2007-09-06: God Still Listens


Jack_icon.gif Trina_icon.gif

Summary: Proof that God is still listening, and that He still looks out for fools and Irishmen. The time for sleeping is done; Trina wakes up.

Date It Happened: September 6, 2007

God Still Listens

Private Room — Beth Israel Hospital

For weeks it's been like this.

The beeps and hisses of machines as they monitor and regulate what goes on beneath Trina's skin in the wake of infections and corrective cuts of the knife. Where her leaving this room only means more things wrong. Where her staying is the preferable course. The worst of the bandaging has been done away with, leaving just cool, pale skin set in its black halo of hair and nearly silent breathing. Fortunately, she's been stable for two weeks, and finally freed of the medicine that shoved her deeper into the coma. It has made it very, very quiet and fairly uneventful here.

Beneath what feels like feet of murky water, light and time passes without meaning. There is mild discomfort. A feeling of being unable to breathe, only to find that it, too, passes. Only one thing remains constant above that dreaded symphony of sleeping death — a voice, familiar and warm and garbled beyond all understanding and nearly lost among many other distinctly unfamiliar ones.

It's a sound to which one might drown. At least, it could be.

Today, however, is not like other days. Today something is different. Today, the voices make sense.

The Derex family was never religious by nature, and Jack even less so. Irreverent, carefree, and childish, he never before saw a need to look to a power greater than himself for guidance. He never mocked religion, as a child or as a man, nor did he embrace it. It was simply a part of other people's world and not a part of his. Until now, anyway.

Over the last several weeks he has spent more and more time in the company of Father Brady, first as a friend, then as a confidant, and finally, recently, as a spiritual guide. Progress has been… slow. As always, the concept of an invisible father figure that will make you pay for screwing up, but mostly after you die seems a far-fetched one. Still, when you've run out of faith in yourself, you have to look somewhere.

"I know we haven't always been on the best of terms. You've got your people and I've got my people, no messin' in each other's turf an' all that." Jack pauses to clear his throat and squeeze Trina's hand. He's come fresh from the small shower in the bathroom. His hair sticks up damply into an inch-long bristle, still short from being shaved so his head wound could be tended after the fight with Carter. He's much thinner, most visibly in the face, where his brow, chin, and cheekbones have become sharply prominent. His voice is quieter, slower, each word carefully chosen. Some of his boyish brashness has been diminished, but it's still visible in his grey eyes, which are lifted to the ceiling and fixed at some point far beyond. He clears his throat again and continues. "Fuckit, though. We all know you're Irish. C'mon. Help a brother out. Just gimme a sign that she's gonna be okay and I'll leave off hasslin' you for a bit."

God is still on His throne, and He still answers prayer. Particularly for his fellow Irishmen, t'would seem.

There's that voice again, deep and true, even into the depths where Trina has lived and even in its lack of gentility. It's like a lighthouse on a rocky, pointed shore, guiding ships away from the dangerous crags that loom. It sounds like home.

Something deep inside the woman twists as there's a sudden revelation: her body is listening again. And complaining. Loudly. Her body feels like its on fire from lack of use and hospital intervention, but the only thing that processes is a causeless 'ow'. Pitted against the harsh bright of the florescent hospital lighting, ice blue eyes burn and are left concealed behind thinly slit eyelids as they scream for sanctuary there. What sight this allows is just enough to betray the shadow's location. Everything is harsh and scalding pain… except for the hand that holds hers, soft and gentle and reassuring.

Trina wants to clamp down on it. To sit up. To talk. After what might be twenty minutes after Jack's heartfelt call to the Maker, she manages a small press, and even that feels strange with its lack of strength and fluid-bloated tissue. Her face scrunches up at that, only to find that… yeah, that feels wrong somehow, too. Okay. Confused now. Which is when her breathing starts to speed up. Panic. Panic. Panic.


By itself, the squeeze would've given Jack enough hope to see him through the whole day. He's spent plenty of time talking to doctors about comas, he knows about involuntary responses, but when he looks down and sees her face, her respiration, his eyes go wide and he sucks in a sharp breath. There's a part of him that knows he should be pushing the big button that calls the nurse, or doing something, but all he can do is ask a question he's asked many times before, but gotten no response. "Baby? Baby, can you hear me?" His voice is trembling, eager, but still instinctively reduced to a hospital stage-whisper.

Dear God, she knows that voice. He apparently has mercy enough for the non-Irish as well, and he spared Trina a drop by leaving Jack here with her. Alas, things upstairs don't feel like they're where she left them and, as such, it takes her a few long moments to think. It isn't easy to make sense of what is said and then, in turn, reply. It's frustrating and disorienting, and that is clearly demonstrated on the thin furrow of her brow and the downward flicker of the corners of her lips. She blinks a few times, trying to get a better view of the angel at her bedside. When she finally manages words, the syllables are mashed together in a choked but deliberately spoken tangle of Southern speech. "…wh'r th'ell 'm I?"

"Oh God. Thank you, God. Thank you. You might turn out to be my shit after all." The words are spoken absently but honestly as Jack stoops to wrap his arms around Trina very, very gently. He doesn't try to shove them underneath her, just half-clings somewhat awkwardly, but it's more than good enough. "You're okay. You're gonna be okay. Holy shit, you're gonna be okay." An uncommonly clean-shaven cheek is pressed fondly against hers. "You're in the hospital. Don't worry. Everything's gonna be okay now. Shit… Shit. Where's the thingy?" He pantomimes a remote control-like motion several times as he searches for the call button. When he finds it he slaps down on it urgently.

Confusion is not getting any better here. In fact, Trina can only squint in his direction, dumbfounded, as he prattles on about something and looks for something else. Why does everything hurt? It doesn't matter. He's got her up in his arms kinda and the world's a little less terrifying. He's shaved, she notes a few moments after the fact and he's already pulled away. That's sweet! When'd he get time to shave? …Wait.

Hospital. He said hospital. "Nononono…" she mumbles, breathing again speeding up. Not good. Hospital bad. Surely the dashing and debonair Mister Derex is just mistaken.

As her eyes slowly begin to adjust to the white hot light, they slowly begin to really see shapes. Let's start with those hands so misshapen that she can barely recognize them as her own, especially considering that they end in nails now. Then up the arm her gaze goes to Source of Pain No. 1. The IV placed just under the bend of her elbow when the vein in her hand gave out three weeks ago. A new brand of terror only continues to mount in the fuzzy World of Mah. Oh, that has got to go. Her free hand very slowly drags across her body and towards the IV so that she can clumsily claw at it. Jack's busy doing something else, anyway, right?

Jack immediately drops the calling unit and intercepts Trina's hand before she can fully dislodge the IV. "No, honey. You can't," he insists gently. He takes both her hands in his and resumes his gentle squeezing, his long, strong fingers caressing her skin tenderly. "You—you got hurt. There was an accident. You were ridin' with me in Julia, and. And. You got hurt." Guiltily, he looks away. Had he not asked her to ride shotgun, she never would've ended up here. Instead it would be him, and right now that doesn't sound too bad.

Jack looks back into Trina's eyes. "You gotta stay put until you get better, okay?"

Trina protests in whines as her hands are soon wrapped up in his larger ones, but he soon has her attention again. She forces herself to focus. Blue eyes stare at Jack with a rabid intensity for a moment as she listens intently and then tries to convince herself that it's not as bad as it sounds. Hurt. Julia? The memory's gone. Not even a glimmer of remembrance. As he looks away, the dark haired woman on the bed is still forcing slow breaths and staring. Think. Think. Then speak. "I-is Julia okay?" Important things first.

A stricken, mortified look creeps across Jack's face. He can't put from his mind the feeling that this is somehow his fault, and all Trina can worry about is his car. His guilty frown deepens and a lie comes easily to his lips. "She'll be fine. Anything broken can be mended. How about you, honey? How…" He coughs and turns his head away to hide his face. It starts with a single tear, then two, then four. He doesn't sob, he just quietly weeps away his odd, painful mixture of guilt and relief as he clings to Trina's hands.

Well, obviously he's okay, other than the crying. And she's alive and is breathing. The only one left to check on was the car. The car is part of their equation, too, after all. "Shhhh," Trina quietly whispers, doing her best to be soothing. It's hard, considering that she's already tired again and more scared than she'd ever want to admit to anyone. But he needs her awake. Her gut wrenches against itself for a moment and her eyelashes flutter when vision blurs for a moment, but then they right themselves again. Even better than that, she can play the lying game, too, but hers is carried in a small smile. "M'okay." Doesn't matter that she's not. She'll just say it 'til it's true.


Jack's lapse doesn't last long. He takes a few shuddering, steadying breaths to master himself and reaches up to wipe at his face. There's no comment, he just quietly ignores it and pretends it never happened. "Yeah. Yeah, you're okay. You're awake now. Baby, I missed you so much." He reaches up to cup his hand against her cheek lightly. His spread fingers are warm, and twine through her hair in a familiar, affectionate gesture.

And there it is, the moment where the world again feels closer to right. As his fingers run though her hair, it's as though he were untangling this whole clouded, muddy mess she's awoken to. He's there and the world's better. He smells like… hospital soap, but that's okay. The point is that he's warm and there and comforting and there's nothing in the world that she would have wished to wake up to more. Even as her eyes fight to stay open in what is now processing as fatigue and head tilting heavily to the side in order to feel that hand against her face better, Jack says something that manages to stay slumber's attempt to reclaim its seven week fortress. Her brow furrows again. "I… I dununnerstand. H'long I been here?"

"S'been a long time." Now that his moment of weakness has passed, Jack's voice grows steady again. Gotta be strong. Gotta be strong for Trina, because it's obvious she's trying to be strong for him. "S'been almost two months, baby. S'okay, though, cuz you're awake now an' that means you're gonna get well."

This may or may not actually be true, but if Jack has any say in things then it damn well better be. He leans over Trina to press kisses against her brow, then very, very softly to her lips.

"Oh." The word is quiet, barely audible above the machines. Two… months. Trina tries to suck in the whirlwind of emotion that is all stirred up at the prospect. Hundreds of questions that she is far too even tired to even fully think out. How can she spend so much time asleep and already be so tired? It's a lot, but not unbearable, for there is a man who loves her enough to be sitting at her bedside for reasons she can't begin to fathom. A man who loves her enough to kiss her dry, cracked lips with their thin coat of vasoline. If that's not love, what is? Anything else can wait.

Anything except, perhaps the night nurse who FINALLY has taken it upon herself to check what's going on. There's a sharp knuckle-rap on the door, followed by a curt "Somethin' the matter, Mister Derex?" as Betty — the short, two-hundred-and-ten pound obviously-fake redhead in her hospital scrubs and beat-up tan Naturalizers comes waddling through the door with her nose buried in the romance novel she's been trying to finish for the past week and her mouth mostly open as she shoves a Boston cream donut inside her gaping maw. The bachelor has long since ceased to been an object of amusement for her; it was quickly apparent that she wasn't gonna get any play. This makes her cranky… but none would be able to differentiate that from the manner in which she treats anybody BUT the pretty boys. Some nurses are good. Betty would not be one of those nurses. Rather, she is the proud bane of those awake and subjected to her. It hasn't even dawned on her that Trina has joined those unfortunate ranks.

Jack perks up and spins his head around to fix his eyes on the nurse. Though their interaction has been both a source of amusement and frustration for him, right now there's little room for nonsense in his tone. All the same, he keeps his voiced pitched at the stage whisper that's considered socially acceptable in a sick room. "She's awake. Doctor. Now. Skedaddle." That's all the time Jack has to spare for Betty. Now he's paying attention to Trina again, as it should be. He strokes the backs of his fingers lovingly down both sides of her face and leans his forehead against hers. "I'm so proud of you, baby. I knew you'd pull through."

"Now, see here, Mister Derex, I'm the medical professional around here. First off, that means I say when it's time to call the doctor. Second, that means you're only here after visiting hours because I say it's okay. Lastly, the doctors don't like being called in for non-emergencies at two in the mornin'." Puffy brown eyes peer in the direction of the hospital bed, and then the crumb-covered corner of her mouth flicks downward. Well, hrm. This presents a problem.

She'd want to call the doctor, but that would make Jack Right. Obviously, this cannot be allowed to occur. Her arms cross in agitation. On the other hand… the doctor would want to know. He could write her up for not doing so. …This… also cannot be allowed to occur. She sighs.

Making her way towards the bed — shoving the rest of the donut into her mouth as she goes — she then veers off in order to start looking at the monitors. Some readings are right on mark, some not so much. The doctor is gonna wanna get a report on this. Her foot begins to tap. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. Power play vs. fear of authority. This should not be this hard a choice. It shouldn't. It is.

As the nurse enters, Trina turns her head to squint in the other woman's direction. …Holy crap. That's a truly terrifying thing to wake up to. Thank you, God. Thank you for not letting her see Betty first. Thank you even more for this amazing man who takes her face in his hands and blocks out the HORROR. Trina's eyes close, and there's cooling relief in the darkness provided by Jack's shadow. It takes the edge off of the headache starting to nag at the front of her brain. She just breathes in deeply, breathing him in. Lets him obscure their surroundings. Lets him woo her back into a place where she can not think about all of this for a little longer. Her breath deepens and draws closer to that of sleep. "'Course I 'ould; I l'ou."

"Love you, too, baby. One sec, okay?" Jack smiles reassuringly down at Trina, then reluctantly disengages himself from her so he can properly address the nurse. In this case, 'properly address' means 'grab her by the elbow and hiss in her ear without bothering to disguise his impatience or lack of tolerance.' "You," he begins icily, biting off each word and fixing his eyes intently on her. "Are going to get the doctor. Now. Or I'm going to pick up that phone—" he pauses to point to the bedside ringer. "-call the front desk, and tell them you tried to hurt Trina. They might believe it, they might not, but I bet they will send a goddamn doctor. Your way or my way. You pick, but my baby's gonna see a doctor. Now."

Betty stares at Jack as he approaches, seemingly hypnotized as though by a cobra. She doesn't even move as he comes up, but the tight grip on her chubby elbow does get her attention. She's grown bitter in her middle age, and she's got a little more backbone than is probably wise. "You wouldn't dare," she hisses back with brown eyes in angry little slits.

"You're welcome to test that assumption at your convenience," Jack responds coldly. He squeezes down on Betty's elbow just hard enough to drive his point home, then releases her and digs out his very best glare, which is usually reserved for men who cheat at cards or beat him in a fight. "Go. Get your fat cabbage tits out of that book and skedaddle, or I'll have you looking for a new job." That said, he turns his back on her abruptly and retakes his seat next to Trina. "Don't worry baby," he murmurs to her. "The doctor will be here soon. Promise."

Betty again stands there for a moment, momentarily at a loss for words. There is only one thing to do at a time like this. Brown eyes burn in the heat of in a furious, frustrated glare, and her romance novel is gripped now into a tiny, angry roll. Alas, poor Fabio, we knew you well. And then she finally storms off, slamming the door behind her with a horrific disregard to hospital bedside manner.

That leaves Trina and Jack in the blissful silence. …After the slam, anyway. "'kay." Now, however, the woman's energy is nearly spent. Her head is just left to fall a bit to the side, bleary eyes batting hard to stay open. "Jes' wake me up when he gets here? I jes' need…" She blinks her blue eyes hard again, fingers stretching as her hand is moving to find Jack's. It's somewhere to find, right? Hold on to hand. Keep from getting lost in the deep waters again. There's a faint look of bewilderment as she fades back in. "…what's I sayin'?"

"Shhhh. Shhh, baby. Everything is going to be fine. Don't you worry about it." Nervous, adrenaline pumping not only from seeing his lover wake up but also from threatening a nurse, Jack takes Trina's hand in both of his and presses her fingers to his lips. He uncertain as to whether he should be urging her to stay awake or soothing her back to sleep. He's no doctor; he doesn't know what's best. In the end he just holds her, clinging to the first moments he has her back. Every detail is committed to memory, every wrinkle and frown on her thin face, every sigh, every mumble.

There'll be time to talk more later. Besides, as far as Trina is concerned, there is no choice but to accept the promise of 'later'. It's nap time now, and she is powerless to resist. Eyes finally slip closed and, once the darkened world stops spinning, her features become smooth and serene once more. It'll just be a minute. Or ten. Or… twenty. Or 120 or so. However long it ends up taking the doc to get in.

The important thing is that Trina has absolutely no intention of letting go of Jack's hand — clinging weakly to it — for there's nothing in the world that makes more sense or holds more value. He's her champion today, her hero. He's taking care of her, so she needn't worry. She's safe. He is, by far, the most beautiful thing the world ever saw fit to throw in her path.

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