Title: Radiant, Chapter 17
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: January of reelection year.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Rick 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.

By the time Josh and Sam got back to the bar, Josh was a little calmer, and mostly just worried about Donna. He had to admit that he was also a little disappointed that Alex had taken the Secret Service agents seriously and vanished from the area. Josh had been sort of hoping that the other man would be hanging around outside the bar and give Josh an excuse to yell at him out of Donna's earshot.

When they returned to the bar, Josh and Sam found that Toby and Charlie were sitting at their table alone. Toby nodded over to where CJ, Zoey, and Donna were on the dance floor. Josh grinned as he realized that the song they were dancing to was "I Will Survive."

He started to walk toward them, but Sam put a hand on his arm.

"It looks like she could use some girl time," he pointed out.

"Yeah," Josh agreed. Since he could see that Donna was safe in CJ's and Zoey's capable hands, he let himself start to relax and just watch them. Watch her. Yet again, he found himself in awe of her incredible strength and the way she was getting through this ordeal. As he watched her dance, Josh marveled at how just seeing her could still take his breath away, even after seeing her virtually every day for years. He wasn't sure she'd want to hear it, but he thought that, if anything, pregnancy was making her even more beautiful. Josh had always assumed that people's descriptions of pregnant women as blooming and radiant and all that stuff were just part of some romanticized ideal, but now he saw that it was simply true. Her rounded belly meant that anyone who saw her now would immediately know she was pregnant, but the changes went beyond that. All of her curves were softened, and she was, he had to admit, glowing. She looked like a goddess.

The song ended and another began. Josh frowned in concentration, trying to identify it, and then slowly smiled as he realized it was "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Apparently whoever was controlling the music was in a retro mood this evening.

Josh looked over at Sam. "Now?" he asked.

Sam rolled his eyes and shrugged. "Yeah. Girl time over."

Josh slowly made his way over to where Donna was now standing near the edge of the dance floor.

Every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you're never coming 'round
Every now and then I get a little bit tired of listening to the sound of my tears

He gently tapped her on the shoulder and she turned to face him. "Dance with me?"

She nodded, her face unreadable, and moved into his arms. He held her close, closer than he usually let himself. At the moment, he didn't really care who saw or what they thought.


Every now and then I get a little bit terrified but then I see the look in your eyes
Every now and then I fall apart

Donna closed her eyes and let herself relish the feeling of being held in Josh's strong arms. She knew that holding onto Josh belied the whole show of independence she'd been putting on tonight, but she couldn't help it. She wasn't sure if he was just feeling sorry for her after the encounter with Alex or what, but Donna couldn't remember Josh ever holding her this tightly in public before, so she was determined to let herself enjoy it while it lasted.

And if you'll only hold me tight we'll be holding on forever
And we'll only be making it right 'cause we'll never be wrong together

It was crazy and naïve – she realized how naïve it was – but she knew somewhere deep within herself that the song was right. Somehow, if they let themselves, they could take this whole awful situation and make it right. If she let him be involved. If he was serious about sticking around. If the real truth never came back to hurt them. If, if, if . . .

Every now and then I know you'll never be the boy you always you wanted to be
But every now and then I know you'll always be the only boy who wanted me the way that I am

Donna looked up and her eyes locked with Josh's. He had let his guard down and she could suddenly see everything – how he tried so hard all the time because his ego and arrogance were hiding the fact that he always, always felt inadequate. How he was so afraid of losing people that he automatically tried to push them away, to keep them from getting too close, from meaning too much. And, yes, how he saw her as she really was and – she couldn't believe she was even letting herself think this, but it was all there in his eyes – he did want her. Not as the perfect assistant she tried so hard to be, or as the pretty and capable society wife Alex wanted, but just as herself.


Josh suddenly realized that he had been staring into Donna's eyes for probably too long, and, based on the vaguely shocked expression on her face, he suspected that he had let his eyes tell her at least some of what he was having such trouble putting into words. He blinked a few times and looked away.

Every now and then I know there's no one in the universe as magical and wondrous as you
Every now and then I know there's nothing any better, there's nothing that I just wouldn't do

The lyrics seemed so ridiculously, literally true that Josh had to suppress the urge to shake himself out of this reverie. He seriously had to do something about all this, and soon, because he was thinking in terms of eighties pop songs and that was just unacceptable. But – it WAS true. There was nothing he wouldn't do, and it scared the hell out of him.

I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark
We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks

The song ended, but Donna stayed in Josh's arms and put her head on his shoulder.

"You okay?" he whispered.


"Let me take you home."

Donna nodded, and Josh led her back to the table where Sam and Toby were sitting to gather their coats.

"We're heading out, guys," he told them. They all said their good nights and Josh took Donna's hand as they wordlessly left the bar and headed towards his car.

"Your place or mine?" It was his usual joke, but the tension in the air tonight made it fall flat.

"Yours," she said simply, and then turned away from him to stare out the window as he drove.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Josh asked. "Him? Alex?"

"Not really," Donna said. "Not right now."

"Okay." She seemed to want to be alone with her thoughts, so he drove in silence for a while.

"Do you think I should go with him?" she suddenly asked.

"No!" Josh yelped. "I mean, not if you don't want to."

"But do you think I SHOULD?" she pressed. "Am I being selfish? Just staying here and being a burden to you and the administration even though I have other options?"

"No," Josh said firmly. "You're not a burden."

"Thanks." Donna sounded uncertain.

"I'm the selfish one," Josh said in a low voice. "I couldn't stand it if you left."

"You mean because your office would fall apart?" she asked, keeping her tone light, desperately trying to give him an out.

"No. That's not what I mean."

"Oh." She didn't know how to respond to that.

Josh took a deep breath. "I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but it's like the song."

"What's like what song?"

"The one that was on at the bar. The – the 'living in a powder keg and giving off sparks' thing."

Donna giggled nervously. "You're comparing our lives to a Bonnie Tyler song? You? Seriously?"

"Donna. We have to talk about this."

She sighed. "I know. But not tonight. Please, Joshua. After Alex, and – I just can't."

"Okay. But soon."

"Soon," she agreed.

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