Mike was barely aware that he was holding his breath when Deakins and Carolyn wheeled him back towards Bobby’s room. It was a hive of activity all of a sudden, with doctors and nurses running in and out. Alex stood just outside with her parents, all of them watching anxiously.

“It’s true…?” Mike asked softly as he got a glimpse into the room. Bobby’s upper body had been lifted up into a half-sitting position to aid examination not only by Dr Mackey but to all their relief, Dr Harrison as well. By all appearances, Bobby seemed to be not only awake, but aware and responsive into the bargain.

“He’s awake,” John confirmed, unable to keep the grin off his face. “The boy’s a walking miracle. Well, so to speak.”

“What happened?” Carolyn asked. Alex looked over at them, her tears of grief now turned into tears of relief and joy.

“I was just sitting there, holding his hand… and I felt his fingers move. Then, when I looked at him, his eyes were open, and he was watching me. He… He was really, actually watching me…”

“Thank God,” Carolyn whispered. Mike looked back into the room.

“Was he able to talk at all? I mean, did he seem to be… you know…”

“Brain damaged?” Alex echoed. She shook her head. “It didn’t seem like it to me. He wasn’t strong enough to talk, but he was definitely trying hard enough. Mike, whatever you said to him…”

“It wasn’t me,” Mike said softly. “It was all him.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that.”

They looked around to find Dr Harrison standing there, eyeing Mike with amusement. She continued to speak, not making any effort to hide the grin on her face.

“Mike, did you call Bobby a selfish bastard?”

Mike reddened slightly at the looks that he was suddenly getting from his companions, but nodded.

“Yeah, but it was because I was angry at him. I thought he was giving up.”

She chuckled.

“Detective, you’ve just provided living proof that a comatose person can hear what’s going on around them. Bobby definitely heard you.”

“Loud and clear, by the sounds of it,” John said with a laugh. Mike, however, wasn’t placated.

“Is he going to be okay? There’s not going to be any chance of a relapse, or anything, is there?”

“The next twenty-four hours are going to be touchy, and he’s going to be pretty annoyed with us. We’re going to need to keep waking him up every hour to ensure he doesn’t relapse. But he is awake and, even better, it looks like he hasn’t suffered any diminished cerebral capacity…”

“In English, if you don’t mind?” Helen asked lightly, and Dr Harrison smiled.

“Sorry. Basically, if there is any brain damage, it’s very minimal. But I suspect that when further tests are conducted, we’ll find that he hasn’t suffered any negative long-term effects at all. So yes, I think he’s going to be okay.”

“Can we see him?” Carolyn asked. Harrison glanced around, back into the room, and then offered them a reassuring smile.

“Another five or ten minutes, and then you’ll all be welcome to rejoin him. Just give us a chance to run some preliminary tests. Okay?”

“Will Dr Mackey still be looking after him?” Alex asked suddenly, obvious distaste in her tone. Again, Harrison regarded her reassuringly.

“Yes, but only in a very basic capacity. Ultimately, until he can be transferred to Mt Sinai, Bobby will be my responsibility. I’ll be the one making the decisions about his care from this point on. Not Dr Mackey.”

“Well, thank God for small favours,” John muttered. Harrison chuckled softly.

“Excuse me. The sooner we get done with our little tests, the sooner you can be back in there with him.”

“Hey, you.”

Bobby looked around slowly at the sound of Alex’s voice. His movements were sluggish and uncoordinated, but otherwise deliberate and moderately controlled. A small smile touched his lips and lit up his pale face as his gaze focused on her.


Her name came off his tongue slightly garbled, but still understandable. Smiling back at him reassuringly, Alex walked around and perched herself carefully on the edge of the bed, slipping her arms around him in a warm hug.

“Bobby, you gave us such a scare…”

A very faint sigh escaped him as he surrendered willingly to her embrace.

“Didn’t mean to.”

“It’s okay now,” Alex murmured, kissing him gently on the temple. “You’re going to be okay, Bobby. Everything’s going to be fine.”

Bobby’s attention was drawn away from Alex by movement on the other side of the bed, and he looked around as John and Helen, and Carolyn and the captain all gathered around the bed. Deakins manoeuvred Mike up near the head of the bed, so that the two men were within close proximity to each other. It didn’t take long for Bobby’s attention to focus on his injured colleague.


He let his hand slip off the side of the bed, and Mike reached up to take it without hesitation.

“I’m here, Bobby. We made it, pal. You were right, after all.”

“Right about what?” Carolyn wondered, but neither Mike nor Bobby attempted to answer her. Their attention was suddenly, exclusively on each other, and right at that moment it was as though the rest of them did not exist.

“Told you,” Bobby mumbled tiredly. Mike smiled weakly.

“Yeah, I know. You did, and you were right.”

“Mike?” Deakins asked. “What are you talking about? What was Bobby right about?”

“When we were in that cage,” Mike explained quietly, “Bobby said we’d get out of there. He said Alex and Carolyn would find us. He had faith that they would.”

Tears overflowed in Alex’s eyes.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” she murmured, hugging Bobby to her once more. “But we were nearly too late.”

“What about you, Mike?” John asked. “Did you believe that, too?”

Mike locked stares with Bobby, still grasping his hand firmly.

“I believed it, because Bobby did.”

Bobby sighed again, and finally looked away, his eyes growing heavy.

“So tired…”

“Sleep, then,” Alex encouraged him, lightly stroking his forehead. “I’ll be right here. I promise I won’t go anywhere.”

His eyes fluttered closed, but as he drifted back off to sleep, his lips moved in a whisper that Alex had to lean in close to hear.

“What did he say?” Helen asked as Alex shot Mike a wry smile.

“He said he’s not a jackass.”

Mike couldn’t help it. He started to laugh and cry at the same time.

“Son of a bitch… He really did hear me.”

“You called him a jackass?” Carolyn asked incredulously. Mike shrugged lopsidedly, but remained unapologetic.

“Yeah. Like I said, I was angry at him.”

“Just what did you say to him?” Alex asked curiously. Wiping at his eyes, Mike answered quietly.

“I told him he was a bastard for quitting like that, after everything we’d been through, and everything we’d talked about. I said that he couldn’t die, because I wasn’t going to let him go. I just told him to wake the hell up.”

John snorted with laughter as he observed Bobby’s sleeping form.

“There you go. That’s what we were doing wrong. All this time, when we were being all gentle about it, we should’ve been giving him a verbal kick in the ass. He would’ve been awake days ago.”

“I don’t know about that,” Alex murmured. “You know, something tells me he was just waiting to hear Mike’s voice.” She looked around at her colleagues, and her parents. “All the time we were sitting with Bobby, talking to him, did any of us think to tell him that Mike was going to be okay?”

Silence met her question, and she nodded.

“I thought not.”

“Hey, hang on,” Mike protested. “Are you seriously telling me that you think he was letting himself die, just because he thought I wasn’t okay? C’mon, Alex, that’s bullshit.”

“Is it?” she asked, looking at him pointedly. “He hadn’t responded to any of us at all this week, Mike. Then you come in, give him a serve, and three hours later, he’s awake. If you’ve got a better explanation, I’d love to hear it.”

Mike fell silent, baffled.

“You two must have developed a pretty strong bond,” John commented. They all expected Mike to deny it vehemently, but he didn’t. Instead, he looked at Bobby’s hand, still clasped in his, and felt fresh tears sting his eyes.

“We did one better than that,” he said softly. “We became friends. I… just couldn’t face losing another friend.”

Deakins patted him reassuringly on the shoulder.

“None of us have to face that now, Mike, thanks to you.”

“Not just me,” Mike corrected, reluctantly releasing Bobby’s hand so that Deakins and Carolyn could return him to his room. “We survived together. We survived because we were together.”

“Whatever mistakes that boy thinks he made,” John said softly once Deakins and Carolyn had taken Mike out, “he’s made up for them tenfold. Bobby would have died if it hadn’t been for Mike.”

“Not just now, either,” Alex murmured. “If what Dr Mackey said was right, then Bobby had a severe infection and blood poisoning for more than twenty-four hours before they were rescued. It could have been bad enough to kill him, but somehow Mike managed to keep that infection at bay. He saved Bobby’s life, at least twice over.”

Helen sighed as she reached over and gently smoothed back Bobby’s wayward locks of hair.

“Now, we just have to convince Mike of that.”

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