Twenty-four hours later,
The first thing Mike became aware of as he came slowly back to awareness was the warm hands that gently clasped his left one in a firm, reassuring grasp. He lay still and silent for a little while, allowing himself to simply enjoy the contact, as well as the absence of any pain or discomfort.
Right at that moment, his mind was effectively a blank, and he was more than content for it to stay that way. He didn’t know where he was, or how he had gotten there. His memories were fuzzy, at best, and he had no immediate memories of the past forty-eight hours. He felt peaceful, and that was a state he hadn’t achieved for a long time.
Minutes passed, and rather than slip back into the welcome oblivion of sleep, voices gradually permeated his consciousness and brought him reluctantly back to the present.
“…at least twenty-four hours, but probably longer. You have to be patient, Barek.”
Mike frowned slightly on the inside. That was Deakins.
“I don’t want to be patient.” And that was Carolyn… “I want him to wake up so I can smack him for being such an inconsiderate oaf, and scaring us all half to death! But… I also want to hug him, and tell him how glad I am that he’ll be okay.”
“I understand, but he isn’t going to wake up until he’s good and ready.”
Mike knew those tones all-too-well. They were the tones of worried colleagues… and yet, for the life of him, Mike couldn’t fathom why they should be worried. He was here, wasn’t he? Wherever here was… And they were here… So what was the problem?
He tried to draw in a long, deep breath, intending to tell them he was fine and to clear off and let him sleep, only to discover he was unable to – that something was controlling his breathing, forcing a steady, measured pace. A moment later, he finally became conscious of the distinct, artificial sound of a ventilator as it carried out the task of breathing for him. A moment beyond that, he became aware of the ugly sensation of a tube down his throat.
Seconds later, his gag reflex kicked in, and Mike Logan began to choke.
“What the hell…?” Deakins burst out, startled when a strangled, choking noise suddenly broke the quiet of the ICU cubicle. Carolyn jumped up from where she’d been perched carefully on the edge of the bed, looking down at her partner in astonishment.
“Mike… Captain, he’s awake!”
Deakins glanced from Mike as he struggled against the intubation, to the machine that monitored the detective’s pulse. It was rapidly rising right along with Mike’s stress levels, and the heart monitor had begun to spike wildly.
“I’ll find a doctor,” he said, hurrying from the room.
Carolyn watched him go, and then returned her attention to her partner.
“Mike. Mike, can you hear me? I need to you calm down, Mike. Calm down and listen to me.”
She raised the volume of her voice in an effort to get his attention and, gradually, he ceased his struggles and focused instead on the sound of her voice. His eyes flickered open finally, and he looked to her with a stark mixture of pain and fear. Carolyn leaned in close, running her fingers lightly over his hair and squeezing his left hand as tightly as she dared.
“You’re safe, Mike. You’re in St Barnabas Hospital. You and Bobby are both safe. Do you understand me, Mike?”
He groaned, only to have it come out sounding somewhere between a cough and retching sound.
“You have a punctured lung,” she told him firmly. “They’ve got you hooked up to a ventilator while your body gets its strength back. You have to try and relax, Mike, or when a doctor comes in here, the first thing they’ll do is sedate you. Please, calm down…”
Slowly, little by little, Mike began to relax and calm down. By the time Deakins returned with Dr Harrison, his heart rate had lowered itself considerably and his breathing was calm and regular. Noticeably, though, he had a death grip on Carolyn’s hand, and he was watching her through half-opened eyes that clearly reflected the fear and misery he felt.
“Michael,” Harrison murmured as she set about checking his vitals. “Welcome back.”
“Mike,” Carolyn said, a little more tersely than she’d intended. “It’s Mike, not Michael. He doesn’t like being called Michael, or Mikey… Just Mike.”
Harrison nodded, unperturbed.
“Fair enough. Mike, can you hear me?”
His gaze flickered from Carolyn to Harrison, green eyes begging for answers, and for relief.
“Do you know where you are?” Harrison asked. Mike’s eyes returned to Carolyn, and then he managed the slightest of nods. “Good,” Harrison murmured. “Now tell me, do you know why you’re here?”
Mike continued to watch her with fearful eyes. He had no answer to give her, except for a slight shake of his head.
“It’s okay,” Harrison reassured him. “I don’t expect you to be able to remember. That will all come back soon enough. Now, I want you to just nod or shake your head. Do you think you can stay calm? I would really prefer to not have to sedate you, if that can be managed.”
After a long moment’s consideration, he managed a single small nod.
“Good,” Harrison said again. “I know this is uncomfortable, and very unpleasant, Mike, but the fact that you’re awake and alert right now is a very good sign.” She paused, gently brushing her hand over the top of his head. “You’re going to pull through. You’re going to be okay.”
Her words were of little comfort to him. He had no conscious memories of what had happened to land him in the hospital like this. Carolyn had said he had a punctured lung, but he couldn’t remember how that had happened and, more than anything, Mike desperately wanted to know what had happened to him.
Carolyn had mentioned Bobby Goren… So whatever had happened had obviously involved him as well. Had they both been shot? But no, he was sure that wasn’t it. Besides, the hurt he was suffering wasn’t centred in any one part of his body. His entire body hurt equally. He felt like someone had gone and dropped a house on him, like the witch in The Wizard of Oz…
Mike went rigid in the hospital bed as the memories of his and Bobby’s ordeal returned with a vengeance, and it was only the ventilator that kept the breath from literally freezing up in his throat.
“Mike?” Harrison asked loudly in an effort to get his attention. “What is it? Are you hurting?”
“That’s not hurt,” Deakins said tensely. “That’s panic. He’s remembering what happened.”
“Okay, I’m going to sedate him,” Harrison said quietly, immediately turning to the tray she’d brought in with her and reaching for a syringe.
“No, wait!” Carolyn protested. “Don’t just sedate him. He has to deal with it sooner or later…”
Harrison shot Carolyn a look that very clearly said ‘I’m the doctor, you’re not’.
“Then it’s going to have to be later, Detective. I can’t have him suffering panic attacks like this, not so soon after regaining consciousness. I don’t have time to begin to describe the negative repercussions it could have on his recovery. Until I know he can remain calm, he’ll have to be kept under sedation. It’s the only option.”
Carolyn fell back, watching through tear-blurred eyes as Harrison injected a clear fluid into Mike’s IV. It worked fast. Mike was asleep again within half a minute. She paused, again checking his vitals before turning away from her patient to face Deakins and Carolyn.
“I’m sorry,” she apologised quietly. “But it would have been negligent of me to let him remain in that state. It might seem small comfort to you at the moment, but the fact that he woke up now, and was able to demonstrate some clarity and awareness, is a very positive sign.”
“You told him he’d be okay,” Deakins pointed out. “Did you mean that?”
“Generally speaking? Yes, I did. We won’t know for a while just how much damage has been done to his hand, or whether it’s in any way permanent, but aside that that, Mike has come out of it about as well as anyone could hope for.” She took a step towards the door. “I have my rounds to complete, but I will stop in to see Mike again before my shift ends tomorrow morning. You folks might like to consider going home yourselves, and getting some rest. He won’t be waking up again until tomorrow evening at the earliest. Excuse me.”
Deakins watched her go, and then looked back in time to see Carolyn walk over and sit decisively in the chair on the other side of Mike’s hospital bed.
“You heard her, Barek,” Deakins said quietly. “We might as well go home for the night.”
Even as he said it, though, he held little hope that she would agree. She didn’t disappoint him.
“I’m staying, Captain. Even if he doesn’t wake up again until tomorrow night… I’m not leaving him alone. Not again.”
Alarm bells went off in Deakins’ mind at her choice of words.
“What do you mean, ‘not again’?”
Tears trickled slowly down Carolyn’s cheeks.
“If Alex and I hadn’t taken Friday off, Bobby and Mike wouldn’t have been left alone… And if they’d planned to go out on Friday night, we would have been with them.”
“And what? You think that this wouldn’t have happened? It could still have happened, Barek, regardless of whether you and Eames were there. It could have been that four of my detectives were in danger, and not just two.”
A bitter smile touched Carolyn’s lips.
“If we’d been with them, they would never have gotten away with going to a bar in the Bronx.”
That was something Deakins couldn’t argue with. He stood there wordlessly for a long moment before sighing softly.
“I’ll speak to the nurses, and ask them to bring you in a blanket and a pillow. Try and get some sleep, at least.”
“Yes, sir. Are you going to see Bobby before you go?”
“Yes, I will. I’ll let Alex know that you’re staying again tonight. She’ll probably want to, as well. Personally, I’d prefer it if you both went home and got some rest, but I understand why you need to stay.”
Carolyn looked back at him gratefully.
Deakins paused in the doorway, taking one last look at Mike’s now passive features before shaking his head and walking out.
Alex was dozing in an out of awareness when Carolyn wandered in.
“Hey,” Alex mumbled tiredly. Carolyn smiled wanly, and held out a large Starbucks cup that was filled to the brim with steaming coffee.
“I came, bringing libations.”
Alex managed a small smile, but that was all. She accepted the coffee gratefully, though.
“You went out and got this?”
“I needed the fresh air,” Carolyn said by way of confirmation as she pulled the extra chair over and sat down. “Besides that, Mike’s under pretty heavy sedation. He’s not going to wake up probably for another ten to twelve hours.”
“Deakins stopped in here out on his way out last night. He said Mike woke up.”
“Yeah, he did. Not for long, though. He went into some sort of panic attack, or something, and the doctor sedated him. I hope he’s calmer when he wakes up next, or she’ll just do the same again.”
Alex didn’t respond, rubbing fiercely at her eyes and taking a few long sips of the coffee. She relished the scalding heat almost as much as the strong taste.
“No change?” Carolyn asked softly as she looked across at Bobby.
“No,” Alex answered miserably. “He hasn’t improved… but I suppose, on the positive side, he hasn’t gotten any worse, either.” She hesitated, and then spoke in a trembling voice. “He… He might have brain damage, Carolyn.”
Carolyn’s gut lurched horribly.
“It… It’s not definite… but he suffered a seizure while they had him in surgery. They think it was a result of infection from the blood poisoning that he had, and he’s got maybe a fifty-fifty chance of coming out of it without permanent damage.”
“Those aren’t bad odds, considering what he’s been through,” Carolyn pointed out gently. Alex stared at the coffee in her hands.
“He has to wake up first, though, and the longer he’s comatose, the less chance he has of waking up. I… I overheard his doctor talking to another doctor last night. They were just outside the door there, and I guess they thought I was asleep. Dr Mackey… He said Bobby’s brain activity was at a minimum. He… He said Bobby was just a few short steps away from being brain-dead…”
Her voice broke, and she set the coffee aside and buried her face in her hands. Shifting closer, Carolyn slid an arm around Alex’s shoulders and hugged her warmly.
“Brain-dead, my ass. All it means is that he’s gone into a kind of mental hibernation while he heals. He’s going to be okay, Alex. He has to be. He knows damn well that you’ll kick his ass if he’s not.”
Alex shuddered, fighting a losing battle to control the flood of tears.
“I’m scared, Carolyn. I’ve never been this scared before. Not… Not even when David died.”
“David? Who was David?”
Alex hesitated. This was something that even Bobby only knew the very basics of. Was she ready to share with another colleague?
“David McKenzie,” she said softly. “He was my husband.”
“I didn’t know you’d been married.”
“No one in the squad knows. Only Bobby and Captain Deakins know, and even Bobby doesn’t know all the details. It’s not something I wanted to freely share around.”
“Fair enough,” Carolyn conceded. “Do you mind me asking what happened?”
“David was a homicide detective. He was involved in a major sting. It went bad… He and two other cops were killed. I on the job in Vice when it happened. By the time word got back to me, he was already dead. There was no waiting, no uncertainty. No ‘will he or won’t he’. He was dead. I was able to grieve, and eventually move on. But now…”
Discarding the blanket that had been draped over her knees, Alex got up and moved to the bedside. She paused, and then leaned down and kissed Bobby lightly on his bruised forehead.
“He could go either way. He might wake up at any time… or he might never wake up. Nobody knows, and that’s what’s killing me!”
Carolyn joined Alex at the bedside, looking down at Bobby’s passive features with a quiet feeling of dread that simply wouldn’t go away. Alex went on shakily, her cheeks wet with her tears.
“You know, I think the most frightening thing is seeing him so still. He’s never this still. Even when he’s sleeping, he’s restless.”
Carolyn saw an opportunity to lighten the sombre atmosphere, and grabbed at it with both hands.
“You’ve seen him sleeping, huh? When was this, exactly?”
Alex rolled her eyes, but couldn’t quite keep a small smile off her face.
“Get your mind out of the gutter, Barek, You’re starting to sound like your partner. And yes, I’ve seen him sleeping. At my place, on my sofa.”
Carolyn chuckled softly.
“You made him sleep on your little sofa? When you’ve got that big bed all to yourself? You’re a cruel woman, Alex.”
Alex raised an eyebrow.
“You’re telling me I should be inviting Bobby to share a bed with me?”
“I would,” Carolyn said simply. Alex smirked.
“So… you’re saying that you think my partner’s hot?”
Carolyn grinned and shrugged. “What can I say? I love a well-dressed man who doesn’t give a damn about what other people think. And yes, I think he’s hot, especially when he’s wearing Armani.”
Alex looked back down at Bobby, marvelling that she didn’t feel uneasy talking about him in such a way when he was lying right there, in a coma.
“Well, when he wakes up, be my guest. Go ahead and ask him out.”
Carolyn nodded and hugged Alex again.
“Exactly. When he wakes up. Not if.”
Alex shuddered and turned into Carolyn’s embrace as fresh tears worked their way out of her eyes.
“I can’t lose him, Carolyn. I can’t.”
“I know,” Carolyn whispered. After a minute, Alex gently pulled away from Carolyn.
“I’m just going to go use the bathroom… splash some water on my face. Will you stay here until I come back?”
“Sure,” Carolyn reassured her. She watched as Alex slipped out of the room, and waited until the door had swung shut again before turning back and looking down at Bobby once more.
“Did you hear that, Bobby?” she asked softly, reaching down to run her fingertips gently down his cheek. “If you lose this fight, she’s going to go to pieces. So don’t you even think of quitting. Do you hear me, Bobby? You have to come back to us, for Alex’s sake.”
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