Chapter Twelve: The Ultimate Cheesecake
I don't know how long I sat there, crying as I held onto Chad's hand. But when a nurse came and told me that visiting hours were up, it was already dark outside.
I stood outside the Bernard hospital, watching as my breath came out in even puffs of smoke. It was the beginning of April already and yet the nights were still so cold.
At least this one was.
"Rachel!" A familiar van pulled up, with a familiar bunch of guys coming out of it, all shouting my name. I stared at them, my mind not making the connection immediately. "You're here!" All five of the boys came bounding up at once. "Why didn't you tell us your friend was in the hospital?" Gage asked, his voice very emotional, despite his tough guy face. "Yea, seriously, we were worried." Wyatt said, his blue eyes filled with concern. "Even if you left a note, that would have been better." Elijah pushed his glasses against his face, but even I could still hear the note of worry in his voice. "Yeah, I would have comforted you.." Frankie smirked suggestively, and then was promptly smacked upside the head by Wyatt.
Crying as much as I did had left a void inside my heart, but seeing them all with such concerned faces made the emotions start flooding back to me. More guilt, coupled with a dash of frustration and a nice heaping of anger, which was directed more at myself than them. "Why?" I asked, well, shouted. "Why do you care?!" Tears were pricking at the corner of my eyes, but I fought to keep them back. I hated this. I hated them. I hated these stupid feelings.
"Idiot." I heard a voice by my side, and turned to see Roy standing there, looking very displeased. "Even if you're only here temporarily, right now you're still part of the band." He said, crossing his arms against his chest, a look of disapproval clearly written on his face. "We look after our own." I stared at him, wanting to respond but not really knowing how to.
The words I'd been not wanting to admit all day came back to me, and my pride couldn't even stop them from coming out of my mouth. "I'm sorry." I looked down at the ground, not wanting them to see me when I was at my weakest. In fact, I really just wanted to go crawl into a hole right now.
With a laugh, someone slapped me in the back, making me step forward in surprise. "It's alright as long as you're okay." They were all grinning at me, "Yeah, Rach, we're here for you, you know?" Wyatt flashed his 1000-watt smile, and I felt my cheeks heat up in embarassment.
I guess somewhere along the way as I was lifting their equipment, and enduring this chaos week with them, we became friends.
Realizing this, I felt the sudden urge to tell them everything. Why I left, what happened with Chad, and even how I felt. Which was a new one for me, even my therapist didn't get clued in on that. I also felt a sudden urge to run, a fear of being hurt welling up within me. But I stood my ground.
"Chad," My voice came out hoarse, so I cleared my throat and tried again. "Chad, my best friend, he fell into a coma." I choked out, fighting the tears again. Saying it made it real, which made the tears I thought had dried up start flooding back. "And it's my fault." I felt weak. Vulnerable. I didn't like this feeling. But they deserved an explanation. "We got into a fight," I said, wiping my eyes as they all patiently waited for me to continue. "And that pushed him over the edge." I said, sitting down at the stairs of the hospital, my legs losing the will to stand any longer.
They all stared at me, obviously shocked. "Oh, Rach, I'm so sorry." Wyatt sat down beside me, a sympathetic look in his eyes. I hated getting sympathy from others, even if they were my new friends or not. I crossed my arms and rubbed them, just now noticing the goosebumps that had shown itself on my skin.
"Idiot." I looked up to see Roy staring down at me, an irritated look on his face. That was the second time he'd insulted me, I noted. "Roy!" The others retorted before I could, but he shot them a look, shutting them up instantly.
"Don't be stupid." He told me, standing in front of me on the steps. "Fights don't put people into comas. So it's not your fault." He said, meeting my eyes. I was surprised to not see the expression of pity on his face that was so evident on everyone else's.
"He's right." Elijah piped up from the background, pushing his glasses against his nose as he spoke. "Fights cause emotional distress, but not enough to send a person into a comatose state. It's a brain function that's completely seperate from your emotional faculties." He said in a poin-dexter type of way.
Were they right? It wasn't my fault? But if it wasn't my fault, than why was Chad in the coma? Was something going on in his life he never told me about? If so, why didn't he? I had always assumed there were no secrets between us, was that just a fantasy I invented?
Having it be my fault seemed easier to bear than if it wasn't. Because if it wasn't, that meant that Chad didn't trust me as much as I hoped he did. If it wasn't, than our friendship wasn't as solid as I thought it was. If it wasn't, than I didn't know what to feel. Had I been ignorant the whole time? Was Chad having problems that he never felt comfortable telling me about? Was he only my best friend, and me not his? Had I even been a friend to him?
I didn't know. I didn't know anything; all the opinions and facts that seemed so rock-solid even just a day ago had now been shaken. I felt insecure, unsure, and weak.
But at least I wasn't alone.
"Rachel, come on. Being at a hospital for too long makes my stomach uneasy." Gage said, pulling me up gently with his massive hands. "Let's go cheer you up." He beamed at me, the corner of his eyes sparkling with what I thought was unshed tears. An arm slinked around my shoulder as I felt myself being pulled into Frankie's chest, "Yeah," He smirked down at me very Frankie-like, "There's this great club-" He was cut off by Roy pushing him away rather forcefully. "No clubs. Wesley's Diner is where we're going." He said, taking the lead by walking off to the van. "Yeah, come on Rach," Wyatt grinned at me, and I found myself being pushed towards the van.
A week ago, I would have never let them do this. Was it because of what happened on this night that I allowed it? Because I was weak, vulnerable? I thought about it, but that didn't seem to be the case. I wanted to go, it was as simple as that. If only everything could be that simple.
Wesley's Diner ended up being a resturaunt that was open round the clock, 24/7. It was simple, quaint, with an eighties' appeal to it. We took a big booth in the back, by the bathrooms. We all barely managed to fit, with one sitting on a pull-up chair at the end. I was squeezed in the middle, with Elijah on my left and Roy on my right, making me feel a slight tinge of claustrophobia.
Coffee was ordered all around, but I didn't drink mine. I just let it warm my freezing hands, listening as the band went on with their daily discussions, my problem seeming to be a thing of the past. "You haven't lived until you've tried the cheesecake." Gage informed me, everyone else nodding enthusiastically in agreement. "Yeah, I swear you'll feel better or I'll owe you a date." Frankie winked at me, but then was immediately slapped upside the head again by Wyatt.
"Statistically speaking, almost 99% of all times we've come here and ordered cheesecake, we've walked out feeling marginally better." Elijah confirmed with less enthusiasm than the others, but with the same amount of confidence.
Well, it was worth a shot, I guess. "Okay, let's get the cheesecake." I agreed, and everyone shouted in triumph, surprising me at their sudden outburst. "Hey, hey waitress!" Wyatt slapped his hands on the table repetitively, attracting not only the waitresses attention, but all the other guests as well. Which weren't many, actually, considering it was pretty late at night. 10:43, the retro clock on the wall specified. "We're going to need six orders of cheesecake here!" The waitress nodded the OK, turning on her heel and disappearing into the kitchen's depths.
"Good choice." Roy nodded in approval, before calmly taking a sip of his black coffee. Seeing him drink it made me look at my own cup that by now had cooled into a lukewarm temperature. I hadn't bothered to put cream or sugar in it either. Nonetheless, I pulled it up to my lips and took a sip cautiously, as if expecting it'd still be hot and scald my lips. I started gagging almost immediately. I was not expecting the bitter taste, and that along with the lukewarm temperature, it made me want to throw up almost immediately. Roy started patting on my back, and everyone stared at me with concerned expressions, asking if I was alright. Which was a dumb question, because at that moment, I obviously was not.
I finally stopped coughing at a moment, embarassed at the attention they were giving me. I was relieved when the waitress came up with six slices of cheesecake, successfully diverting attention away from me. She placed a plate of cold cheesecake in front of me, and I stared at it for a few moments before I realized that everyone was staring at me again.
I blushed at first, but recoiled by glaring at them. "What?!" I snapped, "Why are you staring?"
They all grinned in unison, "Try it! We want to see what you think." Wyatt said, motioning for me to take a bite. I turned my eyes down towards the cheesecake, surprised to see that even Roy was staring at me out of the corner of my eyes. Carefully, I picked up a fork and cut into it, taking a small bite before my face lit up as the creamy texture of the cheesecake melted in my mouth.
That was good cheesecake.
They all started cheering again, happy at the fact that I was enjoying the dessert they'd recommended. I may have made a comment on this, but I was a bit too focused on eating what was left of the cheesecake at the moment.
"So, do you feel better?" Wyatt asked, standing next to me as we waited for everyone to finish paying for their own bills.
I nodded, surprised at myself to realize that I in fact, did feel better. Realizing that, and then thinking of Chad in the hospital, made me feel a twinge of guilt. "I do, actually."
"See, the cheesecake does wonders." He said, nodding confidently at the cheesecake's' success rate.
Before I could respond, Roy came up, twirling the keys in his hands. "Ready?" He asked, raising an eyebrow at us. I nodded again, and we left, Roy dropping me off at my house since we weren't too far away. I said my goodbyes, mixed feelings swirling in my chest as I studied each of their different expressions, different faces. Friends, huh?
I let myself into the house, not surprised to see that mom and Doug had already went to bed. I'd warned them I'd be gone for awhile, so they probably weren't too concerned.
I ran upstairs and into my room, my head spinning fast as the events of the day rushed through my mind. And as I contemplated Wyatt's words, "The cheesecake does wonders." Somehow, I didn't think it was the cheesecake that made me feel better.
A/N -- Wow, been awhile huh? Well, I have to thank you all reviewers for helping me get back into this. :) I was reading through them all, and it motivated me to keep going. I'm going to try and keep it up, so keep in tune! haha