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her name is nearly the sweetest music he’s ever heard, second only to her laugh.

josh seems to be having two types of days as of late.

there are the days when he thinks she might love him the way he loves her, all aching hearts and longing glances and the quiet desperation of feelings built up over years.

and then there are the days when he thinks she can’t possibly love him the way he loves her, that the way she loves him is reassuring shoulder pats and secret handshakes and the comfortable familiarity of family.

he doesn’t know which is worse.

he is every walking cliché; he pines, she takes his breath away, he’s tongue-tied.

the day he finally realized he loved her was, naturally, the one day he was both too out of it and too busy to even give the idea a second thought.

donna had stood over him as he lay on the floor, hungover as all hell. josh's head was pounding, but he remembers her half-incredulous and half-trying to hold back a laugh and so completely the woman he loved.

she’d woken him up so many times before; he’d been slumped at his desk and she’d laid a gentle hand on his shoulder and murmured his name until he woke. it was always far past the time they should have left, but donna had stayed.

it’s time to go home, she’d whisper, features and expression soft in the twilight.

he doesn’t know why he didn’t realize he loved her in one of those blurry, sweet moments in the wee hours of the morning instead of the time where he was so hungover that he actually wanted to die, but it happened.

he fell in love with her all over again a million little times after that.

he knows he shouldn’t relish something as simple as saying her name. that truly was the point of no return for him.

for years, he didn’t quite understand why his stomach twisted when donna went out on dates.

he thought it was because she consistently went out with guys who weren’t even close to being good enough for her. how could donna even think to settle? and why the hell did she keep going out with republicans? his donnatella--christ, he really shouldn’t call her his anything--is better than the rest of the senior staff combined.

he was right, though that wasn’t the full truth. they weren’t good enough for her, but they also weren’t josh (not that he’s good enough for her, either).

he is head-over-heels in love with an angel from wisconsin and that’s the most dangerous thing he’s ever admitted to himself.

josh goes through this (frankly, bullshit) onslaught of emotions and concerns for an embarrassingly long three days before the obvious complication hits him. whether or not she loves him like he loves her doesn't even matter.

he's her boss.

simple as that.

he knows they would probably both have to quit if they were together. not only would dating her hand their adversaries the cheap shot that is the democrats can't keep it in their pants; first john hoynes and now josh lyman?, it would be just plain immoral. he won’t date a subordinate, no matter how much they feel more like equals.

(this is not to say he minds when donna tells him how handsome and powerful he is, even if it is a joke)

he’s her boss.

the scary thing is that josh might do it anyway. he’d quit his job for even a chance at a life with her.

that’s why he can’t fully let himself believe she loves him back, even for a second. he cannot blow his chance. working for jed bartlet is an imperative of the highest order that, far and away, takes precedence over his love life.

he’s her boss.

and until he isn’t, he’ll keep his lovesickness to himself, thank you very much.


donnatella, donnatella, donnatella.
her name rolled off his tongue like he was born to say it.