Chapter Thirty Three
Aabirah walked into Daaem’s hospital room alone. Ameer had gone to speak with the doctor and had insisted that she go on ahead and see Daaem while he was busy.
He was asleep when she entered, restlessly fidgeting underneath the blankets. Automatically, Aabirah sat down in the chair next to him and reached out to take his hand, carefully avoiding the IV drip in it.
For a while the only noise in the room came from their breathing. Then Daaem began to wake.
His eyes fluttered open and he looked around in confusion.
“Daaem, are you alright?” Aabirah leaned over him. “Do you want me to get a nurse?”
Daaem had an awful expression on his face. He muttered something indistinct and fliched away when Aabirah leaned closer to hear him.
“I can’t hear you, what is it?”
“Alone,” he whispered. “Leave me alone.”
“What?” Aabirah straightened up, confused.
“Leave me alone!” Daaem shouted. “Go! I don’t want you here! Get out, just get out!” His voice cracked.
Aabirah stumbled back. “Daaem, I just -”
“Leave me alone, Aabirah!”
“I’m going! I’m going.”
Outside, Aabirah almost walked straight into her father in law.
Ameer caught her by the arms and steadied her. “Is everything alright?” he asked, frowning at her in concern.
“Yes, everything’s fine,” Aabirah said, trying to smile.
“You’re crying, sweetheart.”
“Oh,” Aabirah lifted a hand to her face. She hadn’t realized.
“Do you need a minute?”
“Yes! Yes, I think I do,” Aabirah agreed.
Ameer nodded, businesslike. “Alright, we’ll be here when you’re ready.”
Aabirah resisted the urge to tell him that she would never be ready and just nodded before going off in search of a bathroom.
She couldn’t believe Daaem’s childishness.
“How are you feeling?”
Daaem looked up at the question. “Like I got stomped on,” he admitted. “What are you doing here?”
“My son landed himself in a hospital bed. Where else would I be?”
“I don’t know,” Daaem said tiredly. “How bad is the publicity on this?”
“It’s terrible,” Ameer said matter-of-factly.
“Sorry,” Daaem picked at the scratchy hospital sheets.
“That’s why you’re sorry? Because of the bad publicity?” Ameer sounded furious.
“Yeah,” Daaem kept his eyes on the sheets. “Well, and for totalling the car, I guess.”
“What else is there?” Daaem asked, confused. A thought hit him and he looked up, horrified. “Did I hurt someone?”
“No. The only person you hurt was yourself.”
Daaem sighed in relief, falling back onto his pillows. “Then what else do I have to be sorry about? I didn’t make you waste your time to come and visit me,” he defended himself. “I’m not apologizing for that.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about, Daaem! You could have killed yourself. You’ll be in this hospital bed for the next week at least because of how badly you hurt yourself. You had to go into emergency surgery, did you know that? Do you know how it felt for me to get a call in the middle of the night hearing that my son had nearly killed himself?”
“I’m sorry they called you,” was all Daaem could think to say.
“Don’t apologize for that!” Ameer snapped.
“What then?” Daaem shouted, frustrated. “What do you want me to say? Just tell me already!”
“I want you to apologize for being so reckless it nearly killed you! I want you to care about the fact that you got into a completely preventable accident because you decided to drink and drive!”
“I didn’t drink last night,” Daaem corrected, confused.
“Daaem, don’t lie about something that stupid.”
“I’m not lying. I didn’t drink. I didn’t want to deal with the hangover because I had a headache,” Daaem frowned in confusion. “Why did I crash if I wasn’t drinking?”
“How would I know!” his father snapped. “Are you sure?” Ameer asked. “Because there’ve been tests done on you already. I will get those results first and if you’ve been lying to me, I will let the police gain access to them. The penalty for drinking and driving is jail time, Daaem. Tell me the truth, now.”
“I wasn’t drinking! I remember the entire night, I didn’t drink. I even remember driving – I wasn’t drunk,” Daaem was starting to panic. What had happened to him?
“Alright,” Ameer soothed. “Alright, calm down. You’re in a hospital, they’ll be able to figure it out. Let me go find your doctor, alright?”
“Yeah,” Daaem nodded. “Okay.”
There was a knock and Daaem looked up. “Come in,” he called, confused. Why was Ameer knocking?
But the man who walked in wasn’t his father.
“Adam?” Daaem blinked in confusion. “Are you lost?”
Adam laughed. “No, though I don’t blame you for thinking so. I wanted to see how you were doing. And maybe apologize too.”
“I was pretty awful to you the last time we spoke. It’s been bothering me for a while now but I was too embarrassed to call you,” Adam admitted, looking uncomfortable.
Daaem burst out laughing. A few seconds later, he was wincing, a hand pressed to his side.
“Ow,” he said simply. “Are you serious?” he asked Adam, disbelieving. “You came to apologize to me?”
“Why? You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“No. But there were better ways to handle the situation. And… I feel partly responsible for the state you’re in right now.”
Daaem stared. “What?”
“This spiral of yours has been pretty well-documented by the press. I know you were trying really hard to fix things once I backed out of our deal and since then you’ve been in the news for all the wrong reasons,” Adam pointed out.
“I’ve been in the news for doing questionable things before,” Daaem said. “That wasn’t your fault either.”
“I still feel responsible. I blamed you for your father-in-law’s actions and that wasn’t fair.”
“Okay,” Daaem said, still disbelieving. “So what do you want?”
“Forgiveness would be good.”
“Fine, you’re forgiven.” Daaem expected the other man to leave at that but Adam lingered.
“Is there something else?” Daaem asked finally, when the silence had stretched on for a while.
“I wanted to offer to help.”