Everyone was sad to see Sam go. Jed's speech at the sendoff dinner even had Simon wiping a tear or two, although granted, they might have been tears of relief; Simon's head was still wrapped in gauze from that time Sam accidentally stumbled into the judges' table and knocked Simon off the stage. It was, in retrospect, not that surprising that Sam had been voted off the show.
Regardless, the party was a somber event. Sam's bright smile looked kind of pasted on, and Josh was mulling around the room with a pout, and Allison kept pouncing on Sam with surprise hug attacks and then going back to her seat, looking like she was about to cry. Donna sighed into her cheesecake. Losing more people every week was going to suck. Assuming she wouldn't be the next to go. Which would also, you know. Suck.
Someone nudged Donna's shoulder. "Hey, come on, don't look so bummed." Donna lifted her head to see Adam settle down beside her, a warm smile on his face, and couldn't help smiling back. Smiling Adam was like an instant shot of feel-good. It was no wonder he was the last guy they let the contestants see before going up on stage. "You made it through another week!" he said. "You should be celebrating."
"I'm not bummed," she protested. "I'm..."
Adam quirked his eyebrows. "Morose?"
"Shut up," she smiled.
He tapped the table. "Emo," he decided.
"Um, no, that would be Joshua over there," she said, pointing at Josh, who was now sitting forlornly at the corner with CJ, who was patiently petting his hair. It looked really soft. Donna wondered what it would feel like between her fingers, and then distracted herself with another bite out of her cheesecake. "He and Sam had a, you know." She swallowed her bite. "A thing."
"You know." She gestured with her fork. "A rapport."
Adam looked at her knowingly. "I think Josh has a rapport with a few other people who are still on the show."
"Oh, totally," Donna agreed. "He and Dan are practically soulmates by now."
Adam rolled his eyes. "Right, I was talking about them."
Well, it was true. Josh and Dan had bonded even before the show started. It was during Hollywood week, when the directors had finally started paying attention to some of the overlooked contestants, and every time they'd returned from an interview session with the camera crew Josh had an angry look on his face, and Dan's jaw was clenched so hard that Donna's ached in sympathy, and it was only when the show started airing and Donna watched the first episodes that she understood why. Thank God her own life was boring enough to only warrant marketing as a country farmgirl, instead of as a sob story.
Now, Dan was in the middle of an animated conversation with Gokey – although with Dan and Danny, animated conversation was usually just a polite way to describe heated arguments about anything from sports to politics to what currently sounded like the politics of sports. Dan must have noticed Donna looking at him, because suddenly he was giving her the same accusing stare that everyone seemed to give her in association with Gokey. "It's not my fault we're from the same state," she muttered darkly, and Adam didn't even raise an eyebrow at the non-sequitur, just pushed the cheesecake closer with a grin. She pondered it for a moment, and then relented and took another bite. "Seriously," she said, feeling the sweetness melt on her tongue, "are you trying to make me gain weight before I've even reached the final ten?"
"Donnatella Moss, I am not afraid to hit a girl, but I will do it," he said pointedly.
"Did you just threaten to hit Donna?" a new voice said in a low, curious drawl. It was one of the lighting techs, the short one – his name was on the tip of Donna's tongue. He sat down on Adam's other side, setting a plate of cookies on the table. "Because I gotta say, man, I'm pretty sure she'll take you down."
"Nice," Adam said dryly, and took a cookie. "Probably accurate, though," he admitted.
Donna smirked, and then thought screw it, and grabbed a cookie herself, eavesdropping on other conversations as she munched.
"Don't do it," Toby was telling CJ.
"It's an awesome song, Toby," CJ said.
"Yeah, it is. Don't do it."
"It's The Jackal! It's an awesome song, and I sound awesome doing it."
"Yeah, you do. And yet I say, do not perform The Jackal."
"Toby," she said with a tinge of exasperation.
Toby crossed his arms. "Remember what I told Sam when he wanted to sing Gilbert and Sullivan on American Idol?"
CJ sighed. "Don't do it."
"Don't do it, I said. And Sam did. And look where he is now."
Sam was actually looking pretty cheerful at the moment, chatting with Seacrest with Allison clinging to his shoulders, but Donna recognized it was somewhat beside the point.
Jed, strolling up with a cheese platter, said, "Don't listen to him, CJ. He told me not to do it either, and I'm still here. And all I wanted was to sing some Elvis," he added.
Toby scowled at him. "In Latin."
Jed shrugged, grinning. "People seemed to like it."
"Yeah, I'm still not discounting voodoo," Toby muttered.
"Hey, that's the Bartlet guy, right?" the lighting tech – Kris! That was his name – asked. Adam nodded. "I've heard people talking about him."
"He's—" Donna struggled to find a word. "Inspiring," she settled finally.
"Singing Elvis in Latin," Kris said, shaking his head. "Think America's gonna vote for him?"
"I don't make predictions," Adam said. "I'm just the makeup guy."
But Donna looked at how despite the fact that it was Sam's party, everyone was suddenly focused on Jed, staring at Toby, unwavering, a hint of amusement on his face.
"Yes," she said firmly, suddenly sure. "Yes. I think he's got a shot."