Dave is sitting on the weird bed thing at the doctor's--what's that thing even called? Is it even a bed?--bare-chested, taking deep breaths upon instruction. His breathing sounds weird and kinda gross--it's been like that for a while, which is of course why you brought him here. Doctor's visits aren't cheap, but he's been doing this nasty cough-wheeze thing a lot, having a lot of trouble sleeping because of it. You finally decided you shouldn't leave it alone, and get him checked out.
The doctor looks up toward you. "Would you consider yourself a regular smoker, Mr. Strider?" he asks. You'd thought he was finished with the questions earlier, but apparently not.
You don't see why it's relevant, but you guess he wouldn't ask if it wasn't. You wrinkle your brow and nod.
He nods too. "Inside the home?"
Of course not. That would be stupid. You would ruin all your sick gear. "No, I keep it outside," you reply.
"What about in your vehicle?"
"How often would you say, is David with you when you're smoking?"
"I dunno. Few times a week, maybe? Kid likes to follow me around."
Dave is now sitting alone, watching this conversation happen. His shades are set down just out of his reach, and he doesn't seem sure he's allowed to move. He looks uncomfortable, but doesn't say anything. He doesn't say much in general, to anyone but you.
The doctor seems to take note of this. "Well, the symptoms are looking like asthma. I'm going to start him on a bronchodilator, and we'll see how things improve... Tobacco can cause or worsen asthma symptoms, so you may want to cut down any tobacco exposure that David may be getting."
You nod skeptically. Is he telling you to quit smoking? And, wow, this is sounding kinda expensive, you're going to have to do something to work to up site traffic and subscriptions and you might have to take more DJing jobs but--but man, you'll need a babysitter and Dave doesn't do well with babysitters other than Mr. Egbert--and while he's great about watching Dave on the weekends, especially since you let him bring his kid too, you can't ask him to come around more than that and okay you really really
need a cigarette right now.
"You're free to go now," says the doctor, addressing Dave. He grabs his shades and puts them on, and then jumps down and hops over toward you. You hand him his shirt, which he eagerly puts on (backwards). You crouch to his level and help him turn it around, smirking slightly.
"See Dave?" you say, still crouching before him, "you're gonna get some nerd medicine and then everything will be cool, a'ight?"
"Don't want no nerd medicine," he says, scowling.
"Too bad, you're an official nerd now. You need to cure your nerdiness and remain cool like your Bro. A'ight?"
He stares downward and shuffles his feet. Then he looks up and nods, smiling. "Okay."
"Cool," you say, smiling back and ruffling his hair. You stand up straight and take his hand. The doctor hands you a prescription for Dave, and you head out.
"Wanna get a snack? I'll buy you whatever you want," you tell Dave as you exit the building.
"Ice cream," he declares. "Ten."
"Ten ice creams? A'ight, lil' man, if you can handle it," you say, smiling. You help him up into your truck and buckle him into his seat. As you get into the truck, you reach for a cigarette. Man, this is crazy stressful. But as you're about to light it, you remember that Dave is right there, and you're not supposed to ##### around him. Cool. Great. Awesome. You shove it back into your pocket and decide to seriously consider quitting. You probably have cancer already anyway, so you should start lookin' out for yourself, ya know?
"So, ten ice creams," you say again, looking at Dave.
He looks thoughtful. "Two," he says decisively.
"Not hungry? You gettin' sick? Is the nerd spreading?"
He shakes his head. "Two ice creams. Big ones. I don't got ten hands."
You smile, nod. "Right, right."
Oh god, he's so freakin' precious. He's the kind of kid little old ladies give all their butterscotches to. You make a decision right there and then that you're going to have to do it for him. It won't be easy, but, hey. He's your
kid. He's gonna be a big shot someday, you'll make sure of that. But he's not gonna get anywhere if he can't breathe.