Characters: Murphy, Harry, Anna
Word count: 1699
Summary: Somethings don't need to be said.
Author's notes: Written for the 'air' challenge at dresdenflashfic. It includes an OC from a story called Somnus that I wrote, but you don't need to have read that to understand this one. Thanks to my mum the nurse for helping me out with a bit of the medical stuff, even though I might have fudged a few things for the sake of storytelling. Harry/Murphy friendship and more if you want to read it that way.
It’s very quiet in the ICU. Aside from the beeping, of course, which I’ve gotten used to, and the sound of the ventilators pumping air into the lungs of the patients. That sound still makes me a little edgy. The nurses and doctors move around quietly and there’s no one visiting to make noise. Visitors aren’t allowed, but I’m here, thanks to the doctor who is currently looking at Harry’s chart. He pulled the strings for me and let me in to visit. I think it has more to do with owing Harry a favour than any soft spot he might have for me. Either way, I’m grateful that he’s snuck me in.
“I can’t really say anything for certain, Leftenant,” the doctor tells me, in his lively British accent. “I should think that if his stats continue to hold steady and he manages to get breathing on his own once we’ve removed the breathing tube, he should make a full recovery. However, if he doesn’t...”
“I understand,” I say. “Thank you.”
“It’s no trouble,” he says.
I think that’s probably a lie considering Harry isn’t his patient, this isn’t his department and if he hadn’t come across Anna and I in the hallway by chance, he wouldn’t even be here. I’m pretty sure he’s visiting on his break.
“I have to return to work now,” he says. “I’ll be by later on, to check up.”
“Thank you,” I say, again.
“No trouble,” he says, again.
We both smile a little and he walks over to say something to a nurse before he leaves. I look at my watch. It’s nearing midnight now. I’ve been by Harry’s bedside for a couple of hours.. I’ve been at the hospital since four o’clock this afternoon when they first brought Harry in. Internal bleeding and a collapsed lung. I still don’t know what happened and don’t try to guess. With Harry, it could be anything from a mugger to a fall to an attack from something weird that makes my brain hurt to contemplate.
Harry’s ventilator shushes in and out. He looks pale and...not old, really. Just weary. The way he smiles and his eyes twinkle and he jokes makes me forget sometimes what he’s been through. Even in the relatively short time I’ve known him he’s been kidnapped, drugged, beat up, stabbed, shot, and almost drowned. And who knows what happened to him before we started working together? I’m afraid that, one day, his body is just going to shut down from all the trauma; that he’s not going to bounce back with his grins and reassuring quips. I’m afraid it’s going to happen tonight.
I’ve been talking to him a little, in case he can hear me. I told him about the case I was working on and how it all come down to this old lady and her son and how she had tried to attack Kirmani with her umbrella. I told him that the trial of a case we had worked on together a couple of months ago had ended and the guy was behind bars. I don’t tell him anything that I want to tell him. How different and weird my life has been since we started working together. How much I like working with him, even if he drives me nuts. How much it means to me that I can trust him with everything that’s important to me. How totally terrifying his world is and how hard it is for me to believe in, but that I’m trying. I don’t say any of that. I just sit here and listen to the air being forced into his lungs and hope that I’m not missing my chance.
It’s 12:30 now and I should really take Anna home. I have her this weekend and it’s not gotten off to a great start. She knew something was wrong as soon as she saw me and when I told her what happened, she immediately insisted that we return to the hospital. She sat with me in the waiting room for four hours without complaint and each time I suggested we go home, she gave me an annoyed look and declared it impossible. She thinks as much of Harry as I do; maybe more since she has no qualms about adoring someone whole-heartedly. She doesn’t have to worry that he’s dangerous or possibly crazy. She’s a kid and he’s a wizard and that’s cool.
I reluctantly get up from my chair. It’s not a comfortable one and my back is killing me. I give Harry’s hand a squeeze.
“I’ll be back,” I promise. “In the morning. I have to take Anna home. Don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone.” Stupid like dying.
I thank the nurses for letting me in and they are very nice and don’t make a big deal about it. I’ll have to send in a tray of food or a basket or something for them when this is over. And for Dr. Forrester, too.
Anna is sleeping on the waiting room couch, one arm dangling off the side and her loud breathing bordering on snores. I gather up the homework she’s spread out on the coffee table and put back in her knapsack, along with the rest of the stuff she’s brought out to entertain herself. There’s a Get Well card for Harry that she made while I was in with him. It’s bright and colourful and written on in sparkly gel pens. I make sure it’s safe in her knapsack and gently wake her up.
“C’mon, baby, it’s time to go,” I say.
She stirs and sits up, rubbing her eyes. “S’Harry okay yet?”
“There’s no change,” I say. “But he’s not any worse.”
She blearily shrugs her coat on as I hold it for her. “Did you tell him I said ‘hi’?”
“He’ll be okay,” she mumbles as we head for the elevator.
Sometimes I wish I had her faith.
Anna and I return to the hospital late the next morning. We haven’t received any phone calls during the night. I take it as a good sign, or at least a sign that nothing has gone wrong. When I arrive at the ICU, they tell me he’s gone.
“Oh, that was a terrible way to put that!” The nurse exclaims at the sight of our stricken faces. “I mean he’s gone to the ECU, step-down. He’s awake. I’m sorry; I should have made that clear.”
Anna runs ahead of me down the halls and I use a lot of will power not to run, too. Dr. Forrester seems to have left orders with the nurses here since they let both Anna and I in without question. I grab Anna’s hood to stop her from running through the ward to him.
“Shhh,” I warn her.
“Sorry,” she mumbles, and assumes an innocent expression.
Harry is sleeping but he stirs and opens his eyes when we arrive. He’s got oxygen prongs in his nose. The breathing tube is gone. There’s still a lot of machines around him and attached to him. One has a screen that seems to be showing static but every once in awhile a burst of stats fights its way on.
Harry follows my gaze to it. “I call it Murphy. ‘Cause it’s stubborn.” His voice is hoarse from having the breathing tube removed, and quiet. His lips still quirk in a bit of his usual smile.
“Look who’s talking,” I reply. “You were dying not too long ago, you know.”
He makes a face. “Rumours.” He turns his attention to Anna, who is standing quietly beside me, clutching her Get Well card. “Hey, kiddo.”
“Hi Harry,” she says. She pulls up a chair to the side of the bed and kneels on it so she can reach over the bars. “I made you a card.” When it becomes obvious that Harry doesn’t have the energy to sit up to look at it, she holds it out for him and then opens it up so he can see the inside. “Are you feeling better?”
“They tell me I am,” he says. He smiles at the card. “Thanks, it looks great. I like the monkey.”
“His name is Alfredo,” Anna explains. “I draw him a lot. I gave him a wand ‘cause you’re a wizard. Do you want me to put it on your wall?”
“Yeah,” Harry agrees. “That’d be great.”
“I’ll go find something to stick it,” she says, and hops down from the chair.
I take a seat in it as she leaves for the desk at the front of the ward. Harry looks tired and for a moment I think he’s going to fall asleep right there, but he opens his eyes again and looks at me.
“What happened, Harry?” I ask.
“The usual,” he mumbles. His nose twitches around and he dislodges the oxygen prongs. I put them back and he makes a face. “It itches.”
“You need it to live,” I scold.
“You okay?” he asks.
“Why do you always ask me that when you’re in mortal peril?”
“Ha.” I give his hand a squeeze. “I’m not going to stay long, you need to rest. Can I bring you anything from home?”
“Housecoat,” he says. “They say I’m gonna be here for awhile and this hospital gown doesn’t match my eyes.” He pauses to catch his breath after stringing that many words together. “And maybe a book?”
“I can do that,” I agree.
“I got tape!” Anna announces.
We spend the next few minutes arranging the card for optimal viewing from Harry’s bed. He’s obviously exhausted by the time we’re done and I decide we should go. Anna hops back up on the chair and kisses his cheek. His cheeks pink up at that, more noticable since the rest of his face is white as a sheet.
“Behave,” I tell him, before I ago.
He smiles. “Hey, Murph?”
I turn back. “Yeah?”
“When you go to my apartment can you tell...it, that I’m okay?”
“You want me to tell your apartment you’re okay?” I say.
“If you don’t mind.”
I roll my eyes. “I can do that.”
I hesitate before leaving again, wondering whether I should say those things I didn’t say last night. At least tell him how much he means to me. He gives me a smile, though, and I realize he knows. It doesn’t need to be said.
“I’m glad you’re okay, Harry.”
“Thanks, Murph. See ya.”
There’s time to tell him all that other stuff later.