This is a couple from one of my projects that I've accidentally started shipping… Sort of an alternative approach to things compared to the story in which they make an appearance. I've been meaning to get a better grip on Seth's character. I'd call it a character study, but it's not really a character study. More like... an excerpt from an alternative viewpoint of my current obsession, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, gay and interracial relationships, so if for any reason you object to either one of those (or both), please to be going away. Allusions to sex, also, so if that's offensive…

"…How's Matt?"

Surprised, I turn my head upwards from the tile on the floor and part my lips. He looks… Uncertain. I have no idea what to tell him… Not after everything that's gone down, not after everything that's happened.

"I don't know." I sound raspy, deadly. I'm not surprised.

My fingers tighten on my cane, turning to look back at the floor. He settles next to me with a sigh, reaching forward and resting his fingers on top of mine. It feels like ribbons flowing down my skin, soft and silky smooth, just like before. His dark skin contrasts against mine, fingernails short and rounded as they ghost across my skin. "No one—no one will tell me what's going on."

"He's okay," Seth says softly, his voice sounding so close I feel the vibrations in my head. Maybe it's just the drugs, fucking up my senses and distorting my grip on reality. "I checked in on him, he should be fine. There's nothing to worry about, the doctors are very optimistic." He always knows what to say to me, while I can barely speak in his presence, like something washes over me that takes away my general sense of self.

It isn't until he directs my head onto his shoulder that I catch myself sniffling, tightening my jaw, trying to stay composed. "Really, he'll be fine, I promise. There's no reason why he can't pull through this after everything he's been through."

"Maybe that's the problem," I mutter into his shoulder. "Maybe now he's just thinking, 'fuck it. I've already been through so much, might as well die off while it's my choice."


Rubbing my nose against his shoulder, I tell him, "Come on, don't tell me that you're really optimistic about this? For chrissakes, somebody ran him over, it's not like—Why are you looking at me like that?"

He doesn't turn away from me, his gaze intense, as he says, "You're going to make a wonderful father someday." Wonderful father. I scoff, but he shushes me and grabs my hands, still staring at me. He's always so… Intense. Loud. Boisterous, but not now. It's strange seeing him like this. "Really. You've only known Matt a few months, and look what you've done for him. It's because of you that he's actually alive."

"Yeah, and it's because of me that he's lying in a coma." Seth frowns softly. The movement wrinkles his face. "If God wanted me to be a father," I continue, accentuating every word so he might actually get it this time. He sighs heavily, like he always does when he knows he's losing the battle. "Then he would have made me fuck women."

"But don't you—"

"Seth, we've gone over this. Foster care was your and Madeleine's thing, I'm not—that's not me."

For a moment, he doesn't say anything. The nurses chatter in the background and a heart monitor beeps from the hospital room nearby. My heart thumps slowly in my chest, making my leg throb. I should take another pill.

When he finally speaks, his voice is quiet, soft. "What if it were Matt?"

Tensing, I glance at him out of the corner of my eye. "What if what were Matt?"

He stands up, dropping my hand back into my lap. The air feels cold without his touch, and I shiver violently. Even though he's naturally warmer than I am, he just stares me down and doesn't take off his jacket for me. I imagine it's some sort of punishment, some sort of way of telling me I need to start thinking about the big picture. Maybe I'm just reading into this. We're fucking. We aren't telepathic. "If Matt was sent to foster care, would you want him? If Emily couldn't get him back."


"Answer me."

I don't. He works at me for five minutes at least, trying his best to get me to answer him with anything, but I can't. I can't tell him the truth. I don't want to find out what he'd think about me, not here, not now… Not ever.

He sends me a sad look as he straightens back up, shoving his hands into the pockets of his lab coat. "I get off shift in a few hours," he tells me, hardly loud enough for me to hear him. "I'll leave my front door unlocked."

But somehow, he knows. It's in his eyes. He gets it anyway. I can't look at him anymore.

He steps lightly as he leaves, seemingly hesitant, but in my head, it sounds like bricks fall each time his foot presses to the tile.

It's late, but Seth won't mind. Since he and Madeleine broke up, thus losing all of their foster children, he plans less around a schedule. There's no need… Not if it's just him.

By the time I actually start thinking about knocking on his front door, he's already opened it, staring at me. "I'm so sorry," I tell him softly, my words straining at my voice, but I can't make myself louder. He gathers me in his arms. "I didn't—I didn't mean to—"

"It's okay," he says, guiding me inside his home, hands pressed firmly against my back. The door squeaks as it closes behind him. His voice is deep, soothing as he murmurs, "Come on. Let's get you to bed."

"I'm not tired," I tell him, trying to pull away. "I won't be able to sleep anyway." Since we met, I've never been able to deny his request when he looks at me with his big, hopeful eyes, wide with that air of innocence. He's learned to use that to his advantage, and proves his power over me as he forces me back to his bedroom. "Seth," I say, trying to grasp at his wrists and get his attention as he presses me down onto his bed. He's moving too quickly down my legs, undoing the zipper on my jeans, tugging them down my thighs. "Seth!"

"Don't worry; I'm not going to fuck you tonight."

This time, the words sound so much harsher when they bounce through my skull. I close my eyes tightly, breathing deep through my nose. "I have nightmares."

His hands don't falter, don't stop, don't pull away. "I know," he tells me, still sounding just as normal. As though this is a situation he finds himself in all of the time. "It's common in individuals in your situation."

Forcing back the sob, I tell him, "Don't treat me like one of your fucking patients." My voice cracks, but it does nothing for either one of us.

He purses his lips and clenches his jaw, annoyed. He tugs my jeans off from around my ankles with a final flourish, dropping them onto the floor, and leaves the room wordlessly.

Christ. What have I done? Why am I always so difficult with him? Better yet, why does he put up with it? Why does he keep allowing me to dig my hole and drag him down with me?

His mattress is hard, the springs biting into my back, round and hard. I don't remember it feeling this painful the last time few times we've fucked here, but then again, I don't remember being particularly concerned with the feel of the mattress the last few times.

I turn on my side, facing away from the door, and crawl underneath the sheets. He's probably pissed that I even showed up, invaded his space. Pissed that I came here looking for something – probably sex; I wouldn't doubt that that's why he thinks I'm here – when I should be in the hospital, keeping an eye on Matt.

Not that he needs it."

His voice startles me. "I'm sorry."

My tone is hostile when I reply, "Don't worry about it," over my shoulder. He sighs again. Always fucking sighing, like the world is this big burden that he has to carry.

"I shouldn't have…"

"Would you just get over here?"

"You're not in any place to—"

"That's not what I meant."

The bed dips with his weight when he finally sits down, lays down. "Are you okay?"

I don't answer. How am I supposed to, when I don't know? Seth shifts on the bed and rests his head next to mine, wrapping his arm around my waist. God, I don't… "Dallas?"

It's his touch, I'm sure of it, that makes my skin itch and my eyes sting with tears. It's in his voice, that know-it-all tone he uses when he's trying to get an answer out of me that he already knows.

"No," I whisper. His arm pulls me closer, my back pressing against his chest. "I'm not."