Lily's health improved daily. The bruises that both Lily and Sam had received were slowly healing. She no longer needed an oxygen mask, and could eat solid foods, well whatever the hospital fed her so I suppose that wasn't much of an improvement. As her health improved however, I started to become worried. My mother's words often echoed in my mind, "You don't live through junk like that and just bounce back without any problems." I was starting to notice differences about her. The way she would act whenever she thought no one was looking, or even the way she interacted with all of us.
Not that I voiced my opinions out loud. They were just nagging little thoughts in the back of my mind that wouldn't leave me be no matter how many times I tried to shrug them off.
My brother Sam was with my mother, they had gone to the store to spruce up the room Lily occupied.
"So what have you been up to?" I asked, reclining lazily in the chair.
She raised an eyebrow, "Sleeping, taking medication, eating, talking, breathing, blinking-"
"Boy doesn't your life sound interesting?" I teased.
"Yeah, you should totally be jealous."
"When do you start therapy?"
"Uh," she racked her brain, "Actually later today."
"Oh?" I feigned interest.
She grunted and rolled her eyes, "So..what have you been up to?"
"Eating, breathing, sleeping-"
"Oh shut up!" she said, laughing, for a moment I could pretend that she was the same girl that walked into my house a couple weeks ago. But then I could almost see the invisible shields rising again as she distanced herself.
"I won't be able to do anything too strenuous for a while," she murmured, looking out the window, she looked back at me and gestured to her abdomen, "Don't want to pull the stitches out."
"Aren't you lucky?"
Again she rolled her eyes, "How's school?"
"It's school, what do you expect?"
"No I mean, like anything happen? Has Alex bothered you at all? What about Rose?"
At the sound of that last name I clenched my fist until my fingernails dug into my skin.
"What? Is it Alex? What'd he do?" she asked, misplacing my anger.
I sighed, not knowing how to approach the subject, "It's not Alex," I finally managed, too angry to sit still any more, I stood up and started pacing the room.
"I don't understand," Lily stated, confusion clearly written across her face.
Her eyes tracked my facial expression, looking for any sort of answer that would explain the intense rage I now felt whenever Rose was mentioned.
When I didn't reply to her earlier statement she repeated, "Dean, I don't understand. What did Rose do?" she looked at me imploringly, I wished I could resist that need I saw in her eyes. The need to know, to understand. It was almost as bad as Sammy's stupid puppy dog eyes.
"She's the reason you're here," I stated, hoping she would leave it at that.
Naturally she didn't take the hint, "No, my father is the reason I'm here," I swear she almost sounded like she doubted herself. It was as if some part of her knew what I wasn't saying but she didn't want to believe it. "Dean, what did Rose do?"
"She-she told that stupid bastard where you were!" I blurted.
Her eyes widened as my words took hold.
"No," she finally breathed, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath,"I..."she shook her head.
"Lily," I surprised myself by how gentle my voice sounded, I hated to see her like this, but knowing I had caused her further pain? No, I had to make it better somehow, "Lily-"
"Please," she held up a hand to stop me and my heart shattered, tears were forming in her eyes, threatening to escape, "It's not your fault," she told me after a beat.
My anger sank down the drain and before I had formed another coherent thought I was pushing myself onto her bed next to her, and wrapping my arm over her shoulders, pulling her into me.
She didn't cry, but she accepted the gesture, something that proved just how broken she must've felt.
"Why didn't she tell me?" her voice wavered.
"Tell you?" I asked.
"She came in, yesterday," Lily explained offhandedly, "She didn't act any differently, at least not that I could tell."
"Want me to beat her up?" I offered, knowing she would decline.
"Nah," she said, chuckling a little before she added, "But thanks for the offer."
"Anytime," I replied with a little chuckle of my own.
She rested her head on my shoulder, "This reminds me of right after that panic attack, you remember?"
I had to lighten the mood, this was getting way too chick-flick for me, but I couldn't force myself to pull away, "You mean when I was friggin' awesome and came to your rescue, again?" I emphasized the last word.
I could feel her shoulders shake with laughter and her head as she shook it.
"What's your mom gonna say when she walks in and finds you in a girl's bed?" she wondered out loud.
"You do know how sexual that sounds don't you?" I teased.
"Wow Dean," but there wasn't any anger in her voice.
A nurse poked her head in the door, her eyes widened a little at the sight of us but she made no comment, "It's time for therapy Lily."
"Can he join?" Lily asked, making her voice sound so innocent that I wanted to laugh, "He can be like my personal..."she searched for the right word.
"Cheerleader?" I supplied.
She elbowed me lightly but nodded.
The nurse hesitated but then caved to my surprise, "Alright, but if he becomes a distraction..."
"I leave," I promised.
I hopped off of Lily's bed and grabbed the wheelchair that sat in the corner of the room as Lily slowly untangled herself from the wires and bed sheets.
"You don't know how happy I am that they let me wear my own sweats and sweatshirt," she mumbled.
I laughed as I pulled the chair close to the bed, "Your chariot awaits, your highness."
She glared at me as she pushed herself upright.
I placed a steadying hand on her elbow and helped ease her down.
"Jeez cripple," I teased.
She flipped me the finger, "Shut up and drive."
"As you wish," I replied, grinning.
I raced her out of the room and ran down the hallway.
Lily gripped the arm rests tightly, "If you kill me, so help me God, I will come back and kick your ass!" she threatened.
"Ah, come on," I sighed, slowing to a walk as we neared the elevator, just happy that I had distracted her thoughts from Rose, if only for the time being.
The physical therapy was mainly for my upper body, since my leg was still in a cast and my stomach still had stitches in it. The trainer was a young woman who had a unique sense of humor. She allowed Dean to stay as long as he promised not to distract me. Which he did anyway of course.
We started with the dumb bells. Just easy-peasy, ten pounders. It surprised me how much strength I really had lost when lifting them above my head became a challenge.
"Come on cripple," Dean joked.
My therapist pursed her lips, I could see an idea forming in her mind and knew this wouldn't end well for Dean.
"Dean, is it?" She asked.
"Do you consider yourself physically fit?" she questioned. Yep, Dean was definitely in trouble.
When he nodded, she pointed to the ground at her feet, "Twenty five push ups."
I started laughing at the look on his face.
"What?" he asked.
"Twenty five push ups, come on, a strong man like you, it should be a breeze." Her voice practically dripped with sarcasm.
"Uh, okay," Dean said, getting on the floor and positioning himself.
"Arms closer to your body," she instructed, tapping his hand lightly with her shoe.
Dean complied and did a pushup.
"Make sure your nose touches the ground buddy," I think by now my trainer was having a little too much fun with this.
Dean did as he was told and dropped lower, he did the last of the twenty five and pushed himself up, looking a little red in the face but otherwise unfazed. He stood up and gave me a grin as he flexed his biceps.
"Which way to the beach?"he asked, dropping his voice an octave and acting out taking off sunglasses.
I laughed so hard my chest hurt.
From then on my trainer had Dean doing everything I did, only with heavier weights. By the time the session was over my poor abused arms felt like noodles.
I sat in the wheelchair, mentally counting down the days until I could use crutches.
"Uh-uh, you can roll yourself," Dean grumbled, massaging his muscles, but he started pushing the wheelchair anyway, "That was fun," he murmured as we exited the room.
I shrugged, not bothering to make a verbal reply.
We entered my room a few minutes later. He set the wheelchair close to my bed and placed the brakes on before walking to the front.
"Need help?" he offered, sounding genuine.
I shook my head already embarrassed from needing his help earlier. I placed my hands firmer on the arm rests and pushed up, my arms visibly shaking under my weight.
"I'll take that as a yes," he murmured, gently grabbing my elbows and guiding me to the bed.
I felt a blush forming on my cheeks. Hating how useless I felt.
Dean didn't say a word as he put the wheelchair back in it's corner and sat on the bed beside me.
I let my legs dangle over the edge my toes of my none broken leg just barely grazing the floor.
"I thought your mom and Sam would be back by now," I muttered when the silence started to become awkward.
He shrugged, "They probably got side-tracked at the store."
"That happen often?"
Dean shrugged again.
There was a quiet knock on the door.
"Visiting hours are over." the nurse said, looking like she regretted having to tell Dean to leave.
"What?" Dean complained.
"I'm sorry sir, I don't make up the rules here."
"Yeah sir," I joked, "You have to go sir."
He rolled his eyes, "Okay ma'am, text you later?"
I didn't bother hiding the smile that crossed my lips, "Sure thing sir."
"Oh God," he murmured, "See you later ma'am," he teased as he stood up.
"Goodbye sir," I replied, chuckling, as he left.
A strange ache overcame me as I watched him go. I labelled it as loneliness and thought nothing more of it. But the feeling felt strange nonetheless. It was as if Dean took a part of me whenever he left. My cheeks were sore from all of the laughter, I smiled replaying the last afternoon with him. Then my smile dripped away as an odd pain flared in my stomach.
I bolted out of bed, gripping my gut as the pain intensified. Miraculously, I made it to the toilet before everything I ate that day decided to make a reappearance. I groaned as I leaned over the porcelain. 'This is wrong,' I thought, 'Terribly wrong.'
"Help!" my call was weak, detached, "Nurse!"
I bent over as I got sick again. Spitting the disgusting bile out of my mouth. Feeling miserable and terrified. Because this shouldn't be happening. The doctor had said I was on the mend. She had seemed so positive that I was now on the up trail to getting better. A moan escaped my lips as the pain persisted in my abdomen. Someone was with me. Some nurse, telling me something. I didn't respond to any of her questions, didn't move when she stuck a thermometer in my ear, didn't react at all because I simply didn't care. I was exhausted. Tired of being tired, sick of being sick, wanting so badly to be whole again, and this...I dry heaved into the toilet having already puked up any food I had previously had in my stomach. No, there was no way that this could be a good thing.