She lies still beneath him. Very, very still.
She's afraid that if she moves--if she even lets herself think about him touching her--she'll start to scream. Or try to run--
Would he let her go, she wonders?
Or would there be a terrible accident? Like poor James Forrestal. She'd wondered why, like everybody else, and never once thought-- Blind. Stupid.
Happy. So very happy... Even as she'd watched Tex slide from devoted to distracted to violent, even as she'd lain sleepless trying to understand why, she'd still been blissful in her ignorance, stubborn in her belief and her love for him.
Joan wonders, now, if she ever even knew him. If there was any piece of the real Tex Thompson in the man whose bright intensity seduced her, whose intent smiles captivated her, whose knowing hands caressed her.... And she doesn't know; she never met him. Before.
Some of the others did. But they're out of reach now, and all she can do is lie here and try not to think about it.
Because some part of her...still loves him. Even knowing. Even now. And if he was only ever a monster wearing a hero's corpse--
Then what does that make her?
She wants to shudder. Controls it.
She has to be in control, now; can't let it get to her. This is bigger than her, and she has to be strong, strong and brave. Like Paula.
Paula felt good. The heat of her anger, and fierce caring wrapped around Joan like she hasn't felt since...
She does not think about the last time she felt cared about.
And maybe she's just imagining it, anyway. Maybe Paula doesn't care at all. Because if...this...is true...then how can she know what's real anymore?
No, no, can't think like that, can't let herself spiral down into those places. That way lies madness--
And she can't laugh, but crying is okay, crying quietly won't wake him up. Because she *is* mad, anybody would say so. She thinks her lover, America's hero, is--
Don't think the name. Don't think the name. Thinking the name makes it too close, too real--too unbearable to know who's breathing against her right now--
She needs to be strong. Her country needs her to be strong. She just has to do this, just lie here and wait for the heroes to gather. Just wait.
Lie here and wait, and don't think about the thing that calls itself Tex Thompson. Don't think about the names she can't say.
Don't think about Paula, and feeling warm for a moment, because she has to be cold. Cold all through. That's the only way she can get through this.
Don't think about tomorrow. Don't think about after.
And Joan wonders if she even wants there to be an after, anymore.