"You're like the poster child for good Slytherins!" -elsinore-roseAlyssa. 20. Red head by nature, Amazonian warrior queen by nurture. Lover of words, of theater, of coffee, of violet perfume. Professional nap taker/procrastination princess. Studying playwriting in the beautiful city of Chicago. Blissfully taken bi-romantic. Commander Shepard by day, closeted Disney Princess fan by night. Works at that famous smelly soap store. Watches too many television shows. A stubborn, sarcastic, sensitive someone.
"Laughter. Running. Let down hair. That is all there is to life."
WARNING: Angst angst angst. Hurt/comfort, and AU, I guess. I just apologize in advance.
Her hazel eyes fluttered open, then flew open with a bracing jolt of panic. And in the moment between her eyelids parting and her pupils dilating with shock and fear, he heard everything that had haunted him for the past four months pour out onto the cold tile floor and flood the room around them. Can’t be sure when she’ll wake up, if she’ll wake up. Can’t be sure what she’ll remember. May not remember what happened. May not remember who she is. May not remember who you are. If she’ll wake up. If she’ll wake up.
He couldn’t be sure if she saw him before she bolted upright and felt the puckered scar along the side of her head, but he knew positively that as she screamed and the metallic beeping of her heart rate monitor shot to a frantic crescendo, her eyes locked with his, and for a moment he felt all will to live drain out of his body.
She was in the vice grip of sheer, unadulterated terror, making horrifying screaming sounds as she felt the wires that tapped the blue veins in her arms and drowned under her ignorance of where she was, what had happened, what was happening now. Before she had any cognitive control of her actions, his hands were on her forearms, forceful but soothing, coaxing her back down on her hospital bed as she sobbed and gasped.
"Karen, Karen, please, love, it’s me. It’s me. It’s Matt! You’re alright, love, you’re alright." He tried to keep himself from sobbing with her as she clawed at his shirt, his hands, his arms, crying out for an explanation. "Nurse?! We need a nurse! Oi, please, she’s awake! For the love of God, she’s awake!" He yelled over Karen’s frantic cries.
"What’s happened? Matt, where am I, what happened? Help me, help me, what’s wrong with me? Matt - " She lost control again, the terror in her eyes nearly bringing him to his knees. Nurses and doctors rushed in, carrying sedatives and quickly running to take down data and check her vitals.
"Shh, honey, shh, it’s going to be okay. You’re alright. You’re safe." The young nurse hushed Karen as she injected the sedative into her IV. "She’ll be drowsy again in a few, sir." She whispered to Matt as the doctors scurried about and Karen’s noises began to fade. Her hand was still clutching his tightly.
"Matt. Matt, what’s happened? Matt, why can’t I remember? I’m really, properly frightened. Please. Please." She was crying now, hot tears rolling down her face uncontrollably. His hands were shaking, and as he pressed his forehead to hers and she gave a little, shuddering gasp through her sobs, he couldn’t tell if the wetness on his face was from her tears or his.
"Karen. There was an accident, Kaz. It’s all okay now, but there was a car accident, and you hit your head. Kaz, listen to me. Look at me." He opened his eyes and he saw her, frightened and trembling under his long fingers and broad palms. "It’s going to be okay, I promise you. Don’t be scared, Kaz. You’ve been in a coma for four months, love." Her wailing pitched and she shook violently against him, using up all her physical strength to bury her head against his shoulder. "Shh, Kaz, you’re alright, you’re okay. You’re with us now, it’s okay."
"I - I don’t - Matt I don’t remember - what accident, what - " She was beginning to lose lucidity, her grasp becoming less forceful and her words starting to slur. He grabbed her hand and shifted so he could look at her, look at the eyes that he hadn’t seen in four months.
"It’s okay, Kaz. You’ll probably feel sleepy and that’s okay. I’ll still be here when you wake up, I promise. But you need to answer just one question for me, can you do that?" His voice was shaking along with his hands now. This was the question four months in the torturous making. She nodded. "What is the last thing you remember?" She gave him a blank look that made his stomach flip, and he grasped her hand in desperation. "What is the date of the last day you remember?" She squeezed her eyes shut, and finally choked out a painful whisper.
"December 25th, 2011. Christmas Day. You and I went caroling at Steven’s house with Katherine and his son gave us his Christmas crackers."
He blanched, his face entirely drained of life, and fought to keep a serene expression upon his brow. But she knew him too well.
"Why?" She asked meekly, her eyes still wide with fear. "What’s today’s date?"
"September 19th, 2013." He whispered to her, tears flowing freely now. "The accident happened in May. You don’t … you don’t remember … the two whole years? Nothing?" Karen whimpered and shook her head, beginning to cry again. "Shhh, shhh, it’s okay, I’m sorry, love, I’m sorry. It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay." The sedative was beginning to overtake her, and he lowered her back onto the bed, her head supported by a single pillow. He rubbed the pale knuckles of her hand as her eyes began to slide shut.
"Matt … " She hoarsely called for him, hardly even aware of his hand still on hers.
"Y - yeah? Kaz?" His voice was still shuddering but he tried to smile. He’d always try to smile for her, especially now. And she smiled back, a bemused little half-grin that ghosted across her face in the moments just before sleep conquered her.
"Why are you calling me ‘love’?"
Her question shook him unbelievably, stole his speech, so that all he could do was gape at her, open mouthed, in traumatized shock, as though someone had knocked the wind out of him. Sleep finally settled in her, and her peaceful visage made him even more numb. Leaning over to kiss her forehead, the tears settled against her skin, and he wiped them away before whispering in her ear, taking in the scent of her soft hair as his nose settled against the strands.
"I will be right back. It’s going to be okay, Karen. I’m right here. Always and forever. Right here."
He took a last look at her, this new Karen, this frightened and vulnerable Karen that couldn’t help herself but to be panicked, before leaving her room to go find cell service.
"She’ll probably wake up again in a few hours, closer to dinner time, if I had to warrant a guess." The nurse that had administered the sedative to Karen happened to be walking past as he delicately shut the door behind him. He nodded, nearly frozen. "Are - are you alright, Mr. Smith? It’s a veritable miracle that she woke up in such good health, you know. And she remembers you, that’s a right lot better than we thought she’d be doing. Did she … say anything to you, about what she remembers? Because the doctors ought to know if she did." Her eyes probed his face, probably weeding out the lie that was to come. He would tell them, but he couldn’t do it now.
"Oh, uhm, no. No, she didn’t. No time, I guess. Not enough time." He mumbled, knowing full well the nurse could see straight through him. But she pursed her lips, slathered in an unseemly coral color, and gave him a stern once-over with her methodical gray eyes before sighing heavily.
"I guess we’ll just have to ask her tomorrow, then. It’s probably best that way anyway, innit?" She gave him a small smile and patted his arm. "I’m glad she’s awake, Mr. Smith." He merely nodded and walked down to the lobby, dialing on his mobile as he walked.
The cold air outside the hospital made the tears still lingering in his eyes feel heavy as lead as he listened to the ringing tone on the phone. Finally, he picked up.
"Hey. Hey, listen. She’s awake."
"Jesus Christ. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Is she-"
"Take your time, she’s asleep. They knocked her out, she almost went into cardiac arrest panicking when she woke." The tone in his voice and the weighty silence that followed told Arthur everything he needed to know, but he still had to ask.
"What does she remember?"
Matt’s face crumpled against his hand, and the words seemed impossible to get out. Everything seems harder, more painful, more real, when he had to say it out loud.
"Christmas, last year ago. She doesn’t remember any of it. Nothing after Christmas of 2011. Almost two years of her life just … gone. I don’t know - Arthur, what do I - " Arthur couldn’t hear anything but silence and distant gasps of air.
"I’ll get there as soon as I can, Matt. Just wait with her. She needs you, even if she doesn’t know it."
"I know. I’ll be here."
"Are you going to tell her you were the one driving the car?" Arthur almost wished he hadn’t said it, but it had to be asked. It had to be. Regardless of the answer, he had a right to know how his best friend was going to deal with this. Matt just bit his lip hard enough to draw blood and shook his head.
"I don’t know."
"Matt, you’ve gotta-"
"I said, I. Don’t. Know." There was silence on both ends of the call now.
"Are you going to tell her anything else? When she wakes up again, I mean, are you going to explain?"
"I want to. You know I want to. But I don’t want to overwhelm her. And the doctors said she might be different now, mate, and I don’t know if I could live with it if she - "
"She wouldn’t change that drastically, she’s still our Kaz."
"Just get here."
"Yeah. Yeah, mate. Alright."
Matt hung up the phone and just stared at it. I don’t know if I have it in me to risk telling her. She could freak out again. Imagine being told about two whole years of your life that you could never remember. Two whole years you will never get back. Major life experiences - vanished. When he got back up to her room, he hailed the nurse on duty again, and her coral lips indicated a sympathetic smile up at him.
"What can I do for you? She’s still not up, I see." She clucked her tongue and shook her head, but he stopped her.
"You take all possessions off of coma patients, right? When they come in? So that they can’t hurt themselves or panic further when they wake up, right?" His eyes cast over to Karen, sleeping in bed, her gorgeous hair spread out around her like a painting of the Madonna.
"Yes, all possessions. Cell phones, jewelry, glasses, anything."
His eyes never left his Kaz as he made his request.
"I’m going to need you to give me her ring. She’s going to need it back soon, and I’d like to be the one to give it to her."
"That might not be a great idea, she may not remember - "
"It’ll be under Smith. Karen Smith."
Matt’s fingers drifted over his wedding band, and his unknowing wife slept peacefully.