|Too Late Found, Too Early Lost
Author: DaenerysTargary3n PM
After Michael visits Ukraine, his and Frieda's relationship deepens into close friendship. Frieda receives a call from her mother to bring Michael with her to her sister's wedding but it turns into something much more meaningful for her and Michael.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Michael S. & Frieda P. - Chapters: 15 - Words: 32,767 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 09-15-12 - Published: 05-21-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8136387
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: Profound apologies for the long gap between this update and the last one…I have been on holiday and thus haven't had the opportunity to write this chapter. This is the penultimate chapter, so at this moment I would like to thank everyone who has read, and especially everyone who has left such kind reviews which really made me smile (like I slept with a hanger in my mouth!) and I hope you'll review these last two chapters. Also, as I wrote this chapter on "The most successful day for Great Britain in Olympic history" (yes, congratulations Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford!) there is a little reference, so I hope you'll forgive me for a little patriotism!
Chapter 14 – Hello & Goodbye
A week later…
I had spent seven days drifting in and out of sleep, but I had been awake long enough to see my sister, the newly-married Mrs Zadorozhny and her husband before they embarked on their honeymoon, which they had to be heavily persuaded to go on. They had demanded that they be allowed to cut it short, so they were only travelling to Mauritius for three days instead of the three week honeymoon which had been the original plan.
My mama was a constant presence at my bedside but she had painful memories of hospitals, so she was never able to stay for long. Michael, on the other hand, had more or less taken up residence in our private room along with me. His manner had changed over the past week. As I got weaker, Michael became more taciturn and oddly preoccupied with his phone, which he observed intermittently as if always waiting for it to ring. He also left when it buzzed occasionally saying that "it's only the hospital", but I was disturbed by this falsehood. Michael had informed Mr. Hanssen that I was in a bad way last week and that he himself was not to be disturbed or contacted while he stayed with me.
As I woke after a short nap, I heard Nadia talking to Michael.
"She is getting weaker faster than she should be. She's not going to hold out much longer, Mr. Spence," I heard Michael's grief-stricken groan, "I would give her a couple of days…at the most." Nadia's voice drowned in the tears that flowed down her cheeks.
I already knew that my condition had deteriorated rapidly, too quickly for me to have much longer than Nadia said, but I wanted to hear what the two doctors would talk about not knowing that I was eavesdropping.
"Nadia…I can't lose her, not yet, not now. It wasn't supposed to end like this. She has to last longer!"
It was a difficult test of character for me not to just reach out to him and pull him into my embrace, but I knew that I had to hear what he would never tell me while I was conscious.
"I truly am sorry, Mr. Spence. You know as well as I do there's nothing more we can do for Frieda. It's just a matter of palliative care and making her as comfortable as possible."
"I've organised a bit of a surprise for her, but now I'm not sure whether I've done the right thing for her or not," I had no idea he had done something, but I guessed that I had just found out the reason for the glances at his phone. "I think it might hurt her more instead of making her happy, which is what I intended it to do."
Nadia rubbed Michael's shoulder soothingly, "Mr. Spence, the amount she loves you, I'm sure she'll love whatever it is you've planned for her because it was your thoughtful gesture." She sighed, "In this case, I'm sure the saying 'It's the idea that counts' applies."
I couldn't help myself, hearing what Nadia had just said. Like Michael, I sniggered at her mistake, "It's the thought that counts, Nadia," I said, watching as the two of them realised I had been listening to their conversation, "and," I looked pointedly at Michael, "she's right."
Michael smiled softly at seeing me awake and apparently jovial, but as he strode to sit on the edge of my bed and as per his ritual, to take my hand in his, his smile turned into an expression full of concern and worry, "Are you feeling all right, sweetheart?"
I squeezed his hand. "Michael, I feel fine." he looked at me, unconvinced by my reply, "Okay, I feel like a train's gone over me and I'm absolutely exhausted, but no need to worry so." I raised my hand to caress his cheek, the stubble having grown into the makings of a full-fledged beard.
When Nadia left us alone in the company of the bleeps and drones of the various machines clustered about my bed, Michael moved closer and pulled me as close as he could into his arms – where I gladly went. His arms had become a haven for me, one of the last safe places I could go to, where the pain went away and I forgot how close my death was.
Just as we got comfortable and arranged the tubes and wires so as not to disconnect any of them while I was in an…unusual position in the bed, Michael's mobile went off with the sound of a siren.
I smiled at the familiar sound, "Holby?"
Michael winked at me before picking up, "Hi, Spence here." He listened intently to the caller, whose voice I couldn't quite make out, "Yeah? Fabulous! I'll do that, give me half an hour." He looked apologetically at me, "Nope, not a problem. Fine, see ya."
The smile – no, grin – plastered across Michael's face was ludicrous. He looked like a man who's just won gold at the Olympics, prompting me to shoot him a suspicious look.
"Michael, what's wrong? What do they need?"
He suddenly seemed to realise that I was in the room, "Oh! Sorry…it's nothing. I've just got to," he hesitated, "go to the post office for a while." As he rose, leaving a tender kiss on my hair, he said, "I'll see you in a bit, love."
He laid me back on the bed knowing it would not take long for sleep to claim me, but as he walked out of the room quietly, I heard him whisper, "Don't go anywhere, Frieda."
"I promise, I'll be here when you get back." I muttered as he quit the room and then fell asleep.
When I woke later, yet again there were voices in my hospital room. Only this time, there were more people and except for Michael, none of them were voices I had heard while we were in Kiev, but as I realised what was going on and whose voices they were, I was almost brought to tears.
"Mr. Spence, when did this start? She was fine when she left Holby." A voice full of youth and vigour said.
"Well, the cancer can be unnoticeable for up to five months, then something can set it off and the result…" Another voice, one with more wisdom and age, said with subtle confidence.
Michael's authoritative tone interrupted, "yes, yes, we know, thank you!"
A woman's voice, warm yet firm and controlled, growled, "Idiot!"
"What I would do is…" A gruff, arrogant young doctor began.
"Ha! Does anyone here think that what he is about to say will be at all helpful?" A well-spoken, yet tired man questioned brusquely.
With the exception of one, everyone in the room was unanimous in their response, but one voice in particular, filled with more kindness and sentimentality than the rest apologised, "No, sorry."
Once I was sure I knew whom I was about to see after I opened my eyes, I saw above me a group of people standing at the foot of my bed, now all peering down at me as I languished before them.
I found the face of the last man to speak as he said gently, "Hello, Frieda."
I nodded slightly, "Mr. Hope," I smiled, "couldn't resist the charms of Kiev for long?"
Everyone in the room let out a quiet giggle at my attempt at humour.
"What are you all doing here?"
Then, Michael came to my side and helped me as I tried to sit up and explained, "Frieda, I called them. It's what I was telling Nadia about earlier. I didn't want you to miss anyone when…"
I interrupted with a squeeze of his hand, "Yes, I know what you mean, Michael. Carry on."
He smiled gratefully at me, "I just thought you might like to see some people from back home and I knew that they would want to see you once more."
As he spoke, my eyes became awash with tears and my now frail body plunged and heaved with sobs.
"Hush now, love," Michael lulled me as he enfolded me in his strong arms, "What's the matter? I knew I should have asked you first."
It wasn't that I was saddened by the sudden appearance of my friends from Holby. Seeing Ollie, Luc, Eddi, Malick, Mr. Griffin and Mr. Hope now just brought every emotion I had kept hidden and buried deep within me overflow and spill into the world in front of everyone.
As Michael shushed and soothed me, rubbing his hands against my back and stroking my hair, I only just managed to hear Luc suggest that the others in the room leave.
I parted at once from Michael, looked at the group of doctors and Eddi and begged, "No! Please, I'm sorry," I wiped my face roughly, brushing away the tears making way for the smile, "I am just so glad to see all of you."
My friends returned my smile and Eddi, the mistress of practicality and strength, even came to the bed and gave me a supportive hug.
Since the tense atmosphere had been diffused, all hell broke loose in the now cramped room. Michael hijacked some chairs from around the ward and piled them inside, pizza was brought in and cans of Coca Cola and Tango were drunk. Even Mr. Hope and Mr. Griffin, who usually excused themselves politely or refrained from the food and drink at work-related events, joined in the fun heartily. I so rarely had the opportunity to see a bright and easy-going side of the two senior physicians, so now I was witnessing them both telling jokes and anecdotes about 'the good old days', I got swept up in their good humour.
The pleasant and unexpected company was enough to drive the lethargy from my body, or at least, to stop me from remembering how fatigued I was. While I was enjoying the fun and games my friends initiated, an idea came to me and although it would be a wrench for me and would most certainly be overwhelming for – I suspected – most of them, I knew I had to do it while I had some inkling of strength.
When the group conversation concerning Mrs Beauchamp and a Mr. Sam Strachan came to a natural pause, I asked, "Guys, would you mind going outside for a minute? There's something I need to ask Michael."
They all mumbled their assent and left Michael alone with me in the room, looking very concerned.
"Frieda, love, what's the matter? Are you feeling all right?" He got up and checked the readings on all the machines attached to me.
"Oh, Michael," I exclaimed, pulling him back down from his examination of the cardiogram, "I feel fine, in fact I feel phenomenal! I would just like you to do me a favour."
Without hesitation – or question – he said, "Anything, sweetheart."
"I want you to take them to mama's house. I need to say my goodbye to each of them, individually in letters, please." I wasn't going to say more to him, for it would have only caused him more anxiety.
Michael's initial response was to push his hair from his face and rest his elbows on his knees. He did look weary and burdened, but let out a frustrated snort, "You going all Rachel Green on me now?"
I was utterly confused by this remark, "I'm sorry? Michael, I don't know what you're talking about."
Knowing full well then that with my taste in TV and Film, I would have no notion of characters on Friends, "It's nothing, love. I'll go tell them right now. While we're out, do you want anything from there?"
"No, thank you." I hesitated, "I think I'm going to write to Mr. Griffin first."
As ever, with a kiss Michael left me to run my errand.
I know the two of us were never that close, but I always respected you as a man and a doctor. I will miss working with you on Keller and watching you try to not kill 'The Malick', which I know is something that is a challenge every day.
Please send my love and friendship to Chantelle and Sister Williams and if you can bring yourself to be nice to him for a while, Mr. Hanssen.
I will truly miss all of you at Holby,
I know we've only known each other a short while and we did not have the best of starts, but I now consider you to be one of my friends at Holby and I hope you felt the same, though I know from Eddi that you don't really trust people enough to see them as friends.
About Eddi…I've also only known her for a short while before I met you, but she cares about you a great deal and if I've learnt anything since…my news, it's not to waste time running or being cryptic. Just be with each other if it makes you happy, and you both clearly make each other happy. I will miss you in AAU and I'm sorry to break up our A-Team.
Once I'm gone, if you can, I would like you to do me one final favour. If the situation ever presents itself where Michael goes off the rails at the hospital, please do what you can to help him. He – like you – has been through so much and he's about to endure some more pain but he does not deserve to lose his job if Hanssen finds out, so please just help him as much as you can.
And please convey my love and best wishes to Sasha,
To 'The Malick'
Goodbye, my friend. You are a great doctor – and you know it! Your arrogance and spirit often helped brighten up a grim day, so thank you.
Be careful, Antoine, be careful of your temper, for one day I know it will land you in a scrape you won't be able to talk and charm your way out of and then you might even have to ask Mr. Griffin for help!
I am going to miss you so much. I'll miss you and me riling up Sasha, you and me gossiping about Luc and especially the times when it was all of AAU vs. Lulu 'Slut' Hutchison. Who'd have thought that in a way I'd follow in her footsteps? Though I hope I am – oops, I've been – less of a tart about it…
Don't give up on Luc, Eddi. Some people just take some time and for something, or someone, to jolt them out of their own reflections. Hopefully, my death will do that for Luc (and for you) and the two of you will be able to be happy together, as Michael and I should have had the chance to be. I wish you all the best with the man you love and who – Frieda knows – loves you back just as much.
One final request…don't let Michael fall off the wagon too much please. Keep him safe for me, Eddi. You're the only one I'd trust to.
Dear Mr. Hope
I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for me over the years we have known each other, from writing me my F1 reference letter to saving Lev's life here in Kiev. Also, from what Michael has told me, you were instrumental in getting everyone to Kiev to see me this time, so I owe you thanks for letting me see my dearest friends before I go.
You are a kind and gentle soul who deserves all the best of luck, but you won't mind me saying that you're also so clumsy that you'll need the luck I wish you wholeheartedly.
I know you miss your wife dreadfully, so if I can, I'll be sure to tell her 'hi' from you.
Remember me well to Holby,
Writing to you has been one of the hardest things I've had to do so far. I remember how carefree and happy you used to be before Penny died, but now you've become mature and responsible and I'm proud to have known you. I know you do a lot of the work you do for Penny and on her behalf and it's made you a better person. wOne day, a girl – who unfortunately will not be me – will give you your reason to live for yourself and for her instead of for those of us who are dead or dying. I would ask you to continue your medical career and thrive in it for me too now, as I won't be able to myself.
Recently I have thought a lot about how close we came to being together and had fate (and Penny!) intended differently, you might have been in Michael's shoes at the moment, but as much as I desire and need him to be spared the pain of losing me, I would not wish you into his shoes. I hope you'll never have more need to suffer beyond what you have already.
Goodbye, my dear,
As I finished the final note, my heart was greatly burdened but in a way incredibly unloaded. I felt as if I was Atlas and the skies had been lifted from my shoulders, though I, like the Titan, knew that very soon the weight would be given back to me. I had thought about writing to Michael, but I didn't have the heart or strength for it, so I decided that what needed to be said we would say to each other and what ought to be left unsaid would be.
Anyway, after writing my heart and soul out in my farewell notes, I felt the tiredness and fatigue crush me and all I wanted to do was go to sleep.