What Doesn't Kill You

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Chapter 21

It was as if the diagnosis made the disease more visible. Scout could tell Lucky had dropped weight in the past few weeks. When they had meals together he picked at his food and most of the time he had abdominal pains. They’d just finished another half eaten dinner and were sitting in his flat with a film on the screen.

Lucky’s head was in Scout’s lap as he asked, “Are you going back to yours tonight?”

“I don’t have to if you don’t want me to.”

Scout noticed the way Lucky had lost his confident stride. He seemed a little unsure of everything now. Most nights she came over to his flat and they had this conversation. Lucky would ask if she was going back to her place and she told him she didn’t have to. She always stayed the night.

“Scout.” Lucky shifted in her lap so that he was looking up at her.

“Is something wrong?” She’d been on edge since the hospital trips. They had been instructed to keep an eye on things and if particular symptoms appeared they had to head straight to the hospital.

“No. Sorry,” he told her.

She relaxed a little. “What is it, babe?”

Lucky took one of her hands and laced their fingers together. He looked down at them as he spoke. “How long do you have left on the lease on your flat?”

It took her a moment to think. “About two months.” Lucky nodded slowly, still not looking up at her. “Why are you asking?”

“You… I…”

“Baby, you’re stammering. Just tell me what it is.”

His hair had grown out a little and formed curls around his ears. She tucked one behind it gently. Lucky had a hairdresser’s appointment tomorrow so she wouldn’t be able to do this much longer when he went back to his usual style.

“You’re here a lot,” he said. “I like you being here.”

“I like being here.”

“So maybe you could stay?”

“I am staying.”

Lucky took in a deep breath. “Permanently. Maybe you could stay here permanently as in live here. With me.”

Scout’s eyebrows almost disappeared into her hairline as she looked down at her boyfriend. His face was a little gaunter than when she first met him and he had shadows under his eyes. Neither of them had been sleeping well.

“Are you asking me to move in with you?”

His eyes finally met hers. “Yes. Yes, I am. You’re here all the time. You barely sleep at yours anymore and half your stuff is taking up my wardrobe.”

“Oi! Don’t make it sound like a problem.”

“I mean, you’re taking up half now. I dread to think what it’ll be like when you move the rest of your stuff in.”

There it was. There was the glimmer of normality that was them. They laughed and joked and teased each other and forgot there were other things they needed to deal with for a small amount of time.

“When?” Scout echoed his words. “I haven’t even said yes.”

“You’re going to say yes.”

It lifted her heart to see him behaving as his cocky self. “You’re sure about that?”

“Try saying no to this face.” He gave her the puppy dog eyes. The exact same eyes that got her to part with her last churro whenever they had them.

Moving in with Lucky – it would have happened at some point, especially considering they were talking about moving to a new city. Scout spent most of her time here these days so it wasn’t like anything was changing.

“This face,” she told him, “is going to get smothered with a pillow tonight.”

“That’s not a no.”

Scout rolled her eyes and Lucky pushed himself up so he was sitting next to her.

“It’s not a no,” she repeated quietly.

’That means it’s a yes.”

“…Yes. I’ll move in with you.”

He let out a whoop of joy and Scout laughed. Lucky’s lips pressed against hers as he kissed her to celebrate and then laid back down on the couch, Scout resting on top of him.

“I wish I had met you sooner, Scout,” he told her.

“Because you know you’ve missed out on years of my wit and beauty.”

Lucky pretended to gage and Scout slapped his arm.

“I wish I’d met you sooner because of how you make me feel. I feel like I wasted so much time with these other girls.”

“Be careful or I’ll get jealous.”

Lucky huffed a laugh, his chest moving up and down. “I wasted time with them, chasing some sort of high and feeding my ego when you were somewhere out there in the world. You’re the best decision I’ve made.”

“Lachlan James, you’re going soft on me.”

He leaned in and kissed her forehead. “I love you, Scout.”

“Lucky –”

“I love you.” He said it again and her heart filled. Scout hadn’t said it since the say in they shop. They’d had enough to deal with without the added pressure of those three words.

“I love you too, Luck.”

London was foggy and there was a chill in the air. Scout hugged her jacket closer to her as she hurried down the streets. If she was honest this was the last place she wanted to be today but Lucky told her not to be stupid and to attend the audition.

It was still pretty early but the streets were packed with people on their way to work and tourists trying to navigate their way to landmarks. It was busy and Scout felt claustrophobic. For the first time in her life, Scout wasn’t excited to walk the streets of London.

She pushed away the uneasy feeling and found the studio where the auditions were being held and went through registration. It was no surprise that the queue was already long with men and women stretching and warming up. Scout joined the back of the line and pulled out her phone.

Stupidly busy and I just want to be home.

Still in bed. Go away.

Scout laughed at his response. Lucky had dropped her off at the train station in the morning and told her that he would be crawling straight back into bed. He must love her to have gotten up at the ungodly hour to see her off.

I suffer. You suffer.

This relationship needs a new mantra, sunshine

Just make sure you’re up for your appointment. Love you x

Love you too x

That was the reason she wanted to cancel today. Lucky had an appointment with the stoma nurse. Dr Thomas explained that the nurse would walk through what happened with the stoma once the surgery was done. She wanted to be there to support him but when Lucky saw her writing an email to cancel her audition spot, he took her laptop and began an argument. Now she was in London and Ava would be with Lucky.

Most of the day was spent in line, texting Lucky and Ava and trying not to mention the appointment, which wasn’t until the afternoon.

Eventually, she was called into the room behind a few others who were auditioning and her stomach dropped as she caught sight of Carrie. Carrie clocked her and walked over.

“Scout,” she said, sickly sweet.


“Your knee is healed up?”

“Looks like it.” Scout didn’t want this conversation with her. She wanted to audition and then head home to her boyfriend and make sure he was okay.

“I thought it would be a while before we saw you back in the studio.”

Scout would have loved to slap the cocky look off her face but instead, she balled her fists by her side. There was no code of sisterhood with Carrie. “Can’t keep me down for long.”

Carrie looked her up and down before she said, “Break a leg, Scout. I really hope you get it.” The tone was anything but sincere and Scout took in a deep breath.

“I bet you do, Carrie because then you can have my sloppy seconds as usual.”

The look on Carrie’s face was priceless and Scout wished she could have taken a photo but instead she walked away from her to the other end of the studio.

They walked through some choreography and Scout watched the woman who taught them carefully, attempting to match her move for move. Once that routine was done they were sent out and each one of them was brought back in one by one to dance solo for the panel. Whilst the others auditioned, Scout checked her phone to see a missed call from Ava. She tried to call her back but it went to voicemail. She tried again but the same thing. Her stomach started to knot before someone called her name.

She bit her lip and swapped her phone from silent to loud so that she wouldn’t miss another call. Scout walked into the audition room again where she gave a small nod to the panel of three.

“Scout Daniels.” She gave them her name before setting up her music. She’d chose to dance to something classical rather than a pop piece. The tinkling sound of a piano echoed around the space as Primavera played from her phone.

The reason she fell in love with dance was because of the music. Music weaved its way through her soul until she had to find a way to move to it. The moment she connected to a piece of music, she tried to create something equally as beautiful with her body.

Primavera was a stunning mix of strings that moved slowly and quietly before picking up speed and swelling crescendos and Scout moved across the floor, letting it guide her movements. There was this feeling of being free when she danced. It was like she left behind everything that weighed her down and let herself be purely body, mind and soul.

She stumbled on a step as the music was cut short by the sound of her phone ringing. Her eyes snapped open and she ran towards it without an apology.

“Miss Daniels,” Marco Lyton addressed her from the panel.

“I’m sorry. I really need to take this.” Ava’s face lit up her screen and she walked out of the room to answer it. “Hello. Ava.”

“Scout. Sorry. I didn’t realise you called back.”

“is everything okay?”

“Don’t panic…”

Why did people say that? Why did people say not to panic when they were inevitably about to deliver news that would cause panic? “Ava, what’s happened?”

“They’re prepping Lucky for surgery.”

“What?!” His surgery wasn’t for another few weeks. Today was just a routine appointment to walk through what happened after.

“He has a bowel obstruction. He was talking to the nurse and she went to see Dr Thomas after he spoke about some of his symptoms.”

“I’m coming home. What time is his surgery?”

She should never had said yes to the stupid audition. She should have stayed home and gone to the appointment with him. Scout was going to kill him. She wasn’t by his side every single minute and when she asked about his symptoms he’d said he was fine. No change. That was a damn lie.

“He’s meant to be going in at four,” Ava told her.

“I’m not going to make it on time.”

“It’s fine, Scout. We’re here for him.”

“Ava, I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Okay, Scout. I’ll see you soon.”

Scout cut the call and walked back into the room, blinking back tears.

“Miss Daniels,” Marco said unimpressed.

“I’m sorry. I have to go.”

“Miss Daniels, a moment please.”

“I really don’t have the time.”

“You are a talented dancer, Miss Daniels. You should know that this industry puts a great demand on your time. If you are planning to stay in it, I advise that you put everything else aside for it. This has to be your top priority.”

“Thank you. Sorry for wasting your time.”

She didn’t spend another moment in the room. Scout needed to get back home where she should have been in the first place.

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