TITLE: Third time around

AUTHOR: faith-in-Faith

PARING: Bosco and Faith

RATING: PG-13

DISCLAIMER: Do not own this – at all, but I enjoy it! ;)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: OK, so I know it took forever and that most of you probably have forgotten about this one already, but real life has been a bitch and my Bosco-Faith muse have kind of abandoned me. :( So I can't tell you when the next chapter will be up, but I will finish this eventually. I promise.

CHAPTER FOUR

When I wake up it's not so dark anymore, but the curtains are tightly closed, only letting a small amount of daylight in. Faith must have closed them last night. At first I'm grateful that she still cares enough to take care of me and try to make me feel better. Maybe there's still hope for us, but then I remember that caring is a part of her nature and that she might very well be doing it on autopilot.

I carefully sit up, slowly taking my time to see how I'm doing. My vision is OK. I'm not dizzy or nauseous and the headache is almost gone. All I feel is the faint pounding – just as I usually do the day after a migraine. I wearily run my hands over my face before crawling out of bed and making my way through the apartment to look for Faith. After what happened last night, I doubt that she's still here, but she said she would be, so I still have some hope.

I find her in the living room, sitting on the couch watching TV. She looks up when she hears my footsteps approaching.

"Hi," I say softly, studying her face in an attempt to figure out how much trouble I'm in.

She doesn't look the slightest bit mad, only sad and devastated and for some reason, that's even more frightening.

"How are you feeling?"

I sit down on couch beside her. "A lot better."

She studies me for a few moments. "You look a lot better, too." She hesitates for a moment before continuing. "So you feeling OK then? No signs of the flu? I mean, you sure it was just a migraine? You're not getting sick, too?"

I carefully shake my head. "No, it was just a normal migraine."

She nods. "OK." Then, without looking at me, she stands up and grabs her purse from the coffee table. "Then I'll head out. Take care."

I quickly stand up as well and grab her wrist. "Faith, wait! You can't just leave like this. You gotta let me explain."

She doesn't try to get away but she refuses to look at me when she answers.

"What else is there to say, Bosco? Except congratulation on the great acting. You had me totally fooled. You should really consider becoming an actor instead of a cop, because you definitely have the skills for it and it's a lot less dangerous. Who knows, I might even be able to sleep every now and then if you did."

Although, her reply is kind of sarcastic, her face and voice are anything but. She looks like she's about to cry and I can't help but wonder if it's true. Is she really losing sleep over me? The thought is both touching and scary at the same time.

"I'm so sorry, Faith. I didn't want to fool you or lie to you, but you left me no choice."

The sad and devastated look is back in her eyes and this time I can't blame Fred or Miller. This is all me.

"So once again we're back to me. It's my fault."

"No, Faith, that's not what I meant. I was acting like an ass and I used bad judgment – still do – but that's not your fault. We both know I don't need you to accomplish such things. That's one of my better skills."

She closes her eyes.

"You made me question my sanity. You made me look like a traitor and you made me look bad when I confronted Swersky. You made me wish I had died that day. If this was your way of getting back at me for destroying your life when I refused to shoot for you, then you really succeeded."

"Faith…."

She shakes her head and turns around. "Don't."

"Faith, please, I'm sorry. I really am, but I couldn't act any differently at the time. I need to be a cop, Faith. That's who I am. That's all I have. If I'm not a cop, I'm nobody. I'm useless. I couldn't deal with that so I had to eliminate everyone and everything that could stop that from happening and right then you where the only threat left. And besides; I didn't lie."

She looks at me in disbelief. "You didn't lie?"

I look her straight in the eyes. "No, I qualified all by myself. I really did. What I said about practising for hours was true. I didn't lie."

"So there's nothing wrong with your eyes?"

The anguish in her eyes gives away for hope and I realize she's really losing sleep over this. I want to take her in my arms and reassure her that her worrying days are over, but I can't, because the lying days are definitely over and the truth isn't quiet that simple.

"OK, so I lied a bit."

The look in her eyes change again. This time to one of sheer terror and I hate myself for doing this to her. She takes two steps forward and collapses on the couch. With her head buried in her hands – probably to hide her tears – she whispers, "How bad, Bos? How bad?"

I swallow hard, unsure what to tell her. I don't want to scare her, but I don't want to lie to her either.

"Well, I'm not blind."

She takes her hands away from her face. "This is no joke, Bosco."

There's a hint of anger in her voice but more than anything she sounds desperate. I sit down beside her and sigh.

"I know. I'm sorry. The vision on my right eye have been blurry from time to time since I woke up, but the last year it has gotten worse and I can't see things clearly from a distance unless I close it. When I have a migraine, the vision on both eyes gets blurry when the pain increases."

"So when you aim, you can't really see what you're aiming at?"

"No."

"Oh God, Bosco."

"It's OK. I try not to use my gun much and I'd never try to shoot when my partner is in the line of fire again. I'm not that stupid."

She looks sadly at me. "You shooting someone is the least of my concerns, Bosco. To be honest, I didn't care much the last time either. I only care about you, Bos – about your safety. Can't you see that?"

I frown. "What do you mean? I'm not in danger – unless you know something I don't."

Her eyes overflow with tears. "If you can't use your gun, you're in danger as soon as you get out on patrol and if you can't see that, you're in real danger!"

I hesitate for a moment before I pull her into my embrace, not sure if she wants me to touch her or not. "Faith, don't cry. There's no need for you to worry. I'm doing fine. After all I haven't been shot in five years. That has to count for something, don't you think?"

She pulls way and dries at her tears. "Yeah, I guess – and at least you're not with me most of the time."

She speaks the last words so quietly I almost can't hear them.

"What's that's supposed to mean?"

She doesn't answer, just keeps her gaze firmly at her hands in her lap.

"Faith?"

I lift her chin so I can look at her.

She averts her eyes. "You know what I mean."

"No I don't."

"Yes you do! Every time you got shot it's because of me!"

I stare at her in disbelief. "Come on, Faith. That's not true and you know it!"

She really can't believe that, right? But her next action tells me she does, because she quickly stands up and practically whimpers out. "Yes it is!" and with that she runs for the door.

I'm able to catch up with her just before she opens it. I take hold of her arm, but she tries to break free, sobbing hysterically. I quickly put both my arms around her, holding her as tight as I can without hurting her.

"Come on, Faith. Stop it! This isn't your fault. None of the times I got shot were your fault."

"Yes, yes it was."

"No, Faith. It wasn't you."

"It was me. It's always me. I always hurt you!"

She's struggles harder to get away but I'm not about to let her out of my sight in the condition she's in right now. I have never seen her hysterical like this and it's very scary and even more so knowing it's because of me.

"Faith, calm down! You have never hurt me."

"So you would have thrown yourself in front of the machine guns even if you didn't have to save me?"

"Faith…."

She just looks at me with said eyes. I have never seen her crying this hard before, her whole face is wet with tears, and I just don't know what to say or do to comfort her.

"You should just have let me die."

I just stare at her. The thought itself is horrifying and to hear her say it out loud makes it hard to breathe.

"No, I shouldn't have."

"Yes you should. You'd have a much better life if you had."

I hug her tighter, wanting her to physically feel my love. "No I wouldn't. I wouldn't have had a life at all. If you had died that day, so would have I."

She pulls away again. "You can't be serious."

"Yes I am. You said a couple of weeks ago that you can't lose me and the same goes for me, Faith. I can't lose you. Do you really think I took four bullets for you to become a hero or to repay you for taking one for me?"

She doesn't answer me, just looks at me with big, sad eyes.

"I did it because I love you, and without you, I'd rather be dead."

"No, Bos. Don't say that," she whispers painfully.

"I mean it, Faith – every word of it."

She collapses on the couch again, then looks up and meets my eyes. Her gaze is filled with love and affection, but the fear still lingers underneath.

"Bos…."

Her tone of voice tells me she's going to start crying again and I quickly sit down and take her in my arms again.

"Shh, Faith. It's OK now."

She shakes her head. "No, it's not."

"Yes it is. Everything is fine. Neither of us is alone. We're both here. We're together."

She pulls away from me. "Yeah. But for how long?"

I smile warmly, happy to be able to tell her what she wants to hear for once – at least that's what I think I'm going to do.

"Forever. That's how it's gonna be from now on. I'm not gonna let you out of my sight one more time."

"You know that's not true, Bos."

I frown. "What do you mean?"

"Can't you see it's just a matter of time before I lose you? With your bad eyesight you can get shot anytime."

"So could you," I say defensively.

She nods. "Yeah and I don't have any problem with my eyes. You have doubled the odds against yourself, Bosco."

"Faith – "

"No, Bosco. Don't tell me there's nothing to worry about – because there is! And it's not only your eyesight that worries me. What about the migraines? How serious are they? Have you even seen a doctor about them?"

"Yes, I have. My neurologist knows everything about them."

"Everything?" she asks, eyeing me doubtfully.

I cringe slightly. Sometimes it really bothers me how well she knows me. "OK, so maybe not everything. But she knows enough."

"I don't think you're competent enough to tell what she needs or does not need to know."

I press my lips together. I don't like the way this conversation is going. I have managed to deny the escalating problems with my migraines for so long, and I'm not sure I'm ready to deal with reality just yet.

"Bos…," she says pleadingly. "I wanna know the truth. I love you and I'm scared for you."

"There's nothing to be scared of, Faith. It's just migraines."

"It didn't look like nothing to me yesterday."

I sigh and tiredly run my hand over my hair. "Really, Faith. It's no big deal. My neurologist knows about them. She gave me pills for them and told me to come back if they got worse or if I got seizures."

"And have you?"

"Have I what?"

"Gone back."

"No. Why would I? I haven't had any seizures."

"No, but the headaches are getting worse, aren't they?"

"Not worse – just more frequent."

"That's bad enough, Bos. You need to go back."

"No, Faith. I won't."

"Why?"

"Because there's simply no point. She can't help me anyway. She doesn't even know for sure why I get them. She thinks it's some kind of nerve damage from the shooting but none of the tests she ran could tell for sure. This is simply something I'll have to live with."

The guilt is back in her eyes and it kills me. I don't want her to feel guilty. I want her to feel loved. "Don't look so guilty, Faith. It's not you fault."

"Yes it is," she whispers, her voice sounding like she's crying again.

"No, Faith. It was my choice and my choice only."

She reaches out and touches my face, tenderly running her fingers over the scar. "But I don't want you to hurt because of me."

I swallow hard and tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear. "I'd rather it be me than you, Faith. I'd rather it be me."

She doesn't answer but the love I see in her gaze makes it all worth while.

"Thank you."

I smile slightly. "You're welcome,"

I lean in to kiss her but she shifts away and the moment is gone.

"Do you think your vision problems affect your headaches?"

I sigh, realizing I'm not going to get out of this. "What do you mean?"

"Maybe you strain your eyes because you can't see properly, causing yourself to get a migraine."

I shrug. "Maybe."

"Does your neurologist know about your eyesight, too?"

"No."

"You haven't told her?"

I shake my head.

"Have you told anyone about it?"

"No, not anyone who doesn't already know and all the people who once knew think it's OK now."

"I don't get it, Bosco. How did you manage to pass the medical clearance if you can't see properly?"

"I memorized the board they use for the tests."

"Bosco…."

My name comes out as a whisper. I can tell she's terrified that something is going to happen to me and it makes me feel desperate. I don't want to cause her this much pain. My goal has always been to make her feel safe, happy and loved. I guess I failed completely this time. I try to touch her but she stands up and walks away. I'm starting to fear she's going to leave but she stops halfway between the couch and the door and turns to face me.

"I can't do this, Bos. I'm sorry. I just can't."

"Do what?"

"Us. I can't have a relationship with you knowing what I know now. I can't wait at home for you, praying that you will survive the day. I can't live with that kind of fear, Bosco. I just can't. I'm sorry."

I feel a knot forming in my stomach. I'm going to lose her. I'm going to lose her over my own stupidity – again. I never learn. But I promised myself it would be different this time. This time I'm going to do it right. This time I'm going to beg.

"Please, Faith. Don't say that. We're bigger than this. We can make it work."

"Can we?"

"Yes. Yes we can," I answer eagerly.

"And when you die – then what am I supposed to do?"

"I'm not gonna die."

She just shakes her head and turns around. "I'm sorry, Bos. I can't do it. It hurts too much."

"OK, then, just leave. Run away from everything that hurts – just as you always do. But can you honestly tell me that it would hurt less to read my obituary notice in the paper, huh?"

She turns around again and the look in her eyes tells me I've won this battle. I quickly close the distance between us and pull her close to me.

I kiss the top of her head and whisper, "It's gonna be OK, Faith. I promise."

She looks up at me. "For sure?"

I nod. "For sure."

We both know I can't promise that, but right now that's what we both need to believe to survive. We stand there for a while, holding each other tightly, but then she says pleadingly, "Can't you at least make an appointment with your neurologist?"

I sigh heavily. God, that woman is stubborn!

"Faith-"

"Please, Bos – for me."

I sigh again. I realize that – unlike before – this isn't a battle I'm going to win and I have never been able to deny her anything.

"OK, Faith. I will – for you."

She smiles brightly. "Thank you!"

I return her smile and silently praying that we'll be able to find some middle ground.

TBC….