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Something Vs. Nothing

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You are Trevor Hawkins, codename Eye Kid, and the thing you would advise yourself to do if you had the chance to time travel and meet the version of yourself that hadn't started dating Kid Gladiator yet (provided you had a good reason to time travel in the first place, because it would be terribly irresponsible of you to do so on a whim) is this: explain mental illness at length to your new boyfriend the first opportunity you get.

To think, the only thing you thought to be worried about when it came to depression and a relationship was that he would be unsympathetic or tell you that you needed to get over it. You weren't very upfront about your condition, hoping to put it off and use the immediacy of the situation in your favor when you did have a particularly bad episode.

How that worked out was Kubark bursting into your room and finding you in bed.

“Trevor! You were not in class, which I cannot say for sure is unusual for you because I never paid attention until recently, but certainly seems inconsistent with your character!”

You looked at him balefully from your bed. “I didn't go today,” you said finally.

"No fair! If you do not attend class then I want to not go also!"

You gestured him over and he came willingly enough. "I was too depressed."

"You were sad?"

You took a deep breath. Here it was. "Yes, sort of. Like a big sadness. A heavy sadness where you don't want to do anything." It wasn't the best explanation, but you figured it was a good start for him. You were a little nervous for his reaction to just this, anyway.

His first response was to frown and briefly consider you. Then he said, "Do you want to get ice cream?"


"Ice cream is traditional for cheering up sad humans, is it not? I tried it once. I found it a very agreeable solution."

"Oh. Well, no, Kubark." You shifted in your bed and took his hand. "I can't really get up."

"Are your legs bad?"

"No, nothing like that, I just--I just can't."

You expected him to ask why and then you would have to say 'because' and he would ask why again and trap you in a loop, but he didn't. Instead he squeezed your hand; you tried not to wince as your joints popped from the pressure. "I will carry you," he said.

That took you off guard. "Oh." You looked up at him, your mind processing a little slower than when you were at your best. "That--that's sweet of you." Your mouth went too dry too fast for you to start in on the 'but', and Kubark smiled and pulled you out of your blanket nest.

You had no idea how to say no to an offer so nice, so in full depressive mode and striped pajama pants you allowed him to swing you up onto his back. You clung onto him with a steadily sinking feeling, already tired and miserable. You weren't confident you could keep there for very long before your hands (forming a link around his neck) unwove, and then you would be too tired to remain upright.

Kubark smiled encouragingly into the eyes on your hands as he left your room--forgetting to close the door, so you had to close it with your foot. He carried you down to the cafeteria and set you down at a table to go convince the Food Blimp that ice cream was absolutely imperative. You slumped onto the table to watch as it escalated into threats.

Iceman the elder noticed the situation and asked about it, being a soft touch about allowing ice cream in the first place, and was entirely convinced by Kubark's explanation. He allowed you your ice cream, orange sherbet for you and chocolate for Kubark, and passed you on his way out, giving you a chilly pat on the back and saying, "Feel better, kid."

Your boyfriend was triumphant when he presented you with sweets, and you felt horrible for not feeling better. Even worse when you didn't manage a smile and his own smile faltered. He switched from across the table from you to sit by your side instead. His solid weight at your side was more theoretically comforting than it was in actuality.

"Ice cream!" he enthused, nudging you in hopes of a reaction.

"Thanks," you said robotically, putting a spoonful in your mouth. Maybe you should have gone for the chocolate. That contains serotonin.

"Humans do get things right on rare occasion," Kubark continued, and you knew he was talking about the ice cream but it sure felt like a personal attack just then. Again he smiled and you felt bad for not returning it. All you could do was curl in a little further toward your ice cream.

"It's okay," he said with an encouraging pat on the back, which winded you. "You will feel better soon! The ice cream will help."

You wanted to tell him not to be upset if it didn't, but speaking that much was just too much effort. You leaned into him a little to express your gratitude, or whatever emotion was vaguely making an effort inside you in response to him trying to help. He immediately looped an arm around your waist, grateful to have any response at all.

You figured out speech long enough to mumble "I'm sorry," and lethargically spoon ice cream into your mouth.

"Sorry?" he asked in that booming voice of his; you tried not to wince. "What wrong have you done that warrants apology?"

"Just being like this."

"Oh, its all right! Everyone gets sad sometimes!" You did wince. You hate that line. He glanced around briefly and confided, in what for him constitutes a low voice, "Even Kid Gladiator."

You wanted to find it cute like you normally would. But you just really, really hate that line.

Kubark looked definitely discouraged by then at your lack of response. He pushed away his now empty bowl and stood up. "Do you want to fly, Trevor? I know you enjoy flying! It will cheer you up! No one can be sad while flying!"

That sounded exhausting. You were already so tired. "I don't think so, Kubark," you said, ceasing to play apathetically with your spoon. "It's too cold outside."

"You have pajama pants," he protested.

You tried to think of some excuse that wasn't 'I don't want to', which would devastate him for sure. "I'm just not in a flying mood," you said.

He looked at you for a few moments. "Are you sick?" he finally asked, with the hope of one who may have just figured things out.

"Not like sick with my body," you said. "Just sad."

"Yes, I know," he said persistently, "I am trying to cheer you up! That is why we should fly!"

"It won't help," you said, feeling like Sisyphus.

"Yes it will," he insisted. "Flying always helps sadness, even if--" he gestured almost desperately. "Even if ice cream does not!"

You closed all your eyes. You were so tired. "Take me back to bed, Kubark."


"Please," you said, and he must have seen something in your face, because he sagged in defeat.

"Okay," he mumbled, and scooped you up bridal style.

He took you back to your room and put you in your bed, then dithered restlessly as you tucked yourself back in. "Is there anything--do you want anything that I can--"

"No, Kubark," you said gently. "Thank you." You reached up to kiss him, and he didn't pull away before you did but his heart didn't seem to be in it.

"Maybe I will come back later," he said, covering your hand with his, "And we will watch a funny movie and you will feel better."

You were too tired to argue with him. "Maybe later," you agreed. "See you, Kubark."

"Okay," he said. He didn't move.

You removed your hand from his. "Bye, Kube."

"Okay," he said again. "Goodbye." He hesitantly moved toward the door, slow, as if expecting you to stop him.

And in response to some emotion you couldn't understand--pity for him, panic at the idea of being left alone again--you did. You stopped him. "Okay, hold on," you said, sitting up. Kubark brightened right up, like the discouragements of today were all made up by those three words. He eagerly floated back over.

You fidgeted with your blanket, trying to avoid his gaze despite all your eyes. "Do you want--maybe we could--" You tried to think of something you could do that wouldn't be disheartening for him or exhausting for you. Finally you gave up and asked apprehensively, sure he would refuse or be utterly despondent again, "Do you want to sit?"

Kubark's normally expressive face was hard to read. "Sit?" he repeated.

Yeah, it had sounded dumb even before you said it. "You probably don't want to," you admitted, "and you'd have to be really quiet and still for it to--"

"Would it make you feel better?"

You blinked back at him from every angle. Usually you live in a haze of not knowing a damn thing about what you were about to feel at any given time, leaving you to give a pessimistic educated guess, but right then the answer just came to you. "Not really," you said slowly, "but I would feel less alone."

Kubark's face became determined. "Then I will not say a word or move an inch!"

You--you laughed. You actually laughed. Weakly, more like a chuckle, but still. "I just meant indoor voices and settling down for once, Kube," you said, lifting a blanket to create an opening to your nest and letting Kubark crawl gratefully in.

Kubark said, in a volume you had been starting to suspect his alien vocal cords were incapable of--not a stage whisper or a mumble, but what was nearly an actually soft tone, "I promise my full dedication to the task."

"I don't need your full dedication," you responded, thinking about what a disaster that had been today. "I just need some company."

"Well then, I promise that instead," he said, finding your fingers with his own.

It wasn't much, really, not in the face of this enormous weight on you. But it was a little more than you had before. It was something, and you could hold onto that. This kind of something would always be more than nothing.