Chapter 15: Ethan

"You two need to get up." I heard my mother's voice through the door.

I didn't know when we managed to get from the living room to my bed, but here we were, the comforter tangled around our feet.
I groaned, burrowing my face into my pillow. "Up is not a good idea." I looked over at Billy, his bruises and scrapes looked worse in the morning light. I reached over and touched his chest tentatively, wincing at the discolored bruises. I pulled my fingers back as if burned as Billy moaned at the contact.

"Don't look at 'em." It was almost a whisper, his voice raspy from crying.

I cuddled closer to him, draping an arm across his chest and burrowed into his warmth as close as I could. The touch of his skin was electric, no, something more than that and I couldn't help but catch my breath. I propped myself up an elbow and gently lay my head on his chest, hearing the muted thump of his heart. "It's time to get up."

His groan was pitiful.

"Can't we just lay here?" He whined as he slipped an arm under me and pulled me tighter against him, his face a grimace of pain. "Just you and me." He reached down and pulled the comforter over us, the extra motion causing him to catch his breath. He let it out slowly, nudging the top of my head with his chin.

"I wish, but…" I made sniffing noises. "You stink."

Billy laughed. "Owwww…don't make me laugh. It hurts."
"Come on." I teased. "I'll get your hard to reach places."

"I think they're all gonna be hard to reach this morning." He groaned as he rolled towards me and lifted himself to a sitting position.
I helped him up, even though it was obvious he didn't need help, but he leaned on me anyway. I felt his lips play across the back of my neck, sending a shiver down my spine. His boxers were tented.

"Oh, good morning!" I reached down, pulling at his boxers and grabbed him, his moan putting a smile on my face.

"Trying to take advantage of me in my weakened state?" His grin was silly.

"I don't thin..." I felt his hand slip into the back of my boxers and cup my left cheek. "...ahem...I don't think..."

My mother knocked on the door interrupting me. She opened it hesitantly. Billy sat back down on my bed and pulled a comforter over his crotch, smiling sheepishly.

"Thirty minutes and you're off to school."

We both groaned.

"None of that." She looked at Billy "I know you don't want to go, but I think it's best if you do." She pushed the door open further and tossed me a couple of towels. "Ethan, you go first. I want to talk to Billy."

I looked at Billy and then back at my mother.

"Go on." She walked in and sat on the bed next to Billy.
I sighed and moseyed my way to the bathroom, walking slow so I could over hear the conversation. I waited by the bathroom door trying to eavesdrop but my mother was on to me.

"Ethan!"

"Okay. Okay."

I was fixing my hair in the mirror when Billy came into the bathroom, a smile on his face as he looked at me, taking in the towel wrapped around my waist and the inquisitive look on my face. "What'd she say?"

"Nothin'. She just asked me how I was feeling. If anything really hurt. Checked my bruises. Told me I needed to take things carefully for the next couple of days." The blush on his face told me what she was referring to which caused me to blush in embarrassment. "I wish." Billy looked down at his hands. "I wish my mother was more like..."
I grabbed him in a hug. He wrapped his arms around me, his hands cold on my back, his nose cold on my neck, his hair tickling my ear.

"Okay." I made sniffing noises again. "You reallllllly need to take a shower." I gave him a quick kiss and left him in front of the mirror.

The crash from the bathroom had me up and running before I could even think. I opened the door and looked in and saw Billy on the floor His body was jerking, his eyes rolled back.

"MOM!" I screamed at the top of my lungs. T-Rex barked from my sister's room and I heard him scampering on the wooden floor. I dropped to my knees. "Billy. Billy. No. No. No. No. No." I pulled him into a hug holding him to my chest. "Mom Something's wrong with Billy!"

It felt like forever before my mother was at my side. She took him from me, laying him flat on his back, pulling a pile of towels from the cabinet, using one for a pillow and the rest she used to cover him up. "Get your phone. Call 911"
"What's wrong with him?"
"Get your phone!" She pulled open his jaw and tried to keep him from biting his tongue. She grimaced as he bit down on her fingers.
I ran for my phone, scared when I couldn't find it. I threw my sheets and comforter on the floor, crawled around on the floor on my knees for what seemed like an eternity before I remembered it was in the pocket of my jeans. I punched the numbers as I ran back to the bathroom.

"Yeah, we need an ambulance...I dunno...he fell or something. He was in the bathroom and I heard a crash and I went in there and he was on the floor jerking around...I dunno...Mom is he conscious?" My mother shook her head wiping the hair from his forehead.

"Let me talk to them."

I handed her the phone and dropped down to my knees next to Billy. I held his hand as my mom talked to the 911 operator. I didn't realize I was crying, but tears blurred my vision as I looked back and forth between Billy and my mom.

Time seemed to crawl as we waited for the ambulance but finally I heard the siren and jumped and ran down the stairs to open the door. I waited on the porch.

"Where is he?"

I directed them upstairs and to the bathroom.

My mother stepped back out of the way and we both watched as they went to work on Billy.

I was sitting with my mother as the doctor walked down the corridor towards us. He carried a clipboard which he scribbled on as he walked towards us. My mother stood up, letting go of my hand as the doctor approached.

"I spoke with Billy's mother and she has given me permission to discuss Billy's condition. I can tell you he's going to be fine. It appears as though there was a thrombosis...a blood clot Its fortunate that you were there when it happened or things might not have turned out as well." He studied his clipboard. "We have him on blood thinners to prevent any further clots from forming." He looked up at my mother. "Billy's mother told me about the ah...altercation with his father, which I believe resulted in the formation of the clot. I'm going keep him in overnight for observation, just to be on the safe side."
My mother nodded as he spoke, her relief evident on her face. I gulped in air, not realizing I was holding my breath as he spoke.
"Can we go in and see him."
The doctor smiled and nodded. "Of course. He's probably sleeping and ..."
I didn't hear much more as I raced to Billy's room. I pulled the door open, trying to be quiet. I looked in and stopped dead in my tracks. He looked terrible. His bruises were even worse in the stark brightness of the hospital room. The IV drip, the beeping monitors, I didn't know what to do. I crept in quietly and sat next to the bed and took Billy's hand. He stirred quietly but continued sleeping. I tried to will him awake, to open his eyes. I wanted to see him smile.
I heard a toilet flush and looked up startled as Billy's mother stepped from the private bathroom. She stopped midstep when she saw me.
"You shouldn't be in here. He needs his rest." She looked at her son and her eyes betrayed an inner struggle. I wonder if she blamed me.
"The doctor said..."
"I know." I watched her sink into the chair next to the window, watched her pull a tissue from the box on the little nightstand and wad it in her grip. She looked at me her eyes shining with tears. "You saved him. I'm his mother and I... Nearly lost him. The things I said. What you must think of me."
I watched her. She straightened her back and glanced out the window, steeling her resolve to continue.
"I knew. About him. About you and him." She gave me a small smile. "Then summer came and it was over...I thought it was a phase. I was so relieved. Even after I noticed how it affected him. How he hurt."
I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes began to water.
"But it was for the best. His father..." She shook her head. "Billy wouldn't talk to me about it. About you. But I knew. A mother knows her children...child. I just hoped."
I felt Billy squeeze my hand. I had forgotten I had taken it. I squeezed it back, not looking at him. I felt another set of eyes on me and looked back and saw my mother in the doorway. Billy's mother stood up then and went to my mother and gave her a hug.
"Thank you for taking care of him." I looked away, embarrassed at seeing her cry in my mother's arms. I couldn't even imagine what she was feeling and thinking. I looked back at Billy. His eyes were open and he looked at me for a moment and then they fluttered closed again. I squeezed his hand again and saw the hint of a smile play across his lips and it was all I could do not to cry.
I turns around and both of our mothers were gone.
"Thirsty."
I looked back. Billy was looking at me again. I got up, letting go of his hand hesitantly and poured him a cup of water. I held it so he could drink from the straw. I watched his lips working on the straw, they looked dry. He drank till there was nothing left and the straw noises filled the quiet of the room.
"Will you ... Hold me?"
He took the thoughts right out of my head and I climbed into the bed gingerly, wrapping my arms around him. He felt warm to the touch and images of waking up this morning flashed through my head, how he seemed perfectly fine. He sighed as I settled comfortably next to him and kissed the top of my head. I couldn't help what I said next as the scent of teenage boy filling my senses.
"Boy, you'd do anything to get out of taking a shower."
I felt more than heard him laughing.

#

We woke to the sound of Katie making a scene out in the hallway and while we couldn't see her, it was easy to imagine an orderly trying to keep her in his grips as she fought to get into the room. Then she was here, short of breath, pulling on her blouse and making herself presentable.

"Seriously, when someone says get a room, this is not what they mean."
I smiled and looked at Billy. His grin was stronger.
"It's about time you got here."
"You scared me half to death. No one called me." She gave me a look filled with accusation then back at Billy. "Are you okay?"
Billy made a thumbs up sign with his free hand and then let it drop against his stomach.
"Im gonna need more that that."
"I'm fine Katie." His voice was hoarse. He grimaced.
"You look horrible." She tried to sound light hearted, but the look of concern on her face spoke volumes.
"I'm fine. They're gonna keep me here over night for observation and then I can go home tomorrow."
"Home? Home where. Not home home, right?"
"I dunno."
Katie wrung her hands.
Truth be told I truly thought he would be coming home with me. But we didn't know what was going to happen. I hoped that my mother could persuade Billy's that he could stay with us. But part of me remembered her tears and couldn't help but think she would want him home with her. To make up for everything and that part of me thought that that was the right thing to do. No matter how much I wanted him home with me.