Just Hit 'Send' - The College Years

by Grasshopper

Ch. 5

Jordan wiped the ice cream off his son's face, laughing at the little scrunched up squirrel faces he was making. "You're a mess, little man."

"You a mess too, Dada," Joshie scrubbed at Jordan's chin with his daddy's tie. He gave up and threw his arms around his daddy's neck and hugged on tight.

"Yeah......I am," Jordan let the thought run through his mind. "I almost forgot something, Josh." He walked quickly back to the park bench, scooped up the birthday card and brushed it off, knowing he hadn't forgotten it, knowing he'd never forget. Slipping it back in his jacket pocket, he looked off toward the distance for a minute, willing Dan to appear, knowing that it wasn't gonna happen. How did things go so wrong? How did he lose the one person who meant more to him than anything?

That night, after dinner, he left Josh with his mom for bath time and walked out onto the still sun-warm sand. It was the only place he could still feel Danny, here on the beach where they'd planned on being together forever. Sitting down on the softly packed dune, the sea grass waving gently around him, he felt the tears. He had long ago realized that you never run out of tears, even when you try. They just keep flowing.

He heard the back screen door slam and Markie's voice calling him, "Jordy, Josh is ready for bed." He stood up, brushed the sand off his jeans and went in to tuck his son in for the night.

"Dada...tell the story bout the 2 boys. Please Dada."

Markie leaned against the door jam, her eyes on Jordan as he began the well told tale. "Once upon a time, Prince Sadness lived in a high high tower in a land where no one understood him. Then, one day, beautiful Prince Happiness came riding up to the bottom of the tower, his shining black curls catching the sunlight................." She could hear the tears in his voice.

Loud screeching, metal ripping noises, people yelling, pain. Cold, so damn cold. Danny? Dan? His arms reached out, reaching for Danny. He tried to hold on.........he felt him slip away.

Jordan woke up to the sound of silence. His eyes jerked open. Dan? Dan! He felt the starched sheet, smelled the medicinal hospital odor and knew exactly where he was. Oh God! Icy street...where was Danny? He lurched to sit up and found that he couldn't. He felt something tying his hands down. Flat on his stomach, no pillow. 'Why can't I move?'

"Jordan? Well, good morning, sweetheart," an unfamiliar voice said cheerfully. He heard the swishing of clothing and turned his head toward the sound. A nurse was adjusting his IV and checking the drip. "How are you feel............," she started.

"Danny! Where's Danny?" Jordan tried to pull himself free but she laid her hands on his arms firmly.

"Now, now. You can't move right this sec, Jordan. You need to stay still."

"Where's Danny? Daniel Trainor...the boy in the car with me! Where is he?"

Jordan wanted to scream.

"He's in another part of the hospital. He's going to be fine. You'll see," she spoke in that voice that no one in the hospital ever trusts.

"He's not.......................God! He's not.............." Jordan pulled at the restraints and then a wave of blackness rose up and slammed him in the face.

Jerry, Markie and Missy huddled inside the waiting room, not knowing what else to do. They had given the doctor parent's names and phone numbers and now they just waited. All they knew was that Jordan had a severe laceration across his back and Danny was in ICU.

"That means Danny's in a lot more trouble, right?" Markie whispered, her eyes full of tears.

"Yeah. Poor guy. All his troubles and now this!" Jerry sighed.

"He won't.....he won't...............," Missy couldn't finish the sentence.

"He can't. If he did, Jordan would too."

All three understood exactly what he meant.

David and Claire arrived the next afternoon, the drive up filled with worry and unspoken fears. "I lost one. I will not lose another," David kept muttering. He entered the hospital, the old smells gagging him as he remembered all too well the nights spent pacing while Adam lay dying.

"Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence?" The doctor found them in the waiting room on the 4th floor E. "I'm Ben McCray, Jordan's physician." He shook David's hand and then turned to Claire. "Jordan will be fine. He suffered a severe laceration to his back but luckily the cut wasn't deep enough to damage any major organs. He will have a scar but he's lucky. He has several cuts and a lot of swelling and bruising from the impact. He will rather colorful for awhile but he will be fine."

He led them to room 416 and they walked in to see their son sound asleep, face down on the bed, IVs sticking out of his right hand, an ugly violent red gash running from his left shoulder to the small of his back sutured together with butterfly clips.. "Why is he tied down?" Claire gasped.

"He needed to be restrained because we don't want him rolling over on his back. Plus, every time he wakes up, he tries to get out of the bed. He's rather agitated."

Jordan could hear voices. He wanted to wake up. He needed to wake up. He needed to find Dan! Willing himself to open his eyes, he felt his mama's hand holding his. "Mama?"

"Hey there, you," her voice flowed over him.

"Mama," he sighed. All the held back tears, all the fear........just flowed from his hand to hers. "Danny? Mama, they won't tell me anything." He started to thrash at the wrist straps.

"Shhhh, sweetheart. Mama's here. Everything will be fine now. I'll find out. Dr. McCoy, may I talk to you in the hall? David, stay here with Jordan."

David looked startled but came over and ruffled Jordan's hair. "Hey, son. The icy road jumped up and bit you, huh big guy?"

Claire asked bluntly, "Doctor? The other boy, Daniel Trainor, in the car with my son? How is he?"

"His parents are here with him. He's in ICU and hasn't regained consciousness. He sustained more severe injuries even though Jordan tried to shield him."

"What do you mean?"

"Daniel didn't have on his seat belt. Jordan tried to get to him, to hold on but Daniel went through the windshield. Jordan's back was caught on the broken glass of the windshield."

"And Danny?"

"He has a splintered femur in his right leg, his left knee is shattered. His right arm is broken in two places, glass punctured his right lung and he suffered severe head trauma. I'm the most concerned about that at the moment."

Claire sunk against the wall. 'Oh Jordan', she murmured. 'Oh poor sweet Danny. Haven't they suffered enough?"

She walked softly back into the room and watched as David tried to ease Jordan, not understanding at all why his son was determined to get out of the bed.

Taking a deep breath, holding tightly to Jordan's hand but staring into her husband's eyes, Claire said softly, "Danny's alive, sweetheart." She watched the name sink into David's mind and watched his brows knit together. "He's hurt, Jordan. His parents are here with him."

"Hurt how, Mama? Hurt how much? Mama, tell me." He began to struggle again and Claire put her hands on his face, calming him.

"Hush now, Jordan. He's sleeping. He broke a few bones and hit his head. He'll be fine. Shhhhhhh."

All the fight left Jordan's body. He crumpled into the bed and lay still, his eyes shut. 'Dan? God, Dan. Danny???' He couldn't feel him. Where he usually saw the laughing blue eyes, there was nothing.

His eyes jerked open. "I need to go where he is. He never wore his seat belt. I told him. I told him !!! I have to see him. Please........I have to!!" The nurse flicked the IV up and Jordan fought the darkness.

"Claire? What the hell?" David asked, his voice strident.

"Not now, David. Now's not the time to discuss any of this. You didn't want to know, so you didn't. I'm going to see Danny. You stay here with your son."

Claire found Danny's parents sitting on either side of his bed, each holding a hand, his mother's face streaked with tears, his dad's eyes strickened.

"I'm so sorry," Claire rushed to say.

"No one's fault," Fran Trainor answered quickly. "The ice,,,,,,," her face crumpled and she fell into Claire's arms.

Patting Fran, Claire looked over at Ernest. "I know about the injuries. How is he? Has he waked up at all?"

"No, he is breathing on his own but he doesn't seem to want to wake up. We're just waiting." His grip on his son's hand tightened. "How's Jordan?"

"He'll be all right but he's so worried about Danny that he won't calm down.

Could I ask if they might bring him down here? It might ease him."

"Of course. Maybe Danny will wake up to Jordan's voice."

Struggling to forget the pain in his back, Jordan leaned way forward in the wheelchair. He didn't see anything as the nurse wheeled him to ICU. His mind was filled with unknown fears. When they stopped by the bed, he looked at Mr. and Mrs. Trainor.

"I.......I let him get hurt."

"No, Jordan. Don't blame yourself. It was an accident. He'll be fine."

He could hear the murmuring voices but all he saw was Danny, laying there so quiet, so still, like.........death. Even with the slight rise and fall of his chest, Danny wasn't with him. He couldn't find him anywhere inside his head.

"Mama, help me." Claire held out her hands and Jordan pulled himself up. He grimaced in pain but threw it aside and walked over to the bedside, leaning close to Danny's face, kissing his mouth gently.

"Dan? Hey baby. Can you hear me? Wake up. We've got stuff to do, you and me. You can't sleep all day." He turned and asked, tears running down his face, "Could I talk to him alone for just a second, please?" They left quietly to stand in the hall.

"Danny? Where are you, baby? Nothing's so bad you can't wake up. I'll always be here. Remember what we said? Always and forever, Danny. I wish I could spoon up behind you and hold you so tight. I can't do this alone. I've never told you but you make me who I am.....you're my center. I can't do this without you. Wake up, Danny, my blue-eyed boy. I love you." He leaned in and kissed Danny's closed eyelids, his cheeks, his forehead, every place he could find that wasn't cut or scratched.

'Jordy', Danny thought. 'Jordy's here.' He felt the butterfly kisses; he heard the soft soothing tones, knew his Jordy was somewhere close. He couldn't move. He couldn't speak but he knew.

"Dan is stabilized," Dr. McCray told the group gathered in the waiting room, his eyes directed toward Mr. and Mrs. Trainor. "We can fix his legs and his arm and patch the hole in his lung. The one thing we can't do is wake him up. He has to do that himself."

He turned to Jordan's mother. "Mrs. Lawrence, may I have a word with you?"

He took her elbow and they walked down the hall to Jordan's room. He was asleep, flat out on his stomach, arms released now. "May I ask what the relationship is between your son and Daniel?"

Claire frowned. "They're friends, roommates. Why?"

The doctor pulled the sheet down to let the soft bedside light shine on a blue tattoo Property of DAT . "Danny has one just like it except that it says JAL . The only reason I ask is that Danny needs all the help he can get to come out of this and I need to know if Jordan is the one to do that."

He watched Jordan's mother stare at the tattoo....so private, so forbidden, her eyes clouded over and closed as she pressed her hand to her heart. But when they opened, it was with resolution and love. "Jordan and Danny love each other very much. They've been together for four years. If anyone can help Danny, it's my son."

"Do Danny's parents know? Does your husband?"

"Yes, they all know. The Trainors are wonderful people and love Jordan. My husband................," she trailed off, then added, "He knows, down deep inside, he's always known."

Dr. McCray nodded. 'Brave mother,' he thought. 'Jordan's a lucky boy'. "Let's go back out and let me tell Danny's parents what I want to do."

He gathered the four grownups and looked at each in turn. "Mr. Lawrence, Mr. and Mrs. Trainor. We need to wake Danny up. I think we all know who can do that best. I want to put Danny in the room with Jordan and see if that won't do the trick." He saw the Trainors nod their heads in agreement but David Lawrence turned and walked over to the window.

Claire walked over to the window and rested her head on David's arm. "You knew it was coming. Just not this way."

"We''ll let him stay, to help the Trainor boy, but then I want him home where we can help him." Claire was too tired to argue. She just patted his shoulder and stood with him looking out into the dark night sky.

They moved Danny after the 3 hour surgery to put pins in his leg, a plate in his knee, pins in his arm and tend to the tiny puncture to his lung. His body would mend, it was his head they were all worried about.

Jordan lay still, his face turned toward Danny. Every time people left the room, he began to talk. "Dan? I know you can hear me. Open those blue eyes, baby. Look at me. We need to plan where we're gonna live.....you want a house on the beach? I'll teach and you can do your therapy thing. What color will we paint the house? I want a porch swing. I want to sit out there at night when the sun goes down, your head in my lap, just smoothing all the worries off you face. Dan? I want you so bad right now." He talked and talked; his throat got dry but he kept on whispering, anything, everything.

On the third day, Dr. McCray told Claire that Jordan could leave, that his injuries were under control, the threat of infection was slight.

"We'll take him home," David said firmly.

"We will not," Claire answered.

David inhaled sharply. "Claire!!"

"Markie and Jerry will take care of his back. They already promised and David..............Jordan will not leave. Believe me!"

"But..........," he spluttered, "He needs us right now."

"David," Claire sighed. "Jordan needs to stay here. He needs.......Danny."

"We'll see about that." He walked abruptly into Jordan's room and over to the bed.

"Jordan. I want you to come home with us for a few days. The doctor says you can leave the hospital."




"No? Young man? Did you say no?"

"I won't leave Danny. I'm staying right here in Tallahassee until he in out of this hospital and then I'm gonna take care of him until he's well. I am not leaving Dan." Jordan's face was set in a mirror image of his father's, both Lawrence men stubborn, neither listening.

"If you stay here with.......him, don't ever think you can bring him home."

Claire grabbed David's arm. "Hush, Danny may be able to hear you."

"I hope he can. This is immoral and I won't stand for it."

"This is neither the time nor the place for this conversation," Claire said firmly. "David, go away. We'll talk later."

Turning to Jordan, she softened. "Jordan, don't go at your daddy today. He's got a lot to absorb here. He just wants what he thinks is best for you. Don't push it right now."

"I'm not leaving Dan, Mama. "

"Nobody's going to make you. Shhh."

Claire was in the middle and she didn't like it. She didn't want to have to make a choice.

Danny felt the bed move slightly. He knew that smell, that touch, those whispers. "Danny? Can you hear me? I had to touch you, baby. I'm just gonna cuddle right here so I can feel you. I promise to be still." Danny drifted back into the darkness, the feel of Jordan's fingers on his face.

"Mr. Trainor. Mrs. Trainor," Dr. McCray stood beside Danny's bed, watching the sad expressions on the parent's faces. "WHEN Danny wakes up, he's going to need more help than he ever has. You understand that? He won't be able to use his braces at all and with the broken arm even the wheelchair is out for the time being. He's going to have to go home with you."

"Of course, doctor. We know that. He will get past these injuries, right?"

"It will be important that he not become depressed or anxious because he will get extremely frustrated. He can get past all this with your help."

"What about Jordan?"

"I know Jordan thinks or hopes that he can take care of Danny but he can't, not right now. He needs more than Jordan can give him."

Danny listened carefully. He was a mess. Jordan would want to help him, like he always did, but this time.........this time, he couldn't. A single tear slid out of the corner of his eye. Finally, Danny had the chance to be the strong one and it hurt too much to even think about.

Danny swam slowly to the surface. He could hear soft voices; his mother, Jordan's mother. They were murmuring quietly as mothers are apt to do.

He couldn't feel his legs but that was nothing new. He could feel the pain of his arm and the intrusion into his chest. He lay there quietly, just listening to the words flow over and past him.

"We'll take him home when he wakes up. He won't be able to fend for himself for awhile. The braces and the wheelchair won't be of any use until his arm mends."

"That will break Jordan's heart."

"I know. But we have to do what's best for Danny right now and Jordan can't take care of him, not like this."

Danny heard Jordan's voice. He wanted to scream, "I'm right here, Jordy!" but he lay silent. Something in his heart was whispering, "Shhhhhh."

"I can take care of him," Jordan sobbed. "I always take care of Dan."

"Jordan, you can't go to school and do everything for Danny too. He needs his mom and dad right now."

"He needs ME. I'll quit school."

"Jordan, shhhhhh, don't be silly. Would Danny let you do that?"

Danny could hear the frustration in Jordan's voice. "No. he'd hate it," he said finally.

'Yes, I will hate it', Danny thought. 'But I can't mess up your life anymore.'

Danny lay still till everyone left and the room got quiet. He thought of all the times Jordan had helped him, carried him, waited for him; never complaining, always there. He couldn't make him do it anymore. He was going to stop being a selfish prick and let Jordan free. Jordan deserved so much more and he was going to see that he got it. He'd been alone before Jordan and he'd be alone now. No big deal. All through the long night, Danny stared at the ceiling, willing himself to do the right thing.

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