9.49: What Friends Do

God, I fucking hate this. Landon thought wearily as he wheeled himself over the threshold of the bathroom and back into his hospital room.

He’d just finished a lengthy and humiliating trip to the bathroom… But at least he was able to do it by himself now. It was something, right? ‘Baby steps,’ his doctors and nurses kept telling him. 

Yeah, literally. He certainly felt like a baby now — completely helpless, still learning how to do the most stupid things like go to the bathroom by himself, and, worst of all, still unable to walk. 

Landon couldn’t wait for it all to be over and things to finally go back to normal.

Tap-tap-tap.

“Come in.” Landon replied as the sound of knocking reached his ears. He looked up, expecting to see one of the nurses coming in to get his breakfast order. 

Instead, he was met with a much more welcome sight.

Every time Asher walked through the door, Landon felt for a moment like he was in a dream.

He’d felt it most strongly that first time. When he was wheeled into that hospital room, panicked and almost delirious, Landon looked up at Asher’s face, and felt certain he had to be dreaming. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d dreamt of his old high school flame.

It didn’t happen very often, of course, but the mind worked in mysterious ways sometimes, and even after all these years, Asher would creep into his thoughts or his dreams when he least expected it.

After so many years apart, the details had begun to fade — the exact features of Asher’s face, the sound of his voice… All of that slowly vanished with time. But the adorable layer of freckles that covered his face, his deep brown eyes, and his loud and infectious laugh never left Landon. And now, somehow, he got to see and hear them almost every day, in full detail — a welcome moment of pleasant dreaming in the midst of his current waking nightmare.

“Hey, you alright?” Landon’s brow furrowed in concern as his mind snapped back to the present. He was finally able to look past Asher’s cute freckles and lovely eyes and take note of the tired expression on the other man’s face.

“Yeah, just exhausted.” Asher replied, smiling weakly as he pulled up a chair by Landon.

Landon leaned in slightly to examine his friend more carefully. It was only seven in the morning, and Asher rarely stopped by so early. He was in his usual work outfit, minus his lab coat… And minus his tie too. That was when it finally clicked.

“Oh shit… Were you working all night again?”

Asher nodded wearily.

“Why the hell do they keep doing this to you?” Landon asked, shaking his head.

Asher simply shrugged. “‘Cause I’m the new kid. Rookie doctors always get the shittiest shifts. It’s like an unspoken rule or something.”

Landon sighed. “Well that’s bullshit…” He paused. Much as he wanted to visit with Asher, it didn’t feel right to have him stay up on his account. “You should go home and get some sleep.” 

“Nah, I’m fine. Gotta come see you while I still have the chance anyway, right?” Asher smiled a bit more easily this time. The sight brought a burst of warmth to Landon’s heart.

A low laugh passed his lips. “Not like I’m going that far. The rehab hospital’s what? Twenty minutes away?”

“True… But I have a feeling they won’t let me pop in at random whenever I want to.” Asher replied. “Working here has its perks… Plus you’re gonna be a lot busier. Those rehab facilities are no joke.”

“Good. I’m ready for it! I’ll do whatever the hell they want me to, long as it gets my legs working again…” Landon looked down at the two useless limbs at his waist and let out a sigh. You’re gonna beat this thing, he reminded himself. You’re one of the best quarterbacks in the whole friggin’ league, and your career isn’t over yet. 

Asher seemed to sense Landon’s moment of sadness. “Hey, you’re gonna do great! I mean, you’re already kicking ass with your PT here. And you’re wheeling yourself around like a pro already.” He gestured toward the wheelchair as he spoke. 

Landon’s next laugh was humorless. “Thanks… And seriously, don’t stress about coming to visit. I know they’re working you like a friggin’ dog over here. And you’ve already been way more awesome to me than I probably deserve… Thanks for that, by the way.” He added somewhat awkwardly.

In truth, some days it felt like Asher was the only thing keeping him sane. He didn’t really have anybody else. His parents had flown out to visit him, sure… But he’d never been particularly close with them, especially not since he publicly came out a few years ago.

And Gio had come to him in the hospital that first week after the accident, but it wasn’t long before he’d left for his next modeling gig. Landon had barely heard from him since. In the handful of months they’d been together, Gio had proven to be a bit flakey, so this type of thing was typical… But it didn’t make it hurt any less.

Despite all the gifts and messages from fans, and the phone calls and words of encouragement from his coach and teammates, Landon had never felt quite so alone in his entire life.

“No thanks necessary.” Asher paused, letting out a large yawn. “I know it’s been a long time and there was a lot of shit that happened way back then…” He began awkwardly. “But we’re still friends, aren’t we?” 

He returned Asher’s smile. “Of course.”

“Then like I said, no need to thank me. This is what friends do.”

They sat together in silence for a few moments after that. But it wasn’t an awkward silence. More thoughtful, almost. Part of Landon wondered what sort of thoughts Asher might have been having, and whether they were anything like his own.

At last, he decided to break the silence by lifting the remote from the edge of his hospital bed and turning on the TV. “Since I’m guessing you’re too exhausted to play anything right now.” Landon explained, flipping through the channels. “Not sure if there’s anything good on this early, but…” He shrugged.

After just a few moments, Asher suddenly spoke. “Wait, go back… Were they just talking about the hospital?”

Landon felt his stomach sink a little as he went back to the previous channel. Probably another stupid report about me…

 “– but sources say it was Levon Jeffries who made the call to 911, leading to some speculation that it was Samantha Murdock who was brought in by ambulance late last night.” The entertainment news anchor spoke over several shots of the hospital where the two of them were currently sitting. “We will update as more information becomes available. Samantha Murdock is –”

Landon couldn’t help his relief, though he eyed Asher curiously as the woman onscreen continued. “Wait, that was last night?”

“Yup… God, I feel so bad for her. And I’m not just talking about what happened to her either. I mean, yeah, that’s shitty enough already… But now with the stupid media on top of everything else.” Asher gestured toward the television. “They just can’t leave anyone alone, can they?”

Landon shook his head. “They never do, trust me. Bunch of fucking vultures.” He paused to let out a soft sigh. “Though I guess I’m pretty lucky. I don’t get it half as bad as the ‘Hollywood elite’, or whatever you wanna call them. Especially in the off-season.” He added, smiling slightly.

“And, as you might remember, it’s been a star-studded few weeks over at the hospital.” The anchor continued. “Nearly three weeks after his motorcycle collision…”

“You were saying?” Asher asked teasingly.

He couldn’t help but laugh in reply, though he inwardly cringed as the report continued on.

“– being transferred from Del Sol Valley Medical Center to a rehabilitation facility this weekend. Littlehale has released the following statement: ‘I’d like to thank all my fans for their outpouring of love and support over the past few weeks. It means the world to me as I begin my journey toward recovery. Thank you for respecting my privacy during this time.’”

Asher turned toward him, a look of disbelief on his face.

“No, I didn’t write it.” Landon answered the unspoken question. “My publicist did. Apparently she thought ‘I love you guys to death, but can you seriously mind your own fucking business’ wouldn’t go over quite as well, so….”

Asher let out a bright burst of the laughter that Landon loved so much. “You really told her to say that? I can’t tell if you’re joking or not.”

“I’ll never tell.” He teased. 

The other man opened his mouth as though he wanted to say something, but his words were cut off by a series of buzzes from his pocket.

Asher pulled out his phone and looked down at the screen. The instant he did, his expression changed to one of discomfort.

“Everything okay?” Landon asked.

“Y-yeah…” Asher rose to his feet, still looking incredibly uncomfortable. “I’ll be right back. Just gotta take this.”

He went out into the hallway and closed the door behind him before finally answering, his voice completely muffled by both the television and the heavy wooden door.

Landon hesitated. He knew that listening-in on Asher’s conversation wasn’t the right thing to do, but he was worried. What if something was wrong?

He lifted the remote again and muted the TV, then pushed Asher’s chair out of the way the best he could. Once the path was clear, he carefully wheeled himself closer to the door, straining to hear. 

He was just barely able to make out a few words from the other side of the door. “I know, Ollie…” Even through the thick panel of wood, he could hear the warmth in Asher’s voice. “I can’t wait either.”

There was a brief flash of anger — fleeting and almost instinctual — at the sound of the name he hadn’t thought of in years. It didn’t last very long, but it took Landon by surprise to revisit that deeply-buried pain from so long ago. 

Whenever he’d thought of Asher, it had only been the good memories that had come to his mind. It was as though he’d let himself forget about how it all had ended — how Asher had fallen in love with someone else right under his nose. How that anonymous email had finally revealed the truth. And how Landon had made the gut-wrenching decision to let Asher go, rather than have to worry about sharing Asher’s heart with someone else.

That was years ago, Landon reminded himself as the brief flash of anger finally dissipated. Another lifetime. Everything had changed since then. He had a brand-new life on the opposite side of the country now, thousands of miles away from Asher. An amazing career. A hot boyfriend. Millions of adoring fans. And millions of dollars too.

He was a completely different person than he was back then. And Asher was too. So what business was it of his if Asher and Ollie were still friends? Or even more than that?

None, he told himself firmly. They could be MARRIED, and you still wouldn’t have the right to feel anything about it.

Landon let out a long, slow breath. He knew that what he’d just told himself was true.

So why did it still hurt?

Without warning, the door in front of Landon swung open. “Hey, sorry, I… Oh.” Asher looked down at him curiously. It took a moment for Landon to realize why.

How long had he been sitting there? And, more importantly, why the hell did he leave the TV muted and his wheelchair so close to the door? 

Landon rolled himself backward quickly. “Sorry, I was just… I was just gonna go check and make sure you were okay.” He knew right away how obvious his lie must have been.

“Oh. Um… yeah. Everything’s fine.” Asher’s lying was just as clear as his own had been. 

Landon couldn’t help but wonder why his friend was acting that way. He certainly sounded happy to be talking to Ollie a few minutes ago. What had changed?

“Are you sure?” Landon asked. “Because you definitely don’t sound fine.” He hesitated for a moment before finally asking the question he knew he shouldn’t. “So, uh… Who was that on the phone?”

Asher let out a heavy sigh. “I think you already know.”

Fuck.

———————————————————————————–

More cliffhangers hehehe… I promise the next one will fill in a few gaps 😉

Just wanted to take a moment to mention that December 11th marked FIVE YEARS since I’ve started writing Ashes to Ashes! I can’t believe it! There have been so many emotional highs and lows over the past five years, plenty of mistakes I wish I hadn’t made, plus things I’m super proud of and pleased with… And I’m talking both in the story AND real life! This has been a major learning and growing experience all-around, and the Rosebrooks have been there every step of the way… And so have many of YOU!

Seriously, thank you so much to every single person who has read and supported this story through all the ups and downs, with an extra-special thanks to those who have been here since the start! ❤ You’re all amazing!

Hope to have the next chapter for you guys relatively soon! Thank you all 🙂 

 

24 thoughts on “9.49: What Friends Do

  1. Yeah, that’s pretty awkward for everyone involved. Which is why I decided to screw this in my new legacy and just let everybody do whatever they want. 😀 Communication is the key, however.

    Landon is still hot, even in a wheelchair.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Landon is always yummy 😍 And you’re right about the awkwardness 😂 they are very quickly falling back into their old high school love triangle… 😬😬😬

      Thanks for reading! 😁

      Like

      1. I’ve been reading since.. uh.. well close to the beginning I think, just never commented back then. I’ve been playing Sims since 2015 or so and have been reading your story since then. Sometimes rarely but I’ve read everything!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s so hard to see Landon stuck in a wheelchair. I hope he’s able to go back to playing, but it’s not looking good. I had to laugh when the news came on and Landon’s version of his statement was very different from the one that was released.

    But …. that’s the easy stuff. Is history sorta repeating itself with yet another triangle, with Asher in the middle, possibly going to string both men along again? I feel sorry for both Landon and Ollie! Will they both run, or are they so drawn to Asher that they’ll both fight for him? Clearly, now both men know the other is around. And why would Asher hide that he’s talking to Ollie if he didn’t have feelings for Landon too.

    Well, looks like it’s time to make a choice Dr. Rosebrook. Or not. Landon may be turned off enough that he moves on and says have a nice life with Ollie. But it didn’t sound like he planned to and due to his current situation and Asher right there to help him, I doubt he will. He has nowhere to go right now.

    Dun dun dunnnn

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Landon is definitely in a weird grieving process right now with his current situation… Definitely the “denial” phase, with a healthy dose if “depression” too 😦 Hopefully he can start recovering, but also start coming to terms with how his life is probably going to be different from now on.

      I’m glad you liked the part with the statement! 😂 I always think “no real person wrote this” when I hear those canned public statements from celebrities, so I decided to include that here 😛

      Love triangle part 2 seems to be underway… though Landon does still have a boyfriend, and Ollie still ISN’T Asher’s. Who knows what will happen from here? Either way, Asher hiding these guys from each other definitely isn’t good…

      Maybe he can eventually figure it out?

      Or maybe he will lose both of them 😬

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh! I can hardly stand the fact that Asher keeps the two guys on the torture bench 🤕😖

    His conversation with Landon. They both look so relaxed and fit in each other’s company and so ….. pling! pling! immediately the sad faces return 😞
    In the end, Asher destroys his own life. He has to make a choice and there is no choice without an opt-out. …..If not, I’m afraid we’ll keep seeing the sad faces and they’ll all be losers.
    Come on Asher! I’m sure you can handle it! 🙃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, plenty of torture right now 😬 And sad faces 😦 You are right that he needs fo make a choice. If he doesn’t, he will probably lose both of them…

      But we’ll see what happens 😬🤷🏻‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This chapter makes me really worried for Ollie. Ashers demeanor at having to talk to Ollie. It PAINED him…that says it all.

    Who wouldn’t want a hunky former football star. Sure he’s in a wheelchair…now, but I can see Asher helping him with rehabilitation and I doubt Ollie would like that. At all…here’s hoping Asher doesn’t hide his relationship with Landon…

    And yay for the nod to New Beginnings! Lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, his reaction to that phone call was interesting… 😬 Next chapter we will be back in his head and will understand what he was actually feeling! And that will either answer some questions or raise more… 🤔🤷🏻‍♀️😂

      And hehe yes, it’s been fun to use that as a connecting piece both between our stories and even between these chapters, with the news broadcast! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel with Landon so much. This is terrible, and he doesn’t even seem close to the point of acknowledging and overcoming all of the horrible crap yet. It’s good he can at least relax and laugh a bit with Asher, that’s so important. But things are already going weird with those two. Well, Asher can’t know if or that Landon still feels like that for him. And he sure as hell wouldn’t go ahead in that direction knowing that Landon does have a boyfriend that’s all over him. But it wouldn’t hurt Asher to throw him at least some information. Surely he could tell some stuff about Ollie without going into confidential stuff? He doesn’t have to, but with the weird wannabe triangle that went on in their teenagehood it sure would help Landon to be told that no, Asher is not running home to his husband Ollie whenever he leaves. Or if he would, he could be honest with it. Get it out of the way. Guess med school isn’t the place to mature beyond “learn tons of books by heart and don’t freak at gory stuff to the point dinner is a good place to talk about the latest nasty stuff”.

    Hope someday he overcomes the Trademark Rosebrook sense of communication. And I will be around to see it, even if it’s another few years to come. In the end, we’re all somewhere still growing up, regardless of actual age, and can relate. And whatever comes from it will at least be interesting. And no, I’m not yet giving up on a true three-way Asher-Landon-Ollie relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Poor Landon… you’re right — he hasn’t fully acknowledged it yet, and I don’t think it’ll be pretty when he does… 😬 At least he’s got Asher to keep his spirits up in the meantime! Minus the weirdness… So much romantic tension and so much not said that probably should be… typical Rosebrook, right?

      And I love that you’re still holding out for that three-way 😂

      Like

  6. Oh dear here we are again! Asher needs to take a good hard look at things and decide who he wants to be with. I am rooting for Ollie even if Landon is cute in a wheelchair. I admire you for making it so far into your legacy while I get stuck around Gen. 3 lol. I am working on a new one as well as another story and hope since my Christmas break has started that I’ll post some new chapters. Keep up the good work and I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry it took me 20 years to write back haha You’re right that Asher need to make a decision… eventually 😂

      Good luck with your legacy! It’s really hard to keep up with it. I have no idea how I made it this far 😂 Hope you enjoyed your break! Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m trying very hard not to feel heartbroken for Landon… ok, I failed. Landon is loving through his worst nightmare, and he is a really lovely dude… and he did grow on me once we got to his POV during the teen arch, I do genuinely like him…

    That being said, as conflicted as Archer must feel like now, I feel like if he got with him now it would literally just be because a) he feels sorry for him, b) he’s the elusive first boyfriend and c) he got hottee since high school. While point b, aka the one that got away thing stands with Ollie, I think the situation with Ollie is not the same – Ollie is going through a rough time too, his life has fallen apart too, but I don’t think Asher feels sorry for him the same way, there’s more of a genuine desire to reconnect. I don’t know, it feels like there’s more potential of a genuine relationship there.

    With Landon, Landon himself sort of admits that Asher is the only positive in his life right now, so of course he’ll suddenly pine ober him, he’s all he can focus on to make himself feel better… but Asher deserves better than to be someone’s crutch. (Again, this is not intended as hate towards Landon. I like Landon, but if anything happens between them now, it will be for the wrong reasons, from both sides. With Ollie, there is an element of that too, but not to this extent, I think. There’s enough aside from that for them to have a genuine chance.)

    Landon is right, he does not have a right to feel jealous over Asher speaking to Ollie – as he says, even if Ollie and Asher were in a serious relationship, he wouldn’t have the right to, but surely it’s not out of the realm of possibility to presume they’d still be friends. He does get brownie points for acknowledging all this, mind, that’s very mature. Feelings are irrationak that way.

    Ah, what a way to end. It’s funny, it feels like a confrontation, but there’s technically nothing warranting one if they are logical about it… should be interesting to see how the conversation goes from here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can always count on you for such thoughtful comments! Thank you!

      I think you have a very good analysis of Landon (I’m dying laughing at point C though 😂😂😂) and some of the potential issues were something to happen between them right now.

      You’re also right that there’s a bit of that going on with Ollie right now too. Not in the same way or necessarily to the same extent, but there’s a certain level of pity on Asher’s side and “I need you because everything else sucks right now” from Ollie too, so it kind of mirrors what’s happening with Landon (*whispers* That was sorta-kinda my plan all along 😈). Though like you said, it’s probably stronger with Landon… his situation is a lot worse, and also a lot “fresher”.

      We’ll see how things go from here… and we will see how their conversation goes in the next chapter (which should be relatively soon? Ish? I hate being so slow lately 😂)

      Thanks again! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Not abandoned, I promise! I just ended up on an unexpected hiatus due to some craziness in my real life! I am going to make an announcement post with more info very soon! But I promise it will come back. I’d never leave this story for good ❤️

      Like

  8. Oh congratulations! That’s brilliant news! First time commenting but I followed you since dust2dust. I’m currently pregnant too with my second (due August) and I truly know how exhausting it can be to grow a human. Concentrate on you and the baby’s health and don’t stress about the story, it can wait longer (but I do want to know what’s happening 😝). Hopefully you gain some energy back in the second trimester. Sending all my love and support to you and your husband and the little one!❤❤❤❤❤

    Lots of love from a Swede in England

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your well-wishes (and for following my stories for so long!) And congratulations on your upcoming little one too!!!! That’s awesome!

      I just hit 15 weeks and I am finally starting to feel more energy, so I’m hoping it won’t be TOO much longer now! 🤞🏻

      Thank you again! ❤️❤️❤️

      Like

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