Hey guys. I know I have been MIA for over a month now and I'm terribly sorry. First it was the Holidays, then it was school starting back up and honestly the excuses could go on and on. But I'm back and I'm trying really hard to stay focused and get this out there. I'm hoping (but not making any promises) that I can get the next chapter, the last chapter that we need to move past all this, out by the end of the week. If you only knew what's coming after all this drama...well you'll just have to wait and see. Thank you to everyone who has been waiting patiently for me to update and if I lost some readers, well so be it. Anyways, on with the story right?
I groan. I don't know if it's from the pain I'm feeling at the thought of Sawyer leaving or if it's because of the headache that is pounding away in my head. I close my eyes hoping to find some relief and the pain ebbs slightly. I lie still for what feels like an eternity before I allow myself to think about what life without Sawyer would be like. I said I loved him in a last ditch effort to make him sit and stay with me just a minute longer but it was too late. I don't want him to quit because of me. I like having Sawyer with me. He makes me feel safe. I know I would've had to explain what I meant by I love you but I was desperate. Of course I love Christian. But Sawyer is one of my dearest friends. I care about him in the same way I care about Kate. I just don't see why he has to leave. A knock at the door disrupts my thoughts.
"Hey there's my girl." I hear my father croon.
"Daddy?" I squint my eyes open, afraid of my headache returning.
The look on his face is priceless. It didn't dawn on me that even though I've been awake for a while now, no one else knew it. But I don't care because this has to be one of the few times I have ever seen my father cry. I watch as he struggles between crying and laughing with joy before his eyes widen and he darts out of the room shouting. No doubt he's alerting everyone else that I'm awake and my thoughts are confirmed when Christian appears from the doorway followed by my father and Kate. Before I know it I'm showered in hugs and kisses. Kate's crying and Daddy keeps laughing and Christian hasn't let go of my hand since he stepped into the room.
"You're awake." Kate states.
"How do you feel?" Christian asks worriedly.
"Let me fetch the doctor." Ray murmurs before he disappears.
"I feel fine." I push myself up with a little help from Christian. "I just feel so weak. And the light hurts my eyes."
Suddenly the light in the room dims, followed by a few chuckles from the doorway. "Yes well, we can give you something for that. It should go away after a while." A man emerges from behind Christian. He's tall, mid-fifties, with thinning silver hair. His smile is warm and genuine. "I'm Dr. Peterson." He extends his hand and I take it gingerly. His grip is firm, while my hand feels like a noodle. He lets go and my hand drops to the bed. This causes him to laugh more. "Your strength will return in time."
"Ana, Dr. Peterson has been overseeing your care for the last two months."
Two months. This still shocks me. "I was out for two months?" I don't understand.
"Oh, you probably have a million questions running through your mind. Not to worry. I can answer all of them but right now I was actually going to check your vitals and input them into your chart. Then we'll sit down and talk. How does that sound?"
I hesitantly nod. It's not like I have a choice. "Can I have some water?"
"Of course!" Kate eagerly retrieves some water from a pitcher on the bedside table.
"Thanks." I greedily gulp down the cool liquid, quenching my thirst. I watch Dr. Peterson take my blood pressure and perform a few more tasks before he pulls out his pen and exits the room. I look from Christian to Kate.
"He'll be back in a minute." Christian assures me.
I open my mouth to speak when Dr. Peterson returns, along with another familiar face.
"Ana, it's good to see you're awake."
"It feels good to be awake, John." I smile as he takes a seat in the corner of the room.
Dr. Peterson sits relatively close to the bed but not close enough to make me uncomfortable. Christian doesn't move from his spot right next to me, but Kate gets up and kisses me on my forehead.
"Where are you going?"
"I'm just going to step outside while you talk to the doctors. Don't worry; I'll be back in as soon as they let me." She winks at me before leaving me with the doctors and Christian.
I swallow nervously, unsure about what's about to happen. "Christian? Why is John here?" I whisper.
"Just in case." He rubs his thumb across mine, attempting to calm my nerves.
"Ana, I'm just here for support. I'll just sit back here and observe if and when I'm needed." John interjects.
"Ana if you're ready we'll begin." Dr. Peterson pulls out a notepad, as does Flynn. "Let's start with something easy. How do you feel? You've already stated that you feel weak and your eyes hurt. Did dimming the lights help?"
"Yeah, I guess so." I twist my hands in my lap. All eyes are on me and it makes me feel uncomfortable.
"Ana?" Dr. Peterson waves his hands in the air, trying to get my attention. "How do you feel?"
"Fine. I feel fine. Just weak and a little tired. I'm hungry too." As if on cue my stomach growls.
"We can get you something to eat afterword. So other than the sensitivity to light, weakness, and being tired, you feel fine?" Dr. Peterson questions, raising an eyebrow.
"Is there a certain way I'm supposed to feel?" I ask defensively.
"Not at all. I just want to be sure I have all the details." He states. "Moving forward. Let's talk about memory." At this notion, both John and Christian perk up. Christian runs a hand through his hair while John scoots an inch forward in his chair, pen at the ready. "Prior to waking up, what is the last thing you remember?"
I know what they're wondering. Do I remember what brought me into the hospital in the first place? Do I remember everything that happened to me after I was taken from the club? Hell Do I even remember being taken from the club?
"Meaning everything. I remember going to the club that night. I remember him taking me. I remember every little thing that he did to me and I remember being brought into this god damn hospital." I shout.
"Ana, calm down." Christian snaps.
"I'm fine. But I remember everything okay? Now it's my turn to ask a question? Why was I in a coma for two months?" I demand.
Both doctors exchange glances before Flynn stands and Dr. Peterson sits back in his chair. "You see Ana," he begins, "You're body went through so much trauma and the amount of stress you had to endure was just too much for your body and mind to handle. Upon entering the hospital, your mind shut down as a way to protect itself. The shock of what happened to you is what caused the coma but we didn't know how long you were actually going to be out." He pauses to let this sink in. "Are you with me so far?"
I nod, taking a deep breath. "I just have one more question."
"Of course." John waits expectantly.
"Where is he? Where's Jose?" I glance nervously at the men in the room. "Well?"
"Why don't we give Ana a minute?" Dr. Peterson abruptly announces.
"No. Where is he? I have the right to know."
"Ana, baby, don't worry about him anymore." Christian pleads.
"Goddammit Christian! You tell me where he is!" The heart monitor begins to beep in response to my rising heartbeat. Why won't they tell me? "Please, he was my friend."
"A friend doesn't do the things he did! He abducted you Ana! He…he touched you…" I watch a few tears fall from Christian's face before he regains control of himself. When he finally looks me in the eyes, he's back to being Mr. Hotshot CEO. "The whereabouts of Mr. Rodriguez do not concern you any longer." He states.
"Screw you Christian. I'm not a child. If you won't tell me, I'll find someone who will." I say, deadpan. I'm not backing down. I know what Jose did to me but that doesn't change the fact that he was my friend. My very sick friend, but my friend regardless.
"Ana, stop fighting me on this. No one will tell you…"
"Get out." I demand. The shock on his face ripples through me but I have to stay strong. "You heard me. All of you. Get out."
Christian looks from Flynn to me but I don't care. Call me crazy. Say I'm too traumatized to deal with what I'm asking for. I don't care. I've been through hell and I need to make my peace with what happened. And Christian is preventing me from doing that.
"I want to see my father." It's not a request and I sit waiting patiently for the both the doctors and Christian to leave before I allow myself to relax. I love Christian but he can be so goddamn stubborn sometimes. I'm startled when a cold hand touches my hand and I open my eyes to see Ray standing over me. "Daddy." I whimper before I let the floodgates open.
"Oh honey, don't cry." He soothes, engulfing me in his big arms. I curl around him, burying my head in his shirt. "It's alright. There, there. I'm here."
"What happened to him?" I know he'll tell me. He has to.
"Christian doesn't want you to know."
"I don't care what Christian said. I am my own person and I can make decisions for myself."
"Hey," He cups my chin and plants a kiss on my forehead. "Nobody said you couldn't. And I don't care what Christian said either. If you think you can handle it, then of course I'll tell you." He smiles a genuine smile and I nod. I have to know. He sighs and closes his eyes. "He's here."
"Here?" I ask, dumbfounded.
"In the hospital. He was admitted at the same time you were. You don't remember that?"
I shake my head. "I honestly don't. I just remember being brought in but everyone was all over me and Sawyer was right in my face. I couldn't see anything but him."
He chuckles. "Smart man. Jose was in the ambulance behind you. He probably didn't want you to see him. Anyway, Jose was in pretty bad shape Ana. Your security really did a number on him. Beat him unconscious." I feel my father my shudder. "Ana he looked really bad. He was admitted and they ran some tests but…"
I look up at Ray's face. He looks so sad. Tears threaten his eyes but he pulls himself together. "I think it's best if you just see for yourself."
"Dad, what happened to him?"
"I'm just gonna go get a wheelchair. I'll take you to him."
Before I have time to argue he returns with a wheel chair and a nurse who helps me into the chair. She hooks my IV's to the chair and then nods at my father, who begins pushing me towards the door. We make it to the elevator when the ground starts to vibrate. I stupidly begin to wonder if it's possible for earthquakes to reach Washington when Daddy wheels me around to see my entire family and some of the staff coming around the corner. "Here comes the cavalry." My father announces.
"What the hell Ray? She's not supposed to leave her room." Christian shouts.
"Ana, sweetheart, why don't we go back to your room and lie down?" My mother asks. I hadn't seen her yet and I want to reach out and hug her but I have to do this.
"I want to see him Mom."
"I'm taking her back right now." Christian insists.
"You will do no such thing. Back off Christian. This is what I want. Why can't you just let me do it?" I plead. I look from Kate to Mia, hoping someone will back me up but I can tell from the looks on their faces that they agree with Christian.
"That's enough. She's my daughter and I am doing what she wants. I don't take orders from you." I've never heard Ray sound so authoritative but at least he's defending me.
"What she wants and what's best for her are two different things." Christian counters.
"Who are any of you to decide what's best for her? You won't let her go because you're afraid. But I know my daughter and if she's certain this is something she wants to do then she can do it." Ray's grip tightens on my chair and I can't help but smile at his words. He's right. I know I can do this.
"But on her first day?" My mother speaks up. "Ray I know her too and I'm telling you, it's not supposed to happen like this. Not like this. I'm sorry sweetheart. I love you but I don't think this is a smart decision."
"It's not your decision to make." I argue.
"Ray…" Christian threatens.
It's almost like a stand-off between my father and Christian. They both seem determined but eventually Christian's shoulders slump and I know he's given up. "20 minutes. That's it. If you're not back in 20 minutes I'll come get you myself." I tense at his warning but am comforted to know he won't be coming along right now.
When the elevator doors close and we begin to ascend to our destination Ray starts laughing. "What's so funny?" I demand.
"Tell me I'm not the only that thought that felt like a western movie." He snorts.
I can't help but laugh a little. "It was totally a stand-off. You could cut the tension with a knife."
The laughing becomes more of a nervous thing than anything else. What am I going to say to him? What is he going to say? I'm ready for this but I'm not prepared for it.
The elevator doors finally open and we enter a very quiet wing of the hospital. I've never been up on this floor before but it seems different from the rest of the hospital. The Psych ward. Of course. That's probably where I'm at right now. We take a few turns here and there when he stops in front of door. He knocks softly and then steps back, pulling me with him. We wait patiently in the hall when Jose Sr. emerges from the door. I haven't seen Jose's father in a long time but he doesn't look well.
"Ana, you're awake. It's good to see you."
"You too Mr. Rodriguez." Not the circumstances that we're under but I don't mention that.
"Ana's here to see him." Ray nods towards the door.
"Does she?" Mr. Rodriguez asks raising an eyebrow.
"I tried but I thought I should just show her." Ray explains.
"Well go ahead."
"You ready?" Ray asks me.
"Yes." I swallow hard. It's now or never.
Ray opens the door for me and I wheel myself in. The room is bigger than the room I had downstairs. A small couch lines the wall to the right and there's some obscure painting on the wall above the bed. Of course the bed is in the middle of the room, with all the monitors and other medical crap sitting right beside it. It's nice in here. I hear a whoosh of air and look up at the man in the bed. I struggle to hide the sharp intake of breath. My god. "Jose?" I want to get closer but at the same time, I'm afraid to. I suddenly become acutely aware of all the medical equipment I deemed "crap." I notice the machine that made the whooshing sound. I've seen it before. It helps people breathe. It's connected to a tube that's coming from a hole in his throat. There's all kinds of wires and tubes coming from his body, but my eyes catch on the small red wires connected to his head. They lead to a machine that makes no noise; I'm not sure what it does actually. I lean forward to inspect it when Ray clears his throat.
"That monitors his brain."
"His brain?" I ask. I don't understand.
"He's brain dead Ana. Has been since they brought him here. I told you, your guy really did a number on him."
Brain dead. Oh god. I think I'm going to be sick. "So you're saying…Luke did this?" I turn in my chair, unable to look at the sight before me.
Daddy nods. "When they found you, Luke went straight for him. I tried to explain but I just…" He holds up his hands. "Well now you know."
I look back at Jose. I've been out for two months but he still looks pretty messed up. Why didn't he heal? I did. "Why does his face look like that? It's all…"
"Wrong?" Ray sighs, long and hard. "Broken jaw, crushed spine, multiple skull fractures, broken nose. His cheek bones were shattered. The doctors repaired what they could on the spot but then they sent him in for a scan and…well here we are."
"You mean they just gave up?" I'm shocked. Can they do that?
"When they told his dad, he elected to stop. It was just plastic surgery. Purely for aesthetic reasons. But when your kid isn't going to wake up…" I can hear him stifle a sob and reach my hand out for his.
"I woke up."
He kisses my hand softly. "Yes, you did. And I can't thank god enough."
We sit like this for a moment, not speaking. I can't believe Luke did all this. He practically beat a man to death. "Dad?"
"It's okay right?"
"What's okay?" I look up and his head is tilted to the side.
"Luke's not going to be prosecuted for what he did, is he?"
"I honestly don't know. It's not something I've asked about." He scratches his head and I know he's telling the truth. I can't imagine why they would but you hear about that kind of stuff in the news all the time. The justice system is messed up. I hope he's okay. I wish I could talk to him.
"We need to get going. We can come back later if you want. But visiting hours are over on this floor and our twenty minutes are up."
I roll my eyes. "What floor are we on?"
"It's the back of the Psych ward. They set up this room special for Jose, because of his condition. It's normally where they hold suicidal patients but they needed the room for the space, with all his equipment and what not."
"Oh." I was right.
Ray opens the door and I take one last look at my friend. I don't know if I will come back but now I know. Ray shakes hands with Mr. Rodriguez and I barely manage to nod. I glance back inside before the door shuts. Oh Jose, why? Where did it all go wrong?
Up next! One hell of an epic flashback! Be prepared!