tagGay MaleThe Magic in Your Touch Ch. 05

The Magic in Your Touch Ch. 05


The last time they were at a hospital together, Brandon used his sick sense of humor to help Nate hold it all together. Now he wished someone could do the same thing for him. But even as he wished it, he knew better. All the laughter in the world couldn’t erase the fear in his soul as he sat in the surgical waiting room of Chicago General, desperate for any word of Nate.

Keith sat down beside him and handed him a cup of coffee and an ice pack. “If you’ll come down to the office, I’ll disinfect that for you.”

Brandon’s fingers gingerly brushed the raw flesh of his cheek. “That’s what I get for passing out like some rookie at the scene of his first accident.” He took a sip of the scalding coffee, barely noticing when it burned his mouth.

“Under the circumstances, I think you can be excused.” Keith leaned back as far as the plastic chair would allow. “At least come down to my office and wait. The surgical staff will know to page us down there as soon as any news comes in.”

Brandon started shaking his head before Keith even finished. “I’m not leaving him, Keith. I’ll wait right here until he comes out of surgery.”

Keith knew better than to argue. “I called Mom. She’s gathering up the troops and heading on over.”

“Nate hasn’t even had a chance to meet the rest of them yet. We were supposed to have dinner at Grandma’s next Sunday.”

“There’ll be other Sundays, Bran.”

“For me, maybe, but what about Nate?” He glanced at the closed doors of the operating wing. “It’s been over six fucking hours, Keith. Why haven’t they told us anything?”

“He has internal bleeders that have to be sealed off, buddy. You know it takes time to do that.” He was quiet for a minute. “You’re in love with him, aren’t you?”

Brandon discarded the coffee cup and icepack, put his head in his hands, and nodded. “You know what the worst part is? I’ve never even told him. I kept telling myself that I couldn’t possibly be in love with him after only two weeks. Now I’m sitting here thinking that if he dies, I’ve got nothing left. Fourteen days and already I can’t imagine my life without the guy.”

“Love’s like that sometimes. I knew within three days of meeting Maria that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. It only took me two years to convince her that she felt the same way.”

“Yeah, well, if Nate makes it out of this, I’m going to have some convincing of my own to do. We had a fight right before he left. I said some really bad things, Keith. He said some stuff, too, but you know me, I always have to have the last word.” He choked on the words. “I never thought I might literally have it. What if I don’t get the chance to take it back?”

Keith hauled him to his feet and pulled him against his chest. “Stop talking like that, Bran. Dr. Lincoln’s the best surgeon we’ve got. The chief of surgery asked him to operate on Nate as a personal favor to me. The guys a complete asshole, but if anyone can repair the damage, it’s him.”

A commotion at the other end of the hall broke them apart. When Gale told Keith she was bringing in the troops, she wasn’t kidding. All of his brothers and sisters, except for Les and Randy, who were away at school, crowded into the waiting room with their various spouses. Brandon’s dad came in next, explaining that the grandparents would be there first thing in the morning, but tonight they were keeping the kids so the adults could come to the hospital. That was fine with Brandon. As much as he loved his nieces and nephews, he had about all the distractions he could handle at the moment. As it stood, twelve people, counting him and Keith, were crammed into a private waiting room built to seat eight. Brandon never knew standing-room-only could feel so good. For the first time since Nate was brought in, he felt a glimmer of hope. Amazing what family could do for a man. He made a mental note to introduce Nate to this crazy mob the minute he was able.

Gale came over and gave him one of those soothing hugs that only mothers know how to give. “How are you holding up, sweetheart?” She touched his scraped cheek. “And what happened to your face?”

“My face is alright. Physically, I’m fine, but they won’t tell us anything, Mom. I’m going out of my mind here.”

“Patience never was one of your virtues, son. I’m afraid you inherited that from your father. Let me go up to the desk and see what I can find out.”

Keith shook his head. “They won’t tell her anything.”

His father walked up behind them. Dean Nash was a big man, his body strong and fit from the long hours spent building up his construction company. Now semi-retired, Dean kept fit by helping his son Wayne with his own contracting jobs. Dean patted Keith on the arm and put his other hand on the small of Brandon’s back. “Never underestimate your mother, boys. She’s a force to be reckoned with.” He turned Brandon around so he could see his eyes. “You okay, son?”

“No, sir, but if he makes it, I will be.”

Keith went to watch his mother do her magic, while Brandon’s sisters and sisters-in-law left to get snacks and coffee. Wayne stepped outside to smoke, giving them some privacy. Dean led Bran over to a couple of empty chairs, all but pushing Bran down into one, and taking the other for himself.

“Have you called his folks?”

Brandon’s face hardened. “No, and I’m not going to, either. His friend Amy and her husband Mike are coming as soon as Amy finishes up an emergency call, but I have no intention of contacting his parents. As far as I’m concerned, they gave up all rights to know about Nate’s welfare when they threw him out six years ago.”

“Your mother said Nathan’s brother came to visit him a few days back. Don’t you think he’d want to know?”

“Last time we talked about it, Nate still hadn’t made up his mind about whether or not he even wanted to see Seth again. The last thing I’m going to do is call him so he can summon the rest of the family up here to cry crocodile tears all over Nate’s bedside.”

“Speaking of family, you know your mother’s adopted that boy, don’t you? She thinks Nathan Morris is two steps away from sainthood.”

Brandon smiled for the first time since arriving at the accident scene. “He says the same thing about her.”

“He has good taste, then. I can’t wait to meet this young man who has my wife and my son so captivated.”

“He’s amazing, Dad. He’s funny and loving . . . God, he

has the biggest heart. Did you know they call him ‘Magic Touch Morris’ because he spent his residency taking care of premature babies born with addictions to heroin and cocaine? He and Amy don’t even charge the patients who can’t afford to pay. And he does other things, too. Every night when I come home, he’s there waiting for me. Usually has dinner on the table, too. I tease him about making someone a good little wife someday, but he’s one of the least feminine men I know. He is gentle, though. He lets me vent and rave about my day without ever saying a word. Sasha’s totally in love with him. Hell, he’s even taught her to shake. She won’t even sit for me, but Nate’s got her doing tricks after only two weeks.”

“Sounds like Sasha’s not the only one in love with him.”

“No, she’s not. Does it bother you, Daddy?”

Dean was genuinely confused. “Why should it bother me? By all accounts, Nate’s a great guy. Keith called your mother right after the two of you left the hospital that first night, and he was absolutely giddy. Seems he thinks Nate is the next Jonas Salk because of his work with those babies. Why wouldn’t I want to see you settled down with a man like that?”

“It’s not that, Daddy. I just . . . why didn’t you hate me when you found out I was gay?”

“You mean, why didn’t I throw you out like Nate’s parents did?”


“Son, I can’t explain why the Morris’s did what they did, but I can tell you how I feel. I believe that God made you the way you are. I also believe that God doesn’t make mistakes. How, then, could I hate you because of the way you were created? That would be like hating you because you have blue eyes.”

Brandon reached over and gave his father a hug. “I love you, Daddy.”

“Same here, boy.”

Gale came back into the room with Keith on her heels. “Am I included in this love fest?”

Brandon got up and kissed her cheek. “You know you are.”

“Good, because I have news: Nate made it through surgery. Dr. Lincoln is finishing up now. That nice nurse I talked to said he’ll be out in about five minutes to talk to us.”

Keith just shook his head. “How the hell does she do that? I’m one of the doctors on staff and they wouldn’t tell me anything.”

Dean pulled his wife down onto his lap. “Son, let me tell you, I gave up trying to figure out your mother forty years ago. Just be glad she’s on our side.”

Brandon heard footsteps and turned to see the surgeon standing in the doorway, still wearing his blood covered scrubs.

“Who’s the next of kin?”

Brandon said, “I am.”

Dr. Lincoln gave him a quick once over, not an easy task considering Bran was a good eight inches taller than the pudgy surgeon, and Lincoln had to crane his neck to look him in the face. Still, his tone was cocky when he said, “You gonna prove that?”

Brandon was running on caffeine and nerves. No way in hell was this little prick going to keep him from seeing Nate. Still, he owed the man for saving Nate’s life. He would keep it civil as long as he could.

“Do I need to prove it?”

“As a matter of fact, you do.”

Bran could feel the blood rising to his face. “Now look here—”

“No, you look here. I’m sick and tired of you people thinking you can come in and push everybody around. It’s bad enough that mister high and mighty neurologist here,” he motioned towards Keith, “called in a favor to have the head of surgery pull me out here in the middle of the night just to operate on his brother’s queer boyfriend, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you walk all over hospital policy, too. Now, unless you can show me proof that you’re the next of kin—”

“Actually, he isn’t the next of kin. Yet,” said the man standing in the doorway. “Technically, that would be me. I’m his brother, and I do have proof.” Seth reached into his wallet and pulled out a couple of cards. After handing them to Lincoln, he held up the cell phone in his left hand. Either he didn’t know about the hospital’s policy against cellular phones, or he didn’t care. “It’s for you.”

Lincoln gave Seth a startled look, but took the phone. He didn’t say much, only listened, every now and then offering a “yes, sir” or an “I’m sorry.” After about a minute he hung up and handed Seth back his phone.

Seth said, “I trust you and Dr. Hanson had a good talk.”

Lincoln gritted his teeth and nodded. Seth said, “Good. Now, as next of kin, I want my brother’s partner to be extended full privileges, just the same as any husband would have with his spouse. Any decisions that need to be made concerning Nate, Brandon makes them. I assume that won’t be a problem?”

“No.” Lincoln looked like he was about to throw up. He started to leave, but Seth stopped him.

“Oh, and Dr. Lincoln?”


“As of that phone call, you’re no longer Nate’s doctor. Dr. Hanson is bringing in someone else.”

Lincoln was outraged. “I saved his life. If it hadn’t been for me, he would be dead right now.”

“Why do you think I asked Hanson not to fire you when he heard you calling one of your own patients a queer? You better hope my brother makes it, Lincoln. Your career longevity line and Nate’s lifeline now have the same expiration date.”

Lincoln paled, but left before burying himself any deeper. Keith looked at the younger man in awe. “Who are you and how the hell did you get Hanson on the phone? His wife can’t even get through to him most of the time.”

Seth gave a sheepish grin and stuck out his hand. “Seth Morris.” Keith shook his hand much like a ten-year old would shake the glove of his favorite baseball player. “And to answer your question, Dr. Hanson is now the proud owner of a hundred-and-fifty-thousand dollars worth of new equipment, courtesy of Mor-co Incorporated. I called him to make sure Nate was getting the best care possible. It was just dumb luck that I happened to be on the phone with him when Lincoln threw his little tantrum.” He turned to Brandon. “I hope you didn’t mind me putting everything off on you.”

Keith spoke up and said, “You know, Lincoln never did give us the complete rundown on Nate’s condition. I think I’ll go see what I can find out.”

Gale said, “I’ll go with you, son. Dean, why don’t you track down Wayne? He’s had enough time to smoke a whole pack by now. When you find him, go get the girls, too.”

The room cleared and Brandon and Seth were left just standing there, staring at each other. Finally Brandon said, “Thanks for what you did, man. I owe you.”

“You don’t owe me anything. I’m the one who owes Nate. I just hope I get the chance to make up for all the dumb-ass things I’ve done to him.”

“Not to seem insensitive or ungrateful or anything, but what are you doing here?”

Seth said, “Apparently, Nate still had that card I gave him the other day in his wallet. One of the nurses saw it and called me. I know you’re probably pissed off at me, and I don’t blame you, but I had to come.”

“Did you call your parents?”

“No. I figured neither of you would want that. Look, I know I’m not welcome here, and I promise I’ll go just as soon as I know Nate’s going to be alright.” He had tears in his eyes when he looked up at Brandon. “I just had to see him, you know?”

Bran said, “Actually, I think I do. Look, can we start over? Nate’s going to need both of us. I’d hate to think you and I weren’t men enough to put our differences behind us.”

Seth gave Brandon a smile so much like Nate’s it was all he could do not to howl in agony. Seth only nodded, and Bran was grateful. If he didn’t get in to see Nate soon, he was going to go slowly insane.

Gale and Keith came back with a nurse wearing surgical scrubs. “Mr. Nash?”

Brandon stepped forward. “How is he?”

His father and Wayne came in, followed by his sisters and the rest. They all fell into silence the minute the nurse started giving her report.

“He’s lost quite a bit of blood, but we were able to

replace it before any serious tissue damage was done. He had three arterial bleeders in his abdomen and chest which Dr. Lincoln closed without incident. He was wearing his seatbelt, so most of the injuries were confined to his

midsection where the steering wheel hit. The MRI shows no sign of head trauma. Most likely, he passed out from blood loss. The cut on his head was probably caused by flying glass. We cleaned and stitched it and we also set his broken arm. He’s in the recovery room right now, but I’d say, barring infection, he should make a full recovery.”

Brandon grabbed the startled nurse around the waist and lifted her off her feet, spinning her around until they were both dizzy. “Thank you. Oh, God, thank you so much.” He put her back on her feet and kissed her soundly on the mouth.

She laughed. “Is it true what they’re saying? Are you and Dr. Morris really partners?”

Brandon thought back to all the terrible things he’d said and only hoped Nate was still speaking to him. He wasn’t about to tell the nurse that though, so instead, he simply said, “Yes, we are.”

She shook her head. “I thought so. Well, on behalf of the nursing staff, concerning both you and Dr. Morris, all I can say is, what a waste.”

* * *

Keith led Brandon and Seth down the hallway of the Intensive Care Unit. “Let me go in first and see what kind of restrictions are in place, then I’ll come back and get you guys.”

After he left, Brandon propped himself up against the wall. Seth took the same position on the opposite wall. Bran said, “I think you should go in first.”

“No way, man. He’ll want to see you first. Hell, I’m not even sure he’ll want to see me, period.”

Brandon took a deep breath. “Look, Seth, there’s something you should know.”

“Let me guess. You and Nate had a big fight before the accident and you said something stupid. Now you aren’t sure whether or not he’ll want to see you.”

Brandon put his hands on the back on his neck and leaned against the wall again. “How did you know?”

“Nate is my brother, remember? Everybody thinks because he’s kinda quiet, he must be real laid back and easygoing, too. Maybe he is most of the time, but get him mad and that boy has a temper like you wouldn’t believe. I guess you found that out firsthand, huh?” He thought for a minute before he said, “I know it’s none of my business, but can I ask what you two fought about? I mean, if you want to tell me to go fuck myself, I don’t blame you.”

A few hours ago, Brandon probably would have told him to do exactly that, but now he felt some kind of kinship with Seth. Maybe tragedy really did bring out the best in people. Either that, or Keith slipped some kind of tranquilizer into his coffee. Regardless of the reasons, he found himself pouring out the whole story, including the things they both said. When he got to the part where he told Nate he was afraid of contracting a first-class case of frostbite, Seth let out a low whistle.

“Damn. And I thought Nate had a temper. You know he was just trying to protect you by leaving, right?”

“Now I do. I had just made up my mind to find him and drag him back home, if I had to, when I was called to the scene of the accident. I didn’t know it was Nate until I got there.”

“God, that must have been hell. For what it’s worth, I don’t think Nate will hold what you said against you. He’s a pretty forgiving guy. I mean, look at us. Nate forgave me for turning my back on him the first time, and what did I do? I turned my back on him again. I’m the one who doesn’t deserve a second chance. But I’ll tell you this: if Nate can find it in his heart to give me another go, you better believe I’m going to take it.”

“If it makes you feel any better, I think he will. He’s talked about you a lot since you came to his office the other day. He even showed me some pictures from when the two of you were kids.”

Tears rolled down Seth’s cheeks. “Thanks, man. That means a lot to me.”

Keith came back with a big smile on his face. “His stats are looking good. If he keeps improving, he could be moved to a private room by tomorrow. Right now, he’s only supposed to have one visitor at a time, five minutes each visit. I pulled a few strings and got them to let you stay longer, Bran, but I’m afraid the one at a time rule stands. That’s for Nate’s protection. He’s still asleep, but that’s just the anesthesia. He should come around soon.”

Seth said, “Look, it’s after two in the morning, already. Why don’t I go to my hotel and come back tomorrow?”

Brandon said, “No.”

“No, I can’t come back tomorrow?”

“No. I mean, yes, you can come back, but I don’t want you to stay in a hotel. You can stay at our house, mine and Nate’s. Keith can show you how to get there.” He turned to his brother. “Do you still have your key?”

Keith nodded. “I’ll take him to your house and send the rest of them home, too. I’m off tomorrow, but I’ll come back here after I get everybody settled.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“I haven’t had to kick your ass since you were in the third grade, Brandon. Don’t make me have to start now.” He pointed to Nate’s door. “Now go in there and see your boy. Just remember, he looks a lot worse than he is.”

Brandon pulled him into a rib-crushing embrace. “Did I ever tell you that you’re my favorite brother?”

“Just remember that come Christmas.” He looked at Seth. “You ready, kid?”

“Yeah.” Seth started past Brandon, then stopped and gave him a quick hug. “Thanks, Brandon. Tell Nate I’ll see him tomorrow.” Before he knew it, Bran was standing in the hall, alone. A nurse came along a few minutes later and helped him into a sterile gown and mask. All that was left was for him to go on inside.

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