At first I didn't want to bother heading down to the crime scene. After Claudia had allowed me back inside, I hadn't left. In the end, when Claudia heard what had happened, she pretty much begged to go see what was happening.
So I did.
I must have missed most of the excitement because I arrived as the tragic abductee exited the building with a police escort. I tried to push my was to the front, but eventually gave up due to two factors.
One: The crowd wasn't being as accommodating as they would have been, had this been a James Bond film.
Two: What was the use? Lionel wouldn't really care.
I watched as he scanned the crowd and went for some guy in the first row. After a discussion, Lionel took out his phone and fiddled with it for a few moments. Then he did something really weird...
He turned around and started for the building again!
He didn't get far before the guy he had been talking to grabbed him by the shoulder. I got a glimpse of the guy's face and recognized him as Charles. I shoulda known.
The two of them began to head away towards the parking lot, and I began to do the same. I wasn't going to stick around here longer than I had to. I got a quick text from Forrest, asking if I wanted to hang out at his place for a bit. I said sure, but that I had to swing by the hospital to check on Claudia , then to my house to grab a few things.
I headed for home first because Forrest's house was past the hospital. I ended up following Charles and Lionel most of the way. They turned into Lionel's parking lot, and I kept going until I reached my own. I grabbed a pair of shorts, socks, shinguards, and cleats just in case.
I backed out of the driveway and started down the road again, and glanced at the row of house as I went past. Mine, Claudia's, and... Lionel's. There was some movement inside, and I did a doubletake out of sheer curiosity.
What I saw almost caused me to crash.
Lionel and Charles weren't seriously... I mean they couldn't really have been... I know I didn't like Lionel very much but I didn't just imagine that he was...
I might have sped a little to the hospital, and I might have almost collided with a nurse on my way to Claudia's room, and when I reached it, I might have closed the door a little too hard.
"Daniel! What is it? What happened? Is Lionel still captured? Is he hurt?"
I held up a hand so I catch my breath and arrange my thoughts. Claudia did care for Lionel, and if i played this wrong... she might suspicion me of trying to make him look bad.
"Daniel! What's going on?"
"Lionel... is g-" I stopped and took a deep breath. "Lionel is... good."
Claudia stared at me, and when I didn't continue she said, "Yes... and? Where's the fire? Why are you so...wound?"
"You aren't going to believe me."
"Daniel I trust you with my li-... I trust you Daniel."
"I'm not sure I believe it myself, it was just a glance an-"
'A glance where? At what? Daniel come o-"
"Don't rush me Claudia! It's just... really weird... kinda scary... maybe a little unexpected..."
"Daniel you sound like you're about to tell me that you're pregnant."
"Claudia this is serio-"
"Then TELL me alre-"
"LIONEL IS GAY!"
I walked over to the chair and collapsed in it.
I looked at Claudia's frozen face, then down at my feet.
My phone vibrated. I didn't even move.
"What?" Claudia whisper shouted."Daniel if you're pulling something on m-"
"I'm not pulling something on you... I wouldn't do that. Not to you and especially not now."
"Lionel isn't... he can't... Daniel, he was heartbroken that I chose you over him! That kind of implie-"
"Yeah you're right..."
"Oh yeah... I'm sure Lionel and Charles were kissing at his house for a perfectly justified reason."
Claudia flinched back, as if struck, her eyes wide with disbelief. She reached for her cellphone, which was on the small drawer next to the bed. She flipped it open and hit a few buttons.
I didn't have to wonder about who she was calling. In this situation it was kind of obvious. I stood up was at her side in a flash, I went for the phone, carefully of course, and calmly told Claudia,
"Claudia, you can't. You can't do that!"
"I have to Daniel! I have to find out for sure!"
"You can't do that now! Please!" I succeeded in wrestling the phone away, and I cancelled the call just as the first ring had ended.
"Daniel! GIVE ME THE PHONE!"
"Claudia! NO! You need to CALM DOWN!" Her phone rang in my pocket but I ignored it, and knelt beside the bed folding Claudia's hands in my own as she began to weep.
"Claudia... I know. I know. We'll deal with this, I promise, but we can't do it now. We need to think about this. We need to do this in a way that will hurt Lionel the least. Ok?"
Claudia nodded and continued to cry. After awhile the cries faded, and Claudia drifted off to sleep. I let go of her hands, placed her phone back on the bedside drawer, and left the hospital, thinking the whole way.
Not Lionel... I mean I know it was hard... yes he was rejected... but not that!
I was... concerned. Claudia was... definitely concerned... and we wanted to help...
But what were we going to do?