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Five Times Josh and Donna Failed to Marathon a TV Show, and One Time They Succeeded

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2000

‘Really, though,’ Josh says, slapping the backs of his fingers against his newspaper, ‘are they taking this guy seriously?’

‘I’m sure they are,’ Donna calls from the kitchen.

‘They should be taking him seriously,’ he tells her. ‘Will you let Toby know?’

‘Sure.’

‘Really?’

‘Of course.’

‘Maybe I should just call him,’ he suggests, reaching for the phone, only to find that Donna has at some point moved it without him noticing.

‘Josh,’ she says, as she comes into the room and settles on the sofa, curling her legs up beneath her, ‘what makes you think I can’t adequately relay information? For that matter, what makes you think Toby and the others forget how to do their jobs the moment you’re not in the building?’

‘Nothing,’ Josh mutters.

‘Then put the paper down and stop bothering Toby and focus on your recovery like you’re supposed to.’

‘I need to work,’ he grouses, as she plucks the paper out of his hands. ‘I’m out of the loop. I’m relying on these… filtered, dumbed-down crumbs of information from the Post—’

‘And my reports,’ she reminds him mildly.

Josh freezes. ‘Right.

‘My five-page reports that I write for you every day without fail,’ she continues, picking up the remote and flicking the TV on, ‘which I go through with you point by point so you’re caught up to everything the office is doing.’

‘They’re pretty good reports,’ he mutters.

‘They’re very good reports.’

‘Yes.’

‘And that’s to say nothing of about six phone calls a day to Leo and CJ and Toby and I.’

‘Yes, all right. You’ve made your point.’ He turns his attention to the television, which she’s now flicking through. ‘Hey, can we watch the news? Right, no,’ he continues hurriedly, at the exasperated look she gives him. ‘We’ll watch your thing. Your—’ he tilts his head a little as he looks at the screen ‘—weird vampire show. Okay, then.’

‘Oh no,’ Donna says, narrowing her eyes. ‘You can dismiss my reports if you like. You do not make fun of my show.’

‘I was not making fun of it! I was just saying it looks a little…’ He gestures at the screen, aware he’s not going to dig his way out of this one. ‘Corny,’ he finishes, and instantly wishes he’d tried a little harder.

‘There are three episodes on tonight,’ Donna says brightly.

‘And we’re going to watch all of them?’ he guesses.

She settles back against the sofa. ‘That seems likely.’

 

2002

‘Are you absolutely sure that there’s nothing you can do?’ Donna asks, trailing forlornly into Josh’s office.

‘For I swear to god the thousandth time,’ he sighs, ‘no, I have absolutely no pull over at Fox. I probably have negative pull over at Fox.’

‘Fox News, maybe, but the whole network can’t be—’

‘They’re a devil corporation,’ he says sharply. ‘They’re all bad people who make terrible decisions, and if we ever needed proof of that, well, here it is.’

‘A friend, maybe,’ Donna suggests, desperate. ‘You’ve got to have at least one friend over there who can make our case.’

‘Our case being—’

‘They should un-cancel Firefly.’

Josh mulls it over. ‘They should un-cancel Firefly,’ he mutters.

She sits down, resting her forearms on his desk. ‘We’re not going to find anything better, you know. It was the best show.’

‘The best,’ he agrees. There’s a brief, contemplative silence. ‘Because I didn’t really think I’d like it, going in, because my experience of Joss Whedon has been pretty negative.’

‘Because Buffy scared you, yes,’ she says, nodding.

‘Okay, can we just clear this up? I was not scared of Buffy; it just wasn’t my kind of show.’

‘Sure.’

He frowns in annoyance. ‘See, you think I was scared.’

‘I don’t,’ she assures him.

‘I wasn’t scared.’

‘So, Firefly?’ Donna prompts.

‘I really can’t do anything, Donna,’ he says sadly.

She stares at the desk for a moment, resigned. ‘We can watch the whole thing again, though, right?’ she asks eventually.

‘Oh,’ he says, ‘absolutely.’

 

2004

‘This is bullshit!’ Josh shouts down the phone. ‘That guy got reelected? I mean, that guy got reelected?’

Donna knows exactly what he’s talking about; nonetheless she says, ‘Did it occur to you that I might not have watched it yet?’

‘Have you?’ he asks.

‘Yes,’ she says patiently, ‘but it would have been nice if you’d checked before you started yelling spoilers down the phone at me.’

She hears him take a deep breath. ‘Yes, you’re right.’

‘You know how I feel about spoilers.’

‘I do. I’m sorry.’ He’s silent for a moment before bursting out, ‘But it’s just so bad, Donna!’

She sighs, sitting down on her bed. ‘Yes, it is.’

‘I am done with this show, okay, just so we’re clear,’ he informs her. She can hear his footsteps echoing as he paces up and down his hall. ‘I’m never watching again. This is the most ridiculous, unrealistic plot point—’

‘Well, he is the main character,’ Donna points out.

‘How do you figure?’ he demands. ‘He’s unlikeable, he’s stupid—’

‘He’s the president.’ She sighs. ‘Two-term president, apparently.’

‘He’s a buffoon,’ Josh snaps.

‘I didn’t write it.’

‘I’m gonna find the people who did,’ he says darkly.

She grins. ‘And do what?’

‘I don’t know. Give ’em a good talking to, probably.’

‘That’ll show them.’

‘You know, you really don’t sound as pissed about this as you should be,’ he says, suspicion lacing his tone. ‘You are pissed about it, right? You weren’t secretly rooting for Bush?’

‘Josh!’ she exclaims, outraged, ‘I was practically campaigning for Kerry!’

‘I don’t know; you’ve accidentally voted Republican in the past; maybe you got confused about who you were supposed to—’

‘I will hang up the phone,’ she threatens.

‘No, no, no! I’m sorry; I didn’t mean that,’ he says hastily. ‘Stay and talk to me. Where do you suppose they’re going to go from here? I think it’ll turn out he cheated, don’t you? That’s the only way I see this working.’

‘I thought you were done with it?’

‘They can pull it back,’ he argues.

‘I don’t know, Josh.’

‘You know what I’d like? I’d like an idealistic political show. This stuff’s too cynical for me. You know how I think it should have gone?’

Donna leans back against her headboard and prepares herself for a long night.

 

2007

‘And here’s the other problem,’ Donna says. ‘One person can’t process that much information. Maybe if you had an entire team of people, downloaded a tiny portion of the data into each person’s brain, that could work, but I guess the whole point is to make connections that wouldn’t have otherwise been spotted. Though I suppose establishing some kind of telepathic link could be a possibility. That’s actually not as far off as you might think.’ She pauses to reach for another slice of pizza, then leans back against the arm of the sofa, resting her feet against his leg. ‘Also, the likelihood of the NSA and the CIA formatting their data that way is pretty small. I mean, sure, they may have tried it once, but—’

‘Okay, hold on a moment,’ Josh says. ‘Why do you know stuff about what US Intelligence has and hasn’t done? And the weird brain stuff?’

‘I like to read things.’

‘I sometimes think you’re wasted in the First Lady’s office,’ he tells her. He thinks about it. ‘Sometimes I consider the possibility that you were planted in the First Lady’s office by the CIA.’

‘That would mean I was planted in your office too, right?’ she asks. ‘It would more likely be the NSA that had put me there, by the way.’

‘You scare the hell out of me.’

‘Come on, Josh,’ she says, pressing her toes into his thigh. ‘Do you think if I was an NSA plant, I’d be telling you about it?’

‘I’d also hope that as the White House chief of staff I’d maybe know about it.’

‘For the White House chief of staff you know shockingly little about the data encryption methods used by the US Intelligence Community. Oh, that’s something else.’ She licks her fingers clean. ‘There’s no reason the NRO and NGA’s data wouldn’t be in there as well.’

‘Okay, listen,’ Josh says, squeezing her foot gently, ‘I really don’t think this is supposed to be all that realistic. It’s just meant to be cool. And it delivers, by the way.’

‘You really secretly want to be a spy, don’t you?’ she asks, flexing and straightening her foot against his leg again.

He shrugs. ‘I’d be good. His hand steals up her calf as he adds, ‘I bet I could be very persuasive.’

‘You’d be one of those spies who seduces their mark, huh?’

‘Yep.’ He shifts, stretching out along the sofa to half lie over her and sliding his fingers into her hair.

‘Show me,’ she murmurs, arching into him as he kisses her, and then abruptly pulls away. ‘Oh no, hang on.’

He draws back. ‘What?’

‘I have to go tell my contact at the NSA that I had to joke about being a spy, throw you off the scent a little.’

‘I’m sure they can wait,’ Josh says.

‘Probably,’ Donna agrees. She reaches for the remote, blindly hitting the stop button and kissing him again.

 

2011

‘Is it over?’ Josh asks.

‘I’ve stopped it,’ Donna says.

‘But is there anything gory onscreen?’ he presses.

‘No.’ She sighs. ‘Take the cushion away from your face, would you?’

He does so, slowly. ‘This—I mean, this is the show everyone’s raving about?’

‘It’s very well filmed.’

‘Yes, the loving detail that’s gone into filming each brutal murder is what truly makes it, I think.’

Donna pats his arm. ‘It’s okay. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, but it’s not for us, so we’ll find something else.’

‘We’ve been trying to find something we both like for over ten years,’ he reminds her.

‘We found Firefly.’

‘Don’t,’ he says. ‘It’s still too raw.’ He looks back at the now black screen as though expecting something to leap out at him. ‘Didn’t you know it was going to be, you know, like that?’

‘Well, I knew the books were kind of violent. But it’s only really supposed to be an aside to the story. And it’s very political. I thought you’d like that.’

‘It makes the politics we deal with look cuddly by comparison. Like Congress is a bunch of fluffy kittens, or something.’

‘I’m sorry,’ she says. ‘I thought you’d be okay.’

He frowns. ‘Why would you think that? I was scared of Buffy!’

‘I knew it!’

‘Yes!’ Josh says, lifting his chin a little. ‘We’ve been together for over four years; I think it’s time we were very clear about my fear threshold. And this? Way, way past it.’

‘Aww.’ She rests her head against his chest, rubbing her hand over it in soothing circles. ‘You wanna watch a romcom instead?’

He kisses the top of her head. ‘Yes, please.’

 

2012

Donna snuggles against Josh and tells him, ‘I love this show.’

‘Shh,’ he murmurs, ‘I want to watch.’

‘It’s political comedy with heart,’ she says happily, squeezing his hand.

‘I see that; let me watch.’

‘Chris looks like someone we know.’

‘Donna,’ Josh begins, and then blinks. ‘He does remind me of someone, actually.’

‘Let’s try to figure it out later,’ she says. ‘Let’s just watch for now.’

He opens his mouth to retort, but thinks the better of it.

‘The guy playing the councilman is hot,’ Donna whispers, after a few minutes.

‘Are you just gonna provide commentary the whole time?’

‘We found a show,’ she says. ‘I’m excited!’

He smiles and wraps his arms around her. ‘Yeah, me too.’