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


3. -Two-


When I woke next, it was to an empty room. My gaze went to the couch first, where Mum had been staying, then to the dresser of flowers and gifts. They made me smile, until I saw the date displayed on the bottom of the muted TV. My heart started to race and I felt a little sick, falling back to stare at the ceiling. Today… two days after I woke up… was the day that I’d be receiving my first visitor.

Not just any visitor. Liam Payne.

He’d been twice before, apparently, though I’d slept through both visits. The first had been the day after I was admitted, before Mum got here. My nurse, Hannah, had said that Liam was genuinely concerned about me and, on his second visit, had spent three hours talking with my mother. A fact she had conveniently neglected to mention to me, though she had hinted that the boys had been in touch to request updates on my condition. Mum had called him yesterday, after making sure I’d be okay with it. I don’t know what she expected me to say, but a resounding yes was my answer.

I checked the time on the TV, before paging Hannah. She appeared in a minute or two, clipboard in hand and a smile on her face. “Hello, Kez,” she greeted, having become very comfortable very fast with me. I liked her, she was bubbly and fun and liked to sneak me extra helpings of dessert when the ward matron wasn’t watching. “You feeling alright today?” Hannah continued, adjusting my pillows, taking my temperature, checking my drip. I nodded as she worked, and glanced at the window.

“Could you open the blinds, please?”

Hannah shot me a grin as she did so, before moving to the dresser and rifling through my clothes. I watched, adjusting my bed until I was angled up enough to not be staring at the ceiling. I still couldn’t move about- I had another operation to go before I’d start physio- so Hannah and Mum had to do everything for me. “Ready for today, hon?”

I grinned, grabbing the cup of water that was permanently on the end table and taking a sip. “In a sense, yeah. Still nervous though,” I replied, as Hannah held up two different shirts and I pointed to the Batman one over the sparkly butterfly.

“I’ll bet you are. He’s a cutie,” Hannah winked, helping me discard the hospital gown I’d been wearing. I’d have to put it on again after Liam’s visit, but I’d begged the nurses to let me wear something else just for today. The ward matron wasn’t on duty today, so Hannah had generously agreed to let me. I had a feeling we’d end up being very good friends if she kept treating me like I was something special. It was nice to be looked after. “I should tell you though, I was here the first time he came. He ran in looking like a kicked puppy and stayed for an hour with you, just sitting. I thought the two of you might’ve been friends, by the way he looked at you, but apparently you’ve never met before.”

I shook my head, soaking in the new information. I’d always known Liam was a sweet guy, but I couldn’t picture him freaking out over me. “Did he really stay for an hour?” I asked, smiling to myself as Hannah sat beside me and started brushing my hair. With the skin on my hip still being held together by stitches, I couldn’t stretch my arm above my head just yet.

Hannah hummed in a positive reply, gently tugging on my hair. “Sure did. I checked in on him once or twice, he talked to you and just sort of… hung around. I think he was waiting to be kicked out, really, but I let him stay.”

“Thanks,” I replied, weirdly grateful to know that, for a short amount of time at least, I hadn’t been alone. And I imagine it would’ve made Liam feel better, to see me. To know I was alive. God, it still felt so strange to say, to think, that I’d been so badly injured. I couldn’t remember a thing- the doctor said that’s normal, that I’ve blocked out the trauma. I could remember getting to the venue, and I could remember Harry’s smile, but anything before and after that was a total blur. I’d lost about four days of my life, which was terrifying.

“Do you want me to put it up?” Hannah asked, reaching for a scrunchie that Mum had left on my tray table. I shook my head, and she stood to put the brush and my hospital gown away. “Okay. The doctor wants to check in on you to organise your last surgery, he’ll probably swing by after lunch. Liam’s management have said he’ll get here in the late morning, and has to be back on a plane-“

“What?” I interjected quickly, a confused frown on my face. How far was he coming from? Surely it wasn’t just for me?

Hannah smirked, as if she knew something I didn’t, and raised an eyebrow. “The band are performing in Montana tomorrow night- he’s gotta be back there by midnight tonight.”

“He’s not coming just for me, is he?!” I cried, my heart skipping a beat. I felt a little guilty, and very undeserving, to think that he was spending so much time and effort to visit. They could have waited, could have send a card or a video link- hell, a phone call even- but Liam was really coming to see me, in person, a feat that required him to take two flights in a day to accomplish?

“You saved his life, sweetheart,” Hannah replied, handing me my painkillers. They were weaning me off the morphine now, onto Vicodin, which was apparently less potent. “I imagine you’re pretty important to him.”

I fought the urge to ask ‘why’, figuring I’d save that for the man himself. “Where’s Mum, anyway?”

Hannah checked her watch, and silenced the pager that had started beeping on her hip. “She went hunting for- and I quote- something that doesn’t taste like regurgitated cardboard. I’ll bring you some toast in a minute, see if you can handle it. Enjoy your visit,” she winked at me as she left me cackling with laughter, imagining my chef mother’s reaction to the hospital food. I’d been on soups since I woke up, not wanting to strain my digestive system, but she had complained rather heartily at her roast chicken from last night.

As I calmed down and turned the TV up, then switched from the morning chat shows to cartoons. Yep. Twenty years old and I still loved my cartoons. I was in luck this morning; the animated Batman series was on, the one with Mr Freeze. Happily, I settled in to watch, utterly enthralled. Hannah returned about half an hour later with a slice of plain buttered toast, and anti-nausea pills. The morphine- and the meds they’d given me to combat my blood loss- could cause some pretty bad reactions if I switched to solids too fast, and these were a just-in-case sort of thing. I felt like a baby again, having to have everything done for me and having nothing but liquids to eat.

I devoured the toast, and while I normally loaded mine with cheese, ham and tomato, it was the best blessed thing I’d ever tasted. Pushing the tray table away, I rested against the pillows, bored of the TV now. I wanted to get up, to move around, to do something. I wanted a colouring book, actually, or a computer. Anything to keep me occupied. A book would do- I’d even settle for rereading Twilight.

Okay, maybe not. The point was, I was bored. And slightly anxious. Every footstep outside the door, I imagined was Liam. Every strange voice, every opening door- everything made me jump as if he was there, though logic said an elderly woman’s voice would not belong to Liam Payne.

I tried to doze a little, but it was fitful rest, and my hip had started to ache. I reached for the morphine drip, which I had strict instructions to use only in dire emergencies, and froze just before pressing the button. If I took it, I’d be drowsy and silent. I wanted to be awake for this visit, right? With that thought in mind, I let the button fall away and instead did something I hadn’t yet had the courage to do.

I lifted the blankets to see the extent of my injury.

Not that I could see much. Thick gauze and bandages covered my hip, from my knee up to my ribcage. I couldn’t move the entire right side of my body, though my toes still wriggled when I asked them to. It hurt, though, and morbidly I wished I could see more. Until I’d had my fourth and final operation, though, I’d be bandaged up like King Tut.

I jumped as the door opened, the blanket falling down over the bandages once more.


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