Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.
Ethan and Leah found him a little later when they got home, passed out in the parking lot, a half-smoked cigarette laying on the pavement beside him. They got him on his feet, putting him into the backseat of the Subaru, before making their way to the nearest emergency room.
"Alcohol poisoning probably," Ethan said to Leah after they settled into the waiting room. He wondered how they had gotten to this point, again. The nurses had taken Rhys to an intake bay, where they were currently working on him.
Leah glanced up at him as Ethan took the seat beside her. "You sound pretty sure of that."
Ethan shrugged. "Been around this block a time or two. This is the second time I've found him in the parking lot. Usually he goes out walking, passes out in the park, or at the Waffle House."
"I can't believe what he pulled at the gallery," Ethan muttered, shaking his head. "But honestly, I don't know if I should even be surprised. It's kind of...well, par for the course for him."
"So now what?" Leah asked, watching him. Ethan sighed.
"They'll pump his stomach. Maybe keep him for observation, maybe not - they've seen him so often, they might just say he's good and send him home."
"I mean, you could have him...I don't know, committed or something."
Ethan arched an eyebrow at her before his eyebrows knit together as he frowned. "I can't do that."
"Maybe it's what he needs," Leah suggested. "You know, send him to a thirty day or ninety day program or something. Or maybe one of those residential places, you know, where they stay for like six months or a year."
"No," Ethan shook his head quickly. "I can't. He needs me."
"No, Ethan, he needs help."
Ethan shook his head. "No. That's not happening. He needs to stay home where I can take care of him."
"On your head be it," she said, getting to her feet. "Getting coffee. Want some?"
He nodded slowly, watching her hips as she walked away. It wouldn't be too much longer until Rhys was done with treatment and taken to his room, where Ethan could go in and tell him off. As much as he loved his little brother and as much as he loved taking care of him, this was starting to get old. t was time for them to start maturing; Ethan wasn't getting any younger, he really liked Leah, and it was time to start thinking about a house and a family and settling down. Rhys was going to have to get his shit together sooner rather than later.
Ethan looked up as a white-coat-clad doctor - Doctor Ernstein, Rhys' psychologist - took Leah's empty seat. She smiled at him gently.
"Hi," he said, shifting in his seat to face her better. "What're you...?"
"The ER doctor called me in when she saw my name on Rhys' chart," Doctor Ernstein explained. "I've talked to Rhys a bit. He's still sobering up, but he seems to be doing alright, for the most part. He told me he's taking his meds, but his tox screen - "
"I know," Ethan nodded slowly. "I know, he's a mess."
"Ethan," Dr. Ernstein became more serious. "I think...I think Rhys should be...I think he should be admitted to our psych ward for a few days."
Ethan stared at her. "No."
"Ethan," Ernstein sighed. "He's very clearly quite unstable. He's using cocaine and alcohol at a very unsustainable rate, one that is putting him in a lot of danger. He needs therapy and medications and acute observation."
"Absolutely not," Ethan shook his head violently. "No. No, I won't let him be locked away like some animal. Whatever's wrong with him, we're handling it at home."
"Well," Dr. Ernstein said slowly, "you very clearly aren't handling it."
She stood, walking away just as Leah returned with their coffees. Ethan took his coffee - black, no sugar - and leaned back in his seat, hands wrapped around the paper cup. He just couldn't betray Rhys like that - couldn't abandon him like their mother did.