Chapter 8: The Scent of Quarantine Wings in a Hospital

Steve huddled in the waiting room, a toxic cup of coffee clutched in his shaking hands. He'd been kicked out. The doctor had come up, yelled at the nurse (who, in his opinion, deserved to be yelled at), and then told him that they were taking Drew to the psych ward to put him on suicide watch, and only family was allowed. His arguments that he was pretty much family didn't get very far when Drew was on the other side of the glass screaming at him to stay away.

The worst part was that the nurse had lied to him: the hospital might keep Drew for up to three days, depending on whether the psychiatrist thought he was a "danger to himself."

Okay, so he was lying. The worst part was that Drew had tried to kill himself, and it had something to do with him.

I killed myself to get away from you, you bastard.

Those words haunted him. What had he done? He knew their relationship had moved fast, but . . . . Maybe he was kidding himself that they even had a relationship. All they'd ever done was fuck. It was good, hell, it was heaven, but maybe to Drew that was all it was. A fuck, quick and dirty. Maybe Drew hadn't even admitted to himself that he was gay. Maybe he hated this thing with Steve because it forced him to deal with his homosexuality. Maybe . . . maybe trying to guess what had happened would make Steve go crazy. He could get himself committed to the psych ward, and then at least they'd be together and he could ask Drew what the hell happened, and what was so wrong with Steve that he'd rather die than face the possibility of something happening between them.

God, he'd been so stupid. Bringing him pizza and bad horror movies, rushing back to see him, like Drew gave a damn what he did.

He took a sip of the coffee, grimaced, threw it away, and buried his face in his hands.

He should have noticed something was wrong.

Drew felt completely and utterly calm. Steve was gone, drug away in front of his very eyes, and his entire being was focused on one goal: to get out of the hospital as quickly as possible so he could go home and kill himself properly.

The doctor was a kindly old man, with wire-rimmed bifocals and gray hair that faded into white at his temples. He smiled, and Drew had the sudden urge to tell him everything. But he didn't.

It was time to test his acting skills.

"So what's been going on, Drew? Have you been feeling upset lately? Depressed, different, not yourself?"

"Yeah," he admitted, flashing a vulnerable look at the doc. "I've just felt so worthless, like nothing good will ever happen to me and there's nothing left, you know, nothing to live for. After Steve broke up with me, I just--"

"The man in the hall?" Doctor Abrams interjected, looking interested.

Drew bit back a bitter smile. Just like butter. Throw in a glimpse of what they think they already know, and you've got 'em, hook, line, and sinker.

"Yeah. He told me last night that he thought we should see other people. I-I don't want to see anyone else. I know he's the one for me. But he said that, and I just -- I j-just lost it. I didn't sleep all night, and I was crying and pacing and I wanted to call him, like, twenty times."

"And did you?" the doctor encouraged gently. He really was a good doctor.

"No," he whispered, looking away. "I didn't want him to think I was pathetic. I felt pathetic, but I didn't want him to know I was, so I thought I'd just sleep it off and stay away from him for awhile and then he'd realize that he missed me. But I couldn't sleep. So I went to the bathroom, and I took a couple of my roommate's sleeping pills, and then I thought, I'll just sleep forever, you know? What does it matter. So I-I j-just kept swallowing them!"

The room was silent for a minute. Drew was reliving the actual moment, the actual decision. He'd thought he'd made it that morning, when he woke up and started to plan everything out. But really he'd made it again and again, with each mouthful of pills. He couldn't stop the tear that slid down his cheek.

"I-I didn't really want to die," he whispered, sniffling. "I just wanted the pain to go away. I didn't want to hurt any more." He met the doctor's empathetic eyes. "I don't want to die."

Maybe he was a better actor than even he realized.

Because he was beginning to convince himself.

Steve stood up as Drew's doctor approached.

"How is he?" he demanded, resisting the need to shake the only person who was keeping him from knowing for himself.

"He's sleeping," the doctor replied briskly. "I understand you're the one who brought him in?"

Steve nodded.

The doctor's face softened. "You did good, getting him here that quick." He sighed. "I usually wouldn't be telling you this, but he won't authorize us to contact his parents, and he needs someone to be there for him. He's on suicide watch right now, which means that we're going to have someone with him, watching him, every moment for the next twenty-four hours."

"Not that nurse that was here before?" He narrowed his eyes. She could convince anyone they didn't want to live any more.

"No. Someone else. We'll probably keep him here a couple days, just to make sure he's okay, but at this point we're not going to commit him. You should go home and get some sleep."

Steve fidgeted. "Doctor, I'm the only one he has. I mean, his parents are hours away, and I've never seen him talk to them. He doesn't have that many close friends. His roommate's in Hawaii. I -- I don't want to leave him all alone."

The doctor nodded.

"Can I -- can I see him?"

Pause. "Tell you what. The next time he wakes up, if he's calm, I'll let you in and give you two some privacy for a few minutes. But just a few. Then you'll have to leave and let us take care of him."

Drew looked up as Steve walked into his room. Fear warred with apathy in his stomach. He knew he was safe, nothing could happen in the hospital, but some responses were too bone-deep to be rational.

"What do you want?" he whispered. If he lost his cool they would keep him longer. He could handle this.

He was shocked to see tears in his rapist's eyes.

"What happened, Drew? I don't understand. I thought everything was fine, and suddenly we're in the hospital and you tried to kill yourself and you're saying it's because of me? I know I'm not the cuddliest guy in the world, or the smartest, but what did I do that was so bad it drove you that far?"

Drew stared at him, and fear won out. His heart stopped. His blood seemed to freeze in his veins. His muscles started to twitch and move on their own. His death wish tripled in strength.

Because Steve was telling the truth. He had no idea what was going on. Drew knew acting, and no one could pull off a face like that.

The scenes flashed through his head, one after another, like they had so many times before. But this time, instead of focusing on Steve's actions, he concentrated on his own.

Steve called, and he came. Steve touched, and he laid back. Steve spoke, and he stayed silent. He never, not once, not even for a second, said no.

He closed his eyes and convulsed into sobs.

Dimly, he was aware of a dejected Steve turning toward the door.

"Steve," he croaked past the lump in his throat. The bigger man flashed him a hopeful look. "I never said yes."

Steve gave him a puzzled look, obviously wracking his brain as the nurse came in and ushered him to the door.

Just as the door closed behind him, he spun around and stared at Drew through the window. As their eyes met, Steve's went wide and his entire body flashed white.

They were even. For what it was worth.