AUTHOR: Debbie Mraz
RATING: PG13 some NC-17
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me, I am borrowing them for a while and they will be returned virtually unharmed at the end of their journey…..
SUGESTED READING: "Long Road Home"
SUMMARY: John recovers from his injuries as he rekindles his relationship with Kerry...
John hobbled into the house and was greeted warmly by the staff. He was tired, and just wanted to lay down for a while, but he was unsure as to how he would get up the steps.
"Gamma, I don't think I can make it up the steps."
"Oh, I didn't expect you to dear, you'll be staying on this level, a room has been constructed off the kitchen. You have your own bathroom, and you'll be close to the staff in case you need anything. Helen will be here soon, and she will be right next door to you."
John made his way down the three steps that led to the living room, with great difficulty. No one tried to help him, all knew how stubborn he could be and he had that "look" on his face. They just watched to make sure he didn't fall on his back end.
John made his way back to his "room" and was amazed. His Gamma had had an entire series of rooms added on to the main level of the house, with a bathroom that was set up for a shower with a wide door and a bench to sit on, a walk in Jacuzzi tub, and a large bedroom complete with sitting area, TV, VCR and stereo system. She had even purchased some CD's he liked to listen to.
He was truly touched. "Gamma, you didn't have to go to all this trouble for me."
"It was no trouble at all, and you need to be comfortable."
Helen's room was right next to John's, also complete with it's own bathroom, and sitting room. Their room's had an adjoining door, so Helen could leave it open at night. John was grateful that Helen was willing to stay with him. She was so easy to talk to, and John felt perfectly comfortable around her, after all, she had seen him at his very worst, and still came back, which is more than he could say for many people in his life, his parents came to mind....
The doorbell rang, and Helen was escorted into the house. She stared, trying not to look too amazed at her surroundings. She knew the Carter's had money, but she never expected this.
She was also greeted warmly by the staff, and was escorted to her "room."
There stood John and Mrs. Carter embracing, she stood still, not wanting to interrupt the moment.
"John, do you know how much I love you?" His Gamma asked.
John slowly turned toward her, he had no choice but to turn slowly, he didn't want to fall either, he didn't quite have the hang of these crutches yet. He was amazed to see his grandmother with tears in her eyes. He had never, ever seen this woman cry. She stood with her shoulders back, head held high, in true Carter fashion.
"Now come here and give Gamma a hug."
John gladly obliged, his Gamma was not big on displays of affection, it was another one of those Carter family traits, a sign of weakness, his father always told him. Well, as far as he was concerned, in his father's eyes, he always wanted to remain "weak." There was nothing in the world better than a good heartfelt hug.
John gave her the biggest hug he could muster and kissed her cheek. "I know Gamma, I love you too, you've been so good to me. I really appreciate all you've done."
"John, I haven't done anything extraordinary, you're my grandson, I almost lost you. I will never again take you for granted. This awful episode has taught me a very important lesson John, and I intend to keep learning from it."
They broke apart, and John again, kissed her gently on the cheek.
Helen saw her opportunity to make her presence known, she did not want them to think she was eavesdropping.
"Good afternoon Mrs. Carter, John." She said.
"Well, Mrs. Nussbaum, come, come, let me show you your room."
Millicent Carter took Helen by the hand and led her down the short hallway toward her room. She was amazed and very touched by the elegance that the room had been decorated in. Mrs. Carter had even seen to it that Helen had a candy jar, complete with the hard candies that Helen loved. Millicent Carter had noticed that Helen always carried hard candies with her while John was in the hospital. Helen remembered their conversation about it, but was surprised that Mrs. Carter had remembered her "addiction" to the candies.
"Well, John, you ready for physical therapy today?" Helen asked.
"No, but I guess I'll have to be." John replied.
"Do you want to lie down for a bit dear before the physical therapist arrives?"
"Yes, I think I will Gamma, I don't know why I'm so tired. I feel like I ran a marathon and all I did was walk down a few steps."
Helen took over and led John to his room. She helped him get his socks and shoes off and again, showed him how to roll on his side to get into a lying position, so he didn't pull on any of his incisions.
She sat next to him in, and they talked. Helen could always get John to talk. She didn't see why everyone else had such a problem getting him to open up.
"Any dreams last night?" She asked.
"Of course, as always."
"Did you tell Dr. DeRaad?"
"Didn't feel like it, I was tired, and he wants to talk, talk, talk, about everything, gets on my nerves."
"John, he can't help you if you don't talk to him."
"I talk to you, you help and you don't try to analyze everything to death."
"I'm not a professional psychiatrist John, I'm a friend."
"I'd rather talk to a friend, if it's all the same."
"You can always talk to me."
John squirmed around a little on the bed, trying to get comfortable. He rolled on his back a bit, then tried to get on his side, unsuccessfully.
Helen got up to help him.
"I got it." He waved her off.
"You are a stubborn one, have you always been like this?" Helen asked amused at the sight of him struggling to get himself comfortable.
He sucked in his breath as a rather painful spasm hit his back.
Helen didn't ask if he wanted the help, she wouldn't anymore, he always said 'no.' She moved to the side of the bed and rubbed his lower back. She helped him move to his side and placed pillows behind his back and in between his legs. John felt like he was in a cradle. It was comfortable.
"You win." He muttered.
"I know." Helen replied.
He laid with his eyes open, now that he was comfortable he couldn't close his eyes to sleep. Helen was doing a crossword puzzle and would occasionally ask John about a 5-letter word for this or a 7-letter word for that.
"Oh great, now I have to go to the bathroom." John said.
"No problem, let's get you up, maybe then you can get some sleep."
Helen again moved him over toward the edge of the bed, gave him a moment to get his equilibrium, and they walked slowly to the bathroom. Helen had noticed that John rarely complained, he could get rather testy about things, but rarely complained outright of pain. She could tell by the way he was walking that he was in pain. He said not a word as they slowly made their way to the bathroom. His facial expression looked pained, as he tried not to let on that he was hurting. He was sweating from this little bit of exertion. Helen led him into the bathroom, he was leaning heavily on her.
"I'm going to get you a pain pill, don't get up by yourself, and I mean that mister!"
John gave her a half-smile, he knew better than to cross her. He didn't want her mad at him, she had been so good to him, besides, even with his wrestling experience, she could probably wrestle him to the ground in three seconds flat in the condition he was in, probably less!
Helen left to go get his medication, and John took care of business. He did stand up, slowly and carefully, to wash his hands and flush the toilet. That's when he noticed it. The toilet was full of bright red blood.
"Okay, you ready?" Helen called.
John quickly flushed the toilet and made sure there was no blood on him or anyplace else that could be seen. He felt reasonably sure that this was a one-time thing, after all the Foley had been out for less than a day. "Hang on a second," he replied hanging onto the sink. The pain and burning in his abdomen was intense, and it was all he could do to keep standing.
Helen noticed the tightness to his voice. "Are you okay?"
Helen was about to open the door, whether he wanted her to or not, when the door opened and a very pale John Carter appeared bent over before her.
"What's wrong?" She asked.
"Just a little belly ache, no big deal." He quietly replied to her questioning.
"What?" He said a little more testily then he had intended. Helen was surveying him again.
"Fine, let's get you back to bed."
Helen gave him his pain pill, and some crackers, which he ate disinterestedly given he had no choice in the matter. Helen had insisted, since he already had a belly ache that he had to have something in his stomach before he could have the pain pill.
His eyes finally, thankfully, closed and Helen took the opportunity to thoroughly check him over for signs of incisional drainage or any other sign of problems. John had certainly had his share of them.
He was vaguely aware of his shirt moving up, and being inspected. He didn't care, he was so tired, and his incisions were fine on the outside at least. He would not, could not, handle another trip to the hospital.
He slept soundly for two hours, and was awakened by the need to go to the bathroom, again, and by a terrific pain in his abdomen.
Helen heard him moaning in his sleep. She assumed he was having another dream, and when he awoke with a start, Helen was sitting right next to him.
"Bad one?" She asked.
"Yeah" He lied, he knew what she was thinking and didn't want her to assume otherwise.
"I need to use the restroom again."
They made their way to the bathroom, he was more hunched over then the first time, and Helen noticed he was holding his abdomen during their short walk.
"Stomach still bothering you?"
"No." He lied, "just a little cramp."
He was left in the bathroom, against Helen's better judgment. His color was not good, and Helen didn't want to leave him alone. He was insistent, and she didn't want to upset him. She agreed to standing just outside the door.
"Oh great," He thought, as he looked again at the toilet filled with bright red blood. He made a promise to himself that if it happened again, he would have to tell Helen, but God, he did not want to go back to County.
She heard the toilet flush and opened the door. John was standing holding onto the sink for dear life. She quickly came to his assistance. She didn't know if he would be able to make it back to bed of his own accord. She half-dragged, half-carried him back to bed. The color was completely drained from his face and their was perspiration soaking through his shirt.
She got him back to the bed, and as comfortable as possible. He easily fell back to sleep. He never noticed that Helen had left.
Helen went to her room, leaving the adjoining door open. She dialed the phone, "Dr. Benton please?" She asked. "Yes, this is Helen Nussbaum, I need to speak with him."