Dr.Armaan Malik….. Armaan ....Nikki's best friend…..the bane of his existence.
Holding Nikki's hand to lend her comfort, Abhi's thoughts shift to Armaan. From day one there had been an underlying tension between the two. He had started as the head of Sanjeevani, replacing Dr. Shashank. He knew it would never go down well with anyone in Sanjeevani. He had told the board so, but how much could you explain to hardnosed businessmen whose bottom-line was profits.
Dr. Shashank's reputation preceded him. He was not only a well known neurosurgeon but an equally loved and respected boss and human being. The first job they had given him was to fire Dr. Keerti. He closed his eyes shaking his head at the memories. He had done his job and though rest of the parties understood perfectly well that it wasn't his own decision but the board's he was implementing, Dr. Armaan Malik had to start his revolt.
One after the other memories came flooding back…..Riddhima confronting him in the lift, Armaan and the interns fighting to get Dr. Keerti back, Save Sanjeevani Concert, Nikki….he stopped right there, reminiscing how he had found her heart broken after the concert and how she had tried to do everything in her power to get fired and how he had done everything in his power to make her stay.
His face twisted into a humorless smile, a smile which was mocking to his own self. To make her stay…..for what? For one day to be fighting death? It would have been better if he had let her go. She would have still been in love with Armaan and not him but would have not been in this situation and his heart wouldn't have been shattered into a million pieces.
He hadn't even realized when he had fallen in love with her amidst all that fighting and teasing. One thing though he knew for sure, he had fallen hard….she was his life and he could not live without her how much he tried to make himself believe otherwise.
His thoughts shifted back to Armaan. How he had interrupted their tender moment outside Drs. Keerti and Shubhankar's wedding venue. He always jumped in even if he wasn't needed. He had tried his best to make Abhimanyu uncomfortable and when Nikki was on the verge of sharing her feelings, Armaan had decided to make an appearance. Abhimanyu's temper spiked at the mere thought of the pool incident but he shook his head to clear away the memories. These memories had done enough damage already in his life. He did not need to hold on to them. He needed to move on, make new and better memories with Nikki. She needed him and he needed her…..desperately.
His eyes narrowed and he resolved to himself, "This time Dr. Malik, I will make sure that you don't come between us . This time Nikki, I will show you what love is all about" his eyes soften at the last part and he lovingly rubs his thumb on her hand.
Watching her sleep soundly, he gently untangles his hand from hers and gets up to leave for home. It had been a long day. He had found out that his Nikki was going to be lost to him forever but thankfully he had gotten her back. The fighter in her had made her fight for her life and come back to him, to fight some more. He laughed a little at his analogy of her.
He loved her spirit, he loved her smile, he loved how her eyes flashed when she was arguing, he loved how she looked everywhere but at him as soon as he came close to her, he loved to see her blush……he loved her so much. He would make sure that all these emotions played back on her face soon, but this time, exclusively for him.
He bent down to place a kiss on her forehead and she turned her face towards him a secret smile on her lips. He gently touched her nose and whispered in her ear, "When you wake up Nikki, I will make sure you remember who kissed you…..how much ever you don't want to remember me, I will fight with you till the end to make sure you remember how much I love you" and cupped her face and brushed his lips with hers. He straightened and watched her for some more time and finally managed to tear his gaze away from her peaceful face and walked into the dark night, determined to win his love back.
The next day, Abhimanyu reached Sanjeevani bright and early and his heart and feet lead him straight to Nikki's ward. He saw her door open and walked in to see her struggling to sit up. She was pushing herself up on her arms with all her might. She was biting her lower lip to control her pain and her face was a little red with her effort and her breathing labored. He wanted to rush to her side and help her sit up but he knew that this action of his would not endear him to her.
Very softly he uttered, "You can take help from the nurses Dr. Nikita" and saw her eyes flying to his face at the sound of his voice. He saw a hint of tears in her eyes for her inability to sit and her disability but she swallowed them as soon as she saw him.
"I wanted to try on my own" she avoided looking at him, her eyes lowered. She did not understand why her heart started hammering when he was in her vicinity. Armaan had told her something about him being hers but she couldn't understand what he meant. She looked at him from the corner of her eyes and saw him looking at her intently.
He came forward and asked her gently, "Do you want my help?" His eyes were kind. He looked at her with not the professional stare of a doctor but as if he knew her well but was waiting for her to be comfortable with him.
"I…I don't know" she whispered, confused at the thoughts which were muddling her brain. Her heart answered a resounding yes to his query but her brain told her that he was a stranger to her.
He gave her a small smile and she smiled back at him confused. He had not gotten mad at her answer but was dealing patiently with her. "Would you prefer a nurse….I can ring for her" he helped her out of her dilemma and she shook her head a no.
"It …..It's Ok…..if you help me" she said hesitantly and he simply came forward and helped her sit up. As soon as his arms went around her waist, to lift her up, her breath hitched in her throat. His perfume filled her senses and it was a very familiar and comforting feeling. Instinctively, her hold on his shoulder tightened and she bunched his shirt and let his strength lift her into a sitting position. Having him this close made her heart go wild with happiness.
Happiness? Why was she happy? She didn't even know him and she was happy that he was close to her? She let go of him as soon as he helped her sit and when very slowly he took his arms away, she felt bereft. He looked at her, his hand rising to touch her face but she noticed that it fell back on his side as soon as he noticed her staring up at him confusedly. He took a step back and sat on the stool next to her.
"How do you feel?" he asked her, taking the chart from her bedside and starting to study it and she felt as if he had deliberately created a distance between them and she hated him for it.
Hated? Now she hated him because he was behaving like a doctor? She was going crazy…..she needed to get her mind checked….had the accident been so severe that she had lost her senses? Catching her staring at him, he looked up and raised an eyebrow and she blushed at being caught in the act.
"What did you say?" she says in a rush to divert him from her staring but she sees a small smile light up. "I wasn't saying….but asking…..how are you feeling?" his eyes laugh at her and she lowers her s to avoid his gaze which was bothering her because she couldn't place him in her memory but the feelings she knew were not new.
"I …I am fine" she blurts but recovers and looks at him, "My legs…..I can't feel them….no one answered me yesterday but I need to know….how bad are my injuries? Will I walk?" she asks him with a catch in her voice and he feels her pain and it reflects in his eyes and she notices.
"I am sorry Nikita" he places his hand on hers and her eyes follow his action. She stills as soon as he touches her, but the contact is brief.
"Sorry?" she questions her brow furrowed and he changes tracks because he knew that this wasn't the time or the place to tell her about how sorry he was that she was in this position and how desperately he wanted his old Nikki back, the one who didn't think twice about jumping down his throat if he remotely teased her.
"Why did you say sorry? I am going to be fine na….…please tell me" she panics and he asks her to calm down.
"Nikita…..I meant …I am sorry that you have to be here…..but yes you will be fine….there is nothing severely wrong with your legs….. you will have them fully back but you might have to go through physiotherapy" he tells the agitated girl and sees her relax a bit at his answer.
"Ok" she says in a small voice and Abhi feels guilty at having put her in this position. "I am always so careful….I…I can't remember the accident….I am trying hard" she mumbles to herself her brow furrowed.
"Nikita…..don't stress yourself…..you will remember everything with time….please concentrate on getting better and letting time heal some wounds" he advises her and she nods. He smiles at her and she returns a half hearted smile back.
There is a knock at her door and Armaan enters smiling at Nikki and giving a dark look to Abhimanyu who returns the favor. A smile lights up her sad face as soon as she looks at her friend and Abhi observes quietly.
"How are you Nikki?" Armaan greets her and she smiles.
"Better" she answers.
The nurse follows in and tells the two men to give her privacy as she wanted to do some tests and help her get fresh. They both nod and start to leave.
"I'll be back in a few minutes Nikki…..once you get done…Ok" Armaan tweaks her nose and heads out.
"Take care Nikita…..I will see you around" Abhimanyu says and she nods her head.
Both walk out together and once out of earshot, Armaan turns on Abhi. "You can't stay away from her can you? Or let her be in peace? How is she going to recover without stressing herself if all you try is to remind her of you?" he points an accusing finger at him.
"Dr. Malik….I am not an intern like you….I know what is good for her and what is not……and you are really worried about her….aren't you….then where were you when she was crying in the night due to a nightmare? When she held my hand and asked me not to leave?" Abhimanyu is incensed and gives it back to Armaan. As soon as Armaan opens his mouth to reply, Abhi raises his hand, "Don't bother with your excuses….I know where you were……mooning over Riddhima…..sure shows your concern over Nikki" he finishes caustically and Armaan is outraged.
"Why are you dragging Riddhima here?" he asks taking a step closer but sees Abhimanyu's eyes darken with rage and stops. "It hurt did it not? Now you know how it feels to put your feet on someone's toe…..and Dr. Malik…..before you lecture me on how to deal with Nikki…..either you take the responsibility of looking after her or learn to mind your own business" he gave a piece of his mind to Armaan, who though looking after Nikki was repeating the same pattern as he had been known to time and again.
"I can look after her Dr. Modi……she really doesn't need you" he replied back.
"You know that how?" Abhimanyu asked him, his hands moving to his waist and eyes flashing. His stance reflecting, that he was ready for a verbal duel.
Armaan takes a deep breath to calm himself. He had promised himself and Riddhima that he would understand Abhimanyu's side of the matter but whenever he saw Nikki lying in the hospital bed, his heart broke for her and he felt her pain and that drove him to pick a fight with Abhimanyu.
Somewhere in the back of his mind he still blamed Abhimanyu for everything. Not because he believed it blindly but just coz it happened to dim the pain. He knew the man in front of him loved his best friend. He had seen it in his eyes, actions and words. He needed to give Abhimanyu a break. He needed to work with him for Nikki's sake. Their stupid clashes had already landed her in the hospital .If anything more happened because he was adamant, he would never be able to forgive himself.
"Dr. Malik, I haven't seen you this quiet ever…….. cat got your tongue?" Abhimanyu tried to get a rise out of him but Armaan just grimaced.
"Where were you going? Office or meeting?" Armaan asks avoiding the bait.
Abhimanyu's eyebrows rise in surprise but he is in no mood to relent or play goody two shoes, so he replies, "Why do you need that information? You plan to get the rest of your gang and get them to lecture me too?"
"Look Dr. Modi……I agree I was out of line…..sorry…..Ok…..I just don't know what gets into me….all I can say is that I really worry for Nikki" he tried to make his point understood. The fight goes out of them both and they look away from each other.
"Dr. Malik……I understand your concern………but that doesn't mean you should step into the bounds of our relationship…..I hope you understand" Abhi tries to put across his point in clear words and Armaan nods.
"Dr. Modi…..I understand everything but all I hope is that you don't pressure her to remember you….I know it is difficult for you to live with that" Armaan lays down his concern and Abhimanyu counts till ten to get a grip on his temper. He was trying really hard to explain to Armaan but they were going around in circles. Some or the other way it always came back to Abhi being close to Nikki, being harmful for her.
He closed his eyes and thought of Nikki's beautiful face to control his anger. He opened them a little more composed. "For the last time Dr. Malik…..and I am not going to repeat this…..I care about her getting well too….so stop preaching ….if you can't help us don't try to make anything worse……as for her not remembering me……don't worry….I am in no hurry…..all I care is that she heals well" he tells Armaan with as much patience as he can muster, knowing that if Armaan said one more time that he be careful or anything remotely like that, he would not be able to clamp his urge to throttle him bare handed, Abhimanyu walks away.
Armaan shakes his head at Abhimanyu's retreating figure and walks inside his friend's ward after the nurse walks out.
"So Nikki….you scared us" he tells her laughing, trying to make light of a very tense situation and trying to place a smile on her face.
"A…Armaan….I didn't know you worked here……where were you initially?" Nikki asks him and Armaan realizes that it wasn't only Abhimanyu she had forgotten but everything of their almost two years of internship was lost in the dredges of her memory.
His friend not only needed him but this was the time when Abhimanyu's love and presence would make a world of difference in her life as no one knew the fact that Nikki had run away from her parent's house a long time ago and he had promised her that he would never tell anyone where she was. He was not about to break his promise to her anytime soon and that meant that Abhimanyu and he were going to be her family.