Fandom: Melissa and Joey
Characters/Pairings: Mel, Joe, Stephanie, Ryder, Lennox, Mel/Joe
Author's Note: Written for hc_bingo prompt free space. I chose hospital stay.
Disclaimer: I don't own Melissa and Joey and never will. No copyright infringement intended.
Summary: After Joe is involved in a near fatal car accident, Mel realizes she's in love with him.
Mel Burke was busy telling Stephanie about the agenda for the day when her cell phone rang and she received the call that changed her life. Stephanie watched as her boss’ face turned pale in a matter of seconds and she panicked herself about what had occurred, so she asked Mel about it after the call was over. “That was the hospital. Joe was in a car accident and they won’t tell me over the phone how bad it was. What if he’s dead? Where the fuck are my keys?”
Stephanie flinched, but took charge of the situation. “I’ll drive you since you don’t be seem to be in any shape to. We’ll pick up Lennox and Ryder on the way to the hospital. Which hospital is he in?”
She told her assistant where Joe was, and then the two women bolted towards the car. A nervous Mel bit her fingernails the whole way to Lennox and Ryder’s school. She didn’t pay attention to her surroundings until Stephanie pulled up to the curb. “Do you want me to go in?”
Mel shook her head. “No, I’ll do it. They deserve to hear the news from me.” She reluctantly got out of the car and headed towards the office. The secretary pulled both kids out of class.
“But I didn’t do anything!” Mel heard Ryder complaining to his sister as they walked into the office.
“I didn’t do anything either!”
That’s when the teenagers noticed their aunt. Lennox picked up on the fact that her aunt was upset immediately, while Ryder noticed her bloodshot eyes – Had she been crying? Had something bad happened?
“Is everything okay, Aunt Mel?” Lennox had had a bad feeling for days, and she hoped it didn’t have anything to do with what was about to happen next.
“Joe was in a car accident and he’s in the hospital. I don’t know how bad it is yet.” Was that her voice cracking? Mel wasn’t sure.
Both kids’ faces fell. “Let’s go then!” Ryder was worried and he wished he hadn’t made fun of Lennox’s bad feeling the day before. It turned out she had been right, apparently. Hopefully, Joe would be okay. They couldn’t lose him.
Mel followed her niece and nephew out to the car. For once, Lennox and Ryder didn’t fight. There was complete silence on the way to the hospital, something Mel would have appreciated on any other day. However, it felt weird and awkward today.
“I’m here because I’m the emergency contact for Joe Longo. I’m Mel Burke.” Mel couldn’t believe she had been put in this position. She and Joe had decided to become each other’s emergency contact and power of attorney after one of the kids had come down with a violent flu and ended up in the emergency room. Neither had ever expected to have to use it.
The nurse looked at her sympathetically. “A doctor will be out to speak with you shortly, Councilwoman Burke. Please sit down in the waiting room.”
Mel tapped her foot impatiently and continued to bite her nails as they waited for Joe’s doctor to come out. Stephanie felt completely awkward, but she wasn’t about to leave her boss alone.
About an hour and a half after they arrived at the hospital, Joe’s doctor finally came out. Mel stood up quickly, which made her slightly dizzy, but she didn’t care. “How is he?”
“I’m not going to lie to you, Miss Burke. It was bad. Mister Longo sustained a concussion and multiple injuries. I have to send him up to surgery to stop the internal bleeding, but it’s very touch and go at the moment. We want to make sure that Mister Longo is stable before we operate. He went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way here. The next forty-eight hours are critical, and I’m very sorry, but he may not make it through the night.”
Mel’s knees buckled and she would have collapsed if not for Ryder’s quick thinking. He grabbed onto his aunt, and with the help of Stephanie, led her over to a chair. Mel let out a cry and began sobbing, Lennox joining her. Ryder was just numb. Joe couldn’t die! He was a better father to him than the man who had committed illegal acts and then went into hiding.
The next hour passed by slowly. Luckily, Joe stabilized and was able to go into surgery. Mel had sent Stephanie to contact Joe’s brother, but he wasn’t able to come to the hospital for whatever reason. Mel didn’t pay attention to the excuses that Stephanie listed. While they waited for news on Joe, Lennox fell asleep with her head on her aunt’s shoulder. She had eventually cried herself to sleep. Ryder was trying to remain the strong one and it was a pretty hard task.
After several hours, the surgeon entered the waiting room. “We were able to stop the internal bleeding. He crashed on the table twice, but we were able to revive him. However, I must stress that the surgery may not necessarily save him.”
“Can I see him?” Mel desperately needed to visit Joe, to see for herself that he was still alive. (At least for the time being, and oh God, he had to survive. She couldn’t lose him.)
“Just for a few minutes while he’s in recovery.”
Mel stood up and ordered Ryder and Lennox to stay with Stephanie, and then she followed a nurse into the recovery room. “Hey, Joe. I know you’re probably in a lot of pain right now, but I need you to listen to me. You can’t die. We need you. I need you, okay? I didn’t realize it until that phone call, but I’m in love with you. And I need you to be awake. Please don’t go. I can’t do this without you. You, me, Lennox, and Ryder a family.” She choked back sobs and then bolted out of the recovery room and towards the nearest bathroom, where she threw up a few times.
Mel cried for a few more minutes before taking a deep breath and trying to calm down. She didn’t want the kids to see her so upset.
By the next day, Joe had woken up a few times, but had to remain in the ICU as a result of his various injuries. Mel parked herself into an uncomfortable chair and refused to leave his side. She ordered Stephanie to take Ryder and Lennox home, at least for a little while, and then just sat there. The councilwoman held Joe’s hand and didn’t let go.
Joe woke up around noon and blearily eyed his eyes. “Hi.”
“Hey, Joe. How are you feeling?”
“A little numb.”
“That’s probably because of the pain medication they have you on. It’s the good stuff.” Mel nervously laughed and squeezed his hand, which he did feel.
“What are you doing holding my hand?”
“I’ll tell you later, when you’re more awake. How does that sound?”
“Pretty good.” He yawned and tried to keep his eyes open, but it was hard.
“Go back to sleep, Longo. I promise I’ll be here when you wake up.” Mel’s voice cracked and she hoped Joe hadn’t caught it. He had, but was too tired to say anything about it just yet.
Joe wasn’t completely aware of things until the next day. Mel had forced the kids to go to school, something they had complained about. However, she hadn’t wanted them to miss too much of anything.
“You didn’t have to stay with me all this time.” Joe was sitting up in his bed and sipping on ice chips, wishing he could have real food.
“Yes, I did.” Mel didn’t want to go into why she had, but it would probably come up soon. She wasn’t ready to have the “I’m in love with you” conversation, especially since Joe might not feel the same way and laugh in her face. And since when was she this insecure?
“You were worried about me, weren’t you, Burke?” Joe would have laughed if Mel didn’t look so freaked out.
Mel sighed. “Why don’t you go back to sleep? You need your rest.”
“Why is everyone always trying to get me to sleep in this place and then waking me up?” Joe couldn’t complain all that much, though. He had survived a pretty bad car accident.
“Because you were badly injured. Now shut up and go to bed.”
“Okay, bossy.” After he finished chewing on the last ice chip, Joe listened and did exactly as she said. He woke up about three hours later to find Mel asleep in the chair. He smiled at her.
Lennox and Ryder practically burst into the hospital room after they got back from school. She burst into tears and hugged him, pleading with him not to die. “I don’t want you to die.”
“Kids, I’m still here. Don’t worry about me.” Joe rubbed Lennox’s back to calm her down and signaled for Ryder to approach him. He hugged both the kids as best as he was able to. Mel woke up in the chaos and practically beamed at the three of them.
After the teenagers went down to the cafeteria, Mel decided it was time to have the important conversation with Joe. “I freaked out when I thought you were going to die.”
“Why?” Joe had his suspicions, but he wanted her to say it.
Mel panicked for a second, but then calmed down and took a deep breath before plunging ahead with the conversation. “The accident made me realize that I think of you as more than just the nanny. I’m in love with you, so don’t you dare die on me, you idiot.”
Joe took her hand in his and smiled. “I love you too, Burke. And I’m not planning on dying on you anytime soon, so you can stop worrying about that. I know you’ve been freaking out quite a bit for the past few days.”
She nodded. “I was so worried about you and the kids. I don’t think I could be a single parent. How could I raise Lennox and Ryder without you? You’re such an important person in our lives, and I don’t know when that happened.”
“Come here.” When Mel leaned in, Joe kissed her. The two made out for a few minutes before he began to hurt. She climbed into bed with him and the two started cuddling. That’s how Ryder and Lennox found them when they were done eating. Lennox tried to hold back a squeal and ended up skipping into the bathroom to cry in happiness for once.
Mel went home to take a shower that night and then sneaked back into the hospital. She was eating some crackers when the machines began making weird beeping noises. The councilwoman saw the monitors flat line and just stared in shock and horror as nurses and doctors rushed into the room. One of the nurses forced her out in the hallway so they could work without interference.
The nurse came out about ten minutes later. “It’s okay to go back in, but we’re going to be monitoring him more closely form now on.”
“What … what happened?” Mel was in shock. Joe had been fine a few hours earlier! What had changed since she had run home for a rather quick visit?
The nurse explained it, but she couldn’t hear it through a haze of dizziness. She ended up being escorted to another chair and told to put her head between her knees for a few minutes. It worked and Mel calmed down within fifteen minutes.
Joe was somewhat back to normal the next day. Mel mother henned him and got him everything he asked for.
“Hey, look at me. You don’t have to worry.” Joe was starting to get a little irritated because she wasn’t leaving his side to do much of anything. He could tell she blamed herself for going home for a little while, which was stupid. It probably would have happened even if Mel had stayed, but she didn’t seem to accept that. She was drowning in guilt over not being there for an hour and a half at the most.
“I nearly lost you again, so forgive me if I’m a little worried!” Mel snapped and immediately wished she hadn’t. What was wrong with her? Why was she taking her worry out on Joe? He didn’t deserve it, and what if she caused him to flat line again? She’d never forgive herself.
Joe grabbed her hand and brought her over to his side. “Stop beating yourself up, Burke. This is not your fault. It’s the fault of the idiot who hit me. I’ll be back to normal soon.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” And with that, Mel burst into sobs again and Joe tried his best to comfort her. He rubbed her back until she calmed down and then apologized for her irrational breakdown. Joe assured her that she didn’t have to apologize over a completely normal reaction to something like this.
A week later, Joe was released from the hospital and told to take it easy. Mel and Lennox catered to his every whim (Which got annoying real fast) while Ryder tried to pretend that he hadn’t been freaked out by the accident. When Lennox caught him crying in a closet, Mel and Joe called a family meeting in which the family of four talked about everything that was bothering them because of Joe’s car accident.
They had a lot of healing to do, but at least they could heal together. Mel and Joe becoming a couple certainly helped things out a bit. However, Mel, Lennox, and Ryder suffered nightmares for years afterwards of something happening to him again.
If it hadn’t been for Joe’s car accident, Mel wouldn’t have realized her feelings for him. It had turned out to be something good in the long run.