Greg woke early the next morning. The guy in the bed next to him was snoring loudly. It took him a considerable amount of self-control to not throw something at him. He was in a really bad mood. He was annoyed that he was back on getting his nutrition through a IV again, annoyed that he had to wear an oxygen mask and most of it all he was pissed at himself that he had gotten himself back in hospital and wasn't allowed to move. He was back to square one just because he had been so bloody stubborn and hadn't seen a doctor right away. Greg grunted and turned his head pulling half the pillow over his ear. It didn't help. He could still hear that dreadful snoring.
He was put out of his misery a couple of hours later when a nurse entered and woke his bed-neighbour to check on him and to give him his breakfast.
“I'm Jason by the way,” he introduced himself chewing on a slice of bread.
“Nice to meet you. So did she forgot you or why is it that you didn't get any breakfast?”
“Nah, had stomach surgery. Not allowed to eat for a while.”
“Man, that sucks.”
“It does,” Greg nodded.
“How long until you are allowed to eat again?”
“Don't know. Couple of days at least, last time it had been for some weeks. That really pissed me off.”
“I can imagine.”
Greg smiled. He was about to close his eyes and get some sleep when Jason suddenly started talking again, telling him why he was in hospital and that he was a student and really annoyed that he misses all the good parties. He just kept talking, that he had moved to London only recently and that he's sharing a flat with way to many people.
Greg rolled his eyes. “Great a talker,” he thought to himself. He was still worn out from the surgery and just wanted to suffer in silence. Even though he had pressed his PCA button there was still this uncomfortable amount of pain left. Thinking about it, pursuing his Doctor to put him on some lighter painkillers in his PCA pump wasn't one of his most clever ideas. They were definitely different from the ones he had gotten back at the Royal. He again was on a constant morphine drip but the additional doses delivered when he pressed his PCA pump only numbed any acute pain, but it never quite vanished. Maybe he should talk to her and ask her if he could be switched back to the previous one.
Jason was still talking so Greg put his polite face on and nodded or shook his head in disapprove at the appropriate times. As long as he didn't have to participate more than moving the head he could deal with it for now.
Later this day his room-mate was visited by some friends. It was a group of 3 men and two women, all in their mid twenties. Greg discretely pulled up his blanket and tried to concentrate on the book Molly thankfully had left him yesterday.
“'scuse me, Sir?” a voice suddenly interrupted. Greg turned his head towards it. One of the women was looking over to him. “Do you mind if we borrow these?” She asked nodding at the two chairs next to Greg's bed.
“No, not at all,” Greg replied, his voice muffled by his mask.
The girl raised her eyebrows and leaned forward. “Pardon?” She sounded slightly uncomfortable.
Raising his voice Greg repeated what he just had said.
“Great, thanks.” The girl quickly moved both of the chairs over to the other bed and Greg devoted himself to the book again to take his mind of the constant pain that flared through his chest and abdomen.
It didn't really work and the group next to him was talking quite loudly about some rather interesting gossip so Greg decided to ditch the book and do some eavesdropping. Normally he wasn't a big fan of it but with nothing else to do right now he found it a nice alternative to that horribly romantic book.
He put the book back on his night stand and moved himself down the bed a little, wincing at the pain this small movement had caused. He pushed the button of his pump but nothing happened. Greg groaned. He pushed it again but there was still no relief. He closed his eyes and tried to breath through the pain, tried to take his mind off it but it didn't work. He fumbled for the button to call the nurse but wasn't able to find it. The pain was now becoming nearly unbearable and Greg wasn't able to suppress a whimper. He clawed his bed sheet when the pain that radiated through his body became particular sever.
“Hey, you Ok, man?” Jason asked, the whole group now looking over to Greg. “Should I call the nurse for you?”
Greg slowly turned his head, his face contorted with pain. For a brief moment he thought about denying that offer and just sit it out but then remembered that exactly this idiotic stubbornness of not acknowledging when he needed help had landed him here. He slowly nodded. “Yes please,” he whispered, the words lost under the mask.
Jason pushed his call button and a short time later a nurse arrived.
“How can I help you?” She piped.
Jason pointed to Greg. “I think something's wrong with him. Looks like he's in some pain.”
The nurse quickly made her way through the room and touched Greg slightly on his shoulder. “Mr. Lestrade, please open your eyes.”
Greg blinked and slowly focused on the nurse at his side. “Hurts, pump not working,” he mumbled.
“Let me check that out,” the nurse leaned over and pressed the button. “Hmm, when did you had your last dosage?”
“Morning, I think,” Greg replied through gritted teeth. He was convinced that he'll pass out if he wasn't given anything soon.
“I'm going to get you something for the pain and then I'm going to have that pump sorted out. Ok, Mr. Lestrade?”
Greg nodded weakly and watched the nurse leave. After what felt like an eternity she finally returned with the painkiller which she directly administered via Greg's central line.
Greg craned his neck and let out a deep breath when the pain began to vanish. “Thank you.”
“No worries,” the nurse smiled back. “I'm going to unhook you and get you another pump so that this won't happen again.”
Now after the pain had nearly vanished Greg closed his eyes and relaxed. Jason and his friends were rather loud, especially one of the girls who had a particular annoying laugh. Greg watched her for a while and came to the decision that she had a crush on Jason who on the other hand seemed more fond of the girl who had asked him if they could use his chairs. Greg groaned inwardly, hoping that there won't be any drama unfolding as long as he was stuck in the bed or that he would at least be allowed some popcorn to have with it.
Thankfully they all left a short time later, of course not without the promise or threat, he wasn't quite sure, to visit again tomorrow and Greg used the new found silence to catch up on some sleep.
Greg opened his eyes and saw Molly sitting next to his bed. A smile formed on his lips.
“Hey, how are you?” She said softly, wiping away a strand of hair from his forehead.
“I'm Ok. Hurts, but I'll manage.”
“Then why don't you ask the nurse to increase the dosage of your pain medication?”
“Nah, asked her to switch me to... to lighter ones, actually. Don't like to be on the heavy stuff.” Greg had to pause every now and then to catch his breath.
“You don't say,” Molly smirked.
Molly didn't reply only her smile grew a bid wider.
“What? What is it?”
“I think you are kinda cute when you are under the influence of strong pain medication.”
Greg looked puzzled.
“You are, Silver Fox.”
Greg could feel himself turning red. “Oh God. Please don't tell me I'd been blabbering,” he thought.
“Care to elaborate?” Molly asked winking.
He cursed. “See, that's why I don't like painkillers. I talk nonsense. It doesn't mean anything.”
Molly raised her eyebrows. “Really?”
Trying to look as clueless as possible Greg nodded.
“So it has nothing to do with any recent stay in an Intensive Care Unit?” Molly kept probing.
“Ok, maybe this was my nickname amongst the nurses back at... at the Royal. God, this is so embarrassing.” he ran his hands over his eyes, “please don't tell anyone else. I'll never hear the end of it.”
“I won't” Molly promised.
“What...what else did I say?” Greg asked carefully, not really sure he wanted to know.
“Well you were convinced that the doctor was flirting with you and you apologized multiple times that you hadn't worked out lately. Later you kept telling me a lot of stuff from when you were on the beat, didn't know that you were that clumsy,” Molly winked, “and it seemed very important to you to let me know that the dwarf comment at John's wedding was only meant as a joke and that you totally knew who did it.”
Greg groaned. The wedding. He had felt quite depressed at the beginning, being one of the few poor sods without a date. He had thought about his own failed marriage, how happy he and Jane had been at their wedding. And then years later, when slowly the suspicion had crept up inside him that he wasn't the only man in her life. The fights, her denying everything at first then accusing him that his whole life evolved around the Yard and Sherlock. That he neglected her and hadn't given her any other choice. Her promise around Christmas a couple of years ago that they'll work it out. He had believed her, really wanting to rescue their marriage. Up until the point when he got hit between his eyes with Sherlock's comment that she's still sleeping with that PE teacher. The only thing that had cheered him up at the wedding was the free booze and the fact that he was sitting right next to Molly even though she was with her Sherlock lookalike boyfriend.
He had used this opportunity to cast some sneaking looks at her. She looked really good in her yellow dress, reminding him of that Christmas party at John and Sherlock's a couple of years ago when she had turned up looking absolutely stunning. Thinking about it that probably was the moment were he started to feel more for her.
They had a really good time at the wedding and it had seemed to Greg that she interacted more with him than with Tom. Until they both blew it with their stupid theories.
“Yeah, about the wedding,” Greg began, “I really don't know what I thought... back then when I mentioned the dwarf. I was a bit tipsy. Made myself look like... like a fool in front of all the people. Which wouldn't have been too embarrassing, … managed worse during my career at the Met, but you...”
Molly interrupted him “It's Ok, Greg. I actually liked your theory. It was funny, so don't worry. Anyone else would have made a fool of himself at that moment. Remember what Tom had said? That was really embarrassing. And even Sherlock didn't had a clue at that time.”
“But still, I better watch out with... with the alcohol and the heavy painkillers when I'm around you, before I do or say some... something really embarrassing,” Greg laughed.
“Speaking of alcohol,what the hell were you thinking, Greg?”
“Please, can't we leave that alone?”
“No we can't!”
“Come on, it's nothing. I had a little too much. I regret it and I won't do it again, Ok?” Greg said annoyed.
“I wouldn't call that nothing. You were still on strong painkillers. You weren't supposed to have any alcohol at all. I thought one pint would be Ok, that you knew that too and would stop after that. I even tolerated your second pint. But having shots? And not only one or two apparently. Greg you had to throw up because of them.”
“It was one little slip.”
“Sherlock told me you drank at rehab...”
“Only a couple of sips while we played poker. I didn't get drunk.” Greg defended himself. “I'm not a bloody alcoholic if that's what you are implying.”
“I'm not implying anything, but you've got to get your wits together. You've got to accept that there are things that are off limits right now. Things you just can't do at the moment.”
“Yeah, like walking,” he muttered.
“It's not all about that, Greg.”
“Well it is for me. You don't know how it is. How should you. You can walk.”
“Yeah well if you ever want to walk again than you've got to give your body the chance to heal. Talk to someone when something doesn't feel right. And stop doing stupid things like drink 'till you have to throw up or sleep on your chest despite the pain. I don't know if you remember anything the doctor said yesterday but according to her you re-injured your lungs because when you slept on your stomach some of your injured ribs moved and put pressure on your lungs. Damn it Greg, you being here is solely caused by your inability to accept your current boundaries. Nothing else.”
“I didn't do it on fucking purpose. Do you think I like all of this? That I enjoy being in pain, bedridden, fed through a fucking tube again. That I'm not making any progress?”
“Of course not. But Greg, you have to see my site as well. I was so scared when we found you, nearly unconscious. All I could think of was -please God, not again.- Do you know how much it hurts seeing you in pain? How hard it is to go through all of it again? Sitting next to you in the Ambulance holding your hand while you were slipping in and out of consciousness. Seeing you being wheeled away for surgery. Sitting there waiting until I'm allowed to see you. Waiting at your bedside for you to wake up.”
“Well then just leave me if all of this is too much for you. You don't have to stay with me just because you feel sorry for me. I don't need you and your fucking pity. Go find yourself a real man just like my ex-wife did.”
“Fuck you, Greg. Seriously...fuck you!” Molly shouted storming for the door. She opened it and turned around. Pain and anger clearly visible on her face. “I'm not with you because I feel sorry for you. I thought we were in a relationship. I have real feelings for you Greg and I wanted to support you so that you don't have to go through all of this alone. If you don't want it, fine. Push me away. But don't expect me to come back until you are ready to apologize.”
“The fuck I will!”
Greg flinched when Molly slammed the door shut.
“Whoa, trouble in paradise?” Jason asked “That'd been your wife?”
“Not in the mood to talk right now.” Greg mumbled.
“Sorry, I can't hear you under your mask.”
With a sigh he turned around fumbling on his mask to get it off. He didn't had the power to raise his voice. “I said that I don't want to fucking talk right now!”
Jason held up his hands in a defensive manner, “Sorry, man. I just...”
“Just be quiet, Ok?” Greg sighed and looked out of the window, his mask dangling at the side of his face.
Jason started to reply something but was interrupted by a nurse who came to check what all that noise was about.
“What in the name of the Lord is going on in here?” She asked sharply.
“Oh nothing, it's all good now,” Jason explained. “He just had a little fight with his wife.” He nodded towards Greg.
“Not my wife!”
The nurse looked over to the bed under the window. Seeing that Greg wasn't wearing the mask she quickly made her way over to him and put it back on. “How often do I have to tell you that it has to stay on?”
“I was just... no you know what? Fuck it..I'm sick of having to defend myself every day. Can't you all just leave me alone please?” Greg said defeated.
“He was just talking to me, that's why he didn't have his mask on.”
The nurse looked at the man lying in the bed in front of her. He seemed utterly shattered. Like he had given up. “You know,” she began, her voice now soft and friendly, “we do offer counselling if you need someone to talk to about accepting your current situation.”
“Fuck my current situation! I don't need any help. Why is nobody accepting that? I'm fine. Just leave me the fuck alone.”
Shocked by the sudden outburst the nurse took one step back. For a moment she thought about trying to calm the patient down, to comfort him but then decided against it. She knew about his back story. A police officer severely injured in the line of duty. Paralysed, possibly never able to walk again. Back in hospital after a major setback. She had dealt with patients like him before. Trying to force counselling on him in a situation like now would only make everything worse. He would shut down completely. She only could hope that he had friends who were there for him and that he was willing to open up to them.
The nurse took one last look at Greg before leaving the room. His eyes were closed and the breathing hitched. Lines of tension were visible on his face. It looked like he was fighting not to cry. She felt sorry for him. Whatever he and his girlfriend were fighting about, she hoped that they'll sort it out quick.
It didn't get any better when early next morning two nurse arrived to give him a cleaning. Jason had the grace to leave the room to give Greg the privacy needed but still he begged to leave him be.
“Please, you've got to understand. Just allow me one trip to the bathroom and I can perfectly wash myself.” He looked at them pleadingly. He was in no mood at all to be washed by a woman half his age and handled by a boy who looked like he was just out of school.
They both denied Greg's wish, explaining to him that he was not allowed out of bed as long as his injuries hadn't healed up to a certain point. The situation escalated pretty quickly with Greg becoming quite agitated, suddenly ripping his IVs out, demanding his wheelchair so that he could leave. The boy looked visibly shaken and just stood there while the nurse put pressure on the insertion sites, trying to stop the blood flow. “Get the head nurse,” she shouted. “Tell her that a patient has pulled his central line.”
The boy turned on his heels and ran out of the room. The nurse now turned to Greg who as well looked quite shocked about what he just had done.
“Look, I'm sorry,” he began. “I...I didn't meant to do this. I just... I don't know. I was frustrated, I clearly didn't think.”
The head nurse arrived with a syringe and new IV sets. “So so sorry,” Greg added, looking at her. “Don't know what I thought. So stupid.”
“It's Ok, Mr: Lestrade. We'll sort it out. I'll give you something that'll calm you down and then we'll get you hooked up to all that drips and clean you up again, Ok?” Smiling she added, “My colleague here will start at your arm, we don't want you to keep you off your continuous morphine drip for too long. Don't need any extra pain on top of all that, do we?”
Greg nodded. He closed his eyes, trying to block out the nurses working on his neck and arm, putting the central line and regular IV back in.
Greg's mood didn't improve over the day. He snapped at the nurses and when John and Sherlock came to visit in the afternoon it was a pretty one-sided conversation and Greg's replies were rather brusquely.
“What's wrong, Greg?” John asked truly concerned after Sherlock had left, annoyed that John had dragged him along when the Detective Inspector was clearly in no mood for visitors.
“Well there clearly is. I'm here since 20 minutes and you said what? 10 words? Greg, something is clearly bothering you. Talk to me.”
“What if I don't want to talk? Why does everyone wants me to talk? What good does it do anyway? It won't make me walk again.”
“It helps, believe me. Once you've got that weight off your chest you can fully concentrate on what really matters.”
Greg let out a grunt. “As if you would know.”
“I was shot too, remember? I had to leave the army because of it. A job I truly loved. I know how it feels Greg.”
Greg let out a disapproving grunt. “At least it wasn't your fault.”
John looked puzzled, “what do you mean by that?”
“Doesn't matter.” Greg tried to avoid Johns eyes.
“It seemingly does or you wouldn't have brought it up. Who says that all of this is your fault?”
“Well everyone apparently.”
“Greg, it is not your fault that you got shot. No one is saying this. How should you have seen that coming?”
“Sherlock is a bloody sociopath. I have no idea what is going on in his head and just to let you know even Sherlock had no clue that Greydon was about to shoot you. If he had we would've been there sooner.”
Greg slowly shook his head and tried to roll onto his side to get away from John. He was stopped by a small but strong hand which firmly pressed on his shoulder. “No moving, Greg!”
Suddenly Greg exploded. “See that's what I mean. I'm bloody useless. Can't do a fucking thing. And if I do something it's wrong and I hurt myself and the people around me. I'm done with this shit. Leave, don't bother about me.”
“Greg,..” John began but was interrupted by Greg, telling him to fuck off.
“Ok then, can't force you.” John said standing up. “I can understand if you don't want to talk to me about it but promise me that you'll at least talk to somebody. Your best friend or Molly.”
Upon hearing Molly's name Greg let out a huff. John stopped and walked back to Greg's bed.
“Everything Ok between you two?” Greg shrugged his shoulders.
An uneasy feeling crept up in John. He pulled the chair back and sat down, looking Greg straight into the eyes. “What happened, Greg?”
“We fought. She shouted, I shouted and then she left.”
“And let me guess, you did nothing to stop her?”
Greg furrowed his brows. “Why should I? I told her that I don't need her pity, that she can leave and she did. So why bother?”
“Oh Greg, you are utterly utterly stupid. Why do you push the people away that try to help you? I really hope that you come to your senses soon. Stop wallowing in self-pity.“
John stood up again and leaned towards Greg, placing his hands on the side of the bed. “And don't be such an idiot, Greg. Don't push us away. We want to help you. If you pull this shit on every one of your friends you'll soon be very very lonely. Molly didn't act out of pity, she cares for you because she loves you. Call her, say that you are sorry.” John pushed himself up and made his way towards the door.
Greg turned his head away from John and let out a deep breath. He saw no point in apologizing to Molly. It was over and he was alone again. He would manage, he always did.