"Etho's here." Bdubs said, looking out the window as he saw his silver-haired friend's car pull into Guude's driveway.
"Oh cool. Now we can actually start, the kid's always late." Guude rolled his eyes. Etho walked up to Guude's house, polietly knocking. Guude opened the door.
"I've told you, you don't have to knock." Guude smiled as he gave Etho a hug.
"I brought food." Etho said with a grin as the small group cheered. It was a small get-together, Guude had the same few people over every Friday night. Himself, Bdubs, Etho, Pause, Beef, Doc, and Genny. "Beef, heads up." Etho giggled, throwing Beef a bag of Fritos.
"Yes!" Beef giggled, opening the bag.
"Gross, dude." Pause mumbled from next to him.
"You're just jealous Etho likes me more." Beef smirked at his friend.
"In your dreams, Beefy." Pause laughed.
"You two sound like two kids fighting for their parents affection." Bdubs laughed, propping his feet up on the chair.
"I swear the two of them are related at some points though. They act like brothers even more than me and my actual brother do." Etho chuckled, setting the rest of the snacks on the table.
"Brothas' from anotha' motha'!" Genny laughed from the ground, rested on the side of the sofa.
"Got that right." Beef said, nudging Pause lightly.
"Hells yeah!" Pause grinned, leaning on Beef's shoulder.
"So what have you guys been up to?" Etho asked, sitting down on the chair.
"Nothing really." Beef shrugged.
"Oh! Did you guys hear about Jsano?" Bdubs asked all of a sudden.
"No, what about him?" Doc asked.
"He's moving town, his volunteer work offered to move him to their new station and he accepted it." Bdubs said.
"Wow... really?" Etho asked softly.
"Apparently. We heard it from Zisteau." Guude shrugged, taking a gulp of his soda.
"Damn... We should throw him a going away party or something." Genny said.
"That's a great idea." Pause said.
"Next week. Don't wanna deal with planning and shit tonight." Guude said, leaning back.
"So, Guude-" Etho started, getting cut off by his phone ringing. He looked at the caller ID, not recognizing the number. "One sec. I'll be right back." Etho said, standing up and walking out the front door to answer the call.
"Ello?" He answered the call.
"Is this Etho Slab?" A voice asked.
"Who's asking?" Etho asked.
"This is Jefferson Hospital. Is this Etho Slab speaking?" The man asked.
"Y-Yes... What happened?" Etho asked, his anxiety getting the better of him, his mind imagining the most gruesome thing that could have happened.
"Your family... They.. They got into an accident." The man spoke softly. Etho froze, not breathing or moving. "Your whole immediate family... They all passed. I'm sorry for your loss, sir." The man spoke. Etho couldn't move. His phone slipped out of his hands, landing on the ground with the tiny sound of shattering glass. Etho couldn't think, or breathe. He leaned back onto the house, looking forwards.
"Etho?" Guude asked, opening the door. "Oh, shit, what happened?" Guude said, noticing Etho's phone. He looked up at his silver haired friend who stood frozen. "Oh god, Etho... Etho?" Guude waved his hand in front of his face. "Etho, come here, let me help you inside. Etho felt Guude grab his arm, pulling him inside.
"What happened?" Beef asked.
"I don't know. H-He was just standing there." Guude said quietly. Etho felt himself come to, his mind catching up with his body.
"D-Dead." Etho whispered coldly.
"What?" Pause asked. Etho felt himself fall to his knees.
"Dead..." Etho mumbled again, looking at the ground.
"Who's dead, Etho?" Bdubs asked, rushing to his friends side.
"M-Mom... Dad... Annie... Brent..." Etho whispered. "They're all dead." Etho said, not feeling anything. If anything, he just felt empty, His mind wasn't registering what was happening, he just sat there, his mind blank.
"Oh my god." Beef gasped, hand flying to his mouth. "Etho, oh my god, I'm so sorry." Beef whispered, pulling Etho into a hug. Etho accepted, leaning into the touch.
"What do we do? I've never dealt with anything like this..." Genny asked Doc. Doc stood, looking down at Etho, not knowing what to do.
"This isn't true, right?" Etho asked, looking up at Beef. "Just a joke?" Etho asked. Beef felt a pang of sadness as Etho looked at him with hopeful eyes.
"I... I don't think it's a joke, Red." Beef whispered.
"They're not really dead... This is all some stupid joke. Not dead." Etho said. "They can't be dead. They're all at home, sleeping." Etho said, looking at the ground. "They can't be dead.." Etho mumbled. "This kind of stuff doesn't happen to people like me..." Etho said, reality starting to hit him. "I-I... I've never done anything wrong..." Etho said, tears rising to his eyes, falling down his face. "I didn't do anything wrong!" Etho sobbed into Beef' shirt.
"It's gonna be okay, Red. I got you." Beef whispered, holding Etho closer.
"It's not gonna be okay!" Etho cried harder. "T-They're all dead..." Etho sobbed.
"I know. Just let it out." Beef whispered, stroking his hair soothingly, something Beef knew Etho always loved.
"Car accident... They died in a car accident." Etho cried into Beef's shirt.
"Do we call someone?" Pause asked Guude. All he could respond was with a shrug as he held Bdubs close to him.
"Call the hospital. That was probably who called Etho." Doc told Pause, who nodded, dialing the number, walking out of the room.
"M-Mom... Dad... Both dead." Etho cried. "A-And little Annie." Etho sobbed harder, Beef pulling him closer. "Brent... They're all dead." Etho cried, his head spinning.
"I know, Red. I know... I'm here. I'll keep you safe." Beef kissed the top of Etho's head, not caring that everyone was still watching. The fact that the two were together wasn't the most important thing right now. "I'll keep you safe." Beef whispered, holding Etho closer.
"They said we can all come down as soon as Etho is ready." Pause said walking back into the room.
"Beef..." Etho whispered.
"Yes, love?" Beef asked.
"I'm too young to have this happen to me..." Etho whispered. "T-They shouldn't be dead... Momma always said that everything happens for a reason... But why did they die? This doesn't help anyone." Etho said, his tears seeming to slow down.
"She's right, Red. I know this is hard, love. You're going to be okay." Beef reassured, holding him closer.
"Pause." Etho said.
"Yeah, buddy?" Pause said, looking at his friend.
"Did they say i-if they looked bad?" Etho asked quietly.
"They didn't say anything about that." Pause said.
"I-I want to see them." Etho whispered.
"Are you sure? We can always go in a little bit." Beef said.
"I need to see them." Etho said, pulling himself up.
"I'll drive. I can take the old clunker, it'll fit all of us in it." Guude said, grabbing his keys.
"Doc, you okay?" Genny whispered to his friend, who nodded blankly. The group walked out to Guude's old car, everyone getting into a seat, Etho and Beef cuddling together in the back.
"Beef?" Etho asked quietly, his head rested in the taller man's shoulder.
"Yes, Red?" Beef asked.
"How do we know anything...?" Etho whispered.
"What do you mean?"
"W-We never know when anyone is gonna die." Etho whispered. "They died in a car crash.." Etho said, looking around him.
"I know, love. It's gonna be okay. Nothing bad is going to happen as long as I'm here. I promise." Beef kissed Etho's head as they pulled into the hospital parking lot. The group walked in.
"Looking for Slab?" Beef asked, knowing Etho wasn't ready to talk to anyone else.
"6B" The woman said kindly. "I'm sorry for your loss." The woman said softly. Etho gave a curt nod as they walked to the elevator.
"Can we take the stairs?" Etho asked Beef, who nodded.
"We'll meet you guys up there." Beef said, waving at them as they rode up the elevator.
"Beef?" Etho asked.
"I love you so much." Etho whispered.
"I love you more, Red." Beef said, tangling his fingers with Etho's.
"Will you go into the room with me?" Etho asked.
"Of course, lovely." Beef said as they reached the top of the stairs, meeting up with the group. They all walked past the rooms, nobody saying anything.
"Are you Etho?" The doctor asked Beef.
"I am." Etho said quietly.
"I am so sorry for your loss. My condolences." The doctor shook Etho's hand. "Would you like to say your goodbyes?" The doctor asked.
"Yes.." Etho whispered. Beef squeezed Etho's hand reassuringly. The doctor opened the door, letting the two in. Etho screwed his eyes shut as they walked in.
"I'll leave you alone to say your goodbyes." The doctor nodded, leaving the room. Etho opened his eyes, looking at his family. Four beds, four bodies. Dead and lifeless, covered up with crisp white sheets.
"Etho?" Beef asked.
"Are you okay?" Beef asked.
"I don't know." Etho said, looking at his parents. Their eyes were closed, as if they were at peace. He looked at his little sister with her curly orange hair. "Her piggy." Etho said, hiding his face in Beef's shoulder. "Mr. Oink..." Etho said, tears falling down his face. "A-And Brent... H-He's missing his hat. He doesn't have his hat..." Etho sobbed into Beef's shoulder. Beef held Etho tighter, feeling tears prick at his own eyes. "He needs his hat!" Etho cried.
"I'm so sorry, Etho..." Beef whispered, a few tears falling into Etho's hair. Etho left Beef's arms, cautiously walking towards them. Somewhere deep inside of him, he thought that maybe it still was a sick joke. That they would all pop up and laugh at him for falling for their prank. Etho stood next to his mother and Annie.
"I always loved Annie's hair..." Etho whispered, running his fingers through her soft hair. "She always loved this little pig." Etho said quietly, picking up the stuffed pig. "She always made me kiss it goodnight." Etho whispered, holding the pig closer. "And mom..." Etho said. "She always wore this necklace." Etho said, looking at his mother. "Dad gave it to her." Etho whispered.
"Do you want a second alone?" Beef asked.
"I-If you don't mind..." Etho said softly.
"I love you, Red." Beef said, kissing Etho's forehead softly, walking out of the room. Etho stood next to the beds.
"I love you, Brent." Etho said. "You always knew how to make me feel better when I was sad... I hope you sleep well." Etho said, a tear falling onto the ground. "I love you, Momma." Etho whispered, kissing his mother's forehead. "You always believed in me." Etho said, touching her cold hands. "I love you, Dad." Etho said. "You were always my inspiration. I'm sorry I never took over the farm." Etho told him, his hand brushing over his fathers. "And little Annie... I love you, Annie." Etho whispered, kissing her forehead, a tear dripping onto her hair. "Goodnight, little red. Sleep tight." Etho told her, feeling his heart shatter. Etho didn't bother trying to stop the tears rushing down his face as he picked up the pink stuffed pig, holding it close to him. Etho walked out of the room, tears rushing down his face.
"Are you okay, love?" Beef asked, rushing to Etho's side.
"I'm okay... They're at rest now." Etho said quietly, hugging the pink pig to him, thinking about how much Annie used to love the small plush.