A/N: Y'all know how I like to explore the Father/Son side to Pride and LaSalle's relationship. So, this is a tag to Sic Semper Tyrranis. This takes place immediately following the scene where Pride introduces everyone to the bar.
Chris LaSalle never thought he'd be slowly drowning in a pool in his blood caused by a bullet fired by his best friend. Oh Pride's actions had come with good intentions when he fired the high powered round into the younger agent's Kevlar to warn them that they were about be ambushed by Zed's servants. But unfortunately the consequences were now proving to be just as life threatening.
Adrenaline and concern for Pride had made LaSalle; stave off the EMS when they had arrived on the scene, unwittingly inviting pulmonary distress brought on by the excess pressure placed on his chest by the bullet. Well it hadn't really been the bullet as much as it had been Chris trying to clear away some rather heavy debris from the back of Pride's new bar, had caused the pressure to increase.
"Ya ok, Christopher?"
Chris never quite understood why Pride insisted on calling him by his given name, other than the older man meant it as a term of endearment (sort of like when he called him Son). The only other person in the world that ever called him Christopher was his mother and those times were few and far between.
It was something that had started way back, when Chris was still a detective with NOPD or maybe when he'd moved up to Vice he couldn't recall exactly at the moment. He was too busy trying to breathe.
"I'm good, just a little short of breath of is all." What came out was a sick sounding wheeze. He hunched over, placing his hands on his knees, taking in laboring pain filled breaths.
The senior agent, frowned, wrapping his arm around Chris' bicep, recognizing the warning signs. "C'mon let's get ya to hospital. If we're lucky, we can catch up to Loretta." She would ensure that LaSalle was seen and treated quickly, no stone unturned.
Stubbornly, Chris shook his head. "Nah, King, I tol' ya, I'm good. Besides, I gotta hot date." A banker lady he'd met a few nights ago at one of the classier pubs in town.
"The only hot date you've got is with the emergency room." Pride had to admit, he'd never stopped to think about the consequences when he shot at the younger agent. His only thought had been was to deter Chris and Brody from harm's way. He'd figured a bullet into a Kevlar vest, beat one to the forehead.
"Now, no arguin'."
He always heard how people tended to underestimate the damage that could still done by a bullet deflected by Kevlar, broken ribs, perorated abdomen, any number of things. Pride suspected that Chris had managed to puncture a lung, a delayed reaction somehow. But how? He shuddered to think that it might also be something to do with his heart. Even under Kevlar there could still be damage to the cardiac muscle and surrounding tissue. Any fool who had ever read the manual knew that.
He hadn't been aiming for Chris' heart, in fact he'd hoped the bullet would have hit the agent in lower side of his abdomen. But the movement of the boat and a sense of urgency had caused his exact aim to be off.
"King, this isn't necessary," LaSalle grimaced as he slid into the passenger's seat of Pride's classic baby-blue Cadillac. Why was it suddenly so difficult to breathe when he'd gone all afternoon, willing away the ache and pain of the massive purple and red contusion from where the bullet had struck the Kevlar. One would have thought if he would have punctured a lung or something that he would have noticed it right away, not eight hours later.
Ok, so maybe it was worth having somebody take a real look at it, rather than letting the EMS guy press on it through his t-shirt. He had been pretty reluctant to remove his Kevlar so the paramedic could actually look at it.
The waiting room at University Hospital was packed beyond capacity. A bus, carrying a group of tourist had collided with Semi putting every hospital in the area on alert. From the looks of things they were going to have a long wait.
"Excuse me, my agent over here was shot earlier today and he's having trouble breathin'"
The portly nurse behind the counter looked at Pride like he was idiot, rolling her eyes. Ironically, she strongly resembled the actress, Octavia Spencer, hair pulled severely back, big dark eyes, non-verbal gestures and all.
"Shot? An' yer jus' now bringin' him in?" But then again this was the Big Easy. After twenty years, nothing surprised the woman.
"It's a long story," Pride answered, a sprint of heat running of his neck as he realized at some point, he and Chris would have to explain to the attending how the bullet wound came about.
"Oh, it always is." The woman retorted, snide as can be. "Bring him on back to triage and we'll have someone take a look at him."
Pride stood in the doorway as the triage nurse pressed a stethoscope over the fabric of Chris' black Henley and then took the rest of his vital signs. The R.N. treating Chris was a pretty a little thing sort of reminded him of Laurel, long dark brown hair and chestnut colored eyes.
"I do hear some rattling in there. So we're going to send you on back." She smiled at Chris.
"Top of the line privileges, I like that," he quipped in his natural flirty way that made most women turn into melted butter. "I'll just have to thank ya later." Chris winked and the woman started to blush furiously, causing Pride to roll his eyes.
"His date will thank you too." Pride said, making the nurse scoff with disgust.
Chris cut his eyes sharply at his best friend and mentor after she left to go see about a room. "Now wh'd ya do that for King?"
"We aren't here so you can't pick up women." Lord knows, LaSalle had done plenty of that since Savannah died almost to point where the agent felt he needed to step in and say something to his younger friend. But everyone dealt with grief in their own way so he would remain silent for now.
"You could take a lesson from me, King." Chris teased glancing across the across the hall at late forty something woman dressed in dark blue scrubs. "That lady over there, she looks like she could just be your type."
"And what type would that be Christopher?"
"I'm not lonely"
"C'mon now, ya miss bein' married don't ya?"
"That's why ya bought the bar, so ya don't haf'ta go home at night. It gives ya something to do."
Pride cocked his head reading into Chris' words. It sounded to him as if his young friend were speaking more of himself. Now he wouldn't say that LaSalle was wrong about the fact that he missed being married, that much was true, but the other…
Well, maybe his surrogate son was right about that too.
The older man had not realized until just this minute how similar their situations had become different reasons, but the same outcome. They were both currently grieving, Pride for his broken marriage and Chris for Savannah.
"Ya goin' through a midlife crisis King?"
"You just wait. Yer turn's comin." Pride could only shake his head at LaSalle's infectious grin.
"When I get to that point-" Chris closed his eyes at the crushing pain up that had gathered up in his chest, making it hard to breathe again. He tried as hard as hell to mask his expression of pain but the hinge in his voice gave him away. The pain was coming in short intense burning waves now.
"Chris?" Pride poked his head out from cubical, shouting, "Can we get a doctor in here?"
"King, it's nuthin' probably just indigestion"
Pride tossed his young friend a doubtful look as a man in dark scrubs with greying hair and stethoscope wrapped around his neck breezed past him to get to Chris.
"What's the problem?"
"He has chest pains, can't breathe," Pride answered before Chris had the chance.
"When did this start?"
Chris opened his mouth to speak but it was Pride's voice that came out- "Right after I shot him probably, but he's been too wrapped up with me, to come in until now." It was no secret, that the young agent was more loyal to the man than a well trained bloodhound and would gladly lay his own life down if and when the situation called for it. Pride kicked himself now for not just bumping into the shooter and causing him to misfire, rather than choosing to take a shot at Chris.
The doctor looked over his shoulder cutting his eyes at the older man. Obviously, he preferred that his patient answered the questions.
"But in my defense he was wearing Kevlar," Pride added.
"We're Federal Agents" Chris explained. "He had no choice. You see there was this other guy with a gun an I was in the boat with Brody-"
"Never mind," the doctor droned cutting the agent off as if he'd heard the story a thousand times. He then directed Chris to remove his shirt so that he could examine the angry looking contusion. "I'm going to send you upstairs for an MRI and X-rays, hook you up to a heart monitor. At best you'll be spending the night. Maybe a couple of days depending on what we find."
LaSalle's brow furrowed. A couple of days would give him too much time to dwell upon things that he didn't want to dwell on, haunting images, feelings of guilt, issues he didn't want to address. Staying still was the one thing he couldn't handle right now. Suddenly going idle with nothing to do would kill him.
"I ain't staying that long." He retorted, after the doctor left earning a steeled glance from the man who had put him here.
"You will stay as long as he tells you to. Is that understood?"
"You should listen to your father," A middle aged nurse appeared, with an IV in hand. "He knows what's best."
Father knows best? LaSalle automatically chuckled as Pride's face reddened prompting him to rub the back of neck. This wasn't the first time in their eleven year relationship that someone had mistaken him for Chris' father. In fact, it happened quite often when Pride still had a full head of brown hair.
"Yes, ma'am he usually does." Silence filled the room as Pride watched the woman secure an IV line into the back of Chris' left hand, in preparation for the specially colored dye they would use during the MRI to light up various parts of his heart making it easy to detect any signs of damage.
"This is going to take a while," the nurse smiled at Pride. "Why don't you go downstairs, get a cup of coffee? Try to relax?" Even to a stranger, the apprehension on the older man's face was clear.
The 127 minutes that it took for the technician to perform the MRI (and the x-rays) and then get LaSalle settled into a room, seem to go painstakingly slow, causing Pride to go a bit stir crazy. He was a bit worried that his well-planned bullet might have caused his young friend to have a heart attack, or an internal bleed of some sort. What kind of friend does that? Thinking back, he could have just as easily shot to the side placing the bullet in the side of boat, rather than in his friend's chest.
"Well what did the doctor say, Christopher?" His pale green eyes reflected more concern than his calm, smooth, voice.
LaSalle, tried to sit up a little bit higher in his hospital bed, grimacing as he did." He said you gave me a myocardial contusion, in other words, a bruised heart."
A bruised heart? Now wasn't that ironic? Pride supposed there was more truth in that statement than the physician or even Chris knew.
LaSalle looked at his weary friend. "Listen, King, ya don't hafta, stay, I'm good for the night." Or what was left of it. They were going to let him go home as soon as they were able to gather enough data that his heart was stable and the pain had subsided.
Pride sank down in the chair, "Got nothin' better to do, Son"
Son. The term was common of a good Southern upbringing but somehow it always sounded different when Pride said it and it always made Chris grin.
"You do know, I have a father right?" Chris teased.
"I know ya don't like 'em very much and that he didn't raise ya." Not like he had, anyway. Dwayne Pride had made an investment in the young uptight southern boy with a big grin and it had paid off in a big way. Together they ruled the city, though, LaSalle would deny having any part of that and shook his head whenever Pride mentioned that he would one day become the new King.
Next to his own flesh and blood, Chris LaSalle was the only other person, the senior agent would gladly lay down his life.
"True," Chris grinned through the metaphoric language as Pride kicked his feet onto the bed railing, stretching out his long legs.
"Always here for you, Chris."
"I'm always willin' tuh take a bullet for you, King."