"Mac

Ends and Beginnings

By Mady Bay – mbay@binghamton.edu

May 24, 1999

Disclaimer – I don't own any of the LA Heat characters. I believe TNT does. If only…

Ends and Beginnings

"Mac? Partner?" August called when Chase closed his eyes. "Hang in there, Mac," he added, relieved to still find a pulse.

August pressed a little harder on his shirt-turned-bandage, trying to stop the bleeding from the wound. It elicited a small groan from his wounded partner.

"August?" Chase moaned, his voice barely above a whisper.

"I'm right here, partner," he replied, holding Chase's hand again.

"She was going to move in. She was going to transfer. For me," Chase managed, crying out in pain and sorrow.

"Ssssh. Take it easy. Don't talk now," August soothed.

"For me," Chase repeated before losing consciousness.

August finally saw the backup arriving. He'd heard the sirens waling in the distance for what seemed like forever. He waved to them.

"Get that ambulance down here, now!" he shouted. "I've got an officer down!"

The officer spoke into his car's microphone before joining August at Chase's side. Once the ambulance arrived, August stepped back to give the paramedics room to tend to Chase. He watched them out of the corner of his eye as the officers showing up questioned him about what had happened. As much as he knew he had to stay and tie up the loose ends of what went down, he knew he needed to go with Chase even more. When he saw them lift Chase onto the ambulance gurney he started toward him, leaving his statement to the officer unfinished. He stopped short when he saw his partner – strapped to a backboard, cervical collar around his neck, his face covered by an oxygen mask, IV tubes snaking down to both arms and more blood soaking through the fresh white bandages. He barely recognized his partner under all the lifesaving equipment. August said yet another prayer as he climbed into the front of the ambulance and took out his cell phone.

"Captain, it's August," he said, his voice trembling.

"What's up, August," the captain responded, knowing something was wrong.

"I'm on my way to the hospital," he began.

"What happened? Is Chase alright?" Jensen asked.

"No. He's hurt. Real bad," he managed.

"I'll meet you there," Jensen said and hung up.

August put his phone away and sighed.

"Come on, partner," he whispered. "Pull through."

August met up with Captain Jensen at the emergency room entrance. Both men held their thoughts as they watched the paramedics rush Chase past them, one pumping an ambu bag furiously. Jensen saw the fear in August's eyes. He knew he'd have to wait for August to tell him what happened. After pacing around the waiting room a few times, August sat down on one of the waiting room's plastic chairs and held his head in his hands. He looked up at Jensen and sighed.

"Cole called him. Set up the meet," he began. "I followed Mac. When I got there he was under fire from Cole and two of his henchmen. Chase had already gotten hit in the arm. We split up. He went after Cole."

August stopped and sighed again. He stood up and paced.

"After I got one guy I found Cole and Mac in a stand off. By the time got down to the pier where they were, Chase was down as were Cole and his other man. Cole was dead," he finished.

Before August could say more or Jensen could question him, one of the ER doctors came into the waiting room and approached them.

"You two from LAPD?" she asked.

"Yes, that's right," Jensen answered.

"How's Chase?" August asked.

"I'm Doctor Lyons. I took care of Detective McDonald in the ER. He's on his way to surgery, now," she began, double-checking the chart in her hand. "He'd lost a lot of blood from the two gunshot wounds. The first bullet went cleanly through his upper arm. We don't expect any permanent damage there and the bleeding had already stopped. The second bullet went through his stomach and is lodged next to his spine," she continued.

"His spine?" Jensen questioned, interrupting the doctor. "Is he paralyzed?"

"I don't know," Dr. Lyons said with a sigh. "Right now our primary concern is to get the internal bleeding under control and to prevent any infection. We'll keep you informed," she added.

"Thanks," August replied, shaking the doctor's hand.

Later on, the group of people waiting for news about Chase had increased. In addition to August and Jensen, Kendra, Annie, Cragmire and even Lawson, had shown up. The entire group rose as a doctor dressed in surgical scrubs approached, concern showing on all their faces.

"How is he?" Annie asked, breaking the silence.

"He's still critical," the doctor began. "We got the bleeding stopped and his stomach repaired. We were able to remove the bullet, but there is still a lot of swelling around his spinal cord."

"Meaning?" August asked.

"Meaning that we won't know if there is any damage yet. Preliminary tests show a lack of reflexes in Detective McDonald's lower extremities. But until the swelling goes down, we won't know if it'll be a permanent condition," he replied.

"Can we see him?" Annie asked.

"Any of you family?" the doctor asked, looking at the group.

"I'm his sister," Annie replied quickly. "Our mother is flying in from Dallas as we speak," she added, ignoring the others' surprised looks.

"And I'm his partner, next closest thing," August said, putting his arm around Annie's shoulders.

"Okay. I'll bring you both up to the ICU. He should be settled in up there by now," the doctor said, pointing the way to the elevators.

When they arrived at the ICU ward, August and Annie were shown to Chase's bedside and left alone. August looked questioningly at Annie as she brushed a lock of hair off Chase's forehead.

"I don't know, August," she began. "I just felt I needed to see him. I know exactly what he was going through. I guess I figured that if he was awake, he would feel better seeing someone who knew and understood what he felt."

"You're a good friend, Annie," August said.

"Did you know that after Gary died, Chase stopped at my house every night? He brought supper with him, made sure I ate something," she said with a small chuckle. "He didn't lecture me or even talk. He didn't make me talk either. He was just there. Making sure I made it to the next day. Hell, he even cleaned my apartment."

"Chase? Cleaned your apartment? Chase?" August questioned, eyebrows raised.

"Yes, Chase," Annie replied, smiling. "I want to be there for him, too," she said, losing her smile, taking Chase's hand.

August nodded and picked up Chase's other hand.

"Hey partner," he said. "You better wake up. You've got some good company here," he added, looking at Annie.

Chase's eyes fluttered. He struggled to open them, despite the fact that it was an obvious losing battle. His mouth opened and closed as he tried to speak.

"Sssh," Annie soothed, again stroking his forehead. "It's alright now, Chase. Just sleep," she said.

"That's it, partner," August added when Chase succumbed to the darkness again.

August and Annie stayed in the room for a little while longer. August decided to see the others, let them know how Chase was doing. Annie put her head down on the bed, still holding Chase's hand.

"You've been so good to me, Chase. I only hope I can help you as much as you helped me," she whispered.

About an hour later Annie was awakened when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and saw a woman she didn't recognize. Behind the woman stood Dr. Lyons. Annie stood and was immediately embraced by the woman.

"Oh, Annie, it's so good to see you. I'm so glad you could be here with Chase," the woman said aloud. Then, whispering in Annie's ear, she said, "I'm Chase's mother. We'll talk about the adoption papers later."

She stepped back and Annie saw the humorous twinkle in Bridget's eyes. Annie was relieved that she didn't mind.

"I'm glad you're here, too, Mom," Annie said, smiling, stepping back so Bridget could get close to Chase.

Bridget leaned over and kissed Chase's forehead, brushing her hand through his hair as she did so.

"Oh, Chase. What am I going to do with you?" she asked quietly.

"Love him forever?" Annie asked.

"Oh, that's a given," Bridget replied.

The women watched as Dr. Lyons checked Chase's chart and bandages, making notes for the nurses on duty. When she left the room, Annie turned to Bridget, hands out, ready to explain herself. Bridget put her hand up and stopped her.

"No need to explain, Annie. I understand. August told me everything when I got here. And Chase has told me quiet a bit about you, as well," Bridget said.

"All good, I hope?" Annie asked, a little self-conscious.

"Oh, most definitely," she assured her new daughter, hugging her again.

The women sat trading Chase stories for the next hour or two. August returned to spell them. They'd wanted to make sure someone was with Chase at all times. At one point Annie was telling August a story Bridget had told her when a pain-filled, whispered voice broke through.

"Oh, man! Has my mother been here already?" Chase groaned questioningly.

Annie and August both laughed.

"Yeah, Mac, she's been here," August replied.

Chase opened his eyes and smiled weakly at the two.

"How are you feeling, partner?" August asked.

"It hurts like hell and I feel like I'm gonna puke," Chase replied.

"Sounds about right," Bridget spoke from the doorway.

"Hi, Mom," he said looking toward her as she approached the bed.

"Hello, darling," she replied, leaning down to give him a kiss.

"We'll leave you two alone," August said, grabbing Annie as he started to leave the room.

"We'll see you later, Chase," Annie called from the door.

"You've got some very special friends, Chase," Bridget said, sitting on the side of the bed.

He nodded, agreeing with her. Bridget caught the sadness in his eyes.

"I'm sorry about Nicole," she said, caressing his hand.

He closed his eyes and nodded again.

"August told me what happened," Bridget said quietly.

"Did he tell you everything?" he asked.

"Yes," she whispered. "He said she was going to transfer, move in with you," she added.

"It just hurts so much, Mom," he said, squeezing his eyes shut, trying to keep the tears in.

He was unsuccessful, though, and Bridget reached up and wiped them from her son's cheeks.

"I know, darling. I know," she soothed, continuing to caress his cheek until he fell asleep once again.

"Chase? You sure about this?" Captain Jensen asked, looking at his healing detective, holding up a letter in his hand.

"Yeah," he replied quietly. "It'll be easier this way."

"There's still going to be an inquiry from IA," Jensen said.

"I know," Chase replied. "And I deserve whatever I get. I went too far. At least they'll believe whatever I say, since my job won't be on the line," he added.

"I'm afraid visiting hours are over, sir," a young nurse called from the doorway, pointing to her watch.

Jensen nodded to her and picked up his coat.

"I'm going to hold onto it for a day or two," he said. "Reconsider," he added before he left the room.

As Jensen walked down the hospital corridor he pulled out his cell phone and dialed the familiar number, listened to the rings.

"Brooks," was the reply when the phone was answered.

"August, it's Jensen," he spoke.

"What's up, Captain?" the detective asked, hearing the troubled tone in his supervisor's voice.

"Chase just handed me his letter of resignation," he replied.

"What??!!" August exclaimed. "Damn! That boy's got no brains, sometimes," he muttered, swearing.

"I'm not submitting it yet," Jensen added. "I told him I was going to hold it for a few days."

"Good," Brooks replied. "I'll see if I can kick some sense into his ass by then."

"Chase? Chase, you up?" Annie called from the doorway, peeking in.

He didn't acknowledge her call, but Annie walked in anyway. She sat down and looked at him. He was staring out the window. Again. Watching the sun ease its way toward the horizon.

"Hey? Anybody home?" she called, waving her hand in front of his face.

He blinked and slowly turned his head to look at her, nodded slightly, acknowledging her, and then turned back toward the window.

"Chase, come on," she scolded. "Look at me."

"Why?" he asked.

"Because I'm a friend and deserve some attention, that's why," she replied, ready to grab his chin.

"Sorry," he apologized, turning to look at her again.

"Dr. Lyons said you're doing well. That you might get out next week," she began, hoping to get more than a one-word response from him.

"Yeah," he replied.

"Dammit, Chase!" she swore. "Talk to me!"

"About what?!" he began, defensive. "Let's see. I don't have a job. I don't have a love life. Oh! I know! It sure is a nice day out there today!" he finished sarcastically.

"Chase," Annie tried to interrupt, only to be cut off.

"Face it, Annie," he continued. "I've got nothing left.

"You didn't have to resign, you know," she retorted.

"Oh, yeah, like I'd have a job after IA got through with me," he countered. "I've been labeled as a rogue cop."

"That label's been around since you joined the force," she muttered in reply.

He took a deep breath and sighed, tried to come up with something to convince this woman that he didn't deserve her attention.

"Annie," he began. "I broke all the rules. I took Cole's challenge. I was ready to shoot him, kill him. Even though he was unarmed."

"But he WAS," she countered.

"At the time I thought he wasn't," Chase retorted quickly. "I brought myself down to his level. I was ready to murder him. Now what kind of cop is that?"

"One who had just seen the woman he loved murdered in cold blood," Annie replied. "One who was sick of the system not being able to put away a known murderer and drug dealer. IA is going to take that into account, Chase."

He didn't know what else to say to her. He didn't believe IA would care about what he was feeling, other than his need to see Cole dead.

"Chase, listen," she continued. "We've both been through this before. IA was after me, too, for trying to go after Gary's killers."

"But you didn't kill them. You had the good sense to let me and August take care of them," he argued.

"That's not the point, Chase," she countered. "The point is that you were provoked. And at the time, you thought you were doing the only thing possible."

"Oh, so I should plead temporary insanity?" he asked sarcastically, raising his eyebrows to her.

"If that's what it takes to keep your ass on the job," August replied from the doorway, overhearing the conversation.

Chase looked up at his partner, 'no, former partner,' he reminded himself.

"You, too?" he asked.

"What do you mean, 'you, too'," imitating the younger man's voice. "Of course, me, too! You're a damn good cop, McDonald. And it was a righteous shoot. You killed Cole in self defense."

"I shouldn't have gone there. And I almost got you killed, too!" he retorted, painfully turning to look out the window again, away from the friends he didn't deserve.

"But that didn't happen!" Annie argued. "You and August are one of the best team of detectives in the whole department. It's what you do best. Don't you remember why you became a police officer?"

"Mac," August began, but was interrupted by Chase.

"No! I've made my decision! Now leave me alone!" he yelled sitting up straight on the bed, an action that made him cry out in pain, doubling over as he held onto his still healing stomach wound.

"Chase!" Annie cried, going to his bedside.

"Easy there, partner," August soothed, reaching for Chase.

"Get away from me!" the injured detective cried, gasping for breath as he weakly batted their hands away.

A couple of nurses rushed into the room, having heard Chase's shouts and rushed to his side. As one helped ease Chase out of the fetal position he was in, to lie back down on the bed, the other looked at his two friends.

"I think you better leave, now," she said, giving the two looks that told them she meant business.

Annie and August nodded their heads and headed for the door.

"This isn't over, Chase," August said, looking toward his partner one last time.

Annie and August walked slowly down the corridor, upset by their friend's feelings of defeat.

"What are we going to do about him, August?" she asked.

"I don't know, Annie," he replied. "When that boy gets something in his head, it's hard to shake out."

"Do you think the fact that yesterday was Nicole's funeral had anything to do with his resignation this morning?" she asked.

"I'm sure it did," he replied with a sigh, recalling the somber event they'd attended the previous afternoon. "When's 'your mom' due back?" he asked, smiling at the woman.

Annie laughed, remembering how Bridget had 'adopted' her so willingly after her ruse to get to see Chase.

"Bridget said she should be back tomorrow morning, that the charity dinner in Dallas was this evening," she replied.

"Maybe she can talk some sense into that son of hers," August remarked.

Later that evening, Chase was staring at the television. He had no clue as to what was on, he wasn't really watching, only staring. His emotions were torn.

'What the hell am I doing? If I quit, guys like Cole, win. But I don't know if I can do it anymore. I couldn't take losing someone again. Not like Nicole,' he thought, breaking down, sobbing into his pillow as the images of Nicole's last moments rushed back to him. 'Not August, or Annie…' he thought. He thought of his friends' words to him earlier. 'They're only trying to help, but they don't know what I'm going through.'

"I can't stay here," he said aloud, pulling the covers off himself.

He painfully sat up on the bed, pulling his legs over the side. He knew he was strong enough to make it across the room to the bathroom, having done it a few times, but he didn't know if he could walk out of the hospital.

"Gotta try," he told himself as he walked to the closet.

He took the clothes his mother had brought him over to the bed, sitting down to catch his breath. In the back of his mind, he knew what he was doing was irrational - stupid, even. He was in no condition to be out on his own. He could barely walk without tiring or doubling over in pain. But he needed to talk to someone. Someone who would listen. Someone who could only have Chase's best interests in mind. He pulled out the IV from the back of his hand and placed the end into the trashcan.

"Wouldn't want to make a mess, now," he said to no one in particular.

Dressed, he headed for the door. He opened it a crack and peeked out, hoping the coast was clear, so he could get across the hall to the stairwell before being seen. After watching a nurse head into another patient's room, he made his move. Not as quickly as he had hoped, but successful, nevertheless. He leaned against the stairwell door and sighed. Then he made his slow and painful descent.

Annie was just getting her keys, ready to head to the hospital for the late visiting hours, hoping she might be able to talk some sense into Chase this time, when the phone rang.

"Hello?" she answered.

"Miss McNamara? This is Kelly Haskell, I'm nursing supervisor on your brother's floor," the caller began.

"What's happened to Chase? Is he okay?" Annie asked quickly, fear in her voice.

"He's disappeared," the nurse replied uneasily.

"Disappeared? What do you mean, disappeared?" Annie asked, starting to get angry.

"Chase left without permission. He took his clothes and snuck out. We have surveillance tapes of him leaving through the ER doors," she said.

"How could you let this happen? He could barely walk!" the forensics expert exclaimed angrily.

"Ma'am," the nurse interrupted, hoping to calm down the young woman.

"No, I'm sorry," Annie apologized quickly, shaking her head. "I know it's not your fault. With Chase, it was bound to happen. Did you call the police?" she asked.

"Yes, Miss McNamara. They said they've put an APB out on him," the woman replied.

"Okay, thank you, Miss Haskell, for calling me," Annie said before hanging up the phone.

She picked up the phone again and called August.

"August, it's Annie," she said when he answered.

"Yeah, Annie, I know," he said, hearing the worry in her voice. "Captain Jensen called me already. I'm about to head out to look for him now. You want me to pick you up?" he asked.

"No, I'll look on my own," she replied. "Think we should call his mom?" she asked.

"Not yet. No sense worrying her," the detective replied. "If he's still gone when she arrives in the morning, then we'll tell her."

"Call me," she said.

"I will," August replied.

"You okay, buddy?" the cab driver asked, looking at the pale man in his back seat.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Chase replied, voice filled with pain and exhaustion.

He did not look at the man driving, but continued to stay curled up next to the door of the cab, biting back the pain, feeling every pothole the vehicle hit. He was glad to have had his wallet with him. He remembered his mother trying to take it from him, telling him that he 'couldn't trust those hospital workers.' Good thing it had been payday the day he'd been shot, too, or he wouldn't have had the money for the two-hour cab ride.

"How much longer?" he asked through clenched teeth.

"Another forty-five minutes or so," the driver replied. "You sure you're okay?" he asked.

"Yeah," the detective replied, closing his eyes.

"August, it's Jensen," the police captain spoke into his phone.

"Yeah, Captain, anything yet?" the obviously frustrated detective asked.

"No, it's like he just disappeared off the face of the earth," he replied, equally frustrated. "We've had all the patrols looking everywhere in LA for him."

"Yeah," August responded, pinching the bridge of his nose, sighing loudly. "I've checked the beach house, the gallery, his usual hangouts. Even called a few of his ex-girlfriends."

"Quite the list," Jensen remarked with a chuckle.

"Yeah," August replied, half-smiling. "Annie and Kendra are out looking, too," he added.

"I hope he's alright," Jensen said. "Did anyone see about checking out Nicole's place in San Francisco?" he thought suddenly.

"Yeah," August told him. "I called SFPD first thing, told them to keep an eye out for him. They said they'd check Nicole's apartment and the cemetery, too."

"Okay, good," Jensen replied, satisfied. "August?" he began, not quite knowing how to ask the detective the question that had been nagging him.

But August heard the frightened tone of his captain's voice. He knew the unspoken question. He'd been asking himself the same thing.

"I don't know," he said quietly. "One week ago, I'd have said Mac was the last person in the world who'd think about killing himself. But now…. Now I don't know anymore."

Despite the cab driver's protests and worry about his final destination being dark and isolated, Chase bade him to leave, telling him that he'd call a local company for the ride back, pulling out his cell phone to show the driver for good measure. Not that the thing's battery even held a charge. He turned around slowly and walked past the big iron gates and into the cemetery.

It had been almost a year since he'd been there last. He knew the way by heart, having traveled it so often. The darkness did not deter him. After winding down the path, over the small wooden footbridge, he found the stone marker he knew so well. The moonlight reflected on the smooth surface of the stone and he was able to read the inscription. 'Chester Robert McDonald - Beloved Husband and Father.'

"Hi, Dad," he said, sinking to the ground, leaning heavily upon the marble marker.

Annie looked at her watch. Ten P.M. Chase had been gone from the hospital for almost four hours. She had pulled over to the side of the road to get her head together. She realized that she had been driving in circles, not getting anywhere, when she almost got into an accident. She looked up into the rearview mirror when she saw the headlights approach. Someone parked behind her. Putting the car back into gear, she was ready to pull away from the approaching form, when she recognized August.

"August, how'd you find me?" she asked.

"Listened to the scanner," he began. "One of the neighbors reported a suspicious vehicle driving around. I recognized the description," he finished.

Annie sighed and shook her head, saying, "At least Chase has a good neighborhood watch group."

August was about to comment when Annie's cell phone rang.

"Have you found him yet?" the feminine voice asked.

"Hi Bridget," she replied. "Um, no. We haven't found him yet," she said guiltily, looking up at August.

"I know where he is," Chase's mother said.

"What?! Where?!" Annie asked, desperate.

"Oak Grove Cemetery," the woman replied. "He visits his father there, when he needs to think things out."

Annie listened intently as Bridget gave her directions to the cemetery and to her husband's gravesite.

"We'll go there right away, and call you when we find him," the younger woman responded before turning off her phone.

She relayed the information to August and the two got into August's car and headed out of the city, dashboard light flashing brightly in the night.

"I really messed up, Dad," he began. "I got arrested. Got suspended. Then I let the bastard lure me into his trap. I almost got August killed!" he cried, tears staining his cheeks in the moonlight. "I lost Jody because of the job. I lost Nicole because of the job. I almost lost August. Why should I do it anymore? Is it worth risking people's lives for?" he asked, laughing at himself, for expecting an answer.

"Did you make a difference?" a voice in his head asked.

Chase closed his eyes and thought about his years on the police force. Remembered the dangerous criminals he'd put away, the lives he'd saved in the course of his duties. He remembered his father's own sacrifice as he saved the lives of his young son and the others in that bank all those years ago.

"Yeah," the blond detective replied, curling up on the cold, wet grass that covered his father's grave.

"Chase!"

"Chase McDonald!"

"Chase? Come on, son, wake up," the voice called.

The young detective wearily lifted his head off the ground at the sound of the familiar voice. He was cold and tired. He looked around him and vaguely remembered coming to his father's grave. He laughed to himself, thinking he'd actually heard his father calling him. Then he heard the voice again. Painfully rising to lean against the marble marker again, he saw the flashlight beam bobbing in the distance.

"Shit," he groaned, upset that his privacy had been invaded.

He tried to get up, using the headstone for leverage, but he just didn't have the strength. He collapsed back down onto the ground, doubling over and gasping for breath. He thought he heard more voices as he surrendered to the darkness.

"Sheriff Parker!" August yelled out, seeing the flashlight beam ahead of him.

The beam turned toward them and then on the detective and forensics expert next to him.

"Detective Brooks?" the sheriff called, approaching the pair.

August met the man, extended his hand to shake the sheriff's offered hand.

"You haven't found him yet?" Annie asked.

"I'm afraid I just got here," the man replied. "Got caught up on a husband and wife domestic, couldn't break free."

August nodded in understanding before asking, "Do you know where Chase's father's grave is?"

"Yeah," the sheriff replied, heading back toward the rear of the cemetery. "I worked with Robert back then. Was a pallbearer at his funeral. I see young Chase up here every year."

August and Annie followed the sheriff, carefully weaving their way between headstones and along the paths. Parker crossed a small footbridge and shone his light in front of him, on the prone form of the young detective they'd been seeking.

"Chase!" Annie cried, rushing to his side.

August joined Annie at his partner's side, helping her turn him over.

"He's freezing, August," she said, looking up at him.

"It'll be faster if we just take him in my patrol car rather than waiting for the ambulance," Parker put in. "Rural counties, you know," he added for an explanation.

The big detective nodded to the sheriff and reached down to easily gather and lift his friend into his arms.

"Let's go," he said, starting for the cemetery entrance.

Chase woke up, feeling warmer than he had before, feeling someone stroking his head, running fingers through his hair. He knew it was a woman, barely hearing her soothing words over the sound of the siren. He opened his eyes and looked up, to see that he was being cradled in Annie's arms.

"Hey," she said, worried eyes gazing down at him.

"Hi," he whispered in reply, feeling guilty as he took in her tear stained cheeks and wet lashes.

"Did you find the answers you were looking for?" she asked.

He nodded his head in reply, feeling Annie tighten her grip on him just as the sheriff's car came to a stop in front of the local clinic.

Annie and August sat in the waiting room of the small rural clinic with Sheriff Parker.

"Isn't this all too familiar," August remarked, holding the young woman's hand.

She looked up at the big detective, gave him a slight smile and a nod. A moment later, the clinic's doctor, still looking like he'd just woken up, came out of the exam room.

"Is he alright?" Annie asked, quickly rising from her seat.

"Yes," the doctor replied. "Just exhausted and dehydrated. I've got a couple of IV's going and gave him a sedative. We can let him sleep here for a couple of hours, then have him transported back to LA in the morning," he added.

"Can we see him?" August asked.

"Sure, but don't expect too much out of him," the doctor replied.

The pair followed the doctor into the exam room and were left alone. Just as Annie took Chase's hand in hers, his eyes fluttered open.

"I'm sorry," he said groggily, the evening's events and the sedative both affecting him.

"Was it worth it?" August asked.

"I'm not resigning," Chase replied. "I'm not letting the bad guys win," he added, falling asleep before he could say more.

Annie leaned down and kissed his forehead before she and August left, to head out to the waiting room once again. As the forensics expert collapsed down into a chair, August sat carefully next to her, looking at her.

"How long have you been in love with him?" he asked quietly.

She looked up quickly at him, startled by his question. Then she saw the understanding in his eyes.

"Since I met him," she replied.