nicole3_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Real
Synopsis Nothing feels…
Date July 9, 2020

Health Sciences Centre
Winnipeg, Manitoba

The scent of cigarettes still clings to Nicole Miller’s clothes, her hands, and her hair, when she makes her way back into the room she shares with her husband. She’s carrying a blanket fresh from the warmer in her arms, which she sets on the end of her bed without glancing up at her husband in his own as she passes by.

She got the window side. The sunshine feels good on her skin.

Peeling out of her sweatshirt, then the tee shirt beneath it, Nicole unfolds the blanket and wraps it around her bare shoulders. The layers may have provided warmth, but down to her tank top she’s able to more directly leech the warmth from the heated blanket. Only once she has that sorted does she lift her head and let her gaze track to where Zachery lays in his bed, emotionless.

“They finally sedate you?” she asks in a level voice.

The answer takes a little while.

"Be right as rain in an hour."

Zachery lies on his side, expression mostly vacant. His voice is raw, his bed empty save for the pillow he's got his face mashed into. Dressed, still, in a sweatshirt and pants that aren't his, unshaven and unmoving. He's facing Nicole's side, eyelid over empty socket closed but wrong without the support behind it, while his remaining eye stares blankly into the nothing.

"… I think I punched a nurse."

Nicole sighs, as though disappointed, but responds ultimately with, “God, I love you,” and a tired chuckle.

She makes her way to his bedside and sits down on the edge before reclining to rest her head next to his on the pillow, tucking her legs up. It’s a tight fight, but she also isn’t big as a house right now, so it’s a lot more doable than it would have been just a few days ago. The drape of her blanket cape is adjusted to rest over their bodies now. She wants his warmth, too.

She can have it. Zachery blinks partially back to life at the movement, shifting himself and the cast on his leg barely out of the way and waiting until the stillness comes back over them before he wills his drugged brain to move his arm across her, and his face against her shoulder.

"I love you, too."

Four words said more quietly than she's ever heard him speak them or anything else besides, his hand finding her arm and fingers trailing a sluggish path toward her wrist. The next whisper against her skin brings with it a confession. "You don't feel real."

"None of this feels real," Nicole agrees, but she knows what he's really trying to say. "I wish it weren't real. I wish I wasn't real. But…" She shrugs against his arm around her, turning her wrist to accommodate Zachery's feeling for her pulse.

For a moment, she's just silent. Nestled against him and resting a hand against his chest to feel his heartbeat. Whispering finally, "We're real." Unfortunately.

Once Zachery finds what he's looking for, thumb pressed lightly into skin, he permits himself to relax somewhat.

It's not how textbooks say to do it, but then he's never had to follow them too closely on this before.

When her hand finds his own heartbeat, she can instantly feel it's racing as if to try and flush the drugs out of his system with all the fight it can muster. None of this is reflected in his face or his voice when he breaks the silence and asks, "When we go home," he swallows dryly, catching a few extra beats while he considers the end of his sentence, "Do you have somewhere you could go? For an hour, maybe."

Dark brows furrow in concern. First for the pace of his heartbeat, then for his question. Her own pulse, in comparison, is calm. Perhaps improbably so, given all their givens. “I’m sure my sister will want to see me,” Nicole answers carefully. “But it depends why you want me gone.”

There’s no suspicion in her tone, just worry, and she shows it additionally with her arm coiling around his body a little tighter.

If not for the heartbeat and steady breathing, Zachery may as well be a corpse while he stalls for an answer. His eye slides closed with complete disregard for what may be beyond his reach.

Ideally, the sedative would have put him to sleep by now. Nicole's presence is helping, but she also presents the opportunity to discuss something that has been on his mind far too much for how little it's been discussed. Certainly without prying eyes in the room.

It's a subject that keeps his heart from slowing to a more reasonable pace, and one that provides the pull of gravity to his lowering voice when he answers, "I want to move some things." Into one specific room.

In a way, she hopes he does fall asleep instead of answering her. He needs the rest, desperately. They both do. Nicole hasn’t slept well since they had to sedate her after a tirade about how she was definitely pregnant and that the people in this hospital must have their heads up their asses.

She didn’t punch a nurse, but she did shove one. It was definitely his turn.

“You want to close off the nursery,” Nicole surmises.

"Mh." The noise that leaves Zachery's throat is confirmation nor rebuttal. Semantics lie in waiting, about how he wouldn't really be closing it off as such. How it would still be there.

But saying any of these things would be wasted energy. His grip on her wrist relents. He'll have to trust she's well for now. Or as well as she can be. "I thought it would be best."

At first, she thinks to protest. Wants to. To argue that if they put all the evidence of the children they were expecting in that one room and shut the door, then they’re treating it as though they don’t exist. That they never existed. That they never will exist. She wants to argue that it’s giving up.

But it isn’t. It will still be there. At any time, either she or him can wander down the hall, push open the door, and look at what should be. It doesn’t have to be seen as walling it up to be forgotten, but rather enshrined to be remembered.

“I could help you do it.” He shouldn’t have to do it alone.

Exhaustion weighs heavily on Zachery's next words, his response slowed and disconnected. "That would be better."

His energy leaves him further. The prospect of doing whatever it is that needs to be done together might be enough of a comfort for him to start to let reality slip for a while. His heart beats slightly easier with it no longer being as heavily burdened.

But that's not to say there's no burden left. This is evident enough in the fact that before Nicole loses him to the void of unconsciousness completely, he still manages to mutter, "Sorry."

Before he slips away entirely, Nicole presses a hard kiss to his mouth. Desperate for some connection with him. Some kind of spark.

Those are in short supply for her at the moment, after all.

Then, she plants a softer one in the same place. He needs to realize he has nothing to be sorry to her for. They’ll get through this together.

Rolling over then, careful not to dislodge his arm from around her, she backs up against him like they’d gotten used to sleeping together at home. She’ll stare out the window until she falls asleep herself, or until he wakes up again. She’s not picky for either.

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