Sunday, July 16, 2000

Previously On... In/Exhale, Season Three, Part I

Previously, on In/Exhale . . .
(Episodes 57-83)

The season starts with a flashback to set the tone and remind us that what Kai is going through right now isn’t so foreign to him. He’s depressed about being alone after David aged out, about not fitting in at the hearing high school and being forced to speak. Frankie, a kid who always idolized Kai, tries to cheer him up and succeeds in unknowingly talking Kai out of suicide.

Shifting into the present, the season begins in earnest with Kai and Renee’s reunion. They were separated completely for the rest of 2000, since Kai was in the hospital, first for his mental illness and then for a severe GI infection that nearly took his life. He finally was discharged for good just in time for Christmas, spending a quiet holiday with Vicky, who went out of her way to give Kai the kind of Christmas he’d always dreamed of having. Dinner, decorations, presents. She remodeled her house to accommodate him if he decided to move in with Jon, and gifted him a special recliner so he’d always have his own spot to feel comfortable.
Renee did have the opportunity to see Kai at last once the new year rolled over, but only in supervised visits with Jon or special sessions with Dr. Miller, partially to get them both comfortable with each other once again. It’s a special afternoon since it’s her first chance being alone with him. Things are a little awkward, at least at first. Kai has lost a lot of weight since Renee last saw him, and soon learns his diet has changed, partially because of his infection and partially because of his anxiety. No more sugary foods for the man with the enormous sweet tooth.
Kai interprets a special song for Renee, her belated Christmas gift and his unique way of telling her that he will do the best he can if she will agree to stay with him. Despite that, Kai gives her the opportunity to bow out, for them to just be friends, even though it’s clear that isn’t what he wants. However, Renee commits to him and admits she loves him, something she’d realized back in November but hadn’t had the chance to tell him.
David shows up and the three of them play games and joke around. Renee learns a little more about Kai and what he was like growing up, although she becomes upset when she discovers just how sick Kai was, since both Kai and Jon had downplayed it. David has been largely responsible for watching over Kai since his release from the hospital, ensuring he takes care of himself and eats when he’s supposed to, since Kai’s anxiety and depression mean he doesn’t exactly focus on self-care.
Jon arrives home shortly after David and Renee leave, and is horrified when he sees that Kai is wearing a shirt David gave him that says, “I put the HOT in psychotic.” They argue and their mother comes up, and Jon finally hands over a tape of one of her sessions with Dr. Looney, a psychiatrist who also treated Kai while he was an inpatient. Kai watches the video without the sound, marveling at how similar he and his mother are. Not just in physical appearance--Kai has her hair and eyes--but in her body language and mannerisms. He finally decides Jon is right, that he’s not ready to learn more about her right now, and stores the tape for later.

The next day David takes Kai to a Deaf bowling social as a way to slowly work Kai back into the real world. Since Thanksgiving, Kai has been tucked away, either in the hospital or at home, only leaving the house for doctor appointments. This is the first time he’s really gone out, since November, and it’s not easy. He panics several times and even has a blackout flashback in the bowling alley parking lot.
However, all in all the outing is a success. Kai realizes that he can manage in the real world, even if it isn’t easy, and that he’s been missed in the Deaf community. He even manages to have a little fun. Best of all, Jon and Kai make up, and Jon admits that Kai gets his charisma from their mother.

Monday is Kai’s first day back at school. It’s difficult, and he has more than one panic attack, but he makes it through the day, largely with Renee’s help, whom he becomes a bit more physically comfortable with again. He also relapses in his self-harm. Kai meets a spark of a girl named Steve in his psych class, and an intimidating female professor named Pelto in his writing class. Kai’s English fails him epically, and that evening Jon admits that Kai was so sick with the infection back in December he had to make a choice to use an antibiotic that could potentially damage Kai’s inner ear. It was a delayed effect and a risk Jon decided to take, but now Kai is faced with the possibility of becoming deaf.

The next day, Kai sees Dr. Miller, taking over a session he and his brother were supposed to share, and she helps him work through his confusing feelings about his hearing loss and going back to school. He goes to JMH for some of his anniversary testing, since it’s been about eighteen months since he had his transplant, including bloodwork and a derm appointment. However, partially because he’s worried about his hearing loss, Kai’s anxiety is high. He has a panic attack in the phlebotomy lab, and then another major one during his derm appointment in which he has a flashback and passes out. He wakes up later as an inpatient. He has a psych eval in which he uses an interpreter--George, who he’s used to--and fortunately the resident is understanding and had spoken with Dr. Miller so he realizes that the psych ward wouldn’t do Kai any favors, much to Kai’s relief. However, he can’t go home until his blood pressure stabilizes.
Meanwhile, the strain of Kai’s mental illness (especially how it dredges up old wounds of their mother), added to the stress of work and his coming baby are starting to affect Jon to the point that Vicky is concerned about him.

The following morning Kai is surprised with a visit from Renee. Despite having hid from her last year, he finds he’s grateful for her visit and confesses about his hearing problem and his fear of losing her as a result of it. But Renee reassures him. She not only makes him feel like she’d be attracted to him no matter what--even in an ugly hospital gown--but also that she’ll love him “without limits,” as she struggles to express in sign: unconditionally.
Shortly after Renee leaves, Kai throws up after a failed attempt to eat so he could be discharged. Jon was called to an emergency, so Jo comforts him in a way Kai doesn’t let many do, but she took care of him so much as a child he gave her the sign name “Mom,” even if he knows she’ll never be that for him.
Megan, David’s fiancee and Jon’s ASL tutor, has been shadowing George so she can become a medical interpreter at the hospital. She doesn’t enjoy it, but it pays very well, and with all the down time she could potentially take on some kind of second job. That’s money she and David could really use since he’s still been unsuccessful in finding permanent, white collar work. They’re called to interpret for a Deaf mother who brought in her Deaf son because of breathing problems. Jon’s the physician who answers the call. It’s Megan’s first time being thrust into the driver’s seat for an emergency interpreting job, and she’s nervous. If she freezes or messes up, someone could die. Fortunately, George steps in when necessary and encourages her, and together they help reassure the confused mother when things take a turn for the worse with her son and Jon--who’s gotten the new nickname “Taylor the Tiger”--kicks her out of the room.
Kai finally gets discharged and stops by to reassure the worried mother now that her son is in ICU. He offers to call a few people from the Deaf community to help her out, but where she comes from she and her son are the only Deaf and doesn’t understand why anyone would help someone who isn’t from Jonesville.
Vicky volunteers to take Kai home since no one else can. She has the best of intentions and decides to bring him to her house instead of his apartment, which infuriates him, although he’s feeling so sick he has no choice but to stay for the time being. When Jon finally finds out, he is also mad and concerned. Kai often wakes up confused, sometimes violent, and Jon is both worried about Vicky and the baby and his brother. Turns out Jon was right: Kai wakes up, half trapped in his nightmare, half dissociated, panicking when he doesn’t recognize where he is, convinced he’s been committed again. It takes Jon a long time to reassure him and calm him down. When Kai comes out of it, he’s terrified that he may have hurt Vicky or the baby, and even though Jon assures them they’re safe, it doesn’t make Kai feel much better. He hates how out of control he is, and constantly worries he’ll hurt someone without realizing it.
Later that night, back at home, Kai admits that everyone would have been better off if Jon hadn’t allowed the doctors to use the life-saving medicine that’s taking his hearing and let him die. Horrified, Jon asks Kai to promise that he’ll never say anything about being better off dead. Kai’s feeling pretty depressed, so Jon cheers him up with some pie. Kai hasn’t been allowed sweets in months and he’s surprised, but Jon assures him a little won’t hurt and even offers to eat his own piece. Jon never eats sweets. It’s a great bonding moment between them, and Kai feels a bit more confident that he can be as brave as Jon believes he is.

Thursday mornings Jon and Kai had agreed they’d swim together, but as Jon’s getting ready he gets a call from Jo. Harriet, the Deaf woman whose son he took care of yesterday, panicked and tried to pull out her son’s breathing tube. As a result, CPS is threatening to take custody of the boy. Enraged, knowing that Harriet might never get her son back if this happens because of her deafness, decides to come in and fight for her.
Kai’s disappointment that Jon is canceling takes the form of anger, and he unfairly accuses Jon of only caring about him when he’s sick.
At work, Jo reassures Jon. He failed to stop CPS from taking custody, but he’ll save the boy's life if anyone can, She reminds him that Kai has an enormous fear of abandonment and he takes rejection very personally. But they love each other and they’ll work things out. She’s more concerned about Jon right now. He’s clearly sleeping even less than normal, and his stress is bleeding into his work.
Kai tries to swim out his anger and frustration, losing track of time and totally missing his morning appointment with Dr. Miller. His hearing goes out while he’s swimming and doesn’t return. He runs into his classmate Steve, and they talk and have lunch together. Steve shares about her cousin, who’s deaf and has CP but whose mother, Steve’s Aunt, has refused to allow to learn ASL. She’s concerned about him because the language barrier is affecting him at school even though he’s a smart kid. Kai comes to find he likes Steve. She’s quirky and tells him about her love of comics and how she’s planning to write her own with a disabled main character, and that she feels like Kai has a total “Clark Kent vibe,” nicknaming him “Superhero,” and asking if he’ll work on the comic with her.
Jon and Vicky go to her mid-pregnancy ultrasound and find out their child is healthy so far and also that they’re expecting a boy, to both of their delight. However, even though it’s what Vicky wanted, it still reminds her of the baby she lost, Andrew, and it hits her hard that despite what the doctor said, she could lose this child as well. Jon reassures her and is forced to admit his own fears, that he will fail this child the way he feels he’s failed his brother and Martin (the boy he couldn’t convince the transplant committee to list). They both talk about their parents; Vicky is afraid of what hers will think when her very Catholic parents find out she’s pregnant out of wedlock (again!) and that she and Jon aren’t planning to marry. And Jon is certain his adoptive father won’t care that Jon is having a child since he was just a project to him, in Jon’s view, and he never considered Jon to be a son.
Kai spends the afternoon with Martin, whom he’s been visiting on Thursday afternoons for a couple weeks. Initially it was to answer some of Martin’s questions about Kai’s experience with FS and his transplant, but it turned into Kai keeping a bored, sick kid company. They watch movies together and Kai is honest with Martin about his fears in a way he hasn’t been with anyone else. That he didn’t want to live but he didn’t want to die, either. That he’s terrified of dying and being literally thrown away and forgotten. And he hints about how he regrets going through with the transplant, partially because of how horrible and long his recovery from it was because of complications and how sick he’d been before his surgery.
Martin’s main fear is that he’ll die a virgin; he’s never even kissed a girl. He convinces Kai to talk about his firsts, something that Kai never does because he’s ashamed and angry about how they happened. He does admit his first kiss was a dare and that he used to practice kissing with one of the girls at County House. Although he admits he had sex for the first time when he was about Martin’s age, he refuses to go into detail. His vertigo and low blood pressure combine and he becomes very nauseous; despite his best efforts, he throws up. Unbeknownst to him, Martin is actually even more in awe of Kai after seeing his humanity; he becomes even larger than life in the kid’s eyes because of all he’s dealt with and how stoically he does. Martin hopes he can be more like Kai as he faces his own death.
David, meanwhile, goes to his job interview, one he’d prepped for thoroughly and is feeling confident about. However, he has an inexperienced interpreter who doesn’t do him any favors with the ignorant and audist interviewer. Furious, David is convinced that he’ll never be able to use his college degree because no hearing person will ever consider him on their level. However, Megan reassures him. She insists he reach out to the Deaf Community to find work, believing that with his experience and talent he’ll find something.
Jon surprises Vicky just after she got off the phone with her sister, Roni, who reassures her again that this baby will be fine. They both push aside their stress and worries and make love, and for a moment everything is right in the world.

Kai’s depression and anxiety stalk him all day, and he ends up taking it out on Renee. At lunch, she’s worried about him and insists he has to eat, and he snaps, going off at her in signs too rapid for her to understand. He finally seems to realize what he’s doing and makes an effort to calm down. A young man with spiked hair interrupts their argument to invite them both to sit at the Deaf table since he’d seen them signing from afar.
Despite getting a mood boost from sitting with the Deafies, Kai has a panic attack while waiting to see Zach, the hard-of-hearing counselor he’d gone to meet with. Zach is an understanding and patient man and gives Kai time to recover. He reassures Kai that no one saw his panic attack and that the young CODA working the desk, Tanya, thought he was having an asthma attack. This helps Kai relax a little and get to business. Zach reassures Kai that he can succeed and gives him his accommodation forms. Kai asks if he can apply for the dorms, and Zach admits that there are so few accessible rooms that it will probably be fall at the earliest before there’s a space for him. Kai says he’s willing to take a regular room, but Zach explains there’s no way it would work for Kai. Kai’s insistent, and Zach reminds him he must be a student to live in the dorms, since Kai had been debating about dropping out.
Kai’s writing class goes even worse than the previous one. Pelto isn’t real pleased he missed Wednesday’s class, and with his hearing loss and her accent, he struggles to follow what she’s saying. When she announces everyone will read their last assignment and be critiqued by the class, Kai realizes his own story is far too private to share. It’s a metaphor, but he feels as if he read it then everyone will be able to see through him and know he was abused as a kid, which horrifies and terrifies him. Pelto finally seems to realize that Kai isn’t well and announces a break, giving her the chance to talk to him privately. She reads his accommodation forms and tells him that this class may not be for him. She’ll accommodate him but she won’t coddle him, so if he won’t participate or turn in a story, it’ll affect his grade. But Kai prefers that option over having his soul bared and regrets even writing it.
While on break, Kai goes to the bathroom and cuts to try to chase away the negative voices in his head that tell him he’s worthless, a failure, and more. He even cuts in places he never had before, like his arms, so that his self-harming has expanded to cover his legs, torso, and arms. He’s getting worse, and he knows it, but he doesn’t know how else to make it through the day.
Kai goes home, riding the self-inflicted pain high and tries to masturbate, but since he started taking the Celexa, combined with his depression, he hasn’t been able to ejaculate. It’s painful and frustrating and only adds to his outbursts of anger. He knows something’s wrong with him, but he doesn’t feel that he can talk to anyone about it.
Kai shows up at Renee’s early to pick her up for the ASL class that Megan volunteered him to teach, and he soon falls asleep in her bed and has a wet dream. He’s mortified and hides it from Renee as best he can.
Renee ends up confessing everything about the past few months to her best friend and roommate, Diane, even things that Kai would be horrified to know she’d shared about him, including that he spent time in the psych ward.
At home, Kai’s depression takes hold hard and he seriously contemplates suicide, knowing that there’s a good chance no one will find him in time since Jon is working late and Renee and David are at the ASL class. However, after cutting along his elbow, he realizes how selfish he’s being, sucks it up, and gets ready to pretend he’s fine.
Renee and David are worried that Kai is late. David is particularly worried but trying not to scare Renee, promising her that he’ll go check on Kai if he doesn’t show up soon. Renee is enormously relieved when Kai does not long after. The class goes well. Kai speaks to the group and does the first lesson with Megan interpreting for him so he can rely on only sign, where he’s most comfortable. The class breaks up into kids and adults, with Megan focusing on the latter and Kai on the former. Kai actually is able to relax and forget his worries for awhile. He meets Steve’s cousin, who’s there with Steve and his mother, a boy named Aaron who’s twelve with moderate CP. He takes to Kai immediately, especially when Kai convinces a group of Deaf boys to let Aaron and another boy join in their game by beating the leader in a race.
Renee is impressed by how Kai handled the kids and suggests he consider majoring in education. Kai doesn’t believe he could be a teacher, but it’s something he starts to consider. Instead of immediately leaving after the class, Kai takes Renee on a tour of the school, showing her some of his old classrooms and sharing some stories about when he and David were kids and some of the trouble they got up to together. Kai’s mood gets increasingly sad again and he finally admits that the state wants to close the school and County House. He adds that the children will probably be sent to other group homes or the other home for disabled kids in the south, but most will likely be funneled into foster care. Renee thinks this is a good thing, but Kai snaps at her for presuming what his childhood was like when she has no idea. It hurts and bewilders her, but they’re interrupted by David and Megan, who want to go out.
They decide to go to the Jonesville Diner, but Kai hasn’t been back there since he had a major panic attack back in November. He doesn’t want Megan or Renee to know about that though, she tries to pretend he’s fine with it even if he’s not. David senses this and meets him in his car before they go in. Kai’s freaking out even though he’s desperately trying not to, and he’s pissed that he can’t control it. David does his best to reassure him, but Kai just gets angrier. Then his anger turns to sobs. David is very worried about his friend, who doesn’t believe he can be helped. Still, Kai is determined not to let his anxiety rule his life.
At dinner, Renee feels totally out of place amongst three experienced signers, and she’s particularly hurt that Kai continues to shut her out. They finally fight about it once David and Megan leave. As much as she loves Kai, she knows that she can’t be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t trust her. The communication barrier affects them when they do try to talk, so they agree to meet the next day.

Kai wakes up to a horrible nightmare he struggles to escape from, depressed, especially since he and Jon still haven’t made up. Still, as much as he’d love to swim the morning away to try to escape, he pulls himself together and goes to see Dr. Miller. There, he admits to some of his self-hatred and frustration, his fear that he’ll hurt someone, and shows Dr. Miller his self-harm wounds, allowing her to tend to them. Dr. Miller is concerned since Kai seems to be escalating, but she knows that if she’s not careful she’ll scare Kai away and he’ll be in more danger. She suggests Kai switch antidepressants and offers him some sleeping pills since lack of sleep is probably contributing to his symptoms. She even gets Kai to open up about his sexual dysfunction, even though sex is something Kai has been reluctant to talk about with her except on the most basic level. Kai also shows her the story he couldn’t turn in and admits he was afraid that people would look at him and “know,” which is familiar language from someone who’s experienced abuse that makes them feel shame. Kai asks to see Dr. Miller every morning for the time  being, and she agrees.
David is day-drinking, feeling sorry for himself and angry, convinced that despite his fiancee’s reassurance he won’t ever find a good job when Kai shows up on his doorstep. Kai hasn’t been to David’s house since his breakdown there back on Thanksgiving, so it’s particularly surprising. Kai tells David about his hearing loss, bracing himself for David to want to break off their friendship. Instead, David is far more understanding, and gives Kai some advice about using an interpreter for school and about his relationship with Renee.
Kai show up to Lost Apple with lunch, as promised. Renee is cool toward him, not wanting him to think that all is forgiven for his behavior. Kai is quiet and clearly not OK. He finally admits that he has difficulty controlling his emotions, and he’ll sometimes break down into tears or fly into a rage and he can’t stop it. Then he admits he’s agreed to try group therapy, and shows her the flier Dr. Miller had given him. Renee realizes it’s a group for adults who were abused as children; it’s Kai’s way of telling her he was abused. It’s the first time he’s given her any hint of why he has PTSD. Kai’s convinced that she wants to end things now that she knows, but she reassures him that she loves him, she’s grateful for his honesty, and is determined that they can make it through anything as long as they do it together.
Art lets Renee off work early and she goes home with Kai. He teaches her a simple recipe, impressing her with his teaching ability. She encourages him again to consider taking an education class. Kai admits to her how he attempted suicide while he was an inpatient and he and Jon still take precautions. This is something that he’s only admitted to Dr. Miller, so it’s one more barrier he’s slowly taking away. After, they sit on the couch together and Kai teaches Renee how to massage his feet. It’s a big deal because his feet spasm easily and painfully so he doesn’t like anyone to touch them, let alone manipulate them. Renee realizes this is another way Kai is trying to be intimate with her, a way of his wordlessly expressing his love for her.
Jon and Vicky go to dinner at her parents. It’s her chance to finally tell them about her pregnancy. However, things go bad pretty quick. Vicky’s mom had already had her suspicions, and she doesn’t react well to having them confirmed. Vicky wants to leave, but her mother insists they sit down to dinner anyway. Needless to say, things are awkward.
Finally, Vicky is forced to admit they don’t plan to get married, either, which only makes things worse. However, Jon wordlessly offers to do so if it’ll smooth things over with her parents; he’s been nothing but sweet and supportive the entire time despite being a fish out of water. Vicky goes to calm her mother down and talk some sense into her while Peter guides Jon to his study so they can talk man to man. Peter admits that while Vicky hasn’t gone about things in the way they’d like, he can tell Jon is a good man and will take care of her, and for him that’s what matters. He can see now how unhappy Vicky was by contrast, and he thanks Jon for that.
Jon and Vicky both realize having an ally in the family could help, so Jon says he will take up Peter’s invite to a Saturday or Sunday sports gathering if that’s what it takes to keep the peace. They also need to attend mass every Sunday from now on; Jon was actually pretty religious but lost his faith after Kai’s surgery. However, he says they will do whatever they need to for her and the baby. To his surprise, she doesn’t want him to stay the night. Instead, she sends him home with an order to make up with Kai, call his adoptive father, and take a sleeping pill so he gets some good rest.
Things are tense with Kai when Jon comes home. They make up, both apologizing. Kai admits that he uses his anger as a shield and that Jon needs to know when to call him on it. He asks about the psych hospital and Jon tells Kai they’ll go visit it after he has his hearing issue sorted out.
Jon calls his adoptive father, Harold Whitmore, V. Their relationship is strained. Although Jon is forever in his debt for educating him and giving him the trust that allowed him to pay for Kai’s health costs, he’s bitter that Harold never saw Jon as more than an investment. Jon is only telling him about the pregnancy because that’s what Vicky wanted; they haven’t spoken in years. When Jon announced he was going “home” to Iowa for his fellowship, Harold cut him out of his life. Jon attempted to invite Harold to meet Kai after Kai’s surgery, but he never answered or returned Jon’s calls.
Kai and Jon talk afterward. Jon is reluctant but Kai reminds him that the avenues of communication go both ways. So Jon finally fills Kai in, even admitting how he feels like a disappointment to his adoptive father. Kai repiies fiercely that there’s no way anyone could see Jon as a disappointment, and he feels renewed, reminding himself he doesn’t need anyone’s approval and glad that he made up with his brother.

Just  before the mid-season ended, we saw a flashback of when Kai was a toddler, spending a day with his father and brother. It gave us an opportunity to see what their routine was like back then, what Kai was like, and how Jon would help him cough each day, entertaining him with some toy dinosaurs, including one with a "limp" Kai called K-dino. It was clear even at such a young age that Kai hated being different, not only from his Deaf classmates but his family, and how determined he was to be his own person and be as independent as he could be. It also gave us the opportunity to see what Bryan, Kai and Jon's father, was like first-hand. He loved his sons fiercely, especially Kai, but also encouraged Jon to live up to his full potential. He cared for Kai deeply and yet didn't believe in coddling him, and it makes one wonder what the two brothers might have been like if given the opportunity to grow up under his love.

Tuesday, Kai gives the session with Dr. Miller that they were supposed to have together (to make up for the one Kai took over last week) to Jon. It gives Jon a chance to talk about how bad his anxiety has gotten. It’s beginning to interfere with his work and his sleep. If he’s with Kai, he is paranoid something has/will happen to Vicky, so he has to drive to her house to check on her. If he’s with Vicky, then he has to go check Kai. He realizes it’s illogical, but he can’t help it. He reveals how deeply his mother’s mental illness has affected him, how she attempted suicide when she was pregnant with Kai and nearly killed them both. In Jon’s view, his mother did so because she hated Kai so much she wanted to cut him out of her, and Jon is terrified of Kai finding out about that. He’s also deeply afraid that Kai will die by his own hand, and he reveals how much guilt he carries about Kai’s premature birth (and his illness) and their parents’ deaths.
Dr. Miller does an exercise to help Jon try to escape the anxiety and guilt and see that he’s not in control of everyone and everything and encourages him to practice that on his own every day. She also brings Kai in so the brothers can solve their living arrangements; it’s a topic Kai has been avoiding but Dr. Miller realizes needs to be addressed. Each brother admits what they need and fear; Kai wants his independence but he admits he’s not ready for it although he fears hurting Vicky or her baby. Jon confesses that he doesn’t believe Kai is ready to live on his own yet either but living separately from Vicky is tearing him apart. Kai finally agrees that the best solution for everyone at this time is for both of them to move in to Vicky’s house, with the plan that Kai will move into the dorms when he’s ready/an accessible room opens up. This lifts a huge weight from Jon’s shoulders.
Kai and Jon go to Kai’s ENT appointment. Kai’s anxiety has been increasing steadily and he’s forced to take a Xanax to help him get through the hearing test. The ENT examines Kai and analyzes the results of the test and determines Kai has bilateral high-frequency hearing loss that’s likely permanent. It’s a huge blow to Kai, even if it isn’t unexpected, and he does his best to hide how upset he is from everyone, including his brother. Jon insists he gets the most expensive, highest tech hearing aids, which have a special frequency-lowering technology (FLE) that takes the highest pitch sounds and actually lowers them into a range that Kai can hear. However, the doctor warns it could take at least a week or two before Kai’s brain adapts to the new tech, and in the interim, women’s voices may sound strange or warped.
They go to lunch after to the Cattle Baron. The restaurant is packed so Jon drops Kai off to get a table while he parks. The crowd makes Kai nervous, so he attempts to stand off to the side and meditate while he waits, but by the time Jon arrives Kai is in a fight with one of the other patrons. Fortunately, Jon is able to stop it before it comes to blows, and takes Kai home. He realizes that Kai is upset about his hearing loss and lashing out, but he’s still concerned. Kai’s despondent when they get home, refusing to eat even though he hasn’t had a bite all day. Jon tries everything he can think of, but Kai shuts down. Finally, Kai decides he can stay home feeling sorry for himself or work off some of his frustration in the pool. Jon volunteers to go with him, expecting Kai to say no, but he doesn’t.
When he strips off his clothes to change into his suit, Kai is forced to confront all the self-harm wounds he’s made in the past few days, hating himself even more for all the bad he’s doing to his body. Worse, he’s unsure how to hide the scabs on his arms since his suit leaves them bare. In an attempt to feel better, Kai forces himself to throw up. Jon comes in, concerned and soon sees all of Kai’s wounds. But Kai’s detached, peeling off the scabs on his arms, explaining that these are the reason he’s seeing Dr. Miller daily, why he changed medication. That he needs to swim, to forget. He admits that he feels tainted, that he ruins everything he touches, and begs Jon to never judge him, because if Jon is there for him he can make it through. Jon assures Kai that he has a support network and to call on them (Jon, David, Renee) if he needs to so he won’t hurt himself again.
Swimming improves Kai’s mood substantially. They run into Steve, who meets Jon for the first time. After, in the hot tub, Kai makes the suggestion that they cook dinner for Vicky and surprise her with a family meal. Vicky’s had a long, difficult day and she’s shocked to find both brothers in her house, with dinner almost ready for the table. It’s Kai’s form of apology for his behavior, and after they eat Jon finally tells her the good news, that they’ll all be together under one roof soon.

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