|I Feel You, Man
Author: Nish the Anglerfish PM
Not knowing you're intuitive and empathic can be a dangerous thing. It almost cost Micah his life. Now, he's back from make-shift rehab and going to college. But, even though he's more aware, he's less willing to leave his dorm. Will his roommate be enough to convince him that people aren't monsters or will he go into isolation? Slash, mentions of drugs and self-harm, language.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Drama - Chapters: 29 - Words: 98,853 - Reviews: 84 - Favs: 44 - Follows: 67 - Updated: 02-02-13 - Published: 09-17-12 - id: 3059074
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I was crouched down in one of the isles of the convenience store, looking through medical bandages. I didn't really think it would matter which one I picked simply because, in the past, I didn't care which one I used. Then again, I only thought the pain was mine. So, basically, since I wasn't the one who was actually hurt, it made sense that the bandage itself hadn't mattered. Now, with Darell's injury, maybe all my medical expertise was worth crap.
I looked up to see where the blond had disappeared to. Even after craning my neck, he was out of sight, so I quickly grabbed one at random, along with an icepack, and hurriedly headed to the register. I know I was being sneaky, but I couldn't just say "Oh, yeah, I'm buying stuff for your hurt ankle that you didn't tell me about!" No, I couldn't do that, not when the athlete himself was questioning my every move. Hell, he'd probably think me sneezing was a conspiracy!
I had wanted to grab some junk food as a cover-up, but hesitated when seeing the brightly colored bags. No matter how delicious potato chips were, they always managed to make me sick. Damn you, tasty chemicals! God, I wished my body wasn't so sensitive! So, instead I just paid for my purchase and waited for the blond to catch up to me.
And then, something caught my eye.
Oh! Oh, my Lord! Those were…Those were silicone patches!
I know it's weird to get excited over spotting something like that, but, being in public with my arms stiffly by my side and seeing a box that said "I can solve all your problems" was enough to make my eyes shine and my feet move in its direction. Of course, that's the exact moment the blue eyed basketball player had decided to show up, so I quickly turned around, and marched toward him.
But, don't think I gave up that quickly. No, I had my eyes set on that thing, and I'd buy it sooner or later, even if it meant creeping out of the dorms in the middle of the night!
"So, what'd you get?" I asked the tall jock beside me as we walked out the store.
Silicone, silicone, silicone!
Blue eyes looked down at me and then at the bag in his hands.
"Nothing, really. Just some soda."
Silicone, silicone, silicone!
"That's cool! So, do you want to…" Silicone! Silicone! Silicone! "Oh, damnit!"
The blond beside me jumped.
"I dropped my wallet!"
"What? Do you need help finding it?" The concern in his voice was enough to make me feel guilty.
"Oh, that's fine. Just wait here. I'll be right back!"
I hurriedly waved at him and dashed back into the store.
Oh, my God, I must have been crazy if I was acting so obsessed. But, I don't really expect anyone to understand why this was so important. You see, if I could get rid of my scars, maybe I could wear short sleeves again. Maybe I could go to the beach without my family flinching at the sight of my arm. And, if in the future I could get a good handle on my empathic ability, maybe I could freely hang out with my friends. Maybe I wouldn't have to worry about rolling up my sleeves in the workplace. Maybe I wouldn't be afraid of exposing my arm to children. Maybe I could find that special someone and…you know…get intimate with them…
Rushing down the specific aisle, I stopped at the end and shifted through a couple of heating packs before spotting it. Oh, thank goodness! For some reason, I was so scared that there'd be a sudden rush of silicone-patch enthusiasts and that everything would be gone! I clutched the box to my chest, as if it were precious. It was. Mom had refused to buy this stuff because she wanted to show me that my actions weren't something to be ashamed of. As wonderful as her thoughts were, I don't think she fully understood the distress I had to go through before I toughened up. And I didn't know when, or if, I'd ever toughen up. But, that's just another price to pay…
My heart was soaring as I walked to the register. I guess I was too caught up in my joy that I'd gotten carried away. When, I handed the cashier my purchase, it was with my left arm.
You should have seen how stiff the girl behind the register had become at the sight of nine parallel lines going across my forearm. She visibly paused before grabbing the box. Even when looking at the silicone, she winced. I really didn't want to be empathic as I stood there, waiting for her to finish.
The religious ones were always fun. And, as I paid for my little miracle box, I wished I had a hood to cover my face. Becoming a puddle didn't sound so bad after all, especially when she was throwing so much revulsion and horror my way. I quickly grabbed it before she could ask if I wanted a bag and sped toward the door, shoving the box in the plastic bag with the medical bandages.
I wasn't gone long enough for Darell to come poking around, but when I saw him push off the brick wall he'd been leaning against, it was clear that he had picked up on my abrupt change in mood.
"Hey, what's up?" he asked, as I walked past him. I didn't reply for some time. Emanating concern, he simply followed me. Obviously, I wasn't doing a good job of keeping my cool.
"Nothing…" I belatedly mumbled, but it was clear he wasn't buying it. We walked side by side in silence for about five minutes until we reached a small park. That's when he grabbed my arm and pulled me to a bench. On the way there I was having a panic attack at the feeling of his tight grip. Why was it that without sleeves every little thing felt like a huge deal?
More silence ensued as we sat down and I didn't have the heart to break it, not when thoughts of how disgusting I was kept swirling in my head. And, that's when he yawned loud enough to break my eardrums. I jumped, shocked out of my mental rants. He stretched his arms and legs dramatically before collapsing like a melted heap against the wooden bench.
"It's so nice out here," he mumbled, grinning like a fool.
I had to give him props for sounding genuinely enthused, with his brilliant eyes and his content smile. Just like a fat, lazy cat. Oh, God, if I could just soak him up, maybe the world would be a brighter place. Right now, it was dark and hazy and constantly swirling with opposites and extremes. Too happy, too angry, too sad, too confused…All this, all at once. Even the granny that had just wobbled by had to pitch in with her arthritis. And I, the disgusting freak, sat there beside someone who was radiating warmth like the fucking sun! And, I know that I should have just leaned into him or grabbed his sleeve to feel better, but all I could think of was how clean he was and how, well, not clean I was.
With these thoughts I looked down at the blue shirt. Another thing contaminated. I couldn't return it to him. Not now. Not when it had me all over it. I'd probably have to drown it in saltwater or something. Oh, this was hopeless…
My head fell into my hands, and I hadn't realized I'd adopted such a pathetic pose until I felt someone rubbing my back in soothing circles. Darell…
"It's all your fault," I muttered without looking up. But I wasn't convincing anyone.
I knew he didn't believe me, but my comment made him feel awkward. He didn't stop his comforting, which I was thankful for, but, at the same time, I was being consumed with doubt. His doubt.
I could have yelled at him, "Yes, you moron, continue! I don't want you to stop," but that would have been counter-productive. Oh, it would have been exhausting! I already felt tired enough as it was.
After a minute or more of this, I couldn't handle having all this attention on me. Sure, it was kind and gentle, but I'd had my fill. Any more and I'd burst! So, I sat up straight, rubbed my eyes and inhaled deeply. Then, with a determined look I turned to the blond. He was examining me to see if I really was fine or if I was simply faking it. Like he could ever actually tell…
"Alright, your turn!" I nodded towards him before searching through my bag for the bandages. I had intended on hiding it from him, but I felt the need to help the guy out. Or, were those his emotions I was acting on? I couldn't distinguish anymore.
Of course, he cocked his head to the side, confused about what I was referring to, and, at any other time, I would have gone along with it. But, not now. Now, I was absolutely miserable. I hadn't wanted anyone to see my arm. I hadn't wanted to feel her reaction. I hadn't wanted to have someone comfort me, because that only meant that I needed to be comforted, which meant I'd been hurt. I hadn't wanted to be hurt. I just wanted for there to be love and compassion and caring and healing. Good God, this entire world could use some healing! And, I know that it sounds like hippie crap, but, for all that is holy, I needed some hippy crap in my life!
And with all these thought rushing through my head, I pointed to his foot and commanded, "Your ankle. Give it to me." There was no hate or anger in my voice. Just impatience. Nonetheless, he froze in his seat, staring at me with those ocean blue eyes like I'd suddenly grown a second head. And as he opened his mouth to say something, I immediately interrupted him by grabbing his leg and pulling it onto my lap.
Bandages in hand, I started at the toes and began wrapping the material around in a figure eight formation, just like my mom, the medical expert, had taught me. I occasionally asked him if it was too tight or if it hurt, but he only shook or nodded his head. His voice had probably been stolen by some invisible supernatural force. Either that or my stern look was not to be messed with. When I was done, I placed his foot back on his sandal and turned away, completely ignoring him.
But, what had I been expecting? The blond, with his tousled hair and his restless eyes, kept shooting me amazed glances. Instead of staring at me, it would have been better for him to close his mouth before flies wandered in there. My thoughts never reached him and he started pointing from his leg to me before finally speaking.
"You…? What…? How did you know?"
Very original. Like he'd never asked me that before…
But, I turned to him with a blank expression and replied, "Just because it was barely twisted, doesn't mean you shouldn't check up on it. It could have been a sprain."
"And, you know this how?"
"Observation and basic treatment."
He narrowed his eyes, ready to extract information from me, but I wouldn't let him. Not here. Not when there were people just walking by. Not when I felt so vulnerable after that scene at the convenience store.
"I want to go home…" If I had known I'd sound so pained, I wouldn't have said a word. I felt the jock beside me tense and I stood up before he had any time to think about my tone of voice. "Come on, let's go," I said and put my hand out for him to pull himself up. He wasn't that hurt, but he silently accepted, wrapping his fingers around mine and getting up with little effort.
We were halfway back to the dorm when I realized I still hadn't let go of his hand. I should have been embarrassed, but I wasn't because he wasn't. Or rather, because he was so calm about it, I was too. And, even though it didn't feel weird to be walking hand-in-hand with my male roommate, I let my hand slip away from his due to the public's awareness.
But, you're fooled if you think I completely backed off. Instead, I grabbed onto the edge of his T-shirt and trailed awkwardly beside him, focusing solely on his emotions. You see, if I tuned into him enough, I'd end up blocking everyone else out. It's like blasting your radio to drown out the noise in the back seat. And, even though he was a bit uncomfortable at first, he didn't say anything until we reached the dorm entry.
That's where he pulled my hand away from him and narrowed his eyes at me, knowingly.
"You're not getting out of this," he said. "I don't care if you sleep or pout or cry."
I nodded at his words because I didn't like the consequences if I hadn't. I watched him as he turned around and my eyes followed his broad back as he ascended to the second floor.
"You're telling me everything," he shouted at me, startling me into following him.
Yeah, I probably would…