Now That You're Here


Chapter 24


His head hurt. It was the first thing that came to mind as Justin woke up. He could hear the faint sound of sirens in the distance, but it was the pounding coming from his right that forced him to open his eyes. It took a moment for him to process where he was, but his memory quickly returned as he looked over to his left and saw Brian’s unconscious body slumped over the steering wheel.

“Oh my God, Brian!” he screamed as he reached for Brian despite the throbbing pain in his head and right shoulder. “Brian, wake up!”

“Sir, can you open your door?” a voice called from outside his door.

Justin turned to his right and saw a man standing there looking overly concerned. He reached for the door and opened it, allowing the stranger to have access. “Please, help him,” he pleaded.

“Listen to me. I called 911 and help is on its way. Can you move?”

“I don’t care about me! You have to help Brian!” Justin turned back to Brian, who was still unresponsive. “Brian, please wake up!”

“Sir, if you can get out of the car, I’ll see if I can help your friend. I can’t get to him on his side.”

Justin was torn. He needed someone to help Brian, but he didn’t want to leave him alone. He quickly made his decision and allowed the stranger to help him out of the jeep. His legs were wobbly, but thankfully a woman had come over and offered to help him. She tried to get Justin away from the wrecked jeep, but he resisted.

“Are you okay? Do you feel dizzy or nauseous?”

“I’m fine, but somebody has to help Brian. Please help him,” Justin pleaded as tears started streaming down his face.

“My husband is with him and the ambulance should be here any minute. You need to go sit down before you pass out.”

“I can’t leave him. I have to stay with him. I need him to be okay. He has to be okay,” Justin cried.

“It’s okay, shhh…just take a deep breath,” the woman soothed as she wrapped Justin in her arms. Thankfully the ambulance showed up, along with two police cars. “See, help is here.”

Justin looked up to see a policewoman walking towards them. “Sir, are you okay?”

“I’m fine, but my boyfriend is in the car and he’s not awake. Please, someone has to help him.”

“Sir, the paramedics are with him now. How are you? We need to have you checked out,” the officer replied.

“I told you, I’m fine! Just let them take care of Brian!” Justin barked.

“You’re not fine. You have a pretty nasty gash on your head.” The officer waved one of the other officers over. “Thompson, go get the medi-bag out of the car. This one is refusing treatment at the moment.”

Justin stood there with the aid of the woman who helped him from the jeep and watched as the paramedics worked on Brian through the passenger side of the jeep. An officer was on the driver’s side trying to pry open Brian’s door for better access.

“Sir, can you tell me your name?”

“Um…Justin. Justin Taylor.”

“And your friend’s name?”

“Brian Kinney.”

“How old are you Justin?”

“I’m seventeen. We’re both seventeen.”

“And, ma’am?”

“My name is Felicia Roberts, and that’s my husband Jack over there. We saw the whole thing. One of those big SUV’s ran the stop sign and smashed right into the jeep. He backed up and drove off without even seeing if anyone was hurt.”

“Mrs. Roberts, can you tell me anything about the SUV? Make, model, color?”

“It was big, a suburban or something like that. And it was white. That’s really all I can tell you. Maybe Jack will know more. It all happened so fast,” Felicia explained.

An officer suddenly appeared with a black bag and took a quick look at Justin.

“That’s a nasty gash on your head. You’re definitely going to need stitches, but why don’t you let me clean it up a bit,” the officer offered. He could see that the young man was about to refuse and continued. “You can’t do anything about your friend right now, so let me take care of you. We won’t go far.”

Justin allowed himself to be led over to one of the police cruisers. His shoulder was causing him excruciating pain, but he wasn’t about to admit that to anyone for fear they’d take him away from Brian. He hissed out a breath when he felt the officer touch his forehead with what he assumed was some kind of antiseptic, but managed to keep his eyes on the jeep. They had finally gotten the driver’s side door open and were placing a neck brace on Brian to prepare him for transfer. Justin never noticed the female officer approach him.

“Justin, they’re getting ready to take your friend out of the vehicle. Once he’s out, they’re going to get him to the hospital. Do you want me to call your parents?”

“Um…my parents are dead. I live with my cousin. He and Brian’s brother…oh God. I have to call them. I have to call Chris and Zander.”

“What about Brian’s parents? Do you have a number for them?”

“He lives with us. I have to call them.” Justin frantically reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. He breathed a sigh of relief when he found it working. He struggled to dial the number with shaking hands.

“Hey, are you guys running late?” Chris asked as he answered the phone.

“Chris…it’s me. I…oh God, Chris. There’s been an accident.”

“Justin, are you okay? Where’s Brian? What happened?” Chris asked frantically as his whole body went cold. Zander was by his side in seconds.

“I’m okay, but Brian…Chris, he won’t wake up,” Justin cried as he watched Brian being moved onto a gurney.

“Oh God, where are you?”

“I don’t know…hang on,” Justin said and handed his phone to the officer. He continued to stare as Brian was being wheeled towards the ambulance. “I need to go with him. He can’t go alone.”

The female officer handed the phone back to Justin. “You need to let them work on your friend. We’ll follow them to the hospital, unless you want real medical treatment. I can get another ambulance here.”

“No, I’m okay. I just need to get to Brian.”

“Okay, your family is going to meet us at the hospital. Let’s go.”

The ride to the hospital seemed to take forever as Justin watched the tail end of the ambulance with a fear he’d never know. When his parents were killed, he hadn’t been with them. By the time he found out about the accident, they were already gone. “Please, don’t take Brian, too,” he whispered as tears ran down his face.

Chris and Zander went rushing into the emergency room and went straight for the desk, oblivious to anyone around them.

“Where are Brian Kinney and Justin Taylor? They were in a car accident and this is where they were going to be taken!” Chris exclaimed.

“And you are?” the woman behind the desk asked casually.

“I’m Chris Kinney and this is Alexander Morgan. We’re their guardians.”

“Hang on while I get one of the nurses,” she replied.

“Please hurry,” Zander said softly.

The woman nodded sympathetically and then disappeared. Moments later a woman appeared wearing cartoon character scrubs.

“Mr. Kinney and Mr. Taylor?”

“It’s Morgan, but whatever. Where are the boys?” Zander asked immediately.

“Follow me. Justin is in exam room four. We need you to talk to him. He had a serious gash on his head and possibly a dislocated shoulder, but he’s refusing medical treatment,” the nurse explained.

“What about Brian?” Chris asked.

“He’s in the trauma room. The doctors are still working on him. He’s lost a lot of blood and he hasn’t regained consciousness. One of the doctors will find you as soon as they finish assessing him.”

Chris wiped at his eyes as they found exam room four. Justin was sitting on the bed covered in blood and looking lost. The blond looked up when he saw Chris and Zander and burst into tears.

“How is he? They won’t tell me anything! Is Brian okay?”

Zander went to Justin and gently took him in his arms. “We don’t know yet. The doctors are still working on him. How are you doing?”

“Why does everybody keep asking me that?” Justin snapped as he pulled out of the embrace. “I’m fine, damn it! I’m not the one who’s hurt! I need to know how Brian is!”

“Justin,” Zander began softly. “We all do, but we have to wait until the doctors are done assessing him. While we wait, you need to be treated. You’re going to need stitches and they want to run some x-rays. Please, let them take care of you.”

“Not until I know that Brian is okay. Don’t you get it? He has to be okay!”

Zander looked over at Chris, but he could tell by the lost look on his partner’s face that he wasn’t in any condition to back him up. “Okay, just calm down. We’ll wait until we find out what’s happening with Brian, but then you have to agree to treatment.”

“Okay,” Justin conceded softly. He looked up at Zander with such pain in his eyes. “He has to be okay, Zan. He has to be.”

Zander looked over at Chris once again and then back at Justin. “I know he does.”

It seemed like years later when a doctor finally appeared in the exam room with a serious look on his face. “Mr. Kinney, I’m Dr. Kelley. I’ve been working on your brother. Would you like to come with me so we can discuss his condition?”

“Where’s Brian? Is he okay?” Justin called out as he struggled to sit up.

The doctor looked around at the three of them and hesitated.

“We’re all family, Dr. Kelley. Just say whatever it is you’re going to say,” Chris said.

“Okay, we’re sending Brian up to surgery. He’s got internal bleeding. I believe his spleen has been ruptured. He’s lost a lot of blood so he’s going to need a transfusion. I’m also concerned with intra-cranial swelling. He still hasn’t regained consciousness. He’s critical, but we’re going to do everything we can for him. I just need you to sign some release papers so that we can operate.”

“Oh God,” Justin groaned as he threw himself into Zander’s arms and cried.

“Um…okay. How long is the surgery going to take?” Chris asked as he fought the urge to crumble to the ground.

“I’m not sure. We need to get inside and see exactly what’s going on. I’m sorry. I wish I could tell you more, but until we know exactly what we’re dealing with, this is the best I can do.”

“Okay…I understand. Can I…can I see him before…”

“Just for a minute. I don’t want to waste any time. Come with me.”

Chris turned to Zander and Justin with tears in his eyes. “I’ll be back…and then you’re going to get treatment, right, Justin?”

“But, Chris…”

“Justin…please. I can’t help Brian right now. Let me help you,” Chris said tearfully.

Justin nodded.

Chris offered him a small smile. “Zan?”

Zander walked over to Chris and took him in his arms. “Tell him that we all love him and will be here waiting for him to get better. I love you, Babe.”

“Love you, too,” Chris choked out before following the doctor out of the room.

Brian was lying completely still on the bed when Chris walked into the trauma room. Ignoring all the menacing machines that were beeping and blinking, he walked over to his brother’s side and took his hand.

“Hey you,” Chris whispered softly. “Are you trying to take ten years off my life? Look, the doctors are going to take you up to surgery, but then I’m going to need you to wake up, okay? I already lost too many years with you. I can’t lose anymore. I love you, kid. Justin and Zander do, too. Please don’t leave us. Our fucked up little family needs you.”

“Mr. Kinney, I’m sorry but we really need to move now. The release papers are at the nurse’s desk. We need them signed before we can begin the surgery. I’ll come find you as soon as we’re done.”

Chris leaned over and placed a soft kiss on Brian’s head and then turned towards the doctor. “Take care of him, doctor. I need him to be okay.”

“That’s my job, Mr. Kinney. I’ll do everything I can to make sure he has a long life ahead of him,” the doctor offered.

“Thank you,” Chris whispered before walking away.

After signing the release papers, Chris glanced down towards the room where Justin and Zander were, but he couldn’t go down there just yet. Instead he walked back towards the waiting room and made his way outside. As soon as the balmy night air hit him, Chris lost his composure and broke down. The tears were coming fast and furious as he found his way over to a bench and sat down. This couldn’t be happening. He couldn’t lose Brian. He couldn’t lose the only blood relative he had left. And Brian was so young. He had so many years ahead of him. He needed to make it through this. He just needed to be okay.

And poor Justin; the kid had just lost his parents a few months ago to a car accident. How was he dealing with all of this? If anything happened to Brian, how would Justin handle losing his friend the same way? How would any of them handle it?

“Mr. Kinney?”

Chris looked up to see a police woman standing over him.

“I’m officer Kincade. I was at the scene with Brian and Justin. The receptionist told me she saw you come out here. How are the boys doing?”

“Um…Justin’s still refusing treatment and Brian…they’re taking him up to surgery now. He’s not…he’s not doing so well,” Chris said weakly.

“I’m so sorry. I’ll keep them in my thoughts. I wanted to let you know that we caught the guy who hit them. He was picked up a few blocks away. Apparently he was having some car trouble after hitting the jeep and had to abandon his vehicle and start walking home. He had a blood alcohol level of .16, twice the legal limit. He’s being held down in lock up and will go before the judge on Monday morning. I thought you might want to know.”

“Thank you, officer. The Jeep?”

“We have it down at impound. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure it’s totaled. When you’re ready, you can come down and get any personal belongings out of it,” she told him.

“Okay. Was Brian…did my brother do anything to cause this?” Chris had to ask.

“No, it wasn’t his fault. He was driving down Main Street when the SUV ran a stop sign and slammed into him. We have witnesses who already gave their statements. It appears that your brother was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Thank you, officer. I guess I better get back inside. I might have to hold Justin down so the doctor can treat him,” Chris said with a small chuckle.

“He’s one strong kid. He had to be in a lot of pain, but he absolutely refused to be treated. All he cared about was that Brian was being taken care of. Once the shock wears off, he’s going to be hurting.”

“Yeah, I bet he is.”

Chris went back inside and found Justin dozing with Zander at his side.

“How is he?”

“Not so good. He finally admitted to being in pain and they gave him a pain killer. They’re coming to take him to x-ray in a few minutes. How are you holding up?” Zander asked as he went to Chris.

“I’m not doing so well, either. I can’t believe this, Zan. Brian can’t…he needs to be okay.”

“He’s going to be,” Zander replied. “He’s a strong kid and he’ll pull through this. I know he will.”

“I went outside for a minute to get some air and ran into the one of the cops from the scene. They found the guy who hit them. He was drunk. They locked him up.”

“Well, thank God for something. I just don’t understand how people do it. How they get behind the wheel when they know they’re drunk. It’s so stupid,” Zander replied.

“Yeah, well I don’t think this guy’s going to be getting behind the wheel of anything for awhile. I guess that’s something.”

“Excuse me; I’m here to take Justin to x-ray.”

Zander looked over Chris’ shoulder at the elderly gentleman standing in the doorway. “He’s sleeping. Is that going to be a problem? Between the trauma and the pain killers, I don’t know if we’ll be able to wake him up.”

“That’s not a problem, sir. He goes down, bed and all. The technicians will do what’s necessary to get what they need,” he assured him.

Zander turned back to Justin and rubbed his head gently. “Hey, Jus, someone’s here to take you to x-ray. Chris and I will be waiting right here when you get back.”

“Hmmm,” Justin moaned without really coming to.

Once Justin was gone, Zander looked over at Chris. “I’d kill for a cup of coffee. One of the nurses told me that they have a machine in the waiting room. You want to go get one and take a quick walk? Justin won’t be back for a bit and I could use some air myself.”

“Yeah, let’s go. It’s going to be a long night.”

As Justin started to come to, the first thing he noticed was that his body felt like he’d gone ten rounds in a boxing ring. He opened his eyes and looked around, trying to recognize his surroundings. Why was he in the hospital? Suddenly his thoughts went back to the accident and he sat up in bed, yelping at the pain his sudden movement caused him.

“Justin, take it easy,” Zander said as he rushed to Justin’s side. “You’ve got a dislocated shoulder and ten stitches in your head. You can’t be jumping around.”

“Brian? How is he? Is he alright?” Justin asked in a state of panic.

“He made it through surgery, but it’s still pretty critical. He’s in intensive care. Chris is with him,” Zander replied.

Justin threw back the covers and tried getting out of bed. Zander was quick to stop him.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’ve got to go see him.”

“Oh, no you don’t. You’re not going anywhere until the doctor releases you and then you’re going home to rest,” Zander said as he blocked Justin’s path. “You are in no condition to be wandering around the hospital.”

“Zander, you don’t understand. I have to see him. I have to be there for him.”

“Justin, I understand that you’re worried about Brian, but you have to take care of yourself. You were in an accident too, remember? Chris is with him. He’s not alone.”

“You don’t understand! You don’t understand anything!” Justin exclaimed as he tried to push Zander away. “I have to see him. I have to tell him that I love him. I never told him that and he needs to know!”

“Justin, of course you love him. I love him, too. He’s family. But you’ve been through a rough ordeal and you need to take…”

“No, Zander, I mean I really love him. We’ve been in a relationship for almost two months. I’m sorry we didn’t tell you, but we figured you and Chris wouldn’t be happy if you knew. And I knew I was falling in love with him. I think I knew it from the very beginning and I never said it. I never told him how I really felt about him and now it could be too late. He has to know how much I love him. He has to.” Justin collapsed in Zander’s arms and cried loud, gut-wrenching sobs as he thought about the possibility of losing Brian. “Please, I need to see Brian.”

Zander held onto Justin while the boy cried in his arms. He knew there was nothing he could say or do to ease the pain that his cousin was feeling. He imagined how he would feel if it was Chris upstairs fighting for his life, and he knew there wasn’t anything that could keep him away.

“Alright Justin, just let the doctor come back in and take a look at you. If he signs your release papers, I’ll take you up to see Brian, okay?”

Justin nodded and pulled back just as the doctor walked in.

“I see someone’s awake. Actually, I heard it from down the hall,” the doctor teased, laughing at the sheepish look on his patient’s face. “Let’s take a look at you and see how you’re doing.”

Justin sat as patiently as he could while the doctor examined him, but all he could think about was getting to Brian.

“Well, everything looks good. I’m going to discharge you, but you have to take it easy. No school or work for one week, and you’ll need to follow up with an orthopedic in the next three days. I’m going to give you a prescription for some pain killers. Don’t try to be a hero. Take them when you need them. You can start getting dressed. It’s probably going to take awhile. The nurse will be in shortly with the release papers.”

“Thank you, doctor,” Zander said before turning back to Justin. “You heard what he said. You have to take it easy. I’ll bring you up to see Brian, but then you need to go home and rest.”

“I’ll do whatever you say, as long as I get to see Brian,” Justin replied.

“Then I guess we better start getting you dressed,” Zander said as his brain thought back to Justin’s outburst. Justin was in love with Brian? Did that mean that Brian loved Justin, too? And what exactly did that mean for their fucked up little family?

End of part 24


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