Once in the car, Tahlmus started explaining to Xai the importance of what happened being caught on video. She had huffed several times, but let Tahlmus finish talking without interrupting.
“Just because they have important fathers doesn’t mean they can’t get into trouble!” Xai finally screamed as they pulled into the hospital parking lot.
“There’s video evidence now,” Tahlmus said with gritted teeth as Xai and his mom helped him out of the car. “Something has to change,” he whispered as he leaned on Xai for support.
The hospital visit went well. While Tahlmus had suffered a concussion, he had no broken bones. The doctor prescribed rest from Everything that could overwork his brain, and prescribed medication to help ease the pain.
Later that evening, Tahlmus was having supper in his dimly lit room, when Xai knocked on the door. He beckoned her in with his hand, as his mouth was full. She carefully sat on the bed with him. There were so many questions she wanted to ask, but didn’t know where to start or if she should even ask.
“Have your classmates always disliked you this much?”
Tahlmus shrugged. “This is my first ER visit.”
Xai scowled internally. She didn’t like how much abuse her cousin had taken. Then she remembered what Cherry and Lemon said. “Do you know Celest and Laguna?” Xai asked using their real names. Tahlmus nodded but stayed silent. “Do you like them?”
Tahlmus cocked his eyebrows at her. Curiosity was gnawing at him. What did his cousin know? “They are nice to me when they are able,” he said softly. “Why?”
“They want to be friends with me,” Xai stated watching her cousin carefully. He just chuckled before the two fell into silence. Xai started to fidget as Tahlmus took the last few bites of his food.
“They will be good friends for you,” Tahlmus finally stated. “They… They… I was close to them before… before Todd and his buddies beat them up for verbally putting Kristine in her place. They tried protecting me and… Tahlmus paused. “After that I kept my distance. I didn’t want them getting hurt.”
Xai saw the pain in her cousin’s eyes. There was so much more to the words than what came out of his mouth.
“Did you-” Xai started to ask, wondering if he had liked them as more than just friends.
“I still do,” Tahlmus interrupted. “Both of them,” he continued. “But you have to promise me not to tell them.” Xai opened her mouth to argue. “Promise me, Xai. I need to protect them.” He paused as he swallowed the lump in his throat. “Besides I could never pick one over the other,” he whispered.
“My lips are sealed,” Xai said as she stood up and took Tahlmus’s empty plate. “Now you rest as the doctor ordered. I’m not fond of doing this school thing without you.”
She listened to Tahlmus chuckle as she walked out of his bedroom. Those bullies weren’t going to ruin her cousin’s life any further. Tomorrow all of that would change.
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