Wow, here it is. The last chapter. I never thought I would get such a response for this story, I have to say it has definitely been my favorite to write. I hope you enjoy it, this is probably the only chapter I struggled with, and I know there may be a few things left unsaid, but, I felt it ended where it needed to. Please, review, cause you all have done an awesome job.
It's been one hell of a ride. Oh, P.S how many would like this story, told in Sandy's view? It wouldnt be as big, but...
Anyway, it was just a thought. Let me know.
"Only after disaster can we be resurrected."
-Tyler Durden , Fight Club
"Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing."
-Tyler Durden, Fight Club.
Dave Harding, FBI, took her elbow and gave slivers of information as he walked her into the kitchen.
"Sandy came to us, and we've been on to John Riggotti for a long time. But he told us of the threats and we figured that one of his thugs would hurt you, or him, someway, somehow. Never in a million years did I ever think he would pull what he pulled in that courtroom."
Kirsten was violently numb as he led her into her kitchen to see the man whom last night was the only thing she wanted.
She didn't know what to think.
Or to feel.
Or how to react. Should she just run up to him like nothing ever happened?
No. She didn't think her body could run at this moment.
Her whole thought process was way out of whack at the moment. She didn't even think she could possibly think a coherent thought.
Like that one.
She knew that with each footstep would bring her closer and closer to the truth.
He was alive.
And she had never been more scared in her life.
Step. Drag foot slowly.
How do you say hello – to someone whom hours before you just said goodbye?
"Our purpose was of course to let John Riggotti think that he had killed Sandy, which would leave you and your family in the clear. We only wanted to make sure John was in prison for life with no parole and seeing as how he did what he did in front of everyone it sent him to the death penalty. We never wanted him dead. That was out of our hands, as well as his son. The Riggotti's weren't popular people."
Step. Step. Shuffle.
Seth was hugging Sandy. Dark curly hair stands out against the longer salt and pepper hair of her husband's.
Skinny lanky arms wrapped tightly around the thicker, solid body of her husbands.
Stop. Thump, thump.
Clinging would be the appropriate term. To him.
Shaggy hair, great smile, loveable Sandy.
In their kitchen.
Thump. Thump. Thumpitythumpthump.
Her wildly, erratic, beating heart skips a few times at the simple thought. Her palms are sweaty with edginess.
Her breath quickens and contracts in her chest. She feels alive for the first time in a week.
Surprisingly it's Ryan who goes to Sandy next, giving him a hug, while Kirsten watches, trembling. He winces as Ryan tightens the hug, his body sore.
Relief is evident upon his young features as he realizes that he can once again be seventeen and it isn't his responsibility anymore. He won't be failing anyone unless he fails a subject at school. He pulls back, and sighs.
Dark, frightened blue eyes meet his and it's Sandy who takes a step forward.
She takes a step back.
A small gasp escapes. Eyes dance wildly, nervously, unsure as she backs away again. Her heart pounds, her hands tremble and her mind tells her body to run.
This can't be real, can it?
It's not everyday the proclaimed dead walk among us.
She's petrified and she doesn't know how to react. It's not the first time she's been numb this week. But it is the most frightening. The most realistic, the most startling.
'No! You're DEAD!'
His flicker of a smile dances across his face and he gazes at her knowingly. He wants to reassure her, tell her it's okay that everything's fine now. He wants to tell her that this wasn't his idea and when he woke up he was in an unfamiliar hospital bed with David Harding, FBI standing over him, telling him they told his family he was dead. That will all come later.
Along with random rage blackouts.
"Kirsten, it's okay," his voice is low and oddly soothing.
She shakes her head, her rigid body trembles uncontrollably. 'No. No it's not okay. Nothing's okay. DO YOU KNOW WHAT LOSING YOU FEELS LIKE? I DIED INSIDE.'
Dave backs out of the room silently. It's a family moment. Worse comes to worse, he'll just come back tomorrow, which sounds like the best idea to him.
Once the chaos has calmed down, once the frightening shock has left most of their systems. Once they realize that he is – indeed – alive.
'Tomorrow, Sandy Cohen, I'll bring you back to life. Tomorrow we'll shock the world. Tomorrow.'
Everything can always be put off another day.
Tears run down her cheeks as she looks at him, and she doesn't know what to do. She doesn't know if she should go to him, or run out of the room. She knows what she wants to do, but actually moving her frozen body is impossible at the moment.
The word 'astound,' has new meaning.
He watches as her hands shake and as she twists them nervously, without thinking. Her teeth chatter softly as the endless amount of never ending tears drip down her now flushed cheeks and over the dark rings that have taken over her normally pale but beautiful features. Her eyes are dark and confused the blue uncharacteristically gloomy from the circles beneath her eyes.
'Get out, get out, get out, the rooms closing,' her mind is yelling what her body doesn't want to hear.
He knows one thing: If he doesn't get her now, he'll lose her forever.
Step back. Back, back, back, almost clear.
He's quick as he closes the gap quickly despite the gasp of breath that it takes to get him there, gathering her into his arms before she can run, talking softly, his low voice rumbles soothingly as he feels her arms wrap around his neck and she pulls him as close as possible.
She struggled against him, despite his gentle but firm hold upon her.
"I told you, I was never leaving you."
It's the deep rumble of his voice that gets her and she collapses against him. She sobs against him and he can feel her whole body tremble against his as her hands roam over his shoulders, his back, frantically, searching, searching for it to all be a figment of the imagination.
She won't let go.
She is terrified to let go, as if this is all a delusion and it won't be real. But the kiss pressed tightly into her temple assures her that it is. His pressure of his hands holding her too thin body against his is real. The soft sweep of his hand that traces her jaw line and tips her chin up to look him in the eyes is real. Looking into his green-blue teary eyes is real. The kiss he places softly on her lips is real.
It's soft and tender and screams, 'I love you and I'm so sorry.'
"I swear to God, Sandy, if you pull a stunt like that again I will kill you, personally, myself," she whispers through her tears.
The four of them were gathered in the family room, at various places close to Sandy. He was talking softly to the boys when she abruptly stood up, apologized, "I need a shower," and was gone.
They all understood.
The stress. The pressure. The surprise and now finally the real shock was setting in.
She had to un-heal, what had been slowly half way healed.
She had to un-say the goodbye's she had said she had to un-lock the parts of her heart that she had said would never be touched again.
It was like reopening a closed wound which had never healed correctly in the first place.
It's not everyday that the person who you just said goodbye to for the final time at their own funeral walks through the backdoor like a dream…
The shower screamed as it dropped its hot pellets of water against her chilly skin. It didn't matter that twenty minutes have gone by since she had announced she was taking this shower.
In those twenty minutes her body hasn't stopped shaking.
She doubted anything good other then a good stiff drink, which if she thought she could bypass Sandy and go get it – she would. But she didn't think she could.
Not without him touching her.
The water was beginning to go cold and she wearily stepped out, wrapping the light blue cotton cloth around her body.
She opened the door to find him walking into their bedroom and she froze, a small gasp escaping, her hand covering her mouth as if seeing him all over again is just shocking as it was downstairs.
Despite the haggard, dark circles underneath her eyes, she is simply stunning in that light blue, fluffy towel, her blond hair dark with water, her ivory pink skin has goosebumps.
He stopped dead in his tracks, the nervousness in his eyes, in his body.
He gives her a self-conscious, flicker of a smile, a hopeful smile.
"For this past week I have told myself that I would never see you walk through that door again. And now that you have, I don't know what to say, or do?" She smiles nervously at him, before the confusion gushes across the heated pink of her cheeks.
His eyes roamed her flushed body, the defensive stances she had, as if seeing a ghost for the first time. The dark rings around her hooded eyes. The look she has in her eyes, it's mysterious, and unresponsive.
He can't read her.
'Idiot. She is. You are a ghost.'
It seemed that maybe his rose's idea should have been reversed. Eleven white, 'I'm Sorry's.' One RED, 'I love you.'
He gave her a partial grin. "I can sleep on the couch," he offered quietly, his eyes sad and she watched as he dipped his head, his hair falling down, looking at the carpet and waiting for her answer.
She could see the wince he would have in minds eye if she had said no. The broken heart, the broken look in his eyes that he would carry, the unrelenting guilt that would run through his brain, forever if she would say 'No.'
"No Sandy, it's fine. You can sleep here; this is your bedroom too…"
He nodded and sighed, resuming his walk to his side of the bedroom as she quickly scanted across to hers.
She changed as quickly as possible, whether it was from nerves or the idea of being watched, she has no idea.
Sandy was slower, more sluggish; it hurt him to lift his arms up over his head. He groaned softly as the muscles were forced to stretch themselves beyond their slowly healing limits.
As she stood from her frozen perch by the closet, she could see why he ached so badly, why he moved so slowly and maybe why he didn't tell them what had happened. A covered wound covered his right shoulder, right above his heart. The skin peeking out from underneath the bandage was dark blue, green, and bruised. Another white bandage covered his lower left side, over his ribs, the bruises followed the bandage. He was pale and shaky, and his hands trembled as he tried to put on his shirt.
She winced as she watched him.
He took bullets for them. For her. For their family.
Those could have had her name on it, or Ryan's or Seth's and yet Sandy took those bullets for them.
It was his sacrifice and he would have the scars to prove it.
And Jimmy Cooper claimed that he had no idea what it was like to provide for a family.
He sighed as he gave up on trying to put the shirt on and looked up at her apologetically.
She gave him a weak smile, "I'm going to check on the boys, I'll be back."
He nodded softly.
He knew. She didn't know her place and the twenty years spent together had been blown apart because of one simple Friday.
1:43 in the morning.
Time stopped again for him, like it had been doing since he got shot in that courtroom and laid there, bleeding, and frightened out of his mind.
Frightened because he thought he would never see his family again, his wife, his sons.
Now they were frightened of him, and probably angry for thinking he put them through that on purpose.
They don't have any idea how it was to wake up in that hospital room, three days later and realize that the FBI told his family he was dead. He watched his own funeral on TV.
A chill runs up and down his spine. He hates that thought.
Settling down into the familiar bed, on the comforting familiar sheets Sandy Cohen finally drifted off to sleep for the first time in days.
"You guys okay?" Her voice is soft as she walks towards them.
They are sitting exactly as she left them, except they moved up to the couch.
"Yeah, Mom, sure right as rain," his voice is thick with sarcasm. "It's not everyday my father who is supposed to be "dead" simply creeps through the backdoor."
"I know Seth. I don't think it's his fault though; give him time, we'll get answers tomorrow. Call your grandfather though; tell him to occupy the Nana and everyone until late tomorrow okay? I think we need some time before it goes public and blows up on us."
Ryan was silent. He looked up and smiled as she passed him, her hands brushing through his hair. He couldn't help but think how badly he needed to talk to Sandy.
And how he killed someone.
He killed for Sandy because he thought Sandy was dead.
Glancing at the clock it read 1:47 in the morning.
Maybe he wouldn't say anything to Sandy. He just wants to forget it ever happened. He knows Seth won't say anything. Maybe he will just let it all go, pretend it never happened. It sounds good to him.
He sighs again and looks at Seth who is talking to his grandfather, telling him that "Mom needs some un-coddling time. Time to chill, ya know gramps?"
They all need to recover.
"John Riggotti I sentence you to six months in a minimal security prison and a fine of five-thousand dollars."
The police officer walks over.
It happens so fast.
He reaches for the gun.
Sandy looks up from shuffling his papers.
John's eyes are the eyes of a madman. Wild and burning with the excitement of the kill.
"You failed me Sanford Cohen. No one fails me."
He expected it to hurt.
He expected to feel something.
But he didn't.
The gunshots went off.
One missed his heart by inches, but still managed to hit something important.
The other buried itself in his ribs and now it hurt, it hurt to breathe.
His heart thudded loudly.
His hand automatically reaches for his shoulder and when he pulls it away it's covered in the RED thick liquid.
Suddenly his knees go out from underneath him.
He tries to grab onto the table to stop his fall but his frail hands graze the wood as he slides.
He hits the floor hard with a groan. Somehow manages to lie on his back.
Now it hurts. Pain racks through his body. An enormous amount of pain, pain the human body should never experience.
"God, it hurts," he whimpers to no one.
He can feel his blood running from his shoulder to his neck before dripping to the floor and pooling around him.
Bright lights from the courtroom stare at him. Suddenly there is a shadow.
"Jesus, Sandy. Christ." Dave Harding jumped from where he was sitting and rushed to his side.
His hands are frantic as he puts pressure on the wounds.
He weakly tries to shrug Dave's hand away, "S..s..stop, hurts."
"I got to put pressure on it buddy, Gotta have the pressure, so we can stop the bleeding."
Again he protests weakly, groaning.
"Stop. Hurts. Kirsten, please?"
Dave nodded. "Sure, Sandy, we'll get her here, okay? Just relax."
Thump, thump, thump.
So much blood.
He was covered in it.
His heart thumped wildly against his chest, missing beats here and there. With each thump of his heart, he felt the blood pump out of his body just as hard.
He couldn't breathe.
His vision blurred.
All he wanted was some air.
His hand reaches up to rest on his heated shoulder.
It was on fire. The skin was sore and tight, it hurt to move, or even attempt to move.
So were his ribs. It hurt to breathe in, it ached to breathe out.
But he would deal with it. He was alive, he was home and that was just a nightmare.
"Sandy?" Confusion, apprehension and love can be heard as she calls his name softly.
Her voice was like an angel calling to him; suddenly her cool hands were against his fiery flesh.
Calming him, bringing him back into the real world, instead of his disoriented thoughts.
He didn't even realize he was sitting up until her felt her from behind him.
He shivers as his damp skin hit the cool air.
She whispered softly, her voice soothing and relaxing as she managed to ease him to lie down.
He's trembling so hard that his teeth rattle and he runs a shaky hand through his damp hair.
In the moonlight his face is ghastly white, his eyes far away and wild, nervous, neurotic, flashing with memory and hatred.
He hates that he's dragging her down with him now, dragging her into his demons that have haunted him since that terrifying Friday. He didn't want her to know they existed, that the nightmares have plagued him ever since that fateful day.
"Talk to me, Sandy…" her voice is comforting, so soft and concerned.
He shakes his head, she can't know. She shouldn't know.
She doesn't need to know what it's like to feel your warm blood rush from your body to puddle around you and absorb to your clothes on a cold tile floor, leaving him helpless on the ground with one thought on his mind. She doesn't need to know the look that John Riggotti had in his eyes as he pulled the trigger.
Thins like that she just doesn't need to know – not yet.
Her hand runs lightly over his chest before tentatively reaching up and lying across the wound that is burning, making his skin feverish.
"Sandy…" she asks again, worry in her dark blue eyes as they search his face for a sign. She thinks that he should still be in a hospital, still in the care of nurses and doctors because the heat of the wound worries her.
He sighs softly as she runs her own hand through his dark hair, and he feels her tender kiss pressed gently against the side of his temple.
He shivers again uncontrollably.
He's freezing, his body is like ice.
He can't stop his teeth from chattering.
A soft kiss is pressed against his jaw, his temple softly.
He shakes even harder, helplessly, quivering with uncertainty.
He won't look her in the eyes; he refuses to let her see the anger and pain in them. He refuses to let her see the naked fear that undoubtedly is resting there.
She brushes the hair away before leaning up and kissing him tenderly.
"It's okay now, it was just a dream."
Except it wasn't. It was real, it happened and now it haunts like a drug that he is addicted to and yet can't stop taking.
He doesn't want this drug. He wants to be in rehab.
He nods and swallows, his adam's apple bobbing in the darkness.
Her lips find his again and he kisses her back softly at first, but she invades his senses and suddenly his heart isn't pounding because of sheer terror.
It's pounding because he missed her and now he can't get enough of her. "I missed you."
He gets a lazy grin, a sweet, tender look as she is overcome with emotions from those three tender words. "I missed you."
He moves from her lips to her jaw line, tracing it with tantalizing kisses before moving down to the soft spot by her ear and finally down her neck, hitting a spot that makes her shiver.
She shifts and allows him better access as she runs her hands through his downy hair. The thudding of his heart quiets against his chest and he feels drowsy and safe for the first time since he took the case.
She leans up and kisses his forehead, knowing full well he is exhausted, just like she is.
When she looks back down into his soulful eyes she smiles softly, a real smile, the first since Friday.
"You need sleep, Sandy."
He doesn't have to say the words, "So do you," because it shows on his face. His shaky hand reaches up and tucks a stray blond tendril behind her ear, and she closes her eyes against his touch.
He nods and mumbles the words that sound like okay but actually come out like, "Mmph."
Sleep sounds wonderful.
She pulls back and lets him get comfortable, watching as he shifts to lie on his left side, his back towards her, because it's the only way that doesn't send fire shooting through his fatigued body.
She understands and pulls the blanket up before snuggling down against him, her body molding to his like nothing ever happened.
He guides her arm around him, his hand entwining with hers as his eyes close and she can feel him sigh softly before drifting away to sleep.
She lies awake, listening to his uneven breathing; the feelings rushing through her body are unexplainable.
Never in her life has she had the immense amount of relief over the fact that he is sleeping in her arms, in their bed. Never in her life has she loved someone more then she does right now. And never in her life does she feel the hatred for David Harding and John Riggotti.
He shivers in his sleep and she presses a soft kiss to his shoulder, soothing him. Almost instantly he settles again, squeezing her hand tightly in his sleep as if unconsciously reassuring himself that she is still there.
"Goodnight sweetheart, I love you."
She watches as he smiles softly before nuzzling his shoulder and falling asleep herself, content and happy since Friday.
The doorbell rings and David Harding is standing there, shifting almost nervously under her glare.
"Mrs. Cohen," he nods softly.
She frowns as she lets him in and leads him into the living room where Sandy is resting with his eyes closed, a hand resting on the heated wound of his shoulder.
"Hey there Sandy," he talks softly to her husband.
He gives a shallow wave and David looks at him concerned. "You okay?"
He nods, "Hurts still."
"Well, it probably will for a while."
Sandy acknowledges him again with a nod.
"I just wanted to stop by, see how you're both doing, and apologize for what I did."
He watches as Kirsten sits beside him, brushes the hair away from his feverish forehead.
"YOU should be sorry," she rounds on him. "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING? PULLING THAT STUNT ON US? DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT WAS LIKE? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA THE HELL YOU PUT US THROUGH?"
Her voice is loud and angry, heated like the slow fever that was burning inside of Sandy's body.
"I'm sorry Kirsten, I had to, and it was the only way to keep all of you safe."
"You could have told us! We could have acted. God do you have any idea what YOU put us through?"
He hung his head.
"I'm tired of apologies!"
No wonder Sandy never crossed this woman.
"Is there anything I can do to make amends?"
She paused, fire in her blue eyes, her cheeks flushed, body poised ready for a fight. Her body stance was ready, Sandy could see it on her face that she would say a lot of things that she would regret later, if he pressed her anymore.
"Yes. You can make sure no one ever harms our family, because if they do, your ass will be on the line. And you can get the hell out of my house."
Sandy, despite his pain, couldn't help but smile at his wife's viciousness. Dave cast him a curious look.
"Dave, come back later, in like a month, it'll be okay then. Thank you for everything," his voice was weak and he just wanted to rest.
'Just go Dave; I'm tired of seeing your face. Go.'
Kirsten's harsh gaze followed him out.
'Don't let the door hit you on your ass on the way out!'
She turns back to him, taking note in his pale features. "Sandy, you need to rest…"
He smiles faintly at her. "Well, that went better then expected."
She grins at him, chuckling softly.
"Let's get you into bed."
He walks wearily up to their bedroom and she can feel the feverish heat coming off his slowly healing body.
He eases into bed and she turns to go before he grabs on to her wrist.
"Stay, please stay," he murmurs softly, easing onto his side. His voice soft, like a child's as he begs, his eyes pleading.
"Of course," she whispers as she eases down beside him, his shaky hand entwining with hers like his life depended on it.
She watches as he nuzzles the pillow, sighing, his body relaxing in her presence.
"I spent so much time away from you, just stay," his light fever is making him ramble and she can tell he's fighting sleep.
"Close your eyes Sandy, I'm right here. I won't leave."
She leans down and kisses his warm forehead, while his hand tightens its grip on hers.
He's asleep before his head even hits the pillow, his body exhausted and shaking. He claims that he's finally healing – being home with her and the boys.
He claims that he wouldn't sleep in the hospital, which he wouldn't cooperate until he was home because he couldn't stand the thought of the pain that she and the boys were going through.
She gave him Tylenol before she left the room to face everyone else.
The Nana's reaction was expected; she blamed it on Kirsten and it being her fault. She and Sandy spent time together, talking, realizing, talking some more, before she had to leave for New York again.
Her father's was glib, smoother then usual.
He acted almost as if he had known all along. She knew that he would do anything to protect her.
It wouldn't surprise her if he had.
Hailey's was surprised, and Jimmy's was even more shocked. For the most part they all sat down around him, everyone talking, asking questions, while taking in this new shocking information.
But they all were happy.
As she sat on the couch, her boys on either side of her, she couldn't help but smile.
Her family was slowly recovering.
And so was she.
His fever was making her anxious. It wasn't high by any means but it was still affecting him.
He woke up in the middle of the night, a scream caught in the back of his throat.
Blood, so much blood.
But then she was there, soft kisses against his cheek, his temple, anywhere that she could place him to calm him down.
He needed to see someone, a therapist.
His nightmares were frightening and they weren't getting better on their own.
She didn't know when the last time he had slept throughout the night soundly, other then last Thursday.
He settled against her, nuzzling her shoulder contently.
She could feel the erratic pace of his heart against her back.
He wasn't the same Sandy that had left them a week ago.
Six Months Later, Thursday.
"Mom? Did you get the movie? Did you bring dinner?"
"Yes Seth I did, and yes Seth I got the movie!"
Ryan walked through the door, a grin on his face. He enjoyed this family time.
Sandy appeared from the living room, a smile upon his handsome features. Therapy had helped him, and actually it had helped all of them heal. He still had the occasional nightmare, but they were nothing like they had been. The therapist had told him that it would take time to heal all of the wounds that he had.
He walked up to Kirsten giving her a kiss upon her temple, which she leaned against him.
Seth rolled his eyes, while Ryan went immediately for the takeout containers.
Losing Sandy had changed them all in certain ways.
Seth had grown up, Ryan had become a little more carefree, she, herself had slowed down upon her career to spend more time with all of them.
It was Thursday and they had designated it family night.
Thursday because it wasn't Friday and didn't hold the dread upon their thoughts when they thought of the horrible day, so long ago that had taken them to hell and back.
Thursday because it wasn't the weekend, Thursday because before RED Friday it was the last day they had all spent together before being torn apart and put back together like Humpty Dumpty.
As Seth put the DVD in the system they all settled around each other, close, enjoying the new life they had all opted for.
One where Sandy was alive, happy, healthy, the one were they were all a family.