Oh, and I own nothing from Alcatraz and make no money. No infringement is intended.

Coming Back

By AnitaB

Chapter 4: Hot and Cold

Sometime after dinner, Rebecca finally gave into the drugs and the weakness and relaxed enough to fall asleep. Still holding his hand of course. It wasn't like he minded. He'd be happy to hold her hand as much as she'd let him. Diego smiled a little sadly. He shouldn't let himself get addicted to her warmth. His Rebecca was one of the most staunchly independent people he'd ever met. As she recovered, he probably wouldn't be allowed to stay as close to her as he wanted. She wouldn't always want to hold his hand, wouldn't want or accept his help in that physical a way. He shouldn't let himself learn to expect the feel of her in his arms or the touch of her lips to his skin. But it might already be too late. He was thoroughly addicted to this amazing woman, his beautiful partner.

Diego Soto should pull back from her now, not just because there was no way in hell he'd be allowed to stay so close for long. But because he needed to deal with the withdrawal from her heat while she was still off-balance enough to not notice him doing it. His partner wasn't anything less than brilliant. Rebecca would figure him out in five minutes flat if he hadn't gotten himself back to normal before she got back to full strength. The look that would be on her face when she did… The way she would push him away… the mixture of rejection and pity he would see in her eyes…

The only thing that scared him more than ruining what he already had with Rebecca if she figured out he wanted more… well that had almost happened when she was in surgery. She'd survived. Now he had to figure out how to do the same.

Diego had to relearn how to keep that distance between his heart and his head. It was something he needed to start working on.

Tomorrow.

Tonight he was going to cuddle that warmth closer. He was going to let himself remember the brief but amazing heat of her lips against his cheek. He was going to relive the grip of her arms around him and the trust she gave him by letting him put his arms around her. Tonight he was going to take advantage of the dark and the quiet to let himself mourn and hope for something he knew he could never really have. He lifted Rebecca's hand and buried his lips against the pulse in her wrist. So strong and so tiny. So precious and so out of reach. Diego closed his eyes and nuzzled his cheek into her palm, trying to memorize the feel of her skin against his.

Because tomorrow he had to learn to let her go again. But not until tomorrow.

She shifted in her sleep, moving just a little closer to his side of the bed. Her fingers moved, glancing over his lips. The second pass of her fingers over his lower lip almost felt deliberate. But Diego's eyes were locked on her face and it was more than clear that his Rebecca was still fast asleep. He cradled her hand closer and kissed each of her fingertips before burying his lips into the middle of her palm. /Rebecca…\\

"Hmm, Doc." Her hand moved in his grip, cupping against his face as her lips curved under his eyes. Rebecca was smiling and trying to get closer to him, whispering his name… all fast asleep. He touched his free hand to her leg when she tried to move closer. If her stitches pulled and she woke with a gasp of pain, he had no idea how to explain what he was doing with her hand. The plan was to brace her, keep her still until she settled deeper into sleep. It wasn't for her free hand to cover his on her leg. It wasn't for her to twine their fingers together and cuddle that hand against her heart with a soft little sigh. "Closer, Doc. Warm."

His heart stopped in his chest but his body was already responding to her grip and her sleepy words. Diego was leaning closer, eyes helplessly locked to her face. Praying she wouldn't wake up, he let himself steal a few more moments of her heat, of the belief that maybe, just maybe she felt like this when she wasn't asleep, wasn't injured and weak. "Rebecca," Diego leaned down and pressed a small but desperate kiss to her cheek.

He had to pull back. He had to pull back now. He couldn't wait until morning, or it wouldn't be pain from her stitches waking her. It would be the desperate man at her bedside pulling her into his arms and begging her to want him back.

It was so hard to drag himself away from her skin, to pull his hands from hers and put more than a foot of cold air between himself and the edge of her bed. But it had to be done. And it had to be done right the hell now.

Diego ignored the little shiver and sound of protest she made when the last inch of his skin left hers, pausing only long enough to tuck the blankets higher around her shoulders. Then he dragged his eyes from her face and made his feet take him to the window to stare out at San Francisco at night. He had to do better than this. Diego couldn't let his emotions make him fail his partner. He had to be strong for her.

But he needed something. If he was going to be here for her and not let her know how he really felt, he needed something of her to hold close. Diego drew in a shaking breath and moved to the messenger bag sitting against the wall. It wasn't like he hadn't drawn her before, but this wasn't for his comic about their cases. This one would be for him, a little part of his Rebecca that only he would see. This one would be the Rebecca that cuddled him closer in her dreams and whispered her name for him in her sleep. This sketch would be his Rebecca, the one he could hope cared about him the same way he cared about her.

And he had to finish the sketch before she woke up so he could be back at her side like he promised.

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The pain was less. The stitches somehow felt more solid and less 'string holding in guts' than yesterday. But this morning she was both warmer and colder than before. She knew she was in the hospital. And while she was wrapped tightly in the blankets, her fingers were freezing. Something was missing and his name was Doc. /Where's my Doc?\\

Rebecca kept her eyes closed and let cold fingers search towards the edge of the bed. Maybe he'd fallen asleep. Maybe Hauser needed him for a consult. But he'd promised he wasn't going anywhere and Doc had never broken a promise to her. He should be right here, should be keeping her warm with a strong grip and a friendly distraction. /Doc?\\

Chilled fingertips flinched at the contact with the cold railing of her bed. If Doc were still here there'd be lingering warmth on the bedding, in the metal of the frame. Rebecca drew in a breath and slowly forced her eyes open. If he wasn't here… she'd be fine. Of course she would be. But the world that had been getting slowly steadier since its recent upside down turn by way of the stabbing would feel a little less solid without her partner in arm's length.

And if he was further away than that… Well, it would be a cold day in hell before she let nurse Pincushion touch her as freely as she let Doc. Rebecca let her eyes adjust fully before she started the slow process of turning onto her back. She wanted to see what was important enough to move Doc more than a few feet from her side. /Good,\\ There he was. Doc was still here, just a little further away than she'd like.

He was sitting at the foot of her bed, sketching something very, very intently. Otherwise the mere rustle of her sheets would have brought his full attention to her. Along with his eyes. And maybe his arms around her as he helped her sit up. His hand holding hers, warming every single nerve in her body.

She'd never been jealous of art supplies before. Then Doc frowned at the paper and licked the tip of one finger, smudging at something very carefully. "What are you drawing?"

He flinched, then ducked his head and blushed so red the white of his knuckles made sense in a blood supply kind of way. "Rebecca…" Jealousy and puzzlement were at war inside her. Rebecca wanted to see the picture and hated it at the same time. Doc would be up here holding her hand if it wasn't taking him away from her. "How…how do you feel?" The sketchpad was firmly and suddenly closed and tucked behind him as Doc came to his feet and back to her bedside.

He was almost close enough. Rebecca automatically stretched out a hand for his when he reached the railing. Doc hesitated a moment that felt like a year before sinking into his traditional chair and intertwining their fingers warmly. The moment he'd just looked at her hand… that hurt almost more than the stitches, putting a weird ache between her ribs. "I'm… I'm okay. What were you working on?"

Now Doc wasn't looking at her and his face was hard to read and still flushed. "It's… it's nothing. Are you thirsty? Hungry? Should I get your nurse?"

What was wrong with him? He knew by now that as far as Rebecca cared the entire nursing staff could take the week off. If she had her way, Doc would be the only one to lay a hand on her until she got discharged. And something he called 'nothing' was enough to pull him away and set their balance off this far… "Doc, are you feeling okay? Something's… off."

"I'm fine. We're fine, Rebecca. I…" He stopped, rubbing his free hand over the back of his neck and looking away a moment. "I'm just a little tired… didn't get much sleep last night." That free hand curved over the back of hers, lifting her hand up to press her knuckles to his cheek. "You keep getting better and everything's going to be absolutely fine. Back to normal in no time."

There was something in his face, in the lines of his body at the word normal that just prickled at her nerves. Doc wasn't fine. He was hiding from her, pulling away even as he cradled her hand warm between his own. She didn't want him pulling away. She wanted him closer. Back to normal would mean losing some of this closeness. Two weeks ago, Doc would never have twined their fingers together so naturally. She'd never have curled her arms around his neck or kissed him on the cheek.

Two weeks ago she hadn't known just how much a simple touch of his fingers could make her feel safe, warm. Rebecca opened her mouth, not yet sure what she was going to say but needing to say something. "Doc…"

A sharp rapping sound broke the eye contact when they both looked at the door. "Madsen, permission to enter?"

Hauser stood in the doorway, his usual dower expression on his face. But somehow she knew he was happier to see her than he seemed. "Of course, we'd like visitors. Is Lucy with you?"

"Right here, dear. How are you feeling?" Lucy was much more obviously emotional, smiling as she moved forward to claim the open chair. Dark eyes examined her quickly but thoroughly before skipping sharply to the side to do the same to Doc. Rebecca found herself following the gaze. He hadn't slept at all, had he? And he was deliberately not looking at anyone in the room… like he was hiding something.

Her partner was hiding from her and that was so not okay. "I'm doing better, Lucy."

"Good. You're certainly looking better, if a little tired. Have your doctors approved you for coffee?"

Lucy had something more than caffeine in mind. And frankly, Rebecca was all for a little assistance right now. "Yes, but not as much as I'm used to."

"You cops and your coffee…" Lucy smiled, a bright disarming curve of lips as she looked over her shoulder at Hauser. "Emerson, dear. Would you get all of us some coffee and something to eat, please? Oh, take Dr. Soto with you to help carry the food. You know what Rebecca likes well enough, don't you, Diego?"

He seemed almost shocky for a second. "Yeah, of course I do." Rebecca let go of his hand as he started to stand up. But it almost hurt to think about letting him get too far. "Anything you need first, Rebecca?"

Apparently he was a little reluctant to be out of arm's length too. Well, she'd take what she could get. "Help me sit up a bit?" Doc just nodded and leaned down to curl his arms under her knees and behind her back. She curled her arms around his neck more for the warmth in her skin than any fear of falling or need for balance. There was nothing bad about Doc touching her, ever. "Thanks. See you soon, Doc."

"We'll be right back." Hauser sent a look towards Lucy and gestured Doc out the door in front of him. The look was the strangest combination of warmth and 'I hope you know what you're doing'.

Rebecca sank her teeth into her lip until the sound of footsteps got far enough away. "You see it too, don't you, Lucy? Something's wrong."

"Rebecca, sweetheart, I saw it when that man was holding a vigil in the waiting room." Lucy took her hand with a shaking of her head. "For a man who's desperate for answers, he didn't care at all about the last key. You were so much more important to him."

"He's pulling away, hiding from me this morning." She knew the words were in her throat before her brain had fully processed them. "I can't let him go. I need him."

Lucy's lips curved again. But this smile held warmth and hope bright enough that Rebecca felt the muscles in her back start the slow process of relaxing. "That shouldn't be a problem, dear. That man's crazy about you."

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