You should love me, you know. I was seriously considering giving Rei cancer. But hey, I can torture him anyway! Oooh, and what is this? A look into the past of Dr. Dafoe? My, my!
This is the last one. I fear I didn't make the ending justice. Oh well. Reviewers, I can't thank you enough for sticking with me all the way. I love you to bits and it saddens me that this story is over...
But hey, I'm already writing a new Rei/Boris-fic. So stay tuned!
Building Bridges, Burning walls
What is fairly new, complicated and with a 0.3 chance of death after performance? Well Rei had no idea either, until Dr. Dafoe sat down to have a little chat. In just about thirty minutes, he had not only informed Rei, but also convinced him into the thought that the surgery was a good idea. It was a procedure where the surgeon took away around 55 percent of the healthy liver, sometimes even 75 percent were possible, and replaced the sick liver with this half.
After a long while, the livers would have healed and re-grown the missing part, and thus both persons would walk out of healthy. The complications were of course there, as in how much of a strain it was to perform such a procedure on a healthy patient. Also, the one to receive the implant would have to take immunosuppressive medication for the rest of his or her life.
Rei could live with that. If he needed to he would have given Boris his entire liver, just as long as there was a chance of the man surviving. There was the risk of Boris' body rejecting the organ, and even death. But if death hadn't occurred in three months, the chances were likelier to be good. So as soon as Dafoe had stopped speaking, and Rei had swallowed the information and the shock it brought, he had agreed.
Which lead to long hours of signing papers.
When he finally was let free, Rei staggered into the hall with a deep sigh. He felt so worn out, so exhausted it hurt just to think. Adding that to the fact that he hadn't eaten only made him feel more miserable. With a pained grunt Rei leaned against a wall and slid to the ground. A lot of nurses that passed him gave him peculiar looks, but he ignored them since opening his eyes only made the room spin.
He was absolutely beat. His brain one heap of goo, his heart pumping tiredly, begging for a little break. His stomach twisted in a painful pang of hunger, his muscles refusing to move any further as he trembled in exhaustion. It was safe to say he did not feel pretty, and certainly didn't look like it either. Dark circles under his eyes made him look more like a racoon than cat, and his hair had seen much better days.
Olivia felt sort of like an angel from above when she sat down next to him. The only thing sweeter than her perfume was her smile, and in her arms was two paper cups of coffee and what looked like food. Rei cracked his eyes open slightly, her brown eyes greeting him warmly. The misfortune of her needle-attack last time they met rang painfully in his memory, but he found he couldn't really blame her. She was a very nice person, after all.
''Hey there, tiger'' her cherry red lips moved, and he couldn't help but try to smile.
''How ya' hanging in there?''
''Not very good''
He sat up straighter, but still slumped against the wall, looking directly at her now. She reached out one of the mugs to him, waving a sandwich and chocolate bar. He accepted them gladly, the coffee hot and steaming comfortingly against his cold skin.
''Are you mad about the needle-thing?''
''Who could ever be mad at you?''
Olivia giggled warmly, her smile never leaving her face. He find her oddly comforting, like a fresh wind in a murky swamp. Or a little candle in the dark, whatever it was, he was glad to have her there. It was funny in a way, Rei thought, because Olivia and Dafoe were probably the closest thing to making friends he had experienced in years.
''I heard about your boyfriend. I'm so sorry.''
Rei's eyes glazed over momentarily, since he was too tired to even try to look okay. In fact, he didn't care anymore what anyone thought. He was in pain and he was sick and tired of hiding it. Olivia didn't say anything, didn't look pitying at him or mock him. She just sat there, chewing at her own chocolate, genuine empathy in her eyes.
''We're not…'' he stopped himself then, not wanting to ruin the first comfort he had received since he got there. ''Thank you. I appreciate it.''
''You look kind of pale. Have you lost weight?''
Rei shrugged, staring at his sandwich like he hadn't really seen anything of the sort. In his hand it felt more like a collection of carbohydrates and molecules than actual food. Just a heap of flour, butter and cheese with a pathetic little tomato in the middle. His stomach cringed in dislike, even if his hunger roared for him to shut up and eat it.
''Don't you think it's weird that you and Dr. Dafoe always take care of our case when we're here?'' he changed the subject.
Olivia pretended she didn't noticed. A gamine look on her face as she smiled. Taking a large bite out of her sandwich, she wiped some bread crumbs off her cheek and leaned against the wall.
''That would be because we sort of make sure to always take your case.''
Rei raised an eyebrow, suspiciously eyeing her.
''What? You're stalking us?''
''No, no! It's just that I find you charming and all the other nurses are hussies. And Dr. Dafoe thought that, since he's had you before he knows you better than the other doctors.''
''Oh… well, that makes sense.''
''Although…'' she chewed thoughtfully, swallowing the bread down with a sip of coffee.
Rei's suspicion only grew, but it was clothed in a sense of curiosity. He drank some of his own coffee, unwrapping the plastic of the sandwich just to have something to distract himself with.
''I think Dr. Dafoe empathises with you.''
''That man can empathise?''
Olivia chuckled sadly.
''You'd be surprised. He's not all weirdness and irony.''
The plastic finally gone, Rei had no excuse to simply sit and stare at the sandwich anymore. He wanted to eat it, actually he was mighty damn hungry and he had a killing headache. He just didn't think he would be able to really muster it. At least not until he knew Boris was alright.
''What do you mean?''
''He's been where you are now.''
Rei frowned, not fully understanding what she was trying to say.
''You mean he's been to the hospital over and over again with his alcoholic boyfriend, until one day his boyfriend cheated on him – with a girl – to finally end up in a coma and with only one chance of surviving, mainly getting half of his liver?''
Olivia smiled yet again, and Rei wondered where she got all the energy. Her eyes were much duller now, as if remembering something sad. Yet she kept the warm glow in her face, now opening the chocolate bar with the gentleness of a mother. She shook her head, then shrugged slightly.
''I assume you've seen his wedding ring?''
Rei nodded, fingering on his sandwich until he finally, though accidentally, ripped off a piece. He stared down at it, just so he wouldn't have to focus on his company, slowly bringing it to his mouth.
''Dafoe had a wife. This was long before I worked here, and he's never spoken much about her. But basically everyone around the hospital knows the story. It was in the papers and all.''
Rei listened carefully, the story not really important to him but he guessed Olivia thought it would help. In what way he didn't know, maybe she wanted him to know he wasn't the only one in pain. That there were others out there, others with much bigger problems and who made it out. Who didn't sit moping around in a hospital corridor and got themselves together. Or maybe, she just wanted to talk. Either way, he welcomed it as his only distraction from what was going on around him.
''She was beautiful, from what I've heard. You know, large blue eyes and a smile to die for. But… she was an addict. Had been for years. Thanks to that their first child was born blind.''
She spoke with a voice that tried to be cheerful, but the sorrow of the story just made it tone down to being mellow. An empty wrapper in her hands that she kept twisting, looking at her own feet as she tried to remember all the details as they had been told to her when she first started working there.
''But she got cleaned up after that. And well, everything seemed to go well. She was pregnant again, twins this time. Everything seemed to be going just fine. Then… she had a miscarriage. One twin survived.''
Finally eating, Rei listened carefully to the story. For a moment it made him feel a little guilty. The fact that he was feeling sorry for himself when his problems weren't nearly the worst case scenario was making his heart sink. But he kept quiet, letting Olivia continue the story.
''She couldn't take the trauma, so she had a relapse. She couldn't stand to look at the twin, either, since he just reminded her of what had happened. One day, just driving home from picking the kids up...'' Olivia sighed. ''It didn't come as a surprise to anyone, the car crash. They all assumed she would die young and the autopsy came out positive for drugs in the blood. Dr. Dafoe waited thirty four hours at the hospital during the surgeries.''
She silenced for a moment, thinking deeply. Then she looked at him, calm and neutral even though Rei himself felt like crying. He hadn't been that emotionally stable before and he certainly wasn't in a happy mood now.
''She died first. Then their daughter, the oldest child. Dafoe decided to study medicine, you know, feeling guilty, like he should have done something and all that. When his son turned eighteen the kid had already been to several rehabs... One day he just left without a word and he hasn't heard from him since.''
Rei stared at her in shock, empathy and melancholy when she silenced. She smiled weakly at him, but it seemed so odd. What her intentions of telling the story were seemed all the more mysterious to him now. But she recognized the look in his eyes, laughing sadly.
''He sees himself in you, waiting outside that room hour after hour. Ever since the first time you walked into this place, you've just reminded him of his past.''
''I… I don't… know what to say.''
''You're not supposed to. I just wanted you to know that, you're not alone and Dafoe will try his absolute best to save him. It'll turn out fine.''
Rei sighed, suddenly not very hungry anymore.
''I wish I could believe you.''
Her eyes lit up bright and warm again, the cherry red lips curving cheerfully again.
''No worries, sweetie. I recognize a fighter when I see one and you'' she put an arm around his shoulders. ''You sir, are one hell of a fighter.''
Rei looked disbelievingly at her, but seeing the spirit in her eyes and the warmth of her hug, he couldn't help but smile. No matter how clumsy the woman was, or how creepy Dr. Dafoe acted, he guessed she had one point. This wasn't over quite yet.
Five hours. Five hours had passed since the surgery began and it wasn't over yet. Kai had paced back and forth through the corridor, all the blood and the shining lights just agitating him. He couldn't sit still, worry eating at his patience. He didn't care what the doctor had told him, he didn't trust this surgery one bit.
Yuriy wasn't too happy either. He hadn't torn his blue eyes away from the door of which the surgeons would walk when it was all over with. He had been staring at them, chin against his clasped hands, leaning over his legs as he waited. Waited and waited as the hours slowly dragged by. He didn't even care about the ache in his back, that wasn't important compared to what was going on in that room.
Olivia had come to check on them from time to time, winking a little extra at Yuriy as she did so. The man didn't notice her much, though, and he was very puzzled over how the coffee and the sandwiches had turned up next to him. Kai didn't say anything, simply nodded in greeting before resuming his walking. Back and forth, back and forth, over and over again.
Olivia made a comment about how he was going to wear out the floors, but he ignored her.
Dr. Dafoe had even showed up once, just to see how they were doing in there. As he gazed at the closed doors something dark fell over his face, memories of past days washing over him. He wasn't sure what to make of that, but even so Olivia noticed how he kept playing with his wedding ring.
Five hours turned to six, which soon turned to seven. Then seven and a half. By the end of that half hour, Yuriy suddenly rose to his feet and kicked the bench over. Kai stopped to raise an eyebrow at him, but the furious man simply resumed staring again. The wait never seemed to end.
''Dr. Dafoe to surgery room 29. I repeat; Dr. Dafoe to surgery room number twenty-nine''
The two men looked up as the speakers silenced, mixed emotions stirring up the fake calm in their eyes. They knew immediately that something was wrong, and even though they wished that '29' over the door would somehow be a mistake, they knew that something had gone wrong. Terribly wrong.
It didn't take long before the aforementioned doctor came running in all haste, swooping by them like a white flash of lightning before disappearing again. The only sign that he had even been there at all being the flapping doors. Yuriy turned furious again, wanting to run after him and see what was wrong but his dignity held him back.
Kai didn't have an easy time trying to keep his own emotions in check either, standing immovable as his crimson eyes were fixed on the doors. Left in oblivion, no one telling them what was going on, nothing was under their control anymore. Instead they had to sit and watch as strangers held the faith of their closest, and only, friends. It was the worst kind of torture they could have imagined.
Minutes passed. Slow, torturous and never ending minutes that felt more like years. Minutes under which nothing moved around them, when everything seemed to stand still and the world beyond the doors was something much like a nightmare. Kai wanted to jolt through them, wanted someone to come and tell him what was going on because he could sense in every part of his being that someone was in grave danger.
As the small eternity had finally made its egress, the doors swung open once again. It was Dafoe coming back, two strands of his hair hanging outside the otherwise perfect haircut, sweat dripping down his temple which he viciously tried to wipe away. But what caught their eyes and made their hearts sink, was the blood on his coat.
Bright, dazzling, ruby red blood. Splatters and dapples of it, small and large making the paleness of his skin stand out a hundred times more under the sickly bright lamps. It was something so insignificant, and yet it felt like the most crucial detail that could ever have been applied.
Yuriy, who seemed to have lost every ounce of control within completely, rushed forward to shake the doctor by the collar, roaring out his questions, demanding he get an answer or there would be more than just splatters to come. Dafoe just gave him a tired, look, the sly grin on his face looking fake and dishonest.
''Don't give me that 'Mr. Ivanov' crap, you fucker! What happened in there?!''
''It's hard to speak when someone is angrily shaking you by your robe, you know''
''Stop playing, you – ''
''Yuriy!'' Kai swept in to save the day, or at least the doctor, parting the two much to Dafoe's delight.
But Yuriy wasn't only bristling, he was burning with such intensity and fury in his eyes that they could almost imagine black smoke rising from his skin. But Kai held the distance between them, warningly shutting Yuriy up with just one single look. As he turned to the doctor again, Dafoe was in the middle of straightening out his outfit, stroking the loose strands of hair back into place until he looked almost half decent again.
''Tell me what's going on'' Kai said, the tone in his voice showing that he meant no bullshit. ''All of it.''
Dafoe sighed, crossing his arms to hide the tiredness in his pose.
''Did you know that Mr. Kon was both underweight and severely malnourished?''
The Russian's shared a quick look, before Kai nodded stiffly. Yuriy stood grunting in the background, not allowed to leap and destroy even though the wolf in him viciously craved for carnage.
''Well'' Dafoe continued, a bit reprimanding this time. ''His body certainly did and it was not happy to be drugged and cut open without proper treatment.''
''What are you saying?''
''I'm afraid he had a bit of a cardiac arrest.''
''He what?!'' Yuriy roared, frantic eyes much like a carnivore's darting from man to man.
Kai rubbed his eyes in exhaustion, the stoic mask he so often mastered slipping more and more. The wolf in Yuriy was furious, blinded by the shock and the fear the red head kicked the bench again, over and over until he was certain something in his foot had been broken.
''Mr. Ivanov, I think we might have to look at that foot of yours.''
Yuriy glared so heatedly at the doctor Dafoe almost felt burned.
''You're not looking at shit until those two get out of there!''
''Mr. Ivanov, you're bleeding.''
''Don't you dare let them die!''
''No one's going to die.''
But Yuriy didn't trust him. He didn't trust anyone who cut people up as a living, especially not since the men in white coats at the Abbey. He knew none of the men inside the surgery room were Gods, they couldn't save a life more than a cigarette could save an asthmatic. Swearing loud and angry, he finally sat down on the demolished bench, pulling at his hair as he growled at the shiny floor.
Kai shook his head, tired and lacking all the patience he had recently held. He wanted to control himself, wanted to be composed and cold but the wait had been too long already. If this wasn't over soon he wasn't sure just what he'd do. Dafoe looked silently at him, just as tired as the rest of them but feeling like he had to keep the air of a professional.
''Is he alright?'' Kai spoke, boring his stare into him.
''Yes, he is. I managed to stabilize the situation. I believe they should be done in there in a short while, actually.''
He noticed the Phoenix eyeing the blood suspiciously, mouth so taut with distrust it looked almost painful.
''Don't worry. It's messy at places like those. They'll be fine.''
Without waiting for an answer, Dafoe walked out of there, leaving the two men in their unnaturally tense silence. Somehow the emptiness of the room was echoing, as if the absence of people taunted them, mockery lingering like a foul smell in the air. Kai sighed bitterly, before he also sat down on the abused bench.
Waiting, staring, hoping that Dafoe's words held truth and weren't just another in the long line of empty promises.
When he opened his eyes something felt odd. His limbs had embodied the sense of rocks, lead running through his veins with a thundering, burning speed as his heart tried desperately to run a marathon on broken glass. His eyelids were the heaviest of all, and when he had managed to pry them open his vision was blurry and unfocused, much like a dirty lens.
The sight of chalk white walls met him, screaming with their cold emptiness and not a speck of dirt could be seen or counted. A beeping sound came from his close left and his distant right, heavy breathing accompanied by the familiar smell of antiseptics. Rei groaned, even getting run over by a bulldozer would have been nicer.
He had done a lot of stupid things in his life, but trying to sit up must have been the price winner. The moment he tried it, not only did his numb muscles protest violently, but there was an immense and unbelievable pain, unlike any he had ever felt, stabbing him in his lower stomach. Rei yelped with a sore throat, falling back against the pillow again as the stitches burned like hellfire.
Groaning he turned his head to the left, now that his vision was clearer he could make out a heart rate monitor and some odd looking IV. His eyes scanned the area for a short moment, before he remembered the other beeping noise he had heard. He groaned at the thought of sharing a room, not exactly in the mood to chat with a stranger when his mind was like Dresden after the bombing for the moment. With a small amount of dread, Rei turned his head to the right.
He immediately changed his mind. Sitting up was no longer the stupidest mistake in his life.
There, in a white, clean bed, lay none other than Boris Kuznetsov himself. Only, it didn't look like Boris at all. The thin, pale, sunken face looked like it belonged to someone older, someone tired and weak. Blue veins glowed brightly and clearly under the skin, dark circles surrounding the closed eyes. The grey hair only made him look more like a ghost than Rei had thought possible.
As Rei kept staring at the man and the tubes and the machines, his heart beat harder and he wasn't sure what to feel. Relief washed over him as he could only feel that safe when the Falcon was near, as much as he felt pain of being so close to the one who broke the last piece of his heart. And he was afraid now, more than he had been before because Boris didn't look a minute further away from dying.
He sighed, not tearing his eyes away even though the image hurt so much. Even though it confused him, he wanted to watch the other man sleep.
He didn't know how long he had been staring. Maybe just a minute, maybe an hour. In his drugged haze time felt fluid, like it wasn't really moving forward but instead just kept coming back. Flowing in circles, repeating the same moment again and again. In a way it was much like his life always had been.
But finally, and yet too soon, the Russian moved his own heavy eyelids, groaning at the same unbearable pain, to finally glare hatefully at the room. Through his disorientation, Boris got the feeling of being watched. Through the pain he focused his eyes, seeing nothing but a blur of black and white at first but after a moment, he could make out something golden.
And immediately he realized who it was.
''Rei?'' Boris' voice was raspy and hoarse, unused for so long it almost hurt to form the words.
He couldn't really believe what he saw. Maybe a part of him didn't want to believe it, either. Deep down something inside of him wished for it to be one of his many nightmares. In which his pain was not as gruesome, but where those golden eyes would look at him, hurt hitting him again and again like balls out of a cannon. And at the same time, Boris had missed those eyes. Even though it angered him to even admit it to himself, he had missed those eyes so god damn much.
''Good morning, Boris''
He almost thought he was back in the past. Back to one of those mornings when he would wake up, black hair in his face and a lithe form crushing his chest or arm or whatever it could get a hold of. When the sunshine that ravaged the room would reflect in golden pools, followed by a catlike yawn and for just a fraction of a moment, the world wasn't all that shitty anymore.
The only thing that stopped him from believing that, was the strain and the sadness in the voice, dropping like a stone as it hit him. And he knew, that all the fuck ups and bottles of self pity hadn't been just a bad dream. Things weren't like they had been before he made the biggest mistake of his life and he was still the worlds greatest asshole.
The person that lay in the bed beside him, with the sharp collarbones and cheekbones that seemed more prominent than he remembered, that wretched, drenched kitten that looked like the mightiest of white tigers in his eyes… that wasn't his to hold anymore. And it angered him, anger towards himself for being so stupid and yet, there was still anger that he even felt such emotions at all.
He wasn't supposed to feel anything. But how could something that felt so wrong, still feel like the only right thing in his life?
''I'm an asshole, aren't I?''
He didn't know why he said it. Didn't know why, but there were so many things he wanted to say but he couldn't form the words. He had never had anything to say in his life, and now when the words were roaring to be let out he found his vocabulary was just a few words too short. Boris' pride was happy about that, though, and the stubbornness in him kept those words locked away.
''You're the biggest asshole there ever was.''
They lay staring into each other's eyes in silence. Thinking fervently, trying to come up with something to say. Finally seeing each other for the first time in months, what Rei thought would have felt like meeting a stranger was just like putting on an old glove. It looked different and strange, but it still fit as comfortable as it always had.
Rei wanted to touch him, wanted to tell him how much he had missed the Russian's hurtful words and rude manners, how much he had missed smelling his skin in the morning and waking up next to his warmth. He wanted to punch him straight in the face and tell him how much he hated him and how much he hated himself for loving him.
But he didn't know how to say it. Didn't know if it was okay to say such things to the person who betrayed your trust. He didn't know if it made any difference. But he didn't have to, because it was Boris that surprised him by speaking again. Wearing that furious glint in his eyes but behind it was something else, something so hidden Rei wasn't sure Boris even noticed it himself.
''Do you hate me?''
It was odd, he thought. Other couples threw the L word around a lot, but them, never. Instead they had, in a way, created their own language. They never asked if the other loved them, never told each other that they did and Rei didn't really think they had uttered the word in any way at all. Except the hidden one. This one, the clothed in disguise. The one others would simply frown at, failing to understand how they could ask such things.
''I don't hate you.''
An outsider would never understand, that the phrase 'I don't hate you' was the same to them, as the phrase 'I love you' was to anyone else. Sometimes Rei wondered if they even understood it themselves. It was a macabre way of saying it, but he guessed that for them it worked. And it meant a lot more hearing it than if they would have said nothing at all.
''I don't hate you, Boris'' Rei spoke again, and the Falcon knew what he was going to say long before he opened his mouth. ''But I can't… I can't come back. Not now. Not in a long while.''
There was a slight, undetectable shard of hope in his voice as Boris muttered his answer.
''Then what about after now?''
Rei sighed sadly, wanting to run out of there and get away from the warmth and the comfort he felt by being in the same room as the Russian. Yet he didn't want to leave. Maybe he was a weak person because of that, but in times when the brain and the heart screamed two different things, the heart always screamed the highest.
''Just tell me, Rei. Tell me what I have to do.''
The intensity in the grey eyes crucified him, silver blades through his weak old heart, cold and hot at the same time. His stare left shivers down his spine, serious as death and with the battle lust of a soldier. They knocked the speech out of him for a moment, leaving Rei dizzy and tired.
''I don't hate you, Boris. But I don't trust you either and it's gonna take a long time to mend that.''
''Rei, I – '' the words caught in his throat, unfamiliar since he had never spoken them once in his life. ''I'm…''
Sorry, so, so fucking sorry.
But Rei just gave him that warm, sad look.
''I know. I know.''
''No, you don't!'' Boris couldn't stop himself from yelling, the heart rate monitor going wilder as his heart raced with desperate anger. ''You don't know shit, Rei!''
Then Rei surprised him with a smile. A small, weak, weeping little smile.
''Yes, I do. Your eyes give you away.''
Boris looked at him, silently he gave him one last look before he closed his eyes again, exhaustion too strong to fight. Rei watched him as he returned back to sleep, the smile not dying away until his own eyes started feeling heavy. And as Rei too, drifted off, he hoped that it wouldn't take too long before someday, somehow Boris had made it all right again.