Chapter Thirty Six
Discharged for the second time in two weeks, this time with his doctor’s approval, Daaem felt much better. Remembering the state he’d been in the last time he’d set foot in his apartment made his cheeks burn with embarrassment – he’d been in a state.
Guiltily, he thought of Aabirah and the way he’d treated her. He knew now that she really had come to visit him – his father had confirmed it. Exhausted and high on painkillers, he’d assumed that she was just another dream tormenting him. But she’d been real and he’d screamed his throat nearly raw trying to make her go away.
She’d by some miracle agreed to see him, had even held his hand and he’d chased her away. Daaem groaned at his own stupidity.
He just kept messing things up. Every time he thought that he’d sunk as low as he could go, he dropped down even further into the muck.
He had no idea how to fix things – with Aabirah or with work. He’d somehow managed to not screw up any of the tasks his father had assigned him in the past few months, limiting his self-destructive behaviour – and it had been self-destructive, he’d always known that even as he did it anyway – to outside of office hours.
But he’d completely lost any credibility and he’d succeeded in making his father think he was a complete and utter imbecile who couldn’t function without supervision.
Daaem buried his head in his hands. He’d royally messed it all up this time. And he had no idea how to get out of the hole he’d dug himself into.
Letting out a forlorn sigh, Daaem headed into the shower. He may be a mess but he could be a clean mess.
Half an hour later, he emerged, feeling vaguely human again for the first time in a while. The shower had made him ridiculously sleepy and after pulling on his softest pair of sweats, he went straight to sleep.
When Daaem woke again, it was the middle of the night and he was in pain. While he was waiting for his next dose of painkillers to kick in, he examined his bedside table. There was a new cellphone lying there and he seized it, eager for something to distract himself with.
A card came with it and he glanced at it blearily.
Adam Cassim, it read.
Daaem remembered the strange offer with a laugh. He still couldn’t believe that Adam had gone to so much effort – even if he hadn’t been sincere which he obviously wasn’t – it had still taken time to come meet Daaem, talk to him, wait to hand him the business card and be cryptic before finally leaving.
Daaem shook his head. He couldn’t figure out Adam’s angle. Surely there was one – no one was nice for no reason. But Daaem couldn’t see it.
He dismissed it, yawning. The painkillers had finally started to kick in and his eyelids were drooping.
Despite himself, Daaem tucked the business card away carefully.
Just in case.
Ameer Shaik stood outside his son’s apartment, once again knocking hard. He really needed to get a key to the place.
Daaem yanked the door open, clearly in a sour mood and Ameer fought the urge to scold. He’d finally gotten to a point where Daaem wasn’t sniping at him with every breath the boy took and he wanted to keep it that way.
It wasn’t hard to keep his tongue in check. His son still looked ridiculously pathetic for a twenty four year old and Ameer had to resist the urge to hug him, knowing that Daaem wouldn’t be receptive to it.
Not for the first time, he lamented the distance between himself and his son. Ameer knew that it wasn’t solely Daaem’s fault. He had held the boy at arms length for years and when he’d tried to reforge a bond between them, Daaem had been too old and too distrustful to make it go at all smoothly. Then he’d turned into a surly teenager and things had just kept going downhill from there.
Ameer shook his head in regret. What he wouldn’t give to change the way Daaem’s childhood had gone…
“How are you feeling?” he asked the boy, examining him. Still too thin and far too pale. But he was better than he’d been a week ago when Ameer had had to practically carry him out of the apartment.
“Better,” Daaem admitted. Then he added, “Thanks.”
Ameer blinked, schooling his expression before the shock could show. “You’re welcome.”
“Did you need something?” Daaem asked, fidgeting.
“I wanted to talk to you about work,” Ameer said carefully.
Daaem’s head snapped up. “What about work?” the boy asked suspiciously.
Ameer took a deep breath. This was not going to be pretty. Daaem was always so stubborn.
“I don’t think you should come back to work for a while. You’ve been… in bad shape. And it’s such a stressful time right now. I don’t think it’s a good environment for you to start back up in.”
Ameer scanned Daaem’s face for clues but his son’s face was impassive.
“So when should I start again then?” Daaem asked, looking down at his lap.
“In a few months? I hadn’t given it that much thought. We could play it by ear,” Ameer suggested.
“Okay,” Daaem agreed.
‘Okay’? What was wrong with Daaem? His son had never acquiesced to something so easily in his life. Ameer had always privately thought that Daaem created conflict for the hell of it sometimes.
But he’d agreed without a fight. Perhaps the accident had been a wake up call for him as much as it had for Ameer himself.
He left Daaem soon after, pleased that they seemed to be able to communicate so easily for once and optimistic about the future. He had no idea what kind of state he’d left his son in and if he’d had even an inkling of it, he would never have left so easily.