Title: Biting The Bullet

Author: hexicode aka illman

Fandom/pairing (if appropriate): FAKE; Dee/Ryo

Summary: Wherein Ryo and Dee both learn that you should never jump to conclusions without having all the facts.

Rating: PG-13

Warnings: angst, violence (not overly graphic), allusions to child abuse

Disclaimers: The characters and settings aren't mine. No profit is being made, this is for entertainment only.

A/N: Written for hc_bingo on livejournal, prompt: loss of vision. This story is complete.

Ryo had not had a good week and the weekend wasn't shaping up to be any better either. He never liked working on the weekends on account of Bicky, but sometimes it just couldn't be avoided, especially when they had a big case like the serial arsonist that had been roaming in their patch for the past six month and that they were no closer to catching.

Weighing much more heavily on his mind were matters closer to home however. At the best of times, Dee and Bicky barely tolerated each other, but the past week things had come to a head. It had started with a call from Bicky's teacher, informing Ryo that Bicky was in danger if being held back if his grades didn't improve dramatically. Ryo had felt both disappointed and guilty at hearing the news and Dee had been anything but supportive when Bicky had run out after the ensuing argument.

Ryo had lived two days of worry until Bicky had turned up at the precinct on Wednesday morning having been arrested for shoplifting at a deli. The owner had been insisted to press charges and Dee's not so hidden agreement had made Ryo even angrier. Things had been all around tense at the apartment, not just between Dee and Bicky. Dee thought Bicky was and would always be a delinquent and Ryo was too soft to handle him that he had made no secret of.

For his part, Ryo was at a loss about what to do with Bicky, especially with the constant fights between him and Dee. Then on Friday, after a hellish week, it was Dee and Ryo who had a big blowout which had culminated in Ryo asking Dee to stay out of the apartment for a while, until he got things settled with Bicky. Dee had reacted exactly like Ryo had feared. Now there he was on Saturday, making breakfast for himself and Bicky, with Dee, who normally stayed over most nights and account of Ryo living much closer to the precinct, nowhere to be seen. Ryo had already called top apologize, having felt regret soon after their argument at work, but Dee hadn't picked up the phone and his messages had gone unreturned.

Now Ryo was worried and Bicky was openly gloating. He was going to spend the weekend upstate with a youth group. The trip had been organized months ago and Bicky seemed to genuinely look forward to it. Ryo hadn't had the heart to tell him that he couldn't go. Maybe he really was too soft with Bicky, Ryo thought as he turned off the stove and carried the frying pan over to the table where Bicky already sat waiting.

Ryo filled both of their plates and sat down to eat, but he wasn't hungry. He had to force himself to finish his plate and a piece of toast. Bicky was devouring his second helping with gusto when he got up. In that moment the doorbell rang. Wondering who it could possibly be and secretly hoping that it was Dee, Ryo went to open the door. He glanced through the peephole and indeed standing outside was Dee. Standing wasn't exactly the correct term. Dee was leaning against the door frame, seeming to barely be able to stay on his feet. Worried, Ryo yanked open the door. Before he had the chance to say something, Dee launched himself at him wrapping him in a hug. The smell of cigarettes and alcohol enveloped Ryo, nearly choking him. Instinctively he pushed Dee away.

"What the hell have you been doing?" Ryo asked not sure if he should be shocked or angry at Dee for turning up drunk less than two hours before they were due at work. Rose was going to bite his head off!

"Came to apologize," Dee slurred. Ryo's anger melted instantly. "Come on," he took Dee by the arm and steered him towards the bedroom. "What were you thinking getting this drunk?"

"Thinking of you!" Dee gave him a lopsided grin and tried to pull him into another hug. Ryo shook him of and steered Dee towards the bathroom. "Go get a shower and get changed. I'll make some more coffee."

Ryo turned towards the kitchen, when Dee snagged his sleeve. "Aren't you going to come with me?" Dee asked in a tone he no doubt thought was husky. To Ryo, all he did was sound drunk.

"No, I'm not. You need to sober up and fast! Rose is going to have your job if you turn up plastered."

Ryo turned away again only to run into Bicky, hands on his hips, wearing a scowl on his face.

"Why'd you let him in?" he challenged. "He's probably been out all night doing it with some other guy."

"Don't say that," Ryo admonished, but in his heart he couldn't help wonder if it was true.

"He's just using you!" Bicky growled.

"Bicky, I'll deal with him. Go back to the kitchen."

"I hope you throw him out for good!" Bicky called, but headed back to the kitchen as he was told. Ryo stayed behind, leaning against the door frame. The shower hadn't started yet and he was growing worried despite his anger. He waited another two minutes then worry got the better of him. The bathroom door was unlocked. He pressed the handle and opened the door. Dee was sitting slumped against the wall, half undressed, snoring peacefully.

Ryo kneeled down to wake him, but when he spotted the lipstick marks on Dee's just, he stopped cold. Bicky had been right: Dee had been trawling the bars, obviously with some success.

"Dee!" Ryo slapped the other man's face maybe a bit harder than necessary.

"Mhm," Dee muttered, his eyes opening a slit.

"Dee, where were you last night?"

"Don't remember," Dee muttered and his eyes closed again. "'Shame, cause she's really, really hot."

That did it. Ryo pulled Dee unceremoniously to his feet. Dee's eyes sprang open at the rough treatment.

"Why are you so mad?"

Only Dee would dare to ask that, Ryo fumed.

"One guess, Dee. Just a tiny guess, but apparently you killed off the last of your brain cells last night!" Ryo exploded. "Get yourself sorted and then get out!"

Ryo turned on his heel.

"Where are you going?" Dee asked sounding more sober now.

"To work! And I don't want to see you here when I get back. And before you ask, I won't make up any excuses for you when Rose asks where you are."

Without a look back, Ryo stormed out of the apartment.

oOo

The morning at the office passed uneventfully. Dee arrived around 10. He didn't chance a chance to sit down before a furious Rose pulled him aside into his office. Ryo didn't have to strain to heat the exchange of angry words, but for once he didn't even try to intervene. It served Dee right of he got put on patrol for a few weeks, Ryo thought grimly.

He was just about to take his lunch break when Rose walked into the bull open, urgency in his stride.

"Listen up everyone. We just got word of a hostage station at Brownlow Shopping Centre. I need everyone, and I mean everyone," Rose's eyes fixed on Dee, "to be on deck for this one."

"What's the situation?" Drake asked.

"An as of yet unknown male is holding several patrons and staff of a fast food restaurant hostage. We believe that there are several children among the hostages, but we don't have any names yet."

"What are his demands?"

"We don't know. None have been made yet as far as we known and no shots have been fired. That's all we know for now, so get into gear. We leave in five minutes."

While everyone hastily prepared to leave, Rose walked over to Ryo. "We'll be needing your skills on this one."

"I understand, sir," Ryo replied.

oOo

Four hours later, the argument with Dee was the last thing on Ryo's mind. Crouched on the ground of the roof of the building across the street, he observing and waiting, all his attention focused on the events taking place in the restaurant staff room where the hostage taker had barricaded himself along with at least seven hostages that Ryo had been able to make out from his position.

So far, all attempts to enter into negotiation with the man had failed. They knew nothing about his motives or his identity, which made a resolution without bloodshed a rather unlikely possibility.

oOo

Dee suppressed as sigh as he fast forwarded through yet another tape of CCTV footage from the large mall. Rose, still angry with him for showing up hung over to work, had ordered him to liaise with mall security, trace the movements of the hostage taker and if at all possible find out how he was. So far, he had had no luck on any of these tasks. Ryo who was the only one with a visual on the situation in the break room had reported that the man was white and wore jeans and an army jacket, but his face was obscured by a ski mask. There were restrooms inside the restaurant where he'd probably had put on his disguise after entering the restaurant and a forensic teams was searching for clues, but with little hope of success. For the past three hours, Dee had been running through the footage from the camera covering the entrance to the restaurant, but had found anything promising. Dee was just about to ask the security guard next to him if there was some place he could get a coffee when, on the tape, a young man in jeans and a bulky army jacket stepped into the frame. He appeared nervous, lingering for a few moments, as if eying the past-lunch queue, then he walked out of the frame again, in direction of the restrooms. Dee fast forwarded, anxiously waiting for the young man to come back on screen. Without warning the screen went static. Dee swore. Dee noted the time code and checked the recordings from the other cameras covering the restaurant, but they had all stopped registering at the same time. By the time the feed came back on-line four minutes later the young man had already barricaded himself in the staff break room.

Dee activated the radio clipped to his ear and relayed the news to the rest of the team.

"Get a sill of this guy and send it over to the precinct, we need an ID on him. Tell them to run every background check on this guy that they can think of. I want to know everything about him. If he managed to disable the cameras at exactly the right time, he must have been planning this." Rose's voice crackled over the radio.

"Yes, sir," Dee replied and turned to the technician sitting next to him in the security office. "I need the best still image of him that you can get. We need a good shot of his face," he ordered, trying to ignore his throbbing headache. It was going to be a long day.

oOo

Afternoon was turning into evening as Ryo crouched motionless, maintaining a bead on the gunman's back, the man never seemed to stand still for a second, making his job much hard He paced continually stepping in and out of view, but kept his weapon trained on the corner of the room, where a heat sensitive camera set up by the SWAT team had confirmed the hostages were located. By now, not only had Dee and the security personally be able to ascertain the identity of the gunman, they had identified the majority of the twelve hostages as well, five of which were under seventeen, apparently part of a group of friend who had been hitting the restaurant before heading to the pictures.

"Alert everyone, we just had multiple gunshots from the break room. MacLean, Dover, do either of you have a visual?" the voice of the SWAT captain addressed the two sharp shooters.

"Negative," came Dover's reply over the radio. Ryo was just above the give the same reply, when the gunman whirled around and for a second, the hem of his army jacket hitched up. What Ryo saw made him shiver.

"He's wired," he barked ever the radio. Multiple voices spoke at one in reply, causing a burst of static over the radio.

"Repeat please." The SWAT captain's voice came over the line,

"He's wired and it looks like it's activated," Ryo repeated. "Appears to be C4. It looks like he's got something in his left hand that might be the detonator."

"Shit, why the hell didn't anyone see this earlier?"

"Everyone, we're moving back. MacLean, Dover hold your position, everyone else behind the perimeter." The SWAT leader ordered.

oOo

The SWAT leader ordered came at the same time as a crashing noise from inside the break room. The door flew open with a bang and a teen came staggering outside, blood spattered over her clothes. Something appeared to be seriously wrong with her - she was clutching her throat with both hands. The gunman flickered into view for a second and fired a shot, hitting the girl from behind. She collapsed to the ground without making a sound.

Ignoring procedure, Dee dove out from behind the delivery crates where he had been positioned into the open corridor. He lunged for the fallen teen and started to pull her out of harm's way.

One step, two steps. Safety was coming into view when pain exploded in his head and he knew nothing more.

oOo

JJ saw Dee go down next to the injured girl. He didn't waste a second, never questioning his actions as he leapt out of hiding himself. The gunman's back was momentarily turned and he could hear him shout incoherently at the other hostages. One step, two, maybe another three. JJ reached the girl. A fraction of a second sufficed to see her chest still moving. JJ lugged her into a fireman's carry. His eyes roamed over to were Dee was motionless on the floor. The halo of blood around his head nearly turned JJ's stomach.

For the moment he had no choice but the leave him.

He needed to get the injured girl out first.

JJ traversed the corridor quickly, praying that the gunman was too caught up in his delusional tirade to notice what was going on. He finally reached the waiting SWAT team member, handing off the girl. The man tried to hold him back, but JJ broke free and went back for Dee.

He'd almost made it to the fallen man's side when a bullet buried itself in the wall inches from his head. He threw himself over Dee's motionless body, unsure if the man was alive or not. They were trapped and JJ knew it. More gunfire followed and JJ felt a bullet slam into his arm. He expected another possibly fatal hit, but all he heard was the shattering of glass, then everything was silent.

oOo

Only when he saw the gunman's neck explode and a mass of bone and blood and felt the report of the rifle rippled through his body, Ryo's mind left the singular space it had occupied for the past seven hours, he felt the protests of his stiffened muscles.

His body acted on training as he secured and dismantled his rifle. He had well heard it on the radio before - Latener's down, but the words hadn't truly registered until now. Now that they did, he still couldn't grasp the implication. His rational mind knew very well what must have happened. Somewhere in the hail of gunfire and panicked shouts he'd heard over the radio, Dee had been caught in the line of fire. His mind came up with unbidden images of Dee's bullet riddled body, lying dead in a pool of blood. Ryo closed his eyes, pressing the heels of his hands against his eyelids, trying to chase away the images but he couldn't. He felt dizzy and not just because he had hardly eaten all day. He tried to will himself to move, to gather his equipment and head over to the make-shift command post in the mall, but his body wouldn't comply. He was peripherally aware of the voices speaking to him over the radio, but the voice he really needed to hear wasn't among them and at the moment, that was all that mattered.

Ryo didn't know how long he'd been on the roof, watching night settled over the city when a warm hand landed on his shoulder.

"Ryo?" Ryo slowly turned, suddenly aware that he was shivering. He wrapped his arms around himself and gave Rose a questioning look.

"Are you all right?" Rose asked, his voice more compassionate than Ryo had thought the man capable of.

Ryo just shook his head. It took all the restraint he had not to laugh hysterically.

"I was going to head to the hospital. I figured you'd want a ride," Rose explained the reason for his presence.

Ryo nodded, not trusting himself to speak right now. He needed to see Dee. He needed to see his body for himself.

oOo

Like in trance, Ryo watched people and buildings pass by as Rose drove them to the hospital. Rose has several times tried to initiate a conversation, but Ryo wasn't in the mood, his mind was elsewhere. The events of the morning replayed in his mind in a cruel loop. He shouldn't have reacted the way he did. Sure, Dee shouldn't have cheated on him, if that was indeed what had happened, but Ryo should have kept his temper in check and gotten the full story first, before telling Dee that he didn't want to see him anymore.

oOo

His head hurt. He had no recollection of why he was in such pain. All he could dredge up from the darkness were brief images of what appeared to be a party. The memory of strange faces, loud music and dancing lights brought more pain to his head.

A hangover? Possible, but that didn't hurt half as much.

He tried to open his eyes, but something was wrong. He couldn't make out anything more than shadows. He blinked several times but his vision didn't improve at all. Panic began rising inside of him as he wondered what had happened to him.

"Dee?" He heard a voice and felt a hand on his.

"I...can't see," Dee managed, his discomfort growing.

"It's okay. You're safe," the voice, familiar somehow, reassured him. "You're in hospital."

Hospital? Dee tried to turn his head towards the source of the voice, but the slightest movement of his head caused immediate agony. He screamed despite himself as unconsciousness threatened to overwhelm him.

The voice was talking to him again and suddenly there were more voices all around him. They were too much and they were hurting his head. Didn't they understand? Dee moaned, trying to tell them to go away, but unable to form the words. He felt the prick of a needle followed by a rush of cold and then nothing.

oOo

JJ regarded Dee face for a few more moments, but he was seemed indeed unconscious again. Feeling his own pain from where he had been shot, JJ got up from the uncomfortable plastic chair, gathered the magazine he had liberated earlier from a waiting room, and, with one last look at Dee, headed for the door. He was just put the door when he spotted Rose and Ryo coming down the hallway. While Rose looked his usual confident self, Ryo looked pale and shaken; his posture unusually slumped, head hanging.

"How's he doing?" Rose asked JJ.

"He's in and out. He hasn't really come to yet. Doctors say that it could be a while. Apparently, the scans show a lot of swelling, but no damage, so they are pretty sure it's temporary."

"What's temporary?" Ryo asked ion a rough voice.

Rose regarded the sharpshooter curiously while JJ wondered why the commissioner hadn't taken the opportunity to fill Ryo in on the details off Dee's injuries on the way.

"Didn't you hear anything I told you?" Rose asked, but his voice showed only compassion. "The doctors think that because of the swelling, there is pressure being put on his optical nerve."

"So, he...he's blind?" Ryo stammered going even paler.

"Most likely only temporarily," Rose reassured him. "They were waiting to do more tests once he's fully awake. Why don't you go to see him while I talk to his doctor?" Rose suggested.

Ryo nodded, but didn't move.

"As for you," Rose turned to JJ, "I suggest you go home and get some sleep before you start working on your report." JJ winced at the anger in his superior's voice. He had broken the rules in going after Dee and he knew it. But not saving the other man's life hadn't been an option in his mind. He had been ready to die to save Dee's life and he always would be, even if Rose couldn't understand that. Besides, he had saved that girl's life too. She had been hospitalized as well, but JJ had already inquired about her and learned that she was expected to make a full recovery. Apparently, her bout of panic had been due to a severe asthma attack and that was why she had run.

"Yes, sir," he replied stiffly. He could use some sleep, although he doubted he would be able to rest very well. The bullet wound to his arm stung and the pain would undoubted get worse as the pain killers wore off. But he had been lucky; the wound had been merely a deep graze. It could have been much worse.

oOo

Ryo hovered in the doorway to Dee's room, but couldn't bring himself to step inside. Instead of the relief he should be feeling at the news of Dee's survival, he only felt guilt and dread. Their argument seemed much further removed than twelve hours, but the words spoken were burned into his memory. He desperately needed to make it up to Dee, but he didn't know. He was almost glad that the other man was unconscious, postponing their conversation for the moment.

oOo

Rose ended up dropping Ryo off at his apartment, but Ryo couldn't bear the empty space for long. He stayed just long enough to take a shower and change. He had a ton of paperwork to complete and it wouldn't hurt to get a head start.

"I hear congratulations are in order." Ryo looked up and saw Drake standing next to his desk, wearing a big grin. "From what I heard it was one shot in a million. A second later and the kid would have killed JJ. He's still alive thanks to you. I hope the lovesick SOB said thanks." Drake said only half joking. JJ's crush on Dee was public knowledge around the precinct.

"He did," Ryo replied, then what Drake had said sunk in. "Kid? What do you mean?"

"The shooter of course. One has to be really messed up to do something like this at sixteen. I can't even imagine..."

Ryo didn't hear the rest, Sixteen - it was as if he'd been punched in the gut. The man he'd killed today was just a teen, only sixteen years old.

"Hey, Ryo! What's wrong?" Ryo heard Drake's voice filter through to him. "You look like shit, man!"

"I had no idea he was only sixteen," Ryo whispered, not caring at the display of weakness.

"Yeah, he was sixteen with a vest of explosives strapped to his chest. He killed three people and nearly Dee and JJ as well! You saved more than just their lives when you pulled the trigger. You saved the lives of all those hostages as well." Drake insisted.

"I know, I know." Ryo didn't look at Drake. "But that doesn't make it any easier to know that I killed a child."

"I think you need your head screwed on right!" Drake groused. "Don't let Rose hear you say that or he'll have a fit."

"Don't let me hear what?"

"Sir?" Drake and Ryo turned in alarm. Rose was standing behind them, and it seemed like he had been standing there for quite some time.

"You really should go home Detective MacLean. Your report can wait until tomorrow. Better yet, take tomorrow off. Relax and go see your partner at the hospital. He'll set your head straight if no one else can." Ryo thought he could detect distaste in Rose's voice, but he didn't care. He had showed himself surprisingly caring since the whole incident, not even trying to take advantage of the fact that his competition was out of action. But then, he didn't know about the argument between Dee and him, Ryo thought. If he did, he certainly would be behaving differently. He'd never mad e secret out of the fact that he was interested in Ryo and viewed Dee as competition.

"Are you going to be all right taking the subway?" Rose asked in a low voice, but loud enough for Drake to hear,

Ryo felt himself blush. "Of course, sir." If there was one thing he hated most about Rose, it was his condescending attitude.

oOo

"How'd he take it?" JJ asked the middle-aged nurse who had been taking care of Dee. It was now late on Sunday morning and JJ was back at the hospital. He'd had to go there anyways, to have the dressing on his wound changed and he wouldn't pass up an opportunity to check in with Dee. He had been pleased to learn that Dee had been moved to a regular room.

"He's been very quiet the entire time I've been on shift.

"But he knows it's just temporary?"

"His doctor told him so earlier, but it was almost as if it didn't register with him at all. Maybe you can speak to him again," she suggested. "You're friends?"

"Yeah, we went to the academy together," JJ replied absently, his thoughts already with Dee. Unaware of the nurse's reply, he walked up to Dee's bedside. Dee was lying on his side, head turned away from JJ. Even though the nurse had told him that Dee was awake and had been so almost all morning, he didn't react to JJ's appearance. JJ pulled up a nearby chair, scrapping its feet loudly on the floor. He still didn't get a reaction from the other man.

"Dee, I know you're awake, so quit playing possum!" he tried to sound cheerful, but it came out worried.

Dee slowly turned, the motion clearly causing pain.

"It's JJ, man."

Dee's brows furrowed for a moment, and then he seemed to relax

"JJ." he said slowly.

"Yeah, that my name, don't wear it out." JJ quipped, feeling the knot of tension in his gut start to unravel.

"What happened?" Dee finally asked.

"Didn't anyone tell you?" JJ asked surprised.

"Would I be asking you otherwise?" Dee shot back. that was it, more like the Dee he was used to, JJ thought and started recounting the events of the past day.

Dee listening to him in silence, but JJ couldn't help but notice the expression of alarm forming on the other man's face.

"What's wrong?"

"I don't remember any of what you just said." Dee's voice was toneless. "In fact, I'm not sure I remember much at all, about...everything." Dee finished in a whisper.

JJ was at a loss for words. "What...what is the last thing you do remember?"

"I'm not sure. Everything is all over the place. I'm getting these images and they don't make any sense."

"I think I should get you a doctor." JJ hated that he couldn't help Dee, but this was really out of his league.

"Yeah, it's probably a good idea." Dee sounded so dependent so unlike himself that JJ pulled him into a hug. "It's going to be all right, Dee," he whispered to the other man. For once, Dee didn't push him away.

oOo

Dee was relieved to be alone again. It wasn't that he was ungrateful for JJ's presence, it certainly beat being stuck here all by himself, blinded and alone, but he needed time to think, time to sort out all the fragmented images in his head.

"Dee?" Instinct made Dee turn towards the voice. He hated not being able to see who was walking up to him as the footfalls told him. It made him feel vulnerable and defenceless. A hand took his. The contact startled Dee and he snatched his hand away, aiming a scowl at where he presumed the unknown newcomer stood.

"I'm sorry...I...I didn't mean to startle you." The voice was familiar, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't place it.

"Well, you managed okay." Dee shot back,. His migraine was swinging back into full force and he really wasn't in the mood for visitors, especially not some touchy-feely co-worker. It was bad enough he had apparently ended up with JJ, Dee caught himself thinking. He quashed the thought quickly. After all it was JJ who has saved his life and even had gotten shot himself for his effort, so Dee figured he should be a little more grateful.

"Uhm, Bicky wanted to come along and see you too, but I didn't think it would be such a good idea just yet."

What the hell was this guy going on about? And who was Bicky? Suddenly, the picture of a youth flashed in his mind. Good god! Did that mean...? No, no, it couldn't. He wouldn't, not when he was with JJ. And even if he did, he wasn't the parental type, He didn't even like kids. It was all getting to much. The pain in his head was rapidly intensifying; making him feel like his head was going to explode at any moment. Dee groaned in pain, pressing his hands to the sides of his head. He felt a resting grip, trying to keep his arms down and a voice was talking to him, but he was too wrapped up in his own world of pain for it to reach him.

oOo

Bicky didn't even take the time to scan thing row of parents waiting for the return of their children at the community centre. Like most children, the reason Bicky had been sent on the short trip upstate was because Ryo had to work all weekend. The people gathered waiting were for the most part grandparents and older siblings. Few of them looked to be in the right age range to be parents. Bicky was all the more surprised when he saw Ryo loitering a good distance away from the crowd. He had his hands buried in the pockets of his trousers and seemed so lost in thought that he didn't even notice Bicky walking up to him.

"Hey, Ryo. Didn't count on seeing you here. What happened, did you finally catch this guy you were after?"

"Hello Bicky. How was the weekend?" Ryo asked instead, ignoring Bicky's question. It was more than that however: Ryo's slumped posture and the haunted look in his eyes told Bicky that something was very wrong.

"It was cool," Bicky shrugged. "Did Rose just give you the day off like this?" he probed, hoping Ryo would spill what was on his mind.

"Yes, I've got the day off," Ryo confirmed, but sounded sad, whereas usually he enjoyed the days spent with Bicky enormously. "Listen, I'm sorry I ran out on you like this yesterday. I shouldn't have. It was stupid of me..."

Bicky normally would have given an acerbic reply about how Ryo should have thrown out Dee instead of fleeing his own home, but the vacant look in Ryo's eyes scared him. "I managed all right," Bicky replied instead.

Ryo nodded. "Let's go home."

The community centre wasn't far from Ryo's apartment, but it was still a twenty minute walk.

"Do you have to get back to the office again later?"

"No, no. The commissioner has given me the day off," Ryo replied. He ruffled Bicky's hair. I'm glad you're back." Now Bicky knew that something was wrong, Ryo didn't normally behave like this.

"Something bad's happened, hasn't it?" Bicky asked quietly.

Ryo stood frozen for what seemed like minutes before he finally nodded. "Dee's in hospital. He...he was hurt at work yesterday."

The way Ryo's voice sounded it had to be bad. "He's not..."

"No, Bicky, don't worry. He's not going to die. It's pretty bad, but he'll live. I'm just worried about him, that's all," Ryo told him, meeting his eyes. "I thought we could maybe go to the hospital later on to visit him."

"Nah, I got homework to do," Bicky replied evasively. Ryo looked at him, but said nothing. "You go and see him." As much as Bicky disliked Dee and wished that he would finally leave Ryo and him alone, he hated the haunted look in Ryo's eyes even more. For all their sake, he hoped that Dee would recover quickly.

oOo

The nurse's words were echoing in Ryo's mind as he walked away from the ward were Dee was being cared for. His body was acting on auto-pilot, carry9ng through the maze of corridors while he relived the brief visit and the harsh words from the nurse that had followed - asking him not to visit again seeing how upset Dee had become every time Ryo had visited in the past. The words had cut into Ryo like a knife. He had told Dee that he didn't want to see him anymore - words that h had long since grown to regret, but Dee didn't seem to share that sentiment. Maybe that was why he had cheated on him in the first place. The thought wouldn't leave Ryo alone. Sure they'd had a though week and many of their old arguments had resurfaced, but Ryo hadn't thought things between them were this bad.

"Detective MacLean?" The formal address spoken by an unfamiliar voice pulled Ryo from his dark thoughts. Without conscious effort, or so it had seemed he had found his way back into the lobby of the hotel.

The man who had spoken to him was in his sixties, at the very least.

There was something familiar about him, but Ryo couldn't place the face. Still, alarm bells were starting to ring in his mind.

"Please, I need to talk to you." A pair of steel-blue eyes drilled into Ryo.

"I'm sorry, but who are you?" Ryo asked, not even trying to hide his annoyance.

"It was my grand-son you killed. He was only sixteen and you killed him," the man spat. Ryo was about to turn away, not even wanting to know how on Earth the man had found him, just wanting to escape.

But the man grabbed him by the arm. Ryo tried to shake the surprisingly solid grip of, when a felt something poke into his side.

"Please," the man whispered. "I don't want to hurt you. I just want to talk to you. I need to know."

Ryo nodded. "Okay, okay. We can talk. But not here," Ryo needed to get the armed man away from all these people. If he started shooting, there was no telling how many people would be injured or worse.

"Cafeteria," the man nodded. He'd clearly planned this, perhaps had been following Ryo for who knew how long. That also meant he probably knew about Dee and Bicky.

He couldn't have done anything to Dee, Ryo didn't think so. He'd just been to see Dee and he'd be okay, considering the circumstances. But Bicky, Bicky was alone at home, waiting for him to return no doubt. Ryo could only hope that the kid was all right and that Ryo was the only intended target for the man's revenge.

"Let's go." the man poked him again with the gun for emphasis. "Don't try anything. I know how to use one of these things." he whispered in Ryo's ear.

oOo

Ryo didn't try anything. He calmly did as he was ordered and soon he was sitting across the table from the old man in the back of the cafeteria. Ryo had quickly glanced at the ceiling, but there didn't appear to be any cameras in the cafeteria. Just his luck.

"What do you want me to do?" Ryo finally asked trying to keep his voice as quiet as possible.

The man hesitated. Ryo must have shaken his expectations somehow. Maybe he had expected Ryo to fight back and not just give in. But with so many civilians ar risk, Ryo had no other choice.

"I want you to admit what you did," the man said through clenched teeth.

"I..." Ryo's mouth had suddenly gone dry. "I killed your grandson. I admit it." he had to force out the words.

"He needed help and you killed him," the man insisted and Ryo saw his hand twitch towards his pocket were he'd stowed the gun.

"Yes, he needed help," Ryo agreed. "And I'm very sorry, it came to this, but I had no other choice."

"He was just sixteen years old and you are telling me that you had no other choice?" The man's voice grew louder and Ryo could feel the curious glances of people sitting nearby. If he wasn't careful, the situation could very well escalate.

"Mr Cooke," Ryo began, suddenly recalling the man's name from the case file. "Your grandson gave me no choice. He would have killed himself and more hostages, if I hadn't stopped him."

"You don't know that! You didn't even try to talk to him!"

"I didn't, but the people trained for that sort of job did and your grandson refused to speak to them. I think it was already too late by then."

"I tried to get him help, or don't you think I knew what was going on with him? You think it's my fault that he did this? I must have raised him that way? That's what they say isn't it, on television and on the radio. I didn't look after him right, but they're wrong." The man ranted, hand reaching for the gun. "It's people like you had made him that way. He used to talk to me, tell me about his problems..."

Ryo's mind was racing as he struggled to understand what to man was ranting about. What did he mean by people like Ryo? The police. As far as he knew the shooter had had no prior run-ins with the police.

"What happened? What is it that happened to Danny?" Ryo asked, hoping to clam the man down.

"They put him into a home, after his mother died. They said it was the right place for him. They didn't believe me that I could take care of him...only when he nearly died in their 'care', they sent him back to me. I tried to help him, but he wouldn't talk to me, not ever."

Ryo was starting to understand. It seemed like Daniel Cooke had been the victim of some sort of abuse at a group home and his grandfather believed that was the reason he'd taken the hostage at the mall. Ryo knew it was never that simple, but that was no what the man with the gun wanted to hear. He wanted someone to pay the price for the death of his grandson.

"I understand, I understand that you want justice for Daniel."

The man nodded.

"I can help you with that. I'm a police officer; I can get someone to look into what happened at the group home."

"You expect me to believe that! You're all alike. I've seen you and your 'partner'. I know what you are!" The man was shouting, pointing the gun at Ryo. Around them people were starting to take notice. Ryo knew that any second, a panic would break out. A woman screamed and that was the trigger everyone seemed to have been waiting for. The man shot up from his seat, starting to discharge his gun in a wild frenzy. Ryo jumped up and tried to wrestle the gun away from Cooke.

Despite his age, he had an iron grip on the weapon and they both went tumbling to the floor. Ryo suddenly saw stars when Cooke rammed the butt of the gun into his temple. Unable to see properly, Ryo still tried to escape, but Cooke easily pinned the dazed detective to the floor. Ryo looked up and saw the steel blue eyes blazing with the same madness that had made his alarm bell go off earlier in the lobby. He never stood a chance, he realized. No matter what he'd said to the old man, he had come here with a gun, and the intent to take revenge for his grandson and without knowing Ryo had made the perfect target. Cooke smiled as he reached for the trigger.

Ryo saw the man's finger curl around the trigger and did the only thing he could think of. He brought his knee up hard into the other man's groin. The man screamed and a shot exploded.

oOo

Bicky had no intention of doing his homework. Instead, he kicked off his sneakers and tossed his backpack into a corner, made himself a peanut butter sandwich and had settled in front of the television. Afternoon turned to evening, as the sun slowly began to set over the city, Bicky was growing worried. He was hungry and bored with watching television. There was nothing good on TV Sundays anyway, he thought and stalked back into the kitchen, leaving the TV running.

He got the toast and peanut butter out of the fridge, popped the toast into the toaster and settled on the edge of the table, swinging his feat nervously, he hadn't Ryo expected to come home any time soon, but the was already 8.30 p.m. Didn't they have limits on visiting hours or something?

Bicky slid off the table as the toaster was done and dropped the hot slices on a plate. He unscrewed the peanut butter jar and spread the thick substance over the two slices. He'd thought about calling Ryo on his mobile, but had dropped the idea, knowing the mobile phones weren't allowed in hospitals anyways. Abandoning his food for a moment, he walked back into the living room. Bicky had no luck reaching Ryo, just as he'd thought. He was just about to walk back into the kitchen, when a news headline on TV caught his attention. A reporter was standing in front of the entrance to NYC Medical Centre, the hospital were Dee was being treated. Bicky grabbed the remote and turned up the volume. The reporter had turned a tall blond man Bicky knew all too well. It was Ryo's boss, Berkeley Rose.

"Can you tell us anything about the motive for the attack?"

"Our investigation into this incident is just beginning and it is too early to tell what Mr Cooke's motivations might have been."

"Is it not true that Detective MacLean fired the shot that killed Mr Cooke's grandson, Daniel Cook yesterday at the shopping mall? Do you believe that this is a revenge attack?"

"I cannot comment on an active investigation."

Bicky's head spun. What did all this mean? Ryo had killed someone's grandson? That didn't make sense; he was one of the good guys. Unless it had been in self-defence, Ryo wouldn't kill anyone, Bicky was certain of that.

"Do you believe that more officers are in danger? Have you taken any special precaution to ensure their safety?"

"No comment."

Bicky stopped listening. He suddenly felt dizzy. He needed to find out what had happened to Ryo. Revenge attack, the reporter had said. Was Ryo all right? They would tell him if he wasn't, wouldn't they?"

The door bell rang. Bicky walked over to see who it was, but before he had looked through the peephole, he knew.

JJ stood outside, clearly feeling ill at ease.

Bicky opened the door.

"Ryo?" he asked simply. He needed to know

JJ simply nodded. "Can I come in?"

Bicky nodded. "I saw it on television." Bicky blurted out. "They said that Ryo's killed some kid and that it was some sort of revenge attack...please, what happened to Ryo?" JJ didn't reply immediately. "He's dead, isn't he?" Bicky couldn't help but think the worst.

"No, Bicky no. Ryo isn't dead. You hear me?"

Bicky nodded, trying very hard not to cry in front of JJ.

"He's been shot and he's in hospital right now, but he is going to be fine."

"You're not lying?"

"No, I'm not." JJ shook his head, meeting Bicky's eyes steadily. Bicky believed him, he needed to. He couldn't lose Ryo, too.

oOo

Ryo was drifting.

It was a pleasant and painless place to be, free from memories and worries. Voices came and went and went.

It was a familiar voice, urgent and filled with worry that finally penetrated the haze shrouding his senses. At first he couldn't make out any of the words, but as he strained to listen, he could make out his name. The voice was asking, urging him to wake up and open his eyes. Feeling the pain and fear in the voice, Ryo did as he was told and opened his eyes.

"Finally I thought you'd never come 'round." Ryo turned his head and saw Bicky sitting at his bedside, his eyes seeming larger than usual as he regarded Ryo intently.

"Bicky." Ryo managed, finding his throat dry and sore.

"Yeah, obviously." Bicky quipped.

"You okay? You have someone looking after you?" He could worry about the mess he'd made of his own life later, but Bicky shouldn't suffer for it. He couldn't stay on his own.

To Ryo's great relief Bicky nodded. "Your boss said I could stay with him for a few days, until you're better.

"Do me a favour and be nice to Rose, okay?" Ryo had to fight to keep his eyes open.

"Bicky?" Suddenly Rose was standing next to Bicky. "Let me have a word with Ryo."

Bicky grimaced, but complied and retreated.

"Was...was anyone hurt?" Ryo asked, referring to the shooting.

"Except for you, no." Rose smiled grimly. Already anticipating the next question on Ryo's mind, he continued, "You took a bullet in the side. You lost quite a bit of blood, but you're going to be fine. They want to keep you here for a few days. Don't worry; I'll look after Bicky until you're back on your feet."

Ryo wasn't entirely sure how altruistic Rose's motives were, but right now he didn't care. Sleep was reaching for him with strong hands. Ryo let his eyes drift close, no longer able to fight back.

oOo

The specialists words had contained lots of 'we'll see's' and 'maybe's', but the bottom line was that while he thought that Dee's blindness was temporary, he couldn't tell him for certain. This was pretty much what everyone else had been saying. Dee felt frustrated with the lack of answers. He was itching to get out of the hospital, but while no one would give him any definite answers on that either he had the distinct impression that they wouldn't let him go for a while. At least the headache that had been with him since he'd first woken up after being shot had died down to more manageable levels, leaving him bored and restless on his own. Even television, despite the missing images, would have been a welcome distraction, but he had no idea where the remote was. Dee hated to depend on anyone for anything, but he still pressed the call button, hoping the talk one of the nurses into switching on the TV for him and handing him the remote.

Dee couldn't tell how long he'd been waiting, but it like at least five minutes had passes and no one had shown up, so he decided to find himself some help on his own. It wouldn't hurt to stretch his legs a bit. Easier said than done, Dee soon discovered. He wasn't sure how much time had passed since he'd firth been injured, but it couldn't have been more than two days at the most, yet he was shaky on his legs like he hadn't walked in weeks. He was trembling with exhaustion by the time he made it out into the hallway. Using the wall for support and guidance, he soon discovered that there was a support rail running along it, making his undertaking considerably easier.

Once out in the corridor, enveloped in the cacophony of noises, Dee was at a loss. He had no idea what direction he was supposed to walk in to find the nurses' station. The dark shadows that were all he could see, and might all he'd ever seen again, made no sense and offered no clues as to the layout.

"Can I help you?" a female voice asked, Dee turned his head in the direction he thought it was coming from.

"Yeah, I'm trying to find the nurses' station, but..." Dee wasn't sure how to say it.

"Down the hallway, to the right. I can walk you there...it's where I'm going anyways," she offered.

Only when Dee nodded, she gently took him by the arm, leading the way, but letting Dee determine the tempo.

"You haven't been blind for very long, have you?" she asked quietly.

"No, it's only been two days...I think." Dee felt himself blush, not quite knowing why. He was uncomfortable being this helpless around a perfect stranger. Possibly a good looking perfect stranger.

"My name is Jesse, by the way? And you are?"

"Dee." Dee smiled. Maybe the day was looking up after all. If the woman with the beautiful voice was into cripples, that was. Dee shoved aside the dark thought and turned back towards Jesse. "You're a patient here?"

"No, no. I'm just visiting." her voice suddenly sounded sad. "My kid brother...he was shot two days ago."

Dee waited, not wanting to press her for details when it obviously pained her to talk about what had happened.

"They finally moved him up here from ICU this morning, but he'll probably never walk again because of what that lunatic did to him!" her voice shook. "You know, he's...was an athlete, college football, down in Virginia. He was just here visiting me for the holidays. If it hadn't been for me, he would never have gone into that restaurant..." her voice broke and she sniffled.

"But I shouldn't be unloading all this onto you... I'm sorry." She squeezed Dee's hand.

"No, no, it's fine." Dee reassured her.

Dee had only been half-listening something about what she had said seemed familiar too him, very familiar. He'd even gotten a flash of a few images when she'd mentioned that her brother had been shot at a restaurant, but they had been too brief for memory to grab hold. But he now knew that there something and he intended to ask JJ for details the next time he visited.

"I'm sorry, you had to wait so...Mr. Latener? You aren't supposed to be walking around on your own. You can fall and injure yourself! I'll take you back to your room..."

"I can do that." The woman's voice answered from beside Dee. "You obviously have a lot to do, and I just wanted to ask if I could maybe have another vase for my brother's room."

"Sure. Here you are." There was the sound of something sliding across a surface.

"Thank you, Debbie." Dee guessed that Jesse must be talking to the nurse, before turning back to him. "Dee, are you all right?"

"Yeah," Dee lied. It was much worse than he'd imagines. Having all those voices and sounds around him, with hardly any idea what was going on, it was unnerving and exhausting.

"Let's get you back to your room then." Jesse said, but the cheerfulness in her voice appeared forced.

As before, she took Dee by the arm and let him control their tempo back to the room.

"I'm sorry about your brother."

"Well, he's going to live; I guess that's what matters." Jesse answered. "It's just that he refuses to even acknowledge how badly he'd been injured. But there I go again...laying all this on a perfect stranger." Jesse laughed nervously.

"Anyways, there we are. You're in front of your room." She gently turned Dee around and relinquished the grip on his arm.

"My brother is in the room right next door. See you later, Dee."

Dee could hear footfalls rapidly moving away from him and then he was alone again. Dee slowly walked back into his room, only realizing that he'd forgotten to ask the nurse to switch on the TV for him. He shuffled across the room and slumped back down on the bed. Exhausted, laid back down, intent on just resting for a while, but he was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

oOo

The confusing thing about his dreams was that in them he could still see. It was only when he woke up that he descended into the world of murky shadows once again. Although he was far from adjusting to his reduced vision, when he woke up from yet another vivid dream he could immediately sense that he wasn't alone in the room. Dee pushed himself up on his elbows, hating to be completely defenceless.

"JJ?" he asked.

Paper rustled - JJ was probably putting down a newspapers.

"Glad to see you awake, man."

Dee couldn't exactly say that he was glad to be awake, so he said nothing.

"Nice flowers, by the way. Who sent them?"

"JJ, have you noticed that I can't see?"

"I'm sorry, I really am. Did the specialist say anything about when you'll get your vision back?"

Dee shrugged. "He talked a lot, but didn't really say much at all. He's ordered some more tests and said he'd see me again later in the week." Dee realized he had no idea what day it was. Monday was his guess, but the weakened had passed in such a haze that he couldn't be sure.

"JJ, is there a guy called Ryo working at the precinct? There was a guy there last night and I think that what he said his name was."

JJ didn't answer.

"JJ, what's wrong?"

"Ryo's your partner, Dee. You've been working together for almost two years. You're telling me that you don't remember him?"

"I sort of remember him, I think, I do at least. But..."

Dee trailed of. He wasn't sure how much to say. The images he had of this man were not of them working together. He recalled a fight - being told never to show his face again. That had sounded personal. And then when the guy had shown up he'd mentioned some kid. Bicky or Ricky, or something. Dee'd simply assumed that he was involved with JJ, the way JJ had been looking after him since the shooting. Plus, they had a past together at the academy. He did recall that feeling went much deeper on JJ's side than they did on his, but there was so much he didn't recall.

"But what?" JJ asked sharply and Dee got the distinct impression that Ryo wasn't one of his favourite people.

"Nothing." Dee turned his head. "It's nothing." he needed to sort out the images in his head first, he decided, or he might do more damage than good. But if he recalled right, he and this Ryo guy had broken up just before the shooting. Maybe for the best, who knew. Dee couldn't image himself doing the domestic thing, kid and all. He just wasn't cut out for that.

It was JJ who finally broke the tense silence between them. "Look, I didn't mean to upset you. I thought you remembered. The doctor said your memory was coming back. I'm sorry..."

"Nothing to apologize for." Dee ground out. It was true, his memory was coming back, but the more he remembered, he wasn't sure he wanted anything to do with this version of Dee. The domestic Dee, who had apparently lived with some guy and his kid, even while stepping out on him at the same time, if the fragmented images his mind showed him where anything to go by. And why was it that that he could recall JJ, but hardy the people who supposedly were the most important ones in his life. More questions and Dee wasn't sure he wanted to answers.

JJ seemed to pick up on his sombre mood. "There is a doughnut shop right across the street, what do you say I get us something to eat?"

"Sure," Dee didn't feel hungry, but then the hospital food had hardly done anything to whet his appetite. JJ quietly left the room, perhaps sensing that Dee needed a few moments to process the newly recovered information.

That was hardly like the JJ he recalled from the academy, but with all the years that had passed, JJ had obviously changed. Maybe even for the better, Dee thought. After all, he had been there for him ever since he'd been shot. This Ryo guy on the other hand had barely dropped by. He didn't have all the facts yet, but JJ was looking better by the minute.

Dee was lost in thought when there was a rap at the door.

"Dee?" a female voice asked tentatively. Dee immediacy recognized the voice from earlier that day. Jesse, the girl whose brother had been injured in a shooting.

"Come on, in." Dee said, hating that he couldn't see what was going on.

A series of footfalls followed his words, and then they stopped. "I didn't realize you already had a visitor. I'm sorry..."

Dee couldn't hide his astonishment and it must have showed on his face. "Your visitor left his jacket over your chair, that's how I knew." she explained gently. I really didn't want to disturb you, I just wanted to say thanks for this morning. It was good to be able to talk to someone. Just for a little while."

"It was nothing," Dee replied, feeling uncomfortable with the situation. He wasn't the caring and sharing type, at least as far as he knew, but that didn't seem to count for very much these days.

He heard the shuffling of feet, as if in reply to his words. What was worse about not seeing was not being able to gauge the reactions of people. As a cop he was trained to observe, but how was he supposed to observe anything without his eyes. That lead him down another unpleasant train of thought that he so far hadn't really considered and refused to consider even now. His vision was getting better, there was simply no alternative.

"Hey Dee, what's wrong?" JJ's voice broken through his thoughts. Dee was confused, once again cursing his lack of vision. Jesse seemed to have left, probably because of his rather harsh retort. He heard paper rustling and soon the aroma of coffee and sugary fried food hit his nostrils

"Nothing really." Dee lied. "It's just, I hate this. I really do. I hate not being able to see." Dee stopped before he lost it completely in front of JJ. Just who had he turned into? He wasn't like this normally. It was almost as if he'd woken up a different person.

For a while, the two men ate in silence. Dee was sure that he was getting sugar all over himself and the bed, but at least he managed to take a sip from the coffee without spilling it all the way down his front.

His doughnut and coffee finished, Dee took a deep breath. "I need to get out of here. I mean it. I'm going crazy being cooped up in this place."

JJ exhaled loudly. "You...even if they sprung you, which by the way, they won't because of the swelling, you couldn't be home on your own and...," JJ floundered. Dee knew he had a point. "Although I'd be happy to let you stay over for as long as you want." JJ finished lamely and Dee had had the impression that there had been something else he'd wanted to say.

"I hope you don't regret that offer, because I think I'll take you up on it!" Dee had no idea how he was going to manage outside the hospital, but at least there he'd have peace and quiet without people walking in on him all the time. That was of course, if there was something like peace and quiet to be had around JJ.

"I can ask the commissioner if I'd let me work the night shift. That way I could be home most of the day." Dee realized that JJ had continued talking even while he hadn't been listening.

"That sounds good," Dee said, not least trying to reassure himself that things would work out, somehow. He wouldn't stay blind, no way.

JJ's flow of words suddenly seized and Dee could almost picture the surprised look on JJ's face. It was as if he could feel it on his skin.

"Dee," JJ began in a serious voice. "You maybe don't remember it, but I've never made a secret of the fact that I was jealous of Ryo, because you always wanted him, not me. I would be lying if I said that I wouldn't be thrilled if things between us would change, but..."

Dee should have seen this coming. "But you don't want to put up with a cripple is that it?"

"Dee, that's not what I meant,. I love you and I always will. It doesn't matter to me if you can see or not. It's just that you and Ryo...I don't want you to do something you'll hate us both for later."

"And why would that be? The only thing I recall about this Ryo guy is us having a fight and him throwing me out of his apartment. And if he is the love of my life as you certainly seem to think, why is it that he'd barely shown his face around here?"

"That was what I wanted to tell you, but the nurses said your blood pressure was already too high and with the swelling, they said not to upset you."

"What is it?" Dee spat.

"Ryo's been shot yesterday. The grandfather of the kid who nearly killed you somehow found out that it was him who pulled the trigger. He managed to find Ryo and tried to kill him in revenge. He's going to be okay though. The bullet hit him in the side and he's going to be in hospital for a few days."

As Dee listened to JJ's words, it was as if a damn burst in his mind. The trickle of images suddenly turned into an overwhelming flood as it all came back to Dee.

Ryo! He must have thought Dee cheated on him,. There was no other explanation that Dee was willing to consider. It had all be a misunderstanding and then the shooting had happened and god, Ryo must have been worried sick about him. Knowing Ryo he'd probably already been beating himself up for having to shot a kid, and while Dee didn't know the whole story yet, just what JJ had told him, he was sure that being attacked by the grief stricken grandfather of the victim had only added to Ryo's guilt. God knew what he'd been thinking when Dee hadn't visited him until now!

"JJ, what room is he in?"

"Huh?" JJ didn't seem to understand.

"Ryo, who else do you think?" Dee tried to hold back his anger and tried to tell himself that JJ had meant well when he hadn't told him about Ryo's injury.

"Uhm, room 276, on the second floor. But wait, you can't..." Dee felt a restraining hand land on his arm. He pushed it off. "I'm going to see him, right now. With or without your help."

oOo

The trek seemed to take forever, but they finally stood in front of the door to Ryo's room. Dee would never admit it, but he'd frankly been relieved when JJ had, albeit reluctantly, helped him, find his way there. In his present condition, he doubted he would have managed to find the way on his own. He was having enough trouble staying on his feet as it was.

"It's right ahead. I guess you want to do this alone?" JJ's voice sounded sad.

Dee only nodded and raised his hand to knock. He hit the door on the second try and knocked hard.

Finally, a familiar voice answered from inside.

Dee fumbled to find the door handle and open the door. He hesitated for a second, and then he started walking feeling oddly lost without JJ's guiding hand on his arm. He kept waiting to run into something or trip.

"Dee!" the familiar voice exclaimed what seemed like ages later. It was followed by the sound of shifting fabric then the quick footfalls. Finally a warm hand landed on Dee's arm. Silently, Dee let himself be guided to a chair.

For moment, neither man spoke.

"You know I'm not good with apologies, but I guess I owe you one." Dee began.

"Don't," Ryo stopped him, "I overreacted. I never should have thrown you out of the apartment. I'm sorry."

"I gave you ever reason to, but I swear I didn't cheat on you. I got drunk and I met an old friend, who was pretty drunk, too. We were together, at one time years ago. But nothing happened. She wanted to, but I didn't, okay? I wouldn't cheat on you, drunk or not."

"I know," Ryo said softly. "I know that, but after we'd been arguing all week..."

"Don't apologize," Dee regretted not being able to look in Ryo's eyes as he reassured him. "I made a mistake, that's it. I think we have more important things to worry about now."

"Yes, we do." Ryo agreed. "I need to get out of here. And you need to get back to bed."

"Nonsense." Dee shook his head and instantly regretted it as a wave of dizziness rolled over him. He felt Ryo's hand keeping him upright and wondered whether going back to bed maybe wasn't such a bad idea after all, not that he would ever admit it, not even to Ryo. Ryo was the one who needed him and there he was concerned for him. Then something occurred to him, and he felt guilty for not thinking about it sooner. "What about Bicky? I mean with both of us in here..."

"He's staying with Rose. Don't ask me, it was he who offered and I wasn't exactly spoilt for choice."

"I can't imagine them getting along," Dee had to fight a chuckle out the thought. They would be lucky if they didn't kill each other.

"It will only be until tomorrow. The doctor said that they'd probably release me if all looks well."

"That's great. I was really worried when I heard that you'd been shot!"

"You had been worried about me. You're the one..." Ryo stopped in mid sentence.

"Yes, Ryo. I can't see right now, not much anyways. But that's just temporary." Saying the words out loud was harder than he'd expected and he couldn't quire put as much assurance in his tone as he'd hoped.

"How can you be so sure?" Ryo asked sharply.

"Because I am," Dee said with forced confidence. But let's not argue." Dee wanted to avoid an argument between himself and Ryo was much for Ryo's sake as for his own. Although he wasn't about to admit it, his head felt like it was going to split open any second and if he hadn't been sitting down, he'd probably fall straight on his face.

You're right. Come on, I'll take you back to your room."

"I can manage," Dee ground out, but it came out weak and unconvincing.

"Nonsense. You even look like you got the mother of all headaches." Ryo said gently and an arm slid around Dee and nudged him to his feet.

"Can you walk or should I call the nurse?"

"I'm fine, Ryo. Stop mothering me and let's go." Dee found himself smiling despite the pain.

oOo

Ryo waited until Dee was fast asleep, then he put his plan into action. First, he went to find Dee's doctors and got the full story on Dee's injuries. As he had assumed, Dee was making light of things and the doctor hadn't at all been pleased about Dee's excursion. He told Ryo that Dee would probably have to stay several more days while they kept a close eye on the swelling. If Dee's loss of sight was due to the swelling, then, so he told Ryo, it should improve within matter of days, but if it was due to an injury to the brain itself, the prognosis wasn't as good. it could take weeks, for this sight to return, if it ever would. Ryo was sure that Dee had been told the very same thing, but for the moment couldn't accept it and Ryo doubted that even he could talk Dee into that. Dee would have to make that point of the journey alone. But for the rest, Ryo was determined to help him as best as he could. They were in this together and he wouldn't let Dee forget that.

His conversation with the doctor done, Ryo went to find the nearest payphone and called Rose's home number. To his surprise Rose was already home. Ryo talked to Bicky briefly, who loudly complained about being stuck with Rose, but otherwise, seemed to be doing okay. Ryo promise that he'd come home as soon as he could, probably the next day and thanked Rose again for looking after Bicky. He hung up only the dial the Janet's number at the precinct. Janet was of course full of sympathy for him, and was more than happy to help him out by pulling together some background on the kid who had taken the hostage and his grandfather. Ryo promised to call her again and by the time he hung up, he was exhausted. His side hadn't taken too kindly to him walking Dee through the hospital hallways and Ryo was looking forward to lying down again. He had a busy day ahead of himself.

oOo

During the next day and the two days that followed, Dee saw very little of his boyfriend. If Rose hadn't assured him that Ryo was all right and had in fact left the hospital AMA, Dee would have been quite worried, but Ryo had asked him for his trust and he was prepared to give it. He didn't know what Ryo was up too exactly, but based on what Rose told him and from what little Ryo had told him, he figured it had to do with the incident that had landed them both in hospital in the first place. The more he learned about what had happened, the more he understood how important it was to give Ryo some time. During a visit, Drake had mentioned the conversation that had occurred between him and Ryo at the precinct only hours after the hostage crisis had ended. Dee couldn't imagine how Ryo was feeling, having had to take the life of a teenager.

Fortunately, the slow return of his sight provided a welcome distraction and by the end of the week, the doctor's were ready to discharge him. He'd called Ryo with the happy news, but all he'd gotten was the answering machine at the apartment. He was about to call JJ and ask him for a lift, when there was a knock on the door to his room and it was Ryo who entered. Dee could immediately tell that something had changed. Whereas Ryo had been tense and withdrawn during a brief visit the morning before, he appeared much more at ease now and the smile he gave Dee was filled with genuine warmth. Whatever it was that Ryo had been up to, it had obviously come to a satisfactory conclusion. Dee considering asking, but thought better of it. Ryo would talk about it when he was ready.

"Sorry, I missed your call. I..." Ryo began to apologize.

"Ryo, relax. You're here now, aren't you?"

"I'm here and ready to take you home." They both knew he was talking about more than just offering to pick Dee up.

"I can't wait to get home. I've had enough of hospitals to last me a lifetime," Dee said emphatically and got to his feet, grabbing the small overnight back that held his clothes and other essentials before Ryo had a chance to pick it up.

"No lifting for you just yet. Not until the stitches come out," Dee admonished playfully. Ryo raised an eyebrow at the statement, but didn't question Dee's knowledge. "Come on, let's go."

The End