AUTHOR'S NOTE: I apologize for not updating this story in, wow, nearly 3 years. Life has been so hectic and, to be quite honest, I was discouraged with writing in general. I went to college, did a lot of work for the school's magazine as an Editor-in-Chief, and lost interest in writing due to the many assignments I had already. I also had other major life changes going on besides college. But, the encouraging feedback on my story, and the comments about wanting me to continue (and yes, I agree it's so bad of me to stop there! EEK!) really woke me up, so I decided to conclude the story. Granted, this is probably not the best ending I could've come up with, but I wanted closure for Chris and Gordie. This is the first time writing for fun that I've done in many years, so it did feel good to pump this out. I hope you all appreciate it, and THANK YOU for all the encouragement. Without you guys I probably never would've finished it, lol. Without further, ado, here's the end to NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST:

Everything about the hospital reminded him of the night Denny died: the cracked, white walls stained with yellow; how the waiting room made him feel claustrophobic, surrounded by a constant flux of ailments, moans and cries. On the night of Denny's car wreck, a redheaded lady wearing curlers sat next to him, sobbing as she waved around a burnt finger, moaning about how she "should've known better than to pick up that damn scorchin' curler". And he'd felt like shaking her, wanted to scream that his brother had just gotten rammed by a drunk driver, that there were more serious problems than her blistered pinkie, so what the hell was she griping about? He felt that way now except there was no one to yell at, no bitching lady to take his frustrations out on. Teddy and Vern had left hours ago, their faces ashen and grim. It was already 2 AM and the cops had exhausted all their questions hours ago, leaving Gordie to sit between his parents, his legs twitching nervously.

"Do you want me to run home and grab a pair of pajamas for you, Gordie?" his mom offered quietly. "We might be here a while longer."

"No. I'm fine. I don't want to leave."

"We could always run home, get your stuff and come back...," Mr. LaChance trailed off. He was silenced by Gordie's curt nod and distant stare, and if were any other night, Gordie would've been floored that his father was willing to listen, willing to care. But all he had on his mind was Chris.

A grey-haired doctor with a bushy mustache veered around the corner, white coattails flying behind him. He stopped short by Gordie, nearly falling over himself.

"You Gordie LaChance?"

Gordie sprung up, heart pounding furiously, his stomach sick. 'Oh no, this is it. This is where the bad news comes.'

"Yeah, that's me."

"Your friend Chris asked for you. Told me you'd be the only one out here in a suit. He's waiting in room 105."

Gordie felt sick, the culmination of all his anxieties, and now relief, coming to a head from those words, but he managed to squeak: "I can go in there? He's really ok?"

The doctor smiled, the corners of his lips meeting the ends of his mustache. "He's really ok. Thankfully the surgeon was able to stitch up the wound. The knife missed any major arteries. Chris should consider himself a very lucky guy. Go on...go see him. He only has time for a five minute visit before the medication kicks in!"

Gordie's legs floated as he made his way to room 105. When he got inside, he was struck by how small Chris looked on that big white bed, enveloped in starchy white sheets, his face tiny and pale. Chris had always seemed so strong, but now his green eyes were vulnerable.

"Hey man," Gordie said shakily when Chris' eyes turned up to him.

"Hey, Gordie. Guess it's been a helluva night, huh?"

"You can say that again."

"Not really how I wanted to start my weekend," Chris joked.

"Yeah, well at least you lived to see it. Chris, you didn't have to take the knife for me."

Chris' eyes clouded over. "So I should've just let Ace kill you? Yeah right, Gordie, no way."

He reclined back against his pillow, his frown slackening from the onset of his painkillers. "Things have really changed a lot this year, haven't they?" he said softly.

"No," Gordie said firmly. "I'm still the same old Gordie, the kid with the too tight pants and the sissy voice. And you're the same old Chris, the beefy kid who's willing to take a knife for his friends. And the sissy kid's always gonna need those types around."

Chris laughed, although it pained him to do so; he winced and held on to his ribs. "Dammit Gordie, don't make me laugh again. So what happened to those Cobra assholes? I hope the fuzz got 'em."

"They took off like a bunch of pansies. Officer McDonough's gonna be showing up to your house soon to ask some questions."

"Cops at my house. What a shock. And how's Sara?"

"Don't know. The cops brought her home. She was crying hysterically when I left her." The thought of her tear-streaked face, rivulets of mascara falling down her smooth cheeks and neck, brought a pit of longing into his stomach.

"Gordie, Sara's a good girl. I want you to know that. I guess I was just pissed at her for taking you away from us. But if there's anyone I'd want you to have, it'd be her. She's smart. She's going places."

"Thanks, man," he said, a smile finally cracking his somber face.

"I need sleep, Gord," Chris said, his voice becoming weaker as he talked, his heavy eyelids shutting. "Just remember what I said. I'll always be there to take that knife for you. I'll see to that."

"Not if I see you first," Gordie whispered, but Chris was already sleeping, his lips slack and content.