Logan left the hospital and walked down the street to the parking garage, where his car had been for the past few days. His mind spun in different directions as he walked, and he suddenly thought of Denise. The week before the shooting, Goren had told him she took some time off to visit her brother upstate, and he confessed with some confusion that he missed her. When Logan pressed him for an explanation, after more hesitation than usual, Goren admitted that he missed her, not just the sex she provided for him. She had somehow become more to him than that, and he really didn't know what to do with it. Logan had simply listened to him, which is what Goren had been looking for from him. Whatever he was going to do, he had to be the one to decide what that would be. Logan would offer no opinion to avoid deeply upsetting Goren, which is what had happened the last time he'd told Goren what he thought about the situation.
Denise was due back that night and she had a date with Goren. She didn't know he'd been injured. Oh, hell, Logan chastised himself for not thinking to call her sooner. Goren would have objected, though, and been unwilling to interrupt her time with the younger brother she loved. He pulled out his phone and called her.
"Hi, Mike," she answered, sounding honestly happy to hear from him.
He liked her very much, and he wished that Goren could find it in himself to be happy with her. She was a genuinely good-hearted woman who would do anything to make him happy. If he just gave himself a chance, Goren would be happy with Denise. Whether he liked it or not, she loved him. Even Logan could see it. He knew that Goren loved her as well, though he refused to acknowledge it. He was an emotional wreck, and Logan had no idea how to help him get through it. All he could do was be there, and he'd gotten very good at that.
"Hey, honey. How was your visit with Steven?"
"We had a great time. I just got home about an hour ago, and I'm getting ready to see Bobby. He's not answering his phone, so I'll just go over and surprise him."
"Yeah, about that...there's been a change in plans. Something happened, and he can't make it."
"Oh." He could hear the disappointment in her tone. "That's why he didn't answer when I called."
"It's not what you think."
"No? What am I thinking, Mike? The entire time I was away, every time I had a moment to myself, I thought of him. Just like at home, every night I climbed into bed and I missed him, and I wished he could miss me, too. If there was something I could do to free his heart and let him love me back, I would do it, but I have to come to terms with the fact that it's just not meant to be. We are just not meant to be. And yet...God help me, I just can't let him go."
He wanted to tell her that Goren did love her, in his own messed-up way, but he had a feeling she already knew it. He also found himself wishing he could tell her that Eames had nothing to do with Goren's current condition, but he couldn't because she had everything to do with it. So he decided it best just to be direct. "Denise, he's in intensive care at St. Vincent's."
He heard a small gasp over the line, then silence. After a pause, she asked in a shaky voice, "Wh-What happened?"
"Old story—a routine call that went wrong. Some psycho with a gun started shooting...and he took a bullet in the chest for his partner."
"Oh, my God..." She was quiet for a long moment. "Wasn't he vested?"
"No. It was a routine call, no reason for anyone to be vested."
More silence, then a tentative, "How bad is he?"
"His injury is critical, and he's still on a respirator. The bullet bounced around before it exited, damaging a lung and his heart."
She drew in a sharp breath. "Will he be all right?"
He had no problem hearing the distress in her voice, and he struggled to sound reassuring, hopeful. "They still don't know. I'm sorry I didn't call you earlier. I've been preoccupied and he'd knock the crap out of me if I'd interrupted your visit with Steve."
"Do you think they'd let me see him?"
He hesitated for a moment. "Tell you what. Meet me in the main lobby at St. Vincent's and I'll take you up to see him. Then you and I can take Little Miss Maggie to dinner and I'll drop you off at home."
"Thank you, Mike. I'll call a cab right now."
"See you shortly."
He felt bad for not calling her sooner, but he hadn't been lying that Goren would be upset at him for interrupting her visit. He wasn't sure that Eames would be okay with letting Denise in to see him, knowing how jealous she was that Denise had the freedom to be with Goren and she did not. Maybe she would get mad at him for bringing her up there, but she really had no say in it, and he knew that Goren would want Denise to be allowed in to see him. He would risk incurring the wrath of Eames to see that his friend's wishes were carried out. He owed him that.
Denise arrived at the hospital about a half hour later, and she stepped into Logan's embrace. Taking her hand in his, he led her to the closest bank of elevators. "Prepare yourself, sweetheart. He doesn't look good."
She nodded. "This isn't the first time this has happened, Mike. I've been through this with him before."
"He needs to be more careful," he muttered.
"Being careful has nothing to do with it. This happens because he takes his job so seriously."
He nodded. "Yeah, I know. He cares too damn much."
When they arrived at the ICU, Logan talked with the charge nurse then told Denise, "Okay, sweetheart. You have ten minutes. Alex and I will get a cup of coffee."
"Thank you, Mike."
Eames looked at them with surprise when they came into the room, then her expression darkened. Logan gently grasped her shoulder. "Come on, Alex. I'll buy you a coffee."
She hesitated for a moment, watching Denise, before she left the room with him. "How did she find out?" she asked as they left the unit.
"I called her. It was only right, Alex. She's his girlfriend and she has a right to know what happened. She's been out of town and she had a date with him tonight. She would have noticed when he didn't show up." He paused, then added, "She loves him, too."
He wasn't trying to be mean, but he wanted to be fair. He knew she begrudged Denise her long-time relationship with Goren, but he wasn't going to let her be petty about it now.
Finally, she nodded. "You're right," she admitted reluctantly. "But that doesn't mean I have to like it."
"He'd get really upset if you didn't let her in."
"I know. You're springing for a sandwich, too."
He grinned. "Okay. It's a deal. Uh, you don't mind if Denise and I take Maggie out for dinner or ice cream after this, do you?"
She hesitated. "I guess that's okay. Maggie likes her, doesn't she?"
He nodded. "She likes her a lot."
"Just don't keep her out too late."
They went down to the cafeteria where he got them each coffee and Eames a sandwich while Denise visited with Goren.
Denise approached the bed, her eyes bright with tears. "Oh, Bobby," she whispered. "Not again."
She held his hand, lightly stroking his arm. "Steve is doing good," she said, trying to sound conversational. "He said to tell you hi. Maybe you can go with me the next time I go to see him. I would really like that, and so would he."
For a long time, she studied him, the breathing tube taped in place, his face pale. Reaching out, she caressed the side of his face, wondering how aware he was. Leaning down, she kissed his cheek. "Please," she whispered into his ear. "Please..." She couldn't voice what she wanted to say. Tears streamed freely down her face. "Please, Bobby...just wake up, and I promise, I'll say yes. Please..."
Logan and Eames were back by then. "I have to go now, but I'll be back," she managed, her throat tight.
She gave him another soft kiss and moved away from the bed. She nodded congenially to Eames, who nodded back, then she joined Logan at the door. Looking back one more time, she let him lead her out of the room and they headed for Queens to see the sweet little girl who Goren loved.
It was very late when Eames closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift to sleep. Her dreams took her back in time just over two years, to the August night that Maggie was conceived. She had been blissfully happy that night, a feeling of joy she had not experienced since, something she shared only with him...and he didn't even know it.
She woke suddenly to an alarm. Disoriented, she searched blearily for the offending clock. The sound of hushed voices speaking in urgent tones jerked her awake. A hand gripped her arm lightly and Goren's night nurse, a sweet young man named Matt, softly said, "Come with me, Alex, honey."
"Now, sweetie. They need room to work."
She let him lead her from the room, her heart in her throat, pounding its panic. "What's wrong?" she asked as soon as they were out of the room.
"He started to wake up. He was disoriented and he started to panic. He pulled out his breathing tube before I could get to him. They're going to calm him down and evaluate his breathing to see if they need to put the tube back in. This could be a good thing. We just have to wait and see."
Agitated and worried, she began to pace, hugging her stomach. While she was pacing, her phone rang in her pocket. Pulling it out, she looked at the caller ID. Ricky. Bracing herself, she moved away to a semi-secluded corner and answered the call. "Hi, Ricky."
"Hi yourself. Why aren't you home?"
She looked at the time. 3:47. He was working an odd shift all month, starting at 7 in the evening and getting off at 3 in the morning. She knew from his voice that he was irritated. "I stayed at the hospital tonight because it's Friday. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Damn it, Alex..."
"Don't start with me, Ricky, or I won't come home at all."
There was a pause, then he asked, "How is he doing?"
"He's holding his own."
Another, briefer pause, then he conceded, "Okay, I'll see you tomorrow."
She closed the phone, relieved that he didn't argue. Only then did she also realize that he hadn't asked about the baby. It was too much for her. His neglect of the baby, though nothing new, sent her emotions over the edge. She walked to the nearest chair, said down and began to cry.
Nearly an hour passed, with doctors, nurses and technicians coming and going, before anyone stopped to talk with her. The doctor introduced himself as Carter Ellison, Goren's primary physician. He sat beside her and spoke softly. "We sedated him just enough to reduce his agitation so he would stop fighting us but not enough to further compromise his breathing. It's a very delicate balance. He seems to be breathing well on his own, but pain control is an issue since narcotics can cause respiratory depression and his breathing is already compromised by his lung injury. We have to watch him closely and balance the risk of adverse effects with the benefit of pain control. For now, we will leave him off the respirator, as long as he is breathing spontaneously on his own. We will only sedate him if absolutely necessary, but if we must intubate him again and put him back on the respirator, we will have to keep him under, as we've been doing."
"What are the chances of that?"
"Right now, he can go either way. I would have preferred to keep him intubated for another day or so, to give that lung more time to heal so he wouldn't have to struggle so much, but he kind of changed my plans, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and we'll try it."
"Is there anything else I need to know?"
"Just watch him for any difficulty breathing. That's our biggest concern at the moment."
"How is his heart?"
"Healing. As for any long-term problems, we'll just have to wait and see."
"So...there's a chance he won't be able to return to work?"
"That's always a possibility with injuries like his. We'll just have to wait and see. That's the best I can say at this point."
"Thank you, Dr. Ellison."
He reached out and squeezed her hand. "We'll do everything we can for him," he promised.
She nodded, unable to speak any more. He rose, then said, "You can go in whenever you're ready."
Another nod, then he was gone. She folded her arms around her middle again, closing her eyes and willing herself to bring her emotions back under control. She had a lot of experience with that after Joe died, and it didn't take her too long to finally master herself.
She opened the door slowly and closed it quietly. Matt was quietly talking to him as he finished pushing medication into his IV line. Goren's reply was brief, very softly spoken. Matt smiled at whatever he said.
When she came into his line of vision, Goren's expression changed. "Eames..." he said, his voice hoarse and barely above a whisper.
She tried to smile, willing her eyes not to tear up. "Mike has been here since the shooting, but he took the night off," she explained. "We didn't want you to be alone, so here I am."
His eyes were unfocused under the effects of his medication, and he wasn't strong enough to fight it for long, but he was still fighting. He wanted to stay with her for as long as he could. His hand moved closer to hers as the medicine he'd just been given hit him. He fought harder to stay awake, but he had nothing left to erect the barriers he hid behind when he was with her. He grasped her hand and repeated, "Eames..."
She gripped his hand tightly, so he would not doubt she was holding it, and she kept her eyes on his face. "It's okay. I'm here."
He was losing his battle against the medicine; it was harder and harder for him to keep his eyes open. He moistened his lips and tried to speak, but it took too much effort to form the words. With her free hand, she brushed his hair back off his forehead. "It's okay," she said softly. "Let go."
He struggled for another minute, gathering the strength to say something to her. Only two words made it past his lips before he did finally give in to the medicine and drifted off to sleep.
She stood there silently, watching him rest easily under the effect of the sedative and the painkiller. His chest rose and fell regularly, and he did not seem to be in pain. She leaned down and placed a soft kiss on his mouth. She knew that once his strength returned, so would the barriers he kept strong between them, but for the moment, she hung on those two words, spoken without reserve, without censure, in a moment of total vulnerability...words he would never say under normal circumstances. Love you.