For those of you who don't know what "Doc" is; it's a show about a country doctor from Montana, Clint Cassidy, who comes to practice medicine in the big city; New York. It airs right before "Early Edition" Mon – Thurs on Pax51/ i Network . Check it out!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Daddy, can I go? Can I go, please?" Arianna asked, bursting through the office door as soon as she got home from school.

Gary and Marissa were both sitting at their desks. Marissa was at her computer and Gary was going over some paper work. Gary looked up at his enthused daughter and laughed. Marissa, too, had a smile on her face.

"Arianna, what are you talking about? Go where?" Gary asked.

"It's about school." Arianna began.

"Why, Arianna Hobson. I don't believe I've ever seen you so enthusiastic about school before." Gary teased her.

"Daddy, I'm serious. Here; look at this." She handed him an envelope that read: To the parents of Arianna Hobson.

"What is it?" Marissa asked after a moment.

"It's a letter from Arianna's school," Gary said slowly, while reading, "She, along with 9 other students has been selected to go on a six day field trip."

"Where to?" Marissa asked.

"New York City." Gary answered, looking up from the paper.

"Wow," Marissa smiled, "That's great, Arianna."

Arianna grinned, "So can I go, daddy? Please?"

"We'll have to talk about this, Arianna," Gary said, looking at her, "That's a long way to go by yourself."

"There's one more thing, daddy," Arianna added, "Mrs. Sherman wanted me to ask you if you would come along on the trip."

"Oh, honey," Gary leaned back in his chair and rubbed his temples, "You know, I would love to go with you and chaperone your trip, but I can't leave. I've got the Paper to deal with."

Arianna sighed, "I thought you might say something like that."

"Here; I'll think about it, okay, Arianna," Gary slightly relented, "I'll think about it, but I can't promise you anything, okay?"

"Okay," Arianna smiled and gave Gary a hug, "I love you, daddy."

"I love you, too." Gary replied, "Now, go do your homework, alright?"

"Yes, sir." Arianna picked up her backpack and left the room, shutting the door behind her.

"Wow," Marissa commented, after Arianna left, "New York City. Have you ever been there?"

"A day or two," Gary replied, "But that was over 15 years ago."

"Are you going to let her go?" Marissa asked him.

Gary sighed, "I don't know, Marissa. I mean, she's only 11 years old. How can I let her go off to New York?"

Marissa smiled. "You could go with her, you know."

"No, I don't think so, Marissa," Gary shook his head, "I've got responsibilities here."

"Oh, yeah like what?" Marissa asked.

"This," Gary picked up the paper and dropped it on the desk, "How can I leave Chicago for a week when I've had this coming to me every morning for the past 16 years?"

"You're doing it again, Gary." Marissa reminded him.

"Doing what?"

"You're letting that Paper run your life." Marissa answered him, "Do you know what Chuck would tell you about this trip?"

"Please; don't even tell me," Gary protested, "I think I already know, anyway."

"What?"

"He'd say to forget all about the stupid Paper for once and go to New York and have a good time." Gary shook his head.

"And you know what?" Marissa concluded, "For once, Chuck is right; its time for you to have a break. Now, go to New York with your daughter and have a good time for once."

Gary sighed in frustration and stared hard at the newspaper lying on the desk. What was he going to do?

-------------------------------------------------------

Later that evening, around 8:30, Gary stepped out of the bathroom after taking a shower. Arianna, pajama-clad, was sitting on the couch watching TV.

"Hey," Gary said, walking over to her and tapped her on the head, "Its 8:30. Don't you think it's about time for bed? It's a school day tomorrow, you know."

"Yeah, I know," Arianna sighed, switching off the television and standing up, "Good night, daddy."

"Hey, wait a minute, Arianna. Not so fast. Can we talk a minute?" Gary asked, patting the seat beside him on the couch.

"Sure; what about?" Arianna asked, sitting down beside him.

"Well, honey," Gary put his arm around his daughter's shoulders, "It's about that trip to New York."

"You don't want me to go, do you, daddy?" Arianna looked up at him.

"Its not that I don't want you to go, Arianna," Gary explained, "It's just that you're only 11-years-old and whether you realize it or not, that's kind of young to be going off by yourself."

"But, I wouldn't be by myself, daddy," Arianna said, "And besides, if you would come and be one of the cha-, the cha-"

"-Chaperone." Gary corrected her.

"Right; chaperone," Arianna nodded, "If you would come and be a chaperone, than I wouldn't be by myself."

"Arianna, you know I can't go with you. I've got to handle the Paper. But, are you sure your ready for something like this?" Gary asked his daughter, "I mean, in case you don't remember, you went to camp last summer and barely lasted a week."

"I know, daddy, but I think I can do it this time. I really do. Trust me." Arianna looked at her father with pleading eyes.

"Here, Arianna," Gary finally said, "I'll tell you what; you can go on the trip and I'll go with you if the Paper slows down enough."

"Really?" Arianna's face lit up.

"Yes, really. Now, you'd better get to bed before I change my mind."

Arianna grinned and stood. "Good night, daddy," Arianna gave Gray a hug, "And thanks."

"Good night, Arianna." Gary returned her hug.

After Arianna went to bed, Gary settled down to watch some television. But his mind wasn't on TV. He was trying to decide if he had made the right decision.

---------------------------------------------------

A week later… The day before the trip

"Meow!" Thump.

"Good morning, Chicago! It's a beautiful spring day outside, but…"

Gary turned the alarm clock off and rolled out of bed. As he stumbled to the door, he tried to wake himself up.

"Meow!"

"Alright, alright, I'm coming," Gary mumbled, "Keep your fur on!"

Gary finally made his way over to the door. When he opened it, the cat, like usual, was sitting on the Paper. Gary picked it up, came inside and shut the door. He looked at the front page and gasped.

"What's the matter, daddy?" Arianna asked tiredly. She had just woken up and was now pouring herself some orange juice.

"Arianna," Gary started, not taking his eyes off of the newspaper, "Is that position still open for the chaperone?"

"Yes; why?" She replied, taking a sip of orange juice.

Without saying a word, Gary turned the Paper around so that Arianna could see the front page. When she saw it, she gasped and nearly chocked on her drink. Instead of saying "The Chicago-Sun Times" on the front, it said, "The New York Times".

"Arianna," Gary finally said, "We're going to New York City."

--------------------------------------------------------------

The Next Day - Sunday

Gary took a look around him when he stepped of the plane in New York City the next day. He was so glad he had decided to go with Arianna. He wouldn't have wanted to have to be worrying about her constantly.

For the 83rd time that day, Gary pulled the newspaper out from his back pocket. This morning, too, he woke up to find the New York Times on his doorstep; with no tragedies in it at all.

Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted by a squeal. One of the students, a boy about 13, was pulling another girl's hair. Gary frowned and took the boy by the arm.

"Hey, kid, knock it off, would ya?" Gary scolded the troublemaker.

The boy nodded meekly and returned to silence. Arianna gave her father an encouraging smile and Gary returned it.

"This chaperone business is harder than it sounds," Gary thought, "I'm not so sure I'm going to do this again."

Eventually, the group of 10 kids and 4 adults got on a bus. Once seated, Gary pulled out the itinerary he had been given. Arianna leaned over his shoulder to read it and started laughing.

"What's so funny?" Gary asked her, curiously.

"Nothing," Arianna shook her head, "Except that I'm sure you'll find this part of the trip very interesting." She pointed to a place on the sheet of paper. It said; The New York City Times building

"Oh," Gary caught on, "Ha, ha, ha; very funny, Arianna. Actually, I was thinking that that part of the trip should be interesting. Maybe I'll figure out where this thing comes from." He picked up the newspaper and dropped it.

"I doubt it." She voiced her opinion, glancing down at the Paper.

Gary chuckled. "Okay, okay; you win." He chuckled, "Somehow I doubt I'll have this figured out 20 years from now either."

Suddenly, their conversation was interrupted by the bus driver's announcement; "Stafford Inn!"

The group all stood up, picked up their bags, and got off of the bus. When they got inside the hotel, Gary told Arianna; "Listen, you wait here with our bags and I'll go get us a room, okay?"

Arianna nodded and Gary went to the front desk to get a room. While Arianna waited, she turned to another girl on the field trip.

"What's you're name?" Arianna asked the girl. She didn't know any of the kids there because they were all from different schools.

"Rose Parker," The girl replied, "Who are you?"

"Arianna Hobson and that's my father over there; Gary Hobson," She pointed to Gary, "Did any of your parents come?"

"My mother did," She nodded her head toward a woman with shiny, blonde hair, "You see my father's job is being transferred here, so we're moving pretty soon. Mother wanted to look around for a decent place to live."

"Oh," Arianna nodded, "Have you ever been to New York City before?"

"Oh, yes, dozens of times. But, we usually stay somewhere much nicer than this." Rose looked around with a disgusted look on her face and her nose wrinkled up. Actually, it was a very nice hotel. "Oh, well," Rose sighed, "I guess I can manage. Mother's getting us a suite."

Suddenly, Gary returned. "Have you made a new friend, Ari?" He asked her, "Learn anything new?"

"Oh, yes," Arianna replied, eyeing Rose's expensive clothes, "Tons; just tons."

"Alright, come on, Arianna," Gary said, picking up his and Arianna's bags, "Let's go upstairs."

Arianna followed her father upstairs. All the meanwhile, she thought about Rose Parker. "Gosh," She thought, "You'd think her father was the king or something."

A few minutes later, they reached their room; number 165. They went in, shut the door, and Gary sat the two bags down.

Folding his arms across his chest, and leaning against the wall, Gary looked at Arianna and said; "Come on, Arianna; spill it. What's bothering you?"

"What do you mean?" Arianna tried to play innocent, but it was all in vain.

"Oh, come on, Ari, I'm your father. I think I know when something's bothering my own daughter," Gary said, "Now, what is it? You've been acting strange ever since I came back from getting us a room."

"Why are some people such snobs?" Arianna exhaled loudly and sat down on the side of one of the two beds.

"W-hoa; wait a minute, Arianna." Gary stopped her, "Who are you calling a snob?"

"Never mind," Arianna shook her head, "Just forget I even said anything."

"No, no, no; tell me what's bothering you."

"It's that Rose Parker." The girl explained, "She's rich and spoiled! You should hear her talk; 'I've stayed in much nicer hotels than this one, but I guess I'll make do. At least mother's getting us a suite'."

"I don't know why some people are like that, Arianna," Gary sat down beside her and ran his fingers through his hair, "Some people, they, they just don't have much of an appreciation for life. They take everything for granted."

"But, what are you supposed to do when somebody like that is getting on your nerves?" Arianna asked.

"Just let her go, Arianna," Gary advised his daughter, "Ignore what she says and try not to let it bother you. If you don't, it'll ruin your trip."

Arianna gave a small smile, "I guess your right. We're here to have a good time and I'm not going to let Rose Parker or anybody else, spoil it for me."

Gary patted her on the back. "That's my girl. Now," He stood up and opened one of the dresser drawers, "What do say we unpack?"

Arianna smiled. She was glad her father had been able to come.

-------------------------------------------------------

Arianna and Gary both gazed up at the huge dinosaur skeleton in front of them. It was the next day and the group was at a dinosaur museum.

"Gosh," Arianna whispered, "It's huge!"

Gary nodded in agreement. It was huge. He found it hard to believe that such a massive creature once walked the earth; but it did.

Suddenly, he noticed the troublemaker from the day before, Jared, causing problems. Again, Gary frowned. This one was trouble. He took the boy by the arm and walked with him as the group moved on.

As the group moved away to another room, Arianna continued to stare at the giant T-rex in front of her. It was so tall! She wondered how tall it really was.

"How old do you think it is, daddy?" She asked, continuing to stare at the dinosaur, "Daddy?" She turned around and that's when she noticed the group was gone.

"Now, which way did we come from and which way did they go?'" She asked herself. The room she was in was shaped like a circle and had about four different exits. Finally, she decided on one and went that way.

She walked into that room and noticed a group of kids looking at some dinosaur teeth in a display case. At first she thought it was her group, but when she got closer, she realized that it wasn't. But she was curious and went to go look at the teeth.

"Hi," A boy next to her said, "Who are you?"

Arianna turned to face him. The boy was had dark hair and dark eyes. He was about her height and he looked to be about 11-years-old.

"Arianna Hobson," She replied, "You?"

"I'm Raul Garcia. Do you live around here?" He asked. He didn't think she did because she had a slight accent, but he decided to ask her anyway.

"No, I'm from Chicago." Arianna explained, "I'm on a class trip, but I kinda got separated from my group. Have you seen them?"

"Uh, I might have," Raul slightly nodded, "Was there four adults leading them; 2 guys and 2 ladies?"

"Yeah, that was them," Arianna nodded excitedly, "Which way did they go?"

"Well, it was a few minutes ago and at a totally different exhibit," He explained, "I'm not sure you could find them on your own. I'll go with you if you'd like."

"Well, that'd be great, Raul," Arianna accepted, relieved. She hadn't been so sure she could find them, "But would your teacher mind?" She pointed to the auburn woman who was busy talking about teeth.

"She won't mind. It's for a good cause. Besides," He added, "She probably won't even know I'm gone. I'll be back in just a few minutes."

"Okay," Arianna gave in, "If you're sure."

"I'm sure. Let's go."

Arianna followed Raul through several more rooms, while looking for her group.

-------------------------------------------------------

It was about fifteen minutes since they had left the T-rex and Arianna's group was looking at paintings of dinosaurs. Nobody, including Gary, seemed to notice that Arianna wasn't with them.

Out of habit, Gary glanced from the paintings down at the Paper and what he read shocked him. It said that there was going to be a major fire at Stanley's Dinosaur Museum; the museum he was in at that very moment! Franticly, Gary turned around.

"Arianna," Gary started, "Did yo-" Slowly, he turned around and noticed that his daughter was no where to be seen.

"Oh, no," He whispered under his breath.

Quickly, he let one of the other chaperones know that he was leaving, but would be back in just a few minutes; and that he needed to find Arianna.

As fast as he could without running, he headed for the back of the building; where the Paper said the fire would start.

He got there about ten minutes later, but there was no sign of the fire. Quickly, he scanned the article again. He was at the right place at the right time, but there was no fire.

"Okay, what's going on here?" He asked himself, as if he would get an answer.

Knowing that he had to do something, he acted quickly and pulled the red fire alarm on the wall beside him.

"Now," He thought, "Where is my daughter?"

-------------------------------------------------------

"I appreciate your help, Raul," Arianna said after about 10 – 15 minutes of searching, "but you should probably get back to your class. You might get in trouble. I'm sure I'll find the group. They won't leave without me. My father's with them and I'm sure he knows I'm gone now."

"Just the same," Raul said, "I'll go with you. I want to make sure you find your dad, Arianna. Don't worry about me; I'll be fine. And I'm not missing anything. I've been here lots of times."

Arianna smiled. "Thanks."

Suddenly there was a loud ringing sound throughout the building.

"What's that?" Arianna asked, startled.

"It's the fire alarm," Raul replied hastily, "Come on!"

-------------------------------------------------------

Gary franticly ran through the building, looking for Arianna. He now smelled the smoke and he knew there was a fire somewhere; that' snot what worried him. What worried him was that he didn't know where his daughter was through all of this.

He then saw firefighters rushing past him. They were heading towards the fire and Gary had no doubt that things would turn out fine now. But, he continued to look for Arianna. It had been at least a half hour since he had noticed she was gone; and who knows how long she was gone before he had noticed?

"Hold it right there, mister," An African-American man in a police uniform said, "I need to talk to you."

"Is, is something wr-wrong, of-officer?" Gary stammered. He had a feeling he knew what was coming.

"I hope not," The officer said, "But I've asked around and people tell me that you pulled the fire alarm. Is that true?"

"W-well, yes, officer," Gary admitted, "But y-you see, I had g-good reason to."

"I'm sure you did," The officer replied, "But I still want to talk with you. Come with me please."

Gary let out an exasperated breath and followed the officer to the second floor of the museum. He remembered going through this fire alarm business before; 15 years ago.

"Take a seat." The officer motioned for Gary to sit down.

They were the only ones in the upstairs hallway. Gary wished the officer, who he now knew his name was Nate Jackson, would have chosen to sit downstairs. Instead, Officer Jackson chose to sit upstairs… right next to the banister overlooking the second floor.

Gary tried not to look down, but he found it quite difficult. He eventually turned his attention to Officer Jackson.

"You pulled that fire alarm way before that fire started, Mr. Hobson," Officer Jackson commented, "Now, tell me; how did you know that there was going to be a fire?"

"Instinct."

"Instinct?" Officer Jackson asked, with one eyebrow raised.

"Ye-yes; in-instinct," Gary stuttered, "And besides that, I thought I smelled a bit of smoke."

"Mmm-hmm," The officer nodded slowly.

-------------------------------------------------------

Arianna and Raul were running through the building, heading for the exit, when suddenly Arianna slid to a stop.

"Look," She exclaimed as she pointed, "Firefighters; and they've put out the fire!"

"Hey," Raul stopped too, "That wasn't a very big fire at all. Come on, let's go check it out."

They walked over towards the small, damaged area of the building, but a man carrying yellow CAUTION tape stopped them.

"Sorry, kids," The man said, "This part of the building is off limits."

The kids turned away and started to head up stairs. When they reached the top, they both stopped dead in there tracks.

"Daddy!" Arianna exclaimed.

"Nate!" Raul said at the same time.

Arianna ran over to Gary and gave him a big hug. Suddenly she looked down. Like her father, Arianna hated heights and quickly stepped away.

Gary managed a small chuckle, "It's alright, honey; just stand over there."

"Wait a minute," Officer Jackson said, confused, "You two know each other?"

Gary stood up and put his arm around Arianna's shoulders. "Officer Jackson," He said, "This is my daughter, Arianna. We were here today on a school field trip."

"And you know him?" Arianna asked Raul, while pointing to Officer Jackson.

"Uh, yeah," Raul nodded, "He's my dad."

"Okay," Officer Jackson nodded, "Now that we're all acquainted, let's finish discussing this fire alarm business."

"Listen, Officer Jackson," Gary said, "I, I just managed to pull the alarm at a very good time. Could we, uh, just let this go; just this once? Please?"

Officer Jackson closed his notebook. "Alright," He said, "But just this once."

"Thank you, Officer Jackson," Gary said, relieved, as he backed away from the group, "Thank you very – "

"Daddy!" Arianna screamed, "Look out!"

It was too late. In his haste to get away from Officer Jackson as quickly as possible, Gary had fallen over the banister and onto the carpeted floor below.

-------------------------------------------------------

Arianna ran down the stairs as fast as she could with Nate Jackson and Raul right behind her. When she reached the bottom she could see her father lying motionless on the hard floor.

Arianna ran to the unconscious man and knelt down beside him. She took his hand and held it tightly in her own and began crying.

"Daddy, wake up," She cried, "Please wake up."

As she looked upon her father's peaceful face, she was vaguely aware of Nate calling for an ambulance and him saying into the phone, "Well, he's got a pulse, but it's weak; very weak."

About ten minutes later, paramedics rushed inside with a gurney. Slowly and carefully, they put Gary on it and wheeled him into the ambulance.

As Arianna watched, she suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned around and looked up into the face of Nate Jackson.

"Come on," He offered, "Raul and I'll take you to the hospital."

Numbly, Arianna followed the man and boy to the car. She settled down in the back seat and wasn't even aware of he surrounds as they drove off.

How could this happen? Was it really true? She just wanted to wake up and find it all a nightmare.

"It's all my fault/" She blamed herself, "If I hadn't asked daddy to come with me, we wouldn't be in this mess."

Now, she wasn't only feeling frightened, but she was feeling guilt like she had never felt before. Never had she felt this way in her entire eleven years.

"We're here." Nate announced, pulling into a parking lot fifteen minutes later.

For the first time since she had climbed in the car, Arianna took her eyes off of the floor. When she looked up, she saw a hospital and a sign that read; Westbury Clinic

Still in complete shock, Arianna climbed out of the car and followed Nate and Raul into the hospital waiting room. There was a woman at the desk and Nate told Arianna that her name was Tippy.

"Wh-when can I s-see my fa-father?" she asked Nate quietly.

"The doctors are with him right now, Arianna," He informed her, "They'll let us know when you can go in."

Arianna then managed to ask the question that had been on her mind for sometime, "Is, will, is gonna be al-alright?"

Nate sighed, "I don't really have an answer to that question, Arianna," He admitted, "But when the doctor comes out, you can ask him anything you want."

Arianna just wanted to scream. She couldn't stand the fact that her father could be breathing his last at that very moment. And it tore her apart to realize that if she hadn't asked him to come with her, than none of that would have happened. She racked her brain to think of someway she could erase all that had happened, but she knew deep down inside that nothing could change what had happened. She knew first hand that you can only change something that was going to happen; if you knew it was going to happen, that is.

Arianna sat in that chair for what seemed like hours. She stared down hard at one spot on the floor until everything else disappeared; voices, people, the entire hospital… everything, but the pang of guilt she had in her heart and the knot of fear in her stomach. Nothing she tried could even start ease to heal the feelings.

Just then, she heard an unfamiliar voice speak to her; "Arianna Hobson?"

She looked up from the spot on the floor and into the face of a man she had never seen before. He had on jeans, a button-down shirt, and cowboy boots. "Y-y-yes?" She managed to reply.

"My name's Dr. Clint Cassidy," The man introduced himself. Arianna noticed right away that he had an accent, but she couldn't exactly say where he was from "I've been treatin' your father."

"Is, is he going to be al-alright?" Part of the girl didn't want to hear the answer to the question, the other part was screaming out to know what would happen.

"Could we discuss this in my office?" The doctor offered, "I think it would be a little more private." He nodded his head towards the other people in the room.

Arianna nodded. Then she stood up and slowly followed the man into his office. Once inside and leaving the door opened, Dr. Cassidy pulled out a chair.

"Here," He offered, "Take a seat."

Arianna obeyed and took a seat across the desk from the doctor. Nervously, she clutched the arms of the chair. She was afraid of what the doctor was going to tell her.

"Arianna," He began by asking a question, "How old are you?"

"Eleven and a ½." She whispered, quietly.

Clint closed his eyes in complete dread. Oh, God! How was he supposed to tell an 11-year-old that her father might not live to say another word to her? Or that even if he did, he might be brain-dead?

"Arianna," Clint began to explain Gary's position the best he could to the girl, "By the time your father got here, he had been without air for several minutes. We have managed to get him stabilized though. He is in a deep coma. He has some badly bruised ribs, and one broken arm. But, those should be as good as new in a few weeks. I'm surprised really; it could have been a lot worse… he could've broken his neck."

"Wh-when will h-he wake up?" Arianna managed to ask.

Clint sighed, and leaned forward across his desk. "I can't promise you he will wake up, Arianna," He admitted, "Some people wake up and do just fine. Other people, well… some of them never wake up."

"Do, do you think he w-will wake up, Dr. Cassidy?" Arianna asked hopefully.

"It's too early to tell," The man told her, "We'll keep a close watch on him and will let ya know of any change."

Arianna was suddenly aware of hot tears stinging her eyes and threatening to spill down her cheeks. She wouldn't cry. She would not cry! Not in front of everybody.

As Clint watched the girl, his heart ached for her. To tell a little girl that her father was asleep and there was a chance he wouldn't wake up again; that was terrible. He could see the tears in her eyes that she tried to hold back and hide. He wished there was something he could do, or, or say to fix things; at least make them better, but he couldn't. There wasn't anything that he could do and that pained him terribly.

"Nate tells me you're from Chicago, Arianna," Clint said after a moment, "Did your mother come to New York with you and your dad?"

"I, I don't ha-have a mother," Arianna said, barely above a whisper; not quite looking him in the eye, "She, she died."

"I'm very sorry."

"Its, its alright," Arianna took a deep breath and said, "It happened a long time ago. I was just a baby."

Clint didn't know what to say now; nor did he know what to do. The child's father was unconscious and her mother was dead. She had no one to take care of her.

"Arianna, do ya have any relatives in the area?" He asked.

Arianna shook her head, "Just my grandparents in Indiana, but they left for a cruise two days ago. Um, do you think that I could, maybe, see my father? Please? Just for a few minutes?"

Clint nodded, "Sure. Come with me and I'll show you where he's at."

Arianna followed Clint out of the office and down the hall. He stopped outside Gary's door and Arianna did the same. She wasn't so sure she wanted to see her father in that condition; asleep in a hospital bed and unable for anyone to wake him up. She had seen him in the hospital before, of course; looking much worse than he would now. You would think it would come to the point where it didn't bother you as much, but that wasn't the case. It did bother her, and for a moment she was afraid to go in.

"Are ya ready?" Clint interrupted her, gently.

Bracing herself, Arianna took a deep breath and nodded. "Yes, I, I'm ready."

The doctor led her into the room and what Arianna saw is what looked like her father peacefully taking a nap; that and the fact that one of his arms were in a sling.

Arianna sank into a chair beside the bed, still holding back the tears that so desperately wanted to pour out and empty all of the terrible feelings that were building up inside her.

"Can, can he hear me, Dr. Cassidy?" She asked, taking her father's good hand in her own.

"Some people say that people can hear when he's in a coma," Clint pointed out, "I, for one, happen to believe it's true. You can talk to him if you'd like. He can't answer ya back, but I'm sure it would do him a lot of good to hear your voice."

"Do you really think so?" Arianna asked hopefully.

"I really do." The doctor nodded.

Arianna managed a small smile.

"Now, if you could excuse me," He said, "I've got some things I need to take care of, but I'll be back to check up on both of you in a little bit. In the meantime, why don't you stay here with your dad?"

Arianna nodded and Dr. Cassidy left the room.

"Daddy," Arianna said after Clint left the room, "I know you can't talk to me back, but Dr. Cassidy says that you can hear me. So, I'll just do all the talking. You don't have to worry at all about the Paper. I'll take care of it all! Everything will be fine. Y-you just rest up," The tears began to build up again as Arianna's voice broke, "You've g-got to get well, so th-that we can go b-back home! You've just got to! I've l-l-lost my mother al-already. I can't l-l-lose you too, d-daddy. You, you're e-everything to me. Please, please g-get better!"

With that, Arianna laid her head on Gary's bed and wept.

-------------------------------------------------------