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Slow Healing

By attemptedvisions

Action / Romance

Chapter 1

Based on the following prompt from Tumblr:

Person A and Person B have had a (serious) fall out for a few months now, but Person B has never changed their emergency contact, so when they end up in the hospital Person A is called.

Bonus: Person A comes running, but tries to play it cool (and can't).

Warnings: Mild language

A/N: Hello, Solangelo fans! Thanks for reading, and please remember to review and vote! This is entered in the Fandom 3 contest. 

Nico's POV

"Hey," I whispered, sliding into bed beside him. Will had his eyes closed and his back was to me. I figured he was asleep, since it was so late, so I tried to be quiet as I drew the blankets over myself and got comfortable. "Goodnight." I leaned over and placed a kiss on his forehead. Instead of him stirring awake or just remaining asleep, I felt him stiffen up. "Will, are you awake? Is something wrong?"

He rolled over and stared up at the ceiling. He wouldn't look at me. The wall of silence coming from him was terrifying. Will was constantly talking.

Now I was worried. "What's wrong? What happened?" I propped myself up on one elbow, facing him. He swallowed hard, like he was about to cry or yell, whichever came first. Everything about him radiated emotion. Not the positive energy I'd come to admire, but a deeper, uglier feeling that lingered just below the surface. A hurricane.

"You're never home," he murmured."And when you are, it seems like you… like you don't even notice if I'm around or not."

"I'm sorry, Will, it's just been a really busy week at the studio. You know how it can be sometimes." The guilt was settling in. It was obvious Will had been thinking about this a lot. And I had to admit he had a point. A minor point, but a point nonetheless.

"But it isn't just this week. If spending time with me is actually important to you, you would have made it more of a priority. The only time I see you is in the morning and sometimes in bed." He still refused to even glance up at me. I was startled to see tears glistening in his eyes. Where did this come from all of a sudden? I thought we were a happy couple. Was I really that oblivious to what Will was feeling?

"Baby, that isn't fair. You know I would much rather be here than at work." I tried to placate his hurt, but it wasn't really having the desired effect. I was never very good at comforting people. Another one of my flaws.

Then he finally held my gaze. Something in his voice got stronger, hardened by anger. Will never got mad. What was different now? "Just let me explain, Nico. I should have said this a long time ago. You get home late every single night, and then you are emotionally closed off when we do actually spend time together. It kills me. I always try to be upbeat about everything, and then you are… the opposite. Always hard to read. I never know what you're thinking, what you're feeling. I don't even know if I'm good enough for you!"

There it was, the true root of the problem. My defensive instincts flared, even though I knew fighting back would only widen the gap between us. "That isn't true. Yeah, I've had to work a lot lately, but you've pulled all-nighters at the clinic on more than one occasion. And if I am 'emotionally closed off', sorry, but that is how I've always been. If you don't like it, you shouldn't have picked me for a boyfriend! More than that, I'm glad I'm not as opinionated about everything as you, or else we would be constantly fighting," I said pointedly. Will rolled his eyes at that. I pressed on. "Maybe you don't want to know what I think about all the time, since according to you, I'm constantly devising more reasons why my boyfriend doesn't measure up!"

Will suddenly sat up in bed, throwing the sheets off. I pushed myself up on my palms so we were at eye level. The battle lines had been drawn in the dirt, and we were both well past the point of being pissed off. The few fights we had had prior to this always happened the same way: brief and intense, with good potential for disaster. Up until now, we always made up, but the scars never fully healed. I had a terrible feeling that we would never recover from what happened this time.

"Now you're afraid to get too close to anyone. You used to be… You used to be someone who was fun to be around. You used to smile a lot more. What happened to that?"

"I didn't change, Will! Even if I did, it would be part of your role as my boyfriend to support me, or at least understand where I was coming from. That isn't exactly happening, is it? Just because I'm not 'fun' anymore? I'm not a toy that you can play with, and then get rid of once you get bored of it!" I spat the words out, relationship be damned. I didn't care anymore. Hot tears formed in my eyes. I pushed the blankets off and jumped up. I had to get up, move around, or else I was going to haul off and punch someone.

Will followed me. His eyes were cold, but his words were caustic. "You did change. As I remember, you were a hell of a lot different before Bianca died. That's when you turned into this mess!"

I inhaled sharply. Will's eyes widened. The sudden quiet that blanketed the room was as dangerous as mustard gas. I tried to breathe, to say something, but the swollen lump in my throat was choking me. Will went way out of line with that last comment, and he knew it.

"Nico-"

But it was too late for him to fix anything. All rational thought went out the window. My only goal was to hurt him as bad as he had hurt me. "There's no way in hell that I'm listening to your bullshit apology. You don't get to make up for it. How can you even talk to me like that about her? I trusted you enough to tell you what happened, and you choose now to throw it back in my face? What about Michael then, huh? I know what happened to him. How does the guilt taste?"

Will didn't look at me again. "Fine," he said. He stormed over to the closet and start throwing clothes haphazardly into a duffel bag. Tears were streaming down his face. I stood motionless in the middle of our bedroom, feeling like I had just survived a hurricane. Now the storm was over. All that was left was the aftermath.

I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do. I felt completely numb. I watched silently as he finished packing and stalked out the door, slamming it on his way out. I flinched. Will never slammed doors. I managed to move to the window, trying to see where he went. My hands were shaking as I pressed them against the glass. I could hear his car door close from five stories up. Red taillights drove away. Away from our house, away from our future, away from me.

I didn't see him again.

Until.


"Hello?" I glance at the number on the receiver, frowning. Why would the hospital decide to call me at eight o'clock on a Tuesday morning?

"Mr. Di Angelo?" The woman at the other end sounds resigned, like she has terrible news to deliver. I feel my breathing go shallow. This can't be good, whatever it is. Who would they be calling me about, anyway? I don't have any remaining family, and none of my friends have me listed as their emergency contact. Nonetheless, my stomach is performing a slow twist.

"That's me. Is something wrong?"

"I'm an EMT at Grand View Hospital. A patient recently came in, a man named Will Solace."

Shit. Shit.

I haven't spoken to Will in three months and eight days. A serious breakup. We aren't exactly on the best of terms. Still, my heart devolves into a sledgehammer at the mention of his name, crashing into my rib cage. I don't know if it is because of the suddenness of it all, or if his name still has some residual painful effect on me. I grip the edge of the kitchen table with my free hand until the knuckles turn white. I feel like my equilibrium is shifting. Even though his injury could be something minor (a sprained ankle, maybe), I can't stop myself from imagining the worst possible situation. Even though we split up, I still don't want him to be hurt.

"You were the only one listed in his emergency contact information. Grandview is required to notify anyone on the contact list. I should let you know that he is in pretty serious condition."

"What happened to him? Is he conscious? Is there internal bleeding? Head injuries?" I ignore the woman's question. The words slip from my mouth without thought. I know I'm rambling, but I need to know. I need to know. What the hell happened to my ex-boyfriend?

"He was in a car accident this morning at around seven-thirty, he is still unconscious, we found no internal bleeding, but he did suffer a minor brain injury. His other injuries were fairly mild. But it's a slight possible that he could go into a coma. We won't know anything until he wakes up." The woman's tone is sympathetic, like she has seen it all before.

I can't find the words to respond. This can't be real. Will was always such a careful driver. Brain injury. Coma. Silence settles on both ends of the line as the bombshell detonates inside my head. Will. Oh my God.

Finally, the EMT says, "Sir, I just wanted you to know. Visiting hours are until nine this evening. " The phone goes dead as she hangs up. I carefully put the phone back into its charger. My hands are shaking as I pull out a kitchen chair and drop into it. I rest my head in my hands. But this isn't the time to pity myself. I need to get to Will. Whether he wants me there or not. Whether I want to be there or not.

In a daze, I grab my coat and shoes out of the closet. My feet are leaden as I make my way to the car. Seeing my black Corvette in the driveway usually lifts my spirits, but not today. Nothing even seems real. And there is no way that I am crying over Will, not this time. I still won't admit it to myself, even when I try to check the gas gauge and everything is blurry. During the drive to the hospital, I repeat every cuss word that I know out loud. Anything to keep the silence away.


I reach Grandview at record time, but I can hardly force myself to go inside. I can't stand hospitals. Ever since Bianca…

When I reach the front desk, I tell the receptionist what happened, and she directs me down a hallway to room 221. I pause outside the door. Should I knock, or just go in? This is not exactly a normal situation. But the problem is solved for me when a white-coated doctor opens the door. He doesn't seem surprised to see me. "Oh, you must be Mr. Di Angelo. I'm Dr. Ross." We shake hands, and he holds the door open for me. "Will still has not regained consciousness, and right now we just have our fingers crossed that he doesn't fall into a coma. You can see him though, if you would like."

I step inside, and I am immediately taken aback by the sight of Will. He looks dead. His vibrant blue eyes are closed. His face is the color of eggshells. A bandage covers part of his forehead. I bite the inside of my cheek. I have to do something, or else I'll lose all control of my emotions. Concern. Grief. Longing for what used to be.

For some reason, I'm just as nervous now as I was on our first date. I don't know why I think of it now. It wasn't much, just the typically awkward get-to-know-you conversation over dinner. But we struck it off. I slowly started feeling more comfortable around him, and then-

"And what is your relation to Mr. Solace, sir?" Dr. Ross questions. I break out of my reverie. Great. The question I've been dreading.

I stammer, "Um, I'm… uh, his ex. I guess he forgot to change his emergency contact info."

The surprised look on the doctor's face might have been funny in different circumstances. He just nods, still looking a bit miffed. "Okay, then. I'm sorry, we're kind of understaffed right now- there was an emergency in the oncology ward- but we think it would be best if someone were to stay with Mr. Solace for a little while. Just until he wakes up. Would you mind staying here, just for a few hours?"

"Yes. I mean, no, that's fine." I'm talking too fast. I'm nervous. The entire hospital atmosphere is turning me into a wreck. But I agreed to stay anyway. Why? I don't know.


It's three o'clock now, and still no sign of consciousness from Will. I haven't noticed a change. No movement, no sound. The only way I can tell he is alive is by the machines attached to him. The rise and fall of the heart monitor line is my constant companion.

I don't know why I do it. I don't truly need to be here. We aren't together anymore. And it was hardly a gentle breakup. But he doesn't have any family. None that would come all the way to New York to see him, anyway. Will didn't really like to talk about it. But I would feel guilty if I left him here by himself, all alone in a sterile hospital room. Even though he left me without thinking twice.

Maybe I'm not completely over him. It's a terrifying thought.

I'm exhausted. This constant worrying is screwing me over.

"Nico?"

I jump a foot in the air. Will? Oh my God, he's finally awake. His eyes are open, but he isn't making any attempt to move yet. He says my name uncertainly, no doubt wondering why I showed up here, now, after all these months. I can read him like a novel. His over-the-top expressiveness was something I loved and hated about him when we were still together. Now, his electric blue eyes remind me of the best and worst times.

The silence is starting to stifle me. I desperately reach for something (anything) to say. Let's see. What do you tell your ex-boyfriend when he wakes up from an almost-coma?

"It's been all day," I mutter, looking at the clock, the monitors, anywhere but at Will. "You were out cold since seven this morning."

He sits up in bed, wincing. "Don't," I warn. "You might screw something up if you move. Wait for the nurses." He smirks at my mother-hen input on his safety. He was always telling me to lighten up back when we were together. And there I go again, reminiscing about what we lost.

"So how have you been lately?" Will asks. I stare at my shoes unsure of how to respond. Everything is screwed. The question is an obvious icebreaker. Vague and impersonal. Our relationship is back to square one. But instead of starting with a clean slate, we have a history. Even worse.

"I'm okay," I reply. I wanted to add without you, but I refrain. For one, it isn't really true. I hate to admit it, but I missed him a ton. And I don't relish the idea of picking another fight. Instead, I shift the focus back to Will. "How do you feel?"

"Like I've been hit by a car," he answers wryly. I allow myself a faint smile. "I have a massive headache, and bruises all over, I'm sure. Other than that, I feel all right."

"Are you still working at the clinic?" I ask after a too-long pause. My nerves are shot. I get so awkward around people sometimes. Especially now. I can't help but think about all the easy conversations we used to have. Small talk is a struggle these days.

"Yeah. I really like what I do. The money isn't bad, either."

We sit quietly for the next few moments. There are ocean waves in my stomach, stirring up my insecurities and causing chaos. I can't find any safe subject to talk about. Nothing.

"So… not that I mind or anything, but why are you here?" Will questions. I examine his tone carefully for signs of anger or sarcasm, but I find none. He's actually curious. I guess that means I should tell the truth. "The hospital called me this morning after the accident. I guess you never changed your contact info. So I came in to… see you" -Will's eyebrows rose in disbelief- "and then the doctor asked if I could stay with you, until you woke up. He said something about an emergency and being understaffed." Was it just me, or did he look disappointed? Why am I overanalyzing everything? "And so here I am," I finished lamely. Will nods, thinking it all over.

"Thank you. For staying." Will seems genuinely sincere. Even my cynical nature can't make his gratitude seem fake.

"You're welcome."

I thought that by this point, I would have screamed at Will, telling him why he never should have left. Why he hurt me. Why he was wrong. But instead, we're having a civilized conversation. And I realize that he wasn't the only one who was at fault.

The blame belongs to me, too.

I take a deep, steadying breath. I have to at least attempt to patch things up now. Fix my mistakes.

"I'm sorry," I blurt. At the exact same time, Will says, "I didn't mean it."

We hold each other's eyes, surprised by our similar outbursts. "You go first," I suggest. He nods. "Okay. Nico, I'm sorry for blowing up on you that night. I was just… upset, because I just really wanted to spend more time with you. Since I left"- his voice grew quiet- "I realized that I was wrong. I know I never should have used that name to hurt you."

I close my eyes. Bianca. And I remember what I said that night. I was just as cruel to Will.

"I'm sorry about Michael," I said, voice hardly a whisper. "And everything else. You were right about a lot of things. I was just too proud to listen at the time." His slowly widening smile lights me up from the inside. It feels so good to get things out in the open, to clear the poisoned air between us. For the first time, I realize just how much I was floundering without him.

"So, when I get out of this hospital bed, I was wondering," Will begins, glancing shyly at me. "Do you maybe want to try… starting over? As long as you haven't found anyone else yet. Is this a stupid idea?" He's talking too much, a sure sign that he's nervous.

I'm sure my eyes are the size of dinner plates. I try to form a response, but succeed at only monosyllabic sounds. "You- you want to… Us?"

His mouth (I'd forgotten how much I loved the shape of his lips) curves up at the corners. "Yes. I'd like to try again. If you're okay with it."

I finally break into a grin. Giddy and disbelieving. We can make things right. "I don't have anyone else, and it may be a crazy idea. William Alexander Solace, the answer is definitely yes."



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