Title: Coming Of Age – Part Six - Worries
Timeline: Two years post season 5
A/N: This is part six of my Coming Of Age – Hunter and Amanda’s Story.
Comments and feedback is appreciated.
Part One – Explanations
Part Two - Discussions
Part Three - Meetings
Part Four - Conversations
Part Five - Confessions
I looked up when I heard footsteps approaching to see Hunter almost running down the hallway. He slowed when a nurse walked passed then sped up again as soon as she was out of sight.
“What happened?” He asked, coming to a stop in front of me before dropping onto the chair next to me.
“When he woke up he was struggling to breathe and couldn’t stop coughing. I called his doctor, and they told me to get him here as fast as I could.” I replied, the shake in my voice even audible to me.
“Why aren’t you with him?” Hunter asked.
“Usual shit.” I replied, unable to keep the anger out of my voice. “I forgot to grab the power of attorney before I left and had to call Ma to go around and get it and bring it to me.”
“Assholes!” Hunter replied, slouching deeper into the chair.
I shrugged knowing there was nothing I could do about it but still angry that I was missing this time with him.
“What did the doctor say?” Hunter asked interrupting my thoughts.
“They think he may have pneumonia.” I heard my voice break slightly as I spoke.
“Shit!” Hunter replied. “It’s not fucking fair. He does everything right…”
”And maybe if I’d taken him to the doctor last night he wouldn’t be here.”
“That’s crap, and you know it.” Hunter snapped.
“What if he….” I couldn’t even say the word.
“That’s not going to happen!” Hunter replied adamantly.
I turned to look at him and noticed a glimmer of fear in his eyes, I immediately regretted my words and put my arm over his shoulder pulling him closer.
“You’re right.” I answered. “I just want the doctor to come out and tell me what’s happening.”
We sat, each lost in our own thoughts for what seemed like forever until the door opened, and the doctor walked out. I jumped to my feet, catching a glimpse of Ben before the door swung shut.
“Novotny-Bruckner.” I replied holding his gaze.
He nodded and looked at his notes before turning his attention back to me.
“Mr. Bruckner has bacterial pneumonia. We’ve put him on a intravenous drip of a betalactam antibiotic and dorycycline. We’ve also managed to get his temperature down significantly.”
“Can I see him now?” I asked, pulling the papers I needed from my coat pocket and passing them to him.
He cast his eyes over them before handing them back.
“He’s sleeping at the moment.” He replied. “I don’t expect to see any change before tomorrow morning. Are you planning on staying the night?”
“Of course I fuc…..”
I felt Hunter’s hand on my arm and took a deep breath before continuing.
“Yes. That’s not a problem is it?” I asked, my eyes meeting his,, almost daring him to say no, and I felt Hunter tense beside me.
“I’ll arrange for an orderly to bring you a blanket.” The doctor replied. “And I will be back in a few hours to check on him.”
I nodded my thanks and turned to Hunter beckoning him to follow me. I was about to push open the door when the doctor spoke.
“I’m sorry, but the rule is one visitor at a time.”
“This is Hunter, our son. Legally. Actually he is Ben’s next of kin, and doesn’t need a piece of paper to prove it.” I stated, trying hard to keep calm. “If you or the hospital have a problem with that do what you want. But I am going to see my husband.”
I pushed Hunter in front of me, and we walked into Ben’s room.
I walked over to the bed, bending down and kissing him on the forehead, letting my lips linger against his skin before sitting and reaching for his hand, careful not to disturb the tubes, and squeezing it tightly. I felt a slight response and let out a sigh. He knew I was here, that’s all that mattered at the moment.
I sat back, trying to relax as my fingers played absently with his wedding ring, willing him to open his eyes, even just for a moment, but he didn’t stir.
Hunter wandered around the small room before grabbing a chair and pulling it next to mine.
“He’s going to be alright.” Hunter said, but it was more like a statement to himself than a question.
I looked at him, struggling to put a smile on my face and just nodded. I hated hospitals. I hated the over-heated rooms, the lighting which gave a false impression of brightness and normalcy, the sounds of the machines that filled every spare inch of space in the rooms with grime covered windows and chairs which were not made to sit in, let alone sleep in. The thoughts that always filled my mind whenever I was here terrified me. No matter what Ben did this fucking disease had to have the last word, never letting us forget the tenuous hold that Ben had on life.
I rubbed my hand over my eyes, determined not to let my tears fall and jumped when I felt Hunter’s hand reach for mine.
“Dad, don’t. He’ll be okay.”
He didn’t call me Dad often, and it was almost my undoing but I took a deep breath and composed myself before speaking.
“I know.” I replied, trying to convince myself but knowing that until his eyes opened, and I heard his voice, I wouldn’t leave his room.
“Do you want a drink” Hunter’s voice startled me, and I looked at him, realizing he was itching to leave, not because he didn’t want to be with Ben, but because he was thinking that this could be what he had to look forward to in his future.
“Yeah, that would be good.” I replied, pulling some money from my pocket and handing it to him.
“I won’t be long.” He replied and quietly left the room.
The stuffiness of the room was starting to get to me so I removed my coat and settled back in the chair, entwining my fingers through Ben’s. This time there was no response, and I focused on the rise and fall of his chest, ignoring the beeps of the machines that surrounded him.
The door opened and I looked up, expecting to see Hunter, but a nurse walked in carrying a pillow and blanket and put them on the chair next to me.
“I need to take Mr Bruckner’s temperature and blood pressure.” She said and I nodded, reluctantly letting go of his hand but not moving.
I closed my eyes for a moment, having seen all this too many times before, only opening them when I heard her pen scratching notes on a clipboard.
“All done.” She smiled at me as I reached out tracing my fingers down Ben’s face.
I gave her a smile in return, and she moved silently from the room, and I settled once again back in my chair.
It took me a while to realize that Hunter was taking a long time and wondered where he had disappeared to when the door opened and he walked in, carrying two cans of soda.
“Sorry.” He said, passing me one. “I had to call Amanda. She wanted to know how Ben was.”
Fuck! I’d forgotten he was going to talk to her today.
“Did you talk to her?” I asked, taking a sip of the ice cold drink.
“Kinda.” He replied.
I waited patiently for him to tell me more.
“I told her I had it.” He said.
“She asked some questions, like how I got it.” He answered.
“You told her?”
“Yeah. She was shocked of course. Not that I had it, but what my mother made me do. Once she got over that she seemed to be okay with it. Well at the time she was, maybe when she thinks more about it, she may change her mind.”
“Somehow I don’t think so.” I replied and received a tentative smile from him.
“You think?” I could hear the hope in his voice.
“I’m sure she will think about it and probably have a lot more questions for you.” I responded. “And it’s up to you how much you tell her.”
“I’ve told her the worst part I guess, and if she can handle that, maybe she will be okay with the rest.”
“Somehow I think she will be.” I answered and this time the smile I received was much brighter. “When are you seeing her again?”
“I told her I’d call her in the morning.” He replied. “She has chores to do on a Saturday morning, but said she would meet me in the afternoon. I said it depended on how Ben was.”
“There’s no need for you to be here Hunter.” I answered. “The doctor said he’ll be sleeping a lot so I’ll call you in the morning and let you know how he is, then you can meet Amanda. But I want you to call Mel and tell her what’s happening because she’ll be wondering why I haven’t called JR tonight.”
“I can do that.” He said. “Anything else?”
“Call John and see if he can open the store in the morning. His number is by the phone, and you’d better call Ma as well.” I answered, trying to think of anything I’d forgotten.
“Once I’ve talked to the doctor and know how long Ben will be here, I’ll get you to grab me some clean clothes.”
“You sure you don’t want me to stay with you tonight?”
“No.” I replied, grateful that he’d asked, but I wanted to be alone with Ben. “You go home and make sure you eat something and do your homework.”
“You want me to clean the house and rake the yard as well?” He grinned at me, and I reached over and ruffled his hair.
“Don’t be a smart ass. Now go.”
“Try to sleep some okay.” He said, standing and looking at Ben before turning back to me. “Don’t want you getting sick as well. You’re the worst patient in the world…..”
”Hey, I’m not that bad.” I protested.
“Yeah right! I looked after you when you tried to get yourself blown up remember.” He grinned.
I had to admit he was right. The weeks I’d had to spend in bed recuperating had been the longest of my life, and I think I would have gone insane if Hunter hadn’t come home.
“Okay, you win.” I smiled at him. “Now go home, and I’ll call you in the morning.”
”Make sure you do!” He stated, leaning in and giving me a hug before grabbing his backpack, and I watched him walk out the door.
I turned my attention back to Ben. He hadn’t stirred since we’d arrive and to say I wasn’t worried would be a lie. I pulled my chair closer to his bed and carefully rested my head on his chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart, and this time I couldn’t hold back my tears and sent a silent prayer to anyone who maybe listening to bring him back to me.