Chapter 1: First Things First: Escaping the Hospital

David had been in the hospital since December 17th, 1980. He came out of his coma on, interestingly enough, April 1st, 1981. He was released from the hospital on Thursday, the 7th of April, in spite of his physician wanting him to stay longer, but could not show cause, due to how healthy David was doing, although his mother promised to bring him back in if anything happened.

David's birthday was "Tax Day", April 15th. Just over a week away, when he went home. Meri, his closest friend for many years at this time in their lives, (his wife in the other life before she died), had visited him frequently, once he'd come out of his comatose state. They'd talked about school, what he'd missed, and the attack by the thugs who put him in the hospital. There was something odd about the way she acted, however. It was like she was hiding something; as if she had secret she couldn't share. He never asked about it, while in the hospital. Now that he was home, he planned on finding out what it was she was hiding.

David and his mother came home for lunch, which they picked up at a Wendy's. He'd missed a decent hamburger and convinced his mother to take him to get a Double with cheese, and the works, including onions. Previously, David would eat them, if he had to, but never did so by choice; his mother was a bit surprised by this change, but didn't press the issue. He'd also gotten a large fry and a Frosty. As soon as they got home, he tore into his food with relish.

While he was eating, his mother went to answer the door; a moment later she came back with Meri, who ran up to him and gave him a huge hug and a seering kiss that just blew his mind. Sure, he knew how to kiss. He'd been married to Mari, in the other life, but in this life ... they'd never even held hands. They joked around; they'd played games together; they'd even gone to the zoo and had fun in the reptilian section where they practiced at being budding herpetologists. This kiss, on other hand, was something new and unexpected.

The kiss lasted for an eternity; but was really only a few seconds and left David breathless and his mother with her eyes raised in question.

"Wow, Meri. Miss me much?"

"Well, you did save me from those assholes. I had to thank you in an appropriate manner."

"Kids, I'd rather you keep that thank you to kisses. That one looked to be shaping up to become more."

"Mom," David exclaimed, because we all know how embarrassing parents can be.

"Anyway, I'm going to let you two get re-acquainted. Keep in mind that we need to go shopping soon. I don't believe your cloths will fit you now."

"That's fine. When did you want to go? Oh, and can Meri join us," he asked looking at Meri to see if she wanted to join them.

"Sure, if her parents are fine with that. I though we'd go Saturday. Unless you'd rather go tomorrow after school."

Looking at Meri whose look and tilt of her head told him what he needed to know, and with that David said, "Tomorrow works for us."

"Great, now that, that is settled, I'll leave you both to get caught up. Remember, no hanky panky!" The smile and glint in her eyes flashing merrily.

Growling, David responded, "Mom, do you really need to embarrass me like that?"

"Yes, I do. I can see the way she's been looking at you. Keep it in your pants, both of you," Sandy told them, laughingly, as she headed out of the house.

Once David was sure his mother was gone, he turned to Meri and said, "You've been hiding something from me. I could tell when I was still in the hospital, every time you came to visit me, and we talked, I could sense you were holding something back from me. What is it?"

Meri looked at him for a moment, then making up her mind, looked him in the eyes and asked him a simple question, "What comes to mind when I say, 'Nekita'?"

You could have pushed David over with a feather. The surprise on his face was plain to see, but he tried to be casual in his response, "Should it mean anything to me? Isn't it a movie?"

"Yes, David. Nikita," she pronounced it as the proper name, "will be a movie in 1990, but I asked about 'Nekita', our lovely Djinni."

"You remember?" Again, the shock was written on his face in bold letters. He didn't have any reason to believe Meri would have come back, too. Nothing hinted at it, until now, and this was more than a hint.

"Everything up to the impact of the crash, for which I am thankful. It was instant; no pain or suffering, David."

His curiosity taking hold, David started asking questions in quick succession, not considering that she couldn't answer them if he wouldn't stop to let her. She waited for him to run down, crossing her arms and shaking her head. Finally he noticed and smiled his half smile she'd always found appealing.

"Okay. Okay, I get it," he said, with a self depreciating laugh. "I couldn't help myself. I have so many questions. We missed you, when you were taken from us."

"I've missed you, too. The assault on me by those boys, and your ending up in the hospital, did not happen in our first life, as I'm sure you know. So, we know things have already changed in the world immediately around us. I just hope that there are no huge ramifications.

"Anyway, I returned just before they attacked me. I was lost at first. A moment before, I had been in my car and the accident; then I was there. It was confusing. We'd graduated decades in our past, at the time of my death, when I suddenly found myself leaving school at the end of the day. I was in a bit of a daze and wandering aimlessly, when I ended up where I shouldn't have been. I was lucky that you came along, though I'm fairly sure luck had nothing to do with it now. Well, it wasn't this you, it was your old you. Everything went from there. So, I've only been back a few months longer than you. Does that answer your questions?"

"Yeah. Wow. This is so unreal."

"So, what do we do now?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, we're back in the Summer between our Freshman and Sophomore years. We have all kinds of knowledge of what's coming. We have a far better grasp of all of what we can expect in school; we have a full lifetime of experiences and skills. So, what do we do? Do we just coast, or... , " she trailed off.

David put some serious thought into what she'd asked. It was a question he'd been mulling over, since he woke up in the hospital, as well.

For her part, Meri didn't interrupt him as he considered her question. She knew that he was actively considering the situation and possibilities. It was one of those things that he was really good at: thinking about things from multiple angles. He would often come up with some ideas that most wouldn't consider, things that were just "out there" to most people's normal thinking.

"So far, I don't see any major changes. The attack didn't happen the first time through, but I seem to recall the three of them ending up in trouble with the law down the road. This just starts their journey sooner.

"Right now, I'm thinking of improving our own lives, starting by convincing our parents to send us to Notre Dame High School. They have a JNROTC program there, which is something I want to take part in. They have a great success rate, and plenty of honors programs."

"They also have uniforms, which probably appeals to you. But, what about the required religious education courses?"

"I've considered that, and have no problem taking them. Hell, I'll ace them. I intend to take their leadership course, as well. Set everything in motion to get me where I want to be when I put on my 'Butter Bars' after we graduate from College. That's something I want to do this time, right away. I intend to be an officer, and with the improvements to my body that Nekita gave me, I plan on going EOD, this time around."

"Why EOD? I know you're going to join the military. It's part of you. Trying to get you to not join would be a losing proposition, I know that, but you always told me EOD stood for Every Opportunity is Death!"

"As an officer in the Navy's EOD groups, I'd be placed in such a way as to be able to start working on ways to detect and disable, or destroy, IEDs before they start being a real problem. Too many will be harmed otherwise. If I can prevent even a few of those attacks, it will be worth it."

"I can't say I like it, and you know that. Still, I'll support you all the way, though, and you know it," she sighed. "Do you know what you want to study in college? What you'll need to give you the best chances of getting into EOD?"

"Engineering, both chemical and material. I plan on doing a double major track. I'd like to learn Pashto, Arabic, and Punjabi. I intend to get credits for basic courses before we get to college. Where possible, through AP courses, otherwise by testing out of the 'easy' courses and using the extra time to do courses at a local college for high school and college credits. I figure on knocking out the English and History requirements for college. Same with Calculus, physics and chemistry. That will free me up for other courses I want to take."

"Okay, you've really been giving this some thought. Last time, I didn't really get any use out of my degree. I have my background in accounting, and could do that again... -".

Before she could finish that line, David interrupted her, "Or, you can take Astronomy. It is one of your loves. That and bugs and reptiles."

"Hmmm, you've got me there. It would be nice to study Astronomy."

"You'll be able to take anything you want, and do well. Hell, Meri, you'll have to try to do poorly. You're ... we're going to be wrecking the grading curves in all our classes, if we go to a normal high school from here on out. Another reason to push to go to NDHS."

"For languages, we might need to do some research on Pimsleur. See if we can't get their language programs on cassette. We both know German, and Spanish. You know Japanese and Russian."

"Sounds like a plan. So, we need to get in touch with some bookstores and see if they can't help us, or give us contact information for Simon and Schuster."

"We should also spend time at the library, preparing to test out of various classes. I don't want to skip grades. I would just rather not have to take classes that aren't going to do either of us any good, since we already know the material. The biggest problem, that I can see, is knowing too much of the real history, versus what they teach in high school."

They talked for the next couple of hours about school, testing out of those courses they could, and what they should pursue in college. Meri went home for dinner. She'd back the next day, after school let out, and they would go shopping for his clothes. They shared a sweet kiss good-bye, before she headed home.

The next day, after school let out, Meri came over and they went shopping (this was covered in the last part of the story). Upon arriving home, David made dinner for the three of them. After dinner, Meri helped him sort through the clothes and start washing them before putting them away. She was staying the night, in the guest room (of course). Neither of their parents had any intention of attempting to actually keep them apart.

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