Fandom: House of Wax (2005)
Written for: pesha in the Yuletide 2007 Challenge
Sleep was a strange, distant concept now, despite being so tired that each eyelid felt weighed down by concrete. Her hand was throbbing dully, torn lips made talking difficult, and she was going through her story for the third time as someone in bright purple scrubs worked on her hand.
"... I hid in the church, I don't, I don't know where Nick was...." There were tears running down her face, and she lifted her free hand to scrub at them. She didn't know exactly when she'd started crying, but it wasn't because she was sad. She was past sad and so far out the other side that she couldn't remember what it was supposed to feel like.
"We can pick this up later." The policeman reminded her of someone's father, older and looking at her worriedly as if he wanted to pat her hand but wasn't sure how she'd take it.
"I... no." She shook her head, stopping when she realized she was shaking it violently enough to nearly dislodge the nurse working on her hand. "No. I need to do this now."
Carly could feel herself starting to shake again, hand trembling against the strangely impersonal latex touch of the nurse. Not shock, this time. She could think through the muffling fog, even though it hurt. "I found... I found the tape recorder, the one that had been playing the funeral and... and then...."
The tears continued to fall as her hand was released by the nurse, who did give her a comforting pat as she left the room. Carly tripped over some of the words, caught herself repeating things once or twice, started laughing once until it hurt and only managed to stop when the female policeman behind her stepped forward to give her a gentle shake. It wasn't the shake, it was that Carly shrank from the contact - afraid. That scared her more than the touch itself and she waited, still shaking, as they found a doctor. Head tipped, hair falling to block out the room around her, she tried not to think about it, about any of it.
It had been less horrible when it had actually been happening, everything rushing past her in a mix of terror and adrenaline. Action, reaction, fight and flight - there'd been no time to think and now that they were making her think, asking question after question, it was harder, so much harder.
"Look, don't give her anything. She doesn't want it and if you decide that she can't make her own decisions, I'm her next of kin and you still don't give her anything, do you hear me?"
Nick. Carly brought her head up slowly, blinking away the slow flow of tears. She had no idea how long he'd been there and she was so tired. The two police officers were hovering by the door and Nick was standing almost on top of her, between what appeared to be a doctor and herself. She reached out, hand trembling, and caught at his jeans. "I want to go home."
He didn't look down at her, merely stepping back until his leg was pressed against hers and she was entirely hidden from the doctor and the police. "She wants to go home."
It wasn't until he gently helped her up from the end of the examining table where she'd been sitting that she realized she'd entirely tuned out whatever had just happened. She swayed a little on her feet and, as a nurse brought up a wheelchair, balked. "No."
"She can walk." Nick sounded angry somehow, and almost as tired as she was. "Carly," and she blinked, looking up at him. "We're spending the night. We're both in bad shape and the police...."
Carly reflected dimly that he didn't look angry at all. He looked afraid. She leaned against him. "Not... going home?" But she had to go home. "Wade -"
"Wade won't be there." Nick glared at everyone until they moved out of the way and slowly supported her from the room. Following the directions of another purple-clad nurse, they made their way down the hall and into a small hospital room.
As he gently sat her down on the bed closest to the door, the nurse brought over a small cup of water and a set of pills. "Listen to me, Carly." He caught her face gently in his hands. "The police want us to stay the night because those two nutballs might not have been working alone. We're going to sleep here and there's going to be a policeman outside the door."
She stared at him, tears finally ceasing, as she tried to process what he was saying.
"Carly?" He grimaced. "Do you understand me? Nod or blink or... something."
She nodded jerkily. She'd been distracted by the feel of his hands, trembling against her face. He wasn't doing any better than she, no matter how much better he was at lying about it. "I'm so tired."
"If I give you something, will you take it?" The nurse was still hovering, pills in hand.
Nick gave her the pills, but it was the nurse who gently tucked her into bed. Carly didn't take her eyes off her brother through the entire business, even as it became harder and harder to stay awake. "Nick." It was like speaking through a heavy blanket. "Nick."
"What?" He slumped down on the other bed, rubbing tiredly at his face.
"Are we... in trouble?" She meant 'are you in trouble' because there were policemen everywhere she looked. Right now there were two in the hallway, one looking in and one staring down the hall.
Nick's lips twisted. "No. Go to sleep, Carly. We can talk about it in the morning."
She didn't have the concentration to resist anymore, stress and fear and grief all wound together so tightly that she couldn't remember what had brought them here in the first place. With a long sigh she closed her eyes, leaving Nick to stare exhaustedly at the policemen in the hallway.
When Carly woke again, it was an effort to force open her eyes. For a few long minutes, she stared sightlessly up at the ceiling, wondering why she was so tired, why everything seemed both dully painful and at the same time numb. As she moved to sit up, suddenly the numbness was fading and leaving nothing but the pain.
"I... no. Wade." For a minute, it was all she could see, Wade sitting so perfectly still and Nick, reaching up and... and.... She jerked herself upright, despite the pain, and looked around wildly. "Nick!"
Her brother, eyes not quite open, flailed half-upright, looking around wildly. "Carly?"
She didn't cry this time, for all that her body was jerking with sobs. Breathlessly, she reached for him, needing to be sure he was real. There was too much to process, too much to remember, too much lost.... Nick wrapped his arms around her, not bothering to say anything or even attempt a pretense at reassurance. He'd never been any good at that sort of thing, even when they were children - and that wasn't what she needed anyway.
Nick was real. He was alive and breathing, no smooth covering of wax to seal away his humanity and his life. If he wasn't good at comfort, he was very good at violence, and she could feel the promise of it tensed muscles - and that was all the comfort she needed. He was shaking as well, but she knew it was more anger than fear, and that was both familiar and oddly soothing.
"Wade...." She couldn't even say it, and she simply wrapped her arms around Nick and held on.
"Wade's dead." There was a faint crack in Nick's voice and his arms tightened. "So is everyone else. We're still alive, Carly - you and me."
"...why?" It was a stupid question, a pointless question, but she had to ask it. "Why?"
"Because we fought." Nick's voice was grim. He leaned forward to press a hard kiss to her temple. "Because we fought together - and because Wade," again that waver, "was an asshole."
Carly fought back a laugh, not because it was funny or even because it was true, but because it was so very Nick. Wade should've said something cutting in response... but Wade was gone, murdered, and the laugh tried to become a sob.
"It's all right, Carly." From Nick it was an assertion of defiance. "It is all right. You're alive."
"I'm alive." Carly leaned against him, almost holding her breath. "I'm alive."
"Everything else," and Nick was looking over her shoulder at the door of the room, "can be worked around."
She turned her head, following the direction of his gaze, and found herself looking at the tactfully turned back of a police officer. "Why-?" Memory returned and she shivered. "You said something about that. Something about... someone else."
"Don't worry about it yet." Nick shifted a little, reaching to adjust the bed until he could lean back and pull her into his arms. One hand combed gently and clumsily through her hair. "Go back to sleep, Carly. We can worry about it in the morning."
"In the morning," she agreed, tiredly. It was strange to be leaning up against Nick, even stranger to find herself relaxing. It was safe here, despite everything that had passed between them and a gulf of mutual anger that had kept them separated for so very long.
Her eyes refused to close, however, a drowsy fear of what she might see if she closed her eyes keeping her awake. At the moment, her field of vision was filled with Nick's chest, and she was truly too tired to move. "Nick?"
It was unfair to keep after him, especially when he seemed at least as tired as she was - and had lost just as much as she. She worried at the question for a moment or two before offering sleepily, "Come to New York with me."
There was silence, but she could feel him tensing up again, could feel the refusal coming, and reached upward to press her hand awkwardly against his mouth. "I need you." Because she'd never trust anyone again, not their smiles or their pleasant lies or.... "I'm afraid."
"Afraid of strangers?" There was a grim understanding in his voice and it rumbled in his chest beneath her ear. "Or of strange places?"
"I'm afraid of -" She couldn't finish the sentence.
"Afraid of having it all come away in your hands." The grimness in his voice was darker, and he sounded more awake with every word.
Carly closed her eyes, seeing again that horrible 'snap'. "I'm sorry."
There was a long pause, but she was too tired to force her eyes open again. Just as reality slid through her fingers, she heard a low murmur as lips grazed her temple again. "You won't have to do it alone, Carly."
She felt herself relaxing again, almost against her will. She didn't have the strength to answer, feeling herself drifting and finally falling into sleep.
"Not alone. I promise."
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