“So far you aren’t saying anything I don’t already know.” But, Jonas couldn’t even look over at his brother. All he wanted to do was curl into a ball.
“If you knew it, maybe you should have said something to somebody. Why wouldn’t you tell us you were struggling?”
“I had it handled,” he muttered. He’d thought he had it handled. Thought he was strong enough to manage on his own.
“If that was true, Isaac wouldn’t have found you on the kitchen floor, barely breathing. God, Jonas, we thought we might have lost you.”
“Maybe you’d be better off. All of you. Especially Isaac.” He had enough going on, what did he need with a one-legged boyfriend who couldn’t stop taking too many pills?
“I’ve told you to stop saying shit like that,” his brother growled. “None of us would be better off without you. Especially Isaac. If you’d seen him, you wouldn’t think that.”
“I couldn’t protect him,” Jonas said, his voice breaking. “His dad showed up, and I couldn’t even do anything to protect him. Everyone says I’m a hero because I served and lost my leg and was the only one to survive the helicopter crash, like that was even any of my doing and not pure luck. But, what kind of hero can’t even help the man he loves stand up to an overgrown bully?”
Toby’s arm went around him, and Jonas realized that he was sobbing. Toby didn’t say a word, just held on to him until he’d exhausted himself. “you don’t need to be a hero,” Toby finally said. “None of us expect it of you. You’re my baby brother. I only want you to be well and happy. Even if that means you need to ask for help. That does not make you weak, Jonas. It makes you smart. And no matter what you say, that’s something you’ve always been.”
Jonas started to scoff at that, but Toby’s face only hardened. “Being smart has nothing to do with how many books you read or how much school you could stand to sit through.”
“Dad would be disappointed in me.” That thought had been beating in his head since he’d woken up.”
Toby’s laugh was rough, and it had Jonas glancing at him. “What’s so funny? All I wanted was to do something that would have made him proud. And I’ve failed horribly.”
“It’s not funny,” Toby said, “because it isn’t even close to true. He would have been so proud of you. Not just because you joined up, either. But, the man you are. The honorable, compassionate loving son he would have wanted to raise. Trust me, if he could keep loving the punk kid I used to be when he first met Mom, there’s nothing you could have done to let him down. Especially considering his own past.” Jonas frowned, but Toby only smiled wider. “You were too young probably for him to tell you any of the stories he told me. But, trust me when I say, he would not be judging you right now. Neither do I. Neither does Mama. All we want is for you to be well.”
Jonas must have been exhausted, because even that had tears leaking out of his eyes. And all he could think was that Toby hadn’t included Isaac in that last statement. He’d probably lost him now. And it would be all his fault.
Well, that wasn’t quite what I planned to write for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt of “so far” when I first sat down. But, I’ve been building up to this moment in Jonas & Isaac’s story. Still not quite there yet. Setting up those opportunities for him to ask for help and turning away from them. I referenced this back in a post in September, but it’s taken me a while to work all of it out. Getting closer to writing this part in the notebook, though.