Status: A work in progress.

Everything But Time is Running Out

Just stay quiet, breathe deep, breathe out, breathe slow.

"So you don't have any information, anything at all, that you can give us relating to the incident?" Detective Peirce asked, probing as much as he possibly could. Frank had dragged my lifeless self to Campus Police, who had called in a few additional officers from the county police station. "Just take it in stride. Think about all five senses and let's go through it one by one. Did you smell anything particular that you can remember?"

"Weed and alcohol," I muttered, my face aching so badly that I really didn't feel like speaking at all, no matter how helpful it would be for building my case; I just needed to fall into a deep, uninterrupted coma and then maybe I'd come back here when I wake up if I felt like showing my face to the world. Officer Medley and Det. Pierce just glanced at each other, as if to say this is gonna be a long night.

"Well, marijuana is illegal to have on campus, so at least we can start with that." Officer Medley said, but didn't sound too happy about approaching that matter. Everyone in the world seemed to smoke weed; how in the hell was he supposed to reinforce something like that, especially with college kids?

"Alright, moving on..." Det. Pierce said, jotting down the words weed and alcohol, "what about sight? Do you remember seeing anything? Lights, jackets, pins, shoes...?" I closed my eyes. It all seemed like a blur and when adding panic to the situation, my mind muddied even more.

"It was nearby a fraternity house," I started. The detective nodded as if he had already figured as much. "There... the sidewalk turns into a circle," I vaguely explained. In the middle of campus, there are all sorts of intersections due to buildings and walkways leading every which way. "The front doors to the building were facing that way." Finally, I got a positive response out of him.

"Okay, good! This is very good! I know the fraternity you're speaking of. Delta Zeta," he told me as if those words would mean anything to me.

"I've heard of that bunch," Ofc. Medley commented, shaking his head in shame. "The seniors this year seem to be taking the frat to a whole new level." I glanced at Frank and I could see his eyes simmering in rage.

"Who are these seniors that you're speaking of?" Frank asked calmly. It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what exactly he was plotting in his head.

"How, don't you go and do something you or I will regret later on," Ofc. Medley warned, shaking his pointer finger at Frank. "It's bad enough something like this has happened. I don't need to go and arrest another fella' who is seemingly a perfectly straight forward and nice kid." All Frank could do was sit there, seething. He didn't say a word back to the officer.

"I do think I remember a name," I suddenly said. That earned me 500% of all three of their attention. "Uh..." I said, trying not to draw a blank from being put on the spotlight. "It started with a K... Kirk?" I was kicking myself for not remembering the most crucial piece of evidence I would probably have.

"I'll get right on that," Ofc. Medley said, scribbling down the name and briskly walking out of the room. A whole new wave of exhaustion hit me and I couldn't help but put my head down. The movement provided me with a wonderful shooting pain through my neck to the base of my head and I gasped out in pain.

"Detective," Frank said, "would you mind terribly if we take a break? I think Kara's had enough for one night..."

"Do you need to be taken to the hospital?" Det. Pierce asked me.

"She keeps refusing," Frank answered for me, but it was true. There was no way I was going to pay for those medical bills, especially with only working under the table at a restaurant.

"I'd say that would be a very unwise decision, miss," the detective lightly scolded me. I had my eyes closed and couldn't exactly tell what kind of facial expressions Frank and him were exchanging. I managed to peek through a barely opened eyelid and saw Frank mouth the words. I'll take her when we leave. I was too out of it to argue, and started anticipating the exhaustion and stress I would be under to pay off those bills; all the hours I would have to work on top of holding up my grades and such. Son of a bitch.

"Alright, Kara, I'm going to help you up," Frank warned, cautiously wrapping his hands underneath my armpits. I tried to help lift my weight, but my legs were so achy and banged up that I don't think I really assisted him at all. He didn't seem to mind either way; he lifted me to my feet with ease and aided me with walking as Det. Pierce led us toward the building exit.

"Let me know if you guys need anything," he said as Frank sat me in the passenger seat of his car. "In the meantime, take care of yourself," he nodded at me, "and keep out of trouble." He said, looking Frank right in the eyes.

"Likewise," Frank said back. "Let us know if you find anything on Kirk."

"You'll be hearing from us either way," the detective said. Him and Frank shook hands. I was already slipping away; my eyes felt so swollen that it only seemed natural for them to close. I didn't even notice how or when we got home.

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When I opened my eyes, the lighting through the window told me it was dark. I sat up hissed as I felt stinging in my arm. I went to run the sore spot when my fingers found a cluster of tubing. It was then that I noticed were I was. Or more realistically, where I wasn't. I definitely wasn't at home not at Frank's apartment. I looked to my left and there stood the all too familiar computer stand that had a bunch of colored lights and lines and beeps. Frank had taken me to the hospital. Motherfucker.

I observed the fluids that were pulsing it's way through my bloodstream. Only a 500 ml bag of sodium chloride was hanging.

I tried to sit up, but immediately regretted it. It felt like I was high; my vision was blurry and everything was moving in slow motion. My body was levitating on clouds. I noticed gratefully that the soreness, spasms, twitches and aches that previously would radiate throughout my body had dimmed down immensely. I wiggled my toes and flexed my legs and arms; all I could really feel was tightness of the bandages that were compressing my bodily wounds.

"Hey, love."

And Holy Bejesus, mother of all fuckery, why does this keep happening to me? I about flew out of my bones as my heart rate monitor increased. "SHIT," I yelped, causing the mobile hospital bed to jerk about.

"Oops! Sorry, doll!" Frank apologised, putting his hands up as if I was going to fall over and off the bed. "I forget that everything under the sun makes a jump scare for you." He was laughing. I simply glared at him. Once he calmed down, he asked gently, "how are you feeling?"

"I'm actually quite numb, but in a good way," I replied, lifting my arms to examine them. The bruises were still there, the colors blending beautifully between yellow, orange, blue and purple. I had a bandage on one arm that made sure to cover my elbow when I had hard impact against the concrete, so it wasn't capable of bending. Likewise, one of my legs seemed to be well dressed because it didn't seem to want to be in any other position besides straight. However uncomfortable being mummified was, I agreed with myself that I would rather have this instead of being in pain. Frank seemed to notice my airheadedness with my dillydallying about and jiggling my limbs wherever physics and gravity took them.

"They gave you a nice injection blend of Toradol, Ativan and Zofran," he explained. I must've been given him a sort of deadpan stare. "You don't remember much, do you?" I quietly shook my head. "Well, on the way to the hospital, you started screaming about back spasms and shooting pain down your spine and leg. It honestly freaked me out how freaked out you were acting; I've never seen anyone in that kind of pain before. You were crying nonstop and could only beg me to make it stop..." He paused, seemingly uncomfortable recalling the events that took place. When he regained his composure, he continued to speak. "Once we got here, I had to run in and grab a wheel chair; you were in hurting so badly that you couldn't even lift yourself up to sit up."

"They took CT's of your spine and head just to double check that everything was fine; it was," Frank said with extreme relief. "I'm sure the doctor will explain everything to you again." He leaned forward in his chair, grabbing my hand in both of his.

"What day is it?" I asked, still noticing that it was dark outside.

"It's Friday evening. Once they got you to calm down and the pain to subside a bit, you passed the fuck out."

"What about your show?" I asked, worried. I really didn't want to get on the bad side of the group because I prevented them from playing any shows. That would just really add the icing to the cake.

"Oh, actually the funniest thing happened!" Frank said, his eyes widened slightly, recalling more of what went on today. "We were about to call and cancel, but there was a huge bar fight early this morning and now the place is under an audit, SO. We won't be playing there for a hot minute."

"You seem pleasantly surprised, though," I pointed out. My tongue felt light and fluffy like a yummy omelette and those five words were the hardest thing I've had to say yet.

"Well, I was really worrying about leaving you if our show was still on," he admitted, rubbing the back of his neck. "But now I don't have to worry about it anymore!" He happily rested his head on my pillow the best he could from the side. He pecked my cheek and it made me smile how such a little thing made him so excited. "I did want to ask you, though, if on Sunday... well, if you were feeling up for it..." He kept stammering and I wondered why he seemed to troubled. "Well... I mean, you absolutely don't have to if you're too tired or achy-"

"Just ask, Frank." I gave him a small small.

"We might be able to play a show at this other joint on Tuesday, but the drive is a bit long. I didn't want to tell the guys yes or no before I asked you about it first."

"Frank," I sighed, "you don't need my permission to do what you do for a living, or even what you don't do for a living for that matter."

"I know," he said, looking down at his hands. He was twiddling his thumbs. "But, I don't want to leave your side, so the only way I would agree to play is if you were willing to travel with us."

"Of course I'll go with you guys," I said immediately. "I've been looking forward to seeing you play, anyway."

"Even if the drive is at least and hour and a half? Would you be up for that?" his eyes glistened with excitement over the possibility of playing and I couldn't say no to that cute face of his.

"Yes, of course, Frank! I mean, even if I didn't go, I'd probably just be sitting down somewhere else so really, what's the difference? And-" I stopped him from speaking as I saw his mouth open in protest, "if I'm too tired, I'll sleep on the car ride or in the room while you guys are on stage. It's really no big deal." The smile on his face was the widest I've ever seen it.

"You really are the best, Kara."

"I don't see what makes me so special; you're the one who's taken care of me throughout the entire span of us knowing each other's existence. But thank you, I'll accept your compliment anyway." We both hugged each other when simultaneously, our stomachs sang aloud in unison.

"Oh, shit, I'm sorry, I completely forgot to feed you!" He shot right up and put on his shoes that I didn't see were missing from his feet.

"You forgot to feed yourself, too, you know," I pointed out, laughing.

"Yeah, well, you're way more important right now than this hunk of junk," he said, slapping his tummy as if there was anything to slap. I waved him off as he left to get us something edible from the cafeteria.

I closed my eyes as I waited for Frank to return. The side effects of the medications were wearing off and I was slowly sobering up. I felt anxious about finding the disgusting pigs who did this to me, but at the same time, I was worried about not being able to find them. What if the police never find the guys? What if I can't correctly identify them? Then they'll roam guilty but free and the act of their misdeeds will possibly just be forgotten and...

Breathe. Just take a deep breath... In and out. I can't keep getting myself worked up. My heart rate monitor started making irregularly timed noises and I hoped it didn't notify my nurse. That'd go well.

Oh no, what's wrong with the patient in room 4013?? Her monitor is showing an ongoing arrhythmia! Someone notify the doctor STAT! Oh no, never mind. There's nothing wrong. She's just mentally spazzing out. No need to call for a Code Blue or anything. Ha. That'd be embarrassing.

I was smiling to myself, thinking everything that could go wrong regarding me not being able to control my anxiety until the doctor walked in. "Must be dreaming about something sweet," he concluded and I was caught off guard, yet again, by the presence of someone else in the room.

"Oh, well.... yeah." I said lamely and refused to say anything else about the situation.

"Well, now that you're awake, let's go over all of the services we performed and your most recent assessment from this afternoon," he said, pulling up my electronic chart on the computer. "It looks like we are seeing you for multiple bodily injuries, pain and anxiety," he summarized. I nodded because that's all I could do. Frank had obviously got me caught up on what was going on, but I was obviously unconscious for the entire thing.

"Now," he continued, swerving the computer screen so it was angled more toward me. "These were the CT scans we took of your head and spine. Fortunately everything looks normal, so there won't be any follow-up required regarding that, unless you want further testing?" I shook me head. First off, further testing means more money down the drain and secondly, I don't think I really needed them in the first place; I most definitely wouldn't have signed my consent if I had been awake.

"Kara," the doctor said very, very seriously, leaning a bit closer to me. "I am liable by law if I let this go, so I'm going to ask you while we have the room to ourselves: is your case one of abuse? You don't need to make any statements right now; all you need to do is nod if you're worried about backlash from certain people. I, myself, along with everybody employed here are here for a reason: to serve and protect our patients. I need you to answer honestly. Nothing will or can happen to you if you tell the truth; the danger begins when you don't."

My face began to blush. Was he suspecting Frank for all of my injuries? He looks like an innocent puppy dog! But I guess looks can be deceiving. Either way, I need to clarify quickly that this is so very far from reality.

"I really appreciate your concern, but Frank is the one who has taken care of me since the accident," I sincerely explained. He seemed to believe me, which was good because after all, Frank was the one who brought me to the hospital and had stayed by my side throughout my entire admission, making sure I had A service on my ride back to getting healthy.

"What'd I miss?" I heard Frank say as he returned from the cafeteria, holding an awfully loaded tray of food and drinks. The doctor straightened is posture and cleared his throat.

"We were just going over a few things before discharge," he said, looking at me with a certain look, I'm sure to double check that I wasn't lying. Or perhaps he was giving me a second chance to confess. If he was searching for a specific answer, I did not give it to him.

"Oh, already?" Frank said surprised with his eyebrows hiking up his face.

"Well, yes. All of her tests were normal and we managed to get her pain under control. Quite frankly, there isn't much else we can do for her except give discharge care instructions." Frank eagerly nodded and I suddenly felt guilty. Frank probably had been living in that stiff, little chair ever since we came here and I was responsible for his discomfort.

"Perfect! Let me follow you out to talk about what is needed to be done once we get home..." Frank's voice faded away as he walked out with the doctor. A nurse entered the room just as they left to take my IV out, gave me unofficial care instructions, which were probably the generic instructions that every patient gets told: get plenty of rest, stay well hydrated, take the prescribed medications as instructed and call if you need anything. She excused herself while I changed out of my gown into normal clothes. I looked for my purse when I realised that I must've dropped it amongst other things when I got attacked and sighed. I'd have to tell them to bill me directly through the bank or however that's dealt with. I was getting goosebumps just thinking about this hospital bill. It wasn't just an ER visit, but an actual admission. Ugh...

I walked out and followed the signs for check out. Frank was still speaking with the doctor. He was intensely listening to whatever he had to say, and quite frankly, I was gratified that Frank was with me, taking care of me, taking care of things that needed to be taken care of. When he saw me, he waved me over.

"Ready to blow this Popsicle stand?" he asked, smirking a childish smirk. I looked confused.

"Where do I check out?" I asked sheepishly. I would've preferred maybe if Frank left to get the car running while I attempted to take care of payments.

"That's already taken care of," Frank said absentmindedly. "Hey, Doc, thank you again so much. I'll be sure to call if I have any questions." They shook hands professionally and then Frank put his arm around my shoulders, guiding me around confusing corners and long hallways. He somehow knew his way around as we finally found the front doors to the hospital.

"Frank, I need to check out," I persisted, trying to turn around.

"I already told you that it's taken care of," he said as his walked slowed to a stop. He turned to face me, cupped my face in his warm and soft hands and said, "Kara, don't worry about anything. I'm gonna get you home and take care of you." Without another word, he told me to stay put while he went and got the car. I was trying to wrap my head around what he meant by taking care of it and felt flush thinking about how much money he had just dropped for me.

"Are you okay?" he asked, walking back through the sliding glass doors. He looked flustered. "Do we need to go back? Do you need anything?" I couldn't tell him how ashamed I was to have him set down so much money, but I also couldn't tell him how I was even more ashamed that I wasn't able to pay it, myself.

"Yeah, let's just go home," I said. He seemed to take my lack of response as an emergent situation.

"Okay, yeah, come on, Kara." He held my hand and walked me to the car, holding the door open for me and closing the door once I got inside. "Okay, Kara, we aren't too far from my place. Just bare with me." Maybe I should've told him I really was okay and was just having a hot flash, but then he might blow that out of proportion so I just leaned back and closed my eyes. I embraced the rhythmic motion of the car as we drove. He had music playing on low volume and by the time he had parked in his apartment complex, it had already lured me to sleep, my breathing finally slow and relaxed.
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