"Drink"

"But the baby?" James asked, chest suddenly tight and painful. Biting his lip, he placed his palm on his bandaged chest, as if to will away the pain.

"The baby's fine, James." Siegfried said, grateful for that small mercy. Awkwardly, he let James' hand drop to the coverlet, and nervously rubbed his hand through his hair. James sank back, though he hadn't realized he was tautly sitting up, and breathed easier.

Siegfried, for all that he had stuck his arms up to the shoulder in a cow's bloody chest, and stared at the mangled results of a car more often than not – felt unexpectedly queasy looking at James' injuries.

"How… How do you feel, James?" Siegfried said quietly, rubbing his thumb against his forefinger, feeling tiny and insignificant – guilty as sin with James' blue eyes still staring at him.

"Fine-" At Siegfried's look of amazed reproach, was that guilt too?, James amended his answer "Awful. What happened with Howarth? His wife?"

"James – I…" How was he to know that you didn't know about Howarth and his wife, Siegfried thought. How was he to tell James that Howarth was now dead, and that Mrs. Howarth was still unconscious, the history of her husband's abuse standing out dark and savage on her fair skin.

Staring down at his hand, feeling lonely and desperate, Siegfried abandoned his mission to offer comfort to James. He sat silent and uncomfortable, eying the wrinkles in his trousers, feeling utterly miserable in this quagmire.

"Siegfried – what's wrong with you?" James said, raising an eyebrow, taking a deep breath and ignoring the burning sensation in his chest. He reached out, then stopped, nerve endings complaining loudly. Siegfried felt tears pooling in his eyes, and he stood up, abruptly, and put his hat on his head.

"Good-bye James." Siegfried said, turning, ignoring the confused look in James' eyes and the look of agony on his young, already lined face.

"…Siegfried?" James cried to Siegfried's back, and Siegfried flinched though he didn't turn around. He just walked away, away from James, away from his stupidity, and into the cold outside. Desolation made James more emotional and more tired than he actually was and he leaned back into his pillow, covering his painful and stitched face with his hand, ignoring the tears of loneliness. Tears of betrayal.

At the edge of the ward, Siegfried glanced back over his shoulder, and the sight of James seeking assurance in his absolute loneliness sped his step towards the threshold, ignoring the black hole of dark emotion in his chest.

Siegfried bloody needed a drink.