tagBDSMHitting the Bottom Ch. 03

Hitting the Bottom Ch. 03

bysmall_town_girl©

Author's note:

Thank you all for the lovely feedback on chapter two. I hope you enjoy this one even better as things are slowly heating up...

If you're new to this series - welcome! It would be easier to follow if you start at the beginning.

As always, a huge thank you to my co-creator and editor, the outrageously handsome Brit! :)

xoxo

small_town_girl

~~~~~~~~~~~

Dan:

I wake up on Monday morning when a nurse I haven't met yet comes in with my breakfast tray. It's almost 8am and I feel a momentary pang of disappointment over missing Sandra before she went home at the end of her night shift, and I wonder if she'd avoided waking me up on purpose.

Last night had ended with an uncomfortable silence. Sandra helped me to the bathroom by supporting me to a stand and averted her eyes as I relieved myself, and then helped me back down into the wheelchair and waited outside the small bathroom as I washed my hands and brushed my teeth while trying to spare unnecessary pain from my still-sutured lips. In all honesty I felt like I could probably manage doing it standing on my own two feet as well as walking back to my bed, but it was quicker to simply agree than get into a futile argument.

I wheeled myself over to the bed and let Sandra maneuver me up onto it. Once I was settled she gave me a short, pursed-lips look before she turned and left without a word, clicking the lights off on her way out.

The whole time I was keeping my mouth shut, silently berating myself for even entertaining the fantasy of having anything to do with Sandra beyond the nurse-patient relationship. What was I thinking?

The truth is that I wasn't thinking. In the quiet intimacy of the night shift I just let myself enjoy that unexpected comfort of... Attraction? Companionship? Human connection? Whatever it was, it was something I hadn't felt in a long, long time. And it felt so good that I let myself ignore the truth which now, in the bright glare of the morning sun, stares me harshly in the face.

I can't be doing this. It's way, way too much of a risk.

As much as I'd like to push my attack on Naomi out of my mind, as surreal as the whole episode feels to me, I cannot pretend it never happened. It wasn't just a bad dream. I know what I did only a few days ago. I know what I would have done had I not been thwarted at the last moment. And while I don't have any violent thoughts right now towards anyone, myself included, I can't trust myself not to go crazy again... especially where a woman is involved.

That's it then.

Resolutely I push the whole subject to the back of my mind and with grim concentration turn to the immediate tasks at hand: Eat my breakfast. Get up to a stand, see that I don't fall down on my face. Good. Walk the few steps over to the bathroom unaided, grab the doorframe, breathe through the pain. Yes. Walk over to the toilet, seat myself using the handrails. Got it. Do my business. Done. Reach out for my toothbrush and toothpaste and brush while still seated on the toilet. Get up only when needing to rinse. Hold on tight to the sink and wait for the dizziness caused by bending over to pass. Okay, I can do this. Wash my face carefully using the washcloth on my colorful, swollen left side. Look myself in the eye and repeat after me: Focus, Dan.

Focus, Dan.

The face in the mirror looking soberly back at me is vaguely familiar. The heavy bruises and the stitches and the week-old beard do little to hide the hollowness of my cheeks which betrays the weight I'd lost. The lines on my forehead and around my mouth and eyes have deepened. I look old and battered, but also more alert and determined than I've been in a couple of years. I'm ready to face my life again.

Taking a deep breath I push myself slowly upright and walk back to my bed, sit down, and then lie back against the pillow. God help me but I need to rest after this little exercise I just pulled. With a mental shrug I close my eyes. It is what it is. At least I've accomplished something this morning.

*

I wake up when the doctors' visit finally arrives at my room. Being the last one at the end of the hall means it's well past ten by the time they reach me, and I feel well-rested and sharp. I prop myself up against the headrest and for the first time really pay attention to the conversation at my bedside.

"Mr. Moreno, a 41-year-old man, was brought in by ambulance 4 nights ago after sustaining a moderate head trauma caused by a fall... he also suffered a cracked rib and a split lip sustained in a brawl that preceded his fall... ER's blood toxins scan showed elevated level of alcohol and dangerous overdose of paracetamol combined with several other OTC drugs... stomach pumped, face sutured and head and rib-cage bandaged in the ER before being admitted here in the Neurological ward for observation. Has been suffering from headaches, dizziness and nausea but showing satisfactory improvement over the last couple of days."

The young doctor finishes his brief and looks up to the small group, his eyes seeking those of the obvious leader of the pack, an older doctor, tall and slim, her grey hair pinned back at her neck in a nonchalant style. At her slight nod he turns back to face me.

"How are you doing today, Dan?"

"I'm much better, doc. Ready to go home."

The young doctor smiles. "I'm sure you're sick of all of us by now, but let's check you out first, shall we?" He starts the by-now-familiar routine of checking my reflexes, my balance and my orientation in space by asking me to perform a range of bizarre tasks, like stand up straight with my arms stretched out to the sides, close my eyes and then bring my index finger to touch the tip of my nose. I feel less ridiculous than I did the first time they asked me to do this, and am struck at my own obvious improvement.

"Very good Dan. You're doing well indeed. We'll just need you to speak with Dr. Pappas again before we make a decision on your release."

Ah. Of course. I'm the suicidal nut-case for them. Pathetic loser.

I nod my understanding, not trusting myself to speak. The young doctor's face softens and he lowers his voice as he mumbles to me, "You'll be alright, Dan. These things happen."

I nod again, and breathe out my relief when the small group of doctors takes its leave. Yeah, these things happen. But I never thought they'd happen to me.

*

"Hello Dan. I'm very glad to see you again."

Dr. Pappas actually does seem happy to see me. There's a small but genuine smile on his thin face.

"Why?" All right, that came out a little grumpier than it should have. I mentally shrug. Dr. Pappas' smile widens.

"Ah. Still not in the shiniest of moods eh? Well I'm glad to see you because it means you have not killed yourself since our last chat. In my line of work that's not unheard of, you know."

Despite myself I feel an almost-smile twitching my mouth in response to his dry sarcasm.

"Yeah, I guess you're right. I'm glad I didn't kill myself, either." I surprise myself saying it out loud, but it's true nonetheless.

"Good! Wanna tell me why?"

"Well I - yesterday was a good day, I guess. I feel like I've turned a corner in a way."

"Hmm. How so?"

"I, er..." Damn. I almost blurted 'I met this girl'... Focus, Dan. "Well I figured out what I was going to do with my life. Job-wise, I mean. Since I know they won't keep me on the force."

"Ah. Sounds intriguing. Care to share?" His eyes light up and he leans forward like he really is interested. He's good, I gotta hand it to him.

"Sure, yeah, I mean..." Shit, I'm nervous about it. Why wasn't I nervous last night with Sandra?

Balling my fists I straighten up and push through. "I'm planning on becoming a handyman. Light maintenance, assembling flat-pack furniture, that kind of stuff. I've always been good with that sort of thing, I figure I can make a living off of it if I really applied myself." I stop short and wait for Dr. Pappas' response, trying to hide how anxious I feel about it.

Dr. Pappas smiles reassuringly. "Good, good! Any immediate steps once you're out of the hospital?"

I describe the first few actions I'm planning to take and Dr. Pappas nods his satisfaction.

"All right, Dan. As far as I'm concerned you're good to go home. Also, I wanted to let you know that your friend - Jon? - he contacted me earlier this morning and asked some specific questions regarding your insurance. I didn't realize you were a cop - I am actually on the approved psychiatrists list on the Federations' insurance policy, so if you'd like to keep seeing me for your ongoing treatment that could actually work well."

At first I am taken aback and more than a little pissed off, both at Jon's meddling behind my back as well as Dr. Pappas' blunt push to secure me as a long-term paying patient. And at the same time I'm grateful to learn that the treatment I sorely need would not drain me financially, and to have one less task to worry about when I get home. I exhale slowly to rid myself of my annoyance, and meet Dr. Pappas' knowing eyes.

"Thank you doc. I appreciate it and I'd very much like to start seeing you on a regular basis once I'm out."

The shrink smiles. "Good! What's your number? I'll have my office call you to schedule your first few appointments. I'd recommend starting out with more frequent visits - twice a week would be good - and then we'll space them out to the customary weekly appointments. Would that work for you?"

I nod, trying to keep up with the quick gear-shifting. "Yeah, sure. I guess I'm going to be pretty open these days... here, give me your phone and I'll type in my number for you."

Dr. Pappas hands me his phone and I input my number, my mind still reeling a bit. I'd never been through therapy; Naomi wanted us to get couples' counseling when we were going through the hardships of fertility treatments but I refused. I argued adding even more doctors appointments to our already crazy treatment schedule was simply not doable. Truth was, as I guess it usually is when avoiding therapy, that I didn't want to 'go there', to face everything such counseling could bring up.

Now, however, I painfully recognize how badly I need it. And although twice-weekly shrink sessions sound overwhelmingly exhausting, my philosophy towards any must-do task had always been to 'just do it'. God knows I have my work cut out for me; might as well stack it up and plow through as diligently as I can. After all, fixing this - fixing me - is the basis for everything else. I get that.

"There you go. I'll be waiting for that call from your office."

I hand the phone back to Dr. Pappas and he takes it with a satisfied nod. "Good. I'll see you in a few days then. And again, if you have any suicidal thoughts, or if you feel you need to speak - please call my cell, anytime. You've got my card. All right?"

"Yes, sir. I'll do that."

With another quick smile and a fatherly pat on my hand Dr. Pappas gets up and leaves, and I follow him with my eyes all the way out. I sure hope this works out.

*

Jon arrives 20 minutes after I call him. He hands me a bundle of clean clothes - jeans and a polo shirt, as well as boxers and socks, and my sneakers. Ah yes. I was in my sweats and T-shirt when he showed up and beat me into a pulp. I mumble my thanks to him and make my way to the bathroom, refusing his assistance. I can dress myself, dammit, even if I need to do it sitting down on the toilet seat.

A few minutes later we're making our way out, me still in the wheelchair, an envelope with my patient discharge papers in my lap, Jon striding at my side.

"Give me a minute, I'll bring the car around."

Jon leaves me at the main entrance to the hospital without really waiting for my reply, knowing full well I'd have tried to argue my way into walking over to the car park with him. He's right not to let me but that doesn't mean I can't resent it. I just barely refrain from cursing at his back.

In another couple of minutes we're threading our way through the light midday traffic heading over to my place. I feel myself growing tenser by the moment and try to figure it out in my head. I guess part of it has something to do with the place itself, facing the gory mess, the work I'm going to have to put in to clean it up that would unfortunately have to wait until I'm better healed. Which means I'll need to go back to living in the midst of my own filth for a while longer.

But the truth is there's more there for me to face than the mess. There's my desk where I sat with my gun in my mouth. My bathroom cabinet where I took all those pills... Would I be tempted to do it again if I'm back there? I don't think so, but I can't really trust myself and my feelings these days.

Another part is the fact that once there, Jon will collect my police-issued weapon and accessories, and that would be that. It's one thing to understand intellectually that I am going to lose my job; it's quite another to watch my partner take my gun away because we both know I cannot be trusted with it, take all those outwards symbols and remove them from my home because I'm never going to serve as a cop again. The thought tears at my guts.

Or maybe it's simpler than all that. I just dread being there alone. At the hospital there were all these people whose job was to care for me, even if solely from a medical perspective. At home my loneliness would not be escapable. It would be all-compassing. Suffocating. It's gonna eat me up alive.

Shit. Calm down, Dan. This is no time for a panic attack. Breathe.

I take a shuddering deep breath and slowly release it. Jon throws a worried look at me but thankfully keeps quiet. I grind my teeth and look straight ahead, unwilling to start a conversation.

We keep riding in uncomfortable silence until at last we reach my place, where I see a parking spot right in front of the building had been kept open for us by some kind of hand-written sign, complete with a crooked wheelchair symbol drawn with a black marker. I'm embarrassed as hell by the thought of being treated as handicapped. At the same time I gotta admit it would have sucked walking two blocks right now. We park and head into the apartment building.

My rented one-bedroom is on the third floor, no elevator. It was never a problem for me before; now it seems like an insurmountable feat. I hold on to the rail on my left side and grudgingly accept Jon's support on the right as we slowly take the stairs one at a time, stopping at every landing so that I can catch my breath, until at long last we arrive at my door. Jon draws my key from his pocket and opens it, stepping inside and holding it open for me to walk through.

I step in and stop dead in my tracks, my jaw almost hitting the floor in my disbelief.

The place is spotless. Squeaky clean.

It takes a moment for my legs to respond. I walk slowly inside, taking in the changes that have transpired while I've been hospitalized. The curtains seem to have been washed so that they are sheer white again instead of stained yellowish-beige, and are drawn back to let the sun in. The glass is clear and the bright light coming through gleams back from the scrubbed, waxed floors.

The sofas and carpets had been vacuumed and probably treated for stains and there's no speck of dust to be seen anywhere. The piles of dirty clothes are gone. I walk into the small kitchen to find it just as perfectly clean and the fridge stacked with homemade food in different containers. I don't really need to go into my small office and my bedroom to know how I'd find them.

Suddenly I feel a pain in my chest and realize it's from sucking my breath in and holding it for too long. I release it with a shocked laugh, still unable to utter a coherent word. I feel Jon's hand gently patting my shoulder and then squeezing it carefully. I turn back to stare at him.

"H- How?"

Jon half-smiles and shakes his head lightly almost like he's trying to shrug off the magic that was pulled in my flat. "Some of the guys pitched in for a cleaning service; others swung by to help with elbow grease. Several of them arrived with food sent by their wives which took me by surprise, too. I never even thought of that. It took the good part of Sunday but I think we're all pretty proud of how it turned out."

'Took him by surprise'?! My fucking mind is blown away. I suddenly remember his sweaty workout clothes last night and how envious I was of him thinking he was on his way back from the gym...

"I - I don't know what to say, Jon. I - thank you. You and the guys, thank you so much. I just... shit!"

I choke up so bad it takes every conscious thought to focus on not breaking down into a sobbing mess right there and then. I breathe sharply through my nose to regain control of my runaway emotions while grabbing the countertop for support. Jon is hovering at my side looking concerned.

"Take it easy, Dan. It's only a clean for fucks sake. Let's go sit down all right?"

I take a couple more deep inhales and blow them out slowly until I am reasonably sure I'm not going to burst out weeping like a little girl, and nod to Jon. He walks back to the living room and sits down on the far end of the couch while I slowly lower myself to the nearer one, then relax into it and lean back with a shaky sigh. Jon lets me be for a while, waiting patiently until I open my eyes and look back at him.

"You okay?"

I nod. "Yeah. I'm just - I was so not expecting any of this. I was actually thinking back in the car about how bad I let this place go and how I needed to bring it back to habitability..." I shake my head again, still finding it hard to believe.

"Thank you, Jon. And tell the guys, too. I - I don't deserve this. And I'm - I'm just blown away. I don't know what to say. Thank you doesn't even come close."

"You're welcome, Dan. You'd have done the same for any of us, right?" It's not a question really and Jon's not waiting for my response before adding: "Now, are you up to talking some logistics?"

I blink, a little slow on the uptake with this swift change of topic but then find my voice. "Yeah, sure."

"All right. So the truth is I don't feel comfortable with you being here on your own. Now I wanted to bring you back to my place, but Annie -" Jon stops abruptly and looks down, looking undecided before meeting my eyes and starting again.

"Annie understands that I'm your friend and that I am committed to help you through this, Dan. But she won't have you over at our house. And I respect that."

I feel all the air leave my body as I lean over my knees and nod, my eyes buried in the floor at my feet, a fresh wave of shame and self-directed disgust coming back with a vengeance to swamp me. Annie's right. Of course she's right. What was Jon even thinking, asking Naomi's best friend to have me as a house guest after everything I'd done?!

I take a moment to compose myself before answering.

"Of course, Jon - I - I could never..."

I could never show my face to Annie again. I could never look her in the eyes. It's true but still I can't bring myself to say it out loud. Pathetic loser. I bury my face in my hands.

"Listen, Dan... This is hard, all right? It's hard on everyone involved. Annie - she's speaking with Naomi daily and is trying to help as much as she can long-distance..."

With Jon's mention of Naomi's name I straighten up sharply to look at him - so sharply that for a moment I feel awful dizzy again and the nausea hits me hard. I close my eyes and swallow repeatedly, willing for it to pass. When I open them to look at Jon again I find him searching my face closely.

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