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Gone in a Minute

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The sound of the telephone ringing was only one more sound disputing the attention of the passerby in that kitchen. Its sound had really strong competitors, between the stove with thousand pans and pots filled with all kinds of food and the shouting coming from the waiters in the salon, announcing, almost declaming orders left and right, it would for sure be difficult to get someone to notice the telephone. But you know when it comes to bad new, it will always find a way to get to you. Always. Laura. An 30 something woman, who was recently hired as junior chef, while carrying the condiments to the nearest balcony where she was in charge to tend to the sauces and creams of that station, happen to hear the screaming telephone. Little did Laura knew that she was the carrier of the bad news to Liam that night.

The voice that came through was of a man, in a mix of politeness and a pressing urgency, he asked for Liam in a choked voice. Laura didn’t know why but she felt a chilly sensation on her nape.

It was from giddy, relax to confuse and frightened in seconds, it transformed itself in absolute horror. She could see it all in Liam’s face. He handed the phone back to her and with a short rigid nod he dismissed her. She wanted to ask what happened, but bit back the words before they were even out. She knew she shouldn’t pry. She watched him take out his apron tied to his waist. While she made her away as slowly as she possibly could she watched him stride towards the changing room.

it wasn’t even 3 minutes later when he came out of the room already out of his dolman. He stopped briefly to talk to Louis, his sous-chef. At all times he looked fidget, anxiously checking his phone and keys before putting them on his pocket. He put his messenger bag on his shoulder and left through the swifting doors.

There was almost 3 hours left of service till the restaurant close. No sign of Liam coming back. Orders coming in and out and Josh kept pushing the rhythm of the kitchen to work faster. it was always like this when Louis took charge. She was in the middle of adding some ingredients to the pan in front of her when she saw with the corner of her eye when Louis finishing talking with someone on the phone. He shook his head a few times and uttered a few words that appeared to be of understanding. After that, he put his phone back on the pocket of his apron and clapped his hands.

“Tonight Chef Liam won’t be coming back, he had to leave early due to personal reasons so the rest of the night is on us. You know what you gotta do. Move!”

 

~***~

Liam pushed through the swifting doors and scanned the room . He saw Harry hunched over his knees he bee lined towards him. Harry lifted his head and noticed Liam approaching. He didn’t have time to say anything before he saw himself embraced by Liam. Suddenly reality came crashing down on him. That thin layer of fantasy, lie whatever you want to call, that you wrap yourself up to pretend that something as shocking and as traumatic have happened, just dissolved right in this instance. Although he talked to the doctors, he saw with his own eye, Zayn being rushed to surgery room, he kept illusing himself thinking that it was a dream or that he was projecting a episode of some random episode of TV show.

Holding Liam, feeling how tense he was only tore apart whatever illusion he was holding close to heart. He didn’t know how long he hold Liam, but he kept his hold onto him tight and only let go when he felt Liam loosing up.

Harry could see his red face and watery eyes. He led liam to the closest seat made him sit.

“I came as soon as they called me.” Harry said trying to make himself comfortable on the sit. “The páramedics said that they tried to call the first person on his speed dial but it was out of service.”

“My battery died.” Liam said choked. “What happened?”

“They told me it was a car crash.” Harry clasped his hands together. “Some drunk motherfoucker blasted Zayn’s car.”

Liam pressed his lips together, he tried to keep his tears at bay, but wasn’t quite managing.

“Zayn is in surgery right now. The doctor said that he had one of those ugly fractures. Thoses you can see the bone? yeah. He needed to be operated as soon as possible.”

“Niall is awake, if you want to talk to him.” Harry said while placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Niall was there with him?” Liam spoke startled, sitting straight. “Where is he?”

Harry guided him through the hospital corridors. All the white and detergent smell were making Liam dizzy. When they finally reached Niall’s room, Liam stood by the door. His head was wrapped in gauze, one of his right warm was in a sling and you could see an ugly gash on his forehead. Laying on the bed Niall looked exhausted.

“Hey buddy.” Harry called lowly.

Niall turned his head to look at them. When he saw Liam an ugly sob ripped out of his throat. Liam walked up to him and as best as he could he hugged his friend.

Niall told him about the accident. they were coming back home after an get together with the crew of the new studio they were working at Neither of them drank and since Zayn’s driver’s license was expired he sat shotgun.

“It was late and I wanted to go home. I had to get up early the next day and didn't want to lose that much sleep. I told Zayn that I was leaving, but he told me to wait for him since I was his ride home.” Niall sobbed, his voice sounded hoarse. "He wanted to stay a bit more. I was just so tired that I rush him out of the party."

Their hands were linked. Whatever was holding Liam together left his body as soon as Niall started to tell what happened. His vision were blurred with tears. He has a running nose and a face as red as an tomato.

"It was my fault." Niall put his hand on his hair and started to pulling it. "Fuck me wanting to go home just because I was tired. It wasn't going to hurt if I had stayed for a bit more. If I had just sat at that couch and black out right there…" he let out and agonizing moan. He lifted up his head and look at Liam.

"I-- I…" He cleaned his eyes and took a deep breath. "If I only knew what would happen. I wasn't speeding and it was green light for us. I only remember the hear a loud noise, like a bomb and then we were being pushed around. I must have black out somewhere because when I woke up, the cops and the paramedics were there. I looked at my side and Zayn was bleeding. He didn't seem like he was breathing or anything, that was when I panicked and started to cry for help."

There was a silence after that.

"I'm so sorry. It's all my fault."

Liam put his hands on his face and inhaled and exhaled a few times, then he lifted his face and sat straight on the chair. He cleaned his eyes and looked of Niall.

"I don't want you blaming yourself for something you had no control of. Stop it." Liam managed to give his friend a warm smile." You have no idea how relieved I am for knowing that you are out of danger. I wouldn't want for you to be putting this on your nether would Zayn, so stop it okay?"

Liam got up and hugged Niall again, now much calmer.

"How are you?" Liam asked earnestly.

"The wreckage was putting a lot of pressure on my leg. Looks like the never on my knee is fucked and I'll be needing some surgery." Liam could hear Niall's voice trembling. "I can't feel it Liam."

Liam clenched his fists.

"I'm really fucking scared to lose my leg man."

What kind of words could he say to his best friend at this moment, he had no idea. Liam felt the blood from his escape from his face. What was supposed to say? He imagined that no amount of words were going to be able to put Niall at ease about his leg. There's no way he could guarantee that he would be 100% himself again, but he believed though.

Liam took Niall's hand in his and squeezed.

"I'm here brother. For whatever you need."

Liam kissed the top of his head when he hear a knocking on the door. It was Harry. He made a gesture for him to follow. "Rest. I'll be back in a sec."

Harry and Liam walk out of the room out of Niall's earshot.

"I need to go home. I was mostly waiting for you to come. Gemma texted me and said her shift will start in 30 minutes."

"It's okay you can go. Me and Niall will be okay." Liam crossed his arms.

"I already talked with the nurse and she said that whatever update about Zayn she gets she will come find you. I also texted Louis and he said he's going to be here soon after the restaurant closes." Harry open his arms and hugged Liam. "I so sorry for not being able to stay longer."

"I already said it's fine. Landon needs you."

They parted ways. Watching Harry disappear in the corridor Liam returned to the room. Niall greeted him with a small smile.

"Family Addams in on."

Liam smiled back and went to sit on the armchair by Niall's bed.

~***~

 

All this waiting was making Liam go crazy. The houses seems like they dragging themselves to pass. The clock just didn't change at all. Soon after Harry Left Niall started to complain about some pain on his leg. Now he was out due to medication, apparently sleeping peacefully. Liam wished he could have some of whatever they gave him. He was becoming over sensitive to his surroundings. The smells, the little noises of the machines attached to Niall, his breath hardness of the chair he was sat on. He was getting overwhelmed quickly. Feeling like the walls were getting closer and closer. He felt hot and he could sense the drops of sweat dripping down on lower back.
His breathing became rapidly and his vision started to narrow. He got up quickly and got out of the room.

He head to the vending machine.

He leaned on the pile of metal and stared at the snacks through the glass. He pushed off from the vending machine and put the money on the place he was supposed to. Liam leaned forward and retrieved the coke. He heard steps coming his way.

When he turned to see who was it, he saw Trisha marching up to him.

"I came as soon I as got your message" she said while walking right up to him.

He didn't think twice. Drop the coke and went to hug her. It was brief but was the support Liam needed to keep standing.

"How is he?"

"I haven't heard of the doctors since I got here. Harry told me they hushed him into the surgical center.l right after he got here."

He hold her hand and guided her to the closest seat.

"Where are the girls? Yaser?"

"Back in Bradford with the girls." Trisha rubbed. Their intertwined hands. "He thought that he would be make himself useful at home looking out for the girls rather than here."

"What about Doniya?" Liam asked.

"She came with me." Trisha nodded to anyone in specific. Liam looked at her and saw her terrified look. He knew they both in this together. He pushed her to a second hug this time more prolonged.

 

He must have doze off. He woke up with someone gently shaking him. When. Liam opened his eyes he saw Doniya, his eyes focused a little and he noticed Trisha from afar talking to the doctors. He saw the doctor nodded and touch Trisha's arm in act of comfort, then he walked off.

"The surgery's ended." Doniya said while sitting by his side.

"How is he? Can I see him?" Liam blurted out.

"The doctor said he was transferred to the ICU." She handed him a cup of coffee. "She also said that he suffered from a contusion. They will keep him sedated for a while to let his brain recover."

She tapped his knee and sighed. They watched Trisha approach them.

"I need to go get his papers done and then we can go. You see how powerful Allah is? Our boy is out of danger. I told you he would look after us." Trisha placed her hand on her chest and murmured something Liam couldn't hear.

A huge pressure has lifted from Liam's chest, but he didn't felt like he could breath quite yet, he felt like he would be able to rest only when he saw Zayn with his own eyes and made sure he was alright.

"But contusion?" Liam asked looking at Trisha but it was Doniya who answered.

" An area of his skull was fracture, so they needed to open it up fix the skull and drain the blood clot."

Liam took a deep breath.

"They said that they could only access the extension of his injury when he wakes up."

"For how long?"

"What?

"How long will they keep him under?" He didn't want to guess how long would it be, the idea of having Zayn in coma, although it was an induced one, terrified him.

"They don't know yet, but a couple of days maybe."

Trisha touched his shoulder. She squeezed and gave him an encouraging smile.

"He will be fine darling. Have faith."

"We need to go home. The visiting hours are long past finished."

Doniya and Trisha started to gather her things, preparing to leave.

"Where are you guys staying? You could stay with me." Liam stood up and feel up his back pockets to see if he grabbed his keeps and wallet.

"That would be lovely. Thank you darling." Trisha smiled to him and they started to walk in direction to the reception desk. "I need to call Yaser."

 

Yaser and the girls came on Friday. The accident happened on a Wednesday. Their visit was brief, a lot of people weren't allowed in the room at once. Safaa back down when it was her time to see Zayn. She confessed to Liam that she was afraid to look at her brother and he never woke up again. Liam tried to reason with her but she just didn't bulged. Instead she wrote him a note and gave it to Liam so he could give it to Zayn when he wakes up. The girls were back in Bradford on Tuesday. Eventually Doniya had to go back to Bradford to take care of her mom business, leaving Liam and Trisha to look after Zayn"s sleeping figure. At night, before Liam head to work, Trisha made sure to make him food, she calmed that be would be able to work properly if he went out with an empty stomach then,Liam went to work and Trisha stayed at home. Sometimes he get home early and he would catch her crying. They stayed in this arrangement for two weeks. The day the Doctor announced that they were going to take Zayn out of the coma was something he would never forget.

Comas were nothing like Hollywood portraits it. Movies and TV shows were so insanely wrong. Liam would never guess that coming out of a coma was a slow and gradual process. None of that immediately response where as soon as you cut the supply of medication, the person would wake up in minutes. None of that shit was real. The real thing was much more frustrating and unnerving. They would first reduce the dose of medication that kept him sleeping until they stopped with all the propofol. Then, they would wait for Zayn to emerge. He didn't wake up in the first two days they cut the drugs. Only on the third day, Zayn open his eyes for a moment, but still he wasn't alert enough. Due to the gravity of Zayn's injury the doctors told them it would be normal for him taking a bit longer to come back. On the 5th day Zayn had submerged completely. The doctor still kept him on the ICU for another 72 hours just to make sure if he was stable enough to breath on his own. Two days later he was moved to the room.

 

"Knock, knock."

Niall lifted up his head and look at the door. He found Liam leaning over it with a bouquet of flowers in hands.

"Aaaaawww, that's so nice of you." Niall said in a mocking tone, putting his hands on his chest. "You didn't need to."

"They are not for you jerk." Liam smiled. He entered in the room.

"I heard you were being discharged today. Came to check up on you."

"It's all good. Not going to lose my leg or anything. I'm going to Josh's."

Liam looked around expecting to see Niall's better half come out from somewhere.

"Where is he?"

"Signing my papers." Niall gave Liam this sweet warm in love look.

"Guess you will be stuck with those for a while, huh?" He said pointing to the crutches.

Niall shrugged.

"Zayn woke up. He was moved to the bedroom today. I was actually going to see him after here."

Niall was caught off guard, but soon he looked relieved. "The nurses told me when he woke up. I never been so grateful in my entire life when she told me. What aren't you up there already."

At this moment Josh appeared on the door.

"Hey, you good to go?"

Niall looked at him and grabbed the duffel bag on top of the bed.

"Yeah." Niall grabbed the crutches and wobbled out of the room.

"I'll come see you next week."

"Sounds good." He head Niall said. He stayed there watching Niall walk eoff slowly while Josh walked close behind him watching out for every step Horn made. Liam looked at the flowers he was carrying and made his way to Zayn's room.

 

He could hear sounds coming from outside Zayn's room. He could distinguish the voices of Trisha, the girls and Yaser. They probably had arrived early. Trisha must have me mentioned but his head was too high to catch up with whatever she said that morning.

He breath in and out and grabbed the handle. He could feel the buzz running through his body. He indulged himself in this feeling for a little longer before opening the door.

The laughed died down and the people in the room turned to look at him. Liam's eyes found Zayn's in matters of seconds. There it was the amber color he knew so well and missed desperately. Liam felt his face heating up and tears pooling in his eyes. He rubbed his hands on his face trying to chase out the need to cry. He walked farther into the room and got close to the bed.

"I bought you these." He said showing the bouquet of Daisies. “ I didn't want to show up with empty hands.”

He smiles shyly. Liam placed the flower on the bed and went to hold zayn’s hand, which he moved slowly away.

Zayn looked at the flowers and then at Liam. He had this funny look on his face that Liam couldn’t quite read. He went to hold the side rails of the bed instead, just so his hands didn’t wandering around.

“How are you feeling?”

“Fine…” he had this smile somewhat confused.

As if sensing the awkward tension in the air Trisha clapped her hands and looked at the girls.

“Why don’t we all go take a walk on the cafeteria, what do you think girls?” Trisha said summoning her daughters.

Liam watched the girls groan and stand up going up to Zayn one by one to hug him. Zayn’s mom was sitting right beside him. He saw when Trisha was going to stand up and Zayn grabbed her hand. He looked at his with a silent request.

She looked at him and them looked at Liam. She was as clueless and him. She turned to Yaser that immediately seemed to understand.

“Come on girls! moving on!” he walked out the room with them and closed the door behind him.

Trisha returned to her seat and Zayn looked at Liam again. He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times and cocked his head.

“Huhh, sorry.” he said. “I think I didn’t catch your name?”

The world seemed to have stopped. Liam looked at him and then at trisha who looked as confused as him.
A nervous laughed escaped him.

“What?”

Zayn smiled embarrassed. “I can’t quite recall where do I know you from.”

“Are you one of Louis’ friends?” Zayn squinted his eyes as if trying to remember. “No, don’t think so.”

It must be a joke right? No, it’s not even April yet. Zayn wouldn’t be so mean to pull this type of prank right after he woke up, right? Right?!

“Zayn, cut it out already. It’s not funny.” Trisha scolded him.

“What did I do?!?”

 

He remembered that night when Zayn was still coming out of the coma and Liam couldn’t quite sleep with all the thoughts he had on his mind. He was so scared and obsessed that he started to looking up the side effects of Zayn’s injury and anything related to coma.

He tried to control his breath. Don’t panic. That’s what he was telling him over and over again.

Zayn still looked at him as if trying to figure him out.

“I’m so sorry. The doctors told me that it would be hard to recall things after waking up.”
The way he looked at Liam was apologetic.

Liam started to breath quickly and tears threatened to start falling.

“Zayn…”

“Who are you again?”