She nuzzled against him, drawing a bit of strength from him. She shivered and tilted her head to face him as he patted her on the shoulder. She could remember happier times when they’d fall into bed together, hold each other, talk, joke, and doze off together. Taran was a brother. Taran was comfort. Taran was love. She listened to him talk and thought about it for a moment, allowing her tangled hair to fall across her face. “Yeah.” She gently tilted his face back towards her before quickly removing her hand. Her face was tear stained and swollen yet again and it took everything in her power to keep from bursting into tears again. No Jewel. It hurt. It did, but Taran had a point and whether or not he meant it, it helped. She gently kissed his cheek before pressing her face against his neck. She wished she knew what to say to make him feel better just as she wished she could make herself feel better
but she couldn’t.
all she could do was look him in the eye and say, “I love you Taran… I care about you more than you’ll probably ever be able to comprehend….” She held his gaze for a long while before dropping her head back to his shoulder. “And I don’t know why it was Jewel over Two-Tone or anything really but it makes me feel a lot better to know at least we don’t have to go through this alone…” He wouldn’t care… She didn’t think he would anyway, and that was fine with her. She had said it though, and she had meant it. She nuzzled back down, gingerly draping her arm across his waist as more tears pressed though. For what it was worth he was perfect. For what it was worth, she would do her best to make it better, for what it was worth, they’d all get through this…. but for now, it just fucking hurt.
It was heavy. That’s all Taran could think was that it was just way too fucking heavy. Which is stupid because he wasn’t technically lifting anything up but that’s what it felt like. Like his existence just got exhausted of holding his pride and his defense mechanisms up so it all came tumbling down. Watching Ro accept what he was saying as the truth made him think that maybe she knew what that felt like too. Maybe they all did, everyone who went through this experience together. They were all just messed up kids looking for reasons to keep fighting and Taran finally found the one for giving up. It was kind of nice, actually. A lot less tiring than trying to scream all the time when nobody gave a damn about what you had to say.
He knew it wouldn’t last forever. The girl next to him wasn’t going to let it stay this way. Still, in this moment, Taran just leaned into her side and let out a sigh because he was pretty sure she was giving up too. Not on life or anything. Just the fight over things they couldn’t change. They couldn’t bring Jewel back and they couldn’t fix his leg. All the shouting and crying in the world wouldn’t fix those. So they were giving up together and it was kind of nice. A lot less tiring, really.
After a long moment, Taran finally replied to what Ro had said. Long enough for her to probably even forget they were having a conversation but it didn’t matter. “Me too.”
Crying? Crying was so not on the agenda for tonight. Not that Bee had an agenda, exactly. More like… well, she just really didn’t think she would have to deal with crying. This…. This was a side of Taran she had never ever seen before. In fact, she doubted anyone had really seen this side of him before. It kind of made her feel special, something she would allow herself to explore later, when it would be less awkward to sit there and feel smug.
For now, she just stood, taking the two steps it took to cross from the chair to the bed, and pulling back his covers. She ignored the stub where his left leg had been, didn’t care enough to give it any thought. Instead, she took it upon herself to crawl in next to him, wanting only to both hold him and be held as the tears continued to stream down her own face like a faucet that just couldn’t be turned off. She didn’t know what to say, what to do, how to react. All she knew was they both needed this, they both needed each other right now.
She let out a little sob, burying her face into his neck. “I just don’t know what to do anymore, Taran. I-I can only be strong about this for so l-l-long,” she sniffled a little bit, trying her hardest to stop the waterworks, but nature just was not on her side. “And I’m a horrid bitch. A horrid horrid bitch for coming to see you and letting this be the first thing I tell you. I’m s-s-so sorry. So sorry.”
Fuck. Just…fuck. That was the only word Taran had for any of this. Fuck. Jewel would probably tease him about his very ‘elaborate vocabulary’ or some shit like that. And it hit him again that she wouldn’t get the chance. It was just so…fuck.
He hated sitting here like this, all weak and unable to pick himself up. But for the moment, he was broken. This wasn’t the Taran that tried so hard to seem strong. This wasn’t the Taran that did such a good job of convincing most people that he didn’t need anyone that he almost made himself believe it. This was just Taran when all those defenses were taken away. It sucked. A lot.
But if anybody had to witness it, Bee had to be at the top of his list of people that wouldn’t have to be murdered later on. Bee was…well, she was special because he was okay with that and Taran wasn’t okay with a lot of shit. She was here though and he was a little bit glad for it.
Wiping at his eyes like a dumb little kid, Taran moved over so Bee could easily slide in. His arms moved naturally to wrap her up like they always did. This almost felt normal—besides the leg and all the sobbing. He listened to her talk, shaking his head the entire time. He was about to say something really serious which was rare but necessary.
“You’re not supposed to be. I—dammit, you’re not. You’re supposed to be sad and scared and…and if you weren’t, then there’d be something fucking wrong with you. And you’re not a bitch,” he wiggled himself downwards so they could at least be on eye-level when he said this, “I don’t know what I would have done if it was you instead of me. Somebody probably would’ve had to drag my ass in here ‘cause…what if I said something wrong, you know? Or fucked it all up even worse and…shit, Bee. You’re not a bitch and if you are a bitch then I’m a dick and I could give a fuck abut your bitch status.”
She looked up at Taran, brow furrowing. Why was he lying to her too? Jewel was here…. Well, not here at the hospital, but somewhere on this planet, Jewel was alive and maybe a bit shaken up, but she was fine. She wasn’t dead. “Taran…” she said quietly, not making eye contact with him. “Taran, don’t say that…. She’s gonna come… She wouldn’t leave us alone when she knew we needed her…. She’s….”
Ro wasn’t dumb. She wasn’t stupid, ignorant, or any thing of the like. Somewhere deep down, Ro knew Jewel wasn’t going to be back. Jewel was gone. Two-Tone hadn’t lied to her and all the hateful, rude, anons she’d gotten on Tumblr telling her things she wasn’t ready to hear had sadly been right. She’d blocked it out. Ro had never LOST someone like that before. Sure, she’d made friends that had come and gone since coming to Walt. That was life, but those people walked, talked, and lived their lives. They weren’t really gone…. but Jewel was dead… and thinking about that now sent a shock wave of dread racing up her back.
“Don’t… Taran please….” She wasn’t sure what she was asking for as she looked down at the blanket on his bed. Taran couldn’t revive her anymore than she could. Taran couldn’t bring her back and she knew he wanted to just as badly as she wanted him to be able to do it. She turned and looked towards the door. “She’s gonna… she’s gonna be here….” No one walked through the door. Not Bee, not a nurse, not Jewel… and something in Ro snapped. It burned and ached and she felt like she was going to puke as she turned and finally made eye contact.
That look in his eye…. Her hands flew to her temples, pressing harshly there to chase away the pain, even though she knew it wouldn’t help. Taran wasn’t lying to her… Of course he wasn’t because Taran Alexander didn’t lie to Aurora Hutchinson. “No… Please… Taran let this be some kind of joke…. A bad joke….” She was near tears as she hunched over the bed. “No… No, Jewel please….” A single tear trailed down her face as her hands dropped to her sides. How was Ro supposed to move on in her life without Jewel there?
She felt moisture trickle down her cheek and she didn’t bother to try to brush it away as she fell into bed with him. She pressed her lips to Taran’s shoulder and sniffled. life, no matter how privileged you were, sucked. It wasn’t supposed to be fair but the fact it could actually be this bad made her sick. “She was always supposed to be here….”
Taran just watched. What else could he do? His best friend was coming to the realization that their other close friend was in fact dead and there wasn’t a damned thing he could do about it. He couldn’t tell her it was a lie, couldn’t tell her that Jewel was in a better place (because he didn’t believe in that heaven bullshit), and couldn’t even really get up to pull her into a hug. There wasn’t anything to do but watch Ro crumble in front of him. His own self hurt, grieved right along with the blonde as she fell into the bed. Not even his own pride outweighed the pain he felt in this moment. It just wasn’t fucking right, you know? It wasn’t right that she was gone and his leg was gone and none of it made any goddamn sense to him.
He let his free arm come around to pat Ro on the shoulder though the touch probably went mostly unnoticed in the midst of her sobs. Taran had already done this so he wouldn’t begrudge her for doing the same. Her last statement lingered in the air around them.
“She was always supposed to be here…”
“She was. Fuck, she was gonna keep my ass in line. You know if anyone could, it’d be her.” Taran hadn’t even realized he had started speaking until he was halfway through the sentence. It was more than he had said aloud (aside from pissed off yelling) for days now. He looked away, at the wall or the window or fuck if he knew, before continuing. “But…but we’re here. That counts for something…right?”
Slowly word had started to creep around the hospital as more people ran into each other, a web of sorts, a who’s who of who from Walt still in the hospital and why. Some of the diagnoses chilling. Irreversible damage that a spirit like Penny’s would have had had a hard time coming back from. Things had been a lot brighter for her of late, there had been a happiness to the going on’s that she was unaccustomed to - but it had allowed through a whole host of other emotions as well. She wasn’t sure yet if it wasn’t a weakness or a blessing though that weak as she dealt with the aftermath of the quake, as she watched over Zai and tried to go as unseen as possible by his family, she saw clearly how it didn’t benefit her now. The weight heavier than she could ever remember it being before.
There were hours to waste, unable to be driven from the hospital. She was beyond the belief that he could somehow feel she was near. Life was never that much of a romantic. As long as the doctors said he would wake up, she would believe in that day. Try her hardest to look past the here and the now until when his eyes would be open again and something as simple as the knowledge that Penny had never been farther away than the doors leading outside might make a smidgen of a difference.
It was all she could offer and though she doubted it would ever be enough, was there an enough in these situations? Or was it only everyone doing the best that they can? Wandering the halls of the hospital with all those questions in mind and knowing she needed a distraction before they all drove her insane.
It wasn’t as much a picking and choosing of other patients than the fact that Penny, at her core, could only /really/ care for a few people. It was a limited feeling for her that wasn’t supposed to be limited at all - so much of it already taken up she wasn’t ready to open up and fill in the rest of the spaces with people she didn’t really know. She knew Taran though and knowing he was hurting, it created that little prick in her heart, knowing he had managed to crawl in with that select few. That compelled her to go to him, a trip to the gift store first, just to see what the outlook was. Not physically, she had heard what had happened physically, but his outlook. On everything.
Using a guilt trip out in the hall to send Ro back somewhere to rest and eat and take care of herself, no good to anyone in the condition Penny had found her but especially not Taran. Offering him a smile as she set the balloon to the side, a quick explanation, “Its a parrot obviously because…” The reason obvious as she shrugged and chuckled. Maybe it was too soon for making light of it but she didn’t know how else people were supposed to deal with something this serious. Was certain he didn’t want her falling over herself in worry or fear.
Pirate jokes were the only logical way to go about it as she stood at the foot of his bed, eye contact with him brief before glancing over her shoulder at the television. “What are we watching?” Quick to find the chair beside the bed and sinking into it.
It had been another hard day. Every single day had been a difficult one but still. Taran just wanted to go outside. If he asked nicely enough, he probably could but he already knew that’d involve nurses and wheelchairs and fuck no. What he wanted was the freedom to walk outside whenever he pleased, honestly he just wanted to walk.
Sighing in frustration, Taran flipped the channel on the T.V. yet again. He had never been much of a television viewer and he sure as hell wasn’t one now. But counting the amount of speckles on the ceiling only entertained you for so long. He almost didn’t notice the door of his room opening as he was too busy frowning at the screen. The fuck was this, a soap opera? Next.
He flipped the channel again, this time to some local news, before turning to see who his guest was. It was Penny which was nice because at least it was a different face. It was also weird though. She hadn’t seen him like this. Subconsciously, he moved the blanket over in the vain hope of keeping it that way.
Before he could say or do anything, Penny explained the odd thing she had in her hands. A parrot balloon. Old Taran would have laughed his ass off at that, maybe some corny joke about ‘argh’ rated movies. He didn’t much feel like joking these days. He knew she was only trying to cover-up the fact that she didn’t know what to say. Honestly, he would’ve done the same if the roles had been reversed. So Taran didn’t begrudge the present, he just rolled his eyes and accepted it. At least she was here to keep him company now.
“Right now? The news. But it’s boring like watching paint dry so…” he flipped the channel again and this time actually didn’t hate what he saw. “Now we’re watching a show about ninjas.”
He wanted to ask how she was, if anyone close to her had been hurt, if she had been hurt. But Taran was shit with words and he wasn’t sure he could take more bad news. This was nice in and of itself. No pressure to have a deep conversation, just two buddies hanging out. This was nice.
She had fallen asleep awkwardly, one leg bent under her at an odd angle, the other draped over the arm of the chair. She just couldn’t stay awake anymore. She slept and she dreamed. Darren, Taran, Hades… Jewel… She looked sad.
“Jewel… Jewel, you need to get here now, okay? I can’t… I can’t do this without you….” Her heart lurched as Jewel pushed the hair off her face and shook her head.
“Ro… I’m not coming back… I can’t…”
“but… Jewel, no… We need you here…” She reached for her, clinging to her hand.
“I know but I can’t come back… You’re going to have to be strong. I know it’s hard but Ro, you can do it, okay?” Ro nodded numbly. She’d have to… wouldn’t she…? Jewel brushed her lips across her forehead, leaving chill bumps behind as a bright light appeared in the distance. Jewel turned to look at it a moment before speaking. “I’ll always be watching over you Ro… Don’t doubt that… I’m… I’m going to be with my brother now, but you can do this. You can.” Her heart broke as Jewel left her, walking into the light.
Ro sat up abruptly, nearly falling out of the chair as she did so. No…. No bad dream. Stop. She looked over at Taran and laughed nervously. Standing up and wincing as her leg nearly gave out. “Taran, how long have you been up? Why didn’t you wake me…? Do you need anything…?” she walked over to him and stood there. “I’ll be glad when Jewel gets here… She’s better at this stuff than i am. She chuckled nervously, smoothing a portion of blanket beneath her hands before gently taking his large hand in hers.
Taran was awake. Not because he wanted to be or because he had any particular reason to be. He just was. His eyes scanned the already too familiar tiles on the ceiling though they weren’t telling him anything of importance. Figures.
He didn’t know for how long he had been awake; it could have been a matter of minutes or days. Time seemed to pass slowly and quickly all at once and Taran found himself caring less and less as more of it went by. He just knew that one moment he was staring intently at the ceiling tiles trying to get his thoughts in order and the next there was a rustling to his side. Turning his head just in time to catch Ro springing out of the chair, Taran sighed. He had been meaning to force her to sleep more, really he had. But it was very hard to wrap his mind around those minuscule details when he had this never-ending anger boiling in his veins and stupid physical therapy to deal with. Later, he’d tell her later.
Right now, all he could do was blink stupidly up at her as she babbled on and on. He wanted to tell her to relax. It wouldn’t do for both of them to look so stressed out all the time. But he was distracted by the last thing she said. His brows furrowed together as he struggled to sit up. When Jewel gets here…? Was she joking? It wasn’t a fucking funny one, if it was. And then it hit him; she didn’t know. Or maybe she didn’t want to know but either way Taran couldn’t just keep his mouth shut on this matter. Ro might hate him but he had to tell her what nobody else obviously would. He just didn’t know how.
“Ro, Jewel’s not coming. You…you know what happened, don’t you?”
Ro just stood there for a moment. She just stood there and stared without saying anything… and then she was falling. She hit the ground hard and just sat there on her knees for a moment, still staring but not retaining anything. And then she burst into tears and she cried for a good fifteen minutes before she could form words. “Don’t say that. Don’t say that. Oh my fuck, please don’t say that.” She let her face drop to his hand. “Shut up. Please shut up and don’t you think that way. I ca-… fuck…”
She tried to gain composure. She looked up at him from her spot on the ground. “I’ve sat in that lobby wishing it had been me… You could’ve gone to town to get cigarettes and I could’ve been wandering in the woods. I could’ve been the one pinned under that damn tree and you could’ve been the one trying to pull me out… and I wish it was me. I wish It had been me… I don’t care what that means to anyone. Taran, if I could change things i would… I could be crushed or dead or my leg gone… I don’t care at least it wouldn’t be YOU. This hurts me. I literally thought you were going to die and i’ve never been more scared in my entire life, even when I almost drowned. The doctor wouldn’t tell me what was wrong and I finally had to tell him you were my little brother and if they didn’t tell me what was wrong I was going to sue… and then they told me about your leg and I was sad and scared about what was going to happen when you found out… and I heard those screams… I was right outside your door when you woke up. I’d been there for hours and I wanted to run because it was the scaries thing I’ve heard in my entire life. I know it’s going to be hard. That’s part of why I wanted to be my stupid turtle self and hide in my shell and run but Taran… I’m still here… I’m still here and I’m not running… Don’t you run either… Please… don’t say that…”
Watching Ro break down was unsettling to say the very least. It was wrong, Ro wasn’t supposed to cry. But the problem was that his first instinct was to hug her and he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t walk over to her, he could barely get out of bed without falling on his face. So all he could do was stare blankly at her while she sobbed her eyes out. He was such a fucking failure. He couldn’t even comfort his friend. His fists clenched up the fabric of the sheets into tight balls. Taran was a failure.
He said nothing when she told him not to think that way. There wasn’t anything to say because this wasn’t the first time he has thought that, it wouldn’t be the last. Why bring it up? Then Ro began speaking again. The most important thing he heard out of all of that, aside from the fact that she wished it had been her which he vehemently rejected from the get-go, was that she had heard. She had been right outside his door and somehow that hurt. Like a dagger straight to the heart. Ro was hurting and it was his fault. Fuck. Everything fucking sucked.
Now it was his turn to say something but he didn’t know what it should be. For a moment, he just shook his head. To say no to her, to his stump, to everything. Then he heard himself talking to her, murmuring the same thing over and over again. Is this what losing control felt like?
“Not you, Ro. Not you…no, not you. I don’t want this for you so don’t say that. Not in a million fucking years. Not you, not you, not you.”
His face hit her like a steamtruck rolling down a hill at full velocity.
He. Was. Alive. She knew this, in her head at least. She had seen him sleeping, seen his chest rise and fall painfully in his sleep. She knew it. She did.
But it was so much different seeing him awake. She just stood there for a minute, memorizing the little details about his face. His jaw, his hairline, the way his lips were shaped. She never wanted to forget them, because as everything slipped away from her he was truly the only thing she wanted to remember.
Sorry? …What was he sorry for?
She shook her head furiously. It didn’t even matter. He didn’t have anything to be sorry for, end of story. She wouldn’t even let it phase her. She shouldn’t. She had more important things to worry about.
She took the response, though, as an invitation to come in. She floated into the room, her feet feeling so disconnected from her entire body. She took a seat on the chair next to his bed, just looking at him.
“Hi,” she said, trying to keep it positive and simple. But God, it was just so hard when nothing was going right. So hard. Tears welled up against her weary eyes and she fought them away as best as she could, but the day had just worked against her in every way possible, making it impossible for her to keep every one away.
And that’s when it dawned on her. She doubted he even knew why she would be crying. She doubted Ro had told him, she was so far in denial it was painful. She had told him of course, but he was so far away from this world at the time that she couldn’t imagine he would remember such a thing.
Well, shit. She would have to tell him. She would. She just… she didn’t think she could. Not without being completely vulnerable. She couldn’t be that right now. She had to be strong. He had to know, though, he had to. She was his friend, too.
“J-Jewel…” she started, her voice wavering already, the fight to hold back tears quickly becoming an uphill battle. “Jewel’s d-d-dead, Taran.”
Well, there went her perfectly constructed wall. Tears spilled freely from her face, and she buried her face in her hands. He didn’t need to see her like this, but she couldn’t help it. She needed him.
It was weird. When his mother came in, all she could do was look at him like she was sorry for him. It only served to make him feel like even more of a freak than before. Ro…well, he couldn’t even describe the way that she looked at him. It was too intricate to put into words. But Bee,she just looked at him. Not like she felt pity or like she was on the verge of collapsing but just like she was trying to memorize his face. Like she didn’t know when she’d see him again so she had to remember what he looked like. Taran didn’t know how to take that other than he had just been doing the exact same thing to her. It was just weird. He couldn’t recall if that was how they used to look at each other before…before…
She ignored his apology. Probably on purpose but it was just as well. If he had to explain everything he was sorry for, it would just start another argument and he didn’t want that. He was too exhausted for it. To make himself speak the words that he wasn’t enough for her would take too much and he was just so tired. Not the kind of tired one could sleep off either, the kind that weighed on your bones and settled in the creases around your eyes.
“Hi,” he replied, feeling like such an infantile child as he did so. But what else was there to say?
It was Bee’s next words that really threw him for a loop. At first, his mind immediately rejected the idea. No. That wasn’t right. Taran was stubborn and he never changed his own ideas or beliefs for anybody. So, no, Bee was just wrong. That’s all…but then he saw her crumble. Her face fell and so did her tears and all he could so was stare at her like an idiot. Because…because…Jewel was dead. Gone. Never coming back. The only person he could say he ever came close to looking up to was dead and all Taran could think was that she’d never get to kiss anyone again. She’d never get to have another petty disagreement or a naked swim in the ocean or a really off-key karaoke session. She’d never get to lie in a hospital bed and stare at a loved one like a fucking idiot.
Then Taran did something completely unexpected. He didn’t start screaming or throwing shit out of anger. He didn’t lay back numb or hold his arms out to Bee. He did something he hadn’t really done since he was a little child. He cried. Taran let himself break down because there really was no point in pretending. Everything was lost and there just was no point in anything anymore. If someone as strong as Jewel could die, then surely there was no chance for him. Surely he was fucked from the start so why bother? Nothing mattered anymore. Nothing at all.
His words were a slap in the face and he could probably see it in her eyes. No, it wasn’t about her. She knew that. She’d been one of the lucky ones that got away without serious wounds. Just bruises and the ever growing fear that she was losing somethiing that meant a lot to her. “Taran Knox Alexander.” Her voice was dangerous. “I fucking know that this isn’t about me. I know… but for about eight hours yesterday I was scared to death you were going to die….and I know it was a fucking bitch slap to wake up and find that out.” She too motioned to his leg. “But I say we because guess what? It effects me too. Bee, Cindy, Mater… All of us. We fucking love you and I know if you died, I’d die too because I can’t be me without you.” She was shaking with silent sobs. It hurt. It hurt her so much. “You put up with my shit… fuck, Taran we’re the same damned person. So you may want to be dead right now but…” She stopped in her tracks. I’m nothing. It echoed in her head. Fuck. She grabbed his face, probably a little more roughly than she meant to. “DON’T. YOU. DARE.” It was a rabid snarl. She was outright crying now. “Don’t you go there Taran. You’ve never been nothing and just because you lost a leg doesn’t mean you’re going to stop being something now. Do you hear me?” She shook his face and then let go, turning her back to him. “You’re not allowed to quit. You aren’t. I won’t let you… You may never want to speak to me agan when it’s all said and done but I’ll be damned and fucked up the ass before I let you give up on yourself. You’re going to walk again. You’re going to dance with me at my fucking wedding because you promised me and I’m not going to forget that Taran!”
What Ro said was true, or at least most of it was. But that didn’t mean that he wanted to accept it. You can’t be told something your entire life and unlearn it in a day. Or even a matter of weeks or months. Taran wasn’t willing to hear in this moment that he should be grateful for not dying or that he wasn’t nothing more than a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things. He shoved her hand away when she grabbed his face and stared at her coldly. Only one thing really stood out to him though, one thing that his stubborn mind couldn’t just shut out without a second thought.
“I can’t be me without you.”
It hit him then that he had failed miserably at shutting everyone out. He fell flat on his face when it came to keeping everyone away because here was Ro and she cared. She fucking cared and he knew it more right now than he ever had before. Nobody cared about Taran. People used him for different reasons, were offended by him, were forced to spend time with him but they didn’t care. Ro did and he realized now why that didn’t bother him so much.
Because if the roles were reversed, Taran would be doing exactly what she was doing for him. He’d probably fuck it all up somehow or say the wrong thing but he’d be there by her side yelling at nurses to get the fuck away until she regained her composure.
So, despite all of his rage and pent-up emotions, Taran didn’t scream at her or even snarl. It didn’t go away; he just didn’t act on it right now. Instead, he told her something he thought he would never say to another living human being. Taran knew she’d probably just get pissed about this too but he had to say it to get it off of his chest. Consequences be damned.
“I do…wish I had died instead. I wish I were fucking dead. I don’t…I don’t want to scream again,” he looked at anything but her as he referred to the exact moment he realized what had happened to him. Maybe she’d know what he meant, maybe she wouldn’t. But it was out there now and now she’d get it. Taran was better off dead; he already knew this better than anyone. Life was just giving him another friendly little reminder of that fact.
He didn’t need to talk, he didn’t need to apologize, or make some sort of excuse. She got it. She did. So she didn’t move. She just knelt there on the cold linoliem and watched him. There was no pity in her worn out face, just determination. He could get up and get back in that bed by himself. If he could do this, she knew he could go all the way. Don’t give up. Don’t you dare get up. It was a snarl in her head, on repeat. Get the fuck up and don’t you dare quit on me. She watched as his arm reached up and grabbed the bed railing. She just nodded silently. Good start babe. Good start.
She watched, heart breaking as he fell again and again, refraining from reaching out and pulling him up. That would help but not in the way he needed it to help. She felt tears pricking her eyes but this time they weren’t sad… it was anger. She’d always believed in some higher being but she didn’t anymore. She couldn’t. What God let someone suffer this much. Taran Alexander was a little shit sometime, but he was a good guy. He was a good guy who didn’t deserve this. No one like Taran deserved this. She sat there stony faced, hot tears streaming down her blotchy face, throat constricting painfully as she struggled to keep them back. She knew he could do it. Persitance was the key here.
Finally, he managed to get himself up on the bed and he settled down and only when he got situated did she rise, graceful until about halfway when she fell forward and grabbed for the bed. Lack of sleep was terrible and it didn’t feel like she’d be getting any more any time soon. Shit. She sat down close to him but didn’t touch him still . She sat there and watched him try and scrub away the sadness. She bit back tears and just sat there as he started screaming, not flinching outwardly. Inside she was screaming. She was cussing, and kicking shit over, and destroying what hadn’t already been ruined by the natural disaster. His yells echoed off the wall and she saw a nurse lean in. “GET OUT!” Ro snapped and jumped up, shoving the nurse away and closing the door, grabbing blindly for the chair until she found it, blocking the door so she and Taran could be left alone. “JUST… STAY AWAY FOR A FUCKING MINUTE. STAY OUT!”
She rested her head against the door, blinking back more moisture for a moment before turning around. “No… it’s not fair. I’ve been saying that same fucking thing since the doctor came out and told us what was going on. It’s not fucking fair, it’s not okay that this happened, it’s not okay that you’re hurt. All of it’s bullshit but Taran guess what? I don’t doubt you can do it! If you hadn’t tried I’d have been disappointed in you. If you don’t keep trying I don’t know what I’ll do! I admire you for your determination. I love that you can keep going when everyone else gives up and goes home! ” She walked back over to the bed and grabbed his hand in her own, squeezing fimrly. “BUT GUESS WHAT!” She was screaming now, borderline hysterical. “WE’RE NOT FUCKING GIVING UP ON YOU! WE’RE GONNA WORK AT THIS AND WE’RE GONNA SHOVE THIS BACK IN THE FACE OF WHOEVER’S FAULT IT IS AND SAY ‘SCREW YOU! LOOK AT ME! I DID IT! SCREW YOU LIFE! I DID IT!’ DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?”
All Taran did while Ro screamed and hollered at the hospital staff to stay out was lie there. Still in his defeated position, still with his palm pressed to his eye. He didn’t see much of a point in even bothering with sitting up. Not when this big black hole was swallowing him up to the point where he could barely breathe. Taran was not equipped for emotions. He had them, obviously, but he always ran from them. Turned the other cheek and joked it all away into a corner of his mind where he didn’t have to think about them. He couldn’t run from this. It was way too fucking much.
He was angry. He was sad. He was hopeful. He was hopeless. He was fucked. He was everything at once and there was no running away from this. No closet big enough to shove this into. For the first time in his life, Taran was being forced to actually face something serious head-on and he didn’t want to do it. He didn’t but he had no choice.
It wasn’t until Ro began to yell back at him that Taran finally found the energy to at the very least sit-up. Then she came forwards and gripped his hand tightly though he wasn’t really focusing on her actions. It was one word that came back to bother him; we.
“We? We’re gonna work at this? Newsflash, Ro, this isn’t about you! You’re not the fucking freak of nature here. You’re not the one who woke-up to find everything taken from you. You’re not the one who can’t even walk anymore! Look at me! Take a fucking look at me!”
At this, he pointed towards the stump of a leg before continuing on in his angered rant. How he even still had a voice was beyond him.
“I’m nothing! I’m not even a fucking man anymore! Don’t you get it? Don’t you fucking see? I’m nothing. I’m nothing. I’m—I’m nothing…”