They Said He Was Depressed 1/5

by Rifka

Title: They Said He Was Depressed 1/5

Author: Rifka

Subject Info: Christopher Keller survives his fall off the balcony in Season 6, but has a slight problem. Posted to: TS and TSXF

Feedback: Always nice

Note I had written the first four paragraphs after Joanne Francis issued a challenge in her Fic, Between the End and the Beginning. In the third lyric wheel Maverick posted the lyrics for Vertical Horizon's I'm Still Here and suddenly the characters started talking and they haven't stopped.

Additional Note: They've continued to talk and this little fic is followed by a series called The Interaction Series and then continues in On The Outside.

They Said He Was Depressed

He looked so pale against the white sheets. `They said that physically, he would be ok in time. Lots of time, lots of rehab.' Toby shuddered at the thought. It brought back many memories of blood, sweat and tears from Toby's turn at rehab. `Rehab...alcohol, heroin, broken bones & Chris. All my addictions' he sighed softly. He didn't want to waken him.

He had been transferred to Benchley Memorial Hospital where a CT scan confirmed their suspicions. They said it had been a concussion with a subdural hematoma. The fall had produced a small bleed in his brain, which had caused it to shift over to the left side. The only way to reduce the swelling of his brain was immediate surgery. There the neurosurgeons put two holes in his skull called Burr Holes. The holes were small, but large enough for the hematoma to drain. He had also been given some steroids to help keep the swelling down. Luckily they didn't have to remove any of his skull.

They said he would be ok but his short-term memory was gone. Disappeared. Kaput. There was no way to get it back. But it wasn't just short term, like he couldn't remember `MacBeth' or getting new socks from Toby. He didn't remember the past few years. He didn't recognize Sr Pete or Dr Nathan. Nor McManus or Murphy. Not Ryan or Poet.

"He didn't recognize my name or my picture. He doesn't know who the fuck I am", thought Toby as he continued to stare at the sleeping person in the hospital bed.

"Tobias? Tobias!" questioned Dr. Nathan.

"I'm sorry, Dr. Nathan, it's so... so hard for me to focus, to comprehend what's going on." He answered.

"I'll explain it again. Chris is going to be ok! He has amnesia and we think most likely it's retrograde amnesia. That's the inability to remember events that occurred before the `incidence of trauma'. Chris is unable to recall some of the events that were stored in his long term memory."

"But the fall, his falling off the balcony just happened! How could he not remember? How could it already be stored in long term memory?" Toby stood up and faced Dr. Nathan. "How can he not remember me? We loved each other! We still do, even though I said some horrible things to him. Dr. Nathan, I called him Death! I didn't mean it. My feelings were so hurt by what he did. He should have known that I would have forgiven him... in time."

Sr. Pete had just returned from the chapel, after sending up a prayer for Chris. While she was on her knees in prayer, she kept telling herself she was really doing it for Toby. They said it didn't make any difference who offered the prayer, as long as it was sent.

She had walked up three flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator. In order to block certain thoughts that still haunted her, she would count each of her steps; consequently no other thoughts would be allowed in. At the door to Chris's room she took a deep breath and entered. Toby was finishing his conversation with Dr. Nathan and he looked so dejected. She walked over and opened her arms, and Toby allowed himself the comfort of a soothing hug.

"Tobias, my dear Tobias. Chris knew that you loved him; he was just at his wits end. Maybe in time you'll figure out how to get Chris to remember some of the things that happened. Well, maybe he'll just remember the umm...good things. You know, just the good stuff between both of you and maybe he won't remember all the bad things he did. Even though he should remember it all for the sake of his soul! You'll help him, I know you will." She patted Toby's cheek and let him go.

"And just how do I do that?" Toby asked her forlornly.

"Can't a guy get any sleep around here? Dammit, but you guys are noisy. Take it outside. But you stay." Chris looked directly at Toby. He had awakened and upon opening his eyes, all he had were two thoughts. `I'm cranky, and why does this guy keep coming back to visit me?'

"Hey," Toby said quietly, slightly above a whisper.

"Hey" Chris responded and Toby thought he was going to smile but no, it was just the right side of his mouth twitching.

As Toby moved closer to Chris's bedside he remembered another time, another place where they both had said `Hey' to each other. He sat in the chair and his lower lip quivered and he felt his eyes filling up with tears. He tried to brush it away but Chris caught him.

"I'm sorry you seem so sad when you come to visit me. Every time you seem more upset. Talk to me. Maybe today it's gonna be ok. Maybe I'll remember something. Ya know, this morning I had a visit from my three ex-wives, four if you count Bonnie. I married her twice, but you already know that, don't you? I do remember them. I remember Bonnie telling me she was going to get married again."

Toby jumped out of his chair. "You remember that? You really do? Or did Bonnie tell you that this morning? I mean that she had come to see you while you were..." Toby suddenly stopped talking. He didn't know what they told him.

Now Chris laughed, but just a little. "Hey, relax there Toby. I know I was, still am I suppose, in prison. Oz, right? I do remember the holdup and killing that man and my arm being broken. But it kinda stops there."

It was Toby's turn to laugh a little, "Don't you see Chris, you've got two memories right there. There's some more stuff that needs to go in between. I know... Do you play any games? Any sports that you think you liked?"

"Games?" Chris asked him while he folded his arms over his chest. "Like Checkers?"

"Yes, like Checkers. Fuckin A, like Checkers!" He wanted to go over to Chris and grab his face and kiss him. He knew he couldn't do that but he could sit on the edge of Chris's bed.

"You find this funny, huh?" Chris questioned him while this time Toby thought he noticed a familiar gleam in his eye, if only for a second.

"Well not exactly `Ha, Ha' funny...but yeah, kinda. Toby lowered his head and was looking at Chris without lifting his head any higher than he had to.

`What the fuck? Is this guy flirting with me?' Chris wondered. `He's attractive, smart, ok, yeah. I see a possibility, maybe.'

"What kind of relationship did we have? The nun said we were roommates, right?" He tentatively asked Toby.

"Well, not exactly roommates." Toby smiled as he responded.

"Ok, podmates. That's what she said; we shared a pod, right? Not a cell. And what's her story? When she was here asking me questions, I coulda sworn she was flirting with me. Do I have a tat on my forehead that says, `Flirt with the Amnesic Man?"

"You felt as though Sr. Pete was flirting with you?" Toby snickered. "Boy, are you off base with that one. In fact, you were the one that did the flirting. At least, that's what she told me. But that was years...Oh... Fuck me!" he finished speaking, hung his head and philosophized, `Oh man. Someone just shut me up now, dig a hole and push me in.'

"Toby! Toby, don't stop. Tell me more. Help me fill in the blanks. She said that I was very depressed and I have to see the psychiatrist. She thinks I tried to kill myself. Did I? Toby, man, I'm begging you." Chris pleaded.

Chris melted into the bed and Toby reached for his hand. He picked up Chris's right hand in his and very gently rubbed it. He wanted to be able to send the feelings that were in his heart to Chris. He wanted Chris to feel his love. Toby knew it was still there, in both their hearts.

"Chris, as much as I want to tell you everything, I can't. It wouldn't help you. From what Dr. Nathan said, your memory will come back. But you have to do it. It'll be triggered by certain things."

"Yeah, what things?"

"Oh, certain words or odors. Or colors. And maybe some piece of clothing someone is wearing. It'll click something in that thickheaded brain of yours and a memory will come back. Chris, it will, I just know it will."

"Toby did I try to kill myself? What made me that depressed?" Chris asked softly.

"No. No Chris. You did not try to kill yourself. I was there. I was standing next to you. We were just talking, you know, shooting the breeze. We were going to be in the same pod again. We were talking about some of the old times and you seemed ok, excited even. You just... got... too... close to the edge and slipped. That's all there is to it." Toby was trying to convince himself as he spoke. "Yes, that's exactly what happened."

Officer Mineo stepped into the room and said "Let's go home Beecher, your chariot awaits."

Chris sat in the outdated reclining chair that had seen way too many patients. It was a pinkish/mauve color with grey stripes. The nurse had helped him into the chair after he took his third short walk in the hall. His condition was improving although he still felt weak and incredibly sore throughout his whole body. His right shoulder was still bruised, as was his right hip. He was only allowed ibuprofen for pain and took it whenever they said he could have it. He had leaned back in the chair in order to stretch his legs out. But most importantly, he wanted to look out the window. It seemed like it had been an eternity since he saw the night sky. It was a clear night, lots of stars and the moon looked like it was lying on its back, half full.

"Just ...tip me over and pour me out."

Sr. Pete had silently entered the room. "Oh Chris, is that you singing? And my goodness, look at you. You look healthier already. Oh, I'm so sorry, I...." She knew she had startled him when she started to speak.

"Scared the shit outta me, Sister. I'm sorry for saying shit. But yeah that was me singing, but I don't know where the words came from. I don't know if there's anymore to it, is there?"

She sat on the edge of the bed and talked with him. "It's ok, Chris. Sometimes shit's the only word that fits. And I believe you're singing `I'm a Little Tea Pot'. That's from way back in your childhood, whether you sang it or not. You heard it and now you're recalling it. I never heard you sing before, although I had heard that you were in the choir with Tobias."

"The choir? Like a church choir?" he couldn't believe it. "For some reason, Sister, singing in a church choir don't feel right to me. Neither does singing out loud where anyone can hear me. I usually sing to myself, like when I'm stacking papers."

"Uhhh, so Chris. Just where is it that you stack papers?" she quickly asked hoping that whatever memory was surfacing would hurry up and get there.

"In the supply room. Where else?" He asked like it was just an ordinary answer. "I stack papers! That's my job, isn't it?" Then his speech increased in tempo. "I take care of the office stuff in the supply room. It's not a very big room. It has two doors and lots of metal shelves and carts in it. A light with a chain hangs from the ceiling. Not the greatest job in the world but it's easier than working for you."

"For me? Who works for me?" Sister Pete stood and walked towards Chris. She then kneeled on one foot and placed her right hand on Chris's right thigh. "Chris, think. I know you know. I'm not trying to pressure you, but think hard. It's important for you to remember."

"Sister, are you sure you want to keep your hand where it is?" Chris smiled as he said this, which caused the good Sister to blush.

"I'm sorry, Sister. Visiting Hours are over and Chris needs his rest. He's had a busy day today. You and his other friends can come back any time tomorrow after 11am." The nurse said pleasantly as she walked to the chair. She was ready to offer Chris any assistance he needed.

`Saved by the blessed bell again', thought Sr. Pete. "Good night, Chris. I'll talk to you tomorrow." She felt like she couldn't disappear fast enough.

"Yeah, `night Sister." He said as he stood up without any help. `Hell has no fury, huh Sister? Ok, I don't know where that thought came from, but it seems to fit just about now.' Chris was smiling as he started to sit on the bed.

"Nurse? Is it ok if I sleep in the chair? I'd like to fall asleep looking at the stars. I want to remember it. It might be a long time till I get to see them again."

She reached over to the bed and got his pillow and blanket and helped him get settled in the chair. She adjusted the chair so it was exactly like he wanted it. The nurse placed the bedside table close by so if he got thirsty, the water would be there. And his call light was draped over the back of the chair and pinned in place, just in case she was needed.

The day Chris was discharged, was the day he was able to bullshit his way out of the psychiatrists office. "I promise you doc, if I start feeling depressed about anything I'll request a meeting with Sr. Pete. Cross my heart." He said to Dr. Strickland as he made the sign of the cross. This ended the session with the staff psychiatrist at the hospital, the one Sr. Pete had mentioned.

"OK then, your discharge papers have already been signed and give this envelope to Tim McManus when you meet with him. I think there's an officer ready to take you back to the prison." Dr. Strickland stood and shook hands with Chris. "Good luck, son."


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