Oliver slowly walked up the front steps to his house, unlocked and pushed the front door open as stealthily as he could. All the lights were out, which probably meant all the occupants had long since been tucked up in bed – he checked his watch. 4.35am...and grimaced – he was only eight and a half hours late. As soon as he was through the front door he removed his shoes, so as not to clatter on the wooden floorboards and headed up the stairs – skilfully avoiding any creakages – something that had come from having to do this routine far too many times. He carefully prised open the bedroom door of his youngest daughter, and stood in the doorway silently watching her sleep, before creeping over to her bedside and adjusting her covers so that she was completely tucked in, repositioning 'snuffles' the bear that had become surgically attached to her since he had won it for her at the fair last summer, and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. "Hey sweetheart, daddy's sorry he missed your big show – you'll have to re-enact it for me at dinner tonight."
"That's if you make it to the school to pick her up. You're lucky you took your gun with you – what the hell are you thinking creeping around the house at this time in the morning – you scared the crap out of me!"
"I'm sorry – I just...it's been a rough day, and I wanted to see my girls." He offered his wife a small smile, in the hope that he would realise he meant her too.
"It's a pity you didn't want to see them 8 hours ago."
"That's not fair – I tried to call...I couldn't..."
"She was devastated Ollie – it took me two hours to get her to bed."
"I'm sorry ok – can we...can we not do this here." Oliver attempted to move away from Maddie's bed side, but stopped dead in his tracks when she stirred underneath her covers and held his breath –praying for her to keep sleeping. He stayed statuesque until he was certain there was no way she was waking up, and turned and walked towards Zoe and the hallway, pulling the door quietly closed behind him. He turned towards his wife, and reached for her hand. "I'm sorry ok – I miss you. I miss all of you."
"You don't think this is hard for me too. I can't keep doing this – me and the girls, we can't keep coming second best."
"You're not sec..."
"That's what it feels like. It was different when it was me and you, but I have to think about them. They need to have you around, they need to know you're around – and not just for a family dinner every couple of weeks when your shifts are good to you."
"Zo...please, please I can't do this now. I just wanted to have breakfast with my family." Oliver attempted to portray the sincerity of what he was saying, he wanted to reach out and hold her – make sure she was ok, but knew she wouldn't let him. Instead he opted for brushing his thumb across her hand affectionately.
"What was so important?"
"You're going to have to tell her why you weren't there – how are you going to manage that if you won't even tell me?"
"I'll think of something."
"Don't you think I have a right to know. You turn up unannounced and creep around the house at 4.30 in the morning – and I don't hear from you for the whole 8 and a half hours that I have been waiting for you to get in touch! You're practically a whole day late! I thought we talked about priorities...we talked about how things had to change...".
"You can't keep saying that – after a while it loses its value."
"Will you keep your voice down – it's 4.30 in the morning, you're going to wake the entire house!"
"What so you got caught up in some huge case that couldn't wait...she was so excited about last night, you knew that."
"I was at the hospital." Oliver hissed at his wife, in an attempt to try and get her to listen to him. "Ok...do you not think that I would much rather that the past 24 hours had played out differently – that I would much rather have been watching Maddie's thing...I've spent the past 10 hours at Memorial, I'm tired – exhausted actually, and I just wanted to see my family. I didn't want to freak you out – I didn't want to wake you."
"What – why?" Zoe's eyes grew wide with concern, and Oliver took a shaky breath to steady his nerve. He didn't want to talk about it – talking about it all made it seem real, and right now he didn't want it to feel real. He was quite happy with thinking this was all some surreal nightmare and he would wake up in about 5 minute's time in Sam's spare room with McNally waving some coffee under his nose.
"I'm fine ok...I'm fine, I...they had to take Sammy into surgery, and I couldn't leave until I'd spoken to his doctor – for all the good it did."
"Why – what happened?" Zoe reached out and took hold of her husband's other hand – a nauseous feeling started to take root in her stomach."Ollie..."
Oliver looked up at his wife in confusion and then rolled his eyes at himself – he had been over the events of the past 24 hours so many times in his head that he forgot that of course she would have no idea about what was going on.
"Oliver – what happened? Is he going to be ok?"
"They don't know...they don't know yet. He was out of surgery when I left, but he's still critical – he's in ICU so they wouldn't let me see him. He's not breathing – not for himself; he's on a respirator – that's bad right?" Oliver took a shaky breath, and chanced a look at his wife. "I called Sarah, and I didn't want to leave until she got there."
"She's doing better – not on a respirator at least, and the doctor seemed slightly happier about her prognosis so..."
"What? Oliver...what the hell happened?"
"Oh - You meant how's Andy with Sam being...I guess she doesn't technically know yet, so she's probably doing better than the rest of us...sorry, I just...I don't know..I don't even know anymore where to...I..." Oliver shrugged his shoulders - unsure of what he was trying to say.
Zoe led her husband down the stairs and sat him on the sofa, returning very quickly with a hot sweet tea – forced him to drink it despite his 'yuk' face, and took his hand again. "Start at the beginning – what happened?"
"He's an idiot – he should never have...I tried to talk him out of it, I tried to talk some sense into him, but you know what he gets like sometimes...he shouldn't have been anywhere near that warehouse, and I knew...I just knew as soon as he pulled up – you know how sometimes you just get this feeling, this bad sinking feeling...there was no talking any sense into him...I don't even know how he knew, but...he loves her. I say all this – but he loves her you know, and if it had been you I would've been exactly the same – but it's not exactly the same – she's a cop, we trained her and she knew what she was doing – she knew what she was getting herself into."
"Oliver...honey, you're rambling...just take a breath and start at the beginning."