Title: Radiant, Chapter 10
Disclaimer: Alas, these characters are not mine.
Rating: This chapter is PG-13. Later parts will probably get to R. This does deal with some adult themes, although it is not at all graphic.
Pairing: Josh/Donna
Category: Angst, romance, AU.
Feedback: Always appreciated.
Archiving: Please ask.
Timeline: The week before Thanksgiving of the year before reelection.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Rick, Lauren, and Meg for all their help.

A/N: I've played with the timeline a bit, but it goes AU very quickly so it really doesn't matter. In my universe, Donna is Catholic, and has no close family, because it was easier for me to work things out the way I wanted that way. Also, Charlie and Zoey are still together.

"So who's the father?" They had barely made it into the room when the question rang out.

"No no no." CJ shook her head. "I told you guys the rules. If you want to spend your time asking hundreds of staffers this question, feel free, but you've got to do it one by one. And you should probably be more specific. We all know that Leo is a father, but I have a feeling that isn't what you were trying to ask."

"Okay. Mr. McGarry, are you the father of Ms. Moss's child?"

"No, I am not." It was clear that it was taking all of Leo's self-control to leave it at that.

"Who's next?" CJ asked. "Martha."

"Mr. Lyman, may I ask you a question?" she began with exaggerated formality.

Josh rolled his eyes.

"Go ahead, Martha."

"Mr. Lyman, are you the father of Donna Moss's baby?"

Josh paused and then looked the reporter directly in the eye.

"No comment."

The room erupted into pandemonium, and what seemed like a million flashbulbs went off in Josh's face.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," CJ said over the din. "Everybody settle down or we're leaving right now. Martha, you seem to have a follow-up?"

"Thanks, CJ. Mr. Lyman, was that an admission of responsibility?"

"No comment means no comment, Martha," Josh said firmly. "There is no reason why any of you – or the American public – should feel entitled to personal information about Ms. Moss just because she works at the White House. She is not an elected official, and the identity of her child's father has no bearing on the work she does to serve her country. Donna Moss is a private citizen and is entitled to her privacy. Therefore, I have no comment on the matter."

CJ finally managed to get the reporters back on track so that the other men could answer the question as planned. When Sam said "no comment," there was some rolling of eyes as the press corps surmised that they wouldn't be getting anything else out of the senior staff. But Toby's scathing "No, of course I'm not" got them interested again, and Charlie's "no comment" sparked a flurry of questions about his relationship with Zoey. CJ finally ended the briefing and the six of them escaped to CJ's office.

"Well, that went well," CJ said once the door was closed.

"Really?" Josh asked. He couldn't tell if she was being sarcastic.

"Yes, really. Or at least it went as well as we could have hoped," CJ clarified.

"Josh is still going to be the story," Leo said, resigned.

"Yes, but we definitely got some play with the Zoey angle," CJ pointed out. "And once they settle down and look at their notes, they'll bring Sam into it too."

"Josh, what you said was actually pretty – eloquent," Toby told him. Josh knew that was high praise: Toby didn't compliment other people's language lightly. "Let's hope that the actual quote will become part of the story. Maybe it will start to teach people a thing or two."

"Thanks." Josh was touched.

Just then, a tentative knock came at the door. CJ opened it and gestured for Donna to come in.

"Thanks, guys," Donna said as she entered the office. "All of you. This means a lot to me." Her eyes scanned the small group and landed on Josh. "Josh, your tie is crooked," she told him.

"Maybe you should fix it," he responded gently.

Donna quickly crossed the room to him and straightened his tie. "Thank you," she whispered again as she leaned over to kiss his cheek.

"Any time," he whispered back.

"Okay, everybody," Leo said. "Enough of the mushy stuff. Back to work."


"So, what exactly are we supposed to be talking about, here?" Josh asked as he sat down on Sam's couch with a beer.

"Well, first we're going to figure out what to order for dinner, and then I'm going to convince you that you're subconsciously in love with Donna."

Josh barely glanced at the menu Sam handed him.

"Pasta primavera, and I'm not subsconsciously in love with Donna," he stated casually.

"WHAT?" Sam stared at him.

"I'm not," Josh insisted.

"No, back to the pasta. You know that pasta primavera involves vegetables, right?" Sam asked.

"I've heard rumors."

"You don't like vegetables."

"I hear they're good for me," Josh replied.

"Since when do you care about that?" Sam looked skeptical.

"This kid's not going to be in Little League for, like, six years," Josh explained. "I can't drop dead of a heart attack before that, because can you imagine Donna trying to teach the kid about baseball? Besides, if it's a girl – well, you know Donna's questionable taste in men. I shudder to think what might happen if she's in charge of deciding who her daughter gets to date. So I need to be around for, oh, another thirty years at least."

Sam stared at his friend, stunned.

"I'm starting to think Donna's taste in men is improving," he muttered.

"What?" Josh asked.

"Who are you and what have you done with Josh Lyman?"

Josh shrugged. "Go order the food."

Sam returned a few minutes later.

"Twenty minutes," he told Josh.

"Okay. Do you think you'll be done grilling me by then?"

"I doubt it." Sam grinned. "I've barely even started."

Josh rolled his eyes. "Go ahead."

"So you have that whole spiel about Little League and extending your life expectancy, and yet you still insist that you're not subconsciously in love with Donna?"

"I am not subconsciously in love with Donna," Josh stated with conviction. "I am very, extremely consciously in love with Donna."



"So this whole plan I had to get you to admit your feelings to yourself – it isn't necessary?"

"Not so much." Josh couldn't hide a grin.

"So we move on to phase two."

"Great," Josh groaned. "What's phase two?"

"Getting you to admit your feelings to, you know, DONNA."

"I will."


"I'm not sure. Can't you see that the timing isn't very good right now?"

"I suppose, but are you just being you and using that as an excuse? You didn't tell her before."

"I was going to."

"Uh-huh . . ." Sam looked skeptical.

"I was. I can prove it if you want."


Josh took a folded piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to Sam for inspection. Sam read it quickly and looked back at his friend.

"So . . . the President knows."


"And Charlie, apparently. Who else?"

"The First Lady. And my mom, more or less."

"And this paper suggests that you were planning to tell Donna a few weeks ago?"


"So why didn't you?"

"Because that's the day she told me she was pregnant."



"And this was why you had waited so long in the first place?" Sam asked, waving the paper. "I mean, because you were worried about fallout at work?"

"That was one of the reasons," Josh said noncommittally. "It's not an unreasonable concern, Sam."

"No, it's not," Sam mused. "So how long?"

"How long what?"

"When did you fall in love with her?"

"Probably when I first talked to her in my office in Nashua," Josh said. "But it WAS subconscious then."

"And when did it become conscious?"

"At Rosslyn."

"You mean afterward, when she was taking care of you?"

"No. That night." Josh paused, preparing himself to discuss the events of that awful evening. "After I'd been shot, before Toby found me . . . I was sitting there, watching the blood pour out of me, knowing I was dying, and all I could think was that I loved her and now I'd never have a chance to tell her."

"Wow. So that's why you . . . the will thing makes more sense now."

"Good." Josh stood up and stretched. "Can we check the news or something? I need a break from your interrogation here."

"Sure." Sam knew that discussing anything to do with the shooting could be hard on his friend. "Then while we eat we'll discuss the plan."

"What plan?"

"The telling Donna plan."

Sam flipped on CNN and they started to debate the best way to get out in front of what the Republicans were trying to pull with the education bill. It wasn't until they were settled back on the couch with take-out containers and their second beers that Sam brought the conversation back to the topic of the evening.

"You can't be you about this, you know."

Josh almost choked on his pasta, which was surprisingly good considering the number of vegetables involved.

"Excuse me?" he asked.

"You're really not so good with commitment," Sam said. "You can't just drift away when you get bored or distracted this time. I mean, besides the fact that it's Donna and she's the sweetest woman on earth, there's a child involved. Children need stability."

"Since when are you the expert on children?" Josh teased. "But seriously. I just told you I need to be around for at least thirty years. Heck, I offered to marry her in front of my friends, my boss, and the President of the United States. Does it really sound like I'm having commitment issues?"

"I guess not." Sam thought for a minute. "Why?"

"Why what?"

"You'll agree that you have never wanted to commit in the past?"


"So what's different this time? How do you know it's not just some temporary knight in shining armor complex?"

"It's Donna, and I love her," Josh said simply. "I never really loved any of the other people I dated. I tried, but . . . this is the real thing."

"Okay . . ."

"I mean, seriously, can you ever see me getting bored with Donna around?"

Sam laughed.

"I guess not. But you haven't lasted more than a date or two with anyone since we got into office."

"Well, generally, when I'm on a date and thinking I'd rather be at work, I don't ask for a second date. It's a pretty good rule, really."

Sam tried to understand what Josh was really saying.

"So you're saying that you tried to date other people because you didn't think you could do anything about your feelings for Donna, but it didn't work because you'd rather be at work with Donna than on a date with anyone else?"

"Basically," Josh agreed.


"I really don't think I'm as bad with feelings as you think I am."

"Maybe not," Sam allowed. "So. When are you going to tell her?"

"I don't know."

"Why not?"

"Sam . . . her life is complete chaos right now. She's barely holding it together. I can't add to that."

"Maybe it would make things less chaotic," Sam suggested. "I mean, call me crazy, but I have to think that a lot of problems can be solved with unconditional love and millions of dollars."

Josh considered this for a moment.

"Maybe, but – she was right when she said it would be a bad way to start a marriage."

"She didn't know you were in love with her when she said that," Sam pointed out.

"I don't think that changes it. Even if she knew that – I don't want to spend the rest of my life wondering if she's with me because it seemed like the best option at a bad time. I mean, I told her the offer is still open, and I mean it, but I have to think it would be better if it happened a different way."

"Give her some credit, Josh. You really think Donna would marry you for convenience while knowing you were in love with her? DONNA?"

"No, no, that's not what I meant," Josh said. "I'm just afraid that doing anything while she's so confused and vulnerable could lead to her convincing herself that she has feelings that she doesn't actually have."

"Seriously?" Sam stared at him. "You're seriously doubting that Donna has feelings for you. How can someone so smart be so dumb?"

"What, has she – said something to you?" Josh asked, excited.

"No, of course not." Sam shook his head and smiled. "What would she say, 'By the way, Sam, I'm in love with my boss, who also happens to be your best friend?' Do you have any idea how awkward that conversation would be?"

"Oh." Josh's face fell.

"But – Josh! She didn't need to SAY that," Sam insisted, frustrated. "Josh, she watched your open heart surgery because it was the only way she could be sure that you were alive. She barely ate and didn't sleep for days because she wouldn't leave your bedside. She YELLED AT THE PRESIDENT for disturbing you. She didn't need to SAY anything, Josh."

"Oh." Josh thought about this. "Wait, what do you mean she watched my surgery?"

"She never told you?"


"During your surgery, she was – very upset, saying she just had to see you. Because she didn't get to the hospital until after you were in surgery, so she only had our word for it that you were alive. So Dr. Bartlet got permission for her to watch from the observation deck. I think Dr. Bartlet thought she would just go look and confirm that you were alive and then leave, but she stayed the entire time. Almost fourteen hours."


"Yeah. I couldn't have done that. I can't imagine doing that for anyone."

"She's strong."

"She is," Sam agreed.

"Who told her?"

"Who told her what?"

"That I was shot. The names hadn't been released to the media yet when she got there, right?"

"Oh. Toby."

"TOBY? Who decided that was a good idea?" Josh demanded.

"It just sort of happened," Sam said defensively. "But he was great, actually."

"Huh. Okay." Josh shook his head as if to clear it. "Can we discuss something more cheerful here for a while?"

"Sure." Sam grinned. "How about we get back to figuring out when you're going to tell Donna you love her."

Josh groaned. "I guess I walked right into that one."

"You really did."

"I'll tell her in a few months," Josh decided. "The holidays are always hard for her, and I can imagine it will only be worse this year. But if she's interested, I want us to be in a stable relationship before the baby is born, because I want to be there from day one. So, I don't know, January or February."

"I guess that sounds reasonable."

"And I know I'm not great with women, but I really don't think I should just tell her I love her out of the blue. Shouldn't I, I don't know, ask her out on a date first?"

"Well, that's generally a good way to proceed, yes," Sam agreed. "But I think you need a deadline, or you're going to keep putting it off because you're so afraid of losing her friendship."

Josh considered disputing this, but decided not to bother.

"Okay, maybe."

"Valentine's Day."

"Valentine's Day?" Josh repeated.

"If you don't ask her out by Valentine's Day, I will," Sam announced.


"You heard me."

"You wouldn't." Josh couldn't believe this. Surely Sam knew that it broke pretty much every rule of friendship to ask out the girl with whom your best friend was madly in love.

"Who wouldn't want to date Donna?" Sam asked lightly. "She's funny, smart, hot as hell . . ."

"Weren't you the one who was just lecturing me about toying with the emotions of pregnant women?"

"So you'd better make sure I don't do that," Sam said with a devilish grin.

"I have permission from the President to date her! You don't!" Josh was practically yelling now.

Sam shrugged. "I'm also not her boss."

"I don't believe this," Josh muttered. "Okay. Valentine's Day."

Previous | Next