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yes, I know it has been way too long since I have updated. I've had serious writers block plus been so busy all summer. ANyways, here is the next chapter!

Chapter Twenty-Two

Stephanie woke up with stomach cramps bad enough to knock over a body builder. Bringing her knees upward, she hugged them close to her body in hopes to make the pain leave her body. When a wave of nausea hit her though, she knew that it would not be happening any time soon. Jumping out of bed, she rushed to the bathroom, making it to the toilet just on time to heave all the contents of her stomach in to it. When she was sure that she was done, she collapse onto the cool tile floor in exhaustion, not really feeling much better.

Reaching a hand up, she felt around for the handle on the toilet seat, fumbling around for a little before finally finding it. She pressed down, letting the chunky mess go down from the powerful suction. She hoped that she hadn’t woken Nick, as she could only imagine how noisy she must’ve been. She really wasn’t in the mood to deal with his concern. It annoyed her more than she could describe lately. She’d been feeling sickly now for awhile now, throwing up as a result of it for a little over three weeks. It had started pretty much the day after she’d walked out of the restaurant on Nick. He still had it set in his mind though that Willa’s intentions were good, still keeping her as a friend.

On top of the nauseating sickness spells, Stephanie had gained the slightest bit of weight. Her period was late, her breasts swollen and always tender and sore. She didn’t know what was with her, but had a pretty good guess. Stephanie was afraid to find out for sure though, which was why she had yet to take the home pregnancy test she’d bought two weeks ago. The thought of carrying around another life inside of her frightened her. She’d always been the one to preach about safe sex, or waiting until marriage when she very well could be pregnant with Nick’s kid, not even engaged. She’d never hear the end of it from Jaime or Anna. However Stephanie felt like now was the time to find out for sure. If she was, she could at least do something about it before it was too late, or talk things over with Nick and see what he wanted. Although due to the slight problems that they were having lately, a child was really the absolute last thing that they needed at the moment.

Taking a deep breath, Stephanie found the energy to roll over on to her other side and open the door to the sink cabinet, rummaging around behind a stack of fluffy hunter green bath towels and bottles of hair products until she found the thin, rectangular box that she was looking for. She was glad to know that Nick hadn’t found them. There was no use in freaking him out into a panic attack until she knew for sure herself.

As she carefully lifted the box up over the stack of towels, bringing it out, Stephanie closed the cabinet door. For a few long moments, she sat there frozen, clutching the box in her hand just staring down at it. She began to shake as she slowly opened the box, pulling out one of the two tests.

As she stood, Stephanie placed the box on top of the sink counter, holding the small single test in her tightly clenched fist. Peeling open the plastic wrapper, Stephanie plucked out the test with her finger tips, knowing that in the next few minutes her life could be changed. As she sat on the toilet, she waited until a flow of urine had started before holding the stick under the stream for the full recommended three seconds before placing the cap back over the end, lying it flat on the counter top next to the box.

The next five minutes had to have been the longest of Stephanie’s life. She kept pacing the length of the full size bathroom, denying herself the urge of look down at the progress of the test. She kept looking at the small clock on the wall, seeing that only a mere few seconds had passed since the last time she’d looked. When the minutes hand finally did reach the five minute mark, Stephanie was on the test like a dog on a piece of fresh meat. Looking down at the results box, sweat beaded Stephanie’s forehead.

“Two lines, two lines,” she muttered as she reached for the box, already forgetting absentmindedly what two lines meant. She accidently knocked it off of the counter, “SHIT” she cursed a little two loudly, bending over to retrieve the box. Bringing it up, she quickly scanned the side panel, reading it aloud, “One line means not pregnant and two lines means...” she stopped as her eyes grew wide, comprehending what was happening, “...pregnant.” she finished.

Stephanie didn’t remember much in the following moments after that as she blanked out, her breathing slowing down drastically, each breath she did take coming out hard. She didn’t even notice as Nick walked in to the bathroom, taking her gently into his grasp, shaking her slightly to snap her out of her daze.

“Steph,” he called, shaking a little harder, not noticing the vital clues of what had caused her current condition. He was becoming worried, thoughts of Kevin lying still and unresponsive in a coma coming to mind, “Stephanie?” he called louder.

Shaking her head, Stephanie suddenly snapped back in to reality, staring at Nick in confusion. She didn’t know how long she’d been spaced out for, but wondered when he’d come to join her not remembering a thing. That’s when she felt that she was holding something, glancing down at it in her stiff arm and everything came flooding back to her. She looked back up at Nick with wide eyes unable to speak.

“Are you okay, hun?” Nick asked, concern in his eyes, something she hadn’t seen in weeks...since Willa had come into his life again.

Stephanie didn’t know how to respond to his question. So she just lifted up the test, holding it out for Nick to take and read for himself. Nick took it, looking down at the oblong shaped white object in his hand with two small pink lines in the center of it. He raised and eyebrow, looking back at his girlfriend, completely clueless.

“What is it?” he asked, “Umm...I mean, what is it for?”

Stephanie rolled her eyes, “Look at the box,” she managed to get out, holding the box out for Nick to read for himself. Once again, his common sense had passed him by in a moment of importance.

Nick took the box, reading the front. It took a moment for him to comprehend what he was reading, but once he did, his breath caught in his throat. He looked back down at the test then at the box, matching up the results. He gulped as he looked back up at Stephanie, his face unreadable to her, making it impossible to know what he was
thinking.

“You’re pregnant?” he asked her, and she nodded her head in response, “You mean we’re going to have a baby?”

“That’s usually what being pregnant means,” Stephanie spat sarcastically, completely snapped from her funk now.

Nick’s face was still expressionless for a moment as he realized what this meant. It was then that a small smile started to creep on to his lips until it was a full blown grin. He pulled Stephanie in to his arms, spinning her around in circles in a large hug.

“Easy there,” she stated, a queasy feeling coming over her, hoping that she didn’t throw up again that morning.

“Oh, sorry,” Nick stated, setting her back down, but he was still smiling, “This is great...wonderful...fantastic.”

Stephanie looked in to his eyes and saw that he was genuinely excited, but she wanted to hear him say so himself in those words. She wanted the reassurance because she herself wasn’t sure if she thought it was such a good thing.

“So you’re happy? You’re not upset or disappointed?” she prodded.

“Not at all,” Nick stated, “I couldn’t be happier.”

He hugged her again and planted a passionate kiss on her lips. Stephanie smiled, thinking that maybe a new addition in their lives wouldn’t be so bad after all. In fact, it might make them close again. Stephanie looked into Nick’s eyes and saw adoration in them for her. He’d never looked so in love before and for a moment, Stephanie thought that he’d possibly even rid of Willa for good. It gave her hope that everything would be okay between them now. And she felt that there was a good chance that it would be.

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As Anna walked in to Kevin’s room, she stopped short when she saw that his therapist was there, gently moving his limbs back and forth, up and down. She stood in the doorway, unsure of if she should stick around and wait until the middle aged woman was done or come back later. She was about to make her decision when she was noticed.

“Hello, Anna,” Peggy, the therapist greeted with a smile, “Back again, I see.”

Anna smiled back as she entered the room. She neared Peggy and Kevin, observing the professional at work. It was only the third time she’d run in to the woman in the months Kevin lye comatose, however Peggy had learned her name and remembered it. She was a woman that Anna felt comfortable talking to, just like the young nurse who she’d encountered when she’d paid Kevin the visit which had not been allowed.

“How’s he doing today?” Anna asked, referring to his body condition. She could see just how much muscle he’d lost, but not all was gone. It still sickened her to see the rock hard body Kevin had worked so hard for almost completely deteriorated. If he ever woke, she hated to see his reaction when he got the first glimpse of what had happened to him.

“He’s staying limber, which is a good thing. As you know, once stiffness sets in, it is very difficult to reverse it. His muscle development is stable, and I’m doing my best to make sure he doesn’t lose any more.”

Anna gulped and nodded. Looking down at him, he looked younger and older at the same time. Younger and innocent because of his sleeping state, yet older due to the stress he’d faced in the last few months he was awake.

“I’ve been wanting to thank you for all that you’ve been doing for him,” Anna stated in appreciation, “If it weren’t for you...I don’t...I mean, well...he’d be even worse off than he already is...if that’s possible.”

“Believe me, it is very possible,” Peggy chuckled, “I’m almost done for the day, then I’ll leave you to visit with your boyfriend alone.”

Anna laughed, a bit uncomfortable. She wondered if it was that obvious that she wanted Peggy to be done already. Peggy didn’t seem to notice as she continued to do her job. Anna observed carefully, wondering if Kevin was ever released from the hospitals care, if it would be her job to learn how to care for his body and keep it healthy. Her thoughts must have gotten the better of her because she didn’t even notice Peggy packing up her supplies preparing to leave.

“I’ll see you around,” Peggy stated, “Have a good night.”

“Huh?” Anna asked, shaking her head as she noticed Peggy standing by the door, “Yeah, I’ll see you around.” she waved as the woman walked out of the door.

Anna sighed, turning back to Kevin. She secretly kicked herself for not asking the questions and inquiring about the things that had been on her mind. That was quickly off her mind though as she put her attention back on Kevin in front of her.

Sitting down on the chair next to his bed, Anna took Kevin’s hand in hers, rubbing it as she stared at him. She silently urged him to open his eyes, but knew that it wouldn’t do any good. Anna gave Kevin’s hand a light squeeze after gently kissing it and lying it back down on the bed next to him. She continued to hold his hand, staring down at his sleeping posture. She sighed, forcing a smile that nobody could see, but hoped that Kevin would somehow be able to sense it. Her smile faded though and a tear trickled down her cheek as the thoughts of living her life without him came to mind. She’d been thinking these thoughts a lot lately, negativity coming with the disappointment she faced every time she walked in to his room and saw that his prognosis had not changed. He’d moved, flinched and twitched minor movements a few more times than the first time three weeks ago, but the fact that he’d not awakened yet had taken away every glimmer of hope that Anna had had left, and the hopes of everyone else were slowly being taken away as well, if not already gone.

“If you can even hear me,” Anna started, her voice shaking, “I really, really miss you. I keep thinking you’re going to wake up, and everything will be okay again, but every day I come here, and you’re lying in the same position as the day before. I feel stupid for ever even thinking that you’re going to wake up...” her voice trailed off as she tried to compose herself and wipe away the stream of tears from her face, “I don’t want to give up on you, but I can’t help it,” then she muttered to herself, “Hell, you probably can’t even hear me.”

Anna spent a few more minutes with Kevin. She’d decided that talking to him was doing no good and only depressing her even further. Everybody’s visits and encouragement hadn’t done a bit of anything. All the care in the world and muttered words of encouragement wouldn’t awaken Kevin if they hadn’t yet. Anna truly believed that as she kissed Kevin’s forehead and let go of his hand, standing up.

“I love you,” she whispered, “Even if you don’t realize it.”

Anna looked at Kevin one last time before turning abruptly and leaving the room to go home. She walked down the halls of the hospital, a few last tears falling from her eyes as she decided that she wasn’t going to hold on to false hopes any longer. She’d visit Kevin, but not expect anything in return.

When she returned to what had used to be Kevin and her’s home, she rushed in through the doors upon hearing the phone ring. She threw her purse down, diving for the phone. Picking it up just before the answering machine came on, Anna was slightly out of breath.

“Hello,” Anna asked.

“Hello, is Anna there please?” came a male voice.

Anna froze, automatically thinking the deep voiced man was Nathan. Sweat beaded her forehead as she wondered how he’d gotten the number. After all the cruel things he’d said to her, she wanted nothing to do with the egotistical asshole.

“This is her.” Anna replied flatly.

“This is Doctor Newton,” he began.

Anna could have sworn that she quit breathing as the worst case scenarios came to mind. What if Kevin had been declared brain dead. What if he’d died while she’d been on her way home. Somehow though, she found her voice to be calm as she spoke to the man on the other end.

“What can I do for you?” she asked.

“Well, I have some good news for you. Kevin just woke up about twenty minutes ago and he’s asking for you.”

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Anna never sped so fast in her life as she did going back to the hospital. On top of it, she was making calls from her cell phone to let all of Kevin’s friends know what she’d recently found out. She smiled shakily as she continued to drive, hoping that it hadn’t been some sort of ludicrous day dream that she had mistaken for reality. Not only would she feel like a complete idiot upon returning to the hospital room that Kevin was in, but she’d have gotten everybody else in the middle of it and let them down as well.

Sliding in to the first parking spot she could find, Anna fled from her car without locking it, running with long strides in to the enormous brick building, taking the stairs up to the floor that Kevin was on. She continued to run until she bumped in to Dr. Newton who was just coming out of her boyfriends room.

“Anna,” he smiled, “I’m glad to see that you could make it, “Kevin’s awake, as you’ve already been told. He’s a little groggy, not completely alert, but the fact that he’s asked for you tells me that his memory is in tact.”

Anna smiled, wishing that he’s shut up already and allow her to make her way in to see her boyfriend before he others arrived. Once they did, her time with Kevin would be stolen by the attention of everybody else. Anna realized that she was acting selfish, but all she wanted was a few minutes alone with Kevin. This was proof that the phone call hadn’t been a dream or a joke. It was for real, the moment that Anna had been waiting for for so long. And no more than an hour before, she’d almost, no, she had given up all faith she’d held of him getting well, and now here she was standing about to see Kevin awake. The rest of what Dr. Newton said completely slipped past Anna, so she would never know if it was important or not. However the last sentence he spoke she understood and heard loud and clear.

“You may go in to see him now. Just be gentle.”

Anna smiled and pushed open the door, entering the room that Kevin was in. He was still flat on his back, the bed reclined just a couple of inches. He was staring straight ahead and Anna could feel tears of happiness starting to form in her eyes. She stopped in the middle of the room, just taking in the beautiful sight before her. Kevin must have heard her footsteps enter, or sensed her presence, because he turned to her, a shy smile forming on his lips.

“Hi,” he whispered.

“Hi.” Anna softly said back, unsure of what to do. She was nervous for some reason, yet excited. She didn’t know what to say now that she was being confronted with Kevin face to face. It was what she’d dreamed for, yet hadn’t prepared herself for because deep down, she didn’t really think it would happen.

Kevin smiled at Anna, he too at loss for words. He’d woken up, yet being in the hospital had surprised him. He wasn’t sure what had happened to him, but remembered many times Anna’s voice speaking to him. Seeing her frozen in an awkward state though make him wonder if she was happy to see him or if she’d found somebody else and didn’t know how to break it to him.

“Do you want to come closer?” Kevin asked, half joking, half serious.

Anna nodded, and before she knew it, she was in Kevin’s arms, hugging him. She wept tears of relief as his arms enveloped her in return in a tight embrace. She smothered him in kisses, him returning them. The reunion was a sweet one, and convinced Kevin that she’d waited for him though however long he’d not been there.

“My god, I missed you so much,” Anna cried, wiping her tears away for the fifth time that day. She pulled back slightly and noticed that Kevin’s eyes were also moist, “I...I missed you so much. I didn’t think I’d ever...that...” Anna sputtered, at loss for words, but Kevin understood what she was trying to say with ease.

“I missed you too,” he answered, then paused before asking, “What happened and how long was I...umm...gone?”

“A little over three months and you umm...I...” Anna paused, trying to find the most delicate way to tell Kevin, but then realized that there was no easy or even good way to tell him, “You tried to kill yourself.” she finally said, her voice barely audible, but Kevin had heard her.

“Oh, yeah,” was Kevin’s response, which had surprised her. With Anna saying the words, he remembered. The news didn’t shock him, “So I was in a coma for that long?”

Anna just nodded. An uncomfortable silence came over the couple. Kevin’s eyes shifted nervously from side to side. He was embarrassed to face the face of what he’d done. Anna just stared at him and he wasn’t sure what she was thinking. Her eyes showed so much care and concern, so much love. Yet he was afraid to know what was on her mind, knowing that eventually she’d speak it aloud.

“Why did you do it?” she asked, making him realize that time was now, “What were you thinking?” she added with a forced choke of emotion.

Kevin didn’t respond right away. He wasn’t sure how to respond. He scanned his quickly tiring brain for something to say, wanting to make up something, but knew in the end that the horrid truth was the best way to go.

“I just wanted a way out,” he finally said, “I didn’t want to deal with living like...I was anymore. It...it seemed the only way.” he saw Anna wince, “I never meant to put you through so much pain. I...I love you.”

“I love you too,” Anna whispered, “So much.”

Kevin held on to Anna’s hand as suddenly the door swung open, the other six piling in to the room in a heap as if they were a herd of cows. Their eyes widened at the same time at the sight before them as if not expecting it. One by one, the group ran to Kevin, taking turns hugging him. Anna could tell that he was quickly becoming worn out. He had, after all, just awoken from a deep sleep. But he was trying his best to stay with it and keep his eyes open.

“She wasn’t kidding,” Jaime muttered, holding Lauren in her arms, “You really, truly are awake.”

“You scared the fucking shit out of us, you ass,” AJ joked, hugging the man he looked up to. The man who had helped him so much through the years.

Kevin smiled sheepishly, doing nothing but shrug. The reunion was a bittersweet one between him and everybody else. He heard the same things over and over, yet it made him realize just how much he was cared about. He had only been conscious for about an hour, but already knew he’d been foolish to turn to attempted suicide to rid of his problems. He had seven people right there who would have been there for him through thick and thin and helped him. After a few more minutes of hugs and his friends repeating how much they’d missed him and how scared they were, Kevin felt he could no longer stay awake.

“I don’t want to be rude,” he muttered, his voice slightly raspy, “But I need to rest for a few hours.”

“Rest?” Nick laughed, “You just slept for three months, bro. You don’t need no fucking rest.”

Nick yelped when he felt a shark jab in his rips coming from AJ. He rubbed the spot, wondering what he’d said wrong. In his mind, Kevin had had enough rest. They all wanted to see him for awhile because they hadn’t really seen him in so long.

“Go ahead,” Howie stated, “Rest up. We’ll see you when you’re feeling a little better.”

Kevin smiled in appreciation as everybody hugged him goodbye slowly leaving the room. He could hear Nick’s voice whining about “Why do we have to leave?” as they all left. Anna stayed behind though, still in his arms.

“I suppose I should let you rest too,” she smiled weakly, “But at least I know you’re going to be...that you’re not going to be in a coma forever.”

She looked deep into his eyes. They were a bit clouded but still the gorgeous shade of green she’d dreamed of looking in to for so long. She bit her bottom lip, not wanting to leave him so soon, but knew she would if it was for his well being.

“Just for a few hours,” Kevin stated, his drowsiness setting in even more, “But I’d like a kiss before you go...something to dream about.”

Anna smiled as she leaned in to kiss his lips softly. Her heart beat full force in her chest, glad to see that his romantic side was still very much in tact.

“I love you, Kevin.” Anna said, gently pulling her hand out of his, getting up to leave.

“Love you..too...Anna.” Kevin replied, his eyes drooping. He was asleep less than five seconds later.

Anna smiled at him sleeping, her first real smile in so long. She watched him for a moment longer before turning to leave. Kevin needed his rest in peace. Now that he was awake, she had all the time in the world to be with him. She had hope for the future with Kevin, knowing that she wasn’t hardly ever going to let him out of her sight. He’d been away for too long. This was real though, and nothing could take away the high spirited mood she was in that day. Everything was actually looking up.
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