Curt nearly stumbled into the infirmary, emotions still swimming throughout his body. Whatever tears he’d had were gone, but his heart felt somewhere between bursting with happiness, and ripping itself apart with all the negative emotions that crawled out from under rocks whenever there was any chance of brightness in his life.
Stef sat at the forefront of his mind.
She’d handed him a picture, and he’d been ready to hand her his heart.
The world spun at the edges as Parker-2 approached him. The doctor reached out, and steadied him. ‘You look shitfaced, O’Connor,’ Parker-2 said, his voice dry. ‘Or did someone punch you in the head?’
Curt blinked a few times, and tried to steady himself. ‘Doc.’ He swallowed, his mouth dry. ‘Doc, I know this isn’t one of our scheduled sessions. But-’ He looked at the gleamingly clean floor of the infirmary. ‘I could really use someone to talk to right now.’
Parker-1 approached them. ‘Go on, love,’ he said to Parker-2. ‘I’ll call you back if we get a patient with particularly interesting entrails.’
Parker-2 kissed his twin on the cheek, then looked back to Curt. ‘Do you have a preference for where we talk?’
Curt shook his head unsteadily, feeling a weird lag in the movement as the doctor initiated a shift. When the world was clear again, the Parkers’ cozy little home came into view. Parker-2 moved to sit on the far side of the kitchen counter, leaving the high stool on the closer side free for Curt to sit.
Two bottles appeared in front of him a he settled on the stool – one beer, one water. He looked between them for a moment, then took a long swig of water – he was going to need something to steady him, but for now, he just needed something as…simple as water.
‘This is out of the ordinary for you, Curt, so you have me worried. What’s on your mind?’
Curt looked down at the bottle of water, unable to meet Parker-2’s eyes for the moment. The Doc was actually worried about him – Parker-2 only used gentle language when he sensed that he wasn’t in the mood for jokes.
‘Did you see someone you used to work with? Or someone-’
Curt vaguely shook his head, and Parker-2 stopped his line of inquiry. He tilted the bottle from side to side, looking at the angles of the water inside. ‘I nearly told Stef I loved her.’
No jokes. No admonishments. Not even a derisive laugh.
He crinkled the plastic in his hand. ‘She- I was- She was right there and when I needed her and- And I nearly told her.’ He reached for the beer. ‘Jesus, Doc.’
Parker-2 was quiet for a moment. ‘What do you want me to say, Recruit?’
The tears were a choking lump in his throat. ‘Tell me that I’m stupid. Tell me that- Tell me how not to- I don’t want to do that to her.’ He rested the cold beer against his forehead. ‘I can’t do that to her.’
‘Mate,’ Parker-2 said, drawing the word out. ‘Well. How do you feel about her?’
There was a blur of movement, and he refocused to see Parker-1. ‘Curt.’
Parker-2 gave a slight smile. ‘I might be the brains,’ he said, ‘but he is the heart.’
Parker-1 rolled his eyes ever so slightly. ‘Young man. She’s in your bed every night. In no time at all, you’ve become thick as thieves, you’re dryads growing in concert. It’s almost strange to see one of you without the other.’ Parker-1 laid his hands on the counter. ‘I think it’s safe to say, that undoubtedly, she loves you in some capacity.’
‘So get your head out of your arse,’ said Parker-2.