Mt. Plains High School, home of the Foresters, later that week...
Nina: You know, Kana, I'm not sure that was the best advice to give Freddie at lunch the other day...
Kana: *confused* What? What do you mean? He's a nice guy, I just don't think he should let his girlfriend use him as a punching bag, Sempai.
Nina: Oh, I agree with you. It's just that Cassie accused me of being a friend-stealer, and Tsukino did the same, and now if Freddie takes your advice and dumps his girlfriend...
Kana: It's gonna be because he's decided he had enough. Remember, I told him to use his nuts. I don't think he's gonna find them and use them soon, but when he does, it'll be late enough that ti won't be connected to my advice and you won't be implicated. Don't worry so much, Sempai.
Nina: How can you be so sure?
Kana: *shrugs* I was a cheer girl. Gossip and social life is like 80% of what we live for. I may have quit the team, but that doesn't mean I've lost my mind!
Nina: Hahaha, I would never accuse you of that!
They started moving down the hall together, Kana weighed down slightly by Nina's bag, Nina still hobbled by crutches. They had planned to visit Ayumi in the hospital together. Kana's mom would be waiting in front of the school for them.
Nina: Did Ayumi tell you when she's getting out?
Kana: *sadly* No, she said they're taking it day by day. My mom said her parents expected it to be soon, though. She said they couldn't believe you got out so quickly.
Nina: Yeah, well, there wasn't much of a reason for them to keep me there, but Ayumi's had all kinds of problems.
Despite having her senses dazed in the impact, Nina had miraculously not suffered another concussion, and she refused to be hospitalized for a broken ankle and broken ribs-
Nina: I know how to take care of those!
Ayumi, however, had been in and out of surgery for her knees, had her movement restricted by her broken bones (ribs, legs) and torn tendons and ligaments, and had a few slight complications with her concussion that necessitated her long stay at Mt. Plains General Hospital.
They walked out of the high school and made their way to the front parking lot where they could see Kana's mom's BMW X3 sitting in the warm, humid air. Despite the sunny, pleasant start to the week, the weather had turned into what Nina's dad always called many shades of awful, and often brought about unfair comparisons to the “perfect” seasonal weather of his hometown, however idealized his memories may be.
Kana helped Nina situate herself in the back seat of the small SUV and climbed into the front seat to properly greet her mother. Kana got much of her good looks and bubble personality from her mom. She was a stylish, slim woman a bit younger than Nina's parents who dressed up to match her German car. Nina felt Kana's parents made her own look even more horrifyingly uncool than she felt anyways, but growing up with Kari and her parents, she knew she wasn't alone.
Kana's Mom: Nina-chan, I can't believe they let you out like that!
Kana's mom watched the two girls struggle to get Nina comfortable in the mirror. Nina forced a bright smile to mask her aches.
Nina: Uh, I'm okay, Mrs. Inaba. It's been almost three weeks, I'm doing like, way better.
Kana's Mom: That's good to hear. I hope Kana hasn't been a bother to you and your friends.
Nina: Oh no, Mrs. Inaba, Kana's been a really great friend, me and Ayumi are like, really lucky!
Kana's Mom: *timidly pulling out into traffic* That's good. Anyways, I was talking to Tomomi today, there might be some good news waiting for you when we get to the hospital.
Kana: Oo! Good news! Finally they're letting her out!
Kana's Mom: Well, I don't know about that, but I'll let you two talk to her to find out...
Nina: Yay! She is getting out!
Kana's Mom: Hahaha, all I know is that she is through the worst of it.
Kana's Mom was unable to temper their enthusiasm. The rest of the 15 minute drive was spent in wild speculation between the two young friends as to what the good news could be, if it wasn't Ayumi's release. It was the happiest drive they'd had to that point, the prior three beinga bit more subdued.
Kana had made it a regular part of her routine to visit Ayumi, and Nina enjoyed their company and made it a point to visit when she had the time. Usually, Kana walked with Nina to Ayumi's room with her mom close behind. This time, she ran off ahead without them, forgetting Nina's injuries in her hasty excitement.
Kana: So you're getting out soon?!
Kana burst into Ayumi's room, unable to contain herself.
Ayumi: What? How did you find out?
Ayumi looked up from her book in surprise, unprepared for her friend's appearance.
Kana: Your mom told my mom you got some good news today.
Kana bounced over to stand beside the bed.
Nina: Cheer girls know everything so fast.
Nina was amazed as she hobbled slowly into the room. Ayumi waved happily from her bed.
Ayumi: Oh, hi, Nina! It's so strange, people who are supposed to be my best friends don't even find time to visit once, if at all, but a girl I barely knew before visits me four times!
Nina: Well, you'll have to trust that I know how you feel about the whole stuck-in-the-hospital thing. We're friends though. I'd've visited you more, but-
Ayumi: Nina, hahahaha, you're beat up like me, it would honestly be understandable if you didn't come.
Nina: I'm well enough to be there for my friends.
Nina smiled proudly, earning appreciation from Kana and Ayumi.
Ayumi: Hehe, I guess this means it's official, we're out of the in-crowd.
Kana: I'm not even sitting with the cheer team anymore at lunch. They're all nice to me, though, but it's just more comfortable with Nina and Kellen and Freddie.
Nina: I... guess I could take that as a a compliment.
Kana: Hahaha, aw, you should definitely take it good, Sempai.
Ayumi: *wry smile* Yes, you have been quoted talking about the in-crowd and all their stupid crap before.
Nina: Hehe, I guess so.
Ayumi: Besides, especially after what happened, how can most of the in-crowd's nonsense be anything but stupid crap?
Kana: So, when are you getting out?
Kana impatiently returned them to the original topic.
Ayumi: Hahaha, wow, Kana. It looks like Saturday I'll be discharged, assuming, of course, there are no further complications.
Kana: Yay! Two more nights! Do you have anything you wanna do? We should celebrate!
Ayumi: Well, the thing I need to do is take it easy. I imagine Nina is under similar orders, despite appearing as though she is not following them.
Nina: *indignantly* What? Whatever, I follow Dr. Cowherd's advice to a “T”.
Dr. Cowherd: Which doesn't explain why you're hobbling around on crutches when you should be stationary on a chair or bed.
Dr. Cowherd's familiar voice made Nina flinch a bit. She deftly covered the pain it induced and turned to smile at him.
Nina: *with forced happiness* Hi, Dr. Cowherd! I had no idea you were taking care of my friend!
Dr. Cowherd: That's the way we like it, doctor-patient priviledge and all, right?
He smiled at the girls, checked the machines next to Ayumi's bed as they gazed at him intently. He tactfully ignored them, pausing at the door to simply say:
Dr. Cowherd: Ladies.
They didn't see his amused smile or him shaking his head at their eruption of giggles as he left.
Kana: *enviously* You two are so lucky, having that guy as your doctor! I get checked out by Nurse Piper, and you guys get rich, handsome Dr. Perfecthair.
Ayumi: *still watching the doorway* I'd trade horrible physical trauma for Nurse Piper any day.
Kana: Hehe, well, if you put it that way...
Ayumi: Absolutely. So Nina, please tell me you'll be kind enough to help me get caught up in my classes next week.
Ayumi's tone presupposed Nina's acceptance of her request.
Nina: Oh, totally. With Erisa and Kyosuke going out now my social calendar is like, totally clear.
Whatever feelings of jealousy she may have been feeling before were completely erased by the attack.
Kana: Well, we should all hang out on Saturday. We thought of something fun to do last time we were all hanging out. I'm sure we can think of something interesting again.
Ayumi: It might be best if you came to my house. I'm not sure how mobile I'll be before that.
Ayumi was released from the hospital and returned to school with little fanfare. Her old friends in the in-crowd were not unfriendly, but she was not embraced by them the way Kana and Nina had welcomed her back with pizza and laughter.