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Angela looked him up and down. “Uh, I can see why they want you to eat more, you’re like a stick figure.” She patted him on the shoulder. “Why don’t you want to eat more? You have an excuse to eat more, and also, by some miracle, this whole thing is covered by insurance!”

“I don’t know, it just feels weird to eat when I’m not hungry. I’m never really hungry, so eating when I’m not, it just feels wasteful.”

“What’d’a’ya mean you never feel hungry? Like never-never, or only at mealtimes?”

“I don’t know, I just don’t really feel hungry, for like a few days at a time, and then I wake up starving, it’s weird.” Right. You are weird. Look at her. She obviously doesn’t think you’re normal. He shifted uncomfortably. “Anyway, do you think you could bring my laptop over here, so I can help you with the paper?”

She thought about further pressing the subject of eating, but upon seeing his obvious desire to avoid it, chose not too. “I mean, yeah, I could, but you don’t need to, especially if you’re still not feeling well.”

He managed to shove some of the negativity his brain was spitting at him aside. “No, no, I’m feeling well enough to at least do my part in a paper. I don’t want to make you do all of that work yourself. Plus, there’s nothing to do here, I’m getting really bored.” And you want to shut out the truth, don’t you. The truth that she doesn’t care, and never will, and that you’re pointless, and your existence is pointless. He sighed. “That and, without distractions, my brain gets pretty nasty. Thanks for coming over, by the way. It’s great seeing you.”

“Of course! Can I come by again later? Don’t want to tire you out too much, and the meds seem to be making you a bit sleepy again already.” She smirked, and he suddenly realized his head had fallen on her shoulder. He sat up quickly. “Uh, yeah, sure, come by anytime they let you!” He punctuated his sentence with a half-hearted smile.

“Great! I’ll bring the chocolate and the laptop tomorrow then! Bye!” She quickly kissed him on the cheek, and then speed-walked out of the room, hiding her blush.

Chapter 4: Embrace for Impact

After a couple weeks of daily visits and emails back and forth, Adri was released from the hospital.

“Alright, so, if you’ve got the energy for it, I’ve planned a little celebration!” She swung the hospital door open with a flair. “After you.”

The corner of his mouth tilted up into a smile. “Well, how many people are invited to this ‘celebration’?”

She grinned. “Oh, just us two. It’s a date, if you want it to be, that is.” She crossed her fingers behind her back, waiting for his reply.

“Sounds great, where are we going?” He put an arm around her shoulders. “Lead the way.”

She practically dragged him over to the park a block away, and then pulled a blanket from her bag. “PICNIC!” She poked him in the ribs. “Soo, I didn’t really know what kinda food you liked, and I didn’t have much, or any, money to get fancy stuff with, so I kinda maybe raided the cafeteria, the grocery store, and the library coffee stand/snack thing for a bunch of the random free stuff.” She opened a pocket in her backpack and poured out a blend of crackers, nuts, ketchup packets, and containers of random free samples. “Should we sort this first, or just eat it?”