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The first thing Apollo tells him after he wakes up is that they hadn't been sure he would. Stupid, you nearly died!, he says, and socks Clay in the shoulder, which hurts.

The nurse on duty throws him out for that, but Clay manages to catch his wrist as he leaves and make it something between a handshake and a victorious-fist-pump. I'm okay, dude, he says, I swear. Go home and get some sleep. You look like shit.

He goes.

God, he's little. And yeah, yeah, he's tough and self-reliant and he's a grown man but damn if the look on his face doesn't make Clay want to worry about him, even though he's the one hospitalized with a stab wound. 

---

Pollo's little sister (and hadn't that been weird, and he feels bad when he thinks about how jealous he'd been, going off to the gym and running lap after lap in the evenings while his best friend had been working things out with Truce and Surprise Mom) - Pollo's little sister ruins the secret and blabs that he's been wearing Clay's jacket ever since he'd been admitted to the hospital, until he woke up.

Nice try, Chicken. But I'm the man. The legend. The coat is just an external symbol of the inner awesomeness -

Fuck, dude. You must've scared people. That's like something from a movie.

---

Physical therapy sucks.

The view from the window is part of some telephone poles and part of Machado Lake and though he starts off reasonably grateful for the lake part, soon enough, pretty soon, the view sucks.

The food sucks. Getting stabbed sucks.

A partial list of the things Apollo smuggles to him:

  • In-N-Out burgers.

  • Bo tai chanh.

  • His own socks and shorts and t-shirts.

  • An extra pillow from Ikea.

  • His hand weights.

  • His laptop, the old one, the hard drive filled with movies.

  • They fall asleep watching The 13th Warrior one Sunday night, Pollo squished against the bed's side rail on top of the blankets.

    ---

    As he starts to feel better he starts to flirt with the girl intern from UCLA. Annie ponytail. She flirts back for a couple visits and stops all of a sudden. It's the guy down the hall with the knee replacement, isn't it, he says. I didn't realize you were serious, she says. Or not like serious but you know. We're not supposed to.

    ---

    Chicken has got to learn to drive and he tells him so. I'll teach you when I get out of here. 

    I'm busy, Chicken says. Chicken's been scared of accidents on the freeway since forever.

    Chicken's boss comes to pick him up a few times. Good to meet you finally, Mr. Terran. Sorry it's not under better circumstances. (Handshake? Handshake.) He raises his funny eyebrows. He looks like a Real Adult but Clay has heard the stories.

    ---

    Chicken's boss gets too slammed with work. Once it's a brunette with glasses and a lab coat. Enough lab coats lately, but not bad...sarcastic. Whew.

    And then once it's Klavier Gavin. (Holy shit, it's Klavier Gavin.) 

    Maybe I have made a mistake, I am sorry? Is Apollo Justice here?

    No, you're good, dude, he's in the bathroom, sit down if you want.

    You don't expect Holy Shit It's Klavier Gavin to be all awkward. But the guy looks, like, guilty and shy and, yeah. Wow.

    It's very good to meet you, Herr Terran, he says from where he's hunched over in the guest chair by the door.

    Yeah. Ditto. Same.

    He notices Gavin's earrings, Gavin's rings. Gavin's hair falling into his face.

    Apollo has talked about you very much. Recently but also...

    He's told me about you too. Good to meet you, dude.

    The bathroom is at the other end of a hallway that seems really long, but he'd been blaming physical therapy and the punctured lung for that. 

    Is he taking good care of you, Herr Terran?

    Uhm...yeah, he is. Yeah, sorry. He's here all the...he's here every day. 

    But you've taken good care of him, too, ja?

    Gavin has a sad smile, in person, that doesn't really look like him on TV.

    Apollo is running late but once he gets back to the room it still takes him five minutes to say goodbye.

    ---

    Chicken, it's Friday. 

    Why are you here?

    Seriously, Chicken, I mean, it's Friday night. Why are you here?

    Dude, I love you, but I don't need you here every single day. 

    This is L.A., okay, it's not rural Wisconsin, there are guys here, okay? But you're not going to find one if you don't look -

    All right, you know what, because you are also picky as fuck, dude. If not even Gavin was good enough...

    What do you mean what do I mean. I'm not even noticing most of the time, and damn, okay? And he is into you -

    What do - Yes. Yes, I'm sure. I am sure I'm sure. Maybe he has the wrong idea, you know? Put the fucking weights down, you're doing it wrong anyway.

    ---

    It's three days before Apollo comes back. Love sha-a-ack, Clay sings and vamps his shoulders like Marilyn Monroe, and Pollo nearly socks him again but stops himself and turns red and kind of laughs. 

    I'm happy for you, dude. I am. It's really awesome.

    But you gotta find me a girlfriend now, Chicken. Okay?