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To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

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The days that followed Campbell's arrival at St Jude were worrying to say the least. Not because he was troublesome - quite the opposite. The listlessness he'd shown on his first day prolonged, along with a refusal to eat any substantial food. They'd had to compromise by giving him protein and nutrition drinks, because while he wouldn't eat he seemed constantly thirsty. He would talk to Fergus, occasionally, but almost everything he had so say was echoing the dark place his mind hand sunken to.

"To sleep, perchance to dream...ay, there's the rub... For in that sleep of death what dreams may come," he'd mumbled distantly, surprising Fergus by citing Hamlet.

"Where did you learn that?" Fergus asked, Campbell blinking slightly before he rolled over to look at Fergus instead. Campbell sighed softly, rubbing at his face with one hand.

"I don't remember. Some play, maybe?" he said vaguely. Then... "Do you ever think about it?" Fergus froze. He knew what Campbell was asking, and it was a question he didn't want to answer. Not to anyone, especially one so young.

"Why did they bring you here?" he said instead, a tense silence following in the words wake. Campbell was silent for so long he turned around, meeting the boy's eyes. He could see how tense he was. "You don't have to answer," he added, seeing the struggle. At his words, it looked like someone cut the strings holding Campbell up.

"I was going to jump out a window," he whispered, voice quivering. Fergus cast a glance toward the windows in the room and, but they could not be opened more than a little. Campbell saw him look. "Relax. Not even sure I could stand right now, even if I wanted to," he mumbled, holding up a hand. It was shaking visibly. "Are there any cigarettes in my locker?" he asked, once more making Fergus do a painful U-turn in his head. Happy for the change of subject, Fergus grunted and wandered off to check. In it were Campbell's shoes and a well worn sports bag with some clothes carefully folded in. In a side pocket Fergus found a squashed cigarette package and a lighter.

"Here," he said, dropping them beside Campbell on the bed before he replaced the locker key on the bedside table. "You smoke?" he asked unnecessarily as the boy lit a cigarette with hands that had clearly done it before.

"When I'm stressed," Campbell said, blowing out some smoke. "Been that a lot lately. My mom hates it." Fergus shrugged and smiled a little at that.

"It's what mom's do," he said and Campbell huffed humourlessly.

"I suppose..."


Of course, even if Campbell mostly talked only to Fergus that first week, the nurses and assistant nurses quickly picked up that he was depressed. Given why he had been taken in it took only a couple of days before he had antidepressants prescribed and started taking them. At first, they didn't seem effective, something Campbell called out on during the drug rounds when he'd been at St Jude's for nearly a week. He'd been sitting up on his bed, hair still wet from a shower he'd been more or less forced to take as they took the rounds.

"Are these supposed to do something?" he'd asked as he reluctantly swallowed his pills. The nurse who had moved on to handing Fergus his cup of pills glanced over her shoulder.

"It takes a few days before they are effective, love," she said patiently. "You should start feeling better soon." Campbell shrugged at that, shoulders sagged as he tore at his hair, whimpering softly while he pulled his legs to his chest. Fergus watched him rock slightly.

"It can't happen soon enough," Campbell whined, hitting his forehead repeatedly against his knees. "I don't want to be stuck in my head anymore." Fergus softened hearing that, he knew the feeling all too well. You knew your brain was working against you but it was impossible to just turn it off for a while. He wandered over to sit down beside Campbell, who tipped over against him as the bed shifted. Fergus froze slightly at the slight weight against him but relaxed as Campbell did nothing more, still hugging his legs.

"Want some cocoa today?" Fergus asked and Campbell let out an exasperated sigh.

"Yeah...I suppose..."he mumbled without any enthusiasm, but he did accompany Fergus as he went to fetch his cocoa. The boy looked around looking dejected, pulling at his sleeves, taking in the other patients. He hadn't been out here much and hadn't introduced himself so he'd been left mostly alone. As soon as he got his cocoa he retreated back to his bed as if it was some kind of safe haven from it all.

The following days saw changes in Campbell's behaviour, but it wasn't exactly what the nurses had hoped for when he'd started taking antidepressants. Where he'd been almost catatonic at times he now had troubles keeping still and started to anxiously walking around, babbling silently in a sort of unhinged delirium that was most unsettling. He also seemed to sleep less and less and started to be snappish when anyone tried to talk to him and started getting outbursts of anger that usually ended in disconsolate crying episodes.

Of course, his behaviour was lost on no one - well, except the catatonic patients - and it was stirring up anxiety all over the ward. The nurses tried the best they could by requesting stronger doses of antidepressants and made him take sleeping aids to get him through the nights. It had the opposite effect. True, Campbell did sleep more at night but he was getting worse and worse emotionally when he was awake with several worrying episodes of self harm attempts, until one day he suddenly just tipped over. It happened so suddenly that everyone was taken completely by surprise as he launched into a completely incoherent episode of rapid - rapid and loud much to Fergus distress, talking and flailing around, winding himself up so much he had to be forcefully restrained by the nurses and sedated once more.

"We've never had such an outburst before," one of the nurses said worriedly, wringing her hands as the doctor had been hurried to the ward. Campbell was completely out of it, barely even conscious in his bed. "Doctor this can't be as simple as a depression, he even had double dosage but it wasn't helping! If anything he was getting worse."

"He was winding himself up completely out of control," Isabel said quietly, leaning against the wall beside Campbell's bed. "I've only seen that once before but never this bad and that patient was manic." The doctor removed his glasses, rubbing his face wearily.

"I have made a terrible mistake," he said slowly, looking down on the slender figure on the bed. "It looks like the antidepressants triggered rapid cycling, they can't be taken alone in a manic depressive patient." The nurses stared at him worriedly. "He needs mood stabilizers. Stop giving him antidepressants at once. Since it's an acute case he needs lithium.  I need to talk to his parents..."he gave a tired sigh, reaching out to squeeze Campbell's hand. "I am so sorry. This is my fault, not yours," he said softly.

Fergus had been waiting for them to leave the room and when they did Isabel saw him and came up to him, looking rather worried.

"He's sedated now so no more outbursts," she said carefully. "I'm sorry it had to come to this, Fergus. I know you care about him." Fergus shrugged uncomfortably.

"He's just a kid," he said and Isabel's expression darkened.  She sighed and nodded, drawing a hand wearily through her hair.

"Yes. He is," she agreed. "A child with big problems." She looked back toward the room Campbell and Fergus shared with two other patients. "Look, his parents may show up. Just so you know."


Despite the warning, Fergus was still not prepared when Campbell's parents arrived. He could see them in the corridor as they met the doctor that evening and half hoped they wouldn't come to see their son. A vain hope, it turned out.

They were led to Campbell's bed by the doctor and Fergus could see the boy's mother practically falling apart seeing him lying there. She leaned over him, touching his shoulder.

"Campbell? It's mommy," she tried without any other response than the child opening his eyes slightly. "Campbell...? Baby...?"she tried, voice brightening with worry at the lack of reaction. The doctor cleared his throat.

"He is heavily sedated, Mrs Bain," he said carefully, Campbell's father snapping back to frown at him. The boy's mother gave out a strangled sob, caressing Campbell's cheek tenderly as his father grasped her shoulders in an attempt to comfort her. Fergus grasped his trouser legs where he sat trying to restrain himself.

"Was this necessary?" Campbell's father asked between gritted teeth and the doctor sighed.

"I'm afraid so. He was at risk of hurting himself, the nurses had no choice." The boy's father seemed to work hard to restrain himself. He nodded grimly.

"Another outburst, eh?" he said quietly with surprising calm, Campbell's mother crumpling over his bed, sobbing.

"I'm afraid so," the doctor said. "He will get better with the right medication now that we have the beginnings of a diagnosis. Hopefully he will be stable fairly soon."

"So he is a loony then," Campbell's father said, sounding defeated. The doctor shifted, fixing him with a steely gaze. Fergus grasp on his trousers tightened. He didn't like the way this man said 'loony'.

"Your son has a medical condition, yes," he said slowly, choosing his words carefully. "But we will do all in our power to help him." The boy's father sighed in defeat, nodding.

"Good. Good. This needs to stop," he said sadly. "It's ruining the family." He helped his wife stand, tears running down her face. Campbell had not moved, he lay just as motionless as he had that first day at St Jude's a few weeks ago. "We just want him to...finish school and stop this nonsense."

Nonsense.  Fergus grit his teeth and must have made a sound because Campbell's father turned to look at him. Their eyes met and held for several tense seconds before the doctor broke the moment.

"Please, this way Mr and Mrs Bain," he said, waving them out of the room. He looked back at Fergus briefly, then left the room. Moments later Isabel turned up in a hurry. Fergus had already moved over to Campbell, holding his hand. Although the boy was barely conscious, a tear had run from one eye down on the pillow. Had he heard? It was hard to tell.

"Fergus," Isabel said worriedly, but Fergus didn't look up. His eyes were fixed on Campbell's face.

"He called it nonsense," Fergus said quietly and Isabel stood back, staring. "He called it nonsense!" Fergus repeated, anger seething and bubbling to the surface. Isabel came over, her face a flurry of emotion.

"People say things like that when they don't understand," she said carefully. "When the truth is too much. We know it's not nonsense." Fergus chewed on his tongue, idling.

"He was in so much pain," he finally said. Isabel nodded, sinking down on the bed looking sad.

"Yes. He was," she agreed. "He suffered a lot needlessly," she admitted and Fergus nodded. "But now that we know what is wrong he will get the right medication. It will only get better from now." Fergus said nothing but nodded. He sincerely hoped so.


The next day Campbell was thankfully conscious but tired, and the nurses were quick to give him a shot with lithium before he was clear enough to talk. Fergus was nervous as the boy got clearer but couldn't help himself from hovering nearby. He didn't know exactly why, but somehow he wanted to protect the kid. Perhaps because he could somehow see himself in him, he wasn't sure.

Given how depressed Campbell had been until his outburst, Fergus was surprised when he came back to their room after lunch and was met with a smile.

"Hello Fergus," Campbell said, groggy with a bit difficulties to articulate but apparently in a good mood for a change. "I think I missed my cocoa yesterday." Fergus snorted, looking down on the boy with a smile tugging at his lips.

"We'll have to ask for double today, then," he said half jokingly, which surprisingly actually made Campbell chuckle - he didn't have enough energy for laughing. He was still smiling though.

"Yeah, let's do that," he said. "I had the strangest dream, you know..."

Fergus leaned back to listen to Campbell recounting his dream quite happily, a funny feeling in his stomach after the past weeks of so much tears, anger and anxiety. It felt as if he was getting to know Campbell all over again. In was definitely an improvement from the one before.