It takes another 4 weeks before Calix wakes up.
“Come on Calix, I want to go home and I know you do too. So come on and wake up already!”
And he starts coughing.
Coughing and coughing.
“I... I can’t... I can’t breathe...”
I quickly pull the tube out of his throat, setting some machine beeping and some medics running in.
Calix continues coughing and gagging for the next 10 minutes before he finally calms down, heaving for air.
“What the... Where?... Who... What... Where am I? What... What happened?”
“Lux? Lux, is that you?”
“You’re awake!” I practically jump on top of him and wrap my arms around his neck. He’s okay. Thank god he’s okay.
Calix is okay.
He can come home.
I don’t hate myself anymore.
“Lux... hey, wait.. What? Where am I? What the hell is goin’ on?”
“You’re in the infirmary. One of the aliens hit the back of your Gungram’s head.”
“It was my fault. I wasn’t fast enough to stop it.”
“Hey, what are you talking about? I’m sure that’s not true.”
“But it is Calix. I couldn’t stop it because I was too slow. You have every right to hate me. In fact, I’ll never talk to you again if you want. As long as you’re okay, I don’t care.” I whisper, tears coming to my eyes.
“Why would I want that? I don’t want that. And stop saying it’s your fault. I don’t care if it’s your fault. Because you’re my best friend and we’re both okay.” He replies, wrapping one of his arms around my back.
“I was so scared that you wouldn’t wake up.”
“What would you have done if I hadn’t?”
“Started by smashing the xbox.”
He laughs quietly.
“Okay, get off. That hurts Lux.”
“Oh, sorry.” I quickly pull myself off him.
“When do we need to get back out there?”
“We don’t.” I say.
“Why? Did they wipe them out or something?”
“Turns out it was all a big misunderstanding.” I explain.
“Yeah. All General Dubois’ fault.”
“That’s not surprising. So, where did everyone go?”
“Well, Diva and Elihu were pretty opposed to trusting the aliens, but eventually they came around. Diva’s joining the war against the OTHER aliens. And Elihu is going home to his parents. River’s going with him.”
“What about Akira?”
“Akira’s going home alone, and Cade and Moya are going back to their base. We’re the last ones here.”
“Well, then let’s go home.”
“Yeah, well, the medics want you to stay a little longer so you can actually, you know, walk.”
“And how much longer is ‘a little longer?’”
“Maybe a week or two. Not too long. And there’s no way I’m leaving until you’re ready to come back with me.”
“You’re sure? Don’t you wanna get home?”
“Well, if I go home know, Holden will kill me for leaving you behind.”
“You shouldn’t worry about Holden. You could probably take him anyway.”
“Yeah, I don’t care. I’m not leaving. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Wait, wait. Why is River going with Elihu?”
“Long story, short version: River and I had a heart-to-heart and she decided she’d rather stick with Elihu than go back with Akira. And I don’t blame her.”
“Hm, neither do I.”
“Anyway, don’t even try to convince me to leave, because you’ll fail.”
“Won’t even try then.”
“You have no idea how much I missed you while you were asleep.”
“Yeah, cause you didn’t bother to make any friends.”
“Yeah, your coaching really hasn’t helped me be any more friendly with people I hate.”
“And what about the ones you don’t hate?”“Meh, didn’t feel like I needed any new friends.”
“You’re not gonna get through life with just me and your parents.”
“And your brother.”
“Two friends, you’re set for life.”
“As long as neither of those two friends ever stupidly volunteers for a war after I do again. Ever.”
“You were happy I came with you.”
“Yes you were.”
“No I wasn’t,” I blush slightly.
“Yes you were.”
“No I wasn’t!”
“You can’t fool me.”
“Yeah, I know, and you know what Calix? You scared me to death! I thought you weren’t gonna wake up for a while! I thought you had just up and left me! Next time you do that I’m never talking to you again.”
“Sorry. You’re right.”
But we both know I’m not.
At least, I know I’m not.
“Anyway, when we get home, remind me to give you my life’s savings.”
“Because I owe you, why else?”
“You don’t owe me that much.”
“Really? I calculated all the times you saved my ass, and decided I owed you 50 bucks for each time, which means that I owe you about.... 500 bucks. Then another 300 for the shit I put you through with the missile, that’s my life’s savings that I haven’t spent.”
“Yeah, I’m not taking that.”
“Yes you are.”
“No, I’m not.”
“And why do you think that is?”
“Because that’s the entire reason I came here. I came because I didn’t want your parents to come to me with a letter about how you died in action and how it was all my fault. How I could’ve saved you if I had shown a little courage and volunteered with you. So I tagged along. So I’m not taking payment for what I planned to do in the first damn place.”
“Well, I still owe you for the missile thing.”
“No, I knew the risks of coming here, and I came. I knew something like this could happen. And when I thought about something like this happening, it was more along the lines of me never waking up. So, at least I got out alive.”
“Alright, fine. Fine. Just, get better asap so we can get the hell out of here.”
“Yeah, I’ll do my best.”