19 - Reunited: Day Two

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Alan stepped out of the taxi he'd taken from the hospital and approached the front door of the hotel, looking defeated. He sighed as he caught sight of a few paparazzi standing on the sidewalk, watching the hotel in hopes of catching a glimpse of one of the Backstreet Boys or Spice Girls. Alan dropped his head, hoping to pass the men without them noticing him, but a few of them immediately raced to Alan's side as he approached the door.

"Mr Chisholm, can we please have a word?" one of the reporters asked as he took pictures of Alan.

"Is Melanie doing all right?" another asked. "What has she said about Mr Darwin?"

"How long before Melanie is released from hospital, Mr Chisholm?" shouted another.

Alan quickened his pace and pushed his way into the hotel. A few paparazzi attempted to follow, but were stopped by security and escorted back outside. Alan inhaled deeply and approached the elevator. A few people looked at him once he was in the elevator, but remained polite and let him be. It was obvious from Alan's face that his visit with Melanie hadn't gone well. He quietly left the elevator on the 26th floor and made his way to his room.

"Alan?" Pauline asked. She had a full bucket of ice in hand and a concerned look on her face. "Is everything all right?"

"No," Alan replied, his voice gravelly. "It didn't go very well."

"We just ordered dinner," Pauline explained. "Come join us. The boys are there and you look like you need to talk." Alan nodded and sighed, following Pauline into the group's suite.

Upon entering the suite, all conversation ceased and everyone looked at Alan. Emma's face fell as she took in Alan's expression and Paul quickly placed his hand on her shoulder to comfort her.

"Dad?" Stuart asked.

"She wasn't so keen on having visitors," Alan announced honestly, sounding defeated as he sank into a nearby chair.

"What happened?" Stuart pressed.

"Short answer, she freaked out and the doctors had to sedate her," Alan confessed sadly. "The psychiatrist they have working with her thinks Melanie may have some memory of us somewhere deep down, but because all she really remembers right now is being with that man, she thinks Melanie may have either confused us with him or thinks we're just like him, from what I understand. It's all speculation at the moment though."

Pauline set the ice bucket on the cupboard next to the sink before sitting next to Emma and wrapping her arm around her.

"Apparently, her reaction was a good sign," Alan continued. He rubbed his face warily and sighed. "It might mean she isn't completely lost. But, for now, my daughter has no idea who I am and thinks I'm an abusive cunt."

"You can't take it personally, Alan," Pauline warned. "I'm sure we'll get her back eventually." Alan nodded and forced a smile. "Did you get to see her at all?"

"I was able to hold her for a bit once she was out," Alan sniffed tearfully. "She had much more colour to her today. She still refuses to eat or drink anything, so they put in a tube to feed her once she was sedated," Alan stated. He pinched the bridge of his nose and fought back tears before continuing. "Apparently, she's healing well though. Her doctor said the swelling in her brain has gone down quite a bit over the last few hours."

"Did they say anything about having the girls visit?" Pauline asked as she hugged Emma tighter.

"They're not recommending a great deal of visitation at the moment," Alan replied. He looked regretfully over at Emma. "They think it might be best to give her a few days to get comfortable around myself and Joan and a few staff members who are with her consistently."

Emma nodded and cried softly, torn between wanting to see Melanie and knowing she wasn't going to be the same. "If you want, I can go tell the others," Pauline suggested, turning her attention back to Alan. "I know this is hard on you. You could use a bit of a break."

"I'd really appreciate that," Alan replied gratefully.

"Let's have a bit to eat first," Pauline stated, standing up and walking over to the kitchen cupboard. "Give our minds a bit of a rest for a moment. It's best to tackle the hard tasks after a bit of food."

-0-0-

"Melanie Chisholm, age twenty four and known worldwide as Sporty Spice of the Spice Girls, was recovered last night after disappearing following a vehicular accident on June 18th. Melanie, along with Brian Littrell and AJ McLean of the Backstreet boys, were ejected from their tour bus on route 234 and were recovered individually by search and rescue crews, Melanie being the last to be found. Melanie and Brian became separated on the 23rd of June, when Brian was recovered by rescue helicopter. We learned just a few moments ago that Melanie had then been abducted by Otis Darwin and held in captivity for twelve days. Darwin was arrested this morning and is being charged with abduction and assault and battery. Melanie's current condition at this time is not known."

Penny and Judy were standing at the nurses' desk of the eighth floor, watching the news. As the reporter informed viewers about Otis's capture and incarceration, videos and photos of Otis and the basement where Melanie had been locked away flashed on the screen.

"That bastard," Penny spat, sitting back and shaking her head. "Officer Shaw said one of the officers working with search and rescue had spoken with him when Melanie was still missing and he completely denied seeing her. Apparently, the creep covered his house in animal urine to throw off the search and rescue dogs."

"Twelve days in that tiny, little closet with no clue who she is or where she's from," Judy chided. "No wonder the poor thing is so terrified."

"The neighbours, the ones that found Melanie, say he never was very social," Penny explained. "He kept to himself, so no one really worried about him."

Judy shook her head and sighed, looking back at the TV as it displayed a few pictures of Melanie from various different photoshoots as well as the footage of her arrival at the hospital just a few hours earlier.

As the two women gossiped and listened to the news, Melanie quietly slipped out of bed, careful not to make a sound. She gingerly removed the IV from the back of her hand and unplugged her heart monitor before removing the electrodes taped to her chest. She attempted to slip her hand out of the bracelet around her wrist, but it was too tight and, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't bite through the plastic to break it off. Giving up on the bracelet, she held her breath and approached the door before peeking into the hallway. She could hear the women, but couldn't see them from where she was standing. Further down the hall, a male nurse was doing room checks and a janitor was mopping the floor near the emergency exit.

She waited until the nurse disappeared into one of the rooms before opening the door of her room and bolting through the corridor toward the exit.

"Oh!" Judy gasped, caught off guard as Melanie tried to make her escape. Penny shook her head tiredly and calmly began walking in the direction Melanie was running. As Melanie approached the door to the stairs, the bracelet on her wrist caused the door to lock, preventing her from escaping. She pulled on the doorknob, but the door remained locked tight and she fell to her knees, choking back a sob.

Penny slowly approached her, her shoes tapping lightly on the tile floor causing Melanie to tense and quickly get to her feet. She looked at Penny fearfully and attempted to open the door behind her back. Penny stopped just a few feet away from her and smiled sadly.

"Melanie, honey?" Penny asked. "Where are you trying to go?" Melanie shrugged, avoiding eye contact with Penny as she sank to the floor and hugged her knees. "I know you feel like you're being locked up again, but it's just to keep you safe," Penny explained. "Why don't we go for a walk? Maybe that will help?" She held out her hand and waited for Melanie to accept the offer. Melanie looked back at her and sighed before getting to her feet and hugging her arms to herself. Penny dropped her hand and led Melanie into the elevator to tour around the hospital.

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