A Son's Choice

Chapter Eight

Three months later…

The soft breeze blew about her, calming her as she sat on the bench, her sights on the horizon, her thoughts on him. In a day that was filled with one scene after another, the oppressive heat draining her of all the strength she had, Calleigh now found herself a serene moment miles from the blaring horns, the yellow crime scene tape, and the relentless rays of the sun, her thoughts now in concert with her heart. The past three months had been hard to weather, but with the support of others, especially a mending Alexx, Calleigh was able to put one foot in front of the other and continue down the road laid before her.

Pulling the errant strands of hair away from her face, she sighed as her thoughts treaded on the past, namely three months ago when her life changed completely. The morning of the procedure was quiet, filled with recounts of time lost and promises of time yet to spend with each other. She remembered easily how as the hands of time ticked against them, her doubts growing with every second passed. The despair grew as the time trudged along, only to give way to good news of Alexx's success. The memory of the attempt at happiness wore thin on her now and she shook her head lightly, chastising herself for not allowing the situation time enough to process. Her worries lay with where her heart was and as she inhaled, the sharp memory of that moment assaulted her, bringing tears anew, hearing the voices as clear as she did that day.

"Calleigh…there's been…a complication…"

"Is…is he gone?"

" Everything was fine…he started to hemorrhage when we were stitching him up. The bleeding got away…we did what we could."

Calleigh could feel the strong arms of Horatio hold her up as she faltered, the news tearing at her heart. Looking upon the young surgeon, she asked desperately, "Is Tim dead?"

Running a hand over his face, Dr. Sotherland sighed heavily, "No…but it's touch and go. We finally got the bleeding under control, he's gotta get a transfusion to replace the blood lost. He's going to need time to recover…"

For a moment, Calleigh hadn't heard the words that would eventually bring her back from the precipice of despair, but as his expression cleared, she remembered the smile that eventually came with the confirmation that Tim hadn't died. Even now, she managed to smile as she wiped the tears, knowing that what followed was three months of recovering and the beginning of grueling physical therapy sessions that tested the true mettle of the young CSI.

The thought of his physical therapy sessions brought her out of her reverie and she glanced at her watch, cursing herself for staying too long. The moment of solitude had refreshed her, and now she could go to him recharged and ready to help as much as she could. Gathering her bag and the two water bottles she always brought with her, she made her way into the hospital, her destination the outpatient therapy cove. She was steeling herself for what she would encounter, but still the same, she was happy that she was visiting him during physical therapy instead of visiting his tombstone.

Pushing through the double doors, she glanced to the service desk and waved to the nurse who gave her a small smile and nodded, giving her the permission to proceed. Calleigh gave her a responding smile and continued on to the back, pausing to hear his unmistakable bellow of pain, exhaling heavily. Usually, she would provide him with all the moral support he needed, but on occasion, she willingly pitched in wherever she was needed.

"Son of a bitch!" he groaned as she pushed through the doors. Their eyes met and for a second, Tim forgot about the oppressive pain in his legs and smiled uneasily, gesturing with his eyes, "If…you…wait…right there, Brutus…will be done torturing…me."

Chuckling as he shook his head, Bruce looked to Calleigh and offered, "Don't mind him, he's looking for pity. How are you doing today, Calleigh?"

"Pity? You're working me…to the bone," Tim breathed out as he leaned against the forearm crutches. Moving slightly, he swung his braced legs in front of him, gesturing toward the bench, "If Bruce will allow me time for a break, we can talk about your day."

Holding on to the gait belt, Bruce relented and helped him to bench, setting him down slowly, "A ten minute break sounds about right. Maybe with your girl here, you'll show her what you've been working on, Speed?"

Calleigh arched a brow and came to rest next to Tim as he slipped his arms out of the cuffs, handing him bottled water, "And just what you have been working on, Speed?"

Relaxing, Tim moved his left leg first and then his right, trying to get comfortable. Juggling the bottle in his hands, he twisted the cap off and took a swig, the coolness coursing through his body, refreshing him. After drinking, he eyed Calleigh almost hungrily the gratitude and lust fusing together. Even though he was exhausted, there was something about her presence that infused him with energy to get the job done. The tone of her voice coupled with the slight southern drawl nearly drove him out of his mind with need, but there was a time and place for everything.

Once he gained his breath, he nodded and grimaced against the slight tremors of pain that now ran down his legs, the result of working them almost to the breaking point. When the feeling began to come back into his legs, Tim was adamant about starting physical therapy, knowing the quicker he got to work, the quicker he could start down the path of complete recovery. He wasn't going to fool himself into thinking that physical therapy was going to be the absolute cure- he squared with the fact that he would probably have to walk with a cane and a limp for the rest of his life. The defining point, however, was that he was going to walk.

"Just strengthening my gait. Bruce has been helping me do laps. He says that I shouldn't push myself; I say I'm not pushing hard enough. I have a goal that I want to reach."

Calleigh knew the goal all too well and sighed, reaching to run her fingers through his hair, "Tim, you really shouldn't over do it. I'm sure she'll understand if you're not ready when she's released. All that matters to her is that you're alive. You gave us a scare for a moment there."

Tim remembered grimly the days after the transplant how one thing after the other hit him. The near fatal hemorrhage that nearly took his life wasn't the end of his perilous journey, there was also a small infection that ran rampant through his body for days, taking him again to the precipice of death. When he emerged from his fever induced state, he saw that she still stood beside him and that more than anything was enough to solidify her place within his life.

Grabbing her hand, he squeezed it, "I know, but…I kinda made a promise to her that once she came out of rehabilitation, that I would walk to her. I want to walk to her, Calleigh. I don't want her to see me in a wheelchair; she's got enough to worry about."

Calleigh dropped her hand to cup his cheek, enjoying the feeling of the light stubble that was now residing there and smiled, "Well, I suppose if you're determined to walk to Alexx when she gets out of rehab, you should probably get back to work, huh?"

A small groan followed by a chuckle left his lips and he took her hand in his, bringing it to his lips to kiss it. Gazing into her bejeweled eyes, he saw the evidence of love and affection that he was astonished he'd never seen before.

Slipping a strand of hair away from her eyes, he promised, "When we get home, I'll cook you dinner and you can relax. You look as if you've had a day."

The truth was evident in the small sigh she released and she nodded slightly, "It has been one of those days, but I'm not going to bore you with the details. AND, I'm going to help you cook. You've had a busy day yourself, mister."

Tim placed the bottle down and moved his legs into position, nodding for Bruce, readying himself once more for work, "You will never bore me, and for the record, I live for details." Positioning the crutches, he slipped his arms through the cuffs and then took a deep breath as Bruce held on to him, helping him up, "Want to walk with me?"

Calleigh stood and smoothed herself out, the bright smile coming despite the exhaustion and nodded, "Sure, and I promise, no pity for you. You've got a goal to make."

"And I'm going to make it," Tim declared as he grunted, taking that first step. Feeling her by his side, he was just that more determined to make good on his promise, a promise to them both.