A/N: Once again, I apologise for the delay in updating this but I'm finding it hard to find the time to work on it at the moment. Huge thanks to all the people that reviewed the last chapter, signed in and guests alike - you're all fab :)
Emotionally, Lisbon was numb. She had been ever since they'd taken Jane away in the ambulance.
Everything appeared to be happening at a lightning pace around her; the many voices and sounds that she associated with a busy hospital merging into one loud continuous buzzing noise as she sat listlessly staring at the opposite stark white wall of the waiting room area.
In contrast, she didn't think there was a part of her body that wasn't aching. After the ordeal she'd been through, it was hardly surprising but she had yet to agree to go and get checked out even though Van Pelt had urged her on a number of occasions since they'd arrived at the hospital.
All she cared about was Jane. The waiting for news was interminable, the hands of the clock ticking so slowly that even the seconds seemed like hours to her overwrought mind.
She thought back to earlier that evening when Van Pelt had gone to meet the paramedic's to lead them back to where Jane lay. Once alone, she had scrubbed her face clear of her useless tears then reached out to gently brush back some of the consultant's dirty blond hair before running her hand down his inert features as she'd leaned down to look at him.
"Jane? Jane, can you hear me?" she'd asked. His skin had felt a little clammy under her fingers and she knew enough about blood loss to have recognised that he was going into severe hypovolemic shock.
She'd swallowed hard around the lump that had formed in her throat and had tried to speak to him again but she couldn't seem to force her voice to work. She'd glanced around, wondering what was taking Van Pelt so long even though it had only been a couple of minutes…and then she'd felt it. Ever so slightly, Jane's hand had squeezed hers in response. She'd looked back down at him and heard him emit a low groan before he'd slowly opened his eyes.
"Oh, thank God," she'd breathed in relief as she'd ducked her head down so he that could see her. She'd given him a watery smile and greeted his return to consciousness with a soft, "Hey."
It had taken him a moment or two to focus on her face but when he did he'd managed a shadow of his usual smile.
"You're safe," he'd murmured his voice laced with obvious relief as his eyes drooped again.
"We both are," she'd assured him. "The paramedic's have just arrived so you need to stay awake, OK?"
"I hate hospitals," he'd grumbled sleepily, eyes still closed.
"I know you do," she'd said in a hushed tone as she ran her hand through his hair again.
"Feels nice," he'd muttered, obviously losing the battle to resist the lure of welcoming blackness that beckoned him back to a place where he stopped hurting.
She remembered smiling at his words before hearing a noise behind her. Glancing over her shoulder, she'd been thankful to see Van Pelt finally returning with a paramedic and also Cho who had arrived when the rest of the emergency services had. She'd learned later that the redhead had quickly updated the stoic agent on all that had happened which was why she'd seen him shoot an icy glare at the Sheriff as he'd rapidly marched by him.
"They're here," she'd said urgently, turning back to her consultant but he hadn't responded. She'd called his name a couple of times then the medic had suddenly dropped his bag by her consultant's side and knelt down to begin looking Jane over.
"What have we got?" he'd asked, checking for the blond's pulse and frowning slightly.
Lisbon had briefly outlined the consultant's injury and the man had nodded his thanks as he continued to work methodically.
"Is he going to be OK?" she'd asked, trying to curb the slightly panicked tone in her voice.
He'd glanced at her, his expression serious as he'd replied, "We need to get him to hospital right away."
It's what he didn't say that had disturbed her most, the worried look in his eyes speaking volumes even though he hadn't realised it.
"I want to go with him," she'd stated firmly.
"I'm sorry but with our other patient there's just not going to be room in the ambulance," he'd told her apologetically as he'd stood up.
She'd wanted to argue the point but Cho had cut in saying, "Van Pelt can take you, Boss. One of us needs to go to the hospital and interview Newland anyway. I'll stay here and process the scene."
She'd shot him a grateful smile, suddenly feeing a little lighter; it had been good to let someone else take charge after everything she'd been through and she knew Cho would do an outstanding job. She was lucky to have such a great team around her and made a mental note to make sure she let them know it more often.
Things moved swiftly after that. Jane was carefully moved onto a stretcher then loaded into the ambulance with a sour looking Newland. She'd hardly let go of his hand the entire time, only relinquishing her hold when she'd been forced to and even then it had been reluctantly.
She'd stared after the ambulance as it had driven away, sirens blaring and lights flashing, feeling as if her heart had been ripped out of her chest and dragged along behind it in the slipstream.
That's when the numbness had set in.
Thankfully, Van Pelt had found out which hospital they were going to and Cho had ensured that a couple of deputy's followed so that the Sheriff would have a guard detail once they were there.
For once, the woman that prided herself on being able to handle any situation had been fit for nothing.
"When Rigsby gets here, I'll send him on to the hospital," Cho had informed them as they'd prepared to leave. He'd then paused for a moment before looking at her and adding in a slightly more softer tone than was normal for him, "He'll be fine, Boss, don't worry."
"I know," she'd answered with far more confidence than she'd actually felt and now, as she sat and waited, she was desperately trying hard to summon up even an ounce of that fabricated positive feeling.
Even fake self-assurance was better than none at all.
A flash of movement caught her eye and she looked up hopefully but it was just Van Pelt returning from a visit to the hospital cafeteria. She quelled the burning disappointment she felt and summoned half a smile. It wasn't the young woman's fault that she wasn't the doctor.
"Hi," Grace greeted as she walked over to Lisbon and handed her the cup of coffee she'd just bought. She sat down next to her on one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs then asked, "Any news yet?"
"No," the brunette replied. She took a sip of the hot brew and relished the bitter taste as it slid down her dry throat then gave the agent another small smile as she added, "Thanks for getting this, I needed it."
Van Pelt nodded then drank some of her own coffee before setting it down beside her and glancing at her watch. It had been just over three hours since Jane had been rushed straight through to the operating theatre. Cho had rung her not long after they'd arrived at the hospital to inform her that he'd just sent Rigsby to join them there.
"Let him deal with Newland, you stay with Lisbon just in case it's bad news about Jane," he'd advised.
She'd understood his concern and assured him that she would stay put. Looking at Lisbon, she worriedly eyed the ever deepening bruises that coloured the brunette's face then straightened slightly as she prepared to try and coax her boss to get checked out for the umpteenth time.
"Don't even bother, Grace; I told you, I'm not going anywhere until I know how he's doing," Lisbon said with quiet resolve, forestalling the redhead's words.
Van Pelt let out a sigh of resignation but remained otherwise silent. It was useless to try and force Lisbon into doing anything she didn't want to. She was still amazed that she'd succeeded in persuading her boss to leave the waiting room long enough to go and wash the dirty streaks from her face. True, it'd taken over an hour and had culminated in her saying quite bluntly that Jane wouldn't want to see her in that dishevelled state to get her boss to finally comply, but it was worth it. She'd even managed to purloin a clean top for her from a kind-hearted nurse. It was a little on the large side but much better than the blood stained t-shirt she had been wearing.
She took another sip of her drink and looked around. Out the corner of her eye she noticed a doctor in scrubs enter the waiting area. He was a short man in his mid fifties, his hair colour hidden under a surgical cap and, after a cursory glance at all the occupants, he headed their way.
"Boss," she said, giving the other woman a light nudge on the arm. "I think this is us."
Lisbon looked up and quickly stood as the surgeon came to a halt in front of them.
"Are you here for Mr. Jane?" he asked briskly.
"Yes, I'm Agent Lisbon, this is Agent Van Pelt," the brunette introduced as Grace held out her badge. "How is he?"
The doctor gave the ID the most briefest of glances then turned back the Lisbon with a commiserating smile that had her stomach turn over.
"He's in recovery. The surgery went well, there wasn't too much tissue damage considering. He was very lucky the bullet passed through and missed his major organs but it's his blood loss I'm more concerned with," he explained impassively. "He's suffering from hypovolemia and although we've given him blood transfusions, the next twenty-four to thirty-six hours are critical. Hopefully he'll respond but I suggest you call his family."
Lisbon felt like she'd been punched in the gut. He hadn't really told her anything she didn't already suspect but even so, she couldn't stop the little nagging voice in her head that kept insisting that it was just like Bosco all over again.
But it wasn't, she had to remind herself firmly. Jane's injuries weren't nearly so bad. He would be alright. He would survive.
"We're his family," she stated coolly. "When can I see him?"
A slight rise of his eyebrows was the only indication that he was in any way surprised by what she'd said then he glanced at his watch.
"He probably won't be awake yet but you can have a few minutes with him now before they transfer him to ICU," he allowed then checked the time again. "I have another patient I must attend to but if follow me, I'll show you where to go."
Lisbon nodded her thanks then she and Van Pelt walked quickly behind him towards the recovery room. Once there, the doctor spoke with one of the nurses on duty then hurried away without even a backwards glance of acknowledgement.
"Nice bedside manner," Van Pelt murmured wryly as the nurse he'd talked to bustled over with a friendly smile.
"Dr. Morgan said you could have a few minutes with Mr. Jane," she said warmly in stark contrast to the doctor's emotionless demeanour. "He's just through here. Only one of you I'm afraid though."
Lisbon looked at Van Pelt who merely nodded and took the brunette's coffee from her before saying, "I'll wait for you out in the hall."
The nurse led Lisbon through to the next room and pointed to the bed at the far end where Jane was surrounded by various beeping machinery. His face was as white as the sheets that he lay on and the brunette couldn't help the little gasp of shock she emitted at the ghostly sight of him. It was the first dart of emotion she'd felt in ages.
"His colour should improve over the next few hours," the nurse commented reassuringly as she gave the agent's arm a consoling pat. "I'll be back soon."
Lisbon nodded automatically and waited until the door closed behind her before she moved slowly towards the bed. She came to a halt by its side and looked down upon her sleeping consultant. There was an I.V. in his arm no doubt administering pain medication and some kind of antibiotic and he had tubes in his nose that supplied a steady stream of oxygen. Machines monitored his heart and blood pressure, ready to alert staff if there were any kind of slight alteration in his natural rhythms, but she ignored it all, her gaze completely focussed on his face.
He looked so frail. Nothing like the vibrant, sometimes larger than life, pain in the ass she knew him to be. It was all just so wrong. He shouldn't be that quiet. So still.
Tentatively, she reached out and laid her hand on the bed before sliding it up until she touched the tips of his fingers. He didn't feel cold anymore, she realised with no little amount of relief. Inching further, she covered his hand with hers and gave it a gentle squeeze.
The door clicked open behind her and she felt her heart drop that her time with him had already come to an end.
"We're going to be moving Mr. Jane to ICU soon," the nurse informed her quietly.
Not looking around, Lisbon nodded her acknowledgment then bent and closed her eyes as she pressed a lingering soft kiss to her consultant's forehead. Her faint hope that he might stir came to fruition when he suddenly let out a very soft moan. She pulled back immediately, her eyes snapping open to look down at him intently.
"Jane?" she called urgently before turning to the nurse and saying, "I think he's waking up."
The other woman hurried over to opposite side of the bed and began making the usual vitals checks as the blond let out another small groan and moved his head to the side.
"Lisbon?" he whispered, a slight frown marring his face as he tried to open his eyes.
"I'm here," she assured him, squeezing his hand again.
His eyes fluttered open and after blinking a few times, he locked onto her face and smiled.
"I could get used to you being the first thing I see whenever I wake up," he murmured sluggishly.
Lisbon couldn't help the tiny skip her heart made at his comment even though she knew he was too drugged up to really know what he was saying.
"Oh please, you'd be sick of my face within a week the amount you sleep," she replied lightly, unable to keep the answering smile from her own lips.
"Never," he refuted softly, his eyes not leaving her face.
Her smile faded as they stared at each other for a few moments until a soft clearing of a throat broke the lightly charged silence. Lisbon blinked then looked over at the nurse questioningly.
"I'm sorry to interrupt," the woman began apologetically, "but I have to ask Mr. Jane some questions and then we need to get him up to ICU."
Lisbon nodded her understanding but it was with great reluctance that she let go of his hand and took a step back. She listened idly to their conversation and once they'd finished, the nurse turned to Lisbon and proposed, "If you leave your number on my desk, I'll give you a call as soon as he's settled in ICU."
"Thank you," Lisbon replied sincerely before looking back at Jane and adding, "I'm going to go and check in with Cho and the rest of the team."
He nodded and she caught him staring wistfully after her as she gave him one last glance before leaving the room. Ignoring the urge to go back and plant herself resolutely by his side, she went over to the nurses' desk and left her a note with her name and number on it then went out and joined Van Pelt in the hallway.
She knew he still a long way to go but finally, for the first time in hours, she felt the numbness that had settled around her like a thick protective fog begin to lift.
END CHAPTER 11
A/N: Hope you liked it - let me know what you thought. It's winding down but I haven't forgotten that I need to tie up the loose ends. More to come :)