A/N: Heyhey, people! I've got a brand new, shiny chapter right here. And I must admit, I didn't really know where I was going with the whole Hoffman-development, but then I realized that not only can I please my own sick obsession with Hoffman, but also use him to awesomely tie together the story for you guys! So everybody's happy!
8: Can You Bleed Like Me
Gordon looks up from the files John gave him earlier today. He looks like he barely remembered that Hoffman was there until he spoke up.
"Uh, yeah," he says halfheartedly and starts reading again. "Sure."
He doesn't sound too excited. Hoffman doesn't blame him. It's too early for dinner. He just needs an excuse to get out, because he's bored out of his mind, and Gordon knows what sort of food he usually gets at this place, anyway. Plus, now days, he seems too busy to eat, with all these charts and games and shit that he has to take care of. Hoffman can't help but missing the days when he came in with food and Gordon was so eager for the food that he basically tore it out of his hands.
Hoffman stands up and grabs his coat from his bed. He starts walking towards the door, and gets annoyed when he notices that he walks slower than usual, his gaze flickering over to the bed in the corner, where Gordon is half-sitting, with the tiniest wrinkle between his eyebrows.
"I'll go get us some pizza," he says, and at this, at least Gordon looks up. "You like that, don't you?"
Lawrence opens his mouth slowly.
"Yeah, I do," he says, and actually lowers the charts he's holding. "That sounds great."
He seems more surprised than happy, but at least it's a reaction. So it's with at least a little satisfaction that Hoffman walks out of the room and locks the door behind him.
He doesn't like the way he's acting now days. Like he really needs Gordon's company. This beats having to wake him up from his damn tossing and wriggling every time he had a nightmare, but it still doesn't make sense. When John started giving Gordon assignments, it demanded a lot from him mentally.
Especially considering that Gordon was still more or less insane.
Gordon's solution for that is simple. He's still a super-surgeon, but lately, rather than staring blankly into his laptop, like he did in his old life, he apparently needs some kind of ball plank to keep his thoughts straight when he looks into a new game.
"This guy weighs approximately 350 pounds," he'd say, with papers scattered neatly across his lap. "No previous cardiac condition, no blood diseases, no terminal illness… And with a nerve gas spreading at this rate, it should take…"
Hoffman still isn't sure if Gordon's talking to him when he says stuff like that. But he's always the only person in the room, and he never has anything better to do. And if Gordon would, against every odds, lose his tracks or not know where to go from there, Hoffman helps to his best efforts. Not that he knows anything about medicine, but sometimes, it seems to be enough if he just says something encouraging. Or just brings his mind off of… Whatever's distracting him. Stupid things, like his family, his life back home.
None of that is for Gordon, though, Hoffman knows that much. He would've made Gordon feel like he was on top of the world if he could, because then he'd do a better job for John. As it is, the best he can do is to make Gordon feel like he's alive and there are no monsters in the room, and they just have to work around that.
It's not as hard as it could've been. Gordon doesn't have the panic attacks anymore, and that's probably the best they can hope for.
Hoffman finds an okay pizza place nearby, buys something good for himself and takes a halfhearted chance on what Gordon might like. When he leaves the restaurant a couple of minutes later, it strikes him that he's basically been bunk buddies with this guy for months now, and he still has no idea what he's like. Under normal circumstances, that would've been weird, but these circumstances can't really be considered normal.
They don't really talk much, after all. And when they do, it's either because Gordon is panicking about something, or it's because they're planning to put someone in a trap and watch them die.
Hoffman stops in his tracks when that thought hits him. It only takes a second before his brain connects in the only way it can: Remember what John says, and then he keeps walking, head down, so that no one will recognize him or find any reason to follow him back to their den.
He's going to go back, and do everything John tells him to do. But the okay mood he got from going outside – he doesn't get to do that often if it isn't to show his face at the police station to make it seem like he still does something there – is gone. He looks down at the pizza boxes and suddenly wants nothing more than to throw them into a wall.
He doesn't, though. He walks back home, into the building, back to his and Gordon's room. Like John would tell him to do. Like he's supposed to do.
Gordon looks up when he walks into the room. Hoffman tries to ignore how oddly exposed that makes him feel, and strides up to the hospital bed, awkwardly placing the pizza boxes on Gordon's knees. He's met with a look like Gordon's forgotten that he even left the room, let alone told him where he was going.
"They're pizzas," Hoffman says wearily and gestures towards the boxes. "You know, that you eat."
Gordon keeps staring at him for a moment. If he's slow normally now days, it's nothing against what he's like when he's meant to take a joke.
"Oh…" he then says and looked down at the boxes. "Okay… Which one is mine?"
"Whichever. I don't really care."
Gordon stares at him for another couple of seconds, before he nods and opens the box on top. Then he opens the box and looks at the pizza. Hoffman doesn't put much thought into that; Gordon spends most of his time trying to analyze things now days. If you give him a glass of water, he can't drink it before he's looked at it for a while like he's trying to figure out why there's suddenly a glass of water in front of him. So instead of making a sarcastic remark about how stupid he looks, Hoffman just takes the other box from his lap and brings it to the chair next to the bed.
He starts eating, still not really thinking about the fact that Gordon doesn't follow suit. But when he's halfway done, and Gordon still hasn't touched his food, Hoffman looks up, and notices that he doesn't stare at the pizza like he usually does when he's trying to figure it out, when his brain is too worn out from suppression and gut-wrenching regret to process things from the real world. Now, Gordon just stares at his food like he wants to stomp it to pieces with his one foot.
Hoffman sighs audibly, hoping and failing to draw some kind of reaction from this idiot. God, he's so not in the mood for this. All he wanted was to kill some of his own monotony, getting some fresh air, and hopefully put a smile on Gordon's face so he wouldn't have to watch that fucking zombie-look he wears all the time. But no. Of course he can't have even that.
"What's your fucking problem?" he snarls and drops a crust in his almost empty box. "I know you're a fucking lunatic psycho, Gordon, but that's really no excuse. You're not as bad as me, and even I'm normal enough to like pizza."
Gordon doesn't even look up. Hoffman wants to tear those goddamn ogling eyes out of his head.
It's barely more than a mutter. Hoffman still hears it, from the sheer amount of different emotions in that word.
"I used to… When… I… I…"
Gordon takes a deep breath, at least stable enough to hide his hands under the covers. As if Hoffman hasn't already noticed that they're shaking.
"I… When I was late picking up Diana from school…" Gordon finally gets out, closing his eyes. "Which was a lot. I was never on time, if showed up at all. And then I… I'd take her to this pizza place. To say I was sorry. For being late. And she was always mad at me, and she should've been, because I was a bad… I was a bad… Fa-fa-father…"
Hoffman sighs, putting the box back down on the floor.
"Gordon," he says, firmly. "Gordon. Listen to me. Don't think about that. It's going to interfere with your work. Don't think about that shit. It's a waste of time. Right?"
Lawrence releases a quivering exhale, still clearly wanting nothing more than to just die, but at least he turns his head and looks at Hoffman, pale eyes, almost transparent. He barely hears him, it doesn't matter what he says.
In his head, Gordon is back home, with his daughter. Which is probably why it's so painful to him to look around and see that he's in fact in a filthy, grim imitation of a hospital room.
"Don't think about it," Hoffman repeats, almost desperately now. "You're going to work, right? You have a job to do. A very important job, that only you can do… And breathe, goddamn it."
Gordon takes a few quivering, hyperventilating breaths, stares firmly at a spot in the ceiling. Hoffman barely dares to lean back, hell, he hadn't even realized that he was sitting leaned forward to make sure he was looking Gordon in the eye. It seems like forever that they sit like that, with Gordon trying to control himself, Hoffman having no idea why this makes him feel this way. Like someone's put a knife in a drape that he used to cover up something he didn't want to see.
It takes a couple of minutes, but eventually, Gordon exhales heavily and takes his hands back out. They're not shaking anymore.
"Okay," he says. "Okay. I'm just going to work."
He means it, Hoffman hears that. He means it in a different way than he did before. He means that he's not going to get things like this get the best of him anymore, he's not going to sleep for fourteen hours after he's done a surgery because it takes so much out of him. He's not going to talk to Adam when he's alone.
He's not going to look at a pizza and see his daughter. He's not going to see her at all anymore.
That's a good thing. He's going to do a better job for John.
And Hoffman still can't be satisfied about it.
"Good," he says anyway. "That's the only thing you're useful for here, anyway. Now, would you eat your fucking pizza?"
Gordon doesn't even look at him. He just obeys orders. He opens the carton, takes a slice of pizza and eats it. Blank face. Doesn't see his daughter. Probably doesn't see anything at all.
Hoffman leans back and finishes his pizza, too. He really can't remember why he ever felt good about buying these things. Now, he wishes he could've just been happy eating whatever crap they had in the fridge back here.
It's one of those bad nights tonight. Hoffman hasn't cried in almost seven years, but during these nights, he's too damn close to it.
This is why he has no compassion for Gordon being so loud when he has nightmares. At least Hoffman has the common courtesy of being quiet when he wakes up after watching her die. Again.
It's not like that tonight, though. Tonight, it's just weird as hell. He has a dream that Angelina dies again, but this time, it's Gordon that kills her. Hoffman tries to beat him up, but Gordon keeps saying that it's work, he has to do it. Hoffman tries to understand what kind of fucking work that is, killing people for no reason… Before he remembers that he's the one that taught Gordon that job, and then he looks down at his hands, and sees that he's the one holding a bloody knife…
Even after that dream, Hoffman manages to wake up quietly. But he's never been as sweaty as he is that night, that image of the dream so vivid on his retina. He tries to convince himself that he's fine, even tries to stand up, but for God's sake, can't the floor stop moving?
Hoffman sits back down. Spends a few minutes trying to control his breathing. Then he stands up and goes to the nearest bar. He's promised John never to drink again, and up until now, he's kept that promise, but it's never been this bad. He's had dreams before where he's somehow responsible for her death, but never like this.
Never the knife in his hand.
Hoffman orders a double Whiskey. At this point, he'd prefer the whole damn bottle and a straw. Fucking Gordon. Making him think of it again.
He rarely actually thinks about that night now days. It's mostly in his dreams. He'd prefer it if he just thought about it, then he could've stopped it when he wanted to. It feels like it'd be enough to think that it was his fault that his sister died once, and then he could've dropped it. That would've made him feel horrible enough. Having that statement played out in different interpretations in his head when he can't do anything about them is more than he can stand, even now that he doesn't feel anything.
He has no idea what Gordon did there, though. He had nothing to do with Angelina, and even less to do with the fact that she was murdered. Hoffman downs his shot, orders another one and waited for the warm rush in his stomach. He didn't even know that Gordon existed until about six months ago, and she died long before that.
She died… Almost nine years ago. Just a couple of months after he made detective.
Wow. He's never really thought of it that way. Hoffman gulps down another shot. It burns all the way down.
It seemed like so much less time. Maybe because he's spent the majority of that time trying not to think about it.
What did you think about instead? When you stopped thinking about her, what did you think of to make up for it?
Definitely John. The only reason he stopped obsessing over Angelina is that John found him. He picked him up from the gutter, from that mockery of heroism he showed off at the station and showed him what it was really like to save a life. Hoffman downs another shot. Putting his head down on the counter suddenly seems like an awesome idea.
John saved him. Yeah. That was it.
What did he save you from?
He saved him from… Angelina. Which was good. He needed that.
He saved you from the only person you've truly loved? You really needed saving from your only family?
I did, Hoffman argues. He has no idea if he said it out loud or just in his head, but he doesn't really find it in him to care. She was… She messed me up. I couldn't take it with her… There all the time. It's better now. It is.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he reminds himself that this is exactly why he stopped drinking. Even the dead mind, even the rare flashes of complete, pitch-black panic he occasionally felt if something reminded him of her, is better than being too tired and drunk to defend himself against his own goddamn logical mind.
It's better now. And now you're trying to turn Gordon into the exact same… Thing as you are.
I have to.
For your own sake.
It's for John. He… He can't have some goddamn pussy running around and flipping shits about his daughter.
It's for you.
You can't stand seeing him feeling things you can't feel anymore.
Hoffman had no idea at what state he leaned his forehead against the counter, but there he is. Goddamn it. He wasn't going to do this anymore. And there has to be some way for him to sit back up, but it occurs to him as very complicated somehow.
Fucking Gordon. He wasn't going to do this anymore.
Fucking Gordon fucking things up.
He's going to do something about him as soon as he's had another drink.