Disclaimer: I do not own ER, Ray, Neela, or any of the music mentioned. I'm not trying to profit from any of the songs, it's for entertainment purposes only.
A/N: Thank you so much for the reviews! Sorry it took me a while again, but things will be getting back to normal in a few weeks, and I will be able to update sooner.
But at least I kept my promise about updating this chapter sooner. I know it wasn't by that much, but it still has to count for something, right?
The three of them walked out the door of the hospital an hour later. They spent part of it waiting for the doctors to finish signing the papers. Why did just being released take a long time? Hopefully the patients didn't always have to wait that long, but most of it had been spent in the ER with everyone wanting to talk to Ray and telling him things like how they couldn't wait for him to get back to work and the such.
He didn't know when he would be well enough to come back, but he hadn't even left yet and they were already trying to get him back in? He loved being a doctor and working where he did, but right now he was sick of this place. He had to get out of here for a while. Maybe he wouldn't feel like that after being home for several weeks.
While he couldn't remember living with her, at least the satisfaction of knowing Neela would be there helped put his mind at ease. Not that he would need help with everything, but it was a comfort to know that if something did happen he wouldn't be by himself.
She was willing to take a week off of work, so they had to be closer than he had thought. He just wished he could remember. It felt like there was this whole other life that he had lived that he knew nothing about. Like when you're trying to think of something and can't remember the name of it, even though you know for sure that you do, or at least that you had once before. There were so many things he had done, places he'd gone, moments he had had that he couldn't remember. Like they had never happened.
They stood at the end of the street as they tried to call a taxi, thinking that would be the best thing to do right now. Ray's car was back at the apartment and he never wanted her to drive it, something she always took offense to. She wasn't a bad driver, he was just uptight when it came to his car. He would really irritate her when she drove, telling her she was going too fast or too slow or whatever little thing it was. Then when she would slow down or speed up like he wanted after that, he acted like he was having some sort of conniption or panic attack and tell her that now she was driving too slow or too fast. She could never seem to satisfy him. So to keep her sanity she didn't drive his car. It was better that way. She guessed Ray didn't like anyone driving his car other than himself.
A taxi finally pulled up next to them and Neela opened the door for him so he could get in.
He turned to Abby and gave her a friendly smile as Neela started putting his bags into the back seat. While him and Abby had gotten off to a shaky start at first, actually he had gotten off to a shaky start with virtually everyone when he arrived, he did like Abby and consider her one of his friends.
"Let her help you when you get home, Ray" she said in a lower tone so Neela wouldn't hear "or I'll chase after you with a syringe" she added to lighten the mood a little.
Which she did. He let out a laugh, knowing she was only joking with him. He hated when people were so serious when they would talk to him about what happened. He realized what happened to him was serious, but was it so hard for everyone to loosen up a little? He had amnesia, he wasn't dying.
"No more sharp objects for a while, ok?" he replied back, but after she had stuck him out of nowhere that one time, he probably shouldn't put it passed her. He hadn't been expecting it. He didn't want to think of her coming after him with something else when he wasn't looking if he didn't listen to her.
She gave him a small smile and stepped forward so she could wrap her arms around him, which he reciprocated. Even though Ray could get under your skin sometimes, he did grow on you after a while. No matter how much you tried to fight it.
Neela turned back around right when they were starting to pull away from each other. She hadn't heard what they were talking about, but was pretty sure she had heard them laughing. She was somewhat curious, but she had the feeling they weren't talking about her so she wasn't going to ask. She was glad the two people that were most important to her got along with each other.
They got out of the way so Ray could get into the car. He did it slower than usual obviously, but they weren't in any hurry. The round of medications they had given him still hadn't worn off yet, but she could tell that just getting into the back seat was a mild struggle. Not that it was anything to worry about. She would have to make sure to go to the pharmacy later that day. She didn't want to make him go with her when the ride home would most likely leave him exhausted.
After shutting the door for him, they walked over to the other side and faced each other.
Neela didn't know exactly what to say to her. Abby was one of her very good friends, and she didn't know what to say? There were two people she could talk to when she couldn't talk to anyone else, and Abby was one of them. In a way, she hated times like this when she was feeling too much to be able to put it into words. She didn't hate what she was feeling. She hated when she wanted to describe to whoever it was, everything she wanted them to know and couldn't. She didn't know where she would be if it hadn't been for Abby. She had been there for her more than anybody. Would she ever be able to repay her?
With a smile on her face, one that showed just how grateful she was, she told her "Thank you" and leaned forward to give her a tight hug, "For everything" she said softly and full of emotion, hoping she would understand everything she was trying to tell her.
Abby wrapped her arms around her as her mouth started to curl up into a smile. "I didn't do anything for you that you wouldn't have done for me" she told her honestly, knowing exactly what it was that Neela was trying to say. She didn't feel Neela owed her anything. She was just doing what any friend would have done. Besides, he wasn't just her best friend's friend. He was her friend, too. She had been worried about him just like everyone else was.
She held onto her for a few seconds longer. She didn't want to make Ray wait too long in his current state. He was understandably eager to go home.
They pulled back from each other and just before Neela opened the door so she could get in, Abby told her "Call me if you need anything" letting her know she was still here for her.
She didn't need to tell her that, but it was still nice to hear it out loud. Abby was already going to be covering a lot of her shifts while she was gone, and on top of that, she was offering to help her even more. She was making all of this a lot easier. She appreciated the offer, but she couldn't ask her to do any more than she already had done and was going to do. Not saying anything, Neela just gave her an appreciative smile. Since Abby knew what she meant before, with her being one of her best friends, she was sure she would understand that.
She got into the cab, with Abby closing the door for her after she got in. They both waved goodbye to her just before they started to drive away, and Abby gave them a quick wave in return also before they did so.
The El would be faster, but there was no way he was going up the long flight of stairs that led up to it. Not when he just stepped foot out of the hospital not 5 minutes ago. He preferred this. He wasn't really in the mood to most likely have to stand up the whole way home and be surrounded by a huge crowd of people trying to get on and off the subway. This would be a lot better.
She smiled at Ray as he told the driver the address. He didn't remember living with her, but at least he did remember where it was. She did realize he didn't have a complete and total loss of memory, but she still couldn't help but grasp onto what little hope she did have. It might have been crazy, but it was all she had left.
They sat there in silence for a few moments. Why were car rides always so quiet at times with no one in the car saying a word? Was it because people didn't know what to say to each other? People always daydreamed for some reason.
They had shared so many memories since they she had moved in, and some before that even. Where was she going to start? Would just telling him about it be enough? A lot of them she would love to tell him about, but others she obviously didn't want to talk about when she did everything she could not to even think about them. He did have a right to know about his own life, and she would remind him someday. She would tell him what happened in the hospital that day and why this happened to him, but not today. She didn't want to talk about the accident. It wasn't the right time, and she still wasn't ready to tell him about it yet.
She turned to him again and noticed he was staring out the window. She never usually had a problem being able to tell what he was going through. Most of the time she could tell when something was bothering him or when he needed or wanted something, but at the moment, she had no idea why he looked like that. He had such a serious look on his face and whatever he was thinking about, it was clearly taking up a good deal of his concentration. He was in so much of a daze that he wasn't even blinking his eyes. Was he asleep with his eyes open?
"Ray?" she questioned, checking to see if he would respond. When she saw him move his head a little, not looking at her, but still doing so in her general direction, she knew he had heard her. He must have done it to let her know that he was listening. "What are you thinking about?" she mumbled, she didn't want the driver to overhear their conversation.
It took a moment for him to respond and she wondered if he was going to answer her. He had still been in a fog and it took a second for him to pull himself out of it entirely. Shaking his head a little, he said in a way that almost scared himself "I'm looking at some of these places" referring to the stores and buildings they were passing "trying to remember if I've been to any of them. I was hoping they might help me get back something. Anything. Some of them look familiar and I know I've seen them before," that was when he finally turned his head all the way to the side to look at her, and finished defeatedly "but I honestly don't know."
She felt so bad for him. She didn't know how she would feel if it were her. He must have felt so lost. Looking him in the eye, she replied "I know it's frustrating, but you're only going to drive yourself crazy if you do that." It wasn't going to work that way. "Don't try to force it, just let it come to you" she said, trying to continue being optimistic. She wanted him to remember, too, but his way wouldn't make things any better. Sometimes when you try to remember something, it seemed irrational, but it's best not to think about it for a while and let it might come to you later. When you're not expecting it.
She could be right. It would come back when it was ready. But what if it didn't? He had no idea where he had been at this point in his life. Was he happy? Did he still have his band? He wasn't in his first year of residency, he was an R2 and would soon be an R3 even. He had just lost the last year and a half of his life.
No. Neela was right. He couldn't let himself dwell on these things. He still had a lot to be grateful for. He looked at her again and gave her a small nod of agreement. Ray wasn't always the most patient person. His life was always fast and intense, but these kind of things took time. Something he would have to learn to get used to.
The taxi pulled up to their apartment and slowed to a stop. After paying the driver, she grabbed his things as the two of them got out.
Finally, he was back home. This was something he did remember. It wasn't exactly a five star hotel, but it was still home. They got onto the elevator, pressing the button for their floor. It was only a couple of flights, but if he walked up those, then he may as well have gone up the steps for the El. What would be the point?
The doors opened again not long after that. They made their way out and towards their apartment. She didn't think Ray had his key with him, so she started rummaging through her purse for hers. He would forget his key sometimes, and she would always have to let him in. She didn't like to leave a spare under the mat, or on top of the door-frame or on the light like a lot of people did. To her it was basically handing a burglar the key to your house. After she moved in, she was the one who encouraged him to get rid of it, telling him that she would make sure he had his key with him or to let him in if he needed her to. Anything but leaving a key to their apartment out in the hallway.
She found it when they had reached the front door. Taking it out, she unlocked the door and pushed it open, following him inside before pushing it shut.
He looked around the apartment for a second, scanning over everything like he was seeing it for the first time. He could tell not all of it was his. It seemed exactly the same and yet so different. It actually looked clean. She did live here. There was no clothes on the floor or the couch, and no trash on the coffee table. The place looked nice. Having a girl for a roommate might not be so bad after all.
But there was still something he didn't understand. Seeming confused, he asked, trying to figure this out "Were we dating?" It was something he had been meaning to ask her. She was with him at the hospital every day, had spent every night there. He could tell how much she cared about him. It was unlike anyone else did. That was the impression he had gotten seeing as how the signs appeared to say 'Yes', and they did live together. He wasn't sure if they were going out or if they were just living together as friends. Why would she be living with him if there wasn't something going on? It wasn't like she didn't have a place to live. Last he remembered she was staying with Abby.
"No" she told him quickly, as a brief flash of pain went across her face. It made her think about it, but she wasn't about to go on and say that they weren't, except for one night when they had both been really drunk. That would only mix him up even more.
He looked at her questioningly and waited for her to explain. He didn't understand. Then what happened with Abby?
"I was sleeping on Abby's couch every night and she wanted more time to herself." She kicked her out basically, but she didn't want to say that to him. She completely understood why and never blamed her. How could she after what happened to her? "Everything was either too expensive, or not suitable for human occupancy" she still couldn't believe some of the places she had seen. How could people live in places like that? If he hadn't taken her in, she probably would have ended up sleeping in the hospital like he had before he lived here. Maybe he took pity on her a little because he knew what it felt like. Whatever it was, she had always been thankful to him because of it.
The look on his face changed when he realized what she was talking about. He still didn't remember any of that, but at least he knew what was going on. It did sound like something he would do and he had no reason not to believe her. He wouldn't just let someone he knew live on the street. Another reason he was glad she was living with him. It made him feel good knowing that he had helped take care of her. He didn't know why he hadn't asked her this sooner. All this time he didn't know if they were friends or if there was something going on between them or what. Nothing had changed there. He never got what was really going on between the two of them even before the accident.
"Well, I'm happy you're here" he told her sincerely, meaning every word.
"Me, too" she smiled at him. She was getting a glimpse of the old Ray again, the one she knew. The one who saved her and risked his life for her. The one she missed more than anything. Their apartment hadn't felt the same without him. With him here, she didn't feel so alone.
"I'm tired. I'm going to lay down in my room and watch some TV for a while" he said, letting her know where he would be if she needed him. He hoped he didn't give her the wrong idea. He wasn't trying to say that he didn't want her around. He didn't mind at all, but he just got home. Perhaps he did want a little time to himself after having so many people around him for the past week, but hopefully she wouldn't think it was because of her.
"Sure" she mumbled. He needed the rest. She wanted to hang out, but they did have a week. He did say he was happy she was there with him, so it couldn't be her. Even with him back home, their apartment still felt empty in a way, but it was better than being there without him.
Today had been a long day, he wanted to go in his room and relax. He wanted to lay in his bed, happy it was his bed, and not some wimpy excuse for a bed that they had at the hospital. Those things were so small and had no room to move around in. He didn't need his entire bed all to himself, but he did at least like some space to be able to get comfortable. At least be able to lay on his side without having to worry he might roll off. It was hard trying to sleep on your back every night. Then when he actually did go to sleep, a nurse would usually come in and want to take his blood pressure, or change his IV, or draw some blood; whatever reason it was. They always woke him up at around 5 or 6 every morning to do something on him. He was too out of it to ever know what it was. Not just that, how did they expect people to sleep with a bunch of crap stuck in their arms, and the monitor's beeping incessantly in your ear? Needless to say, he was very tired.
He laid gently down onto his bed. Leaning his head against one of his pillows, he grabbed the remote so he could turn on the TV.
One of the things he had missed the most when he was in the hospital was having satellite. Watching TV could get boring after a while, mainly because they didn't have that many channels. There were things to watch sometimes, but it wasn't the same. He started looking through the guide, loving that he had so many different stations to choose from. He was enjoying this way too much.
After finding something he wanted to watch, Nightmare on Elm Street, he sank deeper into the bed to get more comfortable. This was one of his favorites when he was growing up. Ray was a sucker for horror movies. Always had been ever since he was a kid. Most of them he was too chicken to watch them by himself. He usually had one of his friends watch it with him. It was absurd, but he sort of liked feeling afraid. It was exciting. Just like being a doctor. It gave him the same rush every day.
He closed his eyes for a second when his stomach started to ache suddenly. He brought his hand up and placed it there gently. He wasn't in any mortal danger, but he guessed the pain meds must be starting to wear off. Moving his hand to the bottom of his shirt, he lifted it and looked at the mark from his surgery. Obviously he had treated patients who had been stabbed, and knew it had to be very painful, but he hadn't realized it hurt this much. He was seeing it in an entirely different light, and felt sorry for anyone who had to go through this.
He looked around his room. Where was the medicine the doctor had prescribed him? They hadn't picked it up from the pharmacy on the way home. How could he have forgotten that? He slowly let out a breath as he did his best to suppress the pain. This happened to him every now and then. It would go away, but it would take longer without his medication. There was nothing to worry about. This wasn't anything serious. He had just been released a few hours ago and did a lot today. He was fine. It was completely normal. He didn't need to go back. He wasn't going back.
Slowly but surely, the pain in his stomach began to fade.
After he felt good enough, he watched his movie again. He wouldn't watch the whole thing, but only until he couldn't keep his eyes open. Which from the look of it, would be sooner than he thought. During commercials, he closed his eyes as they started to feel heavy. He wasn't sleeping. He was awake. He could hear everything. He would know when the movie came back on, and would watch it.
That was when he heard a knock on his bedroom door, which had caught him by surprise and made his body fidget quickly, startling him. So much for getting some rest. Why didn't anyone ever let him sleep? He was going to need seven days just to catch up.
"Come in, Neela" he called, knowing there was no other possibility of who it could be. Hearing the door opening, he shifted so he was sitting more upright.
"Hey" she said sweetly as she walked inside. He said he wanted to go in his room and rest, basically meaning he wanted to be alone, but it was his first night. She couldn't help it. She wouldn't keep him up for long, she wanted to talk to him.
He looked at her and said "Hey" with a soft smile. He wasn't mad at her. She was doing this because she cared. "What's up?" he asked, wondering what her reason was for coming in.
"I wanted to show you something."
As she took a few steps towards him, he noticed she had something in her hand but couldn't tell what it was.
That's good, he's watching a scary movie for a change. And Nightmare on Elm Street, he never watches that. She smiled. He's still Ray.
Sitting beside him on his bed, she held up what she had so he could see. It was her photo album.
"I was looking through it when I was in my room. I was hoping I could show you some pictures" she said as she placed it on top of her lap.
"Ok." He wasn't stupid. He knew why she came in here and why she wanted to do this. She was hoping it might help.
She opened it to search for what she wanted. She didn't want to show him a picture of just her. There were some in here that had been taken before she met him. That wouldn't do him any good.
Turning the page, she beamed "There" as she found it and turned it around to him.
It was the two of them. He didn't know for sure where it was taken, but from what he could tell, it looked like they were at work. They were so different. This hadn't been taken recently. "When was this?"
Her heart sank. It was silly, but she thought the pictures would do something. "Our last day of first year residency."
All the resident's had their picture taken at the beginning and the end of the year. Mostly to show where they had been and were going. So naturally there was also a picture of them with Abby. But they both agreed they should have one of just them. It was the first picture they had ever taken together.
That was about a year ago, and he was right, it was taken at work.
But nothing. He shrugged his shoulders a little, feeling bad that it didn't work.
She guessed as much. This could have been a dead end, but she was going to try. She was being irrational. She couldn't just show him a single photograph and it expect it all to come flooding back to him. She needed to try harder. How? She had never done this before.
She turned another page as he was still holding it in his hands. She reached and pointed to a certain one.
His face lit up for a brief moment as he smiled. They looked so happy. They were standing closer than they were in the last one. They seemed more relaxed in this. He even had his arm around her shoulder. He really liked this picture. "Where are we?"
Once again she felt disappointed. His initial reaction had thrown her off. "At a bar called Curtain Call. It's a karaoke bar."
Was she making this up? He believed her before, but she had to be joking. Neela in a karaoke bar? It sounded too good to be true. "Karaoke? You?" he said, still in disbelief, not meaning it to sound insulting. "You don't sing, do you?" It was more of a statement than a question. He couldn't see her going up on a stage and singing in front of a crowd of people.
"Every time. We both do together." She wasn't upset with him for thinking that. He's used to the way she was before. Back then she never would have done that sort of thing. She didn't want to the first time, but Ray kind of made her. Now she really missed it. They hadn't been in a month.
Together? He wasn't surprised that he had, but she did? Really? That was something he had to see. "Did we go a lot?" Probably not.
"All the time" she answered as she looked him in the eye. "Everyone knows who we are."
He just thought they had gone once or twice. He didn't know they went that much, and she sang every time? "So, when was this taken?" he asked, talking about the picture again.
"Three months ago. You wanted to do it because we didn't have a picture of us there." They went there so much it felt like it was something they should do. It was strange that it had taken them so long to do it.
He went back to staring at it. "It was my idea?" From what she said it sounded like it.
"Yes" she mumbled, although he was asking questions he already knew the answer to. "You said..." she started, but decided it wasn't the best thing to say. She just remembered it now, but she hadn't thought before she started talking. She didn't want to tell him.
Unfortunately for her, Ray was never the kind of guy to let things go. "What?" he stopped looking at the picture and back at her.
"Nothing." Why was she doing this? It never worked.
"Neela" he said quietly, wanting her to know he was being serious. She had to tell him now.
She sighed. He wasn't going to stop. She didn't have a choice. She was quiet, not wanting to say it and trying to put it off longer. Looking at the picture, she said sadly "You said you wouldn't forget it, and wanted a picture" She hated herself for telling him this. Now she wished she hadn't come in here "so you could look at it and remember." This was so awkward. She had to stop talking. She didn't know what made her feel worse, that he didn't remember, or what she just did.
"Oh" he said, not sure how to respond. He felt so guilty. He had been so busy thinking about himself that he had forgotten about Neela. This had to be so difficult for her.
"I'm sorry." Hopefully he wouldn't be too hard on himself, especially with how he was in the cab earlier. "That's not why I came in here."
Trying to make her feel better, he replied "I know." He knew she never meant to hurt him. He closed the album and set it next to him on the bed. "I'm trying, but I can't." No matter how much he tried, he couldn't remember.
Putting her head back up, she was able to bring herself to look at him. "It's not your fault." He did feel like he was to blame. Thanks to her.
"You're right." It wasn't like he wanted any of this, or was doing it on purpose. He had no control over it. But that was the thing. Having no control over something that was happening to you could be scary. He didn't like the idea, but what could he do?
She was relieved he agreed with her and realized that it wasn't his fault, and that she hadn't done more damage to him with her careless choice of words.
He leaned back against his pillows as he felt the fatigue creeping back. He needed to get some sleep. It was starting to give him a headache.
"Something wrong?" she asked, noticing his sudden change in behavior.
"Just a small headache. I'll be fine after some sleep." He turned off the TV since he hadn't been watching his movie. He wasn't trying to kick her out or get rid of her, but he wouldn't be able to stay awake for much longer.
She could take a hint. Picking up on his subtleties, she stood up to leave. He could borrow the album until he was finished with it. She wanted him to look at it some more. Was why she had brought it in. "I'll pick up your prescriptions from the pharmacy." No, she hadn't forgotten. He needed them soon. He must have been in pain.
Half asleep already with his eyes closed, he mumbled "Thank you."
She turned and walked towards the door. Before she left she heard him saying something else to her. She had to listen carefully.
"Turn the light off on your way out, will you?" He was too tired to turn it off himself. He wasn't going to be able to sleep with it on, and his head would hurt less with it off.
"Of course" she whispered back, before flipping the switch and closing the door.
A/N: Hope you liked this chapter! What do you think? Good? Bad? Awful beyond belief? lol It's ok, you can tell me. Sorry if it was bad, but it wasn't easy to write, especially the end. *wipes forehead* lol
I would really love input from all of you! I have an idea for the next chapter but, I don't think it will make it long enough. I could use some help so I want to know what you guys would like to see happen. *Please tell me something other than Ray getting his memory back. I already know you guys want that hehe* Would you like humor or more drama next time? Or maybe something else? I'm hoping it might give me some ideas because I want the next chapter to bridge the gap for what I want in chapter 16. So, please review and let me know!
Oh, and if you haven't already done so, please read the story that DocRock and I wrote together! The link to the sn is in my profile!