Wipe Your Eyes

Red X's crossed out boxes on the calendar on an eraser board on the wall. Charlie Harris counted them then looked at the hospital bed and his still form. He sighed. This out of body experience had been going on for seven weeks now. His fiancée sat in the chair opposite the hospital bed sleeping as she had spent so many nights before. A change in her breathing caught Charlie's attention. He angled from his position leaning on the wall to see her. Charlie drank her in: loose, long chocolate brown hair, kissable lips, and hands tucked under her chin holding the blanket around her. "I'd give anything to hold you, Alex," he professed. Since the accident and Charlie's resulting coma Alex had only left the hospital a handful of times. She spent the majority of her time working or sitting vigil by him. Charlie smiled at Alex's protesting frown. Her eyes flickered opened and she stretched. "Good morning," he greeted even though she couldn't hear or see him.

Alex set aside her blanket. She stood and went over to her comatose fiancé. Resting her hand on Charlie's chest Alex leaned in. She smoothed down his hair, "Hey, Baby." Alex went on to check Charlie's monitors and then his IVs. "I had a dream about you last night," she hung a new bag of fluids and connected it.

"You did?" Charlie grinned.

"About us," Alex added, "We were at home eating dinner- then you got out your guitar and sang to me."

"Sounds like a memory," he replied.

"I miss times like that," she continued. Alex took a breath. She spun to look at Charlie lying in the bed, "I have a confession..." Charlie followed as she walked over and sat next to his body.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"I had Dawn banned from your room," Alex admitted.

"Oh," Charlie shook it off, "Can't blame you there."

"She is your ex and after you wake up you can deal with her if you want, but for now I had to put my foot down," she explained. She took Charlie's hand and held it.

"I'm glad you did," he offered.

"Call me juvenile and territorial, but Dawn pushed too far…" Alex shook her head, "I am the woman that you love and we're going to get married."

"You're right," Charlie agreed.

"I can't stand to see her touching you," Alex confessed. She stroked the back of his hand. "Do you feel like I am taking the best possible care of you?" Alex asked.

"I couldn't ask for a better person in my corner," he answered.

She sighed, "These oneway conversations aren't cutting it."

"You can say that again," Charlie nodded.

"I really need to hear your voice," Alex said, "Could you wake up so we could talk? Please? For even like an hour or just five minutes then you could go back to sleep and heal."

"I will do my best," Charlie promised. Alex took a hair tie out of her pocket and pulled back her hair into a ponytail. As if on cue her pager went off.

"I gotta go," she got up. "I have rounds and a few surgeries- I'll be back as soon as I can get a break," Alex bent down and kissed his cheek before heading out.
Alex's best friend was waiting for her in the doorway of Charlie's room. "Don't worry," Melenda said, "We'll take great care of him."

"I know you will," Alex forced a smile.

Charlie decided to follow Alex on her rounds. "Hello, Mr. Levine," Alex flipped open her patient's chart. Charlie stood back and watched her work.

"Bryce," the twenty year old in the bed reminded her.

"Bryce," Alex relented, "Sleep well last night?"

"Like a baby," he replied.

"Good," she said, "On a scale of one to ten how is your pain this morning?"

"With the meds? About a two," Bryce answered.

"Were you able to keep you meals down?" Alex inquired.

"Yes, Ma'am," Bryce replied.

"Excellent. Any nausea at all?" she continued.

"No, nothing like that," he answered, "I am still a bit tired though."

"Which is totally normal- especially with the meds you're taking," Alex assured him, "Now I just need to take a look at your incision and I will let you get back to resting."

Bryce angled in to a better light, while Alex put on a pair of latex gloves. She unsnapped a flap on Bryce's hospital gown to reveal his incision.

Charlie leaned in and studied the stitches as Alex did the same. He turned his face to hers. "You do great work, Babe- no one closes as clean and tight as you do," Charlie beamed.

Alex felt the area surrounding the incision.

"Everything looks good," she informed her patient. Alex put the flap back down, "Any questions or concerns?"

"No, Ma'am," Bryce settled back down.

"Ok, then," Alex commenced to writing a note in Bryce's chart, "The nurses will be around with your meds- I will see you later."

"Thanks, Doc," Bryce replied.

There was a movement in the doorway. It drew Charlie's attention from Alex. A young man made his way into the room, looking over his shoulder. "This could be trouble," Charlie noted. The man brought a heavy air with him.

"Gilroy?" Bryce acknowledged the man, "What are you doing here?"

"I came to see you," Gilroy stated. He shoved his hand into his pocket. Bryce's eyes grew wide. He swallowed.

Alex put her hand on Bryce's shoulder, "Are you all right?"

Bryce's eyes lingered on Gilroy's threatening stare before answering his doctor, "Actually…"

Alex turned to Gilroy, "Mr…"

"Just Gilroy."

"Well, Gilroy," Alex replied, "Not to be rude, but if you could be so kind as to step out- I need a few minutes with my patient in private."

"It might be best if you step out, Doctor," Gilroy suggested.

"Excuse me?" Alex raised an eyebrow.

"Bryce and I have some unfinished business to discuss," Gilroy clarified.

"That sounds ominous," Charlie tensed. He eyed the guy. This was a man on a mission. Charlie wouldn't be surprised if security had been notified about him by now. "Alex?" he shivered.

"I am sure any business can wait while Bryce recovers," Alex asserted.

"This doesn't concern you- does it, Bryce?" Gilroy's tone became accusatory.

"He is my patient," Alex pointed out.

Gilroy reached behind his back and under his jacket. "Look out," Charlie called. In a flash Gilroy had his gun unbelted and aimed right at Alex. Desperate Charlie did the only thing he could and put his hand on Gilroy's arm to try to calm him like he could Alex. "You don't want to do this," Charlie coaxed.

"Put the gun away," Alex brought up her hands.

"Listen to her," Charlie insisted.

It was no use Gilroy pressed on, "It's time for you to leave, Lady."

"Put the gun down and we can both leave," Alex offered. Gilroy shook his head. Charlie's eyes darted from Gilroy to Alex. If he wasn't in a coma he would have tackled the guy or at the very least shielded Alex. But Charlie couldn't do either. "This isn't an answer to anything, Gilroy," Alex warned.

"Forget your lines," Gilroy chided, "Quit stalling and go now!"

"I can't leave my patient with you," she stood firm.

"Let me fix both of our problems," Gilroy pointed the gun at Bryce.

"Come on, man," Bryce pled from his hospital bed. Gilroy took no heed and fired. Charlie yelled out for Alex as she threw herself in front of Bryce and took the bullet. She ended up partially hanging over the rail of the hospital bed. Charlie felt everything stop. He couldn't even blink. Before Gilroy could get off another round Alex gathered all her strength and pushed herself up with one hand on the railing. She grabbed her side where she was bleeding from the wound with her other hand. "Right side…" Charlie noted, "Was it low enough to hit her kidney? What about her liver? What if the bullet ricocheted inside her?" His surgeon's mind race through the worst-case scenarios.
"You shouldn't have done that," Gilroy said.

Alex fought through her pain to form a coherent response, "You gave me no choice." Her eyes closed. Charlie watched the love of his life crumble to the floor. He couldn't even catch her. Charlie fell to his knees.

The security guards that had been looking for Gilroy followed the gun shot. They tackled him before he could get off another round. Once he had been removed from the room, doctors and nurses flooded in. Charlie started barking out orders even though they couldn't hear him. There had to be something he could do. This was his Alex. Zach Miller took the lead. "We've got a gunshot wound! Get a gurney in here! Call up to the OR," he commanded, "Have 2 liters of O positive ready." Zach knelt in front of Alex and unknowingly beside Charlie. "Alex?" Zach began examining her. "Alex…" he repeated her name several times. Each repetition went without response.

"She's strong, she's a fighter," Charlie said. There was a lot of Alex's blood in her scrubs and on the floor and it hadn't stopped yet.

Zach called for things to stanch it. "Faster people," he ordered, "She's bleeding out!"

"No, Alex!" Charlie called, "You can't die!"

Zach felt her pulse once more, "We're losing her!"

"Charlie?!" everything else faded away at Alex's voice. Charlie stood and turned to face Alex. An ear to ear smile greeted him. Trembling he reached out to her and she ran to him. Charlie wrapped Alex in a tight embrace. She let herself drown in the feeling of his strong, loving arms around her. Alex buried her face in Charlie's chest and melted into him. He rested his chin on top of her head. For one perfect moment they stood reunited.

Alex brought her hands up under her face and pushed away just enough to see Charlie's face. She looked over to the commotion.

"Is that me?" Alex inquired.

"Don't look," Charlie moved to shield her sight. The team got limp Alex onto a gurney and wheeled her out of the room.

"What is this place?" she asked.

"Some sort of limbo," he shrugged unwilling to break their contact.

"You've been here this entire time?" Alex noted he was still wearing his tux just the way he was in the taxi on the way to their wedding.

"Yeah," Charlie replied.

"I've felt you," she affirmed.

"The boy with the Carcinoid crisis you were treating," he began.

"Cal?" Alex finished.

"The picture he drew was of me," Charlie confirmed.

"I really wanted to believe that you were here," Alex said, "Even when Dawn sued to become your medical decision maker."

"She shouldn't have butted in," Charlie shook his head.

"It was so hard to see her turn off your machines after she won," her eyes filled with tears.

"You fought for me and you won the appeal," he reminded her, "Your faith gave me the strength to hold on."

"I almost lost you," Alex sobbed. Charlie drew her back to him and felt her tears falling on his shirt.

"I am so sorry," he kissed her forehead.

"You didn't do anything wrong," she looked up into his face.

"I am causing you pain," Charlie said, "I never want to hurt you- that is the last thing I would ever do."

"I know," Alex replied.

Charlie ran his thumbs across her cheeks wiping away the tears. "You have to go back," he urged.

"Go back?" she questioned.

"Your heart has stopped, you're not breathing," Charlie informed her.

"I'm dead?"

"There's still time," Charlie implored, "You are so strong- fight your way back."

"I just want to be with you," Alex said.

"You die, you disappear," Charlie said, "I won't go back to a world without you."

"Same here," Alex countered.

"I am trying as hard as I know how," he said, "I will wake up. I don't know when, but I will."

"Is that a promise?" she questioned.

He locked eyes with her, "Yes, we've got to get married and go to Isla Holbox."

"And Paris," Alex added.

"And Paris," Charlie vowed.

She took his face in her hands, "I will never let you go." Alex drew Charlie's lips to hers. They let the fire linger. Charlie titled his head to deepen the kiss. After many moments they parted resting their foreheads together.

"I love you, my Lionheart," Charlie declared.

"This is not goodbye," Alex sniffled.

"Not even close," he confirmed. Taking his hand Alex slowly walked away. She vanished before his eyes.

In the OR where they were operating on Alex the EKG bleeped. "We've got a pulse..."

It took a day or two, but Melenda somehow managed to swing placing Charlie & Alex in the same room. Charlie parked himself at the foot of Alex's bed. He kept vigil over her just like she had so many nights for him. She had been pretty restless since Melenda left. Alex took the control of her hospital bed and sat her bed up. She looked around to make sure Charlie & she were alone. "Charlie?" Alex asked and she wasn't looking at his body. Charlie placed his hand on her leg. It took a moment but he could swear Alex found where he was and looked straight at him. "I am holding you to your promise," she said.

"You remember," his baby blues twinkled. A smile so sweet and sexy it would melt any red blooded woman into pure goo slowly came across Charlie's face.

"It's a little foggy still, but if I told anyone I saw you like that they'd be sure I was losing it," Alex continued.

"But you're not," Charlie maintained.

"And I can't let it get out to Dawn. I wouldn't put it past her to argue that I am going insane and try to take you away from me again," Alex shook her head, "I won't give her any ammunition."

"It'll be our little secret," Charlie agreed.

"Maybe I am crazy," she buried her face in her hands.

"No, no, no," Charlie protested, "You're not crazy! I am here!"

"It's not that I don't believe in you- I do and I know you're here," Alex sniveled, "But maybe I just saw what I wanted to see."

"You know better than that," Charlie countered.

"Please wake up, Charlie," she pleaded. She lowered her hospital bed back down and turned over to her left side. Alex wept softly letting the tears fall onto her pillow.

He stood up and went to the other side of the room. Charlie rubbed the back of his neck. "She's crying for you!" he kicked his hospital bed. Charlie glared at his body through tear rimmed eyes, "Wake up you stupid bastard."