He woke up to Anne shaking him. “Wake up, Douglas. It’s your brother again.” He was awake immediately at the mention of his brother, getting up with lightning speed.
“No, no, no, no.” He mumbled to himself while putting on some pants and a shirt. It wasn’t even midnight yet, so it might not be his brother after all. He hoped it wasn’t his brother.
“Why are you so worked up? He shows up here all the time.” Anne asked, exasperation evident in her voice. Anger sparked in Douglas.
“He’s been clean for four months, Anne. He hasn’t shown up here for longer than that. Look. I know that you don’t like the arrangement but I’d much rather he showed up here than got stabbed in the back of some alleyway.” Without sparing Anne another look he walked out the door into the living room.
The knock came again as he was walking to the door to open it, turning the light on in the living room on the way, however, what he found strange was that it wasn’t rushed, and the person only knocked 3 times, and he couldn’t head the frantic voice of his brother from behind the door. Maybe it wasn’t TJ after all.
“Who is this?” he asked, hand on the door handle.
“It’s me, Dougie,” he heard TJ’s voice. He sounded worn out, exhausted, but Ok. He hurriedly unlocked the door and opened it revealing TJ who simply stood there sporting the infamous leather jacket and jeans. His hair was a mess, looking like his hand through it multiple times at least. But his eyes weren’t red and his skin wasn’t pale or clammy like it was every other night he showed up here, coming down from a high.
“Hey, man,” he said stepping aside, letting the man walk through into the apartment. “What brings you here so early?” the time was 11:40, indeed very early for TJ who usually came stumbling into their house in wee hours of the morning.
TJ smiled at the joke but it didn’t reach his eyes, “I’m sober, Dougie, I promise. You were sleeping,” he added when he saw Doug rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and yawning slightly. The exhaustion of the previous day was catching up with him now that he could see that TJ was ok, “I’m sorry, man. Can I crash here for the night? I’ll be gone before you wake up.”
“Hey, you don’t have to be gone by morning. Stay as long as you like. Blankets are-“
“I know, thanks. Go back to sleep now. Tell Anne I’m sorry for waking her.” TJ said and moved over to the cupboard to take out his favourite of their blankets. Doug moved to go to his bedroom but something still worried him. His brother wasn’t alright if he showed up here, physically maybe but…
“Hey, man, you never told me the reason for your visit tonight. You’re always welcome but what brought this on? You haven’t been here in almost five months.” He believed his brother when he said he didn’t take anything. No matter his history, TJ was an honest person.
“It’s uh… just a danger night, Doug. I’ll be fine now that I’m here.” TJ was looking anywhere but him. His leather jacket now off and laying on the armrest of the couch.
Doug was once again on high alert, “A danger night? TJ why are you making it sound like it’s not a big deal? What brought this on?”
“It’s nothing don’t worry about it, it’s kind of pathetic actually.”
“Don’t say that. Nothing is pathetic if it’s making you want to use again.”
“I- I bumped into Sean today. He- he asked me if I wanted to get back together again.”
“What?! Oh, I’m gonna kill him-“ he then walked up to his brother and put both hands on his shoulders making him look up at him, “Oh please tell me you didn’t-“
“I said no.”
“Oh, thank god, are you alright now, though? You didn’t use, you came here. I’m so glad you did that.” TJ smiled at his words, this time it seemed a little bit more genuine. They both moved over to sit on the couch.
“Is everything alright?” they both looked up to see Anne standing in the doorway to their bedroom.
“Anne! I’m so sorry for turning up here again. It was just a danger night and I promise I looked at other places before I came here, I even wanted to book a motel but I didn’t want to be alone tonight in case-“
“Hey, hey it’s ok. Like Doug said. You’re welcome here.” Dough turned to Anne with tears of his own in his eyes, he hoped that his facial portrayed how grateful he was her at this moment. She gave them both a soft, genuine smile and walked back into their bedroom, softly shutting the door behind her. When he looked back TJ was looking down, his shaking hands twitching nervously in his lap. He also looked tense, as if trying to hold something back.
“Buddy talk to me. I promise it’s alright that you came here again but next time I don’t even want you to consider going anywhere else.” Dealing with a sober TJ was proving to be more difficult than when he was high on whatever he decided to take that night. He was shutting in on himself instead of being the talkative, open person that he is when he’s high.
“I came so close tonight, Dougie. I bought it… I held it in my hand, I-“
“But you didn’t use, and you said no to Sean. I’m proud of you, TJ,” he said, and he meant it. He believed his brother was the strongest of anyone in this family, including himself.
“You, shouldn’t be,” TJ’s voice was wavering as he spoke, like it did every time he broke down in front of Doug which happened more often than either of them wanted to admit, “You shouldn’t be proud because I became this in the first place, you shouldn’t be proud because of how close I came to using again, and because of his close I came to saying yes to Sean..” he trailed off at the end, voice just a mere whisper.
“TJ, you loved him. Of course, it was hard, but you know what’s best that’s why you said no. I’m so glad you did because that asshole would have hurt you again, and I can’t stand you hurting anymore. He doesn’t deserve you, buddy.” Doug was expecting a breakdown today, he could see it on TJ’s face as soon as he walked through the door today, his twin was suffering, and it made him angry, he wanted to kill Sean for making his brother cry yet again.
TJ’s hand flew up to cover his face as the first sob broke free, “Oh, god. Why does it have to hurt so much?” Douglas’s heart cracked at his brother’s words and he reached out and pulled TJ to his chest who went willingly. Dough could feel both of TJ’s hands gripping tightly onto his t-shirt as he buried his face in his neck. One of Doug’s hands was resting on the base of TJ’s neck, gently stroking his hair and the other wrapped around him tightly, letting him know that he was here and that he wasn’t going anywhere.
“I don’t know, buddy. I don’t know,” his own voice was thick with unshed tears. This was one of the first times TJ broke down in front of him not because of drugs but because of his own personal pain.
Doug held his brother tightly for god knows how long and didn’t leave him for the rest of the night long after the tears have stopped. All he wanted was for his brother to be alright.