For those of you who missed it, the first part of this story can be found here.



Forgiven, conclusion
By Cindy Gingrich


The next days passed uneventfully. Tess hoped that it was a sign that everything had blown over. Despite that, she phoned Liz Olivet, who was pleased to hear from her. Mike's reluctance to talk with Liz had already sent her out to his co-workers. She had spoken at length with Anita and Lennie, and also with Mike's previous partner and precinct commander. She had discovered that the Thompson child's death was not the first time that a child abuse case had wreaked havoc with him. She now suggested that it might be helpful for she and Tess to talk, and to include Colleen. Maybe they could shed some light on what was going on in Mike's head, now and in the past.
Life in the precinct had also returned to normal. Normal at least until Tuesday afternoon, when a call came in to Anita Van Buren. She slowly approached Lennie and Mike at their desks. She was shaken, rare for her. She looked back and forth slowly.
"What is it?"
"Jeremy Thompson. Lucas and McNeal just called it in. He's on his way to Mercy Hospital -- his father beat him up."
She saw Lennie scowl. "How bad?"
"They don't know. They're bringing Thompson in..."
"My God, this is my fault!" Mike looked at her, the color drained from his face.
"It's not your fault."
At that moment, the squad door burst open, and two uniformed officers entered with Robert Thompson between them. Mike rose, swearing, and Lennie grabbed him from behind. Thompson saw this and stopped before him, laughing wildly. "Yeah, psycho-cop. You got the wrong one!" Lennie tightened his grip as Thompson was pushed toward the holding cell.
"Mike, it's done. It's over now."
His partner turned toward him. He looked almost as crazed as Thompson. "I did this. How could I be so wrong? How could I be so stupid?"
"Mike --" Van Buren's expression was soft, concerned. "It happens. It's not --"
"I screwed up! Jesus, the kid could be dying because of me!"
"That's just not true." He wasn't listening. "Mike --"
"I'm going to the hospital. You said Mercy?" He met Van Buren's eyes. He wasn't wavering on this. She nodded. Then looked to Lennie for help. She had done that a lot lately. Lennie closed his eyes, nodding. He'd take care of it.



As soon as they arrived at the Mercy Hospital Emergency Room, Lennie went to the desk to inquire about the boy. There was no news and he sat down for what he suspected might be a long time. He watched his partner pacing the corridor. With each turn, Mike looked more and more upset. Lennie wasn't quite sure of what to do. Should he try to persuade Mike to leave? Should he phone Olivet? Or Tess, who worked at the hospital? He settled on the last -- she would soon be heading home anyway and Mike wouldn't be there.
He met her at the entrance to the wing, and explained what had transpired. Mike, upon seeing his wife, greeted her and kissed her, but then resumed his troubled pacing. Tess sat with Lennie, watching him, waiting, also not knowing exactly how to handle him.
It was well into evening when a young doctor appeared. He looked exhausted. Mike turned to him anxiously.
"The Thompson family?"
Lennie stood. "We're the case detectives." He showed his badge. "Both parents are in custody. How's the boy?"
The doctor shook his head. "Not good. We could take care of some of the damage, but he has serious head injuries. He's in a coma."
Tess had taken Mike's hand. He was freezing. "I want to see him," he demanded.
The doctor looked confused. Lennie quietly said, "We've been pretty close to this one. Just for a minute, okay?"
"All right. They'll be taking him to St. Mary's Bayside, first thing in the morning, if you'd let the family -- or the authorities -- know."
They entered the room. It was filled with life sustaining machines, beeping and humming. And one small boy. Mike watched him quietly for a moment. "No one even cares if he lives or dies," he said sadly, more to himself than to anyone else.
There was a commotion outside of the room, followed by the entrance of a well-dressed middle-aged couple, accompanied by the young doctor.
"Jeremy!" The woman cried.
The doctor was frazzled. "These are the boy's grandparents. You cops gotta leave, okay?"
At hearing his words, the woman spun on them, angrily. "Get out of this room! This is your fault!"
Mike looked at her, shaking his head. "I'm sorry --"
"Get out!"
Tess looked at the woman, biting her lip to keep from replying. Mike looked like he'd been slapped. "Come on --" She tugged gently. "Let's go home, okay?"
"I'm sorry, Tess," he said painfully.
"I know you are. Come home now." She took his hand tightly.
"I'll follow you, if you'd like." She smiled and nodded at Lennie. Thank God for Lennie, she thought, Mike was too big for her if there was a problem. Finally, thankfully, they left Mercy Hospital.



Once home, Mike was calmer. Tess persuaded him to take a couple of the sedatives that Liz had prescribed for him some months ago, and it was not long until he fell into a forced sleep. She emerged from the bedroom. "He's asleep. Lennie, thank you, I never would have gotten him home without you."
"No problem. You okay here?"
She nodded. Sighed. "I was thinking -- I was praying -- that this was all over, after he picked up the Thompson woman again. When he got home that night, I thought he'd be beat, working late the previous night, then Saturday too, but he was so excited." Her nervous rambling was stopped by the look of surprise on Lennie's face. "What? Let me guess -- you guys did not have to work late on Friday, nor did you have to work Saturday."
He shook his head ruefully. "No wonder he was the first one on the arrest. I'm sorry, Tess."
"Liz told me that it could get worse before it gets better. Maybe this is the bottom."
He smiled at her. He hoped so. He promised to call the next day.
She quietly readied herself for bed and carried Sam into the bedroom. Mike slept heavily. She watched him for a few moments, hugging Sam, then buried her face in her dog's neck and cried.



The next morning, she wondered if the sedative had not yet cleared his system. He agreed to see Olivet, without prodding. But by the time he sat across from her in her office, he wished he had done otherwise.
"Nothing personal, Doc, but I still don't want to be here. I guess if you screw up badly enough, this is what you get."
"How did you screw up, Mike?"
"You know what happened."
"Robert Thompson hit his son, you didn't."
"But I could have prevented it, if I hadn't been so damned sure of myself. I'm to blame for that kid."
"Do you think that you should go to jail for this along with Thompson?"
"I've become an impotent cop. That is jail."
This was clearly not going anywhere. She decided to try a new path.
"Mike, I'd like to change subjects. I'd like to talk about your mother."
"Why?" There was silence, a small stand-off. Then he grinned, sarcastically. "I was her biggest mistake, next to marrying my father." He said this proudly. "But then, I was the reason she married him."
"She became pregnant with you out of wedlock?"
"Yeah. A bastard child." He stopped. Olivet prodded him with her expression. "Com'on, you know this. Mutual hatred. She beat the shit out of me."
"Were you a bad kid?"
"I guess she thought so."
"How did she handle the assault by Father Krolinsky?"
A long silence. He had not expected the question. Finally, he said, without emotion, "She punished me for lying."
Liz had to struggle to keep her expression calm. She said, gently, "How does that make you feel?"
"I really don't give a damn any more." He looked at her coldly, then his eyes strayed away.
Another long pause. "Tell me about Meg."
He looked up quickly, warily, then said softly, "If you're asking about Meg, you must already know about her."
"How did she die?"
"She fell down a flight of stairs and broke her neck."
"You were there?"
"Yeah. You know I was. What is this, 'let's talk about all of Mike's major fuck-ups' or something?" He would not meet her eyes. A tenseness had crept into his voice, but it remained controlled and even.
"How was it your mistake?"
"I should have prevented it. I should have stopped my mother. It was my fight, not Meg's. I always took care of my sisters."
"Was that your job, as a 10 year-old?"
"It was my mistake, I let it happen."
"Was it your mistake with the Thompson children?"
He now raised his head, and for a long moment, they just looked at one another. Then, to her surprise, he said, calmly, "You know, when we were first at the scene, with the girl, I wanted to scream at the parents, 'How could you let this happen?!' Then I realized that I had done the same thing. I was just as guilty as they were." His eyes were filled with anger and disgust, at himself.



Lennie could tell when Mike had his sessions with Olivet, by his absence. Otherwise, his partner was sharp and focused, cool and calm. He told this to Van Buren, and to Olivet, when asked, and was thankful for the seeming return to normalcy.
Tess could tell when Mike had his sessions with Olivet, too. On those days, he avoided her completely. Things at home were strained. They had become polite strangers. They talked, they ate meals, they watched the Yankees. He did not touch her. Sam, not understanding, treated him like always, jumping up beside him on the couch, cuddling in his lap. It was the only time she saw her husband smile. But she couldn't bring herself to act that way, to ask for his attention. A few days after he started seeing Olivet, he and Lennie went on the 4:00 p.m. to midnight shift, and she was relieved. Less time together, less time he had to avoid her. She was becoming depressed.
Olivet maintained frequent contact with Van Buren and Teresa, to get feedback on Mike's behavior out of the office. Anita always gave a good report -- she seemed to have gained a better detective. But the last time she phoned Tess, Liz heard tears in her voice, and the sad statement that she had lost the man that she loved so much.
Tess knew it would take time. Liz had told her to be patient, to try to be understanding. On the next day that she and Mike were both off, she made him his favorite meal for dinner and filled his head with good wine. And she managed to entice him into her arms. Things had started out fine, but it soon became clear to her that while his hands were caressing her, his brain was not interested. She stopped him, gently but firmly pushing him away.
"Tess --"
"I'm sorry, I'm just tired --" He untangled his body from hers. In the dark, she couldn't see the anxiety on his face. They rarely made love in the dark -- maybe this time it had been a good thing.
She could hear his rapid breathing and feel the heat from him. The body was willing. But his touch had been mechanical, emotionless. She turned away as tears started down her face. She had learned long ago to hide her crying from bed partners. This was the first time that she had ever done so with Mike.
He reached out and touched her back, tentatively. "I'm sorry," he said meekly. Mike was never meek.
"It's okay," she lied.
"I love you."
"I love you, too. It's okay."
He couldn't tell if she was angry or hurt, he just knew that she was crying and that it was his fault. He did not sleep the entire night, only laid still, watching her.



The next morning, he phoned Liz, asking to see her as soon as possible. It was his worst session.
"I can see what's happening, like I'm watching myself push her away."
"Why do you think you're doing that?"
"I don't know! You're the doctor, you tell me!" The self-disgust was there again in his eyes, this time accompanied by fear. "I really love her, ya know? She's the only one that it's ever been right with. Why can't I act that way? I just keep hurting her -- I'm driving her away!"
"Do you think Tess loves you?"
"She says she does."
"Do you think that she has reason to not love you?"
She had hit a nerve. He took a deep breath, and looked at her painfully. "She found out what I did. I never told her about Meg. I couldn't let her know that I let my own sister die." Liz was silent, waiting. "She should hate me."
"Mike, do you think Tess should punish you for what you've done? Do you want her to leave you?"
"No, of course not. But --" He paused. She encouraged him. He struggled to find the words, but could not. Then his mood changed, visibly, and he said in an anguished voice, "I can't lose her. I'll go crazy if she leaves." The words hung between them.
The hour was ending, and she was a bit concerned about letting him go in this state of mind. But he looked as he always did at the end of a session, spent. He got up to leave.
"Mike. Maybe you should take it easy today."
"I'm okay. I can't just go home." She frowned. He looked at her a moment, then said, sadly, "By the time I get my head straight, it'll be too late."
"It takes time. She understands that."
"All I want is my wife and to be a good cop. Why can't I have just those two things?" He shook his head, and turned to the door.
"Mike --"
"I'm okay, Doc."
When she phoned the precinct later that day, Lennie said that Mike was fine, had come in charged up and ready to go.



While his latest session with Olivet had been difficult, it had also stirred something in Mike. He thought long and hard about what he had said, and what Liz had said, and things were starting to become clearer. In his head, he knew that he was not responsible for Meg's and Jeremy's lives. Viscerally, he still felt guilty. He needed forgiveness, from someone, but from whom he wasn't sure. In addition to this, he realized how much he missed his wife, though she had been there with him all along. He felt as if he had been away. He wasn't sure what he could do to make things better with her. He wasn't sure that he even deserved her anymore.
That afternoon, on his drive home, he heard on the radio that pitcher Andy Pettite was starting that night for the Yankees, against Boston. On his second date with Tess, now over a year ago, Pettite had pitched masterfully, striking out 10 of her beloved Red Sox. The next day he had sent her 10 roses. He remembered how happy it had made her. God, he missed her smile. When he got home, he phoned the same florist, and sent roses to her office, with a note: "Wish me luck! -- Andy Pettite"
When she walked in the door that evening, he grinned at her, and she burst into tears. It took him a few moments to realize that the woman crying in his arms was happy. After dinner, they watched the game, sitting on the floor with her between his legs, as they had often done the previous summer in her small apartment.
A simple thing, but it was heaven for her, just being this close to him. After the game, they went to bed and he pulled her close, for the first time in many days. "Tess, I'm sorry for all of this."
"I forgive you, but you've done nothing wrong. I love you, Mike. I need you."
"I'll get through this, I promise."
"I'm here." He kissed her in reply.
He remained in this mood for the next few days, occasionally a little awkward with her, but trying to please. She was elated. Her Mike was still in there.



It was Friday morning, and Anita smiled as she hung up her office telephone. For once, the District Attorney's office had called with good news. Jeremy Thompson had come out of his coma, after 16 days. The boy was awake, and the prognosis was good. He had survived. She was pleased to be able to tell her officers that, this time, they had won.
She stood and looked out at the busy squad room. Specifically at Logan. This should make his day. She had kept very close tabs on him since Robert Thompson had been arrested. Liz Olivet had been satisfied with their sessions, and Lennie had given her glowing reports. Mike was working hard, he was thinking things through. He was not making mistakes. She had even noticed that the cockiness that had always annoyed her was gone. She kinda missed it.
She left her office and approached them. "Lennie, Mike." They looked up from their work. "Abbie Carmichael just called. Jeremy Thompson came out of his coma. It looks like he's going to be okay."
Mike's reply was a broad grin, something she hadn't seen for a while. "My God, that's great! I thought we had lost the kid --" Lennie spoke for them both. The word spread throughout the squad room. One for the good guys.
"So... McCoy wants someone to talk with the boy as soon as possible. Abbie can't get free until around six. I hate to ask this, but --"
"We'll go, are you kidding?" Mike was thrilled. The extended shift was a small price to pay for seeing this kid alive again. When he phoned Tess to tell her that he'd be late, and the reason why, she sounded as happy as he felt.



On the drive to St. Mary's, Lennie thought a bit about the scene a few weeks back between Mike and Jeremy's grandmother. He didn't want to see a repeat of this, or worse. He need not have worried. At the hospital, they found out that Jeremy had told his grandparents that he would only talk to "the big cop with the black hair." And Mike was eerily skillful in his questioning of the boy, as if he knew the answers to his questions before he asked them. When Jeremy asked Mike if he would return to visit him, the detective was visibly moved.
Back at the precinct, Lennie offered to write up the report of the interview, but his partner refused. "Lennie, I haven't felt so good about something for a long time. Let me keep it for a little longer. Tess will understand." Lennie smiled and patted him on the shoulder, and left him to his report and his thoughts.
He got home after 10:00 p.m., to a hug from Teresa. "Hi, finally. Sorry so late." He bent and kissed her. Grinned. Kissed her again. "The kid was just fine, it went really well. Really well. And Van Buren was so pleased about everything that she gave us tomorrow off."
"That's a deal. I'm so happy for you guys, for the boy. I'm so proud of you." She reached up to stroke his cheek. Another time, weeks ago, this touch would have progressed further, but she was now as close as he would allow, she could tell. She smiled. She would wait.
"Hey -- so you're free tomorrow. You know I'm taking the girls to Harriman State Park?" He nodded. "Wanta come?"
He smiled gently, but shook his head. "I'll just hang out here with Sam. Do guy things." She nodded, but he could see that she was disappointed. "Tess --"
"It's okay, I understand."
"They don't know what's going on -- "
"It's okay, really." He was rubbing his neck, sore from hours at his desk earlier. "Let me do that."
"I'm all right, honey, just tired." She nodded again. Patience, Liz had said. Accept the small steps.
"Let's go to bed then. I need some sleep to be ready to handle these girls on the trails."
Once in bed, he leaned over in the dark and kissed her. "Is Janelle going?"
"Yes," she said with a bit of a laugh. Mike thought that Janelle was a handful.
"How early must I get up for this?"
"You don't have to go, really."
"No, you need me if Janelle's going. I want to go. I mean it."
"Okay. 7:00 a.m. I'll make sure you're up." She reached over and kissed him. "I'm glad you're going." He answered by pulling her close, and they drifted to sleep.



The day was gorgeous, warm with a cloudless blue sky. In addition to Janelle, Rebecca and Jen, two older members of the group, had made the trip to Harriman State Park. Tess and the young women were laughing and talking as they hiked the rocky trail. Mike was dragging a bit behind, in his own world. He was thinking about the previous day's visit with Jeremy when he heard someone calling his name. "Now what?" He thought, and ran up ahead. He found Janelle, in tears.
"Mike -- she fell -- she's not moving --" She pointed down a steep ravine. He looked in the direction she indicated. Tess was quite a way down, on her stomach, her body twisted awkwardly. He felt a cold sweat break out on his neck. For an instant, he saw Meg's crumpled body at the bottom of the stairs, and he froze. Then a tiny voice in his head said, "Save her, Mike."
He turned to Janelle. "Stay here." He shrugged off his backpack. "Get my phone out and call 9-1-1, tell them what happened. Okay?" She wiped her face, nodding.
He scrambled down the ravine, carefully, as quickly as he could. The rocks were jagged, and thorns scratched his bare legs. He knelt by his wife's still body.
"God, please." He touched her throat, breathing a sigh of relief at the gentle pulsing. Again, for a moment, fear gripped him -- this was Tess. Then the cop took over for the husband. He knew how to handle these things.
He put a hand to her face, to feel for her breath -- nothing. Jesus! How long had she not been breathing? He had to hurry. Gently, he turned her over onto her back and tilted her head, as taught. It was mechanical, practiced. No air got in when he tried to breathe into her. This unnerved him -- he swallowed hard.
"Think, Mike, you know this." Tess had never had convulsions, but he forced her mouth open, looking for a swallowed tongue. Something was blocking the air, but they hadn't eaten. While most of his mind was methodically going through the first aid procedures that had been drilled into him, the tiny voice started screaming in his head, "This is Tess! Don't screw it up!" A trickle of sweat ran down his face. Of course, of course! It had gotten hot, and she had been forcing this awful drink down their throats all morning. That was why she was choking.
The front of her T-shirt was torn and bloody, and he quickly saw that the adult choking technique would not do -- he would have to use a procedure for kids. He quickly pulled her onto her stomach, over his knee, and clapped her hard between the shoulders. Nothing happened -- she was limp in his arms, a rag doll. The scream in his head got louder. He closed his eyes and hit her again, as hard as he could. And she started to cough.
He held her, letting her body clear itself. He felt her draw in a breath, then another. Thank God, thank God...
"It's okay, Tess. Just relax, I'm right here," he said softly. Tess didn't hear him, he knew. He sat back, easing her onto her stomach. He wiped the froth from her mouth with his hand. Then carefully, he checked her for injuries, keeping an eye on the steady movement of her back, up and down. Nothing serious. She was breathing. As he touched a hand to her head, his vision blurred, and he let the tears fall.
He heard branches breaking above his head, and looked up to see a park ranger on his way toward them. "How're we doing here?"
"She's okay, nothing seems broken. But she must have hit her head. She was unconscious and not breathing, choking -- I'm not sure for how long."
"And you did?"
"She's banged up, here." He motioned on his own chest. "So I put her over my knee, like for a kid." He met the ranger's eyes. "I'm a cop. She's my wife."
The ranger nodded. "You okay?" Mike gave a nod. "We've got two guys up above -- we'll get her out of here."
Beneath Mike's hand, Tess stirred. She groaned.
"Lie still, honey." He stroked her hair. "You're fine -- we're taking care of you."
"Mike --" Upon hearing her voice, lucid, he felt yet another wave of relief wash over him.
"I'm right here."
She tried to turn and gasped in pain.
"Easy, ma'am. Let us do that." They eased her onto her back, and she looked up hazily at a red-haired young man in a ranger uniform and a very concerned cop.
"Did I fall?" Mike nodded, smiling gently. "Oh, God, I'm sorry. Mike, I'm sorry! Did I break anything?"
"Nope, I think you're okay. You were knocked out though." She frowned and tried to sit up. A hand went to her stomach in pain. "Lie still," he admonished. He eased her shirt up -- a large bruise was starting to grow.
"A rock. Or a root. That was your problem," the ranger said. "We'll take her over to Hudson Valley and get her checked out."
They both rode with her in the ambulance. Mike sat quietly, a hand on her arm, watching her. "Do you feel good enough to tell me what you remember, ma'am?" The ranger asked quietly.
"There wasn't much. There was a snake in the path -- it ran across in front of us. Some of the girls are kinda afraid of snakes. We jumped out of the way. I lost my footing, off the side of the trail. I was just getting scratched, but then my foot caught and I fell forward. I hit something hard -- that's all I remember."
"I'm guessing she hit her head, then a rock caught her in the stomach. That's what caused the choking." Mike nodded. Tess looked back and forth at them. "You'd better hold on to this guy, ma'am, he saved your life." She looked at Mike with wide eyes. He merely smiled.
"Mike --"
"I think you owe me a lifetime of service or something. Isn't that how it goes?"
Her fingers sought his arm and closed tightly around it. He covered her hand with his, and met her eyes. The ranger looked away, giving them what privacy he could.
"I love you. Thank you --" She whispered, her eyes tearing.
"Anytime." He bent and kissed her tenderly.



Lennie peered in through the hospital room window blinds. Tess was curled up, looking tiny in the bed. She appeared to be asleep. His partner sat in a chair next to the bed, eyes closed, still wearing his hiking boots. His arm was snaked through the bars on the bed, fingers intertwined with his wife's.
Lennie took a deep breath. Mike had been calm on the telephone. On the drive out, Lennie had talked with a ranger from the park and had gotten a full report on what had happened and what his partner had done. He knocked gently, and pushed open the door. Mike looked up. He smiled, a bit wearily.
"Lennie. Thanks for coming out."
"No problem. How's she doing?" He came closer.
"She's fine. A little punchy -- they want to keep her overnight. Slight concussion. Everything else checks out."
"How are you?"
He sighed. "Okay. I could use a drink."
Lennie smiled. "You're becoming a bit of a celebrity around here."
Mike rolled his eyes. "The ranger told you?" Lennie nodded. "Does Tess know what happened?"
"Yeah." He started to speak further, then stopped. Lennie let him take his time, guessing that Mike needed to get this out. "I almost lost her." He looked up with pained eyes. "It was like I was holding my whole life in my arms, like I was getting another chance. I was terrified. I could see that I had to really pound her to get her breathing again. I didn't want to hurt her." He paused, looked down. "Something took over so I could do it. I was shaking so hard that I could barely hold her."
"Looks like you did okay."
"Thank God --"
The nurse interrupted their conversation. She smiled. "If you gentlemen could give us a half hour or so, I'd like to get Mrs. Logan up and get her some dinner."
Even Lennie winced. Tess used her married name under duress only. "It's good she's sleeping," Mike laughed.
"I suspect that today she wouldn't mind being a Logan."
The nurse's movements woke Tess, and she immediately asked for Mike. "I'm right here." He bent over and kissed her gently. "Lennie's here to see you."
She smiled and reached out her hand. He took it and squeezed it. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm okay. I'm feeling very clumsy."
"So much for the outdoorswoman," he teased. "You're just trying to make Mike look good."
She nodded. "You should get him out of here for a while -- he's being a mother hen."
"Okay, okay. But they're not kicking me out of here tonight."



She had asked to talk with Janelle, Jen and Rebecca before Lennie drove them back to the city, to make sure that they were okay, and so they could see that she was, too. And to try to get a feel for how Mike had been throughout the ordeal. The three young women hugged her gently. Janelle was grinning, and Tess had to smile at her. "What is it?"
"He was like Super Cop, Tess, he just ran down that mountain to save you!" Tess laughed, but did not miss the slight smile that Janelle's exuberance elicited from Rebecca. She was the oldest, almost 18. Tess looked at her, questioningly.
Rebecca nodded. "He was Mike the cop, till he knew you were okay. Then he was Mike the husband." She motioned with her fingers, of tears. Tess' face registered sadness. "Don't you lose him, Tess, he's a good man. He loves you."
Lennie and Mike returned soon after, and with a wry smile, Lennie left with his charges.
"You should sleep some more." Mike smiled. God, he seemed...calm. Normal. She nodded and eased herself back down in the bed. He leaned over to kiss her forehead. "I'll be here if you need me."
"I love you."
"I love you too." He sat again in the chair next to her and took her hand. Sleep soon came.



When she woke the next morning, light was just starting to come in through her window. A dim light was on at the bedside. Mike still sat next to her, hand in hers. He had pulled down the bed bar on his side and his dark head was still, against her. She ruffled his hair. He turned sleepily and smiled. Sat up and stroked her cheek. "How do you feel?"
"A little sore."
He nodded. "I'll take you home. I'll be a good nurse."



At the apartment, it was slow going up the front steps and he finally bent down and picked her up in his arms. She giggled. "Hey, cops do this all the time. I'm not hurting you, am I?" She responded by putting her arms around his neck. He gently carried her to their door.
Ann was there, waiting, with Sam. She hugged Tess, then seeing that her friend was in good hands, made her excuses. Mike doted on her the whole day, cooking for her, gently helping her take a bath. Soothing her when the cuts and scrapes stung. He finally talked her into an early bedtime.
"I'm gonna get you all better." He sat on the bed, teasing back the strands of her hair, one by one, almost playfully. She teared up at this, and reached to cover her face. "It's okay, it's okay. I know this scared you, it scared us both. But you're home and safe now." He carefully pulled her into his arms and held her against his chest. "Everything's going to be all right. But I never want to be so close to losing you again, ever."
He quietly checked on her later. She slept soundly. Sam was curled up at her feet -- no need to shoo him off the bed tonight. He smiled, watching her sleep. Thoughts about the past weeks rushed in and out of his mind. He, Mike Logan, was two things, first and foremost -- a cop, and a husband. Equally important. In the last three weeks, being a cop had nearly cost him his sanity. It had also saved the life of the woman that he loved.
The demons were gone from him. And he had received the forgiveness that he had so desperately sought. He had thought so when Jeremy Thompson smiled up at him from his hospital bed. He had been sure of it when he felt Tess draw her first ragged breath on the mountainside. The weeks of horror and anguish and fear and joy purged themselves in a rush of tears. He sat down next to Tess and kissed her, and wept.
That night, for the first time in what seemed like forever, he slept peacefully.



He stayed home the next day to care for her. In the evening, they made love, very gently, very carefully. He held her afterward in his arms, thinking how very lucky he was. He had gotten his life back.



It was a hot summer night, the air thick, almost dripping with vapor. He could hear her frightened voice, calling for him. He could see her, just ahead of him. He had to get to her, help her. Save her. He reached out in the dark. His hand touched something warm. There was a flash of light, and a crash.
He woke fully, as his wife crawled into his arms. Teresa was afraid of thunderstorms. He grinned and gathered her close, tenderly. Lovingly.
"You're safe, honey."
"Just hold me, please, Mike --" She was trembling. God, he felt male. He kissed her temple.
"I will. I love you, Tess. I'm here, I'll always be here."

end


whaddya think?