A/N: This was originally meant to end as a one shot that tied back into canon for 5.10 but then I was duly informed (thanks lurkingwhump!) that Kurt should be in the hospital after being beaten so badly and I realized that was entirely true and also that this 'universe' would then end up with a different ending than either of the ones we were shown in the finale. As a real fan of the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics I loved the multiple endings (even though I know a lot of fans disliked the "choose your own ending" finale) so I thought it would be fun to play this AU scenario out to the its ending as well. Oh and of course this universe going to be full of pain and hospital stuff - so if that's not what you're into then you're probably going to be bored :D
When Weller stepped into SIOC and took charge of the situation, that's when it finally started to seem real. Even though he was barely able to gasp out the words and they had no actual authority to do anything, it still felt so satisfying to stand there and address the room. It was as if the world had suddenly turned right side up after they had spent much too long in the upside down.
Kurt looked around as they received a tip on Madeline's whereabouts, trying to focus his mind on the task at hand. Even though it seemed too good to be true, Patterson's declaration that the lead was solid made the decision easy and they started making their way to the SUVs.
Weller stepped towards the elevator, his arms wrapped around his abdomen. His chest was starting to feel impossibly heavy as the painkillers wore off and it was getting difficult to breathe. But his legs still moved okay as long as he concentrated hard on placing one foot in front of the other so that's what he did, all the way across the room.
The only problem was, he was also so fixated on moving his feet that he nearly walked straight into the closed elevator door, only stopping due to a little restraining tug on his waist.
Kurt looked up, nearly gasping for breath. Of course it was Jane's hand rubbing his side comfortingly, her arm warm against his aching lower back. Her eyes were studying him closely, concern pouring out of them.
"Hey, are you sure you feel up to this?" she asked. "We don't have to go, Zapata can take a team to the airfield and we can go get you checked out by medical."
"I'm okay," Weller grunted. "It's just my ribs, I can manage."
"But you don't have to. You just went through something brutal, it's okay to sit this one out."
There was sense to what she was saying but he didn't want to stop and think about it. If there was one thing Weller understood, it was how to keep pushing on towards a goal, no matter how much it took. And the thing was, she was exactly like that as well.
"Would you?" he asked.
Jane scowled at him, then shook her head fondly as she pointedly ignored his question.
"Fine," she said. "But once we get Madeline, I'm taking you to the doctor."
Kurt managed a wan grin and nodded.
"Deal," he said as the elevator arrived.
Jane kept her arm around his hip while they stepped into the elevator, which helped bolster both his spirit and his physical capacity. Even though his chest screamed with each inhale, he could keep the pain under control with shallow breaths. The rest of it just felt like the dull ache of extreme bruising, nothing he hadn't experienced before.
Or so he told himself.
He could sense Jane's eyes all over him as she helped hold him upright during the ride down to the parking garage. There was no doubt that he was swaying quite a bit, his thoughts drifting again. He was starting to wonder if he really needed to be there for the take down when he flashed to all the things that Madeline had done to them. He definitely wanted to see her go down in person, look her in the eyes when she realized she'd been caught.
With that thought, the elevator doors opened and the SUVs were just around the corner. Weller clenched his jaw and took a deep a breath as he dared, then let the air out slowly through his nose as he stepped forward with Jane's hand still firmly perched on his side.
He actually impressed himself with how solid his steps felt with her arm around him and stopped doubting his decision to go along on the mission. Sure, he hurt everywhere, especially with the drugs wearing off. But that hadn't ever kept him out of the field before. He needed to see this through to the end.
Kurt climbed into the SUV, frowning at Jane when she opened the door for him and helped him into the passenger seat, even though he had to admit it would have been a significant struggle to get in and settled on his own. She pulled his seat back further for him as he shuffled into the vehicle and tried, unsuccessfully, to find a comfortable position for his abused body.
Jane pulled out of the parking garage, following Tasha's SUV, and things felt relatively okay for a moment. Sitting down had allowed him to relax a bit, even if his back burned too much to lean against it at all and his belly had begun to throb.
Weller lay his head back and closed his eyes for a breath, felt Jane's hand curl into his as she drove. He could keep it going, manage the pain if he just kept concentrating on his breathing. Even if he wasn't going to be much use if Madeline tried to run for it, the need to be there and see her get arrested still burned in him.
With his eyes closed though, Kurt felt himself sinking into a deep dark hole. A shiver rose up his entire spine and carried with it a pervasive chill. The cold in his chest didn't seem to match up with the hot pain in his abdomen though, the mix of them making all of his muscles clench.
The world started fading away as the ache in his lungs increased with each breath and he could feel that he wasn't getting enough air in to keep things going. A strong sensation emanated from his hand but the rest of his body wouldn't let him identify it and he felt himself slipping further and further until Jane's voice finally caught him; reached out and pulled him back from the edge.
"Hey, are you okay? You look really pale."
Not okay, he thought weakly.
"Kurt, can you hear me? Open your eyes please. Talk to me."
She would ask the impossible of him, she always had. And as always, he did whatever he could to give her everything.
So he pulled himself together, gathered the last shreds of energy to lift his eyelids up a millimetre and look over at her. He even tried to open his mouth, tell her that he wasn't feeling good anymore but his lips barely moved and nothing came out.
He could see enough to think idly that Jane should be paying more attention to the road, not staring at him, her eyes wide with panic. But the agony coursing through his body made him reach for her anyways as she called his name repeatedly.
Jane's hand clasped his own and Weller held on as tightly as he could, trying to find refuge in her touch, the reassurance of her voice. He had never been in so much physical distress though, not even when he'd been shot. It was as if searing knives had suddenly been jabbed through his torso, sending red hot spears of pain shooting through him.
Jane was still talking to him with desperation in her voice, Kurt could make out his name on her lips as he blinked in distress and moaned pathetically. However, the rest of his body was no longer responding to signals from his foggy brain and he couldn't do anything to show her that he could hear her except clutch at her hand.
Panic flooded his body as Weller suddenly felt like he couldn't breathe, his chest seemingly weighted down on top of his lungs. He reached for Jane again, gripping her hand fiercely and searching for her comfort as the throbbing in his stomach spiked, making him retch.
Kurt started gagging in response to the jabbing in his abdomen, then followed that up with painfully sucking air into his wrecked rib cage. Once it started, the cycle wouldn't stop; it was just endless choking and the torture of coughing with a broken chest.
He could hear Jane freaking out, despite the world closing in on him. But, try as he might, Kurt couldn't get enough air into his body, kept gasping and groaning as he grabbed at his belly; barely even felt the SUV pulling to to a wild stop as an internal blaze raged in him, pushing him to the brink of consciousness.
Jane pulled out onto the street, forcing herself to keep her eyes on the road and not on her husband, suffering in the passenger seat.
Weller had held it together for awhile; long enough to assume his proper place in SIOC and take charge of the mission even though he was having a hard time just getting words out. For a brief moment Jane had felt better about letting him walk around after being beaten so severely but then he had started to sway dangerously on the way down to the SUVs and the knot in her gut had tightened as she held him upright with a hand on his hip.
She'd asked him then if he still felt up to the mission, knowing in her heart that she shouldn't be letting him decide. But he'd been stripped of his personal power for so long, Jane could see how important it was to him to make the choice for himself. So she hadn't wanted to step in and insist that he stay behind, see a doctor, despite what her gut had been telling her. And of course Kurt had insisted on going out to the airfield with the team, needed to see Madeline get arrested after everything she had done to them.
Jane understood it too well, the need to see the mission through. She had even basically admitted it to him when he asked what she would do in the same situation. Yet still her own chest had been seized with worry as she helped him into the vehicle. He had been through a lot of trauma very recently and it seemed like he was running on the last of his adrenaline, starting to crash.
As she drove, Jane kept watching Kurt out of the corner of her eye, curled her free hand into his. He had his eyes closed and she could tell that he was working hard at breathing, that every lungful hurt his damaged chest.
There was no longer any doubt in her mind that he shouldn't be there, that she should be driving him to the hospital and not to the airfield. He had started to shiver, almost imperceptibly, but she felt it through their connected hands. Then his breathing became raspy and she mentally mapped her way to the closest emergency room even as she squeezed his hand hard, tried to keep him with her.
"Hey, are you okay?" she asked, trying to sound calm and not pull Kurt into her panic. "You look really pale."
Weller didn't give any response though, not even when she grasped his hand so tight that it hurt.
"Kurt, can you hear me? Open your eyes please. Talk to me."
She was pleading now, had already pulled out of the line of SUVs heading towards the airfield and was speeding towards the closest hospital as she called to him, tried to keep him awake.
Jane was barely watching the road as she studied Kurt for any indication that he had heard her. At first she thought he was completely unresponsive but then he slowly opened his eyelids just a bit; enough so she could tell he was looking at her. He even moved his lips as if to say something but no words came out. Instead, Weller moaned in agony, gripping her hand as his body spasmed with pain and he choked on his breath.
She could see the distress flashing in his foggy blue irises and called his name as he blinked blankly at her, then started gagging as he tried to inhale. Spikes of panic shot up her spine as Jane kept her foot on the gas pedal, dodging vehicles as she turned on the sirens and raced towards the hospital.
Jane watched in despair as Kurt curled into himself, grabbing painfully at her hand as he made a terrible rasping sound. Then he began alternately heaving and gasping for air; sometimes adding in a desperate wracked cough for good measure.
Adrenaline coursed through her body as Jane debated just pulling over and calling for an ambulance. But she was flying through traffic and sure she could get him to medical care fastest. Which she really needed to do after screwing up so badly and letting him walk around while seriously injured.
She was trying to hold it together but Jane knew she was babbling at him, calling his name and telling him that they were almost at the hospital, that he was going to be okay. In response, Kurt just kept making horrible choking and gagging sounds, his breath wheezy and extremely laboured.
He was doubled over in pain and close to passing out from lack of air when Jane slid the SUV into an empty ambulance bay at St. Joseph's and launched out of her seat, hollering for help as she opened the passenger side door and wrapped her arms around her barely conscious husband.
He grunted what could have been her name, then his entire body convulsed and she knew what was going to happen from the tone of what followed. Just in time, Jane pulled Kurt towards her and out of the SUV as he started to vomit a slurry of blood and stomach acid.
The pain of throwing up pushed Kurt to the very edge of consciousness and suddenly he became a deadweight in Jane's arms, nearly tumbling onto his own puke. She managed to catch him though, leveraging her body to turn him away from the mess and then catching him against her chest as she fell under his heavier weight.
"Kurt!" she called as they landed hard, her tailbone crunching against the concrete. "Hold on, help's coming."
She could hear movement coming from the hospital but it all seemed to be going in slow motion. Weller kept gasping for air, then groaning as he clutched his upper abdomen and curled into her body. His skin was clammy too and he was shivering against her with his eyes cracked open but barely responsive.
Trapped underneath him for the moment, there was nothing she could do but hold him tight around his collarbone and watch him struggle for breath. The worst part was being able to see a section of his ribs moving out of sync with the rest of his chest wall, clearly the reason his lungs were having trouble getting air in.
She knew it hadn't been happening before, when she first assessed him in the torture chamber and decided he was fit to move. But then Jane started to question herself, wondering if she'd just been too frantic earlier to notice. Either way, it was obvious now that she should have called an ambulance for him immediately, definitely should not have let him move, much less walk around.
"Oh Kurt," she murmured. "I'm so sorry."
He blinked at her apology but otherwise there was no sign of awareness in his barely open eyes. Jane felt tears start dripping down her cheek as she moved her hand to float just above his chest, felt how rapid and shallow his breathing was.
"Hold on, Kurt," she repeated, planting her lips on top of his head as she moved her arms down his torso, covering his own arms which were wrapped tightly around his abdomen.
He was nearly unconscious, his body shutting down due to shock. She'd never seen him like this and watching him fight to breathe while bleeding out internally was a torture all in itself. Jane just kept kissing him in his hair, trying to ignore how cold he was getting even while wrapped in her arms.
She brought one hand back up to his neck to check his heart rate and could barely feel his pulse because his blood pressure was so low. Panic flooded her system as he started making a guttural moan while attempting to breathe because she knew it meant he was close to cardiac arrest.
Jane wrapped her one arm around him as tightly as she dared, tried her best not to think about having to do CPR on his already shattered chest wall, the possibility of him dying right there less than a hundred metres from the hospital entrance.
"Please Kurt, stay with me," she sobbed, no longer able to control her tears at all. "Please. I can't lose you."
There was no response except for another laboured breath and her own gasps of distress. He was slipping away right there in her arms and it felt like she was falling into an abyss, holding onto him to save both their lives.
Jane was so locked into her own despair that she didn't even hear the medical team until someone was trying to pull Kurt off of her but was unable to get her to loosen her grip on him.
"Ma'am, ma'am, we're here to help but you have to let go of him," a paramedic hollered in her ear. "We need to get him onto the stretcher and into the ER right now or we're going to lose him."
Her instinct was still to hold him as tightly as possible, not let anyone else touch him, possibly hurt him again. But another extremely muscular paramedic physically unwrapped her arms from around Kurt as the rest of the medical team lifted him gently and laid him on the awaiting stretcher, then quickly set to work getting an oxygen mask on him and cutting his shirt off.
When his torso was exposed, there was an audible gasp from everyone on scene. Every inch of his skin was either purple with bruising or bloody and welted. Still sitting on the ground next to him, Jane watched as the doctor palpated his abdomen, causing Kurt to wail and struggle despite his low level of awareness.
It was all she could do to tell herself that the professionals were doing what needed to be done, that she couldn't just push them aside and cradle his broken body to hers until he was healed. But the desire to do exactly that was coursing through her as Weller cried out again at the doctor's touch, trying to fight against the mask being placed on his face.
"He's being combative, we're going to have to sedate him," the doctor said, barely avoiding a stray elbow to the face as Kurt reacted again to the pain of the examination.
"No!" Jane argued, the word spilling out of her mouth instantly. "He's in shock, you can't risk sedating him. Just let me talk to him, he'll settle down."
"Ma'am, he's unresponsive right now, he probably doesn't even know that you're here. If you want us to treat him, we need to get him calm down now."
"Just give me one minute with him," Jane pleaded. "Even thirty seconds. I swear, it'll work."
The doctor rolled his eyes but gave her a terse okay as he told the paramedic to prep the sedative. Jane moved over and ran one hand through Kurt's hair, placed the other one on his jaw.
"Hey, it's me," she said. "I know you can hear me, Kurt. And I know it hurts but you need to lay still okay? Please."
As soon as she touched him, Weller's eyes flickered and he stopped writhing against the straps of the stretcher.
"That's it," Jane murmured. "Now I'm going to put the oxygen mask on you, okay? So you don't have to work so hard to get air in."
His eyes were still mostly closed but his head moved almost imperceptibly and she could see the nod he was trying to give her, even while his body was shutting down and he was barely able to breathe.
She put the mask over his nose and mouth then grasped his hand with hers, brought it to her lips quickly as the paramedics lifted the stretcher up. Weller remained calm this time as the doctor checked his vitals quickly before they began moving him towards the hospital.
Jane gripped his hand, biting down on her lip much too hard. Kurt had started to drift away again and this time she didn't try to make him stay awake for her because she could see he was losing the battle quickly.
He was so pale and unresponsive, the oxygen not having helped much yet. Her heart was in her throat, unable to deal with seeing him in that state, feeling how limp and cold his hand was.
He was going to be okay. He had to be okay.
"They're going to take good care of you, Kurt," she said as they started wheeling him away; forcing her to let go of his hand and watch them run him into the hospital.
Better than I did.