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Chapter Twelve

Kevin felt like screaming. Another two months had passed since he’d been home and all of the therapy that he’d gone through still wasn’t getting him anywhere. He was in the middle of another one of his sessions and all he felt was annoyance towards it all.

“Will this ever get me anywhere?” He asked Jake, his therapist, impatiently.

“Eventually,” Jake answered, “It just takes some patients a little longer than others. That’s all.”

Kevin rolled is eyes. He felt like he was working really hard to recover. He figured that he obviously wasn’t doing enough. If he was, wouldn’t he have made even the slightest progress by now?

“What more can I do to make it go quicker?” Kevin asked, “I’ll do anything you tell me,” he added desperately.

Jake chuckled good naturedly, “Unfortunately, there’s nothing more that you can do,” he informed the frustrated man, “You’re already doing the maximim. That’s how therapy works. Some start to improve right off while others, who work just as hard, if not harder, take much longer. You just have to wait for improvement to take its course on you. It takes time. Be patient.”

“It’s been four months,” Kevin said stubbornly.

“Believe it or not, four months isn’t even that long for something like this,” Jake explained.

Kevin rolled his eyes. He didn’t believe it. When you were used to walking for other thirty years, and were suddenly bound to a wheelchair, four months could seem like a lifetime in itself.

“I don’t want you to take this the wrong way,” Jake started, “Bu have you always been this negative?”

Kevin didn’t say anything. Was that really how people saw him as being lately? He supposed that he could see how he’d be perceived as that. The thought upset him. He was changing in every way possible.

“No,” he finally answered honestly, “I haven’t always been this way. In fact, I used to be the complete opposite.”

Jake continued to help Kevin with his leg exercises. He wished that he could feel something, anything. That would at least mean that he was improving to a certain extent. Instead, he felt nothing below the waist. It felt like there was nothing there at all. A feeling of emptiness. Kevin thought of himself as being incomplete. A major part of him was missing and half of the time, he expected to look down and see nothing there at all.

“Do you think that if it weren’t for your being so famous that you’d still be this angry?” Jake asked.

He had since finished Kevin’s leg exercises. Kevin’s eyes were closed so he didn’t even notice. He put great thought into the question because he honestly didn’t know the answer.

“I’m not sure,” he finally replied, “It would definitely be much easier to cope with fucking useless legs if I weren’t.”

“Care to explain?”

“I perform on stage, which requires dancing,”
Kevin told him, “Can’t exactly do that without legs that work,” he shook his head as if he were stating the obvious, but wondered if he were missing something by the amused look on Jake’s face, “What?” he asked in annoyance.

“You’d be amazed at what you could do in a wheelchair if you put your mind to it and tried.”

“I couldn’t dance with this thing,” Kevin grumbled stubbornly, his mind set insistently, “In case you haven’t noticed, some of our dances are really complex.”

Kevin could tell that Jake was getting irritated with his attitude, but he did a good job of hiding it.

“It’s not an impossible task,” Jake eventually replied, “You could do almost every one of those moves on stage with wheels that the others do on legs.”

Kevin looked thoughtful for a moment. Could he really lead a perfectly normal life? Was Jake right and he be able to tour in his temporary condition? He would love more than anything to be back out on stage. He began to smile at the possibilities, but then shook his head roughly. What was he thinking? Was he insane? There was no way in hell that he’d ever go out on stage in a wheelchair. The usual sour scowl was back on his face again.

“No,” he refused, “I can’t do that.”

“But you were thinking about it, weren’t you?” Jake asked him, a pleased look plastered to his face.

Kevin didn’t want to admit that he actually had been for a moment. He knew that he could not lie though. He despised the look on Jake’s face. It was so knowing, it was sickening.

“So what if I was?” Kevin challenged Jake, looking him square in the eye, “I had a temporary lapse of good judgment.”

“There goes your negative attitude again,” Jake teased, “You know, I really should get paid double for being your councelor too.”

“You’re trained to talk to people like me about our feelings,” Kevin growled through gritted teeth, “I think that you can leave for the day.”

Jake gave one curt nod, gathering his belongings. He decided that it would be a bad idea to bring up the fact that they still had twenty minutes left in their session. He could tell that he’d put Kevin into an even worse mood than he was in before.

“I’m sorry if I upset you,” Jake apologized, “I’ll be here tomorrow, same time. Maybe we can have a fresh start.

Kevin didn’t say anything as Jake let himself out of the house. He couldn’t believe he nerve of the man even thinking or suggesting he go out in stage in his current condition. It took Kevin a moment to notice that he was visibly shaking. Jake had really worked him up. Kevin closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths to try and get himself under control. Would his life ever be the same again?

“Jaime, I really don’t think that you need that,” Stephanie exclaimed as her friend ordered an extra large portion of chili cheese fries, “All of your pigging out lately is beginning to show. At this rate, in another six months, you’ll be huge.”

Jaime grinned. If only Stephanie knew how true that comment was. Months ago, it would have made her paranoid, sending her into near starvation mode. She knew that it was normal while she was pregnant to be like this though, so she wasn’t worried. Neither Stephanie or Anna knew about her pregnancy. She was slightly afraid to tell them, worried about how they would react. After all, she’d only known A.J. for just under five months and she was for months along. It might not exactly look good to her friends. No matter how much Stephanie loved A.J, and the other Boys, getting one of her best friends pregnant after knowing her for a full three weeks as a huge way to get yourself murdered, or at least missing a few important body parts.

“I don’t care,” she replied, “I need it,” she added, hoping that her small hint would be enough to give away what was happening inside of her. It would be easier for them to stumble upon the right answer than for her to flat out tell them.

“No, you don’t need it,” Stephanie cracked.

The three friends continued to walk down the mall. Jaime wished that she wasn’t so nervous about telling her friends her news. She was happy. A.J. was happy. They were still together. She heard A.J. every night on the phone boasting about how he was about to become a father. She found it cute and sweet. But he’d made the guys swear not to tell their girlfriends. They’d obviously kept their promise, or else she would have heard it from one of them by now. As they were walking past a maternity shop, Jaime decided to comment on it. She hoped that it might target something somewhere in one of their heads.

“Those clothes are cute,” Jaime lied, “Lets go in and check them out.”

“James,” Stephanie said, raising an eyebrow, “I didn’t mean that you were fat. Jeez. Those are for fat pregnant ladies.”

“Stephanie,” Jaime said slowly, “You always say how Anna worries you, and me too on occasion. Well, right now, you both are worrying me.”

“Jaime, what are you talking about?” Anna asked.

She wasn’t in the mood to be guessing peoples minds. She was thinking about Kevin. She’d had to leave the house again for him to go through his therapy. He asked her for the first week if she could find somewhere to go for his two-hour sessions. It was to the point now where he didn’t have to ask. She automatically left ten minutes before the therapist’s arrival. Kevin had told her that he was embarrassed about what he went though and didn’t want her to have to see him that way. She told him that it wouldn’t changer her opinion of him, but for some reason, he strongly believed that if she saw what the therapist had to do for him, that she wouldn’t want to be with him, when that day did come.

“Lets see,” Jaime replied, “I have a big appetite. I need the food. I want to look at ugly ass maternity clothes. What ever could I be talking about?”

Stephanie and Anna looked at one another then shrugged. Jaime wondered if they were really clueless or just trying to avoid thinking of the unimaginable. Their friend actually about to become a mother.

“You might want to sit down for this,” Jaime said, walking over to a couch nearby. She couldn’t keep it a secret any longer. She wanted the support from her friends, or for them to at least just know. Keeping it inside was killing her.

Stephanie and Anna followed Jaime to the couch and sat down next to her. Their eyes were full of question and impatients for waiting for her to tell them what she was trying to get at.

“Well,” Jaime started off saying, “Back before we came here, me and A.J. kind of did something.”

“How soon before you came here?” Stephanie asked.

“Um, two months before…me and Aje had only been together for two weeks,” Jaime slowly said, “Anyways, when I got here, A.J. made me go to the doctor because of my strange behavior.”

“You don’t have cancer, do you?” Anna asked wide-eyed. She genuinely looked scared to death.

Jaime glared at her friends. They kept interrupting her. How did they expect her to tell them what was going on with her if she didn’t ever get the chance to tell them? She wondered if she should just wait the next four months and see if they figured it out by her size.

“Would you please just be quiet for two minutes so I can tell you,” Jaime demanded, “Jeez, this is hard enough as it is.”

Neither friend said anything, ready to listen without putting in another word until she was finished. They didn’t know what to think of Jaime acting the way she was. They hoped that it wasn’t serious.

“Okay, now that I finally have your complete attention,” Jaime hurridly said, wanting to just spit it out and get it over with, “It turns out that I was two months pregnant. I am four months pregnant now with A.J’s child.”

For a couple of minutes, neither saying anything. They were completely shocked by the news, not knowing what to think.

“Are you serious?” Anna finally asked.

Jaime nodded, hoping to get some positive feedback. She couldn’t tell if her friends were happy for her or disappointed in her.

“So that’s why you’re a little bigger,” Stephanie said out loud, “Makes since, I guess. But god, you pretty much got knocked up the day you met him.”

Jaime smiled. She wasn’t going to let Stephanie’s comment get her down. She had the support of A.J. He was sticking by her, which she found to be sweet and admirable. Especially since they hadn’t known each other that long. He was amazing, and genuinely wanted to be with her, and help her raise their baby.

“I’m happy for you,” Anna replied, giving her friend a big hug, “Congratulations, girl. You’ll make an awesome mom.”

“Yeah, congrats,” Stephanie repeated, “I have to admit, if you had to get pregnant, it couldn’t be with a better guy.”

After giving their friend their support and wishes for a successful next five months, Jaime turned to Anna.

“How is Kevin lately?” she asked

Anna shrugged. She didn’t know how she could put it without making him sound completely
hopeless. But he wasn’t positive at all. Nothing made him smile anymore. She had to wonder what he looked like when he did, because she had forgotten.

“He is down a lot,” she answered finally, with a sigh, “The therapy isn’t working yet, so he is getting discouraged.”

“Wow,” Jaime whispered, “I’m so sorry. I am sure that you living with him is helping out though.”

Anna gave a half smile. She wasn’t sure if she was or not. Half the time, she thought that she was, but the other half, she felt like she was in the way. Kevin though, told her that he wouldn’t be able to live without her assistance.

“Don’t worry,” Stephanie said with complete confidence, “He’ll snap out of his funk soon. Believe me, when he does, you’ll finally get to meet the real Kevin Richardson for the first time.”

Anna smiled in thanks to Stephanie trying to cheer here up. She just hoped that her friend was right about this. After all, she was right about everything else. But knowing her luck, this would be the one time that Steph would be wrong and Kevin wouldn’t be himself. He would be forever trapped in a depressing, negative mindset.
“Hi baby,” A.J. said, coming up and nuzzling the back of Jaime’s neck with his nose, then kissed.

“Hey A.J.” she replied, spinning around to kiss him on the mouth.

“Did you have fun with your friends today?” he asked her, knowing that she’d gone out to the mall with them.

Jaime nodded, sitting down. She closed her eyes, slightly tired from being out and about all day. She kept thinking about her discussion with them about having a baby. Sometimes, it was even hard for her to believe herself.

“I told them about our baby,” she said as A.J. sat down next to her, handing her a glass of ice water with lemon.

“How did they take it,” he asked.

There was worry in his eyes. The Boys had known about the situation for months now. It was Jaime who was worried about how her friends would react. He prayed that it was good. He knew that without their content happiness, that it would upset his girlfriend, possibly harming the baby. He wanted his baby to be healthy. What proud parent wouldn’t?

“Pretty well,” Jaime answered him, taking a sip of the cool, refreshing water, “Better than I thought. In fact, they seemed pretty happy for me. Although, they take hints like a man would.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” A.J. asked, tickling her in the sides. Jaime squealed, scooting away a few inches. Since she’d become pregnant, she had developed ticklish spots. She’d never had them before.

“I was joking,” she defended, and A.J. let up. There was a twinkle in his eye, and she knew that he wasn’t mad about her sexist comment, “It’s just, I wanted to go in a maternity store, and they still didn’t get it.”

A.J. laughed softly. He could picture the whole day in his head. Jaime dropping hints at different points in the day and her friends still not understanding what it was all about. He knew that she had to tell them herself. If they had guessed, he knew that Stephanie, and probably Anna too, wouldn’t have been so reasonable and talked it out with Jaime. He was glad that everything was going smoothly.

Jaime looked over and saw A.J. just smiling at her, staring at her face. She scrunched her nose up, wondering why he was just gazing at her so intensely. It was making her wonder if there was something wrong with her.

“What?” she finally asked.

“Just looking at the most beautiful girl in the world,” A.J. commented, then lifted her shirt up, bending down to kiss her stomach, “Do you want to know if it’s a boy or girl, or it be a surprise?” he asked, “They said that we could find out on our next doctors visit, which is coming up pretty soon.

“Surprise,” Jaime said without hesitation, “The suspense will make it all the more exciting.”

A.J. couldn’t argue, although to him, it didn’t matter either way. As long as the baby was born healthy, he didn’t care which sex it would be. He just wanted to be able to love and take care of it.

“Okay,” A.J. whispered, “A surprise it shall be.”

Jaime giggled at A.J’s acting goofy. With a yawn, she laid her head down on A.J’s shoulder, deciding to take a nap. A.J. kissed her forehead, wrapping his arms tightly around her.

“I love you so much,” he whispered in her ear, for the first time ever.

Jaime’s eyes flew open. Had she heard A.J. right? She was pretty sure she had, but didn’t want to make a fool of herself if she had been conjuring up the whole thing in her head. She decided to take her chances.

“I love you too,” Jaime replied, and she truly meant it.

Anna walked through the doors to the house and threw her bags down on the stairs. She roamed aimlessly though the downstairs searching for Kevin.

“Kev,” she called, “Kevin, I’m home.”

Anna walked around a little more, and then to the back yard, by the pool. She saw him sitting in his wheelchair ten feet from the edge. Anna smiled at the sight of him. He looked to be so deep in thought. Anna walked up beside him.

“Hey,” she softly said, “I’m back.”

Kevin looked up at her, showing her that he recognized she was there, a tight smile forming on his face. His eyes were so sad though and it shattered her heart to see him looking that way. She could tell that there was a lot on his mind. He looked back down and out across at the pool. He was quiet for a few minutes. Anna wondered what was going on in his mind.

“Anna,” he asked quietly, “Do you think I am a negative person?”

Anna bit her bottom lip. She didn’t know how she was going to answer the question. It had taken her by surprise. She knew that if she took to long to reply though, that Kevin would take it as an automatic “yes”

“I wouldn’t say negative,” she said slowly, “Just, upset.”

Kevin sighed. If Anna thought that he wasn’t exactly pleasant to be around, then what were the chances that she would actually agree to dating him? He hadn’t asked in over a month, but he was getting impatient. He wanted to know if he still stood a chance with her.

“Anna,” he said, “I’m completely over Kristin now. I know that I am. Please, would you be my girlfriend?”

Anna looked Kevin in the eye to try and read if he was still missing and longing for his ex. Kevin’s heart raced in anticipation for her answer. Anna wanted to date him more than anything. Kevin, on the other hand, was wondering if she would reject him again. If she did, it would mean one thing. She didn’t want to date someone who was disabled. His mind was set on that. Anna took a deep breath, ready to give Kevin her final answer to the question he’d been waiting for for months

“Yes,” she finally replied, “I’ll be your girlfriend.”

Anna saw Kevin’s eyes brighten at that moment, a huge smile formed on his face. He held his arms out and Anna willingly walked into them, loving the feel of being close to him. She’d been hugged by him before, but it felt more romantic, more special, since they were officially a couple now.

“Thank you,” Kevin murmured in her ear, “You’ve made me so happy.”

Anna smiled, hoping that Kevin’s high mood would stay, but had a feeling that it wouldn’t. Now she would have to be there for him more than ever.

“Babe,” Kevin said, “Would you mind getting me something to drink really quick? Please?”

Anna could tell that he felt bad about asking her the question and didn’t know why. He didn’t need to feel sorry.

“Sure,” she replied, going into the house and grabbing a can of Pepsi out of the fridge. She looked out the window, happy that it had cleared up. The only sign that it had rained was various puddles around the pool. Other than that, it was sunny and warm.

Going back outside carrying the can of Pepsi, Anna walked around the pool to hand it to Kevin. She heard the sound of something falling behind her. Anna looked back to see what it was, but her feet slipped out from under her as she fell, hitting her head hard on the concrete.

“Anna,” Kevin screamed as she slid into the pool, sinking slowly to the bottom of the twelve foot pool.

Kevin quickly wheeled himself to the edge, and saw blood slowly surfacing to the top. He felt as if he were going to be sick. Panic overcame him as he didn’t know what to do. Kevin wished more than anything that he could help his new girlfriend, but if he tired, he’d only end up killing both of them.

“Oh god,” he muttered.

He knew that time was running out fast. The
water surrounding her was turning darker by the second, and he knew that she was losing blood. Kevin’s adrenaline was rushing, but he couldn’t use it to help her. He knew he had to clear his mind and think. He had to think of something to save her before time ran out. She probably only had another three minutes, tops, before brain damage begun to set in. Nothing came.

“Help,” he yelled at the top of his lungs, his throat clogged with emotion and fright, “Someone help. Please, help me.”

Kevin continued to scream, hoping that somebody would hear his desperate pleas. Seconds later, he saw Nick jump his fence, rushing over to him. He wondered how the clumsy boy had gotten over the ten foot wall, but that was the least of his worries. Right now, he had to get Anna out of the pool.

“I was in the neighborhood and heard you yelling,” he said, “What’s the hell is wrong? I thought you were being robbed or something.”

Kevin was too shaken to speak, pointing to the pool. He hope that Nick was for once bright enough to use his common sense to see what was there, and if he did, knew what to do instead of just stare. Nick looked down and saw Anna. He took no time in knowing what had to be done, diving in and swimming swiftly to the bottom. Kevin watched, not taking his eyes off of them. He saw Nick scoop Anna up into his arms and quickly come back towards the surface. Seconds later, he was at the top again with Anna in his arms. Nick gently lifted her out of the pool, hopping out after her. Kevin looked at her, seeing that she’d turned a light shade of purple.

“Oh god,” he choked, “No, this can’t be happening. It can’t be.”

Nick ignored Kevin’s whimpers as he checked Anna’s pulse, doing CPR on her. Kevin couldn’t stand to watch, but he couldn’t force himself to look away either. For what seemed like hours, Nick continued to use CPR on Anna. Kevin felt like he was going to throw up when he saw water spilling from her mouth, knowing immideatly that she must have swallowed quite a bit. The sudden thought dawned on him that maybe she had drown, and it was too late. Nick wasn’t giving up though, and it surprised Kevin that he even knew hat he was doing. After a few more rounds, he could hear a choking noise, and saw Anna’s eyes open slowly. Kevin breathed a huge sigh of relief. Nick slowly helped Anna to sit up. She looked around, confused.

“What happened?” she asked, knowing that her chest was throbbing in pain, and so was her head.

“You slipped and fell into the pool.” Kevin explained as he watched Nick rush into the house.

“Oh.” She replied

Nick came back out with a rag, telling Anna to hold it to her head, guiding her hand to the place where she had hit.

“You feeling okay?” Nick asked her, and Anna nodded. Nick stood up, standing beside Kevin. Anna slowly tried to stand up too, a little wobbly at first, but quickly gained her balance.

“I’m sorry,” Kevin suddenly whispered. Anna looked at him confused. She could tell that Kevin was feeling incredibly guilty and she didn’t have the slightest clue as to why.

“You almost died because of me,” he elaborated.

“Kevin,” Anna said softly, “It’s not your fault.”

And to prove that she was being honest, she slowly wrapped her one free arm around him, kissing him on the lips softly.

Kevin nodded his head, “Yes, it is. If I weren’t paralyzed, it would have never happened. And if it had, I could have saved you myself.”

“You can’t help it that you’re in a wheelchair,” Anna told him, “That doesn’t put you at blame.”

“All that matters is that she is alive,” Nick said, “It doesn’t matter who saved her. Try to see that. It’s okay now.”

“No,” Kevin yelled, “It’s not okay. It never will be okay. I couldn’t even save my own girlfriend. Do you even know how shitty that makes me feel? That if you hadn’t been in the neighborhood, by some freakishly lucky chance, that Anna would have died because of me? I’m just worthless. Pathetic. I am in the way of everything.”

Kevin quickly wheeled himself into the house, slamming the door behind him. Anna felt bad that he felt so shameful on her behalf. She jumped when she felt Nick’s comforting, friendly arm around her shoulder. She honestly didn’t blame him for any of it, but she knew it would be a challenge getting Kevin to believe that and rid him of the guilt he was feeling.