TITLE: Stress 

AUTHOR: Kasey 

RATING: PG/PG-13, a little language, ESF, EMF, S/M 

SUMMARY: Intentionally Left Blank, but it's Mal's PoV 

NOTES: Again, Merci Beaucoup a mes lecteurs beta - Lieutenant and Disney, vous etes tres, tres, TRES chuette! These characters aren't mine. Deal with it.


I choked back tears as I stood in the doorway. Curtained-off areas held empty beds, except for one. And I wished more than anything that the bed was empty. I wished I didn't hear the hiss of the respirator or the insistent "beep…beep…beep!" of the heart monitor. I wished I didn't see the defibrilator paddles. But mostly…

Mostly I wished he wasn't lying here as I looked on, completely fine, wishing he was okay.

A nurse brushed past me to take his blood pressure and temperature, pulse…all the indicators that he was still alive and might remain so a little while longer. "You can go over closer," she told me.

I knew. But so long as I stayed back in the doorway and squinted a little bit, it wasn't him. It was some Italian guy I'd never seen before, someone who I could pretend was in his late forties and - while he'd always had a high metabolic rate - had done nothing but sat around on his couch eating potato chips all his life.

But, knowing I had to do it, since they were uncertain of what might happen, I walked over to his bed and sat in the chair beside him. "Hi, Sam," I whispered. "…Abby was right about you geniuses, that you never want to sleep and always work too hard…Stress out too easily…especially you, though…I told you to try to calm down…" My voice tapered off at the end, which was just as well since he couldn't really hear me anyway. I slowly collected myself and attempted words again. But what could one say? How could one manage to say all that was in their hearts and souls that the others did not know within such a limited time? "Sam, I -" I stopped, my lower lip quivering. "I'm sorry I always allowed Daddy to shove a wedge between us, I'm sorry I got mad at you when you had to cancel for the opera, I'm sorry for it all! God, if I had known how little it actually mattered in the scheme of things…But instead, now…Now I might be losing all that's really important, God, Sam, I am so sorry…" I sobbed in a rush, and was nearly completely incomprehendable, but what did it matter? It was more for me than anything else.

It wasn't fair, I decided. It wasn't fair that people who murdered and raped and pillaged and plundered and rifled and looted their lives away lived to be 90 and Sam, the most innocent and naïve and adorable and sweet of them all barely got to see a third of that, a heart attack putting an end to those things he loved so prematurely.. It wasn't fair that he had the mentality that made him insist of working all the time, even when he had pains in his arm and tightness in his chest. It wasn't fair of Toby to be so hard on him, so demanding, so perfectionistic when it didn't matter. It wasn't fair that I was sitting beside his bed and watching him draw what might be his last breaths, it wasn't' fair that CJ was out in the waiting room trying to console Josh and Toby was sitting beside them, muttering about direct objects and a lack of verbs in imagery and my father and Jed were off in a corner, silently blaming themselves for working him so hard. It wasn't fair that all of us had to lose someone we cared about so much when we hadn't gotten nearly enough time to tell him. As Toby had said earlier, "There's nothing about this that doesn't suck on every level imaginable." And he was right, for once I agreed with him wholeheartedly…

Sam would've been saying Toby was wrong, finding the optimism in the worst of the situation, holding me in my seat as I tried to pace for hours, keeping an arm reassuringly around me…He would've been preparing remarks with tears in his eyes as he had done when Josh was shot…

Where's the optimism now, Sam, when we need it most?

"…I love you, Sam…Please come back to us, please don't leave us…Don't leave me, Sam…" I reached out my shaking hand to grip his limp one, my tears streaming down my cheeks faster than before. "…Don't leave me, Sam…"

And as I watched, the jagged green line on the monitors went flat and the beeps turned into a whine. I started to scream as I sobbed, pleas for him to come back to me and promises we all knew I would never be able to keep, things I'd do if only he'd wake up. The doctors scurried in to work on him, ushering me out…and then it was all over.


"Mallory? Mallory, you're shaking…c'mon, wake up, you're scaring me here…" The warm hand against my icy hand was enough to jolt me slightly from my revery. "C'mon, please…It's a bad dream, you can wake up…" The worry in the voice increased as I began to stir slightly, trying to get out of the dream completely but unsure I was able.

I opened my eyes and looked around. Gone were the stark white walls, the medical equipment I couldn't name, the gurneys within curtain partitions…I was in my own room, moonlight streaming through the curtains, shadows playing hauntingly across the walls.

"Mallory, Honey, it's okay…really, it was just a dream, you're okay…"

I sat bolt upright and looked beside me. Sam was looking at me with concern in his deep blue eyes, placing a gentle hand on my shoulder. "Sam? Oh, thank God…" I threw my arms around his neck and came close to strangling him, I think. I muttered a long string of something unintelligible into his shoulder as tears of relief at the fact that it had all been a terrible, terrible nightmare and he WASN'T dead, he was alive and well and beside me.

"Mallory? What ha- ?" Sam asked as I clung to him, then wrapped his arms around me and gently rubbed my back as he held me tightly. "Oh, Hon, it's okay, it's over now…it's all over…"


The End



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