The next day Victoria was in her own private room. After running more tests the night before to make sure she was okay, the doctor agreed to move her out of the MICU to a more comfortable room. Victoria was still being heavily medicated for the pain and inflammation and Joy stayed right by her side. Joy was a worrier. And this particular situation caused her to worry like never before. Her insides were torn to shreds. But it didn't matter. Her only concern now was for Victoria and getting her well.
Joy sat on the side of the hospital bed holding Victoria's hand while she slept. She hadn't gotten to talk to her much with all the doctors and testing going on. Elka had gone back to the hotel to rest.
Finally Victoria stirred and slowly opened her eyes. Her heart skipped a beat as Joy's form came into focus. "Hi, beautiful." Victoria whispered hoarsely. She immediately saw the scowl deepen on Joy's face. "What's the matter?"
Joy shook her head back and forth. "Nothing. Nothing…I couldn't bear the thought…" Her voice cracked and she couldn't continue that sentence.
"But everything is fine now. I'm fine." Victoria sounded strong but Joy still wasn't convinced.
"But are you? You have a broken leg and a bandage wrapped around your head."
Victoria's eyes widened and her hands immediately went to her forehead. She tentatively touched the white gauzy wrapping. Joy watched sheer panic shadow Victoria's face.
"Will I have a scar?! Give me a mirror, Joy!" Victoria was sitting upright. Her agitation was starting to cause the blood pressure and heart rate monitors to give off warning beeps.
"Calm down, Victoria. A scar gives you character."
"I have enough characters!" Victoria raised her voice and the nurse came running in the room with concern.
"What's going on in here? You're gonna have to keep calm, Ms. Chase." The nurse reset the beeping machines and adjusted Victoria's IV dosage then left again.
Joy took Victoria's hand into hers again but before she could say what she wanted, the door sprung open and black cart with a flat screen tv was pushed in. Behind it was Susan Lucci with her famous smile plastered on her face.
"Luuucci!" Victoria sneered. "You did this to me."
Susan rolled her eyes. "Oh Victoria, please. It was an accident. Why would I kill my costar before we finished editing the movie?" This time Victoria rolled her eyes. "So anyway I brought the dailies of the car accident. It will make for great drama. I don't think we should edit anything." Susan plugged in the tv to the electrical outlet, inserted the dvd into the built-in player and hit play.
Victoria watched the screen as the car lunged for her. Joy gasped as Victoria's limp body was pinned against the iron fence. She turned away. She couldn't watch anymore. But Victoria couldn't take her eyes off of the screen.
And when the scene was over she asked for it to be played again and then again.
"Victoria, I think that's enough." Joy was started to feel sick to her stomach. That was her Victoria being bashed by a car. Her leg broken and her head gashed.
Victoria raised her arms. "Wait! Do you smell that?" Both Joy and Susan looked around confused. "That smells like an Oscar to me!"
Joy eventually went back to the hotel while Victoria slept off her latest round of pain medicine. Joy was exhausted but she only went back to shower and change clothes. She didn't want to be away for long despite Victoria's pleas for her to get some real rest.
When she entered the hotel room, Elka was watching a football game on the television but miraculously turned it off when Joy closed the door behind her.
"How's she doing?" Elka asked.
Joy sighed and collapsed onto the closest bed. "Fine. I guess. I don't know. She seems to be Victoria-like but I don't know if it's all set in. The broken leg. The gash on her head. She's worried about a scar of course but I don't…"
Elka stopped her. "Relax, bones. Take a breath."
Joy hadn't realized she was rambling on until Elka pointed it out. Maybe she was more exhausted than she thought.
After awhile, Joy settled down. "So, how long have you known?" She wasn't upset that Elka knew about her and Victoria and, as a matter of fact, she was kind of relieved.
"I knew there was something between you the day you moved in. You stayed in that hotel room together the first night in Cleveland."
"But we were conserving money." Joy explained. But she couldn't help remembering that first night in Cleveland.
"Honey, Victoria has plenty of money and so did you…back then. So there was that. Then when you both googled Hank."
"What was so telling with that?"
"She was practically sitting on your lap."
Joy thought about it all then. She thought of all the times when she had hoped Victoria would look at her like she looked at the men she dated or wanted to date. Sure, she slept with more men than she wanted to admit to but perhaps behind it all there was a need to forget about what was really going on in her head…and her heart.
She didn't know when she fell asleep but when she woke the sun was shining through the open curtain. Her aching back told her that she hadn't moved from that position for a long time. It finally dawned on her that it was the next morning and she had left Victoria alone at the hospital all night.
Flying out of the bed she hurried into the shower. Elka was nowhere to be found. Joy showered and dressed faster than she ever had before. Pulling her hair into a ponytail, Joy grabbed her purse and ran out the hotel room door.
Twenty minutes later, Joy was about to enter Victoria's room when a loud argument from inside stopped her in her tracks. She couldn't believe someone would be putting Victoria thru any drama right now. Joy pushed the door open and encountered Victoria's loud and boisterous daughter, Emmy, and the two uncharacteristically subdued Chase boys, Oscar and Tony. Victoria's three children were yelling back and forth over Victoria's bed.
Joy didn't know what they were arguing about but didn't care. She just knew it had to stop for Victoria's health.
"What the hell is going on in here?" Joy raised her voice over the other three. They stopped bickering and stared at her.
Emmy immediately put her hands on her hips – she got that from her mother, obviously. "Joy, thank goodness, a voice of reason. I was just trying to explain to the boys that mom would be better off staying with me while she heals and…what do they call it?"
"Rehab?" Joy offered.
"No! She's not an addict!"
Joy rolled her eyes and for the first time noticed Elka sitting quietly in the corner with a smirk on her face. With her eyes, Joy pleaded with Elka to help her but Elka only shrugged her shoulders and didn't say a word.
"Emmy, mother would get the best care in a physical therapy facility. You're not a caretaker or a caregiver." Tony wasn't afraid to tell his sister just what he thought.
"I'll have you know, Tony, that I played a nurse in the Telemundo original movie: Nurse Me Back to Life."
With that the three started arguing again with none of Victoria's headstrong children backing down.
Thru the mayhem Joy caught Victoria's eye. They stood there gazing at each other while the three kept up their tirades. Slowly a smile broke out on Victoria's face. The love she felt for Joy was so much deeper and more real than any love she'd ever experienced before. She knew she would never have the courage or the strength to get thru this accident without Joy by her side.
It didn't take long for Joy to soften and fall under Victoria's sweet trance. She couldn't help but return the smile.
Victoria threw her hands up. She'd finally reached her breaking point. "Ok that's enough!" The room became instantly quiet. "I'm not an invalid and I'm not staying here for my therapy. I'm going home…to Cleveland. I want to be where I'm comfortable and with…the person I love."
Joy instinctively tried to shy away from the situation but there was nowhere to hide. She wasn't afraid to show her love for Victoria but it was still so new. Joy was known for being accused of "over-loving" and pushing her lovers away. She didn't want to do that with Victoria. She couldn't. And Victoria wasn't just another lover. She was the love of her life. She always had been and that scared the hell out of her.
Elka scanned the room and noticed Emmy's mouth drop open and then close quickly. The boys didn't seem to have any reaction except thankfulness that Victoria didn't want to stay with Emmy. But Joy's reaction caused her concern. There was an uneasiness that she had never seen in Joy before. Normally Joy went head first into everything but she seemed a bit reluctant with this…this that appeared to be, finally, the best thing to happen to her in years…maybe even her whole life.
"Uh I think Victoria needs her rest. Why don't you three take your big heads and bigger mouths and get out of here for awhile." Elka opened the door and ushered Emmy, Tony and Oscar out into the hall. She followed behind them leaving Joy and Victoria alone.
"Can you imagine me staying with Emmy?" Victoria laughed. "We would probably end up killing each other or end up on another reality show of hers." She noticed Joy not responding verbally or physically. "Is something the matter, Joy?"
Joy shook her head. "I just want things back like they were."
"What do you mean 'like they were'?" Victoria's stomach dropped. She always jumped the gun and hoped she was misinterpreting the meaning behind Joy's statement. "Are you regretting…regretting this…thing?"
Joy narrowed her eyes. "What? No. No, why do you keep questioning that? I've told you over and over how much I love you and want to be with you. I just feel like ever since we made this a thing we haven't gotten to enjoy it."
Victoria smiled that smile that always melted Joy's heart. "I agree. And when I get out of here I'm going to let you know how much you mean to me."
Before she could elaborate more, the door opened and in walked Victoria's doctor. "Ms. Chase, I have good news." He flipped thru her chart then looked at them both. "All your tests have come back negative and," Joy took Victoria's hand into hers, "your fibula is not broken thru and won't require surgery. We'll put you in a soft cast and a boot and in about 8 weeks you should be good as new." His smile was genuine.
"When can she go home, doctor?" Joy asked with a cracked voice. The news was better than she had hoped. Her life had been turned upside down the last few days.
"I'd like to keep you another few days but I can't deny you if you'd want to leave…tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow?" Victoria's eyes lit up like sparklers. "Really, tomorrow?"
"Yes." He smiled again and gave them a few at home instructions for her wounds and the cast but then signed a few papers for her discharge the next day and left the room.
Joy was so happy. She leaned over and cupped both of her hands on either side of Victoria's face and quickly closed the distance between them. Their lips touched and the fire ignited inside them. Joy gently sucked Victoria's bottom lip into her mouth and ever so slowly slid her tongue back and forth across it.
Victoria suddenly tasted a saltiness and realized Joy was crying. She pulled away and tilted her head to the right as she regarded Joy before her. Without saying a word, Victoria sent Joy a comforting, knowing smile and rubbed her tears away with the pads of her thumbs.
Just as Victoria was about to pull Joy into another kiss, Elka walked in and Victoria instinctively pushed Joy away. Rolling her eyes in response, Elka walked to the opposite side of the bed.
"She knows." Joy answered the question Victoria was silently asking herself.
Elka raised her eyebrow and smiled. She loved knowing something they didn't think she knew. It took a very sly cat to fool someone like Elka. And of course there was no one else like Elka.
Victoria didn't take the subject any further. So instead they updated Elka on Victoria's progress and plan to go back to Cleveland the next day. Elka knew it would do both Joy and Victoria good to get back to their old routine.
Thirty six hours later the three of them were on a plane headed back to Cleveland. Victoria wouldn't admit it but the pressure was causing her pain in her leg and head. But knowing she would soon be home with Joy, she didn't let the pain bother her.
While Victoria slept on her shoulder, Joy took the quiet plane ride to reflect back and forward on her life. She wouldn't be Joy if she didn't over analyze her decisions both good and bad. How could finally admitting she loved the friend she'd had for decades be so life tumbling? This transition should be the easiest thing ever but it wasn't. And because it wasn't, it frustrated her even more. Her stomach was in knots. Why she didn't know. Leaning her head onto Victoria's comforted her somewhat but not enough.
She couldn't handle breaking Victoria's heart but she didn't know what else to do.