A MOMENT IN TIME
County General Hospital- 8:00 p.m.
Peter Caine sat next to the hospital bed and buried his face in his hands. He was berating himself for not moving fast enough. If he had just turned around sooner, he thought, then none of them would be here. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up into the face of his best friend, the Detective known as Kermit Griffin. The older man's hand squeezed his partner's shoulder in sympathy.
"It's not your fault, Peter. You did the best you could. If you hadn't moved when you did, you'd be in this condition too." Peter's eyes sparkled with tears as he looked back at the bed and all of the tubes and machines hooked up to Sgt Broderick. Peter was still trying to figure out exactly what had happened and how everything had gone so horribly wrong on that beautiful spring day.
Two Days Ago, 101st Precinct 10:00 a.m.
It was the usual controlled chaos that day. Kermit was in his inner sanctum, also known as his office, typing away furiously, attempting to crack yet another supposedly 'unbreakable' code. He was never happier than when he was doing that. The other detectives were either buried under a mound of paperwork or fielding frantic calls from frightened citizens.
The call had come in half an hour later. A hostage situation at City Hall. Five armed men had burst into the city council chamber and had taken the entire council hostage, along with the people gathered there to speak. Simms came flying out of her office, putting her gun into its holster as she moved.
"Listen up," She yelled, "I need every officer, NOW! Griffin, off of that box and bring your Eagle. The rest of you, let's get moving. I need every officer able to fire a weapon. We don't have much time. They're threatening to start shooting in one hour if their demands are not met."
Peter Caine's heart froze in his throat and Kermit stopped when he saw that his partner hadn't moved.
"Peter, you ok?" He asked. Peter looked up at him, the color draining from his face. Now Kermit was frightened, he had never seen that look of naked fear on Peter's face before.
"Peter?" The younger man's mouth finally opened and he rose to his feet.
"Pop, he's there, Kermit. He's supposed to address the council about the new development. Oh, god, Kermit, if he gets hurt..." Kermit looked at his friend and smiled that grim smile.
"Won't happen, kid. Won't let it happen, now will we?" Peter looked at him and smiled a faint, answering smile, grateful for his friend's support.
"Right, we won't let it happen." As they left the precinct, Peter had sent his thoughts winging to his beloved father.
"We're coming, pop, we're coming. Please, don't get hurt." As he climbed into the green Corvair next to his friend, he could hear his father's thoughts come back to him.
"I will be careful my son, but you must hurry. These men are angry and they are cruel. I love you."
Peter smiled and sent back,
"And I you, father. we're on our way."
Two Hours later-12:30 p.m. City Hall
They had been waiting for an hour and a half and one hostage had already been killed, his body dumped from the roof. Peter had breathed a sigh of relief upon learning that it wasn't his father but was still saddened that anyone had died. The officers needed to do something but Lasher, Captain of the SWAT team didn't want to antagonize them.
Peter looked at his co-horts from the precinct and saw Kermit grin. They knew each other so well by now. That smile could only mean one thing, The frog had a plan.
"Ok, Kermit, any way into that building that our gunmen do not know about?" Kermit grinned and looked at his partner and then at the other cops huddled close to hear Kermit's plan.
"Oh yeah, there is. Come on, I've had enough of waiting around and letting more people die." His sentiments were echoed by the others and soon, they were inside the building. Kermit's mercenary training, Peter's shaolin skills and the other cops unique abilities had allowed them to take out three of the five in short order, leaving the two leaders in the main hall, where Peter's father was. After ascertaining exactly where those two were, Broderick went with Peter while T. J. and Roger went with Kermit. Mary Margaret, Jody, Blake and the Captain took the main entrance. At their appearance, the shooting had started. One gunman was hit immediately by a well placed bullet from, of all people, Blake's gun, taking out the gunman's right shoulder.
The second gunman turned out to be more difficult to take down. He grabbed the Mayor to use as a shield but didn't get far. He came up against the formidable obstacle of Peter, Sgt. Broderick and Chief Strenlich, who had come from the foyer, guns leveled.
Without warning, the man shoved the mayor into Peter and leveled his weapon at the now helpless cop. Caine ran toward his son in desperation but was too far away to use his powers to aid his child, but at that moment, as the others watched in horror, Broderick leaped in front of the cop who had ridden with him as a rookie and took the bullet himself in the chest.
As the wounded Sgt. collapsed to the floor, Peter leveled his Baretta and fired one time, striking the gunman right between the eyes. He then dropped his gun and gathered his mentor in his arms. Kwai Chang Caine got there and went to work stauncing the bleeding. Kermit took in the situation and yelled into his police radio.
"We need paramedics, we've got an officer down. Captain, it's Broderick." Peter could hear the audible gasp from his captain. At the moment, he only had eyes for his father as he pleaded with him.
"Please, dad, don't let him die, please." Caine's calm grey eyes, reflecting the pain his son felt, looked into the hazel eyes of his child. He reached out to briefly caress his son's tear streaked face.
"I will not let him go, my son, I promise you. Hold on to him, do not let him go. Your strength and love can keep him here." He went back to work until the paramedics arrived. Kermit finally pulled Peter away as Broderick was loaded into the ambulance. As the sirens faded off into the distance, Peter turned to his partner and his father.
"Why, why did he do that. I was too damned slow to react!"
He slammed his fist into the wall in frustration. Caine was at his side immediately, holding his son, letting the tears soak his shirt, as he murmmured in his ear.
"No my son, you were not slow. Even I cannot move in the blink of an eye or I would have taken the bullet myself. He knew you could not move without harming the Mayor so, like the friend he is, he stepped in front of you." Kermit listened, knowing that Caine was right, and knowing that if he could have, he would have taken it himself, but knowing that right now, Peter wasn't completely listening, so wrapped up in his grief and guilt.
Soon, they were on their way to the hospital to meet with Dr. Sabourn and hear her report.
Three Hours Later-3:30 p.m.
Dr. Sabourn walked slowly into the large waiting room, filled with police officers and one very concerned shaolin priest. Her gaze swept over them, then rested on Peter, his father on one side of him and Kermit on the other. She then looked at Captain Simms.
"He's in recovery. He's going to be off duty for a while. The bullet penetrated the liver and ricocheted through a kidney. He bled into the abdominal cavity but we were able to stop it, although doing so cost him his spleen. I think he's going to make it but the next 48 hours are critical.. He's going to ICU and I am not allowing any visitors until this crisis has passed. I want all of you to go home and get some rest, especially you, Detective Caine." She fixed a glare on Peter and he smiled and nodded.
"All right, Dr. I'll go." Kermit had driven Peter home, his father following. Soon, Peter had passed out and Father and friend put the weary young man to bed. Kermit looked at Caine.
"I'll stay till he wakes, cause he'll want to go back to the hospital. Caine, why does he blame himself? There was nothing he could have done, even I know that." He sounded puzzled. Caine smiled faintly.
"Peter cares for all of his friends and one of his deepest fears has always been that a friend will die and he will be helpless to prevent it. He remembers when Kira was killed by the Shadow Assassin, three years ago, when Mary Margaret was shot while visiting her parents, and last year, when you took a bullet meant for him. He saw that happen again today and it frightens him. He cares so much, sometimes I feel he cares too much but, Peter is Peter, and I love him." Kermit was thinking about what Caine has said back at City Hall and had to ask.
"Caine, back at the hall, what you said, would you really have taken that bullet for Peter?" The look in Caine's eyes answered that question and Kermit just nodded.
After Caine left the apartment, Kermit sat next to Peter's bed and watched his friends face, remembering what he had told Peter's foster father, Paul Blaisdell, when Paul left six years before.
"I'll take care of Peter for you, don't worry. I'll make sure he's safe."
Now, as he sat next to the bed, he whispered to the air.
"I'll keep that promise Paul."
Two Days Later-8:30 p.m.
Peter still sat with his head in his hands as Sgt. Broderick continued to breathe with the aid of a respirator. Kermit knew that this was bringing back memories for Peter when he had been the one on the breathing machine when that maniac had thrown Peter off of that staircase five years before. Kermit hadn't been in town then, he had been off on a mission for Paul, but he had heard about it later. Now, he watched Peter's eyes as those memories surfaced.
Then, Caine was in the room, his hand on his son's shoulder. They were sharing the memories of that night, when Caine almost lost his child. Peter looked up at his father.
"Will he come back or is he lost to us?" Caine looked at Broderick and then back at his son. He knew that if Broderick died, Peter would blame himself for the rest of his life, but if he lied to his son, to spare his feelings, then the chasm between them would never be mended. He told his son the truth.
"I do not know, Peter. I do not know." Peter nodded in understanding. Kermit stood in the corner of the room, unwilling to leave Peter alone. Caine acknowledged his presence with a nod and a greatful smile as he left the room. Peter was unaware of his presence. He looked at the still figure on the bed. His voice was low, but Kermit heard every word.
"Man, Broderick, why did you have to try and be the hero? Next time, just yell, 'Move' like you used to do when I rode with you? Please, Robert, please don't die on me, I couldn't live with myself if you did. Come back, my friend, please wake up. I can't lose you, too!" His head dropped back into his hands, his shoulders shaking.
Then, Kermit caught a glimpse of movement on the bed as one hand slowly reached out and laid itself on Peter's outstretched hand. Peter's head shot up and the joy lighting his face was indescribable. Broderick smiled and slowly gave Peter a thumbs up. Kermit came over and looked down at the Sgt.
"Knew you wouldn't conk out, you old war horse. Peter, go tell the others he's going to be fine." Peter hugged Kermit and then ran out of the room, relieved that someone else he cared about was not going to die because of him.