Chapter 1: Vegemite Bandaid (Splinters + Whimpers - Charlie)
Charlie is injured assisting the doc in a crime scene recreation.
“Only you, Charlie,” Danny said, sounding pretty cheerful and in a way that just makes Charlie more annoyed than he was before. If he could have, he might have balled up a hand and threatened him with it. Unfortunately, his punching hand was captured between Lucien’s knees as the good doctor…Well supposedly he was fixing Charlie’s hand but it felt much more like he was having a good old poke around with the sharpest pair of tweezers Charlie has ever encountered.
“Shut up,” He settled for, and fought off the urge to rip his mangled hand away from Lucien as he finally got hold of an especially large sliver of wood. “Are you right there?!” He exclaimed. It felt like the man was poking his already frazzled nerves directly with those long, menacing tweezers. Large of course being relative. Most of the biggest pieces had been dug out already, leaving him feeling concerned and in quite a lot of pain. You shouldn’t need a local to deal with a splinter. Or. Many splinters. But he was not happy about this.
“Now Charlie, I know you’re feeling a little frustrated right now but that’s no reason to have a go at everyone around,” Blake replied, sitting up and cracking his shoulders. Charlie’s hand not being worked on is beginning to hurt and swell up. Blake had assured him that it wasn’t broken but that wasn’t exactly a comfort to him. The fact that there was another hand to do after this one was weighing heavily on his chest like a weight. The fact that he couldn’t move it without agitating the spikes of wood even more so.
“A little frustrated. I almost died! And it’s your fault, so you know. A little sympathy wouldn’t go astray.” Blake just adjusted Danny’s magnifying glass clutching hand so he could get a better look at his palm. He didn’t offer Charlie the requested sympathy, just a slightly exasperated eye roll as he dug the tweezers back into the slightly translucent top layer of his skin.
“How is the Doc’s fault that you can’t hold onto a ladder when asked?” Danny asked, putting both his feet up on the bottom bar of the stool he was seated on. He pulled his hand that the Doc wasn’t using into a fist, rested his elbow on his knee, and then rested his chin on his fist. The veins along the back of his arm are pushed by the muscle as it works to keep him upright.
“Oh, so it should be your fault for hitting the ladder with the car?” Charlie asked in reply, tearing his eyes away from his hand to make eye contact with Danny who finally gave a slightly sheepish smile. It’s quickly replaced by the blustering masculine persona he inhabits most of the time.
“You could have just jumped off like a normal person, not slide down spy style.” He countered finally as if Charlie had some say in how he escaped the ladder with his life and was not driven by pure instinct. Not his fault if his instinct was to be as slick as humanly possible.
“Danny, stop teasing him. You ruined my recreation of the crime and I have half a mind to tell Lawson you need additional driving lessons. Or perhaps that Rose will have to stop hanging around lest you become distracted on the job.”
“That's -” Danny spluttered, almost dropping the magnifying glass in his indignation. Smartly, he shut his mouth and glowered at the Doc like a child. Charlie might have had a great comeback but it was snuffed out by an extremely dignified and manly whimper as Lucien finally slid the large sliver of wood out. A small drop of blood welled up on his palm, formed a little red pearl, and then trickled down the side of his hand. Lucien dabbed at it with the corner of his handkerchief and managed to catch it on two additional splinters making Charlie gasp in shock and yank his hand back on instinct. Lucien almost fell off his seat with the speed Charlie moved. He was quite sure he must make for a pitiful sight. A grown man cradling his bloodied, splintered hand with an even worse hand as two of his closest friends watched in surprise.
“Sorry.” He said and hesitantly offered Lucien his hand again. Lucien cupped the back of it with his own and examined Charlie with that critical doctor’s eye.
“Do you need to take a break?” He asked, “There’s still a lot to do.”
“N-No. I’m okay. You just startled me.” He said, and Lucien once again pulled Charlie’s hand between his knees, and Danny once again lifted the magnifying glass. For his part, this time Charlie made an effort to look away from the hand in question and out the window where the ladder and bucket of water he’d been carrying are still lying on the driveway. The splintery, old ladder lay alone, the bucket of water had spilled and was drying on the red gravel.
He hissed in pain as another splinter came free of his skin. It was uncomfortable, but the shock of it made him twitch more than anything else. Outside, the car Danny had been driving when he bumped the ladder is still sitting disconcertingly close to the house. You don’t see cars that close to the house unless it was raining and they were trying not to get wet. He glanced back at Lucien, who was still picking splinters from his hand. When he was a kid, if you got a splinter, Mum would put a spot of Vegemite on it, cover it with a band-aid and he’d go back to playing. Admittedly, he never had this many splinters when he was a kid. Did that even work, anyway? Vegemite bandaids? He'd prefer that over this process even if it was all for show to make his ten year old self stop crying after climbing the fence in the backyard to speak to the neighbor boy. What was his name anyway? Charlie didn't know, but he could remember that his mother had a large pot of daises that she tended too daily and it was while she was doing such she caught him half over the fence and his friend waiting at the bottom to catch him. Actually, that was nice. Having someone like Lucien to catch him when he fell. It was even nice to have Danny here even though he was annoying.
As each splinter escaped his red, tormented hand some of the pressure and pain released but even so when Lucien released his hand he drew it close to his body before stuffing it under his shirt. He didn’t feel any pain from the splinters brushing across his skin which he took as a good thing. Jean stepped into the room, carrying a large tray with three glasses of lemonade on it.
“I’m sorry Charlie.” She said, averting her eyes from his remaining hand, “I can’t deal with splinters or teeth.”
“It’s okay, Mrs. Blake.” He assured her, looking longingly at the lemonade but not quite brave enough to risk holding anything yet. Coming to his rescue, Danny grabbed the glass with a straw and offered it to him. He caught the straw in his lips before he had time to feel embarrassed and took two long slurps before pulling away to fold his lips in on each other with the bitter taste. Danny chuckled and sipped his drink while the Blakes had a telepathic conversation, with only their eyes for reference it seemed. Well, that is if the very intense look the two were sharing meant; it could mean anything. They could just be caught up on something like the sunlight going through the doc’s beard, or the new style Jean has been trying with her hair. He wouldn’t put it past either of them honestly.
“Alright, Charlie,” Lucien said, after a sip from his glass. “Give me your other hand.”
All he could do was hand it over with a groan.
Chapter 2: Un-Gone (Fever+fatigue)
Charlie, confused and unwell looking for the Doc.
Charlie’s head hurt. Well, his everything hurt, but his head especially, like it was trying to compress his brain. Each step he took down the hallway made his mind feel like it was going to start leaking out of his ears but it didn’t matter. He just had to get to the door, one goal at a time, Dad used to say. Goal one was finish high school. Goal two was get into the police academy. Goal three was get assigned to Dad’s station...Why had he never completed goal three, he wondered, each step down the hallway feeling like his feet were bound in cement shoes. He’d never been assigned to Dad’s station, he’d been assigned to Ballarat, to Matthew Lawson’s station. Not that there was an issue there, he loved working at Lawson’s station. He loved working with his friends, he loved the community but - Oh. He came to a stop in the middle of the hallway, panting heavily as he did so. He’d only walked down the stairs and do the door but he felt like he’d run a marathon.
He leaned to the left, his head coming to rest against the wallpaper and just below a picture of a bird that adorned the wall. Under his feet, he could feel the rug shifting ever so slightly. He was soaked in sweat, he realized, belatedly. It clung to his face and hair. Disgusting. He would have to change his clothes before he found Lucien...No good to turn up looking like a drowned rat he supposed. But it was no good waiting around here, he had to keep moving so he pushed himself up. Dad was dead, but Lucien didn’t have to be, he thought to himself, pushing onward, past the surgery to the front door where he tried the handle. Locked. Of course, it was, he thought, but it could be unlocked from the inside he realized, seeing the key on the table right over there.
He pushed off the door, woozy and feeling like he may be sick, and managed to make his way to the table. There, attached to Mrs. Blake’s lanyard was the key to the front door. Perfect, he just had to get it from the table to the door which was easier said than done. His wet, unco-ordinated hands struggled to grasp the key, and breathing was remarkably difficult as the world around him started to become drenched in a thick, smoky haze. He just had to get out the door, one goal at a time. Once he was out the door he could worry about getting to Sydney but for now, he just had to get out, maybe breathe the clean outside air rather than the smell of illness that permeated his bedroom upstairs. Jesus, when he got back with the Doc he’d have to get back up the stairs. He didn’t think he was strong enough but maybe if Danny helped? Ugh.
His skin was hot and cold at the same time as he finally managed to wrap his clammy palm around the key. Now to get to the door. He managed to make the two steps without falling, and then he had to get the key into the lock. He didn’t realize this first goal had so many steps to it, damn. Maybe when he got outside he’ll sit for a minute first. The first attempt at getting the key in the door fails. Damn, he thinks, as it clatters to the ground and he has to crouch and get it. His knees hurt at the movement, demanding that he get back up, or sit down all the way. The ache is deep in his bones, but he persists. If nothing else, he’s always been persistent. People have always told him that, he’s persistent. Persistently wrong, perhaps but he keeps trying just the same.
He wrapped his shaking hand around the key and pulled it up then used the door to haul himself back to his feet. Again, he tried. The key is slippery, and he blinks preparation out of his eyes as he lines it up as best he can with wet, shaking fingers.
Another miss. This time, he keeps his grip on the key as it bounces harmlessly off the side of the lock. Damn. Again, miss. Third time’s the charm, he forces the key into the lock and turns it. The mechanism clicks and Charlie is free. He pushes the door open and is hit in the face with the blissfully cool air of an August evening. Closing the door behind him, he ventured forward down the front steps. The air is pleasant on his overheated skin, the cool breeze a pleasant relief from the encompassing heat of the house. He makes it as far as Matthew’s new Buick, before collapsing down onto the ground. He just needs to sit for a minute, he thinks, tilting his head back against the grill. Overhead the stars are very shiny and his eyes are very heavy. A fifteen-minute nap won’t hurt the Doc, he thinks, allowing his eyes to fall shut.
Just fifteen minutes….
“Oh Charlie, thank God! Lucien! He’s out here!”
Charlie startled awake at the sound of someone exclaiming his name. He sat up against the car, blinking at the early morning sky, pink and beautiful as the sun began to climb the horizon. Damn, he must have slept for longer than fifteen minutes, he thought, as he started to struggle to his feet. Someone’s arms grabbed him from behind pushing him back to the dirt of the driveway.
“Wha -” He asked, gracefully.
“Just sit down for a minute.” The woman, Jean insisted, “Just wait for Lucien.”
“The Doc?” He asked, confused.
“Yes, the doc.” She assured him and pressed her cool hand against his forehead. It felt nice, it all felt nice, especially the gentle breeze coming over the horizon. She was wearing her pink dressing gown pulled tight around her, barefoot on the gravel. Her feet must hurt, he thought, before looking at his own. He noted that the fronts of them were scrapped up from where he must have dragged them when he was walking. Speaking of, if Jean would just let him get up then he could go find….What had he been looking for? It’s hard to remember that far back, his head is full of cotton balls.
“Charlie!” Lucien entered his field of vision, crouching down and touching his forehead like Jean had. “Jesus, when we saw you weren’t in your bedroom we were so worried.” He sounds like he’s scolding but his arms are very comforting as he helps Charlie to his feet, one arm draping one of his across his shoulders, and Lucien’s arm coming around his waist to hold him close as they limp back to the house. Charlie thinks he could walk on his own, and he almost voices that fact, but nausea sets in as they go up the stairs makes him think otherwise. Anyway, having some help up the stairs is nice. He mustn't be as much help as he thought he was being because Lucien grunts as he finally gets Charlie to his bedroom. How did they get here? They must have flown, Charlie thinks.
“Into bed.” Lucien orders, peeling back the blue sheets of his bed. Charlie looks at the heavy quilt tepidly but the doc’s annoyed hand gesture makes him think he better obey. He does so, turning his head just in time to catch a white face staring back at him from behind the door. Her red hair is styled in fashionable flips, and she eyes him with a serious expression.
“Is he okay?” She asks, softly.
“Charlie’s okay,” Lucien confirms, tucking Charlie in so firmly he couldn’t escape even if he wanted too. “I think he just thought he would take a little walk.”
“I wasn’t going for a walk.” He says as Mattie vanishes from sight, and he can almost hear her talking to someone outside.
“You weren’t going for a walk?” Lucien asks and then layers Charlie’s forehead with a damp cloth. It feels good, almost as good as sitting outside had felt. His back arched up into it against his will and he found himself a little more willing to settle down. He looks up to see Lucien dragging the chair from behind Charlie’s table over to beside the bed and lowering himself into it. “Then, aside from giving myself and Mrs. Blake a heart attack, what were you doing outside in August?”
“Looking?” He prods, and Charlie supposed he brought this upon himself but he could only settle a little deeper into the bed, arms pressed by his sides. He watched Lucien pull one leg up so he was sitting with his legs almost crossed. He’s tired again, from walking up the stairs. His bones hurt, he thinks, restlessly, and tosses slightly trying to get comfortable. Lucien leans over, disconcertingly close, and puts one elbow on the bed, his chin resting on it while the other hand soothes Charlie’s hair. “Settle down.” He orders, gently. “What were you looking for outside, Charlie?”
“I was going to Sydney. I was looking for you.” Something crosses Lucien’s face, something melancholic.
“Well, you don’t have to do that anymore.” He says, “I’m here now, and I’m staying right here.”
“I thought you were gone.”
“I’m not gone,” Lucien says, softly. “Settle.” He adds, when Charlie shifts again, this time trying to find a better place for his feet. He follows the order, stilling and accepting that he was stuck in this position for now at least.
“I’m tired.” He says, people playing with his hair always makes him tired.
“Then go to sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up.”
Charlie obeys, not sure if he believes it.
Chapter 3: What are Friends For (Prompt: Snake)
Death of a Travelling Salesman but like. Charlie is there.
Overall, Lucien is not that surprised when he emerges from Danny’s hospital room a couple of hours later to find Charlie Davis sitting in one of the uncomfortable chairs in the hallway. He sits straight-backed, eyes focused on the wall opposite him as if it were explaining something particularly challenging and seemingly unaware of his surroundings. Danny was finally resting peacefully after the scene he caused and Lucien couldn’t help but wish Matthew’s new senior constable was at his boarding house, away from Danny, away from him and especially away from Jean. Mostly for his safety.
“Didn’t Matthew tell you to go home?” He asks seemingly startling Charlie, who jolts in his seat like he’s been hit with a bolt of lightning. He squeezes his knees together around his hat so he can scratch the flat of his right index finger against the opposing brow.
“I think he might have said that amongst all the other things he was yelling.” The concession is rueful, but not without humour. Perhaps Danny’s choice in friends wasn’t as strange as Lucien thought that it was. He glanced around the empty hallway pointedly and then back to Charlie who gave an exaggerated shrug.
“So why are you still here?”
“I was hoping I’d have the chance to see Danny again.” He admitted, slowly. Lucien pulled back his sleeve to check his watch. He notes that Charlie also has a watch, strapped so tightly to his left wrist he’s half surprised the circulation isn’t cut off. Every so often, he flicks the tongue of the band with one finger unconsciously.
“Well, it’s eight pm now, so I doubt the nurses will let you hang around for much longer, especially not after that little outburst before.” He understates. Charlie can’t maintain eye contact and turns to face some small imperfection on the linoleum floor under their feet.
“I was going to say sorry. But I got held up. With Lawson. And Mrs Beazley. And Nurse O’Brien. And some different Nurses I’ve never seen before. All of them want to lecture me as if I don’t know I’m an idiot. Suppose you’ve got one for me too?” Lucien walked past Charlie and lowered himself with a grunt into the seat next to him. His old bones weren’t what they used to be, and certainly going to war had sped the process up. Charlie was looking at him again, and his eyes strike Lucien as very, very blue. His eyelashes are a light brown and slightly clumped together, perhaps indicating recent crying. He wonders, just for a second as he organizes his thoughts, if Charlie’s hair was that dark naturally or if it was darkened by the amount of product still holding it firm after a very long day.
“No, I’m not going to lecture you. I think we’d just be going over the same territory, and I think you know you were wrong.”
“Don’t thank me yet, I still have a question for you. Then, I’ll let you go in and see Danny. I’ll even let you wake him up if you’re honest.”
“I’m not a child.” Despite his youthful appearance, Lucien doesn’t doubt Charlie is on the later side of twenty, which makes him wonder how he ended up running with Danny, who was way back in his early twenties. He held his hands up placatingly.
“I didn’t say you were, but with your behaviour before I’m sure you can see why someone might think you were.” Looking back at the floor, Charlie set his lips in a firm, tight line. “I just want to know why.”
“Why would you slap your so-called best mate and make a huge scene after he almost dies.” Charlie at least seems to be thinking up a good answer. Or maybe a snappy comeback.
“Do you want the whole sob story or just the good bits?”
“Why don’t you tell me the bits you think I should hear?” Charlie shrugged his shoulders limply and then reached one hand to twist his watch slightly. The skin pulls with it and as soon as he’s done it returns to its previous position. He stays quiet for almost an entire minute while he pieces together in his mind what he’s going to say, eyes still fixed on the floor in front of him. When he does look up, he can see the barest hints of wetness on his eyes.
“I met Danny when he was still in the academy and I was a junior constable.” He began, taking a deep breath before launching on. “I don’t - I’m not very good at making friends. We were lined up with the SES, combing this huge piece of dried out land, looking for a lost kid. Turns out he was dead the whole time but we didn’t know that yet. Danny was on my left, and I was on the outside. I mean, this piece of ground was huge. I thought we were going to be there for a lifetime but I dunno. Danny just made it all seem like a big game. He decided that he was going to be my best mate and I guess...I guess he was right.” Charlie looked away again, the barest smile gracing his lips. Most Lucien had seen him smile since he arrived here. Charlie always seemed like a very stiff, silent young man without much humour. Danny had invited him over for dinner several times, but even then he hardly seemed able to cough up much in the way of conversation. Before they met Charlie, Danny always said Charlie was ‘funny, in a sarcastic way.’ and Lucien had never had cause to believe Charlie even knew what a joke was let alone laugh at one. The only person he ever seemed happy to be around was Danny. Maybe that was why Lawson was splitting them up more and more, much to Danny’s chagrin.
“He mentioned you sometimes.”
“Yeah well, he wanted me to move to Ballarat for years.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I got a family back in Melbourne. A mother. Four brothers.”
“So what changed?” Charlie sighed and for the first time since Lucien’s arrival, stretched his legs out in front of him. In a defensive move, he folded his arms tightly over his chest and only when he realized Lucien wasn’t backing down did he begin to speak again.
“One night, while I was on patrol we got this call over the radio. Man down, in some alley. We were a block away. I show up there, with my partner. They’re wheeling the guy out on a stretcher. His whole face is...Gone. Blasted off. A shotgun, I think. I didn’t need his face to know he was.”
“Who was he?” Another long pause passes between them.
“I could hear him breathing when I got close. Kind of rattling. I think maybe he was choking on blood. What a terrible way to watch your father die.” Lucien studied Charlie’s face, assessing his seriousness. Bits and pieces of information slowly clicked together in his mind as he understood what Charlie had just said.
“I’m sorry for your loss.” Charlie let his arms fall away from his chest and ran one of his thumbnails under the lip of his cuticle on the opposing thumb.
“It was ten months ago. People keep telling me time will make it feel better but...I doubt it. Danny thought it would be good for me to come here, try and get away from it all for a while.”
“Do you like Ballarat so far?”
“It’s okay.” Conceding seemed like a difficult thing for him to do, and he turned his eyes skyward to look at the holes in the ceiling tiles. Lucien finds them infuriating personally, because there is no pattern to them, they’re just. Random. “I appreciate...All the effort everyone has gone too to make me feel welcome. Though I might have just earned myself an expulsion.” He said, wincing slightly. “I don’t know what came over me. One minute I was so...Relieved that he was alive. The next I was furious at him. Like it was his fault or something. I know it wasn’t, I know he didn’t ask for a snake bite but just for a second, I was so angry. He brought me here to this town where he knows I don’t fit in, and he’s going to leave me?” There was a long pause while Charlie palmed the hard edge of his wrist against his eye, preemptive to tears. “Danny’s always been a good friend to me.”
“For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re going to be exiled for having an emotional response to an emotional situation,” Lucien said, sitting back in his chair. His back hurt from having to carry Danny into the hospital. He was starting to understand what made Charlie the way he was. The boy was grieving the loss of a parent, living in a new town where he only knew one person and seemingly...Just having a bad day.
“I guess we’ll see about that.” He mumbled, frowning still. “What about you? How do you like Ballarat?” Cheeky, Lucien thought.
“There are worse places for a fresh start.”
“So everyone keeps telling me.” Letting out a long breath, Charlie looked exhausted. “Can I go in and see him?”
“Now?” Lucien asked, “Why don’t you go home, get some rest? He’s probably asleep.”
“You’re probably right.” Charlie agreed, eyes glazed over. “Good night, Doc.”
“Good night, Charlie.”
Though he was glad to see him, Danny didn’t expect to see Charlie back again so soon. He was sure that his friends would be forming some kind of barricade around his room to stop Charlie getting in and dealing him another slap. But, they hadn’t, and at half-past eight or so he entered the room with a large box of chocolates in hand looking very much like he’d been burning the midnight oil so to speak.
“Can I come in?” From the door, he seems a long way away. He also looks paler than usual and drawn. Danny decides to give him a bit of a hard time anyway, he’s earned it.
“I don’t know. Are you going to go for the face again?” Realizing he won’t be getting away that easily Charlie rolled his eyes just a little and rested one shoulder against the doorframe.
“Are you thinking of getting bit by another snake?” That makes Danny chuckle, and consequently, struggle to take a gasping breath. Charlie abandons his post on the door, cursing under his breath but unsure what to do. It only takes him a moment to get his breath back and he can’t help but give Charlie a sheepish look.
“Doc said that I’ll be back to normal in a day or so.” Charlie dropped his box on the nightstand and sat in the chair closest to the bed. Or, fell onto it more like. He tucked one leg around the leg of the chair and left the other heel down on the linoleum.
“A day or so? What’s wrong with you?”
“Just having some trouble catching my breath. That’s why I’ve got this thing.” He then pointed to the nasal cannula that’s been itching his face for the last few hours or so. He wanted to take it out, but he wasn’t convinced he could take on the nurses in his weakened state so for the time being, he did his best to ignore it.
“I thought they gave those to anyone in the hospital,” Charlie remarked and reached out to take hold of one of Danny’s hands. His hands are cold, but the pressure is comforting. Charlie has, on any time Danny has needed to touch them, always had icy cold hands, and toes. He doesn’t know why but they don’t seem to bother him. He wrapped his fingers around Charlie’s hand, feeling his pronounced veins across the top of his hand. He’s never been one for physical comfort, always seemed a little out of his comfort zone when Danny unthinkingly thumped him on the shoulder passing by or offered a lazy side hug as a goodbye after not seeing him for too many months. So this gesture, he supposed, was entirely for his comfort and that’s...Well, frankly it’s almost unbearably sweet.
“Just the lucky ones.” Trying to smile, he scooted back on the pillow to sit up a little more and get a better look at Charlie. “I heard you getting reamed by the Boss.”
“Yeah. And your aunt. And nurse O’Brien. And then these other Nurses I don’t know. When I get back to the station Bill’ll have it in for me too.” He grumbled, “You got one for me too?”
“Not really. I’ve been reamed by the boss before and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. Anyway, next time you’ll know better.”
“If we’re lucky there won’t be the next time.” There will be a next time, that goes without saying but it’s better to pretend. Happier.
“With any luck.” He agrees, instead. “What did I do to deserve the five-fingered shame, huh? I didn’t ask for a snake bite.”
“No, I know you didn’t.” But he still looks uneasy, eyes breaking off from Danny’s face up to the hole filled ceiling tiles. Danny spent most of the night looking for patterns but he doesn’t think there are any. “I just...You promised me. When Dad….Well. You know. You promised that I didn’t have to worry about you.”
“You don’t have to worry about me.” Danny said, “I’m alive aren’t I?”
“Only because the Doc somehow had a premonition about where you were and what snake got you.”
“What snake was it?”
“An Asian Pit Viper. You should have seen him, it was like there was a whole montage of snakes playing behind his eyes.” Danny laughs again and chokes again. This time Charlie gets up to push him back onto the pillow, releasing his hand to make sure that he stayed down and still.
“Damnit, Danny! Don’t choke to death now of all times.”
“I’m fine!” He coughs, “Stop being funny!”
“I’m not funny, you just have a bad sense of humour.”
“And you have none, it’s why we get on so well.” He finally managed to breathe normally again, and Charlie just about fell onto him with relief.
“We won’t be getting on at all if you ever do anything so stupid again.” Charlie said, “A tourniquet? Did you forget everything we learned about first aid?”
“I was trying to stop the venom from spreading.” He defended, at the time, it had seemed like a good idea but now Charlie has reminded him...Whoops.
“If I hadn’t been there to take it off, you could have lost your arm.” Charlie sat down again but didn’t take hold of Danny’s hand, this time he lay his fingers across the bed, the palm of his hand resting on the side of the mattress.
“I was in shock.” Danny said, feeling a little defensive now, “What would you have done?”
“I don’t...I don’t know. I don’t mean to be angry with you. I don’t know why I am. Maybe it’s the hospital. I hate hospitals.”
“So do I “ Danny agreed, “Pass me some of those chocolates before Mattie gets here and eats them all.” Sitting up, Charlie did so and Danny selected plain milk chocolate from the box. “You going to have one?”
“They’re for you.”
“I insist.” Begrudgingly, Charlie grabbed one without looking at it and tossed it back. Danny’s pretty sure he didn’t even taste it but without complaint, he grabs for a second one. “You okay?”
“I don’t think I ever thanked you. When dad died, you drove to Melbourne to see me while we were waiting for news at the hospital. I never said thank you.”
“You don’t have to thank me. That’s what friends do.”
“You didn’t have to do that, but you did. So. Thank you.” Danny glanced at Charlie again and then offered him a smile.
“Well, you didn’t have to go with the doc to save me from the snake, so thank you too.”
“What are friends for?” Charlie asked, reaching out this time to take a chocolate with an orange centre. Those were Danny’s least favourite. What are friends for indeed?