Thirty Months Later
(2.5 years)

Bzzzzzzt, Bzzzzzzt, Bzzzzzzt.

Half asleep, I flopped my arm around on the bedside table, grasping for my cell phone. It was a call from an unknown number, but the area code was from San Francisco. I fumbled to answer and held the phone against my ear.

"Hello?" I asked blearily.

"Is this Cameron Moore?" A female voice asked hesitantly, as if they were reading off a piece of paper.

"Uhm, yes. Who's this?" I asked, propping myself up slightly and trying to wake up more.

"I'm calling from the Memorial Sacred Heart hospital. You're listed as the emergency contact for Matthew Cranbell."

I felt the air in my lungs get heavy and I blinked rapidly, trying to fully process what she said. "Is he hurt?" I asked quickly.

"Our policy requires us not to discuss patient details over the phone... but I can tell you that he was found and brought into the hospital with a blood alcohol content of .26. He's fine now, but Matthew's doctor wanted to speak to someone who knows Matthew well. For discharge purposes."

Shit. What was Matt thinking? Was he trying to kill himself or something?

"I'll be there in half an hour." I replied quickly. "Thank you."

"Yes, of course." The woman replied, hanging up moments later.

I let the phone fall into my lap and ran a hand through my hair. Why was I listed as Matt's emergency contact and not Aiden? I guess if Aiden was busy with his career... but I'm not always around.

Only two weeks ago I was in Michigan, visiting my immortal, extended family. I was also set to go back to Guatemala for two months starting March. Between trips I work, volunteer and spend time with Matt.

I slid out of bed and stretched, running my hands through my hair again. I never grew my hair back out. It was easier to take care of and I thought short hair made me look older. Matt would always pat my head and complain that I didn't look as emotionally compromised and sexy anymore.

I slipped on my jacket and checked the pocket to make sure my keys were inside. My car was just an old beat up truck that I'd gotten for a good deal. The only reason I had it still was because Matt would keep it at his place while I was out of the country. Otherwise, I would have sold it and just walked and used public transportation.

I grabbed a kolache from the box on the counter and shut and locked the front door behind me, careful not to wake any of my roomates. They were four other guys around my age. Two of them I had known from my previous building, one of them was an aquantence of Matt's and the other was his ex-girlfriend's cousin's bestfriend. They weren't bad as far as roommates went.

When I wasn't out of the country I lived in San Fransisco, moving between cheap buildings and roommates. I'd get a temporary job, put all my earnings into the bank and just live minimally. I'd been lucky so far and all my roommates were nice, chill people. Sometimes Matt would come over, just so he could hangout with them. He'd even dated one for a few months.

That was fun.

It was a little chilly so I huddled in my jacket, walking quickly along the slick pavement to where my car was parked on the curb. I fumbled with the keys and then unlocked the divers side, sliding in. I started the engine and backed out, heading towards the hospital. The clock on the dash said 5:51. The world was barely waking.

I really hoped Matt was okay. He'd cleaned up a lot and opened his own record store, which was appropriate considering how many rising bands he was buddy-buddy with. He'd even become pretty successful for the amount of time he's been running it. He has his own high-rise near downtown, which I love. Hell, Matt had even quit smoking. That was one reason this sudden hiccup was so troubling. Just thinking about that made my stomach tighten.

I drove in silence, watching the early morning fog cling to the city. Slowly, cars started filling the streets, almost in time with the rising sun.

I pulled off the freeway and followed the service road to the hospital. Thankfully, the traffic was minimal and I found a parking spot without much trouble.

I turned off the engine and sat in my car for a moment, dragging my fingers through my short hair again. I looked over at my kolache and wrapped it up in a napkin, deciding to take it with me. I could get hungry later.

As I walked in through the double doors, the receptionist raised her head and greeted me. A quick glance around told me that the hospital wasn't busy. There was one older woman sitting quietly in the waiting room reading a gossip rag. That was it. I walked over to the receptionist.

"Excuse me, I was called in for Matthew Cranbell. I'm his emergency contact."

The receptionist nodded, her eyes lighting up a little. "His room is on the second floor, east wing, number sixty-one."

I immediately recognized her voice from the phone. "Thank you."

"I've got some paperwork for you, but you can fill that out after you see him." She winked and waved me on. I nodded, giving her a small smile as I turned away.

Punching the up botton on the elevator, I checked my phone quickly for the time. 6:24. The elevator's doors opened with a ding and I pressed the button for the second floor.

Once again, I found myself wondering why I was Matt's emergency contact opposed to Aiden. Matt and I spend a lot of time together, but Aiden knows him better than anyone. Even though Aiden is always busy promoting his band and going on tour, he manages to find time for Matt.

Matt is Aiden's only connection to the real world... And to his life before. Maybe Matt didn't want Aiden to know? Aiden and I don't talk unless we have to. Matt insisted on keeping me updated on him and his band though. It was a little irritating, but I prefered that to Matt playing matchmaker.

The last time I'd actually seen Aiden was fleetingly at one of Matt's ridiculous Christmas parties, and that was only because I'd heard he wouldn't be there, but he showed up last minute anyway.

He'd looked good, but I didn't want to have to talk to him, so I ducked my head and went out the front door as soon as I could. Matt had complained about me ditching after he'd recovered from his hangover the next day, but I had come back the next morning with coffee and donuts so he forgave me.

The hallway was quiet, empty and smelled like antiseptic. I scanned the plaques on the doors, looking for sixty-one. It was one of the last ones in the hall, right across from a snack machine. I hesitated for a moment and then knocked, quietly opening the door.

Matt's room was a double, but the other bed was empty. The chunky television was set on mute and there was an untouched glass of water on the bedside table. Matt's eyes met mine and I immediately noticed his sickly pale skin, as well as the intravenous drip in his right forearm.

"Yo." He said, a small smile lighting up his face.

I frowned, taking the seat beside him and shaking my head. "Why are we here Matt?"

"It was an accident." He insisted quietly. "I appologize. I don't want to make you worry Cam... That's the last thing I want."

"I'm worried Matt. Big time." Matt's smile faded as I spoke. "What happened?"

Matt looked away just as there was a knock at the door. I hesitated, stood and went to answer the door. A woman wearing scrubs and a lab coat took a quick step back, adjusting the clipboard in her hands. "Cameron Moore?" She asked smartly, glancing up at me and raising her eyebrows.

"Yes." I replied quickly.

"Would you step out for a moment so we can discuss Matthew's discharge?" She gave Matt a look, who turned over in his hospital bed grumpily.

I followed her out of the room, firmly shutting the door behind me. We only moved a few paces from the door before Dr. Benfield, according to her I.D., turned back towards me.

"Matthew is going to be fine." She insisted with a small smile. I felt my shoulders relax a little. "We ran a few test to make sure there was no serious damage to his liver. I'm more concerned about his mental state. He insists that there was no intent of suicide, but people don't drink themselves to that point on accident."

I nodded in agreement and Dr. Benfield continued. "There is the option to put him in the hospital's one month intervention and recovery program, but open slots are scarce." Dr. Benfield's expression became serious as she reached up to adjust her glasses slightly. "If you believe Matthew is a danger to himself or others, we can get a court order issued for his treatment."

Our eyes met again and I nodded, understanding her indirect question. "Are there any other options?" I asked, well aware how much of a nightmare treatment would be for Matt.

Also, there was some sort of sincerity earlier, when he'd told me it had been an accident.

"As of now, Matthew will require staying for two more days before he can be discharged. That's just standard hospital protocol. The real issue would be once he's released and back in his normal enviroment." Dr. Benfield paused, mulling something over. "Would it be possible for you or someone else to moniter him extensively outside of the hospital?"

I nodded quickly. It would be easy to move in with Matt for a week or two. All I had was work, but the boss of the coffee shop was a really good friend of Matt's, that was how I got the job. I had no doubt about my shift being easily covered.

"I could do it."

Dr. Benfield nodded, quickly writing a few sentences on the clipboard she was holding. "I'll leave some paperwork at the front desk for you." She smiled slightly. "I'm sure Matthew is eager to visit with you."

"Thank you." I said as she started to hustle away. She nodded curtly in response.

As soon as she was gone, I slid my phone from my pocket and sent my roomate a text saying where I was and that I wouldn't be back for a few days. I would call my boss at a more proper time.

A surge of gratitude passed through me and I smiled faintly, turning and going back into Matt's hospital room. He peeked at me with one eye, a scowl on his face, arms crossed over his chest.

"The doctor prescribed me as a babysitter for a few weeks."

Matt rolled his eyes. "So it takes a doctor to finally get you to move in with me?"

I shook my head, trying not to smile. I'd often spend the night at his place and he would pester me about moving in with him all the time.

"Cheeky bastard." I muttered.

"Shut up." Matt replied as I sat back in the chair beside his bed. "If you hadn't ditched medical school you could be my cute nurse right now. I'd take a shot from you any day." He finished with a wink.

"Except I wanted to be a obstetrician." I deadpanned and Matt rolled his eyes again as if I was being silly.

I knew Matt was bullshitting me in an attempt to avoid the elephant in the room, so I decided to light a little fire beneath him.

"Should I call Aiden and tell him you're in the hospital?" My voice was light, but I saw Matt's eyes harden. He recognized my threat.

"Aiden is on tour right now. I don't want him flipping out and canceling just 'cause I'm in the hospital. I'm obviously fine." Matt's voice took on a bitter edge.

"Then tell me why you went binge drinking out of nowhere." I demanded, crossing my arms. I wasn't budging on this one.


I pulled out my phone and opened it, starting to tap in Aiden's number, my face impassive. I could feel Matt's tension increasing.

With a small growl, Matt finally broke. "Fuck, stop, I'll tell you, you dick."

I set my phone on my lap and got serious. Matt looked anywhere but at me. His uncomfortableness was palable.

"I've been depressed... Okay? I didn't mean to. I was drunk and feeling shitty and I just wanted to sleep for a few weeks. I wasn't... rational. That's all." He looked up with guarded eyes, eager to see my reaction.

Something in my chest tightened and my eyes burned.

"Cam..." Matt's eyebrows pulled together regretfully.

I pinned forward, clutching Matt to me the best I could, careful not to hurt him. "I don't want to lose you." I whispered, more emotional than I had expected. Matt hesitated and then he was hugging back awkwardly.

"Shit, don't get all sentimental on me." Matt's voice sounded different, almost fake. I knew he was trying not to cry as well, but he just gripped me even tighter. "I'm sorry. Really, I wasn't thinking."

I pulled away, nodding. "Either way, I'm going to stay with you until you are thinking again... All the time."

Matt shook his head, chuckling slightly. "You may as well move in then."