Disclaimer: I don't own anything, I'm not making any money, and all the wonderful characters belong to JE. This story takes place 9 weeks after TS ends. It was my thought for Lean Mean Thirteen. I took the Lean and Mean to heart. I'm sure most people have read this, but if you haven't, I hope you enjoy it. This was my very first fan fiction. I've since went back and did a lot of work on it. Same plot, but I've added and deleted and just all around cleaned it up.
Warnings: Violence, foul language, and sex
Thanks to Stayce my fabulous editor.
***Completely and seriously reedited***
Uhhhg! I hurt everywhere. Even in places I didn't know could hurt … like my hair. I could hear muffled noise all around me, and it wasn't doing anything to make me feel better. I wished they'd shut the hell up. Didn't they realize my head was about to explode? I cracked my eyes open and a face appeared in front of me. I was pretty sure it was Ranger, but he was oddly distorted. I blinked a few times, trying to focus. His face cleared up enough for me to see he was talking to me, but I couldn't hear shit over the ringing in my ears.
"What?" I said, but that's not how it sounded coming out.
A few more people moved in around me, and I lost sight of Ranger. I tried to turn my head to find him, but my head just flopped to the side. Hands were securing me in place, and I was suddenly jerked up sending vomit straight up my throat. I lifted my head and got whoever was standing next to me.
I was wheeled up into the back of an ambulance. I was dizzy, my ears were still ringing, I couldn't remember where I was or what happened, and I desperately just wanted to go to sleep. Everything I looked at was fuzzy around the edges, and hell I think I even saw some floating stars. That couldn't be right, though. How were they floating?
I felt lips brush across my forehead, just as the ambulance doors slammed shut. I closed my eyes wanting to fall asleep. Anything to make the pain go away, but sleep didn't come. Somebody with an annoying voice kept asking me questions. I couldn't understand anything he was saying. Hell I could barely see his lips moving. I didn't have a clue why I was even in an ambulance. He moved closer to my face and was shining a light in my eyes. I squeezed them shut. I had enough fucking twinkling lights all on my own.
I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I opened my eyes, blinking a few times attempting to clear the black dots dancing in front of my eyes. It was a pointless. They kept dancing, getting bigger and smaller and multiplying.
I turned my head, following the voice in my ear. The dots joined the blurry outline of the guy's face. I could see his lips moving. I tried to concentrate on what he was saying.
"Do you know what happened?" he asked me.
I stared at him. What happened with what? I didn't know what he was talking about. "I don't know," I said.
"Do you know your name?" he asked.
More questions. Why was he asking me so many questions? I shook my head. "I don't know. I don't know anything," I said. "Just stop talking. My head hurts."
"I know your head hurts, but I need to get the extent of your injuries," he said. "Do you remember what happened just before you hit your head?"
"I hit my head?" I asked.
"Do you know what day it is?" the annoying man asked.
I thought about it for a second. Surely I'd know what day it was. If only my ears would stop ringing, maybe my head would stop hurting.
I felt a hand entwine with mine. I turned my head. "Ranger," I said, quietly.
"I'm right here, Babe," he said softly in my ear.
"Tired and my head hurts," I said, looking at him.
Ranger let go of my hand and moved out the doors, towards a bright light. Then my bed was moving. Why was I on a bed that moved? I couldn't remember where I was. Was I dreaming? I was so tired and there was all this ringing.
"My name is Dr. Scott," a man said, while walking beside my moving bed. He must be part of my dream too. I didn't know him, though. I closed my eyes and let the low hum of his voice lull me to sleep.
Soft hands were running across my forehead. It felt nice. My head really hurt. The hands moved down my neck and lips took their place on my forehead. "Babe," the lips whispered over and over again, pulling my eyes open.
I looked into Ranger's eyes. "Ranger?" I questioned.
"Do you know where you are?" a voice on my right asked.
I turned my head and saw a man dressed in a white coat watching me. "No," I said, and then I started looking around. "But I'm going to take a guess at the hospital."
"Good guess," he said, smiling.
"And why am I at the hospital?" I asked.
"Do you remember your name?" Dr. Scott asked.
"Good. And the day of the week?" he asked.
"Are we on the same day?" I asked Ranger and got a small smile in return. "Saturday."
The doctor smiled. "Do you remember my name?" he asked.
Well that was a dumb questioned. "You never told me your name," I said, looking at him.
"I told you my name when you got here," he said.
"I don't remember that."
"I'm Dr. Scott," he said again apparently. "You hit your head about thirty minutes ago, Ms. Plum. What do you remember before that?" he asked me.
I thought about it for a moment. "I remember finding Connie and getting the all clear from the other teams. Then Mike called my cell telling us about the bomb in the building. I went out to meet him, and he blew up the building. We fought, and I was able to get my gun," I said, pausing to think some more. "I don't really remember much after that."
"And what's the first thing you remember after waking up?" Dr. Scott asked while writing stuff on a clipboard.
"You asking me if I knew where I was," I said.
"This is the second time you woke up," he said, getting out a penlight from his pocket. He flashed it at my eyes. "Do you remember the first time?"
I saw a flash of light and this annoying voice asking me questions over and over again. "I was in an ambulance. The guy was flashing a light in my eyes. He asked me my name and the day and what happened before I hit my head," I said.
"Good," Dr. Scott said. "Anything else?"
I closed my eyes. "Mike had my hair and a gun to my forehead. I got out of the hold and caught him with a throat jab. He stumbled back a few steps. He raised his gun and pulled the trigger just as I pulled mine. His bullet hit me in the chest, knocking the wind out of me. I fell back and hit my head," I said, opening my eyes.
"Very good, Ms. Plum," Dr. Scott said. "You have a grade III concussion and a very large bruise on your chest where the bullet hit your vest. You're very lucky considering the distance you were from his gun. It's going to take days and most likely weeks before all the symptoms of the concussion are gone. We're going to keep you here overnight to monitor you, but you seem to be coming out of it nicely. We'll get you moved out of ER in a moment. I believe there is quite a large crowd waiting to hear how you are," he said, patting my shoulder, and then headed out of the curtained off area.
An older woman came in seconds after Dr. Scott left. "We're going to get you moved now, honey, and into a more comfortable bed," she told me, moving to the top of my bed.
Ranger leaned over me and brushed a kiss across my forehead. "I'm going to let everybody know what's going on, Babe," he said. "I'll see you in a bit."
"We'll be in room 213," the woman told Ranger.
He left the room and my bed started moving. "The waiting room is full of very scary and very handsome men," she told me while pushing me through a set of doors.
I smiled as my eyes slowly slid closed. I was very tired, and my head was still pounding. A small nap wouldn't hurt. Ranger would wake me up when he got into my room.
I could hear soft talking, but I couldn't make anything out. I slowly started opening my eyes. Ranger was slouched down in the chair next to my bed. He turned his head and met my eyes.
Ranger grabbed a cup from the side table and tipped it toward me so I could suck from the straw. When I was finished he sat it back down and leaned forward, taking my hand. "How are you feeling, Babe?"
"My head still hurts, but I don't feel all dazed anymore," I said, lacing my fingers with his.
"That's good to hear," he said, smiling.
I looked around the room. Lula was in the chair on the other side of my bed with Tank standing right behind her, Morelli was leaning against the end of my bed, Ace and Hal were leaning against the wall close to the door, and Bobby was propped up on the window ledge. I didn't see Lester anywhere. I scanned the room again, and could feel the panic rushing through me. Did something happen to him? Ranger would've said something if he'd been hurt. And then the door opened and Lester walked in holding …
"Donuts," I said, smiling.
Ranger chuckled next to me.
"It's good to see your beautiful blues, Sweetie," Lester said, handing me the bag
"I love you," I said, pulling a Boston Cream from the bag.
Lester laughed. "That's all it takes, huh?"
"What can I say, I'm a simple girl," I said after swallowing a mouth full.
Ranger leaned in, touching his lips to my ear. "The doughnuts are from me. I just didn't want to leave you to get them," he whispered, his hot breath sending tingles through my body right to my center.
I turned my head, capturing his lips in a light kiss. "I'll thank you properly once I'm out of this place," I said with a mischievous grin.
Somebody cleared their throat, and I looked away from Ranger. Everybody was smiling, except Joe. I knew it was going to take a long time before he'd accept my relationship with Ranger, if ever.
"Mike?" I asked while grabbing another doughnut from the bag.
"Dead," Ranger answered.
"Very dead," Lester added, sitting on the end of my bed.
"Saved time in the autopsy," Ace said. "The medical examiner can skip the step where he has to drain the bodily fluids."
I lifted my eyebrow. "Exactly how many times was he shot?" I asked.
"Ten," Ranger answered.
"Ten!" I repeated, shocked.
"A bullet from each of us there, but I'm pretty sure nine of them were pointless," Bobby said.
I looked at Ranger. There was no doubt in my mind that his bullet went into Mike's head. Ranger wouldn't shoot to wound when Mike had just shot me.
"Is everybody okay?" I asked.
"Everybody's fine, Babe," Ranger said. "The guys brought your family in to be checked out, and they stopped by, but you were sleeping. They didn't want to wake you."
"How long have I been asleep?"
"Almost two hours," Ranger told me.
"And Mike's guys?"
"He had six guys working with him. They've all been arrested, and we picked up his girlfriend, too," Joe said.
A nurse came bustling in the door and shook her head at the full room. "Alright, visiting time is over. Ms. Plum needs rest not all this excitement," she said. "Now everybody out."
"I'll call ya tomorrow, girlfriend," Lula said, dragging Tank out behind her.
"Get some rest, Steph," Tank said at the door.
Bobby, Ace, and Hal shuffled out the door right behind Tank calling out their goodbyes.
Lester hopped off the end of my bed and kissed my forehead. "Call me the next time you've got a job that comes up. I want first dibs," he said, winking at me before walking out the door.
Joe walked around the bed and looked down at me. He fingered a curl and gave it a gentle tug. "That was some impressive hand work you did to get away from Mike, Cupcake," he told me. He was proud of me.
Joe's eyes left mine and found Ranger's. "Mind if I kiss your woman?"
My mouth drop open. I looked over at Ranger, and he was grinning. I wasn't sure what the grin meant, but I kinda thought he was giving Joe permission to give me a kiss. I was feeling slightly outraged. After all they're MY lips! Shouldn't I be the one to give permission for said kiss?
Joe held Ranger's eyes for a moment longer, and something clearly passed between them. Joe looked back down at me and gave me a soft smile. "I'll see you around, Cupcake," he said. "Call me sometime and we'll have dinner and catch a game."
"Sure," I said, smiling.
He leaned down and kissed the corner of my mouth, and then walked out the door.
I looked over at Ranger. He was smiling at me, his eyes amused, affectionate, tired. "I can't believe he asked you for permission to kiss me," I said.
Ranger smiled and kissed the palm of my hand. "Get some sleep, Steph," he said, running his thumb over my knuckles. "I know you're still tired, and the nurses are going to be waking you every two hours."
"Are you leaving?" I asked.
He shook his head. "I'll be right here."
I rolled onto my side, facing him and tried to relax enough to fall asleep. I was tired, but my mind wouldn't shut down. Surprising since two hours ago I couldn't make it focus for the life of me. I looked at Ranger again. He was watching me, his eyebrow raised in question.
"I can't relax. My mind is buzzing too much," I told him.
He let go of my hand, removed his boots, climbed over me, and snuggled in behind me, tucking me securely in his arms. "I'm tired, too. We'll both sleep," he said, kissing my temple.
I sighed snuggling in deeper in his arms. I listened to Ranger's even breathing hoping it would help me drift to sleep. It wasn't working. I was tired, why couldn't I get to sleep? I felt Ranger's arms tighten around me. Everything was over. Mike was dead, all his guys were in jail, and there was nothing left to deal with. Nothing, but the adult talk Ranger and I still needed to have. I wasn't good with adult talks. With Joe, I just took a time out long enough to escape having to really deal with the problem. We'd get back together a few weeks later and all was forgotten. Until the next fight. Ranger wouldn't let all be forgotten. He'd want to deal with it. He'd push to know why I accused him of using our sexual relationship to control me. Did I think he'd do that, though? No. So why did that come out of my mouth? I didn't realize Ranger was talking about me getting shot as the change in circumstances, but why did I immediately think it was because we were sleeping together?
"Yeah, Babe," he said, softly.
"I'm sorry," I said, not even sure why it came out of my mouth.
Ranger was silent for a moment. "What's this about?" he asked.
"What I said the other day."
"I know you're sorry, Steph," he said. "We don't need to talk about this right now."
"Yes we do," I said. "I don't really know why I said it, Ranger."
"I've thought about it, and I know you'd never use our sexual relationship to control me. I just can't figure out why when you said circumstances were different I immediately thought you meant because we were sleeping together."
Ranger didn't say anything. He was letting me work it out on my own.
"Everything between us has happened so fast, and it's all so new. At times I can't help but think that too good to be true," I said. "You've always said your lifestyle doesn't lend itself to relationships and your love needs a condom, but doesn't come with a ring. Do you remember the day in my kitchen with Morelli?"
"I do," Ranger said, while running his fingers up and down my arm.
"I told him I didn't know where what we had was going, or what was going to happen, but that I was just going to enjoy the ride and not worry about it. I figured we were just going from one day to the next, and I'd have you as long as you allowed it. I was fine with that. I accepted it. But then suddenly it wasn't like that at all. Circumstances were different. We weren't just in a sexual relationship, but in an actual real relationship. With commitments."
Ranger continued to run his fingers up and down my arm, listening to me talk.
"Right when Lester got to my apartment and you two were talking, I started getting this bad feeling that I was about to be handled. Then you said we needed to talk, and the feeling came back. After everything that already happened, all the letters, too much emotional stuff, I got mad, and I wasn't thinking clearly. I don't know if it was insecurity that made me say it or if it was that I hurt so badly already and I just wanted somebody else to hurt," I admitted. "I'm really sorry. I know in my head and heart when I'm completely rational, that you'd never try to control me."
"If it was insecurity then we need to work on that," Ranger finally said. "I know I've done and said a lot of things in the past, and I can't erase them. But you need to stop replaying the past in your head. We're together. It's not just about sex. I'm emotionally and physically attached to you. I love you, and I'm not going anywhere."
I brought Ranger's hand to my mouth and kissed his fingers.
"I'm more inclined to believe it was an emotional response, though. I've had time to think it over too, Babe. You've had a lot of emotional responses since all this started. Lester at the gun range & me with the picture of your family. You've been through a lot. I think you really were just mad and hurting and you lashed out without thinking. It happens sweetheart. Especially with our line of work. But please in the future, remember I'm not the bad guy." Ranger wrapped his arms around me, bringing me closer to him. "Sleep, Babe."
I couldn't help the tears. He was right. I lashed out at everybody lately. Mike screwed with my head completely. I owned all the guys a really nice night out as a thank you and an apology. But Ranger I owed him a lot more. He was extremely understanding, and I was very grateful for it.
"Thank you," I said, lacing our fingers together. "But one other thing."
"What's that babe."
"About getting married."
Ranger's chest vibrated behind me with silent laughter. "I can see you don't plan on sleeping," he said.
"I decided that maybe I don't really want to get married after all."
"Someday," Ranger said.
"Someday?" I said, turning to look him in the eyes.
"Someday I'll put a ring on your finger, and someday I'll make you my wife," he said and kissed me tenderly. "For now, we sleep. I'll still be here when you wake up."