Everything Will Change, Nothing Stays The Same Who: Nish and Chris. What: Chris drops by to visit Nish in the hospital. Where: LA County Hospital. When: Tuesday, March 14, 2017, afternoon.
Nish lay on her side in her hospital bed, half asleep, letting the beeps of the various monitors lull her into a semi-conscious state as she mulled over what to do now. Rafe had gone home to get some sleep, and she was sticking around until Lucas was satisfied with her test results and the psych consult finally came to visit her.
Her dream still nagged at her, though Loki had been quiet for now. The thought now occurring to her, she opened her eyes slightly.
’Loki?’ she asked. There was a pause, long enough that she thought maybe he wasn’t there.
’I’m here,’ he finally answered. ’Are you ready to try again?’ he asked. She paused, chewing on her lip, toying with the IV tube in her arm.
’I think so.’
A knocking on her hospital room door distracted her. Chris stood there, a small bouquet of flowers hanging from his right hand as the knuckles of his left were held up to the doorway, the source of the sound.
"Am I interrupting?"
She looked up, her face remaining impassive, while the pit of her stomach went cold. Her eyes flitted to the flowers, then to his face, and then away, looking down at the floor, tears stinging her eyes. A thousand thoughts came to her mind, warring with each other, trying to reconcile their fight with the fact that he’d quite literally saved her life. Something she was still on the fence about being a good thing or not.
Chris lingered by the door, equally uncertain of what to say. He finally lifted the flowers -- a combination of daisies and other oddly colored wildflowers -- as if in offering.
"This is what people do, right? Bring flowers? It's been a while since I've been in a hospital." He took a few steps into the room, coming to a stop behind a visitor's chair angled next to the bed. Chewing one corner of his lip, he glanced around, eventually coming back to Nish.
"If you want me to leave, you just have to nod."
She wanted him to leave. But something in her stopped the movement, and she was sure that something had a name now. Instead she glanced at the chair and then away again, shifting slightly on her side so she was angled a little more towards him. “They told me I have you to thank,” she said quietly, her voice still hoarse from the tube that had kept her breathing. “I’m still undecided.”
"Jess called me. Told me she hadn't heard from you, and wanted me to go check," he replied. "So if there's anyone you wanna thank, it's her. Or are you mad about the drugs?" There was the whole argument about the journal entries, too, but Chris wasn't going to add that into the conversation unless Nish wanted it. "I didn't make you buy anything, Nish. If I'd known what it'd do to you, I wouldn't have taken you at all. I wouldn't have asked."
“Taking them was my choice,” she said in a low voice, looking away from him. “My private thoughts being...stolen, edited, and published to the whole building...wasn’t.” It bothered her that her diary had been stolen. It bothered her that someone else had not only read it, but shared it. But what really got to her was that her words had been altered. Forged. That she was being blamed for lies.
“Believing that I would do something like that...that was your choice.”
Chris's brows rose, focusing on one word in her attempt to put more blame on him.
"Edited? Are you telling me you didn't write about my private business?" He gritted his teeth, trying to roll his thoughts back. "Look, I freaked out. I get that you weren't responsible, but I don't know this guy you're blaming. All I saw was my name, your handwriting, all over the lobby. You really think that wasn't going to piss people off?"
She clenched her own jaw, biting back a response that would be a lie. No, the entries about Chris were true. They were all her. The others though…
“Yes, Chris, people. I wrote about people in my life, which is what people do in a private diary. And since you have access to my apartment, do you want to check my cell phone? Read all of the texts and phone calls and voicemails and emails from other people who are just as pissed off as you are? Did you think you were the only one? Do you think I tried to kill myself just because of you?” She was angry now, colour rising to her cheeks and her eyes flashing. She was done feeling sorry for herself. She hadn’t done anything wrong.
His brows rose, his form already moving back a pace toward the door he was now sincerely regretting entering.
"No, frankly, I don't. I'm not that self-absorbed to think I'd be the one thing to push someone over the edge into...this." He gestured vaguely at the bed. "I came by to see how my friend was doing, because I cared, not because I wanted to see my apparent handiwork. But I guess I should've given you a few more days." He paused, looking at her as though something more might come of this event, then he shrugged.
She looked away, her cheeks burning with anger. “I thought you said we weren’t friends,” she muttered darkly, not looking at him.
He caught the words, even if she wasn't intending him on hearing them. "I was angry, OK? I say stupid shit when I'm mad. If you don't believe me, there's another guy in the building who'd probably love to compare notes with you. You seriously want us to end like this?"
She sighed, the anger bleeding out of her. “And I write stupid shit when I’m sure no one can read it,” she said. Not an admission of guilt, but maybe a partial apology. She didn’t think it was wrong to write in her diary, but she at least shouldn’t have used his name.
Chris's head bobbed, and he closed his eyes before he pinched the bridge of his nose. He opened his eyes again and let his gaze track over the hospital bed. "Yeah. We all do stupid shit we don't mean to. And honestly, I'd like to move on and just pretend none of it ever happened, if that's cool with you." His churlish look covered a hopeful gaze that wanted her to accept the olive branch he was attempting to offer.
She let out the breath she didn’t realise she was holding, and nodded. “That sounds good to me,” she said, sounding tired, the fight gone out of her. She sighed, letting the last bit of tension leave her, and then met his eyes. “I’m sorry.” It was everything - sorry that he’d been hurt by this, sorry that she’d been stupid enough to think that her things were private, sorry that he’d had to see her like this, to be there when it happened.
"Me too." Chris glanced down at the flowers, feeling stupid for having brought them. "Are you a dead plant kind of person? I thought this was the thing you're supposed to do, when someone's recovering." he held them up, and finally offered them out to Nish's prone form on the bed.
That earned him a smile, and she shifted, sitting up in bed, careful not to tangle the IV with the heart monitor. “They’re beautiful,” she said appreciatively.
"Also, would it be cool if I sit? Because my leg is killing me." She let out a half chuckle and nodded to the chair, watching him sit and shifting so she was angled a little more towards him.
“You should have been here earlier,” she commented, suddenly wanting nothing more than to smile, feeling as if a horrible weight had just been lifted off her shoulders. “You missed my cute doctor.” She smiled softly at him, hoping she wasn’t going too far too soon.
He’d never actually said anything to her about his preferences, ever, but he didn’t have to. Thankfully that was one bit of information she hadn’t written about, mainly because for her it was a non-issue. So he’s gay, big deal. She would probably be classified as bi, though leaning more towards guys these days.
Chris's eyes went wide, and he nodded as he settled into the chair. "Good to know they're keeping up with medical care and eye candy. Though, you know, it's hard to imagine that you'd be looking anywhere else other than Rafe." His palms slid over the ends of the armrests. "Not that I'm gonna say anything in that department. Dating is..." He blew out a regretful, tired breath. "Not something I need to be dealing with right now."
She shrugged carelessly, “it’s kinda hard not to check him out when he’s the one checking me out,” she joked. “Breathe in, breathe out,” she said, miming the stethoscope on her chest, trying her best to get a chuckle out of him. Her smile mellowed a little and she caught his eyes. “You deserve to be happy, you know,” she said, “even if it’s just looking.” She let the subject die there though, she knew he was just as private a person as she was. That’s why the diary bothered both of them so much.
And then just like that her smile faded, like a cloud had passed over the sun, as thoughts of what life would be like for her outside this room crowded back into her brain, robbing her of her smile. “What am I going to do?” she murmured quietly, mostly to herself, looking down at her hands in her lap.
Chris didn't comment further on the idea of relationships, relieved when Nish dropped the subject entirely. His gaze followed hers, unsure of what to say. He was having enough trouble getting his own life together; how was he supposed to offer someone else advice?
"Take a break, for a little bit? I mean, after all of this, you deserve it. Just maybe less partying this time, more pajamas and movies at home. And food. Lots of food." His own stomach grumbled at the thought, one hand going to pat it into submission.
A shadow of her previous smile tugged at her lips with his suggestions. “Are you volunteering?” she asked. “I’m...kind of low on friends right now.” It wasn’t self-pity this time, it was the truth. Who could she call to just sit with her and watch movies, besides Rafe. And they were more complicated than ever right now.
Chris looked to Nish's face. "You don't have to figure everything out. At least, not right now." She met his eyes and then nodded.
“Rafe wants me to see a counselor,” she said, shrugging as if the idea didn’t sit right with her. “And my doctor said I’m waiting on a psych consult before they discharge me so they can figure out what to do with me.” She looked down at the monitor stuck to her chest, just below her hospital gown and frowned. “He also said I may have damaged my heart. That’s more tests.” She didn’t know how much coke she’d taken yesterday, but then at the time she didn’t care. What she didn’t say, and what she didn’t want Rafe to know, is the doctor told her she’d had a mild heart attack.
“Ice cream and disney movies sound really good right now,” she said finally, sitting back a little.
Chris's head was bobbing, though he was still too at a loss for what to say. "Doctor's orders. It's on them to patch you up. And, you know, talking to someone might not be a bad idea." The lord above in Heaven knew he could probably use a listening ear, except half the things he had to say would have him in jail within the next five seconds. Keeping it bottled up within wasn't helping anyone, and Nish was a prime example of that.
"I mean...you wanna get..." He didn't want to use the words better or right as though there was something wrong with her in the first place. "You wanna get well, right? Be able to walk out of this place and flip it the bird like you're never gonna come back?” Nish laughed at that, despite herself. “Guess you'll have to jump through some hoops to make that happen. What kind of ice cream do you like?" The last bit was a random tangent, but there was a reason for said words. "I can make sure Rafe has a pint waiting for you at home. Incentivize the process."
She smiled, and this time it reached her eyes. “Chocolate-chip mint,” she said, grinning and toying with the hospital bracelet on her wrist. “Thank you for making me smile,” she added, though it was a thank you for much more than that.
She looked up when the door opened behind Chris and Lucas walked in. He smiled at both of them and consulted the chart at the end of her bed. Nish surreptitiously caught Chris’ eye and widened hers suggestively. ’See?’ she mouthed while Lucas’s face was buried in the chart, ’Hot!’
Lucas looked up and smiled again at both of them, turning his attention to Chris. “Hi, I don’t think we’ve met, I’m Dr. Peters,” he said, shaking Chris’ hand.
Chris took the doctor's hand, returning the grip as he cast a slightly glowering glance in Nish's direction. He couldn't respond to her commentary without alerting said "hot" doctor, but he looked back to the person in question with a mischievous smile.
"Hello, Dr. Peters," Chris replied, removing his hand from the man's handshake once it was done. "Thanks for looking so well after our girl here. I didn't realize hot beef injections were still a thing in hospitals, but it's clear they still work wonders."
Nish's eyes went wide at the obvious double entendre, biting at her lip in an attempt to suppress a giggle. Lucas winked at her and then looked at Chris with an air of clinical interest. “Good source of protein, I hear. And also excellent for morale. Just last week I saw an eighty-year-old woman jump out of her bed and dance Gangnam Style after she got hers.” He went back to looking over Nish’s chart with a little smirk.
He glanced up at her when he saw something in her chart he didn't like. “Do you mind if I talk in front of him?” he asked Nish, and she shook her head. “I'm still concerned about your heart rate. Have you been having chest pains?”
She took a deep breath, as if assessing herself, and shook her head, shrugged. “I don't know, maybe...it's more like...skipping a beat once in a while.”
Lucas nodded and wrote in the file. “Okay. I'm going to schedule you for a stress test later today and I want to monitor you overnight.” Her face fell. She'd been hoping to go home tonight.
Chris glanced between the doctor and his patient, noting Nish's crestfallen look. "Rafe and I can deal with Bear," he offered, even before he'd completely thought the offer through. His palms rubbed the armrests uncertainly. "And either of us could swing by with a book, or whatever you want. Make your stay a little homey-er."
She looked over at Chris and smiled softly. “Thanks.” Lucas finished writing in her chart and then nodded at the two of them when he put it back. “Careful what you bring in...someone brought in Fifty Shades once and that caused a stress test. Something a little more tame, please,” he directed that last comment at Chris.
“I'm rereading Game of Thrones,” Nish said.
He considered it for a moment, then nodded with a shrug. “Passable.”
Chris nodded, noting how quickly he was becoming an errand boy and swallowed down his pride. "OK, done. Anything else?" He looked at Lucas, then to Nish, unsure of where this conversation was going.
Lucas shook his head, “not from me; I'll see you in a few hours,” he said to Nish and then left.
Nish looked back at Chris and sighed. “I miss my cat. Overnight?” she complained, but then settled her eyes on his. “Thanks for doing this. It means a lot to me that Bear is taken care of.” They'd been through a lot together, ever since she picked him up from the shelter. They'd even traveled across the country together.
One hand looped up, a miniature version of a shrug. "If I had a pet, I'd be worried too. But we've got it." Since he was on the closer floor, he had a good idea that he'd be the one on it, but so long as the elevator didn't break down, he found he didn't honestly mind. It actually felt a little good to get out of his apartment for a reason other than his father. "And I'll bring you the books. I think I might run out and grab something," he continued, his stomach growling again; he leaned forward in his chair, looking to rise. "Are you allowed real people food, or are you stuck with jello and kibble?"
Her eyes widened at the idea. “Oh my god, real food…” she purred. “The doctor didn’t say anything about diet restrictions, and I’m about ready to kill for anything that doesn’t taste like cardboard,” she said, eyeing him gratefully.
"All right then," he said with a grin as he carefully rose to his feet. "One burrito coming right up. I'll be back." There was no small amount of spring in his step toward the idea of not only a successful encounter, but his brief release from the white-walled prison called a hospital. Chris had a specific taco truck in mind, real Mexican food instead of the shit peddled by Taco Bell and Chipotle. He could feel his phone buzz in his pocket, other obligations weighing down on him for his time and his person, but for the moment he pushed them away, focused on the task at hand.