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The Blackout

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I throw off my seatbelt and sprint into the hospital when we arrive. Luckily St. Josephine's is only a few minutes away from the Vantas house. I shake as I stop in front of the nurse's station and place my hands on top of it. The nurse looks up from her computer, a smile on her lips that can only be fake.

"Yes? Can I help you young man?" 'I look like a fucking wreck lady, of course you can help me!' I don't say that, though. I'm too terrified to sum up my wall of sarcasm right now.

"Please. My brother was just brought in. He was in a car accident. Dirk Strider. Um, he's twenty-eight years old. Blond hair. Orange eyes. I know he was brought here." My voice wavers like nothing else when I speak and I tightly hang onto the ends of my sleeves with my hands. "Help me out man..." I push my glasses up higher, still clutching my sleeves. Like I need a fucking nurse to see my arm. I need that like a hole in the head.

The nurse's coral pink nails clack against the keyboard as she looks up what I can only assume is my brother's file. "Oh yes," she finally says. "He's still in surgery I'm afraid, then he'll be moved to the ICU. We have a family waiting room if you like." She looks behind me and I turn. Karkat, Kankri and Mr. V all stand there, varying degrees of concern on their faces. "Are they relatives too?" I give a quick nod as she has another nurse lead us off, her pitying eyes watching after me. Fuck that. I don't need anyone's pity.

She tells us to wait right here for Dr. Rydell, like we're gonna go anywhere fucking else.

A couple hours pass and I wearily pull out my phone so I can pretend I'm actually doing something instead of continuously thinking about what I'd do without Bro. Like, not financialy, that don't matter much. I mean, it's nice to know I'll be taken care of but... Bro's been so good to me since that whole Mike fiasco. He's like the Bro I remember from when I was little. And he's one of the only things keeping me going if I'm perfectly honest. I let out a soft sigh and tune out the chatter of the Vantas clan.

It's only half an hour after I pull out my phone and I'm already sick of it. I continuously get messages that I don't bother reading and scowl down at my phone. I feel stressed beyond all belief. This never would have happened if I hadn't of let that puppet fucking idiot drive me! How many more people am I going to fuck over because of my teenage stupidity! Tears burn at my eyes and I blink furiously behind my shades. I won't cry again. This is ridiculous. I lean forward, elbows on my knees and hands over my face. 'Oh my god how did this even happen? Why is all of this happening...' My heart hammers in my chest. 'What am I going to do what is going to happen now! Who's next?!' There's a hole in my chest, gaping. Hurting. It feels like a vaccum. One that doesn't pick up dirt and leaves behind even more dirt and fuck idk where I'm even going with this.

The slow shift of the rooms double doors has me jumping to my feet. A tall, portly man comes out, frown on his face. He holds a clipboard and looks very, very tired.

"Family for Mr. Dirk Strider?" I nod and hear movement behind me. "Immediate family only please." Someone squeezes my shoulder and I lift my head up higher before walking over to the doctor.

"I'm his younger brother." He nods and sighs a little.

He frowns. "Parents?"

"Dead," I reply. "It's just me and him. I'll be eighteen next month." He nods to himself.

"Very well. Would you like to take this to my office?" I almost say no, but end up nodding. "Alright then. Follow me." I turn to look at Karkat before we leave the waiting area. He tries to smile at me, but it comes out as a grimace instead. I wave goodbye.

The walk doesn't take long. We go up another floor and his office is the third one down. He opens the door for me and ushers me inside. "Would you like something to drink? Coke, water? I can make tea..." I clear my throat.

"Coke is fine." The doctor nods, handing me a frosty one. He takes a seat behind his desk and rubs his forehead.

"Well, Mr. Strider-"

"Please. Call me Dave."

"Alright, Dave." He leans forward, expression serious. "I'm sure I don't need to tell you how severe the crash was. Considering your brother is in the ICU at the moment. To be honest, your brother was lucky. The other driver was thrown from his vehicle. We honestly don't expect him to make it through the night..." He pauses here and seems to think for a moment. I wish he would hurry the fuck up. "Now when I say your brother was lucky, I mean that in the sense that he's alive and kicking, for the most part. You see... his truck rolled quite a few times. What's worse is that he was hit on his side of the truck. His left arm was completely shattered. We had to put metal rods and plates in. I thought for sure we would have to amputate it for a while, but thankfulky it didn't come to that. He had severe whiplash and fractured his skull against the window of his door. We still don't know how many times he may have hit it. There was a lot of swelling in his brain, but thankfully no bleeds. We had to release the pressure, though, so don't be alarmed when you see that his head's been shaved. There could he possible brain damage, but we won't know to what extent until he wakes up." I just open my coke, the crack of the tab startling me for a minute. The carbonation tickles my nose briefly before I take a large gulp. "I'm very sorry to also report that he seems to have broken his spine in at least two places. He might be paralyzed, Dave." I almost choke up my coke. "Injuries like this? Well... a lot of people don't usually get better from them. He might never be able to walk again. Move again. Or use his left arm fully."

"But... he's left handed."

"I'm very sorry. We did the very best we could. We could always perform more surgery later, though... It would be extremely expensive, not to mention on top the other bills you'll be getting and the physical therapy your brother will need..."

"We can afford it," I bite out. "There ain't no goddamned way my brother's gonna be paralyzed for the rest of his life!" My texan always shows when I'm upset. I hate it. "I want the best physical therapist for him! The best surgeon! Not bein' able to walk
.. to do anything, would kill him..." Dr. Rydell slowly nods and studies me.

"I'll give you some numbers. In the meantime, you can see your brother if you'd like. He just got out of surgery not too long ago. He won't be awake, but I'm sure you'd like to see him anyways." I quickly nod and stand, carrying my coke with me as he leads me off. We pass back through the ICU waiting room and I wave at the Vantas's before disappearing again. Just as we reach Bro's room, Dr. Rydell stops me. "I just want to warn you again, your brother has been through a horrendous car wreck. He was T-Boned by a garbage truck. He doesn't look very good right now." I just shake my head.

"Let me see him." The doctor opens the door without a word, closing it again after I step inside. I instantly look at Bro, tensing at the actual sight of him. Bruises everywhere. Cuts. A gash across his forhead. His body looks like one big bandage. He looks like a mummy. His right eye is covered up and I bring my hand up to my mouth. 'Jesus shit did he lose an eye too?' I sink down in a chair on his right side, carefully taking his cold hand into my own. Bro shouldn't feel this cold. Shouldn't look this pale. Be like this. The tears come before I can stop them and I gently set my coke on the nightstand. I sniff. Bro looks so wrong this way. He looks so weak. So... dead. I shake my head and rub my thumb across his knuckles. His shades are nowhere to be seen. Neither is the backpack he took with him. I wonder what was in it...

An hour passes. I've finally stopped crying and my drink has gone warm. My arm is on the railing of his hospital bed and my face is in the crook of my elbow. I take my phone out once more and Dial Rose's cell from memory.

One ring.

Two-

"Hello Strider."

Make it one.

"...Hey." There's a bit of static on her end and she says nothing for a minute.

"Is everything alright? You sound... off." I sigh into the reciever and rub my sore eyes.

"Bro's in the hospital." My throat becomes tight again.

"Wha-"

"Car wreck. Rosie, he might never walk again..." I hear her breath catch and I blink away the beginning burn of tears. I only call her that when I need comfort. When I'm scared out of my mind.

"Dave I'm coming down there. I'm getting on the next flight. I'm bringing Jade and John. You need your family right now." I nod, forgetting that she can't see me. "Expect us there by the late evening. I'll make this happen. Can you stay with anyone until we get there?" It takes me a moment, but I reply quietly.

"Yeah... Yeah. Karkat." She seems to let out a relieved sigh.

"Okay. Good. Stay with Karkat, Dave. Get some rest. I swear everything will be fine." I have a hell of a time believing that, but I give her a soft yeah. "Please be safe, Dave. I love you."

"I love you too, Rosie. I'll be ok until you get here. Swear on my shades."

"Good. Call me back tomorrow, alright?"

"Okay. Bye."

"Goodbye."

We hang up at the same time and I give a soft smile, imagining her rushing around to get shit together. I close my eyes for a moment and text Karkat.

Dave: gonna stay here tonight
Dave: derp twins and tentacle sis are comin down tomorrow
Dave: ttyl
Dave: <3
Karkat: WELL I CAN'T MAKE YOU COME WITH ME, SO GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP.
Karkat: UGH CRABDAD IS FUSSING
Karkat: DON'T WORRY, I'LL HOLD HIM BACK
Karkat: NIGHT DAVE. SWEET DREAMS.
Karkat: <3
Dave: hahah you too karbaby

I grin a little and get off the phone. I lower the railing on Bro's bed, leaning forward to rest my upper body on it. I won't let Bro out of my fucking sight. Not now. He needs me. Once more I grab his hand and quickly fall asleep to the beeping of Bro's heart monitor.

That night my childhood nightmares of Bro dieing come back with a vengeance. Him being impailed by his own sword. Dieing to protect me. Protecting me because I'm not good enough. Because I'm not a hero. I'm just a fuckup.

Only ever a fuckup.