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Heart - 5. Jenga

The boys' budding relationship catches the attention of Neil.

Tyson's schedule at home was quite full, relentless, tedious and taxing. On a given school day, he would start the day off with a six o'clock wake-up call. Then he would go through the morning routine - exercise group or swimming laps with his sister in the backyard pool, then shower, breakfast, brushing teeth and off to his prestigious private school. Following that, he would either play a sport or learn an instrument, then he would do his homework and assignments, have dinner, then two hours of tutoring - one hour each of two lessons. That left very little free time before bed, and Tyson spent that time planning his suicide. He did not have the privilege of watching much television or many movies, so he was seeing Shrek for the first time today.

In fact, today was the first day in a very long time where - outside medication - he had no responsibilities at all. No appointments, no expectations. He could spend his time how he wanted to. He, Vladimir and sometimes Charlie had fun watching movies and playing board games. Now, he was on the couch next to Vladimir, snuggled up and resting his head against the older boy's chest. Vladimir had one arm around Tyson's slim shoulders and his other hand gently stroking his hair. He was happy, safe and warm where he was. Vladimir wasn't doing as well as Tyson, though. He was hearing voices and speaking to them under his breath.

"Children, have you ever met the boogeyman before?" Vladimir whispered in an eerie sing-song voice. "No, of course you haven't, for you're much too good, I'm sure. Don't you be afraid of him if he should visit you. He's a great big coward, so I'll tell you what to do. Hush hush hush. Here comes the Boogeyman."

"Vlady?" Tyson asked him, turning his head and keeping his voice low so that nobody would hear them. He snapped his fingers in his friend's face as he'd learned to do to shock him out of his dissociative trance. "Are you okay?"

"Mmm? I'm okay," Vladimir reassured him and stroked his fingers down the boy's neck. Tyson shivered with ecstasy at the touch. "Sorry. Ignore me."

"What is it you're singing?" Tyson asked him, and Vladimir shrugged.

"She... she sings," he touched his fingers to his forehead. "I don't even realise I'm singing too. Sorry."

"Don't be sorry. I think it's nice. You have a good singing voice," Tyson smiled and nuzzled in closer. "Does it make you feel better?"

"You make me feel better," Vladimir cooed in his ear, and Tyson felt his skin grow hot with joy and desire.

He wanted to kiss Vladimir on the mouth. He wanted to go into his room with Vladimir and touch him and play with him and do those naughty things he knew that people did when they were in love. With the amount of supervision he and Vladimir both had though, as high-risk patients even in the low-dependency unit, there was little chance of that happening. When we're discharged, Tyson thought. They'll do all those things when they get released. His dirty thoughts meant he had to keep adjusting himself on the couch so the whole unit didn't see how excited he was getting.

"Fuck off, bitch," Tyson barked at whoever was bothering Vladimir's poor brain. "He's my friend, not yours!"

He beamed from ear to ear when Vladimir giggled and played with the boy's fingers. Tyson loved it when their fingers locked together. Brown, white, brown, white. The contrast was pretty. Vladimir's skin was so fair, and Tyson's so dark. Although his father was a Caucasian man, Edith had Sri Lankan heritage, and he shared her skin tone. Tyson tended to be self-conscious about his skin colour. Many people had made it clear that they disliked South Asians. The discrimination hurt. It damaged his self-esteem. He often wished he was Caucasian like his father was. Vladimir didn't, though. He seemed to like Tyson the way he was.

Shrek was an excellent movie. Tyson thoroughly enjoyed it. In some ways, he could relate to the angry, lonely ogre. Shrek only wanted to be loved in the end, didn't he? For who he was. He didn't mean to be so mad all the time. He just... he was tired. Then he found Fiona, the princess who had issues of her own. She changed between day and night like Vladimir sometimes did. It wasn't easy, but the two of them worked everything out.

Shrek and Fiona fell in love, and even though their romance didn't solve their problems, it didn't matter. Those problems didn't seem to be relevant anymore. They still lived happily ever after, flawed as they were. Every time Vladimir's thumb stroked Tyson's hand or the fingers of his other hand played with the boy's hair, it stoked the fire in the boy's heart. He wondered if he and Vladimir could be like Shrek and Fiona. Tyson thought of himself as a Fiona.

"Hey boys, do you mind if I have a quick chat with you?" Neil was quick to make his presence felt when he descended upon them the moment the credits hit. His shift must have started.

"Hmm?" Vladimir separated his hand from Tyson's and turned his neck.

"What about?" Tyson asked, a little annoyed that he dared to interrupt them.

"Come to the sensory room with me for just a second, okay?" He squeezed both of them on their shoulders and waited for them to respond.

"Why?" Tyson asked, suspicious and paranoid, but Vladimir got to his feet right away.

"You're not in trouble," he reassured him, and he smiled. Neil was cute, and Tyson's heart tended to flutter when he saw him. He'd tied his long blond hair into a loose bun, with a few strands of hair free and falling to his chin. He still had transparent braces on his white, slightly crooked teeth, even though he was a young man. He was fit and healthy. Kind, but very firm. "Come along, please."

"Here."

Vladimir handed the crutch to Tyson and used his other hand to help the younger boy painfully stand up on his sturdy left foot. His right one was in as much pain as ever, and he still refused the painkillers. It was too useful as a method of hurting himself and bringing that surge of feeling he'd grown addicted to.

The sensory room was small and square, but unlike seclusion, it was colourful and bright. The carpet was vibrant and red, the walls covered in paintings created by kids during art therapy and origami swans of every colour hung from the ceiling. There were toys to play with and big, squishy beanbags, and even some scented candles - though they were never to be lit. It was a place where the less aggressive kids chilled out when they were upset. Tyson was free to use it whenever he liked, but because he was a potential risk to himself or others, he was locked in the padded seclusion room where he couldn't cause any harm.

Neil waited for them to sit in two of the beanbags before he joined them. He always wore gloves and sanitised his hands quite often. Word around the ward was that he was terrified of germs.

"Tyson and Vladimir!" Neil clasped his hands in front of him, speaking enthusiastically in his deep voice. "You two boys have become quite good friends, haven't you?"

"I guess," Tyson replied with a casual shrug.

"Ah-huh," Vladimir responded at the same time. Tyson caught those blue eyes twinkling behind the raven-coloured fringe and the merry mouth curling into an involuntary smile. It made his own caramel coloured lips smile as well.

"That's fantastic," Neil clapped his hands together. "It's always good to make friends, isn't it? It makes time in places like this more bearable. I'm just letting you know that we staff have noticed that you boys are getting closer than most. Do you know what I'm talking about?"

"Handholding and stuff?" Vladimir answered that question.

Good. It was probably better if the older boy did. He was much more level-headed. Tyson tended to be impertinent and rude in situations where criticism could be on the table. All he ever faced was criticism, especially when being compared to his big sister and his parents.

"That's right. You're very cuddlesome and affectionate," Neil nodded, sitting forward and bracing his elbows on his knees. "So I would like to ask you why that is. Are you good friends, or is there something more there?"

"What do you mean?" Vladimir asked after a pause, and Tyson watched him intently. He wanted to see his friend answer the questions. Body language accounts for up to fifty-five per cent of effective communication. Right now, Tyson could see that Vladimir was nervous and shy. And gorgeous, of course.

"Well, do you like each other more than most friends like each other?" Neil chose his words carefully. Tyson didn't think it was any of his fucking business and almost told him just that, but once again, Vladimir answered before he did. Was he doing it on purpose?

"Maybe. I'm not sure. Tys, what do you think?" Vladimir turned to look at him, and he turned pink. Cute!

"Yeah?" Tyson certainly thought so, but he didn't want to appear too eager. He might scare Vladimir off if he did that. Neil might want to separate them. He better fucking not!

"There's nothing wrong with that at all," Neil even let a soft laugh from his pink lips. "But the reason I'm asking is that we have rules here. You now?" He exhaled. It mustn't have been an easy discussion for him. "If you two want to hold hands and hug and cuddle on the couch, then you're welcome to. That being said, please be mindful of where you are and why you're here. Being in each other's room or hands anywhere underneath clothes is strictly not on, do you understand?"

"Oh! I wasn't-- um!" Vladimir was thoroughly embarrassed by his words and covered his face with his hands. "No, Neil! No! Why would you even say that?"

"Does it... is it okay if we kiss sometimes?" Tyson asked shyly, and Vladimir giggled to himself. Neil grimaced.

"You're really not supposed to," he admitted, and Tyson huffed in disappointment. "Look, you boys have been honest with me, and I appreciate that. So, kissing is sort of a no-go area, you see? If your girlfriend or boyfriend came to visit you here, you're welcome to kiss them hello and goodbye. But since you're both under our care, it's inappropriate. Those are the rules. I think if you boys can behave responsibly and respectfully, then you can have a cuddle now and then, but no kissing. If you can't be sensible, then we'll have to separate you. Okay?"

"Okay, Neil!" Tyson was okay with the fact that Neil, for the first time ever, had agreed to waive the rules, even if it was just a tiny bit. "I promise we'll be good!"

"Yeah!" Vladimir nodded in agreement, still embarrassed and skittish about the topic. "Thank you for the warning. I'm sorry. This is probably all weird for you."

"Not as weird as you might think!" Neil stood up, indicating that the conversation was over. "I have a boyfriend of my own. So, let me just say that if either of you guys ever needs to talk about this kind of thing, you know where to find me."

Neil is gay? Tyson and Vladimir looked at each other at the same time, their mouths hanging open. That was a surprise. Sure, he looked a bit effeminate with the long blond hair tied into a neat bun, but he was a masculine guy. It came as a surprise. Now, Tyson looked at him anew. He wasn't just the cute but stern afternoon nurse. He was an ally.

"Okay young Vlad, it's time for your two o'clock meds, can you follow me to the nurse's station please?" Neil beckoned with a latex coated finger. Tyson had never seen his hands before. He always wore gloves. "Tyson mate, you chill out today, alright? You haven't got anything booked until dinner time. Do you want to see any visitors today?"

"No thanks," Tyson shook his head, heaving himself up. "They make me angry."

"Fair enough. Let me know if you change your mind, okay buddy?" Neil smiled and took Vladimir with him in the other direction.

Wow. Vlady has a nice butt, Tyson noted with a cheeky smile. Those purple jeans hugged it so tightly, and the boy tended to swivel his hips ever so slightly with every step. He wondered what Vladimir would look like without his shirt. He'd seen him clad in a sleeveless shirt and his underwear, though. That was nice. Admiring him wasn't a priority at that moment, though. Vladimir was hearing and seeing terrifying stuff last night, and making sure he was okay was the most important thing.

That must be so hard for him, Tyson thought sadly as he hobbled back to the living area. He couldn't imagine what it was like not to hear things that weren't real. To see some freaky three-headed monster that he thought was trying to kill him. To know that it's not real and to keep seeing them anyway. The way Vladimir dissociated from reality and went into a trance. Hopefully, he'd be okay.

Emre and Derrick were having fun kicking a little inflatable ball around together. Tyson wished he could join them. He loved soccer. Stupid foot - although it did come with some benefits. The sprain was a convenient excuse to get out of the dumb exercise groups he was supposed to go to. Although there were plenty of ways to keep himself active without the use of his bad ankle, he still liked to use the sprain to get out of it. He used it to get out of a lot of things.

He got so used to the sprained ankle excuse that while on his second day, after being heavily medicated for both his fall and his anger issues, according to Sue, he groggily demanded that she exchange his white bread sandwich for wholegrain because white bread would hurt his foot. Sue still made fun of him for that one, and it made the rounds among the nursing staff. Tyson didn't remember anything about it, but everybody else refused to forget!

It wouldn't take long for his friend to return from the nurses' station, so Tyson sat down on the corner couch with his sprained ankle elevated. It still throbbed. It hurt. It was good. Sure enough, Vladimir sprung over the back of the furniture and landed with no grace whatsoever in the spot next to Tyson.

"What are we doing?" Vladimir asked, and Tyson flushed. That word. 'We.'

"What do you want to do?" Tyson asked with a shrug. "I'm pretty bored."

"Wow. Thanks," Vladimir sat cross-legged. It didn't look comfortable. "I know!" He sprung up and as good as ran over to the shelf stacked full of games and puzzles for everyone to enjoy and came back with a Jenga tower. "Jenga!

"Vlady, we're not six," Tyson rolled his eyes. Blocks are for children.

"It doesn't say ages six and under," Vladimir quipped back at him. "Give it a go!"

"I don't want to play Jenga!" Tyson snapped at him, and Vladimir shrugged.

"You'd rather be bored than play a game? So what do you want to do then?" Vladimir asked, ignoring the rudeness in his friend's reply.

"I dunno!" Tyson felt himself getting frustrated. "Not Jenga!"

"Okay," Vladimir walked back and put the packet down before returning. There wasn't a bounce in his step this time. "Do you want me to go?"

"No," Tyson pleaded. I don't know what I want anymore. I'm tired. I'm restless. I want to die. I want to live. I don't know. "Can we just sit for a minute? Is that okay?"

"Sure," Vladimir sat back down. "What's wrong, Tys? You can talk to me."

"Ahh I dunno," Tyson admitted, absent-mindedly scratching his forearm. "It's this place, y'know? Like, I'm used to being so busy that I don't have any time to think about stuff. Now that I'm here, I'm thinking all the time, and it's... I don't like it, but I don't want to go back to my life. Do you understand?"

"Well, not really," Vladimir replied after a short pause. "I don't know what you deal with in here or out there, so I can't judge. What do you think about?"

"Dying, mostly," Tyson replied with a heavy sigh. "Hurting myself. Hurting my family. Sometimes you."

"You want to hurt me?" Vladimir asked, a little shocked, but Tyson shook his head.

"No. No no no. That came out wrong! I think about you. Not hurting you," he smiled and reached over to put his fingers on Vladimir's arm. "You're the only one who makes me feel good in here. Well, maybe the nurses and Cynthia sometimes, but I'm happy you're here."

"I'm glad you're here too," Vladimir smiled and rested his head on Tyson's shoulder. "Do you know how long you'll be here until discharge?"

"Indefinite right now," Tyson sighed. "When Cynthia reckons I'm not gonna hurt myself again."

"Good. If you're safe here, then I don't want you to go," Vladimir reached across and caressed Tyson on the cheek. "I'd miss you so much."

Tyson wasn't sure how he felt about Vladimir's sweet words. The touch certainly took some of the sting out of them. He wanted to die. He would die. But he didn't want to leave Vladimir alone, especially after he said that he'd be there for him when they both get out. Knowing his parents, though, he wouldn't be allowed to continue the friendship anyway.

"How long will you be here?" Tyson asked him, and Vladimir shrugged.

"At the moment, I'll be discharged a week from Monday. It depends on how I go, I guess," he stated, brushing his black hair with his fingers. "So if you get out first, you have to promise to be here when it's my turn!"

"Okay! I promise!" Tyson giggled. "Will you do the same for me if you're out first?"

"Damn straight, I will! And we'll go down to Olivine Lake and do picnics and stuff!" Vladimir was getting excited thinking about what the two could do when they left the hospital. "And we'll hang out all the time, right?"

"Sure," Tyson nodded. He couldn't imagine life without Vladimir right now. It was his first major crush. All he could think about was this beautiful boy who made him feel like there was something worth living for.

"So stop doing that!" Vladimir grabbed his hand and tore it away from his forearm. "It's not good for you."

"I didn't even notice," Tyson replied, looking down at the inside of his forearm. He'd scratched some of the skin off. While it wasn't bleeding, it sure did sting! "Damn. I think maybe I'm a bit unwell, Vlady. A bit mental."

"You don't say!" Vladimir gasped, and the two laughed. "Maybe you should get Neil to have a look at that."

"Later. I just want to be here with you for a bit," Tyson compromised, and Vladimir shrugged and nuzzled closer.

The two cuddled for a while until some yelling, shrieking and swearing caught their attention. A girl coming through, and she was having one hell of a fit! Escorted by two strong members of the security team, followed by two nurses. She was abusing everyone, screaming and kicking while the men almost carried her through the living area straight towards the seclusion room. He couldn't believe how aggressive she was! The girl looked to be around his age, and she had freckles, orange-red curls tied into a ponytail and a red plaid shirt with blue jeans. She was barefoot. He did not recognise her. She must be a new admission.

"Is that what I look like?" Tyson asked, gobsmacked. He couldn't believe the aggression coming from her. That's not me, though. Is it? I'm not like that!

"I haven't seen you flip your shit," Vladimir reminded him. "I've only heard about it. Have you gone to seclusion yet?"

"Yeah. A few times," Tyson shuddered, thinking of that horrible padded closet. It was horrifying. "Have you?"

"Yeah," Vladimir was surprisingly blasé about it. "They tend to just throw me in there and tie me to the bed when I lose the plot and they don't know what else to do."

"They tied you down?" Tyson asked him in horror, thinking again of those cuffs on the bed. He couldn't imagine being strapped to that bed and left alone!

"Um... yeah," Vladimir replied quietly, putting Tyson's arm around his shoulders and hugging himself with it. "Does that... worry you?"

"It doesn't make me think any less of you if that's what you're worried about, but it does make me worried that they're not doing their jobs! That's barbaric!" Tyson replied, upset.

The heaviness of the conversation was too much for the boys, it seemed, so they sat in silence for a time, watching the rest of the unit and playing with each other's hands.

"Just pretend he isn't really there. You will find that Boogeyman will vanish in thin air. Here's one way to catch him without fail. Just keep a little salt with you and put it on his tail."

Tyson snapped his fingers a few times in front of Vladimir's eyes and managed to bring him out of his weird dissociative trance. Vladimir looked blankly around for a couple of seconds, then up at Tyson, and the boys smiled lovingly at each other.

Thank you to everyone who reads Heart. ❤️ Don't be afraid to bring mistakes to my attention!

Copyright © 2018 AusGlitterati; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Ok so with I'm not the only one who has watched Jeepers Creepers lately or someone is a fan of old timey sounding music!

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2 minutes ago, Wesley8890 said:

Ok so with I'm not the only one who has watched Jeepers Creepers lately or someone is a fan of old timey sounding music!

It's one of those darn songs that always comes up in my head!!

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So Tyson parents are those who sign their kids up for a million things, expecting them to be good at everything. He can't ever behave like a kid and just have fun, play with friends or watch TV, because he always has obligations. No wonder he dreads returning home to them.

 

So the boys have pretty much openly admitted to having a crush on each other, even to Neil. It is sweet, but also sad how they make plans about what they'll do together when they get out, because we can only assume things will not be as easy as they imagine.

I do wonder what'll happen when/if one of them gets out before the other? It's gonna be tough for whoever is left... 

 

Sweet chapter, thanks!! ^_^

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24 minutes ago, ObicanDecko said:

So Tyson parents are those who sign their kids up for a million things, expecting them to be good at everything. He can't ever behave like a kid and just have fun, play with friends or watch TV, because he always has obligations. No wonder he dreads returning home to them.

 

Pretty well said! He feels the burden of the responsibility rather than the opportunity to excel in anything and everything. :(

 

26 minutes ago, ObicanDecko said:

So the boys have pretty much openly admitted to having a crush on each other, even to Neil. It is sweet, but also sad how they make plans about what they'll do together when they get out, because we can only assume things will not be as easy as they imagine.

Well this is an AusGlitterati story so... :whistle:

 

26 minutes ago, ObicanDecko said:

I do wonder what'll happen when/if one of them gets out before the other? It's gonna be tough for whoever is left... 

 

Awww I'm sure they'll come and visit!

 

27 minutes ago, ObicanDecko said:

Sweet chapter, thanks!! ^_^

No! Thank you ❤️ CH6 coming up soon! #RoadTo300K

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If only Tyson could totally cure Vlad with a snap of his fingers....... Then he'd really have someone to lean on and maybe dispense with that crutch. :heart:

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1 hour ago, Ivor Slipper said:

If only Tyson could totally cure Vlad with a snap of his fingers....... Then he'd really have someone to lean on and maybe dispense with that crutch. :heart:

He absolutely would if he could! ❤️ And the feeling would be mutual, I'm sure. ;)

Thank you for the read, react & comment! 

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A thread of hope, yet I have a sense it will be snuffed out. I'm not much for tragedies, as my friend would attest. Right @Cynus?

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2 hours ago, Dabeagle said:

A thread of hope, yet I have a sense it will be snuffed out. I'm not much for tragedies, as my friend would attest. Right @Cynus?

Definitely true.

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2 hours ago, Dabeagle said:

A thread of hope, yet I have a sense it will be snuffed out. I'm not much for tragedies, as my friend would attest. Right @Cynus?

Just now, Cynus said:

Definitely true.

 

I don't want to spoil the story! But although there will be setbacks for our boys, Heart is not now nor will it ever be a tragedy :) there's enough tragedy around already! And after all, the heart is the strongest muscle. 

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physiologists agree that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body - I believe in a philosophical sense this is true. Communication, though it is certainly NOT dependent on the tongue (speech) alone. Though it is an overwhelming force in human relations, but correct only if one adds the other organs of communication; gesture and expression. The problem here is in improper translation. As humans we frequently err in internalizing speech into concept   if we do not take into account the place from which the speaker is coming (heart is a way of describing this.) That is a very circular method of saying, we should use our eyes as well as our ears in listening to others.

Is that statement confusing? Perhaps I got mixed up in making the statement. It is a very difficult idea to put into words. Ideas are frequently buried in syntax in this world.

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