Bryce tried to steady his shaking hands as he held onto the rolling tray table with a tight grip. It's fine. I'm not in danger. Bryce went through this same internal debate every time he went to enter the room. They won't let me get hurt. No matter how hard he tried, Bryce couldn't seem to calm those thundering nerves. He counted to three in his head and entered the room. Everything was a blinding white, everything but the figure sitting slumped over in the corner. Bryce cleared his throat before evenly speaking: “It's time to eat, Ohm.”
Ohm’s head slightly turns to look at him, and Bryce felt his heart freeze when those dull hazel eyes met his own. Ohm used the wall to push himself up, for a white jacket kept his arms in place. At full height, Ohm towered over Bryce, which made him even more intimidating. Bryce gathered a spoonful of mashed potatoes and hand-fed his patient. At some point, Ohm began to eyeball the tranqs on Bryce’s uniform. “Do you not trust me?” Ohm softly giggles.
Bryce rolled his eyes. “It's part of the uniform, even caretakers with level 1 patients still carry them. Besides, what does it matter if I trust you or not?” Ohm blinked blankly at the other man, then let out a gentle chuckle. In any other circumstance, Bryce would have felt frightened, but everything seemed calm. Like visiting an old friend, perhaps.
“I guess you'd have to be as crazy as me to let down your guard.” Bryce internally sighed in relief. Looks like it's one of his good days. He cleared his throat, pulling a small digital notepad and stylus off the tray. “You look like a silly waiter. All you need is an apron and the look would be complete.” Bryce rolled his eyes at Ohm’s snickering.
Bryce picks up a tablet off the tray. “I'm going to ask some questions again today, now please answer honestly.” Bryce always hated this time of week; the questions always seemed to agitate Ohm. “Let's start off simple… How are you feeling?”
The smirk on Ohm’s face dropped, but for just a moment. It was replaced with a slightly wider, more unnatural grin as he giggled: “Better now that you're here!” Bryce stood his ground, not giving Ohm the satisfaction of a glare or scowl. “Aww, not even a smile for widdle ol’ me?”
“What about your new medication? Do you feel weird on it?”
Ohm thought it over in his head for a minute, then answered: “I guess I am more sleepy…”
Bryce purses his lips and looked at Ohm for a moment before typing once again. “Just a side effect. I'll check in with your psychiatrist at a later date.” He set the device down and readied himself to leave. Though at the last moment, he pauses with the rolling table and turns back to Ohm. “If it makes you feel any better, you are the most enjoyable of my patients.” With one final smile, Bryce walked out of the room, leaving Ohm in stunned silence.
Bryce sends the tray table off and starts to head to the break room when he gets a summons from his supervisor. Bryce groans to himself before heading towards the office. He knocks and enters, to be greeted by Mr. Montoya. “Mr. Mcquaid, we need to discuss your duties with Ohm.”
Bryce stiffened at the mention of the patient, “Is there something wrong, sir?”
“No, no. Nothing's wrong. How long have you been a part-time caretaker with him?” Mr. Montoya’s words kept a friendly tone; it was strange when talking about one of the most dangerous patients in the hospital as if it were nothing.
“About a month and a half, sir.”
“That means you've got a basic feel for his personality?” Bryce nods in response as he anxiously awaits for the outcome of their conversation. Mr. Montoya continues his train of thought after a moment's pause: “We need someone to take on full-time care for Ohm, and you're the only personnel who’s stuck around him long enough. From reports, he always acts… tamer, with you.”
Bryce nods again before forcing the words from his throat. “I'll start full-time tomorrow morning sir.” Mr. Montoya dismisses Bryce.
It's six in the morning when Bryce arrives at the hospital, already dressed in his light blue nursing scrubs. He stops off at the supply station to pocket away a couple tranquilizers before heading off in the direction of the kitchen to grab Ohm’s breakfast. Bryce pauses in front of the sealed doors once again, same internal debate as every time. Take a deep breath, everything will be alright.
“You're here early Brycey! Did I actually scare off the other caretaker?” Ohm giggles as Bryce entered the room. He brings the food cart to a halt before addressing Ohm.
“There's no need for any other staff to help out anymore. I've been promoted to full-time.” Bryce begins his normal routine of hand feeding the mush to Ohm. When the tray cleared, said patient decided he was feeling chatty. Ohm rambled on and on to Bryce like it was a normal, everyday conversation. Bryce listened to the stories Ohm told, and even shared a few of his own experiences in return.
Sometime during the conversation, Bryce noticed how Ohm would fidget in the jacket. He felt a little bad and thought about his choices. Bryce quickly came to a conclusion and acted upon his thoughts. “Ohm, if you promise to be good, then I can unclip the jacket. Only because it's good to stretch your arms out every once in a while.”
Ohm looked shocked, but he quickly regained his composure: “I won't cause too much trouble for you. But only because you entertain me, Brycey!” He ignores the little nickname and approaches Ohm cautiously. Bryce hesitates a moment before undoing the jacket and freeing his patient’s arms. Bryce backs away, keeping a small distance in between them, just in case something were to happen. But nothing does. Ohm looks down at his hands with amazement, rubbing his sore arms. I guess if I look past his physical appearance… he kinda reminds me of a child. The pure bliss on Ohm’s face brought a chuckle from Bryce’s lips. “What are you laughing at!?” Ohm growls, quickly becoming defensive.
“Don't worry, I'm not laughing at you. It's just… that was the first real smile I've seen in a long time…” Bryce gazes off at one of the walls for a moment, he didn't even realize that Ohm had gotten closer until the patient was right in front of him. His eyes widen as he takes an automatic step back. “I-it's nothing to worry about!”
Ohm looks him in the eyes, it almost looks like he was concerned for Bryce. The patient hesitantly reached his arms out, deciding whether or not to go through with the action. Bryce ignored his paranoid thoughts and hugs Ohm. Tight, yet gentle arms wrap around him; he feels almost safe in that moment. The hug ends almost as quickly as it had begun, and Bryce feels conflicted in his thoughts.