|It Wouldn't Be the Same Without You
Author: Lizabeth S. Tucker PM
Missing scene from episode IF YOU COULD SEE WHAT I SEE. Milt waits for Mark to regain consciousness.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst/Drama - Words: 4,298 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 1 - Published: 05-01-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2375675
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Missing scene from "If You Could See What I See"
It Wouldn't Be the Same (Without You)
By Lizabeth S. Tucker
Judge Milton C. Hardcastle looked down the steep hill and had to bite his lip to keep from crying out. He could see Mark McCormick's body, lying where the crooks had thrown him after shooting him in the lower left quadrant of his torso. His eyes were open, but unfocused, and the Judge couldn't tell if he was alive or not. Hardcastle went down the hill, his heart thumping hard in his chest, his emotions demanding to be released.
"Not yet," he mumbled to himself. He reached McCormick's side and winced at the blood stain on the man's shirt. Mark had been bleeding the whole night, dirt and decaying leaves were all over him, probably in the wound as well. There was a gash on his head from the fall down the Cliffside, caused by the rocks which were all around. Kneeling by Mark's body, Hardcastle saw the eyes focus, turning toward him.
"Whattookyousolong?" McCormick breathed out in a rush, his blue eyes blurring before passing out.
Hardcastle couldn't move, kneeling next to the man he hadn't expected to see alive again. The chest was barely moving, shallow breaths that didn't seem enough for him to exist on.
"Milt! Is he…" Millie Denton's voice came from the roadside, thick with worry.
"He's alive! Get an ambulance, hurry!" Hardcastle called up the hill to the psychic/housekeeper, hearing the break in his voice, but beyond worrying who might find out how much he cared for the ex-con.
There was a screech of brakes and Hardcastle saw Lieutenant Frank Harper stumbling down the hill. "Milt, is it Mark?"
"Yeah. He's bad, Frank. We need an ambulance and fast."
"Already called for one. I had a feeling we'd need it for you the way you were driving after we caught Wendell Price." Frank reached the two men, his face blanching at the sight of Mark lying in the dead brush. He reached out and felt for McCormick's pulse in his neck. "He was so still…I'm surprised he's still with us, Milt." Harper laid his hand on Hardcastle's shoulder, his eyes on the Judge's stricken face. "I wouldn't get my hopes up, if I were you. Exposure is a debilitating part of a wound like this."
"He hung on this long, waiting for me to find him, he'll stay with us a while longer. Finally Hardcastle's cold shell broke and he clutched at Mark's hand, feeling the coolness of the skin in fear. "Damn him, he can't die!"
They stayed that way until the ambulance arrived, Mark lying unconscious on the ground, Hardcastle holding fast to his left hand, Frank watching and waiting for the situation to change for the worse, Millie up above them, praying that everything would be all right.
The attendants slipped down the steep hill, holding the stretcher between them, their equipment sitting on top of it. Hardcastle moved to Mark's other side, not releasing the man's hand, forcing the paramedics to work around him. A quick shake of the head by Harper warned them not to say anything, the E.M.T.'s doing what they could to secure Mark to the stretcher, Hardcastle hanging on for dear life.
With the difficult climb behind them, McCormick's eyes fluttered open for a second, landing on the worried face of the Judge. With a tiny smile, Mark squeezed the fingers wrapped around his, then faded back into oblivion.
In the back of the ambulance, Hardcastle remembered Millie and the GMC. Holding the door open, he looked at Mark and then at Millie. "Can you drive?"
"Don't worry about me, Milt, go take care of your son," the woman, a smile on her lips, replied.
"Milt, I'll look after her, you go with Mark," Frnak said, before slamming the ambulance door shut.
The drive to the hospital was a blur in Hardcastle's memory, his eyes searching for signs of life in his friend's face, but all he saw were slack, blood-covered features. Hardcastle watched as the female attendant worked on the wound, packing it to stop the slow flow of blood easing out.
"Will he make it?"
She looked at Hardcastle and frowned. "I don't know. The doctors will have to tell you that. Is he your son?"
"No. Sorta. He's a close friend." Hardcastle wasn't used to explaining what McCormick's position in his life was. With a small part of his mind, he had always wondered what his old friends thought when the ex-con was introduced merely as Mark McCormick, with no explanation of his status at Gulls-Way. Hardcastle brushed his free hand across McCormick's forehead. "It's my fault, kiddo. I should've listened to Millie. You believed her, why couldn't I?"
Hardcastle shook his head. "Nothing. Just keep him alive, please?"
Her smile was sincere and Hardcastle knew that McCormick was in good hands. "I'll do my best. He's fighting, too. How long was he out there, do you know?"
"I'm not sure. Over twelve hours at least."
"Lucky the rains had stopped, getting drenched wouldn't have helped any."
"No, I guess not." Hardcastle hunched over Mark's body, willing his friend to live.
They arrived at the hospital with a shrill wail of the siren and the doors popping open to show the waiting emergency room personnel. Hardcastle tried to keep up with the stretcher, but was waylaid by the admitting clerk.
"I'm sorry, sir, but you can't go with them. And I need some information for the paperwork. Sir?" The woman pulled at Hardcastle's arm, preventing him from forcibly moving through the swinging doors that separated him from McCormick. "Sir, please."
He shook himself and gave in, walking back to the main desk with the woman, her white shoes squeaking on the polished floor. "Yeah, sure. I want him to have whatever he needs, whoever the best is, I want on Mark's case, understand?"
"Don't worry, sir, he'll be taken care of. Could you answer some questions for me?"
"Yeah, fine, whatever you want." Hardcastle sat at the window while the white-clad woman went on the other side.
"What's the name of the patient?"
"McCormick. Mark McCormick."
"Mac or Mc?"
"1 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu."
"Uh, 32. He's 32 years old."
"Are you a relative?"
"No, legal guardian. Sorta. How long before they come out of there and tell me something?"
"I don't know, sir," she replied gently. "They'll come out as soon as they can."
"Is Mr. McCormick allergic to any medications?"
"I don't know. I don't think so. County General should be able to access his records with the Parole Department, there should be a medical file on him there. As far as I know, he isn't allergic to anything, but I'm not sure."
"Parole? He's a criminal?"
"No, he's…is any of this necessary? I mean, it doesn't affect his condition or how he's taken care of, does it?"
"No, of course not. I'm sorry. Does Mr. McCormick have any medical insurance?"
"No, but it doesn't matter, I'll take care of any bills." Hardcastle keep looking at the forbidden doors, waiting for a doctor to leave, someone he could grab and get information from.
"We'll need a deposit of $500 against any bills incurred."
This got Hardcastle's attention. "A what?"
The woman looked up. "A deposit is required when the patient doesn't have medical insurance. It's kinda like a security deposit."
"I'll write a check," Hardcastle replied, annoyed.
"Cash or charge only." Relenting slightly, the woman smiled. "I'm sorry, sir, but hospitals are run like businesses now. They don't trust checks. We do accept all major credit cards: Mastercard, VISA or American Express, if you have them."
Fumbling for his wallet, Hardcastle pulled out his charge card and slammed it down on the counter. "Here. You'll find my credit card more than sufficient to cover McCormick's medical expenses."
There was a crash and Hardcastle saw a gurney pushed out of the room, Mark lying on it and an IV attached to his left arm, the right one strapped to his side. The attendants were in a hurry, followed by a doctor holding a clipboard under his arm.
"Hey, what's going on?" The Judge ran after them, ignoring the clerk's call to stop.
The doctor slowed, allowing Hardcastle to catch up, waving the gurney on. "Hello, I'm Doctor Taylor. I'm going to do the operation on Mr. McCormick. If you'll excuse me, I'll be back to talk to you after I'm done."
"Operation? Now? Doc, is he bad?"
The doctor sobered. "He's not good. Lost a lot of blood and the bullet is in a bad location. Look, I need to go take care of him. I'll meet you in the waiting room as soon as I'm done."
Hardcastle paced back and forth in the surgery waiting room, glancing at the clock before downing another cup of coffee. Mark was still in surgery and Hardcastle was on pins and needles waiting for a word on his condition. It had been more than an hour since Hardcastle had watched the hospital people wheeling McCormick away from him, to be put in the hands of a stranger who had control of his life.
The Judge thought back on the events that had led to Mark's present location. Grumbling about dish-pan hands, Mark had hired a housekeeper with his meager earnings, Millie Denton, the widow of one of his old cellmates. Only Millie had a surprise in store for them: she was a psychic and had 'seen' Mark's death.
Despite McCormick's belief in what Mille had told him, the younger man had gone along with the Judge to the party at Dex Falcon's place, stung somewhat by Hardcastle's disbelief and ridicule at anyone falling for a sideshow routine, even if it did come from a nice lady like Millie.
While at the party, searching for evidence that would prove that the famous star and his manager, Wendell Price, had had Hardcastle's old friend killed, McCormick had been lured to the pool house and shot, his body dumped off the cliff at Kelly's Curve, leaving him to die.
Hardcastle has gone crazy when he saw the puddle of blood on the pool house floor, attacking Falcon, then desperately tried to convince Harper that Mark was in danger. Returning to the estate on the off-chance that McCormick might have gone home without telling anyone, Hardcastle had found a note from Millie apologizing for leaving, but unable to watch Mark die. Hardcastle had dragged her from her self-imposed exile and forced her to help him find the injured man. Millie kept saying that Mark was dead and Hardcastle had replied with anger, and a considerable amount of terror, that the kid was merely missing, not dead.
It was all he had to hold on to, for it the Judge had ever believed it to be true, his world would've crashed around him like the coast during a rain storm. Then his prayers were answered. He found McCormick still alive, but not all that well. Was God playing a trick on him? Would he lose the kid now after finding him?
A hand on his shoulder drew Hardcastle's attention back to where he was and he looked up to find the doctor standing by him. Hardcastle jumped up, the room weaving a bit. "How is he? Did he make it?" Hardcastle asked when things had settled down.
"He made it through surgery, but it'll be a while before we know whether he'll live and if he does, whether he'll be back to normal. Mr. McCormick is a very active man, I gather?"
"Yeah, he is. Why don't you know now?"
"Sit down, Judge Hardcastle." At the Judge's surprised look, Dr. Taylor smiled. "Yes, I know who you are. When a patient is accompanied by a retired jurist and an order from the police to prepare for a bad case, as if he was a cop, we tend to find out who's who pretty fast." When Hardcastle was finally seated, the doctor settled next to him with a weary sigh. "Your young friend is in good shape, but loss of blood and exposure weakened him considerably. The operation took a lot out of him. He's a strong man, but only time will tell whether he has enough strength to make it, if he has the will to live."
Hardcastle slumped in the chair, dropping his head in his hands with a shuddery breath. A moment of regrouping and he stared at the doctor in determined Hardcastle style. "He'll live, he'll make it. McCormick's a survivor. He's gone through more than anyone could expect to experience in one lifetime and he always comes out on top. This won't be any different. It can't be." The Judge's confident manner slipped for a second and his true emotions surfaced. "I lost one son already, I can't lose him, too. I need him, doc, he can't die."
"Would you like to stay with him? Not in the room, of course. Not until he's moved out of Intensive Care, but I think you qualify as a relative in the best sense of the word." Dr. Taylor rubbed his hands over his eyes.
"Can I? How? You said not in the room."
"Our intensive care unit is partially windowed where the family can watch the patient. That's where we have Mr. McCormick, so you can come see him whenever you like."
"I'll be there until you give him the all clear. Count on it," Hardcastle assured him, shaking the doctor's hand. "Thank you."
Hardcastle leaned against the window, watching the gentle rise and fall of Mark's chest with relief. He hated to leave his spot for a second, but the call of nature, unlike the call of his stomach, was not to be ignored. Millie was dozing in the other chair, back against the wall where it belonged. Hardcastle had moved his closer to the observation window to see McCormick better. It had been two days and Mark still hadn't regained consciousness beyond some faint mumbling and moans of pain when he tried to toss and turn in his pseudo-sleep.
Dr. Taylor wasn't concerned, explaining that since McCormick had struggled so hard to stay conscious and alert on the hill, he was overly exhausted and was catching up in order to marshal his strength for his fight back to health. It sounded good to Hardcastle, but didn't do much for the Judge's state of mind when he sat, separated from McCormick physically, watching the flashes of pain that swept the younger man's face, the shudders and tremors coursing through his body.
McCormick's vital signs were stabilizing. Taylor was planning on moving his patient to a private room where the Judge would be able to sit with him. Millie had fussed about the Judge's vigil, but he couldn't leave until Mark opened his eyes once more. Not until the younger man grumbled about his present situation and whined about anything like he used to.
The Judge rested his forehead on the cool glass, his eyes missing nothing as McCormick was washed by the nursing assistant, then his sheets changed by the orderlies. The movement caused a slight reaction on McCormick's part, a twitch of the head that caught Hardcastle's attention, but it didn't go any further. Taylor insisted that Hardcastle shouldn't worry, but fear and anger at himself for letting McCormick get shot on top of the utter exhaustion from his watch was making the slightest thing tie the Judge's stomach up in knots. If he wasn't careful, he'd wind up with an ulcer.
"Come on, kiddo, open your eyes and start bitching," Hardcastle murmured.
Millie unwrapped a package that included a chicken sandwich and a thermos of lemonade. She pushed it into Hardcastle's hands, glaring at him in mock anger. "Eat. You won't do anything for Mark if you're in the bed next to him."
Hardcastle smiled up at the lady who had brought Mark back to him, forcing himself to eat the food. Mark was in his private room and still sleeping, his few moments awake more disoriented than lucid. Admittedly, McCormick was able to sleep for longer periods of time than anyone the Judge could remember meeting, but this was ridiculous.
"Millie, go home. You don't have to stay here," Hardcastle ordered.
"You are. Judge, you need sleep. I'll stay with Mark, why don't you go back to the estate and at least take a nap," Millie countered, pouring a cup of lemonade for him.
"Not yet. Maybe later. I've caught some sleep in the chair."
"You didn't even close your eyes until that Doctor Taylor told you that Mark would make it. He'll be fine and you need your rest."
Hardcastle sipped at the cold drink, his pale blue eyes on Mark's face as always. Millie gave up, leaving the Judge alone to his watch. When there was no one else in the room to see, Hardcastle laid his cup down on the nightstand and ran his hand slowly across Mark's brow, brushing the hair off the man's forehead. He laid his hands over those expressive eyes, now closed. He could feel the tips of those long eyelashes against his palm and sighed.
"Damn it, kid, it's been three days. Open your eyes, come back to me."
Hardcastle felt a movement, a tickling against his palm and removed his hand to see blankly staring deep blue eyes looking at the ceiling. Life slowly slipped into the orbs, and a smile began to spread across the ex-con's face.
"Hi," McCormick croaked, still in a sleep fog.
"Well, it's about time."
"Unless you think I'm some kind of angel."
"Not hardly. Water?" Mark's voice was hoarse, harsh.
Hardcastle spooned some chipped ice in Mark's mouth, the man savoring it. With moisture in his mouth and throat, McCormick tried to speak again. "Thought I was in the other place. After all, I was bein' punished on earth with you, why change it after I'm dead?"
"Cute, McCormick." When Hardcastle saw the sloppy smile fading as the eyes closed, he reached for McCormick's hand. "Not going back to sleep, are you?"
"Nah, just resting my eyes, if you don't mind." Mark sighed, looked up at Hardcastle with a stern glare. "Go home, Judge, you look like hell. I need my rest and you aren't helping any by fawning over me. I keep thinking I'll wake up and you'll be reading another file folder."
"What are you talking about? This is the first time you've been awake in three days. I haven't been here that long," Hardcastle protested.
"Oh, yeah? I bet." Mark looked at the contraption holding his right arm in place, puzzled. "What's this? I break, something?"
"Yeah, when they threw you down the cliff, you twisted it badly and there's a hairline fracture. You also have a concussion and, of course, your gunshot wound. Other than that, you're in pretty good shape."
With a tired smirk, Mark nodded. "Go home. Wanna sleep."
"Okay, kiddo. I'll see you later," Hardcastle said, patting him on the shoulder.
Hardcastle grinned, relieved at last. He stretched and moved out the door. He saw Dr. Taylor at the end of the hallway, talking to one of the nurses and went to let him know that McCormick was finally awake. Then it was home for some much needed rest and to let Millie know that all was right in the world.
"Dr. Taylor, he's awake."
Taylor nodded. "Figured he'd decide to join the world soon. That's good, that means he'll be ready to go home before the end of the month."
"Yes, I think so. Of course, he'll be very weak and I'll be giving you a list of instructions for you to follow in regards to seeing his own physician, naps to keep him from tiring himself out, medication to take, things like that. I must say he's done well to come out of this fairly whole. He must've been born under a lucky star."
Hardcastle laughed, agreeing. "I don't know how, but he manages to get into more trouble than any ten other men and always slips through with only a scratch or two."
"It was considerably more than a scratch this time, Judge Hardcastle. Be sure to tell him to slow down. It'll be a while before he's back to full strength."
"I will. Thank you again, Doctor. Thank you very much." Hardcastle shook the man's hand before heading for the parking lot and the truck. He was going to take a much deserved sleep.
McCormick was home, weaker than he had seemed while in the hospital, but home nonetheless. Hardcastle had made up the spare room near his in the main house, having been told by Dr. Taylor that he would need some looking after at first. He might drift into a mild form of delirium form the excitement, but that he shouldn't worry.
That was easier to say than do, but the Judge was doing the best he could not to hover over the injured man. He walked into McCormick's room to see if he had taken his medicine. Mark was dozing, the bandage on his forehead catching the light of the afternoon sun and reflecting it back as a bright white flash. The Judge turned to leave, but stopped when his name was called.
"I thought you were asleep, kiddo," he said to McCormick, then saw that he was still out, talking in his sleep.
"Judge, help me." McCormick's face contorted in pain, the sheen of sweat outlining his features.
Hardcastle sat down on the edge of the bed. "I'm here, kid, I'm here."
"Oh, God, it hurts. I'm gonna die!"
"No, you're not. You're safe, nothing's gonna happen to you."
Mark flung his head back and forth on the pillow. "I hadda stop them. I hadda."
"Stop them? Why?"
"I had to stop them, they were gonna kill the Judge. They were waitin' for him, couldn't take the chance…" Mark's eyes flew open. "Can't! No, don't! Oh, God, it hurts, it hurts," he whimpered. "Oh, don't come, Judge, please." Mark jerked upright, drenched. Looking around, McCormick panted as sleep receded and he knew there had been another nightmare.
"Better? You're at Gulls-Way, you're safe and at home," Hardcastle reassured him, straightening the sheets as Mark collapsed back against the pillows.
"Wow. Thought I was still on the side of the hill, waiting for y-…someone to find me. Did I cry out?" Mark asked, peering at the Judge in embarrassment.
"No, I just thought I'd see if you took your pills. Have you?"
McCormick shook his head. "No. Hard to remember when you're asleep. Give 'em to me now."
Hardcastle nodded, dropping the multi-colored tablets into the other man's hand. "The sooner you get better, the sooner the lawn will be cut."
Mark threw the pills into his mouth, gulping water from the glass sitting on the nightstand. "Yuck, warm water." He looked at Hardcastle, his head cocked to one side. "It's nice to know I was missed."
"Hmm, the doctor wants you to get some fresh air, a little sun. I'll set the lawn chair out on the patio and you can catch the early morning sun until you're back to normal, okay?"
"Yeah, my tan's fading." Mark smiled, his dimples peeking through the too-long hair that curled softly around his face. "I knew you'd come," he murmured softly.
"Oh, you did, did you?" Hardcastle answered with a wry smile. "Turning psychic on me?"
Mark ducked his head, but not soon enough to hide the faint flush on his cheeks. "I just knew it. You couldn't get along without me, Hardcase, admit it."
"I'd probably get along just fine, thank you." Hardcastle covered McCormick up with the quilt, turning the night light out and pulling the shades down to keep the sun out. Admonishing the weary patient to go back to sleep, Hardcastle went to the door leading to the main hall. He looked back at the already dozing McCormick and his face relaxed. "But it wouldn't be the same. Not by a long shot."
The Tag follows
A/N: Originally printed in Zines My Father Sold Me in 1985. Any medical mistakes are mine alone. The internet was available to me in those days to research.