First I want to say thank you to those people who posted and sent me messages. I know there weren’t very many of you, but this only got written because of you. It really is amazing how much your small messages mean. That being said, I’d like to apologize for this entry taking so long and not being as long as it could have been. As usual, any comments on my writing, good or bad, are wonderful to hear so please feel free to comment.
On a side note, I’m really sorry about the little inconsistencies between these three chapters (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, PLEASE don’t go looking T_T). I’m doing my best to correct or explain them, but I’m still sorry they’re there at all. j
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
James sat in one of the rooms at County General, reflecting on all the disasters since he’d woken up that morning. He didn’t really have much else to do as the doctor had just left, and Shaine was in the bathroom. It had started so well, but damn if it hadn’t gone downhill fast. The man was still upset with him and James was starting to get pissed. It wasn’t his damn fault that he’d stepped on the glass splinter. Alright, maybe he could have been more intelligent than to walk through a glass covered area without shoes, but that didn’t make this whole thing his fault. If Shaine had just opened the door for him, he never would have had to break that door in the first place, so maybe it was all Shaine’s fault.
James pinched the bridge of his nose. He hated hospitals, hated the way the doctors talked to you like you were stupid, the nurses who were half bitchy and half sugar, and most of all he hated the waiting. That was all you ever did in a hospital was wait. James didn’t want to wait anymore, wanted to leave. He wanted Shaine to stop being pissy, and he wanted to leave.
They’d cleaned, sewn up, bandaged his injury, and given him a shot of something for the pain. That was about a half hour ago. The nurse had told him to try and stay off of it. “Like he couldn’t come up with that on his own,” he’d thought. They were waiting for a prescription for something to prevent infection as well as another pain killer he could take home with him, and then they could go – most likely. James wouldn’t put it past these hospital people to make them wait for something else that was completely unnecessary.
Now that he thought about it, the car ride to the emergency room had been unnecessarily quiet. It only hadn’t been silent because the radio had been turned up so loud. With it being the only sound between the two of them he’d keenly felt Shaine’s annoyance. Even before that, Shaine hadn’t spoken to him when handing over his shoes, or when helping him into the Ford. The annoyed expression on Shaine’s face had been enough to stop him from even attempting to make conversation. So, James had hopped into one of his shoes, and then hopped to the garage with only murmured thanks. He’d used the socks Shaine had brought to try and staunch the bleeding on the ride to the hospital, but otherwise let Shaine sit in his silence.
At least Shaine had helped him into and out of the truck. He’d even gotten a wheelchair for James to use once they’d arrived at the emergency room. James was still grateful that he hadn’t needed to hop up to the counter and therefore be forced to stop putting pressure on his wound.
Shaine hadn’t said a word through it all. He’d just brought the clipboard bearing the paperwork for James to fill out, then sat down across the aisle. He’d just as silently taken the clipboard back to the window and wheeled James around as told by those thrice-damned nurses.
James’ self-restraint was waning. With what he’d learned from the girls at work, he really didn’t want to yell at Shaine right now, but the man wasn’t making it easy to contain himself. If this kept up, he’d be hollering at Shaine even if they were in the middle of the emergency room. The people who worked here didn’t need that stress, and neither did the people who were being tended.
Rubbing his temples, James again prayed they’d be leaving soon.
– – – – – – – – – – –
Water ran from the faucet, into the basin in a continuous stream. Shaine leaned against the porcelain, listening to the steady drum of the water. A migraine throbbed incessantly just behind his eyes and he shifted his grip on the edges of the sink to ease the ache in his hands. God, he’d been in this bathroom for too long.
Running a hand through his now tussled hair, Shaine sighed deeply. What a mess he was making of everything. How was James going to believe what little he could safely reveal if he continued to act like this? Maybe he could have pulled it off if James hadn’t gone stupid and managed to shove a giant hunk of glass into his foot, but certainly not after this torturous journey.
He sighed again. The hospital atmosphere was wearing on him. It wasn’t fair to blame James for the accident. The memories of those months spent here were taking far too much effort to push aside. The dread filled drives preceding the wrenching hours spent at her bedside, the blurry trips home, and the numb hours afterwards. Certainly not to blame, but James definately wasn’t helping the situation with his attitude. As soon as they had entered the emergency room doors, he’d behaved as though the hospital staff were actively trying to sabotage him; especially when it came to the nurses. Shaine had never seen James be so rude to people he didn’t know, but there he had sat, all but biting the heads off the poor women who were trying to help.
When it comes to hospitals, I guess we all have our demons, Shaine brooded while staring at the cascade emptying down the drain. Between his demons and James’, he wasn’t sure where he would find the strength to leave the sanctuary of the bathroom.
Shaine gingerly released the sink edges and placed his hands under the chilling stream. Watching the rivulets run over the dips and planes of his skin, he tried to banish all the negative thoughts from his mind. There was a chance, slim though it was, that if he could manage a calm façade, he could use James’ demons to distract from any in depth inquiries into his recent odd behavior. Pain killers, painful memories, and good food could be his salvation.
Shaking his head, Shaine slowly pressed his nails into his skin. He had become so pathetically desperate to keep his secrets to himself that he would use his friend’s pain to deflect dangerous questions. If he failed at dancing around the truth, there was a good chance all the evading would hurt the friendship he had with James. Shaine had few friends, and none were closer to him than James.
Shutting his eyes, Shaine took a shaky breath. “Remember why you’ve kept quiet for so long,” he murmured to himself.
The only time Shaine had ever heard James mention homosexuals, he had been trying to figure out how James had lost ten thousand dollars while James was on the phone with an old college roommate. Shaine had overhead James’ half of the conversation about someone the brunette had attended college with. The man’s name was Mark and, at first, Shaine hadn’t thought anything of the disparaging remarks being made about the unknown man. After all, there were some people James just could not get along with. Shaine smiled briefly; James was the kind of person who made friends or enemies, never acquaintances. The relationships James had with his enemies were toxic at best, and violent at worst.
Immersing himself in the memory of that day, Shaine heard James’ voice again just as clearly as he had then, “If I never see, hear or smell the faggot again, I’ll consider myself a blessed man. And do you remember that club he’d always go to? I still pray that the cesspool burns down. The sooner, the better, too.”
With a slow, fortifying breath, Shaine opened his eyes and turned off the faucet. Drying his hands on some paper towels, he focused on his mission. He would not lose his best-friend because of this. He would not fail to keep it all secret, even if it meant locking up his heart forever.
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
James’ head snapped up as the door opened. Wincing at the harsh motion, he was both relieved and annoyed to see Shaine re-enter the room. Annoyed that he still had to wait to be released, and relieved his friend was done hiding in the bathroom.
At least for now, he mused to himself, a half smile slipping onto his face.
James was beginning to feel the drugs creeping up on him. He reluctantly concluded that the conversation he had planned to have with Shaine would have to wait until tomorrow, at the earliest. Eyes catching on the bit of chest hair just visible with the top button of Shaine’s shirt undone, he also resolved to stay the night with the man again, though that information would be shared at a later time.
James was brought back to himself by Shaine finally moving away from the closed exam room door. He cursed the drugs in his system, though they kept the pain in his foot a dull ache. Unable to focus, he was pretty damned sure he had been staring. The blonde, at least, seemed far more relaxed than before, even if he had stood at the closed door for far too long.
Clearing his throat, James was again jerked from his thoughts, this time on how Shaine’s hair looked when mussed, like it was now. If the shorter man noticed the staring, he didn’t show it. Instead he asked, “Do you know how much longer we’ll be?” in a soft, but clear voice.
James shook his head, then quickly reached behind himself for balance as the world moved far more than it should have. “Blasted drugs,” he murmured before frowning. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud.
Shaine smiled, letting out a small laugh. Irrationally James found himself bothered by the response up until he remembered his decision about the talk they needed to have. Catching him by the upper arm, he pulled the smaller man to his side. As he did, he discovered that he liked it when the blonde was caught off guard; he looked delightfully vulnerable.
Leaning in even closer, so they were mere inches apart, James kept his voice lowered. “Now look,” he started, “I don’t want you to think you’re off the hook here, ’cause you’re not, but I’m in no way capable of having- of holding the kind of talk with you that I need to without messing the whole blasted thing up. And this is one o’ those things that you do not mess up, so! You and me, we’re gonna hold this conversation that we need to hold, you mark my words, we’re just not gonna have it right this now. You hearing me, Shaine? ‘Cause,” James frowned, his train of thought lost in the delightful way Shaine had run his hand nervously through his hair.
“Um,” he said in an attempt to gather the threads of his concentration, “’cause, uh, holdings will, uh, be had. Right.”
Flushing, James was saved from his ramble by the nurse finally returning. With her she brought a square of white paper, some crutches, a small paper bag, and an orderly pushing a wheelchair. Turning straight to Shaine, the blasted woman ignored James completely. James was irked the woman didn’t have the curtsey to talk to him about him. The orderly at least had the decency to speak to him as he was loaded into the wheelchair.
“He needs two of these for the pain,” the brown-haired she-devil was saying to Shaine, “but never more than four every four hours.” Holding up another of the stupid orange bottles, she continued, “One of these with each meal, and he needs to come back for a follow up in two weeks.”
James groaned. A follow up visit at this hell-hole would be horrible. And he’d have to come alone. Both Shaine and the she-devil laughed alerting James he wasn’t alone with his misery. He narrowed his eyes at his friend, apparently the bastard was on their side. Apparently he was doomed, and drugged. “Blasted drugs,” he heard himself mutter again. The orderly joined in on the second round of laughter.
“As I’m sure you’ve noticed,” The she-devil was talking to Shaine again, “he’s a bit addled from the pain killers. He’ll be needing someone to stay with him tonight, and someone will need to check in on him in the coming weeks. These things are fairly strong. Will that be you or should I write down the instructions for someone else?”
Shaine opened his mouth to answer, but James was sick of the two talking about him like he wasn’t there. “He will be staying with him,” he snapped, punctuation the “him” with a jerk of his thumb in the traitor’s direction.
Shaine watched him for a moment during which James couldn’t decide if he was surprised or amused by the outburst. Finally he nodded at the devil-in-nurses-clothing. She too only nodded, obviously thinking the entire scene hilarious. She held out the bag of pills with the prescription refill tucked away inside, as well as the crutches. Shaine took the bag, and handed the crutches to James. The nurse then pulled the small blonde into a warm hug, much to James’ surprise and displeasure.
As he returned her embrace, she said, “It’s good to see you again, Shaine, honey. Especially under much more pleasant circumstances.”
Responding too softly for James to hear, Shaine pulled away. The nurse smiled again, and walked out of the room, assumedly towards the nurse’s station.
Pushed out of the exam room and into the hallway by the orderly, James twisted around in his wheelchair to get his first real good look at the woman who had helped stitch him up. Just as they arrived at the elevator, he decided she couldn’t be an ex-lover of Shaine’s as she was much too old. Plus she is a she, he reminded himself with a mental slap.
Turning to question his friend about the mysterious relationship he had with the woman, they stepped into the elevator and Shaine placed his hand on James’ shoulder. The contact made James shiver, and he once again lost hold of his train of thought. He needed to get a grip on his emotions or he was liable to make a fool of himself.
“I hate being drugged,” James whined, and promptly hated himself for whining. Defeated, he dropped his head onto his chest. Shaine laughed again and gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze.