Kris didn’t know how long they had been sitting on Adam’s couch. He had been drifting in and out of consciousness with the warmth of MJ’s body beside him and the feel of her hand in his. It would have almost been heavenly had it not been for his throbbing right eye, the tenderness of the back of his head and the most painful way MJ would squeeze his hand each time to get him to wake up again. He didn’t think the force with which she would squeeze was entirely necessary but he wasn’t about to say anything. He figured he deserved any punishment given to him right now.
Judging from the light outside Kris figured it was about 5 o’clock now. So maybe they had been sitting here for 2 hours or so? Tori had left a while ago but Kris hadn’t heard where she was going. Jimmy had gotten up and left not long after without a word. AV had been in and out, checking his pupils with a flashlight and refreshing his ice baggies.
He had barely moved a muscle in those two hours and, now that he was starting to think a little more clearly, he realized neither had MJ. She hadn’t uttered a single word since she sat down but she hadn’t insisted anyone else come and keep him awake either. Kris decided to take this as a sign that maybe all was not lost after all.
Kris slightly turned his head toward MJ so he could see her with his good eye. His vision was still a bit blurry but he could see that she sat with her head leaning back against the couch staring up at the ceiling, her feet tucked up under her legs. This caused her to lean on him slightly. If a stranger had walked into the room right then he would have figured Kris and MJ were a happy couple snuggling on the couch and enjoying each other’s company.
“I’m feeling a little better now,” Kris said, his voice raspy from not speaking for a few hours. MJ glanced over at him quickly and then looked back at the ceiling, her face unchanging, her hand remaining in his.
“What time is it?” he asked, hoping this would get her to speak to him.
MJ got out her phone, pushed the home button so the time would show up and held it in front of his face.
“Thanks,” Kris muttered.
He adjusted his weight a little to prepare to stand up but the moment he moved a wave of nausea hit him. He took a few deep breaths to keep from vomiting and closed his eye. When he opened it again he could see MJ staring directly at him. He turned his head just in time to see concern on her face. The look of concern was gone instantly and the emotionally void expression returned. Kris sat back into the couch.
“Ok, I’ve just done some intense research on the internet,” AV said, rushing into the room. “It turns out this Shemily person doesn’t know anything! I mean, really, the sister of a doctor? What kind of credentials are those? So what, you shared a bathroom with a future doctor growing up so now you’re qualified to spout off medical advice? No. And that whole ‘keep the person awake all night’ thing is a myth, by the way. After looking at several medical websites I’m thinking we need to get you to a hospital.”
“No, I’m totally fine!” Kris said in the most upbeat voice he could muster. He didn’t want it to be obvious that he was fighting off a wave of nausea at this very moment. If there was one thing Kris hated more than donating his precious universal blood, it was doctors and even more than doctors, hospitals. He hadn’t been to a doctor since his last visit with a pediatrician when he was thirteen. And hospitals? Man, those places gave him the creeps. The smells, the tubes, the lighting… all repulsive. Kris shuddered just thinking about it.
“How many times have you thrown up?” AV asked. “Tori said you vomited once at Café Rio and then twice more on the way home.”
“Well, the one at Café Rio, yes, but the other two were because of Tori’s driving,” Kris said. “She’s a terrible driver….really, really terrible.”
AV looked skeptical. “And are you still feeling nauseous at all?”
“He looked like he was about to throw up just a second ago,” MJ offered up before Kris could lie and say no. He might have been angry with her for making him that much closer to having to go to a hospital but he was so happy to hear her voice actually acknowledging his existence that he forgot the anger and relished in it. His split second hesitation caused AV to switch into high gear.
“Oh dear, ok, that’s it. Here we go….stand up Kris, honey,” she said, putting his arm around her neck in an effort to lift him off the couch. MJ got under his other arm and together they became his crutches. “We are getting you to the hospital right now. No ifs, ands, or buts, mister.”
The sudden movement of standing up was more than Kris could bear and he threw up on Adam’s family room carpet. Luckily his stomach had been almost completely empty but still. Embarrassing.
“Don’t worry about that,” AV said. “I’ll get that. You just concentrate on getting out to the car. Ok. Let’s go. Come on.” AV encouraged and soothed Kris every step until they reached the car. MJ held him up, keeping one arm around his waist in the back and one hand on his abs, but said nothing.
She smells good, Kris thought, just before losing consciousness.
When Kris awoke he was laying on his side on an uncomfortable bed. The buzz of a fluorescent light was buzzing in his ear and the single sheet which covered him was extremely scratchy. He went to rub his eyes and let out a yell. Touching his right eye sent a shooting pain through his entire body.
“What the?” Kris mumbled as he tried to sit up.
“Now, now, just lay back down,” someone said to Kris gently as they pushed down on his shoulder. He recognized the voice as AV’s but couldn’t see her. He rolled over onto his back and saw her standing next to the bed. He looked beyond her and saw MJ sitting in a chair, peering at him over the top of a magazine.
“Hey!” he said, grinning. He was so happy to see her there. Wait, see her where? “Where am I?” Kris asked.
“Scripps Mercy Hospital, sweetie,” AV said. “You blacked out and we brought you here immediately. You’ve been out for about 30 minutes. They had to come and get you out of the minivan with a gurney.”
“Blacked out? What? Why?” Kris was thoroughly confused. At a hospital? Oh no. The last thing he remembers is being in the bathroom at Café Rio. He thought for a minute. Yes. Tori wanted him to do something crazy…he couldn’t really remember what right now. He had then gone in the bathroom and sent a text to…MJ? He couldn’t exactly remember that either. And now he was here in a creepy hospital. It was as if an entire paragraph of his Word document day had been highlighted and then someone pushed the delete button.
Kris felt for his iPhone in his back pocket and slid it out. He propped himself up on one elbow, slid his thumb across the screen to unlock and went to his texts. He looked over at MJ who was looking curiously at him now. Her curious look was adorable, he noted. After his phone opened the text app he touched on MJ’s name. He scrolled up a little to read their latest conversation as he could not, for the life of him, remember where they had left off:
Kris: Ah! Didn’t even consider that problem. I guess I must first choose between your hand, and Tori’s nonsensical tests.
MJ: You probably think you can have both.
Kris: I do have excellent testing skillz. Can text one-handed if necessary.
MJ: Not interested in seeing that demonstrated, thanks.
Kris: K, can I show you how I can put my iPhone in my pocket and just hold your hand?
MJ: Yes, if you want to.
KRIS: Will your hand be available for the holding sometime this evening? My hand’s schedule has been completely cleared and anxiously awaits your reply.
(4 minutes later)
MJ: After checking my hand’s calendar, I am pleased to inform you that it is available for the holding this evening… and forever if you’d like. I’ll see you for lunch in a bit. I can’t stay away.
Kris smiled and looked at MJ. Why was she looking at him like that? The look on her face was not matching the sentiments in these texts at all. His head began to spin and he lay back on the bed.
“Honey,” AV said, “you got punched in the face by some random guy and hit your head on the ground pretty hard. You…don’t remember any of that?”
“Punched? In the face?” Kris asked as his hand went up and gingerly touched his right eye. Well, that explains that. It also explained why this pillow felt like there was a baseball in the middle of it jamming into the back of his head. Ouch.
MJ had gotten up from her chair and was walking over to Kris’ bed just as a nurse came in the room. MJ quickly sat back down. Kris squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed his forehead with one hand while the nurse put a blood pressure cuff around his other arm. He was racking his brain in an attempt to remember anything about getting into a fight. He couldn’t even think of a single person that hated him enough to punch him the face like this. Had he almost gotten mugged? Did someone mistake him for someone else? Was he jumped in the Café Rio bathroom?
“Kris? Kris Allen?” the nurse was saying.
Kris opened his eyes. The nurse was leaning over him and smiling from ear to ear. She looked positively giddy. “Oh my gosh! Kris!!” she was now practically squealing as she bent over him and hugged him as best she could while he was laying prostrate on the bed. Once she was arms length again he got a better look at her.
“Jeni?” he whispered.
“Yes!!! Wow! How are you? I mean, I can see you’re not doing great right now, but I mean, other than this how have you been??” She was talking a mile a minute and it was making Kris’ brain hurt.
“I…I thought you had, uh, moved to Arizona or something?”
“Yeah, I went to nursing school there and now I’m back and working here! I can’t believe this! I didn’t think I’d ever see you again!” Jeni was practically bouncing up and down now.
“I thought you got engaged to some guy named Michael?” Kris asked.
“Oh, right, well, that didn’t exactly work out. It’s a long story really.” Jeni replied. Kris had to admit she looked really good. Her hair was a little shorter than when they had dated but her skin was still flawless and her smile infectious.
“Yeah, no, this is awesome to see you. We should get together sometime…or…something,” Kris stammered because he felt like it was the thing to say.
“Oh my heck, YES!” Jeni said, each word getting higher and higher. “Here, let me give you my new number!” She grabbed Kris’ iPhone out of his hands, and in a matter of seconds went to Contacts and added herself to his phone book. Then, for good measure, added herself to Kris’ Favorites list.
Jeni handed Kris’ phone back to him. “I’ll be back in a minute. I’m going to get my phone so I’ll have your number too!” she said and then left the room pulling the curtain closed behind her. Kris sat stunned for a moment and then looked down at his phone. Now there were two people on his Favorites. MJ and Jeni.
Kris had been so thoroughly confused at the whole not knowing where he was, the not knowing why his right eye wouldn’t open, the general uneasiness he felt even being in a hospital, the seeing some random ex-girlfriend, etc. that he had completely forgotten MJ was sitting just a few feet away. He looked over at her to see what she thought about all of this but she was just sitting there, her head in her hand staring at an empty space on the floor. Kris got the feeling she would rather be anywhere than here right now. She looked tired.
“Huh. That was weird,” Kris said, in a weak attempt to start a conversation with her. MJ just sat back in her chair and stared at him. Kris stared back (with his one eye only, obviously) waiting for her to say something in her usual snarky way. She didn’t. Jeni then came back into the room in a tornado of energy, breaking their line of sight.
“K! What is your number?” she asked while flipping her phone open. Kris recited his number and gave her a half-hearted grin. “Yay! A bunch of people are going down to Tijuana on Friday. Remember my friends Holly, Cami, Dexter and Raj? Anyway, I’ll call you. It’s going to be sooooo fun! Oh, and the doctor will be in in just a minute to look at you. K? K. See ya!” And with that, she was gone.
“Well, she seemed nice,” AV said. She had been standing at the foot of Kris’ bed and now moved back up near his head. “So, I’m just a little concerned that you don’t remember what happened to you.”
“No, no…I totally remember,” Kris stammered. “I was just confused after waking up in a strange place. I got punched by some guy in the bathroom at Café Rio. He, um, thought I was someone else I guess. He apologized, but, you know…” Kris trailed off. He was hoping he sounded convincing enough. A little amnesia after a head injury was enough to get yourself ordered into a CAT scan or an MRI or something. There was no way in ayche-eee-double-hockey-sticks he was going to let that happen. He wanted out of here as soon as possible. He had some things to piece together (i.e. what freaking happened??) and, according to his last text from MJ he had an appointment to hold her hand tonight. There was no way he was going to do anything to mess that up.