Just Leave

Damian Spinelli/Jason Morgan

Spinelli has never really thought of himself as much. He has always been, and always will be, exactly what he is. Maybe that's not some people's preference, sure, but he must be doing something right if he has a grandmother who loves him, albeit with a kick of religious zeal, and a pretty blond who adores him, and friends from all walks of life - fashionistas, mobsters and mechanics, small children.

Spinelli is dreaming about Kelly's, although like all dreams there are things that ring true and things that are muddled, like the bright white of all the walls and the spongy quality of the floor, but it feels like Kelly's, and he's waiting at a table. Across from him is Maxie who, oddly enough, is not quite as beautiful now as in real life, as if maybe his mind couldn't think of something good enough. There is Lulu, too, and Johnny, and everybody is laughing, laughing, having a good time. Spinelli is having a good time, but there is a pang, and he realizes that he is lonely. Lonely in crowd of people he loves and is loved by.

"What're you looking for?" Johnny asks when he starts peering around the room. It's big, too big, but there is only one table, and nobody else is in sight. If he stares out the monumental glass windows he can see the street or something close, distorted and wet ,sliding around, swishing, like water on a pane.

Spinelli gurgles. He's saying I don't know, I don't know what I'm looking for, but it has to be here somewhere, but there's something in his mouth, in his throat, liquid and unforgiving. He coughs like a sprinkler, splattering water on the table, again and again, trying to speak and he's like a fountain, and the water won't stop, filling the room, up to his knees, his waist, higher and higher. He's trying to tell Maxie to get up, go, what are you doing, but it's only making things worse, turning the tap higher, but none of them have moved from their seats, slowly engulfed by the rising water.

He's climbing on his chair, scrabbling at his throat, no longer able to breathe but the water is gushing out, slimy now, red and thick, choking him and he reaches for the others, just the bare top of Johnny's hair sticking out before it's under too and Spinelli's trying to swim, losing his footing on the chair and paddling like a dog, trying to stay above. His chest is numb, and so are his fingers, his toes, his lips, and there's something bright in his eyes, like staring straight at the sun. Spinelli turns to the window, a last minute gamble, and sees the street, pristine and wet, clear water. There's Jason, watching. Help me, Spinelli thinks, chokes, scrambles against the glass, help me, help me. But Jason turns away, too busy for all this, and all Spinelli can see is blinding hot light.

And he is awake.

There is the beeping of the monitor next to him and he gags, confused. Before there had been too much wet and now his throat is parched, choking him, but in another way. He can't seem to swallow, or breathe properly. There's an ache everywhere, everywhere, like he's been run over by a semi-truck.

"." a woman shushes him. A nurse, but Spinelli's brain is too fuzzy, too soggy to concentrate. There are more nurses, there's a doctor, but it's nobody Spinelli particularly recognizes, and he clutches to the feeling of being awake desperately, too scared to go back to sleep.

Eventually the mask is removed from his face, the doctor is shining a light in his eyes and Spinelli has to hold himself down to keep from thrashing away. "There, there, son." the doctor tuts. "You've got some guests waiting outside, are you up for a visitor? One at a time."

"I-"Spinelli rasps, and clears his throat. They've offered him water, but he can't bring himself to drink it. "Yes."

It's Maxie's glorious blond head that peaks through the door, and Spinelli feels a pang at the sight of her red rimmed eyes and worried little mouth, folding himself around her when she gingerly holds him in a hug. "Oh Spinelli!"

"M-Maximista." He tries, and turns to cough.

"Are you thirsty?" She flutters nervously, hands on his hair, his face. They dance nervously around his side, which he realizes doesn't hurt at all, so how many drugs has he gone through? She spots the glass of water by his bedside and holds it to his lips. "Drink."

He does. It's cool, fresh. Something in his throat burns like salt and he coughs halfway through a gulp. Water spills down his front, over Maxie's hands, the glass tipping. Spinelli's wet everywhere and it's happening again, he's drowning, there's water all over and the machines are shrieking and so is Maxie and then -

and then there's a mask on his face and he is asleep.

Spinelli doesn't dream this time. When he wakes up, the room is dark. Outside it's dark too, and Spinelli sits up with a groan.

The drugs are wearing off, and his side is killing him, it must be to hurt so much. "What-?" he whispers, muddled.

"You were stabbed."

Jason almost looks apologetic at the way Spinelli jumps, the way the numbers on the machines jump with him. "Sorry."

"I...Yes, the Jackal remembers. On the pier."

If Jason has more to say about it right then, he's obviously not going to. He makes a move for the call button above Spinelli's bed.

"No- I." Spinelli shook his head. "I don't want to see a doctor right now."

"You're in pain." Jason points out. Spinelli wonders what he sees – drawn lines beneath wounded eyes, a grimace on his lips.

"It's not that bad." Spinelli tells him, and when there's a stretch of silence he feels the need to say more. "I mean, it's just a stab wound. It's not as if I got shot or anything ,right?"

Wrong thing to say. There are shades of darkness on Jason's face, that familiar furrow in his brow. "They said….some dock worker pulled you out of the water."

The water. Spinelli shivers, and doesn't think he will ever go swimming again.

"They called Maxie, and she called Sam, that's how I found out." It's almost more awkward, Jason trying to make conversation like this. He's staring at the wall, and Spinelli is staring at him.

Instead of saying, you're my emergency contact, they must have called you first, Spinelli clears his throat. "Well, the Jackal must be lucky indeed. To have been…found." Drowning is scarier than being stabbed, that's the lesson of the day.

"Yeah. Maxie was here all day, you kept waking up, but you were out of it."

Where were you? Something in Spinelli cries, but he bites his lip. He has never felt quite as bad as he does now, not even when his spleen was broke, not even when he shot himself in the foot. It's not his normal style, but he just doesn't have it in him to pad things for Jason.

"Spinelli, who did this to you?" asks Jason, cutting to the chase.

Spinelli just wants to close his eyes and go back to sleep. He's not ready for this, and his minds keeps playing "just leave" and the way his protests had been throw aside, the way he'd been thrown aside. "Can we - can we please not go there?"

Of course they have to go there. Where else would Jason go? This is the cycle that Jason Morgan's life has become. Somebody hurts the person that he loves (and Spinelli knows, he does, that Jason loves him, although sometimes it is hard to tell), and Jason gets revenge. Spinelli isn't ready to have that weighing on his heart, he won't ever be ready.

"Spinelli - somebody stabbed you. And threw you in the water - they left you to drown!" There's anger in Jason's voice, more emotion than he usually shows, but out of all the emotions he's good at expressing, anger has always been the best. The most primal.

"I don't care." Spinelli says. Petulantly, he realizes, after it leaves his mouth. To cement this, he presses his face into his pillow and closes his eyes. Doesn't matter. "Did they find my laptop?"

"Your laptop?!" The incredulity in Jason's voice is almost humorous. Maybe Spinelli will laugh about it later, when he feels better. "Spinelli it....Mac has it at the station, evidence."

Probably not the best idea, that the cops have the same laptop he's used to screw them over again and again. He's relatively sure that even if they bypassed his pass codes and whatnot, they'd never know what to do with what they found. "That's good, I was worried."

Although Spinelli's eyes are closed, the back of his neck is prickling. He can feel Jason staring at him and he goes to turn around, not wanting Jason to see his face, but freezes when the prickle of pain in his side becomes much more than a prickle.

"I'm calling the nurse." Jason says, and does, despite Spinelli's protests.

It's a relief when the nurse shows up. Spinelli's head is all in a jumble and there are things he wants to say that he knows he shouldn't, because they will only make everything worse, and there are things that he wants Jason to say that he knows the other man never will. The nurse putters around and puts something in his IV, is attentive and caring, and asks Spinelli if he wants to see the doctor.

"No, I'm fine. Just tired."

The nurse eyes Jason. "Visiting hours are over."

Jason eyes the nurse back. Jason versus the nursing staff, yet another piece of the story Spinelli will hopefully find humor in at a later time. "I'm not leaving."

"Sir --"

"It's fine." Spinelli interjects. "Can he stay, just for a while?"

The nurse smiles kindly. "Well...just for a while, you'll need to sleep soon anyway."

Spinelli can already feel the tug of a drugged drowsiness. When the nurse leaves, Spinelli sighs. "Stone Cold, please -- just let it go."

"I'm not going to let it go Spinelli, someone tried to kill you, I'm going to find them and --"

"And what." Spinelli snapp. He just hurts so much all over, inside and out, he doesn't want to talk about this, or think about it. "And kill them?"

Jason doesn't say anything.

"That's not going to help anything, is it?" Spinelli asks tiredly. "It never does. It just keeps going, it's wrong, it's....don't do that to me, please."

Spinelli remembers Michael, who didn't want somebody killed on his behalf. He had understood that from the beginning, but now he knows the feeling personally.

Jason lets out a long, slow, suffering sigh. Spinelli can see with a pang that the other man's face is as drawn and tired as his own must be. There must be something Jason wants to say, things he wants to tell Spinelli - but Spinelli doesn't consider himself Jason's best friend for nothing, and he knows the man well enough to know that he won't say them at all. Sitting here, in the dark of the night, Jason is trying to say all those things without words. For once, Spinelli thinks it might not be enough.

In his head, Spinelli knows that Jason has regrets, far too many, and guilt enough to sink a ship. Spinelli has long since accepted Jason as the man that he is, loves him, but it would be nice to have an acknowledgement of his feelings. Spinelli's not asking for much, but a little, just an inch and he promises he won't try to take more.

I'm sorry. Jason says with his eyes. It's more than most people will get from Jason, ever.

"M'tired." Spinelli says. Somewhere in the hall is the clattering of shoes, of clipboards, of people dying and people being saved. The hospital pillow smells of something sharp, but also faintly of his own shampoo. He presses his face into it and breathes. "You can leave now."

He thinks it might be the meanest thing he has ever said to Jason. In his head he tries to imagine Jason's face. He wonders if it's hurt, if it's angry. His eyes are closed, heavy with drugs and pain, and he doesn't open them. Instead he falls asleep to the burning feel of Jason's gaze on him, quiet and intense.

When Spinelli wakes up the next morning, he is alone.