It's been a few weeks since you've let Josh come back around your stupid tiny apartment, a few weeks since he apologized about your face, a few weeks since he was cleared to be in the real world again. He stays with you a majority of the time. You never complain.
And in the time he's with you, you pick up on a few things he does now.
He chitters, like a bird. He makes low whistling noises from the back of his throat, and in the shower he sounds like a songbird outside your window, chittering and whistling away. He never seems to do these things on purpose, they just kind of… happen. A side effect from his recent conversion back to the living. You like the chittering the best. It's cute. It happens when you two kissed, you could hear it, and it makes you smile against his lips. The low whistling happens when he whines, soft from the back of his throat and it makes you laugh.
He has to change his diet, too, you also notice. Smoothies, veggies, meat cut out entirely. He's shyer, it seems, and he looks more tired than usual. The shadows were deep under his eyes, but he still looks like Josh. Sounds like Josh. As far as you're concerned, he's still your Josh.
But there's another thing you notice.
Josh is, very suddenly, much shyer about his clothes being off.
He's never shirtless around you, and whenever you two kiss and it gets a little hot under the collar, he shies away from you and he tries to be nice about it and you respect it. But it makes you wonder why he's so nervous about it; it's not like you both don't have your scars to bear. It's not like you won't find him just as beautiful, just as lovely and just as human otherwise. It wouldn't be fair. Josh went through hell and came back; it’s no surprise he'd have a few scars to show for it.
You catch him changing one day and when he sees you in the doorway, he panics and turns away, rushing to put on his shirt, but you step behind him, placing your hand on his back, causing him to pause while he has his shirt halfway down. He shivers under your touch. You don’t try to look, and he doesn’t try to run away. “You know I won’t look at you differently if I see them, don’t you?” you ask softly. You’re staring at the back of his head, and he’s not talking but he’s looking at the floor with his shirt riding halfway up his body.
“You don’t know that,” he responds, and it’s so soft and it doesn’t sound like Josh at all.
“Try me. Show me yours, I’ll show you mine.” He peeks at you as he turns his head to look over his shoulder, and you’re smiling so soft and sweet and he sighs softly. He stands for another minute and you let him. Just because you’re used to your scars doesn’t mean he is.
He pulls his shirt back over his head and turns with a sad look, and your heart aches because you’ve never seen Josh so lackluster in confidence. Your eyes trail down his body, across silvery scars that took residence on his chest, but his stomach was the worst of it. It looks like something tried to claw its way in, and when Josh looks away when you look up at him, you knew just what tried to get its way inside. You place your hand flat over his stomach, and you could feel him tense up, preparing to shy away from you, but your other hand grabs his and he holds still. You stare sadly at the scars, and Josh watches for you reaction. “I’m sorry,” is all you say. What are you supposed to say? You’re not sure; you’re not sure what Josh wants to hear from you. You’re not even sure what you want to hear from you.
Josh tries an attempt at a laugh and you look up at him. “You’re looking at me like I’m a kicked puppy,” he says, and you have to smile because he’s trying. He wants to run away; you see it. You won’t let him.
“That’s because you are a kicked puppy,” you tell him, and he snorts a little bit but his hand tightens its hold on yours and you squeeze back and let your hand drop from his stomach. Your gaze softens. “Did you do it yourself?” you ask softly, voice just above a whisper.
He nods. “They said I had a freakout, in the early stages,” he tells you. “Tried to rip out my insides because I was… hungry.” The last word was a whisper, and your heart clenched because you could see the pain in Josh’s eyes. He’d been so hungry he’d tried to tear himself apart.
“Well, lucky for you, you’ve come to the right bird feed home,” you tell him with a small grin. “Sam got me on her dumb vegetarian train. No meat here since the great Christopher of 2015.” You smile a little bit and Josh laughs and it’s the most beautiful thing.
He looks at you then and tilts his head. “Alright, your turn,” he says. “You gotta pay up.” He sits on the bed, grabbing a flannel to pull on, but he leaves it unbuttoned. You appreciate it. You roll your eyes but nod; it’s only fair.
You don’t go for the obvious ones on your face; he knows about those. You grab your shirt and pull it over your head, and you are covered with them. You turn and point to your back; three long scrapes that run deep and left the most ugly of scarring on your skin run from your right shoulder to the bottom left of your ribs. It’d been a bitch to sleep on your back. It’d been a bitch to do anything. You turn again and the front of you only has a few; nothing spectacular like the ones on your back, just nicks and small scars that are easy to cover but a few of them are a bit longer around your ribs and stomach and there’s some on your arms that are easy to hide because the weather is too cold to show the rest of the world what you’ve been through. “Not as gnarly as you, but they’re something,” you say.
“I dunno dude, your back is pretty damn gnarly,” Josh says with a small grin, and even with how fucked up your bodies are you felt normal. This is the most normal you’ve felt since what happened.
“I think you take the cake on this one,” you say, and when he opens his arms you crawl into his lap, curled up sideways and he cradles you in his arms and it feels like heaven. You tuck your face in the crook of his neck and he smells like Josh; like rain and earth and a small hint of the body wash he uses in the shower. He smells like what you remember.
“Still think I’m the most handsome?” he asks you, resting his cheek on the crown of your head.
“Nah,” you say. “Mike’s got you beat. Even Chris outdoes you now.” Josh snorts and you laugh, leaning up to kiss his cheek. “Kidding. You’re the most handsome post-wendigo I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some good-looking ones. You get a load of their ass? Wow.”
“Stooooop,” Josh says with a whine, but there’s laughter in his voice and the smile is wide on his lips; so wide you partially worry about the line on his lips splitting. But it doesn’t and Josh is still the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen and he’s yours. He’s fucked up, but he’s yours. And you couldn’t ask for it any other way.