Thank you for all wonderful reviews...I'm so happy that you keep reading the story. Also a BIG thank you to Misty who keeps being the most awesome beta reader there is and is always there for me when I need her. THANK U GIRL! Okay now on with the story ...

The first time Ryan wakened a white angel sat beside him, patting his face and asking him to wake up.

Confused and dizzy he asked, "Am I dead?"

The angel looked at him, then smiled, "No honey." She stroked the sweaty bangs away from his forehead. "But you're very sick and need all the rest you can get."

'Good,' he thought while closing his eyes again. 'Now I can sleep.'

The second time he woke up a woman was sitting by his side reading a book.

"Kirsten?" he asked his voice no more than a whisper.

The woman immediately put her book down on her lap and turned her attention to him.

"Oh hey Ryan. It's good to see you awake." She seemed genuinely pleased.

Ryan blinked. Who was she? What was she doing in his pool house?

"You're not Kirsten?" he asked slowly while trying to get the cobwebs to leave his head.

"No honey, I'm Liza and I'll be looking after you while you're here in ICU."

Nurse? ICU? This woman had to be crazy. He did his best to sit up but she put her hand on his chest.

"No Ryan you need to lay still. You just had surgery and moving would be a bad idea right now."

Surgery? This was starting to sound stranger by the second, especially since he didn't hurt anywhere. Didn't you have to be very sick or hurt when you had surgery? Not like how he felt now, as if he were flying up in the clouds?

There were so many questions but Ryan felt too weak to ask any of them. Instead he blinked again, doing his best to handle the dizziness that threatened to get worse any second.

Nurse Liza must have sensed his agitation since she said, "I know it can be very confusing, almost terrifying to wake up, but that's just normal. The drugs you were given make sure you don't have to be in any pain."

Ryan looked at the woman, feeling very confused and disoriented. Drugs? He'd never used drugs, okay so he'd tried pills and pot before but never liked them. It made his head all mushy - that was a feeling he could live without. When he didn't say anything back she went on in surprise.

"Oh sweetie I didn't think of it. You don't remember what happened do you?"

Slowly Ryan shook his head a little since moving it too much made him feel dizzy. He was also starting to get very tired and his eyelids were so heavy that he had a hard time holding them up, yet he wanted so desperately to know what was wrong with him.

"You've had your appendix taken out and now you're here in ICU so we can watch you and prevent any further complications."

Complications? What complications? Ryan wanted to ask questions but suddenly just opening his mouth proved to be a too hard of a task and he mumbled tiredly. "Sleep."

Nurse Liza had to be a mind reader since she said with a light tone, "You know Ryan it would be good for you if you went back to sleep."

He nodded, closing his eyes, feeling sleep wrap up around him like a cocoon, and soon he drifted off to a restless sleep where strange dreams haunted him.

The third time Ryan woke up a man sat beside him.

A man that he knew very well.

It was Sandy.

He opened his mouth to make a noise, telling his foster father that he was awake when a sudden dizziness swept over him making him so nauseous that all he managed was a moan.

This got Sandy's immediate attention.

"Ryan?" he asked with a concern voice. "You alright? Are you in any pain? You want me to get someone?"

If he hadn't felt so bad he would've smiled at Sandy's question. As if he was in any state to answer them now. Instead he concentrated on getting the nausea to die down.

He swallowed hard - willing the contents to stay put where they belonged - in his stomach. The older man must have noticed that not everything was alright and before Ryan knew, a curved steel bowl was placed beside the pillow on the bed.

Opening his mouth to tell Sandy that everything was fine - he didn't need it, his stomach suddenly convulsed and he found himself leaning over the bedpan, heaving wildly. It all proved to be in vain and all he did was start crying, both from pain and exhaustion.

"That's it kid. Let it all out. I'm here beside you." Sandy encouraged softly, while he stroked his foster sons back soothingly. "Don't fight it."

The dry heaving was so harsh that Ryan feared he would break a vessel or even worse burst his stitches. Whimpering he finally managed to produce a small line of yellowy/green bile. His stomach hurt so much and he held it tight while lying back down on the pillow. It was embarrassing to cry but at the same time crying in front of Sandy felt rather good – not as weird as he'd thought it would be.

In the Atwood household it had never been okay to show such emotions, if you didn't include his mom's emotional breakdowns either being guilty of drinking and calling herself a bad mother or when one of her "nice" boyfriends had left her.

Ryan had learned how to bite his lip and take the beatings that the men in his mom's life provided him. They called him a pussy if he as much as whimpered, but the worst thing was that he had to show himself up as weak for his mother who needed and depended on him so much. Who else would be there cleaning up after her when Trey had taken his things and moved out of the house at sixteen years old.

Ryan could still remember the day Trey moved away from home as if it happened yesterday.

He had just come home from school and as he walked up the front path the angry voices of his mom's boyfriend and Trey could be heard all over the neighbour hood.

Ryan stiffened hesitating trying to decide if he should open the door or not. He didn't have to do because the door slammed open and his older brother rushed out from the house .Yelling that they could all fuck themselves, that he didn't give a shit about anyone and he could manage on his own.

David responded that he better get the hell out of here or he would knock him out.

Even though it was a long while ago he could still feel the fright that washed over him.

He had run towards his brother, who was bleeding from a large wound on his head. Ryan begged him to stay and not go but Trey had just shrugged Ryan's hands off. "Get away punk. I don't want to see you anymore. Leave me alone."

Ryan had cried asking him, begging him to stay with him. Not to go away but it had been futile. Totally horrified that David had forced his brother away he had gone inside the house, screaming at his mother's boyfriend. Only to be knocked around enough to have a severe concussion.

That night Ryan had cried himself to sleep.

He hadn't cried ever since; not until now...

No matter how hard he tried to stop nothing would work. It was as if all his pent up emotions wanted out and he was almost choking on the tears that rolled down his cheeks. Sandy looked devastated as if he wanted to help Ryan but couldn't find a way to do it.

"You're in that much pain kid?" his foster father asked when the teenager let out a low moan. Sandy stroked his back to sooth the pain but nothing seemed to help. He looked devastated over not being able to do anything to make Ryan feel comfortable.

Too weak to say anything Ryan nodded slowly. His stomach hurt really badly and he felt as if his whole body was burning up. The nausea lingered too, threatening to attack whenever it got a chance. All in all he felt very miserable.

Closing his eyes he willed himself to get some rest but he was feeling way too uncomfortable and instead moved on restlessly until Sandy decided to take on some action.

"That's it," he said after Ryan let out another low moan. "I'm going to get a doctor. This can't be right."

Before the young man had a chance to object Sandy was out of the door.

Ryan sighed. He was way too tired to have to deal with any tests or further examinations at this very moment. All he wanted was being able to fall asleep again and wake up feeling just fine again.

Suddenly he felt something cold pressing on his stomach. Jerking up Ryan let out a yelp.

Pain spread through his body and he was going to kick whatever was pressing on his stomach when "I'm sorry for that Ryan," was heard.

Confused the teen blinked several times and then looked up to see a doctor, not much older than Trey standing there, his blue eyes looking down at his patient, concerned.

"Oh hi there," a smile crept up on his face. "I'm Doctor Stevens and I'm the one that's on call tonight."

Ryan blanked. As if he cared!

"I need to take a look at your incisions since you seem to be in a great deal of pain. Is that correct?"

A nod.

"Okay good." The doctor continued to press down on his stomach. "I want you to tell me where it hurts when I press down. Okay? Can you do that for me?"

Did this doctor think he was a kid? Annoyed he mumbled, "Mmmm."

He steeled himself for the examination to begin - for the pain to grow even worse.

"Okay let's start then."

The examination couldn't be over soon enough and when the doctor finally took his hands from Ryan's belly the teenager was in absolute in tears. He felt someone sit down beside him but he didn't dare to open his eyes in case that would mean more pain but to his relief he heard Sandy's voice whispering to him.

"You did great Kiddo. You did great."

Ryan felt like a wuss. Here he was crying again like a baby and he didn't know how to make it stop or what to do. He didn't even know where all of these emotions came from, being worse than a hormonal woman.

"I know you're in pain Ryan and I'm going to administer something stronger for you so you can relax. If you start to feel worse, if the pain increases I want you to tell us immediately. For now the incisions looks good but you have been through quite an ordeal and sometimes the body takes a while to restore itself. Meanwhile there can be some side effects such as the pain you're experiencing, nausea and vomiting." The nurse paused before she went on, "I can see that you're a bit shocked over this, and there are so many emotions your feeling that's perfectly natural after an operation."

Ryan was too tired to answer and instead Sandy filled in for him. "How long do you expect him to feel like this?"

The teenager wanted to thank his foster father but all he could muster was a face that looked more like he was constipated than a smile.

"Normally the pain decreases during the first twenty four hours while the body is adjusting...but." The doctor frowned. "In Ryan's case there were some complications as I'm sure you're well informed that he's been diagnosed with peritonitis. This means that we had to, during surgery, insert a tube that will drain the abdominal cavity of any pus."

Ryan felt nauseous at the thought - he had a tube sticking out from his body and his hand traced down on his belly. Noticing this the doctor went on, "It's a standard procedure Ryan and as soon as we can be sure that there won't be any further complications we can take it out. As you can see it's just a small hole and it's draining through a small bag at the side of your stomach."

Now he felt positively ill and Sandy was the one to first spot the change of colour in his sons face. "I think...I think we're going to need the bedpan again," he said as he stretched to hold up the curved bowl.

He was just in time for Ryan's stomach to contract painfully again and the heaving to start. Once the worst bout was over the older man turned towards the doctor. "Isn't there anything you can give him for the nausea?"

The doctor had observed the violent dry heaving and was scribbling down the symptoms on his note pad. "I'll see what I can do, however," he added, "I'm not too thrilled that Ryan will receive more medications since it's harder to monitor any symptoms which might indicate an infection."

He paused, "I'm sure that you're aware there was a slight bleed caused by the peritonitis. Fortunately we've managed to stop it but I am going to want to keep a close eye in case anything indicates an infection."

Sandy listened but Ryan could see the concern in his foster father's dark eyes. If he wasn't so exhausted he would've asked questions himself. For now he could be grateful that it was the older man asking the questions and he only had to listen with half an ear.

"And what about his fever?"

"His on antibiotics for now and as soon as the infection clears up his fever will lessen too."

Turning to Ryan the doctor went on, "I know that you feel very sick right now and I will try to help you out so you can relax and be able to fall asleep."

He gestured towards the nurse that had come into the room. She was holding a tray of shots and Ryan could feel his skin crawl; he'd never liked shots.

"You'll be given a shot of morphine that will take the edge off the pain and if the nausea doesn't ease up you'll receive compazine too but for now I want to wait and see how you're doing. It's very common to feel a bit ill after receiving anaesthetic and the operation you had was quite complicated."

Before the young doctor left he patted Ryan's hand, "I'm sorry I have to attend to another patient but I will be back later on to see how you're doing."

With these words he nodded a goodbye towards Sandy before hurrying out of the room leaving Ryan alone with the nurse and Sandy.

"This will make you relax." The nurse said as she injected the shot into his IV line.

Ryan nodded. All he wanted was the pain to go away so he could rest.

"However you will feel a burning sensation in your body, but it's nothing dangerous it'll pass in a few seconds."

At that very moment the teenager let out a gasp. It felt as if his veins were burning up and he grabbed for Sandy's hand for some comfort. His foster father held him tight and whispered that everything would be alright and it would be better if Ryan didn't fight it - he would be able to relax in no time.

They had been right. Soon the burning sensation passed and Ryan was able to hide a yawn behind his hand. He was suddenly feeling more tired than he had let on and he closed his eyes. Fatigue was setting in and the medication was doing its work. Soon his whole body went numb and he had a hard time holding his eyelids open. Part of him wanted to talk to Sandy, tell him that he was just fine - there was nothing to worry about.

The other part was too tired to say anything at all. A shiver ran though his body and he instantly shuddered from the cold

"You cold son?" Sandy asked as he placed a blanket over his body.

Ryan nodded mutely.

"I'm sure that you'll feel better once you get some sleep." Sandy stroked his forehead with his large rough hands. "You're still a bit too warm. This day has been exciting enough and you need all the rest that you can get."

Ryan nodded. It was true. Still he felt very sick but he knew that the key to getting well again was to get some sleep. With that in mind Ryan closed his eyes, hoping that sleep would come as soon as possible.

Deep inside there was another hope; that Sandy or Kirsten would be by his side when he woke up again.

Just like real parents do when their kids are sick.