Title: Radiant, Chapter 3
Disclaimer: Not mine in any way.
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: November of the year before reelection.
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. This is still in progress, so it's possible that I will go back and edit minor things later.

Donna knocked on Josh's door a few minutes after he got home. She had changed into some kind of yoga pants and a big Harvard sweatshirt. Huh. Josh had wondered what had happened to that shirt. She looked very young and very vulnerable.

"Come on in," he said a little awkwardly. "Can I get you a . . . something?"

She giggled nervously.

"Yeah, offering me a beer doesn't really work so well anymore," she said.

"How about a cup of tea?" Josh suggested. "Decaf."

"Sure. Thanks."

Josh busied himself making the tea, giving Donna the time and space to get comfortable and prepare herself for whatever it was she needed to say. When he came back into the living room with two steaming mugs, he saw her standing at his bookcase, staring at something. He walked up behind her and saw that it was one of the few pictures he had of his whole family, taken when he was a baby.

"It's . . . it's still sinking in," Donna started. "I have myself thinking I'll be okay, but then I see a picture like that and I realize that I'll never be able to give my baby something like that. That perfect family portrait."

"No family is perfect," Josh reminded her gently. "And there's more than one kind of family."

"Yeah," she said softly. Josh vowed to himself that someday he would make sure she had that perfect family portrait, even if she didn't want him to be in it.

"Come on, let's sit," Josh suggested. He sat down toward one end of the couch, letting how close they sat be up to her. To his relief, she sat right next to him and rested her head on his shoulder for a moment.

"I don't know where to start," she said.

"Wherever you want. We have as much time as you need."

She pulled away from him a little.

"Maybe I should just say it," she said. "Just say the basics and then we can go back and fill in the details later."

"Okay." He nodded.

"Just – don't say anything, okay?"

"At all?" He doubted that was going to work.

"No, just – let me finish. I need to get it all out with no interruption. I'll tell you when I'm done."

"That sounds fair."

"So." She sat up straight on the couch, her back stiff. "A few weeks ago, I met some friends at a bar after work. I started talking to a guy. He was kind of cute, and nice enough, and interested in me. And I wanted to feel like someone was interested in me."

She paused, and Josh wondered if he was supposed to jump in and say something. But he remembered his promise about not talking, so he just nodded.

"So we were talking, and then a band started playing and it was really loud. He said he was staying at the hotel above the bar, and suggested we go upstairs to continue our conversation so that we could hear ourselves think."

Donna took a deep breath to steel herself for what she had to say next.

"So I went. I was kind of thinking it was stupid at the time, but I'd had a lot to drink. We went upstairs and talked a little but then he started kissing me. And I was really tired so he suggested I rest on his bed before going home. And then the next thing I knew we were . . ." Donna finally looked over at Josh, afraid of what she would see in his eyes. "Okay, you can talk now."

"Can I hug you?" he asked first.

"Yeah. That would be nice." Donna leaned back against him and he wrapped his arms around her.

"He didn't use any protection?" he murmured into her hair.

"I guess not." She looked ashamed.

"No, no, I didn't mean – Donna. Look at me."


"I'm not blaming you or trying to make you feel guilty about anything," Josh told her slowly. "And I certainly don't think any less of you or anything like that. I'm just trying to get a handle on what's going on."

"Thanks." She was still upset, but her mouth hinted at a smile. "But other people will think those things."

"I won't let them," he said fiercely.

"You like this knight in shining armor fantasy you've got going here, don't you, Joshua?" she teased, and for a moment it almost felt like they were back to their normal mocking selves. Then she looked serious again. "Honestly, I was mostly asleep. I didn't notice whether he had a condom or not."

"Donna . . ." Josh said slowly. "If you weren't aware enough to know whether he was using a condom, were you aware enough to consent in the first place?"

She pulled away from him and didn't answer.

"Donna. He raped you."

"No!" she said quickly. "I mean, I agreed to go back to the room with him."

"Were you planning to have sex with him?" Josh asked quietly. He hated having to ask her these questions.

"I – I don't know." She finally met his eyes. "Honestly, Josh. When we walked up there – I mean, the thought certainly crossed my mind that that was what he was hoping for. But I hadn't decided what I was going to do."

"Okay." Josh strained to keep his voice calm. "Let's go over the details here. So you went up to the room with him. What do you remember happening then?"

"He kept giving me drinks," Donna said. "We started kissing. I said I was tired and I should go, but he said I was too tired and drunk to be out alone and I should take a nap there first. He convinced me to lie down on the bed. And I honestly don't remember what happened after that."

"Did you consciously give verbal consent to sexual intercourse?" Josh knew he was slipping into lawyer mode, but he couldn't help it. At least it gave him a little distance.

"No, I didn't," Donna said sadly. "But I didn't say no either." Now she couldn't stop the tears from coming. Josh wrapped his arms around her and held on tight as she cried. After a few minutes, Donna wiped her eyes and looked up at him. "I'm not interested in pressing charges or anything, Josh," she warned. "I don't want to go through that."

"Okay." He decided to let it go for now. "But this definitely means that we have to get you to a doctor as soon as possible. Who knows what could be wrong with this guy – wait." He realized that she still hadn't given him a name. "Donna, I'm sorry, but you really need to tell me who it was."

"It's bad," she said. "I'm afraid."

"Afraid of what, Donnatella?"

"Afraid you'll yell, for one thing," she said.

"Donna, what I told you before is still true," Josh assured her. "You can tell me anything about this, and I won't yell. And I won't think less of you or hold anything against you. Ever."

"It's really really bad," she said again.

"Okay. The worst option I can think of is the President, and I assume it's not him."

Donna couldn't help but giggle, and some of the tension was broken.

"No," she managed. "Not the President."

"Oh, God." Josh was suddenly very serious. "Hoynes . . ."

"No," Donna said quickly. "Do you really think I would sleep with the Vice President?"

"The question is more whether I really think the Vice President would get you drunk and take advantage of you," Josh said. "And yes, I have to say that that would not completely surprise me."

"But you worked for him . . . Never mind. We can discuss that later," Donna said. "Josh, stop guessing. I'll just tell you."

"Okay," he said quietly.

She looked away from him.

"It was Bart Williams."

"Bart Williams . . . Bart Williams?" It was taking all of Josh's self-control not to yell. But he had promised. "Bart Williams, Republican, new junior senator from Oklahoma? That Bart Williams?"

Donna nodded.

"But . . . why?" Josh asked. "I'm not mad, and I'm not judging you. I just want to know what happened." He was starting to feel like he was saying the same things over and over.

"I didn't know who he was until afterward," Donna said. "Josh, I would never have even kissed a Senator – a married, Republican Senator – if I knew who it was. You believe me, right?"

"You didn't recognize the name?"

"He – he gave me a fake name, Josh," Donna explained. "Sure, I thought he looked vaguely familiar, but at this point practically everyone in this city looks vaguely familiar, and if they don't, I think they should. I hadn't actually met him before. He's been in DC all of what, three weeks?"

"Yeah, about that . . . Wait, he gave you a fake name?" Josh repeated. "I can't believe him. The bastard. I should have him shot. The son-of-a-" He broke off as he saw Donna's eyes fill with tears. "No, no, Donna, don't cry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you cry." He pulled her head down to rest on his shoulder.

"It's just . . . thanks," Donna managed. "I'm just happy to feel like someone's on my side."

"I'm always on your side," Josh told her firmly. "So . . . do you know what you want to do?"

Donna hesitated.

"Wait," Josh added quickly. "Before you say anything at all, you know that you shouldn't let money be any kind of consideration in this decision, right? Do not worry about money."

"Everyone worries about money, Josh." Donna smiled sadly. "Does that – does that mean you'd rather I get an abortion?"

"No!" Josh's vehemence surprised them both. "No no no. That's not what I meant at all. I was thinking more along the lines of college tuition. And, you know, diapers."

"Oh." Donna thought about this for a minute. "But the others – wouldn't they see it as easier for the administration if this whole issue just went away?"

"I don't care," Josh said stubbornly. "And yeah, some people might think that, but everyone who cares about you will respect whatever decision you make."

"I don't want to get an abortion," Donna whispered. "I mean, I'm pro-choice, but that's not the choice I want to make."

"Okay. Time to stop talking about that option, then. You don't need to convince me."

"I've always wanted to be a mother," Donna continued. "I just would never have wanted it to be like this."

"I know." He pulled her back so her head was resting on his chest. "But you're gonna be amazing."

"Will I be able to keep my job?"

"Do you want to?" Josh asked.

"Josh, I'm about to become a single mother. This is not the time to go looking for a new job," Donna pointed out.

"Of course you can keep your job." Josh tried not to let the relief he was feeling show in his voice. Ever since she had told him she was pregnant, he had been fearing that she would want to leave, and he didn't know how he'd survive without her. "I mean, for one thing, it would be completely illegal to fire you because you're pregnant. And more importantly, I think the country would pretty much fall apart."

"I'm not going to be able to keep up the same hours for a while," Donna warned him.

"I know. We'll make it work," Josh promised.

"Do I have to tell him? Williams?" Donna asked suddenly.

"I don't know. Well, no, YOU don't have to ever speak to him again if you don't want to. But someone might have to tell him. I don't want to promise you anything about that until we talk to the others."

"Okay," Donna said. "I don't want him involved, Josh. I mean, I'm sure he wouldn't want to be, but . . ."

"I know. It's fine. I'll keep him away from you."

"But I don't want you to use this against him politically, either," Donna continued. "You can't blackmail him into voting with the President on everything."

"How did you know I was thinking that?" Josh stared at her.

"I'm tuned to you," she reminded him lightly. "But seriously. I don't want to be used like that."

"Yeah, you're right," Josh said reluctantly. "Can I at least beat him up?"

"No! You can't go around beating up senators, Josh."

"Sometimes I think it would make my job a lot easier," he grumbled.

"The offer is very sweet and all, but no," Donna repeated firmly. "And no, you can't just have him killed, either."

"Do you really think I could have someone killed if I wanted to?" Josh asked.

"If you really wanted to? Probably."

Josh considered for a minute.

"Yeah, you're probably right."

They both started laughing.

"So," Josh continued. "Let's sum up where we are so far. You want to keep working, and we'll figure out how to make the schedule stuff work. You don't want Williams involved, and you don't want to deal with him personally. Do you want me to figure out how to work that as far as any legal stuff involved in not naming a father?"

Donna nodded.

"Okay. The next thing we need to do is get you to a doctor. Do you have one you want to see?"

Donna shook her head.

"Not really."

"Okay." Josh thought for a minute. "You know, I bet the First Lady would have a recommendation. Which brings us to . . . telling people."

"Yeah," Donna said softly.

"I think it would be best to tell a few people tomorrow, so we can get you to the doctor tomorrow or Thursday. Does that sound okay to you?" Josh wanted to take charge of the situation and fix everything, but he knew he had to try not to make decisions for her.

"Yeah. Who needs to know?"

"I was thinking just a few people, for now." Josh paused. "If you want, I can tell them at Senior Staff tomorrow and get the worst of it over with. Then you can talk to people about it afterward."

"Oh, would you?" Donna asked. "I want them to know, but I really don't want to have to tell them."

"Of course. So for now, it'll be the President and Dr. Bartlet, and Toby, Sam, Leo, and CJ. And maybe Charlie? That would probably make things easier."

"Charlie's fine," Donna agreed.

"Actually, would you mind if I call CJ tonight?" Josh asked. "I want to give her some time to start thinking about how to spin it."

"Okay," Donna said. "This is going to be a huge story, isn't it?"

"Yeah." Josh didn't see any point to trying to convince anyone it wasn't. "What do you want to say, exactly?"

"As little as possible."

"Okay. I think we should assume that word will be out as soon as you go to the doctor. If it doesn't get out then, great, but we should be ready."

Donna nodded.

"And you don't want to try to convince people you were at the doctor for some other reason, right?" Josh asked.

"Right. I mean, it will be obvious soon enough that I'm pregnant," Donna pointed out. "Can I just say . . . yes, I'm pregnant, and the father is not involved and so there is no reason to name him?"

"That sounds like the gist of it," Josh said. "Maybe you can talk to CJ about the best way to phrase it. But you know the reporters aren't going to just drop it, right? And a lot of them will say it's . . ."

"Will say it's you," Donna finished for him.


"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I'm dragging you into this."

"No, no, that's not what I meant," Josh said. "I just wanted to make sure you were prepared for that."

"Who else will they suspect?"

"I don't know . . . Sam? Toby? Anyone you spend time with," Josh said. "And some crazy right-wingers will probably try to suggest that it's the President, but I don't think anyone will take that seriously."

"Oh, God. So you're basically saying that on top of the MS, we're now going to have a huge White House sex scandal. And it's all my fault."

"No. It's not your fault," Josh told her. "It's HIS fault."

Donna nodded.

"And if you want, we could all take paternity tests," Josh pointed out.

"I don't know . . ." Donna said. "I don't want to make any more decisions right now."

"Okay. We can talk about that later. They're also going to hunt down all your ex-boyfriends, going pretty far back," Josh continued. "Anyone you'd been out with recently. And there's a chance they'll find someone who saw you at that hotel."

"I didn't even think of that."

"We'll cross that bridge if we come to it." Josh could see that Donna was looking tired. "Are you feeling okay?"

"I'm just tired," Donna said. "I'm always tired these days."

"Have you been having much morning sickness or anything? I guess it's a little early for that."

"Not yet. Wait, what do you know about that?"

"I've been doing some reading," Josh confessed.

"Josh. That's really cute. Wait, I assume you weren't checking books out of the library or anything dumb like that?"

"No, of course not," Josh assured her. "I've been reading stuff online."

"You found it yourself? Without me?" Donna looked amazed.

"I did!" Josh crowed proudly. "Although I have to admit that it took a lot longer that way."

"Of course." Donna leaned her head back on the couch and closed her eyes.

"Donna - " Josh wasn't sure how to say what he had to say next. "Don't fall asleep yet. There's one more option we should talk about before anyone but the two of us knows about this."

"There is?"

"We know that when you don't name the father, some people will think it's me, right?" Josh started carefully.

"Right. We've been over that. 'Some people' might be an understatement."

"So we could just . . . confirm it."

"What?" Donna stared at him, clearly stunned. "It isn't true. What do you mean, we could just confirm it?"

"Just say that yes, it's my baby. End of story. No one but the two of us ever needs to know that's not true." The more he thought about it, the more reasonable, and appealing, this option seemed.

"But – then what?" Now she was looking at him like he was crazy. "Did you even think about that when you came up with this insane idea?"

"Then . . . we'd have a baby. I'm not sure what you're asking."

"You can't just claim paternity and then walk away, Josh," Donna said. "I mean, the President wouldn't let you do that, for one thing."

"Who said anything about walking away?"

"Joshua." Her voice was sad. "You'd end up hating me."

"I could never hate you!"

"I know you're trying to be a hero, trying to save me, and it's really sweet. It is. And I appreciate it. But in a few months, maybe a year or two, you'd be stuck in this charade with no way out and you'd hate me. I mean, it would ruin your personal life, for one thing. Who would want to date someone who had a child with his assistant?"

"Oh." Josh saw that she had misunderstood. "No no no. I didn't mean I'd just claim paternity and pay child support and whatever. I meant – well, we wouldn't have to get married if you didn't want to, of course, but I wasn't exactly envisioning dating other people at that point."


"It's sort of traditional when there's going to be a baby," he pointed out.

"That's . . . that's incredibly kind of you, Joshua." Her tone softened. "But my point still stands. You'd end up stuck in a marriage you didn't want because of a baby that wasn't even yours. You'd end up resenting me, and the baby. Even if I could put up with it, I couldn't do that to you or my child."

Josh sighed.

"I really don't think that would happen, Donnatella. But it's up to you."

She shook her head.

"Thank you. Really. But no."

"Are you sure?" he pressed. "Personally, I think there could be worse things than being married to you."

She smiled.

"Thanks. I agree. Being married to me would probably make your life a lot easier."

Josh couldn't help but laugh at that one.

"But I don't think starting a marriage that way would be fair to either of us," Donna finished.

"Okay." He hugged her again and tried not to show how oddly disappointed he was. "I just wanted to offer. But whatever you want is fine."

"Right now I think I just want to . . . rest for a minute," Donna said, closing her eyes again.

"Rest as long as you want," Josh whispered. He sipped the dregs of his now-cold tea as he watched Donna fall asleep on the couch. Her face relaxed in sleep and he marveled yet again at how beautiful she was. And how strong. Given all that she was facing, she was holding up remarkably well. Josh eased himself off the couch, being careful not to wake her, and took his phone into his bedroom to start doing what little he could to help Donna get through this.

Josh sat down on the bed, took a deep breath, and dialed. CJ answered her cell on the second ring.

"Josh? What's wrong?" She sounded groggy.

"Did I wake you?" he asked, glancing at his watch. It was later than he'd thought.

"No – whatever. It's fine. What's up?"

"Sorry. But you know how you're always telling us you're our first call?"

"Yeah . . ." CJ didn't like the direction this was heading.

"Now, keep in mind that I bear absolutely no direct responsibility for what I'm about to tell you," Josh started.

"It's the middle of the night, Josh. Spit it out."

"I'll give you the details at Senior Staff tomorrow, but I just wanted to give you a head's up. You might want to start thinking about how we'd spin the pregnancy of a relatively senior staffer who was single and refused to name the father."


"CJ, remember the first thing I told you in this conversation," Josh cautioned.

"That I'm your first call? Thank goodness, but . . ."

"Okay, the second thing."

"That you bear no responsibility . . . okay." CJ sighed. "Really?"


"Wait – Josh, why are you whispering?" CJ asked. "Please tell me you're not having this conversation in a public place."

"No, I'm home," Josh said.

"So you're whispering because . . ."

"Because Donna's asleep on my couch," Josh admitted.

"Right. So . . ."


"I mean, I sort of figured, since you knew about it first, but . . ."


"So who is the father?"

"We'll talk about it tomorrow, CJ," Josh said firmly.

"Is she okay? I'm asking as a friend, Josh."

"She's . . . no, not really. But she will be."

"Okay. Take care of her," CJ instructed.

"I will." Josh hung up the phone and walked back out into the living room. Donna was fast asleep.

"Donna," he said softly, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Wake up, Donnatella."

"Huh?" Donna opened her eyes and squinted at him. "Oh. I'm sorry. Do you want me to go?"

Josh closed his eyes for an instant as he thought about how he would really like to answer that question. He wished he could tell her no, he never wanted her to leave. Ever.

"No, no, shh," he said soothingly. "I'm just not letting you sleep on the couch all night. I mean, with what we're in for tomorrow, do you really think I need Dr. Bartlet yelling at me about that too?"

She cracked a smile.

"Thanks, but . . . I don't want to take your bed - "

Josh saw the slightest flicker of uncertainty in her eyes and began to get angry again. A friend offering to let her stay over was never going to mean the same thing to Donna again, no matter how hard she tried to get past it. How dare he? How dare that man do this to her?

"I'm fine on the couch. I promise," he told her.

"Okay," she said. "Thanks." She followed him into the bedroom; he flicked on the bedside lamp and turned down the covers for her.

"Anything you need?" he asked as she sat down on the bed.

"No, I'm fine."

He nodded and turned to leave.

"Good night, Donnatella."

"Wait . . . Josh?"

He turned back and looked at her.

"Will you stay with me?" There were tears in her eyes. Suddenly Josh felt like he was about to cry as well.

"Of course," he managed.

"I just – I just don't want to be alone right now."

"Let me just change and brush my teeth," Josh told her. "I'll be right there."


Josh grabbed sweatpants and a t-shirt from his bureau and headed for the bathroom. He usually slept in boxers, but he didn't want to risk making Donna uncomfortable. Probably the more clothes the better at this point.

When he got back to the bedroom, Josh saw that Donna was almost asleep again. He slid into bed on the other side, being careful not to touch her, and reached over to turn off the lamp.

"Good night, Donnatella," he whispered into the darkness.

Previous | Next