Monica learns her husband's death is in the news again, Christa stands up to Ray.
"Monica where did you get the paper?" Gerard asked quietly, she hadn't heard him walk in.
She looked up at him and tried to smile, "While you were up checking on Ray I used the cane you gave me and took a walk. This was laying in the waiting room." She held out the paper for him to take from her hands. "It's not like I didn't expect this."
"Fuck, I didn't want you to see this shit" He looked down at the paper. "I'd never seen a picture of him before I saw this last night. Shit, it filled me with so much fucking anger." He wadded up the paper and tossed it in the trashcan.
"It's weird, the photo they used was taken just after Kara was born. He was still the man I fell in love with then, before the abuse started." She looked down at her hands, "I loved him so much when the photo was taken," she whispered.
He sat on the side of the bed and pulled her into his arms, "I'm so sorry" was all he could say as she softly cried. "I'm so sorry."
Mikey and Alicia walked in, "Sorry we'll come back" Alicia said when she saw Monica crying.
"No, please don't go" Monica said pulling away from Gerard. She grabbed a tissue and wiped her eyes. "I saw last night's paper" she wanted them to understand what was going on.
"Fucking piece of shit" Alicia said.
Monica smiled "Alicia, that's what I love about you. No beating around the bush you just say what's on your mind."
Mikey put his arm around his wife, "Yep, you never have to guess what she thinks, she'll tell you straight out."
"Well, it's true. Quoting an unidentified source saying the police looked into your husband's death. Can't they just let that shit go? Jenn is fucking crazy, end of story."
Gerard leaned over and kissed Monica, "Mom called and wanted me to tell you she made sure the girls got off to school on time. She said neither of them wanted to go but believe me mom always knew how to get Mikey and me to school on time. I'm sure she didn't have to threaten the girls near as much."
"Shit, remember the time we thought we would be so cool and pretend to go to school then skip?" Mikey said to Gerard.
"Man, I never did figure out how she knew what we were planning." Gerard laughed, "She must have read our minds."
"What happened?" Monica asked.
"We got up and got ready for school just like any other morning. I was a senior and Mikey was a freshman." He explained, "Anyway, we were heading out the door and mom asked us where we were going."
"Gerard choked", Mikey laughed, "I mean all he had to go was say we were going to school but no, bro here starts to tell some fucking huge lie about how we are going to school after we help the old lady down the street take out her heavy trash cans. He tells mom that she had called last night and asked if we could help her."
"What was wrong with that story?" Monica asked. "That sounded like a nice thing to do."
Gerard laughed, "For sure it did. I thought I was so fucking cool making up that bullshit story. Mom looked at us and told us we needed to start saving our money."
"Saving your money?" Monica repeated.
"Yep, she said we would need money to pay for the long distance call. By that time I had the sinking suspicion that I had screwed up with my story but I didn't know how." Gerard continued, "Mom crossed her arms and explained that if the lady had called then it would have been a long-distance call cause she was either in heaven or hell."
"She died?" Monica guessed.
"Yep, the old gal had died the week before." Mikey slapped his brother on the back. "Gee here chose the recently dead neighbor for his lie?
Alicia laughed, "Good job, Gee."
He smiled and shrugged, "Shit I didn't know. I just looked at mom and told her that she probably had called from the great beyond. Mom wasn't amused."
"There was a rad party that night and neither of us could go. Fuck we hadn't even skipped, we just thought about it and still got grounded." Mikey said.
Monica's doctor walked in while they were all still laughing. He looked at Moncia. "How are you feeling today? I'm guessing by your laughter, much better."
Mikey and Alicia said they would come back after the doctor left. Gerard watched as the doctor checked Monica's chart. "I see your blood pressure is slightly elevated. We need to make sure that is under control before we release you. So have you been having any headaches? Any pain in your neck or chest?"
"Nope I feel pretty good, my hand hurts but that's about it. So when can I go home?" She asked hopefully.
Dr. Rollins laughed, "Why is it people are always trying to get away from me?" He took a look at Monica's head, "No problems with your sight? How about balance? I noticed your speech has greatly improved."
Monica sighed, "Yes, I'm not stumbling over words. My sight is fine and my balance is pretty good too. When I first get up I'm a little shaky but it's getting better." She knew she sounded like a child but she couldn't help it, "I want to go home."
"I know you do but we have to make sure everything is OK first. Tell you what, if your blood pressure is good and you don't have any other problems I'll release you tomorrow."
Monica smiled, "That's great. I'm so ready to get out of here," she laughed, "nothing personal"
"I understand" he turned to Gerard; "Make sure she gets quite a bit of exercise today. I want to make sure that activity doesn't tire her out more than normal."
Gerard nodded, "She and I will take lots of walks" The doctor nodded then left.
"I really wanted to go home today," she said as Gerard sat down on the side of her bed. "I'm tired of being here."
"Well lets take a walk and find Mikey and Alicia," he suggested.
In Ray's room Christa, who had been awake all night and had just dozed off, woke to find Ray watching her. She smiled. "Morning, how long have you been awake?"
He didn't return her smile or answer her question, "Where's mom?"
"She went home last night because I told her I was staying with you. She said she would be here around ten I think." she stood and stretched, "Can I get you something?"
He slowly shook his head, he tried to pull himself up higher on his pillows and Christa immediately was at his side to help. Ray looked at her sadly wondering why Mikey hadn't told her to leave. He started to speak when his doctor walked in.
"Good morning, Ray. How long have you been awake?" He walked over to the side of the bed after grabbing the chart.
"A few minutes" Christa answered for him.
Ray frowned, "Longer" he said, "you were sleeping," he told Christa.
She paused, "Oh, I was I guess. Sorry I didn't know you were awake."
"I was watching you," he told her.
She smiled at him ignoring his frown. Dr. Ryan spoke, "Your vitals are all good. Ray, do you have any memory loss? Any trouble remembering where you are when you first wake?" Ray nodded no so he continued," That's good. Headache?" Once again the answer was no. The doctor looked over at Christa, "Did he sleep through the night?"
"Yes, I was still awake at 6:00 this morning and he had slept through the night until then. Is that good?"
"Actually it is. Returning to normal awake and sleep patterns is important. I would like him to try to stay awake as long as possible. Talk to him, keep his mind occupied. If he feels up to it he can try to eat a small breakfast. They will bring him a special tray."
"Ok" Christa said once more looking at the doctor and ignoring Ray's frown.
"Mom will be here soon," Ray said to the doctor who was using a light to look into his eyes.
"Well I'm sure your girlfriend will tell her." He stepped back and lifted Ray's hand.
Ray was about to say something but he caught Christa glaring at him. Shit, Mikey did say something to her he thought.
"Ray, squeeze my hand as tightly as you can" Dr. Ryan said. Ray did and the doctor was pleased. "I'm sure that isn't quite as strong as before but still very good. "Let's check your legs"
Christa walked across the room and looked out the window while the doctor finished the examination. She had felt a moment of panic when Ray had mentioned his mother. She knew he wanted his mom to know what was expected so she could take over when he tried to send her away. She took a deep breath and gathered up all her resolve. He would not send her away, she wouldn't let him.
"Ok, reflexes are good in both legs. Ray, you are doing outstanding." He looked over at Christa who had come back over to Ray's bedside, "Are you going to be here all day?"
She answered without looking at Ray, "Most definitely"
"Good, when I make my rounds tonight you can fill me in on his awake and sleep times. Also I want to know if he eats." he said a final goodbye to Ray and sailed out he door.
Christa took a deep breath and looked at Ray. He was staring at her. She smiled sweetly, "So you need to stay awake, would you like to watch TV or talk?"
"Talk" he said sounding angry.
Instead of being upset Christa smiled, "Ray that was the first word I've heard you say with real emotion. Too bad it wasn't 'I love you' but you can work on that." she sat down.
"I want you to leave" Ray said slowly. It broke his heart to say the words but he felt he needed to say them.
She blinked once then broke into another smile, "No"
He was surprised, "I want you to go"
Gerard walked in but knew by the look on Ray's face it was a bad time. He looked over at Christa who was sitting in the chair smiling. "Gee, could you come back in a little while? Ray is trying to send me away right now and I'm about to tell him to go to hell cause I'm not going anywhere."
Ray who had been looking at Gerard turned to her. "What?"
Gerard backed out of the room, "Talk to ya later, Toro" he said,
Christa cleared her throat, "Now here's the deal, Ray. I'm not going anywhere. I'm gonna stay by your side through this cause I love you. I think you love me too and I'm pretty sure that is why you are trying to push me away. Well, it won't work. The only way you can get me to leave is to get out of that bed and make me. So I guess the bottom line is you have to regain your strength, get out of that bed and throw me out or regain your strength, get out of that bed and marry me."
Ray simply stared at her. Christa started back refusing to look away.