Disclaimers, etc: see part 1
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Donna was very nervous walking into work the next morning. The familiar faces all of a sudden seemed removed. It was as though she'd morphed into a Martian; she was like them and yet not.

And dear God, how would she ever face Sam or Josh? She'd crept out of the apartment before dawn, so as not to wake him or alert reporters that something had gone on. She knew as well as anyone that they watched the White House employees.

But she also hadn't wanted to confront Sam with what she now knew. The reality was too new.

She managed a quiet "Good morning," as Bonnie smiled at her. She nodded to Ginger and sat down at her desk. Even without coffee, her brain was churning.

Sam had been at the office for some time when he saw her walk in. It broke his heart.

She looked nothing like herself. Donna's head was almost bowed, and she murmured greetings instead of her usual lively entrance. Not for the first time, he wondered if she felt taken advantage of.

He couldn't face her. Not today.

Settling down in his desk chair, Sam prepared to lose himself in work. However, Cathy soon banged on his door. "Sam, you got a minute?"

"That didn't last long." Sam inwardly sighed. "Who for?"

"Josh."

Sam caught his eyes as they were about to bug out of his head. "Uh... sure. I guess." What else could he say?

Josh walked in a moment later looking, for him, downtrodden. "Sam, what's going on?"

"Nothing," Sam said hastily. Perhaps too hastily? A bit more composed, he said, "Not a lot, Josh. What can I help you with?"

Josh raised an eyebrow. "Uh... nothing, really. I just wanted to apologize again about last night."

"I guess it's all right," Sam said. And it really was all right. At least for the time being.

"Also, Donna called last night, not too long after I stopped by your place, actually." Josh looked down, hands in pockets. "She sounded tired. And mad."

"Well, you scared her," Sam pointed out.

"I s'pose." Josh paused. "But... I don't know. Where could she have been last night?"

"How the hell should I know?" Sam asked rhetorically, hoping he wasn't turning pink. "She was probably with friends."

"Maybe. What happened, exactly, at the , unsure of what else to say. Finally he settled on a completely different subject. "Sam, I gotta ask... is that the suit you wore yesterday?"

Sam looked down in panic, then relaxed. Josh knew he'd had a woman in his apartment – he just didn't know which woman. And the suit was like enough that a question was perfectly plausible. "No, Josh," he said after conscious deliberation, "it isn't."

"Ah." Josh grinned and elbowed Sam a bit. "Just thought maybe you didn't take time to change your clothes this morning."

Sam smiled back, if a bit wanly. "That's the way it goes."

"So, tell me," Josh said, lascivious eyes grinning. "Who is she?"

Sam simply shook his head. No.

"Come on!"

"No."

"Why?"

"Because." Sam kept his face completely noncommittal.

Josh sighed. "You're no fun."

"Well, be that as it may, Josh." Sam stood. "Sorry you have to go, but I've got a meeting in ten minutes."

"Yeah, me too." Josh checked his watch. "I have to go over the new bills with the Planned Parenthood commission."

Sam could feel the blood rushing from his face. Jesus Christ... what was going on here? Was this God's idea of an elbow in the ribs?

The two men diverged courses, with Josh heading back to his office.

On the way, Josh wondered for the umpteenth time what was going on. Sam had seemed jumpy, and he was usually willing to share at least a few details of his sexual escapades. Go figure.

Arriving in his bullpen, Josh looked around for his assistant. They needed to talk.

He found her perched at her desk, head in hand, staring into space. Josh cleared his throat. "Donna." No effect was palpable; the woman continued to sit motionless. "Donna?" Finally he had to go for the direct approach. "Donna!"

"Aaah!" She screamed, jumping visibly. "Josh, you scared me!"

"I needed to talk to you." He felt ridiculously defensive. "I said your name three or four times."

"Well." Donna calmed herself. "That's your problem right there, Josh. Usually you don't just say my name. I'm so used to you screaming –" She broke off with a start. "I mean – yelling my name... that I respond to that. If someone calls me politely I don't tend to respond."

She spoke too much and said too little. Josh studied her face for a split second before responding. Something was up. "Well, Donna, I need you to do something for me."

"Sure, Josh." Her tone was too breezy. "What can I do you for – I mean... do for you?"

Josh shook his head. "Um... could you please get me the file on Planned Parenthood? I have a meeting in five minutes."

Donna only heard his first request. The rest of the speech was processed in a vacuum. This was not happening. What *was* happening? She mumbled something and ran out of the room, leaving a perplexed and worried Josh staring after her.

Chapter 7

 

 

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