She's smiling indulgently now, and it's at that point he gives up and stops trying to pretend he doesn't know she's there.
"You know, unlike some people I could mention, I do have to work." He's trying to be stern even though it's never worked with her yet.
"I'm hurt, Joshua. Anybody would think you didn't want me here."
"Would you go away if I said I didn't?" The question is rhetorical and she knows it.
"Did I do what you wanted me to when I worked for you?"
"Did you actually want something, or were you just trying to prevent me from doing worthwhile things on behalf of the American public?"
She smiles and shakes her head. "I think the American Public should thank me for limiting the damage you can do."
He's just about to retort when his assistant-of-the-week enters and carefully places some files on his desk, never making eye contact with him.
Donna cocks an eyebrow, but stays silent as the assistant leaves again.
"Josh. What did you do now? Assistants don't grow on trees, you know."
"If you hadn't left me, it wouldn't be a problem."
"Oh Josh." And so many things are expressed in those two words. Amusement. Regret. Love. Pity. He's pouting like a little boy, and now she's laughing as she catches his eye.
"I have to go now." She rises and Josh watches her leave before returning to his work.
She's already there when he arrives at the apartment. He stands on the threshold looking at her curled up on the sofa. Pale hair against pale skin with so much potential hidden beneath. She looks up and smiles at him and Josh is once again struck by her beauty. Why didn't he ever notice before, back when she was his assistant and he was her boss?
He once wondered what it would take to pursue a relationship with Donna, to have her live with him. He had guessed she'd be unlikely to remain his assistant, and he had left it at that.
Sam, Toby and CJ are arguing over Sam's speech and Leo's listening benevolently. It's been a difficult few months and things are only just beginning to return to normal. Josh doubts they ever will.
His assistant brings in the report they need and informs Josh that as it's her last day she won't be working late - even if he held a gun to her head. She leaves the room too quickly to see the stunned silence left in her wake and is too new at this job to know that she's said something that would have been tactless after Rosslyn, and is now unforgivable.
Leo clears his throat and tries to bridge the chasm in the conversation.
"Last day Josh? I didn't know you scared off another one."
"Yeah. Personnel chewed me out again. I'm getting a new assistant on Monday."
Leo hesitates before leaving it at that and the others seem relieved. There is a sense of a danger averted, a pitfall avoided.
She's waiting in his office when he gets back and the look on her face promises an afternoon spent fending off demands for explanations and diatribes on how stupid said explanations are. But she sees his face and is silent. He stands in the doorway and looks at her.
"Donna, why did you leave me?" And no matter how hard he tries, he can't keep the pleading from his voice.
She looks back at him - all straight and serious.
"What reason did I have to stay?"
And there's nothing more to be said.
"I'm just saying that if you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for a beer."
"If you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for red lights."
He didn't stop for a beer, didn't stop for red lights, barely slowed down to check for traffic; CJ sitting silent with fear and worry beside him. But when they arrived at the hospital it didn't matter, because it was too late. She was dead when she arrived at the hospital. She was dead when the patrolman found her. She was dead when the mugger put the gun to her head and pulled the trigger.
He doesn't tell anyone he sees her. He doesn't tell anyone he talks to a ghost. Leo persuaded him to see Stanley in the aftermath, and with reluctance he slowly talked through his feelings for her. But there are some things he will not tell.
Because he can believe that when he sees her it's because she knows. Knows how he feels and knows that she's the only thing that keeps him going.
After all - it's only what any good assistant would do.