Chapter Four of Fire by Hunterseyelandgrl
(A few days later)
I sit at my desk, silently counting down the hours until I get off of work. After the incident in Mary Barnes' basement , I threw myself into work more than usual in the hope that I wouldn't think about it if my mind was otherwise occupied. It didn't work for a minute. Now that Evangeline and I are together, I count the hours down until the next time I can see her. It's the highlight of my day when she occasionally drops by the station to say hi or to have lunch with me. It scares me to admit it, but I'm falling for her and fast.
Another glance at the clock tells me that I've been sitting idly for the past ten minutes. This is bad. I can't even concentrate on my work for more than a few minutes at a time. I sigh and run my hands through my hair, looking up suddenly at the rapid knocking on my office door. Before I can say "Come in", Nora bursts into my office.
"What's the matter Nora? You look pretty upset."
She lets out a short humourless laugh and says, "I'm sure you would be upset if you went to Evangeline's office and found her unconscious!"
"What happened to her? Where is she now!?"
"She's at the hospital. She still hasn't woken up yet, but the doctors say that her CAT scan is normal. I don't know what happened. I stopped by her office to see if she wanted to grab a bite to eat and she was just there, sprawled out on the floor. A few files were on the floor near her desk, like she fell and tried to grab the desk, but her hand slid."
There are a million thoughts and feelings going on in my head right now. One is concern for Evangeline and another is wanting to hunt Sonia and RJ down and torturing them until they tell me what's going on. Because I know that they're connected to this whole thing. Not so much Gannon as Sonia.
But as much as I want to exact my revenge on those two, my biggest concern is Evangeline. I stand up, slowly and grab my jacket off of the hook.
"Where are you going?" Nora asks.
"To the hospital to see how Evangeline is doing. You coming?"
"Yeah. I'll drive. I don't think we need to get to the hospital on a stretcher."
I'm about to protest when I realize that she's right. When I'm worried or mad, I drive like a maniac and I don't want to get picked up by one of my officers for speeding.
We get into her car and make the drive over to the hospital. A drive that's normally quick, but today seemed to take a million years. Before Nora can finish parking, I jump out of the car and head towards the entrance. Nora has to run to catch up to me.
Fortunately for me, the first person I see is my brother, so I go over to him.
"Hey, John, what are you doing here?"
"I'm looking for Evangeline, she was brought in a little earlier."
He smirks and says, " You look worried. Is she a special friend?"
"Mikey look at me. Does it look like I'm in the mood to joke around?" I snap.
"Jeez! Don't have a cow. I'll take you to her."
He leads us to a small room and motions us in. "She woke up for a few minutes, but we gave her some pain medication and it knocked her right out."
He nods and walks away, leaving Nora and I standing on opposite sides of the bed.
"She doesn't look as pale as she was before." Nora comments. I only nod.
We just stand watching her for a few minutes until Nora says, "I'm going to leave you two alone. When she wakes up, or if you get any news, can you call me?"
"No problem. Thanks for coming to get me."
She smiles. "You're welcome."
After she leaves, I stand, thinking for a moment. I go outside and make a brief phone call to Antonio, to tell him where I am and that I probably won't be back at the station for a while. Then I go back inside the room and stand over Evangeline, watching her sleep.
She looks so unnaturally small in the hospital bed. And so peaceful. I shake my head slowly and sit in the chair next to the bed, taking her hand in mine.
"This is all my fault. I should have never let you go through with this plan."
"It's not like you could have really stopped me from doing it." a low, sleepy, yet familiar voice says.
My head snaps up so fast, I'm surprised I don't have whiplash. "You're awake! Took you long enough."
She laughs and I immediately feel a whole lot better. If she's laughing, then whatever's wrong isn't that serious.
"I do things on my own time. You of all people should know that." she says with a flirtatious smile and a wink. Under normal circumstances, I would probably have taken that as an open invitation, but these aren't normal circumstances.
"That's just a nice way of saying that you're lazy."
"That's not what you said a few days ago." she quips.
I can feel a deep blush rising in my cheeks. I never blushed as a teenager, but all of a sudden I'm blushing left and right.
"Ha-ha. I'm glad to see that being in a hospital hasn't dampened your sense of humour and your repertoire of witty come-backs."
"I try." she says, with an amused grin.
"So you wanna tell me what happened?"
"Well, I'm sitting in my office going over some stuff for Kelly's custody trial, and Sonia -
"I knew it! What did she say to you?"
"I could tell you if you didn't interrupt."
She gives me a look and continues. "Sonia barges into my office and demands to know what's my real motive for hanging around with RJ. I didn't want to blow our cover, so I told her that I missed him and I wanted him back." She pauses and studies me for a minute.
I know what she said about RJ isn't true, but for some reason, it still makes me insanely... jealous. Hmmm. I don't remember being jealous too many times before with all the other women I dated. There goes another sign. A sign of what? I don't know and I probably wouldn't figure it out if it hit me in the head. I really am dense sometimes.
I look up to find Evangeline giving me a curious look and an amused smile.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
"You're jealous!" she exclaims, laughing. "You're jealous even though you know it isn't true."
I smile and cross my arms. "So what if I am? You got a problem with it?"
She shakes her head and a few locks of her hair reposition themselves in front of her eyes. I reach out and tuck them behind her ear, cupping her cheek gently. She looks at me and places her hand over mine, rubbing her thumb over the back of my hand. I smile briefly before moving closer to her and placing a gentle kiss on her lips. A kiss that soon became passionate with all of our current feelings flying around. Is it just me, or are there sparks flying out of our eyes? I guess it's just me.
"I'm glad to see that your special friend woke up John." Michael. He always lacked that certain quality of being tactful. He's somehow managed to walk in on me and every girlfriend I've ever had. He ruined my first ever kiss for goodness sakes.
Evangeline and I separate reluctantly. "You know, after all these years, you're still an annoying pain in the butt."
"I didn't do it on purpose this time, I promise. I was just coming to check on Ms. Williamson."
"Oh, please, call me Evangeline. I'm guessing that you're John's brother. I've heard a lot about you." she says, holding out her hand, which he promptly shakes. If she wasn't in a hospital bed, he'd probably be strangling her half to death in one of his bear hugs.
He smiles and steps up to me, clapping me lightly on the back. "So you really don't disown me like you say that you do. I feel so loved."
I roll my eyes and slap him not so lightly on the back. "Don't get so excited. I only tell people all of your most embarrassing stories."
"That's not true. You're always talking about how proud you were of him when he graduated from high school with honours, even though he was always goofing off."
I groan. "Aren't you supposed to be on my side Evangeline?"
"Not when you're mean to your little brother." she answers, giving me a small smile.
Michael just stands there grinning.
"How about the little brother does what he came in here to do and gets lost afterwards?" I say, my voice dripping with syrupy sweetness.
"But of course the said brother will be joining us for dinner later this evening. I want to get to know him better and hear embarrassing stories of John's childhood... if he doesn't already have plans." she says, after seeing the uneasy glance he casts in my direction.
Apparently Evangeline doesn't know that when you go to the hospital unconscious after a head injury, they keep you overnight for observation. And I refuse to tell her just to make Michael's life easier. Make him face the wrath of Evangeline. That'll teach him to gang up on me. I grin at him and raise my eyebrows.
"Um, Evangeline, actually, you have to stay overnight for observation."
"I have a case to prepare for! There's nothing wrong with me and so there's no reason to keep me here."
"Well it's hospital policy. Anything can happen and it'll be a liability for the hospital."
"Can't I leave AMA?"
I take this as my cue to step in. Besides, her eyes are starting to flash dangerously and I don't really want Evangeline to get mad at Michael. Because I know from experience that when she get's riled up, it takes her a while to settle down.
"No you can't leave AMA, Evangeline."
"You don't get a say in this."
She can be so stubborn sometimes.
"What if something does happen when you're at home and nobody can get to you until it's too late? How do you think it will make me and Nora and everyone else feel? Besides, you can't do anything for your clients if you're lying in a coma from a brain bleed."
I can tell that this is an argument that I'm winning easily. Or rather an argument that I've already won. She sits back with a resigned sigh.
"Fine. Under one condition. Michael joins us for breakfast tomorrow at the country club-
I groan loudly at this suggestion. I won't have Nora to save me from having to play tennis or putting on those ridiculous outfit. But on the plus side, Michael will probably have to put on the outfit and play tennis, which he sucks at.
Evangeline gives me a pointed look and says, "AND you can't make me eat the horrible hospital food."
"That's two conditions." I reply.
"Two conditions that shouldn't be a problem to meet." Michael says quickly, granting himself another smile from Evangeline as he leaves the room.
I turn back to face her and she smiles. "So that's my younger brother."
"He seems pretty nice."
"He's a great person. Sort of a goofball at times, but still great."
"I thought you only said embarrassing things about him."
"Hey, are you going to finish telling me how you ended up unconscious?" I ask, abruptly changing the subject. It would be too hard to explain the whole weird relationship between a younger sibling and an older sibling, seeing as how she's an only child. Michael knows I love him and I would do anything to help him, but we joke around and pretend not to show affection to each other. In reality, that is our showing each other affection.
"Very smooth, Detective. Very smooth." she says, sarcastically.
"I may not be the smoothest, but you still chose me." I say.
"That's true. Very true indeed." she says before resuming the kiss that was previously interrupted.
And of course was destined to be interrupted again.
"So this is why nobody called me." Nora's voice says, sounding more amused than annoyed, so I know it's not a big deal.
"Well we got a little sidetracked. But the point is that you're here now." I say.
"I hope you brought food, Nora. I'm starving."
"When aren't you hungry?" Nora and I both ask at the same time.
"Ha-ha. You two are so funny. Seriously, did you bring food?"
"A cheeseburger with everything and a side of extra crispy french fries. And a non- alcoholic Shirley Temple."
I've long since stopped trying to figure out where Evangeline puts all the food she eats. But it's good that she's a healthy eater. My mom will love her. She's smart, funny and as an added plus, she's got the perfect kind of appetite for my family gatherings, a huge one.
"Thanks Nora. You're the best."
"Hey, what are friends for? And John don't think I forgot you. A cheeseburger with everything with a side of onion rings and a Coke."
I take the parcel that she hands to me and say, "Thanks Nora. You really pay a lot of attention to what other people eat."
She laughs at that. "Do you think that it's possible to be friends with Evangeline and not pay attention to food? As a matter of fact, if it weren't for Evangeline, I think that I would still be eating takeout and ready made meals all the time."
"You're saying that Evangeline can cook?" I ask.
"What do you mean by that? Of course I can cook." Evangeline protests.
"All I'm saying is that the owner of every restaurant in town knows you by name."
"When I cook, I make a huge, extravagant meal. And when I'm just cooking for myself, it gets boring eating leftovers for the next week and a half."
"Oh! I have a great idea!" Nora say, excitedly.
"I'm scared to ask what it is."
"You're going to find out anyway, so you might as well."
I look at Evangeline, who only shakes her head and smiles, as if to say, "You got yourself into this, you find a way out".
"Okay. What is this great idea you have Nora?"
"Well since, Evangeline likes to cook, I love Evangeline's cooking, John and Daniel have never had Evangeline's cooking, then Evangeline can make dinner one night and we can have a double date of some sorts. To replace the one that got interrupted."
"You know, I just love how you volunteer my services."
"Well of course I'll help."
"Do our stomachs want you to help, Nora?" I ask.
Both women turn their heads and look at me silently.
"What? Nora just said that she couldn't cook before you taught her."
"Well, Nora can still help with some stuff, though I generally don't let people into my kitchen."
"It's true, she get's really territorial. But I guess it's not without cause. Her kitchen looks like it belongs to a restaurant. Everything is state of the art."
"Sounds like my dream kitchen." I say.
"You have a dream kitchen? This I've got to hear." Evangeline says, grinning at me with an impish look in her eyes.
And even though I know they're both going to laugh, I decide to tell them anyway, because I know it'll make her happy.
"My dream kitchen has stainless steel appliances, you know, stove, refrigerator, freezer, etc. And it has to have a window and black marble counter tops. And I have to have a spice rack and a closet specifically for kitchen linens: dish towels, oven mitts, all the works. But it definitely has to have somewhere for me to hang my apron." I added the last part for fun. I wouldn't get caught dead in an apron.
I'm watching Evangeline and Nora, waiting to see what their reactions will be. I don't have to wait long. Pretty soon, Nora snorts, setting Evangeline off. They both look so comical, rolling around in hysterical laughter that even I have to laugh. I'm pretty sure that the other patients and doctors probably think that we're a bunch of psycho's. Because every few minutes, hysterical laughter can be heard coming from the room.
When we all stops laughing, Nora looks at me and says, "You, in an apron?" setting off a whole new bout of giggles. I shake my head and smile.
"What's wrong with me wearing an apron. Men cook too, you know."
Evangeline stops laughing long enough to say, "It's funny because it's hard to imagine you wearing jeans, much more an apron."
"I hate to put a damper on all the fun we're having, but I would really like to find out how I came to find you unconscious in your office." Nora says.
We all immediately stop laughing. I give Evangeline a reassuring look and pick up her hand, squeezing it gently.
"Ok, so as I was saying before, Sonia Toledo barges into my office and asks me what the deal is with me and RJ. At first I tried to avoid the question by telling her that it really wasn't any of her business. But she wouldn't give up and I was really getting tired of her and I wanted her to get the hell out of my face so I said that I missed RJ and wanted to get him back- OW!"
"What's wrong Evangeline? Do you want me to get a doctor?" Nora asks, anxiously.
"I'll need one pretty soon if John doesn't stop trying to pulverize my hand." she says, giving me a pointed look.
It's only then that I realize that I've been holding her hand pretty tightly. I give her a sheepish look and release her hand.
"Thank you. So she asks me if since I was going after RJ, was John up for grabs. So I tried to play it cool and said that I didn't care who she went after as long as it wasn't RJ. And she looked at me for a minute and said that I was nothing but a two timing slut and a liar. Because apparently, her "people" saw John and I together. Luckily it was before the incident at Rodi's, so I told her about the whole debacle in the hopes that she would get off of my back. No such luck. Because her goons followed me that night and saw me go to the police station.
She was really ticking me off and so I said that maybe if she wasn't spending so much time chasing after Antonio who obviously doesn't want to have anything to do with her she would have enough time and brain power to figure out that I know other people at the station other than John. She had the audacity to slap me. Of course I slapped her back and told her to get out of my office before I called security. She refused to leave so I called security for them to escort her out of the office. And this is the really funny part. As they were leaving, Sonia kicked out and hit me in the knee and I grabbed my chair to keep from falling. I forgot that my chair has wheels and put too much of my weight on it and it slid out from underneath my hand. I knew I was going to fall so I tried to grab the edge of desk, but I only succeeded in pulling all of my files off of my desk. I hit my head on the edge of the desk and the next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital."
Throughout the whole time Evangeline was telling her story, I could feel the anger bubbling up inside of me. And before I could realise, it burst out of me as I say, " That's it! I'm taking you off of this case. I shouldn't have let you do it in the first place."
Evangeline's eyes flash dangerously as she says, "You can't tell me what to do!"
"I just remembered that I promised Matthew I would take him to the movies tonight." Nora says, making a hasty retreat. I watch as she leaves, turning back to Evangeline when the door swings shut.
"I told you this was dangerous Evangeline. I just didn't realize how dangerous until today. I know that you only have a concussion now, but the next time it might be a stab wound or a bullet wound. I just can't risk it."
Evangeline shakes her head impatiently. "This is the thing. This isn't about you risking it. It's about me risking it and I'm willing to do it. You can't keep treating me like a five year old, John."
"I don't think you understand. I'm sure that you've heard about the circumstances of Caitlin's death and how I blamed myself for it. I don't still think that I'm responsible for her death because there was nothing I could do. But I do know that if I wasn't a cop, that she might not have been killed. And I refuse to let my job hurt someone else that I care about so deeply, especially when I have the chance to do something . So if that means risking you staying mad at me from pulling you off of this RJ surveillance scheme, than I'm willing to risk that. But I'm not willing to risk anything else."
I look up to find that Evangeline's eyes are filled with tears and she's just looking at me silently, a huge grin playing at her lips.
"Well congratulations. You're the first ever person to render me speechless. That's the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me and if it really means that much to you, I'll stay away from RJ and Sonia and the whole Santi case. To tell the truth, the whole thing is getting a little tired."
I can't help but to laugh at that. "I'm getting more than a little tired of it myself."
We sit in introspective silence for a few minutes until Evangeline asks, rather curiously, "What would you have done if I didn't agree to stay away from the Santi case?"
"I have no idea. Probably put you in protective custody."
"I really hope you're joking John."
I look at her and say, "Do I look like I'm joking? I would have seriously put you in protective custody. Even though, I must say, I was a little worried about what you might do to the guards."
She gives me a look of mock indignation. "What's there to be worried about?"
"You get a little...violent when you're provoked."
"Me? Violent?" she says, putting her hand to her chest, " You must be talking about a different Evangeline Williamson. I'm extremely peace loving."
"So peace loving that you almost broke a girl's nose in high school and you almost broke your own toe when you kicked your couch while barefoot, because when you sat down, you missed the seat and fell on the floor?"
"How did you find out that you almost broke someone's nose in high school? I certainly didn't tell you that story."
"Just wait until I see her. I'm gonna kill her!" Evangeline says, giving me a confused look when I start to chuckle.
"A normal peace loving person would not be threatening to kill their best friend, Evangeline."
She laughs at that, shaking her head. "Alright, I admit it, I'm a little violent. But that's all you're going to get me to admit for one night. Besides, you know I would never really kill Nora."
"I know. But it's so funny to watch your cheeks get red when I tease you. And it's the only time you're ever speechless."
I look up to find that her eyes are closed and she has a peaceful half smile on her face. I stand to rearrange her sheets so that they're covering her properly, and as I try to fix her pillow, she grabs my wrist and says, "I'm not sleeping, John."
"I think to be able to truthfully make that argument, you have to actually open your eyes." I remark with a chuckle.
"Ok fine. I am tired, but I don't want to go to sleep because I know the minute I do, you'll be chasing Sonia and RJ down."
"I promise I won't do that. Not tonight anyway. But I do have to go down to the station to finish up some paperwork."
A forlorn look crosses Evangeline's features and just as suddenly as it appeared, it was gone. I took up her hand gently and ask, "What's wrong? You look sort of sad."
"There's nothing wrong."
"Is that why you look as scared as a deer caught in the headlights?"
"There's nothing wrong, it's just that I was kind of hoping that you'd stay with me a while longer. I'll kill you and deny it if you repeat this to anyone, but hospitals creep me out. All of the sickness and the needles and the pastel walls just make me wanna go insane."
I grin. "You wanna hear something funny? Hospitals creep me out too. I'll stay until you fall asleep and then I'll go down to the station. As soon as I'm done, I'll come back and then I won't leave until it's time for you to get discharged. Maybe when this is all over, hospitals won't scare either of us anymore."
Evangeline smiles rapturously as she closes her eyes and drifts off into the Land of Nod. When I'm sure that she's fast asleep, I get up to leave, stopping to kiss her on her forehead and note with some worry that in all the excitement, Evangeline forgot to eat.
I shake my head and smile grimily to myself. I'm going to put an end to this madness before I step foot into the hospital again. And while I promised Evangeline I wouldn't go chasing after RJ or Sonia, she didn't say that I couldn't talk to anyone involved with the Santi case. Boy will she be pissed when she realises what I've done. But I'd much rather face her wrath than face the possibility of life without her.
Epilogue ( for this chapter)
After going through all the evidence and information we had on RJ, I was almost close to finding one piece of information. And I just happen to remember Evangeline telling me about a safe that he keeps hidden behind his stereo system.
All I need is a diversion, something to ensure that RJ won't be home at all. That shouldn't be hard. While I appeal to a judge for a warrant, I have one of my officers arrest RJ for a minor infraction that I know he has made. Of all things, it's a few unpaid parking tickets that offer this distraction. By the time that I've gotten the warrant, RJ is temporarily behind bars.
When I get to his apartment, everything is where Evangeline said it would be. A CD-Rom with names of people in the Santi organization has RJ literally in the palm of my hand. I don't turn in the information right away, because I need time to capture his go betweens. The goal tonight was to get all the info I could on RJ, so that aspect of the investigation could be closed and Evangeline wouldn't have to keep up this tiring charade.
So now I'm sitting up in a overstuffed easy chair, waiting for Evangeline to wake up so I can give her the news. I know she's going to be a little upset that she was wrong about RJ. And I know she is going to be incensed when she finds out that I sort of broke my promise. But in breaking that one, I was keeping an even more important and more sacred promise I had made to her and myself and that was to keep her safe.
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