Disclaimer: I own neither of the characters, perhaps only the situation itself. But, if I were able to, I would definitely want to buy Alan's voice.
A/N: This wouldn't leave me alone, and my muse and beta Isa and I were watching Love Actually together, something surprisingly easy to do when we're in two different countries and well...she asked, and I wrote. But it being June at the time, I thought I'd wait a little until posting.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
The monotonous sound was broken by the swish of suction as the glass door was pulled open, then left to swing shut.
Karen stared in horror at the figure on the bed. The tubes, the machines, the pale lifeless quality of her husband's skin. It felt like a bad sci-fi movie. The kind Harry would make her watch; "They're not supposed to be good love, they're classics."
She choked back a sob, and slowly moved forward. One step for each crucial rise of his chest. She hoped she would be forced to stop long before his breaths did.
The room felt cold; desolate, and she pulled her jacket tighter around herself, her own arms wrapping around her shoulders, a bitter echo of Harry's embrace.
"Since you refuse to be practical and being a coat with you when it snows, I shall just have to be one for you."
Closer now, the bruises stood out in stark relief. Dark lashes lightly brushed torn cheeks, and for the first time she reached out. Her hand dropped away before she even felt the warmth from his skin and tears leaked from behind clenched eyes.
It was wrong. So very wrong. He shouldn't be the one laying there fighting for life. Since they'd met, Harry had never even been ill; "That's because I'm invincible, my dear."
The hospital sheet was pulled up only to his waist; white circles dotted his chest where bandages didn't hide them, wires spilling off him like the spaghetti on Bernie's fork. The children didn't know. They didn't know much that had happened the last weeks.
His hand felt so cold, too still and Karen felt her legs collapse beneath her. Falling to the floor, she knelt against the metal bed, her forehead against his hand, and the sobs broke through, crippling her when she knew no comfort would come. "I'll always wipe away your tears, even though you profess to be emotionless."
Beep. Beep. Beep.
She would give anything to hear his voice, the sound of chocolate velvet, smooth and rich, but the room only resonated silence, each beep thumping like ice in her chest where her heart once beat.
The cold of the floor finally broke into her mind, and with the last of her strength she rose, falling into a chair she hadn't seen. She was rarely so blind; "Sometimes I wish you didn't see so much, love, I wish I didn't make things hurt for you too see."
She entwined their fingers, needing to be part of him any way she could. It shouldn't have come to this. She reached up with her free hand, brushing a lock of hair from his head. He needed a hair cut.
Would it have been different if he had still been living at home at night? If he hadn't been driving in early morning traffic to be there when the children awoke? Should she have forgiven him his mistake?
"A classic fool."
Her eyes ran up and down his silent form. The tears still fell. For a moment she didn't see the cleaned wounds, the remains of dried blood, the marks of a fight he could never have won. She saw the body of a lover so in tune with her own there were moments she had believed they were one. The flushed skin of a man in the throes of passion, his muscles vibrating with the need only she could satisfy. A blink and the image was lost. Perhaps she had forgiven him already.
She wanted to scream. At the doctors, at her husband, at herself, but her mouth remained closed. It wouldn't change anything, so why pretend it could. There had been no screams, no pleas as she asked him to leave the house when the children slept. Just pain and tears.
"I still love you, you know, I always have. Don't forgive me. I won't forgive myself for hurting you."
Her hand slid down his arm, fingers brushing lightly over future scars. She had known then that it had only been a necklace, but she had wanted him to suffer. To feel even part of what she had in those moments of uncertainty. Days had past, and she couldn't find a way to ask him back. Tiny hairs rose involuntarily at her touch, but he remained passive, unknowing.
He had become an outsider. A stranger looking in on a world he'd once been a part of. Still she hadn't found it in them both to accept him back. She had needed him, but had they wanted each other still? "Ask your mother Bernie. Just ask your mother."
Her throat felt raw, as though she had been talking for hours. A water cooler stood at the end of the hallway. She would only be gone a moment, he wouldn't notice. She didn't see the twitch of his mouth, the flicker of his eyes.
Beep beep. Beep beep beep. Beep beep beep beep.
The cup fell from her hand, the water never touching her lips. Invisible footprints left as she ran to her husband's side. Ignoring the nurses and doctors slowly leaving. Not like this. It couldn't happen like this. Not before he knew. He needed to know.
"You know, we'll grow old in one of those despicable residential homes, they'll put us in separate rooms, but we'll sneak by them. No one will keep us apart for long my love."
Something had changed. The room. Something was different. She stopped at the door, uncaring as more of the doctors were forced to push past her to leave, hands resting on her shoulders. She didn't bother to brush them off. They would be gone soon enough. She didn't want to look at him. To see what the soundless machines foretold. But she had to. Sometime she would have to face him, alive or…not.
Light eyes met dark, and her breath caught. He blinked back confusion, never looking away from her frozen form. A simple stretch of his hand, and she ran to him, barely holding back from flinging herself into his arms. He reached up, fingers dusting lightly across the moisture on her cheeks. Resistance gone, she fell limply against his chest, the steady beat she found in synchrony to her own heart.
"I love you, my Karen."
"Harry, come home."
: fini :
Merry Christmas everybody. :)