I Can't Take It

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I burst into Derek's room and ran inside, shutting the door behind me. When I turned, Derek's eyes were open, blinking furiously. Then, his gaze settled on me.

"Chloe?" he said. His voice was weak, strained.

My heart hammered in my chest in relief at hearing his voice and knowing he was okay. Or close enough, at least

"Derek!"

I sat beside him on the bed and took his hand in mine, tightening my grip until my knuckles turned white. When he winced, I loosened my grip, but his tightened on mine.

"Are you okay?" I said.

He blinked and nodded. "I think so."

The door behind me swung open. I turned to see Maya, Daniel, Simon, and Aunt Lauren. Aunt Lauren stepped past them and walked over to me.

"Chloe—"

"He's okay," I interrupted. "Like I said he'd be."

Maya looked behind me, eyes going wide. I felt Derek's grip loosen on my hand, and turned to see his eyelids fluttering.

" Derek!" I cried. "Derek, no!"

He strained to keep his eyelids open. Aunt Lauren grabbed the receiver from her holster and yelled for someone to come immediately. But I barely heard her. All I could focus on was Derek, slowly slipping from his conscious.

I cupped his face in both hands, tears sliding down my cheeks again.

"Derek, please! Wake up! Stay with us!"

"Nothing too bad will happen, Chloe," Aunt Lauren said. "He'll only be unconscious. He did lose a lot of blood, as I've already said, but not enough for anything too critical to happen."

I glanced at the wires hooked up to him.

"Yes, the bullet did do more damage than it should have, but not that much, I can reassure you."

I nodded and dropped my hands from his face, standing up off the bed and backing away, joining the others while three doctors rushed in through the open door. Maya tugged on my arm.

"We have to go," she said.

I glanced back at Derek, the doctors swarming around him, frantically messing around with the wires and computers, furiously scribbling on their clipboards. I turned back to Maya and nodded, and we left the hospital.

*      *      *

When we got to the rec center, Corey and Rafe were playing pool, Tori and Hayley were playing pinball, Sam and Annie were playing table tennis, Rae was on her phone in the corner, and Ash was no where to be seen. When they saw us, everyone stopped what they were doing and looked up. Everyone except Rae, that is.

"What happened?" Corey said, lowering his pool stick.

"It's . . . it's bad," Maya said. "Worse than we thought."

Rae looked up from her phone then, a hint of concern flashing across her face. The ball Sam and Annie were using rolled off the table and onto the floor. No one bothered to pick it up, instead just stared at us in worry and concern for Derek.

"The bullet did more damage than it should have," Daniel said.

"This is all my fault," Simon muttered. "If I'd just—"

"No," I snapped, turning on him. "It wasn't your fault. You can't see Marcel, so how would you have known he was there? What happened to Derek isn't your fault."

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