Herc: are you lot up for going to the movies today?
John: yeah, sure
Laf: as long as it’s good
Alex: I don’t feel too good, but you guys can go without me
John: are you okay? can we help at all?
Alex: I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me
At Alex’s denial, all of them knew what was wrong. He never cared to admit that he was troubled when it made him feel so out of place. John made a quick decision and opened a new chat.
John: I’m going to check in on Alex, we’d best not crowd him. I’ll catch up with you guys later.
Laf: Okay, tell him we love him, and don’t forget chocolate.
John entered the apartment to find all of the lights switched off. He called “Hey Alex, it’s only me, just came to see how you were doing.” Into the apartment, but received no reply. He walked through to the bedroom to find Alex, curled up in the middle of his bed, hugging a pillow, silent tears rolling down his cheeks.
“Hey, shh, stop that.” John said, rushing over to sit on the bed beside him. He gently brushed the tears away from Alex’s face with his thumb. Alex shuffled closer to him, so his head was resting against John’s leg, letting out a few broken sobs.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered.
“Alex, there’s no need to be sorry. I just want to make sure you’re okay.” He reached towards the plastic bag he had brought with him, pulling out various items.
“I brought pain meds, have you taken any recently?”
Alex shook his head in response.
“Okay, I’ll just go and get you some water, is there anything else you need?” Alex shook his head again and John left for the kitchen. He soon returned with a glass of water, and Alex sat up. After taking two pills, Alex started talking.
“I’m sorry, I just hate this. I feel like shit, and none of you have to go through this. It’s like a constant reminder that I’m not normal. It puts me in my place, like, like I’m not real, not valid, like I’m pretending, and I hate it. And then I feel like a burden on you, we can’t just go out and enjoy ourselves and it’s all my fault, and…”
And then he was crying again. John wrapped his arms around the smaller boy’s shoulders and pulled him in for a tight hug, Alex’s sobs slightly muffled by his hoodie. John ran his fingers through Alex’s hair and gently whished “shh” In his ear repeatedly.
After a few minutes, John spoke. “Listen, Alex, you can be as normal as you want to be. You are your own person, and if that means being different to other people, then that’s not a bad thing, and I love you for every little thing that you are. You’re many things to me, and anything but a burden. I care about you, and I just want to make sure you’re okay, or look after you until you are. Promise me you’ll tell me if you need anything, and you won’t worry about it?”
Alex nodded. “I promise. Thank you so much.”
“Anytime, I mean it.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too. Do you want me to stay?”
Alex hesitated for a moment, but remembered what John had just said, and believed him. “Yes please.”
John put a movie on in the background and snuggled down into bed with Alex, wrapped up in blankets, and the two of them drifted off to sleep in each other’s arms.