"Are we there yet?" Twister asked from the makeshift 'seat' in the back of the van for what felt the millionth time.
"No," replied the entire van of people, exhausted.
"How much longer?"
"GPS says another 20 minutes, keep your shorts on," said Sam without looking up from the road.
"But I'm wearing pants, dude."
"It's an expression Twister, just look out the window and let us know when you see something that resembles civilization in all these forests and deserts," Raymundo practically begged. The trip to see his son would be worth the neary 5 hour drive, but 5 hours of Twister was another issue for everyone in the car.
Noalani rubbed the back of Ray's neck to help him stay calm. She knew that Otto's father was as anxious and impatient to see him as his best friend was.
Clio and Regi had been in the third bench seat talking the entire time, non stop, and still somehow hadn't gotten on anyone's nerves quite like Twister could.
After a few minutes of staring out of the front windshield from the farthest back, Twister shouted, "BUILDINGS!" startling the passengers.
"AHHOWWW! Thank you, Twister," said Ray dripping with sarcasm as he took off his hat and rubbed the bump on his head from jumping out of his seat at the sudden yell.
"No problem, Raymundo, just doing what you asked."
"You DID tell him to, brudda!" Tito roared with laughter from the front passenger seat as the rest of the group joined the laughing.
It took some time to find the correct hospital, and request Otto's room, but before long they were outside a door with a medical chart on it that read Otto Rocket and described enough fractured bones that only Sam and Reggie were able to properly explain what the group was about to see. They hadn't been there for the snowboarding accident, but they had seen the footage and could explain that it had been even worse than the break he'd had as a preteen. In response to Raymundo's question, no, he didn't win the competition.
Reggie knocked on the door and Otto told the 'nurse' that he was decent and she could come in.
The room filled with excitement as Otto's friends and family poured in. He almost forgot the entire left leg and pelvis cast he was in until he couldn't sit up.
"Twist, Sis, Sammy! Dad, Noalani, Tito! I'm so glad to see you all!" waving his arms as it was the only thing that was currently mobile, though not without their own bandaging.
"Oh, and I'm just someone along for the ride?" Clio came in last, walked over, and kissed Otto on the forehead.
Otto held her hand and just stared at her. "Sorry, I didn't see you behind Tito, no offense. And no offense Tito!"
"None taken, little cuz. Glad to see you're alive and...alive."
"Yeah, this was the big one. Now seems like a good time to tell you all that I'm done, at least competing. The doctors have been giving me the 'lucky to be alive and maybe able to walk again' story I usually get, but I can tell that this is the last one. Even I'm good enough at math to know it's not worth it anymore. Have to call my agent and sponsors and let them know. Not sure how much of my contract money will be left after this hospital stay, but I'll figure something out. I'm big enough of a name I can move to commentary or something behind the scenes."
"That's a responsible call, Rocket Man," Ray put his hand on his son's shoulder, both realizing it was the first time he'd upgraded from Rocket Boy. "I'm glad you're mature enough to know when it's time to hang it up."
"I don't know about hang it up, but its time to stop going quite so big. I'd like to still be skating when I'm 50 like Tony Hawk, and I won't get there at this rate."
"You can probably get a job with Twister. I'm sure his network would love to have a few interviews with you and get a new X Sports commentator."
"One step at a time, guys. You know sponsors and lawyers," Sam pointed out.
"So speaking of good times to tell things, do you want to tell them or should I?" Clio asked her boyfriend of the past 4 years.
Otto just raised his hand, and Clio raised hers to show matching metal bands on their fingers.
"Whoa! When were you planning to tell us you two got engaged?" Ray grabbed the couple's hands.
"Well, we WERE going to tell everyone at the party, after Otto's big win, and he was still planning to retire while he was ahead. But not everything goes to plan with any of us, does it?" Clio giggled.
"So how long are you expecting to stay in this hospital, Otto? Any chance you'll be back in Ocean Shores before the rest of us go back in three weeks?" Sammy asked.
"Check my chart to be sure, but I think I'm seven weeks through the eight week cast. Then I have to do rehab before they can release me. That could be another two weeks at least, so I don't think so. But I'll have the time to come visit you on a weekend while I'm figuring out the next steps."
"You just focus on healing, there will always be more time to spend together," Noalani assured him as she came to the bedside.
"Yeah, and we can all be in touch. We brought your laptop from home so you can have something to do and you can call us." Reggie pulled out the device from the bag of Otto's things from the house she'd brought, and hooked it up for him on his bedside table.
Everyone spent the remaining visitor hours talking about how their year had been. Tito told Otto about him and Sam's mom, Ray told about Twister's dad finally coming over to a party, Twister told about getting his foot stuck in a toaster oven.
When hours were over, everyone went back to the hotel rooms they'd gotten for the night before a long trip back in the morning. They spent much of the evening in the lounge talking with Otto more over a video chat before Ray and Noalani were the first to retire, at Noalani's sly coercion, and Ray's enthusiastic resignation. Tito followed shortly after as he wasn't as wide eyed and youthful as he once was. The friends wanted to stay up later, but Sam convinced them they would have more time to talk on the five hour drive back home in the morning and they would all regret not getting enough sleep before the trip.
As they approached their rooms, they opened their doors and Raymundo stepped out giving Sam the stink eye. The younger man sighed, shrugged and traded rooms with Clio, much to the laughter of his girlfriend and her best friend.