A/N: Italics are dreams.
Vincent Keller, the wounded soldier, laid motionless on the hospital bed with many tubes and wires attached to his body. A machine monitored his heartbeat as another helped him breathe. A needle connected to a tube kept his body hydrated while another kept the pain at bay. The morphine made his body forget the bullet that was once lodged by his heart.
Some would say he was a lucky son of a bitch. He managed to come back home in one piece while others were missing limbs and some their memories they wished to never recover. He came out of the war with one large scar that he would trade if he could. It was a souvenir of a very huge mistake he wished he never took part of.
He voluntarily joined an elite group of armed forces who were fearless and wanted to face danger head on. They went after terrorists, leaving communities ablaze. 'Kill them all' was their motto and they did the best they could.
Secret laboratories were also demolished. Most of them were built for the sole purpose to kill while a few others were built to help heal and save lives.
One day he was left alone in a sector, all suspects were presumed dead. He was to search each room and to make sure they didn't a leave a live body behind. Cages lined the wall and what he discovered next left him disheartened. Animals laid dead in a pool of blood, shot to death by whom he considered as family, a band of brothers connected by an oath.
"You killed them all. You're the animals not them." A scientist yelled.
An injured scientist launched at him with a knife. He felt the stinging pain as it sliced through his cheek. Just as he was trained to do, he wrestled with the scientist who was still armed with a knife. They both struggled but he knew he had the upper hand as he was much stronger. He twisted the knife and turned it to face the owner. The scientist gave up, knowing what his fate was but before his death he stabbed the soldier with a syringe filled with something only he knew of.
The pain of the past haunted him every day and night. His nightmares were recurring and he spent every waking moment trying to forget all the sins he committed as a soldier and a human being.
He gasped for air and opened his eyes. To his left sat a figure, blurry as his eyes were still adjusting to the bright afternoon sunlight that came in through the hospital window.
"Where am I?" He asked weakly.
"Hospital." Detective Chandler answered, her voice was weary as she had little sleep from worrying about the soldier she barely knew. "The doctors were able to remove the bullet from your chest." Her eyes were tired and the sleepless night showed in her face.
The sound of her voice brought a smile to his face. He rubbed his eyes and his vision started to clear. "That's good. Would have been a pain to get through airport security if they hadn't." He chuckled.
She smiled lightly. "I'm not sure if I should be happy to hear you joke about being shot but it's nice to see you smile for a change."
He slowly moved his hand and let his fingertips rest on to of hers. "Don't worry about me. I'm okay."
She stared at their hands but didn't move it. "Do you remember anything from yesterday?" She asked him.
"You saved my life. Thank you." He tried to move his hand closer to hers but winced in pain instead.
"Barely. The doctor said an inch to the right and you could have been killed." She paused and placed her hand on his."I should be thanking you. If it weren't for you we would have never caught the suspect. Sorry you were shot in the process. I promise you that he will go to jail for what he did."
"I thought...you said..." He furrowed his brows and was completely confused.
She shook her head. "I thought so to. The bullet they pulled out from you matched the suspect's gun and ballistic confirmed it. I never thought I'd say this but I'm glad my shot missed for once. You're a true hero." She smiled at him and squeezed his hand gently. "Is there anything else you remember?"
"I was in Time Square, somewhere along there when I heard the shots. My instincts just kicked in and I ran towards it. That's when I saw him and the gun. I knew I had to stop him so I ran as fast I could and tackled him. Then I saw blood and before I passed out I remember seeing you, your eyes. Your voice was the last thing I heard." He flipped his hand over so that their palms were now touching.
Their eyes met for the first time since their last tragic meeting. An exchange of acknowledgment passed between them, that they will always be connected by the traumatic event.
"Knock knock." Detective Vargas interrupted their interaction, the silent conversation they were having.
Detective Chandler quickly let go of his hand and turned to her partner who was walking towards them. She stood from her chair as her partner came closer. Detective Vargas was much taller. They were opposites in physical stature. One tall, tan and of Latin descent while the other short, light and of mix heritage. They came from two different worlds but their partnership was one of a kind.
"Vincent this is my partner Detective Vargas."
"How are you feeling?" Detective Vargas asked.
"Like I was shot." Vincent paused and looked from one detective to another, leaving his eyes on the shorter of the two. Their eyes met once again and he smiled at her. "Other than that, never better." He answered as he kept his gaze on Detective Chandler.
"Hhmmm...sorry I interrupted." Detective Vargas smiled and winked at her partner. "But our boss Joe just wanted to know if you were awake yet."
"You didn't interrupt anything." Detective Chandler quickly chimed in. "I just finished asking him questions about the suspect. Isn't that right Vincent?"
"Yes. I was just telling Detective Chandler how I chased him down."
"We're glad that you're okay but my partner and I have to get back to the precinct. We'll let you know if we have any further questions. It's nice meeting you Vincent."
"I'll be in here detective Vargas." He answered.
"Come on Cat." Detective Vargas walks away first.
"Feel better Vincent." Detective Chandler told him before walking away. She turned and looked back one last time as she reached the door. Her olive eyes met his longing brown eyes. "Bye." She silently told him.
The two detectives walked quietly through the halls as nurses and aids bustled along pass them. They reached the elevator and the closest, Detective Chandler pressed the down button. They stared at the metal doors, waiting for it to open. Above the door, the arrow pointing down blinked and the doors slid open.
They entered the empty elevator and Detective Vargas pressed a button with the number one on it. The door closed and without realizing it Catherine let out a sigh of relief.
"What the hell was that about?" Detective Vargas asked.
Catherine turned to her partner who was already staring down at her with a grin on her face. "Tess, I don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh please Cat. You two may have not noticed but I was actually in the room. I saw the two of you, the longing stare and you holding his hand. Don't tell me that was nothing." Tess enjoyed teasing her partner.
Catherine crossed her arms in front of her. The conversation was something she did not want to have in such a public place. "I was just thanking him for helping us catch the bad guy. Nothing more."
"Just so you know, in the future when you two hook up don't be surprise to hear I told you so." Tess told her happily.
"The guy was shot. He's a witness." Once more in a futile effort Catherine tried to explain to her partner that nothing was going on between her and Vincent. A lie that neither detectives believed.
"But he's hot. Don't you agree?" Tess asked.
"Will you drop the conversation if I agree with you?"
"Fine. He's hot. Okay. Happy?" Catherine answered and finally gave in. Vincent was a very good looking man but that wasn't the only reason she was attracted to him. There was something else that she couldn't quite put her fingers on.
"Ecstatic. And now a serious question."
"I thought we were dropping this." Catherine sighed and looked down. She hated the fact that her partner knew her all too well.
"I lied. Are you going to tell our witness that you stayed here in the hospital all night long?"
"How did you..."
"It's written all over your face and besides you're still wearing the same clothes from yesterday. Speaking of, you might want to change before we head back to the precinct. We don't need everyone to know about your crush." Tess said playfully, teasing her partner who was completely red and blushing.
The elevator stopped and the doors slid open.
"I don't have a crush on him." Catherine said as she stepped off the elevator. "I'll meet you in the car. I have to make a phone call."
"I'm dropping the subject. For now." Tess told her as she followed closely behind with a smirk on her face.
West of the city the sun was settling itself on the horizon. It was late afternoon and twilight was near.
The machines were the only sound of life as Vincent slept. His heart rate was steady and his breathing was normal. He slept peacefully as he dreamt of the girl with green eyes dressed in a golden gown standing by the rose bush.
The skies were clear and the sun was up. The breeze was light but the air was cold, enough to form goosebumps on her arms. She brushed her hair away from her face and placed it behind her ears. From the corner of her eyes she saw him standing by the shadows of the castle.
She smiled at him and he slipped further away into the darkness, far enough so that she wouldn't be able to see him. He stared at his arms covered in hazel hair and wished that he was able to feel the cool breeze on his skin.
"Why are you hiding?" Her voice was gentle and kind as she walked towards him.
"Stay away." He grumbled as he stared at his paw like palm.
"As you wish but before I go, when you're ready I will be right here."
He whispered in his sleep and he stirred before opening his eyes.
"And the hero finally wakes. You scared the shit out of us Vincent." J.T., his best friend said in a worried tone.
"Chip." Vincent said weakly.
"Don't tempt me Vincent. I can call you Scar just like in Lion King."
"Boys." Ms. Forbes looked over at her son standing next to her and then at the young man lying on the bed, one that she raised as her own. Her thick brown hair touched his face as she bent down and kissed his forehead. "Vincent, honey what J.T. meant to say is, we're glad that you're okay. You had us worried."
"I'm sorry Ma." Vincent answered.
"I'm happy that people like you still exist in this world but please be more careful. We just got you back." Ms. Forbes told him.
"Ma don't worry. I'm okay I promise."
"You've got a scar Vincent. When did his happen?" She asked him. She always worried while he was away and he was always quiet about his time spent overseas.
"It was months ago and it's healed now. I didn't tell you or J.T. because I know you'll just worry. Besides you're too young to have wrinkles Ma." He cracked a smile as he answered.
"Thank you honey but we will continue this conversation next time."
"I know Ma. Can I talk to J.T. alone?" Vincent asked.
"Sure. I'm going to get some coffee. Honey would you like me to get you a cup?" She asked J.T.
"No Ma. I have an early class tomorrow and the coffee will keep me awake all night."
She walked out the door and left her two sons alone in the room.
"What did you want to talk about?" J.T. asked.
"Do you remember that story Grams and Grandpa told us when we were kids?"
"You mean that story about your ancestor being half man and half lion?" J.T. answered
"Yea that one. This may sound crazy but I think I just met the girl from the story." Vincent answered. He was sure that it was where he saw those green eyes before. There was something oddly familiar about Catherine Chandler.
"That is crazy. It was just a story Vincent. A story they told us so that we would behave. Do you remember how scared we were that we would turn into that monster every time we got into trouble?"
"The detective that saved me, her name is Catherine." Vincent closed his eyes and pictured her.
"Coincidence." J.T. replied.
"She has green eyes." Vincent stared at his best friend, almost pleading.
"I have green eyes."
"Your name is not Catherine nor are you female and you have brown eyes." Vincent answered back. A part of him wanted it to be true but the other part was scared if it was.
"If I wear contacts it can be green too." J.T. answered.
"I'm serious J.T. There's something about her, something familiar, as if we've met before. I don't know how to explain it. Am I crazy?" Vincent asked.
"Considering you jumped in front of a bullet I would have to say yes you are crazy but if you're talking about this girl from the story and the detective, I don't know. She was the last face you saw before losing consciousness. And the doctor said you flat lined in the ambulance and she was there. Maybe this connection you feel has something to do with that." J.T. answered him with a serious tone. His facial expression changed, showing Vincent how worried he was that he almost lost his best friend, one he considered a brother.
"I died?" Vincent asked.
"For a minute or so. I didn't have the heart to tell Ma. They said you lost a lot of blood. Had it not been for her, you probably wouldn't be alive. The detective was here all night and afternoon until you woke up. She stayed with you." J.T. informed him.
"She stayed here the whole time?" Vincent's eyes grew bigger and a small smile formed on the corners of his mouth.
"Yea she did. She thought she shot you. Ma was mad but she was more scared of losing you. After your surgery they gave the bullets to some cops and had it checked out. Bullet was from the suspect and not hers but she still felt awful about it. Her and Ma talked for a while. Girl to girl stuff. Ma didn't want to leave you all alone but I had classes and my T.A. is out sick. Ma was short staff at the shop. The detective said she would stay. She called us when you woke up. And here we are now. All caught up." J.T. filled him in.
"Thanks. I guess you miss a lot when you get shot."
"Just don't do anything else crazy. Ma, she's not getting any younger. She was always worried when we didn't hear from you. She was happy to read you were coming back home and now this. You're a part of this family as much as we are yours. I'd hate to lose you. You're my best friend." J.T.'s tone changed. There was a hint of sadness mixed in.
"I promise no more jumping in front of bullets." Vincent answered playfully. He wasn't one to get emotional especially after losing his parents and grandparents. He hated showing his weakness to anyone.
"I'm serious Vincent."
"Not to get too emotional, you know I love you and Ma. Our family wasn't like others but I'm happy you two came into our lives. I promise to be more careful and besides I'm stuck on this bed for a while."
"Good. Now that's out of the way. That detective is pretty hot." J.T. added and smiled.
Vincent furrowed his brow and his mouth turned to a frown, distorting the scar that covered half of his face.
"Got it. She's spoken for. Vincent and Catherine, eh?" J.T. teased.
"You just said you didn't believe the story."
"Maybe not but its interesting to see where this story is headed. Get some rest. Ma and I will be back tomorrow. Good night." J.T. stood up and stretched.
"Good night." Vincent called out and as he closed his eyes all he could think about was the detective named Catherine Chandler.