This is the final chapter you guys. Thanks for reading it :) I hope you like my ending!
The jolt back to my body hurt like hell. The searing pain in my stomach blazed like a forest fire. I almost blacked out again from the sheer pain of it all but I managed to stay awake.
I lay in a hospital room, on a very uncomfortable bed. When I moved my arms I felt the tug of resistance on my IVs. I was wearing one of those papery hospital gowns and I lifted it up to see my stomach, where a huge pad of gauze covered my wound. I lay back onto the bed, and sighed. I was all alone, when I wanted desperately to be by Clare.
The door to my room suddenly squeaked open and I sat up, alert with anticipation. But I saw no golden curls and worried blue eyes enter, just a bustling nurse with a clipboard.
"Oh you're awake! Good, you're friends will be happy to hear that." The nurse smiled warmly at me and hustled over to check on my various IVs and monitors.
"Are they still here? Can they come in?" I was eager to see Clare and Adam. I wanted them to know I was okay, that I'd be fine.
The nurse bit her lip and eyed me wearily, clearly trying to gauge if I had the strength to see visitors. I tried to look perfectly fine and I guess I passed her test because she said, "Sure hun, I'll go get them now."
The nurse left and I waited. A couple of minutes later, my door opened again and there they were. Clare was still very pale and she looked dead on her feet. Exhaustion filled her eyes but they couldn't block out the excitement at seeing me awake. Adam too wore a mixed expression of weariness and delight.
"Hey man!" he said and gripped my hand briefly. I didn't see him as a miserable wife or a young eighteen year old with no hope. I saw him as my twenty something year old best man. I smiled at him.
"Hey dude," I said, but I turned my eyes to look over at Clare who stood in the back of the room.
"Hey," I said softly to her. She looked away from me, her eyes brimming with tears.
"Clare?" I tried to sit up but I let out a gasp as the pain flared inside me again. At my intake of breath, Clare took an automatic step forward but I held up my hand to stop her.
"I'm fine," I wheezed. "I'm okay."
"I...I can't do this," Clare whispered, "I can't s-see you like this." She was backing away as she spoke.
"Adam," I said, my eyes never shifting from Clare's. "Can you give us some time alone?"
Adam nodded and scurried out of the room and shut the door behind him. It was just Clare and I now.
"Why did you have to do this?" Clare murmured, tears falling fat and fast down her cheeks. "Why do you have to cause so much trouble?" Then she was sobbing and lurched towards me. I caught her with my arms and despite the pain that bubbled up, I held on to her for dear life.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry Clare," I cried. Her tears trickled down my neck as mine plopped down into her curls. We sat there and cried for a long time.
"I was so scared," Clare whispered, awhile later. She was curled up next to me on the bed, my arms still tight around her.
"I'm sorry I scared you," I apologized again. I brushed one of her golden tendrils out of her face. She looked up at me, her eyes dry but red-rimmed.
"Please, don't do stuff like that anymore Eli. I-I know you don't like to back down when people mess with you but please don't ever take it this far again. I can't, I can't be with you if you do," she said. Her eyes dropped from mine as she huddled closer to me.
I lifted her chin and then picked up her hand and pressed her fingertips to my lips. "I promise you, that I will never, ever do something like that again. You're too important to me and I don't want to lose you. You're all that matters Clare Edwards. Got that?" I smirked. Clare smiled and whispered something. My heart began to beat faster.
"What did you say?" I asked breathlessly.
Clare's eyes stared straight into mine, her smile opening as she said, "I love you."
I pressed my lips against hers and said against them, "I love you too." We sat next to each other for hours, talking, kissing, and just being together. Finally, Clare rolled out of my arms and got off the bed.
"I have to go. My parents will freak if I'm not home soon," Clare explained apologetically.
"That's fine, I'll see you tomorrow?" I asked.
Clare grinned, "Of course." She leaned over and kissed my forehead. Her fingers grazed my cheek and when she pulled away, they were still there. I caught her hand in mine and squeezed it, before letting go.
She gave me another quick smile and then began to leave the room before I shouted after her.
"Hey Clare? You still love me right?"
Clare turned back to me, confusion on her face as she stared at me. I raised an eyebrow and she gave me a weird look before saying, "I do."
Clare didn't know that in a couple of years, she'd be saying that exact same phrase.
"I do too," I said, and then Clare was gone and I...I was finally at peace with myself.
I was released from the hospital a week later. The doctors told me I had to take it easy for the next couple of days, which I did with Clare and Adam by my side. I never told them about what I'd experienced when I'd been unconscious, I knew they would just think I was crazy.
The doctors told me I also wasn't allowed to drive Morty around for at least a month, which caused me to go a little stir-crazy; especially with where I desperately wanted to go. So I waited, quite impatiently, for a month to go by. When it did, I told Adam and Clare I had plans and left.
It was a half an hour drive before I pulled into the parking lot. I'd never done this before so I was uneasy walking into the building. I walked up to the front desk and asked if I could speak to Mark Fitzgerald. The cop behind the desk gave me the once-over before shrugging and pointing towards a door I could go through. I thanked him and made my way through the door. There were small booths with a glass partitions between them. A cop asked me to fill out some forms and I did before I sat down at one of the booths. I waited for Fitz to come out.
He did wearing a bright orange jumpsuit. He didn't look good, and one of his eyes was black and blue. He stopped in his tracks when he saw I was waiting for him. The guard behind him pushed him forward a little and Fitz slowly sat down across from me. I picked up the phone and Fitz did the same.
"What do you want?" Fitz asked immediately. His voice was still burly and rude.
"I wanted to say I'm sorry," I said simply. Fitz stared at me, his brow furrowed.
"Why the hell are you apologizing to me?" Fitz snapped.
"Because I need to. I pushed our fight too far and I shouldn't have done that, and I...know about your dad," I said hesitantly. This was the first time I'd voiced my thoughts on what had happened when my heart had briefly stopped. I didn't know if I was right and I waited with bated breath for Fitz to answer.
Fitz's eyes narrowed. "Fuck you," he snarled and made to hang up the phone.
"Wait!" I pleaded. Fitz stopped and slowly put the phone back to his ear.
"What?" he asked angrily.
"I'm just here to say, I don't hold you responsible for what happened to me. I blame myself and I just wanted you to know that," I said.
"You're a dumbass, emo boy," Fitz said. "You know that? What kind of idiot apologizes to the guy who stabs him?"
"A dumbass emo boy apparently," I said wryly and Fitz smirked.
"Thanks," he said after a moment. His eyes glanced at mine through the glass separating us.
I shrugged and said, "Your welcome." Fitz hung up the phone and stood up. He said something to the guard that I couldn't hear and then shuffled away. He didn't look back at me.
I walked out of the police station and into the bright sunlight. Fitz's and my conversation hadn't been emotionally ground-breaking. We weren't friends and I doubted we ever would be. Fitz though, at least knew how I felt now, that I didn't blame him for what he couldn't control with his father. I was satisfied with that. As I made my way to the car I looked up at the sky, blue as can be with puffy white clouds. The earth was silent for a little bit and a soft breeze danced across my face.
"Thanks Julia," I said and then got into Morty and headed back home. I wondered if Clare was up for some exploring today; there was a certain forest I wanted to go look for. One with small white flowers...