Defenseless

Mady Bay

Finally Finished, 12/31/10

A/N: Okay, this has been on my computer for about 3 or 4 years now… My 2010 New Year's Resolution, though, was to clear out my "unfinished fic" folder. This one got done – taking me right down to the wire. This is pure, unadulterated hurt/comfort. Yeah, there's a bad guy or two, but barely, not the real plot… So without further ado…

"Edwards! You done yet?"

Detective Danny Edwards jerked his head up off his desk, cursing himself for falling asleep. His boss, Captain Terry Harada, stood over him. And he thought his headache couldn't get any worse…

"Just about, Cap'," he replied, rubbing the soreness out of his neck. "Just getting the case file filled out. Those Marshals didn't give me too much time to get Lucy's statement finished before taking her."

Terry nodded in agreement and sympathy. Danny and his partner, Detective Chris Gains, had been undercover for nearly a month, working on breaking up a drug ring that reached as far as the mainland, and just as they were making the final plans for their bust, the US Marshals office stepped in and took their key witness away. Apparently their informant, Lucy Wang, a woman who took Danny inside the operation and paraded him around as her boy toy of the month, was supposed to have been a member of the Marshals' Witness Protection Program.

Unfortunately, it wasn't until this morning that they'd found out about her past with the Marshals' Program and now they were doing all they could to keep the undercover operation from falling apart, hoping that Wang's sudden departure could be covered up and therefore not jeopardize the bust, let alone Danny and Chris's covers.

"Where'd Chris go?" Danny asked, looking around. "Doesn't he have some paperwork to do, too?"

"He finished up his preliminary report about an hour ago, while you were sleeping," Terry told him, giving him a raised eyebrow look. "Sean and I told him to go home and finish up in the morning."

"Sucks to be the lead man, sometimes, huh, Edwards?" Sean Harrison joked as he entered the office, playfully slapping the back of Danny's head.

Danny couldn't help but let out a painful yelp and followed it up by waving a finger at the older detective.

Terry looked at his bedraggled looking young detective. "Get out of here, Edwards. Get some sleep; you look like shit."

Danny didn't need to be told twice.

"Just let us know how things go when you see Osada," Sean said. "Make sure you stay safe until Thursday."

"I will."

After saving his report and notes, Danny shut down his computer and pushed his wheeled chair away from his desk. Standing quickly, he felt dizzy for a moment, but brushed it off to being tired. He slowly twisted his arms above his head, stretching out, and moved his head from side to side before rubbing his hands down his face. He let out a loud sigh.

"Tell Chris I'm sleeping in tomorrow," he told Sean. "It's good to be the lead man, sometimes," he joked.

"Yeah, yeah," Sean muttered. "Just make sure you've got the goods Thursday night. Wasn't easy to reschedule everything."

"Hey, don't look at me, it was the Marshals that fucked it up," Danny said as he left the office.

Sean waved to Danny and then turned to his captain. "He's doing a good job," Sean told Terry. "Especially making sure that we had Lucy's statement – including all her aliases – before she left."

00000

The first thing Danny did when he got back to the house he was using for the case was to head straight for the kitchen and the cabinet where he kept the super-sized bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol. He shook out three tablets and downed them with a glass of water.

He did a quick check of the house, making sure it was locked up, before he decided that bed, and sleep, were in order.

00000

Rolling over with a groan, Danny opened his eyes and looked at the clock again. It was only eleven forty five: two hours after he'd gone to bed. He rolled his head back and forth on the pillow, wincing as his headache and neckache battled for first place in the pain division.

He climbed out of bed, headed for the kitchen and the Tylenol again, and grabbed some ice out of the freezer, as well. After clumsily dropping half of the ice out of the tray and onto the floor, letting out a few curses in the process, he managed to put a few into a Ziploc bag before heading back to bed.

Arranging his pillows to get as comfortable as possible, Danny eased back down onto his bed and placed the icepack on top of his head.

"Just a few hours, please," he whimpered against the pain.

00000

It was around three in the morning that Danny woke again, this time to find himself throwing up on himself, as he hadn't the strength or energy to get to the bathroom on time.

"Shit," he swore, finally sitting on the edge of his bed, truly feeling horrible.

He ran a hand through his hair, which he'd let grow during his undercover stint, and sighed. His head hurt worse than before, and he wondered if he'd finally inherited his mother's history of migraines.

Pushing himself up off the bed, Danny had to quickly grab onto the corner post and stand there until he got his balance and the room stopped swirling so much. He took a few quick breaths to quell the returning nausea before walking toward the bathroom.

Once there, he stripped off his soiled tee shirt and boxers and threw them into the hamper. He didn't think he could stand very long in the shower, so he grabbed a washcloth and ran it under the hot tap and washed himself off with it. Once clean, he ran the washcloth under the cold tap and wiped his face and neck, temporarily soothing the aches and heat he was feeling.

Next, it was back to his bedroom, to don a clean pair of boxers, and then back to the kitchen and the Tylenol again. This time he took five tablets and downed them with only a few sips of water.

Not having the motivation to change the sheets on his bed, Danny headed for the living room and collapsed onto the couch.

00000

Detective Chris Gains put his coffee down on his desk and headed for Captain Harada's office.

He ducked his head into the doorway, calling out, "Hey, Cap'," to let his superior know he was in, waited for the absent wave of acknowledgment from Terry, then made his way over to Sean's desk.

"So how late was Danny here last night?" he asked, looking at his watch – seeing that it was 8 am, time for the start of the day shift.

"Only until about nine," Sean replied. "He said to tell you that he'd be sleeping in, though."

"Figures," Chris murmured and returned to his desk. While he was doing the undercover workright along with Danny, his role in the operation was minimal, providing back up and being the liaison between Danny and the rest of the squad. His paperwork and reports wouldn't be nearly as voluminous as Danny's. And he wouldn't have to spend as much time in court, either, he thought with a smile. Then he frowned. He wouldn't have as much overtime pay as Danny, either…

00000

"Gains!" Terry called, getting Chris's attention. "Give Edwards a wake-up call," he ordered, pointing to the clock on the wall, which read 12:35 pm. "He was supposed to call me by noon."

"No problem, boss," Chris replied and picked up his phone, dialing as he spoke.

After a few attempts with negative results, Chris stood and walked to Terry's office. "He's not answering. Want me to go to the house?"

"Yeah, the DA's called me three times already," Terry answered. "Get him on the line."

00000

Chris parked his truck in the driveway, behind Danny's car. He reached the front door and began knocking.

"Danny! Yo, Danny! Rise and shine!" he called out.

After getting no response, Chris fished out his copy of the house's key and unlocked the door.

"Danny? You up?" he called, entering cautiously.

Something seemed out of sorts and Chris reached for his gun as he walked through the house. He headed for Danny's bedroom first, still calling his partner's name as he went. One did not sneak up on a police officer in his house – not unless one wanted to be shot.

"Oh, man," Chris groaned, seeing and smelling the vomit in the bedroom.

Heading for the next logical place, the bathroom, Chris expected to find Danny hunched over the toilet, puking his guts out. Danny had told him that he couldn't wait to have a few beers and relax after all the bullshit they'd gone through with the Marshals, despite knowing better, still being undercover…

Chris didn't expect to find his partner sprawled on the floor with blood on his head.

"Danny!"

First Aid class procedures kicking in, Chris dropped down to the floor next to his partner and checked his breathing and pulse. Satisfied that Danny had both, Chris grabbed his cell phone and dialed 911.

As he told the dispatcher about his findings – it looked as though his hungover partner may have fallen and hit his head – he found some towels and a clean blanket and covered Danny up with them.

Satisfied that an ambulance was on the way, Chris hung up and then called Captain Harada.

"I'll have him taken to The Queen's," he told Terry after telling him what seemed to have happened, and hung up.

Returning his attention to Danny, Chris tried to wake him.

"Come on, partner," he called, gently rubbing Danny's shoulder. "Wakey-wakey."

After a few attempts, Danny moaned.

"Mmmmm…. Chris?"

"Yeah, Danny," Chris replied. "Just stay still. Looks like you took a nasty fall."

"Head hurts… neck," Danny whimpered. "What… what are you doin' here?"

Judging by the gash and lump on the side of Danny's head, Chris expected Danny's head to hurt. But the neck hurting, that worried him a bit.

"Just stay still, buddy," he told Danny, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Try not to move around."

When he heard the ambulance's siren, Chris rose, telling Danny that he'd, "be right back," and headed for the front door. He waved to the ambulance driver, gesturing him to the right house, and met them on the street.

"My friend fell and hit his head," he told the paramedic while pointing to the side of his own head. "He said his neck hurts, too. And he's thrown up – I think he's hung over."

The paramedic nodded her head. "Did he lose consciousness?" she asked, following Chris into the house.

"Yeah, he was out when I showed up. I found him lying on the bathroom floor," Chris replied. "Danny? The paramedics are here, buddy," Chris called to his partner from outside the bathroom – leaving the paramedics room to enter.

"Danny?" the woman called. "Can you tell me what happened?" she asked, doing a cursory exam – checking for respirations and pulse.

"My head hurts," he got out. "And my neck…"

"Did you fall down? How did you hit your head?" she continued.

"I don't feel good."

"I know, Danny," she soothed. "Danny, I'm going to put a collar around your neck and then we're going to put you on a backboard, all right? We're going to play better safe than sorry – it's all precaution, okay?"

As she began placing the plastic collar around Danny's neck, though, he became very agitated and moved his hands up to block the paramedic's actions.

"No! Hurts!" he cried, trying to get away from her.

"Take it easy, Danny!" Chris called. "Let her do her job, man."

After a brief struggle, with the other paramedic moving in closer to help his partner and Chris helping, too, they managed to get the collar on Danny and then Danny onto the backboard.

Danny continued to fight their care, despite Chris's attempts to soothe him.

00000

Chris arrived at The Queen's Medical Center shortly after the ambulance. He was shown past four treatment rooms before hearing the paramedic giving the doctor her report.

"Twenty-eight year old male with a head injury; two inch laceration to the right temple; friend found him unconscious on the bathroom floor; evidence of vomiting; possible intoxication.

"I'm not drunk! I'm just sick!" Danny yelled, and then moaned in pain.

The paramedic continued, "Vitals: BP one-forty over eighty-four, pulse one-twenty and strong, respirations thirty. He's been combative since he regained consciousness."

"I've got a fucking headache," Danny groaned. "If you'd just give me something for my fucking headache, I won't be so combative!"

"Hey, take it easy on the staff," Chris admonished gently, coming to Danny's bedside.

Danny was still strapped down to the backboard, immobilized head to toe, but trying his best to rid himself of the straps, IVs and oxygen mask.

"I want out of this, Chris," Danny begged. "I just want the pain to stop. Tell them to give me a shot of something. Please," he added, wrists pulling pathetically at the cravats the paramedics had to use to immobilize him.

"Calm down, Danny," Chris went on, leaning over the bed so that he was eye to eye with Danny. "I don't know what's going on, but you've got a big-ass lump on your head, and you were unconscious when I found you."

Danny squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth to hold back the scream he wanted to let loose.

"Just try to relax, partner. I'm with ya," Chris soothed.

When Danny finally seemed to relax, Chris withdrew and made room for the doctor, who immediately began checking the young detective's pupils, garnering some more cursing as the penlight's brightness sent knives of pain through Danny's skull.

"Let's send him up for a skull series and a CT, Carol," the doctor told the nurse.

00000

Chris headed for the waiting room while Danny was sent to the Radiology department. He was about to pull out his cell phone, to call Terry, when he heard his name being called. Terry was walking across the room toward him.

"How is he?" Terry asked.

"Don't know yet."

"You said he was drunk?" Terry asked, looking disappointed.

"Actually, Cap'," Chris replied sheepishly, nervously scratching at his beard, "I think I was wrong on that one. He said he didn't have anything to drink, but was just sick. Maybe a migraine? He told me once that his mother got them all the time."

Terry nodded his head at Chris's explanation.

"Seems okay – he's coherent," Chris went on. "He was bitching and moaning, too – that's gotta be a good sign. They're taking x-rays and stuff to make sure though."

Terry ran a hand through his hair and sighed. The District Attorney was not going to be happy. "Okay, Chris," he said. "Keep me up to date. I'm heading back to the office."

"Sure, Cap'."

00000

It was all Danny could do to fight the nausea as the orderlies wheeled him through the hospital corridors. Keeping his eyes closed helped – to a point. While the action blocked out the light that seared through his skull like a laser beam, the motion jarred his body and stirred his stomach.

He thought he would lose it for sure when the technicians positioned him for the radiological tests.

"Goddammit, Chris, I'm gonna kill you for this," he whispered.

00000

An hour later, with Danny back in the ER, his doctor finally gave the order for the backboard, cervical collar and restraints to be removed.

"About time," Danny muttered, moving his hands up to his head and rubbing his face.

"We didn't find any problems with your x-rays," the doctor told him. "Your friend stated that you've been under a lot of stress without a lot of sleep lately. Probably just a migraine."

Danny crushed the palms of his hands into his eyes. "Will you at least give me something for the pain, now?" he begged.

"Sure. I'll have the nurse give you a shot and then in a little bit, your friend can take you home."

00000

When Chris was allowed in to see Danny and get him ready to take home, he found his partner sitting hunched over on the edge of the exam bed with a couple of sheets wrapped around his waist and shoulders.

"You didn't happen, by chance, to bring some clothes for me, did you?" Danny asked quietly.

Chris shrugged his shoulders as he shook his head. "The nurse said she'll get some scrubs for you to wear home," he offered. "Can't even see the stitches," he added, trying to lighten the mood.

Danny moved his head a bit to look at his partner, wincing at the stiffness in his neck and squinting at the bright light. "You don't have to apologize, Chris," he said letting out a sigh. "You did the right thing."

"Are you feeling any better?" Chris asked.

"Good enough to go back to the house and go to bed, but that's about it," Danny replied tiredly.

The nurse brought in the scrubs – which were a little too short in the pants – but they were good enough for Danny and after signing a multitude of paperwork and getting a few migraine medicine samples, the partners were on their way back to the house.

00000

Terry had received a call from Chris as soon as they knew Danny was going to be discharged. Harada was glad to hear that Danny had suffered no more than a stress and lack of sleep-induced migraine. He wasn't glad to hear that his detective would not be at his best for the next important few days.

00000

Danny hadn't made it three feet into the house before finding the couch and collapsing down onto it.

Chris continued on into the house, being the good friend and partner that he was, and braved the messes Danny had left in the bedroom and bathroom. He knew Danny would do the same for him.

When everything was cleaned up and the linens on the bed changed, he roused Danny from the couch and guided him to the darkened bedroom.

"Thanks, Chris," Danny murmured, snuggling into the warm blankets with a moan.

"Give me a call when you're up later, Harada said we still gotta do the bust – Thursday or never," Chris replied and left.

00000

By the time Chris returned to the office the rest of the detective team had gone home for the day. He found a few memos on his desk from Harada, listing the reports and files he needed to work on, and which ones he needed to do for Danny by the next morning.

Three and a half hours later had Chris rubbing his eyes and seeing double on his computer screen, but he'd finally finished. He left a pile of court paperwork on Danny's desk for his partner to sign and copies of everything on Terry's desk. He took a quick look at his watch – 11 PM – and turned to go, when Terry's desk phone rang, startling him.

Chris ignored it. Not his phone.

00000

By the time Chris got home, though, his cell phone was ringing.

"Oh, come on," he groused, tired beyond reason. He took a quick glance at the phone and saw the name of the caller. "Shit." He opened the phone. "Yeah, Cap'?" he answered, hoping his weariness was heard loud and clear. But then he was wide awake. "What? Dammit!" he cursed, heading back out to his car. "Yeah, I'm on the way."

00000

Danny probably broke some speed limits heading over to Danny's house. He parked haphazardly in the driveway, not caring about the lawn he drove over to get to it.

"Danny! Danny!" Chris shouted as he first banged on the door, then keyed into the house. "Danny, where are you?" he called, heading to the bedroom.

Danny murmured an acknowledgment of Chris's presence, moving slightly and then moaning loudly from underneath the covers.

"Come on, Danny," Chris coaxed, pulling back the blanket, wincing at the sight of his partner – flushed, sweaty and in obvious distress. "We gotta get you back to the hospital," he told him.

But Danny just groaned and rolled over, trying to drag the covers back up over himself.

"Danny, come on," Chris implored. "This is serious – we think you got meningitis," he tried to explain. "I got a call from Harada. Lucy Wang's got it, man. She's in the hospital in LA. And you two were tight – so this has gotta be what's going on with you."

Chris heard some voices in the hallway and sighed in relief – the ambulance crew Terry had dispatched was here.

Chris moved to the hall, to call the crew and direct them to the bedroom, but was met not by paramedics, but a gun barrel, inches from his face.

Manny Inez stood in front of him, gun in hand, staring silently at Chris, as he waited for his boss, Chad Osada, to come down the hall.

"Manny? What's up, man?" Chris asked. "'Cause, man, your timing kinda sucks, you know? Danny here's real sick and an ambulance is on its way to take him to the hospital."

"He's that bad?" Osada asked. He looked past Chris into the bedroom, at Danny.

"Yeah. I think he's got meningitis," Chris told him.

"Where's Lucy?"

"I don't know, man," Chris replied, hands spread out before him. "Haven't seen her since yesterday. She disappeared on us. Danny had me looking all over the Island, you know? Look, I'd love to talk, but Danny's not doin' so good…"

"I don't care," Osada told him. He nodded to Manny who stepped closer to Chris, forcing him away from the door. "I need to know what you did with Lucy."

"I told you," Chris said. "She's gone, man. Disappeared. We don't know where she is, either! Hell, maybe she's sick, too. Check the hospitals yet?" He looked at his watch and then at the front door. "That ambulance will be here any time, man. Tell you what – let me get Danny to the hospital and then I'll go with you anywhere you want – I'll help look for Lucy," he offered.

"Not good enough," Osada said, "Cancel the ambulance. Maybe… maybe I'll stay here with Dannyboy, while you look for Lucy." He smiled. "I think that's some good motivation for you, don't you think?"

Chris didn't know what to say to that. He knew there was no way he could get Lucy for them. Hell, even if he told them a partial truth – that Lucy was stateside – he didn't think Osada would believe him. Danny let out a painful groan, and Chris made a move for the bedroom.

Manny stopped him. Osada came close then, frisked Chris and took a gun from his holster. He motioned him into the bedroom then, following.

"Easy, buddy," Chris whispered, gently pushing his partner back onto the bed, putting the blanket back around him. Danny was in bad shape, and getting worse. He rose and faced Osada, letting out a dramatic sigh. He held his hands out, giving Osada his best, "you got me" look. "Lucy's gone. She took off this morning for the States."

"He's lyin', boss," Manny put in. "Lucy told me that she's wanted in the States. She showed me the warrant. No way she could even get on a plane without setting off the alarms with the Feds."

Osada looked expectantly at Chris. Chris knew that what Manny said was partially true – she would have sent up all sorts of red flags if her ID went through the airport security. He'd put most of her aliases into the database himself at the beginning of their case, so that they could keep an eye on her.

"That's what I thought," Chris agreed. He was about to say more when his cell phone began to ring. He looked expectantly at Osada, who nodded to Manny.

Manny put his hand out for the phone. He saw the name displayed on the screen – Sean. Manny knew Sean as one of Danny's other associates. He gave the phone back to Chris to answer.

Chris hit the answer button and greeted Sean. "Yo, Sean. Yeah, that would be great," he said. "We can play some one on one next time. And hey, if you see Lucy, tell her Danny wants to see her at his place. Yeah." He closed the phone and put it in his pocket.

Out in the street, a few houses down from the house, Sean and Terry sat in Terry's car. They'd come to help Chris with Danny – to make sure he was all right – when they saw Osada's muscle and car outside. Terry had immediately called Dispatch and told them to hold off on the ambulance, staging it around the block until they knew it was safe.

"They're still in there," Sean told Terry. "Chris said he'd play one on one, so it's even odds – just Osada and one other guy, probably Manny Inez, in there with he and Danny. He mentioned looking for Lucy – so that's what Osada's there for. He must have found out somehow that she's turned on him."

"Osada's secondary right now," Terry said. "We need to get Danny out of there as soon as possible."

"Lets take out Gorgo, there, first," Sean said, motioning to Osada's muscle man.

With a nod, Terry backed the car out of the driveway they'd parked in. He then drove toward Danny's house. He parked out front, immediately getting out of the car, despite the muscle man's approach and non-verbal warning to stay in the car.

"What's your business, bruddah?" the muscle asked.

"Hey, just here to see Danny, you know?" Sean replied. "Got some info for him about Lucy."

The muscle nodded, but then, as he turned away, Terry hit him from behind, knocking the beefy man down. Another punch to the side of the head and he was out cold. Sean handcuffed him to a nearby tree and did a quick search, removing several weapons and cell phones.

They moved to the front door, each moving to a side before Sean rang the doorbell.

Inside, Chris went for the door. "Must be the ambulance," he said. Manny followed closely, keeping his gun trained on Chris. Chris didn't miss the fact that Osada stayed behind with Danny, probably keeping his own weapon trained on the sick man just in case…

Chris no sooner opened the door than Sean walked in confidently, Terry right behind him. "Chris! What's up, man? And Manny! So good to see you, too, bro!" he exclaimed, quickly getting close to Manny and putting him off balance. Once again, Terry got behind the bad guy, this time putting him into a sleeper hold. Sean helped ease him to the floor, hoping to keep things quiet.

"Where're Osada and Danny?" Terry whispered.

"Back bedroom," Chris replied with a nod in that direction, watching as Terry handcuffed Manny and searched him, removing his weapons and other criminal paraphernalia. "I'm sure he's got a weapon, too."

"Hey, Osada!" Sean called back. "I got Lucy here for ya!" Then he quickly pinched Chris, causing the young man to let out a girlish cry of pain.

Sean waited around the corner from the hallway as Chris went to the bedroom to "confirm" that Sean was there with Lucy.

"It's true," he told the man, shrugging his shoulders. "Come on out. That and the ambulance is just around the corner – I saw the lights from the front door," he added.

Osada, desperate to see the woman that would be the downfall of his operation, headed for the hallway. Once he felt Danny was no longer in danger, Chris lunged at Osada, shoving him to the floor in the bedroom's doorway. Sean was there to back him up and help subdue him. Once that was done, Sean shouted to Terry, "call the ambulance!" and Chris returned to Danny's bedside.

"Okay, partner, we're gonna get you help now," he told Danny. "Danny?" he said a little louder, but got no reply. "Come on, buddy, don't do this, man." He felt Danny's forehead, still hot, if not hotter than it was before, and dry. He quickly ran to the bathroom and got some wet washcloths, returning to Danny and putting them on his partner's face and neck, hoping to cool him off; comfort him in some way.

Sean entered the room, then. "How is he?"

"Bad."

"Ambulance is coming in the front door now," Sean replied grimly.

Both men stood back and let the paramedics do their job – they wore protective masks and gloves, having been warned of Danny's sickness ahead of time – and quickly readied him for transport.

"Go with them," Terry told Chris. "And make sure you get checked out, too."

When Chris gave him a quizzical look, Sean explained, "We could all have it."

Chris nodded and hurried to catch up with Danny and the ambulance crew.

Sean looked at Terry. "DA's not gonna like this," he said, looking at Chad Osada sitting handcuffed on the couch next to Manny Inez, who was waking up.

"No, he's not," Terry said with a sigh. "But tough shit. My men's lives come before any case they're working on."

"Maybe we can salvage some of it," Sean replied. "At the very least we've got them right now on unlawful imprisonment charges, weapons possession charges… I'm sure we can get a warrant to check out the trunk of the car to see if anything's inside."

"And whatever Danny had already," Terry added, looking disgustedly at the duo on the couch.

"You gonna call him now or later?"

Terry looked at his watch. "Later."

At four a.m., Sean and Terry finally made their way into the Queen's emergency room waiting area. Chris was seated in the corner, eyes on the door to the treatment area, and almost didn't see them arrive.

"I take it no word yet?" Terry asked.

"You know what they had to do?" Chris asked, not answering the question, but asking his own.

Sean and Terry both heard the stress in Chris's voice. Something bad had happened. They sat down quietly next to their fellow officer, thinking the worst.

Before they could offer their condolences, though, Chris continued, saying, "They had to put a needle into his spine. I was there… we all thought he was unconscious… he wasn't responding, you know?" He looked at Sean. "But when they bent him all up, I helped hold his arms… and then they put this big ass needle into his spine… God, he screamed!"

Chris's voice cracked and Terry put a hand onto Chris's shoulder, ready to soothe him.

"He fucking screamed because it hurt so much, but we had to hold him down, you know? Because that big ass needle was in his fucking spine!"

"That's how they test for certain kinds of meningitis," Sean explained.

"Well it's scary as hell and it wasn't even my spine!" Chris exclaimed.

"I take it they haven't gotten any definitive results yet?" Terry asked, understanding now the source of Chris's distress.

Chris exhaled loudly, saying, "No."

"But they're taking care of him, right? Treating him at least?"

"Yeah. Lots of antibiotics, fever reducers, pain killers…" Chris replied. "Guy's gonna be drugged to the gills."

The door to the treatment area opened and a doctor emerged, heading right for the trio.

They stood and waited for the doctor to speak.

"Definitely meningitis," he said. "Wish we'd caught it sooner, and I'll be talking to the ER staff about that later," he added, his way of apologizing for the staff not recognizing the problem during Danny's previous ER visit.

"So what's his prognosis?" Terry asked.

"He'll be here for a bit; we've already started him on medication for the meningitis, fever and pain, but it'll probably be few days before he'll be feeling anything like normal."

"But we got him here in time?" Chris asked.

"Yes. I think so," the doctor replied.

"And what about the rest of us?" Sean asked. "We know two people now who've gotten sick – people we've worked closely with."

"We'll start you all on some medicine, preventive, hopefully, and monitor you closely," the doctor replied.

"Can we see him?" Chris asked.

The doctor shook his head, "We're going to keep him isolated for a few days yet. I'd rather not have you exposed, if you aren't sick. That and it's late. I think you all look like you could use some rest."

Chris looked like he would protest, so Terry put a gentle hand on his shoulder, giving it a squeeze. "He's right, Chris," he said, adding, "Danny'll be here later. You can come back then."

"Besides," Sean spoke up, saying, "We'll take the next few days to close up the case and take all the credit. That ought to piss Edwards off enough to keep you happy and arguing for months." Sean got dirty looks from both Chris and Sean for that remark. He held up his hands in supplication. "Fine, fine. Whatever. Bottom line, though, is that we've got work to do, and it won't get done sitting around here, when we know Danny'll be fine."

Chris nodded grudgingly to that line of logic.

"Come back tonight," the doctor put in, feeling pity for the young detective.

That night, Chris was allowed into Danny's room. Wearing the protective mask and gown like instructed, feeling weird, he approached his partner's bed. He was surprised to see Danny watching him.

"That you, Chris?" Danny rasped, fever and exhaustion evident in his weak voice.

"Yeah, buddy, it's me," Chris replied, moving to stand awkwardly at the side of the bed. "How you doin'?" he asked.

"Feel like crap."

Chris smiled under the mask. "Don't look much better," he countered.

"What the hell happened?" Danny asked. "Last thing I remember was you taking me home from the ER when I had a migraine."

"Didn't they tell you?"

"Well, yeah," Danny sighed. "I know now it wasn't a migraine." He tried to sit up, to see Chris better, but was met with pain. He gasped and grabbed his head.

"Hey, easy, there, Danny," Chris soothed, gently pushing his partner back down.

"My head still feels like it's gonna effin' explode," Danny groaned.

"I know," Chris replied. "But you're on the mend. You just do what the docs tell you and you'll be outta here in no time."

"Not time enough to bust Osada," Danny lamented.

Chris stood and walked around the room. "Don't worry about Osada, Danny. We'll take care of him. Sean, Terry and me – we've been working on that, hell we already got him on some felonies last night."

"Last night?"

Chris looked closely at Danny, saw the exhaustion creeping up again. "We'll talk about it tomorrow. Just rest tonight; do what the staff tells you."

"But Osada?"

Chris nodded his head. "We got him, Danny. You got him. The DA is having a field day with all the stuff you got on him." He was going to continue when he noticed that Danny had already fallen asleep.

He stepped close to the bed again, straightened out the blankets and tucked his partner in. Then he sat down in the chair in the corner. He and Danny had often talked about the dangers of the job. Hell, both had been injured on the job – broken ribs, bruises, knife slashes… Danny had even been shot. But to think that his partner had almost been taken down by illness, that was just too much. Not much he could have done to prevent that –no classes or lessons during their officer safety and defensive tactics classes could have prevented this. No bullet proof vest to stop this bullet.

He shook his head and stood, approaching the bed again. He reached out and took Danny's hand in his own, giving it a gentle squeeze. "It's good to be the lead man, huh?" he whispered, then shook his head, adding, "No, sometimes is sucks. Big time."

He left the room and headed for home, knowing that his partner was in good hands.