A Little Piece of Paradise
Tori Conrad closed her eyes, the strength required to keep them opened seemed to desert her. It was too hard, just too bloody hard.
She opened them and looked down at the still figure still held securely in her arms. She was ignoring the shouting coming from outside, her attention firmly secured on the pale face beneath her.
"I need you, you know. I know sometimes I had a funny way of showing it, but it`s true." She pulled her lovers body closer. The wonderful feeling she got from doing that was still there.
She nuzzled the soft hair and took a deep lungful of its scent.
"I can`t believe you left. Just left. Couldn`t you wait? They`re here now, they would have made it alright again. I know they would."
Tori`s head rose and she regarded the man standing in her doorway with something approaching confusion.
She was kneeling just outside of the lounge door, holding the limp body of her lover in her arms.
The policeman didn`t waver. He held the gun steady.
"She`s dead." She said to him, as if that would explain everything.
He edged around her so that he could get a view of the lounge. At that moment she heard a window break in the lounge and a loud crash as someone leapt into the room.
Another officer appeared at her side. "Was this the only weapon?" He asked.
She stared at the small gun he was holding by the trigger guard.
"Is this the only firearm in the house?" He said again, shooting a look at the officer in the doorway.
Tori nodded then resumed her position, her face in Eden`s hair.
"Two casualties, get another unit here." Tori listened to the communications absently. Then her vision was filled with a pair of legs covered by green fabric.
A hand appeared and felt Eden`s neck, Tori tightened her hold.
"I`m not going to hurt her." The voice was gentle and Tori looked up into soft brown eyes. A woman.
"She`s dead." Tori croaked.
"Let me see?"
Tori looked at her suspiciously, but seeing only compassion in the dark eyes, she nodded her assent.
Between the two of them they lowered the blonde to the floor. Then Tori moved back slightly as the other paramedic joined his partner and they kneeled beside the stricken woman.
"What have you been doing to yourself then?" Said the woman softly as she began to cut away Eden`s teeshirt.
She looked up at Tori again. "What`s her name?"
"Eden." Tori smiled, that name always made her smile.
"Ok Eden, we`re going to take a look at you."
Tori looked to her right where two police officers were kneeling over Damien. Then the two men stood and their attention shifted to her.
She looked back at the scene infront of her. One of the paramedics had inserted something into Eden`s throat.
`Why are they doing that?` Tori thought. "Why?" She said out loud.
The woman smiled at her. "Helps with her breathing."
"She`s......." Tori throat closed on the words.
"Alive?" The woman looked away from Tori to concentrate on inserting an IV line. Then she looked back up. "Yeah, she`s alive. Can`t have anyone dying on my shift today, it`s my birthday. We wouldn`t want to ruin my day, would we?"
Tori shook her head. "No" She whispered and crawled over to look at her lover. Eden`s hair was plastered to her face, which was grey and slack. Her lips were colourless, and the tall woman was mesmerised by them. Those lips, that had given and recieved pleasure. That had smiled at her and for her. That had told her of love and commitment she thought she`d never know.
She wanted her back, badly. She wanted to reach down and hold the woman, hold her and never let her go. Tell her it would be alright. It would be fine, if she would just hold on for a little while longer.
`Do this for me Eden. Do it for us.`
She was nudged gently aside as a backboard was eased beneath the patient and Eden was lifted onto a stretcher.
Another pair of paramedics entered the cottage and were directed towards her rather than the still figure of Damien.
One knelt beside her and turned her head towards him, manouvering his body so that he was between her and her lover.
"No." She said, suddenly realising they were taking Eden out to the ambulance.
"Let me just see to this." He said, pushing her back down to the ground.
"I have to be with her."
"Look, they`re taking her to the hospital. We`ll take you there in a moment." His hands were heavy on her shoulders, his gaze never leaving hers.
"I don`t want her to be alone if she..............." Tori could no longer meet his gaze.
"There`s nothing you can do for her now. She`s in good hands." Again he turned her head slightly to the side and began wiping the cut near to her eyebrow. "Can you tell me your name?"
Then he placed a dressing on it and put some tape on it to hold it in place. "Can you tell me what day it is?"
She stared blankly.
"It needs a couple of stitches. Are you hurt anywhere else?" He waited for an answer. "Hey there?" He looked into blue eyes that were rapidly becoming unfocused. "Victoria?"
Tori`s eyes rolled back in her head and the paramedic lowered her to the ground as the last of her reserves deserted her.
"Whoa." He said, settling her on the ground in the recovery position. "Shock." He placed a blanket over her and stood, walking to the ambulance to retrieve the trolley.
"What about him?" He called to his partner who was standing with a policeman gazing down at the still form of the gunman.
His partner shook his head, and looked back down at the sightless eyes that
held no life. The corner of the metal grating of the fireplace embedded
obscenely in the top of his head.
Dammit. Bugger off.
"Victoria." More insistant this time.
The nurse looked down into glazed blue eyes.
"You`re in hospital. You had a bang on the head."
Tori`s eyebrows knitted in confusion. Then she remembered.
"Eden?" She croaked. She felt a plastic cup against her lips and sipped the cool liquid it held. The nurse reached behind her and she felt the top of the bed rise until her head and shoulders were higher than the rest of her body.
"The doctor will be in to see you in a moment." She said, and turned to find the aforementioned medic.
Tori leaned her throbbing head back against the pillow. The pain was awful and she closed her eyes trying to get a reign on her nausea.
When she opened them again the doctor was striding into the curtained off cubicle.
"Miss.................. Victoria, is all we have here." He said after reading her file.
"My friend was brought in." She said.
"Look straight ahead please." He said, taking hold of her chin and shining a light into her eyes, causing the pain in her head to intensify.
"Good." He said and ammended her file.
"Next." He said to the nurse, who followed him out of the cubicle.
As quickly as they`d gone another form slipped into the curtained off area. It was a young male nurse, his blond hair defying gravity. He looked at her file and then replaced it on the hook at the bottom of the bed.
"Please." Tori said. "My friend was brought in. She`d been shot."
He moved to the side of the bed. "A blonde?"
"Are you family?"
"She`s my friend." Said Tori, her eyes filling with tears.
"Wait here." He said and turned to leave, then turned back. "I mean it, wait here." He warned.
Tori slumped back on the hospital bed, her shaking fingers exploring the dressing on her forehead.
The male nurse reappeared. "She`s out of surgery. She`s in intensive care. Beyond that, I don`t know."
Tori reached out and grabbed the man`s hand. "I need to see her."
"Look, I don`t know.............. You see, it`s just family allowed in there. I don`t think I can.............." He looked over his shoulder, then back at the woman on the bed. "I`ll try."
Again he disappeared to reappear shortly with another person. A jolly looking black man with laughing eyes.
The porter pushed a wheelchair into the cubicle, and the nurse moved to Tori`s side, carefully helping the tall woman into the chair.
"Cas is going to take you up to the ICU. The nurse in charge today is Joan. Talk to her nicely, she may let you in, but I`m not promising."
Again Tori took the nurses hand. "I don`t know your name." She said.
"Jeff." Was the short answer.
"Jeff, thank you so much."
"Don`t thank me yet." He said, standing aside to allow Cas to manouver the chair out of the cubicle. "You`ve still got to get past Joanie."
Tori closed her eyes as she was wheeled into a large lift. The throbbing in her head was intensifying and she began to worry about getting the young nurse into trouble. But then she doubted that she`d be missed in the busy casualty department.
The lift doors opened and she was wheeled down a long corridor. At the end the porter turned left. He put the brake on the chair. "You wait here Miss Victoria. I`ll see Joanie."
A nurse appeared from the double doors in front of Tori and she got a brief look beyond into the darkened ward. The nurse disappeared just as another followed Cas out of the office.
She stood before Victoria looking just like the archetypal matron.
"I`m afraid it`s not hospital policy to allow anyone other than family to visit the ICU. However, Cas here tells me that you were with Eden when she was injured so we may, on this occasion, waive some of the more archaic rules we`re expected to follow."
Tori closed her eyes and nodded slightly. "Thank you." She whispered.
The nurse placed a hand on her shoulder. "She`s going to be fine." She said, crouching down so that she was at eye level with the dark haired woman. "Will you be able to give us some personal details for her?"
The nurse gave her shoulder a squeeze and stood up. "I can take it from here Cas." She said, and moved behind the chair. She waited for him to open the door and then pushed the chair into the dim and quiet intensive care unit.
Tori looked at the other patients she passed as she was pushed along the ward. Most of them seemed to be requiring artificial respiration and she was overwhelmingly relieved when she arrived at Eden`s bed and her lover was free of any sort of breathing apparatus. Though there were tubes and wires attached to the blonde she appeared to be breathing steadily on her own.
Joan bent and whispered in Tori`s ear. "I`ll be back for you in a while. She`s going to be groggy, so don`t expect too much." With a final pat on the shoulder, she was gone.
Tori sat for a long moment, just staring.
The hand closest to her had an IV line attached, and was still. There was still blood under her finger nails, and as her eyes followed the line of her arm she noticed that more blood was on her forearm.
Tori`s eyes found the face of her lover. She looked peaceful, almost serene.
She reached out a shaking hand and pushed a lock of blonde hair behind Eden`s ear.
"I`m sorry." She whispered.
She watched in fascination as moss green eyes fluttered open and blinked fuzzily.
"Eden?" Tori leaned closer, taking the cold hand in her own. "Eden?" She said again.
Eden blinked a couple more times then followed the sound and found the blue gaze of her love. She opened and closed her mouth a couple of times.
"Eden, can you say my name?" Said Tori gently. It was something she needed. Just to hear her lover say her name. As soon as she heard it she knew everything would be ok. "Say my name sweetheart." She said, leaning forward and pressing her lips against her lover`s cheek.
She leaned back, watching the green eyes tracking her.
"Tori." Eden croaked, then closed her eyes again.
Tori`s head fell forward onto the pillow beside her lover`s and wept.