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Tuesday, June 27th, 2006 08:36 am
Title: Five Dresses Donna Owns
Author: [personal profile] bluflamingo
Fandom: The West Wing
Pairing: Donna/OFC, Donna/Bonnie
Rating: PG
Words: 2535
Feedback: Yes please. Even if it’s bad. Especially if it’s bad.
Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters. I wish I owned the dresses, but sadly I don’t. I do own the title, in all its lameness.

AN1: Written for [livejournal.com profile] tww_minis Donna round. For [livejournal.com profile] celbalrai who requested: Character you'd like paired with Donna: Any but Josh and Sam. Also, no Leo. Bonus love/points for an assistant.
2 or 3 elements you'd like included in the story: Oh. Stuck on this one. Okay, one of the ball things that the West Wing does (think The State Dinner, because you know looks fabulous in evening wear). And Donna/partner not going, for some reason. If that's too obscure, change it, by all means.

Summary: A little look into Donna’s closet. Five dresses and their places in her world.




Five Dresses Donna Owns

Donna buys her dress for her senior prom that morning, because Tommy spends the week before telling her that he’s not sure whether he’ll go with her or Anna from St Theresa’s. Her best friend Sammy tells her she’s being pathetic, hanging around after him, but Donna’s known Tommy since junior high and she can’t imagine going with anyone else. She’s eighteen years old and she thinks this is love.

The dress is pale pink, ankle length with a skirt that swirls round her legs when she moves and a bodice that her mom wouldn’t approve of, if she saw Donna without her darker pink shawl. She already has shoes, silver stiletto sandals that she’s been practicing walking in for weeks, and a tiny silver purse that’s just big enough for her house key and a lip stick.

She and Tommy dance under the disco ball and when Donna closes her eyes, she can imagine she’s in the kind of ballroom she’s seen in her mom’s old movies, not in the school gym with her math teacher watching them.

Tommy gets drunk later, and Donna ends up rubbing his shoulder while he throws up. When she gets home that night and takes her dress off, it’s stained all down the right side of the skirt. She takes it into the dry cleaner’s the next day, but it’s not the same after.

She still has it, though, hanging in the back of her closet in its dry cleaning bag.

***

She likes college, much more than high school, even if she’s not sure what she wants to be studying. She lives in halls with a bunch of other girls, and before long, she and her next door neighbour, Frankie are pretty inseparable. Frankie’s not much like Donna, with olive skin and lots of curly brown hair. She’s majoring in journalism and she wants to go into PR so she spends lots of time studying, but she’s always got time for Donna, and she never says anything when Donna switches her major again.

Frankie doesn’t have a date to the Valentine’s Ball and Donna turns down the two guys who ask her because she figures she’ll have more fun with Frankie than she would with them. They go dress shopping together, sharing dressing rooms and giggling as they zip each other into and out of a huge number of dresses, ignoring the looks the sales assistants give them. Frankie buys a pale grey strapless dress with lines of tiny glass beads down the bodice, and tries to talk Donna into something long and pale pink. Donna thinks of Tommy throwing up at the prom and ends up buying a long, dark red velvet gown with a satin sash.

Even though they bought the dresses together, Frankie insists Donna can’t see her till they’re both ready. When Frankie knocks at her door, her curls piled up on her head and her make up perfect, Donna’s breath catches and she stumbles over her compliments, suddenly shy.

Frankie doesn’t kiss her until they’re walking home in the early hours of the morning. Donna’s been waiting for it all evening, but it’s still a surprise. She can’t believe she never realised what was going on with her and Frankie. She tells Frankie this later, when they’re lying together in Donna’s bed, and Frankie laughs, tells her everyone thought they’d been dating for months, then rolls into her and kisses her.

Frankie takes a job interning on a senatorial race and rings Donna every day to tell her how great it is and how much greater it would be if they were working together until Donna walks into the presidential campaign office and gets a job. They start to drift after the races pick up speed, though they never officially break up, and Donna sometimes sees Frankie on TV, reading press releases for various senators.

The red dress goes into her closet at her parents’ house while she’s travelling with the campaign, next to the pink one.

***

A couple of weeks before the end of the campaign, Josh gets an invite to a party with Mandy Hampton from one of the big campaign donors. Mandy takes the morning off to go shopping then spends the afternoon parading the dress round the office. Hunched over the phones, Donna, Ginger and Bonnie watch her and try not to giggle when they catch each others’ eyes. Josh gets more and more annoyed with her as the day goes on, and it’s not helped by a set of polling numbers that show them taking a dip. He finally snaps around six and flings the invitation down on Donna’s desk as he storms out, followed by Sam.

“That what I think it is?” Bonnie asks when she hangs up from her call.

Donna turns the invitation right way up and reads it. “Josh Lyman and guest.” She looks up at Bonnie and grins. “Shame we don’t have anyone who could pretend to be Josh. Guess I’ll just be going on my own, meeting eligible, handsome, smart men… Oh, what a trial.”

Bonnie snatches the invitation from her hand. “Who says you’re going? Do you even have anything to wear?”

“I could find something.” There’s a boutique round the corner from her apartment that might still be open, but if not, she’s got a long dark blue skirt silk skirt she’s been waiting for a chance to wear, and a white satin vest.

“But I have the invitation.” Bonnie waves it in front of her face.

Across from her, Ginger gives up waiting for someone to pick up and hangs up. “What’s that?”

“Invitation to Josh’s fund raiser.” Bonnie slides the embossed card past Donna’s nose. “Think you could pass as Josh?”

Ginger flicks her long red hair over her shoulder and raises her eyebrows. “I’m not sure they’d be fooled,” she says. “Besides, I’ve already got plans.”

“Oh really?” Donna and Bonnie both lean in to her. “Date plans?”

“Maybe.” Ginger smiles and dials the next number on her list. While Bonnie’s still glaring at her, Donna swipes the invitation back and stuffs it into her bag.

She finds it when she gets home later than evening and drops it on the sofa while she eats her pasta. She thinks about it while she flicks through the channels with her remote.

It seems like fate when Jack rings to ask if she feels like doing something, and Donna manages to talk both of them into the party, just like she knew she could.

Jack drops her home early because she’s got to be in work for six, and she doesn’t tell Bonnie they went.

***

The Inaugural Ball is like nothing else Donna’s seen, just one more semi-unreal moment in what feels like a year of them, ever since they called the election for Dr – President Bartlett. Sometimes it seems like her ears are still ringing from the screams of the campaign staff.

The President doesn’t stay for long, just takes a couple of dances with his wife then slips out. According to Josh, he’s got six other Balls to put in an appearance at, which doesn’t strike Donna as very fair when they everyone else gets to stay inside in the warm.

Even after the President has gone, Donna stays in the corner with Bonnie and Ginger and Cathy. Margaret has Leo cornered, his eyes looking a little glazed, so Donna assumes she’s regaling him with more White House trivia. Leo, Donna thinks, is a man who knows how to wear a tux, like Sam. Of course, everyone looks good tonight, and the four of them, in their corner, look like they coordinated their dresses: Donna and Cathy in black, Ginger and Bonnie in white. Not for the first time, Donna’s glad she chose the more expensive dress, because the one she almost bought was white as well, and then Cathy would have been the odd one out and they would have looked ridiculous.

After a while, Sam comes over and asks Ginger to dance. She accepts, looking a little worried – Sam has a reputation as a dancer and not the good kind. A few minutes later, one of the other campaign staffers sweeps Cathy away.

Left alone with Bonnie, like newspaper print in their black and white dresses, sipping her champagne, Donna relaxes for the first time all evening.

***

Donna pushes the dry cleaning bags in her closet to one side: pink prom dress, red college ball gown, blue skirt from Josh’s party and her black dress from the Inauguration. Next to them, she hangs the newest bag and doesn’t think about the credit card bill she’ll get at the end of the month. It’ll be worth it.

She takes the dress out and looks at it every day in the week running up to the dinner with the French President. At work, Josh gets more and more stressed, and Bonnie tells her, over salads in the mess room, that they’ve switched Toby’s coffee to decaff cos they’re worried he’ll have a heart attack, he’s so tense.

None of it stops Donna from the thrill of excitement every time she thinks about the state dinner. She’s been to a couple of White House functions with the other assistants, when Josh and Toby and Sam remember – CJ always remembers Cathy, but they all agree that’s not a surprise. Doesn’t seem to matter though, that this isn’t the first thing she’s been to, it’s still the most important, and she wakes up smiling that morning, even as she struggles into work with her dress in a garment bag over her shoulder and her shoes and make-up in a plastic bag. Josh has been promising all week that she can leave early to change, but she’s been working with him for months now and she doesn’t believe that any more.

She’s right, too, she thinks later, standing in front of the mirror in the ladies’ room while she sweeps eye shadow carefully over her right eye lid. She’s waited till most people have disappeared and come back in their black tie, not wanting to look too eager, or to be over-dressed if she ends up having to do more work, but it officially starts in ten minutes and she’s meeting the others in Communications to go down together: she thinks they’re all nervous, though none of them will admit it, like the first time she had to speak to the President after he *was* the President, feeling over-whelmed by his title even though he was still the same guy who called her Dana for three months, when he remembered to call her anything at all.

She slips her eye shadow back into her make-up bag and fixes her mascara, then takes a step bag to assess the effect. The mirror’s not long enough for her to see her whole outfit, but she’s tried the dress on so many times she doesn’t need to. It’s the most beautiful thing she’s ever owned, floor-length, ice-pale purple, with tiny ribbons of silver beads running down the skirt to catch the light every time she moves. She’s got silver shoes, even though she’ll probably never wear them again, because they were on sale and she spent so much on the dress that she felt guilted into buying them.

Donna smoothes her skirt out once more and heads back to her desk. She feels kind of silly, all dressed up with a drug store bag in her hand, but a couple of staff from legal brush by her in their dinner jackets, arms brimming with folders, and she figures everyone’s working tonight.

She stows her bag in her desk drawer and stands up to find Bonnie leaning against the wall of her cubicle, smiling warmly. Donna’s heard about the dress but this is the first time she’s seen it, a wave of deep burgundy satin falling to just below her knee. “You look amazing,” she says.

“You too.” Bonnie keeps smiling and takes a couple of steps towards her. Donna can’t help glancing round the room, even though she knows it’s empty. Josh went down ages ago, and most of the other admin staff have gone for the night. “I told the others to go on, we’d catch up.” Bonnie’s fingertips trail lightly down Donna’s arm.

“Yeah?” Donna leans in, knowing what’s coming, what’s been coming now for weeks, since Josh’s party that she went to with Jack, or maybe even before that. After Frankie, she’s learned to see the signs, and she thinks for a moment how apt it is that she’s in a ball gown again when history repeats itself.

“Yeah,” Bonnie echoes, and tilts her head slightly and kisses Donna, lightly, on the lips, careful not to smudge their lipstick. Donna’s eyes slide closed anyway, the hand Bonnie’s not touching settling onto Bonnie’s exposed shoulder. Under her touch, Bonnie shudders.

“Do you…” Donna’s lips brush against Bonnie’s when she speaks, so she leans in and kisses her again. “Do you think anyone would notice if we weren’t there?”

“But you got all dressed up.” Bonnie punctuates the words with soft kisses. “You put on this beautiful dress, for the dinner.”

Donna will tell her, later, that she put on the beautiful dress because she wanted Bonnie to see her looking beautiful. Because she wanted to pretend that she was taking Bonnie to the dinner, that they might dance together, if the Presidents chose to dance, and that she wanted to make an effort for what she thought might be coming. That if she showed up looking beautiful, and Bonnie did as well, that maybe they wouldn’t be going home alone, but now they’ve skipped the courtship and the dinner, and Donna wants feather-light kisses on more than just her lips.

“There’s a seating plan,” Bonnie murmurs, misinterpreting Donna’s silence, or maybe interpreting it correctly. “We’ll mess it up.”

“We’ll mess up more than the seating plan,” Donna says, though she can’t believe she’s saying something that sounds so corny.

Bonnie giggles anyway. “People will notice.” She sounds serious, but she kisses Donna again, harder.

“I’ve not been feeling well all day,” Donna says solemnly. Bonnie raises her eyebrows dubiously. “Flushed,” she adds. “Light headed, almost feverish. In fact, it’s getting worse. I don’t think it would be wise for me to go to the dinner. I think you should take me home.”

“You do?” Bonnie’s eyes glitter with mischief and Donna presses against her for a long kiss, one that she’s sure will smudge their make-up.

“Mm,” Donna says when they break apart. “Weak knee'ed. You need to hold me up.”

Much later, Donna wakes up to see their dresses puddled together on the floor, getting wrinkles in them that it will take a good dry cleaner to get out again. She looks down at Bonnie, pressed against her, eyes flickering with dreams, and thinks it was completely worth it.

She tightens her arm a little more around Bonnie’s waist and hopes, as she drifts back into sleep, that Bonnie might, some day, hang her dress in the closet alongside Donna’s.

Tags:
Tuesday, June 27th, 2006 09:15 am (UTC)
Not my choice, but an absolutely great story.
Beautifully wrote slash, and great characterization, well done.
x
Wednesday, June 28th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)
Thanks - I'm glad it worked for you even though they're not your pairing.
Tuesday, June 27th, 2006 11:13 am (UTC)
Oh god, I was so awfully picky with my choices, wasn't I? Sorry! But it's an incredibly beautiful story. The idea of the five dresses is just aw! And Donna/Bonnie is a sweet pairing. I don't think I've ever read it before so it's nice to have something different to read!

"Guess I’ll just be going on my own, meeting eligible, handsome, smart men… Oh, what a trial.”
Oh, that is so Donna-esque!

Jack drops her home early because she’s got to be in work for six, and she doesn’t tell Bonnie they went.
Conniving!Donna.

...even though he was still the same guy who called her Dana for three months, when he remembered to call her anything at all.
The little anedotes are brilliant - that's a simple line but so true.

“There’s a seating plan,” Bonnie murmurs, misinterpreting Donna’s silence, or maybe interpreting it correctly. “We’ll mess it up.”
Hehe, that made me smile.

I really liked this story. Thank you!
Wednesday, June 28th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it. It was fun to try and work something out - took me four tries! but I loved imagining the dresses, so it was all good in the end.
Wednesday, June 28th, 2006 10:19 am (UTC)
Aww, aww, aww! I love the dresses. And the anecdotes, and Donna and Bonnie, but I love the dresses most.
Wednesday, June 28th, 2006 10:37 am (UTC)
Yeah, me too - I'd love to own any of them! Glad you liked it.
Sunday, July 2nd, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC)
Mmmm, frocks! This is a lovely interpretation of the request. It works beautifully, with the build up to the party and then ... something better. It's good to see the assistants together socially (and, sometimes, other ways *g*). I enjoyed this a lot.
Monday, July 3rd, 2006 07:40 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it. The assistants were the best part, at least in the beginning when we still got to see them.