A/N: This is an example of how two stories can start off so vastly different and end up nearly at the same place without either author knowing what the other was doing.
If you've read Hamtor's wonderful "Forever and a Day", you will know that she posted her final chapter before I posted this epilogue. I read her final chapter and was amazed at the similarity of dialogue in certain spots. I PM'd her and we shared a nice laugh. I decided not to change or alter the ending of mine. I'd rather this stand as an example of how writing for particular fandoms and genres (especially when you whack one of the main characters) can have its similarities. J
SOSF SOSF SOSF SOSF SOSF
Sixteen Days Later
As the elevator opened to the fifth floor of St John's Hospital, Mike and Lenny reflected on the eighteen days since the shooting. The Livingston brothers had been convicted and sentenced to twenty five years to life for the death of Danny Spagnozzi. Mrs. Livingston and Chuck Taylor had been charged with a list of crimes and would soon be making their way through the judicial process. Taylor had been returned to Folsom pending trial. Charlie, too, was back in prison, although from what his brother Vic had relayed, considering the events of the last few weeks and a good word from Mike, the parole board was reconsidering.
"You told me that you couldn't understand how Greg Harmon knew your name at the shooting. Did you ever figure that out?" Lenny asked.
"Actually, I did. Mrs. Livingston and her husband go back to the old neighborhood. Years ago, she was Mary Kolkovic. She's about seventy now, but in her time, she was quite a fetching woman."
"So you remember her?"
"Mom returned to Gary, Indiana one summer during the Depression. Her father was ill and her mother needed the help, so she left me and my brother, Alex, with dad. Our family went to church with Mary's family. Mary was in her teens then, but she came over and helped out. She kept house and also babysat."
"Wait a minute, that woman was your baby sitter as a kid?" Lenny was surprised at this turn of events.
"Yeah, but I wouldn't have recognized her. She was married before she met Livingston, but the first husband died. I lost track of her after that. At any rate, she remembered me. She knew that Spags and Vic had gone to me to arrest her sons. Oddly enough, she didn't hold that against me. She told Harmon to just go after Spags, but no one else, especially me."
"It's good to have friends, I guess." Lenny mused as they rounded the corner to the final hallway.
They walked in silence. Their attention turned to Steve's pending release from the hospital. While the young man had made solid progress in his recovery, it was by no means easy.
Truth be told, it had been an absolute crap shoot. On any given visit, Steve could be in extreme pain, fatigued, or frustrated. Sometimes he'd be resting peacefully. Sometimes the pain medications left him a little dopey. Other times, he'd be watching television and eager to talk. The head injury contributed greatly to their worry as the headaches had been severe and the memory loss apparently included a span of time both before and after the shooting.
But, today was the day: he was allowed to go home. Mike and Lenny entered Steve's room to find him dressed in the clothes Mike brought the night before. His arm was in a sling from the shoulder wound. Lenny noted a degree of gauntness as the young man was sitting in the visitor's chair in the corner of the room. But there was nothing that could deter Steve's enthusiasm for going home.
"I spoke to his doctor this morning and got the take-home instructions," Lenny informed Mike. "A nurse should be by when he's ready to leave and we'll go through them again. I want to make sure that we're clear on what he needs in the coming weeks."
"That's good of you, Lenny. I want to make sure we have all the prescriptions in order, too."
Mom and Dad, Steve thought humorously to himself.
"What did the doctor say?" Mike asked.
"He needs therapy on his shoulder. He'll have exercises he can do at home. They'll go through that, too."
But which one is Mom?, Steve pondered.
"What about the side wound?" Mike asked.
"Considering how bad that was for him, he's recovering quite nicely there. He'll need to go back for a check up a couple of times, but at this point the doctor was very happy with how that was healing."
"Good, but the head injury - what about the memory loss and headaches? That's been the most worrisome." Mike's brow furrowed with concern.
Definitely Mom, Steve mused.
"Well, that's probably the one that we'll need to keep a good eye on. The headaches should be less frequent and less severe. I understand he is going back to his apartment. Mike, isn't there someone he can stay with?"
"You know, I am right here…" Steve stated wearily. Lenny turned, nodded his way and then continued speaking with Mike.
"Don't even get me started about that," Mike hissed.
Steve rolled his eyes and sighed. "I would prefer to just go home and rest in my own bed. I'll recover much quicker that way." He could feel Mike glaring at him, but kept his response targeted to Lenny. The partners had this same discussion the day before, with Mike insisting that Steve stay with him for a few days after his release. Steve politely but adamantly declined.
"What about the memory loss?" Mike changed the subject since he had already lost that battle.
"From what the neurologist can tell, he's lost a solid week. A few days before the shooting and a few days after. It may come back or it may not. I wouldn't worry too much about that. It's not uncommon considering the injury he had, and he's just going to have to accept that."
After a brief knock on the door, and the nurse entered the room with the discharge papers. Thank goodness, Steve welcomed an objective addition to the mix.
The nurse reviewed the therapy and discharge instructions and handed Mike additional prescriptions.
"I think that's everything," she stated, "I'll come back with a wheel chair in a few minutes."
"And I'll go get the car," Lenny added.
Mike and Steve were left alone.
"Mike," Steve said quietly. "Thanks for everything."
The annoyance that Mike felt toward his partner earlier disappeared. "What do you mean? I haven't done anything."
"You were here…quite a bit. I appreciate it. I know it wasn't easy, especially as you were trying to figure out who shot us."
"You had a lot of people pulling for you. I'll admit there were times when I was scared to death," he said as he looked at the floor. "Hey, that reminds me. I have something for you. It's from the guys in the squad." Mike reached into his pocket and pulled out a small bag.
"What is it?" Steve took the bag with his free hand and shook the contents until a silver bracelet fell onto his lap. "A bracelet? Guys don't normally buy guys jewelry, Mike."
"It's not just a bracelet, Hotshot. It's a medic alert bracelet for your intolerance to penicillin."
"Oh, yeah, they told me about that. I think it's on my "permanent" record or something."
"They told you? You don't remember what happened?"
Steve shook his head as he read the bracelet.
"You nearly died. I am not going to sugarcoat that. You need to understand that you have zero tolerance for anything that ends in 'cillin'."
"Yeah, that's what they said. You know, when I was a teenager, I got sick one time. It was mono," he said as he raised his eyebrows up and down.
"Figures." Mike said succinctly.
"Anyway, they gave me a shot of something and I got sick. I got hives or something. I just remember itching. But I don't remember getting like what I did this time." Steve tried to secure the bracelet around his wrist. With one arm in a sling, it was a formidable challenge.
"Let me tell you something, I don't ever, EVER, want to go through that again. You are going to wear that ID bracelet for the rest of your life. Do you understand? I am not always going to be two steps behind you telling people that you are prone to anaphylactic shock, damn it. Now give me your wrist."
"But then you'll have three," Steve deadpanned as he allowed Mike to put the alert tag around his wrist.
"Would you care to take this seriously? I can't believe you."
"Okay, okay, Mike. I get it. Believe me, I know it was close and I'll take it seriously. I just want to get back to normal life again."
"Well, normal life is going to include you remembering that you have a problem with…"
A knock on the door interrupted Mike's admonition.
"Hello?" the young woman peeked in tentatively. She saw Steve and smiled. "There you are. It looks like they are about to release you - so I won't keep you. I just found out that you in the hospital. I wanted to come by and see how you were."
Steve strained to recognize the woman. "I know you," he thought for a moment. "You're a friend of Rebecca's." He looked at Mike, "Rebecca is my neighbor."
"Yes, I'm Rachel. We met at the dinner party Rebecca had at her apartment. I hadn't seen her in a couple of weeks and then she told me that you had been hurt."
"Well, it's nice of you to come over." Steve continued to look at her very puzzled. There was something that wasn't adding up and then it struck him. "Oh, wait. I asked you out, didn't I? Oh, I'm sorry! I missed our date."
"You didn't miss it. We went out the night before you were shot."
"Oh," Steve was embarrassed. "I'm sorry. I'm still a little bit loopy from the events of that week."
"It's okay. Rebecca told me about it. No one knew that it had happened for days. Finally, I think one of your coworkers came around and let the neighbors know where you were."
"That's good," Steve thought for a moment. "Did we have a good time?"
"On our date, did we have a good time?"
She smiled slyly, "Well, I can tell you that I did. I hope you did as well."
"Would you give me the opportunity to see for myself?" Steve winked and smiled.
"Oh, brother," Mike mumbled.
"Sure, when you are back on your feet, we can go again. Can I call you in the meantime to see if you need anything?"
"That'd be terrific."
Mike and Steve watched her leave as the nurse entered the room with the wheelchair. "Are you ready to go home, Steve?" the nurse asked with a smile.
"You bet, Sherri." Steve was slow to get up, but made it over to the wheelchair with the help of Mike and the nurse.
"A couple of the girls and I have worked out a schedule to where we can come by on our off hours and help you. All of us girls are pretty good cooks, too. We'll be happy to make you anything you want."
"You've got to be kidding me," Mike mumbled again.
"I appreciate that." Steve looked over to Mike and flashed a devilish grin. "The hospital food is never good. But I don't want you ladies to go out of your way."
"Oh, no! It will be our pleasure."
Mike shook his head and began pushing the wheelchair to the elevator. He knew full well why Steve wanted to go home directly. He'd have a parade of young women at his beck and call.
He smiled to himself. "Well, at least things will be getting back to normal."