Just when I had decided Ian had left for good, the door opened and Ian came strolling into the room, the doctor right behind him.  I almost did a double take when they walked through the door, they looked so similar, and I knew, right away, that the doctor was Ian’s dad.  Dr. Wallace was tall and lean, with very defined features and a no-nonsense attitude, his dark hair was the same shade as his son’s, though streaked with grey, which lent him an air of distinction.  The only really noticeable difference between father and son were the color of their eyes, Dr. Wallace’s eyes were dark brown, but even that difference was easily overlooked as the intensity behind them was the same.  I had to admit, that even in his fifties, Dr. Wallace was a good-looking man and being in the same room with both he and his son suddenly felt a bit overwhelming.

“So, Lyla,” Dr. Wallace began, as he scanned the chart in his hand, “I guess soccer really isn’t your sport.”

“No sport is my sport,” I chuckled half-heartedly.

“How are you feeling?”

“Sore,” I groaned.

Dr. Wallace gave me a slight smile as I told him what hurt and where before he proceeded with the exam.  I did my best not to wince too much as he examined my head but the goose egg growing on the back of my head was a lot more sore than I realized and the examination of my puffy nose brought involuntary tears to my eyes.

“Sorry,” Dr. Wallace apologized when he noticed the tears running down my cheeks, “this tends to be a little painful.  Just hang in there, I’m almost finished.”

“‘Kay,” I whispered as a searing pain shot into my brain.

It felt like an eternity before Dr. Wallace was finally finished with his exam, each poke and prod sent a fresh wave of pain through my head and new tears to my eyes.  Finally he stepped back and gave me his diagnosis.

“Your nose is definitely broken.”

“Figures,” I muttered to myself.

“There’s no displacement of the bone, which is good, but you’re going to be sore for a couple of days, at least.  You can put ice on it to help with the swelling, but don’t leave it on for more than fifteen minutes at a time.  You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the pain and a decongestant will help you breathe a little better, if you need it.  Are either of your parents here?”

“Her mom is on the way,” Ian answered for me.

“Alright, as with any head injury, your mother is going to need to keep an eye on you for the next twenty-four hours.  If there are any changes in your symptoms or behavior, she’s going to need to bring you back.  Alright?”

“Yes sir,” I answered.

“I’m going to send you down for a CT scan, just as a precaution, and as soon as we get the results you’ll be free to go.”

“Okay,” I sighed.

“Ian, why don’t you help Lyla get cleaned up a bit while she waits,” Dr. Wallace instructed as he finished with his charts and headed for the door.

“Sure,” Ian shrugged as he followed his dad out of the room.

A couple of minutes later, Ian was back, toting an armful of towels and such, which he dumped on the bed beside me.

“I must look pretty awful,” I sighed as Ian handed me a damp cloth and I started wiping the blood off my hands.

“It’s not your best look, that’s for sure.”

“How bad is it?”

“See for yourself,” Ian instructed as he handed me a small mirror.

“No way,” I groaned as a swollen, bruised and bloodied face stared back at me from the mirror.  “I look like a run-over raccoon.”

“Like I said, not your best look.”

With a little scrubbing and a whole lot of wincing, I managed to make myself a little more presentable, though the blood on my shirt still made me look like the victim of some vicious bear attack.  I wondered how well my mom was going to handle things, once she saw me.  She might be cool and collected most of the time, but seeing me like this was likely to send her into a panic; at least she wouldn’t have to see me covered in blood, which should help, a little.

“So, you said my mom was on the way?”

“Yeah, Yuuki called her a while ago and she said she’d be here as soon as she could.”

“You talked to Yuuki?  When?”

“When I went to move the car, they’re waiting to see how you are.”

“Really?  Wait, who’s they?”

“Jack and Yuuki.”

“What?  Why?”

“I told you, they want to know how you are.  You saw yourself how awful you looked, they’re worried.  I think you would have had a few more waiting out there, if they knew where you were.  You did make quite a scene.”

“Oh good grief,” I muttered.  “Could you please go tell them that I’m fine and that they should just go home?”

“I could, but I doubt they’ll listen.”

“Okay, so why aren’t you out there with them?”

Ian didn’t answer, he just raised an eyebrow and gave me a slightly crooked grin.

“Right,” I nodded in understanding.

This was the first time Jack and Yuuki had been “out” together, and though a hospital waiting room might not be the ideal place for a first date, it was better than being home, alone.

“So, that’s your dad, huh?”

“Yup.”

“Is that why you were coming here anyway?”

“Huh?” Ian asked, looking a little confused.

“At the field, when you volunteered to bring me here, you said you were coming anyway.  Was it to see your dad?”

“Oh, no, not really,” Ian shrugged.

“Then why were you coming here; if you don’t mind my asking.  Were you going to visit someone?”

“Nosy, aren’t we?”

“Sorry,” I mumbled.

“If you must know, I was coming to work.”

“Work?  Really?”

“Well, volunteer, actually.”

“Really?  That’s cool!  Oh, are you late, do you need to go?  Did I make you late?  I’m so sorry.  You can go, really, I’m fine.”

“I know and it’s fine,” Ian chuckled, “I already talked to my supervisor and I can make up my hours another day.  It’s no big deal, I’ve got a million hours in already.”

“Are you sure?  I’m so sorry I ruined your day.”

“Will you please stop apologizing?  I already told you it was fine.  Forget about it.”

“Okay, sorry, I’ll stop,” I stammered as Ian shot me an icy glare.  “So, since I can’t apologize, will you let me say thank you?”

“I suppose.”

“Alright then, thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Before our conversation could go any further I was carted off for my CT scan and by the time I returned, Ian was gone.  Dr. Wallace came in a few minutes later to tell me everything looked fine and I was free to go.  He handed me several sheets of paper with instructions and warnings and what to look for and expect within the next few days and reminded me of everything he had said before, about the ice and all.  I thanked him for everything and with a quick smile he was gone, leaving me to find my way out on my own.  The world had stopped spinning quite a while ago but the pounding in my head and the queasiness in my stomach made standing a bit of a challenge.  I started to inch my way toward the door, gripping the side of the bed for support, but it was slow work and I seriously began to doubt my ability to make it to the lobby, when Ian came in to check on me.

“What are you doing?” he asked with a grin.

“What does it look like I’m doing?  I’m leaving.”

“Oh, right.  So do you need any help or can you manage on your own?”

“I might be able to make it to the lobby, in a year or two…maybe.”

“Here,” Ian chuckled as he wrapped an arm around my waist, “put your arm around here, ready?”

“Uh-huh,” I nodded, dazed more by Ian than anything else.

“Sure?”

“Yup.”

“Alright, then let’s go.  Your mom’s waiting for you.”

“How is she?”

“Oh, well, you know…”

“She’s not freaking out, is she?”

“Maybe a little,” Ian grinned.

“Oh geeze.  I’m sorry.”

“Enough with the apologies already,” Ian groaned, “let’s just go.”

With Ian’s help, I made it to the lobby where I was immediately swarmed by my mom, Yuuki and even Jack, each of them asking a million questions at once.

“How are you?”

“Are you okay?”

“What’s wrong?”

“What happened?”

“What did the doctor say?”

“Are you in pain?”

“You look terrible.”

The sudden swarm of people and barrage of questions was a little overwhelming for my already pounding head and I felt myself beginning to sway.  For a second I was certain I was about to collapse but Ian tightened his grip on me, pulling me closer so I could lean on him for support.  Grateful to him for saving me, once again, I gave him a quick look of gratitude before turning my attention to the three worried faces before me.

“I’m fine,” I assured them, “it looks worse than it actually is.”

“Are you sure,” my mom asked, practically frantic with worry, “what happened, what’s wrong?”

“Yuuki just said you’d been hit and taken to the hospital.  I thought you’d been in an accident or something.”

“Sorry,” Yuuki apologized sheepishly, “it was the blood.  It made me a little loopy so I kind of left out some details.”

“So you weren’t in an accident?  You’re all fine?  Everybody’s fine?”

“Yes mom, everyone’s fine.”

“What about you?” she asked turning to Ian.  “You’re covered in blood.  Are you sure you’re fine?”

“Yes ma’am, I’m fine.  It’s just Lyla’s blood.”

“What?  Lyla’s?  Why are you covered in Lyla’s blood?  What happened?”

“Mom, calm down, please.  I got hit in the face with a soccer ball, that’s all.  No big deal.”

“No big deal?  You’re in the hospital and that boy is covered in your blood, how is that not a big deal?”

“Mom, please!  The ball hit my nose, it started bleeding, Ian carried me to the car and brought me here, okay?  Now please, calm down.”

“I’m sorry, I’m just freaking out a little, okay?  I thought you were dead or something, but you’re not, so that’s good.  And you’re fine, right?  Everyone’s fine?  No broken bones or anything?”

“I have a broken nose,” I sighed, “but Ian’s dad said it wasn’t serious.  No shifting bones or anything like that so I’ll be fine.  Okay?”

“So I take it your dad’s the doctor who looked at my baby?”

“Yes ma’am,” Ian nodded.

“And he said she was fine?”

“He said she would be in a couple of days, at least.”

“I see, and what else did he say?”

“Mom, I’ve got a bunch of papers here that’ll tell you everything you need to know,” I groaned shoving the papers into her hands.  “Now can we please just go?”

“Of course we can honey, I’m sorry.  I just need to see if there’s any paperwork I need to fill out and then we can go.”

My mom hurried off toward the reception desk while the four of us just stood there in her wake.

“I’m so sorry,” Yuuki moaned when my mom was out of ear shot, “I didn’t mean to freak her out.”

“It’s okay, really.  You know how my mom is.”

“Yeah,” Yuuki grinned.

“You mean your mom’s always like that?” Jack asked in mild horror.

“Oh no, she’s usually very cool, she just has a tendency to flip out whenever I get hurt.  Sorry she freaked you out so bad.”

“It’s alright,” Jack insisted, “I guess my mom would probably flip out too, if she’d heard I was in an accident.”

“I think all of our moms would,” Yuuki sighed and both Jack and Ian agreed.

“You know, I really appreciate you guys coming but you don’t have to hang around anymore.  My mom will probably be back soon so now would be a good time to leave, you know, before she got back.  I’d hate for you to witness another one of her freak-outs.”

“That might not be such a bad idea,” Yuuki grinned.  “I’ll call you later, okay?”

“Mind making it tomorrow?”

“No problem.  Tell Liz bye for me, oh and tell her I’m really sorry for scaring her.”

“I will,” I grinned.

“I guess that means I’m going too,” Jack announced, “sorry about your nose, I hope it gets better soon.”

“Thanks.  I guess I’ll see you guys on Monday, we’ve got sets to work on, right?”

“Right,” Jack grinned, “well, see you then.  Later Ian.”

“See ya,” Ian answered.

Yuuki and Jack left the hospital together and I couldn’t suppress my smile as I watched them go.  Despite the events of the day, things had turned out pretty well for the two of them.

“What are you smiling about?” Ian asked.

“Nothing.”

“That’s not a nothing smile.”

“Well, look who’s nosey now,” I teased.

“Forget it,” Ian growled.

“Fine, if you must know, I’m smiling because I’m happy for my friend.”

“Because she’s with Jack?”

“Yeah,” I sighed, “she’s liked him for so long, I’m happy to see they’re finally together, or at least on the way to getting there.”

“Oh, they’re there,” Ian chuckled, “Jack can’t talk about anything else.”

“Well then I’m happy for them both.”

My mom came back before Ian could say anything more and asked if he’d be willing to help me to the car, which he agreed to do, without hesitation.  Once I was settled in, my mom thanked Ian for everything he had done for “her baby” while Ian insisted it was nothing.  With a quick good-bye to both my mom and me, Ian shut the door and walked off, disappearing among the cars before mom had pulled out of her parking space.

I spent the entire ride home trying to explain exactly what happened both at the soccer field and the hospital.  Once my mom was satisfied I wasn’t permanently damaged she relaxed and by the time we were home, everything was cool.  Mom helped me inside and then insisted I give her my clothes so she could work on the stains.  I had no problem following her orders, as the only thing I wanted to do was relax and take a shower.

“Just don’t make the water too hot,” my mom warned, as I shut the bathroom door behind me “I can’t have you fainting in there.”

“Alright,” I called as I glanced in the mirror and shuddered; the swollen nose, black eyes and flecks of dried blood I had missed while trying to clean up at the hospital made me look, well…awful.

 

I spent the rest of the weekend nursing my swollen face while the events of Saturday replayed in my mind.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get Ian out of my head; his sudden, unexpected kindness had been appreciated at the time, but now it was driving me crazy.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t figure out what it meant.  Did it mean I was forgiven or was he just helping because Coach Carter had told him to?  If that was the case, why did he volunteer to take me to the hospital?  If he had to work, why did he stay once I was there?  Why didn’t he just leave?  Why did he help me to the lobby?  Once I was there, why did he stay when everyone else went home?  And even more confusing was why I obsessing over someone who I had vowed to give up?  I nearly drove myself nuts, trying to come up with answers to all of my questions, but it didn’t do any good; by Monday morning, I was still just as confused as ever.

 

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