Disclaimers/etc: see part 1
This is getting to the more angsty part. Nonetheless, enjoy! ~C

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The rest of the week passed quickly. For Josh, it was closer and closer to sweet retribution. He'd worked out all the details with Ainsley and was looking forward to Friday so he could make sure that Sam knew who was the Prank King.

The night of the party finally arrived. It was a clear night, slightly muggy. Sam knocked on the door of Donna's apartment a bit late. "Donna, it's Sam!" he called through the closed door.

"Be right with you!" Donna called. "I'm just finishing up."

"Well, we're already a little late."

"I know!" Donna evidently gave up and walked out of her room. "Sam, excuse the request, but could you zip this thing up? I can't reach."

Without batting an eye Sam reached and took up the zipper that was at the moment halfway down Donna's back. "Not a problem." Gallantly he slid it all the way to the top. "There. Now you're decent, and we can go."

Donna rolled her eyes. "Thanks." She noticed for the first time of what Sam was wearing. "You look really nice, by the way."

"I could say the same." Donna had on a simple green sheath that showed off her blonde hair.

"Thanks." Donna opened the door. "Shall we?"

"Let's." The two strolled out.

The soiree was already crowded by the time they walked in the door. Sam and Donna melted into the crowd. They saw a few familiar faces: Leo, Toby, Ginger and her date, C.J. looking bored. Upon seeing the latter, Donna said, "Let's go say hi."

"Sure." The two headed over until they were close enough, and Sam tapped the press secretary on the shoulder. "Hey, C.J."

"Hi, Sam. Hey, Donna." C.J. Cregg said. "How's it going? Who are you guys here with?"

"Oh, things are fine," Donna chirped. "And actually, we're here together. Just as friends," she was quick to add.

"Oh." C.J. nodded. "Did you just get here?"

"Yeah, just a minute ago." Sam responded. "Is everyone else here?"

"Everyone but the President."

"Well, yeah."

"Hey," Donna said, slightly changing the subject. "Have you seen Josh?"

"Um..." C.J. thought for a moment. "I think he's out on the veranda. I only saw him for a minute. Why?"

"Just wondering," Donna responded. "I just wanted to find out who he's with."

C.J. couldn't keep the smile off her face. "Why?"

"No reason," Donna said, praying she sounded nonchalant. "Just curiosity. He wouldn't tell me who his date is."

"Oh." C.J. left off teasing. "I think you'll find him on the veranda out there. And I didn't see his date either, except that she's blonde."

"Really." Sam smiled. "That could be a lot of women in the office."

"True." C.J. started to walk away. "Well, when you find him, tell me who she is."

"Will do." Donna and Sam watched as the press secretary dissolved into the crowd.

Once she was gone, Sam turned to Donna. "Donna, do you want to actually talk to him, or do you just want to see who he's with?"

After just a moment's hesitation, Donna answered. "I just want to see who his date is. I don't want to think about him tonight."

"Okay. Then let me go see. I'll be right back."

"Fine."

Sam walked leisurely away from Donna in the direction that C.J. had pointed out. The night was still clear, but getting a bit cold. Walking through the French doors, Sam strode out onto the terrace, looking for his best friend's familiar form.

He walked to the left, slowly taking steps while admiring the moonlight. There were a few couples sitting on the stone railing, taking in the night air. Sam watched them and admired the way the light shone off one woman's blonde hair. Her companion was slightly taller and had an affectionate arm around her.

Then he heard it. "Ainsley, I'm glad you decided to come with me to this party."

And the sickening rejoinder. "Josh, I was wrong about you. You are a gentleman and a wonderful date."

Sam abruptly turned, feet skidding like a drunk on ice. He lurched back into the room, face pale and senses rebelling. He could not have heard what he had just heard!

And Donna was waiting for him; soft, gentle Donna. How the hell could he tell her this?

She ran to him immediately. "Sam, is everything okay? You look like you've seen a ghost."

Trying to calm down, Sam looked at her. Every line in her face was full of worry. How could he do this to such a good friend? And how big a fool was Josh to not know how Donna felt?

Sam finally spoke. "Donna, I did find Josh. But his date is... well, not someone you'd expect."

Her brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"

"Donna..." Sam paused. "Josh is here with Ainsley Hayes."

She stared at him blankly for a moment. Then, from within her came a recognizeable sound. Laughing heartily, she put a hand on his shoulder. "Sam, you're joking. Right?"

He shook his head, just once.

Her brain took in the words. "Josh... is here... with Ainsley?"

"Yeah." Sam sighed, propelling his disbelief and anger and resentment out into the atmosphere. Josh knew damn well that *he* had been wanting to ask Ainsley out for the longest time.

Donna sighed. "Let me look for myself."

"Donna –"

Without another word she strode off. Sam waited anxiously, fearful of what might happen.

She wasn't gone long, but when she reappeared she was a shade of white that Sam had never seen before. "Let's go get a drink," she said tightly.

"Are you sure?"

"Sam –" Donna's tone was low and full of hurt. "He kissed her."

Sam closed his eyes against the twinge of pain. Jesus *Christ.* Without another word he took her arm and they headed for the door.

Chapter 4

 

 

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