The relationship between Robert T. Ironside and Mark Sanger has been an important one in the series. I have written one other story about their relationship. But what would happen if a serious rift came between them, like in "Memory of an Ice Cream Stick" This story takes after "Memory of an Ice Crème Stick", but within the first year after Ironside's shooting. The characters are not mine, but the creation of Collier Young.

Chapter 1

Rain was pouring down from the dark skies of San Francisco. The gloomy weather matched Chief Ironside's mood. Robert T. Ironside opened his eyes, and realized that he overslept. The first words out of his mouth were, "MARK, why didn't you wake me up sooner?" Mark replied, "I know you were up late, and thought you could use some sleep."

The minute Mark finished his reply, he heard, "YOU THOUGHT! I pay you to drive me and help me get in and out of bed and get dressed, not to think. Now help me get dressed and don't take all day!"

Mark was not happy about the Chief's tirade, but he hurried to help Ironside get ready for the day and get him into the wheelchair before Eve and Ed appeared to start their day. Also, before the Chief would bellow his displeasure about whatever was making him unhappy. Once that was accomplished, Mark hurried to prepare breakfast. He made the coffee and poured a cup. Ironside tasted the coffee, and the glower on his face showed his displeasure.

"This is coffee? What did you put in this? Antifreeze? Are you trying to kill me?" Mark was steaming inside. "Is someone in a back mood, this morning? That was met with a glare from the Chief, as Ed and Eve arrived. Mark looked their way and tried to warn them about the coming storm. Before he could convey his warning, the Chief uttered, "You two are late. Don't you have a watch or a clock? We start this office on time!"

Ed looked at Eve and Ed dared to say, "Can we come out from cover?" Between the look that Ironside gave and the horizontal position of his mouth that indicated his displeasure, Ed realized that he should not have asked. Ironside sat, looking annoyed, patting his hands together.

"Chief, what's wrong?", Eve inquired. The Chief's face softened. Eve had that effect on him.

"I didn't sleep well last night," the Chief muttered. "Memories. Bad memories." Mark looked at the Chief, and had mixed emotions. He was annoyed inside about Ironside yelling at him, but like tried to cover up his annoyance by being somewhat empathetic. "Well, you too, it is a working day, so go follow some of the leads that you already have. I have to get dressed."

Mark couldn't quite shake the feeling of irritation toward the Chief. He had been the recipient of the Chief's wrath for a while now. Mark had become his protector and friend, but at the same time, Mark felt like he was sometimes a human punching bag and the Chief delivered the jabs. But he tried to remind himself where he was before the Chief offered him a job. But in spite of his irritation, Mark knew that he had to do his job. He went over to help Ironside get ready for the day.

The Chief had to go to see the Commissioner, so Mark pushed Ironside up the ramp and out the door of the apartment. They reached the elevator and the Chief turned the wheelchair around and backed into the waiting chamber. Mark walked into the elevator and stood beside Ironside. They descended to the garage and exited when the elevator stopped. They both walked around to the rear of the paddy wagon, and Mark pushed the switch to open the back doors and lower the lift for Ironside to enter. The Chief again backed the wheelchair onto the lift, and Mark pushed the switch to raise the lift. Then Ironside rolled the wheelchair inside the paddy wagon. "Mark, you better hurry. I don't want to be late." Ironside implored. "Chief, this wagon doesn't fly.", Mark responded. Ironside replied , "I don't care. Get this thing moving!" The feeling of irritation started to rise in Mark again, but he complied again with Ironside's request. Mark climbed into the cab of the wagon, started the motor, and flew as fast as the paddy wagon could go to take the Chief to see the Commissioner.

They reached the Hall of Justice in record time, and after everyone exited the van, Mark and the Chief rode up the elevator to the floor where the Commissioner's office was located. Ironside rolled into the Commissioner's office, while Mark sat in the outer office. The Chief rolled into the Commissioner's office.

"Hi Bob!" Commissioner Randell greeted Ironside. "You are a little late for your appointment. " Ironside's face took the shape of a scowl. "What's wrong, Bob? Did you get out of the wrong side of the bed this morning?", the Commission asked. "I overslept. Mark didn't wake me up on time.", Ironside replied.

The Commissioner looked at him with a disapproving look and said, "You do stay up late a lot of times, and Mark shouldn't be blamed for you oversleeping." The Chief didn't say anything, and didn't seem to be in a better mood. After a minute, Ironside admitted, "I was having a flashback to the shooting, so I wasn't sleeping well."

The Commissioner, feeling a bit responsible for Ironside's attack, was thinking that maybe he shouldn't have sent Ironside on vacation, that things would be different if he hadn't.. The subject changed to police matters for a few more minutes. In what seemed like forever, Mark waited for the conversation to end. Then the Chief rolled back out of the office, not apologizing to Mark for his morning anger. Mark followed and the process of riding the elevator and entering the van started over again.

Mark and Ironside arrived back at the office/apartment to find Ed and Eve there checking out leads for one of the cases that they had been assigned.

Hi, Chief", Eve said. "Are you feeling better than this morning?" Ironside's face still did not look happy, so Eve retreated to the desk, so she appeared to be doing something before the storm of the Chief's anger resumed. Ironside turned toward Ed and asked, "Do we have more leads on the Donovan case?" Ed, not wanting to be the recipient of the Look from the Chief, replied, "We have more possible witnesses that we have interviewed, and we will have them come down to look at the mugshot books. We are waiting on more lab results to help with more leads."

Ed looked at Ironside, and saw that the Chief seemed preoccupied with his hand up to his chin, which usually was seen when the Chief was troubled or in deep thought. Ed inquired with a look of concern, "Chief, did you hear what I said?" Ironside. not first acknowledging Ed's question, but then realizing that Ed was standing right in front of him, answered, "Oh…oh yes, you said that you are waiting for results. Well, maybe you should go to the lab and see if they have finished. I have work to do."

Ed, Eve and Mark looked at each other and instinctively knew something was wrong, and Mark in particular, still bore some bad feelings about what happened that morning. But the two detectives decided that they better go to the lab before anything else happened. "We will be back soon, Chief", Eve assured the Chief. Ed and she hurried out the door. Mark thought it would be a good time to make some chili for lunch. Maybe that would make the Chief and him both feel better.

After lunch, the Chief rolled the wheelchair over to the window for a short while, and Mark went into his room to get away from the Chief, who still didn't seem happy, in spite of the chili. Mark was having some difficulty understanding why the Chief was more acerbic than usual, but knowing how tight-lipped Ironside could be, he didn't want to confront him. Mark knew what the Chief had done for him, but lately, he was not happy with the way that he was being treated. But for now, he had to study for school. Meanwhile, Ironside rolled back to his desk and looked at some files for his caseload.

Eve and Ed returned from the lab without any test results. They were greeted with a scowl from the Chief. It was decided that they would have to wait for morning and so Ed and Eve left for the day. Besides, it was a night for Mark to drive Ironside to St. Mary's for physical therapy. So, the two of them ate dinner in relative silence, and then took the elevator down to the garage for the drive to St. Mary's.

Chapter 2

Mark pointed the wagon toward the Golden Gate Bridge and the two men headed north toward Sonoma. They arrived at St. Mary's as they always did on the nights of therapy. Mark parked the paddy wagon, and the Chief lowered himself on the lift. Mark pushed him up and into the front door, and they headed for the physical therapy room. Ironside had to wear braces when he worked out his arms on the parallel bars, so Mark helped him change to a robe and helped place the braces on his legs. Then he pushed Ironside while the Chief pushed the wheels of the wheelchair out to the main room. Ironside warmed up his arms with some weights. Mark observed the activity, half feeling sad for the Chief, but still wondering what was happening to keep the Chief unhappy and annoyed with him. In the midst of his thoughts, he had to turn his attention to Ironside being wheeled over to the parallel bar and being readied to have him pull himself up from the wheelchair to a vertical position. He was to pull himself down the parallel bars to help work on his arm strength. One time before Ironside, while doing the same exercise, tried to let go of the bars to see if he could stand. He quickly grabbed the bars again before falling, realizing that life would not change back to what he knew before his injury.

Mark was looking away when he heard, "Mark, help me get to where we can remove the braces and I can shower." Mark complied and they went back to remove the braces and Mark assisted the Chief to dress. Then they left the physical therapy room with the Chief pushing the wheels. As Mark walked and Ironside wheeled down the hallway, a nun came out of a room.

The two men heard, "Robert! What are you doing here? I hope it is not to take up space in one of our beds." It was Sister Agatha. "No, Sister, I was just here doing some tuning up for my arms. How are you?", Ironside inquired. Sister Agatha looked and replied, "I'm fine. And I see Mark is with you. I hope you are have a good day, Mark."

Mark wasn't going to tell her about the morning explosion of the Chief and the moodiness he seemed to have. Instead, he replied, "I'm doing well." It was getting late, so Ironside said, "Sister, we have to get back to San Francisco. Tomorrow is a working day. Glad to see you again." Sister Agatha nodded her head and bid the Chief and Mark goodbye.

Ironside and Mark exited the hospital. As the Chief rolled down the sidewalk with Mark behind him, a shot rang out. The Chief had a look of panic and the next thing he knew Mark fell and hit Ironside on the way down to the ground. The Chief whipped the wheelchair around to see Mark lying on the sidewalk with blood coming from his back. The only thing he could do was shout for help, since he physically couldn't come to Mark's aid. Nurses and orderlies came flooding out the front door with a gurney and gently lifted Mark up. They hurried Mark inside on the gurney, leaving the Chief sitting in front of the hospital, shock written all over his face. He began to push the wheels on the wheelchair, when Sister Agatha appeared.

"Oh, Robert, what happened?, she asked. The Chief, in shock, couldn't find the words at first, but started to mumble, "Why Mark? Who-who could have shot him?"

Sister Agatha's mouth opened in horror, but she knew who between them was the most wounded, and placed her hand on Ironside's shoulder.

"I will help you find where Mark is being treated. Come, let me push you." So, with all of her strength and assistance from the Chief, both of them made it inside the hospital and to a waiting room. The Chief asked about Mark, but all that the nurse knew was that he was being treated. So, Ironside, without Ed and Eve, sat in the waiting room, with sadness in his eyes, not knowing whether Mark would live or die. What if he is paralyzed and how would he cope with it? He began thinking about his shooting again, and the first day that Mark was brought to him. How much hate Mark had for him at the time. Now he all he could do is contact Ed and Eve and wait to see what the doctors say about Mark. A phone was made available to the Chief, so he phoned Ed to let him know what had happened. Ed was shocked, since Mark had become his brother. Ed assured Ironside that he would call Eve and bring her with him as soon as possible. As Ironside placed the receiver back onto the phone, deputies from the local sheriff's office entered the hospital, looking for him.

"Are you Robert Ironside?", one of the deputies asked. "Yes, I am.", answered the Chief. "We are here to ask you about the shooting of Mr. Sanger. He works for you, doesn't he?" Ironside looked at him with a solemn face and said, "Yes, he had been working for me for about 9 months."

The deputy then asked, "Do you know what enemies Mr. Sanger would have?" The Chief looked at him.

"Mark has no enemies. I suspect that someone was aiming for me, and Mark got in between me and the bullet. I have a lot of people that I have help bring to justice, so it was probably someone on a list of people who promised to avenge their convictions."

The deputy wasn't very surprised at the idea that someone was pursuing Chief Ironside. His reputation extended beyond San Francisco into Sonoma County and beyond.

"If you don't mind, Deputy, two of my staff members are coming from San Francisco and can assist in the investigation. We will make sure that you get the bullet after they remove it from Mark." The deputy appreciated the offer of help and gave Ironside his phone number to call. Then he exited the building, leaving the Chief alone again with his thoughts.

About 15 minutes later, Eve and Ed arrived at St. Mary's. They hurried to the front door and came inside to locate Ironside. Sister Agatha was near the front door when they entered.

"Good to see you, Sister Agatha. Do you know where the Chief is?" Sister Agatha looked sadly at them and said, "Robert is in the waiting room down the hall. He looks so sad. I think he is blaming himself for Mark's shooting. Come, I will show you where he is."

The three walked down the hall to the waiting room. When Eve spotted the Chief, she walked up to him and put her hand on his shoulder.

"Have you heard anything about Mark yet?", Eve inquired. "And you, you look so tired." Ironside's eyes looked to Eve with bags showing. "I haven't heard anything. What is taking them so long? The Chief's face became somber again. He said, "I wonder sometimes if I should have asked Mark to work for me. Now he is laying in the emergency room with a bullet in his back." Both Eve and Ed had seen this side of Ironside before, but Eve tried to calm his fears by saying, "Chief, Mark knew when he took this job that there may be danger. When he was on the other side of the law, he saw how difficult life could be and how much danger the police were in with his crowd. You took him out of one place where he could have been killed and gave him a chance to find a better life. You shouldn't feel guilty for that."

Just as she finished her words, Sister Agatha came in the room and told all three that Mark was being taken to surgery. Ed pushed Ironside into the hallway in time to see Mark going past on the gurney. A look of concern came on the Chief's face. He had been here before, and hoped that Mark would come through the surgery in better shape than he did. Ironside's gaze never wavered until Mark was wheeled through the doors into the surgical suite. The Chief regained his composure and turned his attention to Eve and Ed.

"You two will be assisting the Sheriff's Department in the investigation of Mark's shooting. I have a card from one of the deputies. If you would please call them and see what type of assistance you can give. I will stay here and wait for Mark to get out of surgery.", the Chief told Eve and Ed. "And how are you going to stay awake, if you don't get some rest?", Ed asked. Ironside gave him a bit of the Look, and said, "I couldn't sleep now if I try. But you two need to get going. We won't solve the case if all three of us are here."

Ed felt a bit annoyed, but knew better not to say anything that may make the Chief even more unhappy. So, Ed and Eve found a phone and made the phone call to the Sheriff's Department. They then exited the front door, while Ironside waited to see what fate Mark would be.

A few hours lapsed, while the Chief paced back and forth in his wheelchair. Ironside was not a religious man, but he said several silent prayers for Mark. Also, he recounted how unsettled his mind had been the night before, reliving his own shooting, then lashing out at Mark earlier in the day. Now Mark would be the one to have to relive his own nightmare. He continued to be lost in his thoughts.

Chapter 3

It was midnight and Ironside sat nervously in his chair, exhausted, waiting for word on Mark. Just as he had another cup of coffee, the doctor entered the waiting room with a poker face. Ironside couldn't tell what the news was, and unconsciously, he was holding his breath, but the doctor began to say,

"Mr. Ironside, we have good and bad news about Mr. Sanger. He is out of surgery, but we don't know whether or not his spinal cord was damaged at all by the bullet. We will have to wait until he is conscious before we can tell if he responds to any sensation in his legs."

Ironside's heart sank with the news. Tears began to well up in his eyes. He asked, "May I see Mark?" The doctor thought about it a moment.

"If you just sit by him and not talk to him, I will allow you to see him." Ironside nodded and the doctor led him to the recovery room, where Mark laid. The Chief was not prepared for what he was to see. Mark, with tubes and sensors all around him, lay silent. The Chief's face conveyed his emotions, and he wheeled a bit closer to place his hand on Mark's. Ironside murmured,

"I'm sorry, Mark, for what has happened to you. I am not one to apologize, but I am sorry for my anger with you this morning."

He sat staring at Mark for a few more minutes until Sister Agatha came in to inform the Chief that he had a phone call. Ironside looked at Mark one more time and then turned the wheelchair around and followed the Sister to the nursing station. There the other nurse handed the phone to the Chief. Eve was on the other end.

"Chief, how is Mark?", she asked. Ironside stoically answered, "Mark is out of surgery. That's the good news. But they are not sure if his spine was not damaged."

All he could hear at first was silence on the other end. "Eve? Eve?" Ironside implored. "Chief, sorry, I had to absorb the shock of the news.", Eve explained. She then explained that the Sheriff's Department had found a rifle in the woods near the hospital. "Ballistics will compare the bullet from Mark with the rifle shot and check for fingerprints." Eve hesitated. "Chief, are you alright?"

Ironside thought for a moment, and then admitted that he was tired. "Why don't Ed and you come back to the hospital and Ed can drive me back to the city. I am not helping Mark sitting here all night. We'll come back in the morning." Eve agreed.

Just as he reached the receiver to the nurse, Sister Agatha, who was attending Mark came back from his room with a smile on her face.

"Chief, Mark opened his eyes.", she exclaimed. The Chief swiftly turned his wheelchair around and pushed the wheels almost as if he were in a race to reach Mark's room. When he entered the room, and rolled up to Mark's bed, Ironside's face lit up and he almost had a smile.

"Well, Mark, welcome back. Mark turned his head slightly toward the voice that he heard, but when he saw it was Ironside, he turned his head away from the Chief and seemed agitated. Sister Agatha walked around the bed to try to calm him. She requested that the Chief leave. Bewildered, Ironside turned the wheelchair around and wheeled out of the room. He was puzzled by Mark's reaction. The Chief asked himself why Mark did not to see him. He didn't have much time to dwell on this thought before Eve and Ed appeared. Both of them wanted to find out how Mark was doing.

When they reached the Chief, they could tell by the look on his face that not everything was . Ed was about to say something when Ironside replied, "Mark opened his eyes, but when I went in the room to see him, he became agitated and acted like he didn't want to see me. I don't know what is wrong, but I had to leave the room. Ironside placed his hand on his chin, which he seemed to do when distressed. "Chief, what if we went into Mark's room and see if he reacts the same," Eve suggested. "Eve, I don't think we should do anything else for now to disturb Mark. I don't want to disturb him anymore and possibly do him harm. Maybe tomorrow, you can see him, and maybe he will be able to talk to you and tell you what is wrong." Ironside sighed, and told Ed and Eve, "Let's go home. I'm exhausted." Sister Agatha seemed to agree.

Chapter 4

Ed drove the van with Ironside, while Eve drove the car, following behind them. Ironside was silent, trying to sort out why Mark was unhappy seeing him. They reached the Golden Gate Bridge and within fifteen minutes, had reached the garage of the Hall of Justice. The Chief rolled to the lift after Ed parked and lowered himself down to the floor of the garage. Eve followed Ed and Ironside to the elevator and all rode up to the office/apartment. After entering, Ed helped Ironside down the ramp and they all headed for the octagon table. Ed collapsed in a chair and Eve made some coffee. The first to say anything was Ed.

"Chief, why do you think Mark is unhappy about you being there? He seemed fine this morning." Ironside looked at him and his expression was somber. "Mark has been through a lot today. Maybe I was a bit hard on him this morning. Maybe things will be better tomorrow.", Ironside said. Eve observed, "Chief you look beat. Why don't we go home and let you get some sleep."

Eve and Ed both stood up and started to head for the door. As they almost approached the door, Ironside inquired, "How am I going to get to bed? Mark isn't here to help me." Ironside hadn't learned yet how to transfer out of the wheelchair on his own, so Mark had to help him get into and out of bed. Ed looked at Eve and then at Ironside and hesitated. "Uh, Chief. Why don't I stay here overnight, so I can help you?".

Ironside thought about It a moment, but because he was exhausted, he nodded an affirmative answer. Both Ed and Ironside said goodnight to Eve, and after she left. Ed stood by Ironside.

"Now what do I do?", Ed inquired. "I have not been here when you needed to go to bed." Ironside, with annoyance, said "You figure it out. "So, after Ed helped him into his pajamas, the task of getting him into bed fell to Ed to get the Chief from the wheelchair into the bed. Mark had been a boxer and had a solid, muscular build. Ed worked out enough to do his job, but he was tall and thin. To muscle the Chief from the wheelchair to his bed for Ed would be a challenge. Ed had Ironside put an arm around Ed's neck and tried to pivot the chief around to the bed, but when he did that, he almost dropped the Chief, and barely got him on the bed. Between the two of them, Ironside finally got in the right position. Ed stood by the bed, breathing heavily.

"Chief, I guess I need to work out a bit more.", Ed remarked. Ironside took a look at him and felt relief. "At least you didn't drop me on my head. You can find some pajamas in Mark's drawer. Goodnight Ed." When Ironside was finally alone, he fell asleep quickly.

Sleep, however, didn't last. Ironside began having flashbacks again in his dreams. He relived his shooting and the ambulance ride, and now added to all of that, was Mark's shooting. He tossed in bed as much as he could and mumbled unintelligible words to the point that Ed could hear them from Mark's room.

After rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he hurried out of Mark's bed and walked to the foot of Ironside's bed. "Chief, are you alright?", Ed shouted. Ironside still was having a nightmare, so Ed again shouted his question, which finally startled the Chief out of his flashback. Ed felt he had to ask, "What's wrong, Chief?" Ironside blinked his eyes and looked at Ed. "I guess I was having a bad dream. Bad memories of my shooting. And of Mark's." Ed's brow furrowed. "Is this why you overslept yesterday morning?", he asked Ironside. There was just a nod from the Chief. Ed seemed a bit annoyed. "You did mention it yesterday morning, but I was hoping that you wouldn't have a recurrence." Ironside looked at him and sighed. "Sometimes, Ed, I wonder if I did the right thing to have Mark take this job helping me. Now he is lying in bed, not sure if he can walk. It's like living my nightmare all over again."

Ed tried to be sympathetic, know what emotions the Chief experienced during the aftermath of his shooting. "Chief, Mark will be alright. You and need to get some sleep, so we can go back to see him tomorrow and work on the investigation into his shooting." Ironside looked at him and nodded. Then he closed his eyes, which Ed took as a signal to return to his bed.

The next morning, Ed and the Chief had to reverse the process and get the Chief out of bed and into the wheelchair. This time, Ed found it a bit easier to complete the task without dropping Ironside. Once the Chief was dressed and shaved, Ed dressed and made breakfast. Eve appeared at her usual time. Curious, she asked, "Well, how did you both get along last night?" Ironside changed the subject. "Eve, we have more important things to do than checking on the social affairs of Ed and I. We do have an investigation of Mark's shooting."

Eve looked puzzled and wondered what happened during the night to make Ironside seem so evasive. She walked over to the stove and poured a cup of coffee. She looked at Ed to see if she could find any clues in his expression. He was no help. Eve thought and offered an idea to Ironside. "If we are going to see Mark this morning, we can check to see if there were any fingerprints on the rifle that was found.". Ed agreed. "Let's get rolling. Ed you drive and, Eve, you can ride in back with me.", Ironside ordered. So, Ed pushed the Chief up the ramp with Eve following both of them.

About 45 minutes later, they arrived at St. Mary's. Ironside, Ed and Eve all left the paddy wagon, eager to see if Mark's condition had improved. Shortly after they entered the front door, they spotted Sister Agatha. "Sister!", Ironside called. Sister Agatha turned around and saw Ironside, Ed and Eve. "Robert, I am glad to see you. You're here to see Mark, right? Well, he is conscious. We were able to test to see if he was able to feel anything on his foot, and the test was positive. He has been moved to his own room." Ironside let out an invisible sigh of relief. "Would we be able to see him, Sister? Or should I stay here and let Eve or Ed go into his room? Sister Agatha knew how much Mark meant to the Chief, but after yesterday's incident, she thought it best for only Ed and Eve to see him today. "Maybe tomorrow or the next day we can let you into the room." Ironside's face looked sad, but he didn't want to do anything to hurt Mark. "You two go ahead with Sister Agatha. I will wait here." So, Eve and Ed followed Sister Agatha to see Mark.

Entering the room, Ed and Eve saw Mark lying on the bed with needles in his arms and tubes running from them. Eve just couldn't wait and said, "Hi, Mark! How do you feel? Ed is here to see you as well." Mark looked at both of them and had a little smile. "I'm glad that you didn't bring the Chief with you." Ed and Eve looked at each other and were both startled by Mark's statement. "I don't want to see him. You two can come to see me, but not the Chief." Knowing what happened the night before, he said to Mark, "The Chief is really concerned about how you are. He is really worried about you." Mark looked at Ed with an angry look. "I don't want to see him!" Ed seemed sad about what Mark said, but he assured Mark that the Chief would not see him.

Sister Agatha, who was standing near the foot of the bed, also seemed sad, because she understood what Mark meant to Robert, and she had been there when Robert gained consciousness. She could see beneath the tough guy and knew that even if he would show it or admit it, Marks rejection would hurt Robert. "Eve and Ed, it think it is time for you to let Mark get some rest." Ed and Eve said goodbye to Mark.

Sister Agatha stayed behind to check on Mark's vitals. Eve thought it would be a good time to ask, "What happened last night with the Chief? He seems so evasive when I asked him this morning." Ed was hesitant to tell Eve at first, but knowing how much she cared about the Chief, he decided to tell her. "If you remember yesterday morning, the Chief mentioned something about have bad dreams. Well, last night he was having a bad dream about his shooting and Mark's shooting, too. He is wondering if he should have not hired Mark, because of the shooting. He is worried about Mark. I don't know what will happen when we tell the Chief that Mark doesn't want to see him."

Eve took a deep breath and the two of them went to meet Ironside to tell him about Mark. Ironside was sitting in the waiting room and Ed and Eve came back to see him. "Chief, I don't know how to tell you this, but Mark doesn't want you to see him," Ed cautiously explained. "He seemed very angry when I tried to tell him how worried you are about him."

Ironside was silent and turned his wheelchair around with his back to Ed and Eve. Usually that was a signal that Ironside needed a few moments to be with his own thoughts and compose himself. Eve was tempted to put her hand on Ironside's should, which she was known to do to comfort him. But she decided this was not the time. After a couple of minutes, Ed and Eve heard a voice. "Well, just don't stand there. We have more things to do than sit around this hospital. There is an investigation and we need to see the sheriff to find out about the fingerprints and any other information he may have. Let's get going!" Ed had to catch himself with his mouth open at the reaction to the Chief, but he pushed Ironside out to the paddy wagon, and everyone got into the vehicle headed for the Sheriff Department.

Arriving at the Sheriff's Department, the trio entered the office. "Deputy, I glad to see you again. Do you have any information on the fingerprints?", Ed asked. Ironside sat waiting to hear the information. "Well, we have a tentative ID. You may be interested, Chief Ironside. The fingerprints belong to a person you know. Someone named Bain." Ironside's face became animated. "He was one of the punks that held Eve and I hostage in the office. I disarmed them with spray and an electrical charge using the armrest of my wheelchair against the TV that one of them was holding. I didn't know that Bain was out of jail. So, he was trying to shoot me and Mark got in the way." Everyone was surprised by this revelation. Ironside inquired, "So do you have a line on where he is?". The deputy shook his head. "We will keep trying to track him down for you. I hope your friend is getting better." Ironside's expression gave away a bit of the internal emotions he was feeling. "Yes, he is getting better, but I don't know when he will return home." Eve and Ed were watching the Chief to see how he was coping with the situation. "Well, Ed and Eve, we have other cases to investigate. Let's get back to San Francisco."

Chapter 5

A couple of weeks passed and there was still no sign of Bain. Mark was ready to leave the hospital, but the question was where he would go, since he didn't want to see the Chief. Ed and Eve had talked to him about this dilemma. They decided that Mark would go to Ed's apartment for the time being, since Ed seemed to have move into the office/apartment with the Chief. Ed noticed how much time Ironside was spending looking out the window, knowing that he was either angry at Mark, or somewhat depressed about the strain in their relationship. The Chief has also had more nightmares, which made him even more cranky than usual. Work was suffering with little direction from Ironside. So, Eve and Ed decided that they needed to play peacemakers and convince Mark to come to the office to talk with the Chief. While they were out on an investigation, they drove to Ed's apartment to talk to Mark.

When they arrived, Mark was sitting on the sofa watching TV. They sat down with Mark and began the conversation. Eve was the first to speak. "Mark, we don't know why you don't want to see the Chief. All this time, we that that he was the most important part of your life. Eve and I have seen how much this separation is affecting the Chief. You know he can be gruff and demanding, but you also know that he cares about you. Would you consider coming to the office and have a conversation with him? Maybe you two can work out whatever differences you have with the Chief." Ed then spoke up, saying, "I've been staying with him to help him and he has not been sleeping well. In fact, he has been having nightmares about his shooting and yours." Mark thought about it and decided to go back with them to the office. They all when do to the car and Ed drove them back to the Hall of Justice."

When they arrived back at the office, Eve and Ed asked Mark to wait outside in the hall, so they could break the news to Ironside gently. So, the duo opened the door and found the Chief on the phone to the deputy in Sonoma County. "Have you had any leads in the suspect for Mr. Sanger's shooting?" The deputy still had not been able to locate the suspect. Ironside asked him to contact the office if anything were to occur. He turned to get a cup of coffee, and saw that Eve and Ed were back. "What are you trying to do, scare me? What did you find out about the Reynolds case?" Eve looked at Ed. "Well, spit it out. I don't have all day, Officer Whitfield." Eve began, "Chief, we do have some information, but before we talk about that, we have a surprise for you." Ironside, irritated, replied, "You have what?" Eve looked a little reluctant to continue, but she forged ahead. "We picked up Mark on the way back, and he is in the hall. We were hoping that you two can talk to each other and maybe settle whatever is the problem between both of you." The Chief's face turned from anger to almost a smile. "Have Mark come in."

Eve went to the door and had Mark come down to the octagon table. He sat down, but had a scowl on his face. Ironside saw Mark's face and his face went from happy to a somber look. "Mark, I have been worried about you. Ever since the shooting, I haven't been sleeping well. I feel responsible for what happened to you. When you were unconscious, I spoke to you and tried to apologize. Not that you are here, I want to repeat to you that I am sorry." Mark looked at him. Mark's emotions were simmering, but now he exploded. "Chief, I never knew when I took this job, that my life would be in jeopardy so many times. I almost died this time. I thought that all I had to do was to help you get in and out of bed and drive you. I feel like you take me for granted. To have you yell at me when I try to do my best! I just can't do it anymore. I quit!

Mark turned around and stomped up the ramp and out the door. Eve ran after him to try to change his mind. Ironside's reaction was one of tears welling up in his eyes and wheeling himself to the window. Ed looked over at Ironside, but was at a loss for words. It seemed like the relationship between the Chief and Mark had ended. And knowing the Chief, he would not want to talk about it now. Ed had to find a person who could talk to Mark who understood the Chief and could help Mark understand Ironside. He decided to call a certain Sister in the morning.

The night had not been a good one for Ironside with him not able to sleep very well. Once Ed helped the Chief get ready for the day, he went to the phone in his room with the pool table and called St. Mary's to talk to Sister Agatha. The nurse answered the phone. Ed asked to be connected to Sister. The next thing Ed heard, "Hello Ed. I'm surprised you called. How is Robert?" Ed responded. "He is not doing well. Mark quit working for him and the Chief is not sleeping well. I have been staying with him to help." Sister Agatha answered, "Sorry to hear that. I know Robert cares about Mark. I guess Mark doesn't see that. So, what can I do for you, Ed?" Ed replied, "You understand the Chief and know how to deal with him. I was hoping that you could talk to Mark and help him understand the Chief. I just want to find a way for the two of them to get back together." After a short hesitation, Sister Agatha agreed. "I will pick you up and bring you to my apartment where Mark is staying."

Eve came into the office and Ironside was sitting at the table, not eating his breakfast. "Chief, how are you today?" She looked at the full plate on the table. "Chief, you haven't eaten your breakfast. You have to eat something. I know that you are not happy about Mark. But we don't want you to get sick." Ironside looked at her. "I'll eat when I want to eat! Ed and you need to go out and check more details on the Reynolds case. Ed, where are you? Get out here now!" Ed came out from the pool room. "Sorry, Chief. I needed to finish shaving." Ed grabbed a piece of toast and downed a cup of coffee. "Eve and I will leave now. I hope you have a better day." Ironside's face showed he was not amused. Ed and Eve headed for the door before the wrath of Ironside was heard again.

After they left the office, Ed told Eve his plan. "I am going to go to St. Mary's to pick up Sister Agatha. She is going to talk to Mark to see if she can get him to return home. How about if you go check on the information about the Reynolds case, and I will go get Sister Agatha. I'll take my own car." Eve was concerned. "What if the Chief tries to get reach you?" Ed thought a minute and told her, "Just tell him that I had to go to interview some witnesses. Hopefully, he will believe you." Eve wasn't certain this idea would work, but she went along with it. "See you later, Eve." So, Eve went out to check on the Reynolds case and Ed hurried to pick up Sister Agatha. He only hoped his plan would work.

After he picked up Sister Agatha, Ed drove her to his apartment, where Mark was still living. Both Ed and the Sister rode the elevator and exited on Ed's floor. Ed knocked on the door. Mark opened the door. "Sister, what are you doing here? It's good to see you." Sister Agatha answered, "I was wondering how you were doing since you left St. Mary's. Ed was kind enough to bring me to his apartment to see you." Ed and Sister Agatha entered Ed's apartment. Mark asked Ed, "Shouldn't you be out doing some investigation?"

Ed looked at him and answered, "Well, yes. And that is what I was just going to do. I will leave Sister Agatha with you for a while, and I will find Eve." Mark seems a little suspicious about what was happening, but he trusted Ed enough to overlook his suspicions. "OK, Ed. See you later." So, Ed left and Sister Agatha and Mark sat on the sofa. "So, Mark, how are you really feeling?" Mark responded, "Sister, I am fine. I have a bit of pain still, but overall I am fine." Sister Agatha looked at him again. "How is Robert? I haven't seen him since the last time he came to St. Mary's". Mark became annoyed. "I don't know how the Chief is. I don't work for him anymore. Did Ed put you up to this to get me to go back to the Chief?! Well I don't want to talk about it." Sister Agatha took Mark's hand and tried to calm him. "I have heard that you are angry at Robert because he yells at you. You and I know that Robert is not one to express his deep feelings openly. And we also know that he still is adjusting to his new life in the wheelchair." Mark interrupted, "But he takes me for granted." Sister Agatha waited a moment and continued. "Mark, Robert is sometimes impatient and unappreciative, and maybe that is partially his frustration about his situation. But I have seen the person behind that veneer. Why do you think he gave you your job, if he did not care about you? He needs you as much as you need him. His life would have been much worse, if you had not taken his offer. He has improved your life, even if sometimes it is hard for you to deal with his anger. And he did not mean for you to be wounded. I saw him after your shooting and how upset he appeared. Ed told me that he has been having nightmares about your shooting, as well as his own. He was really afraid that you would have to cope with the same issues as he has. Robert is not perfect, but even when he doesn't show it, he has your best interests at heart."

Mark sat silent, taking in all that Sister Agatha said. "Sister, I guess that I lost sight of what the Chief has done for me. It takes a lot to overlook some of his outbursts and sarcasm, but he did give me a place to stay and a job and friendship. I did hate him when he brought me into the office. The shooting intensified my anger, but I don't really hate him. I just want not to be taken for granted." Sister hugged Mark and said, "Robert doesn't take you for granted. Maybe you need to let him know that you do not hate him and go back home." They both smiled at each other. Mark agreed that he would go back to the office and talk to Ironside. "Thank you, Sister. Now I know why you are a match for the Chief."

Chapter 6

Ed found Eve and the two of them checked on the information for the Reynolds case. They returned in separate cars back to the office, where Ironside was talking to someone on the phone. The two walked down the ramp and waited for the Chief to finish his conversation. The next thing they heard was, "Where have you two been? I have been waiting for the information all day. Well, do you have something to tell me?" Eve, trying to calm Ironside, told him that they had a lead on the case, but he needed to come talk to that person, because they were not very cooperative." Ironside looked at her suspiciously. "I give both of you a job, and I end up having to finish it. OK, let's go." So, Ed pushed the Chief up the ramp and out the door.

Mark left the Sister at Ed's apartment and took the bus back to the office. He opened the door, hoping to find the Chief there, so he could talk to him and apologize. But Ironside was nowhere to be seen. Mark was happy to be back home. Ed's apartment was fine, but he preferred being here after all. So, he went into the pool room and got his school books to study, waiting for Ironside to return. About an hour later, Mark heard a noise and realized that it was the front door opening. He thought the Chief had returned and walked out of the pool room to see him. Instead of Ironside, it was Bain.

Mark remembered the face, but didn't know that he was the suspect in his shooting. "May I help you? Chief Ironside is not here." Bain pulled out a gun and pointed it at Mark. "When will he be back? I have a score to settle with him." Mark couldn't answer the question. Bain made Mark move to the barber chair. "You will be my bait. I'm here to kill Ironside. He was the reason I was in prison. I just want to get even." Mark was alarmed and wished he could contact the Chief.

Ironside, Eve and Ed came back in the van. As soon as he could, the Chief, exited the van and wheeled to the elevator. He rode the elevator to the office and pushed himself up the ramp the front door. Having lived in the apartment/office for a few months, Mark could hear the elevator. He felt helpless to stop Bain. The door opened and in rolled Ironside. Bain turned his head and smiled when he saw Ironside come in the office. "Ironside, I have been waiting a long time to pay you back for putting me in prison. I have someone here that you know well that had been keeping me company." Mark and the Chief and locked eyes. "Mark, are you OK?"

Mark nodded his head and tried to think of a way to jump Bain. Ironside rolled down the ramp. Bain moved over to the wheelchair. "OK, Ironside, I'm going to make it hard for you to escape." He moved over to the wheelchair and pushed it sideways, spilling Ironside onto the floor. As he did that, Mark came up behind him and grabbed him from behind. Bain tried to shoot the Chief, but missed. Mark grabbed his shooting arm and knocked the gun out of his hand, then grabbed the gun. At that very moment, Ed ran into the office, gun drawn with Eve following behind him.

Mark looked at him. "What took you so long." Ironside, laying on the floor, looked up at Ed in relief. Both Ed and Mark asked the Chief if he was alright. "I'm fine. When you can, I need some help getting back up." Eve called for an officer to come to get Bain. After he was taken away, Ed and Mark helped the Chief to get back in his wheelchair. Ed said to Mark, "I now have more an appreciation for what you go through everyday getting the Chief in and out of the wheelchair." Ironside shot a look at both of them. But then he grinned. "I don't take you for granted, Mark. And even though I seem to be annoyed, I'm glad that all of you are here. It's not normally in my nature to thank people, but I will thank you Mark for saving my life, and Ed and Eve for the hard work you do. I hope you will come home and take your job back, Mark." Mark acted like he was thinking about the offer. "Chief, you may be gruff, but inside you care about people. A certain nun taught me that. Yes, I will accept your offer to come back home. Ed and Eve smiled and expressed their happiness that both of the people they loved were back together again.

The evening came and Eve had been busy preparing a lovely meal. Ed had driven to his apartment to bring Sister Agatha back to the office to surprise the Chief and Mark. So, the table was set, the drinks poured and Eve, Mark and Ironside heard the door open. Sister Agatha came into the office. Ironside looked over in surprise. "Sister, what a pleasant surprise. What are you doing in San Francisco? Come, sit down at the table." Mark knew more than he was telling, but the Sister explained. "Someone who cared enough about Mark and you brought me into the city to help find a way to bring you two back together. I didn't know if I could do anything, but knowing you enough and with God's guidance, I was able to help Mark understand you better. I'm just glad that I can share a meal with all of you. You are like a family who supports each other, even though sometimes all of you are tested." Everybody acknowledged the kind words of Sister Agatha. Then Eve brought over the champagne and all but Sister Agatha took their glasses. Then the Chief made a toast. "To good friends." Then they all sat together and began eating.