A Thousand Words - carleton97

Written for the T.S. Eliot challenge.

There is a time for evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.

from "East Coker"

It was about two hours past late. Even the perpetual machine noises of the long-term care wing seemed muted at this hour and, no matter how many times he crept down the halls after midnight, the hollow quiet never failed to sent a chill up Tim's spine.

Even as far past visiting hours as it was, Tim knew none of the night nurses would hassle him. They were used to his nocturnal visits by now and a couple would even sneak cans of Coke and snacks in to him when he looked particularly exhausted. Tonight was no different; less than five minutes after he settled himself by David's bedside, Holly appeared at his elbow with a Coke and a homemade turkey sandwich. She waved away his thanks and checked David's IV before closing the door behind her.

Tim drained half the soda, hoping the caffeine would be enough to keep him going long enough for a visit with David, then the trip back to school. He'd already been up for thirty-six hours, but knew he could go another six before the situation got truly dire. He hadn't been planning on driving to Syracuse tonight, but even though midterms were over, he just couldn't seem to relax in his dorm room.

He knew what his problem was, though.

It was the package from his mom. He tried to tell himself she was only trying to help, that she didn't know exactly how much David meant to him, but he had to wonder what the hell she was thinking sending him *that* the week of midterms. He had opened the photo album without thinking, figuring she was sending along pictures of his little brother, and had very nearly thrown up in the middle of the student union at the image of David smiling up at him.

He was pretty sure tossing the album into the corner of his room and burying himself in his schoolwork wasn't the most mature response, but god, seeing David whole and happy like that when Tim knew he was lying in a hospital bed was just too much for him. He had sequestered himself in the library, studying for his history and english exams until he knew the material well enough to teach the class. Then he pretty much locked himself in the lab and worked on his paralysis study until he felt like he could breathe without screaming.

At least his advisor had been happy with the results of his retreat. She had practically drooled when he had shown her his latest batch of test results, but he knew he wasn't close enough to an answer. To helping David.

Tim shifted in the uncomfortable chair and ran his fingers over the pale skin of David's hand. It was cool to the touch and he frowned as he gently maneuvered it under the blanket. It always seemed so cold in this room. Tim scrubbed his hands over his face, leaning forward to rest his head against the edge of the bed. He was tired. He was tired and he missed his best friend. David had been like this for over a year now, paralyzed and fully conscious less than half the time.

He shifted again and his backpack fell against his leg, the sharp corner of the photo album digging into his calf. He pulled it out of his bag and rubbed at the leather cover. He hadn't opened it after the first time and he wasn't even sure why he had brought it along tonight; it had just ended up in his bag. Steeling himself, he flipped through the pages, picture after picture of David laughing and studying and swimming and living and - oh. Oh, god.

He didn't know his mother had taken any pictures that day.

She must have been making sure the camera worked before she had dragged his dad and Pete off to some sorority reunion in Middlebury, leaving him and David alone for the first time that weekend. The first time he'd gotten drunk. The first time David had kissed him. The first time anyone else had touched him.

Tim traced his fingers over the outline of the two of them in the picture. Their bodies were pressed together on the breakfast nook bench and their heads were tipped towards each other over the chemistry book on the table. When Tim closed his eyes, he could remember how warm and solid David felt leaning against him, how he smelled like sunshine and bleach, the sound of his voice as he talked himself through the steps of the chemical reaction.

How could his mother look at that picture and not see what they were to each other? Tim closed the photo album with a muffled thump and dropped it back into his bag. He couldn't look at it anymore and actually thought it was a little morbid to be looking at pictures of a healthy David while the real boy was slowly -

No. David was going to be fine. He had to be.


Created and maintained by carleton97.

Email me with me with comments and feedback