Title: Radiant, Chapter 18
Disclaimer: Alas, these characters are not mine.
Rating: This chapter is PG-13. Later parts will probably get to R.
Pairing: Josh/Donna
Category: Angst, romance, AU.
Feedback: Always appreciated.
Archiving: Please ask.
Timeline: February of reelection year.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Rick, who does wonders for my self-confidence.

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.

"Here are those numbers you asked for," Donna said as she dropped a few pieces of paper on Josh's desk and turned to leave.

"Thanks. Hey, wait a minute."

"What?" She turned to face him.

"Close the door."

"Okay . . ." She closed the door and looked at him, perplexed. It was late and the bullpen was quiet, so why did he care about the door?

"I was wondering . . . what are you doing next Thursday?"

"Next Thursday? I don't know, it's a Thursday. Working. Why?" She narrowed her eyes at him. "Wait, that's Valentine's Day."


Donna sighed. "Do you need me to make reservations for you? Order flowers sent to . . . um, who?"

"What? No."

"No what?"

"I don't need you to do – any of that." Josh made an impatient gesture with his hand. "That's not why I brought it up."

"So why did you bring it up?"

"I thought maybe we could – have dinner or something. I mean, unless you have other plans," Josh added quickly.

Donna laughed wryly. "Of course I don't have other plans."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Josh asked.

She gestured vaguely at her belly and shrugged. "Who would want to go out with . . ."

"Me," he said simply.

"You don't have to . . ."


Donna looked at him steadily. "You don't have to have dinner with me on Valentine's Day just because you feel sorry for me."

"I'm not. I don't!"

"You don't?" Her eyes showed her shock.

"I mean, there are several people I'd like to personally beat the crap out of because of what they've done to you, but it's not like I'm walking around here pitying you. You don't need that. You're stronger than that."

"Oh," she said in a small voice.

"Now, can we get back to the question at hand?" Josh asked.

"Which question?"

"Will you have dinner with me on Thursday?"

"So even if you're not pitying me, my point still stands," Donna insisted. "You don't need to take me on a fake date so I'm not alone on Valentine's Day."

"Donna." Josh struggled to keep the frustration out of his voice. "Will you please just listen to what I'm trying to say here for a second?"

She just nodded.

"I have no interest in taking you on a fake date."

"So why . . ."

"I want to take you on a real date."

Donna giggled a little hysterically. "You – what? Joshua, that's not funny."

"I'm not trying to be funny! I'm being very, very serious here."

"You want to take ME on a date? Now?"

"Well, I was thinking next Thursday, but . . ."

"No, I mean – now?" Donna waved a hand vaguely. "After everything that's happened, you suddenly decide you want to DATE me?"

"It wasn't a sudden decision," Josh said quietly. "But if you're not interested . . ."

"I didn't – Joshua." She just looked at him for a minute. "Even if you really do think you feel this way, it's probably part of the whole knight in shining armor fantasy you have going about me and the baby. Then later you'd realize and regret it and . . . and I can't lose you. Not now."

Josh got up and started pacing the small office. "Okay, first of all, you're not going to lose me, no matter what. I promise. Second of all, this has nothing to do with the baby. I mean, I wanted you way before I knew about the baby."

"Really?" She sounded uncertain.

Josh looked at the ceiling for a second. "Okay, I can think of a few ways to prove to you that I'm serious about this. Let's start with the fun one."

Donna looked up at him questioningly and found that Josh was suddenly a lot closer than she'd realized. Very, very close. He stared into her eyes for a moment and then leaned forward to gently press his lips to hers. Donna was so stunned that she didn't think to respond, and Josh quickly took a step backward.

"I'm sorry. God, I'm sorry," he said, a stricken look on his face. "I've been reading this all wrong; I can't believe I did - "

Donna took the few seconds of Josh babbling to regroup and process what had happened. Then she launched herself at him. He caught her instinctively, and she threw her arms around his neck and found his mouth with hers.

A few minutes later, she came up for air long enough to murmur, "You weren't misreading anything."

Josh kissed her back, and then finally pulled away. "Wait. We should talk or something. We're supposed to go out next week. I wasn't, ah, prepared for this right now." He started fumbling for something in his pocket.

"You're really serious about this?" Donna asked suddenly. "I mean, I know my track record is awful and I'm in no place to criticize, but I have to think about the baby. You can't just bump into me sideways and - "

"I'm serious." Josh cut her off as he pulled out his wallet and extracted a worn piece of paper. "I have a letter here signed by the President of the United States officially approving our relationship. How much more serious do you want me to be? I could probably get the pope on the phone if you feel it's necessary, or - "

Donna's jaw dropped. "Uh, no. I mean, you don't need to talk to the pope. You really have a letter from the President?"

Josh passed her the letter.

"And we – we could keep our jobs? Really?" Donna asked as she read. "You went to the President and not to Leo."


"That was clever."

"I try."

"So – when was this?" Donna frowned. "Did he know about the baby yet?"

"I didn't even know about the baby yet," Josh told her. "It was the day you found out. Remember how I made you write down the time at which you told me? This is why."

"You were so happy when you came back to your office that day," she said, starting to remember.

"Yes. I thought I finally had a chance at having everything I wanted."

"I'm so sorry," she said softly.

"What?" His face fell. "You mean you don't want - "

"No, no!" Donna said quickly. "I just mean that with the baby and everything – it's complicated. You can't get exactly what you wanted."

"You think I don't want the baby?" he asked, perplexed. "You know I want kids."

"I figured you wanted – your own kids."

Josh shrugged. "I'm not saying I wouldn't like to have biological children some day," he said, choosing his words carefully. "But that doesn't mean I wouldn't want this child as well."

Suddenly Donna started laughing.

"What? Why was that funny?" Josh demanded.

"It wasn't. It's just - " Donna struggled to catch her breath long enough to say a full sentence. "Slow down."

"Okay . . ."

"It sounded like you were about to offer to adopt my baby. Can we go back to the part where you were asking me out on our first date and go from there?"

Josh grinned and gave her a quick kiss, just because he could, and then pulled her over to sit on the sofa. "Sure. I know Valentine's Day is kind of cliched, but I thought it might be – I don't know. Nice."

"Nice?" Donna raised an eyebrow. "I feel like I'm not getting the whole story here."

Josh sighed. "Okay. I'm sure you'd find this out eventually so I might as well tell you now."

"Uh-oh . . ."

"Sam said if I didn't ask you out by Valentine's Day, he would," Josh blurted.

Donna stared at him. "So you're only asking me out because Sam dared you to? You just said you were serious about this!"

"I am! And no! That's not why I'm asking." Josh took a deep breath and tried to gather his thoughts. "Sam knew I was in love with you but afraid you'd reject me and then I wouldn't even have your friendship. So he gave me a deadline to make me actually do something about it."

"Oh." Donna thought about this for a moment. "Wait! Did you just say you're in love with me?"

"Um . . . apparently?"

"Did you mean it?"

"Yes." He didn't see any purpose to misdirection at this point.

"Do you tell all the girls you love them before the first date?"

"No. I've never . . ."

"What?" she asked, when it seemed as though he had no plans to finish his sentence. "You've never what?"

"I've never told anyone I was in love with them before," he confessed.

"Never?" she asked, stunned.

Josh frowned. "Well, maybe Meghan McDeere in fifth grade," he said. "But not since then."

"Wow. Lucky Meghan. What went wrong there?"

"She voted for Jenny Abernathy for sixth grade class president just because Jenny was popular, even though Tom Gilbert's platform was way better."

Donna burst out laughing. "Seriously? You broke up with your girlfriend over politics in SIXTH GRADE?"


"What was Tom Gilbert's platform?"

"He had a nine-point plan for giving all students an equal chance to be involved in school activities, rather than letting everything be controlled by the popular clique. And he had a proposal for partnering with a school in a less affluent town so we could share some of our opportunities with the students there."

"You remember all that?"

"I wrote it for him."

A slow smile spread over Donna's face. "I love you."

"You don't have to say that just because I can't keep my mouth shut," Josh insisted.

"I'm not just saying it."

Josh just grinned and kissed her again. "So. First date on Valentine's Day?"

"Yeah. Does that mean you want to stop with the kissing until then?"

"I really don't want to stop with the kissing ever," he confessed.

"But we're . . . are we trying to keep this a secret, or what?"

"No. We're going to go on a completely public and obvious date. I don't want to be hiding things."

"Good." Donna grinned.

"So maybe we should slow down with the kissing a little until then," Josh suggested.

Donna pouted. "If you insist."

"Well . . . in a minute." Josh had always wanted to kiss that pout off her lips.

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