A/N: This is a great attempt for me (way out of comfort zone) but I really appreciated the story. So I saw that at the moment there were only a few Smokin' Aces fanfics so I was like cheyeah let me find out... I do hope that I do some sort of justice. So please reviews & suggestions are more than welcome.

Also, I have a music playlist link for this fanfic up on my author's page.

Chapter 1

"The Temporary Flesh and Bone"

My life was how I liked it, I felt as though I had rightfully become content with what I had made for myself. Somehow, today it was relatively (more or less) different; I could feel it creep through my bones and unsettle me, this more than anything managed to unnerve me. The only thing nowadays that I could find some confidence in was the steadfast familiarity in keeping my cool. Nevertheless, I continued to make my daily rounds. I do in fact love my job, not to be misunderstood, I enjoy that I could fall into a role where I could be needed. Although, adversely there was the likely chance that I would take my job home with me, figuratively speaking. There were plenty of nights where I took home my share of heartache and seclusion and sipped at it nicely. Those who were able to sleep lightly when they crossed their doorframe were the privileged few.

Today… it was just one of those days where I was fed up. I was weary, sick, and jaded by my fill of shit, vomit, and body hair. Many of my coworkers overcome by "intellectual" musings expressed that I was too young to be jaded. But, I was entitled to this disgruntled state, it was a fact of life and I claimed that resignation, mine simply just decided to come along early.

The tingling sensation didn't leave my muscles at all and they expressed fatigue all too vocally for my taste. Quite inconspicuously I stretched my arms as the 5-year-old who sat before me looked on at the television obliviously. Spongebob.

"Are you sure it doesn't hurt?" I murmured, as one tends to do when speaking to a child only capable of innocence.

She skittishly licked at her small dried lips as hunger shone in her green eyes. So she nods and made the bravest face as she leaned forward.

"Okay," I quietly whispered. It was quite commendable that even so young she possessed a strength and tenacity that I found myself wanting. She was entirely terrified to eat anything, has been since they had taken her off ventilation resulting from a case of hypoxemia almost a week ago. With that I watched as her mouth audibly chomped on the plastic spoon and the Mott's apple sauce retreated as her teeth scraped the smooth surface.

"Good girl." I rubbed her hair almost too motherly and I felt the deepest sensation of distress. A gap within me needed so badly to be filled and I saw the all too familiar look of longing reflect in this little girl. It tore at my heart so badly that this was all I was capable of doing to soothe her what with the overwhelming sensation of painkillers pumping through her sought to do. Her tiny fingers rubbed at her sore throat as she fought to respond in her quick short bursts.

"I heard it was your birthday today, Lily Ann." A radiant smile raced across her face. She had been in an almost fatal car collision a little over a week ago. She was lucky and the ironic thing was I don't think she could fathom the weight of that. Her hand in its cast flew to conceal her grinning lips, of which I was the first to sign the growing bedazzlement.

Lily began to giggle uncontrollably. "Yes," her little feet excitedly jigged beneath the blanket. "Hmm, I'm gonna be," she fell to counting brightly on her small fingers, "six!" She nodded profusely, all the while beaming up at me brilliantly.

"Well, it seems that you're a big girl now then, eh. I was going to give you a little something but now I don't know…" I chimed sing songy. It was as if a small fire had lit and sent my spirit flying.

"Nooo," she fumbled a bit before rushing to her knees to clasp her arms about my neck. "I won't tell, okay." Her warm, sweet breath rushed against my skin. She whispered hoarsely and her head bobbed freely.

I pretended to ponder the thought for a minute then lowered my voice to her conspiratorial note. "I guess you can't tell then. Our little promise, ok?" We pinky swore on that and I flipped back the far end of her blanket to withdraw a cloth doll. "I hope you like it. Plus good news, we take the stitches out today," I wiggled my eyebrows and showered her face with hugs and kisses and ran my fingers across the dry, stitched skin on the back of her hand.

Immediately as she could be free from my hold, she snatched the doll from my fingertips and drew it into herself. A lump caught in my throat instantly and I looked at her for quite some time. Gently her hands stroked the brightly colored fabric. She whispered lovingly and continued on crooning quietly.

"She's going to be here, okay?" She looked up at me and all I saw was emptiness. I smoothed her light blond hair behind her ears and kissed her forehead. "Your mom's going to be here, I promise you this. Hey," I propped her chin up, "look at me. It's okay to miss her. But don't cry anymore, okay?" I hugged her tightly to my chest and we both curled up on her hospital bed. Our coloring contrasted the other nicely, hers a creamy pale and mine a deep, even toffee. I wrapped her little fingers in mine and offered as much comfort as I could through our enlaced fingers. We both were so broken, two pieces in this ambiguous world and I only prayed she would suffer in this world far less than I had; as I still continued to do up until this very day. She held within her such a kind of purity that I wanted to desperately protect. She had in her an integrity that I wanted so badly to preserve. I saw so much that I had sacrificed. In her I saw myself.

Subtle sobs wracked her body and I held her even closer. I felt wretched to have promised something I didn't even know how to keep.

It took so much from me to give the seemingly effortless kindness, warmth that she needed so much. I had spent far too long severing my emotions that it ultimately left me all too vulnerable, regardless. I felt I wasn't capable of truly disregarding my inhibitions but I tried for her sake. My small sacrifices paled in worth in comparison to what she was.

She had barely escaped her death. Her mother was far luckier to have escaped without as much as a mark on her body. If it were up to me, her place would have promptly been traded. I placed a kiss on her forehead and watched her fall into sleep.


I exited the room, thankfully without any kind of protest from her sleeping frame. At a loss, I wiped at welling tears. Her mother stood nearby looking just as displaced as I was feeling. She had an arm draped across her already swelling womb, absentmindedly nibbling at her fingertips. "It's my fault," she gasped brokenly. "I should be in there right now, not my baby. You know I told her I didn't love her that day…" Her fingers came to a still over her lips. "She hates me."

Slowly I rubbed my damp fingers across my scrubs. "Kathryn – ah Ms. Delgato it might not be my place to say this to you but right now she needs her mother. Right now, regardless of any kind of reticence she needs you," in that moment I felt myself begin to unravel and I couldn't control the overwhelming emotions that seeped into my voice, "for you to comfort her to reassure her that you love her… and that everything's going to be okay."

She stared at me blankly for a moment. "Thank you," she squeezed her eyes shut and a few drops leaked down her face. She looked through the door's windows then back at me. "I saw you with her earlier" her tone was thickened by phlegm, "you two looked so natural, so good. Oh God… I couldn't go in because when and if I do then it's all gonna hit me." Kathryn shook her head furiously, "I almost lost her. I don't deserve her." You don't deserve to be a mother. I wanted to scream that to her twisted face. But as with life, sometimes you didn't get to choose who got what.

I simply said, "Well, that doesn't matter now." I shuffled pass her to open the door to Lily Ann's room. Go, I mouthed. With nothing further to say she made her way into the room, peeled off her jacket, then leaned to kiss her daughter awake. I took great solace in these stolen moments. They came too few and infrequent in my life. Envy and happiness rung in my heart and I felt that I was grateful for this day.

Slowly, I walked away with my hands clasped behind my back. Sometimes I felt as though I didn't know what to think. At times I was so tightly coiled and constrained I could barely function. Listlessly I looked on at the unfolding hallway, swiping my badge across the sensor and took the stairs two at a time.


Begrudgingly, I always slated this particular stop for the last of my rounds. To me it always seemed as if all the other NA's seemed to pass the undesirables off unto me due to my lack of seniority or more decidedly due to a complete conspiracy of favoritism. So surreptitiously his bed was rejected by a majority of the staffed to settle on my shoulders. Anyway, I bit my gall and ensued on the current course.

By the time I got to my destination I was taxed and looking forward to the end of the day. Well, this was in a way a kind of assessment for me, a sort of reflection of sorts. JOHN DOE, I thumbed through his charts. They and taken him off ventilation this morning.

"Hey John," I looked at his still frame nonchalantly figuring how to go about my duties. "Long time no see." I secured a stray lock behind my ear, peering into his square face.

Everyone knew quite well who this man was, it was purely for the sake of security issues that his identity was kept mum, thinly veiled at that.

I brushed the hair away from his forehead and for a minute I let myself be drawn in by his subdued features. My fingers trailed lightly across the beard that dusted his face lightly. His crude Mohawk was growing out in patches. He was so still, lifeless. Anyone would be terrified of death after seeing this. No one deserved this. That was even a far bound for me because at the moment a few faces flitted before me.

I took to him in a way which frightened me. I cleaned his body, I tended his bedsores, and I promised myself that he was the moral corruption and defilement of all sanctity. But those thoughts were only futile; I would always be drawn in by his kind. I watched him die then make his way back to life as he fought off a secondary infection. He still had plenty of fight left in him. "You're not so bad are you?"

"It won't be smooth sailing until a while John. Yeah, ditto." A smile deepened and eased the nerves in my face. I fell into a rhythm and began to undress him and continued our little one-sided banter, "Yeah I don't think I'd imagine this for myself either but the bedsores aren't that bad. Just kidding, you don't have any, well if it weren't for me now… It'll take more than terrible humor to kill you, won't it?" I ran the cool sponge over his bared skin. A flush heated my skin as I tried to be as professional as I could muster up for some sort of decency. He was quite handsome now that I considered it. Quite so, with hooded brow shading a concealed cool color, high cheekbones, and full lips. Uneasily I shoved that thought from my mind.

"It's odd but sometimes I really feel that you're the only friend I have in this world…" I was a bit taken aback by my own admission but no one was here to tell my secrets. I was scared and I felt that more than anything. Anyone with a heavy past or present, for them this was a constant weight and shame. Quickly I wiped at a tear with the back of my hand. "Sorry for leaking all over you, DT."

Hastily I finished up with only a nurse interrupted momentarily to check is vitals and made her log. We exchanged a tepid acknowledgement before she left. I made a mental check list to stop by the grocery store and cleaners on my way home. Time always moved as quickly as you needed it to when not contemplating time. "I'll have to give you a shave next time," I chimed while patting his shoulder. With a lingering stare over my shoulder I left the room. The guard on duty apparently was already on break.

At this point and time I would've done anything for a warm shower to weed out the kinks. Maybe it was the fact that I had an incredible innate sense of intuition but I could feel my nerve endings stand on end whenever Michael approached. A fellow Nursing Assistant, unfortunately he wasn't the kind you wanted to be around. He was lookable (yes on my scale of tolerableness) but you wanted to steer clear of his hands if you get what I mean.

"Not today, Michael. I'm not in the mood; yes I'm on my period with severe period cramps." I said the first male deterrent that seemed feasible in his ever working mind.

"Don't they have shit for that?" He scratched at his head lamely and continued to follow me into the locker area. He did posses a kind of decency for he waited outside half-shouting our unfinished conversation through the door. "So what are you doing tonight?"

"Well, nothing Mike. I'm just a little exhausted. Bekka's a bitch and wants to make my life a little more complicated by fucking overbooking me," I yelled back at him. I didn't waste any time in shrugging on a sweat shirt and grabbing my keys.

"She just likes you, is all."

"Really? Well, I surely would prefer not to have any of her loving at all then." He followed me back out into the hallway. "But yeah, just give me a rain check for," I thought for a second, "this weekend maybe?"

"'K babe. Santi you better not forget, I'm holding you to this one." He gave me a sheepish grin before heading off in the opposite direction.

The sky unfolded in a tumultuous grey as I weaved through the parking lot to make my way to my car. The day would soon be over and all the worries that were in me I relinquished and let it slide from my weary body.