Nadia almost didn't go back to the facility the next day after her mom's story and her revelation. She wished she could say it was because she thought Cody wouldn't be there.

She snorted incredulously to herself at that line of thought. Cody had been there every day she had visited so far. And her visits had been frequent. It was a wonder that she hadn't been concerned about who Cody might be visiting so often before then.

Nadia thought back to all the times that she nonchalantly dismissed her aunt's coma, her words ringing of her true confession- I don't care if she comes out alive or not. She remembered bringing up her younger brother, complaining about whatever irritating antic he had pulled that week, all while being sheltered under the undying adoration from her mother.

Nadia wondered how often while listening to her insensitive grievances, Cody had wished his mother cared that much for his brother. At least Nadia's mother loved unconditionally, in contrast to not loving at all.

Alright, so she was ashamed. But she had been brash, and for all her pride, Nadia knew she owed Cody an apology, at least.

There was nothing Nadia hated more than admitting she was wrong, though, even with as large a gaffe as this one. So when she finally decided to visit the facility the next day, she did so with even more reluctance than she had approached her first visit with.

Cody was in his usual hallway, leaning against the wall, and Nadia braced herself for giving the uncomfortable apology. But the usually observant teen seemed oblivious to Nadia's appearance, transfixed on two men, a doctor and a man who bore resemblance to Cody.

"Is that your Dad?" Nadia said softly in lieu of a hello. The hall was busy with nurses bustling with clipboards and families tugging along loud toddlers to see their grandparents, but she still felt the need to whisper. Maybe it was the tremor in his hand, or how he was biting down on his lip so hard that it looked on the verge of bleeding. Nadia has never seen Cody look this shaken before.

"Yeah," Cody responded. According to Cody, the man was slightly younger than Nadia's mother, but worry lines that seemed to be permanently etched around his eyes and mouth gave him a decade more in appearance. "He's talking to our doctor. The insurance won't cover the life support for much longer, so he wants to know what the prognosis is. If there are no signs of the coma abating soon, then…" Cody's silence told Nadia much more than words could have.

"So? Why aren't you over there? Don't you want to know?" Nadia asked.

Cody shook his head resolutely. "Maybe I should be with him, but I… I just can't. I can't stand listening to the doctor dodging around the answer before he finally cuts to the chase. If I hope, and then hear him tell me d-death is inevitable, then I'll break. And I can't do that now. Not when there might be so little time." Unshed tears shone in his eyes, and Nadia kindly refrained from pointing out the obvious; he was on the brink of breaking already.

"It's better to get answers now than to make yourself wait," Nadia told him gently. "The answer will be the same, no matter how long you postpone it."

"I know," Cody said. "That's why I'm here. I can't tear myself away. If I watch them closely…" He closed his eyes momentarily, before opening them again to fixate on the pair of men. "Then I don't have to listen."

Nadia followed Cody's gaze across the hall. The doctor kept an air of professionalism as he went though explanations she couldn't hear, and Cody's dad seemed stoic, so she questioned whether Cody would be able to tell from a distance whether the news was good or bad. But moments later, she was proven wrong when the father's face crumpled, and hid his face in his hands. She helplessly watched as Cody turned white, and took a few halted steps backward before he turned and ran without a word out the double doors of the hallway.

"Cody? Cody!" Nadia called after him, and hesitated long enough to see the boy's father blatantly stare at her with red eyes before she moved to follow him.

"Ms. Shay? Excuse me, Ms. Shay?"

Nadia whirled around to see her aunt's nurse, probably recognizing her and wanting to ask what was the matter. "I'm sorry, nurse, but now isn't really the time-"

"Ms. Shay," the nurse said sternly. "I called your mother, and she said you were here. I've been looking for you. It's your aunt."

Nadia's heartbeat caught in her throat. "Is everything alright? Is she- did she pass?" The words seemed too heavy on Nadia's tongue, considering she didn't even care for her aunt.

The nurse smiled. "Actually, quite the opposite. The medication worked." She beamed as Nadia felt realization creep up onto her face. "She woke up a few hours ago."

Three weeks past in a blur, and without warning the dead leaves that crunched under Nadia's feet turned into the soft dusting of first snow. Winter wouldn't officially start until the next day, but the sharp gusts of wind that numbed her fingers and burned her nose promised an unusually bitter cold winter ahead.

Nadia couldn't believe that Maude had only been conscious for the better part of a month. She had ludicrously imagined that her aunt would be completely better when the nurse had brought Nadia the news of her waking up. In reality, when Nadia followed the nurse back into Nadia's room, Maude looked the same as always- unconscious, the ventilator's familiar swoosh providing air to her lungs.

"When she woke up, she tried to breathe naturally, and choked on the ventilator. She was panicking to an extent that it was necessary to sedate her, but she will wake up again within the next hour or two," the nurse explained. "We'll keep her on the ventilator for only a day more most likely, and then we'll ease her off of it. Because of the invasiveness of the larynx intubation and the long term nature of this patient, it will likely be a few days before she can talk without aggravating her throat. From there, after a week of getting her started on any physical therapy needed, and checking for the extent of any and all brain damage-"

"Brain damage?" Nadia said, bewildered.

"Yes, Ms. Shay. I'm afraid that with the duration of the coma your aunt endured and the extent of the trauma, it is quite possible she has brain damage. After we determine the amount of damage, we will send her home, and she will just have to return twice a week for therapy."

Maude, as predicted, did have brain damage- she experienced great difficulty walking, even with a walker, and her speech slurred. But that didn't stop her from making every jab she could at Nadia as soon as her throat healed enough for her to talk.

It had been a very long three weeks.

Nadia had been assigned the role of glorified baby sitter, since she was on winter break from college and her mother was at work. As a result, Nadia lacked both the time and an excuse to go back to the facility and see if Cody was there. Aunt Maude had her physical therapy there, but Nadia's mom left work early to bring her to and from the sessions, insisting on keeping hawk eyes over Maude's progress.

Nadia was grateful to have at least a couple of hours to herself free from her aunt's scrutiny, but she was disappointed to lose her only opportunity to check up on Cody. The memory of Cody running away in distress haunted Nadia, but she had no way to contact him. For someone who was supposed to be a close friend, Nadia knew surprisingly little about him. She didn't even have a last name to go off of.

There was less than a week to Christmas, and while Nadia's mother decorated their modest tree under Aunt Maude's omnipresent criticism, Nadia wondered if Cody still had a brother, or if it would just be him and his father. Nadia could picture their holiday all too well; Christmas decorations shoved out of sight in the attic and trying to find a way to get rid of the pain that accompanied each memory associated with the lost family member.

Nadia's window of opportunity came with a phone call from her mother on a dreary Friday afternoon.

"Now, I know the last thing you want to do is be stuck with your Aunt for a forty minute round trip car ride, but I can't get out of work today, sweetheart, and you know how important it is for Maude to not miss any of her physical therapy, and I'm sorry but-"

"No worries, Mom," Nadia reassured her as she took a breath. "I understand. I'll take her for today. You just take your time doing whatever you need to do at work, okay?"

Nadia's mom's sigh of relief was audible, even over the phone. "Thank you, darling. I'll see you at dinner."

The car ride was antagonizing, and by the time Nadia was parked at the facility, Maude had found no less than sixty-four things to complain about Nadia's car. But soon enough, Nadia had handed her off to her PT specialist (who looked almost as excited as she would be to get a root canal), and she took the familiar walk to Cody's hallway.

When Nadia finally made it to the hallway, she felt crushing disappointment to find it uninhabited. But just as she was about to turn heel and go back to her Aunt, a familiar man walked out of a room a few doors down from Maude's former room. He rubbed his eyes wearily before her saw Nadia, recognition slashing in his eyes.

Cody's father.

Nadia cleared her throat and gave a stiff nod in acknowledgement before again making the decision to go back to her Aunt. As much as she wanted to see Cody again, it would be awkward to try to explain to his father how exactly she knew him.

Oh, I just decided it'd be great to make friends with a boy five years younger while we both visited family members who were in a coma. Mine is fine now, but I hear your son is about to die. Sorry about that, by the way.

Yeah, not exactly a conversation Nadia wanted to have.

But the decision was taken out of her hands. "Excuse me? Ma'am?"

Nadia considered ignoring him and pretending she didn't know it was her he was calling out to. But there were no other people in the hallway, and Nadia figured that the man already was going through enough already. He didn't need a stranger who had befriended his son to outright ignore him.

Nadia turned around to face him, putting on a polite smile. "May I help you?"

"Sorry, you may not remember this, but I saw you a couple weeks ago, and you were shouting his name- " He cleared his throat and looked away. "Sorry. Are you a friend of Cody's?"

Nadia laughed to herself. "I guess you can say that. He's a good kid. Been there for me when I needed someone to listen."

Cody's dad smiled. "He's always been like that; wise beyond his years. His brother liked to say that he was seventeen going on thirty." His wistful gaze sharpened again, fatigue and grief settling back in as he was brought back from happier memories. "I haven't ever seen you visit. I'm in the room with Cody most of the time, and his friends used to constantly be there, but it's been a few months." He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. "I suppose they've all moved on with their lives- they have senior year to deal with and all. But I've never seen you."

Nadia smiled self-consciously. "No, visiting the Facility has been more of a recent thing for me- I started in the fall. I guess we missed each other." She wondered how close Cody and his friends were if they were going to the Facility just to provide support for him when he was with his comatose brother. Nadia somewhat doubted her own friends would do the same.

Cody's father smiled tiredly. "Well, we were just about to leave, but if you want to see him, go ahead. I need to wait a few more minutes anyways, might as well do so in the room."

Nadia felt a little weird accepting the invitation to see Cody's brother. It seemed like encroaching on his privacy- he never talked about his brother, avoided the subject, even. But it seemed equally rude to turn down his father's offer, so she nodded her agreement.

"I'm not staying for long, just until my son gets back from getting a snack at the vending machine, but you can stay here instead of in the hallway until then," he said, opening the door. Nadia didn't look forward to spending an awkward few minutes with a man she just met and his dying son, but she consoled herself with Cody's return to the room being in the near future. When Cody's father slipped through the open door quietly, Nadia followed him.

She didn't expect seeing Cody's brother in a coma to evoke a response short of a grimace, remembering her Aunt in the same position. After all, the boy was a complete stranger to Nadia, despite his relations to Cody. But walking into the room, she felt like she was punched in the stomach. All of the air left he lungs, and she openly gaped for a few seconds.

She had reasoned that Cody was visiting a comatose sibling.

She never realized it was his twin.