Matt Flannery sat with his head in his hands, elbows on his knees, and stubble thicker than just a five o'clock shadow on his face. He'd past his thirty-sixth hour in the hospital a few hours earlier, but was still as determined as ever not to leave. He couldn't walk out of that hospital while Emily was blinking her beautiful eyes awake every few hours.
So far, that was all she'd done. Her eyelashes would flutter, her eyelids peel slowly away from her blue-grey eyes. She'd lay there awake for a few seconds, a few minutes, it was getting longer each time she came to. And, every time she woke up, he'd been right beside her, holding her hand, and encouraging her to stay awake just a little longer this time.
Her doctor insisted it was good, even though she wasn't moving, wasn't saying anything, this was good. She'd get a little of herself back each time she opened her eyes, and eventually, with any luck, Emily would be walking and talking. At least, that was the doctor's hope. It all depended on the severity of the brain damage. Three years unconscious is bad, but waking up was a good sign that maybe, she was healing.
Their friends had come by yesterday when he first called, and waited around with him a while before resuming their lives. They all had work to go to, but Cheryl put Matt on leave for a while. They'd broken the good news to the CNU and HRT, and at first everyone was just too stunned to really feel anything. Then they all wanted to know about Matt.
Was he there when she woke up the first time? Was he alright? He must be thrilled and terrified all at once? How was he holding up?
They assured all their colleagues that Matt was there when Emily opened her eyes the first time, and that he was holding himself together pretty well. He'd been bizarrely calm when they got to the hospital. Emily had already closed her eyes again, so he was simply sitting, holding her hand, staring at nothing in particular. The doctor had told him, she might not open her eyes again, but for the first time in three years, Matt had a little hope.
That's how'd he'd gotten through the last forty hours. After three years of nothing, her blinking awake regularly was enough hope to get him through a lifetime, maybe two. It was certainly enough to get him through the next few critical days.
According to the doctor, when she tried to speak or move, was crucial to determining how badly her brain was damaged. Sooner was better than later, and actually moving or making a word would be amazing so far as her doctor was concerned. He'd warned Matt, that even though Emily blinking awake was good news, that she'd been out for three years, that already pointed to a pretty severe brain injury.
Dr. Edwin, Emily's neurologist for the last three years, was very careful to keep Matt grounded in reality. Truth was, if Emily became completely awake, she wasn't going to be the same woman, not at first. She would have to relearn to talk, to eat, to walk, brush her hair, wash her teeth, use the bathroom, everything. She might pick it all up, and grow into herself again, or she could struggle to find and make words the rest of her life. It's possible she suffered some paralysis, and maybe she'd walk with a limp, or maybe she'd never hold a gun again.
Worst case scenario; Emily's eyes would open, and that would be it. She wouldn't smile, talk or move, but just lay there, completely non-responsive. Dr. Edwin referred to it as a persistent vegetative state. Her eyes would be open staring up at the world, and that would be it.
Only Matt knew that wasn't the case. He'd seen it when Emily opened her eyes the first time, and every time after, what he'd never be able to explain to the doctor. He'd seen her there in her blue-grey eyes, the same as he'd seen her years ago, before she'd fallen and closed her eyes for a three-year long nap. Matt didn't know what would happen when she finally tried to speak, or move, but he knew she would. Emily wasn't going to wake-up a vegetable, he was as sure of that as he was his own name.
"Hey, you look tired." Lia's voice startled Matt into jumping.
"I haven't slept, I don't want her to wake-up and me not be there," he said.
"How long were her eyes open the last time?" Lia sat down beside him.
"About seven and a half minutes. Edwin says she's doing good, especially after three years."
"I agree. I still can't believe she's actually waking up, after all this time."
Matt nodded thoughtfully. Truthfully, he'd doubted she'd ever wake-up too. He shouldn't have underestimated the determination of this Princess from Princeton.
"Work's been crazy, yesterday, today. The energy there, you'd think it was days before Christmas. Everybody's just buzzing," Lia said.
"Better than Christmas, Lia. Way better than Christmas."
Lia smiled, before her face quickly changed, and she slapped a hand over her own mouth. She took off toward the ladies room.
Matt cringed watching her. Apparently her morning sickness was already striking with full force. Baby Gonzalez wasn't going to make the pregnancy easy on her.
Hours later, Matt was back inside Emily's room again, reading to her. Lia had gone back to work, still looking a teeny bit green. It seemed that her morning sickness was any old times it felt like it sickness. She'd get used to it, along with all their coworkers, or at least, they'd get used to her running to the bathroom.
"So, the jury did find the guy not guilty, citing the supposed injury to his frontal lope. His reasoning centers damaged as were his emotion control centers. So, he couldn't control his emotions in the store, and he relied on bad reasoning, that's why he took five people hostage. That's bullshit. They all rely on bad reasoning, and none of them are in control of their emotions, that's why they snap. I know you love this shrink stuff, Em, but this is just wrong." Matt shook his head, and closed the psychology journal.
He'd kept Emily's subscription active, going to his apartment, so he could keep her updated. She always liked to know what was going on in her field, especially important legal decisions. This was just a dumb jury, though this defense wasn't nearly as bad as the Twinkie defense. That was awful.
"Oh, Cheryl was telling me that Temple and Binder got a good one the other day. Guy in his early thirties, took five hostage in a cable car going up a mountainside, you know the sight-seeing thing? Well, this guy was convinced he'd been abducted by little green men. Every couple of years since he was twenty-five, they'd come for him.
So, right off the bat, their thinking paranoid-delusional, possibly schizophrenic, definitely off his meds. This guy keeps ranting, and go on and on about all the wacky tests they've done to him. He wasn't anally probed though, Frank was disappointed about that. According to this HT, the last time the aliens took him, they impregnated him with an alien-human hybrid fetus." Matt laughed lightly at the idea.
"Binder is talking to the guy, trying to explain to him that he can't be pregnant, because he doesn't have a uterus. HT swears they 'engineered' him with one over the years. He's freaking out because he doesn't want to be mommy to an alien baby, so Binder promises if he gives up, they'll make sure he gets a pregnancy test. HT starts screaming that he doesn't need a test, he already knows he's pregnant.
Now, Cheryl's standing there listening, laughing so hard she can barely stand. Half of HRT isn't paying attention, because they just can't control themselves. Temple and Binder have no idea what to do with this guy, they were wishing you were there to give them a little help. God, I wouldn't have known what to do. But, finally, Binder pretends to schedule an emergency abortion, and that's what brings the guy in. He drops the gun, releases the hostages, and allows the FBI to take him into custody so he can get an abortion."
"When they came in to see you yesterday, they were all still laughing." Matt smiled and placed a kiss to her palm, holding it against his face. He was sleepy, after so long at the hospital, he couldn't not be. He let his head rest on the bed by hers; he'd rest just for a few minutes. At least that was what he intended, instead he drifted off to sleep, still holding Emily's hand in his.
Frank and Cheryl came in about an hour later to find Matt asleep beside Emily. Lia's morning sickness was hitting bad, so Duff had taken her home to relax, and hopefully get a few minutes without vomiting. He told Frank to give them a call if Emily started talking or moving. Rather than wake Matt, Cheryl and Frank retreated to the family room a few doors down, and talked quietly for a while. Matt was still asleep at 8:30, so Cheryl instructed Frank to go home to his wife and step-kids, and said she'd take care of Matt.
They were all a little worried about him. What if Emily woke-up a vegetable? What if she suddenly stopped waking up? What if she woke up and didn't remember anything? What if the brain-damage was so severe she could barely function? They were afraid any one of those outcomes would just destroy Matt. He'd waited for her three years, and now that she was blinking her eyes every so often, he'd believed it had been the right decision. He believed he'd be with her again, and god knew, he was counting on it. What if he couldn't be with her again?
Cheryl was afraid he'd be so upset, he'd just give up completely. No, she didn't think he'd overtly hurt himself, but there are more subtle ways that his subconscious can develop to hurt him. He'd been devastated when Emily had fallen and become comatose, moping around, completely heartbroken. It was only after he'd started visiting her everyday that the tortured look in his eyes had begun softening. So, maybe it wasn't healthy for him to go on thinking he had a relationship with a comatose woman, but it was better than him looking so pained. Cheryl was afraid he couldn't handle that kind of devastation twice, he'd barely handled it once.
With that in mind, Cheryl slipped quietly into the familiar room, and got comfortable in a chair by door. When Matt woke up, she was dragging him out of the hospital and sending him home; it was for his own good, and just for the night. He could come back in the morning. Cheryl picked up the psych journal Matt brought, and was immediately engrossed in a case.
Matt blinked awake twenty minutes later, feeling eyes watching him. They weren't Cheryl's eyes though, they were Emily's. He started when he saw her watching him, and she was actually watching him. There was life and intelligence in her eyes, he saw it now, clear as day. Matt felt her hand tighten around his, and his heart began to pound. He squeezed her hand back, still staring into her eyes, trying to tell her that he knew she was in there. He hadn't given up yet, and he didn't plan to anytime soon.
Her mouth began to move, opening a little bit, as stiffly as it had earlier. She struggled to move it, clearly she wanted to make a word, but easier said than done after a three-year long coma. As she struggled, she gripped his hand harder, and Matt let his thumb rub back and forth across her hand, trying to sooth her. She managed a soft groan, of release or frustration, he couldn't tell. Still, she'd made a sound.
Matt heard movement, and turned, Cheryl had walked to the foot of the bed, and was watching Emily try desperately to speak. Her eyes were wide, and lips parted slightly, as if she were mesmerized. Maybe she was. He turned back just in time to see Emily finally manage a word.
"Matt…" She almost breathed it out, and the tension visible in her body finally eased. She lay breathing deeply, as if that one little word had been very difficult.
Matt brought her hand to his mouth, kissing it. Tears had already formed in his eyes.
I know it took a while, but I delivered as promised. Thank you everyone for your patience, and thanks for reading!