A little fic for a show that went off the air over thirty years ago, but it was fun while it lasted. I want to thank Alice for being my beta.

Bluesy, this is for you.

After the Bullet

Chapter One

June, 1967

Commissioner Dennis Randall sipped his bourbon from a paper cup. He used to have four heavy crystal tumblers for just such occasions. Two had been stolen by person or persons unknown and one smashed by an inebriated mayoral candidate. The last glass he broke himself; thrown at the wall when he'd heard Robert T. Ironside had been shot dead. Dennis could have saved the glass; Bob Ironside was too damn tough for a single bullet to kill.

"Bessie, see you in the morning and if anyone comes looking for me tell them you don't know where the hell I am." Randall slammed the door and stalked down the hall hoping the look on his face would keep everyone away. His driver was waiting for him in the garage but the Commissioner just waved him away and took an unmarked police car.

0o0o0

"I don't need or want a vacation."

"Bob, be reasonable, you haven't had a vacation in years. It's not like I'm asking you to go to Disneyland, it's just my chicken farm. It's a nice quiet place and you can relax before you explode."

"I will not explode." Ironside slammed his fist on the commissioner's desk.

"I know some people would think that was an explosion. Get out, get drunk; just don't come back until your blood pressure is down. Then maybe my blood pressure will go down too." Randall stood up and leaned on his desk, "don't make me have to get the police surgeon to sign us out as incompetent and the infirm for two weeks."

"You wouldn't dare." Ironside leaned forward until he was a nose to nose to the only man he considered his boss.

The Commissioner picked up the phone, "just watch me."

Bob Ironside tried to haggle the time down. "One week?"

"Two weeks, this is not a jail sentence Bob, it's a vacation. In two weeks you'll come back clearheaded, rested and ready for anything I tell you to do. Got that?"

"Got it."

0o0o0

"See, I'm not feeling guilty and avoiding you, Bob." Randall whispered as if trying to convince himself as he swerved into the parking lot, yet the Commissioner hesitated before he walked into the hospital. It was late, after visiting hours, and Randall expected he'd be stopped and told to leave. Still, it had been a long drive and he wasn't going to be turned around easily."

"I've been expecting you." Randall startled and turned to find a white habited nun inspecting him and finding him wanting; very wanting. "You know Robert has been asking for you."

"I don't believe I've had the pleasure," Randall swallowed and pasted an insincere smile on his face.

"I'm Sister Agatha and you are Police Commissioner Dennis Randall. I'm the head of the nursing staff here at St. Mary's. Robert had very extensive surgery and we have kept him heavily sedated. You are lucky, we've been tapering his medications and he should be able to have reasonable conversations soon."

The Commissioner slowly let out the breath he didn't realize he was holding. Maybe this was a sign to turn around and leave.

"However, if you would care to sit with him for awhile, it would be a good thing. I am sure he has a lot to say but I doubt it will make very much sense."

"But Sister, if he isn't coherent."

"Oh, I never said he was incoherent. Robert is in the initial stage of recovery, where pain and being in a hospital are his only reality. That is when a patient needs friends the most, needs to know he hasn't been forgotten. Are you Robert's friend?"

"That's why I'm here."

"Yes, you finally showed up, follow me"

0o0o0

"Bob."

Ironside grimaced and pulled in a shuddering breath.

"Bob, I'll just sit here and wait. If you want to talk, talk. I've never been able to stop you."

"Dennis? Where in flamin' hell have you been? If this is what I get from going to your flamin' chicken farm, you can shove…"

"Well, it's nice to see some things haven't changed." Randall settled his hand on Ironside's arm, avoiding the IV in his hand. "How are you feeling, Bob?"

The Chief pulled in a shuddering breath. "It hurts getting shot. You should try it sometime."

"I'll trust you on that." The Commissioner watched Ironside pull in a few more ragged breaths, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

"Still haven't got the bastard who shot me yet, have you."

"No, not yet; Carl Reese and Ed Brown have been assisting the Sonoma County Sheriff's department with the investigation. It was a sniper, Bob; he's got at least a ten hour head start on us and the Sheriff isn't happy about us stepping all over their jurisdiction."

Ironside shifted his gaze to the ceiling; "if you haven't made any progress I'll take the case over when I get out."

"For now, just concentrate on getting better, okay. You'll be in the hospital at least another two weeks."

"Months, I'll be in this damn hospital at least another month." Ironside shifted his eyes to his friend, taking in the confusion he saw there. "You don't know, do you?"

A knock on the door interrupted the men. Sister Agatha motioned the Commissioner out the door as two orderlies came in. "Just for a few moments, sir, there is a schedule we have to keep."

"Pancake time, Dennis, come back when they're done, there's more to say." Ironside's eyes were more focused now; there was definitely something on his mind. The Commissioner nodded, not knowing what pancake time was but knowing he had to wait until it was over. The orderlies had barely left the room when Randall sidled in to find Ironside flipped over; hanging face to the floor in a sandwich like harness.

"Your shoes need shining," the rumble of Bob's voice bounced from the floor.

"Ah, what the hell," Randall groaned as he levered himself to lie on the floor so he could look his friend in the eye. "Just tell me I won't have to do this every time I come here?"

"As me no questions and I shall tell you no lies," if Bob's eyes weren't so glazed they would have twinkled. "It won't be long, just waiting for the stitches to come out and then I'll have to get back on my feet. When you sent me on that little vacation you never thought I'd be out for six weeks instead of just two. In the meantime, I'm going to want all the reports in my hands or I'll die of boredom."

"Mr. Ironside, it is time for all good little policemen to go to sleep so say good bye to your friend and take the pills I have here for you." The German nun sounded not like an angel of mercy but like a prison camp guard.

"Good bye, friend." Bob reached out and grabbed the Commissioner's shoulder, "Dennis, when you come again, bring me those files. I'll be waiting."

"I'll bring them next time." Randall levered himself up coming nose to nose with Sister Agatha. She shifted his eyes to the door, silently commanding him to wait for him. He nodded once and jammed his hat on his head. "Later, Bob."

Randall didn't have to wait long before the nun joined him.

"Don't come back."

The Commissioner was so stunned he couldn't reply.

"Chief Ironside believes he will walk out of here in a month and take up his life where he left. That is not going to happen. He was shot in the spine, severing the spinal cord and he will never walk again. If you wish speak to his surgeon I can arrange for him to be available to you, but he won't tell you anything different than I am now."

"Does he know?"

"No, the doctor will tell him when he feels the time is right." Agatha saw that Randall was about to protest, she stared him down. "For the moment, we want him to concentrate on getting well. You're a busy man, I'm sure you can find excuses not to come back before the Chief has been informed of his prognosis."

Randall rubbed the bridge of his nose, "And when will that be?"

"I'll keep you informed," she smiled and that smile softened her face. "If you want, I can call you everyday, if you like."

"Yes, I would like that very much," Randall pulled a card from his jacket pocket, "use this number and you'll get to me directly. I'll see about doing what I can through the department."

"Yes, that is what a good friend would do. Come, I'll see you to the door."

tbc

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