Jacob's heart clenched when he saw Cassandra fall, frozen for a second as she collapsed into Jenkins' arms. The world passed in a blur and he couldn't remember making it to the hospital, he just blinked and found himself watching Jenkins follow Cassandra on the stretcher. He saw their fond exchange and his heart clenched in a different way. He wasn't jealous; he had no say over who Cassandra loved. But how could he not see it? He caught the connection with Estrella, even held Ezekiel back, but how could he miss Jenkins? Jacob wanted Cassandra to choose who she wanted, and he'd come to accept it wasn't him. He never wanted to limit her with his own stubbornness, and he didn't want to watch her die. He was a coward, unable to let himself love her but unable to let her go either. And now he could loose her anyways, and he felt sick. He found himself in the nearest bathroom, splashing water on his face and then he gripped the edges of the sink. His heart beat fast and hard against his ribs, his breathing unsteady, and he tried to calm down. He could loose her. She could die. He couldn't lose someone else. He couldn't do it again. Just being in the hospital had him uneasy, flashbacks just a breath away from assaulting him. He heard a knock on the door and Ezekiel's voice was faint from the other side. Jacob tried to pull himself together, making a calm facade for the others to see. He opened the door to Ezekiel's concerned face, pushing past the thief to see the others standing around, dead on their feet.
"I'm gonna get coffee," he said as he walked towards the exit.
"You want me to go?" Jones offered from behind him.
"No. . . I got it, thanks," he responded and tried to erase the hurt look his friend gave him from his memory.
The trip was shorter than his mind had time to run itself out, yet longer than he wanted to be away from any news of Cassandra.
There was still no word when he came back and saw the others.
So he gave out coffee and waited, attempting to calm his racing heart.
He eventually sat down next to Ezekiel, thinking about how he was going to face Cassandra after this. If he got the chance to.
"Hey, she's going to be fine," he heard the thief whisper to him, brown eyes shining.
Jacob nodded, throat closing up, and he swallowed thickly.
When the time arrived, a doctor came out and Jacob felt like a kid again, seeing a different doctor tell him his momma didn't make it through surgery.
He shook his head, trying to escape the memory. This was not the time to have a breakdown. He was being ridiculous. He stood up and gathered with the others around the doctor.
His legs nearly gave out when he heard Cassandra was alive. But they had to wait to go see her.
When they had the all clear, all he could think was the trip down the hallway was long. They finally made it to her room, and he stopped breathing. Cassandra looked so. . .vulnerable. He plastered a smile on his face though when she looked at him, saying some words he knew tasted wrong in his mouth. Did he call her kid?
He felt helpless all the sudden, seeing her on the hospital bed, and he tried to quell the panic in his gut. He couldn't help her; he wasn't there for her, he didn't even know she was this bad. What would he have done if she died? He was unable to prevent it, and he didn't even notice her odd behavior. Maybe he didn't want to notice it, just like when he was a kid.
He was distracted from his thoughts when Cassandra brought up her gift. She was fine. Better than fine, actually. Turned out her gift was enhanced. It was great, and he should feel happy.
So why did he still feel this pit in his gut? His mouth was dry and he swallowed to ease the feeling. He thought his heart would burst from his chest, and he caught a knowing look from Ezekiel.
"Stone and I will go get your stuff," the thief announced to Cassandra and the room as he grabbed Jacob's arm and practically pulled him out the door.
"Jones what the-"
Ezekiel hauled him out of the hospital and into its outside garden area. He sat him down on a bench and settled in front of him.
"Breathe," Ezekiel said as he had a grip on Jacob's arms and stared seriously into his eyes.
Stone was confused until he realized he sounded like he just ran a marathon.
"How?" He breathed out when he had calmed down a little.
Ezekiel gave a pained smirk.
"Experience," he supplied as he moved to sit on the bench next to him.
"The video game?" Jacob asked, hoping he was wrong but feeling he was right.
Jones ducked his head.
"It started way before that, mate."
Jacob could feel his heart break for the younger man. He felt he had to give back for the vulnerability his friend was showing him.
"My mom died during surgery when I was ten. I couldn't save her. The night she died, my dad found a bottle and someone to blame."
Ezekiel brought his head up to meet his eyes, the chocolate orbs full of understanding. It looked like he might've prepared to share something, but then he closed off.
Jacob felt disappointed but respected that Ezekiel wasn't ready to share details.
"Now let's go. I don't need you crying on me," Ezekiel fell into his default mockery, but this time Jacob knew what was underneath it.
By the time they got back, Jacob still felt a slight panic being in the hospital room and watching a sleeping Cassandra on the bed, but he caught sight of Ezekiel and felt a bit better.
Who knew the thief would become reassuring instead of annoying?
As he watched Cassandra sleep, Jacob wished he could have saved Ezekiel and Cassandra from what they'd been through. He felt this overwhelming urge to protect them, and he could only assume it spurned from this close call that reminded him of his inability to save his mother.
He concluded that he had to be better.
Later, when he walked into the annex, he caught sight of a piece of paper. Magical lettering appeared on it as he picked it up. He stared at it.