Author’s note: I don’t have a particularly thorough knowledge of medical procedure, so I apologise in advance for any liberties taken. In my case, it’ll have to be chalked up to poetic license.
And no – this is NOT the last chapter.
“Captain, come in, this is Mack.”
“Mack, have you got good news?” Deakins asked breathlessly.
“Sorry, Captain. It’s a dead end this way. Near as we can tell, they came to the river, and then backtracked. Looks like you’re on the right path. We’re coming up after you now.”
Deakins looked at his three companions grimly.
“We can’t wait for you, Mack,” he told the detective. “Just get up here as fast as you can.”
Deakins clipped the radio back onto his belt, then looked around at Logan, Horatio and Calleigh.
“We have to keep going. If we wait…”
“We can’t wait,” Logan said grimly. “You’re right, we can’t wait. We have to keep going.”
“We must be nearly at the top,” Calleigh guessed. Horatio’s hand went to his gun, and loosed the flap for easy and quick access.
“Okay, let’s get up there.”
They pressed on, heavy breathing from their efforts the only sounds to be heard. They seemed to be almost coming within sight of the top when a loud whistling sound cut through the air.
It was all Logan had a chance to say as an arrow sliced through the air and pierced his right forearm. A cry of pain tore from his lips, and he stumbled and fell. He was stopped from sliding further down the slope only by Horatio, who jumped to his aid, grabbing him by the left arm and bringing him to a halt.
“Oh my god,” Calleigh whispered in horror as they stared at the arrow embedded in his arm.
“You gotta keep going,” Logan rasped, an edge of panic to his voice.
“Just hold still, Logan,” Horatio said grimly. “We need to get this out.”
“No, you gotta keep going,” he told them again. “We must be close… Mathers… He must be trying to stall us. You’ve gotta get up there now!”
“You both go,” Calleigh told Deakins and Horatio. “I’ll stay with Logan.”
He pushed her away, though.
“No! Damn it… I’ll be okay. The others’ll be here soon enough. Get up there… Save Goren and Eames.”
Deakins stared desperately at Logan. The detective returned his stare easily, despite the pain he was in.
“This is not a fatal wound,” he said in a deliberately slow voice. “You’re wasting time. Go stop Erik Mathers.”
Horatio pulled his radio out, and spoke into quickly.
“Mack, this is Horatio. Don’t answer, just listen. There’s no time. Logan’s been wounded. He’ll be waiting on the path for you when you come up. Captain Deakins, Calleigh and I are going on. We think Mathers is close by. Hurry.”
Deakins nodded and, favouring Logan with a look of open respect, turned and headed on up the path, with Horatio and Calleigh right behind him.
Mathers froze. Detective Eames was where he had left her, still impaled to the tree by the arrow through her stomach, but Detective Goren was gone.
The first slivers of panic began to penetrate Mathers’ senses. The cop shouldn’t have had the strength left to roll over, let alone get up and walk away. Where was he?
Then he saw it. A thin trail of blood led away from the female cop’s body, across the grass, and into the trees on the other side of the clearing. An evil smile lit up Mathers’ face. If the cop was trying to escape, he’d just made his last mistake. That direction led nowhere except to a cliff.
Still grinning, Mathers checked that his crossbow was good to go, and then ran across the grass and into the trees after his prey.
A strained, barely audible laugh escaped him. He was an easy target. He was only hoping that he would find some last ounce of strength somewhere inside him to take Mathers with him when he died. An eye for an eye. A life for a life. Erik Mathers’ life for his and Alex’s lives.
Slowly, Bobby reached up with his one remaining functioning hand, and curled it around the shaft of the arrow buried in his shoulder. Breathing as evenly as he could, and praying the shock and pain wouldn’t knock him out… or worse, kill him, Bobby pulled.
The arrow slid out after some resistance, and left his shoulder feeling as though it was on fire. Moaning softly, he hid the weapon at his side and waited.
Minutes passed before a shadow finally fell across him. Bobby didn’t bother opening his eyes to look. He knew who it was. It was confirmed a moment later when Mathers’ boot kicked hard into his ribs, cracking at least two of them.
“You really don’t know when your number’s up, do you Detective?” Mathers asked in amusement. “Why didn’t you just stay where you were? All you achieved for yourself was more pain.”
Mathers stared at Bobby thoughtfully, then knelt down next to him.
“I really want this to be something special. Not just an ordinary killing. Too bad I don’t have the time to do this the way I wanted to, but I’m still going to make it special. What do you think, Detective Goren?” He waved the crossbow in the air. “Through the heart, or through the head? I think it’d really be saying something to put an arrow through your head. Don’t you? It’d be like saying that you were the smartest the NYPD had to offer, and it still wasn’t good enough to beat me. You like that? I think that’s the way I’ll do it.”
“Do I…” Bobby started to speak, but it ended in a painful cough. Mathers leaned in closer.
“Do I get… a last… request…?”
Mathers regarded Bobby with interest.
“What would you ask for, Detective? I’m already giving you a quick death.”
Bobby looked up at Mathers, then, his now cloudy eyes reflecting the pain, anguish and rage he was feeling.
“That you die with me.”
He swung the arrow around, driving it into Mathers’ gut with every last ounce of strength and willpower that he had left. Mathers’ eyes went wide with pain and he grabbed at the arrow in shock. He fell away from Bobby, his attention momentarily diverted to the unexpected wound, and he pulled the arrow out of his gut, groaning in pain.
Where he lay on the ground, Bobby could only watch as Mathers struggled with the arrow. That was it, his strength was gone. He had nothing left at all.
Slowly, Mathers recovered from the shock of the wound and his black eyes filled with pain and hatred as he focused on Bobby once more. Getting slowly to his feet, Mathers lifted his crossbow, and aimed it directly at Bobby’s head.
“See you in Hell, you fucking pig.”
“Eames,” he choked out. “No…”
He ran across the grass, falling to his knees beside Alex’s still form, and reaching out to touch her face gently. Cold, she was so cold…
Deakins turned away as Horatio and Calleigh arrived, blinded by the tears in his eyes.
“Too late… Damn it, we’re too late.” Then something struck him. “Where is Goren…?”
His gaze dropped to the ground, and he saw the trail of blood leading away into the trees. Deakins drew in a sharp breath. It was too late for Alex, but was it also too late for Bobby? Drawing his gun, Deakins strode away across the grass, leaving Horatio and Calleigh with Alex.
“Horatio?” Calleigh asked anxiously. Horatio glanced at Deakins’ retreating figure, then turned his attention back to Alex. Instinctively, he reached out and pressed his fingers gently to her throat. Long moments later, he found what he had not expected to find.
“She’s alive,” he said tensely, unable to keep his voice totally free of surprise. “She’s losing a lot of blood, but she is still alive.”
“We have to get that arrow out of her,” Calleigh murmured. She quickly opened the medical pack that she’d taken from one of the rescue officers, and started pulling out supplies.
“It’s buried in the tree,” Horatio said. “There’s only one way to do this. We’ll have to pull her off it. Calleigh?”
Calleigh nodded. “Ready.”
“Okay, on three. One, two, three.”
They pulled together, and Alex’s body slid forward, the arrow passing through her body. The action succeeded where Bobby had failed only a short time ago. Alex came to with a violent start, and a strangled sob of pain escaped her lips.
“Lay her down,” Horatio muttered. “Quickly, now… Alex, can you hear me?”
She moaned softly in response, and her eyes flickered half open, focusing on him a long moment later. Horatio smiled reassuringly at her while Calleigh quickly pulled out thick wads of gauze, pressing them hard against the open wound to staunch the flow of blood.
“You’re safe, Alex. We’re going to take care of you, okay?”
Her voice came out as nothing more than a wisp of exhaled breath, but both Horatio and Calleigh understood what she was trying to say. Before either of them had a chance to respond, there came the sound of gunshots from close by. Horatio stood quickly.
“Calleigh, use your radio, and call for one of the rescue choppers. She’ll need to be airlifted out of here as quickly as possible.”
Calleigh nodded, and Horatio turned and ran off in the direction Deakins had gone.
Deakins wasted no time. Lifting his gun, he took aim and fired.
Mathers’ body jerked violently as bullets struck him in the back, and in the head. He stumbled forward, the crossbow slipping from his hand and dropping harmlessly to the ground. His feet caught on Bobby’s inert form, though, and as Mathers toppled over the edge of the cliff, he sent Bobby slipping over the edge as well.
Deakins ran down the slope, falling to the ground at the edge of the cliff, and looked over, expecting to see two bodies on the ground far below. Just below the edge of the cliff, though, Bobby hung by his right hand to an out-jutting bit of rock.
“Goren!” Deakins shouted. He stretched himself as far forward as he could, and managed to close his hands around Bobby’s wrist even as Bobby’s hold on the rock slipped. Bobby looked up at Deakins’ his eyes dull and unfocused. It was impossible for Deakins to know whether the detective even knew he was there.
“Goren, give me your other hand,” he told him breathlessly. “I can’t pull you up otherwise.”
Recognition flickered in Bobby’s eyes, then.
“Yes, it’s me,” Deakins gasped. “Reach, Bobby! I need your other hand.”
Bobby tried to lift his left arm, but pain exploded through the limb, and he cried out in distress, unable to lift it high enough for Deakins to grab hold. Deakins shuddered. The detective was no light weight, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to hold on to Bobby for much longer.
“Please, try,” Deakins begged. “Please, Bobby, try and reach…”
There was movement to his right, and a glance told him that Horatio had arrived. The lieutenant leaned over, reaching for Bobby’s other hand, but the detective made no further effort to lift his other arm.
“Goren, give us your other hand!” Deakins shouted. “I can’t hold you for much longer!”
Instead, Bobby looked away from them, as though inviting oblivion.
“Damn it…” Deakins gasped as he felt his grip starting to loosen. Horatio drew in a sharp, hissing breath.
“He thinks she’s dead…”
Deakins looked at Horatio, startled at his words.
“She’s alive, Captain,” Horatio told Deakins quickly. “Alex is still alive.”
The knowledge struck Deakins like a sledgehammer. He looked back to Bobby, and tried again.
“Bobby! Bobby, listen to me. She’s not dead. Do you hear me? Alex is not dead.”
Bobby looked back up at Deakins, confusion in his eyes mixed with slowly dawning realisation. Deakins spoke again, frantically.
“Alex is alive, Bobby. We found her, and she’s still alive. Now, reach, goddamn you!”
Understanding finally dawned in Bobby’s eyes, understanding mixed with new determination. A moment later, he screamed in pain as he finally swung his broken arm up, allowing Horatio to catch hold of his wrist. Between the two men, they managed to drag Bobby back up to the safety of solid ground.
“Thank God,” Deakins moaned as they lay Bobby carefully on the ground.
“He’s not out of the woods yet, Captain,” Horatio said grimly as he got an eyeful of Bobby’s injuries. “We need the rescue medics, quickly.”
Deakins nodded and pulled out his radio.
“Mack? Can you hear me?”
His radio crackled to life as Mack responded.
“I hear you, Captain. We picked up Logan, and we’re coming to the top of the slope now. What news do you have?”
“We’ve got them,” Deakins confirmed. “They’re both alive, but they’re both also badly hurt. You’ll find Calleigh with Eames as soon as you come into the clearing. Send one of those rescue officers into the trees with a medical kit. Just follow the trail of blood. Horatio and I are here with Goren.”
“Roger that. Someone’ll be there in just a minute. What about Erik Mathers?”
“Mathers is dead,” Deakins replied stonily. “I shot him myself.”
There was just a brief second of silence before Mack answered again.
“Okay, Captain. Someone will be there soon.”
Deakins and Horatio exchanged weary looks, and then Deakins returned his attention to Bobby.
“Bobby? Are you still with us?”
Slowly, Bobby’s eyes opened, and gradually focused on the familiar face of his captain.
“You’re safe, Bobby,” Deakins told him gently. “Do you understand me? Mathers is dead. You’re both safe.”
Bobby shuddered a little.
“She’s alive,” Horatio told him as he pressed his hand firmly to the shoulder wound to try and stem the flow of blood. “I promise you that.”
Deakins looked around to see Bishop hurrying down the slope, with one of the rescue officers close behind her. She fell to her knees next to Deakins, her gaze sweeping over Bobby’s battered form in horror.
Deakins didn’t respond to that, but looked to the rescue officer who spoke quickly.
“Rescue One will be landing in just a couple of minutes. Luckily, the clearing is big enough for them to land. The paramedics should be here shortly. We’ll have them out of here soon, Captain Deakins.”
“Two broken legs,” Horatio murmured. “How in God’s name did he make it up that rise?”
“Looks like his left arm is broken, too,” Bishop said in dismay. “And… what’s this?”
They looked to where Bishop indicated, to a patch of angry red flesh on Bobby’s stomach, just below his rib cage. Horatio took a closer look, then let his breath out in a rush.
“This has been cauterised.”
Deakins stared at Horatio incredulously.
“Are you saying he cauterised one of his own wounds?”
“Either he or Alex,” Horatio said. “I’m guessing this is where he was hit by an arrow. They probably cauterised it to stop him from bleeding out. In fact… I won’t be the slightest bit surprised if we find a similar wound somewhere on Detective Eames.”
Deakins looked back down at Bobby, his relief at having found them both tempered by the knowledge that their injuries could still result in their deaths.
“Damn it, where are the paramedics?”
“There,” Horatio said, nodding away up the slope. Deakins looked, and sure enough two paramedics were coming quickly down the slope, laden with equipment for emergency treatment.
Over the next few minutes, Deakins, Bishop and Horatio found themselves pushed back, out of the way, able only to watch as the medics rendered emergency treatment.
They watched as one medic administered humidified oxygen and inserted an IV needle to supply warmed fluids to combat the onset of hypothermia. The other quickly immobilised his arm and legs with air splints, and then treated and covered his open wounds.
Then, Horatio and Deakins both stepped in to help as the paramedics wrapped Bobby carefully in an insulated blanket, slid a rescue stretcher beneath him, and strapped him in.
“Okay,” one of the medics announced, “we’re ready to move him.”
They made their way back up the slope, the stretcher supported between the two medics, the rescue officer and Horatio. They arrived back at the clearing where the chopper labelled Rescue One had landed. Calleigh was waiting for them, along with Mack Taylor.
“Eames is already on board,” Mack shouted above the noise of the chopper’s rotor blades. “So is Logan. As soon as they get Goren on board, they’ll head straight to back to New York. Captain Deakins, they said they have enough room for two extra passengers. You and Bishop should go with them.”
Deakins looked gratefully at Mack and Calleigh.
“Go on, Captain,”Mack told him. “Go with your detectives.”
Deakins didn’t argue. He and Bishop hurried to the chopper, and climbed inside. Horatio retreated quickly to join Mack and Calleigh, and watch as the chopper lifted off the ground, carrying its precious cargo.
“I can’t believe we actually found them alive,” Calleigh said softly as they watched the chopper disappear over the trees on its emergency run back to New York.
“That makes two of us,” Mack said wryly.
“The danger isn’t past yet,” Horatio reminded them grimly. “They’re both in critical condition. They could still die.”
“They survived this long… and this much,” Mack mused. “I think it’s safe to say they have a pretty good chance.”
“C’mon,” Calleigh said, a small smile on her face. “Let’s get everything together. The other chopper will be here soon to pick us up.”
“Horatio…” Mack said as they headed over to the trees to gather up their strewn equipment. “Did you see what happened with Erik Mathers?”
Horatio shook his head.
“No, Mack, I didn’t. Calleigh and I were doing what we could for Detective Eames when we heard shots fired. When I got there, Captain Deakins was trying to pull Detective Goren back up from the cliff. As near as I can figure, Mathers must have been about to kill Goren. Deakins shot him to stop him. Mathers went over the cliff, and somehow Goren went with him. That’s when I got there.” He paused, understanding Mack’s concerns. “IA will just have to take Captain Deakins’ word for what happened. I doubt that Goren will remember any of it.”
“No one would blame him anyway,” Calleigh retorted. “He was defending the life of one of his officers.”
“I just wondered,” Mack said quietly. He looked up as the sound of an approaching helicopter reached them, and spoke with no small measure of relief.
“Time to go home.”
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