Ephram knows he's going to pick up the pieces.
For once, he doesn't even mind, because he's finally figured out what kind of a person his father is, what kind of things he can and can't do, what kinds of things his father needs. And Ephram knows his father needs him.
In the car, once Delia is asleep, Ephram says, "What happened?"
His dad is driving maybe five, ten miles below the speed limit. To Ephram, it seems needlessly careful. "I don't know," he answers, "I did everything, and." One hand is on the steering wheel, but the other suddenly reaches out, looking for something to hold onto.
Ephram says, "no, I mean." He pauses, wondering how much his dad knew his face gave away. "I know you feel responsible, and everything," he starts akwardly. "and I don't know what that must feel like." He pauses again. "But it seemed like there was something else going on, is all, and--"
His dad cuts him off sharply. "Well there wasn't." Ephram looks hurt, but bites back any snapping reply, and his dad glances over from the road. "I"m sorry, Ephram."
Ephram grins weakly. "S'okay.'
"It." His dad swallows. "When Colin came to see me last night, he made me promise something," he says, finally. "He made me promise that if something were to go wrong, that." His dad stops, painfully, continuing, "that I wouldn't try to bring him back."
"Oh," Ephram answers, softly. "I didn't know that." he says finally.
"No one did," his dad replies. "Just Colin and me."
Ephram thinks for a minute, watches the painful flow of emotion across his dad's face. He knows that whatever else, his dad is a great doctor. "You broke your promise," Ephram murmurs, needlessly, because Colin is still at the hospital, because something did go wrong.
His dad doesn't reply.
Ephram adds, "but, dad." He halts, because he has to say the right thing, and what does a sixteen year old know about saying the right thing? nothing, except his dad needs him to say something, anything. Ephram knows that look on his dad's face. "That's a shitty promise to ask a doctor to make," he says. His dad doesn't look at him. "And you're the best doctor," Ephram says. "You couldn't keep that promise."
His dad just says, "How do you know what kind of doctor I am?"
Ephram says, "because I know you wouldn't do that to the Harts, to his parents." He takes a breath. His dad looks so in pain. "Because you couldn't handle the idea that those people could lose Colin because he wasn't brave enough to face rehab or whatever," Ephram says.
His dad grips the wheel. "That doesn't make me a good doctor, son," he answers. "That makes me too biased to be a good doctor."
Ephram says, "Well, I know you. Maybe it's not great for a doctor, but it's who you are. It's good." Ephram watches his dad, trying to pick up the pieces. "It's all going to turn out good."