“...My head hurts.” Alfred grumbled, shifting slightly in the passenger seat.
“Bet it does.” Matthew scoffed, hands firmly on the wheel. He stares dead ahead at the open road, brows furrowed. Alfred let out a long sigh, turning his head to watch the trees pass them by as they drove along the road back from Washington.
The car was silent after that.
He never wanted this. Out of his top ten things of things that Alfred Jones never wanted to happen in life, this was one of them - upsetting his brother. Because when Matthew was upset, Alfred was upset.
It had been a quiet day in his Washington office. All he had to do was read over some papers, file them, and send a few emails. That was all. An easy task for any man to do, immortal or not. But the ticking of his clock was too loud, and his head was pounding, and the AC stopped working five days ago…
‘I guess that explains it,’ Alfred thought to himself, ‘Yeah, it makes sense, doesn’t it?’
He reached forward towards the dashboard hesitantly, fiddling with one of the knobs on the AC unit. Matthew glanced over, but said nothing. Alfred hummed softly to himself, adjusting the AC so it was pointing right at his face. He leant forward and took a deep breath in, followed by a big sigh of relief when the cool air started hitting his face.
“You warm?” Matthew managed to cough out, reassembling the AC units on his side of the dashboard. Alfred scoffed.
“No shit.” He rolled his eyes.
“When’s last time you ate?” Matthew asked in a quieter tone.
New text from Mattie 🤞: ‘You good?’
Text to Mattie 🤞: ‘yeah i’m fine. could be worse. shit’s killing me though i can’t lie’
New text from Mattie 🤞: ‘Wdym?’
Alfred groaned and slammed his phone back onto the desk, leaning back in his leather chair.
Tick, tick, tick, tick…
New text from Mattie 🤞: ‘Al?’
Alfred swiped his phone from the desk and stood up abruptly, marching over to his ensuite bathroom and slamming the door behind him, bolting it shut.
Text to Mattie 🤞: ‘i said i’m fucking fine yeah?’
He crouched down by the door and sat hugging his knees for a moment, head down.
New text from Mattie 🤞: ‘Well fuck me, man. Was just checking. We’ll catch up later or something 👋’
Alfred hovered his fingers over the keyboard, desperate to type something back. But he couldn’t find the words to say.
“Uhh…” Alfred thought to himself for a moment. When was the last time he ate? “I don’t know. Maybe yesterday.” Matthew quickly reached over for his phone and started tapping rapidly at his keyboard. “You shouldn’t text and drive, Matt.”
Matthew finished typing and bit his bottom lip, slowly pulling the car to one side of the road. When he’s finally stopped, he lets go of the wheel, and turns to face Alfred. “Do you have any idea how serious this is?” He said angrily, voice low. “Like, any idea?”
Alfred didn’t turn to look back at Matthew. Matthew sighed to himself and laid back in the seat. “Look. Arthur’s meeting us at infirmary, yeah? Maybe Francis too.”
“Oh, great.” Alfred murmured sarcastically. “A pity party.” Matthew slammed his fist against the dashboard.
“It’s not a pity party,” He still didn’t raise his voice, “You… realise that I had to call Arthur, right? And whoever shows up with Arthur - that’s not my fault. That’s his. You can bitch to him about it later.”
Text to Mattie 🤞: ‘matt i’m not fine’
Text to Mattie 🤞: ‘matt the room’s spinning’
Text to Mattie 🤞: ‘i fucked up sorry please’
New text from Mattie 🤞: ‘Where r u’
Text to Mattie 🤞: ‘office’
Alfred clutched his arm with his teeth clenched. An empty pill bottle lay discarded on his bathroom floor, coupled with an old but bloodied blade.
Text to Mattie 🤞: ‘i’m really really sorry’
Text to Mattie 🤞: ‘please don’t tell anyone when you get here i really don’t want anyone to know’
Text to Mattie 🤞: ‘are you coming?’
Alfred fiddled with the knot on the t-shirt that had been hastily wrapped around his forearm.
“I’m sorry.” He croaked out, “No one… no one was supposed to know.”
“I know.” Matthew said, thin-lipped. “That’s the point, isn’t it.” He turned back to face the road and started the car again.
Alfred held back a whine and closed his eyes tighty.
New text from Ivan B.: ‘You there yet?’
Text to Ivan B.: ‘Nope. Got about twenty minutes left. I haven’t told him you’re coming or that you know anything’
New text from Ivan B.: ‘👍’
New text from Ivan B.: ‘Is it bad’
Matthew groaned as he read the notification on his phone. Alfred squinted over, though his head was still spinning.
“Who’re you texting…?” Alfred asked. Matthew ignored him.
“We’ve got about twenty minutes until we get there.” Matthew replied in a soft voice.
Alfred was haphazardly tying his own shirt to his forearm. “Shit, shit, shit…” He murmured, tears burning at his eyes. It had stopped most of the bleeding, but the shirt was slowly filling with red.
He unbolted the door with his spare hand and threw himself out of the bathroom with a gasp, stumbling over to the desk and sitting on top of it. A huge stacked pile of papers toppled to the floor. Alfred shut his eyes tightly, the room spinning even faster now.
He didn’t remember much between the car ride to the hospital and being in a hospital room. He lay with a proper bandage around his arm, and a cannula in his hand. He groaned, turning to look at the blurry-ish figures surrounding him.
“Hi.” Matthew said softly. He was sat on one of the chairs in the infirmary, next to…
“Is he awake now?” Arthur asked, sitting up slightly in his seat.
Alfred slowly sat up in the bed and took a sharp breath in.
“Shit.” He reached over to grab his glasses from the side table. “How long was I out?”
“About half an hour.” Arthur replied solemnly. “Luckily.” Alfred had scoffed at that, looking at his surroundings. He then locked eyes with Ivan, and his brow furrowed.
“What’s he doing here?” Alfred asked, a low growl to his voice.
“I came,” Ivan began, moving closer to the side of the bed, “because we’re all worried about you.”
“Ah, yeah, sure…” Alfred shook his head. “This is fucking unbelievable.”
“Why?” Ivan raised an eyebrow.
“Because none of you ever cared before.” Alfred could feel tears stinging at his eyes. “Not one of you. Not even my own brother.”
“We… did. We do.” Matthew sighed, as a nurse brought another chair over for Ivan to sit on. Ivan sat, and Matthew tucked a strand of hair behind his ear. “We had our suspicions.”
“Suspicions of what?”
“Alfred.” Arthur said, his voice trembling. “Please, don’t make this more difficult than it has to be, yeah?”
“Oh.” Alfred’s eyes went dark. “Because this is such an inconvenience for you. Your own son-”
“Al, you tried to fucking kill yourself.” Matthew said, catching Alfred’s attention. He was crying. “Yeah? You tried to kill yourself. Of course we fucking care.”
“What does it matter though?” Alfred smiled darkly. “It’s not like anything’s going to happen, anyway. Trust me, I’ve tried enough times-”
“стоп.” Ivan said, louder. “You are starving yourself, and you’re making yourself weaker. It matters.”
Alfred went wide-eyed at that.
“Because,” Ivan huffed, “I have seen you cook more meals for me than I have seen you cook your own. You look thin.” Ivan looked across Alfred and shook his head slowly. “Do you live in a world of your own?”
Alfred went silent, looking down at his hospital gown. It’s true - maybe he did look thinner. But he was only cutting out so many meals a day, and doing a bit more exercise than usual, and…
“Why couldn’t you ask anyone for help?” Arthur asked, reaching forward to put his hand on the frame of the bed. “Not me? Not Matthew? Not even Francis?”
“It doesn’t…” Alfred groaned. “No, it doesn’t work like that.”
“Have you been like this for a long time?” Ivan asked. The two had been closer more of recent, but this was a personal level that Alfred wasn’t prepared for. Before he could respond, Matthew spoke.
“Some of us knew.” Matthew looked at Arthur. “But none of us said anything. Because…” He fell silent, trying to think of the words.
“Because it didn’t seem that bad.” Alfred finished, looking up at Matthew. “And maybe it wasn’t, to start. ‘Cause everyone’s going through shit and fuck…” He shook his head. “Or something like that.”
“Well.” Arthur cleared his throat. “I… always thought you had a healthy appetite.” Alfred winced.
“Aw, thanks Art. It’s a shame I had an even better gag reflex-”
“Fredka.” Ivan warned him. Alfred became silent, fiddling with part of his hospital gown and muttering a small ‘sorry’.
“I should have said something. I’m sorry, Alfiè.” Matthew murmured quietly. “I really should have said something.”
“Hey…” Alfred tried to smile,”No, Mattie, it’s not your fault. It’s literally all mine.”
The four of them sat, mostly in silence, for the next few hours. Alfred was checked over by the nurses and was then discharged.
“I’ve got work this week.” Matthew looked at Ivan. “Your call.”
“Fuck off!” Alfred looked angry. “I’m not staying with that Russian piece of shit.”
“Oh, yes you are.” Matthew glared back at Alfred. “I’m sure as hell not leaving you alone this time.”
“It’s fine, да?” Ivan walked over to Alfred and slung an arm around his shoulder. “We will get on.”
“Oh yeah, when’s that?”
“When you’re staying at my home because you tried to kill yourself, and have to be supervised because you’re not eating properly, and you don’t want to be in psychiatric care with a bunch of unstable humans.” Ivan replied with a small smile on his face. “Right?”
Alfred rolled his eyes and shoved Ivan away. “Right… but I won’t be fucking living at yours forever. I’ve got shit to do.” Arthur raised an eyebrow.
“No…” He huffed. “Matthew’s got your shit to do. You’re taking time off.” He conceded, “And until then, we’ll be taking care of you.”
Alfred growled and slammed his fist against the wall.
But… it was his own fault, wasn’t it? He was the one who decided to try and end his own life (something which - by the way - he can’t even do). So what was it all for? The attention?
“I can’t believe this…” He sighed, closing his eyes.
“And don’t ever fucking say I don’t care again. Yeah? Because I do.” Matthew dragged Alfred
into a tight hug. “We care, Al. Please. Please just fucking take a break for a bit, yeah?”
Alfred hugged Matthew back tightly and began to sob profusely.