AN #1: Well, this is it - the conclusion...*sniff, sniff* Thanks to all who have read my story. Special thanks goes to all who had the time to leave me feedback in the form of reviews, PMs or adding by story to their alerts/favorites. My beta has advised me to add a tissue warning for this chapter so here it is...*tissues*
Merci Beau Coup to the wonderful lady who beta read the entire tale.
"Meixel:": This one is for you - thanks for your gentle "nudges" on my muse to get this story on the road to completion. I appreciate it.
To my "Hawaii Fve-O" buddy, "honu59" - mahalo for taking the time to read and review my stories in this fandom.
General Hospital, SF, 1973
For Rosy Wakefield, being released from protective custody paved the way to a new beginning for a new life. The twenty four hours she spent under the watchful eye of Norm Haseejian had left her feeling more confident in herself and determined more than ever to turn her life around and the memories of Officer Rick Stanford became less painful for her to bear. Norm had made her laugh at his bad jokes and treated her with the level of dignity that equalled Rick's. He made her feel safe and even seemed to enjoy the brief companionship they shared. While the prospect of a fresh start in a new city was exactly what she needed, leaving behind someone she could connect with dampened her spirits. In the short space of time she spent with Norm, she thought she had found a friend. Maybe even someone whom she could have thought more of than just a friend. Stop it! Cops don't marry whores! With a shuddering sigh, she broke out of her reverie and walked over to the front desk of General hospital, holding a bunch of flowers in one hand and a travel bag in the other. Subtly clearing her throat, she drew the attention of the young receptionist. "I…I'd like to see Mr. Steven Keller."
"Are you a relative of Mr. Keller?" the receptionist asked politely as she used her finger to scroll down the list of patients in her log book.
"No. I'm a friend."
"I'm sorry, Miss, but I'm afraid I'll need to speak to Lieutenant Stone before anyone outside of his family is permitted to see him. I won't be a moment." The receptionist gave an apologetic smile then gestured for the woman before her to take a seat while she made a phone call to SFPD.
Rosy nodded, feeling disheartened. She looked down at the flowers in her hand then said, "It's okay, I have a bus to catch. Can I leave these with you and will you promise to give them to Keller?" She handed the flowers to the receptionist.
"Sure. I'll make sure he gets them," the receptionist replied, taking the flowers from the woman and admiring the beautiful arrangement.
"Thank you." Rosy turned around and walked away melancholically as she made the first steps of leaving behind San Francisco and the people in it.
Bus Depot, SF, 1973
It had been nearly five years since he had broken the engagement with his fiancée and walked out of her life. Now, the Armenian Sergeant hoped he would reach the bus station in time to stop Rosy Wakefield from leaving San Francisco forever. He knew it was crazy to feel any kind of romantic attachment to someone he'd only met yesterday and perhaps it was even senseless for him to fall for someone who worked the streets, someone who used her wiles to bed a man as a means of earning a living. So why her? It was a question to which he knew no answer and one he asked himself all morning before he finally abandoned all reason and worked up the courage to drive to the bus depot in a race against time. With a smile that formed unbidden across his face, Norm saw Rosy Wakefield board the bus that would take her away from him. He cupped his hands over his mouth and called out her name but the roar of the bus engine must've drowned out his voice because she didn't disembark. He could just make out her flame red hair cascading over her slender shoulders as she took a seat by the window. Shaking his head, Norm took off at a run, weaving in between passengers waiting to board another bus. The smile on his face faded as the bus he sought to stop began to pull out and within seconds it drew further and further away as his legs failed to carry him any faster. Gasping for oxygen, Norm slowed to a stop and watched the bus slowly disappear from view down the main highway. The frosty air stung his eyes and each breath formed wisps of steam billowing in the chilly San Francisco winter's day.
General Hospital, SF, 1973
Walking briskly past the front desk, Mike Stone had to double back when a voice called out to him.
"Lieutenant, a woman came by earlier and requested to see Mr. Keller. She said she had a bus to catch and left but she asked me to pass this along," the young blonde receptionist informed the detective. She stood up and walked out from behind her desk then handed the flowers to a puzzled looking Stone.
"Oh? Did she say who she was?" Mike asked, curious to know if it was a date of Steve's. He was all too familiar and at times disapproving of his partner's ventures with women.
"No, but she was very attractive and had long red hair."
Mike smiled, realizing who the young girl was referring to and thanked her then headed toward Steve's room.
After knocking on the door, Mike walked into Steve's room and smiled broadly at his daughter and partner.
"Are those for me?" Steve asked, grinning mischievously as he pointed at the flowers in Mike's hand.
"As a matter of fact, they are. They're from the receptionist." Mike decided he couldn't resist teasing his protégé.
Jeannie's head whipped back to stare at Steve with a questioning look in her bright blue eyes.
"What can I say? Is it my fault that women find me attractive?" Steve quipped, knowing full well his partner was baiting him.
"Steve!" Jeannie gasped as she swatted his arm with the back of her hand. "And here I was feeling sorry for you."
Steve started to laugh but the pain threatened to return so he cut it short and settled for gently tickling Jeannie's ribs as she sat on the edge of the bed.
"Actually a lady left them with the receptionist," Mike clarified.
"See? I told you," Steve quipped, earning another look from Jeannie that told him he was skating on thin ice. He reached out and held her hand in his. Though he knew she was kidding around with him, for some reason he couldn't quite put his finger on, he felt the need to reassure her that there really was no woman out there vying for his attention. In fact it had been a few weeks since he had dated someone.
"Seriously, if I had to hazard a guess, this came from Rosy Wakefield," Mike began to explain.
"Rosy who?" Steve asked.
"Oh that's right. I almost forgot you've been asleep all this time, Buddy Boy!" Mike chuckled then in a serious tone he continued, "She helped us catch the two guys who landed you here."
Steve licked his lips, unsure how to respond.
"They're beautiful. I'll see if I can find a vase for them," offered Jeannie as she got up from her seat and took the flowers from her father. As she started to carry them toward the door, she noticed something peeking out from the folds of the colored cellophane. She stopped in her tracks and pulled out the object. It was an envelope. "There's something in it." She turned around and handed the envelope to Steve.
Thinking that it was just a get well card, Steve opened the envelope and took out the contents which to his surprise comprised of a note and his badge. He looked up at Mike, expecting an answer.
"I'd wondered what had happened to it." It was all Mike could say as he too was at a loss for words. He fished out Steve's badge case from his coat pocket, walked closer to the bed and handed it to his partner.
After slipping the badge back into its rightful space, Steve unfolded the note and read out loud, "This belongs to you. I should have returned it earlier but you reminded me of someone I once knew. I guess it's time to let go of the past and move on. I'm sorry. Rosy."
An awkward silence filled the room until a knock on the door broke the stillness.
"Come in," Mike called out.
The door opened and Bill Tanner's face appeared, along with Lessing's, Devitt's and Olsen's.
"How on Earth did the lot of you get past Doc?" Mike looked on incredulously.
"Will you keep it down!" Olsen snapped in a strained whisper. "We're not supposed to be here but we thought a few minutes won't hurt. How are you, Steve?"
"I've had better days but I haven't had better company. Thanks Rudy, guys." Steve beamed at the men poking their heads through the doorway. He gave Jeannie's hand a light squeeze and felt her warmth spreading throughout his body, filling his heart with something he hadn't felt in what seemed to be a long time. He may have been at the wrong place in the wrong time when a gunshot almost ended his life, but despite being imprisoned in a hospital room, there was nowhere else he'd rather be today.
AN #2: Thoughts for a sequel/follow-up are in the works depending on the cooperation and motivation of my muse.