Cast Me Gently Into Morning by: Kelli
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Author’s Note: Thanks to all who have been reading and reviewing this story. I’m glad that you like it. I have a lot more planned, so I hope you will stick around for it. I also need to say thanks to Jen for being a great beta and giving me great advice. I couldn’t do this without you! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy it!
Cast Me Gently Into Morning
Everything was dark again. Joey hated the darkness. It consumed her, surrounding her and holding her down. She wanted to get up and step into the light. She sensed it was there. She just had to try a little harder, and she would be there.
She knew someone was with her because she could hear snatches of a conversation between a man and a woman whose voices were vaguely familiar to her…
"…just in shock…concussion…can’t believe she’s been asleep for almost twenty-four hours …"
"…holding his own…hasn’t woken up since the surgery…just have to wait now…"
"…mom and Gretchen are coming tomorrow…Jack and Jen know…Jen feels like it’s her fault…
"…very lucky someone came along when they did…apparently she fought them…kept screaming she didn’t want to leave Pacey…"
She heard his name, and that was enough to bring her out of the darkness. She couldn’t remember why, but she knew Pacey needed her.
Upon hearing her sister struggling to speak, Bessie ran to her bedside. "Hey, Jo," she whispered taking her hand.
Joey blinked her eyes and tried to adjust them to the soft light in the room. She focused on the voice in front of her. "B-Bessie?"
"Yes, it’s me, sis." She stroked Joey’s forehead lovingly, brushing a few pieces of hair from her eyes.
"Where…am I? And why do I feel like I’ve been hit by a Mac truck?"
"You’re in the hospital, Jo."
"Hospital? Why am I in the hospital?"
"There was an accident last night." Bessie quickly grabbed her hand and squeezed it when she saw Joey’s eyes widen in horror. "Don’t panic," she reassured her. "You’re okay. You were in shock and have a mild concussion. And you had a pretty nasty cut on your leg. You’ve been out of it since they brought you in last night." She hesitated, unsure of how to tell her the next part. "And Pacey…he’s…"
"Pacey!" She bolted upright despite the pounding in her head, ignoring the room whirling around her. Now she remembered; Pacey was hurt, and he needed her! "I have to get to Pacey!"
Bessie grabbed Joey’s arm and tried to push her back onto the bed. "Joey, calm down! You need to rest. You have a concussion and…"
"I don’t care!" Joey pushed Bessie’s hands off of her with a strength that startled Bessie. She didn’t think Joey would have the energy to fight her. "I have to see Pacey!" She tried swinging her legs over the side of the bed, but Bessie blocked her. "Bessie! Get out of my way!"
"Joey." She felt a hand rest awkwardly on her leg. It was Doug. "The best thing you can do for Pacey is stay in bed. You know it’s what he’d want you to do."
"No, it’s not!" She shoved his hand away. "He would want me with him! We promised! We said we wouldn’t leave each other! So, where is he Doug? Where is he? I swear if you don’t take me to him right now I’m getting out of this bed, even if I have to knock you both out in the process, and I’m going to search this hospital like a crazy woman until I find him!" Her brown eyes flashed with anger and a fiery determination as she clenched her fist in frustration. Bessie and Doug were taken aback as she yelled at them. It was clear that she wasn’t taking no for an answer.
A nurse, who heard the shouting, came running into the room. "Is everything alright in here?" Then she noticed Joey was awake. "Oh, she’s finally awake!"
Bessie turned to answer, but Joey cut her off. "Yes, I am, and everything’s fine. I’m fine!" She threw her arms in the air, her voice rising with emotion. "At least I will be once these two take me to Pacey," she said anxiously, gesturing to Bessie and Doug.
The nurse didn’t seem to understand her. She stepped closer to the bed. "Ma’am, if you’re upset we can give you some medicine to help you calm do-…"
"No!" Joey banged her hands down on the bed causing the nurse to jump back in fright. "I DON’T want any medicine to CALM me down! I have to stay awake, for Pacey! Now, is someone going to take me to Pacey, or do I have to find him myself?"
Bessie exchanged a wary look with Doug before turning to Joey and sighing. "Okay, we’ll take you to Pacey." She knew her stubborn sister wouldn’t give up until they did. She turned to the nurse, smiling apologetically. "Could you get us a wheel chair?"
"Sure," she said as she headed for the door.
"Thank you," Joey said in a softer voice. She smoothed her hair down and inhaled deeply, attempting to get a hold of herself. She held her hands out in front of her and watched as they trembled uncontrollably.
Bessie took both of her hands, squeezing them tightly to steady them. "It’s okay, Joey," she murmured. "He’s okay."
"Really?" She asked, her voice shaking just as much as her hands. She looked back and forth between Doug and Bessie.
Doug nodded. "He’s stable right now, but he had some pretty extensive injuries."
Joey cast her eyes downward as she pictured how he looked after the accident. "I know."
The nurse entered the room, pushing a wheel chair in front of her.
"Thank you," Bessie smiled at her.
"You’re welcome. Do you need me to help you?"
"No. We can do it," Doug answered.
"Okay. Call me if you need anything."
They both nodded. "You ready, Jo?" Doug asked as Bessie stood away from the bed to give Joey room.
Joey thought Doug was going to help her walk to the wheel chair, but instead he reached down and swiftly picked her up, carrying her carefully to the chair. Bessie grabbed the IV pole that was attached to Joey’s arm and followed him as he sat her down lightly.
"Okay, let’s go," Doug said as he clutched the handles and guided her to the door with Bessie close behind. He wheeled her to the elevators and pushed the button for the fifth floor, Intensive Care Unit.
The three rode the elevator in silence, but Doug and Bessie kept glancing at each other worriedly. They had both seen Pacey and were afraid of how Joey was going to react to him when she did. The elevator came to a stop and the doors opened. They filed out of the elevator. A nurse looked up at them from her station about to say that visiting hours were over when she recognized Doug. She knew he was here for his brother. "Hello," she said softly. "How can I help you?"
"I was wondering if it was ok if I brought Pacey’s friend to see him." He rested his arms on Joey’s shoulders as he spoke. "She was in the accident with him, and needs to see for herself how he’s doing."
The nurse glanced at the distraught girl seated in the wheel chair. "I think that would be alright. Just don’t stay for very long."
"Thank you," Doug said as he maneuvered the chair away from the nurses’ station and down the hall. He stopped in front of Pacey’s room.
Doug crouched down in front of her. "I have to warn you, Jo, he doesn’t look good. He has a collapsed lung and a deep laceration on his forehead. His left hip was dislocated, which the doctor’s say is actually common in car accidents. In addition to the dislocation, he has a fracture in the same leg. They had to do surgery to repair it, and now he has pins holding it in place, and a cast on it. He also had some type of a head injury, although I’m not sure what they called it at this point, but they say it may be some time before he wakes up. The doctors say that all we can do now is wait."
Joey swallowed down the anxiety in her throat that was building with each word Doug spoke. She could only nod in response. "But he is going to wake up, right?" she asked when he was finished.
Doug looked at Bessie for help.
"Um, they don’t know for sure, Jo," Bessie said fighting back the tears that were suddenly in her eyes. "Like Doug said, we’re just going to have to wait and see."
Joey closed her eyes and gripped the arms of the wheel chair to steady herself, her knuckles turning white in response. "Please take me to him now."
Doug opened the door to Pacey’s room and pushed her slowly inside, Bessie walked quietly behind them.
The room was dimly lit and eerily quiet, except for the pulsated beeping coming from a monitor by the bed. The air was stale and cold, and it caused Joey to shiver. Her head was bowed, but she forced herself to look up as Doug came to a stop in front of Pacey’s bed.
Joey’s heart broke into a million pieces and her world came crashing down around her again for the second time in twenty-four hours as she took in the broken man before her. It was worse than Doug described. The man in front of her did not look like Pacey. He was ghostly white and it looked like the life had been drained right out of him. White bandages were wound tightly around his head, covering the wavy brown hair that she used to love to run her fingers through. His eyes were shut tightly, not allowing her access to the sapphire in them that could always calm her. His lips were pale and motionless with no smile on them to make her heart flutter. He had a tube sticking out of the side of his chest, right in the area where Joey assumed his big heart was beating, a heart that he had given to her a long time ago without reservation; a heart that she had broken. She stared down at the pins sticking out of the cast that covered his upper left leg, wondering how a leg that was once so strong now was held together with metal.
She studied him, trying to find any signs that the man she loved was still in the body that lay motionless before her. Her heart stopped when she couldn’t.
A heart-wrenching sob that she had been trying to choke back ever since she woke up escaped from her throat. "Pacey," she sobbed putting her head in her hands, her body shaking with emotion. Doug and Bessie flew to her side. Doug grabbed one hand while Bessie took the other.
"It’s going to be okay, sis," Bessie soothed as she stroked her hair. "Now do you understand why we didn’t want you to see him? Please let us take you back to your room."
"No!" Her head shot up and she glared at them. "I will not leave him!"
"No! You’re not going to get me to leave, so just quit trying now. I am not moving from this spot until he wakes up!"
"Joey…" Doug tried.
Doug bowed his head in defeat and looked at Bessie helplessly. She shook her head sadly, signaling it was no use.
"Okay," Bessie sighed. "We’ll leave you alone with him, but we’ll be right down the hall in the waiting room if you need us. Just push the call button for the nurse."
Joey nodded, not taking her eyes from Pacey. Doug and Bessie slipped quietly out of the room.
When they were alone, Joey gathered all of her courage and reached for Pacey’s hand. She was determined to be strong for him. She took his hand in hers and spoke to him softly, her voice full of love.
"Pace, it’s Jo. I just wanted to let you know that I’m here, and I’m not leaving until you wake up. I promise I won’t leave you, just like you promised me. Remember that? You promised that you wouldn’t leave me. I know you’re not one to break a promise, which is why you need to wake up now. You can’t leave me, or you’ll be breaking your promise."
Joey waited, hoping to hear him say he hadn’t forgotten his promise, but was met with only the beeping of the monitor.
She clasped her hands over his cold clammy one, brought it to her lips and bowed her head. Her mind filled with thoughts of Pacey – All the insults they’d traded over the years; their first kiss, their second kiss, and all the kisses he never gave her; his laugh; his smile; his voice that sounded like heaven to her; their fights; his hugs; their time on the boat; the first time they made love…
The memories, good and bad, were endless.
It was all there vividly in her mind, every single moment she spent with him and every single thing that she had foolishly taken for granted. She had been the luckiest woman in the world, and she was too stupid and too scared to realize it. Her fear of accepting that someone could love her that much kept her from seeing it, but now she was faced with a different kind of fear. She was afraid of losing the man she loved forever, which was equally if not more terrifying. Actually, the fear of losing someone she loved was not new to her. It was an old ‘friend’ that had visited her in the past, when her mother was sick. And she had been right to be scared then. Her mother was taken away from her. Now Pacey might be, and she was terrified.
Joey did something then that she hadn’t done in a long time, not since her mother’s body was being taken over by cancer; she began talking with God. Although she wasn’t a religious person by nature, she also wasn’t an atheist like Jen. She knew there was a higher power out there, but they hadn’t been on very good terms since her mom died. Now, she needed to talk to Him and plead with Him for Pacey’s life.
She prayed silently, concentrating as hard as she could. She told God that she was willing to give up anything for Pacey and would do anything to help him. She would even give up her own life if she had to. She knew Pacey would do the same thing for her if given the chance, and she saw then just how unworthy she was of his love. He was always the one that thought he wasn’t good enough for her all these years, but she wasn’t good enough for him. She told him earlier that he was a disaster, implying that he messed up her life. In truth, she was the one that ruined his. He loved her and fought fearlessly for her, and she had pushed him away. Every time that she let her fears win and gave up fighting for their love, she broke his heart. She didn’t deserve him. She was selfishly asking for him back when she didn’t deserve to have that request granted, and God knew that. So, she started bargaining with Him.
"Please, God," she whispered. "Please, if you bring Pacey back, I’ll do anything. I promise I’ll stop hurting him. I’ll even let him go if I have to. Just please let him be okay!"
"I’m not the only one who needs him," she added. "There are so many other people out there that love him and depend on him. He’s become such a wonderful man. So many lives would be empty without him. I know I’m not worthy of him, but don’t take him away from his family and friends. If you won’t do it for me, please let him live for them!"
The minutes and hours ticked by as Joey kept her quiet vigil at Pacey’s bedside. With each passing hour her heart grew heavier as Pacey still slept. A nurse came in and was going to ask her to leave, but when she saw the look of desperation on Joey’s face, she changed her mind. It was obvious to her that Pacey was very important to Joey; she was touched by her dedication to him, and decided to let her stay. Doug and Bessie suggested that she get some sleep and come back in the morning, but again she refused. She was adamant about not leaving until Pacey’s eyes opened, and she knew he was alright.
"Besides," she told them, "I’ve just spent practically the whole day sleeping. I don’t need anymore rest."
Doug and Bessie, who were staying at a local hotel, left her there reluctantly and promised they would be back first thing in the morning.
It was almost dawn now, and Joey could see some light beginning to peak in through the slats in the blinds, signaling that one of the worst nights of her life was finally over; however, she feared that her nightmare was only beginning.
Joey was exhausted, but she didn’t dare close her eyes. She had to stay awake in case he woke up and needed her. She had been talking to him for the past hour, babbling about nothing and everything. She told him all of her favorite memories of them, and all the things she loved about him, hoping her words would somehow carry him back to her.
She was recounting the memory that she had while unconscious the night before of them on the True Love, the one in which he recited How Do I Love Thee to her.
"Remember, Pacey? Remember how you impressed me with that poem? I was so surprised that you remembered it all, but I guess I shouldn’t have been because you remember everything, right?" She stroked his hand lightly as she spoke. "It’s funny because I don’t even think that I remember that poem." She laughed lightly at herself. "Maybe…maybe you could help me. How does it go again, Pace?"
She stared at him intently, waiting, hoping for a response. She didn’t get the reply she was looking for. "Okay, well, I will start it. You just feel free to jump in at anytime because I’m sure I’ll get it wrong." She patted his hand and forced a smile, taking a deep breath as the familiar words tumbled from her mouth. "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…I love thee to the depth and breadth and…height my soul can reach, when feeling…out of sight…for the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men…strive for right; I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. I love thee with the passion put…to use…to use…"
Joey stumbled over the words, her memory faltered from exhaustion and grief. "Now do you see, Pace? You have to help me with that part. I can’t remember it. I never could. I need your help, Pacey. I…I need…"
Joey broke down, unable to continue. She had used all the strength she had left in her, and was beginning to think that it was hopeless. She slumped back in her wheel chair and closed her eyes. She was so tired…
"It’s put to use in my old grief’s…"
Joey’s head snapped up. "Pacey?!"
"You never could remember that poem," he forced out, the pain evident in his voice, but a small smile playing at his lips.
Joey didn’t say anything. She just jumped forward and flung herself onto him, crying with relief and joy. Her prayers had been answered; the nightmare was over…
"So, I guess I’m going to live, huh?" "It would appear that way, but we both know that’s really up to you, now isn’t?"
Pacey nodded, chewing on the inside of his bottom lip as he watched Joey clinging to him and sobbing. He had never seen her so upset before, and it was over him. She had refused to leave him, not even for a minute. Her obvious devotion to him had been unwavering, but what did all this mean?
Lilly seemed to read his thoughts. "Don’t try to make sense of what you just saw, Pacey. Just ask yourself how it made you feel."
Pacey thought for a moment before answering, afraid to say the words out loud. "It made me feel like someone truly cared that I was alive. That someone actually wanted and needed me. And for the first time, I saw how much…how much she loves me. I mean I could feel it at times when we were together and even when we weren’t, but I never really saw it before."
Lilly was hopeful again as she watched the look of amazement on his face. "Maybe you were just too afraid to look for it."
Lilly smiled as a thought ran through her mind, ‘And maybe I’m starting to get through to you…’
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