Comfort through Trials - Changes
Archive: If you want it, take it. Just let me know where it's going.
Author's Notes: Sequel to "Comfort through Trials - Fallout."
Disclaimer: They're not mine, I just borrow them to play with.
It was the window. The window scared me. He wouldn't let Sam or Donna come to the apartment, and he didn't really want me to hover. I still don't know what happened in there - in his office, or at the Christmas party, but I want to know. We were going to talk. He asked if I wanted to stay up and have a drink with him. I just left for a minute. I've left Sarah's children alone for longer. I just left for a second to change into jeans, and then I heard the glass breaking and the super pounding at the door.
My God Josh. Let me take you to the emergency room. Josh? Josh, talk to me. Joshua!
His head snaps up then, and he walks past me into the bathroom. I can hear him yanking things out of the medicine cabinet, and I want to chase after him and drag him to the hospital, but I can't. Not only is the super still banging at the door, but I can't drag him off. I can't do it physically, and right now, I don't think I could do that to him emotionally. Instead, I open the door, and step out into the hall to talk to the super.
When I step back through the front door, Josh is sitting on the couch, swirling his scotch in a glass. There's a bandage wrapped awkwardly around his hand, and the blood is seeping through it. "Josh?" He doesn't even acknowledge my existence, and right now, I'm more worried about him than I've ever been about Sam. I don't know what to do. I mean, it's obvious there's something wrong, but Donna made me swear I wouldn't do anything that could cost him his job. Somehow, I think packing him off to a mental ward falls into that category.
Instead, I walk into my bedroom, and look up Jamie's phone number. It's late, but it's not that late. He answers on the fifth ring, and I worry that I woke him up, but I can hear the rock music in the background. He's muttering something about teenagers staying up until all hours, but his kids don't listen to eighties rock, so I don't know who he thinks he's fooling. At first, he thinks I'm calling about work, but when I tell him what I want, he tells me to go ahead.
The words tumble out. Everything Josh has said about the pilot and sirens. The jumbled bits about Toby's music, and Sam's father's funeral, and about hateful people and gunshots. None of it makes sense, because he just jumps from one to another without giving me time to understand, but Jamie's taking it all in, and I don't know what to think. When I finish, he asks me if I'm okay. Of course I'm okay. I'm just panicked because my best friend is acting like he's lost his mind.
Jamie's quiet for a second, and he tells me that all he can tell me without actually, you know, meeting Josh, was post traumatic stress disorder. See? I'm confused now. I thought that was something that happened to people who went to war, and not for the first time, I wonder why I didn't study abnormal psych instead. I'm half listening to Jamie now, and half listening to Josh in the living room, because I'm afraid he'll break something else.
"..... and I'd keep an eye on him. PTSD often results in suicidal tendencies. Elizabeth? Elizabeth? LISA!" I jump when I hear him yell my name. Right after that part about suicide, my mind checked out. I'm fighting to keep things together now, and I make my excuses, and reach out to end the connection. I redial without removing the phone from my ear. I am so out of my league here. The only person I can think to call is Leo. I call Leo.
He's asking me what I know about ATVA, and I tell him nothing at all. He's already made arrangements for Josh to see someone. Leo, that's great, but did you see him tonight? I'm not sure where Leo is along that spectrum we have. I'm not sure if right now I'm talking to my friend, or to Josh's boss, but I can't stop myself. It's all spilling out now. Josh's office, the window, Jamie's warning..... When I stop talking, he asks if he should come over. No, no, Josh would hate that. I'm probably overreacting, it's just that Josh isn't himself right now.
I didn't even notice he wasn't sleeping, but I notice now. I notice that he gets ready for bed, and takes a stack of paperwork with him. No, he's not sleeping. How could I not notice? Jamie's words are playing over and over in my head now, and I can't help myself. I walk into the bathroom, and there, on the floor with the other things Josh knocked from the medicine cabinet is a bottle of sleeping pills. They're mine, and suddenly, I don't feel so comfortable leaving them in the open.
There's a lock-box under my bed, and I pull is out, dropping the pill bottle inside. After only a instant's consideration, I grab the gun from my bedside drawer. I didn't ever quite manage to get rid of it, and I regret that now. Adding it to the box, i try to remember if the other one is in my coat, or in my desk at the office. Closing my eyes, I remember that I would have left it at work because I went straight from there to the White House. Locking the box then, I slide it under the bed. After a moments consideration, I put the key into my jewelry box.
I fell asleep on the couch, listening to Josh work in his room pretending to be asleep. My eyes pop open at the sound of the door opening, and I'm half afraid Josh is sneaking out, when I see Sam slipping off his coat. Maybe that key is a good idea after all. "How is he?" I cannot recount this evening again, so I just shake my head. "You know, he yelled at the President today - in the Oval Office." No, I didn't know that, and now that I do, my worry factor is through the roof. There's a stiff breeze rustling the curtains, and Sam gets up. I think he wants to close the window, but when he sees it, his face falls, and he says 'oh'. Nothing else. That about sums up my feelings.
Sam just looks at me, and then he asks how we could have missed this. He wants to know why we didn't see this coming. I don't have an answer. Not really, just that.... Josh doesn't like people to get in his head. He's really wonderful at blocking people out, and I guess that extends to us now. I'm just.... .Dammit! I'm scared for him. I spent days on end being scared about whether he'd live, and now I'm scared that he might not want to. Sam, please make it go away. Make this empty feeling in the pit of my stomach go away.
He can't do that. I know he can't do that, but he tries. He sits down again on the couch, and he wraps his arm around me, and pulls a blanket over us, and we sit there, and ignore Josh's insomnia, and the broken window. We ignore everything but my cheek against his shoulder, and his arms around my waist. We ignore the whole world, because we're holding on to each other, trying to keep the world at bay.
Morning comes too quickly, and the reality of work, and life seems harsh. Sam's still asleep, and I can't bring myself to move away from him. Josh, is.... he's meeting with someone. Leo's making him. Leo even told him yesterday, after the thing with the President I suppose, but Leo told me about it last night, so maybe..... I'm hoping that tonight Josh will sleep, and my Josh will be back soon.
I can't stay still any longer. It's cold in here, and even Sam's arms aren't warming me up. When I lift my head off his shoulder, and slide the blanket aside, he opens his eyes, and smiles sleepily at me. He doesn't let me up just yet, because he catches my hand and kisses my palm. It's early, and it's cold, and I need a shower before I go to work. I can still smell the scotch, and the taste the fear. I need a shower.
Apparently Sam does too, because he follows me, losing clothes along the way. It's not a.... a thing. I just think I need to be with him, and I think the feeling's mutual. Afterwards, I'm half-dressed again, before he asks what I was going with Thomas Gilbert last night, and I almost laugh. Sometimes I think Sam's jealous streak is a mile wide and an ocean deep. Samuel Norman Seaborn, let's get something straight. Whatever problems we've had in the past, I would walk through fire for you, and I wouldn't ever see someone behind your back. The good senator and I went to college together. I was at Oxford, and he was a Rhodes scholar. Get a grip.
He opens his mouth to protest, and Josh starts pounding on the door. He's reminding us rather vocally that I have a room, and he has to get ready for work too. Sam's still got on just a towel, and I'm wearing everything but a blazer. He's protesting as I drag him out of the room. I'm in a hurry for Josh to get to work. Leo's got a plan for him, and I'm out of bad ideas.
I'm staring. I know I'm staring, but my 'early Christmas present' is not something I can tear my eyes away from. This morning, Sam drove me to work, and we were sitting on a beat up road in Virginia, and I couldn't figure out why he stopped driving. Then he reached into the pocket of his jacket, and said something about meaning to give me it yesterday, and about Sarah helping him, and about wanting to do it right, but deciding that our lives didn't allow for fairy tale moments. I put a finger to his lips and hoped he would get to the point.
He pulled a ring box out of that pocket, and told me that he'd put it on my hand if I could answer one tiny question for him. I figured it would have been something major, like, I don't know, the meaning of life. Instead, he turned those eyes on me, and asked why I stopped calling him at 11:30. I couldn't help it. I had started laughing, and reached out to take the box out of his hand to open it. "You didn't want me to mother you. I just ordered CJ to do it for me." He grinned at me, and told me that I could stop mothering him, but he had enjoyed the phone calls.
That's why I'm sitting at my desk, ignoring the files laying in front of me. Instead, my hand is resting on top of the papers, and my eyes are glued to the gold and ring and the tiny sapphires set into the metal. I can still feel his fingers as they slipped the ring on my third finger. They trembled just a little, and I couldn't help but think my life was going to be radically different very soon.