"I've called an ambulance," Amanda said as she snapped her cell phone shut.

Mark lay a reassuring hand on her knee and was rewarded with a small smile. "Just pray we don't need more."

"They're fine Mark, like the captain said, Steve's a great cop. I'm sure he's got everything under control. Jesse's probably even fighting him off."

Mark smiled a little, but it was short lived. The police captain shouted orders to the other units on his radio, then threw the hand piece to the floor in order to grip the steering wheel with both hands. Mark had known the captain ever since he was appointed as such, and both he and Steve looked up to the man. Time and again, he had bent the rules in Steve's favor and let it be known that his top priority was with his men.

"The building is being surrounded. Darnell is holed up in the parking garage. You two are to remain in this car, period! Understood?"

Mark and Amanda nodded as they took in the large buildings around them. Mark had only once been this far into the warehouse district, and he had never been fond of going back. Now, as the sedan screeched to a halt amongst the dozen other police cars, Mark's main worry was over his sons. His gaze traveled towards the dark opening of the parking garage that tunneled under the massive stone building. The police cars were all parked with their noses to the entrance, like a pack of terriers driving a rodent to ground. Red and blue lights swirled silently atop of abandoned vehicles.

Mark watched as the large group of officers melted against the building and slid inside silently. Guns were drawn and hand signals flashed from one rank to the next before Mark could no longer see them in the darkness. He opened the car door and stepped out.

"Mark!" Amanda hissed. "What are you doing?"

Mark cast her a quick glance. "They need a doctor. They need me." He took a deep breath and looked at her again. "You stay here until it's safe."

Amanda scooted across the seat. "And let you have all the fun? I don't think so!"

Mark knew she would follow. "Stay close to me," he told her as she stood beside him.

Together they crept into the shadows as the police had done moment before. Mark's stomach cramped in nervousness as they pressed their backs to the wall. This would all be over in a matter of minutes and he hoped that Steve and Jesse were both alright.


"What the hell-" Darnell cursed, lowering the gun and ejecting the clip. "What kind of police officer carries a gun with no bullets?"

Jesse opened his eyes. Darnell threw the useless gun to the ground. Steve was still alive. Jesse looked his friend up and down, fearing a bullet hole but saw none. Was it possible that they had finally been smiled upon in this nightmare?

"No matter," Darnell continued, reaching inside his jacket. "I've got a spare."

A sick feeling coiled inside Jesse. There was no way that same luck could spare them twice. He watched as Darnell pulled out the clip, grinned, and shoved it back in the gun. The rest of the gang held back like weary wolves. Jesse swallowed more blood as his eyes slipped to the car. Damn light. He watched it blink three times before turning away. He felt his neck pop from the movement.

"Alright cop, game's over. Say goodbye to your buddy. You'll meet soon enough," Darnell grinned as he raised his own gun to Steve.

Jesse looked at Steve and felt tears threaten to fall. So many unspoken words traveled between them that Jesse was sure time had stopped. Mostly, there was the feeling of strong love, shared by people whose souls had connected. There was some regret, in the form of failure, and a little pain. Jesse looked deep into eyes as blue as his own and prepared to say goodbye.

"Police! Freeze!"

Jesse jumped as the loud order echoed through the garage. Quickly emerging from the shadows like angels, half of the police force trained their guns on Darnell and his thugs. The hired help dropped their weapons like they were Cotton Mouth snakes and stood stiff-shouldered, awaiting the next order. Darnell however, refused to give in so easily.

"You drop your weapons or I'll shoot him!"

Darnell remained with his back to the police, his steady aim still on Steve. Jesse looked back to the police.

"I don't think so Darnell. We've got you surrounded. Where are you going to go? You shoot him and you're a dead man."

Jesse looked back to Darnell, blinking away the unconsciousness that clouded his vision. The big bald man seemed to be thinking about his situation. For a moment, Jesse stopped breathing as Darnell's hand tightened on the gun. The entire group of police took a step forward, their hands also tightening.

Darnell seemed at war with himself. His shoulders began to shake, and soon the tremors traveled down his arms and into his once-sure aim. So suddenly that everyone in the garage flinched, Darnell threw his hands out to the side in surrender.

The officers charged forward, the tension having melted away suddenly. The dim parking garage became a flurry of activity as Darnell and his gang were handcuffed and led unceremoniously out the entrance. Jesse felt himself fall as the tension on his wrists broke away.

"Easy there," Amanda murmured and Jesse wondered how she got there. Had he really died?

Hands were on him, steadying him as he slid down the concrete to the ground. The edges of his vision were darkening again and he felt lightheaded.

"You're gonna be okay now Jess." Amanda's soothing voice came from somewhere above him and further away, shouts were directing an ambulance. He felt a hand on his chin and looked up into warm brown eyes. It wasn't a dream. They had really made it. Jesse looked over to Steve and saw Mark bent over the detective, smiling sadly and talking.

Relief washed over Jesse suddenly, easing his pain and dropping him into welcome oblivion.

The light was still blinking.



Code four to the ER, code four...

Jesse jumped. "I'm on it!" he mumbled before he was fully conscious. He started to roll over when pain shot through almost every part of him, halting his movement.

"No you're not, young man."

A gentle voice and firm hand guided him back against the mattress before Jesse finally blinked open his eyes. The beeping was coming from a familiar heart monitor parked next to his head and the voice and hand belonged to Dr. Mark Sloan. Jesse's brow furrowed in thought as he swallowed, even that small movement causing him pain. "What's-"

"You were shot and kidnapped Jess. Steve was with you. Do you remember?"

Jesse started to raise a hand and found it connected to clear IV tubing. An IV catheter was securely taped in place above his vein, feeding nutrients to his weary body. His wrist was bandaged. He let his hand fall back to his side as he looked down at his shoulder. Underneath the hospital gown, a white bandage had also been taped securely to his skin concealing the stitches he knew would be there. He sighed. He hated hospital gowns.

"Where's Steve?" he asked, wincing at the rawness in the back of this throat. His mouth was painfully dry and tasted strongly of blood. "He okay?"

A cup and straw appeared before him. "Drink slow. You know the drill," Mark's gentle voice chided. "Steve will be okay. He's getting his leg set. Would you mind a roommate?"

Jesse tried to smile but everything hurt too much. "That'd be great."

Mark put a hand over Jesse's. "You wanna play a game?"

Jesse snorted and regretted it when an invisible force pressed on his ribs. "You mean the one where I diagnose myself... and you tell me how accurate I was?"

"That'd be the one," Mark smiled and pressed a new set of numbers into the IV pump.

Jesse sighed very slowly. "Okay, uh...broken nose?" he asked and only then became aware of the stiff bandage over his nose.

"Keep going," Mark encouraged.

Jesse blinked away some tears from the bright fluorescent lights above his head. "Gunshot wound, of course," he added slowly.

"You should be a doctor," Mark teased quietly.

Jesse smiled. "Cracked ribs?"

"Three cracked, one broken."

"Punctured lung?"

Mark sighed wearily, the 'game' having lost it's humor. "Of course."

"Hey, it was a lead pipe."

Mark winced. "Sorry."

"Don't be." Jesse closed his eyes and tried to localize the pain. "Stab wound, requiring stitches."


"My lucky number." He was missing something... Jesse opened his eyes. "My hip?"

"Fractured. You were lucky." Mark's warm hand rubbed a soothing circle over Jesse's. "You're good at that game."

"I had a good teacher."

Mark held up a small zip-lock bag. "You missed one."

Jesse struggled to focus on the contents. "Aw man, my tooth?" he whined, letting his eyes slip shut.

"Don't worry, we fixed you up," Mark chuckled, leaving the bag on the bedside table.

"How's Steve, really?"

"He's got one monster of a shiner, stab wound to the shoulder, a few cracked ribs and a badly broken leg."

"Walk in the park, then."

Mark laughed and patted Jesse's arm. As if on cue, there was a knock on the door and a nurse entered the room backwards, helping to steer a gurney into the room. Jesse waited until the patient was wheeled into place before turning his head to look at the detective. "Hi-ya Steve."

Bleary eyes met Jesse's. "Hey."

"Nice cast."

"Thanks. I picked it out."

Jesse couldn't help but smile. "Can I sign it?"

"You can pay for it."

Mark stood up. "Alright kids, you'd better get your rest. Amanda is planning a nice, long visit with the both of you later and you'll need your strength. She was really worried about you two." After a moment of silence, he added, "We both were."

Steve raised his left hand and Mark held it for a moment, savoring the contact. He smiled then, and took a breath. "Okay, you go to sleep now. We'll talk later."

Mark moved to the doorway and turned off the lights, then paused for a few seconds and reassured himself that both men were indeed alive and would soon be well. Then with a smile, he shut the door and left them in the peace and quiet.

Jesse lay in the darkness for a moment, teetering at the edge of sleep before Steve's voice woke him up.



"You did good today."

"Thanks." Sleep was making it hard to form sentences but there would be plenty of time for that later.



"You're never helping me on another case ever again."