The doctor that approached her looked twenty seven or twenty eight, probably a resident still. Did attendings get stuck with 3am ER call? Jessica wasn't sure. She propped up on her elbows, back peeling away from the vinyl of the bed. "Yes."
"I'm Dr. Connor. I'm on call for the night. I got your CT report back, everything looks ok, so as soon as I get those stitches done, we'll move you upstairs."
That was a surprise. "I'm getting admitted?"
"Just for observation tonight. Standard with a loss of consciousness, even if there doesn't seem to be a problem. That was a pretty good knock on the head, anyway. Afraid you'll have quite the shiner for a few weeks. Now, I really do need to finish those sutures. Seems like we're packed tonight."
"What? Oh. Ok. Do you know anything about my boyfriend? He came in with me...."
Dr. Connor wheeled the round black stool to the side of her bed and began to arrange the contents of a suture kit on the tray table. Pulling the overhead lamp down, he got a closer look at the scalp laceration that had soaked half of his patient's blonde waves in blood. Looked worse than it was, eight or nine stitches would probably do it. Too bad the attending for the night had something against staples. Could have those done in three minutes. Oh well. He started pulling xylocaine up in a syringe, tapping the glass vial with a flick of his fingers.
"Oh, sorry. What's his name?"
"Sam. Sam Winchester."
"Not off the top of my head. Although the trauma team's got four patients in the last two hours. Just took one to the OR. Not a great big guy, blonde hair, grey eyes?"
"No, that's not Sam. Why?" Jessica's heart skipped a beat at the description. That lug was most definitely not Sam.
"Never mind, just don't think that fella's gonna do very well. I'll see if the nurse can find something out for you." Ten minutes later he was gone, leaving Jess to wonder just what, exactly, had happened.
Callie closed the door to the hospital room as quietly as she could, unsure if Jessica was awake and unable to see her eyes in the early morning light. They'd been roommates for a year before her friend left the dorm to move in with Sam. "Jess?"
"It's ok Callie, I'm awake. Turn the light on if you want." She turned her face toward her friend, but made no effort to sit up as the room brightened.
"I heard what happened. Or rather I sort of heard what happened. Some kind of fight? Are they going to let you out of here today? Are your folks coming?"
"I didn't call them yet actually. I need to talk to Sam first and no one in this God forsaken place will tell me how he is. Only got someone to confirm an hour ago that he was even here, and that was one of the cops that came. Go find out for me, please?"
"Hey, calm down, I'm sure he's ok. Probably just stuck in a room same as you. Look, I saw the surgery residents coming down the hall. Why don't wait until they get here and if you're discharged, we'll find Sam's room together. If not, I'll go find out." It was just dawning on Callie that Jess was scared. Even at Stanford, book smart was no guarantee of her having any common sense. She tried to take a more soothing tone. "What did happen?"
"I was trying to get Sam to stop rehashing his exams, you know how he is with tests, even when they're over he replays 'em in his head for hours, berating himself for not eekking out one more point somewhere. Anyway, we went to dinner, then I drug him to Casey's. He didn't even want to go, said all the bars would be packed on a Friday after midterms. He was right, of course, but he likes the music there and we ended up having a nice time. It was one, one fifteen maybe and we decided to call it a night. We were getting in my car and I realized I left my bag inside. Should have just left it, everything important was in my pocket anyway. But no, I had to go back for that all valuable lipstick. Told Sam to start the car and get the heater going. Wasn't even that cold.........." Jess paused for a minute, staring out the window.
"Next thing I know, I'm around the corner and these guys are just there all the sudden. I didn't see them until the blonde one grabbed at me, backhanded me across the face. I didn't even get a chance to yell for help before they pushed me back in that alley beside the bar. I couldn't get away from all of them, the other two grabbed my hands..."
Callie moved to sit on the edge of the bed, a hand stroking over Jess's hair. She handed her the tissue box from the nightstand. "Jess, did they?"
She dabbed at her eyes before answering. "No. Sam must have heard all the commotion, came flying around the corner. Callie, I've never seen him like that. It just wasn't him. He.... " Jess returned to staring out the window, apprehensive expression etched on her face, tears now falling unchecked.
"It's ok. Hey, shhh. It's ok. That's what you needed him to do, right? No one wants to be the damsel in distress, but if it comes to that, nothing wrong with the knight in shining armor showing up, ok?"
"Yeah, I guess..."
"You guess? Jess, they were going to..."
She interrupted before her friend could finish that sickening thought. "I know. I know, I didn't mean it that way. Of course, I'm glad he was there. But you didn't see him."
"Are you afraid for Sam or of Sam?"
"I don't know." Her voice dropped to a tiny guilty whisper.
"Three. The third one took off. I'm sorry officer, but this is the fourth time we've done this. Is there a problem? I need to check on Jessica." Sam looked from the policeman who'd been at his bedside the last six hours to the shiny silver handcuff linking him to the emergency room bed. This was definitely a disadvantage to living normal. Back home, wherever that might be any given week, he'd have picked this and been long gone the first time the cop headed for a bathroom break. Here he was stuck. While the situation was certainly a big deal to him personally, he couldn't see what had made it so interesting to the Palo Alto police department. Overly flirty drunks starting a fight just weren't that hard to come by.
The officer sighed and tried to stretch his legs out in the plastic tub chair. Frankly, he was tired of babysitting the lanky boy beside him. THe sun was coming up and his shift was over an hour ago. Would have been a lot easier to just haul him down to the station house to sort this out, but apparently the ER doc had been too busy to stitch up knees and splint broken fingers until half an hour ago, so he'd wasted the whole night parked in this torture chamber of a chair. Damn college kids and their pranks. Wonder how long it was going to take this one's Daddy to show up waving around money and lawyers? If he asked about that girl again he was gonna scream.
"Look kid, what you need to do is settle in and wait. All I know is what the nurse said. She's admitted for observation and she'll be fine. Same as an hour ago. Once Officer Mallory comes back, we'll decide what to do with you."
Fortunately Officer Mallory chose that moment to appear, flipping through notes on a clip board. "Hey Mike, you can head home if you want. Kid's story checks out. Couple of bystanders all confirm he didn't start anything."
Sam had the feeling that Mallory was the one in charge now and decided to wait until Mike was out of sight down the corridor before trying to start a conversation again.
He inclined his head back toward his newest piece of jewelry. "So, maybe?"
Mallory almost smiled at him, holding up a set of keys. He unlocked the cuff and watched Sam alternate between rubbing his wrist and shaking his fingers. "You're free to go, but we may need to talk to you again later. Everyone we talked to, including Ms. Moore, said the blonde guy jumped her and his friends were about to help him out when you showed up. Mark Pullman, that's the blonde, if you're curious."
"Why would I be?" Of course Sam was curious, but something about the officer's tone sent an alarm down his spine.
"Because he just died in the OR. So, now I've got one dead guy, one that's still up in surgery getting his spleen yanked out and a broken arm pinned, and one that took off to who knows where. And then I've got a kid who's school transcripts say he doesn't play sports, doesn't hang out at the gym, never had a martial arts class, yet he's the cause of all that mayhem. I find that very curious Mr. Winchester, don't you?"
Sam hung his head, mind still reeling with the idea that he'd killed someone named Mark Pullman. An awful someone, but dead? As in, well, dead? "No sir, not curious."
"So it's sir now, is it? Getting an inkling that you could be in trouble here? As far as I can tell you haven't been a problem before, but you'll want to be as cooperative as you can with this. So far it looks like self defense. Stay available, work with us on getting information, and it is unlikely any charges will be filed. Got it?"
Sam had finished signing his discharge papers, writing largely illegible as juggled the pen against the splint tapped to the last three fingers of his right hand. Jessica must still be upstairs somewhere. He started to run up the nearest flight when the stitches across his left knee pulled him up short. Just as well. Make more sense to go to information desk and find out where she was. A few minutes later he was standing outside room 316, back leaning against the wall. It had been a long time since he was nervous about talking to Jessica.
He took his cellphone out of the pocket of his ripped jacket, almost pushed that first button. He could hear Dean's voice in his head, talking to a seven year old Sam while gently dabbing at a bloody nose.
"I know I told you not to take any crap, Sammy, but you gotta pick your moment, ok? That Adams boy has been asking for it, I'll give you that, just next time don't push him right in front of the teacher. You can always find a time without a bunch of eyes around. Better yet, come get me. I'll take care of it. Teachers always figure I'm trouble anyways, right? Got that whole rebel without a cause thing to uphold, so let me handle it. There, your nose looks better. His looks worse, I hope? Seriously Sammy, Dad expects you to stay under the radar. Don't draw attention to yourself and stay out of trouble."
Sam slipped the phone back in a pocket. "Think I screwed that all to hell Dean." He pushed the door open.
She was sitting on the far edge of her bed, already dressed in a long sleeve green t-shirt and old jeans. Damp blonde hair trailed down her back, silhouetted by sun coming through the window. He couldn't see her face.
"Jess, do you want me to stay?"
Sam jumped at the sound of Callie's voice, he hadn't seen her behind the door as he'd walked in. Jess had a way of filling every inch of his awareness.
Silence stretched as he stared at her back, counting the heartbeats in his throat, then a soft "no" sent Callie from the room.
He waited for her to turn around; decided she wasn't going to. Chewing his lower lip he sat down on the bed from the other side, resting a hand on each of her slim shoulders. Felt her flinch at his touch. Let his hands fall to his sides again.
"Jess, I'm sorry. I know they scared you; know I probably scared you too. Are you ok? The nurse at the desk said we could go home, if you're ready?" He found himself watching her breathe as the second hand made its way around the wall clock for the eleventh time. Maybe she wasn't going to answer?
"Sam?" Her hand groped behind her, finally fastening on his sleeve.
"Yeah Jess." Her tone was as flat as he'd ever heard it, no hint if she was relieved or horrified. Sam waited some more.
She nodded, shifted sideways enough to take his hand.
He fought a sharp intake of breath that threatened to become a hiss as he caught sight of her blackened, swollen eye, the fingermarks that bruised her neck and wrists. Fury welled again from the center of his soul, no one was ever going to hurt her again. He forced the clamoring emotion from his face, suffocated it back into the cage of a former life she would never know had been. Last thing she needed was him freaking out. "Ready?"
She didn't say another word, but stood and started for the door, tightening her grip on Sam's hand.
Sam followed her out, unconsciously pinching his upper lip with his opposite hand. So she needs a little time to think about this. I do too. All I have to do is be patient, make sure I don't scare her again, and we can talk about this when she's ready. I can do that.
Sam's mind was still mulling his plan to be the calmest, mildest mannered guy on the earth as the two of them neared the end of the sidewalk leading into the hospital parking garage. He was almost too lost in thought to hear the nearly silent click behind him, but maybe that cage never locked all the way after all. Almost...
"He's DEAD you bastard!"
"NO! Jess DOWN!"
Sam felt Jess hit the sidewalk beheath him as he tackled her, heard the shot of the gun combine with the sound of her head hitting pavement for the second time in twelve hours. Opened his mouth to ask if she was ok -- and was stopped short by the metallic drop of blood falling from his lips. Somehow the taste of it restarted his brain, bringing an instant awareness of fire lancing through his back, and then the spark faded as quickly as it came, lost in blessed oblivion.
Jess struggled beneath him, unable to shift his eerily still bulk, life's blood flowing over her neck, soaking her shirt, trailing around her to the ground. She knew none of it was hers. Oh God. "HELP!! SOMEBODY HELP!"