25 - Reunited: Day Seven

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Brian, AJ, Nick, Kevin, and Howie were alone in the penthouse suite watching football on the big screen TV. The coffee table in front of them was covered in beer cans, nuts, popcorn, and sandwiches and all of the boys were completely focused on the TV. Prior to the accident, their days had been packed full from sun up to sundown with no breaks in between and no days off until closer to the end of the tour. With their various injuries and Melanie's mental state, their schedule had become very lax and they were finally able to get a few days off here and there. They were taking full advantage of having an entire day to chill out and do nothing.

As the quarterback caught the ball and began running toward the hundred yard line, the boys began shouting excitedly, erupting into exuberant cheers as the player scored a touchdown, threw the ball down, and began dancing triumphantly.

Penny and Joan entered the room, pulling a very hesitant Melanie in with them. She gripped her mum's hand tightly in response to the noise in the room and she tried to keep herself behind the other two women to keep back from the boys. Noticing the women entering the room, AJ quickly muted the TV and motioned for the rest of the guys to quiet down.

"I'm sorry, we didn't mean to interrupt," said Joan apologetically. "Could I possibly ask you boys for a favour?"

"Of course," Howie replied. "Anything you need."

"I'll get Melanie settled and say goodbye," said Penny softly as she gently led Melanie toward one of the bedrooms. Joan smiled at Melanie, who was following Penny but still watching the boys fearfully.

"Penny is going to be taking Vern and Andy back to the hospital with her to give them restraint and sedation training and I want to go along to watch," Joan explained, anxiously looking back at the bedroom Melanie had been taken to. "The girls are still doing their interview and I didn't want to interrupt. Would you boys mind watching her until I get back?"

"Absolutely," Brian replied. "We'd love to."

"You shouldn't have to do anything," Joan explained. "We've just given her a painkiller and she should sleep until I return, but just pop your head in and check on her once in a while. If she does wake up, maybe you can try to get her to eat something?"

"For sure," AJ replied, watching as Penny returned from the bedroom. They all thanked Penny and said their goodbyes as she and Joan left the suite. Nick turned the volume down on the TV and the boys went back to watching their game, cheering in near-silence whenever their team did well.

At half time, AJ quietly made his way to the bedroom to check on Melanie. Penny hadn't completely closed the door, so he was able to peek in through the crack to see how Melanie was doing. Not seeing her in bed, he slowly pushed the door open and stepped into the room.

He slowly crept around the room, looking to see if Melanie had opted to sleep elsewhere. She would normally tuck herself into a corner of the room, but AJ wasn't seeing her anywhere. Just as he was beginning to worry, he opened the closet to find her pressed into the furthest corner within, staring fearfully at him and breathing in short, painful gasps.

"Hey, it's ok," AJ assured her as he knelt down to be at her level. "There's nothing to be scared of." He could see her trying to push herself further away from him, her breathing becoming more erratic until she was hyperventilating.

"I'm sorry," he said, panicking himself as he realized his presence was making her worse. Each struggled inhalation was cut off by a pained whimper as her lungs pushed against her broken rib. AJ quickly scrambled to his feet and ran back out to the living area of the suite. He tore open the cupboards in search of a paper bag, catching the attention of the rest of the guys.

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