6 months later
"Daddy did you find him yet?" was the question that Connor asked yet again, his voice still hopeful as ever. It had been six months since Cooper had disappeared and James had been stretching himself to the limit trying to find him. He had hired a slew of private detectives while actually going out and doing some of his own searches but none of it had gotten him anywhere. It was like Cooper had just vanished off the face of the earth.
James sighed and very reluctantly shook his head. "No. Not yet."
Connor's face fell and James winced, just feeling absolutely horrible. He was trying his very best to get Cooper home and he wanted Connor to know that but Connor didn't really understand it. Cooper's disappearance was taking a toll on him. James hadn't realized just how dependent Connor was on his big brother until he went away. Connor didn't want to eat, play or do much of anything anymore. All he wanted to do was help find Cooper.
"Why did he leave Daddy?" Connor climbed up on James's lap as he sat down and rested his head on his chest. "Does he hate us now?"
James shook his head again and kissed the top of Connor's head. "No. He's just…he doesn't know what he's doing right now." He didn't know what else to say. He didn't even want to imagine all the possibilities of what Cooper could have possibly gotten himself into. A grief stricken drug addicted teenager out on his own spelled disaster no matter which way it was sliced. He needed to be found before something really bad happened-assuming it already hadn't. He was trying not to think about the possibility, but there was a very good chance that Cooper had died already and it was just a matter of time before his body turned up. He didn't know what he would do then. It was bad enough having lost his son for this long already he didn't know what he would do if he was dead.
"He'll come back though, right?" Connor was staring at him with the widest, saddest eyes that he had ever seen in his life, which only served to make him feel even worse (and he honestly hadn't thought that was possible). "You'll get him to come back, right Daddy?"
"Of course I will," James promised. Deep down he knew he shouldn't be making that kind of promise because he wasn't sure if he could actually keep it. He couldn't help himself though. Connor was already upset enough he didn't want to add to it. "Once I find him I'll get him home. I promise."
"YO! Hak what the hell are you doing?" Tommy Dreamer asked impatiently as he, Beulah and Spike Dudley were loading up the boxes of t-shirts into the truck. Since ECW was NOT a big time promotion by any means, the wrestlers themselves often found themselves doing different jobs to help out. The job tonight was to load the t-shirts up and make sure they got shipped to where they needed to go. They had gotten about halfway done when Sandman suddenly stopped and looked around, his brow furrowed and his cigarette clenched tightly in his teeth.
"Jim come on," Beulah said, shivering slightly from the cold even though she had on Tommy's coat. It was almost Christmas time and the snow and the bitter cold had hit Philadelphia big time. "I want to get out of here."
Sandman didn't answer her. He just held out his hand to shush them and looked around some more. He had thought he heard something and he was trying to see if he heard it again. And he did. He almost didn't but whatever it was knocked over a trash can and completely gave itself away. "What the fuck…" He followed the sound, expecting to see a stray dog or a homeless man or something like that. What he found instead was battered and bloodied teenaged boy curled up on the ground and shivering like crazy. His shirt hanging on by just a couple of shreds and his lips and fingers were starting to turn blue. "Holy fucking shit!"
"What?" Tommy put down the box he was holding and walked over to where Sandman was standing. "What is-shiiit." He went over to the kid and knelt down beside him, actually checking his pulse before taking off his coat and putting it over him.
"Who the hell is that?" Spike asked as he and Beulah came to investigate.
Sandman shook his head as Tommy tried to help the poor kid up. "I have no idea."
"I think he needs a hospital," Tommy announced, cursing loudly when the kid's legs buckled on him and he lost his grip on him. "Hak could you help me?"
Sandman walked over to him and helped get the kid back on his feet, the both of them pretty much just picking him up when he tried to fall back down again. They both could feel every single one of his ribs with the arms they had wrapped around his side and Sandman noticed JUST how gaunt the kid's face was. There was no telling how long it had been since he had last ate. "Spike start the car," he ordered gruffly. "Beulah get the door."
Spike and Beulah both ran off and did what he said. Beulah opened the door and moved the passenger's seat forward so he and Tommy could squeeze into the back with the kid. Once they were in she moved her seat back so she could get in and Spike started driving as soon as she slammed her door shut. "Where exactly is the nearest hospital?"
Tommy just looked at him incredulously. "Seriously? We've only driven you there like a THOUSAND times."
"Yeah, and I'M usually so out of it that I'm not paying a lick of attention," Spike replied in his defense. "So quit giving me crap and direct me."
"No…" The kid's voice was so weak that they didn't hear him at first. "No no no…" He tried to climb over Tommy's lap and reach for the door. "No hospal…no hos-pi-tal…" He was so weak he had trouble even forming the words. "Please…"
"Kid relax," Tommy said as he gently pulled him back away from the door. "You gotta go to the hospital."
"No." He tried to weakly push Tommy away before clinging to Sandman and tugging at his shirt with whatever strength he had left. "Don't please I'm fine. I'm fine I'm fine please I'm fine."
Nobody was buying that one for a second. They had no reason to. It was clear as day that he was sick, mostly likely with hypothermia due to the cold. Spike had cranked the heat on full blast and Tommy was trying to wrap his coat around the kid more tightly but it was hard to tell if it was doing much good at all. His gaunt face was a mirage of bruises and dried blood and he eventually passed out, causing Tommy to check for a pulse again because they were sure for a moment that he was actually dead. He wasn't though. His breathing was weak and there was a chance it wouldn't be long but he hadn't passed on yet. That was hopefully a good sign.
"What are we going to do when we get him there?" Beulah asked. "Are we going to like stay there and make sure he's going to be okay?" Or are we going to leave him there?"
The boys all exchanged looks. "Well…we don't even know him," Spike pointed out. "As long as we get him there we don't actually have to stay there, do we?"
"Not necessarily," Tommy conceded. "I'm not sure how right that is though. I mean, would that feel right to anyone else? Just leaving him there? He might not have anyone else."
"I don't know why it has to be our problem," Sandman said honestly. "We're doing more for him now than most other people would. We don't have to spend our entire night in the hospital for some kid we don't even know."
Beulah pursed her lips, clearly bothered by that. Tommy noticed that and reached forwards so he could grab one of her hands and squeeze it in his. "If we don't stay with him we could come back in the morning to check on him," he suggested. "See if he's alright."
She nodded, seemingly more okay with that answer. They drove the rest of the way in silence, Spike nearly getting into a wreck at one point because he hit a patch of ice. He managed to regain control of the vehicle though and when they got to the hospital, Tommy and Sandman carried him inside while Beulah led the way and Spike went to park the car. The doctors and nurses had about a million questions for them, barely of any that they could answer. When the questions finally stopped they left, Beulah being the most reluctant to go. Tommy had to renew the promise that they would come back in the morning and point out that he was probably not going to be allowed to have any visitors until then anyway. They had no idea how much work needed to be done with him and there was no real sense in staying the entire night in the hospital for someone they didn't even know. Hopefully for him, he had some sort of I.D. on him and the doctors could get a hold of his family to come and help take care of him. He definitely needed someone to do it.