TITLE: Heart
AUTHOR: Kasey
SERIES: Elements 5
RATING: PG-13, ESF, EMF, EJF, S/M, Mallory PoV
SUMMARY: Sometimes new challenges confront us...Sometimes we confront them.
DISCLAIMERS: I don't own them, boohoo, don't sue. Also - yes, I realize 'heart' isn't an element...I ran out, okay? I'm sorry - that's what comes from having a 10-story series (as it's planned to be) when there's only 4 elements. Also, this one's trying to, y'know, move time along a little, so yeah, at one point it talks about it being a month after the diagnosis - don't panic, nothing major went on then, it was very much like had been set up and like is recounted from time to time by our characters, so...yeah. Whatever.
THANKS: To Flip, for the beta and the idea for the title (Go planet!)

He was driving me crazy.

Two nights a week, he went to chemo and got sicker than a dog.

Six days a week, he went to work. That's counting Saturdays and Sundays as half-days.

So, while on treatment for leukemia, Sam worked more than almost all healthy people.

I stayed with him sometimes - whenever he wasn't in his super-independent mood - and sometimes I set the alarm clock a little late on purpose so he could sleep later than 5 a.m. HE didn't like it, sometimes got mad, but no one expected him to be in so early - no one felt he SHOULD be in so early. And I don't think he minded as much as he pretended he did for me.

About a month after he'd been diagnosed, Sam had a particularly bad night – he must've been throwing up every half hour or so until about 4 a.m., at which point he fell asleep from pure exhaustion. I fell asleep beside him a couple minutes later, having not pulled an all-nighter since grad school.

I woke up at 5:30 to hear the water running. Figuring he might be sick again, I walked to the bathroom and knocked lightly on the closed door.

"In the shower, Mal, whatcha need?" he called over the sound of the water.

That floored me – he'd been up sick all night and gotten maybe an hour of sleep, and he was planning to go to work? Was he crazy? What the hell did he think he was doing?

Not wanting to hold that conversation of the sound of the shower, I went to the kitchen and made myself some tea and a couple pieces of toast for Sam in case he wanted them. I heard the water stop running, waited about two minutes, then went back to the bathroom.

Sam had opened the door, and there he stood, shaving with trembling hands, cursing every few seconds as he cut himself accidentally with the razor blade.

"Sam, what the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Getting ready for work, Mallory, what's it look like?"

"You were up all night."

"Doesn't matter."

"It DOES matter."

"Why?"

"Because you can't even THINK about food right now without throwing up let alone smell it or eat it, your hands are shaking so badly you're gonna end up as Scarface, you shouldn't be going to work!"

"Mallory, why are you so worked up about this?"

"You're going to work yourself to death!"

There was a silence, during which I kicked myself for being stupid and Sam finished his shaving, then went on to his hair. I was surprised at how meticulous he was about it – every strand had to be perfect.

He looked like hell. He was pale and wan and he was getting a lot thinner – his pants looked too big, held up only by his belt, and his undershirt was looser than I remembered it being before he got sick. There were purpley circles under his eyes, his complexion was sallow, and he looked so tired...

He gently brushed past me and went to the bedroom to put on his shirt, tie, and jacket. "You've gotta slow down, Sam."

"I'm fine."

"You are NOT fine!" He stopped, mid-button, and faced me. "Do you understand that you're sick? Do you get that? You're on chemotherapy and you're working 80-hour work weeks, you've GOTTA slow down!"

"I'm FINE, Mallory-"

"No, you're NOT, you just don't see it! You don't understand that you shouldn't work as hard now – you don't understand that you're hurting yourself WORSE by doing this! You're pushing yourself so damn hard and I swear to God it's gonna end up killing you just like..." I trailed off. I didn't mean to start on down that road...I shouldn't have brought it up, telling him he was gonna die was absolutely the WRONG strategy and it was making me more upset than it was making him, from the looks of it.

"Like who?" he asked quietly.

"Nevermind it, Sam, it was a stupid-ass thing to say."

"Okay..." he said uncertainly, finishing buttoning his shirt and tying his tie. "I gotta go," he said, catching sight of his alarm clock. "I'll talk to you later, hon, okay?"

"Fine," I said shortly. He walked out, and, from behind, when all I could see was his suit and the back of his dark hair, I could pretend he looked the same as he always had.

I didn't need to be at school for another couple hours, so I sort of hung out around his apartment for a little while...made myself breakfast, tried to watch tv, but the entire time I kept thinking about Sam.

He worked too damn hard. He didn't see it, but he did. Josh's job was to make sure Sam didn't push himself but that wasn't working – anytime anyone said anything, Sam just blew them off...And he was looking worse. Maybe it was just because of the previous night, but...I didn't know and it was making me scared.

He kept pushing himself and working so much and getting weaker and weaker and never taking time off...

I didn't want to lose him...Same as before.

 

TBC

 

 

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