The second-first meeting

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The second-first meeting

"Is she going to be okay?"

Charlie felt like he was talking to himself. The doctor was paying no attention to him, focused on tending to Ariel's wound.

"Like I said Mr. Roberts, it's just a skin tear," the doctor said. He seemed annoyed.

Charles did think he was imagining it. It was hard to figure out what was appropriate and what wasn't. Maybe the doctor was cordial and maybe Charlie's brain was imagining things.

"I just asked you a question, no need to treat me like I'm stupid mate!" he said aggressively.

Ariel and the doctor all looked at him. It was at that time that he felt like crying. There would come a time when those blue eyes would be meaningless. Those eyes, that look...they wouldn't make him feel crappy at all.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I'll be outside."

He had to get away. He couldn't bear to see the pain in his little sister's eyes. He couldn't bear to look at the doctor's surprised look. It felt as though the walls were closing in, just as the one thing he'd been running away from him was.

It wasn't the only thing he'd run away from, and it turned out things you ran away from always had a way of catching up. He'd run away years ago just as he was running away now. Little did he know he'd run into the past instead.

He was walking backwards. Despite everything, he was still concerned for his sister so he meant to keep a lookout of the examination room he'd just come out of even when he was walking away.

In retrospect, it was a bad idea. He was in a hospital. It was the only hospital in the area so it only made sense that the halls would be crawling with people. One particular person was crawling through the halls.

Charles bumped into someone, physically. He could laugh. His life nowadays consisted of him dropping things, hitting things or hitting people. It was comical. He'd gone through life described as a sweet boy who had his life together. Nope, his life was falling apart.

"Sorry," he muttered, turning around to see who he'd bumped into.

Brown eyes met green eyes. Brown hair met hair as black as the night sky. 1.58 met 1.76. Lightly tanned skin met bronze skin. Charles met Patrick.

"Charlie? Charlie Roberts?!" Patrick asked, his lips curling up in surprise. Charles couldn't fool himself into thinking it was a pleasant surprise.

For him it wasn't. Hearing his name escaping those lips, Patrick's lips, felt like a dream, a bittersweet dream you woke up from with longing, with need that would never be fulfilled.

"Patrick," he said curtly.

"You've grown taller," Patrick mocked him. He was smiling. It almost looked genuine.

Charles only grew a couple of inches after Patrick left. It wasn't significant. He was still short. Hell, his little sister was taller than him.

"God! I didn't think I'd find you here. I thought you'd be in Dubai designing skyscrapers!" Patrick said playing with the file he was holding.

Charlie's heart lurched. He didn't need someone to remind him what a failure he was. He and Patrick had at one time when they were untainted by puberty talked about things they'd like to do when they grew up. Patrick had many thoughts, from race car driver to pilot and finally doctor. Charlie had been clear, he wanted to design skyscrapers. Of the two, only Patrick had gone on to achieve his dream, as evidenced by the doctor's coat he was wearing, the name badge, the stethoscope around his neck and the file in his hand.

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