Matters of the Heart

by Aosora Hikaru (青空 ヒカル)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/246022.html)

For all the stories Scot had ever heard about college dorm rooms, this one sure wasn’t that bad. Cramped, sure, but what else could you expect from trying to fit enough furniture for two students into one bedroom?

Through the walls, he could hear the kid in the next room being lectured by his mother. So the part he’d heard about hearing everything from other rooms was true. Scot felt bad for the guy, because his mother would not shut up about how he needed to be careful and not go to parties and not bring girls back to his room–like the guy would listen to her–and get good grades because she would be damned if she would waste her money

Scot was glad his parents weren’t worried about any of that. He’d always been a “good kid,” one of those kids who got good grades and never caused their parents any worry. He walked around the room aimlessly, rearranging the items he’d already set out with no real intent behind the motions. Scot knew he needed to make a good impression on his roommate, because they’d be spending the year together and he didn’t want it to start off on the wrong foot.

“Hi.”

Scot looked up to find an impossibly tall, lanky young man standing in the doorway to his dorm room. Not exactly short himself, he barely came up to this guy’s shoulder. “Hey. I’m Scot Brigham. You must be Adam.”

“Yeah, Adam Galezynski. Don’t ask how to spell it. You’ll never remember.”

Scot laughed. The humor right off the bat was a good sign. He liked his roommate already. “I already put my stuff on the bottom bunk, but if you’d be more comfortable down there, I can move.”

Adam took a moment to evaluate the bed and the height of the ceiling, then shook his head. “Nah. Bottom bunks suck for tall guys like me. Looks like I won’t hit my head on the ceiling like I’d hit it on the top bunk.” Adam dragged in the first box of his stuff from the hall, and Scot sprang up to help. His own parents had helped him move in that morning, but it looked like Adam was moving in alone.

“Where are your parents?”

Adam shrugged. “Didn’t come.”

Scot didn’t press.

It didn’t take long for them to work out a system of where to arrange things; it turned out they shared a fair number of interests anyway and spending time together would likely be more enjoyable than a chore. The best part was Scot had the Xbox to compliment Adam’s PlayStation, and so each of them would enjoy a wider arrangement of games than they had before moving in together.

Scot flopped onto the threadbare bean bag chair he’d brought from home and nodded to the mini-fridge. “There’s soda in there. Help yourself. What do you think you’re gonna major in?”

“I dunno,” Adam shrugged and pulled out a can from the fridge. “Probably something with computers, like every other fucking person ever. What about you?”

“Medicine.”

“Wow, dude. You’re like, 18. And you already know what you want to do?”

Scot nodded and took a long drink from his soda can. “Yeah, I do. I’ve wanted to do this forever. My dad’s an ER physician. My mom’s a nurse. It just makes sense.”

Adam stared at him, his eyebrows knitting together. They each stayed silent while Adam sank into the desk chair on his side of the room, and Scot wasn’t sure why Adam had reacted the way he had. “What?”

“Are you sure that you’re becoming a doctor because you wanna be, or because they want you to?”

It was a beautiful day outside, and Scot took full advantage by staring out the window. That was a question he’d asked himself many, many times throughout the last few years of high school, but nothing else seemed to call him. If nothing else, it’d be a well-paying job. Not like he’d ever marry anyone, anyway. Best to have a career he could focus on and lose himself in than to be completely alone.

“I want it.”

Adam nodded, cracked open his soda, then tossed a controller to Scot. “Betcha I can kick your ass.”

Scot grinned and set his soda aside before picking up the controller. “You’re fucking on, dude.”

==

Scot sighed as he flopped into a chair at the nurses station. He’d just changed his scrubs for the third time that night, and hoped that he wouldn’t be bathed in yet another fountain of bodily fluids. The fact that the last two changes had been necessitated by the same patient wasn’t helping his mood at all.

“How’s bay two, Dr. Brigham?”

“Bay two needs to lay off the alcohol,” Scot said, shooting a withering look at the nurse. Lynette was young, but she had proven herself quite capable, and was well-respected among the staff. She enjoyed teasing Scot a little too much for his taste, though.

Lynette laughed and worked to set up another set of charts for the doctors to take. “I heard quite the impressive set of noises in there. You sure he’s got any guts left after all that?”

Scot shook his head and chuckled as he picked up his coffee. “Might have to schedule a CT to be sure.”

Their banter was interrupted by the announcement of an ambulance on the way, and soon the ER was a flurry of motion again. Under Scot’s instruction, a bay was prepared for the patient, and when the paramedics arrived, Scot met them at the bay doors.

The paramedics burst through, jogging alongside a gurney. Scot joined them and looked over the chart they thrust into his hands as best as he could while they shouted out what they’d learned so far. “Patient is male, a John Doe, approximately thirty-five years of age. He was walking down the street when he collapsed with no pulse. Bystanders performed CPR and called 911. Judging by the scar over his sternum he’s got a past history of heart problems and cardiac surgeries. He’s in vfib, we intubated him and had to shock him twice on the way here…”

Scot listened as the paramedic rattled off the stats, but once his gaze dropped down to the patient’s face, he felt as if he would throw up the entire contents of his own stomach. He couldn’t believe his eyes, refused to believe what was before him.

There on the stretcher, ashen, sweaty and not breathing, was Adam.

“He didn’t have ID, so we’ll have to–”

“No need,” Scot said, shaking his head. “I know who he is. His name is Adam Galezynski.”

Lynette took over for the paramedic breathing for Adam, but looked at Scot in confusion. “How do you know him? He’s not a frequent flyer.”

“I went to college with him,” Scot said, and left it at that.

They started the procedure to try to get Adam’s heart started again, Scot shouting directions at the top of his lungs. He couldn’t focus on the knowledge that his former roommate, best friend, and ex-boyfriend lay dying here in front of him. Right now, Adam was a patient, and saving him was Scot’s priority.

He threw himself into it to keep himself from focusing on anything else.

==

“Hey, what kept you out so late last night?” Scot lounged back in his bean bag chair on the floor of the dorm room. He had to be careful now or else he’d pop off the duct tape patch holding in the beans.

Adam shrugged. “A date, or what I thought was gonna be one.”

Scot paused the video game and set aside the controller. “She bail on you?”

The bed tapped the wall as Adam climbed up onto the top bunk, and Scot heard him snort. “Don’t date girls.”

“You… You’re gay?”

“Yeah, go ahead and let the RA know you want the fag out of your room. I’ll start packing my shit up in a few minutes.”

There had always been suspicions lurking in the back of Scot’s mind, starting with the fact that Adam had moved into the dorm alone and never mentioned his family. On top of that, he never talked about girlfriends or even having dated any girls at all previously.

That certainly made the crush he’d been harboring on Adam both easier and harder to bear.

Scot picked at the fraying edge of the duct tape on the bean bag chair. “That’d be awfully hypocritical of me.”

The blankets rustled as Adam rolled to the edge of his bed and stared down at Scot. “What?”

“I said that would be hypocritical. Why would I throw you out for being gay when I am, too?”

“You’re shitting me.”

Scot shook his head, then tipped it back to look at Adam. “Nope. Why do you think I never brought a girl back here, either?”

Adam laughed, and even with him upside-down in Scot’s vision it was a great sight. “I dunno, I just thought you were considerate. Or maybe really lame with the ladies. I wasn’t gonna judge if you didn’t have game.”

“But you were gonna help me out if I continued to fail?”

“Yeah, pretty much.” Adam rested his chin on his crossed arms, looking down at Scot. “Now I’m wishing I’d told you earlier.”

He could hear the beanbag rip more as he slid down, but Scot paid it no mind. He could always put on more duct tape. “Why’s that?”

Adam shrugged and rolled back onto the mattress again. When he spoke up, his voice was distorted from bouncing off the ceiling. “Wouldn’t have wasted all this time wondering if I’d freak you out if I said I liked you.”

And that certainly cleared up Scot’s confusion.

“Today’s your lucky day,” Scot murmured.

Slowly, Adam poked his head out again. “Now you have to be shitting me.”

“Nope.” Scot folded his hands over his chest. “Looks like the dorm placement gods smiled upon us this year.”

It seemed like forever they stayed like that, Adam staring down from the top bunk while Scot stared back up at him. Scot let himself think of all the times he’d imagined waking Adam up with such a confession, or stared at Adam too long with his shirt off, or imagined tracing his fingertips and lips down that thick, corded scar in the center of Adam’s chest.

All those times he’d caught Adam’s gaze lingering too made sense.

“God damn it, Adam, are you going to get the fuck down here or what?”

Adam laughed, then slid down from the top bunk. He flopped himself down next to Scot, his ass barely contacting the ground before he kissed Scot hard.

==

“I need another epinephrine bolus, stat!” Scot shouted, his arms quivering from the strain of performing chest compressions.

Around him the nurses were caught up in a flurry of motion, scrambling to fill the orders Scot shouted, ensuring they compressed the bag connected to the breathing tube to breathe for Adam, taking over for the chest compressions when Scot grew too fatigued to continue.

Scot watched the monitor anxiously for any signs of improvement. “Check his pulse!”

Lynette put two fingers to Adam’s neck, and shook her head. “Nothing.”

“All right, charging the defibrillator. Everyone clear?”

Confirmations sounded around him, and Scot nodded. “Okay. Shocking him.”

Adam’s whole body tensed, his chest snapping up like he had a rope tied around his ribcage, but still the monitor showed his heart merely fluttered.

“Lynette, get me more epinephrine. Resume CPR.”

Scot took over the bag, watching Adam’s chest rise and fall minutely as Scot breathed for him, and he set his jaw. He had no idea how he would feel if Adam didn’t make it. He had never before been this emotionally invested in a patient. Would he be able to forgive himself if he failed?

“Come on, Adam,” Scot murmured. “Don’t you die on me.”

Being an ER doctor was so much easier when you didn’t know your patients. When they were just a face and a name, a set of symptoms, a problem to be fixed, it was simple. Diagnose it, fix it, send them on their way. Nothing to attach you to them.

Adam made this all more complicated than Scot had ever wanted or needed it to be, and he didn’t like it at all.

“Don’t you dare die on me.”

==

They’d lived together the rest of the time in college, maintaining a careful secrecy about their relationship. A few close friends knew, and Scot’s parents knew, but early on Adam was firm when he explained his parents were not to know about their relationship.

Later, Scot learned why. Adam had been kicked out of his house for his sexual orientation and only been able to go to this college between a combination of loans, grants, and scholarships. Scot felt guilty for his own parents’ tentative acceptance when he came out, but he was glad his parents warmed up to the idea and provided Adam a place to stay during holidays. After their sophomore year, he and Adam moved into an apartment together.

The summer of their senior year loomed all too soon, though. Adam was set to graduate with a degree in computer programming, and Scot had been accepted to his dream medical school halfway across the country.

“Please come with me,” Scot panted one night, his come drying on his stomach as Adam quivered above him.

“Wow, talk about a change of subject,” Adam murmured, rolling over to Scot’s side. “Didn’t even have my dick out of you and you’re already talking about something else.”

Scot sighed, turning onto his side. “Adam, come on. You know you can find a programming job anywhere.”

“I can’t, actually. I found one here.

“I know, but… I’ll miss you. I don’t want to lose you.”

Adam groaned. “I wish you hadn’t brought this up right now, Scot. I was really hoping we’d have this conversation at a better time.”

Scot had a sudden sensation of a bucket of ice water being dumped over his head. “What do you mean?”

The room was dead silent while Adam rolled off the bed, slipping the condom off and tossing it into the garbage, then pulling his pajama pants on and bringing Scot a wet washcloth. When Scot sat up to accept it, Adam turned away before speaking again. “I thought it might be better if we… if we took a break while you were at school.”

Somewhere in the depths of his mind, Scot knew he was deep in the throes of a panic attack over this thought. He felt as if he had a vise around his throat, and it tasted like he had a mouthful of pennies. “Why? We’ve… We’ve been together so long, Adam! You know I’d never cheat! And I’m going to come home for every break, and we’ll be able to talk on the phone, and–”

“Scot, stop. You’ll be too busy with school, and I’ll be too busy with work. It’s not because I think you’ll be unfaithful, or whatever. It’s not because I think I’ll be unfaithful, for that matter. We’re just not going to have time for each other, and you deserve better than that.”

Scot decided cleaning the mess on his stomach was a better use for his time, and had the added bonus of hiding the tears welling up in his eyes. Once he’d finished wiping himself clean, Scot stood and deposited the washcloth into the hamper, then pulled on his own pajamas. Adam had moved behind him and Scot let his gentle hands turn him around to face each other.

“Scot. I love you. I always will,” said Adam, looking into Scot’s eyes. “I want what’s best for both of us, and you being neglected because we’re both too busy isn’t fair.”

“I won’t feel neglected.”

“You say that now, but I’ve seen how you’ve looked around finals week. You’d miss me too much. This is easiest.”

Scot hugged himself, dropping his gaze down to their feet. “I… I can’t leave tonight. I’ll sleep on the couch, and I’ll call my mom tomorrow. She’ll let me come home.”

“I’m so sorry,” Adam murmured. He went to pull Scot into a hug, but stopped and stepped back. The only solace Scot could find was Adam looked to be on the verge of tears himself. “I’ll help you pack tomorrow.”

“Thanks,” Scot murmured. He didn’t feel all that thankful, truth be told. It felt as if that offer merely rubbed salt in the wound. The walk to the living room wasn’t long, but he shuffled down the hall with his pillow and blanket in his arms as if he were headed toward the noose.

Long into the night he laid awake, staring at one of Adam’s socks laying on the floor and wondering why, no matter how long he or any other doctor studied the organ, no one could fix a broken heart.

==

“Dr. Brigham, we’ve been attempting resuscitation for twenty minutes now,” Lynette said.

“Do not stop!” Scot cried, relentless in pacing the chest compressions he performed. He didn’t give up easily with most patients, but especially not with Adam. There was no way he could give up on Adam. Not now, not ever.

The fact that Adam had already been in cardiac arrest for over half an hour was irrelevant.

Lynette looked at Scot with a critical eye, but kept breathing for Adam. Scot could tell the wheels turned in her head as she started to figure out their connection, but he wasn’t concerned with what she thought about his stubbornness with Adam’s resuscitation.

Two fingers to Adam’s carotid artery revealed nothing. “No pulse,” Scot muttered, stepping back again. “Everyone clear. I’m going to shock him again.”

Once more Adam’s body jerked. Once more the heart monitor showed ventricular fibrillation.

And then the line went flat. An ear-splitting alarm echoed through the bay as everyone scrambled to resume their tasks once more.

“Okay, he’s coded! Get him another cc of epinephrine and damn it, Lynette, don’t stop CPR!

Scot flew into action, even more determined to bring Adam back now that he’d flatlined. He scrambled up onto the gurney and straddled Adam’s hips, compressing his chest and staring down at Adam’s face.

“Adam, I swear to God and all that is holy, if you die, I will never forgive you. Do you hear me? Never!”

There was no reply, of course. Scot continued without cease, his teeth gritted hard with utter determination. Adam would live. Scot would make sure of it.

==

Scot scrubbed his hand down his face to hide a yawn. These shifts at the hospital were killer, but he had come to the bar tonight anyway. He had tomorrow off, though there was always the chance he could be called in to cover anyway.

He had come here, though, because he had an unshakable feeling that he needed to come tonight. So here he sat with a beer in front of him at the bar, looking around at the people gathered every so often. He knew he had to be here, but he didn’t know why.

“Scot? Scot Brigham?”

For a moment, Scot thought he’d fallen asleep sitting up, dreaming the voice he thought he’d never hear again. “Oh my God, Adam?”

He swiveled on his stool and yes, there he was, still all too-long limbs though he wore his hair shorter now. He grinned, that same old smile that still made Scot’s heart flip-flop.

“I see you moved back after medical school.” Adam settled down onto the stool next to Scot and ordered his own beer.

“Yeah. An ER doctor position opened up when my dad retired. Turns out they liked the idea of replacing one Dr. Brigham with another.” Scot smiled at Adam and toyed with the edge of his napkin.

“So, you followed in your dad’s footsteps. Any particular reason why, beyond family tradition?”

This again. It reminded him powerfully of that first day together in their freshman dorm at college. Adam had elaborated, later, on why he felt so strongly about Scot going along with his parents’ careers: Adam himself had been expected to the perfect emulation of his father, down to attending law school and joining his father’s firm.

His refusal to do either, combined with his sexuality, was too much for his parents to stand, and they had disowned him. Adam admitted to Scot one night he harbored resentment not only for Scot’s parents accepting his sexuality, but for Scot’s willingness to become a doctor as his father had been. It was a clash they never resolved.

Scot ran his fingertip around the rim of his beer glass a few times before he murmured, “No, no reason.”

Adam said nothing, and his silence said everything.

Grasping for anything to keep Adam there and talking to him, Scot said, “So how has work been going?”

“Ugh, do not get me started. So many people have no fucking idea how to use a computer…”

It was easy to fall back into their old comfort, talking and laughing. Adam told stories of countless frustrations at the hands of clueless users, and Scot shared some of the stranger cases he’d seen during his internship. Their stools crept ever-closer as the talk went on, their thighs laying alongside each other. Each shift in their body weight set a flame ablaze within Scot, one that he hadn’t felt in damn near a decade. Adam kept meeting his gaze, and each time he did, Scot noticed that his eyes softened. Scot’s heart raced within his chest, and after Adam let his palm rest on Scot’s leg, Scot couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Hey.” He leaned over to murmur into Adam’s ear. “I’ve really, really missed you.”

“I’ve missed you too,” Adam said, a smile on his face. They were so close now, Scot could smell the beer on Adam’s breath.

An expectant tension hung in the air between them, and they both hovered there, looking into the other’s eyes.

“God damn it, Scot, are you going to kiss me, or what?” Adam said, and Scot burst into laughter. It really did feel just like college again.

“Fair enough,” he said, and leaned in for the kiss. It started out delicate as they felt each other out again after such a long time, but grew deeper as they became more comfortable. Before it grew too intense, though, Scot forced himself to pull back. They were too out in the open, sitting there at the bar in front of everyone.

“Come on,” he said, and took Adam’s hand in his. Adam raised an eyebrow in question, but followed Scot obediently.

Thankfully, there was an empty booth in the corner. They waded through the dancers littering the floor in the center of the bar to slide into it.

“So we’re over thirty, and we’re going to make out in the corner booth like we used to when we were teenagers?” Adam grinned, stroking his fingertips along the stubble on Scot’s jaw.

Scot closed his eyes and slid his glasses off, folded the arms in, and laid them on the table. “Yeah, for now.”

“Sounds good to me,” Adam murmured, then drew Scot in for another kiss. This one built faster, their hands sliding over the other’s body. Adam still felt like he used to all those years ago, which pleased Scot. For Adam’s part, he seemed to have no problem with Scot’s now-softer body, neglected through long hours of emergency room rounds and too many cups of coffee instead of meals.

True to Adam’s words, it was just like when they were teenagers. They groped at each other desperately with eager hands and even the fear of offending someone couldn’t keep Scot from doing it. He was fairly sure that if someone asked them to stop, he’d probably just flip them off and keep going.

The years had been kind to Adam in another respect–already talented in the realm of making out when they were in college, Adam had only grown better with time. Scot grew more frustrated by the moment, his dick hard and throbbing in his jeans, and their position in the booth meant he wasn’t getting nearly enough attention there. Adam was hard in his own jeans, as Scot discovered, and he made the most amazing noises when Scot cupped his palm over the bulge.

“I have a really crazy idea. Can you trust me?” Scot murmured between kisses.

Adam chuckled. “You, having a crazy idea and actually wanting to pursue it? You really have changed.” He picked up Scot’s glasses, opening them and placing them on Scot’s nose again. “Let’s see what you have in mind.”

Scot adjusted his glasses and brushed another kiss over Adam’s lips, then stood up and urged Adam up with him. “You have to promise me you’ll be quiet.”

“Now I’m really intrigued. Lead on, Scot.”

Scot took Adam’s hand, leading him through the bar once more. In the back of the bar, the bathrooms waited, and luckily didn’t appear to be overpopulated. There was something good to be said for it still being early.

Adam looked at Scot as if he’d grown an extra head, and said, “You can’t be ser–”

Or, at least, that was all he could get out before Scot pressed a finger to his lips, then kissed him hard. “You promised.”

“Fair enough,” Adam murmured, and said nothing else as Scot pulled him into the bathroom and into the single stall in the men’s room. Once the door was securely locked behind them, Scot pushed Adam against the wall, stretching up onto his tiptoes to kiss him hard. Adam tried to pull him closer, but Scot stepped back and shook his head with a smile. Adam groaned as Scot peppered kisses down his neck, but Scot refused to be rushed—he wanted this to last as long as possible. There was no telling when he and Adam would see each other again.

He sank to his knees there in front of Adam and ran his hands over the bulge in Adam’s jeans, then over his thighs, and back up to the fly. He couldn’t even care that he was tired, that anyone that walked into the bathroom would see under the door what he was doing; he had Adam again, and he would enjoy this for however long he would be fortunate enough to have it.

Adam’s stance and movements became more impatient, and he dropped his hands down to Scot’s head. Even with Adam’s fingers pressing into his scalp, Scot still took the time to appreciate each groan and muttered curse as he slowly unzipped Adam’s fly and drew out the hard flesh beneath it. The familiar scent of Adam filled his senses again, and Scot took a moment to savor it before taking the length into his mouth. The reaction Adam gave him was well worth the ache that had set in to his knees already from the uneven tile floor, and Scot went to work to draw out more of the same desperate pleasure from Adam. All the while, he couldn’t believe his luck. Adam in his life again, and not just as a friend, but as a lover, even for this short length of time? Scot must have been building up some major karma.

Adam didn’t last long, likely from a combination of Scot’s single-minded determination and the thrill of being so exposed. He let out a soft cry as he pulsed salty and bitter over Scot’s tongue, and Scot moaned softly. Within his own jeans, he ached with the pain of neglect, but Scot ignored it in favor of being sure he got every last drop from Adam.

When he leaned back to look back up at Adam, Scot chuckled at the dazed expression Adam wore. He pushed himself back up to his feet, and kissed Adam. “You honestly can’t have been that blown away.”

“Fuck, I forgot how good you are at that.” Adam murmured as he turned them to pin Scot against the wall.

Scot groaned when Adam brushed his hand over the fly of his jeans. “Had a good teacher.”

Adam didn’t let him speak again. Again they kissed like they’d die without the meeting of their lips, and Adam worked Scot’s jeans and underwear down far enough to wrap his hand around the length of his cock. Like Adam before him, Scot didn’t last long under the onslaught of pleasure, and Adam muffled Scot’s cry with a hard kiss.

They were silent after, cleaning up the mess with crumpled wads of toilet paper, then went back to the booth as if they hadn’t both just gotten off in a matter of minutes.

Adam draped his arm over Scot’s shoulders once they were seated again, and Scot smiled. “So do you live far from here?”

“Nah. About fifteen minutes? I come here sometimes. My bar of choice, I guess.” Adam shifted to pull his cell phone out of his pocket. “What about you?”

“I actually live more like half an hour from here, but it’s close to the hospital.” Scot leaned up to brush another kiss over Adam’s jaw. “I don’t usually come out. The shifts are awful at the hospital. I’m glad I did tonight, though.”

Adam smiled. “I am, too.”

“So, hey.” Scot pulled out his own cell phone. “I was thinking that maybe… um, maybe we could see each other again. I can give you my number…”

“Of course,” Adam murmured. They each thumbed through the contact lists on their phone, exchanging numbers.

Scot shoved the phone back into his shirt pocket. “I hate to… well, I hate to come and run, but I worked a really long shift today and I’m exhausted. I don’t suppose you’d want to come…?”

“I’m sorry,” Adam sighed. “I really have to go, too. I have work in the morning. I shouldn’t.”

Scot nodded, stuffing down the disappointment that he’d end up in bed alone after all. “Oh, yeah. I understand. I’ll call you, okay?”

“Sure. I’ll talk to you then.” Adam gave a smile that was supposed to be encouraging, but fell flat.

Maybe the chemistry wasn’t what it was. Maybe there was no chance for them.

Scot never did end up calling.

==

Scot panted with exertion, his sweat-drenched hands slipping on Adam’s bare skin. CPR always exhausted the person performing it even under the best circumstances, but Scot had been working on Adam for nearly an hour and it felt as if he had cooked pasta for arms. Around him he could see the fatigue clear on the faces of the nurses and other doctors assisting him.

An hour was a long time to try to bring someone back from the dead.

“All right, I’m calling it.” Scot said, his voice flat. He felt tears burning in his eyes, but he blinked them away. “Time of death: 14:53.”

The silence over the room was tangible as the nurses packed everything away, and Scot moved over to turn off the alarm on the heart monitor.

Adam looked so peaceful there on the gurney, like he could have been mistaken for asleep instead of dead if not for the breathing tube poking from between his lips. It reminded Scot of college, when they’d cram themselves into the bottom bunk of their bed in the dorm room, or the double bed they shared in their apartment thereafter. Scot stared down at Adam for a few long minutes, unable to speak while he waited for his heart to come down out of his throat and his stomach to come up from his knees.

Lynette rested her hand on Scot’s arm. “He was more than just a college buddy, wasn’t he?”

“Yeah, he was.” Scot murmured, then turned to walk out of the ER bay. He had paperwork to file and calls to make. It was always so much easier when the patient survived, especially from an administrative standpoint.

Lynette had followed him, and they both sat in the nurses station to work on the required forms. She broke the silence after a few minutes. “How long had you known him?”

“Since our freshman year of college. We were roommates.”

“That was an awfully visceral reaction for a roommate.”

Scot closed his eyes and sighed. “We were… together in college. We broke up when he graduated and I went to medical school because of the distance.”

“… Oh.” Lynette turned back to her paperwork, but murmured, “I’m so sorry, Dr. Brigham.”

Scot didn’t say anything in return. He finished filling out the paperwork about Adam, then turned to glance at the monitors on the wall behind him. There was bay two, in normal sinus rhythm as he slept off his inebriation, and bay five with a slightly elevated heart rate due to kidney stone pain. And bay one, where they put Adam–

“Oh, my God!” Scot shouted and stood up so fast his chair fell back as he sprinted back to the bay. The leads were still attached to Adam’s chest, which rose and fell with labored breaths.

It was weak, and his blood pressure was dangerously low, but Adam had a heartbeat. He was alive.

“How is he…?” Lynette asked in disbelief from behind Scot. “He was dead for more than an hour!”

“I don’t know, but call Cardiology!” Scot said, moving closer to Adam’s bedside to perform a more rigorous check and connect his breathing tube to the respirator for breathing assistance. “They need to see him and make sure everything’s okay!”

Adam’s hold on life seemed to be tenuous but firm enough, and his vital signs were stable, if not where Scot wanted them to be. Adam in a coma was far preferable to Adam dead, and Scot would gladly take it.

When Adam was taken to Cardiology, Scot watched his gurney roll down the hall and out of sight. Of all the patients Scot could have dealt with dying and coming back on their own, Adam was one that Scot had never wanted to see.

He went back to the nurse’s station and flopped down in his now-righted chair and pinched the bridge of his nose against the looming headache. “I need a drink.”

“I think you need the whole bar,” Lynette replied.

==

Scot hadn’t been on the Cardiology floor of any hospital since his intern rotations, but he knew he couldn’t delay seeing Adam anymore.

“Hello, Dr. Brigham! Here to see your special patient?” One nurse asked, a teasing smile on her face. Behind her, the other nurses giggled.

“Lynette is going to catch hell for being such a damned gossip, but yes.” Scot crossed his arms over his chest. “What room is he in?”

“He’s in room 485. We just checked his vitals, so you have some time before anyone will disturb you,” the nurse said. “Go on.”

Scot walked down the hall, counting doors under his breath to distract himself from the nervousness churning in his gut. The last time he’d seen Adam, he’d died and came back under Scot’s care, and it made everything feel indescribably different now.

When he arrived at the door, he said, “Knock knock,” and rapped his knuckles against the doorframe. Adam looked up from his bed and broke into a wide grin.

“Hey, Dr. Brigham. I hear I have you to thank for the fact that I’m sitting here.” He was still hoarse from the intubation, but otherwise seemed scores better than he had the previous week.

“Don’t pull that ‘Dr. Brigham’ shit with me, Adam. You’ve had your dick in me more than enough times to just call me Scot.” Scot dragged the chair over to Adam’s bedside and sat down, then said, “How are you feeling?”

“Like shit?” Adam grinned. “In case you forgot, I was dead a week ago.”

Scot chuckled, caught off-guard by the joke. Humor always was Adam’s armor. “Fair enough. Did they figure out the issue?”

Adam nodded and pulled the top of his gown aside to show a new scar. “Apparently I’m old and need a pacemaker now.”

“You knew it was just a matter of time,” Scot murmured. “You always have.”

“Yeah, well, doesn’t mean I was looking forward to it or anything.”

Scot smiled and reached out to take Adam’s hand. “I’m glad you made it.”

Adam nodded. He stroked his fingertips over Scot’s, his eyes cast downward. His color had improved, but Adam still looked drained. His fingers quivered, and Scot gave them a tight, reassuring squeeze.

“I was so scared,” Scot whispered. “It felt like it was me dying there on that gurney.”

“I can’t even imagine.” Adam looked up, blinking more rapidly now. “Part of me wishes it had been a different doctor, but I don’t think they would have tried as hard, and…”

“I told you if you died, I would never forgive you.” Scot laughed, but it was a flat sound, missing any semblance of true humor. “And I don’t think I would ever have. And I wouldn’t have forgiven myself, either.”

“Why?”

“Because it would have been such a wasted opportunity. Such an incredible waste.” Scot shrugged.

“Because I never called?” Adam shrugged as well, and resumed running his fingers over Scot’s hand. “You never did, either.”

Scot sighed, watching the veins play under Adam’s skin. The paramedics had struggled with inserting the IV, and a large, mottled bruise covered half of Adam’s hand. “I know. God, I know. We both have been fucking around instead of just doing what we both obviously want to do.”

Adam reached out with that bruised, trembling hand, and tipped Scot’s chin up to look him in the eye. “I don’t want to ‘fuck around’ anymore. I want us to stop being fucking idiots about this. When I get out of here, I want us to go out. Even if it’s just for coffee. I miss you, Scot. Giving you up was the biggest mistake I have ever made in my entire life. It’s never been the same with anyone else as it was with you.”

A soft sob echoed through the room, and at first Scot wasn’t sure if it had come from him or Adam. “I have wanted to hear that for so long, Adam. God, I missed you, too.”

With a quiet, pained groan Adam leaned forward and Scot nudged him back against the pillows again, then stood up and bent over the bed to kiss Adam. Adam’s fingers trembled in Scot’s short-cropped hair, nudging Scot’s glasses out of place, but Scot didn’t care. When they broke apart he straightened them. “I’ll visit you every day until you’re released, and then I am taking you out that night after I get off work. I don’t care how late it is.”

“Sounds like a date,” Adam grinned. “Thanks, Doc.”

“Stop it.” Scot frowned. “I’m not your doctor.”

“Sure you are! My love doctor!”

Scot laughed despite himself, the sound mixing with a groan. He had missed this, the laughter and joking with Adam.

The fact that he would have it again made his heart swell.

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