"Some things you have to do yourself."
As the days wore and the days turned into a week, Sandy seemed to be improving. The doctor was again excited about his recovery and even though he was still in a coma he would on occasion respond to their simple requests, like squeezing her hand, or a small smile when someone said something funny.
He had heard them. He heard all of them, their soft goodbyes, even though they were doing what Kirsten claimed to be a coping mechanism, "Denial is a very effective coping mechanism." He wanted to reach out and touch her face softly and say, "Honey, Da Nile is a river in Egypt," but his brain wasn't functioning properly and someone had placed two-ton weights on his eyelids. He wanted to sob when he heard Seth's innocent plea, and Ryan's belief in him shook him to the core. His wife's was just plain heartbreaking. He couldn't take this, but his body was still hurting so much. He wanted a steady morphine drip. Truthfully however, he would be able to handle everything if he could just wake up and see everyone.
When she went home from the hospital that night Ryan was sitting on the couch with a book in his lap halfway studying and halfway watching Seth play his game console. The boys greeted her with hello and told her that there was Chinese in the fridge. She sat down close to Ryan and watched Seth yell excitedly as he beat a level. She smiled and reached down and ruffled his hair.
"You look like shit. You should get some sleep."
Seth laughed out loud before he looked at her sheepishly.
To both of their surprise she laughed with them and told them she would take him up on his offer and walked up the steps to go into their bedroom, but Ryan stopped her.
"I just want to make sure you're okay," he whispered softly his eyes full of concern and love for her.
She smiled at him. Always the savior, always trying to make sure everyone was fine. He had really stepped up to the plate since the accident, taking over her husbands place as the supporter. She knew how he felt about Sandy. When he wasn't paying attention she watched how he looked at her husband, even at her. His expressions showed nothing but awe, admiration, gratitude and appreciation it decorated his face when either of them walked into the room. This was hard on him too, and he was just checking to make sure that she wasn't going to break down, whether he would admit it to himself or not, he relied on them on their guidance and love. And right now the invincible twosome lost a valuable member.
"I'm fine, are you okay?"
He nodded his head.
"Okay," she whispered and she reached up and ruffled his hair. "Goodnight sweetie."
"Goodnight," he called watching her go.
When Ryan returned he and Seth stayed up playing games talking softly to each other.
"She seems okay…"
"Just keep an eye on her Seth."
Seth looked at Ryan like he was foolish but shrugged his shoulders and they continued their friendly banter back and forth.
Later that night when they had finished eating and he thought his mother was out of earshot, Seth took a turn.
"What if he dies Ryan? What are we going to do?
Ryan stopped tying the plastic bag, obviously taken off guard, and Kirsten leaned against the doorframe, out of sight, listening.
"I don't know… We'll get through it together. That's the only part I'm sure of."
She smiled at how thoughtful he was.
"What about if he comes home, what if he's like a different person?"
"Of course he's going to be different."
"It's been so weird without him. You know? I wish he hadn't played hero."
"Yeah Seth. You know cause he really wanted to take that bullet. He probably held up a neon sign, saying Shoot Me Here! Christ Seth, he was protecting your mom. I would have done the same."
"You always play hero," Seth muttered.
"I do what I think is right to protect people…cause no one ever did it for me," he looked at him, anger flushing his normally quiet features. Sandy was the one person who made it okay for him for once in his life. He was the one person who didn't raise his hand to him, or yell obscenities. He stood behind him in most of his decisions, bad or good, and guided him. He stood behind him proudly when he couldn't tie his own tie and was embarrassed to ask for help. He didn't hesitate reaching around straightening up his collar and stood there for a few moments just smiling at him.
Sandy took a chance with him and Ryan would be there for him. In truth, if Sandy said jump, Ryan would ask how high.
"You know something Seth. You really don't know how good you got it. How good you've had it your whole life. Your mom never laid a hand on you; she barely has ever raised her voice your way. Your dad never raised his hand to you; both of them have shown you nothing but affection. It's nice to come home to a family that you don't have to defend yourself against, especially when at school maybe that's all I did there too. So stop being such a little bitch. Grow up, and face what comes your way with him. Because I will."
Seth looked at him wide-eyed. He didn't really realize in his slight babblings that he was still thinking of himself and not his father.
"When did you become so expertise in family values?"
"Oh Jesus Christ Seth. I'm done talking to you about this," he sighed.
"You're right Ryan. Sorry."
"Don't apologize to me. Think a little Seth, maybe about others for once. He's your dad. Even if he and Kirsten are fighting there isn't anything they won't do for you, or me."
Ryan walked past him and gave him a look, dragging the garbage outside. Kirsten quietly walked away from the scene, watching as Seth stalked off angrily. She suspected that his anger was from being so scared.
Walking into her empty bedroom, sometime during the days that had blurred by Rosa had cleaned up Sandy's shorts, and clothes that had been tossed about. She frowned slightly as she changed her clothes for she was facing another endless night alone. Every time she found herself sound asleep she would reach for him and the emptiness would wake her up. It was if her mind didn't want to believe that he was away. 'Seventeen years of reaching for someone and succeeding, well I guess you just don't forget it overnight,' her conscious reminded her. Just like it had reminded her she was lucky, still lucky because he was still alive. She pulled back the covers and climbed in. She could still smell him on the sheets and his pillow. She pulled his pillow close to her body and inhaled him. This would have to do for now.
The nurse that had been attending to Sandy, Janna, was humming to herself, during her routine vital check when he awoke in a blind panic. Literally. She rushed to his side, holding down his hands so that he didn't pull out his I.V, or stitches.
"Easy there ma' dear," she whispered. "Focus, Focus, now. Atta' boy, Der you go handsome. Easy now."
Sandy awoke to a bright unfamiliar room. He did what anyone would do. He panicked. His vitals shot up ringing off alarms, when he jerked pain roared up his chest and his arm, where the I.V was.
"Hey there hon-ay, It's a'ight, we gon getcha fixed up a jiffy," her foreign accent rang through his ears.
Oh God. He was dead. This was an angel or something from another world. No one spoke like that around here.
For a second he couldn't breath as fear paralyzed him. His eyes danced nervously about the room as she took his vitals and calmed him. Where? Why? Where was his family? His chest was on fire; it almost hurt to breath again.
"Now, now, you okay? Look at me here there ya go handsome. Lookie here," she said making him stare at her chocolate brown eyes. "You're in the hospital sweetie, okay, you're okay."
The hospital. The images of his wife crying ran through his brain. He remembered, and it terrified him even more. He heard Janna's words and he relaxed, just enough so she took advantage of it.
"Okay sugar, I'm gonna run and get the doctor, mmm-kay, just relax. You're okay. My names Janna, sweetie, okay? I'll be right back."
He reached out and placed a shaky hand on her arm. "Where's my wife?"
"Oh sugar, she's at home honey. Its three am, now you hang tight, be back in a flip."
He sighed. Okay. Okayokayokay. No. Not it wasn't okay, he wanted to cry right now.
Alex Rudley breezed into his hospital room, excited. "Mr. Cohen, you gave us all a scare. How do you feel, other than disoriented? Lets go over some things," he stated as he started listening to his heartbeat and his lungs. He asked if anything was tender when he pushed on it. Sandy literally felt fine, to the sense. He groaned softly when the doctor placed his hands on his chest. He didn't want this guy, or this nurse, who was keen on him and kept calling him sugar, honey, and any other candy name she could think of. He just wanted his wife, his boys. He wanted to lay on the couch with her, and watch Seth play, play station while babbling to Ryan. He wanted to reach out affectionately and ruffle Ryan's hair, while Kirsten smiled. He was scared. He just wanted familiarity.
"Doc, Please, can you call my wife?" His blue-green eyes pleaded with him. Begged. PLEADED.
The doctor smiled at him, breaking a hospital policy, but he reached for the phone dialed the number for him and handed the phone to Sandy.
The phone rang at three-thirty in the morning. Her brain thought the worst.
She felt panic-stricken when she reached for the handset, took a deep breath and prepared herself for the worst.
"Hello?" She asked weakly.
"Hey honey, if it's not to much to ask, do you think you could come see me," his tired voice spoke softly on the phone. "Please?"
She smiled through her tears, "In a heartbeat."
Kirsten woke both boys telling them the news, and they both jumped to their feet and got dressed quickly. However the boys weren't going to stay long. They needed to get to school both had tests in at least three classes. But they needed to see Sandy. They drove separately, the boys taking the BMW.
Walking in the room, they looked at him apprehensively. He looked like he was sleeping, but when he heard the door open he opened his eyes in disarray. He smiled weakly at them, "Hey guys!"
Ryan broke into a huge grin, as did Seth. Kirsten's eyes brimmed with tears.
Ryan was the first to find his voice, "Hey yourself, stranger."
Sandy broke into a grin, and they crossed over to the bed. Seth was the first to lean down and hug his father. "Hey dad," he whispered softly. Sandy's arms reached up and gently held the boy close for a moment.
He felt home. Ryan was next and did so with a huge grin. He pulled back and it was Kirsten's turn. She managed a small smile and her bottom lip trembled. He smiled up at her knowingly, she crossed the distance, placing a small kiss on his forehead before leaning down and kissing his lips.
"I missed you guys," he said as he watched Seth cross over to the other side and sit down on his bed. Kirsten and Ryan followed suit on the side that they were on.
"Dad, we missed you too, Mom was trying the corny jokes and Ryan was semi upbeat and happy, not brooding. He danced around in black socks for entertainment!" Seth babbled.
The smile that was evident on his face mirrored everyone's in the room. "Ryan, I hope they weren't mine," he whispered weakly.
"Of course, I'm not going to ruin my own socks!"
Kirsten smiled at Ryan and ruffled his hair. Seth grinned. Sandy smiled and then yawned. He was so tired. Seth and Ryan looked at each other, and then the clock, it was a quarter to four. "Dad, sorry to cut this short, but Ryan and I are going to head out, you're tired and you probably want some 'mom' time, so to speak.
He smiled at his boys toexhausted to argue, "Kay, I love you guys.
Surprisingly both of them yelled back, "Love you too."
Kirsten walked them out of the hospital, "Be careful driving home."
"We will." And like that, they were gone.
She thought for a second he was sleeping when she walked back into his room. His eyes had been closed and his dark hair was every direction other than straight. He must have sensed her because he smiled and opened his eyes, looking in her direction. His face was a pale, eyes showing exhaustion; he was struggling to stay up for her. He patted the bed beside him. Her eyes welled up with tears and she sat on the bed near him. She looked at him apprehensively but he calmed her fears, reached over and lovingly ran the back of his hand against her cheek. She leaned into his touch placing her hand over his, and he pulled her closer and kissed her lips softly.
"Beautiful," he said softly looking at her, "Such a sight for sore eyes."
She could only imagine what a sight she truly was.
"I was scared baby," he whispered so softly, "I woke up and …" he trailed off looking at her like a little boy. Sandy looked lost.
"I love you," she whispered, reassuring him the only way she knew.
He closed his eyes and bit his bottom lip "I love you too, so much." She kissed him again, leaning her forehead against his.
Closer. The need to be closer was adamant.
He moved his weary body over a little bit, groaning as he shifted his weight but he tugged at her hand, begging her to join him.
She looked wide-eyed at him and was hesitant. "Kirsten, I know you haven't slept. Come on," he said tenderly, knowing her sleeping habits mirrored his when she wasn't there.
Truthfully he was shaken and he just wanted the safety of her beside him. Calming him.
She looked at him the fatigue evident on his tired face and then eased herself against him, his arm wrapping around her, holding her closely to him. His blue-green eyes closed and he sighed quietly.
She was nervous against him and he grasped her hand, guiding it over his wound to his heart. She could feel the heat radiating from it as her hand passed over it. "You're not gonna hurt me, relax baby."
"I was scared, Sandy. I was so scared," she confessed to him.
"I know honey. I heard everything. Even when I couldn't respond, I still heard you and I'm sorry. I'm sorry I couldn't protect you from that." He kissed her forehead and she closed her eyes.
"Its okay. You're okay. That's all that matters to me. My boys are safe," she whispered.
"I missed you," his deep voice rumbled softly.
She can only nod as a tear slips down her cheek. "Oh God Sandy, you have no idea."
He smiled weakly, closing his eyes, taking pleasure in her closeness. "I love you Kirsten. I love you and I can't leave you, not with Jimmy Cooper out there."
She chuckled, "Only you would be thinking of Jimmy Cooper right now."
"Actually the only thing I'm thinking of would probably kill me cause I don't have the strength to keep up…"
She nudged him tenderly with a smile.
"Oh honey, don't think I don't know how your mind works, you've been trying to jump my bones since I got in this place," he protested faintly.
He pressed a kiss into her hair, resting there, inhaling her scent. "Beautiful, you're so beautiful."
She closed her eyes. She too, was home.
Six days later Sandy was released from the hospital with the follow up the subsequent week.
For a month and four days Kirsten had laid in their bed alone. She hadn't slept much. Tonight at least she could look at him while he slept, which he was surely about to do. She could reach out for him in her sleep. She could hold his hand, listen to him breath. She could rest in his arms; savor the fact that he was alive, and safe against her. He was leaning against the window of the Rover his eyes were closed, but a small smile played upon his lips.
Walking in the mansion he was greeted by his two boys who gave him gentle hugs, trying not to hurt him. They were fierce but gentle hug that made sure they knew how much he was actually missed. Jimmy, Julie, Caleb, Marissa and Summer had stopped by. Everyone was glad to see him, even Caleb was civil and joked around with him instead of sneering. He leaned on Kirsten, an arm around her waist supporting his weight some. He looked at her and she was smiling as she talked to her dad. He leaned over and placed a tender kiss on her forehead and disengaged from her. She looked up at him and watched as he retreated to the kitchen where he was surprised to find Ryan.
He eyed him, looking for a sign but Sandy just lumbered in and plopped in a chair.
"Exhausted huh?" Ryan asked quietly.
Sandy looked over wearily, using 'the look', and a yawn to hopefully convey just how he felt.
"You want me to help you up the stairs and to bed?" he asked almost hopefully.
"Sure kid, that would be great. I just can't stand up anymore, I'm dead on my feet."
Ryan grabbed hold of one arm as they slowly went up the stairs. He led Sandy over to the bed and let go, watching as he slowly eased himself on the mattress, sighing in relief.
"Thanks son," he smiled faintly. "I feel horrible for not being as strong as I normally am."
Ryan just nodded. He didn't know whether to go or to stay. He would have liked to stay and talk, or just watch TV.
He shoved his hands in his pockets, "Do you uh, do you want me to leave?"
"I'd like it if you could keep me company for a while. Kirsten's going to be pissed I left her and didn't say anything. You may have to protect me from her," he closed his eyes.
Ryan eased himself on the bed near Sandy, crossing his legs sitting Indian style. "Hey you want me to go get anything, something to drink or something?"
"Water would be good," he said softly.
Ryan took off on his quest to get a bottle of water for himself and Sandy. On his way downstairs he ran into Seth who asked where he had been.
"I helped Sandy upstairs, he's tired, and so we're watching TV and hanging out." Ryan was still leery of Seth since he had somewhat flipped out on him but if he was willing to let bygones be bygones than so was he.
"Oh, hey good idea let me grab Summer. We'll be up."
Ryan looked at Seth, shrugged and walked back up the stairs. He handed Sandy the bottle of water and got comfortable on the bed. A few moments later both Seth and Summer joined them, making themselves comfortable around him. Sandy raised an eyebrow, "You guys don't have to be up here just cause of me."
"Ew Mr. Cohen, we want to be here. We all missed you, you know? Summer bluntly pointed out.
He smiled. Leave it to Summer, she always said what was on her mind. "Mmm-Kay," he mumbled leaning back against headboard, watching the movie they had picked out. Both Ryan and Seth were leaning on Sandy and he welcomed their closeness. He shifted and put his arms around both his boys they had settled against him contentedly. Ryan was actually sound asleep. Both Summer and Seth had long ago fallen asleep as well. Sandy was struggling to stay awake, it was then when Kirsten entered the room and gazed upon the site before her.
"Sandy, God, I was . . .." she stopped when she saw the boys sleeping and Summer. He looked up at her a bashful grin played upon his tired face.
"Hey," he whispered.
"Hi…they're all sleeping," her voice was awed.
He looked over the kids and nodded.
She eased herself on the bed, the movement waking Summer even though she had tried to be careful, and she groggily sat up.
"Hey sweetie," Kirsten said softly, her hand reaching out, sweeping a stray strand of hair away from her face.
"Do I have to go?"
"No baby, hold on a second," she whispered as she leaned over and got herself comfortable, placing an arm around the girl. To her slight surprise Summer curled up against Kirsten like she was her own daughter. She smiled and ran her hand lovingly through her hair and was rewarded with a soft, "Thank you, Mrs. Cohen."
"No problem sweetie," she pressed soft kiss onto her forehead and she looked over to see Sandy smiling at her. He mouthed 'I love you.' Through the disarray of children, his hand found hers.
She mouthed it back to him.
At some point in the wee early hours of the AM Ryan awoke. He was slightly disoriented until he realized they had all fallen asleep in the safe arms of Sandy. Summer was curled up against Kirsten. Now this would be the perfect picture. He managed to disentangle himself from Sandy's grasp, and woke Seth and Summer without waking either parent. He was proud of himself. They crept out of their rooms, Seth and Summer going into his and Ryan crashed in the guestroom, to tired to walk out to the pool house.
Sandy shifted in his sleep facing away from his wife, as his conscious mind told his body that would be the safest position without pain. She however felt the lack of warmth from the sudden loss of bodies on the bed and reached out for Sandy. She pulled her body close to his wrapping an arm over his warm body and his hand covered hers. Finally her wish had been granted, she could reach out for him and actually find his warm body, not just empty cold space. She smiled into his shoulder blade, he was home, and everything was going to be fine.
"I love you Sanford Cohen, but if you ever pull a stunt like that again, I'll shoot you myself."
She felt him chuckle and whisper, "I love you too, pumpkin muffin."
She fell asleep with a smile on her face.
He was home and safe, her boys were safe, and finally everything was going to be just fine.
I hoped you all enjoyed this. It was truly only meant to be a little drabble and it turned out more than that.
If you liked this, check out Rhyme or Reason, apparently people don't think it's too shabby either :o)
Thanks for the reviews!