On Wednesday Cameron stood on the sidewalk outside the hospital looking up at the ominous building. He still wasn't sure he should be there. Even after three long nights of very little sleep and fighting with himself whether he should or not. He had only told one person of his plans, and that was Cole. Since their admissions to each other on Saturday they had actually managed to make time to see each other at school, and even eat lunch together.
Cameron had told him that he kind of wanted to go see his father, ever since Mr. Harris had told him the news Sunday night that he had woken up and was going to be okay. He had to tell Cole a lot about what his relationship with his father was like, something which he first felt uncomfortable about, but the more he talked, the more Cole seemed to understand. By the time he was through he didn't feel one bit foolish or bad for pouring his heart out such as he had. Cole had been so great.
It was Cole's words of wisdom that had him standing there, outside the hospital, at 10am when he should have been in Government class. Cole had offered to come along, but Cameron figured this was something he had to do on his own.
Cole's words ran through his head as he stepped off the sidewalk and started his way up to the hospital entrance. He had told him that if it was even in his head to try to reconcile with his father that he should do it. Otherwise he would have always wondered what could have been. And even if things didn't work out, he would not be any worse off then he was now.
He thought reconcile was too strong a term though. He did not picture him and his father out playing catch or going fishing. He just wanted his father to know he was not totally alone. That if he wanted, Cameron could be there for him.
Not figuring his father was in the same room he had been in before, Cameron walked straight to the reception desk. A lady with bright red hair and far too much make up on looked up at him and smiled, "Can I help you hon?"
"Can you tell me what room Doug Jamison is in?" He watched as she tapped away at her keyboard, surprised as he didn't think anyone could really type that fast.
"Room 310, third floor. Take the elevator over there," She pointed to her left. "Then when you get off on the third floor, take a right and go left down your first hallway. It's right down there."
"Thank you." He nodded to her and turned away making his way to the elevator. In the elevator he started to change his mind. Thinking he had to be totally crazy. Wondering what in hell had gotten into him. He didn't love his father? What was he trying to prove? He was a bigger person or something? He didn't think he was, so he didn't see the sense in proving that.
When the elevator stopped on the third floor he stood there for a minute deciding whether or not to push the button to go back down, or if he was going to step out of the elevator. Cole's words echoing through his head won out, and he walked forward out of the elevator feeling a bit if panic as the automatic doors closed behind him and that hospital smell filled his nostrils.
He closed his mouth and took little breaths not wanting to let that smell into his body. After calming himself down and getting his wits about him, he followed the directions the woman had given him until he was standing outside of room 310.
He stood staring at the open doorway for nearly a minute, arguing with himself all over again before he pulled himself together and stepped into the room. His heart leapt into his throat as he saw his father awake and sitting up right in bed. He didn't know why that scared him so, he had intended for his father to be awake. He guessed just seeing it was a little harder then imagining it.
He was looking out the window as Cameron walked as quietly as he could closer to the bed. Not wanting to be seen before he was ready to be seen. He stopped about three feet shy of the bed, his eyes focused on his father's chest as it slowly moved up and down with the man's breathing. His head was still bandages but he didn't see any blood stains like he had the week before.
Instead of the two needles in his arm now there was only one while the other arm still remained in a cast. An overwhelming feeling of pity engulfed him as he recalled the crazy woman from funeral's words rang through his head. "He's a murderer I hope you burn in hell!"
He cleared his throat intending to announce he was standing there, but only jumped when his father's head turned suddenly to him, his eyes locking into his Cameron's.
"What are you doing here?" he asked his voice hoarse.
Cameron swallowed hard, he wasn't sure what he had been expecting to happen, but feeling like he was getting accused of doing something bad was not part of it. "I…I came to see how you were doing." He stammered.
"How the f**k do you think I'm doing, you dumb ass?"
Cameron nodded slowly, sure now that he had made a mistake. "Okay, well now that I know your okay I'll just go." He started to turn away but his father's angry voice stopped him.
"It should have been you. Why did they have to die and not you?"
Tears stung at his eyes, ones he refused to let fall. He didn't want the man to see how much his words hurt. Not that he thought his father would really even notice if he was upset. He turned away again needing to get out of that room. He heard his father moving around in the bed but paid little attention until he heard his father screaming his name.
He started to turn back, but his head met with something solid just as he turned it. He started to lift his hand to his suddenly pain filled head when he realized there were stars all around him, and the rest of the world was turning black. He could feel himself slowly falling, but couldn't do a thing to stop it before everything went completely black.
His next conscious thought was pain, bad pain in his head. He didn't want to open his eyes, afraid the light would only make it hurt more. He could feel he was lying down, but it didn't feel like the hard surface of the floor he remembered falling down to.
"Hey you're waking up?" he heard a female voice say, which made him decide he'd better open his eyes to find out what in hell was going on. Slowly, and rather painfully, he opened them to find himself surrounded by white. God I've died, he thought before his eyes focused more and he realized he was in a room at the hospital. It wasn't a room like his father's though. This one was more open, with curtains instead of walls.
He reached up and felt his head discovering it was wrapped in bandages, much the same as his father's was. He focused on the woman that was standing near his bed. She was wearing white. He figured she had to be a nurse or something. "What happened?"
"You had a knock to the head."
"Your father threw a vase at you."
He started to nod but it made his head hurt to bad so he stopped. He was surprised his father could throw a vase with enough force to knock him out considering he wasn't in very good shape at the moment. It wasn't the first time his father had thrown shit at him, wasn't even the first time he had been knocked out by it. But it was the first time it had happened in a long time. Apparently being there for his father was not going to be a consideration. He considered himself cured of his crazy thoughts.
"How do you feel?"
"Well my head hurts." He said, figuring she must already know that.
"Do you feel dizzy or nauseas?"
"A little dizzy I guess."
"That's not surprising you've been out for close to an hour."
"Really?" he asked, shocked again surprised at his father's strength.
"Yes, we are going to keep you overnight just to make sure your okay. I realize your father is here. Is there anyone else you want us to call?"
Though he didn't want Mr. Harris to know he had come to the hospital he didn't see where he had much choice. Come supper when he wasn't there he imagined all hell would break loose. "I live with Ken Harris. He works for the police department. He should know." He cursed himself for being so stupid as to show up there. He just knew Mr. Harris would have a lot of condescending things to say about this.
The nurse left and he sat there on the bed feeling like the biggest idiot in the world. He couldn't believe he had been dumb enough to believe his father actually wanted his help. Maybe he didn't actually believe that, but he had wanted to try and help somehow. But that was over; the man could die in a ditch for all he cared at that moment.
He looked down at himself realizing for the first time that he didn't' have on the green sweater that he had worn to school that morning. Instead he had on the same type of blue and white hospital jonnie that his father had been wearing. He slowly lifted up the blanket and realized that was all he had on. Reaching down he confirmed what he already thought he knew, he didn't even have underpants on.
'Geez, these people saw me naked.' He wasn't exactly shy about his body, hell dozens of one-night stands proved that. But when he wasn't even awake and it was total strangers that didn't want sex, it was a completely different situation. He had to admit, despite his throbbing head, it felt pretty nice not having any boxers on. He always slept in at least boxers, but wasn't so sure he would continue to do so after this, it felt really good.
He looked up and quickly put the blanket back down seeing a man dressed in white walk into the room. "I'm here to take you up to your room." He smiled and Cameron smiled back at him. 'Damn now he's pretty hot! You can take me to my room anytime baby!'
He laughed a little out loud, and then put his hand over his mouth thoroughly embarrassed with himself. He flushed with shame even more when the young man laughed too.
"Don't worry; it's just what they gave you for the pain. It makes everyone a little goofy."
"Oh," he didn't remember getting anything for the pain, and he could still feel pain, so he was quite surprised to hear he was drugged up. Though now that it was brought to his attention the weird way he was feeling did seem familiar.
He was dozing half an hour later in his room, when a hand on his shoulder jerked him awake causing his head to move which created a sharp stab of pain across the back of his eyes. He groaned as he put his hand to his head pressing gently willing the pain to stop. He didn't ever normally get a headache and didn't know how people put up with them all the time. Maybe he was just a wimp.
He looked up to see Mr. Harris looking down at him. He couldn't tell by the look on the man's face just how pissed off he was and opted to keep his mouth shut until he was asked a question.
"I wish you would have told me you wanted to come here."
Cameron watched him as he stepped back from the bed then pulled up a chair and sat down in it.
"I didn't think you had any interest in seeing your father." Ken Harris paused, but continued seeing Cameron didn't seem interested in talking. "I would have come with you."
"Why? So you could watch me get hit in the head!" Cameron asked angrily.
"I don't think you have any call to get upset with me about this Cameron. You're the one that skipped school and snuck down here."
"Because I didn't want you coming with me."
The man sat up straighter then leaned back in his chair. He brought his foot up and rested it on his knee then crossed his arms and sat back in the chair, looking like he was planning on staying a while. "Would you like to tell me why?"
Cameron looked over at the man liking how the back of the bed was slightly elevated so he was half sitting–up, and liking it even more that the bed was higher then Mr. Harris's chair, so he could finally look down on him for once. He wanted to be real snotty and say he just didn't need to be babysat, but seeing how he was in a hospital bed with his head in bandages he really couldn't bring himself to say that knowing how stupid he'd sound.
"I just wanted to take care of it on my own."
"Take care of what?"
"And how were you planning on taking care of him?"
Cameron sighed then thought 'f**k it, just tell the asshole he's gonna give you shit either way.' "I wanted him to know that if he needed someone, that I'd be around."
Mr. Harris looked amazed. "Really?"
He nodded; annoyed the guy was obviously so damn surprised.
"You didn't even want to come see him last week. Why the change?"
"Cause of that poor lady at the funeral." He said mimicking Mr. Harris's words from in the van after the funeral. "It's not right what she said. I don't care if you feel sorry for her or not. My father didn't kill his family. It was an accident."
Ken looked at him in confusion. "So you were mad at her so you wanted to see your father?"
"I didn't want my father to be alone. Hearing her and what she thought I thought he needed someone sticking up for him."
He watched the man nod waiting for him to speak.
"Don't you see though why the lady may be upset?"
"Of course I do, but that doesn't make it right to go making accusations like that. Doesn't she realize my father's probably hurting just as much? Why be all hateful about it?" As he talked he thought back to how his father had blamed him for his mother leaving. True that could have been his fault, but maybe his father was just so full of grief like the woman at the funeral that he just had to blame someone. So maybe, just maybe it hasn't been his fault after all. Maybe his father was just trying to work through it, trying blame someone else to make some sense of it.
"Grief does strange things to people Cameron. They can't always think logically when tragedy strikes."
"Yeah whatever." He muttered still deep in his thoughts. "Doesn't make it right."
"No you're right it doesn't." Ken looked at Cameron sensing the boy was deep in thought about something and not wanting to disturb his thoughts as whatever it was seemed to be important. It was five minutes before Cameron looked back at him and spoke.
"So am I in trouble?"
"Skipping school and coming here." He was relieved to see Mr. Harris shake his head.
"No, actually I'm proud of you. It took a lot of guts to do what you tried to do today. I'm sorry it didn't work out better for you." He put both feet back on the floor and leaned forward a little bit. "I know it seems like I've been hard on you. I don't want to be your enemy though. I want you to feel like you can talk to me about this stuff."
He wasn't sure if it was the pain killers or not, but he couldn't seem to stop himself from blurting out, "You just make me feel so stupid." He cringed soon as he said it cursing the pills sure he wouldn't say such a thing if he wasn't all foggy.
Now that he'd opened that can of worms he figured he might as well finish it. After all Mr. Harris was being awful nice at the moment. "Every time I ask you something you blow me off with one word answers. You tell me I'm being dramatic about stuff, I mean didn't you see after what happened at the funeral that maybe I wasn't being dramatic? But you didn't acknowledge that. Nooo all you said was 'that poor lady.'" He stopped talking and put his hand on his head that was throbbing even more as he got madder and madder.
"I've taken care of myself for 12 years. I know I fuc….I mean, screwed up with the drinking and stuff, but I was still taking care of myself." He took a deep breath to calm himself and looked over at Mr. Harris glad to see that as of yet, he didn't seem pissed off. "It's hard for me to suddenly have to answer to you on every little thing I do, but I think I'm doing pretty good at following your rules. I've done everything you've asked me to do, but it doesn't seem to me that you even notice. You are still treating me like some retard that doesn't even know how to tie his own shoes." He stopped, not wanting to go on; he had to calm down. His head felt like it was going to explode. So he waited to see what retribution Mr. Harris would come back with.
Cameron looked over at him, sure he heard wrong. "What?" He was amazed to see a small smile form on the man's face.
"You're absolutely right Cameron. I'm sorry; I didn't even realize I was doing it. You've been with us a month now and you haven't done one thing wrong. You do all you're asked to do and more. You've pulled all your grades up. It's time I've backed off a little."
As elated as he could be with the pain he was in, Cameron smiled. "How much?"
Mr. Harris actually laughed. "Well you can have phone and TV privileges. And depending on how you feel this Friday, I don't care if you want to spend the night at the Parkers, if you guys want to do it this weekend."
Cameron had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing. He sure as hell wanted to 'do it' but was positive the man wasn't talking about the kind of doing the 'it' he was thinking of.
"I'm glad you told me all this, Cameron. I will try and do better. I've never done anything like this before and I'd say I went a little overboard."
Mr. Harris stayed most of the afternoon. Kyle even showed up for an hour, between four and five, when he had to leave to go home for dinner. Cameron was just finishing his dinner of baked chicken, potatoes and corn when he looked up and saw Cole walking into the room. He was so happy to see him he nearly pushed his tray right off the little table as he pushed it back away from his chest.
Cole walked up beside the bed did a quick scan of the room, then leaned over and laid a big, warm, soft kiss directly onto Cameron's lips. A minute later he stood back up, taking Cameron's hand and holding it tightly in his own. "I'm sorry."
"'Cause I talked you into coming here. I didn't have any idea your dad was such an asshole. I never would have told you to come if I'd known."
Cameron shook his head as he turned his hand over in Cole's and squeezed the other boy's hand. "It's not your fault. I would have come sooner or later. I was slowly talking myself into it. And I'm kinda glad I did. Now I know not to bother. I don't have to wonder about it anymore."
Cole nodded before he leaned down and hugged him. "I still feel bad, I mean, even if it's not my fault. That still really sucks."
After Cole let go of him, Cameron moved over a little on the bed so Cole could sit up on it. Once Cole was seated, his hand resting comfortably on Cameron's stomach, he talked again. "Something good came out of it though."
Cole raised his eyebrows in surprise. "What?"
"Mr. Harris and I had a little talk. I bitched about him, and he said I was right."
Letting out a small laugh, Cole's mouth fell open. "No way!"
Cameron nodded. "Yeah, and you know what else?"
"I can spend the night on Friday, if you want."
"REALLY!" Cole nearly screamed in excitement. "But will you be feeling okay by then. Oh, wait; that dosent matter, I can take care of you!!"
Cameron smiled wider then he ever remembered smiling at how incredibly excited Cole seemed to be at the thought of taking care of him. God, that was sweet. He couldn't remember the last time anyone had taken care of him when he was sick or hurt. Man, he could sure get used to that!
Cole quickly climbed down off the bed as they heard someone coming into the room. Cameron smiled seeing it was the hot guy that had brought him up to his room in the first place.
He turned and looked at Cole as Cole said. "Hey, Adam."
The guy, Adam apparently, smiled. "Hey Cole, how are you?"
"You guys know each other?" Cameron asked, confused.
Cole turned and looked back at him. "Oh yeah, from when my mom comes in. Adam's real nice. Maybe he's here to give you a sponge bath."
Adam laughed while Cameron blushed. "I think he's okay, he's able to get up and about on his own." He walked over to the table Cameron had put the tray on. "You all done?"
Cameron nodded and Adam picked up the tray and left the room after saying goodbye to each of them.
"Where is your mom tonight?"
"Oh I asked the nurse to stay late so I could come see you."
"How did you know where I was?"
"Well when you didn't come back to school I got worried so I went over to the Harris's on my way home from school and Mrs. Harris told me what happened. She seems real nice. How did she end up marrying him?" he asked as he situated himself back up on the bed.
Cameron chuckled never having seen Cole quite so talkative, almost exuberant. "I really don't know how they met."
Cole nodded as he put his hand back on Cameron's stomach running his fingers gently around in a circle. "I'm so happy you get to come over on Friday. I can rent movies and we can just laze around and watch them. We can even order out if you want. I haven't ordered out in ages."
"You haven't had anyone over to spend the night in a long time have you?" Cameron had been able to tell that Cole's excitement was not only because he was coming over. That for some reason he had a deeper meaning.
"Why not?" Cameron asked sensing the sudden sadness in his voice.
Cole shrugged, but Cameron couldn't let it go at that. "Do you not feel comfortable with it? I mean with your mom and all."
Cole laid his hand out flat on Cameron's stomach and sighed as he looked into Cameron's eyes. "It's not that I'm ashamed of her. Cause I'm not! But, well my friends, back home, well ex-friends, they used to still come to my house even after the accident." He adjusted himself so he was sitting on his leg and focused his eyes to about the middle of Cameron's chest.
"Well one day at school in the bathroom a few of them were talking. They didn't know I was in one of the stalls, and, well, I heard them picking on her."
Cameron put his hand on Cole's able to hear the sadness and pain in his voice.
"I mean it was my mom." He said pointing a finger into his chest as he met Cameron's eyes for only a moment then went back to staring at his chest. "She used to bake them cookies, and fix their scraped knees. And just cause she can't talk anymore they are standing there teasing her like that." He let out a long slow breath and shook his head. "I'll never forget it. I never want to have to hear my mom being talked about like that again. So I never thought of having anyone over again."
But you have already been there, you already know her, so it's not like anyone being shocked. And if your gonna pick on her then you already got all the ammunition you'd need, so it's not gonna be any worse by you coming over."
Cameron put his hand on Cole's back and rubbed it. "I'd never pick on your mom Cole. Trust me, I see no reason to pick on her, and anyone that would is a total asshole in my book."
Cole nodded, as he waved his hand dismissively. "It doesn't matter anymore anyways. I never have to see those guys again." He sighed as he ran his fingers along Cameron's arm. "How do you feel? I mean about what your dad did today?"
Shrugging Cameron really wasn't sure what to say. He wasn't too sure all that he was feeling. He was only sure of one thing. "I know I won't try it again."
"Yeah I second that."
The next morning, just after 10am, Cameron was very happy to see Mrs. Harris walk into his room. He'd had enough of hospital life and couldn't wait to get home. What he really couldn't wait for though was the next night that he'd be spending at Cole's. Cole had stayed nearly an hour the night before and they'd talked the entire time. Getting to know each other a little better, slowly, just like Cole had wanted.
The bandage had been removed from his head that morning. Only then did he find out he had five stitches in his head. He felt lucky they hadn't had to shave his entire head though. In fact the way the top of his hair was longer then the rest you couldn't even see where the cut was unless you lifted the hair up. From looking in the mirror that morning he couldn't tell where he had any injury at all.
Mrs. Harris walked right up to him and gave him a big hug. "How you feeling hon?" she asked while he was still deep in her arms.
"I'm good ma'am really. I'm ready to go home."
She pulled away and smiled down at him, running her fingers through his hair. "Sounds good to me. Do I need to talk to a doctor or anything?"
Cameron shook his head and handed her a piece of paper that was a list of precautions to look for. "The doctor just said to give you this and to stop at the nurses' station to sign me out."
She looked the paper over and nodded. "Well let's get you out of here then."
The minute they walked into the door of the Harris home she ordered him to go upstairs and change into his pajamas, and then come back down and lay on the couch. Something he was more then willing to do. Being on the couch meant he could watch TV, something he had done very little of in the past month. Very little of it at all really, as the only time he got to watch it at his father's was when the family was away.
He went upstairs and put on his most concealing pair of pajamas, which meant full-length pajama bottoms and not just a pair of boxers. Once he got back downstairs he laid down on the couch very surprised at how comfortable the oversized suede sofa was.
Mrs. Harris showed up a minute after he laid down with a blanket. She spread the blanket over him and then handed him the remote control. "Do you want any water, or anything else to drink?"
He shook his head, not wanting to have to get up and pee at all because he was so comfortable. Instead of leaving the room Mrs. Harris sat down in a nearby chair and picked up her bag that held her knitting supplies. "That boy seemed nice that was here asking for you yesterday. Is he the one you are helping Saturdays?"
Leaving the TV where it was, not really daring to change the channel incase it might be a show that she hated Cameron laid the remote on his stomach. "Yeah, he is really nice."
HELL YA! He thought, but said, "I guess." Like he was disgusted about the mere thought of seeing a guy as handsome. He glanced back at her to see she was staring back at him, not knitting at all.
Seeing her looking over at him, she smiled sweetly, but didn't look away. Even though she was smiling Cameron thought she looked sad.
"What's wrong?" he asked thinking she would burst into tears at any moment.
Her shoulders sagged a bit and she tilted her head to one side. "I just feel real bad about what your father did. How are you handling it?"
Cameron shrugged more then a little shocked at how upset she seemed to be. "I guess I shoulda known it would happen. I never should have gone there in the first place."
"How would you have known he would have reacted like that though?"
"Cause he did the same thing when my mom left."
"What do you mean?"
"He'd go into fits of rage, get pretty mean. And that was back when I thought he loved me. But going to the hospital yesterday when I already knew he didn't love me, well that was just stupid." He pulled the blanket tighter over his shoulders and pressed his body down further into the couch loving the warmth and security he was feeling from it at the moment.
"You've been friends with Kyle a long time hon, you've spent at least 2 weekends a month here since you were like 10. How come you never said anything? We would have taken you in a long time ago."
"Things were only bad for a short time Mrs. Harris, before I even started hanging around with Kyle."
She shook her head and took a deep breath wiping at her eyes. "They couldn't have been good Cameron, for him to just kick you out like that for one mistake."
Cameron shook his head feeling really badly that she was so upset. "They weren't wonderful ma'am, but he wasn't hurting me. We just didn't really talk."
"Someone hurting their child physically is not the only way one can be a bad parent. Neglecting a child can be just as harmful as abuse. You need love and nurturing growing up. Not to be ignored."
He looked at the TV really growing uncomfortable with the conversation. "Maybe, but I think I turned out okay. I mean I had a wild streak, but you guys got me over that."
He laid out on the couch the entire day. Mrs. Harris sat and talked with him for a little while, and then left him on his own. He flipped channels for a bit, then fell asleep and didn't wake up again until the twins got home from school. They'd asked him tons of questions about his night in the hospital before Mrs. Harris ushered them out of the room and Cameron went back to watching TV.
He didn't get off the couch until dinnertime, and didn't even really have to then since Mrs. Harris offered to bring him his dinner. He figured he better look energetic and healthy so she wouldn't worry and make him stay home the next night.
That night in bed even though he tried to only think of being at Cole's the next night flashes of his father kept going through his head. He was mad at the man, but at the same time he almost understood just how angry his father was. He didn't think it was right, what his father had said, and just hearing those words echoing in his head still cut through him like a knife. But he could understand the emotional turmoil he must be in having lost his entire family.
He'd probably just gone too soon. His father had just woken up three days earlier which meant just a couple of days had passed since he was told his family was dead. Though he still wanted to help his father somehow he tried to put it out of his mind. He didn't want to go through what he had gone through today again. Apparently his father just didn't want any help especially from him.