Warnings for this chapter: Some violence
Sebastian punched the button on the elevator, head swimming and chest aching. It had been a long day at work, exacerbated by his pounded head and congested chest. He wasn’t entirely sure what was wrong with him. At first, it had seemed like a cold. Common, easy enough to treat. As the days wore on, his cough got worse, to the point where it caused pain and took his breath away. He’d woken up this morning, dizzy and nauseous, and had actually debated about calling in sick. But the bills on the counter thought differently, and he’d dragged himself in to work.
He shivered as the elevator doors opened to his floor. Maybe he’d take tomorrow off.
The alarm clock rang shrilly, forcing Sebastian to open his eyes. He laid still for a while, gazing blearily at the red numbers. He still had a little over an hour to get ready, but his limbs felt heavy, and his eyes felt swollen and warm. An hour wasn’t going to be enough.
He pulled himself up slowly, and sat still again as he waited for the dizziness to fade. This was no good. He couldn’t go to work like this. He reached for his phone, only to have it ring in his hand. He didn’t bother to look at the name. There weren’t very many people that had his number.
“Mister Malone?” a chipper voice sounded in his ear, making his teeth clench. “It’s Susie, Marlene’s daughter? I was just calling to remind you that your rent is due.”
Sebastian closed his eyes. “Yes, I know. I get paid on Friday.”
“Okay. We’ll expect a check on Friday, then.” And she hung up.
Sebastian groaned. As sweet as Susie sounded, he knew that she and her mother wouldn’t tolerate a late payment. Technically, they weren’t accepting rent payments on Fridays at all, but they were willing to waive that away for Sebastian’s first payment, due to extenuating circumstances. He was almost positive that this check would cover the rent, but ‘almost positive’ wasn’t going to keep him in his apartment.
He swung his legs off the bed, begrudging the explosion for the umpteenth time since he regained consciousness five weeks ago.
Forty minutes later, he stumbled out the door, face unwashed, belly unfilled. (Which, in retrospect, was probably a good thing. The nausea was back this morning, and eating before riding on a bus for ten minutes didn’t seem like the best plan.) He stumbled into the elevator, punched some buttons and, after the third try, managed to even hit the right one. He stumbled out when the doors opened, and then stumbled out to the bus stop, leaning against glass that enclosed the benches, enjoying the feeling of the cool pane against his forehead.
He closed his eyes, thinking he’d just rest them while he waited for the bus to arrive. And, if he happened to fall asleep, he was positive that someone would wake him up.
It was not the feel of a stranger’s hands on him that caused Sebastian to open his eyes; it was the familiar sound of an EKG machine beeping.
“What the hell?” he demanded, sitting up right. That was a bad idea. He instantly became light-headed and dizzy, and felt the I.V. in his arm tug painfully. His shout had brought the attention of a nurse.
“Good to see you’re awake, Mister Malone,” she said with a beam as she marched over to the machine to check his vitals. “Although, I must say, I was hoping we wouldn’t have to see you again quite so soon.”
“What happened? How long have I been here?”
“You fainted.” She reached for his hand, frowning when he pulled away. She grabbed again, and this time he let her. She pulled the medical tape off his elbow, and proceeded to remove the I.V.”You’ve had a slight case of bacterial pneumonia. Lucky we caught you when we did – it could have been much worse. You’ve only been here two days.”
“My… My work –”
“– Claims hospitalizations as acceptable reasons to call off.” She stared at him for a beat. “In all honesty, you seem perfectly healthy to me, Mister Malone. However, I don’t have the authority to send you home. I’ll go get a doctor.”
The doctor seemed particularly uninterested in Sebastian’s case. He went through the same procedure the nurse did, checked a couple of things on his chart, prescribed an anti-biotic and bed-rest, and sent him on his way.
Sebastian walked out of the hospital, feeling more than a little off balance. Physically he felt fine. Nausea, chest pain, dizziness; all gone. Even the pain in his hip had disappeared. But emotionally, he felt drained. This was the second hospital visit in as many months, and there was still no sign of his family.
God, he thought, looking down at the concrete as he walked, what kind of person must I have been that no one in my family wants anything to do with me?
He’d briefly entertained the idea that maybe they were dead, but he knew in his gut that that wasn’t the case. His family was alive, somewhere. They just… didn’t care.
Another factor adding to his distress was bills. Sure, his job paid him enough that he’d be able to pay his bills and rent, as long as he kept steady hours. But this made two hospital visits and medication. There was just no way he could financially keep afloat.
He bumped into someone’s shoulder.
“Hey!” the man snarled. “Watch where you’re going!”
“I’m sorry. It’s my fault, I wasn’t lookin-“
The man suddenly reached out, grabbing Sebastian by the front of his shirt and slamming him into the front of the nearest building.
“YOU!” The man’s eyes were wild, pupils fully dilated, bugging out of his head. “You! How did you…? How are you…?” He slammed Sebastian against the wall again, causing black spots to dance in his vision.
“I don’t… Who are you?”
Another slam. “More of your little tricks, eh? Nice try, but I know who you are.” He gave a high, wild laugh and jerked his hands up to encircle Sebastian’s throat.
“Haha! Still no magic, though! But, tell me, honestly, how did you survive?” Sebastian choked, and struggled to pry the man’s hands away from his windpipe. “No matter, no matter. I’ll just have to be more thorough this time.”May 19th, 2012 3 notes #syncretism fanfiction #frostiron #lokitony #TonyLoki