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Rewind (Book 2)

By CJ Adler All Rights Reserved ©

Humor / Romance

Chapter 8: Worth the Wait

“Boy or girl?” Benley questions as he flips up a coin, bored.

“My bets are on the little creature being a girl.” Landon answers, moving his green eyes from Benley to me, “I just can’t picture your friend as the type to have a boy. I could see your friend dressing up a girl, but what would she do with a boy? Dress him up in frills, bows and tiaras?” Landon openly mocks Bells on her obsession with always looking like perfection.

I nod, “Point taken.” I agree with ease. On the other hand, Max is terrible in dealing with little girls. Either way, it’s going to be disastrous.

We’re all currently waiting in one of the hospital rooms. Bells and Max should have been out a long time ago. However, they’re taking longer than what the doctors had expected. I just hope that there’s been no complications.

“You’re not one for babies, are you?” AJ asks Landon, having observed and taken note of how he keeps referring to the baby as a creature. She’s very perceptive, not that Landon isn’t making it completely obvious. He has a disgusted expression on his face whenever we mention Max having to see the birth of the baby. He keeps muttering ‘gross’ and other profanities beneath his breath.

“Don’t get him started.” Emma chuckles as Landon pulls a face at AJ’s question. Sarah’s disappointed and crestfallen expression does not go unnoticed by me. Sarah obviously wants to start a family with Landon some day. It’s a pity he ain’t struck on having a kid. Plus, I just can’t picture Landon being a father. He’s just so…mean. He seems the type to hack and beat up teddy bears for fun.

“Don’t talk Baby,” Xavier shushes his wife with an unintended pun, “you need to rest.” He orders, his gaze still set on the light stitches in her hand. “You’ve lost a lot of blood.” He tells her, making the incident sound more serious than what it is. If anything, it sounds as if Emma was just attacked by a shark or something.

“I’m fine, Xav.” Emma smiles up at her husband all too lovingly, his hand on her lap. I can’t picture either of them with someone else. It would just be weird. They’re destined to be with each other - ex racing partners and all.

“What did I just say about talking?” Xavier shakes his head at his wife, “Stand down Babe. Save your energy. Channel it into silence.” He demands, being bossy so that he can care for her. Gross.

Emma frowns, protesting, “But-“

Xavier places his finger upon her lips, stopping her from talking any further, “Sssshh.” He whispers, quieting her down.

I roll my eyes at Xavier’s paranoid side. He really does love Emma. It’s just a matter of time before we’re all sitting in a hospital for them and their new little one on the way.

“It’s just a cut.” Sarah says, voicing what we’re all thinking. She may be quiet, but she’s still courageous and blunt. She’s a good fit for Landon. She seems to be able to keep him in check. They’re compatible.

Exactly.” Nancy exclaims in exasperation, “I keep telling him that.” Nancy retorts in a condescending manner whilst she shakes her head at Xavier.

“I wouldn’t expect you to understand, Aqueela.” Xavier retorts, forcing his insult onto me for no reason whatsoever. He meets my perplexed gaze and grins deviously, “You’re a cold, heartless person.” He teases, his dark eyes simmering in amusement.

That’s something. I’ve never been accused of being heartless before.

Feigning horror, I throw my hands up in the air, “What the hell did I do? I didn’t even say anything.” I defend myself against his ruthless attacks. Some people still hold resentment toward me for leaving Jay behind. I’m just glad that Xavier is not one of those people. His wife, on the other hand, seems to be a bit off with me.

“And that’s the way we all prefer things.” Blubber grins, referring to me not ever saying anything.

I glare at them (Xavier and Blubber), but Ryan is quick to address the situation, “If anything, I feel sorry for the poor sap…” Ryan trails off in thought, actually taking his eyes of his cellphone screen for once, “I forgot the idiot’s name.” He concludes, “Anyway, I feel for the sap that got Bella pregnant. Worst slip up a guy can make - getting his girlfriend pregnant.”

Nancy scrunches up her face as a result, unimpressed by his statement. “Ryan…” She trails off in uncertainty, embarrassed by him and his impulsive words. It seems she won’t be having any babies of her own for a long time coming. Sarah and her have more in common than they realize - stubborn boyfriends.

I have no idea why Nancy is even with this jerk. I mean, Grey’s a jerk, but Ryan is on a whole other level. He’s in a different league. He’s the extreme. He’s like some supernova jerk. How on the face of this entire earth, was sweet Sarah - of all people - ever into him? The links in these friendships…small world.

“Max.” I say loudly, glowering at Ryan. I see his confusion and explain, “His name is Max - the ‘poor sap’ who got Bells pregnant.” I correct Ryan sharply, sending him a glare for being so insensitive and inconsiderate. Max is one of my best friends, ain’t no one going to say bad about him when I’m in the room. I’ll always defend him.

Sarah nods, choosing to back me up. Landon notices his girlfriend’s anger and carefully, yet subtly, takes her hand into his own in order to soothe her apparent irritation. I guess she’s still not the biggest fan of her ex, not that anyone is. How does Ryan even have any friends?! I just don’t see it.

Ryan’s blue eyes meet mine in surprise. He hadn’t been expecting anyone to stand up to him. He’s quick to mask his shock with a smirk, “Who the hell even cares?” He takes the liberty to push me a step further. He’s crossing all boundaries now.

His blue twinkling eyes reminds me of Jay. With a pang in my chest, I try to block Jay out before I get stuck on thinking about him and my resurfacing feelings after that kiss. He didn’t get time to confront me and I didn’t get time to explain, or even just talk to him.

“Everyone in this room.” I answer Ryan as I motion to all of us, “Except you.” I blatantly point out the facts. The rest of us - most, okay some - being Max’s friends, care.

“I don’t like you.” Susie tells Ryan straight forwardly. “I don’t like Max as is, but you’re just the devil.” She informs him, not bothering to sugarcoat any of it. If she is defending Max (of all people), then she must really hate Ryan.

“‘MaxMan’ is my hero, after ‘Cool Guy Jay’ that is.” Blubber pipes in, Simo and Dylan nodding in agreement - the two of them having always been fond of Max as well.

“BroJay is a legend, BroMax is average because he knocked up my older sister!” Troy interrupts rudely as he skates past us on his bright pink roller blades. He’s been skating in the hospital for at least an hour now. After he woke up from fainting, his mother (who happens to be in the hospital room with Bells and Max right now) brought his roller blades to calm him down. Just as racing is Jay’s escape, so is roller skating Troy’s. I don’t get how his family puts up with him, I really don’t. Some mysteries in life will just never be solved.

Ryan ignores them and turns his attention onto Susie, a daunting grin on his face, “Dry your eyes Princess. For all I care, Max can get wrecked. As for you, I will crush you and shatter your world.” He says insistently, no trace of humor in his tone.

Benley raises an eyebrow at Ryan in shock, “You do realize that she’s like twenty years younger than you, right?” Benley definitely does not condone the way Ryan is speaking to a child. Benley MacAllister, always ‘Mr Responsible’.

“All the more reason to fight back, where’s the respect for elders gone?” Ryan criticizes as if Susie is the one in the wrong. “Where’s the respect in general gone?” He asks aloud, seeking people to side with him.

I cross my arms over my chest, giving him a flat stare, “You tell us.” Today is not the day to piss me off. I’m angry and upset as is. Ryan is just begging to be punched in the face and I’m very close to granting him his wish.

Ryan, unfazed, merely grins at me in response like the sleazeball he is, “I never pegged you for the feisty type.” He states as if interested. “You just seem like a good girl, with those big innocent eyes and the happy-go-lucky smile.” He mocks obnoxiously, knowing that he’s getting under my skin. “Guess I assumed wrong.”

What is up with him and Dean saying such such things? Them and their preconceived ideas. I’m not innocent, I’m a damn badass! I make onions cry. As if to prove my point, I throw an accusing finger in Ryan’s face, “You’ve just made the top of my ‘worst people to ever exist’ list.” I hate being called a ‘goody goody’. I am anything but. I’m just me. Labels are for losers, hence why Ryan uses them. He wouldn’t be so bad if he fundamentally changed everything about himself.

He smirks as if enjoying annoying everyone, “Lucky me.”

Ryan’s goal seems to be to get a rise out of everyone. He needs to shut his damn mouth before someone shuts it for him.

“Knock it off Ry.” Nancy hits her boyfriend against his chest.

“Yeah RyRy.” I grin tauntingly at the arrogant son of a gun before me. He is so rude. That’s saying a lot because generally, I’m the one classified as rude among us all.

I grin in victory when Ryan’s face falls in defeat at the corny nickname.

“You and your nicknames.” Benley chuckles, amused by the situation. He knows I will always defend the people I love…and Blubber. Can’t leave Blubber out.

“Mine was the best,” Dylan partakes in the conversation, “‘sexy hot manager dude’.” He informs everyone and I find myself astounded that he still recalls that. “On the first day we met, she told me that she loved me.” Dylan laughs as he dwells back on the days in the past. I’ve had my fair share of lousy memories with him. He was my first date - however, I like to pretend that Jay was.

“No way! That’s rich.” Benley bursts out laughing, unaware of the fact. Benley’s only ever seen my cool side. Today, that side is the only side of me that exists.

Simo and Blubber can too recall those days. They were both there from the start as well. We had good times back then.

“Seriously?” Xavier asks before getting all excited, “This is amazing! Finally, some dirt on Aqueela.” He smirks in satisfaction.

Yup, never going to live this down.

I shake my head as I think back to how awkward I used to be, “Man, I was such a loser.” I state casually.

“Still are, Kitten.” Xavier remarks playfully, Emma even cracking a small smile in response.

Troy skates past yet again, and makes a point of stopping, but brakes too soon and ends up face planting. He’s quick to recover, jumping back up to his feet in no time, “Nailed it!” He grins as if he meant to do that.

At least I can’t ever be as bad as him…

I nod, used to his performances of falling and failing, “Great form.” I lie for his sake. He could do with some cheering up lies - everyone needs them once in a while.

Troy takes a bow in pride before he meets my gaze, concern evident in his turquoise eyes, “Do you think my sister’s alright?” He asks, his rare vulnerable side coming up to the surface. “She’s been in there a while.” He points out the depressing facts. I’m worried too. Bells is my best friend and so is Max. They’re both like family to me.

I stand up and offer Troy a hug, sensing that he’s currently not in a good place. He’s beyond worked up and he’s trying to block out his fretting through skating. “I don’t know.” I answer him truthfully, “But don’t worry, she’s in good hands.” I try to offer him some hope. There’s no need to be anxious just yet. The procedure might have just been delayed. Then again, that could just be my optimistic side speaking.

“I’m a nurse. I’ll go check.” Nancy shoots Troy a reassuring smile before getting up and doing exactly that. She’s mean, but helpful when necessary. She’s never exactly been a fan of Bells, or me. Technically, Mason was kind of an ass back then so her reasoning is invalid.

In the meantime, Grey and Dean pitch up to show their support. Their presence - especially Grey’s - takes us all by surprise. Dean apparently adores babies. I never had him down as the children type. It’s a nice trait to have. There was a time when I was like Landon, but I have changed my perspective on kids since then - since about the time I started dating Jay. He managed to unintentionally change a lot of my old opinions and past horrific outlooks.

“Let me tell you, I was definitely not expecting him to kiss you,” is the first thing Grey says upon entering the waiting room, his eyes firmly set upon me.

He just had to say that aloud…

“What?!” AJ exclaims in surprise before she turns to me for an explanation, her usual enthusiastic expression on her face, “You didn’t mention that.” She reminds me, knowing fully well that Grey is talking about Jay.

I tap my chin in mock thought, “Didn’t I?” I question sheepishly. “How unfortunate.” I didn’t mention it because I didn’t want that little piece of information up for group discussion. I wanted to keep it all on the down low. Damn you Grey! He outed me, unsurprisingly.

“I called that!” Dean smirks in satisfaction as his eyes meet mine, “Knew you two had a fling.”

I sigh and avert my gaze from all of them, choosing to watch Troy skate past nurses and what not instead. It’s a miracle he hasn’t been kicked out the hospital yet.

“It wasn’t a fling.” Benley corrects him, “The two of them were pretty serious about each other.” He updates Dean seeing as Dean is lacking in information in most areas. Dean needs the blanks to be filled for him. He’s stupid, but not ‘Troy Level Stupid’, just normal stupid.

“Oh.” Dean says glumly before sending me an apologetic expression for his own presumptions. “Sorry ‘Bambi Eyes’.” He’s been rotating between calling me ‘Furby’ and ‘Bambi’. It’s very irritating, but he’s persistent.

“It’s Aqueela.” I correct Dean for the billionth time just today.

Dean shrugs, brushing it off, “Doesn’t matter. Won’t come up again, Furby.”

My name won’t come up again?!

I let it go before I let my fist go in his face.

“I, for one, am glad that he’s back. I always liked him.” Susie, being the cutie she is, breaks all tension in the room. She chooses to tear ’way from the kiss topic, focusing more on Jay himself. I appreciate her obvious effort for saving me from the mild embarrassment and discomfort. Blubber, however, just chooses to rotate and go straight back to the embarrassing part.

“So was it good?” Blubber asks, wagging his eyebrows at me in mischief, “The kiss, was it as fantastic as you remembered?” He questions, just as intrigued as the others. I sometimes wonder why I am friends with him, with a lot of these people actually. The biggest mystery would have to be Simo - literally.

“Shut up Porkchop.” I mutter as the rest of them all fall into fits of laughter at my misfortune - the exception being Grey, of course. Grey tends to find nothing humorous, ever. On the up side, it opens the floor to less mocking laughter on his part.

Simo grins whilst pointing at Blubber in entertainment, “My son is Porkchop. He so funny.” Blubber releases a low growl upon being called Simo’s son yet again. It seems I have returned back home just in time. There’s a lot of fixing up to do ’round these here parts.

“You know what they say, if you love someone, set them free.” Grey says, making me question where thee famous unamused Grey stumbled off to. He adds, “In Jay’s scenario, if they come back to you, it means no one else loved them - which in that case, set the Aqueelas of the world free again.”

I clap my hands, faking a laugh as I glare at him, “Hardy ha ha.” I say sarcastically, unfazed by his mean joke. Him and Ryan are one in the same. Nancy seems to have a thing for jerks.

Grey follows his joke by telling me that Jay’s at home resting. Jay opted out of coming when Dean asked him. It seems Dean has already taken a liking to him. I’m not surprised. Jay seems to have that effect on everyone. He’s virtually loved by all.

After our conversation reaches a lull, we all decide to play a game of ‘Village Idiot’ whilst waiting - Susie’s idea (apparently she used to play it with her brother all the time). I can’t help but sense that Susie misses her brother. I’ll have to invite Mas and Laiken to visit soon.

The aim of the game is to lose all your cards. The first person to get rid of all their cards is Village King and the next, Village Queen, and so on. It’s the people left in the game who stand a chance of being Village Idiot. Obviously, the village idiot is the loser of the game.

“I hate this game.” Grey complains in spite of being decreed as Village King. He’s already won and he’s still not satisfied.

“I love it!” Troy insists, him being decreed as Village Queen - the second player to lose all his/her cards. You’d think he’d be unhappy with his title, yet he’s parading around here like a toddler in a tiara. He’s acting like an ass. “I’m the best in this!” He boasts, still unaware that Grey is in actual fact the best…well in this game anyway. Otherwise, Grey’s the worst. Troy places more value on a queen rather than a king. I’m not complaining, especially if he’s all up for the feminist movement etcetera. I’ll allow it.

Everyone seems to be stepping out of the card game with their respected titles, a victory in itself, whilst the rest of us losers are left playing to see who will be the village idiot.

In the end, I am claimed Village Idiot. Of course, they all mock me for it. Vice Village Idiot is AJ. Sub-Vice Village idiot is Blubber. Grey, as King, proceeds by ordering everyone beneath him to throw paper balls at us for being the group of idiots.

“Quit it.” AJ pouts, which in turn results in all three of us being attacked further. “Just because I’m Vice Village Idiot. It’s not fair! We shouldn’t have to be subjected to this kind of torture!” AJ yells as us village idiots take cover behind a couch, the hospital tiles now scattered in paper balls.

It’s then Nancy returns to the room. We all drop everything and act normal. She glances from all of us to the mess littered on the floor. She blinks as she comes to register it, then asking in a very quiet tone of voice, “What is wrong with you people? No seriously, what is it? I just can’t seem to figure it out.” She breathes out in pure concern, genuinely curious to know, exasperated with trying to figure us out. It’s not as if any of us have the answers either. “You’re all grown ups in a hospital for goodness sake. Act like it.” She’s such a joykill - always has to be mature. Boring!

Ryan shrugs absentmindedly, “Tried to tell them.”

My mouth falls agape at this as I point an accusing finger at him, “Liar!” Ryan played with and he was labelled as Prince of the village. Grey, on the other hand, ducks his head in shame - silently hoping that she doesn’t spot him.

“Even you Grey?” Nancy notices Grey easily, shocked to see him playing as well. It’s not usually his style.

“Lawson’s influence.” He mutters sheepishly, glancing away from her piercing stare as he blames me. I’m his apparent scapegoat for everything. I’ve accepted it.

Nancy ignores him and turns to Troy and me instead, “I tried to get information and access into Bell’s current room. Everything, for some reason, is taking longer than expected. I wasn’t permitted access. Apparently, they’re still busy with her.” Nancy informs us, my shoulders sagging in disappointment at the news. Troy and I are both tense and anxious as is. We want to know if Bells and her baby are okay. “I’m going to go see someone else to try and make a plan.” Nancy says before sauntering off. She’s a lot nicer when she’s on the clock. If only she could work all the time…

As soon as Nancy is out the room, Ryan is the first to shout at the top of his lungs in excitement as if he just could not care any less, “Who’s up for round two?!”

We all cheer, clap and chorus in unison.

“Heard that!” Nancy calls over shoulder as she crosses down the passages of the hospital. Grey groans, not pleased that she caught him in the act yet again.

When we play a second time, us villages idiots team up. We send all our crappy cards Ryan’s way. We use Benley as our middleman. Benley passes the message on as he hands Ryan the bad stack of cards. Ryan raises a perplexed brow, confused.

I cough aloud when Benley doesn’t say his piece that we - okay, I - agreed on. AJ, Blubber and myself all clear our throats simultaneously at Benley’s unexpected silence. Benley catches the hint. He rolls his eyes at us and sighs before turning back to Ryan, “It’s a gift from all the village idiots. May thee enjoy.” Benley grumbles, unwilling to cooperate with us. He refused to be middleman, but we forced him into it - well AJ did. He usually prefers to be excluded from such significant matters. He prefers to waste his time on trivial matters such as democracy and other stupid, unimportant stuff.

Ryan glances our way to see us three village idiots innocently smiling and waving at him. We’re playing it off cool. “Just a gift to our prince from us fellow village idiots.” AJ grins sheepishly, hoping to not come off as suspicious. “Please accept the gift we have presented thee with.” She says sweetly, “It’s the least we can do as your low, humble servants.” AJ insists, trying to sell it as best she can.

“Actually,” Landon starts, “you’re all below servants. Xavier and I are the servants.” He winces when he sees AJ pout in dismay (he has a weakness for upset girls), “Sorry.” He apologizes, not very talented at being nice, “Just saying. You’re measly lowlifes.” He concludes as if what he said is not at all offensive. Xavier snickers in delight at Landon’s unintentional rudeness. Lan has a difficult time in being kind. He’s just not good at it.

Ryan flips over the cards, only to see that they’re all rubbish cards that will ultimately cost him the game. He will be the next village idiot if he is to keep them. Ryan scowls at us as he throws the cards back to us in distaste, rudely declining and rejecting our wholesome gift. As a result, we persistent village idiots just make Benely offer them up again and again. Ryan flays the cards back again and again, and so the cycle goes on until Ryan finally loses it completely and explodes on us, “Not accepted! Denied! I don’t want your lousy gifts! It’s rubbish! It’s garbage!” He shouts in anger, irritated.

Well someone is overly competitive and tad bit on the grouchy side…

“Where is my cards and gift of garbage and rubbish?!” Troy, insanely jealous, questions in a rage worse than Ryan’s. “As your queen, I demand for a deck of garbage from the village idiots right this instant!”

“Request denied.” Grey, the king, puts the stupid queen in her place. Grey just wants me to lose again, hence saving Troy from lousy cards. It’s the first time Grey has ever done something remotely nice for Troy Story.

We all ignore Troy’s continuous and incessant blabbering. Instead, us village idiots pass on our rubbish cards to Simo. Simo is flattered and immediately accepts the deck of crappy cards, “Simo is thanking you.” He smiles at us in gratitude, genuine. He has no idea…

Grey throws Simo in a dungeon to starve as a result of him accepting our gift. Grey’s insistent on me losing again. He’s not tolerating our strategies.

“And where is your queen’s gift?” Troy frowns, not pleased that we haven’t given him all our sucky cards too. “I demand that the village idiots’ heads be cut off instantly, tomorrow.” The looney tune does not realize the definition of ‘instant’. “I’m placing a decree on their heads.” He passes down a command to his soldiers.

Sarah’s face drops, “Can he do that? Is he allowed to do that?” She asks worriedly, taking the game seriously as she turns to the king for confirmation, “Can the queen really behead the poor village idiots?” Even in a game, she’s a sweetheart. “I mean, they didn’t even do anything. They’re innocent. This should not be allowed. They should not be reported for death on no accounts. We should be fighting for equality in this land. We are no greater than a village idiot-“

“Yes we are!” Xavier grins, thoroughly enjoying our soon to be executions.

“Request accepted.” Grey grins feverishly at Troy and then to us, “I’ll allow it.” He confirms our execution, choosing to kill us off.

Sarah, the princess, gasps in terror. Troy merely grins at her in victory, flashing her a cunning, calculating wink. The power has gone to his head.

“Thank you my king, dearest to my heart, and other places.” Troy bats his eyes at Grey appreciatively, taking his role as queen more seriously than Sarah does her role. If this were real, we’d all be doomed. Humanity would die.

Grey recoils back in disgust, “Please refrain from talking to me, or breathing.” Grey changes his mind before turning to his head soldier - Emma, “Behead this fool.” He orders as he points to Troy, “Send him to the guillotine or the gallows. The choice is yours.”

“Yes Sir.” Emma salutes him as she makes her way over to Troy.

I can’t quite place my finger on when this stopped being a card game and started being a role play game…

“Emma, you have to keep quiet. I’m serious.” Xavier commands, still on the minor injury his wife had sustained earlier on.

“I only said two words.” Emma argues, now thoroughly annoyed with her husband.

“Two words that could have taken your life.” He debates. Emma chooses to shut up, just so that Xavier can shut up too. He’s driving her crazy with his over-protective side. The rest of us couldn’t care less about their couple issues. We have more important tasks ahead of us, like survival.

AJ and I, with our fists raised to the air/ceiling, begin chanting in unison repeatedly, “Kill the queen! Kill the queen!” We protest on - Simo (from the dungeon) and Blubber joining in too. Ryan rolls his eyes at us, shaking his head at our childishness.

“So it be done.” Grey grins in satisfaction. He seems to enjoy killing people. Emma pretends to slice Troy’s head off his broad shoulders as a result.

“Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” Troy falls to his knees in alarm and devastation as he begins to weep - legit full on crying. He continues on pleading in spite of already being dead. “I beg you, my king, to reconsider. Do not end my valuable, viable life. Just think of all the intimate nights we’ve shared togeth-“

“No seriously, what is it with you people? What the hell is wrong with all of you?!” Nancy interrupts after having first secretly watched us for a few minutes. “Unbelievable.” She scoffs in turn. She needs to learn to hang ten every once in a while. She is no fun. Her nickname can be ‘Nancy the Non-fun’ person.

Grey visibly pales under her gaze, humiliated.

“I don’t even know anymore.” Benley answers Nancy in a dejected tone before dropping his head in his hands, pretending to be in shambles because of his utter humiliation at being caught playing a child’s game. He’s suppose to be way too cool for such things. “I can’t recall how it got to this.” He explains, a bland expression on his face. “I don’t know when my life reverted backwards.” He exclaims, dramatic as ever.

Nancy, upon hearing mopey noises, turns to Troy in disbelief, “Are you seriously crying right now?”

“No!” He shouts back to her through a mouthful of salty tears, his eyes watering. “All I wanted was a gift of garbage from my subjects!” He whines on in protest.

Blubber snickers scornfully at seeing Troy break down. I know for a fact that Troy is just worried about his little sister. Susie swats Blubber seeing as she’s a big Troy fan. It’s Max and Ryan she can’t stand to be in the same room with. She tends to stand up for Troy out of pity. He lacks brains and thus gathers fans through unintentionally exploiting his own weaknesses.

Nancy shakes her head at Troy, her mean side coming back in full force, “Oh boo-hoo.” She mocks him, unfazed by his tears. “Get over it.”

Ryan merely grins at Troy as if enjoying seeing him cry, “Dry your eyes Princess.” He uses the same line he’d used on Susie earlier.

“I’m the queen you big idiot!” Troy objects, yelling at him in frustration. I think his sister’s condition is seriously affecting him. He’s getting emotional. “This is an outrage! Appalling! I am angry! Very angry!” Troy emphasizes the ‘angry’ part.

Woah. Relax.” Ryan steps back from him in fear with his hands placed up in self-defense. Troy’s a loose cannon, he might just attack, and Ryan knows it.

“Actually, we’re the idiots.” AJ pipes up, gesturing from herself to Blubber and me, “Not Ryan.” She corrects Troy, clearing it up for everyone.

“Don’t advertise it!” Blubber snaps at her, ashamed to be Sub-Vice Village Idiot.

It’s then that Landon gets a call. After exchanging a few words, he hangs up and makes a move to the exit. He sees all of our questioning looks and explains, “Dean’s in jail. He got himself arrested. He’s currently being detained.”

“When did Dean even leave the room?” Dylan asks, voicing what we’re all currently thinking. Hell, I’d forgotten that Dylan was in the room too.

“I have to go bail him out.” Landon sighs, “He locked himself out his own car again and so broke his car window. The police thought he was trying to jack a car. I gotta go.” He says, before escaping the waiting room.

Again?

“I’ll go with you!” Sarah raises her voice slightly before hurrying after her boyfriend, seizing the opportunity to leave the damn waiting room too.

It’s just not the same when we’re not all here…

I’ve come to realize that we all have our roles to play, not in the card game, but in the game of life:

Xavier is the cocky rich one, but also the fun loving one. Ryan’s the arrogant dipwad - full stop. That’s all I can say about him. Troy’s the idiot and the most feminine of us all (girls included). Sarah’s the down-to-earth, compassionate one. Landon’s the temperamental one. Benley’s the self-proclaimed cool one. Dylan’s the only sane one. Simo has the biggest smile - he’s the joy of the group. Blubber’s the most disliked and most perverted. Susie is the cutest hands down. Emma’s the sweet badass. Grey’s the mean badass. I’m the legend, for lack of a better word. Dean’s the dumb, rebellious flirt. Nancy is the mysterious one. Bells is the fashionable goody goody. Max is the super smart, abnormal goofball. AJ is the hyper, over energetic one. She’s flamboyant tin the best way possible.

As for Jay…he’s the heart of it all. He’s the root of it all. Without Jay, I would have never had the courage to put myself out there and meet all these lovable, amazing people in the first place. I owe him everything, but if we’re giving everyone labels, Jay might as well be the famous one. He’s a racing celebrity now.

Each one of us ties in with the other. We’re all valuable - except Ryan. We’re a tight knit family. That’s what we are. We’re just missing a few memorable members. I’ll find a way to round us all up eventually - old and new. It’s possible.

“Yeah, but it’s 8000 meters below surface. The hydrostatic pressure is so severe, it’s equivalent to a person trying to support 37 jumbo jets on one’s shoulders.” Grey tells Emma, the two of them talking about complex stuff as always. I admire their friendship. It’s just so real and genuine. Meanwhile, Dylan and Benley are discussing how Bex is a monstrous, flesh devouring parasite.

“Get out of here!” Troy claps his hands in excitement, dried tears stained on his face as he sizes Grey’s convo up, “I can totally do that.” He assures Grey and Emma, dead serious in his words. He’s not comprehending a thing of what they’re saying.

Grey exchanges a look with Emma before giving Troy a flat stare as a result of Troy’s own pride, “You’re a moron.” Grey drops casually as if he didn’t just fire a shot to Troy’s ego.

“Well…” Troy panics, hesitating as he searches for something to say back, “you’re a palooka, oompa loompa.” Troy insults him back - well makes a futile attempt in doing so. “And you’re…pudgy. You look like an elf and you have gnome ears.” He then bursts out laughing at his own joke, “Classic.” He wipes away a stray tear.

Grey doesn’t bother to even dignify him with a response.

“Anyway,” Nancy draws me aside quietly, “Max is waiting outside. He wants to talk to you in private.” She informs me.

I nod at her, quickly dashing out the waiting room. I spot Max and sprint straight up to him. “Aqueela, get over here!” Max encourages, “Come here, come here for a bit.” He gestures me over in spite of me being right by him. I can’t get any closer.

Perplexed, I motion to me standing directly in front of him, “I’m literally right here.”

“Yeah whatever, you’re good right there.” He brushes it aside, changing the subject, “Now let’s take a walk. Step into my office.”

“You don’t have an office Max and I don’t work for you.” I remind him of the facts that he’s seems to have forgotten.

“You look nice, as per always.” He compliments me out of the blue.

I raise a prodding brow at him, “I hope you’re not just saying that as an ulterior motive in order to get what you want-“

He cuts me off quickly, “Yeah yeah yeah, so listen, I need a favor.”

I knew it!

“Bell’s mother kind of despises me for getting Bell’s pregnant. She uses her wit to relish in insulting me. When you have time or see an open gap, squeeze in and tell her the truth - in other words, tell her how awesome I am.” Max pleads, “I know you’re close with her. Ever since Bells told her that you’re back in town, she hasn’t shut up about you. Bell’s mother seems to love you as much as she loves her own daughter - a hell of a lot.”

I think over it whilst Max gives me the puppy eyes, “Fine.” I reluctantly agree, seeing just how much this means to him. How can I say no to that face?

Max is the father of Bell’s unborn child, of course he wants Bell’s mom to have an impressionable view on him. He wants her to change her mind on him and see him for the true cheesehead he is. Love him or hate him, Max sure is one funny son of a b*tch. However, Bell’s mom could be Max’s mother-in-law someday. It’s vital he makes right with her now. A mother-in-law can be a slippery slope to climb. A mother-in-law will slowly ebb away at your soul if she doesn’t approve of you. I don’t want Max to lose his soul; Troy’s already lost his brains - then again, one can’t lose what they never had.

“Thank you.” Max blows out a breath of relief, “I’m side-barring you because I need to tell you something. The others can’t know just yet.” Max sucks in a deep breath before coming out with it, “Bells is having a triplet. That’s why we’re taking so long. She’s exhausted.” He explains, seemingly tired himself. His hand is blue. I’m assuming Bells cut off his blood circulation with the death grip she had on his hand during the birth. “She even tried fighting the doctors, kept saying that today is not the day. They had to hold her down. Not to worry though, she’s fine.”

This makes so much more sense now. Now wonder Bells was much more enormous than the average pregnant woman.

“What?!” I sputter out in excitement, “That’s flippen amazing!” I gush in pure joy, happy for Max and Bells. Forget one child, they’re having three. I jump up and down, clapping my hands as I release a screech of enthusiasm, “So the genders are-“

Max clamps a hand down over my mouth, “Keep it down. You can’t tell anyone just yet. Bells wants to be the one to reveal it. I just had to tell someone, it was killing me to not say anything to anyone. Bells will slaughter me if she finds out that I announced it without her by my side.”

I wave the matter off, “Don’t worry, I’ll lie straight to their faces if they ask any questions. My lips are sealed. I won’t tell any of them anything. Those idiots won’t know what hit them.” I reassure Max, being the loyal friend that I sometimes, very rarely, choose to be.

A knocking on the transparent glass behind us diverts our attention to Grey, “Hey idiots, this isn’t one-way glass. We - ‘those idiots’ as you claim - can all hear and see you two.” He motions back to everyone else listening and watching us intently from inside the waiting room.

“Congratulations!” AJ shouts out to Max, giddy and upbeat as always. I don’t get how she stays so energetic and positive all the time. It astounds me.

“Three? Strong swimmers you have there buddy!” Ryan mocks Max, a teasing gleam to his blue eyes as he once again forgets Max’s name.

Max ignores them completely as he turns back to me with a look of warning plastered in his eyes, “Remember what I said, tell no one.” He demands before waltzing off, not even allowing me to have my say.

I slap my forehead at his stupidity. “But Max…” I trail off pathetically as he disappears from view. Does he not get that everyone knows now, or is he trying to mislead Bells and pin this all on me? Everyone in the waiting room heard us. The secret is officially out. How does he not get that? He’s definitely going to pin this on me.

Granted, Max has his dumb moments - like when he told me that he broke up with Bells after she told him that they weren’t going to be together anymore and that she was moving all the way to Rome. If anything, he was the one that got dumped. Bells broke up with him, not the other way around. But I’ll let him have it, as did Bells.

“How do you think they’re all three going to look?” Blubber asks aloud to nobody in particular.

“As a former baby myself, I’d have to say like a baby.” I smile to myself as I step back in to the room. Three is always better than one. “Babies usually tend to look a lot like babies.” I inform young, ignorant Blubs. “Birth control Blubber.” I wink at him before he decides to get any ideas. Babies can come across as very appealing to the untrained eye.

“Makes sense if you think logically about it.” Troy nods to my answer, agreeing with me for once. “Babies should look a lot like babies, miniature humans.”

He’s so stupid. I pity him.

Bell’s mom, upon Max’s request, comes to find me, “Hi there Darling Aqueela.” She greets me before she engulfs me in a firm embrace. “I’m so glad to have you back in Bell’s life. You’re a good friend to her. You’re my second daughter, always will be.”

I smile up at her (tallness runs in the family genes), “Thanks Bell’s mom.” I say in gratitude. I’ve always seen her as the closest person to a mother. I absolutely adore Bell’s entire family, especially her mom. Her dad isn’t always around. He travels a lot. Troy is my least favorite, obviously.

“It’s Jennie or Mrs J to you.” She laughs, “We’ve been over this so many times before.” It’s then I try talk Max up, but she seems disinterested. She cannot stand him, but at least she prefers him to Mason. I now see where Bell’s gets her feisty side from. “Enough about that doofus that knocked up my daughter, the reason I sought after you is because Bells wants you and Troy to enter the room first.”

“Really?” I question in surprise, flattered. Even after I ditched her for five years, Bells still insists on me coming in with her brother to see her babies.

Mrs J nods as she grabs hold of my hand, “Come along then.” She persuades me before calling to her son to come look at his nieces and/or nephews. Troy follows eagerly, Blubber also following for some reason beyond me. I think Blubber thinks that she was saying ‘come along then’ to him. He’d been standing right beside me when she said it.

Troy, Blubber and I enter quietly. I tiptoe to Bells bedside. The first thing Troy and I do upon seeing her, is hug the last remaining life out of her. We’re both relieved to see that she’s fine. Even after having three babies, she still manages to look like some supermodel strutting her stuff as if she just stepped off the runway. Although, her expression and tired eyes say that she’s deadbeat.

“Hey you two.” Bells grins up at us weakly, clearly exhausted. She frowns in confusion when she sees Blubber, “and hey to you?”

Before Blubber can say anything on his part, she passes out.

“She’s not dead, right Mom?” Troy asks wearily, his gaze cast on his sister. Mrs J just rolls her eyes at her son, used to his stupidity.

“Over here.” Max motions us over. He cradles one baby himself before handing another to an all too eager Troy. “Don’t drop her.” Max warns, narrowing his eyes at Troy. Daddy Max is sure protective. “Be careful.”

Troy glances down at the baby in his arms, “Is it suppose to look like this?” He asks, clueless, as he gently pokes her forehead, “It looks like a little alien.” He comments, ignorant as ever.

Blubber, standing beside Troy, nods in agreement, “They’re so weird looking.” He says as he takes in all three gurgling babies. I’m surprised Blubber is being so receptive to this. I hadn’t been anticipating his reaction to a baby to be so laid-back, especially not at his age. Maybe Blubber has one good quality in him after all.

“They look like little Tweenies crossed between Teletubbies and Care Bears.” Troy chuckles just as Max hands over the baby in his arms to Blubber.

I am more than shocked to see Blubber cradle the little girl to his spongy chest. He’s so gentle and sweet, it’s fascinating. I didn’t realize that Blubber had a soul. I’m moved by his tenderness with the little ones. At eighteen, kids freaked me out. Blubber being good with children is an admirable trait to have. I envy him.

I almost laugh at the irony. Two of the three children are female. Max will have to deal with two little girls of his own. The next coming years should be interesting, especially the teenage years.

I back away when Max tries to offer me the last of the three babies. Mrs J tries to coax me into holding the little one, but I’m not having it. A part of me wants to hold the child, but the other part of me is terrified. I haven’t exactly had the easiest upbringing. Just thinking about ever having a child is scary for me, even holding one that isn’t mine. I’m petrified that I’ll fail as a parent.

Max grins down at me as he places a hand on my shoulder, “You can do this.” He reassures me, sensing where my apprehension is coming from.

I suck in a deep breath before taking the baby from his hands. I glance down at the little boy, only to find the cutie with pudgy cheeks staring right up at me with wide, innocent eyes. A faint, unintentional smile traces my lips at the sight of new life. It only lasts a second before a bull blown smile covers my face. I have no idea why I was so afraid. This baby is adorable. “‘Aqueela the Great the Second’ is finally here.” I state absentmindedly, Max shaking his head all the while me saying it.

“See.” Max smirks at me, “Told you that you can do it.”

Mrs J takes photos. She is overjoyed to be a grandmummie in spite of it being sooner than she expected. She pushes Max aside to get pictures of me and Troy holding her grandchildren. She really isn’t a fan of Max. Poor Maxi-pad.

I hug the baby to my chest, instantly growing attached, “You shall be my baby and I shall call you ‘Aqueela the Great the Second’.” I whisper in all seriousness. I don’t care if he’s a boy, he’s just been named the greatest name of all time.

“You realize that you don’t get to name him, right?” Max queries as if to make sure that I am in fact aware. When I don’t answer, he begins to grow concerned. He tries to snatch the little soul away from me, but I dodge him, keeping the baby safe in my arms.

“I’m sorry Max, but the bond we now have is unbreakable. It’s real - legit.” I inform him, “He’s mine now and I refuse to give him up. I’m never letting go of this baby, not ever.” I tell him sternly, intent on keeping the little one.

“Don’t sass me girl. You’ve only been holding him for two minutes and you already want to babynap him from us. That’s unsettling.” Max reminds me, pointing out the facts as he finally takes his child away from me.

I glower up at Max, now on the defense, “I’ll never love again.” I say adamantly, choosing to be over the top about his betrayal.

“That’s a little dramatic, don’t you think?” Max grins as if finding me amusing. I glare up at him, unimpressed. His smile fades, “Okay fine, your reaction is completely reasonable.” He corrects his initial mistake, being sarcastic in the process. He just trying to get back on my good side.

Time seems to fly after that…

I return back to the waiting room in order to fetch Benley - only to find him fast asleep on the floor, face down. AJ tries to wake him up for me, but he’s persistent on sleeping. He’s being difficult - so, I take hold of his ankles and begin dragging him away, along with the help of Simo.

Benley’s eyes flash open, when he feels himself moving against his will, revealing the irritation embedded in his expression in the process, “Leave me ’lone.” He mutters, half asleep, as we continue to pull him along by his ankles.

“Get up from the floor Mr Lagger Dragger.” I order bossily. He really is lagging today. I don’t blame him. We’ve been stuck in the same room for the entire day. He’s been drained from all his previous energy. If anything, he sure doesn’t seem very cool round about now.

“No.” He mumbles against the tiles, stubborn as ever. He’s not even bothering to put up a struggle. He’s not even trying to escape. He’s just allowing himself to be dragged around the hospital floors. “The floor is my only friend.” He yawns to himself, refusing to awaken completely.

“Please Benley.” I resort to a pitiful thing called manners - a very desperate move for me. “Please get up.” I beg, “You’re so heavy.” I say through heavy breathing. It’s quite a work out. I wouldn’t have been able to move him if it were just me. Thank goodness for Simo!

It’s then Benley starts a tantrum, very much like a two year old, as he begins pounding the floor with his fists, “No! I don’t wanna!” He complains in a high-pitched tone of voice. This kind of behavior from him makes me question where ‘Mr Responsible’ has one to. I think he died, just now.

“He gets like this when he’s tired.” AJ states when she sees me glancing to her for some form of an explanation as to what is happening right now. It makes sense. This is the first time, come to think of it, that I’ve seen him beyond exhausted.

I send her a thankful smile before glancing back down at Benley, “I’d wake up if I were you BoyBand.” I warn him, “I’m about to drag you through a pool of blood.” I inform him calmly, waiting for his reaction. I already know what to expect.

“Aqueela!” He shouts in alarm as he now tries to spring back up to his feet. Simo doesn’t allow it and continues to yank him all over the place by his ankles. Benley is puny and weak in comparison to the large Asian man. Benley stretches out his hands against the tiles in front of him as he now puts up a fight, trying to refrain himself from being dragged, “Let me go! I’ve had enough! I’ve had enough!” He screeches, emphasizing the last word.

AJ stifles her giggles behind her fist, refusing to help her boyfriend. She seems to find all of it to be rather hilarious.

We ignore Benley, doctors passing by and looking at us weirdly in turn. “Mental patient.” I mouth to the doctors and nurses. They all nod in understanding after that, giving me a pat of encouragement on the back as they walk on by.

“I don’t want to slip and slide through blood!” Benley wails in protest. Simo and I continue to drag him after us, the doctors giving us pitying stares upon hearing Benley’s deranged words. I have a bad habit of always dragging Benley around everywhere. It’s the only way to get him to cooperate. He wouldn’t otherwise.

“Then you should have stood up when told to.” I keep up the act, Simo laughing along with me as we work tag-team. Simo and I are like a dynamic duo. We’re unstoppable. I’m the brains and he’s the brawns.

Benley sounds like he’s just about ready to burst into fury at any given second, “Aqueela Lawson, why do you always do these kinds of things?!” He mopes begrudgingly, “I just don’t understand!” He yelps in fear and pure confusion. “I don’t understand you! I just want to sleep! I’ve had enough!” He slams his fists against the tiles in a tantrum. “Enough!”

After Benley’s little fiasco dies down, Emma and Xavier take their turn to fawn over the kiddies. Grey even shares a smile with one of them. Ryan doesn’t bother to look, his eyes constantly cast downward on his phone - no surprise.

Sarah and Landon return, with no Dean in tow. I’ll have to ask about that at a later stage. Sarah has a nurturing nature and soothing effect on the babies. The babies are completely at ease with her, yet when Landon makes a move to pick up either of them, they immediately start screaming and crying. The little ones all tense up at just seeing his face. It’s hilarious, for the rest of us, to watch. Landon, on the other hand, takes offense.

But somewhere long the line, my laughter dies, a remaining thought lingering: none of this is the same without Jay being here. He should be here too. He’s friends with Max and Bells (sort of). He should be here.

It’s that very same thought that drives me to his front door step late at night. As if sensing my presence, the door swings open before I even get chance to knock or ring the bell. He’d obviously heard me rummaging about on his doorstep - I was still preparing myself to see him.

His blue eyes flicker to me, a puzzled expression on his face. I can hear my heart beating slowly in my chest as I patiently wait for him to say something. Once it registers, he leans back against the door frame expectantly, “What do you want?” He asks me point blank, his tone conveying some stored up resentment for me.

I shrug, “I don’t really know.” I answer meekly, averting my eyes from his shimmering blue ones. His once warm smile has now been replaced by cool, steely eyes. Message received, he wants me gone. This might just have been a mistake after all.

“Yeah you’ve never really known, have you?” He states more than asks, completely insulting me and ripping me to shreds as he refers back to when I left him. His tone presents his current bitterness.

I wince and take an obvious step back from him. I gulp nervously before regaining my voice, “I deserved that-“

“You deserve that and so much worse.” He interjects, not at all thrilled to see me - not that I had expecting him to be happy about it. If anything, he should hate me - only now, am I actually starting to see just how much he does. It’s all within good reason.

I swallow up my fear and take a step of courage, forcing myself to meet his gaze. He sees my desperation and for a second, it seems as if his eyes soften.The assumption is short lived, he’s quick to put all barriers back in place once he realizes his slip up. I clear my throat hesitantly, willing myself to just explain it all to him, “Jay look-“

“I don’t have time to hear your excuses.” He mutters, that fresh faced Jay long gone. It’s as if he changes to a worse person when in my presence. When I’m not around, he just seems so much more happier. I’m the weight on his shoulders. I’m the one dragging him down and holding him back from achieving what it is he truly wants out of life. “Even though I didn’t invite you, you came anyway.” He points the facts out to me, “I respect that,” he confesses, “but now go away, go home Aqueela. There’s nothing here for you, not anymore.” He slams the door in my face after that.

Thinking that he’d return and open the door, I chose to wait.

With my back pressed against the door, I slide down into a sitting position, choosing to get comfortable. I have a feeling I might be here for a while, and if he does truly despise me, the entire night.

I’ve been waiting all day, what’s to stop me from waiting for Jay? I would do just about anything for him. I waited for Bells and holding that baby was worth it. I’m just hoping that waiting for Jay will prove to be worth it in the end too.

I curl up, bringing my knees up to my chest to keep warm. There’s a light, comforting breeze in the evening air. My eyes find the stars above, sparkling silver in their wake. I bite back a smile as a silent revelation occurs and unfolds itself before my eyes.

Jay told me to go home - it’s why I’m staying right where I am.

As I’m busy dwelling on it, a fleck of light shines through from his house. I feel the door slightly nudge me forward. I turn to look back over my shoulder, only to find the front door slightly ajar - a clear invitation to enter.

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8. Chapter 8: Worth the Wait
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