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Author's Chapter Notes:

Alyssa is released from the hospital.


Chapter 52 - Wake Me Up When It's Over


            Alyssa gazed out the window of Izzy's Audi blankly as they pulled into the condominium complex's gates. It felt weird coming here to stay permanently. Usually when she'd go over to meet Nick at the condo, they'd only be there for a few hours tops. Very rarely had they spent the night even, so spending any length of time there by herself just felt strange to her. Still it was better than the hospital. At least here she'd have some sort of privacy.


            "When Nick told us about you and Sean, a bunch of us, me, Tristan, Teri, Howie, Tricia, AJ... We all went over to your house to pack up your things and we dropped them off. We haven't unpacked yet though, so you're going to see a lot of boxes around, but don't sweat it. We'll take care of everything for you," Izzy promised as she pulled into the driveway behind Alyssa's own car that was already sitting there. "Teri even drove your car over here from her and Howie's, so you're all set."


            Alyssa didn't say a word as Izzy parked the car, got out, and went around to the passenger side to help her out of the car and into the condo. When it came time for someone to pick her up from the hospital, Alyssa could only think of calling Izzy to come get her. Under better circumstances she would've called Nick, but after their argument the previous afternoon, he had made it pretty clear that he wanted nothing to do with her at the moment, so Izzy became the next logical choice. Their friendship had been a little strained and Alyssa got the feeling that Izzy was hurt that she had kept her affair with Nick a secret from her, but the two women had yet to approach the subject. They'd have plenty of time though. Izzy had immediately insisted that she couldn't possibly leave her to fend for herself in the condo while still recovering from her injuries. So for the next week at least, Izzy had insisted on staying with Alyssa on the couch. She did after all owe it to her friend after she'd stayed with her and helped take care of her right before she'd given birth to Grace almost five years ago.


            Alyssa grunted in pain as she pulled herself into a standing position from the car. Getting from one place to another was still a bitch and a half, and she needed some assistance. She hated feeling so helpless. It frustrated her to no end. Izzy rushed over to her and grabbed her arm, looking concerned. "Are you okay, Lyss?"


            She just nodded. "I just got up too fast. Let's go inside."


            Izzy helped guide her up the driveway and into the condo. It took several minutes just to reach the door and Alyssa could already feel hot, frustrated tears brimming underneath her eyelids. She felt like an old woman or something. When they finally reached inside, she looked around and just as Izzy had described there were cardboard boxes piled up everywhere. It was hard to accept that everything she owned was packed up in those boxes. If that sight wasn't depressing enough to her, everywhere she looked she saw Nick. By now they'd shared so many memories in this place it was hard not to think about him. They hadn't spoken since he'd stormed out of her hospital room the other day and she wasn't sure when she would again. She was sure that they would speak again eventually. They never could seem to stay mad at each other, but Alyssa had the feeling that he expected her to make the first move this time, something that she just plain didn't have the energy to do right now.


            "Do you want me to help you get comfortable on the couch?" Izzy's voice interrupted her thoughts. "Are you hungry? I could make you up something to eat. You're probably sick of hospital food."


            Alyssa shook her head. She had no appetite whatsoever right now. The only thing she wanted to do at the moment was to curl up in bed and pull the blankets over her head. "Can you just help me to the bedroom?" she wearily asked. "I just want to sleep."


            "But you've been sleeping pretty much for the past few days at the hospital," her friend tried to argue, but quickly gave up once she realized that her efforts were in vain. Alyssa was stubborn and it was impossible to change her mind once it was set on it. With a sigh, she helped Alyssa down the hall towards the bedroom. Once they were inside Izzy bent down to pull back the comforter for Alyssa and with her help, Alyssa settled herself in between the soft sheets almost sighing in relief. The king sized bed felt a thousand times more comfortable than the one she had been sleeping on in the hospital. Without even giving her friend a word of thanks Alyssa buried her face into one of the pillows and pretended to fall right asleep. She really wanted to be left alone right now, if only Izzy would take the hint and leave.


            Instead, Izzy sat down on the edge of the bed and reached over to stroke Alyssa's hair. "I know that you're not really sleeping," she matter of factually stated. "But I also know that no matter how much I accuse you of being awake, you won't open your eyes, so I'm just going to say what I need to say anyway." She paused taking a deep breath before she began. "I have to admit that I was pretty hurt when I found out about you and Nick and who the father of the baby really was. We've been friends for such a long time now; I just assumed that you would have told me about something as big as that. It really stung that you kept it a secret from me, especially because I know that you told Teri and Tricia. I'm pretty hurt that you seemed to be afraid to tell me the truth. I guess that maybe you were afraid that I would like judge you or something. I admit, I am totally against the idea of cheating, and I'd probably advise for you and Nick to come clean to Sean and Shayla as soon as things got underway, but I'd never like stop being your friend over something like this. Even though you might make some decisions that I don't entirely agree with you're still one of my best friends. Besides, I'm the one who introduced you and Nick in the first place, so I guess I'm probably partly to blame for the fact that the two of you can't seem to be able to keep your hands off each other. I just hope that after all you've been through together that you don't do something stupid like push him away now that you can finally be together. He's hurting too Lyss... You need to let him in."


            With that said, Izzy stood up and looked down at her. "Please think about what I just said." Then she turned around and once Alyssa heard the bedroom door close behind her she opened her eyes and sighed in relief. She'd honestly never meant to hurt her best friend by keeping secrets from her. She'd just figured that the less people that knew about her and Nick, the better. And okay... Maybe she had just been a tad bit fearful of what Izzy might think especially when she'd clearly shared her feelings on cheating to be a non negotiable. Izzy sometimes could be just a little judgmental, but she should have realized that her best friend wouldn't stop loving her because she had made some mistakes in her life.


            Then there had been her advice about Nick that had really struck her. It was true that Izzy had been the one to bring them together. They were two of her best friends in life and Alyssa could understand why Izzy felt almost responsible for their actions. They had been through hell together the past few months and deep down Alyssa knew that she wasn't being fair to him, but she just knew that she couldn't commit herself into a relationship with him right away like he wanted her to. She knew she needed to sort a few things out on her own, mainly the loss of their child and the guilt she had for being so careless in the first place. Right now everyone was begging her to open up to them, to talk about what was bothering her, but Alyssa had no desire to. A part of her seemed to have died right along with Zoey. Maybe she was being selfish just as Nick had called her out on being, but until at least she began to recover, she wanted just to be left alone...




            Over the next few days Nick found himself also beginning to become more and more listless. Dealing with losing Zoey had made him upset enough, but Alyssa's obvious rejection of him made the whole situation that much harder to handle. Everyone dealt with things differently. Even in his own past, he'd gone through tough times where he had done exactly what Alyssa was doing right now in pushing everyone away. It definitely sucked to be on the other side of the fence this time. Still, he didn't regret saying what he had to Alyssa. He felt that someone had to tell her how ridiculous she was being. He doubted that it would sink in right away, but he hoped that with the more that he avoided her, eventually she'd wake up one day and realize that she needed to make some changes. Call it tough love, but it was the only way he knew to get through to her. He just hoped that it would work. The idea of being alone after everything that had just happened terrified him.


            Howie and Teri picked up on his change of mood and had tried to be as supportive as possible. Alyssa had been home from the hospital at least a few days now and Nick was trying to fight the urge to call and check up on her. It was partly because he wanted to teach her a lesson, but the deeper reason being that he didn't want to face the chance that she wouldn't want to speak to him. He was honestly a little worried about her now that she was on her own. Of course Izzy was with her now, but Izzy couldn't stay with her forever. What was going to happen when Alyssa was all on her own? She couldn't just lay in bed all day crying for the rest of her life. He understood better than anyone that grief was a process, but sometimes you had to force yourself to appreciate those things that you still had left. Alyssa may have lost her child, her marriage, and her home, but she still had most of her friends, her family, and most importantly him. If only she'd wake up from the self pitying funk that she was in and realize all of that.


            "You should call her," Teri suggested one evening after dinner. She, him, and Howie were sitting around the table, but had yet to clear any of the dishes away.


            Nick, who had not said a word all evening looked up at her thrown by the seemingly randomness of her comment. He decided to play dumb as if to ignore the fact that he couldn't stop thinking of her. "Call who?"


            Teri just glared at him. "You know who. Alyssa... I can tell that she's been on you mind ever since she was released from the hospital. Why don't you just get it over with and talk to her already?"


            Nick sighed, realizing that he had no choice but to get involved in this topic now. "Because why should I? She should be the one calling me. She's the one who is acting like such a bitch."


            "You may have a point there, but if you're holding out for her to call you, you're going to be waiting a long time," Howie pointed out. "I'm not saying that you were wrong to go off on her like you did, but I don't think Alyssa is going to just snap out of this on her own. I think it's going to take some perseverance on your part. You have the most impact on her out of all of us."


            "But why do I have to be the one to give in to her all the time? I mean I'm going through the same shit, but she acts like she has it so much worse. Why do I have to be the one to hide how I feel and coax her out of her depression?"


            Howie just gave him a look that seemed to say duh, you should know this by now. "Because she's a woman Nick. They are always right, even when they are wrong."


            "Hey!" Teri interrupted, looking insulted. "I resent that! But seriously Nick, I know that you don't want to be the one that gives in all the time, but this is really traumatic for Alyssa and she thinks she can do this alone, but she can't. I think that you need to keep trying. Don't push a relationship right now. That's probably the furthest thing from her mind and it's just going to stress her out more. Just assure her that you're there for her and tell her that you don't want to sit around and watch her do this to herself. She'll be angry at first, but eventually she'll crack. She can't stay mad at you. Trust me on this."


            Nick sat back and thought Teri's advice over for a moment. Maybe it was a good idea to just drop the relationship issue for now and focus on getting her back to being semi-normal. They always seemed to find themselves drawn together when there was no pressure involved. He just had to have faith that they'd naturally fall back together. There really was no reason to rush it, he supposed. Of course Alyssa's mental health should be the first concern. Like he had told her, one of them had to be the stronger one in the relationship, so he assumed that it was going to have to be him.


            "The best way for the both of you to get through this is together," Howie added. "Not necessarily as a couple, but at least as friends. I think it's going to take some time and patience with her, but you've got to keep trying. At least call to see if she's made any improvements or if she is still moping around."


            "What if you just call Izzy up and see how she's doing?" Teri suggested. "You don't even have to talk to Alyssa just yet. Just so you have piece of mind of what's going on with her. Then you can decide what to do next from there."


            Her idea did sound like a good one to Nick, but he needed some time to think about it some more. "I'll think it over," he promised as he stood up from the table. "I think I'm just going to go upstairs now and watch a movie or something." He headed up the stairs towards the guest room he was staying in, and collapsed on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. He had a lot of thinking to do. Teri and Howie had made some excellent points and now Nick was more confused than ever. Maybe he was being a bit selfish himself in some respects. Maybe he'd call her... But not tonight.




            It wasn't until a few days later that Nick finally got the courage to call Alyssa. She was now home from the hospital for about a week and he was hoping for at least some sort of improvement in her attitude. Just in case though, Nick decided to call the number to the condo. That way if Alyssa picked up, he knew that it would be a good sign, and if Izzy picked up he'd at least the get the opportunity to find out how Alyssa was feeling first hand.


            The phone rang three times before he heard Izzy's familiar voice answer on the other end. "Hello?"


            "Hey Iz," he greeted her. "It's Nick. How are you doing?"


            "As good as I can be," she replied. "It's been a rough week."


            Nick felt his stomach flip flop at her words. That couldn't have been a good sign, could it? "I bet. How is Alyssa been holding up?" he tentatively asked. He held onto his breath as he waited for her answer, fearing that it would not be good.


            He heard Izzy's voice sigh on the other end of the line. This couldn't be good news at all, could it? "I'm worried about her," she confessed. "Since she's come home from the hospital she's barely gotten out of bed. All she does most of the day is watch TV, cry, and sleep. I have to practically force food down her mouth. The other day I made her get up and take a shower, but otherwise it's like she doesn't care at all what she looks like. I'd have her talk to you, but she's refused to accept any phone calls. She won't talk to her Mom or her sisters. Meg was almost ready to hop on the first plane out here yesterday, but I talked her out of it. I don't want her family seeing her like this, especially her Mother. They'd drag her right back home to New York with them. I'm not sure what to do about her, Nick. She barely talks to me and only because she has to. She's refused to have any other visitors. Honestly, I'm thinking about calling her doctor. This isn't healthy. It's like she's having a mental breakdown or something."


            "Don't do that," he begged. "They'll just throw her back in the hospital and force her to be evaluated by some shrink. She'd be really pissed at us."


            "She needs to talk someone Nick!" Izzy argued. "She can't go on like this. Maybe she does need a psychiatric evaluation. She needs help!"


            "I agree that she should talk to someone, but I just know from experience that no one can force you into it. If you're not willingly ready to accept help, then you can talk to as many professionals as you want, but it won't do you any good. She needs to want to be helped."


            "But she's never going to realize that on her own. I mean I'm not even sure if she listens to me when I talk to her. Half the time I think she's just tuning me out. Maybe you could try. She might listen more to you, than she does me."


            Nick considered her suggestion for a moment or two. He probably could get through to her better than Izzy, but the question was could he put up with any more of her ‘poor me' act? You need to keep trying, he told himself, remembering the advice that Howie and Teri had given him. She can't stay like this forever. Eventually she's got to snap out of this. "Okay, I'll stop by and try to talk to her." The words were out of his mouth before he'd even realized what he had agreed to.


            "You will? Thank you so much Nick. I know she'll listen to you," Izzy babbled on.


            "Yea, give me like an hour and I'll be there." He had no clue what he was going to say to her, but he hoped that he'd come up with something. He wasn't sure how many of these confrontations he could keep having with Alyssa before he gave up completely.




            When Nick arrived at the condo a little over an hour later, he wasn't sure what kind of state he'd find Alyssa in. Izzy met him at the door looking relieved to see him. "She's in the bedroom," she told him, as she greeted him with a quick hug. "She hasn't been out all day today. I really hope that you can talk some sense into that girl."


            "I'll see what I can do," he promised as he headed down the hall to the bedroom. The door was closed of course, but not locked, so Nick was able to open it easily. There laying in the middle of the king sized bed, Alyssa was sprawled out her head barely peeking out of the covers. Her hair lay frizzy and tangled in her face as if it hadn't been combed in days. Nick wasn't sure if she was actually really sleeping or not, but he was about to wake her. He stood in the doorway for a moment or two while he decided what his approach should be.


            He thought for a moment about the way that Izzy had been handling things with her. If he knew Izzy she had probably been begging Alyssa to wake up and get out of bed, but as the mother of a four year old she probably should've known that begging never worked. Sometimes you just had to use a little bit of force. Anger and frustration began to run through him and all of a sudden he knew what he had to do. They didn't call it tough love for nothing. He loved her and he hated to see her do this to herself. Hopefully someday she'd forgive him for this.


            He strode over to the bed and with one swift movement grabbed the comforter and ripped it away from her body, throwing the blankets to the side. Surprised by the movement Alyssa shot up in bed, dressed in a pair of baggy sweats and a loose fitting long sleeved shirt. "Why the hell did you do that for?" she cried. "I was trying to sleep."


            "You'll live. From what I hear you've been doing enough of that lately anyway. No one needs that much sleep."


            She stared at him glowering. "What are you doing here anyway? I thought that I was too ‘selfish' for you to care about?"


            "For some strange reason I actually do care about you and because I care about you I'm demanding that you get your ass out of bed, take a shower, and at least change your clothes. You look like you've been in the same outfit all week," he ordered.


            Alyssa just shrugged. "What's the point?"


            "The point is I know that you are upset about Zoey. I am too! But the world isn't going to stop revolving. You're not the only person who lost a daughter that night! I'm grieving too, but you don't see me hiding in my bed all day and alienating my family and friends," he argued. "Unlike you, I've realized that the only way I'm going to get through this to rely on my friends for support. In case you haven't noticed you have a ton of friends that are worried sick about you, a concerned family, and you even have me, although you probably don't deserve me. You have way more of a support system than most people and you're pushing everyone away! One day you'll going to wake up and realize that you have no one left. Do you want that?"


            Alyssa just shook her head and sighed. "Sounds like something I told you like five years ago."


            "And what did I do?" he challenged. "I realized I was destructing my life, I woke up, and I changed! Okay, it wasn't exactly the same thing, but you can't keep doing this to yourself Lyss! You have to face the world sooner or later. No one is expecting you to just get over it right away, but you're not even doing anything to try! Do you know that Izzy is thinking of calling up Dr. Spencer and trying to see if she can have you admitted back into the hospital? She's worried that you're having a mental breakdown. She thinks that maybe you needed to be examined by a psychiatrist. I'm starting to wonder if maybe she's right."


            "No!" Alyssa broke in, looking horrified at even the idea. "I'm not going back to the hospital and I am certainly not being evaluated by some shrink! I'm not crazy!"


            "Then you really need to stop feeling so sorry for yourself and act like a human being. If you're not crazy then prove it by at least getting out of bed and doing something, even if it's just going into the living room to watch a movie with Izzy. You can't do this to yourself anymore Alyssa! So many people want to help you, but you refuse to let anyone in. You can't do this to yourself!"


            Alyssa stared at him long and hard as the realization hit her that Nick was completely right. Once it sunk in how much she had hurt all those others around her who had only been trying to help, she couldn't help, but to begin to tear up. "What have I done?" she asked out loud as she began to cry harder. Before she realized it her body was shaking with sobs. "I'm so sorry Nick," she apologized. "You were right. I've been nothing but a selfish little bitch throughout this whole thing."


            Nick looked down at her sympathetically. He wasn't quite sure, but he had a feeling that he might just be witnessing a major breakthrough with her. Dropping his tough act he sat down on the edge of the bed and wrapped his arms around her waist. Immediately her head dropped to his shoulder and he held her consolingly, much like he had when he had first told her about Zoey. "I've been so unfair to you," she continued on sobbing.


            "Shh..." he told her as he held her tighter to him and stroked her back. "Let's not talk about this now. We'll do that another day." He pulled away for a second and cupped her chin so that they were eye to eye. "Just promise me that you're going to start taking care of yourself, okay? I couldn't bear to lose both you and Zoey."


            Alyssa just nodded her head and for the first time in a week finally felt as if things weren't as bleak as they had originally seemed. "I promise," she told him and this time she meant it.

Chapter End Notes:

Just one last thing (well actually two.) First off I just got an idea for a prequel/spin off kind of story about Nick and Alyssa. It won't EXACTLY be a prequel because it'll focus on their relationship on the B&B tour specifically. Just basically how they get their relationship back on course after Katie and the situations they face while on the road. There's also a nice Mean Girls element to it because Alyssa gets harassed a little by the other dancers and it'll tap into some of her insecurities. I thought it could be interesting, but I'm not sure if you all woul be interested in reading that or find it overkill. So, let me know if you like the idea and I'll start working on it because I have plenty of ideas. I am also outlining the next story When My World is Crashing and I was wondering if there is anything specific that you might want to see happen in that story (besides Alyssa and Nick getting married and having another baby cuz I know you all want that lol) Thanks guys!