A/N: Firstly, I'd like to apologize for the long wait. It's been a rough couple of months with exams, work and some personal stuff. I haven't been writing as much as I wanted but I really tried with this one. I know I said I would try to work on a longer chapter, but that just didn't happen. Sorry. I think this is actually like a hundred words shorter than the one before. But it just felt so natural to end it here, so I hope you will go with it.
Secondly, I'm sorry if this seems at all rushed. I don't have a beta, and sometimes it's difficult to see your own mistakes. I just wanted to get this out to you. I'll probably look it through later for any huge mistakes. As always, let me know what you think!
As if it wasn't embarrassing enough to get drunk at a stupid underage party (how the hell they explained that when the ambulance came by is a mystery to her) it gets even worse when she wakes up in an all white room, machines beeping beside her and an IV plugged into her arm and the first person she sees is Peter. Her aunt's husband's (she can't get herself to call him uncle) brother. She groans. Literally groans. He turns to her in a second, concerned eyes searching her face.
"Hey," he says in a soft voice and he's smiling, which is warm and nice. "How are you feeling?"
She looks around the hospital room and her eyes finally stop at the IV. As if reading her mind, Peter nods at it and says, "IV was just to sober you up."
"Why am I here?" she asks, because as far as she remembers she wasn't hurt that badly. This makes her remember her hand and she looks down and is surprised to see it wrapped in gaze and presumably all stitched up. How did she not wake up until now?
"You were pretty out of it when we arrived at the house. Great party, by the way, so sorry the police had to break it up."
She can tell by the roll of her eyes that he doesn't mean it one bit. She sinks further down in the bed in embarrassment. Brody is never going to talk to her again, but then again, she's not so sure she wants anything to do with him after last night either.
"Normally, I wouldn't have recommended admitting you for observation, but I know my brother. The hospital was a much better choice to sleep it out."
"What time is it?"
He glances at his watch. "Almost five. In the morning. You've been out a couple of hours."
She looks up at him, trying to calculate how long she's been here but she has no idea how late it was at the party and it hurts her head too much to think about.
"What were you even doing there?"
He chuckles at that and it somehow annoys her, as if it's some big joke that she doesn't understand.
"I'm a paramedic."
Her eyes immediately look him up and down, but there's no uniform.
"My shift ended a couple of hours ago. I figured I'd stay with you so I could explain what happened," he offers as an explanation and she realizes she's been staring at him just a little too long.
She blushes and turns her head, hopes he doesn't notice.
"Your hand and most of your clothes were covered in blood. No serious damage was done to your hand, so you were lucky. It needed stitches, but you'll be fine. It'll probably just hurt for a while."
She's still wearing the bloody clothes and she can't wait to get it changed. Looking at the window, she sees her own reflection. She can't help but wonder what her parents would say to this whole mess. Her dad would get pissed. Like, seriously full on yelling and grounding her for eternity, threaten to lock her in her room. She would yell right back at him, tell him that she's almost an adult (you're still just a kid, he would argue) and that she doesn't need him to take care of her, though secretly she loves to see how much he cares. Her mother wouldn't yell. She never really did, but she would look at her with these disappointed eyes, but then she would tell her that she loves her and hug her and they'd be okay. She can see it all in her head, plays out the scenery. She misses the yelling. Misses the disappointed eyes. She would give everything to get it back.
Peter clears his throat. For a moment she forgot he was even there, but she turns her eyes back to him. He's scratching the back of his neck, head slightly bowed as he looks at his shoes. "I'll take you home when you're feeling ready."
"Uh." He looks up at her. "Don't you want to go home?"
She shakes her head, "that's not what I meant. Why are you taking me home?" At this, he only seems to grow more confused and it's getting awkward pretty fast. "I mean, why aren't Heidi even here? Isn't it standard procedure to call the pa-" she stops herself, but they both know what she was about to say. She swallows, "family."
"Nothing's really standard about this. I told them I'm your family so they let me deal with this." He looks kind sheepish as he adds the last part, "I didn't actually call Heidi. Or Nathan."
She frowns. "But you're not."
"My family," she clarifies.
He shrugs, and she can see that he seems a little confused.
"My brother's married to your aunt which makes you his niece. So, technically, he's your family, and I'm his family so…"
Her eyebrow goes up and she crosses her arms.
"But obviously you don't care about technicalities. Would you rather I just call them now?"
He digs out his phone and she knows a challenge when she sees one. They both know what will happen if he calls them and while she's not completely sure they'll be happy to see her arriving with Peter, it's better than them picking her up in the hospital.
Suddenly, her eyes grow wide. "Oh, my god. I never made it home last night! Heidi must be freaking out." She looks around frantically, ignoring the shots of pain going through her hand. "Where's my phone?"
Peter moves forward, his hand disappearing into his pocket and pulling out her phone. He hands it to her and she's only a little confused as to why he had it in his pocket and he just shrugs and mumbles something about not forgetting it anywhere, but she's too focused on checking her messages to really listen.
There are none. Zero. Nothing at all. Not even from any of her friends.
"I don't think they've noticed yet."
Peter grins. "Great. That gives us more time to get your home."
"I don't get you," she says suddenly. He tilts his head slightly to the side and looks at her expectantly. "I mean, I got drunk at an underage party and cut my hand. Aren't you supposed to give me a lecture or anything? Get mad, yell, something like that."
He begins to laugh and if it wasn't because her head was hurting and her hand was throbbing, she would probably realize just how nice a sound that was. "Would you like me to?"
"Well, no. But I don't understand."
"The way I see it, ending up in here is punishment enough. Of course, I don't think Heidi or Nathan will think the same, but I think you understand you were lucky and it could have ended much worse."
She looks at him and just doesn't know what to think. He keeps surprising her and she has no idea why he's doing this for her. He's helping her and she didn't even ask for it.
She doesn't know how to reply and he seems to get that, so he just squeezes her shoulder and smiles.
"I'll go get you signed out so we can leave."
When she's alone, she looks down at her phone again. It's nearing six o'clock and she doesn't know when Heidi and Nathan will get up. It doesn't really bother her that none of her friends have texted her, but the fact that her aunt hasn't even noticed she's not home kind of bothers her. Her parents would have noticed. They always noticed. They always knew where she was and they were always there when she needed them. She doesn't realize she's crying until tears are falling onto her phone and she throws it away, feeling it land by her feet. Tears turn into sobs and sobs turns into her not breathing, because she just can't.
She wants her mom to hold her hand and tell her everything will be okay. She wants her dad to comfort her and promise that she'll always be his little girl.
Peter walks back in and she looks up at him, but doesn't stop crying. It's the first time she's cried in front of others, if you don't count in last night when she was drunk. If he's shocked, he doesn't show it, his features soft as he moves towards her. Neither of them says anything as he climbs on the bed, wraps his arms around her and holds her close. She cries and he strokes her hair. They just sit there and suddenly, she feels like she can breathe again. She feels herself calm with the feeling of his arms around her. She's able to take a deep breath and his arms loosen a little. She doesn't know how he did it, but she feels okay. She feels alive. And that's the first time she's done that in a long time.