We quietly entered the room Phillip occupied, not certain if he was awake or not. The IV's constant drip and the heart monitor's steady beeping was unnerving. Amanda silently walked over to her firstborn's side, trying to keep her composure, and picked his limp hand up.
"Phillip, this is your mother. I have Lee with me; he wanted to check on you," she gently whispered to him. Nodding to me, she indicated that I step forward to talk to him. I swallowed in nervousness as I did so.
"Hey, Champ—I know we haven't been on good speaking terms lately. But I want you to know I'm not going to back out of your life. Your dad will always be your dad, no matter what, so don't worry about me replacing him. I...I just want you and your family to stay safe. But I love you guys and your mom, so don't think you'll get rid of me very easily," I said, trying to be light-hearted. In reality, however, I was scared that he wouldn't make it out alive.
I was beginning to wallow in self-loathing again when I noticed movement. There was a grin on his face. Seeing that gave both Amanda and I hope. But what happened next embedded it into my mind.
There was a little bit of pain in his voice, but Phillip still smiled as he fell into a more peaceful rest. I carefully squeezed Amanda's hand, then looked at her face. Tears of relief were sliding down her cheeks, while she still held her son's hand.
Typing at his desk in the chapel office, Rusty tried to concentrate. It was a surprise to see Lee again after an almost five year gap. Even more of a shock was to find that his former coworker was married. Of course, people change at their own pace; Rusty knew that. But there was still that nasty way of remembering the past that reared its' head. This was one of those times.
Back then, the older agent was known for "drive-by romances". By comparison, others made jibes at Rusty for his lack of a dating life. Rusty cared more about getting through with one project after another, just to get "the monkey" (as he called his former supervisor, Dr. Austyn Smyth) off of his back. Lee's focus had been on rescuing a pretty girl and...well, you get the idea. At least, that's what he seemed to have been like back then.
Over the clicking of typewriter keys, Rusty heard a metallic clinking sound at the door. He gave a quick look at the shadow coming from behind the frosted glass, before returning his focus to his present work. All the while, his fingers never lost their rhythm, a sign that he hadn't completely lost his training. It was clear that whomever it was on the other side of the door did not want a friendly chat or prayer. His eyes narrowed slightly at this. The guest, he noticed from the shadow's slow movement, must have figured out (despite efforts on both sides) that he'd been discovered, and carefully slipped out of view.
When the footsteps ebbed out of hearing, Rusty quietly got up and made his way to the door. In an effort to be comfortable due to the heat by the window, he had untucked his shirt. Now he used the bottom of it to grasp the door handle, just in case a fingerprint lift was required later. Hanging from the outside was a strange apparatus that looked like a cigarette lighter. Where the flint used to be, however, there was a small countdown window. It was a chemical bomb, and the contents would most likely lead to a larger explosion than the outside look would lead one to believe.
A brief glance in the main area of told him that no one was in the main room.
He slowly closed the door, knowing that a rapid movement of any sort might jar the bomb to explode before the timer hit zero.
The safest place was behind his desk, though the typewriter could be a hazard, so he ran for it.
He was almost there.
There would be no time to gasp for air as he dived for what was the only shield he really had.
Amanda and I decided to go down to the chapel to pray. The way we looked at it, a little extra prayer might help Phillip recover faster. Besides, Rusty said he had information for me, as well as evidence that could bring at least one perpetrator to justice. We were almost to the chapel's entrance when—
The blast sent a flash of fire and smoke in front of us. Unless Rusty was somewhere else in the hospital, chances were slim of his survival. My agent's instinct took over.
"Amanda, go find help—I'm going in to make sure no one's been injured."
"Just go, Amanda, I've got this."
She nodded before turning to run back towards the main nurse's station. I made my way through the smoke and embers, trying to determine if anyone had been sitting in the now burnt pews. Thankfully, there wasn't anyone. However, the state of the door to the chaplain's office caused me to freeze. Beyond it I could hear a man coughing. Without thinking, I busted the door open. A desk was split in two, and the coughing was coming from behind it. Moving the furniture proved a difficult task, but I finally succeeded, and helped Rusty up.
"You okay?" I asked as I half-carried him to the chapel entrance.
He held his head with his free hand. "I'll be okay—though, if I wanted a headache, I'd have gone to a Stryper concert," he joked.
I couldn't help but smile at the mild sarcasm. At least his sense of humor hadn't changed too much. "Concussion?"
A brief cough interrupted his reply. "Yeah, I think so."
"I thought you said the chapel was supposed to be a safe place," I told him.
"It is," he answered. "But whoever left that bomb must have been too far gone to care. He looked a bit familiar though, I think."
Another cough burst through. "Yeah, the door's window was frosted, so I couldn't see anything more than his silhouette."
The ashes were starting to get to me also, as we finally got to the chapel entrance. Outside, a couple of firefighters were getting ready to go in, when they saw me bringing Rusty out. Behind them were orderlies, waiting next to a gurney and ready in case more were needed.
"It's okay, no one else was in there," Rusty croaked, as one of the medical team came up to him for closer inspection.
The doctor (not Dr. Brandon) shined the miniature flashlight into his eyes briefly, before holding up one hand. "How many fingers do you see?"
"Good. And now?"
That drew a nod from the doctor. "So your eyesight is good. Any pain?"
"A little, but nothing a little ibuprofen can't fix."
"Hmmm...well, just to be safe, I'd like to do a CT scan, and the sooner the better."
"Yeah, I'd appreciate it, doctor—thanks," Rusty acknowledged, before heading my direction.
My eyebrows went up at that. Rusty never used to thank anyone for help, much less accept help. But considering my own reputation, I couldn't point at him. A gentle touch on my arm brought me out of my thoughts. Amanda was looking ahead of us, where Billy and Francine were moving as fast as they could to where the three of us were.