This takes place soon after Eddie R. leaves, when the Lawson boys are younger.
Disclaimer: I do not own Royal Pains...although that would be like the coolest thing ever.
It had happened again.
His little brother had for the hundreth time, fallen asleep by the door. To most, it really wouldn't have come off as a big deal. Anyone who found their brother -or son- curled up into an uncomfortable ball beside the door would have found it somewhat cute. To have his face contorted in an odd expression as it rested against the wall, the floor, the whatever. To find him there, drooling, looking as peaceful as a boy could be. But in Hank Lawson's eyes, it was anything but that.
It was just disgusting.
It was repulsive to him, how the only time he found his brother in peace was when he was out cold. And even then, it was sometimes evident that the younger boy's slumber was filled with anything but peace. This was not the way things should have been. Not for his brother, and not for him either. Not for any child on the face of the planet. But for some reason beyond their understanding, things had just turned out that way. And he was getting used to finding his brother -huddled up in the corner by the door, or lying out in front of it, or in a chair that he'd broughten himself so he could sit in. To just sit and wait.
And wait, and wait, and wait...
Until he couldn't wait any longer, and his blue eyes grew too heavy from the tears that endlessly poured out of them...and then he just slept. And he dreamt of his father coming back, or his mother getting better, or about how they used to be a real family. And other times his dreams would be haunted by seeing the image of his father walking away from him. And when he would call out, no-one seemed to hear him. His father would just turn around and walk out of his life and there was nothing he did that could change it. And then he would wake -startled, upset. And the scene would play itself over like a broken record player and Hank Lawson could only watch. Like a movie he'd seen too many times. And his brother was the star.
The first few times it happened, Hank wasn't sure what to do. He would wake his brother and tell him to get his butt to bed, but it was never done. He would drag his brother to bed only to wake up alone hours later. To find his brother had left the comfort of his own bed to just wait by the door for the return of a man who didn't deserve the time of day. And Hank knew the moment the man walked out that he wasn't going to come back. But his brother didn't know, and he couldn't have told him. There was no way he was going to break the boy's heart like that. So he let it be. He watched him, night after night. Dragging his little body over near the door, despite how unpleasant it was. He always found something to do. And many of the times, Hank noted, his plan was to just cry. For what a bad man his father was, and how cruel the world was, and how it was totally unfair for their mother to get sick.
Because it really wasn't fair.
She was a good lady. She was the best mother in the world. Everything had been alright. And at times, both boys wondered why their dad had suddenly changed when their mom got sick. It wasn't her fault, so why had he acted like it? It was wrong, it was stupid. It was just not fair.
And despite all the times Hank tried to get it through Evan's head -indirectly, of course- that it was only a waste of his time...his brother would not listen. He would lash out, push Hank when he tried to pull him away. He would scream and kick and cry when his brother picked him up and moved him from the door. Because his dad could come back at any second, and if he missed him, then it would be all his brother's fault. And Hank grew weary, and exhausted from trying. Because it was just too much. Evan wanted to be by the door. So Hank let him. Because it was the only thing he wanted. And both already had so much taken away from them. He wouldn't take that one thing away from his brother.
But now it was more than enough.
Almost three weeks since the man they called their father walked out on them. Right out of the house, right out of their lives. And Hank knew his brother was younger and didn't understand, or didn't want to understand. But it was about time he did. Because he couldn't just let him live like this anymore. They had to accept, they had to move on. He could not sit back and watch his brother wither away. He was too young. And Hank, being the man of the house, had to take control. Whether his brother liked it or not. Because he needed it.
That night he helped get his brother ready for bed, and steered him straight into their room as he'd done many times before. He told his brother to stay in bed and to wake him up if he couldn't sleep. Although Evan agreed, he never did it. He would stay in bed for however long he could. He would wait until his brother was asleep, or for the moment when he woke up again because he never slept for long. And he would get himself out of bed and walk himself towards the door. And he would look out the window to see any cars, or any people, and wonder when exactly his dad was coming home from his vacation.
It happened over and over again.
So when Hank awoke that night, and found his brother's bed empty, it came as no surprise. But he could sit back and do nothing no longer. He pushed himself out of bed and trudged down the hallway, eyeing his brother who was fast asleep in a single loveseat placed by the door. He stood there a few minutes, just watching his brother's chest rise and fall. It seemed like the only thing that was consistent. He knew his brother's chest would go up and go down, and it would start all over again. He just knew it. But he didn't know what had possessed his father to make him betray them like that. He didn't know why his mother had gotten sick. He didn't know when but she was going to die soon. And when that happened, he wasn't sure what would happen. But this...his brother. He watched him carefully. It was the only predictable thing.
And after a minute or two, he released an exhausted sigh and tapped his brother on the arm. "Evan."
The boy did not stir. Henry frowned and placed a hand on his shoulder, giving it a little shake. "Ev, wake up." His brother groaned and peeked an eye open at him, then it shut. With a shake of the head, big brother Lawson only repeated the act. "Evan. Come on, get up."
Evan blinked his eyes a few times to clear the burred image of his brother looming over him. "Hmm?"
His older brother reached a hand out for him to take, "Let's go to bed."
But Evan did not take it. He turned to face the door with a hard stare, urging it to just pop open as quickly as possible to prove his negative brother wrong. He wanted his father to come in with gifts and tell them he lost his way back. But when that door did not budge, Hank's patience flared, and he was struck by a sudden sense of anger.
He was angry for his brother, as young as he was, not facing reality. For still believing his father was a good man and that he was coming back -or that he deserved to come back. For having hope when he had nothing. For his father leaving them in the dust like they meant nothing at all. For their mother getting ill, and for everything else that had gone wrong. For the life he and his brother were now forced to live. For the speed they were being forced to grow up. For the fact that his brother did this every single night. He could not handle it anymore. It was completely ridiculous.
"Now, Evan. Get up."
Both boys were startled by the volume and sharpness of his voice. He wanted to scream. He wanted to yell and shout and holler and whatever else he could, because he had too much to handle. He had to take care of himself. Of his brother. His mother had told him that. She told him to watch his brother, and keep him out of trouble. And he had no choice but to listen to her. But that didn't make things easy, and Evan wasn't making things easy. But he knew yelling would not help anything. It would just make things worse. He was just scared and his brother was all he had left. He couldn't let this keep happening. He could not keep waiting. He had to save his brother now.
Evan's eyes met his brother's sorry ones. The forgiveness was unspoken, but exchanged. Hank stretched his hand out again, waiting for his brother to take it. "Come on...let's go." He mumbled, voice dangerously quiet, yet loud enough to be heard.
It took a few moments, but Evan reluctantly gave his brother his hand. Hank gave him a sad smile and helped him out of the chair.
"He's not coming back, is he?"
Hank simply squeezed his brother's hand and led him back towards their bedroom. Evan stole one last glance at the door he knew he would never see his father come through again, silent tears running both his and his brother's faces...