Fade to Black
Part 21

All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.

The sirens seemed to echo through the vehicle, and I regret dragging Josh
in with me. His face is the color of melted wax, and his hands are
shaking just a little. I swear, no matter how much time passes, he's
always....... She squeezed me hand. She squeezed my hand, and I can see
her eyes fluttering. Please, Lisa, please be okay. I'm begging here. The
paramedic gives me a quick look and I shut up quickly. I didn't even
realize I was talking out loud. Josh pats my shoulder from his spot next
to me, and I lean forward, trying to get closer to her. It doesn't matter
much though, because before I know it, we're stopping at an emergency
room, and I realize I have no idea where I am. Yes, it's a hospital, but
that's all I....... I don't release her hand as they run with the
stretcher towards the entrance and beyond. At some point, I realize Josh
isn't next to me any more, but I don't care.

"What's wrong with her!" My lungs feel like they're about to burst, and
the paramedics are jostling me out of the way. It feels like this
horrible case of déjà vu. They're going through a set of double doors
now, and a nurse puts her hand on my shoulder and tells me I can't go any
farther. As they pull her away from me, I feel her fingers slip through
my hand. The nurse jogs after them then, and as the door swings shut, I
lose sight of my wife.

Josh catches up to me then, and he doesn't say anything. He just stops,
maybe a foot from me, and meets my eyes. Then he sticks out a hand,
without thinking, I grasp it, and he yanks me into a bear hug. "She'll be
okay. She'll be okay, Sam. Lisa's always okay." I don't know if I believe
him, but I want to. I really want to. When the hug ends, he grabs my hand
again, and we go through all the motions of a secret handshake. It's
stupid really, a remnant of late night beers and bad jokes from the early
days, but it makes me feel better - not much, but just a little.

Her dad is stalking down this hallway with this look of mild panic
plastered across his features, and he stops in front of me. "What
happened down there?" Look, don't stare at me like that. I don't know. I
just don't know. If I knew what happened, I wouldn't have let it happen!
I would have protected her! I would have! He glances at Josh and then
back at me. Now, I always knew Josh could be perceptive, but I don't get
to see evidence of it very often. This time, he gets the hint, and pats
my shoulder before disappearing. Peter Lloyd doesn't say anything for a
second, and I'm sort of hoping that this moment between us doesn't result
in any broken bones, because those bones would likely be mine.

His face softens though, and he nods in my direction. "I'm sorry about
that, Sam. I just worry about her, she's...." He doesn't continue, but I
understand the sentiment. She and Paul are the only family he has, and he
wants to protect them. I just glance at him and something passes between
us. Tomorrow, we'll most likely resume our uneasy truce, but today -
today we'll forget all about the feud. Mr. Lloyd steps past me then,
towards the nurses station, and I watch as he talks to them and goes into
a waiting room. I don't want to be stuck in a waiting room with him for
who knows how long, and so I glance around to look for Josh. I don't see
him, and I wonder if he's vanished into thin air. Giving in to the fear
lurking inside my chest, I sink down to the floor of the emergency room
hall and lean back against the wall.

Closing my eyes, I remember how frail she felt in my arms, the way she
turned to me when it happened, the way her eyes looked - haunted green
pools, the smell of her shampoo as I held on to her. God, I want to
forget about it, but I can't. I can't because it's taking over my mind.
There's a thump next to me, and my eyes pop open. Josh is standing over
me, and his bag is next to me, right where he dropped it. Slowly, he
bends down, griping around having forty-one year old knees, and digs
through his bag. I almost laugh when he pulls my pills out of his bag.
Josh is mothering me? I never thought I'd live to see it. "I took them
from the hotel this morning. I thought you might...." I nod. If I'm going
to keep taking them, I'd better keep taking them. I have to be there for
Lisa. I have to be.

A doctor walks past us, and goes into the waiting room Mr. Lloyd entered
earlier. I jump up, and Josh hurries to follow. We nearly plow into the
doctor as we try to go into the waiting room. The woman steps back. "Mr.
Seaborn, I was just going to find you. Please, have a seat." Josh and I
share this look. If she's telling us to sit down, it can't be good news.
It can't be. There's some rule they teach you in med school that tells
you how bad it has to be before they make you sit down. I just know there


Lisa's dad was here until after midnight, and then his cell phone rang.
It wouldn't be the first time - they called him when they found Lisa's
flashlight in the tunnel, and when Leo started demanding to know where
Lisa, Josh, and I were. Damn! I knew I forgot something. I should have
called Leo. I guess I thought that was where Josh was going when he left.
I mean, he stayed for a couple hours, and then some guy in a cheap suit
showed up and Josh went with him. I thought he was a delegate or
somebody's intern or something. Guess not, 'cause Josh isn't at the
Convention. This call must have been different though, because he kisses
her forehead and smoothes down her hair before leaving.

I don't want to know what that was about. I can't know what that's about,
because I can't focus on anything other than Lisa. Her skin has taken on
this strange pallor and her lips have this odd blue tinge. It doesn't
matter though. Every time she takes a shaky breath, I can't help but
think that she's beautiful. She's beautiful because she's still alive.
She's not going to die, I won't let her.

I close my fingers around her open hand, and eye the IV. I don't want to
jostle it, but I can't let go of her hand. If I let go, she might slip
away from me. Her breathing changes for just a moment, and I hold my
breath, waiting for alarms to sound. They don't, and then I feel her hand
squeeze mine ever so lightly. "Lisa? Lisa, honey, open your eyes, please
open your eyes." I wait for what seems like forever, but nothing happens,
and I swallow down the hope that rose in my chest. Her lips move though,
and her next breath is a soft whisper. "Cold."

I glance around the room, searching for an extra blanket. I can't see
anything, and for some reason, I don't want to press the call button. I'm
almost afraid they've forgotten I'm here and the nurse will send me home.
I step on the heel of my left shoe with my right foot, and then do the
same to the right shoe then I kick them aside. Shifting her very
carefully so as not to disrupt the monitors of the IV, I adjust her
blankets and slip into the bed, drawing my arms around her and settling
her against me. Rubbing her arms, I hold her until she warms up and the
subtle shivers subside. She relaxes then, and her breathing seems to come
more easily. I watch over her then, until my eyelids grow heavy. The
entire world might fall apart, but right now, I'm holding my wife. That's
going to have to be enough.



Fade To Black - 22



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