Soft beeping flooded Carlos's ears and he slowly woke to find himself surrounded by the white calls of a trauma room. Morales was hovering over him and Carlos immediately felt disgusted with himself.
"The police are here to talk to you about the attack and then you're going up for surgery," Dr. Morales said in a gentle voice, horrified that this had happened. "I also need to do a rape exam…"
Carlos sighed, "I thought you'd do that already," he spoke in a groggy voice. "Why would you care…?"
"I figured I'd wait to see if you woke," Dr. Morales replied calmly. "So you knew what was going on."
Carlos frowned, "According to you, I destroy lives," he spoke weakly, his voice tired. "What…?"
Breaking off in a coughing fit, Carlos was relieved by the sudden appearance of an oxygen mask on his face, "Just breathe slowly," Dr. Morales said gently, unnerved that Carlos was still angry over their words earlier concerning the stillborn baby. "You're going to feel some discomfort, but I'll be gentle."
Out of pure defensive instinct, Carlos reached out with his right hand and anxiously gripped the gurney railing because he knew he had nobody to comfort him, "…Does he have any family to notify?" he heard a voice ask as he felt his legs being positioned. "We'll have to talk to him eventually, but…"
"I think someone went over to the firehouse to check," Carlos heard Dr. Morales reply gently.
There was some quiet talking and snapping of photos and Carlos suddenly felt his legs being lowered, "He's clear for surgery," he heard a calm voice say. "Did they catch his attacker yet?"
Blue uniforms passed by as Carlos felt the gurney move, but the vibrations were making him tired and ready to sleep in his weakened state. As the gurney approached the elevator, everything faded to black.
Bobby sighed as he entered his apartment and saw Matty cooking, "Isn't it a little early to be making supper?" he asked in a confused voice, eyeing the food and noticing the containers. "What are you…?"
"I got a buddy who sleeps on the street nearby who likes hot food cause it helps him study," Matty replied in a calm voice. "He got evicted like a while ago, but he's currently in class for med school."
Bobby frowned, as he remembered Doc telling people that Carlos was in medical school classes, "What's your friend's name, Matty?" he asked, knowing his brother liked to walk around a lot for exercise."
"His name's Carlos Nieto and he's been working really hard at his job and school, but he's worried about what he'll do in the winter," Matty said calmly. "He keeps his stuff at his work so it won't be stolen."
Bobby gave Matty a look, "Matty, Carlos got beat up on the job today by a guy whose wife he accidentally hit with his rig," he explained in a quiet voice. "He got beat up really, really badly."
Matty froze and quietly turned off the heat under the food, "The guy doesn't have any family," he said in a quiet voice. "I know I've only been out for a little bit, but I take him stuff on my nightly walks and he's usually reading when I come. He tells me about how he feels like an outcast at the station…"
"I came by to check on you before I went to the firehouse to look up his contact info, but I guess there's no point now," Bobby replied in a worried voice. "I'm not sure how to handle that he's homeless."
Matty sighed and went over to the window, "You wanna see where Carlos sleeps?" he asked softly.
"Why doesn't he sleep at the firehouse?" Bobby asked in a confused voice. "He knows it's a bed…"
Matty gave Bobby a look, "That Doc guy and everyone else would wonder why he was sleeping there during the day and working there at night," he replied quietly. "It's not very far from here."
Bobby nodded and the two left the apartment together, "Kim, I gotta go do something with Matty real quick," he said as they approached the ambulance. "He says that Carlos doesn't have any family."
Kim frowned, "Where are you going on shift, Bobby?" she asked in a confused voice. "What is it?"
"Carlos sleeps in a park near here," Matty spoke up nervously. "I can show you his spot."
Kim's eyes widened, "We should drive over there in case we get a call," she replied worriedly.
Bobby nodded, horrified that nobody had actually taken the time to learn about Carlos before now.
Nearly two hours had passed and Doc should have returned to the firehouse for reassignment to another bus to finish out shift, but he had instead gone to the surgical waiting room to wait on news of Carlos. Because it had been an attack, police were everywhere and also searching the streets based on the information Carlos had given them. The guy's grieving wife was also being questioned about it.
As Doc sat there, he suddenly saw a person in scrubs come down the hallway from the direction of the operating room, "Hey there, Doc," the surgeon said. "Carlos is resting in recovery now; he's got a fractured sternum, a few broken ribs, pins in his hand, wrist, and arm, and his spleen had to be taken out."
"I called the firehouse and there's no mention of any family or address in his Personnel file," Doc replied in a concerned voice. "I haven't paid much attention since Jerry went on disability and left, but now I feel like I should…"
The surgeon sighed, "You can sit with Carlos if you want," he said calmly. "Normally, I wouldn't allow it, but given the fact that he doesn't seem to have anyone else, I'll make an exception this time."
Nodding, Doc got up and followed the surgeon down the hallway and wasn't surprised to see uniforms outside the Recovery Room. As he went inside, he saw that Carlos was lying in the first bed semi-conscious with bandages under his gown while his left arm, wrist, and hand were casted and in a brace and sling while IV's of fluid and blood bags littered the right arm above the index finger where a pulse-ox clip sat. His face sported bruises and an oxygen tube sat in his bruised nose.
Carlos's eyelids fluttered as Doc sat down, "Doc?" Carlos asked groggily. "What…what…?"
"The surgeon let me come in because I couldn't find any information about other family members in your Personnel file," Doc explained gently. "Is there anyone you want me to call for you?"
Carlos sighed sleepily, "I…I don't have any family," he replied groggily. "Grew up in foster care."
An anxious sigh escaped Carlos's lips as he struggled to move his right hand to grab the blanket, "Cold," he spoke in a groggy voice, unable to grab because the clip was on his index finger. "It's so cold…"
Doc sighed, reached under the gurney, and found a spare blanket, taking great care to keep Carlos's right hand out as he draped it over the younger man, "It just gets so cold under that bridge sometimes," Carlos spoke in a groggy voice as he closed his eyes. "Matty brings me soup and stuff, but still…"
Deeply exhausted, Carlos drifted back into a deep sleep leaving Doc both confused and concerned.
Bobby frowned as he followed Matty into a section of Central Park where people usually came if they wanted a quiet place to think. There were small mounds of grass everywhere and a few stone bridges scattered throughout the area.
"Carlos usually sleeps under here," Matty explained as they approached a bridge near some trees. He reads with a flashlight until 1 a.m. and then he goes to sleep on his bag."
"How can anyone live like this?" Kim asked in a shocked voice as she approached. "Especially…"
Matty sighed as he collected dishes from under the bridge and handed them to Bobby, "Here's that Tupperware I borrowed," he said quietly. "When I get a job, I'll replace the food I took…"
"Don't worry about it, Matty," Bobby spoke softly. "You were doing good…making sure he ate."
Matty nodded and Bobby frowned when he saw bits of blood on the Tupperware as if someone had tried to wipe their nose on it, "Oh, the blood," Matty said softly. "That's Carlos's; he had a run in with some Spanish anti-gang cop a couple days ago who wanted to know why he was out here alone after dark. She punched him and he made me hide so I wouldn't get busted. I think her name was Cruz."
Bobby sighed, "Bobby, we have to tell the Lieutenant and Doc," Kim said in a worried voice.
"Is Carlos gonna be okay?" Matty asked anxiously. "I know sleeping in parks is against the law…"
Bobby gave Matty a look, "We'll help him however we can," he promised softly. "Matty?"
Matty nodded, eyeing the bloody Tupperware with distaste, "Are you willing to talk to the cops about what you saw go down between Carlos and Cruz?" Bobby asked calmly. "It'll help Carlos."
"Cops stick together like glue, man," Matty said anxiously. "I'm an ex-con and…yeah."
Kim sighed, "Come on, Matty," she said quietly. "You can ride with us over there."
Matty eyed the bloody Tupperware again and nodded, wanting to be of help to his new friend.
"…I hate to wake him, but we gotta talk to him about what went down…"
Carlos felt a gentle hand in his foot, "Carlos, Sully and Davis are here to talk to you," he heard Doc say.
Sighing, Carlos opened his eyes and immediately realized he was in a private room, "They moved you while you were sleeping," Doc explained calmly, seeing that Carlos was frightened. "You're all right."
"We were sent over to get your statement," Sully explained calmly. "You up to talking about it?"
Carlos frowned, "Sex Crimes will also want to talk to you later, but that can wait," Sully stated.
"It won't make it hurt any less," Carlos replied groggily. "It hurt in foster care, but this is worse."
Sully and Ty exchanged a look and Doc quickly picked up the pitcher of ice chips that had been left with a cup, "You need some ice chips," he said calmly, pouring some in a glass. "It'll help you relax."
Carlos gave Doc a look, but allowed himself to be fed a few ice chips, "The guy's wife?" he asked.
"She's refusing to cooperate and she's being detained," Sully replied calmly. "She thinks that…"
Doc glared at Sully, "She probably thinks I destroyed lives like Morales does," Carlos rasped softly.
"Well, we're assigned here as protection detail, so we can talk whenever you feel like it," Sully said quickly, getting the sense that Carlos was tired and angry. "Why don't you get some rest?"
Carlos sighed, but closed his eyes to pretend like he was resting, "I'm gonna get something from the machine down the hall," Doc said as he got up and left the room with Sully and Ty. "You guys want…"
Quiet footsteps entered the room and Carlos suddenly felt someone grab his chin, forcing him to open his eyes, "What did I tell you about squatting on my beat, Nieto?" Cruz hissed in a dark voice. "Get off my beat, or I'll lock your scrawny self in Riker's…"
"I just had surgery," Carlos replied in a groggy voice, gazing at Cruz. "I've been trying to stay off your beat."
Cruz scowled and grabbed Carlos's clothes and threw them at him, "Get outta here now and I'll forget I saw you," she hissed.
When Carlos didn't respond, Cruz forced him to get up and yanked his IV's out before firmly escorting him from the room and out a fire exit that was nearby. A few minutes later, Doc, Sully, and Ty returned and were horrified to find the bed empty.
"Carlos!" Doc called out in an anxious voice as he ran over to the bed and pushed the nurse's call button. "Sully...call it in."
Wondering what or who had suddenly possessed Carlos to pull his IV's and take off, Sully quickly reached for his radio.
It was dark by the time Cruz had gotten Carlos out of the hospital and out of view of it, "I don't give a crap where you go as long as it's not on my watch," she hissed as she threw his clothes at him and smacked him in the knee hard with her police baton.
Deeply shaken, Carlos watched helplessly as Cruz got back behind the wheel of her squad car and drove off after forcing him into the car just outside the hospital. She had driven through endless streets in silence while Carlos had sat in the back, whimpering each time his face had hit the metal barrier separating the back seat from the front seat by her fast driving.
Once the squad car was out of sight, Carlos shakily put his pants on before he placed his right hand over his abdomen because it was starting to hurt. He slowly began to walk across the grass in search of a place where he could sit and maybe sleep a little.
"Hey bud, you okay?" Mikey Boscorelli, who had squatted in the area for a long time, asked as he suddenly pulled himself out of a dumpster he had been rifling through and saw Carlos wandering helplessly. "Crap sakes, man; you're limping and hurt."
Carlos froze as Mikey came towards him, "Hey, it's okay, buddy," Mikey said calmly. "I'm not gonna hurt you, okay?"
"I was beat up by this guy like today and this cop made me leave the hospital," Carlos said shakily. "I was raped too…"
Mikey sighed and he put an arm around Carlos, "Come on," he said calmly. "I live in this abandoned house just over here."
Swallowing hard, Carlos allowed himself to be led into a nearby dilapidated house that had nothing in the way of warmth of furnishings. There was a mattress on the floor in the back that had a pillow and a fleece blanket on it and there was a board lining the wall that held snacks and cans of food along with a can opener and other dollar store stuff that looked stolen.
"My knee hurts," Carlos spoke in a pained, shaky voice as he suddenly felt lightheaded. "I…I gotta lie down…"
Mikey quickly got Carlos to his mattress and laid him down, "Those cops, man," he hissed. "They don't care."
"Who are you?" Carlos asked in a groggy voice, suddenly feeling tired. "My name's Carlos…Carlos Nieto."
Not wanting to give his last name away in case it got back to the cops, Mikey covered Carlos with the blanket, "I'm Mikey," he replied in a worried voice as he went over to his food stash. "Do you want somethin' to eat, Carlos? There ain't much…"
"Sure," Carlos replied in a tired voice, watching sleepily as Mikey started opening cans. "Thanks for your help. I don't have anywhere to go."
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