Kerrigan Brady just wanted to meet her favourite band. Not like this. Never like this.


8. -Seven-


I think I had successfully managed to impress- and slightly frighten- Doctor Gomez.  When last he’d seen me, I could make it to the nurse’s station unaided, but needed my walker to go back, and stubbornly struggled even with that. But with the news that my ward was about to be invaded by pop-stars, I’d put in the extra hard yards during physio and now I could make it there and back before the pain set in, and my flexibility was at a seven compared to the five it had been last time he’d seen me.

“Remind me to thank those Direction boys,” Doctor Gomez said, checking over my charts. “Your recovery has been astounding. At this rate, you’ll be flying home next week.”

Inwardly, I cheered. Hannah, standing beside him, gave me a slightly sorrowful look. I’d miss her once I left and made a mental note to get her contact details. I’d love to visit her again- and then I’d know where to send the thank you flowers. “That’s great,” I enthused, grabbing the coffee Mum had appeared with. “I’m looking forward to a cup of tea that doesn’t taste like the Boston Harbour.”

Mum snickered and Hannah smirked at me; Doctor Gomez let out a bark of laughter so sharp it could cut butter. “You’re a funny one, Kerrigan,” he waved as he left, and Hannah trailed out after him. I could hear them in the next room a few minutes later, talking to the elderly lady who’d also had her hip replaced. Her name was Violet and we’d had a few decent conversations in the ten days she’d been there; she told me all about her grandkids and cats, and how one of them had caused her fall. Nice lady, if a bit too talkative… and slightly neurotic.

“So, Mum,” I started, sipping the coffee and checking my nails. Anything to seem casual. “What are you doing this afternoon?”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m escaping before the invasion begins.”

Giggling, I sat back and pulled my uninjured knee up under my chin, as best I could. This position hurt a bit, but it was the sort of pain you get when you suddenly move after sitting still for too long. A good sort of painful. “You can stay if you really want to,” I said finally, a little reluctantly. She shook her head, giving me a look like I was crazy.

She’d been an absolute saint through all of this. At first she hadn’t left my side even to get herself something to eat- Hannah had brought her stuff from the hospital’s canteen- and once I woke up, Mum had been by my side every step of the way. She had a way of making sure I was okay without coming across as being fussy, and I appreciated her quiet concern. I had no idea how hard it must’ve been for her to watch me like this, to hear me crying because the pain was so bad and the morphine didn’t help, to watch me scream and shout when I fell during my physio sessions and they made me stand up alone, to be sitting at home one day and suddenly get a phone call to say her only daughter had been shot and was unconscious. As I gazed at her I could see how thin she was, how her skin was paler than before. This last month hadn’t just been hard on me, I realised, and in that moment I loved my mother more than anything in the world.

“I mean it, Mum,” I mumbled, trying not to start crying. I’d made an effort to wash my face and look okay this morning- I’d woken up extra early, excited to meet the band who were aiming to get here at noon- and I didn’t want to ruin the trouble I’d gone through on my face. “You don’t have to go.”

“Kerrigan,” she said dryly, before seeing my face and grasping my hand. “These boys are coming to visit you. I’ve already spoken to them on Skype, they all know I’m your mother. Besides…” she paused and looked up at me through slitted eyes, looking suspicious and devious. “There’s this massage place down the road I’m dying to try out.”

I couldn’t help but burst out laughing; she always knew what to say to make me feel better. “Alright, if you’re sure,” I managed through giggles, calming down quite remarkably when a news article on the TV caught my eye. We had it going constantly so the room wasn’t so silent. “Hey… it’s them,” I nodded at the screen, already reaching to turn up the sound.

It was indeed a story about One Direction. About how all fans all over the USA were devastated when their remaining signing sessions had been cancelled; there was a three-second interview with Liam, which he said a hurried apology that I could see he meant. None of them wanted to ever disappoint their fans, but they were all wary about going back into that kind of situation again. Liam especially. He’d confessed to me that he had the occasional nightmare, seeing the gun pointed at his head, nothing getting in the way… it broke my heart to hear it.

“And rumour has it that the band will be spending a day or two in Orlando before their Jacksonville performance, using the time to check in on their titanium girl. Kerrigan Brady’s condition is reported to be stable and well on the way to recovery, though she hasn’t been seen or heard of since the incident. A spokesperson for the hospital and for One Direction stated the band have been keeping in touch with the twenty-year-old, who has been hailed a hero by the Directioners. The universal question coming from around the world, though, is when exactly will we get to meet the girl herself?”

Mum was watching my face and I suspect she was getting quite the show; the cameras were right outside the hospital and showed the crowds who gathered there each day. Surely they were waiting for signs of the boys, not of me. The flowers on my dresser had been constantly updated and I’d checked tumblr and twitter, the two sites I used most, to see that my name was a hot topic on both. I couldn’t believe that people were really so interested in knowing every detail about my life; everything I read had been so sweetly curious I was actually starting to want to introduce myself.

“What do you say, Mum?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. “Should I put myself out there?”

She shrugged, looking wary. “You know what kind of response that will open you to, sweetheart. It won’t all be positive. But if it’s what you want, we can discuss it with Paul?”

I nodded, my stomach churning a little. “Yeah. I think… if I don’t, then people will just assume stuff. I’d rather them know.”

“A wise and brave decision,” Mum agreed, as we checked the time simultaneously and scrambled to get ready. I picked out my clothes and she helped me get them on over my head- it still hurt to hold my arms up over my head, as the scar tissue on my hip was still tender and fresh- before helping me shimmy on a pair of pyjama pants. I wanted to make an effort, of course, but the flannel was warm and soft against the injury and Niall hadn’t specified that I had to be wearing proper trousers, had he? Let him see my love for Sylvester.

The cat, that is. Not Stallone.

A few minutes before eleven, Mum nipped out to grab me Nando’s and I gave her enough money to buy something for One Direction. I’d been very sneaky and had Liam tell me what they’d all eat, so I could have it ready for them. It was the least I could do, seeing as they were taking the time to come see me. She was back just before noon and the food was placed on the couch by the window; the smell was delightful, and I couldn’t sit there and wait as I tore open the bag containing my chips and settled back to watch reruns of House and wait.

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