Title: Melting

Category: Josh/Donna, Donna's POV

Rating: PG-13 for bad language

Summary: Donna doesn't know if she should love Josh or leave him.

Author: Ceitie(kea337@hotmail.com)

Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me; I have no money, so please don't sue me. The quote is from "The Rose and the Beast", by Francesca Lia Block.

 

Melting

"She had changed him. The ice was in his eye and in his heart, but now they were deep embedded there, all the pain of the world. Not pain to make you feel for somebody else but pain to make you stop feeling."

I don't know how long I stood outside his apartment door, staring at the flaking paint. I was torn. When I heard about Josh's "episode", as everyone was calling it, I felt someone drop a lead weight into my stomach. A shudder ran through my entire body, causing my face to twitch and my hands to jerk, spilling papers to the ground in a flurry of white.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was sure of it. I spent the rest of the day in a haze, doing nothing except trying to get more information about Josh. I could practically sense the air around me becoming dark and heavy, and I was terrified. I was so certain that Josh was once again descending into the hell from which we had dragged him, and maybe this time he wouldn't escape so easily.

As it turned out, my fears were unjustified. Sort of. Apparently he'd only had a minor freak-out, caused by the stress he'd been under for the past week or so. Okay, fine, whatever. I was majorly relieved, but still worried enough to decide to pay him a visit at his apartment that evening, instead of just giving him a call. We hadn't really talked much lately, Josh and I, we had become somewhat distant. Still, he was Josh, and I wanted to see if he was all right.

So I drove over to his apartment through the busy Friday night traffic, walked up his steps, and when I buzzed his apartment, who else buzzed me up but Amy Gardner.

She told me indifferently to come on up, and I froze when I heard her voice. As I walked mechanically up to Josh's apartment, my mind was raging, howling in fury and outrage. Amy Gardner, who had been fighting against Josh over that damned bill, who had probably caused at least three-quarters of his stress for the past months that he had been dating her, was now in his apartment after he'd practically had a nervous breakdown because of her.

A part of me was aware that I was exaggerating, but that did nothing to stop the rest of me, which was thinking: that bitch.

It wasn't just what had happened today. Josh and I had grown farther and farther apart this year. I know a lot of it had to do with the incident with Cliff, and I admit that was completely and totally my fault. But it created a coldness between us, which grew worse as he continued to date Amy. Oh sure, we still bantered and argued, but some of the warmth, and, well, the flirting had gone out of it. And just recently, there had been a tiredness about him, and a coldness in his eyes, that I've never seen stay with him for this long. I knew that it couldn't be completely Amy's fault, but her influence was making him worse. When I looked in Josh's eyes nowadays, I didn't really see him anymore. All I saw was ice, ice that concealed his true self.

As I stood in front of his door, I made a decision. This was it. I couldn't take this anymore. I wasn't sure if I loved him or not, but I knew I didn't want to lose him. I also knew that I didn't want to watch as he turned into an emotionless Amy-clone. At one time, I had thought that I would never leave him, never abandon him, no matter what happened, but lately...I was getting the feeling that he didn't really want me anymore, didn't even really like me anymore. So tonight, we would figure out where we stood...or I would leave. I would find another job, and within a few years, our strange relationship would be nothing more than a fond memory.

Amy opened the door and let me in; I only gave her the briefest of nods before moving past her into the apartment. Maybe I was afraid that she would see the hatred in my eyes.

The apartment was cold and dark. The air conditioner was going full blast as a defense against the heat outside, and the only light was that of the streetlights, shining through the window. I was barely aware of Amy talking behind me. All I saw was Josh, lying on the couch, asleep. She rattled on in that flat voice of hers as I walked towards him, about how he had been so worn out, how maybe I should leave and let him rest, blah blah blah. I didn't answer, just knelt down next to the couch and touched his shoulder, than his face. He was so cold.

"Josh? Wake up. It's Donna." I whispered. I was almost surprised that my breath didn't cause a cloud. He didn't even twitch. I realized Amy had fallen silent, so I turned around to see where she was.

She stood against the wall with her hands on her hips, staring back at me with an expression that was not quite boredom, but didn't extend to amusement, or even curiosity. She obviously thought I was unwanted here, and she was probably right, I thought with a gulp. Staring at her, I was once again struck by how much prettier she was than me, with her delicate features and marble white skin. No wonder Josh hadn't noticed me much lately, with her around.

I pushed my jealousy away as best I could, and turned back to Josh. I continued to call his name, softly, and I was reminded of the nights when I had watched over him, when he was still healing from his bullet wound. A tear fell from my eye as I bent over him, splashing on his face. I almost expected it to freeze when it landed.

"Josh, come on, wake up. I just need to talk to you. Please. I just need to make sure that you're okay, I just..." My breath was coming in gulps now, and more hot tears were dripping from my eyes, falling on his face, his eyes, his mouth. This is ridiculous, I yelled inwardly, as my thoughts spun. He's only sleeping, why the fuck are you crying? Amy's standing right behind you; she must think you're a total flake, either that or a nut. My thoughts jumped again, to a stranger plane. Love breaks evil spells, that's what the stories say. God, I love him so much. But this isn't a fairy tale, and Josh isn't under a spell, and I don't know if even love can save him from himself.

I couldn't stop my tears, nor could I stop my whispered pleas.

"Please, please wake up. I'll leave, I promise, I'll leave you alone, just wake up. Please. I need to know that you're okay." My voice broke, and I struggled to keep from sobbing. Great, Donna, you're falling apart. Josh's face was wet with my tears, and I thought I could hear Amy snickering quietly behind me. My hands were cold, my whole body was freezing. My toes were going numb, and I was sure my teeth would start chattering soon. Than Josh opened his eyes.

He stared at me for the longest moment, his eyes searching my face; his own face a twist of confusion. Than his eyes moved past me to her, and I literally felt my heart stop, crack in two, and the pieces drop into darkness. I knew what he must have been seeing, all her beauty highlighted by the cold blue glow of the streetlight. I stifled another sob. How could I have ever thought – well, forget it now. The cost of the mutilation it would take to make me look like Amy was too pricey for me. It was over. It was over before it had even begun. I had begun to pull away from him when his eyes left hers and returned to mine. He saw the tears in my eyes, and touched his face where my tears had fallen.

And then...and then the ice that had been in Josh's eyes for so long melted away. For the first time in months, I was seeing the real Josh, and he was seeing me. His eyes traveled over my face like he was trying to memorize my features. Than his eyes returned to my own, and I nearly started crying again because of the pain and tenderness I saw in them. I opened my mouth to say something, God knows what, but he smiled at me, that crooked Josh smile that always made me melt, and put his hand behind my neck to pull me close.

Than my mouth was on his, and I could taste the salt of my tears on his lips.

I don't know if I really believe in happy endings, but right now, in this cold cold room, anything is possible. Maybe we'll finally be able to keep each other warm.