Series: Jukebox Musical
Pairings: established Nate/Maggie
Warnings: Angst, depression, canonical character death, unhealthy coping mechanisms
Word Count: 1034
Disclaimer: If I owned it, the soundtrack would be Kane.
Summary: It takes Nate seven days to drink away his life.
Nate's son dies on a Monday.
He's been bedridden for months by this point, every chance at treatment just a fool's hope in the end. Nate is there when his child starts convulsing and he screams for the doctors helplessly. They push him from Sam's bedside so he watches from the doorway, holding on and praying with everything he has.
But there are no miracles.
Sam flat-lines seconds later and Nate doesn't remember much that happens after that. He doesn't remember finding Maggie or breaking in her arms. He doesn't remember the drive home or the first and second bottle. Nate just drinks and drinks and drinks until he drowns in alcohol.
On Tuesday he wakes up, half drunk and half hungover, and he knows he should get up. Nate should take a shower and find his wife – he can't believe he left her in the place where their son died. At least, he thinks he left her and both of them will need support in the awful days to come.
But when Nate turns his head, he sees another bottle and the weight inside his chest is crushing him. He failed his duty as a father and there’s nothing he wants more than to forget the way Sam looked at the moment that he died.
Maggie’s father drags Nate out of bed on Wednesday. He forces him to shave and change his clothing, cleaning him up as much as possible to reduce the reek of alcohol. Then the older man drives them to the hospital in order to meet Maggie and something in Nate eases when she runs into his arms.
Maggie doesn’t yell at him for vanishing even though she probably should. She just holds Nate tighter and his thinks that he can do this. For her he can be strong.
But then the hospital staff takes them to claim Sam’s body and Nate starts to tilt again. He can’t bear to see his son like this, so small and still and fragile. Sam’s corpse is the image of Nate’s failure and the urge to run away again is growing deafening. No parent should ever have to collect their child’s body. No parent should ever have to watch their child die.
Nate could have saved him, that’s the worst part. If he could have only found the money and gotten that new treatment, Sam might be alive right now. A better father would have succeeded where Nate could only try.
Somehow he manages to hold it together until they leave the hospital. He puts aside his guilt by focusing on Maggie and if he’s holding her too tightly, she doesn’t mention it.
He acts the supportive husband as long as possible but when they go to bed that evening, Nate simply cannot sleep. Whenever he closes his eyes, he sees the doctors rushing to Sam’s bedside and hears that awful beeping in his ears. It’s enough to drive him crazy and somewhere around three am, he gets back up again.
Nate spends Thursday in a bar. Maggie tries to call him but he turns off his cell phone and then throws back shots of bourbon until the bouncer kicks him out. He uses the last ten dollars in his wallet to buy another bottle; the cashier too uninterested to care that he’s still drunk as hell.
Six hours later, Nate wakes up in McDonalds with ketchup on his face. He calls a cab and staggers home to pass out on the couch.
On Friday, Nate and Maggie spend three hours arguing. She’s furious with him and rightly so, but he can’t apologize. Because she wants to know what Nate is thinking, why he’s been drinking himself stupid ever since Sam died, and he doesn’t have an answer that will make her satisfied.
Nate can’t tell her the truth. He can’t tell her that Blackpoole refused to pay for their son’s treatment – she loves her job, she always has, and that would ruin everything. Maggie worked so hard to get promoted. She doesn’t need to bear that burden when it’s breaking him already. She doesn’t need to know how badly Nate let their family down.
So he stubbornly stays silent until his wife gets sick of trying. She tells him that she’s going to her parent’s house to start planning out the funeral and if he decides to be a proper husband, he can join her later on.
“You better be sober,” Maggie snarls before storming out the door and while part of Nate wants to chase her down and beg forgiveness, a larger part is thinking, I need a fucking drink.
Nate quits his job on Saturday. Ringing his boss seems like a grand idea around his second bottle – or is it third by now? So he calls Ian Blackpoole on his private number, the one he used to be so proud to have.
After the other man picks up, he offers Nate his sympathy. Ian says that this is terrible, that the firm is pulling for him, and that his job will be waiting once he’s had his time to grieve. But Ian is the one who killed his child – he’s the one who said no when Nate came begging for more money – and those empty platitudes ring like thunder in his ears.
“You can shove that job right up your ass,” he spits out. “After everything I did for your company – every piece of artwork I recovered – my son is dead because of you. I saved you a fortune and you screwed me anyway. Consider this my resignation, you bastard; I hope you rot in Hell!”
Nate snaps his phone shut, wishing he had a landline so he could slam it properly. Telling Blackpoole off made him feel better for a moment, but it doesn’t change a thing. The man still has all the money and the power; he’ll forget Nate in an instant and move on to better things. Blackpoole doesn’t have to care that Sam is dead – he doesn’t have to attend his child’s funeral – and Nate hates him more than he has ever hated anyone.
He doesn’t want to kill Blackpoole. He wants to make the bastard suffer. He wants to make him watch as everything he loves turns to ashes in his arms.
But a man like Nate can’t hope to hurt a man like Ian Blackpoole. That would require money or at least some kind of leverage and the only thing that Nate has is a lot more alcohol.
Maggie leaves on Sunday.
She says it's not forever. She says that she’s just staying with her parents until they get Sam buried; Nate keeps disappearing and she needs support right now. Maggie says that she still loves him and she knows they can get past this, but she’s never been the kind to give up on lost causes easily.
She’d probably take him back if he just apologized, if he dried out and stayed sober for longer than a day. But Nate knows that that won’t happen. As much as he loves Maggie, he can’t give up the whiskey. He needs the haze of drunkenness to dull his memories. He needs to forget the sight of his son dying before it shatters him completely and if it costs him Maggie, that’s a price he’ll have to pay.
His wife is going to divorce him and Nate doesn’t plan to argue; it’s better for her to cut him loose then to drag her down as well.
“I guess it's just you and me now,” he says, toasting his whiskey bottle with a sarcastic grin. Then Nate knocks back his glass with one quick motion and pours another drink.