Author's Note: So… hi. As much as I love this story, something's been bothering me about it. I've never been one to go back and change stories once I mark them completed, but I didn't think it would hurt this time around. I realized as I was rereading this story that I never had a resolution with Walter and Ryan! I knew that back when I was writing it, but it made sense at the time. But now… it bothers me. As I'm sure it may have bothered some of you. So I whipped this little bit up to put my mind at ease. Hope you like it!
Ryan felt as if he had dropped out of time. His mind was so hazy. He couldn't tell the difference between dreaming and being awake anymore. Sounds faded in and out of existence as he drifted in and out of consciousness. Sometimes he heard the rhythmic beeping of a machine somewhere nearby.
Sometimes he heard voices. People calling his name gently, speaking soothing words in his ear. They sounded familiar, but his poor mind felt too weak to fully grasp their identity. Once in a while his eyes flickered open. There was always someone there, sitting calmly by his bedside. He couldn't always remember who it was, his mind was far too exhausted, but he distinctly remembered seeing Tripp once. Probably because it had been a bit of a surprise to see him there, looking concerned and caring instead of his usual cantankerous self.
Whoever was sitting there at the time would smile at him, say hello. He was always too tired to do anything more than smile back weakly and fall asleep again. He had no idea how much time had passed between his brief moments of consciousness. Sometimes when he woke up, the sunlight was streaming through his window. He thought he heard rain at least once. And then he was pretty sure he woke up in the middle of the night, because he'd found Natalia sleeping gracefully in the chair next to his bed, the moonlight half-illuminating her lovely face. That had been a nice image to fall back asleep to.
Little by little, he felt some semblance of strength returning. He could move his hands and feet a little. He could stay awake for longer than five seconds if he tried hard enough. The painkillers they had him on were working well, but they weren't doing anything to improve his lucidity. His back ached sometimes, but it wasn't anything unbearable.
His thoughts were scattered. If he ever tried to grasp one, it seemed to slip through his fingers. But vaguely a picture began to materialize in his mind of what had happened to him. Piece by piece, he remembered…
Ryan opened his eyes.
Sleep immediately began pressing on the back of his mind, trying to coax him back under. But he fought it off.
There was someone he needed to talk to, and it couldn't wait anymore.
Ryan grinned weakly when he saw that person sitting at his bedside, resting his head on one hand.
Walter looked up when he saw Ryan flex his fingers, seeing his eyes open. He leaned forward, a worried look on his face. There were shadows under his eyes, giving his normally cheery face a haunted look. His eyes were bloodshot. He smiled a very relieved-looking smile.
"Hey," he said quietly.
Ryan's eyelids fluttered closed, heavier than lead, but he held on to wakefulness as hard as he could. He swallowed, his throat feeling inhumanly thick and gross. He opened his mouth to speak, but only a cracked whisper came out.
"Dude… you look …like hell."
Walter laughed. "You're a fine one to talk. How're you feeling?"
"You've been in and out for a couple days now," Walter told him. "The doctors said you're gonna be okay. I think they want to study you now or something, though. Said no one should have survived what you did."
Ryan raised his eyebrows in amusement. "…Really?"
Walter didn't say anything for a moment. "Ryan, you were dead," he said quietly. "Dead. A couple times, actually."
Ryan opened his eyes again and grinned weakly at his friend. "Sorry… about that," he whispered. "What… can I say? … I'm awesome."
At first it looked like Walter was going to laugh again, but instead there was a terribly pained look in his eyes. With a start, Ryan realized there were tears welling up in his friend's eyes. Walter hid his face in his hands.
He didn't answer for a moment. "I'm so sorry, Ryan," he mumbled through his hands. "I'm so sorry."
Ryan felt sorrow well up in his heart. He hated to see his friend like this. Greg Phelps was to blame, not Walter.
"Listen… to me," he pressed weakly. He didn't think he'd be able to stay awake much longer, but this was too important. "This wasn't… your fault…. You saved me."
Walter reluctantly took his hands from his face and met Ryan's eyes. There wasn't an ounce of blame or falsehood in his face. He wholeheartedly meant what he was saying.
"You almost died… protecting me," Ryan continued tiredly. "You woke me up… If it weren't for you… Phelps would have… killed me."
Walter looked down at his hands in his lap. "He almost did," he mumbled.
"But he didn't," Ryan insisted. "'Cause you got me… to the hospital. 'Cause of you, Walter."
Walter still looked doubtful, not meeting Ryan's eyes.
"…Thank you," Ryan whispered, closing his eyes again. He wanted to say more, but he was just so tired… "Thank you… for saving me."
A moment of silence passed between them. The sounds of the room, the beeping of the monitor, were starting to fade again in Ryan's ears.
"Thanks for not dying," Walter muttered.
"No problem…" Sleep sounded like a very good idea…
"And, hey, next time?" Walter said, his voice suddenly changing into a chiding tone. "When you're at a crime scene? Don't be an idiot and go off on your own!"
Ryan grinned weakly as the shadows gathered in the back of his mind, preparing to drift off again. "Yes, mother."
(for reals this time lol)
Author's Note: Hope you enjoyed it! :D As always, I adore reviews! *hinthint*