31. Lucy has inspired me to get this story going again. Mayhaps she threatened me with a meat cleaver?
"Hey Pete. Where are you?"
"We're back in Chicago. I'm at the hospital right now."
"Okay, I was actually about to head over there. I just got home."
"Good, I'll see you then. Oh wait, bring me some Airheads?"
"Airheads. The squishy things, they're chewy and stretchy and..."
"I know what Airheads are, you dumbass. What do you need them for?"
"I'm hungry. And there's nothing good in the vending machine and I really want some blue Airheads. Lots of them. Please?"
"Ooookay. How's Lexi doing?"
"Uh... she's still alive?"
"Thanks. You're such a big help."
"I know, I practice. Shut up!" I hiss at Lex, forgetting Lucy's still on the other end of the phone. "Uhm, I have to go, Joe's aggravating me. Call me when you're headed upstairs. I love you." I press the end button and toss my Sidekick at Lexi, laughing as she bats it away and it bounces onto the bed. Through the whole phone call, she was doing the "Tiny Kangaroo Dance," a la Nicole Kidman. It's very hard to act bummed out when a tiny girl is bouncing around and singing in an Australian accent, believe me.
"Is she bringing them? Please tell me I get refined sugar today!"
"Yup. Blue Airheads, coming right up."
She squeals and hugs me, and my eyes start stinging. It's still almost strange to have her around and alive again, and when she moves to step back, I only squeeze her tighter.
"Uh, Pete?" She mumbles into my shirt. "Hug's kind of over now."
"No! No no no. You're back, you're alive, you're Lexi. I'm never letting you go again."
"Oh." She pauses. "Well, can you let me go now?"
"How about now?"
"Okay." I give her one last squeeze and let her go, blinking back tears.
"Oh, stop it, you big pussy."
"I can't help it. I loves my Lexi. You have no idea how worried we were."
"Well, I'm fine now. Stop crying."
My phone starts ringing and I hurry towards the bed, grabbing it and hitting the green button without looking at the screen first.
"Oh. Hi Andy. Sorry." Lexi laughs and I turn away. "What's up?" We talk for a minute, mostly about when we're heading back out of town, and then Lexi starts poking me in the back, finally ripping my phone out of my hand.
"Andy! Hey buddy. No. Well, duh. Nope, it's good. When are you coming back to see me? Bring Tyra! Cool. Oooh! You know what else you should bring? No. Ew, no. Listen! Koala Yummies. No. Gross. No, they look like koalas and they're filled with deliciousness. Yes. No, I do not have a problem eating koalas. They're not bears, dummy, they're marsupials. It does matter! Okay. Please? Pleeeease? Yay! Chocolate, not strawberry. Okay. Bye!" She flips the phone back to me, but Andy's already hung up.
"You're just using us to smuggle food in for you," I accuse, pointing a finger at her as she walks across the small room.
"Pretty much," she sighs as she flops onto the bed and grabs the remote. "Hey, your phone's ringing again."
I almost didn't hear it over the hum of the bed moving up and down, and before I answer it, I double check the caller ID.
"Hello? Okay. We... I'll see you in a sec." I nod toward the door. "She's coming."
"Eee!" Lex jumps up and scuffs on her flip flops, and we head toward the elevators.
"You should hug me goodbye now. Because you do know Lucy's going to kill me for not telling her you're awake."
"Please. Did she kill you two years ago when I hid out at your house for a week straight and no one told her? No."
"Please. Were we together then, therefore making me her official bitch? No."
"Whatev. I'll protect you," she flexes her "muscles."
"Right. She-who-just-came-out-of-a-coma is going to save me from my rather feisty and extraordinarily livid girlfriend. Great."
She laughs as we stop in front of the elevator bank, Lexi excitedly tugging on her shirt. A few moments later, the first door dings and Lex starts bouncing on the balls of her feet, but when the doors open it's only two nurses, chatting about shoes.
My shoulders slump as the nurses walk by, but I perk right back up when another door dings. I scoot over in front of the elevator and the doors slide open to reveal... a man wheeling an oxygen tank behind him. "Double damn." I instantly feel bad for being mad at a man with a respiratory issue, but I can't help but want him to wheel that thing off a little faster so the elevator can be back in commission.
"Oh. My. God."
I turn around in time to see the stairwell door slam shut behind Lucy. I open my arms and take a step forward, but she swings on Pete, pointing a finger in his face. "You knew about this?!" She smacks him on the arm and I wince, feeling bad as the beatdown progresses. "You knew my Lexi was awake," slap "and you," slap "didn't," slap "tell," slap "me?!" She hits him one last time and he turns to me, wincing.
"I told you so."
"Hello? Before you beat him right to death, can I maybe get a hug? Because I really missed you."
"You didn't call me?!" She shouts after releasing me from her deathgrip.
"Well, I wanted you to enjoy your vacation, Lexi-crisis free. The doctor said I'd still be in the hospital when you got back, so I wanted to just wait it out."
Lucy spends the next twenty minutes alternately wailing about how worried she was and bitching about no one telling her. It's pretty amusing.
"Oh! I almost forgot," she goes fishing in her bag and pulls out an entire box of Airheads. "Here's your 'mourning' food, you jerk."
I snatch the box as it's midway to Pete's hand and tear it open, stuffing an entire bar in my mouth.
"Lex, that's pretty much nasty."
"You don't understand," I mumble around a mouthful of blue raspberry goodness. I take a second to finish chewing before continuing, "the nurse makes me eat my carrots. I can't even have Jell-o. If I have to hear one more time that a healthy body heals faster," I mimic her nasally voice, "I will jump out that window. The woman's a nazi."
"Home sweet home!"
"Err, Lex? We're still almost three blocks away."
"Peter, listen. You could've dumped me naked into the lake and I would still be ecstatic. I am so glad to get out of the hospital and into my own bed. Maybe with a taco," I trail off, thinking about how much wonderful food is at my disposal in this city.
"First, you've been sleeping for a month and a half. You had better not get straight into bed, or I will dump your naked body into the lake. And secondly, you are so going to get fat."
"Hey!" I reach across and slap him in the chest and he whines and rubs the spot where I hit him.
"Well, I mean, you know..."
"Yeah, I know. I just miss eating, and I miss food. Good food. I'll get over it, just give me another week or so."
Pete finally pulls into my lot and shuts off the ignition. "Ready?"
"Uhm, for what? My apartment? Oooh, big excitement." I step out of the car, grabbing my dress from the backseat, and squidge around for a minute. "Hey, Pete? I really appreciate you bringing me clothes, so that I wouldn't have to wear those scrubs anymore."
"But what are the chances you could've brought my pants?"
He laughs as I try to figure out how to walk up the stairs without ripping these jeans wide open. "Sorry. See, I grabbed everything for you, but when I got to the hospital, I realized I had left the pants on your bed. And those were in the backseat. I think they're Hil's, actually."
"Wait. You mean to tell me I'm currently wearing your kid sister's jeans? Jeez, man. Even without my seven-day candy binge, these never would've fit. Dang." I make it through about two more seconds of this mounting pressure on my ass, then give up, stopping halfway up the stairs. "Screw it." I slide the pants off, trying not to fall down the steps as I laugh at his shocked face. At least he brought me my own panties. "Much better. You coming?" I call down as I reach the top and grab the doorknob.
Surprise is right. Here I am, looking like a walking one night stand, while my friends stare at me with varying degrees of shock, confusion, and amusement on their faces. "Whoops." I toss Pete's jeans on the floor and make a beeline for the stairs, hearing Pete rush into a storm of questions. Poor guy. I spot the pants where he left them on my pillow, my brown plaid old-man pants Lucy had given me. Once I'm decent I head for my bedroom door, only to run headfirst into Tom's chest.
"Ooh, sorry. You okay?"
"Am I okay?!" I throw my arms around his neck and squeeze as hard as possible. "I'm awake, I'm alive, I'm home, my boyfriend is here! Of course I'm okay!" I pull back cautiously, watching for his reaction to the b-word. He frowns slightly and I silently berate myself. What the hell was I thinking? We were fine the way we were, we didn't need a stupid title, why did I listen to everyone who told me to man up and commit?
"Boyfriend? Lex, I..."
"Listen. I know I'm a serial commitment-phobe and I have a bit of a hit-and-run reputation, but we've been doing really well and I don't think actually classifying our relationship as a 'relationship,'" I make a jazz-hands-esque motion, "would change that. I mean, I like you, or whatever, and..."
"Or whatever? A fine way to start a relationship," he mimcs my movements, smiling, and I relax.
"Is that a yes then? Can I take the 'dot' out of your title?"
"Can you take the 'or whatever' out of your feelings for me?" He leans in to kiss me and I grin.
"I think so, yes," I whisper against his lips.
"Then yes, that's a yes."
Chapter title from I'm Like a Lawyer With the Way I'm Always Trying to Get You Off by none other than the FOB Unit.
Again, after a desperate cry for help via text messages last night, Lucy (the girl, not the character, silly) has helped me to get my story back in motion. So much love to her and her genius-ness, and to her ability to make me feel not-so-stupid-and-talentless. Today I like hyphens.