See Chapter One for disclaimers.
As always a great big thanks to Denise for all the hard work she does to keep me looking literate, and to Kay for her medical input.
This chapter as with all my writing is dedicated to the two women in my life who have given me more love that I have ever deserved.
To Slider for bringing an unbelievable warmth to my soul, grounding me and keeping me sane. I will love you forever.
To Mom, for showing me that love is priceless, precious, and most of all, pure. I miss you terribly.
This chapter comes very late and for that I apologize. This and the few following are probably the hardest I've ever written. The pain of watching the very life of my mother being maintained by a machine was one of the most painful and helpless feelings I have ever known. It is one that, if you have never had to endure it, I hope you never have to experience. It takes one to the very depths of hell and back...and changes you forever.
Madison woke to the subtle aroma of coffee drifting into the bedroom. For a moment, she looked around confused until the events of the previous evening came crashing down upon her waking thoughts. Tears stung her eyes as she recalled the fiery explosion that ripped through Logan's house, finally accepting that no one inside the structure could have survived the blast. She tossed back the covers and sat up on the side of the bed.
Her head pounded but she ignored the pain as she slid from the covers. Walking towards the bathroom, she could hear Julie talking to someone in the other room, but couldn't discern if her friend was on the phone or had a visitor. Deciding not to interrupt, she took a shower and dressed in a clean pair of scrubs Julie had placed on the dressing table. Walking into the kitchen a few minutes later, she saw Julie and another woman sitting on the back porch holding hands drinking coffee and talking quietly.
Julie noticed the movement out of the corner of her eye and quickly returned to the kitchen. After giving Madison a gentle hug, the woman leaned back and looked into her friend's eyes. "Good morning. How are you feeling?"
Shrugging, Madison turned to pour herself a cup of coffee so Julie wouldn't see the tears stinging her eyes. "I'm okay."
Julie quietly observed Madison before speaking. "Well, if you're up to it come on out to the porch. There's someone I want you to meet."
Blinking away the tears, Madison turned facing her friend as her eyes wandered out to the porch and the blonde woman sitting alone. "Thanks, but I think I'm going to just call a taxi to take me to get my car and I'll be out of your way. I...ummm, probably need to see about...ummm, locating Logan's C.O. to find out if I can make the arrangements for her..." Madison's words became strangled and broken and as the tears burned her cheeks, Julie pulled her close.
Madison allowed Julie to hold her as the tears flowed unheeded, the emotions of the previous twelve hours finally breaking through the barriers she had erected. After a few long moments, she stepped back wiping the tears from her cheeks. "I need to call in, get my messages, cancel my appointments for the next few days and go by to check on Susan before I can do anything else." Tilting her chin towards the door, Madison attempted a smile. "You go on out and visit your friend and I'll see you later, okay?"
Hesitantly, Julie nodded and stepped back towards the door. "Call me later, okay? I need to know that you're alright and if you need somewhere to stay tonight, you know you are welcome here."
Smiling, Madison promised she would then turned to pick up the phone as Julie returned to the porch and her guest.
The morning had been long and tiring as Dove once again walked into the antiseptic shell of the hospital. He still hadn't heard from the doctor that was with Logan the previous night and as he rode to the third floor in the elevator, a thought ran through his mind. This woman probably thinks Logan is dead. Okay think, what did Logan tell me about her? As he stepped off the elevator, his steps quickened as he neared the ICU. Ignoring the posted signs, he pushed through the heavy doors and headed towards the main desk. Not waiting for the nurse to look in his direction, Dove almost shouted his question as the frightened woman looked up. "Where is the patient that was injured the other night at the Strip?"
He heard a sound from behind and turned to see a uniformed officer standing behind him. Realizing how his sudden appearance seemed, he pulled the detective's shield from his pocket and turned to face the officer. After introducing himself, Dove continued to ask his questions in a calmer tone, and after a few minutes had the information he needed and continued down the hall towards Logan's cubicle.
The bright overhead fluorescent lights flooding the room surprised Dove; he had somehow always envisioned the ICU as a dark, quiet place to rest. He could hear the rhythmic sounds of the ventilator as it forced the preciously needed oxygen deep into Logan's lungs and the insistent beeping of the monitor hanging from the ceiling. As he eased towards the bed, an unbridled fear overtook him and the detective had to fight to keep from turning around and escaping room.
Logan's arms lay limply by her side and a thin white sheet was tucked loosely underneath. Dove could see the numerous bandages that covered the burns on her torso and upper extremities, her breasts covered only by a small white towel. Dove felt a myriad of emotions as he observed Logan, the rippled muscles in her stomach and the defined form of her arms conflicted with the helpless, vulnerable woman that he saw laying in the bed. If it weren't for the constant reminder of the machines, he thought she looked as if she could simply sit up and talk, yet her closed eyes and the pallor of her cheeks told him that the vision was only an illusion. The woman before him was in deep trouble and he felt an overwhelming sense of impotence at not being able to help her.
She was sleeping and although he ached to see her open those penetrating blue eyes, he knew the induced sleep was what she needed. As his eyes panned over her injuries, his heart ached knowing the pain she would endure when she woke. Thin wires disappeared under the white sheet that rose and fell with the timing of the ventilator and he watched in silence knowing the machine was breathing for his friend. Tears streaked his face as he looked at Logan, tape circled the tube that disappeared into her mouth and stretched in an X across her lips. An I.V. line snaked from beneath a layer of tape on Logan's arm, and then across her body, and as he followed the path to the plastic bag hanging from a stand beside her bed a lump formed in his throat.
Taking a seat beside the bed, he reached out and gently took her index finger in his massive hands. For the first time since meeting Logan, Dove began to see her in a different light. She had always presented herself as a tough, street-wise cop, never the frail and vulnerable woman he was now seeing. He sat beside her for over an hour, simply holding her finger, hoping that in some way she would know he was with her, silently praying she would have the strength to fight her way back. Finally, releasing his hold, Dove slowly rose and dodging the many tubes and wires, carefully bent down to place a kiss on her forehead, thankful that her beautiful face had been spared the injuries the rest of her body now endured.
Slowly he backed out of the room and headed for the elevators as anger rose like bile in his throat. I'll find you, and when I do you will suffer for what you've done. Pressing the button for the fourth floor, Dove was lost in thought as his pager broke through the silence. Stepping off the elevator, he located a payphone and diled the squad room, then waited for the Lieutenant to come on the line.
He listened as Beaudry told him of the latest developments in the case. Phillip Crafton, Vice President and Director of Human Resources at Langston Development had been murdered in the parking garage of the corporate offices. "Yes, I'm here at the hospital now. Sure, I'll stick around here until I hear from you."
The Lieutenant was about to end the call when he hesitated. "Ummm, how's McGregor?" The Lieutenant listened as Dove filled him in on Logan's condition. He had been shocked when Dvorak had called during the night to give him an update on Logan. He had immediately gotten out of bed and began dressing as Dove filled him in on the situation, but stopped when Dove informed him that no one could see her until morning.
He had spent the remainder of the night, sitting at his kitchen table drinking coffee, remembering the night Logan had saved his life. Silently, he promised to keep her safe, a promise he knew he shouldn't make, but one he vowed, he would give his life to keep.
After hanging up the phone, he sat quietly in his office, the glass partition providing a barrier against the constant noise in the squad room, and looked at the empty desk Logan so often called home. A lump formed in his throat and a tear threatened to escape his tired, bloodshot eyes before he angrily stood and walked to the door.
Everyone in the squad room stilled as the Lieutenant began barking orders to the men. "Hamilton, McDuffie, get over to the hospital and secure Detective McGregor's room. No one gets in without my direct approval." Looking around he spotted his next subjects. "Benton, you and Williams round up as many off duty men as you can and go over to McGregor's house to see if there is anything salvageable. Call me when you find out and I'll have a storage unit ready for you to move her things into."
Finding some comfort in his actions, he proceeded to thunder his commands and after sending most of his available officers on their assignments he stormed through the squad room and up to the fifth floor. This bullshit is over and I intend to stop it here and now. Impatiently waiting for the antiquated elevator to ascend his anger grew. When the doors finally opened to the expensively decorated administrative floor of the building, he stepped onto the plush carpet, never slowing as secretaries ran along behind him. At the end of the hall, he swung the massive oak door open and stormed into the office of the Chief of Police, Len Youngblood.
The stately gray-haired man looked up from his desk, not surprised by the sudden intrusion. "Have a seat Lieutenant, I'll be right with you." Raising a hand as Rita, his secretary came through the door, he assured her everything was under control and then turned back to the angry man before him, watching as the man's barely controlled emotions threatened to erupt.
Waiting until the door was closed and he knew they could not be overheard, the Chief dropped the pen to the desk and removed his glasses before speaking. "Now, what can I do for you Allen?"
Dove lightly tapped on the half closed door and stepped into the room, surprised to see the bed empty. He was just about to turn around and leave when a voice called out from the bathroom.
"Well Madi, it's about damn time you got here..." Susan stopped short when she saw the stranger standing in her doorway a sudden shudder running the length of her spine. Straightening as much as her sore muscles would allow, she looked into the man's eyes hoping her fear wouldn't show. "How did you get in here?"
Realizing he had frightened the woman, he pulled his shield from his breast pocket and held it out for her to see. "Umm, I'm Detective Dvorak, Logan McGregor's sometimes partner and friend. I didn't mean to frighten you Ms. Richardson."
Releasing a pent up breath, Susan eased towards the bed, gently pulling herself onto the mattress, relieved that she had decided to put on her robe before going into the bathroom. After sliding the fresh sheets over her legs, Susan turned back towards the man. "How can I help you Detective?"
Motioning towards the adjacent chair, he glanced up as the most alluring eyes he had ever seen watched him intently. "May I?"
Shaking herself from the distraction, she smiled. "I'm sorry. Of course, have a seat Detective."
Sitting down, Dove looked back at his notes to give his pounding heart a moment to recover. Clearing his throat, he sat a little straighter and tried not to stare at the woman. "Ahh, yes. Well, I was told that you work for a Doctor Madison Cavanaugh, is that right?"
"Yes I do. Actually, she should be here any moment." As the woman's curiosity and interest in the detective began to rise, she smiled at his flushed face. "May I ask why you are looking for Madison, I mean, Doctor Cavanaugh?"
Dove tried to regain his professional demeanor as he reined in his attraction to the blonde. "I just need to ask her a few questions." Standing, wanted to quickly make his exit before making a fool of himself. Placing his card on the rollaway table, he smiled at Susan. "When you see the Doctor, if you would give her my card and ask her to call me as soon as possible, I would appreciate it very much."
Turning he quickly walked to the door, only to be stopped by the woman's voice. "If I may ask, where's Logan? I thought she was heading up this investigation."
Turning to face the blonde once again, Dove didn't miss the way Susan referred to his partner. Logan huh. "I'm sorry, I guess I should have explained, Detective McGregor is indisposed for the time being and I'll be taking over the case until she returns."
Both heard the quick intake of breath as Madison cleared the doorway and heard Dove's last response. Turning, they saw the small woman stop, unmoving as the shock of his words sank into her overworked and exhausted mind.
Dove felt a small hand reach out and grasp his arm and in response, he quickly moved to help the shaking woman sit. Kneeling beside her, Dove spoke gently, realizing his next words were going to send the woman into an emotional frenzy. "Are you Doctor Cavanaugh?"
Nodding her head, Madison's pleading eyes bore into the detective's. She held his hand in a death grip in an effort to maintain some semblance of control. "Yes, I'm Doctor Cavanaugh. Please tell me she's alive."
Dove smiled, knowing the news he was about to give this woman was going to be a pleasant surprise. He remembered running through Logan's yard the previous night frightened at the prospect of losing his only dear friend and the relief he had experienced when he saw her sitting beside a nearby tree breathing oxygen as a paramedic held the mask to her face. "Yes, she's alive. I've been trying to find you since last night."
Madison could only stare blankly as the words reverberated through her mind, knowing she couldn't be hearing the man correctly. "But...I...I saw the house explode. No one...no one could live through that." Suddenly Madison shrank back as the fear of Logan's injuries consumed her. "Where...what...how did she...damn it."
Dove gently soothed the Doctor as she struggled for words, finally pressing on her shoulder until she sat back in the chair and became quiet. "Just listen to me and I'll explain everything." He waited for her acknowledgement and then continued. "Logan was in the house, but she got very lucky. The firefighter that fell through the roof, practically fell on top of her. They were both rescued but I have to tell you Logan is in pretty serious condition."
He held up a hand to intercept her questions. "She's here in the ICU upstairs." Grasping her arm, he eased the woman back into her chair. "No, let me tell you what to expect before you go up. I know you're a doctor and will certainly understand all the mumbo jumbo better than I, but I'll tell you as much as I know right now."
He stood and leaned against the desk as he filled Madison in on Logan's condition. As he was about to escort her to the ICU, he stopped and turned again towards the small doctor. "Do you own a Labrador retriever?"
Madison had mourned her friend during the night, knowing he hadn't stood a chance at surviving the flames. Looking up with expectant eyes, she nodded her head, too afraid to ask.
Laughing Dove looked into the doctor's tired but excited eyes, "Well he's been drooling all over my car. Do ya think you could come and get him?" The detective felt strong arms wrap around his neck as he was pulled into an excited embrace. He couldn't tell if the woman was laughing or crying until she released him and he saw that she was doing both.
The laughter vanished as her thoughts turned to Clancy. It's not possible, is it? Quietly the doctor looked up into the detective's face once more. "What about Clancy?"
Snorting, Dove rolled his eyes. "Doc, I've tried to get rid of that devil cat for the last three years. Hell that fire probably just pissed him off more and he's sitting at the neighbors waiting for his next shot at me." Seeing the relief on the woman's face, he turned towards the door. "Come on, let's go see Logan."
Madison quickly gathered her coat then turned back towards Susan. "I'll be back after I check on Logan, are you going to be alright?"
"Of course, get out of here, I'll be fine."
Seeing the hesitant look on the doctor's face, Dove decided to take a chance. "Umm, I'll be happy to come back and keep you company after I take the Doctor upstairs...I, ummm do have a few more questions I need to ask you."
Madison looked from one to the other and turned towards the door so neither would see the smile that creased her face. "I think that would be wonderful Detective. That way I won't have to worry about both of them." She continued walking and left Susan stunned, unsure as to what she should say.
Dove stood nervously as Susan watched her friend's retreating shadow. "Would that be okay with you Ms. Richardson? If you're tired, I...ahhh, could come back anoth..."
Biting her bottom lip, the blonde smiled at the blushing man and inturrupted his stammering. "It's Susan, Detective, and yes, that would be just fine." She watched and couldn't help but laugh as the anxious detective backed into the door, then quickly recovered and made a hasty exit.
Dove stood just inside the door as Madison eased her way towards the bed. Watching the woman closely, his previous suspicions were proven correct as she reached out and taking Logan's hand gently brought it to her lips as tears cascaded down her cheeks.
In all their years together, he had never known Logan date anyone but Diane and was happy to find that the woman had finally begun to recover from the loss. Now if she can just recover from this, maybe she can start living again.
Picking up the chart, Madison stepped back towards the bed. It had been almost twenty-four hours since Logan's admission to Mercy. She remained sedated, her breathing assisted by the ventilator. During the night, the respiratory therapist had attempted to wean the detective from the machine but as her SPO2 dropped to 88 percent, the ventilator's assistance had been continued. Madison read the chart thoroughly, her training and experience allowing the doctor to visualize how the ER scene must have appeared the previous night.
Madison could only assume the private vehicle that transported Logan to the hospital had belonged to Dove. For a moment she pondered why the detective's partner, or any of the other emergency responders would have allowed Logan to remain at the scene and not seek treatment for her burns and respiratory distress, but then a smile crossed her face as she remembered the tall, dark and imposing detective's stubborn streak.
Looking towards the sedated woman, she quietly whispered, "Damn, you're hard-headed, but I guess that's one reason I'm falling in love with you, Detective McGregor."
Returning her attention to the chart, Madison read the moment-by-moment record of the treatment given to Logan in the ER the previous night. Wheeled into the exam bay unresponsive, the physician's notes reported Logan's physical appearance as being cyanotic, her lips and nail beds blue from the lack of oxygen in her bloodstream. She ordered 15 liters O2 by mask and began the initial assessment of the detective's injuries as a nurse systematically measured and called out the results for the stat nurse to log.
The Doctor knew the tempo in the trauma room had been quick paced, yet purposeful, as each member carried out their assignments with the sure, confident movements the job required to care for the critically ill. Even the years Madison had been in the medical profession, she was still amazed by the almost psychic connection between the members of a good trauma team, one knowing what the other required, often without words having to be spoken.
Logan had been in trouble, and Madison knew the speed at which the trauma team must have responded in order to stabilize her condition. Her heart rate was 155, blood pressure 105/62, with a SP02 of 83%. The attending had noted the diminished bilateral sounds in the lungs due to the swelling of the damaged tissues and building edema, and as the small blonde read on, she wasn't surprised to find that the attending physician had immediately intubated the detective in an attempt to get her blood oxygen level back to at least 94%, before resuming the examination.
A shiver ran up Madison's spine as she read the medical notes of the woman that had been making love to her only twenty-four hours before. So much had changed in the last few hours, and the doctor didn't even know where to begin to sort through all of her emotions. For the moment, she chose to appreciate the moment and the simple fact that Logan was still hanging on and fighting to come back to her. Standing, the petite blonde stretched and placed a tender kiss on the detective's forehead before dropping into the chair beside the bed once again. Interlocking her fingers with Logan's, she leaned over, laid her head on the mattress beside the still woman, closed her eyes and fell asleep feeling the warmth of the woman she loved next to her cheek.
Dove moved closer to the small blonde and looked over her shoulder at the chart, furrowing his brow as he tried to read the medical jargon. "I guess you know how to translate all of that. How's she doing?"
Wiping a tear from her cheek, she turned towards Logan's friend with a tired smile. "She holding her own. Her blood prressure is a little low, but managable. She's still being sedated so that she won't fight the ventilator, otherwise she would be awake but in a lot of pain."
Dove nodded in understanding and continued to stare at the slim figure laying in the bed, the only movement being the rise and fall of Logan's chest as the ventilator breathed for her. "Is there a chance...I mean can she.."
Madison placed her small hand on his shoulder. "Hey, she's doing okay right now, and you have to keep a positive attitude for her. The next couple of days will be the worst for her. There is between a 20 and 50 % chance that she'll develop pneumonia, but I'm hoping that won't happen." Looking at him sternly, she took a deep breath. "And if it does, we'll deal with it then."
Dove gave Madison a weak smile, then turned back towards the bed. Lifting Logan's hand in his own, he brought it to his lips and placed a gently kiss on her knuckles. "I'll see you later Mac."
As he eased out the door, he pulled it shut, giving the women as much privacy as they could have in a busy hospital and began his trek back towards the fourth floor.
Christine Langston stretched beneath the cool, crisp sheets as the sun broke through the sheer drapes and turned over to wrap her long arms around the warm body beside her. Her lover arrived a little after three in the morning, and immediately crawled into the bed, curled her cool body around Christine's warmer one and fallen fast asleep. The executive knew she should allow her to sleep a while longer, but the slowly rising heat in her body demanded a reprieve from the long lonely nights apart. As she slid her hand over taut stomach muscles and around one of the small breasts, she felt the woman stir, then release a low breathless moan, urging her on. Easing her body on top of her lover, Christine captured an already erect nipple between her lips and gently sucked the sensitive peak as one of her long slender legs pressed hard between the woman's legs.
Opening sleepy eyes, Jen looked up into the ice blue eyes of her lover, suddenly feeling the heat between her own legs spread. Interweaving her fingers in the short, spiky blonde hair, she pressed Christine's lips closer, silently pleading for more as the movement of her hips relayed the depth of their quickening desire.
There were no words as the two women fell into each other's warm embrace, both focusing only on the release they desperately craved.
"Herb, what is the last thing I asked of you the other night?"
Whittaker self-consciously swiped the perspiration from his brow before speaking. "C.W., I told you there is only so much I can do at this point. I can't bring undue attention to my office concerning this case. You're on your own this time C.W. I will not allow my name or the reputation of my office to be connected with a murder investigation."
A small smile edged into the otherwise blank stare from the CEO. The line was drawn and to a degree, Langston was relieved that the time had come to cut Whittaker loose. Placing his glass on the coffee table, Langston sat in the chair across from the Mayor and rested his head against the heavily padded chair back. "I guess you understand what his means Herbert."
The Mayor stood and walked slowly to the door, fully aware that Langston was analyzing his every step. "Yes, C.W. I do, and to be honest with you, for the first time in many years, I feel like a free man." Quietly closing the door, leaving a somewhat surprised Langston staring after him, Herbert Whittaker made his way to the elevator.
Continue to Chapter Twenty-One of Code Blue
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