After a hard week of work Arin was relieved as he let his head finally hit his pillow. Pulling all-nighters with Dan, followed by a few hours’ sleep was fun, sure but Arin would be lying if he said his bed wasn’t a welcome site at a week’s ends. However it had only seemed like the man’s eyes had just closed when his ringtone was suddenly blaring in his ears, as his eyes slowly opened he let out an annoyed groan, he could tell a considerable amount of hours had passed.
Rolling over and angrily pawing for his mobile Arin glared as his eyed focused on the contact ID. Barry. Why would Barry be calling him at 4am on a Sunday? He let out a puff of air as he hit ‘Answer’ and held the phone to his ear.
“Barry, why are-’’ He soon realized something wasn’t right, it had clearly sounded like the younger man had been crying.
“A-Arin…” There was a loud sniffle and Arin was instantly sitting bolt upright.
“What’s wrong, man? You alright?” There was one more sob as the bearded man instantly paled.
“D-Dan…Dan’s been shot!” Everything stopped for Arin, Barry’s cried didn’t reach his ears until the line long had gone dead; his eyes welled up as he stared at his wall. That’s when his body kicked into gear and his phone hit his bed as he pulled some random clothes from his floor and threw them on, yelling for Suzy to wake up, he scrolled through his contacts and called Ross who was already on his way with his wife to see Dan.
The drive to the hospital was silent, neither Arin nor Suzy talked, not even Kevin who they had picked up from his apartment on the way. The younger man just tapped away at his phone in the back seat, eyes cast down and head dropping every few minutes, Arin could tell Kevin was fighting away sleep after editing all night.
When they were finally parked Arin was the first out of the car, quickly making his way into the building followed by Suzy and Kevin and moving between the small crowds of people to reach what looked to be a front desk. He met the gaze of the receptionist as she put on a smile that was oddly out of place in the hospital waiting room, as well as the voice she greeted him with.
“Good evening, sir. Do you need help?” Upon hearing said voice Arin snapped out of his thoughts and stumbled over his words slightly before finding the right ones.
“Da-um-Leigh Daniel Avidan, is he…here?” The woman turned to her computer for a few seconds and a few taps of her keyboard later, her face grew solemn as she nodded and plucked what looked to be a key card from under her desk.
“Room 302, intensive care. Use this to get in, can I have your names please?” Arin reluctantly took the key as the three filled in their names and walked through to where the lady had pointed them. The brunette constantly turned the flimsy blue card in his hands as he walked, he had no idea what to expect when he walked into that room, did he want to? He instantly scolded himself at the thought of turning tail on his friends in a time such as this.
“Arin!” Said man flinched slightly at his name being called, despite the halls being fairly empty Ross was, as usual, far from quiet. The Australian was leant up by what Arin could only presume to be the room Dan was in, his wife, Holly sat on the one of the four seats opposite him, clutching some tissues in one hand and her phone in the other.
“So, how long have you guys been here?” Kevin asked as he and Suzy sat by Holly and Arin stood and stared wearingly at the door before him. Ross just shrugged and followed Arin’s gaze.
“Not that long, around 15 minutes. Barry’s still talking to the police and no one’s being let in.” A lump rose in Arin’s throat at those words, was it really that serious? He was sure it was just going to be a story kind of hospital trip. A joke. ‘Hey, Dan. Remember that one time you were an idiot and shot yourself in the foot.’ Kind of story that the duo could laugh about on Game Grumps. No, this was real.
Everyone stood up upon seeing the door creak open and an officer slowly step out, nod in respect and leave, followed by Barry, with puffy eyes and shaking hands he did a crooked smiled towards his friends.
“Hey.” His eyes were instantly cast towards the floor. He still flinched as Arin placed firm hands onto his shoulders and stared down at him. Before he could speak however, the door beside him swung open again and a man in a white coat addressed them, Barry slowly squirmed free from his grip and leaned against the wall weakly.
“You can go in and see your friend now, he’s stable, for now.” Arin and Ross shared a nervous glance with each other as the later took his wife’s hand and the group slowly filed into the room together. Arin didn’t know what he’d expected when he walked him, but this wasn’t it, not by longshot. Dan’s face was void of emotion, blank in sleep, his hair wild around him with various tubes and IVs coming from him. The usually lively grump had a thick bandage wrapped around his head, as well as another around his chest, causing Arin’s own chest to tighten at the sight.
“They…say he might not wake up.” The man’s roommate’s voice was shaky as he was the last to walk in and slowly shut the door behind them. Arin felt Suzy’s hand grip his arm a little more at those words, he wanted Dan be alright, so, so much.
“Brian’s just flown out…I texted him, he won’t be here until tomorrow.” Kevin muttered in the silence as he slipped his phone back into his jeans and fell into a chair in the corner. For the longest time no one talked, it wasn’t an awkward silence, it wasn’t any kind of silence, it was just no one knew what to say. Arin couldn’t help but let his mind wander, what could of happened to end Danny up in a coma?, what would happen if he never woke up like Barry said, what if they lost Dan Avidan tonight?
Arin’s voice was nothing but a whisper when he decided to speak, however loud enough so that the trembling man he was addressing beside him could hear, as well as everyone in the room.
“What happened, Barry?” Everyone stared at the editor as he locked eyes with Arin, he knew that he’d had to tell them what happened at some point. Although now the time to tell them had come he had no words, he could see the moment play out in his mind like a well written script but he couldn’t translate it into words.
“Bar…” Suzy muttered as he pulled the man into a tight hug, the others just watched as said man slowly came undone, tears welling up in his eyes and lips trembling, he only spoke one sentence before a choked sob escaped his throat.
“We were attacked, Dan saved me.” Now Arin understood why the police were called, Barry went on to tell them how the two of them had gone out for the night and come back to a raided apartment, men waving guns around and demanding drugs, one thing lead to another and this was now the situation; the police also suspected that Dan knew these people from his past and were trying to track them down but unfortunately, there had been no traces as of yet.
Two hours had passed by now and it was already 8am, Kevin had fallen asleep in his chair in the corner of the room and Suzy and Holly had gone to go buy everyone food from the cafeteria. Arin just sat next to Dan’s bedside, Barry on the other side and Ross leaning by the closed door, the only noise that filled the room was Dan’s heart rate monitor, steady, unchanging. It should have been a good sign, but to Arin, it couldn’t have been further from the truth.
- - - -
Do you ever get that moment, those short few seconds when you fully realize nothing will ever be the same as it had been minutes, even seconds earlier? Arin was having that moment right now, as well as the others in the room. Time slowed down for the animator, Dan’s heart rate was getting dangerously low, Ross was screaming for a doctor, Holly was crying beside him and Barry and Kevin had ran out into the hallway for help.
It had all happened so quickly, and it was over just as fast. Nurses rushed into the room and tried to bring Dan’s pulse up, and it worked, but not well enough. The doctors told them that the ‘not-so-grump’ probably wouldn’t survive the night.
“Mr. Avidan has suffered very severe head injuries and has been shot more than once. We’ve done the best we can for him, and for now, all we can do is make him comforta-”
“Bullshit…” Ross seethed with tears in his eyes as he cut the doctor off, said man let out a weary sigh and hung his head.
“I don’t like to tell people these things, trust me, if I could have another job here, I’d take it, but someone has to do it.” With that, the man picked up his folders of notes and walked out of the room, leaving everyone to an uneasy silence, Arin hurriedly rubbed his eyes with the back of his hands, he was tired and stressed and he didn’t know how long he could keep this all up. However, he wouldn’t have to for long…
- - - -
Arin didn’t want this to happen, he wanted to stop the failing of his friends heart, but all he could do was hold Dan’s hand as he passed.
“Dan… you son of a bitch, don’t-don’t do this.” He was full on crying now as Suzy hugged him tightly with tears in her eyes, Ross silently cried on his wife’s shoulder and Barry and Kevin sat in silence, until the beeps finally stopped. Arin let out a choked sob as he held the man’s hand to his forehead, Dan Avidan was gone, and nobody knew what they’d do without him.
- - - -
Dan felt like he’d been asleep for an absurdly long time when his eyes eventually opened, he must have fallen asleep in the grump room again by the looks of things. He stood up with a groan and stretched his aching body, leaning over to grab his phone that was laying on the coffee table beside him.
“Huh? That’s odd.” He was sure his phone had charge but as he pressed the home button it didn’t react, somehow things instantly started to feel off as well, that Grump space was far too quiet, even if it was around 11 o’clock Barry or Kevin should be around. Walking out into the wide computing space he waved towards the two editors at their computers, the older, Barry standing up and shrugging on a jacket.
“I’m going to head home, okay.” He stated as Kevin took off his head phones and nodded.
“See you, man.” Danny said as said man cast a glance to the clock hanging on the wall in front of him. Kevin spoke up slightly before the other had reached the door way.
“Have you- err, heard anything from Arin?” He asked sheepishly as Barry stopped and turned towards him, scratching his arm nervously.
“No…not since the hospital, nothing from Ross either.” Danny raised an eyebrow as he inched closer.
“What’s wrong with Arin? Is he alright?” He asked as the two men failed to reply, naturally he just got even more worried by their silence.
“I-I have to go.” Barry quickly rushed as he turned and headed down the stairs, Dan’s eyes widened at the man’s speed.
“W-wait! Barry! I need a lift!” He tried to run after the retreating man who was mumbling about tidying the apartment under his breath, but couldn’t. He just stood there and ran a shaking hand through his hair.
“You know what’s up with him, Kevin?” Dan mumbled in the silence as he was again met by the uneasy silence of the other, letting out an annoyed groan, he walked up to the editor and leaned down to him.
“Can’t you hear me, or something?” As he placed a hand Kevin’s shoulder the younger man suddenly jerked and turned in his chair.
“D-Dan?” He asked with wide eyes as a grin spread across the bearded man’s face.
“Finally! Thought you were starting to ignore me…” Then the editor’s eyes looked a lot sadder as he turned away and held his head in his hands, Dan frowned at the site and crouched down beside him.
“What’s wrong?” He asked as tears filled Kevin’s eyes as he threw off his headphones and leaned back in his chair.
“I’m such an idiot…” His lip quivered slightly at his own words. Dan reached out to try and touch the man again but Kevin just shivered and muttered some words Dan didn’t expect to hear.
“Dan’s gone, you goof. He’s not coming back.” Dan froze as it hit him like a train, all the memories came flooding back, Barry and him going to the movies, coming back to the apartment, him getting shot; it all made sense now.
“You really can’t fucking see me, can you?” He muttered slowly as the editor stood up, threw on his hoodie and turned off his computer. The older man stood in silence as he watched Kevin grab the keys to lock up from the deck draw and headed down the stairs, Dan attempted to follow him but something stopped him from going out the walk way, he just couldn’t step foot there.
As the lights switched off, leaving him in silence and darkness, he had only three words to mutter.
“I’m fucking dead.” And he was haunting the Grump space.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“I’m telling you, the ending was bullshit. The first movie was better.” Danny laughed as he and his roommate walked the empty street back to their shared apartment. The two of them had just seen some stupid action flick sequel, which was a spur of the moment thing Barry brought up after a particularly long day at the office, it only ended up he and said man going since Arin and Suzy already had a night of MGS5 planned ahead of them, Ross was helping Holly with her Comic con cosplay and Kevin had exams the following morning.
“I mean, why the hell did she do that?! That dude that got taken better be okay in the next one, I might need to read the books to find out!” Barry ran a hand through his hair as he talked. Dan chuckled slightly and nodded in thought about the movie.
“I agree, major dick move, but the zombies were kind of awesome though…also, the movies may not follow the books.”
“I’ll google it then!” Barry pulled out his phone as they both continued to talk while they neared the home that they shared. Dan didn’t want to bring up the fact books and movies are usually nothing alike but as Barry unlocked the door and went inside Dan suddenly stopped him, causing the other to look up from his device.
“What the-?” He muttered as they both stared into a trashed apartment, furniture was overturned, pictures smashed, consoles strewn across the room; neither of them knew what to say. Dan dared to walk in further with Barry close behind as the taller man picked up a broken chair leg, given, not very good defence but surely better than none. A sudden noise in Dan’s room made them jump slightly as said man swung open the door to the room.
"Who the fuck are you?!” Dan yelled towards two mask clad men going through his stuff, this room was just as over turned as the rest, band posters ripped from the walls and clothes and albums everywhere. One of them turned towards him, a gun instantly raised as Barry’s eyes widened.
“Where is it, man?” They asked as Danny rose and eyebrow, the other unknown stranger was now holding a bat towards them as well.
“Where’s what?” He replied as he instantly backed up as the man with the gun drew closer.
“The drugs! Where are they?” Dan didn’t know what they were talking about as he tried to reason with them.
“You got the wrong guys. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” This however seemed to make things worse, there was shouting and screaming and it all seemed to be leading in worst direction, and it did. Not the gun held towards him, Barry’s anguished scream or the fact he’d just been shot registered in Dan Avidan’s mind as he hit his apartment floor… and everything went black.
It was just silence, really, really peaceful silence, until…
“Dan… you son of a bitch, don’t-don’t do this.” Was that Arin? He didn’t even know. Yet, he replied all the same.
“What do you mean? What am I doing, Arin?”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dan soon realized he was unable to leave the Grump space as he was, well haunting it. He couldn’t interact with anything and nothing could interact with him, Barry or one of the others would pop in every so often within the four day space he’d been ‘awake’ for and that’s when he realized they were packing up, packing up equipment.
“Ross! What are you doing, you fucktard?!” He yelled one evening as the Australian started pulling all the consoles out from their designated spaces on the shelves in the recording room and placed them into moving boxes. Of course he got no reply, and by this point he was seething, he was usually someone that didn’t like being ignored and it was defiantly effecting him now.
In fact, the very day after in a fit of pure rage about not being able to eat a subway, he walked up to the huge white board in the office and snatched the marker from the side table, rubbed out the stupid little doodles he and Arin had drawn just about a month ago that were still up and wrote in big, bold capitals.
He huffed and looked at the message but by this point everything was gone, everyone was gone, and they weren’t coming back. How the fuck would he ‘pass on’?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Hun..?” Arin heard his wife call him from outside his room, he’d been staring at himself in the mirror for a few minutes now. Unmoving, just staring.
“Yeah?” He eventually replied as Suzy walked in, wearing what Arin would call a ‘cute black dress’ but he didn’t, not given these circumstances. He too was clad in a black three piece suit, he could already tell by the way he’d already frayed a part of the stitching and how he’d unconsciously done his tie way too tight that this was going to be a hard and long day.
“Come on, we’ll be late.” Arin nodded weakly as he took his wife’s hand and closed his eyes. ‘Things will be alright’, he thought to himself.
‘The game of life is just a bitch.’
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The ceremony went well, as well as it could have gone really. Meaning Arin didn’t completely fall apart but when he had to stand up and tell everyone who Dan Avidan was to him, it was harsh, his throat closed up, his eyes stung and he had to stop. However, now he was alone, facing the final resting place of Leigh Daniel Avidan, and that’s what made his jaw loose, all the anger, sadness and turmoil all came running out in his words.
“I refuse…fucking refuse to believe you’re dead. You son of a bitch, why did you have to crap out all of a sudden? We’re falling apart you know, Barry’s moving across the fucking country, Ross already has another job lined up, Brian won’t take my calls…shit, man.” He stuttered for a moment, tears welled in his eyes and he had to clench his fists to control himself again. Taking a deep breath he continued.
“I-I had to give a fucking speech about you back there! I had shit prepared but it felt like being back a school, all I said was ‘He was a great, great man. He brought up all together.’ And cheesy shit like that. It felt fake, man, so…I guess this is what I really want to say, non-censored, true to the bone bullshit, heck, you never know, it might start raining in a minute.” Arin quietly chuckled to himself and fell into a silence. He just stared at the words engraved into the headstone and he muttered his words without realizing.
“What am I going to do without you?” It being a rhetorical question he certainly wasn’t expecting a reply, certainly not the voice he was expecting either.
“Do you think I wanted to fucking die, man?” Arin’s breath hitched as he turned around quickly and his eyes widened. Dan was crouching just behind him, staring into the distance, and then he locked gazes with Arin and let out a breath, standing up and stretching his body.
“At least you can see me.” He muttered.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The silence was too much, Dan couldn’t take it. A whole week he’d been here, alone, shrouded in darkness and more than a little bored. He wanted to be at work with his best friends, doing what he loved and writing songs about dicks…but he couldn’t. For all he knew, he’d be here forever until he went crazy and he turned into a poltergeist or something, and he didn’t want that, not at all.
Running a shaking and through his hair he let out a shaky breath and closed his eyes.
“I wish I could at lease see them again…fuck.” And when he opened his eye again, felt the breeze on his face and saw the man he considered a brother in front of him, he wanted to cry but stayed quiet, Arin was talking.
“So…I guess this is what I really want to say, non-censored, true to the bone bullshit, heck, you never know, it might start raining in a minute.” Dan, as did Arin both share a chuckle towards that statement, and things fell quiet once more. Dan didn’t really know how he got here or whether Arin could see or hear him or not but he slowly sat down just behind said man and stared at what he presumed was his own grave.
“What am I going to do without you?” Arin muttered beside him as Dan ran a hand through his hair out of nervous habit, he didn’t know what to say, would it even make a difference whether Arin could hear him or not.
“Do you think I wanted to fucking die, man?” He muttered half-heartedly, and that’s when Arin froze and Dan knew he’d hit something, slowly the other man turned and stared at him with wide eyes.
“At least you can see me.” He stood up and watched Arin as he failed to comprehend the situation.
“Y-you’re…” He tapped his foot against the dirt beneath him as Dan let out a loud bark of laughter.
“Oh, I’m dead, baby. But y’know being a ghost and all isn’t that bad.” This just made Arin even more confused, but not enough that he forgot to hug the older man, wrapping him in his arms.
“What the fuck, man.” His voice broke as Dan smiled warmly and patted him on the back.
“I don’t know either, dude. But answer me this…” Arin pulled away slightly as Dan put his hands on his hips.
“Why the hell are you packing up the grump space?!” He yelled as Arin ran a hand through his hair.
“W-well, we’re taking a break…” He muttered as Dan rose an eyebrow critically.
“A break? Things look that you’re packing up shop.”
“Everyone’s falling apart, Dan…I don’t know how to stop it.” The taller man’s eyes softened as he looked up at the sky and sighed.
“I don’t know what to tell you, but don’t let this slip away.” Arin nodded as they both just stood there and stared out in silence.
“So, err, are you going to, like disappear and shit now?” Dan just shrugged, to be honest he had no idea how any of this worked, but he was rolling with it none the less, he was just happy in the moment, future him would have to wait.
“Don’t know, but this shit is weird…like totally out of body. I might be high.” Arin laughed and thought back to one of Dan’s many ‘high’ stories he’d told on the show.
“Remember that one story you told me about the brownies?” Dan laughed loudly at the memory.
“Hell yeah, dude. That was a great week…stupid, but great.” Then they moved on to other stories, how they’d first met, when they started doing to show, Arin’s wedding, stuff like that. Dan was grinning from ear to ear at one particular story when he started to get a warm feeling him his chest, it was nice at first but as it got more noticeable he realised something was wrong.
“Arin…” He muttered as the other stopped chuckling to himself for a second.
“I think I need to go.” Arin’s smile completely vanished from his face by this point, the past hour of reminiscing forgotten.
“I don’t know, I just feel it, like a pulling…” Dan looked over to his friend to find him staring holes into the grass by his hands, he didn’t like seeing Arin like this, it broke him inside to see anyone suffer really.
“Dan…can I ask you something?”
“Shoot.” The other muttered.
“Are you alright? With this I mean, the whole…” Arin waved his arms around a little. “Passing on.” Again, Danny could only shrug, it’s not like he could fight death, especially with his body in the ground below him.
“I’m gonna have to be.” He chuckled slightly. “Maybe I’ll meet Kurt Cobain on the flip side, that’d be fucking awesome.” Arin nodded as Dan continued to talk.
“Promise me one thing, Arin.” The other was still staring at his hands held out in front of him.
“Don’t stop your own life because mine ended, don’t stop game grumps, animation, Starbomb…any of it, can you do that? For me?” The warmness in the man’s chest was now coving every inch of his being, maybe he would have made a joke about his junk feeling weird, but he didn’t have time.
“I promise, Dan…I’ll try, I’ll get back on fucki-” Arin looked up with tears welling up in his eyes, cutting his sentence short, he looked around frantically.
Dan Avidan was gone.