"Cold White"

Rating: PG-13 (language, adult themes, depressing story) Disclaimer: I have no association with the WWF as a whole, and I certainly have no claim to Matthew Moore Hardy or Jeffrey Nero Hardy. love it? hate it? want to obliterate me from the face of the earth? email at lmdaddio@cc.owu.edu or IM stardazey9.

Chapter 3

A hand gently shakes my shoulder. I pick my head up. Matt's still sleeping. "It's just me, Jeff." Dad. I jump up out of the chair, only to fall into his arms. "How did you get here so fast?" "It's been four hours. You were asleep. How are you holding up?" Like a tower of cards on the San Andreas fault line. "Alright, I guess." "You guess?" He tugs on a bit of my hair. "You know what I guess, Jeff?" I know that tone of voice. He's toying with me to make me forget that Matt's sick. I might as well play along. At least one of us will feel better. "What?" Dad pulls back and looks me in the eyes. "If you don't stop dying and stripping your hair, you'll be bald before I am." I open my mouth to respond, but I'm cut off. "Dad?" Matt's awake. His eyes are still shut. Our father sits down on the side of the bed and pushes the dark strands of hair off Matt's face. "How are you feeling, Mattie?" Amazing how we keep using his boyhood nickname. Fitting though. Matt just seems so young when he's sick, so innocent and vulnerable. "I'll go get Dr. Jenkins." Anything to get out of the room. I don't want to intrude on their moment together. Matt and Dad have always been very close. Closer than me and Dad ever were. I guess I've always been jealous of that. If only I'd had black hair and dark eyes. Matt has always had Mom's looks and Dad's love. Now, he has her disease and his attention. Not that I want the former. I've just always lacked the latter. Matt's voice follows me down the hall. "Why are they keeping me here? They wouldn't tell me what was wrong."

I'm leaning against the wall outside Matt's room and staring at the speckled ceiling. The door's shut. Dr. Jenkins is in there with Matt and Dad. I can hear soft voices, not the words. I know what they are anyway. He's telling Matt about the leukemia and the possible courses of treatment. He said I should be in there, too. I can't. I can't see Matt when he's handed his living death sentence. The door opens. I lower my gaze and search Dr. Jenkins face. "He and your dad are talking. Why don't you go in?" "I think I should stay out here a while longer." I'm such a friggin' coward. I don't know what to say to Matt. That he's more important to me than anything? That I love him? How about those Hurricanes? I think Jenkins knows how I feel. He takes me by the arm and leads me back down to his office. "I want you to sit down for a while, Jeff. Try to relax. There are still treatments available to Matt. He stands a strong chance at going into remission." His life is going to be upside down by that time though. Whenever that time is. "How long will he be in the hospital?" "Only a few days while we run a couple more tests and he gets some strength back. We'll refer him to a hospital in North Carolina, probably in Raleigh, where he can get outpatient treatments." I guess he won't be wrestling anytime soon. Fuck. No one in the WWF knows about this yet. I reach for my cell to call someone at Titan, but it's my gear bag in the hotel. "Can I use your phone again? I have to call some friends and our boss to let them know." "Sure. Feel free. The hospital pays for it, not me." He gives me a reassuring smile and leaves. I try Vince's secretary first. Busy as usual. Dumb blonde. Adam's cell is turned off. That figures, too. He's with Alannah for the weekend. I dial Jay's number. "Hello?" Success! "Jay, it's me, Jeff." "Oh, hi. How's Matt?" My tongue is made of dry concrete. "Jeff? Are you and Matt okay?" No. I'm not. He's certainly not. "I'm fine." "That's good." Something in his voice tells me he doesn't believe me. "And Matt?" "Matt's sick." Sandpaper voice. I sound worse than Glenn when he's using that little metal thing. "I knew that much." "Jay, Matt's real sick. We're at the hospital....He's....he's got leukemia." There's a momentary silence, followed by a sharp intake of breath. "Fuck, Jeff, please tell me this is a very sick joke." "No, it's not," I whisper. "Matt's got cancer." "Do you want me to come there?" "No, I just need you to tell everyone. Have Vince write in some sort of offscreen injury until Matt goes into remission or something." "What about you?" What about me? I don't know. I don't want to fight without Matt. The only reason I have before was because he was only temporarily hurt. To have him not there on the road with me, to have to room with someone else, eat with someone else, joke with someone else. "See if he can write me out as well." "Should I tell everyone else?" Hell, what will Matt say? The whole locker room knowing? Most would be sympathetic, the women would pity him, and some are just stupid pricks. "Tell Adam and whoever gives a crap to ask. Don't announce it." "Alright. I'm going to come over your hotel room tonight to check on you." "I'm staying here with Matt." I don't know how much he needs me, but I need him right now. "You have to rest, Jeff. You've gone through hell." "I'll sleep standing in a broom closet if I have to." I will, too. With a sponge for a pillow. "Me and Adam will come to the hospital tomorrow, then. Bye." "Bye, Jay." That was easier than I'd thought. Jay always does have a soothing effect on people. There's a knock on the door. "Come in." Dad and Dr. Jenkins walk in. Dad speaks first, "Jeff, Matt's been asking for you. I think you two have to talk." Dr. Jenkins nodded, "And I don't think Matt wants to be alone right now." So why'd you leave him alone, asshole? I push past them and hurry down the hall.

Matt's sitting up in the bed. He's gotten his hands on an extra blanket, how I don't know. "Hey,' he says in a tired voice. "Matt, I'm sorry." What a stupid thing to say to a guy who just found out his body is destroying itself. "For what? I'm the one that hid the signs. You didn't do this, Jeff. You can be the one to stop this." What the hell kind of drugs did they put him on? I can't do shit. That's the hard part. "How?" "I need a bone marrow transplant. A sibling is the most likely match. You're my cure. Will you get tested to see if we match?" "Hell, do you really have to ask?" He smiles at me and opens his arms for a hug. I pull him tight and rest my head against his. "I knew there was a reason I'd eventually be glad to have a baby brother." His tears are hot on my skin.

Part Four

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