It would have been more befitting of Nikki to army crawl her way to class. If there were two things Nikki hated more than anything in the world, it was waiting...and not being able to walk, of course.
But, Nikki definitely hated waiting.
However, she had fallen asleep before Nerris left for class, meaning she had woken up to find her wheelchair folded up and no way to access it. A quick text to the group chat revealed that the only friend available to help was Harrison, though he was already running late to get to his own class.
Nikki was beyond ready to throw herself onto the floor and crawl when the door creaked open, a winded Harrison entering the room.
"S-sorry, I'm late…" He panted, looking like he'd topple over at any second. Judging by his uniform, Harrison had just come from work.
"It's fine, I got it." Nikki chirped, pulling herself closer to the edge of her bed. Apparently Harrison was already two steps ahead of her, walking over to the bed and sitting on the edge, preventing her from rolling off.
"Nice try, Nicotine, but you aren't Army crawling to class...again." The man mumbled, pulling the folded up wheelchair toward him.
While the chair wasn't difficult to open most days, today was proving to be a challenge in more ways than one. With his recent lack of smoking and continued lack of magic, Harrison's hands were next to useless as they now shook twice as much as normal. In five minutes, he had already dropped the chair four times.
Nikki groaned, "See! Even the universe wants me to-"
The girl was cut off as those shaking hands found her arms, pulling her against Harrison's back, "I don't have time for this. Just hang on, okay?"
With Nikki's arms securely around his neck, Harrison reached around to brace her legs. His hands might not be working today, but he could still give her a ride to class.
"A piggyback ride!? This is awesome!" Nikki's arms tightened in what the Illusionist assumed was a hug.
Harrison laughed, "For you, maybe...Could you grab the door for me?"
"Of course!" Nikki could hardly contain her excitement as she reached for the handle. Finally! A day free from her chair...kind of…
With Harrison's support, Nikki slipped her backpack onto her shoulders, a sensation she didn't realize she missed until this moment, "Here, let me put your laptop in my bag."
"Can you carry all of that?" The man asked, pausing to let Nikki put the device away.
"Well, duh. It's my legs that don't work, not my arms." Nikki teased, throwing her arms around Harrison once more to prove her point.
"I'll let Ered know I carried you today, okay?...Nikki?" Harrison glanced beside him when he felt the woman rest her head on his shoulder, "You doing okay?"
"I'm just thinking...Your arms don't work...and my legs don't work…-" Nikki began, her voice small.
"Uh...Yeah, I suppose they don't…" Harrison mumbled back, tightening his hold on Nikki.
"Hey! Maybe, I can be your arms! And you can be my legs! You give me piggyback rides and I'll punch people for you!" Nikki shrieked, aiming a light swing for Harrison's shoulder.
"If only we had the same schedule." Harrison felt his mood shift to match Nikki's playfulness; She wasn't entirely wrong in her statement, after all. It's what she said next that really caught him off guard.
"Wait! I have a better idea! Why don't you use your magic to help me walk! Then your arms will get better too!"
These sorts of comments were to be expected of Nikki at this point, whose excitement of Harrison's powers never faded from their camp days. She was always looking for excuses for him to use a spell, such as asking for a pencil or for him to light her cigarette. While this statement wasn't entirely wrong either, it still felt odd to Harrison. He would have replied, but by then they had made it to the lecture hall. The only thing left to do now was settle Nikki into her seat, then run like hell to his next class.
Nikki would never not be excited to see Ered; Ot was seeing Ered with her wheelchair that bugged her.
"Ugh! Why!?" Nikki covered her face, as if the chair would disappear if she did.
"Look, Harrison might carry you, but I'm not going to." Ered explained, effortlessly lifting the girl from her seat.
"That's okay, cause Harrison is gonna fix me with magic!" Nikki stated, a bright smile spreading across her face.
Ered paused, "Uh...Nikki...Dude, Harrison hasn't done magic in, like, a seriously long time. I don't think-"
"Well, he has to! He has to so I can get out of this stupi-" Nikki's hands shot up to her face, tears falling faster than she could stop them. If Ered learned anything in the last few months, it was best to just let Nikki cry.
The rest of the trip back to Nikki's dorm was done in silence.
The silence would have continued had she not looked up from her hands upon arrival to her room. Harrison paced in circles, mumbling to Nerris.
"I think it's worth a shot…" Nerris whispered before turning her attention to her roommate, "Oh! Hey, Nikki."
"Hey…" Nikki cast her eyes toward the floor. As much as she wanted to NOT look at her friends right now, Nerris and Harrison kneeled in front of her, the Illusionist reaching out to take Nikki's hands in his own.
"...We'll try your idea...Okay? A-and if it doesn't work...we can still say we tried…" Harrison glanced up to meet Nikki's eyes, the evidence of tears present in both sets.
"You mean it!?" Hope dripped into the teal-haired girl's voice as she squeezed her friend's hands.
"W-we both want to heal...And this could be the way to do it; Just give me a little time to work on things and we can try." Harrison promised, standing finally.
"How much time?" Nikki tugged on his hand.
"Uh...A week? That should be enough time…"
But a week wasn't enough time; Hell, even two weeks wasn't enough time!
By the third week of no mention of the plan from Harrison, Nikki was close to forgetting the idea ever occurred to her. This was her life now and she might as well get used to it-
"Harrison's coming over." Nerris announced as she entered the dorm room. Not that this was an uncommon occurrence, but Nikki still found herself perking up a bit; Why would Nerris be telling her this if it wasn't important?
"Did he say anything about-"
"He'll tell you when he gets here." Nerris replied, climbing into her bed. The next five minutes past silently as Nikki found herself going over every possible way this could go down. What if it was impossible? What if it worked? What if-
"I think I've got something that might work...It's kind of like levitation…" Harrison explained, pacing the space between Nikki and Nerris' beds.
"What are we waiting for then!? Let's try it out!" Nikki squeaked, looking as if her sheer excitement would hold her up.
"Nikki, look, I can't promise any-" Harrison tried to reason, though it was obvious by now that the woman had tuned him out.
Taking his stance, the illusionist focused on his friend, hoping the time he spent working in his spells would be enough to have any sort of effect. For several seconds, there didn't appear to be any difference as Nikki remained in her wheelchair.
Harrison lowered his arms, raising an eyebrow at the girl.
"I'm sorry! I...I'm nervous…" Nikki admitted, picking at her armrest.
"It's okay, Nikki," Harrison offered her a soft smile, "I understand if you don't-"
"But I do! I do, I just...I trust you." Nikki leaned forward, readying herself to push off of her chair and stand for the first time in months. Harrison nodded and resumed his spell.
Much like the first go, nothing happened for several seconds; Unlike the first go, Nikki leaned forward, resting both feet on the floor. Next, she pushed off her chair, gasping as her legs supported her. The girl almost resembled a fawn, unsure and unsteady, as she straightened her back, the sensation of standing returning for a fleeting moment.
Had she not been so caught up in her excitement, Nikki would have realized that she was no longer standing up, rather, she was headed toward the ground fast. It wasn't until she collided with Harrison's chest that she noticed anything was wrong.
The arms around her shook so hard it rattled her as she let out a sharp cry in frustration.
"I'm sorry...I'm so sorry." Harrison mumbled, clinging to Nikki as his own tears fell.
The reality of the situation hung heavy in the room; Neither of them were close to recovery.
"Jesus Christ, how many weeks has it been?" Max lamented to Nerris, who kept her eyes trained ahead as they walked to class.
"Just one, but it feels longer than that! The two of them are like kicked puppies!"
"It fucking sucks! Nikki genuinely seemed-" Max's words came to a halt as he found his voice threatened to crack.
"-alive?" Nerris filled in the blanks, her own voice adopting a similar quark, "I know...Harrison was the same way...He practiced levitation for weeks..."
"God damn it, we can't just let them give up like that!" Max argued, turning quickly to walk in the opposite direction. Nerris wordlessly followed behind him, a look of determination coming to her face.
"You get Harrison, I get Nikki?" The girl finally asked. Max nodded, picking up the pace just a bit.
Why they hadn't done this in the beginning was beyond either one of them, as it seemed Harrison and Nikki didn't need any convincing to meet at the lacrosse field. Even face to face with each other, the pair didn't seem to have any hard feelings.
"Alright, what gives?" Max snapped, staring down the two in front of him.
Nerris smacked the boy on the back of the head, "What he meant was, you guys should talk about...things." The girl offered, a warm smile gracing her features.
"Nothing to talk about…" Harrison rubbed at the back of his neck, turning his attention to the teal girl beside him.
Nikki nodded in agreement, "It didn't work...so what?"
"You guys gave up after ONE attempt! Obviously you aren't gonna just be good at it right off the bat, that shit takes time!" Max argued, ducking quickly as Nerris aimed another slap.
"He means healing takes time...And that's what you two are doing. It can be scary sometimes, but wasn't it nice to try?" Nerris offered softly.
A silence fell between the four as Harrison and Nikki processed what was said. For the first time in over a week, both smiled.
"I-I guess it was nice just to stand again.." Nikki murmured, casting her eyes toward the ground.
Harrison nodded in agreement, "It felt...natural to do magic again…"
"See? Isn't that worth trying again?" Max mumbled, crossing his arms over his chest. Nikki's eyes lit up as they fell back on her magic friend.
"What do ya say, Harri?"
"I say, if it doesn't work, you be my arms and I'll be your legs."
In two short weeks, they had mastered standing, a week later, baby steps, a whole month later, they had tried dancing.
Neither of them were very good at it, but it gave the two subtle reminders that they were getting stronger. Harrison's hands rested calmly around Nikki's waist and the woman leaned on him lightly for support. While levitation had kept Nikki mostly upright in the beginning, it now served more as a crutch as she slowly got used to being active again.
"Hey, maybe next week we can try flying! That's way better than walking!" Nikki teased, stumbling back to her wheelchair.
Harrison laughed, crossing his arms, "Eventually; I don't think we're there quite yet."
"Lame!" Nikki whined, settling into her chair.
No, they weren't there yet, but rather or not she knew it, Nikki had just walked back to her wheelchair all on her own.