The Watch and the Ring.

Slowly, Katherine stirred, not for the first time. However, it was the first time she opened her eyes. She was not yet lucid, so all she could comprehend was that she was in a hospital bed and the two men she loved most were at her side. She closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

Tears welled in both men's eyes when they saw her look at them, giving them both a look of silent recognition. It only lasted a moment, and neither of them had a chance to speak before her eyes closed again.

"She didn't look like she was in pain, right?" Her father's voice was fearful.

"No, she's got plenty of morphine right now. She's not hurting." Her partner and best friend knew her fleeting expressions well enough that he knew she didn't feel pain.

The two men settled back into their seats, hoping the next time she stirred, she would actually wake up. Lanie had brought clothes and toiletries for Jim, and Martha had done the same for Rick. Other friends and loved ones came and went, but these two stayed. Despite the objections of family, friends, and a certain doctor they did their best to ignore, they stayed. They used the shower in the hospital suite. No longer in the ICU, Kate was in the nicest VIP room Rick could procure. Their chairs were comfortable and they could take turns sleeping on the fairly decent couch. But it wasn't like they had actually done much sleeping.

The two men got to know each other quite well in the days sitting by that bed, waiting for her to wake up. Jim told stories of Kate as a child, her first crush, which boy bands got to have their posters on her walls. She'd been a funny kid. Strong and independent, but tons of fun and quick with a smile. Rick told him of the pranks she'd pulled on him when he thought he'd been cursed by a mummy. Jim was glad her sense of humor had finally come back. They had gone a long time without real laughter.

Jim told of when she beat up the neighborhood bully for picking on a little kid. How they tried to get her involved in Girl Scouts, but sing-alongs, sit-upons, and cookie sales just weren't her thing. Rick laughed at the mental image of a little bitty Kate in a Brownie uniform, complete with beanie. Instead she joined Little League baseball. The league allowed girls, but she was the only girl on her team.

"She gave those boys hell, Rick. They tried to say girls couldn't play. She had to be the best, in part to prove them wrong, in part to prove herself right. She made all-stars." He chuckled. So did Rick.

Rick looked over at her and rubbed his thumb across the hand he was holding. "Sounds like she hasn't changed all that much." He smiled as a memory of her floated by and softly said, "Joe freakin' Torre. I've never seen her so excited."

Hours passed. Naps were taken. Coffee was practically mainlined.

Sadness clouded Jim's face. "She wears my watch. Did she tell you why?" Rick nodded.

Jim sighed and continued, "I wish she'd stop. Being a literature buff, she loves symbolism. I know she says she wears it as a reminder of the life she saved - and that's true- but it's more than that. The ring, too. They're not just reminders. They're warnings."

Thanks to MelTheorist for the idea. Please review! Pretty please!