|posted on 15-Oct-2001 9:39:35 PM|
Disclaimer: Characters portrayed in the following work belong to creative geniuses: Metz, Katims and the WB.
Spoilers: End of the World
Notes: Must have read: It's Good To Be King, Always Second, Underestimated, Lacrimae Rerum Cetera Desunt... All part of the Antarian Recollection series
Max Evans - Gediro of Utinu, Isabel Evans - Vilandra of Utinu, Tess Harding - Rila of Opaeno, Michael Guerin - Fervid of Jinaso, Liz Parker - Misela of Kejir, Maria DeLuca - Jirena, Alex Whitman - Balei, Kyle Valenti - Hanu.
Maria’s rant in part 2 comes courtesy of Col. Thank you, you’re a dear.
Cling and Clatter
“Max…” Isabel sat next to her brother on his stained sheets. The uneven burns on his chest and back made it difficult for him to sleep at night, not to mention the awkward positions his legs and arm put him in. The ointments and pus oozed out from under bandages but Max could never change as often as he would like due to his immobility. She gingerly shook his good shoulder to wake him.
“What?” He mumbled.
“My powers are back but I can’t heal my legs.” She hissed to him.
“What?” Max attempted to sit up carefully.
“I think that something in the energy blast from the ship affects our powers. I can turn mustard into orange juice but I can’t lift the burns from my legs.” She flicked the light on from across the room. “I can’t think of any reason that I can’t heal your face but I can’t.”
“I can.” Max tore his eyes away to stare at his toes sticking out of his casts.
“Isabel… even if we could heal ourselves or each other now…” He shut his eyes tightly. “Too many people have seen the injuries for them to must magically disappear.”
“Max, do you even hear what I’m saying?” She forced him to look at her, only daring to touch the unblemished side of his face. “My powers do not work on these. I can do anything else I want to but I can’t heal my wounds. I cut my hand and I was able to heal it but I can’t heal the burns.”
“It might have been because the energy is like ours. It makes our more permanent state… permanent damage.” He shut his eyes and lay back down carefully. “It means that we won’t be able to fix Liz either.”
“Max…” Isabel started to tear up. This was driving her crazy. “Can you be my brother for few minutes? Can you help me figure out what we’re going to do?”
“There’s nothing to do.” Max whispered and pretended to be sleepy. “Not anymore. It’s over.”
“God, Max.” Isabel stood and raced from the room. Max opened his eyes to the ceiling. He hadn’t slept hardly at all. Miwiro was missing in action, Michael was injured, and Liz would be in the hospital for at least a week and a half more. One thing kept nagging at him. Who had called the paramedics? Why weren’t the FBI rolling in about now?
“Maria? How bad is it? Really?” Liz noted the pained expression on her friend’s face through the reflection. “They keep me on painkillers so I don’t feel much.”
“It’s pretty bad but it’s getting better. This really hot intern keeps coming in here and changing your dressings.” Maria tried to lighten the mood a little. “Dark hair, about six foot, gorgeous eyes, really built.”
“A guy’s been coming in here and exposing my ass?” Liz gasped.
“But it’s okay, really. He’s not like… checking you out or anything.”
“Well that I know.” Liz managed to scoff at her friend. “I imagine that it’s not really attractive to look at.” She paused a moment. “Maria? How’s Max? I haven’t seen him since I woke up the other day.”
“He’s healing. They wanted to keep him here but he threatened to walk out.” Maria had to bite back a laugh. “He couldn’t really have but he’s really good at directing his wheelchair with just the one hand. His burns are nearly as bad as yours, worse in some places… We don’t know where he was in relation to you guys.” She sighed. “He’ll be back later this week to test the function of his shoulder and then they’ll cut his shoulder loose and he’ll have at least elbow mobility.”
“Oh.” Liz shut her eyes. “Um, where’s… Is the door closed?”
“Yeah, we’re alone.”
“Oh, he’s resting up at Max’s.” Maria lied. She had agreed to go along with Max’s lie and she really wished she hadn’t.
“Is he badly hurt? Is that why he hasn’t come in?”
“No… No… Not hurt.”
“He’s fine. He’s just laying low.” Maria reassured her friend. “Everyone’s fine… hey, can I ask you a question?”
“Sure.” Liz nodded as much as she could.
“Well… it’s about you and Michael.” The blonde began.
“It’s just that… Liz, he’s laying in his apartment staring at his ceiling. I don’t think he’s eaten and the only time he talks to me is after I give him a status report on you.”
“Maria… I don’t know what to tell you. You know there is no me and Michael. Have you asked him?”
“I never get the chance cause then he asks me to leave him alone.” Maria sighed heavily.
“Maria, I’m sure its just shock…”
“Just get better Liz. Rest.” Maria stood up suddenly. “Hey, Dr. Trowler.”
“Could you excuse us? I need to examine the patient.” Dr. Trowler nudged Maria toward the door. Once the door closed, the doctor began to lift the sheet that had been placed over Liz’s bed to keep foreign objects from touching her flesh. “Let’s see how you’ve been doing these past few days, Liz. I’m sorry I haven’t been in more often to check on you.”
“It’s okay. The nurses keep giving me something for the pain and that intern has been in here changing my dressings pretty often.” Liz took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“Maria says he comes in pretty regularly. I wouldn’t know. I don’t usually feel too much and I’m not awake a lot of the time.” Liz could suddenly sense the doctor’s apprehension. “Doctor?”
“I’ve never seen this before.” Dr. Trowler lifted the dressings to expose her flesh. The burns were still there but much further healed than could have been expected for the degree of damage that had been caused. “You must heal very fast, Liz.”
“Why? What’s happening?”
“I can’t guarantee that there won’t be scarring but you’ll be going home very soon. How do you feel about coming off the painkillers?”
“If it means I can have more than one coherent thought at a time, sure.” Liz smiled at her reflection. “I can’t wait to see Max again, hopefully out of this place.”
“Ah, so you’re the girlfriend, huh?” The doctor continued to examine the burns on his patient. “Maybe you can get him to come back so I can get a better look at his burns.”
“His burns?” Liz swallowed thickly.
“Poor kid. I heard he was a real heartbreaker before this. If I could treat him, I could diminish the scarring but he wouldn’t let me touch him after he woke up. I can’t give him a new ear or his hair back but I can keep him from getting sick.”
Liz tuned out the rest of the doctor’s visit. What had happened to Max? What was wrong with his ear? What had happened to his hair? Why hadn’t Max told her himself?
“We just might be able to get you off your stomach in a few days.”
Isabel slid onto the bed next to Michael. He had showered today. That was a good sign. Being careful, she rested her head on his shoulder and hugged him lightly. “How you feeling?”
“I’m fine.” He muttered and didn’t look down from the ceiling.
“Max is hiding from me. He keeps pushing me away. Says he doesn’t want me to feel like I have to spend time with him because his face…” Isabel fought the tears. “I don’t like to see him like this… or you. I wish you guys would snap out of this.”
“Tess came by this morning.” Michael whispered softly. He ran a hand over his face, wincing when his fingers brushed the stitches that ran down his forehead and onto his nose. “She tried to heal me, mostly my face.”
“But her powers didn’t work, did they.”
“Max thinks it’s the alien energy from the ship.”
“He’s probably right.” Michael sighed and wrapped an arm around her. “I’m healing okay though.”
“I haven’t seen Alex yet.” She buried her face in his shoulder. “I don’t want him to see me now. I… told him all those things that I had done and then I took off, next thing his best friend is in the hospital because she saved my life.”
“You know. I keep trying to tell myself that she chose to do it but it doesn’t make me feel any less responsible for her being there.” He finally admitted to someone what was going on with him. “I keep seeing her in pain and then the way she looked when I passed by her room before I left.”
“She’ll be okay though. She has to be or else… I don’t think Max will survive.” She started crying to the guy she had always thought of as a brother. “And I can’t survive without him…”
Max had taken his position at the window and didn’t bother to turn when his door opened; the fewer people that had to look at him, the better. Max shut his eyes and waited for the awkward speech.
“Hey, your mom just told me to come on in.” Kyle’s voice drifted over. “I would have come yesterday but I had school and a ton of homework.”
“It’s okay.” Max waved him off.
Kyle made a face of sympathetic pain when he saw the exposed burns on Max’s shoulder. He crossed to sit in Max’s chair, getting only a view of his profile. “How’s it going?”
“How do you think?”
“I think you need someone to talk to.”
“You thought wrong.”
“Look. Something happened out there and no one is telling us.” Kyle leaned forward. “Do we need to know what happened out there? Does this affect us? Can you leave Earth or are you stuck here?” Kyle gave up and sat back. “It affects Tess directly. Somebody should tell us about this.”
“Truth is… I don’t know much.” Max turned slightly, exposing Kyle to the damage done to his face. “When we got there, there was another ship in the quarry. Michael, Isabel and I went to check it out.”
Kyle couldn’t stop staring at the burns on Max’s face and the remnant of his ear.
“I… Khivar was in there. Some words were exchanged… He shot at us, Michael shot at a panel and there was an explosion. Then next thing I knew Miwiro was there, he took Isabel out, said that Michael was safe. The heat got really intense in there. I couldn’t get out on my own because of my legs. He came back in and picked me up. We weren’t far enough away and we weren’t strong enough to put up a shield. I remember something really hot hitting the side of my head and then it all went black.” Max dropped his eyes to his lap. “Then I woke up in the hospital. Tell your dad thanks for covering for us.”
“My dad didn’t do anything.”
“Mr., Mrs. Parker, this is good news.” Dr. Trowly reassured them. “Your daughter is healing better than we could expect. I can’t promise that the scars will go away on their own but with some therapy—“
“What kind of therapy?” Mr. Parker interrupted. He had on the hospital bed with his hand resting gingerly on his daughter’s shoulder where she was sitting up for the first time in nearly a week.
“It’s not plastic surgery but… let me explain it like this. We would make a pass with a needle, almost like a tattoo. It encourages blood to the skin, helping to slough off the dead top layer of skin. This won’t be an option until she has completely healed but it will be something to look into at a later date.” The doctor paused a second. “At the very least we could do it at the base of her skull, it might reinitiate hair growth.”
“I guess it’s something we could look into.” Mrs. Parker nodded stiffly. “How long until she comes home?”
“A few more days I would think. I’d like to monitor her progress more closely than I have been.” He nodded to them. “We’ll see how well you move around, how much pain your in before we consider discharging you, okay?”
“Yeah, I understand.” Liz nodded and leaned on her father.
“We don’t want you dependent on the painkillers. That is very important.” He lifted Liz’s face to look into her eyes. “It’s been several hours since your last dose. How are you feeling? Any pain?”
“It’s kinda sore.” Liz made a face.
“That’s to be expected. We don’t want you in any major pain so don’t be a heroine. Okay? We’ll give you a little something but not what we have been. Okay?”
“Yes, doctor.” She nodded.
“Then I’ll be back later to change your bandages.” The doctor nodded back and made a quick exit from the room. At the nurses’ station, he paused. “Who’s been dressing the burns in 403?”
“I was scheduled to her room but they were always done before I got there.” The nurse shrugged slightly and reached over to grab the chart and the schedule.
“Who’s on the schedule? They told me an intern had been in there.” He leaned on the counter to wait for her answer.
“I don’t know, doctor. To my knowledge, there haven’t been any scheduled to work this floor.”
“Do any of them have dark hair… about six foot?” He shook his head at their confusion. “Keep an eye out. I want to talk to the guy.”
Max maneuvered himself into the kitchen to get something to eat. He hadn’t come out of his room all day. He had spent hours thinking over what Kyle had said. If Valenti hadn’t covered for them, who had? If Valenti hadn’t taken care of it, why weren’t the FBI crawling all over the place? As he pulled up to the refrigerator, he realized that even if he could get it open, he couldn’t reach anything. Suddenly he found himself being pulled away and parked at the table.
“You can always ask for help, Max.” Diane kissed the top of his head. “I imagine that you’re starving. I left you a plate of food in the oven. Let me get it for you.”
“You don’t have to Ma. I can do it.” Max complained and spun his chair to face her.
“Max, you can’t.” Diane pulled the plate out of the oven and removed the foil wrap. She grabbed a fork and pulled a bottle of Tabasco from the refrigerator to set in front of him. “Are you going to pour it on your food or drink it?”
“Ma…” Shook his head and took the bottle from her to pour on his food. “I don’t use that much.”
“Uh-huh.” She took a seat next to her son. “You haven’t come out of your room for a few days.”
Max didn’t answer her, he just struggled to eat his meal left-handed without making a mess. He kept his face turned slightly to the right, which made for some awkward eating of his meatloaf and mashed potatoes. He dropped a forkful of potatoes and tried again to pick them up.
Diane took the fork from him and scooped them up. She held it up for him to eat but he hesitated before taking it from her. “Max, I know you hate this and you want to do for yourself… but you can’t. Both your legs are broken, one at the shin the other at the thigh… your right arm is stuck at a right angle. You need help to do things. Why haven’t you been coming to dinner to eat?”
“Mom…” Max sighed heavily. He had been fasting but tonight hunger had won out. He bowed his head slightly and when he lifted it again, he had tears in his eyes. “I didn’t want anyone to lose their appetites sitting across from me at dinner.”
“Oh, Max.” She set down the fork to cup the good side of his face. “Max… it’s not that bad.”
“Mom, I don’t even like to look at myself. I can’t make everyone else look too.” He felt the tears slide down the new contours of his face. “Not you or Dad or Isabel… or Liz. I know what I look like…”
“Honey, we still love you. You’ll get better, you’ll see.” She kissed his forehead. “It’s not that bad.”
“I hate this.” He cried. “I don’t like you having to feed me. I don’t like that I can’t fix my own meal. I hate that I can’t go to the bathroom by myself… and I hate that I’m home and Liz is still laying in that hospital with those burns all over her.” He felt her arms wrap around his shoulders and had to ignore the momentary pain it caused. “It’s my fault she was out there. I didn’t even want her there but I couldn’t leave her behind… Mom, it’s my fault… it’s my fault. I wasn’t there to protect her when she needed it.”
“Sh. Sh.” Diane held onto her son as tight as she dared. “You couldn’t have known, Max. God, what were you kids doing out there in the first place?”
[ edited 2 time(s), last at 28-Oct-2001 7:17:45 PM ]
|posted on 20-Oct-2001 9:22:08 PM|
Liz lay on her side as still as she could, moving tended to create a pulling sensation on the flesh of her back. So many, many thoughts raced through her mind. She thought about Max. He couldn’t be too bad if Maria hadn’t said anything, or it could be really bad and that’s why Maria hadn’t said anything. Isabel hadn’t come in but apparently she had just sustained the equivalent of really bad sunburn. Michael had the same thing but with cracked ribs and a few stitches to the face. The gash hadn’t been as bad as she thought it had been when she had first seen it. Maria and Alex came to visit when they could. Then there was the missing Miwiro.
Sighing, she flicked her eyes to the door when it opened. A tall guy with dark hair walked in and set a bucket of gauze and swabs beside her bed. “Morning. I see you’re… lucid, today.”
“Yeah, it feels good.” Liz half smiled. “Need me to lay on my stomach?”
“If you could. It just makes it easier for me.” He answered sincerely. He waited until she shifted onto her back before he released the ties on her gown. Gently, he pushed the thin covering aside to expose the bandages over her back. “These are looking much better.”
“Yeah, the doc says I get to go home tomorrow as long as I promise to keep up cleaning my back and putting on that cream.” Liz found herself smiling to the wall as she thought of seeing Max soon. She barely felt him pull the old bandages off and begin the cleaning of her back. “I can’t wait to see my boyfriend.”
“I’ll bet. I’m sure he’s a lucky guy.”
“He’s amazing.” She sighed dreamily then the clouds entered her vision. “I heard that his burns were about as bad as mine. Did you see him?”
“Yeah… yeah I did. He’ll be fine though. I gave him some ointment and wished him luck.”
Liz sighed again. “I feel guilty for still having my face if he doesn’t have his. I don’t even know. He hasn’t been in to see me.”
“He’s got three broken limbs…”
“I know, I know. It’s probably hard for him to get around but… I miss him.”
“Sounds like you like him a lot.”
“Love is more like it. I couldn’t live without him.”
The intern never paused for a moment in removing the residue from the last application. He dabbed her abused skin and moved around to face her. “I have to let it air dry for a moment before I put more on…” He waited for her nod. “Can I ask you something?”
“Um, sure.” Liz nodded and noted that he had very kind eyes, very familiar looking eyes.
“What if I told you that your boyfriend was horribly disfigured? What I told you that he might never fully heal and look normal again?” He rested his chin on his hand to wait for her answer.
“God…” Liz squeezed her eyes shut tight. “I don’t know. It would hurt me to see him like that but I love him so much that I could never stay away from him. I could never just leave Max.”
“That's good to hear.” He nodded. “That's very good. So let's finish you up, ok?”
“You look so familiar to me. Do I know you from somewhere?”
“Depends… did you have a past life?” He closed one eye and studied her carefully.
“I… uh… well.” Liz stammered.
“Joking. Sorry. My mother says I get my sense of … humor from my father.” He smiled and stood up. “So, I hear you’re getting out of here tomorrow…” They both managed a small laugh as Liz suddenly relaxed so much she fell asleep for the remainder of her stay in the hospital.
Max threw his shirt at the mirror. He couldn’t put it on. Wincing as a drop of water from his hair felt on his shoulder, he wheeled himself back to his closet. None of his clothes would fit without ripping them to shreds.
“If you ask me, I’ll help.” Isabel whispered from the doorway. “Even Michael lets me help him into a clean shirt.”
He sighed heavily and sank back against his wheelchair. Too proud to form the words, he just gave her a helpless look. Isabel pulled a T-shirt from the closet and proceeded to get it over his encased arm and then his head, forcing his left arm to his body to slide it through the armhole. “See, that wasn’t so bad.”
“For me or for you?” Max muttered and turned away to make sure his sweat pants were snapped up the side properly. “I know I wouldn’t want to dress you.”
“Me either.” Isabel cracked a small smile but kept waiting for him to turn around again. “You know… we are here for you… Max?”
“How are you really doing?”
“I’m fine.” He practically barked at her. “I am fine with the fact I look like something the cat threw up. I’m fine with the fact that I can’t walk and I’m fine with not being able to do something as simple as bathe and dress myself. I just wish everyone would lea--” He trailed off when he caught movement at the door behind her. “Liz?”
Isabel stood and turned to see their friend. The silence was so thick, she had trouble breathing. Silently, she left them alone to face each other for the first time since before the explosion. Liz nervously plucked her hair away from the back of her head, her hair had just been evened out by her mother before she was allowed to go for a walk.
One foot in front of the other, she made her way to Max, trying not to stare at his wounds. He looked so scared and lost. Kneeling in front of his chair, Liz lightly put her hand on his leg. She couldn’t stop the tears from forming when she finally slid her eyes to the disfigured side of his face. Hesitantly, she reached up to touch the flesh with the tips of her fingers. His left hand stopped her journey. “They told me but I didn’t believe it.”
“Who told you?” He whispered so softly that she wasn’t sure she really heard him speak.
“My doctor and that intern…” Her voice trailed off as she found it hard to speak.
“I can’t hold you.”
“Not now but you will.” Liz rose up so she could look straight into his eyes. “Soon.”
“Stop pretending Liz. I know what I look like.” Max couldn’t stop a tear from trailing down his face. “Don’t lie to me. That would hurt worse than you staying with me out of obligation…”
“Max… I’m not obligated to you.” She shook her head. “I love you…”
Max lay back on his bed, feigning sleep but he could hear voices outside his door. “What’s wrong with your brother? He was doing so good and all of a sudden today he won’t come out of his room.”
“Liz was here earlier. I don’t know what happened but Liz ran out of here crying.”
“Oh dear. How was she?”
“I don’t know… I didn’t get a chance to talk to her.”
Max squeezed his eyes shut tight. Liz had tried to kiss him but he had turned his face away. Then he had been ugly when he told her to leave. He had told her not to come back. Tears flowed over his face and onto his pillow but he couldn’t stop.
Liz sat on her balcony crying in front of all the friends that had come over to see how she was doing. Kyle held her tight against his chest while she sobbed. Alex and Maria resisted the urge to stroke her back, not that she would have noticed that pain over the stabbing in her heart.
“It’s not just Max, Liz.” Kyle whispered to her. “Isabel won’t talk to Alex and Michael likes to play games with Maria’s head. He talks to her only if she has news on you… and that’s it.”
“Why would he care? Why are they doing this to us?” Liz sobbed louder.
Michael didn’t even bother to look when he heard his door open. “Look. I’m sleeping… or trying to. Leave me alone.”
“You really want me to?” A male voice spoke. Michael sat up thinking it was Max. Instead he saw a man in green hospital scrubs. “How is everyone doing?”
“Who are you?” Michael started to raise his hand.
“Sorry. I forget.” The man raised his eyebrows and rolled his eyes. Holding his hand in front of him, a light filled the room. When it subsided and Michael could see once more, Miwiro stood in front of him, worn and ragged. Miwiro rubbed his stomach and furrowed his brow. “You have candy?”
|posted on 28-Oct-2001 7:17:22 PM|
Sliding carefully onto the table, Max waited for the doctor to start the examination. An intern entered and approached slowly. “Do you remember what’s where?”
“Most of my body is in a cast. I’m sure it’s all still there.” Max replied in a dead voice. His attempt at a small laugh sounded harsh and empty.
“We’re glad you came back in, Mr. Evans.” The intern lifted a cast saw from the table and motioned for Max to turn and rest his right hand on a traction handle. “We can help you better when you come in. The burns?”
“Obviously still there.”
“I’m going to cut this off of you and then we will reassess the break.” Max had already tuned the intern out. His thoughts returned to Liz and the look in her eyes when he had told her to leave. When he came out of his thoughts, he felt very sleepy. The intern had begun cleaning up his arm, very carefully moving around burns and dabbing his skin dry. “Would you like to lie down?”
“Um, yeah, just for a minute.” Max nodded slightly as he lay back, closing his eye when he heard the saw turn on again on his legs.
Liz nodded absently as her mother talked about her return to school and applied a cream to her back. She sighed and shut her eyes. At least she was almost nude in the comfort of her own room, in her own bed rather than in that semi private room at the hospital with that papery hospital gown. All she could think about was Max.
“Liz?” Michael’s voice made her snap her head up and clutch her sheet to her chest.
“Michael? What are you doing here?” Liz whispered.
“I just dropped by, your dad told me to come on up.” He nodded to Mrs. Parker. “I… uh… wanted to thank you for what you did for me and Isabel.”
“I’ll leave you kids to talk.” Nancy stood up with used gauzes to throw away.
They remained silent until she had gone from the room. Michael sat at the foot of the bed at just stared at her for a moment. Liz drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around them to keep from exposing herself to him, not that he hadn’t seen everything two weeks ago. “God that feels like forever ago.”
“What does?” Michael furrowed his brow.
“I was just thinking that I’m covering myself up here but you’ve seen me naked.” Liz whispered. “That night feels like so long ago that I can’t believe it was in this lifetime.”
“I know what you mean.” He nodded stiffly. “Miwiro finally showed up.”
“What?” She snapped her eyes to his. “What do you mean finally showed up? He was missing?”
“You didn’t know?”
“No! Maria said that he was holed up at Max’s.”
“I thought you knew. He saw you like four times a day while you were in the hospital.”
“He did not. Anyway… I was asleep…” Liz trailed off when she put it together. “He was the intern.”
“Yeah. That’s what he told me.” Michael shifted slightly. “He walked into my apartment looking like one thing and then changed into himself… He’s hurt himself. He’s been taking care of everything. The hospital records, our blood samples… you.”
“Why are you here, Michael?” She asked out of nowhere. “You’ve been ignoring Maria. She’s worried about you.”
“I wasn’t ignoring her.” He dropped his gaze to his hands. “Look, I just wanted to see for myself that you were all right. I owe you my life…”
“Michael. I’m not the one that pulled you out of that ship… I still don’t know what happened inside of that ship. Why are you here?”
“I… I’m confused.” Michael looked up with tears in his eyes. “I know I care for Maria because I don’t want to hurt her but… I’m… feeling… I’m confused. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be with.”
“What are you talking about?” Liz whispered, his distress made her heart speed up.
“I want to hug her and kiss her but… I keep seeing you. I don’t think I’m supposed to but I do. I hear you… moan and I feel your skin.” Michael practically leapt off the bed and began pacing. “I can get it out of my head. Either I dream of you saving my life or I dream of making love to you.”
“Michael? Did a doctor check you out?”
“No.” He shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose, signaling to Liz that his head hurt pretty badly. “I woke up in the hospital but… they wanted to do tests when I woke up. I couldn’t let them.”
The more he talked, the more Liz was sure something else had happened to him. “Michael… did you hit your head?”
Max woke up in his own bed. He groaned and sat up. Outside the sun was setting and when he instinctively lifted his right hand to his face, his fingertips and a cast met the tight flesh. It took him a moment to realize that his right arm was mobile again. When he shifted his legs, they were noticeably lighter but still encased.
“Morning, sleepyhead.” Diane whispered from the doorway. “You fell asleep and we didn’t have the heart to wake you up, especially since you haven’t been sleeping well.”
“What?” Max shook his head to clear the cobwebs. “What time is it?”
“6:30. Are you hungry?” Diane pulled the wheelchair from beside the desk and opened it up. “You wouldn’t let me in the room earlier but if you need help…”
“I think I can do it Ma.” Max managed a smile and scooted over enough to slide onto the chair, being careful not to put too much weight on his right arm. “Think I can eat with my hand now?”
“Wouldn’t count on it.” They made their way to the kitchen where he was parked at the table. A plate of pizza was set in front of him. “I think you can handle that left handed.”
“So the doctor’s say you’re close to a miracle.” She sat beside him and ruffled his hair. “The intern wouldn’t tell us what he did in there and then he was gone before the doctor showed up.”
“The intern was pretty cool.” Max nodded, his mouth full of pizza. “How am I a miracle?”
“Well, they’re sure that it was a glitch or something but I know you, Max.”
“What do you mean?” He recognized that look in her eyes. The bird and the fire flashed before his eyes. “What did the doctor find?”
“Your arm was broken and they thought that maybe a nerve might have been pinched but… the x-rays today showed that you’ve only got a fracture.”
“And my legs?”
“The same. They looked like breaks at the time but just fractures. They’ll heal soon enough and you’ll be up and about before you know it.”
Max suddenly didn’t feel too well. His pizza had all the taste of sawdust. He wasn’t even listening until something she said rang a bell.
“And your burns. Apparently that intern that cleaned you up cleaned off some dead skin and they’re healing faster than was expected. Doctor said that the same thing happened with Liz Parker…”
“Oh my god… It’s you.” Isabel threw her arms around Miwiro. “We were so worried.”
His arms slowly wrapped around her. He wasn’t used to such open displays of affection. “I am fine. A burn here and there but I’m healing.” He pulled away slightly. “Do you have any candy?”
“No, sorry. Michael usually has some…” Isabel gestured to the kitchen only to find several wrappers strewn about. “Which you’ve already found.”
“I… I’ve been using up a lot of energy and candy seems to be the best replenishment.” Miwiro let go of her take his place on the couch, where he had been working on a box of cereal.
“Can I ask you something?” She sat beside him. “That was Kivar in there, right?”
“Yeah. It was.” He paused with a handful of Cocoa Puffs halfway to his mouth.
“Is… is he dead?”
Isabel’s face crumpled up in tears, sobs came racking her body. “It’s over, it’s really over.” Then she doubled over. “He’s dead. Oh god, he’s gone.”
Max studied his reflection. The burns on his face had receded just the tiniest bit. He turned to let his mom have access to his back. He figured his body might have healed enough to begin healing his wounds. That had to be it.
“You’ll be better in no time.” Diane whispered. Both snapped their head around when they heard the door slam open.
“Max!” Isabel shouted into the house as she drug Miwiro behind her.
Miwiro stood in shock when he laid eyes on his father. He was having his wounds cleaned and so more of him was exposed. He slowly walked forward and wrapped his arms around Max. His arms and body matched perfectly with the line separating Max’s wounds from his unharmed flesh.
Diane gasped when she saw it. If not for this Robert character, Max could have been burned from head to toe.
“Max, I’m sorry.” Miwiro cried.