The car was packed full of people. Mr. Cohen was driving, with Seth in the front passenger seat. Summer, Taylor, Ryan, Julie, and even Kaitlin had all squeezed in the back row. The fact that Kaitlin was coming surprised Summer; it wasn't as if the 15-year-old was especially close to the Cohens. They weren't speaking much, but a tangible excitement filled the small space. Summer had rolled down the window and was letting the wind mess up her dark hair, while Mr. Cohen tried to refrain from driving thirty miles over the speed limit the whole way there.
Ryan said, a little nervously, "Do you want me to drive?"
Earlier, the police had told them that a woman called in and said she may have seen Kirsten. They had said that they had sent an officer over to check it out. Then, while everyone had lingered anxiously in the Cohen kitchen, there had been another call-- this one was even better. Kirsten had been found, all the way up in Ventura.
The police said that she was being taken to the hospital nearest to where she was. The very idea of Kirsten having to go to a hospital worried them all, but at least she was alive and they knew where she was.
The hospital wasn't nearly as nice-looking as the HOAG. The interior was a little too austere for Summer's taste, but then she reminded herself that the doctors and nurses at this hospital could have, for all they knew, saved Kirsten's life. Mr. Cohen strode right up to the front desk and inquired as to which room his wife was in.
While they were walking down the stark corridor, they saw a police officer waiting outside one of the rooms at the end of the hall. It had to be Kirsten's room. As they approached, the officer looked at Sandy and said, "Mr. Cohen?"
"Hi." The two shook hands, and the officer explained that he was supposed to keep an eye out, because the kidnapper hadn't been found yet.
Sandy and the boys went in to visit her first. Taylor, Julie, Kaitlin, and Summer stood in a line, leaning against the wall. Julie's heeled shoe tapped sharp and impatient against the tiled floor. The officer didn't say anything to them.
Summer lost track of time, but when the guys emerged she got distracted by how distressed they looked. They were smiling, happy that she was safe, but there was a definite sadness in their expressions. No one else made a move toward the room, so Summer figured it was her turn to go in.
The first thing Summer noticed was that the room was very quiet. No heart monitors. That's good. The second thing she noticed was Kirsten, and Summer couldn't help but stare in surprise at the short, brown, messy hair and wince at the nasty bruise on the left side of her face. Her left eye was swollen almost shut.
Was she in the right room?
Kirsten either didn't notice Summer's staring or she chose not to acknowledge it. Her face broke into a huge smile. "Summer!"
Summer smiled back somewhat awkwardly, then walked over and sat on a little chair that had been placed on the side of the bed. She wasn't sure what to say, so she said the first, most stupid thought that came into her head.
"Are you okay?"
Kirsten raised an eyebrow, and Summer blushed while mentally smacking herself. "I mean...um...Sorry, we've just been really worried out of our minds,and..."
Kirsten laughed lightly.
"It's alright. And I will be okay."
x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
It had been a pretty painful trip to the hospital.
When Kirsten had run out from George's apartment, she'd had no idea where she was. She was too frightened to think clearly, only figured out that she should hide somewhere so that she wouldn't be found again. She'd ignored the pain, running up the sidewalk and ducking behind a nearby car. She'd heard his panicked footsteps and his muttering to himself.
She'd watched him, and when he went around the corner of the building, Kirsten had taken advantage of it and had dashed down the street in the opposite direction. People gave her funny looks, but she had continued running until she was blocks away from the apartment complex and her breath was coming out in short wheezes.
Her head and the side of her face was throbbing, her thighs hurt, and her hands were stinging because she'd managed to rip up some of the nails when she attacked her kidnapper. She'd looked in a store window where the light was just right to show her reflection. Her hair was all over the place, and if she reached up and touched the back of her skull, she could feel blood. Her clothes were too loose and dirty. Basically, she looked like hell. And she needed help now.
There actually weren't that many people on the street. Kirsten had decided it would be safer to ask a woman for help, and so had approached a tall black woman who was wearing jeans and a sweater and who looked nice enough. Kirsten cleared her throat, and the woman turned around, her eyes widening when they landed on Kirsten.
"Um, excuse me, I was just wondering, if you could, uh, help find the nearest police station?"
The woman stared, then seemed to come to her senses. She shook her head. "Honey, what you need is a hospital."
"But I have to tell the police where I am so they can call my family and tell them where I am."
The woman looked at her quizzically, so Kirsten explained, "I was, kind of, uh...kidnaped...and my family's been looking for me."
At least, she hoped they'd been looking for her. Of course they were looking.
She made sure to look pleading and pitiful, and she actually saw the moment when the woman went from being kind of freaked out to being all worried and sympathetic.
"Come on, then." She gently took Kirsten by the arm and pulled the tinier woman along with ease. While they walked, she shot glares at anyone who dared to look at them wierd, her arm protectively around Kirsten, who suddenly remembered to thank the woman for her help.
"My name's Gloria, and it's no problem. I have a daughter, and if anything like that happened to her, I know I would be worried outta my mind and would want someone to help her."
The police station came into view-- a squat, gray building with patrol cars lined in front. Kirsten was wondering what the hell she would say to the police men, but it turned out she needn't have worried. Gloria stepped in for her.
"Hello, officer. This woman her needs some help. See, she was kidnapped and was obviously hurt, so it would be real appreciated if you could contact her family."
The officer looked startled by the claim, as if he didn't think that kidnaping actually happened in real life. He looked over Kirsten, then said, "Your name?"
Gloria's arm tightened around her shoulder as the officer started typing rapidly, scanning the computer screen quickly and professionally. His hands stopped moving, then he nodded and said, "You've been missing for about two days?"
"You're hair isn't blonde." He said pointedly.
"I know that. It was dyed."
"Look, I'll call the force in Newport. In the meantime, Officer Lawrence will drive you to the hospital."
Officer Lawrence had wandered over upon hearing his name. He didn't smile, just said "Come along, miss" and started for the door.
Gloria stopped as Kirsten climbed into the patrol car. Kirsten had been expecting her to come with her to the hospital, so she stuck her head outthe window and asked, "You're not coming?"
"No, honey, I'm sure you'll be fine. I should probably get going anyway. Good luck to you."
"Thank you, again."
"You're welcome. Bye now."
She turned and walked away, Kirsten watching her in the rearview mirror as Officer Lawrence pulled away from the curb. He didn't talk the entire ride.
Once she was at the hospital, Kirsten was whisked behind a curtain so she could get stitches on the back of her head, bandages on her hands, and treatment for any injuries from the rape. Then she was taken up to a room with a two nice beds, a bathroom, and a drawn curtain separating the room in half.
Once in bed, she fell asleep quickly, exhausted from her great escape. She'd awoken to hear voices outside her room. And the one voice sounded suspiciously like...Sandy!
When she saw her family come in, it was all she could do to keep from crying and throwing herself at them to give them all as many hugs and kisses as possible. Actually, she did start to sit up, but she moved too quickly and the pain caused her to decide that it was better to just lie down.
Later that day, when she'd talked with everyone, she told them she was tired and was going to go to sleep. Sandy stayed by her, sitting in the little chair near her bedside. As she drifted off, Kirsten had never felt happier. She was safe and with her family and friends, and even though George and the kidnapper had yet to be caught, she was sure that they would be. And when that happened, she would make sure that they got what they deserved-- her money and her business connections would make that easy enough. She still had to tell them the details of her injuries, but she would do that later. Right now, she was content simply to listen to them, to revel in their presence and enjoy their love and comfort.
x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
Anyway, I was going to make this a few chapters longer, but then I remembered I had a couple of other OC fics I wanted to start before the series finale (sob). Thanks for all the reviews!