What Doesn't Kill You

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Chapter 19

Scout was on the train back from London to Swansea. She had started taking dance classes again. The first lesson she took, she came home and cried her eyes out at Lucky because she realised just how far behind she had fallen behind in her training. Lucky had held her close and told her that it would take time but she would get there again but only if she didn’t quit.

Not only had Scout kept going but she also registered for auditions and had primarily attended local castings. This had been the first one out in London at she had forgotten how catty audition rounds could be. She gave it her all but doubted she’d hear back. Scout knew she could do better. She held herself to high standards and she hadn’t reached them today.

Leaning back in her seat, Scout watched the scenery whizz by before checking her phone. She dropped a message to Lucky to tell him she was on the way home but he didn’t reply.

Things had been busy but she couldn’t help but feel a little weird ever since she told Lucky that she loved him. She hadn’t said it again but he was yet to say it to her. Not only that but they’d seen each other a little less. Lucky seemed to have buried himself in work these days. He turned up late for dates and skipped out because of other commitments.

There was a small voice in the back of her head that kept telling Scout that it had to be because he was seeing someone else but she kept reminding herself that Lucky wouldn’t do that to her.

She fiddled with the clover pendant around her neck. She wore the necklace every day. Lucky wouldn’t agree to move to London with her if he didn’t want to be with her, right? But last night had been the fourth date he cancelled and when she asked him he just said that he was trying to sort out the new business.

Scout understood that work could take its toll but surely taking an hour out wouldn’t hurt. When she had see him, he looked tired and like he’d lost some weight. He was snappier and stressed about everything.

The window was cool against her forehead as she leaned against it trying not to worry. She wasn’t sure what it was but something felt off lately. She wanted to ask him about it but she already had and gotten a short response in return.

Her phone buzzed and she looked down to see Lucky had messaged.

Safe trip

Had she messed up? Has she scare him when she told him she loved him? Should she have kept her mouth shut? Should she have taken it back?

If he was unhappy he would tell her and leave, right?

Suddenly, those conversations they’d had before they got together came into her head. He admitted that his eye tended to wander. He’d never had a relationship. What is the novelty of something new had work off? What if he was bored? What if she wasn’t enough?

The train from London Paddington to Swansea took approximately three and a half hours and for that period of time, Scout thoughts, anxieties and insecurities took over. By the time the train pulled into the station at home, she felt exhausted by her own brain.

She walked outside the station where Lucky said he would pick her up but he wasn’t there. Scout’s brow furrowed and she checked the time. The train wasn’t delayed and he knew she’d be coming home. She tried calling him but it went to voicemail. Scout cut the call and frowned deciding to wait for a little longer but 15 minutes later he still wasn’t there. She called again but nothing.

Getting into a cab, Scout left a voicemail for him. “Luck, I have no clue where you are. I don’t know if you’re buried in the book or what but can you call me?” And despite herself, she added another sentence. “I love you.”

She gave the driver Lucky’s address instead of her own and paid before getting out and knocking on her boyfriend’s door. There was no answer and the lights were off. His car wasn’t on the street so he must have gone somewhere.

Pulling out her phone, Scout called Ava.

“Hey, Scout. How was the audition?” Ava asked.

“Hi. Yeah, it was good. Ava, have you seen your brother? He was meant to pick me up from the station but he didn’t show up.”

“That’s weird.”

“He’s not with you?”

“No.”

Scout’s stomach lurched uncomfortably. “His car isn’t here.”

“Maybe he’s gone to the station.”

“He’s not picking up his phone.”

“Leave it with me. I’ll try and find out where he is,” Ava told her. Scout was silent as the doubt creeped back in, filling every inch of her body. “Scout, I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation.”

Scout left it to Ava and went home for a shower and crawled into bed. She stayed up waiting to see if either of the twins called but nothing. Eventually, she fell into an uneasy and restless sleep.

The ring of her doorbell woke her up from her sleep and she rubbed her eyes. Scout checked the time to see it was 3Am. She’d been asleep for around three hours. Who the hell was at her door this early in the morning? Her brain started to wake up and she realised there was only one person who would be at her door at this time. Scout got out of bed and opened the door to her flat.

“You better have a good reason… Michael?”

“Scout.”

Her stomach went funny at the sight of Ava’s fiancé standing in her doorway. “What happened?”

“Everything’s fine.”

“No. No it isn’t, Michael because why else would you be standing here? Where’s Lucky?”

“Okay, Scout. He’s at the hospital.”

Scout felt like she might be sick.

“He’s fine,” Michael said. “Ava told me to come and get you.”

It was like walking through thick custard as she made her way back to her room and changed out of pyjamas and into sweats and one of Lucky’s hoodies that he’d left behind.

Michael explained that Lucky drove himself to the hospital after passing out at home. Ava had been calling around trying to find him when Chris rang to say the hospital had been in touch. They had only found out where he was half an hour ago. He’d passed out again when he’d reached the hospital and had been in and out of consciousness since.

Scout let Michael lead her through the hospital until they ended up on a ward. They walked onto it and she could see Chris and Ava sitting by a bed. Once they reached the end of the ward, Scout’s heart squeezed painfully in her chest. Lucky was lying there, looking pale as a ghost, cannula inserted into the crook of his elbow and attached to a dark red bag of blood.

He turned his head to look at her and Scout’s breath caught. He looked so weak and out of it.

“Lucky,” Scout breathed his name before walking to the edge of his bed. He lifted a hand to greet her, unable to speak. “What happened?” Scout looked to Chris and Ava before taking Lucky’s hand in her own. Her eyes were wet with tears and she blinked rapidly trying to get rid of them.

“We don’t know properly,” Ava said. “He came in and passed out. They did a bloody test and his count was so low they said he needed to have a transfusion.”

“How? Why would his blood count be low?”

“I don’t know, Scout. We’ll have to wait for him to tell us what’s going on.”

Scout sat down next to Lucky and he gave her hand a gentle squeeze. When she looked at him, her eyes started to burn again. “This is a very elaborate way of getting out of picking me up from the station, mister.”

There was a small chuckle from everyone and Lucky gave her a weak smile before puckering his lips. She laughed and a tear spilled over onto her cheek. Scout got up from her seat and gave him a kiss. Of everything she had imagined, Lucky being in hospital was not one of them.

Lucky went through another two bags of blood and two bags of fluids because the doctor found he was also dehydrated.

When Scout woke up her neck was stiff from how she’d fallen asleep in the chair. When she opened her eyes, the sun was coming through the hospital windows and Lucky was sitting up in bed looking much more like himself.

“Lucky?”

“Hey there, sunshine.” He gave her a thousand watt smile and she got up out of her chair and hugged him tight. Lucky let out a gentle ‘ooft’ before he hugged her back.

“What the hell happened?” Scout let go of him and took a seat again.

Lucky shifted a little to get comfortable and looked at her, going red in the cheeks. “I haven’t been feeling well.”

“No shit, Lachlan. They gave you a blood transfusion so you better tell me what’s going on.”

“I’ve been… I’ve been bleeding.”

’What? When?”

He looked a little embarrassed. “Whenever I got to the bathroom. I didn’t think anything of it. It’s been happening for a little while. It’s why I’ve been distant. I lost my appetite and got these bad stomach pains. I need to rush to the bathroom and I’m bleeding.”

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“It’s a bit embarrassing, Scout.”

She squeezed his hand. “From now on, you tell me everything, Lucky. That’s how a relationship works. Look what happened. What if you hadn’t been able to take yourself to hospital?”

“I promise you from now on I will tell you everything.”

“Good. Where has everyone else gone?”

“Left for home. The doctor stopped by whilst you were sleeping. They want to do a colonoscopy and then I can go home.”

“They’ll know what’s wrong after they do the colonoscopy?”

“I think they’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on. It’s probably just the stress.”

Scout waited with Lucky all day at the hospital as he went through the prep and went to have his colonoscopy done. She’d never been so glad to walk into his flat with him at the end of the day. Scout swore that she’d never complain about him being messy or noisy again.

Two days later, they were back in the hospital. Lucky had some biopsy samples taken during the colonoscopy and now the consultant had the results. They were sat in front of her waiting to hear what was wrong with her insides.

Dr Thomas was a bubbly woman with greying hair and an infectious smile. She made them feel at ease, asking Lucky how he’d been doing since he left the hospital. She rattled through a list of questions asking him about his appetite, weight, bathroom habits. They both explained he had a loss of appetite and had lost weight due to stress.

“As you both know,” Dr Thomas said. “We took some biopsy samples during your colonoscopy.”

Scout was holding Lucky’s hand in her own. The likelihood was that he had IBS or Crohn’s disease. Either way, they were prepared to deal with it together. They’d figure out a way to adjust to a lift of medication and watching his diet.

“We saw some polyp like growths so we focused on those in particular and sent them to the lab for testing. The results showed some abnormal cells in the growths.”

Lucky’s hand twitched in Scout’s.

“I’m very sorry to tell you, Mr James, but the results show that you have bowel cancer.”

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