Disclaimer: These characters are property of Greg Weisman. I'm just playing with them for now.
Author's Note: As always, dedicated to the wonderful Obi's Second Cousin who's lovely portrayal of the Puck and Owen Burnett makes it so easy for me to write these drabbles.
I woke up to the feeling that I'd been hit in the gut with a sledge hammer. Or maybe a pick axe wielded by Paul Bunyan. One of the two. In the background I was vaguely aware of machines whirring and beeping, and there was a slight ache in the back of my left hand. Even though I was awake, I didn't want to open my eyes and actually see why I was in so much pain all over.
Sadly, the human memory is a fickle thing, and while I was trying my hardest to not remember what had happened to me, the memories came flooding back.
It had been a typical evening at home for me. I was cooking up a steak for myself when Broadway stopped by on his way to the castle. Of all the Gargoyles, Broadway was the one that I felt closest to in a sisterly way. He was very sweet and naïve, which was refreshing after spending all day with hardened and cynical cops. So I'd been quick to offer to cook up a couple more steaks while he was there and spend the evening chatting with him. I was vaguely aware of him goofing around behind me when there was a loud bang and then a sharp pain in my middle. After that, I remembered nothing until I woke up to find my family all around me in a hospital room.
Broadway had explained everything to me after my parents and brother left. He had been playing with my gun—which I had been stupid enough to leave out and loaded—and it had accidentally gone off, hitting me. If it were any rooky cop, I would have been furious with them, but Broadway didn't know better. He'd been in a stone stasis for a thousand years and didn't understand the dangers of guns. So, it had been easy for me to forgive him. After all, I couldn't hold his ignorance against him.
This time, when I woke up, neither my family nor any of the Gargoyles were in the room with me. There wasn't even a nurse or doctor there. Instead, sitting in a chair pulled up close beside the bed, was Owen Burnett, my ex-boyfriend.
For a moment, all I could do was stare and hope that he didn't realize I was awake. He had a book in his hands, but I could tell that he wasn't really reading it. For one thing, he hadn't turned a page in the time since my eyes opened, and his eyes weren't even moving. But he also didn't appear to realize that I was awake, as his gaze was fixed on the book in his hands. This gave me ample opportunity to both relax, and observe.
Owen looked practically the same as the last time I had seen him when he came to the precinct to tell Captain Chavez and I about particle-beam weaponry that had been stolen from Xanatos Enterprises. At least, he did at first glance. Then I looked again and realized that Owen looked like hell. There were bags under his eyes, his jaw was clenched tight and covered by a slight five o'clock shadow, his hands shook almost imperceptibly, and he had actually loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button on his shirt. I had never seen Owen like this before in the months that I had known him. He'd never so much as loosened his tie in my presence, even when we were dating. I'd had to do the loosening for him when we were alone.
Was all this because of me?
It couldn't be. Owen was more level-headed than to let his appearance suffer because I had gotten myself put in a hospital. After all, we'd been broken up for almost six months. He had to be over me by now.
Right. Because you are clearly over him, I thought bitterly.
Much as I hated to admit it, my thoughts were correct. I wasn't over Owen, no matter how much I tried to act like I was. Not that I'd tell him that. I wasn't about to give him the satisfaction to know just how much he'd affected me.
To be blunt, he'd ruined me for anyone else. Yes, Owen was practically a robot in his work, but when it came to our relationship there was a different side to him. He was still controlled and almost painfully proper, but he was softer, gentler. I didn't really know how to explain what he was like when we were alone together. He never completely let down his hair—or undid his tie—as it were, but he was much more open than he ever was in public. And he'd done a thousand little things to make me fall for him. He'd send me chocolates once a week at work, come over to my apartment after I'd had a bad day just to let me know that I wasn't alone, and so many other things. It was a wonder I hadn't fallen for him sooner, really. And now he was here, in my hospital room, clearly concerned for me.
I didn't know what to do about this situation I had woken up to find myself in. Glancing out the window, I noticed that it had to be sometime around midday, so there wasn't really any chance of the Gargoyles or my family getting me out of this mess. Damn it. The last thing I wanted to happen while I was hooked up to an IV and a few medical machines was to have to deal with my ex-boyfriend. But it looked like that was what going to happen, whether I wanted it to or not.
Some people just never get a break, I swear.
Apparently my slight movement when I turned to look at the window had alerted Owen to the fact that I was awake, because when I looked back at him, I was met by a pair of unbelievably pale blue eyes staring right at me. Oh…joy.
For an almost impossibly long time, Owen and I stared at one another without speaking. I didn't even realize I was tensed up as though ready to bolt until he touched my wrist lightly and my muscles contracted even more. Damn him, now I was going to have a stress headache in addition to all my already existing aches and pains. But I refused to relax at all as I stared intently into his pale eyes. I wasn't about to be the first to speak, either, so I set my jaw defiantly and waited for him to speak.
"I am…so sorry," he said quietly, his voice sounding much rougher than I had ever heard it before. "Elisa…"
I turned my face away from him, the tears suddenly threatening to spill out of my eyes if I wasn't careful. I don't know how he managed to do it, but Owen was the only man who could make me cry like this without doing anything but apologizing. Or saying my name. I still wasn't sure which had brought tears to my eyes this time. It took me a minute, but I finally managed to speak around the lump in my throat.
"I can't do this…"
Not exactly what I had intended to say, but I really didn't know what I had wanted to say when I first opened my mouth.
"Can't do what?" Owen pressed gently, his fingers thankfully no longer on my wrist. I couldn't have thought clearly with him touching me.
I didn't know what to say! I couldn't let him see that, though, and I was silent for a moment as I tried to figure out what to say next.
"I can't…deal with this," I said lamely, using my right hand to indicate the two of us. "Owen…I've been shot! I'm just not up to this."
He looked as though I had just slapped him, his already pale face growing even paler as he stared at me. Slowly, he rose to his feet and nodded stiffly to me. "Of course. I will not trouble you any further, Detective Maza," he said in that crisp tone he used when he was being professional. Then he turned to leave. As he stood, he paused and fixed me with one of his coldest looks. "But before I go, I hope you will understand when I tell you that I have been sabotaging Mr. Xanatos' work against your Gargoyle friends. I've been ensuring that none of his plots turn lethal." Before I could recover from my shock at this, he continued. "And I did it because it was the right thing to do."
His words were like a slap to the face, but I tried to hide that fact. He couldn't be telling me the truth. He'd lied before, after all. But…if he wasn't lying…I looked up to see that he was still leaving.
No! I thought wildly. I couldn't just let him walk away like this! I didn't know what I intended to accomplish by asking that he stay, but my mouth was forming the words before I could stop to think this through in any way.
"Owen…wait…" One of these days, my big mouth was going to get me in trouble. Not today, though, it seemed, as Owen did stop at the door, his hand on the doorknob, clearly ready to turn it at a moment's notice. "Please, stay," I whispered, once more before I knew what I was saying.
I watched him with baited breath as he kept his hand on the doorknob for a few moments. Finally, he released it and turned back to me, his expression seemingly calm, but I saw the pain in his eyes. Seeing that was almost like a physical blow to me, and for a minute it felt as though there was a huge weight on my chest preventing me from breathing properly. When I finally regained my ability to inhale, I closed my eyes tightly, a few tears trailing down my cheeks.
"This is all your fault," I sighed. "If you hadn't…then we wouldn't…"
I'd lost the ability to form a coherent sentence now. Great. This was what this man did to me, the bastard. And he just stood there, as though he hadn't broken my heart. When I couldn't find the words to finish what I had been trying to say, I shook my head helplessly and just looked at him, defying him to defend himself now.
"Elisa," he whispered, and the way he said my name was filled with almost as much pain as I was feeling. "I never meant to hurt you…"
"Well, you did," I snapped. "Do you know what that did to me?"
"No…I don't know," he admitted frankly. "But I do know what it did to me to lose you." He sat down again beside me and took my right hand—the one not connected to the IV—in both of his. "And I will never do that again. To either of us…Elisa…" He paused for a moment, and I swear I could see him struggling with himself to say the next words. "I love you, Elisa."
I felt as though someone had dumped me out of my hospital bed and onto the floor. Owen Burnett had just told me that he loved me. When had that happened? When had he started…loving me? No…I must be dreaming. He couldn't have said what I thought he'd said to me. I moved my left hand to pinch my side and was greeted by twin twinges of pain from my side and the back of my hand where the needle was shoved under my skin. This…wasn't a dream…
Then another realization hit me with all the force of a freight train. I hadn't just fallen for Owen Burnett; I loved him too. That was why I hadn't been able to get over him in the last five months. I couldn't get over him. My heart wouldn't let me do that to myself, or to him.
Staring at Owen for a moment, I made a few very undignified choking sounds before I managed to regain control of my vocal chords again for long enough to answer him.
"I…Owen…" At least I'd thought I'd regained control. I cleared my throat and tried again. "Owen…do you mean that?"
God, I couldn't even get that right. Owen looked at me intensely, his eyes seeming to try and burn a hole through my chest and straight into my soul as he tightened his fingers around my right hand.
"I do," he said with all the conviction of a man determined to never lose something again. "I mean it, Elisa."
Once more I did my best to rally up the courage to respond. He deserved a response after that beautiful declaration, after all.
"I love you too…"