7: Confusing the Issue

Tom moved through the last of his rounds on automatic, unable to do more than just what was expected of him. His normal bedside manner was absent, his greater than professional interest evaporated. As he finished with the last patient, he moved into his office. It would have been easy to just sit down, fall asleep like he used to do on his desk in Concord, but he was driven by something beyond his exhaustion.

Stripping out of his smock, he drew his light jacket about his shoulders, tweaking the garment to get it to lay right. Officially off-shift, Tom headed for one last stop before heading home to Sarah.

It was still light out, even though it was nearly eight at night. The summer days were so long, he knew there would still be color in the sky at ten. The weather was actually tolerable this time of night, compared to the stifling daytime heat. Tom was almost too warm with the jacket on, but he wasn't willing to carry it.

It wasn't a long walk from his office to the Cyber-center next door, but it was still slow progress. He wasn't sure why he kept doing this to himself. Mira was still comatose. What the hell was he expecting?

He shook his head, not even sure about his motives. Or… he didn't want to recognize the ugly truth about his drive.

Tom and his team had done all they could for her. They repaired her body, treated her infection, and Tom had even taken the time to reduce the military effect of her first set of prosthesis. Much of the overlapped ribbing had to be removed anyway, as damaged as it was, and they had taken the opportunity to normalize the underlying structure of her chest. Their progress on techniques and technology allowed them to replace the existing "lung" with a more lightweight unit that wasn't so clunky and robotic. The pump previously necessary for the blood driven prosthesis was a moot point, and they were able to take the device out.

As yet, he'd not decided what to do about Mira's missing eye. While he itched to get a cybernetic one back in there, he wasn't sure she'd be up for that. He was still somewhat gun-shy on doing things without permission. Until she woke up – if she woke up – he would leave keep the area clean and sterile.

All that work and yet, Mira hadn't shown any real improvement. Brain activity was nearly nonexistent. They were having problems getting even minor incisions to heal properly. Two weeks ago they had resorted to putting her into stasis. It was the only way for them to prevent sepsis.

Keying the front door, Tom pulled it toward him and stepped into the chilly interior. The lower temperature was a must in places such as hospitals. The cyber-center maintained a similar system to ensure sterility. Lower temperatures kept germs down, and made a more sterile environment for the patients within the walls. He moved down the hall, slowing as he reached the room where Mira was resting.

Stepping inside Tom frowned, she had come out of stasis just the day before yesterday, and her skin was that shiny pink color he could remember on his own skin not so long ago. He shivered at his memories of stasis, and thanked God that Mira had once more been under anesthesia – in an induced coma for the duration of the stay.

He moved silently to her bedside, touching her forehead lightly with several fingertips, "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you," he whispered once again, feeling guilty even now. Tom tried to tell himself there was more he could have done to keep Mira from accepting that man's offer.

Stiffening, the doctor made an effort to not go down the road his thoughts were trying to take – a thoroughly unsuccessful attempt. Their breakup hadn't been his idea. After all he went through rediscovering their tie, nothing in him that wanted to lose her. Yet Mira had demanded he choose between her and David, all because she had an aversion to gemues. When Tom wouldn't, she had given up on them.

That didn't mean he was no longer in love with her.

"I hate seeing you like this," he said. This time his voice was stronger. "I…"

Once more Tom trailed off, knowing that "I told you so" would do neither of them any good. The deed was done, and it had nearly taken Mira's life.

A wave of anger and helplessness moved over him next. If he ever caught up with the hacks that did this… he'd…

You'd what? Kill them? That was Ben knocking on his cell. Tom grit his teeth and clamped more irons around that personality. Though the thought had crossed his mind, Tom didn't want that alternate personality acting on his baser emotions. That he had no idea where to find any of the people responsible for this gave rise to frustration.

Tom sighed, managing to release that anger without making himself sick again.

"Get well, chica," Tom muttered and made himself turn around and walk out the door.

He hadn't made it ten steps down the hall when a scream split the silence. Tom wheeled, already in motion before his mind truly interpreted the sound. It was the sound of abject horror and pain – frightened shrill notes that waxed and waned as the owner of the voice took breaths.

Tom burst through the door to find Mira thrashing about in her bunk, her head whipping side to side and screams cutting staccato. Her feet kicked blindly for something she would never connect with, succeeding only in stripping the bed of its sheets and blankets. Her one eye was tightly shut, as if afraid of what she would see if she opened it, and the lids were pinched so tightly that the skin had puckered together.

Tom merely reacted, his training kicking in even as a knot formed in his gut. He moved to her side pinning her shoulders down.

"Mira?" he wanted it to be soft and encouraging, but found himself yelling to get above her blood-curdling screaming, "Mira! Mira, it's all right!"

She thrashed more violently as his hands settled on her shoulders, and he could hear half-formed curses streaming from her lips.

"I'm not going to hurt you! Mira, you're safe!"

How she was getting so much motion was beyond him, they had sedated her, both because her chest was still healing and because of the signs of trauma they had found upon further examination. He grit his teeth as she continued to lash out and he could feel pops transmitting through his hands. The sound told him the ribs they installed were pulling free of the pinning. The sternum was rubbing against itself between the wires used to pull her chest back together.

He spared a hand long enough to smack the code button and returned to his attempt at restraining the woman. He dared not let her go long enough to get the medication that would stop this.

The thrashing was slowing, longer pauses between her arching and twisting. Tom couldn't tell whether it was because she was tiring or because the vision that had gripped her was finally fading.

The floor doctor burst into the room. "Dr. Martin?"

He peered over his shoulder, his weight still firmly pressed into Mira's shoulders. "Get a sedative."

The doctor was already in motion before Tom had completely gotten the words out, taking in one sweep the needed assistance.

Her twisting was weaker now, tears streaming out of her one eye and her face contorting as a crying fit took her. Her body went limp once again, except for her head which was moving side to side in slow motions.

Tom stopped the other doctor from wasting the syringe with a motion. "Never mind."

The doctor instead moved to check her vitals, as Tom could only stand there and watch Mira weep, his insides twisting tighter. Something had gone terribly wrong – besides the obvious. She had been terrified of something.

Tom leaned over her. "You're okay Mira, it's over."

Whatever "it" was.

Mira surprised him when her nearest arm gripped his jacket, pulling him closer. Her eyes remained closed, conscious still just outside her grasp. Her fingers crawled up Tom's jacket sleeve until her arm was strung across his back and he was just inches from her face.

"Tom…" an airy whisper escaped between her chapped lips. "God, Tom… I've missed you."

Tom's eyes widened, and he nearly ripped himself away from her. He caught that reaction, pulling out of her clinging grip more slowly, catching her arm and ensuring it was set on the bed rather than allowing it to merely fall. Peering over at the other man in the room, he grimaced and then straightened to his full height. Tom felt his face flush, averting his gaze once more to Mira.

"You're safe," he whispered once more, drawing one hand down her tear soaked cheek and pulling the moisture off her skin.

Allowing his arm to fall to his side, he regarded his colleague again. "Make sure I get a copy of the report with any damage you find."

"Right." The man nodded. "Tom…?"

"What is it?"

"You okay?"

He managed to nod. "Fine… she's…"

"I know. You don't have to explain it."

He acknowledged the other doctor's comment. "This is just confusing the issue."

"Good luck on that."

"I'm going to need it," Tom muttered. "Take good care of her, Jerry."

"Will do, Tom."

Tom made it home just before nine pm, finding Sarah lounged on the sectional watching Vids with the volume down. He took only enough time to drop off his stuff before he joined her there. The doctor flopped down onto the cushions next to Sarah, an audible sigh pushed out with the motion.

"Rough night?" Sarah asked, not taking her eyes off of the program.

"Mmm." He leaned over, threading an arm around her body.

Her hand laced through his short blond hair, stroking and scratching his head with gentle pressure.

"I'm sorry to hear that." She shifted slightly and Tom glanced up to meet her gaze. "You went to visit her after work again?"

He couldn't help the guilt in his expression as he nodded. "Mira had a seizure."

Her expression grew dire. "Why do you keep doing that? Do you really think she is going to take you back – if she recovers?"

"Sarah, please, don't start."

She sat up fully now and Tom was forced to straighten as well. He watched her expression close down so quickly, he knew he was in for it.

"Tom, face it, she dumped you. She tore out your heart and then stomped on it. I understand that you still have feelings for her, but this is becoming unhealthy."

"I can't help it, Sarah."

Tom had told himself he wasn't going to get drawn in to this argument again. Yet, he was unable to help defending himself.

She leaned across the space, laying a hand on his cheek. "I know it's hard, hon, but…you have to try letting go. This pining over what you lost isn't helping our relationship. It's like having a ghost in the room all the time."

Tom glanced away and rose to his feet. He moved into the kitchen, distancing himself, unable to formulate something that wasn't going to light a match to the kindling piled all around him. He had rationalized this all in his head already, and a pang rose up in his gut that told him he was about to lose another in a long line of relationships if he couldn't get over his former fiancé. Still, it was difficult to give up. He dove, heart and soul, into his relationship with Mira, only to get burned – badly. He was having a hard enough time trusting himself to love again, without a stunt like the one Mira pulled in the hospital.

Tom had been looking forward to coming home to Sarah's warm embrace, to find some solace and help him forget. His mistake was even bothering to mention Mira.

Tom didn't look up as he heard Sarah shadow him into the kitchen.

"I'm sorry," Sarah said rubbing a hand across his back, and he let himself sway with the motion. "This wasn't what you were looking for when you came home."

Sarah smiled when he finally met her gaze. He swore sometimes that Sarah had the ability to read minds like Angelina. She hit the nail of his thoughts right on the head.

"You needed some comfort and I offered you a bed of nails. Forgive me?"

"Sure," the answer was airy and cracked.

He turned toward her, his glass of water clutched in whitened fingers.

"I know I've put you in a bad spot with this." Tom swallowed and dropped his gaze. "I never intended for this. I love you, Sarah."

"I know you do."

"I… just… to have her here…" He turned his lost expression back at his girlfriend. "How can I not think about it? She's there, every day… and it angers me the way she was left to die." His face pinched. "I'm… confused."

It was a hard thing to admit, but it did soften Sarah's expression more. She closed the distance, curling arms around his slim waist, stroking his back even as she laid her head on his chest. Sarah stilled against him. "Your heart rate is through the roof," she whispered. Hugging him tighter, she tried to reassure him. "It's okay. Things will work out."

"I'm glad you're so sure." Still Tom laced his hands around Sarah's shoulders and settled his cheek on her crown. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on breathing more slowly, on lowering his sine rhythm to a more relaxed state.

"Someone has to have a positive attitude in this house."

Sarah backed off from their embrace, dragging him by one arm back towards the couch. Tom came along pliantly, settling into her embrace once again as they seated themselves on the couch. Sarah pulled a blanket from the back of the couch, laying it across where the two of them were folded together. Once more caressing his arm, running loving fingers through his hair, Sarah soothed his worries. As he continued to relax, his girlfriend turned the vid back on, to some sci-fi show.

Tom was unable to recall more than a few moments of the program, as his brain finally quit plaguing him and allowed him to fall asleep.

A/N: Whew been a while, sorry about that. I thought this chapter was going to need more editing, but it turns out it seems to be fine as is.

So yeah, Tom is a bit... torn in two over Mira's return to his life isn't he? Doesn't help she's in dire condition.