Chapter Four - More questions
The door to Mac's room suddenly opened and he caught himself dozing again. It half amazed him that he actually could since a nurse came around regularly checking up on him, telling him to keep awake and to adjust his pain medication.
"Mac?" A soft voice carried over the constant beeping of the monitors and equipment surrounding him.
Groggily he opened his eyes and found himself looking into the beautiful brown eyes of Aubrey Hunter. She smiled at him, "I thought detectives were light sleepers, you shouldn't sleep by the way," she said softly.
"I wasn't sleeping," he said hoarsely as he reached up with his good hand and started to massage his temples.
"I called your name three times," she returned, and then her face broke into a bright smile as she reached out to squeeze his shoulder. "Really Mac, you shouldn't have gone through so much trouble. If you wanted to visit me at work, you could have just walked through the entrance door," she teased lightly, trying to keep her own emotions in place.
Mac made a face, "Believe me; I had no intention of ending up here." A mischievous look crept over his features, "At least now I have a chance to study your bedside manner."
She crinkled her nose and narrowed her eyes, her lips curving upwards. "Detective Taylor," she admonished, feeling like a teenager again.
"You know I…" he trailed off and gasped for breath as the attempted shift in bed joggled the sore limbs and broken bones in his body.
Aubrey instantly switched into doctor mode, "Mac, how's your pain? Do you need something?" She said, her voice filled with concern.
He shook his head slightly, grimacing. "I'm good," he reassured.
She fixed him with a stare, not believing him for a minute. "You should take it easy. I've read your medical file and I have to tell you, you don't know how lucky you are," she raised her voice slightly.
Mac frowned at her.
"A fall like that could have easily broken your neck, creating massive internal bleedings or cracked your skull open," she explained.
"Well, you certainly have a flare for the drama," he replied.
She broke eye contact with him and looked away, "I'm sorry, I'm just trying to come to terms with the fact that, when we ate at the little Italian restaurant two days ago…good food by the way…could have been the last time I saw you alive," she said.
Mac smiled, "Obviously it wasn't. I have a hard head," he replied, trying to cheer her up.
Aubrey nodded, "And apparently a high tolerance for pain," she returned, clearly disliking the fact that he was in pain but didn't feel the need to tell her.
Mac threw her a look, "I don't see anything wrong with those things, and they served me well in the marines."
She grimaced, "Bet it did…and you know what…something tells me you're not going to be a good patient."
"To tell you the truth I don't like hospitals and the sooner I can get out of here the better," the former marine said simply.
"Well, you'll have to stay a few days at least. I know how bruised and broken you are and even if you don't like it, you can't turn up for work in quite a while." Seeing the smile tugging at his lips, she glared at him, "I mean it, Mac."
He rolled his eyes, "Aubrey, come on, I have things to do, a lab to run. I can't just lie around here and do nothing," he reasoned, and he hoped it would make as much sense to her as it did to him.
She made a face, crossing her arms over her chest. "Okay, why don't you get up and I'll help you with the release papers?" She challenged.
Mac had a triumphant smile on his face, but it soon changed to pure anguish as he turned onto his uninjured left side and began to elevate his upper body from the bed. The movement sent a spike of pain through his right leg and hip, the turning of his torso caused his ribs to catch fire and his vision to blur. He stopped short, 'Maybe I've underestimated the seriousness of my own condition', he thought bitterly. Trying to keep his breathing even and to keep the pain at bay he suddenly felt small hands gently guiding him back to a horizontal position. Looking up he saw the concerned face of Aubrey Hunter.
"Mac, I am so sorry, but you needed to see for yourself," she said apologetically.
He nodded slowly, eyes closed, willing the pain to go away, "Point taken," he said as the little action had left him exhausted.
Stella knelt beside the body of a well clad man lying face down in the middle of the street. It was still early in the morning and fairly dark, as she carefully lifted one of his arms and let it come to rest next to his body. It was probably broken from the awkward angle it had been in and she couldn't do anything other than grimace as a crackle could be heard from the twisted limb. Looking up at the sound of a car pulling up beside her she saw Hawkes and Lindsay making their way toward her.
"What have we got?" The former doctor asked, pulling on his gloves.
Stella rose from where she was sitting and took the camera as Lindsay handed it over. "Look for yourself," she said to Hawkes, nodding at the corpse.
Sheldon whistled as he bent over the body. "The guy took a real beating to the head," he stared at a part of the brain that was currently decorating the street. "Seems to be leaking grey matter," he added.
Lindsay glanced over at the victim at Hawkes' words but for the moment she was more interested in the surrounding area. It was a neighborhood containing mostly office buildings, tall buildings with glass facades. Not anything criminal about it. "Do we know what happened? Or who called it in? She asked.
"As of right now, we are clueless," Stella said as she took a series of shots on the DB. "All I know is that an anonymous tip was called in an hour ago, claiming there was a dead guy lying on the street." Stella put the camera down and knelt next to where Sheldon sat, checking the John Doe for injuries. "Turn him over?" She wondered, looking at Hawkes.
"Yeah," he looked at her as he placed one hand on the shoulder and one on the head. "On three…," he said and saw her nodding back in understanding.
"One, two, and three," he finished.
They both frowned at the sight as they had turned the victim around so that he was lying on his back. "Okay, either he had a washing accident or he bought the wrong size of a tuxedo," Sheldon offered.
Stella made a chuckle, "You're mean Hawkes, and it isn't that obvious," she said.
Lindsay turned around at her colleagues' words. Her features tensed immediately as she saw the victim's face. "I have seen this man before," she kneeled next to where Stella sat. "This is the guy that followed our every step yesterday," Lindsay said confused.
Seeing that her friends didn't really follow, she explained, "I was going to bring it up on the meeting later this morning. Last night when Adam and I processed the crime scene, there was a man discreetly following our every move, and it felt like he was looking over our shoulders."
"Lindsay, are you sure this is the guy?" Hawkes asked.
She nodded, "Positive. I just wish I had gotten hold of him yesterday," she said, her features set in stone.
"The police took a lot of witness statements. Maybe he spoke to one of the officers?" Sheldon reasoned.
"No Hawkes, he simply got away, we have nothing on him. Whoever he was or what he was doing there," Lindsay looked from Hawkes to Stella, "or why he was checking up on us, that remains a mystery," Lindsay sighed.
Stella folded her arms over her chest, looking down at the dead body, "Maybe he knew our female victim?" She offered.
"If he did, he wasn't showing any concern," Lindsay said bitterly, recalling the man staring at them from a safe distance.
The coroner car arrived to take the body to the ME's office. "Are you people done?" The driver asked getting out of the vehicle.
Sheldon nodded at him. "He is all yours, Charlie, take it easy with him would you?" He said.
Charlie chuckled, "Don't worry doc, he won't complain about the ride."
A faint smile played on Hawkes lips at the morbidity of the joke, "Tell Sid I'll be down as soon as I get back." He turned back to Stella and Lindsay with a curious look on his face, "Maybe he knew something about what happened last night."
Stella set her jaw, "If he did, that means someone else was involved in the killing of Anna James yesterday evening, someone other than her so called boyfriend that Flack is watching over, back at the precinct."
Lindsay glanced at her, a look of concern spreading over her face. "Have you heard anything about Mac this morning?" She asked carefully, knowing it was tough on Stella; it was tough on all of them.
Detective Bonasera chuckled, "Well you know Mac. If you go and ask him how he feels, he'll tell you he is fine. And he is probably trying to discharge himself as we speak," she said lightly.
Hawkes just shook his head, "Not even Mac can walk away from the hospital in his current condition. He is extremely lucky he didn't end up breaking his neck or bleed to death from internal injuries," he said somberly.
Stella swallowed and her mouth suddenly turned dry, she felt a gentle squeeze around her shoulder. Turning a little she found Lindsay's warm brown eyes looking directly at her. And Stella knew that Lindsay understood how much she cared for Mac. She knew how long and deep Stella's friendship with him was.
Sid looked up from the exam table as Danny came through the door, clad in the standard blue coat. "How nice of you to dress up for me, you really shouldn't have Danny," the ME joked.
A slight smile played on the CSI's lips as he neared the body of the newest victim, "I see you have your hands full."
Sid glared at him, taking his gloved hand out of the victim's stomach. Choosing not to comment, he took off his gloves and placed them in the trash bin. He then gestured for Danny to follow him to the back of the room where the female victim lay. "There was something that bothered me with this woman when she was first brought in," Sid said thoughtfully.
Messer frowned, looking down at the long haired blond woman. She was no longer covered in blood and the scar from the autopsy covered most of her torso. For a person who had been violently stabbed to death she looked almost peaceful. He wondered what she had done to deserve this.
"Danny? Are you listening to me?" Sid's worried voice broke through his reverie.
He looked at the ME oblivious to what had been said, "I am sorry Sid," Danny apologized.
The ME scrutinized him for a moment before continuing his explanation, "As I was saying, her time would have run out anyway."
Danny scrunched his face, "Okay now you lost me, come again?" he said, not following.
Sid turned to the computer screen and pointed at several pictures. "Look at this, what do you see?" He asked.
"A bloody mess?" Danny offered.
"It's a ruptured aorta, and before you say it, I know what you think. That the knife would have easily sliced it, and it did. But this woman…" he called up another photo and an x-ray, "…was suffering from an aortic aneurysm."
"What are you saying, Sid, that it was a mercy killing from her boyfriend, an insurance fraud?" Messer questioned.
"The man arrested for the murder was her boyfriend right?" Sid asked.
Danny nodded, failing to see the relevance, "Yeah, husband to be."
"Why kill a woman that is already dying and more importantly why kill a woman you love?" Sid mused.
"I'll get back to you when I have an answer to that Sid," Danny said as he turned toward the exit and began to undo the buttons on the coat. He sighed as he tossed it on the bench outside the exam room.
Danny raked a hand through his hair, thinking back to the previous night. Satisfied that they had grabbed the right guy on the spot, all of them had gone to see Mac, filling in the blanks for him and then they had gotten home to rest, relieved that their boss and friend was going to be all right and that the guy had confessed. It was the first time in months they had had such a simple case on their hands, but now Danny was not so sure anymore. New evidence and material complicated things. He was positive the death of the man Stella, Lindsay and Hawkes had found was connected somehow to the murder at the theatre. The only problem with that, was that the man in custody for killing his girlfriend, and almost killing Mac, a man called Robert Adams Green, was still locked up at the precinct. And that meant that there was another person involved in all this.
He automatically reached for his pocket as his phone buzzed and glanced at the displayed number, "Hey Adam what's up?" he asked.
"There is something you better come and see," the lab tech said in a hurry.
A/N: Thank you so much for taking time to beta for me mav32, you are great!
Also I want to thank the readers and reviewers and the lovely people who put the story on alert, I love you guys.