Dan felt himself being lifted off of the cold ground, warm hands grasped his waist and shoulders before he was placed onto something soft, yet hard at the same time. Lights moved around him, though he forced his eyes to stay glued shut.
“Dan?” an unfamiliar voice asked. “Can you open your eyes for me buddy?”
The young teenager whimpered. He could feel people touching the marks on his wrists, pressing cloth over them for a moment before they began to sting. He whimpered again, just barely opening his eyes enough to see that he was no longer inside his house. His entire body felt warm and fuzzy as if he was wrapped up in a blanket while being kissed all over by a lover. He could see two people moving around in the back of- wherever he was.
“Hey there, Dan,” the same person said, looking into his eyes with a pleasant smile. They turned around and grabbed something before a blinding white light poured into his eyes. The teenager cried out in pain as another stinging sensation rushed through his rest. It felt like he was being stabbed over and over again while someone pulled a string through his skin. “Numb the area captain doofus,” the person chided. Dan felt another prick before both of his hands went completely numb.
“Hey, can you tell us what your full name is?” the person asked, checking his pulse.
“Daniel James Howell,” the young teenager grumbled, his eyes growing heavier and heavier by the moment.
“Don’t you dare,” the person muttered. “Stay with us, Dan.”
“Who are you?” he asked, trying to sit up. His stomach rolled with the motion, causing bile and chunks of something-or-other to rise in the back for his throat. He convulsed forward, allowing the mixture to spill from his lips and down the front of his shirt.
“Oh lordy,” the other person said, grabbing something off of the floor and placing it underneath his chin to catch most of the vomit. “Did you take something?”
“Yeah,” Dan said through retches.
“We’ll handle that when we get to the hospital,” the other person said, who Dan had finally deduced was a paramedic. The first paramedic that stood on the right side of him grabbed a bag, breaking the two pockets to form one large mixture of clear fluid. Dan felt another prick in his arm as she inserted the IV drip. His vision began to clear only to become even more hazy, causing him to fall unconscious once again.
Phil stretched down again, hating how the eyes of the female instructor that he was given bore into his back as he tried to reach his toes. “You’re doing well, Mr. Lester,” she said, her accent heavy in her voice. “At this rate, you’ll be able to touch your toes in a month or two.”
“It hurts,” he groaned, pulling up five seconds too early. Tears of frustration and pain raised in his eyes. “I could barely get out of bed this morning on my own. If anything, I’m getting worse!”
“If you keep doing the exercises, then everything will get better,” she insisted.
“You can do it, Phil!” Connor croaked from the sidelines, his feet tucked up under him as his hand ran up and down the pole that held his oxygen and IV drip. The older teenager gave him a weak smile before he turned back to his instructor. She pressed her hand to the small of his back, telling him to bend over backward as far as he could go.
He leaned back as he had been told to, though he stopped after six inches, relying heavily on the Physical Therapists hand and arm. “Good, good,” the praised, counting just under her breath before he helped him stand back up. “And it’s noon, which means our session is over. I suggest you and Mr. Franta go and get some food.”
The teenager nodded as he walked over to his friend, bidding the older woman a goodbye. “Do you think Troye would be out of his session?”
Connor unfolded himself from the chair, standing up with the help of Phil’s hand. “Probably,” he croaked. “You’re both getting so much better.”
“So are you!” Phil beamed, slowly pressing a hand on his friend's shoulder. “I mean, you took your oxygen off for two hours yesterday! That’s the longest time in about two months. We’re all making progress.”
They had made it down most of the hall when they saw the ambulance speed by through one of the large windows. “Do you think that’s a gun wound or another heart attack victim?” Connor asked.
“With the rate, it’s rushing I say that it’s a trauma victim,” Phil said, turning and watching the ambulance rush down to the ER.
“There’s Troye’s room,” Connor said, pointing to the end of the hall. The door was slightly ajar, meaning that someone was in, whether it was their friend or not. “It looks like he’s home.”
When they reached the door, Phil slowly raising his arm and knocked. “Hey Troye, are you up to go and get some food?” The aforementioned boy lay unmoving on the bed, one of his hands lay flat across his stomach while the other held his phone.
“Is Tyler coming?” he asked weakly, the beanie on his head slipping down his forehead as he turned to look at the other two.
“We could go and get him,” Phil said, slowly putting his arm back down by his side. “I don’t know how he’s feeling today. I was at my session from ten when I woke up to now.”
“He almost never comes out of his room anymore,” Troye frowned, lifting himself off of his bed and walking over to the door slowly and carefully. “I wouldn’t either. I know I didn’t when I was in that stage.”
“I barely came out of my room till you two showed up,” Connor mused. “We really rely heavily on each other, don’t we?”
“Yeah, I guess we do,” Phil said, moving aside so that the other two boys could get through. They walked down the hall, just talking to each other like they always did before they made it to the fourth member of their parties room. “Hey Tyler, do you want to come to lunch with us?”
“Yeah, I’ll be right out!” the oldest teen yelled. A couple seconds of semi-awkward silence passed before his door swung open, revealing the shortest member of the group. He had his red beanie that Troye had given him when he arrived pressed firmly over his head, covering the lack of hair. “Okay, are we gonna go?”
“Yeah,” Connor said with a small smile, “I’m starving.”
“Then let’s go!” Troye grumbled, motioning towards the cafeteria-like room. The group made their way down the hall again, joking and laughing now that they had the most human member with them. Their lunch passed like it did every day, with both Troye and Tyler picking at their food due to the chemo making them lose their appetite. Connor wolfed down as much food as he could stomach, knowing that most of it would not actually find its way into his system.
As they walked back, the conversation was cut short by Tyler, “Hey, it looks like the moved someone into Jack’s old room. We should go say hi.”
“Not everyone likes being chatted at when their sick, Tyler,” Troye commented, brushing his shoulder against the other Cancer patients.
“Babe, how dare you,” the shorter said, mocking hurt.
“Saying hi should be fine as long as we keep the short stack in check,” Connor teased, coughing lightly after he finished talking. He groaned in pain and rubbed his chest for a moment as they were walking.
“You okay?” Tyler asked, placing his hand on Connor’s lower back.
“I should be.”
“If you’re sure,” he said, continuing down the hall.
Phil knocked on the door of the once empty room, waiting for someone to respond. “Hello?” someone called from the inside of the room.
“Hi!” Tyler called back, “Can we come in?”
“Um, yeah?” the newest patient called back. The small group entered the room, Phil hanging to the back awkwardly rubbing some of his overly tense muscles.
“We’re some of the other patients in this hall,” Connor rasped, coughing a little bit more. “I’m Connor, the chatty one is Tyler. The tall one is Phil and the really skinny one is Troye.”
“I’m not that skinny!” Troye growled, hitting his friend playfully in the stomach.
“I’m Dan,” the new patient smiled, his wrists were bandaged up in bright white Gauss, and then covered in a dark black colored wrapping.
“Well,” Phil said, grabbing hold of Tyler’s shirt as he tried to walk towards the newcomer. “It was nice meeting you. We hang out in the cafeteria most days if you want to come and talk. Our rooms are down the hall with our names on them. We’ll let you get back to your rest.”
He then shepherded the rest of the group out into the hall, shutting the door behind him. He had a light pink blush on his cheeks, causing the tips of his ears to become a dark maroon color. “That was so awkward,” Troye laughed, placing his hand on the top of his beanie that had ridden up to show what was left of his hairline. “And I think Phil might have a crush.”