An hour earlier, Fiearius had been in the Beacon’s infirmary, leaning against the counter and nervously tapping his fingers against its surface. Despite Daelen’s instructions, he refused to go anywhere near the infirmary beds. He’d lived in one for nearly a month and he had no desire to repeat that, even if that meant irritating the good doctor.
After they’d returned from their stay at the hotel, he’d dropped Leta off at breakfast with Corra. Corra had been more than happy to take her off his hands and Leta, in much better spirits today, seemed glad to be in the company of her friend as Fiearius attended to an important meeting he couldn’t get out of. He’d failed to mention who the meeting was with and where.
But that didn’t make him less nervous about being caught. “Can we hurry this up by any chance?” he muttered as Daelen stood at the console, tapping away like nothing was wrong, the bastard.
“Afraid not,” said Daelen simply. “It takes what it takes.”
Fiearius groaned and pushed himself from the counter, taking to pacing around the room. “I thought you already did the blood test thing. Why do you have to do it again anyway?”
“I need to monitor any changes.” He glanced back at him. “You haven’t been using, correct?”
“No of course not,” Fiearius growled, rolling his eyes. “Not since you gave me those meds.”
“So you think they’re working then?”
Fiearius hesitated. Sure, they’d worked for three days. But he could do three days on his own, that part was easy. Even with the meds, would he still be alright when the fever started? Or the vomiting? Somehow he doubted it, but nonetheless he muttered a flippant, “Yeah, probably.”
“That’s great,” Daelen said cheerfully, but with a certain tone that made Fiearius think he knew he was lying. “Though it will still be a lot easier if you can tell me exactly what you were taking.”
It was probably the tenth time he’d asked and yet still Fiearius couldn’t bring himself to admit it. Something about saying the word out loud, about telling this doctor, made it seem so…final. It felt like leaping off the edge of a cliff. So yet again, he deflected. “Can’t you just figure it out? With science or whatever?”
“I have theories,” Daelen replied, undeterred as ever, even as he cast Fiearius a pointed sideways glance. “But facts are a lot more useful.” Fiearius met his stare head on before scoffing indignantly and needing to look away.
Just then, the console Daelen was working on made a ding. “Ah, there we go,” he chimed as Fiearius slowly drifted towards him to hover behind his shoulder. On the screen was a chart, but it meant very little to him. Numbers and letters he didn’t recognize, an array of illegible information. Daelen easily scrolled through it, making a few thoughtful ‘hm’s’ as he went along.
Finally, Fiearius couldn’t take it anymore. “Well?” he demanded.
“Well.” Daelen turned to face him. “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. Which would you like first?”
It was a question Fiearius never found comforting. “Bad, I guess.”
Daelen began to pace a slow circle around him. “The bad news is that your blood levels haven’t changed as much as I was hoping they would and your vitals are starting to weaken. You’re in the beginning stages of withdrawal and the medication you’ve been taking seems to be having no effect.”
Fiearius stared at him, feeling suddenly numb. “No effect? At all?”
“I’m afraid not. Whatever dependency you’ve developed, it’s stronger than the medication to battle it. We could keep trying it, but I doubt it’ll be effective.”
“So…what does that mean?”
“Well that’s the good news,” Daelen went on. “You’re not my first addiction patient and you definitely won’t be the first that I’ve helped through withdrawals. The Beacon is well-stocked with painkillers and fever reducers and I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way to make the detox process as painless as possible.” He smiled what he must have thought was an encouraging smile and laid his hand on Fiearius’ shoulder. “We can get through this.”
This. Get through Flush withdrawals. The thought made a shiver run down Fiearius’ spine. He couldn’t remember the brunt of them from the first time around — he’d been completely delirious. For a week. But he could remember the time going in and coming out of that week and he would take getting beaten, shot, electrocuted and partially set on fire over going through that again. And here was Daelen telling him he could ‘get through this’.
Of course, this had always been the plan, hadn’t it? He had been trying to get off this shit for a while now, of course, he’d known, eventually it would come to this. But up until now, it had never felt very real before. He’d never made it past the first few days before he’d given up. The horror of it had stayed safely at a distance. But now he could feel it staring him right in the face and he was unable to look away.
Daelen, however, had already moved on. “Now, by my estimates based on these readings, we have a couple of days before your symptoms amplify. In that time, we’ll work together to map out a plan. You’re likely going to be bedridden for some time and it’s essential that I’m with you through the process so we’ll have to discuss ship arrangements of course.”
Ship arrangements? Gods, what the hell was he getting into? Thoughtlessly, he took a few steps back and sank onto the edge of the infirmary bed. Suddenly, recovery seemed huge and overwhelming, like he stood at the base of a mountain.
He couldn’t do this. What was Daelen talking about? He couldn’t do this, but Daelen just kept going on.
“–and I’ll also need to know in advance any allergies you might have. If you’ve taken anything else recently? If you can give me a sample of the drug, I should be able to create a more comprehensive treatment. We should also discuss with Leta if she’d be willing to–”
That was where Fiearius tuned out. Leta. He could already imagine her face, horrified, when she found out. And she would find out. She would see. She would know.
“I can’t,” he said suddenly, standing up and shaking his head. Daelen stopped mid-sentence and stared. “I can’t do this. I can’t go through the withdrawals. Everyone will know.”
Daelen regarded him with calm, polite interest. “Yes,” he confirmed. “Yes, I’m afraid there’s little chance this can be conducted in secrecy.”
Fiearius just continued to shake his head, pacing the room furiously. “I can’t do it. I won’t do it. She can’t find out.”