"You need stitches, Lucas."
"WHAT?!" The horror in his voice resounded in the small examination room.
"Litteken-?! NO, no, no– you won't be marring this face with Frankenstein's mein– ECHT niet–!!"
"It will look much worse if you don't get them."
"–Listen to him," Nina nudged her brother with concern. "And don't worry. Scars are sexy." An edge of playfulness attempting to lighten the mood.
"Sinds wanneer–?!" Lucas whipped his head around, locks of mussed white gold tickling his brow, contrasting his usual sculpted peaks. A bloody gash expressed his short-comings. His bold blue eyes were wide with disbelief.
"People love war stories– and you don't have to go to war to be verwond." Nina's efforts to reassure her brother and calm his state with a simple truth prove successful.
"Well.. I suppose I can think of something.." He scanned the dishevelled heap of limbs on the bench across from him with subdued animosity. A nest of chestnut curls licked the young man's neck and brow, an oversized jacket and loose coal jeans masked his physique, one worn black boot sinking the edge of the padded platform. His body language was casual, yet guarded. An elder nurse tried to tend his bloody nose, but he pulled away.
Apart from Noud's dark coat draped over his shoulders, in a pastel hued polo and tan chinos, Lucas' garb was the antithesis of the injured buck. Drops and smears of burgundy blood, scuffs of grime and shadows of soot now stained his pristine visage, lending a rebellious layer to his style.
"Now, then," the doctor began, "which one of you fine young gentlemen want to share with us how you came to be bruised and bloodied in my exam room at two in the morning on a Sunday avond, hmm..?" He folded his arms and stood surveilling his two patients.
"Look who I bumped into–" Noud appeared in the doorway with a tray of caffeine and a tall handsome fellow who proceeded to scooch past him and come to stand by the doctor.
"–Are you okay??" the new brunette jongen asked with quiet urgency, worry gleaming in his hazel eyes. He surveyed the sullied candyman who gaped at him, stupefied. Lucas couldn't find the words.
"–He'll live," Nina offered, shooting a venomous look to the unnamed derelict youth.
"Ice, rest, and a sobering word about the dangers of indulging in a hormone-fuelled gevecht," added the doctor, "–and steken." He nodded to Lucas before leaving the room, one of the nurses following him out.
"Borduren–??" the schoon, alpine boy queried, stepping forward, then checking his impulse to reach for Lucas' grazed jaw. Lucas twitched at the thought, a dilatant gaze at the face of his caller, full chapped lips parting in ardor.
"I'm FINE–!!" The grungey malcontent jerked away from the senior nurse. She inflated, muttered something under her breath, and vacated the room.
"What the hell did you DO–!?" The handsome visitor motioned suddenly towards the drudge. Noud held him back.
"Your Vriendje started it–!!" He barked at the charge. The latecomer jerked out of Noud's grasp.
"Edwin–!" Lucas lunged forward to prevent the blunder and winced, curling over, and falling sideways, lids clamping shut in pain.
Edwin caught him, guiding him back against the table, fear eclipsing the anger that blazed in his eyes in the moment passed. Lucas' breath shuddered in exhale, his side ached stiff from the hasty feat.
"Lucas..?" Edwin followed his movements. Lucas felt strong hands steady his shoulders, and blinked to find a beautiful face before him, close to his.. within kissing range.. just lean in.. He suppressed the thought.
"..I started it," Lucas admitted. He looked to the others. "It was stom– but it's my fault, OK?" There was unrest in his voice. His foe was silent.
"What do you mean–? Why would you hit him?!" Nina's tone was judgemental, as if her brother's opponent wasn't worth a passing glance, let alone a fight. She expected input from her brother's victim, the want for an explanation as well as they did, but he kept his words. It seemed he already knew why, and didn't care to share.
Lucas refused to answer, urging them all to just drop it, while trying to calmly persevere against his sister's untamed approach to uncover the truth. He understood her frustration, but he did not want for collateral damage. Here, and now, was not the place or time– his company deserved better.
The effect of not knowing –of having a fractious, petulant little broer to safeguard despite his own self-destructive wishes– infuriated Nina, and unmet by his cooperation she stormed out of the room, pursued by Noud.
Edwin remained by his friend's side, suspicious of the lone figure and his intentions toward Lucas.
"How bad does it hurt?" Edwin turned his back to block the presence of the threat.
Lucas smiled fondly at the concern shown by his closeted beau.
The nurse returned with a tray of provisions, the doc behind with clipboard and pen.
"You jongens are lucky. Were it anything more serious than a few weefsels and back-tacks I'd have no choice but to report it."
"OH– so my extreme zielepijn is nothing to fuss over. That's nice. Aanvallig. Could've fooled me.."
"So.. we're free to go?" Dark eyes crossed the vista, bounding from doc to Lucas and back to the doc.
"You can go." And with that permit the ruffian broke for the exit, scrunching some blood-muddied gauze to his nose.
Lucas motioned to stand.
"Ah– I'm not done with you yet." The doc signalled for him to park it. "Consider your lijden a lesson learned, hmm?.. Looks to be.. zeven, I think Pam," he said, squeezing into some powdered gloves.
"ZEVEN–?! Hold on, EEN ogenblikje–!" The slap of latex gagged his objection. He gulped.
"It's a lucky number," Edwin stated calmly to allay his fear, a supportive palm on Lucas' back.
"Antiseptic, please Pam."
Edwin noticed the growing unease of his friend. "Are you afraid of naalden..?"
Lucas shifted in his place. "NO," he said in defence, "I've just never been repeatedly jabbed with sharp implements before.."
Pam snickered as she readied the silk and hook.
"Ja– DANK JE, Pam–" Lucas slanted his posture to achieve line-of-sight with the brazen nurse.
The doc swiped ointment over his severed brow.
"I've known you since you were onervaren, Lucas, and you were never afraid of a First. You were always filled with anticipation.." Pam regarded him with discerning eyes, and smiled, handing the doc the tiny saber.
A sigh to compose himself. Circles rubbed gently about his back. Lucas tilted his chin in consent, and closed his eyes.
* * *
The car ride home felt longer than it should have been. Mellow RnB murmured and hummed through the dark winter's night. A muffled CHUga-chugga-CHUgga-chugga of the old engine harmonised with the melody. Nina had fussed getting Lucas settled in the backseat, despite his stubbornness. He sat nestled in the corner, blanket wrapped well around him. She rode up front with her grievance, and Noud at the wheel. Edwin had slid in beside his wounded friend, but as they pulled out of the parking lot he shuffled up to the window, resting his arm upon the door. His eyes brushed over the burnished beauty as he kept his distance in the confined darkness. Lucas observed him with a fatigued sadness, a unique desire. However they had left their last encounter, there now flowed a soothing joy to warm his blood as they rolled on through the a.m., displacing any swell of heartache, or chill of longing, with a thawing comfort: his friend had come to see about his welfare, in the dead of night, after a hurtful conflict so recent between them.. and he was with him, still, and there was a glow in those hazel eyes, a light that cut through the darkness: there was more to come; he wasn't able to stay away– there gleamed hope.
* * *
Lucas had drifted into dreaming..
..He lay in a hospital bed, Edwin at his side, refusing to leave, vowing to be there for him, always.. Lucas smiled, and Edwin leaned down to kiss him..
As the motor was silenced, he felt another hand upon his shoulder.
"Lucas..?" A familiar voice softly sang. He smiled, and lifted his lids to find his sister releasing him from his seatbelt. His eyes wandered in search on Edwin, but the car was empty. Nina helped manoeuvre his battered body through the doorframe and Noud brought him up to his feet, securing the blanket around him. Lucas felt his limbs weaken, and held onto Noud for support.
..Did we take Edwin home?.. Did I dream his presence in the car?..
"Here–" another familiar voice sounded through the dark. A scuffle of footsteps and a favoured face. A dozey smile yawned itself upon Lucas' lips. Edwin replaced Nina by his side as she went ahead to unlock the house.
Making their way slowly up the path, dapper fella on each arm, a fresh agony spread over Lucas' tender marrings as he frowned to remember why that was.
They made it all the way to the living room before Lucas collapsed in a pile of pillows and pain. The migration aggravated his damage, rendering him immobile: stiff and on fire, and not in the good way. He groaned in defeat. "Fuck."
"I think we could all use one of these.." Noud picked up a bottle of something and fetched some crystal, flipping his bruin beaver cut and sinking into the armchair. Lucas straightened himself with another groan, and another grimace, and extended his arm, his mind wandering partway into Candyland, where hair is made of chocolate, and is oh-so-deliciously edible..
"–Uhh, I don't think so, little broer," Nina admonished, with the light thwack of an icepack on his knee. He pouted.
"Best not, makker– those kandij the doc gave you won't play well with this.." Noud let the liquor flow, one for each abled-body present.
The doc had gifted Lucas a few pills to dull his aches and, among other things, help him sleep through the night to repair and revive.
Lucas found himself seated between Ouder Zuster and friend-not-(yet)-minnaar– a cushion clutched in his lap, further barring himself from physical contact. He wondered wearily what Edwin was thinking and, moving forward, what would become of their relationship: ..Will our friendship be restored?.. Will he admit his true feelings for me?.. Why is he still here?.. Could I sneak his booze without him noticing?.. What is tha– why does smell SO verbazingwekkend-??!..
Edwin sipped the dark vloeistof noting in the back of his mind how it resembled the colour of iodine. In the front of his mind –and on the tip of his tongue– he noted its flavour was no different. Though for the night that had been, he wished to scull the lot and keep the bottle.
Lucas nestled back into the plush lounge and turned his attention to Nina, casting a long, thirsty look. She rolled her eyes and lifted her feet to comfort, her russet mane tumbling down her shoulder and over her breast as she released it from its combed prison. She tousled it, and sighed, heavy under her tenured crown.
"You gonna tell us why you hit him, Lucas?" Noud began the inquiry, seeking the answers they all desired.
"Oke, prima. Pour me one and I'll tell you."
"OH– come on! I'm the one who's zwart op blauw-!!"
"Ja– and this– plus those– equals ander hospital visit in EEN nacht– not happening, broer– echt niet-!!"
"Jeez.. look at you getting all ouderlijk when the parentals are away.."
Exasperated, she slammed her glass down on the table and scythed her anger 'round to face him, blasting question after question– spliced with a scolding, and peppering him with harsh yet justified motherly criticism.
"Well what am I left to think– that you get into a vechtpartij with a stranger over a dirty look–?!"
"–He's not a stranger! Okay?!"
"Wh– you know him?!"
Lucas squirmed in his place. Edwin watched on, a spectator on the sidelines. His tincture dwindling, but growing less repulsive with every taste.
"Then why, Lucas–? Why start something that could get you seriously hurt?!"
The truth sank his sight to the floor. He fussed with his shirt.
"We were, uhh.. ..bekenden."
Under less strenuous circumstances Nina would have realised what he was referring to. But the night was long, and the hooch was yet to clear her addled mind.
Reluctant to go into detail, Lucas huffed in displeasure, angled his jaw, and tipped his head, eyes widening at his sister's blind state.
"...OHhhh-(!).." She caught on, and Lucas left it at that.
"So, what'd he do–? Gift you a ziekte?"
His head dropped.
"Wh– druiper?!" Noud also missed the hint.
"That rotzak is– and YOU two–??!"
"Schijt.. It's no big deal! We.. hooked up, a while back..–And tonight, he just– got under my skin, is all.."
Nina empty her lungs in a long sigh, and exchanged a knowing look with Noud.
Relieving little of the burden, Lucas had removed the bale of unknowing from his sister, and let the weight of knowing fall onto his friend. Peering over, he dreaded a sour view. But Edwin was without enmity.
Downing the last of his dose, Edwin leaned forward, skimming Lucas' thigh, and placed his cup in the line for refill.
The atmosphere adjusted in light of the reveal. Nina let herself physically relax, snuggling into the sofa, fondling her glass of dark amber. She noticed her brother's pained expressed, and fished through her purse for his little bottle of pills.
"Here," she placed two chalky pearls in his palm and poured him a glass of water.
The clock over the grand piano read 3.15am. It had been a long night.
"I think it's time to put the verwond to bed."
Noud nodded, and rose with Nina. Edwin finished his drink and scooped an arm down around Lucas' waist without apprehension. He pocketed the pills and helped Lucas to his feet, taking charge, letting his body meld into his.
Outside Amy's room, Nina snuck her love a sly look. Noud cleared his throat as Ed stood tall, a bruised fraaiheid wrapped around his shoulders.
"You've got him from here, right Ed?.. We'll leave you to it."
Edwin bit his lip inwards, and nodded. Nina handed him an icey parcel.
"You're welcome to stay, we've plenty of beds.." she said softly, mischief in her smile, satisfaction in her big brown eyes. She retreated back down the hall, arm snaked about her own lover's waist, weary head resting on his shoulder.
Lucas' taught body moulded itself against Ed's own form. His patient languished in the dim hall-light. Ed turned them to face the bedroom door, twisting the handle and pushing open the entry to the darkened space.
"..You didn't happen to sneak some zuippartij up here with you, did you..?"
Ed chuffed at the wounded boy's dopey ambition, and led him into the shadowed room.