"We got here as soon as we could," said Eli as him and Ria rushed into the hospital waiting room looking very flustered.
"Thanks," Gillian said, standing up to greet them. "What's happening at the office?"
"Heidi's cancelling the next few days and then closing up. She said she might stop by over the next few days, but I don't think she wants to crowd everyone," Ria answered. "Speaking of, we can go too if you want."
"No," Gillian answered quickly, and Ria briefly self congratulated herself inwardly at having correctly identified Gillian's well hidden fear. "No, please stay. The doctors could be hours and Alec and Zoe are still at work, they won't be here for a while."
"Have they been informed?" Eli asked.
"I called Zoe and let her know - she's going to leave Em in school for the day then she'll bring her in later."
"Emily will flip out," Eli said.
"She might, but we're not going to know anything for a while and I doubt we'll be able to see him today anyway. She may as well finish the day rather than just waste time sitting around here with a load of tense adults."
"That's a good shout," Ria nodded. "So you called Alec?"
"Yeah," said Gillian. "I didn't know what else to do. Him and Zoe will both get stuck in morning traffic though. They could be a while."
"Well it sounds like we've got a while," Ria pointed out. "Anyone want a coffee?"
"Sounds good," Eli said, and Gillian took her up on the offer too. She hadn't had her morning caffeine fill yet, and she had a feeling today she would definitely need it.
"I won't be long," Ria said, heading back out through the doors into the corridor.
"So what did they say in the ambulance?" Eli asked Gillian as they sat down in the near empty waiting room.
"Not a lot, not to me anyway," Gillian said. "I gave them his name, age, address, next of kin and so on, but they wouldn't tell me anything. I guess they didn't really know much that soon."
Gillian sunk back into her chair as Eli digested the information. She was beginning to get a headache already - the smell of food and cleaning products made her want to vomit, while the sickly green walls only added to her pounding head. She wanted the hospital to be full of life, so she could take her mind off everything and people watch, but as Cal was in the operating theatre, they'd been moved to a private waiting room and she couldn't hear anything other than some bland piano music playing in the background.
"What did he look like?" asked Eli, almost hesitantly. "I mean, I only briefly saw his face."
Gillian shook her head and then looked at him.
"Awful," she breathed. "He was so thin. Cal's always been pretty trim, but it was like he hadn't eaten for a few weeks."
"I noticed that he hadn't shaved for a while," Eli murmured, backing up Gillian's guess.
"Other than that, he just looked tired. His eyes were closed and his face was slack, so I had no idea what was going on in his head. He had an injury on his chest, that looked like a...bullet wound," Gillian continued, her mouth forming the words that made her feel queasy.
"It was still bleeding. If it's too badly infected though, that'll create even more problems."
They sat in silence for a moment and eventually Ria returned with paper cups full of cheap coffee that only succeeded in worsening Gillian's headache. Still, coffee was coffee, and she needed coffee.
"He'll pull through," Eli said aloud, addressing no one in particular. "He's Lightman."
"Oh I don't doubt that he'll pull through," Gillian half laughed. "He's survived four years, he can survive four more hours. I have no idea what state he's been left in."
The psychologist in Gillian was speaking, and Eli and Ria both knew it and agreed with her.
The piano music continued for a while until Eli's phone rang, harshly breaking the silence that had settled.
"Reynolds, hey," he said as he answered, and immediately Gillian and Ria sat up.
"Ben?" Gillian mouthed to Ria, and gained a nod in return.
"We're at the hospital now," continued Eli. "Yeah, he's in theatre. No one really knows what's happening."
He scrunched his face up as Ben continued to speak on the other end of the phone. Gillian guessed that Ben was talking very quickly and was stressed.
"Okay, just get down here as soon as you can, but don't bother bringing your whole squad. It's going to be ages before he's even out, and I don't think he'll be up for talking to anyone for a while."
Gillian nodded. Eli was keeping his cool and saying the right things for once in his life. Kid deserved a medal.
As Eli hung up on Ben, Gillian nearly started crying with relief as her husband walked through the doors.
"Alec," she sighed, practically running up to him and falling into his arms.
"You okay?" he asked, fiercely hugging her, burying his face in her hair.
"Yeah," she nodded, stepping back and smiling at him. "Yeah I'm fine."
"What's going on then?" he asked, putting an arm round her shoulders and guiding them back to the seats, nodding his hello to Ria and Eli.
"Cal's back," Gillian said, unable to find other words.
"He is?" Alec asked, something going on in his eyes that Gillian couldn't work out.
"Yeah," Gillian said, and for the first time she allowed herself to smile. "Yeah, he's back."
Alec nodded, smiling when his wife did, though it didn't entirely reach his eyes. Gillian missed that, but Eli and Ria shared a sideways glance at one another.
"So where is he now?"
"He's in theatre right now, he had a pretty nasty injury," Gillian said, unable to wipe the grin from her face.
It was potentially because she was already tired, or because she had a headache, or because she was going plain hysterical, but suddenly Gillian wanted to laugh and clap her hands like a little kid all over again. Her best friend was back, back from the dead almost. He was back, in the same building as her, something she thought would never happen.
"Cal's back?" Zoe asked, echoing Gillian's thoughts as she entered the room.
"Who would've thought, huh?" Eli nodded, waving at the woman he'd only met a handful of times in his life.
"It's true?" Zoe clarified, turning to Gillian for reassurance. She didn't trust the curly haired man as far as she could throw him, and considering his lanky frame, it probably wasn't all that far. His heart seemed in the right place but his head always seemed to be in its own bumbling cloud.
"That's what Eli said," answered Ria, a sharp edge to her voice.
"Are you part of the welcoming committee for my ex husband too?"
"I can hardly call it welcoming considering I've never met the man, but I'm here with Eli and Gillian," Ria answered, holding her hand out toward Zoe. "I'm your ex husband's latest employee. Ria Torres."
"Charming," Zoe said, barely raising her eyebrows in a smile before shaking Ria's hand very quickly. "I'm Zoe."
"A pleasure to meet you," Ria said, turning around before rolling her eyes. There was something about the woman she didn't like, though she didn't know what it was.
"Well you two are similar," murmured Eli as Ria sat down next to him.
"No we are not," Ria growled in reply. "She does not seem like Lightman's type."
"How would you know? You've never met him."
"Okay, let me rephrase that. She doesn't seem like anyone's type. I feel sorry for their daughter."
"Oh don't worry about Emily," Eli laughed. The last time he'd seen Emily was six months ago - she'd cleverly managed to get out of doing her homework and gotten permission to go to a high school party all at the same time, with Zoe, Gillian and even Alec all there. "She copes just fine."
"Have you told Emily?" Zoe asked, whipping her head round at the sound of Eli's voice.
"No," he answered. "I have no way of contacting her."
"I felt it was best to leave her out of it for now," Gillian said, stepping back in.
"Good, I agree," said Zoe, dismissing Eli entirely. "So what have the doctors told you?"
"Not a lot," Gillian said, frowning. "We just have to wait and see."
"I am not a patient person. There must be someone who knows something somewhere."
Gillian sighed as Zoe walked straight back out of the room, her jaw set in a way that would terrify anyone who happened to cross her path. Gillian hoped there were no junior doctors ambling around.
"Don't you just love when your colleague's ex wife argues with both your employees then goes off on a rampage across the entire hospital?" Alec muttered.
"Behave," Gillian said, leaning on his shoulder.
"Why is it that he can get in the way even when he's not here?"
"But he is here now Alec. He's here."
"Why is it that he can get in the way even when he's not here?"
"He's not here now Alec. He's not here, but he will be. Very soon."
"Well I don't know an exact time," huffed Gillian.
"Funny, you two are so close I'd presumed you'd be able to give me a second by second description of his whereabouts."
"As ever, your humour is astounding Alec. I don't know where he is, and I don't know when he's going to get here."
"He's still in the way though," he said, motioning to the lounge where Emily was sat watching god awful shows about a teenage pop star.
"Emily is not 'in the way'," hissed Gillian, quoting his words with her fingers and praying Emily hadn't heard him.
"I was going to take you out for dinner tonight, and I'm pretty sure the restaurant I had a table booked for doesn't do a kid's menu complete with crayons."
"Then why were you planning to go?" Gillian said, shaking her head. "Emily stays for as long as it takes for Cal to show up. I appreciate this has ruined our dinner plans, and I'm sorry Alec, but you can take me out another night. Rest assured I will give Cal hell when he eventually returns, but for now, Emily stays put. Understood?"
"She's your charge," was all he said before walking into his office and closing the door. Gillian could hear a glass being set out and knew Cal wouldn't be the only one drinking heavily tonight.
She picked her cell up off the table and dialled Cal's number yet again.
"Lightman where the hell are you? I've got your kid in my lounge and a raging husband in my office, and you're nowhere in sight, and you're not answering your cell phone. I've known you be selfish Cal, but this is too far, even for you. A hangover is going to be the least of your problems tomorrow morning."
She snapped it shut and wandered into the lounge.
"Hey Emily," she said, sitting on the arm of the couch.
"My dad hasn't showed up yet has he?" she asked, rolling her eyes.
"No," Gillian said, not knowing another way to really put it.
"If you drop me off home I'll stay there alone tonight and call you in the morning to let you know I'm still alive and haven't burned the house down."
"Nice try," laughed Gillian as Emily fixed her with a grin. "However, tonight you're going to stay here instead. Are you okay sleeping in one of my old college sweaters?"
"Okay," Emily shrugged. "Do you have a spare toothbrush?"
"Umm, yeah, of course," answered Gillian.
"Then I reckon I can take a night here," Emily teased, switching the television off and standing up.
"Emily, promise me you won't turn into your father too much," said Gillian, raising her eyebrows imploringly.
"Why not? Life sure seems more fun as him than as my mom. I haven't seen her smile in at least two weeks, and she has more wrinkles than dad."
"Do not let her hear you say that," Gillian said, trying to scold the girl but failing miserably and laughing. "Now, let's go find you a sweater."
"What are you sniggering at?"
"This is so cute boss," the man replied, holding the cell phone out for him to listen. "Press repeat."
Gillian's agitated voice filled the car currently driving down the freeway.
"Maybe we should save it for when he wakes up. Could be funny."
"This isn't a torture mission, idiot. Delete all of the messages, wipe the phone and toss it, as soon as you can. We're not chancing anything."
A/N: If there are mistakes, I'm very sorry, I just wanted to get this out there. I'm sorry for staying away so long, I'll be back sooner next time. Thanks for sticking with it!