Hello! This is my first Deer Hunter fic- I watched the film and it's the only one that's really had a proper lasting effect on me in terms of the content, so I just couldn't get this idea out of my head- warnings for PTSD and swearing.
The motel room was basic and empty, with nicotine stained curtains and scuffed floors, but at least it was clean and quiet. Mike stood facing the window that overlooked the parking lot, smoking a cigarette in the darkness. The night pressed in, but the streetlights glowed orange in the gloom, and the headlights of the cars kept blinding him as they turned into the street. Sighing, he pressed his head against the glass, watching his breath fog up the window. Stevie hadn't wanted to go straight home after he 'discharged' him from the hospital, and he couldn't really blame him.
His friend's yelped words of 'I don't fit!' still reverberated in his head, and he had to shake it to get them to calm down. He had done the right thing, he was sure of it. Stevie would thank him, he knew. It just might take some time.
The door behind him banged open, and he turned to see Stevie manoeuvring his wheelchair across the room towards him. He smiled encouragingly as the noise got closer, before putting a hand gently on his friend's shoulder as he finally stopped beside him. 'You ok?' he muttered, offering him a smoke.
Stevie took it, his hand still trembling- Mike doubted whether it had ever stopped since he got back. 'Huh?' he pressed, wanting to know- he knew Stevie was in a bad place, hell they all were, but he knew what 'Nam had done to his head.
The other man nodded, his smile not quite reaching his eyes; Mike knew his friend well- knew when he was lying. 'Hey, you don't have to pretend with me, ok? I'm not some Nurse or Doctor looking to give you pointless sympathy- I know what you went through; we went through it together. If there's anything you need to say, say it.' He muttered, watching as his friend's face crumpled momentarily before Stevie fixed it again, as false and bright as before. He inwardly sighed, but tried not to let it show- Stevie would come round. 'I'm ok man, I am…just a little tired is all…' he shrugged, taking another drag of his cigarette.
'I know, your records show you have frequent nightmares.'
'What are you now, a Doctor?' Stevie's voice was high with forced humour.
'No, just concerned.' He corrected, squeezing his friend's shoulder- at least he didn't balk away like he had done at the hospital; his heart had almost broken right there and then.
'Thanks man, but you don't need to be….I'm good…..good…' his voice trailed off as he tried to peer through the window. Mike watched his eyes widen in confusion, and then squint in anger as he looked down at himself in the wheelchair, before tears filled them. 'It's weird you know…how- how you forget sometimes…' he whispered, before he turned the chair without another word and made for his bed.
Mike stood there, taking in another breath of smoke as he tried to quell his own emotion. His mind raced back to that fucking day, when their whole world changed in a fucking instant. He felt his heart beat faster, could hear his breath speeding up as panic washed over him- he forced himself to breathe steady as he fixed his eyes at a point in the horizon.
'FUCK!' he jerked backwards as he heard Stevie cry out. Stevie was by his bed, hands curled into the mattress, shaking. 'What's the matter?' Mike asked, walking over, eyes wide.
'Why didn't you just leave me there? Why couldn't you just have left me on that fuckin' bank?!' Was his reply, Stevie's voice cracking as sobs threatened to overcome him.
'What? Why?' Mike knelt beside him, before grabbing his shoulder to get him to face him. 'What the fuck would I do that for?'
'I don't fit, I told you! The beds are too high! I can't see out of any damned window! The people in the street look at me funny, as if I'm a goddamn alien! I don't fit! I don't fit….' Stevie's head fell onto Mike's shoulder as all his pent up emotion came tumbling out.
Mike didn't know what to say. What was there to fucking say? He rubbed Stevie's back and let him cry- that was all he could do. He wiped his own eyes with his free hand as emotion swept over him too. 'I know….let it out….let it out…..' he whispered into his hair, feeling a fucking terrifying sense of Déjà vu. 'I got you…I ain't goin' anywhere….' He settled on saying, repeating it over and over like a mantra until Stevie's shakes went down and he was sniffling, not sobbing.
Stevie lifted his head off his shoulder, eyes red and sore. 'I'm sorry man….' He whispered. 'I'm such a fuckin' baby…'
Mike shook his head strongly, lifting his friend's head with his hands. 'Listen to me now- you are not weak.' He growled, voice firm as he looked into the younger man's eyes. 'You've been through some fucking shit- this does not make you weak! We made it, and now we gotta deal with it.'
'What aren't you? Tell me, what aren't you?' Mike repeated, wanting the message to sink in.
'Right, that's right….' He said, smiling as he gave Stevie a hug. He looked at the clock on the bedside table- it was nearing midnight. He wouldn't be sleeping tonight, but he knew Stevie could do with some rest. 'You want me to help you?' he muttered as he motioned the bed, not wanting to be where he wasn't wanted.
Stevie's face flushed, even in the darkness of the room. 'I…I don't want you…' he stuttered, tears filling his eyes again. Mike felt sadness wash over him again- this wasn't the same man he had left with, and that broke his heart.
'I'll just lift you into bed, ok? The Nurses tell you how to sort out the rest?' he asked- he didn't mind empting the bucket under his chair; it was his fault he wasn't in the damn hospital anyway. But he didn't wanna go near all his tubes and other places- that was private.
Stevie nodded his reply, before sitting back in his chair, wiping his eyes on the back of his hand. 'Ok…' he muttered, before steeling himself as Mike came up beside him- between them, they managed to get him to the bed, and Mike turned away as Stevie set about sorting himself out. 'Would you pass me my shirt? I left it in the bag by the door.' He muttered.
'Course I can…' Mike fetched the shirt and passed it to him, looking him over- he'd gotten really thin, and the battle scars showed vividly on his pale skin.
He turned back to the window as Stevie finished up; he watched the stars flickering in the sky, and his thoughts turned to Nicky. What was he doing? Why hadn't he come home? He didn't know, and as much as he wanted to, right now wasn't the time or the place to think about it. Pushing himself away from the window he made his way to his own bed, pausing to look across at Stevie- the whites of his eyes were shining as he looked up at the ceiling unblinkingly. 'Get some sleep Stevie….' He whispered, before remembering to get the dim overhanging light- Stevie's head suddenly whipped round. 'Leave it on, please?' he muttered, voice high.
Mike's jaw worked as he processed the words. He turned, his own fake smile on his lips. 'Ok, you got it.' he said, walking back to his own bed. Stevie had never had a problem with the dark before. He took off his shoes and got into bed, not bothering to undress. Even with Stevie in the next bed, he still felt alone, like he was the only man in the whole world. The silence reverberated around the room as the minutes, and then the hours, ticked by. And still he couldn't sleep. He knew what he'd dream of, and he didn't want that; he just wanted some damn peace.
The soft whimpering caught his attention in an instant. He turned his head, eyes casting over the silhouette of his friend. His notes had said his nightmares had gotten so bad that sometimes he had to be moved to a private room because he was scaring the other patients.
Mike shook his head in the darkness, biting his lip and squeezing his eyes shut as the whimpering got louder, alongside the sound of Stevie thrashing in his covers. He didn't know what to do- did he let him ride it out alone? Did he go over and help him through it? Scrunching his legs up to his chest he watched the clock ticking the seconds over, as all the while the sound of one of his best friend's torturous dreams rang in his ears. After two minutes or so Stevie began to talk in his sleep. 'No…you'll have to fucking shoot my ass….' He muttered, voice rising and cracking as he pleaded with his phantom capturer.
Shaking his head, Mike swung his legs to the floor, eyes steely. He wouldn't let his friend go through that again… he squatted beside the bed, watching as Stevie's head thrashed from side to side, the same look on his face as when they were captured. 'Stevie….' He said, voice strong. He shook his shoulder, trying to gently coax him out of the dream, but Stevie almost threw himself out of the bed trying to get away from the touch. 'NO! MICHAEL?!' he yelled, fingers scrabbling ahead of him. A door banged next to them, and Mike knew he had to calm him down soon; otherwise people would start knocking on the door. 'Stevie I'm here! It's Michael…its Michael…' he soothed, shaking his shoulder harder and harder each time. 'Michael! I wanna go home…..' the younger man moaned, shaking his head pitifully. 'I wanna go home….'
'You are home! You are!' Mike cried, voice cracking as he tried desperately to wake him up. 'Wake up kid, wake up!' He finally had no other choice other than to almost get in the bed beside him and bodily shake him to get him to come round. A hand slick with sweat curled itself around his forearm as Stevie finally woke up, panting and shuddering. He gasped, gulping down air like he had never tasted it before. Michael immediately wrapped him in a hug, trying not to think about how weird it was to be so close to him without sitting on his legs. 'It's ok….just breathe….' He murmured, rubbing circles into his back as Stevie continued to choke in air. 'I'm sorry…' he managed to get out at last.
'What do you have to apologise for?' Mike replied, his head resting on the other man's shoulder as his breathing started to calm down. 'I don't know….' Stevie replied, swallowing thickly. 'For waking you up…'
Mike smiled and tried not to snort- it was so like Stevie to be bothered about him losing sleep. 'Forget about it,' he muttered, pulling back and sitting on the bed. 'It's what I'm here for.'
'This is fucked up man…' Stevie whined, his voice high. Mike nodded, taking hold of his hand and squeezing as he tried to swallow back the lump in his throat. 'I know….I know it is kid….' He mumbled, feeling a tear streak its way down his cheek; he coughed the rest back- he had to be strong for Stevie. He hadn't had a really good night's sleep since he got back, and he highly doubted whether Stevie had had a proper sleep either. Alcohol was something that helped, but that was a slippery slope, he knew.
'But we can get through it, we can. Me and you, we can do this…' he forced a smile as the younger man turned to him, eyes full of childlike hope. He nodded encouragingly as the hope was replaced by scepticism. 'It'll get better Stevie, it will.' He promised, rubbing his forearm comfortingly.
'I hope so…' Stevie muttered, before lying back down on his pillow, eyes staring once again back up at the ceiling.
Mike relaxed a little, but still kept his hand on Stevie's arm; it comforted him, to have something physical there, and it seemed to be working well in calming Stevie as well.
He sighed as he got comfy on the bit of bed that should have supported the other man's legs- he closed his eyes briefly as his stomach lurched at the thought. 'I'm here Kid…you go back to sleep…' he soothed, 'Nothings gonna happen to you again, ok, I promise.' He'd sit here the whole night if he had to. His friend needed him, and he would, as long as he was needed or wanted. The darkness pressed in once more as each man sat in silence, their minds full to breaking point, as they waited for morning to come.
I hope it was ok, I have a couple more ideas that I'm thinking of, but I'm just looking to see what kind of reception this would get ^^
Please review, I really would like to know what you thought of it!