The hospital smelt of floor cleaner and mint, which Aiden tried to ignore as Michael walked him towards the counter.
“Hi.” Michael said. “I’m here to pick up my sister, Alison Montgomery?”
The doctor typed a few keys into the computer. “She’s on Level 3, Room 10. She might be a bit drowsy from the pain killers, but you can go and see her.”
Aiden’s stomach sank. As he walked down the hall with Michael, he said nothing.
They got in the elevator, with the sound of radio jingles whistling in the background.
“I really hate this stuff.” Michael laughed. “Just as well she’s not on the top floor.”
Aiden looked over at him. “I hope she’s okay.”
“She will be, man.”
The elevator dinged and they made their way into Room 3. Alison was lying down on a bed in the corner. Her green eyes were blinking in and out of sleepiness, but she beamed as she saw the two of them walking in.
“Did you bring Chinese?” she asked.
Michael took a seat next to her. “I didn’t, but you can order as much chow mein as you want.”
“How you feeling?” Aiden asked, walking closer to her.
“Sleepy.” she teased. “I was just about to dream stuff before you two got in.”
“I think it’s an early night for you when we get home.” Michael said, stroking her hair.
“So I’ll be nice and refreshed for the contest tomorrow,” she said, looking over at Aiden. “I’m rooting for you.”
Michael looked over at Aiden, with concern running around his eyes. Aiden’s stomach tied up in knots.
“Looks like you won’t be getting into any fights anytime soon.” Michael said.
She scrunched her nose and laughed. “I don’t know,” she said, lifting her crutched foot up. “This could pack quite a kick.”
A doctor walked up to them both. “Looks like she’s doing okay, she was a little trooper during the surgery.”
Michael nodded. “Can she come home tonight?”
“Of course. I have her bill with me, I just need you to sign for it.”
Michael took the board and signed without question. “I’m going to grab some stuff from the vending machine, you guys want anything?”
Aiden shook his head.
“Can you get me some Mary Jane?” Alison asked, turning her voice to a mousy whimper. “I’m in a lot of pain here.”
Michael sniggered. “Don’t be cheeky now.”
“I’ll go fetch her wheelchair from downstairs. She has some friends on their way up to see her, if that’s okay.”
Michael nodded. “Yeah, we’ll only be a few minutes.”
They both left the room, leaving Aiden and Alison smiling at each other. She rubbed her hair back and lay back on her pillow. “I tried to see your dad after my surgery. The doctor said I couldn’t, but that he was doing fine.”
Aiden interlocked his fingers and sighed. “I’m glad you’re both okay.”
“I’m glad you’re okay, too.” she said.
“Alison…I’m not doing the contest anymore.”
She sat up. “Why?”
“I can’t risk it, I won’t.”
“Aiden, I can tell something else is on your mind. Come on, you know you can tell me anything.” She reached out and took his hand.
Aiden took her hand, looking down. “I won’t let you end up in here again because of a contest. I can’t do that.”
Alison’s smile turned upside down. “Well…we can at least hang out tomorrow, right?”
“I’ve had some time to think in here…about us.”
Aiden’s ears perked. “What were you thinking about?”
“Oh, nothing big really.” she laughed. “Maybe the fact we kissed on my balcony, you know, the little things.”
Aiden smiled. “I don’t know if I can kiss you in a hospital.”
She leant over and kissed him on the cheek. “Oops, breaking the rules.”
Aiden moved his chair closer. “How long have you felt like this?”
She held tighter. “I don’t know. There’s just something about you.”
“Alison.” Aiden said, looking into her eyes. His heart started beating rapidly. “I…I don’t think I’m ready. Not right now.”
She hugged him. “It’s okay.”
He looked up as his hand began shaking. “You’re cool with it?”
She nodded, grinning cheekily. “Wanna know why?”
Aiden’s whole body tingled from head to toe as he admired her sparkling smile.
“You’re my best friend, forever and always.”
Footsteps from behind interrupted them, and familiar voices filled the room.
“Don’t tell us we missed the proposal!” Danny yelled, holding his camcorder in one hand and Alex’s hand in the other.
Damien and Jimmy followed, carrying a shopping bag. “We picked up a couple things from the shop,” he said, handing it over. “Hope you like chocolate.”
Alison took it and laughed. “I’m gonna hide this from Mike if that’s cool. Thanks guys.”
“You feeling okay?” Alex asked.
Alison nodded. “Little tired, but I’m happy to see you guys.”
“Mike told us you’d be here.” Damien said. “Nice leg brace.” he teased.
“Don’t make me hit you with it,” she laughed back.
“Hey, Al.” Danny said, pointing the camera near her. “Can you tell Aiden he’s insane for giving up the contest?”
Aiden hid his face, giggling. “You’ll never stop, will you?”
“Oh, he’s crazy.” Alison said, looking straight into the camera. “But we’re all a bit crazy.”
Jimmy reached into his bag and handed Alison a folded up piece of card. “I made this in art class for you.” he whispered.
Alison’s cheeks went bright red as she opened it up. “Dear Alison, hope you feel better soon. Hate to miss out on how you smile. Love from Jimmy.”
Grinning, she reached over and gave him a hug. “That is one of the sweetest cards I’ve ever gotten, thank you.”
Damien patted him on the back. “He insisted.”
“She’s right in here,” a voice said from behind. “Doing great.”
Aiden turned round expecting to see Michael, but his dad soon followed in, smiling away.
Without thinking, Aiden ran up to him and threw his arms around his waist. His dad smiled and returned the hug.
“Good to see you too, son.” he laughed, patting him on the back.
Aiden buried his head into his dad’s shoulder, trying to hold back tears. “I love you,”
Andrew held tighter. “I love you too.” He let go and looked into his eyes. “Guess what? I get to come home today. The doctor’s said I’m going to be okay for surgery next week.”
Aiden shook his head. “But…but how? You got hurt pretty bad.”
He sniggered. “Well, yeah. But I always bounce back, the doctor said something about how when I came in, the tumor became easier to see. I’m going to be healthy again.”
Tears fell down Aiden’s face as he hugged his dad again.
“Man, I just love family reunions.” Danny said.
Aiden walked back towards the bed with a large smile on his face.
“What happened?” Andrew asked, looking at Alison.
“Accident at school.”
Michael went around and picked up Alison from her bed, planting her on the wheelchair. “She’s not as light as she used to be.”
“Oh, shut up,” Alison teased.
“Mr. Malcolm, were you aware Aiden’s not doing the contest anymore?” Danny asked.
“Danny, let it go, will you?” Damien said.
“Yeah honey, you’ve filmed those reactions from everyone now.”
Andrew looked over at Aiden. “I wasn’t aware he was quitting.”
Aiden sunk back into his chair. “Yeah…I…I just don’t wanna do it.”
“Can we get a doctor over here? I think my son might have hit his head too.”
Everyone laughed, even Aiden. “The only reason I was doing this was…well…I wanted to be great.”
“Who said you aren’t?” Andrew asked.
“You’re the best parkourer I know.” Jimmy added.
“Definitely in these last couple of days.” Alex said.
Aiden smiled, trying to ignore the compliments. “Thanks guys, but I don’t need to prove that to Chad.”
Andrew patted him on the shoulder. “Then don’t.”
Michael nodded. “Your dad’s right, man. We never wanted you to be better than anyone else.”
“Even though that would look great on camera.” Danny teased.
“Aiden, I’m going to ask you something and I want you to answer me honestly, don’t even think about it.” Andrew said.
“Do you like what you do?”
“Are you good at it?”
He shrugged. “I guess so.”
“Final one. Don’t think about whether you win or not. How do you feel when you’re out there?”
Aiden sighed, he thought of the times he’d just run, when the whole world was just a canvas waiting to be painted. He thought of the first time he perfected a move, how he learnt others. Smiling, he looked at everyone in the room.
“I feel, like anything’s possible.”
Andrew patted him on the shoulder. “In that case, you winning this thing tomorrow is definitely possible, and I know you can do it.”
“Me winning a contest isn’t worth you guys getting hurt.”
Alison wheeled herself over to him. “Then we’ll be in it together. They can’t hurt us all.”
Damien nodded. “Yeah, Alison’s right.”
Alex and Danny walked over. “Together, we’re badasses.” he said.
“Not just a team, we’re family now.” Alex continued.
“I’m rooting for you to win.” Jimmy said.
“I think you can handle a bit of Harrigan.” Michael said.
Andrew smiled. “Well, Aiden. The people have spoken.”
A fire lit in Aiden’s heart. He slowly began nodding.
“We got a contest to win.”