"It all hurts..."
The heart monitor went monotone.
"Lionel? Lionel! Oh my god... LIONEL!"
For the first time since we broke up I could feel Claudia's hand in mine. She was squeezing so hard I was losing circulation, but I didn't dare move or try to speak. A doctor ran into the room and kindly shoved me out of the way. A nurse appeared seconds later to usher Claudia, Sarina, and myself out of the hospital room.
Claudia's face was white, and she was trying to speak, but all she could get out was "N-no... n-n-no. Please God no."
Even Sarina, who hadn't known Lionel for all that long, was just sitting in a chair in the waiting room, staring at the floor. I felt like I had to distract them, or cheer them up, or do something to make it all right...
But there was nothing I could do.
I couldn't repay the debt I owed him for saving my life.
I was helpless...
Hours... days... weeks later... who could tell? The doctors came out and stepped into the waiting room.
We didn't need to ask, the looks on our faces said it for us,
Tell us he's ok.
Unfortunately, the doctor's faces displayed an equally clear message.
If only we could...
Claudia started weeping and Sarina, who was sitting next to her, wrapped an arm around her and pulled her into a mournful embrace.
Lionel was moved to the coroner's room in the basement of the complex. Before we left the hospital, we each decided to take a turn with Lionel... while it was just us, and not the rest of the cruel, uncaring world.
Sarina was first. She wasn't with him for very long, but the fact that she went in at all meant something to both me and Claudia.
Claudia went in second. She was in there for almost half and hour. I'm not sure what she said, but I could hear a lot of crying, and the more than occasional "I love you so much."
And then it was my turn. I walked and took his hand. It was already cold. I started speaking softly as I knelt by the edge of the bed.
"Lionel Stephens. If you can hear me... just... you can't just go and die on me! We finally fixed everything... we saved the day... we won. We..."
I broke down.
"Why... why can't I help? There's gotta be something I can do! I'm your freaking wingman! And... and what about Claudia? If not for me, you have to come back for her!"
Something that Lionel had said the night of prom came back to me,
"Hearts were meant to be broken."
"That can't be right... if they were meant to be broken... then why... why does this feel so wrong?"
“You just have to learn from your mistakes. Don’t live a lie… and don’t do bad things. Sometimes, you just get into something, but then you screw up… or they screw up…"
"What mistake? Not making up with you sooner? Not trying harder? Not paying attention enough to know that I was... that I was... cutting your heart out, and making you watch? Fine! I'll learn! But... you gotta come back first... I can't learn to be a better friend, without a friend to be better to..."
"for just one second, you close your eyes, you blink… when you open up and look around, you lost your heaven…”
Starting the enmity between Lionel and I was where I closed my eyes... I think Leeman's return was what opened them. By god, the man actually did something good for once... and then there was the precious few weeks of friendship... and then I blinked.
And Lionel was right...my heaven was gone.
I cried for another ten minutes, before I felt a hand on my shoulder. Sarina was standing behind me with a look of concern on her face. I let go of Lionel's hand and took Sarina's and pulled her into a long silent hug.
And then it was time to go. Sarina left to give me a last goodbye.
"I'm proud to have once called you my wingman. We were unstoppable... except for the all times we were stopped... but... we never gave up. Not even when we thought we had given up, some part of us had fought to stay connected. I wish you were awake for me to tell you to not give up... to not give in to death. And so I could tell you..."
"I'm sorry I blinked... and I would give an arm and a leg to see you blink again, fully knowing that the sadistic powers behind my life might just take my arm and leg in some sick and twisted attempt at humor. But if it meant you were back... I'd do it in a heartbeat."
"If only you would blink again..."
I turned and slowly made my way out. I nodded to Claudia who pushed past me and went to say her last goodbye.
And then she screamed.
I ran in to see Claudia sprawled over Lionel's body.
Lionel's moving body.
Sarina came running in behind me, and when she saw Lionel she stopped dead in her tracks. Heh... dead. See what I did there?
After Claudia finally stopped screaming, she went at Lionel with a passion. I looked away after a moment, to give them as much privacy as the situation allowed for. I waited until the two disentangled before I went after Lionel myself... with less intimacy obviously.
As I was overtaken by laughter and tears of joy, I briefly wondered if someone was going to take me up on the whole arm and a leg deal.