Monday, April 2, 2012

Free at Last Ch.01

Warning: This is going to be a bit darker then my other stories. I do have a dark side and I'm not going to ignore it all the time. There wont be any sex for awhile so don't cry about it in the comments section either :). Don't start freaking out the first couple of paragraphs, give it a chance people. It's not my usual style, but that doesn't mean you wont like it. If you're looking for sci-fi/fantasy (Since thats what I normally write) then you're at the wrong story, sorry. But stick with it if you want to. It will have a happy ending, promise. 


Jackson was awoken in the middle of the night by the blood curdling scream. His wife next to him sat up and pulled the blanket up to her chest and clutched it in fear.

"What the hell was that!?" She shouted at Jackson.

"Fuck if I know..." Jackson said.

"Go find out!" She yelled and shoved him. He got out of bed and put on his robe and slippers. The screaming could still be heard. It was loud and drawn out, full of pain.

He stepped out of his apartment labeled 'Landlord' and several of his tenants had stuck there heads out of their doors. A few asked him what was going on but he had no answer for their questions. Some doors had parents looking into the hallway with their frightened children grasping their legs or night clothes. Some wives held the children while their husbands investigated but everyone looked scared and confused.

Only one door had not been opened and Jackson knew that to be Nikolai's apartment. He wondered if the screaming was coming from his room but he doubted that. Nikolai was always very quiet and kept to himself. Never made problems with the other tenants or Jackson himself. Always payed his rent on time.

Now that he thought about it Jackson hadn't talked to Nikolai more then three or four times over the 5 years he had lived there. Everyone continued to look up and down the hallway for the source of the screaming. Or at least an explanation. Every door was open now except for Nikolai's.

Everyone looked at the only unopened door. The screaming was beginning to quiet now and it was only the occasional cry of agony, rather then the long, drawn out, glass shattering screams. Jackson pulled his robe around him tighter and walked towards the door. A few men and women stepped out of their apartments and followed him but most stayed inside. But all eyes stayed on him.

He looked behind him nervously and was slightly comforted by the large men and concerned looking women who backed him up. He knocked roughly on the door.

"Nikolai? Whats going on? Are you alright." He shouted, to be heard over the screams that had stopped suddenly.

"Nikolai I'm coming in." He said. He turned the door knob but it was locked. He patted the pockets in his robe as if he expected to find his keys there.

"Shit." He said. He ran back to his apartment and grabbed the keyring that held the keys to all the apartments. He searched for Nikolai's as he ran back to the door. By the time he got there he had found it and shoved the key in the lock.

The lock clicked as it unlocked and the small group pushed its way in with Jackson in the lead. He looked around the living room and it was all dark, no lights on at all. The room was clean and held only one picture of Nikolai and another man Jackson had seen a few times with Nikolai.

The kitchen was empty and dark but Nikolai's door was closed. Jackson moved towards it and the group of men and women followed behind him closely.

He tried the door knob but it was locked.

"I don't have a key to the doors inside the apartments. They are down in the office." Jackson sighed.

"You mind if I kick it down?" A large man from the back said. Jackson remembered he was a fire fighter.

"Go ahead." Jackson moved aside and the man stepped forward. He knocked on the door and waited a moment.

"I'm kicking the door down move away from it." He shouted. He waited a second longer and when no reply was heard he stepped back and kicked the door near the knob. The door splintered a bit and he backed up again and this time rammed his shoulder into the weakened wood. The door split and he fell through into the bedroom.

The bedroom was spotless. The bed freshly made. The lights were off in here as well and there was a single piece of paper on the bed. The only light in the apartment came from the bathroom. The door was slightly ajar and the light was on casting a line of light onto the bed.

Jackson moved towards the bathroom door and pushed it open.

"Oh shit!" He said. He covered his mouth with his hand and tried to hold back the vomit rising in his throat. He bent over and turned away from the bathroom.

"Oh god, someone call and ambulance. Shit. Don't look." He waved a hand at a woman who approached the bathroom. She swallowed and pushed the door open more. She immediately turned and vomited. Jackson still tried to hold it down but was struggling.

Someone ran back into the hallway and told someone to call an ambulance.

The man who had kicked down the door walked towards the bed. He picked up the neatly folded paper that sat in the center of the perfectly made bed.

It read only one thing.

'I'm sorry.'






'What the hell?' He thought to himself.

The constant steady beep beep invaded the soothing darkness of his mind. He slowly opened his eyes and winced at the brightness of the lights.

He thought for a moment maybe he had made it into heaven despite what he had done. Then he felt the itching burning on his arms.

He groaned and tried to swallow the dry, foul taste in his mouth.

'Why? Please god, Why?' He thought. He forced his eyes open and looked around.

He could tell he was in a hospital by the I.V. hooked into his right hand. The sheets where crisp and clean. They were unwrinkled and folded back neatly. There was a chair sitting across the room in the corner under the T.V. that was turned on but was muted. It looked like it hadn't been sat in.

He noticed then that his arms and legs were strapped to the railing of the bed. The ones around his wrists were loose enough to allow the bandages that covered them to breathe but tight enough so he couldn't slip out of them. Or even move much. Not that he could. He tried to flex his hand but his fingers didn't respond to his brains command.

"You're lucky you survived." Said a voice from the doorway.

He turned and saw an older doctor with a clipboard walk in.

"You can't be lucky when you fail at something. It just doesn't work like that." Nikolai said, his voice was dry and hoarse, he was thirsty beyond belief.

"Even if you try and kill yourself?" The doctor said and checked some of the machines next to the bed.

"Especially when you..... do that." Nikolai swallowed. He was embarrassed at what he had tried to do.

"Well then, WE, are lucky you survived." The doctor smiled and walked out of the room. Nikolai sighed and tried to flex his other hand. It only twitched in response but it was better then in right hand.

A nurse walked in and fiddled with the I.V. and Nikolai soon relaxed, the pain and itching in his arms becoming less. Despite what he did Nikolai didn't like pain.

"Could I get a drink of water please?" He asked the red headed nurse.

"Just a sec, hon." She smiled and left the room. She came back with a paper cup filled with ice chips. She put some in his mouth and they melted slowly. Nikolai felt better when his mouth had been rid of the gross taste. But he still wanted to brush his teeth.

'I shouldn't have to brush my teeth now.' He thought to himself. ' How pathetic do you have to be to fail at killing yourself.' he laughed at himself.

"Just to check to make sure this background information is correct. You're Nikolai Petrov?" She asked. He nodded his head mutely.

"29 years old?" He nodded silently again.

"Any family members or friends we should call?" She asked.

" I have no one." He said. She looked at him and frowned

'He looks so....Alone.' She thought.

"Any allergies we should know about?" He shook his head.

The nurse went on for a few more minutes about basic things they had to know. Soon she said she was done and she left. Nikolai was glad. He didn't want to be around anyone.


Nikolai sat in the wheelchair across from the blonde woman in a suit. He looked around nervously and shifted uncomfortably in his chair. His arms draped lazily over the arms, settling his hands in his lap. He tried to occupy himself with flexing his right arm which still had not responded since he had woken up three days ago.

The blonde just stared at him like she expected something. He glanced up at her once or twice but said nothing.

"You know why your here, correct?" She asked.

He was caught off guard by her question and shifted uncomfortably again.

"Yes, I'm assuming your a shrink." He said.

"Yes, you can talk to me about anything you want. Nothing you say will leave this room. We can talk about your attempt or we can talk about something not related to it at all. Whatever you feel comfortable with." She said.

"And if I don't want to talk?" Nikolai glared at her.

"Then you don't have to." She shrugged. She fiddled with the pen in her hand but eventually set it down on the notepad sitting on top of her crossed legs.

"What the hell do I call you, Henstridge?" Nikolai laughed.

"Who is Henstridge?" The blonde asked.

"Oh come on, you know." She stared at him blankly.

"Natasha Henstridge. From the 'Species' movies?" Nikolai said.

"Do you watch a lot of movies?" she asked.

"We are not talking about me we are talking about you, Henstridge." He said.

"My name is Dr. Nelson." She said.

"To late I'm hooked on Henstridge now." Nikolai knew he was being an asshole but he didn't want to talk to any shrink.

She sighed and wrote something down.

"I would prefer if you didn't." She said.

"Should have said something when I first called you that. Now it has to happen." He shrugged. She sighed again.

"When can I leave?" Nikolai asked.

"Your not being held here against your will, you're free to leave whenever you like." Henstridge said.

"Good." He said. " But I cant exactly push my own damn wheelchair, Henstridge. Help a cripple out." He said sarcastically.

She stood and walked towards the door. She poked her head out the door and said something Nikolai couldn't hear. He glanced at the gray skirt pulled tight over her ass.

'Not to bad.' He thought to himself.

"Were you just looking at my-" Henstridge swallowed angrily. Nikolai laughed.

"Your not my type, Sweety." He said.

"What is your type." Henstridge asked.

"Tall, gorgeous, and with a dick." Nikolai said with a straight face. Henstridge nodded and moved to the notepad to write something down.

A male nurse came in and moved behind Nikolai to push the wheelchair. His broad shoulders stooped low as he leaned on the handles of the wheelchair. His brown hair got into his eyes and he used one hand to brush it back onto his head.

"Like him." Nikolai jerked his head up towards the nurse. The nurse, who hadn't heard their conversation, got a confused look on his face but Henstridge only smiled.

"Doctor patient confidentiality, sorry." She shrugged when he gave her a questioning look. Nikolai frowned.

" \It's no fun if you play along with me." He said as he was wheeled out the door.


Nikolai sat on his bed with nothing to do. He had no friends or family to visit him. No books or music to entertain him. Nothing good was even on T.V. His arms burned and itched like crazy and he still attempted to flex or move them. His right hand still didn't respond and his left still only twitched.

The nurse came in as he struggled with the bandaged limbs.

"I talked to our physical therapist here and you start on Monday, He says due to your injuries you might need surgery on your arms. You cut through a lot of tendons." The nurse said as she checked her chart.

"Oh is THAT what all that pain was. Huh. I thought it was deaths sweet, but tight, embrace whisking me away peacefully." He growled at her.

"No wonder no one comes to visit you if you treat everyone with an attitude like that." She said and stepped outside.

Nikolai felt like he had been punched in the chest. The overwhelming sorrow washed over him. Much like that dreadful night. He thought of the face of his lover.

'Ex-lover' he reminded himself.

He moved so he was laying down and tried to sleep. But his dreams were filled with nightmarish creatures who tried to bite at his arms.


Nikolai felt like he was being watched.

He woke up and glanced at the clock on the wall. He had slept only a half hour. He rolled his eyes.

'This day will never end will it?' He thought to himself. He turned and looked towards the door expecting the nurse again. She frequently checked on him, even though his room sat right in front of the nurses station.

' Suicide watch, oh what fun.' He thought sarcasticly to himself.

But instead he found a little girl. Her hair was dull and thin. She was in normal clothing but had a hospital bracelet on her arm. In those frail tiny arms she held a small stuffed bear. Her eyes had dark circles around them and she looked thin and weak on her feet. But her eyes had a bright green child like glow, that defied the obvious illness that plagued the girl.

" Hi." She said. Her voice was small but still healthy.

" Hi." Nikolai said.

" I'm Ana." she said. " That's short for Anastasia." She said proudly.

Nikolai sat for a moment and tried to lean forward enough to see around the corner of the door to see who this little girl belonged to.

"I'm Nikolai. Its short for Nikolai." He said.

"That's funny. And that's a funny name." She said.

"Its Russian. So is Anastasia." He said.

"Oh." She said. She moved into the room more and dragged the large chair from under the T.V. and up to his bedside. It looked like it took her a lot of effort and when she finally climbed up onto the chair and sat down. She had a thin coat of sweat on her forehead.

"Why are you here?" She asked.

Nikolai hesitated.

'What the hell do I tell her? That the world is shit and I tried to kill myself?' He thought to himself.

"I...I was hurt." He said vaguely.

"How?" She asked.

"Forget about me lets talk about you." Nikolai was getting pissed. "Why are you here?" He asked trying to get the subject off him. 

"My daddy says I have tumors in my head that are making me sick." She said. She didn't seemed phased by what she had just said but Nikolai felt like an ass anyways.

"Oh.....uh....well....well where is your daddy?" He asked. Hoping to get this child away from him.

"He's at work. He has to work a lot 'cuz my doctors give me medicine but its real expensive." she said. "He tries to visit me but he has to work most of the time cuz my mommy can't work cuz shes not around anymore." She said. She hugged the bear tighter to her chest.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't have a mommy when I was growing up either." Nikolai said, he didn't know why he was telling her this.

"Really? Was your daddy nice?" she asked.

"I didn't have a daddy either." he said.

" No mommy OR daddy? Who took care of you?" She seemed surprise.

"I grew up with a different family. Who took me in." Nikolai said.

"Oh. Were they nice?" Ana asked.

"Yes. Very nice." Nikolai lied.

"That's good." Ana said and looked down at her bear.

"This is Monty." She said and held the bear out to him.

"He's cute. Did your daddy get him for you?" Nikolai asked. He didn't feel angry or depressed or hopeless when he was around Ana.

"Yeah, he always makes me feel better when I don't feel good. He's magic." She whispered the last part to him after glancing around to make sure no one heard.

" ucky you to have a magic bear." Nikolai laughed.

"Yeah, I don't let other people take him though. If they find out hes magic they might not give him back." She explained.

"Then why did you tell me? What if I try and take him?" Nikolai pointed out.

"You wouldn't do that." Ana said.

"How do you know? You just met me! You shouldn't go around trusting random strangers with your magic bear's secret." Nikolai joked.

"But your not a random stranger. Monty says your a good man and I should be friends with you. Can we be friends?" Ana asked.

Nikolai didn't know why, but he agreed.

"Sure we can." He nodded his head.

"Yay!" Ana shouted and threw her arms up. Her right one still grasping Monty.

"Ana, leave that man alone and come on. Julie is here and shes going to read a story to the other kids. Hurry up or you'll miss it." A nurse said.

"I have to go. Julie comes here sometimes and reads to us, bye!" She shouted before she ran out the door. Monty bouncing behind her as she ran.


Nikolai starred at the boring news report on T.V. He sighed and flipped it off.

'Try and stop the suicidal guy from killing himself? Yeah lets just leave him alone and bored. THAT sounds like a good idea.' Nikolai thought sourly.

As he looked around the room for the 18th time to find something to entertain him, Ana walked through the open door with Monty hugged to her chest.

"Hi Nikolai!" She said and climbed into the chair that was still next to his bedside.

"Hello, Ana." Nikolai smiled at the little girl.

"What are you doing?" Ana asked.

"Nothing." He shrugged, and glanced around the empty room.

"That sounds boring." She wrinkled her nose.

" Trust me, it is." He laughed.

"Why don't you do something then?" She asked.

" I don't have anything to do. There's nothing good on T.V." he said and nodded his head towards the television.

"Doesn't anyone come to visit you?" She asked and turned her head to the side.

Nikolai felt tears filling his eyes.

"No." He said shortly. He wanted her to leave now.

"Why not? People should visit you when your in the hospital. To make you feel better." she said and fiddled with Monty in her lap.

"I don't have anyone to visit me. I'm alone." He said and tried to shift in his bed but it was difficult without the use of his arms.

"You aren't dating anyone? My daddy tried to date someone after my mommy but they didn't like each other enough, that's what daddy told me." Ana asked.

'Jeez, whats with this kid and complicated questions?' Nikolai thought to himself.

"Well no, I don't like girls. They're yucky." He said and smiled and nudged her. She giggled.

"Neither does my daddy." She said.

'Oh, that makes things much easier.' He thought.

"So you aren't dating a man either?" She asked. Nikolai swallowed.

"I did. Not anymore though." Nikolai thought of his old love and felt the pain and hurt wash over him again.

"What happened?" Ana asked.

"It's not important." Nikolai shook his head.

"Did you two have a fight?" Ana asked.

'Do the questions ever stop?' Nikolai thought to himself.

"He didn't like me very much anymore so we thought it would be better if we didn't see each other." Nikolai cleared his throat and tried to hold back the tears.

Oh, I think he should still come to visit you." Ana said. "You shouldn't be all alone."

Nikolai smiled. "Thanks. So what are you going to do today?" Nikolai tried to change the subject.

"Nothing, Julie said she couldn't come today." Ana shrugged. "Can you tell me a story?" Ana's eyes lit up.

"I don't really know any stories that you would like." Nikolai thought for any sort of story he could use to entertain the child.

"I like all kinds of stories, please?" She whined.

"Uh, Okay. Do you know the story about..." He thought harder for a story. "Princess Anastasia?" he remembered the story had interested him when he had been in school.

"No." Ana smiled and wiggled eagerly in her chair.

"Anastasia was a Russian princess. Her father was the king of Russia and he was a good king." Nikolai started. Ana hugged Monty closer to her chest and her eyes were wide with interest.

"But there was a war going on. And Anastasia's father left to go help with the war. Far away from Russia. So he left his wife in charge of Russia while he was gone." Ana fiddled and tugged at Monty's ear as Nikolai spoke.

"But the Queen wasn't very good at leading Russia. And the people of Russia got very mad. But when the King mailed her and asked her if everything was OK, she lied and said she was doing fine." Nikolai said. Ana shook her head.

"You shouldn't lie." she said.

"Well maybe you should have told the Queen that." Nikolai smiled. Ana laughed and Nikolai continued.

"So when the King got home to Russia. The people were angry at him because they thought it was his fault. Even though he didn't know what was going on. The people got very angry, and they..." Nikolai trailed off. He didn't think he should tell Ana about the part when the entire family was brutally slaughtered.

"They were kicked out of Russia. And no one knew what happened to them. But the whole family was never seen again." Nikolai said instead.

"Even Anastasia?" Ana said. She looked shocked and sad.

"Yes, at least that's what people thought. But years later Anastasia went back to Russia. And all the people of Russia felt so bad about being mad at her Father, the king, who was such a good king. When Anastasia's father disappeared, a very mean and bad king took his place. And the people were even more unhappy. So when they saw Anastasia had returned, they made her the Queen of Russia." Nikolai sugar coated the ending for Ana.

"Was she a good queen?" Ana asked.

"The best." Nikolai nodded.

"Was she pretty?" Ana smiled.

"The prettiest." Nikolai said seriously.

"Good." Ana said. "See you can tell good stories." Ana said.

"I guess I can." Nikolai smiled.

"Nikolai, it's time for your physical therapy." A nurse interrupted their conversation.

"Sorry, kiddo. Gotta go." Nikolai said. The male nurse lifted his left arm gently and draped it over his shoulder. He helped lift Nikolai into the wheelchair.

"Damn, you would think I would stop getting dizzy every time I sit upright." Nikolai said after he was settled in the chair.

"You lost a lot of blood, that will happen for awhile." The nurse said.

"Whats physical therapy?" Ana asked. As she hopped out of her chair and walked alongside Nikolai.

"It's to help make my arms work again." Nikolai said.

" Your arms don't work?" Ana asked.

"Nope, since I got hurt I cant move them anymore." Nikolai said. Ana looked sad.

"Will you get better?" Ana asked.

Nikolai didn't know how to respond. He hadn't thought about the long term. He wasn't even supposed to be alive right now, if he had had his way.

"I hope so." He lied.


Nikolai laid back with a sigh. The physical therapy was tougher then he thought it would be. 15 minutes in and his brow was already covered in sweat and his arms were on fire with pain. But it was nothing compared to the night he had decided to end it. Nothing could compare to that pain.

At first he had refused to do anything his physical therapist had said. He didn't want to get better, he didn't want to be there, he didn't even want to be alive. Why should he waste his time trying to fix what he wanted to stay broken?

Finally the physical therapist had had enough and said if he didn't want to work then fine. But he wasn't calling anyone to take Nikolai back to his room. After half an hour of sitting looking like an idiot stranded in a wheelchair, Nikolai admitted defeat and worked hard to clench and unclench his hand.

"Nikolai!" the voice penetrated his mind which had almost drifted off to sleep. He turned his head and saw Ana skip into the room.

"Hey, kiddo." Nikolai said sleepily.

"Can you tell me another story?" Ana asked.

"Not now, Kiddo. I'm kind of tired." Nikolai yawned.

"Aw, but-"

"Sorry, Ana. But I'm really tired right now. And my arms hurt like crazy." Nikolai just wanted her to leave so he could sleep.

"OK.... You can keep Monty if you want to. He'll make you feel better." Ana said and laid Monty on Nikolai's shoulder so the bear laid in the crook of his neck.

"But you need Monty." Nikolai was touched that the little girl cared so much about him that she would lend her, what seemed, most prized possession.

"Monty says you need the help more then I do right now. And Monty's ALWAYS right." she said.

"Well...Alright, if Monty insists." Nikolai said. Ana smiled and left the room. Nikolai turned his head so he could see Monty. He smiled and began to drift off to sleep.


"So how are you today?" Henstridge asked.

I thought we got to talk about what I want to talk about." Nikolai said.

"Well, what do you want to talk about?" Henstridge asked.

Nikolai thought for a moment.

I don't know." He finally said. Henstridge nodded and scribbled something down.

"So then, how are you today?" She repeated.

Nikolai rolled his eyes. "Fine I guess." He said.

"Just fine?" Henstridge asked as she scribbled something else down.

Nikolai looked at her quietly for a second. "What do you want me to say? I tried to commit suicide not to long ago, I'm just dandy thanks." Nikolai said sarcastically.

"I suppose your right. How have things been around the hospital?" she asked.

"Fine I guess." Nikolai looked at the floor.

"Have you had any visitors?" she asked.

"My your just full of questions, aren't you." Nikolai spat at her. When she showed no signs of changing the subject or reacting to his anger he sighed.

"You know as well as anyone I have no friends or family." he said solemnly.

"That's not what your landlord told me." Henstridge said and she looked through a file that sat next to her and pulled out some papers. Nikolai frowned and looked up.

"You talked to Jackson?" he asked.

"He said that for several months a man, who he didn't know, was often seen with you going to or from your apartment." She said.

"That's Justin my boy-.....ex-boyfriend." Nikolai corrected himself mid sentence.

"You two broke up recently?" Henstridge asked.

"If your thinking I'm some pathetic loser who decides to kill himself because his boy toy left him, then your wrong." Nikolai snapped at her.

"When did you two split up?" she asked, not responding to Nikolai's anger.

"Two weeks ago." Nikolai growled. "Can we drop the subject please?" Nikolai asked.

Henstridge nodded and stared and Nikolai blankly for a moment.

"Some of the nurses mentioned little Ana has taken a shine to you." Henstridge said.

"God knows why." Nikolai snorted.

"Do you like kids?" Henstridge asked.

"No." Nikolai growled. He wanted to leave but didn't want to ask for help.

"Well you two seem to get along fine." she pointed out.

"Look I don't know she just likes me for some reason. Any chance we could get the nurses to stop breathing down my neck every second of everyday?" He tried to change the subject.

"You're on suicide watch. Its not called Suicide-let-you-do-what-ever-the-fuck-you-want happy-fun-time." Henstridge said.

"Whoa, was that a little bit of personality I saw there? Better watch it Henstridge that could get mighty dangerous." Nikolai joked.

Henstridge smiled and scribbled something down.

"Ana's a sweetheart. Her dad isn't around and from what I've seen she doesn't have any friends or family to visit her. She just wants someone to care." Nikolai said seriously.

"Like you?" Henstridge pointed out.

"Are you saying I'm a sweetheart?" Nikolai dodged the question. Henstridge smiled and wrote something down on her notepad.


Nikolai watched as the nurse changed his bandages. It had only been a week since he had woken up in the hospital and already the smaller 'tentative' cuts had almost entirely healed, and the two larger ones that were meant to end it were healing.

When she was done Nikolai flexed both of his hands and his left one closed all the way, although very weak, but his right one still did nothing.

The nurse put the old gauze into the trash and walked out of the room without saying a word. Nikolai prepared himself for the loneliness he would feel in a moment, but it didn't come. A moment after the nurse left a tall man walked into the room.

His hair was dark brown and wavy. His eyes were a familiar green that Nikolai just couldn't place. His shoulders were broad and his tight shirt showed muscle that went from his shoulders down to his arms and chest. He wasn't overly muscular and Nikolai was glad, he didn't like jocks. But it was obvious that he had a job that required muscle, he defiantly wasn't a desk-monkey.

Nikolai chuckled at the picture of the big man cramped behind a tiny desk in a tiny cubicle.

"Excuse me, I'm looking for a little girl. Shes about this tall." The man held up his hand at about thigh. "Has green eyes, carries around a tedd ybear by the name of Monty." The man smiled. Nikolai recognized the green eyes as Ana's.

"Ana?" Nikolai asked.

"Yes, the nurses said shes been hanging around in here a lot." The man said and stepped slightly more into the room now that he was sure he had the right one.

"Yeah she does." Nikolai glanced at the clock. "Actually she should be here soon. It's about now she comes dashing over here with Monty in tow." Nikolai laughed.

The man laughed and covered his face to hide a blush.

"I'm so sorry I really hope-" He stopped short when he saw the bandages around Nikolai's arms. The nurse had aggravated the cuts while changing the bandages and small red lines were now visible through the gauze. Nikolai felt ashamed and quickly turned over his arms so they were laying palm down on the bed.

"I hope she hasn't been bothering you." The man said. He tried to cover up his moment of shock, and smiled at Nikolai.

"No, shes a sweetheart. We just hang out and talk mostly." Nikolai said. The feeling of harassment and shame began receding and was replaced by a feeling Nikolai hadn't thought he could feel again, happiness.

"Good, I don't get around to seeing her much anymore. I really wish I could but I'm working all the time." He said.

"Yeah shes mentioned that. You can sit, please." Nikolai nodded his head towards the chair Ana normally sat in.

The man sat and a small silenced passed between them.

"Oh, I'm sorry I'm Clark. Ana's dad, though I think you've figured that out." The man held out his right hand and Nikolai felt the shame wash over him again when he couldn't shake it. Instead he offered his left hand and Clark adjusted to the awkward shake.

"I'm Nikolai." He introduced himself.

"Daddy?" Ana said and stood in the doorway.

"Ana-banana." Clark said and opened his arms as Ana ran into them. He scooped her up in a big hug and then bent over so she was hanging upside-down. She giggled and screeched as Clark played with her the way only a father could.

After a moment he put her down and she tried to stop the giggles that still leaked out.

"Nikolai this is my dad!" She said and climbed up onto Nikolai's bed, as they had been doing for awhile now.

"Ana..." Clark tried to stop her but when he saw Nikolai didn't mind he stayed quiet. Ana sat in his lap and played with his motionless right hand, curling and uncurling the fingers for him. The first time she had done this Nikolai had been angry but soon he adjusted and let her do what she want. It didn't hurt and it seemed to keep her busy.

"Daddy, this is Nikky." Ana said, using the pet name she had made for him. "His real name is Nikolai. I thought it was a funny name but its Russian. Daddy, you never told me Anastasia was a Russian name too. Nikky told me the story about princess Anastasia." The little girl rambled while she fumbled with Nikolai's still fingers. The sensation was odd, as he could feel her touching them but couldn't move them himself.

"Princess Anastasia?" He asked him.

"Czar Nicholas II." Nikolai clarified.

Clarks eyes grew wide and his eye brows raised as he remembered exactly what had happened.

"Isn't that a little..." He searched for the word.

Nikolai brought his left hand up to Ana's head and pushed it down so one ear was covered by his hand and one ear was pressed to his chest.

"I may have used closer to the Disney version for my story." Nikolai whispered. Clark relaxed, nodded, and smiled his thanks.

Nikolai released Ana from his weak hold and let his arm fall to the bed again.

"Daddy, Nikky likes boys too." Nikolai's eyes went wide and he blushed.

"Ana." He grumbled. Clark blushed also and smiled at him.

"Must have done a lot of talking." Clark joked. Nikolai blushed harder and looked down embarrassed.

"Nikolai, its time for your session with Dr. Nelson." A nurse walked into the room with an orderly.

"Damn I haven't had this many people in my room since I've gotten here. I'm definitely complaining to customer service about this by the way. Don't think I wont let this go." Nikolai said as the orderly stood nearby as Nikolai sat in the chair. It still took him a lot of energy to do simple tasks.

"Oh come on now Nikolai don't give us trouble. I've had a long day." The nurse growled and glared at him.

"Then how bout you go away and I'll stay here and sleep. Sounds like a plan to me." Nikolai said.

Clark raised an eyebrow at the smaller man. The short conversation they had had was pleasant and Nikolai seemed sweet and quiet. Now the man was full of anger and sarcasm to anyone who was close enough to vent at.

"I don't care what you want Nikolai. All I know is that this time your going to stay in there for more then 15 minutes." The orderly threw in as they walked out the door.

"Bye, Nikky!" Ana shouted from the room.

"Bye." He turned and smiled back at her.


Nikolai scowled at the orderly until the door was shut behind him.

"Man all this anger really takes a lot out of you." Nikolai sighed dramatically.

"Why do you do that?" Henstridge asked.

"Do what." Nikolai looked at her quizzically.

"Dodge questions, emotions, feelings, with sarcasm, rudeness or jokes." She said.

"My apologies doctor how would you like me to act?" He rolled his eyes.

"That's exactly what I'm talking about. It's not, by the way, what I want you to act like its about expressing what you feel inside, not hiding it." Henstridge pointed out.

"Getting right down to business today aren't we?" Nikolai smiled.

"Your doing it again." She pointed out.

"What? What do you want? You want me to burst into tears about how I want to kill myself because I wasn't loved enough as a child? How I have abandonment issues because my father was too drunk to care and my mother just didn't want me? How I have no friends or family? How my boyfriend left me because I wasn't 'pure' enough for him? Well its not going to happen. I had a good foster family, with lots of money who gave me everything I wanted as long as I stayed out of their way and shut up when it was time to shut up." Nikolai's anger flared.

Five minutes in and he was already ready to leave.

Henstridge stayed quiet through Nikolai's rant. After a moment his anger began to cool and his breathing evened out. He looked down at the floor a stayed silent.

"That's what I want. I want you to express your emotions and feelings. Even if its in a negative way. Do you feel better now?" Henstridge asked him.

Believe it or not he did feel a lot better. But he didn't want to admit it to her.

"No." He lied.

"You said your foster family was rich and gave you what you wanted. As long as you stayed quiet and 'out of the way' as you put it." She repeated what he had said.

"Yeah so?" he muttered.

"So I think one of your biggest problems is that as a child your emotions and creativity were stifled. Did you do any sort of activities that you enjoyed? Sports, art, music?" Henstridge asked, as she scratched down some notes.

Nikolai thought about giving a snide remark back but thought better of it.

"I played the violin, and piano. My foster parents said it would make me fit in with them more." Nikolai said honestly.

"So they tried to change you then. Why did they take you in?" She asked.

"My foster father was a wealthy business man. It looked good in front of people. The money, the power, the perfect children, and the heart to take in a boy who had no parents." he muttered. He felt tired and drained after his outburst.

"I see. Did you enjoy it?" She asked.

"What?" Nikolai looked up.

"The violin, and piano. Did you enjoy the music you played. Or just the instruments in general." She said waving her pencil around as she spoke.

"I never chose what I played but yeah I did love playing. I felt...." He trailed off.

"Go ahead." She urged him on.

"I felt special. It was something that my brothers and sisters couldn't do, or couldn't do well. But that I could. Something that made me...." He searched for a word.

"Stand out." Henstridge suggested.

"Yeah." He agreed.

"I think that's enough for today. You made extraordinary progress Nikolai. I'm quite impressed by your sudden change." She said.

"Thanks, I think. Can I go now I'm tired." He said.

"Yes, of course." She stood and walked to the door and called for the orderly who wheeled him back to his room. The room was empty but there was a note left on the chair with Monty guarding it faithfully.

Once Nikolai was settled into the bed he reached over and grabbed the note and the bear.

Nikky I know you get sad after you go talk to that lady So I desidid you shood have Monty for when you go back. I hope he makes you feal beter daddy said we wod be back later and I cud see you later. So I will see you later.

The note was written in uneven, hardly legible hand writing and was 'signed' Ana. He smiled and was surprised when he felt hot tears sting his eyes and began crying quietly to himself until he fell asleep.


"Nikky, Nikky!" He was woken by the tiny bouncing on his bed. He opened his eyes to see Ana bouncing on the bed and her father looking embarrassed behind her.

"Good morning to you too, short stuff." Nikolai grunted as she pounced on his stomach.

"Ana be careful." Clark said, reaching a hand out to her when she accidentally hit Nikolai's right arm. He grunted with pain.

"It's fine. It's an improvement actually, at least I can feel it now." Nikolai mumbled Clark looked at him silently. He looked like he wanted to say something but was interrupted by Ana before he could.

"Do you have Monty?" She asked.

"Sure do. He kept me safe all night, thank you." Nikolai said. He shifted so Monty could be seen under the covers and Ana grabbed him.

"You left Monty here?" Clark asked, surprised.

"Nikolai always gets sad after he goes and talks to that pretty lady. I wanted Monty to make him happy." Ana looked up at Clark.

"She's never given Monty to anyone before." Clark said to Nikolai. Nikolai just shrugged and looked around.

"Alright, everyone out. Time to change the bandages." The nurse came in, making shooing motions at everyone.

"Aw, you talk so sexy to me. Lets run away together." Nikolai rolled his eyes. The nurse glared at him and ripped a bandage off. 

"Ow!" Nikolai shouted.

"Sorry, did that hurt? Maybe you shouldn't have sliced yourself open in the first place." She rolled her eyes. Nikolai glared at her and let her do her work while Clark and Ana waited outside. They heard Nikolai shout several times. And when the nurse finally opened the door and left they could still hear him shouting.

"I'll report you for this! This could be slowing my recovery. I think you did some serious damage, You're paying for my surgery!" Nikolai shouted louder the farther away she got. Clark raised an eyebrow at the angry man.

"You have to get surgery?" He sat down in a chair.

"They don't know. I'm not healing as well as they'd hoped. Thanks to SOMEONE." He glared at the nurse who flipped him off while she flipped through a magazine, not even looking up from the article.

"Is she allowed to do that!" He gestured with a motionless hand. He sighed and shook his head.

"Ana, sweety. It's about time for your story yeah? Why don't you run off, I want to talk to Nikolai." Clark said. Nikolai gave a curious glare at him while Ana ran off.

"So?" He said when they were alone.

"I love my daughter more than anything. I don't want her getting hurt. I see how you act around other people, if you ever treat her like that..." Clark said.

"She's a child, even I'm not that much of a dick." Nikolai spat at him.

"Right." Clark said like he wasn't sure. Nikolai rolled his eyes and looked anywhere but at Clark.

"I should go, I have work to do." Clark stood and began leaving. Nikolai watched him leave silently.


"So you really believe your boyfriend leaving you had nothing to do with your attempt?" Henstridge asked.

"He wasn't that great." Nikolai shrugged.

"You said the other day that he left you because you weren't.... what word did you use.... 'pure' enough. What did you mean by that?" Henstridge asked.

"Nothing." Nikolai felt his heart ache. Henstridge stared at him a moment before putting down the pen and clipboard.

"You made so much progress before. I don't want us to be going backwards here." She said.

"Can we just change the subject please?" Nikolai sighed. His arms hung limp in his lap, elbows resting on the arms of the wheelchair.

"Okay, can we talk about your foster family again?" Henstridge asked.

"Sure. Whatever." Nikolai shrugged.

"Did your brothers and sisters get along with you?" She asked, picking up her clipboard again.

"I guess, we weren't best friends but they weren't mean or anything." Henstridge nodded and wrote something down.

"And your foster parents? We already talked about your foster father trying to change you to perfect his image, what about your foster mother?" 

"She was just with my foster dad for his money, she didn't care about any of her kids." Nikolai shrugged.

"That must have been tough. Going through two families who didn't really love you." 

"I survived. I made something of myself. I got a job and a home. Supported myself. Got and kept a boyfriend. Tons of people have families that don't love them. And they get by just fine." Nikolai said. Henstridge nodded and thought for a moment.

"Then what made you do it? You don't seem to broken over your complex childhood. Or your boyfriend leaving you. It's got to be why he left you then." Henstridge said.

"I said I didn't want to talk about it." Henstridge stared at him silently while he sulked.

"Then I don't see the point of this! You wont talk to me about what is causing you all this pain. If you don't talk then I cant help you!" She threw her arms up.

"Then why am I here..." 

"We are going in circles here Nikolai." She stood and walked over to him.

"I don't want to be here!" He was almost shouting now.

"Then leave. Why don't you want help? Don't you want to be happy?!" She yelled at him. Tears fell from his eyes and he felt his cheeks flush at the embarrassment of crying in front of her. She stared at him silently, waiting for an answer. He sobbed quietly to himself for a moment before nodding. She sighed and sat back down. She waited patiently while he choked and sobbed until the tears stopped falling.

"He left me because I had sex with someone else." Nikolai whispered.

"You cheated on him." Henstridge said. Nikolai shook his head and tried to keep the tears back.

"What do you mean you had sex with someone else? That's cheating." She said. Nikolai almost began sobbing again. He lifted his useless arm and wiped tears away with a limp hand.

"I didn't want to." He sobbed. Henstridge thought for a moment before it dawned on her.

"You were raped." She said. He lost it then and began sobbing uncontrollably. The sobs fell over his body in waves. He felt embarrassed and weak for crying in front of this woman. He couldn't breathe and was gasping for air between sobs.

"Nikolai you need to calm down. You lost a lot of blood remember? You cant get out of breath like this." She knelt in front of him. She paged for an nurse who came in immediately. She wheeled him back to his room where he tried to fight off the helping hands. Eventually they managed to get an oxygen mask over his face as he was just about to pass out. He yanked at the restraints around his wrists and feet until the last moment of wakefulness. 


He woke up the next morning and his arms throbbed like nothing before. He looked at the bandages and saw the red lines the indicated his cuts.

"You tore your stitches." The nurse said as she fiddled with his pain medicine. "You have surgery scheduled for later." She said. Nikolai said nothing and only looked at his arms, held down by the restraints. He yanked at the one keeping his right arm down but it did no good. He relaxed and sat there.

"Hi Nikky!" Ana came strolling in with Monty in tow. He didn't feel like talking to the little girl today and just closed his eyes.

"What's wrong?" Ana asked, as the nurse left. Nikolai sighed.

'Maybe if I don't say anything she'll just go away.' He thought.

"Are you sick? Monty will make you better." he opened his eyes to see her frowning with worry. She put Monty down next to his head and stroked his hair. This little girl who hardly knew him treated him better then almost anyone ever had. Tears came to his eyes and he let her pet him gently. She hugged him and 'Shh'd him like a little girl playing with her doll.

"Ana." Clark walked in. Nikolai attempted to wipe away the tears that stained his face but was only met with jerk of restraints around his wrists. He growled audibly and fought with the restraints some more.

"Could we get these fucking things off?" he shouted at the nurse. Who walked in from the nurses station.

"No. Not after last night." She shook her head. He began cursing at her in fluent Russian.

"I don't know what you just said, honey. But you better knock it off or I WILL sedate you." She pointed a finger in his face. He glared at her as she left and gave one last tug of his restraints, before looking down at his lap. Embarrassed.

"What are you doing here? I thought you worked a lot or something." Nikolai asked, without looking up.

"I do, but I have a few days off and like to spend it here with my daughter." Clark explained. Nikolai nodded in understanding. 

"I'm sorry about that." Nikolai said quietly.

"What did she mean 'not after last night'?" Clark asked.

"Nothing, I just got pissed off." Nikolai shrugged.

"Yeah, cuz that's unusual." Clark laughed. Nikolai glared at him before giving in and smiling. Clark, Nikolai, and Ana continued to talk for a little while before the nurse came in, telling Nikolai they had to sedate him and prep him for surgery. He shrugged and let them do whatever they wanted. He found that he was quickly becoming less concerned about what happened to him. He felt like a moody teenager most of the time. Just thinking that everything.....sucked.

The feeling of fading out into the drug induced black void for his surgery was the first feeling of peace Nikolai had felt since first waking up in the hospital.

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