Authors Notes: Late (okay, very late) Answer to the June 2006 Themefic Request on SenA: Rafe [is] severely injured and sustain[s] permanent disabilities that [force him] to create a completely different life.
Warnings: Permanent Disability of Minor Character. AU.
Disclaimers: Not mine. Just borrowed.
"Impact force to the temporal region may not cause a fracture but may lead to possible conductive or sensorineural hearing loss." The Merck Manuals: Online Medical Library
It all happened, as these things do, too quickly. There was nothing anyone could have done to prevent it, although Henri Brown agonized over it, long after the incident was over. No police officers can accept the loss of their partners with any equanimity.
From the first small photo spread, he was a sensation. There was something about his eyes, something intense, startling, and hurt.
The two detectives were heading out to check out a lead in their most pressing case, the death of a prominent local theatre manager. The main suspect in the case was a visiting casting director, up from Hollywood, checking out the local talent. Jaser Nuri had been responsible for sending several talented character actors to the "big time," and casting directors had started showing up with some regularity to find the next possible star, depending upon Nuri to make their jobs easier.
However, Nuri had taken a dislike to one persistent visitor, Gizi Jolan. Jolan was obnoxious, loud, and mulishly stubborn, often all at the same time. Three times she had come up and tried to cast one of Nuris actors in the television show, Downtime, for which she worked, only to find her choices already under contract, two for movie roles and one for a rival networks newest comedy. She thought Nuri was deliberately screwing her over, and she wasnt shy about letting him, and everyone else, know it.
"Hey, Handsome," H had teased Rafe just that morning, "Maybe youll be discovered while we work this case."
Rafe just snorted indelicately and made a rude gesture. "You trying to tell me something, H? You want a new partner? Maybe someone who can play the tuba?"
Of course, neither man meant what he said. It was part of their usual routine. Henri would make comments about his partners looks or legendary fastidious nature, and Rafe would counter back with comments about Henris loud clothing and his fondness for his clarinet.
Although Jolan was a suspect, neither man was particularly worried about her when they entered the Cascade Hilton and rode the elevator up to her room. After some preliminary questions after Nuris death the day before, she had been admonished to stay in Cascade. Angrily, she had agreed and given them the information about where she was staying.
Using the lobby phone, Rafe had called up to make sure she was actually in and to let her know that the two of them were heading up. Although she was their main suspect, they didnt have enough evidence to bring her down to the station (yet), so they were meeting her for a more formal discussion in these more comfortable surroundings. Because they hadnt let on that she was their main suspect, they didnt expect any real trouble.
The photographs led to a series of print ads. The print ads led to a Cleo Award-winning television advertisement, a stylish, film noir-ish mini-movie selling, of all things, a relatively new brand of baked goods. Sales skyrocketed. A star was born.
A bullet came right through the door, hitting Rafe in the shoulder and sending him flying backward, slamming his head into the doorknob of the room directly across the hall. The sound of his skull hitting the metal echoed down the empty corridor, following the still reverberating sounds of the bullet itself.
Reacting swiftly, H threw himself to the floor, already on his cell phone, calling for an ambulance and backup and a warning to the hotel, even as he was working out the best way to retrieve his injured partner from his dangerous, out-in-the-open position. H sometimes projected the image of a clown, but he was a masterful strategist in dangerous situations.
Rafe was out cold, blood soaking both his face and his suit. He would be unable to help his partner or himself.
H finished sizing up the corridor. The alcove with the ice machine was three doors past Jolans. He took a deep breath, planning to make a running start, grab his partner up, and move them to the relative safety of the little side room. Once there, he could keep one eye on the corridor and make some effort to stop the bleeding until additional help could arrive.
Yet, even as he started to move, he saw the door swing open. Stopping his forward movement, lying awkwardly on his belly, he held his gun on the door, yelling, "Freeze, Cascade PD. Throw the gun out and come out with your hands up!" There was no response at first and then, as suddenly and confusingly as it all began, it was over. Jolans gun slid into view across the floor, and she came out with her arms held fully extended above her head.
H made quick work of handcuffing her, not bothering to read her her rights as he let backup know the situation, reiterated his need for an ambulance, and started trying to see how badly Rafe had been hurt.
Even as was trying to put pressure on Rafes wounds with his own handkerchief and Rafes, two senior patrolmen showed up to take his prisoner into custody. "Read her her rights before you take her down." H didnt want her to get off on any kind of technicality. He listened as she quietly answered that yes, she understood, and, then, thankfully, she was hauled out of his sight.
Next, the corridor got very crowded very quickly. Simon Banks appeared to take control of the scene, followed quickly by the Forensics Team, two exceedingly welcome EMTs, and fellow Major Crimes detectives, Joel and Megan, both looking worried and angry.
Although he had desperately wanted to ride with Rafe to the hospital, H allowed Megan to go in his place so that he could remain at the crime scene and give Simon all the particulars. Simon reassured him that he and Rafe had done nothing wrong and couldnt have expected this outcome, but both men knew that H would be feeling guilty for a long time to come.
By the time they got to the hospital, several hours had passed. Rafe was already out of surgery and in recovery. An orthopedic surgeon had repaired the damage to his shoulder blade which had been shattered by the bullet. He would need extensive physical therapy to regain the free use of his arm, but it was expected that he could and would get back up to 90% of the arms mobility. Since it was not his shooting arm, his colleagues sighed with relief.
More troubling, however, was the head wound. A large bruise covered the entire temporal region of the left side of his head, and his skull had suffered a minor crack. Whether he had suffered any type of traumatic brain injury, however, was a something that would not, could not, be assessed until he awoke. Because of the location of the injury, doctors were mostly concerned with the very real possibility of partial or complete loss of hearing in the affected ear.
Simon had driven H and Joel to the hospital, and the pair joined Megan, who had been joined by Jim and Blair, to await further word. While H was uncharacteristically quiet, Simon filled the others in on what had had happened and the fact that the suspect had a lawyer flown in by her network.
No one in Major Crimes was going to be objective enough to finalize this case, and the majority of the work had all been done anyway. Henri would share credit for the bust, but he was obviously too close to the situation to continue with it. Simon had asked Captain Sparks to take on the closure, and the other man had agreed, knowing how damn difficult it was to handle a case departmentally when there were victims in the department.
Epilogue: Jaser Nuris assistant, Arsenio Candan, stepped in and took over the role as Theatre Manager, picking up on Nuris connections in Hollywood as well. It was Candan, in fact, who set Rafe up with the man who would become his agent when the worst case scenario came true.
Rafes arm did heal back to almost 90% of pre-injury mobility, but he never did regain the hearing in his injured ear. A detective could work with the first, but not the second, not and remain a full-fledged working detective. Not that the PD fired him or tried to put him on disability. There were plenty of places for him at the station, but if he couldnt return to his long-coveted place in Major Crimes, and his partnership with H, then he knew he couldnt stay on. He needed a change, a complete break.