The Promise
by Carrie Krumtum
circa June 1997

This story is based an characters created by J. Parriott and B. Cohen
for the TV series Forever Knight.

The Promise
c. 1996 by Carrie Krumtum
'I WILL BE HERE' words and music by Steven Curtis Chapman

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the sun does not appear
I, I will be here

Mortals get sick. They grow ill, they suffer. That is the way of
mortality. Just knowing that did help him, though. It didn't do a damn
thing to ease the fear and worry. God, she looks so small...

It was just two days ago that they had their argument, their latest
argument. You only argue with people you love because their opinions are
the only ones that matter to you, really. It was absolutely true where
she was concerned. They argued over the usual things and the argument
had ended like they almost always did. He had told her that maybe it was
time for him to move on. Sometimes he meant it, sometimes he didn't. It
was just a way to stop the war when he was tired.

Looking down at her now, he realized that no matter how often he
threatened to leave, he never would. Not while she was with him. He
simply couldn't. There was no way for her to know that, though.

Of course, he had never told her how he felt. How he really felt. The
depth of his love and his need for her. It was a common mistake, the
nurses in the Intensive Care Unit told him. Loved ones wait until times
like this to try and express everything they kept secret out of fear or
selfishness.

Sometimes, it's just too late. But sometimes, miracles happen and loved
ones are drawn closer together. Sometimes...

He stroked the back of her hand. "I will be here when you wake up. I
promise, I won't leave you. I'll be here, Nat. I love you."

If in the dark we lose sight of love
Hold my hand and have no fear
'Cause I, I will be here

"I just don't understand how this could've happened."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Knight. It's a hard thing, I know. We never really know
when or why these things happen either. All we can do is treat her with
all the power at our disposal and pray for the best. She's young and
strong. There's every chance she will get better."

"Is there?"

A routine surgery. Arthroscopic surgery to her bad knee. Minimal risk.
A blood clot that travelled to her lung. Pulmonary embolis. Sudden and
deadly. They treated her immediately, but the worst possible
complication set in in less than twenty-four hours. Adult Respiratory
Distress Syndrome. Her lungs filled with fluid. A machine had to force
the oxygen into them to keep her alive. They used drugs to keep her
still. Neuromuscular blockade. She was paralyzed to give her body the
best chance to respond to the treatment, to diminish the risk of further
complications.

They told him she could still hear him, even though she couldn't move.
They gave her sedation to keep the panic at bay. It was like she was
dead. He could hear her heartbeating. It didn't matter that he had ears
that weren't human, the monitor blipped continuously with the cadence of
her heart's rhythm. The swooshing of the ventilator created a constant
roar of noise. Light levels in the room created artificial days and
nights.

He never left. One family member could stay, so he did. He was all she
had. She was all he wanted. He held to her hand and whispered to her.
"I'm here, Nat. You're not alone. I'll never leave you alone. I will be
here. I promise."

I will be here when you feel like being quiet
When you need to speak your mind, I will listen
And I will be here when the laughter turns to crying
Through the winning, losing and trying, we'll be together
'Cause I will be here

Six years. She had been there for him every moment for six years. When
he was hurt and when he wounded others, she comforted and chastised him.
When he was angry, she bore the brunt of his storms. When he needed to
share, she leant him her ear. Constant and steady. Strong and sure.
Strength with grace and beauty.

She teased him and he played jokes on her. When her job got to be too
much, he enfolded her in his embrace. When she cried he cried with her.
What they had was what each of them needed. Each other.

The efforts continued. Some with better success than others. She still
laughed at his faces when he tasted her recipies. She still chided him
when he forgot his vitamins. They rejoiced in each little victory and
forgave each other the failures. It was a joint effort. It always would
be.

The reward was no longer just his freedom. It was a life together.
They kept the words carefully unspoken, protecting their hearts from the
pain of failure. Success would mean very little without her. He caressed
back her soft hair from her face and kissed her cheek above the tape
that held the tube in place. "I'm right here, Nat. We're in this thing
together, remember? Together. I'll be here when you wake up. I promise."

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the future is unclear
I, I will be here

"You have to go outside now."

That's what they always tell you when there's something really wrong.
The tones and bells and alarms made the room roar with their protests.
Her lungs were not clearing up. It was becoming harder and harder to
ventilate them. Her heart had slowed dangerously and her blood pressure
dropped. Touch and go. Damn. God. Why?

He could hear every word said in that room from his place in the
hallway. He wasn't listening to the words in the room. He was listening
to the continued sound of her heart. Every beat was a promise for one
more chance to survive. Every second that she continued to hang on to
life was another second closer to the time she would be well again. She
had to be well again.

Silent tears. "Hang in there, Nat. Don't leave me, please. You promised
you would help me. How can you help me if you're not here? You have to
be here, Nat. You promised."

As sure as seasons are made for change
Our lifetimes are made for years
So I, I will be here

Seven days. Her lungs were clearing, finally. The pressure required to
ventilate her was nearing normal. Today, if all went well, they would
stop the medication that kept her paralized. She would wake up. If she
could wake up. There were no guarantees. He waited.

He held to her hand that was restrained now to prevent her from trying
to pull the tube out. He squeezed her hand, she squeezed back. Nat!
Thank you, God. "Nat! I'm right here. It's going to be alright. I
promise. I'm here, Nat."

I will be here, and you can cry on my shoulder
When the mirror tells us we're older, I will hold you
And I will be here to watch you grow in beauty
And tell you all the things you are to me
I will be here

She argued with him. He knew that she would. He didn't care. No way was
she going home by herself. Not after what she had been through. The
doctor had told him to keep an eye on her. He was going to do just that.

She argued with him. He smiled. He wouldn't do it ever again. He would
never tell her that it would be better if he left. It wasn't the truth
anyway...

"What are you smiling at!"

"You."

She stopped. His smile was contageous. Her anger left her as he moved
to embrace her.

I will be true to the promise I have made
To you and to the One who gave you to me

"I will be here for as long as you need me, Nat. That's what the doctor
told me to do. Argue all you like. A promise is a promise."

"You made other promises as well." Her voice was quiet as she spoke
into his shoulder.

"I know."

I, I will be here

"A promise is a promise," he told her.

And just as surely as seasons are made for change
Our lifetimes are made for years

"I do need you, you know?" she told him.
"Yeah?" There was laughter in his voice. Joy.
"Yeah."

So I, I will be here

"Nat?"

"Hmm?"

"I WILL be here. I promise."

We'll be together
I will be here

"And we'll be together," she whispered.
"Forever."

The End