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The Blackout

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It's only about an hour before a doctor comes out. She strides towards me, giving me a small smile.

"Dave, right?" I nod and she adjusts her coat. "Well, your brother's going to be just fine. He's got some fluid in his lungs so he's going to be having a hard time breathing for a while. We're going to keep him under observation for a couple days just to make sure he's alright though, ok?" I nod slowly and just clench my fists. "May I ask though, and I mean no offense, but... Why was your, from what my records state, newly parapalegic brother home alone? Surely you have a day nurse for him?" I blink behind my sunglasses, lips thinning a bit as I start to shake.

"I'm getting one for him. I had planned on talkin' it over with him once I got home, but..." The doctor is silent before seeming to shift uncomfortably.

"I see..." She says. "Well, just make sure to get one if you can't be home. Accidents like this happen often if the patient isn't monitored."

"Right." She hesitates and I stare, waiting. "Are you aware..." I cock my head to the side slightly as she looks me over. "Um, do you have any injuries we need to look at? That's an alarming amount of what definitely looks like blood on your clothes, so forgive me if I'm a little concerned." Tavros tenses next to me and I keep my lips sealed for a moment. I've already gotten them stitched, I don't exactly need more aftercare. What if she forces me, though? I'm a minor still, but I don't think she knows that.

"Nah, I was paintin'. I do that splatter shit, ya know? Pollock?" Tavros squeezes my knee and I dig my nails into my hands, ready to sprint.

"Hmm..." She stares at me a moment longer before turning on her heel. "Well, I'll come back and get you when you can see your brother, alright?" She leaves without another word and I deflate in my chair, letting out my breath all at once.

"Tell me, what was the point of lying to her? You're, uh, already here. Why not take advantage of the healthcare?" I turn to him slightly.

"You saw my arms. It looks like a fuckin' suicide attempt to anyone else. They'd put me under suicide watch and lock me up. I'm a minor, what do ya think would happen?"

"Was it a suicide attempt, Dave?" I shake my head and sigh.

"That's why I called ya... I... I thought I might-" Cutting myself off, I grab my hair and tug a little. "And I was scared. I didn't want to..." Tavros pats my knee gently and when I look at him again, he's smiling.

"You may not see it, Dave, but you are getting, ah, better. You called me instead of doing something even more reckless. From what you've told me, your periods of cutting are becoming further and further apart. You're doing, uhm, just fine, ok? You're getting there. That's what matters, right?"

I nod slowly and find myself smiling back a little. "Yeah... Definitely." I carefully place my hand over his and he seems surprised. "Thanks for everything, by the way. You do way more for me than you should." Tavros squeezes my knee again and shakes his head.

"I just do what any decent person would." We leave the conversation at that and continue sitting in comfortable silence. We wait another thirty-five minutes before the doctor comes out again.

"You can see your brother now. He's a little woozy. Just a warning." I nod and tavros pats my knee.

"Do you want to do this, um, alone? Or do you want me to come in with you?"

Shaking my head, I slowly stand. "Nah. I should do this alone. He ain't comfortable around strangers. 'Specially now." I hesitate for a moment. "Wait for me?" I ask. I'm a little uncomfortable asking, but... I have a bad feeling.

"Yeah, of course. I'll be right here, ok?" He gives me a smile and I just nod back. My stomach feels like it's sinking and I don't know why. The doctor leads me down a quiet hallway. It's eerie. I roll my eyes at myself. I watch too many horror movies.

Dirk's staring at the ceiling when we walk in. He doesn't even look at us.

"...Bro?" He blinks and I walk a little closer. Hearing a click behind me, I turn and the doctor's gone again. I walk closer and place my hand on the side of his head. He says nothing and my heart feels like it's folding in on itself. "I'm so sorry," I whisper. "I should've been there. I shouldn't of left you alone..." Bro turns his head, looking up at me. He doesn't seem super aware right now. 'Maybe I should just come back...' Before I can fully form the thought of leaving, Bro grabs my hand, holding it. I tilt my head slightly and frown.

"Not yur fault," he mumbles. "Did it myself."

"Bro, it ain't your fault. I should'a been home watchin' you and-"

"No..." He blinks slowly and my frown just deepens. "Did it on purpose." He manages.

I stare. And I can't say anything. It feels like ice has creeped into my veins.

"What." My voice is flat and I just keep staring. "You..." I can't fucking say it. Swallowing past the lump in my throat, I try to breathe normally. "You slipped on purpose?" I just... I need to make sure I didn't hear him wrong. Tears start sliding down his face and I hold onto his hand like a lifeline.

"Y-Yeah," He sobs out. I cover my face with my hand and bite my lip so hard I can taste blood. Tears seep in between my fingers and fall onto the bed. My whole body shakes and it feels like a stab each time I hear Bro sob or whine. He sniffs loudly and I hand him a tissue. After he blows his nose, he attempts to sit up. I push him back down gently and he tries shifting the blanket. "Gotta show ya." I dread what that means. I don't even want to fucking know at this point. I grasp the blanket and close my eyes, pulling it away quickly. Bro starts crying in ernest again and I hold my breath as I look. It feels like the wind's been knocked right out of me.

Burns.

They're all over his legs. Small, big. Circles. From cigarettes? Lines too. Some of them are still blistered and scabbed. Shit. FUCK. Has he been doing this since he got out of the hospital? I wish I was hallucinating. I feel like I'm losing my goddamn mind! I can't even talk. Is this how everyone else feels about this shit? Christ...'

We just keep crying, crushing each others hands in an attempt at mutual comfort.

I eventually end up lying next to him, face pressed against his shoulder. Bro's obviously exhausted, but refuses to fall asleep yet. We stopped the waterworks a while ago and the silence has stretched on long enough.

"Ok... There's no way the hospital don't know about those burns. We're gonna get you a therapist, alright? A real good one. I'm gettin' you a physical therapist too." I take a deep breath. "Should'a done it right after ya got out... Gettin' you a day nurse too, alright?" God. This is such a fucking mess. "Bro... I'm sorry if any of this is 'cause of me. I know too much about this shit to think it's all me. But some of it's gotta be." I clutch his hospital gown in my fist. "And I'm sorry..." I feel like I'm choking as I force myself to not start crying again. Bro puts his arm around my shoulders and pulls me close.

I fucking lose it all over again. I feel gross as I soak his shoulder with tears and snot. Bro shakes next to me. Fuck, how much of today am I gonna spend crying?

"'M sorry. So sorry." Bro mumbles. He kisses the top of my head and I just can't handle this.

Once I calm down, I can actually speak again. "It's ok. It's gonna be alright, ok? I promise. We're gonna work through this. The two of us. I won't leave your side." I glance up at him and he smiles shakily back at me.

"Ok."

And that's the end of it for now. We can talk later. We got time.

It's not long before Bro falls asleep and I cover him back up with the blanket.

"We're gonna be fine," I whisper, turning around and leaving. 'We gotta be.'