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Chapter 15

The operating room was small and drafty. My body trembled as Dr.Layne placed a clear mask over my lips.

"Relax, Nick, and breathe deeply. Count backwards from a 100."

"100, 99, 98," I began to remember something......there was yelling....."97, 96"....someone trying to stop them......"95, 94"....two others sat in the corner dumbfounded...."93, 92, 91" My eyes shut.

Kevin sipped his coffee as he looked around the waiting room. Howie looked up from his newspaper. "What are you thinking about?"

"Oh, something stupid." He paused. "Hey, Howie, do you remember that fight Rok and I had? It was a couple of months before his surgery."

Howie frowned. "Yes, sadly, I do. Why?"

"Remember how it started?"

"Yeah, we were all sitting in your hotel room. You and I were playing Scrabble while Nick and AJ played Nintendo".......

"AJ, you're cheating!" Nick whined.

AJ rolled his eyes. "Nick, putting the game on pause so I can take a piss is not cheating."

"What kinda' word is THAT?" Kevin shouted.

"It's Spanish."

"Howie, using Spanish words isn't fair!"

"Oh, please, Kevin, you're beginning to sound like Nick."

Brian burst through the door. His eyes red and puffy, his face pale and his expression fearful. Kevin's joking manner disappeared. "What's wrong?"

"Bad news, that's all."

Nick turned off his Nintendo. "How bad?"

"Nothing you should worry about, Frack."

Howie spoke gently. "Brian, you know we all worry, so you might as well tell us."

Brian took a seat. "I had to see a cardiologist today, and he made a very big suggestion."

"How big?" Kevin pressed.

"Surgery."

"Surgery?" Nick gasped. "No! That can't be right!"

AJ placed his hand on the young man's shoulder. "Let him finish."

"The murmur has grown and they want to go in to correct the damage."

Nick became hysterical. "They're wrong!"

"Relax, Kaos," Howie whispered.

"NO!"

"Damnit, Nick, shut up!" Kevin hollered.

"Kev, there's no reason to treat him like that! He's a 17-year-old kid!"

"He's old enough to understand!"

"No, he's not!"

AJ stood. "I can't take this shit!"

Kevin shot him an evil glare. "Sit your ass down! You're not going anywhere!"

Brian rolled his eyes. "Would you lay off? I'm the sick one, and I'm more rational than you!"

"You're not thinking logically! This could be a life or death situation."

"Life or death," Nick repeated as he sobbed.

AJ pulled him into a tight hug. "Deep breathes, Nicky, you're gonna' hyperventlate."

Kevin lessened his tone. "When's the surgery?"

"It's been rescheduled twice."

"Twice?" Howie questioned.

"Yep. due to touring and stuff."

"I don't care about touring or anything less!" Kevin fumed.

"But---"

"If you need surgery everything could be postponed."

"I don't wanna' do that, Kev."

"Brian, quit being stupid."

"Don't call me stupid!"

"Stop fighting!" Nick cried.

Howie stepped bewteen the two. "ENOUGH!" He shook his head. "Bri, you're only making yourself worse. And Kev you're pushing him along the way. Not to mention you've given Nicky a breakdown!"

They turned to see Nick shaking in AJ's grasp. The two cousins walked away in silence......A lot changed that day. Two cousins declared war against each other, a gentle-soul took a stand and a rebel reached out to a friend in need.

Even more changed as the future came and went. After learning he had unknowingly developed another hole in his heart; Brian went through a change of heart. If anyone he knew was troubled he immediately wanted them to seek medical aid.

Kevin, however, after seeing the anger in Brian's eyes began to back off. not forcing the group into anything until it was absolutely necessary.


Chapter 16