January 27, 2001 - Part I
David couldn’t understand how Kai could sleep with all the lights on. Growing up, David had always thought it strange how much Kai hated the dark. It wasn’t so much a fear in the same way that a child is afraid when the lights were out. It was a deeper, more complex emotion, and even though David prefered complete darkness to sleep, he’d eventually relented and convinced the Warden to put a nightlight in their room. After that summer when Kai was ten, he literally could not sleep without it.
Since Kai’s breakdown on Thanksgiving, though, Kai’s misgivings about the dark had transformed into a near phobia, and though he could sleep with a lamp on and the overhead lights off, Kai still often preferred as much light as was absolutely possible. After spending all that time with Kai in the hospital, David realized maybe that’s partially where Kai learned to sleep even with so much light, since night and day were almost indistinguishable in some of those rooms.
Jon had left for work about an hour ago, and now it was David’s job to try to coax Kai to get up, take his medicine, get dressed, and eat so they could head over to the bowling alley. David had already tried tapping Kai awake several times to no avail, and he suspected that actually getting Kai to the social was going to be harder than wrestling a hungry alligator.
Kai was on his side in his bed, curled up with his blankets pulled around him tightly. David tapped his shoulder hard. Kai didn’t respond, so David shoved him harder. This time Kai seemed to pull his blanket tighter around him. So David tugged at the sheets, trying to tear them away. But Kai resisted, and there was a momentary war of wills and strength, but David, because of his position and superior strength, won out and ripped the blanket away, pulling Kai onto his back in the process.
Kai looked up at David and yelled, whether he said any words or it was just a sign of his frustration, it was impossible for David to know. Kai then pushed against the mattress to roll back on his side, facing the wall, grabbing his legs to tuck himself into a ball.
David was used to this dance, since he’d had to fight with Kai to get up regularly since his release from the hospital. David poked Kai again, and when Kai refused to acknowledge him, forced Kai onto his back so that Kai could see him. Kai swatted at David’s grip, more irritated than panicky, and glared before pointedly shutting his eyes. If he couldn’t see David, David couldn’t talk to him.
David grunted, shoved Kai and stepped away. “Stubborn asshole,” David signed even if Kai couldn’t see it. Then he stormed into Kai’s bathroom, filled a cup with cold water, and returned, dumping it on Kai’s head without ceremony.
Kai’s eyes shot open and he screamed, his arms flailing.
David laughed. “Get up.”
“Fuck you,” Kai said, using his pillow to wipe his face and pushing his wet hair off his forehead. It hadn’t been a lot of water, but it was enough to at least get Kai to stop being quite so obstinate.
“You need to take your medicine and get dressed. We’re going bowling, remember?”
“I’m not going,” Kai said. He didn't roll over this time, but he did cross his arms tightly on his chest and close his eyes.
David sighed. He went to Kai's dresser, pulling open drawers and plucking out items of clothing. David had learned that depending on how harshly he pushed them closed, the drawers would make a noise. Normally, he tried to be careful around Megan or Kai, tried not to be noisy, but right now David slammed the drawers shut, determined to be as obnoxious as possible. Kai could be stubborn, but so could David.
"Go away. I'm not going," Kai signed without opening his eyes. He must have heard David approaching. His face was a mask of annoyance.
David tossed the clothes on one end of the bed, then kneeled on the mattress. He snagged one of the brace socks he'd gathered, then grabbed Kai's left leg, beginning to thread it over his friend's foot.
That snapped Kai out of his obstinance. Kai pushed himself up, his hands on the mattress, and tried to pull himself away with his upper body, while he tried to kick David with his right leg. Neither worked very well, and David was able to get the sock up to Kai's knee before Kai started trying to bend at the waist to force David away with his hands, or pull his leg away, anything to get out of David’s hold. Kai's movements were desperate, panicked, David realized now, not simply born of sheer stubbornness, so he released his friend.
Kai immediately gathered his legs to his chest, hugging them tightly, his shoulders rising and falling with rapid, terrified breaths. When he finally looked at David, his eyes were full of fear and betrayal.
David sighed. "I'm sorry, but you didn't give me a choice. Are you still there? What year is it?"
Kai didn't respond right away, and initially David worried he may have pushed Kai into a flashback. David knew Kai had issues with his freedom of movement being restrained. David realized he’d fucked up, even if he hadn't intended to trigger Kai's panic.
Kai took several harsh breaths. "2001," he finally replied without moving, so he bounced the numbers instead of sliding them.
"I'm sorry I scared you."
Kai nodded. He breathed deeply and slowly for several minutes as if to calm himself, then finally released one hand to sign. "Don't ever touch my legs like that again. Please." Kai's eyes were pleading. And defeated. “Especially my left.” Kai’s left leg was his weaker one; he had minimal control over the muscles in it below his hip. Especially if the angle was wrong, especially if his arms weren’t free, if someone got hold of Kai’s left leg, he wouldn’t be able to escape. Kai had started shaking.
“I promise.” David tossed Kai his clothes. “I’ll get your medicine if you’ll get dressed?”
“I can’t go to the social.”
“You need to go.”
Kai stretched his legs out with his hands, though he kept one on his left, smoothing his hand over his thigh nervously. “Deaf people touch a lot. I don’t think I could handle so much touching.”
“School starts in two days. If you can’t deal with your family,” David said, meaning the Deaf community, “how will you be able to go to class? You’ve only left the apartment a few times since you came home from the hospital more than a month ago, and nearly all of those were for doctor’s visits. It’s now or never.”
Kai picked at the hem of his boxers on his left leg. “What if I have a panic attack?”
David shrugged. “Then you have a panic attack. You’ll be OK. I’ll be with you.”
“It’s not that simple. I’m not even one of you anymore. I’m no one.” Kai signed angrily, but he pulled his left brace sock on the rest of the way and reached for the other one.
David waved his hand to get Kai to look up at him again. “That’s not true. We’ll go to the social. Stay a little while, and then leave. It’ll be good for you.”
Kai adjusted his right brace sock around his thigh. David could tell by his posture and facial expression that he was on the brink of changing his mind. “No one goes to a Deaf event for a ‘little while.’ We’ll be there till Monday morning, or until the bowling alley kicks us out, whichever happens first.” Kai smiled subtly. It was true that Deafies weren’t like hearing people. Partially because of the nature of their communication, a visual language, when Deafies got together, they lingered talking for hours and hours and hours. It was part of Deaf culture.
David chuckled, relieved to see Kai relaxing. Dr. Miller had explained to David and Jon how important it was for them to encourage Kai to get out of the apartment, how his anxiety disorder could become much more severe if he started having issues with going out in public. “I’ll stick to you like glue,” David promised. “And if you decide you need to leave, we’ll leave. People can think I’m rude. I’ll get over it.”
Kai took a deep breath. “I’ll need an extra dose of anxiety meds if you’re going to get me out the door.” Jon had locked all of Kai’s medications, except for a couple doses, in a safe with a random combination that only he and David had, for Kai’s protection. It meant that if Kai needed more than his standard dosages, he had to get Jon or David to give him the extra pills.
“Done,” David said with a nod. “I’ll get your meds. Get dressed. Then you need to eat some yogurt.”
Kai shook his head, his face turning up in disgust. Kai’s GI tract had been devastated by the infection, and even more than a month later, he was still not fully recovered. He was supposed to eat a serving of yogurt a day to help continue to rebuild his native bacteria in his gut, but Kai found the stuff nauseating. Sometimes he’d eat it if David snuck it into a smoothie, but even then, Kai seemed to be able to smell it anyway.
David sighed and rolled his eyes. “Fine. I guess if I get you to the social that’s good enough.”
Though Kai had cooperated, more or less, the remainder of the morning, when it came time to actually leave the apartment, he hesitated, standing in the doorway, staring out of it as if he were about to jump out of a plane.
“It’s OK. We’ll go in your car,” David assured him for the tenth time. They’d already had that argument. As irritating as it was for David to drive Kai’s car, his friend felt more comfortable in it. Even if Kai wasn’t allowed to drive because of all the medications he was on right now, the idea that he could if he had to was reassuring.
Kai’s gaze was fixed on David’s, even more intensely than a normal signed conversation allowed, desperately trying to convey how terrified he was without lifting his hands from his crutches.
“It'll be OK.”
Kai nodded. Took a deep breath. So deep that even with all the layers of outerwear, David could still see the shift in his chest and shoulders.
David breathed out his own sigh, this one of relief. He loved Kai, and he’d do anything for him, but his limited pool of patience was wearing thin. Kai was seriously going to have to get used to leaving the apartment, soon, if he was going to start school on Monday.
David watched as Kai carefully crutched to the passenger’s seat of his car, which David had parked backwards so that side would be over the striped extra space. David was ready to step in if his friend needed or wanted his help, but he knew Kai would prefer to do things himself. His anxiety might rule his life lately, but Kai still had his stubborn pride.
Eventually, Kai sank into the seat, tossing his crutches into the back, and David was able to get out of the brutal cold and join his friend. Though it didn’t really matter, because Kai resisted shutting the door. He shook his head. “I can’t do this. I can’t go to the social.”
“Please close the door. And you can. You will. You must.” David shifted in the driver’s seat so he was facing Kai more directly. “I’ll be with you the entire time.”
Kai had reluctantly pulled the door shut. He was trembling, his eyes closed, but he nodded. “Let’s go, then,” Kai signed without opening his eyes.
David resisted sighing too hard because he knew Kai would hear it and Kai didn’t need to know how exasperated David was with him right now. If David hadn’t been around this past month to constantly push, push, push Kai, it was possible Kai would have become one of those people who never left their apartments, which Kai’s shrink had warned could happen if Kai didn’t try to overcome his fears.
David glanced over at Kai one more time, but his friend still had his eyes tightly shut. His instinct was to tap Kai’s leg, but he decided he wasn’t going to startle Kai or give him fuel to further change his mind. He slipped his feet over the barrier that normally blocked Kai’s legs from the pedals, put the car in gear, and headed toward the bowling alley.
David was irritated with Kai. He was trying to hide it, but he couldn’t completely mask his exasperation, not from Kai. And how could Kai blame him? The last month Kai had been acting like a spoiled, surly child. No one except maybe Dr. Miller could understand how terrified Kai was all the time. The ironic thing about being afraid to leave the apartment was that Kai found his room in particular so steeped in memories of panic attacks and nightmares that it didn’t really bring him much consolation, and he was so afraid of being alone that the fact that he was afraid to be around other people was laughable. Those arguments had been what finally propelled him to get dressed and get in the car, even if every fiber of his being was currently screaming at him to make David turn around, to climb back under the covers. To hide.
Kai forced his eyes open. It was a shockingly bright winter’s day, not gray and overcast as it normally was this time of year, and Kai had to reluctantly admit that his little home town was looking beautiful in the height of winter, a light coating of fresh snow blanketing everything, the sharp cold making it all look a little crisper, even if the streets weren’t as busy as they would be during the warmer months. Even though Kai’s heart continued to beat out a rapid tango in his throat, he thought, Maybe I can do this. David was right. If he couldn’t handle today, how could he ever expect to manage class?
Kai concentrated on the scenery, on the familiar stores and businesses he’d passed so many times in his life, and on his breathing. As long as he could keep the panic at bay, he could do this. He’d be OK.
Kai had calmed, relatively, during the short drive to the bowling alley, but once David pulled into a handicapped spot and shifted into park, his trembling had begun again in earnest. David gave him a few minutes before--as lightly as possible--tapping him to get his attention. Kai’s face was completely bloodless when he turned to David, and he shook his head vehemently.
“I can’t,” Kai said, having to try more than once to manage the simple sign because he was shaking so hard.
“You can,” David said, making his face as earnest and reassuring as he could. “This is your family. You’ve always been comfortable in the Deaf community.”
Kai shook his head, but he didn’t sign anything else. His eyes instead darted around frantically, and his breathing ratcheted up dramatically.
Fuck. Kai was either going to panic or dissociate, or worse, both.
David lightly touched Kai’s shoulder to try to get him to look at him when waving didn’t work.
Kai flinched back and pressed against the door and the seat to try to create some distance, which was nearly impossible in the confines of the car. “Don’t touch. Don’t touch. Don’t touch.” Kai was shaking his head almost comically, his middle finger bouncing off the top of his opposite hand so intensely it looked more like a mockery of a telegraph than the sign for “touch.”
David held up his hands to signal he meant Kai no harm.
But Kai wasn’t seeing David. David could tell by how wide his friend’s eyes were, how his stare seemed to go through David instead of at him, by how Kai’s fear escalated ten notches, tears brimming in the corners of his eyes. It felt like the moment lasted forever, like time had slowed, like Kai was the proverbial deer in the headlights, but David knew it had only been seconds before Kai’s panic began in earnest and he began to flail, desperate to get away from David, to find an escape, struggling to work the lock and the door.
David debated locking it from his side to keep Kai in the car, but he worried that would only make things worse.
Kai was desperate, struggling with the door, blinded by his panic or perhaps lost in a memory--likely both--and unable to figure out the mechanism, which only magnified his fear. David had seen Kai panic dozens of times since his hospital stay, when the combination of his mental illness, the drugs, and the fever pushed Kai into a confused, frenzied delirium, and he’d witnessed Kai flashing back more than once, too, usually after a nightmare. But David had never seen Kai’s fear so raw as it was right now.
Kai struggled with the window and the door, occasionally glancing back at David, his face a rictus of terror, and David wasn’t sure if Kai imagined someone was chasing him, or what. He tried to talk to Kai a few times, but it was obvious that Kai wasn’t seeing David as such, and nothing he could sign would penetrate the panic.
Finally, Kai managed to release the door, falling out into the snow in a sudden heap. It startled David, and Kai, too. David rushed out of the car and around to check on his friend, who was sitting in the fresh snow, breathing heavily, but not panicking anymore. The shock of the cold perhaps bringing him back to reality.
Kai let himself fall backwards, oblivious to the fact that his legs were still tangled half in the car and half out, or that a soft fall of flakes was coating his body. His breath came out in rapid, visible puffs of air, his eyes staring up blankly.
David nudged Kai gently with one foot, relieved when his friend turned his head to meet David’s gaze without the vacancy of before. “What year is it?”
“2001,” Kai signed, though he looked wrecked. Completely, totally mortified now that he was coming down from the panic. He pushed against the ground to force himself up, wincing as it pulled his legs oddly, since they were caught in the footwell. He adjusted them, lifting them out and straightening them, and then he dropped his head. His shoulders shook for a moment.
David sank down to his knee, ignoring the cold, the snow that was falling more aggressively around them, and grazed Kai’s arm. David did his best to convey that everything was OK, that Kai didn’t need to be embarrassed, and maybe a little of, “It’s fucking freezing” with his eye gaze toward the falling flakes.
That made Kai laugh faintly, though his eyes held his shame, and fear still lingered there.
“Let me help you to your feet,” David offered. He knew Kai well enough that Kai couldn’t stand on his own directly from the floor. He’d have to maneuver himself to the car, pulling himself back into the seat first. Then he could stand.
Kai stared at David a long while, then around him as if he weren’t entirely sure how he’d ended up in the snow in the first place. But finally, he nodded. Just before he held out his hands for David to take, he gave him a warning with his eyes that said, Be careful. I’m trusting you.
David nodded, carefully braced himself despite the snow, his legs spread, and pulled Kai to his feet. Although Kai had six inches on him, especially with all the weight Kai had lost over the past couple months, David probably weighed fifty pounds more, even counting the extra from Kai’s braces. The maneuver wasn’t smooth, especially as the snow had melted beneath Kai’s body and created a slush that disturbed his footing, but David had the car as extra support, and he finally got Kai on his feet, although the momentum sent them toward each other, David with his arms ultimately around Kai’s torso to help hold him steady until Kai was certain he had his balance.
Hesitantly, David worked his way out from between Kai and the car and went around to Kai’s back, which was damp with snow. He brushed off whatever hadn’t melted yet, then made sure Kai could see him. “How wet are you?” David didn’t want to give Kai an excuse to cancel this outing, but he had to ask, “Do you need to change your pants?”
Kai was still dazed. Had he hit his head in the tumble from the car? He left one hand on the roof to support himself and the other explored his back and butt. Then he seemed to debate for a moment, looking between the car and the bowling alley, snowflakes catching in his blond lashes, his cheeks rosy from the cold. “If I go home, I won’t come back. I need to do this.” Kai didn’t sign with conviction, but it still made David proud. Kai was picking himself up--quite literally--and getting back on the horse, even if he didn’t want to.
“Are you sure you don't want your crutches?” David asked Kai for the third time. Once Kai had regained his balance and bearings, David had offered to grab them, but Kai had insisted he didn’t need them.
Kai nodded. “I need my hands free to sign.”
David nodded and locked the car. He was obviously doubtful, but wasn't going to argue. Kai knew why his friend was so hesitant. The snow made the walk especially treacherous, and it wasn't like Kai hadn't just had a full-blown panic attack, ending up in a heap. Kai's right hip and side were aching from where he'd landed on the metal support bar of his brace, and he'd probably wind up with a nice bruise, but the pain helped keep him focused. That was another reason Kai was opting to go crutchless: he'd have to focus on walking, on balancing, and it would force David to stay close. Plus, Kai could use the excuse of aching hips and legs to bow out any time.
Just as long as he didn't panic again. Or worse, flashback. Kai knew he had, in the car, before he'd fallen out of it on his ass, but he didn't remember what he'd seen. Opening his eyes in the parking lot had felt like he'd fallen through a time warp. Even the weather had changed, the bright, clear sky transforming into storm clouds and snow. In some ways, the blackout dissociations were the worst. What better way to realize you had no control over yourself than to lose chunks of time?
David touched Kai's arm, just enough to get Kai's attention. His eyes asked, again, if Kai was sure, then, when he seemed to see his answer, got on Kai's right side and offered his arm, waiting for Kai to take the lead.
Even though the cold had steeped into Kai's bones, he took a moment to study the entrance. Slopes were awkward without crutches if he didn’t have anything to hold onto, but stairs were equally challenging because of his locked left leg. Four short, long stairs led up to the entrance to the bowling alley, or there was the ramp, neither of which had anything for him to hold onto. The snow didn't help. Maybe attempting to go without crutches was a mistake.
Finally, Kai decided to try the stairs, easing toward the curbcut, using David’s strength on Kai’s stronger side to help pull his weaker left leg along. Together, they made the slow but steady climb, David always there for Kai to rely on if he felt a little uncertain while tilting his body to lever his straight left leg up each step, David seamlessly adjusting as necessary so Kai never felt as if he were at risk of falling. Kai’s stomach hummed with anxiety. More than once, his footing wasn’t as sure as he’d expected it to be because of the fresh snow masking hidden ice, and it felt like his heart was trying to leap out of his mouth. But every time David was there, adjusting his own weight to support Kai’s, never once giving Kai a chance to slip, stumble, or fall.
The only other person Kai had ever trusted like this was Troy, who had been Kai’s physical therapist for most of his life. Normally, Kai only trusted himself. Even if he didn’t have all his mobility aids, he knew his limitations, knew what he could or couldn’t use to stabilize himself. Not that Kai was afraid of falling, per se. Not in the same way he was afraid of overwhelming darkness or confinement, anyway. He’d fallen a lot growing up, especially in high school when the Mexitil robbed him of his normal ability to balance and coordinate even his muscles that normally cooperated. (Not to mention bullies stealing his crutch pins or tripping him on purpose.) He just--understandably--preferred to stay upright. As his right leg currently reminded him, falling on cold, hard ground with his braces on was not generally fun.
The two of them were both shivering from the cold, Kai more than David since his jeans were still slightly damp from his tumble, by the time they finally reached the door. Snow coated their hair and any surface it had managed to cling to. Once David was certain Kai was stable and balanced, he separated, stepping forward to pull the door open. Kai was hesitant to walk alone, but this portion of the walkway had been salted recently, and David had brought him as close to the door as he could while still giving him room to open it. Plus, David stood in such a way, holding out an arm, that if Kai needed it or felt unstable, David would be there for Kai to reach out to and/or catch him, if necessary.
“Damn, you’re still a stubborn asshole,” David said, but he flashed Kai a gleeful wink that said he was teasing.
Even with Kai’s reluctance to leave his bed that morning, and despite his panic attack and stubborn trudge up the stairs, Kai and David were early, by Deaf time, for the social, even though by conventional standards, they were late. It meant the bowling alley was relatively empty, which David had planned intentionally. He figured if Kai arrived early, he might not even notice the place slowly filling up with people, or at least he’d have time to adjust. If they’d shown up right in the midst of the throng, Kai would probably never have agreed to stay.
David followed Kai through the foyer of the bowling alley. On level ground, Kai’s walk was decent, more confident. Still, David kept nearby, ready to be there to support his friend physically or otherwise, if necessary. It had hurt, initially, when Kai had turned to Jon instead of David back in November, but over the past few months the two of them had become even closer than they’d been back at County House, and David knew that Kai didn’t readily trust anyone with his mobility the way he just had.
Just off the front door, there was a table, manned by two middle-aged ladies who had run the Jonesville Deaf Club social events like this since David and Kai were kids. David could never remember their full names, only their namesigns, but they didn’t care as long as he was polite. One of them had her hair dyed a horridly fake red and almost always made some sort of comment about David’s naturally vibrant color, and the other had stopped dying her hair entirely and let it go snow white. They made quite an amusing pair.
“David! And . . . is that really Kai? My God, I heard you were back, but I didn’t believe it. I haven’t seen you since you were this high,” the redhead said, her arthritic hands moving faster than David would have expected.
“We should change your namesign,” the snowy-haired lady added, demonstrating a K (emphasizing the index finger up as if it were a person) sliding up along her sideways facing palm. The namesign was suggestive of Kai’s height.
“You can call me whatever you want,” Kai said, and it was polite, not snarky. It was almost nauseating how well Kai was playing them, especially when he continued, pointing to each of them and confirming their names, “Mary and Emma, right?” Then following with their namesigns, getting it all right. How the hell did Kai remember that?
The two women practically shook with delight that Kai remembered them, and insisted he didn’t need to pay the entrance fee since this was his first event. David resisted rolling his eyes, since he knew they were only saying that because Kai was flirting with them. Kai had always been brilliant at reading people and giving them exactly what they wanted if it suited his purpose. David also knew that slipping into his charming persona was Kai’s way of keeping control. It was likely, if the panic attack in the car was any indication, that Kai was freaking out inside.
The old ladies kept Kai talking for several minutes, inquiring where he’d been and what he was up to now, and David was surprised by Kai’s honesty. He admitted he’d been sick, but that he was better now, and that he was a student at JU.
“Good to see the hearies haven’t stolen you away from us completely,” the redhead--Mary--apparently, said.
Kai hesitated a moment, and David could see by the subtle shift in his body language that Kai’s anxiety was beginning to seep through despite the light-hearted demeanor he conveyed to the two women. “Deaf heart,” Kai said, tapping the letter “D” against his chest. “Always.”
The two women continued to chat Kai up, bragging about their grandchildren and other nonsense that old women always seemed interested in, and David was desperately searching for a way to extract them, because Kai might have the patience of a saint, but David certainly didn’t.
“It was good to see you, ladies, but I can’t be on my feet too long. Weak legs, remember?”
The two of them both looked at each other, a little flustered, and then rushed to apologies. “Oh, of course. And you young people aren’t here to socialize with a bunch of old women anyway. Have fun! It was nice seeing you!”
David could almost see the relief in Kai’s body, though he was struggling to maintain his front. Once they were away from the table and the other people who had begun filtering in, David pulled Kai aside and turned so their signs were hidden from most of the prying eyes. “I don’t understand how you could flirt with those two.”
Kai shrugged. “All my life, pretending is what’s gotten me past being myself. I’m good at it, and if it keeps me from freaking out in front of half of Jonesville’s Deaf community, then so be it. Besides, there’s an English expression: you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
“Yeah, I know it. It’s one of the few English sayings I can visualize. But why is it you’re always nice to people you hardly know, but you’re an asshole to your friends?”
Kai waved his hands in front of David’s face with a mocking expression, as if to suggest David hadn’t seen anything he’d signed. “Pretending, remember? I’m an asshole under all my layers. You’re just lucky you get to see the real me.” Kai’s shoulders fell and he just looked tired. “This was a bad idea. We should leave now before anyone else sees us.”
“I was teasing you, Kai,” David said sincerely. “Why don’t we head over to the bar and I’ll buy you a drink.” David reached up and felt Kai’s forehead, though Kai flinched from the contact. “You’re freezing. Maybe something to warm you up? If you get sick, your brother will kill me.”
Kai looked like he wanted to lean on David for support again, but not for physical reasons this time, but he was very conscious of everyone around them, and he straightened his back. “I’ll be fine. No alcohol.”
David brightened, partially to help boost his friend’s mood. “Come on, live a little.”
“Living is exactly why I shouldn’t drink. Don’t push me on this,” Kai said, his eyes fiercely serious.
“Fine. Chill.” David headed toward the bar, moderating his stride so he was never far from Kai. Part of him did wonder if Kai was right, if this had been a bad idea, but he pushed the thought away. Kai was notorious for being a turtle: withdrawing from the world and relying on his shell of personas and distance to protect himself, and without a push when he got like that, he was at risk for becoming little more than a husk of person who barely existed. Or worse. Despite his inclination to pull away from people, Kai really did feel much better when he was being social, and even if the process of getting Kai back into the world was a little painful, someone had to be the one to do it. David had done it before. He could do it again.
Continue to January 27, 2001 - Part II ------>