[NDU] Mullioned Pains - Snapshots
In reference to this.
As a way to deal with my own literally blinding headaches, I present a tale of NDU Pitch Black and his migraines, each snapshot from the POV of one of the rest of the Nightmare Dork University cast, at different points in Pitch’s college career and beyond. I want to expand each of these snapshots into separate stories / chapters at some point; however… They’ve been stewing on the back burner for months, time to let’em out.
PIKI - two years after graduating NDU
He couldn’t help but flinch when he heard the key in the lock of the front door of his flat, rather than the expected buzzer from the foyer below. Piki’s momentary resentment of Pitch’s presumption disappeared when he saw his twin’s face.
A still face. A composed face. Not a flicker of animation, not a hint of pursed lips or clenched jaw.
But Pitch’s right hand kept opening and closing spasmodically. Piki knew that sign.
It had been more than a decade since his brother had come to him for comfort for one of his headaches. Without letting himself think about why Pitch was coming to him for comfort, Piki swung instantly and instinctively into the routine he and his brother had established in childhood. He led Pitch to the couch, sat next to him. and guided Pitch’s head to his shoulder with his right hand while keeping his left arm loosely clasped around his twin’s waist.
He could feel Pitch’s breath hitching as he tried to cope with the pain. “Ssssh, close your eyes,” Piki murmured, closed his own in sympathy, and began to hum the “Promenade” theme from Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition.
JACK - November of Pitch’s senior year at NDU
Was he overstepping his bounds? Would he just be adding to Pitch’s headache? Would Pitch appreciate the little trinket that was just like the one Jack’s sister had given him when she thought Jack was afraid of the dark?
Since the beginning of the semester, Jack had quietly filed away in his memory everything he had observed about the older student who’d taken him on as a stagehand, even if Pitch had done it under protest. He knew how Pitch liked his coffee. He’d learned when Pitch was trying to rile Koz up in a lighthearted manner and when they were poised to do one another unmitigated damage. He was unsurprised that Pitch genuinely feared his cousin Proto, his fear an equal measure to his disgust at their being related.
He did not understand what it was about Piki that made Pitch unleash real venom instead of the clever drawling sarcasm he used on everyone else.
After yet another screaming match backstage at the NDU theatre, where Piki stormed out slamming the stage door behind him and Pitch sank down on a rickety chair behind the curtain and put his face in his hands, Jack was prepared, despite his self-doubts.
When Pitch returned to the apartment he shared with Pitchiner and Proto, exhausted, hungry, and bleary-eyed after combatting his stress-induced migraine in private, he found a bright blue rabbit’s-foot keychain on his desk, along with a note in Jack’s neat handwriting.
It’s not magic, but it helps me to calm down. I hope it will help you too.
Pitch rubbed the soft fur between his fingers and closed his eyes.
PITCHINER - Sometime after their tenth wedding anniversary
He was not the most sentimental of men on the planet, but then again, neither was Pitch.
Koz had congratulated himself on finding what he thought was the perfect getaway spot for Pitch to finish his newest screenplay. Spooky inspiration was all right in its way, at least for Pitch, and chopping wood for the massive fireplace in the cabin helped Koz flex muscles he hadn’t used since NDU and the Army, muscles he’d forgotten he had.
But now he wasn’t so sure that a wooded mountain retreat, far from the highway and civilization, was all that great an idea. His husband was now huddled in a rocker near the kitchen stove, face screwed up in misery, in too much pain to snark or to make a sound beyond an occasional hiss. A combination of unexpectedly cold temperatures for May and altitude sickness from the increased elevation had conspired to give Pitch one doozy of a physical headache and Koz one doozy of an emotional one.
To distract himself and Pitch from the worrisome thoughts of seizures and blood clots and strokes and aneurysms while being two hours away from the nearest hospital, Koz gave his husband a cheeky grin and blurted out, “Do you remember when I stuffed sweat socks into that old radiator back at our dorm to stop it from clanking?”
Pitch looked back at him blankly, his eyes ringed with darker shadows than normal. The silence stretched for countless minutes and Koz mentally kicked himself Then, surprisingly and gratifyingly, the corners of Pitch’s thin lips quirked upwards in subdued mirth. “Ah, the stench of true love.”
PROTO - Two months after move-in at NDU
A four-afghan migraine. Oh dear, this WAS serious.
Proto dispassionately viewed the sleeping form of his cousin stretched out on the couch under multiple blankets, face buried in cushions so that only his distinctive crest of black hair could be seen.
Oh dear, indeed.
This called for drastic measures.
One quick and completely justifiable break-in, one cupboard rummage-by-feel, and one gently-muted whisking later, Proto placed a mug of hot gingered wheatgrass-and-chard tea and a snifter of brandy on the coffee table within Pitch’s reach. He tenderly positioned Mister Pickles between his roommate’s drawn-up knees and the back of the couch so that the ferret’s winsome grin would be the first sight to cheer Pitch when he awoke.
Proto ghosted away to his own room with a self-satisfied smile.