Chasing Sunshine

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13 - Getting A Hang Of Things

"James, wait!" Sunshine called and grabbed his hand as he was about to turn the knob of the Faulkner home's front door.

He immediately turned to her and looked at her with concern. "How are you?" James asked as he held her face in his hand and stared at her. "You look a little pale. Are you feeling okay? I'll take you to the hospital right now."

"Relax. I don't need a doctor. I'm just a little nervous. What are you going to tell them about me? How are you going to introduce me to your Dad?" She bit her lip and looked at him expectantly.

He sighed and grinned. "You scared me. I almost panicked. That's easy. I'll tell them you're my girlfriend. Isn't that what we agreed on? We refer to each other as girlfriend and boyfriend to make things easier to explain to others why we do all these things together."

She scrunched up her eyebrows and nervously chewed on her lip which made him smile at how adorable she looked. "But… They know that you went away for work and that I... Well... I am your patient."

James took a deep breath and caressed her face. "Well... you are not... Weren't you the one who didn't want to be treated that way? We're friends. It just happens that I am also the one monitoring your health, checking on you, administering your medication and looking after you everyday." He smiled.

She shrugged and smiled back. "You're right. We are friends. Best friends. If you have to, you can tell them I'm your patient, your girlfriend or whatever. What you have become to me this past month is beyond any labels and more than anyone has ever been my entire life. Don't worry about me. I'm just a little nervous because no guy, boyfriend or not, has ever introduced me to their family."

"Well, it's their loss because you are an amazing woman and it would be a blessing for anyone to know you." He said as he slipped his hand in hers and intertwined their fingers.

He turned the doorknob with his right hand and opened it as he held her hand firmly in his left.

Angel came running across the living room to meet them and hugged her big brother tight.

"Big brother, who is she? She's so pretty. Like a doll." The little girl looked up at Shine with awestruck eyes.

"Her name is Sunshine. She..." James paused and smiled at Shine. "She's my girlfriend." He declared proudly.

"Girlfriend?" His dad Rick asked sternly as he came down the stairs. "What do you mean "girlfriend"? You left home, stopped school, didn't come back for a month because you said you were going to work. Now you're telling me you have a girlfriend? What kind of bullshit is this?"

"Dad!" James started to speak behind gritted teeth in an equally tensed tone as he held Shine’s hand tighter and hid her behind his back in a protective stance.

Shine pulled on his sleeve to stop James then spoke softly. "Uhm... Mr. Faulkner?" She stepped forward and stood beside James who looked at her with a frown. She smiled at him and whispered. "It's okay. Let me talk to him, alright?" He sighed and reluctantly nodded.

"Mr. Faulkner, James is a responsible guy. He's really wonderful actually… So wonderful in fact that he volunteered to help his patient, me, to live out a full life happily with the time she has left. He didn't want to say it as it is because he was protecting me. He was protecting my feelings because he knew how awful it would make me feel to be constantly reminded of my condition. But it is the way it is. We didn't expect you to understand and God forbid I don't need you to pity me. I am telling you because as the father of this amazing guy who has been my hero for the past month, you deserve to know and James deserves your respect and support for the great job he has been doing." She said determinedly as she blinked back the tears in her eyes.

"Oh, Shine..." James sighed as he wrapped his arms tightly around her and held her close. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought you here." He whispered as he gently stroked her hair. "Let's go home."

"James… Son, I'm sorry." Rick said as he walked towards them.

"It's not me you should be apologizing to, Dad." James sternly answered as he tightened his arms around Shine.

"Miss Sunshine..."

Shine took a deep breath and pulled away from James, smiling a reassuring smile. She then turned to face Rick with the same smile on her face.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend or hurt you in any way." Rick told her.

"No worries, Mr. Faulkner. I know we are all in a weirdly unconventional situation. We're all new to this but I'm hoping pretty soon that we can all get a hang of things." She replied, still with a sweet smile on her face.

Rick nodded his head thoughtfully then asked James, "Are you happy, son?"

James gazed at Shine with a certain sparkle in his eyes that was easy for a father to recognize. He then turned to his Dad and smiled. "Yes, Dad. I'm very happy."

"In that case, let's eat. Rina has already cooked lunch. Miss Shine, we only have fried fish and bean soup. I hope you'll still be satisfied with our simple meal." James's father said.

"Of course, I'm satisfied. Thank you, Sir. And please just call me Shine." She smiled.

"You're welcome, Shine and please just call me Uncle. You're part of this family too." Rick smiled back.


***

She giggled in the background of the next clip showing his old room.

“How old are you really? 5?” She asked as the shot panned out to show a whole wall of Ironman posters, toys and memorabilia.

“I'm just an Ironman fan who collects this stuff, and you automatically think I am a child? Can't I be just an enthusiast?” He said with a grin.

“More like an over-enthusiast.” She laughed.

“Go ahead. Laugh at me again.” He chuckled and scratched the back of his head.

“Don't be embarrassed. It's cute. You're cute.” She said and he blushed.

***

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