Darkness. Pain and darkness. That was all there was.
At first, the darkness had been calm, peaceful. A kind of floating void. No thoughts, no memories, no pain, but as she came slowly back into awareness, so too came the pain. And it wasn’t just pain, it was agony. She tried to scream, tried to cry, but all sound was muted. She couldn’t hear herself, let alone make herself heard.
She tried to move, but her body felt heavy, weighed down. Her left arm was completely immobile and the rest of her body felt drugged, helpless. And again, the pain dominated everything.
Her arms… her stomach… her head… All felt as though they were on fire, a fire that burned from the inside rather than out. She tried to cry out again, and this time heard her own voice, weak and small, but there nonetheless.
A hand closed gently over her right one and she grew still. Her memories were pretty scatty, but she was sure that touch did not belong to Bobby. It felt familiar, though. Comforting and reassuring.
She breathed deeply, and was confounded by the warm oxygen that filtered down her throat, rather than the ice cold mountain air that she and Bobby had breathed in for the last two days. And what was on her face? Was that… an oxygen mask?
A voice echoed distantly in her ears, again familiar but still meaningless. She gave up trying to work out what had happened… what was happening. All she wanted was to be lost in that void again, where there was no pain, and no fear.
Her breath escaped her in the faintest of sighs, and the last sensation she had was relief as darkness took her once more.
He sat back wearily once he was certain she was asleep again. Granted, it had only been a few hours since she had been moved from Recovery into ICU, but he had been hopeful all the same. He supposed, though, that it was a little too much to expect.
Gavin looked across the bed to her left arm, and the ugly metal pins that held the mended bones in place. Her doctor, Ian Blake, had assured him that the injury would heal, but it would take time, and what would probably be an equally long period of rehabilitation. In short, Alex had a long road to recovery ahead of her.
His gaze went to the door of the single bed room as a nurse walked past. Where he sat, he had a clear view across the hallway, past the duty desk and into a room on the other side of the ICU. From where he sat, Gavin could just make out the figure of James Deakins, his daughter’s commanding officer, sitting slumped in a chair by a bedside. Specifically, Bobby Goren’s bedside.
Before he had a chance to talk himself out of it, Gavin got slowly to his feet and with a last look at his daughter, silently padded out of the room.
A shadow fell across the door and Deakins looked up, bleary-eyed.
Gavin Eames walked in slowly, his eyes flickering to the figure in the bed.
“Hey, Jim. How’s he doing?”
Deakins sank back into the chair.
“I think the doctor’s preferred choice of word was ‘tenuous’. It’s going to be touch and go for a while.”
Gavin stared at the inert figure in the bed for a long moment, his gaze sweeping over Bobby’s legs before returning to Deakins.
“His leg looks as bad as Alex’s arm. How the hell did they end up with such badly broken bones?”
“They fell from a ledge,” Deakins answered quietly. “They fell approximately forty or fifty feet into shallow water. From what we could work out, Goren was carrying Eames at the time, because she’d been wounded in the leg. The ground gave way beneath them, and they fell. We won’t know for certain until one of them wakes up and can tell us exactly what happened, but we think that’s more or less what happened.”
“Hell… Jim, I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear you shot and killed the son of a bitch that hurt my little girl.”
“Yes,” Deakins said, “well, I’d like to say shooting him was purely clinical, but I’ve never felt as satisfied as I did when I shot that bastard dead. Maybe I’ll feel differently about it when I’ve gotten some proper rest… but I doubt it.”
“They deserve medals, you know,” Gavin murmured. “They saved each other’s lives. Plenty of people would have just quit.”
“If it had been either one of them on their own,” Deakins said quietly, “maybe they would have done just that. They kept each other going, Gavin. If there’s one thing I’m sure about, it’s that. They survived because they were together, not strictly because they had any more courage than any of Erik Mathers’ other victims. That was the mistake he made. He got cocky… over-confident.”
Gavin smiled bitterly.
“He picked the wrong pair. You know, Jim, I won’t say that I knew they’d survive, but I did feel that as long as Alex was with Bobby, I at least had a chance of seeing her again.”
Deakins nodded in agreement.
“I know what you mean. I’ve seen good partnerships before, but theirs is one of the best.”
Silence briefly fell and then Gavin took a step back, towards the door.
“I’ll go back to Alex’s room. She, uh… She woke up for a minute, just a little while ago.”
“That’s good to hear,” Deakins murmured, his gaze fixed firmly on the officer in the bed beside him. Gavin stared at Deakins for a long moment, and then spoke softly.
“They’ll pull through, Jim. I really believe that. Try and get some rest now, okay? Then, when Bobby does wake up, you’ll be in a fit state to give him some reassurance.” Gavin looked pointedly at Bobby’s damaged legs. “God knows he’s going to need it.”
Deakins looked up, and watched in silence as Gavin retreated back to his daughter’s room. Those simple words had slammed home to him better than anything else so far the necessity of rest. Gavin was right, Deakins realised ruefully. What use would he be if, when Bobby did eventually wake up, he was so exhausted that he was incoherent?
He looked reluctantly to the pillow and blankets that sat, so far untouched, in a neat pile on the window sill. Finally acquiescing, he draped the blankets over himself and slipped the pillow behind his head. Settling back, Deakins watched Bobby’s passive features through half-closed eyes.
He was asleep less than a minute later.
“Come to visit your poor wounded partner?”
She rolled her eyes.
“Don’t push it, Mike.”
“There it is again. I really like the sound of you calling me Mike.”
Bishop shook her head and wandered over and sat down in an empty chair with a heavy thud.
“Why don’t you go home, Bishop?” Logan suggested quietly. “You’re exhausted.”
“I know. I am tired… but it’s not that. I just came from ICU.”
All banter fell away from Logan’s face.
“You saw them?”
“We didn’t see Eames. Her family was in with her. The doctor let us in to see Goren because Deakins said he didn’t have any family to be here for him.”
“What, none at all? What about his mom? I know his old man is dead, but his mom is still around, isn’t she?”
Bishop hesitated, remembering Deakins’ warning to both her and Ron Carver.
“She… She’s in a nursing home.”
“Yeah, something like that. He’s got a brother, but apparently he basically said he didn’t care.”
“Shit. That’s lousy. So… How’d he look? I mean, compared to when we found him.”
“Compared to that? A hundred percent… but it was still pretty horrible.”
“And you used to work in Homicide,” Logan teased lightly. Bishop shook her head.
“I know I’ve seen some awful things, but this was different, Mike. It’s a whole different situation when it’s someone you know. They… they put metal pins in his right leg. It was broken in seven places!”
“Damn,” Logan muttered. “Wasn’t his left leg busted as well?”
“Two breaks in the left leg, and a stress fracture in his left foot,” Bishop confirmed.
“How the hell did he manage to walk as far as he did? How’d he manage to walk at all?”
“I don’t know. The doctor said the pain must have been unbelievable.”
“I’ll bet it was. Well, is he going to be okay, or what?”
“They don’t know yet. The doctor said the next twenty-four hours will be critical.”
Logan grunted. “They always say that. They’re just covering their asses if something goes wrong, or someone screws up. They’ll both be okay, Bishop, I’m sure of it. They didn’t survive this long just to croak in hospital.”
“I hate that word… croak…”
“You know what I mean, though.”
“Yes. I know.”
She looked up at him, then, and her gaze went to his arm. It had been thickly bandaged, and immobilised with a sling.
“I’m supposed to keep it still,” Logan said in answer to her unspoken question. “They stopped the bleeding, but if I jerk it around… I don’t know. They said something about excess blood loss, and shock. It’ll be okay. I have to stay overnight, though, which sucks.”
Bishop glanced to the IV drip, which was feeding fluids steadily into his body.
“I told them I didn’t need that,” he muttered, sounding like a sulky ten year-old. “I hate needles.”
“Can I get anything for you?” she asked. His eyes lit up, and she quickly added, “Within reason, that is.”
“I wouldn’t say no to a burger, fries and a really big cup of coffee.”
“That stuff’s hell on your arteries, you know.”
“Don’t give me a lecture. I’m in pain, here.”
“I thought it was just a scratch. Or was it more a case of ego?”
Logan looked sheepish, and a little embarrassed.
“Okay, Bishop, I admit it. It hurts like hell. Happy? I just didn’t feel like I had any right to complain about it, considering what that bastard Mathers had put Goren and Eames through.”
Bishop rose out of the chair, a small smile on her face as she moved towards the door.
He glowered at her.
“Call me Lyn.”
A grin lit up Logan’s face, wiping his frown away in an instant. “You mean I have official permission?”
“For now. Consider yourself on probation.”
Logan rolled his eyes as she strode out of the room.
“Story of my life…”
The first thing Bobby became aware of as he slowly came back to awareness was not pain, but rather the lack of it. He lay in a fog of confusion, knowing he should be hurting and not understanding why he wasn’t. The last however many days it had been, he had existed in a constant, unending state of pain. That he awoke now to find himself relatively pain free was disconcerting, to say the very least.
Slowly, he became conscious of a mattress beneath his body and a soft pillow beneath his head. The cabin… Had they somehow found their way back to the cabin…? No, that wasn’t possible. What had happened…?
His memories were sketchy, at best. He had a vague recollection of Mathers attacking them in the clearing… and then what? Alex had been hurt… badly hurt… maybe dead.
Bobby’s heart rate picked up as panic threatened. There was more to be remembered, but that was just a cloudy haze at the moment, beyond his current powers of recall. All he could think of, all he could focus on, was a terrifying image of Alex impaled to the tree by an arrow.
He drew in a ragged breath, and his right hand came up to drag the oxygen mask off his face as his heart rate sky-rocketed. Dead… Alex is dead…
Except, even in the midst of his panic attack, he thought he remembered a voice shouting at him, telling him otherwise.
Bobby, listen to me. She’s not dead. Do you hear me? Alex is not dead…
A familiar voice. His captain’s voice.
And then he remembered. He remembered being dragged over the edge of the cliff when Mathers fell. He remembered Deakins face, peering over the edge of the cliff at him, begging for him to reach up. He remembered Deakins’ shouts that Alex was still alive…
Most of all, he remembered a brief moment of awareness in… had it been a helicopter... where he had looked and seen Alex on a stretcher right next to him, a paramedic working on her. Perhaps the memory was a false one, but Bobby didn’t think so.
Slowly but surely, his breathing settled and his heart rate slowed as calm took over once more. Then, finally, Bobby Goren opened his eyes.
At first, he could see nothing but a blur of light and shadows. Then, as his vision slowly came back into focus, he found himself staring up at a sterile white ceiling. From there he focused on a tall metal pole with a bag full of some kind of liquid. An IV unit, he thought disjointedly. That could mean only one thing. He was in hospital.
Unless, he thought dazedly, this was some freakish new torture devised by Mathers. But, no. He knew it wasn’t. Deep in his subconscious, he knew he was safe from Erik Mathers’ insane, tortuous games.
He turned his head slowly, taking in his surroundings with growing relief. He was in hospital, veritable proof that they had been rescued.
Then Bobby saw Deakins.
For nearly a minute, Bobby stared at his commanding officer, feeling confused. Deakins was slumped low in the chair, fast asleep with a couple of hospital blankets covering him. Surely Deakins hadn’t been there all this time? Though granted, Bobby had no conceivable way of knowing how long it had been since the rescue had taken place. For all he knew, it might have been only hours.
Bobby continued to watch Deakins, increasingly fascinated. He had never seen his commanding officer asleep before, let alone asleep in a chair in a hospital room. He looked almost… paternal.
A spark of warmth lit up somewhere deep within Bobby’s soul. He’d always known Deakins to stand up for the officers under his command, and support them whole-heartedly. It was one of the many things that he respected about the captain, and one of many reasons why he had never questioned Deakins’ authority even when he believed the wrong decision had been made.
But this… This was totally unexpected. The realisation that his captain would take up vigil at his bedside in hospital was heartening in a way that Bobby couldn’t begin to describe.
He looked away slowly, feeling calmer and more reassured than he had for a long, long time. He shut his eyes, ready to go back to sleep again. Seconds later, the pain hit.
“Bobby? Easy, try to relax…”
He had no idea whether Bobby was even aware of his presence. The detective had gone rigid in the bed, his face contorted in agony. Deakins did the only thing he could think of on the spur of the moment and, while reaching for the buzzer to alert the nurses, he slipped his other hand into Bobby’s, and held on tightly. Whether it was a conscious act or pure reflex, Bobby’s hand locked onto his in a powerful, pain-fuelled grip.
Deakins sucked in his breath sharply, but made no effort to pull his hand free. Instead, he placed the oxygen mask carefully back over Bobby’s face and held it there gently.
“Damn it, Goren, stop thrashing,” he growled as Bobby struggled helplessly.
A nurse strode in, took one look at the situation, and hurried back out again. Seconds later, Bobby’s doctor, Jack Evans, ran in.
“He needs painkillers,” Deakins gasped. Evans shook his head.
“He’s getting the maximum dosage of morphine now, Captain. I can’t risk pumping anymore into his body. That really would kill him. Bobby? Can you hear me? You need stop struggling. Do you understand? You have to try and relax.”
Evans spoke loudly, hoping to break through the barrier of pain that currently surrounded his patient. When there was no positive response, Evans looked up at Deakins.
“Talk to him, Captain Deakins. He may recognise your voice. It might help to calm him down.”
Looking less than certain, Deakins leaned in closer, and spoke as loudly as he dared.
“Goren, listen to me. Do you hear me? Stop fighting us. Calm down, and stop fighting. That’s an order.”
To Deakins’ quiet amazement, Bobby seemed to actually pay heed to him, and he felt the detective’s grip on his hand loosen just fractionally.
“That’s it,” Evans murmured. “Keep talking, Captain Deakins.”
“Relax, Goren,” Deakins said firmly. “You’re safe, do you understand? You’re in hospital, and you’re safe. You have to calm down now. That’s it, calm down…”
Slowly but surely, Bobby relaxed in the bed. His grip on Deakins’ hand loosened completely, and his arm fell limply back onto the bed.
Deakins watched intently, half-expecting Bobby to lose consciousness once more but, to his surprise, it didn’t happen. Instead, Bobby reached up weakly and tried once more to push the oxygen mask off his face. Evans gently took his hand away, and secured the mask in place.
“No, Detective Goren, leave it there for a few minutes,” he said gently. “I know it’s a nuisance, but it’s only to help make things a little bit easier for you.”
Bobby looked up at him, his eyes reflecting the extreme pain and exhaustion he was feeling. Evans went on, speaking clearly once he was sure he had Bobby’s attention.
“I’m Dr Evans. I’m taking care of you now. You and your partner are both going to be all right, so you can relax. Let us do the work now, okay?”
Evans looked across the bed to Deakins, and smiled reassuringly.
“He’s going to be okay, Captain Deakins.”
“You’re sure?” Deakins asked anxiously.
Evan’s smile widened a little. Little did Deakins realise, he sounded exactly like a worried father.
“I’m sure. I was fairly certain he’d pull through, but those first twenty-four hours are always critical and we had the added worry of whether the hypothermia might have developed into pneumonia, or a lung infection. I can’t completely rule those complications out yet, but that critical period is over now. He’s going to be all right. And even better, it looks like there’s no permanent nerve damage to his shoulder. If there was, I doubt he’d be able to move his arm at all.”
Deakins looked back down at Bobby and felt a sudden, not so irrational desire to cry. He swallowed that back as Bobby tried, for a third time, to rid himself of the oxygen mask.
“For God’s sake, leave it alone,” Deakins growled, gently pushing his hand back down. Bobby moaned softly, and finally gave up trying to take it off. Evans walked around to join Deakins on the other side of the bed. He reached down, and gently took Bobby’s hand in his own.
“I don’t want you trying to talk just yet, Detective, but I do need ask a couple of questions. Just squeeze my hand once for yes, and twice for no. Understand?”
One squeeze. Evans nodded, satisfied.
“Good. Now, I need you to stay calm, like this. The more panicky and stressed that you get, the more distress you’re going to cause yourself. You’re already on the maximum dosage for painkillers, and we just can’t give you anymore. Now, I know you’re hurting a lot, but do you think you can keep yourself calm? Because if you can’t, the only option we’ll have will be to sedate you, and I’d like to avoid doing that if I could.”
There was a long pause, and then Bobby gave a single, tentative squeeze. His gaze then flickered down the bed, to his broken legs, an unmistakable look of worry in his eyes.
“I know it looks bad,” Evans agreed. “But I don’t believe the damage is permanent. But I really don’t want you to be worrying about that yet. All right?”
Another hesitant squeeze.
“Okay. One last thing. Would you like to know how your partner is doing?”
There was no need for Bobby to respond to that question by squeezing Evans’ hand. The look in his eyes spoke in volumes.
“She’s going to be fine, Detective,” Evans reassured him. “Like you, she has a lot of recovering to do, but she is going to be fine. When you’re both up to moving around, we’ll see about getting the two of you together, so you can see for yourselves that you’ll both be okay. Now, is there anything I can get for you?”
One squeeze. Then, Bobby reached up and gave the oxygen mask a single, light tap. Evans smiled faintly.
“Okay. I guess we can take that off now.”
He gently lifted the oxygen mask off, careful not to disturb the gauze padding that covered the better part of the right side of Bobby’s head.
“Yeah…” Bobby whispered, his throat raw and hurting. “Steak… medium… lots of mushrooms…”
Evans laughed aloud.
“Not quite yet, Detective. I’m afraid it’s going to be a while before you get to have solid foods again. But I promise when the time comes, we’ll make sure it’s worth the wait. Deal?”
Bobby replied with a single squeeze of Evans’ hand, unable to find the strength to speak again. Evans nodded.
“Okay. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a couple of other patients to check in on.” He paused, favouring Bobby with an openly relieved smile. “I really am glad you’re awake, Detective Goren. You had everyone worried for a while there.”
Bobby watched him go, and then looked slowly back at Deakins. The captain was, in turn, watching him intently.
“That’s an understatement,” Deakins said when he was sure Bobby’s attention was fully on him. “You and Alex had us all scared to death. Damn it, Bobby, if you ever do this to me again, I’ll kill you.”
Deakins sighed faintly, and reached down to gently grasp Bobby’s hand.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. Well, not entirely. None of this was your fault, and I don’t want you to think for a second that I’m blaming you, or Alex. If it makes you feel any better at all, just about the entire NYPD has been in overdrive since you and Alex disappeared. You two even managed to make it a cross-jurisdiction investigation. We’re currently playing host to an entire contingent of CSIs from Miami, of all places.”
Bobby coughed, and then winced at the pain in his ribs that it caused.
“What was that?” Deakins asked, leaning in a little closer. Bobby drew in a slow breath, and then managed to speak.
“Told Alex… you wouldn’t quit on us.”
Deakins felt his stomach knot up painfully.
“None of us did, Bobby,” he said firmly. “None of us gave up on finding you. I… I wasn’t going to entertain the thought of not finding you. Oh… You’ll be surprised when I tell you just who we had leading the investigation to rescue the two of you.”
Bobby looked up at him questioningly. As tired and as sick as he felt, his curiosity had also just kicked in, and he wanted more information. Deakins couldn’t hide a grin. Even now, he still knew which buttons to push to get Bobby Goren’s attention.
“Lyn Bishop, and Mike Logan.”
Bobby couldn’t suppress his surprise. He could believe that Bishop would come back to Major Case to help out, but Logan…? Especially when it meant helping to find and rescue Alex and himself…?
“He worked his ass off, Bobby,” Deakins told him quietly, sincerely. “He had a big part in finding you and Alex. You two may have butted heads the last time you worked together, but as soon as he found out what had happened, he dove into the case head first.”
Bobby stared up at the ceiling, his thoughts in turmoil. He didn’t particularly like Logan, and he knew that Logan definitely didn’t like him. He wasn’t sure how to deal with knowing he had to be grateful to the man who, at one time, had damn near gotten them both killed.
“Don’t think about it right now,” Deakins told him quietly. “Don’t think about anything. Just rest now, Bobby. Let everyone else do the worrying. Just rest, okay?”
Bobby sighed faintly, and felt his body start to relax despite the fiery pain. That was an order that he would happily obey. Shutting his eyes, he slipped with thankful ease once more into the blissful nothing of sleep.
Deakins stood watching him for nearly a minute before sinking back into the chair. It took him another minute to realise that his cheeks were wet with his own tears. Mildly startled, he quickly pulled his handkerchief out to wipe his face. Perhaps he would freely shed tears later, in the privacy of his own home and in the company of his wife, but not now. Now was not the time, or the place.
He glanced up at the clock. It read just before eleven. Deakins looked away, out the window to the dark night. He would stay there for the rest of the night, go into the office in the morning to deal with any issues that needed handling… report to his superiors… After that he would finally go home and then… only then… would he be able to let go of the tension and trauma of the last five days, safe in the knowledge that his two best detectives were finally out of harm's way.
Deakins settled back in the chair, pulling the blankets back up to cover himself, and he went to sleep with a small, relieved smile still lingering on his lips.
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