So here it is everybody, the last chapter of healing. This story was never suppose to take this long to write, but things happen. I want to thank everyone for their support and their reviews. Hoped you enjoyed. Check out my other Die Hard stories, I think they will be to your liking.
Chapter Thirteen: Hope
"Take a deep breath and push through the pain, Hans," the physical therapist encouraged him.
Hans stood between the parallel bars, supporting himself on shaky arms. His therapist stood a few paces in front of him with his arms outstretched, in case Hans lost his balance and tumbled. Christina was standing on the other side of the room, watching her husband anxiously. She had persuaded him to begin his physical therapy once more. At first he hadn't agreed, but she had assured him that she wouldn't leave him alone.
Hans and his therapist had been working diligently. The therapist had come by every day and worked with Hans for hours. They had done many long and painful exercises to build up his strength, so he could try working out on the parallel bars. Hans had tried the bars two months prior, but he was unsuccessful. His back and legs hadn't completely healed at the time.
As Christina watched, she could see Hans' strength was failing. He hadn't taken any steps yet. Hopefully today would be the day he would begin to take the first steps in his recovery. She continued to stand there. She wanted to give him a bit of motivation, but she decided to keep quiet, instead of breaking his concentration.
Hans could feel his arms losing their strength. He was holding much of his weight on his arms. His feet were on the mat, but he was hardly putting any pressure on them. He had been on the parallel bars every day and he still was unable to take a step. His strength had either given out on him or the pain had been too overwhelming to continue. Today his therapist had been pushing him harder. They had started off a bit different that morning.
His physical therapist had started him in the pool, to do his aerobics exercises. He said it would loosen up his muscles and help with the discomfort. It had worked to an extent, but he was still sore. He could deal with it a bit better, though. Today he was determined to walk, even if it was only one or two steps.
Hans continued to push through the pain and tried get his feet to move across the floor. He still had very little control over the movement of his legs, but all of the feeling had come back. He stared down at his feet clenching his teeth, while sweat rolled down the side of his face. He stood stock still for a moment, his body tense. He slowly raised an unsteady foot, which trembled. He set in back on the mat and then lifted his right foot.
Christina eyes widened as she watched her husband take his first steps. She opened his mouth to cheer him on, but covered her lips with her hand immediately. She didn't want to startle him; he was already having a hard enough time. She surveyed him take four more steps before his arms gave out and he collapsed into his therapist's arms. The therapist gently lowered Hans onto the mat. Christina went to move towards them, but the trainer held up his hand to stop her. She stood still with her hands folded in front of her, observing the two men.
The therapist had Hans sitting on the gym mat. He stood up and pushed the parallel bars to the side so he could lay his client down on the mat. In a moment he had Hans stretched on his stomach with a hot pack on his back. He stood over Hans, making sure he was comfortable.
"Just breathe through the pain and focus of the hot pack," he told his patient. "Try to relax your muscles and let the tension flow out of them."
He let Hans lie on the mat for twenty minutes, letting the pain leave his body. When he saw that Hans was finally relaxed, he waved Christina over. She walked over a little hesitant, unsure how Hans would react. Since their talk all those weeks ago, Hans hadn't yelled at her or done anything remotely disrespectful. He had been mostly quiet. She had kept her promise in keeping her space. She didn't nag him so much anymore, but kept a close eye on him. She had been really nervous leaving him alone after his suicide attempt, lest he attempt another one. She had tried to be discreet about looking after him, but she believed that Hans had caught on to what she was doing.
"Could you wheel over his chair?" the therapist asked.
Christina obliged and rolled the wheelchair over to Hans and the trainer. The therapist placed a hand on Hans' back and carefully rolled him over into a sitting position. Christina and the therapist helped Hans into his chair. Hans didn't complain - he was too worn out to care.
"You did well today, Hans," therapist addressed his patient. "Perhaps we should take a few days off and let you recuperate."
Hans shook his head. "No, I want to continue tomorrow," he demanded.
The therapist gave a small smile and nodded. "All right, we'll pick up where we left off tomorrow, but remember you're not to use the parallel bars by yourself."
Hans nodded in agreement. He then turned his chair and exited the room. Christina watched her husband disappear round the corner before she turned back to the physical therapist. "I'm glad that he was able to take a few steps," she stated.
"He's coming along nicely, better than I expected" the therapist told her.
Christina hesitated for a moment. She wanted to ask a question but she unsure if she wanted to hear the answer if it wasn't in her favor.
"I see you want to ask me something, go ahead and investigate away."
Christina took a deep breath, gazing up at the therapist. "Do you think he has a chance of getting back to the way he was before the accident?"
The trainer stood there a few seconds thinking. He rubbed his hand down the side of his face. He sighed before answering. "I'm not sure. I think he has a chance with the progress he showed today. He might need additional back surgeries to help, but perhaps you should consult Dr. Gottschalk. He could give a better answer than I could. He should examine Hans again."
"Thank you. I'll take you up on your advice and call the doctor. I'll see you tomorrow."
Christina left the workout room and found Hans in the living room watching television. She figured he wanted to be left alone, so she decided to go make dinner. She headed to the kitchen and moved over to cabinet. She went to reach up toward the opened cabinet door, when a sharp pain shot through her abdomen. She stopped and pressed her hand against her large belly. She slowly breathed in and out waiting for them to pass. She had been having these sharp pains for the last few days. It was bound to get worse; the babies were due any day now.
The pain passed a few minutes later and Christina sighed in relief. Was she in labor? No, she said, shaking off the thought. She still had at least a week left before she gave birth. She brought down the various foods from the cabinet and refrigerator. As she got ready to prepare the food, a thought popped into her head. Perhaps she should call Dr. Gottschalk over today, so he could examine Hans. Christina decided that sounded like a good idea.
She moved over to the phone that hung on the wall near the kitchen door. She picked it up and dialed the number. She spoke to the doctor and explained the events that had transpired that day. Gottschalk sounded happy and agreed that he would come right over and take a look at things. She talked to him a bit more, before she hung up the phone. She turned back to the stove and got ready to cook the food when the doorbell rang.
She sighed and turned the stove off and headed out of the kitchen towards the front door. She opened the door and saw that Simon and Hans' mother stood before her. She greeted and invited them in. She brought them back to the kitchen. As soon as Mrs. Gruber sat down in her chair, she asked about her son.
"He's doing much better. Hans has been working with his therapist every day for the last few weeks," Christina divulged. "Today he even managed to take a few steps on the parallel bars."
Mrs. Gruber smiled, glad that her son had been making progress. And to think he had quit his therapy before... All he needed was to be patient and he would get better – well, hopefully.
"Will he be able to walk again?" Simon asked, speaking for the first time since he had entered the house.
Christina shrugged her shoulders. "I'm not sure. I spoke to his physical therapist. He advised that Dr. Gottschalk examine him once more, to get a better opinion. I called him right before you got here and he agreed to come right over. "
"That's good; hopefully the doctor will give him some satisfactory news for a change," Simon expressed. He didn't seem too comfortable; he kept shifting in his chair every few minutes and rubbing his hands together. Christina frowned. She understood what he was going through; she had gone through it herself. Simon was feeling guilty about what had happened to Hans. He felt he was the cause of it Hans' attempted suicide. So did she for a while, until she had talked to her husband. Perhaps Simon should speak with his brother, smooth things over.
"Simon," Christina said to him.
Simon glanced up at his sister-in-law with a grim expression plastered on his face. "I don't blame you for what happened the last time you were here," she told him. "And you shouldn't blame yourself. Hans made his choice; you didn't make him do anything. I think you should go and talk to him about it, he's in the living room."
Before Simon could answer, the doorbell rang. Christina left the kitchen to answer it. She found Dr. Gottschalk standing on her porch with his black bag slung around his shoulder.
"Come in, doctor," she said, stepping aside and letting him pass into the house. She shut the door behind her and escorted him into the parlor. Hans was still in the same place as Christina had left him. He looked up when his wife and Dr. Gottschalk entered the room.
"Ah, Hans, how are you?" Gottschalk inquired.
Hans took a moment before he answered. "I'm doing alright - and yourself?" he asked, trying to sound polite.
"I'm doing well, thank you for asking."
Hans flipped off the television and began to wheel out of the room. "Let's get this examination over with, doctor."
"How did you know he was coming?" Christina asked. "I didn't tell you."
Hans turned back and glanced at his wife. "I heard you call him from the kitchen."
She blushed and nodded. "Right." Of course he had heard. After all, he hadn't been that far away.
Gottschalk placed his equipment back in his bag. He had just finished examining his patient, who sat on the bed observing quietly. He was surprised at what he had found.
"So what's the prognosis?" Hans questioned.
"Better than I expected."
Hans lifted a curious eyebrow. "Do tell."
"Well," Gottschalk began taking a seat. "You have complete feeling in your legs once more. Your strength is returning and your coordination is better."
"So, will I be able to get back to normal?"
Gottschalk sat in silence for a few minutes, thinking hard. "Perhaps, if you were to get additional surgeries on your back and continue with physical therapy, you will have a chance, but at this point I can't guarantee anything."
Hans took in what the doctor told him and nodded. "That gives me more hope than before."
"Good, just keep working at it and I think you'll get better, but be warned - this not going to happen overnight. This will take a long time, perhaps years."
"I understand, thank you doctor…f-for everything."
Dr. Gottschalk smiled. "You're most welcome."
The doctor picked up his bag and headed out of the room. As he walked down the hallway, he nearly crashed into Simon, who had been running towards the bedroom. Simon skidded to a halt when he came face to face with the doctor.
Gottschalk surveyed Simon. The man was pale and wide eyed. "Simon, is there a problem?"
"It's Christina; I think she's in labor."
"What?" Hans said coming out of the bedroom, having heard what Simon had just revealed.
Gottschalk didn't hesitate. He pushed past Simon and headed towards the kitchen. He found Christina sitting in a chair hunched over holding her stomach, while Mrs. Gruber stood behind her rubbing her back and whispering encouraging words.
Gottschalk walked up to the two women. "How far apart are the contractions?"
Christina went to answer, but she groaned in pain and clutched her stomach. "They're five minutes apart," Mrs. Gruber answered.
"All right, help me get her into the bedroom."
Gottschalk and Mrs. Gruber helped Christina up from the chair and headed towards the bedroom. Mrs. Gruber firmly told her son to stay put and remain out of the way. Hans complained that he wanted to be with his wife, but his protests were ignored when the bedroom door was slammed shut in his face.
They laid Christina on the bed. Mrs. Gruber helped her daughter-in-law with her clothing, while Gottschalk was grabbing things that he would need from his bag. Once he had everything, he turned back to Christina. She gazed up at him with a fearful expression.
"Just follow my instructions and you'll be alright," he told her.
Hans was a nervous wreck as he sat in the living room. If he could walk at the moment, he would be burning a hole in the carpet. But he couldn't walk, so he sat in his wheelchair. He was freaking out. One minute his wife was fine and the next Simon had announced that his wife was in labor. He hadn't seen that coming, but as he thought back a couple of days, he remembered she had been in a considerable amount of pain on and off.
Simon glanced over at Hans. He was pale and his hands were shaking uncontrollably. He could see Hans was distressed. Perhaps he should take Christina's advice and talk to Hans to keep his mind on other things. At that moment a scream echoed through the house. Hans gripped the side of his chair. He clearly wanted to go to his wife and comfort her. Simon decided he should speak to him, that moment.
"Hans," he called.
Hans slowly turned his head toward Simon, revealing an annoyed expression that was spread across his face. "What, Simon?"
"I'm sorry," Simon apologized.
Hans raised a confused eyebrow - Simon continued. "For the things I said the last time I saw you."
"Now is not the time for that," Hans growled.
"I think it is," Simon declared. "Christina is in good hands with Dr. Gottschalk and mother, she'll be alright. Anyway - the things I said to you those weeks ago were uncalled for. I didn't mean them. I was angry and well…I don't know what else, but I wasn't happy. Christina kept running to me, telling me what was going on between you and her and it all just got out of hand."
Hans sat there, listening to what his brother was trying to tell him. Things had gotten out of hand that day. They both had said some things they hadn't meant.
"We both said things we didn't mean that day, Simon, but we fought before and you've never come back to apologize. So why now?"
Simon swallowed nervously before he answered. "Because you never tried to kill yourself before."
Hans sighed and shook his head. "Simon?"
"No. You have no idea what went through my mind when I saw you laying at the bottom of that pool. When I dragged you in here and didn't find a pulse, I thought you were dead. Fearful was not the word to describe how I felt. All that went through my mind the whole time is was how I had caused this and how it was my fault. I'm sorry it took this to realize the impact of the situation. So I apologize. Not for just this incident, but for everything I've said over the years. Because these spats have to stop; where we're both grown men now and not children anymore."
"You're right, Simon, this has to stop, but I want you to know that my attempt at suicide was my own fault. Don't blame yourself it was my choice, I'm the one that did it. Your words really didn't push to do it. I had already had been considering it for a while. I don't blame you; after all, you're the one who saved me. So I thank you for that. Gottschalk told me what happened. If you hadn't pulled me out of the water when you did, I wouldn't be here now. Whatever we've said in the past is forgiven. What's done is done, let's not mention it again. I think we're both even."
Simon smiled and nodded. "Right, we're both even."
That moment, they heard the bedroom door open and Mrs. Gruber came into the living room. Hans and Simon turned to their mother.
"You can come and see Christina now," Mrs. Gruber announced.
"Is everything alright?" Hans asked anxiously.
Mrs. Gruber beamed. "Of course, go on and into the bedroom and meet your children."
She stepped aside. Hans slowly wheeled himself out of the living room, down the hall and into the bedroom. He halted in the doorway when he came upon the sight of his wife holding two babies in her arms - one wrapped in blue blanket and the other in a pink one. Christina glanced up in his direction and smiled.
"Come see your children, Hans."
Hans rolled over to the bed. He reached out and took his son into his arms. Christina placed his daughter into the other. Hans looked down at their faces. He felt the tears well up in his eyes. They looked just like the children in his dream.
"Hans, what's wrong?"
Hans shook his head. "I'm happy; they're just like I dreamed."
She didn't really understand what Hans was talking about, but she smiled, reaching out and cresting his face. "I could never thank you enough for this gift, Christina."
"I know, Hans, I know," she said with tears running down her face as well.
Hans took a deep breath, trying to get himself under control. "I think I'm going to be alright now. I'll keep my promise to you. I understand now. It doesn't matter if I even completely heal. All that matters is you and the kids. This is our second chance, Christina. I don't want to die anymore, I want to live and spend my life with you."
Christina breathed a sigh of relief. Those were the words that she had been waiting to hear. "Don't you see, this was never really about your physical healing. It was about you accepting the situation," she explained to him.
"I know," Hans said finally. "We just have to rebuild our lives slowly and everything will be alright. If I never walk again like I used to, it will be ok, but as long as I have you and my family, I'll heal. I love you, Christina."
Christina beamed. "I love you too, Hans Gruber."
Perhaps there was hope for them after all.