Chapter 15

The flood of heart bursting HYSTERIA that suddenly took a hold of me was beyond any and all description! My whole BODY began to shake violently with the shock of it all!

FUCK!!!! I mean....**FUCK**!!!

Even though the threats of being exposed and having our illegal relationship brought to light, to the utter HATRED and loathing of everyone around us, came racing to the front of my mind...it didn't matter much to me at all. My sweetheart was in trouble! He was hurting! Oh God, he was hurting and he needed my help! That nurturing, super protective, part of me took over and his safety and well being was all that mattered to me at that particular moment. Nothing else. I needed to make sure that he was ok! Above all else...Dustin was my responsibility and I refused to let him down. Even it meant me losing my freedom for the next 15 to 20 years of my life!

Shit! It makes me sick in the middle to even think that...

I just needed my sweetie to be ok! Oh GOD! There was blood on the back of his head! I could feel the warm wetness of it as I carefully lifted his head up from the bathroom floor. AHHHH! FUCK! Of all the times that I held Dustin in my arms, I don't think he's ever felt so fragile and frail as he did at that moment.

I totally freaked out, seeing him hurt like that! I was shaking so badly that I couldn't even get my hands to operate in a way that could pick Dustin's naked body up off of the bathroom floor. I could see my stupid STUPID bathroom rug scrunched up against the wall on the side of the room and cursed myself a billion times for not thinking to warn him about it again before he went in there to take a shower. My heart was pounding in my chest, 100,000 beats per second! I'm surprised that I was able to hold back the adrenaline forced tears welling up in my eyes at the time, but I wasn't sure how long my resilience was going to last.

I laid him on my bed, still wet and naked, and I grabbed a large towel gently wipe his head, neck, and chest down to dry him. "Dustin? Dustin, baby...speak to me, ok?"

"I'm...alright..." He groaned. He was trying to be strong but his words were slurred, and as I held my hand against the bump on his head, I felt tiny streams of blood running down over the back of my knuckles. My brain began to spin like crazy, trying to remember what kind of first aid supplies I had in my bathroom outside of a thermometer and a few dinky band-aids. I think I had some gauze in there. OH! And Peroxide! That's good for disinfecting stuff and...and...shit!

I have absolutely NO idea what I'm doing here, do I?

I felt as though I had swallowed a cinder block, the misery of it sitting in the pit of my stomach as I felt more and more guilty for not immediately taking Dustin to an actual hospital so I could get him some professional help.

The tabloid bullshit ran through my mind as I weighed my options. Of COURSE it did! I loved Dustin with all my heart, but this conflicting 'self preservation' instinct kicked in as well. The kind of thoughts that truly ignorant minds would gladly point out and say, "SEE? He doesn't love that boy! He was just abusing him that whole time and doesn't care about his safety or his well being." They'd say I raped him. hat I hurt him on purpose. That I spent months 'grooming' him to be a victim of my uncontrollable desires. It wasn't like that at all, but that's not what the papers will say. That's not the story they'll tell on the news as the police take me away in handcuffs.

It might have only been a few seconds worth of hesitation, but figuring out what to do next shouldn't have required any hesitation at all. None!

I tried to sit Dustin straight up and his eyes rolled back, causing him to slump over to the side again. "Dustin! Honey, I need you to stay awake right now, ok?" I don't know why I said that, but in all the movies I've seen with a head injury, they tell the patient to stay awake. I figure they must have gotten that from somewhere official. Right? Dustin wobbled a bit, but managed to weakly maintain a seated position for a brief moment while I cautiously pulled my hands away from his shoulders. I hurried to get one of my t-shirts out of the closet and got back to the bed just in time to see Dustin toppling over to the side again. "No, no, no, no...I need to sit up for a bit, ok? We're gonna get you some help."

Dustin looked sooooo dizzy. "I slipped getting out of the tub..." He mumbled, and reached up to hold his head.

I quickly pulled his hand away from the rather sizeable lump on his head, replacing it with my shirt. "Unh unh, don't touch it! Here. Hold this right here."

"It hurts..." He whined.

"I know, baby. Just...I need you to hold this where it hurts, and I'm going to grab your clothes, ok?"


"We've got to get you dressed. I'm taking you to the hospital."

Suddenly, Dustin raised his head. "Eric...noooo, don't. I told you, I'm ok. I was just being stupid and I fell..."

"You've got a nasty bump on your head, and we're getting it checked out. End of story."

"Seriously, dude! I'm ok. I just...I just need a few seconds..." Dustin, stubborn as ever, tried to stand up on his own, but his legs were too weak to even give him enough of a start to get off of the bed. "Do you have, like...some ice or something? Don't worry, I'll get it..."

"No! Dustin, ugh! Dammit...!" I sat him down and tried not to get frustrated. Instead, I told him, "Listen. Here's what I need you to do, ok? I need you to slowly count from one to twenty five, and keep this shirt pressed against your head. Can you do that for me?"

"You want me to count from...from one to...?"

"Count from one to twenty five. Yes! And breath. In and out. Keep your eyes open, and count out loud so I can hear you. Alright? It'll help the swelling go down so you won't have a headache, ok?" Alright, now I was just outright LYING to the poor kid! I totally made that up on the spot, but I needed Dustin to keep his brain busy long enough for me to run around the room collecting his clothes and getting him dressed while he was too preoccupied to give me any protest.

Dustin groggily counted for me, breathing slowly just like I told him to, and I started by un-bunching his socks and putting them over his bare feet. The fragrance of my scented bath gel flooded the bedroom, the sound of his voice reaching a one that I had only heard when he was half asleep during the many movie nights we spent on my living room couch.


His skin was still damp with water, it was going to wet up his clothes something awful, but it's not really something that I was worried about.


The sound of Dustin's slow counting seemed to be doing the trick. He was concentrating more on the numbers than he was me frantically trying to get him dressed before he ran out of numbers. I had to gently put my hand on his chest and push him backward for a moment. Slowly, he complied, still counting, and he lifted his slender hips up for me so I could slide his pants under him. The back part first, then the front. I made sure he was properly 'tucked in' to his undies as I buttoned his pants and zipped them up. I'm glad that he left the belt laced through the loops, because that might have been a pain getting him all set up again. I highly doubt his slim hips could hold his pants up completely without it.

I took him by his free hand and raised him back up to a sitting position. Time's almost up.


I knew that putting his shirt on was going to need both of his hands in the air, which meant the end to my little ruse and him letting go of the shirt pressed against his head. So I slipped his shoes on first. It don't think he had untied these dingy shoelaces in years, hehehe! Typical 'slip off' teenage boy behavior. "How are you feeling, bud?"

"...Twenty three...twenty four...twenty five..." He moaned. "Can I stop now? I still have a headache."

I rose up to stand over him, and cringed as I reached for the t-shirt held against his head, and pulling his hand down so I could take a look at the damage I was dealing with.

Ok...not really sure what I'm looking at, but there was definitely a huge knot on him where he hit his head, and even though a lot of the blood stopped flowing freely...it didn't look like the big show was quite over with. It was less severe than I thought it was, but everything looks like a killing blow when you're lost in a panic. "It's not as bad as I thought it was. Still looks bad, though."

"See Told ya, I was ok."

I put my bloodstained t-shirt down on the mattress and grabbed his shirt off of the bedroom floor. Every minute counted. Every last tick of the clock. "Alright, soldier...hands up." I said.

"I'm not a baby..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, heard it all before." I grumbled. "Now do me a favor...put your fucking hands up!" I grinned when I said it, and Dustin raised his eyebrows with an adorable grin of his own.

"I like he whole angry dad vibe on you." He said. "It's sexy!"

I pulled the shirt down over his face before he could finish that sentence and was careful not to let the shirt collar hit the lump on his head. He still seemed really woozy, but I wanted to make sure that he was all 'put together' before I tried to move him down to the car. I tried to use the towel to dry his shiny blond hair as much as I could. hen I put my own shoes on and carefully tried to help Dustin to his feet.

"Eric...come on. I'm ok..." He said, a drowsy haze in his voice. "I just need to get some sleep or something..."

"No! No sleep! Come on! We're going. Let me grab my keys, let's get you checked out..." Before I could finish my thought, Dustin fell back on the bed and writhed a little bit in pain from the impact of his head hitting the mattress. "CAREFUL! Are you ok?"

"Owwww..." He whimpered, holding his head. "I think so. Whoah...what is this? I've got a big 'bump' on my head."

"Can you walk?" I waited for Dustin to answer me, but he could barely keep his eyes from rolling back in his head. "Dustin...?"

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he started to cry. "I'm sorry, Eric. I didn't mean to fall. I know you told me about the carpet, I just...I don't know, I just..."

Ok, this is no good. I just gathered Dustin's body in my arms and carried him from my bed to the front door. I was trying to be so careful. Didn't want to bump his head again. Didn't want to bump his feet either. Despite never having done this before, I was surprised at how easy it was for me to juggle having a wounded teenage boy in my arms, my car keys, opening and locking the door to my apartment, carrying him down the hall to the elevator, and holding him there until the doors opened. Maybe there's a parent/child survival code that kicks in when it comes to situations like this. Like those mothers who lift cars off of their children in emergency.

I hope it stays with me. Because I'm totally WINGING this right now.

When the elevator doors opened up, I was almost nauseous with the idea that it might be full of people who might see us and immediately start asking questions that I wouldn't be able to answer. It was luck alone that found it empty at this time of day. But I still have to get him through the apartment lobby and out to my car. Maybe if I just hurry through the building, nobody will have a chance to let it register in their minds that something is severely wrong here.

Ugh! An elevator ride to the ground floor never felt so ETERNAL!

"You ok, Dustin?" I asked. "Dustin???"

"Huh? What?"

"I need you to keep your eyes open, ok? For me? Please?"

"They're open. I swear." He said, still looking a little dizzy to me as he used his hand to brush the long side of his blond hair out of his eyes...his head nearly swinging o the side, even with that gentle gesture.

I was already standing with my nose practically pressed against the elevator doors once they finally opened and dashed out into the lobby. By the time I got to the apartment mailboxes, I could feel Dustin's body weight weakening my arms. He had never been this heavy before. Then again, he had never been this close to lifeless before either. I wanted to hurry, but didn't want to go toofast for fear that I'd trip over my own feet and send us both toppling over to the cement to bring about even more injuries than I was already dealing with.

I turned and twisted to open he two front doors to the building, and then made my way out into the parking lot. Crossing the street, I saw a car slowing down for one of the many speedbumps put in place to keep vehicles from tearing through the place like a bunch of maniacs. The elderly couple in the front seat of the car gave me a weird look and I swear that my heart actually stopped beating for a full ten seconds when they saw me racing around in front of them. But...no time for that. My shoulders were getting numb. My elbows were sore. And even though Dustin loosely wrapped his arms around my neck, he still felt like a giant sack of bricks in my panicked embrace.

The closer I got to my car, the faster my footsteps charged towards my target. My breath was giving out, sweat trickling down my forehead and almost into my eyes. I had to wipe my face off on Dustin's shoulder to keep it from blinding me. No time to deal with smears of perspiration stinging my eyes! I need to DRIVE, dammit!

I finally reached the car and unlocked the doors with my keychain. Panting, I said, "Dustin? I'm gonna put you down on your feet for a few seconds while I open the door, ok? Lean up against the car."

"M'kay..." He said sweetly, still holding his head and wincing from the pain.

"Don't touch it! K? You'll aggravate it. Just hold on..." I said.

"M'kay..." He said again. I leaned him back for a moment, and was VERY cautious about letting him go before making absolutely SURE that he was going to be able to stay steady long enough for me to put him into the passenger seat. I swung the door open and quickly wiped some of the junk in my seat down to the floor mat, all while keeping my eye on Dustin and holding one hand out just in case he began to tilt.

"Alright. Here we go. Nice and easy. Watch your head, hon..." I said softly as I gently put him in the car. Then I pushed his legs in and made sure to fold his hands in his lap. "You good? Alright, watch yourself now." I shut the door, and then ran around to the driver's seat, *SO* happy to shake some of the fatigue out of my arms and catch my breath again.

I strapped myself in and put the key in the ignition. I was breathing so hard that my lungs hurt, but I didn't stop. I couldn't. I started up and just figured that I could work out the rest of my brilliant plan on the way to the hospital. Shit...when I got to the main street, I had to think about which way to turn to even GET to the hospital! And where is the emergency room? Do I just circle around until I find it? I'm sure it's got to have a pretty clearly labeled entrance, right? Is it on the North side or the South side of the hospital? Grrrr! Seriously? Does this lady want to drive 7 miles per hour today? I swerved around her and tried to beat the light, but it caught me anyway. Fuck!

Ok, so when I get there...can I just like...I mean, what then? Can I just carry Dustin in through the front door and scream, 'somebody help', or what? How do I even...? I've seen them bring wheelchairs out for pregnant ladies before. Should I run in and ask for one? No wait, I don't want to leave Dustin in the car by himself, he'll go to sleep. I'm convinced that going to sleep would be bad. Oh shit! I forgot about Dustin! "You awake, hon?" I asked.

"Uh huh..." He said faintly, still holding the t-shirt on his lump. I'm pretty sure that a lot of the bleeding will have stopped by now, but I didn't want him to pull it away and sit there with a bloody t-shirt in his lap the rest of the way there. This has already got to be freaky enough for him as it is. "Eric...?"

"Yeah? What is it? What's wrong?"

"Did you carry me all the way out of your apartment to my car? Hehehe, that's so sexy!" His voice was weak, but the playful grin on his lips was strong.


"It IS! You're like Superman. I just thought about that. You carried me a long long way." His smile faded for a moment, and I heard him suck his teeth as the car hit a small bump in the road and the pain in his head was triggered again. "Ahh...shit..." He whispered.

"We're on our way, baby, k? We'll be there soon."

Suddenly, with a touch of sadness, Dustin said, "I'm sorry I wasn't careful, Eric. I'm so sorry that I screwed up. Ok?"

Why is he apologizing??? And why are people driving so SLOW today? I honked my horn loudly at the guy in front of me and sped up to go around him too. I needed to goo fast, but the LAST thing that I needed at that moment was a speeding ticket! Not just because I can't afford it and can't waste the time getting pulled over...but if an officer of the law comes walking up to my driver's side window while I'm transporting the wounded, half conscious, teenage boy that I've been sleeping with to the emergency room, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to PISS myself!

"So sorry, ok?" He said again, and leaned his head back...his shoulders relaxing. It looked like he was getting ready to lose consciousness on me again.

"Dustin? Ummm, why don't you find us something good on the radio? Huh? Find us some Superman music to get you to the doctor faster." I said, and Dustin fought to stay awake for a bit longer, leaning forward a bit to mess with the radio with his free hand. Thank goodness that he loves to take control over the tunes. It'll keep him awake and I can concentrate on my driving for a little bit longer.

Just a few more lights! Just a few more! Come on! Come on, come on, come on!


I turned the corner and found myself approaching the hospital. I didn't have any more of an idea than I had before, but at least I could have somebody 'professional' look at Dustin and get a clue as to how to help him. The emergency room was pretty much the first thing that I came across, thank God! The visitor parking lot was too far away for me to try to carry Dustin inside, so I just turned into the emergency room area right by the door where the ambulances pull up. I hope my car doesn't get towed. Ah, screw it. I'll worry about that later.

I pulled in and yanked the keys out of the ignition, running around to the other side to unbuckle Dustin and get him out. He protested. "Dude, I'm ok. I can walk. Honest."

"Dustin...please..." I was nearly on the verge of tears. Every second that we spend debating this is a second that his injury could be getting worse. But, determined as ever, Dustin stepped out and slowly rose to a standing position while I held onto his hands. Less arguing, more moving. I might as well just let him try. Anything to get him in the building.

I shut the car door and helped him walk by ducking down and putting his arm over my shoulder. I didn't push him to move too fast, but I didn't want to shuffle around either. One foot after another. One foot after another. There we go. Almost there.

"Shit...sorry..." Dustin said as he accidently dropped my t-shirt in the driveway.

He was about to turn and pick it up, and I told him, "Leave it."

"Huh? Dude, your shirt..."

"Leave it! Really, Dustin? Are you kidding me? Come on." I only moved him faster. I couldn't really tell if Dustin was too dizzy to really understand what had happened to him, or if it was this adrenaline filled hysteria that was making me think that it was worse than it really was. But I'd be much more comfortable letting the doctor decide. Fuck that t-shirt.

We walked into the automatic doors and I half carried Dustin over to the first desk that I saw with a nurse behind it. "Excuse me! I've...umm...I've got an emergency here. I don't know what to do. Where do I go?"

She immediately came from behind the counter and another guy brought over a wheelchair once he saw the way I was holding Dustin up. I knew hey had wheelchairs for this sort of thing.

The lady was quick, but she was calm. 'Efficient', I guess would be the proper term. "Ok, what happened here?" She asked.

"He slipped. And he hit his head. There's a really big bump on his head back here, see? He was bleeding at first, but now it looks like...oh God..." My stomach was quaking like crazy, and my every breath started to stagger itself as the overwhelming joy of seeing Dustin get help mixed with the frightening panic that I had been suppressing all the way over here. My eyes misted up and she looked at me in an attempt to get me to calm down.

"Sir, I just need you to breathe, ok? Are you alright? Do you have any injuries yourself?"


"Just him. Ok. Let me take a look here." She pulled a small flash light out of her pocket and looked into Dustin's eyes with it. Then she moved around to carefully take a look at the bump on his head. "Oh yeah, it looks like you took quite a spill there, kiddo." She gave him a little check over to see if there might be anything that she was missing, and then she asked, "Does he have any pre-existing conditions or known allergies?"

My heart sank as I was forced to tell her, "I...I don't know. I'm not sure." Should I know that? I should probably know that.

"Ok." She said. Then she bent down a bit to talk to him. "What's your name, sweetie?"

Meekly, he answered, "Dustin."

"Dustin? Ok, Dustin, this is Mike. He's going to take you in back and make you comfortable so we can get you all sorted out. Alright?"

"Can Eric come with me?" He asked.

"I'll be sure to send your friend back to see you once we're all situated. Ok?"

"M'kay..." And with that, Dustin was being wheeled away from me. Looking back over his shoulder...almost as if to see if *I* was ok? I swear, that boy is all heart. It baffles me sometimes.

I let out a huge sigh of relief, my body suddenly realizing the stress I had been putting it through over the last thirty minutes or so. It hit me all at once and I had to put my hands on my knees to keep from falling over myself. My throat was so dry. I'm going to find the nearest cold drinking fountain and guzzle down a half gallon with the first few swallows. Jesus!

"Thank you! Thank you SO so much!" I told the nurse, shaking her hand like crazy, and eventually just stepping in to give her a full blown hug around the shoulders. "I was so scared. God. Is there...? I mean, do you need anything from me, or...?"

"I'll need you to fill out some paperwork at the counter. Also I'll need your information, driver's license, proof of insurance..."

"Wait...I'm sorry, what?" I said, stress levels already rising again.

"We'll need your information, sir." She said. When she looked me in the eye, I probably had the guiltiest look EVER on my face! "May I ask your relation to the patient, sir?"

"My relation?" I began to tremble. My breath getting short. "I'm his...we're...I'm his friend. We work together. Well, sorta work together. He works across the hall from where I...well, you know where the mall is...?"

I was rambling. Why was I rambling???

"And you said that he slipped and hit his head? Where did this happen, exactly?"


"I'm sorry, but do you mind if I get a drink of water? I'm seriously dehydrated right now." I said.

"Sure. There's a fountain right around the corner. Just be sure to come back to the front desk and fill me in on what happened. Ok?"

I nodded, but I was about to shake myself to pieces as I turned around and tried to picture how much time I could buy myself with a simple trip to the water fountain.

Questions. Loads and loads of question. How'd it happen? Where'd it happen? Who am I? What was he doing there? How did he get hurt? How do we contact his parents? It's all falling apart! All of it!

I wonder how much time could I kill if I just fainted right here on the hospital floor?