A short wrap up of the series. Enjoy!
Soft afternoon light filtered in through the window, diffusing the the plain colored room into a subdued gray/white hue. A deep silence filled the room, the sound of the steadily humming lights and the occasional beep of medical equipment combining with it and seeming to add to the listless feeling that permeated the surroundings.
The sterile, mind numbing atmosphere made Troy feel trapped. He felt briefly like smashing the gently ticking clock against the window; just for something to do. He was anxious, tired and worried all at the same time.
He sighed, and leaned back in his chair. Looking over at the bed in the center of the room, Troy shook his head at how calmly Shadow was sleeping. It seemed he was quite used to these surroundings. Troy however, felt like screaming. What was taking so long with Shadows test results? Troy scratched his ears nervously. The longer it took to find out what was going to happen, the more Troy worried. Scenario after worst case scenario played through his mind. Was Shadow going to be okay? When he and Troy had showed up at the hospital in that creeps truck, the nurses had rushed Troy to be looked at first, with all his cuts and the fact that he could barely stand.
While they were treating him however, Shadow had passed out, falling sideways and luckily being caught by one of the nearby nurses. They'd both been taken in and given treatment. After disinfecting his cuts and wrapping him in bandages, they'd allowed him to go see Shadow. His friend had woken up a few times, but could never manage to stay awake for long, he was so exhausted.
They'd given Shadow an IV and put some of his medication in him, but they'd stopped shortly after his first blood test. They'd taken quite a few more blood samples since then. When Troy had asked the doctor what was going on, he'd just said they were "looking into something strange." That was when Troys nervousness had really kicked in.
Troy twitched and fidgeted nervously, hating just sitting here and waiting for such an indeterminable period. He wondered what had happened to their kidnappers. As far as Troy knew, they'd all simply vanished. With the nature of their injuries, there had been a lot of questions to answer. When Troy had explained the whole situation, the authorities had been called in and Troy had been forced to start answering all over again.
Johnny, the one who's truck Shadow had taken, was gone according to the officers. The same was true of Joey, Shane and Zachary. Although in the case of Joey and Shane, there was evidence that they'd hurriedly taken belongings from their home and fled the area. There was a search warrant for them and officers were on the lookout for the van Troy had described as best he could.
Troy sighed and got up. Looking over Shadow once more, he quietly left the room to get a cup of coffee. It worried him that none of their assailants had been found. What if they came back? His tail twitched nervously. Nothing they could do about it, he supposed. They'd just have to be careful and hope for the best.
Troy was startled slightly out of his thoughts as he felt a paw take hold of his arm as he walked down the hall. Troy stopped and looked behind him. Standing there was a canine he had never met before. A slightly older looking dalmation with silver rimmed spectacles and wearing a white doctors coat.
"You're Troy, right? Shadows friend?" the stranger said. He had a calm, deep voice. Troy nodded his head.
"I have some information for you concerning him. Normally, I can't discuss such things but Shadow told me last night that you should be privy to confidential information."
Troys nervousness increased slightly. "You spoke to him last night?" He said, still somewhat off balance.
"Yes, I was called in shortly after Shadow was checked in. Excuse me, I haven't introduced myself. My name is Dr. Clearfield, I've been Shadows doctor these last few years since he has suffered his peculiar illness." Seeming to just realize he still held Troys arm, the doctor released it and adjusted his glasses. "As I said, I have some information you might want to hear. Would you please join me in my office?"
Troy followed Clearfield down the hallway, taken aback slightly by the contrast of the doctors strong voice and his short, fragile looking frame. Troy was almost a foot taller than him, but the doctor projected an air that didn't make him look weak in the least. At last they reached a rather generic looking office and stepped inside. Troy guessed that this was just a temporary location and that Dr. Clearfields regular offices were at another hospital.
Clearfield moved to sit behind a large, brown desk covered in various papers. With a quick glance, Troy could tell they were documents pertaining to Shadow. Troy sat in a soft chair directly in front of the desk.
"Before I start," Clearfield began, wiping his glasses briefly with a rag pulled from his coat pocket. "Would you mind telling me how much you know of Shadows condition, so that I don't have to repeat any information you've already heard?" The doctor leaned back in his chair and looked at Troy.
Troy told him he knew about Shadows seizures, the rigid medication schedule he kept and the dark news that Shadow had been diagnosed with a short lifespan.
The doctor nooded. "Good enough, then." Leaning forward, he gathered a few of the papers from the desk into one paw and looked over them as he spoke.
"Indeed, our last tests showed various signs of failure in a few of Shadows major organs. His heart and nervous system being chief among them. Not surprising, considering the stress induced upon them during the spasming." The dalmation shook his head slowly. "I've been baffled by his condition for quite a while. We've been unable to pin point the exact cause of his problems. However, the last few months I've began to have a theory, considering his troubled past. And in light of these recent events, I tend to believe more strongly in that theory."
"What do you think is wrong with him, doctor?" Troy asked nervously. He was terrified what the doctor was going to say. That Shadow had less time than originally estimated? That there was something even worse that was going on?
Clearfield smiled at Troy knowingly. It was a gentle smile and it was apparent it was shared often. "I can see you care about him quite a bit. That is good. He'll need your help the most. Especially as I believe you are the most important development for his illness."
Before Troy could ask what he meant, the doctor cleared his throat and continued.
"Reviewing Shadows case again and again, I've come to believe that his problems somehow stem from a psychological issue. That stress and grief felt so powerfully as to literally disrupt the steady beat of his heart. This stress in turn, is what has slowly caused very real physical problems throughout the rest of his body. The medicine I gave him was for forcing his muscles to relax in order to reduce the more violent episodes, but it could do nothing for his emotional state."
Clearfield sighed and looked back down at the papers."Indeed, after our last visit I did my best to look even more closely into his history, to give credence to my theory. What I found encouraged me that Shadow might be helped. But not by us. I'm no psychologist, but looking at the pattern of intense aggression that followed the death of his parents, it's clear that the event wounded him deeper than even would normally be expected."
Troy thought back to what Shadow had told him of the last time he'd seen his parents. Of the howl of pain, rage and sadness that he had heard from his beloved wolf. He nodded and waited for the doctor to continue.
"Looking at his latest results here, it seems his last attack was severe enough to induce a mild heart attack." Clearfield shook his head, "it really is quite a miracle that he was able to overcome it like he did. It must have been incredibly painful." He lifted his head and looked at Troy intensely. "He must have been very determined."
"His last few tests are remarkably different from the ones from just a few months ago." The doctor got up and walked from around his desk, standing in front of Troy. "We'll have to keep checking on him, to make sure, but it is my belief that Shadow has found something that he cares deeply about. Something strong enough to counter the emotional trauma he's suffered for so long." He reached out and placed a firm paw on one of Troys shoulders.
"Though he is still weak and there is still some of the damage to his system, his last few tests have showed very little of the irregularities that are normally there. Most importantly, his heart is beating steadily and more strongly than it has since I first met him. I believe you are the cause of this positive development, Troy."
Troy was...shocked. He stammered a bit, unsure of what to say. Finally he said "So...what does this mean? For Shadow, I mean. Does h..." Troy choked a little bit, a well of sad emotion springing up suddenly. "Does he have...more time?"
Clearfields smile was wide this time, and he squeezed Troys shoulder. "I think, if things continue as they are now, he'll have much more time. The damage he's suffered so far is most likely recoverable. I've decided to take a slight risk and wean him off of the medication."
Troy just stared. He tried to process what the doctor was saying. This...was very incredible news. "W..what are you saying? That Shadow will...will..." Troy trailed off.
"I'm saying," the doctor said "That I'm of the opinion that if Shadow continues to progress like he is now, he'll have his whole life ahead of him once again."
Troy stared for a moment longer as the information sunk in. Then, laughing, he jumped up and hugged the doctor tightly. Shadow was going to be okay! He was okay! Oh sweet mercy of any god that ever was! Troy couldn't help it, he danced around in a short circle despite the ache this caused from his still bruised body, still holding the surprised doctor in his arms.
Troy was able to calm down eventually. Clearfield laughed a little and extricated himself from Troys arms. "We'll have to monitor him closely. I want to make absolutely sure that he is indeed recovering. We have to be cautious as well as optimistic, okay?"
Troy smiled wide, but he nodded. He felt a deep surety that this was right. That things were going to improve for Shadow. He rushed back to Shadows room, elated. When he entered, he found Shadow awake, gingerly eating a small tray of hospital food.
"You know.." Shadow said, taking a small spoonful of what appeared to be soup, "I've found this stuff isn't always as bad as you think it's going to be.." Shadows voice was a little hoarse, but he managed to smile at Troy. Troy beamed back. Outside, the clouds had begun to break up, allowing bright light to fill the room and profiling Shadow against the window with a happy, warm glow.
"You sure are all smiles...what's happened?" Shadow asked, cocking his head slightly.
Troy responded by running forward and hugging Shadow, the black wolf barely managing to put his tray back on the bedside table before Troy knocked soup over them both. During the tight embrace, Shadow began to notice that Troy was crying. Shadow smoothed back Troys ears, rocking gently back and forth. "What's the matter Troy?"
Troy finally leaned back, smiling with tears streaming down his face. Wiping his eyes with one paw, he began to relate quickly everything the doctor had told him. When he was finished, Shadow sat silently for a long moment.
So long spent reconciling to his fate....so much time spent with pain as his constant companion. He could hardly dare believe Troys words. He began to quiver slightly. "D..did..he say why? What changed? Why am I getting better?" Shadow couldn't help but shed a few tears at saying the words 'getting better'. He'd adopted hopelessness as the core of his being. He was afraid to abandon it.
Troy smiled wide again in response to the question. He took shadows face gently in his paws. "He said, he thinks you've found something important worth living for.." And with that, Troy leaned forward and kissed Shadow with all the love and passion he possessed. Trying to convey what paltry words could never adequately express. After a moment, he felt Shadows arms wrap around the back of his neck, pulling Troy towards him and returning the kiss with equal fervor.
The rest of the world faded away, the only thing of importance was the love resonating between them during the long embrace. After a time, Shadow leaned back from Troy and just looked into his eyes. Then, gradually, the brightest smile Troy had ever seen began to appear.
Then Shadow began to laugh. Pure, joyous laughter of relief and happiness. Shadow threw his arms back around Troy and continued to hold him tight as years of sorrow almost seemed to visibly fall away from him. Troy laughed with him, feeling the bright and wonderful hope that radiated out from Shadow. They kissed again, briefly, and then Troy laid out on the bed with Shadow. There they stayed, holding one another and enjoying the start of what seemed their new lives, together.
Again, I'd like to thank all my supporters. These two will be making more appearances later on. But for now, they're gonna get a much deserved break for a time, while I introduce some new characters. ^_^ I hope you all enjoyed.