Damian’s Coeliac Saga ~Pt.1

A/N: So after @its-a-goddamn-heartbreak and I discussed how Damian found out about his gluten intolerance, we essentially planned an entire multichapter fic about it - and so I’m writing it! Here is part one, get ready for angst, pain and just general torture of 14 year old Damian (and fucking snarky 12 y/o Jude). I hope you enjoy ~ more will follow in days to come!

           “Damian, Damian!” A hand shook his shoulder roughly and he opened his eyes blearily to see his mother looking down at him, frustration on her face.

           “Mmmm…. What?” He mumbled, moving slightly in bed to get away from his mum’s hand.

           “It’s quarter past eight!” She replied briskly. “You need to get up, you’re going to be late for school.”

           “Alright, alright…” He placated, moving his cosy bed covers away from his face.

           “I thought you wanted a shower this morning,” she’d begun to move to the door.

           “I did…” Damian said, sitting up in his bed and feeling that sudden woozy sensation which accompanies moving too quickly.

           “You’re not going to have enough time,” she shook her head, “you’ll just have to put up with it for a day. Come on, out of bed! I’ll put the kettle on so you can have a cup of coffee before you leave!”

           “Okay,” he rubbed his hand across his face as his mum left his bedroom. He was just so tired… He couldn’t explain it either; he’d gone to bed relatively early and hadn’t done any extra study or anything. He knew that being in fourth year, with the imminent reality of exams which could make or break his future, was going to be tough, but he hadn’t thought it would be this hard.

           “I’m not hearing any movement!” His mum called from downstairs.

           “Alright!” He shouted, and dragged himself out of bed. He couldn’t explain why he felt so tired… It wasn’t just tonight either, but for the past couple of weeks he’d felt like he was teetering on the edge of exhaustion – and despite knowing his goal of getting in to study medicine, he hadn’t quite been able to make his brain do what he wanted… He felt like weights had been stitched under his skin as he dragged on his school uniform.

           His mum had left him a mug of coffee and a slice of toast on the counter, but he couldn’t face taking more than a few bites while downing his cup of coffee.

           “Good morning sleeping beauty!” Jude smirked and make a mock curtsey towards Damian, before picking his own slice of toast up.

           “Shut up,” Damian replied curtly, placing his mug into the dishwasher. “Hurry up, we need to leave in two minutes.”

           “Says the boy who got out of bed ten minutes ago!” Jude scoffed with his mouth full, but Damian chose to ignore him and headed to clean his teeth.

           In the whiter light of the bathroom Damian was confronted by how awful he looked – his skin pale, and dark circles bloomed underneath his eyes. He tried to ignore looking at himself in the mirror as he rapidly cleaned his teeth, then grabbed his bag and slung it over his shoulder. Jude was standing at the bottom of the stairs, ready to go.

           “Come on, let’s go,” Jude jostled impatiently while Damian set their house alarm.

           “Hold your horses!” Damian snapped as he fished his key out from his bag and locked the door.

           The morning was crisp and bright, the sun was low as they walked down their road and turned along the main road towards the end of the street that Cain and Eden lived in. In the morning light, Damian could see the white blonde hair of his best mate. Jude had sped up to meet Eden, and the two of them were already quarter of the way up the hill before Damian even made it to Cain.

           “You alright?” Cain asked as Damian caught him and the two began making their way up to the school.

           “Yeah…” Damian said. “You?”

           “Yeah,” Cain nodded. “How did you find the maths homework?”

           Damian’s heart skipped a beat, and he clapped his hand to his forehead with considerable force. Cain was looking at him strangely, his eyebrows raised.

           “I totally forgot!” If it was possible for him to feel any worse then this would be the moment, but he already felt so weighed down that it was impossible to grind him down anymore.

           “That’s not like you…” Cain commented, his eyebrows raised. “Were you busy last night?”

           “Kind of,” Damian lied, running his hands through his hair. “I’ll have to do it during registration.” He couldn’t believe that had slipped his mind, but being so tired it felt like things were slipping from his brain in a manner beyond his control.

           The loud, boisterous chatter in his registration class made it nigh impossible for him to concentrate on the simultaneous equations he should have solved last night. Cain was trying not to seem worried, because he’d never been in this situation; he’d watched other classmates frantically trying to finish homework but never Damian… He couldn’t help but notice that his friend’s face looked a little waxy, maybe ill – but Damian was the last person you could suggest the possibility of being ill to, he’d simply ignore any comments until Cain gave up trying.

           “How are you getting on?” Cain asked, aware that the bell to signify the start of their first period was imminent.

           “I’m – nearly – done,” Damian finished with a flourish, then sank his head down onto his arm.

           “Are you okay?” Cain was slightly alarmed by this action as it was so out of character for his friend. Slowly Damian raised his head, he didn’t look okay.

           “Just tired,” Damian shrugged, although apart from the lingering tiredness that had been around since he woke up, there was a strange discomfort in his abdomen. He wasn’t quite sure whether that was because he’d only had three bites of toast along with his coffee, or for another reason.

           The bell rang, interrupting Cain’s ability to question further as he’d risen immediately. Cain didn’t sit next to Damian in maths, but he couldn’t help but cast anxious glances over in his direction. Damian really didn’t look at all well – his eyes were glazed over and Cain could tell that he wasn’t concentrating on hi work which was most unlike him.

           From the position Cain sat, he could see Damian’s hand at his stomach and a grimace on his pale face. Perhaps he was coming down with something? Cain barely managed to focus on his own work as he thought over what might be going on with his friend. What if he really was burning himself out? Cain had joked about that with Damian for as long as he’d known him, but he’d never considered that it might happen. As they left class for break Cain couldn’t quite decide whether to say anything, but before he got the chance Damian said something about going to physics a bit early and disappeared.

           Damian felt like he was being dragged, suspended through treacle, as time went so slowly, and he was so tired. By the time he’d gotten through physics by the skin of his teeth, and sat next to the radiator in his English class he was ready to give up. He wanted to go home, his stomach felt weird and he couldn’t tell whether he was overheating because he had been sat next to the radiator or for another reason. Then he saw Cain’s face at lunch time, and he wasn’t sure how to broach the subject of wanting to go home.

           “Are you coming to the art room for lunch?” Cain questioned; one of the teacher’s opened their room for some people to study in, and the two of them sometimes went along. Damian weighed it up in his head, he could have a bit of rest for an hour and maybe eat something to bring his blood sugar back up; then he could reassess whether he wanted to go home or not.

           “Yeah, okay,” Damian nodded. He followed Cain along to the art studio, perching on one of the high stools and resisting the urge to put his head down onto the table straight away. Watching Cain unpacking his art stuff from his folder, Damian pulled out the Tupperware box that his mum had packed his lunch into. He didn’t recall a time when his usual ham sandwich had looked more unappealing, but he took a bite anyway, telling himself that it’d make him feel better.

           “Are you alright?” Cain asked, normally Damian would have some of his work spread out on the table while Cain sketched.

           “Yeah,” Damian answered, although his jaw felt like it was wired shut as he tried to chew on his sandwich.

           “Are you sure?” Cain persisted. “You’ve been kinda quiet and off all day – I mean, normally you’d be trying to explain to me how sine waves work in physics or something…”

           “I’m just tired that’s all…” Damian passed it off. “What are you drawing?”

           Cain pursed his lips for a second, then seemed to accept Damian’s explanation and began to talk about shading or something while Damian tried really hard to pay attention.

           He didn’t bother with the second half of his sandwich, but sipped on his bottle of water, but barely ten minutes later he felt like his stomach was expanding. He tried to shift the waistband of his school trousers, but there was nowhere he could move it to that didn’t hurt. He placed his head in his hand and took some deep breaths in through his nose, and when that didn’t help he wrapped his free arm around his stomach.

           “Damian?” Suddenly Cain’s voice was right next to him and he felt Cain’s hand on his shoulder. “What’s wrong?”

           “I don’t feel good…” Damian whispered honestly, only then realising that he’d closed his eyes. “Brrruuuurp! Oh! Excuse me…” The deep belch broke past his lips before he could stop it and his hand sprang to his mouth.

           “I thought you were looking off… Do you feel sick?” Cain questioned, Damian nodded slightly – he wasn’t quite sure how to explain the strange puffy sensation inside his abdomen. “Come on, I think we should go to the office.”

           “Just – buuurp – give me a minute please…” Damian requested, then he heard Cain packing his stuff up for him.

           “Let’s get you home,” Cain coaxed him off the stool, “I’ll carry your bag, you just have to walk, okay?”

           “Thanks Cain,” Damian muttered, the weird sensation in his stomach causing more pressure every second.

           “It’s absolutely no problem,” Cain assured.