(After a name change of my main character, and a lot of additions, I'm resubmitting it. All the standard disclaimers apply.)
"Dr. Sheppard? Can you hear me?"
In the dark place she'd fallen into, Tamarah Sheppard opened her eyes. When she did, she winced at the bright light that seemed to want to dig its way into her skull. It faded after a moment and then she saw the faces. Strangers who were looking at her with some concern. Then she began to feel the pain. Radiating down her arm, it was bad enough that her fingers hurt. A moment after that came the memory of what happened. She'd been on her way into Bangor when a tow truck broadsided the taxi she'd been in. Thanks to her seatbelt she hadn't been ejected from the car, but her arm had been crushed somehow when it had flipped over.
"I can hear you." She said, surprised by how weak and small her voice sounded. "Where am I?"
"You're at the hospital." One of the strangers said as the rest moved out of her line of sight. The stranger's face sharpened and became an older woman who helped her sit up. She saw that she was in a hospital exam room and a cast covered her hand and forearm. When she looked at it, the nurse explained. "You broke your hand and your arm in the accident. A few weeks in a cast and you'll be fine though. How do you feel?"
"Sore." She said after a moment, pinching her nose between her fingers. "But ok."
"Good. I'll get you some medication for the pain. You just rest." The nurse, whose name was Florence according to the white nametag she wore, patted her leg. "I'll be back."
Tamarah nodded, laying back onto the thin pillow on the stretcher and taking a deep breath. Not exactly the most stellar way to start her time in Bangor. Letting her eyes close, she almost fell asleep when two gunshots drove her back to conciousness. Sitting up a little, she saw a wild looking man holding Florence around the throat with a gun pointed at a security guard. Moving from her stretcher, she crouched below the window as she crawled towards the swinging door to her room. Nudging it open, she saw frightened employees and paitents laying on the floor and the security guard pointing a gun at the man holding Florence.
"You let her die!" The man said, the gun shaking as he spoke. "You people all let her die."
"We didn't mean to." Florence said, tears sliding down he cheeks. "We didn't let her die."
The obvious question Tamarah had was who, followed by the why of it all. It was a question she had answered when a tall blonde man came into view. Stepping in front of the security guard, he held out both hands to the man holding Florence.
"She was too far gone when they found her Ryan." The man said, clearly intent on the man he was speaking to. "This isn't their fault. They tried. Florence sat with her...held her hand until she died. It's no one's fault. It was an accident."
"She was my baby. She was all I had." Ryan's voice broke with emotion and Tamarah felt her heart ache at the sight of his honest agony. "And now she's dead! If that taxi hadn't..."
Then Tamarah understood. Whoever had died had been killed by the taxi she'd been in, and that someone had been a child. Rising to her feet, she stepped out into the hallway. Walking towards the man named Ryan, she smiled at him when he looked her way.
"I was in the taxi." She flinched as the gun was pointed her way, and she saw the blonde man move to try and help her. When she shook her head, he paused and she continued to speak. "We were hit by a tow truck. The driver...he didn't have any brakes. I remember that before it flipped. He didn't mean to hit your little girl. Please believe me."
As she'd been speaking, a police officer had been coming towards Ryan and grabbed at his hand that held the gun. When it fired, she felt the sting of something near her cheek and her heart nearly stop with a rush of pure fear. It took her a moment to open her eyes, though she wasn't honestly sure when she'd closed them, and see that Ryan was on the floor being handcuffed and other officers standing watch. The blonde man was standing in front of her and she felt his hand on hers.
"You ok?" He asked, and when she didn't answer right away he spoke again. "You did the right thing. You did."
"Thank you." She said, nodding as she took a deep breath. "Are you a police officer?"
"No." He chuckled. "I'm...I guess I'm just an interested party. John Smith."
"Tamarah Sheppard." Moving to a stretcher in the hall, she sat on the edge of it. Taking another breath, she felt like her heart was going to beat out of her chest. She felt John watching her and looked up into blue eyes that seemed to be aware of her in ways she didn't fully understand. "Did I do something wrong?"
"No, not at all." He said after a moment, offering her another smile. "It was nice to meet you."
He hadn't expected to touch the woman he'd seen in his vision, but in the car on the way home from the hospital he couldn't escape what he'd seen. Tamarah Sheppard had saved more than just the nurse's life today. She'd saved his. If she hadn't come out of the hospital room, he'd have been shot and killed as the police had struggled for the gun. Another accident, but this time with far more personal consequences. Of course, then there was the fact she was absolutely beautiful. While she'd obviously been in a car accident, and was covered in dirt and who knew what else...he'd seen her in a flash from what he suspected was the future. Her arm was in the cast, and she was wearing a sleeveless dress made of some burgundy fabric. Twirling in a slow circle, she was laughing with her head turned up to a fall night sky.
"I saw you talking to that girl." Bruce said, startling him from his thoughts. "Did you get her name?"
"Tamarah Sheppard." It was a name he'd remember, even if he wasn't sure he'd see her again. When he saw Bruce grinning in the darkness, he looked more directly at him. "What?"
"You know her name without even thinking about it. I'd imagine you even remember the color of her eyes." When he sighed, Bruce laughed. "She was fine man. No shame in it. You did your hero thing and now you remember one of the people you helped like she was your lifelong friend. You know what this means don't you?"
"No, but I'd imagine you're going to tell me." Adjusting his hands on the steering wheel as they stopped at the light, he waited and was proven right a moment later.
"Find out about her. Figure out a way to see her again."
"That's not how it works Bruce. You know that. I don't help people to get a date." Pulling away from the light, he headed back to his house and they were back inside before Bruce said anything more.
"Who'd you have the vision about? That Ryan guy, right? That girl...Tamarah...she wasn't the central part of it. So, I'd imagine in the great scheme of things it means you should at least think about it." Bruce said. "I've got to get going man. See you tomorrow?"
"Yeah." Johnny nodded, looking out the window into the back yard of his house. As he heard the door close behind him, he sighed softly and said to the shadows and moonlight. "Her eyes are green."
The next morning, Johnny decided to take Bruce's advice. He just had no plans on telling Bruce. Ever if he could possibly help it. Walking through the front door of the emergency room, he let his hand drift across various things. Doors, stretchers, carts of equipment. He got hits off of most everything in one form or another, but it was only when he touched the stretcher that Tamarah had sat on that he saw her. After he'd left, she had taken a taxi from the hospital to the Four Leaves Hotel. He saw her going up the stairs, then talking on the phone to someone. Whoever it had been upset her, though he had no idea why. When he became aware of the world around him though, he was surprised to find the object of his vision looking back at him.
"Hi." She said with a faint smile. "We've got to stop meeting like this."
"At least this time there's no guns involved." It wasn't the smoothest line in the world, but it prompted her smile to widen a little. "How's your arm?"
"Not bad." She rapped her knuckles on the complex looking brace she wore. "They finished this thing off today. I'm stuck in it for two months."
"Ow." He winced sympathetically. "Just the arm?"
"And my hand. Apparently, when the taxi flipped it got pinned in something. I don't remember much though." She tilted her head to consider him curiously. "You're ok I hope?"
"Yeah. I'm fine. I was just..." He felt his cheeks sting from a blush he didn't expect. In a bold move, he decided to just tell the truth and be done with it. "I was hoping to find out if you were ok. I'm glad you are."
"Thanks. It wasn't what I was expecting my first day in town, but I'll manage." She bit lightly on one lip as she smiled nervously. "It was sweet of you. To wonder I mean. Can I ask you a question?"
"Sure." Leaning against the stretcher when she did, he was startled by the brush of her uninjured hand against his own. The vision that came was like before, and this time he saw the other person in it. It was J.J. In the vision, they were dancing. When she spoke, he came back to the moment and her question.
"Why did you do it? I mean...you're not a cop. Why did you get in the way of a man with a gun?" It was weird. She didn't look at him like he was some sort of a mental case. Though she didn't know everything, it was a refreshing change for him.
"It's complicated really. I just wanted to help. That's the simplest way of explaining it." Without telling her everything at once, he had to hold a little bit back. Most people didn't believe him anyway. At his answer, she nodded before smiling at him again. It was nice smile that reminded him of Sarah in a way. And it was that which had him asking something of her. "Would you like to have a cup of coffee? Maybe go for a walk?"
"I'd like that." She nodded, adjusting her arm in the sling she wore then putting her good arm through his own. "Lead on."
As far as walks went, it was enlightening to say the least. Though when she'd agreed to it, she had no idea that Johnny Smith was something of a celebrity. Of course, as far as the newspapers went, so was she. When they'd stopped in front of a newstand, she was greeted by a picture of John and herself with the headline: Local Doctor and Psychic Prevent Tragedy At Local Hospital. All she needed to do was lift a brow at him before she got the story. After being in a coma for six years, he'd been given the ability to see things. The past, the present, the future. That was what had put him in the hospital yesterday. He'd seen many people die at the hospital and had come to help fix it.
"So you don't always have the visions?" She asked as they paused to sit beside a small stone fountain.
"Not always. I can't force them and I don't really know what prompts them sometimes. They just are." Sitting down beside her, his hands rested on his knees as he looked to the water. Then he looked at her. "You don't think I'm a crackpot?"
"The jury's still out. You were right about me and the hotel, but you have to admit it's a little strange." She chose to be honest with him as he'd been with her. He had no reason to lie, and he had likely saved many lives at the hospital. "Do they scare you?"
"Sometimes. Sometimes..." He smiled a little, and she wondered if he might be a little shy deep down. "...they're kind of nice."
"I don't know if I could do that. See things like you do." For now, she was willing to have faith in him. She wasn't sure why, but something about him had created a desire in her to put forth a little trust. "And that you've tried to help people. That's...I'm not sure if noble is the right word...but it'll do...a braver way to live than most people."
"I'm not sure what it is. People tell me it's a gift, or a blessing. It's just my life. I do what I feel like I should."
"I'm no expert, but I think that's how we're supposed to live. We do what we feel we should, because if we didn't...maybe the world wouldn't be a place of such possibility." When it was her getting the questioning look, she smiled. "I think the world has some hope in it. Maybe people like you are meant to help us find it."
"She said that?"
That night, Johnny had mistakenly answered Bruce without thinking about it when they'd joined Sarah, Walt and JJ for dinner at a new Italian restaurant. It had been a nice night with them, but now he had four sets of eyes on him. That, no matter who you were, wasn't so nice. Taking a sip of his wine, he pretended to be fascinated in the breadstick he was holding until Walt finally asked what the others were wondering.
"Is this the she you saved? Bruce said she was awfully pretty." His friend said, grinning unapologetically at him.
"He saw her today. They had coffee." Bruce added, nudging Walt with a grin. "Her name is Tamarah, and she's a doctor."
"Oh, I heard about her." Walt saw the game and was clearly ready to play. "Rosco took her statement this morning from the accident. I guess she's some surgeon from Los Angeles. No one's quite sure what's she's doing all the way out here. From what I hear, she just picked up her life and left. So...you going to see her again?"
He remembered part of the vision he'd had of her in the hospital. The phone call that had left her in tears. He thought on that for a moment until he felt those eyes on him again. This time it was Sarah who spoke, and her smile was amused.
"Now you have to wonder about a guy who meets a woman while saving lives, then sees her again almost by magic when he goes looking. It's almost like one of those movies you see on TV." She grinned mischeviously and he rolled his eyes. "Especially when I'd imagine the pretty brunette standing at the take out counter is probably her."
He turned quicker than he'd really meant to, and when everyone chuckled he found himself looking at a brown haired man who didn't look a thing like Tamarah. Each person was glared at before he returned to his dinner, and attempting to forget the shape of her face or the color of her eyes. There was attraction, of that he had no doubt. But he felt nervous even when he thought about her, and that was something new.
"You've got a crush on her." JJ said, finishing his spaghetti. "Is she pretty like Bruce says?"
"Absolutely no comment." Johnny replied, drinking the last swirl of wine in his glass. "Whatsoever."
On the way out of the restaurant, after having hugged Sarah and JJ good night, he was about to unlock the car when he caught the sight of moonlight on pale brown hair. He nearly brushed it aside when he saw something else. A black and metal arm brace. Cursing the amount of grief he was going to get for this, he put the keys in his pocket and turned around. She was about to go into the restaurant when he took what was, for him, a large step into open air. He said her name.
"Tamarah?" He smiled at her when she turned around, and caught sight of the people he called his family watching. "Hi. There's some people I'd like you to meet."
What was weird was that before she'd decided to walk to the restaurant just down the street from her hotel, she'd been thinking about Johnny Smith. After their walk, she'd decided to look into what he'd done. She had learned a lot, and her opinion of him had improved greatly. He'd never used his visions to help himself, and had done a great deal for all kinds of people. He hadn't enjoyed the fact that the things he'd done had put him in the public eye, but it hadn't stopped him from doing what he passionately believed was right. So when he called her name, he was greeted with a smile and some people he'd read about. Sarah Bannerman had formerly been engaged to Johnny, and was now married to Walt Bannerman who was father to Johnny's son. Bruce Lewis was commonly mentioned in the news articles she'd read, and after looking a little further had found that he'd been Johnny's physical therapist and was now his best friend.
"Hi." She said, shaking each hand as it was offered. "It's nice to meet all of you."
"How're you feeling?" Sarah asked, her hand on her son's shoulder. "Walt told us about the accident."
"Better." She gestured to her brace and sling. "This is just a little awkward. I'm sure you've heard it could have been much worse."
"Seatbelts save lives." Walt noted with a small grin. "Thank you for your help earlier by the way. I hope my deputy wasn't too difficult."
"He was fine. I should let you guys get back to your evening." She smiled at Johnny. "It was good to see you again."
"Why don't you come with us?" Sarah asked. "We were going to have ice cream. I mean, unless you'd like to have dinner...then I completely understand."
"Yeah." Bruce grinned and suddenly she felt a bit like the canary the cat had been chasing. "I was about to head home, so you should come. Fosters has the best ice cream sundaes around."
And that was how she wound up walking beside Johnny Smith down a dark street just behind Walt, Sarah and Johnny. She felt a little awkward on the narrow sidewalk, and knew she kept bumping John with her brace. About the sixth time she did it, she stopped and tried to figure out something to explain her frustration. The only thing that came out was a truly angry sound that prompted a smile from the victim of her constant attack via her brace.
"I feel like a gorilla." She said, blushing at the smile he gave her. "Maybe I should head back."
"No." John said, switching sides with her and now taking her arm. "Just a little readjustment."
The rest of the trip to the ice cream shop was a little easier with the switch, and while she was no psychic she thought she felt a lot more comfortable. Both physically, and in his company. The entire way, he learned the basics about his life and that he'd been a teacher for a while before his coma. And while she hadn't told him everything, she'd felt a lot more capable of at least making the effort. Leaving California had been the hardest decision of her life, but in the wake of a fiance with a drug addiction and a tendency for violence...she had no choice. Now though, she felt like the tightness that had formed in her chest had loosened up a little and maybe she was taking a step in the right direction.
"So..." She said as she edged around him to get into the tiny ice cream parlor. "Is this one of those places where everything is good?"
"You're in luck." He grinned at her, coming to stand behind her. "I suggest the banana split...however one handed it might be tricky. I might have to help you eat it."
Ladies and gentlemen, there was flirting and not long after she was sharing ice cream on a park bench watching the traffic go by. As he held the bowl while she scooped a bite onto her spoon, she got the sense that he was more comfortable too. It was understandably awkward to talk or interact with his ex-fiance, her current husband, and his son. Now though, it was easier because they were alone.
"They seem like good people." She said, nodding to where Walt, Sarah and JJ were. "I have to confess that I've learned about Sarah and your relationship before. It gets put in the articles people write when you do something."
She'd been doing her homework, and while it did surprise him...it didn't annoy him like it normally could. She'd been curious in their previous meetings, and had proven herself to be more honest than most. She'd looked up things about him, and clearly began to understand more about his life. Holding the bowl for her again, he smiled as she shook her head and handed the spoon to him.
"Why did you look?" He said after taking a bite. "You don't have to tell me. It's just that normally people who look me up are people who want to shut me up."
"I was curious." She said without a moment's hesitation. "When I saw you in the ER the day of my accident, I was surprised by you. Since then, I've become more so. You are a knight of sorts...maybe a hero. But you're also a good man. An honest man and while I have no idea why I do...I believe you."
Now he understood. As a doctor, she needed to hear facts to shore up things that might not make sense. If reading articles gave her those facts, then he was glad she did the work. Digging into the ice cream again, he took a bite as he watched the street lights dance off the last of the rain that had fallen the day before. When she shifted to get a more comfortable position on the bench, he was badly startled by the brush of her leg against his own. The vision that came was of the past. He saw her in a bedroom, huddled on the floor. A man stood over her with a handful of her long, ginger brown hair and was screaming at the top of her lungs. That she was weak, that she was worthless and that she'd die if she ever embarassed him again. He'd beaten her to the point of needing to be hospitalized for four days, then she'd made her choice. He saw her packing up everything she owned, putting it all in a moving truck, then getting on a plane. That is, after she'd filed a lengthy police report and made certain he'd be in jail for a very long time.
"He's not going to hurt you." He said the words so softly that he wasn't even sure he'd spoken them aloud, but when her head snapped around to look at him he realized he had. "I...saw why you left California."
"I was going to marry him." Tamarah said with equal softness to her words. "Then everything changed...so I had to change. I'd like to think I'm stronger now. That I'd learned something from it all. I need to be able to stand on my own, and hopefully the scars will heal in time."
"Some of it is already happening." When she lifted a brow with a slight smile, he chuckled softly. "This isn't a psychic talking. Just a person really. You did something hard, and now you're finding a new place for yourself. You even have a friend."
"Oh?" The smile widened and he found he could get used to seeing it, causing it. "Well, perhaps...and I know it's not a sure thing...this will tell you something."
Rising to her feet, she dipped one finger into the leftover whipped cream from the sundae and dabbed it on his nose. She then bent and kissed his cheek before speaking in his ear.
"This is the part where you magically show up at my hotel and ask me for tea, or dinner, or cookies and milk. You know...just in case that whole psychic thing didn't work."
The next morning started a little later than she'd intended, but when she opened her hotel room door she did start with laughter. It came in the form of a room service tray that contained a tall glass of milk, a plate of cookies and a note on hotel stationary that contained a phone number. With a little work, she wound up getting the tray inside her room and after taking a bite of the cookie dialed the phone. She wasn't a psychic, but she had a sneaking suspicion who would answer the phone.
"Hi." His voice was filled with a smile she could feel even where she sat. "I'm going to take this to mean you got my present."
"I did. Thank you. It was very sweet." Leaning back against the stacked pillows on her bed, she broke off a piece of a cookie and popped it in her mouth. "And very good. How're you?"
"I'm...ok." He hesitated which made her open eyes she wasn't aware of closing. "It's been a long day."
"Is everything all right?" The answer mattered after what had gone on the night before. Rolling onto her side a little, she heard him sigh and begin to explain. That was what had her arriving at the Sheriff's station about two hours later with a cup of coffee in hand and a sandwich wrapped up and tucked in the pocket of her coat. Approaching the desk, she was stared at by the desk officer who was about to brush her aside.
"Can I help you?" He asked in a tone that made it clear he was almost sure he couldn't.
"I was looking for John Smith? My name's Tamarah Sheppard." She held up the cup with a smile. "I won't stay long, and I even promise not to be in the way."
The officer showed her the way to a conference room where she found John sitting alone before a bulletin board of pictures and information. With his back to the door, he didn't see her come in and didn't really seem aware of her until she sat the coffee cup down beside him. She returned the tired smile he gave and pulled the sandwich out of the pocket of her coat.
"So..I have to think in the Care and Feeding of Psychics Manual there's something to be said for actual food." She said, grinning softly when he managed a smile. "And for providing comic relief of some sort. You ok?"
"I'm tired, and things aren't making sense." He tapped his head with one finger before taking a sip of the coffee. "Thank you. I needed this."
"You're welcome. So, does the not making sense things happen a lot?" It seemed like an obvious question but she honestly didn't know. Of course, a week ago she wouldn't have believed that psychics were anything but late night show jokes.
"Sometimes. Sometimes it makes sense." Scrubbing his hands across his face, he let out a long breath. "Today it's just been bits and pieces of things I can't really explain."
"May I offer a suggestion?" When he nodded, she reached into her bag and slid him a cookie wrapped in a cloth napkin from the hotel. "Have a cookie, and I'll be happy to listen if you'd like to talk. Maybe it's something where a fresh perspective could help."
As he ate, she sat with him for a while then rose to look at the photographs. Along with them were personal items. A watch, a pair of earrings. The item that caught Tamarah's attention though was a pin. It was the kind that nurses wore. Upon closer examination, she recognized it as an RN pin. Looking at more of the pictures, she winced as she saw someone from the hospital. It was one of the nurses who'd taken care of her after the accident.
"She helped put my bandages on. She was very nice to me." She said once she could speak past the lump in her throat. "Her name was...April I think. How did she die?"
"Stabbed." Johnny said, coming to stand behind her. "They couldn't find any evidence past the personal stuff. Walt thought I might be able to find some things. I can, but I just can't make sense of it. There's this clear image of the rain coming through a broken window, and part of a neon sign. I'm just not sure what I'm seeing yet."
"What color is the sign?" She asked, looking back at him.
"Blue and a white border. I think that part of it is broken." He closed his eyes as he tried to remember the vision. "I hear this buzzing sound."
"What shape is the window?" She pulled a notepad close and and began to write. "Is it small like a house? Or larger like in a business."
"It's larger...I think. There's heavier parts across the glass." When his hand reached towards one of the bags on the board, she handed it to him then sat as Walt and Bruce came into the conference room. "The floor is this small tile. Brown and white." He was silent for a long time before his eyes opened again and he shook his head. "That's it."
"It's more than you had." She replied with a smile. "One of the things they teach you in medical school is how to ask a good question. I'll let you guys get back to it."
Rising to her feet, she was about to go when she felt a hand close around her own. Turning to look at him, she saw his expression change into something far away. It was confusing until Bruce offered an explanation.
"Vision." He murmured and she sat down. The grip he had on her hand was firm enough that she didn't let go. Instead, she curled her fingers into his own and waited for him to return from wherever he'd gone to.
The touch of her hand had prompted a vision that had begun almost sweetly. They'd been walking together under a large, black umbrella. She'd been wearing a blue sweater and her hair was around her shoulders. Suddenly though, it shifted and he saw her screaming before she ran from something that clearly terrified her. She ran down a dark hallway faintly lit by a bare bulb, then disappeared into the darkness. Blinking, he looked and found her sitting in front of him with a distinctly curious expresion.
"What was it?" She asked, her voice soft as her fingers remained in his own.
"I saw you. Something scared you...very badly. Your arm wasn't in the cast anymore." He couldn't really explain it all how he wanted with Bruce and Walt there, but he did the best he could. "Do you have a blue sweater?"
"Yes." She nodded with a smile. "My mother gave it to me for my birthday. Are you sure everything's ok?"
"Yeah." He said, and lied like a rug which he suspected she might know but didn't mention. "Everything's fine."
She left not long after, and he was alone in the conference room with Bruce as Walt went to take a call. He felt Bruce's eyes on him, and said nothing. Instead, he rose to his feet and looked at the bulletin board again until he heard Bruce speak at last.
"Now tell me what you REALLY saw." Bruce said, leaning back in his chair with one elbow on the table. "And why you couldn't tell her."
He told Bruce all of it, and tried to ignore the grin he was given as he mentioned the walk with Tamarah. He knew what it might mean, the walk at least. It meant that he might still know her in six weeks, and that she might make him smile like she seemed to every time he'd seen her. A daunting, and enticing picture but it didn't change whatever had scared her and Bruce knew it. When everything was out on the table, he waited for Bruce to offer an opinion. He didn't wait long.
"First of all, ask her out on a date. Second? Maybe this means you're supposed to help her...you know...just her." Bruce replied with a small shrug. "Look man, you need to get away from the Danas and the Alexs and everyone else who has come and gone. I like her. Walt likes her and obviously you like her. So DO something about it."
"You're not helping." Johnny said, sitting down again.
"You like her."
"So what if I do like her?" He shrugged in frustration. "I'll know everything about her in a week, and she'll get to the point where it makes her mad or frustrated or SOMETHING. Then it'll be over. Why get too deep into something that won't work?"
"Because maybe it will work man." Bruce shook his head. "Stop talking yourself out of things. And actually, I'll make it easy for you. Either ask her to dinner, or I'll do it for you."
With friends like Bruce, he wasn't sure how many enemies he really needed. But it was a kick in the direction he was thinking about going, so he decided to get some nerve together and ask someone out. You know, without everyone plotting and planning and helping. Help. He had far too much of it.
Two days later, Tamarah was sitting in the staff lounge of University Hospital with a stack of paperwork on each side of her. Not exactly her favorite part about being a doctor, but it was one of those things you just got used to. Pen in hand, she began to finish documentation of a case when the door opened and two nurses came in. Sitting at another table, they opened their lunches and she couldn't help but overhear their conversation as they began to eat.
"So did you hear? Sheriff Bannerman and that Johnny Smith guy found who killed April. He was an orderly here." One of the nurses said, taking a bite of her salad. "He had some of April's things and a lock of her hair at his house. There were even pictures too. But they found the next girl in the old Blue Bird Diner...just a couple of blocks from here."
Which would explain the blue and white sign. On her way to her hotel after the accident, she'd seen the sign and while she wouldn't put any money on it...she'd imagine there was a broken window and the tile. She didn't comment on it though, but the nurses spoke to her.
"Dr. Sheppard? Wasn't that Smith guy in the ER when you broke your arm? It was the same day that guy put a gun to that nurse's head."
"Yeah." Tamarah nodded. "He was."
"So?" The nurse asked. "What did you see? I mean did he have a trance or something? Did he say anything?"
"Not that I noticed. He...was just really brave." And with that file done, she headed out before she could be questioned further. She hadn't lied, and had no desire to start. But there was something else to consider. John deserved his privacy, and that included not helping the gossip mongers get their fill. When she opened the door that led into the main part of the outpaitent clinic though, she was greeted by Bruce. By his expression, it was clear that he was waiting for her...and that something was wrong.
"Hi...I'm not sure if you remember me or not." He said, falling into step beside her as she walked toward's the nurse's desk. "There's someone here you need to see. He normally doesn't go to the doctor like this..but he's here. He passed out in his house. I think something's really wrong."
"Where is he?" Bruce led her to one of the rooms at the back of the clinic where she found Johnny. Sitting with his head against the wall, his eyes were closed and his arms were folded across his chest. There was next to no color in his face and when she came to sit in front of him, he didn't even move. "Johnny? You ok?"
When she got no answer, she reached for his hand. It was cold to the touch and she would have assumed it might have gotten a reaction. Yet, nothing happened at first. After a few moments though, she was greeted by blue eyes.
"I don't feel so good." He said softly.
"Well...you don't look so good. So how about you let me help you for a while."
It was the flu. A mutant flu from hell that had him flat on his back with a fever of 102, but thankfully at home. After getting some fluids by IV, Bruce took him home and he was forced to deal with a hovering best friend until he fell asleep on the couch. When he woke up though, Bruce was gone and he was looking at Tamarah.
"Are you a hallucination?" He asked, not quite trusting his eyes or any other sense of that matter.
"Now, I'd like to think that if you hallucinated about me...you'd do it without me in this thing." She nodded to her cast with a faint smile. Rising to her feet, she came to sit on the coffee table in front of him. "How're you feeling?"
"Awful." He said, not bothering to hide it. "And I'd be grateful if you wouldn't hover. Bruce hovered."
"No hovering. Got it." She nodded, and was about to touch his face when he stopped her. When he shook his head, her hand withdrew to rest on her lap. "I'm sorry."
"My visions have been weird. I don't know what to do with what I'm seeing." He said, sitting up so he could lean against the cushions. "It's hard to know what to trust."
"You're home. You're safe. If you see something you're not sure about, you've got a friend here." She said, and this time touched his wrist. Almost immediately, he was caught in a vision he'd seen before. She was running down a dark hallway that was faintly lit. This time though, he saw more. Her hair was soaked and hanging around her shoulders, and he saw her arm. This time, it was still in the cast. All around him, he heard the sound of someone sobbing. Then he began to hear a voice, her voice. "Johnny, I'm ok and so are you. It's ok. Come back Johnny...please come back."
When he opened his eyes, he felt her hand on his arm and saw her smile at him. Somehow though, she still seemed far away as if this was the vision and her fear was the reality of it all. Pulling away from her, he covered his head with his hands. He could still hear the sound of sobbing, and now the sound of rain falling hard all around. His body was spasming from things he couldn't control and he finally felt everything collapse as he screamed. The darkness swallowed him whole, and for what seemed like an eternity he knew nothing more.
"Johnny?" A soft voice reached into the darkness and he found himself looking at a faint light from a source he couldn't understand. "Johnny, it's ok. I promise it's ok. You're just fine. Please come back Johnny. You're at home, and you're safe. Come back. Just come back."
"Make it stop." He whispered, his hands reaching and finding something soft. As his fingers trailed downward, he found it to be the curve of a face. Suddenly, a vision came at him again and this time it was different and very simple. Tamarah was sitting with him on the bench outside Foster's, and they were eating another ice cream sundae. It was a nice vision and he felt comfortable there, and when she spoke he heard her.
"I'm right here Johnny." She said, dipping her spoon into the ice cream. "And I'll be here when you're ready."
He wasn't sure how long it took for him to open his eyes, but when he did he found her just like she'd said he would. She was sitting on the couch with both arms around him. Her brace was a heavy and reassuring weight against his chest as he leaned back against her. He felt like he'd been thrown into a cold shower, and he was shivering from it as it skittered along his body like spiders on a web. Her arms tightened as much as she was able to, and he turned his head into the soft line of her neck. Almost immediately, he found himself surrounded by the softness of her hair and the warm feeling of her skin.
"It's all right." She whispered. "It's all right."
"I can't make it stop. All I can see is the rain, and a hallway...then we're eating ice cream. I hear screaming and sobbing." When he tried to curl in around himself, his hands were stopped by hers. "Don't...I can't. I can't make it stop."
"I liked sitting with you there. I felt like I could breathe. If you can see that, see us there again. I remember kissing your cheek and that you held the ice cream. You kept eating all the strawberry which is just wrong, but we'll get to that." Her thumb moved along the space between his thumb and forefinger as she spoke. "I remember that you smelled good, and you made me feel very welcome."
"I like strawberry." He said, his teeth chattering as he spoke. "Next time I'll share."
"Good." Her lips were warm as they touched his temple, and the cold began to go away. "Sleep now. Just sleep."
"Please...don't go." The words were mumbled as he felt his eyes close. "Don't go."
"I won't. I'm right here."
Bruce got a surprise as he came into Johnny's house the next morning. Assuming his friend would be sleeping, he walked into the living room and found him laying in Tamarah Sheppard's arms. He looked miserable, and was likely still sick as a dog. What was interesting though was he had his hands curled around her one uncasted one, and he was sleeping like a baby. She, however, was very much awake and smiled at him as he came in and sat down.
"He had some visions. The fever made them more intense I think." She said, not moving though speaking softly so she wouldn't wake Johnny. "He fell asleep about dawn."
"You ok?" Bruce asked. When she nodded, he did as well. "I'll be in the kitchen if you need anything then."
"Ok." She said, laying her head back on the cushion and closing her eyes. He left her there, protecting his best friend as if it meant to her as much as it did to him. It was an interesting thing really, and as he sat down in the kitchen while he waited for coffee to brew, he found that it was something he was glad for. Johnny deserved to find someone who he could trust, and put his faith in as much as he had faith put in him. Still though, it was a good thing to tease him about. At least for a moment or two.