Castle Roland


by Eric Aune


Chapter 2

Published: 8 Apr 14

Chase was feeling a little down as he rode to the bridge. After he had said "Good job" to Ethan, it looked like he became invisible again. It was a little depressing. He figured he'd just veg at the bridge and watch the water pass by beneath him, just like he and Ethan used to do. He stopped at the end of the bridge and walked his bike to the middle and leaned it against the railing. He leaned on the railing and let his arms hang down toward the water. He stared at the water flowing lazily beneath him.

After a few moments something colorful caught his eye a little ways up the river. He saw something along the riverbank near some bushes that came down to the river's edge. He scowled, "Man what a bunch of lazy assholes. Throwing their trash in the river. Don't they…" The colorful object moved with the current a little and Chase suddenly froze. "What the fuck?" He saw an arm move in the current. "Oh shit!" He grabbed his bike, whipped it around and sped over the bridge as fast as he could go.

He turned on the road and headed back along the riverbank. When he got near to where he saw the body, he flung himself off of the bike, catching his right foot on the seat and causing him to fall. He landed on his arm and his knee. He winced as he got up and saw that he had a big scrape on his elbow and the knee of his pants was torn and there was some blood. He ignored the burning and hurried down the bank. When he got there the bushes were in his way, so he went around them and waded up to his waist in the water to where the person was laying. He saw that it was a boy around his age floating face down. The boy's arm looked out of shape and Chase saw that his foot looked wrong too. He quickly bent down to turn him over so that the boy's face wasn't in the water.

When he got him turned over Chase froze. "OH MY GOD, ETHAN!" Chase yelled.

He started to panic, but something stopped him. He knew he had to get Ethan out of here. He waded back the way he had come while holding Ethan under the arms. When he got to the riverbank and laid him down, he noticed that Ethan's lips were blue and he wasn't breathing. "Oh Shit!" He started to run up the bank to call for help, then he remembered in health class that they talked about CPR. He knelt down next to Ethan and tilted his head back a little as he ran through the procedure in his head. He leaned down and put his mouth over Ethan's. For a second a weird thought came into his head, he was kissing the boy of his dreams. He quickly dismissed that and got angry with himself for even thinking that. He exhaled into Ethan's mouth and he felt some resistance to his breath. He looked up for a moment and tilted Ethan's head back farther. This time when he breathed into him, the air seemed to flow better. He did that a couple of times and waited for a second, nothing seemed to change. "Damn it, forgot." He put his fingers to Ethan's neck and moved them around a little until he felt a faint beat. "Thank god."

He quickly leaned down again and started giving him breaths, pausing for a second, and then another breath, and kept this up for a few moments before he felt a stir beneath him. Ethan suddenly coughed up some water and Chase turned him partway onto his side as more water came out of his mouth. Chase looked down at him expectantly and he saw Ethan's eyes flutter open, but he saw that Ethan looked dazed and he wasn't focusing.

Ethan opened his eyes and everything was blurry. There was a shape in front of him, but he couldn't make it out, then everything went black.

Chase froze as he saw Ethan's eyes roll back, "Noooo. C'mon Ethan wake up."

He was shaking him but Ethan didn't move. Tears started running down his face. "Nooooo. Damn it no. C'mon buddy, wake up!"

He gave him another shake, but Ethan just lay there. "C'mon Chase, get it together Ethan needs you right now." Chase looked up the steep bank and down at Ethan. He bent down as close to him as he could and grabbed Ethan's arms, pulling and turning his back to him, until he could pull his body up onto his back. Ethan's head was flopping on his shoulder as he held tight to his arms and slowly stood up. He staggered for a moment as he took Ethan's dead weight and with a determined look on his face, he started up the slope.

As he climbed he looked to his left and he saw Ethan's bike, the front wheel was all bent and the handlebars were crooked. He turned back to his task and slowly made his way up the bank. A couple of times during the climb Ethan gave out a faint moan in his ear. He kept at it until he got to where his bike was and carefully laid Ethan down.

He took a moment to catch his breath, because Ethan was heavier than his 100 pounds soaking wet. He checked and saw that Ethan was still breathing and he noticed that there was a cut on Ethan's head that was bleeding freely now and there was a big bump and purplish bruise around it.

Chase stood up and reached into his back pocket to pull his phone out. When he got it out, water dripped off it. He opened it and tried a couple of buttons, it didn't work. "Fuck, what am I going to do now?" He threw the phone on the ground and it broke. He slumped to the ground and started crying.

He was kneeling beside Ethan, with his hand resting on his chest, as he felt Ethan continuing to breathe. He was brought back by the sound of car tires slowing down behind him. He quickly turned around and saw a man getting out of his car.

"Hey buddy, are you guys okay?"

Chase looked at him and shook his head. "My friend fell down, crashed his bike and fell down the riverbank. He's breathing, but he's hurt real bad."

The man walked over and took in the apparent injuries of the boy on the ground and looked into the hopeful tear stained face of the boy sitting next to him as he pulled his cell phone out.

"Don't worry son, I'll call the paramedics. They'll make sure he's alright."

Chase just nodded numbly and turned his attention back to Ethan. He took Ethan's hand in his and held it with both of his. The sun was starting to go down so it was starting to get darker.

The man closed his cell phone and turned back to the two boys. He knelt down next to Chase and gently put his hand on Chase's back trying to comfort him. "They said they're on their way. They should be here in no time. Don't worry, they'll take care of him and make him well."

Chase silently nodded, "Thanks," he choked out.

Moments later they heard sirens in the distance and getting closer. Soon they could look up and see the speeding paramedics with a police car leading the way and a fire truck behind them. The man stood up to flag them down and they pulled up next to the two boys.

The paramedics jumped out and grabbed their gear out of the lockers on the sides of the truck and hurried over to the two boy's side. One of them turned to Chase while the other cut open Ethan's shirt and started putting monitors on his chest. "Okay buddy, can you tell me what happened?"

Chase nodded and swallowed a couple of times and started telling them what he knew.

"I was standing in the middle of the bridge looking down at the water. I've always like to come out there and just watch the water flow by." Chase pointed down the bank to the bushes that Ethan had been caught in. "I saw something colorful in the bushes and thought it was some trash that people had thrown in the river when I saw that it was a person. So I rode my bike down here and went down to get him out of the water. When I turned him over I saw it was my friend Ethan, so I pulled him out of the water and when I laid him on the bank I saw that he wasn't breathing. I didn't know what to do right away and then I remembered about CPR and I started giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation and pretty soon he coughed up a bunch of water and started breathing on his own."

The paramedic smiled and nodded, "Good job buddy, good job."

Chase continued, "Then I picked him up and carried him on my back up here to the road."

The paramedic looked between Chase and Ethan, "You carried him up here?"

Chase nodded and the paramedic nodded with a look of respect for Chase on his face.

"When I got here, I took my cell phone out and tried to call for help, but it was soaked and didn't work. I threw it down and didn't know what to do until that man pulled up and called you guys."

The paramedic nodded as he jotted down a couple of things. A voice from someone standing above him asked, "So you didn't see how he ended up down there?"

Chase shook his head no, but he pointed toward where Ethan's bike was laying partway down the riverbank. "There's his bike, it kinda looked like he crashed it."

The police officer nodded as he made some more notes.

The paramedic finished with his notes and gently got Chase to let go of Ethan's hand. "Let us take care of your friend, son."

The officer came around and gently helped Chase to stand up and walk over to his car with him. Chase winced and limped a little bit as he went with him. The officer noticed and stopped him. "Are you hurt son?"

Chase shrugged a little bit, "I kinda slipped when I started down to get Ethan out of the water, it's okay. It only stings a little."

Chase lifted his arm a little and the officer looked him over, and saw the scrapes on his arm and the torn knee of his jeans with blood seeping out. He patted him on the back. "We'll make sure they take a look at you as well. Okay, you said his name is Ethan?"

Chase nodded, "Yes sir, Ethan Hicks."

The officer quickly glanced over at Ethan, "The runner?"

Chase nodded, "Yes sir."

The officer continued, "How old is Ethan?"

"Fifteen sir." He made another note, "And what's your name and how old are you?"

"Chase Evans sir. I'm fifteen." The officer looked at him with some disbelief.

Chase nodded, "I know, I look twelve or thirteen. It really sucks sometimes."

The officer chuckled a little, "Yeah I guess it would at that. Do you know where Ethan lives?"

Chase nodded, "2731 Lexington."

The officer wrote that down, "and do you know his phone number?"

Chase nodded "787-9837."

He finished writing, "Why don't you just lean against the car for a moment, I'll be right back."

Chase nodded and watched as the officer walked over to the paramedics and started giving them Ethan's name and age. They noted it down and continued with their work. By this time, all of Ethan's clothes were cut off and he was laying there naked, except for his underwear. Two of the other fireman had brought a gurney from the back of the paramedics truck and a backboard had been slipped underneath him. His neck was secured and there were splints on his arm and his lower leg. Chase watched as they lifted him up and placed him on the gurney. They hung an IV bag from a pole that was sticking up and one of the fireman put a blanket over him.

Chase looked around and saw the officer shake hands with the man who had pulled up to help. The man gave Chase a wave as he headed back to his car. Chase gave him a little smile of thanks and a small wave.

The officer called one of the paramedics over to Chase, "Can you take a look at our hero here. He got a little banged up when he did his rescue work."

The paramedic smiled and gave Chase a quick look. "I think we should take him in to be checked out and cleaned up a little."

Right about that time a cold wind started to blow and Chase shivered a little. They realized that he was standing there mostly soaked.

The paramedic put his hand on his back and guided him to the back of the paramedic truck. "C'mon, let's get you out of this cold air. You can sit in the back with me and we'll take you to the hospital with us. They'll make sure that you are alright."

Chase turned and paused for a moment, "What about our bikes."

The officer stepped up, "Don't worry about them. I'll take care of them. Where do you live?"

"2893 Saratoga."

The officer nodded, "Got it. I'll take them with me and stop by your friends house first and then at your house and let your parents know what happened." He walked over to Chase and held out his hand with a big smile. "Good job out here today, you probably saved your buddy's life."

Chase took his hand and shook it. "Thank you sir."

The officer stepped back and gave him a little salute as the paramedic continued guiding him to the truck. He helped Chase get in and then followed him in. He grabbed a blanket for Chase to put around his shoulders. The fireman closed the back doors and the paramedic helped Chase get buckled in and told his partner they were ready. They were off.

Chase reached down and took Ethan's hand and held it.

The paramedic glanced at him and smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry. He'll be okay." Chase nodded.

Chase sat there and watched as the paramedic continued to work on Ethan. He had carefully bandaged the cut on his Ethan's head. Ethan simply lay there unmoving. If it wasn't for the slow rise and fall of his chest, he appeared dead. His face was so pale. Tears came to Chase's eyes again but he quickly wiped them away. He told himself that he needed to keep his emotions under control. He wanted to be strong for Ethan.

He looked at the paramedic. "Is it true what the policeman said?" he asked in a quiet voice.

The paramedic looked up not understanding the question, "What do you mean?"

"He said that I probably saved Ethan's life."

The paramedic reached out and ruffled Chase's hair as he nodded, "Yep, you probably did. You found him, you pulled him out of the water, you got him breathing again and carried him up to the road and got him help. So, yeah, I'd have to say you saved his life."

Chase nodded and gave Ethan's hand a squeeze.

Randy and Mary Hicks were in the kitchen. Mary hung up the phone and shrugged. "It went straight to voice mail. He must have his phone off."

Randy frowned a bit, "Where the heck is he? He knows that it's about dinner time. He should have been here at least an hour ago."

Before she could say something, there was a knock at the front door. Randy went to the door to answer it. Mary put the meal in the oven to stay warm. When Randy opened the door he froze as he saw a police officer standing at the door with a serious expression on his face.

"Are you Mr. Hicks?" Randy nodded, fearing what was coming next. "Do you have a son named Ethan?" Randy trembled a little as he nodded again. "There's been an accident and your son has been hurt."

Randy couldn't speak for a moment, "Is he okay?" he asked fearing the answer.

The officer nodded, "I think so. His friend saved his life and he is on the way to the hospital right now. He's pretty banged up, but I think he'll be okay."

Mary walked up right at that time, "Who is it Randy?" She froze when she saws the officer at the door. "What's going on? Is it Ethan?"

Randy turned to her and pulled her next to him. "The officer told me that he is has been hurt and is on the way to hospital Mare. He said that Ethan will be okay. C'mon grab your purse and we'll get over there right away."

He turned to the officer, "Thank you officer."

The officer nodded and pointed over toward the garage, "I brought his bike and put it by the garage, it's a bit banged up."

By this time the Hick's were ready to get going to the hospital and they came outside with the officer. He showed them Ethan's bike.

"What happened? Did he get hit by a car?" Mary asked.

The officer shook his head, "No ma'am. It appears that he somehow crashed his bike and fell down the riverbank. He ended up in the river and if it hadn't been for his friend, he might have drowned."

Randy looked at the officer, "You said something about that before. You said his friend saved his life. Which friend, I'd like to be able to thank him."

The officer looked at his notes, "Chase Evans."

The two of them were shocked, "Chase. We haven't seen Chase for a long time. I thought he had moved away."

The officer shrugged, "I don't know about that, but he said his name was Chase Evans."

They looked at each other with a little surprise. Randy shook hands with the officer and thanked him for letting them know about Ethan. The officer left and they pulled out to head to the hospital.

A couple of miles away, the officer pulled up in front of the Evan's home. He pulled Chase's bike out of his car and walked it up to the front door and put down the kickstand. He went up and knocked on the door.

A young boy answered the door, "Hi."

The officer smiled at the boy, "Hello there, are your parents home?"

Matt turned around, "Dad, there's a policeman at the door."

Dan Evans came hurrying to the front door, closely followed by his wife Sandy. He came up behind Matt and placed his hand on his shoulder, "Yes officer, is there some kind of problem."

The officer shook his head, "No sir. Well, at least nothing serious with your son. Chase saved his friend's life today, but he got a little scraped up doing it. He is being taken to the hospital to get his scrapes taken care of, but other than that he's fine. He was a hero today. If it hadn't have been for him, his friend probably would have died today."

They were a little puzzled, "What did he do. Who was it?"

The officer smiled at them, "Ethan Hicks. He saved him from drowning and helped him after his friend crashed his bike."

Sandy put her hand to her mouth in surprise, "Is Ethan okay?"

"Ethan is pretty badly banged up, but the paramedics said that they think he will be okay."

She nodded, "Thank you officer for letting us know and bringing his bike home. Matt, go put your brother's bike away and then we're going to see how your brother is doing."

Matt nodded and took the bike to the garage. Dan shook hands with the officer and thanked him. They got their things and headed off to the hospital to see how their son was doing.

When they arrived at the hospital, the paramedic got out first and helped Chase get down, before he and his partner pulled Ethan's gurney out. Chase was really starting to worry, Ethan hadn't woken up yet. Not since he had opened eyes for a second after Chase had gotten him breathing again. He followed behind the paramedics as they pushed the gurney into the emergency room. A nurse met them as they entered and the paramedic handed over his paperwork that listed Ethan's name and their assessment of his condition so far.

No one seemed to pay much attention to Chase. He was invisible once again.

Ethan was put into a cubicle and Chase just stood nearby watching everything as they moved Ethan off the paramedic gurney onto another gurney. One of the paramedics wheeled their gurney out of the way, while the other finished his report to the nurse. When he was finished, she thanked him and he turned to leave.

As he turned away from the nurse he spied Chase standing there looking a little forlorn, holding the blanket around him and shivering a little. He walked over to him and placed his hand on Chase's shoulder, "Annie, I almost forgot. You need to take care of our hero here. He saved the other boy's life and got a little banged up in the process."

She looked over at him and smiled. She turned to one of the other nurses in the room. "Gillian, can you take care of…"

She looked at him expectantly and he quickly spoke up, "Chase, ma'am."

She smiled and turned back to Gillian, "Could you take care of Chase here, get him treated and cleaned up."

Gillian smiled and walked over to take charge of Chase. "Hi Chase, I'm Gillian, come with me and we'll get you taken care of."

She moved him into a cubicle next door and helped him get up on the gurney. While a couple of nurses worked on Ethan, Gillian looked Chase over and asked him a few questions as she documented his injuries. She left for a moment and came back with a bundle of something in her hand. "Here Chase, I'm going to step out for a moment and I want you to put these on. We want to get you out of those wet and dirty clothes so we can treat your injuries.

Chase colored a little as she left the cubicle and made sure the curtain was closed. He sat on the edge of the gurney and took his damp shoes and socks off and dropped them on the floor. He carefully got off the gurney and dropped his pants and since his briefs were wet too, he took them off as well. He used the paramedic's blanket to dry off a little before he picked up the hospital pajama bottoms and slipped them on. He used the blanket again when he got his shirt off and then slipped the top on. He didn't know what to do with his wet clothes until he noticed the plastic bags hanging from a hook on the wall that were labeled "Patient Belongings Bag." He grabbed one and put his shoes and his clothes in it and then got up on the gurney. He put the hospital socks on to keep his feet warm and waited for Gillian to come back.

Next door, the doctor came in and started looking Ethan over. The nurse gave him the report from the paramedics, and he started assessing him. After checking him over, he started giving his orders, "Get a CBC and Chem 7. Get a C spine first to clear his neck and then a chest, right ankle and left arm x-ray. After that's done get him to CT for a non con head, I'm a little concerned about him still being unconscious. Does anyone know if the boy's parents are here yet?"

One of the EMT's left the room to find out, the rest got to work to carry out his orders.

In Chase's cubicle nearby, a doctor came in with Gillian, checked his chart and looked him over. He had him move his arm and knee to make sure there was nothing worse than the cuts and abrasions that could be seen. After he finished he looked at Chase with a smile. "Well it looks like you'll live. It looks like you just got a little scraped. Gillian here will clean out the cuts and bandage you up and you'll be free to go home." He made some notes on the chart and handed it to Gillian.

She looked at it and started treating all the scrapes on his arm and knee. Before long, she finished cleaning his wounds and bandaging him up. As she was finishing, an EMT came into the cubicle with his parents and his little brother.

"Chase." His mom said as she moved quickly to his side. She hugged him while his dad talked to the nurse.

He nodded to her before moving to his son's side. "How're you doing son?"

Chase looked at his dad with a smile, "I'm okay Dad. Just a little scraped up."

Dan placed his hand on Chase's shoulder, "Good, I'm glad you're okay. Are you ready to get out of here? The nurse said that you're all fixed up and can leave."

Chase glanced at the wall that separated him from the room where Ethan was being taken care of, "Can we find out how Ethan is doing?"

His dad nodded. "Wait here, I'll see what I can find out. While I'm doing that, why don't you gather your stuff so we can get going."

Chase nodded, "All my stuff is in the bag there."

His mom picked up the bag and looked inside. All of the clothes were wet and dirty. She looked at him, "Maybe they'll let you wear these home and we can bring them back later." He nodded.

Dan returned a few minutes later. "They said they can't tell me anything about his condition because we're not family. C'mon Chase, let's go on home. There's nothing more we can do here."

Chase looked worried, "But…"

His dad shook his head, "They won't tell me. We'll call his parents and find out as soon as we can. That's the best we can do right now."

Chase accepted that and he moved to the side of the gurney to get down. They left the cubicle and were directed to the exit. As they came into the waiting room they stopped at the door when they heard someone calling out. "Chase?"

They turned around and saw Ethan's parents standing up from the chair's they had been sitting in. Chase and his family went over and handshakes and hugs were exchanged.

Mary gave Chase a hug and then pushed him back while keeping her hands on his shoulders. She looked at him with tear filled eyes. She smiled at him, "Chase, we heard what you did for Ethan. Thank you so much."

Chase reddened at the praise. "I'm glad I was there."

Randy shook his hand and smiled. "Chase, it's been a long time. I'm glad you're his friend and you were there to help him. Can you tell us what happened? The police said he crashed his bike and fell in the river?"

Chase nodded and they all sat down in the chairs. Chase began to tell what happened. Occasionally, one of the parents would ask a question to clarify a point, but other than that they waited until he was finished.

Ethan's parents were smiling at him and nodding. "Chase, now I know why the officer was calling you a hero. You really did save his life. Thank you so much."

Chase blushed at the praise. "Mr. Hicks? Do you know how Ethan is doing?"

Randy shook his head. "We were waiting to hear from the doctor, when we saw you folks come out here. The last thing that they told us was that he was still unconscious and they were taking him to get a Cat Scan of his head to make sure he didn't have any injuries to his brain."

Chase turned to his parents, "Can we stay at least until we hear how he's doing?"

Dan nodded his head. "No problem we'll wait here with you guys Randy, if you don't mind."

Randy shook his head, "Not at all. We welcome your company."

They sat around together talking about things and catching up with their lives. Thirty minutes later a doctor came out and asked the nurse at the desk for Ethan's parents. She pointed in their direction and he walked over. Everyone stood up. He shook hands with them and introduced himself as Dr. Corners.

"So Doctor, how is Ethan. Can we see him?" Randy asked.

"He is stable. However, my concern is that he is still unconscious. We did a CT scan and found no fractures or blood in his brain. He most certainly has a severe concussion and his brain may have been bruised. His brain got knocked around a bit when he hit his head. We are giving him medication that should take care of all of that, but we won't know for certain if there are any long term problems until he wakes up. I'm optimistic that he will be fine in a day or two. He just may wake up after a good night's rest. But again, we will be able to assess everything better when he wakes up."

"So, is there a possibility that he has some sort of brain damage."

The doctor shook his head. "Based on what I've seen so far, I think his body is just keeping him asleep to let his brain heal from the injury and he'll be good as knew. We, of course, are going to keep him here until he wakes up and we are sure that everything is okay with him. His other injuries are a broken left arm and he dislocated his right ankle. His arm is in a cast, and that should take about several weeks to heal completely. His ankle will take some time as well. When we discharge him, we will fit him with a boot and he will have to wear that for three to four weeks. After that, he will need to have physical therapy and it should all be healed up a few weeks after that."

"He is a runner for the high school cross country team and the track team. Will he still be able to do that?"

The doctor nodded. "Well, he will be out of commission for any of that for some time. However, once everything is healed up, I see no reason why he couldn't go back to running."

"When can we see him?" Mary asked.

"We're going to move him up to a room and after that you can visit with him."

Chase looked at his parents, "Can we stay until I can see him?"

Dan considered it for a moment before looking over at Ethan's parents, "Tell you what, if you and Randy don't mind, can Chase stay here with you and see Ethan. In the meantime we'll go home, I'll get Chase some of his own clothes and come back to pick him up a little later."

They nodded, "Sure, we'd be happy to have him come up with us to see Ethan when they let us."

"Then that's settled. Chase I'll see you when I return in a little while. We're very proud of you. Bye Randy, bye Mary. Nice to see you again, we'll talk to you later." They all shook hands and Chase's family headed home.

They continued to sit there and wait for the next hour before someone came out to show them where Ethan had been moved. They thanked the person and went into the room.

Ethan was on his back and had an oxygen cannula in his nose giving him oxygen and an IV in his arm. He still looked pale, but the cut on his head was bandaged and you could see the bruise on his head. His arm had a fiberglass cast on it and there was a splint on his lower leg and ankle. His parents moved up next to his bed. Chase hung back a little.

"Hi sweetheart, can you hear me. You just rest and wake up when you're ready. We'll be right here waiting," his mother said to him as she held his hand and smoothed his hair back.

Chase slowly walked up until he was standing at the foot of the bed looking at him. He felt his eyes start to get teary and he quickly wiped them away and swallowed a couple of times to get control of his emotions.

Randy noticed Chase standing there and he motioned for Chase to walk over next to him. He backed up a little to leave room for Chase to come closer and stand next to the bed. "Hey buddy, Chase is here. He's come to visit and see how you're doing."

Randy looked at Chase and nodded, "Go ahead Chase. Deep down, I'm sure he can hear you." Chase nodded.

"Hi…..hi, Ethan. It's me Chase. I hope you're going to be okay. Hang in there. It….It's good to see you…well not like this…but it's good to to you again. You need to get better, so you can win more championships like this weekend, he,he. Anyway, the doctor says you're going to be alright and you'll be able to run again." Chase paused as he didn't know what else to say before he continued, "Well, uh, I guess that's it. Get better bro."

Randy patted Chase on the back and nodded when Chase looked at him. They all pulled up some chairs to sit with him. Chase just looked at him as he slept, memorizing the contours of Ethan's face. He still saw a lot of the twelve year old friend in there, but some of the lines of the face were taking on more adult features, hinting at what he would look like when he finished growing up.

The door to the room opened and they turned to see Dan come in with a small gym bag. He smiled as he came over to Chase and kissed him on the head as he handed him the bag. "Hey buddy, I've brought you some clothes. Why don't you go in the bathroom and change, then we'll get going."

Chase nodded and went into the bathroom to change. While he was in there, he allowed some of the tears he had been holding in to flow. He quickly wiped them away, blew his nose and washed his face before he got dressed.

When he got out, no one was in the room. He glanced at the closed door and then quickly made his way next to Ethan's bed and took his hand in his. He glanced at the door once again and then leaned down close to Ethan. He paused for a moment as he looked at him and then lightly kissed him on the lips. He then spoke low enough so that no one who was not nearby could hear him, "I've always loved you Ethan. Hurry up and get well." He touched Ethan's face and hair for a moment and with his back to the door he did not see it softly close behind him. A couple of seconds later he stood up quickly and released Ethan's hand, when he heard someone outside the door.

His dad entered the room and after glancing at both boys he looked at Chase with a smile, "Ready to go Chase?" Chase nodded.

Dan held his arm up and Chase walked toward him. At the door he paused and looked back at Ethan before he allowed the door to close behind him. His dad put his arm across Chase's shoulders and gave him a quick one armed hug as he guided him away from the room. They saw Ethan's parents, who were talking to a nurse nearby.

Randy and Mary saw them and excused themselves before coming over to Chase and Dan.

Mary hugged Chase and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you Chase, for everything you did for Ethan. We are forever grateful to you."

Chase blushed at the kiss.

Randy held out his hand and they shook, "We mean it, thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

Chase nodded, "I was glad I could help, Mr. and Mrs. Hicks."

He and his dad headed home.

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