Who: Ian and JD What: "Who are you? Who am I?" When: July 5th, afternoon Where: Medical Center and then Ian's apartment in the Barracks Rating: Mid - mentions of PTSD, dark times and nudity Status: Complete
With another early shift over JD went to the guard’s change room to get out of his uniform and into the gym clothes which he had packed. As he wasn’t rostered on to patrol today - a job that was almost always done with Ian - and instead had to do guard duty around the Lighthouse which was a boring job in itself, most of the residents rarely ventured there and those that did mostly came for a look at the view before leaving again, no trouble and nothing to make this day different than any other.
After a change of clothes he waited around, Ian shouldn’t be that much longer as virtually all shifts were timed to start and finish at the same time, JD was actually running a bit late because of the walk back from the lighthouse so it surprised him that his friend was not waiting for him. He was looking forward to a good session in the gym, he always did when he had done a shift that involved little movement, get those stagnant muscles pumping again. Fifteen minutes passed. Twenty. This was definitely not like Ian, if he was going to be late he’d send a message, tardiness was not in his vocabulary.
He ended up giving it half an hour (just to be sure) before he left, someone in this building would’ve seen Ian, surely. He walked down the corridor to the assignment’s room and gave a quick knock on the door, “Hey. You haven’t seen Marsh around have you?”
“Didn’t you hear? He collapsed earlier and they took him to medical.” The other guard informed him.
JD’s stomach dropped and his heart began to beat faster, it took all of his willpower to not just hightail it then and there. “Uh… thanks, I’ll go see how he is.” He replied, offering a smile before he walked - be it briskly - from the building towards the small hospital. God, what had happened to Ian?
There was a small rectangle of plastic clutched in fingers.
Ian looked down at the photograph on the laminated card, studying the features. Once in a while he would glance up and over at the window near his cot in the medical wing and observe the reflection. The similarities were striking. This person in this photograph clearly was him but it wasn’t. It couldn’t be, but then again he couldn’t recall who he even was. The ID card told him that his name was Ian Marsh. None of this was familiar. Why couldn’t he believe this little card he was holding?
One of the doctors came by to check on him. Ian glanced up at them and nodded, offering what he could manage of a smile to silently let the man know he was fine. When the doctor had wandered off to check on other patients Ian turned his attention back to the card.
The dates, the address, none of those things struck any sort of familiarity in him. It was as if that information had been wiped clean and nothing was left to replace it.
Someone shouted a hearty “Yo Marsh!” As they passed by the medical wing but Ian didn’t look up or even acknowledge the greeting. Not for any negative reason, only that he couldn’t associate with that name as he might usually. He didn’t know who he was nor would he be tied to a name just because some little card said so.
The leg missing would be addressed soon but he struggled to wrap his brain around the idea that this person was supposed to be him. Was he this person? Who was this person?
Who was he?
It took all of his willpower not to just run from one building to another, but he quickly closed the distance with a brisk walk. Upon entering the medical wing one of the doctors seem to know instantly why JD was there and pulled him up before he had even gotten a chance to open his mouth and ask where Ian was.
“Just warning you now Stevenson, he seems to be suffering from some kind of amnesia. He has absolutely no idea who he is or where he is. We’re running some tests to see if we can find a cause because he doesn’t seem to have any kind of head trauma, but at the moment we don’t have a clue as to what it is or why it hit so suddenly. Is there anything you might be able to tell us that isn’t in his file?” The doctor talked and JD listened, trying to take it all in.
No memory. So his best friend wouldn’t even recognize him… that was going to be difficult. “Um… no, the Army was pretty good at documenting everything. It’s not some kind of PTSD episode is it?” He asked, almost hopeful that it was just something that got triggered and it would go away soon.
“We don’t know. You can go and see him, maybe a familiar face might bring back some memories.”
“Thanks doc.” He gave the doctor a pat on the shoulder and continued on in the direction towards the room where Ian was contained. Taking a deep breath JD knocked on the door and poked his head in through the door. “Hey... Ian.”
The ID card would be set aside. Shoulders slumped and his eyes fell closed. This was a struggle he didn’t want to experience and yet he was — yet he couldn’t remember why or how or any of the important things. Did he have a family? Did he have friends? Was he in love? All of the hard questions that he had no answers for.
He didn’t rouse at the greeting. Only when he recalled the information from the card and the establishment from the reflection did his eyes open. His head would lift and he would turn slightly, frame twisting at the waist, to observe the person in the doorway.
“I’m sorry,” Ian uttered, “I don’t know who you are. My ID card says that’s my name, but I can’t remember if it actually is.” A bit of hopelessness began to trickle into his expression. Turning away he let his eyes fall to his lap again.
It almost broke his heart to hear those words, that his best friend (and possibly more) had no idea who he was. But they had gotten through so much together, they would get through this, JD was sure of it.
He walked in and sat down in a chair near Ian, not too close though, Ian never liked to be crowded. “It is your name. You are Ian Marsh, you were born in Joplin Missouri on March 5th, ‘84. I’m Jackson, but you just call me JD. We served in the Army together, we met at Ranger training and since then we were in the same unit, we did several tours of Afghanistan together. On our last tour we were ambushed, we were pinned down and I won’t go into the details but that was how you lost your leg.” JD would go through all of Ian’s history if it helped. “That was back in ‘09, you went through rehab and I was there beside you, just like I am now.”
Fingers would fist into sheets. White knuckled, desperate to remember who he was Ian listened to those soft, patient words. That explanation of who he was, his background. None of it rang any bells and he felt emptier for it.
He wanted to remember what this man — JD — was telling him. He wanted to recall what the heat of the day felt like weighing down fatigues, what the sand sounded like beneath their boots, the clatter of automatic weapons, of the smooth language of a different culture.
But all he got was darkness, blankness.
“I’m sorry,” he began, twisting away. “I don't remember any of that.” But he knew that he couldn’t shy away from the knowledge. This man knew him. Making himself look up, Ian glanced over at the other. “Do I have a family?” He didn’t wear a ring, he guessed that meant he didn’t have that kind of a family.
He could see that his words weren’t causing any sparks of recognition, that Ian was looking at him like he would any kind of stranger. But he couldn’t give up, the Ian Marsh that he knew was deep down in there somewhere, he knew it… or at least he hoped it.
“You have two siblings - a brother Cody and a sister Twyla and your mother’s name is Debra.” He hated having to say the next bit. “...but your father - Richard passed away in a house fire when you were still in school.”
JD was keeping his eyes on the other man as he talked, answering any and all questions posed to him, there was sadness in his eyes when Ian lifted his head and looked at him. He just wanted to reach out, to take the other’s hand in his and hold it. Kiss it. To show what Ian meant to him. “You never got married, I think you’re still waiting for the one though.”
The recognition was lost; he couldn’t remember the names, the faces, the details of any of the people JD had described to him. It frightened him that a whole group of people had just vanished from his mind. Up until an hour ago he didn’t know his own name, even.
He shook his head. “I don't remember them.” Moisture began to well in his eyes. Frustration creased the corners of his eyes, furrowed his brow.
Glad he didn’t have to put a wife or a child through this ordeal a sigh of relief escaped him. “Oh, well, I guess that’s not all bad then.” Less people to hurt or confuse.
JD could see the signs of frustration on Ian’s face, it took him back to when Ian was first in the VA, going through those first lessons with a new leg and learning just how to walk again. The body was much more resilient than the mind, limbs could be replaced to a degree but once the mind was affected there was no quick fix for that.
The caring part of him won out, he reached over and placed a hand lightly on Ian’s leg, the flesh and bone one. “You’ll remember them, it’ll take time but you will remember everyone who cares for you.”
That hand on his leg yielded no further answers or memories. A hand lifted. He wiped at his eyes with fingers of a stranger and sighed heavily. “Do I have time?” Who knew if what this man was saying was real? Maybe he was sick and that was why he’d lost his leg.
But even that seemed far fetched.
“Sorry. I’m freaking out a little bit.”
A breath and he made himself smile. A palm would pat gently upon JD’s fingers, “Thanks for trying to help me.”
It really was as if someone had gone in and completely wiped Ian’s memory, the motor skills and functions were obviously still there but everything else wasn’t. Even that touch meant nothing, he could tell that the smile that Ian was giving him was just one to be kind, it wasn’t the smile that he knew well, the one that lit the other man’s face up like a Christmas tree.
“You’re allowed to freak out Ian, something has taken all your memories and we don’t know why.” JD was silently freaking out and he still knew everything. “And I will continue to help you, anything you want to know I will tell you. We’ll work through this.”
He didn’t know if he could brave anymore questions - anything he wanted to ask he was afraid to and it showed in his eyes - but he tried. “We were close?” JD seemed as if they had been. How close, he didn’t know.
Obviously they had a connection; that much devotion to seeing someone through something was rare.
There was something about hearing Ian ask questions and talk in the past tense that made his chest feel tight, all of their history, everything they had gone through was now just a memory for one of them and not something that they shared.
Ian didn’t remember JD standing there beside him as he took those first cautious steps on his new leg, that small two bedroom apartment that they together after he was discharged from the VA and sent out into the big post-war world. And more importantly - Ian didn’t remember the moments of intimacy the two of them had shared recently, the tension that had simmered for so long finally bubbling over into gentle touches and soft but passionate kisses. “Yeah, we’re close. We do just about everything together.”
The blank slate, that dark wall.
Drawing back his hand it fell into his lap. “What do we do? What have we done?” He wanted to know and was eager to find out. Eyes shifted. He glanced over at JD for the answer.
That half leg moved. Hands would go to it as phantom pains began to creep through it. The urge to itch where there was no skin to scratch.
There was only so much he could say here - inside where he knew the walls had eyes and ears, maybe later he could take Ian outside, or if the doctors deemed him well enough back to his apartment, maybe that would spark something. “We’re guards here. The island’s a kind of quarantine refuge for those affected by a nuclear mishap back about seven or eight years ago. We try to maintain peace and help the residents live some kind of normal life.” He purposely left out the whole secret smuggling racket that the two of them ran, it was better that Ian not know that for the moment.
“What have we done? We serviced in the war together until…” a nod down at the leg. “Then we worked at a VA gym helping other wounded soldiers to try and get their physical and mental health back, about two years ago you heard about this place and signed up for the transfer, I came along with you and here we are.” JD was used to Ian scratching at those phantom pains, he was used to just about all of the ‘quirks’ that were Ian. “We’ve done so much, maybe later I can show you some photographs.”
“Nuclear mishap?” He breathed, questioned. What had happened? Had everyone been affected? Was he affected?
At least they were helping maintain a good life for anyone that was here. He could get behind that. “Thanks,” he offered, emitting a sigh. “For trying to help me remember. The doctors say I have amnesia. I can’t remember anything but I want to.”
His hands had stilled by this point. “Where do I live?” He looked around at the medical facility. “Here? Is this amnesia normal?”
“There was a radiation leak that affected quite a bit of Washington state.” JD could see the worry in his friend’s eyes. “But no, we’re not affected. We were living far away at the time.” Thank goodness, or they might be here just like everyone else. He also didn’t mention that things weren’t as ‘nice’ as it all seemed, that although the other guards were nice to them - the people paid to protect the residents were often doing the opposite and that out of everyone on the island they only really trusted one another.
“No. You don’t live here, this amnesia is definitely not normal.” He said, trying to reassure Ian that whatever the hell was going on that it was not a regular occurence. “You live in residential wing of the military base, across the hall from me. Do you want me to see with the doctors if I can take you there? Something there might spark a memory.” As there wasn’t anything physically wrong with Ian they couldn’t really keep him here, hell if they wanted to make sure that Ian was in the care of a responsible adult he’d do that job himself.
That bombshell had his eyebrows arching. He was breathless, heart racing. A nuclear reaction that had devastated an entire state. He was glad they weren’t affected but he felt bad for the people here. “Oh.” A nod would come.
And then another nod. This wasn’t normal. He didn’t live here. “I want to leave here.” He didn’t like med wing. “I want to try to remember who I was.”
His ID was swept up and he waited for JD to figure out what was going on. Where was the other half of his leg? Did he use crutches? A cane? That seemed too much to try to navigate.
Maybe they’d talk about more when they got back to Ian’s, it was much safer to answer those more sensitive questions in private. “I’ll just go and see the doctor… and get your leg back. Then we’ll go back.”
JD smiled the best he could, stood up and left the room. It was only a matter of minutes before he was back, Ian’s prosthetic leg tucked under his arm. “Here… let’s get this on and I’ll take you home.” He said, kneeling down in front of his friend, this was something he had done hundreds of times before and could probably do it in his sleep.
He tried his best to gather himself and try to figure out whether or not he could trust JD. So far he felt as if he could, his gut wasn’t telling him otherwise. So when the friend came back with his leg In lifted the stump.
“Okay. I trust you.”
With the prosthetic held upright between his knees JD rolled Ian’s pants up enough that he was able to maneuver the stump into the cup, all the time offering soft murmurs of encouragement as they fitted the leg back on. While doing this didn’t feel at all weird to him JD did wonder what it must be like for Ian who - with a blank mind - had never actually done this before.
“There… now, it’s going to feel really quite weird when you stand up. But I’ll be here beside you if you feel a bit wobbly.” Deja Vu all over again.
A bit of a jolt would come but he did his best to ease into it. Nervous, he did his best not to let the discomfort show on his face with the cup against the skin. The way it pushed, bit into the skin. But it wasn’t as bad as he thought.
Hands would go out to JD. He moved to stand up, clung to the other man and tried to be steady.
“I think I’m ready.”
Normally there would’ve been a ‘sock’ that went between flesh and the prosthetic but who knew what they had done with it, there were quite a few more back at Ian’s place so they’d find one when they got there but hopefully the short distance without it wouldn’t cause too much discomfort.
He was already standing when Ian reached out for him, arms holding firmly onto those of his friend as the other man stood for the ‘first’ time. He stood there, rock solid, as Ian clung to him.
“Okay… now, small steps. It’s going to feel really weird but you’ll be fine.” JD said encouragingly, just as he had done all those years ago. “And if it gets too much let me know and I’ll carry you the rest of the way.” He doubted that offer would be accepted, Ian never liked showing any kind of weakness, let alone getting carried anywhere.
There would be no following up on that offer - even in this stage something was telling him that being carried in any capacity was out of the question. He nodded anyway to show that he understood. Like a fawn walking for the first time he was a bit wobbly on the leg, it was odd to maneuver, but keeping his hold on JD he managed it.
One small step, more like a lurch, and then another. Nothing was coming back to him as they moved, nothing was triggering any memories. He tried not to let the frustration get worse, or make his ‘friend’ feel obligated to tend to him because of pity.
“I’m following you.”
It took a while before they were out of the medical building, each slow step following the last. Considering that it was all new for Ian again JD thought that the other man was going really well.
The murmurs of encouragement continued as they moved from one building to another, pausing when it was needed. JD didn't really care how long it took, Ian needed him right now and he would be there for his friend, nothing could stop him.
"Okay… here we are." He eventually said as they got to the door of Ian's place, getting his own keys out he unlocked the door, not sure where Ian's keys were right now, probably in his locker. Without letting go of the other man he opened the door and pushed it open.
They made it to his room. He tried his best to do it on his own but even he knew help was needed to make it the entire way. “Thanks,” he murmured politely. A pause as the keys were taken out and he was curious as to why JD had access to his room. Right now he didn’t question it.
The bed was neatly made, sheets pulled taut. Furniture was clean, the suite was pristine. He looked at the pulleys and rope systems around which Ian used before to make getting around easier.
A set of crutches were leaned by the door.
"Want me to get your crutches? Might be easier for you to get around with them." JD asked as they got inside and walked towards the couch. Anything to make Ian feel better, even though he still had no idea about anything.
"I know it doesn't look like much but it's home. Bedroom… bathroom… and living area." He said, pointing in the direction of each of the rooms, everything was new and scary. "Drink? Or something to eat?"
A nod in response would come. The crutches would be easier to use. When he had them, Ian placed them appropriately, eased out of the prosthetic, and ambled over to the couch to sit.
“How long have I lived here?” He couldn’t remember if JD had told him or not, he was feeling overwhelmed with all of this.
Shaking his head, Ian sighed, “No, but thanks.”
With the prosthetic leg off JD picked it up and put it in Ian's bedroom, doing things like this were done out of force of habit, the leg lived beside the bed, it always did. Even if Ian couldn't remember it.
Returning to the living area he sat down at the opposite end of the couch, giving Ian his space. "We've been here going on two years now, we have some exciting days but most of the time it's not too stressful, well compared to the war at least." Nothing was as stressful as the war.
"You and I are in charge of the food distribution here, we go to the mainland every two weeks and bring back pallets of goods back for pretty much everyone, there's a mess hall here for the government employees but the food isn't all that flash so most of the time we cook our own." He said, trying to give Ian as much information as he could without overloading the other man with too much.
Seven hundred thirty days and he couldn’t recall a single one of them, nor any time before that. How could someone forget their entire life? He felt like a familiar stranger - a skeleton in a bag of skin that was supposed to be his though it wasn’t. Or was it? The confusion marred his chiseled features.
Head would lift and Ian would turn, pivoting at the waist to peer over at the other man. Moisture prickled at his eyes again.
Where did they go when the island was put behind them? Could they not leave so easily?
Turning away, Ian dropped his eyes to the half appendage lower down. Hands would find the clothed stump, fingers touching over it in examination.
He knew that look on his friend's face, that look of confusion mixed with a bit of fear. He had seen it many times, many nights when Ian was having a bad time and a momentary lapse in memory. But with some gentle coaxing and soft words everything would come back, they'd get away from wherever they were in their heads and come back to the island.
"You saved my life." JD said softly as he saw Ian looking down at the stump, it was a point that he remembered every single day, the sacrifice that Ian had made.
Tears moistened his eyes, threatening to build up and slide from his eyes. What if Ian never got his memory back? Would Ian still want to be his friend? That history, seeking comfort from one another would disappear, why would the other man seek it when he couldn't remember the war?
Hand would rise, as if puppeted by invisible strings. Fingers brushed against an eye, nursing the moisture in the corner that had beaded up there. Had he known about the PTSD he would have preferred that to this because he would have known to come back from the lapse. This was just blackness, blankness.
The fingers of his other hand patted the clothed nub. His heart was fluttering but he didn’t know why.
Out of kindness the hand brushing his face fell and he moved the limb to pat at JD’s leg. He was trying his best to be comforting.
And then something began to click.
Explosions. He could feel the heat, hear screaming. Was that his own? Someone else’s?
Shaking his head as if something were pealing loudly in his ears Ian clapped his palms over his ears. His eyes squeezed shut, lips pulling back from teeth which grit.
The small smile that had appeared on his face when that hand gently patted his thigh quickly disappeared when Ian's hands went to cover his ears.
This. This he knew.
"Ian. Listen to me." He said, moving on the couch until he was right beside his friend, hands would reach out, fingers wrapping around wrists. "You're about to have a panic attack. I want you to breathe for me… can you do that? In and out, in and out. Whatever you're hearing, it's not real… but I'm real. Focus on my voice."
And then another, he was shaking. Trembling with fear. The sounds were so loud, nearly deafening and he could vaguely hear JD’s voice. “Sarge,” He uttered, voice deep and labored. Slowly his arms relented to JD’s beckoning but his lungs burned for air. His whole body tingled as he felt his lungs seizing for oxygen, the air becoming restricted. A gasp, large breaths were taken.
“JD.” Teeth clamped down and then Ian made his eyes open, focus. “JD.” He breathed, leaning close to the other man as best as he could.
He felt something in his chest, like someone had a band around it and was pulling it tight. Despite the number of times he had done this there was always something about Ian’s panic attacks that scared him, especially when the other man was struggling for breath.
He thought he must have been imagining things, that Ian called him ‘Sarge’, in the conversations JD had never mentioned their ranks, was this the old Ian coming back? Or just a coincidence? “That’s it… big deep breaths.” Soft words continued when Ian started gasping, lungs filling with air.
Hearing his voice uttered without prompting had JD smiling, but he was still cautious. “What’s your name and rank soldier?” Something the ‘new’ Ian wouldn’t know.
His chest felt tight. Gasping, Ian tried to focus. His body was slick with sweat, cool and moist. His clothes felt too tight, the air was too warm. He could feel each hair on his head, his arms standing on edge.
“Sergeant Ian Marsh, Sir,” he barked, “You’re Staff Sergeant Jackson Stevenson, JD.”
“Your birthday is July Eighth.”
He shook hard.
A sigh of relief came out as Ian stated his name and rank, as well as JD's. Hands would slip from where they were resting on Ian's arms and loop around the other man, pulling him firmly against his chest.
Ian was back.
"Welcome back Marsh… I thought that I'd lost you…" He said softly.
That firmness warranted arms lifting, curling around strong neck. He sighed against warm flesh. It was still daylight, Ian had no idea why they weren’t at work and why his leg wasn’t there but those would come.
“You’d never lose me,” he breathed, promised. Pulling back a bit he looked up through lashes at the other man. “Never.”
Although Ian's words were said with conviction, it was obvious to JD just how easy it could be to lose his best friend, no one knew what had caused this bout of amnesia, or if it would occur again.
After a while of just holding each other JD spoke. "You had amnesia. You couldn't remember your name, my name or anything."
Pulling back further he looked up at the other man. “Amnesia?” That didn’t make any sense, but then he couldn’t remember what had happened to cause it. That didn’t seem like him. He could never forget JD. He loved him. Loved everything about him.
A look of adoration came across his face. He loved the man. He couldn’t deny it. But he did and he knew that, too.
“Thanks for being here for me.” Not that he expected any less than that.
"I thought we'd have to start all over again." That was something that scared him if the amnesia had continued, trying to teach Ian everything, again. "It was like we were back at the VA, you could barely walk without me holding you up… which is why you've got your crutches now, your leg is beside the bed."
"You know I'll always be here for you Ian, no matter what happens."
He was grateful for that. A nod would come, he breathed heavily, evenly out. “No, I can’t remember what happened but I’d never leave you. Not in a million lifetimes.” One of his hands found JD’s. He held it, clutched it. He nearly died to save this man and he’d do that again without a second of hesitation.
Pulling back from the embrace he let Ian hold his hand, the free one coming up to cup around the one that was held in his. "I know you wouldn't, but if something like this was to happen again… I don't care if you forget who I am and it lasts for more than a few hours, we'd take it a step at a time."
Even if Ian completely forgot who he was forever JD would never give up on Ian, he loved him too much to just leave when his friend needed him.
It horrified him to know that he’d been through that, put his friend through that. Whatever he’d done to get that veil over his thoughts he did not want a repeat of. If only he could remember what had happened so as best avoid it. But he wouldn’t dwell on it. He hoped they’d build another life if that happened, something with them in the center and not the island.
Nodding, Ian squeezed fingers, hand, and sighed. Weariness settled into his features.
A soft kiss was placed on Ian’s forehead, lips lingering a bit longer than they probably should have but at this moment JD didn’t care, he had his best friend back and a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Tomorrow they’d tackle the day, let the doctors know that Ian’s memory had returned and go back about their lives on the island, but for tonight - JD wasn’t going to leave.
“Why don’t you go and have a warm shower and get changed? You’ve had one hell of a stressful day.”
Knowing JD was right Ian nodded. He was reluctant to pull away finding the warmth that they were sharing comforting. Whatever he’d been through beyond what had happened he wasn’t sure, he couldn’t remember, but that didn’t matter. What mattered to him was here and now in this moment.
Finally he managed to pull back. A nod would come in reply. “Yes sir.” There it was, that trademark phrase, and then Ian was slowly retreating to find his crutches. Without his leg he would be fine, he’d managed plenty of times before now. His hand lifted to a pulley nearby and up he hoisted himself, gathering the crutches beneath the nest of his arms where they met the shoulder.
JD sat as Ian hoisted himself to his feet, he knew better than to ask if he could help with little things like that, now that his friend could remember how to do things like that he wasn’t needed as much, it was back to the normal routine.
“I’m just going to call the doctor, let him know your memory has returned and that we’ll drop in tomorrow for a quick check up.” He stood up, smiled at Ian and placed another quick kiss to the top of that cropped hair. “I’ll be here if you need a hand.” Not that he was expecting that his help would be needed, showering was something Ian could most definitely do by himself.
His mouth opened almost to proclaim that help was indeed needed, but that felt selfish. Mostly because it was. He bit the words back and nodded instead, pivoting on a heel and maneuvering his crutches in the direction of the bathroom.
A few soft noises from the metal objects - a click, click, click - as he moved but overall he made it successfully. When he reached the bathroom the light would be turned on, and the crutches set aside for better operation and movement.
Water would be heard moments later. The door was left ajar, tempting, as he began the task of stripping down.
When he heard the water running JD grabbed his phone from where he had placed it on the dining table alongside the bag that held his keys, ID and a few other things. The number for the Medical Center was dialed and the doctor who he had seen hours earlier summonsed, it only took a minute or so to inform him of the progress, and yes, they would be in at 9 tomorrow for some tests to make sure that there was no permanent damage to Ian’s brain from whatever had caused this amnesia.
He then called their boss, who had already gotten briefed on the situation and Ian was given the day off, JD though still had to do an afternoon shift but at least he’d have the morning to make sure that Ian was alright and to accompany his friend to the appointments, something he knew that Ian wasn’t really that much of a fan of.
JD knocked on the door of the bathroom but he did not enter, privacy was given. “I just talked to the doc and our boss. Medical Center at nine but the boss has given you tomorrow off, just to be on the safe side.” He said loud enough to be heard over the sounds of the shower.
Only the water was running. Ian was half dressed, clad only in his boxer briefs, leaning over the sink. JD’s voice could be heard over the waterfall, deep and husky. He knew he had it bad for the other man without any shred of doubt.
When his friend was back at the door, he found himself a bit surprised at the quickness of the conversations.
“Oh okay, great,” he called, moving to open the door. He looked at his friend, “Thanks for taking care of me today.”
There wasn’t really a lot to say, Ian was alright and he had relayed information to both men, no need to tell them more than was absolutely necessary, his friend could go into more detail when he saw the doctor the following day and if he needed more time off that could be worked out with their boss.
He was leaning with his shoulder against the door jam, waiting until he got some kind of confirmation from within before he’d go and let Ian shower in peace, maybe he’d put the kettle on, or duck across the hall and get a few things from his own place. He was about to move after getting the short ‘oh okay, great’ but what he hadn’t expected the door to be opened and for Ian to be looking at him and thanking him.
“No worries at all, you’d have done the same for me.” JD smiled, it was what friends did for one another. “Is there anything I can do for you?”
There it was again. That weight sitting on his tongue, pressing against the backs of his lips. He wanted to express what he was feeling - he wanted to extend the invitation for JD to join him but he didn’t want to frighten the other man off either.
Leaning against the sink with his back and backside pressed into the lip for balance Ian turned to peer up at his friend. He made himself find the courage to finally speak his mind.
“Need help with my back,” he said, thumbing over his shoulder and down to the curve of his back. That was lame. Awful. But at least it was out there now.
There was a soft chuckle at that response, it didn’t really surprise JD when Ian asked, even with the multitude of tools available in the shower washing the middle of back while trying to balance was never easy.
“Okay, get in and I’ll wash your back.”
Some people would think that strange but JD had been there at all stages of Ian’s recovery, hell he had showered and bathed his friend more times than he could remember, let alone count.
He could take care of washing himself, that wasn’t the point behind the invitation. The extension of want was purely selfish and he felt a bit bad about it but it didn’t show on his face.
With a nod Ian finished undressing the rest of the way, folded clothes piled neatly nearby on the downed seat of the commode. And then he was slipping carefully over the lip of the tub and into the water cascading from the shower head.
He did his best to extend privacy to his friend, tempted to sneak a peek as JD began to undress.
Clothes were removed, folded and stacked neatly on the floor next to the toilet. Back at previous places where the shower was just a glassed in box stripping down to nothing wasn't really necessary, he was able to leave his clothes on.
Whoever had designed this place obviously had budget or something in mind and the first time he had tried to assist Ian in the shower after a particularly rough night he ended up just as wet, so strip off and hop in was the way to go. Privacy wasn't a big thing in the Army.
He stepped in but stood back as Ian got himself wet, this was his friend's shower, not his. He might've also taken a peek at the other man in a not overly pure way, JD often admired Ian's body, but it was more in the way someone admires a statue like David, to appreciate the beauty but in no way sexual, but that had changed recently.
The water felt good against his skin. Hand would go to a metal bar nearby for balance as he proceeded to moisten himself down. Head would tilt into the spray, and then backward so the cascading droplets would descend down taut skin and chiseled muscles. The heat from the water was exquisite.
Once he was good and soaked Ian pivoted a bit, peering over a shoulder at the other man. “Gonna get cold all the way over there.”
JD smiled over at Ian. "Let's just concentrate on getting you washed to start with." His tone lighthearted with a hint of a tease to it. He couldn't imagine that Ian would be as accepting to sharing a shower if he still had amnesia, it would probably scare the poor man.
The soap was taken from the shower caddy and lathered up between hands before the task of washing Ian's back begun, starting up near the neck and slowly working down.
Nodding he stilled, allowing JD to lather up the flesh across his shoulders and down his back. Ian’s eyes closed, leaning back against those strong hands and fingers as they spread the soapy suds around. He stepped carefully from the immediate downpour so as not to wash the soap away instantly.
He was thankful, grateful for JD. What he would have done without the other man was beyond him.
A tune was hummed softly as he washed Ian's back and sides, skipping certain areas on purpose, Ian could wash those areas himself. He squatted down, legs receiving the same treatment before the bar of soap was handed over.
"There… nice and clean." JD said, giving his friend a gentle nudge towards the spray again to wash the suds off.
He took the bar of soap once it was offered, lathering himself up on the front end carefully and gently. He had learned long ago about patience in the shower. No need to slip and fall for trying to rush through.
When the soap was set aside Ian moved beneath the warm spray to rid himself of the suds. Muscles relaxed, skin felt better.
"Feeling better?" He asked once Ian had washed all the suds off, a good shower always made him feel better, especially after a stressful day and losing your memory for hours was definitely stressful.
A step forward was taken towards the spray and a soft sigh as the warm water started hitting his front, a hand moved up and rested gently on Ian's shoulder as they stood close to each other, mind trying to not think about their close proximity.
Nodding, Ian moved as best he could from the spray to let his friend feel the warmth of the water. Shoulder nearly to shoulder they would stand for a bit until Ian moved slightly further back to let JD have the full force of the spray.
That hand on his shoulder comforted him. Easing closer his arm lifted, winding around the other man to steady himself but also to bask in that closeness.
JD's eyes closed as he let the water wash over him, thank goodness they had good water pressure here, a good shower could be ruined if the pressure was bad. "Remember that little apartment we shared when you first started rehab? With the noisy pipes and bad water pressure?" He asked.
The soap was picked back up and handed back to Ian as he slowly turned around, not too fast so Ian could still hold onto him for support.
“Yep. I still think about that place once in a while,” he admitted. The soap outstretched was taken and he carefully minded his friend as JD pivoted. Slow circles would be drawn across the skin with the soap bar, bubbles from the suds erupting.
“How young we were.” Those weren’t days he wished to have back because of the trauma that had come with it.
That was when he was beginning to understand a bit more about his feelings for JD though he still hadn’t the grasp on them then the way he did now.
It was ten years ago, they were in their mid twenties at the time but it did seem like a lifetime ago now. JD hadn't gone through the same trauma that Ian had, having to relearn how to walk and do pretty much everything that one relied on a leg for. His problems were mostly in his head, PTSD had hit him hard in the beginning.
"At least it was close to the VA and designed for your needs." Then again that apartment had probably seen dozens of disabled veterans living there over the course of the war. "They definitely didn't design this place for your needs but at least you were able to alter it." The bars in the bathroom, pulleys and such in the bedroom and living area to help him stand. Some places wouldn't have let him make this alterations.
The slow circles on his back felt good, a soft sigh escaping his lips. His muscles were still tight from the earlier stresses but the warmth of the shower and Ian's touch was helping.
Most of the alterations he’d done himself or had help in installing. Nobody went to such lengths to accommodate someone in his situation unless they had something to offer that Ian didn’t. He couldn’t pay, didn’t want to compromise his moral integrity. So he had taken it upon himself to increase mobility.
“Yeah, it took a while,” he agreed, nodding, “but it was worth it.”
Finally the soaping ceased. The bar of soap was set down and Ian moved so that his friend could find the shower again.
JD had helped install most of them as he had done in previous places, anything to help make Ian's life easier. Ian had lost his leg in the war on behalf of the US, even though he was a veteran as well his friend deserved more respect than he did.
"I seriously thought we'd have to go through all that again, you couldn't even take a step without wobbling like a marionette. It was worrying to see you like that again."
The suds were washed off and JD turned s they were facing each other again. "But no matter what, you're not going to get rid of me that easily."
He couldn’t remember any of what JD was saying so he nodded along as if to say that he understood. “I used to feel a little bit like a flamingo,” he explained, waving to the stump below, “not nearly as graceful but the same in the fact that they stood on a single leg.”
Peering up at the other man his eyes were bright. Arms would wind around his friend and he drew close to the other. “I hope not.”
The idea of Ian as a flamingo made JD laugh, a nice hearty laugh that made his chest shake. "You know that I'm going to have that mental image stuck in my head for ages now." Though maybe not the big beak or long neck.
"I'm going to stick around like a bad smell." He smiled down at Ian, hands moving to rest on the other man's shoulders and thumbs massaging the muscles underneath.
That laugh had him laughing too - the idea of him as a pink, one legged bird was hilarious. “I blame myself.” A good chuckle between friends was good, right? He hadn’t even intended that to happen.
The kneading at muscle elicited a groan of satisfaction. He couldn’t help it. Fingers gripped lightly at skin. Heart was racing.
Although he was used to the sounds that Ian made, he was now starting to learn the difference between the 'just happy or content' ones and those that said 'that is kind of arousing', that groan was almost bordering on the edge between the two.
"C'mon, let's get out of here. I'll make you something for dinner and you can relax on the couch."
By now Ian has began to understand the same thing about his friend; little sounds had meanings not always visible or prominent. He took the challenge of discovering all of those willingly.
“Okay, that sounds great.” A breath would be taken. He moved to turn the water off as carefully as possible before easing himself out of the shower. Once he was settled and steady outside the tub towels would be taken down and passed around.
But at the moment JD didn't really want the evening to go in that direction, just a quiet night in to get over the stress of the day. Just something to eat and maybe a movie.
He waited until Ian was out of the shower before getting out as well, the offered towel was taken and water dried off before the cotton was wrapped around his waist, somewhere in the bottom of Ian's dresser he would have a pair of sleep pants. "What do you feel like?"
“Something simple.” He wasn’t necessarily in the mood just then either to do anything more than relax with his friend. Drying himself off, Ian wound the towel around his waist and eased into the bedroom. He was familiar with the journey and made it easily enough. A stop would be taken to put his prosthetic back on, and then with better balance the process of dressing came easily.
Basketball shorts and a fitted white tee shirt were adorned. And then into the kitchen he went to find his friend something to eat
While Ian was fussing around with his leg JD got changed at the other side of the room, glad that he kept a spare set of clothes at Ian's, having to dash across the hall in just a towel might be embarrassing if someone was outside.
After searching the fridge JD decided that a light salad would be light and suitable, especially since Ian probably wasn't too hungry. "Go and sit down Ian, I've got this."
He didn’t realize just how ravenous he was until the scents from the kitchen wafted toward him. Sure it was just the beginnings of a salad but he found that his mouth was watering, that the interest to consume was there - lettuce or flesh he couldn’t be quite certain - but he would let his friend determine that hungry look as he pleased.
A nod would come and Ian did an easy about face, heading back into the living area. Only a moment would he pause to assess where he wanted to end up before he made his way to the couch to sit. Easing back into familiar cushions he closed his eyes, waiting for the arrival of the other man.
There was never a moment he would deny anyone anything if they needed it. Ian didn’t mind cooking for himself or for anyone else, he gathered joy from the simple task. But he wasn’t going to argue with a man who outweighed him in pure muscle.
It wasn't overly fancy, there was a bit of chicken left from the night before so he added that to the salad, they both needed the proteins to keep their fit shape and tonight it just happened to be chicken.
With the meal divided in two bowls JD grabbed forks before making his way to the couch. "Dinner is served." He said as he handed a bowl over, sitting down near Ian but not directly next to, not at the moment because despite the events of the afternoon he was hungry.
Eyes would open as those footfalls neared. Ian turned to look up at his friend, accepting the bowl of chicken and salad. He dug in with purpose, no sounds emitting from him other than the crunch of the lettuce or a groan of appreciation. The simple things were the best kinds - small, thoughtful, shared with someone you loved.
The salad was demolished and when he was finished Ian would get up, carefully, and would head to the kitchen to rinse the bowl.
He hummed a bit to himself as the bowl was washed beneath the steady tap and then dried easily with a nearby hand towel.
“When you’re done bring it in here, I’ll wash it.”
JD was a bit slower at eating than Ian was but by the time the request for dirty bowls had come he had finished and took the dishes to the kitchen. This was their routine, when they shared meals together one person cooked and the other cleaned up.
Their mommas would be so proud of them.
"What do you feel like doing now? I was thinking about watching some MythBusters, watching them blow shit up." Sometimes a bit of senseless destruction was therapeutic.
He blinked, and then laughed softly. A hand would come up to clap his friend gently upon a mighty bicep, “Then let’s watch them blow shit up.” Amusement touched the corners of his eyes as he uttered those words but he wasn’t taking that comment back. He knew how much JD dug the show and who was he to stop it?
A toss of his head toward the couch and the television and Ian was pulling away. It wasn’t but a few steps until he was sitting down again. As soon as he got comfortable the exhaustion began to creep up and over him.
He could handle seeing inanimate objects getting blown up, but when it came to shows on war or humans getting injured that hit too close to home for him.
When Ian settled on the couch JD got one of the MythBuster DVDs out that he kept there and putting it into the player. With the remotes in hand he walked back to the couch and sat down beside Ian, seeing the signs of exhaustion on the other man's features. A large arm wrapped around Ian's shoulder and pulled the other closer. "Relax. You've had a tough day."
Ian breathed out a heavy exhale. Relief, exhaustion, the weight of the day. He shifted to nestle up against JD, leaning into the man’s embrace. His eyes fixed on the screen. They’d seen these episodes before but he never complained, never denied his friend the joy of watching the show even if they knew how it ended already.
A hand would fall to settle upon one of JD’s knees and before too long Ian felt the claws of the exhaustion digging hard into his skin. He fought, but eventually it won and he drifted to sleep next to his friend.
They were about two thirds of the way through the episode when JD felt Ian fall asleep, he knew the soft and deep breaths his friend took when he drifted off. There was an explosion on the show and that was enough for JD, the TV and DVD player was turned off and remotes placed on the cushion beside him.
Ian's sleeping form was maneuvered into his arms and the short trip to the bedroom wasn't all that difficult. His friend was placed down on one side while the covers were stripped back before gently getting rolled over to the other. The leg gently removed and placed beside the bed before he went back out into the living area to turn off the lights and double check the door. Happy with everything he went back into the bedroom, turned that light off too and climbed into the bed beside Ian. "Night Marsh."