“You silly sod C.” Liam murmured to me where I was snuggled in his arms. “You’ve gotten yourself in to a state haven’t you? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t want to.”
“Why?” He asked, shifting his head to look at me, curled against his chest, so that I had to look at him.
“I don’t know… I guess, telling people made it real.”
“Now it’s so real I think I’d rather die on the table tomorrow.”
He shoved me and then collected me back in to his arms.
“Don’t be stupid. Where would I be without you huh?” He rubbed my arm comfortingly. “Now what’s this about the testing?”
I looked around the room, glad the others had decided to give me space when I’d asked for it. If only Sam and Anna had done that, I wouldn’t have been so mad at them. But then maybe I would’ve. Don’t they say that you hurt the people you love most?
“I just don’t want anyone having to make that choice Liam.”
“Sounds like Sam and Anna have made up their minds.”
“Yeah, until they get tested, and they’re a match and it suddenly becomes real to them and they realise they can’t put themselves in danger. And even if they did, which they would, crazy fuckers, I’d be-“ I stopped.
“You’d be what?” Liam encouraged me.
“Stuck with them.” I finished and them immediately went to explain. “That sounds horrible, I don’t mean it like that, it’s just that if they gave me a kidney, and anything happened… I just feel like it’d be there, hanging over us.”
“So, the whole Sam vs. Anna thing that went on. I feel like if anything of that volume happened again; a fall out between me and Anna, an argument, Sam and I… breaking up,” saying that hurt my chest, constricted it to stop me breathing, “anything like that… I feel like, even if they didn’t say it, they’d be thinking ‘I gave you a kidney’. You know?”
There was a pause where Liam absentmindedly strummed his fingers against my arm, like he did against whatever surfaces were close to him during moments of deep thought. Then he stopped.
“Well, at least we know one thing.”
“You cannot let Jak give you a kidney.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because we’ll never hear the end of it. It’ll be, ‘hey guys, guess who got inside Cara?’” I chuckled and shook my head. “Or… ‘I knew Cara’d always wanted a piece of me, so I gave her one she’ll never forget.” I laughed and batted his stomach lightly.
“Heard that.” Jak poked his head inside. “Don’t worry Cara. My heart belongs to Ali, but my kidneys are yours to do with whatever dirty little thing you please.”
I heard him be yanked out by Ali who scolded him and then popped an apologetic and tear stained face in to the room for a moment before leaving to boot Jak upstairs.
“I do believe they’re off for another round.” Liam murmured. I smiled. “In all seriousness though C, I think you need to lighten up on the testing thing. I mean, refuse a kidney, which I think you’d be an idiot to do by the way, but don’t refuse the tests. It gives them something to do, to feel like they’re helping you in a situation that only you can really know how to face, how to feel.”
“Jeez, when did you get so enlightened?”
“When my best friend told me she’s ill and might leave me alone with Jak forever. I mean, how would I find another singer? You remember the difficulty I had first time round.”
I punched him gently and then sat up, untangling myself from my, for all intents and purposes, brother.
“I know I’ve been tough on them but it’s like… Sam I get it, I do… she wants to have that option; she’d give me a kidney no questions and honestly, I don’t believe she’d hold it against me. But Anna… after all that’s happened… I just feel like if I took a kidney from her it’d always be there… “
“…kind of the point C.”
“Ha ha. No I mean… she’d always have that, and I feel like maybe sometimes that’d be the only thing holding us together. She’s so… flighty. You should have seen her, when I said I didn’t want her coming here. I mean, I did it because I didn’t want her to have to stick there, be strong… you should’ve seen her this morning; I’ve never seen her hold off tears for so long over something upsetting. She really held us together as well as she could. But as soon as she started begging to come I knew she’d have to sit here, being the strong one, and she isn’t ready for that yet. She’d have broken down and you know what?”
“What?” He asked, glad to give me a breather in my rant.
“For once, I’m not the one having to do that. I don’t have to be strong because it’s bad and it’s happening to me, and she couldn’t even keep strong for me for one day. One day. I’ve kept strong for weeks for her. WEEKS. When she wouldn’t speak to me, because she found out I was gay. I’d only just found out, I needed her, but she went off and sulked. When she wanted me and so did Sam, I had to keep strong because I couldn’t cry to my best girlfriend about it, because she was too busy making me choose. And you know what? I need her again. I need her to be strong. I need her to let me deal with this my way, without drawing the attention back to herself by crying because I won’t let her do everything with me and she can’t hack it! Liam, I’ve spent my life putting other people first and when it’s me that can’t… that’s ill… it’s like they won’t let me have things how I want. I’m there for whatever whoever it is needs when they need it, but when it’s me, they don’t listen. They just throw sympathy at me, throw ‘you don’t have to be by yourself’ at me, and maybe, just maybe, I need some time alone. Maybe I need to sort myself out before they pile on the sympathy parade. Maybe, just maybe, I want her to stop getting the attention for once!”