The World Where You Live
by HYPERFocused

It's a late November afternoon; New York City is shrouded in fog and drizzle. The kind of day off Dan in his New York renaissance would have once spent in a dry museum, or preferably in a warm bed. Now that he's with Casey, the bed sounds much more inviting, though he still has the occasional fantasy of taking Casey behind the Mummy exhibit at the Natural History Museum.

Instead, he and Casey are throwing clothes together for an unanticipated trip to Nowheresville Colorado. Well, he's throwing clothes. Casey's closets are perfectly organized. Separated by color and season, they're a reflection of his compartmentalized mind. It's probably telling that Dan's clothes are only distinguished by "clean" and "dirty". Not for the first time, he considers himself lucky to have a wardrobe mistress on the show.

Dan doesn't ski, and isn't a fan of mountains or macho posturing-all of which he's expecting to find on this trip. At least the company will be good.

"Tell me again why we're going to Colorado?" Dan dug through his closet for his barely used skiwear.

"Human interest story. New York Magazine. Colin Hart. Star athlete, months in a coma after an accident. Hopeless case until world-renowned neurosurgeon does experimental operation. Kid awakens nearly good as new." Casey tossed out a few of the sweaters Dan had packed, and hung them up neatly in the closet. "Here, take this one."

"Hmm, ok." Dan rolled it up, and placed it in the bag. "So this coma kid - he can read minds now, right?"

"Geez, Danny. This isn't television. Oh wait." Casey laughed ruefully. "No, see, what's cool about the story was this doctor. He'd given up on his city practice, and moved his kids to this little town. Started a general practice. Like Michael Jordan coaching pewee league. Now he treats everyone there for free, but the only high profile case he's touched was this kid."

"A regular Grizzly Adams, sounds like. The kid must be something special."

"Basketball, apparently. Before the accident. He was already being looked at. But a nice, popular kid."

"So why are we really going?" Dan asked.

Casey pulled Dan close. "You. Me. CSC's money. Small town. Bed and breakfast. But mostly bed."



"Tell me again why we're watching CSC?" Ephram said, peering down at Colin, who was curled up next to him, head on his lap

"It's Sports Night, dude. Dan and Casey. They're, like, legends." The hand stroking his forehead was soothing, better than the pills Dr Brown had prescribed for the headaches that hadn't stopped their regularity or severity.

"But I don't even like sports. And you don't follow any of these teams." Ephram's voice was puzzled, but he was -- as always -- willing to indulge Colin's whims.

"It's not about the sports. It's about them. The banter. They're just -- they're kind of like us. The way they play off each other."

"That is kind of cool. They don't seem like they're the usual idiots." The anchors banter had referenced Philip Glass, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Flash. Ephram was suitably impressed.

"Um, actually watching Sports Night was where I figured out my thing for guys like you." Colin blushed.

"What, you mean I'm a pattern, not an individual?" Ephram pretended to be hurt.

"You know, dark haired, smart, snarky. New York. Jewish."

"Thanks, I think." Ephram was amused. "So this probably explains why you keep making me change over to the X-files."

"No, I do that for you. Thought you might be homesick for the old home planet."

"Fuck you, Coma Boy" Ephram said, clearly not meaning a word of it.

"You'd like that, wouldn't you, Freak." Colin laughed, and pulled Ephram down for a kiss. Hands explored the smooth skin under t--shirts, and soon the TV show was forgotten.

"How long til your dad comes home?" Colin asked, taking a gasping breath as he felt Ephram unbuttoning his 501s. Making out on Ephram's couch was still new. Dr Brown knew they were together, but abstract awareness was not the same as coming home to a show. None of them were ready for that, despite Andy's attempt at a nonchalant attitude.

"He's not due for hours. And Delia will be gone overnight." Ephram went back to what he was doing. Hands that had the dexterity and span to tackle Liszt now wrapped themselves around Colin's cock, and played him with the same skill.

"God damn you're good at this", Colin said, reaching out to reciprocate.

Later, after they were dressed again, and the pizza was down to crusts, Colin told him why he really wanted to watch.

"So, um, I got a call from one of the Sports Night producers. They want to do a story on me," he says.

"What, you're up for a Heisman?" Ephram's voice is warmly mocking.

"Very funny. No. They saw that New York Magazine article on your dad."

"Oh." Suddenly it's a lot more serious. The article had been a bone of contention between them. "Do you think that's a good idea? That New York article wasn't about you. It was some other Colin. Is that what you really want?"

"It was the me everyone needed to see." Colin thought that it said exactly what his family wanted to hear. He was fine, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, and the love of a perfect young girl.

The fact that it was the doctor's son who was helping to heal his heart was a truth he hadn't been ready to reveal about himself. It was different now.

"I thought we were going to stop lying to people. You were going to be honest. I thought we decided your family could take the truth."

"We did, Ephram. That's why I agreed to this interview."

"I thought you'd decided not to do any more interviews," Ephram sounds disappointed.

"Well, yeah. But this is different. I think they'll be cool. Besides, I always wanted to meet them. At least I think I did."

"Are the memories getting at all clearer?" Ephram wants to know.

"Sort of. It's like the individual memories are well, almost whole. But I can't get any of them to fit together."

"Sounds like Delia's puzzle box." Ephram says.

"What do you mean"?

"My mom and I used to do these huge jigsaw puzzles together. You know, 1000 pieces, city scenes, big red squares where all the pieces are alike... hard ones."

"Sounds fun, I guess. " Colin is not a puzzle person, and probably never was. "Well, no, it doesn't. But I can see how you would like that. Pretty cool."

"Yeah, well, anyway. Delia kind of got jealous. She was just a little thing, and couldn't really do a big puzzle then. She had all these big board puzzles. Farm animals and nursery rhymes with like ten pieces each."

"Yeah, they made me do some of those in rehab."

"Shit." Baby Puzzles. "I didn't mean -- " Ephram spits out his boots and apologizes.

"No, it's ok. Motor skills, you know. Mine didn't have baby ducks or anything. So, Delia."

"She wanted to do the big puzzles with us. She always hated being excluded. So she took all her puzzles and put them together in one box, because she wanted a thousand piece puzzle like we had."

"But it didn't really make a 1000 piece puzzle. It was just little pictures all stuck together, right?"

"Yeah, exactly. There were Mother Goose characters shoved next to Justice League superheroes next to Barbie. They all sort of fit, but not quite."

"Because the pieces are all similar." Colin could see where Ephram was going with this.

"And because you're a puzzle." Ephram giggles. A rare sound and a sure sign the fight's over.

"At least we fit. C'mere and solve me, " Colin demands.


The flight from La Guardia to Denver International is uneventful. First class is mostly empty. Only a few autograph seekers. Dan and Casey spend the time going over notes and talking about the interview.

Except for the way their legs press against each other, and Dan's head leans on Casey's shoulder when he pretends to fall asleep, these could be any two business travelers on their way to a convention. They'll be spending 3 days in Everwood. Their two person crew will be coming on Saturday to film the interview, and a bit of local color.

Landing is smooth, and the view is spectacular. Dan is already relaxing, even though he isn't at all looking forward to skiing, and doesn't have much of a head for heights.

"This isn't a Lexus sedan," Casey says, eyeing the big red Jeep Cherokee they've been given the keys to at the airport rental car area.

"Why no, it isn't. Your powers of observation are as sound here as they are in New York." Dan is sarcastic. He's still a little sick from the flight, and the lack of oxygen is getting to him as well.

"So why---"

"Mountains. Snow. When in Rome?" Dan shrugs. "I changed the reservation. This just seemed more appropriate."

"Don't you mean 'When in Nome'? It's fucking freezing here." Casey folds his arms around himself, shivering in the November cold.

"Cute. You're really cold, aren't you?" Dan wraps Casey's scarf around him, and leans in to whisper "I'll warm you up when we get to the B&B."

Casey's blush brings a little bit of heat to his cheeks. "Three hours away. Damn."

"That's if we don't get lost. I don't know if we can trust Jeremy's directions."

"Of course we can. He said we'd see deer, and not to feed them Twinkies. It's a longish drive, but apparently not a difficult one," Dan says. He holds out his hand for the keys, and gets behind the wheel.

"So you're just assuming I don't want to drive?" Casey says.


"That's fine."

"So why were you asking?" Dan responds.

"To assert my masculinity, of course." Casey says, like it was obvious.

"I've never considered it a problem, Case."

"Oh, that's right. Because you're the woman."

Dan ignored that, reaching over to adjust the radio's presets. "OK, NPR on 1, Adult Contemp on 2, Local college on 3, That station Natalie recommended on 4---"

"You know, Danny. You're the only person I know who researches the radio stations before a trip. We could just flip down the dial like normal people."

"And run the risk of finding a Seventies Schlock station for you? No way."

"Just for that I'm going to sing. 'Sky rockets in flight - afternoon delight?'"

"How long a trip did you say it was?"

"We're due back Monday."

"No, I meant til we get to the town. Hopefully you'll have stopped singing by then."

"I've stopped singing now, Dan. I'm talking to you, aren't I?" Casey said smugly.

Dan just sighed.


Ephram pulls down an extra plate for dinner, and sets Colin to tearing lettuce while he slices tomatoes for the salad. He really shouldn't call it an extra plate, since Colin eats with them more nights than not. Though she still wishes Bright would visit more often, Delia seems disappointed on the rare nights it's just the three of them.

Colin's hands still shake too much to be safe with a knife, and Ephram doesn't want to remind him of what he can't do. He can do so much more than anyone expected.

"Is your friend staying again?" Andy asks. At Ephram's nod he says, "That's fine, he's always welcome. Andy does everything he can to be accepting, or at least to appear so. He doesn't want to be like Colin's family, who despite their relief that their son came through his ordeal, now think he's damaged goods. He is, of course; but not because he's in love with Ephram.

"You've already got a lock on the Father of the Year Award, Dad. Calm down." Ephram tells him.

There's such a thing as trying too hard. When Andy handed him a subscription card for The Advocate, and a gift wrapped "So You're a Gay Teen" book on his last birthday, Ephram just longed for the days when he got comic books he didn't want. "Thanks, Dad. Batman. Wow."

"Daaad," Delia whines, "Ephram always gets to have Colin over. How come you don't let me have company when I want to?" She's going through an entitlement phase. If Eprham gets to do it, she wants to, too.

"Who did you want to have over, honey?" Andy asks. "You can ask a friend tomorrow, it's too late for dinner tonight. It's almost ready."

"Can I ask Bright?" Delia says excitedly. "I haven't seen him in so long, and I bet he'd really like to be invited."

"I don't know if that's such a good idea, Deel" Ephram says.

"Why not?"

"He's kind of mad at us, " Colin says.

"How come?"

"I think because he and I aren't best friends like we used to be." Colin tells her.

"But you don't remember how you used to be. That's not your fault." Delia is indignant. "Is he mad because you have a boyfriend now?"

"Yeah, a little. He probably thinks it's kind of weird."

"That's stupid. You can't help who you love. Ephram's not so bad."

"Thanks, I think". Ephram says, reaching over to ruffle her hair.

"Anyway, he likes me."

"Well, anyway, Delia. There's also Amy." Colin adds.

"She was your girlfriend before you met Ephram, right? She's pretty." Delia confirms.

"Yep, and she's Bright's sister. So he's probably a little mad that I was mean to her."

"Yeah, but it would be meaner to be her girlfriend when you really wanted to be with Ephram."

"Your sister's smart, Ephram." Colin tells him.

"She is," Ephram says. "But she still doesn't get the extra slice of pie."


After a small detour for gas and directions (apparently it is possible to get lost on the way to Everwood), Dan and Casey get to the Bed and Breakfast around sunset. Their room has two queen-sized beds with matching forest green comforters, and cedar dressers.

Casey tosses their bags on one of the beds, and flops down on the other, stopping once to flip on the TV to CSC.

"Gee, that's romantic, Case." Dan says.

"Oh, please. I just beat you to it." Casey tells him, but turns it off anyway.

Dan starts tossing their clothes into the dresser. For someone who isn't exactly neat, he hates living out of a suitcase.

"Don't forget to hang the shirts and suits," Casey reminds him. 'There's no one here to iron for us."

"Yes, Mom."

They've been settled in the room about half an hour when there's a knock on the door. Ron -- or is it Erick -- invites them down to dinner.

"It's brisket tonight. Erick made it, and it's really good." Must be Ron, then.

Five minutes into the meal, Casey has ferreted out Ron and Erick's life story, from Ron's little sister's bout with breast cancer that brought them back to Colorado, to their wedding in Alaska.

"So how long have you been together?" Casey asks them. Dan's always a little amazed at Casey's ability to make friends so quickly. Even after all this time, groups tend to make him nervous.

"Going on twenty years." Erick tells them, leaning down to kiss Ron on the back of the neck, and swiping a roll.

"But the wedding was nine years ago," Ron adds. "What about you guys?"

"We've been friends since I got out of college," Dan says. Casey looks over at him and shrugs.

"Three years," he says. "Was it that obvious?" He's a little uncomfortable with that.

"Not obvious, no. But the way you play off each other on the air?. Erick and I have been watching you for years."

"And we don't even like sports," Ron added, pouring them more wine.

"So what brings you to Everwood? Vacation?" Erick asked.

"No, we're doing a piece on Colin Hart." Dan said.

"Damn shame, that story. Accident never should have happened." Ron sounded pissed.

"You'd think that kind of thing would happen more often in a small town like this, but somehow Everwood seems to avoid it more often than not. Or maybe our kids just get lucky," Erick said.

"What do you mean?" Dan asked. "The kid doesn't sound all that lucky."

"Oh, you know. Drunk teenagers. Accidents waiting to happen." Ron sounds disdainful. He looks up when Erick kicks him under the table. "Oh God, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean?" he says.

"It's ok," Dan says. Casey's hand on his knee is reassuring. Grounding. Sam's been dead for as long as he was alive, and still stories about wasted teens chill him to the bone. He's not sure he's going to like the kid now, even though he expects he'll identify with him.

The rest of the dinner is uneventful. Ron and Erick give them the rundown on the town. Dan and Casey have to admit it sounds quaint, but altogether interesting.

"Dr Brown is pretty amazing," Erick says. "Dr Abbot was pissed when he came into town, and wouldm't charge anyone. But everyone really likes him."

"Yeah, and he didn't have the New York attitude like Joel did." Ron adds.

"Joel?" Casey asks.

"Dr Joel Fleischman. Our General Practioner in Cicely." Erick tells them.

"Alaska. He had to work off his student grant there, and resented it until he finally got to go back home. Nice guy, though." Ron says. "You don't know him, do you?"

"Um, no. There are more Jewish doctors in New York than there are SUVs here, probably." Casey laughs.

"OK, so Dr Brown is the bigwig, right? The one who operated on Colin."

"Yes. And Dr Abbott was the town doctor before Dr Brown moved here. His son Bright and Colin were best friends, and his daughter Amy was Colin's girlfriend. He's kind of an ass, but he means well." Ron explains.

"Bright was the one in the car with Colin." Erick says. "Poor kid, I can't imagine the guilt."

"He's got a lot to deal with now. I don't think they're such good friends anymore."

"Too bad," Dan responded. He looked over at Casey. They both knew something about fallings out with best friends. They'd come through a lot together.

"We're kind of tired from the flight," Casey said. He could tell Dan wanted to excuse them from Scrabble, or quilting, or whatever enertainment well meaning B&B proprieters thought their guests wanted to do, for that wholesome experience.

"No problem guys", Erick told them. "Don't worry, the rooms are very private. The kitchen's open all night for light snacks. Breakfasts at 8:00, but you can get cereal and muffins until noon. Have a good night."

Dan and Casey headed back to their room for a long and comfortable night.


"You'll come with me to the interview, won't you?" Colin asked Ephram. They were in Colin's bedroom, looking for something Colin could wear on the air. "No white, no wild patterns" was what he had been told.

Ephram pulled out a navy blue pullover, and a pair of jeans. "Wear these," he ordered Colin.

"Are you sure?"

"Trust me." Ephram said, remembering the way the jeans fit, and the shirt looked smoothed down Colin's arms and chest.

"Yeah, I'll be there - unless they kick me out. It's supposed to be all about you, isn't it?"

"You're a part of me. You know that." Colin dropped the clothes on the bed, and wrapped his arms around Ephram. They never did much when they were at his house. His parents still acted oblivious. Sometimes he didn't care what happened, or how they reacted. He just wanted to be close to Ephram. Needed it.

"We're here in Everwood Colorado, a small town outside Denver, to talk with Colin Hart, Everwood's closest thing to a miracle. Had his life gone the way it started out, you might have heard his name in a few years, when he led his team to a NCAA victory. Everyone knew he was the best basketball player Everwood High School had seen, since the days of Carl Feeny and the state championship."

"But what makes this story different than any other tale about an up and coming young athlete is what happened on July 4th, 2002. " Casey's voiceover went on.

"What started as an act of youthful exuberance - two friends off-roading on a summer holiday-soon became a tragedy that tested an entire town. Because what happens to one family in Everwood, happens to them all."

Casey went on to describe the accident, and the four months Colin spent in the coma. "Some say, the miracle occurred when Dr Andy Brown stepped in to perform the experimental surgeries that enabled Colin to wake from his coma, and start life over again. Others say it's because the town needed Colin to heal, that he is Everwood's heart. Its center."

"Colin will tell you differently. Yes, he's grateful for Doctor Brown's fine mind, and sure hands. And yes, he knows the townspeople supported him and his family throughout the ordeal." Casey finished.

"I've always thought there were two Colins. Colin the first was the one before the accident. I don't remember him. I've tried. I've looked at pictures and yearbooks, and home videos. I've listened to everyone tell me how I used to be, but it's like watching somebody on TV. You know, like when you're watching some old movie, and some actor looks familiar, but you don't know where you've seen him?" Colin explained.

"So 'Colin the First' is who you used to be, and you're what - 'Colin the Second' now?" Dan responded.

"Yeah, pretty much. The thing is, I don't know who Colin the First really was. What I do know is he's not me."

"So you'd say this experience changed you? The accident, the recovery?" Dan went on.

"Yeah, sure. I don't think anyone could go through something like that and not be changed. But there's more to it than that. I don't know if it had anything to do with the accident, or if I'd have turned out this way anyway. Sometimes I think it's people who change you, more than events. It's like I didn't know myself at all, until I had an outside perspective. Someone who had no idea who I was before turned out to be the only person who gets who I am now." Colin smiled over at Ephram, who was standing off camera, hands in pockets, trying to look unobtrusive.

"Everyone else expects you to go back to the way you were before?" Dan said.

"Yes, and it's hard enough being me. I just can't remember all the things I'm supposed to to be who I was before. I don't even know if I'd like myself the way I was, or if the old me would like the way I am now."

"But what's important is that you like the way you are now, right?" Dan asked him "Do you?"

"Yeah," Colin smiled again. "I think I turned out all right."

"Colin Hart is seventeen, and a senior at Everwood High School in Everwood Colorado. He is not the starting forward on the basketball team. He does not care." Casey's voiceover closed the piece.


Back in New York, in the editing room on Monday night, Dan and Casey were finally alone. Dana had really liked what they'd done. "So you weren't just there to ski and fart around," she'd said.

"Of course not. We were there to take CSC's money." Casey snarked.

When Dana left, Dan asked Casey "It went well, don't you think? Those were nice kids. And more than a little familiar. I hope they turn out all right." He got up and walked out of the room.

"Yeah, Danny," Casey said. "I hope so too." He flipped the light off, and followed Danny out the door.


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