Life after Death
By Lauren Metal
lmetal@wam.umd.edu

Summary: Kim and Carlos turn to each other in support after Alex's death

Spoilers: follows the events of the season 4 finale

Warning: This story is DARK....it's about death and the grief of those left behind. There is sex and swearing, so if you don't like that kind of stuff this probably isn't the story for you!

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And so they continue on with their day. Alex is dead and as numb as they feel, they are still alive and the city needs their service, not their sadness.

But tears can not be avoided, not now, maybe not ever.

Doc rides alone. The empty seat alongside of him bares down a weight too much to bear. He was the one to order Alex off the squad. His last words were the ones spoken to her in anger. Hell, she'd died and he'd still been angry, had spoken ill of the dead after she'd made the ultimate sacrifice.

He is never going to forgive himself for that. Ever.

Kim and Carlos respond to a fire, a minor one, thank God, but all Kim can see is the heat of *that* explosion and it still rocks her to her very core. Her stomach lurches at the sight of flames now, the thought of death, of coldness, of fear, of losing yet another one she loves.

There is a domestic dispute too, and as Carlos bandages the wife's bloodied head, all he sees is Alex's blood. He sees the blood of a friend as it seeps from her body, pools on the cool, dark pavement where she takes her last breath.

All eyes become Alex's eyes, blue as the sky she'd ascending to before them. Cold as ice, as the death that had come as he kneeled beside her and spoke gentle lies.

It isn't okay. Nothing is okay. It isn't even close.

And so, 11 o'clock comes and goes with mixed emotions. Shift is over, a small sigh of relief. Their minds hadn't be on the job anyway. They can go home, but that won't help them forget.

They'll never forget.

One of their own isn't going home tonight. She won't be going home ever. And they don't want to go home either.

Each slowly enters the locker room. Medics, firemen-there are only firemen at the 55 now-and even as the room begins to fill, it remains silent. No one dares to say a word.

Each time the door swings opened they hold their breaths, half expecting Alex to bound in, still moaning about being forced to ride the bus and Lieu, hot on her tail, riding her ass over not following orders.

They would have laughed. It would have been routine.

They want routine. Instead, they have this.

They linger as they dress. Extra moments spent slowly buttoning buttons, tying and double-tying street shoes, rummaging through their gear over and over and over as if something is missing.

Because something is missing.

They each feel it most when their eyes meet those of the others in the room. It's easier to look away.

Kim finally breaks the silence.

"I can't take this anymore." She is the first to break.

Doc sighs and hangs his head low. DK, Walsh, and the others continue to do the same.

"Kim!" Carlos says as she turns and flees the room, an escape from the tension, the silence, the uneasiness that prevails.

But it follows her, the memories of the day she knows she'll never forget.

And Carlos follows her too, catches her as she stumbles on the street, her tiny body crumpling to the sidewalk, wracked with tears.

He rubs her back as she sobs, helps her pick up her fallen belongings that scattered the sidewalk when she fell.

They both gasp at the sight of her wallet flopped open. The grinning faces of Bobby and Alex, portraits of happy times, smile back at their frowns.

"God Carlos, please tell me you'll never leave me," Kim cries and he runs his finger across the picture of Alex's angelic face.

"You don't even like me," he chokes his response.

She hadn't liked Alex at first either.

She says nothing for a moment, and then lets it all pour out.

"Why do my partners all die? Bobby and Alex, it's not fair. We're paramedics, it's not supposed to be like this."

"It's not," Carlos echoes.

But it is.

"Please tell me you'll never leave me," she requests again.

And he knows she needs this, needs him to say what she wants to hear.

"I'm not going anywhere," he says, and makes another promise he knows he really does not hold in his control.

"I can't do this again," she admits in defeat.

He remembers. He remembers what Doc and the others had told him about the bathtub and the bottle of wine and the pills. The 'accident.' The stories about the look on Joey's face.

The gossip had gone around the house for days.

Back then, he couldn't believe she'd be so dumb. He thought she was a fruit loop, a looney toon and now he feels so bad.

Now he understands.

He understands because he saw Alex die. He'd been there, known he could do nothing, had been powerless.

Now, part of him wants to die too, like Kim after Bobby. But he is her new partner now and he isn't going to leave her.

Instead, he supports her as she stands, dries her tears, and help her as they head for home. And honestly, they help each other, walk home so close to one another, the weight of their bodies support each other as if they can not stand alone.

"I can't be alone tonight," Kim admits and Carlos knows he can't either.

The stay together.

It's at Carlos's place that he squeezes Kim's hand as she calls Jimmy, breaks the news of Alex's death.

She hates that she must shatter the excitement of her ex-husband and son and their first boys-only trip to Disneyland. Now death will always mar the memory of time spent at the happiest place on Earth.

Carlos has to look away as Kim talks. He doesn't want to hear the news again. He watched Alex die, but can't stand to hear the words. Instead, he toys with Kim's fingers and is forever grateful when she can't go on, hits end and lets the cell phone slip from her grasp.

He gathers her in his arms, soothes her as he soothes himself.

He kisses her and their lips tingle as they touch. They allow it to happen because they are numb and *this* is feeling.

They need to feel something, the heat, the warmth, the passion, even if it is only through the grief they share.

They disrobe each other and lie skin to skin, naked, exposed, vulnerable to their emotions and to each other.

Their touch is like a drug, an addiction, a boost they need to stay alive, to stay in touch with the fact that this is real, this is now.

This is their life.

Their tears mix with sweat and the tangled sheets of his bed. The mattress springs squeal in their grief.

They cry each others' names as they come together and later mumble 'Alex' over and over as they lie together, hearts beating boldly, knowing full well she lies cold, dead, and severed in the morgue, alone.

They feel guilty as they redress, only because while they strive to feel, Alex never will feel anything again.

Kim asks if it was just a pity fuck. It wasn't. Carlos doesn't feel bad for her and it isn't because he thinks she'll try to kill herself again. He wants this, needs this as much as she does.

They still need one another and aren't afraid or ashamed when Ty comes home and catches them in a lover's embrace in the kitchen.

He says nothing as tears stream down his cheeks.

All Carlos can say is "sorry."

"I never even said I was sorry," Ty breaks down and Kim understands. It had been that way with her and Bobby, too.

"She knew," Kim tries to reassure, but knows it's probably another lie. She can't even remember how many times Alex complained about Ty's insensitivity.

But what's one more lie today?

In the end, the lies hurt less than truth and the truth is more than they can take.

When the phone rings, when Sully breaks the news of another tragedy, a shooting involving more of their own, they cry more, they cry harder.

They are surprised there are tears left to shed.

"Please tell me this is all some kind of nightmare," Kim cries.

But she feels the sensation of Carlos's hands on her tiny waist and knows this is all very real.

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Okay, I warned you it was dark! Let me know if you liked it!