Soundtrack Song - Death Cab for Cutie, Meet Me on the Equinox
By the time the evening rolls around, I'm going stir-crazy. I've never liked hospitals, because so many bad things happen in them. I know babies are born in them, but somehow that doesn't completely negate that people die in them, too.
When I woke up this morning, I didn't think my day would end up like this. I try not to let myself think about what I could have or would have done differently. That's a dangerous path to tread. The human psyche is a fickle thing. People can drive themselves crazy by thinking about the "what ifs." The situation at hand is too complex to involve myself in this kind of debate. I'm just going to put my blinders on, focus on getting through until the morning, and then, well... we'll see.
I'm going to stand behind my decisions, be they right or wrong. I had to stay here. If it were Max in that bed and his head wrapped in bandages, I'd want someone looking after him; I'd want someone there having his best interests in mind until I could get there and take care of him myself. Maybe if Max could have placed himself in John's shoes, he'd understand. Or even if he were in my shoes and he got to see that this isn't easy for me.
Too bad that's a nonissue anymore. Max ended our relationship when he left. I hate this situation, but it's not like I could have done anything differently. That's what kills me. I couldn't have left with him. But I don't blame him, and I can't hate him for that. On the contrary, I still love him. He means too much to me for everything he's already helped me through. I wish I had him to lean on, but I don't. Maybe he was right all along; I am strong enough to get through this myself. I wish I didn't have to be though.
When John was rolled out of surgery and back into the ICU, Jordan and Kris left. Jordan made me promise to keep him updated on John's condition, and Kris made me promise to let him know if I needed anything. I assured them both that I would keep to my word. I of course would keep Jordan apprised of the situation. He was too distraught for me not to. But I'm not going to be asking anything of Kris. I'm going to start relying less on other people and more on myself.
The doctors continue their constant observation of John. They tell me that he's regained his gag reflex, and that's a very good sign. They try to emphasize that he's not out of the woods yet, that he still has a long road ahead of him to trek, but he's progressing and that's a baby step in the right direction; it's better than regressing or even remaining stagnant. They keep me up to date after every check, but his medical state never wavers.
That night, the nurses turn the Pens game on in the lounge, and I watch it. I guess to torture myself. It's a reminder of happier times. As much as I know I shouldn't, I think about how nice it would be if I had Max here with me. No, I take that back. I wish that I were with Max anywhere else than here. A tropical island sounds nice. Palm trees. Mai tais. Sex on the beach. I fall asleep with the game on in the background and dream about such a vacation.
It seems so real, the way the sun beats down on my face. The color of Max's eyes matches the ocean. I can feel the sand beneath my toes as he walks toward me and calls me baby. The way he says it sends a shiver down my spine. "Baby."
I smile as I admire the way the sun has tanned his smooth chest. I run my hands across his cross tattoo, up over that chest, and around his shoulders and feel the latent strength in his muscles. "Max." I call out his name, hoping to entice him into reciprocating and reaching out for me. He doesn't.
The beach fades away, and the hospital lounge comes back into the foreground. Max, however, is still there. Here. My breath catches in my throat. I can't believe it. I can't believe he's here. At first, I'm relieved and I beam at him, the blissful beach memories in my head like they were real. When he looks back at me with his mouth drawn in a thin line, the reality of the situation crashes into me like the waves of the beach.
He clears his throat and answers the question I didn't ask. "I'm not here to apologize."
"Then why are you here?"
"I brought you some of your things. Toothbrush. Contact stuff and your glasses. Hair thingy. Pillow."
I nod and feel tears sting my eyes. I just want to go back to that happy time. I feel like I'll never have that again. My voice sounds raw when I choke out, "Thanks."
"Don't cry," he says. It almost sounds like a plea and an order, all at once.
"Sorry." It doesn't sound convincing. I pinch the bridge of my nose and close my eyes, because I can't stop my tear production. "It's just been all-around a long and hard day."
Max throws the bag of my stuff on the couch beside me and shoves his hands inside his pockets. "You make it hard to stay mad at you when you cry."
"If you want to stay mad at me, then just go."
He shakes his head. "If I go, he wins. And that... that's the last thing I'm going to let happen."
"Let me get this straight. You're not here to help me through this. And you're obviously not here because you want to be. So you're doing this to spite John?"
"That's stupid," I mutter, shaking my head.
"Why?" he asks, seemingly mad that I don't understand his logic.
"You're not making either of us happy right now. And he's unconscious in the other room, so you're not even pissing him off. You're just making this whole thing worse."
"St-stop it! Don't tell me I'm making anything worse. Nothing can get worse than this. I'm not the bad guy here. I'm sick of everyone trying to place the blame on me! Like I'm the one at fault. I'm not. I am looking out for your best interests. God damn it, Charlotte, I love you."
"You have a funny way of showing it," I snort. "You leave when I need you most. If that's your brand of love, then I don't need it."
"Will you just fucking listen?"
I cross my arms over my chest while a nurse walks by. She gawks at us as we continue to bicker loudly. "Please, by all means, go ahead."
"I can't stand here and watch this. You're letting him control you, and he's not even conscious to do it. You're still caught up in his fucking games, and you don't even see it."
"He's in a coma, Max—"
"And you're still defending him."
"You don't get it. You want me to walk away, but I can't. Not until the morning. Nothing changes—"
One of the male nurses steps up beside Max. "You guys can't do this here. I'm going to have to ask you stop or leave."
"I can't leave," I say, rubbing my forehead.
"Then you'll have to stop arguing. You're making the other nurses worried, and bothering the other visitors," he tells us. I look around and don't see any other visitors. Not unless they're in the other rooms, because it's just us and the nurses and doctors on staff. And the janitor mopping the floor down the hall. "Wait, are you Max Talbot?"
I roll my eyes. I can't believe the audacity of this nurse, to interrupt our discussion—our obviously heated discussion—and then talk to Max like this. "Yeah," he says, obviously annoyed.
The nurse speaks quietly. "Room 413 is unoccupied. You can talk there, as long as you keep it quiet. Otherwise, I will have to notify security to escort you out," he warns us.
Max nods and thanks him, and then I promptly grab the sleeve of his shirt and pull him toward the empty room. I guess being a game seven hero has its perks. I only let go once we're in that dark room, and Max closes the door and flicks on the light as I stand by the window and rest against the ledge. "You need to stop," I tell him. "Either you're mad at me or you're not. You're either going to be here for me, or you're not. It's your call here. So make up your mind and stay or go, but don't put me through this."
"Stop trying to make it seem like this is all my fault, like I'm doing this to hurt you. Because I'm not. This isn't just about you. It kills me to think you're stuck in this hospital wasting your positive energy hoping that asshole wakes up."
"I never said I wanted him to wake up. I'm not here to support him. I have to be here for when something happens. You're acting like I'm doing this on purpose to get some kind of reaction or even some kind of action from you. I don't want anything from you, except you. Just you."
"So what? So I can just sit here and watch this? Watch as you turn into an emotional fucking wreck, and I'll be the one picking up the pieces again and trying to put you back together? No thank you."
"Oh boo-fucking-hoo, Max. Once again it's all about you. How this affects you. How you have to be the one who picks up the pieces. But in your little scenario, I'm the one who's going to be in pieces. You know what? No, I'm not. If I've learned anything from being around you, it's how to be strong, because you made me need to be strong. Because you couldn't help me when I needed it the most."
"And every time you've needed me, it's because of that man!" he yells quietly, pointing out the door in the general direction of John's room. "It's like banging my head against a fucking wall, hoping one day, he'll never be able to hurt you. But you won't let that happen, because you let him hurt you."
"Oh. Okay. This is all my fault. You're right; I deserve all the blame. If only I had been smarter and never met him. If only I had never fallen in love with an asshole. People do it all the time. Cupid misses all the time, and people have to learn to adapt all the time. I'm doing my best, believe it or not.
"But let me tell you something, you arrogant, pompous ass. If this situation were reversed, and you were in John's shoes right now and John was here arguing with me about leaving you alone in the hospital, you'd be feeling mighty different. You'd be glad someone was there for you, even if you screwed them over and hurt them. And if I were your girlfriend in that situation, trying desperately to get to my injured boyfriend, I know I'd be happy that someone was watching over you until I could get there."
"You want to play this game? Fine," he snaps, stepping dangerously close to me. I can feel the cold emanating from the glass pane behind me as I lean back to put the distance back between us. "What if I were the one in your shoes, huh? What if it were me, staying at the hospital and doting over my ex? You'd be happy about that?"
"Well, no I wouldn't be happy about it—"
"Admit it," he says, placing his hand on the ledge beside me and leaning closer to me. "You'd be pissed. You'd be even more mad than I am."
I grind my teeth together, so tempted to reach out and strangle him or slap him. Everything that Max and I do is intense and emotionally charged, and making it ten times worse is the anger that bubbles up within my core to think of him thinking of another girl—even someone that came before me—and to think that he'd waste any of his energy on her, no matter what the situation may be, when I'm the one who's his girlfriend. I'd personally rip out her breathing machine if that meant she'd just die so I could take my boyfriend home. Picturing Max, sitting anxiously in the waiting room, his mind with the girl wrapped in bandages with tubes down her throat instead of with me.... Jealousy is not a pretty emotion. "Fine. Yes. I'd be pissed."
His mouth curls in a smug little leer that makes me want to rip his lips off, just so he'll never be able to grin like that again. "Look at that. You can teach old dogs new tricks."
"So what? That doesn't fucking change the fact that I am the one in this situation. And it sucks, and you hate it and so do I. But that's just it, Max. I can't always give you happy and butterflies and sunshine and rainbows. If that's what you expected, then you chose the wrong fucking girl, and you'd better turn around, walk out that door, and never fucking look back."
"That would be the easy thing to do, Charlotte. But for some odd reason, which I sure as hell can't explain, I want to put up with all the pain and misery you're going to cause me if it means I get to be happy, at least some of the time, with you. You are so fucking insane that I think you're driving me crazy," he grinds out between his teeth, pulling back a little and softening his expression. "But at least we'll be in the loony bin together."
That may be the most wonderful thing I've ever heard in my life, even if it was incredibly, horribly backhanded. My anger starts to melt, even as I desperately try to cling to it. "What do you want me to say? That I'm sorry? Because I'm sticking by my decision, even though you hate it, and I won't apologize for that. But I'm sorry that this whole thing happened. I'm sorry that I didn't just turn my phone off so I never had to hear the news. I'm sorry that I had to drag you into this. I'm sorry that—"
Max's eyes flash before grabs me and pulls me toward him, his lips melding to mine and ending my speech. Initially I'm shocked, and I push against his chest to get him to stop. But he doesn't, so I channel my energy into kissing him back in a twisted attack of tongue and teeth, biting and sucking. He unbuttons my jeans, yanks them and my underwear down to my ankles, and pushes me back against the narrow ledge of the window. He shoves my thighs apart as far as they physically will go to the point where it's almost painful, considering that my ankles won't spread apart because of my pants. My feet aren't on the floor so I'm perched precariously on the edge in that position, unable to balance myself, and I'm sure I would have fallen or slipped if Max hadn't quickly unfastened his own pants just enough to release his dick and crash into my body.
My reaction is to scream in a mixture of wild pleasure, satisfaction, and confusion, but his mouth covers mine to quiet the loud groan I'm emitting. His fingers dig into my thighs as he pumps into me with reckless force. I'm lost in oblivion, to the point where I can't kiss back or move at all. I can't move any part of my body, for fear that I'll lose my balance. I curl my fingers around the window sill and try to keep myself from falling off as he moves in and out. Every time he pulls away, I feel even more like I'm going to slip off, and every time he drives back in, I get pushed farther toward the glass pane. He's the only reason I haven't yet hit the floor.
Since I've stopped kissing him, his mouth moves to my neck. I can feel his teeth biting and nipping over my voice box, making it difficult for me to release the primal chant repetitively spewing from my mouth, like I'm possessed and speaking in tongues. "Yes, Max. Uh, harder. Faster. Oh, yes. Max. Don't stop. Yes. Uh."
One of his hands lets go of my leg and moves between our meeting bodies, rubbing my clit in hard, fast circles. He's so close to finishing, and he wants to make sure that I am, too. "Come for me, baby," he whispers, demanding my physical response. "That's it. Come for me."
I can feel it starting in my core, building quickly, and almost instantly every one of my nerve endings explode and my body collapses into shudders. The scream that threatens to make the entire building shake only just barely escapes as a tiny moan by the time it reaches my lips.
Max groans as he finishes, thrown over the edge by my orgasm, and he leans against me, still inside me. With his weight pushing me against the cold window, I let go of the ledge and wrap my arms around his shoulders and neck. My fingers are painfully frozen in their clenched grip from holding onto the sill so hard. It's an uncomfortable position I find myself in, but I never want to move out of it. His face is buried against my neck and shoulder, and I feel his panting breath against my skin.
I don't know why I speak, because I don't want to ruin the moment. For some reason, though, I do. "You know this doesn't change anything, right? Nothing's fixed."
"I know," he replies, not moving his head from off my shoulder. "I know."
"I don't know what either of us can do to try and fix this. I don't know if it can be fixed, Max."
He pulls out of me and away, tucking himself back into his pants and then helping me as I pull my pants up from ankles and over my hips. "Let's worry about that in the morning, okay? Let's just get through tonight."
I nod, and Max stands besides me against the window. Our timing is impeccable. Now that we're dressed and out of our compromising position, a light knock comes from the door. The male nurse opens it and pokes his head. "Charlotte Bickley? We need to talk to you. About the patient."