Your Arms, When They Cry
by Oro

CJ doesn't notice the silence anymore, with the rattles in her brain and the colors in her eyes, smearing like paint on canvas in a post- modern world; she barely hears above the whispers and the irrelevant things, and a million phone calls from a guy she can hardly place anymore.

She doesn't remember the last time she had a social life and he isn't the one who made her forget -- she closes her eyes in front of the press and places a hand on her forehead, just for a minute. The next day she'll be a symbol for an entire country.

The world around her falls apart and she's the public face of disintegration. She'll have to write an apology for that, too.

"You never told me you lived with someone for six months." Toby's voice says from the other side of the room, and she lifts her head to see him leaning against the door. Casually, like everything is fine even though nothing is.

You never asked; there's so much he doesn't know. She surpasses a tide of doubt and gets thrown on the reality of her thoughts, jagged against her flesh. She quells a flinch; she doesn't want him to think that she's weak -- she doesn't want him to know that she is.

She knows that he's able to feel the dampness of her denial just as she can taste the bitterness in the back of her throat. She can hear the hunger in his eyes and too many missed opportunities that flash through his mind like a really bad movie.

"I don't know you very well," he says, eventually, like he's been giving it some thought.

"No, I don't think you do," she replies. "I don't know if you ever did know me, Toby." Choke; don't choke. Too emotional lately.

"I'm not as bad as you make me out to be. I used to know you pretty damn well." He lets out a long breath that fills the spaces between his words and freezes them into an adjoined truth, hard ice coating his syllables.

She stares at him for a few moments, and then stands up. "That kid, Josh's intern." If you shift to another subject, maybe he won't notice the way it hit you right in the chest. If you walk up to him and narrow down the space between you, maybe it would be like you really did. "I think he was hitting on me. Before."

"Josh has an intern?"

"I don't know, I don't even think he has a real job."

"What did you say to him?"

"Something about phone books." Beat. "I could've gone to a party in the Australian embassy, you know."

"And I could've had the moon in my hands, CJ." He sighs again into the silence of her office. "I could've done better than this, I think. I don't know why I still stick around." Not for the country and not for the president, not even for her.

"You don't leave, Toby."

He kisses her suddenly, not possessively; compassionately, more like, tasting the nausea she's been trying to ignore since May. His tongue tries to explore her secrets; his hands begin to uncover her white lies.

They fall apart together, first her shirt and then his pants, then most of the things she had on her desk. Her skin is tired underneath the pads of his fingers, pale from long days in the office without catching the warmth of the sun.

His gaze travels over her body, practically sliding into her pores and through her veins, his sighs as they kiss, echoing infinite times in her ears; like hushes of cathedrals crashing, loggias and columns tumbling, falling to the ground with an indignant thud.

He is her ground to crash on, and she burns so easily nowadays. She cries into his chest and he just strokes her hair because it's all he can do; she is vulnerable in his arms and she hates herself for it.

She can't blame him for not knowing all the things she has never told him.

(She's not heaven, and he never thought she would be.)


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