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Jamie tightened his grip on his blankets and pretended that he didn't feel Alex sitting down at the head of the bed. It wasn't fair. He hadn't wanted to go to the doctor at all, but after that stupid asthma attack Alex had said that he didn't have a choice. And then Alex had said that he'd stay with Jamie if he wanted him to, which Jamie had wanted that at the time since being stuck in some room with some stranger poking at him wasn't okay either, but then she'd grabbed his shirt and lifted it up and he hadn't been able to do anything to stop her.

And then Alex had had to leave him alone with the doctor for a couple minutes anyway since it was procedure or whatever, and now Jamie just wanted to forget everything. And he didn't want to talk to Alex again ever.

Alex had been quiet on the ride home after Jamie had said that he didn't want any lunch and had let him escape alone to his room when they'd arrived, however long ago that had been, but it seemed that that was at an end.


Jamie hugged himself tighter.

Alex sighed, and Jamie tensed even more as light pressure ghosted across the blanket over his shoulder. "Come on, you can't stay under there forever. Come talk to me."

That wasn't happening, and while there was exactly zero chance that Alex would ever believe that he was asleep, he stayed where he was and kept his mouth shut anyway.

"Jaim, I already had your medical records," Alex said after a few minutes. "You know that. And I've been a doctor for quite a few years now. I already knew that there was no way that those injuries didn't leave some scars."

Yeah, because that made it so much better.

"Come on." A pat on the bed at Jamie's back although he didn't touch Jamie again. "Time to come out of your burrow."

"Don't want to," Jamie muttered.

"Trust me, kiddo, I got that. Come out anyway."

Jamie scowled and twisted enough to free his upper body, but he already knew he didn't like looking up at Alex from weird angles so he pushed himself further to put his back against the headboard. And then decided that he'd been right in the first place not to look at Alex at all so he locked his arms around his knees and stared out the window.

"May I take a look at that arm?"

Presumably the arm where he'd gotten that stupid allergy shot—the first of a bunch, apparently, but Alex said he'd do the rest and then maybe when fall came again he wouldn't be quite so sniffly and sneezy and whatever which was more than worth getting jabbed for—and he shrugged and turned his arm so Alex could push his sleeve aside.

"No sign of any reaction, so that's good. Do you feel o—well, I guess that's a stupid question," Alex said, cutting himself off. "But does your arm hurt? I don't see any redness, but is it sore or itchy or anything like that?"

"No, it doesn't feel any different than usual."

"Good. You tell me if that changes."

"Yeah, sure." They'd already made him sit in the stupid doctor's office for like twenty minutes or whatever after he got the shot to make sure he wasn't going to turn green or grown horns or whatever. If his arm was going to fall off, he was pretty sure he'd know about it by now.


"I'll tell!"

"Thank you."

A long pause, and Jamie didn't have to be a genius to figure out that he wasn't going to like what was coming next so he tightened his arms and resumed staring out the window. Not that there was much to see from this angle.

"Kiddo, you know what happened wasn't your fault, right? With...with your dad? Someone a heck of a lot more qualified than me should have made sure that you knew that right afterwards, but I get the impression that that didn't happen."

"'m fine."

"Are you sure? In my experience people who are fine don't spend over six hours hiding under their blankets."

Well, where else was he supposed to hide? Alex would be furious if he went and locked himself in the storage locker for a couple days or whatever. Anyway, it was warm here, and he had a bed to hide in so he might as well use it.

"Look, Jaim, this isn't something that you ever have to talk to me about if you don't want to," Alex continued after a moment. "You can, you always can and I'll listen—that's a standing offer, for the record, and not just about this—or I'll find someone else for you to talk to if you'd prefer that, but I need you to be okay with the fact that I do know at least a little. I'm very sure it's nowhere near the extent of what actually happened, and you can certainly excuse yourself if you need some time to calm down if it comes up, but spending a good portion of the day curled up under your blankets trying to tunnel through your mattress? That's not a healthy coping mechanism."

Jamie kept his mouth shut. He wasn't trying to cope with anything. He was fine, just like always.


"Whatever, okay? It doesn't matter, I just wasn't ready for her to do that." She'd up and grabbed his shirt and then they'd both seen, and she was some stupid stranger so even if hated it it didn't really matter, but Alex wasn't... It was already bad enough that Alex knew that everybody else didn't want him and now there was this too. Those stupid files hadn't been bad enough.

"That's fair. She should have asked your permission first."

That wasn't exactly what Jamie had expected, and he looked over before he thought better of it. "Would I have been allowed to say no?"

"This time?" Alex sighed. "This time probably not. With me, unless you're hurt, absolutely. But it's like I did have to leave you alone with her for a few minutes at the end of the appointment, part of a pediatrician's job is make sure that kids aren't being hurt at home, which means she needed to check you over. I'm guessing you got a few questions after I was gone, too?"

Jamie's jaw tightened. "Stupid questions. You didn't do anything to me." It was probably good that Alex hadn't been in the room for those questions, though, because Jamie would definitely have gotten a look for what he'd said to the doctor in response.

"She had to ask." He tilted his head. "Did the burrowing at least make you feel a little better?"

"I'm fine," Jamie snapped. He'd said that already, and he wasn't ever going to say anything different so Alex could just stop asking.

"Okay. Okay."

Alex didn't sound like he believed it even a little bit, and never mind that it had been forever ago and Jamie didn't care anyway, and Jamie debated whether he could make it back under the covers before this conversation went any further. Before he had to try, though, Alex sighed again.

"Given that you didn't want to stop for lunch after the doctor's office, and I know you haven't been out of your room since we got home, how about you come out and pick what we're having for dinner, and we'll get delivery?"

"What? I'm not hungry."

"Well, I am, so let's order now and then food will be here when you do get hungry. You can curl up just as easily on the couch as in here."

Except that Alex could get to him easier there, but then again it wasn't like Jamie's door had done much to stop him this time. "Movie?" he asked cautiously. At least then he wouldn't have to worry about Alex looking at him.

"Is your schoolwork done? Including what you missed today?"

That was a completely, utterly Alex thing to ask, no matter what else had happened today, and Jamie groaned. "You made me go to the doctor's!"

"And tomorrow I'm going to make you go to school so is your homework done?"

"There's just a couple stupid math problems left." He'd been planning on doing them tomorrow during first period, but he knew better than to say out loud that given that Alex seemed to think he was supposed to be paying attention during his classes. And never mind that he didn't need his teachers expecting that right along with his homework.

"Get them done while we're waiting for the food to get here and you can pick a movie," Alex agreed, pushing himself up off the bed. "Let me know if you need a hand. And remember what I said, okay? You don't have to talk, but you can. You don't have to hide."