Author's Notes: Beware of spoilers for all of Season 1 for Common Law, especially "The T Word" and "Gun!". I own very little and nothing at all in connection with Common Law.
Resolution is not as easy as a hand shake. Following the events of "Gun!", the boys still have some talking to do. Unfortunately the bad guys don't slow down long enough to give Wes and Travis a chance until one of them ends up in the hospital.
CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCL CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCL CLCLCLCLCLCL
It wasn't like they say. It wasn't movie slow motion with fragile silence finally shattered by life picking back up to speed with way too much sound. It all happened in real time, Travis new exactly what had happened and that was why he was trying not to freak out.
Bank job gone bad, the suspect was holding a matte black Glock to the throat of some lady who was having the worst day ever, and Wes was giving him The Look. The look that said 'Your mouth is going to get us into trouble'. Travis was trying really hard to prove him wrong, but purely for professional reasons.
"Come on man, put the gun down and let the nice woman go. We'll talk about this and get out of here together, okay?" Travis held his empty hands out, trying to look at harmless as possible and trying really hard not to glance at Wes who was slowly circling up to the side of the suspect.
"Bullshit!" shouted the man, not looking the least bit inclined to cooperate quietly. Like Travis had held out much hope of it in the first place. "I let her go, your boyfriend over here shoots me dead." He fixed Wes with a crazed look. "Yeah, I can see you over there, Boyfriend. Nice try."
"If you noticed my partner is a little trigger happy, well, you'd be right." Travis could practically feel Wes' eyes scolding him. "And he's not a terrible shot. The only way he isn't going to ventilate you is if you cooperate. I don't think he's going to be patient for much longer," said Travis said smoothly, moving a couple of steps closer. He was so close, just a couple more feet…"But I mean, you can always test my theory. It might be refreshing to be wrong for once."
"I got him." Wes' voice was low and hard.
"You got him?"
"I said I do."
"Then take the shot."
"What?!" the robber turned to look at Wes with complete surprise, dropping his gun just enough. Travis took one step, grabbed the woman and pulled. She didn't even scream as the momentum propelled her into Travis and spun them to the ground.
"Freeze!" bellowed Wes, his voice filling the air. Travis didn't hesitate to cover the woman, trusting his partner to take care of business.
The shot echoed through the cavernous bank lobby and inspired the other people who were seriously regretting their choice of banking day to make a run for the exit. Travis looked behind him to see the guman down and his partner kicking away the Glock.
"Are you okay?" asked Travis pulling the woman from beneath him.
"Yes," she answered, her voice shaking.
"Then get your butt out the door." Travis didn't need to tell her again.
"You good, Wes?"
"Yeah, I'm good." Wes wasn't a terrible shot. He was pretty damn good, truth be told. Especially in a crunch. And apparently a gun-wielding, crazy bank robber counted, because the former criminal wannabe was currently leaking blood all over the shiny bank floor from his left shoulder.
"Not bad, partner, not bad," laughed Travis as he turned to look at backup filing into the room. The sudden shout from Wes startled him, but not as much as the weight that slammed into him from behind or the report of a gun. The world didn't stop and the sounds of fleeing bank patrons and the calls of entering police didn't muffle, but damned if none of it failed to matter when Travis realized the robber had a second gun no one had seen. Or that it was aimed at Travis and the prone weight of his partner sprawled across his back.
This wasn't how Travis planned on going out, on the floor, hopelessly tangled up in his partner, struggling to right himself. Luckily, back up was well into the building and the gunman didn't try to get off another shot with a dozen cops shouting at him. He dropped the gun, but not before he leveled Travis with a smug look. A look at froze Travis' blood, along with the fact that Wes was still on the ground. And he wasn't moving.
"Wes?" Travis scrambled to Wes, strong hands searching for the problem. He found it pretty easily, it being the hole in his partner's chest, slowly leaking blood. "Oh Jesus, oh dammit. Wes!"
"Still here," groaned Wes as Travis rolled him fully to his back. "Please stop shouting."
"Please stop shouting he says," mimicked Travis, yanking off his outer shirt. "Please stop freaking out that you have a friggin' hole in you?" He pressed the shirt firmly to Wes' chest, tried to ignore the blonde's grimace. "I need some help here and I need it now!" There were already police everywhere, clearing the building so the medical personnel could move in, but they needed to move faster, dammit.
"Two," gasped Wes, eyes shut firmly against the pain.
"Two holes. Hit in the back. Through and through."
"What!?" Travis lifted Wes' suit jacket as gently as he could and looked at the blood that had slowly begun to gather under his partner. "God…", Travis bit back his furious words and looked around for the EMTs. He could see them moving toward them, being herded by several cops. "Alright, help is almost here." Travis looked at Wes' pale face filled with pain lines. "Wes. Wes look at me." He gave Wes' arm a squeeze until the blonde opened his eyes. "EMTs are here. You're gonna be okay."
Wes nodded, their blue eyes locking.
"Hospital. Forgot to tell you…"murmured Wes, his voice fading.
"Hey. Hey, hey, forgot to tell me what?" asked Travis, pressing down on the wound a little, desperate to keep Wes talking. "That we're going to the hospital? 'Cause I kinda figured that one out."
"No," grunted Wes, blood-slicked hands grasping at Travis', trying to lighten the pressure.
"Quit it, dummy, I'm not letting you bleed everywhere and leave me to clean up the mess, got it?! Now what did you forget to tell me?"
"Emergency…contact," gasped Wes, his breathing labored. "health care proxy…it's you…didn't want to…bother Alex anymore…"
"Yeah, man, okay. No big deal, I got this," answered Travis as the EMTs mercifully knelt beside them. Travis updated them on the situation and tried to stay out of the way. In what felt like moments, Wes was strapped firmly to a backboard and being carted out the door of the bank. Travis trailed behind, feeling ten kinds of useless. "Where are you taking him?"
"St. Ann's. You going to meet us there?" responded one of the EMTs, slamming the doors shut, cutting off Travis' lock on Wes.
"Yeah, yeah, I'll be there." The EMT nodded and ran for the cab. Travis tried to remember how he'd gotten to the bank. Wes drove them. Did he have Wes' keys? Where was the car? Travis tried to feel in his pockets, but his trembling hands made it difficult. He fisted them tightly, sticky with drying blood.
"Travis!" Travis looked up to see Captain Sutton hurrying toward him.
"Captain…" Captain Sutton was no stranger to trauma in the line of duty, but seeing his young detective looking so lost with bloody hands wasn't something he ever wanted to be good at.
"I know, kid, I know. Come on, I'm your ride."
CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCL CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCL CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCL
It was sunny. The sky was blue and the damn sun was shining. It seemed wrong. Travis kept waiting for the blur to set in, the soft wash of sound and colors and details and time that all the TV shows seemed to use when the heroes got shot. No, it was all in Technicolor clarity and it was starting to piss him off.
"Why is this taking so long?" he asked for the sixth time.
"It isn't, Marks, we've been here a half hour." Travis sat down and then immediately stood up again.
"Why can't I just...zone out? Stare a speck on the floor or something and then magically, three hours pass or however long it is going to take for someone to tell me if my partner is…" Travis choked off his tirade and sat back down and tried not to think of anything at all. Especially not 'ifs'.
"I could lead you in a meditation, if you'd like." Travis looked over at his Captain. The older man looked calm. Irritatingly so. Travis entertained the idea for a moment.
"I know you could, Cap, thanks, I'm just not ready yet, okay?"
"Afraid Wes will make fun of you if he finds out?" Travis snorted softly and shook his head before meeting his Captain's eyes.
"As long as he lives to make fun of me, I don't think I'd mind."
"He will. And I'll make sure to tell him you said that." Travis smiled, but it died quickly.
"He doesn't really make fun of me. He judges, he snips, he prods, but he doesn't seem to do anything involving the word fun anymore." Captain Sutton didn't say anything, but waited to see if Travis would go on. "I mean, I get it now, better than I did before. I do. I just thought…" Travis ran his hands over his cropped hair. "I thought we'd have time to work it out, to be good, like we were before." Sutton took a deep breath.
"Travis, we aren't promised anything. Not a single thing in this life. We are not guaranteed a tomorrow or a week or a month. Which is why we can't dance around, thinking we 'have time'. Now, I have a lot of faith in that stubborn partner of yours and I think you will have time to work it out with him. But I think you should do it sooner, rather than later. We're all fragile creatures in a dangerous world." The older man patted Travis' shoulder warmly. "Especially cops."
CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCL CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCL CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCL
"That's me," said Travis, jumping to his feet and hurrying toward the petite blonde woman who had called his name.
"I take it you're Detective Mitchell's partner? I'm Dr. Cooper."
"How's he doing Doc? Can I see him?"
"Please, come with me." She led him through some doors and buzzed them into the surgical recovery room. "Detective Mitchell made it through surgery just fine, no complications or surprises from the shooting. Normally, we'd keep him here for a bit and then move him to a room and then you'd be allowed to see him, but he seems to be having some reaction to the anesthesia."
"What? What kind of reaction?"
"It doesn't seem to be life-threatening in nature, he seems confused, disoriented, which is completely normal, but what isn't normal is how combative and agitated he is. We're worried about him further injuring himself and we're hoping maybe a familiar face would help him calm down."
"Here's hoping," muttered Travis as the doctor led him a bed in the corner.
"Ger off! Lemme go, I've got…ah!" the sound of Wes' slurred shouts only added to the circus that confronted Travis. Two men in scrubs were lying across Wes' legs, holding him down. Two women were struggling to pin his arms while keeping him from sitting up. His chest was bare and wrapped in bandages already stained with blood.
"Wes! Hey man, you gotta calm down." Travis immediately moved to the head of the bed, trying to catch Wes' panicked eyes. He put out a hand, squeezing the trembling shoulder beneath his grip. "You're going to pull out somebody's pretty stitches and made a mess of everything. You know how you hate a mess." Wes froze for a moment and Travis could almost hear the blonde man's eyes trying to focus.
"Yeah, buddy, I'm here. You doing okay? You seem a little worked up."
"Travis, you can't."
"What can't I do?"
"Crowl. I know and Pac-man and he's bad. I know! But you can't, won't let you, can't. " Travis leaned down and rested his arms on the bed next to his partner, merely to get closer to man who seemed to be settling down, it had nothing to do with how weak his legs felt all of a sudden.
"No!" The shout was forceful, but Wes wasn't trying to get up anymore and doctors and nurses were backing off slowly. "You don't think! Never think about the price. Couldn't let you kill him."
"Okay, you were right, okay? But we took care of that, remember? Crowl is in prison now. We got him."
"No." Wes' denial was smaller, weaker. He finally seemed to be running out of steam. "S'not okay. Shot him."
"No, I didn't, we…"
"I shot him!" Wes fired back. "For you! So you wouldn't have to!"
"What are you talking about, Wes? Shot who?"
"Jason. Shouldn't have to shoot him. Family," Wes' voice trailed off to a whisper. "Wish…family…" The blonde's eyes fell closed. When it seemed certain Wes was asleep, Travis released a breath he had no awareness of holding.
CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCL CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLCL CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCL
"You said Wes seemed confused?" Travis looked up from his coffee at Dr. Ryan. The captain had called her and asked her to come to the hospital after Travis and Wes had given their official statements.
"Not seemed confused, he was talking crazy. But not crazy nonsense, he was just all over the place talking about the Babyface Robbers and Crowl and Pac-Man…it all just seemed mashed together in a way he saw, but I couldn't figure out.
"Have you asked him about it?"
"No." Dr. Ryan raised an eyebrow at him when he failed to go on. "We…I mean…I don't know what to say!" Travis exclaimed. "He could have died on the floor of that bank and it would have been my fault for not making sure the shooter was secure. Turning my back like that was stupid."
"Perhaps, but I think it showed that you trusted him to watch it for you."
"And look where that got him."
"Do you think he'll blame you?"
"Is that really what you're scared of?" Travis returned her steady gaze, but said nothing. "The two of you not talking is how you got into this all those months ago. I think you're both better than that now. Be honest with him and yourself and I think you'll figure out what to say."
After a moment, Travis heaved a deep breath and stood up.
"Only one way to find out." He turned and walked down the hall to Wes' room. He poked his head in and was relieved to see the nurse had finished changing Wes' dressings and vacated the room. He needed to get this done before he lost his nerve. Wes blinked at him wearily. He was due for another pain pill; Travis could see it in the tightness around his eyes. Crap. Maybe he'd better wait.
"I want to know what the hell you were thinking." Or not. Maybe there was something to the idea that his mouth ran away from him…
"When you jumped in front of a bullet for me."
"I was thinking…" Wes broke off, his eyes radiating pain. Travis took in his partner's pale skin, pale hair, pale eyes all seemingly disappearing into stark white hospital sheets.
"Come on, partner. Talk to me," he whispered softly. Wes took a deep breath and met Travis' gaze.
"I was thinking that I have lost everything else. My parents are gone, my wife is gone. You are the only connection I still have that is worth anything, and we barely work most days." His smile was small and sad. "I just couldn't lose that too." Travis rubbed his hands wearily over his face and began to pace the tiny room.
"Dammit, Wes…." Wes only dropped his head back against thin pillows and closed his eyes, like the weight of the words in the air was suddenly too heavy to face. "That's what you were talking about." Wes didn't open his eyes, but his brows drew together in confusion. Travis sat down heavily next to the bed.
"When you were coming out of anesthesia, you were talking about Jason and Pac-Man. About Crowl. Kept talking gibberish about doing 'it' so I wouldn't have to. I didn't know what 'it' was, I couldn't figure out what you meant. Now I get it. Shooting Jason and stopping me from going after Crowl and the bank…. You don't have to give everything to protect me." murmured Travis.
"It's what partners are supposed to do."
"It has to go both ways."
"I wish it would." Travis flinched. "I'm sorry," whispered Wes. "I shouldn't start a fight…"
"No, you're right," responded Travis firmly. "I'm not too great at…this…" he waved his arm in the air between them. "…this heavy stuff. I get that. I'm trying." Travis heaved a deep breath. "I tease because I love?" he finished lamely, shooting his partner a lopsided grin. Wes' mouth smiled, but his eyes were flat. "I'm serious, man. I'm sorry it went down like it did. I was stupid and arrogant and I shouldn't have turned without securing the scene and thank you for watching my back. You always seem to be doing that." Travis put his hand over Wes', trying not to think about how cold it was. "Just know I would do the same for you in a heartbeat. No matter our problems, just…please don't think I won't protect you, too." Their gaze held for a long moment before Wes nodded. "I don't mean for you to always be fixing my problems."
"I'm so much better at it than you." Wes' voice was soft as was his smile.
"You know what, I think you're right. At least for today." Wes' smile grew and he flipped over his hand to return Travis' grip. It was a good start. At least for today.