Though James was well aware that something was terribly wrong with his best friend, he couldn't quite pin down what it exactly was. After nearly a decade of friendship, James well well-versed in Sirius' abruptly changing moods. He had witnessed both extreme highs, where Sirius had teetered on the verge of near-mania, and extreme lows, where his friend couldn't even drag himself out of bed because he just couldn’t. Worse still had been the rapid mood swings; one minute he would be joking with his friends, smiling easy, the next he would be lashing out at someone, overcome with anger. Over the years he had dabbled in nearly every form of self-destructive behavior one could imagine: there had been a stint of inpatient hospitalization after he'd starved himself down to six stone during sixth form; countless therapy sessions after he and Remus had walked in on Sirius slashing his arms up with a razor blade during fourth form; years and years of sporadic drug abuse, particularly cocaine, which in James' opinion, exacerbated the effects of Sirius' manic states. There was no doubt in his mind that Sirius had a drinking problem. After all, he had been the one who had gotten all of them drunk for the first time, at the tender age of twelve. Far too many times he had stumbled out of a party for a breath of fresh air, only to watch Sirius speeding off into the night on his motorbike, already half in the bag. That was one of his favorite things, James decided. Riding his bike. Sirius loved his bike, and he loved to go fast. Sirius also liked sex. Boys, girls, straight, queer, bi, Sirius was indiscriminate when it came to lovers, and he went through them like Kleenex.
He eyed his cell phone carefully, reading and rereading the text he had just received from his mother: SB just admitted to ER.
He sighed, shoving his phone back into his pocket. What could it be this time? The last time Sirius had ended up in the ER, it had been a suicide attempt, having slashed his wrists to prove a point to a former lover who had broken up with him.
Mrs. Potter, a respected trauma nurse at the hospital, had neatly handled the incident, sparing him the 72 hour mandatory hold on suicidal persons.
The time before that, Sirius had crashed his bike, driving drunk on the highway. His mother had sobbed in the waiting room, but had calmly collected herself before visiting Sirius at his bedside, assuring him that he was okay and that they were taking him home.
He'd asked Sirius countless times why he did the things he did, but had yet to receive an actual answer. Every time, he had just shrugged, staring down at the ground, muttering an I don’t know, or something along those lines.
Sighing, James retrieved his phone, opening a group chat used solely to discuss Sirius' frequent ‘accidents’. With a heavy heart he began typing away, blinking back tears as he pressed send. He’s in the ER. Again.
Lily Evans sighed as she heard her phone buzz. She read the text, tossing her phone into her bag and grabbing her keys off the kitchen table.
While James could not pin down what exactly was Sirius' problem, Lily was well aware. As someone who had spent most of her teen years in therapy, she easily recognized Sirius' erratic self-destructive behavior as a textbook example of borderline personality disorder. As young teens, she and Sirius had attended the same group therapy sessions. Though he had been in attendance at the time for depression, following a suicide attempt, Lily had recognized the symptoms even then; the erratic, impulsive behavior. The feeling of only highs and lows, with absolutely no gray area between the two. The desperate need to feel something, anything to escape the feeling of nothingness. She deeply frowned upon Sirius' wanton attitude towards his sex life. He had countless partners, and she was quite certain that he didn't use protection. That would take away from the rush, she thought, rolling her eyes. She felt sad for him, watching him desperately use his body to fill some sort of void within him. Though admittedly, she felt worse for Remus, for having to watch him do it.
It had happened gradually, really. One day Sirius was just a schoolmate of Remus', the next he was a chum, then they were best mates, and before he knew it Remus was head over heels in love with him. He didn't like what Sirius did, jumping from mate to mate, but he quietly accepted it, as he did with all of Sirius’ reckless behavior; because he loved him and didn't dare speak his objections, lest he reveal his true feelings and risk losing Sirius’ friendship. He sighed, reading James' text. "I don't even want to know what he did this time," he muttered, replying to the text with a request to be picked up. It had become a ritual of sorts for the three of them; Sirius wound up in the hospital and they would rally around him to pick up the pieces. They never went to see him alone, though. They always went as a group. Truthfully, Remus thought it was because none of them could hold up the charade of pretending everything was fine if left alone with him. He sighed, deciding to wait outside for Lily to pick him up. He lit a cigarette, sighing heavily as he lowered himself onto his front steps. Smoking, he thought wryly, taking a deep drag. Another filthy habit picked up from Sirius. He stared out at the setting sun, wondering what Sirius had done to himself this time. Please don't let him have tried to kill himself again, he thought silently. Four months ago, when they'd learned that he'd slashed his wrists over a former lover, Remus had barely managed to keep his composure while in the room with him. He had managed to keep it together until he and Lily had gotten into her car, where she mercifully allowed him to sob in peace as she drove him home. Remus had cried for three days afterwards, sick at the thought of Sirius doing that to himself. He's been looking a bit on the thin side lately, he thought, forcing himself to block out the thought of another suicide attempt. That could be one of two things; he's decided to go through another bout of starving himself, or he's been doing too much coke. Remus had never though of Sirius as a drug addict; he stopped and started sporadically, usually losing interest after a few months, ready to chase the next high. However, he was well aware that Sirius had a problem with control. If he was going to do something, anything, it was all or nothing. There was no medium ground in Sirius’ chaotic world. Sirius also liked pills. He had been prescribed xanax since he was thirteen, but did not take it as prescribed. During their boarding school days, he had witnessed many an afternoon where Sirius would snort three or four bars and proceed to sink into a hot bath, listening to depressing music. Remus had developed a keen sense of hearing, knowing at exactly what point he needed to rush in and pull Sirius out of the tub because the Postal Service's track This Place is a Prison "makes me want to drown myself, Moony" and god knows he couldn't leave Sirius to his own devices when he was zanned out of his mind.
James, Lily, and Remus huddled together in front of the nurse’s triage, patiently waiting for Mrs. Potter. The trio exchanged sad looks, remaining silent. James frowned, glancing at his watch. How many times have we stood in this very spot, waiting for news about him? He chewed his lower lip nervously, running his fingers through his messy black hair. How many more times are we going to find ourselves in this position? The very thought turned James’ stomach.
At last, Mrs. Potter approached them, her lips tightly pursed together. “How is he?” James asked, wringing his hands nervously.
“He’ll be out for a while, but he should be fine.”
“What was it this time?” Remus asked softly, his voice barely above a whisper.
“Xanax and vodka. He passed out in the shower, hit his head pretty hard so he has a concussion. They’ll want to keep him in for observation for a few days. And for a psych eval,” she noted calmly, her voice not matching the worry glimmering in her eyes.
“He didn’t... you know, do you think?” James asked, eyeing his mother carefully.
“No... I don’t think he did it on purpose.”
Sirius stared ahead at the blindingly white wall, listening to the soothing sound of machines whirring around him. He had a throbbing headache. The last thing he remembered, he had been at Dave’s, or was it Mark’s? They'd been day drinking, laying out by the pool. They'd swam some, and had gone inside to escape the summer heat. He remembered discussing xanax, and the appeal of zan sex. He remembered crushing a handful of pills on the kitchen table, snorting line after line of the white powder. He sniffed slightly, grinning victoriously. There were still remnants of it in his nasal cavity. He remembered making out with Dave or Mark, hastily ripping off clothes and stumbling up the stairs, towards his bedroom. Then his memory went black until he remembered standing in the shower, his eyes firmly focused on the tile floor until everything went black.
“Sirius,” Mrs. Potter sighed, shaking her head sadly. “What are we going to do with you, love?”
Sirius glanced up at her, perplexed. How long has she been in here? “I'm so tired,” he complained, staring down at the IV attached to his left hand. “Can't you give me something to help me sleep? “he asked pleadingly.
“You have a concussion, dear. And enough xanax in your system to have put someone out for an entire week. It's already in your system so you're just going to have to wait it out.”
“How long was I out for?” he asked, frowning.
“You were brought in around six, and it's past one, now.”
Sirius frowned, staring down at his hands. Fuck. I just want to go home.
“How much did you take, Sirius?”
“Dunno,” he retorted, shrugging.
“The doctors pumped your stomach, Sirius. You know drinking on an empty stomach is a terrible idea. And mixing benzodiazepines with it...” she clicked her tongue disapprovingly.
“I thought I was good,” Sirius said quietly, shrugging. “It was an accident this time, Mrs. Potter. I swear.”
He thought back to the last time he'd overdosed on xanax. He'd been feeling terribly low, having been kicked out if his parents home for the final time. He'd taken a handful of xanax, and snorted some more. He'd woken up three days later in the hospital, surrounded by the Potters, Remus, and Lily, a tube shoved down his throat.
“I'm worried about you, dear. You're not taking care of yourself... Charles and I think it might be good for you to see someone.”
“Therapy is bullshit,” he argued, arms crossed.
“That may be so, but I can't sit idly by and watch you do this to yourself, Sirius. You're hurting yourself and I really don't know how much more abuse your body can take.”
“It was just a stupid mistake, really-”
“I'm not just talking about this incident, dear. I know you've been struggling with... other things.”
Sirius stared, still too doped up from the xanax to particularly care what she was aware of.
“I know you've been vomiting after meals, Sirius. I'm a nurse, remember. I'm aware of the signs of bulimia and-”
“I'm not bulimic,” Sirius interrupted, frowning. “Bulimia is for losers.”
“I know that you have struggled with your eating in the past, Sirius. Call it whatever you wish, but purging isn't healthy.”
“Is James here?” Sirius asked, anxious for this conversation to be over. He was none too pleased with the sudden onset of concern from Mrs. Potter. Though she had always been something of a mother to him, she had always kept a respectful distance in these matters, letting Sirius work through his things in his own way.
“The doctor wants to speak with you. After he’s done, I’ll bring James in. Okay?”
Sirius shrugged in response, slumping back down into the pillows. Why do I keep ending up here? What the fuck is wrong with me that I can’t get it together?