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Pale horse

Chapter Text

Snowflake lowered me to the tip of the nose.

Iʼm a long time watched her circling in the air. Expected when she finally falls down.

The nose is cold, even icy, so the snowflake doesnʼt melt. I try to look carefully at it, but for some reason itʼs hard for me — do it. Eyes as if covered with wet and muddy film, while snowflake… Snowflake spreads, turns into a white spot. I focus, wrinkle my eyebrows, carefully biting lips, I even lift the head a little, but all these efforts make even more white spots before my eyes.

My body cools down. I can feel my body gradually becomes cold. Heat goes out of him, the warmth draining away.

This could be taken as a metaphor, if not an open wound, received in the result of the shot, in my body, in left side.

I would like to think, that I was lucky, because that shot wasnʼt aimed — that shot is desperately curve. But thoughts appear and disappear out of my head, not having time to take shape. And my blood — drain from my body.

In the first place become cold the tips of the fingers and toes. Then the cold covers the rest of the body.

What is happening seems to me absurd. The real absurd, or even a theatrical performance. Instead of blood some strawberry jam, instead of snow — feathers, instead of me — stuntman. Lips twitch into a hopeless smile. Hopeless. This means «without hope»?

I look up at the black sky, which is closed by clouds. It is incredibly far away from me, and I can see only a small piece. I see it in the space between skyscrapers.

Around fuss, and I smell something burning. Because of the unpleasant odor itching in the nose, but I donʼt care.

Hurt. Insanely painful. I think I have already crossed all possible thresholds, and now I was cornered personal Cerberus death.

It makes no sense to fear death, right? Forewarned is forearmed. And I was warned. Literally every day, when I looked at my reflection in the mirror, when I looked at the janitor at McDonalds or any passerby, I again and again confirmed my thoughts — death in my situation inevitable, exactly as in the situation of any of them. However, I had an advantage.

Iʼm not afraid of it.

Fear of death — prerogative of the animal. «Stupid instinct, not any more» — I thought. People now — insane creation, gifted with a consciousness, consciousness which, actually, they do not use. If they were able to control your mind — the fear would have disappeared even as a concept. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, as they say.

I thought it was.

And I was wrong.

My body is heavy, very heavy. It is rotting. I feel its disgusting smell. And I canʼt figure out whether — itʼs really the smell of my rotting, or itʼs breathing a pale horse and his rider, to scorch the neck and face?

What brings fear. Rhetorical question. If the question at all.

I already know the answer was from the very beginning.

Consciousness slowly goes out, sinks into the abyss of stench.

And Iʼm really scared.

Fear leads to madness.

In the world of people survives is not the strongest. In the world of people survives two.

Chapter Text

Is that a joke?

— Inoperable hepatocellular carcinoma. Take the brochure, Mr. Pines.

Father takes the proffered Dr. booklet and looking attentively at the text, adjusting her glasses.

— Inoperable?

— Inoperable.

Mr. Harrell nodding but not smiling. Heʼs looking intently into momʼs eyes, as if trying to see there the permission to continue. And apparently finds nothing that would allow him to pull the trigger, so remains silent.

Dipper sits, thoughtfully looking at the green cover of his desk.

— How did?.. — finally squeezes mom. — How did this happen? We always went to… for medical examination.

The doctor perked up and disappeared under the table, then pulls out a box with medical cards.

— On the contrary, the last two years at the school dispanserization I have not seen a Dipper.

Mom turns to the Dipper and looks at him with a rather uncertain look, but he just shrugs his shoulders.

— Mrs. Pines, as far as I remember, those two years ago you flew to Egypt?

— Yes. Resort tour. But what does this have to…?

— Directly relates to this situation.

Mr. Harrell turns the computer monitor to the mother and continues to speak:

— Electronic Dipperʼs card says that you visited one of Cairo hospital, where he was accidentally infected with a virus «Hepatitis C».

— Yes, but we cured him…

— Last time you sat in this office with a diagnosis of «Hepatitis C» and I was prescribed a course of interferon with ribavirin and IFN. You have finished this course of treatment?

Mom looks down, frantically clutching the arms.

— Our insurance couldnʼt cover it and… At that time we did not have enough money to pay for this particular treatment.

— What have you been used meds?

— Sofosbuvir.

Dr. Harrell rolls his eyes. Anger, thinks Dipper.

— Sofosbuvir not take without telaprevir, God!

Very angry. Mr. Harrell is not only a good doctor, but also, apparently, a good man. Such a touching concern for the patient. But if you look on the other hand, Dipper was able to skip all the medical checkups and examinations in these two years definitely not because of his round-the-clock vigilance and responsibility. From which we can conclude that now he will sympathize with him, then he gets out of the hospital, sit in your car, come to his home, asks wife to make him a Cup of coffee and watch TV. And after this to take seriously his anger and concern can only idiots.

But Dipper actually is the idiot. No more.

The doctor with his mom talk about something. She shivers, pressed into the chair. Of course, not every day is found inoperable cancer of her son.

Dipper think that heʼs sitting in a vacuum bubble, and all the words spoken in this room breaking on the wall of this bubble, like a cup against the wall. It remains in this bubble for a long time, before dad shakes him by the shoulder.

— Dipper, stay with us, please, — he says solid iron voice, and after again considering the brochure.

And as he noticed it at all?

— Here it is proposed to undergo PET? But why? The diagnosis is already known, — dad joins in the conversation.

— You need to determine the size of the tumor and degree of differentiation of cancer cells, as well as the degree of development of the cancer. Moreover, it is standard procedure. To register a patient in the hospital too need to undergo these procedures. And… Mr. Pines, what did you decide?

Dad looks at Dr. Harrell thoughtfully.

— Decided what?

— To be treated in our cancer center. Have you read a brochure about it just now.

— Yeah, okay, — just tells dad.

Mother indignantly gasps and turns to face him.

— Tony! We should discuss all together! Itʼs not buying a car or coffee maker! Now we solve the problem about whether our son… Whether our son…

Mommy makes a sobbing noise. Dad sighs in exasperation.

— Helen, we have literally every minute counts. Why do we need something else to watch, if just two blocks from the house there is a great cancer center with the proven professionals! And besides, for a reasonable price.

— Your husband right. Every minute counts, and the more time we save now, the more chances of the Dipper.

Dipper tries to focus on the conversation, but somehow it does not work.

Cancer.

Cancer of the liver.

He is only seventeen years old. Inoperable cancer at the age of seventeen.

Is that a joke?

— Okay, Tony. But… What if?..

— Helen. Please, be sensible.

Mom dutifully silent, and Dr. Harrell continues serious voice to say:

— The center, like it says in the brochure, offers a standard method of treating hepatocellular carcinoma, thatʼs chemoembolization. This method is most effective for treating all types of cancer of the liver and consists of local chemotherapy and embolization procedure…

— These words say little to us, doctor, — interrupted his father. — I would like to know more. More… Having a more personal nature.

— Tony, — mom interrupts his speech. — Maybe… maybe Dipper will wait for us outside?

— No.

Parents turn to him, looking slightly bewildered.

— I have canser, not you, — Dipper says, in a clear voice and with a clear view.

But for some reason he doesn't want to know the answers to questions that revolve in the language.

Dad shrugs, mom shakes her head, Mr. Harrell straightens his tie.

— Are you sure… that youʼre ready to hear it, young man?

— And from what I not be ready? — and why is his voice so sarcastic hardness, want to ask.

Because he has cancer. Fucking cancer of the liver.

— What chance do I have at the moment? And… How long I will last with your embolization?

Dr. Harrell looks at Dipper his grey eyes, flexing his fingers. Dipper wonder what heʼs thinking at this moment. About cup of coffee, or about how to tell a seventeen year old teenager that he will live a maximum of two years, arm in arm with a bucket for vomit, bald as the knee?

— At the moment the odds are not high, given the symptoms that you today brought to us, — slowly he begins. — Further, there are two versions of events. Or chemotherapy will be successful and lead to remission. How long the remission will last no one can say exactly, I also. It depends on you and your body, but the term is decent, given you a diagnosis…

— But there are no guarantees even in this case? — dad interrupts mr. Harrell.

— There are no guarantees at all, but all that is available medicine, will be made at the highest level.

— Go ahead, Dr. Harrell. You talked about some «or», — at this time, interrupts are already a Dipper.

The mother sobs, unnerving him.

— Or… Or treatment will be useless. In your case we can not exclude this version, — Harrell finished and leans back in his chair.

Viscous silence fills the room. Everyone is silent. The doctor awkwardly pulls at the tie, mom pursed his lips and shedding tears.

Dipper rises from his chair. In the legs such a strong weakness.

— I can… go to the toilet? — he interrupts the silence.

— Yes, of course. We need to discuss other formalities with your parents, but if you have questions…

— Well, thank you.

Dipper slowly closes the door and rushes down the corridor to the stairs. Nasty lump comes up in my throat, and, frankly, he has to clamp his hand over his mouth.

When they reached the saving restroom, he literally falls on his knees, leaning over the toilet. It starts to tear and this continues, feels like, three minutes. And when the nausea recedes finally, Dipper slipping on the floor, leaning against the wall of the toilet cubicles.

Cold and wet hands, in the mouth the taste of shit, eyes treacherously dry. How he wants to shout now, to break something. Though the same toilet. But Dipper just nuzzling in wet hands and sticks a nails in the forehead.

Dipper rises to his feet, shakes his pants, presses the button on the toilet and out of toilet cubicles. Water droplets unobtrusive knock on the sink, falling from a broken faucet. He approaches one of the sinks, leans on it and stares at his reflection in the mirror.

— Youʼre going to look terrible when you become bald, buddy. Although… much much worse.

***

Parents still long for something talking to Harrell, but Dipper canʼt concentrate on their conversation. He sits and waits near the office. Time passes kind of lazy, and the Dipper begins to fall asleep. After all, he was not able to sleep in today. Though whatʼs there to «sleep» — at midnight he had already fell unconscious and an hour later came to in a bed in intensive care. He is now — a potential dead man. Sleep? To sleep. Just sleep.

— Come on, Dipp. We agreed with Dr. Harrell, so you stayed home, — mom hugs him and pats his cheek. — You… How do you feel?

Dipper looks at her with bleary eyes. And he begins to feel unbearably disgusting and pathetic.

— Okay. I'm okay, mom, donʼt worry.

— Thatʼs good. Come on, honey.

He gets up and walks after her.

And so crappy Dipper had long been felt.

Chapter Text

— How to say Mabel?

— Maybe weʼre not going to say anything?

— Great idea! And when I die youʼll just throw me under the car and say that it was an accident, yeah?

— Dipper…

She with dad sitting at the table, I pace back and forth in the living room. Dawn outside the window is just beginning. Today is the twenty-seventh of August.

Mabel at the summer school, she arrives twenty-ninth of August. I have two days to figure out how to tell her about the cancer.

— Please, sit down, Dipper. We have something else to discuss, — dad says with a stern voice, and pushes chair out for me.

I sit down and put my hands on his chest. They both seriously look at me and then dad goes on to say:

— At the cancer center are held daily meetings. Support teenagers with cancer. Your mother and I want, that you to attend the group. At least once a week.

This was to be expected.

— Whatʼs the point? I feel fine.

— Know… — begins my mother.

— Helen, please, not now. You must know that…

— Know why we are in this situation, Dipper? — how would she asks. — Because we ceased to monitor the situation, relaxed. We trusted you. Relied on your sense of responsibility. And what did we get?

I blame the fact that I had cancer. What a joy.

— Do you think I knew that could happen? — I sluggish mind, knowing that the war is already lost.

— Cancer, no cancer, anything! Better tell me why you didnʼt go to annual checkups? Why not visit the doctor? — mother sobs again. — We signed all the papers, we believed you and relied on your prudence! Is it so difficult? Just once a year to go get tested at the clinic!

— What do you think I donʼt know what a jerk I am?! But there was nothing to fix, mom!

— Why didnʼt you tell us about your symptoms! Why you said you feel fine when we finished the meds! — has openly shouts mom, banging his fists on the table.

I want to run away to my room and close there, she would get off my back to hell, but easier to stay here and hear her cries now. Because if I run, sheʼll be upset or get mad even more…

— The symptoms of hepatitis are… these symptoms can be confused with iodine deficiency, or even fatigue! — I still deny their guilt.

Yes. Itʼs my fault. And Iʼm fucking disgusting, but this does not mean that now Iʼm need of censure. On the contrary.

— You know what…

— Helen, stop, — dad interrupts her mid-sentence. — Or the real fatigue to happen with you. Dipper didnʼt sleep this night, leave him alone, please. And you also have to lie down to rest.

Mom nervously exhales and closes his eyes with his hands.

— Okay. Yes. Well, — abruptly she exhales and rises from the table. — Please, go to sleep.

— Heʼs going to sleep. Go upstairs, I will come soon.

Dad nods to her and smiles, corners of his lips. Mom looks at me uncertainly, then passed a hand over her head, ruffling the hair, and soon disappears on the stairs.

Weʼre alone with each other. Dad never scolds me. Out loud, at least. Dad just look at me askance a couple of times and Iʼm ready to burn with shame and crumble to a pile of ashes in my own chair.

But today everything is somehow different. Daddy looks intently, putting his fingers in a praying gesture. His attentive brown eyes examine every detail of my face. I think.

— Donʼt mind her, okay? — he says in all seriousness.

I only slightly nod in amazement.

— And… If you want to go somewhere, I wonʼt stop you. Cigarettes in the top drawer of the sideboard.

— So thatʼs where they… Stop. You know that I smoke? — dad is silent for so long that Iʼm starting to worry. But father interrupts the growing panic with the laconic remark:

— Of course I know. Be careful in the future when you choose a hiding place.

— So… so that is, it means that you donʼt mind?

— Youʼre already seventeen, Dipper. And besides… Besides, Iʼm not in the position to tell you not to do something, — he answers shortly and stands up from the table. — Iʼm going to bed. Try to be back before eight in the morning. And donʼt get too drunk.

Pulls from his pocket a banknote of fifty dollars, and nods to me.

— Be careful.

I sit like a fool, and stupidly staring at his back as long as he is not hiding in the dark. «Be careful». Be careful?

Itʼs all strange.

— Thanks.

***

For August the weather is too cold. This year, in general, was extremely cold. I shudder, hide the nose in a thin scarf and put my hands in my pockets. In one of them I find a treasured pack of cigarettes. I have no lighter, it would be necessary to go into any convenience store and buy it.

The closest store to Atwell Avenue, four blocks away, and the last night bus has long been is the Parking lot.

The road is pleasant. Completely empty. The wind is strong and blows through the old coat, even though itʼs wool. Iʼm freezing, so you have to quicken the pace. But the walk never ceases to please me. Fits the mood. Night residential area of Auckland looks amazing. Cold, foggy, gloomy, silent.

We have lived here not so much. About three years ago we moved out of Piedmont. At the time I didnʼt love the crowd, and mostly I sat at home. Honestly, at the time I dinʼt have free time. Of course my mother sometimes tried to get us to go on any excursions, but lost all hope with the passage of time. Me and my sister can be stubborn.

Sister quickly found friends in school, unlike me. And despite the fact that we were in the same class, I was the brother of Mabel, not Dipper Pines. I thought that was normal. And I was fine.

But how to tell her?

Mabel. Maybe really donʼt tell her?.. No. This is not the way because when Iʼm bald Iʼll have to explain it, and when I die itʼs just… It is better to say. But how?

«Hey, Mabel, I got liver cancer, Iʼd probably die in two years, I hope youʼre happy!»

«Sis, how would you react to the fact that I have cancer of the liver?»

«Mabel, Iʼm gay. Joke, I have hepatocellular carcinoma.»

The latter option is preferable. If I was gay, Mabel was thrilled. Iʼm sure of it.

The lights in the shop is unpleasant winked at me. I pretended not to notice his friendly gesture, and stepped across the sill. Except me of visitors was not, and the seller openly dozing, cozy decomposed under the counter.

— Hey, mister, — I called out, leaning over the cash register. — Sell me a lighter, please.

The cashier angrily muttered something under his breath, turned on the spot, but still got up and made an attempt to stand up straight.

— Take money only without putting, — he scornfully glanced at the proffered bill.

— I have no money without putting.

— So, for you the store is closed.

— Look, really, you only need to open the cash register, it does not take much time. Forty dollars, and you can continue to sleep…

— Go away and stop wasting my time, — snapped the salesman. — Youʼre holding up the line.

— What the fuck is the line?.. — I turned around and actually saw a some guy with a loaf of bread in his hand.

Strange, it should be noted, guy. Whether he was weird, or just a facial expression he had this, but for some reason I thought he was different from the general climate of the shop.

— Simply open the cashier and give me forty fucking dollars. And youʼll never see me again, — I almost bent down to him, but the man only pulled a disgusting face and pointed a finger at the door.

What happened next made me swallow your tongue for the second time this night.

— Please forgive me for the late intervention, Mr. Cashier, — spoke up the second the buyer. — Could you sell this young man a lighter?

The seller irritably rolled her eyes and banged his fist on the counter.

— You what, conspired against me? To deceive me?! I know people like you. A couple of scammers! Iʼm sure you have no money, and it is fake! — he pulled me out of the hands of money and shook them before my eyes.

— Step aside, — whispered in the ear of the stranger, putting his hand on my shoulder.

Iʼm somewhat fascinated by the events, took a step back.

— So, now you sell fucking lighter and the loaf of bread, and… And this gum, — the guy tosses on the counter Orbits and his purchase. — Or I will shoot you in the head. Between the eyes.

The seller opens his mouth, gulping air, and shies away to the side of the phone hanging on the wall. But his reaction is clearly inferior to the reaction of this guy — he immediately pulls out of the pocket of his coat (his coat is dirty-beige) a gun and puts a gun barrel almost to his forehead right between the eyebrows.

— Please, — he smiles and slightly bows his head to the shoulder.

The seller enters in cash register all products nervously shaking hands, give change with those fifty bucks, nods and confused looks on the buyer.

All this time I, like a fool, standing with mouth open and observe the actions of the guy that suddenly turned into a human rights activist.

— Always be so! — happily concludes the stranger. — I hope this incident stays between us, dear Mr. Cashier.

He makes a soft nod, turns around and motions me to follow him.

— Iʼm sorry, I… Itʼs… We donʼt… — I trying to mumble something, but just waving it hand, and rush into the street.

The guy waiting for me on the opposite side of the street arm in arm with your loaf of bread, and grins. I stop in front of him and not think of anything better, shrug and spreading his arms to the side. He smiles even wider, handing me the shopping bag.

— I paid this on your money, — he says. — But I have no money, so I bought you some gum. Using your money.

— I think… It fits me, — this time I smile, just a bit awkward and very poorly. — And thank you, but…

I look at the weapon in his hands. The guy bends an eyebrow questioningly, and then suddenly barely audible snorts and hides the gun in his pocket.

— Itʼs layout, — he grins, slightly bending at the back. — Well, see you later.

He easily waves his hand and turns on her heel of the Shoe in the other direction. Iʼm still silly and awkward smile, looking at his retreating silhouette.

— See you later? — I mutter to myself. — See you later… It happens the same.

Took from his pocket a cigarette and flip the lighter. Probably, I have got to get out of here, suddenly this guy still would call the police.

Yeah, of course. See you later.

Chapter Text

— Hey, bro-bro! — Mabel bursts into my room with a squeal and flops on the bed.

I instinctively shy away from she in the direction, simulated clutching at his heart, but then just sigh and smile nervously.

— I expected exactly this reaction! — she says it with an important expression on his face and funny raises eyebrows. — Something you are some gloomy.

— And hello to you too, Mabel.

A few seconds she looks at me intently, and then suddenly very seriously asked:

— What is it this time? Marijuana, hemp, or it may be the morphine? Or your girlfriend dumped you? — sister bursts out laughing, rolling on the bed and whipping the covers.

— Well, of course. Morphine. Only it, — I mutter. — Howʼs school?

— That was a-we-so-me!

— And in more detail?

— Of course, but I want to eat. Letʼs go down, — she pulls my t-shirt and jumps out of my bed.

— So, your girlfriend really you dumped? — she grins out of the corner of her lips. — If anything, expert Mabel will arrange your personal life in a jif…

— No. No one didnʼt dump me.

— Then smile, please! You have no valid reason to be sad! Because Iʼm back! — Mabelʼs fingers lifts the corners of my mouth and after lurking outside the door, loudly banging on the floor with my heels. — Home sweet home!

I smile. Mabel returned. Now the house will not be so quiet. But the joy quickly gives way to restlessness and a dull pain that plagued me for the third day in a row.

The kitchen smells of something delicious. Sister about something chirps with mother, squinting his eyes and smiling brightly, dad thoughtfully staring at the newspaper. I walk into the room and sit down at the table, tucked under one leg. Father briefly looks at me and nods to something his own way. I feel a little warmer inside. Beside Mabel, with her big smile and loud cheers always becomes warmer and cozier.

But actually I was in a panic, absolute panic. Now it can be compared to some kind of nuclear explosion. Iʼm sitting in a flimsy shelter, and a bard plays on his guitar. And I feel good. However, what is happening in the shelter, cannot make me forget the horror that is happening on the surface. And in reality, even listening to the songs of the bard, Iʼm counting the seconds before the explosion.

— Wo-o-ow! Today we have lasagna! And caramel apples! — admiringly exclaims sister and stabbing with the fork in the unfortunate lasagna so much force, that I feel like I heard the sound of a fork on a plate.

***

Mom glances sideways at me from time to time, while Mabel, her mouth full of broadcasts about the trip. I ask her questions. Endless questions. I already want to stop, but I continue to ask her. She talks about everything at once, getting tangled in words. Switches from one story to another, adding to each some strangely ridiculous unnecessary facts. And listen to her becomes unbearable. I have had that day a stomach ache, so much so that I canʼt eat. And headache. Condition in general is disgusting. I just want to lie on the bed. Even do not want to read.

I force myself to smile, when Mabel tells a joke. But Iʼm not funny.

The grossest thing in addition to the physical pain I feel like my fucking soul expires the imaginary blood. Iʼm envy. Thatʼs what I feared the most. Iʼm envy alive. Those who can live and enjoy life. But how I live? More precisely, how I lived? School-home-school. Computer, books, stupid ideas about unavailable girls. I donʼt even have friends that will miss me. And it is unlikely I will be able to change something for the last two or three years. And do I really want to change something? Because I believed that I have a good life?..

It was these thoughts I was afraid of. Iʼll be envy. Especially feared that I would be envy of my own sister. Only friend. Best friend.

I donʼt listen to Mabel. I have no idea how many missed in this conversation and I have no idea how do I join the conversation back. Mom smiles at her and says something, and I am back in the vacuum bubble.

— Mabel, — unexpectedly for myself, I interrupt her.

Three pairs of eyes rushing at me. In his motherʼs eyes unimaginable doom and like a prayer — «donʼt tell, donʼt tell her!». What the dad thinks I, as always, donʼt understand. But I would be glad to hear advice from him now, in this situation.

Sister smiling and stared at me with her lively, sparkling, cheerful eyes. And in my head I paint a picture. How to change her face when I say. Not to tell! Not to tell in any case! Just shut up now and blurt out something stupid! Or let parents will say… No. I must to say.

— Mabel. I have cancer of the liver, — I squeezed out of myself. Suddenly and instinctively close my eyes.

It is not cowardice. Itʼs an instinct. Probably.

We are silent. I hear the rustle of dadʼs newspaper. All sounds become louder when you close your eyes, so the room not quiet. Somewhere on the street, a dog barks.

— You are now a joke so badly? — hear willfully ironic the voice of my sister.

Yes! Yes, I was kidding! Itʼs all a big silly joke! Mistake! Itʼs just a mistake, cards with the diagnoses mixed up!

— No. Iʼm not joking.

— I mean, how is it - not joking? — Mabel continues, and with each word her voice sounds less irony and hilarity.

— Only in the sense that I told the truth, — I exhale softly and open his eyes.

Mabel sits, still clutching the fork. Sitting a little hunched, therefore, it on her ridiculous to the absurd crimson sweater formed a huge thick folds. And her hair disheveled. And terribly bewildered face.

— Thatʼs, I mean, you can die? — she asked.

— By the way, you can die too.

Inappropriate. I said quite out of place. And I said it in vain.

— I mean, you can die not from old age or due to some catastrophe, but because you… — Mabel stutters and apparently only now realizing what was going on.

When I nod, confusion in her face gives way to the real horror.

— You have always had a bad sense of humor, Dip-Dip. Because itʼs not funny, — her voice is shaking. Probably she herself doesnʼt believe in what she says.

— Mabel, honey… — started to speak mom, but dad stopped her with his serious look.

— It canʼt be, — after a pause continues sister. — It canʼt be with you.

— It can happen to anyone, Mabel, — for some reason I objected to sister again.

— Come on! Dipper, this canʼt happen to you! Not! Can! — she shouts suddenly loudly and jumps up from the table, almost overturning the chair.

— Donʼt, please… — I mutter.

However too late to say anything.

— What the hell, Dipper?! You always! Constantly! Why you?! Why?.. — Mabel sobs and clenches her fists. She jumps up from her seat so abruptly that the chair begins to fall. — Now Iʼll go to my room, sit there, and then you will come to me and say that you were kidding!

— Iʼm not kidding, Mabel…

— You understand me?!

She nearly trips over the chair and, quietly cursing and sobbing, trudges upstairs.

We are again left together. Mom wipes her red eyes with a napkin and nervously twist her fingers.

— Why do you not at least warned us? — sheʼs asking a legitimate question. — Why not say tomorrow or the day after, huh? She has just arrived home.

— Fuck.

— Dipper, watch your language, please!

I donʼt listen to mom. She real bothered me. I get up from the table, put back intact piece of lasagna and climb up the stairs follow Mabel. Behind me I finally heard fatherʼs voice who certainly now begin to reassure the mother. Yes, let soothing. Sod it.

***

In the room Mabel is dark, I move to the touch. On the bed is unoccupied, which is very strange. Maybe she in my room?

When I was about to turn back, I stumble on something and fall on the floor. A stream of quiet curses that Iʼm ready to say out loud, stops the realization that she was lying under the bed, turning your back to the light.

— Hey…

— Get out! — she squeaks when I touch her back.

— As soon as you come out of there - Iʼll be gone.

— Youʼre lying.

Instead of answering I grab her shoulders and pull yourself themselves with the dust. As always, hides in sweater. As always.

— Сanʼt have to listen to me, of course, but Iʼll tell you anyway. Iʼm not going to apologize to anyone. Itʼs not my fault.

Mabel is still quietly crying, leaning against my shoulder. The room is stuffy and dusty, because it has not been aired since then, as the sister went to summer school. We sit in the dark near her bed, and absolutely all very bad. I feel bad, I be bad, Iʼm doing a bad thing with Mabel.

— Just… just please, donʼt cry. And so everything goes awry. Weʼre with you…

— I didnʼt have to leave… — she squeezes these words. — Itʼs all my fault. If Iʼd stayed, youʼd have no si-i-ick!..

On the last word she starts to cry with renewed vigor.

— This conclusion too stupid, even for you, — I weakly smile and continue. — If itʼs not my fault, that doesnʼt mean blame someone else. Iʼd still got sick. And thereʼs nothing you can do about it…

— And because cancer treated? I actually donʼt know anything about cancer. Only from «Breaking Bad», and the guy was… well, as it is there…

— Remission.

— But then the cancer still came back! Fucking cancer!

— Well, yes, but if I have a remission, itʼs… in one word, it would be cool.

— And it will? — Mabel finally sticks head out of her makeshift cocoon.

— Well… Of course it will be. Of course. Yes, it will be, — I a bit hesitated and answering her question.

Mabel wasnʼt stupid.

— But if it doesnʼt happen, then… How much will you have time? Approximately?

— Itʼs possible that Iʼll have time to build up a meth Empire and provide for his family.

Mabel grins through her tears. Her face is all wet.

— You chemistry not very, — she mutters, wiping her nose on my shirt. — But if that happens, you be sure to alert me!

I smile. Really smile. And even tighter hugging her.

— You want, that Iʼll tell you a story?

— M-m-m? Of course I want, what a silly question!

— Few days ago the night I went for a walk. Went to the store to buy a lighter. The seller refused to sell it, and then some guy stood up for me. Can you imagine? He pulled a gun and threatened that if this poor cashier wonʼt sell me a lighter, he shoots him right between the eyes.

— He has said that? «Shoots him»?

— Well, not exactly that, but something very similar. Donʼt interrupt me.

— Okay, okay…

— So thatʼs. As a result, the cashier still sold me the lighter. And the gun was a fake.

— How do you know it was a dummy? — Mabel lightly hits me with an elbow in the side, and then makes himself comfortable.

— He told me himself. In general… Heʼs so weird. He was… Not of this world.

— What do you mean - «not of this world»? — she smiles. Thanks, God.

— Well, you know… Tall, thin, awful in bright colours, yellow. Thatʼs, the skin of course not yellow, white. But his hair and eyes… Not inhuman, but weird.

— What, met your Prince or something? — sister maliciously clicks her tongue and run your fingers over my hand.

— Go to hell, Mabel, seriously! Why a man for another man canʼt be just… aesthetic?

— Aesthetic, maybe, but maybe not…

— Iʼm opening up my soul for her, and she is!..

Mabel laughs, albeit a bit hysterical, and finally fully emerges from its snail house, clutching my stomach. I resentfully turn away, but secretly… All is not so bad. A minute ago, at least, was much worse.

Because Mabel here.

Chapter Text

— Why should I go to school, mom? — I exclaimed irritably. — Whatʼs the point?

— The point is that in order not to lose shape you have to study. And what are you gonna do when you recover? Go to work at McDonaldʼs?

— Itʼs not even funny! I canʼt understand why am I supposed to study! I think that if I will every day go to school I just faster die.

Mom pursed her lips, but continued to silently chop vegetables for stew. I sighed wearily and stood from the table.

— When to start chemotherapy, Iʼll be like dadʼs holey shoes. I mean, itʼs not that I can to study well. I will canʼt even live normal life. These early rising, stress in the classroom. My body didnʼt have the strength to fight the cancer. And with chemotherapy too.

— Just youʼll go to bed early. We will ask for your doctor prescribe you courses of physiotherapy and diet, — just she said and shook off the vegetables from the board into the pot. — But in school you will go. And it is not discussed.

— God damn it, mom!

— Dipper! How many times I asked you watch the language! — she gave me an angry stare. — Get ready, we leave in half an hour.

— And when will the results of the PET?

— Will come when will come. Get. Ready. Now!

I just glanced at her and quite a hand at this. Go to school when you have fucking inoperable cancer. How lovely! Iʼm just incredibly happy! Thatʼs interesting, when Iʼll be dying, she will send me to pass annual exams? Because I will be able to sell hotdogs after my recover without fucking exams!

Today, the second of September, first session of chemotherapy. And yesterday I went to school. Together with my mother. Probably more shame already canʼt happen to me. Therefore, when I vomit in the school toilet, hardly anyone especially mocking grin behind.

She staged a showdown with the teachers directly for an introductory lesson, and then another long dripping on the brain teachers. And there is a strong likelihood that now their sympathy for me will grow just to the heavens, after such intimate conversations.

They said that I have to spend the first week in the hospital. With chemotherapy, physiotherapy and fees those teenagers who want whine about their sad fate.

I threw in the bag a couple of t-shirts and shorts, some books, a phone and a charger. Donʼt think that in able vegetable I will need a lot of things. Daily chemotherapy with… with embolization — itʼs awful. Probably, I canʼt even the language of roll. I studied a couple of sites of cancer patients on the subject of «how shitty will I feel and what I need to take with me». No entries written. Only about a change of clothes, a rosary and an icon with the Virgin Mary. Had to rely on their own intuition.

— Come in for lunch! — was heard from below.

I picked up the backpack. And suddenly I wanted to sit on the bed.

How scared I was. Just unbearably frightening. I was afraid of needles, these catheters. All kinds of garbage which cram in you. And shit which was to flow through your veins. And doctors Iʼm also not particularly fond of. Their cold, indifferent professional attitudes, words. All this is unpleasant. I didnʼt like the hospital. And lay not in hospitals often, actually. I actually have always been pretty healthy. But the hospital I never liked.

***

Mom put stew into my bowl and gave me a glass of juice. I didnʼt want to eat, but I didnʼt take anything in my mouth since yesterday and this time plaintive expression face hardly ride.

— After chemotherapy you are unlikely to want to eat something. But the body needs strength to fight the disease, Dipper, — she pleadingly looked at me. — And the power comes from food.

— I know. Iʼm eating, see?

Mom kisses my head and goes to pour the water.

— I canʼt stay with you, so…

— Well, thank God! — poisonous I whispered. And, apparently, too loud whispered.

— Dipper! Show at least some understanding and respect! So. The nurses will help you, of course, but given your love of independence, have a lot to do yourself.

— What do you mean?

The piece in a throat didnʼt climb. To the throat rolled nausea. Whether from fear, whether because Iʼm sick. How embarrassing that came out a communication with my mother. She came to me with all my heart, but sometimes her statements just… Just freeze!

— Go to the toilet, change clothes, eat…

— I think I wonʼt feel so bad to use the duck, — I chuckled.

— Mabel arrive at the hospital. Dadʼs working today.

— Donʼt, Iʼm going to feel normal.

— Not discussed. Why again you didnʼt eat? — she put on the table a few bottles of water and stared at me.

— Not true! Here, look how much I ate! — I pointed a finger on top of the stew which I have been eaten, but realized in time that in this way only angered mother even more. — Mom, I canʼt more, honestly. The lump in throat.

She just shook her head and said:

— Go get dressed. Weʼre leaving soon.

***

I donʼt know why we went to the car, because before cancer center walk — twenty minutes tops. Probably mom found my condition is quite deplorable. Strange that she didnʼt consider it as such for stay to school. We quickly reached the place and passed the necessary registration.

On the second floor we were met by a smiling man of years of forty to fifty. My personal doctor. His bright red tie with a stupid yellow painted tinny trucks seemed to be some suspiciously moronic. It is clearly not for oncologist. Such things are puzzling. Make you doubt the professionalism or something.

He took us into his office, offered the mother a chair, and told me to change into a hospital gown and wait for him on the viewing couch.

They are talked about something and then he came into the exam room and closed the door.

— Well, hello, young Mr. Pines. Letʼs get acquainted. My name is Paul McLaughlin, — he smiled and sat down on a chair next to the couch. — We need to do some basic tests, and then weʼll send you to chemo, all right?

I only nodded, trying not to look at him. His tie attracted all my attention. That would look weird and intrusive.

— Stretch forward your left hand and put it on the table, — politely he said. — After the procedure of chemoembolization we again take a sample of your blood from a vein and finger to monitor the level of reduction in the number of red blood cells. Afraid?

— No. Iʼm not afraid, — I answered quietly, clenching and unclenching my fist.

— Good. A positive attitude is important, — the doctor smiled again and put a needle in the vein. — Youʼre very skinny. It may badly affect the future condition of your body.

— It is unlikely that something will be able to cause my body more harm than chemotherapy, — I muttered, slightly shielding his eyes. I donʼt like those damn needles.

The doctor ignored my lethargic protest and continued:

— How often do you eat? For example, in the day. And in what quantities?

— Like all normal people, three times a day. Breakfast-lunch-dinner. In the normal quantities.

— Good, — he again smiled gently. — Press the wool and stretch out second hand. The fourth finger.

I complied with his request. Usually I have the blood well minimized but, most likely because of cancer, this time she painted the whole wool while Mr. McLaughlin took blood from the finger.

— You often feel stress, Dipper? — again he asked, not looking up from his work.

— Iʼm a teenager, all teenagers feel stress.

— Your card indicates that in a certain period of time you were visited on therapist and took a sedative.

— Itʼs not been psychotropic.

— Why were you prescribed sedative? — in kind voice doctor I heard those professional steel intonation that I not like so much.

That is, in itself, it is definitely a cool thing, but the hypocrisy… This feigned sweetness and kindness. Why? Coldness and focus inspire much greater confidence in the professionalism of the doctor, than smiles and kind words, isnʼt it? However, if you play nice — play to the end, whoever you were, an actor or a doctor.

— There was a suspicion that I have depression.

— Dipper, I need to know about such things, you know? — the doctor put me on the shoulder sleeve of the device measuring pressure. — Your mom asked us to check whether youʼre going to attend that support group. Itʼs really important. Especially if you have a tendency to depression.

I reluctantly shook his head. The sleeve tightened around my arm.

***

Chemotherapy was more painful than I imagined it. Even though I was sitting in a comfortable chair near the window overlooking the sweety boulevard, I periodically wanted to tear out fuck the catheter and whether to go to the can puke, whether to jump into this sweety window.

I felt like a vile poison is distributed together with blood, as if all over the body. Literally felt it. Sat next to a mother with Mabel. They said something, but I frankly didnʼt want to listen to them. Besides me in the hall was enough patients. Some are already bald. Iʼm also be going bald. Forums write — in about two weeks. Pretty soon. Thatʼs how deadly the substances is now injected into my body?

They ask how my well-being as feelings. And if not for the vaunted endurance, I would sent them to hell without hesitation. Mabel, thank all the gods, seem to understand what I want from them and asked the mother to move with her for a while. I stand alone. My head leans back in his chair.

Before chemo, infusion port implanted in me. In the upper part of the chest. To make it easier to install the catheter. Two hours I sat waiting, when it will cease to bleed. Now on my chest fucking piece of titanium the size in good coin. I feel sick and want to cry.

Mother and Mabel come to say goodbye, say, that visiting hours are over. They will come tomorrow to visit me.

I canʼt cry, because Iʼm not small and Iʼm a man. But it seems, that only now I realize the seriousness of the situation. Iʼm really dying.

Soon the dropper take off me and lead into the hospital room. Except to my bed there are two more, but they are not busy. Nurses before they leave, politely ask me about whether I want. Then they warn me that dinner would be at seven oʼclock and it will be delivered to my room.

And I am again staying alone.

I drink half a bottle of water in one gulp and put it on the nightstand. Bed normal, room quite think of anything. This a hospital ward would be very similar to a hotel room if replace the upgraded hospital bed to a normal.

I donʼt feel well and my throat is nasty com, but I didnʼt get to eat today, so in fact there is I have no vomiting. I lay down on the bed, not changing clothes from a hospital shirts, and covered with a blanket. The head pulsates. It would be worth to have dinner, actually…

And as much as I wanted to mother and Mabel left, now it would be very handy if they are will be here.

***

This morning they woke me up and said me, that I have to appear for breakfast.

Before my «appear» I got a visit from Dr. McLaughlin. He asked me about how crappy I feel after first the treatment and said that after breakfast I should appear in the group for psycho-support. After that I had to go for tests and chemotherapy.

For breakfast nothing really disgusting or delicious wasnʼt given. Ordinary boiled beans with chicken and a glass of milk. Anyway, I almost didnʼt eat. I just couldnʼt.

Back in the room, I finally changed a hospital gown on a more or less decent pants and t-shirt. Psychological support for cancer patients-teenagers. May be this is something there. Last time to visit a psychologist seems to be helping me, but the group… Thatʼs what is really useless — a group activity. However no one can make me to open the soul. Most likely it will not bother me. Except that the possible… negative reaction of the doctor, but nonetheless.

We gathered in the special room. «The special» — means provided for such gatherings.

Young girl-psychologist named Manny asked each of us to take a chair and sit in a circle. And, apparently, not the one I was treated to such practices skeptically. A large part of the teenage group muttering curses under his breath in the direction of their relatives. But nevertheless, we all sat here. And I had to hope that Iʼm the only one so smart — decided to keep silent the whole time.

Only the first bird cooed, as there was a grinding of chair legs on the floor. Probably someone was late.

We synchronously turned around. For a second, I seem to have lost the gift of speech.

— State your name, young man! — Manny shouted rising from his chair and smiled, welcoming the new person.

— Bill Cipher, — he smiled in response and continue to drag a chair to the circle. — Can I join your class?

— Today we practice is only for patients, if you are someoneʼs relative you…

— Oh, no, donʼt think. Iʼm very sick.

He, still smiling, nodded and landed on a chair stretching his legs out.

And this Bill Cipher was none other than same the most weird guy I met at a night shop.

Chapter Text

— Samantha, you do realize that to be closed in itself — the worst of the options.

— Yes, I understand, but…

Samantha with downcast eyes at the floor nervously chewing on the nail of the second finger. Manny gently drills her with his eyes.

— We are gathered here precisely in order to help each other to open the soul. Tell me, what you feel?

The girl bites her lip and nervously picking at the bracelet on her arm.

Dipper sighs with irritation. No, he has nothing against silence Samantha, rather the contrary. Manny really didnʼt see, that is not the meeting junkies? Who confessed his sins and yearn for the grace of God? For sure, before she was just in such places worked, because of her professional approach to patients something doesnʼt smell professionalism.

Manny waits patiently continuing sunny smile. Waits as long as Samantha jumps up from her chair and with a loud sobbing retire out of the room. The sun in Mannyʼs smile slightly fades.

— Guys, — she starts to speak seriously. — We need to help each other. While you are silent, I canʼt give you good advice…

Manny suddenly pauses, then smiles widely.

— Bill? You want to share something?

Dipper sits evenly and doesnʼt twitch, but he is noticeably tense. Heʼs excited, maybe even annoying presence of the man he met on the street completely random in his oncogroup.

The room is quiet and the silence is only interrupted by the rhythmic clatter of heels shoes of Bill Cipher. He comes to Manny, again easily smiling in response, and speaks loudly:

— I have a suggestion, miss… Chandler. What if we all get into pairs? We are in fact difficult to share something intimate with so many people.

He walked over to Manny so close, that getting up she almost rested her face on his chest. And unlike her, Bill this fact does not bother. He still the same condescending smile looked her in the eyes.

— But the essence of group therapy consists in the fact that itʼs group, — mumbled the woman, trying to hide his embarrassment.

— You already had to understand that in this case group therapy powerless. Itʼs possible that the guys, united by a common grief, will opening the soul to each other with a greater degree of success, — he cute chirped.

Manny hesitates for a few seconds, and after a barely noticeable nods. Bill Cipher turns to the group and unctuous voice announces:

— Ms. Chandler asks us to split up in pairs.

At first the teenagers didnʼt move and only look at him with glassy eyes, but when the Bill several times snaps his fingers and nods, they start slow motion. The room fills with the sounds of scraping chairs and quiet whispers «Can with you?..».

Dipper as if chained to a chair sits and doesnʼt move. Heʼs more than just surprised looking at what is happening around. The corner of his eye he notices how this Bill Cipher takes his chair and heading in his direction.

— Good morning, — Bill greets him, sitting down on a chair and throwing one leg over the other.

Dipper (still in prostration) nods. But when he finally fully understands whatʼs happening, his eyes dilate and his face takes awkward appearance. Even the idiotic facial expression — to which his companion grins.

— That is… your «see you later» had some kind of… subtext? — squeezes out words Dipper, still silly squinting eyes to the side.

— Of course, kid! I said it for reason. Iʼm Bill Cipher, nice to meet you, — he hands Pines a hand, and he literally mechanically shakes hand.

— Dipper… Dipper Pines.

— You can call me by name, Dipper Pines, — Bill again smiling like a cat.

— Who you are? — Dipper squints.

— I was already introducing myself. Most likely, you wanted to ask «what are you doing here?». In general, itʼs not so important…

— Itʼs unlikely that you have cancer.

— How do you know? — newfound friend slyly grinning. — But you seem…

— So what are you doing here? This oncocenter and a group to support cancer patients. And if youʼre not sick, then…

Bill looks relaxed while Dipper looks focused and tense to the limit. Because he doesnʼt like such coincidences. The man who threatened the cashier with a pistol due to the lighter is unlikely to be completely adequate, even if the gun was not real. And given the circumstances of their repeated meetings, Pines suspects that something is wrong.

— Oh, no. Like I said, Iʼm sick. Not cancer, yeah. But rest assured, my disease is worse than any cancer.

Dipper raises his eyebrows, leaning back in his chair.

— How interesting… And what is this disease? — he makes a small pause. — No, however, itʼs not interested. Because itʼs a oncocenter.

— Heh, well, but I didnʼt come here to be treated.

Dipper, unbeknownst to himself, weakly smiles.

— Why then?

— I came visit to you, — Cipher bends slightly forward.

This answer dumbfounded Pines and heʼs lost for a second.

— I donʼt… donʼt quite understand. How did you find me and… We met only once, Mr. Cipher. Under very strange circumstances, of course, but only once. Visit to me?

— Call me by name, — casually recalls Bill. — What are you so surprised?

— Why do you need it, Mr… Bill? Why did you come to me?

Dipper is a little confusing what is happening, because complete misunderstanding of the situation puts him in a dead end and deprives him of the opportunity to dissociate itself from the psychological attacks of the opponent. And the opponent, for some reason thinks Dipper, a good psychologist.

— You interested me, — Bill Cipher smiles slyly and leans back again in his chair. — And I thought I should visit you. You probably need support…

— Who are you?

To a greater extent the behavior of the interlocutor makes nervous Dipper, not be embarrassed. But probably all the emotions written on his face, so Bill just chuckles and throws her head back, exposing his neck.

The gesture looks so impressively and openly that Pines shyly twitches and deep down curses the transparency of his emotional state.

— You already asked, Pine Three… And as Iʼve said before, itʼs not so important.

— Pine Three? — Dipper wrinkled his nose. — What the.?.. Oh, fine. Itʼs really not important. In this case… Why do you come to me? We barely know each other and donʼt lie that youʼre just a good Samaritan.

— What you donʼt like the version with the good Samaritan? Quite a utopian…

— Iʼm not a fan of utopias. Besides, only a fool would believe in your kindness and selflessness after our first meeting, and…

— And youʼre not a fool, — Bill ends with a phrase for him and again smiling broadly.

Dipper embarrassed again and turns away. The hall is filled with a quiet hum — it seems that the idea of belonging Bill, came to everyoneʼs liking. And suddenly he catches himself thinking that he was a few minutes more or less carefree talking with an absolutelly complete stranger. Without awkward pauses and nervous shuffling in his head «what about can I talking this man?». Without clear embarrassment and desire to hide under the covers. Pines glances furtively at Cipher, who continued to lie on the chair and looks at him from under his eyelashes, but then again he shifts his gaze to the floor.

— Then… why?

Bill leans in again to him. Dipper even think that in his yellow eyes raging furious the flames. In indecent yellow eyes.

— I need a friend.

***

— Dip-Dip, are you listening to me?!

— Yes, Mabel… Err, what were you saying? — feel like a fool. Every time I feel like a fool, when I forget to listen to Mabel.

The sister purses her lips and turns away.

— No offense, sis, I just have a headache.

The head and the truth hurts. Chemotherapy makes itself felt. If after the first time I could still stand on my feet and can understand human speech, now I didnʼt need any friends except antiemetic pills and toilet. Mother and Mabel came to me of time, when the chemotherapy began and all this two hours spent with me. Then mom left and Mabel decided to stay until the end of clinic hours.

«I need a friend».

— Iʼm not offended at all… — sister gets off of the bed and sits down on a chair, laying her head on my lap. — Just… Well, you tell me immediately, if you are tired. Iʼm constantly talking. You are silent, and it seems to me that everything is fine.

— No, Iʼm tired not of you. Just chemoteraphy, — I shrug and awkwardly put my hand on her hair.

Mabel immediately perks up and smiles widely to me.

— You were at group today?

— Yeah, I was…

— So how? Itʼs like in those movies about alcoholics? There they pray to God, and yet give tokens for abstinence, — she grins.

And I grins too.

— Of course not. I thought so too at first. Nothing special, — pause. — I was silent all the time.

— Who the hell will cure your sick head, bro. That is, the group are absolutely useless?

— Well… they have a certain charm.

Iʼm getting a nasty attack of laryngeal cough and bent in half.

— Sorry, Mabel, I have…

Iʼm trying was going to fall out of bed and rush to the toilet, but sister confidently hands me a special bowl for vomit. I donʼt like this idea and with greater joy I would prefer to be alone with the same toilet, but too late.

Donʼt want Mabel saw me in this condition. Not nice, this is not nice. Would be better if she left. Let physically her presence eases my condition, spiritually her presence ripping me apart from the pain.

— You… Are you okay? — quietly she asks, gently patting me on the back. — Water to bring?

— Yes, I… I will be grateful.

She leaves. I helplessly tumbled on the pillow. Somehow now my mindʼs obsessive circling the idea that without chemo it would have been much easier. This idea is stupid, so every time I push away this thought.

But instead in their place come thoughts about Bill Cipher. And I donʼt even know which is worse. «I need a friend». It puts me in a deadlock. When he said it, I was so surprised that just opened my mouth. After he whispered in my ear: «On Monday, Balfour-road, at twelve-thirty at night, under the light. Decide, Pine Three.», and went.

I mean, not that I was surprised. Just donʼt fucking understand. What should I decide?

In the very midst of the thinking process in walked Mabel with a glass of water. She sat back on the chair and held the glass out to me.

I gratefully nodded and took a few sips.

— Iʼm probably going. You need to sleep. Iʼll bring you tomorrow some movies and a DVD player.

— Come on, stay a little longer, — I muttered into the glass.

Mabel squinted.

— You really want this? Or you say it that not to offend to me?

— If I had the right to vote, Iʼd have to give you the second bed for a week.

Sister pretty smiled and spun around on the chair.

— Maybe I read you something?

— Yeah. Itʼs would be good.

Mabel began to fuss, began to rummage in my disassembled the backpack and again said something, but I didnʼt listen.

My head is spinning this heinous «decide», and I could not get rid of thit idea.