The music beat in the background, the base thumping David’s heart into an irregular rhythm as he made his way through throngs of party goers to the last place Jack had sat. He pushed up his sleeves to his elbows as he muttered apologizes for bumping into people. It was already October, perfectly good weather for long sleeves but the mass of moving bodies made David sweat in his sweater and jeans. He found Jack, a red solo cup in his hand, in the middle of another story.
“…so anyway I told her there’s no way I’m finishing the paper!” Everyone in the group of people laughed and other topics began to spring up as David sidled up next to Jack. Jack spared him a passing glance and a smile before jumping into another conversation. This is how it was sometimes, David, always willing but quietly reluctant to go to parties, and Jack, the people person who made loud jokes and basked in the rays of his hilarity. It’s not that David didn’t like parties, he did, but as the number of people and the volume of the music rose, David’s enjoyment began to drain. Another topic ended and as the lull between conversations pulled out, David tapped on Jack’s shoulder. Jack turned, the ghost of a smile still playing on his lips as he looked up at the curly haired boy.
“Yeah Davey?” He asked, a little louder than necessary, the beat of the music dancing in his eyes. David smiled softy and pointed over his shoulder.
“Do you want to go sometime soon?” He asked, hoping he wasn’t being too much of a downer but he knew he couldn’t stand this party with its loud music and shouting college students for much longer. Jack nodded absent-mindedly, his attention already returning to the group of people in front of him.
“Sure thing, we’ll leave after this game,” he called, grabbing David by the back of the neck and kissing his cheek with more force than usual, leaving a distinct smell of alcohol that pinched David’s nose. The group Jack was with had started a game of beer pong and were passing judgement on who should be on what team. David grimaced slightly, wiping the traces of booze off of his cheek. He had had a sip of Jack’s drink at the beginning of the night but still wasn’t used to the sharp burn it left in the back of his mouth and he still wasn’t sure he liked it.
They hadn’t been in college long, only a couple of months, but Jack acclimated to the social aspect amazingly quickly, leaving David to occasionally contribute to the academic front for the both of them. It’s not that he minded, but he had managed to get into New York University, and the course work for his politics major was heavier than he had originally imagined. He thought of the paper he had to finish tomorrow, the first paragraph beginning to write itself in his head, but the shout of Jack’s victory in the game broke his concentration. He sighed and looked around for his sister Sarah. She was a year ahead of him at NYU and if she was here David wouldn’t have to drive all the way back from Jack’s dorm. He didn’t have a car and didn’t want to take Jack’s rust bucket that terrified him every time he sat in the tattered seat.
By the time David got any information on Sarah’s whereabouts, it was obvious she had already left. He went back over to Jack, disappointed his venture was fruitless and getting more and more tired of this party by the minute. Jack took a sip from his drink-or was that a new drink? David didn’t know but he thought that was only Jack’s second, not too much to do damage, but enough to make Jack rosy cheeked and smiling. David slipped the cup from Jack’s hand and put it on a table behind him, figuring the lack of alcohol would get Jack out of the dorm complex faster. Jack looked up from his seat expectantly, his hand still in the air, waiting to see why David had stripped him of his cup. David laced his fingers in Jack’s outstretched hand and pushed up his sleeve with the other arm.
“Let’s go, I’ve got an early class,” he told Jack, yelling over the music. His patience with this party was completely shot now. Jack rolled his eyes for the effect of the on-lookers and stood, tugging on David’s hand.
“Whatever you say Davey,” he muttered, throwing a smile to the guys now behind him. They said their goodbyes and David sighed when they finally got out the door. The cool night air felt good after being stuck inside that horrid dorm for so long. He smelled like alcohol even though he hadn’t had even a full cup and it bothered him. They stopped on the edge of the curb, still hand in hand and David looked up at Jack. He showed no sign of being truly intoxicated as he fished his car keys out of his pocket. Jack hadn’t wanted to leave yet but he knew David would be mad if he overslept tomorrow. Jack didn’t have class in the morning. He looked to David.
“Hey, uh the subway is probably quicker,” he said. David shot him a look, irritation burning in his blue eyes.
“Do you really want to stay that badly?” He asked. David hadn’t lived in the city that long and still didn’t like riding the subways alone at night. Jack shook his head, waving his hand in the air between them.
“Forget about it, let’s go.”
“How much did you have to drink?” David asked, eyeing Jack’s keys warily. Jack shrugged off his concerns, putting his arm around David’s shoulders and steering him near the car.
“Not that much, Davey, two half cups maybe? Hardly anything.” He said shortly. He didn’t want to deal with David’s worry-wort tendencies. David protested one more time but was ultimately shot down by Jack’s annoyed reassurances. Jack turned the key in his dark blue car and pulled open the door with a sigh, ignoring David’s offer to drive.
“I’m fine Dave, really, don’t worry.” He called again, leaning across the seat and throwing open the passenger side door with a loud creak. David shook his head, almost more worried about Jack’s car making it all the way back to campus than Jack himself. He sat down heavily, trying to ignore the second shudder the car made when he did so. He crossed his arms, this time pulling his sleeves down over his wrists, wishing he had his own car or that Sarah had been at the party longer. He didn’t want to ride back with Jack, he knew he had annoyed him by wanting to leave early. The silence stretched out between them as the car’s engine attempted to roll over and come to life. He almost threw the door back open and offered to take the subway, but once he got up the nerve the car roared to life.
Jack pulled out of the space and on to the highway a little faster than David was comfortable with. David bit his lip, wrestling with himself on whether or not to apologize and just tell Jack to turn around. He could stay at campus tonight and miss his first class. It was only Latin…but then again, he couldn’t miss Latin.
“Jack, are you sure you’re okay? We can go back?” He offered, ignoring the part of his brain that was yelling at him about conjugations and verb tenses that he would miss. Jack shook his head, and David sighed, pressing his short curls against the back of the head rest. He had managed to make him angry.
“I don’t understand why you don’t like parties,” Jack started, muttering it under his breath with a shrug and an eyebrow raise for good measure. David looked out the window, wishing Jack’s stereo worked so there would be something else to focus on.
“It’s just not my thing, okay? I can’t handle that many people all the time.” He said, still facing away from Jack and unable to see the fed up gesture Jack made.
“Do you really just think that you’re that much better than us? Than me? You’re not better just because you’ve got smarts Dave.” Jack said, his voice rising a little more.
“Better than you? That’s what you think of me? That I’m some snob that went to good schools and had privilege?” David called, looking back at Jack incredulously, his blue eyes burning. He hated it when people thought he was some rich kid. He worked for what he got and even he didn’t like it sometimes. All this because he didn’t want to be around a bunch of drunks.
“If you’re not, then why don’t you like going? It’s fun and you’re such a downer all the time!” Jack said, causing David to turn and face the window again. He didn’t want to be having this argument. Not now. He hated fighting with Jack.
“Fine Jack, if I’m such a downer than you can just start going by yourself.” He called, his tone harsh and cold as he continued to look out the window. His gaze was far out into the black night, the lights of the city slowly approaching. What he didn’t see was Jack taking his eyes off of the road to glance at David.
David didn’t feel a thing. But that tends to be the way of it.
The hospital lights were blinding and everything smelled wrong, Jack would never get it out of his nose. The moment they had released him from the ER he ran, determined to take a deep breath and be able to see things more clearly. He rubbed at the bandages around his elbow. A scrape. That is what Jack had gotten from the crash. A measly scrape that by all predictions, wouldn’t even leave a scar. He knew David had fared worse. Much worse, and yet he had to take several deep breaths before he could turn around and go find him. He didn’t really want to find David. He didn’t want to see what had happened to him. The doctors wouldn’t tell him anything, said Jack was in shock. It’s not like he remembered everything from the crash. A flash of headlights, a sickening crunch, and a voice yell out into the darkness. He wasn’t sure if it had been himself or Davey. Maybe he was in shock.
He turned, staring at the hospital’s shiny sliding doors, dreading the smell that would enter his nose as he walked back in. But he knew he had to. He’d let down Davey enough tonight. He pulled on the collar of his shirt as he walked back inside, his footsteps loud on the linoleum.
Jack put his hands on the counter, picking at the plastic on the edge.
“I, uh, I’m looking for David Jacobs, he was taken here after…” Jack swallowed.
“…a car cash,” he finished, not meeting the woman’s eyes. The woman’s eyebrows furrowed, and she glanced up at Jack’s tired face.
“Of course, just a second,” she muttered and typed something into the computer. She excused herself hurriedly.
“I’ll be right back I just have to grab a doctor.” Jack paced. That’s all he felt he could do right now. He paced and scratched at his bandage, making the cuts underneath it burn. Finally the woman returned and Jack ran back to the desk. She tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear and smiled tentatively.
“I’m sorry, he’s in surgery right now, you’ll be able to see him if he’s doing well in about three hours.” She told him, a smile permanently stuck on her tired features.
Three hours. Surgery. He sat down hard, only partially aware he had made it to a chair. David was in surgery, he could die. Jack buried his face in his hands, he couldn’t breathe. He could have killed David. David could still die tonight. Davey! His Davey, who laughed at Jack’s bravado and always came around first after an argument. His blue eyes flashed in Jack’s mind. He couldn’t breathe. Jack sat up, hand raking through his hair, trying to force air into his lungs. The woman at the desk watched him closely but Jack didn’t care that he was making a scene, he was losing it.
Just then the glass doors slid open again and a young girl ran in, a lumpy sweater hiding most of her body and her brown hair tied back in a messy bun. Jack hardly noticed her until she spoke David’s name to the woman at the desk. It was Sarah. Sarah Jacobs was almost always immaculately put together, she prided herself on it, but tonight she looked like Hell as she turned towards Jack. Her eyes flashed as she took in his sunken figure.
“You.” She called, crossing the room to stand in front of him. Her eyes were hard but ringed red from crying, wisps of hair falling into her face. Jack looked up at her, still shaken from his own near panic attack.
“I get a call in the middle of the night and all they say is ‘Your brother is injured’! They throw around phrases like ‘car crash’, ‘possible brain damage’, and ‘drunk driver’! I should have known! I should have known, Jack Kelly, that it was you!” She pointed a finger into his chest as tears began to stream down her face. She looked half crazed, standing there in front of Jack, who had shrunk down in his seat during her tirade. When no response came from Jack, she shook her head and sat down next to him.
“Do you even care about him? Do you care about any of us?” She murmured, staring ahead down the long corridor where doctors were rushing around. Jack didn’t know what to say. He knew that anything that came out of his mouth wouldn’t be good enough. It looked like he didn’t care. Before he started dating Davey, Jack had dated Sarah. It had only been for a while, but it had happened. Jack’s interest in her came and went like a summer breeze, and he doubted Sarah had ever gotten over how he treated her. And now this.
He didn’t know how to tell Sarah that he loved her brother. Jack didn’t know how to say the words that had been trapped in his head all night. He couldn’t imagine a waking moment without David in this world, let alone the rest of his life. He didn’t want to know what it was like to wake up on a day where David Jacobs no longer existed. He was so scared earlier, when David said that last sentence:
“Fine Jack, if I’m such a downer than you can just start going by yourself.”
He thought David was going to break up with him. He thought he was going to lose him. And now it looked like he still might.
He hadn’t realized it while lost in his own head, but Jack had begun to cry. Sarah and Jack sat there, the quiet pair in a bustling hospital. Sarah took notice of Jack’s tears and wondered quietly if he did care, even a little. A half hour passed in silence. Sarah and Jack had both stopped crying but the tears came back at odd intervals like they tend to in tragedy.
“I love him, Sarah,” Jack finally whispered the phrase that had been pounding in his head like a drum.
I love him, I love him, I love him
Sarah looked over at Jack, slumped against the wall; the chair he was in totally engulfing his lengthy frame. She bit her lip, it wasn’t like she was pinning over Jack. She got over the heartbreak quickly, but never felt that he was a sincere person. And felt especially that he was not good for David.
“I didn’t think you were capable of love,” she hissed back, wondering why that had chosen to come out of her tired lips. Jack glanced up at her quickly, the first time he had met her eyes all night. He nodded his head back down, a quiet acknowledgement of that.
“I could never tell Davey, maybe I’m not,” Jack murmured. Sarah wasn’t surprised Jack had never told David. Jack was always flirting or in a relationship, sometimes flirting with others while in a relationship. But still he was never one for deep emotion. The hours slowly slipped by as they watched doctors and nurses come and go, the lobby emptying out slowly as dawn approached. Three hours had passed, like the woman at the counter said, but still no word. It made Jack even more nervous and Sarah had almost worn a hole through her sleeve from worrying.
Sarah had mentioned going to get food about an hour ago but she never got up, and Jack hadn’t moved at all either, until he announced he was going to the restroom. As he pushed himself out of his seat another doctor rounded the corner, but this one stopped in front of them.
“Sarah Jacobs?” He asked, looking at Sarah curled up in the chair. She jumped up fast and reached out to shake the tall man’s hand.
“Yes, that’s me. How is he?” She asked hurriedly, her brown eyes searching for any sign that something had gone wrong. The Doctor glanced over to Jack once but then looked back at Sarah.
“He’s stable for the time being. As you know, he had to have surgery to correctly set his elbow and a decompressive craniectomy to reduce the swelling in his skull…” Jack felt like he was going to be sick. He grasped the corner of the wall to keep from falling to the floor.
“…His left elbow and foot were both broken, but those should both make an easy recovery. At this point in time, no back injury is present but sometimes that can show itself within the next 48 hours. He has suffered minor whiplash. This will need to be monitored to make sure it hasn’t caused anything more severe. The worst injury David sustained was the blow to the head. This is the most cause for concern.” The doctor hadn’t finished when Sarah’s hand went over her mouth in shock. Jack played the accident over again in his head. He imagined breaking David’s elbow. He almost gagged from the guilt, bile rising up the back of his throat from the images playing through his head.
“He’s very lucky to be alive. He’s asleep right now, and even though his condition is stable, it is still serious. Are you the only next of kin coming?” Sarah shook her head. She pulled herself together enough to answer the question.
“The rest of our family will be here soon. They were out of town.” She muttered, feeling like she couldn’t wait to see her mother. Jack kept running his hand through his hair, as if trying to clear his head. He had to sit down or his legs might give out. How could he have done that to Davey? He wanted to stay longer at a party, so he had almost killed him. Could still kill him, if that brain thing got worse. Jack looked at Sarah, who was crying now, trying and failing to keep it together in front of the doctor.
“He’s sleeping, but you can see him now if you like.” He said to Sarah, who nodded immediately as a whole new round of tears streamed down her cheeks. Jack began to follow Sarah down the hall but the doctor stopped him.
“Are you family?” He asked seriously. Jack’s heart fell. Who knew how long it would be before he was allowed in. Allowed to see him and apologize.
“Yes, he’s family.” Sarah spoke up, locking eyes with Jack. It was still unbearable, to think what Jack had done to her brother. But he had been with them through a lot and Jack’s red puffy eyes were too much for her to take. Jack nodded at Sarah, promising himself to thank her properly later.
David looked small in the hospital bed. It seemed like every part of David was covered in something, sheets, bandages and tubes. Jack was afraid to go too close, lest he accidentally disturb something and cause David that much more pain. Sarah didn’t have that fear and immediately went to his bedside, gently taking his pale hand in hers.
“Oh David…you’re so strong and brave…” Sarah talked to David as if he could hear her, and maybe he could, Jack didn’t know. All Jack could seem to do was stand at the foot of the bed and witness the destruction he had caused. He’d only hit a telephone pole. He missed the other car completely. How could an inanimate object create this much pain? But Jack knew it wasn’t the pole who caused it, it was Jack. Sarah murmured words of encouragement and comfort while deftly rearranging David’s sheets and petting his arm. Jack watched from afar. Sarah could be hard and occasionally rather cold, but when it came to her family, and especially David, Sarah was sweet.
The longer Jack stood there, the more panicked he felt. David was pale and most of his head was wrapped in bandages. He didn’t even look like himself. Everything beeped and there were tubes connected to David’s nose and arms and you could see clear liquid going in one. It all caused Jack to feel a rising sense of dread. He was never squeamish but this sight made his breath come quick and panicky, tears springing from the edge of his eyes. Sarah looked over, her eyebrows furrowed as it was clear Jack was having a panic attack.
“Jack, are you okay?” She asked quickly, giving David’s hand a gentle squeeze. Jack didn’t answer but instead raked a hand through his messy hair and began to pace the room.
“David, God, David I’m so sorry,” Jack choked out, grasping the foot of the bedframe and bending over as if trying to catch his breath. Jack tended to keep his emotions bottled up but he had never felt this way before. He didn’t know what to do. He simultaneously wanted to run away and never leave Davey’s side again.
Sarah got up from her seat and put a gentle hand on Jack’s shoulder. He sucked in a deep breath and looked sideways at her. How could she look so calm right now? She rubbed a little circle on his back, her eyes betraying her unwillingness to do something so kind for him. She watched Jack crumbling under the weight of his guilt and despite her best intentions to be cold, and unwilling to forgive, she felt bad.
“Do you want to talk to him alone?” She asked, watching Jack wipe at his eyes furiously, as if that would make Sarah unsee the tears. He took another deep breath and tried to right himself, failing miserably as he nodded. Sarah stepped outside the door and leaned against the opposite wall, making it clear she wouldn’t be going far.
Jack slumped in the chair by David’s bed. He still couldn’t breathe right and his nose was running from the crying. He very gently hovered his hand over Davey’s. He should hold his hand. Sarah had. Sarah had seemed so easy around him. He looked so much more breakable now.
“David. Davey, I don’t know if you can hear me…” He started, another round of useless tears springing to his eyes. He shook his head.
“God, David, I’m a mess. If you could see me right now, I think it would scare you. I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t know I’d hurt you.” Jack finally took David’s hand. It was warm and soft, as if none of this mess had touched it. It was the only thing familiar about David at this point.
“You don’t deserve this. I should have been the one who got hurt, I only got a scratch Davey, can’t we just trade places?” Jack paused a moment, rubbing at his bandages, not because they particularly itched but the burn made it feel more real, like he didn’t get out completely unscathed.
“I’d wanted that before David, to trade places with you. I always thought you were so smart and everything came so easily to you. You’re so smart, and kind. You just want to help everyone all the time. And all I do is hurt people.” Jack’s breathing picked up again, his feet itching with the want to run away. That’s what Jack did. He always ran away. It was easy to run. He wanted to run.
“You were always the best part of my life David. And I’ve always been the worst part of yours.”
Just then Mayer and Esther Jacobs arrived in a flurry of activity followed closely by wide-eyed Les, looking both sleep-deprived and pale. Jack stepped back, letting the family have their moment with David. Only Les looked at him. He wasn’t much older than when they first met, Les had always idolized Jack. He thought the life he lived was amazing and free and everything he wanted. But it was obvious someone had told Les that David was in here because of Jack. The way he looked at him made Jack crumble even more.
I did that to David, and he may never be the same way again because of it.
He sat in a hard chair in the corner, watching the Jacobs cry and fuss over their son. He saw Esther glance at him every once in a while, as if he was no longer the boy that came for dinner, but a monster who had put her baby in the hospital. And wasn’t he?
Everything was that much harder to keep together around the Jacobs. He was panicky and it felt like his heart was about to leap out of his chest. He didn’t know what to do. He wanted to run away. It would be completely immature to run away, but he was immature. He reached in his pocket and unlocked his phone for the first time that night. The last message was to David. He had told him he was on his way to pick him up for the party.
dress appropriately ;) –Jack
What does that even mean? –David
Jack had been messing around. Jack was always messing around. He opened the internet quickly and typed a random city in the search bar. A list of flights popped up immediately. He clicked his phone shut without choosing any of the links. He thought about school. Should someone call David’s university? To tell them he wouldn’t be in class for… awhile? The panicky feeling came back. Even though David lay there peacefully, everything could still change. His brain could swell. Jack didn’t know exactly what that meant but from the doctor’s serious tone he could tell it was life changing. What if he had a brain injury? What if he couldn’t go to college anymore and Jack had just ruined his entire life. Was he better off dead?
Jack shook his head. He needed to stop thinking about things like that. He unlocked his phone again and gazed at the list of flights. He tapped his foot impatiently as if it was daring him to run. He closed it again and looked up to see Sarah staring at him from across the room. Her hair was down now and fell around her shoulders gracefully. When Jack looked at her, she didn’t break eye contact. Jack looked away first, it was like she knew what he was thinking of doing.
For the next hour the Jacobs milled about the room, taking turns sitting at David’s bedside and whispering to him. While this was happening Jack sat in the corner of the room and stewed. He had to wait out the Jacobs. He had to talk to David alone, even if it took all night. At this point it was already around five in the morning. Jack was running on hardly any sleep and that didn’t help his mental state. Finally Esther announced they should probably find some breakfast for Les. They left the room without sparing a glance for Jack. All but Sarah, who glared at Jack as she stalked out of the room. He ducked his head quickly.
Jack yawned despite himself and moved to the chair next to David’s bed. He never thought he would feel calm again. Even sleep deprived he felt jittery. He took David’s hand, a little easier this time, maybe in light of what he was about to say.
“Davey, I’ll never forgive myself for doing this to you. There won’t be a day in my life where I won’t think of you lyin’ here looking so weak. It’s not a good look on you Dave.” He tried to chuckle but didn’t have the heart to laugh at his own joke. David would be rolling his eyes right now. His chuckle died in his throat as a choke.
“I don’t think I’m any good for you Dave. I don’t think, maybe, that I’m good for anyone. I’m gonna go out West. Like I always said I would? Well, I’m just going to do it. You don’t need me here, in fact your life is better without me here to mess it up. What if something happens Davey? What if your brain doesn’t work anymore? I’d mess up your life and you’d never forgive me. Maybe if I leave, you’ll get that amnesia and never know who I was. It would be better for everyone that way.” Jack wiped his eyes, trying to get the words out of his mouth quickly, he didn’t think he’d go at all if he stayed here much longer. He stood slowly and leaned over David, kissing his cheek gently, wondering maybe, on some level, if he could feel it and know that Jack was sorry.
“I love you Davey. You’re safer without me here, but God, I love you.” Jack turned on his heel and rushed out of the hospital room without taking a second look. He knew if he did, he wouldn’t be able to leave.
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(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The wind blew in front of the hospital as the early rays of morning reflected on the glass windows and made Jack shade his eyes. He stood on the curb watching cars and ambulances race by. It occurred to him he didn’t even know what hospital they had been taken to. He turned and looked around for landmarks but the tall city buildings all looked similar and he couldn’t find a street sign. He pulled out his wallet, digging around for his subway pass at the very least he could get back to his dorm that way. He stopped when he pulled out a little plastic key card. He flipped it around in his hand and saw David’s neat scrawl of handwriting across it.
“Room 252, second floor, Palladium Hall”
David had given him the little card at the start of the semester and told Jack to stop by when he had the time, however they spent most of their time together in Jack’s dorm. NYU’s regality intimidated Jack a little bit, not that he would ever let on. He flicked his nail across the little card, hearing the plastic echo in the clear morning. Before he knew what he was doing, he sprinted down the stairs to the subway and caught the first one downtown to NYU.
Jack would blame it on the sleep deprivation later. In fact, he would blame a lot of things on sleep deprivation.
Finding David’s dorm wasn’t really a problem, he had been there before and he knew his roommates by name if nothing else. Jack knocked on the door but no one answered. As he inserted the key and pushed inside, he reminded himself they were probably all in class. He walked into the room David shared and even if he hadn’t been familiar with it, it would have been easy to distinguish David’s neat style. He walked over to his desk, seeing his handwriting on different papers in neat piles, flipping over the assignment he had been working on last. Jack didn’t want to know if that assignment would ever be finished.
On the wall behind his desk was a row of pictures. A lot of them were David with Sarah and Les, on vacation in various places. He had an older one of his parents when they were much younger, and a few group shots of him and his friends during senior year. The last one was a candid shot of Jack. It was from a couple of weeks ago in the field behind Jack’s dorm. Their group of friends had been decorating their dorms for Halloween and had all ended up outside, playing in the leaves, tossing them at each other and jumping in big piles. Jack’s face was rosy with color in the crisp autumn air. It was a good picture and David had snapped it without Jack’s knowledge.
Jack fingered the corner of the picture and was tempted to take it off the wall. He figured David would take it down soon enough but he couldn’t get up the nerve to strip the photo from its bindings. He leaned over, bracing himself on the desk chair, the feeling of dread crawling back up his throat when he noticed a gray, balled up t-shirt on the seat. Jack picked it up.
It was David’s favorite shirt, plain gray and otherwise completely ordinary. Jack moved it around in his hands, it was soft from years’ worth of repetitive wear. His eyes darted around quickly, afraid someone would enter and see what he was about to do. Reassured that no one was there, he leaned his head down and buried his nose in the thin fabric. Tears sprang to his eyes again; it smelled like Davey. Before he had time to think, he walked out of David’s room, the shirt still clutched tight in his hands.
He needed something to remember him by after all.
By ten o’clock in the morning, Jack had made it back to his dorm, thrown various things in a duffle bag, Davey’s shirt on top, and was standing outside his hall. He looked around the bustling streets and wasn’t exactly sure what to do. He still felt so torn. He thought, once he got going, he would feel better. But Jack was packed and ready to get on a plane to god knows where, and still felt awful. Maybe he’d never get over what he did to Dave. He shook his head and hailed a cab.
“JFK please, and quick.”
Jack wasn’t thinking straight. That much was obvious. Why had he chosen JFK? He wasn’t flying out of the country. He hadn’t slept in 24 hours and yesterday’s events felt like a horrible horrible dream he had yet to wake up from. He paid the taxi driver the rest of his cash and walked into the airport. Everything was huge. White and clean and absolutely massive, all glass and stainless steel. Jack hadn’t been in an airport before, he never had a reason to go anywhere. He stood there, in the center, watching everyone buzz around him, they all looked so purposeful, like they had places to be. Did Jack have anywhere to be?
Finally he went over to an electronic screen that showed arrivals and departures. He looked for cities out west. He wanted to go as far away from New York as possible. LA was too expensive. So was Las Vegas. Albuquerque, Omaha, Denver, Santa Fe. He had always watched Westerns as a child and so many of them seemed to take place in that town. How big was Santa Fe? He didn’t even think it had a subway. But maybe that’s what he needed; a fresh start in a small city.
Jack approached the counter and watched as people handed over some of their bags and kept others. None of them seemed to be buying tickets. Was he in the right place?
“Can I help you sir?” A voice in front of him broke him out of his trance. He cleared his throat and looked at the tall man in front of him. Jack stuttered and looked down at his bag and then back up.
“Uh yeah, where do I buy a ticket to Santa Fe, New Mexico?” He asked, trying to get back his usual confident demeanor. The man gave him a questioning look. Most people bought tickets online and this kid looked half shot to hell.
“I can help you over here.” He said motioning to the nearest computer. Jack nodded, pushing up his sleeves and dropping his bag at his feet by the desk.
“Just a one way? To Santa Fe?” The man asked, plugging information into the computer. Jack nodded, tapping his fingers with nervous anxiety on the smooth counter top.
"Yeah that’s right. How much is that? And when does the plane leave?” He asked pulling out his wallet and searching for a credit card he had. He hoped it wasn’t going to be too much… he still needed some money to live off of.
“It’s 357 dollars sir. And the plane will board at 1:15 P.M.” Jack sucked in his breath and looked at the clock. It wasn’t quite 11. He had plenty of time. He started to hand the man his credit card when a voice cut through the din of the airport like a knife.
Jack groaned and tossed his head back. He stuck his card back in his pocket and turned away from the counter. Sarah Jacobs stood a ways back, her arms crossed and deep shadows under her eyes which made the image even more frightening. He turned back to the man at the counter.
“Do I got time to finish this in a minute?” He asked, waving his hand at the computer. The man looked a little confused but nodded as Jack grabbed his bag and walked towards the fuming girl.
“What are you doing here, Sarah?” Jack asked, hoisting his bag up on his shoulder. Sarah’s hands were in fists, her eyes hard as she stared incredulously at him.
“Me?! You’re asking what I’m doing here? I came to find you! I’ve been to every bus station and airport in New York. What are you doing Jack?” She asked, throwing her hands out in exasperation. Jack rolled his eyes and tried to hide his discomfort.
“What does it look like I’m doing Sarah? I’m leaving. Look at me, I’m gone, I’m gettin’ out of your guys’ hair forever okay?” He told her, shrugging his shoulders and looking anywhere but into her eyes. Sarah hit him on the shoulder lightly, making him refocus his green eyes on her brown.
“What are you really doing Jack? Are you so afraid that David, the David we both know, is going to hate you? Do you know how much worse it’ll be if you leave?” She asked, trying to take his bag from his grip, but Jack wouldn’t let go.
“You don’t understand. I could have just messed up his whole life! Didn’t you hear what the doctor said? He could have something wrong with his brain! I hurt you once, now Davey…I don’t want my bad luck to spread.” He muttered the last part, tightening his grip on his bag and his nerves.
“It wasn’t bad luck that you left me Jack. It was you being stupid. And so was this. Leaving is stupid too, it would be way more stupid than anything you’ve ever done.” She started, as Jack rolled his eyes. Yeah he was stupid all right…
“Think what David is going to say when he wakes up in that hospital and you aren’t there. Do you really think he’ll stay mad forever? And what about Les? He loves you and you’re teaching him that you’re a coward…”
“Stop!” Jack cried, cutting off Sarah’s last sentence. He couldn’t take any more of her tirade
“You don’t understand, he’s not going to forgive me if I mess up his whole life and I’m not sticking around to see that happen.” He turned his back on Sarah and walked away.
“David is hurt and you’re acting like you’re the one who’s bleeding!” She called crossing her arms. Sarah knew he was making a mistake but if he was dead set on making it-
-good riddance Jack Kelly.
An hour later, Jack laid with his head resting on his bag, at the airport gate. He was told his flight would leave from gate A23 so that is where he was. He meant to stay awake, he couldn’t afford to miss his flight and he didn’t trust someone would wake him. However being up for 24 hours tends to make you a little tired. So he slept. But it wasn’t a restful sleep. Maybe it was because he was on the floor of an airport, but he couldn’t sink into the kind of sleep he needed.
He just kept seeing David.
As far as Jack knew, he was awake. He was walking through the halls of the airport. But where were the people? All he could hear was someone crying out in the distance. They sounded like they were in pain. Jack sped up his pace, maybe he could find them and help. But when he rounded the last corner, all he saw was David in the hospital bed. He stopped short. David looked even paler from afar. He inched closer but when he got next to David’s side, everything went black and he could hear the sound of screeching tires and the car crunching around him. That’s where the screaming had been coming from. It was David.
Jack awoke with a start. He looked around and caught his breath, laying his head back down and rubbing his eyes. He shot them open again instantly. The only thing he saw when he closed his lids were David’s blue eyes staring back at him.
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Sarah’s heart skipped a beat when she walked into the hospital room. There were two doctors and a couple nurses all crowded around David’s bedside, checking monitors and talking in low tones. Her mom and dad stood over in the corner.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” She asked quickly, pulling at a loose thread in her sweater in nervousness. Esther shook her head.
“I don’t think it’s anything, they’re just checking up.” She said, trying to reassure her daughter but failing to keep a slightly panicked tone out of her voice. Sarah kept thinking of Jack. What a fool he was. All he knew how to do was run away. And she knew she’d have to be the one to tell David when he awoke. She was dreading the sadness that would be in his eyes.
The doctor’s murmuring got slightly more intense and one of them, the one Sarah had met first, broke away to come talk to the Jacobs. They all straightened up as if preparing to receive bad news. The doctor smiled as he neared them.
“David is right where we think he should be. It is likely he will wake up soon.” The Jacobs released a collective breath, as if they had been holding it for far too long. The doctor put his hands up as if asking them to slow down.
“Now even though we expect him to wake up soon we don’t know what his exact condition will be. He lost a lot of blood and is still recovering from his head injury. There is bound to be a lot of confusion and even some possible memory loss.” Sarah froze. What if Jack had been right? What if something did happen and David couldn’t remember? She shook her head lightly and sighed, that wasn’t going to happen. And Jack had to get out of her head.
“Please be gentle when he first wakes up. Don’t rush him and try not to pressure him into answering anything. He’s going to have a lot of questions himself. Also please ring for a nurse as soon as he wakes up.” Mayer nodded and reassured the doctor that they would follow his instructions. All but one nurse left then, who checked a machine that was beeping softly, wrote something down, and politely closed the door behind her.
Once she was gone Sarah paced to the other side of the room and back as Esther collapsed in a chair. Esther sighed and rubbed at her eyes as Mayer walked over to join her.
“My baby, how could this happen to my baby?” She whispered softly. Sarah clenched her jaw. She knew where this conversation was going and she didn’t want to talk about Jack Kelly any more. Mayer shook his head and rubbed his wife’s back gently.
“I just can’t believe Jack would do something like this. He always seemed like such a nice boy.” Sarah rolled her eyes. Yes, Jack was a nice boy. And then he opened his mouth.
“I guess that is why they call them accidents.” Mayer answered his own statement. For about a half hour this continued. Esther and Mayer having the same conversation about how this was an accident and how Jack seemed like a nice boy. Sarah couldn’t take it anymore and plopped down in the chair stationed next to David’s bed. She took her hair down and re-braided it. Something to do she figured. As she was securing the hair tie in place she glanced once again at David. He made a small noise, no bigger than a whimper, but she froze as her parents talked on.
“David?” She whispered, inching closer, but trying not to draw attention to him yet. Her parents were sure to storm the bed, despite the doctor’s warnings. When nothing else happened she sat back in her chair. Nothing on any of the monitors looked like it had changed. She was sick of waiting. She thought about people who were in comas for a long time. It wasn’t them who were really suffering, it was their loved ones. Because that is who injury and sickness hurt the most. Having to watch the person you love suffer and feeling powerless to stop it? That’s worse than any illness.
Once again her mind traveled back to Jack against her will. Jack kept saying he loved David. Sarah chewed on her lips and she thought. Maybe he did love him. Maybe Jack just had no idea how to love somebody. She thought of the short amount of time they had dated. Jack had been in foster care when he was still in high school. She glanced over at her parents. Sometimes, they were infuriating, but she didn’t know what she would do without them.
Not long after, the family had settled into their chairs and were silent. There was nothing more to say that wasn’t just noise at this point. Suddenly the beeping increased on the monitor. It wasn’t by much, just a half a beat faster, but it made Sarah shoot her eyes open. David made a sound again. And suddenly, as if it were the easiest thing in the world, his blue eyes were open.
“David!” Sarah whispered, trying not to jump out of her chair like a mad woman and scare everyone half to death.
“Mom, Dad, he’s awake.” She tossed over her shoulder, standing slowly, unable to keep the smile off of her face. Esther and Mayer hurried to his bedside, tears already streaming down both of their faces. David looked up at them groggily. He didn’t say anything for a minute, just fluttered his eyelids open and shut, occasionally looking around at them. Finally he swallowed once, clearing his throat.
“What’s going on?” He muttered, hoarse and still blinking rapidly. Esther choked back a sob, covering her hand with her face. David looked at her, confused and concerned. Sarah took his hand, running her thumb over his softly. He glanced down at the action and then to her face. His eyes were confused and showed no sign of immediate recognition. Her heart stopped and she involuntarily squeezed his hand a little tighter. He didn’t remember, something was wrong, Jack was right. But then,
“Sarah? What’s going on?” He asked. She exhaled, tears coming to her eyes as well. She shook her head, choking back more tears in order to answer his question.
“You’re in the hospital David, but don’t worry everything is going to be fine.” She reassured him, for the first time, actually believing it herself. After she said that, David seemed to take stock of his body. He grimaced and shut his eyes tight. Mayer reached over and hit the nurse call button they had completely forgotten about.
Not a minute later a nurse came hurrying in and shooed the family aside. Possibly a little rougher than necessary. The Jacobs took turns holding David’s hand as doctors came in to take a look at him. They did tests and asked questions and David seemed uninterested. He kept closing his eyes as if he wanted to go back to sleep. Finally the last doctor left and the family closed back in.
“David, how are you feeling?” Mayer asked, a question David had already answered three times to different hospital staff. His eyes were closed again and he let out a small grunt.
“Sick. And really tired.” He opened his eyes then, looking first at his parents and then at Sarah.
“What exactly happened? I don’t remember.” He reached up with the hand without the IV and scratched at his bandaged head, wincing slightly before Sarah pulled his hand away, telling him not to touch that.
“You were in an accident love.” Esther said, petting his arm carefully. David nodded as if asking them to go on. Sarah sighed. Here it was, the conversation she was dreading. David was mostly propped up in bed now. Though he was covered in bruises and cuts, Sarah was afraid this would be worse.
“You…you were at a party with Jack, he was drunk…and he was driving you home. He said you got in a fight and he swerved off the road. Your side of the car smashed into a telephone pole.” She explained, watching David’s eyes grow wide with realization. He looked around the room quickly, moving his neck too fast and groaning after. Sarah knew what he was going to ask.
“Wait…If I’m okay, then where’s Jack? Is he hurt? Is he in a different room? Who’s with him? Is he okay?” He rapid fired these questions at Sarah, acting almost as if he were going to get out of bed and find Jack himself. Esther squeezed his hand and made cooing noises as if David were a baby bird. Sarah furrowed her eyebrows and rubbed a hand over her forehead. Here goes.
“Is right here. I’m right here.”
A voice called from the door. Sarah spun watching a half-dead Jack drop his bag on the floor and step into the room. Sarah could hardly contain the groan that threatened to escape her lips. While no one else knew what had transpired between them, explaining now might be too complicated.
“I’m right here.” He muttered again under his breath. Jack looked at David like he’d never seen anything more amazing. Jack’s eyes were red and had bags under them but he was happy. David was awake. David lit up immediately as well. Jack glanced at Sarah, seeing her cross her arms and arch an eyebrow at him. Yeah, he had some major explaining to do later. And some major apologizing as well. But all he wanted to do was look at David. However even in the hospital, David was quick.
“Why do you have a bag?” He asked, genuinely curious. He didn’t remember anything about the party or the crash. Is it possible Jack was going somewhere and he didn’t remember? A blush raised on Jack’s tan skin and he looked down at his shoes sheepishly. David waited while Jack cleared his throat a few times and looked up at Esther and Mayer.
“Do you mind if I have a minute to talk with Davey…alone?” He asked, scratching the back of his neck, still blushing. Sarah groaned and stormed out of the room. David felt like there was a lot he missed in the short time he was unconscious.
“What is it Jack?” He asked after everyone had left. He tried to pull himself up further but something beeped loudly on one of the machines he was connected to so he stopped struggling. Before Jack could get a word out David had a question.
“What did Sarah mean earlier when she said you were drunk after a party? That doesn’t sound like you.” He said, concern filling his eyes. Jack stared back incredulously. They’d been in college for a couple months now and Jack is pretty sure he went to almost every party. David knew he drank.
“What do you mean Dave?” He asked, his brows pulling together in worry.
“Well we’re only 18. That’s a little young to be drinking don’t you think?” Jack’s heart sank like a stone.
“Davey, I’m 19.” He whispered, looking at him like he’d never seen him before. Jack’s fears came back. David’s eyes were wide and scared.
“What do you mean? You’re 18, I’m 18.” David reassured, the sentence almost coming out as a question, his voice shaking at the end. Jack stood up from the chair he had sat down in and grabbed David’s hand.
“Hold on Dave, I’m gonna get your family.” He muttered as he moved to call the Jacobs back into the room.
‘My name is David Jacobs. I’m 18 years old. Sarah is 19. Les is 10. Today is…’ David couldn’t think of the date but he was sure it was a Thursday. Right? He shook his head slightly and went back to the task at hand. ‘I go to NYU with my sister. My boyfriend is Jack Kelly. Jack is 18…Jack is 18….Jack is…’ David screwed his eyes shut, he had to remember if Jack’s birthday had passed. What had he gotten him? Did he have a party? He tried to picture a cake, a present, anything, but his mind was like a black hole.
David sighed and opened his eyes. He looked around the room for a calendar. Even if he just had his phone he could check the date. He didn’t have any of his belongings. Which immediately made him feel naked. He didn’t like being unprepared or without resources. He currently felt very much of both.
Everyone walked back in the room then, concern filling their face as David tried not to let tears come to his eyes. It’s not that David was typically an over emotional kind of guy. But he was so tired and everything ached and now, he hated to admit it, but he was kind of scared. He closed his eyes quickly to hide the tears and focused on finding a part of his body that didn’t hurt like mad. His toes. His toes felt fine and he wiggled them to prove it, taking a deep breath and reopening his eyes.
“The doctor is going to be in soon.” Mayer reassured him, placing a light hand on his, the other arm placed tightly around Esther. David nodded and looked around at them. He still hadn’t seen Les but he figured the poor kid still had to go to school today. An unconscious brother wasn’t enough to let a Jacobs skip school. Jack was standing to the side, his hands deep in his pockets and he looked ashamed. The others were fawning over David but he only wanted to catch Jack’s eye, to make sure everything was alright. He hadn’t gotten a chance to look at him properly before but it looked as if Jack was alright. He had scrapes on his right arm that looked red and practically still bleeding. He wondered if Jack should have that looked at.
“What seems to be the problem?” The doctor called as he walked in the room. He was followed by a nurse in bright Disney scrubs. David opened his mouth but he didn’t know exactly what to say. He can’t remember his boyfriend’s last birthday? That seemed to fall a little short. Luckily Sarah jumped in.
“It seems like he isn’t remembering some things that he should be. Events.” She told him, remaining in her dutiful place by David’s side. The nurse walked around and checked the monitors again, writing things down and staying out of the doctor’s way as he moved to David. He shined a little flashlight in David’s eyes that made his head hurt and then turned back to Sarah.
“What sort of events and how recent are they?” He asked, not looking the least bit concerned. David took this as a good sign. It was probably no big deal. Sarah glanced to Jack, still slumped to the side looking like a kicked puppy. Jack looked up them, realizing the spot light was back on him.
“Uh, he doesn’t remember my birthday.” He said, shrugging lightly and scratching his head as if trying to write it off as no big deal. The doctor looked back at David then, still seeming the picture of ease.
“Do you remember the date of his birthday?” He asked, taking the chart from the nurse and scribbling something in. David nodded.
“Of course, it’s September 13th.” He said with no issue. He ran through his family’s birthdays in his head. He could remember all those dates as well. The doctor nodded serenely.
“Where do you go to school?” He asked then, only glancing up at David for a second.
“New York University. I’m a freshman, I only just started.” It went on like this, the doctor asking questions and David answering them. Age? Date of Birth? Family questions. David knew them all.
“Do you know today’s date?” David’s mind was a black hole again. He looked at his fingers. He was in school. So past August 25th. It must be past September 13th if Jack was already 19. He thought about what he was learning in school. He ran through the list of classes in his head but he couldn’t think what topic they were on. He looked up then.
“Sometime in September.” He answered then, his voice shaking just a little bit. He watched everyone’s faces fall and his heart sank right along with them. The doctor did not seem worried though. He wrote something down and looked up at him.
“I wouldn’t worry David. This sort of memory loss is common with head injuries and will probably go away soon. Maybe even within the week.” He reassured him before walking out. David’s heart kept falling. All he could hear was “Probably.” Which meant it might not go away. He saw Sarah glare daggers at Jack and storm out of the room in a huff. Jack rubbed at his eyes, looking dead on his feet. Esther looked over her shoulder at Sarah and followed her out to see what was wrong. Mayer wasn’t far behind. Jack stood there a minute, not looking at David, his eyes searching the far wall for something.
“Jack, what day is it?” David whispered after a minute. He wasn’t sure what made Jack look so uncomfortable but the question wouldn’t let him go. Jack flicked his eyes to him then. Only for a second they held before flicking back down to his hand where he checked the date on his phone.
“October 23rd.” He muttered, moving to sit in the chair next to the bed. He slumped in it, throwing his phone on the nearby table. David paled. He had been off by a whole month. That’s a whole month gone. That’s an entire month of his life! Of school and tests and knowledge completely gone. Could he catch up? Would he flunk out his first year? Before he realized it he was breathing fast, staring at his hands, wide eyed and panicky, the machine he was attached to beeping faster, loud and obnoxious. Jack stood at the noise.
“Davey? Dave are you okay? Do you want me to get a doctor or somethin’? Your family?” He asked quick before David took a deep breath and the beeping began to slow down. But tears sprang to his eyes and he thought that scared Jack even more than the incessant beeping. He tried to wipe the tears away but the IV in his hand was bothersome.
“What if I don’t remember Jack? What if I flunk out because I’m too far behind?” He asked through trying to sniff and pull himself back together. Jack looked at him warily. He wasn’t exactly great with tears. He looked around once, as if looking for a way out but sat back down.
“I don’t think you have to worry about that Dave. They always give that talk on those disability guys at the college that help people after an accident. They can probably catch you up.” He took a pause, but David wasn’t reassured yet.
“Plus, you’re really smart you know? I couldn’t catch up but you got all those notes in your room and I bet I remember a couple Latin words you talked about all the time. One of them you used a lot started with an S. ‘Sal’ something or another.” He said, throwing his hand up as if it used all of his energy thinking of a Latin word. Despite his tears David chuckled.
“You’re thinking of ‘salve’ it means ‘hello’.” He muttered, sniffing a couple more times but calming down again. He figured it was from the exhaustion. If he wasn’t ready to fall asleep he was sure he would be much more frantic. Jack threw up his hands an excited look on his face.
“See you remembered that! I bet the rest ain’t too far behind.” He said, smiling to try and reassure David. Even a small victory is still a victory right? David shook his head a little taking another deep, exasperated breath.
“I learned that in high school Latin. That’s not from the past few months.” He muttered. Jack looked back down. He cracked his knuckles loudly and it echoed in the small room. It was an annoying habit that David typically tried to get him to kick but the familiar sound did not fall on unforgiving ears. David looked over at Jack, his bag still kicked over into a corner of the room.
“Jack why’d you have you’re duffle bag? Was there a trip I forgot about too?” He asked almost sarcastically but his real fear of his memory loss shone through the bravado. Jack glanced up at him, looking guilty before leaning back in his seat and crossing his arms. David waited a long time for Jack to answer. Something had to be up. Jack shifted in his seat again, as if trying to wiggle out of the question. He glanced to his bag and then to the foot of his bed, avoiding David’s gaze.
“Well you see,” He paused gesturing towards his bag and the machine as if they would explain it for him.
“I didn’t know if you were gonna wake up or anything, and how bad your injuries would be.” He started, wringing his hands and running them through his hair multiple times. He didn’t want to be telling David this.
“I thought if you woke up and couldn’t go to school no more ‘cause you were hurt or somethin’” He shrugged again, looking into David’s eyes for a second before looking back down.
“I thought it would be better if I left and maybe you…you wouldn’t remember me.” He whispered, not looking away from a fleck by his shoe. Jack’s heart sunk when there was no answer from David right away. But David was practically back in full out panic mode. His heart beat fast in his chest causing the machine to beep faster again.
Jack was going to leave him. Jack was going to leave without saying goodbye. He was going to leave David here all alone with no explanation. Just to save his own skin. Tears welled up in David’s eyes again. He hated crying and he felt like that was all he was doing today. He swallowed hard and tried to get his breathing under control but he couldn’t. Jack leaving would be worse than flunking out. It would be worse than never remembering those few months. He glanced over to Jack, still looking at the floor.
“You were going to leave me?” He whispered, his voice cracking at this most inopportune time. Jack bowed his head even more if that was possible. That was a knife right to his heart.
“You don’t understand, Dave. I thought I was doing the right thing, I thought you were better off without me!” He cried, still not wanting to meet David’s eyes. He came back didn’t he?
David stared at him incredulously. Better off without him?
“You were going to let me wake up in the hospital having no idea where you were? You left without saying goodbye!” He called, getting more angry now. How could Jack do that to him? Jack looked up at him then, his green eyes hard.
“I did say goodbye Dave. I didn’t know when you were gonna wake up. I didn’t know if you were gonna wake up at all! I said goodbye though, I wouldn’t leave before I did and it was the hardest thing I ever did, say goodbye to you!” Jack said. David swore he saw the glimmer of tears in Jack’s eyes but it was gone before he was sure it was there. David bit his lip and made a face, if only trying to keep more tears back.
“You ran away Jack and you left me in your midst.” He muttered. He couldn’t believe Jack was packed and ready to go. Jack was going to leave him to face this on his own. He made a mistake so he ran. He would never grow up would he? Jack sighed and thought about Sarah, and the slightly distrustful way she always looked at him, like he was unreliable and dangerous. Looking at David now he thought he saw a bit of his sister’s anger in him.
“I…I thought you were breaking up with me.” Jack muttered, watching confusion spread of David’s features.
“What? Is this about that fight Sarah mentioned? What was it?” David asked, contemplating what would make him think about breaking up with Jack. Jack shook his head and bit back tears.
“I was drunk. I didn’t tell you that, but I was drunk. You said you didn’t like the parties and I called you a snob.” Jack paused and kicked the edge of the bed absentmindedly.
“You told me to start going to parties alone.” Jack glanced at David but his face was a mask he suddenly couldn’t read.
“I know you don’t remember but I thought you were dumping me. I figured…if you dumped me once, you would when you woke back up.” The last word was barely audible and Jack was looking at his shoe, his thigh dotted with tears he didn’t bother to wipe away.
“That’s…that’s when I hit the pole. You dump me so I almost kill you. Real good huh?” He muttered, sniffing, still looking miserable. David groaned inwardly, it was all too much to take in right now, when he still felt like passing out. He didn’t know if had had been trying to break up with Jack at that moment, he didn’t remember that night at all. He didn’t know why he would want to break up, had things been falling apart?
“I feel like I don’t know you, I lost a whole month of our relationship,” David muttered. Jack paled at his words.
“But I know you David, and… I don’t want to lose you. No matter what,” Jack said, meeting his eyes willingly for the first time today.
“So what are you going to do now Jack?” David whispered. Jack cleared his throat and fixated on the beeping monitor, watching David’s life line move up and down.
“What do you want me to do?” He whispered, keeping gaze with the line. David was mad Jack had left, and he figured he would be for a long time. But he watched the monitor reflected in Jack’s eyes and realized he was probably as scared as David was. He looked down. Sometimes he hated his own empathy.
“Just…stay. I guess, I want you here, even if I said otherwise earlier.” David said, looking up and meeting gaze with Jack, his eyes wide and slightly afraid.
“But I do, and I love you Jack.” He muttered, afraid to break eye contact now. Jack paled. Had David heard him when he was unconscious? Or was it just the right moment?
“I…uh, I love you too Dave.” He whispered, taking his hand softly. David nodded, as if the fact made sense to him. He met Jack’s eyes once more.
“Then make it right, just make it right Jack.”
Chapter 7: Epilogue
The snow had just began to fall as they walked into the party. David looked to the sky, a worried expression on his features that made Jack’s lips turn up in a smile. He was no doubt worrying about getting snowed in or not being able to make it back to his dorm. Jack took his hand easily, the sleeves of David’s oversized Hanukkah sweater pooling over his hands. It was bright blue and had a ridiculously colored menorah on it, surrounded by spinning dreidels. Jack was wearing an equally loud Christmas sweater. David had been complaining about the lack of Jewish holiday parties as they entered the loud room, quickly detaching himself from Jack and went over to greet Sarah, who gave Jack a very noticeable glance.
“Hey Jack!” Nick Meyers, a curly haired friend of theirs called. He was standing across the room from where David now stood and waved wildly, the drink, clearly in his system, having nothing to do with his usual cheery demeanor.
“Nicky! What’s up man?” Jack greeted him but he found he kept looking back at David. He was framed by the small windows of the dorm, the wind blowing around the light snow. David’s head, once shaved, was now covered in short curls, not as long as he usually kept it, but enough to partially hide his scar. It was a red, crescent shaped thing, half way around his head that hair would never grow on. Jack had learned to avoid that side if playing with David’s hair, as it still hurt occasionally. David had been handed a drink and after sniffing it, so characteristic of David, he took a drink happily. Jack smiled, trying to turn his attention back to whatever Nick was saying.
“We should have a snowball fight, don’t you think?” Nick asked excitedly, his eyes not straying far from the falling snow. Jack quickly agreed, assuring he could get Davey in on the idea, knowing full well he would resist. Jack looked over at him again. It was December 17th. Almost a full two months after the accident and the last day of the semester. It hadn’t been an easy two months. They didn’t get to see each other as much as they liked and David spent most the time studying. After The Accident, (and that’s how they referred to it, as if in capital letters) things hadn’t been great. It was like David didn’t trust Jack fully anymore, and Sarah hated him more than ever. But they had gotten through it and Jack had kept his promise to make things better. He was a more loyal boyfriend, trying to stop the little habits that David hated. Particularly the flirting. He was loyal to Dave, but Jack had a tendency to flirt with anything that moved, of any gender. He had quit that bad habit. He tried and it seemed for now, that that was enough for David.
“Hey, Jack you want a beer?” Nick asked a moment later, coming back with two. Jack reached for it automatically but paused. He glanced at David again, who was likely to never regain the memory of those months before the accident, and who was hesitant to get in a car, no matter who was driving. David turned at that moment, his blue eyes shining at Jack, the tip of his mouth going up.
“Nah man.” He started, glancing back to Nick. “I think I’m good.”