Rose's thoughts are still in bold italics and written words are plain italics
I...I'm awake…thank, God. Never thought there'd be a day when I actually didn't want to sleep.
Rose turned her head, looking for Martha, and saw her asleep in the recliner next the bed—her body curled in an odd and clearly uncomfortable position. It hurt Rose to contemplate what they had all gone through since she'd been in hospital. Yet at the same time, Rose was frustrated that they wouldn't tell her what had happened. Clearly, it was something traumatic. Her body had reacted almost violently when she had tried to recall the event, and the emotional pain she had felt was nearly as strong as the physical. But when she had turned to John and saw his face, felt her hand within his, she had never felt so safe, so protected. It was one of the reasons why she clung on to him as if her life depended on it. There was another reason, lingering just below the surface, demanding acknowledgement. But Rose wasn't going to give it the satisfaction, not now...maybe not ever.
Finally, Martha stirred and rapidly blinked her eyes open, adjusting her eyes to the harsh light. On seeing Rose wide awake, she gave a sleepy smile as she tried to stretch out her cramped limbs. Smiling, Rose grabbed her pen and paper.
Morning, sleepyhead. Don't you look gorgeous.
Martha rolled her eyes and gave her arm a gentle shove. "Look who's talkin'. You're takin' bedhead to whole new levels. Plus a shower wouldn't kill ya."
"You feelin' better today? Do ya need anythin' for pain?"
I'm ok. Wish I could remember what happened.
Martha fidgeted uneasily in the recliner, and flitted her eyes away briefly. "No need to rush it. It's not what's important right now."
I really wish there was a way to yell at someone through paper!
It's important to ME! I want to know. WHY won't you tell me?! Rose scribbled fiercely as the beeping of the monitors began to increase.
Furrowing her brow in frustration, Martha pointed to the monitors angrily. "Y'see that? That's why we're not saying anythin'. Because mentionin' it makes your body freak out and we aren't gonna risk..." Martha closed her eyes, and released a weary sigh. "We aren't gonna do anythin' to make things worse."
Rose turned her head away and her eyes became glassy, entirely frustrated with the situation.
Why can't anythin' ever just be simple?
Feeling a hand lay overtop of hers, Rose turned back around and met Martha's troubled gaze. "Rose, what happened... there aren't enough words to describe how it made us feel—how we still feel. It's not that we won't tell you—it's just that now isn't the best time to do it. And the last thing I wanna do is fight with you about it, especially through paper. I mean if you wanna yell at me, at least wait till that stupid thing is gone and we can properly have it out, yeah?" she said with a small teasing smile.
A stray tear traveled down Rose's cheek. Sorry. Just frustrated.
Martha smiled and gave Rose's hand a small squeeze. "I know...it'll get better." That assurance given, Martha's eyes suddenly began to twinkle with mischief. "Soooo...," she drawled, "since you can't argue with me, I think that now is the perfect time to 'discuss' a certain someone."
Rose's eyes widened in understanding and she began fiercely scribbling again. Seriously? I'm hooked up like a telly and you wanna talk about this?
A wicked grin broke out on Martha's face. "Oh, I'm gonna talk. You? You're gonna listen," she said and grabbed Rose's paper.
Lovely. You're torturing a girl in hospital with a tube in her throat and wires from every bloody limb. What are ya gonna do next—steal some old person's wheelchair?
"You shoulda seen 'im Rose. He looked like his heart had been yanked out. We didn't even tell 'im about what happened. He just showed up. He'd gone to the shop and house lookin' for you and Mrs. Anders told 'im what had happened. He was devastated when he saw you. Completely gutted. Refused to leave. The only time he wasn't here was when he stayed with Tony. He's not goin' anywhere, y'know. He's completely and totally mad for you. Soooo…that being said, you need to think—I mean really think—bout things. 'Cause I saw how you were yesterday when he was here. Ya never let go of his hand and then add in the fact your heart rate skyrocketed when he kissed your head...well, I think y'know where I'm goin' with this."
Rose's cheeks reddened at the memory. Just then, she saw John appear at the door and her cheeks became a darker shade of crimson.
Martha turned to where Rose's gaze had drifted, and she smiled. "Speak of the Devil," she mumbled.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), John heard her and, giving a confused look, asked, "What?"
Martha waved her hand, brushing off the subject. "Oh, nothing'. Just tellin' her how incredible you've been through all this."
John's ears pinked just slightly at the compliment and the accompanying look Rose unknowingly gave him. Sheepishly, he rubbed the back of his head and turned his gaze downward. "It wasn't anything. I told you I was here for you all."
Rose mimed writing and Martha grabbed the requested items. "Here it is, Rose. Ya must have dropped it," she said with a smirk, handing her the notepad.
Rose gave Martha her best attempt at looking cross, but thanks to the ET tube, most of the intended effect was lost.
"Hello," he said as he gave her one of those smiles that made her insides melt. "You sleep well?"
She faintly nodded. You?
"Mostly. Donna phoned. She and Jack said that they are thinking of you and whenever you're up for visitors, they want to come see you."
Tell them thanks.
Suddenly a thought came to Rose, and she turned to Martha, wide-eyed. Who's taking care of the shop?
"Calleigh is helping out more now that her exams are over and Gwen said she could cover a few days a week while Charlie's in school."
Just don't let Calleigh bake anything. I love her but last time she mixed up sugar and salt.
"I know. I ate that thing she called a cake, remember? Don't worry. Calleigh's stickin' to the drinks. Stop worrying! I'm starting to wonder whether or not we should take that tube out. The paper slows you down a lil'. If we take that tube out, you might start rambling as fast as 'im," Martha said, nodding towards John.
"Oi! I'm not that bad!" he grumbled.
Martha and Rose both whipped their heads toward him at that statement.
"Alright, fine. Maybe a little," he relented.
Understatement of the year, that.
"Watch it, Tyler," he mockingly rebuked. "If I didn't want to hear your voice so badly, I'd be inclined to agree with Martha." John was so caught up in teasing Rose, that he didn't realize the frank openness of what he had just said. It wasn't until Rose began to blush and Martha tried to suppress a knowing smirk, that John realized he had forgotten once again to use a filter on his mouth.
"How are ya this mornin', Miss Tyler?" asked the young nurse who had suddenly appeared in the room.
John sighed, visibly relieved that attention had been diverted from him.
Fine thanks. Just call me Rose.
"Sounds lovely, Rose. I'm Rhiannon. I've taken care of ya before, but ya weren't awake yet. What says you to takin' out that pesky tube so we can meet properly?"
Let's do it.
"Dr. Bradley is on the floor and he should be in shortly. Once he's ready, he'll take out the tube and you'll be one step closer to goin' home. Now, do ya need anythin' for pain?"
Rose shook her head in reply.
"Okay, then, I'll let ya be for now. If ya need anythin' press your call button." With one last smile, Rhiannon left the room.
The three of them passed some time chatting about various things—Mickey's newest restoration, Tony, Jack's upcoming promotion, and so on.
It wasn't too long before Dr. Bradley finally came into the room.
He gave Rose a warm smile as he said, "You seem to be progressing very well, Rose. Remarkably, actually. The CT scan shows the swelling is decreasing and your chest x-ray shows your lung is almost fully expanded. Hopefully, we should be able to remove your chest tube in a day or two. But for now, let's start by taking out that ET tube. It's very simple. I'm going to deflate the balloon holding it in place and then we will just simply pull it out. Nothing fancy. Ready?"
"Alright. Here we go." And just like that, the tube was out. Rose began to cough and Dr. Bradley placed the oxygen tubing in her nose. "Now, this is just to help you for a little while. If you feel you are doing fine without the oxygen, you can take it off, but keep it close by. We'll continue to monitor everything. You're doing incredibly well, Rose. You're very lucky." After a more few minutes, Dr. Bradley left.
"Can I 'ave some water?" Rose asked, her voice scratchy and weak.
"Sure, love, I'll go get some," Martha said and quickly left the room. Leaving Rose and John in the room. Alone.
John moved his chair closer to the bed and did what was second nature—he took her hand and laced his fingers with hers. She looked down at their hands.
He let out a shaky breath. "So…"
She gave a weak chuckle. "Never known ya to be at a loss for words."
John smiled somewhat bashfully at her, shrugging. "It's been known to happen, given the right circumstances. Seems to be happening quite often...around you."
Rose blushed and diverted her gaze before speaking.
"Thank you, John...for everythin'. For helpin' Mickey and Martha, stayin' with Tony. Ya didn't have to do any of this. I know ya must have better or more important things to-"
"Nothing is more important than you—nothing," he cut her off, shaking his head vehemently. His statement was firm but not unkind. It merely conveyed an absolute truth that was not to be argued.
What am I gonna do? I'm losing this battle.
"Ya don't have to say that," she said softly, still having trouble meeting his gaze.
John looked at her intensely, his eyes filled with unyielding warmth and love. "I said it because I meant it...I do mean it. Always."
Rose's breath hitched slightly—and it wasn't just at the look he gave her. It was at the complete and utter honesty of his words. There was no denying his meaning, and the depth of what he had just conveyed to her was overwhelming. She yearned for it, yet feared its intensity.
"Here you go, Ro-" Martha stopped midsentence as she came in and the intensity of the situation hit her full force. "Um, y'know what? I think that this water is…," she took a sip, "Yep, nowhere near cold enough. Gotta fix that," she said and quickly made an exit.
Wow...you REALLY need to work on subtlety.
Martha's sudden appearance threw him off kilter, and John took a moment to gather his composure. Clearing his throat, he started, "Rose...that night...I was a-...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have assumed the worst. It was wrong of me and if…maybe if I hadn't been so daft, I could've…"
Rose's forehead creased in confusion and concern about his implications. "Coulda what?"
He averted his eyes. "I don't know. Maybe I could have prevented... this."
She took her free hand and turned his face to meet hers. There was such unfathomable sadness in his eyes. "Hey...I don't know what happened...well, not yet, anyways. But what I do know is this: you did not do this—whatever it was—to me. Don't go blamin' yourself for somethin' you had no part in!"
"Oh, I don't know about that," he said, unwilling to let go of his self-assumed blame.
Rose looked at him squarely. "I do."
Unbeknownst to the two of them, Martha slowly and quietly made her way to the door, eagerly awaiting what she knew was bubbling just below the surface. C'mon, Rose...you can do this.
Rose let out a shaky breath as her mind raged.
Maybe it's time I quit fighting...maybe it's time I should let go...
"John...that night, when you said y'thought I was... leadin' ya on..." John made a move to interrupt her but she stopped him, "No—lemme finish. When ya said I was leadin' you on, I was...it made me ill 'cause I could see I had hurt you—because that wasn't what I was trying to do at all. Because..."
Martha held her breath. Almost there. Just say it.
John looked at Rose in hopeful expectation.
"So, that pesky thing is finally out! I bet you're thrilled," Rhiannon said, apparently appearing out of thin air.
Rose shifted in bed, quickly putting a small amount of distance between her and John, who was clearly displeased with Rhiannon's unexpected intrusion. Martha just looked incredulously at the woman who had suddenly appeared beside her and shook her head.
So close... Martha thought. So bloody close.
Thanks so much again! I love that you guys are reading. Hope ya continue to enjoy!