Acceptance- Alternate Ending

This ending would begin after Chapter 44, and replace chapters 45 and the Epilogue.


I had to write an alternate ending because, as much as I love a happy ending, I also like angsty ones.

If you get through it, please leave feedback, as I live for it.

Bobby's POV

I watched in a daze as the frantic efforts continued over Stephanie. " Please, honey, Vince needs you, that baby needs you, I need you" I whispered to her, hoping my pleading would encourage Steph to fight harder. Fuck. We can't lose Steph. I love her. Vince loves her. I promised I'd take care of her. But there was nothing I could do that wasn't already being done. "You are stronger than this,b aby," I whisper. After all the turmoil of the last several months, the ordeals that I had gotten her through, there was nothing I could do for her now. All my strength wasn't helping her. My eyes clouded and my vision blurred as I watched the vigorous thrusts on her chest, the frantic efforts to revive her.

They were still trying, even now, not wanting to give up because she was so young and had a baby that needed her. They kept working on her, even after it was obvious it was hopeless, trying to pull off a miracle and bring her back to life. For over an hour they had tried everything over and over again, with absolutely no response. The doc looked at me, then the monitor, then the code clock, and called it.

Immediately the frantic noise in the room stopped and the room became completely silent. Steph was dead.

I felt like the floor had dropped away beneath my feet, like I had fallen into a giant chasm. After everything I had seen Steph through, after she and Vince could have finally had their happily ever after, it ends like this? My immense sadness mixed with guilt. I had been the one who was supposed to save her, to take care of her, and I had failed.

Vince was my best friend, and he had entrusted me with the two things he loved most in the world, and I had failed to take care of one of them. I watched in a daze as the team started to disconnect wires and clean Steph up. Steph was always so vibrant, always moving, now she was locked forever in the stillness of death.

My feet felt like lead, but I managed to make them move toward the OR door. Not only was I dealing with my own grief, I had to destroy my best friend's world, to admit to him that I failed him. That my godson was going to have to grow up without a mother. That I had let Steph die.

I stumbled out of the OR, wanting to break the news to Vince and the guys before the doctor did.

Vince knew, from the moment I got through the doorway, that there was bad news. It was impossible for me to keep my grief and anger hidden, and he saw it in my eyes. He stumbled backwards into a chair as I approached, and Tank and Binkie flanked us.

I had such a huge lump in my throat that I could barely get the words out. " Michael was delivered but, the stress caused Steph to have a massive stroke and , we…couldn't…get…her back. We tried to get her back for an hour , man, but , we lost her. I am so sorry…" I told him, my voice dissolving into tears as I finished the sentence. Now I was in a chair my head in my hands, weeping outright. This was my fault. I am the medic, I was the one supposed to take care of her, and I hadn't. I had failed Steph, Vince, the guys, and most of all I had failed little Michael. I know I had never cried like this before, especially not in front of the guys, but I couldn't help myself.

Tank and Binkie exchanged a shocked look, then Binkie put his hand on my shoulder, not saying anything, just offering his support. Vince sat next to me, and I could only imagine his grief.

Vince's POV

I knew. From the moment I saw Bobby leave the OR, I knew. I saw the agony in his eyes. His mouth moved, , the words he said ending my world. Then I saw him collapse in the chair next to mine, sobbing. I just stared, numb, my breath caught in my throat, swaying slightly. I felt myself being eased backwards into a chair, and Tank shoving my head between my legs. "…?" I managed to gasp out, hoping it was a mistake or a horribly bad joke.

Tank's voice whispered in my ear. "Vince, man, did you hear what Bobby said. I am so sorry ,man…"

Tank was crouching next to me, and I saw that his eyes were red, and filled with unshed tears, and I knew that it was no mistake- that she was gone. I raised my head back up and just sat in the chair, just staring straight ahead, feeling like a giant hole had been carved inside me. I heard Bobby sobbing next to me, and I knew he felt guilty. But it wasn't his fault. He loved her , too. I knew he had taken such good care of her, and I was certain that he had done everything he could to save her. All I could manage to do was put a hand on his shoulder.

It wasn't Bobby's fault, but I felt my hands clench with rage as I remembered whose fault it was. Ranger's. Everything he had put her through in the last few months, hurting me, stalking her, all of that had caused her so much stress and contributed to her death. I wanted to kill him with my bare hands, but Tank said he was already dead. I hoped the fucker was in the deepest section of hell, and disappointed that I wasn't the one to kill him for her.

I thought about Steph's beautiful blue eyes, her curls, her smile, all of which I would never see again. After all we had been through, after all she had, we were on the brink of a happy life together, so how could she leave me now? I felt my face lose some of its numbness and grow hot, my lips contorting, my eyes stinging. I wanted to see her, one last time, and Tank was trying to arrange it, since Bobby was in no condition to. I sat there, cold, unfeeling, as if I, too were dead.

Bobby stopped sobbing and pulled himself together, saying he would go check on Michael. Binkie's eyes were red as he met mine. " I'll call her mom, and your parents, and whoever you need me to," he said, his own grief reflected on his face. Tank helped me stand and supported my weight as I stumbled down the hall to see Steph for the last time.

My whole life, I have never wanted to give up, to crumble and just lay where I fell. I have never given in. But I felt that way now, I just wanted to let myself give in to the grief and come apart, curl up somewhere and die. But then I looked down at the fragile little scrap of life in the clear box, attached to wires and tubes. My son. Our son. Steph had given her life to bring him into the world. I owed it to him, and to her, to stay strong and raise him. How the hell was I going to do that? I was on my own. The responsibility for this precious little life rested solely on me. I didn't know anything about being a dad, let alone a mom, too. Little Michael Robert was going to need a mom, but I was all he had. Steph couldn't be his mom, but I would make sure he knew he had one, and how much she'd loved him.

I reached out and touched his tiny hand, stroking it carefully. " Hey, Mikey, Daddy loves you. Mommy loved you too, but she can't be with us now. Its just you and me, man. " I explained as if he could actually hear or understand me. I felt some of the numbness wear off, and sorrow, despair, anger, and fear overcame me. The door opened and my mother came in to see Mikey.

"Vince, honey, I am so sorry about Stephanie," she whispered, taking my head in her hands as if I were still a little boy. One look into her loving eyes and my grief came bubbling up inside and overwhelmed me and I finally broke down in tears. She just sat and put her arms around me, comforting me the way only a mother can. My poor little son would never have a mother's love to comfort him, and that thought made me cry even harder.

Lester's POV

When Binkie met us at the airbase with the bad news about Steph, there was a moment where everyone seemed frozen in shock, then Zip and Hal started hitting him. I had to pull them off of him. After all, he was only the messenger, not the responsible party.

"Guys, back off. It isn't Binkie's fault," I told them, barely able to talk through my tears.

Steph, dead. It hurt to even imagine those two words next to each other in a sentence. Now they were reality. I couldn't imagine our lives, our existence without her smile, without her gorgeous blue eyes. I felt the numbness receed, and tears rolled uncontrollably down my face.

"What about the baby?" I asked in the small voice I could choke past the giant lump in my throat.

"Alive but really premature," was all he said, his own eyes clouding. Oh, fuck, what about

"Vince?" I asked. Binkie just shrugged. What the hell could he say? How else would Vince be but shattered , devastated, empty.

Binkie's eye, read and puffy from unshed tears, moved to the coffin now coming off the transport plane. 'Ranger?" he asked.

Suddenly, the grief I had been feeling for the loss of my friend Ranger left me and I became livid.

This was HIS fault. Ranger, that fucking bastard. He had cost us Stephanie. We all realized it at the same time. Hal and Ram were staring at the coffin, and I knew if they could, they'd take Ranger out of there and beat the shit out of him all over again. He had died too easily. He hadn't suffered enough for costing Steph her life, costing Vince his wife, and little Mikey his mother.

What the hell were we going to do without Steph?

3 months later

Vince's POV

I sat in the rocking chair, watching our tiny infant son suck on a bottle, losing himself in sleep. I wished he could lose myself in something, but I can't because my son needs me. I haven't slept well for almost three months, because I needed to wake up for the baby.

Steph's services, her funeral, and her burial are all just a blur in my mind. They say the mind blocks out memories that are too painful to remember. That must be true because just thinking of the funeral now makes my chest hurt. I don't even remember planning it, I was too numb. I think my mom and the guys made all the arrangements. I just remember the music and all the flowers. Steph would have loved all the flowers. And there were so many people, many total strangers to me, who had known and loved Steph. She was always down on herself, but she'd have loved to know how many people's lives she had touched.

My mother and father had moved into town, just down the block, so they helped with Mikey all the time. Bobby was not only the best friend in the world, but the best godfather, too. He had saved my life, and tried so hard to save Steph's. I know he will always feel guilty for not being able to save Steph, but we both knew he'd taken such good care of her. I knew he would do anything for Mikey and I.

Bobby, Les, Ram, and I had managed to buy the other half of Rangeman, now opened with Tank under the name Elite Security. I worked for Elite, mostly just on monitors and for routine accounts. Mikey only had me, so I wouldn't risk any high risk or dangerous jobs. I also had a contract where I would do occasional training for the military, but nothing risky. Yes, I missed the excitement, but my son was the most important thing in the world to me now, his need for a father came first.

One thing this little guy would never lack is love. He had a father and six uncles who loved him dearly. Tank, or Les, or Ram would always come and play with him, or take him to the park, or just babysit him so I could go running. Every car in the Elite Security fleet has a baby seat in the back. The guys are so busy showering him with love and attention, maybe trying to make up for the fact that his mom can't be with him anymore. Both sets of his grandparents dote on him, as does Ella. The nursery was filled with more toys than a Toys R Us.

Or maybe they all love just seeing his blue eyes. Mikey's eyes look so much like Steph's it sometimes hurts me to look at them. His hair will probably turn out to be the same color as hers, too. Looking at him reminds us all of her. He is all we have left of her.

The guys and I go to the cemetery every week to see Steph , and there are always fresh flowers on her gravestone. When Mikey is older, I will take him to "see" his mommy, too.

I try not to think about Ranger and what he did to me, and to Steph. He is dead, and although I wish I'd been the one to torture and kill him painfully, there was nothing I could do about it now. I didn't have the energy to actively hate him, I was using all my energy to keep myself from crumbling in grief so I can raise Steph's and my child.

I look around the nursery at all the crazy animals Steph had Tank stencil in here. That was so like her, it made tears come flooding back. Mikey will never know his mom in person, but he will know all about her. He will know how much she loved him and wanted him, and how she had died bringing him into the world. My mother wants me and the guys to help pick out pictures for a photo album of Steph for Mikey to look at as he gets older. I talk to him about Mommy every day, the things she liked, disliked, her dreams for him.

Mikey has a dad, loving grandparents, and doting "uncles", but nothing makes up for not having a mom. She can't be with us physically, but we will always love her, and she will always be part of Mikey's life.