Fixing A Broken Wing - Chapter 4
A/N: This part is set the day after the previous part. Would their breakfast go as planned? :):)
Kate scowled at the toilet bowl in front of her. She wondered why the customary colour had to be white. Why couldn't it be a darker colour?
Kate, you are losing your mind! You need to focus!
She forced her brain to focus on the sensation on her stomach.
Not too queasy anymore. That's good.
She then tried to stand up. She realised too late that it was a big mistake, her stomach protested against her body's movement, and for the next 10 minutes, her view was limited to the white toilet bowl once again.
She had been doing this since she woke up an hour ago. For the life of her, she couldn't figure out what she ate at yesterday's BBQ that caused her to throw up all her stomach's contents.
Must be a bad piece of sausage!
She groaned softly at the contraction of her stomach muscle. Her throat was killing her as well. Not to mention that her head was pounding. This was supposed to be a good day, started with a nice breakfast with Dutchy.
Oh NO! What time is it?
She quickly lifted her head to see the wall clock hanging on the corner. The sudden movement almost made her throw up again. But she swallowed the bile down and focused on the clock.
Where's my phone?
With great effort, she managed to stand. She then held on to the wall and walked slowly to the bedroom. But before she got the chance to reach her bedside table, her doorbell rang.
Dylan couldn't fall asleep again. He was woken up by a mini earthquake caused by the construction site next door. He couldn't help but blamed the government for deciding to build community housing next to his apartment. Not that he objected to any kind of government project, but to start using heavy machinery at 6 am in the morning was just a bit much in his opinion.
He groaned when he felt another 'mini earthquake' shook his bedroom. Better get up then.
He freed up the blanket that was tangled around his legs and swung his body to the side. He then got up and walked barefoot to the kitchen, while running his fingers through his hair in an attempt to wake up even further.
One cup of coffee later, he felt much better.
He sighed. It was too early to get ready and go to Kate's house. What was he supposed to do for an hour? Running? Maybe swimming?
Meanwhile, his eyes stumbled upon a packet on his kitchen bench. Roasted Macadamia. He smiled at the memory of her mentioning macadamia pancakes.
He forgot whether his usual breakfast place had macadamia pancakes on its menu or not. He needed to check it out first. If worst case scenario happened, then he had to find a place that served that particular dish.
With a clear goal in mind, he then marched off to the bathroom and jumped to the shower.
An hour and twenty minutes later, he arrived in front of her house. Even with all the time he spent searching a specific pancakes establishment, he still made it ten minutes early.
He then turned off his bike's engine, stored his helmet and walked up to the front step. Sitting down there with ten minutes to spare, he started to get anxious. What if she changed her mind? What if she thought that the breakfast was a bad idea?
Calm down Dylan, you will find out the answer in a few minutes anyway!
His watch beeped softly, signalling to him that time was up.
This is it Dylan.
He took a deep breath, and pressed the bell button.
After the doorbell rang, Kate went back to the bathroom again. She then grabbed the edges of the wash basin tightly with her left hand to help her standing up while her right hand splashed some water to her face. She didn't dare to look at her reflection on the mirror. She knew that she looked frightening. Maybe she should just call him now and send him away?
No! That would be rude Kate! He's standing outside your door now.
She grabbed the towel and wiped her wet face with it. Taking a deep breath, she then started to move outside her bedroom, then down the stairs towards the front door.
Dylan was confused. It had been 10 minutes since he rang the doorbell and the only answer was silence.
Did she forget?
He was toying with the idea of calling her, but decided against it.
What if she is still asleep? You are going to wake her up Dylan!
He also ignored the impulse to walk back and forth, a bad habit he did when he was thinking hard. Instead, he focused his thought on the current situation. She wouldn't forget. Kate McGregor was simply too organise to forget an appointment.
What if she fell in the bathroom or something?
He couldn't help himself, he started pacing.
Dylan, stop it! You are being unreasonable! For Godsake, just rang the doorbell again!
In his musing, he didn't hear the door being opened. Kate was leaning heavily against the door frame, trying to stay upright. The 5-minute-journey from her bedroom felt like an hour. And now seeing Dylan pacing on her terrace, her head was spinning once more.
"Dutchy." She only managed to croak his name. Her throat was just so raw from all the dry heaves.
She could feel all the energy left her body at that very moment. She went down on her knees.
A loud thud from the doorway broke Dylan's thought. He quickly turned around and gasped. A few steps were all it took for him to reach her side. With no hesitation, he lifted her up in his arms. When she didn't protest, he knew that she must be really sick.
"Where to, X?"
"Bathroom. Inside the bedroom. Upstairs and then turn right," she whispered softly. She had to close her mouth with her hand to prevent herself from throwing up on him.
Once he reached the bathroom, he lowered her gently on the tiled floor. She then instantly reached the toilet bowl once again.
Embarrassed and frustrated at her current situation, she could feel her eyes sting. She didn't want to look at him, afraid of pity in his eyes. But then she felt something cold at the back of her neck, and a finger pushing her hair back from her face.
"Feeling better?" Dylan asked tentatively. His left hand was still holding the damp washcloth in an attempt to soothe her.
"I don't know." She finally lifted her eyes to look at him. Those caring pair of eyes almost broke down her defences. She had to blink her eyes several times to prevent her tears from escaping.
"Come on X. You just need a little bit of mouthwash and you can go back to bed." He moved behind her and reached for her waist, attempting to lift her up with him to a standing position.
"Dutchy... I can do that myself." She protested weakly.
"I know you can." He ignored her protest and proceeded with his plan before. Once they reached the wash basin, he let her stood on her own while he opened the bathroom cabinet to look for mouthwash. She gripped the edges of the basin tightly while her eyes followed his movement.
"Either you don't have a mouthwash or you've hide it from me, X." He said after looking for the bottle throughout the entire cabinet.
"Maybe I'm running out." She scrunched her forehead trying to remember.
Seeing her face getting paler and paler, he gave up his search and reached for her again. This time she didn't protest, which concerned him even more. After what seemed like an eternity, she was back safely in her bed.
"Do you have any bucket or something like that?"
"In the kitchen."
Five minutes later and a bucket on his hand, he was back in her room. He then knelt down on the carpet to be on her eye level. He couldn't help but feeling a sense of déjà vu while doing this. He knelt next to her bed that night in Swain's house too. As the memory assaulted his brain, he had to curl his hand to a fist to prevent him brushing her bangs to the side just like what he did that night.
"I'll go and buy the mouthwash for you. Do you need anything else? Crackers?" he finally said after a few minutes of silence.
She shook her head while burying it deeper to the pillow. "Can't eat."
He smiled softly at her almost childlike behaviour at the moment. He felt strangely privileged to witness this. Normally people only got to see the strong side of her, but he got to experience this side of Kate McGregor twice. To be honest, he hoped that he could experience this more often. With that thought in mind, he closed the bedroom door behind him.
Dylan turned his head around to see Charge holding an identical shopping basket. He smiled at the older man. "Mate, how are you doing?"
"Yeah, not too bad. I ran out of Tim Tams this morning though, not a good start to the day let me tell you. I've re-stocked now, so I'm good." Charge smiled broadly while showing Dylan the stack of Tim Tams in his basket. He then looked curiously to the other man's basket. "Mate, that doesn't look too appealing to me," referring to the basket full of plain crackers, bread, few different brands of soups and mouthwash.
Still slightly taken aback by the other man's apparent addiction to Tim Tams, Dylan was silent for a minute or two. His silence made Charge looked at him concerned. "You're not sick, are you?"
"No, it's my flatmate. I think she has stomach bug." Crap! Did I say 'she'?
"She?" Charge started to grin. "Let me guess. Blonde and legs a mile long?"
Dylan shook his head amusedly. If only you knew who my 'flatmate' was... "None of your business mate." He said while tapping Charge's shoulder firmly. "See you later hey..."
Walking out of the aisle, Dylan took a second to review the content of his basket. Charge is right. It doesn't look appealing at all.His eyes then looked around for the chocolate aisle. After grabbing a few of the sweet treats, he then moved towards the checkout.
"Hmm..." Kate buried her head even deeper in the pillow, trying to ignore Dylan's voice.
"Wake up. Time to fill that empty stomach of yours. Look what I've got for you." Dylan put the tray on the bedside table, once again kneeling on the carpet.
"Don't want to..."
He couldn't help but smile at the whine in her voice. When she still ignored him, he tried a different tactic. "Well, if you don't want the food, that's too bad. Since you owed me breakfast and I'm hungry, I think I'll just eat your macadamia chocolate." As he predicted, her ears perked at the word macadamia, and slowly, she opened her eyes.
"You have macadamia chocolate?" She got up slowly from her bed, careful not to make any sudden movement that could cause her nausea to come back.
"Yup. I have a lot of different stuff here too. I don't know what you feel like, so I put a little bit of everything on."
Looking at the tray on her bedside table, she didn't know what to say. This man had definitely gone above and beyond in trying to take care of her. Pot of tea with separate milk and sugar, different type of crackers in small containers, a small bowl of soup, a piece of toast, few squares of macadamia chocolate, and he didn't even forget the small glass of mouthwash. Her eyes stung again and her throat also closed up.
Her silence made him worried. Is she sick again?
"Thank you." She finally could form the words after a few minutes.
He smiled softly seeing her watery eyes. "Don't thank me yet. All this food might not be the right choice." He then grabbed the mouthwash and held it towards her. "Why don't you do use this first? It will help to get rid of the bitter taste in your mouth."
She took the small glass from his hand and looked at the blue liquid in front of her.
"This, then the chocolate?" she looked at his eyes questioningly.
"Tea and crackers first", he countered seriously.
"Then the chocolate?" she insisted.
He nodded and grinned at her. "Only one square though."
"You're still here."
Dylan turned his head towards her voice to see her standing on the bottom step of the stairs. "Hey X, how are you feeling?"
"No more headache." She smiled softly and started to move slowly to the couch.
"How about your stomach?" his eyes followed her movement, ready to intercept if she showed sign of her previous shakiness.
"Not queasy anymore." She finally reached her couch and sat down on it gratefully.
After her late breakfast this morning, which thankfully she could retain in her stomach, she had slept again. She only woke up a few minutes ago to find that she had slept for more than 10 hours; which was an amazing feat, considering that her body clock was so tuned to the Navy life that often required limited sleep.
"Did you go home at all?" she looked at the man besides her quizzically.
"I did for a few hours. I did laundry and housework." He shrugged. He tried to stay longer at his apartment, but his mind kept coming back to her. As his thoughts about the scenarios involving her needing his help went from bad to worse, he finally got fed up and went back to her place. Thank GOD that he didn't forget to borrow her key beforehand so he didn't have to wake her up again.
After that, he had gone out a couple more times. The first was to grab his mail from his post office box. He smiled when he remembered his mum's letter today. Still old-fashioned, she refused to use emails and text message, preferring to call him or to write letter. As usual, she nagged him about his apparent lack of long-term girlfriend, told him about his dad's latest adventure as a butcher in the local market and her newest hobby, crocheting. She even sent him a sample of a baby bootie, another hint for him to get his butt into gear and find a suitable woman.
The second trip had him going to the pancake place to buy that sacred macadamia pancake, just in case Kate felt better tonight. He kept surprising himself of how far he would go to please the woman sitting beside him; as if his happiness was depending on it. Why did I do that?He had pondered that question for the rest of the afternoon, but he still couldn't find the answer. All he knew was that he cared about her. But in what capacity? He didn't know. YET.
Deciding to forget his worry for a while, he looked at her again. "Do you feel like eating?"
"Why? Don't tell me you have a hidden tray full of crackers around here somewhere?" she raised her eyebrow at him.
He chuckled. "Nope. I have something better than that."
"There you go X. Chefs special."
Once again he appeared with a tray in his hands. He then put it carefully on her lap. She looked up from the tray to him in disbelief.
"Dutchy, you are spoiling me!"
He smirked. "Well, don't get use to it. Enjoy it while it lasts."
Shaking her head amused at his words, she looked at her tray once again. One pancake, which she assumed was macadamia, one small scoop of chocolate ice cream, 2 tiny containers of maple syrup and honey and a glass of water.
Silent enveloped them as she slowly ate her pancake. Her eyes looked at the TV every once in a while. It looked like a sitcom of some sorts, about 2 adult men and a teenage boy. One of the men seemed to be a playboy, the other one a bit of the unsecure type, and the boy was simply the lazy type.
"Do you watch this often?"
"Not really. Do you want to watch something else?" he just realised that he had been monopolising her TV for a while now.
"I don't even know what is on tonight." She shrugged. After putting her tray on the coffee table, she relaxed back to her couch. Although she felt no headache, but her head was a bit heavy, probably from having too much sleep today.
"Well, there is going to be a re-run of the first Terminator movie in about 10 minutes."
"Your favourite." She stated, remembering their conversation yesterday.
She remembered."Have you ever watched that?"
"Nope. But there is always the first time."
"So... This John Connor guy, who is he?" Kate scrunched her forehead trying to figure out the plot.
"He is the future leader of human resistance against the machine." His automatic answer made her lips curved up.
"Right... So he sent one of his best soldiers, Carl Reese, back to the past to protect his mother from being killed by this Terminator guy?"
"Not bad X."
"Let me guess... This Reese bloke is actually John's father."
He groaned. "Now you just ruined my fun."
"How can you say I ruined your fun? You knew the story already." She looked at him incredulously.
"It's just that... Never mind." He sighed. He supposed that he wanted her to just enjoy the movie and digested the plot as it came along. But he should have known that she was not the type to do that. She treated the complicated plot as a challenge, like a puzzle or mystery that needed to be solved. It was similar to the way she probed his defences and picked his brain apart in her effort to figure him out for the first two months on the Hammersley.
"I should've just kept the conclusion to myself, shouldn't I?" She sensed that he was still a little bit annoyed at her because of the plot guessing.
He chuckled. "Sometimes, I think you're too smart for your own good."
"Well... I figured out 'The Matrix' plot after only watching it once and that movie was way more complicated than this. What do you expect?"
"So you're into 'Follow the white rabbit' stuff hey?" he smirked at her.
"I'm more into 'Blue pill or red pill' stuff actually." She countered smartly.
After holding their gaze for a while, they finally smiled at each other, agreeing silently to end their mini bickering session.
"Do you know why I love this movie?" he looked at her seriously. She shook her head softly.
"It was the concept of going back to the past to protect someone or to prevent something bad from happening to them." He smiled wryly.
"Is this because of the Gulf incident?" she asked carefully.
"That was one of them. But that wasn't the first time I failed to protect someone or something."
"Dutchy..." She looked at him worriedly.
"The first time was my dog. It got trapped in the flooding river during the big flood in Hunter Valley. My Dad held me tight, preventing me to run and save it from drowning. I was 7."
His eyes was not looking to the TV anymore, instead it was fixated to the big poster window in the dining room. Sensing his sadness, she reached out and held his hand tightly, silently offering her support. He didn't turn his face towards her, instead, he just squeezed her hand back as an acknowledgement.
"Then there was my cousin. He lost both of his legs in a farming incident while he was holidaying on my farm. I was 15. He just wanted to see how the tractor worked. I guess he got more than what he bargained for."
"And then the Gulf." He paused and looked back at her. "I wished I could go back and change something on those days. Maybe I should've locked my dog inside the house, instead of letting it play outside. Maybe I should've asked my dad's permission first instead of taking off with one of his heavy machinery and trying to show off my skill to my cousin. Maybe I should've stood beside my boarding officer throughout that boarding instead of following his order to check the wheelhouse of that fishing vessel..."
"Dutchy, I've said this to you before and I'm going to say this again. You saved the life of six sailors on that day. Six people who were able to go home to see their family again. You should never ever discount that achievement." She squeezed his hand even tighter, trying to get him to really let this regret business go. "No matter how good you are as a sailor, you could never save them all."
"I know that X." He smiled at her sadly. "But I guess I would never stop trying to do that."
"Even if it costs you your life?"
"Yes." He answered it without a hint of hesitation.
Before Kate could think of any reply to his blunt statement, his phone rang on the coffee table. She could also hear her phone ringing on the distance. Both sighed at the same time, knowing that the only possible caller at this hour would be their jobs. Reluctantly, they let go of each other's hands.
To be continued...