For the first time in a while, he felt his eyes slip closed and slowly sank back in the hospital’s version of a recliner. Normally, he didn’t sleep, but now that they’d finally been able to calm Brian down enough so that the older man would go to sleep as well, Nick let himself slip. The day had been rough, as had all days been whenever a new round was starting. For some reason, in his hazy mind, Brian always thought they were coming to murder him when nurses came in with the ‘medication’, and he went in complete panic mode. It was always the same, in this two long weeks they’d stayed here. They would have to sedate him, which made the former singer only more confused, before they could even start the treatment. The chemo’s were following each other up pretty quickly now, and Nick had lost complete track of just how much they’d already pumped into his friend. Not that he wanted to know. And he could only pray it was working.
That was the worst part, not knowing if they were doing this for a good cause or not. The doctors still couldn’t say anything, as it was too soon to tell. Did they really need to get Brian to the point of dying, before he could get better again? Was it really worth all that risk?
Yes, it was. As long as there was only one glimpse, one tiny little light of hope that it would soon all be over, Nick would continue to defy his friend, that often begged him to make it stop, to please, please get him out of there. No, they couldn’t go home. Going home would mean they were giving up. But was it really fair to decide that for Brian?
His dreams are filled with nightmares. Of crying little boys, worried girlfriends and dying friends. How had his life turned into this? Into this tragedy? Just when his dreams took him to yesterday’s events, he woke up with a start. He remembered being so scared that this was it, this was the end, but it wasn’t. Just a plain old seizure, or so the doctor put it. Gosh, it was by no mean plain old to Nick. It was one of the most terrifying things he’d ever had to witness.
Shaking his head, he tried to get the images of his thrashing and flailing friend out of his mind. He had to think of the good things. The good things. He drew a blank. He wished he could run away, leave this room behind and never look back. He knew he’d regret that enormously later, but did he really care about that now?
A sharp intake of breath focused his attention on the bed. Apparently Brian had just woken from a nightmare himself, judging by the round, horrified eyes he set upon Nick. A little flare of hope sparked inside the younger man when he actually could see a little recognition in Brian’s eyes. Most of the time his eyes were sightless, not able to comprehend a single thing around him. Now they were big, too bright and demanding Nick to tell him what the hell was happening. He frowned when Nick didn’t say anything, just took his hand and tried to guide him back to sleep. Brian wasn’t supposed to be awake right now, it would only bring more pain.
“Mmh,” Brian mumbled, not understanding what Nick was trying to do. “Wha’s going on?” he slurred incredulously.
“Nothing, go back to sleep,” Nick assured quickly.
“I fell,” his friend whispered suddenly.
“No, you didn’t, it was just a dream. Go back to sleep.”
“Oh… dream? Didn’t feel like a dream…” Brian muttered, looking around carefully, “Aww, my head.”
“Why don’t you ever freaking listen to me?” Nick argued softly. There was no way of getting Brian back to sleep, that was clear.
“I fell,” he whispered again.
“I know, it’s okay.”
“I tried to keep walking, but it was so hard, and I fell.”
“I fell! I fell, Harry! It hurt real bad!” Brian announced when he came back together with Mom. Harry looked sceptically at his little brother. The boy didn’t look like it hurt.
“What happened, squirt?” he questioned, not impressed. The kid had come back from the groceries with a proud and satisfied look on his face.
“I fell, my bike is weird!” the five year old declared and walked a little unsteadily into the kitchen. “Can I have bandage now?” He looked at Mom with begging eyes. Harold rolled his eyes.
“Your bike isn’t weird, you’re weird.”
“Boys,” Dad grunted warningly, “Quiet.”
“But Daddy, I fell!” Brian yelled again. Harry wondered if his little brother wanted the whole neighbourhood to know. Probably. The kid was a sucker for attention. Just then he saw the small trickle of blood running from the child’s leg. “Woah, dude, you’re dying!”
Brian’s eyes grew large and he looked down quickly, afraid his legs might have been shot off.
“Am n..” before he could finish his sentence, Mom grabbed the younger child by his arm, “Sit down for a minute, duck,” she instructed sternly and Brian complied without a word.
“Harry said I was dying.”
“Don’t listen to what Harold says,” Mom advised and Harry scoffed.
“What’s the big deal, bro? So you skinned your knee, does the whole town have to know?”
“Hurt real bad!” Brian defied, “But I only cried for a little while, huh Mommy?”
“You sure did, little duck,” Mom answered softly while pressing a bandage on the wound. “There, you’re good to go.”
With a bright smile, Brian hopped off the counter, blocking Harold’s path.
“Just so you know,” the toddler sneered slowly and Harold raised his eyebrows, “Mommy gave me a cookie, and she didn’t give you one!”
With that, Brian stalked off and Harry watched him go, slowly shaking his head. That boy would become one hell of a resilient pain in the butt.
Slowly, he shook his head, smiling sadly as he observed the two men in the confined hospital room. They both had no idea that he’d been standing there for over ten minutes. To be honest, he’d never thought Nick would stick to his word and was impressed, to say the least, seeing the kid finally able to keep a promise. He watched, his hope sinking as he heard Nick answering the same question over and over again. When are we going home?
Harold cleared his throat quietly and watched Nick looking up with a jolt. If he didn’t know any better, he’d say the younger man looked even worse than Brian. Harry could clearly see the dark bags beneath the blonde’s eyes and the creepy pallor of his skin. He briefly wondered when the kid last got a good night’s sleep and regretted ever leaving. But when he got a good look at his brother, Harold’s heart sank even further. His eyes were bloodshot, his face was sunken and if Harold thought Nick was pale, Brian was almost transparent. There was nothing left but skin over bones and it made Harry sick to his stomach. He could see his brother’s hands shaking and the bright flush that spread on his face, clearly indicating the raging fever that coursed through him.
Nick acknowledged him with a small nod of his head. He looked like he could fall asleep right then and there. Harry nodded back and Nick slowly got up, stretching his long legs. “Anything?” he asked matter-of-factly.
Harry shook his head dismissively. “No, nothing yet,” he replied softly.
“The fuck is taking them so long? It’s been two weeks already!” Nick grunted, frustrated. Harry knew exactly where he was coming from. It had been two weeks, two weeks of having no freaking clue on what they were doing. He didn’t know precisely how this kind of thing was supposed to work, but if it did, they’d better know it soon, cause Nick looked ready to give up.
“I know, there’ll be news soon, I just know it,” he tried to reassure weakly.
“Is that all you came here to do?” Nick grumbled moodily. Harry’s gaze shifted momentarily to his brother, who was watching them with interested eyes. He could clearly see that Brian had no idea what they were talking about, but was happy to see people in his room.
“What do you want me to do then?” he answered dejectedly.
“The hell were you yesterday?” Nick sneered suddenly. Harry looked down. He’d heard from his mother what happened and judging by the way Nick was reacting now, it had been even worse than he’d imagined.
“Does it matter?” he mumbled, “I should have been here, that’s what you’re saying right?”
Nick didn’t reply, instead bit his lip and looked at Brian, who was watching them both quizzically now, trying to determine why the conversation had suddenly changed.
“I thought he was dying,” Nick mumbled in a small voice. “Never do that again, understood?” he commanded Brian. The shorter man looked at him owlishly, then turned to Harry and raised his eyebrows in question.
“Dying?” he mumbled astonished as if hearing the word for the first time. “Who’s dying?”
“Nobody’s dying,” Harold answered sternly, leaving no room for arguments. He looked back nervously at the door. He shouldn’t be doing this today. Brian was far gone and Nick was in the foulest of moods. But someday had to be the first. “You know, I didn’t come here alone.”
The frown on Nicks face got deeper at that statement. The kid had become fairly protective over his brother and Harry could see that Nick wasn’t happy about the fact he hadn’t told him that he brought someone.
“What?” he hissed fiercely, his eyes narrowing.
“I brought someone,” Harry stated, then turned to his brother, “would you like to see?”
Brian nodded slowly, careful not to hurt his head and looked at Nick questioningly.
“Who?” Nick demanded immediately.
“Come on in,” Harold called and watched Nicks expression change from suspicion, to pure thunder as the person walked in.
“You! You’re not supposed to be here, you don’t have the right!” Nick spat.
“She’s got just as much right as you do, bro. Officially even more,” Harold explained, wondering if Nick would ever forgive him for bringing Leighanne with him.