They'll Be Alright
Jay sat idly on the gurney, waiting for Natalie to get his discharge paperwork together so he could get the hell out of there. He hadn't said a word on the ambulance ride to Med, and had answered Natalie's concerned questions as she examined him with mostly one-word answers. Now, all he wanted was to get home, grab a beer, lock himself in his bedroom and forget. Forget the hollowness in his chest, the sickening pit in his stomach and the voice in his head. His voice. His voice calling his father a thankless old prick over and over, like an old cassette tape stuck on a sinister loop.
Glancing around the exam room, Jay tried to determine if it was the same one where his father had been brought after he was pulled out of the fire. At the thought, his surroundings grew slightly blurry as tears crept their way into his eyes. He fought them back with a blink and a hard swallow. Slowly, Jay let his gaze fall to the floor, drifting past the fresh black t-shirt and jeans he now wore that someone from the district had dropped off. He felt a slight wave of relief that he always kept a spare change of clothes in his locker for situations just like this, although he had hoped never to have to use them.
Staring at the floor, Jay tried to shut out the sounds of the hospital penetrating the curtain around his gurney that he had requested Natalie close on her way to get his paperwork. Suddenly, he heard the unmistakeable sound of the curtain being ripped open, and without a glance he knew who was there. Jay didn't look up, couldn't look up.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Although the words were spoken quietly, the barely contained rage in his brother's voice caused Jay to raise his eyes. When he did, they were met by the most intense expression he had ever seen. Will's mouth was set in a grim line, and his eyes were dark, expressing a myriad of emotions: anger, sadness, shock, and a depth of fear that Jay had never thought possible. Slightly taken aback, he tried to explain.
"Shut up, just shut up!" Will's snapped, his strained voice beginning to rise as he took a step closer to the gurney. He stared at Jay, his heart pounding. His hands were shaking, and he reflexively clenched them to try to conceal it, missing Jay's wary glance as though he was afraid he was about to be struck. "What the hell is wrong with you? You could have died out there, do you understand that?" Will was shouting now, causing many of the doctors, nurses and visitors around the nurses' station to turn their heads. Concerned, Ethan started toward the room, but Natalie put a hand on his arm and shook her head.
"Let them be," she said, her eyes never leaving her fiance, wanting nothing more than to run to him and hold him, to reassure him that Jay was fine and that everything would be okay. This wasn't the time or place, she knew that, so she stared back down at the computer, willing herself to give the brothers their privacy.
Jay didn't want to hear it. Voight had already reamed him before he was sent to Med, and although he knew that both his sergeant and brother were right, he just wanted to forget the whole thing. He opened his mouth to attempt a half-hearted apology, but before he could speak, Will took another step closer to him and slammed his hand down on the gurney.
"Did it ever once occur to you how I would feel if you died?" Tears Will hadn't even noticed forming began to fall down his cheeks as he pressed on. "It would destroy me! You're all the family I have now! To lose my father and my brother-" Will's voice broke, and a sob caught in his throat. He leaned forward on the gurney and braced himself with both hands, his head bowed and tears falling onto the sheets.
Will's words hit Jay like a ton of bricks. He realized then that the only thing he had cared about was getting the person responsible for his father's death, his own safety or anyone else's feelings be damned. Seeing Will broken down in front of him, Jay shook his head and reached over to grip his brother's shoulder.
"Oh God, Will, I didn't even think...all I could think about was getting the bastard that killed Dad. I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry-" his voice cracked on those last words as he stood up and, ignoring his aching side, pulled Will into an enormous bear hug, tears falling onto his brother's shirt. "I love you, man." Will hugged Jay tighter than he ever had before.
"I love you too, brother."
Natalie watched with a smile as the Halstead brothers embraced. Ethan walked up next to her, following her gaze. He put his arm around Natalie's shoulders and gave her a little squeeze.
"They'll be alright, won't they?"
Natalie nodded, wiping away a tear that had trickled from the corner of her eye. "Yes, Ethan. They'll be alright."