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But Once Again We End Anew

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The stale hospital air is unnerving, and even after a week of being trapped in the unit, it still makes Gordon's skin crawl. Every breath aches and he can almost taste the disinfectants in the air. (It reminds him of when he was ten years old and licked hand sanitizer. The memory makes him scoff at his stupidity.)

Nurses on the floor are finishing their rounds for vitals and medications, and Gordon knows from experience that means it's almost five AM. Breakfast was at seven thirty. Group started at nine and lasted until eleven, then there was free time until lunch. Visiting hours started around then, and the afternoon group was around two PM.

Fuck. He hated knowing this by heart.

Flopping back onto the plastic pillows, Gordon stares at the ceiling and tries to count the tiles again. The silence of the floor is deafening, and it makes his hands (well, hand) twitch. He was used to having some kind of noise. His apartment was close to a busy area, with drunk college students and loud cars bustling about at every hour. The man who lived across from him was nocturnal and would come and go through the night.

At Black Mesa, there was always something, too. Tommy snoring randomly as he slept. Dr. Coomer yelling, "Hello, Gordon!" at every turn. Bubby's odd crackling his fingertips (which was apparently pyromancy, or whatever. Something Gordon hadn't figured out until Tommy's birthday party.) Benrey's-

Benrey.

Gordon's heart stopped and he took a deep breath.

Benrey.

Benrey was always making noise. Singing or humming. Tapping their shoes on the floor. Pacing. Gently patting their arms or legs. Beeping to themselves and mumbling. Benrey... always made noise.

Even when-

Gordon doesn't even realize he's screaming and pulling his hair until a group of nurses rush in, stating the same practiced phrases in the same practiced sympathetic tones. Their pity and false tenderness make his head hurt and he thrashes in their arms.

Run. Run runrunrun runrun

A quick poke, one he recognizes as a chemical restraint, and within seconds his body is weakened. His eyes dart around the room before landing on a woman in the corner. Disappointment rolls off of her in heavy waves, and he wants to cry.

"Don't leave me here, Mom," he wants to scream.

Instead, a pained gasp leaves his throat, and he's falling back into a completely silent world.

 

////

 

Hospital eggs had not improved since Gordon was 16 and he honestly finds that extremely comforting.

Breakfast is the easiest part of his day, because he can plan what he wants to talk about, journal about, if he wants visitors. Breakfast also doesn’t have changing options. Eggs, bacon, turkey bacon, cereal, and some kind of bread were the only options. He doesn’t have to stress over what to eat. And since it never changes, he doesn’t really have to worry about if he made the wrong decision. He can try again tomorrow without fuss.

The rest of the day is… uneventful. He was never really sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but he’s glad nothing really happened. For once in his life, everything was calm.

Or so he thought, until one of the nurses knocked on his door to tell him he’d have visitors tomorrow.

He felt his throat tighten, but this is one of the good nurses who does her job.

“They said their names were Harold Coomer and Bubby Professor.”

Gordon stopped processing anything for a moment. Then his face broke into a smile.

His friends.

They hadn’t forgotten him. They were going to come visit him. They cared. They still cared.

He was happy.