Titanium

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

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7. -Six-

-6-

“What do you want for dinner?” Mum asked, flipping through a pile of takeaway brochures. She’d been an angel the last few weeks, darting out to grab me whatever I fancied before she went back to her hotel room. She was dead against the hospital food, insisting I’d never get better if I kept eating cardboard and grease. If I was honest, the food wasn’t that bad, but it could certainly be better. Mum was a chef, which is where her fussiness came from I guess. “Thai? Indian?”

“Portugese?” I suggested, spotting the Nando’s brochure between Dominos and the Tandoori Palace. Mum rolled her eyes as she skipped straight to the one I wanted, shaking her head at my choice. She hated spicy food and peri-peri was her worst nightmare; on the other hand, I adored the burn of chili.

I made my decision without having to look at what was on offer- classic burger, hot, with peri chips and cheese sauce- and was pretty much salivating at the thought of it. I’d regained the ability to eat solid, proper food about a week ago, as soon as I could walk far enough to please Doctor Gomez. He was impressed with me, if his bright grins were anything to go by, and had already told me that if I continued to improve at this rate, I’d be home in three weeks’ time.

Stubborn as I was, I’d set myself the personal challenge of being home in a fortnight.

“There’s a gelato place a few blocks away,” Mum said, still browsing for her own meal. “I’ll bring you some, shall I?”

“Please,” I replied, opening Skype with the intent of calling Max or Layla, whoever was on. The weekly phone calls, which were about ten minutes long, weren’t anywhere near long enough and I loved talking to them and seeing what was going on back home. They were my best friends in the world, and the two things I missed most about England. I sort of wished they had stayed for the duration of their trip- which was due to end tomorrow- so Mum wasn’t on her own if she wasn’t with me.

Neither of their names were illuminated, which was just as well, as nature called and I placed the laptop on my table tray, making my way to the bathroom alone. I caught Mum watching me proudly and I allowed myself a mini-celebration as I realised that every single step was getting easier and easier. I’d even tried swimming this morning, which had been uncomfortable but very do-able. I could sense the progress in myself, and it gave me courage to push myself just that little bit harder.

Business done, I opened the door and heard Mum talking to someone.

“… coming back now, I think. Kez? Niall’s on Skype!” she called.

I glanced down at my bare legs, and peeked around the corner. “Pass me my pants,” I hissed to Mum, glad that Niall couldn’t see me from the way the computer was angled. Mum raised an eyebrow at me and turned back to the computer, grinning slyly as I frantically made a cut-throat motion with my hand, begging her not to say anything.

“I’ve gotta cover the camera, she’s forgotten her trousers.”

“Mum!” I squealed, slapping a hand to my forehead. She giggled like a naughty teenager as she covered the camera with her hand, allowing me to hurry to bed and cover myself while Niall’s laughter came from the speakers. “So embarrassing,” I muttered as Mum sat back and giggled, turning the computer back so Niall could see me.

“What’s this, then? No pants Friday?” he asked, still grinning.

I rolled my eyes. “It’s Thursday,” I pointed out; he didn’t seem bothered as he glanced at something beyond the screen, and waved. “How’s New York?”

“Absolutely brilliant. I almost don’t wanna go,” he replied, looking dreamily at the camera as I rolled my eyes. “Kez, I’ve been told to tell you- we’ve got a show in Jacksonville next week, and we were thinking; why don’t we come visit you?”

My eyes widened and I was barely aware that Mum had kissed my head and left the room, having made her decision when it came to food. She was good at leaving me to chat to the boys, though she sometimes stayed and joined in. Niall had been calling me almost as much as Liam was, if not more, and I wasn’t complaining in the slightest. “What, all of you, at once?” I asked, already excitedly thinking about what my room would look like with One Direction in it. I still had Liam’s action figure- and now Niall’s, courtesy of the man himself- on my dresser, but the real thing would be even better. I’d only met Liam in the flesh, so it would be wonderful to properly meet the whole band.

“If you think you can handle us,” Niall replied with a swift grin that I couldn’t help but return. Our conversations were the highlight of my day, even if it was just a few text messages before bed. They were all very busy and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have them take even five minutes out of their own time to check up on me. It was like gaining the siblings I never had. “And only if you swear to have trousers on!”

“Niall!” I yelped and covered my eyes, absolutely mortified. “I swear! I swear!”

He was laughing at me, loudly, and the sound was infectious. “Oh, you’re too easy to stir up, Kez!” I pouted at him, half-glaring, but my expression only made him grin and coo at me like I was a grumpy child. “Don’t be like that, I’m only teasin’.”

“I know,” I replied with a long-suffering sigh, one that lost all effect once I lost control and started to smile. “It’ll be nice to see you in the flesh,” I mused, smiling to myself. I could already hear the ward matron complaining about too many people being in at once, and I could see Hannah pretending to be mad when she ushered them out only to let them back in as soon as the matron went home. She really was brilliant. “Shall I arrange a buffet table?” I was half-kidding, but Niall’s face lit up.

“Seriously?” he asked, eager as anything. I couldn’t tell if he was being entirely serious or not as my eyebrows shot up to my hairline, only to come back down when he rolled his eyes at me. “I’m coming to see you, not to eat. I can do that after.”

“I’d hate for you to starve yourself on my account,” I shot back teasingly.

Niall waved his index finger at me, faking a frown. “Cheeky. We’ll get on fine.”

“Because we haven’t up til now?”

The grin he sent my way made my heart start to race, and I had to fight to stop myself from thinking just how excited I was to finally meet the whole band for real. Our conversation lasted another twenty minutes- we were joined briefly by Zayn and Harry, who wandered by and were collared by Niall into saying hello- before Paul knocked on the door and called time. I signed off with a lighter heart than ever before and pushed the laptop away, getting myself to my feet and walking to the nurse’s station- with my trousers on, thank you- to warn them about the upcoming invasion.

Hannah just winked at me, and promised she’d be on duty to help me out. Like I said, she was brilliant.

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