"Eighteen months of physical therapy?! Can you believe it?" The tone in Brian's voice is disbelieving as he twists around in his seat to stare at the front desk, waving the discharge papers around for good measure.
"Well, those are the consequences whenever you decide to get stuck underneath a bus," his wife chides lightly, pushing him further towards the entrance, "Now if you could just sign those papers, I want to get out of here."
"Oh excuse me," Brian grumbles, bending over the papers in his lap, already hating the squeaking of the wheelchair whenever he moves, "I have to know what I sign before I sign it."
Leighanne sighs, flopping down in a waiting chair.
Making eye contact with Martha, who's smiling amusedly at them just a few feet away, she rolls her eyes and shakes her head. "Every time," she mouths, causing the ER nurse to nearly burst out in laughter.
"If you're making fun of me behind my back, I'll come and kick your asses, I don't care if you're women, I'm handicapped here, so you'll have no excuse," Brian mutters without looking up from the paperwork.
"I wouldn't dare," Leighanne smiles sweetly.
Brian looks up, studies her for a second to determine if he should believe that or not, but then just shrugs, returning his attention to the sheets once more. "Oh come on, I have to see a doctor twice a week? I don't have time for that!"
"You have nothing but time, honey," his wife comments with a sigh.
Brian looks up and raises his eyebrows as he looks straight forward, "I do have time."
The thought is almost scary. He can't remember the last time his schedule has been this blank. No crazy plane flights, no rushed interviews, no running around with suitcases and backpacks, no exhausting tour shows. No commitments outside doctor's appointments. How long hasn't he craved for that kind of freedom? How much didn't he want to just be home without feeling like he had to sleep for three months? To just sit outside by the pool, sipping a cocktail, completely relaxed and stress free? Dear Lord, that sounded great... heavenly almost.
"Mom! Dad! I just saw a guy with his chest completely ripped open! It was wickedly awesome!" his son's excited voice resounds through the small waiting room, effectively snapping Brian out of his thoughts. He frowns and twists his face in disgust, looking behind the young pre-teen at AJ, who seems utterly unfazed.
"I thought you were watching him," Brian comments monotonously, looking at his friend questioningly.
"I am watching him," AJ answers, pointing at Baylee to prove his point.
"A guy with his chest ripped open?" Leighanne questions, jumping in on the subject.
"Is it my fault that they just bring those in, in the open?" AJ counters with a shrug, "Before I could do anything, he'd already seen it. It's the harsh reality of life, kids gotta learn it."
"Not when they're twelve, Alex," Brian says, glaring.
"Oh what are you gonna do? Kick me?" AJ asks with with a challenging grin.
"You are hilarious. If you make that joke one more time, I will kick you. I'll find a way."
AJ scoffs, leaning forward, "You done with those papers yet?"
"You of all people should know not to sign just anything without reading carefully, what is wrong with people here?" Brian repeats, annoyed. AJ laughs when he sees Leighanne shrugging at him. It was so typical.
Whenever they had to sign something as a group, Brian and Howie would take about a week to make sure there were no legal bindings that could strangle them in the future, picking apart every little detail mentioned in the contracts. It was probably a good trait, but could also be extremely annoying when you were in a hurry.
But anything to make sure never to make a Pearlman mistake again, right?
"I'm just saying," Alex spoke slowly, "even my mom reads faster than you do."
"Are you in a hurry?" Brian mutters, gripping the pen as he turns to the last page.
"Well, it would be a shame to have to call the people at the surprise party to wait for a little while longer again."
Brian stares at him in shock, "You didnt..."
"I may have," AJ grins.
"Oh, come on, it'll be fun!" AJ exclaims excitedly, "Just like old times, right?"
Brian closes his eyes in exasperation, remembering the old times all too vividly, "No," he grumbles warningly.
"I'm kidding!" AJ replies quickly, "It's nothing like old times, I promise. It's all very mature and dull and quiet, happy?"
"No naked women," Brian hisses, careful not to let his wife or son hear.
"Fine. Whatever. You old party pooper," AJ confirms, shaking his head.
"I'm not a... You cannot... Ugh, forget it," Brian mutters, "Here, I signed it, let's go home."
"Sounds like a marvelous idea," AJ comments, the fake English accent overly thick in his voice.
"Just shut up," Brian grumbles with a smile.
"Make me," AJ replies happily as he grabs the handles of the wheelchair, pushing Brian towards the exit.