Title: Radiant, Chapter 4
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.
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. In my universe, Donna is Catholic, and has no close family. This is still in progress, so it's possible that I will go back and edit minor things later.
"Okay. Are we done? Anyone have anything else?" Leo asked, ready to wrap up the meeting.
"Yeah, actually, I've got something," Josh said, with a glance at CJ. "But it's – confidential. I'm gonna shut the doors first."
"Okay . . ." Leo and the rest of the senior staff looked at Josh expectantly as he shut the doors, returned to his seat, and looked up at them.
"Donna's pregnant," he said bluntly.
"Seriously?" Sam looked stunned.
"Seriously," Josh confirmed. "Come on, don't all talk at once . . ."
"Is she okay?" CJ asked again. "Can I go talk to her?"
"No!" Josh snapped. "I mean, I'm sorry, just not yet. I told her I would tell you guys the whole story before you talked to her."
"Okay . . ." CJ said uncertainly.
"Josh, come on," Leo said. "Who's the father?"
"Yeah, I didn't even know Donna had a boyfriend," Sam added.
"She doesn't. It's – well. Basically, she met a guy at a bar and he got her really drunk and convinced her to take a nap in his hotel room, and while she was mostly asleep, he started . . ." Josh couldn't bring himself to finish the sentence.
CJ glared at him, eyes wide.
"She was RAPED?"
"She really didn't like it when I used that word," Josh cautioned. "But yeah."
"I'm gonna go get my baseball bat," Toby muttered.
"She didn't like it when I suggested that, either," Josh said. "I already offered to have him killed, but she said no."
"So . . . does she know who it was?" CJ asked.
"Yeah . . ." Josh took a deep breath. "It's bad, guys."
"Bad for whom?" Leo asked.
"Uh, probably everyone."
CJ and Toby looked at each other.
"Tell me it's not H - "
"No!" Josh cut him off. "Not that bad. It's Bart Williams."
"Bart . . . SENATOR Bart Williams?" Leo asked.
"Yes," Josh said softly.
"Wait, which one's that?" CJ whispered to Sam.
"You know, the senator who looks like Josh," Sam said wryly.
"Wait, what?" Josh's head snapped up. "He looks like me?"
"Kind of, yeah," CJ confirmed.
"So wait," Toby interjected. "What was she doing going off with a senator in the first place? Why would she do something that dumb?"
"Toby, I swear to God - " Josh was halfway out of his seat before CJ put a hand on his arm to hold him back.
"Guys, stop," she said firmly. "Josh, we know Donna isn't dumb. She didn't recognize him?"
Josh shook his head.
"She didn't give me the exact date of the . . . incident, but I'm pretty sure he had only been in Washington a few days at that point. And he gave her a fake name."
"The bastard!" Sam spat out. "Toby, where's your baseball bat?"
"Guys!" CJ tried again to calm them down. "Focus."
"She thought he looked vaguely familiar, but everyone in DC looks familiar at this point," Josh continued. "And if you guys are saying he looks like me . . ."
"She probably realized that and didn't think any more about whether she actually recognized him," CJ finished.
"Yeah . . ." Josh knew it really wasn't the time to start thinking about this, but Donna had said the guy was cute, and now everyone was saying he looked like Josh. That had to mean something, right? Like that Donna thought HE was cute?
Suddenly Sam started laughing, a bit hysterically.
"Samuel Norman Seaborn, what is POSSIBLY funny in this situation?" Leo barked.
"It's just . . . Williams?" Sam said. "He's the Oklahoma golden boy, right? Just won the special election after Truro's whole sex and corruption scandal? Won the special election entirely on his squeaky clean image? Come on, it's kind of funny. In an awful way."
"Rape is never funny!" CJ yelled.
"I'm sorry. You're right." Sam was serious again. "So can we destroy him?"
"Donna made me promise not to physically harm him or blackmail him into voting the way we want for the rest of his term," Josh said regretfully. "But we're sure as hell going to get a Democrat elected to the Senate from Oklahoma as soon as his term is up."
"Sorry to bring us all back to reality here," Toby said. "But I don't think that's what we need to figure out right now. Josh, has Donna decided whether she wants to have the baby?" he asked evenly.
"Yes." Josh paused. "Well, she's still pretty upset, and 'want' is a strong word. But she has definitely decided that she doesn't want to not have the baby."
Toby closed his eyes for a second.
"Okay. Who knows about this?"
"Just the people in this room."
"Really?" Leo asked. "She didn't even tell a friend or anything?"
"She told me."
"Okay then. What's next?"
"We need a media strategy," CJ said.
"No, the first thing we need to do is get Donna to a doctor," Josh contradicted. "She doesn't really remember anything, but obviously we're assuming he wasn't using a condom. She needs to get completely checked out."
"So we need a media strategy," CJ repeated. "We have to assume that the news is going to be out as soon as she goes to the doctor."
"How big a story is this going to be, CJ?" Leo asked. "This isn't 1950. Is anyone really going to care about unwed mothers in the White House?"
"Under normal circumstances, I'd certainly hope not," CJ agreed. "But we're in the middle of a huge investigation. They're going to be looking for absolutely anything they can use to bring down the administration. And after Rosslyn, Donna's a lot more high-profile than anyone else on her level. It's not exactly a secret that she and Josh are closer than any of the rest of us are with our assistants. If she had a boyfriend, it would probably still blow over, but if she doesn't name the father . . . well, people are going to be wondering who we're trying to protect."
"You mean they're going to think it's me," Josh said bluntly. "And start a whole thing about the men of the White House taking advantage of their female staff."
"They'll probably suggest it's any of you, but yes, mostly Josh," CJ confirmed. "And then they'll start saying it's the President."
"Oh, Lord Almighty," Leo grumbled. "Seriously?"
"The four of us could take paternity tests," Toby pointed out. "Just get it over with."
"No, that wouldn't work." Sam shook his head. "If the four of us are out of the picture, speculation will focus on the President. And if he - "
"Then the headline will be 'PRESIDENT TAKES PATERNITY TEST.' It won't matter that it's negative," CJ finished. "We can't afford that headline right now."
"Speaking of the President, we should probably bring him in on this," Leo pointed out.
"I'd like to talk to the First Lady, too," Josh said.
"The First Lady is NOT going to be practicing medicine here, Josh," Toby said.
"I don't want her to practice medicine," Josh snapped. "I thought she might be able to recommend a doctor. And I thought Donna might like to talk to someone who has actually, you know, given birth." His glare swept the room. "She's barely holding it together here, guys."
"Right, of course." Toby's voice softened.
"And I'm going to do whatever I have to do to help her hold it together," Josh warned them. "CJ, I don't think there were any reporters around, but just in case – you should know that Donna stayed at my place last night."
Given the late night phone call, CJ wasn't entirely surprised.
"Please tell me you didn't let her sleep on the couch all night."
"No, of course not. She slept in the bed."
"And you slept on the couch?" Toby confirmed.
"Uh, no, not exactly," Josh admitted. "Toby, she asked me to stay with her. What was I supposed to do?"
"You were supposed to not sleep with your assistant."
"I didn't touch her," Josh said quickly. "I slept with her in only the most literal of senses."
"You didn't touch her at all?" CJ asked. "She came to you with devastating news, and you didn't even give her a hug?"
"No, of course I did! I meant in bed. I didn't touch her in bed."
"So you touched her on the couch, but did not touch her once she was in your bed with you," Toby pressed.
"What the hell is this conversation?" Josh exploded.
"Think of it as practice," CJ told him.
"The press, lawyers, a Congressional investigation . . . whatever."
"Okay." Josh sighed. "And no, I'm not going to promise I won't do it again. I knew she wasn't sleeping much, but I figured it was just that she was worried. But after what she told me last night . . . well, now I think she wasn't sleeping because she was afraid that if she let herself fall asleep, someone would hurt her again. And if for some reason me being there makes her feel safe enough to sleep, I'm sure as hell not going to let any of you tell me I can't."
Toby held Josh's glare for a long moment and then nodded.
"Okay. Sorry if it seems like I'm saying all the bad stuff here. I'm just trying to make sure we're ready for whatever they throw at us."
"I know. And I feel like I should tell you guys . . ." Josh looked around at his friends' faces. They were clearly bracing for more big news. "I offered to just – claim the baby as mine."
"You WHAT?" Leo thundered.
"We just established that that's what people are going to think anyway. I suggested to Donna that we just say it was true."
"You were going to have us all lie for you. NOW? In the middle of this MS investigation?" CJ demanded.
"No!" Josh said. "You wouldn't have been lying. None of you would have been lying. Donna and I would have been the only ones who knew the truth."
"So you were going to lie TO us." Sam was clearly offended. "You were going to come in here this morning and say – what, exactly?"
Josh took a deep breath.
"I was going to come in here this morning and announce that I had great news. I was going to tell you that Donna and I had been together for several months, but because of everything else going on, we had planned to keep it quiet for now and announce our engagement after the election. I was going to tell you that plans had changed and we were moving up the wedding date because she was pregnant. I was going to be completely over the moon about becoming a father, and I was going to dare you all to be anything but thrilled for me."
"Whoa," said Sam quietly.
"And this would have all been a lie?" CJ asked, still trying to process everything Josh was and wasn't saying.
"Uh, the facts of it would not be truthful. Right."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"It means - " Sam looked to Josh for permission to continue, but Josh just shrugged. "It means that if Donna WERE carrying his child, Josh WOULD be over the moon about it," he finished quietly.
"And we really don't have time right now to get into whatever the hell THAT's supposed to mean," Leo cut in, turning to Josh. "But trust me, son, we will be discussing that later. Right now, the more important question is whether this harebrained plan of yours would have worked."
Josh shrugged again.
"I don't know. You tell me. Would you have believed me?"
"The hard part would have been believing that you had been with Donna for months and not even hinted at it to any of us. To me," Sam clarified. "But once we got past that . . ."
"With the exception of the people in this room, you could probably announce that you and Donna had been together since she showed up in Nashua and have everyone believe you," Toby finished.
"So I still think it was a perfectly viable plan," Josh said.
"But – then what, idiot boy? What was going to happen after you announced this engagement and impending parenthood to the world? Did you even think about that?" CJ asked.
"That's pretty much what Donna said, and I still don't understand the question," Josh complained. "I mean, it seems obvious."
"So spell it out for us."
"Then we'd get married and have a baby."
Complete silence fell over the room.
"WHAT?" Josh demanded.
"And – stay married?" Leo asked.
"Of course!" Josh looked wounded. "You think I'd enter into a marriage already planning to get out of it?"
"I think what Leo was asking," CJ said carefully, "was whether you were planning for this to be an actual marriage or just a temporary arrangement to get people to stop asking questions."
"Oh. No, a temporary arrangement hadn't even occurred to me."
"What about your mother?" Leo asked.
"What about her?"
"How could you do that to her? Get her all excited about a grandchild, and then - "
"Then what? Are you saying my mother would only love a grandchild who was biologically mine?" Josh said. "I don't think you're giving her enough credit here, Leo. What if I adopted someday? You think my mother wouldn't count that as a grandchild?"
"No, I guess you're right," Leo said. "If you told your mother Donna was having your baby, she'd be thrilled. I guess I was asking whether you were ever going to tell her the truth."
"I don't know. We didn't get that far in the conversation. Donna said no."
"What was her reasoning?" CJ asked.
"She thought I would end up resenting her and the baby. She didn't want to start a marriage that way."
"Yeah. She doesn't want to be that girl," CJ agreed.
"What girl is that, precisely?" Sam asked.
"The girl who traps the multi-millionaire in a marriage he doesn't want because of someone else's baby."
"Hey!" Josh interjected.
"Calm down, Josh. I'm not going to go calling you a multi-millionaire to the press corps or anything. At least not yet," CJ mused. "But it's not exactly a secret in this room."
"Yeah, but that means it can't be what Donna was thinking," Josh pointed out.
"DONNA doesn't know about the money?" CJ was dumbfounded. "Donna knows everything."
"Well, she knows I have some money from my family, but she doesn't know the details," Josh explained. "I mean, I barely even think about it. It all goes through the accountants and lawyers. I don't deal with it, so she doesn't either."
"Okay. Anyway. Donna said no, so can we stop discussing this non-existent plan now?" Toby asked.
Just then, the door to the Oval Office opened and the President wandered in.
"Mr. President," Leo said as they all got to their feet.
"Are you people ever going to be done with this meeting?" the President asked. "Are you planning an invasion of Canada or something and leaving me out of all the fun?"
"Uh, no, sir, but we do have something we need to bring you in on," Leo told his boss.
"Go ahead. But sit down, everyone."
"Let me tell him," Josh said to Leo. He sat back down and turned to face the President. "Sir, Donna is pregnant."
"Already? When did we - "
"No, sir." Josh hurried to cut him off. "She was date raped."
"Oh, God." The President sat down in an empty chair. "I'm so sorry, son. I can't even imagine how you're feeling."
"What? How JOSH is feeling?" CJ asked. The rest of the room was thoroughly confused.
Josh shook his head, trying to be subtle, and the President got the hint.
"Never mind. Do we know who did this?"
"Yes, sir, but you're not going to like the answer," Josh cautioned.
"I can't think of an answer I'd possibly like, Josh."
"Sir, it was Senator Williams."
"Sir, he had only been in DC for a few days at that point, and he gave her a fake name. She had no idea who it was," Josh explained. "She met him at a bar, and he got her drunk and then convinced her to take a nap in his hotel room before going home. Then once she was asleep, he – he took advantage of her." Josh couldn't believe he was having this conversation with the President.
"So how are we going to destroy him?" the President asked. "We can't have senators running around DC taking advantage of young women."
"Sir, Donna feels pretty strongly that she doesn't want him exposed," Josh said. "She doesn't think we have enough for an actual case against him, and she's probably right. I don't want to make her go through that if we don't even think we can win."
"Oh, all right," the President grumbled. "And I suppose you're not going to let me have him shot, either? Sam, figure out how we can legally keep him away from Donna without anyone knowing."
"And Josh, do you have a candidate in mind yet? I know Oklahoma isn't exactly prime Democratic territory, but I'm sure we can manage."
"Not yet, sir, but I'll work on it."
"Good. Has Donna seen a doctor yet?"
"No, sir, not yet. We're assuming that the news will be public as soon as she does, so we wanted to come up with a strategy first," Josh said. "And, sir, I was hoping she could talk to the First Lady. Maybe get a recommendation, and some advice from an experienced mother."
"Of course. I'll have Charlie – can we bring Charlie in on this?"
"I'll have Charlie make an appointment with my wife for me. I'll explain the situation and then she can talk to Donna."
"Thank you, sir."
"So, media strategy." The President turned to Toby and CJ. "I want you two to work on our options. We'll meet again after lunch."
"Yes, sir," they responded.
"There's one other thing, everyone," Josh said. "I know you're all very generous people and Donna's your friend. But if any of you are planning to offer her any financial assistance, please for the love of God make it crystal clear that you're talking about college tuition or buying a crib or something."
"What?" President Bartlet looked at Josh. "What's this actually about?"
"Sir, Donna is concerned that you all will be upset with her for not just . . . making the problem go away," Josh admitted. "I'm worried that any offers of money could come across in a way that would reinforce that idea."
"Donna does know I'm Catholic, doesn't she, Josh?" the President quipped.
"Uh, yes, sir. As is she," Josh pointed out.
"Look, my administration's official position on this is that every child is a blessing and a gift from God, and that we take care of our own. And you can tell Donna that." He paused. "No, I'll tell her myself. Josh, I want to talk to you privately, and then I'm going to want to talk to Donna alone. Everyone else, get to work."
The rest of the senior staff filed out of Leo's office with a chorus of "yes, sir."
"Mr. President, if you don't mind, I'd like to check in with Donna before I talk to you," Josh said. "I know she's sitting out there worrying about what you're all saying."
"Of course," President Bartlet replied. "I'm going to fill in Charlie and get that appointment with my wife. Just come by when you're ready."
"Thank you, sir."
Josh found Donna at her desk. The casual observer would have thought she was hard at work, but Josh could tell that she was barely paying any attention to the statistics up on her computer screen.
"Donna, come in here and tell me my schedule," Josh called as he walked into his office and began shutting blinds. Donna entered and shut the door.
"So?" she asked. "Do they all hate me?"
"No, no, no." Josh threw his arms around her and sat down in one of the chairs, pulling Donna half onto his lap.
"Josh, we shouldn't," she protested.
"The blinds are closed," he murmured, and then abruptly let her go as another reason for her hesitancy occurred to him. "God, Donna, I'm sorry. I'm such an idiot, just grabbing you like that . . ."
"No . . . Josh!" Tears sprung into her eyes. "It's fine. You could never be like him. You make me feel safe."
"Good," he said as he got up and put her arms around her again. "We really need to get a couch or something in here."
"To prepare for my emotional breakdowns?" she asked.
"Well, that, and because you're going to be needing a lot more rest than you currently get," Josh said. "A couch really isn't an awful idea. I'll work on it."
"Okay." Donna smiled up at him. "So what did they say?"
"They're all worried about you. About what you went through, and what you're going to go through," he started. "They're your friends, and that's primarily how they're reacting. CJ had to stop Toby from going for his baseball bat right then."
"But?" Donna prompted.
"But this is going to be a big deal, for everyone," Josh told her. "Right now, Sam is figuring out how to deal with Williams, and CJ and Toby are working on a media strategy. Charlie is setting up an appointment for you with the First Lady later today and we'll work on getting you to a doctor after that."
"And the President? Is he mad? Josh, do they all want the problem to just go away?" she managed.
"No one wants that," Josh said firmly. "And the President is mad, but not at you. You didn't do anything wrong here. The President's position has something to with blessings and gifts from God, but I told him he could tell you himself."
"I have to talk to the President?" Donna asked.
"Yeah. He wants to talk to me first and then you."
"We can't talk to him together?"
"He was pretty clear," Josh said. "I think he wants to make sure I'm not making decisions for you."
"You're not," Donna assured him. "But I don't know how I'd be handling this without you." She buried her head in his chest and started to cry.
"Shhh," Josh soothed, stroking her hair. "That's what I'm here for. I'm not going anywhere."
"No, really, Josh." She picked up her head and looked into his eyes. "This is – not in your job description."
"And how much of what you do for me is in your job description?" Josh asked.
"Well – that's different," Donna said.
"No, it's really not," Josh insisted. "You're not just some assistant, Donna. You know that. And I'm here for whatever you need. Well, except I think right now the President is waiting for me."
"Yeah, that's reassuring," she quipped. "Go. Can I wait here?"
"Of course," Josh told her. "Charlie will come get you, okay?"
"Don't forget to tell him you asked if he was the father," she giggled. "I'm sure he'll appreciate that."
Josh left the room chuckling. She was making fun of him again, which was the best sign he'd had in a while that everything would eventually be okay.
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