Author's Note: Takes place immediately after Matthew crashes, please enjoy!
The scent of smoke was raining down on him, seeping into his skin as he lay, trapped beneath the car. He tried to open his eyes, but his lids felt as heavy as the metal laying across his legs. Did he have legs? It was beginning to feel like he didn't. Like he didn't have a body. Something dribbled into his mouth. Metallic liquid staining his lips, blood draining from his brow. A pair of voices came distant, the sounds far and echoed as if he was below water. He thought he may have saw a face. Felt a hand grab his shoulder. But then there was Mary, looking down at him. Only for a moment, fading as quickly as she had come. Blood painted his thighs and head, weeping red tears down his body. A moment later or several he did not know, a mustached face replaced Mary's. Remaining long enough to register before he couldn't stay awake any longer. His eyes locked closed.
"Oh, God." Doctor Clarkson said as he helped the nurses drag Matthew out from under the car. Grass a vibrant green below his reddened body. The empty look upon Matthew's face made his chest tighten, he pressed a trembling hand to the stubbled neck of the young heir. Feeling a quiet heartbeat he rose in flash, barking orders. Helping him onto the stretcher. "Careful now. The car may have damaged his spine." The women took an end and guided Matthew into the ambulance. "Get me a splint and towel please." He wiped a hand off on his pant, leaving a red streak of Matthew behind.
As he held the young man together with all he had in the vehicle, the thing hurling down the country road, back to the hospital Mr. Crawley had just left, he looked upon him. Seeing Isobel's face mirroring within her son's. He couldn't loose him. She would loose everything. Mary would loose everything. As tormented as his body was, his soft yellow hair was still peacefully swept. As though frozen in the moment he busted in the labor room, face glowing, hair tickled by the wind. "Mr. Crawley please, stay with me." Clarkson said softly as he held onto the cool distant grasp of Matthew. His wheezing breathing could be heard even above the rumble of the car upon the stoney road. He knew by the sights out the window they were nearing, all Matthew had to do was hold on a few minutes longer. Just a few minutes and he could save him. Save them. He pressed the cloth tighter against his bleeding leg. Wiped a trickle of blood from his cheek. "Please." He whispered.
"What do you think is taking Clarkson so long? He said he would be right back." Mary asked through a tired look. Anna smiled down at her from a seat beside the bed.
"I'm not sure my lady, but I'm sure it's nothing you need worry about." Mary rose her brow.
"I don't think I could afford to worry about anything at the moment." She closed her eyes as she held her son close. Though there was a cold tug in her chest, it was a worry. A worry she couldn't grasp.
"You're going to have enough of that on your plate now that you're a mother." Anna said with pride. Mary nodded with a high brow.
"I think I already feel it." She caressed her baby's flushed cheek. "And feel something else, something so marvelous." Her son's gentle but fluttering heartbeat pumping against her fingers.
"He's beautiful." Mary nodded. "He has Mr. Crawley's eyes." Mary opened her own brown to meet her son's blue. Though she knew all babies eyes bore the color this early in life, the twinkling crystalline hue belonged to her Matthew.
"He does, doesn't he." She smiled gently, taking in the smallness of her new little life in her tired arms, the little life she didn't want to let go of. He was she and Matthew. And their new flicked her eyes to Anna as anxiety tickled her thoughts, "I want to say all is perfect. But something feels wrong." Anna squeezed her hand.
"You're exhausted my lady. And Mr. Crawley and all the rest will be here soon." She nodded a few times.
"Yes." Her tone was tired and quiet, as something in her breast stirred uneasily like a spider walking on a snapping web. "That must be it."
The doors to the hospital busted open as they rushed Matthew in, Clarkson calling orders to any nurse he saw. Rushing him into the room reserved for emergencies. Which was down the long hall from the delivery room. Far enough not to be seen, but their voices spiraled clearly through the building. Echoing against Mary's door. "What is all the shouting, can you see?" Anna rose, striding across the quiet soft room to peek out.
"Nothing my lady, get rest if you can." She turned about. Mary nodding as a nurse slipped in to take her son from her. Encouraging her to sleep.
"As soon as this feeling goes away I'll be out till Christmas." Anna pulled the blanket higher around Mary.
"Mr. Crawley will be back in this hospital soon enough. I promise."
Clarkson kicked the doors open, getting Matthew onto a bed as swiftly as he could manage. Nurses already tending to the young man from every side. Clarkson winced when Matthew let out a groan as the nurses tended to his legs, shifting them, when he let out another painful weep Clarkson looked to the leg. His femur had certainly been fractured at the least. "Gentle on his leg but we must get this bleeding under control fast. Please God don't let the car have hit an artery." Clarkson swiped morphine from a nurse, injecting him quickly, "Stay with us Matthew."
"I had heard word that Matthew was coming to get us, do you think something is wrong?" Robert said with a furrowed brow as he met Edith and Cora's gaze, setting the phone back on it's hook. His wife shook her smiling head.
"No Robert, I'm sure he's just found the face of his new son more alluring then driving all the way back here to see us." She teased. Robert nodded, fiddling with his coat sleeve.
"In any case, perhaps we should just go then. Carson, tell the chauffeur to bring up the car." The butler whom was twinkling with more joy than he would show, nodded and left the room.
Mary fell into a sleep. Uneasy and restless she felt as she wandered through a dream. A country road that spilled into the floors of the hospital. She knew Matthew was there, but she couldn't get to him. Then she heard him scream. Wrenching her heart from her chest. As she tossed in her sleep, a scream did echo through the halls. Sneaking under the closed door like grim moonlight. A scream so close to her heart it may as well be her own. Her dream was bleeding with reality as her other half bellowed in pain. Awakening with a start, Anna wiped at Mary's brow. "It's all right my lady." Mary panted below her panicked brown gaze.
"Matthew he, he..."
"Will be back soon."
"The screams?" She asked, anxiety pooling in her eyes. Anna squeezed her sweaty grip.
"Some poor soul down the hall. Never you worry."
Matthew's scream trailed off as the pain from setting his bone faded, the morphine working it's way through his veins. "M—Mary." Matthew gasped, his lips chapped and stained brown from dried blood. Clarkson leaned in close to hear his rasping tone. Meeting the tired eyes before him.
"She is perfectly all right, Mr Crawley. You need to rest." Without a word Matthew's eyes closed. Making Clarkson's heart jump. As much as the boy did need to sleep, a worry that he would never wake hovered in his mind. Though the look of his injuries and care they had already given him told him otherwise, he couldn't help but fret over the idea of losing another Crawley at his hands. "Quickly, a pint of blood please. Pray this is his type." He said in a shaky tone, watching the uneasy rise and fall of Matthew's chest. His clothes still torn and bloodied.
"Yes I have just seen the boy, he is lovely. But-"
"Mrs. Crawley, Dr. Clarkson is very busy."
Echoed down the hall into his ears. Clarkson felt his heart puddle, he closed his eyes as he took a deep breath.
"Yes I am sure of that. But I've heard a young man from a car accident has just been brought in. If you have any sense you will tell me what is going on, or bring me to Doctor Clarkson before I break the door down myself!" He knew by Isobel's tone she felt something was amiss. And indeed she did, without knowing by sight whom was behind the doors, she knew by her heart. There was a cold wind blowing through her bones, the same that touched Mary, making her grow stiff. Clarkson knew she was right, there was only a matter of time before she forced her way in. The doctor watched Matthew a moment longer before heading to the door. Opening it to meet Isobel's frantic blue gaze. Silently asking him to explain.
Knowing by the look on her friend's face, her heart had told her right. Her son was wounded. Not a second longer and Isobel pushed past the nurse, Clarkson trying to tell her the state of her son but his words were a whisper to her as she dashed into the room. Heart falling to feet that felt didn't belong to her as they drifted her to the bedside of her son. With all the bloodied towels, his own red painted suit, the only thing that kept her on her ghostly feeling feet was the gentle heartbeat against her ear. She carefully held her son to her, letting his blood stain her sleeves as she couldn't help but weep. Doctor Clarkson's hand rested upon her shoulder, unnoticed.
"Isobel." He said softly. The woman tried to put herself together for she was regularly excellent at that, but seeing her Matthew in such as state at such a time. "He crashed-" Clarkson began.
"Please." She squeaked, meeting his eyes. "Will he be all right?" The words poured from her mouth. He paused.
"You know as well as I do things can change at any moment." Her eyes wouldn't leave his, wanting a firm answer though she knew he spoke the truth.
"I don't know."
The chauffeur drove them down the country road. Green grasses billowing, spreading sweet air into the wind as they went. "I hope you're right and Matthew is still at the hospital and isn't going to arrive to an empty house." Robert teased, looking out the window. Cora nodded.
"I'm sure." As the car drifted around a bend, it slowed. Nearly coming to a halt as the chauffeur looked about at a group of men down the hillside. Edith peering out to see what was the fuss, gasping when she saw the bumper of a car barely visible through the grasses, toppled and thrown in a gully.
"Oh dear. Someone crashed." Cora and Robert leaned out to see.
"I hope the chap is all right. No one we know I hope." He rose his brow, trying to get a look at the car to make sure it was unknown to him, but the plants were too thick.
"I don't think so."
"I'm sorry My Lord," the chauffeur said from the front, "we'll be on our way now. An accident but we can pass it easily."
"Right, thank you." They continued on, passing the vehicle without another look, unaware of Matthew's blood staining the metal of the car below.
"Oh my darling. He is beautiful." Cora whispered from Mary's bedside as she held her grandson in her arms. Mary watched wistfully.
"He looks just like you at this age." Robert said, trying to remain composed.
"But those eyes. Are they not taken from Matthew? I could swear." Mary said as she looked upon the placid face of her son. Whom was starting to fuss his little legs.
Edith nodded, "yes. Yes they are." A nurse came to take him as he began to cry.
"We're so proud of you, Mary." Cora said as she took her daughter's hand. Mary smiled.
"Thank you mama." Mary fiddled with the end of the blanket. "I only wish Matthew would be back already." Every thought of him made her cold and uneasy, as if she were to stand, it would pull her to the floor.
"Something must have held him up." Robert said uneasily, rocking on his toes. The car accident they saw on the way combined with the fact that the heir was no where to be found, was starting to make him worry. "Perhaps he's already buying the chap some tails." Mary smirked.
"Oh please Papa, you know Matthew was once like Tom about those things." Robert raised his brow in a smile.
"True." He rose as Edith began to talk with her sister, looking to Cora. He lowered his voice.
"I'm getting a strange feeling. The accident. What if it was him. We couldn't see the car." Cora enlarged her eyes at her husband.
"Robert, you are worrying too much. Matthew will be here soon I am-" The door creaked open, Doctor Clarkson peered in. Trying to wear a smile.
"Clarkson, please." Robert gestured for him to come in with a grin, eager to praise their faithful doctor. But the look on his face pulled Robert from the room.
"Could I speak with you for a moment?"
"Of course." He said swiftly, shutting the door to the ladies behind him. They took a few steps down the silent hall, their footfalls loud against the white walls. Robert noticed the blood on the doctor's dark coat.
"Good heavens, what's done this to you?" Clarkson clasped his hands, meeting Robert's pleading gaze. His brief silence growing panic in his chest.
"There has been an accident."
"Good God." Robert whispered to himself over and over again as he looked upon the scene. All too similar as to when Matthew was brought home from the Front. Isobel sat beside him as if attached to his hand, like severing the two would kill her. Her eyes never left his face.
"But we must count him lucky. His femoral artery is in tact. He has lost a lot of blood, but he has feeling in his legs. And if he wakes up within an hour or so. We should know more." Robert's hand wouldn't leave his mouth as he stared at his son in law. His son. His heart was suffocating.
"Know more. Know more as in know if he will indeed, survive this?" Robert managed to say after silence. Clarkson nodded.
"But his bleeding has slowed. He seems to be taking the blood well, and color is returning to his skin. These are all good signs." Robert nodded with haste.
"Yes, yes of course." Robert didn't want to intrude on Isobel, instead he took a quiet seat at his end of the room. Sitting speechless for nearly half an hour while Clarkson quietly spoke with Mrs. Crawley and checked on Matthew. An hour had passed since Robert first entered the room, but it felt like a fortnight. During his absence, Cora tried not to let her anxiety show, urging Mary back to sleep. But that something in Mary's chest wouldn't let her. The scream from her dream haunting every breath.
A wind played with the trees out the window, Robert watched them. Taking a deep breath after realizing he was forgetting to do so for some time. He was going dizzy and fear kept him seated. Till Clarkson returned to him. In a low voice he said, "I think he is awakening." Movement caught their eye. Isobel shifting to cup her son's cheek, frantic glancing back at the pair of men as they realized Matthew was indeed awakening. A creaking voice fell from his lips as blue eyes rolled to open.
"I've got... the most awful headache." Isobel couldn't help but grin as she caressed the bandage around his forehead.
"My dear boy. My dear, dear boy." Tears began to rain upon her son's chest from her brightening eyes as she took his hand. Matthew slowly looking down to his body. The stains making his weak eyes widen.
"Good God." He sighed. Catching his breath.
"Does this mean he will be..." Robert whispered as the pair joined Isobel at his side, glancing to the doctor. Matthew looked up to them, taking in their faces.
"By the look on your faces, it seems you thought me dead." He managed to say after a few tries, his chest paining him with every breath. Robert took his other hand. Clarkson looking down at him.
"Nearly so." Matthew let out a long sigh. Taking in a deep lung full of air to say with a slight smile on his lips.
"Sorry to disappoint." Robert let out a chuckle, drawing a few tears from his eyes.
"You are one tough, tough man Mr. Crawley." Clarkson said as he looked him over.
"And apparently an awful driver," he swallowed, rolling his eyes to look upon his wounded body. "How can I feel, well, like this, while half my body is outside my clothes?" Matthew asked, taking in the amount of blood about him. Looking to his mother's eyes.
"Morphine does wonders my boy." She kissed his forehead. The sound of her Matthew's voice pulling relief from every corner of her trembling body. "Blood is like spilled milk. It always looks like more once its spread out."
"Mary." Matthew said. "Does she know?" Robert shook his head.
"No. But I could swear she does. Though none of us said a word." Matthew closed his eyes.
"To pour this on her, after birthing our son..." He said through a sigh, wincing as his leg began to throb.
"Relief is what she will feel. But for the moment you both need rest." Matthew gently nodded.
"Though I feel I can't rest till I see her again."
"You sound just like Mary." Robert said through a gentle smile.
Matthew smirked, "something she and I can agree on." Isobel squeezed his hand.
"Yes, very much so. But as sweet as that is sleep is more important. Now get to it."
"Doctor Clarkson," a nurse peaked her head in the room, "they're here." Matthew's eyes opened at that, hoping to see Mary when all he saw was Robert's back as he joined Clarkson outside. There was brief silence before Robert's snapping shout bellowed through the halls.
"You should be put in jail! Arrested, license revoked!" There was silence before he started up again, voice as vibrant as if he was still in the room. "I don't care if you are sorry! Does that change the fact that you nearly killed my son?!" Matthew rose his brow, meeting his mother's eyes.
"Dear me." Isobel watched the door.
"He clearly loves you very much." Was all Isobel could say, for though Robert's behavior was extreme, it was all she wanted to do and more. To make them face what they had done to her son. Her boy. Her everything. So she merely smiled as Robert continued on at them, agreeing with every last word he said.
"I'm surprised you aren't out there finishing them off." Matthew teased as he watched her expression.
"I would be. But I can't leave you." He grinned, squeezing her hand.
"Yes, yes you will apologize to him." Robert's shouting had quieted to an arguing tone.
Clarkson's quiet voice, barley audible from behind the closed white door said, "You may as well now, I don't think even a man in his state could sleep wink through that." There was almost amusement in his tone, and in a flash Robert's reddened face appeared in the doorway. Followed by two men, one with a mustache and as if walking out of a dream, Matthew recognized him from his daze at the crash. Robert gestured at the two men, whom bore guilty looks upon their dirty faces.
"This is Dan," he pointed to the mustached man whom nodded, "and this is Stevens. They were doing a delivery for that blasted Mr. Fellowes who clearly cares more about deadlines than people." He snapped. The other man nodded to him as well, crooked hat held at his waist. "They are the two responsible for this whole horrific fiasco." Matthew nodded to them. Licking his lips before speaking.
"Accidents happen. I understand." He said quickly, feeling rather awkward as the two men looked down on him, Robert fuming beside them.
"We are willing to pay for any-" Matthew waved his hand, wincing as he did so.
"Please. You are free to go." Robert looked aghast. Eyes flashing between his bed and the men.
"Please Robert, get these men out at once. You aren't the only one who-" But Isobel cut herself off as Robert and Clarkson ushered them out. Matthew looked to his mother as the doors closed.
"Who wants them fed to the hogs." Matthew couldn't help but smile.
"Is Robert's screams not punishment enough?" She rose her brow.
"Nothing can be." She said without thinking. "But he does give an awful good shout. Now if you can, rest is more important than any barking match."
As the men were ushered out the hospital, Cora appeared. Looking about the scene and Robert's exasperated face. When told of what had happened, she went still, only taking a breath again upon hearing Matthew would be all right. "We can't hide it from Mary forever." Robert said as he met his wife's eyes.
"Do what you feel fit. But I am nearly certain he will pull through." Clarkson said before leaving the two and returning back to Matthew, bringing a nurse with him to clean him and give him proper clothes. The door shut quietly behind him. Robert took his wife's hand. Locking her blue gaze.
"We tell her what he has told us. It will give her a shock yes, but she will know it is the best answer from this situation." Cora nodded.
"He is alive. And that is what is important."
It took only the first few words from her mother's mouth before Mary's panic threw her from beneath the sheets. But a swarm of dizziness and the hands of her mother pushed her back down. "I must see him. Now." She panted, eyes locked on the door. The hollow iced feeling in her chest was him. Her head was being tossed about like a spinning plate about to shatter. "How do you know he is going to be all right? How did it happen? Is he awake?" Cora gripped her shoulder, meeting her eyes.
"Yes, he is awake." Mary starved over each word. "He is doing well. But needs to rest. Like you."
"I must see him, Mama."
"You're going to have to wait."
"Wait?" Mary looked to Robert, her heart pounding.
"Your mother is right."
"You cannot ask me to wait when my husband has just barely beaten death. With or without your help I am seeing him now." Mary barked through panting breath. Edith, Robert and Cora exchanged looks as Mary narrowed her eyes below a heavy brow. Knowing at her first chance she'd be up and down the hall, Robert reluctantly nodded. Meeting his daughter's eager gaze, her cheeks flushed.
"Wait here." Though Mary was exhausted, her body feeling attached to the mattress, adrenaline was urging her awake. And a pain in her soul was urging her to move, to hold him and feel his beating heart. A nurse eventually agreed after Robert explained the stubbornness of his daughter and they gently helped her into a wheel chair and out the door. All of them telling her if you feel faint, or need to do this or that, to just tell them. But to Mary their words were rain to stream as her heart beat in her ears. When the doors opened and Matthew's worn and wounded face turned to meet her's, she let out a gasp and an onslaught of uncontrollable tears. Robert pushed her faster as Mary reached out for him, Matthew's lips trembling, his crystalline eyes locked on her. The moment he was in reach Mary grasped his hand like a life line. Sobbing as he pulled her closer. The pain he felt from the slightest movement miles away when he took her hand.
"Oh my darling." Mary said through a cry, falling onto his chest. The distant scent of blood mixed with soap pressing against her skin. Their family and the nurses stood away, even Isobel bared to break the link with her son and stood beside Clarkson. "I knew something was wrong. I knew it." She choked out. Matthew pressed his lips to her temple.
"I am so sorry."
"Sorry? Don't ever say that again."
"This is supposed to be a day of joy, Mary." She leaned back and he plucked a wave of hair from her damp cheek. "Not, of... this." Matthew said through a cough as he too began to cry. Though Mary and Matthew couldn't care nor remembered they were there, the group of them left the couple alone. Closing the door silently behind them. And before she realized what she was doing, Isobel pulled Clarkson into an embrace. Trying to keep her voice unshaken she spoke, "You saved him. You saved my son." She was quiet for a moment as she took a deep breath, "you saved me." Clarkson nodded, realizing she spoke the truth. He had done it.
Mary rolled the chair up to his bedside, as close as the thing could manage. Knees pressed against the bed frame. Entwining their fingers as she pressed her lips to his. "How is, he, our son?" Mary nodded silently, wiping at her cheeks.
"Wonderful. Beautiful as you."
"Hardly beautiful. Do you see me?" Mary ran her fingers across the fresh bandage on his temple, running above a few small slices upon his brow.
"Yes, yes I do." She held her lips to his cheek.
"Then I say you need glasses." His breath was hot against her cheek as he exhaled a chuckle. She pulled away with a smirk.
"Please promise me something." He gingerly wrapped an arm around her back, as tight as he could manage. Leaning back to meet her face.
"Never ever buy another car. We are using the chauffeur for now on." He couldn't help but smile, wanting to argue it but he silently nodded.
"All right misses." He stroked her cheek, his weariness beginning to fall heavy upon his eyes, struggling to keep them open.
"One more thing." She whispered as his eyes closed gently.
"Mhm?" Was all he could mange as he stroked her back with his hand. She pressed her lips close to his ear. Her breath tickling his skin.
"I love you." His eyes creaked open, smiling upon seeing her face so near. He took a breath before speaking, rubbing his thumb upon the back of her soft hand. "I will never let you be taken from me. Not ever."
"And I will never leave you. Even if the worst had happened, I would be with you always. As I will be. And as I am." He leaned and held his lips against her's. The feeling as warm and familiar as a glove. Their tears mixing as their faces pressed together.
"Oh my darling, what a life we are to have." She stroked his cheek. "My sweet, sweet darling." He held her eyes for a moment, before holding her face to his chest as she wrapped her arms around him. Nuzzling her cheek into his collarbone, ear above his breast. The song of his heartbeat gentle and warming like a winter's fire. Matthew stroked her frizzing braid, wrapping his fingers around her bare arm. His voice was quiet and hummed into her ear as he spoke.
"I love you, my darling." He gripped her tighter. "I love you beyond the end of forever." Mary tilted her face to kiss his chin. Pulling their entwined hands snug against her chest. Closing her eyes. Listening to the rhythm of his beating heart. The heart of her son's father. Her husband. Her Matthew Crawley. Her love. He was the heart of her heart. He was her forever.
Author's Note: Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed my version of what REALLY happened! ;) Please review!