Disclaimer: Las Vegas doesn't belong to me.

Not For Me

Part 1

Danny McCoy could hear sounds in his head. They were strange.

There was the frantic lub-dub-lub-dub of a heart beating too quickly. The desperate rasp and wheeze of ragged breath sucked through a dry throat. And voices. Vaguely familiar voices that sounded odd, sort of tinny and loud, yet distant, as if heard from underwater.

"You fool! Goddamn you!" Angry words, which trembled. Spoken in a coarse, deep voice. It was distorted, echoing, but Danny recognized it, a name almost on the tip of his tongue.

"Danny! Danny!" So much shouting. It hurt. It hurt his head. And his chest. His chest hurt, too.

"Danny! Oh God! No!" Mary. Her name was Mary. She was upset and frightened. It was dark, he couldn't see her tears, but he could hear them. "No! No! Oh God! No, no!"

"Somebody call an ambulance!" The coarse voice was yelling again. Demanding, but less cross now. "Mike, call an ambulance. Now!"

Fear, commotion…so many frightened voices. He knew he ought to open his eyes, find out what was going on. But it was calmer here in the darkness, drifting in the black sea. He would just rest awhile. Ed wouldn't mind if he took a break, just for a little bit.

"Danny, open your eyes! Come on, right now." Ok, maybe Ed would mind. Of course, he would.

Danny was needed on the floor. Something had happened, something terrible. It was his job to be there and sort things out. Guests were screaming, Mary was hysterical and crying. He could hear her. She was calling for him, she needed him. Mike said the paramedics were on their way. Someone mentioned a gun. Oh hell! Had someone been shot?

"Come on, kid, wake up – come back. You can do it." Ed was speaking softly and encouragingly, his rough voice unused to such gentle tones.

Danny tried. But then there was pain. It flared up without warning, a fierce blaze that started in the left side of his chest and then burnt all through him.

"Danny, please…" It was a plea. Soft and despairing. Ed never spoke like that…something terrible must have happened. Was it Delinda? Had someone hurt Delinda?

Danny fought through the pain, reaching out for the surface. He had to get there. Something had happened in the Montecito and it was his job to be there. Ed needed him. Something was wrong.

Something was wrong with him. There shouldn't be this pain. Definitely not this much. He was in agony. It felt like…like…

His eyelids finally obeyed, sliding back to give him a blurry image of cream paint and glittering lights. And a face. At least he thought it was a face, all fuzzy and moving. Or two faces…was it two? No, just the one. A familiar face. Male, weathered by the years, but strong. Paler than usual.

"Ed…" The voice was feeble and vibrated through his throat, draining his strength. Was it his?

"Oh, Danny." Ed sighed heavily and wiped a hand down his face in relief.

"Ed, wha's goin' on?" It came out a lot quieter and more slurred than he intended.

The lights were too bright, there were too many people, all moving, all making too much noise. It hurt. It hurt so bad.

"Where am I?" He tried turning his head and a crowd of people rocked before his eyes. They wore dresses, sparkly and slinky, bare legs and strappy sandals, and shirts and black pants, polished shoes. Guests. Being ushered back by Mike and Sam.

A pair of eyes met his. Mary. She was leaning against a roulette table for support, Nessa's hand on her shoulder and holding her back. Fighting away, Mary rushed over, collapsing to her knees at his side. He heard her shoes scraping against the floor. Felt the vibrations through his back.

"Danny." Her eyes were red and puffy, big round tears spilling down her cheeks. "Danny, you gotta hold on, ok? Hold on."

Danny felt her little hand slip into his and cling tightly. But he couldn't find the strength to squeeze back.

He was cold. There was a stabbing, burning pain in his chest. It was hard to breathe.

There were splashes of red on the casino's floor. A splattering of blood.

Ed was pressing something against his chest, making him groan in agony. And something hot was trickling down his side. Black spots danced across his vision.

Then it dawned on him.

He'd been shot.

There wasn't time to remember how or why, as reeling from the revelation, Danny slipped back into the darkness.

A coarse, deep voice followed him down. "Don't you even think about dying on me!"

Author's Note: What do you think? Worth continuing?