So, I have absolutely no idea where this came from… inspired, perhaps, by recoilandgrace's empty rhymes… what can I say, her fantastic but angsty writing puts me in the mood to try a bit of my own.
Disclaimer: As much as I'd like to, I don't own them.
Come Back To Me
The silence in the room is deafening. She wants to scream, to shout, to say anything just to break it. He should be here, not there. He should be sitting behind his desk, or strolling around in front of the screen, pointing out facial expressions, or leafing through a book in his study. Not lying, quiet and still, in a hospital bed, hooked up to machines and wires and tubes that make her feel like she's on the verge of losing him for good. Probably because she is.
She could have stayed – she wanted to stay – because leaving felt like saying "I don't care," or "I give up," and neither of those things could be further from the truth. She wanted to be there if – when, she mentally corrected herself, when – he woke up. And if the unthinkable happened… she needed to be there for that too.
But Zoe had arrived with Emily, and the room had been too crowded for the four of them, even if one of them was unconscious. She could have waited outside, drinking watery coffee from the hospital machine just so she would have something to occupy her hands with, but the doctor had suggested it would help Cal to have familiar things around him, that it might help him wake up.
So here she was. Standing in his office, feeling his presence everywhere she looked, trying to force herself not to break down entirely. She had to be strong; for herself, for Emily, for Cal. She swallowed, and walked towards his desk. She picked up his favourite photo of him and Emily, so he would have something to look at when he woke up. She walked into his study, and plucked a couple of his favourite books off the shelf, thinking she could read them to him as he slept. Or Emily could. Or Zoe. If she wanted to.
She took the rock paperweight off his desk, knowing how much he liked turning it over in his hands when he was thinking. Perhaps the heavy weight of it in his palm would bring him back to her. Or music… she pulled some CDs off the shelf, tossing them and Cal's small portable CD player into the bag with the other items she'd collected. Perhaps hearing his favourite music would bring him back to her.
She heard footsteps, and looked up to see Loker standing in the doorway. "Hey," he said, his face a picture of worry and concern. "How are you doing?"
"I'm fine," she said, attempting a brave smile.
"No you're not," he said softly. "Anything you need?"
She shook her head. "I've just been collecting some things, for Cal. To help him… you know. Wake up."
Loker nodded. "Call me as soon as you hear anything."
"I will." She hesitated, then gave him a brief hug. "Thanks."
"Don't forget to look after yourself too," he called as she headed out the door. She didn't reply. What mattered now wasn't her – it was the man she loved. And making sure he came back to her, so she could tell him just that.
When she returned to the hospital, the nurse informed her that there had been no change in Cal's condition, and encouraged her to go straight through to his room. Despite this, Gillian pushed the door open quietly, and with some hesitation. She relaxed slightly when she saw Zoe had gone, and immediately felt guilty for such feelings. It wasn't that she resented Zoe's presence by Cal's side – Emily was, understandably, distraught after her father's accident, and having her mother by her side was no doubt helping. But Zoe's presence made Gillian feel she was intruding somehow, even though part of her argued that was ridiculous. Cal would want her to be there; he and Zoe were divorced, and he spent far more time with Gillian than he did his ex. But seeing Zoe, Emily and Cal together always tugged at Gillian's heart and made her feel as though she were the one who didn't belong. Perhaps because, despite their divorce, they still spent the holidays together, hell, they still slept together sometimes, and they were still, in a lot of ways, a family. A family that she wasn't a part of, even if, some days, she was able to kid herself, just for a little while, that she could be.
"Gillian!" Emily lifted her head off the chair, springing forward to embrace her tightly.
"Hi, sweetie," she said, hugging the girl tightly. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Emily said, although they both knew that was a lie. "You get some stuff?"
Gillian nodded, and began taking things out of the bag. She put the photo frame on the bedside unit, put a CD in the stereo and turned it on, and placed the paperweight in Cal's hand, curling his fingers around it. "Come on, Cal," she whispered, planting a kiss to his forehead. "Come back to us."
"What else is in the bag?" Emily asked, and Gillian pulled out a couple of books. "I thought we could read them to him," she explained.
"I'll do it for a bit," Emily said, taking one of the books. "I've been talking to him, but he hasn't…" She swallowed, then wiped her eyes. "They said he could wake up at any time, you know. We can't give up hope." She spoke the last statement almost as though it were a question, and Gillian wrapped her arms around Emily's shoulders.
"No, we can't," she agreed. "And we won't," she said firmly, tilting Emily's chin and forcing her to meet her eyes. "Your father is the strongest, most stubborn person I know. He's a fighter. And he will come through this."
Emily nodded. "Yeah." She sat down, curling her feet up underneath her, and opened the book she'd taken from Gillian. Keeping her voice steady and calm, she began to read.
Zoe called in again about an hour later, apologising to Emily for the fact that she'd had to leave. "I have to go again," she said, looking genuinely sorry that she couldn't stay. "Come with me, Em, and then I can take you home afterwards."
"I'm not leaving."
"I can stay here. Gill's staying. Aren't you?" she asked Gillian.
"Yes," Gillian admitted, wondering what Zoe would make of the fact that she had no plans to leave Cal's side now until he woke up. "I can drop Emily home later. Or she can stay here with me. I'll make sure she's eating and drinking properly, and gets some sleep."
Zoe considered it for a minute, then nodded. "Okay. Fine." She pulled Emily towards her, kissed her forehead and whispered something that Gillian couldn't hear.
"Okay," Emily whispered in reply.
With another look at Cal and then a brief nod at Gillian, Zoe was gone. The door clicked shut behind her, and the room was silent again, except for the quiet beep of the machines.
"It didn't help," Emily said, her voice quivering. "The books, the music, the feel of his stupid rock…" She sucked in her breath. "What if he never wakes up, Gill?"
"Give it time," Gillian said, hugging her, drawing as much strength from the embrace as Emily did. "He'll come back to us."
"He has to," Emily said. "I can't live without him."
"I know, sweetie," Gillian whispered. "I can't either."
Suddenly, Emily pulled away from her. "I just had an idea!"
"What?" Gillian asked, but Emily was already sprinting out the room, and Gillian decided not to follow her. Instead, she sat down next to Cal, and entwined her fingers with his.
"You can stop this now," she said, a tear slipping down her cheek. "We've had the drama of your accident, and all the fun of a trip to the hospital, and you've had plenty of attention. But now it's time to wake up, okay? Emily needs you. I need you." She bit her quivering lip, her eyes raking over the scratches on his face, the bandage on his head, the medical equipment surrounding him. A constant reminder that he'd been involved in a serious accident. That he was lying in a coma. That the doctors weren't sure he'd ever wake up.
The door was flung open as Emily came in, carrying a plate loaded with bacon.
"What…" Gillian began, and Emily plonked the plate down on Cal's lap.
"Bacon!" she said triumphantly. "Dad loves bacon. He loves the smell of it – it's really strong and recognisable, right? So, he'll smell it, and he'll want to wake up and eat it. I explained to the people in the canteen, and they were so sweet – they did all this, look!"
Gillian smiled at her. "That's a great idea, Em."
They sat in silence for a few minutes, the air thick with the smell of bacon. Emily was twirling her necklace nervously around her fingers, while Gillian stroked the hair back off Cal's face, willing him to open his eyes.
"What time is it?" Emily asked, and Gillian drew her hand back to look at her watch. "Almost eight thirty. You should get something to eat; I promised your mother I'd look after you."
Emily rolled her eyes. "I'm not hungry."
"Emily…" Gillian began, but stopped when she saw, out of the corner of her eye, Cal's hand twitch.
"What?" Emily asked.
Gillian paused, holding her breath. There it was again; the slightest movement of his fingers. "Cal," she breathed, grasping his hand. "Cal! Can you hear me?"
"Dad?" Emily was at his other side, pulling the paperweight from his hand and replacing it with her own. "Dad? Can you hear me?"
Slowly, he opened his eyes, then closed them again. A few seconds later, they opened again.
"Oh my God," Emily cried. "Dad!"
"Em…" His voice was dry, but it was him, it was his voice, his accent, his eyes locked onto hers. "Gill…"
She squeezed his hand, tears leaking out the corner of her eyes. "Hey."
"It was the bacon! Wasn't it Dad? You smelt the bacon?" Emily asked excitedly. "I told you it would work!"
"Perfume," he croaked.
"What?" Gillian asked, leaning closer to him.
"Smelt your perfume, love," he said, managing a small smile.
"I'm going to get the doctor," Emily said, bounding from the room, and Gillian returned her gaze to Cal's face.
"That's what woke you up?" she asked incredulously. "My perfume?" He responded with a slight nod of the head. "Oh, Cal." She kissed his cheek, his chin, his forehead. "I thought I'd lost you."
"You'll have to try harder than that, love," he said with a slight cough.
"Ssh, don't talk yet," she said, tracing her fingers lightly across his palm. "Emily's gone to get the doctor. Just rest."
He closed his eyes again, and she allowed her face to show every emotion she felt; relief, joy, love. She'd said she wasn't going to waste the second chance she'd be given, and she wouldn't. As soon as he was properly awake, she'd tell him what she'd kept hidden for so long. She'd come close to losing him – closer than she ever had before – and she wasn't going to run away from her feelings anymore. Sometimes, it took almost losing something to make you realise just how much you treasured it, and the sad truth was, a lot of people didn't get the chance to speak the truth when they'd discovered it, because it was too late. Thanking God that she wasn't one of those people, Gillian rested her head lightly on Cal's chest, reaching her arm across him and interlocking her other hand with his. She could wait for a little while to say what she had to say. Because now it wasn't just about blindly hoping he would come back to her. He already had.