Standard disclaimer: I don't own Bender, sadly.

I hope you like the chapter - it allows some down time for the kids, starts trouble, and sets up a few things... let me know what you think by pressing review, pretty pretty please. Thank you all for following like you have; it's both incredibly gratifying and fodder for the muses.

Laura woke up, stretched, and noticed John wasn't back yet. She couldn't believe how lucky she was to have found someone who would put up with all her crap. She had physical disabilities, which she really ought to see a doctor about since her back was getting worse, and she had emotional issues, stemming from the truly fucked up life she'd led up to now. That got her to thinking about needing a place to live and a job, but she stopped herself. She didn't have to think about it for a few days yet. Come Monday she would have to call Lloyds and figure out how to transfer some of her funds to a local bank. She pulled on a t-shirt, wandered to the kitchen to get something to drink and wondered where John was.

Laura sat down on the stool and drank her water, while trying to decide if she wanted to get dressed. Instead she decided to stretch out on the bed and let her mind wander. Just over a year ago she was in London, in a ratty flat, waiting for her mother to return from a date. When the Bobbies came to the door instead, she first worried that Lydia had gotten herself caught for drugs. It had happen before; when she was 13 she had to spend a summer with her grandparents while her mother spent time in court, in jail, and in a detox program. Her grandparents, while being filthy rich, wanted nothing to do with her and refused to provide anything, but the bare minimum. They called her and her mother names. She was a bastard, a bitch, and a cripple, those words had hurt so bad – it was the first time she'd met them and they were cruel. They blamed her for every situation her mother was and had been in. She was the sole cause of Lydia's problems. All she had wanted was to please them, but by the end of the summer she'd learned that was never going to happen. After Lydia died they were even more caustic.

Granted they were Lydia's parents, but they really had no cause to blame Laura for Lydia taking drugs, causing a car accident, or killing herself and two others. However, they wouldn't even let her sleep in the house – that was something she'd never told anyone. Her own grandparents had made her sleep in the garage in February because she had somehow killed their only daughter. Laura wiped her eyes and decided to refocus her thoughts on John. He was so amazing. She'd never felt protected before, she'd never really felt safe, she'd always been on guard and when she was with him, she felt like she could do anything. She was getting annoyed with herself because she couldn't stop herself from crying, was it her lousy parents or the fact that until John came along no one had ever wanted her. Well they'd wanted to use her and/or abuse her, but they never wanted her. She got up in a rush and went to the kitchen, pulled out the steaks and French fries. She turned on the small oven in the kitchenette and tried to focus on something other than her mind apparently wanted to. She still couldn't stop the tears from flowing. She opened the steaks, seasoned them and put them in the pan on low. Then she walked over to the bedside table, lit some incense and a joint. She needed to calm the hell down and the oven needed to preheat anyway. After a few hits her tears stopped and she felt herself calming down, maybe she'd have a good evening after all.

John had a spring in his step as he walked into the hotel. He took the elevator up to their room and opened the door. He smelled the incense and noticed that there was food cooking. "Hey baby, got any of that smoke for me?" He wandered over to Laura, she handed him a half smoked joint but didn't look up, he kissed the top of her head and her neck, "and you smell terrific." Laura smiled, "thanks sweetheart. Thank you for everything." She looked up at him and he noticed that she'd been crying. He sat down next to her. "I have great news, but I'm only gonna tell you if you tell me what's got you down." Laura shook her head, "it's really silly. How about we talk about it over dinner, Ok?" He kissed her head, "if you really want it that way. You can tell me your bad news and I'll tell you my good news, maybe it will all balance it out." She kissed him softly on the lips and ran her fingers down his cheek. "You always make it better for me babe, always." John chuckled, "You're a little crazy Brit, but you're cute, you're wearing my shirt again, and you're cooking me steak, so I am certainly not going to complain." That got a laugh out of Laura which was exactly what John had intended.

Once she had everything cooked, she set the small table with the plastic dinnerware and put out the fries, steak, and small salad she'd put together. John sat watching her bustle about the small room and felt better and better about what he was going to propose to her. However, he did want to know what had made her cry while he'd been out so perhaps his announcements could wait. When she'd finished putting everything down, she wiped her hands, looked up, and smiled at him. "Join me?" He got up and walked to her, kissing her before sitting. "This looks awesome. Who knew you could do it all in a hotel room." Laura grinned, "Obviously, I did silly." He laughed and they each started fixing their plates. John finished first, "so are you going to tell me what made you cry? Cause you know I will keep asking till I get it out of you." Laura finished chewing her bite of salad, "yes, I know, your methods of persuasion are legendary. It was silly; I was just having a pity party about how crappy my family is." John tilted his head, "I know your dad is a jerk. I've gathered that your old lady wasn't much better, but I didn't know about anyone else."

Laura took a few bites of food, put down her fork, took a drink, and responded, "I spent a summer with my mother's parents when I was a kid and not long after she passed I was forced to stay there again. I was actually happy to get sent to Mike just so I didn't have to stay there any longer." John finished his steak, "were they that bad?" Laura shrugged, "they believe I am the reason my mother screwed up her life – they wouldn't let me sleep in the house after she died. Told me I was just a bitch and dogs didn't belong in the house." Laura said that with so little emotion John was taken back. "Wasn't that during the winter?" She nodded and quietly said, "in New York too, I had a space heater and covers of course. I'm just glad I didn't have to stay there for more than a month." John was stunned. She was such an awesome chick; it was one more example what assholes most rich people were. "Damn princess, I am sorry. Tell ya what, how about you and I stick together. I promise you can always sleep in my bed." Laura laughed, "that's good, I think I might be kind of like a stalker if you didn't." she grinned and finished eating. "So what's your news?"

John turned on the light by the couch, he took Laura's hand and led her over. "I don't know if you are gonna feel like this was…fuck, I don't know, high handed of me, but uh, would you move in with me?" Laura blinked a bit, "you have a place?" John nodded, "kinda…ok, so I went to get my paycheck and ended up talking to Lorraine a little. I told her after spending these few days with you I didn't want to go back of my folk's house, which is totally true by the way. She and Bob, well they asked me to manage one of their apartment buildings, and it comes with free rent and utilities. Uh, I also sort of suggested you might be a good receptionist for them. They really need the help and having a pretty girl in the front office, according to Bob, will increase their business." Laura launched herself into his arms. She had a moment of being upset that he'd gone and done all of this, but then she thought through all he'd done in a few hours. "You are amazing; I can't even believe how amazing you are!" She started kissing all over his face punctuating each kiss with a "thank you." John lifted her up so she was straddling his lap; "so Monday we'll go up and you can talk to Lorraine about front end stuff, I go back to work, and afterwards they'll show us the place. They said we might need to clean and paint and stuff, but I don't think that's a problem." Laura was grinning, "I promised myself I wouldn't get all stressed about it, which led me to thinking about how amazing you are to me, especially when well the people who are supposed to love me shitty." John smirked at her, "I can't help it if I am truly fucking awesome, now can I?"

They cleaned up from dinner and climbed onto the bed to watch a movie. John then told her about the offer of the pickup truck once he had the cast off his hand. Laura leaned back and laughed, "You have a car, a place to live, and you got me a job… you deserve something extra special for all that." John smirked, "You got something in mind?" She nodded and proceeded to show him, causing them both to forget about the TV until the movie they'd planned to watch was almost over.

The weekend passed in a kind of hazy bliss for both John and Laura. They talked about their pasts and their hopes for the future. How they were going to juggle school and work. Laura asked John what he wanted to be when he grew up to which he responded, "I don't intend to grow up so doesn't that make the question irrelevant?" She stuck her tongue out at him, "I'm serious." John laughed, "How can you stick your tongue out at me then tell me you're serious. It just doesn't work like that."

"Why not? Perhaps I am choosing not to grow up either." John answered by tickling her till she was laughing so hard tears were rolling down her face. When she caught her breath she said, "You are a brat." He grinned and nodded, "Yep, never claimed different." Many of their conversations went along those lines. Sometime later they were lounging on the bed and John asked, "Hey you know you never answered your own question, do you have some plans for being a 'grown up'?" Laura sat up, John propped himself up rarely seeing her so excited. She said, "I want to be a teacher."

John looked seriously confused, "why?" Laura rolled her eyes, "not all school has to suck, and I think a good teacher can make a big difference in someone's life. Course, I might decide to teach at university instead, where the pay is probably better. That means lots of years of school though." John shook his head, "You want to stay in school? After high school?" Laura grinned, "Yep, remember, I didn't have the benefit of years of torture as a child." John's only response was to call her a crazy British Princess.

Sunday afternoon John woke up from a nap to find Laura pacing. He'd never seen her pace before. "What's the problem?" he asked sleepily. He figured she hadn't heard him or something as she was still pacing and apparently chewing on her hand. "Hey Laura, what's going on?"

She stopped and turned to him, "nothing, just trying to decide if it's a good idea to break into Mike's place… I don't have anything to wear tomorrow. You said she was going to talk to me about a job… I can't wear a bloody skirt and dirty blouse…"and she returned to chewing on her finger. John sat up and said, "There's not a fucking chance I'm letting you go back there. It's not like I can't slip into your room, or like I haven't done it before, got a duffel bag or something I can put clothes in?" Laura nodded and sat on the edge of the bed – "John, I don't think it's safe for you."

He shook his head, "you don't think it's safe for me and you think I'm letting you go back there? Really? No fucking way Princess. Think a-fucking-gain. Now, I need to go home and pick up some shit for myself anyway. So, I'll slip into your room and grab some shit for you too. Want me to just get as much of your clothes as I can?" Laura nodded and gnawed on her finger again; John moved her hand away from her mouth. "Stop that. I'll be fine and I'll be back before you know it. How about I take off, you take a nap, make us some supper and we'll eat when I get back?" Laura worried her lip a bit then nodded. "What would I do without you?" John smirked at her as he got up, "be a virgin."

He got dressed, kissed Laura and promised he'd be back before she had time to miss him and began the walk home. Home he thought, not any more, at least not for long. John wasn't sure how to break this news to his parents, or if maybe he should just disappear. It was faster than he thought to get back to his street. Fuck, after spending the weekend at the hotel he wished he never had to go back to the dump his parents called home ever again.

He saw both of his parent's cars and wondered if he should just climb in his window, but his mother had been really cool. He stood on the sidewalk in front of his house and smoked a cigarette debating. It was around 4 in the afternoon, which meant his old man might be watching a game and completely ignore him then again he might see John walking in and go on a fucking rampage. John finally decided fuck it and walked up to the front door. He took a deep breath and walked in – there was a baseball game blaring on the TV and so he tried to slip by, he got as far as the hallway when his mother hollered, "Johnny is that you?" Fuck, he thought to himself. "Yeah ma, it's me."

She hollered again, "well, come here honey." John sighed and thought; at least she's still in a good mood. He turned and walked back to the kitchen; his mother was sitting at the table clipping coupons. "How's your girl?" John gave in and sat down, "she's alright, she got a hotel room for the weekend and apparently a good soak in a tub heals all things." His mother chuckled, "yeah, a good long bath does go a long way towards healing sore muscles. You gonna tell me what happened to her?" John looked down at the newspaper for a minute then back up at her, "I guess when she was a kid her old man busted her up. Her ma died last spring so she ended up back here anyway." His mother looked appalled, "they really put her back with someone who was known to have abused her?" He shook his head, "Ma, I don't know if it was ever reported; her ma took off for Europe where she spent most of her life up to now." Her eyebrows went up, "After Europe, what does she think of Shermer?" John was left kind of at a loss; this was the longest, most polite conversation he'd had with his mother in years. He shrugged, "she doesn't seem to hate it," he smirked, "at least not since she started dating me." She reached over and stroked his face; John had to force himself not to jerk away. "I can see that, you are pretty handsome."

John looked at an ad for furniture then looked up at her and quietly said, "you're different, what changed?" Wendy looked at John and shook her head in answer, as though she didn't want to talk about it. He shrugged and nodded his consent, arched and eyebrow and asked in a very quiet voice, "later?" She nodded. Out of nowhere his old man screamed, "Can't I watch a fucking game in my own house without having to listen to the two of you bullshit? When the fuck are you gonna cook me some fucking dinner?" Joe Bender lumbered into the kitchen apparently there was a commercial on. He smacked John with a good deal of force in the back of the head, "where the fuck have you been? I been hearing some pretty strange shit about you boy." He grabbed a beer out of the fridge. "Well? I asked you a fucking question boy. Where in the fuck have you been? I ain't seen you in a couple of days."

John rubbed the back of his head, "I've been out with my girlfriend." Joe opened and took a long drink out of the beer, "the little fucking crippled girl from next door? Yeah, she's probably about your league, she can't fucking run from you." His mother stood up, "Joe, stop it, she's a nice girl and she looks cute with Johnny." John's father polished off the beer in a second drink, crushed the can, and threw it in the sink. "Did you just back talk me woman?" She sighed, "No Joe, I'll start dinner so it's done when your game is over, alright?" He nodded, "that's what I thought. Now about you, ya lazy fuck. I heard you were paying to put your little whore up." John stood up, "leave her out of this; I wasn't paying for a thing Dad. She said she wanted to treat me so I let her. And she is not a whore." The last was said through John gritted teeth. Joe responded, "She's whatever her old man and I say she is mother-fucker, and since she's fucking you I think she's a whore." John's mouth suddenly got away from him, "what so now your friends with our neighbor or is it just cause he's a fucking druggie?" Joe's fist slammed into John's mouth before he had the time to even consider which part of the statement pissed the old man off. His head slammed, with the force of his father's fist, into the fridge door handle; Joe punched him in the stomach. When John fell to the ground he blissfully blacked out, but it didn't stop his father from kicking him in the side as hard as he could, his mother tried to pull Joe away but he backhanded her into the table and the shouting began. The last thing John remembered was his mother screaming for his father to leave him alone and something breaking. John woke up in his room, his head was pounding, his stomach and chest ached, and it was dark. "Fuck," John sat up slowly, knowing that moving fast would be a bad idea. He got up and grabbed as many of his clothes as he could fit into a duffle bag, a few old keepsakes and his knife collection. Shoved them into the bag, opened his window and pulled himself out. Gritting his teeth against the pain in his body he sat on the ground outside his window to catch his breath. He wanted to see the damage, but figured he was better off not knowing till he got back to the hotel. The worst that would happen was Laura would freak out. He briefly wondered about his ma, but decided he'd try to talk to her when she was at work rather than coming back to this dump.

When he felt like he wasn't going to puke he checked around Laura's place. Everything was silent and dark. Her old man's car wasn't even there. His own place was the same, and he briefly wondered what time it was. He moved over to Laura's window and pulled it up, it moved smooth and silently. He dropped himself down onto her bed and had to wait until his head cleared before he could move again. When the world stopped spinning he checked to confirm the door was locked, moved to the closet and turned on that light only. He found her duffel without too much trouble and began filling it with her clothes. He grabbed the last two shoe boxes like she asked; he was proud of himself that he remembered. He moved into the bedroom and managed to get the rest of her clothes and everything else she asked for into the bag. He lifted the bag out of the room and pulled himself out after. He shut her window and stood up. Laura's bag weighed a fucking ton, but maybe they wouldn't have to come back to these dumps. The world spun a little, but he picked up the two duffel bags and began walking. He figured so long as he could put one foot in front of the other he'd damn well walk away from here.

Feeling like he got away pretty easily he picked up the pace. He knew it was a few miles down, and while his stomach was pretty queasy he knew Laura would be really worried. Fuck, he was worried. His bag was slung over his shoulder, his hand ached, his ribs ached, and Laura's bag was a bitch to carry because it was so fucking heavy. He saw Bob's up ahead and knew he could make it there. John got to the garage and let his knees give, sliding down the building. He apparently passed out again because it was much colder when he came back around. He struggled to his feet and began his trek again. After what felt like forever the hotel came into view; John decided that if there was a god this must have been a gift. He walked in, ignored the desk clerk, and caught the first elevator which opened. He searched for his room key and found it in the inside pocket of his denim jacket. He had no idea how it might have gotten there because the jacket had been lying in his room; however, he didn't really have the capacity to worry about it. He was so tired, and cold, and hurting – fuck he hurt, he was also really looking forward to wrapping his arms around Laura.

He made it to their room and leaned on the door with his forehead, when he got the spinning to slow he put the key into the door and pushed it open, he dragged the two duffel bags in and dropped them. As soon as she heard the door Laura jumped up and ran to John. There were tears streaming down her face, and it looked like she'd been crying for a while. She threw her arms around his neck and he wrapped his leaden arms around her holding on with all he had. She pulled back a little, "Oh my god! Love, fuck... baby come on.. "Laura took his hand and led him into the bathroom, she turned the light on and John cursed soundly while covering his eyes. "Turn that fucking light off! It's killing me god damnit!" Laura waited patiently and said in a shaky voice. "I need to see where your hurt John. You're practically covered in blood." He sighed and pulled his shirt off. "It's probably just my head." She shook her head, "well you obviously had a bloody nose, your lip is split, and…" she moved his hair around a little. "That fucking hurts you know, "John complained. "I am so sorry sweetheart, but I… Oh god, John, baby, I think you need stitches. There's a gash, a huge gash on the side of your head." He shook his head. "I'll be fine, just need some rest." Suddenly there was a knock on the door, and John immediately tensed. "I'll take care of it love, just relax." Laura closed the bathroom door, turning down the light in the process. She straightened her skirt and shirt and opened the door.

The hotel clerk had spoken with John and Laura a few times in the days they'd been staying there and he really liked them. He didn't miss John coming in covered in blood. He didn't know what it meant, but decided it couldn't be good for the young man. He called the local police station and asked them to send someone down to the hotel. Jim Braden liked working nights; most of the time it was quiet and when it wasn't it was very exciting. He and his wife had gotten along for years working on different shifts and had settled into a routine. He answered the dispatchers call and made his way to the hotel for the second time that week. As he got out of the car his mind wandered to Bender and he remembered the tip the kid had given him about the weird smell, dammit, he'd forgotten to pass that on. He needed to start writing things down.

As he walked in, he approached the desk clerk; "Evening…" he checked the name take, "Kirk. You called for someone to come down, what can I do for you?" Kirk spilled, and he liked to talk. "Well this week we've had a young couple staying with us. They didn't look like much I'll admit, they came in during my shift on Wednesday night. I always work the night shift you see. I was suspicious at first, I mean he looks a little like a hoodlum, but the young lady was so very cordial I was simply charmed. She has her credit card on file with us now. Her young man has been in and out, I suspect running errands for her." Kirk continued for a few more minutes before Braden interrupted him, "why did you call the police Kirk?" He flapped his hands like an excited bird, "Oh, my yes… I am so sorry to waste your time," Braden waved his hands trying to get the guy to give him actual information. "The young man came in just a short while ago; he was covered in blood sir. He looked badly injured, now it's not normally my place to interfere but well, he was carrying to large bags and really didn't look good, that much blood had to have a reason, right?" Braden nodded. "If you give me the room number and a name I will go check in on them, if it's nothing I will let you know ASAP, alright Kirk?" The desk clerk nodded emphatically. He began moving through the guest sheets in a file; Braden wondered why he didn't have this information ready. "Bender, the young man's name is Mr. Bender and the lady is Ms. Ashford." Braden shook his head, "that's fine; you said it was Mr. Bender who was injured right?" Kirk nodded again. Braden turned and walked to the elevator. So, Bender was still here, and he was injured.

Braden knocked on the hotel room door; after a minute a pretty girl opened it. She looked confused, then worried, "can I help you officer?" Her British accent was clear and pronounced. Braden smiled, so this was the girl Bender was getting back to, he thought to himself, good for you kid. "I'm looking for John Bender." With no hesitation she said, "He's indisposed at the moment sir, can you tell me what this is regarding?" Braden chuckled and thought; this girl is good. "Yeah, the desk clerk called because he was worried, said Bender came in covered in blood. Look hon, I'm not here to bust his chops or anything. I like John, it's a good thing it was me who answered the call too. Not all cops have a soft spot for hard headed kids. I would really like to know he's alright, and if not find out what I can do to help." Laura let out an enormous sigh, "thank all that's good" she opened the door far enough for Braden to come into the room which was spotless except for two large duffel bags, each with blood smears on them. "He's in the bathroom, but first I can perhaps give you some information." Braden leaned on the desk, "I'm all ears."

Laura gave him a brief overview of the pertinent information. She ended by telling him, "We were hoping to stay at the new place starting tonight or tomorrow. John said he needed to stop by his house to pick up some things, and he told me he'd get my things too since he doesn't trust my father. Not that he should be trusted, but that's neither here nor there. He's not told me what happened, but the light in the bathroom hurt him, he has a large gash down the side of his head, a bruise like a fist on his jaw, a split lip, a black eye, and when he took off his blood covered shirt I saw bruises all over his torso." As she finished cataloging the injuries tears came to Laura's eyes. "I should have gone to check on him rather than following his instructions to stay here." Braden stood up and moved towards the bathroom, "look miss, I doubt you could have done a thing to help him. If my guess is correct this is the work of his father; a bastard who should have been put away years ago, but no one has ever been willing to press charges." She nodded and told him it was probably better if she went in to talk to John first. She opened one of the bags and pulled out a t-shirt, then walked to the bathroom, knocked a few times then let herself in. After another minute she hollered, "Officer, please come help me!" Braden rushed in. John was lying on the floor like he'd passed out and fallen over. Laura had tears running down her face and said, "I can't wake him." She had wet a rag and wiped the majority of the blood away from his face and neck. Braden tried waking him then walked out, picked up the phone and called for an ambulance. Laura had gotten a clean t-shirt on John, which impressed Braden. She dug into the other bag, pulled out a pair of jeans, a blouse, and a pair of socks. "I'll be right back out." She went into the bathroom and returned within about 2 minutes. "Officer, I... I don't know the protocol here in the states, but please let me go with him. He's all I have, and I don't want to be anywhere without him, nor do I want him to awaken without me there. Please." Braden nodded, he'd gotten her name early on in the conversation. "I get it Laura, if anyone gives you trouble tell them you're his fiancé. That will get you past the nurses and doctors. I don't have any problem with you, I've heard John talk about you like I've never heard him talk about a girl before, so you're good as gold in my book."

John remained unresponsive as the paramedics checked him over. His blood pressure and heart rate were low, but steady and the gash on the side of his head was still seeping though it was more slowly than before. They weren't sure about internal damage but suspected at least two cracked or broken ribs. Braden told the paramedics that Laura was his fiancé and thus could answer any questions. It also allowed her to remain with him. They arrived at the hospital and aside from John's time in the ER she was by his side every step of the way.

She slept fitfully in an uncomfortable chair next to his bed through the night, but woke up around eight and told the nurses she had to run to work but would be back as quickly as she could. The nurse assured her they'd take good care of him and if he should wake up they'd let him know where she went. Laura caught a bus down to Bob's automotive; thankfully she didn't have to take multiple buses. She realized she was still in a bloody t-shirt and jeans from the night before, but at this point she couldn't do anything about it. It was just after nine when she arrived. Taking a deep steadying breath Laura opened the door and walked in with all the courage she could muster. Lorraine was at the counter talking to a technician who was working on what looked like a brand new computer. "I was wondering when you two were going to wander in. Where's Johnny? God, don't tell him I called him that, I think he hates it." Laura held up a hand to interrupt her. "I'm sorry to inform you, but John won't be in today, and I'd appreciate it if you could let me start tomorrow or Wednesday. John's in the hospital."

Lorraine's face paled, she walked away from the tech, and approached Laura, "dear god, is he OK?" Laura swallowed trying to keep the promise to herself that she wouldn't cry. "He will be. I believe it was his father's handy work. He returned home to pick up clothes and the like for both of us." Laura sank into one of the waiting room chairs and the unwanted tears fell down her face. "He left yesterday afternoon, promising to return quickly, but he didn't come back till the middle of the night and he was all beaten and bloody. I didn't…I don't want you to think badly of John or myself…"

Lorraine pulled the young girl into a hug. "How did you get here honey?" Laura basked in the affection before answering. "I took the bus from the hospital. There's a return bus in another 15 minutes that I'd like to catch, if that's alright. If you would like me to stay and start work today I will do my best, though I believe I am not really dressed for it." Lorraine stared at the girl. "Girl, you'll be focused on John and not remember a damn thing, no you'll go back to the hospital, but you won't take any damn bus – I'll drive you there myself." She stepped away from Laura, walked back around the counter and started straightening her desk. She hollered, "Bobby… Bobby come in here please, I need you fast." Laura sat back down in the chairs grateful that she wouldn't have to take the bus again. Bob entered the front office wiping his hands on a rag. "What is it woman, I swear, I do have to work you know." His grumbling was obviously good natured; he looked up and noticed Laura. "Oh, good; you're starting for us today? We certainly need the help." Lorraine proceeded to interrupt him, "No, she's not starting, and I'm leaving." Bob's eyebrow's shot up, "what's wrong?" Lorraine took a deep breath, "John's in the hospital, small one here took a bus down here to make certain we wouldn't think badly of the two of them. I'm taking her back." Bob nodded, "You go on; I'll be down soon as I can. I'll close for a long lunch and come soon as I finish what I'm working on." Lorraine nodded kissed her husband's cheek, walked over to Laura and offered her a hand up which she took gratefully. She'd slept poorly in the hospital being worried about John.

Laura was no stranger to hospitals between the times she'd had to be at them as a child and the number of times her mother was injured either by a man or her own idiocy, but never had Laura been so gut wrenchingly concerned. She was led to the big black Caddy Lorraine drove and taken back to the hospital in a fraction of the time it had taken her to get to Bob's Automotive. Once in the parking garage Laura had to take a minute to get her bearings before leading the older woman to John's room.

About the time Laura and Lorraine got to the hospital, John finally woke up he wasn't sure where he was at first. He did notice that his vision was pretty blurry and he felt like he'd been hit by a Mack truck. After a short few seconds he realized he was in a hospital, but he didn't know why. The last thing he remembered was getting back to the room and seeing Laura. His vision got a little clearer, but it was still kind of fuzzy. He searched the room and noticed several of Laura's things, but not the girl himself. John started getting agitated, wondering where his girl was. Within moments, a nurse came in to check his chart, "Oh good, you're awake. Now please don't try getting up just yet. Between your broken ribs and the cracked skull we'd really like you to continue resting. Your fiancé said she had an errand to run at Bob's and she'd be back as quickly as possible. I suspect you know what all that means better than I do, but she made me memorize her words. She's a darling little thing, who I might add has been very worried about you. I'll let the doctor know you're awake, I suspect he'll want to talk with you. There was also an officer with you, but I think he left last night. My name is Sally, ring that red button if you need anything and I'll be back in a bit."

John had no idea who the officer might have been, but he really didn't remember much beyond that horrible walk back from his parent's house. Fuck he really wanted to torch that piece of shit to the ground, preferably with his old man inside. Before he had the chance to get too irritated, or the doctor had time to arrive Laura and Lorraine walked in the room. Laura threw herself into his arms and started kissing all over his face. She'd made certain to stay was on the side of his uninjured ribs so she could hold on tight. "Don't ever do that to me again! You had me so worried babe; it was your old man, or mine…I know it was so don't bother arguing, and the son of a bitch cracked your skull. I want to kill him, dead. I didn't realize how violent I could be, but I spent the night thinking of more and more horrible ways to kill those fuckers."

John chuckled and kissed her head, "fuck babe, I love you. I was a little freaked to wake up without you here." She sat up, "Didn't the nurse give you my message? I left a message, promise." He reached up and put his hand over her mouth, "she gave me the message, fiancé?" John left his hand on her cheek, caressing her jaw. Laura blushed to her roots, and started to give him a reason, he covered her mouth again. "I liked it so shut up." John turned his head, "Don't mean to ignore you gorgeous." Lorraine who had taken a seat, chuckled; she'd been watching the kids. "Don't worry about me; this is better than a soap opera." John barked a laugh, Laura tried to get up, but John grabbed her, "you're not going anywhere, get comfy next to me, besides you look like shit, didn't you sleep?" Laura shrugged and made herself comfortable next to him; Lorraine piped up, "I doubt she got much, she might have nodded in and out, but no one gets good sleep while a loved one is unconscious John. Really, it's kind of a no brainer. Bob will be here in just a bit, I think he's planning on bringing you food; he thinks hospital food is poison, so I suspect he'll do something to keep you healthy."

No sooner had Laura gotten settled next to John, she put her head on his chest over his heart and promptly fell asleep. John stroked her hair and looked down at her fondly. He looked back up at Lorraine, "ya know it's creepy to stare right?" She laughed, "yeah, and I'm surprised you're being nice since I bet you'd kill for a smoke." John shook his head, "You have no idea. So she went down to the garage?" Lorraine nodded; "apparently she took the bus down because she didn't want us to think badly of you or her since she was supposed to start today and all. As if I'd think badly of her. She was shaking like a leaf and being very brave, you'd have been proud of her John. So what happened?" He looked at her with a stare that said he wasn't going to tell her until she arched a brow. "I am your boss and your landlady and I think of you like a son, so you damn well better tell me." John rolled his eyes and leaned his head against the pillows – "can I wait so I don't have to repeat what I remember multiple times?" Lorraine nodded, I'm gonna get some coffee, I'll be back in a few." John nodded, pulled Laura in close to him and closed his eyes; the lights were starting to hurt.

When he next opened his eyes Lorraine and Bob were talking to a doctor. He cleared his throat and they all turned towards him, the doctor started, "Good you're awake; how are you feeling?" John arched his brow, "kind of a dumb question there doc; I feel like I was hit by a truck – what all is wrong with me?" The doctor flipped through the chart and sighed; John responded, "Damn that sucks man, who sighs before answering that question." The doctor shook his head, "No, it's just you've got a lot, and I mean a lot, of calcium build up on your ribs." John shrugged, "so? What's that mean?" The doctor replied, "Well it means an awful lot of force went behind these new breaks, as if a large man kicked you at full force. You have 2 broken and 2 cracked ribs on the left side. The gash on the left side of your head required 10 stitches and left a fracture in your skull. The cast on your right hand had been split open, luckily the hand had begun to heal so there doesn't appear to be an additional damage. We removed the plaster cast and put a soft one on. That said, it's probably going to continue to hurt for a while and you should be careful with it." He closed the chart. "We'd like to keep at least through the night to confirm there will be no additional issues with the skull fracture. Do you have any questions?"

John nodded and stroked Laura's hair as he heard her whimper quietly. "A few, how come my vision is blurry and when can I get back to work?"

The doctor smiled, "I can tell you are a hard worker son, but I'd like you off for at least a week and nothing excessive for at least a few weeks after that. As for your vision, I suspect it has to do with the fracture, but I'll send for an ophthalmologist to check in on you. Your fiancé there is a little firecracker, all but hollered at the docs in the ER that they were being neither quick nor careful enough with you. That said; she's intense enough I bet she never actually has to raise her voice. I'd…, not that my opinion matters, but I'd keep a hold of her. She loves you an awful lot."

John continued stroking her hair, kissed the top of her head, and replied, "I know and I figure it makes me one lucky bastard."

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