Chapter 1: Think Walter, Think!
“Where have you been?” Leo asked as Willa walked in.
“I went shopping,” she said, holding up a grocery bag as proof. “We needed milk and eggs and I needed some feminine products…”
Leo held up a hand to stop her. “Okay.”
“Would you like to check the bag?” Willa asked, holding the bag open for him.
“No, I’m good.”
He gave her a pointed look. “Yes.”
Willa grinned. “I also picked up some more Lucky Charms for Walter.”
“That was very thoughtful of you.”
“Where is Walter? Still working on the case of the missing prize Yorkie?”
“Still working on it, but he’s lying down right now. He has a headache.”
“Another one? What’s that make… three this week?”
Leo nodded. “Yeah. I’m starting to get a little worried about him.”
“Why? It’s just a headache.”
“For anyone else, it might just be a headache, but for a man who has suffered brain damage, it could be the sign of something worse.”
Willa frowned. “I didn’t even think of that. Maybe we should take him to a doctor?”
“You think I haven’t tried to get him to go? When it comes to doctors and hospitals, he’s even more stubborn than you are.”
Walter pulled his covers up around his shoulders tightly as the throbbing in his head increased slightly. He didn’t need this, not right now. He needed to find Princess M, the Yorkie, that’s what he needed. But when he began to think, to try to put the pieces of the puzzle that he already had together, the pain and throbbing increased to the point that it felt as though a knife was being plunged into his brain. And twisted.
He rolled over and looked at the clock; it read three thirty-four pm. He’d spent most of the day in bed. His hand hit the bedside table and began searching blindly for the bottle of aspirin he’d left there earlier. Watch… glasses… wallet… His hand hit something cool and the sound of glass shattering sliced through his head in the next instant. He clapped his hands over his ears and curled into himself more, regretting his decision to search for the aspirin. In that moment, he was regretting waking up… hell, he was regretting even existing, the pain was so intense.
“Walter?!” Leo yelled, his footsteps thundering in.
“Shh!” Walter scolded as loudly as he dared.
“It was just a glass,” Willa whispered, pointing to the glass shattered on the wet wood floor.
“Aspirin,” Walter begged.
“No, I think it’s time you go to the hospital,” Leo said softly.
“Can’t, have to find Princess M.”
“Walter, you can’t even find the bottle of aspirin, you’re in no state to find a dog.”
Walter gave Leo a harsh glance. “Rub it in.”
Leo laid a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Come on Walter, let’s go to the hospital and get you to feeling better.”
Walter’s expression hardened. His heartbeat quickened and the air suddenly felt thin. “No.”
“I know you don’t like hospitals, but…”
“But nothing. Dead or dying, that’s the only way you’ll get me to a hospital.”
“Walter, don’t be…”
“Give me my aspirin.”
Leo gave him a challenging look, one that he remembered giving his daughter once upon a time when she refused to do something.
“Willa, my aspirin.”
Willa looked between Walter and Leo, unsure of what she should do. It felt like one of those situations where no matter what she did, she would lose with someone. She watched as Walter pulled his knees impossibly closer to his chest. He was pale and his eyes looked watery; he had to be in a lot of pain. But what scared her more was what Leo was always saying; that if Walter ever failed to find something, he would die. Or go into a coma. Something bad would happen to him anyways. Leo always added that it was just a theory, but the way it seemed to scare everyone when Walter would hit a dead end… it had to be more than just a theory.
Willa sighed. “The aspirin isn’t doing any good.”
“Not going to the hospital…”
“I know. Just hang on… I’ve still got those pain pills from when I broke my arm. They should work better.” Willa ran off to retrieve the prescription bottle from her trailer.
“You were supposed to take those,” Leo scolded her when she returned with the pills and a glass of water.
Willa rolled her eyes. “I took a few. Besides, it’s a good thing that I didn’t… Walter needs them more than I did.”
Walter gave Willa a thankful look as she shook a couple of the pills out into his hand. He popped the pills into his mouth and angled his head so that he could get a sip of water to wash them down with. “You’re an angel.”
Willa smiled. She sat the pills and water down and pulled his blankets up as he closed his eyes.
When Walter woke, he found himself in the dark. He looked at the clock again; it was eleven twenty-seven pm. He’d slept the rest of the day away. As he rolled over, he took stock of how he felt… weak, still tired, and his head still ached. It wasn’t as bad as before, just a dull ache that hung in his skull like a fog. He still couldn’t think though. He sat on the side of his bed, rubbing his hands over his face, clearing the sleep from his eyes and massaging his forehead. When he’d first woken, it occurred to him that he needed to do something. What was it?
‘Think Walter, think!’ he mentally prodded himself. He rested his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands. His mind was a blank. It was as though he was yelling into nothingness. He’d never felt so… so… damnit! He couldn’t even think of the word he was looking for to describe how he felt! He wanted to scream and cry and hit something and several other things that his brain refused to identify, but he thought better of it. The last thing he needed to do was cause the dull ache to escalate.
Walter took a calming breath before he stood. As he looked around his room, it occurred to him that he really needed to use the bathroom. That was what he needed to do! He smiled as he mentally celebrated the small victory of remembering.
He took one step towards the bathroom before falling to the floor. The smile faded away as his body began to jerk erratically.
Chapter 2: Not Alright
Willa finds Walter unconscious on the floor, with no memory of what happened. Leo and Willa are concerned, but Walter refuses to admit anything is wrong.
Written for the 'Seizures' square of my Angst Bingo card. Beta'd by sgflutegirl
“Walter?” Willa asked as she knocked on his door softly. There was no answer. “Walter? I brought you something to eat. You missed dinner.”
She looked down at the tray she was carrying and smiled. She’d fixed Walter a bowl of Lucky Charms and gotten him a glass of chocolate milk; it was his favorite meal. He called it ‘the meal of champions’. Leo called it ‘the meal of a sugar-holic, grown-up child’. Willa just hoped it’d make Walter feel better, or in the very least, bring a smile to his face. The look of pure pain on his pale face earlier that day had stuck with her and haunted her every thought since. She may not have let on that she cared about Walter or Leo, but with each passing day, they felt more like family to her and seeing Walter suffering like that... it tore her up like nothing had in a very long time.
Willa sighed, tired of waiting. “Walter, I’m coming in… you’d better be decent!”
Smiling, she opened the door. Her smile disappeared in an instant when she saw Walter lying on the floor, face down. She sat the tray of food on the floor beside the door and turned on the lights. “Walter? Are you being weird again?”
Walter didn’t move or say anything.
Willa dropped to her knees beside him, placed a hand on his shoulder and gently shook him. “Walter? Are you okay?”
Walter groaned weakly, struggling to get his eyes to open and stay open. “Willa?”
Willa smiled nervously. “Yeah, it’s me.”
“What is it? You need something?” Walter asked, placing his arm under his face like a pillow.
She frowned. “No, I… I just brought you something to eat. Your favorite; Lucky Charms and chocolate milk.”
“That’s very thoughtful of you Willa, but I’m kind of sleeping right now.”
“On the floor?”
“Why would I sleep on the floor when I have a perfectly good bed? Although, sleeping on the floor is supposed to be very good for your back. Can’t imagine it would be very comfortable though.”
“No, Walter, you’re on the floor right now.”
Walter opened his eyes and looked at his surroundings. He was indeed on the floor, just as Willa had said. He frowned. “Why am I on the floor?”
“I don’t know, that’s why I was asking you,” Willa replied, becoming increasingly worried. “I’m gonna go get Leo.”
“No, Willa…” Walter began, but she was already gone. He sighed and closed his eyes once more.
When Willa returned with Leo, Walter was asleep once again.
“Walter!” Leo said urgently, carefully shaking his friend’s shoulder.
“Ugh, what?” Walter asked sleepily, annoyed.
“Walter, you passed out on the floor.”
“We don’t know that.”
“The fact that you don’t remember says that you did,” Leo said seriously. “We need to get you to a hospital, this is beyond headaches now.”
Walter rolled over on his back. “I’m fine!” he insisted. “My headache is gone and… you know what? I may actually know where Princess M is!” He smiled as he sat up, sense of hope restored.
Willa and Leo stared at the floor and then him in disbelief. Leo gave him a look.
“Walter, you urinated on yourself and the floor. You are not fine.”
Walter looked down to find a wet spot on the floor where he had been laying. This was quickly followed by the realization of a cold, wet sensation from his sleep pants. A sinking feeling took hold of his stomach as his mind scrambled for explanations. “Maybe I had to go to the bathroom really bad, but I couldn’t wake up enough to make it to the bathroom… I did take pain killers earlier. Those things have warnings.”
“I’m fine Leo.” Walter stood and pulled at his wet pants uncomfortably. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go take a shower and try to wash some of the shame off.”
They watched as Walter retreated to the bathroom and heard the water in the shower come on.
“He’s not alright, is he?” Willa asked, worried.
Leo shook his head sadly. “I really don’t think so.”
Several days had passed since Willa had found Walter lying on the floor unconscious. Walter found Princess M and returned her to her very grateful owner. Leo had suggested that Walter take a break from finding things. Walter didn’t want to, but he finally agreed.
Walter was finding it difficult to fill the time. He was BORED. He tried to remember how he passed the time between finding things before, but it seemed like an eternity ago and he couldn’t remember anything but finding things.
He tried making up some new drinks, but they turned out mostly un-drinkable. One turned out to be an amazing new cleaner, however, when it proved so disgusting that Leo had no choice but to spit it out. It lifted a stain out of the bar that had been there for as long as he could remember, so Walter called it a win.
Willa took pity on Walter when his boredom reached a new level and he began to follow her around, just to see what she did on a daily basis. She took Walter shopping, to the park, to a restaurant she’d been wanting to try out and to a movie, but nothing proved interesting enough to keep Walter’s attention and he began looking for things to find.
“Back so soon?” Leo asked when they returned only a few hours after they had left.
“Yeah, Walter started trying to find things everywhere we went,” Willa explained. “A woman at the mall lost her kid; it was like Christmas came early for Walter.”
“It did,” Walter said as he made his way around the bar. “That kid was like an unwrapped, biting present.”
Leo arched a brow. “Biting?”
“Yeah, kid was a biter; he tried to take a chunk out of me.” Walter held up his arm to show Leo the teeth marks.
“He’s lucky he didn’t get arrested.”
“What did he do?”
“He was going around the mall, lifting up kids to look them over and saying ‘nope, this isn’t the one I’m looking for’.” Willa rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Mall security was already tailing us when he found the kid he was looking for and quite loudly announced ‘you’re the one I’m looking for!’ The kid bit him and all hell broke loose. As they were hauling us off to mall jail, the mother came running up and thanked him for finding her son.”
“It was all straightened out before it even became a thing,” Walter said in a ‘no big deal’ sort of way.
Willa threw him a look. “Oh no, it had been a thing for a while.”
“He does take some looking after when he’s trying to find something.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not going to risk my probation like that again.”
“I thought we had a good time!”
“I love you Walter, but I’m not gonna get arrested because you can’t resist finding things. At least not when you’re going around acting like a pedophile.”
“I was not acting like…” Walter’s body went rigid and he fell to the floor, his body jerking.
Willa stared over the bar at him in shock. “Wha- what’s happening to him?”
Leo hurried around the bar and dropped to his knees beside Walter. “He’s having a seizure!” He carefully grasped Walter’s shoulder and hip and turned him on his side.
“What can I do?” Willa asked, panicking.
“Pillow… get me a pillow!”
Willa grabbed the pillow out of a seat by the back window and handed it Leo. “Wha- what else?!”
Leo carefully placed the pillow under Walter’s head. “There’s nothing else that we can do, we just have to wait for the seizure to end.”
“Wait?!” Willa said in disbelief. “We can’t just wait! He’s hurting!”
Leo stood and hugged Willa. “He probably can’t even feel a thing.”
“And that’s better?” Willa sobbed.
“In a way, yes.” Leo smoothed a hand over her hair. “He likely won’t even remember having the seizure… he didn’t last time.”
“When you found him on the floor… I’d be willing to bet he’d had a seizure.”
“Leo, we have to do something!”
“There’s nothing we can do, we just have to wait it out.”
“Shouldn’t we call 911 or something?” Willa asked desperately.
Leo thought about it for a moment and nodded. “Yeah. That’s a good idea. It’s probably the only way we’ll get Walter to the hospital.”
When Walter woke, he heard the beep of a heart monitor, felt the pulse monitor clamped on his finger, the chill on his face and arms from the air being turned down to discourage germ growth, and smelt the cleaning chemicals that always loomed in the air at hospitals. For a moment, he wondered if he were dreaming… dreaming about the last time he was in a hospital.
“Walter?” Leo asked.
Walter’s turned his head to the side. “Leo? What happened?”
Leo scooted closer to the bed. “You had a seizure.”
Walter rubbed a hand over his face, trying to remember what had happened. “Seizure?”
“Yeah. And it wasn’t the first time either.”
“What are you talking about?”
“When Willa found you lying on the floor that night.”
“Oh.” Walter looked around the room. “Where is Willa?”
“She went for some air. You scared her half to death.”
“Walter, I need you to tell me the truth,” Leo said, giving him a stern look. “Has this happened before?”
“How would I know?”
“Lapses in memory, waking up with no knowledge of what had happened…”
Walter lay silent, staring up at the ceiling.
“Walter,” Leo growled.
“Maybe… a few times.”
“Damnit Walter! Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Because I wasn’t even sure what had happened and your answer for everything is ‘go to the doctor’ or ‘go to the hospital’.”
“For good reason Walter! This isn’t some sort of game, this is serious life and death stuff!”
“You can’t just bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening!”
“I know!” Walter yelled. He closed his eyes and forced the emotions bubbling to the surface back down.
Leo laid a hand on his friend’s arm. “I know this stuff scares you Walter, but you know what scares me more?” Walter said nothing. “Losing my best friend, that’s what scares me more than anything.”
“I’m sorry Leo.” Walter swallowed hard. “I just… I’m afraid.”
“Of what? What exactly scares you?”
“Losing my ability to find things. I… I guess that’s what scares me the most. If I lose the ability to find things, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself, I wouldn’t know who I am anymore,” Walter admitted. “I know it sounds crazy, but…
Leo nodded. “I understand.”
“Brain damage gave me this ability, it’s just as likely that it can take it away too and I… I just couldn’t live with it if it did.”
“It could. But these headaches and seizure, left untreated, they could just as easily do the same… or worse. This is one time when you can’t afford to fear the unknown Walter.”
Walter took a deep breath and nodded.
“Willa and I will be right here with you, every step of the way.”
Walter smiled. “So what now?”
“Now we wait for your test results to come back and we go from there.”