Looking back on it, Henri couldn't think of anything that *he* could have done. It had happened so quickly.
"How's he doing, H?" Henri looked up at Blair's concerned and hopeful face.
"He's in surgery. They won't tell me how he's doing."
Blair's face fell.
"He'll be okay, H. He's gotta be okay." Henri watched helplessly as the observer's eyes filled with tears. He pulled Blair down onto the bench. He could be the strong one, for Blair and for....
"Gentlemen? The doctor asked me to see if you'd like to visit your friend. He's in recovery and the doctor is waiting to explain what happened in surgery. This way please."
The two men followed the petite nurse through the sterile corridors. It was one of the longest walks in Henri's life. He was unable to keep from recalling the events that lead up to this gauntlet which was testing his emotional strength as no other event had.....
Four Hours Earlier
"Hey Hairboy, what are you doing here? I thought Jim had the day off. Besides, it's Saturday. Only us poor sods who pull the short straw have to come in on weekends" Henri pulled on a lock of curly hair as he passed the observer on his way to the snack dispenser.
"Not the hair man, not the hair!" Blair gasped theatrically. "I know it's Saturday. That's the problem. Jim has gone into this cleaning frenzy. I swear he's out to find the last dust bunny on the earth and they apparently are living beneath my futon. Anyway, there's a big football game down at the university and the noise is just incredible. Seeing as I have a huge term paper due Monday, I figured I'd use Jim's desk and hang out with all you suckers."
He gestured around at the empty bullpen, desolate except for Rafe and Brown.
"Cute, Blair. Very cute." Rafe interjected, looking up from his reports. "I'll have you know that the weekends are a time filled with action and adventure. Lots of criminals think that we let our guard down the weekend, but no! We stand on guard."
"Yeah, yeah. Just what has the incredibly busy world of crime coughed up for you intrepid 'weekend superheros'?"
Rafe blushed darkly as he dropped his eyes back down to the reports. Henri snorted. Blair moved over to stand behind Rafe, reading the files over the detective's shoulder.
"We've got four missing cats, a playground fight, and oh look...a mugging. Yes gentlemen, we have a crime. A real crime. Break out the capes and colour coordinated tights."
"Ha ha. I'll have you know that..." Rafe never got a chance to finish his sentence as there was a crash. The glass door of the bullpen shattered as a man threw himself through the pane. Shards of glass rained around him in a bizarre show of sparkles.
"Death to cops!" The unidentified man shouted unsteadily and pulled a gun from his trench coat pocket. Henri ducked behind a desk as the weapon registered on his consciousness.
"DIE!" The insane shriek barely gave them time to react as the man drew a bead, squarely on Blair. As his finger tightened on the trigger, Henry shouted, Blair froze, and Rafe....Rafe threw himself bodily at the observer, his arms going around the smaller man's chest, spinning them. Two guns fired, Henri having drawn his own weapon trying to prevent a tragedy. The mysterious man flew backwards, two shots to his chest, both from Brown's gun. But he was too late. Shouts sounded in the hall as officers began to respond to the disturbance.
"Henri. Oh god. Henri. Call an ambulance. Oh god." Henri scrambled around the desk and saw Blair, pushing a limp Rafe off of him, hands pressing against the small of Rafe's back where blood was beginning to stain the white shirt. "Henri? Help. Please."
Blair's voice broke Henri's shock and he fumbled for the phone. Within minutes he could hear the wail of sirens approaching. Brown crouched beside his partner, placing his jacket under his head. Rafe's eyelids fluttered.
"henri...get him?...blair? "
"Yeah, man. I got him. And Blair's fine. You did good, partner." He gently brushed the hair from Rafe's forehead. He looked over to Sandburg, worried about the paleness of the observer's face and the trembling in his arms.
"Keep the pressure on the wound Blair."
"Got it H. I got it." Blair looked at Rafe's face and then up to Henri. "He saved my life. If he hadn't...I'd be...I..."
Blair broke off as paramedics rushed into the room and knelt next to the prone detective and the fallen shooter. One quickly donned latex gloves and took over for Blair, applying a pressure bandage. Chaos ensued as officers swarmed the room, asking questions. Henri was pulled away from his partner as the paramedics worked. They quickly stabilized the man for transport and after telling Henri there was no room in the ambulance for him to ride along, they left in a flurry of medical jargon.
The stunned detective fell into habit as he calmly gave his report to the forensic officers who were bagging the shooter who had been declared dead on scene. In the confusion Henri saw Blair standing by Rafe's desk, staring at his hands, which were covered with blood. The blood had even soaked up into his shirt cuffs. After giving the last of his report to the officers, he made his way over Blair.
"How about we get you cleaned up and head over to the hospital?" He gently guided the shaken young man to the nearest bathroom and pulled off the blood-stained shirt. Thankfully Blair was into layers and had about three shirts underneath which had escaped damage.
"He's going to be okay. Right?" There was a childlike innocence to the question; a lot like when Henri's younger brothers would bring him broken toys when he was younger, assuming that he could fix them. But as when dealing with his younger brothers, Brown was unable to *not* give the reassurance that Blair needed. Even if he had no idea...and even if he felt in the pit of his stomach that it was going to be a close call whether his partner would survive.
They eventually reached the recovery room where a tired looking doctor was busy scribbling directions and vitals onto a chart.
"Doctor? Here are the friends of the police officer." The nurse passed them off to the harried surgeon.
"Is he okay?" Blair burst out, unable to contain himself. The surgeon smiled.
"This is Detective Rafe's lucky day. The bullet missed the spine by millimeters and managed to avoid any major organs. We were able to stop the bleeding and he should make a complete recovery. He'll just need to stay off his feet. Does he have any family that we can call and notify? He'll need some taking care of when he gets released."
"I'm his partner. Don't worry about that. He can stay with me if he has to," Brown declared resolutely. With an understanding smile, the doctor held open the door to the room.
"He's still under the anaesthetic and he won't be coming out of it for a while. But I know how you detectives are. Go on in."
Henri turned to Blair and gestured for him to precede him. To his surprise, Blair shook his head.
"He's your partner, H. He'll want you there. Trust me." With a happy grin, Blair went off in search of a phone to call Jim as Henri took a deep breath and entered the room. Rafe lay, pale and quiet, on the bed, tubes and monitor wires running under the sheet. Henri took a shaky breath and approached the bed, sinking into the hard plastic chair that squeaked a little on the waxed floor.
"Hey, partner. You look pretty wasted." Brown tried to smile as he grasped Rafe's limp hand in his own, pale tan on deep brown. His breath caught in his throat. It had been so close. Millimeters. A little bit to one side and....and...the thought was too unbearable to even think. Rafe almost died. Dead. Gone. Brown choked as he tried to talk to his partner.
"You're going to be fine. You can come stay at my place. I got a spare room. And you can get better." The first tears began to track their way down Henri's face as the emotions which he had pushed back began to overwhelm him. Finally able to put aside the role of "Strong One" he allowed himself to feel the pain, the fear and the hopelessness that had been present since the shooting. He bent over the side of the bed, resting his forearm by Rafe's side and placing his forehead on his arm, his other hand keeping a grip on Rafe's. His back shook as sobs shook him, pain being expunged to make room for relief. As he sobbed, the limp hand slowly began to move and clenched around his fingers, seeking and providing assurance that yes, all would be right. There would be healing.