I apologize if the medical stuff is wrong. I'm not in the medical field.

Chapter 4

Alec led the way to the elevator and pushed the button for the third floor.

What happened up there? Is Ellie ok? What will happen to the boys if anything happens to her?

Before he knew it, the elevator doors opened and he led the boys down the hallway to Ellie's room. A nurse was waiting for them inside.

"Tom? Fred? Why don't you go talk to your mom? I'll be back in a minute." Alec said, motioning slightly with his head to tell the nurse they'd talk out in the hallway.

"All right, Alec." Tom replied, taking Fred by the hand.

The nurse and Alec stepped outside and the nurse closed the door so the boys couldn't hear their conversation.

"I'm Cynthia, one of the nurses to respond to Ms. Miller's alarm. We noticed her oxygen level was lower than normal and that's what caused the alarm to go off. We upped the oxygen flow and she's stable. We're just keeping an eye on her for now and making sure she's doing all right."

"And you're sure she's all right now?" Alec asked.

"Yes, sir. We're just keeping an eye on her as a precaution. She's resting now."

"Any idea what caused it?"

"We're not sure at the moment. That's part of why we're keeping an eye on her condition."

"I see. Well, thank you for your time. I'm going to let the boys know what's going on."

"All right. I'll be at the nurse's station if you have any other questions."

"Thank you."

They parted ways and Alec walked back into the room.

"Boys, come here a minute, please."

Tom and Fred came over and Alec tried to explain what happened as best he could.

"Your mother's oxygen level went a little lower than they'd like. They raised the amount of oxygen going into her through the machines and she seems to be stable for now. That means she's going to be ok. They just want to keep an eye on her and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Once he knew they understood, he let them talk with Ellie for a while until it was time for them to go. They had to get the boys' things ready to go over to his house.

"All right, boys. It's time to go. We're coming to my house for a while, so we need to gather your things from your house. We'll come back tomorrow." Alec promised.

They walked back to the elevator and drove back to Ellie's house.

"You'll need some changes of clothes, your night clothes and your toothbrush and toothpaste. I'll help Fred while you gather your things, Tom."

As quickly as they could, they gathered the things they would need and packed them in three bags. Alec drove them over to his house and helped them set up the air mattresses in his room. Andrea would be arriving in two days and he wanted to make sure the boys were settled before he set up the guest room.

"You boys doing all right?"

"Yeah." Tom replied.

"Let me know if you need anything. I'll be just down the hall for a bit."

He stopped at the door to the guest room and turned on the light. Upon inspection, decided the bedspread might not be to Andrea's liking, but they could fix that when she arrived and they could shop around. However, there was dust all over the vanity, so he went down to the laundry room, where he kept his cleaning supplies, and grabbed the cleaning wipes, Windex and paper towels. Once he returned to the guest room, he cleaned up the vanity and the bedside table. He didn't want his daughter staying in a messy, dusty room. Once the room was to his satisfaction, he went back to his room to check on the boys.

"Anyone hungry?"

Both boys nodded, so he led them downstairs and he got started on dinner. As he cooked, he could sense their anxiety over what had happened to their mom today.

"Your mom's going to be all right. The nurse said this happens once in a while. They're doing everything they can to make sure she's all right and will let us know if there's any change."

"Promise?" Tom asked.

"I promise."

"Cross your heart?" Fred asked.

Alec allowed himself a little crack of a smile. Fred could always break through his tough exterior with questions like that.

"Cross my heart, Freddy. She's going to be just fine. Now, who wants to help me with dinner?"

Tom volunteered and Fred sat at the table watching. Within twenty minutes, dinner was ready and they were all happily eating. Once all the dishes were in the dishwasher, he took the boys upstairs.

"Time to get a shower, brush your teeth and get ready for bed."

He helped Fred get his bath while Tom got ready for bed in the guest bathroom.

"All right, Freddy, it's time for bed."

"Ok, daddy."

Alec never knew how to respond when Fred called him 'daddy'. On the one hand, he wasn't Fred's dad. Joe was. On the other hand, he was around their family often enough that he was like a father figure to Fred and Tom. He couldn't help smiling when he said it, though. It had been too long since he'd been called "daddy". His little girl wasn't a little girl anymore and they hadn't talked in a long time. Before now, that is. It was nice knowing someone thought of him in that way. It was also nice being needed in that way. Being a father figure to the boys had given him a reason to leave the tough police officer part of him at work.

Once he knew Fred was tucked in bed, he went to make sure Tom was ok.

"Time for bed, Tom."

"Ok, Alec. I'll be there in a minute."

"All right." Alec replied.

He returned to his room to get ready for bed. By the time he was ready for bed, Tom had already come in and gotten in bed. Fred was out like a light.

"Good night, boys. I'll see you in the morning." He said as he turned out the light and climbed into bed.

In the middle of the night, Alec heard Fred crying. He scrambled out of bed and knelt down next to him.

"It's all right, Fred. It's just a bad dream. I'm here." He said as he scooped Fred into his arms.

"Fred? You ok?" Tom asked sleepily.

"He's all right, Tom. Go on back to sleep."

"Ok."

Alec took Fred over to a chair and sat him in his lap. Rocking back and forth until he fell asleep again. Once he was certain that Fred was sound asleep again, he carried him back to bed and tucked him in. Sleep took longer coming to him this time, as he wanted to make sure he was awake if the boys needed him. Eventually, he had no choice but to surrender to the fatigue and fell asleep.

The next morning, Alec awoke before the boys. A glance at the clock told him they would wake soon, so he went to see what he could make for breakfast. He found some pancake mix and maple syrup, so he grabbed a measuring cup and a skillet. After pouring the right amount of pancake mix, he turned the burner under the skillet onto medium heat and began cooking. After cooking a few pancakes, he decided it was time to check on the boys.

"Time to wake up, boys. Let's get ready to see your mom."

Fred was the first one to respond, so Alec helped him get dressed and cut up his pancakes. Once Fred was happily eating his pancakes, he went to go check on Tom.

"Tom? Come on, Tom. It's time to wake up."

"Five more minutes."

"No, now, Tom. I have pancakes ready and yours are getting cold."

"Then you go eat them. I wanna sleep."

Taken aback by Tom's outburst, Alec was momentarily speechless.

"I won't let you talk to me that way, Tom. You don't get away with talking to your mother like that and you're not getting away with talking to me like that. Now get up and get ready for the day."

"Fine."

"Thank you. I'll go check on Fred and warm up your pancakes."

He waited a few seconds to make sure Tom really would get out of bed before going downstairs.

"All done, Freddy?"

"Yeah!"

"Let me help you put your plate away and wash your hands."

Tom came downstairs, dragging his feet every step of the way.

"Here you go, Tom. Two pancakes."

"Thanks, Alec."

"Finish quickly. Visiting hours start soon."

"Yes, sir."

Alec helped Fred wash up while Tom finished his breakfast. Once Tom was finished and had washed up, they made their way out to the car. Immediately upon parking, they took the elevator up to the third floor and over to Ellie's room. Tom crossed over to Ellie's bed.

"You gave us quite a scare yesterday, mom. Don't do that again."

To their surprise, Ellie's index finger lifted a little. It was like she was trying to raise her hand, but couldn't quite yet. Alec didn't want to alert the nurses until he knew for sure that his eyes weren't playing tricks on him.

"Ellie? Ellie, if you can hear me, try to lift your hand."

"You gave us quite a scare yesterday, mom. Don't do that again."

Tom's voice seemed to echo-almost as if she were in a well or underwater.

I'm sorry, Tom. I didn't mean to scare you.

She tried to open her eyes so she could see her sons and assure them that everything would be all right, but she couldn't.

What's going on? Why can't I open my eyes?

Tom must not have been able to hear her because he didn't reply. Why couldn't he hear her? Where was she?

"Elle?"

Alec? Where am I?

"Ellie, if you can hear me, try to raise your hand."

I can hear you Alec. I'm trying. Why can't I see you anything?

Ellie concentrated on trying to raise her hand. The last thing she remembered was being in the car with Alec. They'd had a nice dinner together and were on their way home.

Come on, hand. Lift up just a little. Come on.

It must've worked because the next thing she heard was Alec's voice.

"Good, Ellie. Tom, stay with Fred. I'll be right back."

Where are you going? Where am I?

She could feel panic rising up in her and she tried to fight through it.

Now isn't the time. I have to figure out where I am. I have to make sure Tom and Fred are all right.

The next voice she heard wasn't one she recognized.

"Looks like she's coming out of it. Keep talking to her."

"Mom, it's Tom. You gotta wake up now."

Tom. I'm trying, Tom. Where are we? Where's Fred?

"Mommy, wake up."

Freddy, there you are. Mommy's ok.

She tried to focus on her sons' voices and wake up. It took all of her energy, but after a few minutes of trying, she started to see colors. A few blinks later, she started to make out shapes that gradually came into focus. Tom's blonde hair was the first thing she saw followed by Alec's face. She cast her eyes down a bit and was able to see Fred standing in front of Tom.

"Tom. Fred. Alec." She whispered.

"Mom!"

"Mommy!"

"My boys."

"Ms. Miller, I'm Dr. Anderson. You're in the hospital. Do you remember what happened?"

"I was…in a car…with Alec. We…we were on a date. We were going home."

"Yes. Do you remember anything else?"

"No. Just…just being in the car."

It was clear that Ellie was frustrated that she couldn't remember.

"It's all right, El." Alec said. "Do you want me to tell you what happened?"

"Please."

"We were…we were in a car accident. A car hit your side of my car and you went unconscious. I called 911 and they brought you here in an ambulance. I've been taking care of Tom and Fred the past couple of days"

"How…how long?"

"2 days."

"That's enough questions for now. Ms. Miller, we're going to run some tests in a bit to see how you're doing. I'll be back in a few minutes to get you for a CAT scan."

As soon as Dr. Anderson left, Alec turned to the boys.

"Let's move those chairs over here." He said.

Within a minute, they were all seated in their chairs by Ellie's bed.

As promised, Dr. Anderson came back in and wheeled Ellie out of the room.

"Why do they need another scan?" Tom asked.

"To see how her brain is healing. Once they see how her brain is doing, then they can determine what the next step is."

Tom nodded and Fred moved over to sit in Alec's lap. Now, all they could to do was wait for Ellie to come back.