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Brian had taken six times the prescribed dose of Baclofen. It had shut down his nervous system to the point where he couldn’t breathe on his own. By the time he arrived at the hospital, he was having continuous seizures, unrelenting, unstoppable. It took a long time to stabilize him to the point where he could be moved to the ICU. Doctor Roberts looked tired and didn’t sound very hopeful as he spoke. He promised that they would continue to monitor Brian’s condition and do what they could to ensure that the effects of the drug were as overseeable as possible. But, in the end, they wouldn’t know the full extent of the damage until Brian would wake up.

If he woke up.

The word punched me in the gut and I tried to swallow the bile in my throat. I had seen scenes like this in movies, but I was quite sure that they weren’t supposed to happen in real life. To other people, sure, but not to us. Not like this.

Because I had not seen this coming.

And I have been described as analytical before. I was calculative, cautious and observant. I would have noticed something, surely. My bandmates seemed as numb as I was feeling. I saw their faces turn into masks of sorrow when the bad news continued on. The doctor was not hopeful. He gave Brian a few days, a week, at most.

The coma would become deeper and deeper and then he’d just… fade away. Just like that.

I listened silently, sniffing every now and then. My head was pounding and my hands were shaking. I recognized the feeling as grief, which was ridiculous, really. Brian wasn’t gone. He would fight.

Wouldn’t he?

I felt the oxygen in the small waiting room get thinner and thinner as I realized there was only one real question left. The silent truce that seemed to have been established between the five of us in the waiting room was to not speak, or even think that question aloud.

But I had to know.

I cleared my throat roughly, feeling the other’s stares on me intensifying by the second. I took a deep breath before speaking, “Is- is there…” I couldn’t even begin to form the words, but I continued anyway, “do you know if- if this was an accidental overdose, or…?” I decided to leave the rest of the question hanging, but could feel an immediate mood shift nevertheless.

The doctor noticed it too and looked around the room for a few moments before sighing. “Honestly, there’s no way to absolutely know for sure. But there are factors to consider.”

“Factors?” I said, while all eyes on me were intently trying to make me shut up.

“Look, I’m not a detective,” doctor Roberts relented, “six times a prescribed dose seems like a lot, but at the same time, he didn’t take the full contents of the bottle. Mr McLean has made me aware that your friend has been diagnosed with depression for years, but has never before shown signs of suicidal thoughts. He has been using this medication for a long time, and I do not rule out the possibility that he upped the dose by himself because he became accustomed to the effects. He might have forgotten he already took them, or he might have planned it. As you can tell, there’s no conclusive answer if you look at it from different sides.”

I nodded slowly, feeling the tears start to form in my eyes. “Thank you,” I mumbled, trying to ignore the angry stares from the other four people in the room. The doctor left with a short nod and the promise that we were allowed to visit as soon as they hooked Brian up in the ICU. I bowed my head, trying to escape the pressure of my band mates’ incessant gazes.

“What does it matter, Howard?” Kevin grumbled through gritted teeth.

I sighed deeply, sure that Kevin was well aware why it mattered. Of course I didn’t want to think it either. Of course I’d never suspect Brian, who had a steady support system and a loving family at that, to do anything even remotely close to this on purpose. His pride and religious background would always keep him far from this kind of edge, but at the same time, I couldn’t shake the feeling. The feeling that this was a long time coming.

Because somehow, I couldn’t forget the constant look of exhaustion in his eyes. Or the way he barely seemed to wanna eat anything. Or the shame and defeat on his face when he finally told us he’d wanted to quit for a while, little over a year ago. I could see now, that it was likely too late, what kind of destruction the whole ordeal had done to him. While we had looked on, it had swallowed him whole and spit out what was left.

And even if what had happened had been an accident, that would be just as bad.