Chapter 15: Lexi and Roger
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When I came to, I was lying in a hospital bed; though I was still groggy, I could see I had an IV in my left arm, and an oximeter was pinching my right middle finger. Light filtered through the partially-drawn curtains, and I wondered how long I’d been out. Looking around I could see my mother and Roger sitting in two chairs pushed against the far wall of the room I was in: mom was reading a magazine, while Roger looked like he was fast asleep.

I tried to pull myself up to a sitting position, but the movement set off a splitting headache; I fell back down, and groaned. Mom looked up, saw I was awake, got up from her chair and moved to stand by my bedside.

“Hello, dear, how are you doing?” she asked kindly, sweeping my hair away from my forehead. She reached over me, and pushed the call button.

“Wh—” I tried to say, but I realised my throat was parched. “What happened?” I managed to croak out.

“It’s best if I let the doctor explain,” mom said. A nurse poked her head into the room, and mom told her I’d woken up; the nurse nodded, and said the doctor would be right over.

Roger mumbled in his sleep and started stirring.

Mom saw me looking at him. “He firmly refused to leave you. ‘I’m not going anywhere until she’s awake and I’m sure she’s okay’ were his words.” She smiled. “He’s a sweetheart, isn’t he?”

Roger stirred some more, and groggily opened one eye; when he saw I wasn’t sleeping, his eyes shot wide open, and he almost jumped out of his chair. In an instant he was by my side.

“Lexi, are you okay?” he asked. “How are you feeling?” He grabbed my hand, his eyes filled with worry.

“’m fine,” I mumbled through dried lips. “Bit thirsty though.”

“Hold on, I have some water--” Roger began to say, but was interrupted by a doctor entering the room.

“Please, no food or drink until I’ve given the all-clear,” the doctor said. Roger gave him a withering look, but didn’t say anything.

“Good morning, miss Hamilton”, the doctor greeted me. “I’m doctor Metzger. How are you feeling? Any pain?”

“My head hurts a lot,” I replied. “And I’m a bit groggy.”

Doctor Metzger nodded. “That’s to be expected; I’ll tell the nurse to give you a painkiller when we’re done here.” He made a note on his notepad. “I’m sorry, but I have to ask you a few questions.”

I nodded as best as I could without setting off another headache. “Okay.”

“Good. This is just confirmation, since I already asked your mother, but are you taking any medicine?”

“Just… My hormones. Estradiol and spironolactone,” I replied.

The doctor took another note. “Alright. Anything else?”

“Nothing regularly. Some painkillers for headaches once in a while. Aspirin.”

“Okay, nothing unexpected.” Doctor Metzger paused, and then he asked, “Do you recall what happened last night?”

I strained to remember; it was difficult, it was as if my memories were foggy. “I… Not clearly,” I said. “I was running after Roger--” my mom raised an eyebrow at that “--and then I suddenly felt dizzy. I think I threw up?” I thought back again but… “That’s all, I don’t remember anything else.”

“Yeah, that fits,” the doctor said, nodding.

“What happened?” I asked. “Why am I in the hospital?”

The doctor looked at me, and said, carefully: “Lexi, we think someone put something in your drink last night.”

It took me a few moments to fully understand what he was saying.

“...I was roofied?” I asked in disbelief.

“Probably,” doctor Metzger confirmed. “We’ll know for sure once the blood and urine tests come back from the lab.”

“Wha-- Who…?” I asked. But then I realised. “Charlie,” I said.

Roger’s face darkened, and he nodded grimly.

I closed my eyes, and sighed deeply. “Fuck.”

“It’s my fault,” my mom said. “Your dad and I had several talks with Lena as she was growing up, about what to do and not to do, to be careful, but we didn’t think of sitting you down and doing the same. At first because… You know. We didn’t know you were a girl. And then it just slipped our minds, I guess.” She looked like she was about to cry. “I’m sorry, Lexi.”

I shook my head slightly. “It’s not your fault, mom. I should’ve known better.”

Mom smiled, but her eyes were still sad. “Well then, now you know. Never accept a drink from someone you don’t trust implicitly. I’m just upset you had to learn the lesson the hard way.”

“So what happened next?” I asked. The question wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular, but mom was the one who answered it.

“Roger here was the hero of the hour,” she said, placing a hand on his shoulder. “He ran all the way back to CoffeePB, asked for help, and called for an ambulance. He was by your side all along.”

I grabbed Roger’s hand and squeezed it, and he squeezed back. “Thank you, Rog,” I said, smiling at him.

My mom and the doctor exchanged a look. “I think that’s all for now,” doctor Metzger said. “I’ll let you rest. The nurse will come by shortly to give you that painkiller, you should be fit enough to leave by this afternoon. Oh, and the police will probably want to talk to you once you’ve recovered enough.”

I was taken aback. “The police? Why?”

“Lexi, you were drugged,” mom said. “If Roger hadn’t been there…” She shook her head, as if to chase away a bad thought. “What I mean is, we have to report it.”

“I’m willing to bet this isn’t the first time Charlie has done something like this, it’s just the first time he was caught,” Roger continued. “We can’t let him get away with it.”

“Okay…” I replied, a bit hesitantly. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this. I just wanted to forget the previous night. Well, no, not the previous night entirely, actually, it had been mostly good, except for the very final part. That was a memory I could do without.

“I’ll leave you be for now,” the doctor said again. “Mrs Hamilton, do you mind coming with me? I have some paperwork I need you look over and sign.”

My mom nodded, and after assuring me she would be right back she left the room with doctor Metzger, leaving me alone with Roger; he took one of the chairs that were next to the wall, put it next to the bed and sat down.

He let out a deep, exasperated sigh. “I’m glad you’re okay, Lexi. Really. But, swear to god, one of these days you’re going to kill me with worry.”

We were quiet for a while, until the nurse entered the room and injected something into my IV before leaving again. I slowly felt my headache starting to subside, but I was still really thirsty.

“Rog, can I have some water?” I asked.

He shot me a glance. “Didn’t you hear your mother? You’re not supposed to accept a drink from someone you don’t trust,” he said. But he got up from his chair, picked up a water bottle from a side table, and handed it to me.

“Oh, stop kidding around,” I replied, chuckling. “Of course I trust you.” I started to drink from the bottle.

“Clearly you don’t,” he shot back.

I paused mid-sip, and blinked. What was that?

“I mean, it’s obvious. I told you yesterday not to go with Charlie, but you brushed me off. Clearly you don’t trust me enough to listen to my suggestions,” he continued, sitting back down in his chair. There was an edge to his voice.

I looked at him. “Are you… Rog, are you mad at me?”

“No, I’m not mad at you,” he reflexively said. Then he paused. “No, actually, you know what? I am mad at you. I’m very mad at you, in fact.”

What the hell? “But… Why?” I asked.

“It’s because…” Roger began, then stopped. He stood back up, paced for a few moments, and then gave a quiet, wordless scream. “God, you’re so selfish!”

Excuse me?” I replied, indignantly. “How am I selfish?”

“You really don’t get it, do you? Ever since this… This thing started, you’ve only been thinking about yourself, without a care about how what you do affects those around you!” he said. “You’re making everyone go crazy with worry, you’re making me go crazy with worry, and you don’t even notice it!”

“Well no one asked you to worry about me!” I shot back. “Why do you even care anyway?”

“Fuck, Lexi, I wish I could not care, just forget about this and go about my life, but I can’t! I just can’t!”

“And why is that?”

“Because I love you!”

That response made me pause. I blinked, once, then twice. “What, you mean as a friend, or--”

“Fucking hell!” Roger almost shouted, throwing up his hands. “How can you be so dumb? I’ve been in love with you for years now! Ever since I realised what love is! Since junior high! And you didn’t even notice!”

I felt adrenaline rushing through me. My brain went into overdrive. I thought back; many things Roger had done over the years, many things he’d done recently, suddenly made much more sense. “But you never said anything!” I protested.

“How could I even begin to tell you? You’re my best friend. And you never showed any interest in me beyond that. I was…” His anger was deflating now. “I was afraid of losing what we had. Of losing you.”

He sighed. “You coming out to me was hard. I thought I had everything settled in my mind: I was a gay man, in love with his best friend. You being a girl upended all of that. I mean,” he said, and he smiled a rueful smile, “If you’re a girl, what does that make me? Am I straight? Bi? Gay, plus you? And also… Also, I didn’t know if you being a girl would make me fall out of love with you.”

Roger heavily sat back down in his chair. “But what happened yesterday, how worried and horrified I was at seeing you just lie there unconscious, made me realise.”

He looked up at me. There were tears in his eyes.

“I love you, Lexi. God knows sometimes I wish I didn’t, but I can’t help it. I love you.”

He put his face in his hands, and just sat there, motionless, without speaking.

I looked at him. I looked at Roger.

Roger, my best friend.

Roger, who had been by my side all along.

Roger, who had always supported me.

Roger, without whom I couldn’t imagine my life.

And it clicked.

Oh. That was it.

That was what I’d been feeling, these past months, as I spoke with him. As we hugged, as we touched. As he helped me through everything. That was it.

I was in love with Roger.

I gasped. My vision started getting blurry; my eyes had filled with tears. Without realising it, my hands moved, to cover my mouth.

I gulped.

“Rog. Roger,” I said. “Please. Look at me.”

He looked up, his eyes still wet.

“It’s alright,” I continued. “You know, I…” I took a deep breath. “I think I love you too.”

“...You think?” he asked.

“Yeah, I…” I sighed. “This is all new to me. This,” I repeated, motioning at us, “Is all new to me. I’m honestly not sure what exactly is that I feel, but one think I know, is that I’m willing to try and find out.”

I looked at him in the eyes. “Are you?”

He smiled, and I felt my heart melt. “With you? Always,” he replied.

We kept looking at each other for a few moments, and then I said, “You know, after all I went through, I could really use a hug right now.”

Roger’s smile became wider. “Your wish is my command,” he said. He enveloped me with his arms, as he always did, squeezing just the right amount.

At that moment, as I sat there basking in his warmth, all was right with the world.

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