What Doesn't Kill You

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Chapter 23

The couple started to adjust to life slowly. Lucky had set alarms on his phone to remind him to empty his stoma bag but he didn’t go out much. Even when Scout suggested going for a walk, he kept it short so that he wasn’t away from the flat for long. Scout knew that he was worried there would be another accident and nothing she said would change his mind and she didn’t push it.

The year rolled into February and Lucky’s first chemotherapy appointment came with it. He was in a piss poor mood after a rough night of sleep and was snapping at Scout over little things.

“Scout! Are we going?”

“Yes, Luck. Give me a damn second!”

She tried not to snap back and most of the time she could keep a hold on her tongue but she was tired and the fact her period was due this week wasn’t helping her mood.

She grabbed her bag and walked into the hallway where he was stood. “Stop looking like a sulky teen. Come on.”

Scout walked past him and out to the car. She helped him get in before getting into the driver’s side. The car rise was quiet. Chemotherapy was the next hurdle that Lucky had to face. The surgery meant that the main part of his bowel that was cancerous had been removed but there was still the issue of the lining and some of his organs. Chemo would hopefully deal with that.

When they walked into the hospital, a volunteer directed them to when they needed to go. The ward was half filled with people getting their treatment. Lucky took a seat in one of the chairs and Scout took the one next to him. She watched with a strange fascination as the nurse placed the cannula into his arm.

“Scout,” Lucky said, looking at her.

“Mhm?”

“You look a little pale.”

“I shouldn’t have watched.” She dropped her head between her knees and took some deep breaths and she could hear Lucky laugh before his large hand gently rubbed her back. It was no use though. Scout got up out of the chair and went to the bathroom where she proceeded to throw up. When she came back out onto the ward, Lucky was being hooked up to his treatment.

“I think you might be the first person around who had thrown up but isn’t going through chemo,” he teased.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been around needles.”

“Are you okay now?”

“Better.” Scout settled back down in the chair, glad that the snappy tension had dissolved. She looked up at the bag filled with liquid that was being pumped into her boyfriend. “Does it feel weird?”

“Didn’t you have one for your surgery?”

“They didn’t put anything through it while I was awake.”

“Can’t feel a thing.” He settled back in his chair.

Lucky’s treatment would take a few hours do the bag Scout had brought with her was full of things that could keep them preoccupied. As she rummaged through it, she realised her phone was ringing. “Hi Dad. Thank you! We’ll swing by later tonight if Lucky is up to it. Love you too, Dad.” As she put down the phone, Lucky shot her a look. “Dad says good luck with the chemo.”

“He wants us to stop by today?”

Scout’s face went red and she looked at the phone in her hands. “Yeah.”

“Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, yeah. I… um… it’s my birthday.”

When the silence laid out between them, Scout looked up to see Lucky looking horrified. “Scout, why didn’t you say something?”

“It’s no big deal.”

He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “It’s your birthday.”

“We’ve both had other things on our mind.”

“I can’t believe I forgot.”

“If it makes you feel better, I forgot too.”

“I swear I’ll make it up to you, Scout.”

“You don’t need to, Lucky.”

“I –”

“You don’t need to.”

“We’re stopping by at your Dad’s after this is done.”

“Let’s see how this cycle goes. They said you might feel tired and nauseous.”

“Doesn’t matter. We’re still going to see him.”

“If it makes you happy, weirdo.”

“It’ll be the highlight of my say, sunshine.”

Over the course of the day, they made their way through word searches, Lucky read a book and Scout continued to knit a blanket that she started when she moved to Swansea months ago. It was later afternoon by the time they left the hospital and drove towards Jim’s house with Lucky yawning.

“We can just go home, babe,” Scout told him gently.

“No.” He was adamant and so Scout continued to drive to Jim’s.

When the pair got inside the house Jim was beaming at them. “Penblywdd hapus, cariad!”

Lucky looked utterly confused and Scout laughed, “He said happy birthday, love.” Jim pulled her into a hug and kissed her cheek. “Thank you, Dad.”

“How’s your day been?”

“It’s been alright.”

“How was your treatment, son?” Jim pulled Lucky into a hug and the sight never failed to make Scout’s heart feel light. Jim had embraced the fact that Lucky had become a part of their life and vice versa.

“Not a barrel of laughs but Scout made it a lot easier,” Lucky told him.

“Come on through and get settled. I have cake.”

Scout bit her lip. “Please don’t tell me it’s –”

“And it’s Colin the Caterpillar!” Jim announced. She’d never stop being a little girl in his eyes. Lucky and Scout dropped onto the couch while Jim bustled around the kitchen, making coffee. “Scout, sweetheart, I never did ask you how your audition went?”

She cringed in her seat and Lucky stopped tracing patterns on her palm. “It was okay, Dad,” she called to him.

“Do you think you’ll hear back from them?” Jim brought in a tray with three coffees before heading back into the kitchen.

“I’m not sure, Dad. It’s still early and I’m still not at my best.”

Lucky rested his head on her shoulder. The guilt ate at him, he admitted that to Scout, that he had ruined her audition. He didn’t ruin it. Her head was not quite in it anyway. Scout kissed the top of his head.

“Well, I have my fingers crossed for the next one,” Jim told her.

“Thank you, Dad.”

She wasn’t sure when the next one would be. Scout hadn’t looked into anything. It wasn’t a priority for her right now.

Jim walked back in holding birthday cake with some candles sticking out of it and Scout smiled. She blew out the candles and Jim placed the cake down on the table.

“Looks like it took a lot out of him,” Jim said.

“I think it’s been a lot to deal with,” Scout replied.

Jim handed her a coffee before sinking down into the chair with his own mug. “How are you dealing with all of it.”

“I’m fine.”

“Scout…” Jim knew her better than any person in the world. He knew when she was lying to him.

“It’s tough sometimes. We fight over the stupidest things. He gets so angry about things.”

“I would be too if I were him.”

“I’m not blaming him, Dad. I’m just saying it’s tough sometimes.”

“You know, Scout, you didn’t sign up for this.”

“Dad!” she hissed at him.

“Listen, listen. I’m just saying that you didn’t sign up for this, darling. It’s a lot to have taken on and you also need to look after yourself. I want to make sure that you’re still living your life.”

Jim and Scout had a functional relationship that consisted of them not really discussing their feelings over the years. It had served them well but things had been changing.

“I love him, Dad,” Scout told him.

Jim surveyed her over his glasses and she turned her attention to Lucky. When that man slept he was dead to the world. She envied the fact that his head could hit the pillow and he fell asleep instantly.

“I know you do,” Jim sighed.

“It’s not how we expected to have a relationship but it is what it is and I still wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world.”

“You had your own life and your own ideas.”

“Things change.”

“You’re still young, Scout.”

“Do you not want me to be with him, Dad?” Scout turned her attention back to her Dad. He looked the most serious he had in years. She’d asked him a question but regardless of what he answered, she knew what her response would be.

“I’m not saying that, darling. I just want you to be happy in your life.”

“I am.”

“You were set on your career, Scout. It was always the most important thing for you.”

“And it’s not right now.” She didn’t want to have an argument with him but it felt like it was getting there.

“I just don’t want you to make the same mistake as I did.” Jim looked into his mug. “I put my life on hold for many years because I loved your mother.”

“That was an entirely different situation, Dad. You can’t compare what Mum did and what Lucky is going through.”

“I’m not but we’re more alike than you want to admit, Scout.”

“Mum cheated on you and you kept waiting for her to come back.”

“Your mother took and took without giving anything in return.”

“You cannot say that Lucky is selfish, Dad.” The anger bubbled in her chest. “He helped me through my recovery. He didn’t think twice about it.” Jim leaned forward and opened his mouth but Scout continued, “I love him and I’m going to stick by him. I don’t need you to approve of it, Dad but I need you to respect it.”

Jim shook his head. “Love, I approve and respect it if it’s truly what you want.”

“It is.”

“Then I’m more than happy for you.”

Scout leaned against the couch and took the biggest gulp of coffee. She never imagined she would get so protective over Lucky and their relationship but she didn’t like being questioned over it. Scout knew that she had a life and she knew she had plans when she arrive home. Lucky was never part of those original plans but he was now. That meant that she would postpone them until he was well enough for them both to live them out.

Jim cut the cake and they nibbled on some slices. The tension between them eased slowly.

It was just gone six when Lucky stirred and Scout smiled at him. “Sleeping beauty.”

“Shit. I’m so sorry.”

“No worries, baby. How about we get you home.”

“Your cake…”

“Blew out the candles. We can take some slices home and you can have some tomorrow.”

Lucky looked guilty and Scout didn’t know how many time she could tell him that he shouldn’t feel that way. She understood that things weren’t smooth sailing. She understood that this disease and this treatment had taken a lot from them and she’d let it if it meant she got to keep Lucky for the rest of her life.

“You know I love you, right?” Lucky asked her.

“Never a doubt in my mind.”

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