I don't care what happens to me. My lot in life has been given. All the heartache I've ever felt, I've just learned to accept it. I don't cry for myself and I've never cried for anyone else. I never cared enough to, but he got under my skin and I couldn't help it.
Chapter 11 – Not Such a Lucky Night
Raven had come over to keep Rapunzel company while they waited to hear from the guys. Her phone rang about forty minutes after she got there. It was Jeff.
"We found Eugene. Max and Mr. Hook are taking him to the hospital."
"My, God, is he alright?"
"Oh, sure. He came out better than the other two. Probably has a broken rib though, so make sure Rapunzel knows not to attack him on sight."
"Got it." They said good-bye and Raven hung up. Rapunzel was looking at her, expectant. Raven smiled at her. "They found him."
"Oh, thank God." Rapunzel fell back against the couch and put her hands over her face.
"Jeff said they're taking him to the hospital. I guess he didn't come out completely unscathed. Might have a broken rib, so don't glomp him." Rapunzel pulled her hands from her eyes.
"This is my fault."
"No, it's not, Rapunzel. Eugene is a time-bomb. Every now and then he explodes. He just isn't quite sure how to deal with his rage. And I think it's sweet that he went to defend your honor. How many guys will still do that?" Raven continued to talk, but Rapunzel's mind wandered back to that conversation she'd had with Max about Eugene's past. She remembered what he said about his dad.
Maybe rage can be genetic, she thought.
Raven insisted she stay until Eugene came home, which was at 4:46 a.m. There was a click from the door knob and there was Eugene, flagged by Mr. Hook and Max. All three of them looked tired, Eugene especially.
His coat had been thrown over his shoulders and blood stains spotted his shirt. It had been cut down the center and Rapunzel could just see wrappings over his chest. He looked like he'd gotten beaten by three ugly sticks. The left side of his face was swollen; his eye barely visible from the bloated skin, and it was a mesh of blue, red, purple, and yellow. He had a fat lip and a piece of gauze was taped above his left eyebrow. A square band-aid was on his right cheek. He had an arm stabilizer on his left side, the kind that holds the arm in place with a thick piece of foam that is put parallel to the body. His right hand was in a blue cast: his first two fingers were separated from the rest of his fingers and his thumb was in its own section of the cast. He looked absolutely terrible. Rapunzel wondered what the other two looked like.
She and Raven stood up. Rapunzel walked to Eugene, grateful he wasn't worse.
"Eugene," she put her hand up to touch his face. He walked past her, not meeting her eyes. He took his jacket off and put it over the back of the couch and then gingerly sat down. He slowly leaned back and let out a deep sigh. She looked at him, confused. She turned back to the others.
"Thank you for finding him."
"Wish we'd found him sooner," Max said, glaring across the way at Eugene.
"Well," said Raven, "that's my cue to leave." She hugged Rapunzel. "See you later, sweetie. I've got to get home and uh, get ready for work. Good-bye, Mr. Hook, Max," she paused, "Eugene." Eugene said nothing to her. She gave him an irritated frown. She left the apartment, waving.
"Well, it's late, and I'm an old man," Mr. Hook said. "It's way past my bed time, course, this isn't anything I'm not used to. Good night, Rapunzel, Eugene."
"See you later," he said back, still not looking towards the door. Mr. Hook hugged Rapunzel and she kissed his cheek, whispering a thank you in his ear. As he left, Rapunzel heard Mr. Hook mumble something crude that he probably meant for Eugene to hear. Max watched him leave.
"I've got to head out too. I'm supposed to be at work at noon. It'd be nice if I could get some sleep before then." Max leaned down to give Rapunzel a hug with one arm. He rubbed her shoulder and kissed the top of her head. He stood up. "Good bye, Rapunzel." He looked at his best friend sitting on the couch. "Eugene."
The air crackled between them. Rapunzel's hair stood up on the back of her neck. She glanced between the two. She was sure they were going to start a yelling match any second. But they didn't. Max just walked away. Rapunzel heard him clomp down the stairs. She closed the door and locked it. She turned to Eugene.
He was breathing slowly, his eyes closed. He looked so tired and...vulnerable. But Rapunzel wasn't going to just let all this be swept under the rug. She pounded over to Eugene and stood in front of him, her hands on her hips. Eugene's eyes were still closed.
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't slap you right now?" Eugene opened his eyes. He stared at Rapunzel, speechless. She had his attention. "I didn't know what you were thinking. You just suddenly left and," Rapunzel's voice caught. She tried to stay strong. "I do not appreciate that you left the apartment so late at night." She had no idea what she was saying, but she tried to keep it going. "Are you stupid or something? What if something had happened to you?" She was finding it harder and harder to keep her voice from cracking. "I was so, so, worried about you…" She couldn't hold her tears back anymore. Rapunzel kneeled on the floor in front of Eugene and put her head on one of his legs. "I was so woooorried about yoooo," she sobbed. Her shoulders shook and she took big gulps of air. She looked up at him, her green eyes glistening with emotion. "What if something worse had happened to you, Eugene?" Eugene gazed at Rapunzel, perplexed. He'd never seen her worried about him before. He smiled gently at her and pulled her chin up.
"But nothing worse did happen." Rapunzel pulled her face from Eugene's hand and sat down on the couch next to him, staying on the right, less injured side.
"That doesn't change anything! You didn't think ahead. What would I have done if something really bad happened to you? I was so worried."
"Yes, you idiot," Rapunzel snapped at him. She sighed and took Eugene's casted hand. He wished he could feel her touch. She looked him in the eye, daring him to look away from her gaze. "I like you, Eugene. You're a nice guy, too nice for your own good, and I don't want anything bad to happen to you." Rapunzel slid her hand up his arm and rested her head against him. "I don't ever want you to get hurt again," she mumbled.
Eugene was baffled. Rapunzel was saying she cared about him. Him. He had no idea what to say or do. He looked down at her; tears clung to her lashes and she sniffled. Eugene had to fight down the urge to kiss her.
"They were going to hurt you, Rapunzel," he said, wishing his other arm wasn't constricted; he wanted to hold her. "I couldn't just do nothing."
"Eugene, I'd rather let myself be hurt than you. You're too good of a friend to lose."
Friend. She used the word 'friend.'
Eugene sighed, then yawned.
"Well, Blondie, it's been a long a night." Rapunzel took her head off of Eugene's arm and let him go.
"Right, long night. The sun'll be rising soon. You can have the bed. I'll take the couch."
"Alright." Eugene rocked on the couch to get up. Rapunzel stood and helped him. She kept her hand on his chest as she led him to the bedroom; he leaned on her a bit for support. When they got in the room, Rapunzel turned to leave. "Uh, Rapunzel, can you help me get my shirt off," Eugene asked lamely. He seemed embarrassed that he couldn't get it off himself. She looked at him like a started animal.
"Uh, okay." Eugene walked her through how to get the stabilizer off. She undid the Velcro and carefully took it off. He sucked in his breath tightly when she accidently ran her hand over his side.
"It's alright," he breathed out.
She put her hands on his cut shirt and pulled it off like it was a vest. Her face got very close to his bandaged chest. She felt his body heat, heard his heart. She noticed all the little white lines across his chest that the tape did not cover. His scent was forced up her nose: Old Spice, leather, coffee, and night air. She pulled back, her head fuzzy.
"Uh, do you want a night shirt on?" Rapunzel felt like it was a stupid question.
"Ah, yeah. There's a button up one in my bottom draw. Rapunzel went and got it. She also grabbed a pair of pj bottoms. Eugene put his arms behind him and Rapunzel slipped the sleeves up his arms. She came to his front and tentatively put her hands up to button the shirt. Eugene didn't say anything, so she continued. She gave him his pants, hoping she wouldn't have to dress that part.
"Thanks, Blondie, I can take it from here." She held back sighing in relief.
"Alright. Good night, Eugene."
"Night. Thanks, Rapunzel."
"You're welcome." Rapunzel closed the door. She sat down on the couch.
She actually wasn't tired. The night's events had worked her into such a frenzy; she was too nervous to sleep.
"Ugh, I have class tomorrow… today. Uh…" She got off the couch and went into the spare room. She flipped on the light and grabbed a pair of her pajamas of the rack in the closet, when she heard Eugene calling for her. She hurried back to his room.
"Eugene, are you alright?" She could not keep the alarm out of her voice. She found him sitting on the bed.
"Rapunzel," he whined, "I can't lie down on the bed." Rapunzel almost laughed at how pathetic he sounded.
"Is that all? Geez, Eugene, you had my heart leaping out of its chest." She crossed to him. "Here, put your legs up on the bed." Eugene did as he was told, very slowly. Rapunzel leaned his pillows against the headboard. She then put her hands on his back. "Relax." He did. Rapunzel put him down softly, pulling out a pillow so his head wouldn't lie so awkward. She pulled the blankets up to his chest. "Comfortable," she asked.
"Very." He took her hand. "Again, thank you." Rapunzel smiled down at him.
"I think I should be the one thanking you." And then, Rapunzel did something she never thought she would ever do. She leaned over Eugene, brushed hair out of his eyes and kissed his brow.
She stood up too quickly. Eugene let go of her hand and Rapunzel hurried out of the room, mumbling a good night and turning out the light. She closed the door, but didn't let go of the handle. Her heart was palpating at an alarming rate. She felt it everywhere in her body: her fingertips, her legs, her ears. Her knees knocked together as she stood. Her face was so hot. She went to the kitchen and got herself a glass of water. She took it to the couch and sat down. She looked out the window and saw that the sun was rising. Now she really couldn't sleep. Rapunzel decided she wasn't going to go to class or to work; she wasn't going to leave Eugene for a second.
Meanwhile, Eugene was staring up at the ceiling, not really being able to move because of his broken rib. His forehead was hot where Rapunzel's lips had been. He closed his eyes, trying to sleep, but all he saw was Rapunzel, crying for him.