But! It's almost done! Just one more chapter after this, which will be set a year or two later. And then bam mofo. A story that's been going down for over two years is freaking finally almost done. Are people even still reading this? I dunno, but I need to finish it, because I want all of my stories to be complete. Soon. Ish.
Warnings: Minor curisng? Maybe? Whatever.
Disclaimer: I don't own School of Rock, or the characters, and I also have no medical knowledge. For all I know, getting metal rods in your legs could be an easy process to rehabillitate from. Also, there's use of the word 'retarded' in here, and I really don't like using that in a negative fashion like I did here. Unfortunately, I feel like that's how Freddy and Zack might talk, so it's in here. Take no offense.
Or do, whatever.
Review if you'd like. Either way, this will have an ending. Eventually.
Three Months Later
Zack and the visiting nurse stared at the blonde, who was currently sitting in his wheelchair in the living room, watching cartoons. The nurse had her coat on, prepared to leave early yet again. She was supposed to come over every other day and help Freddy bathe, go to the bathroom, and anything else he might need to do. She came for six hours a day, and the last hour of each visit was supposed to be rehabilitation and working on Freddy's use of his legs.
But she stood next to Zack, coat and shoes on already and forty-five minutes left of her stay. She'd been leaving early for the past few days.
"I'm sorry, honey, but he's just giving up again," she said softly, watching with sad eyes as Freddy wheeled himself around to fetch his soda from the coffee table. "There's really nothing I can do if he's not willing to try."
And this is why she left early this past week. Freddy had grown sick and tired of the ache in his legs and the way they were too stiff and too weak to move how he wanted, and three days ago he dropped to the floor in the middle of his rehab session and called it quits. Zack tried everything, from persuasion and bribing to firm commandment to downright begging. But Freddy stared up at him with an empty, dull gaze and simply sat there until Zack lifted him back into the wheelchair.
"But… but he's gotta get better, right? I mean, his legs work, he's just – just frustrated!" Zack insisted. The nurse sighed.
"I mean, it could just be a temporarily slump. We've been working hard for three months, but it's taken him a while to get used to the rods in his legs. Maybe if we take a day off-"
"We can't!" Zack protested, wringing his hands together nervously. He glanced over to the stove, where his macaroni and cheese was boiling over. He quickly darted across the small kitchen and shut the burner off, staring down at the cooked pasta like it held all the answers. "If we keep trying, we'll eventually make a little progress, and Freddy will be right back on track!"
He heard the nurse step up behind him, and she placed a hand on his shoulder. "I know this is difficult. I'm going to ask my superior for the day off tomorrow, and maybe having a day for rest will help boost his energy." She gave him one last sad smile before taking her leave. Zack sighed and fixed up the macaroni and cheese, spooning it into two bowls. He looked over at Freddy, who was getting way to used to having a wheelchair.
Zack wanted him out of the damn thing. Why didn't Freddy want to work his way out of the stupid contraption? Did he really want to have to wheel himself around for the rest of his life? What, was the wheelchair going to be present at their college graduation? Their high school reunion?
Okay, that made him cringe, because marriage wasn't Zack's thing. But still. And he couldn't play drums. Zack had thought that would be enough motivation to get his legs back to working condition. But when he held up a pair of drumsticks and gestured to the beloved drum set, Freddy just eyeballed it for a second, shrugged, and wheeled himself off to play video games. Zack had stared at the spot he'd just been in for a good ten minutes. Freddy gave up drumming. Freddy gave up drumming.
Zack stared over at his best friend, determination seeping into his bones as he stepped into the living room. Dinner could wait. "Freddy."
The blonde glanced over his shoulder, an easy smile on his face. "Oh, hey Zack."
"We need to talk." Zack knew Freddy had an idea of what he meant when the blonde's smile fell and he turned back to the television. Zack walked around to stare down at the other man, purposely blocking the T.V.
"Zack, I really don't feel like-"
"You are not giving up."
Freddy closed his eyes and groaned. "Zack. I-"
"You are not giving up on your drumming, you are not giving up on your walking, and you are not giving up on me." He knew he'd struck a chord when Freddy's eyes squeezed tight and his mouth curled into a frown, like he was trying not to cry.
"I can't do it!" Freddy blurted loudly, making Zack jump a little. He waved his hands around wildly, eyes wide and pained. "I can't goddamn do it, Zack! No matter how much I try, or what nurse helps me, I just can't. It hurts, I can't coordinate, I can't even get my knees to bend completely, and I can't put one stupid foot in front of the other! Don't you think I know how much this is destroying my life?" he demanded, tears bubbling at the corners of his eyes and threatening to roll down his cheeks. "Don't you realize how much I hate this? I can't drum, I can't walk, and I can't even hug you without you having to bend down three feet! But I just- I just can't," he moaned, burying his face in his palms, shoulders shaking a little. Zack stared down at him, startled by the outburst but inexplicably relieved that Freddy actually still wanted to walk. He wasn't giving up; he was just wallowing in his lack of success.
"Give me your hands."
Freddy didn't look up. "What?"
Zack held out both of his hands, palms up. "Give me your hands." When Freddy didn't cooperate quickly enough, Zack reached out and gently tugged the blonde's fingers away from his face, interlocking their palms tightly. "Look at me, Freddy. You're not doing this for rehab right now. This is just you, and me, okay?" He softly pulled on Freddy's hands. "Come dance with me."
Freddy's face crumpled. "I can't-"
"Yes, you can. Come on. You can stand on my feet if you have to," Zack said, smiling. The corners of Freddy's mouth quirked up the tiniest bit.
"Like how little kids stand on their dad's feet at weddings?"
"Yep. Now, come on. Try. For me," Zack pleaded, once again tugging on Freddy's hands. Taking a deep breath and scrunching his eyes closed, Freddy wriggled in his chair, and slid both feet heavily to the floor. He glanced up nervously, and Zack smiled and squeezed his hands. "I got you, drummer boy. Come on." The blonde nodded, and slowly, depending highly on Zack's grip and wincing the whole way, pulled himself up, legs almost completely straight and back only slightly hunched over. Freddy's entire body trembled, and his teeth sunk deeply into his bottom lip, but Zack was beaming. Freddy couldn't give up, not now.
"It- it hurts," he whined, and Zack shook off one of Freddy's hands so he could wrap his arm around the blonde's waist tightly. He allowed Freddy to slump against his chest a little, held up mostly by Zack's arm. Making sure the other man was steady, Zack released his other hand and slipped that arm around him, too, engulfing him in a supportive hug. Freddy's hands clawed to grab onto the brunette's shoulders as he shifted his feet slightly, trying to find a more comfortable stance. Once he stopped fidgeting, Zack gently started swaying them back and forth. Freddy hissed at first, because moving his hips required moving his legs a little, but Zack was patient and soon they were rocking back and forth comfortably.
"See? You got this."
"W-well, it's not like the nurses picked me up and danced with me. They just made me walk while holding their hands and stuff."
Zack smiled softly. "How about we do this, instead? Every day, we'll just… dance for a while, and eventually start moving around the room, and one day we'll waltz all over the apartment."
Freddy snorted a giggle. "We can't waltz, dude. We can barely even dance, remember?"
"Well, then we'll try to waltz. Maybe when your legs aren't so retarded, we can take some lessons," he teased, and Freddy unclenched one hand to smack him upside the head. But the blonde was grinning, genuinely smiling for the first time in weeks.
"Maybe when your face isn't so retarded, we can go out in public together without any embarrassment." Not wanting to smack at the injured blonde, Zack settled for leaning over and licking a sloppy, slobbery stripe up his cheek. Freddy recoiled immediately, letting his other hand go to wipe dramatically at it. "Ugh, gross! Great, now I have your disgusting germs all over me!"
"Not all over you."
Freddy smirked. "Wanna change that?"
"Don't you have homework to do? I know your online courses require homework; I checked the website." Freddy scowled.
"Geez, you're just like a mom. It's all, use your legs and do your homework," he mocked in a nasally voice, rolling his eyes.
"I know, what nerve I have. Telling you to do things you're supposed to do," Zack agreed, pulling away slightly. "Now, let's get you back into your chair and get your damn homework done so you don't flunk out." He was about to lower the blonde back into the wheelchair, when Freddy placed both hands on his chest.
"Wait. Um. Wait," he protested quietly, goofy smile faded and eyes glued to Zack's shirt. "I, uh. Can we- can we keep doing this? For a little, and then I'll do my homework. I just- I like this," he admitted, cheeks flushing a little. Zack's eyes widened in surprise. Just a while ago, Freddy was ready to give up standing, walking, dancing, the whole lot. But now…
Well, why would Zack give up the chance to dance with him some more? "Sure," he said softly, smiling and slipping his arms back around Freddy's waist. They started teetering back and forth again, and Zack beamed when he felt Freddy's feet contributing to the motion.
"I. I won't give up. For you, okay? I won't give up," Freddy muttered, eyes closed and forehead pressed to Zack's. The brunette felt his chest swell up and he bit back a smile, although the corners of his mouth curved up. Instead of answering with praise, or a cheesy comment, or even an I love you, he leaned forward, nosed Freddy's face up, and pressed their mouths together softly, conveying everything he could say.
And they kept dancing.