Bold italics are Rose's thoughts and plain italics are her written words
Someone's next to me—I can feel it. I can hear 'im. I…I know that voice. It's…it's John. Why is he here? Wait... Where is here? Where am I? It's dark. Why is it so dark? He's sayin' somethin'. Why does he sound so far away? What's goin' on?
"Please, Rose…please don't leave. Don't leave me. I-I…I need you. I do. I know it sounds crazy, but I've never been more certain of anything in my life. I'm begging you...please…please come back to me."
Leave? I'm not leaving you. I'm right here. Ya sound so…so broken. And you...you're crying. Why are you crying? I'm still here; I'm holding your hand—see?
"Ro-Rose? Rose. Love, can you hear me? I know I'm not crazy—I felt you squeeze my hand."
What are you on about? I know I squeezed your hand, silly. And why wouldn't I be able to hear you? You're not makin' sense, John.
"Love, open your eyes. C'mon. I know you can hear me. Please, just open your eyes, Rose!"
Open my eyes? Is that why it's so dark? Oh…God... it's so, so bright. And blurry. Wait…everythin's startin' to come into focus. I'm...oh God…this is a hospital! John, why am I in hospital? My throat feels strange. W-what's in my throat? I can't talk! John! Oh…why am I in so much pain?! What's goin' on?! John?!
"Nurse?! Nurse, you need to get in here now! Rose, love, you need to calm down! Everything is alright. I promise. I'm right here and I'm not leaving you! Not ever. Just calm down, love."
You... ya keep calling me 'love'...John…don't cry. Please don't…it hurts to see it.
Due to the pain, it required significant effort on Rose's part to raise her hand to his face and wipe his tears; but, seeing them spurred her to ease his pain. As her thumb dried his eyes, John placed his own hand over hers, desperately seeking her touch. Rose felt a surge through her body, almost mirroring the sensation she had felt during their kiss. About that time, a portly petite, scrub clad woman hurried into the room. On making eye contact with her, Rose saw a flood of emotion pass over her face—surprise, happiness, wonder, worry, uncertainty, and much more.
"Oh my Lord! You're awake!" The woman ran to the door, stuck her head into the hallway, and called out. "Deirdre, call Dr. Bradley. Miss Tyler's awake!" She hurried over to Rose. "I'm Lena, dear, your nurse. I know this must be a bit overwhelmin' for ya, but try to keep calm through it. Ya have a tube in your airway to help your breathin'. I'm gonna ask ya some questions. Y'won't be able to talk, so just nod your head yes or no, alright?"
Rose nodded in understanding, eliciting a smile from the woman.
"Off to a good start already. Do y'know where ya are?"
Rose nodded again.
"Good. Do ya remember what 'appened?"
Rose's eyes closed and her forehead wrinkled in concentration. Flashes of images and emotions overtook her as she attempted to recall the events that led her being here. As she did, the alarms on the monitor began to ring and Rose started to tremble as her body reacted to the jumbled and painful memories.
The nurse's tone became urgent yet calm. "Miss Tyler—Rose, ya need to calm down, dear. Don't try an' think 'bout it anymore. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I was just tryin' to establish a little bit of a baseline. Try an' relax and not focus on what happened right now, alright?" Lena said, smiling and patting Rose's hand.
John clutched Rose's hand and stroked her forehead lovingly. She turned to him, seeking the comforting image of his face, tears streaking her own at the rush of pain and fear she had just experienced. He gave her small loving smile, and Rose could clearly see the concern in his eyes.
Discretely smiling at their interchange, Lena quietly went to the foot of the bed and slightly pulled back the covers.
"Can ya feel this, sweetie?" she asked as she stroked the soles of Rose's feet.
Rose could feel the tickle and her toes curled. She nodded her head and saw a look of pleased relief pass over the nurse's face. She heard a low sigh of relief from John, as well.
"Are ya in any pain?"
Again, Rose nodded her head.
"Right, then. I'll go get ya somethin' then. Back in a shake," Lena smiled and scurried out of the room.
John and Rose continued to look at one another for several moments before he nervously cleared his throat. "I'll call Mickey and Martha. Let them know what's happening," he said, standing to leave the room. Rose held a firm grasp on his hand, preventing him from leaving.
John looked at her hand and then turned his warm gaze towards her. "I'll only be a moment. Promise," he assured her as he tried to leave again. But, Rose wouldn't let go of his hand, instead, tightening her grip.
Please…don't leave. Stay with me. I need you here.
John's smile broadened at her refusal to relinquish his hand. Understanding her intention, he sat back down as Lena returned and began administering pain medication through Rose's IV.
"Could you please call Rose's family so I can stay with her?"
"Oh of course! We were just getting ready to do that anyway. Now Miss Rose that should start to kick in in about fifteen minutes." She turned her attention back to John and her expression hardened. "Now keep her calm. Her body is still recoverin' and she doesn't need any extra anxiety or stress from the likes of you. Hear me? Keep. Her. Calm," she said and left the room.
John looked back at Rose, appearing slightly uncertain of himself and tugged on his ear.
He's nervous…he's doin' that thing with his ear.
Rose gave his hand another squeeze, trying to put him at ease. He smiled at that and then, lifting her hand, kissed her knuckles, his gaze never once leaving hers.
"You...you had me so scared, Rose. I-I thought…I thought I was going to lose you."
Please don't say things like that…it frightens me.
Almost as if he'd heard her thoughts, John didn't say anything else for a while. Despite what she had earlier wished, his silence almost unnerved Rose more than being in the hospital. From the first time she had met him, John had been able to leave her dizzy at times with the speed of his ramblings. But now John was unnaturally quiet and Rose could barely stand it. She lifted her thumb and index finger and mimed writing, eager to communicate with him in some way.
"What? Oh! Writing? Oh, that's brilliant." He looked around the room and found a small tablet and pen and gave them to her.
John's eyes became troubled at her question. "Rose, I don't think it's best to talk about that now. Not until you're a little better. You heard the nurse—you need to keep calm."
You look tired. Have you slept? she asked with a worried expression.
"Don't worry about me. I'm fine."
That's not what I asked—be honest with me, please.
He sighed before reluctantly responding. "I've slept some. These chairs aren't that comfortable. But I'm fine, Rose. Stop worrying about me."
I care about you too much not to worry. She was surprised by her boldness. Granted, it was by no means a declaration of love, but in light of everything, it was a bit of a big step for her. It didn't go unnoticed by John who, on reading her words, caressed her forehead and ran his fingers faintly through her hair.
The moment was broken as Dr. Bradley suddenly arrived, and walked into the room. He was half way through his examination, when Mickey and Martha finally arrived. Martha began crying tears of relief and even a few tears broke loose from Mickey's eyes. The three of them asked every question that came to mind, and Dr. Bradley kindly and thoroughly answered each one. Through it all, Rose never once let go of John's hand. In fact, every time he moved, her grip tightened as if she was afraid he would disappear if they broke contact. The conversation ended with Dr. Bradley stating that if Rose remained stable through the night, they would remove her ET tube in the morning. They thanked him as he left.
Martha hugged Rose gently and Mickey kissed her cheek, both taking seats near her. Rose reached for her pen and paper.
How is Tony? Who has him?
"Don't worry. Jake is with 'im. That's why it took us a lil' longer to get here. Had to get ahold of 'im. Tony is doin'…alright, for the most part. He's had a hard time. Scared, y'know? He's doin' better than he was at first. Started talkin' more after John watched him," Mickey informed her.
Rose turned her gaze to John. Thank you. He smiled in response.
"Do ya want Tony to come see you?" Martha asked.
Rose shook her head resolutely. No. He shouldn't see me like this. Will call him after this thing is out of my throat.
"Good," Martha agreed. "I don't think he woulda handled it too well."
Are you taking care of yourselves? Don't lie to me, either!
Mickey snorted at that last statement, but answered her gently. "We're fine. Doing better now that you're awake. We just want you home."
What happened to me?
Rose saw a meaningful look pass between the three of them. She also saw John barely shake his head 'no' at Mickey and Martha's unspoken question.
Martha kissed her forehead. "That's not important right now, love. What's important is that you're back with us and you're gettin' better. Everythin' else can wait."
What happened to me?! Why won't any of you answer my question? You're all gonna get it when this stupid thing is out.
Rose wished she could write all the furious thoughts that were rushing through her mind, but her eyes were getting heavy with sleep, no matter how hard she fought. She was afraid of the darkness—afraid that, if she closed her eyes, it would claim her permanently.
They all saw her fighting to stay awake.
"You should rest. A lot's happened today," John said as he squeezed her hand.
Rose shook her head. Don't want to.
"You may not want to, but you need to, love," Martha admonished her.
Don't want to be alone.
"You nutter! We haven't let you be alone since this happened and we aren't 'bout to start now. I'm stayin' with you tonight," Martha assured her.
Rose nodded her head in an effort to show her acceptance of the situation.
"I should probably go now. Let you all rest," John said standing. Rose tugged gently on his hand.
Are you coming back? She looked up at him with childlike eyes.
He smiled at her and then bent down to kiss her forehead. As his lips touched her, the monitor started beeping, alerting them to her increased heart rate. Hearing the alarm, John grinned and chuckled softly.
"Always," he promised, giving her a look of such intense love that Rose was actually grateful she had something to help her breathe. Giving her hand a finally squeeze, John left them room with Mickey.
Martha moved the recliner next to the bed and both of them quickly drifted off to sleep.
AN: I know that Rose's recovery is quicker than normal, but I did it to move things along.