Author's Note: Hello! This is a collaboration piece I wrote with Aislin (awesomeaislin). I had a lot of fun helping to write it; she is an awesome author and collab partner. Anyways, happy reading! Thoughts and feedback in reviews and PMs are welcome. Have a great evening!
"It's all my fault. It's all my fault," Happy repeats over and over again like a mantra as she waits in the waiting room to see if Toby is okay. Paige keeps telling her that she needs to be hopeful, and god, is she trying.
She is desperate to forget the blood. She has never been fond of human injury. The sight of blood has always made her squeamish, but now she thinks she would give anything to never see Toby that hurt, that helpless, again. She wants the image to be erased from her mind, but as a genius, she guesses you can't unring a bell.
Happy pulls her knees to her chest and buries her face into her legs. Paige can see that she is beginning to shut down. She starts to move a comforting hand off of Ralph's head and toward Happy, but Tim, of all people, shoots her a look as if to say, 'You look after the others. I got this.'
He sits next to Happy and places a cautious hand on her shoulder. She doesn't move at all. Instead, she snaps, "Don't touch me."
"Happy," he coaxes while taking his hand off her. "Toby is going to be okay."
"You don't know that," she mutters.
"You're right." Tim smiles weakly.
She's trying not to cry now, but the tears start falling before she can even recognize it. As they fall, Happy collapses into herself. Her face contorts into a depiction of pure despair, and the fear and worry from the past hours consume her. Tim and Paige both sit against the wall, one on either side of Happy. Tim places a gentle hand on Happy's shoulder, while Paige envelopes Happy in a warm, soothing embrace. Desperate for comfort, Happy buries her head in Paige and continues to cry out her stress and apprehension for her boyfriend. As she cries, Paige and Tim exchange a silent glance; they are unsure how to handle the fallout of losing Toby. They are as fearful of the news that the doctor might have on their resident psychiatrist as Happy seems to be.
Happy prays to whatever God or powerful being that is out there, praying for her boyfriend and best friend like she never has before. 'Let him be okay. I don't know what I would do if he left me… Please, just give me the chance to say what I have wanted to but have been too afraid to do. Dear God, please don't take him. I love him, God. Don't take Toby from me.' And with this, Happy slips further into Paige's embrace, eventually falling into an exhausted and fitful sleep.
Walter is not sure if he has ever seen Happy cry, so it takes a minute for his mind to accept that this is really happening. They are really in a hospital, a hospital that is trying to save their friend, and Happy is breaking down, or she was. Now, she is in some sort of... It's – he is forced to use the word – strange that he cannot remember the technical term for it. If Toby were here, he would laugh at how Walter couldn't remember it, and then he would make a show of how much more he knows than "Mr. 197". Maybe Happy would even smile at that.
But, Walter sadly recognizes, Toby isn't here. If the Doc was healthy right now, Sylvester wouldn't be shaking in a corner gripping Ralph's hand. Ralph would not be holding the shiny deck of cards with famous scientists instead of suits that Toby had given him for his birthday in his tiny hands as tightly as he possibly could. Then, Happy definitely would not have collapsed into some kind of hug from the "superhuman-relations couple" Paige and Tim. Well, they aren't officially a couple, but Walter believes they are close enough to being one. Toby would tell him that he still has a chance – that Walter has to chase after what he wants. He might even get that goofy grin on his face as he mentions that it definitely worked for him. No, if Toby was well, none of Team Scorpion would be present in this sad, unwelcome reality that they are forced to deal with.
The team didn't even notice when Doctor Bordeaux, the physician who had been treating Toby since his admittance hours before, had walked over and held a serious, whispered conversation with Cabe in a corner of the ER waiting room at St. Catherine's Medical Center. After a few minutes, the physician had turned around and slowly and quietly walked back through the ER doors to the operating wing.
With the doctor's departure, Cabe sinks down into the nearest chair and mentally assesses the injury report that the doctor had given him about Toby: multiple bruised and broken ribs; rope burns on his arms, neck, forehead, and legs; a broken left ankle; a severely sprained right wrist; a deep gash on the front right side of Toby's head near his temple; and several small fractures in the cartilage of the larynx from the strangulation attempt by Collins that could cause permanent damage to Toby's voice. And, Cabe sadly thinks, that didn't include many bruises and scratches Toby had all over his body from the abuse he endured while held captive by Collins nor did it take account of the damage caused by a couple of bullets that had grazed the Doc in the fight to break him out.
Cabe does not know whether or not to tell the team about the status of Toby's injuries. Sure, they deserve to know that their loud-mouthed doctor may never talk again if he even lived through the night, but he should not worry them with that detail now. So, the federal agent and surrogate "father" to Team Scorpion stands up and quietly strolls over to Happy. He kneels down and puts a comforting hand on the mechanic's knee. She looks down at him; the look in her eyes screams that she is anxious for information about the status of her boyfriend's health and wellbeing.
"They're doing all they can. Nothing is for sure yet." She nods tersely in response. "It's not your fault, kid," Cabe promises her.
"It is my fault," she counters softly but sure of herself. He can see that the guilt she feels is eating her alive, from the inside out. Happy is fully convinced that she hurt Toby; if he had not gone ring shopping, he might not have ended up in this mess. 'It's because I loved him that he is hurt and possibly dying alone in some operating room at this very moment,' the petite genius thought mournfully. Cabe gradually lowers himself in a chair next to Paige, and Sly and Ralph move to sit across from them. Even Walter shifts a little bit so that their small family can be together.
"Your IQ may be higher, but I'm older," Cabe tells her with a quiet confidence. "Besides, when has the Doc ever left you alone?" Happy looks up at him with the tiniest spark of newfound hope present in her tearful, red-rimmed eyes.
"Do you remember that time when Toby stayed at the garage for three days straight just because you said that you weren't going to leave until you finished your project?" Sylvester smiles a little bit. Happy shifts her gaze to him.
"I ended up not finishing that project because he wouldn't stop bothering me," Happy whispers, but the group can hear her just fine. "He was always bothering me."
"My favorite was the first time you met." Happy regards Walter's comment with a curious look.
"I called him stupid," Happy's frown twitches upwards slightly.
"He came into your workspace to introduce himself to you, and you said, 'Hey, idiot, if you don't move, this wrench will be lodged in your neck faster than you can say help.' Toby, never knowing when enough is enough, said, 'Actually, you can't lodge a wrench in someone's neck. I should know I'm a doc-'." Walter pauses to grin. "I think Toby had bruises for three weeks."
"Served him right," Happy's voice cracks as she says it, but the team can see that even she is starting to feel a little bit better.
"I think my favorite memory is when you were babysitting me that one time," Ralph squeaks. He's tiny and timid, but he is talking, and right now that is what matters. "Toby and I managed to convince you that we should do each other's makeup, and you rolled your eyes and called Toby an idiot, but agreed nonetheless."
"That was only because you were asking, Ralph," Happy interrupts.
"So Toby got to do your makeup, and you got to do mine, and we both got to do Toby's," Ralph continues. "We made him look ridiculous, but he pranced around your apartment and modeled it for us, and he put on music he could strut to. He even dragged you into dancing with him, and I thought it was funny, and I know you would never admit it, but you were happy."
"What about the time when Toby got Sylvester to go to a karaoke bar with him," Paige starts off her favorite story. Soon they are all laughing, and it isn't much, but it is a start. And they shouldn't really be laughing at all. They are in a terrible situation. Their best friend is in the hospital, possibly dying, and they are in a fit of giggles in the waiting room. But, somehow they know Toby would not be opposed to this.
Happy decides it is time for her to share one of her favorite stories of Toby next. As long as they are all trying to comfort themselves with the past, she feels she may as well help. "On the night Toby lost his fiancée, he was a wreck. We were friends, or our version of friends anyway, so I wasn't surprised when he showed up at my apartment." She starts out her story speaking quietly, but her voice grows louder with each word. "He was this drunk, rambling mess, and I wasn't exactly the most sympathetic person."
Everyone is listening to Happy when the doctor enters the room. Even the doctor starts to listen in, not wanting to interrupt. She thinks she's witnessing something special, and she is. "I told him that you can't expect anything from people. People will always take advantage of people like us. People will always leave us. And he…" Her voice cracks as she speaks. "He completely turned on me. And the crazy shrink started to scream at the top of his lungs about how important and special I was. He busted out of my apartment and ran down the streets of L.A., ranting to anyone and everyone about how they should never let me down because it wouldn't be fair."
"And after that, we were best friends." She grins because she realizes, finally, that she has all these memories that make her feel better. For the first time in her life, she has something to hope for.
It was at this realization that the doctor decides to step in and update the group on Toby's condition. "Hello, all," the physician greets the group quietly. It was after three o'clock in the morning, so the doctor spoke in a soft, gentle tone as to not wake the two or three individuals dozing in an otherwise empty visitor's lounge.
The group gives their full attention to the doctor, Happy jumping up first, hoping and praying that any news the doctor brings is of a more positive nature than previous updates.
"Hello," the doctor states once more, her French accent becoming more apparent with each word. "For those whom I have yet to personally speak with, my name is Doctor Adélaïde Bordeaux. I have been one of the physicians who has cared for Doctor Curtis since he was admitted yesterday afternoon."
Happy's eyebrows rise at the mention of her boyfriend in his "official" capacity. "How did you know my boyfriend was a doctor, might I ask?"
The Frenchwoman gives the mechanical genius a small, amused grin. "Agent Gallo was kind enough to inform me of your boyfriend's…noteworthy traits and achievements following his admittance. His words, verbatim, were: 'This is a Harvard-trained physician and genius psychiatrist. If anything less than perfect care is given, I will be the first one you'll have to answer to.'"
Happy laughs at this image, knowing that Cabe would do anything to protect his "kids".
"In any case," the doctor continues, "we had to put in screws in Doctor Curtis' left ankle and we treated the burns that covered his body. I personally sewed up the gash on his head; thankfully, the wound was not as deep as I'd initially feared. Doctor Curtis will be in pain for some time because of his sprained wrist, broken ankle, and his injured ribs, but with careful movements and medications, his pain should be manageable. We finished with his surgery a few minutes ago. He is asleep now and will be taken to his room shortly."
Happy sighs at this piece of good news but was not prepared for what the doctor does next. "Now…" the doctor begins cautiously. Paige takes Happy's hand into hers; Happy, so scared for what she might hear, allows Paige to do so without one word of complaint.
The doctor draws in a deep breath before she begins. "Now, please know that we have provided the best care possible for your friend and are doing all we can to make sure he makes a full recovery. He is strong, young, and has no previous health problems, so physically for his external injuries, he should recover from those with flying colors."
Growing impatient, Happy says, "Yes, Doctor. I am aware of that. But?"
The doctor nods before she continues, taking on a more personal and seemingly cautious tone to the conversation. "When Doctor Curtis…"
"His name is Toby," Happy interrupts, the picture of calm on the outside (but inside a worried mess, desperate to know what else might be wrong with her boyfriend). The doctor acknowledges the correction with a small nod of her head.
"When Toby was admitted, we noted that he had suffered several small fractures in the cartilage of his larynx, due to the strangulation attempt by his captor. We had a specialist, Doctor Wong, come in to repair as much of the damage as he could. However, the full extent of the damage to Toby's larynx is not known at this time."
"Yes? And…" Paige asks.
"And…" the doctor replies hesitantly, "there is a small chance of the damage being permanent, meaning that there is a slight possibility Toby will never be able to speak again.
"I'm sorry? What did you say?" Happy asks in breathless shock. Her heart begins to race; her breathing becomes shallow. She can hear the blood pumping through her body in response to the utter shock and panic she is feeling right now. Paige realizes that Happy is on the verge of collapsing. Cabe and Paige work together to lower Happy into the nearest chair.
"I am sorry to have to tell you that," the doctor replies, genuinely sorrowful for the mechanic. "However, Doctor Wong is one of the best in his field, and he feels that we should know in the next four to eight hours what Toby's prognosis is for his voice."
All Happy can do is try and take deep breaths, focusing on her favorite place or thing, in an effort to calm down – a technique Toby had taught her some time ago if she ever felt she was on the verge of a panic attack. He had jokingly asked her then to make sure that he was the first thing she thought of; if not, that would confirm his fears that he had to compete with Happy's tools or her motorcycle to be number one in her heart. At the time she had chuckled at the comment…but now, all it did was make her want to cry.
She buries her face in her hands. 'I'm never going to hear him talk again,' she thinks as she mulls over this terrifying reality. She had asked him to be quiet on multiple occasions, said that he was annoying her, shutting him up with kisses and whispered promises of this and that once they were within the private confines of his or her apartment. Nonetheless, she would never admit it out loud, but she loves hearing his voice whisper her a "good morning" as he press kisses to her forehead; quiet "I love you's" given at night before she falls asleep; the corny jokes and silly stories he tells her when she is feeling down or worn out after a rough day at work.
To her, his voice is something like a sweet melody; it is warm, soothing, and a constant comfort. Without it, she would be lost. His voice is a part of him, a part that she dearly loves, and though Happy would rather have him here with her, she prays to whatever God is out there that Toby is restored to her completely.
Happy is so lost in thought, she doesn't notice the doctor depart. Paige glances at the clock. It is 4:30 in the morning; the team has been in the hospital for almost 16 hours. Ralph and Sly have dozed off, Ralph's head snuggled into the crook of Sly's elbow. Walter is attempting to read a recent issue of Popular Mechanics, and Cabe is on the phone, updating Deputy Director Katherine Cooper on Toby's situation. Paige notes that Tim is nowhere to be found. 'Must've gone on another coffee run,' Paige presumes. She sits there a few moments longer before she realizes that Happy is sitting there staring at her, her head up and shoulders set straight.
"Are you okay, Happy?" Paige gently inquires.
"I need to see him," Happy replies.
"Happy, I don't think…" Paige tries to respond but is cut off by a curt reply from her genius colleague.
"No," Happy states adamantly, her tone of voice leaving zero room for discussion. "I need to be with him, be there when he wakes up. He can't be alone when he wakes up. It's my job…I have to be there…I have to." Happy's voice falters, and for a moment Paige wonders if the mechanical engineer is about to cry again. However, after a few deep breaths, Happy stands up and walks past the team, heading towards the nurses' station. Paige has no idea what Happy might do, so she jumps up and dashes over to the nurses' desk.
"Excuse me, Nurse…Allison?" Happy asks. A pretty redhead, who looked to be about 25 or so, glances up from some paperwork she was working on.
"Yes, Miss Quinn? How may I help you?" the nurse, Allison, asks.
"What room is Doctor Tobias M. Curtis assigned to?" After a quick search, Allison relays that Toby is assigned to a room on the fourth floor, right around the corner from the intensive care wing.
"Okay, thank you," Happy replies. And with that, she does a 180-degree turn, intent on going through the doors of the adjacent wing to take an elevator to the aforementioned floor.
"Excuse me," Allison calls. "You can't go, Miss Quinn. Visiting hours aren't until 8 a.m. And even if it were the appropriate time, Doctor Bordeaux has yet to give her consent for Doctor Curtis to receive any visitors."
'That was the wrong thing to say,' Paige realizes. She observes Happy slowly turn back toward the nurses' desk, her fists balled and her eyes narrowing. Paige can only imagine what damage Happy might do, and not wanting Allison to end up a patient herself, Paige steps in before the situation escalates. "Allison, if you would please call Doctor Bordeaux, just to see if Happy has permission to go up. We would greatly appreciate it."
Allison appears as if she wants to argue with the two women, but one look at Happy shuts her up. Picking up the phone and dialing a few numbers, she has a hushed but hasty conversation with Doctor Bordeaux's nurse. Less than thirty seconds later, the doors are opening, and Happy dashes through them without a thank you or backwards glance. Mouthing an appreciative thank you and a quick apology to the redheaded nurse, Paige watches Happy enter the elevator to go up to room 4196.
Happy's thoughts are scattered and erratic the whole 48-second ride in the elevator. The last time she had seen Toby, he was being piled into an ambulance, and she couldn't get to him. The image of him broken and bleeding had been too much for her anyway. The mechanical genius feels guilty now. She wasn't there to support him when she should have, but she hopes she can make up for it.
She arrives outside his door, and hesitates momentarily, afraid of what is to come. Happy shakes her head. She is being ridiculous. Happy quickly opens the door and steps through before she has a chance to change her mind. And there he is, lying painfully still under snow white sheets.
Toby looks like he's been through hell and back, and, to be fair, he pretty much has. His face is slightly swollen in places. He is paler than she has ever seen him, but she has to let out a sigh of relief because that machine over there is beeping, and that means he is alive. She isn't sure if she has ever loved machines more.
She drags a chair over so that she can be as close to him as possible when he wakes up. He might not be able to talk when it ultimately happens, but she is going to comfort him. Comforting isn't exactly what she is good at, but for him, she's going to try.
Happy places her hand on Toby's face briefly. She is gentle. She doesn't want to hurt him. She knows it is insane and absurd and, frankly, illogical, but right now she feels as though any wrong touch could break him. She is not willing to risk hurting him any more than he already is at this very moment.
"I know you're asleep," she quietly whispers. "And you won't remember this, but you have to know I love you, right? I mean I'm here, and I've cried twice, and I've never said it before, but you know that I feel the same way. Right?" With this admission, she rests her head in the middle of his thigh, a place she's positive is uninjured, and drifts off to sleep.
She doesn't wake up until three hours later when Toby begins to stir and starts trying to use his voice. The specialist – Happy doesn't remember his name because she doesn't care – is in the room and is frantically trying to get the Doc to stop. He warns Toby repeatedly that he might make the situation worse by trying to speak.
Happy sits up to look at Toby. He smiles weakly when he sees her. "Ha-" he creaks slowly, and it sounds painful. She grimaces and turns to the doctor.
"I'll take care of it," she promises. The doctor gives her a tight, unbelieving smile as he makes his exit.
Toby makes the weird creaking sound again, and he seems to be pretty panicked. Then again, who wouldn't be? "Toby, calm down. If you're quiet and you listen, I can explain everything to you." Happy places her hand in his, and he squeezes once to tell her yes.
"You got hurt a lot," she simply states. He gives her a look as if to say, 'No, really? I had no idea.'
"Oh, stop," she snaps but her words have none of their normal bite behind it. "Your ankle is broken; your wrist is severely sprained; your ribs are injured and you had a deep cut on your head…but all of that is definitely okay. The main issue, though, is from when he tried to strangle you. That bastard hurt your voice. The doctors are going to find out if it will be okay soon."
He nods silently and gestures for her to come and lie in the bed with him. "Toby, I can't." He pouts. "Doc, you're seriously injured. I'll hurt you." He shakes his head profusely, and moves over so that she can fit. The behavioral psychiatrist tries to hold back his wince at the movement. She rolls her eyes and moves in next to him. The male genius takes a deep breath and opens his mouth as if he is about to say something.
"Toby, the doctors say you aren't allowed to talk," Sylvester interrupts as the rest of the team enters the room unannounced and semi-uninvited. Happy attempts to hold down the awkwardness she's starting to feel at being this close to the center of attention, which in this moment is Toby.
Ralph tells Toby all about how his odds of recovering his voice are really 'quite promising.' Toby ruffles Ralph's hair and mouths thank you at him. No one is sure whether or not he actually tried to speak and nothing came out or otherwise, but they don't question it. Paige assures the behavioral psychiatrist that they were all worried about him, even Happy. Toby grins a little.
The team stays in the room for about an hour until the specialist comes back in, needing to run tests on Toby's voice. That doctor finally shoos them out. Toby insists, silently of course, that Happy stay with him. She grudgingly agrees, but on the inside, she is more than a little relieved that she doesn't have to leave him.
The tests take far too long in Happy's opinion. They involve a lot of pressing hands into Toby's neck and examining his throat, and, let's be honest, Happy doesn't trust anyone to put their hands around the behaviorist's neck after the past couple of days.
The doctor actually smiles when he tells them that Toby is going to make a full recovery, and Happy smiles too. She actually can't stop smiling because everything is okay again. Sure, he will need time to get better, but her boyfriend and best friend is going to be okay. The doctor leaves almost immediately after he gives the geniuses the good news.
"Happy," Toby croaks slowly. She can tell he is anxious to get something out, but she thinks she might be a little bit more desperate.
"Shhh, Toby," she hushes him. "I have something to say, and I need you to listen." She climbs back onto the bed with him, and he wraps his good arm around her. He struggles to plant a kiss on the side of her head, but grins as he accomplishes his goal.
"I was really worried about you," the mechanical engineer begins. "I…I know I don't…I can't express myself as easily as you do." He gives her a concerned look and raises his hand. She can read him well enough to know that he is telling her that she doesn't have to say anything she's not ready to.
"I nearly lost you," she finally admits. "I…You would have died without ever hearing something that I've been trying to find ways to tell you for…a long time. In all sorts of ways, I tried to tell you that…" She pauses to regain her bearings and take a deep breath. "I love you." His eyes widen and he cannot control the embarrassingly excited squeak that leaves his mouth.
"I…love…you…too," he rasps.
"Yeah, but I already knew that, you idiot."