A tall, lanky young man sat in a hard chair by the bed. He studied the cracks in the yellowed linoleum tiled floor. He took no notice of the hiss of the ventilator or the hum of other various life support machines. He had been sitting there too long to take notice anymore. His large hand encased a frail one. A hand that used to hold the strength of the world in it, at least that's what it had seemed like to a young boy. Sometimes that strength had been abusive, but that didn't seem to matter much anymore. Soft footsteps approached the bed. Another fuckin' nurse, he thought, here to poke and prod. A gentle voice reached his ears, causing him to look up. It was Olivia, the only nice person in this whole fuckin' place. She was the only nurse who took the time to talk to his father, to treat him like a human being. And for that he was grateful.
She leaned over his father, wiping his face gently with a damp cloth, and then pulling a comb from her pocket, neatened his hair a bit. She murmured to her patient, nonsense mostly, but his eyes followed her, letting her know that he was listening. The young man detected a new bruise on her arm. She always seemed to have them. He wondered briefly about it but dismissed it from his mind. She was not his concern.
"Sir," Olivia said softly. "Sir?" Not getting a response, she tried again. "Wace?" The young man sitting next to her patient finally looked up. "We need to increase the dosage of his medication." He stared blankly at her. "I wanted to let you know what we're doing."
"Oh, ok, fine," he growled. "Pump him full of fuckin' drugs till he can't even remember his own name. What do I care?" He came out of the chair and paced around the room. He looked down at the small hand placed on his arm. More bruises ran up the inside of her arm, he noticed.
"I wouldn't let them give it to him if that were the case."
He smiled weakly. "I know. I know you wouldn't. Thank you." He returned to his bedside post, and she left the room. He could see the rebuke in his father's eyes. "Sorry, Dad. I know she's the only nice nurse here. I'll be better, I promise." Sometimes he hated how even still, his father could make him feel like a little child with just a look.
Time passed. Wace was sure it had. The only way to tell was by the waning sunlight that wove its way through the dingy blinds on the window. Everything here was dingy and old, yellowed and tired. He stared at his father who seemed to be sleeping peacefully and let his mind wander, til it settled on Olivia. She had probably been pretty once, but this place had sucked the life out of her, as it was doing to him. How she managed to be so sweet was beyond him. Truthfully, she was the only bright spot in this dreary existence. And that wasn't saying a whole lot.
She came back in, quietly checking monitors and IVs. Wace watched her. Her hair was up in a twist but tendrils had straggled free. Her face wore a tired expression when she thought no one was looking. Her uniform had, in the course of the day, become stained with who knew what. But it fit her nice, he noticed. She actually had a trim little figure underneath the ugly white dress. Her duties done, she padded from the room. Wace glanced at the sleeping man on the bed, and then followed her out.
She stopped at the desk and dropped off her charts, and continued on down the hallway to an exit that led to an alley behind the building. He hung behind waiting to see where she was going; she went outside. Wace pushed the door open and found her leaning against the building, lighting up a cigarette.
"Don't y'know those'll kill ya'?" he sneered. She looked up, surprised.
"Oh it's you." She took a deep drag. "Maybe it'll speed the process." She added, under her breath, "If I'm lucky."
Wace took the cigarette from her and pulled on it, then exhaled. "No more nice nurse, eh? You come out here, and you're just like the rest of them."
"Listen," her eyes shot sparks, "I did not invite you out here. Truthfully, I wish you'd leave. I come here to be alone. Why don't you get the fuck outta here!"
Wace threw the butt on the ground. "So you can be nice to the old guys in the beds, but not to me? Wheres the fuckin' little miss angel of mercy now?" He grabbed her arms, pulled her flush against him. "Why can't you show me some mercy?" he asked as he claimed her lips with his. Olivia struggled briefly but Wace was surprised when she stopped and responded to him. Her arms snaked around his neck and she kissed him back. He pushed her back against the wall, reached down and dragged her skirt up. She fumbled with his pants, getting them undone and reaching in. He gasped as her hand closed around his cock. Impatient, he ripped a hole in her tights and buried a long finger into her. She was wet and ready. She pushed his jeans past his hips and he lifted her. Wrapping her legs around him and reaching down, she guided him in. It was a frantic, desperate fuck, leaving them both panting and sweaty. Neither one said a word when it was over. They just straightened their clothing and Wace went back inside.
It was two days before he saw her again. Another nurse had been coming in. This one did not speak and just looked at both of them with contempt. But then Olivia was back. She didn't even look at him when she brought his father's lunch to him. That was another good thing about Olivia. She brought decent food, not that beige shit that the rest of them called food. Wace saw the new bruise under the makeup. The purple mark spread across her cheekbone. She left before he could say anything. He also saw something else he hadn't seen before, her wedding ring. Now he was confused, and angry.
He waited outside the alley door for her, knowing she'd appear eventually. She had taken one step out when he grabbed her. He was going to yell at her, demand to know why she had fucked him if she was married, but as soon as he touched her, all he wanted was to be inside her again.
Her eyes opened wide in shock when Wace grabbed her. She swallowed her scream when she recognized who it was. He took hold of her hips and pulled her into him. Her hands tangled in his hair as they fed off each other. Olivia found herself pressed against the wall once again, Wace pumping inside her until they both exploded in orgasm. He didn't leave her right away, but leaned his forehead against hers.
"Why?" he asked, but without the anger he felt earlier. "Why are you screwing me when you're married?"
Olivia's eyes slid away. She was silent for a moment, trying to find words to explain. "My husband," she gulped and started again. "My husband doesn't want me." Tears spilled down her cheeks.
"Fuck." Wace turned away from her. "I got enough problems of my own without dealin' with yours. Stay the hell away from me." Olivia slid down the wall into the filth of the alley, stunned at his rejection.
For a week, Olivia tended to his father but did not acknowledge his presence in the room. Wace would watch her from hooded eyes, cataloging every movement, and every new bruise. His father was not oblivious to the tension. In a pained whisper, he asked his son what was going on between the two of them. Wace denied any involvement, but could not meet the knowing eyes that fixed on him. The older man tried to pry it out of Olivia one afternoon when Wace had left but was just as unsuccessful with her.
But the silence between them was broken one morning. Olivia came into the room on rounds and tended to her duties as usual. But in the weak morning light, Wace realized she was holding herself stiffly upright. Her breathing was short and shallow. She finished her tasks and left before he could inquire about it. His father motioned him close and murmured in his ear for him to find out what was wrong with her. Wace had taken note of the uncharacteristic tenderness his father had for the young woman, and when asked, his father just shrugged; maybe it was her kindness; maybe it was the knowing that his life was so short.
When a quick search of the floor turned up nothing, Wace ducked out into the alley. Sure enough, Olivia leaned against the wall, a cigarette in one hand, the other hugging her side. Wariness crept into her eyes when she spied him, but she didn't move. He stopped right in front of her. "What the hell's wrong with you?" he spat out. She ignored him, just took those shallow breaths. He tried again with a little less venom in his voice. "What happened?"
She exhaled carefully. "I fell."
"You fell." It wasn't a question. A frown creased his forehead. The disbelief was evident in his voice. "You must be real clumsy then." He grabbed her arm and turned it so that the black and blue mark on her inner arm faced up. "And did you get this from falling?"
She pulled her arm from his grip. "No, I hit the edge of my desk." Pleading eyes turned up to his. "Please don't ask me any more questions." She fled through the door, escaping the intensity of his gaze. Wace didn't see her for the rest of the day.