pryrmtns- hehe, you said limey! Lol, sorry. Random moment.
rave- hey, it was begging to be written, and I couldn't work on BTTB under the circumstances. I updated quicker this time, and actually would have updated even quicker-er if it would have actually let me submit the document! Grr. I hate colds too.
Ms. Dita von Teese- hehe, yeah that's a funny line. Felt so bad for Bug in that episode…
cavanaugh-girl- Yeah, I figured that I really needed him to go away, and decided to show a spec of mercy and give him someone to go back to. It'll keep his mind off Jordan at the very least.
WOOT! Last chapter! (And a rather long one at that!) Thank you all SO MUCH for the reviews, feels great for a little bitty teen like myself to get reviews from all the big people. (And I mean that literally: I'm really short for my age!) Anyways, sorry again for the long delays, had some trouble keeping up. I really hope you enjoyed the Basement stories, and please, review! I don't really care if it's two years after this is posted, I'll still appreciate them!
Without further delay:
Back to the Basement
Chapter 10: Old Endings, New Beginnings
- Jordan -
Both of us were nervous as we made ready to leave the next day. I fidgeted with the hem of my shirt as we sat, squeezed into the small cab on our way to the medical center. Eventually we turned, and then stopped soon after. Nigel got out first and opened the door for me. Then he took my arm and carefully led me up a paved road and through a doorway into the rather warm building. We walked carefully across a carpeted floor, into and out of an elevator, until I was guided softly into a chair. I sat down nervously, crossing my legs and fiddling with my cane. The occasional cough and rustle of a magazine told me that we weren't the only ones in the room.
Five, maybe ten long minutes passed, before I finally heard my name and was led forwards. My shoes made sharp clicking sounds as they ventured onto a hard surface. We stopped and I heard a door open. We moved inside, where I was placed in yet another chair.
"Ms. Cavanaugh?" said a male voice somewhere in front of me. I smiled in its general direction, attempting to conceal how nervous I was. "And this is?"
"Nigel Townsend," said Nigel. I heard them shake hands.
"I'm Dr. McPhiliman; I work in the new ophthalmology department." I reached out my hand and he shook it as well. He had a very firm grip. "I'll be happy to do whatever I can for you two."
He proceeded to ask me all sorts of questions; where I worked, my medical history, how I'd lost my sight, and how long ago that was. Eventually he led me down the hall to have some x-rays done, and then reviewed them out loud with Nigel and I. He said that the hit with the shovel caused blood to form a clot, which did further damage to some of the nerves controlling my vision. Once they removed the clot they'd be able to try to repair the damage and, if all went well, restore my sight. I listened nervously to all that was said. He made it sound simple, but I couldn't suppress the butterflies that had taken flight in the pit of my stomach. We scheduled the surgery for the following morning, a lot sooner than I'd expected.
We headed back to our hotel room soon after, and I didn't know if I was more or less nervous than before. At least I knew that the surgery would definitely be performed, that I at least had a chance. The rest of the afternoon passed in a blur. We spent most of it contacting everyone and explaining what was going on. Lily, Bug, and Garret were all thrilled, wishing me the best of luck and making us swear to call them the instant there was news. Nigel and I spent another almost sleepless night, thinking of the morning ahead.
- Nigel -
I led her back into the center early that morning, where the fate of her sight and future lay. Not that we'd give up if this wasn't a success. Hell, I'd fly her halfway across the face of the Earth if that's what it took, yet it'd be a lot easier if this worked. Dr. McPhiliman was already there as we entered the waiting area, and took us immediately where he had introduced himself the previous afternoon.
"Morning," he said brightly. "How are you feeling Ms. Cavanaugh? Bit nervous?" She nodded silently. I put my hand on her shoulder. She wasn't the only one.
"Alright, we should start then. Ms. Cavanaugh, I'll lead you down the hall, Mr. Townsend, you may want to come back a bit later; the procedure can take awhile." I nodded. "I'll be right back as soon as we're sure things are in order." He left, and I turned to Jordan. She looked pale. I brushed her cheek lightly with my right hand.
"Don't worry about it, love," I said softly and reassuringly. "Everything's going to be alright. I'll always be here for you. Always." I pulled her into a soft embrace, stroking her hair gently as she clung to me. "It'll be alright."
"Thanks Nige," she whispered. Dr. McPhiliman came in at that moment and informed us that things were ready and it was time for us to part. I gave her one last encouraging squeeze, and then watched as he led her away from me. I sighed and made my way back into the waiting room.
He'd been right; the procedure took a very long time.
I didn't really have anywhere to go, so I sat at first in the waiting room, flipping uninterestedly through all the magazines. After about half an hour, I exited the building and stood just outside; pulling out my cell to inform the others that Jordan had entered surgery. Then I made my way back into the waiting room. After another hour of just sitting there, I eventually got up and left the hospital again to get a cup of coffee. I went to the same Starbucks I'd visited our first morning in Detroit. Unable to face sitting at the hospital again, I stayed in the coffee shop. When my drink was gone, I went back up to the counter and bought a sandwich, purely for something to do. When the sandwich too was gone, I sat there and fiddled with its paper wrapping. It only took five minutes of this to get me thoroughly bored, and I pulled out the ipod conveniently resting in my coat pocket. If my phone hadn't been set to vibrate, I never would have realized it rang.
Quickly I fumbled to pick it up and turn off my music at the same time. Needless to say, this didn't work, so I simply pulled off my headphones and let them dangle around my neck, still playing loudly, as I answered the phone.
"Townsend," I said breathlessly. It was Dr. McPhiliman who answered, informing me that Jordan had finished surgery. My heart seemed to skip a few beats, and I told him I'd be right over. I willed the taxi to go faster as we sped through the city towards the hospital. I jumped out upon arrival, almost forgetting to pay the man, and sped towards the entrance like a maniac, all of my focus on Jordan. I nearly ran someone over as I burst through the doors, apologizing hurriedly as I almost sprinted to the elevator and rode up to the second floor waiting room. Dr. McPhiliman, where was once again waiting. I speed-walked over and asked, panting, where Jordan was. He smiled and told me that she was resting.
"Did it work?" I asked. "Can she see?"
"We don't know yet," he replied. "Her eyes are bandaged, and she'll need to stay like that for a few days. We'll know if it worked as soon as we take them off." I nodded and he took me to a small room off the main hallway, where she lay, asleep it seemed, in a white bed. I walked in quietly and pulled a chair to her side, sitting down and gazing at her as the doctor left us alone. She had long bandages wrapped around her eyes, covering them completely, and looked so frail, the way she always did in a hospital bed. I took her hand gently in mine, stoking the back of it with my thumb, praying that it worked, that when they took those bandages off, she'd be able to see again.
I stayed in her room until she woke up a few hours later, when I wrapped my arms tightly around her. She returned the embrace weakly. I spent every day in her room after that. We passed the time together, ate together, and I even slept in the chair at her bedside. We tried to keep our thoughts off what was coming, yet it always floated just at the surface of our consciousness, like a bad taste that won't fade. We could never quite forget it.
It was a Tuesday, three days after the surgery, when Dr. McPhiliman came in and informed us that the moment of truth had arrived, that Jordan could finally take her bandages off. I held her hand tightly as he dimmed the lights slightly and closed the door. She sat up strait as he began to undo and unwind each layer. Time seemed to slow as each piece was stripped away to reveal another, and it felt like there would be no end. Finally, only one remained.
"Want to do the honors Mr. Townsend?" he asked.
"Is that alright, love?" I asked tentatively. She nodded. I reached forward and slowly peeled away the last bandage, revealing her eyes. They were closed and slightly bruised looking. I resumed holding her hand, and she gripped it tightly. I looked to the doctor and he nodded. This was truly it.
"Open your eyes, love," I said quietly. She paused, taking a slow, deep breath, and then her eyelids fluttered open.
- Jordan -
I waited patiently as layer upon layer of bandage was removed from my face, until finally I had felt it thin to the point where only one was left. Nigel removed it, but I kept my eyes shut tightly, fearing what would come, fearing failure.
This was it. This was the moment I would know which way things would turn. I would either be given my life back, or live what was left of it helpless and alone in the dark.
"Open your eyes, love," I heard Nigel say, and with the softness of his voice, something snapped into place.
I would never be alone in the dark. I hadn't been the only one to suffer in that basement, Nigel had been there. He knew what I was going through, and he'd always be there, no matter what happened. I'd always have the memory of his face, the warmth of his arms, and the softness of his touch. This in mind, I took one last breath, and then slowly opened my eyes.
I blinked, and squinted in the light.
Yes! It hurt, made everything indistinguishable, but it was there, and I welcomed it like an old friend. The more I kept my eyes open, the more I could make out. I looked around, taking in the room; the white walls and door, the single window with sunlight shining cheerfully through, Dr. McPhiliman standing a few feet away, and Nigel, leaning over me and looking down with a worried expression.
"Love?" he said cautiously. I looked him strait in the eyes, smiling, and after a moment a grin appeared on his lips as well. Then he took me in his arms and held me to him, tears falling down his face as well as mine. "Jordan," he whispered. "Oh Jordan."
"It worked," I whispered back. "It worked. I can see…"
I never wanted to blink again, but wanted to keep my eyelids firmly in place for the rest of eternity, to take in everything and everyone without end. It was like the world had reopened itself to me, like I had stepped out of the basement, slamming its door and walking away for good.
Nigel pulled out his phone the moment we cleared the hospital steps, dialing up everyone to tell them the news: the surgery was successful and I could see again! I heard Lily cheering from the phone in his hand.
We packed up our stuff back at the hotel (I chuckled slightly while putting away the typewriter) and took the next flight back to Boston, arriving in the early evening. To my great surprise, and Nigel's too judging by the look on his face, everyone was waiting for us at my apartment. (Apparently someone had a spare key.) Lily threw her arms around me upon entrance, teary eyed and grinning. Garret and Bug gave me a hug each as well. I beamed at them all, overjoyed at being able to see their faces again. We spent the night celebrating; eating, drinking, and enjoying ourselves for hours into the evening, and it was almost midnight when Garret had gone and Lily, dragging a drunken Bug, finally stumbled out the door.
Getting up for work the next morning, something I had never loved in the past, today was an exciting event. I arrived at the morgue in high spirits. For the first time in months, I could walk on my own; my cane had become a useless tool. I could do my own work as well, and perform autopsies again, though Nigel and I still worked them together. I took a lot more pleasure in the simplest of things; never again would I take them for granted. About the only thing to which this didn't apply was paperwork. No way I'd ever come close to enjoying paperwork.
I'd had to get much stronger contacts as well, but that was no big deal. Like Nigel had said what seemed like so long ago: a small price to pay. It was one of only a few lasting effects that Mitchell had had on my life, both good and bad, though the latter easily outdid the former. The scar on Nigel's neck was one, though not nearly as large as my increasingly deep emotional scar. This was perhaps the largest one: the experience, the memory. I felt like I'd been through it all now, and it would still take a long while to heal. I'd lived in a cold and dark world, and then watched someone I love come within inches of death. I'd come so close to death again myself and spent months without sight, months of feeling helpless, months of reliving the basement. I was attacked again, and yet again forced to relive these horrors. Three near-death experiences in all.
I had to admit, not all of it was bad. I'd discovered a new talent, writing, and was even now working on a novel. I'd learned to read brail, which was pretty much useless to me now, but it couldn't hurt, right? Then of course was my relationship with Nigel. They say old habits die hard, which is oh-so-true. But my commitment issues had surfaced very little when it came to Nigel and I, and not nearly enough for me to push away. I felt safe with him somehow, perhaps because he had been such a dear friend for such a long time. The trust had already existed; it was already there.
Perhaps the bad didn't smother the good after all.
Yet one effect that I was still completely confused about was Woody's departure. I couldn't work out if it was a plus or minus, which made things all the more peculiar when he called me a week after my return to Boston. I was sitting at my desk when the phone rang, doing paperwork that I could no longer avoid.
"Woody?" There was an awkward pause, in which I considered if I should hang up or not. I decided not to, to let him say whatever it was he had called to say.
"You're not hanging up on me?" he asked as if he had read my mind.
"I'm in a tolerant mood."
"Oh…ok." He sighed. "I called to congratulate you, and to apologize. I heard you got your sight back."
"But I realized," he continued, "that it was my fault you lost it in the first place."
"Well, if I hadn't hung up on you…"
"You had a right to hang up on me. I was an idiot. I just wanted to say that I'm sorry, and that from now on, I'm giving you space…about a thousand miles of it. Oh, and-" He hesitated, then sighed. "And I'm gonna take anger management. I don't want to hurt anyone else." He paused, as if he expected a retort.
"I've taken it too," I said lightly.
"How'd you do?"
"Flunked." He chuckled.
"Can you forgive me? Even a little bit?" I thought for a moment.
"On one condition: you take back what you said about Nigel being a stalker."
"Oh," he said, a bit surprised, but answered honestly. "I take it back. I was just jealous. I didn't mean it."
"Then I forgive you." There was another pause.
"So," he said slowly, "I guess this is goodbye." I couldn't tell if it was a question or a statement.
"Yeah," I said. "I guess it is."
"Goodbye then Jordan," he replied. "And good luck."
"Bye Woody." He hung up. I set down the phone and sighed, but smiled. Now that the call, the apology, the forgiveness, had been established and done with, things were a lot clearer. It was best that he had left, best for the both of us. We could truly move on with our lives now. We'd just needed closure.
I heard a knock at the door, and then turned to watch Nigel enter my office. "Hey love," he said cheerfully with the grin that I loved so much. "You wanna take lunch with me?" I smiled back up at him.
"Of course." I stood and followed him out the door. "You're saving me from paperwork." He laughed as we entered the elevator. "I know I've said it a lot Nige, but thanks."
"For what, love?"
"I dunno, for being there for me; for being…you." I leaned closer to him and he put an arm around me.
"I'll always be me, Jordan. And at least things are back to normal now, or as normal as they can ever be around here."
"Depends on how you define normal."
"I guess your right." He smiled at me. "So how would you currently describe things? Besides normal?" I thought for a moment.
"They are as they should be," I said.
The elevator doors opened, and we stepped out together, his arm still around me, heading towards to front doors to where his motorcycle sat waiting. We stopped on the side walk, staring at it. At least, he was staring at it. I was staring at him, and after a moment he met my gaze. I moved closer and raised my left arm up to his neck, lightly tracing the scar there with my index finger. He smiled, then took my hand in his, holding it gently.
"Where do you want to go?" he asked. I thought for a moment, then smiled.
He laughed. "McDonalds it is, love." We both slipped on helmets as we climbed aboard, and the bike's engine roaring to life as we took off, speeding to a place of both old and new beginnings.
Thanks again to all who made me feel confidant about my
first two full-length fanfics! I have another one on the way! Until then, see