Scene Title Limbo
Synopsis After losing a couple of days on the razor edge of life and death, Nick comes to, facing life once more.
Date August 18, 2010

Brooklyn Hospital Center

Murmurs. He can hear voices, but the words sound so far away. Faint as the pale hum of fluorescent lighting that he can sense beyond his closed lids. Dull as the pain that is kept at bay by morphine, fed through an IV line to a hand that's strapped to his bed, just in case the sedation wears off.

He'd tried to pull out the IV and tear at his bandages twice in the haze of the last two days. He'd tried to leave his bed, falling in heap of sheets and a clatter of medical supplies, waking half of the ICU.

He can feel the distant chill of a cloth wiping down his face, pale and beaded with sweat. Despite the antibiotics fed to him both at the river safehouse and then by the hospital, he has a fever, which doesn't bode well for the wound in his shoulder. Nearby a monitor beeps and blips his vitals. It seems he may be past the worst of it, his temperature now a manageable 101.3 and dropping, thanks to a more aggressive antibiotic that will likely wreak havoc on his body as much as it helps fight the infection blazing through the gunshot wound to his shoulder.

Bloodshot blue eyes open and he peers up at a nurse through. Hers isn't the last face he remembers seeing — but what he remembers is unclear at best, after being shot. He remembers meeting with Avi Epstein to discuss the matter of two men knowing his real name — a name not even Epstein had been privy to. A name that he thought he'd left behind in Liverpool four years before. A name that no one should know on this side of the Atlantic, least of all an Italian wanna-be priest and a middle-aged American terrorist. He remembers being on the docks and suddenly the cacophony of gunfire, his own weapon cold in his hand as he fired it.

And then he remembers the pain — the searing white-heat that stole his breath from him, a bullet ripping through bone and muscle and skin. He remembers the chill of the water and the strange feeling of blood pouring out of him. He remembers wanting to die, to put an end to all of the pain — the bullet the least of it.

He remembers fire, inexplicable fire. And then waking somewhere unfamiliar, voices arguing, about him. That name, his real name, tossed around like it were something to spit from one's mouth.

He remembers a blond woman and then… that face. Gray-green eyes he'd know anywhere. Dark hair. Pale skin. Inexplicable blue bird on her shoulder. It had to be a hallucination.

Or worse.

"Did I die?" he asks, thickly, his voice hoarse and rough from lack of use.

The nurse is not the blond woman he remembers from what must have been a dream, nor does she have the face of his little sister — his own personal demon. As much as he would have believed Eileen could only end up in Heaven, if there is such a place, he knows there is no place for him there.

For Nick Ruskin believes that when he dies, the worst torment that God or Satan or any other powerful deity or demon could devise for him would be to have to see the fear and hatred in his sister's eyes for all of eternity.

Before the nurse can answer, he shakes his head, closing his eyes and answering for her:

"O' course I didn't. That'd be too easy," he mutters.

If the nurse notices that the man whose ID says Nick York of Florida has a British accent, she doesn't say anything, but instead fusses about him, murmuring words of reassurance and offering to call his family.

"Don't got no family here," he responds.

He believes it.

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