A Right to Blame
There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us.
A/N: Sorry it's been awhile, and that this is all I have to show for it. I have different ideas running through my head right now for the boys and I thought I would just post the start to one of them. Once again, who knows where it's going.
Nine o'clock. Tuesday night. They had been sitting in the stale emergency waiting room for nearly an hour, but Tommy waited until finally Sean moved from the near cracking plastic seat to go buy a soda. Tommy leaned in then, hesitating a moment, and said it.
"Jimmy needs to go to rehab."
Kevin's head turned quickly at the softly spoken words. He sat up straighter, starting shaking his head. "Tommy—"
"Listen. Kevin, stop," he said. Kevin was trying to interrupt. Tommy kept his voice steady. "This is it. No more."
"It's one time, Tommy."
"It's not one time."
It wasn't the first time. It wouldn't be the last time. Granted, it had never taken them to the hospital before, but Jimmy was always drinking too much, popping too much, shooting up too much. When he disappeared into the bathroom at the Firecracker and didn't come out it wasn't news. The news was when Tommy went in to drag him out and he wasn't breathing.
"He won't go, Tommy."
"I wasn't thinking about asking his opinion about it, Kevin."
Kevin slid down in his chair, resting his chin on his chest as he stared straight ahead. The chair creaked with his movement.
There was silence.
He couldn't do that to Jimmy. It was like jail. Sending his brother to jail. It was like abandonment. It was the worst thing someone could do.
"I'm not helping you."
"Kevin." Tommy's voice was soft but firm.
"Do you know what they do to people in there?" Kevin said. He didn't know, really, but that was what Jimmy had said last time Tommy had broached the subject.
"I know he's gonna kill himself if he doesn't stop, Kevin."
And Kevin's head turned, just slightly, catching Tommy's eye. That determined look there. Tommy didn't want to let this one go.
"It's help, Kevin. Jimmy needs help."
"Then we'll help him."
Tommy shook his head. It just wasn't working that way.
It was harder really, when Jimmy tried not to. Sean noticed it sometimes. Jimmy's eyes were less glazed over then but they were harder, red-rimmed. Angrier. Jimmy off of alcohol, off of drugs— that Jimmy wasn't happy.
Tommy was finishing paperwork when Sean and Kevin entered the room and found Jimmy grinning there, that crooked smile. You would think there was nothing wrong in the world. Like he had won the lottery. But he was drumming his fingers on the side rail of the bed. Antsy. In need. "Hey."
"Hey. You dumbass," Sean said.
Jimmy laughed. That cackle laugh. As if to say, hey, it happens to the best of us. "What can I say," he said.
Kevin was quiet next to them. Because he was thinking about it. And maybe it wasn't the worse thing. He looked at Jimmy there in the bed, the IV in his arm, the pale face and the red-rimmed eyes, and wondered what it would be like.
"Tommy thinks you should go to rehab." There. He said it. Sean was staring at him. There was a silence.
"Fuck that, Kevin. Rehab? Tommy said that?"
"I'm just saying."
"What the hell, Kevin. Rehab? Do I look like a crazy person?"
Sometimes, Kevin wanted to say. He glanced at Sean, who was quiet now, and then back to Jimmy. "No."
"Tommy would like that, wouldn't he. He'd like that a lot."
"He didn't mean it like that, Jimmy." Kevin's arms were crossed in a way that made it look like he was cold. But he wasn't cold.
"So you're on his side?"
"Then why did you bring it up?"
"I'm just saying."
"You're just saying." The words came through gritted teeth.
He couldn't talk to Jimmy like this. There was a fire behind Jimmy's eyes now and you could hear it in his words. It was either agree with him or else. Kevin wasn't about to push Jimmy when he saw that look in his eyes, even if he was confined to a hospital bed.
Jimmy shook his head. "Get lost, Kevin."
Kevin stared at him, and Jimmy stared right back, not breaking his gaze. Was he serious or was it just words? Kevin couldn't tell.
Sean looked back and forth between his two brothers. Kevin looked annoyed now and Jimmy looked, well, enraged. The stare down only lasted a few seconds before Kevin muttered something under his breath and left the room, slamming the door behind him.
Sean looked at Jimmy. "Jimmy—"
"Don't even start, Sean."
Sean just gave a defeated shrug and sank into one of the chairs positioned in the room for visitors. He scooted it closer to his bed and started to untwist the cap off his soda, but frowned when he saw what Jimmy was doing.
Jimmy had swung his legs over the side of the bed and was pulling the IV from his arm, tape first, and then sliding out the needle. "I'm outta here."
Sean cringed at the sight and had to look away but didn't do anything to stop him.
"Hey," came an interruption from the doorway. Tommy. "What're you doing, Jimmy?"
Jimmy looked up. "Leaving," he spat.
"They gotta release you, you know."
"Not soon enough. Seany, get my shoes, they're over there."
Sean gave Tommy a hesitant look but went to get the shoes from their perch on the narrow windowsill.
Tommy moved closer the bed that Jimmy was now sitting on the side of, but Jimmy threw up a hand. "Relax, Jimmy."
"Don't, Tommy. Don't tell me to fucking relax."
Tommy shrugged, taking a generous step back. "Fine, Jimmy. That's just fine." His voice was tinged with a sarcastic undertone, but he was beyond fighting at this point. He glanced around. "Where's Kevin?"
Sean felt Tommy's eyes on him. He gave a small shrug.
"Didn't he come here with you?"
"Yeah," Jimmy said through a bitter laugh. He pulled on one shoe and reached for the other. "Kevin thinks I should go to rehab."
The expression on Tommy's face changed.
"Story is, you think so too."
"You know, Jimmy, yeah. It wouldn't be the worst idea."
Jimmy let out a snort. "Glad you think so highly of me, Tommy."
"Look at you, Jimmy. Just take a step back and look."
"Fuck you." Jimmy rose to his feet, looking unsteady at first, but his expression soon covered it. "You're gone, Tommy, busy with your own things, and then you step back into the picture and think you know something? Think you can push me out?"
"Push you out? Push you out, Jimmy?" Tommy raised his eyebrows. "Outta what?"
Jimmy ignored the question, continuing. "So why don't you go back to your little school and forget about us," he said sharply. "Hm? You're pretty good at that."
Tommy was silent, his lips pressed tightly together, eyes hard. It took every bit of his self control not to slug Jimmy. He stared at him, the hard eyes, the small trickle of blood on his arm from the pulled IV, and he fought off the guilt that ate him from the inside. He knew, if anything, that he should stay in that room.
But he couldn't.
Sean leaned against the windowsill, something inside him tightening when he looked at his brother, just the two of them in the room.
Jimmy shot his youngest brother a challenging sneer. "You leaving too?"
Sean shook his head. "No," he said softly. But part of him wanted to.