Miracles and Dreams.
Here is the chapter that I promised. I know that there is one thing that will piss some of you off in it but I promise, I have good reason for making it that way. Bear with me, please.
The Doctor walks Arlington down a long hallway of blue doors. She stops in front of one the only one with a police officer standing guard and indicates that he should let Arlington inside.
“Normally, in a case like this, we would only allow family members in,” the doctor explains. “But we haven’t been able to locate anyone.”
“She has a sister here in the city,” he offers as gratitude for her willingness to bend the rules on his behalf. He could question why but guesses it either has something to do with who he is or the fact that she can read his despair well and feels sorry for him. “I don’t have her contact information,” he adds.
The doctor gives him a sympathetic smile. “It’s national news,” she says logically. “I’m sure it will reach her if it hasn’t already. But we’ll keep trying to get a hold of her.”
“Thank you,” Arlington responds hoarsely, when his throat begins to tighten again. “You said Seth is fine?”
“As fine as gunshot victim can be,” she answers. “He’s lucky and the wound to his head was superficial,” she concludes then visibly cringes at her choice of words.
“As lucky as a gunshot victim can be, I suppose,” Arlington tries to joke. “Thank you doctor, for everything,” he adds. The next words he speaks are painful to get out but on a lungful of air he says, “even if Lucas doesn’t make it, I suspect you’ve done your best.”
She offers a wry smile. “I’ll update you, sir,” she says. “As soon as possible.”
When she leaves him, Arlington enters the room with a mixture of emotions. At first, he wonders why it that out of all of the people involved in today’s incident, his son is the only one barely clinging to life. Selfish though the thought may be, he is made to wonder why Lucas couldn’t be the one lying here sleeping off the drugs injected into his system until the effects taper off rather than fighting to stay alive.
An image of his son lying somewhere in a hospital bed, attached to tubes and monitors returns unsummoned to his mind. No matter Arlington’s efforts, this is the only picture he has of Lucas in his head now -- bloody and beaten and cold at death’s door. He no longer sees him as the billionaire that he is. Nor the voracious youth with a mind to succeed and seat at the top of the tech hierarchy. This is what his son has been reduced to by a psychopath.
Much worse is the fact that Angus, the perpetrator, is somewhere in this very hospital, nursing a through and through gunshot wound to the leg.
How he wishes that someone had done the world the great service by killing him. How he wishes he could find the bastard’s hospital bed and suffocate him with his bare hands and watch the life leach out of his worthless body.
As if engulfed by a sense of calm, Arlington sighs grateful at least that the man responsible for his son’s condition is under police guard. It is up to him now to see to it that he gets what he deserves; the full measure of the law.
Then he breaks down as he approaches Alaine’s bed. This shouldn’t have happened. Not to Lucas. He’s such a good boy - a good son, a good person in general. He’s always been. The boy wouldn’t hurt a fly. Not deliberately. He doesn’t deserve any of this.
Finally, Arlington experiences regret so acute, it makes him weak. He regrets that he’d been such a terrible father to the best son a man could ask for. Yes, he’d shown up for every milestone and every achievement but he’d missed Lucas’ real life -- the in between weaved around those moments. He has no idea who was Lucas’ first date or any of those other trivial things that are so important to young people.
Recently, he’s been trying to make up for his absence and now it looks very much like that chance will be cut short.
His son will die.
He may never get to see Lucas’ bride walk down the isle to him, nor bounce his children on his knees. What wouldn’t he trade to have Lucas lying in this bed in front of him instead?
As his eyes shift over Alaine’s face, he considers her impact on Lucas. She’s a pretty little one. It’s no wonder she’d captured and held his son’s eyes and heart in such a fierce grip. The boy had stood no chance. So much so, he’d been willing to sacrifice his life to save hers.
That kind of love Arlington understands well. It’s a Bright thing. They come from a line of men who are known for falling fast and loving hard. Lucas had done his utmost to avoid it but somehow Arlington had always known that he would succumb to the Bright way. It had just been just a matter of who and when.
“Lucky girl,” he whispers to Alaine. “He would love you forever,” he adds with a sigh.
Even now, Arlington can’t help that his mind shifts to his ex-wife. Lucas’ mother. How will she react to this? Her only son, only child.
“Hopefully, you’re good to my son,” Arlington breathes softly to Alaine in an attempt to shift his thoughts from the woman who still owns a part of him.
He chooses to speak in the present tense because maybe speaking things that are not as if they are is what will be the difference for Lucas.
“Let’s hope he is not doomed to suffer the same fate as I,” he says picking up Alaine’s small hand in his. “If he comes out of this alive, that is,” he adds. “If he comes out of this alive, don’t break my boy’s heart.”
“No next of kin, huh?” he continues because he hates the silence. It seems so much like death.
“Where’s the rest of your family, little one?” he questions though he knows he will not receive a reply. “Don’t worry, Lucas loves you enough to make up for their absence.”
Arlington sputters as a quiet sob rocks his chest.
“He may not make it, you know. The doctors say there is a ninety percent chance he doesn’t and that makes me unbearably sad. I was such a terrible father to him,” he says and takes a seat on chair beside the bed with Alaine’s hand still in his. “He wasn’t happy as a child and I know that’s my fault. I was hardly ever there. I tried to make up for it but...is it even possible to make up for lost times? Suddenly, I’m starting to think I can’t. But you did what I couldn’t, little girl. You’ve made my son happy,” he concludes, trying to find consolation in that. “At least, I know if today is his last day, he didn’t die an unhappy man and for that I am eternally grateful.”
Despite his hopes and fears crashing into his each other, all he can do now is wait. So he remains there, keeping Alaine’s quiet company through a shift change, because she has no one else to claim her for the time.
Later, Shanice pokes her head into the room. “Arlington,” she calls and remains by the door.
Not bothering to turn to her, he quiets his sobs to a whimper and asks, “is it over?”
He’s had enough time to grow accustomed to the thought that he might walk out of here and his son will not be alive. It’s not that he’s used to the idea, he’s just in a weird place of numbness.
“Just say it,” he prompts.
“The doctors need you to sign some papers, for his surgery,” Shanice tells him.
“What?” Arlington swivels his body around in the chair to ask. He stands immediately and walks over to his wife with his heart pounding and throws his arms around her. “He’s...”
“He’s stable enough for surgery,” Shanice explains. “They need you to sign the consent forms. Now. He’ll be prepped in a little while.”
Arlington cries and laughs at the same time. “Lead the way,” he says excitedly.
Considering his earlier outburst, Shanice holds her tongue against saying that this doesn’t mean that Lucas will make it.
A few minutes after signing the paperwork giving men the permission to carve his son, Arlington is ushered into the room where Lucas is resting. The heart monitor’s steady rhythm, just as he imagined, is the only sign of life. But if he looks very closely, the soft rise and fall of Lucas’ chest beneath the gray hospital gown, becomes apparent, as the oxygen tube in his mouth helps him to breathe.
“They say I only have a minute,” he tells Lucas as he stands beside him. “So I need to make it a good one, just in case I don’t get to see you breathing again.”
He pauses to take another necessary deep breath.
“This is hard, son. Seeing you like this breaks my heart but I suspect you are more interested in hearing how your girl is doing than about my heartbreak over you. I want you to know that she’s fine, if you can hear me. She’s sleeping. Seth too, is fine. You’re the only one, son,” Arlington chokes. “You’re the only one who isn’t and I need you to be okay. I need you to be fine too.”
Arlington leans down to kiss Lucas’ forehead. “I love you, Luc. I hope you know that. I hope you don’t doubt it and if you do, then you have to come back so I can make you believe me,” he says sniffling and wiping at his eyes with the back of his hand.
After a while, post Lucas wheeled away to surgery, all the Bright siblings gather to wait.
Delah finally arrives for Alaine with Isabella, Mona and Bethany in tow. Out of consideration for the other grieving families around them, they keep their relief and excitement after learning about Alaine’s condition contained within their little group.
However, each one of them knows that Alaine will never recover if Lucas dies. So they join in keeping vigil with his family in the waiting room.
Many hours later, Dr. Muller returns seeming drained but not defeated. Eight pairs of eyes shift to mark her approach and everyone rises in anticipation of her news.
“We have him,” she announces with a smile and then a laugh of relief that is reciprocated, with sighs and murmurs and sobs. “He’s still in ICU,” she says to Arlington specifically as he pulls her into a fervent, long lasting hug. Everyone else, cheers and shares black slaps from the sidelines.
“Thank you, doctor,” Arlington breathes in her ear. “Thank you for my son’s life.”
“He’s strong,” she says. However, she keeps to herself that they’d almost lost him four times to cardiac arrest. He’d flat lined during all four and the last time, they’d all but given up when his pulse fluttered back to life on it’s own.
Later, after monitoring Lucas Bright, she will have to tell them that he may not be the same person when he wakes up. For now, she will give his family this victory. It’s a miracle that he’s still alive in the first place. “Guess he had something to fight for,” she says joining the jubilation. “You’ll be able to see him in awhile,” she explains. “But only one of you for the time being.”
After the celebrations quiet down, Arlington finds a private corner and weeps for all that he is worth.
Alaine groans softly before she can open her eyes. Her heavy lids flutter then shut and it takes a full minute before she can attempt lifting them again. Everything feels strange. Her body specifically feels so heavy but so light at the same time. There’s a dryness in her mouth that’s almost painful and a weird, upsetting taste coating her tongue. It feels like a slab of lead lying on her floor of her mouth.
As she wonders where she is, she tries to form the words to ask. Nothing comes out but a series of grunts in her parched throat. When she tries to lift her hand, she finds that it won’t obey the command from her brain to move.
Having no idea where she is or why she is in such a condition, she tries to call for help. The pounding in her head makes her whimper and each movement she tries to make is limited by the nausea rolling her stomach and the fact that she literally can’t move.
It feels like her brain is submerged in a sludge, like that time she’d gotten drunk in Italy. Only this one is ten times worse.
Those thoughts pass through her brain. Information about him -- something important skirts along the edges of her memory -- but the fogginess clouding her ability to think block it out.
As her eyes fall shut again, Alaine tries to ascertain the reason for her condition and where she is. The harder she concentrates the slower it seems that the last set of events that she can remember trickles in.
She remembers Lucas and her laughing about something. As to what that something was, she can’t be sure. She remembers how handsome he’d looked.
She remembers that they’d gone out to lunch but that he’d been called away.
She remembers him kissing her on the front steps of his building and her scolding him about it.
Why would she do that?
She remembers...she remembers a discussion about...Angus.
With that one name the closed gates to Alaine’s memories are pulled wide open for a barrage of images to flow in like a tidal wave.
Her heart starts a heavy pounding rhythm with each image and whatever that beeping is, far, faraway in the background, follows the accelerated staccato beat.
When the door to the unfamiliar room that she is in opens in a rush, Alaine tries to scream. It’s difficult to make out who dashes to her side, everything is a blur but she imagines it is only one person who can be there with her. The who had shot Seth. The man who had kidnapped her. The man who had killed Lucas.
She tries to swat the hands prodding at her away.
Her mouth finally forms one word.
“Help,” she croaks softly, thinking that If she can attract attention maybe she someone will rescue her.
All at once, her grief swamps her.
Why would she want to be rescued when she’d gotten Lucas killed?
Still she murmurs unintelligibly, “please, let me go. Let me go.”
“Shh...” a voice coos above her. “You’re alright.”
The sound of it, though garbled and low, is distinctly feminine and throws Alaine’s mind into confusion.
What happened to Angus? Then she remembers that he had an accomplice.
The voice continues to say things that she can’t make out and something cool touches her forehead. It’s weird that Angus’ accomplice would treat her so gently, especially considering he'd knocked her out cold with one punch.
“Where am I?” she manages to ask.
And if she’s not with Angus then maybe she’d dreamed it all and Lucas is okay too.
Though she's mostly incoherent, Alaine guesses that her questions must slurred and incomprehensible. Too weak to keep fighting, she gives up and simply lies there accepting whatever treatment her captors decide to inflict. Tears roll from her eyes, across her temples and into her hair.
The voice gives a few hushed responses that she can barely understand. She’s certain that whoever it is said Lucas’ name and he’s fine in the same sentence.
She knows that it’s not true. She'd held him while he'd gasped for breath, dying in her arms.
They’re trying to torment her. She won’t let them.
In this dream like, vegetative state, Alaine wills her mind to disappear into a world where there is only Lucas and her. They might be able to keep them apart physically, but inside her heart, Lucas still exists.
He’s still smiling down and her with all the love he feels in in his yes, in a place where there is no blood, nor tears. Only a memory of a love so perfect. She’ll stay there with him for as long as she can and hopefully, whatever they’ve given her to make her so helpless will not wear off anytime soon. For as long as she remains where she is, she can enjoy what it feels like to be in his arms for a little while longer.
With that thought in mind, she drifts back under.