Title: Radiant, Chapter 12
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: 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.

The day of sight-seeing was going pretty well and Josh was almost starting to relax. Donna did seem more awake after all the sleep she'd gotten the day before, and while Josh noticed the flash of a camera once in a while, he had to be grateful that the press wasn't actually hounding them or asking questions. He had let his guard down enough that when his mother spotted a baby boutique and insisted she and Donna look around, he had just followed them in.

"You have to let me buy the baby a few little outfits," he heard his mother tell Donna. "Think of it as an early Christmas present. I don't get the excuse to shop for cute stuff very often."

Donna laughed and acquiesced, and Josh looked around him. The stuff was cute, at least most of it, but the real distinguishing characteristic was how tiny it all was. Sure, he could rattle off statistics about how the embryo was the size of a cherry right now, but that was more theoretical, somehow. He had never really spent much time with babies, and the size of the clothes surrounding him was bringing home how small and fragile infants actually were. Josh was starting to get dizzy.

"Mom?" he called weakly. "I'm gonna . . . I'll go get us coffee across the street. I'll be right back."

His mother laughed and made shooing motions with her hand. "We'll be fine."

By the time Josh had made it through the Starbucks line and procured coffee for himself and his mother and decaf tea for Donna, he was starting to feel more steady. They were just baby clothes. He couldn't freak out about baby clothes – Donna might get the wrong idea. He was the third most powerful man in the White House. He could do this.

Josh was so absorbed in the pep talk he was giving himself as he entered the store that he almost walked straight into Danny Concannon.



"You really don't know when to leave well enough alone, do you?" Danny chuckled.

"I . . . my mother's in town. She and Donna are shopping. I don't exactly have a lot of control over the situation."

"Yeah, I'll bet. Stop looking so panicked, Josh. Not my beat, remember?"

"Yeah. Thanks."

"But something like this – you have to know you're not exactly avoiding publicity."

"I know, but – I don't want her to have to hide, you know? She should be able to shop for baby clothes like anyone else."

"She isn't anyone else."

"I know," Josh groaned. "Wait, what are you doing here? Something you'd like to share with the class, Danny?"

"What? Oh, no!" Danny's eyes widened. "My sister's pregnant. Apparently we're supposed to get the baby Christmas presents even though it won't be born until April."

"Christmas presents? You know, that's not a bad idea . . ." Josh mused.

"I think it's kind of weird, but whatever . . . Listen, Josh, if you tell people you guys ran into me here, make sure you tell them why – I mean, make sure they don't think - "

"I'll be sure to tell CJ that you were in a baby stuff store because of your sister, not because you're having a child with another woman," Josh said dryly. "Not that there'd be anything actually WRONG with that, since you and CJ aren't actually dating or anything. And now we really are in Bizarro world, because you seem far more concerned about being seen here than I am."

"Um . . ."

Josh laughed. "Don't worry about it. I'd better go find Mom and Donna before they somehow manage to spend all my money."

"All YOUR money?" Danny asked. "I figured they were spending their own money."

"They are, theoretically, but Donna has one of my credit cards, and my mother's a bad influence."

"Why does Donna have – God, never mind, but at least get her a separate credit card with her name on it, Josh. You make this way too easy for guys like me."

"Yeah, maybe," Josh considered.

"Okay, see you later."

Danny left and Josh walked farther into the store until he saw his mother and Donna in a crowd around a sales rack. His mother spotted him and walked over to get her coffee.

"Having fun?" Josh asked.

"I think she is."

"Is she having so much fun that she didn't notice that the Washington Post White House correspondent was in here a few minutes ago?"

Mrs. Lyman's eyes grew wide.

"Don't worry about it," Josh told her. "He's a good guy, and he doesn't write the gossip stuff. It's just – I worry."

"I know. You've always worried."

"Yeah. Well. Find anything good?"

"They're having a big after Thanksgiving sale, so I convinced Donna to let me help her stock up on some cute things that would work for a boy or a girl."

"Good. Thanks, Mom."

"Well, this is the closest to a grandchild I'll be getting for quite some time, I'm sure. I might as well have some fun."

"Yeah. Just . . . don't say that. Not around the baby, I mean."

"Say what?"

"The 'closest to a grandchild' thing."

"Why not?"

Josh looked around. "I'll answer that when we're not in the middle of a busy store, okay?"

"Okay." Esther Lyman glanced at her watch. "We should be getting going if we're all going to change before dinner. I'll go brave the crowd and get Donna."

They returned to the conversation two hours later, when Josh picked his mother up at her hotel for dinner. They were meeting Sam and Leo at a restaurant Leo had chosen, which meant, of course, that they'd had to go home to dress up and that Josh had to figure out how to make sure Donna didn't try to pay her portion of the bill.

"You look nice, Mom," Josh said as he escorted his mother out to the car.

"Thank you," his mother said briskly. "Now explain what you meant when you said not to tell the baby that I think of him or her like a grandchild. Not that the baby can actually understand what we're saying right now, you realize."

"I know, I just don't want to get in the habit of saying things like that without thinking about it."

"Things like what, Joshua?"

"Things that imply that this baby is different, or not as good as the others."

"Aren't something like half of all children now born to single mothers? I really don't think Donna has to worry much about that particular stigma right now. I mean, if it weren't for her position at the White House, this pregnancy would be entirely unremarkable. Don't make this into a Supremes song or something here."

"That's not what I meant. I didn't mean the other kids at kindergarten or whatever."

"What did you mean, then?"

"I meant – different from your other grandchildren."

"Joshua. I don't have any grandchildren." She paused and stared at him. "Do I?"

"No, no." He shook his head impatiently. "Not yet. But someday – at least, I hope – and I don't want this baby to feel like he's not as good as his siblings."


"If everything goes according to plan – I mean, if Donna ever actually has feelings for me – then I'm hoping that the baby will be legally mine before he's old enough to know the difference."

"He? Donna said you were calling the baby 'he' last night, too."

Josh shook his head again. "I really don't have a feeling about it. I don't think. It's just the gendered pronoun issue."

"Well, I'm glad you've finally come to your senses about Donna. Do you really have a plan?"

"Of course I have a plan! I'm a master strategist. It's practically in my job title."

"I didn't ask if you have a plan to get the baby into Congress. I asked if you had a plan for making the baby legally yours."

"Well, it's generally called adoption," Josh said lightly.

"It seems like there might be a few steps between where you are now and 'By the way, Donna, I want to adopt your baby.'"

"Yeah, I'm working on that part. The holidays are tough for her so I'm going to wait a month or two."

"All right." His mother looked at him suspiciously. "Now you actually are coming up with a plan to get the baby into Congress, aren't you?"

"Maybe," Josh confessed. Of course he was. He couldn't help it.


"So, Claudia Jean, what's the damage?" Josh asked as he strode into CJ's office the next morning.

She looked up at him. "Not too bad. I haven't seen any whole articles yet, just items in the 'How DC Spent Thanksgiving' gossip columns."

"Like what?"

CJ picked up one paper and started to read. "'Spotted: Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman, on a rare day off, sight-seeing and shopping with his mother and assistant – yes, that assistant – Donna Moss. They were joined for dinner by Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn and longtime Lyman family friend Chief of Staff Leo McGarry.' Thanks for inviting me, by the way."

Josh waved a hand impatiently. "Mom made the guest list. You know she's known Sam and Leo forever. She just wanted to catch up. So that's it?"

"Were you expecting something else?"

"Well, one of the stores sold baby stuff. Mom insisted."

CJ frowned. "Did anyone see you?"

"Well, we ran into the Post's White House correspondent there, but nah, I don't think there was anyone who knows anyone," Josh quipped.

"DANNY? You ran into Danny at a baby boutique? What was he doing, following you?"

"No, he was there when we got there. Shopping."

"Shopping? But – but - "

"Don't worry about it." Josh offered up an innocent smile. "He said to tell you that his sister is pregnant, so he was there looking for a gift."

"Oh." CJ couldn't hide the relief on her face. "Wait, he SAID TO TELL ME? Why would he say to tell me that?"

Josh raised an eyebrow. "Maybe because he figured you would react exactly the way you just reacted."

"But I didn't – I'm not - "

"Yeah. Tell me about it." Josh smiled. "And CJ? Next time you start lecturing me on relationships that might appear inappropriate, I want you to remember this nice little exchange we just had, okay?"

CJ glared at him. "Get out of my office."

"Yes, ma'am."

Donna intercepted him as he headed back to his office. "Leo wants to see you as soon as possible," she said as she handed him a folder. "Then you've got senior staff at nine and Watkins at ten."

"Okay," he said as he started to skim the memos in the folder, and then paused to look up at her. "How are you feeling?"

"Fine. Better." She smiled. "I think all that sleep on Thursday really helped."

"Good. I'll talk to Leo about getting a couch for the office."

"You don't have to – Thanks."

"No problem."

Josh headed for Leo's office, and Margaret showed him right in.

"Good morning, Leo. I need a couch," he said without preamble. "Donna needs way more rest than she's getting."

Leo took off his glasses and looked up at him. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Uh, asking for a couch? I didn't think it was a big deal. Everyone else has couches."

"Not the couch. What the hell are you doing with Donna?"

Josh swallowed and tried to buy some time. "I'm not sure exactly what you're asking, sir."

"Remember in that meeting last week when Sam said that you'd be happy if she was having your baby, and I said we were going to have a conversation about that? Well, sit down. We're having that conversation now."

Josh nodded and sat.

"Are you sleeping with your assistant?" Leo asked bluntly.

"Only in the most literal of senses, occasionally," Josh said. "When she's upset, it helps her sleep to have someone there. I already told you that."

"Do you want to be sleeping with your assistant? In less literal senses?"

Josh paused. "Yes," he said quietly. "But not just that."


"I don't just want to sleep with her, Leo. You have to know that. I want to love her. I want to spend the rest of my life with her."

"And YOU have to know what a monumentally bad idea that is!"

"I know the timing's not great," Josh said carefully. "But I don't think it's a bad idea. I think it might be the best idea I've ever had."

"And you were going to just – do this, without telling anyone?"

Josh looked at him steadily. "I have the permission of the President. I figured that about covered it."

Leo rubbed his temples. "You've already gone to the President about this."

"Yes, sir. Before I knew Donna was pregnant, for the record. This isn't a whim, and I'm not just trying to rescue her."

"And he said - "

"He said – well, he said a lot of things. What he wrote down and signed was that I had his permission to pursue this relationship, and that as long as we both continued to do well at our jobs, we could stay in our current positions."

"He wrote it down and signed it," Leo repeated, shaking his head. "You went above me, because you know he's an old romantic."

Josh raised an eyebrow. "Leo, I knew by age three that Dad was more likely to give me an extra cookie and Mom would be less mad when I broke something. You think we all haven't figured out when to go to you and when to go to the President?"

"Yeah, well. Who else knows about this?"

"Charlie, Sam, my mom. Oh, the First Lady."


"What about her?"

"Does she know? Have you actually done anything about this yet?"

"Not exactly. I've hinted, but not – not come out and said it."

"You need to talk to CJ. I won't have her blindsided by this in the press room."

Josh nodded. "I promise I'll talk to her before anything happens."

"Maybe the timing is good after all," Leo mused. "I mean, half the country already thinks you got her pregnant. If CJ ends up confirming that you're dating or something, the press room will probably just laugh."

"Yeah." Josh looked at his mentor for a minute. "Leo, the press thing isn't really what you're worried about here, is it?"

"Josh." Leo looked him straight in the eye. "This job is one of the most important things you're ever going to do. You don't have time for a wife and family."

"YOU didn't have time for a wife and family, Leo. I'm not you. And seriously, if you're worried about my job performance – if you ever feel like I'm not doing my job, just say so and I'll resign immediately."

"Yeah, right. And what would you do then?"

Josh shrugged. "Move back to that big empty house in Connecticut and fill it with kids. My mother would be thrilled."

Leo chuckled. "I'm sure. But you know you'd go crazy with nothing to do."

"So I'd teach, or write, or consult. Or maybe I'd make a game of seeing how many of my high school classmates I could get elected to the state legislature. Whatever. You know I don't have to work unless I want to, and I'm not exactly without options."

"Well. Now that I realize that you could replace this job much more easily than we could replace you, you're going to stop talking about resigning."

"Yes, sir."

"But – I'm not really worried about your job performance, Josh. You may try to deny it, but you ARE like me. You could never give less than 110% to this job. That's the problem. And look around you. How many successful relationships do you see in this town, exactly?"

"Leo, I know the odds. But – this isn't Jenny. This isn't even Andi. This is DONNA. My schedule isn't going to come as a surprise to her."

"And if it were anyone but Donna I'd say you had no chance at all," Leo allowed. "Maybe you're right. I just – Donna's a good girl. I don't want you to get hurt. Either of you."

"I know." Josh sighed. "Leo, I – I could really use your support with this. I mean, with my dad gone, and . . ."

Leo nodded slowly. "I'll have someone get a couch in there this afternoon, son."

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