Hey all! Just to let you know, next chapter we will be seeing Michael meet up with the ANCIENT ONE! WOO! CHARACTERS WHO ACTUALLY ARE IN DOCTOR STRANGE! Anyway, thanks for trudging through all of this backstory, next update will be more exciting!
Michael sat in a white, sterile room. There was a wall of windows to his right. There was a door to his left. Behind him was a small bookcase with two green, potted, ferns sitting on top. In front of him was a man he'd never met.
The man was shorter than Michael, but they were both sitting, so their heights appeared the same. Michael wished he could tower over the man at his full height. He did not want this man to feel that they were on equal ground. He did not want this man to feel anything about him.
A woman entered the room and sat to the right of him. She was closer to the door.
The woman was short, very short, with dark skin, honey-brown eyes, and a nest of black hair bundled up underneath a scarf on her head. It was blue. Michael liked blue.
The doctor and his mother were speaking now. He knew that. He knew he should be listening. But there were so many better things to pay attention to, like the bird he could see through the windows on his right. The bird was blue.
It was the man opposite him.
"Michael, it's very important that you understand what I am telling you."
No, it wasn't. There was a weight in Michael's stomach. No, it wasn't.
"Michael, baby, listen to Doctor Roberts, please."
That was his mother. He had to listen to his mother. So, he turned his attention to the doctor.
"Michael, it pains me to tell you this."
"No, it doesn't."
The doctor looked bewildered. "What?"
"It doesn't pain you that I'm in pain. It doesn't pain you that I'm sitting in this room and receiving the worst news of my life."
"I assure you it does, Michael. I-"
"You get paid either way, don't you? Whether I live the life I've been dreaming of since I was a kid or not."
Michael looked over at his mother. Not looked down at, over at. It struck Michael that he would never be able to look down at his mother ever again.
"Michael, the doctor is just trying to help you, be respectful!'
Michael almost yelled at his mother but bit his tongue. Yelling at his own mother was a not a thing he did, never, ever.
He looked back at Doctor Roberts, his brown eyes boring into the doctor's blue ones.
"Sorry, Doctor, continue."
"It's alright Michael, it's understandable that you would be upset in your condition. As I was saying, I have some bad news.
"Michael, when you were mugged in the alley, the attacker used a Chef's knife. This specific kind of knife is used as a general multi-purpose tool around kitchens, used for cutting vegetables and meat."
"Yeah, I know what a knife is, Doctor."
"Michael, hush! Go on, Doctor."
"The type of knife if important, Michael, because Chef's knives are very strong and large. This is what you were stabbed with.
"The mugger stabbed you in the lower back, near your pelvis, in the Thoracic section of the spine. When he stabbed you, though, he didn't just hit muscle, he also hit bone, and the nerves and tendons connecting the T-11 and T-12 vertebrae.
"When these nerves were severed, it resulted in the loss of connection between the brain and anything below those vertebrates. This..."
The doctor actually dared to act upset, rubbing a hand over his face and sighing. Michael grimaced, narrowing his eyes and clenching his fists.
"This means," the doctor continued, once again staring down Michael, "That what we originally thought was some form of shock, muscle cramping, or simply your body reacting to severe blood loss, is actually paraplegia. Michael, there is a very low chance that you will ever be able to fully control your legs again."
Michael's eyes snapped open.
He was lying in bed, like usual, staring up at his ceiling. His ceiling was blue. Michael liked blue.
The door to the apartment slammed shut. Michael's mother was leaving for work, which meant it was either six in the morning or three in the afternoon, depending on her shift.
Reaching out blindly, Michael snatched his phone up from his nightstand. He stared at the reflection given off by the dark screen. A tangled shrub of black hair had replaced his formerly neat buzzcut. I should probably get a haircut soon before Mia starts bitching at me about it. But, that means taking the elevator, getting on the bus, going four blocks down... I'll just leave it.
Michael tapped his phone's screen with his thumb and it lit up, showing a picture of Kayla and himself goofing off. The numbers covering part of Kayla's face read: 6:00 am.
That means Mia will be up soon. She can make breakfast for Frankie and Carlie. I don't have to get up. Michael snorted a laugh. Ha, get up. If only.
His gaze meandered around his small bedroom, taking in the piles of dirty laundry and chip bags tossed carelessly on the floor. A particularly large, yet, still empty bag, lay next to the door. Next to the door was a wheelchair.
Michael could drag himself out of bed and pull himself into the chair if he really wanted. That was one of the things he had been taught in physical therapy. But, he didn't want to, and, having made that decision, curled his blankets around himself and went back to sleep.
'This hit, that ice cold
Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold
This one for them hood girls
Them good girls straight masterpieces
Stylin', wilin', livin' it up in the city
Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent
Gotta kiss myself, I'm so pretty'
Michael groggily slapped the bed around him until he felt cool glass on his palm. Gripping the phone in his hand, he tapped the green button on the screen and held it to his ear.
"MICHAEL OH MY GOD YOU WON'T BELIEVE IT AAAAAAAAAH!"
Pulling the phone away from his ear, Michael winced. Somehow he always seemed to forget that most phone calls from Kayla began with her screaming. He listened to the girl's incoherent rambling until he heard her pause for a breath, taking the brief opportunity to jump in.
"Kayla, slow down. What happened?"
"Carl! Carl proposed!"
"Last night! It was so romantic! He took me to this fancy restaurant with violins, and then we walked around in the park where we first met, and then, and THEN, underneath the stars and the moon and God and everybody, he pulled out that big-ass ring and PROPOSED!"
"That's great Kayla. I know you've been waiting for him to pop the question."
"Hell yeah, I have! I think he might have known too. Do think that's why he did it? I thought my clues were so subtle."
"Oh, they were super subtle Kayla. He could have never guessed."
Michael knew for a fact that Kayla was not subtle, nor had ever been subtle. Carl had called him earlier that week, nervous and basically breaking out in hives, asking how he should propose. Michael had told him that all Carl had to do was break out the ring somewhere a little classier than a McDonald's. Apparently, he'd gone a little higher than McDonald's.
"Michael, this is the best thing that's ever happened to me, literally! I've already decided that we're going to get married in New York. I heard of a cheap venue by the hotel that Andrea, Dante, and Linda stayed at for the Gymnastics Convention last year on Wedding's Most Wanted."
Michael clenched the phone tighter in his hand at the mention of the Gymnastics Convention, sucking in a breath as Kayla went on about the venue. There was no reason for him to be angry, really. He was the one who had told them to pick another candidate. It was the right thing to do. Linda was an enthusiastic, young, gymnast. She was a better face for the gym than some wannabe who couldn't even do a cartwheel anymore.
"Michael! Are you listening!"
"What? Yeah, sorry, go on."
"Anyway, I was just about to tell you the best part. It took some convincing with Carl, but we eventually worked something out. His sister will be my Maid of Honor, and you, Michael, will be..."
Michael smiled slightly. He knew what was coming, but he let Kayla have her dramatic pause.
"THE BEST MAN!"
"Thanks, Kayla, I'm honored, really, but how did you work all of this out in just one night?"
"Oh, I've basically had my entire wedding planned out since I was eight, and I decided that you would be my best man the day I met Carl. Then we spent all of last night talking about where the wedding would be, when it would be, who would be there, stuff like that!"
Michael pitied Carl.
"We're thinking sometime in May since that will give us a few months. Oh, and about the plane tickets Michael..."
"Kayla, don't you dare pay for me."
"It's really no big thing. Carl's paying for my parents already and-"
"No, don't worry about it. I'm sure that I'll have a job by March, and if I don't, just shoot me."
"Joking, joking, but seriously, I'll be fine."
"Okay. Oh my god, I have to be to work in fifteen minutes and I haven't even started getting ready. Ah, I can't wait to tell Andrea the news! Do you think she'll be a bridesmaid?"
"Kayla, imagine trying to put Andrea in a dress."
"Fair point. WAIT! Before I hang up, can I get Mia's number, I need her help buying the right dress. I know she's going to school for fashion and stuff."
"I'll text it to you later."
"Okay, thanks! Ah, I can't wait until March! Bye Michael!"
After hearing the line go dead, Michael dropped the phone back on his bed and let his hands flop back down to his sides.
How am I gonna get a job? I can't do anything that I used to. I can barely get out of the building anymore, let alone across town.
Maybe I should do something online. I can't write, I can't draw, I can't vlog, thank god. A telemarketer? No, I definitely don't have enough patience for that.
Letting out a groan Michael curled back up under his blankets, content to sleep off his worries. Then his door slammed open.
"MICHAEL, GET YOUR ASS OUT OF BED RIGHT NOW AND HELP ME!"
Ah, Mia, the gentlest of his sisters.
Suddenly, he was on the floor, with Mia standing over him, hands placed firmly on her hips and many thin, long, brown braids framing her oval face.
"Michael, it is eleven-thirty. Carlie and Frankie are hungry. The waffle maker is broken and we are out of bread. HELP ME."
"They don't like eggs."
"I just said that we're out of bread."
"A jar of peanut butter and a spoon."
"God, I hope you never have kids."
Michael pulled his top half up, holding onto the edge of the bed. Pointing to his wheelchair, which had been toppled during Mia's entrance, he sighed. "Give me that, and I'll help."
After Michael had situated himself in the chair, he followed Mia down the hall and into their small kitchen.
Carlie and Frankie were sitting at the table, each in matching floral jumpsuits and double buns. They weren't twins, with Frankie being eleven months older than Carlie and Carlie being an accident, but they sure liked dressing like they were.
Noticing Michael, Carlie lit up while Frankie scowled.
"Mickey!" Carlie bellowed, voice too loud for her small frame, "Are you going to make us pancakes?"
Mia groaned, massaging her forehead with the heel of her hand. "You two had pancakes for breakfast. I thought you wanted something else now."
"Yes," Carlie stated firmly, "But Mickey makes better pancakes than you."
"Yeah," Frankie said, sticking out her tongue at Mia.
Mia glanced down at Michael, "Did I mention that I'm never having kids?"
Michael rolled over to the cabinets next to the fridge. "Sorry guys, but if mom knew you had pancakes twice in one day, she'd kill me. You guys are gonna have soup."
Frankie slouched in her seat, glaring at the table. Carlie looked as if her world has shattered.
Seeing this, Michael added, "It's chicken noodle, and the noodles are shaped like unicorns."
"YAY!" Carlie screamed, louder than the last time. Mia covered her ears.
Frankie, who had turned her glare to Michael, said, "I don't like chicken noodle."
"Since I became a vegetableian.,,"
"Well, I can make you some tomato soup instead."
With a brisk nod to Frankie and twenty minutes of Mia grabbing things off of shelves for Michael, the soup was done, with a bowl in front of each Miller child.
"Girls," Mia said, "What do we say to Michael for making us lunch?"
"THANK YOU MICKEY!"
Michael waved away their thanks. "I didn't really do anything. Mia was the one who-"
"Shut up, Michael, I put things in a pot that you told me to. Take your goddamned credit."
Michael gave Mia a nervous smile. "Thanks. Oh, and Carl finally asked. Kayla wants to know if you can help with her dress."
Mia snorted, "About time, that man has the courage of pudding. Tell Kayla that I already have a folder full of ideas for her."
"I will." With a sigh, Michael's eyes fell to his soup. "The thing is, they want to have the wedding in New York, but the tickets to get out there..."
"You need money."
"No, I need a job."
"What about the gym? I'm sure Andrea needs another cleaning guy-"
Michael slammed his fist down on the table, causing the soup spoons to rattle in their bowls. "No! For the last time, I'm not going back to that gym!"
The girls stared at Michael with wide eyes.
"Sorry, sorry, I just can't get to the gym in the chair, that's all."
"Michael, they have spots on the bus for-"
"Drop it, Mia."
Michael and Mia stared each other down for what felt like an eternity. Frankie and Carlie's eyes darted from older brother to older sister in quick succession, until finally, Mia relented.
"Well, I heard that Ms. Davis wants to teach her boys how to play the piano. She bought a keyboard, but the teacher dropped out at the last minute. I know that mom made all of us take those lessons in middle school, so maybe you could teach them the basics."
Michael had completely forgotten those lessons. All he had was the muscle memory from being forced to play 'Up On the Housetop' over and over. But, Ms. Davis didn't need to know that, and with some reading on the internet...
"But you probably have to get up before eleven."
"Ah, shit," Michael grumbled.
"SHIT," Carlie yelped.
"Yeah, shit," Frankie said in a monotone.