Chapter Two: The News
Jeff was awoken a few hours later by his phone blaring into the silence of the dawn room. He yawned, stretched and rolled over, reaching blindly for his phone. He pressed the answer button and held it to his ear. As soon as the nurse from the hospital announced she had the test results he was immediately alert and awake. He wasn’t nervous as such, at least he didn’t think he was. He knew he just had a stubborn cold or something. But still. He wanted that assurance from the professionals. “Well, what are the results then?” he demanded as he sat up in bed, pushing his blonde fringe out of his eyes.
“I’m sorry Sir, but you’ll have to come to the hospital so we can discuss the results in person.”
Jeff sighed. He really hoped this didn’t mean something was wrong. “I’ll be there in about thirty minutes” he told her before hanging up and getting out of bed. He walked over to Nick’s bed and gently shook the sleeping brunette awake. “C’mon sleepyhead. I need you to drive me to the hospital”
Nick hadn’t meant to actually fall asleep but he guess with all the worrying he was doing he wasn’t aware of how tired he had been. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and looked up at Jeff. He saw the phone in his hands and after hearing Jeff say he needed a ride, he concluded he must’ve just gotten the phone call from the hospital. He got out of bed and grabbed his keys and phone and threw on a jacket. “What happened? What did they say?” He asked, slipping his arm through the sleeve. “Is it bad? Why do we have to go down there?” He asked question after question worriedly.
Jeff shrugged, trying not to let Nick know he was getting more worried. If it was all clear, he would’ve thought they could’ve just told him over the phone. No matter, maybe it was just hospital procedure. There was no reason for them to start worrying yet. “All I know is they have the results and want me to go there to discuss them in person” he told Nick as he grabbed his zip up hoodie, glasses and phone. He pulled on his hoodie, put his glasses on and shoved his phone into his pocket. “Lets go then” he said determinedly, heading out of their dorm. He walked down to the head of the dorms office and stuck his head inside. “Me and Nick have to go to the hospital for some test results, be back later” he told them briefly before walking out and towards the car park. “I’m sure it’s nothing. Probably just hospital procedure” the blonde tried to reassure his friend as they walked side by side through the dark campus.
Nick followed Jeff, still very very worried. But he needed to pull himself together and drive Jeff down to the hospital. He walked with Jeff to the car park and led them to his car, quickly getting in and starting up the car. It was a little chilly so he turned up the heat. He also turned on the radio, hoping that a little music would help calm the mood. He drove quickly but safely. He wanted to know the test results as soon as possible so he could finally be put at ease but he didn’t want to get into a car accident. He kept telling himself what Jeff had said; It was probably nothing. After a relatively short drive, they arrived at the hospital and Nick parked the car. He followed Jeff’s lead, not knowing where to go.
Jeff led Nick through the front entrance and up to the reception desk. He was often at the hospital for some reason or another, either for his monthly check up or because he’d managed to injure himself, again. He lived up to the blonde hair and was extremely clumsy. The last time he was there he’d fallen out of a tree he’d been dared to climb. He greeted the receptionist and asked her where he should go. She directed him to another floor and one of the wards there, telling him to report to the receptionist there. He smiled and thanked her before taking Nicks hand and heading off. They often held hands with it meaning nothing, and right now Jeff needed the comfort his best friends touch offered. “I’m sure it’s nothing” he repeated, trying to reassure himself more than Nick. Soon enough they were there. He gave his name to the woman at the desk and was directed to sit down and and wait for the doctor.
Nick just followed Jeff through the hospital, keeping quiet as the blonde asked the hospital workers where to go. When Jeff grabbed onto his hand, Nick gripped back lightly. He was really worried but right now he needed to be there for his friend and assure him that everything was okay. “Yeah, maybe they screwed up some information or something and they need you to clarify or confirm something.” He said, trying to think of other reasons why Jeff might be called down to the hospital without it being bad news. When that sat down, Nick gripped Jeff’s hand again. “Everything’s going to be okay, Jeff. Like you said, it’s probably nothing.” He reassured, but he was feeling more and more worrisome as time went on with them waiting.
Jeff sat in silence as they waited for the doctor to appear, trying to keep himself calm and stop worrying. There was no point in worrying until they actually got confirmation of whether it was bad news or not. It would more than likely turn out to all be fine, they just, like Nick had said, needed some extra information or for him to confirm something. There would be nothing wrong, he tried to convince himself to no avail.
After a good ten minutes a doctor walked up to them. “Mr Sterling?” he questioned and Jeff nodded, standing up and grabbing onto Nick for support as his head swam. When he felt steady again he followed after the doctor as the other man led them through the hospital and into his office. “Take a seat” he told the two boys gently. “You don’t mind having your friend in here, do you Mr Sterling?” he clarified as Nick and Jeff sat down opposite the doctor.
Jeff shook his head. “Anything you say to me you can say in front of him” he said firmly. He needed Nick there to keep him calm.
The doctor nodded before clearing his throat and peering over his spectacles at them. “I’m afraid I’m just going to have to be blunt with you Mr Sterling”
“Call me Jeff” the blonde interrupted, feeling increasingly worried.
The doctor nodded. “Well Jeff, I’m afraid there is no other way than to just tell you, if you don’t mind me being blunt”
Jeff shook his head. This definitely didn’t sound like good news and he just wanted to know what was wrong. “Please, just tell me” he pleaded.
“Very well” the doctor said gravely. “I’m afraid it’s very bad news. Your test results show that you are HIV positive, and that it’s in a very advanced stage. We wouldn’t call it AIDS yet, but it soon will be. We can offer you drugs, but they are more to improve quality of life than lengthen it” the diagnosis took Jeff by surprise and he sat in shock, it not sinking in yet.
Nick held out his hand for Jeff to grab onto when he stood. He wanted whatever the doctor had to say to be over with so he could take Jeff back to the dorms and tuck him back into bed. Nick sat down across the doctor and glanced at Jeff. He grew increasingly worried and in his mind he was shouting at the doctor to just spit out the news already.
It was obvious from the way the doctor was speaking that it was bad news. When the doctor finally broke the news, Nick wanted to rewind everything. He wanted everything to go back to this morning and he wished he could’ve been more insistent on Jeff staying in bed. He wished they could just go back to the two of them snuggling on the bed and watching Beauty and the Beast. He didn’t want to hear that news.
“Wh….” Nick was the first to break the silence, looking between Jeff and the doctor. He looked at the doctor incredulously, a smile of disbelief on his face. “You’re… You’re joking, right? This is some kind of sick joke, right?!” He asked, getting a little riled up. How the hell could Jeff be HIV positive?
Jeff was slowly recovering, the news sinking in. HIV positive…advanced stage…quality of life… It was all so much to take in in one go. He glanced up sharply as Nick spoke, looking sadly at the brunette. Nick didn’t know of course…Nick thought Jeff was a virgin…but it was entirely possible Jeff had HIV. After all…he’d never told anyone about that night…he shuddered slightly and placed a hand on Nicks knee. “Nick, it’s not a sick joke. Look at the doctor…he’s not joking. Besides…it is possible” he told his best friend quietly, willing himself not to cry. The doctor stayed quiet, letting the two friends have a moment.
It was possible? How? Nick had known Jeff for a good portion of his life… They were best friends and this seemed like something a best friend would know. “Jeff, what the hell are you talking about?” Nick asked, still slightly upset. Jeff was speaking quietly and there wasn’t any trace of anger in his voice. Jeff was just accepting what the doctor was saying. Nick looked back at the doctor again, who just remained silent. “Jeff, you… When— When did you— Why didn’t you tell me?” Nick tried to wrap his mind around everything that was happening. On top of now trying to accept the fact that his best friend was HIV positive, he now had to accept that Jeff had had sex before? He felt a twang of jealousy in his chest that he immediately squashed. Now wasn’t the time to be jealous.
Jeff sighed and dropped his gaze to the floor. He had hoped to never have to tell his best friend…tell anyone about that night.. But he guessed he had no choice. He couldn’t lie to Nick, not about something like that. He nodded. “It…it wasn’t consensual Nick…if it had been, you would know about it” he said softly, taking a deep breath. “No body knows but..you know I’ve never gotten on well with my parents?” he questioned before carrying on. “Well, when I was younger, before I came to Dalton my father used to…used to sexually assault me” he confessed softly, shaking slightly at the memories. “Only once though did he…well I guess…rape me. It must’ve been then” he hated telling Nick that. The brunette would be horrified. Jeff clasped his hands together and waited for his best friends reaction.
Nick stood to his feet. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He wasn’t angry because Jeff kept this from him— He understood why he didn’t say— But he was unbelievably angry with Jeff’s father. He hated Jeff’s parents and the way they treated him. To hear that Jeff had been sexually assaulted and even raped made his stomach churn. He balled his hands into fists until his knuckles were white. “Fuck, Jeff…” He shook his head, not knowing what else to say. “I… I need to get some air or something.” He muttered, leaving the doctor’s office. His emotions were getting the better of him and he didn’t want to have an outburst of anger. He needed to calm himself down. He walked out back down the hall and sat in the waiting room, slumping in his seat. He didn’t know how to deal with this. His best friend was raped by his fucked-up father. His best friend was HIV positive. His best friend was essentially dying. He slumped forward, face in his hands as he began to sob quietly.