

"What the hell is skill consolidation?" he called as he hurried after her.

"Sam will help you figure it out," she said as she stuffed the paper back into his hand. "See you later."

She pressed a quick kiss to his mouth and disappeared.

"Morning .." she called as she stepped into her office.

Her eyes fell on the most beautiful flower arrangement she had ever seen.

She picked up the phone.

"You found the flowers .."

"And the note .."

Josh chuckled down the line at her.

"I asked Margaret to send me an advance copy of the email last night," he said. "If you look on your desk there's a folder with printouts. Every compliment known to man for the forty percenters, the twenty-two percenters, and the sixty-four percenters."

"Was that your work?"

"Also Margaret. But the flowers and the note are all me. That counts, right?"

"It does. See you later?"

"Yeah. You really do inspire me, Donna. To be a better person. Every day."

"I don't have words for you, but I'll be showing you my compliment as soon as we get back to your place. It's black and it's lacy in all the right places," she whispered as she replaced the phone.


First Lady's Office

6pm

"You wanted to see me, Ma'am?"

"Nice job today."

"Thank you."

"I was .. hoping you could help me with something," Helen said slowly.

"Of course."

"How does one compliment the leader of the free world?"

Donna's eyes lit up for a moment, and then she schooled her features.

"I really couldn't say, Ma'am. Maybe ask Josh?"

"I saw that!" Helen said. "You thought of something and you decided not to say it."

"You really want to know .."

Helen nodded.

"This is going past all bounds of propriety .."

"I'm sure I can handle it."

"You're sure .."

"Yes."

Donna came round the desk and whispered something into her ear.

Helen blushed and then laughed.

"Really?"

"I have it on good authority."

When the First Lady had left her office, Donna placed a call to Ronna.

"You may want to clear the President's schedule if he isn't already done for the day."

"What's going on?"

"He's about to get a walk in visit from the First Lady."


Helen walked into the oval office and smiled at her husband.

"My staff did a great job with National Compliments Day today."

Her husband looked up from what he was reading.

"Heard something about that," he replied. "Looking for a compliment from me?"

"Nah, you gave me more than a few this morning," she said with a coquettish smile. "Just thought I'd come by and share one that I heard about you."

She leaned against the portico door closest to the desk and toyed with the top button of her blouse.

"Oh yeah?" He sat up a little straighter. "Which one's that?"

"Did you know that on the campaign trail you were known as Hurricane Santos?"

"Hold that thought," he said as he reached for the intercom button. "Ronna .. are we done for today?"