Truck Stop

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Chapter XXIII.

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

Lincoln grumbled and tried snuggling deeper into his covers, turning his face into the pillow. His body ached and it felt like he hadn’t slept in days, and the stupid beeping was waking him up when he didn’t want to exist. It was also cold as shit, and he wondered if he had accidentally left the window or something.

Beep.

“Will someone please turn that shit off?!” Lincoln yelled, wincing when his head hurt. He was surprised out how hoarse his voice sounded, and his eyes flew open. He wasn’t in his room, but found he was actually in a hospital bed, hooked up to a couple machines and surrounded by white and periwinkle.

“I see you’re awake.” Lincoln turned his head to see a nurse standing in the doorway, writing something on her clipboard. “I’ve already paged the doctor, she’ll be here momentarily. How are you doing?”

“I’m fine,” Lincoln said automatically. Truthfully, he felt like he’d been hit with a truck six times and then thrown into a stampede. He felt dizzy even though he was lying down and his chest hurt something fierce. “How long have I been out?”

“Four days, give or take,” The nurse answered. “You actually have been recovering from a mild case of hypothermia. Can you remember what happened?”

No, Lincoln almost said, then it struck him like a tidal wave. Everything came crashing down and he momentarily forgot how to breathe as he remembered his mom, the funeral, his dad and the storm. He fought to keep his emotions at bay, inhaling deeply before answering. “A little.”

“Good,” She said. Lincoln couldn’t lift his head to see what she was doing, but it seemed like she was checking something. “Your heart rate is a little fast, but that’s to be expected. Do you know how long you were out there for?”

“I think...five or six hours,” Lincoln answered slowly. “I couldn’t get up, and then I think I passed out a few times but I’m not sure.”

The nurse frowned. “Your friends saved your life. You’re very lucky they came looking for you.”

Lincoln’s eyes widened in shock. So Jupiter really had gone looking for him. He hadn’t just been dreaming. He felt a rush of relief and almost teared up, unable to describe what he was feeling. The emotions stayed even when he was poked and prodded by the doctor, barely listening to the words she was saying.

“Now, I’ve been informed about your situation, and I’ve told your roommate about the procedures you would need to follow in order to recover completely. He seemed very eager to help.”

“Is he here?” Lincoln asked eagerly. “Can I see him?”

“I’m not sure if your condition is suitable enough for‒”

“I’m fine,” Lincoln cut her off. “Please, I want to see him.”

The doctor hesitated for a moment, but Lincoln begged enough that she relented. She warned him that only one visitor would be allowed at a time, and it made him wonder just who had been checking up on him while he had been in the hospital. He hoped someone had called Pat and Theresa to tell them he wasn’t able to go to work.

He was lost in thought when the door to his room swung open and a familiar face peered around the edge, offering a small and hesitant smile. The warmth he felt when he caught sight of Yong-sun almost made him laugh.

“Are you okay? You slept for so long,” Yong-sun said, stepping into the room. He was curled in on himself, and Lincoln felt bad. He could tell Yong-sun felt guilty for what happened.

“C’mere,” Lincoln said, opening his arms. Immediately, Yong-sun rushed to the bedside, leaning over the short rail to hug Lincoln as best as he could in the awkward position. Lincoln felt his skin become damp and realized that Yong-sun was crying. “Hey, don’t cry.”

“I am so sorry,” Yong-sun sobbed. “I wish I could have helped you. Instead I only make things worse.”

“It’s fine, you’re fine,” Lincoln assured him, holding him tighter. He had missed this, missed Yong-sun in a way he hadn’t realized before. Yong-sun reminded him a lot of his mom, when she was better. “How’s Bambam?”

“He’s okay,” Yong-sun sniffled, leaning back and wiping his eyes. “He misses you, I think. Everyone sends their good wishes.”

“Is everyone doing alright?” Lincoln asked, immediately feeling worried.

“They all worry about you,” Yong-sun replied softly. “Please don’t scare us like that again.”

“I won’t,” Lincoln promised.

“You know what makes me angry, Link?” Yong-sun said, pulling back completely. He was still crying and it made Lincoln feel more guilty. “You are in a hospital, and you are not okay, but you still worry about us.”

“Of course I’d worry about you,” Lincoln frowned. He didn’t really get why Yong-sun was so frustrated with him.

Yong-sun stomped his foot irritably, like a toddler throwing a tantrum. The look on his face was pretty comical.

“Don’t you know you are allowed to be selfish sometimes?”

Lincoln’s breath caught in his throat. Of course he knew that, didn’t he? He realized, after thinking about it for a moment, that he really didn’t. He convinced everyone else that it was okay to put yourself before your friends and family but he didn’t practice what he preached.

“I didn’t mean to make you cry,” Yong-sun said guiltily, biting his lip.

“I’m not.” He could taste the salt on his tongue even before the words came out of his mouth.

“Why do you lie to make other people feel better?”

“I-I don’t. Wait– how’d you know?” Lincoln asked.

Yong-sun shrugged. “Everyone does it. You just seem to have made a habit of it.”

He leaned over the rail, then seemed to change his mind and climbed onto the bed, settling against Lincoln’s side like they were home at their apartment.

“So don’t lie anymore, okay?”

“Okay.”

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