From under the florescent lights in a hospital’s waiting room, every detail normally so well hidden is unveiled. It’s surprising really, that the worst type of manmade lighting is the one that shows the most truth. Every wrinkle of stress, every smudge of makeup, every smear of mascara and eyeliner, every hair out of place. Every hint that things aren’t okay, that they’ll never be okay again- there is no hiding that, not under those harsh bulbs in the ceiling. And, for a lot of souls sitting in this hard chairs that offer about as much comfort as a death sentence, the information received in that little, poorly-lit waiting room? Well, the words will make sure they’re never okay ever again. And if you really needed proof of this theory, a prime example sat in the corner of the room, light blue eyes staring vacantly into nothingness. The tiny blonde was a husk of a person, perched perfectly still on the edge of the seat, stuck back in that room. Standing beside the brother that would never breathe again, not on his own. Not without the help of a machine. A machine was the thing keeping Hadley Vanity’s brother alive and there was nothing she could do about it. No amount of begging the man upstairs, of pleading, of crying, would change that. No amount of internally screaming to take her, to just fucking take her instead- it wasn’t going to make it so. There wasn’t any way for her to take Greyson’s place, even though that’s what should be happening here. Greyson couldn’t be dead though. He was a Vanity: he could buy off Death. He could cheat Death. He could outwit Death. He could tell Death to shove it, though if it were Greyson, it would obviously said in a much more classy yet equally as insulting way. In a minute, those swing doors would push open and her brother would come waltzing through, head held high and looking dignified even in a hospital gown. Telling the facility that he was leaving, not asking but telling. Hadley looked toward those doors, because it had to happen. Any minute now, he would make his entrance back into the world. He would come into the waiting room and ask her what right she thought she had to visit him, that he didn’t want a slut with him in his hospital room. Something. Anything. She’d never thought she’d be in a place where she wanted her brother’s insults. Not just that, but where she was begging for them. Where she was wondering how it was okay that he couldn’t snap some mean, hurtful retort in her direction to make his point crystal clear. Because it wouldn’t matter if it hurt her- she was used to it. She was used to dodging words like bullets- but what she wasn’t used to? Was staring at Greyson’s body under hospital sheets, looking so fragile and broken by the world. His skin hadn’t even been its normal flashy tan shade, instead a paled graying color. A dead color. And when those doors remained unmoving, the only activity from behind them the bustle of nurses, a trail of white-hot liquid burned its way down her cheek. She could faintly hear a voice in the background, one she could –from where very, very far away- place as Mason’s. Mason. She scrambled to get back to him, to pull herself from the depths of darkness that were threatening to swallow over her head. But it was like trying to run through chest-deep water and none of his words were making any sense at all. Mauve- he’d said her name. The white light that seemed so far away as her eyes remained on the set of doors. “Hadley, please look at me. Please.” And then hands were on her arms- hands Greyson wouldn’t ever feel again. Touch that Greyson would never be aware of no matter how long sh’de kept her hand on his arm back in his hospital room. She flinched away from that touch, because how was it fair that she could feel Mason’s hands but Greyson would never feel Vera’s? Or Daisy’s or her own hands, hands that he would no doubt deem filthy? How was it fair? Then the damn was broken and all that blessed numbness was replaced by the pain. The pain of knowing her brother was never going to be there again, that he was never going to know Mauve and she’d never be able to make things right with him. That he died thinking she hated him- because she did hate him. Hadley Avalon Vanity had hated Greyson London Vanity, the only sibling she’d ever had a shot at loving, and now he was gone. Greyson was gone and- and she was there, somewhere she would never be able to tell him that she was sorry that she hadn’t tried harder to make him understand. Why hadn’t she tried harder? Why hadn’t she forced him to see Mauve and helped him see why she could never be sorry that she had given up her daughter, a source of unyielding love like no Vanity had ever known before? Why. Hadn’t. She. Fucking. Tried? She whirled around, collapsing into Mason’s arms as she sobbed. And with each tear that rolled down her face, her heart shattered into smaller fragments, shards that would be impossible to ever find again, much less reassembled. She was Humpty Dumpty and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put her back together again. That moment right there, when it finally hit her that the one family member she could ever love would be dead the moment they unplugged the machine. It was the moment a piece of Hadley Vanity died too, one that would be buried right alongside Greyson. It was a piece of her that no one, not Mason, not Mauve, would ever be able to get back again.
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