A little while later, Dr. Degas walked back into the exam room. Noah was awake by now, propped up on the bed and slowly sipping a juice box.
“How are you feeling?” Dr. Degas asked, still trying to shake that unsettled feeling that really hadn’t faded since she’d left.
Noah looked up at her. “Fine,” he mumbled.
He shook his head. “No.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Are you sure?”
He shook his head again and failed to hide a flinch. Dr. Degas sighed. “One to ten, what’s your pain level?”
Every man in this town was a stubborn ass about pain. “Has he had anything yet?” Dr. Degas asked Bonnie.
Dr. Degas nodded. “Alright. Your prescription is set so we can give you your first dose now.”
He still seemed odd, but maybe it was just the drugs wearing off. “Absolutely. Let me go get Andrew. He can come get you now.”
She wondered if maybe he remembered their conversation, and that’s why he was acting strange. He shouldn’t, but weirder things had happened.
She was halfway to the door when Noah spoke. “Yeah?”
She turned around to see him holding the tiny plastic cup containing the oxy pill Bonnie had just given him. “Do I have to take this?”
She looked at Bonnie. “Bonnie, can you give us a moment?”
Bonnie nodded. “I’ll go get your friend,” she said to Noah with a smile.
Bonnie walked out of the room and Dr. Degas sat down in the seat next to Noah. “Talk to me.”
Noah took a breath. “I’ve never had problems with pills before,” he said. “But what if I do? I don’t want to risk my sobriety.”
“What do you want to do?” Dr. Degas asked. “You can certainly try over the counter drugs. But I just popped two broken bones back into place and I can tell you from experience that it might not be enough.”
Noah huffed a laugh, still not looking at her. “Look, I’ve never been in your situation,” Dr. Degas admitted. “But my father was. And as he got older, he needed more surgeries. His doctor would prescribe a couple days of pills, the way I did for you. Then if he needed more, he’d go in. But having the limited access helped reduce temptation. If he had any. He never admitted it if he did.”
Noah nodded. “If you want my professional opinion as your doctor,” Dr. Degas continued, “Take the pills for the next two days. You probably won’t need them after that, but we’ll take it a day at a time from there. But I don’t want you to be in unnecessary pain.”
He nodded again, eyes bright. He wiped them with his uninjured hand. “Sorry.”
Dr. Degas squeezed his shoulder. “It’s okay,” she said. “Do you think you’re ready to go home?”
As if on cue, there was a knock at the door. “All set?” Bonnie called in.
“All set,” Dr. Degas called back.
The door opened and Bonnie walked in, followed closely by Andrew. “Hey,” Andrew said, smiling at Noah.
Noah smiled uncertainly. “Hi.”
“You’re set to go whenever you feel ready,” Dr. Degas said. “Take your time. And call me if anything doesn’t feel right in the next few days, alright?”
Noah nodded, and she smiled at him. “I mean it,” she said. “I’m here if you need me.”
She nodded back and left the room.
Andrew sat down next to Noah, who was holding a tiny juice box in the hand that wasn’t pinned to his chest by a black sling.
“How are you?” he asked.
“Tired,” Noah admitted. “Um, a little out of it. Whatever they gave me for pain knocked me out. I think I just woke up.”
“Let me know when you want to go home,” Andrew said.
They sat quietly for a moment as Noah slowly sipped the last of his juice. “Cleo called,” Andrew said. “Her mom’s doing well. They’re treating her for hypothermia and some cuts. But she’s alright.”
“They also say she wouldn’t have been if she’d been out there much longer.”
Noah didn’t answer, just kept sipping his juice. “You saved her life.”
“I just got to her first.”
Andrew wanted to push, but looking at Noah sitting on the propped up exam table with his tired eyes and ridiculous Juicy-Juice, he decided to wait. “How’s the pain?” he asked instead.
Noah shrugged, then winced. “I just took a pill.”
“Good. Oh, I brought you some clothes that aren’t frozen.”
He pulled the pants and shirt he’d taken from Noah’s dresser out of his bag and set them on the table. “I can step out if you want some privacy.”
Noah didn’t seem to notice he’d said anything. Instead, he shifted to the side of the table and started awkwardly pulling on the pants with one hand. It looked painful and Andrew decided not to think too hard on it as he asked, “Do you need help?”
Andrew was ready to die now. Then Noah sighed in defeat. “Yes.”
He had his pants about up to his knees, just under where the hospital johnny he was wearing ended. Looking away, Andrew took hold of the waistband and helped him pull it into place. Meanwhile, Noah looked everywhere but at him.
“And the shirt?” Andrew asked as Noah buttoned his pants.
They both looked at the sling. “I think we might need some more help than I can give,” Andrew admitted.
Bonnie returned a moment later and managed to smoothly get Noah into the soft t-shirt that Andrew had brought. “How are you feeling?” she asked.
She smiled. “If you’re ready, how about you head home and get some sleep? Will you be staying with him tonight?”
The second part was directed at Andrew. “Er, yes? Kind of? There will be a few of us at the house.”
“That’s all I need to know.”
The slightest gleam of mischief in her eye told Andrew he’d been busted. But she kept the professional mask on as she smiled at them. “I’ll get you checked out when you’re ready, sweetie.”
She walked out and Noah slowly stood up. “I’m good,” he said.
A few minutes later they were in the car, driving back to the house. “Cleo’s either going to spend the night at the hospital or come back,” Andrew said as he drove through the dark, empty streets toward the duplex. “But Edie’s going to stay.”
“My couch can pull out,” Noah murmured.
He had his head back against the headrest, eyes closed as Andrew drove.
“Are you cold?” Andrew asked, already reaching for the heater.
He turned it up anyway, then kept driving. A few minutes later they were pulling in behind Edie’s car.
“Where’s my truck?”
“At Cleo’s mom’s house. I have your keys.”
“I’ll go get it.”
Andrew ignored him and opened the door. It was even colder now. “Need any help getting out?”
Noah opened the door with his good hand, then carefully slid out. He was steady enough on his feet, but looked like he was ready to fall asleep standing up.
They walked into the house, and Andrew steered Noah toward Olivia’s flat. “I promised I’d keep an eye on you,” he said. “And I don’t trust you to make it up the stairs.”
“I want to go to bed.”
“Go lie on the couch then.”
Edie and Olivia were in the living room. Edie stood up and hurried over.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” they blurted out as Noah gingerly sat down in the empty recliner. “I didn’t mean to hurt you, I had no idea-”
“It’s my fault,” Noah said, eyes already closed as he leaned back in the chair and sighed. “Not yours. Don’t worry.”
Edie was silent, and it was apparently long enough that Noah cracked an eye open and looked up at them. “I fucked up my wrist last winter and didn’t tell anyone because I’m a jackass,” he said. “Seriously.”
Olivia looked like she wanted to say something, but just shook her head. “You should eat something,” she said. “I made soup.”
“Can you stay awake long enough to drink it without spilling it everywhere?”
She rolled her eyes, but she was smiling with obvious relief as she stepped out into the kitchen, then came back with a mug of soup a moment later.
“Hey, sit up,” she said, gently nudging Noah awake.
He opened his eyes and shifted, gratefully taking the mug from her. “Thanks,” he said.
He took a long sip of soup, then turned to Edie. “Nice to meet you,” he said.
They smiled, but still looked a little unsure. “Nice to meet you too.”
“Cleo called a few minutes ago,” Olivia said. “She’s getting kicked out of the hospital so her mom can rest. So she’s going to head back here.”
“Does she need a ride?” Noah asked.
“Not from you she doesn’t,” Andrew said.
“Can you even feel your body right now?” Olivia asked.
“I’m going to pick her up,” Edie said, interrupting what was sure to be a grouchy and stubborn retort from Noah. They picked up their jacket from the couch and swung it on. “Olivia said we could stay here for the night.”
“I have a pullout upstairs if you need it,” Noah said.
Edie stopped by the door and looked at them. “I wish it had been better circumstances, but I really am glad to meet you.”
Andrew smiled at them. “Same.”
They slipped out the door and a moment later, Andrew heard their car pull out of the driveway. As the sound faded, the exhaustion he’d been shoving aside ever since Cleo called him came crashing down. He sat down on the couch beside Noah’s chair, gladly letting his body go limp for a moment. “I’m never getting up,” he muttered.
Noah laughed, and Andrew could tell he was fading too. He’d get up and help Noah go to bed soon.
But first he was just going to rest his eyes for a minute.