A/N: Well, here you go: The final chapter. I'm still revamping a lot of parts in previous chapters, so it's not like I'm just forgetting about this fanfic… sigh… I wish I could though, having so many things to work on as it is. Thanks for your reviews, for the umpteenth time. I just can't thank you all enough. (even though I do it in like… every chapter, heheh)And so, I say… THANKYOU… And If I named all of you, it'd take a while. I'm just a little concerned that I might've made them (Rudy and Penny) feel a little too strongly about the other. I mean, they're still clueless 'tweens. But hey, it's not like a lemon or anything, right?! ...Urm… Oh god, bad mental images… Bad, bad mental images. I've broken my own brain, and it's very painful…
Chapter 10 – Zoned Out
Rudy opened his eyes slowly, taking a moment to observe his surroundings. He snapped fully awake when he realized where he was.
Or rather, when he realized that he didn't know where he was.
It looked exactly like blank and empty space. Onyx hues for miles around, with little twinkling balls of light in the distance. Stars? Major weirdness. He sat straight up, not quite knowing what exactly was going on. All that he could remember- a large, metal creature with glowing blue-ish white eyes rampaging towards him… that was when he'd forcefully shoved his friend away from him, the only thing he could find the strength to do while she only cowered in fear.
…Penny. Was she okay?
He strained to remember. He'd woken up sometime after that, he recalled. Snap and Penny were huddled over him, gazing down at him with worried eyes. They both had looked fine at the time. But that still didn't explain why he was floating in space.
But back to more important matters. Had Penny and Snap made it out of the Dome of the Future? Had they made it out alive? And had they held his funeral yet?
Janice, a young nurse, passed by Room 32A for the third time in twenty minutes. The boy in the bed was in a coma. According to the girl by his side, the only witness when he'd been injured, it'd been from a "terrible bicycling accident". Unfortunately, she had refused to say anymore, and Janice doubted that it was really the case. The boy had lost so much blood so fast, and his injuries were unlike that of any bicycling accident results the hospital had ever seen.
He'd been in a coma for nearly two hours. She'd been there at his side for every second of every minute of those two hours. She looked so solemn and somber, sitting there, eyes constantly wide and alert, skipping a breath every time the heart monitor missed a beat. Of course, it would always get back to normal shortly afterwards, and she'd let loose the air built up inside of her in massive relief. Janice couldn't bear to watch any longer. She walked inside (for the door was ajar) and walked on over to the girl. She was Hispanic, with dark auburn hair that was almost brown. The first thing she noticed, however, were the girl's large red glasses. Yeah, they usually acted as a fair trait to distinguish her by.
"Hey," The nurse greeted. "You okay? You've been sitting here for 2 hours."
It took Penny a moment to comprehend that someone was even speaking to her. "I'm fine." She replied at last, not taking her eyes off of the hospital bed.
Janice took a seat in the chair next to Penny's. "If you took a break, I'd contact you as soon as he wakes up. I promise."
Penny lowered her head for a moment, keeping her gaze on Rudy's still form. He was still unmoving, as he had been for the past two and a half hours. But at least he was alive, as the heart monitors indicated. "I'm… I'm just afraid that… He might not wake up."
Janice's associate, Ms. Winston, motioned for her from behind the door. They needed to tend to another patient. And so, the nurse rose to her feet once again, and briefly laid a hand on the girl's shoulder. "It'll be okay…" She whispered, before walking away.
Penny glanced up for the first time in those two hours as Janice left the room. There was no one around anymore. Sure, there was an occasional doctor or nurse roaming about the halls outside, but other than that, no one was paying any attention to them. Rudy had been given all the help he'd get. They were currently replacing all of the blood he'd lost (Luckily Penny had known his blood type).
The tears stung at her eyes. "Oh, Rudy."
"Oh, Rudy." Rudy's head shot upright, as he searched for the origin of the voice. It was familiar, indeed.
"Hello?" He glanced around urgently, trying to find whoever it was who'd called him by name. "Anyone?" He strained harder, looking in all directions, but still no luck. It was just a disembodied voice from nowhere.
"You've got to be alive, Rudy. You can't be gone… You just can't!"
Who was that calling him!? He ran through the mental list of people he knew. The first name that came to mind matched up with the voice, and he wondered why he hadn't figured it out earlier. It was Penny. But where was she? She sounded nearby. "Penny? Where are you?"
Penny's eyes quickly shot open. Rudy. He was mumbling in his sleep. And she was positive she'd heard her name. "Rudy? If you can hear me, I just want to say… I'm sorry for getting you into this." She didn't know why she was talking to someone who was clearly unconscious, especially since he'd obviously have no way of hearing her. He was probably off in his own little dreamland, not accepting the invitation back to reality. Hmm… It reminded her of Mr. Wilter's class earlier that week. Rudy was always in another dimension. She would've giggled at the thought had the situation been a little different.
"Rudy? If you can hear me, I just want to say… I'm sorry for getting you into this." Yes, it was most definitely Penny. But where on Earth were they? And where was SHE? Rudy blinked, unsure.
The boy was twitching. Penny watched him, hopefully. He was alive. Maybe not conscious, but alive. She had to see it for herself. Maybe the active heart monitors gave her shreds of hope, but it was nothing like watching him move, for real. Maybe he'd even wake up. "Rudy! Wake up, Rudy!" She found herself pleading. She had a strange feeling he could hear her, but she wanted to make sure.
'Wake… up?' Rudy was baffled. 'Is this a dream? If so… where am I dreaming it? Have I dozed off again in Mr. Wilter's class? Was Penny's capture… and the dome of the future… And the Ksuyan… were they all part of this dream?'
"You're at the hospital." Penny told him. He flinched at the sound of her voice, and then he'd start moving a bit, he obviously heard what she was saying. Maybe he was just confused. "You were just hit by the Ksuyan. Skrawl and the Craniacs got away. We're in the real world."
'All of that… It really happened? And I'm… actually alive?' He was shocked to hear this. He wanted to say something to her, but he couldn't, for suddenly he found himself unable to speak. Besides, if he just stayed quiet, maybe she'd keep answering his questions.
"I hope you can hear me, Rudy… If you can… Please wake up… Please…"
Rudy now knew all of what was going on. He was asleep, or in a coma, at the hospital. In the real world. Penny was okay. But he just couldn't wake up. He tried to open his eyes, but in the alternate void he was trapped in, the only eyes he had were already open.
"Try, Rudy. You can do it." Back in the real world, Penny grabbed his hand between both of her own, watching his face for any sign of motion.
There was a pang, and suddenly, the world was back in color, and he could see Penny sitting before him…
And she saw his eyes open.
"Rudy! You're awake!" She exclaimed, excitedly, just as the boy moaned in pain. He was out of his coma, but it also introduced all of his real-world injuries.
"Hey, Penny." He murmured. His eyesight was still a little blurry, but at least he could actually see again. "I'm… glad you're okay."
"You're glad I'M okay?!" Penny looked almost angry at him for the thought. "You get yourself crushed by the Ksuyan to protect me, get suffocated by an angry jellybean bent on revenge, nearly bleed to death, and now, after awakening of a two and a half hour coma, you hope I'm the one who's okay?"
He gave a feeble nod, shrinking back into his pillow a little after watching her erupt.
She froze, suddenly upset at herself. "I'm sorry, Rudy." She finally murmured. "For everything. It's all my fault. I went into ChalkZone to see if you were okay and as a result, you barely made it out with your life."
Rudy nodded automatically- before he took in everything she said. "Wait… Wait a minute!" He huffed, eyes wide. "You came to ChalkZone to see if I was okay?"
"Yes! You've been acting so strangely lately… no offense or anything… and I knew you'd tell Snap, so… I went off to ask him about it. That's when Skrawl grabbed me from behind." Penny sighed, staring down at the floor. "Rudy? Was it really bad enough to start this whole chain reaction?" She asked him at last, voice small.
"Yes!" She interrupted. "You zoned out in class every day! You already owed five detentions by Tuesday! Of course I was worried about you!"
They both fell silent for a moment. The beeping of the heart monitor was the only sound coming from the room, other than the hustle and bustle of the doctors and nurses outside in the halls and the neighboring hospital rooms.
Rudy blinked, somewhat guiltily. "Then, it's actually all my fault."
"That's ridiculous!" She nearly snapped. "How can you blame yourself? You're the one in the hospital bed! If it's anyone's fault, it should be mine, bec-"
Rudy cut her off, grabbing her arm urgently. "Why are we arguing over something so stupid?" He asked, quietly. "We shouldn't go pointing the blame at ourselves… Okay, it happened. So what? I'll be out of the hospital by tomorrow."
"Make it next week." Penny corrected him.
The boy sighed. "Whatever… I'm just sorry that I made you worry about me, Penny. It was really nothing. I mean, heh-heh, nothing. Hardly anything at all!"
Penny smirked at him, hands on her hips. "You wouldn't mind telling me, then."
"NO!" He blurted abruptly, suddenly clutching the covers to his chest by automatic instinct. Penny, who was expecting a negative response but not one so LOUD, took a step backwards, alarmed.
"Calm down there, Rudy. You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."
The nurse, Janice, heard the noise outside, and poked her head inside for a moment to see what was going on. She smiled. The boy was awake, and both were talking. What a relief. "Hey, uh, kids." She interrupted. She couldn't help herself. But she had a message to deliver, anyway. "Your parents want to see you, Rudy." She knew his name, as he was the patient. "Should I let them in?"
Penny and Rudy looked at each other silently. Penny shrugged. "I'll leave, if you want me to. You know… incase you want to be alone with your parents… Or vice versa…"
Rudy shook his head. "Let them in a few minutes from now, okay, nurse?" He requested. "I need a bit more time."
Janice, sensing he was well enough to be left on his own, walked out of the room and closed the door behind her.
"What is it, Rudy? Your parents are probably very worried." Penny acknowledged.
Rudy glanced up at her, running a billion thoughts over in his head. He knew the next time he'd see Snap, the drawing would ask him the dreaded question. And it only reminded him… he still had to tell her.
He drew in a deep breath, eyes closed, wondering about her response… and for some reason, he just couldn't say it. He exhaled slowly, cursing himself mentally. "Rudy?" She asked, quietly, wondering what he had to say.
"Penny… uh… You know… I don't know how to say this, but… I mean, it's really… I mean, I… I…"
The girl looked on over his shoulder patiently, waiting… Well, patiently, no. 'What, what, what?!' She could come up with a thousand possible worse case scenarios, each worse than the last. She knew what she wanted him to say, but he refused to say it, and the anxiety was driving her mad.
He closed his mouth, unable of confessing, unknowing of what to say. His eyes rested on his bedcovers, and he sighed, disgruntled.
"This isn't easy." He mumbled.
"Rudy! Come on, Rudy. Whatever it is, I won't laugh. I won't tell anyone. Come on, please?" She looked up at him hopefully, about ready to pout. The boy was unsure of how to phrase his confession, 'cause it was having a hard time coming out.
"It's not that… I don't think you'd laugh." Rudy explained, painfully. Gathering up his courage again, he opened his mouth, but before any sound even passed through his lips, he closed it again. 'Maybe Snap was right. Maybe I'll never get it out without his help.'
"Just tell me. Please." Penny begged. She wasn't used to begging from Rudy. He'd usually take her suggestions. Come to think of it…
He looked up at her, and in his eyes, Penny could see exactly what is was he wanted to say…
…And she smiled. "Oh, Rudy, is that all?" It was easier to read his eyes than it was his thoughts. It was amazing how much you could learn from green dots on the front of someone's head.
Rudy stared up at her, amazed. Had she really read him that fast? Had she read him correctly? He sat up in bed, unsure. 'Does she know?' He looked at her eyes for confirmation. She was blushing, indeed, trying to avoid eye contact. She seemed halfway between flattered and nervous. Now, he'd been dragged along to enough romance movies to know what this meant. 'Oh… yeah. She knows.' He felt himself blush from the very thought, but he hoped it wasn't too visible.
"Is it true, Rudy? Come on, say it." She said it quietly, but to his ears, it sounded like a command.
"Yes." He murmured, silently, looking away. Of course, he was still a bit distracted from the wires in his right arm. He glanced down at them, for the first time, feeling a bit squirmish.
"Say it." She persisted. "I… want to make sure we're talking about the same thing."
And when Rudy finally confessed, it was said in an exhale, without even taking a deep, preparatory breath before it. He glanced down at the floor, suddenly finding it easier to say if he didn't make eye contact. "I love you." He finally admitted, his voice somewhat of a whisper, staring down at the carpeted ground.
She saw it coming, but it shocked her all the same, and she wanted to know if she was hearing correctly. "Excuse me?"
'Again?!' He thought desperately. "I. Love. You. Penny. Sanchez." He said slowly, not annoyed, just exhausted. She already knew. "I'm just… sorry I didn't tell you earlier. Then we never would've gotten into this mess."
He closed his eyes again, falling back into the pillow, clenching his eyes shut. 'I just said it. She knows. Oh god, she knows.'
"I love you, too."
He opened one eye. "Wha-? Say that again?"
Penny sighed. "I. Love. You. Rudy. Tabootie." She repeated, almost mocking his tone of voice from when he had said it. She couldn't help it. She even laughed nervously, wondering how he'd take it. "I mean… Y-yes. I… Yes."
Rudy sat up again, staring at her incredulously. "R-Really?" He asked again.
Penny rolled her eyes, smiling widely. "But of course. Do you think I'd lie to you?"
"Well…" He pretended to be deep in thought for a moment, but the hurt look in her eyes threw him off. "I'm kidding! I'm kidding!" He assured her, throwing his arms up in front of him.
There was an awkward silence as they both stared at the other, thinking the same thing, but simultaneously fearing it.
"Penny…?" He looked to her questioningly. She nodded.
Janice walked to Room 32A, with aims to check on Rudy. His parents were starting to become worried, impatient to see their son. And so, she opened the door, casually glancing down at her clipboard.
"Rudy? Your parents are-"
She gasped, nearly dropping her clipboard at the sight. The boy had his left arm snaked around the girl's neck, and she in turn was holding him around the rib cage, careful as to not irritate his injuries. And, finally, both were joined at the lips, eyes closed, looking completely at peace. Now, poor Janice had never before had she seen such a situation between kids so young. Teenagers, sometimes, but…
Rudy and Penny, sensing something was wrong, quickly pulled away from each other, took a look towards the nurse, and, blushing immensely, quickly looked in opposite directions. "Uh…" Janice took a step backwards. "Well, Rudy… um… Should I tell your parents to wait a few more minutes?"
About four hours later, in ChalkZone, Snap tried to calm himself as he made his way to Rapsheeba's front door. Thanks to Rudy's portable chalkboard (which, upon his request, his parents had brought to the hospital), he had been able to talk to them both (in secrecy, of course). Now that Rudy had fessed up… Snap was facing his own dilemma.
He'd taunted Rudy day and night about his infatuation with his best friend, when, in reality, Snap found it difficult to do the exact same thing to his crush.
"Okay, here goes the plan." He told himself. "Knock on door. Say something. Wait for her to say something. Say something else. Wait for her to say something. Repeat as nessecary." He smiled to himself. "I can remember that."
But as he stood on her doorstep, he couldn't even remember step number one. Luckily, Rapsheeba had seen him coming from her view through her window, and so, she made her way over to the door and opened it.
"Hi there, Snap. How are the creators doing?" She asked, her voice lined with concern.
"Rudy's just fine! And Penny too. They're both great! Rudy'll be back in a week or so." Snap blabbed. 'Stick to plan.' He reminded himself.
"Well, that's just great. What do you need?" Rapsheeba asked, leaning against the pane of her door, smiling. Snap couldn't find his voice. He tried to remember why he HAD come over, but… nothing turned up.
"Gee… heheh… I don't remember." He wondered how stupid he sounded as he said it.
She raised a brow, not expecting this, apparently.
"WAIT! Oh yeah! I just wanted to thank you. You know, for saving our lives." Snap silently thanked the ChalkLord as he started to recall the dialogue in his carefully planned-out conversation with Rapsheeba. "So, uh… thanks." And with that, he protruded an expertly-arranged bouquet of ChalkFlowers out from behind his back. Two-lips, Taffydils, Lie Lacks and all kinds of things he'd found growing around ChalkZone. Rapsheeba gasped, taking them from his arms carefully. "Why, Snap! They're beautiful!" She fingered them gently, smiling gratefully. "Thank you!"
Snap flushed deeply – "Glad you like them, Queen!" – and took a step back, one foot behind the other, a little shy (which, you have to realize, is a big change for Snap). "Well, um… It's a Thursday. Wanna head down to the Fireplug Ballet? They're about to start!"
Rapsheeba took a moment to think. She typically had a busy schedule, but most of the Zoners were still out-of-whack from the assault on the dome anyway. She could take some time off. "Of course! Wouldn't miss it." And she tagged along at his side as he sprinted off to old NightZone Park.
OKAY, NOW IT'S THE END.
A/N – Use your imagination. ^^;