For disclaimers, see  Part 1

Part 25

 

Chapter Twenty-Five

Alex opened her eyes and blinked in the darkness of the bedroom. She stretched and arched her back away from the mattress. Beside her, Regina stirred under the covers and mumbled sleepily.

"Itís early. What are you doing up?" Her grip tightened momentarily around Alexís waist as she snuggled closer.

"I couldnít sleep," Alex grumbled. Abruptly she rolled over, dislodging Reginaís grasp and sat up over the edge of the bed.

"Hey, whatís wrong?" Regina reached up and rubbed her back affectionately.

"Nothing." Alex stood up and searched around the dark room for her duffel bag. The illumination from a single street lamp silhouetted her body as she moved about the room until she located it in the corner where sheíd placed it before she went to bed. Alex fumbled through her duffel bag for her sweats and running shoes.

Regina sat up and pulled the covers over her chest, as she watched Alex pull her sweats on. "Where are you going?"

"Running," Alex replied curtly, pulling a running shirt over her head.

Concerned, Regina sat up and took her hand. "Are you sure youíre ready to do that?"

"Itís been too long. I need to run." Dammit, I need some time alone to think, too.

"Okay," Regina replied hesitantly.

For a moment, they both stared at each other in the gray light of the room and then Alex lightly squeezed Reginaís hand before letting go.

"Iíll see you later at the hospital," Alex said and then stepped out of the room, carrying her sneakers.

What happened between last night and this morning? She was fine when we went to sleep. Regina stared at the space where Alex had just been standing in utter confusion and then flopped down onto the bed. She wrapped her arms around Alexís pillow and closed her eyes as tears welled up in her eyes.

Outside the condo, Alex tied her hair back in a loose braid and slowly stretched her legs. She forced herself not to think about Regina, knowing she ran out leaving the younger woman confused and upset. Her thoughts turned to last nightís conversation as she jogged in place on the macadam. A baby? I wonder how serious she is about doing this. My God our whole lives would change.

With a grim determination, Alex started to run. The only sound aside from the occasional car in the distance was the rhythmic pounding of her feet on the road. Her body responded sluggishly at first as it protested the increased demand she placed on it.

Angry at the fatigue and the memories, Alex ran up the steady incline of the hill. Itís been one crisis after another since weíve been together. I love her, but I want some time just for us. Is that so selfish?

She crested the top of the hill and felt her body settle into a more comfortable rhythm as the initial shock to her system eased. She didnít say she wanted to do this right away. A baby? What the hell do I know about being a parent?

Alex adjusted her stride as she reached a grassy stretch of land that led into a small park at the end of the cul-de-sac. She ran until she doubled over coughing, as the cold air burned her lungs. "Shit. Iím out of shape."

Alex dropped to the ground on the dew-covered grass and pumped out a flurry of push-ups. She gritted her teeth, hating the weakness she felt in her arms and chest. She pushed herself past the trembling and burning sensation until all she focused on was the rushing of her pulse between her ears.

Exhausted she sat back on her heels, tilted her head up to the sky, and closed her eyes. Reginaís words echoed in her memory. Wouldnít it be wonderful if we could make a baby? Alex dropped her head forward and staggered to her feet. With her hands on her hips, she stared down the hill at the dark outline of the Saint Xavierís before she started a slow jog back down the hill.

An hour later, Alex walked into the Emergency Department and headed into the locker room. Alex grabbed a pair of scrubs from the linen cart and tossed them onto the bench. The run made her feel a little better, but she was still unsettled by Reginaís comments.

The locker room door opened and Sandy walked into the room and slumped unceremoniously onto the bench. With a groan, she opened her locker and stared bleakly into the narrow space. "Do you think anyone would notice if I shoved myself in there and just hid for the rest of my life?"

"Thatís a little extreme. What the hell would you do that for?" Alex snapped her scrub pants at the back of Sandyís head.

"Hey!" She rubbed her neck and then did a double take when she looked at Alex. "What the hell are you doing down here?"

"What do you think Iím doing?" Alex opened her locker and hung her keys on a hook inside.

Sandy shrugged and started changing her clothes. "I figured you were getting assimilated by the suits."

Alex snorted and pulled her scrub pants on. "Sorry to disappoint, but Iíd rather be treating patients. So tell me why do you want to hide in the locker?"

Sandy tied her sneakers. "Long story. It involves blue paint, a new carpet, and my ass being grass when I get home. Do you think I could work a string of double shifts?"

Alex rolled her eyes. "It sounds like it was an accident."

"I wish. If it hadnít been preceded by a fight about painting the room a neutral color forÖAlex she wants a baby!"

Alex stopped pulling the scrub top over her head and stared at Sandy. "She what?" Great what is it? A god damn epidemic? "Tina?"

"Who the hell do you think Iím talking about?" Sandy slammed her locker and banged her head against it. "Weíve been together for ten years and not once has she ever brought up having a baby. Now all of a sudden her biological clock is ticking."

Alex exhaled slowly trying to slow down the rapid beating of her heart. "SandyÖ"

"I donít want a baby, Alex." Sandy closed her eyes and leaned against her locker.

"What did you tell her?"

"Before or after I spilled the paint?"

"Does it matter?"

Sandy slid to the floor and buried her head in her hands. "I told her if I wanted to have a baby in my life I would have married a guy and had two point four kids, a dog and a white picket fence."

Alex continued to stare at the nurse, resisting the urge to cover her mouth in a sympathetic reaction. Thank god I went running this morning and kept my mouth shut. "You could work double shifts if you want but I donít think itís going to help."

"No shit."

A moment later, the locker room door burst open and one of the nurses poked her head inside. "Weíve got multiple traumas on the way. A school bus ran a stop light and plowed into a van."

Alex finished changing and slammed her locker shut. "How many?"

"Three major and ten minor traumas."

"Who else is on?"

"Dr. Washington, yourself and Dr. Torres."

"Sandy call the pediatric intensive care unit and tell them we may need beds." Alex hurried past her into the hallway. The doors to the ambulance bay burst open and two paramedics rushed a stretcher through the door.

"Maggie, I need your help," Alex said, as the nurse walked out from behind the nurseís station. Out of the corner of her eye, Alex saw the tall, blonde-haired Vice President bearing down on her. Damn, now what does she want?

"Dr. Margulies."

Alex turned her head. "What Cassandra? She grabbed a yellow, isolation gown from one of the linen bins and shoved her arms into it.

"I need you to be at the dinner on Friday night by six." The Vice President trotted alongside the doctor.

"Thatís important enough for you to tell me now?" Alex upper lip curled into a snarl and she fought to hold back the blunt accusation that formed in her mind. Oh yes, this is important enough for you to be down here right now, so the whole staff can see youíve got me involved in your little game.

"Thereís a new cardiac study weíre about to start and I want you to meet our lead investigator since the Emergency Department will be involved in the patient selection process."

Alex waved her hand in irritation and turned her attention to the paramedics. "What have we got?"

"Eight year old boy with a fractured tibia. Heís complaining of shortness of breath. His pressure is one hundred over sixty."

"Alex."

"I heard you," Alex snapped. "Iíll be there, when I get there." Alex grabbed hold of the stretcher and guided it into the open trauma room.

She grabbed a fluid shield mask from one of the boxes on the wall and tied it behind her head as she entered the room. Outside in the hallway, she heard Jon barking orders out in the hall as another patient was brought in. Okay, one thing at a time. Letís do this. Alex grabbed hold of the backboard and looked briefly at the brown-haired boy. "On my count, one, two, and three." Four pairs of hands easily lifted the boy onto the treatment table.

"Whereís my brother?" the boy wailed as Alex started to examine him.

"Whatís his name?" Maggie asked, as she cut the boyís shirt off with a pair of blunt nosed scissors.

"Joey," the boy gasped out in between sobs.

Maggie looked at one of the technicians as he set a tray of instruments onto a metal stand. "James, go see if you can find anything out about his brother.

"Gotcha." He ducked out of the room.

Alex positioned the stethoscope in her ears and listened to the boyís chest. "Good breath sounds bilaterally." She moved the stethoscope to listen to his heartbeat and then flipped the instrument around her neck. "Letís get a trauma panel, type and cross match for two units of blood. I need two more IV lines with normal saline and get a catheter in him, now." She quickly examined his abdomen and chest, probing for any tenderness with her hands. "Does this hurt?"

The boy shook his head, fighting back a fresh wave of tears.

"Whatís your name?" Alex asked, as she continued to examine him for any other injuries.

"Robert."

"Youíre going to need surgery to fix your leg." She glanced up at Maggie as the nurse finished inserting an IV into the boyís arm. "Find out where the parents are. Weíre going to need their consent for the surgery."

Alex peeled off her gloves and stepped away from the table. "Get x-rays of the lower leg, anterior, posterior and oblique views. Call orthopedics and let me know if there are any changes in his condition." The door to the adjacent trauma room swung open and Sandy stuck her head into the room.

"Alex, Jon needs your help, now."

Alex nodded her head as she stripped off her gown. She grabbed a clean one on her way into the room and quickly shoved her arms into it. "What have you got?" Alex asked over the din of the alarms that sounded incessantly from the wall monitor. She pulled gloves from a box and slipped them onto her hands.

"The kidís got a crushed pelvis and internal bleeding," Jon answered as he sutured a chest tube into place.

The boy grabbed the oxygen mask from his face and writhed on the table. Alex grabbed the plastic mask and replaced it over his nose and mouth. "Easy. Keep this on."

"Itís hard to breathe," he cried.

"Hang on. Itís going to be okay," Alex re-assured him.

Meanwhile, Sandy ducked around a resident who was inserting an intravenous line into the boyís arm. She grabbed a package of Vaseline gauze from an instrument tray and packed it around the tube exiting from the boyís chest.

The nurse glanced up at the monitor and rattled off the vitals. "His blood pressure is one-twenty over eighty. His pulse is sixty. Jon his oxygen sats are dropping."

Alex pulled the stethoscope from her neck, adjusted the earpieces, and bent over the boyís chest. "Open an intubation tray," she ordered as she listened to the breath sounds. "Heís got scattered rails bilaterally."

One of the technicians tore open a sterile package and set it on a metal stand by the head of the stretcher.

The door to the trauma room banged open and Alex felt a chill run up her spine as the sound brought back a flood of memories. One of the nurses stood in the doorway. "Dr. Washington weíve got a fourth critical coming in."

"Get Dr. Ortiz. Heís finishing up in trauma two." He looked up at Alex whose face had gone pale. "Alex, you okay?"

She shook her head and blinked trying to refocus her concentration as the noise reverberated inside her head. "Yeah, I need a laryngoscope."

"Itís coming," Sandy called from the across the room.

"No, I need it now." Alex picked up the endotracheal tube from the tray and held her other hand out. "He needs Versaid."

Beneath her on the table the boy looked up at her through the oxygen mask. "Am I going to die?"

Alex stared down at him and her mind flashed another image, and for a horrifying instant she was back on that table staring up at Regina. Still haunted by the intrusive and fragmented memories she rasped, "No, we need to put a tube in your mouth to help you breathe."

Her hand closed reflexively around the laryngoscope as Sandy placed it in her palm. Alex watched as the resident drew up the dosage and injected it into the IV line. Almost immediately the boyís eyes rolled back in his head as the drug took hold.

"Whereís the hematocrit?" Jon asked, watching intently as Alex bent over, tilted the boyís head back and started to insert the endotracheal tube.

"Itís low at thirty-one," Sandy called out.

"Iím in," Alex said, as she finished the procedure and inflated the balloon to keep the tube in place.

"Letís move him now!" Jon grabbed the stretcher and kicked the brakes off the wheels of the stretcher.

Sandy attached the bag-valve mask and started to ventilate the boyís lungs.

"Letís go." Alex grabbed the drug box and pushed the stretcher ahead of her.

The hallway was an obstacle course of visitors and gurneys as the injured from the accident scene flooded the emergency department. Somehow the three of them managed to dodge through the crowded hallway and turn a corner into a corridor that led to the operating suites without incident.

As they reached the OR doors, Alex stepped back from the stretcher. "Iím going back." She turned and trotted back to the emergency department, keenly aware of the bitter taste of adrenaline remaining in her mouth. Alex detoured into the locker room and stumbled to the sink where she gagged and coughed. Her hands trembled as she turned on the cold water and splashed it on her face. Come on. Get a grip. You need to get back out there and take of the rest of the patients.

By sheer will alone, Alex walked back out into the hallway several minutes later. She stopped at a stretcher and bent over its young occupant. "Whatís your name?" Alex asked, as she slipped the stethoscope from around her neck.

"Joey."

"Do you have a brother?"

The boy nodded. "He was sitting in front of me in the bus."

"Whatís his name?"

"Robert."

"Is he all right?"

Alex listened to the boyís chest before she answered. "He broke his leg and he needs surgery."

"Can I see him?" He sat up on the stretcher and peered around the hallway.

Alex pressed up against the stretcher as on of the technicians wheeled a stretcher past her. "After we finish checking you out first. Does anything hurt?"

"I have a headache. Can I get up?"

"Not yet." Alex placed a hand on his shoulder to steady him.

"Whereíd you go?" Sandy asked, as she hung an IV on the pole of the stretcher.

"Locker room," Alex answered curtly, as she flicked a penlight at the boyís eyes and watched his pupils react. "His brother is in room four. He can stay with him but he needs to have another neuro check done in an hour," Alex told her and then moved on to the next patient.

It was several hours later before all the patients were treated and the emergency department had returned to its normal level of chaos. Back in one of the empty trauma rooms, Jon and Alex sat opposite each other at a treatment table, finishing the last vestiges of paperwork before their shift ended.

Alex signed her last note and flipped the chart closed with a relieved sigh.

"Congratulations," Jon said, a smirk crossing his face.

"On what?" Alexís head jerked up and she stared at him with a blank expression on her face.

"Surviving your first marathon since youíve been back."

Alex rolled her eyes. "Is that all? No wonder I feel exhausted.

"How about we head down to the diner and get something to eat," Jon offered.

Alex shook her head. "Sorry, Iíve got something I have to do."

They both looked up as the door to the room opened. Regina stepped into the room and hesitated before she walked over to the stretcher. "Hi. I was looking for you."

Alex rubbed her neck and forced a smile. "Iím here."

Regina glanced at Jon. "You both look beat."

He yawned and rubbed his unshaven face. "We got hammered today."

"I know. We got three admissions in the Pediatric Intensive Care unit and two on the step down unit."

Regina touched Alexís shoulder. "You ready to go?"

Alex nodded her head, grateful for the warmth of Reginaís hand on her shoulder. "Yeah, let me go change my clothes and Iíll be right back."

Regina slid into Alexís chair as the taller woman left the room.

Jon continued to write in several charts before she he finally sat back and tossed his pen on the table. "Finished." He studied Regina for a moment before he spoke. "How do you think sheís doing?"

"Alex?" Regina raised her eyebrows. "What do you mean? Here?"

Jon rested his forearms on the table. "She looked like she was really struggling to stay focused during the trauma today."

Regina glanced at the door and then looked back at Jon. "Did she make any mistakes?"

"Well, no."

"Then cut her some slack, Jon. Sheís under a lot of stress, but sheís working though it."

Jon regarded Regina seriously. "Are you being objective or are you just protecting her?"

The door to the trauma room opened and Alex walked in. She stopped as Regina and Jon squared off at each other, neither aware of her presence for the moment.

Regina bristled at the comment. "Of course Iím protecting her. I also know her well enough to be sure that she wouldnít do anything to compromise a patientís life."

"I know Alex would never hurt anyone intentionally-"

"Hey, what the hell is going on?" Alex walked over to the table and looked back and forth between the two doctors.

Regina stared openmouthed at Alex. "I-I."

"Donít." Alex held her hand out to Regina and turned to Jon. "If youíre concerned about my performance then you come to me, not Regina. Are we clear?"

Jon leaned back, his eyes widening. "Alex, Iím just concerned."

Alex leaned over the table and glared at her colleague. "I donít want your concern. Save it for your patients.

"Iím done here. Letís go, Reg. We have an appointment we need to keep."

*******

They were both quiet as they waited in the parking lot of Hawkeís Nest Reservation. Alex stared grimly out the window, keeping her thoughts on a tight rein. She could sense Reginaís upset as the smaller woman sat quietly beside her. Alex seesawed between being angry with Jon for voicing his concerns to Regina and upset at herself for jumping on the defensive so quickly.

"Alex," Regina started.

"Do you really want a baby?" Alex blurted out. She glanced nervously at Regina and then puffed her cheeks out before she rubbed her eyes.

"I knew thatís why you were upset this morning." Regina turned in her seat and faced Alex. "Why didnít you say anything?"

Alex rested her elbow against the window and rested her head on her hand. "Honestly, you blew me away last night. The thought never really crossed my mind that you would want something like that."

Regina was quiet as she looked down at her hands. "Alex, I donít want to get pregnant right now."

"But someday." Alex leaned against the door and stared out the window.

"Someday, Iíd like to get pregnant and bring a child into the world." Regina reached out and rubbed the back of her fingers against Alexís cheek. "Talk to me. Tell me what youíre thinking."

Alex closed her eyes and shook her head. "I donít know if I want that."

A heaviness settled on Reginaís chest as she studied Alexís angular profile. "Ever or just now?" she asked, feeling like the wind got knocked out of her.

"I donít know. Right now, I just want us to be together."

"We are and we always will be." Regina leaned forward and pressed her lips against Alexís temple.

Alex sat, quietly absorbing Reginaís words. She watched a blue colored sedan pull slowly into the parking spot next to them. "I think heís here."

Regina peered around her, and observed a lanky, brown haired man with a boyish face step out of the car and looked expectantly at Alex from across the roof of his car.

Alex opened the window partway and raised a questioning eyebrow as she looked at him.

"Dr. Margulies?" His voice carried easily in the crisp, cool air.

"Yes."

"Iím Matthew Weber."

"Show me some identification first." Alex stared at him impassively.

He walked around his car to Alexís vehicle while he fumbled inside a pocket of his gray over coat. He pulled out his wallet and flipped it open.

Alex peered at the laminated card and then nodded at the investigator. "All right Mr. Weber, now what?"

He peered in the driverís side window and frowned when he saw her passenger. "I thought you were coming alone."

"This is Dr. Kingston," Alex replied with an icy stare.

Regina mustered a smile as she leaned forward in her seat to acknowledge the man standing outside Alexís door.

Matthew simply nodded and backed away from Alex. "Letís talk out here."

Alex opened her mouth to speak, but Regina cut her off. "Donít say it. Iím going with you."

A slow, side-ways smile crept over Alexís face. "I was just going to ask if youíre ready for this."

"Oh, I thoughtÖ"

"I was going to ask you to stay," Alex finished for her.

Regina ducked her head. "Sorry, I should have let you finish."

Alex squeezed her hand, then, stepped out of the vehicle, and followed Matthew to a picnic table several yards away from where their cars were parked. She rubbed her hands together and pulled the collar up on her coat as wind swirled around them, lifting and twirling the dead leaves into the air.

"I donít want to chance talking in the car."

Alex shrugged indifferently, although she wondered if he wasnít being a tad paranoid as she sat on the bench across from him. A smile briefly warmed her eyes when she glanced up as Regina sat down beside her.

Matthew looked at both women, his face hardening into an expression of intense scrutiny. "I appreciate your cooperation doctors but I will warn you, this is not a game."

"Weíre both well aware of that." Alex leveled an irritated gaze at the investigator. "Get on with it."

"Fine." Matthew pulled out a small notebook and pen. "We already know that the hospital is involved in some questionable relationships with drug companies. Up until now, their legal department has been able to take advantage of every possible loophole available to them. We need someone on the inside. Iím hoping youíre willing to do the right thing."

Regina leaned forward. "Do the right thing? Wait a minute. Alex hasnít done anything wrong."

Matthew ignored Regina and spoke to her taller companion. "Alex you have knowledge of fraudulent drug trials being conducted at the hospital. If you choose not to assist the investigation you can be prosecuted for obstructing justice."

"Thatís bullshit. She called you." Regina slammed her fist on the table.

"Reg, itís okay." Alex pressed her leg against Reginaís as she glared at the man across from her. She was surprised when her lover leaned across the table and got to within inches of the investigatorís face.

"Do you want our help or are you just trying to intimidate us? We can very easily call my attorney and you can deal with him and not us. Itís your choice." Regina finished her short speech and slowly sat back down on the bench.

Matthew bowed his head and sighed before he looked at Alex again. "Fair enough. I just want you to know that once the hospital finds out your assisting in the investigation, they will use anything they can to rattle you."

"Iím well aware of that," Alex said.

"First, I need to know exactly everything that youíve found out or have first hand knowledge of."

"Most of what I have just leaves more unanswered questions," Alex replied.

"It doesnít matter. If itís enough to justify getting a warrant itíll be worth it."

"I can put something together for you."

"Good. Now thereís a dinner taking place on Friday night that weíre very interested in. Do you know about it?"

"Iíve been invited." Alex assumed a bored expression on her face while inside her guts stirred as she anticipated what his next remark would be.

"Would you be willing to wear a wire?"

Alex squeezed Reginaís thigh before the younger woman could lend voice to the concerns that were evident in the tensing of her whole body. "Why me?"

"Youíve done what it would take us another six months to do. We donít have time to plant someone in their midst so we can find out the extent of what theyíre up to."

"Why canít you just get a warrant to get the information that you need?" Regina asked.

"Like I said before we have no just cause to do that. At the moment, our suspicions are not enough."

Matthew stopped and studied Alex before he continued. Heíd done his homework and hoped the knowledge he gained would pay off. One name in particular had popped up on many occasions as he checked out Alexís past and then suddenly the trail of credit card reports and other electronic data that was kept stored in large databases at the bureau just stopped. His search brought him to a jail cell and one bitter and angry Dana Romano. "Can I talk to you privately for a minute?"

Alex darted a glance at Regina and then back at the dark-haired man sitting across from them. "What ever you need to say you can say right here."

Matthew nodded, a little surprised by that. "Your choice, Dr. Margulies."

Uh oh. Alex tensed as she sensed the change in the manís tone. Beside her Regina fidgeted and she knew her partner was aware of the shift in the tone of the conversation as well.

"The statute of limitations on the possession of drugs and selling them is six years. There are two years left on that statute in your case. If you agree to wear the wire on Friday, I can make those two years go away and you wonít face any charges now or in the future."

Alex swallowed, her ears burned hot and her stomach roiled in reaction to what she heard. She braced her elbows on the table to stave off the uncontrollable trembling that started in her gut. Even after all this time it still comes down to this.

With a resigned sigh, Alex lowered her head and then looked over at Regina, not sure what she would find in her eyes. What she saw was a look of quiet acknowledgement without a hint of recrimination.

"Iím sorry." She didnít know what else to say.

They held each otherís gaze, conveying more in that one unspoken moment than a handful of hurried words would have accomplished. Alex looked back at Matthew and nodded her head. "Iíll do it."

For the next two hours, Matthew reviewed what information the government wanted to collect for their investigation. Both Regina and Alex were exhausted by the time they finally returned home.

Alex leaned against the wall, with her arms folded over her chest, quietly gazing out the window of Reginaís condo. She closed her eyes and tried to slow her racing mind. On the ride home she came to the conclusion that maybe this was justice being played out, since she did everything she was being accused of. Alex yawned and cracked her neck to relieve some of the tension she felt in the muscles.

"Alex come and sit down." Regina looked up from opening her mail and patted the chair next to her.

Blue eyes rolled in her direction and the taller woman walked to the table and slumped into the chair.

"Tired?" Regina ran her fingers through Alexís dark hair.

The older woman nodded and rested her face in her hands. "Why arenít you angry or yelling at me?"

Regina stared at Alex. "Youíre doing a good enough job of beating yourself up. You donít need me to add to the pile." This got her a tiny smile and Alex lifted her head up to look at her. Regina rested her head on Alexís shoulder and inhaled the subtle, spicy scent of her perfume.

"This could get ugly in the next few days."

Regina nodded her head soberly and pressed her face into the curve of Alexís neck. "I know."

Alex wrapped an arm around Reginaís shoulder and kissed the top of her head. Her thumb grazed Reginaís cheek and wiped away a tear. "You know thereís no guarantee the district attorney will agree to throw out the charges against me."

Regina lifted her head and wiped the tears from her eyes. "I choose to believe that he will, Alex. I have to."

Alex was silent as she stared down at the table. She exhaled and then looked into the pair of stricken, green eyes. "I guess I always felt that I was living free on borrowed time." Alex glanced up at the ceiling and took a nervous breath. "Maybe this is, itÖthe proverbial other shoe falling."

"No." Regina scooted forward in her chair and squeezed Alexís hand. "Itís been four years and youíve turned your life around. Youíre not that person anymore. I wouldnít be with you if you were."

Alex nodded her head in quiet acknowledgement. "I know. Listen, I wasnít mad at you before in the car. I was upset at Jon for putting you in the middle of everything."

"I wasnít sure," Regina acknowledged quietly.

Alex reached out and turned one of the envelopes around to read it. "Whatís this?"

Regina squinted her eyes and read the address. "My lease is up in a month."

Alex bit back the question that was on the tip of her tongue, prudently deciding that at the moment it wasnít the right time for her to ask Regina if she wanted to take that step with her. She wants a baby. I donít. Why would she want a commitment if we donít want the same things? "I think we should hit the sack. Itís going to be a long couple of days." With a sigh the taller woman, stood up and stretched. "You coming?"

"Yeah. Iíll be there in a couple minutes." Regina watched as Alex walked over to the bedroom and disappeared inside.

What if she decides she never wants to have a baby in her life? Then what? Well, weíve come this far together, Regina thought to herself. Itís not the time to have a crisis of faith. She propped her elbows on the table and rested her head in her hands.

After a quiet moment of reflection, Regina picked up her cell phone and dialed a number to the police station. She listened as the phone rang several times and then a gruff voice answered on the other end. Officer Briggs."

"Hi, this is Dr. Kingston from Saint Xavierís. Iím calling to get an update on the boy whoís been missing since Saturday."

There was a monosyllabic grunt on the other end. "Hold on." A few seconds later the officer came back on the phone and spoke. "Sorry, maíam but we donít have any new information on him yet."

"Nothing?"

"No maíam."

"Are you even looking for him?" The words leapt from her mouth before she could thing about what she was saying.

"Maíam, we get hundreds of reports of missing children every year. We go through the same procedures for each of them."

Regina sighed. "Iím sorry. I just canít believe heís disappeared and no one has seen him."

"Itís tough. Sometimes these kids donít want to be found and they just slip into the shadows of street life."

Regina shuddered at the images that conjured up. "Let me give you my cell phone number. If you hear anything please call me."

The officer took down the number as she recited it. Thanks," Regina replied when she was done and flipped the phone closed.

She walked into the bedroom, stripped off her clothes, and tossed them into the hamper. "You asleep?" she whispered, as she crawled into bed beside Alex.

One blue eye opened and peered back at her. "No, I was just thinking." Alex reached out with her arm in an invitation to Regina.

With a smile, the blonde snuggled down beside her and rested her head against Alexís shoulder. "Iím going to be covering down at the clinic for the rest of the week."

Alex nodded her head and continued to stare up at the ceiling.

Regina traced a fingertip over Alexís collarbone. "I want you to come down there before you go to that dinner on Friday."

Alex looked at Regina and gave her a nervous smile. "Why? So you can make sure I look presentable," she joked in a feeble attempt at humor.

Regina shook her head and kissed Alexís neck. "No, silly. I want to be able to wish you luck before you go."

Alex slid an arm around Regina and pulled her close. "Are you upset about what I said earlier?"

"You mean about you wearing a wire for Matthew. Heís using you and that pisses me off."

"I know. I meant about the baby."

Regina rose up on her elbow and peered down at Alex. "Iím not upset, disappointed that you donít feel the same way, but weíve never talked about it before this. Things have to be different than they are right now and we both have to want that." She leaned down and kissed Alexís collarbone. "Tomorrowís another day. Go to sleep."

Part 26

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