Title: Radiant, Chapter 11
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.
Category: Angst, romance, AU.
Feedback: Always appreciated.
Archiving: Please ask.
Timeline: 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. Incidentally, both Allison Janney and Mary McCormack are in the 1994 version of Miracle on 34th Street that Donna mentions. It also stars Elizabeth Perkins, who played Bradley Whitford's wife in Cloned.
Josh's doorbell rang a little before nine on Thanksgiving morning. He opened it to reveal Donna holding her tote bag and some sort of covered dish.
"Happy Thanksgiving," he said with a grin.
"Happy Thanksgiving," she yawned back. "Whoa, I'm tired."
"You're the one who insisted on coming over so early," he pointed out.
"I told you. I don't want to miss any of the parade, so I had to either come over really early or wait until it was over. Besides, I'm tired all the time recently."
"Okay. Well, come on in."
Just then, Esther Lyman came in from the kitchen. "Donna! Oh, it's so good to see you. Joshua, take whatever she's holding so I can give the girl a hug."
"I didn't get to give her a hug yet either," Josh grumbled as he followed his mother's instructions.
"You see her every day," his mom pointed out. She gave Donna a good long hug and then stepped back to look at her. "Donna, you're glowing. You're radiant."
"Thanks." Donna smiled shyly. "That's good to hear, because I mostly just feel exhausted."
"That's completely normal for this point in your pregnancy," the older woman assured her. "Especially with the hours you work. Come sit down and relax."
Mrs. Lyman led Donna into the living room, and Josh soon followed. He turned on the TV and then sat on the couch next to Donna, throwing an arm casually around her shoulders. The parade pre-show was on, and while the entire idea seemed vaguely ludicrous to him, he knew she wouldn't want to miss it.
"I told you you didn't have to bring anything, Donna," Mrs. Lyman scolded mildly. "You don't have the energy to be worrying about that, and I like having the chance to cook for my kids occasionally."
Josh winced slightly at his mother's use of the phrase "my kids," but was happy that Donna didn't make an issue of it.
"I know. And thank you. But I just – I don't know. I wanted to make something my mom always used to make. I guess that's more important to me this year." She rested a hand on her still almost-flat belly, and Josh wondered if she even noticed she was doing it.
"Well, we're happy to have it," he assured her gently. "But – baked ziti? I was just wondering . . . it isn't really traditional." He had peeked under the foil when he took her dish to the kitchen.
"You're not Italian," Donna pointed out. "When we had Thanksgiving with my mother's family, we would always have some kind of pasta as the first course, before the turkey and regular stuff." She paused. "I hope that's not too weird . . ."
"It's fine," Esther said firmly. "I'm going to go check on the turkey and get some other things started."
"Can I help?" Donna started to get up, but Josh tightened his arm around her, effectively pinning her in place.
"No," he and his mother said at the same time. "I promise I'll let you know if I need help," Mrs. Lyman added.
"You just stay here and relax and watch the parade," Josh told her.
"Are you going to watch with me?"
"Of course. Come here, lie down." For a moment, it looked like Donna might protest, but then she just swung her feet up onto the couch and settled herself with her head in Josh's lap. He lightly stroked her hair as she turned her attention to the TV. Josh had never really had much interest in watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, but he found that Donna's running commentary made it fun. He had a sudden flash of her explaining it all to her child in a few years.
"This has been around a long time, right?" he asked her. "The parade?"
"Josh, have you not noticed that they're calling it the 75th annual parade every three minutes? It's been around for 75 years. I think it got really famous with Miracle on 34th Street, though."
"That's . . . a movie?"
"Yeah, and a book. Two movies, actually. Wait, have you never seen it? The old one? The one from the nineties is okay but not great. The old one is a classic."
"No, I haven't. We didn't really watch a lot of Christmas movies growing up."
"Oh." Donna giggled. "Yeah, that makes sense. Well, you need to see it."
"Okay. Watch it with me this year. Make me a list of essential Christmas movies and we'll work through them together."
He shrugged. "Yeah, why not?"
"When are we going to have time?"
"You clearly need more rest than I'm giving you. I'm sorry." He put a hand on her shoulder. "So we'll start watching movies. At least that way you'll be lying down for a while. And if you're lying down on me, I can't get distracted and make you work."
"Thanks," she said as she started to tear up. At the sight of her tears, Josh raised an eyebrow. Donna grabbed his hand and kissed his palm, then placed both of their hands on her abdomen. Josh couldn't help but stare at their hands there, touching, over her child.
She followed his gaze and then looked up at him with an odd expression. "I'm sorry – I didn't mean to - "
Josh cut her off before she could take her hand away. "No, it's fine. I was just thinking how amazing it is. There's a baby in there," he said reverently. "That's just – wow. I've never touched . . ." He trailed off, not wanting to ask for anything that might make her uncomfortable.
As usual, Donna seemed to be reading his mind. She lifted her shirt a few inches and slid their hands together onto her bare skin just below the waistband of her pants. "There's not really much to see or feel yet, but there's starting to be a little bump . . . I wore these pants today because they're loose, but some of my work clothes have been starting to feel a little tight the last few days."
"Yeah," Josh breathed. Now that her clothes weren't in the way, he could definitely tell that Donna's stomach wasn't as flat as it used to be. "Hi there, little baby." He briefly considered whether it was ridiculous to be talking to an embryo, but decided not to worry about it. "How big is the baby now, about an inch?"
Donna nodded and then smiled up at him. "You really have been reading up on this, haven't you?"
"Of course." Josh grinned. "It's so COOL! There's a whole person growing IN you. Like – like Alien or something!"
Donna made a face. "Okay, stop with the Alien references. The whole concept is kind of freaking me out as it is."
"Oh, sorry. I'm sure your baby isn't an alien. Well, probably."
He turned his attention back to the baby. "You've got fingers and toes now, huh, little one? And next week you get to officially become a fetus!" Josh barely noticed that he had started lightly rubbing his fingers over the little bulge as he spoke.
"That feels nice," Donna murmured as her eyes started to close.
"Good," Josh whispered. He figured that her comment was enough excuse to keep his hand where it was as she fell asleep. He just watched her for a while and then turned his attention back to the parade on TV. He had to admit that it was kind of cool. Maybe they could take her kid to New York for Thanksgiving in a couple of years and see it in person.
His mother suddenly appeared in the doorway, interrupting his thoughts. "Do you guys want any - "
"Shh!" Josh nodded at Donna's sleeping form.
Esther Lyman smiled and nodded, and then stood at the edge of the room for a few minutes, just watching. Her hyperactive, brilliant, self-centered son was actually being quiet and sitting still, completely absorbed in watching over this woman and a child he couldn't even see. Maybe there was hope for him yet.
Josh continued to watch the parade, occasionally whispering comments to the baby. Suddenly he realized it was almost over.
"Santa's coming on TV soon, little one. You're gonna like Santa. Mommy will tell you all about him next year. Do you think we should wake Mommy up to see him now?"
He decided that Donna would probably be mad that she had fallen asleep during the parade at all, but would definitely be upset to miss Santa. He leaned over and kissed her forehead, hoping to wake her gently.
"They said Santa's coming soon. That sounded like something you'd want to see."
"Oh, I fell asleep? I'm sorry." She started to sit up.
"It's fine. Stay there."
"But I should be helping your mother with dinner."
"No, stay and watch Santa. You don't want to miss Santa."
"Okay." She gave up and settled back onto the sofa, lacing her fingers with Josh's over her belly. "Were you talking to the baby? I was mostly asleep, but I thought I heard something . . ."
"Yeah," he admitted. "Is that okay?"
"Of course. It's cute."
"I was starting to tell the baby about Santa, but I'm not really the expert there. I told him you'd explain it all next year."
"Okay . . . wait, him?"
"You just referred to the baby as 'him.'"
"Do you have a feeling about it or something? Or did you just not want to call the baby 'it'?"
Josh shook his head. "I really don't know. It just came out. Sorry. I'll try not to do that. Maybe the baby needs a nickname."
"Do you have a feeling about whether it's a boy or a girl?"
"Are you going to find out? I mean, when you're far enough along?"
"Do you think I should?"
Josh shrugged. "It's totally up to you."
"It sort of seems like a surprise would be nice, but I feel so out of control with all of this . . . maybe it would make me feel better to find out."
"Yeah," Josh agreed. "You could always find out this time and be surprised next time. I mean, if you have another baby someday."
Donna laughed a little hysterically. "Stop. Let me just worry about this one right now. And it's not like anyone's going to want to marry a single mother with a crazy job, anyway, so there's no point in thinking about it."
"I'm sure that's not true," Josh said quietly. "Anyway, knowing the gender in advance might make it easier for you to decide on a name. Have you started thinking about names much?"
"Oh, God. It's terrifying."
"Yeah. A name is so important. I feel like if I pick the wrong one, my child will be messed up for life. But I have no idea how to even start going about picking something."
"You'll figure it out. It will be fine."
"I mean, really," Donna continued. "I bet you wouldn't have even hired me if my name were Candi or Taffy or something."
"Well, I don't recall having all that much say in the matter as it is," Josh teased her. "But you're not going to give your kid a dumb name. You wouldn't do that."
"Okay." Donna still sounded uncertain. "You know, this is kind of nice."
Josh thought the whole morning had been extremely nice, but he wasn't sure exactly what she was referring to. "What is?"
"Worrying about names and stuff. Normal stuff. I mean, that's the kind of thing everyone worries about. It's a nice change from thinking about the press and everything."
Just then, Josh's mother called them into the kitchen for Thanksgiving dinner. Once they had gotten settled at the table and begun eating, Josh decided to bring his mother in on the naming conversation.
"Mom, how did you pick our names?"
"What?" Esther Lyman seemed surprised by the question.
"We were just talking about names, so I was wondering . . ."
"Oh, of course." His mother paused. "Well, you're both after your grandparents, of course."
"Your grandfather's name was Joshua?" Donna turned to him in surprise. "I didn't know that."
"No, he was Jacob," Josh told her.
"I don't understand."
"It's a Jewish tradition," Mrs. Lyman began to explain. "Not all Jews, but many . . . we use the same first initial as the person we want to honor, but not the whole name. Noah's parents were Jacob and Judith, so we called the children Joan and Joshua."
"Oh, I see." Donna thought for a minute. "Why are they both after his parents and not yours?"
"My parents were still alive when Joanie and Josh were born. It's considered bad luck to name a child after a living relative."
"That's a nice tradition," Donna said. "Does gender matter? I mean, are girls named after female relatives and boys after male relatives?"
"Not necessarily, at least not in our family. I don't think Noah and I thought about it much, since we knew we wanted to use two J names anyway. But I was named after my great-grandfather Ezra."
"So why those particular names? I mean, once you decided they should start with J, how did you choose Joan and Joshua?"
"Well, we partially picked them just because we liked them. But we also wanted to use names that were classic but not too common."
Donna nodded. "That makes sense."
"What about you?" Mrs. Lyman asked. "Donnatella is certainly a unique name. Are you named after someone?"
"No, I don't think so. My mom just liked dramatic-sounding names. Although my grandmother was Rose, so I assume Rosamaria was named partially after her."
"Rosamaria? Is that your sister?"
"Yes, but - " At Josh's encouraging nod, Donna decided to stop avoiding this conversation. "Yes. She was my older sister. She died before I was born."
"Oh, I'm so sorry."
"Thanks. I never knew her, obviously, but – thanks."
Josh knew that Donna didn't really want to talk about her sister, so he steered the conversation toward work and their sight-seeing plans for the next day. After the trio had finished eating Mrs. Lyman's delicious dinner, they returned to the living room and Josh pulled Donna down next to him on the couch again.
"One football game?" he pleaded. He did want to watch football, of course, but he also figured that Donna would be more likely to let herself nap if they were doing something like watching sports.
"Okay," his mother decided. "One football game, then dessert, then a movie. And Donna and I get to pick the movie." The two women shared a conspiratorial grin.
As Josh had expected, Donna slept through most of the football game. He woke her up for dessert – pecan pie was her favorite – and then she dozed off again during the costume drama his mother had put on afterward. When the movie ended, Mrs. Lyman got up and quietly began gathering her things to go back to her hotel for the night. Josh eased up off the couch, replacing his lap with a pillow to try to keep Donna from waking, and followed his mother into the kitchen.
"Is it okay that she's sleeping so much?" he whispered.
His mother fixed him with a stern glare. "Joshua, if I know you, and I do, she's still working a ridiculous schedule. Now, you may think you've cut her hours back, because you only expect her to be there for, what, sixteen hours a day instead of twenty? But that's still twice what normal people work. Let her catch up on her sleep this weekend, and then do better. You know you'd never forgive yourself if the pregnancy developed complications because she has too much stress and too little sleep."
Josh nodded, speechless.
"All right. I'll see you both tomorrow. I love you."
"Love you too, Mom. And thanks for cooking. This was nice." He hugged his mom as he walked her toward the door.
"It was nice," she agreed. "And next year it will be nicer. Next year there will be four of us. Got it?"
Josh nodded. "I'll do my best."
After his mother left, Josh finished up the dishes and then returned to the living room to wake Donna. "Hey, sleepyhead," he said, placing a hand gently on her shoulder.
"I fell asleep again?" She sounded annoyed.
"Yup, but my mother made it abundantly clear that it's all my fault," he assured her. "Apparently I work you too hard."
"Haven't I been telling you that for years?"
"Yeah, well . . . I'll do better. I promise."
"Okay. What time is it? I guess I should be getting home."
"It's late, and you're tired, and you're coming back here in the morning anyway," Josh pointed out. "Why don't you just stay?"
Donna's eyes widened. "But your mom - "
"Is already back at the hotel," Josh said firmly. "And I promise she wouldn't have an issue with it anyway."
"I don't have anything to wear tomorrow. I have an extra set of work clothes in the car, but I was looking forward to actually wearing jeans two days in a row for once."
"So wear your jeans and one of my shirts," Josh suggested.
"Maybe . . . Do you have my blue pajama pants here still?"
"Yeah, they're in the drawer." Donna had left a pair of pajama pants there a few months ago after they had spent several evenings in a row working late at Josh's apartment. She had told him that if she wasn't actually in the office, she saw no need to be wearing work clothes. He just liked having her clothes in his bureau.
"Okay," Donna gave in. "I don't really feel like driving right now anyway."
"Good. Do you want me to sleep on the couch?" he offered.
Donna sighed. "No. You're going to be insufferable enough doing the tourist thing tomorrow. I'm not listening to you complaining about your back all day on top of it."
"I wouldn't - "
"Yes, you would."
"Okay. You can have the bathroom first."
They took turns changing in the bathroom and then got into bed, making small talk to cover the awkwardness. Once they were under the covers, Josh turned toward Donna, who was lying on her back with her head turned toward him.
"Good night, Donnatella," he offered, giving her a quick one-armed hug.
"Good night, Joshua," she said, her voice sleepy. "Happy Thanksgiving."
"Happy Thanksgiving. Can I – can I say good night to the baby?"
"Yeah," she whispered.
He settled himself on his side next to her and placed a tentative hand on her abdomen. "Good night, little one," he whispered. He was about to move back to his own side of the bed when he felt Donna's hands settle on top of his.
"The baby says good night," she whispered back. She nudged his hand under her loose elastic waistband and flattened his palm against the little bump. As Josh drifted off to sleep, he realized that this was the closest he had ever been to sleeping with her in his arms.
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