Kensi settled herself more comfortable position in the bedside chair and picked up the book resting on the side table. She wasn't sure where Callen had found it, but he had pressed it into her hands not long after she'd asked for a copy. She had a feeling Hetty had been involved somewhere along the line.
The cover felt soft and warn under her hands as she traced the title. "Well, Deeks. I know that you like this book, and it's one of my favourites, too," she told her partner, glancing at his slack, unresponsive face, wishing fiercely that he would wake up and talk to her. I never thought I'd say this, but I'd even be glad to hear him bitching.
She thumbed through the book, finding the start of the first chapter. "Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tide-water dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego," she read, letting the rhythm of the words wash over her.
The steady beeping of the cardiac monitor seemed to change, speeding up a little. She glanced at the screen, unsure of what it meant. "Deeks?" she said uncertainty, and touched his hand.
His fingers seemed to move just the tiniest bit. She searched his face, wondering if she'd imagined the movement. His hand twitched again. It looked as if he was reaching for something.
She dropped the book onto the chair and reached for the call button, jabbing her thumb down on it urgently. The plastic clicked under her hand.
A nurse dressed in pale blue scrubs walked into the room barely a moment later. She studied the monitors, then checked the blonde man's eyes with a small torch.
"What's happening?" Kensi asked, arms wrapped tightly around herself. "Is he okay?"
The nurse smiled. "He's trying to wake up. I'll page his doctor, and see if we can wean him off the sedatives." She touched Kensi's arm. "It's a good thing. Whatever you were doing was working."
Kensi picked up the book and held it up. "I was reading to him."
"Then I'd keep doing it," the nurse said. "He's fighting. You just need to give him something to fight for."
Kensi found her place in the book and sat back down, clearing her throat a little before she started reading again. "Buck's senses came back to him, but not his strength." She found herself glancing at his face at the end of every line, willing him to open his eyes and stop scaring her. You owe me big time for this, she thought. And cups of jello aren't going to get you off the hook this time.
His doctor came in and repeated the checks that the nurse had just done. Kensi stopped reading to watch her as she adjusted one of the machines, a small, squat square with preloaded syringes inside of it. A plunger moved, feeding the drugs into a coil of tubing. Her eyes traced the tube that ran from the machine into Deeks' IV.
"What does that do?" the dark-haired woman asked. She'd spent enough time in hospital- thankfully more as a visitor than a patient- to be familiar with some of the equipment. Her father had always insisted the knowledge was power, and the words had stuck. The more you know about something, the less scary it is, she thought.
The doctor made a note on the chart and clipped it back to the end of the bed. "This was feeding him the sedatives. I've set it to a tapering dose. It'll bring him awake slowly."
Kensi nodded and bunched her hands in the sweatshirt sleeves again. "That's a good thing, right?" Her eyes flickered over the monitors again. She felt very off-balance. Illness and injury- especially serious injury- scared her. She couldn't fight them with a gun or a swift punch to the gut. They came down to luck and strength and sheer damned stubbornness… things she had in spades, but the thought of being trapped in a bed, helpless, still scared her witless.
"It's the difference between someone waking you up by popping a balloon in your ear or by talking to you," the doctor said dryly. She moved around the bed and took Deeks' good hand in hers. "Mr. Adams, I need you to squeeze my hand for me," she instructed, then frowned. "Come on, Mr. Adams. I know you can do it."
"What's the matter?" Kensi asked, wrapping her arms around the book and leaning forwards, towards the bed.
"He's not responding how I'd like," the doctor said. "It's almost like he's not hearing what I'm saying to him."
Or not aware that you're talking to him, Kensi thought and bit her lip, making a swift decision that she hoped wouldn't come back to haunt her. "Try Deeks…" she suggested, "it's a… a nickname of his."
The doctor lifted her eyebrows, but nodded. "Okay, Deeks. I need you to squeeze my hand for me."
This time, the faintest flutter of movement met her words. She smiled, and nodded for Kensi to take his hand. "Now, Deeks. Do you think you could do the same thing for your friend?"
Kensi took his hand, feeling the calluses from his gun against her palm. She held her breath, hardly daring to hope until his hand twitched in hers. "He's waking up," she said, a faint flicker of relief stirring inside of her.
The doctor smiled, pleased. "Give him thirty minutes, and we'll see if we can get rid of that tube."
"What can I do until then?" Kensi asked.
The doctor pressed the book back into her hands. "Read to him."
Kensi settled herself back into the chair and opened the book, one-handed. I'm not letting go of him until he's awake and bitching, she thought and started reading. "As he spoke he fearlessly patted the head he had so mercilessly pounded, and though Buck's hair involuntarily bristled at touch of the hand, he endured it without protest..."