Her hand was warm in his own: small, delicate and soft. He pictured her placing it gently on a child's forehead more as a sign of comfort than as a diagnostic tool for her profession. Right now, however, the hand in his was limp of course, but the warmth was reassuring.
As was the steady beep which resonated through the room.
Earlier, when his own hand supported his head at the temple and the fingers of his other hand stroked her face, he was surprised to feel that his pulse matched the beeping, as if their hearts beat in time with each other. He wondered how that was possible when her heart had the restful beat of sleep and his own had raced frantically just a few moments before he entered the room – before he saw her living. He considered what had calmed him to such an extent and then chuckled at himself when he realised he had answered his own question.
Casey was sleeping, her newly-cleaned hair fanning across the crisp cotton of the hospital pillow, her still-pale skin peeking out from the hospital issue gown. He wondered if she would be upset that they had cut her dress from her so that they could assess her injuries. She had loved that dress. And then he remembered that she had ripped it first as part of her plan to warn him they were in danger. He took a moment, thinking about Casey and the dance pole, and smiled. She never failed to surprise him.
They had cut his clothes from his body too; keen not to disturb his (broken) ankle and the large gash in the back of his head. He had been washed and his cuts dressed. Derek had objected to the hospital gown, so they had provided him with scrubs to wear (probably relieved that he wouldn't be prowling the hospital corridors with his ass hanging out).
He had prowled though – even in the scrubs. He had left his own room hobbling on his crutches against the advice of the medical staff, desperate to find Casey.
When he had got under everyone's feet enough, they eventually took pity on him and put him in the two-bed room with Casey. He'd been co-operative since then desperate that he kept this new position.
It was night time again and he found it difficult to believe that the events of the previous evening had really happened; how close he had come to losing her. He lifted her fingers to his mouth and pressed a kiss against their tips.
"You're only doing that because we're alone." Her voice murmured quietly, even though her eyes remained shut.
"Hell yes! I do have a hard man rep to maintain." Derek said, failing to keep the relief from his own words. She not only lived, she conversed. Or more importantly for them, she fought. He lowered their hands to the bed again. Casey smiled and opened her eyes as he laced their fingers together. Her brow furrowed when she saw the bruises to his face.
"Where are we?" She couldn't ask about his injuries, not yet. Not until she knew they were safe.
"You mean you can't guess?"
"Pale walls, pitifully few pictures, and a weird smell? I'd say we were in your apartment but there's too much furniture for that."
Derek grinned as her wit shone again. "We're in the hospital. You got a tiny knock to the head and exposure to the cold. I got brained with a monkey wrench and it turns out you were wrong about my ankle. Yet you're the one in the hospital bed. Someone up there loves you." And someone down here.
"It's broken?" Casey pulled herself up and switched into doctor mode.
"Yup." He smirked at her, knowing that she had thought it merely sprained when she examined it before…on the roof, in the dark, her fingers so frozen she couldn't feel them.
"I did say I'd need to confirm it with an x-ray." Casey retorted.
"Yeah well. They beat you to it. The x-ray says it's sprained and broken."
Casey nodded her understanding and changed the subject. "How long have I been out?"
Derek grimaced at the remembrance. "Almost twenty four hours."
"With simple exposure?" There was an element of incredulity in her voice.
"Guess the warmth of my personality stopped you from getting full hypothermia; that and all the running. Shame, I was looking forward to the 'Paradoxical Undressing'." He waggled his eyebrows at her. Casey looked confused, ignoring his surprising knowledge about the symptoms of the more serious medical condition.
"But I don't understand why I was unconscious."
Derek took a deep breath and softly told her the truth. "They drugged you, honey. Knocked me out with a chunk of metal but were more subtle with you." He swallowed. "For a while we weren't sure why…or if…" Deep breath. "We didn't know what you'd been through. They drugged you as soon as they caught us so there were several hours where you and I were apart or at least where neither of us was conscious." He meant they had worried at first that the drugging was to make her compliant with something sexual. Casey wasn't stupid and he saw the look of panic build in her eyes as she worked out the possibilities.
"They've checked you, love. No one has touched you." He reassured her.
Casey's body relaxed and she was silent for a moment. "Wait! How come we're alive? We got caught. What happened?"
Derek gave her a brief rundown of how he had woken up in the cistern, Holly's words and the discovery of who the leak in the department was.
"So he did it because he thought it was helping his daughter? Why didn't he tell Spike and get her pulled out of there?"
"I asked him that, he said by the time he realised the path he was heading on he was already guilty of several major crimes. Telling Spike would have led to him being arrested and then he wouldn't be able to help Holly at all."
Derek's thumb was brushing against the back of her hand as he continued the tale. It was a gentle comforting gesture and Casey found herself squeezing his hand in return.
"Gunshots?" She gasped as he got to that point in the story. "What happened next?"
Derek shrugged. "Spike arrived with half of the department."
"They found us? But how?"
"Ah yes! Well apparently your plan worked." Derek said.
Casey eyes widened and she smiled broadly. "It did? Marti…?"
He nodded. "When you didn't call in as arranged, Marti phoned Spike and created merry hell. How did you get his number, by the way?"
Casey shrugged. "You left your phone lying around."
"Yes I know. But "Klutzilla123" didn't take a lot of working out." Casey said rolling her eyes. Derek laughed.
"Anyway, Marti phoned Spike. Apparently, she announced that she wanted to report a missing person and he was just about to transfer her to another department when she told him that the missing person's name was 'Derek Venturi'. She rambled to him this complicated story about her doctor sister and GPS technology. Eventually he stopped trying to get rid of her and started to listen."
"It was something I read…about cell phones and their GPS chips. I knew that in some instances people could be traced to their phones. Did they locate yours?"
Derek shook his head. "No. I had my cell restricted. I don't want anyone to be able to find me unless I mean for it to happen. Instead they traced yours. It was still in your purse which was in an office on the floor above the cistern. Spike broke into the office and when they didn't find us there, they took the place apart looking for us." Derek grinned. "Remind me never to run from you."
Casey returned the grin and the smile went right to her eyes. "So Marti is…?"
"Still in London…for now."
Casey pulled a face.
"I know she wants to see me, but I need to think about it, Case. There's too much at stake. I don't want her hurt."
His step-sister sighed. "She's hurting anyway, D. She misses you. We all do."
"Yeah well. Seems I can't escape you at least."
"For now." Casey admitted ruefully. "Given half a chance…"
Derek shook his head. "It's different now." He acknowledged. "The hardest things about this me you know." He sighed. "It won't stop me trying to keep you safe, and I may still have to go away, but I'm never going to leave it so that you don't know exactly where I am from now on."
Casey lifted his hand to her own lips. "Good. I'll hold you to that." She promised.
"How is she?" Spike asked as he set foot in their hospital room the following day. Casey was in the shower, and as any female who had been deprived of such a luxury would attest, she was going to be a while.
"She's fine." Derek answered. "Pretty much normal Casey."
"That was ballsy of her: getting up and dancing like that, running away the way she did, putting a contingency plan in place."
"I know. I know. I've dragged her through shit these past couple of days."
"Hardly your fault, Derek."
He shrugged. "If I hadn't got homesick, she'd be blissfully unaware at home in London, enjoying the high life of a successful doctor. Not getting drugged and almost killed by a guy who enjoys perversions the way Papillion does."
Spike sat down on a soft chair nearby. "You two haven't talked much about the last few years, have you."
"We've talked enough."
"That I doubt." Spike muttered.
"What?" Derek asked, irritated by Spike's unforthcoming nature.
"Casey took your death hard, Derek. She made some bad personal decisions."
Derek frowned, trying to work out what Spike was on about, and then it came to him.
"You mean the drinking?"
Spike looked surprised. "She told you?"
"With Casey and me, all it takes is an argument and then everything crawls out of the woodwork. If ever you want to know a secret, you pick a fight. She soon spills."
"It was serious, Derek."
"I know. But I also know Casey. She makes mistakes but she also learns from them – and a lot quicker than most people. She maybe many things but she's not lacking in common sense. Besides," Derek said with a soft smile. "She seems okay now."
"Because she found you again." Spike answered. "Be careful Derek. If you push her away now it could have devastating consequences."
Derek shook his head. "I know - for me too." He said softly. "I've already promised her I won't do that. Of course, at some point I'll piss her off and she'll walk away from me. Or some Harvard–educated surgeon will whisk her off her feet."
Spike watched his protégé with interest. Derek was bright in ways that didn't even register on the academic scale. He knew things about life and people that other more educated people never worked out. But he seemed curiously dim-witted when it came to his own personal life. Spike brushed that aside.
"I came to ask you something." He said, breaking himself from his own thoughts as much as intruding on Derek's.
"I'm listening." Derek answered cautiously.
Spike grinned. "Non-committal much." He commented.
Derek arched an eyebrow and Spike chuckled.
"Look. With Rich's…defection, I need a wingman and I'll be honest, you're the only fucker I trust."
"A new second-in-command."
"Promotion? Bit of a poison chalice, isn't it?"
Spike shrugged. "I didn't say I came with good news." He grinned and then paused. "I mean it Derek. There aren't many people I trust in our department. I want that to change which means I need someone to help me yank out the bindweed."
"Would I get carte blanche?"
"I guess. Within reason."
"Then it isn't carte blanche you asshole."
Spike laughed. "Okay. You get it."
"Good. And we'll do it my way?"
"Who are you? Frank Sinatra?"
"Nah! My crooning breaks windows."
They both laughed and then Spike stood up.
"I should go before Casey gets back. She probably wouldn't appreciate me seeing her in her shower cap."
Derek chuckled. "You saved her life – our lives - don't be surprised if you get an invitation to dinner real soon."
"Domestic bliss, D? My wife would like that."
"Hey, this is Casey we're talking about. But, I'm not one to turn down a free meal."
Spike nodded his agreement. "Is she a good cook?"
"She used to be."
"Look. You're owed a ridiculous amount of leave. Take a couple of weeks off, show Casey the sights."
Derek raised an eyebrow.
"I meant the tourist sights, you moron, but whatever floats your boat."
"If I tried to show her any other kind of sight she'd fillet it and feed it to me in taco shells with guacamole."
Spike reached the door. "I wouldn't be so sure. Regardless, I think the coming months are going to be very interesting for you, Venturi. Very interesting indeed." With that pronouncement, and a rather obvious smirk, Spike was gone.
Shortly afterwards, Casey returned.
"Was that Spike I saw?" She asked, still towelling her hair. "What did he want?"
"He wanted me to try Tex Mex for a change." Derek answered cryptically. "Oh. And he promoted me."
"Casey!" Derek hollered through his apartment several days later. "We need to talk!"
Casey who was currently in the living room dusting looked up in surprise.
"About what?" She asked.
"There's a guy at the door with a sofa, two chairs and a footstool. He says you know something about them."
"Really?" Casey exclaimed, standing up. "But they're early. The suite wasn't supposed to arrive until next week. I was expecting the spare room closet today." She pushed her way passed him and headed for the front door. Derek stared after her in disbelief.
Seconds later, two burly removal men backed the large leather couch, which he had only vague recollections of sanctioning, into the room.
"Did I authorise this?" Derek asked Casey as she directed the placement of the said couch.
"Yes." She confirmed reminding him of their previous conversation and the laptop.
"How much is this costing me?"
"Enough." She shrugged.
"Enough that we'll have something to argue about for a long time to come." She smiled sweetly.
"As I recall," Derek leaned up against the door frame and folded his arms. "You and I finding something to argue about was never a problem."
"Relax Derek." She ordered. "In fact, take a load off and relax on your new sofa!" She beamed cheerfully at him.
"When are you leaving again?" He teased.
"I've got two weeks more vacation time; plenty of time to do more damage." She promised.
"Maybe I should just password-protect my laptop."
"Pur-lease! How many passwords of yours have I cracked in the last two weeks?"
"It was a thought."
Casey looked uncertain as she seriously considered whether he was happy with her actions. "I thought you agreed that you needed furniture – that you needed a home…"
It doesn't take furniture to make this a home, honey. It takes you. Derek thought to himself.
He relented. "If I let you do this, will you lay off about my bad habits?"
Casey considered it. "Okay…Except the underwear on the bedroom floor."
He threw her a look. Casey groaned.
"I should have ordered a bed for the spare room." She commented. Derek didn't like the thought of her sleeping in another room.
"Oh no! No more furniture orders. You've depleted my bank account enough for one visit, McDonald."
"Then pick up after you Derek and I won't need to buy another bed."
He made a mental note to do just that.
A couple of hours later and they were both sprawled on the new furniture. The new large television in the corner of the living room was showing a re-run of the 'Brady Bunch' and Casey was reading a gossip magazine, her legs stretched in front of her. Derek, ankle elevated in his new recliner, watched her rather than the sitcom on the screen. Two more weeks and then Casey would be gone again, albeit temporarily this time. She was talking about coming up for a weekend next month, (probably to supervise the arrival of the deck furniture for the balcony). He wondered how he was going to get through a month of solitary evenings when he had been so used to sharing his space with her; his space and (innocently) his bed.
Correction: their space; their bed.
Derek knew he should be grateful. She was in his life again, even if she was going to be far away in London most of the time. Casey would leave her mark in his apartment – in the furniture, in the scent of the polish she used, in the choice of the bed linen on the bed. He was going to miss her and it was going to hurt. He tried to reassure himself that it was temporary, but he worried that as easily as she had come back into his life something would take her away again, and that this time it might be permanent.
"Hey! Gossip girl!" He called across the living room and chucked a cushion at her head. Casey looked up in annoyance.
"You wanna go get some dinner? My treat? My stomach thinks my throat has been cut."
"Would this be "dinner" as in McDonald's Drive Thru, or "dinner" as in nutritional fare, lovingly prepared, cooked, and served in a decent restaurant?"
"I was thinking "Starvin' Marvin's Tex Mex Grill" actually."
Casey narrowed her eyes. "Do they do salad?"
Derek shivered. "I think I saw some green stuff there once, yeah. If not you'll have to make do with taco shells and guacamole." He grinned to himself as he recalled his conversation with Spike. "What'd'ya say?"
"I guess I might be persuaded. Are you sure you can manage to hobble your way there?"
Casey looked around Derek's bedroom as she changed for the trip to the restaurant; except it was hard to think of anything in this apartment as just Derek's anymore. When she had entered the space for the first time it was cold and unwelcoming, but she could see it had potential.
Rather like Derek.
He had been distant from her when they reunited, as though he wasn't going to let himself get too close to her. She had constantly felt as though he was hiding something from her.
Now, just like the room it was different. Now he was like the Derek she had known…except…even that wasn't true. They hadn't been this close before. And now she knew what it felt like to kiss him.
Casey sat down heavily on the bed as that thought crossed her mind. Kissing Derek was…as easy as breathing, in fact, it was so natural it felt as necessary as breathing.
Which was not good. Not good at all.
Derek was a Will 'o' the Wisp. He settled to nothing, he committed to nothing. And Casey was his complete opposite. It could not work, particularly as she was leaving for London in a couple of weeks. Soon she would be out of sight and out of mind, and any progress made would regress. He would forget her and move on; which was heart-rending, but when she considered how she would explain all of this to the rest of their family…it seemed kind of necessary.
"Are you okay in there?" A voice called through the bedroom door. "Only I'm eating my arm off out here."
Casey lied in response "I'm fine, I'll be out…"
But she was cut off by the sound of her cell phone ringing.
"Casey McDonald." She answered it, professional as always – (unless it was Derek on the other end).
She smiled softly as he spoke. Robin, the Head of Trauma at the Ottawa hospital she had just been discharged from – the same Head of Trauma she had interviewed with days prior to that.
"Yes I'm feeling much better thank you. It was lovely of you to call to check…Oh! I'm sorry, I have plans tonight…Yes. Derek's taking me to "Starvin' Marvin's" his treat…No! You have to understand, Derek forking out cash in any kind of restaurant is a big deal. Clearly guilt over the whole "bad guy" thing has got to him…Oh…[blushing]…Well, thank you, I'm flattered you think I deserve better…yes I know there are some lovely five star restaurants in Ottawa…yes I'm sure that would be lovely at some po…tomorrow?...Erm…evening dress? Well I might need to…Yes…no…of course it would be lovely…seven o'clock…Yes…I can text you my address…"
Outside of the room, Derek closed his eyes and groaned. Here we go again.
Across the other side of the city, Spike looked at the report in his hand.
"Are we sure it's them?" he asked his subordinate. The younger man nodded.
"Fingerprints are confirmed, but she also had a tattoo on the small of her back."
"Tattoo?" Spike queried.
"A small butterfly."
Spike groaned. "And him?"
"Difficult to tell with the bloating, but yeah…we're pretty confident. The body even had a gunshot wound to the right shoulder where Graham's bullet grazed him."
"Fuck! Do we know who did this? Was anyone pissed at Papillion?"
"You mean apart from Mikey? Jazz?"
"They are both out of action."
The junior scratched his head. "We have no proof not yet. And that's the weirdest thing. You see the guy left a calling card."
"Yeah. The girl was strangled with a particular scarf. I ran it through the system and the file is sealed."
Spike's eyes widened. "Sealed? As in classified?"
"Yeah. That's why I'm here. It's an old case, but the reference number and contact details belong to you."
A small degree of panic crossed Spike's chest almost stopping his heart. "Me? It wasn't a Queen's scarf by any chance?"
A file landed on the desk in front of him with a paper thud.
Spike didn't look at the file in detail, just the reference number on the front page. He didn't even look very carefully, just glanced. The panic bubbled to the surface, but with a practiced ease, he coolly opened the file and then closed it.
"Fine." He told the junior. "I'll get around to looking at it in the morning seeing as we can't achieve anything tonight. Good work on that."
And with a few kind words, he dismissed the guy in front of him.
An hour later, Spike was still staring at the file.
After seven years, there was activity again. He wasn't sure what it meant, but none of it could be good for him…or for Derek Venturi.
An: And so endeth the first part. The next installment "Another Legacy" will commence in a day or so. (School hols from fri so more writing time.)
Thank you for reading this. The follow-up will definitely be a Dasey...unhappy people will be appeased.