Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.
Rhys followed Ethan into the apartment, glad to be home. Ethan was oddly quiet, going straight to the kitchen to begin on dinner for the two of them. They had departed from Leah at the hospital, after Rhys had stayed for a few days, and the drive home had been silent and a bit awkward. Rhys got a can of Dr. Pepper from the fridge, cracking it open and taking a sip.
"Are you mad at me?" he asked Ethan eventually, glancing at his brother. Ethan sighed, not looking up from where he was making Hamburger Helper.
"I'm just glad you're okay," Ethan replied slowly. Rhys nodded, fidgeting.
"I'm sorry," he said after another minute or so of silence. "About...the gallery. And everything else."
Ethan sighed again. "It's okay, Rhys. I just worry about you."
Rhys looked at his feet for a moment, lighting a cigarette. "Uh, I'm gonna go to a meeting tonight."
Ethan finally looked up, arching an eyebrow. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. Do you think Leah could give me a ride, or does she have to work today?"
"She can take you," Ethan nodded, the slightest hint of hope in his voice.
Rhys nodded again, going back to his room to get ready. He was tired - tired of spending his life in bed, in the hospital, in a bathroom, with a syringe in his arm or his head bent over the back of a toilet or against a counter, with bags under his eyes, surrounded by darkness, always playing catch-up, always disappointing Ethan, always pining over Lip. He was tired.
He walked into his room and began to clean up a bit, picking clothes up off the floor and putting them into the basket, clearing the trash up off the floor and his desk, opening the blinds to let light in, making his bed. It really brightened up the room, making him feel better. He let out a soft sigh of relief.
"So," said Ethan's voice from behind him and he turned to see his brother standing in the doorway of his bedroom, cleaning a glass with a rag. "You gonna tell me who did it?"
"Who did what?" Rhys frowned, taking a drag off his cigarette. Ethan leaned against the doorjamb.
"Gave you that shiner," he said nonchalantly, staring down at the cup in his hand.
Rhys' frown deepened as he exhaled smoke through his nose. "No one."
Ethan didn't look up. "If that guy you slept with from the first floor put his fucking hands on you and left you in the parking lot - "
"It wasn't him," Rhys said quickly, heat flushing the back of his neck. "He's a nice guy, he wouldn't do that."
"Oh?" Ethan arched an eyebrow. "So who would?"
Rhys shifted from one foot to the other. "Lip and I got into a fight."
Ethan finally glanced up, confusion lining his face with a frown for several long moments as he processed this. "Lip hit you?"
Rhys shrugged, glancing sideways. "I deserved it. I attacked him first."
Ethan continued to stare at him, eyebrows knitting together. "What were you two arguing about?"
"Things,"Rhys said vaguely, extinguishing his cigarette in the ashtray on his nightstand.
"Like what?" Ethan pressed, stepping further into the room. Rhys sighed loudly.
"Things, Ethan. Private things. Things I don't want to tell my brother."
"You can tell me anything, Rhys - "
"Not when it concerns my sex life," Rhys countered quickly, taking a few steps back and lighting a cigarette to keep his hands occupied. That only caused Ethan to narrow his eyes.
"Oh, don't tell me you banged Lip, too."
"Do you have to be such an ass about it?" Rhys snapped, his anger flaring up with ease. "Not that it fucking concerns you, but Lip was actually my first, thank you very much."
"Oh," Ethan said, shutting up quickly. "I didn't know."
"That was the point," Rhys muttered, gaining his composure again. "Besides, it wasn't even about that. Well, sort of."
"I don't want you keeping secrets from me, Rhys. Just tell me what's going on. What was up with the whole gallery thing? What's got you so fucked up lately?"
Rhys sighed, staring at the floor for several long minutes in silence. "I..." he exhaled slowly, running his tongue over his teeth with hesitation. "I had an abortion."
Ethan stared at him, hands on his hips. "You what?"
"At the clinic," Rhys sat on the edge of his bed, his free hand fisting and unfisting against his knee. "They told me I was pregnant. So I...I mean, they gave me some medicine for an abortion and I...came home and I...I did it."
He expected Ethan to yell, to go on one of his rants about how Rhys was irresponsible and rash and how he needed to be more careful. Instead, Ethan took a seat beside him, a hand on his shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Rhys. I'm sorry you felt like you had to do that alone."
"I didn't want you to..." Rhys sighed, talking to his knees now. "I didn't want you to...I don't know. Be mad. Be right. Kick me out."
"Rhys," Ethan said softly, squeezing his shoulder. "I would never kick you out. If you had decided to keep it, we would've figured something out.”
"We couldn't afford a baby," Rhys muttered. "And I don’t know for sure who the dad was, really. Besides, I'm too much of a mess to have a baby. It would've been born addicted and probably malformed or something. I would've made a terrible parent."
He put his hands in the pocket of his jacket, the fingers of his left hand curling against something smooth. Curious, he pulled the object from its place and opened his palm to stare at it. It was the white key tag Leah had given him at that first meeting. It seemed like forever ago.
Rhys sighed softly, pocketing the key tag again as he stood. Leah was going to be here any second, and then they would be off to a meeting. He thought about her words to him, that day when she had given him the key tag: "Bring the body and the mind will follow."
There was a knock at the front door.