Chapter 6

Bosco regained consciousness slowly. He had no idea who he was, or where he was, only that it was dark. He was too tired to panic, so he just lay there, trying to make sense of his current predicament.

First things first: who was he? That one was easy once the fog started to lift. I'm Officer Maurice Boscorelli. He thought to himself. I work in the fifty-fifth precinct in Manhattan.

Next, where was he? No idea. He thought. We'll get back to that one. He knew he might have better luck if he could see.

It was then that he realized his eyes were closed. No wonder I can't see. He thought. He tried to open them, but try as he might, he remained unsuccessful.

Instead, he focused on the other senses he had. He could hear beeping. Beeping and something else. Whooshing? Definitely whooshing. Confused, he listened more closely. Talking. Someone was talking. He couldn't make out the words, but the voice was familiar, somehow.

He could feel something scratchy against his skin, and something in his throat. He tried to swallow. Yup, definitely something in his throat. Suddenly, he realized that the whooshing was perfectly synchronized to his breathing.

I'm on a ventilator. He realized. What the hell happened to me?

Then he felt it: pain. His chest felt heavy and sore. With every breath he could feel his right lung stretching, seemingly past its breaking point. Oh yeah, he remembered. I got shot. If he had gotten shot, then it stood to reason that he was in a hospital.

Bosco lay there, eyes closed, and tried to focus on the voice he had heard. He knew that voice. It was Faith. Still, the words were too muffled to understand. He listened as intently as his tired body would allow. Slowly, he began to recognize some of her words.

"Bosco… the house." She said. "Sully…talked to…and he…"

Maybe, thought Bosco, he should try again to open his eyes. Using all the energy he could muster, he managed to pry his eyes open just enough to see his partner by his bedside. He blinked a few times, each time finding it easier to keep them open.

Faith was holding his left hand in both of hers. Sunlight spilled into the room, giving her dirty blonde hair a golden glow, like a halo. She was telling him a story about something funny that had happened in the locker room. She was looking down at his hand as she spoke. "Anyway," she said. "Here was Sully, leaning into his locker to grab his gun belt and Jarvis lost his balance and fell into the locker door. Now Sully's got a big old bruise on his forehead and Jarvis is so afraid of pissing his off that he waits until Sully's done changing before coming into the locker room.

She gave a half-hearted laugh that Bosco could see didn't reach her eyes. "I guess you had to be there." Her eyes glistened with unshed tears. She wiped them aside with her finger, and then placed his hand back in hers. He could feel the moisture on his hand. "I miss you, Bosco." She said, finally.

He remembered what had happened now. She had shot at the guy that was trying to kill him and the guy had pulled him into the line of fire. Forgetting himself for a moment, he tried to tell her that it wasn't her guilt, but instead, ended up choking a little on the tracheal tube.

Faith looked up into his face. "Bosco?" He was looking back at her with tired eyes. "Hi, Bosco." She said, smiling down at him.

He squeezed her hand weakly, hoping to convey all he had wanted to say to her in the gesture.

When Bosco next woke up, the tracheal tube was gone and his mother was sitting where Faith had been.

"Hey, Ma." He rasped.

"Hi, baby." She said, leaning in to kiss his forehead. "How are you feeling?"

Bosco laughed, weakly. "Sore." He said. "Where's Faith?"

Rose stroked his hair as she spoke. "Not here yet." She told him. "She's been here a lot. She blames herself for what happened, you know."

"I know." His voice was hoarse, but he had to continue. "Listen, Ma, if I'm out of it when she gets here, will you wake me? I need to tell her she did the right thing."

"Of course, Baby." She soothed. "Do you need anything?"

"Just to get out of this god-forsaken hospital." He rasped. "How bad was it?"

Rose sighed. She didn't want to think about the damage inflicted on her son's body. "The bullet," she said. "Went through your lung." She took a deep breath. It was hard to be strong for him like he always was for her. "It stopped near your heart. They had to break a couple of ribs to get to it, but it missed all the other organs. They were worried about how long you went without air and how much blood you lost."

"The bullet?" he inquired.

"Gone." She answered.

Bosco just nodded, silently, relieved to know they hadn't left it in there.

As Faith approached Bosco's hospital room, the officer outside the room nodded to her in greeting. She nodded back to him and smiled before proceeding through the door.

Bosco lay back, but had the head of the bed raised and was watching a hockey game on the television. He turned to greet her. "Hey, check it out." He said, pointing to his face. "One tube down, three to go."

"That's great, Bos." She told him. He noticed that she was looking past him and at the rain pelting against the window. He decided she needed to talk, so he turned off the television.

Faith looked startled. "You're turning off the Islanders, Bos?"

"Only for you." He said. He looked at her seriously for a moment. "Faith,"

"Look, Bosco, I know what you're gonna say. It's not my fault. Rationally, I know that, but it was still me that shot you, and I can't help feeling guilty about it." Her eyes had started to well up again.

He took her hand. "You were shooting at that guy. It was his fault, not yours."

"Yeah," she said, wiping another tear from her cheek. "But you almost died, Bosco. You almost died by my hand and there's nothing I can do to take that moment back."

"Yokas, he had my gun. I was being strangled. I'd have been dead anyway. What difference does it make if it was by your bullet or his hand around my throat?"

"And how would you feel if it was me whose heart stopped in the ER and you who had done it?" she shot back.

"Probably the same way you do right now, and you'd be here telling me it's not my fault and that I did what I had to do." He retorted.

Faith smiled. "You know what? You're probably right. The guilty feeling is still there, though.

"Well, I could always shoot you." He joked. "Then we'd be even."

She smirked. "Just for that, I'm going to make you sit there and watch while I eat this delicious cheeseburger that I brought for you." She pulled a foil-wrapped cheeseburger from her purse, un-wrapped it, and took a big bite. "Mmm," she teased. "This is, like, the best burger I've ever had in my life."

Bosco tried to hide a smirk. "I hate you so much right now." He told her.

Faith swallowed her bite and laughed. "Relax, Bos. This one is yours." She said, pulling another burger out of her purse.

"Eat fast, though. If the nurse catches us, they'll throw me out."

About a half an hour later, the doctor stopped in. he held a folder in his hand. "Good afternoon, officer. I'm doctor Reardon. I have the results of your neural exams." He looked to Faith. "If your friend could step outside for a moment..."

Bosco looked at Faith. "She can stay." He said.

"Okay, then." The doctor replied. "Well, we were concerned about brain damage due to the length of time you were without sufficient air supply, but according to the tests, you seem to have gotten lucky." Faith and Bosco both gave a sigh of relief. "That being said, Doctor Reardon continued, "If you find you're experiencing some dizziness, blurred vision, confusion, or anything else out of the ordinary, be sure to talk to the nurse as they may indicate some level of brain injury."

"Thanks, Doc." Bosco said. "When can I get rid of this chest tube?" He was finding it very uncomfortable, though he didn't want to say it with Faith by his side. She was already feeling responsible for his current pain. He didn't want to make her feel worse.

"We can do that right away if you like. I'll just grab a nurse to assist." He used the intercom behind the bed. "If you like, she can take the catheter out too, providing you feel strong enough to get up and use the toilet."

"See Yokas, that just leaves the IV. I'm almost a free man."

The doctor smiled. "That one will have to stay a little longer."

Bosco sighed. "Can't win 'em all, I guess."

Just then, the nurse appeared with a tray of medical instruments. "Okay, officer, you've already got plenty of pain meds in your system, but you might still feel some discomfort. Ma'am, if you're squeamish, you may want to look away."

The doctor got to work, but Faith didn't look away. She could see the pain that Bosco was trying to hide as the doctor slid the tube out. She sat there, watching as Bosco looked away. She rubbed his bicep, hoping to provide some comfort to him.

"Piece of cake." The nurse said as she placed a bandage over the wound that had, until recently, held the chest tube.