Author's Rambling

                  Sorry it's taken so long to update.  If you must know, I had end-of-year papers and exams, then a summer job, plus other stuff.  Oh, and don't forget that cursed writer's block.  But my muse has returned.  Even though it's been months since I've updated, I'm following the Blue formula – the action takes place the next day.

Previously on NYPD Blue:

[John and Andy in John's hospital room.]

                  "Have you told anyone?" he inquired.  "Who knows about your condition?"

                  "Me, my oncologist, and now you."

                  "You mean to tell me you been keeping this to yourself this whole time?"  No answer.  "Ah, John."

                  "I gotta … I got to take care of myself, don't need people worrying about me."

                  "You can't handle this alone, John."

Chapter Seven: Life Goes On

Bellevue Hospital

Friday, December 5, 2003

7:45 am

Detective John Clark, Jr. blinked and willed the unfamiliar surroundings to come into focus.  This wasn't his bed.  This wasn't his apartment.  And these sure as hell weren't the sweatpants he usually wore to sleep.

             "He's still sleeping," he heard a scratchy female voice say.  Need another cigarette, lady?

             "I figured," a familiar voice responded.  "My shift starts in fifteen minutes.  I just wanted to check up on him."  Who are you people?  What are you doing in my apartment?  He tried to sit up, but something had his arm tethered to the bed.  No, Clark, you're not in your apartment.  You've been kidnapped.  He shook his head.  No, that ain't right.  He rubbed the remaining sleep out of his eyes.

             "Well, well, well, look who decided to join the land of the living."  He observed the stranger.  Light green scrubs were stretched over approximately a 43DD chest.  Cropped red hair was peppered with gray at the temples and wrinkle lines dotted her eyes and mouth. 

             "Ain't dead," he mumbled.  He hugged the pillow.  The woman approached the bed and bent down to adjust something.  When she stood back up, he looked at the tag on her scrubs.  Chistine McMurphy, R.N. was written in bold above the Bellevue Hospital logo.  I'm in a hospital?

             "Would you like some breakfast?" Nurse McMurphy asked.

             John shook his head.  He rolled over and saw the portly man sitting on the cheap plastic orange chair.  The man looked to be about early to mid-fifties.  He was wearing a long beige jacket with an NYPD shield on the right side.  "Hey."  He gave the man a half-wave and attempted to place a name with the familiar face and voice.

             "You get a good night's sleep?" the detective inquired.

             "Yeah.  Sure."  His eyes followed Nurse McMurphy until the curtain next to him obscured her from view.  He heard the detective say something, but couldn't quite catch it.  He turned around and faced him.  "Hmm?"  Give me a minute.  I'll figure out who you are. 

             "You okay, kid?"  The man looked genuinely worried.

             The events of the previous day slowly came into focus.  You collapsed … hospital … Andy knows everything … you cried in front of Andy.  If there was one thing he couldn't stand, it was people witnessing his vulnerable side.  And Andy Sipowicz had seen that part of him on more than one occasion.  "Don't worry, I'm fine," he assured his partner.  "Don't you have to be at work?" 

             "I can afford to be five minutes late," Andy said.  "You sure you're okay?"

             John sat up, leaning against the pillows for support.  "Yes.  I'm not much of a morning person," he quickly explained.

             "That's expected.  You're in a strange place.  I felt the same way when I was in the hospital." 

             "When you got shot?"

             "And after my prostate surgery," Andy added.  "I had cancer there about five years back."

             "Sorry to hear that."

             "Doctor say when you can leave?"

             "He wants to keep me over the weekend.  Get me re-hydrated or something.  Any leads on the case?"

             "D.O.A. fitting the same M.O. as Meredith Crandall and Lois Ewing was found over in Brooklyn," the senior detective said.  "We're collaborating with the Brooklyn S.V.U."

             "Don't you have a friend there or something?"

             "Diane Russell.  She transferred out of the 15th a few months before you came."

             "She must've known I was coming and ran."  He grinned.

             Andy grinned back.  "No.  Sorry to disappoint you, kid."

             "Must be nice working with her again."

             "Don't worry, you'll meet her when …" Andy's pager interrupted the conversation.  He fished it out of his pocket.  "911," he informed his partner.  "I gotta answer this."  The younger man nodded wordlessly and watched him dial the familiar numbers of the 15th Precinct Detective Squad.  "Sipowicz," he told the person on the other end.  A few seconds of silence, then an "Uh huh."  Andy grabbed a pen and notepad off the small table and jotted down street coordinates over the Bellevue Hospital logo.  "Be right there," he said before hanging up the phone.  He turned to his partner.  "I have to go."

             "Help me get these things out of me and I'll join you," the junior detective said, trying to yank the tubes and needles out of his arm.  I want to blow this joint.

             Andy grabbed his partner's arms and pushed him against the bed.  "Don't even think about it," he warned.  "Get some rest.  I'll keep you posted."

             John sighed, resigned.  "Yeah, yeah."

             "Yeah yourself.  I'll come by a little later," Andy assured him.  "Try not to give the doctors and nurses any trouble." 

             "Damn!"  John complained.  "You're taking away all my fun."  Silence.  Then: "Take care of yourself, man."

             Andy patted him on the shoulder.  "Yeah, you too, kid."

* * *

David Fowler III Apartment

Friday, December 5, 2003

8:08 am

             "Whaddawe got?" Detective Sipowicz asked the uniform cop.

             "Fifty-nine-year-old David Fowler III.  Found on his kitchen floor.  Bullet to the back of the neck."  He pulled back the yellow sheet to allow the detective a glimpse of New York's latest D.O.A.

             Andy stepped around the bloodstains on the linoleum.  "Who found him?"

             "His son Lewis."  The officer motioned toward a thirty-something-year-old man sitting cross-legged on the living room floor biting his fingernails.  He lowered his voice.  "Ain't too bright, if ya know what I mean."

             The detective ignored him and walked over to the victim's son.  "Lewis Fowler?"  He showed him his badge.  "Detective Sipowicz from the 15th Precinct."

             "Dad's sick."  He didn't bother looking up.

             Andy knelt down next to the man.  "I'm sorry for your loss, Mr. Fowler.  Can you tell me what happened?"

             "Dad's sick," Lewis repeated.  He looked at the detective.  "He's gotta go to the hospital so the doctors can make him better."  Ain't too bright?  That's the understatement of the year.

             "Lewis, do you know anyone that might want to hurt your father?  Anybody he wasn't getting along with?"

             Lewis clenched and unclenched his fist.  "I don't know.  Was Dad bad?  Is that why the police are here?"

             Andy shook his head.  "No, your father wasn't bad.  The person who killed him was.  We just want to find out who that was."

             "I saw this show where this guy dies and they bring him back to life.  You're gonna do that, right?"

             He didn't answer.  "If you think of anything, here's our card."

             "I'll give it to Mayna," Lewis said.

             "Who's Mayna?"

             "Mayna's my friend.  I don't read that good.  She helps me."

             "Does Mayna have a number where we can reach her?"

             "She's outside."

             "Outside?"

             Lewis nodded.

             Andy thanked him and headed toward the canvassing detectives.  "Anything?"

             Detective Baldwin Jones was the first to reply.  "Nine millimeter slug.  On its way to Ballistics.  How's John?"

             Half asleep when I got there.  "I got him flirting with the hospital staff."  The kid had him worried.  He couldn't be quite sure, but it seemed as if his young partner hadn't recognized him at first.  He wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar people, he reminded himself.  You'd freak out, too, if you were him.  He noticed that Clark was conveniently trying to forget his breakdown the day before.  There's way too much going on for this kid.  "Should be able to go home in a few days."

             "Uh, Andy?"

             Andy didn't bother turning to face the bumbling Irish detective.  "What is it, Medavoy?"

"I … I umm was th-thinking maybe … asking …. Maybe we could pitch in to help Clark with his medical bills," Medavoy stammered.  "I don't think he …"

             Andy patted the other senior detective on the shoulder.  "Yeah, that would be good."

             Greg looked up and shook his head.  "I don't get why he didn't say nothing.  How could he keep this to himself?"

             That's what I want to know.  That's what everyone wants to know. 

* * *

Central Park Ice-Skating Rink

Saturday, December 13, 2003

1:39 pm

             Theo grabbed his stepmother's hand and pulled her toward the rink.  "Come on, Connie."

             "One minute, Theo."  Detective Connie McDowell finished buttoning her one-year-old niece's pale blue jacket and handed her to her husband.  Andy took the baby and bounced her on his knee.

             "You're not coming, Daddy?"

             His father shook his head.  "Michelle and I are gonna watch from here."

             The redheaded boy tried not to look too disappointed.  "I can't handle all these girls by myself."

             "Enjoy it.  When you're old enough to appreciate women, they might not want to …"

             "Girls suck," Theo informed his father.  His nine-year-old niece glared at him.  "Not you, Jazzy," he quickly amended.  He whistled.  "Hoo boy, you should see some of the girls in my class."  If they ain't goody-two-shoes they got big mouths and if they ain't got big mouths, they got cooties.  Jasmyn made a gesture.  Theo rolled his eyes in response.

             "What's that supposed to mean?" Detective Diane Russell inquired.

             Theo grinned.  "She's saying 'I love you'."

             "Bull.  What's it mean?" Andy pressed. 

             The two children exchanged a glance.  Jasmyn nodded, dejected, and prodded Theo to speak.  "It means 'Fuck you and your mother, too'."

             "Where'd you learn something like that?" Connie asked before his father could open his mouth.

             "New York City Public Education System," Jasmyn announced.  Theo bit his lip to keep from giggling.  "We're scholars in the making," she added under her breath.

             Theo enjoyed spending time Diane.  She was Daddy and Connie's friend and one of the Sipowicz men's "extended family."  According to the adults, Diane helped keep baby Michelle from being taken away.  He didn't want to know what would have happened if they had lost her (not that the adults would tell him, anyways).  "Can we go skating now?" he begged.

             Diane crossed her arms over her chest.  "I thought you said you didn't like 'girls'," she reminded him.

             "Aw, c'mon, Diane.  You're not really girls."

             "Oh, no?" Connie asked.

             Theo wobbled over to the rink.  "Grownups don't count."

             "Wait for us," his stepmother instructed.  The seven-year-old held onto the side and waited for the rest of the group.  He grabbed Connie's hand and pulled her into the ice-skating rink.  Diane and Jasmyn skated in the opposite direction.

             "This has been a very big year for you, hasn't it?" Connie observed once the others were out of earshot.  He shrugged and kept his attention on not slipping on the ice.  She continued.  "New apartment … a new stepmother … a new sister … two new sisters," she added.  Technically, Jasmyn was his niece, but Connie was right – their relationship was more brother-sister than uncle-niece.

             "I like having Jasmyn around," he assured his stepmom.  "And you and Michelle, too."

             "How are you handling all these changes?"

             "I dunno.  It's not quiet no more."  Except when Daddy and Jazzy yell at each other.  "How come Daddy and Jazzy hate each other?" He couldn't tell who was more shocked – Connie at hearing the question or himself for blurting it out.

             "They don't 'hate' each other," she said.  "They both are so much alike, and when you have two people who act the same, they fight."

             "Oh."  He shook his hands to make sure they weren't going to freeze off his arms.  "So you guys aren't sending Jasmyn back to the foster home."  He felt bad spilling her secret – she knew it was just a matter of time – but he had to know for himself.

             Connie squeezed his hand.  "No, honey, no one's sending her away.  She's not going anywhere."

             He weaved past another skater.  "Someone tell Jazzy that."