When Edward’s phone rang, he was surprised by the name across the screen. Sarah . It wasn’t that he had fallen out with her, or anything of that sort, but she didn’t call him often. That she was calling now immediately sparked worry in him, and he quickly picked up.
“Neddy?” Her accent was similar to his, perhaps not quite as thick, but something else in her voice was off. Distress? Like she had something urgent to discuss, like she had been crying, portending nothing good.
“Sarah? Is everythin’ alright?” A foolish question, he knew. Perhaps a better one: “What’s going on?”
“It’s… John.” She swallowed thickly.
John was the oldest of Edward and his siblings; ten years older than Ned. He had been the golden child growing up, valedictorian, the favorite, and Edward had always looked up to him. Despite their difference in ages, the two were close growing up- until they weren’t. The memories that flooded Edward’s mind, though, weren’t what was important right now. “Is he alright?”
His sister’s hesitation was telltale. Finally, she spoke. “He’s in the hospital,” she said quietly. “He… attempted suicide.”
Edward was silent. That couldn’t be right; he must have misheard her. Suicide? John ? No, he would never do something like that. He had no reason to- he had a wife and children, a family who loved him, he was successful. His life was perfect. He had no cause to end it. Edward stood there, clutching his phone even tighter, opening and closing his mouth but unable to find the right words, any words. Eventually, all he could muster was, “No.” Before he realized it, he was shaking. “He… no,” his voice broke. He felt his heart in his throat, and the moment didn’t feel real.
“He’s alive,” Sarah continued, “and they’re doing everything they can to make sure he stays that way.” The but was unspoken, hanging silently between them. But he might not make it . “If you can, you should… you should come down.”
“Of course,” he said, without even considering. Even though he hadn’t spoken to John in far too long, even though they weren’t on the best of terms, he had to see him. Of course he had to. He was his brother, family, and he loved him. “I’ll be there. As soon as possible. Thank you.”
Sarah smiled a little; a shaky, weak, and tearful smile. “I’ll see you soon, Neddy. I love you.”
“I love you, Sarah.” A hesitation. “I might… bring someone.” He knew the problems that could well arise from that, but frankly, having his boyfriend with him would make this trip home a bit easier. If Lyman even agreed, anyway.
“Yeah. A friend.”
She knew what that meant. “Okay.” Then, I’ll see you both. I love you, and… I’ll keep you updated on John until you get here.”
“I love you too. Thank you.”
Edward broached the subject with Lyman when he came home. Lyman worked at the hospital nearby, and the two of them shared their Philadelphia apartment. They had been together for a little over a year, but only recently moved in together. Lyman walked into the apartment that evening, taking off his white coat and pressing a kiss to Edward’s cheek. “How was your day?”
Edward smiled weakly, but it quickly dissipated. “My sister called,” he said quietly.
“Your… sister?” He frowned. Edward didn’t speak much of his family, he knew that. “What did she want?”
“My brother is in the hospital.” His usual self-assured demeanor was nowhere to be found. His voice wavered. “Tried to kill himself. He’s alive, but… not doing well.”
Lyman’s eyes widened. “O-oh.” He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know much about Edward’s brother, or their relationship, but he could tell his boyfriend was torn up over this. “I’m… sorry,” he said lamely.
“I’m going down to see him,” he went on, not acknowledging what Lyman said. “And… you can come if you’d like.”
“To… South Carolina? And- and meet your family?”
Edward nodded. “You don’t have to, of course,” he said quickly. “But I’d like to have you if you don’t mind.” He shifted his weight slightly. He probably wouldn’t want to, and he wouldn’t blame him if not.
“I- of course. I don’t mind at all.”He would gladly be there if Edward needed him.
He perked up just so slightly. “Really?”
He nodded. “Of course.”
“Oh, thank you.” He wrapped his arms around Lyman’s waist. “Thank you,” he said softly. “I really do appreciate it. I didn’t want to go alone; I’m just scared and-“
“Hey.” He cut him off, his voice soft but firm. “It’s okay. I don’t mind. It’ll be okay.” He kissed his head and held him close. “It’ll be okay.”