“And the Robeasts have the ball…”
Hunk, Pidge and Keith groan simultaneously.
Ever since Lance was promoted to captain of the football team, the three of them haven’t missed a game. Shiro and Allura came whenever they could, but right now they were in the middle of exam season and couldn’t come as they had to revise, but not before wishing Lance good luck.
It’s an important game for the school team, against the Robeasts, and they’re doing well enough, but the other team is giving a good fight.
Lance manages to take the ball for himself, and his friends cheer loudly from the bleachers.
“You can do it!”
He runs through the field, wind against his face, ball under his arm. Rotating his shoulder backwards, he prepares to score again.
“Hey! That guy tripped him!” Pidge yells, her face contorted in anger.
“Lance is hurt!” Hunk exclaims, before exchanging worried glances with Pidge and Keith.
Lance is clutching is ankle before he even registers how bad it hurts. As sound seems to warp around him, he squeezes his eyes shut, only hearing scattered and broken screams and voices. Paramedics rush to his side, and only then he dares to look at his leg.
And he immediately wishes he hadn’t.
The ankle is twisted inwards, and noticeably rotated in a very odd, unnatural angle. Suddenly he feels sick, and turns his face away, tears streaming down his face.
He feels himself being lifted onto a stretcher, and despite of how careful the paramedics are being, his foot hurts even more when they move him. When they carry him out of the field and into the locker room, he sees his friends running to him, along with some of his team mates.
“Clear out, he needs space!” The coach yells, as Lance is being lifted out of the stretcher and laid on a bench, his leg stretched in front of him. Keith, Pidge, and Hunk stay by the entrance, too worried to leave. Examining the swollen joint, the coach seems to reach a conclusion.
“You’re gonna be lucky if you don’t need surgery.” He says grimly, before taking his phone out of his pocket. Lance’s eyes widen in fear. “I’m calling your mother, you’re going to the hospital.”
“As you can see here-“ the young doctor points to the x-rays on the board, “the ankle was twisted out of place, quite violently if I may add. The main ligaments are torn, and the ankle is broken.”
Lance is sitting on a bed in the ER, still wearing his sweaty football equipment, his mother standing next to him stroking comforting motions on his shoulder.
After getting to the emergency room, he had been x-rayed, before the doctor popped his ankle back in place, which had hurt like hell at the time and definitely wasn’t getting better now.
“The fibula is also fractured, but that isn’t quite as bad. We’re hoping everything will heal okay without surgery, since Lance is young and healthy, but he’ll have to come in every week so we can make sure everything is healing nicely.” The doctor explains. “So, the nurses are going to get you a cast, and then you’re good to go home. I recommend bed rest for at least a few days, and sleeping with his leg elevated.”
“How long will I need the cast?” Lance asks.
The doctor takes the x-rays out of the board. “We’ll have to see how everything heals, so it depends, but no less than three months.”
Lance feels his heart sink to his stomach, and he thinks he may actually throw up now. “T-three months?!” He rasps out. The championship was less than a month away. He had to play.
“At least,” the doctor confirms, “as I said, it depends on how the bones heal. It might take a bit longer. And even then, you might still need some physical therapy and to take it easy for another month or two.”
He then leaves the room to check on some other patient, and two nurses come right after.
Lance is trying with any ounce of strength not to cry, as he holds his mother’s hand.
“Oh sweetie… I’m so sorry…” Lance’s mother wraps her arms around his shoulders, and kisses the top of his head.
He shakes his head. “I’m gonna miss the championship…” A broken sob escapes his lips, as he buries his face in his hands, and even the nurse looks heartbroken as she starts to fit his cast.
Going back home was painful.
Physically, of course. His recently fitted cast covered his entire foot and reached above his knee, and so heavy it had been torture to wobble in crutches through the short distance from the car to his room upstairs, his injured ankle throbbing as Lance put weight on it.
But most of all, emotionally. Lance had spent the whole previous semester getting in shape and improving his football technique, and he was just so proud when he was finally chosen as team captain.
He’s pretty sure the team will have to choose another captain. Or at least a co-captain, for the championship that Lance won’t be able to play in.
The tears threaten to come back.
Suck it up, he thinks, you’re not a baby.
His mother has dressed him in soft and comfortable clothes and tucked the blankets around him after helping him to bed. The injured leg rests on top of two pillows, although Lance doesn’t feel it is doing much better. He feels his ankle swelling and throbbing in pain, and it’s hard to find a comfortable position. With a whimper, he turns on his side and closes his eyes, trying to sleep.
Pidge and Hunk and to go back to the science lab for their extracurricular, but Keith decides to stop by Lance’s house before the other two made him promise he would call with news about their friend as soon as possible.
Lance’s mother opens the door with a sad smile and lets him in.
“He’s upstairs in his bedroom,” she says, “I think he’s awake, but check before you go in.”
He thanks her, and climbs the stairs to the upper floor. Lance’s bedroom door is nearly close, and it’s dark inside. “Lance?” he whispers. “You awake?”
Lance’s voice sounds tired and broken at the same time. Keith dismisses Lance’s request and comes in anyway and closes the door behind him. If anything, Lance telling him to go away only meant he needed as much support as Keith could possibly give, and Keith was suddenly reminded of himself pushing everyone away when he was hurt.
He sits on the edge of the bed, and he can now distinguish his friend curled up on his stomach, his back turned to him, and his leg, casted from mid-thigh to toes, stretched in front of him. Keith hesitantly places a hand on Lance’s shoulder, hoping to offer him at least a bit of comfort.
“Hey,” Keith says, “how are you feeling?”
It’s only then that he hears Lance sniffle. He had been crying. The way his ankle had been twisted in the field, Lance is probably in a lot of pain. “Does it hurt a lot?”
“I broke my ankle,” Lance finally says, “and leg.”
Keith rubs Lance’s shoulder with his thumb, not really knowing what to say. “The guy that tripped you was suspended. He’s out for five games.”
And that’s not nearly enough, Keith thinks.
Lance chuckles bitterly. “That doesn’t make me feel better.”
“Sorry,” Keith says, “how long until you’re back in the field?”
He hears Lance take a shaky breath and shift underneath the covers. “Six months.”
“That’s-“ he starts, but stops himself, “I’m really sorry, Lance.”
Then Keith remembers.
“The championship… Oh Lance…” He trails off. “I’m so sorry.”
It sounds so down and defeated, and it scares Keith to the core. He has to make Lance feel better. But Keith, unlike Lance, isn’t exactly good at comforting people.
Lance doesn’t say anything, but Keith can see his body curl up more under the covers. He really has to do something about this. So Keith takes a deep breath and inches himself closer, swinging his legs under the blankets.
He’s trying to act like Lance would, and Keith is sure that if he got hurt like that, Lance would offer emotional support in the shape of physical contact. Keith also knows he sucks at physical contact himself, but he tries anyway.
Once his legs are covered, he lets his body slide down, so that he’s lying next to his friend.
Lance freezes, and slowly turns to face Keith.
Keith moves his arm to give him a gentle one-armed hug that seems to be enough to shut him up. Lance relaxes a bit, and buries his head on Keith’s shoulder, and soon enough, Keith feels his t-shirt getting wet.
The tears turn into soft sobs, and Keith doesn’t know if Lance is crying about the pain or about missing the championship. A broken sob that sounds an awful lot like “it hurts” lets him know it’s probably a combination of both.
“I’m sorry, Lance. I’m so sorry.” Keith holds him tighter. He knows Lance will be okay, and that his leg will heal, and that he’ll be able to play football again eventually. But he also knows how much Lance’s world feels destroyed right now, and he only wishes he could help more.