Drew made his way to the elevator and pushed the button for the second floor. As the door closed he leaned back against the metal wall, “Don’t let him die, please don’t let him die,” he said quietly. Drew flipped the emergency off switch, threw himself up against the wall and slid down to the floor.
Tears filled his eyes and flowed down his cheeks. Drew’s heart felt like it was being ripped out of his chest. Another person that he loved was being taken away, ripped away. He felt everything he had felt the night he found his mother on their apartment floor with her mangled body, her spirit nearly slipping away. He had felt it was his entire fault back then, because he hadn’t been there to protect her. Even now, though David had had this planned long before Drew came into the picture, he still blamed himself for leaving. For not being there to protect Luke.
‘I should have never left him at the hospital. I should have made sure he got home safe, I’m so selfish! So fucking selfish’, he thought as he punched the wall beside him. With his hand throbbing, he wiped the tears from his cheek and stood, flipping the switch back into position as he did so. The elevator jerked back into motion and the doors opened seconds later with a ding.
Drew found himself looking at the second floor nurses’ station. Like a typical Saturday, the only ones there were the skeleton crew. Drew walked forward out of the elevator. He approached the old withered woman at the station. Her hair was white and her eyes were surrounded by deep crow’s feet, but her eyes were soft brown and her voice was sweet.
“May I help you young man?” she asked Drew with a smile.
“I’m looking for room 238,” Drew said trying his best to smile at her.
“It is down the hall to your right; it will be the fourth room down on the left.”
Drew nodded and walked in the direction in which he was told. When he reached the door he peered in to see Rose and Jeff resting on the couch beside the large window that looked out at the large weeping willow that was surrounded by a horseshoe silhouette pond. The sky was clear as Drew stood in the doorway looking out at what may be the most beautiful scene he had ever seen.
"It’s beautiful isn’t it?” Rose said, enfolded in Jeff’s arms.
Drew just nodded as he walked over to the recliner beside the place in which Luke’s hospital bed would reside later. Drew looked over at Jeff who was conked out across the couch holding Rose close.
"How long has he been out?” Drew asked, nodding to Jeff.
"Since we found the room. He had been drinking since yesterday night. He was drunk when you called, but when you told him Luke was missing it sobered him up pretty quick. Now seeing that it’s nearly midnight, he’s finally had a chance to let the alcohol catch up.”
"He really does care about Luke.”
"Yeah, he never really hung out with him until we started dating, but when he got to know him, he realized how great of a friend Luke really is. He doesn’t push Luke because he knows that it’s pointless.”
"Then why do you push him?” Drew voice was harsher than he meant it to be, but Rose paid it no mind.
Rose looked out at the pond. The water was reflecting a million stars and the crescent moon. She sighed, “I just don’t want to let go of who he used to be. I think of the way he was before all of this happened. He was happy, most of the time and now he is so distant, frightened and miserable. I just think that maybe there is a chance I can get my best friend back, but he will never be his old self again. Too much has happened; too many lives have been changed, ruined.”
"I promise you Rose, I will never let him get hurt again. I don’t know how, but I will get David Davidson out of his life. I’m not going to stand back and let this happen again.”
Rose turned and faced Drew, looking him in the eye she said, “I know that, I can see it in your eyes.”
Drew closed his eyes and leaned his head back and before too long he was out like a light. Rose smiled at his sleeping face and snuggled into Jeff’s side as she waited for news of Luke.
Another two hours passed before Jane came into the room to give them an update.
“Dr. Knight, how is he?” Rose asked, wiggling out of Jeff’s arms.
Drew woke and stood. He was rubbing the sleep from his eyes and he missed seeing Rose slap Jeff to wake him up.
“What?! Is he alive?” Jeff asked startled.
“Luke is doing well. There were three stab wounds instead of one deep wound; therefore my main concern was possibility of internal bleeding caused by the massive amount of blunt force trauma suffered to his chest and abdomen. In all Luke has two broken ribs and major contusions to his head, chest and torso. His knee is alright and he should be able to walk in a couple of days, but his limp may be more severe. We will keep him here for a while just to make sure everything is in order, but he should recover. You found him just in time.” Jane said turning to Drew.
“When will he be awake?” Jeff asked holding onto Rose for balance.
“Oh, not for a while. They are bringing him up now but he’s still out from the surgery. I would recommend that you come back tomorrow when he’s awake.”
Rose nodded and put her arm around Jeff’s waist. “Come on Sweetheart, let’s get you to bed,” she said leading him out of the room.
Jane looked at Drew, “Are you staying?”
“I’m not leaving him again. Not while David is still allowed to walk around like he is innocent.”
Jane nodded, “I’ll bring you a blanket, my shift ended about seven hours ago, so I’m going to head home. I’ll be back tomorrow around ten.”
Drew hugged his mom and kissed her on the cheek, “Be safe.”
Jane walked out of the room and Drew went to stand beside the window. Just as he did, Luke’s bed was wheeled into the room. Drew watched as they hooked him up to different machines and fixed the tubes and the wires. When they left Drew went to stand by Luke. He looked down at Luke’s bandaged and bruised body. He had more color, no doubt due to the transfusion of Drew’s blood, but Drew still felt himself wanting to cringe at the sight of him. The right side of his face had taken most of the beating. He had stitches just above his right eye which was almost swollen shut. His lip had been busted and the nasal cannula in his nose gave him a morbid look.
The expression on Luke’s sleeping face was filled with anguish and Drew knew his was no different when he slept himself. Drew took a seat in the blue recliner beside Luke’s bed and stretched out. He took one more look at Luke and closed his eyes. Just as he did so, his mom came back in the room with two blankets and a pillow in hand.
“I stole these from the supply closet. If he gets cold make sure to cover him up with one,” Jane said tiptoeing quietly to the recliner.
“Thanks Mom,” Drew said, taking the blankets from her.
“I must ask you a question though,” Jane whispered. “I can see that Luke is a good kid. The way he looks at you does not go unnoticed by me, but there are a few things I find odd.” Drew motioned for them to step outside of the room, and Jane followed.
Drew looked around to make sure there was no one in the hall.
“Go on,” he said.
“Well, for one, Luke should not have left the care of the hospital so soon, but Dr. McGowan signed his release form and there was nothing that I could do. Second, this is the second time that this young man has been placed under my care with severe injuries that have obviously been inflicted by someone else.”
“According to Jeff and Rose a boy named Tyler was killed about a year ago. He was gay and Luke had stood up to David for him. I guess David saw this as a betrayal and pretty much declared war on Luke. He began spreading rumors about Luke being gay and Luke’s dad wasn’t much on homosexuality or Luke in general for that matter.”
“How can a father not love his son?” Jane asked, utterly confused.
“Well, Luke’s mom died giving birth to him, and I suppose his father blamed him for it. Anyway, Luke came home one day and his father tried to shoot him, but ended up shooting himself instead.”
Jane’s eyes grew wide and her hand flew over her mouth.
“That is horrible,” she breathed.
“So, the town thinks that Luke killed his father, and thanks to David and his lying mouth they also believe he killed Tyler. Luke didn’t though, I am sure of it.”
“One more question,” Jane said placing her hands on her hips. “Why on earth does Dr. McGowan not express more concern about his nephew?”
Drew shrugged, “I’m not entirely sure, but I do know Dr. McGowan is Luke’s uncle on his father’s side. Maybe Dr. McGowan blames Luke for his brother’s death.”
Jane huffed, “That man better not come within ten feet of me or I break my clipboard over his head. I’m going to leave word with the security guard to keep an eye on this room.”
“Thanks, I love you, Mom,” Drew said as he hugged her tight.
“I love you too, take care of him,” she said as she kissed him on the forehead before briskly walking out of sight.
The hours passed through the night and Drew slept uneasily. He was awakened by every nurse that came through the door, every sound that was out of place. Drew was always on guard, he never slept at peace anymore. He was forever worried and anxious.
When daylight finally rolled around Drew was awake. He looked over at Luke, whose expression had turned to fear and his breathing had become labored. Drew jumped up and gently placed his hands on Luke’s shoulders, “Luke wake up, wake up.”
Luke opened his eyes and looked up at Drew, his expression shocked and confused, “Where am I?” he asked looking around.
“You are in the hospital,” Drew said, removing his hands from Luke’s shoulders.
“The hospital? I thought that...David…that he…I’m alive?”
Drew nodded, “You wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t have found you when I did.”
“Why? He would have never…Where did you-?” Luke tried to sit up but grimaced in pain.
Drew placed his hands on Luke’s shoulders once more, “Easy, you had surgery last night.”
“What?” Luke asked as he looked down at his leg.
Drew removed his hands and stepped back. “Your knee is going to be fine. You were stabbed in the abdomen.” Drew said trying to control the anger in his voice to avoid scaring Luke.
Luke placed a hand on his abdomen and turned his gaze out the window.
“I remember,” he said closing his eyes. “But where did-” Luke was unable to finish his question.
“They left you in the shop class at the school.” Drew kept his eyes on Luke’s.
“Doesn’t surprise me.” Luke opened his eyes. “How did you find me? I thought you left.”
“I did,” Drew said sitting down again, “I was in Utah when Mom called me and said you were missing. I called Jeff to let him and Rose know, and then I did about ninety miles an hour down the freeway to get back here. I went home to get the letter Mom said you left for me.” Luke’s eyes snapped back to Drew’s. “Luke, why didn’t you tell me? I never would have let him do this to you.”
“He would have done it no matter what,” Luke said looking at Drew. He noticed the circles under the other boy’s eyes.
“He would have never gotten to you if I was here, just like he will never get to you again,” Drew replied.
“You should have just let me die last night. It would have been so much easier.”
“Why are you so set on dying? What if that’s not the simplest solution? What if no matter how you look at it you have people who care for you?”
“Yes you do! Me! Rose! Jeff! We all care about you. I don’t know why, but I can’t bear the thought of you dying. You are the first person besides my Mom I’ve felt like living for, in a long time. Can’t you understand that?”
Luke was silent.
“Please Luke, I need you here. I know it sounds weird, but I do.”
“Don’t let David know that,” Luke warned, smiling slightly.
“I’m afraid it’s too late for that,” Drew was smiling too.
“What do you mean?”
“You don’t think he told me where you were because he wanted to, do you? I beat up all of his cronies and put a gun to his head.”
Luke looked at Drew, horrified. Fear flooded his eyes as he looked over at Drew and his heart rate increased. “You didn’t!”
“Luke stop worrying, he was so drunk he probably won’t remember any of it. David will just wake up today and think the group got in some stupid fight and beat the hell out of each other.”
“You beat up all of them?” Luke asked, impressed.
“Well I had some help,” Drew said as he pulled the brass knuckles out of his back pocket. He looked up from them and smiled, “They were a gift from Jordan. He gave them to me at my first boxing match,” Drew laughed. “He said I would need them cause I was about to get my ass kicked and I needed some advantage.”
“Did you get your ass kicked?” Luke asked smiling back at him.
“No, I won actually. I don’t have the slightest clue how, but I did. Jordan was shocked.”
There was a moment of silence as Drew stared at the gift and Luke stared at him.
"My first football practice, I started off as a quarterback and a defensive tackle, because Coach wasn’t sure where to place me. I tackled the biggest guy on the team,” Luke said looking across the room.
Luke smiled and looked back at Drew, “He sacked me on the return play, and I was out for the rest of the game.”
Drew laughed and he found himself smiling his old smile. Luke noticed saw what Jane had been talking about the night before last. That’s when he realized he was smiling and laughing as well; it hurt his body like hell, but he didn’t care.
Drew came to the same realization that Luke did, and remembered what Rose had said, ‘You need each other’. The words rung in his head as he looked into Luke’s caramel eyes.
"You look tired,” Luke said.
"I’m always tired. Then again it’s only seven-thirty in the morning.”
"There is blood all over your sweat shirt,” Luke said as he looked at the sleeves of Drew’s gray pullover which had blood smudged up and down the sleeves.
"Yeah, it’s yours,” Drew said looking at his sleeves.
Luke looked into Drew’s eyes, “You should go home, get some actual sleep, clean up,” he said unconvincingly.
Drew smiled, “Nice try, I’m not going anywhere until you get out of here, except to shower and eat.”
“I guess I’m stuck with you for a while then, huh?” Luke teased.
“Yeah, now you need to get some rest and so do I,” Drew said as he relaxed back in his chair and closed his eyes. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”
“Yeah, I know but I really wish you would go home and get some actual sleep. You’re tired and I can see it.”
“I will get just as much sleep here as I would at home. Now, please get some rest,” Drew said, keeping his eyes closed.
“I c-can’t,” Luke stammered as he looked over at the door.
Drew opened his eyes and looked at Luke’s frightened eyes. He scooted to the edge of the recliner and rested his elbows on Luke’s bed.
“Does this have something to do with your dreams?” Drew asked, concerned.
Luke kept his focus on the door, “I don’t want to talk about it,” he said.
Drew looked at Luke’s hands, they were shaking. Drew extended his hand to Luke’s forearm and let it rest there, “Tell me,” he said as Luke’s arm stopped shaking.
“Do you know what’s it’s like to know you’re going to die, to know who is going to kill you? Do you know what it feels like to know that if you’re close to anyone that he will kill them too?” Luke asked as he looked at Drew with grief stricken eyes. “Do you know what it’s like to relive every painful memory you have ever had, every single time you go to sleep?”
“No one will ever hurt you again. Luke, I may not be able to erase your memories and I can’t make your dreams stop, but I can keep you safe. I will never let him hurt you, I promise,” Drew said as he squeezed Luke’s arm slightly.
“I know you mean what you say, but you can’t avoid the inevitable. One day when you’re not with me, whether it’s at school or at home, he will take his shot and this time it won’t matter if you find me or not. He will not fail again. I know him; I used to be his best friend. He hates to lose, he hates failure and he hates me.” Luke let silent tears fall down his cheeks.
"Luke, I need you to understand something,” Drew said, “I have lost almost everything I care about. My brother, my family, my father, my life. I had it ripped out from under me slowly and painfully. I will be damned if I let it happen again. I will not lose the first friend I’ve had in years. Correction! The first friend I have wanted and cared about in years. I will not let anyone hurt you again. You will live, you will be happy and you will not have to worry about David Davison ever again.”
There was finality in Drew’s voice and Luke heard it. His tears were beginning to drip to his hospital gown and Drew reached over to the small wooden nightstand and grabbed a tissue from the green feather painted box. He handed it to Luke and watched him wipe away his tears.
"Do you feel better now?” Drew asked.
Luke nodded slowly as he looked into Drew’s eyes, seeing his concern through his smile.
"Will you tell me what your dream was?” Drew asked, sitting back down in the recliner and stretching out.
"No,” Luke said simply and quietly.
"Because, I don’t want you to storm out of here and go kill anyone with that gun of yours,” Luke said trying to deflect Drew’s questions.
"Well, can you sleep now?” Drew asked sincerely.
Luke nodded, and closed his eyes. Drew waited until Luke fell asleep before he let his own eyes close and he drifted off as well. Hours later, at around eleven o’clock, Drew was awoken by his Mom walking into the room.
"Hey sweetheart, I brought you some clean clothes and your shower stuff,” She said holding Drew’s duffle bag out in front of her.
"Thanks, I really need to clean up.”
Drew quietly got up from the recliner and stood beside his mom.
"So, how are you at removing blood stains?” he asked smiling as he looked down at his sleeves.
"I’m afraid you might just have to rip the sleeves off that one,” Jane said examining them.
"Yeah well, I’m going to go shower.”
"Alright, I’ll be down the hall if you need me.”
Jane took one last look at Drew and Luke and tiptoed back out the door with a smile. Drew stood at the bathroom door and looked at Luke. He was asleep, but his expression was still full of anguish. Drew sighed and entered into the bathroom.