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Hospital Blues

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She might have tried her best not to let her agitation show but Healy saw right through Holly all the way from her school to the hospital. She kept looking around as they drove down the street, asked every five minutes if he couldn’t go a bit faster to which Healy only replied, “Sorry, kiddo, but I’m already going as fast as I can with the cops right behind me.”

She huffed at that, continued to look around, scratched her arm until he could see red marks from her fingernails on her fine white skin. Poor girl, he thought with an inaudible sigh. He had called her school as soon as the ambulance had closed the doors and driven off. Half an hour later, he had waited outside Holly’s school, leaning against his car and finishing up his second cigarette, and when her lanky figure finally appeared by the entrance, it had almost broken his heart to see how she had struggled to stay composed as she approached him.

“Is he okay?” she had asked then, and still she kept asking. And his answer always stayed the same, “I hope so, sweetheart.”

The tension seemed to get to him at last, too, when the hospital building finally came into view. He was grateful that Holly waited for him as he got out of the car – as anxious as she currently was, the girl always stayed considerate. Healy sometimes still wondered how such a little angel could exist with a dad like hers. But perhaps she was just as scared of the outcome of this visit as he was and didn’t want to face going in there all alone. He couldn’t blame her.

At the reception, he was faced with a grim-looking nurse who tried very hard to look too busy to talk to visitors but Healy had the patience of a saint as he asked her politely where he could find Holland March. Holly held his hand all the while.

“Mr. March is in the orthopaedic surgery department. Go down the hallway, turn right, take the stairs to the second level and then turn left.”

“Thank you,” Healy nodded, giving Holly’s hand a light squeeze, before they followed the nurse’s instructions. Which was easier said than done. This hospital resembled a fucking maze. Or maybe it was just the mutual nervousness that had both Healy and Holly walking around aimlessly and, eventually, getting lost. Several interrogations of more nurses and doctors along the way later, they finally arrived in the right department, the right floor and in front of the right door.

“He’s in there, kid," the nurse said.

"You’re allowed to see him.” Healy said, trying to sound as encouraging as possible, giving Holly a light nudge on the shoulder.

She stared at the door, uncertain, while she worried her lip. “Could you come with me?”

“Sure,” he nodded with a half-hearted smile as Holly grabbed his hand once again, and opened the door.

A light breeze wafted through the tiny room as the door swung open. It was surprisingly bright in there, and Holland March grumbled something in his sleep which sounded a lot like, “Close the fucking door,” but which both Holly and Healy decided to ignore politely. The only thing that mattered was that March was okay, relatively speaking, and that he was still able to cuss and complain about every inconvenience.

“Dad?” Holly’s small voice sounded hopeful as she approached her father’s bed.

March stirred, slowly opened his eyes with his brows furrowed as though he was trying very hard to remember whose voice that could be. When he finally seemed awake enough to recognise his own daughter, a tired smile crept onto his lips.

“Holly! Baby! How did you get here?” he said, his voice rough and heavy with sleep, as he gathered her in his arms. Obviously, Healy’s entire intimidating appearance was something one could easily overlook. If it hadn’t been for Holly, he would have felt like an intruder during this family reunion.

“Mr. Healy picked me up from school so I could see you.”

“Healy…?” March asked, confused, and then he finally looked past his daughter to notice the large silhouette in the back of the room. To say he looked surprised would have been an understatement. The man looked entirely flabbergasted, as though he had seen a ghost. “You did this for her?”

Healy gave a curt nod. “Of course. What kind of heartless asshole do you think I am?” He gave a small laugh but it was lacking the sort of humour that would make it believable. After all, he had just quoted the very same words March had thrown at him a couple of hours earlier, right before the accident.

Despite his concussion, March winced visibly at the remark and looked down back at his daughter in his arms. “Sorry,” he muttered through clenched teeth. “I appreciate it. You know, that you brought Holly here. Took care of her. And all that.”

Healy shook his head. “Don’t mention it,” he sighed, waving his hand dismissively. “I know you’d do the same for me. Well, that is, if I had family.”

March remained silent but the weak smile he gave was affirmative enough for Healy to forget about their argument right before the car had hit March.

“So, how are you doing? Anything broken?” Healy eventually asked as he walked towards March’s bed.

“Oh, just my leg this time. And, well, a nice concussion, too.”

“Do you remember the accident?” Holly then asked with a certain curiosity on her face that made Healy feel a little uncomfortable. What was that emotion in her eyes? Bloodthirstiness? Perhaps a messed up mix of both of them? Either way, March also gave his daughter a weird look before he answered, “Well, no, sweetie. But if you do want to know something curious, I can’t differentiate between blue and green. So there’s that.”

“Wow,” Holly simply said in awe. A twinge of pity overcame Healy as he watched the look of concern edged onto his partner’s features. He let out a small cough in a half-arsed attempt at getting Holly’s attention.

“Holly? We should go now. Your dad’s fine and I can bring you back tomorrow.”

“Fine, Healy? I fucking broke my fucking leg and my fucking brain hurts, too.”

“See? He’s fine, nothing unusual. Let’s go,” Healy smiled and held out a hand for Holly, more out of instinct than anything else.

“Okay, Mr. Healy.” Holly gave her father a quick kiss on the cheek before she hopped off his bed and went to take the proffered hand. “See you tomorrow, dad?”

March nodded. “Tomorrow, darling.”

“Take care,” Healy said, already on his way out as March’s voice suddenly piped up.

“Jackson?”

Healy stopped in his tracks. March had used his name only a handful of times before. Sometimes he wasn’t even sure if March actually knew his name. He turned back to him, eyebrows arched. “Yeah?”

“Thanks, man,” March said with a small, embarrassed cough – and then adding much softer, “And… I’m sorry. I am.”

For some reason, Healy’s throat went dry (too dry too fast, for his taste) and so he simply gave a curt nod and muttered under his breath, “Me too,” before he ushered Holly out of the room.