I'm getting ready to leave the room again when the doctor comes back. She takes in my defeated posture and red eyes, smiling sympathetically.
"How did your visit go?" I shake my head and hug myself.
"Ignorance is bliss," I mutter, laughing brokenly.
"He showed you then? His legs?" I nod and hear her sigh softly. "Obviously we were surprised when they brought him in. Once he woke up, he kept apologizing and calling for you." She pauses and I watch her feet get closer. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you about it before. I thought it would be better if he admitted to it himself. If not, I would have told you when I came back." I nod, still not really up for speaking. "Dave... did he tell you if he did this on purpose? Slipping in the tub?"
I freeze. What should I say? What would I want in this situation? Digging my nails into my arms, I try to make a decision. 'It doesn't matter what I want. What matters is what's good for Dirk.' I finally look up, still not prepared for the reality of my words. I can't keep pretending I can fix everything by myself. I'm no prefessional. I can't help him.
"He said..." I take a deep, shaky breath. "He said he slipped on purpose." I squeeze my eyes tight and whisper, "He tried to kill himself." The doctor is silent for a moment, then places her cool hand on my shoulder.
"I see," she says quietly. And I'm sure she does see. "Well, thank you for telling me. That must have been difficult. We'll get a nurse in here and place him under Suicide Watch for the next seventy-two hours. He'll be alright, Dave." I just nod again and she pulls her hand away. "You should get some rest. You look like you're ready to collapse." 'I feel ready to collapse.' I clear my throat.
"Yeah, that's probably a good idea. See ya tomorrow." She smiles as I finally leave, hunched over while I shuffle back to the waiting room. Just... Fuck everything right now. I pull out my phone and text Karkat.
Dave [sent]: hey can i come spend the night
Dave [sent]: some heavy shit just went down
Dave [sent]: im sorry about earlier you just freaked me out
Karkat [recieved]: OF COURSE YOU CAN. AND IT'S OK. I PRETTY MUCH ANTICIPATED THAT REACTION. I'LL BE HOME WHENEVER YOU'RE READY TO COME OVER.
Karkat [recieved]: OR DO YOU NEED A RIDE?
I frown a little, thinking it over. Going home by myself for any amount of time is probably a bad idea. I don't think Tavros would mind giving me a ride again, though.
Dave [sent]: nah im good. i got a ride
Dave [sent]: thanks though
Karkat [recieved]: JUST LET ME KNOW IF YOU NEED ANYTHING.
Dave [sent]: i will
Dave [sent]: see you l8r
Karkat [received]: BYE
I smile for a moment after slipping my phone back into my pocket. Once I reach Tavros, and he's still there after waiting so long, he's focusing on his phone. I sit next to him and rest my head on his shoulder. He doesn't move for a moment, then puts his hand on my back.
"Hey," he says quietly, "Did it go alright?" I roll my head against his shoulder, trying to indicate 'fuck no' without having to speak. I can almost feel him frowning in question. "I, ah, thought he was relatively ok? Was that not correct?" Laughing mirthlessly, I rub my hand across my sore eyes.
"No. Ya know what happened? Ya know what the fuck he did?" Tavros keeps rubbing my back, not answering. I sniffle. "He slipped in the tub on purpose! He tried to fucking k-kill himself!" Hot tears roll down my face and I shudder. "He's got burns all over his legs..." Tavros pauses only to wrap both of his arms around me. Jesus, is this how I make everyone feel? Why did I ever start cutting myself?
"Oh, Dave... I'm so sorry. Victims of, uh, trauma develop PTSD a lot of the time. Especially if there's physical trauma involved. When gone untreated, these, ah, kinds of tragedies tend to happen. He might even be having flashbacks and nightmares..."
"I should'a talked to him more. Should'a made sure he knew I was there for him." I sniffle again and Tavros hands me some tissue. I mumble a quiet thanks.
"You have to understand that even if you, uh, did all that you could, this might have still happened. It's a good thing you listened to , ah, your instincts and made that call. I'm proud of you. You did good." I nod a litttle against his shoulder and try to stifle my crying. I'm completely exhausted. "I don't think you should be alone after this, though. Do you have someone to stay with? You can, uhm, stay with me if not." I finally lift my head from his shoulder and smile a little.
"Nah, that's alright. I already asked Karkat if I could stay with him. Thanks for offerin', though." My phone chimes, but I ignore it. "Can you give me a lift to his place, though?" Tavros nods at me, giving my shoulder a pat before letting go.
"Of course. Do you need anything from your apartment?"
"Yeah, I should probably grab some clothes and some'a Bro's stuff. Is that alright?" Tavros smiles.
"Wouldn't have offered if it , ah, wasn't." Can't argue with that.
The trip to my apartment is fast. I grab clothes and my laptop. I grab some of Bro's dumb mangas for him to read. I would'a grabbed his sewing shit, but... I don't think they would appreciate me bringin' him needles. Right before I leave I think to grab the newly restored 'Lil Cal. I'm sure Bro'd appreciate the company. I lock up and practically run back to the parking lot. Something about the apartment has just been makin' me uncomfortable lately.
The short ride to Karkat's is pretty quiet. The sun is completely gone at this point and the soft droning of NPR is making me drowsy. Neither of us move after we park.
"Would you consider being Bro's therapist?" I can see him turn towards me out of the corner of my eye.
"Well. It would be, um, unusual. That is, to council family members in different sessions. I don't think it should be, ah, a problem, though. Did he tell you he wanted me as a therapist?" I shake my head.
"No, I just think you'd be the best option. I told him I was getting him a therapist. Should probably talk about our options, huh." He nods.
"That would be best. It won't help him if you, er, force him into something he doesn't necessarily want." I sigh a little.
"Yeah, I know. I just want him to be alright..." Tavros grabs my hand, holding it for a moment.
"He will be, Dave. Just support him." I nod and get out of the van, making sure I grab all my shit.
"Thanks for everything today. You're a saint." I grin as he smiles.
"I'm no saint. I just do what I think is right, Dave. Like anyone else I, ah, suppose." I give one more smile before shutting the door and walking down the all too familiar path to Karkat's front door. I hear Tavros tires crunch against the driveway as he leaves and I grin a little. Tav's a good guy.
The door is almost immediately opened when I knock on it. Crabdad's stern face looks down at me for a momemt before seeming to recognize me. Before I know what's happening, I'm being pulled into a tight hug.
"Dave! I haven't seen you in such a long time!" He holds me at arms length and smooths the hair back from my forhead. "How are you? Are you doing alright? Are you hungry?" I smile despite myself.
"Fine, yes and nah. Maybe later though."
"Alright. Karkat said you were staying the night? And that something had happened, but he didn't know what." He looks down at my clothes and sucks in a sharp breath. "Dave! What happened?!" I bite the inside of my cheek and look off to the wall.
"I... This... doesn't have anything to do with what happened. Um. I don't know. Maybe we should have a family meeting?" Crabdad nods and steers me inside.
"Of course. We need to catch up anyways. You kids are turning my hair grayer with worry." I grin a little as Mr. Vantas shouts, "Kids! Dave's here!"
Kankri inmediately comes from the study. "Dad, I'm twenty-three. I'm hardly a child." Mr. Vantas rolls his eyes as Karkat wanders down from the upstairs.
"You'll always be my baby. Besides, you're Agender. I'm not going to go around shouting 'boys' or 'sons' am I? No, because that would make ms a horrible person and also parent. Now quit bitchin' and tell Dave to come see us more often." My face burns a little as I smile at Kankri, their arms open in invitation. We hug and Kankri mumbles at me to visit more often. I nod and hear snickering. Karkat's leaning against the stair railing, laughing into his hand. I roll my eyes and open my arms. He practically sprints into them.
"Hey." I sigh contently and rub his back. "I'm sorry..."
"Me too. It was a dumb thing to suggest."
"You were just tryin' to help. I'm an idiot." I feel a hand on my shoulder and look up.
"Not that I don't love hearing my kids call themselves idiots, but we should probably talk."
Once we settle down on the various furniture, none of us are really sure how to start.
"So..." I eventually start. "Any questions. Or maybe I should just start from the beginning? I'm... not really sure what to say here."
Mr. Vantas speaks up after a moment. "How about why you've got blood all over your clothes. I'm pretty concerned about that."
At this point I'm ashamed and embarrassed, so I don't answer right away. "That was me bein' stupid... I reopened a bunch of injuries and had to get 'em stitched." No one says anything and I don't know if I should be thankful or worried. Taking a subtle glance around, they all have these sad sympathetic faces on. It makes me feel like shit.
I deserve it.
Karkat's low voice speaks up. "What happened? You said something went down but didn't say what." I shift and wring my hands together.
"Bro tried to kill himself." Karkat's quiet answer of 'fuck' has me sighing. "I know. He slipped in the tub on purpose. He's got burns all over his legs... Shit." I wipe at my eyes as Karkat sits next to me, putting his arm around my shoulders. "I'm gettin' a therapist and a nurse is gonna be at the apartment around the clock if I got anything to say about it."
"I'm so sorry, Dave. Is there anything we can do for either of you?" I look towards Kankri and shrug a little.
"Just be there for us? That's all."
"Of course we will. You can call us whenever. I know your brother's made a point to not come over, but he should start. We'll all have dinner, alright?" I smile at Mr. Vantas as I lean into Karkat's side. I'm so sure of what I'm about to do, but...
"Thanks... dad." I know it's right when his eyes shine and a grin splits his face.
"It's no problem, son," he says quietly. "How about you kids get ready for bed? You're probably exhausted. Unless you wanna eat first." I shake my head and stand, Karkat following.
"I'm good. I'll eat a big breakfast. Promise." We all hug goodnight and say 'I love you' to one another.
Once Karkat and I are lying in bed, I take his hand in mine, squeezing it. I hope it's not too late...
"Karkat... I just." I turn on my side so I can look into his eyes. "I know I'm not stable. I'm a bad choice in any category. And I don't deserve you or your family."
"No, it's true." I squeeze his hand again. "I'm a blind son of bitch who can't see what's right in front of his fuckin' face. Who can't see love when it's right in front of him." Karkat's eyes widen a bit. "I just hope I'm not too late for it, Karkat. I'm a such a dick. So wrapped up in John and all my personal shit I could never see you. I couldn't ever see just how much I was hurtin' you. Couldn't see what I truly wanted. I'm so sorry... I love you, Karkat. So much. And... Please, if there's still a chance, do you want to see if we could work out?"
Karkat doesn't speak for a long time, but he doesn't move or pull away. I'm not sure how this is gonna play out.
"Oh, Dave..." Up this close, I can see the tears spill over from his eyes. "You have to be sure. Be absolutely sure you want this with me. That you can properly handle this. I know that you know that love doesn't fix mental illness. And I know you know I'm Asexual. You gotta be sure, Dave. I couldn't handle you wanting me and then throwing me away over something like that." I scoot closer to him to hold him against my chest.
"I'm so sure. I've thought about this for months, if I'm honest. God, I love you so much, Karkat. you've always been there for me. Always. You hold me together. You're a rock. You make me want to be a better person. God, every time I think about you it's like fireworks go off in my heart!-" I'm cut short by warm lips being pressed to my own. Karkat's hands cup my face and I hold him tighter, never wanting to let go. I can't believe I was ever so stupid. I can't believe I almost missed this running after a straight boy that I knew wouldn't ever want to be with me. Tears fall from my own eyes while we kiss slowly, trying to put everything of ourselves into this one moment. I never knew kissing someone could be like a religious experience. It's like being reborn.
Like I'm being brought back from the dead.
And I'm so fucking happy I'm alive.