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let me count the ways i mean it

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After Ways and Means


Donna knew why Cliff walked away. It was a conflict of interest, a terrible one. And truly it would have been a terrible idea anyway even if he was just on ways and means. But she had really liked him until Cliff made the connection with her and the boxes.

Donna sighed in her apartment. Her roommate was visiting family and had taken the cats with her so Donna was all alone. She wasn’t a huge fan of Figaro and Mozart (Figaro with his excess of fur and Mozart and his screeching) but they helped with the loneliness.

She hadn’t seen Josh most of the day. She had been in the damn room with the boxes again. She hadn’t seen much of Josh the day before either. Donna thought that his absence should have made her realize that she didn’t need him, she was independent. But it just drove home how routine and right his presence felt in her life. The absence of Josh in her life made her feel pathetic. She was a busy woman! She was a beautiful young woman! She shouldn’t be pining over Josh Lyman, for Christ’s sake. He was her boss. He was older than her. He saw her as only an assistant/best friend hybrid. There were so many reasons against her feelings and yet her feelings would not yield, bend, or break.

She was watching some show on Bravo that she wasn’t paying any attention to as she pondered the situation she found herself in; hopelessly crushing on her boss and seeing no avenues out of it.

Maybe that’s why she does what she does. She wanted a respite from the overbearing nature of her Josh problem.

“Hello?” She answers her ringing cell phone.

“Donna, it’s Cliff.” He sounds unsure. Donna feels unsure herself. Why was he calling? “Look, I feel bad about how we left things. Could I come over and talk things out?”

He comes over and they talk and they open up a bottle of wine and they laugh and Donna thinks yes, I’ll forget about him just this once. And they do things adults often do when they’re liable to make a mistake.

Immediately after, they both realize the mistake but they lay in bed anyway. Donna wonders if Cliff is thinking about the girlfriend he broke up with that Ainsley mentioned. She’s certainly thinking about someone else.

She has to tell him. One blind date she can hide. This? A mistake this gargantuan? She can’t keep it from him. She pictures the way his face falls, the ways his shoulders tense when he’s surprised then angry. She hates herself for it. She hates Cliff a little too. She even hates Josh because damn him, why couldn’t they have a normal boss-assistant relationship? Damn him for being the one her heart seemed to have carved out a spot for, a part doomed to be disappointed, she thinks.

Cliff leaves. She cries just a little. She eats ice cream and returns to Bravo, wishing the cats were there so Josh could come yell at them.