Title: The Christmas Truce
Disclaimer: Not mine in any way.
Rating: G
Pairing: Josh/Donna
Category: Holiday fluff with a little angst.
Feedback: Much appreciated.
Archiving: Please ask.
Timeline: The Christmas before the New Hampshire primary, when Josh is working for Santos and Donna for Russell.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Meg for proofreading and generally putting up with my whining.

A/N: This is my first West Wing fic, so I'd love some feedback.

The event was finally breaking up, and as far as Josh Lyman was concerned, it couldn't end a moment too soon. It was Christmas Eve, and no one really wanted to be there. But the mayor of Manchester had invited all of the candidates to a Christmas reception in celebration of the new wing that had opened at the children's hospital, and none of the candidates wanted to snub sick kids on Christmas Eve a few weeks before the New Hampshire primary. So Santos, Russell, and the rest of the candidates had spent the afternoon schmoozing, eating mediocre Christmas cookies, and listening to teenagers from the local youth orchestra play Christmas carols. There was precisely one thing that all the candidates and staffers, Democratic and Republican, would agree on right then: they wanted to go home.

Well, almost all. Josh had to admit that there was one more person he wanted to talk to before leaving. He was beginning to give up as he scanned the room one more time. Then he saw her -- outside, standing in the snow. The snowflakes were sticking to her red wool hat and long blond hair, and she looked like a Christmas card. He made his way outside.

"Donna." He nodded to her.

"Josh." Her voice was quiet but firm.

"Do you know what happened on Christmas Eve in 1914, Donnatella?" he asked.

Her eyes widened. Whatever she had expected him to say, this clearly wasn't it.

"Are you trying to make sure I get my dose of Christmas trivia since the President isn't here, Joshua?" She tried to keep her voice light and teasing so he wouldn't know how hard this was for her.

"No. Do you know what happened that year?" he repeated.

"Yes." Donna sighed. He clearly wasn't going to let this go until she played along. "The British and German troops stopped fighting. They sang Christmas carols. They played soccer. Of course I know." The President loved to tell this story, so Josh had to know perfectly well that she had heard it a million times. What was his point?

"So I was thinking . . ." Josh started slowly. "If Christmas Eve was enough reason for a truce in World War I, shouldn't it be enough for a truce between us?"

Donna felt a smile begin to spread across her face. She nodded, afraid to trust her tone of voice.

"Do you have a little time?" Josh asked.

Donna looked at her watch.

"No," she said, and then winced as his face fell. "I'm sorry, but I really don't. My flight is in an hour and a half. I wish I did . . ."

"Okay." He decided to believe her. "Do you need a ride to the airport?"

"Do you have a car?" She knew he didn't, and she was amused that he seemed to have forgotten that fact.

"Oh. No. Sorry."

"Josh, it's fine," she hurried to tell him. "I called a cab. It should be here in a few minutes."

"Okay." Now that Donna was in front of him, Josh couldn't remember exactly what he had planned to say. "So . . . how are you?"

"I'm okay. Tired. Stressed." Was this what they had come to? How are you? That was the sort of thing you asked colleagues or acquaintances. "You?"

"Pretty much the same," he conceded. He couldn't believe they were having this shallow conversation. "Donna, this isn't -- "

"Isn't us," she finished for him. "I know. I hate it too."

Josh stared at her for a minute. At least she was still finishing his sentences.

"Are you doing okay?" she asked. "You know, with all the Christmas music and everything . . ."

He smiled. It was so like her to worry about him even when they were supposed to be rivals, even enemies.

"Yes. Fine. No rectangles."

"Because you know you can always call me . . ."

"Oh, yeah, that would go over well," he quipped. "Hi, Russell campaign? This is Santos's campaign manager, just calling to let you know that I'm losing my mind. Just in case you want to use that in an ad or something."

"Josh!" She couldn't believe he thought that of her. "You know I would never --"

"It would be your job," he pointed out.

"I don't care," she insisted. "If you needed a friend, needed me, that would be more important."

"Okay. I know. Thank you." He paused. "Donna, just promise me -- promise me that when the campaign is over, we'll find a way to get past all this."

She looked at him, her expression unreadable.

"Past the baggage of working on different campaigns, you mean?" She needed to understand exactly what he meant. She couldn't let herself hope if there was no chance . . .

"That too." Josh wondered if he should just take the easy way out and agree that he was just talking about the campaign. "But I meant . . . all of it. Not just that." He couldn't bring himself to say more right now; he could only pray she understood.

Donna nodded slowly.

"Okay. I promise."

"I'll fix this," he reaffirmed.

"I know. You always do." She couldn't help but let herself stare at him. For this moment, he wasn't the enemy. He was her Josh again.

The sound of a car pulling up made them break their gaze.

"There's your cab," Josh said helplessly.

"Yeah." Donna wondered if it would be okay to hug him. There were lots of people around. Would she get in trouble for hugging someone from the Santos campaign?

"Wait, here!" Josh had almost forgotten the reason he had been so desperate to see her in the first place. He dug around in his messenger bag and pulled out the wrapped gift that had been there for the last few weeks, ever since he had found it in a little used bookstore near Des Moines. "Merry Christmas." He handed it to her and managed to give her a quick hug in the process.

"Oh. Thank you. But I don't --"

"That's okay," he assured her. "I wasn't expecting a present. I just wanted to keep up our tradition."

"I do have a present for you," Donna clarified. "I just don't have it with me. And I already missed Hanukkah. Sorry."

Josh grinned, his dimples out in full force. She still likes me!

"You can give it to me later," he whispered as she opened her gift.

"Josh -- Jane Eyre? I love Jane Eyre," Donna breathed.

"I know. You read it with Mrs. Morello. Anyway, that's not a first edition, but it's old, and I thought it was pretty."

"It is. Thank you."

"There's an inscription," he pointed out.

"Of course there is." Donna opened the book.

Josh watched her nervously as the words he had written so carefully ran through his head.

Donnatella – I know I have been blind to many things over the past several years. I can only pray that I will not have to be literally struck blind in order to understand and appreciate everything you do and everything you are to me. Merry Christmas. - Joshua

"Oh, Josh --" Donna threw her arms around her neck without stopping to think about it this time. He kissed her cheek as he returned the hug and then gently stepped back. The cab was waiting, after all, and the last thing they needed right now was for someone to take a picture of them together and make it into some sort of scandal.

"Merry Christmas, Donnatella."

"Merry Christmas, Joshua."