Still, it was about to be an impossibility for anyone to get him to stop completely. He probably figured he had done all his required stopping when he was in a coma. In fact, he had watched the nurse trying to put Rick's chemo central line in so closely and annoyingly, that she gave up and let him do it for her... albeit with long-suffering amusement. Now Chris was confined to the next recliner, on Mrs Deleo's orders. In fact, she threatened to take him home more than once if he didn't just sit still and rest. She was now out at the reception desk signing some paperwork and getting post-chemo information, seeing as this would be the first time she had to watch Rick experience it. Chris looked around, scrutinising the clinic closely. It was top range as far as hospital departments went. The furniture was new, each bay containing a comfortable recliner, and a wide-screen plasma TV was mounted on the wall so all patients could see it. So far, Rick was only the second one in the clinic that looked like it had capacity to hold approximately twelve patients at once. Chris turned his head, it still resting tiredly back on the pillow the nurse had gotten him. "I donated a kidney and my heart stopped, and I didn't even get a plasma," he pointed out.
"So maybe the genius cowboy isn't so special afterwards, huh?" Rick asked. His voice croaked on the words from misuse. He'd been quiet ever since he'd got up that morning, only talking when he had to. He couldn't help it. The meltdown was still fresh in his mind, and as much as he knew he still needed to talk to his mom about Bella and the baby, there was just this block in his head. He was also worried that the chemo would hit him hard again even though he was supposed to be better. It all only served to make him on edge, but he was beyond grateful to have his mom and brother there. Even if his brother really was being a giant pain in the ass. "I still outrank you, bro."
"Of course you do. You've always been the biggest dickhead," Chris threw back with a tired smirk, only to turn his head back and realise their mom had returned and had been in hearing distance for his comment. He sunk back against the pillow, feeling like he was twelve years old again. She had already used The Mom Voice twice with him that morning while Rick had just sat there and sniggered smugly as a witness.
Carla merely sighed with a small, well-practiced eye roll that came with being the mother of two boys. She was just relieved this was banter, and Chris' words held no punch. She had heard similar come from his mouth directed at his brother with much more intense meaning over the years. She could see they were bridging the gap between them, and there couldn't be anything else but relief and pride at the fact. She had thought for the recent years that the two most prized possessions of hers - her sons - were a lost cause together. She sat down on the visitors chair beside Rick's armchair, folding her hands over some leaflets in her lap about caring for chemo patients. "Rick, Bella's been held up in surgery, sweetheart. Some poor lad having one of his testicles removed, turns out she needed to take them both. She could be an hour or two yet. They want to know whether you want to wait for her to start the infusion, or if you would prefer another Oncologist to do it. Plus side is, you would get home sooner if they do, downside is, you wouldn't get to see Bella today."
Chris winced slightly. "Both balls? Shit, imagine losing your balls. A kidney is one thing, but at least it's hardly noticeable." He reached over and gave Rick a soft poke in the arm. "He wants to wait. I'll bet my sick leave pay packet on it."
Rick fell quiet again, only managing a slight twitch of a smile in response to Chris' comment. He could sit around for a couple of hours and wait for Bella. Bella who he hadn't felt like he'd seen in months. Bella who he couldn't stop thinking about. Or he could just get the chemo done with and go home. He'd just have to let a different Oncologist do it. He glanced at Chris before he looked at his mom. "Just let another Oncologist do it. It's fine. Bella's busy. I get it. I just don't really want to have to sit around here for another couple of hours. I'm really not in the mood." He nudged his brother. "Looks like you get no sick leave, bro."
Chris shrugged and folded his arms across his chest after shoving his hands in the pockets of his hoodie. "I'd wait for hours for Serena," he admitted, even though he knew it wasn't his choice. As it was, he was hoping he could go over to MT1, even just for a few minutes, to see her before they went home. She was doing a double shift, so he wouldn't see her until six in the morning. It felt like ages away. He would also be the sort to prolong the chemo infusion as much as he could. This should technically be Rick's final round, though, if it went as it was supposed to now he had the new kidney. Chris couldn't even fathom how anyone could go through it for months and months on end with no real light at the end of the tunnel. He didn't say anything further, though. If Rick didn't want to make conversation, no point forcing it.
Carla looked between her two sons, lingering on Chris for a moment. She could sense what he was thinking. There was no way he wasn't going to not go to his work while he was here and not confined to a bed. She just had to make sure he kept it brief. She gave a small nod and stood up again. "Okay, I'll go and speak to the nurse to get the other doctor to come."
"Wait," Rick said as he reached out to catch his mom's hand. He pulled her back towards him again and gave a shake of his head. "I can't. I want Bella. I'm sorry, Mom... I know I'm being a pain today. I don't mean to be. I just wish the waiting was over. I feel like I'm waiting for everything... Besides, at least this way I get a few hours with my family. We can just sit here and talk and drive each other crazy." He looked over at Chris. "You'd wait for hours, but complain about it."
Chris shook his head. "No, I wouldn't. I've had a lot to complain about recently, but I have more patience in my asshole than most do all over. I'm a doctor, remember. You try having grannies talk to you about their hemorrhoids at the supermarket when you run down to pick up the donuts, or sitting by the bedside of a kid who has just lost both parents. I have patience. I just don't when it comes to be trapped or isolated. That hospital stay was fucking overkill. I'm not dead, am I? Shut up, I know I look it when I wake up in the morning, but that's just because I've had no sun," he insisted.
Carla stopped when Rick took her hand and looked down at him, feeling those mixed emotions build up again. She just felt like she had the capacity to only be half a mom, and she hated it. Those days when she had two little blond rough nuts running around, and she had all hands on deck at all times, seemed long ago. Hell, as soon as one of them woke up at night and their little feet touched the floor out of bed, she would be awake and alert. She sat back down again and stifled a sigh. She was glad the chemo clinic seemed calm at the moment with only a tiny handful of patients. There were also curtains to pull around the little bays too, which was a good thing. The way Chris explained it, most didn't really start feeling bad until later after the infusion was finished. That's what happened with Rick the first time, but she had also heard from Dave that symptoms could hit straight away, even if the lad had wriggled out of that conversation barely five minutes in. Now they were faced with the prospect of finding something to talk about. What was she supposed to say? Talk about the weather? She couldn't ask them how work was, or about their families she always thought they might have by this age. "Bella's a good doctor," she finally offered weakly with a faint smile.
Rick smirked faintly. "That's some asshole you got there, bro. I'm sure Serena's proud to have it waiting for her." He shook his head slightly in disbelief before he looked at their mom. He still had a hold on her hand and he gave it a squeeze. "Mom, I... There's something I need to tell you." As much as he wanted to think it was, small talk had never been a strong suit. He either used it to ease into the subject of a loan with Chris, or to avoid talking about anything that mattered. He knew they could waste time on small talk but he didn't really want to. Not with their mom. He'd already kept things from her long enough. "It's about Bella."
"Serena likes my asshole," Chris offered, even if it was TMI. If he couldn't have sex, he was still going to damn well talk about it. But when Rick continued, Chris clamped his mouth closed and sucked in a small breath. His blue eyes were wide as he looked at Rick. He really hadn't expected his brother to bite the bullet. He assumed he would wait to make Bella make him up with it. Maybe Rick really was growing balls and stepping up.
"You love her," Carla guessed quietly and calmly. "Or have at least been seeing her. I can see it in your eyes. I just... didn't want to step on any toes," she admitted and wet her lips. "You and Chris look more alike than you realise. You have the same look he does when he looks at Serena, or talks about her. It's there whenever Bella comes up in conversation."
Rick started to hesitate when his mom said he loved Bella. He just looked at her for a long moment before he flicked his gaze to Chris and then back again. He could do this. He still had his balls. Maybe he still couldn't say anything about Dave, but he needed to say something about the baby. "I'm gonna wind up crashing hard for her if I haven't already," he admitted. "I don't know if it's really love yet... I care about her. A lot. I've liked her since I first saw her. And we're going to try the dating thing once I'm better. It's just hard at the moment. She's also my doctor, and a really good doctor. I don't wanna be the reason she lost her job. Except we, ah... Before the first round of chemo I ever had... She, um, she slept with me. I kept asking her about what would happen after the chemo. To my sex drive, to my fertility... It was like you never really know what you could be missing until you face the prospect of losing it. You know? And I just couldn't. I couldn't do the chemo without having sex. It was stupid, I know. And crossed every kinda line you could think of, but I don't regret it. Not one bit. Bella's a cancer survivor too, I told you that, right? That's why she's so good. She had it when she was a kid and she had all these doctors telling her that she wasn't gonna have kids. There was no way. And then with my chemo, we're still not really sure if there's a chance that I'll have kids. It might be a couple rounds, but I think it's no secret my dick still doesn't wanna play..."
Carla was watching Rick closely as he spoke, but now her eyes glanced to Chris, who couldn't look less guilty if he tried. He knew what Rick was talking about, if Carla could connect the dots here, she did too. She just wasn't sure right off the bat how she was supposed to feel about it. Relief that he wasn't sixteen and coming to her to tell her it was his prom date, was one thing. However, how much better was it that it was a professional doctor and Rick was her patient? The signs were there, though. Some days, Bella looked like she was feeling terrible. She put on a good front, though. Carla could give her that. She also wasn't obviously pregnant, so it had to be relatively early days. Scrubs hid a lot, though. And wasn't she too young to be a grandma? No, she really wasn't. She knew that, even if she had the boys when she was very young and stupid herself. She eventually nodded though, so he could continue. "... does she feel the same about you?" She just had to know that before he said the inevitable.
Rick ran his tongue over his bottom lip. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure she does. I know she does. I just know none of this is easy for her. She was torn over the doctor-patient thing. Anyone would be. And I know what it sounds like. It's not her taking advantage of me. Nothing like that happened. It's just a shock. I could be a dad. We're not going to know until she carries full term. There's a chance she won't given no one knew she could get pregnant." Rick rubbed his fingers against his lips. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you, Mom. I know there weren't supposed to be anymore secrets but I just had no idea how to even tell you. But I want this. And I want her."
Carla rubbed her hand over her mouth and then moved on to rub her forehead. Rick was sitting here about to face a round of chemo, so she couldn't freak out. But this was massive. She couldn't stoicly take it all in easily, either. It felt like her head was spinning. Secrets. Anymore of those and she knew she was going to go crazy. Right now, she planted both her hands on her knees and looked at both her sons seriously. She didn't say anything at first, she needed just a tiny bit more time to brace herself. "I need to know, right here and right now, if either of you are keeping anything else from me. This is the time to say it. Anymore secrets, and I just... I don't know what I'll do. I can only take so much."
Chris' first feeling was that he wanted to start to cry. The guilt surged up in him again and he felt the tears prick the backs of his eyes. His Mom's voice was shaky and tight as she spoke. She wasn't exploding angrily, but she was disappointed and hurt. She didn't understand why they kept pushing her away. It felt like his heart tightened and a sick feeling swelled in his gut. "I got drunk and had sex with Serena without a condom! But she took the morning after pill, so nothing happened. And I went down a sink hole against Proctor's wishes to cut off a guy's leg to save his life, and I nearly died because I cut the safety harness when they tried to pull me out. But I'm okay! I only hurt my wrist! Eva and I aren't talking, because I didn't tell her I was dating Serena, either, and Dave and I aren't talking because I don't know, but I think that's all the secrets! Besides the fact I nearly crapped myself - literally - when the physio had me out of bed that first day, but I really wasn't going to tell anyone that, and none of you can tell Serena!"
Rick's eyebrows shot up as he turned to look at Chris. In the wake of his baby brother's outburst it was hard not to start laughing. It was the first time Rick had really, genuinely smiled in what felt like months. It reached his eyes, even gave him the tiny crinkles. He held up a hand apologetically, but the laughter wasn't stopping just yet. "Me and Bella have farted in front of each other. I wasn't supposed to notice that she'd farted, but I did. Um, she bought me that t-shirt that says I'm the best big brother... I think it's finally starting to feel like that."
Carla was listening at Chris' rambling, her mouth hanging open just a little. But when both boys finished talking, she couldn't help but just give a small laugh of disbelief and put her fingers to her mouth as she just looked at them both. It had been so long since they were all in the same room and just talked. Despite the circumstances, it almost felt normal. "Takes me back to the time you wet yourself in the supermarket when you were four after insisting you didn't need the bathroom at all," Carla commented to Chris in amusement. "You didn't want Rick telling you that you needed to go the toilet, and it wasn't a pee dance, it was a candy dance because you wanted candy." She really wanted to shout at Chris for the sink hole thing, and she would have, if she hadn't already heard about it from Proctor. In fact, Proctor had spoken in length to her about Chris, and how he had come to feel extremely protective of him. In turn, Carla had revealed pieces of her past about the boys' father and why they were like they were now. Of course she understood the why, she just wished they weren't so stubborn and secretive. "Is that all it? Really? I just need to know. I'm not going to judge."
Chris bit down on his lip and swallowed. "I went to Wimico, after I found out Rick needed the kidney. But I didn't come home. I just went to the lake. I was only there for, like, twenty minutes before I drove home again. I didn't want to be there, Mom, and I don't think I really want to go back anymore."
"I want my Mommy," Rick finally blurted out. "Mom, you can't go back to Wimico. I know you think we don't need you, but we do. I know we're doing every possible thing that tells you otherwise, but don't pay attention! Please, Mom. Just move to Miami. Chris is here... I'm here... Neither of us are wetting ourselves yet. I still can't believe he just would not go to the toilet. We're boys, Mom. We do a lot of stupid things. We're not known for thinking with our upstairs brains all the time. We just might limit the stupid things if you move here."
"I thought I could hold it!" Chris had to protest and then gave a general wave in Rick's direction. "What he said too. I second it."
Carla closed her eyes briefly with a small sigh. "I don't think I'm cut out for Miami. It's so big and... bright. I don't know if I can sell the house, either. You both grew up there, and I know it doesn't have a lot of happy memories, but I... I don't know..." she admitted quietly. That was another thing Proctor had been chatting to her about. Miami being beautiful with amazing views and a fresh feeling to it. Perfect place for new starts, according to him. There was also the fact he had asked her if she wanted to join him for a drink, but that was her secret. She had no idea how they would react to that, especially not Chris. She hadn't accepted either... yet.
Rick shook his head. "Then don't... We'll find a way to get you here so you don't have to. You could always just rent it out. Let someone else try and have happy memories in it. Maybe it'll neutralise the bad mojo and we'll actually want to go back to Lake Wimico at some point. I don't know, but I do know that you not being for Miami is bullshit. Big and bright is what you need. You need the fresh start, Mom. We all do."
Carla wet her lips and glanced around the room. It still wasn't filling up, and she wondered if Rick might be the only one due for the moment. Or maybe the others had decided to pull out. She didn't exactly know how it was all going to work. "You two have managed so well on your own without me. For years now. I just think the fact you haven't been telling me things is indicative of the fact that you don't need me hanging around like a bad smell. I've got work back home, and some friends. Here, it's just a very daunting idea of being in this city if you two have things perfectly fine going for yourselves."
"Perfectly fine? Mom. Look at us. What's perfectly fine about it?" Chris mumbled quietly, his face now set in a deep, upset frown. His arms were hugged around himself now and he let out a shaky breath. "I've never been 'perfectly fine'. Not since that night. I'm just really damn good at masking it. I threw myself into my job, which is awesome. I love my work. I wouldn't change that. I threw myself into life, but none of it had meaning. Not until I met Serena. I dunno about Rick... and considering he has a central line in his chest, pretty sure that speaks for itself, but I'm not 'perfectly fine'. I want my Mom and I want my big brother. I want my family. It's all I've ever wanted."
"What he said. I second it," Rick added as he pointed at his little brother. "Only clearly I don't have a Serena. I have a Bella, and even that's a bit of a mess. And it also took me getting cancer to even be the big brother Chris needed. You do remember which brother I am, right? I've never been perfectly fine, Mom. Best thing I ever did was get that pilot's license. And follow Dave back down here... I've lost a kidney. Chris is missing a kidney because I needed it... He nearly died. Mom, we're not fine. Besides, how am I supposed to make sure I'm not the dad ours was if you stay away. I'll need you when the baby comes. If the baby comes... I have to get it right."
Carla was trying to take in the enormity of it all. She really was lagging behind here. But she blinked and gave her head a small shake. "The baby..." She frowned a little and looked at Rick. She couldn't believe it, he really was going to be a father. And it wasn't just some random cheerleader or burger flipper, or some slut he had picked up in a bar. It was a doctor, a very reknowned doctor, who wanted him and wasn't just a pair of breasts on legs. She was far from it. "What are you going to do when the baby comes? No baby needs all these secrets and negativity."
Chris glanced over at Rick curiously. "Yeah, what are you going to do?" he asked unhelpfully.
Rick looked between the two of them, his look suddenly guilty. "I don't know! We can't even really talk about it because what if she can't carry it full term? I don't know if I'm supposed to plan... I don't even have my own place. I didn't stay with her either because she needs to take it easy right now, and looking after me post-chemo is not taking it easy. It's not like I have much to offer her. My job pays a shitload less than hers... Shit, I don't even have my job right now. I have to try and get one with your hospital, but I don't exactly have the energy for an interview right now."
"Dude, she's not gonna want you to provide for her. She's all independent woman. You don't wanna even try to provide for those. She's worked hard, she'll want to pay her own way. She's like Serena. Serena wants to pay for our bathroom renovations. I'm only allowed to pay for the glass bricks because I picked them," Chris said wryly and scratched the top of his head. "When it comes to the kid, then it might change then, but... you can't not plan for it. Or it'll come before you know it. Like suddenly, my residency is nearly up and I have no fucking clue what I'm going to do when it is. No matter what happens with Bella, you guys still need to figure out together what's going on for the kid."
Carla had been sitting listening to Chris and then she looked back to Rick. This was more like what she was used to. Chris always had the advice, and Rick always started out trying to listen, but inevitably it just turned out that Chris was wasting his breath. She really hoped this time was different. "He's right, sweetheart. It's not just about you and Bella anymore, and it's never going to be. That's a hard thing to get used to, especially when you're facing something like cancer, but that's your little son or daughter she's carrying. You two need to be on the same page."
Rick bit down on his lip as he listened to them both, his head already starting to hurt with how he was supposed to even start planning for a kid. "Maybe I'm not supposed to provide for her, but I can't just do nothing. I want to be able to contribute. I still want to be able to take her on dates, to get things for the baby. I just don't know what comes after that. I don't know how to think about me and someone else and a baby. It's hard. And it's been hard trying to fathom the fact that I might actually be around to see the baby grow up after everything that happened. It's why I got in such a funk. That, and the fact that I thought I'd lost my brother for good. Then I knew that you didn't even feel wanted either, Mom. I never wanted that for you."
Carla was getting teary again, and she searched around in her handbag for some tissues. "Rick, this isn't a normal situation. You're going through chemotherapy. You've had cancer. You still need to face that before anything else will fall into place. I'm not saying you have to run out and start buying cradles and diapers just yet, but you and Bella need to talk and make sure you have a plan set in place. In fact, I highly suggest you don't go out and start buying those things yet. Not if it is a pregnancy that has risks. Wait a little longer. I waited until seven months with Chris... I didn't know if it would... if..." She exhaled sharply, looking between them. "I didn't know if I could have anymore kids after Rick, but I fell pregnant and it was like it was some sort of miracle. But I was wary. I tried not to get too personally invested in it. I think maybe Bella might be feeling the same."
Chris was looking at his mother in disbelief. "What? Are you serious? I wasn't planned?" He looked at Rick in confusion, like he needed some sort of back up here. He just didn't know what. He sunk back further against the pillow with a small scowl on his face. "Jesus. As if I didn't feel enough like I was on the family outer. No wonder Dad hates me."
Rick reached out to rest his hand on Chris' arm. "Hey, hey. You don't have to be planned to be loved. Mom loves you just as much as me. I might have been planned, but I'm still the biggest dickhead... remember? You're not on the family outer. Jesus, Chris. Dad didn't know what was good for him. He was a drunk, he beat Mom. He hated everyone. He only tolerated me because he probably figured I'd take after him. That I'd be the next prick in line." He looked back at their mom and drew in a breath. "So, is... um, is it right not to be too personally invested? Did it help you?"
Carla leant forward and pried Chris' hand away from his chest so she could hold it. "Hey, just because you weren't planned didn't mean I didn't want you. I wanted you so badly and I was devastated when I was told I couldn't have anymore children. At the time Rick, was the best thing I ever did in my whole life. He was my whole world, and I think your father resented that, but I don't care. I knew when I had him that being a mom was all I wanted. I wanted to do it all over again, and when I found out I was having you, I had those same feelings all over again. I was excited, but I was terrified I might lose you at any moment after what the doctor said. So, I just stayed focused and took each day, making sure I didn't do anything to jinx it. When you actually arrived, I swore that I would never want anything ever again, so long as you both stayed healthy." The tears spilled over and she wiped at her eyes with a tissue. "I don't think the second part of the wish worked. It helped, Rick. I never stopped praying that Chris would be okay, but there was no other way for me to deal with it than just take each day and not believe he was an inevitability until I was holding him in my arms, counting his ten little toes. And you. Man, you were fascinated how small his nose was. You kept touching it," she said with a laugh.
Rick laughed softly as he glanced over at his brother. "I'm still in awe of him," he murmured as he held Chris' gaze for a moment. "I do actually remember when you came home, bro. I couldn't believe it. All this fuss about the baby coming and then when you were finally there you were just so small. And loud. Really, really loud. But somehow you just shut up when I took your hand the first time. I didn't hold you. I was still pretty young myself, but I could take your hand. I had a little step to stand on so I could see into your cradle. I just couldn't believe it... I had a brother. I wanted to be the best big brother ever since that first moment. Just something went wrong, and I never got it right." Rick reached up to touch his bandana before he readjusted it slightly. "I just need to get the dad thing right from the start."
Chris swallowed, trying to dislodge the lump that had formed in his throat. He felt like he wanted to cry, but he was trying to save face after leaking all over the place left, right and centre when he was in hospital. He wished Rick had gotten it right. Not that he would change things now, except Rick not getting sick. It seemed surreal that Rick was so happy to have him around when he was a baby. Chris always just assumed Rick thought he was pond fungus or some sort of similar specimen. To hear now that wasn't true, he wondered what he did to change things. He couldn't talk. If he did, he would cry. He wanted more than anything for Rick to be the best father he could, because Chris really didn't want his niece or nephew to ever feel like he did when it came to their father or Rick when he was younger. Those feelings, he probably wouldn't ever get over, not completely. It was getting better, though. He just hoped it didn't change when Rick got better.
"You won't always get it right, baby," Carla warned him quietly and shifted so she could brushed her fingers through Chris' hair. The look on his face said it all, as did his silence. There were still things that would take time to work through. "No parent gets it right one hundred percent of the time. I'm pretty much walking proof of that. You try so hard, but sometimes you just don't get it right. Your babies hurt, and you can't stop it. That right there is the worst and hardest thing about being a parent."
Rick couldn't say anything at first when his gaze landed back on his brother. How could he? Chris looked like he wanted to cry, and Rick was a mess when it came to his brother lately. Chris made him cry without even trying half the time these days. Rick kept his fingers against his lips until he was sure he could speak without his voice breaking, or without wanting to cry. He was also sure he knew what Chris was thinking. He was still waiting for Rick to bolt. "I can still get it better than our dad. I'm not going to run away from this, or from you," he added to Chris with a look. "And I still want my Mommy. I'm not going to ever be too old to say that. I know it'll suck if my kid hurts. Just like it sucks when my brother hurts."
Chris cleared his throat, really having to tell himself not to get up and bolt to the nearest elevator to escape to Serena. Besides the fact he couldn't run, he would probably give it a good attempt. "When Bella comes, Mom and me will go do something out of here and you can talk to her. Not many people around, so you can get a good chance. Maybe she can come around for dinner or something... you know, when you aren't hurling so much. If you do this time. Maybe you won't. You might breeze through it." He was optimistic, but considering last time and that he had to get Bella over in the middle of the night to help Rick, Chris was really doubting how he would go taking care of Rick this time. Thank god their Mom was there.
"You'll do just fine, Rick. You will. I have every faith in you. But it won't be easy. Just like none of this is easy. Bella is going to need you, but right now, she needs you to do what she says as your doctor above all else. You and Chris are so good at not doing what you should be, so don't go making her job harder than it already is," Carla warned, giving Rick's chest a soft poke for emphasis. "Being pregnant is tough, and that's before even thinking about giving birth."
"Just make it a little subtle, huh? Maybe think of the something you're going to go do before she comes so it's not awkward as all fuck. Please," Rick begged his brother before shooting him a lopsided smile. "Maybe you two could just go see if Serena's eaten. You gotta make sure she's taken care of. Plus she's probably still having a heart attack over you running away from hospital. Maybe she is a strong independent woman, but she still has to eat, right? There's barely anything of her in the first place." Rick held up his hands to his mother as he gave her an impish smile. "I wouldn't make her job hard. I've been the model patient, Mom. I swear!"
"Then maybe you could make some of that model patient mojo rub off on your little brother here, because he failed that class," Carla said pointedly, tilting her head as she looked at Chris. "Serena can feed herself, I'll feed your brother, who has taken to skipping meals when neither of us are looking. I'm sorry, Chris, but you want to act like a teenager, then I'll treat you like one. I'm not impressed at your little escape act from the hospital. You are still not well. You could hardly see straight when you woke up this morning."
Chris scowled with a huff. "Why am I always getting yelled at? I explained all that, and I'm not going back. I'm not. None of you can make me, either. This place is dogs balls and I did my time."
Rick snorted softly in amusement but winced when that copped a Mom Look too. "You've still overexerted yourself, bro. You still need to take it easy and quietly. Just chill. You say you have patience for waiting for Serena, but you don't have the patience to be a patient and that's what's doing you in. I don't like this either, but I know if I don't do it I'll get you, Bella, Serena, Lisa, Dave all coming down on me for not taking care of myself. Not to mention Mom. Think I'm gonna risk that? Nope, no way."
"At least Dave will talk to you then," Chris said grumpily, still scowling as his arms came to be tightly crossed over his chest again. "I don't care what any of you say. I'm sick of being treated like a kid! I'm a friggen fully qualified surgeon, and you're all making me feel like a dipshit. And I'm not apologising for swearing, either, Mom."
Carla closed her eyes briefly and gave a long-suffering sigh. "And would a fully qualified surgeon advise any of their post-operative patients to skip meals and run around Miami after major abdominal surgery?" At least talking to Proctor gave her the right terminology. But Chris had a reckless streak if he got it into his head he needed to help someone. It was exactly the same sort of situation as the sink hole, only this time it had been his brother. Not a single thing or person would have stopped him checking out of hospital when he did. That didn't mean she couldn't be worried about him.
"I think the silence is a resounding no," Rick answered after waiting for his brother to answer, but the pouty look on Chris' face said it all. "Dave's not exactly talking to me, but I still don't want to risk every doctor I know coming to bite me in the ass for being an idiot. Again. I've done that once with that stupid surgery, and look what happened. I'm not risking effing anything up again. I'm following doctor's orders. Chris, I know you don't like being told what to do because you're a doctor and a genius cowboy, but we're still your family. We worry, we get concerned. We don't want you hurting yourself."
Chris pointed at his stomach. "The wound is closed, healed over. No risk of post-op infection. I wasn't running around Miami. I got in a cab and went straight home. I've only been skipping meals when I feel nauseous, and I feel nauseous from the pain killers, which I take with monotonous regularity so I'm not having to lie in bed in the fetal position twenty-four-seven. I'm still eating, it's just small amounts throughout the day so I'm not taking in huge amounts of anything at once to give me even more pain. Any good surgeon would have their post-operative abdominal patients up and around on day three post op so their abdominal muscles don't crap out and stop working. Because the abdominal muscles actually control a majority of movements and actions in the body. Oh my god, the surgeon knows his shit," he said sarcastically.
Carla pursed her lips and looked from Rick to Chris. "You're extremely unattractive when you're sulking, Christopher."
Rick nodded. "What she said. I mean, right now, I just have no idea what Serena sees in you. Do you get this sarcastic with all your patients? Because I heard you had some kind of amazing bedside manner, but clearly that was just bullshit."
"Do I look like your doctor? I don't see my name on any patient records right now," Chris bitched right back. If he actually had the strength, he would probably infiltrate MT1 right then and start working. He was getting frustrated being out of action, and rather than Serena this time, his mother and brother were copping it from all angles. "I gave you my kidney, what more do you want?"
Carla shook her head. "I'm starting to think you have low blood sugar or something," she murmured, scratching her head. If Bella didn't come soon, this could be a really long morning. "Or PMS. Maybe secondary sympathetic pregnancy on Bella's behalf, because you're being a shit, Christopher. This is what I'm supposed to remain in Miami for? Apologise to your brother."
"No," Chris said petulantly.
Rick arched an eyebrow and wisely stayed quiet as he watched his mom and brother. It really was like old times. Chris was acting like a child and getting treated like one. Maybe later they'd laugh about it, but right now Rick could just feel the tension. He also felt the kick to the guts that came with being asked if there was more Rick wanted than just his brother's kidney. He closed down, his head resting in his hand as he just stared down at his lap.
The bitchiness Chris could tolerate, but not the silence. He had been trying to delude himself all day that Rick wasn't here for more chemo and he wouldn't be horrifically sick by nightfall. Last time was still fresh in his mind, and he knew Rick was the one going through it, but witnessing it had completely freaked Chris out to the point he was sure he sucked as a doctor if he couldn't even help his own brother. He looked from his mom to his brother and then as soon as he saw Rick's face, he just burst into tears. Maybe he was sympathetically pregnant.
Carla's heart shot up into her throat. Tears from either of her boys split her heart in two, but this was just out of the blue. If Rick started to, she would go out in sympathy. "Chris..." she said helplessly, digging around in her bag for some more tissues as she watched Rick closely. Wet pants in a supermarket was so much easier to deal with than all of this.
Word Count | 7,411