Second Best (1/1)

By Carol M.

Summary: Sloan and Ed in the aftermath of the events in Deliverance

Spoilers: Deliverance, maybe others

Rating: PG for some h/c and angst

Disclaimer: Don't own them, only play with them

Note: This is my first Prey fan fic, although I have written quite a few for The Invisible Man. When I watched Prey, I was a total Ed lover so I decided to write this little piece on what happened when Sloan found Ed on her floor after Deliverance. If you guys like this one, I might delve further into the man that is Ed Tate. Maybe do a few missing scenes, go into his past or even start an Ed based series. It's all up to you. Enjoy this one, folks!

Sloan's heart beat rapidly in her chest as she watched Tom being whisked across the sidewalk by the ominous looking men in black. He was shoved into a van of the matching color and it tore off, leaving Sloan shaky and alone on the street. She tried to focus enough to take the license plate number, but her mind wasn't cooperating. She took several deep breaths, trying desperately to calm down, but it only managed to upset her more. By the time she was done with the deep breathing exercises, she was on the verge of tears. "Tom," she whispered softly as the tears started to fall from her eyes.

Somehow she had ended up on the sidewalk in a sitting position. She couldn't for the life of her remember when she had sat down or for how long she had been out in the dark, staring at the ghost of the van that had disappeared minutes, or maybe even hours ago. She wiped the tears away from her eyes and stood up, deciding to go up to her apartment to lay down, or at the very least, take a warm bath. There wasn't much she could about Tom until Walter contacted her anyway.

She quickly made her way off the curb and into the foyer of her building, surprised to find that she still remembered how to move her legs. When she finally reached her apartment, she sighed when she saw that whoever had taken Tom had broken her door. She stepped through the doorway and then gasped in surprise when she saw Ed lying unconscious on the floor.

"Oh my god, Ed," she cried out as she stepped to him and quickly ran her hands over his body, checking to see if he was still alive. Her fingers snaked around to his neck and finally detected a pulse that was sluggish, but steady. She took his face in her hands and began rubbing his temples softly. "Ed, can you hear me?" she asked with concern.

Sloan got no response from the lanky scientist. She gently lay his head down on the floor and then winced when she saw a nasty looking puncture wound on his neck. She turned his head to examine it further and concluded that it had to have come from a hypodermic gun of some kind that had no doubt been filled with a fairly heavy sedative.

She sighed and absently began running her fingers through his long hair, not sure what she should do with him. She glanced at her bed and then back at Ed, determining there was no way she would be able to get him over there on her own. Ed may have been thin, but he was also deceptively muscular, not too mention that fact that he was a mess of long arms and legs.

She quickly got up from the floor, giving Ed a firm pat on the shoulder as she stood up. She ran into the bathroom, locating some alcohol and a bandage. On her way back from the bathroom, she grabbed a spare blanket. She sank back down next to Ed and began dressing the wound on his neck to prevent it from getting infected. Then she carefully pulled him into her arms, taking care to cover him up with the blanket she had brought over. She leaned her head down against his and closed her eyes, wanting nothing more than for the last few hours to be erased from her life forever. But when she opened her eyes and stared down at Ed's unconscious form, she knew that it was impossible.

It must have been a surprise attack, she concluded. How else could they have gotten Tom? Ed would have put up a fight against the men who had taken Tom, wouldn't he? A part of Sloan wondered if Ed really did trust Tom like he said he did or if it all was some kind of big show for her. Maybe Ed had let them take Tom so he would be out of their lives for good. She shook the thought from her head and instantly felt bad for even considering the possibility that Ed would betray her and Tom. Ed would never do something like that. He was her friend. Her best friend.

"God, I am sorry," she whispered to Ed, even though he couldn't hear her. She began running her hand down the side of his face for lack of anything better to do. Somehow it comforted her. The same motion over and over again. One smooth stroke all the way from his crinkled forehead to the underside of his strong jaw. The skin from his forehead to his cheekbone was amazingly soft until her hand reached his jaw where there was a thin line of course stubble, leaving her palm slightly burned at the end of every stroke. Sort of like Tom. Oh god, Tom. Images of Tom started to flash through her mind, and Ed's face was quickly blurred out by the tears that were once again forming in her eyes.

She leaned over and buried her face against Ed's neck, catching the musky scent of his cologne and a whiff of the salty seas. Ed always smelled like the ocean no matter how long it had been since he had gone surfing. The ocean and the hot sun. Her and Tom on the beach like normal people, basking in the afternoon rays watching Ed as he caught the perfect wave. Maybe the thought was too much to hope for. Maybe it was unrealistic. But in the back of her mind, it was exactly what Sloan wanted.

She cradled Ed in her arms for hours, letting the warm heat of his body provide her with a false sense of security and comfort. Ed was there. He was always there for her. No matter what she did or what she said to him, no matter how many times she had lied to him, Ed always came through. Maybe it was selfish, but it was what she loved about him. What she needed from him.

After about two hours, Ed started to stir. He began twitching in her arms, reminding her of a dog that was having a bad dream. He moaned and murmured names of people she didn't recognize. She could see his eyeballs moving rapidly behind his lids, desperately trying to fight the sedative and come out the forced unconsciousness. This continued on for about an hour until Ed finally woke up.

"Hmmm," he murmured as his eyes fluttered opened.

"Shhh, don't try and talk. Just rest," said Sloan gently, putting a firm finger over his lips.

Ed closed his eyes for a moment and then opened them again, an apologetic look on his face as he stared intensely in her eyes. "I'm sorry," he rasped.

Sloan shook her head. "Ed, it's not your fault, you couldn't have known," she said as she began stroking his hair again.

Ed closed his eyes and sighed, reveling in the feel of Sloan's hand delicately working it's way through his long mop of hair. He felt safe here. Safe in her arms. Loved.

But it wasn't love. He had seen it in her eyes. It was love for another man. Not him. Never him. Ever. The horrible thought coupled with the after effects of the sedative made him nauseous. "I'm gonna be sick," he whispered quickly as he opened his eyes and tried to ignore the look of loss in Sloan's gaze.

Sloan quickly helped him to his feet and guided him towards the bathroom. Ed fell to his knees in front of the toilet and began a chain of vomiting and dry heaving that lasted nearly a half-hour. By the time it was over, Ed barely had the energy to pick his head up from the toilet seat.

"Oh Ed," said Sloan as she came up behind him with a wash cloth and began running it over the back of his neck.

Ed shook his head in misery. "We need to find Walter," he murmured in a muffled voice against the seat.

"Walter can wait. We need to get you feeling better first," she said as she gently reached under his arms. "Can you walk?" she asked.

Ed nodded weakly and let her help him into a standing position. Slowly but surely, Sloan guided the taller man over to her bed, where she sat him down and took off his shoes. She carefully pushed him against the pillow and pulled the covers over him. He gazed up at her, wanting to wipe the sad and worried expression off her face. "We'll find him, Sloan. We'll get him back, I promise," he whispered.

A doubtful look appeared on Sloan's face. "No we won't, Ed. He's gone. Everything's gone. The lab has been shut down. All our work, the last year of our lives, it's all gone," she cried out as tears sparkled in her eyes. She lost the battle with her emotions and started to sob.

Ed grabbed her arm and pulled her down so she was nestled against him in the bed. He cupped her neck with his hand and brought her head down against his shoulder. "It'll be okay, Sloan. It's gonna be okay," he whispered into her ear. "They're not going to stop us. Come on, we've only just begun. We can't give up now." His nose buried into her hair and he tried to ignore the light scent of vanilla that invaded his airways. God, he was in love with this woman. So much that it hurt.

After a few minutes Sloan slowly sat up, wiping at her face. "Tom wouldn't let us give up," she said. "We have to keep fighting. We have to find Tom."

Ed nodded. "That's right, so where do we start?"

"You can start with me," said a voice from behind them.

They both looked up and saw Walter standing in the mangled doorway of Sloan's apartment.

"Walter," said Sloan in relief as she got off the bed and quickly ran over to her boss. "They got Tom. They drugged Ed, and they just took him," she cried out in desperation. "We have to get him back."

Walter nodded. "We will."

Ed continued to lay on the bed, half-listening to Walter and Sloan's ideas on how to locate Tom. His mind swirled back and forth between consciousness and unconsciousness, his stomach still flip-flopping from the effects of the sedative and from something deeper that was tearing his insides apart.

Because now it was clear. Sloan was in love with Tom. The loss in her eyes said it all. For all the times he had tried to convince himself otherwise, it now was abundantly clear. Sloan would never be his; she would always be Tom's. He had been relegated to the role of big brother, friend, and faithful lab tech. Sure she loved him. As a friend. But he would never be quite what she needed or even wanted. To Sloan, Ed would always be second best. And that revelation tore Ed's already aching heart in two.

That's All Folks