At the hospital a few hours later, Pete slowly starts coming around. At first his eyelids feel weighted down. He battles to just crack them open. With that first look the brightness is shocking, and he squeezes them shut. A dull throb pounds in his head. He reaches up to explore the source and touches a soft bandage over his eye. Daring to open his eyes again, this time they start to adjust. Some clear plastic tubing dances over his chest from the IV attached to the back of his right hand. He glances down and sees a new cloth sling wrapped snug around his bent left arm. The gut wrenching pain he experienced on the ambulance ride to the hospital is now a subtle discomfort. His mind feels a bit fuzzy and his mouth dry. He can only guess it's from the new pain medications on board. The sterile hospital room seems warm with sunrays bouncing off the empty bed alongside his. Perspiration beaded up on his forehead and over his lip. A likely fever is the cause. Pete seems content to just close his eyes and savor the quiet.
But his quiet is short-lived. Moments later the door flings open and in rolls a wheelchair carrying Jim Reed with a large entourage of nurses, orderlies, family, and friends. The beehive of activity revolves around the other bed in the room. Just the process of getting Jim into the bed is a noisy one. Pete keeps his eyes closed hoping the mass of humanity will leave after Jim is settled in. He hears the nurse checking to see if Jim needs another pillow for under his right knee. "No thank you. One is enough," comes a fatigued friend's voice. The voices of Jean, Mac, and Ed stand out among the many others present. Jim delivers a thank you to the lot in the room and gradually one by one they exit. "Thanks again, Ed, for watching over Jimmy."
"He's a great kid, Jim, and a brave little one too. Get some rest and give my best to Malloy," as Wells goes out the door.
"Honey, I'm going to go call Mom to see if Jimmy's doing ok, and then I'll be back to sit with you."
"Ok, Jean, but why don't you take the nurse's offer to lay down in the extra room. Babe, you look really tired."
"Maybe you're right. I could take just a short nap."
"That sounds good." A quiet spell occurs as a soft kiss is exchanged before Jean leaves the room.
Now a deep familiar voice speaks up. "Jim, I know you're tired, but can I ask you a couple questions?"
"Sure, Mac. Go ahead."
"What can you tell me about Michael Hayes?"
"Mac, he was there and behind it all. After the accident with Pete I woke in the trunk of a car. They pulled me out at the Sunland warehouse. Hayes came in and asked where Kathy Royal was."
"Was that the only time you had seen him?"
"I heard him talking another time just before we drove out in a van. I believe he got in the van, but that's the last I remember of him. He was determined to get this girl."
"Jim, he was on a mission to take out you and Miss Royal. We think he arranged to have David Bolanz killed, too."
Mac could see Jim digesting the new information. "How did that happen? He was in custody?"
"Bolanz was stabbed to death in the exercise yard."
Just then, a hoarse voice from the other bed asks, "Did you … get Hayes?"
Slightly startled by his words, Mac glances over at Pete. He sees his eyes are cracked open. He looks back and forth between his two injured men feeling an assortment of different things at the moment. Worried about their health, frustrated that Hayes evaded them, and disappointed that he couldn't prevent this from happening all together. "No, Pete. We haven't apprehended him yet. I'm sorry Pete if we woke you."
"You didn't, Mac."
Looking back at Reed Mac says, "Jim, just one more question for now. Can you think of anything else that might help us find Hayes?"
Jim runs his hand through his hair trying to clear his mind and abruptly stops when he touches the sutured up laceration. He shows a brief pained expression. "Mac, I remember them talking about getting a call at a bar. I think it was called Casey's."
"That's just great, Jim. I'll see if we can turn up something there." Mac wanders over to Pete's bedside. He leans slightly on the bed rails. "So how are you feeling Pete?"
"Let's just say … I have had better days."
Mac hears the roughness to Pete's voice. "Here Pete. Have a drink of water." He picks up a pitcher of water on the side table beside the bed and pours a small cup. He holds it out to Pete. "Do you want me to help you?"
"I got it." Pete takes the cup with his right hand and sips the cool liquid. "Thanks."
"Well, both of you need to focus on resting and recuperating for a good while. I do have an officer stationed outside your hospital room, but I sense the immediate threat is gone. We believe we have all of Hayes's men in custody now."
"Good to hear, Mac. And thanks for showing up when you did at Reed's. It was getting really ugly fast."
"Pete, you did a nice job getting the message across over the phone. Well, I better leave you two to rest. I have some work to finish at the station. Call if you need anything."
Both men acknowledge their exiting Sergeant.
After a brief period of silence, Pete speaks up, "How are you doing, Partner?"
Jim rolls his head to the left on the pillow to see his friend. "Well, I'm feeling… really sore, but very grateful to be here, and I'm thankful that you're ok too. Pete, it's hard to say it, but it was touch and go a few times."
"Jim, I'm so sorry." A long pause then, "I really wish I could have prevented this."
"Pete, you couldn't have known what Hayes would do. To what lengths he would go."
"Oh, but I could have guessed. That's just it. And to have Jean and Jimmy in danger …" Jim could hear the frustration in Pete's voice.
"Pete, don't. You did everything you could. I knew I could count on you to protect my family when I couldn't." Both men lie quietly for a moment. "Thank you, Pete, for being my partner and my friend."
Pete holding back emotionally says, "Jim, get some sleep." With battered and bruised bodies, the exhaustion factor weighs heavily on each. The two finally drift off to sleep, and the process of healing begins.
Two months later the Reed home is the gathering place for a few off-duty officers. The plan of watching a Los Angeles Lakers game together brought a sense of normalcy for both himself and his partner. After hearing a few taps at the door, Jim opens it to find Pete holding a six-pack of beer in his right hand with his left arm still occupied in a sling. "Come on in, Pete. Let me take that for you." Pete gladly hands off the beverages.
"Where is my favorite godson?" rolls off Pete's tongue as he strides into the living room glancing around in the process.
"Jean took Jimmy to her mother's place. She thought this might not be the best place for them today."
"Ah, that's too bad. I haven't seen my little man for a while now." Just then the doorbell rings. Jim is putting the beer away in the refrigerator so Pete speaks up. "I'll get it." He goes and opens the door. There stands Brinkman and Woods dressed in casual clothes with Wells walking up from his car parked at the curb.
"Hey there, Pete. You're looking a lot better," spouts Jerry. As they walk in he then asks, "How much longer do you have to wear the sling?"
"Maybe a couple more weeks at the most." A hint of frustration comes through his voice.
"Well, it will be good to have you back at the station soon."
Jim pipes in, "Does anyone want a cold beer?" All the guys shout out yeah. Pete walks over to the television and turns it on. He flips through the channels till he comes to the pregame show. Ed carries over a couple beers and hands one off to Pete. He notices all the bruising on Pete's face is gone and only a hint of pink scarring can be seen over his left eye.
"How are you doing, Pete?"
"Just fine, Ed. I'm just getting a bit anxious to get back to work. Have you heard anymore updates on Hayes?"
"Yeah, they took him into custody in Arizona yesterday. He is being brought back to Los Angeles as we speak."
Ed sees a sense of relief wash over Pete's face. "Good. That closes the book on him, and Jim can move forward."
"Jim seems to be handling everything pretty well. You would hardly know what he's been through. Weren't the two of you in court last week when some of Hayes's men had arraignments?"
"Yes, but I will be more happy to see Michael Hayes facing the judge."
Both Jerry and Bob wander into the living room. "Is the game starting yet?
Pete answers, "I think in about ten minutes."
Jim pops his head out of the kitchen doorway. "Hey, guys, Jean made a big batch of chili. Come grab a bowl before it starts."
In a few short weeks Central Division will have Pete and Jim back in Adam-12 cruising the streets again.
*** Thanks to everyone who took the time to give a review. The feedback can be a very helpful tool for me. Thanks again to my beta! I hope a new story will start to play out over the holidays.