When Brian received the call he was at work.
The restaurant was lively and energetic, a bustling crowd walking past with noisy discussion within the night. Suds were up to his elbows and sweat had started to bead on his brow, his uniform was near dripping wet while he was waiting to go home. Brian was in the midst of a group of servers and apprehensive cooks who were striving to prepare more food than they could manage. The upper hand of anxiety from each individual was winning them over and it showed on their faces how much pressure they were under.
As he scrubbed away at the dishes resting in the ample sink, his phone began to buzz in his pocket. He hadn't realized it at first, but soon he understood the vibration he was sensing was from his back pocket. Wiping his hands on a dishcloth, he quickly pulled his phone out and gazed at the caller ID. His fingers were still slightly wet and made the edges of the screen foggy.
It was odd - he'd never seen the number before - and the ID was from a hospital. The hospital in question was one he'd never heard of as well, and he quickly escorted himself out of the building to take the call with a worried expression. Perhaps his mum or dad was injured, maybe Freddie or John partied too hard and found themselves in trouble. It wasn't out of the ordinary for his friends to get too drunk or too high and find themselves in a bout of trouble only to call the one person they knew would come to their rescue. The anxious thoughts ran across his mind as he marched outside into the frosty winter atmosphere that made his cheeks rosy and his body tremble. He'd need a bigger coat before the air became too chilly for his own less than a satisfactory raincoat.
"Hello?" Brian answered while placing a hand over his other ear as to block out the noises from the restaurant behind him.
"Good evening, Mr.May, I'm from the River View Treatment Center. Roger Taylor has been admitted to the psychiatric wing."
Roger Taylor? Brian was perplexed, why would he - of all people - be called when Roger was in care? He hadn't seen his former lover in years and heard even less of him since their last time seeing each other. The voice on the other end was tired but perked up in a way not to panic him.
"I don't understand, why did you call me?" Brian asked in confusion as he zipped his jacket to his chin.
"Mr.May, you're Mr.Taylor's emergency contact."
Once again, confusion.
"Oh...Right." He feigned knowledge, curious to see what he'd gotten himself into. "What happened?"
"Mr.Taylor jumped from a bridge last night, and he's in critical condition. We believe he was attempting to take his own life."
Brian's breathing hitched in his throat as he paused to process what he'd just heard. Unconsciously, he reached into his pocket for his car keys which he pulled out quickly as he began walking to his car as quickly as he could without letting on to the strangers passing him by that he was in a rush. Panic rose in his throat and he felt it began to close.
"He- He tried to jump from a bridge?" Brian asked in denial as he unlocked his car.
"Yes sir, he jumped from the bridge last night at approximately three A.M."
Brian, without thinking, quickly hung up the phone at the confirmation he'd just been given. He and Roger hadn't settled on great terms, and they hadn't seen each other in quite a long time. He had no idea he was even his ex-lover's emergency contact to begin with.
Driving to the treatment center was a complete blur, the four hours it took to drive there felt like years as he attempted to stay within the legal speed limit. His hands shook violently the entire time and his body was on autopilot, his thoughts consumed in worry and fear of losing the now stranger he used to love without being able to tell him so many things he never did. It was almost like a fever dream and he was almost worried when he arrived, he would be met with awkward stares as it was a dream of his. Maybe he was the crazy one.
The building was run down and bleak. It had the atmosphere of loneliness and illness, as most hospitals do, and put a bad taste in your mouth. Years ago you could tell the center was lively and clean but times of patients and doctors roaming the halls had tolled the old bones of the structure which caused it to reflect the emotions of the souls who entered through the double doors.
The psychiatric unit was - surprisingly - the cleanest wing of the clinic and as soon as he entered, a youthful woman with her hair stretched into a painful looking bun greeted him.
"How can I help you, sir?" She asked cheerfully as she set down a pen next to a large stack of papers that weighed the table down.
"I'm here to see Roger...Taylor." Brian hesitated, a bit timid of his surroundings and the shuffling patients and doctors near him that seemed to know exactly who he was.
The nurse seemed to know exactly who he was speaking of and told him to be gentle when coming in, and the room number. It wasn't a dream after all and he wasn't sure if he should feel happy or sad about that. His hands were shakey and he was clearly nervous as he made his way down the hallway, eventually standing in the doorway of the room where his friend from so long ago was laying in the bed. Brian could see the rise in the blankets where his feet and legs were, but not his torso quite yet. From inside the opening of the door, he heard labored, near crackling breaths and as he watched he saw Roger shiver as he coughed forcefully in his state of uncomfortable rest.
The heart monitors practically trumpeted in his ears as he descended into the room, Roger was sleeping with his head lazily slack to the side but he didn't look peaceful. The sight of the man who used to be so close to him was shocking, and nearly brought tears to his eyes. Roger was thin and pale, dark circles consuming his eyes cruelly. His body was covered in deep purple and green bruises along with fresh blood-soaked bandages cloaking his arms and torso. The young man had discarded his gown earlier in the visit, which exposed his damaged body further.
What wasn't clear at first glance was the fact that he was cuffed to the bed by his wrists and ankles which seemed to burrow into his weak limbs harshly and each movement limited him painfully. The restraints were as tight as they could be for how frail his limbs were, and it seemed as if they were near cutting into his flesh despite being wrapped in cloth underneath the leather that resembled that of a belt buckle.
Brian hesitantly sat in a chair next to Roger's bed and observed him as he breathed, his breaths were ragged and seemed to gnaw in his lungs which couldn't have been anything but torture. A nurse soon entered the room, staying silent as she tinkered with his IV drip. She glanced at Brian and gave a small smile before returning to her task, her tongue sticking out a bit in concentration as she worked. She looked just as tired as the voice over the phone sounded and he knew the hours she must be working were hard and long.
"Uh, when do you think he'll be up?" Brian whispered before leaning forward in his seat, placing his elbows to his knees. The nurse turned to him and looked over the sleeping man with a questioning gaze as she thought the question over.
"Soon, he's been asleep for..." She gazed at her watch. "Well, all day. He woke around four, but he wasn't exactly in a good mood." The nurse gestured down at the cuffs around his wrists and ankles.
"Oh, okay thank you."
When the nurse had adjusted his morphine drip and arranged a few things around the room, she quickly exited as she'd entered. Brian wandered around the room for a bit of time while occasionally looking over at his friend. He remembers years ago when Roger was full of excitement and joy for life. He was always smiling or talking until his voice gave out, perpetually eager to chat about whatever he'd seen even if it wasn't remarkably interesting. He loved waking up next to Brian and more often than not, Brian was being woken up by his lips over his forehead and his warm grin.
Seeing him now, in this state, was disturbing. Even without words, his body was a husk of who it used to hold.
He had been caught up in his thoughts when he became aware that Roger's heart monitor had sped up significantly and he was perched up in bed, staring at him in confusion and what was most likely fear. It was hard to tell as he was quite sedated and drowsy. When Brian finally noticed, he met his friend's gaze and gave a small smile, running his hands over the end of the bed.
"Hey, Rog. I haven't seen you in a while." Brian carefully talked, quietly and slowly just as the doctor asked him to.
Roger seemed to be processing everything as he put his hands across his head, scratching through his scalp roughly with a disoriented whimper. His hair was down to his shoulders and a dark blonde but it was dry and flaking out long, thin strands as he touched it from lack of care and absence of hygiene. He closed his eyes for a moment and sighed deeply to stop himself from whining while running through the events of the last two days in his mind. It was all very overwhelming.
"How did you know I was here?" Roger asked hoarsely with a slight slur, the simple use of his voice straining his vocal cords.
"I'm your emergency contact."
He looked up at Brian, but there was nothing behind his gaze. No thrill to see him, no satisfaction to talk, no nothing. The loving and motivated look he used to get every morning was gone - reasonably - behind years of isolation. Roger sat up as delicately as he could, his shackles binding him from going too far up the bed. He winced in pain as he moved which only caused Brian's heart to ache in sympathy.
"Roger, don't hurt yourself. You need to relax." Brian told him carefully upon seeing how strenuous simply sitting up was on his body.
Clearly not amused by the suggestion, the young man on the bed shot his gaze up to him with a look of aggravation and poorly-concealed agony. His heart monitor was beginning to pick up once again and the noise was driving a hole through his head.
"I tried to jump off a bridge the other night, Brian." He cursed, the words rolling off his tongue as if the action was normal. His voice remained chalky in his throat, forcing it into a whisper. "And then you know what happened? I fucking missed." Roger took a deep and shaking breath and looked away from his former companion before continuing. "Do you know how hard it is to miss a massive body of water? I couldn't even jump off a bridge."
Brian wasn't sure how to reply so he simply sat down and placed his hand out to which Roger stared at timidly before opting to ignore the gesture. Roger ran his hands over his bruised body and bandaged chest, now feeling how sensitive his skin was and had become as each swipe of his hand only caused more pain. He attempted to raise his hands up to brush a tangled knot of long blonde hair out of his face as it had begun to sink further down, but the padded cuff stopped him halfway which only frustrated him more.
"Do you want some help?" Brian gestured at the entangled blonde hair obstructing his view. Roger looked over and pulled his head higher which allowed him to reach his hand out to brush away the hair. He tucked it behind his friend's ear and ran his hand over his bruised jawline gently, taking him in. Roger pulled away from the touch and seemed to be turning red but not in affection or passion, it was frustration from the entire situation. He wanted to be left alone and having Brian here was a living nightmare.
"Why are you here?" Roger suddenly asked coldly as he kept his gaze on the restraints.
"Well," Brian furrowed his brow. "I was worried about you. It's not every day you get a call that one of your friends tried to..." He trailed off quietly, waving his hand to dismiss the notion.
Roger smirked a bit with a sharp exhale. "Right...When one of your," He paused to look back to Brian before putting his hands in quotations. "'Friends' tries to off themselves, huh?"
"Hey, you are my friend, Rog."
"I am? That's funny because I haven't seen you in..." Roger countered while he looked up in feigned counting. "Five or so years."
Brian scoffed as he turned his head away. He was attempting not to be frustrated with him as he was hurting and only taking it out on the nearest person, but he was only trying to help.
"What happened to you? Why would you do this?"
Roger said nothing in reply but rather settled his gaze on his sheets. His breathing picked up and he began to tear up a bit, his hands closing into fists. Before Brian could say anything he laid down back into the pillows and looked over at the man in the chair with an irritated appearance with tears threatening to stream down his cheeks.
"I want you to leave. I don't want you to come back, I don't even know why you came." Roger's breathing had become noticeably accelerated and labored, and when Brian attempted to reach out to assist in calming him down, he jerked his hand back with a heavy metal racket of his restraints that only pushed the leather deeper into his wrists. Vicious red marks had begun to form underneath and it was awfully painful to even see, much less feel.
"Okay, okay," Brian placed his hands up. "I'm sorry. I'll go."
They didn't say anything more as Brian didn't want to agitate him further and as he exited the room he heard the young man in the hospital bed whimper loudly and miserably which made him choke up himself as he walked down the hospital's corridors. He attempted to ignore the sound of nurses speaking to Roger in an effort to soothe him after hearing the outcry but only received more sobs as an answer to their questions and failed attempts of helping the patient. He was far too upset and out of it for a console.
Brian stayed at a hotel that night and the memories of their time together rushed back to him in clusters. The first time they had sex and Roger fell off the bed because he got too excited, the first kiss they shared and it felt more than perfect, and the first time they went on a date and Brian inadvertently brought molded bread so they ate cheese with wine.
It felt like yesterday he was waking up next to his partner and running his hands through his - then - short blonde hair. His cheeks were always rosy in the mornings, and his voice much deeper than its normal tone which Brian found to be charming but Roger hated. Brian would cook them breakfast while his lover told him about the dream he'd had the night before, seemingly speaking at a million miles an hour. If he hadn't had a dream, he'd discuss what he'd want to dream about which were always entertaining to hear as Roger owned a fantastic imagination.
Brian was less of a talker and more of a listener which was discovered on their first date; the moldy bread incident. They had decided to meet at a park instead of riding in Roger's car together, and Brian showed up on a bicycle with a basket tied to the back of the seat which meant by the time he arrived - wearing dress slacks and a button-down shirt - he was sweating and out of breath which couldn't have been attractive. Roger was already there and quietly sitting on a blanket with his legs crossed, patiently awaiting his boyfriend.
Once he spotted Brian, he burst into a loving smile and jumped up to help him with his bike and picnic basket, grabbing up his bike right from him without receiving permission.
"You look...Warm," Roger giggled as he looked his partner up and down. "Good ride? I could have just picked you up."
"Very observant, Captain Roger, I'm quite warm! Didn't want you to waste gas, it's a perfectly good bike!" Brian laughed along with Roger and bumped his shoulder lightly.
The perfectly good bike had belonged to him for years, he'd received it from a garage sale that came from another garage sale. The chain was rusting and would soon give out along with the brakes that were long worn down to the point of snapping. It wasn't exactly safe, but it was his and he enjoyed riding it, even if he couldn't brake and risked flying off each time he rode it.
They sat down on their blanket and unpacked their lunch, Roger hadn't stopped talking about how he was excited for his date since they sat down but as soon as Brian's expression dropped at the sight of moldy bread, he paused his rant in concern as well.
"What's wrong, babe?" Roger worried, putting his hand out on his thigh.
"The bread's gone moldy!"
Roger looked and it had indeed gone moldy. Instead of being upset such as Brian, he laughed and took the bag to examine it further. Every slice was covered in a thick layer of green and grey mold, and the more he saw, the more he giggled which Brian wasn't getting at all. He should be just as upset, he just ruined the picnic they'd planned for nearly two weeks!
"What's so funny?" Brian asked, furrowing his brow which only made Roger laugh harder.
"You brought moldy bread and you're all cross?" Roger grabbed a block of cheese they'd brought for the bread and unwrapped it then took a bite out of the block while Brian watched with wide eyes. "I like cheese just as well, who needs bread?"
"You're mad, Rog. Absolutely mad."
They took turns eating the cheese block, using the knife to cut off chunks and pouring wine glass after wine glass to help wash it down. Though Brian thought he'd ruined the evening by bringing more than rotten bread, Roger made the situation better by improvising in his usual cheerful manner just as he always did. That was something Roger was good at; fixing a no good situation with his care-free attitude and loveliness.
They slept in Roger's car that night as they were both a bit drunk, especially the blonde who was hiccuping and donning crimson red cheeks while slurring his words generously. Being intoxicated only brought out his bubbly personality more and he found everything to be amusing. Since Brian was also reasonably drunk from drinking just as much wine as his boyfriend, he came out of his shell and matched his lover's excitement and for the rest of the night, they sat together giggling about everything coming across their minds.
How did he go from bubbly and giggling to sitting in a bed covered in scars, recovering from jumping off of a bridge? At what moment did the cheerful light behind his eyes fade and become replaced by the hollow emptiness? From what point did his life get so low that he felt the only way he would feel like he would ever be okay again was to take his own life?
It dizzied Brian to even believe this was happening, but there is a hospital a few meters from his hotel room where Roger Taylor, his ex-boyfriend, is recovering from jumping from a bridge.