Disclaimers/etc: see part 1

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C.J. was on her way out the door when she heard a harried knock on her door. "Come in!" she called. Whoever it was didn't sound like they could wait.

However, she was a bit surprised when Donna rushed in and flung herself down on the couch. "C.J., I need to talk to you."

C.J. decided that what she had to do could wait. Donna didn't look good. "Sure." She sat down in the chair opposite the assistant. "Are you okay?"

Donna took a deep breath; she had to calm down. "I think so," she said. "But I'm not so sure you're going to be."

C.J.'s heart jumped. "Donna," she said heavily, "what did you do?"

"Nothing, I swear!" Donna sighed, face pale and drawn. "It just got a little crazy last night."

C.J. was experiencing what could charitably be called heart palpitations. "What got a little crazy?"

Donna covered her face with her hands. "At Sam's."

C.J. sat back in her chair in stunned silence. Donna and... *Sam*? This was simply not happening. But by the look of it, Donna wasn't aware it was happening, either.

C.J. sighed, massaging the bridge of her nose. "Donna... what happened last night?" Her heart twisted in her chest. This would be so difficult for all involved.

The other woman looked away. "Nothing," she repeated in a quieter tone. "He just... Josh is dating Ainsley, and that made Sam and me very upset."

"Josh is dating Ainsley." Had she stepped into some parallel universe unawares?

"Well, we thought at the time he was dating Ainsley," Donna clarified. "That made us angry and hurt."

"Because you love Josh, and Sam loves Ainsley."

"Right." Donna colored. "Well... we got drunk, and he wanted to take me back to his place so I'd be safer. He slept on the couch," she added quickly.

"Thank God for small favors," C.J. mumbled.

Donna continued. "Anyway. We were about to go to sleep, when... he just kissed me. But the scary part, C.J., is that I kissed him back." She sighed. "And things were... getting interesting..." Donna blushed. "When Josh knocked on the door."

"Omigod!" C.J. was horrified.

"Josh didn't see me," Donna assured her. "Sam told me to stay out of sight and got rid of him quickly. Something about pants and a Republican." She paused and in that one moment her composure collapsed. "God, C.J., I sound like a hardened criminal or something. And this morning, Josh called me and I was all nervous and I said something about screaming my name..." She stopped, blinking back the tears that threatened her equilibrium.

Trying to find a place to start, C.J. hemmed and hawed. "Donna... so are you saying you've got a crush on Sam but you guys don't want to hurt Josh's feelings?"

Donna looked at the other woman. Hesitantly she spoke. "I guess that's right."

C.J. sighed. "Donna. You can't just say, 'okay, I love someone.' How do you feel about Sam?"

"Well, does it matter?" Donna shrugged. "How do I know how he feels about me?"

C.J. looked at her witheringly. "You ask him."

"Are you nuts?"

C.J. tried another tack. "Do you *want* to jump three feet in the air every time you see Josh?"

Donna bit her lip. "No."

"So you talk to Sam, and then you go from there."

For C.J. it was all a practical matter, of course, Donna reflected bitterly. She hadn't been there last night when Josh was at the door.

But it wouldn't do any harm to talk to Sam. Even if nothing happened between them, Donna told herself, they still needed to talk. If nothing else, Josh deserved to know why she'd been so crazy this morning.

So she spoke. "I guess I could go talk to Sam."

"Good." C.J. rose. "Do that." Just for a moment, though, her professional reserve melted. "Donna, seriously. Just... I hope this works out."

Donna smiled and rose as well. "Thanks." The younger woman made to walk out of the office. "I hope it works out, too." She opened the door and walked down to the communications bullpen.

C.J. was about to leave when another knock came on her door, this time a slightly less frenzied one. "Come in."

She was not at all surprised when a hesitant Sam entered the room. "C.J., do you have a minute?"

"Sure." C.J. perched on the edge of her desk, having a good idea what he was about to say."

Sam took a dep breath, then blurted it all out. "Last night after you saw Donna and me at the party we saw Josh kissing Ainsley. It turned out to be some sort of prank, but we didn't know that. We got pretty drunk, and we went to my place, cause we were drunk and I didn't want her going home alone. But when we were getting ready for bed – me on the couch, her in my bed – I just, sort of, well, I kissed her." He paused. "And we almost..."

C.J. could guess the rest of the story. "I get it." This would really not be good. "And?"

"And, Donna's avoiding me. And I think I have to tell Josh but I don't want him to kill me."

"Makes sense." C.J. debated how to answer, and finally was honest. "Sam, you have to talk to her. And to him."

"Yeah, I know." Sam sighed. "I s'pose I just had to hear you say it."

"Yeah." C.J. smiled faintly. "You haven't done anything that I'd kill you for, either. Don't worry."

"Okay." Sam stood and made to leave. "So, I have to write a speech today. I have to go tell Donna that I like her but I didn't want to take advantage of her, and I have to go tell my best friend that I'm stealing his girl that really isn't his girl."

"Right." When Sam got in a mood like this it was difficult to understand him, but C.J.'d had years of practice. "Just go."

"Okay."

As Sam went to open the door, however, it was wrenched open by someone on the other side. As the oak slab was swung away, Sam came face to face with his best friend. A best friend who looked hurt, crushed and angry.

"Josh." Sam's tone had gone hoarse, and he had paled just a bit.

"Sam." Josh tried hard to keep his tone calm.

C.J. sensed she was not needed. "Guys, I got a briefing. Please don't kill each other."

"It's okay, C.J." Josh called after her, turning his gaze back onto Sam. "Honestly," he said to the other man, "I'm not pissed that you almost slept with Donna."

Sam was wary. "You're not?"

"No." A bit of the hidden vitriol in Josh's tone came out. "I'm pissed 'cause you didn't tell me straight away. This morning. All that jumping around. You scared me!"

"I'm sorry."

"No. You scared me. I thought something horrible had happened." Josh was shaking with anger now. "I was working up the nerve to ask Donna what had happened when I had to talk to C.J. I heard everything."

Sam couldn't look Josh in the eye. "I'm sorry."

"Yeah, well." Sam had to strain to hear Josh speak. "I can't be pissed at you for almost sleeping with Donna 'cause it was my prank that drove you to it."

Sam did not speak.

Josh faced Sam with pain brimming in his eyes. "I do have a question, though."

"What?"

"Do you love her?"

He had to be honest. "I don't know."

The reply was swift and decisive. "Well, if you don't, let her be with someone who does." With that Josh walked slowly away.

Chapter 8

 

 

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