New Winslow S6E2
“You’re out of New Winslow.”
There was silence in the hospital room for a beat, as Celine slid her hand into Roman’s. He took one breath, then another.
Then the machine beside him rang out a sharp alarm, the sound so loud in Celine’s ears that she almost couldn’t hear Roman’s voice. “No, no no no no no,” he moaned softly, squeezing his eyes shut and shaking his head. “No, no, it’s not-”
Maybe it had been a mistake to tell him so soon. She knew it, she knew this wasn’t safe. “Rome,” she said, trying to get his attention. “Roman!”
“It’s not, it’s not…”
He was hyperventilating, and the nurse pushed gently past Celine. “It’s alright, Mr. Beckett,” she said as she injected something into his IV line. “You need to calm down, everything is alright. I’m giving you something that will help you relax, alright?”
He wasn’t speaking now, just gripping Celine’s hand with his eyes squeezed shut, shaking his head. But a few seconds later, just as Celine was getting genuinely afraid, his grip loosened and the ringing alarm faded back into a gradually slowing heart rate.
“It’s too dangerous for him to get that worked up right now,” the nurse said. “Heart needs to rest.”
“I should have waited,” Celine said, feeling her own tears forming. “It was too soon.”
“He would have figured it out anyway,” the nurse said with a smile. “Twenty years?”
Did all the nurses here know about New Winslow? “Twenty-two.”
They looked back at Roman, who was lying back against the pillow, eyes closed and breathing easily now. The older doctor said something about coming back later and walked out with the other nurse. The young doctor, the one who had tried so hard to be in control, stopped to adjust Roman’s pillow, then smiled at Celine and followed after the others.
“I know you’ve been here the past couple days,” the remaining nurse said. “You should go home and get some rest.”
“He’s not going to notice. I hit him with the good stuff,” the nurse said with a gentle laugh. “How many kids do you have?”
“Three,” Celine replied.
“Then go home for them, if not for yourself. He’s alright, we’ll take good care of him.”
Celine nodded, unable to speak without crying. The nurse patted her shoulder, then walked out of the room as Celine swallowed down her tears.
“Hey, Rome?” she said softly.
He didn’t answer as she took his hand again. “I need to go home for a little while,” she said. “But I’ll be back later tonight.”
He didn’t respond, but did squeeze her hand lightly. “I love you,” she said.
“Love you…” he whispered back.
The last thing she wanted to do right now was leave him. But the nurse was right. She had three children at home who were going to need her. She had to go.
Celine leaned over and kissed him softly on his stubbled cheek. Then she reluctantly turned and walked out of the room.
Dr. Degas had had to leave the night before, but said to call when Roman woke up. Celine called her from the waiting room.
“How is he?” Dr. Degas asked as Celine heard her walking through what she assumed was the clinic.
“He knows,” she said through the lump in her throat. “I told him and he had to be sedated. I should have waited, but the doctor told him he was in Athol and I couldn’t not tell him.”
A door creaked open on Dr. Degas’s end. “He was going to find out,” she said.
She sounded tired. “Are you alright?” Celine asked.
Dr. Degas gave a little laugh. “I’m alright.”
Celine must have been quiet for a beat too long because then Dr. Degas sighed. “This shouldn’t have had to happen,” she said. “I’ve been after the town for years to figure this out and they’ve ignored it every single time because it’s not them who’s dying in my exam room.”
Celine’s already sour stomach twisted. “I’m so sorry,” Dr. Degas said suddenly. “That was completely unprofessional of me.”
“No, you’re right,” Celine said, hating how her voice shook.
“Do you have a ride home?” Dr. Degas asked. “I can call someone for you.”
Celine was about to say she’d do it herself, but the idea of picking up the phone and calling anybody else, figuring out a single other thing right now, seemed impossible. “Thank you,” she said instead.
“Get some rest,” Dr. Degas said. “I’ll check in with you and Roman later, alright?”
“Dr. Degas?” Celine started.
“Thank you. For everything.”
“It’s my…” Dr. Degas started, trailing off. Then she cleared her throat. “I’m just so glad it worked.”
They hung up a moment later and Celine sat down in an uncomfortable waiting room chair. She wasn’t going to go to sleep when she got home, as tempting as it was to think so. The kids needed her right now. Jamie was babysitting the little ones, now that she’d sent Noah home. But Aidan and Abby were probably confused and frightened after spending the night with a stranger. Celine trusted Noah, he was so involved with Olivia’s daughter and she trusted Olivia’s judgment. But her babies didn’t know him. And Jamie knew exactly what was going on, he was going to need her too.
She tried hard not to nod off in the waiting room and had almost lost the fight completely when the sliding doors opened and Charlie Gulbenkian walked in. “Celine?” he said.
She opened her eyes and looked up at him. “Charlie? What are you doing here?”
“Dr. Degas called me. I’m here to pick you up.”
Celine stood up on wobbly legs and walked over, throwing her arms around him. “Thank you, Charlie.”
“How is he?”
“He’s okay. Just needs rest. I’m going to come back tonight, but they kicked me out for a little while.”
She followed him out into the freezing winter air. Charlie didn’t say anything when Celine burst into the tears the second the car started. He just rubbed her shoulder softly with one hand while steering with the other, watching the road as he drove her home.
Roman was awake when Celine came back later that night. She’d been hoping to get back to the hospital before he woke up, so that she could be there while he processed his new situation. But between taking care of the kids, figuring out the House of Pizza on the phone with Tatiana, and an unintended – but clearly necessary – hour-long nap, she had taken a lot longer than she planned to. She walked in to see Roman upright against the raised hospital bed with an untouched supper tray on the table in front of him. He looked older than forty-four, his eyes rimmed with dark circles as he stared down at the food containers.
“Hey Rome,” she said softly.
He looked over, and his eyes widened. “Celine?”
“I’m sorry, I tried to get here earlier,” she said, setting down the bag she was carrying. “How are you?”
“I’m…I was scared it was a dream,” he breathed.
He looked into the distance and she realized he was still somewhat sedated. “I thought maybe I dreamed everything,” he continued, pushing a tea bag listlessly across the small table. “That once I was out of town, none of it was real.”
“Oh, hon,” she said, sitting down gently beside him and taking his hand. “No, no, it’s okay. We’re still here, I promise. Me and Jamie and Aidan and Abby, we’re here.”
He wasn’t looking at her, but he was gripping her hand now. “You’re safe,” she continued. “You had a heart attack, do you remember?”
Roman nodded slightly. “How did I get here?” he asked, his voice almost a whisper.
“No,” he said, turning to look her in the eye. “I mean, how did I get here?”
“I don’t know,” Celine admitted. “We knew it was a gamble, but it worked. You could pass the town line and we haven’t figured out why yet.”
He nodded again, movements slow and choppy. “I know it’s a lot,” she said. “We’ll take it slow, I promise.”
She carefully slid onto the bed beside him, wrapping an arm gingerly behind his shoulders. He melted against her, resting his head on her shoulder.
“Get some rest,” she said. “I’ll be right here.”
“Celine?” Roman whispered.
“Are the kids okay?”
She nodded against the top of his head. “Yeah,” she whispered. “Everybody’s fine.”
“I was…I was out with…Noah, I think,” Roman continued. “I told him I was fine.”
“You obviously weren’t.”
“Someone was watching me. I could feel it.”
Celine raised her eyebrows, looking down at him. His hair was messy, even at the short length he kept it trimmed to. She glanced over at the monitors, where neon lines thrummed steadily along. “Who was it?” she asked.
Maybe it was the drugs now or the proximity to death then making him hallucinate. Or maybe there was an answer to the question she might ask for the rest of her life. Roman was silent, and she thought for a second that he might be asleep. But then he took a deep breath.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Do you think that’s how I got out?”
She wasn’t discussing this with him right now. Not when the last big revelation had nearly killed him. “I don’t know.”
“Are the kids okay?”
Celine smiled against his hair. “They are,” she promised again.
“I love you.”