I seem to have lost some readers, I apologise if it's been to heavy on the medical terminology and that's why people have stopped reading and reviewing. All constructive criticism is welcome as well as reviews.
9. "When you feel all alone, and the world has turned it's back on you, give me a moment please, to tame your wild, wild heart."
Pulling her knees up to her stomach Nikki willed the never-ending nauseous feeling to disappear. When she had been given the information leaflet on side effects to expect she hadn't been expecting them to be so instantaneous, yet here she was just 10 hours after starting the chemotherapy schedule praying for the torment to end.
"Nikki," Victor whispered, reaching out and placing his hand on her shoulder.
"Don't touch me," Nikki cried.
Victor nodded. "Ok," he breathed, his eyes thick with tears as he watched his only child suffer.
"Is there anything I can get you?" Leo asked, from his position by the door.
"Water," Nikki croaked, her throat sore and dry.
Handing her a bottle of water from the small mini fridge inside the cupboard Leo watched as Nikki took a series of shaky sips.
"How long has she been like this for?" Leo asked.
"A few hours," Victor recalled, even though it had felt like days to him.
Leo nodded. "I feel so helpless."
"The doctors gave her some anti-sickness medication so she hasn't actually been sick yet, but the nausea, shivering and body aches don't seem to be helped by anything, she's in so much discomfort that she can't even handle anyone touching her," Victor explained, his voice breaking.
"If you need anything?" Leo offered.
Victor looked towards where his daughter sat huddled in the chair, her whole body trembling. "Is Harry here yet?"
"I sent him a message," Leo explained.
Victor leaned back heavily against the wall. "He's the only person she's asked for all day."
"They're very close," Leo agreed.
Both men were distracted by a commotion from the edge of the room as Nikki stumbled to her feet, slowly and painfully making her way to the bed. Throwing the top cover to the end, she covered herself with just the sheet as she laid her swimming head against the pillow.
"I'm just going to sleep," Nikki told them, as if feeling the need to explain herself to her father and friend.
"Sleep my child," Victor whispered, as he sat down in the seat next to his daughter, picking up one of the leaflets off the side he started to read about everything that they could expect to face over the coming days, weeks and months.
Nodding into the pillow Nikki closed her eyes, trying to ignore the way that the sheet scratched against her burning skin or how even with her eyes closed she could feel the room spinning around her, taking a series of deep cleansing breaths she finally fell into a somewhat unsettled slumber.
"It's only day 1," Victor sighed.
Leo stepped towards the fridge, loading more bottles of water into the fridge. "I know."
"Which means it's going to get harder, much, much harder," Victor stammered, unable to comprehend the pain and suffering his little girl would have to go through in the fight for survival.
"She'll get through it," Leo assured him.
Victor nodded. "I know. I have no doubt in her strength. It's me I'm doubting, I mean I've barely been a father to her at the best of times, let alone now, when things are so hard and she needs me most."
"You'll find a way to be there for her," Leo tried to reassure him.
"I hope so," Victor breathed. "I really hope so."
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Harry was just about to enter Nikki's hospital room when he almost collided with a departing Leo.
"I got your message. Nikki, is she alright?" Harry asked, not stopping to catch his breath.
Leo shook his head. "No. But she's sleeping now and probably will be for a while, they gave her some medication to combat the side-effects that has a very strong sedative effect.
"I should have been here," Harry insisted. "I just went home to get a shower but then I fell asleep, and Emma turned up and ... I should have been here. I've let her down enough and Nikki she-"
"You needed to sleep," Leo reminded him.
Harry shook his head. "No. I needed to be here."
"You would have been no good to Nikki if you'd passed out from exhaustion," Leo pointed out.
"Right, yes," Harry stammered.
Leo could see that the younger man was struggling with the recent chain of events, and the last thing he needed was for him to completely fall apart. "Nikki will be asleep for at least a few more hours, so how about you and I get a coffee?"
"It's nearly midnight, I highly doubt the hospital canteen is open," Harry said, drawing Leo's attention to the time.
"It's not. But this is Central London and I know a lovely little 24 hour bistro just a few minutes walk from here. We can be there and back before Nikki even realises we've gone," Leo suggested.
Harry considered the offer for a few moments. "Is she on her own?"
"Her father is there," Leo replied.
"Her father?" Harry frowned, not quite sure how to word the million questions that were racing through his mind.
Leo nodded. "Nikki called him in the early hours of the morning, no matter how old people are they always need someone."
"Good, that's good," Harry agreed.
"So coffee?" Leo prompted, trying to keep Harry's mind on track.
Silently Harry followed Leo out of the hospital's night entrance and around the corner towards the all night bistro, a quaint little brick building situated just away from the hustle and bustle of one of London's biggest hospitals.
"So how did you find this place?" Harry wondered, as they sat down opposite each other.
"I didn't, Janet did, she found it on one of her many all-night vigils after I was attacked," Leo explained, as he busied himself in looking at the menu.
As the waitress approached the table both Harry and Leo ordered a coffee and sandwich, neither of them having had anything substantial to eat in the last few days.
"Was it really bad?" Harry questioned, referring to Nikki's first day of chemotherapy.
Leo was torn, on one hand he didn't want Harry to feel any guiltier than he already did for not being there, but on the other hand he didn't want any secrets. "It wasn't pleasant."
"I should have been there," Harry muttered, repeating his sentiment of earlier.
"There's going to be plenty of days like this to come, days that she'll need you there," Leo said, not sure how much of a comfort he was being, but needing to feel like he was doing something.
Over the years Harry, Nikki and himself had formed a family of sorts, they had laughed, loved, cried and struggled together. Through the ups and downs they had all been there for each other and right now he felt like it was all fragmenting around him, and now matter how hard he tried to couldn't keep it from falling apart.
Leo watched as Harry stirred his coffee, his mind obviously elsewhere. "Is everything alright?"
"Everything is sunshine and puppies," Harry sarcastically replied.
"I mean, is there something else going on? Something I can help with?" Leo elaborated, hoping that there was something he could do, because at the moment he felt like he was drowning in his own helplessness.
Considering his options for a few minutes Harry was silent as he devoured half of his sandwich before answering Leo. "Emma's pregnant."
"Pregnant," Leo stuttered, as if saying the word out loud would make it mean something different.
Harry grimaced as he took a large mouthful of coffee. "That was pretty much my reaction, only add in a little more shock."
"Wow, that's … pregnant," Leo said, not sure what else to say.
"I don't know what to do," Harry admitted.
Leo could see the complete and utter fear and panic in Harry's eyes. "I'm not surprised, a lot has happened over the past few days and I know that you and Emma have only known each other for a few months."
"I don't love her," Harry blurted out, without thinking the words through.
"You don't have to love someone to have a family with them," Leo pointed out, trying to sound supportive and not judgemental.
Finishing off the rest of his sandwich Harry washed it down with some coffee. "I'm not in the right place to be a father right now, I mean … Nikki needs me and I need her to be my priority but now Emma, she-"
"She needs you too," Leo finished for him.
Closing his eyes Harry nodded. "Everything is such a mess and I don't know what to do, I fee like a clown juggling too many balls and eventually I know one of them is going to drop, I just don't know if I can control which one it is."
"You'll do what you feel is right," Leo told him, honestly believing that when the time is right he would.
Harry looked down at his empty plate. "I'm going to head back to the hospital, Nikki might be waking up soon."
"I'm going to finish here and then head home, I need to go into the office tomorrow and release the official post-mortem results but I'll come by at some time," Leo explained, as he watched Harry get ready to leave
"I'm supposed to be on call tomorrow," Harry remembered.
Leo shook his head. "Don't worry, it's sorted."
"Thank-you," Harry smiled, as he put some money down on the table before heading out into the cold, London night.
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The clicking of the IV machine had almost become a comfort to Harry over the last few hours as he had sat in the hospital room, waiting for Nikki to wake up. Just like the steady rise and fall of Nikki's chest had been a steady reassurance, giving him peace of mind that Nikki was still there, still fighting.
Standing up Harry paced quietly back and forth across the room, shaking the cramp out of his legs.
"Still here?" Nikki yawned, as she pulled herself into a sitting position.
Harry walked back over towards the bed and smiled. "Like I said, I have no life."
"Where's my father?" Nikki asked, looking around at the room and realising that her and Harry were alone.
Harry sat down on the edge of the bed, being careful to avoid her legs. "He's gone to get a shower and fresh change of clothes."
"No chemo today," Nikki realised.
"No, only odd days for this cycle. Right?" Harry asked, trying to remember back to the consultation with her doctor.
Sitting forward Nikki nodded. "Right."
"So just the ATRA today?" Harry asked.
"Yes. And that I can deal with," Nikki breathed, licking her dry lips. "It's the triple dose of toxic drugs from yesterday that knocked me out, talk about a potent cocktail … and not the good, alcoholic kind that I'm used too."
Harry reached out and rested his hand on hers. "How are you feeling?"
"Surprisingly normal, in fact better than I have in a few days," Nikki answered, after taking a silent stock of her symptoms, other than a dry throat, residual cough and mild body aches she felt alright.
"Feeling up to a walk?" Harry asked.
Curling her fingers around his Nikki nodded. "I'm not sure how far I'm allowed to go though."
"I wasn't thinking of anything adventurous, just the day room, or if we're feeling really wild maybe even the cafeteria," Harry smiled, trying to lighten the mood a little.
"What time is it?" Nikki asked.
Harry looked at his watch. "Just gone 8."
"Have you seen any of the nurses?" Nikki questioned, as she pushed the sheet off of her and swung her legs over the side of the bed.
"They were in here just before you woke up, they connected the antibiotic to your IV line, after that's finished they said you'll be free of lines for the rest of the day," Harry informed her.
"Hence the walkabout," Nikki smiled.
Helping her to her feet Harry wheeled the IV stand over to the chair and watched as she sat down. "Hence the walkabout. Could you … could you find someone for me please?"
"Why is everything alright? Are you feeling sick? Can I get you anything? If you're in pain we can give today a miss," Harry panicked, his heart rate increasing at the thought that something was wrong.
Nikki couldn't help but smile at his concern. "I'm fine," she laughed gently, immediately putting his mind at ease. "I'm just in desperate need of a shower and I wanted some advise on how to do that with my latest accessory," she explained, motioning to the central line that hung from her chest.
"I'll see who I can find," Harry said, as he set out to look for someone, returning just minutes later with a nurse.
"Hello," the nurse smiled. "My name is Jodie and I'll be your nurse for the day," the tall redhead said as she approached Nikki.
Standing up Nikki walked over to the cupboard and took out a wash bag, towel and spare change of clothes. "Hello. Nikki, I'm Nikki and er, I was wondering if you could show me how to shower, this is all new to me."
"Of course," Jodie nodded, following Nikki towards the en-suite bathroom.
"I'm just going to go and make a few phone calls, I'll be back shortly," Harry excused, picking his bag up off the side.
Nikki smiled, her whole face lighting up as she did. "I'm not going anywhere."
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Reaching the doorway Nikki paused, tugging self-consciously at her cardigan as she watched Harry walk towards the lift.
Sensing that Nikki was no longer beside him Harry stopped and turned back towards her, his heart broken as he saw the fear and doubt on her face as she stood frozen at the entrance to the ward.
Motioning to the chairs that sat just outside the ward Harry sat down, watching as Nikki sat down next to him, not saying anything he just took her hands in his, letting her know that he was there when she was ready to talk.
After a few moments silence Nikki finally spoke. "I know it sounds stupid and irrational but I'm scared."
"What of?" Harry asked.
"That everyone will take one look at me and know," Nikki whispered.
Harry nodded. "And so what if they do know. It's nothing to be ashamed of."
"I know," Nikki breathed, her voice nothing more than a whisper. "But I'm not ready for people to pity me, I don't think I'll ever be ready for that part of it."
"It's human nature Nikki," Harry told her.
Tugging nervously at her t-shirt Nikki could feel the short plastic central line that was taped to her chest under it. "I know, it's just … daunting."
"You look beautiful," Harry told her, and he meant every word of it as he took in everything about her.
Colour was starting to return to her cheeks giving them a rosy tint, her eyes were back to their usual chocolate brown and her golden hair was tied back in a loose ponytail. She wore a pair of faded, skinny jeans tucked into a well-worn pair of UGG boots, a cream and white striped jersey top covered her central line perfectly and the outfit was finished off with a grey, oversized cashmere cardigan that she cuddled around herself in a self-protective manner.
If you didn't know you would have no reason to believe that the petite blonde was currently undergoing treatment for leukaemia or that she was anything put the picture of health.
Nodding Nikki saw the truth reflected in Harry's eyes, he was right, it was human nature and there was nothing she could do about it. Standing up she held out her hand, waiting as Harry took hold of it.
"Well are you coming or not," Nikki laughed as she headed towards the lift, not protesting as Harry draped his arm casually around her shoulder, in fact she was more than content to move further into him so that their bodies were touching as the lift made it's decent to the ground floor, and Nikki made her first public appearance since the diagnosis, with Harry right by her side.