"What?" Nikki says softly but her eyes register shock, which turns into surprise and then contentment but she lowers her eyes immediately to hide the last expression which she knew wouldn't be missed by Armaan who was keenly watching her.
The words though shocking, made her feel happy. Her feelings and the thoughts which had been cropping in her mind without warning, at his nearness could be put down to a reason now. She had not lost her brains but the tug her heart felt and the happiness which engulfed it, the moment he walked into the room was because they loved each other. She blushed at the thought of being in love with the handsome man, who right about now was furious with rage at Armaan.
"What?" Abhimanyu bellows his eyes burning with rage but he is helpless as Nikki looks up at him sharply from her pondering at his almost hysterical scream. He closes his eyes from her frank gaze not wanting to confuse her or simply not wanting her to look into his soul as she was unknowingly apt at doing.
All he wished was to strangle the pest called Armaan Malik. His hands clenched at his sides at the mere thought of it, the blood gushing in his head. He was so mad at that dimwit that he really wanted to throttle him dead. He talked to himself to calm down for Nikki's sake. She did not need to see this and this very thing had landed her here in the first place.
"Is it true?" her soft, unsure voice compels him to clamp his rage and open his eyes. The dimwit was laughing at him so he decided to just look at Nikki. "She matters, she is important" he repeated in his mind, trying to ignore her friend. That part, he would take care of later.
She was looking at him with a question and a mixture of fear and excitement in her big beautiful eyes. He could see that she was not sure how to react to the news. He really wanted to kill Armaan. He had put her in quandary again.
He went closer to her and glared at Armaan who moved from her side and went and stood with his back to the wall. Abhimanyu turned in his direction and in a frigid tone asked, "Are you done or have something more to say to your best friend, who by the way isn't in the best shape" using sarcasm as a weapon.
Smiling, Armaan raises his hands and shakes his head in a No. Nikki looks at this brief exchange with interest trying to figure out if Abhimanyu was mad that she found out that they were together or was he angry that Armaan had spilled the beans and he was worried for her. She desperately wanted to believe that he was worried for her but his expression belied her thought.
"So if you are done…..you can leave" he tells Armaan who gives him a smile, which his hand itches to wipe off his smug face. That irritating, interfering so called friend had done it again; created another round of confrontation between him and her.
"Actually Dr. Modi, I am here to take Nikki for her physiotherapy session and am waiting for a wheelchair…..so you two" he points at both, "continue….don't mind me" he completes, dragging Abhi's temper through the roof. He took a step forward towards Armaan, ready to punch him in the face.
All this while, Nikki had been watching Abhimanyu closely. He was really angry, so angry that his anger was palpable and the tension in the room could have been sliced with a knife. It's a simple question….why is he so angry? Nikki wondered, not understanding his anger at all.
"Abhimanyu" she called his name softly, before his anger got the better of him and he throttled her friend, the wish stamped on his face and very easy to read.
At her soft chiming of his name, his attention shifted to her and the rage in his eyes turned to tenderness in a spilt of a second. She drew in a breath at the naked play of emotion on his face but it was gone in a second and a mask of nonchalance replaced it.
"It's a simple question" she tells him and looks up at him with a frank gaze.
"Look Nikki….it's not that simple…..he is out of line here" Abhi tells her, pointing at Armaan.
"Excuse me……what did I say wrong?" Armaan jumps to his own defense and comes and stands next to Nikki, his hand on her shoulder. Abhimanyu's eyes register his possessive action and then he understands that it was not a slip of tongue but a very deliberate and planned action from Armaan's side. What he is unable to understand is Why?....Why did he need to do something like this. They needed to talk. Actually he needed to talk with the friend and give him a piece of his mind.
Before Abhimanyu can answer, the nurse arrives with the wheelchair and tells them that Nikita needs to reach for her session in time and Armaan wheels her out of the room. Nikki's probing gaze refuses to leave Abhimanyu all the while , so he goes near her and tells her, "I'll see you later……take care of yourself and work hard …OK" and as he tries to touch her cheek, she moves her face away and looks the other way, her anger apparent in her eyes and rigid stance.
Abhimanyu stands back, knowing that he was in big trouble. Armaan…..it was all thanks to him. He shakes his head and goes back to his meetings. Though his day is extremely busy with back to back meetings and not a second to breathe in between, he still manages to keep a check about Nikki's condition, half his mind on her. Finally he gets done around 6:30 pm and decides to go and meet Nikki , who, he knew was going to be furious at him.
Instead of walking towards her ward, he goes to his office and flops on his chair tiredly, thinking about how to handle the new situation thrust on his head. Rubbing the back of his neck, he closes his eyes and lays his head on the back of his chair. He had not slept well since the pool incident. He was tired but Armaan Malik was hell bent upon extracting some or the other revenge from him. He sighed tiredly.
That man made him furious but till his antics were limited to hurting him, he could handle it. Today though, he had gone too far. What had made him tell Nikki so dramatically that she was his girlfriend?
His mind got stuck on the word girlfriend. It felt weird….not that he didn't like the implication of the word, but he knew that it was far from the truth. He was madly in love with her and if there was any doubt left in his mind as to how much she mattered to him, her accident and subsequent memory loss had made sure that he realize the full force of his feelings.
Nikki's feelings….they were a different story altogether. He always felt that her feelings for him were governed by Armaan. He hated that name. He made a face and poured himself a glass of water and drank it thirstily. She has never told him her feelings not that she hadn't tried but it had not mattered at that time. Burning anger had never made him listen to whatever she had come to say. Her emotions in limbo and the insecurity it brought with it were getting difficult to handle.
He massaged his head, as he could feel the start of a raging headache. A headache he couldn't afford as he still had to talk to his girlfriend .He picked up the phone and instructed that Dr. Armaan be paged to report to his office. He was going to kill him today and finish the problem once and for all.
Armaan entered his office and before Abhimanyu could launch into one of his famous moods, he made a serious face and started, "Dr. Modi ….…I had a reason".
Abhimanyu's blazing eyes turn glacial and he sat back to listen to the reason. Armaan knew that he could not blow this or this time he would be dead. What he had thought funny in her ward had not gone down well with his boss.
"I am waiting Dr. Malik….for your reason….do you need some time to think about why you wanted to put your friend's recovery in jeopardy?" Abhimanyu's cold tone cut into his thoughts.
"I spoke to Dr. Shashank, Dr. Modi" he enlightens the man who was rigid with anger, "he said that I could….we could at least make some efforts to remind her stuff….her reports are normal and she is recovering well" he tells him that it wasn't an action to jeopardize his friend's recovery.
"I see….so you decide to tell her that she is my girlfriend? You told her about the same relationship, you have been against since the first day……..why? How does it work to your advantage….now?" he comes to the point and asks the question which had been bothering him.
"What do you mean how does it work to my advantage? She was upset at Riddhima being your girlfriend; I just told her the truth" Armaan replies.
"The truth….…I see……since when is it "the truth" for you?" Abhimanyu makes a quoting gesture with his fingers, "if my memory serves me right, it was just a few days ago you told me that I should stay away from her for her to recover….right?" Abhimanyu throws his past action on his face and gets up to come around his table and stands with his arms folded on his chest and his feet a little apart and looks at his intern questioningly.
"At that time I thought this was the best idea" Armaan mumbles, looking away.
"What changed, Dr. Malik?" Abhi probes.
"Nothing" replies Armaan.
"Lie" points out Abhimanyu.
"Well I just made it easier for you….and you are actually grilling me like a lawyer….what do you want Dr. Modi?" Armaan gets irritated and shoots at him.
"Dr. Armaan Malik, Nikita's best friend, the man who fought tooth and nail with me, who made sure that Nikki doesn't make a mistake by falling for a man who used her….. is helping the same man by making his life easier and asking why it makes him question it…..excellent" Abhimanyu applauds sarcastically and Armaan turns red.
"The truth , for once would help" Abhimanyu says shortly and rests against his table, patiently waiting for the answer and watching closely the play of emotions which flitted across Armaan's face. Looking intently, he observes Armaan's jaw set firmly and he understands that Armaan Malik wasn't going to be upfront with him.
"The truth is Dr. Modi that Nikita needs all the help and support she can get. You love her, as you say" Armaan delivers nonchalantly and Abhimanyu clenches his teeth "but you don't show it well…..do you think confusing her is the answer? Why are you running away from her……afraid?" Armaan asks and Abhimanyu shakes his head resigned to the fact that whatever he may try, Armaan and he were meant to be lifelong enemies sadly bound to suffer each other because they loved one woman intensely.
"Dr. Malik….why do you think telling her randomly about relationships is going to help her?" he questioned him; still trying to get to the truth which he knew had not yet been shared by Armaan.
"Didn't you see how jealous she was? She has a right to know" Armaan argued back.
"Dr. Malik…..was it Nikki who was jealous or you when she mentioned that Riddhima was my girlfriend?" Abhimanyu asked with a wicked half smile and saw Armaan light up with anger.
"Look Dr. Modi…..it's done now….what do you want me to do about it and please keep Riddhima out of it" he tries to tell his senior off.
"Apart from staying away from Nikki, you can't do her a bigger favor so see if you can do that and as far as Riddhima is concerned, then I am talking your language…..if you step in my relationship….I do the same" he tells Armaan and sees him understand his meaning.
"As you have already done what you intended and I am afraid you will spoil it further, so just go now and when you want to share the real reason why you did it……you know where to find me" he says perceptively, shocking Armaan and moves to sit back in his chair and gets busy with his work, leaving Armaan to stomp off in a huff.
After Armaan leaves, Dr. Shashank enters his cabin, delaying him even more in visiting Nikki. Both sit on the sofa and after exchanging pleasantries, Dr. Shashank comes to the point.
"Dr. Modi, I was studying Dr. Nikita's latest scans and reports but can't seem to understand why she can't remember the last 2 years…… was thinking of consulting with the head of Neurosurgery at Breach candy" he shares with him and Abhimanyu nods his head thinking.
"You are one of the best Neurosurgeons Dr. Gupta ….if you think getting another consult would help…..I will gladly acquiesce to that" he tells the senior doctor, "I am sure another perspective can do us no harm in her case."
"Dr. Modi……I have sent her case details to Dr. Khanna and am waiting to hear from him…..though not complicated, this sure is unusual but then any case related to the brain is…..and Dr. Khanna has a special interest in these kind of cases" Dr. Shashank tells him, "Hope he is interested enough to take time out for this in his busy schedule."
After discussing some more, Dr. Shashank leaves and when Abhimanyu looks at his watch, his heart skips a beat. It was 8 pm and he hadn't seen Nikki for almost the entire day. He shoots out of his chair and walks towards her ward.
He was dead meat. He knew that his girlfriend was going to be furious with him. How was he supposed to deal with this? Their earlier fights had been clashes and he was always the furious one. Now the tables had turned and he had no idea how he would deal with Nikki. Whatever he expected, it wasn't a smiling Nikki waiting for him. He blinked his eyes a few times to make himself believe that he was not imagining things.
"Hello Abhimanyu" Nikki smilingly answered his greeting and put down the book she had been reading.
"I…..I am sorry…..meetings" he said a little sheepishly, still expecting her to explode at any moment.
"Of course……you are the head" she said sweetly and smiled. His mouth fell open in disbelief. She was the calmest, he had ever seen. He knew something was wrong….very wrong.
"Nikita…..you are not angry?" he asks her.
"Angry?" she echoes innocently, "for what?"
"I am late …..couldn't stop by at lunch time" he starts but she shakes her head, "Of course not…..I know you have to work….why would I be angry" she replies.
He tries to relax but is unable to do so but still moves on and asks her how her physiotherapy section went and she answers all his queries patiently. Slowly Abhi starts to relax and they talk for a while, when the nurse wheels in her dinner trolley.
When she offers her plate to her, Nikki takes it calmly and the nurse leaves her to eat in peace. Nikki starts eating but after a few bites, requests Abhi to place the tray back on the trolley. He sees that she has barely touched her food and tells her the same.
"Am not hungry" she tells him and urges him to place the tray back.
"Look Nikki….don't start….I have told you that you need to eat….so finish up" he orders and sees anger flare up in her eyes.
"I told you that I am done" Nikki snaps back.
"You are not….just eat" he looks at her sternly but she laughs in his face.
"Why…..who are you to tell me what to do….you are not my doctor nor my boyfriend" she throws at him and Abhimanyu realizes that he had been right not to relax……she was way beyond furious.
"Look Nikki…..eat and then we will talk" he tries to talk sense to her but she is in no mood to listen.
"Really talk? If you wanted you would have come and spoken to me hours ago……but I am sure you were busy fighting with Armaan as to why he told me about our relationship" she accuses.
"Look Nikki…..it's not that.....it is just" he fumbles on how to explain it to her that he hadn't wanted the fact to be announced by Armaan so dramatically but wanted her to remember on her own.
Misinterpreting his fumbling, Nikki snaps back, "I know what it is Dr. Modi…..you are ashamed that your girlfriend is an invalid…..you didn't want to own up…..why do you keep visiting me? To show pity?" she asks him bitterly, her eyes tearing up and the sadness of her heart coming through in her words.
"Nikki….stop it" he comes closer and tries to take her in his arms but she slaps them away.
"I don't need your pity" she sniffles and Abhi sits beside her on the bed and she tries to move herself away but is unable to do so because of her legs and that makes her even more mad, so she turns away.
"Nikki" he turns her face to meet his eyes gently but she refuses to look at him. He takes her face in both his hands and turns it to make him look at her. "I am not ashamed of you….can never be….and it's not pity" he tries to tell her.
"Ok….then what is it?" she asks him directly, waiting for him to answer.
"I am waiting for you to remember that Nikki….I want you to answer me" he tells her, sadness clouding his eyes.
"What if I never remember?" she asks him fearfully, "Will you leave me then?"
"No" he answers and she melts into his arms crying helplessly.
Since a young age she had been fighting with her destiny for love, finally she had gotten it but the irony of it was that she had forgotten the one person who her heart knew loved her more than herself.
Why was love so elusive to her?