An Asteroid Collision, Last Night On Earth Situation
by HYPERFocused

"An asteroid collision, last night on Earth situation." That was what Bright Abbott had responded when his sister Amy asked when it would be okay for her to start dating Ephram Brown. Well, not asked, exactly. More like 'suggested.' Let Bright know things had shifted, and she was thinking of Ephram again as part of the dating zone. Which sucked, really, because so was he.

Not that he'd ever come right out and said so. Everwood was a small town, and until recently he'd still been in high school. It wouldn't have been smart. No one had ever accused him of living up to his name, but even he understood that coming out - heh - and saying he was in love with his best male friend wasn't the swiftest thing to do. Especially not for the football/basketball all-star he used to be. He may have fucked up his future as an athlete, but he wasn't ready to be a social piranha.

No, Bright kept all that hidden. He rented a Winnebago for himself, Ephram and Amy, and the four girls he'd asked to prom. Four was maybe a little bit of overkill, but he was not about to admit he didn't want any of them. He liked the girls well enough for dance partners, but with a group of them, there would be no thinking this was anything but casual fun. His old friends punched him on the shoulder, and said "Way to go, Abbott," and "only you would be that sure of yourself." He laughed and said, "I am the man!" Then he spent most of the evening watching Ephram with his sister.

Ephram was still getting over his thing with Madison, and Amy was barely back to being human, so at first Bright wasn't worried about them getting together. She might be Eprham's rebound girl - Bright had read about those in the magazines in his father's waiting room - but he knew she wasn't meant for permanence. There was somebody else out there for Amy. Ephram belonged to Bright; he just didn't know it yet. Besides, if Bright wasn't yet ready to make a move on his friend, at least he would be there for hanging out in front of the TV, and random road trips. Being a third wheel had worked out pretty well with Colin, back before the accident.

Admittedly, when Amy elbowed in on Ephram's trip to New York, claiming she couldn't be away from Ephram even for eight weeks, Bright was more concerned. He didn't think it was true - Amy was such a drama queen - but their dad seemed to buy it. Bright wasn't sure if it was a romantic move, or something more stalkery. Either way, it hadn't turned out to be such a good idea. Amy came back disappointed. Ephram had been pre-occupied with his excitement about the music program he was about to start, as well as being back "home", and really hadn't had time to play boyfriend/tour guide.

As Ephram confided to Bright when he e-mailed later, he was dealing with his own baggage --being back in New York, with all its reminders of his dead mother-- he didn't need to carry Amy's as well. Of course he hadn't told her that; he'd even tried to show her a good time. But when Amy came home, it was obvious she and Ephram were no longer a couple. Bright had listened sympathetically, but he knew it was for the best.

He'd listened to Ephram, too, when he finally came home. The poor guy was getting bombarded from every direction - Bright couldn't imagine his dad lying to him like that. But Ephram didn't seem to want to talk about Madison, which was a major change as far as Bright was concerned. When Bright suggested a last weekend away for the two of them, Ephram agreed readily. It turned out to be one of Bright's worst ideas.

An asteroid collision, last night on Earth situation. That was what Bright had said. He hadn't expected it to be literal. True, it wasn't actual asteroids hitting the Earth - this wasn't Smallville. That would have been kind of cool, and maybe there'd be a super powered alien - who looked like an A&F model-- to save them all. Everrwood could use a few mutants to make life interesting, Bright thought.

Instead, their spur of the moment "get away from it all" trip to Bright's grandfather's cabin had turned into one of those "man against nature" movies on basic cable. Bright wondered who would play him and Ephram. Probably some jerks off the WB. And he bet they'd turn Ephram into a girl, just to make it into a romance - not that there wasn't going to be some romancing going on anyway, if Bright had anything to say about it. Poor Ephram, destined to be turned into Katie Holmes, or that girl who played Rory Gilmore.

It wasn't even Labor Day, yet, but a freak snowstorm had hit while they were about an hour away to the cabin. Rain quickly turned to sleet, making the road impassible. Then lightning had knocked part of a tree on top of them, branches breaking through the window and a particularly sharp one poking through Ephram's jeans.

Bright had been knocked out for a minute or two, but it didn't feel like that long. He was pretty sure he was all right for the most part. But when he got a good look at the branch stabbing Ephram in the leg, he wanted to pass right out again.

Bright wasn't sure if he should wake Ephram up or not. That's what they always said to do when people got conked on the head on TV, but he didn't know if that followed when people had other injuries. Ephram looked like hell. Paler even than usual, except where he was bruised and bloody. The branch jutting into Ephram's lower thigh was making Bright feel a little sick, too. He'd used his pocket knife to cut it off from the tree, but he didn't think he could pull it out without hurting Ephram even more. Bright wished his dad was there, or Ephram's dad. Better yet, he wished he could rewind the whole day, and take Ephram to a nice, safe hotel.

Ultimately he decided against it; at least until he could get him securely into the cabin. Luckily, they weren't that far, and Bright was sure he could carry Ephram. It looked like they'd have no problem getting out the driver's side door, even if Ephram's side was blocked. Bright just hoped moving Ephram wouldn't hurt him any worse. At very least, Bright knew they needed to get warm and dry.

"It's a good thing you're so skinny, dude," Bright told him. Ephram didn't answer, but Bright felt better, anyway.

After a few moment's walk, Ephram stirred, and mumbled something Bright couldn't decipher. It could have been "Mom," or it could have been "mm kay".

Bright responded with an "It's okay, we're safe, E. Go back to sleep." They weren't, not by a long shot, but there was no use in both of them worrying.

"Why are you carrying me, Bright?" Ephram asked. He sounded a little more normal, but Bright didn't quite trust it.

"I'm taking you to bed. What did you think?" There, that was bound to get a reaction out of Ephram, if he really was back to his old self.

But Ephram just said, "Oh, cool," and closed his eyes again, tucking his head into Bright's shoulder. Bright could smell the woodsy citrusy scent of his shampoo. He didn't think he would ever forget it. He just hoped it wouldn't always be accompanied in his mind by the metallic tang of blood and fear.

Bright settled Ephram down on the large corduroy sofa, and covered him with some blankets he'd found in the cupboard next to it. He looked around to see what their supply situation was like. He didn't know how long they'd be stuck there, and wanted to be sure there was enough food and firewood.

Feeling a little more secure, he sat down next to Ephram, and used the first aid kit he'd found to clean them both up as best he could. He couldn't do much for Ephram's most serious wound, though, and that was what scared him most of all.

Exhausted, Bright nodded off for a while, but woke up when Ephram started shaking. Ephram didn't respond when Bright spoke to him. He was still asleep, albeit fretfully. Leaning against Bright, his presence felt both solid and slight. The residual fever coming off of him brought more heat to the cabin than the fireplace seemed to do, but it scared Bright more than the rapidly piling snow. Ephram needed medical help fast, but with the storm affecting the cell-phone's performance, and the truck half buried by the lightning split tree that had fallen onto their path, Bright didn't have any way to get it to him. He pulled Ephram closer, trying to stem the shivering. He'd pictured holding Ephram before, but never under such circumstances.

Bright spotted a half bottle of scotch on a high shelf, and thanked his dead grandfather for leaving the stuff. Maybe it would take the edge off Ephram's pain. When Ephram awoke next, grimacing in pain, Bright handed him some Tylenol. Then he poured him a glassful, holding it up to his mouth, and making him drink. Ephram sputtered, and said "Bright, this tastes like crap. What're you trying to do? Get me drunk so you can have your way with me?"

"Yeah, Ephram. That's it exactly." Bright laughed, until Ephram continued.

"You know, you don't have to get me drunk to do that. You don't even have to take me out of town and drop a tree on me."

Bright knew Ephram meant to be funny, but he didn't find it so. 'I'm sorry, Ephram. You know I didn't mean for this to happen."

"I know that, stupid. Even you couldn't cause a freak storm to happen." He looked down at himself. "This is bad, isn't it? I mean really bad."

"Nah, it'll be fine," Bright lied. "You're probably better off not looking at it, though. We'll get the phone working soon, and one of our dad's'll tell us what to do."

The couch wasn't all that comfortable for long, so Bright helped Ephram to the large wood framed bed, lifting him as gently as he could on top of it. Bright propped Ephram's leg up on pillows so it wouldn't be jostled, then covered the rest of him with blankets. He couldn't help smiling when Ephram burrowed in closer.

Bright woke when the early morning sun came in through the window. Ephram was still out like a light, but Bright thought that was more from the liquor than anything else. True, Bright was stiff and sore from the long drive, as well as the walk with Ephram to the cabin. But he could tell Ephram's fever had broken, and it looked like the snow wasn't coming down as hard as it had been. Maybe there was some reason to hope. The sound of his cell-phone finally getting a signal told him this was true. A few minutes' conversation and help was on the way. It might take awhile, the roads were still in horrible shape, but his dad had told him how to help Ephram in the meantime. Bright knew he could do it. He and Ephram would get through it together.

Ephram was smart, and Bright was strong. With that combination, Bright had no doubts they could make it through anything.


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