"Mr. Matheson. I'm Neil Kirkpatrick. It's nice to meet you." Keeping his voice cheerful, he went right over to Matheson's chair and held out his hand. The man was pretty good looking, even dressed down and looking pretty low.
Mr. Matheson looked at it for a long moment before shaking. "Yeah, hi. Kit." He didn't sigh, but his voice lacked any enthusiasm, and he sounded tired. He didn't look up to meet Neil's gaze.
"Kit. Cool." Neil grabbed a rolling stool and sat across from Kit. "So, I'm going to be your physical therapist for the duration of your recovery. From your medical file, it looks like you'll be able to walk again. I'm not going to blow sunshine up your skirt -- it's going to take work, but it is entirely doable."
Kit finally looked at him, his blue eyes dull. Not drugged -- Neil had seen enough of that to know -- but without spark. Without hope. "So they tell me. And they tell me the work is going to hurt, and that it's up to me. They tell me a lot of things."
"Well, I'm not a 'they', I'm just me. And I'm telling you that yes, it's going to take work, and yes, some of it -- a lot of it -- is going to hurt. None of it is going to be easy. And it's totally up to you. You have a choice to make -- walk again or don't." Neil grinned. "Personally, I think walking again is by far the better option."
"Sure you do." Kit shrugged one shoulder. "Sure I do. But I'm in pain as it is, and you're not the one who's going to be adding more on top of it. You get to tell me what to do, and I'm the one who winds up eating painkillers like they're candy and fighting addiction." Kit grit his teeth. "Do you know how many doctors I have?"
Neil did a rough calculation in his head. "Probably four. Maybe five." They'd have the man at a psychologist at least once a week. "It'll get better, though. As you strengthen your muscles and relearn how to walk, the pain will lessen. I'm here to help you, Kit. I want you to succeed."
That got him a bitter smile. "I wanted that, too. I was working on it when my whole life got taken from me. Just do me a favor, all right? Never tell me I'm lucky it wasn't worse. If you do, I'll leave and I'll never come back. There's nothing lucky about this."
Neil carefully schooled his features. "All right, I won't tell you that." He got that Kit couldn't see that yet, that he wouldn't believe it, maybe for a long while.
"You'll be among the first. You and my shrink." He looked toward the door with a jerk of his head. "I can't drive. I can't do much of anything. I had to move back home with my father. My dad is out there, probably charming the nurse. You can tell him how lucky I am -- he'll be thrilled to talk about it."
"I'm not here for your father, Kit. I'm here for you. I'm not going to give him a report on how you're doing or share anything with him that we do in here, okay? You are my patient. Not your father or anyone else."