A/N: Well, hear is the conclusion of Storm, though part of me is tempted to do a follow up piece showing more of the actual case. Maybe that way I can actually get Don and Robin out of the bedroom for a change and keep Don dry and with his shirt on.
Storm - Part 2
Robin sat perched on the edge of the bed, watching the strobe effects of lightning in the bedroom windows, one hand resting on Don's hair. The brief flashes played over the figure sprawled under the blanket, alternately transcribing the outline with harsh whiteness and plunging it into darkness. She felt the curls shift under her touch, entwining her fingers, and she silently stroked his temple with her thumb, heard his breathing settle back into an even rhythm.
She tugged the blanket a little higher to cover a bright white banner, evident even in the blackness, marking the position of the hand curled near her knee. It wasn't as bad as she had first feared.
She had considered the emergency room, but despite all the blood it didn't look too deep and she was determined to avoid a trek in the rain and a long, tiring wait in a medical facility if at all possible. So instead she had ignored his protests, tugged his sodden t-shirt over his head at last and wrapped him in a blanket to stay warm while she routed out hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin and gauze and tape. First aid wasn't her speciality, but the results didn't look too bad. Don had remained silent and disturbingly docile throughout.
Or maybe unresponsive was a better description.
Once he lost the battle, Don had seemed to concede the war, collapsing inward into some brooding world all his own. He hadn't ventured a single ribald joke as she'd stripped him of his jeans and chafed him relentlessly with a towel, retreating under the covers instead in a tight, protective ball that relaxed into an ungainly sprawl as sleep claimed him. A restless, haunted sleep, if the twitching of his eyelids and broken half-murmers were anything to judge by.
She pressed a light kiss on his hairline, then one on the bridge of his nose, toeing off her shoes and stretching out next to him. He looked fragile and vulnerable in the flash illumination of lightning, and she tucked his head protectively under her chin, fingertips toying with the hair at his nape. He sighed in his sleep, then went quiet again. She smiled a little. Probably she should undress, but she hated to disturb him. Maybe in another minute. She reached for the comforter at the end of the bed and tugged it over both of them, snuggling closer. He whispered something and turned his face into her neck, breath dusting her collabones.
Tomorrow she would call Simons, see if she could get a few coherent details. Or maybe tomorrow Don would be able to tell her more. She'd drop a line to Wright, too, thanking him for looking out for Don, even against his considerable stubbornness - no mean feat. Well, she should know.
She felt him jerk, then groan, rolling onto his back, one hand massaging his eyes. "What time is it?" he asked blearily, voice smoky with sleep.
"Late." She pushed up on one elbow. "Still raining."
He grunted, lifted both hands to rub them through his hair, paused at the sight of the white bandage on one of them. "What the - ? Oh. Wait - " he let it drop back to his chest.
He nodded. "I remember now. Man."
"I'm thinking we should invest heavily in plastic ware."
A short bark of a laugh. His head turned toward the window, where the shadow of rain verigated the glass.
She settled back down next to him, felt his good hand encircle hers, raise it briefly to his lips.
"You've got court tomorrow, right? You should get some sleep."
She tightened her hand in his. "I will if you will."
He ran a thumb over her fingers. "Don't worry about me. Not my first rodeo, you know?"
"That was before. When you were alone. You're not now."
The thumb paused its journey, shifted to lace their fingers. "Yeah."
She could hear the shadow of a smile in his voice. His face stayed turned toward the windows. She molded herself to him, pressed her cheek against his hair. "What are you thinking?" she whispered, close to his ear.
He was silent so long she wasn't sure he would answer, then he said, "About those kids. They're so - vulnerable. Trusting. What do they know about some of the sickos out there? About what can happen to them?
About how you and me could have one someday. And - well. I mean, being in this business doesn't make them any safer, you know? Not really. All those parents probably did their best and in the end it didn't mean a damn thing."
Their clasped hands were settled on his chest and she could feel the heavy hammer of his heart.
"Is it worth it, d'you suppose?"
"You mean having kids?" She felt him nod, hooked her chin over his shoulder. "I hope so. I'm kinda stuck on the idea of a miniature Donnie Eppes running around."
He snorted a laugh that ended on a sigh. "You're just glutton for punishment, huh?"
"I'm pretty tough. I think I can handle it."
The fingers tightened in hers again. "No doubt."
"How about you?" She didn't add that he was tough, too - knew the gritty exterior stood aggressive guard over a surprisingly tender core. Not that she'd say that out loud. It could remain their secret. She remembered ADIC Wright's delicate handling and smiled into his hair. Or maybe it wasn't such a secret after all.
"I don't know." Even lying so close she could barely make out his voice. "I mean, yeah, I thought about it. But when you think about what could happen…man. I mean, in these parents' shoes - I think I'd lose my mind. And stuck with nothing to do about it but hope somebody else will make it a priority - sit around and wait - "
"You mean like you're doing right now."
He was silent so long this time that she would have suspected he'd fallen asleep, except for the hand that fidgeted with her fingers, lacing and unlacing them, twirling the ring that encircled her fourth finger. "I guess. A little."
"Not like you, honey. Shying away from taking a risk." Not entirely true, even as she said it. Physical risks, no doubt; he was downright alarmingly oblivious to those. But emotional risks? That was another story. "I mean, what can anybody really be sure of? We know that better than anybody. See it every day."
"Know it a little too well, maybe." He relaxed back against her, thumb toying with the stone in her ring. "Besides, I think they should all look like you."
"All." She ran a finger around the edge of his ear. "More than one now."
"Sure. Can't leave the poor kid without somebody to fight with."
"Charlie would be touched."
"Hey, he can make his own kids."
"Mm." She trailed the finger down the side of his face, brushing stubble. "Think you can sleep now?"
"Sleep." He sounded as if he wasn't quite sure what she was referring to. "Hey - my - where's my phone?"
He forced himself up on his elbows, still clinging to her hand, and she pushed at him, back toward the pillows, nearly lying on top of him now. "The nightstand, where one of us would hear it if you were really needed. I know you're on call."
He sank back with a groan, eyes closing in relief. "Thanks."
"So. Sleep? Until it rings? Which we both know it will."
"Naw. Dreams." The wince was audible. "Just lying here is good."
"Okay." She wrapped herself around him, offering the only shelter she had.
The room fell silent, punctuated by their breathing and the steady murmur of the rain; the lightning fainter and farther away, sporadic, like broken neon. After a moment she felt his chest rise and fall, the brush of his forehead against hers.
She kept her voice as soft as his. "Sure."
"Every time I hold you, it's like - I can let go of one more terrible thing I've seen."
It was her turn to be silent. His fingers tickled a steady rhythm up and down her spine and the sheets rustled as she turned and hid her face in his neck.
The fingers stilled between her shoulder blades. "Are you - crying?"
She sniffed, without lifting her face. "Of course not."
She could hear the smile in his voice.
"Shut up and go to sleep. And you're taking more vitamin C before you go out back out in the wet."
That almost sounded like his normal self. And even a little bit…
She lifted her head, squinting to get a look in the graying light. Distantly, the thunder gave a grumble, followed by a half-hearted sputter of light - just enough to show her the twin black crescents quiet on Don's cheeks, lips relaxed and parted in sleep. She snuggled back down and got comfortable.
"Sweet dreams, baby," she murmered. "Storm's passing."