A/N: Hope you guys enjoy this update. This is done almost entirely with Pose Player. Now, I don’t plan on using it a ton because I do like letting the gameplay speak for itself. But since I’m experimenting, I used it a lot here after I had the idea to use this storyline. So I hope you guys enjoy it. If you notice anything I can do differently or like something more than another, please, let me know! Without further ado, here’s Chapter 23!
It’s amazing how time can change. It’s only been a few hours since we arrived at the hospital in Bridgeport. Yet it feels like days, months since we boarded the plane. Jeff and I wait out in the waiting room with walls that are supposed to be a soothing light blue with Luna while Mom is at his bedside. She hasn’t left since he came out of the last surgery. I can only look through the little windows since no one is supposed to be in the room. They made an exception for her.
“Baby, why don’t you go to the hotel, try to get some sleep?” Jeff murmured to me.
“I can’t. I just… can’t. I can’t leave.”
“Rora…” He sighed and just settled back onto the couch in the waiting room. He knew trying to argue with me was useless. At least, about this. I knew he was worried about me. An empath in a hospital was bad enough, but an empath in a hospital watching her father fight for his life was excruciating. But I couldn’t leave.
I can’t settle, no matter what I do. Even as my daughter plays with the little dollhouse in the corner, I get up and pace, then take a seat on the floor. Poor Jeff doesn’t know what to do. He tries to comfort and honestly, just his presence is calming, but still…
We’ve had no word from the doctors, not since they told us that dad would need to go for another surgery, except he wasn’t strong enough, not yet. They didn’t say that time was of the essence- they didn’t have to. Even if I couldn’t feel it from them, it was written over their faces. Oh Watcher… what are we going to do?
Jeff squatted down next to me, putting a hand on my shoulder. “I’m going to run to the vending machines, grab a coffee. Do you want anything?”
I just shook my head. The thought of something even as simple as coffee made me ill and that is saying something. Even as he went to leave, I could feel his gaze lingering over me.
Jeff headed out into the hallway, toward the vending machine, his hands in the pockets of his coat. He was a doctor himself. He knew by the snippets he’d been able to glean that it didn’t look good. Ah Watcher… He ran a hand agitatedly through his hair. It didn’t seem real. He dealt with this kinda thing, day in and day out, but it was a lot different when it was one of your own. Not Draco… Jeff hit the vending machine with the heel of his hand, letting out a curse. Despite the somewhat rocky start to their relationship, Jeff had gotten quite close to his father-in-law. Jeff was an orphan, spent most of his time in state run homes. When he’d moved in with Aurora and her parents, he’d finally had a family. And now…
His gaze sharpened as a figure in scrubs approached. “Dr. Blakely!” The surgeon who had spoken to them jerked and looked at Jeff, blinking. Jeff recognized exhaustion when he saw it. He gentled his voice. “Dr. Blakely, I’m Dr. Jeffrey Dean. I’m in my residency at Dr. Simano’s Sanatorium in Monte Vista. Look, that’s my father in law in there. What can you tell me?”
Dr. Blakely looked toward the end of the hall, into the waiting room, then he sighed. “Doctor… I shouldn’t be speaking with you, you know that. But I will, doctor to doctor, alright?” Jeff swallowed. “Mr. Wyvern– your father-in-law– was found at least three hours after he was shot. The fact that he survived long enough to even make it here is, in itself, a miracle. We’ve done all we can at this point. He’s too weak to go for another surgery, but without it… it’s only a matter of time.”
Jeff shut his eyes. His residency involved trauma situations, and he knew the dangers of a penetrating chest wound. “Is it a pericardial tamponade?”
The doctor nodded bleakly. “I’m afraid so. We tried to perform pericardiocentesis without putting him fully under for a thoracotomy. We’ve repaired what we could in the first two surgeries, but the bullet did a tremendous amount of damage. He’s not capable of breathing on his own, which is why he’s on a ventilator. I’m sorry- but I wish I could give you some kind of hope. I just… don’t see how.”
“T-thank you, for being honest with me and speaking with me. N-now I have to find a way to tell my wife… and my daughter. S-she’s only four.” Jeff scrubbed his hands over his face, feeling the bite of tears in his eyes.
Dr. Blakely put a hand on his shoulder in sympathy then walked off, holding a cup of coffee. His own coffee forgotten, Jeff stood there for a moment, feeling lost. Knowing he had to tell Aurora, he made himself go back in. His gaze saw his little girl, still playing quietly. She’d been an angel this whole time.
Then he brought his gaze reluctantly to meet his wife’s. She couldn’t read him like she could others, but she must have seen it in his eyes, the lack of hope. She let out one little whimper. The noise was all Luna needed. The toddler began to cry, begging for her Pop-pop.
They scooped her up together, holding her between them, trying to comfort her, but it was hard, so very hard when the grief was already beginning to swamp them.
As they held their child to them, a wail rose from the next room. Jeff took Luna as Aurora ran to the door. Sophia’s wail fell off, the shrill whine of the EKG machine droning on. “Daddy!” Aurora sobbed out, falling to her knees, holding her head in her hands.
Luna’s wail joined hers even as the child buried her head in the crook of her father’s neck. As Jeff reached down, wanting to comfort his wife, something happened. Aurora threw her head back, a golden glow of light surrounding her. Her red eyes glowed as well. Jeff could only stand there, slack-jawed as a wind sprang up around his wife. Slowly, she rose into the air, that glow intensifying.
Even as she began to glow, Draco did as well. Sophia raised her head in shock even as the EKG machine seemed to spark and then go utterly blank.
Jeff could only stare in shock and amazement even as the glow vanished from his wife and then she dropped to the ground, still. Voices shouted as doctors and nurses came running in. Luna cocked her head uncertainly. “P-pop-pop. Mama,” she murmured, her cheek against her father’s. But she was no longer crying.
Jeff ran his hand through his wife’s hair, his eyes closed. He, Dr. Blakely and several nurses had been checking on her the last several hours. She was just sleeping, exhausted from whatever had happened. Still, he couldn’t help but want to be near her right now, just to reassure himself that there were no ill effects from… whatever that was that she had done.
But the doors from the other room opened and Dr. Blakely stepped out. He turned and then saw Jeff and Aurora, a small smile forming on his face.
“He’s awake. You can go in and see him now.”
Jeff stood up, being careful to lay Aurora’s head down gently, and then shook the doctor’s hand. “Thank you, for everything.”
Dr. Blakely grinned. “This has been… enlightening. This is certainly a rotation I won’t soon forget.” Jeff gave him a half smile and then he walked through the door, into the room. The sight he saw had him stop for a moment.
“This-this is a sight for sore eyes,” Jeff murmured, his voice cracking just a bit.
Draco, looking a little paler than normal, grinned nonetheless. “What? This?” He shifted and grimaced. “Guess I scared you guys, didn’t I? I know Sophia couldn’t look at me without crying.” He looked guilty at that. “Why I told her to go and take Luna and get some sleep.”
Jeff stepped closer, just nodding, not sure if he could speak quite yet. He did try, clearing his throat. “Yeah, yeah you scared us a bit. Look-“
But his eyes widened in shock and he managed to shout, “What in the Netherworld do you think you’re doing!?” Draco had thrown his legs over the side of the bed and, arms shaking, had then stood up!
“What does it look like?” Draco asked sharply. “Can’t a guy get out of bed? Need to stretch-“ He let out a grunt as his legs buckled. Jeff was there in an instant, throwing one arm around his father-in-law’s waist and slinging Draco’s arm across his own shoulders.
“Of all the hard-headed, stubborn, headstrong stunts!” Jeff grumbled as he helped Draco lay back down.
“Easy, lad!” Draco protested. “You’re acting like I’m on my deathbed here. Just had a bit of problems with my balance, that’s all.”
“No, that isn’t all!” Jeff exploded. He had to take a shaky breath. “Do you remember what happened? At all?”
Draco frowned as tried to think back. He lost what little color he had had as his memories solidified. Then he looked at his son-in-law. “H-how am I still alive, Jeff?”
“Rora,” Jeff said simply.
“What happened?” Draco asked quietly, looking down.
“I-I don’t even know. All I know is, you should be dead, Draco. I’m not exaggerating. You were too weak to go through the surgery that would save your life. Y-you flatlined and then-“ He was about to explain more when Dr. Blakely came back in.
“What’s this now? The patient anxious to be out of here?”
“I…” Draco trailed off, looking out the window.
The doctor and Jeff slowly explained the rest of what happened and then Dr. Blakely told them both, “You’re still wounded. After… we’ll call it the miracle for now, since that’s what it amounted to, but after that, we were able to go in and repair what needed to be repaired. You’ll still be weak and your body will need time to heal. In a few more days, I think you’ll actually be well enough to travel back home. I think you’ll recover better in more familiar surroundings and I’m sure your family will appreciate being home as well.”
He gave Draco a gentle pat on the shoulder and then left. “Thank you again, Dr. Blakely,” Jeff murmured, shaking his hand.
Jeff and Aurora both trudged up the stairs of the hotel, neither really noticing the lovely décor.
As they reached the landing, Aurora let out a sob and buried her head in her hands. Jeff had been expecting it for a while and without a word, just pulled her to him and held her closely. “That’s it now, just let it out,” he murmured, rubbing his hand over her back in gentle circles.
After a good cry, she stepped back. “I-I thought we-we’d lost him, Jeff. I-I don’t even know… what happened.”
“I know, baby. I know. C’mon, we’re all exhausted. Your dad is gonna be fine. Let’s go get some sleep, ok?” They’d deal with the other thing later. Right now, he knew they needed sleep. Maybe a good night’s rest would make things clearer in the morning. He took her hand and led her into their room where Sophia had already taken Luna. Somehow, his mother-in-law had already dropped off to sleep. Then again, she was as exhausted as they all were and as emotionally wrung out as they were, maybe more so. Her granddaughter had brought her a little bit of comfort after the horrible grief and then the confusion.
Jeff and Aurora stood there together, watching their daughter as she looked back at them. “/Love you, Mama. Love you, Papa,/” she murmured sleepily, too tired to actually speak.
“We love you too, sweetheart,” Aurora whispered as she leaned back against Jeff.
She and Jeff changed and then both slid into bed. So exhausted were they that they were asleep almost before their heads hit the pillow. Knowing that the nightmare was over, the family slept peacefully.