Thumbs

By Jules

This is the 2nd part of the Cruelty, Thy Name is Lobster Fanfic Challenge. It is based off of the episode "The Operation," and required that I used the line "I want to feel what you feel."

"Brian!" Michaela ran out of the clinic, night sweats poring down her face as she searched the empty town for her son. Then, she saw him. Standing so still, too still, by the bridge. Her legs felt numb, mechanical as she began to run. "Brian!"

As she fell down to her knees, she reached out, scared to touch him, but knowing she had to, knowing she had to feel him, to make sure he was hers, her Brian. "Brian?" She asked, letting her hand hover over his shoulder.

He didn't answer but looked straight ahead. Suddenly she was pushed back in time to the halls of wandering patients of the asylum where she interned, and she couldn't stand it as she saw Brian's face among them. "Brian?" She asked again, desperately. Again. "Brian?"

Sully could see them as he left the clinic. He could feel her waiting. Hoping. But Brian didn't move. He didn't respond.

Suddenly, Michaela's calm requests turned into confused, painful wailing, and Sully flew past the ghost buildings and empty streets towards her, knowing he had to be there, that he had to comfort her, to stop her from breaking.

"BRIAN!" Michaela covered her mouth as she turned the boy towards her, unable to hide her pain from the blank eyes that stared back at her. He was gone. Her little boy was gone and he wasn't coming back.

Sully reached her just in time and quickly took her into his arms as he saw the hollow eyes of the child he thought of as his son. He covered Michaela's face, hiding the loss from her, protecting her, even as she screamed into his chest, "BRIAN!"

"Shhh!" He lifted her body into the air and pulled her close to him, rocking her gently as he sat back on the bed. Her body was drenched from the nightmare, and even as he waked her, he couldn't stop her body from shaking. "It's alright, Dr. Mike. Everything's gonna be alright."

Suddenly, her eyes flew open and she searched for his eyes in the darkness of the clinic. "Brian?" She asked, panic seizing her again. "We have to find him! We have to—"

"Shh…" Sully ran his fingers through her hair and softly whispered into her ear, "Hey… listen to me, he's right there… He's right over there in the bed. He's sleepin'. You checked on him an hour ago, remember?"

"I did?" Michaela looked up, dazed and hot as she pressed against his body, reacquainting herself with the reality of the room. The reality of him.

"Yeah. You did." He caressed her face, concern in his night eyes as hers had yet to focus on him.

Suddenly, their eyes met, like two black cats in a dark alley, and she shot up from his lap. She spun in a circle, unable to slow her heartbeat or stand straight on her feet. "I need to see him again."

Sully stood up and tried to reach for her hand. "Ok. Are you alright?"

She waved it off as she stumbled to Brian's bedside table and turned on the lamp. "I'm… I'm fine."

The lamp illuminated the room, and somehow Colleen and Matthew had slept through Michaela's nightmare. He stood off of her bed and on his messed up palette. "I just… I want ya to be alright."

Michaela didn't respond as she checked his pulse and listened to his heartbeat. "He's… breathing normally. His pulse is normal." She paused, a catch in her throat. "He just… won't wake up."

Sully crossed the room and stood at the foot of the bed. He could see the tension in her shoulders. "He will."

"And then?" Michaela sighed, looking at him with one wary eye.

"He will be fine," Sully said without a doubt in his mind.

Michaela shook her head, a sad smile appearing on her tired face. "How can you be so confident?"

Sully leaned over the foot of the bed and looked at her intently. "Because I have faith in you."

Michaela closed her eyes and looked to the Heavens. Her heart ached with uncertainty. "I want to feel what you feel."

Sully reached for her hand, and she took it. "Ya will."

Without words, he led her back to her bed and tucked her in. Then he slid down beside her on the floor and tried to close his eyes.

A few minutes later, Michaela's soft, uncertain voice penetrated his sleep. "I can't sleep."

Sully reached up lazily on the bed. "Hold my hand."

Michaela looked at the hand offered. It was calloused and worn from working on the school house. It was big. Tan. She closed her eyes again. "That won't help."

"Why not?" Sully frowned, suddenly offended.

Michaela crossed her legs under the covers. "Because."

Sully leaned up and looked at her over the side of the bed. "Because?"

Michaela sighed and turned to him. Her toes were itching. "You'll do that… thing with your thumb."

"What thing?" Sully cocked his head.

If it wasn't so dark, Michaela would have glared at him. Too tired to argue, she picked up his hand and started making soft, circular motions with her thumb around his hand. She lay back down on her pillow. "This thing."

Sully swallowed nervously. What a different sensation for him for her to hold his hand like that. It was almost… "Oh… Well, it's only meant to be comfortin'."

"Well, it's… not," came Michaela's muffled pillow reply.

"No. I suppose it isn't." Sully watched their hands on the bed as she continued to do the soft, swirling thumb motion. It was down right distracting, that's what it was. He cleared his throat. "You gonna keep my hand all night now?"

"It's different when I do it. It's comforting. I feel like I can control something," Michaela mumbled sleepily.

Sully smiled in the darkness. She was the most backwards woman. But if this was what she needed to sleep, then he would stay awake and stand it. "Then you can keep my hand as long as you want."

"Thanks, Sully. Night," Michaela whispered, almost asleep.

"Good night, Dr. Mike," he replied, no where near dreams as he was too caught up in reality.

-

Michaela opened her eyes, feeling the sun burst down upon her. Suddenly, she looked towards the bed. Brian was gone.

She pushed off her covers, her nightmare flying back to her as she barreled down the stairs. As she entered the empty streets of the town, she saw the same site before her, and her stomach lurched.

"Brian!" She called out. No answer. He was looking ahead towards that bright red school house. "Brian!" she called again.

She began to run and pray, knowing that she had done everything she could have done for him, but knowing that in the end, it was up to God whether her son was still hers to have.

Her hand hovered over his shoulder. "Brian?" She whispered. No answer.

Sully was halfway there. He stopped as he saw them together. Still. Too still.

"Brian?" She said again, touching him, her voice failing.

He was behind her. He was giving her faith. She felt it, as she asked one more time. "Brian?"

Suddenly, two bright, beautiful eyes turned to her. And she saw her son. "Look ma! School house!"

She lifted him in her arms and felt his secure arms around her neck. Then she felt another hand on her back and shoulders, and a thumb, making slow, gentle circles as he pulled them closer. It was more than comfort. It was family. It was faith in circles.