Apparently i am evil for torturing you with the last chapter. This makes me all happy inside! I promise, no more evils (no, my fingers are NOT crossed behind my back).
I can't thank you all enough for coming on this little journey with me. To those that review i've loved reading your reactions! I seriously cannot get enough of your words! To those that read only, thank you so so much for taking the time.
So here we are, at the end. Big love and hugs to you all. See ya next time!
"I wasn't going to, Jane."
"You were, I saw your hand move."
"No, you thought you saw my hand move."
"Your hand moved, Benji."
Brandt had been listening to the conversation in mild interest for some time. He wasn't awake, not in the general sense of the word. But he was aware, from afar but close enough to hear, and to feel, each time the Englishman poked him in the shoulder. He heard gentle rustling, a paper? Newspaper, that was it. A shift, someone in a chair adjusting to gain a little more comfort. A breeze? No, something moving, by his arm. Contact, a hand, the thumb caressing his skin. It moves, the sensation gone. Returning but now at his forehead, a brush of a hand through his hair. The weight welcome and gentle. Comforting.
His body feels like its cocooned in a bed of cotton wool. There is no pain. No discomfort. The feeling is one he's had before. The memory distant but accessible. He feels like he's floating, he should be concerned but isn't. The drugs in his system ridding him of worry and stress.
He knows he's alive. That's enough for now. He lets go and drifts off into the comfort of his drugged abyss.
The second time he's aware he hears silence, assuming he's alone. He's still too tired, too removed to try to open his eyes yet. There are distant footsteps in a hallway. Muffled voices down a corridor. As he focuses on the sounds another noise reaches his ear. This one closer. No, not closer, this one right next to him. He's aware now of a weight on the bed next to his hand. His eyes are still yet to open, but his fingers are curious. They raise, glancing across what feels like hair. A gentle snore reaches his ears. Its peaceful rhythm lulling him back into the welcoming arms of sleep.
Benji sat up, certain he'd felt movement. He stared intently at Will's face, illuminated by the lights in the hallway meeting the light coming in the window from the full moon. His face is relaxed, pain free and content. Benji's eyes travel down to the hand he had fallen asleep against. He placed his own hand over Brandt's, smiling as the injured man's fingers moved again.
The third time he's conscious enough to take in his surroundings fully. Noises first. A TV show in the background. Voices of nurses and doctors in corridors. An easy chuckle to his left. A laugh full of abandon to his right. Someone shushing the noise makers. Jane.
This time he's aware enough that his curiosity gets the better of him.
His eyes, at first, refuse to open. He had no idea how long they'd been closed, but the slight pull around his eyelashes gives him a hint that its been a few days. To begin, nothing is in focus. There's a huge white blur without definition. Brandt blinks, in his mind the command was to blink quickly, the action carried out at a somewhat slower pace than he'd anticipated. Each time his eyes close, they reopen a little clearer . White blurs become grey blurs. Colours begin to creep in and finally he can make out shapes. People. Their features are too fuzzy to make out who they are, but their voices leave no room for doubt.
"Jane, how can you not find this funny?" Benji.
"It's stupid." Jane.
"That's why Benji likes it." Ethan.
"Well that's just plain mean. When Will wakes up he's find it just as funn….."
Ethan glanced over, his eyes questioning what had silenced the other man. Benji was smiling, completely and fully at the injured man in the bed.
Brandt was looking directly at him, but couldn't seem to focus fully. He blinked, again and again. In the end he closed his eyes and smiled as he said, "Hey."
"Hey yourself. Nice of you to finally join us." Benji clasped Will's hand, smiling even more when the gesture was returned.
Ethan leaned forward, pushing the call button as he did so. "You with us?"
Will nodded, licking his dry lips as he tried to get his eyes to open again. Something pressed against is lips, he opened his mouth and almost cried in relief as something cold and wet was pressed onto his tongue.
"Ice," explained Jane as she dropped a few more slivers onto the thirsty man's tongue. "The least I can do after putting lip stick on you."
Will found the motivation he needed to open his eyes. He regarded his friend fondly even though part of him was attempting to glare at her.
"I'll think of revenge," Will said as his eyes began closing of their own volition. He heard someone coming into the room, Ethan explaining that he'd been awake, knew them, seemed to remember part of what happened. He tried to listen to more but the exhaustion pulled him from the conversation and pushed him out to drift along the ocean.
It took a further six attempts for him to come fully awake. Each time he would have a small conversation, then, usually mid sentence, he'd drift off to sleep again.
It was driving Benji nuts.
So when Brandt awoke three days later to the sunshine streaming in, he could forgive Benji for his reaction.
"Don't bother trying to talk, just go to sleep," said the former technician as he flicked through the channels on the TV set up in the corner. He didn't even bother looking at Will. He stayed slouched in his chair with his head resting in his hand.
The former analyst smiled, rolling his head to the other side to see Ethan smiling at him.
"How you feeling?" Asked the team leader.
"Why do you keep asking him," grouched Benji, who still hadn't looked over. "He's only going to give you half an answer and go back to sleep."
Ethan ignored him as he stood and leaned forward, his hands on Brandt's bed, his eyes full of relief.
Will considered the question, which Ethan silently thanked him for. Now was not the time for the patented fine. The injured man focused on his leader, seeing him fully for the first time in a week.
"Ok, I think. Guess I'm on the good stuff?"
"It's quite a cocktail they've got you on," laughed Ethan.
Benji threw the remote down and jumped up.
Will smiled, rolling his eyes as he did.
"I know," agreed Ethan. "But it's your fault he's gone slightly….er…what was the word you used, Benji?"
"Bonkers. I've gone slightly bonkers waiting for this idiot to wake up properly and have a coherent conversation. Do you know how boring it is being stuck in a hospital with nothing but crap channels to watch?"
"No," answered Ethan. "But he will do."
"Oh yes!" Benji proclaimed a little too excitedly for Brandt's liking. "You're going to be stuck here for at least another week." He stated with finality as he slouched back triumphant in his win.
"Won't be so bad," decided Will. "There's loads of movies I want to watch."
Benji ignored the bait. Ethan answered for him, "You have a list?"
"Yeah, some sci-fi, some action, a few comedies. We haven't had much down time so it's the perfect opportunity." Brandt yawned, his jaw cracking at the action.
"They'll have to be short movies," said Ethan affectionately, "not sure you'll last through any long ones."
"TV series then."
"Like what?" Asked Benji, his interest piquing and overcoming his attempt at ignoring the bait.
"I'll let you decide," smiled Will as his eyes drifted closed.
"Uh huh, at this rate mate you won't last through a commercial, let alone an episode."
"Whatever," whispered Will, as he once again drifted off to sleep.
The following days were a slight blur for the injured man. He woke sporadically, sometimes for an hour, other times for a few minutes. But with each period of consciousness he was able to hold a conversation, remember previous talks and happily annoy Benji.
They took turns sitting with him, never leaving him alone, even during the night. Ethan had found a house to rent for when Brandt was finally released. It was one floor, with a secluded garden and four bedrooms. The perfect place for their injured friend to recuperate. The doctors were pretty confident that he'd be joining them in their temporary home in a day or so. His progress coming along well despite his injuries and exhaustion. Brandt had avoided asking the full extent of the wounds. He knew he was avoiding the inevitable, he knew he was happily floating on the wave of denial. The fact Ethan had taken on full responsibility of the doctors prognosis gave Brandt the excuses he needed to side step asking about his own health. Each time the matter of his injuries was brought up, he found an excuse to change the subject, or all of a sudden found himself too tired to stay awake to listen.
Ethan wasn't letting him get away with it any longer. He understood the fear. He really did. But if Brandt would just listen to the doctors he wouldn't need to be so worried.
Ethan stood at the foot of the bed. Benji had his usual place on the right, Jane on the left. Brandt was sitting up, doing his best to avoid eye contact with the senior agent.
"No more hiding from this, Will."
"You are, you've decided that because you can't walk without help that this is how it always will be. As the doctors tried to tell you, there's extensive damage. But you're lucky."
Ethan ducked his head, trying to catch Brandt's eye. The former analyst was looking intently at a small hole in Benji's jacket. Benji ducked his own head and repeated Ethan.
"You were lucky. Really lucky."
Will looked into his friend's eyes. Searching for the lie.
He found none. Looking back up at Ethan his eyes held the doubt that had invaded his soul.
"I can't walk."
"No," agreed Ethan, "you can't. But you will. The doctors have said it. You're going to need physio, lots of it. And its not going to easy, especially with your right leg broken. But the muscles are all good. You're strong and healthy, there's no reason for you to not recover fully."
"And we're here to help," interjected Jane. "You'll be back to full strength in no time."
"Honest?" Will asked, in a voice he didn't recognise.
"Honest." Came the reply pronounced by three voices. Will nodded, his shoulders dropping slightly as he relaxed. He hadn't realised just how much he'd let his fear from the wreckage of the car imbed itself in his heart. He'd been certain that he'd wake up to no legs. And even when he woke up with both, he convinced himself that the doctors were just humouring him. He had tried standing on the left leg, only to have it buckle beneath the small amount of weight he dared put on it. He could barely feel his legs, let alone his feet and toes. Ethan had told him it was the bandages and pain killers, but still the doubts prevailed.
He saw no doubts in any of the three sets of eyes upon him.
He was going home. He was going home whole.
"When do I get to leave?" He asked, smiling as the three let out the breath's they'd been holding. Jane watched as the worry and stress melted from Will as he settled further into the bed. Benji winked at her from across the room.
"Two days," informed Ethan. "But there are rules."
"Oh yeah?" Asked Brandt amusedly.
"As you still haven't asked for the details, I'm going to lay them out with the rules."
Will nodded, his body tensing up slightly.
"You're ok," reassured Ethan, again. "Your left leg has got some nasty cuts, but the doc says you can walk short distances."
"Like form the bed to the couch," interjected Benji.
"Your right leg though was broken by the impact, but you were lucky and it's a clean break. They can't put it in a cast yet because there's also deep cuts. They've immobilised it though with a strap on cast so you can get around with crutches. Short distances though."
"Like from the couch to the bed," clarified Benji.
"Your left side they had to operate on to fix the rib and repair the damage. Nothing too extensive but it means using crutches is going to be painful. The doc wants you to try using only one on your right with someone else supporting you on your left. Short distances though."
"Like from the bed to the bathroom," said Benji firmly.
"You've got a concussion, but it's not too bad. You're still suffering from shock and exhaustion so I'm afraid, my friend, you are stuck in bed for at least another week when you get out of here. You can get up, but only in short spells."
"Like from the bathroom to the bed."
"Benji!" Exclaimed Jane as she threw her hands in the air.
"He gets the point."
"Yeah, but it's Will," Benji gestured at the man in the bed, who was trying his best to look innocent and not grin.
"Ok, fair point." Jane lowered her hands and sat back.
Ethan watched Brandt as he watched the exchange, with each injury the agent had relaxed further. His fears pushed into the distance and forgotten like an old, unimportant memory.
Will looked up at his team leader. "I get the point," he said as he smiled with relief. "When I need to move, I ask for help."
"That about sums it up."
"I have a rule of my own though."
Ethan laughed as he spread his hands in anticipation.
"I get to pick the movies."
"What? That's not fair," pouted Benji.
"If I have to rely on you guys, the least you can do is give me control over what we watch."
"That's pretty fair," agreed Jane.
"What you got in mind?" Asked Ethan as he sat down next to Benji.
Will leaned over carefully and picked up a hand written list he had folded on the table. He gave the paper to Jane, who read through and laughed as she passed the page to Ethan.
"That's quite a list," said Ethan as he handed the page to Benji.
Benji read through, frowning. He looked up at Will, then back to the page.
"You don't like the choices?"
"Well, some of them are ok, but what the hell is Paul?"
"You'll like it."
"Fine, so long as it's not silly, it has a story and doesn't revolve around aliens like your other choices."
"Oh, and one more thing," said Will as he laid further back and closed his eyes. "I get to pick the food too."
"Fine," grouched Benji, who had a suspicion he'd be grouching a lot over the coming weeks. "But we get to pick what colour lipstick you wear."
Brandt would forever deny it, but he'd completely been aiming at Benji when he 'knocked' over the vase of water into the former technician's lap.
See you at the next whumpventure!