A/N: This is Part Two of this fic. Change in climate, it's going to be angsty, eventless, predictable and melodramatic. I love writing melodrama even if I'm bad at writing, generally.
Disclaimer: I own no rights over characters you recognize. I just borrowed them for fun, intending to return them unharmed.
That evening they cleared up the mess in Walsh's diner and gathered at the counter, drinking coffee someone made in his machine, and it was tolerable.
Brown admitted he was visited by Internal Affairs earlier that day. He compared convincing them that Walsh wasn't shot because of some inside grudge, to a battle he finally won, but they still promised they'd keep a close eye on the wounded detective. Sarge was sure they wouldn't find anything that would make the 2nd Precinct love him less.
They could only wait now. Find other cases to solve and live their lives while waiting for news about him.
"We're still not allowed into his room and it worries me," Casey said at one point. "They could provide us some masks or something if they're worried we'll contaminate him with something."
"Why? What difference does it make?", asked Eddie.
"Walsh keeps secrets, but he's generally a people person, right?", she replied, looking at Banks, who, beside Brown, knew him the longest. Leo nodded. "And he hates hospitals to the point of delaying going inside as long as possible. How would you feel, lying in hospital bed, deciding whether your life is worth living, and having an impression of being left alone by everyone you ever knew?"
"You're talking like it's his choice," Banks protested. Cole and Beaumont were deep in thought.
"Because that's what his doctor says," Casey replied. "He said there's nothing more they could do for him and his will to live is his only hope."
They left for their homes around 11 PM. Only Allison stayed in, sleeping in Walsh's bed, breathing in his scent and fighting not to cry.
When Casey got to the hospital around 10 AM the next day, Beaumont, Cole and Banks were already there, trying to get some information from the doctors. Security officers sat at the far wall, rightfully convinced that since there were three detectives, friends of the patient, they could sit down and stop caring for a moment. Casey was the only one allowed to get any info on Walsh's state, as was everyone she allowed in personally.
"He was getting better overnight," doctor Wade told them. "He started to breathe on his own, we extubated him and put him on an oxygen mask. But some time ago he started to deteriorate again. It's not like he stopped breathing, but... he slows down. Like he's slipping away."
"You mean he's dying," Casey clarified brutally, trying to hold herself together.
"He's tired. He made progress, put a hell of a fight, but apparently he's done," the doctor said, spreading his arms.
Casey looked at her partner in a hospital bed, sleeping with oxygen mask on his face. Heart rate and blood pressure were lower than the last time she saw it. He was clearly giving up, but she wasn't going to let him die like that. Not after two days of fight.
"Can I get in there?", she asked and seeing the beginning of doctor's head shake, added quickly: "In protective suit or whatever, but I need to talk to him."
They were surprised.
"He's unconscious, I don't see a reason...", doctor Wade started, but he was interrupted by Casey again.
"He's comatose and dying. There's not much damage I can do to him, right?"
Two minutes later, dressed in green hospital visitor's vamus over her own clothes, Casey entered Walsh's room. She slowly approached the bed.
This close, she could see how sick her friend looked. He was no better than the first day, but at least he no longer had a tube in his mouth.
"Hey," she started quietly. "I've heard you're going somewhere we wouldn't want you to go."
She sat on the chair by the bed and put her hand near his, on sheets. She couldn't make herself touch him, yet. She stared at his big hand with slim fingers ending with bulging fingernails. Characteristic hand. She was pretty sure she could recognize him just by looking at it.
"You know we solved it?", she continued, shifting her gaze to his calm face. "We have Howell in custody, Strickland got your notes and should arrest Munoz any time now. So everything is fine," she said with a smile. "Thanks to you. You knew which spot to choose, you collected every data you could... Too bad you didn't see it. It was epic."
She glanced at her friends behind the glass. Cole looked like he was praying, Banks kept his hand over his mouth, Beaumont couldn't stay in one place, walking around.
She put her hand over his.
It was cold.
"Walsh... Please, don't give up. I know you're tired, but don't...", she paused. She leaned forward and whispered straight into his ear: "We all. Want you. To live."
She put the other hand on his soft, tousled hair. She always wanted to do that, but conscious Walsh always seemed to be generally untouchable. Now she had her chance.
"Please, don't die," she whispered, then sniffed.
She sat like that for another few minutes, then, after soft tap on glass by doctor Wade, she got up and slowly left.
She wiped tears from her face, then was embraced by Beaumont, who was crying.
He was floating in some kind of a void. It was dark, but warm. At some point he felt like he was closer to home, but then started to slip away, tired of active swimming, like in the water.
Someone grabbed his hand and pulled him back closer to home.
He saw light behind his eyelids.
He took a deep breath.
He was moved to a private room the next morning, still under protection. They were all allowed to get into his room for five minutes at a time and they used this opportunity as much as they could.
By some miracle, he seemed to sense their presence and his state started to improve again. At some point they were worried about brain damage, but the doctors assured them that nothing showed up on his CT scan. Sure, he stopped breathing after being pulled out of the water and on the operating table, but CPR was performed immediately both times, so there was basically no oxygen deprivation to his brain. Prolonged coma could be explained by his injury and hypothermia.
The risk of pneumonia was also staved off. Walsh was on the road to full recovery.
On the afternoon of that day, agent Strickland showed up. After short welcome with Casey, he said his boss was very happy and FBI was looking for Munoz to arrest him. He disappeared, of course, but the agent didn't think there was any threat to Walsh's life from this direction.
"Besides," he said, smiling at officers on protection detail. "You've been very specific and I'm sure your partner is well protected. If you need anything anyway, just call me. You've got my number."
"Yes, thanks," Casey replied.
"Okay, how is he?", he asked, nodding towards Walsh's room. "I haven't met him before, but the guy is a hell of a cop. We were all shocked at the amount of data he collected. We have solid case. Of course, it won't be that solid if most of his witnesses disagree to testify at court, but still, we have bigger chance to put Munoz away with detective Walsh's data than without it."
"He's recovering. We're still waiting for him to wake up."
"Could be any moment now," Strickland assured her.
"Yeah, I know."
"Never got a partner in hospital?"
"No. I replaced Walsh's murdered partner and I didn't even see him mourning before the end of the case. He was so focused... I can't do that."
"But you solved this case," Strickland protested.
"Yeah, because one of the suspects was an idiot and I had help," she replied with a smile.
"Still counts," said Strickland. "Okay, I have to go. I'll drop by tomorrow. Take care."
"Thanks," she replied, shook his hand and watched him go.
She noticed doctor Wade speaking quietly with other, female doctor who took care of Walsh while in ICU. They didn't look worried, but Casey felt some fear rising up inside her when she was approached by Wade some minutes later.
"I think you should take longer shifts," Wade said.
"What do you mean? Why?", asked Casey.
"Because from now on the limit on your visits to the patient is up to hospital's visiting time. If you ask nicely, one person might be allowed to stay with him at night."
"You mean I can go there and sit with him as long as I want?", Casey tried to specify, disbelieving.
"Until hospital's security kick you out, yes."
Casey jumped, hugged the doctor and practically ran into Walsh's room.
She remembered to call Allison about half an hour later. Sgt. Brown was still patient with them and allowed them to stay at their friend's bedside in shifts. He took one of them himself.
At first the signs were weak. Gentle squeeze of hand. Quick frown, minimal shift on the bed, deeper breath.
Walsh opened his eyes on fifth day of his hospitalization. It was a slow process, slight lift of his eyelids, very quiet and hoarse "Case" at blurry sight of his partner.
"Hey," she greeted him quietly. "You're alive."
He nodded and fell asleep again.
A few hours later Casey was replaced by Beaumont.
"Hey," came the same hoarse whisper. "Did I die?"
"A couple of times. But you're back, now," she replied with a smile, watching him closing his eyes again.
When another few hours later he muttered "I hate hospitals", it was still Beaumont who witnessed this.
"I know," she replied, squeezing his hand.
"Did you get 'em?", he asked, looking at her with half-opened eyes. She smiled at him. She missed his amazing eyes.
"Yes," she replied. "It was the finest of Walsh-Schraeger-Beaumont works," she added, though she wasn't sure if they were talking about the same case. If yes, then it was a proof that Walsh wouldn't be suffering even memory loss. Great news.
"Good," muttered Walsh and fell asleep again, to wake up the next day.
Every time he woke up, he would stay awake a little longer. His conversations with friends by his bedside turned into more than just exchange of two or three sentences. He was still sleepy, but more because of painkillers than anything else. According to his new doctor in charge, he was recovering very quickly and within the next week would be released from hospital.
"Not soon enough," he grumbled with arms crossed over his bandaged chest, sitting in his bed. Casey couldn't resist his boyish look and ruffled his already tousled hair. He didn't even react to that. He was fine when it was Casey or (especially) Beaumont messing with his hair, but not Eddie pretending they've slept together.
Good old times.
"Come on, big boy," she said, laughing. "It's just a few more weeks and you're back on duty."
He groaned, laid his head on the pillow.
"And the best way to get back to work as soon as possible is not rushing it," added Casey.
"Casey!", he moaned. He had started to plot his escape, but her words proved that she wouldn't help him.
"Really, Walsh, believe me, I want my life back to normal, too. I'm tired of being partnered with either Banks or Alvarez, depending on a case."
"Ow," he grimaced. "Sorry 'bout that."
"Banks is okay, Alvarez... You know. And I can live with it, since it's just temporary."
"I owe you for this room," he said after two seconds of silence, so casually he got her by surprise. "I'm pretty sure my insurance doesn't cover private hospital rooms," he explained at her raised eyebrows.
"Um, no," she shook her head. "I owe my dad."
"Okay, this is gonna be creepy. Why?"
"He knows I consider you my friend," she started. She learned over time that she shouldn't say anything containing 'we' when it came to feelings and Walsh. She may have considered him her friend, but it wasn't necessary for him to do the same for her. He never said anything resembling that kind of simple declaration and she was confused, sometimes. She either just couldn't read him or he really did everything he did for her just because 'we are partners'. "This is his way of showing how I should have taken care of my friend."
"This is creepy," he admitted, not looking at her.
"Seriously, don't think about it. It's nothing for us. He just made me feel guilty that I didn't think of it myself. I hoped you'd get the best care possible either way."
Silence fell and it was awkward.
"Case," Walsh started quietly, still not looking at her. He opened his mouth like he wanted to say something, but then changed his mind, sighed and said something else instead: "Agent Strickland came by and told me they arrested Reuben Munoz."
"Oh, I didn't know that," she admitted. She knew it's not what he wanted to talk about, but decided not to push. "That's great."
"Yeah. I didn't realize it was his idea for Howell to contact me, in case you're wondering why did I step into obvious trap. If I did know, I would call backup or just wear bulletproof vest."
"You don't usually do 'what ifs'," Casey observed.
"I don't. I just wanted you to know," Walsh replied with a shrug.
Casey looked around. They were alone it the room.
"I want to know why am I your medical proxy."
He again opened his mouth to try and state the obvious ("You're my partner"), but Casey wore 'don't bullshit me' face and he resigned.
"No-one outside the precinct wanted to visit you, Walsh," she whispered. "And you chose me over Beaumont. She didn't have a problem with that, it just left me surprised."
"And wondering where's my family, since I'm young enough to probably still have parents. And siblings," he finished for her.
"It's your life, I don't want to..."
"They're not in NY and they don't care," he interrupted, finally looking into her eyes, just like when he was talking about his baseball career and murdered girlfriend. Then his eyes hardened and Casey knew she wouldn't hear anything more.
"Okay," Casey said. There was no point in pushing him. He wouldn't tell anything he didn't want to.
"As for Beaumont, having my partners as my proxy is something I've been doing since the beginning of my police career, she knows that and really doesn't care. It's easier that way than changing it to another girlfriend when my relationship doesn't work out."
He sounded angry by the end and Casey felt guilty, stepping into his very private life without invitation.
"I didn't know and I feel honored," she said quickly. He was staring at some spot on his blanket. "We just... You're a great man, even better detective and the best friend one could hope to have and I was curious why we seem to be the only people that are here for you."
He shrugged, not replying.
"I can leave you alone if you want me to," Casey suggested, preparing to leave.
"No," he replied quietly. "I don't want you to."
So she stayed.
"Apolo" was crowded, but it was usual for Friday evening. Casey and Walsh barely made it inside to their favorite spot at the bar, when the questions started. Walsh had basically disappeared for a week after being released from hospital, now it was the first time they've seen him since.
Walsh quickly lost his patience and stepped on a chair in the middle of the room, but it was Casey who whistled loudly to gain people's attention on him.
"Thank you," he told her. "Can't use my lungs too much," Walsh explained. "Okay, so, I'm alive and happy to announce that I was cleared for desk duty and you'll see me on Monday."
Some people cheered.
"Ask Casey why so soon and what she said to my doc to make it happen, I have no idea but I'm not gonna complain," Walsh continued. He didn't hear Casey's quiet explanation to Banks: "He'd hurt himself if he stayed at home, bored, any longer."
"Anyway, I wanted to thank you for being there for me and..." Walsh paused, looked around at people who clearly cared about him and were happy to see him alive and recovering. "And for making me realize that while you all know you can always count on me, no matter what, I can count on you, too. And with that said Casey will buy you a round."
He stepped down from the chair and smiled at his friends, laughed softly and finally felt like his old self, only happier.
Reviews, pwetty pwease?