2. Making Friends with Shadows on My Wall

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Author's Note: Happy Valentine's Day, friends! Hope you all have a lovely Sunday filled with The Lucky Ones :)

2. Making Friends with Shadows on My Wall

Life at Austin Psychiatric Hospital was pretty dull, most of the time. With the exception of random outbursts from people at mealtimes, the catatonic states of some of the patients, and the sound of distant screams and cursing every now and again as Mitch lay in bed, it almost seemed like any other place.

Mitch's first week here had gone alright. He was happy to say that he had made a friend, and Dr. Chastain seemed happy with the fact that he had figured out a way to get along with his roommate enough to befriend him.

When they would leave their room, Mitch could see Scott's shoulders tense immediately, and his head would rotate around like it was on a swivel. He seemed awfully paranoid, and Mitch's heart panged with worry when he thought about why that could be. He still hadn't gotten to the bottom of what had happened to Scott that day when he found him crying. He continued to refuse to talk about it. Mitch had learned quickly not to push, because Scott would fall into a silence for hours afterwards.

Mitch supposed that the deep digging was meant for Scott's psychiatrist, anyway.

Scott skipped a lot of meals. Mitch noticed this quickly. He wondered if that was part of the reason Scott was here in the first place. But Scott looked healthy, so perhaps Mitch was looking too far into things.

The problem was that Mitch really had no idea why Scott was here at all. Sure, he was a bit snippy at times, but he seemed very... normal, just perhaps a bit too introverted.

So introverted, in fact, that he seemed to panic when Mitch would try to make conversation with anyone else in his presence. He must have had a rough first few days before Mitch arrived, because when Mitch would try to introduce him to new faces, they would glare at him and he would clam up entirely.

So when Scott was around, Mitch focused on him. He had stopped bringing others around, only interacting with others in the hospital when Scott wasn't with him.

He would try to pull Scott out of his shell in due time, but he knew that baby steps would be best. Baby steps had always worked best for himself, after all.

Because, truthfully, Mitch wasn't too different from Scott. There was a reason, after all, that Kirstin was the only friend he spoke of. She was quite literally his only friend, and he was convinced that if they hadn't met in kindergarten, she never would have given him the time of day.

Mitch began to wonder if there was some sort of abuse in Scott's history that made him afraid of people. He hated to think of that kind of trauma happening to his new friend, and he hoped with all of his heart that he was wrong. But somehow, he just had a feeling that this was the case.

He was mulling this over one afternoon as he sat alone at a lunch table, when a tray was set down next to him.

"Hey, Mitch." The sound was pleasant and friendly. Mitch looked up and smiled.

"Hey, Kevin. How are you?"

"I'm good. A little tired. A little bored. You know. How are you?"

They fell into a comfortable conversation afterwards. Mitch liked this man. He was extremely intelligent and seemed to be very gentle. Mitch wondered, as he found himself doing quite often lately, why he was here at all. Was it inappropriate to ask?

Mitch laughed as he listened to Kevin cackle at a lame joke he had just told. He was bewildered by the sound of the other man's laugh, and they were doubled over laughing in no time.

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