The consultation

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After the doctor had seen some really interesting "moves" he'd decided to draft the referral letter. Apparently you couldn't just request a neurologist, so here Charlie was, clutching the letter in his hand and walking along the hospital corridor.

He wouldn't have been there, but Ariel was with him with her hands firmly around his arm. There was only one neurologist in town, and he was none other than the prodigal son who'd returned. Charlie would have requested a neurologist out of town, but he couldn't afford it. He was barely making enough to support his little sister. The college fund wasn't even enough to pay for a semester. Ariel was going to graduate soon. He couldn't let her end up like him.

Patrick looked at the name on the file that had just been brought into his office, momentarily forgetting to thank the nurse. She kept on smiling like his rude behavior was normal. Sometimes he hated it that he go away with everything. He only had to flash a smile and the town fell at his feet.

The United States had been different. There, he met people who didn't care who he was. It was comforting knowing people weren't looking at him with binoculars. He could go about his business without it being the talk of town.

There was only one secret he'd managed to keep to himself in Warlington, and that secret was about to waltz into his office any time now.

Koala.

He and Charlie had been at one time inseparable. They met and fell into a childhood friendship quite quickly. Koala was an adorable giggler and always took the blame for breaking Patrick's mom's things even when he didn't break them. He also took the blame for the messy room. Let him not forget the porn magazine when they turned 16 years old.

But things had taken a wrong turn...

The knock came abruptly. The pauses in between suggested the person was not that sure about knocking.

Patrick cleared his throat and his mind. He had to be professional.

"Come in," he said clearly.

The door opened.

"No Ariel. You really want to listen to me describe my shit?" Charlie said while standing at the door. His back was turned to Patrick and he was trying to keep Ariel from entering.

Patrick was trying to remain professional, but he couldn't help but laugh.

"Why would he ask about your shit?" Ariel asked with a raised brow.

"I don't know. Just wait outside"

"Okay." Ariel resigned and walked back to the waiting chairs.

Charlie closed the door nervously. He was finally alone ...with Patrick. There was no one there with them. For a second he wished he hadn't chased Ariel away. He hadn't been alone with Patrick in 8 years.

"Hi," he said stiffly.

"Hi, take a seat," Patrick said, gesturing at the chair in front of his desk.

Charlie would have been glad to finally sit down, except, sitting almost brought him in level with Patrick now. They were also uncomfortably close. This was going to be unbearably awkward.

Patrick looked down slightly at the file on his desk. He could tell Charlie was tense and he wondered if it had to do with him or whatever he was seeing him for. Admittedly, he hadn't looked at the file prior. He'd been busy covering for an ER doctor.

Something in the file caught his attention immediately. What was listed under family history almost brought his heart to a halt. Patrick had been taught about Huntington's disease. He'd read about it and seen its manifestation. If Charlie's mom had it, there was a chance Charlie had it. Patrick thought he already knew if Charlie had it, his mind going back to the day he'd met him in the hospital corridor.

He opened his mouth to talk.

"I don't know what I'm really doing here. I know the diagnosis," Charlie said suddenly, cutting into Patrick's unsaid words.

"The report says your previous doctor would love a second opinion. In that case I have to take a full history again..." Patrick said. He was trying his best to remain professional. He couldn't quite do it. "Koala, I'm sorry about your mom."

The words caught Charlie by surprise. The look on Patrick's face was sincere. Charlie didn't know how to react. There was silence, unbearable gut-wrenching silence.

Charlie felt the emotions bubbling in his stomach and he knew he wanted to cry. He'd imagined Patrick saying those words to him while comforting him numerous times. Even when he hated him, he wished he was there to help him through the difficult times. Charlie had been Ariel's rock, at times pretending to be stronger than he really was. He needed someone to take care of him too.

He coughed. "Can we get back to the consultation? I have to get back to work soon." His voice was so cold it caught Patrick by surprise.

"Sure," he said slowly.

*

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