Part 4: The Art of Making Love With Your Clothes On
I've never seen him cry before.
He's never let me. I don't think he's let anyone see that, not even his girlfriends. Especially not his girlfriends, I'd guess; they've always been the kind who'd use it against him somehow. I could be wrong, of course, but I don't think I am—I don't think he's let anyone see him cry, maybe not since he was a very small boy.
He didn't cry after he was shot, at least not when I was there. He needed to: I've never seen anyone in that much pain for that long. I thought I knew how bad it was, until I had chest surgery too and realized I'd had no idea. And I still have no idea, because what they did to me took less than an hour and he was under for fourteen, and I wasn't on bypass and hadn't been shot. That kind of pain changes you: it changed me, and I know it changed him. I cried. But if he let himself cry it was at night when no one was there to see. If he let himself cry at all.
He didn't cry when they told him he had post-traumatic stress disorder. It's an incurable psychiatric condition. People get better with it—they don't get the episodes as often, they don't get them as badly, they learn how to manage better when they do have them—but they never really get over it, or that's what I understood from what I read about it, and I read an awful lot about it at the time. I know he was terrified before they told him what it was; he must have thought he was losing his mind. I know he was still frightened after they told him: he was afraid the Secret Service wouldn't let him in the building anymore, even though Leo said he'd keep his job. He was afraid he'd never be able to listen to music again, and he loves music—really loves it, though it isn't something he talks about a lot or lets a lot of people see. He was afraid when I took him to the emergency room to have his hand looked at—afraid someone would ask how he'd done it, afraid someone from the press would see him there and everyone would know. He was afraid he'd put his hand through a window again. He didn't tell me he was frightened; he didn't have to—I could see it in his face, hear it in his voice when he was telling me the little he did. He was hurting inside and outside, he was frightened and humiliated and almost lost then, but he didn't cry. He didn't even come close to crying.
It's not that he doesn't feel things; he does—a lot. So much more than most people realize. It's not what they expect from someone in his job; it's not what they expect from someone like him. They see the single-mindedness, the focus, the intensity, the drive, and they think that's all there is. Most of them don't like him very much. It's hard to blame them: look at that pep talk he gave the staff this morning, when he was too tense to say thank-you to anyone, when all he could do was find fault. When he's got his mind set on getting something done, that's all he can think about; he's oblivious to other people's feelings then. It can be hard to take.
I should know, I've been there, especially this past year: I've been one of those people who doesn't like Josh very much. Or at least part of me has been, part of the time; there was always that other part of me that wouldn't stop liking him, no matter how much I wanted it to. But I remember now what I've been forgetting all this time: when Josh is like that, he's pretty much oblivious to his own feelings, too. Which isn't good for him, any more than it is for the people around him. It isn't good for him at all.
What the others don't see is what I've seen: a man who came to my apartment all but falling-down drunk one night to tell me I didn't have to worry about what would happen if there was a nuclear holocaust, because he'd told the NSA he wouldn't get on a plane with the President and leave me alone. He wasn't what you'd call coherent—he seemed to think this decision would somehow make me feel safer. The funny thing is, it did. It wasn't just me, of course—he told me he didn't want to leave me, or C.J., or Sam, or even Toby on our own. Exactly what he thought he could do to help us if he stayed, I don't know; that wasn't the point. He has a sense of responsibility beyond anyone's I've ever met; he makes burdens for himself no one could carry, and then tries to carry them and run at the same time. He thinks he has to save the world. He'll jump on desks and shout like a maniac when he thinks he's done it. He can't forgive himself when he finds he hasn't. But he doesn't cry about it, not in front of other people, not in front of me. Not until now.
He didn't cry when I told him his father died, not in front of the others, not in front of me. His face screwed up and his eyes got wet, and then he left the room. He didn't cry when I told him they'd taken Leo to the hospital. He didn't cry when he saw Annabeth crying, when she told us what had happened, when he knew the worst. Other people were there then, and Josh doesn't cry in front of other people. Or that's what I thought.
But he's crying now. I'm here, and he's crying for Leo, and he isn't trying to make me think he's doing anything else. He wipes his face, but he doesn't turn away. His voice cracks when he tells me the thing I know is hurting the most. He isn't hiding anything from me, not anything that matters at all.
And I'm not hiding anything either. I tell him what's happened isn't his fault. I tell him what an amazing thing this is that he's done with this campaign. I tell him how proud Leo was of him, how proud he should be of himself. And without saying another word I've just told him how proud I am of him, too. How well I know him. How much I care about him, how much he means to me. All the things I've been so afraid to show him this last year, I'm showing him now.
And he's showing me. Without saying a word about me, he's showing me how much he trusts me, how close he feels to me, how much he needs me. He bends his head and rests it against my chest. I put my hand on his back and rub it gently.
We've been like this before, almost, but it's different now. He's crying and not trying to hide it from me. I'm not trying to pretend that this is just my job.
We're in the room where a man we both loved died just a few hours ago. His things are everywhere; housekeeping will be here any minute now to clean them up. We both have our clothes on, but I feel like we're naked. Sex is the last thing either of us is thinking about, but we're making love now like we've never made it before.