A/N: MILD PLOT SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 27 OF DALTON! If you haven't finished the episode, don't keep reading!
The two boys were the only things breaking up the white, sterile atmosphere of the hospital hallway. The shorter brunet squatted against the wall, elbows resting on his knees and arms crossed at the wrists as he looked at the pristine white tiled floor. The second boy, a tall blond, paced his way up and down the corridor, his hands crossed behind his back one minute and then running through his hair the next. He couldn't keep any part of him still, including his thoughts.
The brunet, Derek, looked up from the floor. "Logan, would you please just sit down? Or stop moving at least? You're stressing me out even more."
Logan stopped pacing and leaned against the nearest wall, sliding down until he sat on the tiles. His pulled his legs up against his chest, folded his arms over his knees, and buried his head in them. Derek continued to look at his friend.
"What's wrong? You're never this quite. And when you are, it's usually because you're too busy destroying something to actually say anything."
The blond looked up from his cocoon, his green eyes shown dull but somehow still full of anger. He glared for a moment at the shorter boy before the anger seemed to seep from his eyes and only the dullness was left. He disappeared back into his cocoon. He didn't need to say anything. The look was enough for Derek, who looked across the hall at the blond with worry etched into his features.
Suddenly, the door next to the brunet clicked open. Both boys turned towards the sound. A woman in a white lab coat appeared from the room. "Ms. Larson would like to speak with both of you," she said with a very small smile. Derek wasn't sure, but he could have sworn that smile was fake; it didn't quite seem to reach her eyes. I'm probably just imagining it, he thought, pushing the idea out of his mind.
The boys stood from their places on the floor as the doctor moved from the doorway and disappeared into another room down the hall. In the doorway, a second woman appeared where the first had just stood.
"Boys," Ms. Larson nodded to them in greeting. She shot a quick look over her shoulder into the room. "You can, umm, you can go in and see him," she hesitated for a moment, "if you'd like."
The two Stuarts turned to look at each other in shock, not believing what they had just heard. They had been forced to stay out of the room, catching updates on their friend from snippets of conversation they overheard in the hallway. It didn't sink in that they were really allowed into the room until Ms. Larson stepped out of their way, mentioning in a whisper that she was going to get coffee as she disappeared in the direction of the cafeteria.
Not knowing when Ms. Larson would return, and most likely kick them out, Logan and Derek pushed through the doorway and into the room.
What lay past the door they had both expected. At first glance, they would have been mistaken the sight as he was simply taking a nap. But it only took a moment to realize that wasn't the case.
Julian lay on crisp hospital sheets, his hair too perfectly styled for its owner to be sleeping. Then there was the equipment that filled the space around the head of his bed. The lines on the heart monitor moved in a steady pattern with a consistent beep. The IV line hooked to the back of his hand lead to a machine that added to the sound of the heart monitor. The steady rhythms and humming of the machines were a sort of soothing lullaby in what would otherwise have been a silent space.
The two boys hesitated for a moment, not knowing what to do or where to move. They had both imagined what it would look like to see Julian like this, but imagination is sometimes not enough to prepare for the reality.
Logan was the first to move, taking a seat on the small upholstered chair on Julian's left side. He sat ram-rod straight on the edge of the seat, clearly not comfortable with the situation he had suddenly found himself in.
Spurred on my Logan's movement, Derek found himself moving towards the unoccupied bed in the room, his posture mirroring the blond's. There hadn't been a single room available at the time of the Art Hall incident, but with some persuasion, Ms. Larson had been able to get Julian a room to himself.
Minutes passed as the room filled only with sounds of machines.
This time, Derek was the first to make a move. He relaxed slightly on the bed and leaned forward towards Julian. "Hey, Jules. It's Derek… Your mom finally let us in to see you." The athlete let the corners of his mouth turn up slightly.
"What are you doing, Derek?" Logan looked at his friend, eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
"Some people say that when someone's in a coma, they can still hear you. I don't know," Derek shrugged. "It seemed like it was worth a shot. Better than sitting here in silence."
Logan's eyebrows relaxed as he looked back down at the boy who lay on the bed before him. His back relaxed as he moved to sit fully in the chair, scooting it closer to the bed. Hesitantly, he lifted his right hand, hovering over Julian's left hand for a few moments before he placed it on top. The first thing he noticed was that the hand beneath his was far colder than he ever remembered it being in the three years they had known each other. "Oh, Jules," the blond said, barely above a whisper. He took a deep breath. "I'm… I'm so, so sorry. For everything. It's just… I'm such an idiot sometimes. And I'm sorry. Sorrier than I can ever tell you. And…" the blonds eyes began to prickle with tears, "and when you wake up, we have a lot of talking to do." Logan allowed himself to smile as a few tears broke free. "I want to make this better. I want to make up at least some of the pain I caused you all these years. I k-know I can never make it completely better, but I want to try. Because you deserve that." Logan and Derek were so engrossed in the speech that Logan was giving that they didn't noticed the line on the heart monitor change or that the beeping coming from it was beginning to slow. "You deserve so much more than what I've done and everything I can do, but I'm going to try. Because… because…"
Hospitals are boring as hell, Julian thought has he lay on the hospital bed. I just wish I could talk or something. Anything!
It was just another day as a hospital patient for Julian. Ever since the Art Hall fire, it had been the same routine every day. The nurse would come in to check him and the machines. Then the doctors would come in and do there evaluation. After that, his mom would come in to read the newspaper to him. Then when she had to leave to catch up on business, he would lay in silence for a few hours with nothing but the sound of the machines to keep him company.
Julian had made up his mind. He hated hospitals.
After the doctor came in to do her checks, he waited for his mother to take a seat next to him and read him the news. But today was different. He wasn't met with the sound of his mother's voice, but with what sounded like more than more pair of feet. And then silence.
And then more silence.
If he had been able to move, he would have jumped at the sudden sound of the voice he heard.
"Hey, Jules. It's Derek… Your mom finally let us in to see you."
Derek? Wait, did he just say "us"? That meant there was at least one other person in the room with them. If Derek was here, that could only mean the other person was…
"What are you doing, Derek?"
Julian became almost hyperaware at that moment. He sensed movement to his left, the side he had heard Logan's voice come from, and tried to decipher what was happening around him.
That's when he felt a hand rest on top of his. It felt as though the hand on his was burning up. Does Logan have a fever? The though merely flickered through Julian's mind as he came to realize that Logan was holding his hand. Although almost uncomfortably warm, the feeling was calming. What is going on? In his coma state, Julian tried to let the thoughts go. Logan was here, holding his hand and he didn't care why at this point. He was going to enjoy this contact, no matter how minimal and simple it seemed. The only thought now running through Julian's mind was how much he wished he could move, just simply turn his hand over and lace his fingers with the too warm ones above his.
Julian heard Logan begin to speak again. "Oh, Jules," the blond said, barely above a whisper. "I'm… I'm so, so sorry. For everything. It's just… I'm such an idiot sometimes. And I'm sorry. Sorrier than I can ever tell you. And…"
You are an idiot, but you have nothing to be sorry for. Everything's my fault. Everything.
"and when you wake up, we have a lot of talking to do."
Julian wasn't quite looking forward to that conversation, but he knew they needed it. He hoped that despite everything that they had gone through, not just in the past week, but over their entire friendship, everything would be worth it in the end. Something good has to come out of all of this.
"I want to make this better. I want to make up at least some of the pain I caused you all these years. I k-know I can never make it completely better, but I want to try. Because you deserve that."
I don't deserve anything after what's happened, Julian thought. But even if you are an idiot sometimes, I love you. Julian would have smiled.
"You deserve so much more than what I've done and everything I can do, but I'm going to try. Because… because…"
Julian thought that if he ever heard Logan saying something like this, his heart would beat faster. Whether out of longing or anger or love, he knew from experience that your heart is definitely supposed to beat faster. But all he could feel was Logan's hand growing remarkably warmer and his heart beating slower and his thoughts and the sound of Logan's voice growing dimmer…
"Because… because…" The blaring of an alarm startled Logan from what he was saying. His gaze shot up to the machines surrounding the head of Julian's bed. The sight of the unmoving line on the heart monitor made Logan's own heart skip a beat. "Julian!" he yelled. His eyes widening, he gripped Julian's hand tighter, lifting it off the bed and shaking it violently.
Derek watched through his own widened eyes as the scene unfolded before him.
A nurse ran into the room and began surveying the situation and moving machines out of the way as "Code Blue" blared over the hospitals intercom system. Those two simple words seemed to summon an entire group of hospital staff and a cart of equipment into the room.
The nurse who had been the first to the scene moved over to Logan's side. Derek wasn't sure how she had done it, especially seeing has Logan was at least a good foot taller than the woman, but she somehow managed to untangle Logan from Julian's side and move him away from the bed so that the staff could do their work.
Through the shock and sensory overload happening around him, Derek felt someone much taller cling to his side. Turning away from the scene, he saw that Logan had pulled away from the nurse that had been keeping him away from Julian's bed and made his way to where Derek was standing out of the way in the far corner of the room. His concentration refocused on the boy beside him. He couldn't do anything for the friend that lay on the bed across the room, but he could do something for the one that stood falling apart by his side.
Logan clung to Derek's shirt, all of the tears that he had held back over the past week seemed to be escaping at this moment.
"He can't leave. He has to come back. He always comes back!" chocked out between sobs. Derek tightened his arms around the taller boy, fighting to hold back his own tears.
They silently watched and listened to the team working to bring their friend back to life, each minute seeming to creep by slower than the last. They held onto each other for support, wishing for a miracle to happen.
Looks of confusion appeared on Logan and Derek faces as the staff around Julian's bed all took a step back.
"Time of death 10:48."
Derek and Logan gasped. The athlete felt Logan begin to shutter beside him with a new round of tears.
"NO!" the blond screamed. A second later, Derek was holding him back with all of the force he could muster as Logan tried to get past the hospital staff, who were gathering the equipment from around the bed and exiting the room. Once they had all left, Derek let go of Logan, who shot across the room and threw himself over Julian's chest, not attempting to hold back the tears streaming down his cheeks.
Julian looked as though he was sleeping, completely unphased by the chaos that had just happened around him.
But Derek knew otherwise.
Less than a minute later, a disheveled, out of breath Ms. Larson whipped through the doorway, stopping short at the sight of the two boys already there. Collecting herself the best she could, she cleared her throat to get their attention. Derek turned his head at the sound and Logan remained where he was, although he grew nearly silent.
"Could you… you boys g-give us-me a moment," she tried to hide the breath she took that she so desperately needed to keep herself together, "a-alone."
"Y-yeah," Derek didn't miss a beat. "Of course." He thought it was strange he wasn't upset that Ms. Larson was kicking them out of the room. Yes, Julian was their friend. But he was her son… and she hadn't been there when it happened.
Derek moved to Logan's side, lifting his with surprising ease from his place on Julian's chest. The blond leaned heavily on the shorter boy as they moved towards the door.
"Y-you boys were here when…" Ms. Larson took a deep breath. Derek and Logan stopped and both looked back over their shoulders. It was obvious that she was holding back her tears until she was alone. "… when…"
"Yes," Derek answered.
Silence filled the room for a moment. "T-thank you. At least he wasn't a-alone with s-strangers."
Derek nodded solemnly in response before heading out into the hallway, closing the door behind him. As the door clicked shut, he heard the faint sound of crying beyond the door.
Logan and Derek moved to nearest empty room. "You g-going to be ok?" Derek asked through his own tears. Logan began to nod before shaking his head vigorously. The two enveloped each other in a hug, the only sound was the occasional sniffle or sob.
A few minutes later, Logan lifted his head slightly and mumbled something that Derek didn't understand. The athlete took a step back. "What?"
"I n-never got to tell him how m-much he meant to me. I was a-always such a jerk to him. I n-never… I never told him h-how much it meant to me th-that he was my f-friend," Logan took a shaky breath. "A-and now h-he… h-he's." Logan fought back the new wave of tears welling in his eyes.
Derek's heart sank at the sight as he encased Logan in another hug which was readily returned. "H-he knew, Logan. Believe me. He knew."