It was something Josh knew about him all along.
Josh would watch Drake go along in life, dating girls, acting so carefree, and he just watched as he treated life like he couldn't care for schoolwork or anything else in the world. He watched as Drake acted like he was strong, could handle whatever was thrown to him, could be stable and live on his own, independently, like he didn't need anything else. Like his world revolved around making out with girls and getting hot chicks and food and his band and everything else a teenage boy was supposed to be. Like Drake was Drake, and nothing more.
But Josh knew. Josh knew that Drake was unstable, that at nights he would wake up crying from nightmares, and suddenly he wasn't Drake Parker anymore; he was a child, and nothing more than a child. And he'd go over to Josh, and Josh would hug him, and hold him, until Drake would stop, and then Drake would fall asleep in his arms, protected by his stepbrother's warmth. And when he'd wake up, he'd go on like nothing happened, and Josh would go on too, because nothing wassupposed to happen.
It was the way the world was supposed to be. Drake was supposed to be the strong one, in his own business. Josh was supposed to be the less than strong one, just focus on his grades and himself and his friends and nothing else. His stepbrother's business wasn't supposed to be his business, and although they were good friends, they weren't supposed to play another role in each other's lives.
Yet, at nights and other times when Drake would let his guard down and fall into Josh, Josh would be only more than welcome to hold him. And he was the only one who knew of this weakness—because if it wasn't him, who else would it be? Who else would be there to guard Drake during his time of need, and while Drake wasn't—didn't seem like—the kind of person who would need Josh, ever, he did, and it was what kept between the two of them. And maybe Josh felt a little special, with the secret between the two of them, and he didn't see Drake as so much of a stepbrother anymore—but as a guardian, someone Drake would always need, no matter how many girls he dated, no matter how much Drake would insist to others that he was fine by himself.
Drake wouldn't admit it, but he'd let Josh know. He'd confess all his sins, all his painstaking thoughts to Josh, giving his burdens to him, and Josh would, Josh would wash them away. He'd tell Drake that it's okay, that he's always here for him. And Drake would tell Josh that he fears the future, he fears having real relationships, because he knows they're never real, that they're always fake. But Josh would always tell him that you know what, our relationship is real, okay? The relationship that we have—you and I have—it's perfect, and that's all that matters, okay?
And Drake would cry more and say it's okay, and admit it's okay, because he knows it's okay and all he cares about, knows, loves is Josh, and nothing more.
Even when Josh passes him in the school hallways, when they feign the appearance that they're good friends and stepbrothers and nothing more, not the more than brothers, more than friends they are, Josh can still see it. He can still see the weakness in Drake's eyes, see him stumble a bit every time their gaze catches. Josh would pass Drake, who's probably too busy kissing a girl, but then Drake's eyes would drift over to him, and something in those eyes would say, I need you. And Josh smiles, because he knows it. Because no matter how Drake acts like he's built a strong wall for himself, it's only Josh who can make it crumble.