I've had about two hours of rest. Not really sleep as most people think of it, just a short span of time where I didn't do anything at all. I just lay there next to Jess, listening to her breathe and praying to whatever gods might be listening that the sounds didn't get worse.
Yesterday morning, Will asked me to come over to the expansion for some work. The new office space he's using there is finished. The council meets there when needed, and the people Dave and I trained to run New Haven all those months ago work in an adjacent shipping container outfitted with desks and whatnot. There's even a nice little nook set aside for me, apparently.
I told him no. Will didn't take that with much grace.
I told him that if he wanted me to work on any of the weird little projects and things he usually wants me to take a look at, I could do that from home. Then I said that if he wanted me to do something really important--and let's face it, most of the stuff I work on are things other people could be doing if they worked at it--then some of the sick people could come to my house. Jess isn't bedbound yet, is still overseeing a lot of work, but mostly she's staying close to the house and letting healthy people do the labor part. She's acting as a hands-off manager for all the people and programs she manages. The sickness came over her quickly, and our fear is that it's going to worsen that way as well.
If she does get worse, I'm going to be here to care for her. I can handle a lot of people at once thanks to my experience as a nurse's aide, so if Will and the council want me to do something important, they can send me folks to take care of. Because I'm not going anywhere.
Of course he gave me the big speech about how the Exiles might not be a threat at present but the zombies outside would hit us at the first sign of weakness. He pointed out that my duty is to the community, a view I've expressed many times, and fiercely at that.
We argued. In the end, I got my way. Partially because I can best serve the community by caring for those who can't care for themselves. Should the undead breach the walls and move across New Haven's streets as they did a few years ago, my house is a very safe place. The sick people who come here will be very well defended by the modifications I've built. More, they'll have me. A man who wants to protect the person he loves most in the world. Toward that purpose, there's nothing I wouldn't do.
And beside all that? I'm due some selfishness if I want it.
New Haven started out as 'the compound'. Before that it was just my neighborhood. Jess and I were the ones to call for people to come here. We organized the survivors that joined us, taught them skills and learned some in return. New Haven as it is today simply would not exist if we hadn't thrown caution to the wind and invited anyone and everyone to join us. No, it wasn't pure altruism that drove our actions, we knew there was strength in numbers, but the ugly truth remains that if we hadn't done it most of our fellow citizens would have long since been fodder for one zombie swarm or another.
This is our home, and we've shared it without hesitation. Even now Jess works to ensure the continued growth of our food crops, though we have more than enough to be going on with. She struggles to make sure our armorers, who she personally taught their craft, are keeping up with the need for protective gear. She's sick and tired and hurting, yet she still soldiers on. For the greater good. For all of us.
So I'll be damned if anyone is going to tell me I can't be here for her. I'll do what I can to support the group within reason, but I'll be at home making sure she's got hot food ready and whatever other comforts I can think of at every turn. I'm not going to be bullied or strong-armed into leaving her side, especially when doing so would have virtually no benefit. I can do whatever work from this desk, I've done it that way often enough. I can care for Jess and accomplish what Will wants me to do as well. What I will not do is let anyone take me away from my wife, who is sick with a potentially deadly illness, for the sake of making the people in command look good.
I don't want to defy them. Not the council and not Will. He's my friend and most of the people backing him are as well. But they'll have to bring men with weapons who are willing to take casualties if they want to pry me out of this house for any reason other than a major crisis. That might sound a bit extreme. It is. One lesson we learned from the dangerously overconfident council that led this place while the team and I were on walkabout a few months back is that authority must be challenged if it's corrupt. That's how Will was elected leader in the first place. The other lesson was to be strong and consistent when you're in charge, which is what Will was trying to do in making me 'come into the office', as it were. He was making a point that everyone is hurting, everyone is in danger, and that doesn't change the responsibilities we have to meet.
I agree. I'm just not going to risk Jess getting sicker with no one here to help her because Will wants me to show solidarity by changing my location. I support him and the rest of the leadership to the hilt.
I'm just showing that support from here. I'm sure most of you can understand that. Rant over. Sorry I kind of went nuts there, but this is a big deal to me. I'm a grown man who knows his duty, and if I can do it in a way that works for everyone, I won't be pushed by politics. I won't risk leaving her side if she may need me. No matter what else happens.