Kiki's Comments on Mend

Kiki was evidentally on some really good chocolate while beta'ing Part 3: The Date. This is her color commentary, via Chris and Elliot, throughout Dan and Donna's first date. Warning: do not ingest beverages while reading, or they will be decorating your monitor. Kiki's comments are in italics.

"This is very nice," Donna said, after they'd ordered their drinks (whiskey sour for Donna, who didn't have to work; club soda for Dan, who did). "Kind of cozy and elegant."

"Yeah, it's a good place to talk. Quiet and--" Someone did something stupid on the football field and the crowd at the bar groaned and catcalled noisily. Dan squeezed his eyes shut. "I don't know them, honestly."

*laugh* It could be worse. They could be in a bar in D.C., dealing with Donna's co-workers....
Donna ducked her head, her hair hiding her face; he was still pretty sure she was grinning. "It's all right. You should hear the West Wing during the World Series. I assure you, when the Yankees are two runs down, no one's paying any attention to running the country."

"Well, that's certainly a comforting thing to hear. So we're safe as long as no one declares war in the bottom of the ninth?"

"Probably." Donna's forehead wrinkled thoughtfully. "And even if they did, I'm fairly certain we could put the game on one of the monitors in the Situation Room."

Dan's laughter attracted the attention of the gang at the bar; he sent a visual death threat their way and they all became instantly engrossed in the game again. When he looked back at the table, he found Donna pressing her lips together, trying to control her expression.

"Oh, go ahead, laugh," he sighed, with a wide gesture of permission. "I forgot half the crew would be hanging out here before the show. We're going to have an audience."

"Like that's new. One of the things I'm really looking forward to after we get out of the White House is long, extended periods of time with no cameras and no reporters anywhere near me." She stopped abruptly. "Um, present company excluded?"

"No problem. I'm an anchor, I never take reporter jokes personally." The waiter came over with their drinks and they spent a few minutes with their menus. By the time they'd ordered, Donna's blush had almost faded. Dan regretted that a little; making Donna blush was almost as much fun as making her smile.

Good dude. Besides, he's a sports guy. Different animal altogether. You have your political reports (rakus muckus muchus) and your sports reporters (gamus conflictus dudes) and your entertainment reporters (paparrazzius moscas) .... < g >
"So," he said after the waiter left, propping his elbows on the table and lacing his hands together. "What are you going to do after you get out of the White House? That's only a few more months, right?"

Donna shrugged, playing with her water glass. The ice cubes tinkled quietly against the sides. "Election Day in a little over two weeks, then we get kicked out on January 20, so we can all go home and sleep for the next three years. I know CJ's looking forward to it. She says her nervous breakdown is scheduled for January 21 and by god, she's gonna keep that date."

*snerk* After who-knows-how-many she's had to cancel...
"That's not a lady I'd expect to be saving up for a breakdown. She's pretty impressive."

"Yes, she is." Donna's swift smile was warm with pride and affection. "She kind of... holds us all together. I don't know what we'd do without her."

We love CJ. Really we do. Let's elect her president of NOW, okay?
"So CJ's going to have a breakdown, and everyone else is going to sleep," Dan summarized. "What are you going to do after you wake up?"

Uh-oh. That was a sore point, judging from Donna's sigh. Way to go, Rydell.

"Well, that's the big question," she answered slowly. "I applied to a lot of grad schools -- Berkeley, NYU, George Washington -- and got in, but Sam and the President and Leo--"


"McGarry -- our Chief of Staff. Anyway, they want me to stay close, to start Georgetown with Charlie in January. Law school. The semester starts a week before Inauguration, when we're all going to be unemployed anyway, so the timing's good. But... I don't know."

Me, I'd go to Disneyland. (I'm just sayin'....)

"Law school, huh? What's your undergrad degree in? No, wait," Dan said before she could answer. "I'm going to display my incredible psychic powers. You majored in...." He held a hand to his forehead, and looked intently up at the ceiling, before snapping his fingers and pointing at her. "Political science."

"Very impressive," Donna nodded, her eyes very wide and filled with insincerity instead of shadows. Dan liked that much better. "Now tell me my minor."

He started the ESP routine again, then abruptly dropped his hands and shrugged. "You got me. No idea."

"So much for psychic powers," Donna commented wryly. "Communications and women's studies."

"And another shocker from Ms. Moss." He leaned back in his chair. "So, they want law school. What do you want?"

She smiled a sad little smile and shook her head. "Nothing I can have."

Well, that was a conversation stopper. As Dan groped helplessly for a response, Donna shook her head again, more sharply, closing her eyes for a second. When she re-opened them, the shadows were mostly back under control. "How old were you before you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up?"

He blinked at the non-sequitor. "Who says I'm grown up?" Her lips curved up politely at the weak joke, but her eyes didn't leave him. Dan sighed, resigned to being serious, and leaned forward in his chair, propping his elbows on the table again.

"I don't know," he said thoughtfully. "I guess... I was always into sports, playing them and watching them, but I never wanted to go pro at anything. It's weird, almost un-guy-like, I know, but I didn't want to be the guy on the field. I wanted to be the guy up in the booth yelling, 'The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!'"

Catching Donna's amused look, Dan realized he was waving his arms around and stopped. "Anyway," he continued sheepishly, "for... well, for a number of reasons, I got into broadcast, and about 8 years ago I got teamed with Casey in Dallas and -- boom. That was it. It was like I just knew that this was what I was supposed to be doing, and this was who I was supposed to be doing it with."

He stopped again, a little embarrassed, and took a sip of his water. "Sounds crazy, huh?"

"No." Donna shook her head, that bittersweet smile just touching her lips again. "I know exactly what you mean. When I met...." She broke off and shook her head again, saying simply, "I was there once. I know."

Okay. He was pretty sure he knew what that was about. He was also pretty sure that going into it would be a Bad Idea, so he cast around frantically for another conversational gambit.

And the guys at the bar are going, "Oh, dear. Rydell fumbles the conversation, but he's still in the game. Can he make a full recovery tonight? I don't know, Elliot, I've seen Dan come back from situations much worse than this.... He's got the endurance and the attitude, and that's what really counts...."


(Okay, *now* I've got these same jokers commenting on Daniel Jackson's Extreme Dating habits....

"There's a man who can go--- All The Way. Yes, sportsfans, there is no woman too scary, no female too psycho, for SG-1's Dr. Jackson. This man's record speaks for itself, and it screams louder than a T-shirt with the words NO FEAR emblazoned across the front: truly, in this world of dating cowards, an inspiration to us all....")

< roll eyes at idiot sports dudes. Go home, fellas! >

'Oh, very nice, Donna,' she snarled at herself in silent disgust. 'Dating 101: How not to carry on a dinnertime conversation. Maybe you should have let Zoey give you that briefing before you left the hotel. And CJ thought this was such a good idea.... I should have listened to Sam.'

No, no no no ! No listening to Overprotective Boy! Or you might as well take that vow to abjure men and get a wimple! No listening to him!
"So, you said you had to go to a 'rundown' meeting at 8," Donna said out loud, with determined cheer that she hoped didn't sound as forced as it felt. "What's that? I assume you don't just sit around insulting each other, although that's what it sounds like."

Dan looked startled at the sudden change in mood and topic, but rallied quickly.

("He's down, ladies and gentlemen, but he's not out yet. Dan Rydell does not give up, as those of you who remember the Rebecca Fiasco of '99 as well as we do, can attest...")
"No, no, some nights that's actually pretty close to how it goes." She smiled and nodded her head to encourage him. "Well, rundown is when we go over the plans for the show -- what's going to go where, how long it's going to be, who has to pad their story and who has to cut theirs. Kind of like going into a huddle right before a football game, if you want to really misuse a sports metaphor."

"So what's on the show tonight?"

Dan lifted his eyebrows at her -- apparently her 'I'm fascinated' face needed more work -- but straightened in his chair, folding his hands on the table. "Well, we've got the Tennessee Tigers tearing up Texas, the Blue Devils raising hell at Ohio State, and the Bulldogs sinking their teeth into UT-A," he announced in a professional 'sportscaster' voice. "Plus, we'll take you to Los Angeles, where the Irish can't fight their way past the Air Force. All that coming up after this."

"Is that your opening for tonight?" Donna laughed as he finished. "You sound just like you do on the air."

("And Rydell plays the Sports Voice card, and comes back yet again. The Sports Voice never fails. All hail... the Sports Voice.")
"Hey, I'll have you know Casey and I slave for hours over those lead-ins. They're a very serious part of our jobs." His lopsided grin spoiled the lofty declaration. "But yeah, that's what the lead-in is, unless something critical and earthshaking happens in the sporting world in the next two hours."

"And that would be defined as?"

"What, critical and earthshaking?" He shrugged. "I don't know... the Big Ten seceding from the NCAA? The Mets and the Yankees deciding to merge since they're in the same city anyway? The re-formation of the XFL?"

"Anything but that last one would be fine."

"Amen. The Mets/Yankees thing would be pretty interesting, actually. Not on the level of, you know, peace treaties being signed or anything, but it would definitely be a great story to break."

Donna caught herself relaxing, letting herself enjoy listening to a very cute man talk about his obviously beloved job. This wasn't so bad. She could do this. "So what's the best story you've ever broken?"

"Best story as in coolest, or best story as in biggest of my career?"

"Are they different?"

"Oh, yeah."

"Okay." She settled herself, resting her elbows on the table and her chin on her hands. "Tell me both."

He's funny, he's cute, he's got a fun job... Can I date him? : > (I'm glad that he's dating Donna, though. She needs to date someone who does the dating thing like skiing the easy course at Aspen.)
Their meals arrived in the middle of his story about a football star named Christian Patrick, his assault on Natalie, the small brunette she'd met at the party, and the hard decision the 'Sports Night' crew had had to make about an interview with the jerk. Over lasagna (his) and chicken parmigiana (hers), he spun another story about The Tennis Player Who Would Not Die. She countered with Senator Stackhouse's filibuster from the year before, and they compared notes on how to kill time while waiting for someone to lose/stop talking.

The crowd at the bar got noisier, and Dan shouted at them good-naturedly a few times to "hold it down, already, people are trying to eat." He was pretty much ignored.


("As Rydell plays to the crowd, I think we can say that tonight's date is in the bag. A second date is almost *certainly* assured if dessert is ordered, don't you agree, Elliot?"

"Chris, I'm almost with you there, but remember, many dates have been lost over coffee, just as the final exit is discussed. The win-or-lose moment in many dating events is the good-night kiss, the invitation home, or the walk in the park: so don't discount any of these factors before Rydell gets her out the door. There's still plenty of room for *total* defeat before the lights go out."

"This is Date Night, with Chris & Elliot, and we'll be back to you right after we slam these beers.")

[Um, apologies. Too much caffiene... : > ]

Over dessert (spumoni and cannoli), they compared the hazards of the JFK Expressway with the perils of the Beltway, and debated whether National Airport was less of a pain in the neck than LaGuardia. Dan almost choked on his drink during Donna's straight-faced retelling of Charlie's death-defying (and Secret Service-defying) marriage proposal to Zoey; he reduced her to helpless giggles with The Many Catastrophes of Casey and Dana's Wedding.

By the time the check came, Donna was starting to remember what having a good time felt like. Naturally, that was when Dan looked at his watch and sighed, "Damn. I've got to get back upstairs pretty soon."

She was actually disappointed, but started gathering her coat and purse without comment. "Another rundown meeting?"

"Yeah. One last chance for Dana and Natalie to freak out, then makeup and wardrobe. We're on the air in about an hour-fifteen." He signed the check when the waiter brought it back, and helped Donna out of her chair with exaggerated courtesy. "Want to walk back to Rockefeller with me?"

He looked at her hopefully when he asked, like he wanted an excuse to prolong the date, and something quiet and warm spread through her stomach. "Sure. I'd like that."

The noise from the bar got louder as they left; Donna swore she could see Dan's cheeks reddening as he waved his coworkers off. "I really am sorry about them," he apologized once they were out on the street.

("As Dan's fans cheer as he leaves the bar *with* his date of the evening, we're celebrating this awesome, once-a-year event, a Rydell victory over the forces of total cluelessness and feminine unpredictability. The possibility, that he will in fact, see this woman again--- when she's not serving him a restraining order. I am moved."

"Moved. That's the exact word, Elliot. I think I have a tear in my eye."

"Dan-ny! Dan-ny!")

(Go home, dudes! sheesh! Get lives!)

And Kiki regressed in the beta of the final part...

Donna thought about it for a moment, then turned around to let Dan put the jacket around her shoulders. She slipped her arms into the sleeves and he put a hand at the small of her back, escorting her into the bullpen.

Even in the hectic stream of pre-show preparations, they got a few curious looks; Dan saw money changing hands more than once and made a mental note to find out who'd been running the pool so he could demand a cut.

*more giggling* Heeee.... ("Yes, Elliot, as we can see, Dan the Man has come back from break to bring us a surprise upset! Not only a second date, but she is wearing his jacket on the *second encounter*! I haven't seen progress this encouraging since prior to the Rebecca Debacle. We may have to bench Danny from the Singles Tournaments yet...")

Kiki's intake of caffiene and chocolate has once again been restricted...