Title: The Taste of Everything
Author: Michelle K. (CageyGrl@yahoo.com)
Site: http://glimmershine.tripod.com
Archive: Bordello, lists, myself.
Category: The West Wing, Donna/Joey, response to the future tense challenge
Rating: R
Spoilers: Season four-ish.
Summary: "She'll think about the possibility of Joey loving her, and she'll smile."
Disclaimer: Characters don't belong to me. Don't sue.
Thanks: to Julian Lee for the beta, making me love this pairing, and writing 'Scrubs' slash. The last one isn't relevant, but it deserves a loving shout-out.

*

The Taste of Everything by Michelle K.

She'll know that Joey's returning before it's announced. Another state of the union means more polls, after all, and more polls means Joey. She'll recognize the obviousness of her own logic, as well as the odd butterflies in her stomach. Joey's always had that effect on her, really, so it won't bother her.

What will bother her is her own fear at actually approaching Joey as something other than Josh's go-between. It's that fear that made her throw Josh at Joey like life itself depended on their mating. It's that fear that'll anger her, make her decide to do something about it.

But, still, when Joey does come back into town, Donna will find herself avoiding her like a carrier of black plague. She'll force Margaret into the role of moral support, but she'll still refuse to listen to Margaret's "Just talk to her." She'll also ignore Margaret's "But you *told* me to say that." Margaret's "You told me to say that until you did it," though, will have a bit of bite.

"I'll do it after the speech," Donna will counter. She'll secretly believe that Joey will only be amenable to her passes after a few glasses of champagne.

*

The state of the union will roll around with the usual anxiety; it'll end with the usual joy. She'll be happy for the poll numbers, happy for a new reason to celebrate, happiest still to watch Joey move through the crowd. Margaret's elbow in her side will bring her back to her goal.

"You know," Donna will say. "I never should've involved you in this."

"I don't see what the problem is." She'll poke Donna again. "Now go."

"Fine." When she makes it to Joey, she'll find her in a conversation with Will - with Kenny standing there, as usual. Donna will find herself hovering, unsure what to do. She'll know that she's always been bad at this; she'll wonder if she's ever going to get better.

Will will notice her first. "Hey, Donna."

"Hey, Will. Hey, Joey. Hey, Kenny. Hey."

"You could make that into a song," Will will muse. "It might not be very good... But, anyway. There's a reason for this that I'm missing, isn't there?"

"I just wanted to talk to Joey." It'll occur to her that it would make more sense to address this to the person she's trying to ask out. "...I wanted to talk to you. In private. If that's okay."

"Sure," Joey will say.

A corner will be what passes for 'private.' She'll speak in low tones, lips moving precisely.

"How are you doing?" Donna will begin.

"Great. And yourself?"

"Good." Donna will think about the best way to come at this. "I like you." She'll instantly decide that she's started off on the wrong path. "What I mean is, I'm bad at this."

Joey will stare at her. "Okay."

"Can I start over?"

"Okay."

"Are you free Friday? Because if you are, I thought we could go out for a drink."

Joey will look confused, in an oddly pleased way. "You're asking me out on a date?"

"Yes." She'll sigh. "See? I told you I was bad at this." Her smile will be a nervous one; she'll relax a little when Joey smiles back.

"Sure. How's nine for you?"

"It's great."

Joey will choose the bar. Donna will choose not to tell anyone the real reason why she's smiling. Margaret will figure it out anyway.

*

Her mother will call on Thursday night. She'll talk about how her father's doing, how her brother just got a new job. Donna will stop herself from pointing out that it's his sixth job in seven months.

"I have a date tomorrow," she'll drop lightly.

Her mother won't be able to contain her excitement. "What's his name?"

"Joey," she'll say, and she won't clarify. Nor will she correct her mother's assumption that the date's a man.

After she hangs up, she'll wonder if it was the wrong thing to do. She'll think about all the other girls she's gone out with and never mentioned, and she'll briefly consider them to be lies of omission, reprehensible at their core.

She'll pacify herself with the knowledge that those relationships amounted to little more than three-night-stands, and if she found anything lasting, she'd tell her family immediately.

She'll think about the possibility of Joey loving her, and she'll smile.

*

When Friday rolls around, she'll feel nervous. She'll worry about how Joey will like her even when the date is hours away, even when she's drinking her first cup of coffee. She'll talk to Margaret, who will say, "I'm sure it'll be fine. You're much better at this dating thing than you give yourself credit for."

She'll shake her head. "I'm good at first dates. I'm not good at relationships."

Margaret will hesitate before saying, "Well, for now, this is just a first date. You can worry about everything else later."

"I could. But, for some reason, my brain just wants to think of everything that could go wrong."

"Well, you like her, right? So, just try to focus on that."

Donna will try, and it'll work. But she'll still have a pit in her stomach, made of all the doubts she has about herself.

At nine, she'll ask Josh, "Can I go? I have a date."

"Got a good feeling?" he'll inquire with a smirk.

"My feeling's pretty good, if I dare say so myself. So, can I go?"

He'll shrug. "Fine. But I'm going to call you if anything comes up."

"I'd expect nothing less," she'll say as she puts on her coat.

"So, who are you going out with?"

"Joey Lucas." He'll think she's joking, but he won't ask her questions. She'll want him to ask so she can tell him how much she wants this to work out.

But since he'll be quiet, she'll be quiet, and they'll part without another word.

*

She won't have time to go home and change; an apology for her attire will be the first thing that comes out of her mouth.

"It's okay," Joey will say as she waves her into the opposite side of the booth. "I didn't change either."

Donna will wonder if Joey's reasons had to do with time or lack of drive to impress her. Even if it's the latter, she'll still be in awe of Joey's understated beauty; she always has been. When Joey says she looks nice, Donna will fight the blush threatening to rise on her cheeks. "You too," she'll reply.

"Thanks," Joey will say.

They'll both order whiskey sours. They'll talk about their families, their likes. This is just a normal first date, she'll think, trying to ignore the way her palms sweat whenever Joey leans in towards her.

One of the times when she leans in conspiratorially, she'll ask, "Why'd you ask me out?"

Donna will be taken aback, but she'll be momentarily be saved by the waitress. She'll order another round, then look back at Joey. She won't know what to say -- I like you, I thought Josh was a moron for not taking my advice, Every time I see you I think of running my hand up the inside of your thigh -- so "Why do you ask?" is all she'll muster.

"I thought...you and Josh--"

"Oh, yeah. He told me you thought I was interested in him." Fresh drinks will come. After she takes a sip, she'll lean in closer than Joey has before; almost close enough to kiss. "Do you realize how conceited he was? It went on for days. If I didn't like you, I would've been *really* pissed," she'll add with a smile.

Joey will return her grin. "I can't imagine Josh with a big head."

"Difficult, I know."

"Good thing I'm getting off light."

Donna will pause, consider the question she'd originally been asked and say, "I asked you out because I always thought you were...I always wanted to. I wasn't going to do anything about it, but I decided, you know, what the hell." She'll dislike her own rambling, but she won't know how to stop. Then, Joey's hand will cover hers and she won't know how to keep talking.

"In any case, I'm glad you asked me. Surprised--"

"But in a good way?" she'll ask hopefully.

"Yeah."

She'll want to kiss her, but she won't make a move. Part of her will want to tell how much she's thought of this; another will want to tell Joey that she's been learning sign language. She'll suppress both desires. The first because it's obvious and a tad pathetic; the second because everyone, she'll assume, must use that proof of how much they want to be part of Joey's world.

She'll want to be unique.

"Dance with me," she'll say, despite the fact that no one else is dancing and such a suggestion may make her seem more commonplace crazy than matchless.

Joey will say yes, and Donna will wonder if Joey's going to remember her at all.

*

Outside the bar, they'll kiss. Joey will be the initiator, but Donna will pretend that it was her idea.

"So, where are you staying?" Donna will ask. She'll hope that she's not too obvious in looking for an invite.

"The Watergate," she'll reply. "You want to come back with me?"

Donna will think of clean sheets, Joey's skin on hers, tracing circles with her tongue, and she'll say, "Sure."

*

As she sits on Joey's bed, she'll wonder whether they're going too fast. She'll wonder if she's ever really gone slow; she won't want to consider what that means.

This time, Donna will kiss Joey. Undressing Joey will be more enjoyable than she'd imagined. She will only speak of her fantasies when she's kissing Joey's back. She'll wonder if it's cowardice or desire that makes her speak when she knows Joey can't discern her words.

Joey will turn around, pull Donna's mouth to her own as her hands go to the buttons of Donna's blouse. Letting Joey undress her will also surpass expectations, as will the feel of Joey's mouth on her skin.

Her hips will arch at the feel of Joey's hand between her thighs. Joey's eyes will lock on Donna's as she moves her fingers in and out. Donna will hold her gaze until the orgasm washes over her body, eyes closing as she cries out. For a moment, she'll feel like she's in love. It'll subside, only to be rekindled when Joey kisses her. She'll wonder if it's right to equate the flourishes of sex with true emotion. She'll decide that it's better than equating it with nothing at all.

She'll make Joey come against her mouth, wondering what Joey feels -- besides the obvious, that is. She'll rest her head on Joey's stomach, the taste of sex pleasantly heavy on her tongue. Joey's fingers will run through her hair, pushing it away from her face.

When they kiss again, it'll still feel a lot like love. She won't be impetuous enough to actually say it, or draw hearts against Joey's stomach.

She'll pull away from Joey, say all she can once again think of. "I like you."

"If I haven't said it yet, I like you, too," Joey will assert. "A lot."

Donna will only smile.

THE END

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