(2019-01-03) Recovering
Julian gets better after the cultist attack.

OOC: This scene took place in mid December, but it's fast-forwarded to January at the end.

"P-put pressure…" It was some of the last words spoken by Julian Walker before falling unconscious due to blood loss. His broken attempt to instruct Nina on how to deal with the traumatic bullet injuries in his chest and arm. He had been on his way to her studio apartment when he was ambushed by the cultists who have been plaguing the city for months.

No one tried to stop Nina from remaining nearby, or even sent her out to the public waiting room. They could tell there was no such thing as "visiting hours" where she was concerned. It wasn't very comfortable sitting in the hallway outside the operating room and the minutes had ticked away like hours. Twelve hours later the surgeon finally appeared to brief Nina, explaining that Julian had suffered a severe concussion from the wreck, tension pneumothorax from the bullet passing through his chest, another bullet wound in the shoulder that fractured his clavicle. Compounding that were a number of other light injuries, scrapes and contusions, but the life-threatening problems had been succcessfully repaired.

From there, it was just a matter of hope. Hope that Julian would fight. That the fevers wouldn't cook his brain. That the swelling wouldn't suffocate him. He faced a difficult rehabilitation process if he even survived the first twenty four hours. They kept him under in an induced coma until the swelling went down in order to prevent any further damage.

The room they kept him in had a pretty large loveseat that could extend out a leg rest and serve as a makeshift bed. It was surprisingly comfortable though the food always left something to be wanted.

Three days have passed since Nina's bloody holiday…

Julian is suddenly very much aware of his surroundings. Discomfort. Stiffness. A chilliness down to his bones. The steady, rythmnic sound of machines tracking his vitals. Even then he lays like that, still and quiet as he slowly regains awareness. And then an eye cracks open, flooded with light for the first time in what feels like forever.

One of the first things he would see, is Nina sitting on the loveseat, half-covered by a coat. How long has it been? Did Nina stay here all that time? Or did she leave and come back? She is also on her phone, quietly so as she is less about talking and more about listening. And when she does speak, she speaks very softly and evidently in Mandarin. It's either that, or Julian's brain is so addled that he can't understand her. Nina is clearly not expecting Julian to regain consciousness; her attention is entirely focused on her phone conversation, with her head down and one hand clasping her forehead, while her long dark hair falls like a curtain around her face and shoulders. And no, she hasn't yet noticed that slight movement of Julian's eye, that tells her the ranger is finally awake.

Julian's mouth begins to move but nothing comes out. His other eye opens and again he's assaulted with excruciatingly bright lights. They gradually dim to the mild, reserved lighting of the room. His throat isn't too dry. Someone must have been slipping him ice chips all this time relatively diligently.

He starts to move a little, shifting slightly on the hospital bed. The motion is subtle enough to be easily overlooked, but with his eyes open and settled on the asian girl, it doesn't take him long to muster enough energy to speak.

"Any chance a guy can get a drink around here?" His voice is weak, a distant shadow of his normal husky tone, but strong enough to be heard in the otherwise peacefully quiet room.

His voice triggers an immediate response, as Nina whips around to finally see that Julian is indeed awake. "Wo bu zai shuo le." She says hurriedly into the phone and quickly hangs up so she can come over to the bed. Standing over him, Nina's gaze immediately falls on to his eyes with obvious concern on her face. Right now? Not so much the unreadable enigma that she usually is. A slender hand rests gently on his forehead, carefully wiping at his brow. "Hey sleepyhead, that was a long nap you took. How are you feeling?" She asks, while reaching for the cup that contains ice chips nearby. Cautiously, she picks up one and holds it close to his mouth. "Have some ice chips first. Then I'll get the nurse."


"I feel like I got hit by a bus.". But Julian is smiling, albeit a bit weakly. He accepts the ice chips without complaint, his eyes remaining fixed on Nina's face. "A big bus." His arm starts to move, reaching out to touch her hand, though he winces from the effort. "Is…everything good? You know…-everything-?" His eyes flicker briefly down his body, a look of concern crossing his face. Of course one of the first thing Julian Sky Walker is concerned about is his junk.

There is a momentary flicker of amusement across Nina's face, but she manages to suppress it while feeding him ice chips. When she sees him move his arm, she preempts it by reaching for his hand first, grasping it and laying it back across his chest. "You were shot and your car crashed; you are lucky to be alive and in one piece. And yes you can still have children, but you should worry about getting back on your feet first." She smiles reassuringly, giving his hand a few pats before reaching for the call button. "You've been out for three days; let's have the doctor and nurses check you out first, okay?"

It's not a long wait at all, before a nurse appears at the door and approaches the bed to begin the checking. Nina steps back to let the nurse do her thing, only adding, "He's only been awake for a few minutes. Give him some ice chips but nothing else yet."

Julian listens to Nina's description of what happened leading up to his current condition, the hand she subtley prevents from moving too far eagerly interlocks with hers, one finger interlaced with each of hers. He finally nods, grimacing as he accepts a few more ice chips. "Yeah, it definitely feels like that." He smirks a little and his eyes again flicker down his body. "Glass half full. I'd ask for a kiss, but I imagine I've got terrible morning breath right now." Shifting slightly in the bed, his head cocks upward as his strength and hand-eye coordination slowly return. While studying her, his eyes light up a little as if something suddenly dawned on him. "Have you been here the whole time…?"

The question doesn't have an opportunity to be answered as a pair of nurses enter the room and politely usher Nina out of the way as they begin to work on him. Checking his vitals, bandages, and other wound care. They're chattering and lightly flirting in the sort of way that a medical professional would to alleviate some of the stress of the patient's surroundings. "Dr. Taylor has been notified and he's on his way in. It's his day off, but he instructed us to let him know the moment you wake up. We've all been rooting for you…"

Nina dutifully steps out of the way, letting the nurses do their work without interruption. She remains near the door and is soon on her phone again, likely letting people know that Julian is out of his coma. There are several calls to make, and by the time she's through them the nurses are done and on their way out. One of them stops to chat with Nina a bit, telling her to avoid giving food or drinks to Julian, at least until the doctor had a chance to check him out. Nodding her understanding and thanking the nurses, Nina waits for them to depart before approaching the bed again. With a tilt of her head and a warm smile, Nina visually checks Julian again and gently cups his cheek with a hand.

"You look terrible." She teases. "And you are spending Christmas and the New Year in the hospital."


Julian has thick bandages over his shoulder, limiting the movement of his left arm. Bandages wrap around the left side of his chest and back and various bandages are dressed around other various parts of his body. The particularly nasty cut across the side of his head sees to it that a crown bandage is wrapped there as well. He watches the exchange between Nina and the nurses and when she approaches again, he smiles with a little more strength behind it. "Alone?" Comes the response as he rests his head against her palm. "You've been here the whole time." The second time it doesn't come out so much as a question as an observation.

That serene smile remains on her face, before Nina slowly shakes her head. "Not the whole time." She corrects, letting her fingers trace along his face for a moment. "I went home everyday to shower and have a change of clothes; unfortunately, I'm unable to function without either. But…" Withdrawing her hand, Nina pivots and gestures towards the loveseat. "…that is a poor substitution for a proper bed. I think I can finally go home and sleep in my own bed tonight, but don't worry, I'll stay until you've fallen asleep."


Julian matches her smile, albeit noticably weaker, "So that's your secret. I did notice that you were looking suspiciously beautiful for someone who has been living in a hospital for a few days." He starts to sit up, though the effort causes him to suffer from a fit of coughing. Still, stubbornly, he reaches for the controller and hits the button to bring the headside of the bed up so he is at least mostly sitting up. "Min," He begins, gradually catching his breath. "I need to tell you something…"

Nina doesn't remain idle as the bed rises; reaching behind Julian, she adjusts the pillows to make sure his head is supported once he is sitting mostly upgright. "You really should wait for the doctor to check you before doing anything strenuous." She cautions. "We don't need any of your wounds tearing open again so soon." Still, her hands rest on the rail on the side of the bed, and a curious tilt of her head. "But what did you want to tell me? Did you have a near death experience?"


Julian takes a deep, shaky breath which comes out slightly fluidly, almost like a productive cough which quickly proceeds it. He smiles gratefully up at Nina once he's settled in again and reaches up with his free arm, touching the side of her face, cupping her cheek gently. A smirk plays about his lips first and his weak frame rumbles with a soft chuckle. "Don't worry about me, baby. I'm made of tougher stuff." As his arm falls again, he reaches for her hand on the bedrail. "I remember you saving my life. Bits and pieces of it, anyway. Holding me and trying to stop the bleeding…". His eyes flicker, a glassiness to them as he tries to formulate the words. "Min, I lo-"

A man pushes the wide door to the hospital room open, dressed in a white coat with.a stethascope draped around his neck. He's looking at a chart intently until he steps fully in and finally looks up at the pair of lovers. "Ahh, there he is. You are one tough SOB. Nina." Dr. Taylor greets each of them, nodding his head confidantly as he sets the chart down. The man who performed the surgery and has been in communication with Nina the whole time approaches the bed, tugging his stethescope from his neck. "You're one lucky fella, she's barely left your side."

The interruption is timely; maybe Nina doesn't guess where he was going with it — but then this is Nina, who is quite perceptive and doesn't miss much. Nonetheless, Nina's attention turns smoothly to the arriving doctor with a polite smile. "Doctor Taylor." She greets the man in turn. "Thank you for coming in on your day off. Julian and I are both very grateful." The revelation that she's been in the hospital for most of the last few days is deliberately downplayed. "Is he stable now? Can he eat or drink soon?"


"What's the word, Doc?" Julian asks, glancing briefly at Nina, his wordless expression meaningful, perhaps promising to press their private conversation another time.

"Well, the surgery went about as well as we could hope, which I've already explained to Miss. Zhou here. We'll be keeping you here through the New Years, which I'm sure isn't the news you want to hear. Following that, it's going to be a bit of a climb with the PT department for the next couple months to strengthen everything back up, including your lungs. But I suspect a strapping young man like you will handle all that just fine." He proceeds to check the man's vitals, check his bandages, and listen to his heart and breathing while continuing to map out the next couple months. "You're going to have a decent scar on your head, I suspect, and a couple more to add to your collection from your time in the service. Other then that, I'd say barring any surprise infections, I expect you to make a full recovery.".

"As far as eating or drinking," Dr. Taylor continues, "He can start now, really. Just be careful and keep it light. We've got a morphine drip going for the pain and even with the phenergine drip to help alleviate the nausea there's still a chance he could get sick.".

Nina nods again, all attentive-like. "All things considered, those are good news, Doctor Taylor. Thank you." Another smile is spared at the beat-up Ranger then. "You heard the Doctor; it's going to be a quiet holiday for you and I. And if you misbehave, I'll have to turn up the morphine drip." A quick beat before Nina turns back to Doctor Taylor. "I was just joking, of course. I assume you will arrange for the physiotherapy for Julian, then?"

Julian sneaks a quick glance Nina's way, showing off a bit of that energy and light-heartedness he's known for. "You promise?" The smile is maintained even as he turns back to the doctor.

"I'm glad you two are in good spirits, especially after everything. You'll be back on. your feet in no time." Finishing his inspection, Dr Taylor seems satisfied and turns to Nina, whom he has become quite familiar with over the last few days. He knows she's interested in straight answers and nods to her question. "One of the benefits of being a government employee - it's all covered and there has been no shortage of donations from the boys at the precinct to cover any extra expenses accrued. You seem to have quite a few friends…or at least one particularly big one. I'm sure he'll want to be notified too." The doctor just shakes his head, "The nurses have already been alerted to that particular officer's attempts to sneak a single malt scotch into this wing of the hospital." With that, he starts for the door, but stops to turn back to face the two of them, his eyes switching between Julian and Nina. "You two are pretty popular around here right now, I hear there's some hot cocoa being hand-brewed by the chef downstairs. I bet if you went down and asked, they'd whip you up a couple, Miss. Zhuo.". Then he smiles and bows his head. "Have a good night and I'll be back to check on you tomorrow."

"Thank you again, Doctor. We will see you tomorrow." Nina nods to the Doc, even walking the man to the door as the proper, polite thing to do. Only when he is gone that Nina returns to Julian's bedside. "Good thing he reminded me, you did have a few visitors in the last few days, mostly your co-workers and other law enforcement officers. Katherine dropped by as well. Is there anyone you want me to notify that you're awake? I made a few calls already, to Katherine and some of the people who left their numbers with me." Beat. "Also, like Doctor Taylor said, if you need any extra services, just let me know. I can get it arranged with the nurses."

Julian offers a nod to the doctor as he is escorted out and once gone, turns his full attention on Nina, taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly. He looks exhausted, as she can most certainly pick up as perceptive as she is, but he doesn't complain or say anything about it. "Extra services, hm?" He playfully asks, reaching out with his good hand to beckon her back to his side.

"Sounds like you've hit all the necessary people already." Pause. "Thank you, Min…" His visage softens as he looks up at her, his good hand gliding down her arm to clasp her hand. "How're -you- holding up?"

Nina turns her hand around, so that it can clasp his in a reassuring way. "I am fine. My holiday plans are shot, unfortunately." Despite the accusation, Nina smiles at Julian. "I expect you to get better soon, so you can make up for my lost vacation time, Julian." She gives his hand a gentle squeeze. "Speaking of vacation, I can call your… do you have a supervisor? I expect they will want to know you're okay, and arrange for you to be on medical leave for a while. Oh, and whatever medical benefits you might be entitled to."

Julian chuckles quietly, giving Nina's hand a squeeze. When he looks back up from their clasped hands to meet her gaze, his eyes are glassy. "You're my guardian angel, baby. I'll spend a long time making it up to you." He settles back into the bed, his eyes already beginning to droop a little but he still stubbornly hangs on, almost as if were he to release her hand, he'd fall back into unconsciousness.

"I'm the Warden, I suppose the next one up is the Committee for Wildlife, Fish, and Game. Don't worry about all that, I'll handle it when I get out of here. I'd rather you just relax a little and not have to worry about me another night."

"And I would rather you relax and get better, than to worry about administrative processes." Nina replies simply. "Besides, I deal with paperwork on a daily basis." Another squeeze of his hand, and Nina releases it. "Do you want to try to eat or drink anything? Doctor Taylor did say you can start now, just with something light. I can go get some apple juice for you, and probably some crackers to start off?" Beat. "I think I will take up on the hand-brewed hot cocoa from the cafeteria."


"I know better than to argue." Julian concedes with a weary smile. To her question he nods, "I could use something solid, I feel like I haven't eaten in days." Because, of course, he hasn't. His eyes flutter again, a stark reminder that there is a pain medication drip doing its best to knock him out. "That'd be nice…I'll just…stay here, hold down the fort." Another weak, tired smile follows. "I really need to tell you…" The exertion of remaining up this long is quickly taking its toll on the man. "…Min…".

"Shhh." Nina hushes him with a whisper. In fact, she leans down and plants a gentle peck on his uninjured cheek. "Tell me later, when you are stronger. I'll be around." She pulls back and smiles at him, her eyes seeking his out for a moment, before she stands back up and presses the button on the side of the bed. Gradually, the bed slowly leans back, letting Julian rest easier. "I will go get some food from the cafeteria for us both. Don't go anywhere, okay?" She adds with a slight tease, and then she's off for foodstuff.

Julian noticably relaxes and seems to fall back into unconsciousness. This time, it's different… peaceful. There's a rhythm in the way he breathes and a lightness to his slumber that promises an awakening. Over the coming days he'll gradually increase the amount of time he can stay awake and up. Even taking the time to /attempt/ to teach Nina how to play cribbage. Christmas passes with Julian offering up two gifts to his lover. One is a wooden rocking chair, made from the same redwood that much of his other projects is made from, including the imprvements to his cabin. Much the same as the other two chairs that are made for Gunny and himself. Though this one appears to have a finer touch to it, including Nina's name carved into the wood in Chinese hanzi.

The second gift is a key to his cabin, which was required to open the door that led to the gift, which was left wrapped in the living area complete with a card that was clearly written to her prior to that fateful night.

There is a letter that goes on to describe how much she has done for him over the months they have been together. Helping him feel like a human being again. Bringing him out of the brooding hermit lifestyle he had secluded himself to for the years since his military service expired. It ends in, 'Yours, JW.'

By New Years, he's walking, though limited to the hallways in this wing of the hospital. Many jokes were made about the bared backside of the gown he wears, including a strong suggestion from Julian that Nina should probably wear one too. And it is that fateful countdown leading to 2019 that has him strong enough to stand and hold her like he had before his wounds and on that last moment, he kisses her and whispers something into her ear. 'I love you.' The 'L' word is dropped like a hammer, much like his methodology for facing most his problems. Baring more of himself to his lover much like the gown's draftiness along his backside.

By the third day into the new year, he's finally given the go ahead and return home, though not without much fanfare as he had become quite popular with the nurses who absolutely adored Nina and often went out of their way to make her as comfortable as possible.

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